Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have lots of greens, since they are very healthy and a holiday favorite. I thought about these factors when I did an iPad portrait in October of Nana Anoa Nantambu holding mustard greens at a garden called Backyard Gardeners Network in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Since August, I have been teaching art workshops with the Backyard Gardeners Network's Lower 9 Growing Strong Program founded by Jenga Mwendo. The workshops are for elders and children, especially from the Lower 9th Ward community. Every time I go I see all the vegetables growing there: collards, mustards, broccoli, okra, etc. I also see 9th Ward residents learning to grow them.
I was having a conversation with Nana Anoa Nantambu, who was there one day, about how much she loves greens now and also when she was growing up. We related because my mother talks about something similar. My mother told her mother she only wanted fresh collard greens, not frozen or canned, when she was a child. Nana Anoa and my mother are about the same age and they both grew up in the Jim Crow South. Maybe they valued what now seems like little things when there was such a lack of opportunity in Southern towns. Family and good food...soul food...food for your soul...was strength.
Hopefully this Thanksgiving we will have food for our souls, remember all we are thankful for, and remember those in need.