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EarthLab Equity & Justice Reads: Braiding Sweetgrass

One of EarthLab’s stated priorities is to put equity and justice at the core of our work. What does it mean, specifically, to center equity and justice at EarthLab? One key aspect is staff learning, and specifically our Equity & Justice book club, in order to develop shared values and language through discussions and shared readings and experiences.

This quarter, we have selected to read Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

EarthLab selected this book to better understand Indigenous knowledge systems and how we can uplift these voices in our work. Several EarthLab Innovation Grants teams are currently working with Tribal communities in their research.

About Braiding Sweetgrass, the publisher writes:

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.

The EarthLab Equity & Justice book club meetings are open to all EarthLab and EarthLab member organization faculty, postdocs and staff, but we invite everyone to read along with us. To date, we have explored equity and justice topics such as racism, through White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo and So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo; the urban-rural class divide, through Heartland: A Memoir of Being Broke and Working Hard in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh; and sexism, through Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly.