For The Wild Podcast is an anthology of the Anthropocene; focused on land-based protection, co-liberation and intersectional storytelling rooted in a paradigm shift away from human supremacy, endless growth and consumerism.
TUSHA YAKOVLEVA on the Invitation of Invasive Plants / 307
This week guest Tusha Yakovleva calls on us to remember our millennium-old relationship with weedy beings and the gifts of wild and invasive plants. It’s estimated that worldwide spending on invasive species exceeds one trillion dollars annually. But if we were to cease our violent relationship with weeds and invasive species, what might we find? Cultural cooperation between plants and people? A whole slew of plant-relatives that are thriving in increasingly challenging landscapes? We are challenged to think about our capacity, or willingness, to know invasive plants - Tusha queries listeners to ask “Do we know their reasons for making home in unfamiliar soils? Or what gifts and responsibilities they carry?” We are left with much to think about in the realm of curiosity and acceptance, two muscles that need an exceptional amount of exercise in a time where so much is rapidly changing environmentally and socially.
Tusha Yakovleva is an educator, gatherer and ethnobotanist whose work revolves around generating strong, respectful relationships between plants and people. The foundations of her life-long foraging practice come from her family and first home - the Volga River watershed in Russia - where tending to uncultivated plants and mushrooms for food and medicine is common practice. Tusha is the author of Edible Weeds on Farms: Northeast Farmer’s Guide to Self-growing Vegetables. Tusha is currently completing graduate work at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry on Onondaga Nation homelands. Her research is in support of cross-cultural partnerships for biocultural restoration and takes place under the guidance of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.
Music by Ali Dineen and Violet Bell. Visit our website at forthewild.world for the full episode description, references, and action points.
YOALLI RODRIGUEZ on Grief as an Ontological Form of Time / 306
This week, guest Yoalli Rodriguez brings us to the Chacahua-Pastoría Lagoons in Oaxaca, Mexico, to investigate deep connections with land, ongoing colonial violence, and the grief that comes alongside loving a place. The Chacahua-Pastoría Lagoons have long been vital spaces for Black and Indigenous communities, but continued colonial strategies have altered and quartered off the landscape in favor of nationalist and capitalist interests.
The conversation dives deep into an understanding of Mestizo geographies and the politics of refusal in the face of oppressive power. Despite the institutional acts of violence that limit sensual and sensorial relationships with the land, people continue to make spaces of their own and lay claims to land that go against colonial rule. With this context, Yoalli and Ayana come to a heartening conversation about the importance of ecological grief, rage, and sadness.
Yoalli’s work pays deep attention to the everyday lives of those who live around the lagoons, and she notes the care, love, and community that make grief and resistance possible. Here, hope and grief go hand in hand as strategies of resistance and fugitivity. Perhaps slow life and slow feeling can be a counter to the slow violence that has so marred life on earth.
Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez Aguilera is an educator, vinyl selector, and writer born and raised in Mexico but currently based in the U.S. They are currently an Assistant Professor in Anthropology & Sociology and Latin American and Latinx Studies at Lake Forest College, Illinois. They are interested in subjects of anti-colonial, anti-racist feminist struggles, political ecology, and State violence.
Music by Fabian Almazan Trio, Eliza Edens, and PALO-MAH. Visit our website at forthewild.world for the full episode description, references, and action points.
ANTONIA ESTELA PEREZ on Uncovering Plant-Human Intimacy /305
Breathing in the joy and lessons of the plant life surrounding us, Ayana and guest Antonia Estela Perez share an enriching conversation on the power and magic of coming to know the world around us. Antonia dives into the tension that exists in living in and caring for lands that have been violently colonized, calling listeners to understand plants both in the ways that colonization has affected their legacies and within anti-colonial structures that suggest there are other ways to engage with the plants around us.
The natural world is, in fact, not separated from any one of us, and in detailing her work with Herban Cura, Antonia brings her insight on connections to plants and land within urban settings expanding the horizons of intimacy between humans and plants across human-imposed boundaries. As Antonia shares more about her New York City and Chilean roots, she reminds us of the value of connection to places for spiritual, ancestral, and medicinal means. Cultural and ancestral knowledge are vital to everyone’s survival in a world marred by colonial violence. What healing can be found within our own backyards, our own lineages? Perhaps the plants will lead us home once again – as they always have.
Antonia Estela Perez grows medicines, gardens, and networks that work to interrupt anthropocentric, individualist, separatist socialization and bring folks into deeper awareness of their ecological family and belonging. They are first gen, born and raised on Lenape territory in NYC, and descended from the Mapuche peoples of Chile. They have cultivated a deep relationship with their plant relatives since a very young age, and their passion for open-source pedagogy founded the inclusive healing, learning, and collaboration space Herban Cura along with its medicinal product line.
Music by Julio Kintu and The Ulali Project with Pura Fé. Visit our website at forthewild.world for the full episode description, references, and action points.
DR. MIMI KHÚC on Claiming Unwellness
Guided by her curated work Open In Emergency (a “hybrid book project” including a Tarot Deck and a “hacked” DSM), Dr. Mimi Khúc and Ayana share in a deep conversation touching on mental health, collective unwellness, and the power of communal care. Mimi provides listeners with a reminder of joyful slowness and the vitality of finding the agency to care for self and others.
Mimi’s work is grounded in the question: “How do we find new ways to talk about what hurts?” Flipping diagnosis on its head, Mimi guides us to find new ways to name what we feel and to decolonize the language of feeling itself. How is what we feel a reflection of what we have been told we must feel? How are our understandings of wellness centered around a productivity that benefits expansive capitalism over humanity?
Together, Mimi and Ayana reflect on the ethical callings and commitments to care for each other and begin to unpack the systems that must be dismantled in order to truly care for one another and find vulnerability together. These are spiritual and religious questions. Perhaps connection and care in this individualized, alienating world are true magic.
Mimi Khúc is a writer, scholar, and teacher of things unwell and visiting professor in Disability Studies at Georgetown University. She is the managing editor of The Asian American Literary Review and guest editor of Open in Emergency: A Special Issue on Asian American Mental Health. She is very slowly working on several book projects, including a manifesto on contingency in Asian American studies and essays on mental health, the arts, and the university. But mostly she spends her time baking, as access and care for herself and loved ones.
Music by Jeffery Silverstein, Samara Jade, Grief Is A River (Sarah Knapp). Visit our website at forthewild.world for the full episode description, references, and action points.
DR. BRETT STORY on How We Belong to Each Other
This week, Ayana is joined by filmmaker and author Dr. Brett Story. Together, they ponder justice, accountability, and interconnection in a complex and rapidly changing world.
In this intellectual and timely conversation, Brett begins by unpacking how carceral logics and conceptions of the “criminal” work, mark and dictate the world spatially, while at the same time explaining the socially-constructed nature of crime. Brett’s work examines the ways we individually and collectively metabolize our anxieties, and through this lens, she makes connections across the broad issues of our current reality from changing climates to criminal justice systems that were designed to enforce control rather than to produce true justice.
At the center of the conversation is the question of interdependence– emphasizing the need for community and collective action in the face of neoliberal individualism. Mass-incarceration and climate change are not crises of the individual, but of our culture. The abolitionist imagination may be the key to a collective future– as Brett reminds listeners that our aspirations can be both practical and utiopan.
Brett Story is an award-winning nonfiction filmmaker based in Toronto whose films have screened at festivals and theaters internationally. She is the director of the award winning feature documentaries The Hottest August (2019) and The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (2016), both of which were also broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens. Brett holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Toronto and is currently an assistant professor in the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University. She is the author of the book, Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power across Neoliberal America. Brett was a 2016 Sundance Institute Art of Nonfiction Fellow and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow in film and video.
Music by Jahawi Bertolli, Jahnavi Veronica, and Leyla McCalla. Visit our website at forthewild.world for the full episode description, references, and action points.
CLAUDIA SERRATO on Earth Centric Gastronomy
This week, guest Dr. Claudia Serrato opens our minds to the sensual, political, and vital nature of our relationship to food. Our bodies are a landscape in their own right and with Indigenous feminist theory in mind, this episode bears wittness to the cycles of gastronmies and of life that keep us tied to the earth. Claudia turns to her own landscape to remind us that there are times to dry up and times to bloom.
To consume food means that we enter into a relationship with it, we physically embody it. In this conversation Claudia and Ayana dive into what that relationship could be, and how embodiment may be a spiritual quest. Honoring foodways and the gifts of the earth is about more than just changing our diets, but is rather a cultural, spiritual, and political project. How might we honor both where we came from and where we are now in ways that respect traditional foodways alongside place-based geographies/ food ways?
Decolonizing the body and the landscape also means decolonizing the kitchen.Through the sacred work of food sovereignty, we can create a better kitchen, a better palate – one that resists the violence of colonization and globalization. This work is the toil of gardening, the pain of remembering, the prayers of the season. This is not easy work, but it is vital, human, and intimate.
Dr. Claudia Serrato is a cultural and culinary anthropologist, an Indigenous plant-based chef, and a food justice activist scholar. Claudia has been writing, speaking, and cooking up decolonized flavors for over a decade by ReIndigenizing her diet with Mesoamerican foods and foodways, cooking traditions and nutrition, and culinary ways of knowing.
Music by Justin Crawmer, Julio Kintu, and PALO-MA (Paola De La Concha). Visit our website at forthewild.world for the full episode description, references, and action points.
Keep up the great work!
This is my #1 podcast! I have learned so so much from the host and all their interviews, and I can't wait to learn more new things about the modern world from a Global lens. Thank you for all the work you do! For The Wild is a Life-Changer!!
Interesting and great guests!
So far I really like this podcast. The guests are interesting and the content is so needed during this complicated time on Earth. My only complaint is the hosts “hmms” and “awwws”. Although she seems very humble, her responses come off as… phony? That’s my only complaint.
Great but so many encores in 2022
I love this podcast so much! I understand it takes a lot of labour and research to produce, BUT I am a little uneasy about all the encores. I’ve heard all of these episodes, and while I’m all for hiatuses when needed, I’ve stopped looking for new content as there hasn’t been any in months. I’ll be so happy to hear it again when it returns. Thank you Ayana and team 🙏