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Pollinator People

As Earth Day (April 22) was approaching this year, I reflected more than ever on ways I can be better in terms of consuming less, wasting less, conserving more, caring more, and reducing my overall carbon footprint. I've been very excited about a project that I've been working on with my wife, friends, family, neighbors, and other community members: a native pollinator garden where critters are welcomed in all kinds of weather—particularly the bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. This project has been tied to and intertwined with so much of my life—past, present, and future. 

Both my parents grew up on rural farms—one in Michigan and one in the Texas panhandle. As an Air Force brat who had to move every few years growing up, the only place I considered “home base” was the family farm in Michigan where my grandmother and her two bachelor farmer brothers lived. I spent every summer there and loved it so much. Up until COVID hit, I made sure my daughters also have spent some time up on the farm every summer. How I wish I would have paid more attention to my grandmother’s vegetable and flower gardens and helped her more! Sure! I helped to weed it and water it occasionally. But I was much too busy playing with kittens and goats, or looking for four-leaf clovers, or “helping” my great uncles milk the cows, fetch and clean the eggs, feed the rabbits, or bail the hay. The big rite of passage came when we kids turned eleven-years-old. That meant that we could be trusted to drive the tractors in the fields alone. So, I was trained on the old John Deere and the even older Case tractors and how to run the attachments—whether it be for raking hay, planting seed, etc. This pollinator garden reminds me just how connected I am to the earth through generational lineage and knowledge.
 
This project resulted in having to reach out to others, brainstorm ideas, and tap into everyone’s individual strengths for the greater whole. My Aunt Kay, even though she lives many states away, knows native flora and all about prairies and habitats. She has been such a source of knowledge for me and gotten me interested in Texas-native plants on her yearly Spring visits where we spend most of our time on hiking trails moving the speed of molasses so we can see every flower, sedge, shrub, grass, and tree. Those experiences and knowledge have proven invaluable to me—especially the trusty field book she gifted me 2 years ago. Little did we know how handy it would be during the pandemic where I spent so much time at home observing all the flora so closely. Our friend Jenni is an expert on caterpillars—larval plants, nectar plants, caterpillar behavior, caterpillar rearing, and butterfly releasing. Other friends like Suzy and Shannon gifted us with their brute strength and time to help us dig and bust up the inevitable and formidable limestone rocks that lie just under the surface of every planned hole. Our friend Courtney is an expert on forest bathing and therapy. She has led my wife and me in guided meditation and activities and will do the same for those who come out to the “big reveal.” This pollinator garden reminds me just how connected I am to the earth through learning from and teaching others.
 
The site for the pollinator garden is my wife’s family home where she lived from the age of 5 through high school and where we have lived together for over 8 years. It sits on an acre on the edge of the Texas hill country—some of my favorite landscape in the world. We keep it as natural as possible, making way for native plants and trying to keep non-natives at bay. When we first got together, we said that we pictured watching the flowers grow together. This project has been an amazing one to work on together as we are literally planting the flowers that we will be watching grow. And better yet, we are inviting everyone else to observe and partake in the beauty of it all as they help to carve out beautiful spaces for pollinators. This pollinator garden reminds me just how connected I am to the earth through honoring the past, present, and future.
 
Please note: This project has been made possible thanks to funding from Microsoft and the support from ChangeX. Join us by checking out their other community initiatives and/or planting your own pollinator plants/ garden. #MicrosoftCommunityChallenge #ThrivingCommunities #MicrosoftDCCD

Photograph courtesy of Kimberley Dawn Kennedy, Ph.D.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kimberley Dawn Kennedy, Ph.D. inspires positive ways of looking at, tapping into, and building on everyone’s unique strengths and differences. Her advocacy for others who fall outside of the so-called “mainstream” is the underlying foundation of her work as a coach, teacher, university professor, and volunteer. Kim has presented her work that centers on issues of power and privilege at national and international conferences and published in renown peer-reviewed journals. She is fully bilingual and biliterate in Spanish and English.

Kim describes herself as a life-long learner. Her best teachers have been her two daughters, her students/ clients of all ages, and her experiences with nature and travel. Since Kim's dad was in the Air Force, her family moved every 3 years or so within and outside of the states, including Florida, Spain, Germany, Michigan, Georgia, and Texas. Her love of travel and other cultures continued as an adult, leading her to other countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. She now lives in San Antonio, Texas with her wife and rescue cats and dogs. She loves to dance, eat fair-trade dark chocolate, and be with family and friends.

WHY THIS SERIES?
At Ingomu we believe that our coaches and team should reflect the reality of the world out there. We also believe that we should celebrate diversity, use our voice and actions to uplift humankind by making a positive difference in the lives of many. We interpret diversity broadly. It includes humans of every color, ability, background, orientation and gender identity.

In light of this we want to start celebrating diversity all year long. Throughout the year we want to share stories of how we as individuals, families, communities or teams have been positively impacted by diverse individuals. We are looking to honor individuals, people we may have never heard of. Your neighbors, family members, colleagues, community members…

In February we'll share stories about the positive impact and achievements of Black individuals in honor of African American and Black History Month. In March we celebrate Women’s History Month. In April its National Deaf History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage, Older Americans Month and Jewish American Heritage Month is in May, GLBTQ+ in June, Hispanic and Latino heritage in September, National Disability Awareness in October, and National American Indian Heritage Month in November.

We invite you to share your story with us and we’ll publish it in our blog and share in our newsletter. You can submit your story here. If you don’t have a personal story, but have come across a great story in your local media, let us know too.

Check out more Celebrating Diversity posts.