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Evan’s Field Stewardship - Forest News

We continue to enjoy getting to know and developing a relationship with this section of our forest preserves. From finding special spots to play and practice our observation skills, to catching minnows and baby bluegill, trying to solve the mystery of a deer carcass, and afternoon games of capture the flag, the short time we’ve spent together in this natural community has been rich, fun, and inspiring.

Every Friday as part of our morning routine, we take a moment to acknowledge those who occupied the land before us (the Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes), and to express our gratitude for the plants, animals, sun, water, wind, and all the natural processes and systems that sustain us and enrich our time in nature.

Acknowledgement and gratitude are important ingredients towards developing what the late naturalist Aldo Leopold called a “Land Ethic” - a recognition of the interconnection between humans and the land, or nature, and a responsibility to care for the natural environment. I feel the notion of responsibility is an important one, but often requires roots that dig into something deeper to be more compelling.

The scientist, writer, and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer calls for us to re-ground our relationship with nature through gratitude for the gifts of the Earth and to find ways to practice reciprocity for the gifts given. “Gratitude is most powerful as a response to the Earth,” she says, “because it provides an opening to reciprocity, to the act of giving back.”

Simple expressions of gratitude for even the smallest things - an interesting moth by your door, a shimmering raindrop on a flower petal, warm sun after a long winter - are small steps towards reconceptualizing our relationship with the Earth and rethinking what we take, and what we give (or don’t) in return.

Many of us participated in a Saturday “Litter Obliterator” event in Evan’s Field, with the Forest Preserve District supplying gloves, bags, and litter pick-up sticks. Taking a couple hours to pick up some trash is a very small step. It’s not going to stop litter from reappearing, but it is in line with one of our goals in spending our Fridays at the woods, which is to move students beyond thinking of our forest preserves as a fun place to hang out and play, another commodity to be consumed and discarded, but as a community that we are a member of, and a place where gifts are received, shared, and given in return.


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