Fall has begun where I live in the Northern Hemisphere. Today bunches of rosemary scent my home from where they are drying in the dehydrator. As the weather turns cold I’ll crush the dried leaves for soups and stews. This morning I crumbled some of last summer’s rosemary into the tea I’m brewing for kombucha. Our native Paw Paw trees are dropping their fruit on the lawn, our fig trees are fruiting, and I’m hoping for a harvest of Hardy Kiwi if the birds spare any. I care for these trees and they care for me. Gathering their offerings centers me as I observe my sadness about our loss of Justice Ginsburg, the crisis of ongoing injustice toward people of color, and my questions about the state of democracy in my country.
I continually discover anew that in spite of what looks like chaos in the world, we are always in partnership with Earth, and worldwide we are co-creating healing and regeneration, both with one another and our planet. The new film “Kiss the Ground” beautifully illustrates this. I’m often trying to explain the ample evidence that regenerative agriculture, along with the renewable energy transition, can help us to first manage, and then probably reverse, climate change. “Kiss the Ground” offers an engaging journey into understanding how soil care can save Earth and the human future. I hope you’ll watch it and feel inspired! If you want ideas of how you personally can contribute, feel free to write to me. We don’t have to be farmers to participate in soil care for carbon sequestration, healthy ecosystems, and healthy food.
We do need to slow the pace of our lives in order to recognize both our multi-faceted partnership with Earth and the ways regeneration of that partnership is both needed and already occurring. My guest in the latest podcast episode, Dr. Bayo Akomolafe, has become an expert on slowing down to ask deep questions about how to unravel the foundational injustices in our systems that have created both human suffering and environmental crisis. You can find his full bio here. Bayo is a Nigerian scholar and teacher engaged in examining both traditional Yoruba and global worldviews. He lives with his family in southern India. Find the audio of our conversation here and the video here.
In this episode, Dr. Akomolafe and I discuss the wisdom of slowing down in response to climate change. He shares the Yoruba and feminist insight that our response to a crisis is often part of the crisis—solutions that seem to make sense within our current understanding can reinforce the problem. Slowing down is an invitation to a different way of thinking, of noticing and appreciating nature, and of framing or re-framing what it means to be human. He discusses why part of his ‘slowing down’ approach involves unschooling his children.
Bayo explains why making sanctuary feels crucial to him now. It is an invitation to inquire into the world in ways both indigenous and new, seeking types of power beyond whiteness and the nation-state, “trying to acknowledge a world that is animated and vital and alive as an ally in these times, in the Anthropocene.” “Maybe we need sanctuaries today. Places of unlearning mastery. We don’t know what kind of futures are in front of us, but not knowing is part of sanctuary and losing our sense of mastery, outside of the colonial project.” Bayo shares his thoughts on grief as activism, loss as an invitation to new ways of being, and hopelessness as a resource.
He comments on how Yoruba healers and plant medicine teach us to humbly see “the world as alive through and through, each component containing agency” and none complete on its own. This differs from the western scientific project of controlling the natural world. The more we pursue supremacy the more we discover that it’s not attainable because the natural world within us and outside of us is more complex than we can conceive or dominate. Bayo advocates the work of “unlearning mastery, unlearning our domineering and dominating and control perspective” that has led us to try to control other humans and the natural world, to our detriment.
Bayo closes our conversation by suggesting that “a world full of play” might be the best we can imagine for the human future on Earth. This may be our way to access freedom, authenticity, and “the liveliness of the world at large.” Dr. Akomolafe speaks with warmth and insight and I know you’ll find this interview supportive of your own explorations of how we can renew both the human-Earth relationship and our interactions with one another. You can find the audio of our conversation here and the video here.
I’ve recently been interviewed on the Angel Rated Podcast, where I discuss my belief that “We are going to be a thriving species with other thriving species on a well planet. We need to decide that can happen and find our way to participate.” Hear me share how encountering air pollution while parenting toddlers was the beginning of my engagement with environmental issues, why we need to combine the ‘human well-being’ and ‘environmental well-being’ conversations, and how to stop talking ourselves out of our compassionate impulses to renew the world. I also talk about how each of us can find our pathway of contribution to healing people and planet by rediscovering our belief in ourselves and the human species. You can listen here.
For Humans & Earth,