Giving Thanks for Herstory

In 2017, like many years, I feel deep cognitive dissonance about the standard American holidays.

picture of "Give Thanks "

So this year, I’m aiming to more powerfully cultivate my practice of gratitude.

Since my work has focused on women in permaculture for so many years, I wanted to share some inspiring updates with you.


One of my sheroes, Vandana Shiva, spoke at the IPC in India this week. A tweeted quote from her is “I’ve been inspired by women who refuse to be extinguished.” She also called for us to nurture the qualities of care and compassion.

Equally exciting, I’ve been hearing that many People of Color and women are present and presenting.  There are sessions where local women tell how they solve their own problems through mutual aid and permaculture. Here’s a video of a panel of women on the theme “Women as Agents of Change.” You can also access daily roundups on that youtube channel. Or check out @IPCIndia2017 or #IPC2017 on Twitter for the latest updates through Dec 2.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the IPC due to family and work. Since I couldn’t be there to do it in person, leading up to the IPC I took a big step in service to the women in permaculture. As you may or may not know, as I wrote the “Pattern Language for Women in Permaculture” and the “Best Practices to Support Women in Permaculture” articles, women started coming forward describing sexual harassment they were experiencing. Since then, I’ve worked with many folks in several gatherings to begin to steward a call to address this issue—much gratitude to everyone who helped create this draft language! It’s been slow going for many years.

I’m so grateful for the women in mainstream society who shared their #metoo accounts. It spurred me to write an article on Medium, in which I say:

screenshot of Medium article

If you resonate with this, you can help steward this movement by sharing the article on social media and tagging your allies, and then following up with them. Especially important is inviting men to publicly commit to this work in the comments below the article—you have to scroll down to find the comment bubble, and responses are not shown unless you click on “show responses” below the row of featured articles.  Also, your “claps” and comments are also welcome there, and it would be great to have a diversity of voices responding to comments on Medium, and on social media. 

Some wonderful allies have already signed, and are taking action. One tagged me on Facebook with this:

examining patriarchy and centering herstory in permaculture IPC India

photo credit: Claude Oprea

“It’s happening. This Thursday at 1.30 pm in the Pomegranate classroom at Polam Farm at IPC India with support from 2 beautiful male co-facilitators we shall be exploring male privilege and dismantling patriarchal values that don’t serve emerging needs for a safety culture. We will join forces to create a loving and safe space free of judgement, guilt, blame and fear so we can open our hearts and minds to face a delicate subject and engage with our potential to write a different story, one where equality is the norm, where power is shared fairly and sexual harassment is a thing of the past. Let’s find ways to allow space for and celebrate herstory alongside history. Please share and show your support by attending the workshop if you are the IPC. Thank you.”

I’m also grateful that, in early 2018, enrollment will open for an online PDC for women, and each module will be taught by a different woman. How cool is that? I’ll send out more details when the team is ready to start outreach.

Finally, as a person who lives on Haudenosaunee land, and aiming to learn more about what it means to be a colonizer, I’m grateful that several years ago, I learned that Haudenosaunee women are the root of many of the rights we have today as women in the U.S.:

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women fired the revolutionary vision of early feminists by providing a model of freedom for women at a time when EuroAmerican women experienced so few rights. Women of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy possessed freedoms far beyond those of their white sisters: decisive political power, control of their bodies, control of their own property, custody of the children they bore, the power to initiate divorce, satisfying work, and a society generally free of rape and domestic violence.”

I’m deeply grateful to have access to more accurate versions of history, and imagine what would it have been like, if early colonizers (including my ancestors) had been open to being profoundly changed by Indigenous perspectives—including: nature as our relations, and women as an inherent part of sound leadership.

I’m also deeply grateful to know that women have lived in a time and place where sexual violence was non-existent.

May we make this reality again.

Which herstories inspire you?

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