• Jennifer Jewell

GROWING (AND BUILDING) EMPOWERMENT: FRAILTY MYTHS, ERINN CARTER & GEORGIA FAYE HIRSTY


"Frailty Myths offers workshops for women, trans, and gender non-conforming folks that provide a transformative experience through our experiential, intersectional learning model that pairs hands-on skills learning with facilitated conversations that allow our participants to practice being in the world we are trying to create by healing from and replacing toxic narratives with constructive ones. We’re ReImagining Femininity and Building Power because we know a more just world is possible."

"We also offer team building and leadership workshops to help your team members build a more just, healthier, and empowering workplace."

"What We DO: We work to expose the social construction of female inferiority for exactly what it is: a MythFrailty Myths' ground-breaking curriculum is revolutionizing the approach to feminism, team-building, and leadership.Build your inner power. Grow your confidence. Change the world."

This week on Cultivating Place we are emboldened to consider our strength and power in the garden and in life generally by Erinn Carter and Georgia Faye Hirsty, two of the co-founders of the organization known as Frailty Myths, based in Oakland, CA. Their mission is to reimagine femininity and build power into bringing our whole selves into our work of Cultivating Place. They join us today to explore how the concept of Frailty Myths can be implicit bias in the Gardening world and how we are all better off when we can see this bias for what it is, and compost it openly into more nurturing concepts around self and other.

In our conversation, Erinn and Georgia and I explore the concept of what frailty myths are and how they do not serve anyone well in the garden world or beyond. The two describe how their workshops - empowering people to do things they did not think they could, like build a stool using power tools – work to address sometimes harmful defensives and assumptions we can all carry with us into our daily lives.

The two women describe the incredible response to the group's first workshop offering in Oakland years ago now, when hundreds of people RSVPd for tens of places. Georgia also describes what it means and looks like to create a physical space and community ethos that DOES NOT perpetuate harmful myths - including toxic masculinity or frail femininity or marginalized excluded 'others' - for ourselves or for any beings.

Grow your Power - Support All Humans in their Power.

Follow Frailty Myths on-line at: https://frailtymyths.org/ and on Instagram at: @FrailtyMyths

Join us again next week when we kick off a multi week series on healing and the garden – beginning with a conversation with Annie Kirk of Redbird restorative gardens and design.

UPCOMING CULTIVATING PLACE LIVE EVENTS:

- TONIGHT JANUARY 23: Sacramento, California at the Sacramento Perennial Plant Society on Jan 23rd and,

- THIS SUNDAY, JANUARY 26: Portland, Oregon for the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon’s Winter Lecture

Mark your calendars - I hope to meet you wherever you cultivate your place in the coming year

Thinking out Loud this week...

The very idea of a frailty myth seems so disturbing to me, and yet – as a granddaughter, a daughter, a niece, a sister, a mother and a mentor to many – I also know they exist in me - in most all of us.

This comes up all the time with gardeners – just a gardener, it’s not really a garden like you’re used to. There are places for humility, modesty, apology, right? We can agree to that, I think, but not at the expense of our own respectful, not arrogant, but clear and respectful, realistic embracing pride and ownership of things we love, things we do well, and even things we love but don’t do really well.

In the garden, I hold no space for perfectionism – it’s a false choice and it’s lifeless.

This conversation with Georgia and Erinn lights me up – in part because of how much discomfort it brings up for me and therefore asks me to think about. Maybe you feel some of the same? Maybe some of these points resonate with you – maybe they trigger some of your defenses about what is strong, what is feminine, what is rightfully talked about when we talk about gardening? I think this kind of question is good for all of us – it is where we grow, it is where we grow the importance and fullness of what gardening is and what we DO MEAN in all the ways we talk about gardening.

For each point of discomfort – I come back to Georgia’s statement around getting us through what we don’t want to perpetuate in this world by returning over and over to “qualities of nurturing and curiosity and care – of collectively lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down.” In this work, I find myself asking myself – and therefore asking you too - what are the tools we use? Physical and mental. What are the tools we don’t or think we can’t use - physical and mental. And why? Why? What are the blind spots built into each of our answers to those questions.

I for one will keep these questions right up front for a while – I know they can serve us all.

I wish I could have aired every word of my over an hour speaking with Erinn and Georgia. As longtime friends they embodied so much of what kind nurturing friendship can and should look like. They met at Whittier College as transfer students, Erinn studying American Political Science (which would turn into graduate work at UCLA in Race and American Politics) and Georgia studying International Political Science and Classical Music. Through the conversation, they would in turn tell the other how well they were doing with my questions and their articulate passionate answers. The told each other they loved each other. They got teary….They made sure the other had enough time to speak.

They embodied what it looks like and sounds like and feels like to practice healthy relationship and community. In the garden and in life.

To Practice being in community.

When we practice this – which I believe is at the healthiest center and heart of our garden time and garden community time – as Georgia so eloquently describes - it feels like the moment when someone in one of their workshops actually gets the feel of a tool they were previously afraid of, she indicates you know it's happened because “it feels like therapy, it feels like church, it feels like a room full of friends…”

It feels safe – it feels like love.

Now that’s worth practicing, don’t you think?

And our gardens and plants of the world show us how to practice living in community every day.

WAYS TO SUPPORT CULTIVATING PLACE

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