“Hi,” I hear a whisper, “Come here.” It’s a sunny day and I’m standing outside between my university’s law school building and the Many Nations Longhouse with the rest of my classmates in Environmental Justice trying to get to know and listen to the more-than-human world which includes land, plants, wind, animals, water and more. It was an exercise our professor invited us to do because we are learning about environmental justice and getting to know the environment, the more-than-human, is an important part of that conversation. How can we know the significance of plants, water, land if we don’t make time to get to know them, to listen and to learn from them?
“Over here,” I walk towards the direction I’m being called to. Walking along the gray concrete path between the law school and the Many Nations Longhouse I end up under a wooden archway and pause to listen again. The path leads me between the Multicultural Museum on campus which is on the same side of and near the longhouse and also opposite the law school. There were people tabling out in front of the museum and lots of students going to and from classes, chatting with friends. A large round green grassy space sits between the law school building and the concrete path and museum. The green grassy space is surrounded on three sides by different plants accompanied by descriptions of them and their common and scientific names.
“Hi, I’m here,” I look over and see a green leafy bush with small bunches of bright reddish pinkish flowers and make my way over to say hi. I leave the concrete path and onto the green grassy path, “Hello, I’m Rose. How are you?” I ask but I struggle to hear their reply in the midst of all the noise coming from people walking along the gray concrete paths and driving by on the black paved roads. “Red Currant,” their description reads; they attract birds and butterflies. I smile a little, apparently they attract humans too. “It’s hard to hear you,” I tell Red Currant. “Focus,” they reply and so I try harder to drown out the noise and focus. I fix my gaze onto Red Current, noting the tiny ridges on their green leaves and the sunlight embracing the reddish pinkish flowers making them softly glow. Everything begins to quiet down and for a moment spread across space and time, I hear them, “Peace”. I feel my body relaxing and my stresses melt away as I begin to focus on Red Currant’s message, “Peace”.
I am a Graduate Student at the University of Oregon (UO) School of Law studying Conflict and Dispute Resolution. I did my undergraduate work at UO majoring in General Social Science with a concentration in Globalization, Environment, and Policy.