Urban Tending: Plants Are Magic

illustration: Alyssa Dennis

illustration: Alyssa Dennis


I had the pleasure of writing and illustrating an article called Urban Tending for Rebecca Desnos’ Plants Are Magic magazine Vol 4 which carries the theme of ‘home’. This article talks about the wondrous world of plant language and the importance of place-based identity as defining aspects of rooting to home. You can read a portion of the article below or the full 3 page article and the rest of this amazing compilation here.



What are the most familiar embodiments of home? Is it a place or a feeling? For most of us, home is where we rest, find comfort and safety, feel welcome and receive nourishment. Home is a sanctuary and space to cultivate togetherness and community. Outside of a modern Western mindset, home has also always been a place where local plants were made into food and medicine. An essential aspect of finding roots is understanding and honoring the traditional practices of those who came before us.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge of local plant medicine has been systematically stripped away first by the near decimation of indigenous peoples, coupled with both the legalities made against this medicine and those who worked with it to support and heal their own communities. In the last century, the commodification of our basic necessities in the name of convenience has seduced us away from a common understanding in the virtues and efficacy of local plant medicine. Yet, having autonomy and agency around your own health and wellness is to be home.

In many cultures around the world, it is still commonplace for communities of about 100 people or so to have a local shaman, herbalist, plant whisperer or curandero who operates as healer by way of fully integrating and studying every plant within a 50 to 100-mile radius. This kind of engagement with our surroundings has defined the very foundation we stand on and has helped to characterize the origins of culture itself. I was astounded to realize that within just a one block radius of my apartment in Brooklyn, New York, there are nearly 20 wild species that have been used as food and medicine. Yet in urban, suburban and rural areas we denigrate, devalue, destroy, down play and dig out this bounty in favor of expensive exotic cultivars, monocrops and pesticide-dependent green lawns.

Herbalists often talk about how the remedy for what currently ails you is a plant or host of plants that grow right outside your door. How is this possible? The genius of plants is…….(read the rest here).