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  • Writer's pictureMeghann Ormond

Unsettled: On Learning to Honor Powerful Strangers in an “Immigrant World”'

"Wherever you are is called Here,

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known."

(From "Lost", by David Wagoner)

So begins a piece I wrote called 'Unsettled: On Learning to Honor Powerful Strangers in an “Immigrant World”' recently published in the UNC-based academic journal CrossCurrents as part of a special issue on gardening as socio-spiritual practice edited by Johan Roeland.

The essay brings my continued work on migration, heritage and belonging together with my passion for gardening and growing fascination with the life of soil, both past and present. I loved writing this very personal piece because it allowed me to experiment with creative writing and learn much more about the multi-layered heritages of the land I grew up on and the land upon which I live now. The thinking behind it began during one of my Wageningen University Cultural Geography group's Covid-era "Landscape Conversations", where we each shared about the landscapes of our youth.

For people conscious and critical of their settler-colonial immigration heritage, the desire to forge and claim a deep connection with a plot of land can generate great ambivalence. Engaging with Robin Wall Kimmerer's reflections on indigeneity and migration in Braiding Sweetgrass, this essay explores the ways in which embodied and material practices of gardening and caring for the soil enable visceral recognition of both the urgency for and the challenges associated with decolonizing relationships with more-than-human beings that have been subjugated in diverse ways through colonial capitalism over time and space.

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