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41 Chapter 2 THE BITTER AND THE SWEET OF NATURE Weaving a Tapestry of Migration Stories Veronica Kyle and Laurel Kearns The Bitter . . . Running from the trees . . . lynching trees . . . strange fruit Trees were saviors, I hid in the top to hide from Mr.Whoever owned the land, or when they were chasing me to tell where my brother had gone, or to get some shade and a bit of rest from picking cotton and peaches. I saw my family member drown in them waters . . . I’m never going get in nothing but my bath tub. My daddy worked in those tobacco fields and smelled like a walking cigar. Remember Emmitt Till? I was a share cropper—I am not going to touch the dirt. The Sweet . . . Every summer we go back home to pick fruits, can and quilt. I loved sitting under that weeping willow tree in my grandparents’ yard. 42 CULTURE BUILDING Nothing like picking and shelling pecans and digging up peanuts. My grandfather made the best peanut brittle I ever tasted. We used to go fishing all day and sometimes didn’t catch much, but it was just nice to be out there on the river. I was so sad to go back home and see that all those magnolia trees were gone. These bitter and sweet memories and similar African American migration stories inspired Veronica Kyle to create Migration, Monarchs, Birds & Me, a program that connects the migration stories of butterflies, birds, and people to inspire environmental action among faith communities. In this chapter, we use the stories of African Americans and Latino Americans to illustrate the role of faith and narratives in creating engagement in urban restoration—in healing the land and the soul—and in a broader spiritual restoration movement. Our program— now called simply Migration & Me—is one of many programs of Faith in Place, a nonprofit organization that since 1999 has empowered “Illinois people of all faiths to be leaders in caring for the Earth, providing resources to educate, connect , and advocate for healthier communities” (Faith in Place 2017). Veronica is the Chicago outreach director at Faith in Place, while Laurel is an academic and activist concerned with religion and ecology who teaches at Drew Theological School in New Jersey. Because we bring mutual interests but very different backgrounds and experiences to this chapter, we have chosen to write some text in the first person. We think it is important to attach our names to what has shaped our own involvement and perspectives related to environmental efforts among faith groups. Veronica My name is Veronica Denise Brown Kyle. My own story is filled with experiences and thoughts similar to those in the bittersweet reflections above that are common to many African Americans. I knew that as the outreach director for Faith in Place, I needed to create a program and space where folks could risk being able to tell the bad about nature—the bitter—to perhaps get to the sweet spots. I joined Faith in Place in 2008 after spending nearly twelve years working overseas for another faith-based organization engaging diverse and marginalized communities in all forms of development. I had a particular passion for CHAPTER 2 43 empowering youth to pursue higher education and for supporting women in economic development. When I reflect back to my time abroad and to the years leading up to such an amazing opportunity at Faith in Place, I now realize how my work has continually woven a thread in the tapestry of sustainability in all the communities I served. It seemed whether I was working on the Southside of Chicago in my early years, on the East Coast, or overseas, I found myself gravitating around communities where environmental injustices were paramount issues. Whether it was cleaning up vacant and abandoned city lots and planting an urban food garden in Chicago or in a South African township, beach cleanups in Chicago or the Caribbean, or advocating for clean air in Illinois, working to make the world a more sustainable place for all just seemed to be my calling. As a person of faith who happens to be married to a minister, I’ve heard that word“calling”often,yet never did I attach it to what I do.But as the years have rolled by and I am now in the third trimester of my life,I realized that perhaps all the work around empowering and engaging my people and other marginalized groups just might be what life...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781501714993
Related ISBN
9781501714979
MARC Record
OCLC
1013988671
Pages
276
Launched on MUSE
2018-05-13
Language
English
Open Access
No
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