On the minds of many young people right now is the question: “what can we do to fix the myriad crises society is facing today?” Léandra poses a solution for both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians, and it starts with healing our relationships with the land.
Is there one ingenious solution to fix all of our problems? Although I’m sure we might all wish that there was, unfortunately, there isn’t. The problems we are faced with are multifaceted and complex, and so are the solutions.
I would like to propose a singular action that we can all do, if you’re willing and open, that might lead us to a healthier position from which to address the multitude of catastrophes. We must heal our connection with Country and with place as both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Our connection is not able to be severed and always remains. Now is the time for remembering this, in fact, it’s almost impossible to deny while this continental firestorm is unleashing it’s wrath upon the landscape.
I am an Arrernte woman, displaced from my own Ancestral lands in an urban Dreaming on the land of the Kulin Nations. Yet the basalt plains, creeks and rivers of this place fill me with a sense of fullness and purpose.
There are ways—whether we are in cities or rural areas—to connect with the spirit of the place we are in. Our urbanised cities are built on sacred ground; when we pay attention we see that the city is teeming with life.
Wetlands on the back of Darebin Creek, Victoria | Source: Léandra Martiniello
I live close to the Darebin Creek, and I am able to find sanctuary there almost daily. Hidden amidst cars and railway lines there are secret wetlands that support the creek on its journey to confluence with the Birrarung. These wetlands are home to birds, turtles and snakes.
To remember over and over again the sacredness of this place I need only hear the dance between wind and tree, or to contemplate the ancient pathway of Maribyrnong, Merri or Birrarung. We may have paved over creeks and turned the river banks to concrete, but water has always made its sacred pilgrimage along these pathways and it will continue to do so, long after we are gone.
Our native forests are almost destroyed by fire or for paper and profit, but their huge and ancient architecture exists under the surface of the soil still. The series of forms and processes that have shaped the landscapes we live in today can only be imagined in our mind’s eye, but perhaps this is a healthy exercise.
I invite you to look with new eyes at the landscape that surrounds you. See it not as static but as dynamic, always changing and being reshaped by many relationships. When you look out onto the mass of clear-cut agricultural lands that make up a large part of the Australian landscape, see the grasslands and the forests that once were, the stones that eroded sediment to soils, and the rivers and seas that carried them there.
This is the Creation energy that gives us breath, and through this experience, we are awakened to our place in relationship with the land that shapes us. At the same time, we shape it with every step that connects to its surface.
Acknowledging our connection to Country can be painful because we realise that the trauma we commit to Country we also commit to ourselves, this can invoke a sense of helplessness. However this sensation is also nurturing, and it provides a sense of belonging to place in our Great Mother.
This coming home to our place initiates a sense of responsibility to care for and protect that which we are a part of. Perhaps this shift in perspective is the thing that is needed to address the social, community, environmental and health issues that are impacting us all on this earth.
Acacia blossoms at Darebin Parklands | Source: Léandra Martiniello
Trees inhale water and the water that they exhale rises into a river in the sky. As the water gets higher and colder, it gets heavier and falls from sky to Earth as rain. If there are no trees to inhale the water back up from under the soil and into the sky, the cycle is disrupted. The water moves away to other places and the land dries up.
What is our place in this cycle? How can we facilitate the rebalancing of these cycles? I suppose the first step is acknowledging that we are an inseparable part of these deep time systems.
Whether you are Indigenous or non-Indigenous, and wherever you are on this amazing continent, there are grasses, insects, birds and wind currents waiting eternally and patiently for you to awaken to their gifted wisdom.
The people who have been a part of this place since time immemorial are still here, still Dreaming. Reach out to your local mob and learn the stories of your place. There is a vital importance of acknowledging and healing our connection to Country because we are a part of it. We belong to it.