Black w/ Plants: Community Building Q&A with Maryah Greene

January 2019–January 2020, Black with Plants will publish q and a on mental health + community building with botanists, college dropouts, horticulturalists, plant care specialists, natural hair experts, social justice advocates, sound therapists, etc. across the thirteen hardiness zones in the United States and African diaspora.

What do you want readers to know about Greene.Piece? Or a creative project that you are working on? and the role of community building, and its impact on mental health?
Greene.Piece is a platform that I created that serves as an informative space for anyone who is looking to add a bit of green life to their space. This can range from one’s apartment, work space, or even an event in which a social gathering might occur. Plants have started to become one of the most popular decorative pieces in spaces and I’ve found that people often have a difficult time either keeping their plants alive for long periods of time and/or figuring out which plants are the best/easiest to care for. Greene.Piece hopes to match clients with the best types of plants for their spaces by considering one’s lifestyle (time/ability to care for a selected plant) and desired aesthetic.

I’ve always believed that green life has a tremendous impact on human’s mental health. When I first moved to New York, I sort of felt like my space was lacking in some way. It took me a while to realize that I was going through somewhat of a withdraw from nature seeing as though I was now surrounded by concrete, skyscrapers, and this electrifying city that lacked any natural elements other than Central Park. This is what prompted me to do some exploring and bring a few plants into my room with hopes of bringing in some of the green life that I was craving. There’s something liberating about having a small life depending on you for its most fundamental needs like sunlight, water, maintenance, etc. Taking care of a plant can serve as a nice mental break from caring for any of the day-to-day responsibilities that involve meeting others expectations. Plant care should be simple if you have the right plants and that’s what Greene.Piece aims to share with everyone!
What about the opportunity to display foliage, etc. online (specifically via IG) first interested you in committing your time and energy to plant care-taking?
As stated above, I started a little hobby of exploring small plant shops in New York and flooding my small apartment with small pieces of green life to fill the void of NYC’s lack of nature. I soon started to merge my love for plants with design, and began hosting friends and family in my space. After being flooded with loving compliments and questions about how to achieve some of my work in other friend’s homes, I decided it might be easier to just create a social media platform in which my ideas and plant care methods could be available to all. Since launching the social media site, I found that the same longing for green life and aesthetically pleasing spaces existed across more than just my friend group. It was pretty awesome engaging with others who either had a similar passion for green life and/or those who were genuinely curious about how to care for and add plants to their spaces.
What do you think are the five key characteristics of a successful place?
Hmm, this is a very difficult question for me because it often differs based off of the client that I’m working with. Generally speaking, I think I’d have to narrow it down to three main characteristics: Functionality, Intentionality, and Personal. One’s space should be a reflection of who they are and their attempt to share that with anyone that may walk in the room. The best spaces speak for themselves. Furthermore, a functional space is a happy space. I have so many clients that are obsessed with the amazingly beautiful Ficus Trees. However, a lot of my clients also live in tiny Brooklyn apartments in which a Ficus Tree is taking up a large space in their corner that could be used as a valuable work space. Selecting green life that compliments the amount of space that one has is essential. The same can be said for sunlight, air quality, and temperature. A functional space considers all of these elements when deciding which plants are the best for a room.
Community engagement is a significant obligation of direct service. With that in mind, can you tell us about your experience in engaging with your contacts day-to-day? Do you notice services rendered positively affecting your contact’s psychological well-being?
Working with clients in-person or just engaging in meaningful conversations about green life through the online platform has had a tremendous effect on both myself and the people around me. I’ve received so many messages and comments about how much my work has has a direct impact on the way that people feel about their newly designed spaces after adding a bit of green life. This idea that something as small as a plant on a window sill can change one’s mood while they’re in a space just goes to show how liberating it is to find a plant that serves as a functional statement in a room.
Would you be willing to share a memorable moment from 2018?
One of my most memorable moments from 2018 was receiving a call from the New York Post asking to do a story covering the Greene.Piece platform. I was so unbelievably honored and humbled that my passion for something that was once so small grew into this overwhelmingly large part of my identity at 23 years old. When I first launched the social media profile, I intended it as a community space in which anyone could receive any sort of plant advice, inspiration, or reach out for services. It was pretty cool that a platform as large as the New York Post was interested in covering my newly developed small business.
Your perspective is invaluable. Thank you for distilling your talents, sharing your time, and a contributing to the local economy. Can you tell readers a little bit about your perspective on securing space for psychological healing and/or wellness?
I always say that I’m a strong believer that human beings are alive to love and be loved. Sometimes I find myself with absolutely no one around on my worse days and I find an ounce of purpose and responsibility in knowing that I have a life depending on me. My Monstera Plant hasn’t been watered today and even though I don’t necessarily feel as though I’m my best self, I know that I have the power to make sure that my plant baby won’t have to feel anything close to what I’m feeling because I can cure it all with a liter of water. To me, it just nice to care for something other than myself because as most hard working adults know, that’s a full time job and there aren’t always enough hours in the day.
Final thoughts from Maryah Greene (@Greene.Piece): 

Don’t be intimidated by taking on the job of incorporating some plants into your space. The watering schedule, sunlight needs, and maintenance seem like tasks and considerations that only come naturally to those with a green thumb: this idea couldn’t be farther from the truth. Before purchasing a plant, do a bit of research on yourself and decide what works for you. What is your day-to-day schedule like, how often are you likely to make time for plant maintenance, and what sort of style are you going for. There are many houseplants thats require very little maintenance and can serve as your small piece of nature in an otherwise green deprived room.
Greene.Piece hopes to serve as your go-to community platform of inspiration when it comes to making your space as functional as possible when it comes to adding plants.


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