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Giving back to the Earth,Reciprocity—returning the gift


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#1 Skywatcher

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Posted 13 January 2017 - 11:01 PM

We are showered every day with the gifts of the Earth, gifts we have neither earned nor paid for: air to breathe, nurturing rain, black soil, berries and honeybees, the tree that became this page, a bag of rice and the exuberance of a field of goldenrod and asters at full bloom.
Though the Earth provides us with all that we need, we have created a consumption-driven economy that asks, “What more can we take from the Earth?” and almost never “What does the Earth ask of us in return?”

The premise of Earth asking something of me—of me!—makes my heart swell. I celebrate the implicit recognition of the Earth’s animacy, that the living planet has the capacity to ask something of us and that we have the capacity to respond. We are not passive recipients of her gifts, but active participants in her well-being. We are honored by the request. It lets us know that we belong.

For much of human’s time on the planet, before the great delusion, we lived in cultures that understood the covenant of reciprocity, that for the Earth to stay in balance, for the gifts to continue to flow, we must give back in equal measure for what we take.

In the teachings of many of our ancestors, responsibilities and gifts are understood as two sides of the same coin. The possession of a gift is coupled with a duty to use it for the benefit of all. A thrush is given the gift of song—and so has a responsibility to greet the day with music. Salmon have the gift of travel, so they accept the duty of carrying food upriver. So when we ask ourselves, what is our responsibility to the Earth, we are also asking, “What is our gift?”
As human people, most recently evolved here, we lack the gifts of our companion species, of nitrogen fixation, pollination, and 3000-mile migrations under magnetic guidance. We can’t even photosynthesize. But we carry gifts of our own, which the Earth urgently needs. Among the most potent of these is gratitude.

Gratitude may seem like weak tea given the desperate challenges that lie before us, but it is powerful medicine, much more than a simple thank you. Giving thanks implies recognition not only of the gift, but of the giver. When I eat an apple, my gratitude is directed to that wide-armed tree whose tart offspring are now in my mouth, whose life has become my own. Gratitude is founded on the deep knowing that our very existence relies on the gifts of beings who can in fact photosynthesize. Gratitude propels the recognition of the personhood of all beings and challenges the fallacy of human exceptionalism—the idea that we are somehow better, more deserving of the wealth and services of the Earth than other species.

The evolutionary advantage for cultures of gratitude is compelling. This human emotion has adaptive value, because it engenders practical outcomes for sustainability. The practice of gratitude can, in a very real way, lead to the practice of self-restraint, of taking only what we need. Acknowledging the gifts that surround us creates a sense of satisfaction, a feeling of enough-ness which is an antidote to the societal messages that drill into our spirits telling us we must have more. Practicing contentment is a radical act in a consumption-driven society.
Indigenous story traditions are full of cautionary tales about the failure of gratitude. When people forget to honor the gift, the consequences are always material as well as spiritual. The spring dries up, the corn doesn’t grow, the animals do not return, and the legions of offended plants and animals and rivers rise up against the ones who neglected gratitude. The Western storytelling tradition is strangely silent on this matter, and so we find ourselves in an era when we are rightly afraid of the climate we have created.

We human people have protocols for gratitude; we apply them formally to one another. We say thank you. We understand that receiving a gift incurs a responsibility to give a gift in return. The next step in our cultural evolution, if we are to persist as a species on this beautiful planet, is to expand our protocols for gratitude to the living Earth. Gratitude is most powerful as a response to the Earth because it provides an opening to reciprocity, to the act of giving back.
Reciprocity—returning the gift—is not just good manners; it is how the biophysical world works. Balance in ecological systems arises from negative feedback loops, from cycles of giving and taking. Reciprocity among parts of the living Earth produces equilibrium, in which life as we know it can flourish. When the gift is in motion, it can last forever. Positive feedback loops, in which interactions spur one another away from balance, produce radical change, often to a point of no return.

How can we reciprocate the gifts of the Earth?

We must recognize ourselves as only one member of the great democracy of species and understand that we, like every other successful organism, must play by the rules that govern ecosystem function. Unlimited growth is not possible. In a finite world, we cannot relentlessly take without replenishment.

Long before the descent of humans, a solar economy of plants created a living world from inanimate materials, constantly regenerating life through networks of reciprocity. Industrial economies are hell-bent on reversing that process, converting the gloriously animate to cold dead products with stunning efficiency. Our paths on the Earth are shaped by what we love the most. We participate in economies that appear to love profits for a few members of one species more than a good green world for all. We have a choice to invest our love otherwise. We must align our economies with ecological principles and human integrity.

Ecological restoration is an act of reciprocity and the Earth asks us to turn our gifts to healing the damage we have done. The Earth-shaping prowess that we thoughtlessly use to sicken the land can be used to heal it. It is not just the land that is broken, but our relationship with land. We can be medicine for the Earth, partners in renewal.

Reciprocity is rooted in the understanding that we are not alone, that the Earth is populated by non-human persons, wise and inventive beings deserving of our respect. We tolerate governance that grants legal personhood and free speech to corporations but denies that respect to voiceless salamanders and sugar maples. The Earth asks that we be their voice.

The Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth has been presented to the United Nations. I think the Earth is asking for our vote.
Gratitude is our first, but not our only gift. We are storytellers, music makers, devisers of ingenious machines, healers, scientists, and lovers of an Earth who asks that we give our own unique gifts on behalf of life.

Let us live in a way that Earth will be grateful for us.

(with Thanks to Robin Wall Kimmerer)

Edited by PsyBearknot, 14 January 2017 - 02:29 PM.

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#2 Skywatcher

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Posted 13 January 2017 - 11:06 PM

One of the best and easiest ways we can give back to the Earth is by Composting.

 

The state of our environment has gotten so bad, that if you`re paying attention and have a bone of compassion in your body, it`s more than a little disturbing. A lump of trash is floating in the water near the North Pole twice the size of France; it`s about 33 feet deep. Landfills around the world are overloaded. "First world" trash is shipped to "third world" countries and people living near the dump sites are getting sick. Even our healthy foods have become nutrient deplete because of improperly cared for soils, and all while literally millions of pounds of pesticides are dumped onto the land daily.
 
In light of the obvious problems, and the reluctance for real change from a top down approach, a lot of people have started wondering what they, individually, can do about these problems that seem larger than any one of us. Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions that, in their own ways, address many of the problems above.
 
One of those answers is composting, or turning your kitchen and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil. Composting is a fun project, and it`s one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do.
 
Composting works on environmental problems on a number of levels.
 
The truth is: if you eat a fresh fruit and vegetable oriented diet, recycle all you can, and compost all you can, there really isn`t much left to send to the landfill. If you`re already recycling, and simply start composting, many families can reduce the amount of trash leaving the house by half or more.
 
By composting instead of sending the waste to the landfill, you`re actively reducing the amounts of greenhouse gasses created in the landfill, and the compost itself pulls the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the air.
 
It`s estimated that a fifth acre garden with compost tilled into the top 8 inches of soil can remove 19,000 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere. That offsets about one and a half years of an average American`s carbon emissions.
 
When your compost has finished, you can use it to fertilize your yard - and end the use of store bought or chemical fertilizers. This makes your yard (and the air around your home) safer for you and your family, while feeding optimal nutrition to the Earth and creating an optimal growing environment. It`s said that well composted soil helps with every growing problem, including pests and drainage.
 
Once your soil has been brought to life with your nutrient-dense compost, you might be encouraged to plant a few fruit trees, vegetables, or herb bushes to regularly provide fresh pesticide-free foods for your family in a sustainable manner.
 
While composting isn`t the whole answer, it`s a great start in the right direction. Another big improvement is to simply avoid plastics whenever possible. Plastics, particularly plastic bags, aren`t easily recyclable. In fact, each grocery store plastic bag costs only 1 cent to make, but far more to recycle. That`s why so many of them are floating up near the North Pole.
 
How to Compost
 
For the uninitiated, composting might seem overwhelming, but once you know the basics, it`s simple. Here`s a quick run down on the basics of composting.
 
One of the most important things is that you need about 1/3 greens to 2/3 browns for it to be successful. But, what does this mean? Generally speaking, greens are from your kitchen and anything green from your yard. Brown is anything brown from your yard (including dried grass and leaves), and can also include cardboard, paper towels, and newspaper. Waste from a cat or dog should not be added to the pile.
 
If you don`t have enough browns your nitrogen balance will be off and you`ll know this because your compost will start to smell, which is undesirable. The green brown ratio doesn`t need to be exact, but keep in mind that you`ll need more browns than greens. And if it starts to smell, just add more browns, mix it up, and it should become fine.
 
All fruit and vegetable waste is fair game for composting, but don`t use processed foods, dairy, egg, or meat remains; they`ll rot (in a bad way) or attract animals. Egg shells are fine. They add calcium, but if you use them, rinse and crush them; they take a while to decompose. If you want to speed your results, cut up your kitchen remains before adding them to your compost pile.
 
You`ll need an area of your yard for composting or a compost bin. You can buy a professional bin, or make one with a container you already have. Either way, the size should be in line with the amount you`ll be composting. It should be kept in a warm place that ideally is a little away from your house.
 
Once your bin or composting area is all set up, just toss everything in and mix it up. Then toss in some dirt to give it the microbes needed to start the decomposition process. Then add a layer of browns to the top, which will trap the heat inside and discourage pests.
 
Your compost should be a little damp, but not soaked which can lead to fungal growth. Your compost should also have access to air, as opposed to being sealed. You can and should "turn" or stir your compost somewhat regularly, at least every week or two. Turning your compost will give it air and speed the process along. After turning it or adding more greens, add a light layer of browns to the top.
 
The length of time it`ll take to decompose depends on a couple of factors, including the temperature of the compost, the size of the pieces, how often you turn it, the size of the compost, and more. Depending on these factors, it can take anywhere from a month to several months to completely decompose.
 
Some people keep two bins going simultaneously. One can be added to on a continual basis while the other is left to compost without new materials being added. When the fully composted material is finished and used, a new batch is started, and the pile that was previously the "add to" pile becomes the pile that just sits to compost.
 
Keep in mind, there are many different approaches to composting out there. The above is the down and dirty for the beginning composter, and should be enough to get you started.

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#3 PsyBearknot

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 12:17 AM

Beautiful my friend!
Thank you for posting

So many things I want to say, but will wait for later. for now I will let these words I have read sink in right after I go out side and ground my self with gratitude to Mother Earth.

Thank you Skye!
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#4 Skywatcher

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 12:54 AM

We all have the power to mend and heal, gifts that are sometimes forgotten. 

Gratitude is so simple, yet grows so many ways.

 

I hope to inspire, to give reason for going back to the land in our actions. Our spirit is not separated from the energy of this living earth, we are all one, and need to remember this.


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#5 Alder Logs

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 09:29 AM

This is my first itroduction to the words of Robin Wall Kimmerer.  I was very happy to see these words at the end:

 

 

We are storytellers, music makers, devisers of ingenious machines, healers, scientists, and lovers of an Earth who asks that we give our own unique gifts on behalf of life.

 

So many people who wish to call themselves things like, "environmentalist," or, "Earth steward," view human innovation as a problem.   We, as a species, invent, innovate, experiment.   Previous world civilizations have ended because we do these things.   But, we seem to be wired to do them, nonetheless.   As Edgar Cayce's trance readings tell us, while Atlantis sank under the ocean for its misuse of invention, many of us here in this time are returned Atlanteans.   Do we have some high-tech karma to balance?  I suspect we do. 

 

We are the devisers of ingenious machines.  I am so happy to see Robin Kimmerer including this as part of our potential gifts.    For it is not the inventing, but the spirit in which it is done.   Life can be respected, or it can be denied, as we move through our time here, doing whatever it is we do, as a human being.   

 

 

[Direct Link]


Edited by Alder Logs, 14 January 2017 - 09:30 AM.

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#6 PsyBearknot

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 11:20 AM

Someone put it in a post here as well if I remember right a guide setting on a compost like called him this...but I ove the phrase "we are the dirt makers"

I love that this was posted in urban garden. I do not think the connection has fully been realized for the urban core that we ARE dirt-makers as well and in a similar but different way that is as important as composting in the suburban back yard or the homestead/permaculture in rural or more remote areas.

The above message gets lost or sucked into the consumer mode and the vast food deserts that the urban core is. It is the challenge urban gardners have the ability to and I feel the responsibility to help educate to.

I can hardly comprehend that my neighbor above me had never had a tomatoe off a plant before. Thought I was growing more of the weeds I had ripped out of the back yard to out the garden in. But the look of wonder and delight when she held a bucket of fresh tomatoes and a arm full of kale and chard and the flowers that welcomed her after she returned survivng cancer treatment is what it is all about.

But it starts with you, me, and the other dirt-makers out there and those who don't yet know this is who they are!


Composting is such the begenning building block of life for us and it can be done from the smallest kitchen can, bucket on the balcony or pike in the yard! Schools, churches, community center and empty lots is what our assets are in the urban core. We just need to use them!
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#7 Heirloom Spores

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 12:53 PM

Beautiful, informative and spiritual.


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#8 Alder Logs

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 01:27 PM

I hadn't noticed this was an urban deal.  Even though I am very rural, I don't really garden.  I did when I was younger, in my twenties and early thirties, but it was always hard, as I have always had limited movement in this body.  Even as a kid, I could not play board games on the floor without pain.  I have to work standing for the most part.  I just couldn't do the bending and squatting for so much garden work.  In an urban scene, there would be more standing jobs, as things could be up off the ground or floors.  But my days as a sod buster are long past.  I used to double dig beds, some three spades deep.  That was standing up work, but the bending got too hard.    These days, I will do whatever I can for my neighbors with my tractors.   That's mostly limited to rotovating for new beds, but the way we do it, that's a one time deal.   I hope someday to get my greenhouse going.  It's 20' X 48'.  I want to make it into two 24'.  All that will take is adding one more frame, and I found one at the dump!


Edited by Alder Logs, 14 January 2017 - 03:17 PM.

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#9 Arathu

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 06:07 PM

She smiles every time I walk to the North and place more dirt food on the pile...................it's starting to look like I'm building a mound of sorts.......which of course WE (I just carry the food there and stir it in and "they" eat it into dirt) are! I've been known to inoculate landfills with fungi, just like I do compost heaps, a kind of destructive/constructive/reconstructive vector of sorts. Sometimes Mother Earth and the individual land spirits just want to be remembered, they want US to feel what they do. We desperately need to begin FEELING DEEPLY and perceiving with our hearts again and everything else around us needs this too. Turn that blasted TV off, stop practicing our comfort driven destructive consumerism, and return to our honorable place as caretakers and stewards of this PARADISE.

 

It is my personal gnosis that the fear of death is being exploited on a massive scale to the extreme as the basis for this insanity. That's just my view of it. Sadly......even our western burial practices and rituals turn human remains into toxic waste.......it's mass insanity! Great post folks!

 

A       


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#10 Arathu

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 06:15 PM

I don't have enough LIKES for this so I'm just going to babble on and on.................you poor Topiate's!

 

"Hey ma, they got Arathu all wound up about making dirt again" ................. "He's probably going start another insane thread or something!"

 

 

 

Holy Mother Earth,

please watch over your children,

that I may not betray thee again,

an when I fail please forgive me,

at the passing of the winter of my life,

shall I return this body to the soil,

and my spirit to you

So shall it be!


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#11 wildedibles

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 09:00 AM

One of the best and easiest ways we can give back to the Earth is by Composting.
 
The state of our environment has gotten so bad, that if you`re paying attention and have a bone of compassion in your body, it`s more than a little disturbing. A lump of trash is floating in the water near the North Pole twice the size of France; it`s about 33 feet deep. Landfills around the world are overloaded. "First world" trash is shipped to "third world" countries and people living near the dump sites are getting sick. Even our healthy foods have become nutrient deplete because of improperly cared for soils, and all while literally millions of pounds of pesticides are dumped onto the land daily.
 
In light of the obvious problems, and the reluctance for real change from a top down approach, a lot of people have started wondering what they, individually, can do about these problems that seem larger than any one of us. Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions that, in their own ways, address many of the problems above.
 
One of those answers is composting, or turning your kitchen and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil. Composting is a fun project, and it`s one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do.
 
Composting works on environmental problems on a number of levels.
 
The truth is: if you eat a fresh fruit and vegetable oriented diet, recycle all you can, and compost all you can, there really isn`t much left to send to the landfill. If you`re already recycling, and simply start composting, many families can reduce the amount of trash leaving the house by half or more.
 
By composting instead of sending the waste to the landfill, you`re actively reducing the amounts of greenhouse gasses created in the landfill, and the compost itself pulls the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the air.
 
It`s estimated that a fifth acre garden with compost tilled into the top 8 inches of soil can remove 19,000 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere. That offsets about one and a half years of an average American`s carbon emissions.
 
When your compost has finished, you can use it to fertilize your yard - and end the use of store bought or chemical fertilizers. This makes your yard (and the air around your home) safer for you and your family, while feeding optimal nutrition to the Earth and creating an optimal growing environment. It`s said that well composted soil helps with every growing problem, including pests and drainage.
 
Once your soil has been brought to life with your nutrient-dense compost, you might be encouraged to plant a few fruit trees, vegetables, or herb bushes to regularly provide fresh pesticide-free foods for your family in a sustainable manner.
 
While composting isn`t the whole answer, it`s a great start in the right direction. Another big improvement is to simply avoid plastics whenever possible. Plastics, particularly plastic bags, aren`t easily recyclable. In fact, each grocery store plastic bag costs only 1 cent to make, but far more to recycle. That`s why so many of them are floating up near the North Pole.
 
How to Compost
 
For the uninitiated, composting might seem overwhelming, but once you know the basics, it`s simple. Here`s a quick run down on the basics of composting.
 
One of the most important things is that you need about 1/3 greens to 2/3 browns for it to be successful. But, what does this mean? Generally speaking, greens are from your kitchen and anything green from your yard. Brown is anything brown from your yard (including dried grass and leaves), and can also include cardboard, paper towels, and newspaper. Waste from a cat or dog should not be added to the pile.
 
If you don`t have enough browns your nitrogen balance will be off and you`ll know this because your compost will start to smell, which is undesirable. The green brown ratio doesn`t need to be exact, but keep in mind that you`ll need more browns than greens. And if it starts to smell, just add more browns, mix it up, and it should become fine.
 
All fruit and vegetable waste is fair game for composting, but don`t use processed foods, dairy, egg, or meat remains; they`ll rot (in a bad way) or attract animals. Egg shells are fine. They add calcium, but if you use them, rinse and crush them; they take a while to decompose. If you want to speed your results, cut up your kitchen remains before adding them to your compost pile.
 
You`ll need an area of your yard for composting or a compost bin. You can buy a professional bin, or make one with a container you already have. Either way, the size should be in line with the amount you`ll be composting. It should be kept in a warm place that ideally is a little away from your house.
 
Once your bin or composting area is all set up, just toss everything in and mix it up. Then toss in some dirt to give it the microbes needed to start the decomposition process. Then add a layer of browns to the top, which will trap the heat inside and discourage pests.
 
Your compost should be a little damp, but not soaked which can lead to fungal growth. Your compost should also have access to air, as opposed to being sealed. You can and should "turn" or stir your compost somewhat regularly, at least every week or two. Turning your compost will give it air and speed the process along. After turning it or adding more greens, add a light layer of browns to the top.
 
The length of time it`ll take to decompose depends on a couple of factors, including the temperature of the compost, the size of the pieces, how often you turn it, the size of the compost, and more. Depending on these factors, it can take anywhere from a month to several months to completely decompose.
 
Some people keep two bins going simultaneously. One can be added to on a continual basis while the other is left to compost without new materials being added. When the fully composted material is finished and used, a new batch is started, and the pile that was previously the "add to" pile becomes the pile that just sits to compost.
 
Keep in mind, there are many different approaches to composting out there. The above is the down and dirty for the beginning composter, and should be enough to get you started.


Very important for our future landfills will fill up and well it has to go somewhere in Canada we just filled a lake bed that was a mine before with landfill?? and well our citys sell it use to sell it to you guys and well who knows what other countrys ....some of it will be gone threw for presious metals to recycle ??

we need to get the food out of our garbage the best we can I compost but what to do with the meat stuff?? This is a reason I need a dog around a dog will eat any left over meat and the veggie stuff goes in the compost well there is not much left but recycle and plastic bags....if you try and not buy plastic and strophome the better use the paper mushroom bags for other loose veggie and fruit or use material reusable washable bags for fruit and veggies (weigh it without the bag) ....If you buy dried herbs in bulk bring in your empty spice jar and refill it ......buy meat from places that use meat paper instead of... :)

Sometimes giving back means making better choices when we spend our money ....Just think after this purchace what will be left for the land if its too much plastic wrap maybe we should keep our money and buy something that willmake less of a mess




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