Ecological Literacy Braiding

I wrote a poem about my father, and what his version of being ecologically literate is (eco-literacy). Essentially it is to love the earth we live on; to be cliché, to be at one with nature. Cynthia conveyed similar thoughts in the last stanza of her poem, however, she included empowerment. She wrote about someone who makes small choices in their life that empower her to do the same. The first step to eco-literacy, which my dad has mastered, seems to be figuring out how to appreciate the earth we reside on, and the second, like Cynthia’s subject, is to make changes in your life that reflect the obligation you have to maintain it.

To make eco-literacy even more complex, I would like to introduce a third and fourth step; passing on knowledge, and recognizing what mankind is doing to the earth. Karley wrote to her high school teacher who embodies these two steps. He taught his students how to live eco-friendly changes in their lives, and taught them the affect they have on the environment. As Rachel Carson points out, “The rapidity of change and the speed with which new situations are created follow the impetuous and heedless pace of man rather than the deliberate pace of nature.” (Carson, p. 7) Mankind is injuring the earth faster than it can heal itself. Carson wrote that in 1962; the further damage mankind has done to the earth in the past 53 years is likely colossal! Helping each other understand the impact we have to the environment is an imperative part of eco-literacy.

The fifth point in my ever-expanding definition of eco-literacy, is to instigate big change; not just in your life, but in the world. Zane thanked his brother for doing just that. Although his brother went into the “belly of the beast” despite what other environmentalists may think, he chose to take a larger step and go to work in a leverage point. (Meadows, 1999) To quote Zane addressing his brother, “You knew that where the system was sensitive to destruction was also where you could make the biggest impact for saving.” That is exactly what Meadows talks about; to overcome paradigms, and find the leverage point. (Meadows, 1999)

Being eco-literate in my definition now includes five things; to love the earth, make changes in your life, pass on the knowledge, understand the affect we have, and instigate large change. Eco-literacy requires an expansive knowledge base, and I am afraid I have only begun to understand the depths of the definition.

Carson, R. (1962). Silent Spring. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Meadows, D. (1999) Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System. Retrieved September 23, 2015, from


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