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Chapter 1: yesterday I dreamt of a garden


Let's begin here.


Trail at United Plant Savers - April 2021

"There are more life forms in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the planet."

― Peter Wohlleben

When people ask me what brought me to Ohio, I like taking them on the scenic route of my story. But in a nutshell, it was the Land.

In 2021 I had the opportunity to get out of L.A. far enough that the landscape changed significantly. I spent two weeks at United Plant Savers, a local nonprofit whose mission is the assessment and conservation of native, medicinal plants. The second day after arriving I had already decided to come back to Ohio. I felt a deep calling to be with these new friends, plants and trees I had never seen, a silence that I have never heard. From that time, my first book HABITATS also started gestating inside my heart.

Because life is wise, and because where the heart rests is where the heart should dwell, in July of 2021, after giving away my apartment, giving notice at work, and be partially packed up, I received an email from UC DAAP offering me to teach a class that fall. I thought to myself that Cincinnati was barely a couple hours away from Rutland, so that would work.


A beech leaf at UpS - April 2021


Beech hugging Oak - UpS, April 2021

"Love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, it puts down deep roots into our whole being."

― Victor Hugo

When I first moved to Cincinnati, I found a tiny apartment for a tiny rent, and immediately moved in. Inoculated, however, by the beauty of the Ohio flora, I dreamt of a garden. In April 2022, as I wrote about in my Introduction, I moved into a space adjacent to a backyard.

I also acknowledge that, despite what I wrote in my Introduction, the wild, untamed, filled of debris and random trash back space that fell on my hands felt - to me - like a gift from Heaven. And - as such - the garden received pretty much most of my love, care, sweat, compliments, joy, labor, and money since then. And I never counted, because what you give to The Land, The Land brings back multiplied - and shares with others.

It's been two years since I started Jardín del Sol, and it is this season the one I enjoy the most, because the Plants come up right when I had given up hope. Proof that I should always - always - stay hopeful.

"Hope is a mighty seed that dreams in the dark."  - Angie Weiland-Crosby

So let's begin here.

Camp Washington is a neighborhood in Cincinnati that holds one of the lowest percentages of tree canopy and green spaces of the 52 neighborhoods in the city. With a history that involves being the manufacturing heart of the city from late 19th to mid 20th century, Camp Washington - like many other manufacturing centers in the U.S. - suffered the impacts of deindustralization in the 1970s and after, driving people away from the neighborhood. The environmental cost of its history is notable and with long-lasting effects that haunts us to this day. It feels as if once Cincinnati's once poster child is now an area of the city in disrepair, cast aside, and alone.

The story doesn't end here, though. It just begins.


The space for the Wellness Garden to-be. April 2024

When brainstorming with the good people of The Well about the project that I would undertake as Artist-in-Residence, the first thing I said is "I want to make a garden". Maybe because a garden to me signifies hope - for the future, for the Land, for the People. Maybe because the focus of my art practice has been trying to answer to the question of what it means to craft spaces for togetherness. This deep desire of making a garden for everyone solidified after learning about the history of the neighborhood, and from deeply feeling the lack of a space to rest my head on a tree or wonder over a plant blooming.

You may think of me as spoiled, but I think everyone should have a tree to rest their head on and a flower to marvel at close by.

Maybe because the Land - and the People - deserve better.


Unidentified plants amongst purple nettle. April 2024.

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”  — William Shakespeare

I have spent roughly two months dreaming of a garden for Camp Washington. It sounds like a lot, and it feels like no, time.

Today, after a couple of weeks of being in a state of half despair, I have hope. I had not yet seen the green grass of the site shared by neighbor and neighborhood advocate Sean Mullaney glistening under the bright sky. I had not walked the path and shared ideas and received feedback and encouragement. I had not seen people getting hopeful and excited with me.

It occurs to me that sometimes it only takes looking closer, walking slower, listening better, to feel hope raising, sprouting, flourishing, again.

So let's begin here - with hope in one hand, and a shovel in the other.


Note: there are currently many organizations in Camp Washington making a difference. If you would like to know more, become familiar with our amazing neighbors: Wavepool, The Welcome Project, and Camp Washington Urban Farm are just some of them.

If you would like to help the dream of The Wellness Garden come true, here's a few ways you can do that:

- Donate to The Wellness Garden: all your donations have great impact. Donations are awesome and help us get stuff for this project - however, if you feel more comfortable or simply have garden tools, materials, plants, seedlings, mulch, soil, compost, etc, we will 100% take those too. Please contact me if you have one of these kind of donations.

- Volunteer: we have designated Volunteering Days here. Please read the details and sign up if you would like to be part of this collective effort. Together is always better.

- Share your thoughts: here's a community input form where you can tell me stories about and share pictures of your favorite plants and garden tales. I would love to hear from you, this greatly informs my practice and understanding of people's relationship with the landscape. Thank you.

Here's an ever-evolving sketch/plan/idea for The Garden:

An in-progress plan for The Wellness Garden

We'd Love to Hear from You

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Our programs have been nourishing the community since 2005. In 2019, we became the non-profit, A Mindful Moment.


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