At Two Writing Teachers we are a community of weavers. We weave words together to create meaning; we weave connections to each other as writers; we weave, through our writing, connections to our lives and our world.
Recently I came across the word “weaving” in two different publications: the New York Times and a recent edition of the NMAI (National Museum of he American Indian) newsletter. The word was used in a very specific context. To paraphrase, it is a collaboration to bring people together to develop positive, productive ongoing connections that will continue to build community.
In a recent article published by NMAI (nmai firstname.lastname@example.org) I found the following quote from two Native American women speaking of weaving their connection to their ancestry:
“Isabel and Robin reflect on their collaboration, and on the way their art connects to all the earth, this way. ‘We are all part of a giant complex weaving of life that requires respect and love to further interconnection. The trees are nourished by earth’s elements and by the life cycle of the plants, insects, fish, and all the other animals. In return, the trees provide gifts of life for all those who are living. It is the same for the roots that connect us to our ancestors.’ ”
This idea got me thinking about whether or not I am “weaving” in my own life. The first example I thought of was my family. We are a very close family of four. Our early years as a family group were spent exploring the world together through travel, art, music and film appreciation and our shared love of nature. We have woven an even closer connection as we all grow older. We still share these common interests and continue to build on them by attending exhibits, concerts, films and going on nature walks and world travel adventures together, as often as possible. We have been “weaving” a strong fabric of family connection for almost forty years. What’s even more amazing is that our strong kinship has led us each to find other groups within which we can continue to weave while expanding our connections with others.
This past year, for example, our family has again acted as a unit, but in a new context. We have become an outreach and unifying group to many other people in our community who share our common interest in resisting overdevelopment in our town and its degrading effect on our natural environment. Through a year-long effort to reach out to others who share our values, we have created a fledgling organization that has had some real successes in the local political arena.
The New York Times Op Ed columnist, David Brooks, refers to the opposite of weaving as “ripping.” ((NYT Op-Ed February 19, 2019) Those who are destructive rather than constructive, who criticize without making any personal effort to change things, who act as independents rather than collaborate with like-minded people are “rippers.” I don’t think I am going out on a limb by saying that our current political climate is the result of too many rippers at work and not enough weavers.
For weavers, what is most important is acting on behalf of the “other.” For decades Americans appear to have been stuck on the idea of “what’s in it for me?” Lately, however, perhaps as a response to this national selfishness, I detect an incipient movement toward small community groups working together for the common good. In the words of David Brooks: “I ask you to have faith. Renewal is building, relationship by relationship, community by community. It will spread and spread as the sparks fly upward.”
Are you a weaver or a ripper? Is there a place in your life where you come together with others to effect real positive change for others? Many teachers feel they do this as part of their jobs, but does it carry over into your personal life as well? Becoming a weaver involves real work, patience and commitment but is its own reward.