After five years learning and growing with Borderlands Restoration Network, I’m excited to be moving on to further my career working with land and community healing. As I prepare to leave the Borderlands for a long travel break before pursuing further education, I am reminded of all the things that make this place special and how they have formed my sense of compassion, duty, and community. I’d like to share some of the things that have meant the most to me with you here: 

The Plants 

The Madrean Archipelago eco-region – made up of “sky island” mountain ranges separated by “seas” of desert – has been a sublime locale for me to cut my teeth as a botanist. The sheer number of individual species (well over 4,000 plant species!) makes this an excellent place to study plants that can be found all across the American West. Working alongside other passionate botanists, horticulturists, and plant lovers, I have cultivated a deep empathy for the plant beings with whom we share this space (especially my favorites, the desert grasses!). I have known many of them from seed, to sprout, to plant, and then on to their role as healer of landscapes and human bodies. It has been a profound experience that I will always treasure. 

The People 

As for the human beings that move through these spaces, this region again does not disappoint. The complexity and uniqueness of the current era’s Borderlands community is one of the greatest I have ever experienced, right next to the sense of compassion among its residents. Living in a tri-national space where joy and laughter stand right alongside historic and current traumas nurtures a community of individuals able to stand uniquely present, acknowledging the past and working hard towards a vision of an inclusive and thriving Borderlands. Living here, you have so many role models of strong, persistent, and compassionate people surrounding you that you are inspired to believe in your own strength, as well. 

The BRN Mission 

BRN’s courageous mission of striving to address issues of environmental health within a vision of creating economic systems and human communities that exist in reciprocity with nature is what drew me to the Borderlands region and continues to inspire me to this day. It is not easy work, but so worthwhile, and I know the growing team of passionate folks at BRN will keep the spirit alive. 

We have seen so many successes in the organization’s young lifetime, and met so many people that have also been inspired by this work and taken this mission beyond Borderlands and around the world. And certainly, I will continue to be inspired by and connected to this great work as I take the next steps on my path. 

My time in the Borderlands has been illuminating, demanding, and enriching in so many ways. It has engaged every part of my being; head, heart, and hands. I’m so grateful for everyone I’ve met through this job, from passionate restoration practitioners and justice workers all over the southwest to the thousands of plant and animal beings I’ve spent time with, and I am excited to take all these connections and experiences forward with me into the next chapter of my life. Thank you, BRN!