By Nina Magpili-Smith
Amidst a long period of stillness in society during the pandemic, I watched a gardener in a video advise would-be growers of potatoes to refrain from digging the soil around its stems and leaves, at a certain phase of growth, to make it easier for the plant to grow. The plant will make its stems and leaves stronger to emerge victoriously from the soil, an ultimate example of natural resilience. As the gardener reminded me, Earth is the ultimate teacher, especially now during this period of crisis.
The global collective standstill poses an almost deafening question of “What now?” Suddenly, we have the time to ponder on our lives and face the pain and difficulties of our reality resulting from our society’s misdirected collective actions ranging from polluting the environment to maltreating many human and nonhuman living beings. The facade of our modern civilization that promised safety and comfort is crumbling. Now, many of us see this more clearly.
As part of The Pollination Project community, whose timely response through the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund sets the stage for the visioning and building of a resilient world, I offer my own perspectives, while being open to others, that explore how we can build a resilient community.
As we grapple with Earth’s ferocity through the coronavirus, she reminds us that we don’t own her. Instead, as James Perkinson, a long-time activist, educator, and poet, and one of my mentors, said, we belong to her. I add that we are her. As we embody her pain and cries for justice, rights, and freedom, and as we ingest her bounty, we also carry her natural resilience, love, and wisdom to face any situation we encounter. Hence, we hold the key to the cultivation of a resilient society that truly envelops us with an authentic mother’s care.
With my deep engagement in the community before and during the pandemic, I see that parts of my and others’ personal lives mirror the reset period that our collective society is going through that can elicit change in the course of our future, if we choose to. As we examine the fragile systems that continue to weigh on us, especially the most vulnerable, we can start with questions. In the process of uncovering our core truth, we can start to take responsibility, generate compassion towards ourselves and others, and envision our world in alignment with our truest individual and collective strengths and wellbeing. The sprouting hope, kindness, compassion, and love within us can bloom through this soil of challenges, fertilized by wonderful lessons, that can cross-pollinate with many others. Plants do not fear the soil, they grow from it. We can, too.
As an emerging indigenous-descendent community healer and inter-faith spiritual leader, sprouting through the dirt of oppression and stigmatization of indigenous spirituality, I also honor the sacred lessons our ancestors continue to pass onto us that can water many
barren hearts. As we, people from all backgrounds, inherit our ancestors’ trauma, their wisdom can guide us in healing, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and in restoring the world that they respected and honored.
As we weave our connections to our past, present, and future, as well as, with ourselves, others, and Earth with love, respect, and awe, physical distance (instead of social distance, as fellow TPP grantee, Becky Suzik of JOYFUeL, clarifies) cannot stop our web of connections from forming a resilient world by all, from all, and for all.
My community work, called The RootSSwell Project, aims to build a sustainable and resilient community ecosystem through gift ecology where individuals, especially folks who are most impacted by the pandemic, navigate their roles in society through their gifts of strength, passions, and heart connections that align with the treasures of Earth. We currently welcome co-cultigivers, #givingthatcultivates, to help nurture our community of givers and receivers. Although our geographic location is at Durham, North Carolina, we welcome co-cultigivers from anywhere online. If interested, please contact Nina here or go to www.intangibles.org for more information. We are the stewards of our own world. Our strings of oneness can cultivate an empowering, just, and thriving world that truly sustains us and the next generation.
Nina Magpili-Smith is a TPP grantee and advisor, whose community offering, The RootSSwell Project, aims to build a sustainable and resilient community ecosystem led by people from vulnerable communities, especially as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic where people seek deep relational, empowering, and environmental (online) spaces. She is a passionate community cultivator who works through building authentic, honest, and nurturing relationships among humans and nonhumans that can transform our systemic societal structures.