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 writing, or the process of writing? Or a creative project that you are working on? and the role of community building, and its impact on mental health?
I would like readers to know that my writing is extremely ripe + raw. It reveals the inner most vulnerable parts of me and provides snapshots into how I absorb and process the world around me. I am a private person in real life, but in my writing not so much. I believe that writing is a tool for healing + resistance. This is a practice that has become my life’s work to share with women of color.
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?
Lately, I’ve had the urge to nurture something, so I have been purchasing flowers weekly and greenery occasionally. I place it in a mason jar + breathe in the fresh air. Like, water I love greenery: eucalyptus, fern, sage, and philodendron monstera. I love displaying greenery on Instagram because it represents the nurturer within.
What do you think are the five key characteristics of a successful place?
- Calming sounds
- Full of books
- Fresh scents
- Place of refuge
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 wellbeing?
I recently lead a six-week writing workshop for girls and women of color in Boston to produce an anthology entitled I Still Did It: Stories of Resilience. I worked collaboratively with them to produce stories about the adversities they faced and how they have overcame learning how to horseback ride, racism/sexism in the workplace, and being sexually and physically abused. Although my writing workshops were an act of service, I feel like it was more of an exchange of service because the girls and women of color truly inspired me to persevere during one of the most challenging times of my life. A lot of the writers admitted that they truly evolved and felt liberated after publishing their stories and I too can say the same. We found healing through vulnerability + transparency. Those women gave me so much life when I felt like my cup was so empty. Giving to others truly filled my cup again.
Would you be willing to share a memorable moment from 2018?
Publishing my first book of poetry, Water Carrier, available on www.nakiahill.com/books!
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?
Thank you for allowing me to share!
I believe that people of color sometimes need to be prompted to practice self-care. Self-care is a trendy term nowadays, but it is still necessary to embrace and act upon to ensure that we are healing ourselves. It is important to remember that our temple includes our psyche too, not just our physical body. Writing is a practice that has literally saved my life. And guess what? It’s free. Pick up a pen and a piece of paper and express the ugliest and most admirable parts of your life and watch healing take place. It is my life’s work to create spaces for my people to tell their stories and learn how to take care and breathe easy through writing.
Final thoughts from Nakia Hill (@Nakia_Hill):