Ecoliteracy Poem

The Earth
The air we breathe
The sun, the flowers, the latex
Plants and trees and the quatis
Nitrogen in roots and acids in the seeds

I see parrots, I see maritacas
I see Psittacara leucophtalma
Human words need translation
Their call, appreciation

We are part of nature
And so are the Bacteria and Archaea

22 years of life
519 years of life
12 thousand, 19 years of life
100 thousand years of life
3.8 billion years of life
13.8 billion years of life
as Me, as a Brazilian, as a civilization, as modern humans, as living beings,
as atoms and particles and energy and vibrations
sharing what we, the universe, are

We must learn
(and how much have we already!)
Names and maps and phylogeny
Pardon my French,
my Greek, my Latin,
my Portuguese
Human words need translation
Birds call, they call for protection

Once upon a time he lived
Once upon a time he died
He fought for us
who need red water in our veins
who need green sap running free
I hadn’t been born when he was killed
But I was there as we were alive

He had a nice moustache, I must say

In the Amazon he was born
Fighting for the Amazon he died
Side by side for centuries and decades and years and time

Chico Mendes
The CM in ICMBio

in the Book of National Heroes
in the Earth
in our hearts
in our minds
in our fight

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CJ2: from dust to dust

Everything we have, everything we make, everything we eat and everything we are will one be destroyed. The remaining question is what will happen with the remains.

Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral invites us to reflect on what are the things that make us us, culturally speaking. Who produces the art and the ideas we consume? Here, I use her painting The Abaporu to get us thinking who produces the food we consume, and what we’re left with after we’re done with it.

Leo DiCaprio’s documentary Before the Flood warns us of the destruction of native rainforest for the production of palm oil, used in chips such as Lays and Doritos. Knowingly or not, every consumer of those and other products fuels that destruction of habitat. The carbon emitted due to the arson of those trees and the carbon that is no longer absorbed by them helps make the Earth less habitable.

Using the peels of potatoes, carrots and bananas me and my roommate ate on the last couple of days, I made a reconstruction of the Abaporu, on top of a cutting board which helped me cook food that was less detrimental for the environment than the package of potato chips on top of which the cutting board was placed. The peels and my Abaporu itself will become worm food in the vermicomposting project of the class.

I will try to keep reducing my plastic and non-biodegradable waste, always carrying a reusable bag, refusing plastic bags and buying natural fruit and vegetables instead of industrialized packaged ones.

The Abaporu might have a small head up in the clouds, but their big feet are very much down to Earth. If we’re going to save ourselves from the hell we’re making the Earth to be, we have to start now.

CJ1: one with the cosmos

My creative journal is deeply inspired by the poet Manoel de Barros. In his poem, he writes that “The eye sees, the memory re-sees and the imagination trans-sees. It is necessary to trans-see the world.” The conclusion of this poem is the starting point of my creative journal, as a invitation to wonder and reflection.

The first thing that came to mind when presented with the questions “What is the environment? What is environmental education?” were mountains from where I grew up in Minas Gerais, Brazil. They kept me company wherever I went in the city, whenever I took the bus, and were the stage of hikes and picnics. They are the centre of the creative journal, made in magazine paper.

Each mountain has a window, an invitation to look through them. One of them hides words that remind me of the environment, such as flowers, smells, stars, birds and myself. The other one presents a picture of a person gazing at the horizon (much like the painting Wanderer above the Sea of Fog) over which I added one my goals in environmental education: to “Be one with the cosmos”.

On top of the reflective art piece, a combination of a few Latin names of living creatures I’ve come across in my life and studies. Although not being meaningful for Robin Wall Kimmerer’s pre-med students, they are meaningful and important to the Biology student and researcher in me. In there are the scientific names for Brazil’s flower, the Ipê Amarelo; Brazil’s tree, the Pau-Brasil; snakes; birds; microorganisms; humans. All together form a sun, their source of energy that fuels up life on Earth.

Having seen what materials I had, re-seen what the environment had meant for me in my life, and trans-seen what my creative journal could be, it came to be.