Deconstructing The Boundaries:
A Future of Land and Food Resilience
In partnership with Indigo Arts Alliance
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens has partnered with Indigo Arts Alliance to present a multi-year project that centers Black/Brown/Indigenous relationships with the land. The programmatic series launched with an all day public symposia: Deconstructing the Boundaries: A Future of Land & Food Resilience, held on July 22.
During this symposia, Indigo Arts Alliance shared perspectives from a variety of thought leaders about how Black and Brown communities have always held spiritual, traditional, and cultural relationships to the land. Conversations, demonstrations, and interactive workshops prioritized experiences from multidisciplinary artists and cultural workers. This initiative aimed to create intergenerational pathways from which insight and wisdom can flow in all directions.
Through this symposium, we explored these three key questions:
How do we evolve our personal, communal, and institutional relationships with land ownership and stewardship?
How do we address and heal the deep distrust that has taken root in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities?
How do we acknowledge and appreciate the ways in which African, Brown, and Indigenous cultural and social systems, as well as spirituality exist outside of settler colonial paradigms?
Symposium Presenters and Participants
Carolyn Finney, Moderator
Carolyn Finney, (she/hers) PhD is a storyteller, author and a cultural geographer who is deeply interested in issues related to identity, difference, creativity, and resilience.The aim of her work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action. Carolyn is grounded in both artistic and intellectual ways of knowing – she pursed an acting career for eleven years, but five years of backpacking trips through Africa and Asia, and living in Nepal changed the course of her life. Motivated by these experiences, Carolyn returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete a B.A., M.A. (both of these degrees focused on gender and environmental issues in Kenya and Nepal, respectively) and Ph.D. (which focused on African Americans and environmental issues in the U.S.) She has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Canon National Parks Science Scholar and received a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Studies.
Alivia Moore, Panelist
Alivia Moore (she/they) is a two-spirit citizen of the Penobscot Nation, parent, auntie, and mover and shaker in community. As co-founder of Eastern Woodlands Rematriation (EWR) they are committed to restoring balanced relationship with the earth. They support all aspects of work being done within EWR in Wabanakik– including the coordination of Wabanaki Rematriation School, Wabanaki Community Apothecary, and Indigenous birthwork reclamation.
Living in and reconnecting to her traditional territory in so-called Northport, ME, Alivia is rebuilding food forests, wild harvesting foods and medicines for community access, and striving to be a conduit for traditional knowledge mobilization. She dreams of living collectively with the land and kin, and of preparing our children to live more gently.
They also organize with Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance, and serves on the board of Wabanaki REACH. Alivia is dedicated to child welfare system abolition and fosters native children.
Lokotah Sanborn, Panelist
Lokotah Sanborn (he/they) is a Penobscot artist and organizer dedicated to Indigenous liberation and empowerment. He is a member of Sunlight Media Collective, an organization working to document and produce stories affecting Wabanaki people and the intersections of environmental issues and tribal rights. Lokotah has a background in political organizing and community building.
Nicole Paul, Panelist
Nicole Paul (she/her) is a citizen of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik and currently resides in Penobscot Nation territory known as alən⍺payi-mənəhanok (“The People’s Island”) or what is now called Indian Island, Maine. Nicole brings a lifelong commitment to revitalizing and reawakening Wabanaki culture and languages. She currently works as one of two Co-Directors for the organization Nibezun working to bring forward customs and traditions of the Wabanaki confederacy. She is most passionate about language revitalization and dreams of witnessing children in the Wabanaki communities conversing in their native tongues. As a mother to two adventurous toddlers she strives to show them the importance of living in balance with mother earth and all of her relations. She is also a partner, a sister, a lifelong language learner, a community member, and a lover of good food.
Scott Alves Barton, Panelist
Scott Alves Barton (he/him) is a Cultural Anthropologist of African Diaspora Foodways at Notre Dame, and previously was an executive chef. Scott’s research focuses on Diaspora women’s knowledge, intergenerational teaching/learning, cultural heritage, and political resistance in Northeastern Brazil. His forthcoming manuscript, Reckoning with Violence and Black Death follows his exhibition on Anti-Black violence, funerary foods and ancestrality, Buried in the Heart.
Chef Louis, Chef
Chef Louis grew up in the restaurant and catering business, working from a young age alongside his chef grandparents. Black Betty’s Bistro opens its kitchen in their honor…named for the old cast-iron stove that sat in the middle of a large room at their ranch home in Texas, a place which held generations of a large family, serving love, laughter, nourishment and soul with each unforgettable meal. Here’s to FLAVOR, Y’ALL.
Mihku Anderson, Panelist & Workshop Leader
Mihku Anderson (she/hers) is a Wolastoqeyik poet and visual artist born and raised on the Penobscot river in Maine. Much of her work explores themes of nature and identity. She is a 2010 graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program at USM and has published widely in anthologies, as well as her seminal chapbook on contemporary Waponahki identity, 20th Century PowWow Playland. (Amazon) Her historical poem Song for Machigonne, is used at various colleges in Maine as a teaching tool and her work has been published internationally and translated to Spanish and French. Recent work includes Whitman on Walls Msi-te ktahkomiq kintaqot (The Whole Earth Resounds), and the anthologies Wait: Poems from the Pandemic and Enough! Poems of Resistance and Protest *Maine Literary award for best anthology (Littoral Books). Forthcoming work includes The Word for World is Water (experimental film/poetry) Belfast Poetry Festival and two poems in Root & Seed: Black, Brown and Indigenous Poets Write the Northeast. (Nature-Culture).
Sarah K. Khan, Panelist & Workshop Leader
Sarah K. Khan (she/her) creates multimedia content about food, culture, women, and migrants. Her most recent bodies of prints, ceramics and films are inspired by a 15th-16th C cookbook from Central South Asia, called the book of delights. With multiple group and solo shows, Khan’s work has shown nationally and internationally, and held in college, museum and private collections. A recipient of fellowships and residencies (most recently a Kohler Arts/Industry), Khan continues to create with upcoming residencies at the Women’s Studio Workshop and Anderson Ranch in 2023 and 2024, respectively.
Jordan Carey, Workshop Leader
Jordan Carey, ‘19, is a Bermudian designer and artist whose work focuses on developing the relationship between marginalization and mundanity as a method of combating Eurocentrism and inviting folks to build a more intentional relationship to craft and commerce. In January 2020, he launched Loquat, an independent fashion and accessories business focused on empowering marginalized people. The Loquat flagship store and manufacturing space opened May of 2022, in Portland’s Old Port. Carey’s practice has most recently extended back to his country of origin through traditional kite making methods that he has employed to create narrative paintings on kite frames with collage and charcoal.
Carey graduated with a BFA in Textile & Fashion Design from the Maine College of Art & Design in 2019. He went on to become the assistant designer for Jill Mcgowan before founding Loquat. He has been serving on the Board of Trustees at MECA&D since September 2022. In October 2019, Carey was an artist in residence at Indigo Arts Alliance along with Meeta Mastani, Sarah Khan, and Asata Radcliff.
Jordan Parks, Workshop Leader
Jordan Parks’ work fosters conversations about climate and environmental impacts, engaging people who may not have otherwise connected with southern Maine islands and waters. Her passion for engaging communities with Maine’s coastal landscape stemmed from her experiences in environmental and outdoor education. After four years of guiding sea kayak expeditions in Casco Bay, Jordan wanted to share these experiences with people who did not often find themselves spending time on the water. Jordan’s art educates and challenges individuals to consider new perspectives in environments not familiar to them. Her leadership is an example of how the climate movement can expand by connecting people to outdoor spaces through the arts.
Nickie Sekera, Workshop Leader
Nickie Sekera is the co-founder of Community Water Justice, a decentralized network of people working for strong water protections at the community level across Wabanakiyik (Maine). She is a founding board member of the Saco Headwaters Alliance, a Fryeburg Water District Trustee, and in 2022 was appointed by the Speaker of the House to the Commission To Study The Role of Water As A Resource In Maine. She is also a journalist with Sunlight Media Collective, a collective of Indigenous and non-indigenous journalists, media makers and activists, centering the stories and experiences of Wabanaki people. In the years leading up to these roles, Nickie worked as an administrator of a wilderness medicine school for 18 years after working alongside Indigenous-led remote medical clinics and education projects within the conflict zones of Eastern Burma (Myanmar). Her work in that region led to serving on the Board of Directors of the US Campaign for Burma in Washington DC doing human rights and environmental justice advocacy. Most invaluably, Nickie is a mother of a son that joins her in this work.
In Partnership With
Founded in 2018, Indigo Arts Alliance (IAA) is a Portland, ME-based, Black-led organization dedicated to professional development and amplification of Black and Brown thought-leadership, vision, and creative practice. As an organization of social practice artists, scholars, and activists, it seeks to strengthen multiracial democracy by cultivating and celebrating art as a key resource for healthy communities, connecting global and local Black and Brown artists, providing an affirming environment for the creation of artwork across disciplines, and promoting engagement through participatory events that bring artists’ and activists’ work into public conversation on social justice, culture, and community. IAA is the only Black-led, established arts incubator in northern New England. That being the case, they fill a critically important gap in representation lacking in other regional arts and cultural institutions.