I send you many blessings and greetings from the traditional homelands of the Tewa, in what is known as Santa Fe, NM.
This has been quite a year of transitions, transformations, and loss. I don’t usually include personal notes in these kinds of letters but my experience with loss has certainly had an impact on the increased sense of urgency I feel for the work we do at Seeds of Wisdom.
At the beginning of this year, a dear friend who was like a brother to me, lost his 17-year fight with cancer. He literally never gave up, not for one second. He lived his life to the fullest and never lost hope. His life was exemplified by his courage and compassion. He loved his family above all else.
Then in September, my birth father passed away. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer almost 2 years ago. I had never met him until April 2019 when my quite sleuthy half-brother found me. I also have a half-sister. It is quite something to find that you have a sizable and wonderful family you never knew existed when you’re in your 50s and had given up hope. While my time with my father was way too short, my sadness is mitigated by my deep sense of gratitude for the gift he left behind – my sister and brother and their families.
Shortly thereafter, two more lights were dimmed. Though they never met, these two men were gentle, kind-hearted souls that lived a life in service, much of it lifting up Indigenous voices.
In my sharing at my father’s celebration of life, I reflected on how short our time is here on this incredible source of all life – Mother Earth. I was reminded that each of us is put here for a reason. Our gifts and blessings are urgently needed. We are all an integral part of the web.
A few months ago, I was asked to record a podcast with a group of young people from around the world. In truth, I was more than a little intimidated. I was asked to come up with a question for them that each would answer before they interviewed me.
I asked two. The first was “What do you see as a challenge in your community?” And the second, “What are some of your ideas on how to address that challenge?” To me, the second question was equally important. Young people are an incredible resource and wealth of fresh, new ideas and perspectives. Thankfully, we’re starting to see more young people being given a seat at the table.
I was surprised by their answers. Almost all of them said that the biggest challenge was a lack of empathy and compassion. Of course, issues like homelessness and gentrification came up but overwhelming in one way or another they agreed about our state of being in relationship to one another.
They also struggled with being able to identify what their “community” was. They broadly felt they were part of a global community but how they found their place closer to home was more difficult. This says a lot about the opportunity to work with and mentor young people to know what being in community feels like. We toss that word around a lot but what does it really mean? For certain, it means something different to everyone but how can we support young people in defining and finding a place where they are seen, appreciated, heard, supported, and yes, held in a compassionate way? I don’t have the answers but it is something I share in every gathering or circle I am invited into.
I do believe this: we all find ourselves at one time or another feeling alone or lonely. Maybe by reaching out to the youth in our lives we can also find a place of connection and communion. To me, the easiest place to start is by being in the natural world. No agenda. Just sitting by a stream. Under a tree. Walking in a park. Feeling the sun on our face. Bringing ourselves back to the source can reset our ways of being in the world. The living world is right there, waiting for us. We just have to show up.
Indigenous Peoples have been guardians of their lands, which are among the most biodiverse in the world, for millennia.
Their deep knowledge, practices, traditions and relationships with the lands and waters, animals and plants, are the key to sustainable livelihoods, the responsible use and regeneration of natural resources, and positive outcomes for biodiversity and the climate.
We have the incredible privilege of working with grassroots community partners around the world who are revitalizing and strengthening their unique cultural traditions. The Elders not only guide us and inform our work, but they graciously share their wisdom and teachings to a world that is in great need of a sense of belonging and connection. Both the Elders and community partners remind us that we are a part of something greater than ourselves. That if we want to solve the challenges we collectively face today, we must return to a way of living in balance with the living world. We must remember what we have forgotten – we are a part of the Earth and she is part of us.
My dear friend Paul Rainbird, a member of San Ildefenso Pueblo, talks about the Indigenous ways of being in kinship with the living world. All Indigenous people share this same perspective. Kinship is a way of being in a wholistic relationship to the natural world, not dominant over. Our survival is dependent on this relationship and our role as good relatives and stewards ensures a healthy, peaceful planet for the generations to come.
Last year at this time, we had just begun the process of renaming ourselves and all of the tasks associated with a rebrand. Whew! So many moving parts.
While these kinds of endeavors literally take a village, we are deeply grateful to our marketing and communications team at FireFly Strategies. They have guided us through this transition and created the powerful and beautiful images, including our new logo, you see on our website, emails and social media. We will say goodbye to them at the end of this year as they refocus their business on strategy. Please join us in wishing them well and give thanks for their amazing work.
Our current development and fundraising team DAZA Development, will expand their role to now include marketing and communications. We’re excited to work with this incredible team of trusted partners with a wealth of experience in fundraising, grant writing, marketing and social media. They are creating a strategy that will diversify our funding streams and ensure we have the resources we need for sustainability and growth in 2023 and beyond. No pressure!
So, what does the coming year hold for Seeds of Wisdom?
More storytelling and sharing from the Elders and Community Partners. This will serve a two-fold purpose: communicate our impact and uplift the voices of grassroots organizations revitalizing language, inter-generational sharing of knowledge, protecting sacred places, regeneration of traditional farming techniques and the promotion of ceremonies and rituals. Their stories told through their lens.
- The Seeds of Wisdom podcast and sharing content with young people in an age-appropriate way.
- An announcement about the 2022 cohort of Community Partners.
- Online and in-person opportunities to gather and learn from knowledge gifters.
We are incredibly grateful to the amazing Seeds of Wisdom family who work tirelessly in service to our mission, vision and purpose. Thank you to the Elders Council, Volunteers, Staff, Circle of Advisors, Protecting the Sacred Review Committee, partner organizations, and board of trustees.
And to You. You are an integral part of the Seeds of Wisdom family. Whether you like or follow us on social media, share our posts or newsletters, send us a note, or donate, we are deeply grateful for your support. Your impact has been immeasurable. We aspire to continue to bring value to you and your community.
May the new year bring more kindness, more compassion, more joy, and more hope. For all people everywhere.
Many blessings and much gratitude,