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Niko Kirby

Growing Gardeners with DUG featured in USDA Farm to School Newsletter

By Education, News

DUG’s new ECE Growing Gardeners Initiative brings younger children into the garden.

.The National Gardening Association reports huge increases in the number of people engaging in gardening, documenting over 18 million new gardeners in the US in 2021. Gardens encourage us to ‘slow down’ and appreciate the interconnected community of soil, plants, and critters while improving our mental health and wellbeing. For children, the garden provides opportunities for cultivating the wonder and joy of experiential learning while connecting to our lifegiving earth and soil.

Denver Urban Gardens’ (DUG) Growing Gardeners Initiative, a Fiscal Year 2021 Farm to School Turnkey Grantee, creates a system of resources for bringing younger children into the garden. Hands-on DUG lessons investigating composting worms under magnifying glasses, engaging in cooking and trying new foods in garden clubs, and planting seeds and seedlings for the season provide students with memorable time in the soil.

Studies show that exposure to gardens at a younger age increases the chance that children will continue to value healthy eating and gardening into adulthood. Working with a cohort of twelve Denver Public Schools early childhood educators, DUG provided year-long training to increase teachers’ comfort level in taking students outside and integrating gardens into their curricula.

The initiative’s first year has been a great success thanks to the commitment of these teachers. Additional lessons, webinars, and video content will be made available on upon completion.

Children need unstructured physical activity. As they work to turn the soil and care fortheir baby plants, gardens serve as both guardian and nurturer–an outdoor classroom with quiet, secret places that allow kids to discover that as they care for a plant, they are also protected. They learn the importance of self, that their efforts are important, and that working together and respecting diversity is part of the process of growth.

Moving forward, DUG will support a new cohort of teachers with year-long programming.  Local grant funds will further deepen our efforts by incorporating sensory garden plots at selected DUG school-based community gardens.

Check out DUG’s feature in the USDA Farm to School newsletter here.

DUG Garden Adoption Program is Developing Roots!

By News

We are thrilled to share that DUG’s Adopt a Garden program has kicked off with tremendous success. 

This year, 17 local and national organizations have invested in garden communities across the DUG network, ensuring that these gardens have the necessary physical and human resources to thrive. These organizations will also provide ongoing stewardship of the garden in partnership with the Garden Leadership to ensure the garden community is maintained and thriving. Learn more about our garden adopters below!

Thank you to each of these organizations for making a huge difference in our community – and we’d love to give an extra big thank you to Illegal Pete’s for adopting 7 gardens!

To learn more about the garden adoption program or see which gardens have been adopted, click here.

Meet the 2022 DUG Corps!

By News

This season, seven wonderful 2022 DUG Corps members are here to support DUG gardens and host Micro Network events. Please help us welcome Chris, Cydnie, Danielle, Lauren, Marisa, Tanisha, and Taylor – and look for them in a garden near you!

Chris Sell

Chris spent most of his life in the mountains of West Virginia and Maryland, but always hoped to venture west. After college, he moved to Denver seeking adventure, more time outdoors, and new opportunities. Upon arriving in Colorado, Chris followed his curiosity and started working for a major cannabis company as a horticulturist. During that time, he absorbed a wealth of knowledge about plant science, and his passion for plants truly blossomed. Ever since, Chris has devoured any resources he can find about gardening and permaculture, and he endeavors each summer to improve his own backyard garden. Chris is so excited to serve with DUG because he believes wholeheartedly in DUG’s mission, and feels grateful for the opportunity to connect with gardeners from his community.

Cydnie Wilson

Cydnie has recently returned to her home state of CO from the city/state where Agriculture is the number one industry, Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, Kansas. For 7 years, she dedicated her life in service to others in Hospitals as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Facing burnout from working on the Frontlines during the onset of the Pandemic in 2020 and 2021, she decided to shift gears. The Denverite has been an avid gardener in her young adult years, and realized it all started with gardening with her mother as a child. Her love for nature and the outdoors was only exacerbated by growing up in Colorado! Her father, a native New Yorker, became a "Black Cowboy" (in his heart, at least) when he moved to CO in the late 70's and could only spread his joy for the "Wild West" to his children--taking them skiing, horseback riding, camping, fishing, white water rafting and hiking whenever he could!

Cydnie now appreciates her CO upbringing more than ever (though she still isn't too fond of all the snow). She is proud to serve her home City in the DUG Corps. In her free time, when not tending to her own garden, Cydnie enjoys expressing herself in all things musically, and enjoys writing as well.

Danielle Peterson

Danielle grew up in rural Iowa. She has 15 years of marketing and project management experience. Her passion is aliveness and wishes to be a participatory human. Her love of plants, soil, and community brought her back into the DUG community in 2022 to fulfill her passions and be part of something united.

She completed DUG’s Master Gardener Program in 2010 to help a school garden she funded, developed, and taught at for over 10 years. Danielle also wrote her own garden curriculum in which she managed and taught for 10 years. All of this with kids eventually inspired her to start her own business in 2017 as a personal / ecopsychologist and yoga instructor for adult humans. Her greatest teachers have been plants….and it all started for her at a school garden.

She strongly believes that school and community gardens revitalize something and believes it helps bring nature to the human soul in an urban setting. Fast forward 20 years, she is now back at DUG wanting to serve the community.

Lauren Groth

Lauren is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She moved out to Denver two years ago to attend graduate school and just graduated with her M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her favorite hobby is traveling and learning everything that she can about new areas.

Marisa Loury

Growing up in New Jersey with a food-loving Italian family, Marisa learned to celebrate community and express gratitude while sharing fresh, handmade meals. Starting off as a restaurant server, she quickly became passionate about cultivating an equitable and sustainable food system. While working and going to school in Burlington, Vermont, she campaigned alongside migrant farmworkers for labor and housing rights on dairy farms and moved to Denver in 2021 where she began coordinating gleans with UpRoot Colorado. Marisa holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Global Studies from the University of Vermont. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with friends, drawing, and riding her bike.

Tanisha Diggs

Tanisha S. Diggs lives in Aurora, Colorado and she is a current scholar with Kansas State University pursuing a B.S. in Animal Science and Industry-Production Management, anticipated graduation is May 2024. She is a new inductee of The Mortar Board Honor Society - who values scholarship, leadership & service to aid those in need. Tanisha found her affinity for animal care early in childhood and began pursuing a career in veterinary medicine. She was certified by The Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians in 2009, and worked in the veterinary field for 15 years.

A Servant to the community is a role where Tanisha excels. She volunteers at a local farm, leading tours and teaching 4-H students about poultry husbandry. Tanisha uses her adept knowledge as a Master Composter and Master Community Gardener to partner with growers who promote healthy lifestyle changes that heal the soul. Her service to Americorps is two-fold - first to be the change that others are expecting, by connecting with those who are in need. Second, to role model the way for her children what it means to be a good steward and servant of the community. In her free time, Tanisha is the mother of two teenage sons, and a fur parent of a mischievously intelligent border collie.

Taylor Kibble

Taylor has a long background in leading and directing summer day camps and after-school programs, seizing any opportunity to introduce methods of environmental education and exploration into the lessons, activities, and field trips. An AmeriCorps alumni, gaining experience in multi-use trail building/management, home construction, and farming, Taylor has joined DUG as an AmeriCorps service member with DUG Corps. Amidst the extensive work experience, Taylor simultaneously worked to earn her Bachelors in Geography and Environmental Sciences at CU Denver in 2021. Her free time is primarily occupied with maintaining her home garden with her cat, Johnathan.

Meet our DUG Corps Members at a Micro Event Near You!

These events are designed to strengthen skills in gardening and composting as well as create opportunities to connect across the DUG Network.

The Benefits of 1-on-1 Garden Coaching

By Boundless Landscapes

I’ve made every gardening mistake in the books so you don’t have to!

By Jennifer “Fern” Deininger, Farmer & Gardener

If you’d asked me a couple of years ago about doing online garden coaching to help people gain the knowledge and skills needed to grow their own food with ease, I probably would have expressed my doubts and graciously passed on the opportunity. But now I’m a true believer. One-on-one and group Zoom coaching with Boundless Landscapes has allowed me to support more people and at a lower cost to them than I ever could have if I was traveling from garden to garden to offer guidance. And, it turns out to be quite effective! A recent coaching client said, “Thank you for arranging our time with Fern.  It was really very helpful, not only for trying to figure out what to do with our spaces but for additional practical information as well.  We left the session feeling less hopeless and helpless.” Yes! That’s what I’m talking about. 

Some call me Farmer Fern—I’ve been growing food my whole life, and have a passion for helping others get comfortable gardening. Currently, one of the ways I do that is as a coach and educator at Boundless Landscapes. So many of us have been taught that the best way we can lower our carbon footprint is to do as little damage to our ecosystem as possible, but I would wager that we have that slightly wrong.

My goal is to empower people (whether they’re first-time gardeners or seasoned pros) to be as active as possible and to do as much good as they can in our ecosystem. For many of us (kiddos too!) that means getting our hands dirty, forming relationships with our surrounding environment, and sharing the bounty with our neighbors.

I was farming professionally with Boundless Landscapes when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Amidst all of the fear, grief, and turmoil, so many members of our community turned to the land for comfort. More people picked up gardening for the first time than I had ever seen in my lifetime. Seed stores were sold out, and nurseries were back-ordered for potting soils, mulches, and fertilizer. For the first time, many people were home enough to feel that they had the time to garden, and for others, there was a desire to grow their own food to help limit trips out to the grocery and protect against supply chain disruptions.

That’s where the one-on-one coaching comes in! This offering emerged out of the hunger for gardening-related information in the midst of the pandemic. Boundless Landscapes sprang into action to offer 30-minute, 45-minute, and hour-long sessions via video calls to discuss any and all things related to gardening.We help provide regionally-specific advice for new and experienced gardeners based on their specific microclimates, the time of year, and household budgets. 

I’ve been able to help folks plan their veggie garden, learn about cover crops, figure out how to harvest arugula and trellis tomatoes, and decide on how to fertilize.

There is a lot of lawn in this county, arguably a bit too much (Did you know lawn is the largest irrigated “crop” in the US and covers 40 million acres of land?), and at Boundless Landscapes we’ve been chipping away at it as best as we can! If I could personally go out and help turn every lawn into a garden or perennial habitat I would, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Our goal is to help empower homeowners, neighborhoods, business owners, churches, schools, and whole blocks to go for it and garden. 

While growing food is not rocket science, it requires collaborating with nature and that is a messy (and beautiful) process inevitably full of challenges and learning opportunities. In our coaching sessions, I always invite curiosity about the things that “worked”, but especially about those that didn’t! I’ve had many gardening role models in my life who have kindly shared all sorts of wisdom with me—but probably the best thing I’ve learned from all of these folks is that it’s okay to make mistakes when gardening, as long as you learn from them, gather support when you need it, and share what you’ve learned with others! 

Turning your lawn into a garden may seem daunting but I’m here to help folks jump in and give it a try because the need is immense, the momentum is here, and our neighborhoods and communities will be so much better for it!

You can book One-on-One coaching sessions at where $5 from every session will be donated to DUG. Happy growing!

DUG Named as a 2022 Fast Company Award Finalist!

By News

We’re thrilled to annouced that Denver Urban Gardens has been named as a Finalist of Fast Company’s
2022 World-Changing Ideas Awards!

The winners of Fast Company’s 2022 World-Changing Ideas Awards were announced May 3rd, honoring clean technology, innovative corporate initiatives, brave new designs for cities and buildings, and other creative works that are supporting the growth of positive social innovation, tackling social inequality, climate change, and public health crises. 

Now in its sixth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 39 winners, 350 finalists, and more than 600 honorable mentions—with climate, social justice, and AI and data among the most popular categories. A panel of eminent Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 2,997 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, health, social justice, and more. In addition, several new categories have been added this year including climate, nature, water, and workplace. The 2022 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Switzerland to Hong Kong to Australia.

Fast Company’s Summer 2022 issue will showcase some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and companies tackling global challenges. The issues highlight, among others, probiotics for coral reefs, easy-to-assemble kit homes for refugees or disaster survivors, a 3D printed vaccine patch, an electric truck, a system to heat homes from the waste heat of a name-brand factory, and prosecutor-initiated resentencing for overly long prison sentences.

“We are consistently inspired by the novelty and creativity that people are applying to solve some of our society’s most pressing problems, from shelter to the climate crisis. Fast Company relishes its role in amplifying important, innovative work to address big challenges,” says David Lidsky, interim editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists have identified some of the most ingenious initiatives to launch since the start of 2021, which we hope will both have a meaningful impact and lead others to join in being part of the solution.”

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

DUG is thrilled and honored to be able to magnify the power of gardens through this nomination. Read the full list of award winners here.

Sparking Curiosity in Community

By Faces of DUG

#31, Meet Paula, Backyard Gardener, World Traveller, and Bilingual Youth Education Coordinator

I have known about Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) for many years–I think I heard about DUG through the Slow Food social media pages. So when the Bilingual Youth Education Coordinator position that I applied for became available, it seemed like a really great place to start. Education is what I’m passionate about, and also all the intersections with growing food, children, and youth – it was a really good place where it all kind of came together.

My mother was a peasant farmer in Colombia when she was little, but they were taken from their land due to the civil war in Colombia. So farming wasn’t something she did when I was her daughter. She had plants, but it was more like ornamentals & houseplants, and then my first very first garden was here in Denver, sometime around 2010, when I started planting a few pots and had my first tomato plant. Then, by 2016, I had beds in my backyard, and I was growing food about 10 months out of the year.

When I dug in, I was very curious. I read and read and read, and tried things that failed a lot. Then I would try again, and things would work out. 

The garden is a place where I can meditate. I know people like to get up early and do their own internal search and things like that. To me, that’s too unsettling, sitting there and not doing anything. Gardening is my form of meditation, tending to the plants, taking in their daily progress. I like asking ‘How are they? What are they doing today? What needs do they have?’ I think that that process is very mindful. That’s been very helpful in the sense that it helps me get to a place of calmness – especially when I was working in the hospitality industry. Every day, six in the morning, I would be in my backyard. Digging dirt. 

When I first started with the garden idea, my husband was like, ‘nope’, because he hated weeding, and I think that that’s something that we tend to have kids do. At one point, it just kind of happened – gardens are very welcoming. Over time, the garden became that one thing in which the two of us could come together, and I think it’s helped us grow in a sense. There is pride in growing something. The way I won him over is when I would see that something was ready to be harvested, and I wouldn’t harvest it; instead, I would call him to harvest it. He started off harvesting the carrots and potatoes. I would say “Hey, you want to get some lettuce for lunch?” And he would go outside and clip the lettuce, and he absolutely loved that & the idea that gardens can give you that power back that ‘I know I grew this, and I can put it in my body, and I feel happy.’

Everybody has to eat. We’ve been conditioned to believe that good food is only for those who can buy it. Challenge that to the core.

I have a Master’s Degree in Gastronomy, World Food Cultures and Mobility from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, which is also known as the Slow Food University.

What these studies addressed is really the global food system – anything that has to do with growing food, but also the impact that it has socially, environmentally, and financially around the world. We worked with indigenous communities, and learned about immigration laws around the world with different trade policies, tying them to the ecology of the land, how we build cultures, and how cultures have moved around the world. That’s the mobility part – how crops have moved around the world and created the extension of cultures. For example, the tomato bean from the Americas has moved to Italy, and now is known as an Italian thing, but it isn’t really Italian, it is native to the Americas.

And then what happens after that is how culture has become industrialized, and is used to sell us products that are fully industrial, but still have that cultural layer, creating environments where we don’t question any of it.

Gardens bring us back to the earth, and you can be very metaphorical with it, but it literally brings you back to the earth and where our food comes from.

We’ve gotten so divorced from the whole process of feeding ourselves, that we don’t even know where things come from, how they’re grown, and what it takes to grow food.

There’s always the expectation that food has to be cheap. But there’s no real thought about why it’s cheap, because we’re exploiting people who are growing the food.

It’s also a way to help heal the earth that we are destroying. Gardens are spaces where we can learn, or relearn, to get in touch with that which is very central to humans. We don’t have any connection to our food, especially if we live in the city. Gardens give back power to the people to put food that is healthy and nutritious in our bodies. It provides sovereignty, especially in neighborhoods where the only food that you find is designed to keep people unhealthy. Gardening regains food sovereignty: it’s not a privilege to have good food, it is our right.

The more we connect to the understanding that we are not above the system, that we’re part of the whole ecosystem, and that what we do here affects many parts of the ecosystem, then the more we can hope to understand that we need to also fight.

I think it’s all about just waking up the little bit of curiosity we all need.

DUG is working towards giving that opportunity to people to connect to & grow their own food by sharing the resources that we have, and educating on why we need to protect them – then perhaps sparking that curiosity of what else is out there.

There is also the educational part – I think that specifically for me being in youth education is showing that the next generation can be more thoughtful about connecting with the earth & with our food. When things like this are difficult to talk about, people tend to shut down, they don’t want to talk about it, it’s uncomfortable. This is why it’s important to garden, people can see their greater impact. It brings to light to a larger, shared humanity that we can see; we’re part of a community.

When we grow food or when we cook, we want to share it with people. Food is central to our human existence, and a communal part of our world and of our lives – we just forget.

Gardens help us bring that back. If we can grow our food, and cook it, and share with people, that in itself just brings to the forefront that communal nature that is very ingrained in us.

Hopefully the youth we are working with take home the plants or the knowledge we are sharing with them, and then pass on their excitement and curiosity with their parents about their little plant; how they put the seed in the dirt, and how now it has grown. At any age, you can spark that excitement of ‘I had a seed, and now it is a carrot.’

Right now, I have about 20 little pea plants in my pots. I love peas because they just seem very friendly. As they grow they have these little tendrils and they look like they have a little skirt, so when the wind hits them, they kind of look like little butterflies, and then they have these wild little flowers. Sometimes they have pink little flowers, depending on the variety, and then the flower shoots up pea pods. I just love them, they’re so beautiful. They smile at me. It’s so cute.

For anyone new to gardening, my advice would be to plant things you like to eat. Also don’t be afraid of things dying. You will learn, don’t get discouraged.

Some years will be great, some years will not. And that doesn’t determine your skill as a gardener, so instead of taking it as a failure, take it as a learning experience. Take whatever outcome, and try to get curious about why that happened. And you can make the changes that you need for the next year, you can make it a lifelong practice. 

More Faces of DUG

Faces of DUG
June 22, 2020

Gardening through a lifetime

"I come from Africa. I like gardening so much because my parents were farmers in my country where I was born and they had a big farm. They taught me…
Faces of DUG
September 30, 2021

Discovering Your ‘Why’ For Gardening

“I got into gardening in 2000 when I was suffering from severe clinical depression. In my research, I found information around diet and nutrition but also found a piece around…
Faces of DUG
November 30, 2020

Teaching Resilience through Healthy Cooking

“My students have so much going on in their lives right now. With everything they hear on the news, it’s a lot for them to process. What I like about…
Faces of DUG
August 25, 2021

Finding Mentorship (and more) in Community

"Last year, my boyfriend and I lived in the Cole neighborhood and had never gardened before. We lived in an apartment with no outdoor space and were home all the…

Commons Park Community Garden is Open!

By News

Commons Park Community Garden is ready for Spring Growing Season!

It’s been more than 23 years since Denver Commons Park opened and has become a beloved open space Denverites flock to. A new gathering place has just opened within Commons — the first major addition to the park in its 23-year history.
The Commons Park Community Garden is the result of a collaboration between DUG, Denver Parks and Recreation, the Riverfront Park Homeowners’ Association, and Civitas.
The result is 28 garden plots (with the capacity for eight more), as well as three accessible planters that will encourage Central Platte Valley residents to grow their own fruits and vegetables within a community of shared values and common efforts.
DUG hosted an opening celebration on Saturday, April 30th, where volunteers filled planters with soil and prepared the plots and overall garden for the coming planting season, and there’s already a 150-person waiting list of prospective gardeners.

Learn more about the 190+ community gardens in the DUG network here. 

DUG Says Goodbye to Nessa!

By News

After 8 years of building gardens as a workday warrior, Nessa Mogharreban, Director of Physical Infrastructure, is moving on from DUG.

We all feel so grateful to have learned so much about DUG, the community gardens, and physical infrastructure skills from Nessa. She has been an integral member of DUG’s staff and it’s hard to imagine DUG without her knowledge, humor, and passion for gardening. We will miss her and wish her the best of luck in her new adventures!

If you know Nessa, you know how much she loves to make parody music videos…enjoy this final one, where the entire DUG team joins in to help ‘send her on her way.’

“It’s been a fun ride these past 8 years, getting to know some of the coolest gardeners out there and working for the amazing organization that is DUG. I’ve learned so much from each and every one of you and I am grateful for all of your passion and knowledge. Together we’ve built the largest independent community garden network in the nation! We are a part of something greater and I know we will continue to be a catalyst for change nationwide. Let’s continue to take care of each other and the earth and I’ll look forward to our paths crossing again.”

– Nessa Mogharreban

Water, Playfulness, and Overcoming Oppression

By Embodied Equity

Sometimes I see my face staring back at me. Quizzically scrutinizing each detail and dimple of my brown skin.

We could call her my reflection. But she is not really mine. She is water, reflecting.

Water reflects me back to me, and you back to you. Water reflects the sky, the clouds, and each bird that circles high and higher, towards some epic elevation.

Water does not discriminate. Water reflects the ones I love and the ones I fear. Water reflects what I call good and what I call bad. Water reflects what I call right and what I call wrong.

Water reflects each object it meets in exquisite detail; with a gentle caress of attentiveness. I don’t always accept what is before me that easily.

I tried to fight a river once.

My innertube and I were in a hurry to float. My feet led the way, sprawled out ahead, avoiding the water made of newly melted snow. My feet frequently lost the lead as the flow of water turned me around whenever it pleased. I was not pleased.

I tried to stay in control. I tried to “help” the inner tube along. I tried to make sure I floated to the “correct” side of each damp, slime-covered boulder.

It was hard and vigilant work. I reflected back on the lazy joy of inner-tubing as a child. “Hadn’t it been more fun than this”? I wondered.

Not long into my trip, I became wedged between a large boulder and the shallow pebbly shore.

I had fought against the current, determined to go to the “correct,” “safer,” “better,” side of the boulder. It wasn’t correct, safer, or better and now I was stuck.

My friend floated easily by, going with the current. Going with the flow is easier and more effective I noticed. The broader life lesson and I made eye contact as if floated by. 

Water says yes to what is. Water reflects what it sees. Water accepts what is there.

Because water accepts that the boulders are there, it simply flows around them. Water takes the path of least resistance. 

I noticed a difference in our strategies, the water and me. In my life, I was denying a lot. I was taking the path of much resistance.

I was trying to force my way through life’s boulders because I believed they should not be there. Water was accepting and adapting to the reality of boulders to accomplish its goal. But beyond that, the water was playing. It was splashing along, crashing up against a rock and giggling down. Rolling up on a human’s unsuspecting leg and skipping around.

There was lightness, ease, and playfulness to the water’s approach. In my life, there was heaviness, fighting, and very few giggles.

To me, it often seems like I have to fight injustice. It really does seem like fighting will accomplish my goal. I fight racism, cancer, and poverty. I fight everything and everyone I don’t like.

I “fight the good fight.” It is hard and vigilant work. I feel the sting of losing the fight each and every. Every day I fail to overcome racism, cancer, and poverty. These boulders are still with me despite all of my “good fight.”

“So what, do I give up and just let them win?”

The water ripples over my toes and reminds me that it carved a goddam canyon. Water is not weak because it is accepting. Acceptance and persistence enable water to overcome an immovable obstacle. Erosion is a powerful, but patient force.

With a playful smirk and a twinkle in its eye water chides, “I know I can win because I can outlast you. I will wear you down and there is nothing you can do about it.”

Water also draws power from its ability to stick with itself. To have its own back. Modern science calls this camaraderie “surface tension,” or a fourth phase of water called “structured” water.

Water simply knows that it is more powerful when it is more united.

A single drop of water falling in a hot spring cave merely moistens the stone below. But when each drop is followed by another and another, over months and years the strength of water surpasses that of earth. United water drills a hole into solid stone.

It is wise to heed the wisdom of water; unity with the drops around me, patient but consistent action towards a common goal, embracing both playfulness and power.

Looking back on my life I have to admit to myself that working harder but alone, and fighting what is does not get me where I want to go.

I have burned out 3 times in my life and found myself stranded on the shallow pebbly shore, stuck and exhausted. I was forced to rest until the tide of wellbeing rose to carry me forward once again.

It is said you cannot get a baby in one month by getting 9 people pregnant. Some processes take the time they take.

So I admit that denying reality, working vigilantly, and working alone won’t end oppression faster. If I look to my more successful friend water as a guide, what do I see?

I see that resting today equips me to be more skillfully united tomorrow.

I see that projects that utilize my playfulness and tender humanity touch people more deeply than fearful facts and staggering statistics.

I see that writing about what I notice in myself feels more honest than telling people what to do. After all, if we are united then any reflections of myself will reflect the humanity we share. 

So today I do less. I laugh at the neighborhood kitten stalking flies in the grass. I set aside the fear that I still have x,y, and z on my to-do list. I notice that my neighborhood has come alive with citrus and my speckled pothos needs more water.

I will talk to clients about racism tomorrow when my mind is refreshed from my rest and my heart is light from my time in the sun.

I will talk about racism when I am more like a full and flowing river, nourished by melting snow, giggling downstream.

In this moment, I will flow where I am pulled to be; united with the life in my backyard enjoying the warm sting of the sun.

Where are you pulled by life to be right now?

Reflection Questions:

  • How can my serious commitments benefit from more playfulness?
  • How does my rigidity about what I know is “correct” inhibit the flow of life towards the path of least resistance?
  • How can I be powerful and playful today?
Until next time… deepen and discover!
‘Embodied Equity,’ a limited-series guest blog authored by Leanne Alaman, focuses on deepening our understanding of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) by deepening our listening to the teachings of Mother Nature, our wise and humble teacher.

Hi, I’m Leanne! I provide paradigm-shifting equity support to organizational leaders and well-meaning individuals to move past well-meaning into well-doing. There are many ways to build your DEI capacity by working with me.  Learn more here.