Place Corps Blog #4: Week of 9/9

A Full and Irresistible Harvest

The full moon approaches, nicknamed a Harvest Moon for the light she offers growers for their late evening harvests. As budding growers ourselves, the Place Corps cohort enjoys a fruitful harvest this week, with impressive progress on our building projects, freshly sown garden beds, jars and jars of plum fixings, armfuls of grumpy celery and carrots, and a big week ahead at Wild Earth. We’ve shared deep gratitude and feelings of accomplishment in our work, and searched for good rest to soothe our tired bodies.

Last night, we leaned into the final hugs of summer and shared a delicious dinner prepared by Lila and Sophia as a filling moon showered over us. That’s when Lila asked, “What can we offer our garden?”

What a brilliant and necessary question.

Even as we await the first buds to sprout, the land around us has already given us so much. How do we show our gratitude for her love? How do we exist in right relationship with her?

After completing our raised beds and nailing in the fourth wall of the garden shed, I felt incredible pride. I also felt something lacking in our efforts. What does it mean for us / me to send shovel and axe into Mahican land, or to build on top of it? Who are the ancestors that buried their love and labor into the soil beneath our feet and how do we honor them? What gifts can we offer the land as we pray for abundant life in return?

Similar questions came to mind as I watched Alone in the Wilderness. Dick Proenneke’s work and skill are impressive, and the satisfaction I found watching him build his cabin mirrored the satisfaction I find when I look at our garden shed and raised beds. Still, I found it challenging to fully and truly appreciate Dick’s work. From this archetype of the White man come to settle and show his skill and mastery, to the narrative of the Twin Lakes region as “untouched and wild”, I found myself more curious about the original keepers of those lands and where they were. I wondered how the land could be considered untouched after thousands of years inhabited by Denaʼina peoples. I wondered how Dick thought about his relationship to a divine and sacred land, and to its original keepers. I wondered how his solitary life compared with Denaʼina life across that same land.

I then thought about our week at Place Corps. With all of our accomplishments, what are the ways we / I have unconsciously replicated patterns of colonization, dominance, and extraction? How do we sit with narratives like Alone in the Wilderness that illustrate a very particular way of relating to the land around us, narratives that wouldn’t be possible without historic and ongoing genocide, violence, and erasure of indigenous peoples across Turtle Island? How do we continue to learn what it means to be in right relationship with people and the planet as we co-create place, and without condemning ourselves or others for thinking and working in the only ways we know? And how do we grow what we know so that we can better love and serve place across time and space?


Thank you to the Mahican ancestors who kept and honored these lands.

Thank you to current generations of Mahican peoples who keep and honor the lands they are on.

Thank you to my ancestors for loving and willing me into existence here and now.

Thank you to the organisms that have built and kept the soil from which we hope to harvest.

Thank you to the seeds we planted and the lineages from which they come.

Thank you to the water that fell from the sky and shot from the watering hose.

Thank you to the trees that gave us wood to build.

Thank you to the screws and nails that holds the garden shed together.

Thank you to the plum trees that have allowed us more jelly and jam than we can eat.

Thank you to the Hawthorne Valley farmers who let us glean celery and carrots from their fields.

Thank you to the opportunity to make mistakes and learn.

Thank you to the full moon and an irresistible harvest.

Jordan Williams