By Lee Ruffino, Board Vice Chair, Co-op Owner
Aanii, hello, my name is Lee Ruffino and I am currently serving as Vice Chair on the GreenTree Board of Directors. I am truly honored to be a part of the upcoming expansion of my favorite little store. As a lifelong resident of the area and long-time shopper at GreenTree, I love to advocate for the local, organic and sustainable options that GreenTree offers us. In fact, sustainability is an important theme throughout my life.
I am an employee of the 7th Generation Elijah Elk Cultural Center on the reservation; we have a small farm with two greenhouses for growing food and traditional medicines and we also have a community garden. To our community, we offer Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe Language) lessons, seasonal feasts, traditional arts workshops, and much more. Over the past year, our department has been striving to become a more sustainable and environmentally friendly place, so that we, the 7th Generation Program, can live up to our name. GreenTree and the Co-op staff have had a huge impact on our path toward increasing sustainable practices by offering educational booths, presentations, and resources at our events and we are immensely grateful. I am very excited about the upcoming expansion, as the opportunities to educate our community will increase.
Long term growth is an essential part of both increasing sustainability and building community. This is how the 7th Generation Program, rooted in our tribal community, came to be. Twenty seven years ago tribal elders envisioned a place to bring us together, an inter-generational learning experience where we could practice our beautiful cultural ways. The 7th Generation philosophy is based on our traditional Anishinaabe values and beliefs. It reminds us that our actions today will have impact on our people in the future.
To look Seven generations behind, we want to honor those ancestors who have sacrificed so much, by living in harmony with the land, and securing our connection with the earth. We also understand and look at the Seven generations ahead, to make sure that when we use our resources we are always keeping all people in mind, so that they may have enough to live securely and healthily. The ancient philosophy also reminds us to maintain our lands’ health. Our future generations depend on us to make sure there are clean waters, seeds, and soil, so that they may have the opportunity to live a quality life. These values are essential to a sustainable future and a healthy world. Both the 7th Generation Program and GreenTree Co-op work to create a clear path forward, making these values more obtainable for the people of today and those who will walk here Seven generations from now.
Steadily, the 7th Generation Center has been implementing more green practices into the departmental day to day activities as well as large events. I am hoping to continue on this sustainable path, while encouraging others in my community to do the same, for our planet. All of us are care-takers of this earth, we have a responsibility to make good choices when it comes to our Aki (earth), doing what is best for her. As a cultural department, 7th Generation is trying to keep these values in mind while we are living in a consumerist society. Our department offers many cultural and community oriented events. When we purchase food and supplies for our community events, we remind ourselves to use the best possible resources, and GreenTree Co-op always comes to mind. Chi Miigwetch (thank you) GreenTree!