Sustainability in Relationships
Most of us understand the value of living sustainably – for the planet and for ourselves. We understand that carpooling, shorter showers, and recycling can reduce our carbon footprint – lightening our impact and allowing valuable natural resources to thrive. Sustainability has become such a coveted and even commodified notion, in fact, that those harboring a keen eye and fierce social conscience have come to seek out brands in daily life that make ‘eco-friendliness’ a priority. We can all do our part to further conversations, contribute to the needed work of environmental programs, and vote with each and every dollar.
But for most of us, our ability to manifest sustainable practices, choices, and partnerships will remain limited until we are first able to model each within ourselves and in our closest relationships…which can often prove to be the most difficult. Relationships are at the heart of sustainability. We, as human beings, continue to live as a part of a deeply interdependent ecosystem in both biological and emotional ways. Our actions (and even our existence) have an inevitable and tangible impact on those around us.
This reality carries with it the opportunity to be intentional about the form that these impacts and impressions take, expanding our awareness to consider the well-being of the whole. The principles of biodynamics when applied to farming and agriculture, in many ways, parallel how we structure and navigate our relational world – placing this plant strategically in the shade of another or recognizing that it’s best not to store the cow manure next to your water source. Extending the wisdom and key philosophies of this practice to our daily lives may, in fact, offer insights into how to build a more sustainable world, beginning at the source.
Biodynamic gardening seeks to mirror the inevitable interdependence of the plant kingdom that exists in nature. It recognizes the ways in which each individual plant (and person) naturally offer one another unique and mutual support. The means of support might vary between species, but each meets a need of those around it. Applying this to our personal lives, we might take a moment to reflect on the ways that we as individuals most naturally support others. We might take inventory of all those we trust and on whom we’ve naturally come to rely. We can examine the ways that interdependence starkly differs from unhealthy reliance and attachment in our lives and embrace it in all its mutual glory!
Avoidance of Chemicals & Artificial Fertilizers
We all know what we’re talking about here. Chemicals and artificial fertilizers are used as mindless short-cuts in the agricultural process – sacrificing quality for quantity in the name of mass yield. Most of us need not look far to identify examples in our own lives where we might opt for the feel good that lacks substance, for the things and people that distract but ultimately leave us less fulfilled. The artificial can sometimes be difficult for us acknowledge and release, but harder still are the toxic presences in our lives. These are examples of interdependence morphing into co-dependence and can often be difficult to see until the runoff pools and becomes a greater problem.
Though much easier said than done, we must be patient with ourselves. We must trust that our tendency to hold on to toxic connections longer than is sustainable points to a need we are hoping to fill, and that by having faith in the process of letting go we create room for powerful new shoots to grow.
Diversification and Decentralization
Diversification can be a challenge for those of us who prefer a tight circle of community that largely reflects our own values back to us – there is security in this. But for growth to occur, biodynamic gardeners recognize the value of planting diverse crops.
They view the differences of each as potential complements to one another, assisting in building strong interdependent relationships.
Decentralization refers to the ability to create a full and rich community rather than a purely an insular one. Consider what it is that you are ‘watering’ in your life – to what do you give the most attention and provide the most nourishment needed to grow? Perhaps it is all in one place, leaving other areas dry and barren. Perhaps it is a light mist over everything equally without taking the time to listen to each relationship’s unique needs.
Knowing when and what to water is a subtle science learned through experience and made stronger through reflection.
Because relationships are at the root of it all.