Last night I watched, out of the corner of my eye, the last few minutes of the Pittsburg-Green Bay game. They were playing out doors, in the snow, the way some of us think that football was meant to be played. Our local snowfall last night prompted another round of shoveling stairs and decks and blowing driveways this morning. We're also seeing lots more activity at the feeders when the snow comes down. A few times in the past few days we've had a Northern Flicker at the suet. No photos yet, but we'll watch for an opportunity.
snow covered holiday frenzy © harrington
Have you gotten excited about what you hope to find under the tree on Christmas? Are you thinking yet about resolutions for next year? I'm thinking that local, organic, sustainable, renewable and, with luck, indigenous will play a large part in both my Christmas and my 2014. I read something the other day by Winona LaDuke that made me think (her writing almost always makes me think). She claims that "there is no such thing as sustainable development. Community is the only thing in my experience that is sustainable." As someone who is intimately involved with green building and "sustainable development," I think she has a legitimate point.
white christmas tree © harrington
If we think about development as the conversion of green fields, the natural environment, into a built environment, she's right. If we recognize that much of sustainable development involves restorative (re)development of brown fields or gray fields, if we continue to move toward creating a built environment that is adaptable and long-lasting (not yet a mainstream trend), then I think she's misjudging what sustainable development is trying to accomplish. As I understand it, it's working toward becoming more involved in building communities, not just developing things. That's one of the reasons that sustainable development recognizes social equity is a significant element of sustainable development. Although, I'd definitely like to see more emphasis given to weaving indigenous values into any approach to sustainable development and to doing more to restore that which historically has been "appropriated" (taken) from Native Americans. Wouldn't you like to find some of that under your tree this year, next year, and into a sustainable future? I doubt that we can create the future we want unless we all build it together. So, here's another perspective on indigenous that we can unwrap over the next few days.
—for Melissa L. Whiteman
“Hi, guy,” said I to a robinperched on a pole in the middleof the garden. Pink and yellowfirecracker zinnias, rough greenleaves of broccoli,and deep red tomatoes on dying stemsframe his still presence.
“I’ve heard you’re notTHE REAL ROBIN. Bird watchers haveagreed,” I said.”THE REAL ROBINlives in England. They claimyour are misnamed and that we oughtto call you ‘a red-breasted thrush’because you areindigenous.”
He fluffed up. “Am I notJis ko ko?” he cried, “that persistentwarrior who carries warmthnorthward every spring?”He seemed so young, his red bellya bit light and his wings, stillfaded brown. He watched meuntangling the hose to water squash.
“Look who’s talking!” he chirruped.“Your people didn’t comefrom Europe or even India.The turtles say you’re a relativeto red clay on this great island.”Drops of crystal watersparkled on the squash.
“Indigenous!” he teasedas he flew by.
FOOTNOTES: Jis ko ko is the Iroquoian name for Robin. In the story, he is a young warrior who confronts the old man of winter. The old man uses ice and brutal winds to keep Jis ko ko’s warmth away from the earth. When the old man shoots him on the chest with an arrow of ice, the young man bleeds and transforms into the bird. Even as a bird, he continues his purpose, bringing warm rain and growth—green leaves, flowers and fruit.
Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily.