Growing Points: The New Territory Issue 01

BY TINA CASAGRAND | PUBLISHER
Chase County, Kansas In spring, my friend from Seattle came to visit me. I wanted to show her the fires that burn the prairies of Kansas. We saw smoke on the horizon and drove to this spot where three men had begun the process of renewal. STEPHAN ANDERSON-STORY

Chase County, Kansas In spring, my friend from Seattle came to visit me. I wanted to show her the fires that burn the prairies of Kansas. We saw smoke on the horizon and drove to this spot where three men had begun the process of renewal. STEPHAN ANDERSON-STORY

Of all the words that bolster my days, Walt Whitman’s, “The Prairie-Grass Dividing” rests closest to my heart. The poem exhalts, thunderously, a “spiritual corresponding” that Midwesterners have with the land, and it ends with the lines: “Those of earth-born passion, simple, never-constrain’d, never obedient/Those of inland America.”

Cherishing my heritage in Missouri took time. As a child, I wanted to run with wolves in Alaska. As a teenager, I longed to make a name in the culture of coastal cities. TV and magazines taught me those places held promise, but rarely turned a lens to the central United States. When I finally learned to look inward, I found joy and peace are possible, right here in Missouri, right now. This is something we all must discover, wherever we are.

When bison roamed the prairie, grasses survived thousands of hooves, hundreds of mouths, eating and tramping for days at a time. I recently learned how: Unlike trees, which grow buds above ground, perennial plants store their growing points under the soil’s surface. The metaphor hit me as hard as a Whitman verse. A theme of harboring strength in the earth draws a line through all these stories. Whether it’s building relationships through a river’s meandering, betting on dirt for your livelihood for your livelihood, or planning 1,000 years ahead with existing land use as a guide, our successes all come from right where we’re planted. Likewise, fostering peace in your community, showing children respect, and feeling the earth’s changes within yourself, as in Kate Strum’s “Personal Geology” is another, emotional, form of the same idea.

It’s this deep-rooted soul work­—trust in ourselves and the places we live—that holds us close like a mother, guides us through hardships and provides energy whenever we’re ready to grow. This may not be exclusive to inland America, but I can’t help but feel that it gives us an advantage. Others haven’t bothered to interpret our history, so we get to tell these stories ourselves. They start in the soil and build outward from those growing points, safe within us and just underfoot.

I’m proud to showcase these writers and stories that so clearly belong to this land and strive toward making it better. If you’re reading this, you’re part of a new community that believes our provenance can be the source of our possibilities. Keep a place open for those growing points.

Enjoy Issue 01.

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