On the way to the high school this morning, I hear the line “the deep intelligence of the Earth” and decide to weave it into our morning check in with our Grade 9 students. Check ins are skill-building opportunities in reflective listening, empathy and assertive communication. Each youth is given the floor to share how they are feeling (we encourage them to move beyond socially acceptable “good” or “fine”) and answer a question that Kevin or I bring into the session. So my question is this… “One way I am taking care of the deep intelligence of the Earth is…”

It’s a deep, provocative, and confusing question. There isn’t one answer. These are the questions I enjoy putting forward into our R+R circles. I let youth know that being confused or not knowing answers is something they should not be ashamed of.  Just last week, I listened to a CBC radio documentary on the neurological importance of the “unknown”.

And on point, the question evokes further questions, confusion and debate. My kind of morning! I love my work.  Arriving into the possibility of circle each day and getting present.  The world needs more circles and definitely ones with lots of Grade 9’s.

Youth debate the term “deep intelligence of the Earth” and discuss tree, plant and animal intelligence. We weave in environmental concerns and one youth offers that he is taking care by making music.  Some youth ask what this has to do with them and refuse to see the connection between the Earth and us as humans.  I wonder if we asked the same question to youth in Asia, Africa, South America or in indigenous communities if the response would be any different. Other questions including, “ Is getting lost in life valuable sometimes?” and “Do we always need to have a plan?” emerge.

Grade 9, Monday morning.  Thoughtful, curious and wise voices show up in the circle. There are moments of quiet (we are working on explaining to youth why slowing down and embracing quiet are huge relationship skills!) and group wonder.

This R+R circle is one way we are taking care of the deep intelligence of the Earth.


Christina Antonick – Adult facilitator, Respectful Relationships Program (R+R)

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