Robin Wall Kimmerer — The Intelligence of Plants

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Few books have been more eagerly passed from hand to hand with delight in these last years than Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. Krista interviewed her in 2015, and it quickly became a much-loved show as her voice was just rising in common life. Robin is a botanist and also a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She’s written, “Science polishes the gift of seeing, Indigenous traditions work with gifts of listening and language.” An expert in moss — a bryologist — she describes mosses as the “coral reefs of the forest.” Robin Wall Kimmerer opens a sense of wonder and humility for the intelligence in all kinds of life we are used to naming and imagining as inanimate.

And, this week, an invitation: Krista recently announced that in June we are transitioning On Being from a weekly show to a seasonal podcast. We hope you’ll help us celebrate this threshold, and these first two decades, by sharing how you’ve made this adventure of conversation your own:

Is there a guest, an idea or a moment from an episode that has made a difference, that has stayed with you?

We’ve created a way for you to record your reflection simply — and at the same time sign up to stay on top of what’s happening next: onbeing.org/staywithus. Krista will be offering some of her defining memories, too: in a special online event in June, on social media, and more. So — please and thank you — go to onbeing.org/staywithus.

Robin Wall Kimmerer is the State University of New York Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. She is founding director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. She works with tribal nations on environmental problem-solving and sustainability. Part of that work is about recovering lineages of knowledge that were made illegal in the policies of tribal assimilation which did not fully end in the U.S. until the 1970s. Her books include Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses and Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

This show originally aired in February 2016.

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