Braiding Sweetgrass

Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
By Robin Kimmerer
November 24 at 7 am Pacific Time



This Global Read with author Robin Kimmerer was held November 24, 2020




“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, Robin Wall Kimmerer has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the Potawatomi, as well as a majority of other cultures indigenous to this land, consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings two lenses of knowing together (tools of science and indigenous wisdom) to reveal what it means to see humans as "the younger brothers of creation". As she explores these themes, she circles toward a central argument: The awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the world. Once we begin to listen for the languages of other beings, we can begin to understand the innumerable life-giving gifts the world provides us and learn to offer our thanks, our care, and our own gifts in return. 


About the Author

RWKimmererDr. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, plant ecologist, writer and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. She is the founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability. Of European and Anishinaabe ancestry, Robin is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. In collaboration with tribal partners, she and her students have an active research program in the ecology and restoration of plants of cultural significance to Native people. She is active in efforts to broaden access to environmental science education for Native students, and to create new models for integration of indigenous philosophy and scientific tools on behalf of land and culture.

The author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge and restoration ecology, Dr. Kimmerer is also active in literary biology. Her first book, Gathering Moss, was awarded the prestigious John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing. Her second book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, was awarded the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award and recently landed on the New York Times Bestseller list. Dr. Kimmerer’s essays appear in Whole Terrain, Adirondack Life, Orion and several anthologies.

Dr. Kimmerer holds a BS in Botany from SUNY ESF and an MS and PhD in Botany from the University of Wisconsin. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild.


About the Hosts


Kate TrynkaKate Trnka is currently serving as the Lead Ambassador for the Environment Sector of the Charter for Compassion and is the Coordinator of the Charter’s Global Read Program.

Kate is a writer, educator, and small business owner. She has also begun leading workshops around her latest creation, Our Sense-Able Nature: Mindful Re-Connecting With Nature Activity Cards which provide nature inspired activities connecting us to our 54 natural senses/sensitivities.

She is the founder of The Sacred Earth Institute – a place that teaches people how to return to well-being by reconnecting with the natural world. Kate has her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Education and is now enjoying semi-retirement after her 26-year career as a public school teacher.



Donna Schou is pleasantly retired to pursue the gift of time, free quietness, reflecting and wonder. All of this after serving for over 40 years as a Registered Nurse, specializing in Hospice and palliative care - serving her AIDS, geriatric and neurology patients with love and compassion.

Donna - with her gift of time – enjoys the outdoors, with her greatest love being the art of fly-fishing. She also creatively enhances the world through her weaving, quilting, landscaping, gardening, her sense of humor and - her most generous act of all – her sacred listening.


"One of the unexpected silver linings of lockdown and quarantine has been the ability to rediscover the joys of nature in our own backyards,” says media futurist Caroline McCarthy.  "There's no better book to read for renewing our connection with the natural world than Braiding Sweetgrass. The author is a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, so this set of loosely connected essays on plants and the rest of the natural world is a beautiful blend of science and spirituality."

---Jessica Stillman, “20 Books TED Speakers Think You Should Read This Summer”.


Would you like to sponsor this Global Read? Sponsored Reads are free to all participants.

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