Rosemary Gladstar: Plants at the Center

I so loved my conversation with Rosemary Gladstar at this event sponsored by the Oakmont Sunday Symposium. I encourage you to listen to it all, Rosemary’s joy and deep love of the plants is such good medicine for all of us, anytime, but especially in these dark days in Vermont before the solstice.

Mapping the Emerging Future

One moment in particular stands out. I was talking about a series of conversations I’ve organized among Sustainable Herbs Program donors to talk about sustainability and the future of the botanical industry. We used the principles and practices of Theory U and the Presencing Institute, a model of awareness based systems change based at MIT, to guide these discussions.

One of the exercises was to map the current reality of the botanical industry and then, listening in to the future, the best possible future reality. I mentioned what Erin Smith, Director of Herbal Science & Research at Banyan Botanicals, had said about her experience. She really wanted plants to be at the center of her first map. But she realized that they weren’t. The botanical industry just isn’t set up that way, she said.

And so for the second map, she changed things around so that plants were at the center. And then she saw how things shifted.

Putting Plants at the Center

And Rosemary replied (not her exact words, watch the recording for that), “It’s that simple. We just put plants at the center. And then we go from there.”

Something in how Rosemary said that helped it click in a way it hadn’t before.

It’s that simple. We just do it: put the plants at the center. And then see what needs to happen next.

Of course there is lots that then needs to be done, Rosemary acknowledged that.

But she didn’t let that stop her.

An Invitation

I wonder, what if all of us who love and use medicinal plants, do just that? We put plants at the center of our decisions and see what happens.

I’m not sure I really even know how to do that. Rosemary made it seem so simple. Like a doorway we just need to enter. Perhaps it is as simple as stepping into a new and different room, or out of the house into the garden. But I think it’s a step we need to take each day, a practice to remember and remind each other to do again and again. So that some day, plants really will be at the center of the botanical industry, back where they belong.

I invite you to join me.

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