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Buffs One Read 2022-2023: Braiding Sweetgrass



We invited undergraduate students from across campus to participate in the Buffs One Read storytelling contest. Students were invited to reflect on the following prompt: How do our worldviews shape our relationship with the natural world? Share a story that captures the reciprocal restoration and relationship with the more-than-human world that Kimmerer encourages.

Enjoy the wonderful responses and stories of CU Students in 2023.

Congratulations to the 2023 Contest Winners:  Taj DeHart, Livia Follet, and Emily Reynolds


Lost and Found by Taj Dehart

“Braiding Sweetgrass is a fantastic book. Reading it felt like healing a bit for me. Writing and loving nature are two things I was in love with and felt like I lost touch with. Robin Kimerrer does both so incredibly and with such compassion.”

Under the Angel: Writing in Reciprocity by By Livia Follet

“My relationship with Braiding Sweetgrass is a communal one—this is how I believe Kimmerer wished the book to be read and cherished. In fact, at her talk at the Boulder Theater she mentioned that this is how the book has spread—from friend to friend, hand to hand. The leaves of my book are curled from being shoved in packs, the pages densely marked by those I love. Not only has it drawn me closer to my land and home, but to my people, for they are products and beings of Earth too. This book has given so much to me, so in true reciprocal nature, I have chosen to take the time to write about it. Including the book in my English Honors Thesis has allowed me to give Kimmerer’s words the time and space they deserve. Kimmerer did not have to lend her Indigenous wisdom to us, but she chose to. For that, I am eternally grateful. And in the meantime, I will continue to give my copy to my friends, so that they might participate in this cycle of love.

Rewriting the Scorched Path: The Power of Communal Storytelling to Heal by Emily Reynolds

"This essay explores the question of how we can relearn to trust the land and heal our relationship with it after we’ve come face to face with natural disaster. Using the Marshall Fire as a framework, it argues that storytelling is essential to reestablishing this relationship."

Response to Braiding Sweetgrass by Fatima Bugaighis

"My work is focused more on responses to the chapters Kimmerer writes. I focused more on writing upon what I learned from Kimmerer's beautiful writing and how I can apply it to my life. It captures a real response on how human interacts with the restoration and relationship of our world today."

Eden by Anonymous

My piece aims to show how nature can heal, specifically women, if we treat it right.

Home in Hiding by Madison Dittmer

"My work highlights and calls for human attention to be placed on the "unseen" worlds. The world of the microbe and the world of nature through things like wind, for example. Kimmerer describes the hidden connections between nature and humans through her youth, scientific training, and spiritual knowledge. I reflect on these same concepts but personalize them through my experiences abroad, microbiology education, and beliefs of interconnectedness beyond human comprehension. This work captures reciprocal restoration through calling attention to the fact that our home--human's home--consists of unseen worlds that we only know through feelings and experiences of being alive. By restoring our understanding of interconnectedness of the world, a restoration of the human spirit and, hopefully, of nature is possible."

Apple by Anonymous

"The video is supposed to represent humans as a plant as the video shows how nature with its rain and sunlight helps us grow, but sometimes we forget to appreciate our environment and instead just see it as a resource. So, the video is showing us if we go in reverse we can find our trace connected to nature, which is the tree and we are just one of the millions of "apples" that is hanging from its branch. So, as people we have a duty to take care of the tree that gave us life from when we were just an "apple."

The Fourth Avatar by Anonymous

"This work weaves Hindu mythology with a love story, mixing the more-than-human elements of love and connection with the higher power ties to spirituality and God. I think it's really powerful how universal the human experience has been, and how long it's been perfectly retained in mythology and folklore."

Don't Wanna Grow Up by Lucy Esquivel

"My work captures the reciprocal restoration and relationship with the more-than-human world because it represents the way that commonly, people share such a special and passionate bond with nature and spirituality when they're younger/children, and with growth comes more obligation and thus leaves less time for this whimsical appreciation of the life in every individual thing that wasn't made by man. This piece is about never losing the respect and relationship to that beyond our complete understanding. "

Your Apple Trees by Mandy Widner

"Your Apple Trees" is a 30"x24" acrylic painting centered around a memory of apples. When my grandparents were alive, they had two Macintosh apple trees in their backyard. The apples themselves were beautiful with tones of red that melted into a vibrant green. They tasted perfectly tart and always the same. Although I don't remember the conversations we had while we ate those apples, fresh off the tree, I will never forget their taste. Their scent is a permanent memory of my youth. When my grandpa died, so did his tree. I remember it being sick along side him, slowly withering despite our efforts. My grandma eventually needed to leave that house and with her now gone, I know with certainty that the apple tree remains no longer. I always look, wherever I go, for Macintosh apples; however, never has their flavor even come close to the ones grown from those two trees. There are conversations with those apple trees that will never be had again, and I think that's only fair with the ways of the earth. "

Colors of the Natural World by Jayden Bergen

"My work incorporates oil pastels and pencils and uses vivid colors and natural imagery. I wanted to reflect on my experience with the natural world growing up in Granby Colorado. I wanted to focus not only on the gifts that the natural world provides, but the inherent beauty it possesses in its colors, shapes, and sounds. I wanted to emphasize looming mountains, swaying pines, and an ever-changing sky. When I was growing up, I was always observing how many colors existed in nature and how those colors changed in shade, in light, during the day, or at night. This piece allows me to reflect on our relationship with the natural world and the idea that nature is a silent witness to humanity and all beings. It has continued long before us and it will continue long after us. The question remains, not what more our natural environment can give us, but what we can give back in the form of conservation and appreciation of the natural splendors nature provides. "

Grateful Life by Sarah Fitzpatrick

"The food we eat, the water we drink, the shelters that hold and protect us, even the products made from oil are gifts from the Earth. I give gratitude to the Earth's many gifts by salvaging the gifts deemed as waste and transforming them into celebrations of life. With the message "we are nature" I hope to inspire viewers to reconnect with the Earth and search for common ground among the flying, swimming, swaying, and crawling beings. Recycled fashion is my medium for sharing my ode of gratitude to the living world; I give "waste" textiles another chance to dance & play and tell the story of creative & intentional regeneration. The majority of this outfit is made from a bed sheet, tank top & hat that were tossed in the trash at a Grateful Dead concert (plus additional secondhand paint & scrap fabric). I discovered these items while volunteering with Ralphie's Green Stampede and I thought of each item, not as trash, but rather as a story of the bugs, water, soil and people that manifested their creation. I instantly felt a responsibility to repurpose these pieces as an act of love and thanks to the creators. "

Memories by Gail Camron

"Memories as a concept is of course human, but those memories are influenced by dreams and nightmares. Changing the past of how we see the world and the self. "

Mother Earth is There to Care by Alexandra Poppitz

"This artwork is a digital encapsulation of the reciprocal relationship between our Mother Earth and all her beings. When we provide her with the respect and love she deserves, our world can properly flourish. Our home is comprised of more beings than just us humans. By portraying only some of the vast and beautiful creatures on this Earth, I hope to remind myself and others of who came first and combat the idea that humans deserve to take up more space on the hierarchy. "