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Re-enchanting our gardens and our cities

How, by rewilding, might we invite more wonder into our gardens? Our gardens are shared spaces, communities of beings. Who visits? Who doesn't? Why? What moments invite enchantment and wonder? This winter, start your rewilding journey by discovering the stories of the beings with whom you share your garden. We'll explore how rewilding might change who we become as gardeners.

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Re-enchanting our gardens and our cities

  1. 1. Rewilding re-enchanting our gardens and our cities
  2. 2. I’m an assemblage of beings bacteria water minerals soil fungi forest sun plants entangled in the more-than-human world
  3. 3. A settler whose Ukrainian ancestors immigrated to Alberta in the early 20th century
  4. 4. I dwell in a suburb in traditional Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee territory
  5. 5. A place where the land—like the people—was colonized
  6. 6. When we took up residence, my husband, trained in Western science, lobbied for a “normal” front yard
  7. 7. The colonized “normal” that carpets our cities with asphalt, grass and non-native foundation plantings
  8. 8. I rebelled against a colonized “normal” (the influence of my Baba Yaga ancestors?)
  9. 9. And began my rewilding journey into a place-centred life
  10. 10. Seeking wisdom from poets (human & more-than-human) to ferment my assumptions
  11. 11. Now imagine the inner: soul, intelligence, the secret worlds! And don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous. ~Rumi
  12. 12. To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. ~Simone Weil
  13. 13. Like Freya Mathews, starting just where I was Little did I expect that this attempt to re-enchant my neighbourhood would result in the re-enchantment of my own life… as if a long-lost elixir were bubbling back up from archaic springs, and bringing my arrested existence to life. ~Freya Matthews
  14. 14. This winter, as spirit moon rises, I invite you to entangle your own riotous roots in a journey of place-centred enchantment
  15. 15. For me, this place-centred rewilding journey is entangled with the question: What do forests have to teach us?
  16. 16. Becoming apprentice Becoming rooted Becoming walnut
  17. 17. What does it mean to understand walnutiness*? Becoming walnut
  18. 18. How does this being see themselves? Walnut this being is How do I see this thing? It’s a walnut
  19. 19. This shift—from seeing things to beings—oddly enough began with a story of an apple
  20. 20. Of an inanimate being, like a table, we say “What is it?” And we answer “Dopwen yewee. Table it is.” But of apple, we must say “Who is that being?” and reply “Mshimin yawe. Apple that being is.” To speak of those possessed with life and spirit we must say yawe. ~Robin Wall Kimmerer
  21. 21. Meet the forest being with whom I share my land, walnut hickory forest this being is
  22. 22. A forest gifted to this land by squirrels, much loved by walnut & hickory elder for their faulty memories “Bird memories are... a tree's dream of the future.” ~David Haskell
  23. 23. Who is walnut? What is walnutiness?
  24. 24. characteristics behaviours needs How does this being see itself & its situation? gifts
  25. 25. characteristics behaviours needs How does this being see itself & its situation? gifts
  26. 26. characteristics behaviours needs How does this being see themselves & their situation? gifts
  27. 27. ?what’s missing? characteristics behaviours needs gifts
  28. 28. Next time you walk through a forest, look down. A city lies under your feet. If you were somehow to descend into the earth, you would find yourself surrounded by the city’s architecture of webs and filaments. ~Anna Tsing, Arts of Inclusion, or How to Love a Mushroom
  29. 29. characteristics behaviours needs How does this being see themselves & their situation? gifts relations
  30. 30. characteristics behaviours needs How does this being see themselves & their situation? gifts relations animating spirit (breath)
  31. 31. Breath means community, means sharing, means letting yourself be imagined by others: by humans, by non-human others, by non-animate others, as stone, and sand, and air. ~Andreas Weber, the commonwealth of breath
  32. 32. characteristics behaviours needs gifts relations language animating spirit (breath) How does this being see themselves & their situation?
  33. 33. Tired of all who come with words, words but no language I went to the snow-covered island. The untamed has no words. The unwritten pages spread out on every side! I come across the marks of deer in the snow. Language, but no words. ~Tomas Tranströmer, poet
  34. 34. ? [A plant being] is always contributing to the environment that supports [their] own life and the life of other [beings]. ~Craig Holdredge, Thinking Like a Plant
  35. 35. Black Walnut Guild
  36. 36. Killer trees or misunderstood beings yearning for us to learn their language?
  37. 37. behaviours How does this being see themselves & their situation?
  38. 38. Does anyone know the plant being to whom these leaves belong?
  39. 39. Meet field buttercup (Ranunculus acris) in motion
  40. 40. How we see plant beings transforms as we deepen our relationships—learning plantiness, plant language—through time
  41. 41. Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. ~Mary Oliver
  42. 42. Invitations: How does this place feel?
  43. 43. When you meet a plant being, Robin Wall Kimmerer suggests some questions you might ask: What is this being telling me? What are ways I can listen? Who are you? Why are you here? What have you brought us? Let’s get to know you and what you are bringing. What do you need? What are your relationships? Who is your family? How do you fit in? Who do you dream of becoming?
  44. 44. What does it mean for forest to know me? Becoming apprentice
  45. 45. cultivate relations with forest becoming apprentice ID forest being a master gardener
  46. 46. Meet the forest being I’m apprenticing with
  47. 47. This question in my heart “Humans can speak to forests. And forests can speak back...What does it mean to speak? What does it mean to listen?” ~Eduardo Kohn
  48. 48. What is this tree—perhaps dreaming of becoming a forest elder—saying?
  49. 49. Wolf trees, too wild & untidy for plantation forests, were once disparaged as “forest ulcers” to be eradicated
  50. 50. Wolf tree—mother, grandmother, elder—joyously shares her story with those willing to learn her language Plants tell their stories not by what they say, but what they do. ~Robin Wall Kimmerer
  51. 51. To learn the language of forest, I’m adopting the mindset of allokataplixis “the gift, usually unacknowledged, the traveller offers to the places they visit” ~Liam Heneghan, Ecologist
  52. 52. From the Greek allo meaning ‘other’ & katapliktiko meaning ‘wonder’, it’s the mindset of a traveller paying attention
  53. 53. Paying attention to the language of bark, touching oak to feel myself touched by oak To touch the coarse skin of an oak tree with one’s fingers is also, at the same moment, to experience one’s own tactility, to feel oneself touched by the tree. Similarly, to gaze out at a forested hillside is also to feel one’s own visibility, and to feel oneself exposed to that hillside - to feel oneself seen by those trees. ~Monica Gagliano, evolutionary ecologist Monica Gagliano
  54. 54. Learning to see formerly mundane or hidden layers of beauty and function opens up a world of detail and nuance that allow what is local to become spectacular, bringing us closer to home. ~Michael Wojtech, Bark
  55. 55. Instead of a blur of brown and gray trunks, I now see individual trees with species names and a host of ecological relationships. ~Michael Wojtech, Bark
  56. 56. Paying attention to the ordinary, asking “what does robin have to teach me?” rather than allowing familiarity “it’s just a robin” to dim enchantment
  57. 57. Warping the doors of perception by personifying plant persons, rock persons, animal persons...
  58. 58. Turkey persons! We need to allow ourselves to be open to the subjective agency at the heart of every ‘thing’ in the world so that we can speak and act appropriately in their presence and on their behalf… allowing a strange kind of intimacy to develop in which the urge to control is replaced by a quickening awe at the astonishing intelligence that lies at the heart of all things… This way of speaking recognises that for our sensing, feeling and intuition the whole of nature is a vast encompassing being, whereas for our thinking it is also a complex, interconnected system. ~Stephan Harding, Animate Earth
  59. 59. ...language [is] a mirror for seeing the animacy of the world, the life that pulses through all things… This is the language I hear in the woods; this is the language that lets us speak of what wells up all around us... This is the grammar of animacy. ~Robin Wall Kimmerer
  60. 60. Is the tree as it rises delighted with its many branches, each one like a poem? Are the clouds glad to unburden their bundles of rain? Most of the world says no, no, it’s not possible. I refuse to think to such a conclusion. Too terrible it would be, to be wrong. ~Mary Oliver
  61. 61. What if adaptation is intelligence and dialogue? Creative more-than-human agency?
  62. 62. We share the same trembling for our existence, its future, its unfolding, its flourishing. These are feelings that any autonomous living creature experiences. ~Andreas Weber
  63. 63. Seeing their agency, their trembling for existence, not frozen in the moment but through time… meeting downy, meeting bear, meeting bay
  64. 64. ‘meeting the bear’... included the time before we arrived, as well as the time after we left. For me, the bear was a noun, the subject of a sentence; for them, it was a verb, the gerund ‘bearing’. ~Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams
  65. 65. A bay is a noun only if water is dead. When bay is a noun, it is defined by humans, trapped between its shores and contained by the word. But the verb wiikwegamaa—to be a bay—releases the water from bondage and lets it live. “To be a bay” holds the wonder that, for this moment, the living water has decided to shelter itself between these shores, conversing with cedar roots and a flock of baby mergansers. Because it could do otherwise—become a stream or an ocean or a waterfall ~Robin Wall Kimmerer
  66. 66. Exploring place-based meanings of time “forgetting about the clock, the days and months, but think about organizing yourself through environmental changes and longer term trends.” ~Kyle Powys Whyte, Indigenous scientist & climate change expert
  67. 67. Some fly fishers, hunters and birders speak this language “Chittering swallows signal their discovery of a hatch of river mayflies”
  68. 68. In these sounds we learn that there are not just four seasons, but dozens or hundreds. Bird sounds reveal the polyrhythms of a living Earth. ~David Haskell, The Voices of Birds
  69. 69. Wake of turkey vultures circles Cathartes aura means purifier and air
  70. 70. When frost comes, bumblebees hibernate
  71. 71. In the 72 microseasons of Japan there is a slower, almost imperceptible slide into each next stage. Felt as well as visualized: Thunder ceases Insects hole up underground Wild geese return Crickets chirp around the door Light rains sometimes fall Maple leaves and ivy turn yellow
  72. 72. Bumblebees hibernate, buds swell, swallows return, toothwort emerges... Part of our responsibility… is to carefully give our attention to the changes, especially the most subtle. ~Val Plumwood
  73. 73. As I cultivate the art of relationship, I am beginning to gift names to some of the forest beings, places & stories
  74. 74. Chicken fat pines
  75. 75. Gifting our attention & accepting the gifts offered in return invites us into the enchantment of multi-species kinship
  76. 76. Most of us are taught, somehow, about giving and accepting human gifts, but not about opening ourselves and our bodies to welcome the sun, the land, the visions of sky and dreaming, not about standing in the rain ecstatic with what is offered. ~Linda Hogan, Dwellings
  77. 77. It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, it could be weeds in a vacant lot, or a few small stones; just pay attention, then patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak ~Mary Oliver, Praying
  78. 78. Invitations
  79. 79. How might I support multispecies resurgence? Becoming rooted
  80. 80. seeding forests as refugia Helping the land remember* earth-centric Planting trees for climate Healing the land Human-centric
  81. 81. Meaningful sustainability requires multispecies resurgence, that is, the remaking of livable landscapes through the actions of many organisms. ~Anna Tsing, Anthropologist
  82. 82. I now see my work as supporting multispecies resurgence, sending cracks through my human-centric worldview
  83. 83. Exploring an Earth-centric worldview “learning from intelligences other than our own” ~Robin Wall Kimmerer
  84. 84. In asking how I might support multispecies resurgence, tiny forests captured my imagination “it’s time to restore our forest heritage, not plant more lonely trees” ~ Peter Wohlleben
  85. 85. Instead of our human-centric obsession with planting trees
  86. 86. I seek an Earth-centric approach, forming community with tiny forests
  87. 87. Might tiny forests—kinship clusters—become mother patches? Keepers of wisdom, memory, story?
  88. 88. Enchanting our cities with the language, the stories, the animacy of the more-than-human world
  89. 89. Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us. ~Robin Wall Kimmerer we help the land remember (rewild the land) the land helps us remember (rewild ourselves)
  90. 90. Meet Lakeside, with whom I’m conspiring to plant a tiny forest—rewilding the land, rewilding myself, reinhabiting place
  91. 91. To engage with the larger life of things, to encounter the intelligence in the world, and to be borne along on the current of its unfolding, is to experience re-enchantment… To belong to the world is to engage with it concretely,,, and we can only engage with the world concretely through particular places. Truly to reinhabit places then is to re-enter the stream of a larger life, to experience re-enchantment. ~Freya Matthews, environmental philosopher
  92. 92. To invest a place with our life is, as Aboriginal people say, to ‘sing it up’, to awaken its own life and capacity for recognition: the place claims us, as we claim it. ~Freya Matthews
  93. 93. Invitations
  94. 94. When you meet a place, some questions you might ask: What is this place telling me? What are ways I can listen? Who did this land used to be? Who is this land now? Who does this land dream of becoming? How is land re-becoming herself?
  95. 95. The big shift ...in horticulture over the next decade is a shift from thinking about plants as individual objects to thinking about plants as social networks—that is, communities of compatible species interwoven in dense mosaics. ~Thomas Rainer
  96. 96. ?
  97. 97. The big shift … in horticulture over the next decade is a shift from thinking about plants as things to thinking about plants as persons—as kin—manifesting intelligence and agency in multispecies entanglements
  98. 98. We’ve been invited by the birds, the trees, the forests, the more-than-human world... “Let’s answer their invitation, stepping outside to give them the simple gift of our attention. Listen. Wonder. Belong.” ~David G. Haskell
  99. 99. Listen: Notice the sacredness of where you are. The mysteriousness of where you are. This is a different notion of indigeneity altogether... a living breathing vocation of noticing the enchantment that is around us, in us, with us, wherever we are. ~Bayo Akomolafe
  100. 100. This is a time for straying, for losing one’s way, for asking new questions. A sacred activism. A slowing down that knows enchantment is not in short supply. ~Bayo Akomolafe
  101. 101. Close your eyes. Allow the earth and its spirit to seep into you. You are safe and you belong. ~Noel de Sa, mentor and guide, national coordinator for Kids for Tigers you are safe you belong you are wild You breath the Earth and the Earth breaths you. Feel the touch of the Earth. Feel the enchantment around you, in you, with you. Feel the roots down there riotous Grow wild. Garden as if you were writing poetry, a song, a love letter to the more-than-human world. Let’s rise up, together. Rooted, like trees.*
  102. 102. joyce_hostyn@yahoo.com twitter: @joyce_hostyn medium: @joyce_hostyn rewildmycity.com rideau1000islandsmastergardeners.com lakesidecommunitygarden.org We could all use a little more slavic witch in our lives. ~Taisia Kitaiskaia