My environmental writing class had an absolutely wonderful morning chatting on Zoom with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, about ecology and the writing process. Everyone's questions were great, and her responses were moving! Quick recap thread:
Dr. Kimmerer is a botanist, not a writer, by training. She suggested that scientific language can sometimes limit us by asserting there are right answers to describe something rather than letting us attune to the subject, such as a bee or flower, that we're interested in.
To describe her writing process, she said it's like pruning her grapevines. Too many branches and tangles won't allow the sun to ripen the fruit. Which ideas will you prune away? Which will you allow to flower and become sweet? I particularly loved this analogy.
An important question: how do we get people engaged with environmentalism? Kimmerer suggests we avoid apocalyptic language and hard data to focus on our own vulnerability, and use that to establish a sense of radical empathy with vulnerable species and habitats.
I asked her how we can avoid projecting ourselves and our own unique privileges onto our subject matter, and she responded that recognizing those privileges and being conscious of them can allow us to acknowledge it and be open about our own experiences and perspectives.
Finally, a point I found absolutely inspiring, there is a preciousness in how you see the world. Your unique perspective and lived experiences are enough, you don't need to be an authority on every subject. Understand that the way you see things is uniquely yours.
In conclusion, this Zoom chat made my entire week and I seriously almost cried it was such a great experience. I'm so grateful to my professor for setting this up! If you haven't read Kimmerer's books yet, I cannot recommend them enough.
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