Coming Home

More than six years have passed since my last blog on this site, coinciding with becoming Executive Director of Insight Garden Program, and not too long after that, the coronation of Donald Trump. And this past year, the Pandemic. All took my breath away, for entirely different reasons. 

Running and managing an organization as a founder transitioned to ED is an all-encompassing labor of love.  

And the past 4+ years of cult leadership even more deeply polarized our country, gnawed at parts of me that I didn’t even know existed (or were better left forgotten). 

I had to stuff a lot away. My love of creative writing dissolved into an abyss; I had to do the things that needed to get done to evolve Insight Garden, tend to our people, and keep one foot in front of the other. All while our country seemed to be imploding. 

So I compartmentalized, found joy in our prison garden installations, the growth of IGP, the stories and successes of our participants and comfort in the community we built around us – as well as the support of family and friends. All while navigating the personal and collective trauma of unhinged leadership and a deeply divided country. 

Then, the Pandemic. Pivots everywhere. Openings, closings, fraught decisions, so many challenges – and maybe possibilities? What is the future we want to create for ourselves, live into?

After 18 years of navigating the criminal justice system, and in the middle of last spring’s racial justice moment, I made a leap of faith to let my baby go to make way for new leadership. No small steps there, just a giant leap. 

Since then, beset by election chaos, violent unrest, and Pandemic-stoked groundlessness, it also was time to revisit the emotions I’d so tightly packed away over the past few years. Time to find the words again that I’d left behind in the name of self-preservation. 

In a past blog, Home is Where the Heart Is, I noted all of the places I have called home. But the most important one, it seems, is right here.

About Beth Waitkus

Gardening as a revolution. Most recently, as Founder & Executive Director of the Insight Garden Program, I built a $1+ million nonprofit that works across sectors to provide experiential, transformative gardening and landscaping training in prisons, participant re-entry programs, and advocacy for systems change at the intersections of environmental, criminal, and social justice. To become environmentally aware, all people need is a little time in the garden, or outdoors -- nature teaches us everything we need to know.
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