Planting Healthier Communities
Updated: Jul 22
My first of the month blog posts are dedicated to the practice of Living Connected. Plants are the focus of our practice for July 2021.
Go for a walk and see the plants where you live. Find trees, bushes, or potted plants. Look specifically for survivor plants. They persevere in challenging places: cracks in pavement, between buildings, and other fissures of our constructed world. Study one plant closely. Notice the pattern, form, and direction of its branches and leaves. Become aware of the roots that anchor it into the soil. Celebrate the beauty plants bring to your community.
Besides giving us oxygen and food, plants have value as part of creation. They show us resiliency, as they bend with the wind, reach for sunlight, and adapt to changing conditions. Plants remind us of our connection to the soil. Research shows trees communicate and share resources. Like us, they thrive in community. Studies show we are mentally and emotionally healthier in community with plants.
Hold a branch of a living plant or place your hand on a tree trunk. Say a prayer of thanks for the life force that flows through both you and the plant, and for people who protect green space for the benefit of others. What might you do to bring more plant life to the place where you live?
I invite you to try one of the following practices this month.
Consider how scripture may inform the way you think about plants. Read Genesis 1:11-12; Psalm 96:10-13; or Psalm 104:14-17.
Read The Overstory by Richard Power or Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald.
Plant something, either in a pot or in your yard, and watch it grow. Give thanks for the miracle of life that plants are.
Each time you go someplace new, pause a moment to look around and see the different vegetation. Say a quick word of thanks for plants.
Learn to identify 5 plants growing near your home.
Learn the difference between native, invasive, non-native, and naturalized plants.
Discover some of the plants native to where you live. Native Plant Finder gives information about native plants based on zip code.
Visit the nearest nature preserve or conservation area to learn about native plants specific to your ecoregion. Which animals do they support? How did Native Americans use them?
Dedicate a 10% portion (a tithe!) of your yard or land to growing native plants.
Find out if your community has open space, parks, zoning, and other land use boards and commissions that determine the amount and type of vegetation in your community. Then:
· Attend public meetings.
· Review and comment on plans made available to the public.
· Advocate for equity in access to open space and green space.
· Advocate for incorporation of open space in land development.
· Advocate for native plantings in public spaces and landscaping ordinances.
· Advocate for Green Infrastructure.
· Consider volunteering to serve on a board or commission.