Connection to nature and seasonality
Mama Dodo is my great grandmother. She was a "big legged" woman that wore her hair in two plaits streaming down her back. After becoming widowed, she raised her six children by herself in the mountains of Appalachia. My great paternal grandmother was the direct descendant of slaves - she lived and died in Tennessee. I am the daughter of folks that believe summer meals should be cooked on the grill and enjoyed outdoors with family and friends. As kids, my siblings and I would stay outside with our friends from the moment school let out until the post lights came on. In the summer, we'd swim at the local pool from sunrise to sunset - on a diet of "icies" and pool treats. My mother, a 30-year fitness instructor - taught me early the importance of reading the Word, working out, and getting outside daily. So, I cannot remember a time when I didn't run in the spring/fall, swim in the summer, and take a cozy walk in the winter.
My shalom and polepole journey
The moment that I became a mother, I knew that I wanted to impart my love and appreciation of God and all of His creation to my children. Additionally, the act of becoming a working mother to two black boys created a chaotic inner-life for me. I was consistently resisting the urge to move at an uncomfortably fast pace. I was teaching and (later) recruiting in organizations and schools fighting to end education inequity, while also becoming an outdoor advocate for brown and black communities. Not only was my mind racing, but my family and I are nomadic and moved states every year.
That said, even in all the movement, I continued to cultivate a slow and simple lifestyle that would allow for stress relief and moments to be present. Reading a book outdoors, chopping vegetables for supper, lighting candles, waiting for the whistle of my tea kettle, reading the Word while the sun rises, pausing to witness komorebi on a hike, and looking at bugs with my boys while forest bathing.
Environmentalism and Environmental Justice
I am consistently reading and seeking books/sites/folks that celebrate the outdoors and encourage a slower pace, but rarely do I see my image or issues reflected. At least not in one succinct place. The problem with this is that every time we hike, buy at the farmers' market, camp, go on nature walks or get advice on moving slowly and intentionally - other people of color are present. And so the narrative of the "outdoors" doesn't fit my reality. It wasn't until this year during my quest for a more Meraki life that I realized it was time to create a space that reclaimed the narrative and celebrated the diverse faces and lifestyles of those that flow with the season's rhythm.
The reason for the advocacy angle is simple - our relationship to nature is layered. Additionally, seeking peace for yourself while unknowingly (or knowingly) exploiting people and resources isn't true peace or wholeness. I speak to so many people that are bewildered about all the information out there concerning our environment. People don't know why they are being charged for plastic bags, being handed paper straws and why one chocolate bar cost $10 while another one costs $0.99. I've found that environmentalism is either too complicated or too simplistic. Either way, it's paralyzing (and so folks do nothing), or it's overwhelming, and so people try to do it all (leaving exhaustion and burnout).
The articles on Shalom & Pole Pole aren't created to give the reader ALL the facts. This isn't a space to hash out all the details of nature, slow living, environmentalism, and environmental justice. The purpose is to perk interest, give space to process, and to motivate farther investigation and conversation towards elevation. It's a dialogue.
Shalom & Polepole, friends.