I’m not really sure why I never thought of this before, but last night I had the privilege of seeing a college classmate Tashya Leaman Dalen present this great talk about how ecosystems can give us a wonderful insights about ways to improve our own living environment. She talked about how symbiosis can be achieved in human development; she discussed how “edge” communities, the places where two disparate environments meet, can be places of great growth and interaction; she discussed biodiversity and how we can value our own diverse cultures/ages/economics in every situation. I was really inspired.

And I’m not sure really what to do with these ideas. I’ve been thinking about how I can use my own “edge” community – Highlandtown in Baltimore – as a place where people can meet. Can I spruce up my own sidewalk with flowers to encourage people to be outside more? Can I pick up the garbage from the bar on the corner and ask the owners if I can put a plant in the barrel that fills up with trash every night? Can I help organize people to make use of the vacant lots around us, maybe for community gardens?

One thing I did do this morning was write the people I know in locations where I travel regularly – central PA, Cecil County MD, Baltimore, D.C., central Virginia – and ask if I could help them sell items they don’t want in online auctions. This is my way of trying to use symbiosis to help out others and myself. I’ll let you know how it goes. (And be in touch if you’re in one of those locations – I’d be happy to give you more details.)

Tashya quoted Wendell Berry’s poem “The Sycamore,” and my heart got all tingly when she read the line – “It has gathered all accidents into its purpose.” So much of life we seem to view as something to get past, something to get through, something to get over. . . but what if we viewed all of these accidents, these wounds, these scars as actions that move us toward purpose. What if life is by the very nature of life symbiotic . . . everything used, nothing wasted.

Symbiosis Whale Shark with Remora