“A blade of grass is the journeywork of the stars.” -Walt Whitman
What does the term “grassroots” bring up for you?
For many it hearkens to street protests and the counterculture revolution of the 1960s. Perhaps for others it connotes efforts a lack professionalization, centralization, or polish.
Yet what “grassroots” really means is the most fundamental or essential level of a thing. In other words, the origins or essence from which something meaningful blooms; for example, curiosity as the grassroots essence of learning, or love as the grassroots origin of brotherhood. It is a kind of spiritual alchemy by which ordinary, often overlooked things are transformed into something more than the sum of their parts.
Funny enough, the “grass” in “grassroots” is a study in this idea. Among the plant kingdom, with its colorful flowers, towering trees, and incredible diversity, the humble grasses hardly seem notable. Yet it is the Poacea (sometimes called Gramineae) family that comprises over half of all dietary energy consumed in the world, mostly through grasses like wheat, rice, oats, barley, and corn.
Grasses are the most economically important plant family and account for almost one-quarter of the earth’s vegetation. Grasses are found on every continent, including Antarctica, and do important things like nourish wildlife and prevent erosion. While most plants grow from the tip of the growing shoot, grasses adapted to grow from the bottom-up; this is why they can be trampled, grazed, or burned and still thrive. The seat of their growth and regenerative power is often at or just below the ground itself, barely visible to the human eye.
At The Pollination Project, all of our support happens at the grassroots level. We believe that just as grasses are abundant, underappreciated, and adaptively resilient, so too is the hidden potential for good that exists in the heart of every single “ordinary” person. We believe that the fundamental origin of a kinder, compassionate world is the budding of that promise in the lives and communities of individuals who have a vision that might be just below the surface, waiting to emerge.
Each of us may seemingly be just a blade of grass: ordinary and ubiquitous. Yet in uplifting individual action, in its very ordinariness and ubiquity, lives an unknown and perhaps unlimited potential.
The most fundamental and basic level of a compassionate world – its grassroots origin or essence- is the uplifting of grassroots changemakers themselves.