Over the past few months, there have been many conversations behind the scenes, which have made their way to the public domain more recently. Bringing awareness to a number of necessary conversations around appropriation in the ‘regenerative’ movement and in land care as a whole. Something I often have to challenge my own complacency on.
To understand the issues in-depth, I ask you to please visit the online spaces for Farmer Rishi, Kamea Chayne, A Growing Culture, Sylvanaqua Farms (their kiss the ground highlight), and Civil Eats to read the important words they shared (please listen and reflect, don’t rebut).
The resurgence of this conversation came as a result of the extreme lack of diversity in the Kiss The Ground film, the tokenised shields used by the films producers as a result of attention being drawn to that lack of diversity, and the movie’s neglect to acknowledge where the ‘principles’ of regeneration come from.
THE COLONIAL MINDSET
As the ‘principles of regeneration’ rise to the fore, causing many who never have, to look to the soil – it becomes even more important we remember and give thanks to the global majority (BIPOC peoples), especially those Indigenous to the places they dwell – who translated and shared these wisdoms for the betterment of all.
Lack of acknowledgement of the root of ‘regeneration’ is appropriation. A deliberate silencing rooted in the colonial mindset and proliferated by the society of supremacy we dwell in (you can listen to an expanded conversation on this subject below).
A society where ‘acquisition’ of ‘goods’ for ‘use’ is made to be seen as normal and ‘for the greater good” … when in fact it is degenerative and only welds deeper into generational wounds caused by centuries of degenerative behaviour by colonizers and their kin.
Like all Indigenous Knowledge, the ‘principles of regeneration’ offer webs of wisdom which can be applied with depth to each thread of our reality and lives. Teaching us to honour and encourage environments which all beings can thrive in. But, these principles stop being ‘regenerative’ the moment they’re applied to anything beyond restoration and reparation.
And without question, the knowledge becomes degenerative the moment it reaches the hands of racial capitalism. Which sees land, people, and non-human beings as ‘things’ to extract ‘resources’ from.
This is one of many reasons why films like Gather– released around the same time as KTG’s movie – must receive the utmost amplification. As they teach us the root of what ‘regeneration’ really is.
Because within the health and vitality of the soil on which all terrestrial life’s health and vitality rely, there is a deeper story. An ancestral thread older than time, embedded in the land. A spiritual connection of worship, a community connection of unity, the stories which lovingly bond us to the places we dwell. And in many cases, the stories of whose land we occupy.
A COLONIAL CHECKIN
With yoga, meditation, or any other gift of which has heartened the colonial, mechanical, ‘rational mind’ – the circular form of the gift changes shape into hierarchy the moment it is received without some form of reciprocity.
As the receivers of these gifts – whether we are individuals or organisations – it is our responsibility to do our part in dismantling the systems which prevent the gift-givers from thriving. To reshape hierarchy to circularity, while fertilising environments for folks harmed by the degenerative systems we dwell in to gather, grow strength, and lead in sowing seeds of change in.
Otherwise, our collective striving for transformation of culture, society and community will only change the facade of our degeneration. We’ll still have Racial Capitalism, just gussied up in a pretty green dress to hide the rot within.
We have an old-world to do away with and a new world to co-create, the “restorative revolution” as named by Samy Gensaw of Ancestral Guard in Gather Film. Led by those who still speak the language of the land.
But, “restorative revolution” can only happen in a meaningful way if we are supporting the regeneration of land with the regeneration of land rights, and all that comes with it. Healing the past while protecting the future in tandem. And amplifying the needs of those who have been most harmed by the degenerative systems we currently dwell in.
RESHAPING THE SHARP CORNERS OF HIERARCHY
I expect the creators of Kiss The Ground Movie to listen to Farmer Rishi, Kamea Chayne, A Growing Culture, Sylvanaqua Farms, Civil Eats and others who have raised their voices in the name of change. I also expect the film’s creators (and all colonial kin) to step back and invest in the (lifelong) personal work needed before they create anything more … and it is my hope that their creative team will transform to reflect the vibrant reality of this movement, and life itself.
I know that Kiss The Ground Org (which has crossovers but isn’t the same team as the film, apart from Ryland Engelhart) is currently working on reshaping and reworking direction to re-root their organisation to reflect the vibrant reality of this movement (and life itself) and I hope the result of these conversations will be something to be proud of.
Currently, we are in the chapter between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. Throughout our species’ history, this time has been seen as a season of sacrifice and reflection. Once Solstice arrives, we must put to death that which does not serve us collectively, making room for the birth of a new reality.
Like a tree in winter, who sacrifices its leaves to conserve energy, focusing instead on its roots’ expansion beneath the soil where it fuses with its neighbours’ roots to share nutrients in support the overall wellness of the forest. We must do the same, reach out and connect to one another, share what we have to give, amplify deliberately silenced wisdom, listen and offer allyship so we can find ways to help each other thrive, even in the darkest of times.
In modern contexts and even the context of 2020 itself, many of us are well overdue for a sacrifice of privilege as we simultaneously invest in the uncomfortable journey of confronting our own complacency. Especially those of us benefitting from these degenerative systems and its false narratives.
We can use what powers we have to change our local and collective environments, offering – as Azzees Minott, chair of Greens of Colour says – “sustained action rather than responding intensely when something horrific happens and then doing nothing after, which perpetuates the problem of inequality”.
What happens next, whether it is Kiss The Ground or society as a whole -will be the result of a multitude of conversations, reflections and learnings which I hope will honour atonement and reparations, reformation, and reshaping.
But I hope this serves as one more reminder to many of you, as it has to me – that there is racism and supremacy in every corner of our society, and we all have the responsibility to drive it out by being advocates for equity in every corner of our daily lives.
ONE. If you have financial privilege GIVE a monthly/yearly donation to a programme which supports land and/or indigenous sovereignty where you are. I have one set up to Ancestral Guard, another to CEIR on the lands I was born on. As well as May Project Gardens in the country I dwell in now. From Gather Film: First Nations Development Institute, Rainbow Treatment Center, Native American Journalist Association, Tanka Fund, Thunder Valley. Kamea Chayne has an in-depth list here.
THREE. If you live on Turtle Island, Australia, South Afrika, etc … find out whose land you occupy. Support their sovereignty. If you live in Europe or other places in the world, support La Via Campesina and/or find a project like LION who are working towards land access and land rights.