Love Notes: Diversity is Generative

This is the first fall season where there is no “back to school day” in our household.  All the kids have finished their education (at least for now). I feel a little melancholy, but it is beautiful to see them blossom and pursue their passions.  

Our son Michael (now 23), loves permaculture. During his junior and senior years at the University of Colorado, he was part of INVST Community Leadership, an in-depth training program for young people who are passionate about social and environmental justice. His senior project (what they call The Soul Project) was to create a permaculture garden. He and some other students wrote a grant proposal, got $10,000, and built a garden on the East Campus of CU near the SEEC building.

Permaculture is based on an integrated and functional approach to landscape design that weaves together earth, water, plants and animals into a complex balanced pattern.  The magic is in how the diversity of natural elements work together. The output of one component provides the resources needed by another, and no component is included unless it serves more than one function.

Side note: if you are reading this, email me at or call me at 303-494-0195 extension 4. The 15th, 16th, and 17th person who contacts me will be invited to join me at lunch at Pica’s. My treat.

In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer writes a chapter called “Three Sisters.” She describes how indigenous gardeners plant corn, beans and squash together. Each brings a gift and never takes more than it needs. “The corn takes care of making light available, the squash reduces weeds. To see the gift of the bean you have to look underground. It brings nitrogen. … Most plants can’t use atmospheric nitrogen. They need mineral nitrogen, nitrate or ammonium. … Beans have the ability to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and turn it into usable nutrients. …The beauty of the partnership is that each plant does what it does in order to increase its own growth. But as it happens, when the individuals flourish, so does the whole.”

And by analogy, this is so true for each and all of us who are planted in the permaculture landscape of our Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder community.

Over the last two months, we have been exploring how each of us may have a different theology or faith. We may have different ways of making decisions. Of course we have varying identities – race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. There is magic in how our diversity works. We are more whole because of it. And we can be an example for our country and the world which need it so badly.  Let’s make it so.

Much love to each of you,

Rev. Kelly

PS – Books that I mention in sermons can be found by clicking here.