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Feburary 11, 2015 | Second dialogue in Our Common Ground program series

How Do You Relate to Earth Daily?

Featured participants: Maisha Maliha and Frances Amando

Question for the evening: How do you relate to Earth daily?

Maisha began the dialogue with three simple ways in which she remembers her relationship with Earth. First, she tries to be mindful of what she eats. She is a vegetarian, avoids chemicals in her food and cooks her own meals, using ingredients that are as fresh as possible. She also tries to use products with natural ingredients in taking care of herself, such as natural toothpaste. She uses brown sugar instead of white because the white has bone char in it.

Second, she is reminded of a responsibility to care for other creatures on Earth through her connection with her pet rabbit. The rabbit has learned to trust her and shows its recognition of the caring in their relationship by jumping on her bed to cuddle with her.

Third, she tries to appreciate and enjoy whatever weather Earth has chosen to present her with on any given day. Whether hot, cold, sunny, rainy, snowy, she will not complain.

Frances told of trying to promote respect for Earth by speaking to a person who threw paper on the ground after eating a sandwich. She also spoke to a young man who was walking his dog about putting a piece of newspaper under his dog when the dog does his business to avoid leaving a residue on the ground.

Another way she tries to respect Earth is returning her kitchen scraps to the soil by bringing them to her community garden for composting.

After a period of reflection, other participants in the group had an opportunity to share their stories of how they relate to Earth daily. These comments follow:

  • By keeping plants I bring soil into the house. I make sure to see that they have sufficient water.
  • I have tons of plants. My apartment is hot and dry so I have to water them often.
  • I recently spent three weeks with a niece in California. Because of the severe drought there for the last three years, they are very careful with water. The water in the bathroom sink had been reduced to just enough to wash your hands. When taking a shower the water that was run to get hot water was saved for plants. Clean dish rinse water was also saved for plants.
  • My apartment has no view so I look at the sky. I also have plants I talk to in the kitchen and spout new ones. I believe in re-cycling waste food nothing really dies in nature so I take my food scraps to a greenmarket at the Natural History Museum for composting. I thank the people there for doing that. I like to walk in the park and am aware of birds, trees and other plants there.
  • I grew up in Eastern Tennessee. We were very aware of conservation issues and respect for Earth and everything around us. I did a lot of outdoor activity when growing up so that coming to New York City where nothing seemed normal or natural was a shock. I do have plants where I work and am sprouting others. I'm especially fond of one old vine that's not so spry any more.
  • I like to get up before daylight and look out the window at the sky during my morning meditation. I thank God for the day. In the evening I look out the window to see the moon, recalling the children's verse "I see the moon and the moon sees me, God bless the moon and God bless me." I'm grateful to be alive.
  • I grew up on a farm in the South and spent a lot of time outdoors with my brother. There are so many stars at night you never see in New York. We grew food for the family in a garden at the side of the house. I learned how is dependent farming is on the weather. I do believe in re-cycling and I take a lot of pains to do it, for example slicing the plastic toothpaste tube to get everything out of it. I reduce the number of tubes I use that way and recycle the plastic. Earth can't accept all the trash we leave. I use cloth bags when shopping. There is a lot to see of nature in New York if you open your eyes to it, a lot of flowers. I like to walk down a block where people are very serious about growing things in their window boxes, fixing them up with the changing seasons. They also decorate their stoops. Waking up in the morning, I thank God I'm alive.
  • I feel a lot of guilt when I listen to Maisha. I eat sugar and meat. I've taken it all for granted despite growing up on a farm. We didn't plant but we had an orchard and I collected berries and wild strawberries. When I go to the store I take plastic bags while feeling guilty about bags going into the ocean where they harm marine animals and birds getting caught in plastic. I try to do small things, but I'm far away from the goal.
  • I'm trying out being vegetarian and also giving up milk. I really miss milk and may go back to it. I look at all those plastic bags filled with trash in the street and I wonder how we can live without garbage paper products, tin, and plastic. But God must have known we would create garbage!
  • Because I'm very aware of the damage industrialized farming does to the land, I try to eat locally grown food. For a few years I organized a Community Supported Agriculture project where I live. We had a relationship with a farmer, paid her for our food in the Spring, and then she brought us vegetables weekly during the growing season. Now I support the Corbin Hill food project. It's easier for people to use because you can pay week to week, they take food stamps, and they do fund-raising so they can offer discounts to low-income people. They have relationships with many farmers in the Albany area who supply the produce.

After this go-round, we discussed what was similar and what different in the reflections.

Similar were: Wanting to do more. Appreciation. Plants and pets. Care about food. Chemicals and processed food. Living in the city. Noticing weather.

Differences: The thought that we are of the Earth, not only on it. Some are vegetarians; some seek out locally grown food. Water conservation. No mention of fracking. Shortage of possibilities to grow food. Different ways to live in the city seeing positive and negative things. Lack of awareness among many people.


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