Thursday, August 6, 2009

STRAW Training

Yesterday I took part in a day of training for teachers offered by the San Francisco Bay Institute called Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed known by its acronym, STRAW. Under this program my school will restore a local creek to enhance its ability to support life.

The day was devoted to learning about the people who lived here before European came. Coast Miwok Tribe elders shared information and led activities infused with a wisdom, compassion, and gentleness. Edward, particularly, reminded me of a Tibetan lama or a Taoist sage.

Notably absent from was any mention of the many wrongs and injustices they've suffered since the arrival of the Europeans. That's forgiveness.

"What are weeds?" Edward asked, rhetorically. "One of my favorite plants is Nettles. Lots of people think of Nettles as weeds. They sting, yes. But Nettle leaves are highly nutritious—high in calcium, protein, vitamins K, C, and D. They have potassium and magnesium. Nettle stems have strong fibers that can be made into string. Nettles are plants doing their job."

"We might say weeds are life forms that are not doing their job in the community of life.... If that's so, then we must allow ourselves to reflect, perhaps humans are weeds.... As habitat restoration workers we want to stop being the weeds."


steven said...

hello dan - exactly. i struggle with the notion of weeds - they flourish without any intervention on this property. they often have beautiful flowers and leaves, and they belong here!! i love that your class will particpate in a stewardship opportunity. the best learning....... have a lovely evening dan. steven

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Steven--

Edward said that when we disrupt the earth (tearing it up as we building freeways or whatever) the earth tries to heal, often by covering the disrupted earth with "invasive" weeds.

When we pull out those "weeds" it's as if we're pulling the scab off of Mother Earth's sore! I pull weeds in my yard, but not without offering them a silent prayer.

Sarah Lulu said...

I am often a fan of weeds Dan.

The talk with the tribal elders would have been so fascinating.

Dan Gurney said...

I've been told that weeds that grow vigorously in your yard often have medicinal qualities needed by the people living there.

The tribal people have very deep wisdom.