Notes from the Field

Sisters Unchained

By Ayana Aubourg

In July, The New Garden Society had the honor of collaborating with Sisters Unchained, a Boston based collective which supports young women of color with formerly or currently incarcerated parents, through healing and community empowerment initiatives.  This year, as part of their first 6-week summer learning program, TNGS led an Introduction to Gardening workshop, hosted at the Old Oak Dojo.  The session was co-facilitated by Renee Portanova, Hadas Yanay and Sisters Unchained mentors: Ayana and Meron.  Read Ayana's take away from the workshop and about the powerful work of Sisters Unchained.

We always begin our day with morning circle. This is a time to eat breakfast, check in, read an affirmation, and celebrate a women of the day. As a group we made a ritual statement that is recited before we honor and learn about a revolutionary women of color. A typical day in our space usually consists of workshops, collective visioning and art.

Everyday we are excited to be part of Sisters Unchained because we bring our true selves to the space and everyone is so real with one another. 

The past couple of weeks, our sisters have chose to focus on how issues of homelessness and incarceration are intertwined. We have made and passed out free lunches and water for the homeless population at Downtown Crossing with the intent of building stronger communities and listening to peoples stories. We are currently working on a mini poetry book that encompasses the stories we have heard while passing out free food. 

This summer, we have been learning about autonomous communities. STRONG COMMUNITIES. What does this look like? Is this possible? What are the barriers? How can we start working towards our vision? 

Our experience with the New Garden Society aligned perfectly with the questions we've been exploring. Hadas and Reneé led us through a full day of gardening and showed us what it truly means to grow our own food. Our sisters had a lot of burning questions, some hesitation, but all in all, were ready to be hands on and active in the Dojo garden. After the workshop, one of the young women explained how inspired she was to help her mother garden. Another sister expressed her interest for volunteering with the New Garden Society. We appreciate the facilitators for bringing a ton of knowledge, patience, and enthusiasm to our space!! One thing that striked us all is how tiny a cabbage seed is... We were so shocked! PURE MAGIC. The lessons we learn from Mama Earth never cease to amaze us. 

The power of planting seeds, whether in a garden, or in our communities and selves, shows us that transformation IS possible. 

We thank the New Garden Society for their vision and inspiring work. 

A wall is just a wall...

Sisters Unchained!