Beronda L. Montgomery discusses her new book, Lesson from Plants (Harvard University Press), with Crystal M. Fleming.
“An invitation to awareness, awe, and curiosity. Beronda Montgomery takes us deep into the sophisticated and life-giving behaviors and community lives of plants, giving us evergreen lessons about resilience and diversity along the way.”—David George Haskell, author The Songs of Trees
This event will be streamed on our Crowdcast channel.
About Lessons from Plants
We know that plants are important. They maintain the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. They nourish other living organisms and supply psychological benefits to humans as well, improving our moods and beautifying the landscape around us. But plants don't just passively provide. They also take action.
Beronda L. Montgomery explores the vigorous, creative lives of organisms often treated as static and predictable. In fact, plants are masters of adaptation. They "know" what and who they are, and they use this knowledge to make a way in the world. Plants experience a kind of sensation that does not require eyes or ears. They distinguish kin, friend, and foe, and they are able to respond to ecological competition despite lacking the capacity of fight-or-flight. Plants are even capable of transformative behaviors that allow them to maximize their chances of survival in a dynamic and sometimes unfriendly environment.
Lessons from Plants enters into the depth of botanic experience and shows how we might improve human society by better appreciating not just what plants give us but also how they achieve their own purposes. What would it mean to learn from these organisms, to become more aware of our environments and to adapt to our own worlds by calling on perception and awareness? Montgomery's meditative study puts before us a question with the power to reframe the way we live: What would a plant do?
About the participants
Beronda L. Montgomery is MSU Foundation Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology, she was named one of Cell's 100 Inspiring Black Scientists in America.
Crystal M. Fleming, PhD, is a writer and sociologist who researches racism in the United States and abroad. She earned degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and is associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University. Fleming writes about race, sexuality, and politics for publications including The Root, Black Agenda Report, Vox, and Everyday Feminism, and she has tens of thousands of followers on social media. She is the author of Resurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France and How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy and the Racial Divide (Beacon Press, 2018).