“I have grown intolerant of that. I can’t be fully interested and engaged in writing that seems to erase me. Because all of those concerns about civil rights struggles and women’s rights struggles and those kinds of things—if those don’t move forward, if they don’t get paid attention to, if they don’t get talked about, that negatively affects my ability to move forward in the world.” — Camille Dungy, Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden
This is part of what I’m enjoying in Braiding Sweetgrass: her life is not separate from nature that she can ever set either aside, that her connection with nature and community are intertwined, that the way she relates to nature is dependent on her personal history and her family’s history and her people’s history. There’s no pretending nature is this pristine untouched place “untainted” by people (untouched nature is largely a myth anyway) because she recognizes how humans have played a part in the ecosystem — she even studies the indigenous practices for harvesting sweetgrass and sees indications that gathering sustainably actually keeps the population growing healthily — that human stewardship is part of the balanced ecosystem.