Tapestry: What makes a healthy ecosystem?

Food. Water. Care. For once, let justice start there.

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Tanáǧidan To Win: Heart Warriors

Photo by Jaida Grey Eagle

Čhaŋté Wadítaka

Thokáta wičhóičhaǧe kiŋ,

Tókhetu thaŋíŋ šni
kiŋháŋ dé abdéza;
Wačhéuŋničičhiyapi,

Waúŋničičhipi,

Uŋníčidowaŋpi,

Wóuŋničižupi,

Nakúŋ wóuŋničihdakapi!

Čhaŋté waníditake!

Nakáȟ, nihákab naúŋžiŋpi!

Heart Warriors

Grandchildren of the
future;
When times are uncertain
please know this.
We prayed for you,
we danced for you,
we sang for you,
we planted seeds for you,
and we spoke for you!
Your heart is strong!
And now, we stand behind you!


Chelsi Kahl: Dedication

Considering the health of an ecosystem is part of my daily routine. I am a mother, a nurse, and a person who lives off the grid in a floating home on the Mississippi River. All three of these roles are daily and deliberate. The health of an ecosystem requires this. A mother cares for her child ceaselessly. A nurse works with a steadfast dedication. A steward of the earth commits to making consistent and purposeful choices even when they are uncomfortable.

We live in a world that promotes convenience — eating fast food, shopping online, driving everywhere, or scrolling our time away. We are led to believe that making a social media post is equivalent to doing our part. It is not. The health of our ecosystem requires more. It requires more specific consideration into local and personal issues, deliberate learning, and daily action. Some of this may be uncomfortable. It may be hard. If so, you are probably doing it right. Keep going


Ihotu Jennifer Ali: Sweetgrass, not tear gas

Photo The Renouds

We offer food and water to the beyond
Pouring a cup of sweet pleasures into green grass.

Mini Sota Makoce.
Sweetgrass, not tear gas
cedar, chamomile and ginger
Peach leaves and palm oil….

Looking up for answers, we ask
What plants will teach us in silence,
how to snuggle and hug even after a fight
to remember we are soft beneath our shields
we are tired but we are the ones still alive.

Under what tree can we sit and not fear what we feel
Sit beside pain and not lurch in to fix
What clouds will shapeshift into recipes
for truth & transformative justice

When my own pain is so much that I run and I freeze,
Who else’s struggle can I even see clearly,
And how do I learn to stand tall
when all I’ve known is bended knees?

How many crimes begin with a life in turmoil?
Are we tending sick plants without feeding the soil?

When the soil is fed —
We could sit beside enemies under an oak,
and in the awkward silence, still think to crack a joke.

If we were a plant, we must look thirsty.
Yearning, but wired and tired.
Big dreams, but blind to our capacity.

What makes us juicy enough to learn and to bend
Is not another new project, it’s what we choose to end.

Don’t over complicate this crisis. We are resilient plants,
just right now in strife.
We don’t need fancy policies, just those to support our
basic of life.

Food. Water. Care. For once, let justice start there.

The ripples of what we choose now are felt and aligned
Across seven generations, seven portals
Forwards and backwards in time.


Starr Brainard: Biological, Social, and Food Ecosystems

To create thriving community gardens we build hundreds of tiny resilient ecosystems across Duluth. We remove monocrops of grass lawn and invigorate the soil with compost — decomposed organic waste that is delicious to microorganisms and plants. We plant diverse gardens of vegetables, pollinator plants, and fruit trees. Our veggies absorb sunlight and convert it to life-sustaining nutrients. These nutrients feed our families, a few rabbits, and slugs, and eventually go back into the compost pile to feed the soil. Our beans and peas feed both humans and soil bacteria. Beans and peas release exudates from their roots, drawing in the symbiotic bacteria that allows them to fix nitrogen, an essential fertilizer, from the air to nodes on their roots.

The diversity and resilience of these gardens are what make them healthy micro-ecosystems providing food across the city, but none of the gardens could exist without the thriving human ecosystem in Duluth. At the Duluth Community Garden Program we rely on community members to direct our organization. Volunteers run our events, committees, and board. Knowledge is shared between gardeners, some gardening for the first time, while others return for their twentieth season. We are united by the need to eat good food, and our desire to get our hands dirty.

Each gardener at each garden is essential in creating a healthy food ecosystem for our region. During the pandemic, we saw the fragility of our supply chains. A strong regional food system is the solution, and accessible community gardens are part of that. At least for a few months of the summer, our gardeners knew they would have access to affordable organic vegetables. Health is found in diversity and resourcefulness.