Wege Series to Host Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer
by Julie Petersen
The Wege Foundation is hosting the 24th annual Wege Speaker Series on Thursday, May 27, at 4 p.m. This year’s event will be virtual. Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, will give a presentation titled “Healing Relationships with the Natural World.”
The first 200 registrants to the event will have the opportunity to receive a discounted price on a signed copy of Dr. Kimmerer’s latest book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants.
“Dr. Kimmerer teaches us how to restore healthy relationships with each other and with the environment,” said Wege Foundation President Mark Van Putten. “She offers an inclusive vision for Grand Rapids in planning to restore the Grand River rapids that were so important to indigenous people.”
Attendees will be able to hear about that vision and how humans can be medicine for the Earth, instead of acting as consumers of all that the Earth has to offer.
“The extent of damage that we have done to the living world is so great, that merely protecting the remnants is inadequate,” Kimmerer says. “We have to heal the wounds we have inflicted through restoration of land and the cultural values which shape our responsibility for land.”
Intertwining the two different worldviews that led to indigenous wisdom and Western scientific knowledge is something that Kimmerer does well. “Both illuminate the nature of the living world and how we might better care for it. They are distinctive, sovereign systems of knowledge which can complement one another. Our capacity to achieve sustainability and a more positive relations with the natural world is strengthened when we use both,” she says.
Kimmerer practices these positive relations with the natural world at her own home by treating the woods and fields surrounding her farm like a garden, nurturing wild foods and medicines, pollinator meadows and songbirds. She also grows a wide array of fruits and veggies, including traditional heritage varieties of corn, beans and squash, in order to celebrate and preserve these ancestral plants.
“As we give gratitude for the gifts of the land, can we live in such a way that the land can be grateful for us? Reciprocity is the root of relationship; all flourishing is mutual,” says Kimmerer.
Partners for the 24th Wege Speaker Series event include City of Grand Rapids, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Grand Rapids WhiteWater, Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians and River for All.
Register by May 26 at wegespeaker2021.eventbrite.com. The Wege Foundation focuses on planting seeds that develop leaders in economicology, health, education, and arts, and enhance the lives of people in West Michigan and around the world. For more information, go to wegefoundation.com.
Julie Peterson writes about health and environmental issues. Contact her at JuliePeterson2222@gmail.com.