Monday, December 29, 2008


We want to introduce you to the many people and organizations who are contributing time, thoughts, space, and ideas to “Plants without Borders” project.

As part of this project, in fall 2008 we will begin a series of workshops, followed by interactive group discussions about plants and culture.

The workshops will be opportunities for people like you to bring samples, photos and stories about their favorite plants and their culture. The location of these panels will be announced this fall. In order to reach people of different cultures, we want to take these workshops into several neighborhoods (please let us know of possible locations in your area).

Scholars who will be speaking at the workshops and/or the panel discussion will include: Geoffrey Philp, Steven Woodmansee, Kiki Mutis, Sheila Kelly, Reggie Whitehead, Adrian Castro, and Carol Hoffman-Guzman.

Geoffrey Philp, originally from Jamaica, often includes rich descriptions of native plants in his poetry. Geoffrey teaches English at Miami Dade College and is the chairperson of the College Prep Department at the North Campus. He is author of the children's book, Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories, a novel, Benjamin, My Son, a collection of short stories, Uncle Obadiah and the Alien, and five poetry collections, including Exodus and Other Poems, Florida Bound, hurricane center, and xango music. Read more at See below his poem, Naseberry Berth.

Kiki Mutis, born in Colombia, South America, believes that plants can heal divisions between people and cultures. Kiki is the Director of the Community Science Workshop at Citizens for a Better South Florida, Inc., a non-profit environmental education organization in Miami. See Kiki has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a M.S. degree in Environmental Science. Her workshops include one for at-risk-youth. Kiki organizes events including a nature trip where naturalists guide homeless and migrant farm-worker children through the trails of the Everglades National Park. Kiki worked as a Natural Resource Volunteer in Bolivia from 1999- 2001.

Steven Woodmansee will be teaching several workshops and speaking at our panel discussions. He owns his own consulting business, Pro Native Consulting See the posting on August 20 for more info about Steve. (See next blog for more on Steve.)

Reggie Whitehead is a renowned fern specialist, a native Miamian, and a talented actor/singer. Although his formal education is in Communications (journalism and public relations), Reggie has spent the past 25 years studying ferns and other plants from throughout the Americas and Southeast Asia. His fern forays have taken him to Ecuador, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Trinidad, Mexico, Java, Thailand, Borneo, Malaysia, Singapore and Sumatra. In Sumatra, he discovered a new and distinctive fern species that was subsequently named in his honor, Microsorum whiteheadii (Smith & Hoshizaki). He serves on the Board of Trustees of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami.

Adrian Castro, Cuban-Dominican-American, is a poet, performance artist, and a state-licensed herbalist. In his work, he speaks about melting pot of cultures in the Caribbean, the migratory experience from Africa to the Caribbean to North America, and also the clash of cultures. Adrian knows and uses plants from both Cuban and African origins. His latest book Wise Fish has many verses speaking on native plants. Click here for more info.

Sheila Kelly is a Master Gardener and a Registered Horticultural Therapist. For years, Sheila has been involved in plants -- on the board of the Miami Beach Garden Conservancy, active in Urban Environment League, and bringing plants into senior citizen facilities as a way of revitalizing people’s lives. Sheila is also the director of the PROFESSIONAL TOUR GUIDE ASSOCIATION OF FLORIDA.

Project Director, Dr. Carol Hoffman-Guzman, has an undergraduate degree in anthropology from Cornell University, graduate work in archaeology/sociology at Columbia, and a Ph.D. from Florida International University in sociology, with an emphasis in race and ethnicity. Carol, viewing her mission as “applied anthropology,” has initiated an arts-related nonprofit, Arts at St. Johns, which explores and promotes the social value of arts.


Naseberry Berth, by Geoffrey Philp

Under a web of boughs, thick
as the lines in my father's ledger,

naseberries, brown and globular,
hung like burnished moons

over a green firmament;
late blossoms spired summer sky,

nectar drunk bees through a canopy
of leaves, tender as the hairs

on my sister's nape, crashed
into glass jalousies, the wide-

ning gap between the maid's quarters
and kitchen. Below veined arms

of the trunk, firm as my mother's
Adventist faith, tendrils dived deep

into dark humus, burrowed through stone,
shattered rock to sand, small

headstones for earthworms,
rooted in the shadow of our yard.

NOTE: Naseberry (Manilkara zapota) is called sapodilla in Mexico, níspero in Colombia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Venezuela; nípero in Cuba and Dominican Republic; dilly in the Bahamas; naseberry in the most of the West Indies; and sapoti in Brazil.

The Arts at St. Johns has many wonderful arts and culture events. If you would like to receive occasional emails about upcoming events and opportunities, just click here to subscribe to our email list.


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