Book club discussion thread: "Braiding Sweetgrass"

Hi! Welcome to the first meeting of the HEATED book club.

Today we’ll be discussing “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

I chose this book on April 1, right at the beginning of the social distancing era. Everything was particularly raw and rough back then, the path forward for the climate fight murky and unclear. The HEATED community made lots of great suggestions for our first book, but I wanted to pick something that might help ground us, and envision the future more clearly. “Braiding Sweetgrass” did that for me. I hope it did that for you.

Feel free to comment on any aspect of the book you’d like. But because this is a climate newsletter, I’d love if we could keep to keep the discussion focused to climate advocacy, climate policy, climate journalism—all that jazz.

Here’s how it will work. I’m going to offer three prompts. I’ll write my personal answers to each prompt in the comments. You can choose to respond directly to my answers, or create your own separate comment responding to one of the prompts.

If you are creating a new comment: Please copy and paste the prompt you are replying to at the top of your comment. And please only respond to one prompt per comment. (So, if you’d like to respond to all three prompts, post three separate comments). Cite specific passages and pages where possible.

  1. Speaking specifically as a person who cares about/works on climate change, what theme or concept from “Braiding Sweetgrass” resonated the most with you—Eg: the gift economy, reciprocity, gratitude, etc.?

  2. In the beginning of the book, Kimmerer describes sweetgrass. “Breathe in its scent,” she writes, “and you start to remember things you didn't know you'd forgotten.” What did this book reinforce for you that you already knew, but had perhaps forgotten?

  3. On page 327, Kimmerer criticizes an environmental movement that has become “synonymous with dire predictions and powerless feelings.” She reminds us that “Even a wounded world is feeding us … giving us moments of wonder and joy.” Do you agree that the environmental movement does not focus enough on the joy of the natural world? If so, how can that be fixed?

Because we’re getting a bit of a late start — it’s 12:45 p.m. EST — I’ll be active in the thread until 2:45 p.m. EST.

See you in there!