Black w/ Plants: Natural Fibers Q&A with Shaina Johnson

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 Beautiful Peace? Or a creative project that you are working on? and the role of community building, and its impact on mental health?
 
Beautiful Peace actually came from the meaning of my first and middle name. I have since tried to embody and represent that. Continuously seeking and practicing peace, and to exude beauty from within. Right now, I am working on developing the natural hair organization I founded on Eastern Michigan University’s campus back in 2014 –N.A.P.S. (Natural Authentic Passionate Stylish), to be a recognized non-profit organization. (Details are coming soon!)
 
Community building is so important, it keeps us connected and I think that connection-feeling and knowing that you’re not alone-directly impacts our mental health.
 
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?
 
There is something so comforting about foliage. There’s beauty in the stillness. When I had these photos taken I was in a very low mood/state of mind. I chose this display because it just felt right, it felt grounding, hopeful and peaceful.
 
What do you think are the five key characteristics of a successful place?

     

  1. The Colors,
  2. the music,
  3. the fragrance,
  4. the knowledge of the services or goods provided,
  5. and the customer service.

Essentially atmosphere and knowledge. You want people to feel good coming into a place and to feel welcome. And then the loyalty I believe is built off of how well they’re treated and if this place is an “expert” in what they provide.
 
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?
 
N.A.P.S. has created a group chat community in order to stay connected on a day-to-day with members. What began as a way to give information, also turned into a line of support. Definitely positive affect on individuals psychological well being because it is a safe space. I’ve observed folks come in with just a need of support and folks showed up in whatever ways that were needed.
 
Would you be willing to share a memorable moment from 2018?
 
Zoom calls with my now distant friends. Every month, since post-July 2018, we schedule a group video call and check in with one another. It’s very filling and heart warming. We’ve created a closeness and a sense of care even though we’re all miles away.
 
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?
 
It’s important! You can be healthy but not well. I hope to see many forms forms of teaching about psychological wellness as we progress through this life. It’s necessary.
 

Final thoughts from Shaina Johnson (@__beautifulpeace):

Thank you for letting me be apart!

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