Jennifer Fendya
Tioughnioga riverbank

Story Info

Story & Experience

There weren’t a lot of words exchanged amongst the 4 humans and one pitbull who took part in our Earth Exchange experience, and we moved around the grounds separately, each engaged in our own earthy activities. The week prior, I’d been at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, at an environmental writer’s workshop, enjoying the cool, foggy mornings, unlike this piercingly bright and hot one. My brother and sister-in-law had had serious discussions about the proper repotting, pruning and rooting procedures for a pair of fig trees that were outgrowing pots and the ceiling in their dining room. We’d felt the gut-punch of the Supreme Court majority decision overturning Roe v. Wade, tensions around the revelations of the January 6th commission, neighborhoods like the one adjacent to mine in Buffalo suddenly overexposed and surveilled, an uptick in general incivility. Yet this day we were planting, weeding, cooking, eating, smiling, roaming the vegetable and flower gardens and the river’s edge, wearing our hats, offering gratitude and radical joy…

Why this Place?

Tioughnioga riverbank

Initially, we wanted to bring some joy to the Tioughnioga River that runs alongside the property of my brother and sister-in-law in Cortland County, NY, to be carried to all the stressed and suffering rivers of the world. We also planned to gather as Ukrainian-Americans in recognition of the ongoing devastation and destruction of our ancestral homeland. Then, in the week prior to the exchange, 7 mature, towering pine and maple trees adjacent to the property were felled by a new neighbor and replaced with a few evenly-spaced ornamentals. In response, we added all of the world’s vulnerable tree communities to our recipient list for offerings of love and thanks-giving.


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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.