We had the pleasure of sitting down with Sustain DuPage volunteer Beth Weiner in our Victory Garden for a short interview! Beth shares her unique intersectional experience being a woman and environmental activist in DuPage County. We’re so thankful that she donates her time, passion, and skills to our nonprofit! (7:06 min) Check it out! 

Transcript

Hi, I’m Beth Weiner, and the thing that I want people to know about this garden is, it is a wonderful community of people who care about their community and about this planet. You will gain amazing friendships, community connections, skills, and a place to just go and be away from the chaos of life and just feel boosted and supported. Whether you’re looking for gardening skills, whether you’re looking for friendships, you’ll find it here.

Andrew: WooooOOOooo! Ok, so like, what got you into eco stuff?

Beth: So, it’s actually a funny story because it started out when I was a Girl Scout, wayyyyy back when. Um, all the other girls in my troop were very interested in like, going camping and everything too, but they all wanted to like cabin-camp, and like still have like- NOT go outside. They’d be like very into the girly-girl aspects of the sewing and all that and I was the girl like, JUMPING into the river and like getting all of them muddy and disgusting and dirty and they would get angry. And I just really loved being in the outdoors um, and as I got older, and as I got into school, um, I pursued other interests and I kind of forgot about it because the Girl Scout troop disbanded and there weren’t a lot of outlets for young women who were interested in the outdoors. Um, and when I went off to college, I was interested in studying biology, um, it didn’t work out because I was really bad at chemistry, so I thought there were other ways and other skills and volunteering that I could do to still make an impact.

Andrew: Mm. What does it mean to you to be a part of agriculture as an American?

Beth: So I never really connected those two words in my brain before now, which is probably part of the problem. So, I think we live very much in a post-industrial world where people are not connected to the land. They don’t posses the same Land Ethic that they used to have because on a large scale, things like this garden and places like this garden don’t exist to empower people with skills to, you know, work the land and reap- and the benefits of the land and feel that sense of place. So I think that’s part of the problem, is that um, we don’t think of the word “American” as being tied to the land, um,  and I think that’s a huge disconnect that I’m only beginning to address by learning some of these gardening skills.

Andrew: Are you a farmer?

Beth: I am here!

Andrew: OooOOOoooh! Good Answerrrr! What do you believe our role as Millennials is in the Food Justice Movement?

Beth: So I think a lot of people in our generation are very passionate, um, and are kind of waking up to the idea that we are inheriting a world that is not just. And, it rightfully makes us upset. And I think it is our job to channel that frustration into a constructive and educational movement which will empower people to fight for what they believe in, instead of feeling like there is nothing that they can do.

Andrew: Mm. Is your Womanhood important to you?

Beth: Mhm.

Andrew: Do you find, um, special significance in a garden setting, as like, specifically speaking to like, your Womanhood?

Beth: Sure. So, I think of the Earth as, um, Mother. Um, and I think that the way the Earth gives life is very tied to the way that the Feminine gives life. So for me, a lot of it resonates in what I think about as the Divine Feminine and the Life-giving powers of the World. Um, and those- that wisdom that I think in a very Patriarchal-led society we’ve gotten very far away from, and so it’s incredibly empowering to make that connection, here in the garden.

Andrew: Aaaaaand, right now, literally the ‘gahden’ is filled with ladies. Does that mean a lot to you?

Beth: Absolutely.

Andrew: I think it’s really cool that our garden has, naturally like, just kind of magnetized like all these strong female leaders.

Beth: Yeah! Lindsayyyyy looking at you! Strong female leader! In one of my classes in college, it was an independent study with, um, a female professor, and it focused on um, ties in literature between the environment and the [sic] Feminism, and also relating that to post-colonialism [sic] and the othering of, um,  minorities and women and the way that, um, Patriarchal society demonizes that and is that tied to the way that we treat the Planet? Is the way that we treat the Planet, like a garbage can basically, tied to the way that we treat women in our society?

Andrew: Would you say it is?

Beth: I think so. Because of the feminizing- the way that we use female words to describe the Planet, um, I think it kind of gives society an ‘in’ to kind of abuse it [sic].

Andrew: Brutal.

Beth: Yeah.

Andrew: How do we change that?

Beth: We have to build connections like this. You know, we have to connect people and realize that this is important on a very personal level, because unless it affects you, and your experience, you’re not going to change it- or someone you love. I think there’s a lot of psychology- and I think a psychologist would have a really good answer for that- and I would love to see, um, psychologists getting involved in the environmental movement, and helping work towards changing people’s attitudes. Because we grow up with pre-conceived notions about the world, and I think it takes- really on a fundamental, like *brainstem* level, changing the way we think.

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