Good Gravy: Earth Day, Every Day


by Tasiyagnunpa Livermont

As we celebrate Earth Day this week, (under almost a foot of new snow), I am excited at the prospects all of us who care about the earth and water in Cheyenne River truly have.

Moving here from Brookings a year ago, I quickly realize how spoiled I was from having lived East River for a decade.

Curb-side single stream recycling, locally roasted coffee, locally-owned bakeries, restaurants, cafes, pubs and liquor stores with good (local) wine and no posters of half-naked women.

Culture shock? Just a bit.

However, despite some obstacles to living green and local here, we also have some amazing opportunities to engage in seriously needed dialogue about our land and water.

People are working hard to bring in resources so that we can learn and stand strong together against outside threats to our land and water sovereignty as the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (and South Dakotans, I would add, as many non-tribal ranchers have testified during Keystone XL).

Don’t miss the upcoming conferences at the end of May in Eagle Butte (read upcoming issues of the paper and the WRE Facebook page for more information and details).

My only well-intentioned critique is that after we get all fired up about protecting our resources that we then dig in to what we can implement right where we are at to create homes and lives that aid the soil and water around us, instead of deplete it.

Permaculture is a design system for that way of living.

As I study for my permaculture design course, I am impressed over and over again that if we are going to make it more possible to grow food for ourselves, we all must address our own homes, our own yards and what is within our reach.

Even those gardeners doing flower gardening, provided they do a permaculture design approach, can increase the soil and water quality and create micro-climates that create even better conditions for their neighbors doing larger market growing.

Nothing we do is without affects on our relatives, a concept we should have no trouble implementing in this way.

Here’s a few quick tips to get you thinking and doing:

-buy simple soaps that are grey-water approved

-then save your dish water, bath water, and other grey water and water the trees or other perennials you may have around your yard.

-turn off the water to your toilet tank most of the time and instead use screened grey water to flush (you can do this even if you can’t source or don’t want to use simple soaps)

-learn about mulch and water-conserving gardening

-choose varieties that like heat and can be watered carefully (and add more mulch!)

-come to a Soiled Hands Society garden meeting to get more ideas

-buy local food, new sources available all the time!

While I grudgingly admire those activists chaining themselves to pipelines or throwing themselves in front of oil rig equipment, my call is to attend to permaculture design at home and for the use of my relatives and neighbors.

We all must do what we can, but we all must start at home.

Do you have questions or comments? Email and put ‘permaculture’ in the subject line.

Happy Earth Day!

Every day!