In a lovely collection of essays, “Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons From Marine Mammals,” Alexis Pauline Gumbs literally goes deep, drawing wisdom from animals that use echolocation, travel in schools, and — as is the mysterious habit of spinner dolphins — leap into the air to rotate multiple times before returning to the water.
Gumbs writes about underwater mammals who see through clouded waters and across distances with their voices. She notes that these species — our ancestral foremothers — collaborate with other species for safety and health. “Out here on the open ocean, mothering is an emergent strategy.”
In contrast, the human species seems to have become much less fluid since emerging from the ocean, trapped inside nets we cast ourselves.
“Legally and narratively,” Gumbs writes, “our society encourages small, isolated family units and an anti- social state reluctant to care. So, care becomes the unsustainable work, the massive unpaid labor that breaks backs, hearts, and the visionary will of multitudes on a regular basis.”
She asks us to consider how we can organize ourselves intentionally to combat the isolation of capitalism and to listen across species, across extinction, across harm. “Marine mammals [have] much to teach us about the vulnerability, collaboration, and adaptation we need in order to be with change at this time.”
For this month’s issue, we gathered together the voices of those who fluidly engage with the world:
• Sister Irene O’Neill created a way for nuns in different countries to support each other’s communities.
• Marie LePage explains her practice of ethical, non-monogamous relationships.
• Maija Hecht discovers how citizen scientists can build relationships with water both before and after disaster strikes.
• Lissa Maki reports on volunteer drivers in rural Minnesota who provide both physical and emotional lifelines for elders.
• The people of Avivo Village created a setting that balances borders and open spaces to offer stability and respect to formerly unhoused folks.
Ecolution: Sovereign Science — Indigenous Testing of Minnesota Waters
Collective Effort: Communities Without Borders, by Sister Irene O’Neil
Elders in Greater Minnesota: More Than a Ride
Changemakers Alliance: Focus on Equity, and What Is Next
Spirituality: Separation & Impermanence, by Pam Costain
Perspective: Why I Practice Ethical Non-Monogamy, by Marie LePage
BookShelf: A Life in Books, by Emilie Buchwald
Family & Home: Phases of the Mom, by Jillian van Hefty
Thoughts: The Waters of Tomorrow, by Moira Villiard
Camp & Kids: This Life Rocks, by Nika Hirsch
In the News: KaYing Yang Joins Pres. Biden’s Commission, Gerrymandering, Bemidji Water, Womens Press Wins Award