Essential Eight with Ecologist and Writer Laura Pustarfi, PhD
Laura Pustarfi’s scholarly work is at the intersection of philosophy, ecology, and religion. She is adjunct faculty in Philosophy and Religion and Associate Director of the Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Certificate Program at CIIS. She completed her doctoral work in Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion in 2019.
Her scholarly interests include plant studies, integral ecology, and environmental humanities, especially environmental philosophy, eco-phenomenology, and religion and ecology. You can learn more about what Laura’s up to on her personal website, www.laurapustarfi.com.
We recently sat down with Laura to learn about her eight essentials—here’s what she told us.
An essential book to read
I highly recommend Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Kimmerer is a biologist and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in North America, and she speaks passionately about her experiences with plants, teaching undergrads, and about Indigenous philosophies.
An essential poem to ponder
Any poem from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours is worth pondering. I’m especially moved by the one that begins “I live my life in widening circles / that reach out across the world.”
An essential podcast to listen to
Krista Tippett’s On Being is a conversational podcast that asks essential questions of the deep thinkers of our time. Krista is an excellent interviewer and brings out unique insights from her guests.
An essential quote to think over
An essential quote is by Friedrich Nietzsche from Thus Spake Zarathustra: “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”
An essential Instagram account to follow
I recommend the Intersectional Environmentalist Instagram account, started by Leah Thomas, for grounded, justice-focused environmental content.
An essential cause in your life
My work centers around plants, particularly trees and forests, so I recommend several non-profits that focus on trees including the Old Growth Forest Network, the International Tree Foundation, Friends of the Urban Forest, and the Plant Initiative among others.
An essential show to watch
In Netflix’s How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan shows both the history and current scientific research on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, promising treatments for PTSD and depression in particular and connected to a long lineage of sacred plant medicine traditions around the world, particularly held by Indigenous cultures.
An essential activity to try
Mindfulness is something to try, whether through a meditation class, an activity like forest bathing outdoors, or through an app for even a few minutes a day.
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