Prairie Oaks Institute

cultivating the earth, rejuvenating the spirit

President’s June message

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Everything is connected

by Chris Johnson, Prairie Oaks president and co-founder

June 2020

It’s becoming increasingly accepted these days that “everything is connected.” It’s now known that the roots of trees, for example, allow them to “talk” to one another, and to send nutrients to members of their community that have been attacked by pests or weakened by disease.

This comes to mind not only in this time of global pandemic, but now all the more in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. His killing – and those of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others – both defies and demands words. Horrifying. Gruesome. Sickening. Evil. None of them suffice, yet so much needs to be said. As we’ve all been reminded, silence becomes acquiescence becomes complicity. And of course, beyond the call for words is the demand for action. Meaningful, substantive, lasting change. Hard, sustained, crucial work, work that needs to be rooted in the deepest core of our lives.

The roots of George Floyd’s murder are deep, widespread, and intertwined. Racial justice, economic justice, food justice, climate justice: it’s all connected. We’re all connected, interdependent. Deep down, the roots of our shared humanity cry out for us to care for those among us who are threatened and who suffer. The global reach of the response to what was done to George Floyd on a street in Minneapolis underlines how intertwined we are. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously and rightly said that a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Not coincidentally, the name of Prairie Oaks Institute points simultaneously to the deep roots of the native prairie and the broad reach of the burr oak, both of which inhabit the land where POI is located. Our name conveys the importance and necessity of attention both to the deep interior roots and the broad outward reach of our individual and collective work in the world. The prairie restoration work happening here this summer likewise invites each of us to nourish our capacities and strengthen our commitments to live, work, and lead “from within” for the sake of the common good.

Go deep. Reach out. Work for change. Live into the connections that make us truly human, truly alive.

Peace and Justice,

Chris

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