Looking for it, finding it… greening hearts in the process
Imagine… What would the world look like if we started eco-systemic thinking in kindergarten?
I’m a peace and conflict specialist by professional background. Withdrawing from post-war zones to my country, Romania, to raise small children, I discovered in permaculture a way of doing peacebuilding bottom up, starting with the earth. There are no enemies in nature, only mistakes we make to unbalance the eco-system. Every species has its role, function, and beauty in the fragile balance of the whole. There is so much to learn from nature on how eco-systemic peace can be maintained, with a logic of stewardship and responsibility for future generations.
I started writing stories for children, starting with my own, to respond to the need of creative, constructive thinking in any field, to the need to upgrade our emotional intelligence practices from the family level to international politics. My stories translate constructive peacebuilding tools in the language of 5 year-olds, in practices that can be exercised daily at home or at school to raise our relational intelligence too.
Mirabelle’s Forest Garden is my first story that is a bit of a false autobiography. I started two permaculture gardens in Romania, one of which was only 7×7 meters, using it as show grounds for children and place to constantly observe and experiment with nature. I loved the eco-systemic logic that forest gardening brings, linking the forest and the garden. I also ran a forest school community programme for 4 years where we played with all my stories meant to be enacted upon, to make true at home.
This storybook is my green heart manifesto to encourage parents and educators to use nature more, to start a school garden, to get the children out to forests, to link curricula and nature.
I have shared the story with many schools in my country and in Zambia, where I’m supporting a local school and educational project, to get them inspired to use whatever green space the school has for hands-on learning in the garden.Using with this story as a symbolic framework to design and grow a forest garden gives children – from kindergarten onwards – an opportunity to see an ecosystem growing beneath their eyes. By the time they would leave school in 10-12 years they would have had an opportunity to see a maturing eco-system, learn, contribute, experiment, and develop a close relationship with plants and nature.
Environmental education has meaning and impact only when we, as educators, foster a real connection made to nature and all living processes.Starting with the children young plants great seeds in their hearts that will yield a close relationship to nature for as long as they are alive.
More green hearts that unite us in one earth tribe. This is Mirabelle’s dream. Like all children, she knows she can do practical magic, if she really believes in herself. Success and practical magic are always functions of community though. She knows that too.This story is such an invitation: find your own green heart, green it if need be, and find the green heart tribe to work nature wonders in your community.
And then, green heart with heart heart united, we will turn humanity’s heart desert green again.
Love and care and oneness felt with all nature can be, again, the reality of the day.