Introduce yourself! What should the world know about you?
I am an academic in the biology, English, and chemistry field. I am an artist and primarily sing, produce music (EDM, trip-hop, jazz, blues, and world). I own a small business where I incorporate herbalism, literature, and science as a means to community build and provide holistic aid. I have been a community organizer for over 18 years and am currently a Board of Director at a 22-year non-profit in inner-city Chicago. While I am academically in the STEM and English field, I spend quite of bit of time working with sociologists and anthropologists in community work. I enjoy conducting independent research, writing grants, and helping to make the world as it is, the world as it could be. I love my family and my 2 cats. I like learning and engaging with different cultures because I am able to see myself in others.
What are you passionate about?
Family life (including the global family), social justice, education, language, culture, hiking, nature, art, cooking, movies, and being a better me.
What drives you as a person, a leader, and a storyteller? What or who shapes you?
I am driven by experiencing the human condition and see it expressed by others. I am driven by being part of nature, not different from it, in an absolute sense. I have been studying and engaging with literature since I was a child– reading Alice Walker and Henry David Thoreau. I am shaped by my mother’s raising of 4 kids on her own. I am shaped by the economic struggle most of my life has been fighting against. I am shaped by the prejudice I have experiences and my personal growth in being assertive and confident. I am shaped by beautifully and uniquely written words or texts that engage my mind and my heart, which make me think differently and help me become who I am journeying towards. I am shaped by my family lineage and the tones we share when we are joyful or sad. I am shaped by community and I shape community. I am driven to help change the world in a positive direction for all people, in whichever capacity I can. Storytelling is one way. I believe more people need to utilize language to grow and help grow others.
Why did you apply to the Rethink Outside™ Fellowship? What are you hoping to learn from this experience?
I applied to this fellowship because I believe I have experience, skills, and knowledge to offer. Those skills of being a writer and a creative writer– an academic writer, a naturalist, and a person that studies nature. Mostly, I applied to this fellowship because I enjoy learning and being challenged, and connecting with others and growing, and helping to create a strong, robust transformational community. I hope to improve and diversify my perceptions, knowledge, and writing abilities.
How will the Rethink Outside™ Fellowship experience help you address the systemic barriers for access to, and representation / leadership of Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the movement to connect people and nature?
Refining our skills, expressing our skills, and sharing our skills will help us as nature lovers and writers and it creates community. Our identities are not only personal but communal. All leaders and representatives gain experience by cultivating skills– this opportunity is one I believe will do that. Not only do I believe this experience will foster creative and powerful representation, I believe it will propel us into a future seen but also unseen, and one that will be necessary for the individuals doing the work and the individuals that will come see our paths, take what resonates and continue the story of our growth. Right now, environmental stewardship is highly leaded by non-BIOPC. I believe this fellowship will help increase diversity and hopefully, funnel BIOPC as writers and connectors with nature and those that take care of land.
What is your favorite activity / place which connects you to nature and the outdoors?
Hiking, walking, and organism ID. Listening to nature. Traversing it. Learning it. Welcoming it and leaving it.