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  • Writer's pictureHannah Newell

The Power of Story - E3 WA 2021 Conference Opening

Wisdom from the field, lessons from the heart.

What does a Land Acknowledgement mean and how do we understand ourselves based on the context of the place that we each reside?

A land acknowledgement can be filled with meaning and action and it can also be performative and misplaced. There are many resources to share land acknowledgements, but one component that seems to continue coming up is that they must have meaning to the speaker.

Sylvia Hadnot and Derek Hoshiko, Co-Chairs for the Board at E3 Washington opened the day with story. Sylvia repeated the story of the land and the people in which she resides and encouraged attendees to recognize whose land they are on and what stories they know whether present or past. Here are a few resources that were shared:

Derek then shared the story of E3. Educators for the environment, equity and economy. E3 Washington continues to vision what the field of environmental and sustainability education is, how we include communities in this work - reaching across sectors, and how we make the connection between research, understanding, and action.

At the heart of the efforts of E3 WA is building equity. Asking the questions, how can we be more human together? And how will leaning into our humanity make our work more effective?

Take a look at the number of people who are doing this work alongside you on E3 WA's asset map. Together we are stronger.

Keynote Speaker - Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer

Tell your story. That is how we identify connection and partnerships. The opening words from Jon Claymore (Executive Director of the Office of Native Education at OSPI) set the stage for Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer. Jon described his role at OSPI and the importance of Elders being a part of the schooling process, knowing they are our teachers who were entrusted to oversee the sacred act of knowledge sharing.

Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer described the elders we learn from as the Earth itself and the creatures that reside on it. Using the Western science definition of sustainability, it is easy to see how we look at the relationship between human and Earth as extractive, thinking about how we sustain the ability to take from the Earth. Instead, she poses the question:

"What does the Earth ask of us?"

To reciprocate the gifts of Earth, we must pay attention to what we see, both the pain and the joy. Look at a forest and see both the trees and the clearcut so that the whole story is known.

Learn the names of that which is around you. How would it be possible to pay attention to that which you don't even know is there?

Come into relationship with what is around you and use respect. Avoid moral exclusion through the use of the word 'it' in reference to the beings on Earth. Reclaim the grammar of animacy with new pronouns that give respect to a being instead of objectifying and making them less than human.

Lastly, she closes with with the ways in which to honorably harvest the beings of Earth in which we are in relationship with.

The Honorable Harvest:

  • Never take the first

  • Ask permission

  • Listen for the answer

  • Take only what you need

  • Use everything that you take

  • Minimize harm

  • Be grateful

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