One of the most inspiring and life-affirming pieces of writing I have ever read is from the late speaker and Indigenous visionary leader John Mohawk. The work is titled “The Art of Thriving in Place” from the book Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future, edited by Melissa K. Nelson (2008).
When I begin to stress out about our income, I remind myself of why I have not sent my children to day-care in exchange for a paid job. Staying home with my twins has allowed me to take the time to analyze and re-create our standard, low-nutrient diet into a nutrient dense and lively one; to connect with our region through local produce from a CSA supplier, learn how to grow our own food at a community garden, and to experiment with new recipes regularly. I can peruse blogs and books, home-study myself in nutrition and perspectives on diet (Paleo, Macrobiotic, Raw, etc), and learn what we like to eat as a family (those darn picky kids are intelligent guides to eating well and taking the process slow). To be present with where I am right now in my life and my reasons for being so, while putting other dreams on hold (the house and career), is what it means to me to “thrive in place”. As I embrace this moment rather than resist or complain about it I empower myself to live deeply and creatively with all I have access to.
“The Art of Thriving in Place” is a technique for learning how to live in a manner that is more sustainable and fulfilling than current dominant patterns of industrial food production. Not only does Mohawk speak of the necessity to question how our diet will effect future generations (regenerative or abusive land use), he guides us to contemplate how we will feed ourselves from what we know about the plants that grow around us in order to thrive as global climates shift (as they have done before). He illustrates, “Humans will survive the next climate change. Trust me. Humans will survive anything. Corporations won’t necessarily survive it though; Monsanto won’t survive it. But right now Monsanto produces almost all of our food seed products and that’s the problem. We need to move away from that.” (p. 136). Forming a relationship with the plants that grow locally is a powerful tool for being able to sustain oneself. As I work in the garden, the kitchen and hike with the kids, I raise my children with the understanding of wholesome food, where it comes from, and how to live in healthy partnership with it.