I live and work in the Connecticut River Valley, on the unceded land of the Podunk, Tunxis, Wangunk and Sicoag tribes. This is the 528th year of European colonization of these lands. I am grateful to live here and I honor the continued strength, resilience, knowledge and cultures of the Native people of Quinnehtukqut. Nook Farm House is my home and ecological studio. In the 19th century this lot was part of Nook Farm, a literary community in Hartford. Nook Farm was many things: a stop on the Underground Railroad, the agrarian intellectual neighborhood of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Samuel Clemens, a place where abolitionists and feminists planned strategy. These days, the nearby section of the Park River, which provided the bending 'nook' of Nook Farm, is channelized and paved over and Interstate highway 84 has been built over it. Our neighborhood of Asylum Hill borders downtown Hartford and contains a mix of insurance corporate headquarters, boxy apartments built in the 1960s, historic churches, and old houses scattered between neglected empty lots. Decades of restricted, racist lending practices known as Redlining have shaped this place, as has this state's continued history of economic and racial segregation.
I moved here four years ago to live in this diverse community after getting to know other urban farmers through my work with KNOX. My ecological, socially-engaged practice has taken root here through mycelial experimental art, a dye garden, an herbal healing practice, a food pantry, bee hives, espelliered pear trees, willow fedges, a small bamboo grove, as well as vegetable gardening and raising chickens. This 150'x50' plot of land is an indoor-outdoor studio, and the foundation of my work as an artist, writer and educator. Our first action here was to de-pave the backyard and revivify the soil. My ecological art requires a deep and sustained relationship to place and community. Being connected to my neighbors and living in relationship within the web of life here is the foundation of my life's work. In this time of mass extinction and climate catastrophe I am called to work with my human and more-than-human communities to help increase our resilience.