UPDATED: November 2021
Whew, yall! What a beautiful, humbling, and blessed year.
Land Based Jawns turned 1 on October 14, 2021. Its unbelievable to see the growth and all the work we've done in and with community since then. Here are some of the events and programs we’ve organized:
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall of 2021, Land Based Jawns engaged hundreds of people in Philadelphia through our Earthseed Skillshare, garden work days, plant distribution, Earthseed Culinary Experience, and Juneteenth Celebration. LBJ hosted beautiful conversations about the histories and relationships that Black people have to land and food. Participants explored their cultural narratives and identities surrounding connection to Earth, land, and spirituality. The LBJ team worked with community members, skillshare participants, and volunteers to do some incredible work in Philadelphia this year. That work is outlined below.
LBJ Healing Garden at 57th and Addison St.
In April 2021, as a way to honor the one year anniversary of Ashley’s father’s death, LBJ organized a vacant lot clean up at 5715 Addison Street in the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia. The LBJ community and Addison Street neighbors came together to clean, cover, and mulch a lot that sat vacant for over thirty years. All trash, broken appliances, and animal carcasses were removed from the lot. The group pulled up some of the heartier overgrown weeds. We then laid down a thick layer of landscape fabric and pinned it down with anchoring pins. The fabric was then covered with about 15 cubic yards of natural shredded mulch before the garden beds were installed. Over the course of two months, ten garden beds were installed and filled with plants and seeds. Before and after photos available at the end of this document. This garden now serves as a home base for Land Based Jawns and a place where neighbors on the block can get fresh, chemical-free produce.
Earthseed Skillshare + Philly Jawn Camping
The Earthseed Skillshare was a four-month long education program focused on self defense, gardening, carpentry, and land based living. These workshops were organized in a way that centered self and community healing for Black women, trans, and non-binary people. The skillshare concluded with an overnight camping experience at Bartram’s Garden.
Earthseed Culinary Experience
The Earthseed Culinary Experience was the culminating event of the Earthseed Skillshare. The Experience featured a fabulous African diaspora dinner catered by Chef Dobson. The evening featured live music by Arthur Thomas and the Funkitorium, as well as raffle and silent auction prizes. This event was limited to sixty people due to COVID-19 protocols and sold out within 2 weeks.
Plant and Herb Distribution
Land Based Jawns’ signature crop is okra. In addition to this African-native plant, LBJ started dozens of collard green, white garden egg, cucumber, pepper, tomato, and herb plants. These plants were used in the LBJ garden at 5715 Addison street, distributed to skillshare participants and distributed to dozens of Philadelphia-area farmers and growers. Many people sought LBJ plants intentionally because of the natural agriculture and spiritual practices that influence how we grow food.
Garden Education Work Days
Land Based Jawns hosted five monthly volunteer days at the LBJ garden and engaged dozens of people in garden education lessons. In partnership with Lessons of Da Land, LBJ facilitated and taught several hands-on workshops on African Agricultural and land stewardship practices.
LBJ is growing and expanding. Our plan is to continue the work of healing and building and learning with and through Mama Earth. In 2022, you can expect to see another Earthseed Skillshare, another culinary experience, and some excited garden projects. We also hope to expand in other ways contingent upon funding. Will share those at a later time.
As I (ashley) reflect on the past year, I remember that the very first workshop that LBJ ever hosted was called "Land is at the Center." Land is at the center of all life, of all revolution, of love, of healing, and of justice. So one way that LBJ is moving towards that truth is through searching for land. The goal has always been to steward dozens of acres of land that can serve as a host to many of our workshops and agricultural work. Our ask of community is to support Land Based Jawns in purchasing land. While it would be ideal to find 20+ acres in Philly, the reality of a densely packed city is that that amount of land is hard to come by. Therefore the search for land has widened to include the surrounding counties. We come to you, our community, and ask for your help and support in making this happen.
We have already identified several properties that meet our criteria: farm infrastructure, partially wooded, building/housing on site, within a two hour drive of Philadelphia. These properties have ranged from $700k to $2 million. LBJ is proactively searching for and applying for grants that can support this work. We are also brainstorming different revenue streams to help support our goal. If you have ideas or suggestions for us to consider, please let us know! Our prayer is to have this land, retreat space, and agricultural center within the next three years if not sooner. Please consider helping to make this a reality.
ABOUT LAND BASED JAWNS
LBJ is an organization rooted in Spirit and ancestral spiritual practices. Land, water, and agriculture connect people to each other, to the Creator, and to ancestors through ritual, care, prayer, and spirit. LBJ offers education and training workshops to BIPOC communities that span land based living, agriculture, safety, and carpentry with a focus on self and community healing.
Land Based Jawns helps communities to spell out the connections between land based living and health to help develop non-extractive communities that live in deep relationships with the Earth. Much of this work is guided by many of the skills and lessons highlighted in the Parable of the Sower series by Octavia Butler.
In addition to land based living workshops, LBJ hosts garden education days, culinary experiences, and plant distributions in an effort to help Philadelphia communities deepen their knowledge of and connections to the land and water surrounding us.
Land Based Jawns’ most key priority is responsible stewardship of Earth rooted in love and care for all ecosystems and their inhabitants. This priority ties closely with LBJ’s second focus area which is to facilitate deepening spiritual connections to Earth. LBJ also prioritizes practical land based living skill building for BIPOC communities. Embedded in this priority is the pursuit of food and land justice.
Land Based Jawns is an organization rooted first and foremost in spirit and the spiritual practices of our ancestors. We feel called to provide education and training to Black women on agriculture, survival + self-defense, carpentry, and self + community healing. Our work and training is guided by many of the skills and lessons highlighted in the Parable of the Sower series by our beloved ancestor Octavia Butler.
In addition to learning to survive in this ever-changing world, we believe it is necessary and critical for our communities to heal from the trauma of white supremacy and capitalism, and begin to rebuild our relationships with our human and non-human kin as well as the land. We want our communities to thrive.
Black women are an integral part of our community well-being and our collective liberation.
i also want to honestly share with you where the idea and inspiration for this project came from.
in december, my church did a congregation-wide read of Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower. that book did something to me. it stirred something. as a friend stated, it was like she planted seeds by writing that book. well the seed that was planted in me went into immediate germination and quickly bloomed. i couldn’t have a conversation with someone without talking about how we need to "stay ready so we ain't gotta get ready." it became my motto.
in april of this year, my dad and last living parent unexpectedly transitioned out of this realm and into the next one. while continuing to process of the trauma of losing him, i have spent much of this season working on myself via therapy and re-connecting with the Creator and Mother Earth. it has been a journey and i am still very much feeling the effects of grief and loss. pushing to find strength and motivation to keep going.
much of that motivation has been a deep love of and care for my community. a whisper ever persistent in the voices of my momma and daddy encouraging me to keep living, to keep loving, and to keep fighting the system that stole both their lives. black folks have had to find ways to survive and thrive in this country despite the obstacles thrown at us since we were forcibly brought here. that is nothing new to us. our ancestors fought and survived, and experienced much joy along with the pain. i think our present generation has lived with a bit more comfortability than our ancestors did, though. that's not to deny our present day struggles at all. but this summer, shit really hit the fan for the world to see.. and i think many more of us were forced to at least acknowledge the systemic oppression that black people repeatedly face. many people were newly radicalized to fight for our liberation. many of us developed, for the first time, a shared vision of love and unity and black survival and black thriving. it has been so beautiful to witness the mass awakening we seem to be experiencing.
i've also been frightened by seemingly never-ending structural violence and mobilized as a result. through conversations with family and friends, through seeing black folks in this country erupt into righteous frustration and anger, through experiencing my own devastating loss, through the shock of a pandemic, and probably most significantly through the hateful and deliberate actions of white supremacists in texas and kenosha, i was moved to put into motion these ideas that had been twirling around in my brain for the past seven or so years.
starting with myself.
i had/have been putting in a lot of work to heal my heart after losing both of my parents before the age of 30. i needed to work through this gaping hole i feel. i needed to understand the issues i have around abandonment and a need to be “loved” and how these spill over into my personal relationships. i had to understand where my insecurities were stemming from. i had to deconstruct all of these stories i was telling myself in my head and separate them from reality. i did and am doing the work of healing myself.
i also continue to recognize the importance of extending healing to my community. sharing the tools, resources, and knowledge i have gained so that we can grow collectively. these tools and knowledge include: black folks history with the land, techniques for land-based living, self-defense, the spiritual and healing power of growing and eating our ancestral food, and the power of spirit and spiritual practice to heal our relationships with each other and the land.
this summer, i got to farm full-time. the land has held me. and is healing me. and is healing and nurturing southwest philly. we have weekly thursday farm markets where we get to work with two youth from bartram’s village and interface with our community. this experience has been so encouraging. hearing reports of exactly how people cooked a thing we grew. or to see black folks attend a cooking demo on bitter melon. folks’ surprise at how this funny shaped fruit can be cooked up in a dish so flavorful has been the kind of thing that brings me joy. and it's also what is bringing literal physical and spiritual healing to our people. the power of growing your own food, connecting to your food, and eating your ancestral and cultural foods is incredible. through these processes, we build relationships with the plants, the soil, the dragonflies, with God, and with our loved ones who have passed on.
i also began learning more about and practicing self-defense in multiple forms.
these steps and actions taken in my personal life led me to start seriously brainstorming and planning land based jawns. i believe all black women should have a basic set of skills related to agriculture, survival, self-defense, and wellness. as my homegirl says "everybody should know how to do everything." and that's not to say that everyone has to be an expert in everything but we do need some basic understanding of these things if we mean to not only survive but thrive in this world. i think about how growing up in philly i knew very few, if any black women and girls who were “land-based,” meaning they connected with nature in a spiritual way. i still remember when my mom sent me to the woods for camping with my mt airy girl scout troupe. yo. spiders crawling above my head, weird sounds outside our tent-cabin. living outside and off of the land was so foreign and uncomfortable to me because i had lived my entire life up to that point in a densely populated city.
Land based jawns is for the philly women who never got the chance to connect with and recognize themselves as a part of nature. the ones who weren’t exposed to what it means to live in right relationship with the land. for the ones who are curious and interested in how stepping away from the concrete sidewalks and the hustle of city life might foster healing and spiritual growth.
LBJ was created to support the various types of healing that we want to see in our Philly communities. Healing from the wounds of white supremacy, healing in our relationships with each other, healing in and through spirituality, and healing in our relationships with the land and Mother Earth. Land Based Jawns also very explicitly seeks to support Black women in developing the tools and skills to be self-sufficient and build self-sufficient communities, in addition to facilitating the healing work we want to happen in our city.
The primary project that funding will be used for is the Earthseed Skill Share. Earthseed is a community in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. This community focuses on survival, spirituality, mutual aid, and rebuilding and reshaping their relationships. They practice and emphasize the importance of agriculture, carpentry, education, and community support. The Earthseed Workshop Series is a four month training where we highlight and hone in on these themes and skills.
The goal of Land-based Jawns is to provide Black women with skills to live off and live in right relationship with the land. We hope to provide women with tools to address challenging emotions and facilitate collective healing from trauma and white supremacy in their communities. Over the past seven months, we’ve seen the country erupt into mass protest and resistance against police brutality and systemic violence. This project is necessary because it combines so many elements and tangible skills that can help Black women survive the threat of violence and continued systemic oppression in this city and country.
Will you support our efforts to build and support a land-based community of Black women in and around Philadelphia?
Please visit our website for more info on our org and mission: www.landbasedjawns.com
Visit our instagram for videos and tutorials on some basic survival essential considerations as well as an introduction to using a compass and shelter making: www.instagram.com/landbasedjawns
If you are interested in investing in our work more consistently, please email us at [email redacted]