Author Archives: Beth Waitkus

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.

The Case for Space

By absorbing endless natural spaces, or just gazing at the stars above (when they’re visible), creates a combined sense of awe and relief that we can actually breathe and thoughtfully reflect, just by “taking it in.” Indeed, the “wow” factor … Continue reading

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The Longest Year

Today is the first anniversary of the Bay Area’s Shelter in Place. It feels stunning, really. 365 days of the most surreal year. Life, as we knew it, turned into slow motion trauma, or as my friend Jenny-Beth says, “wading … Continue reading

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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 … Continue reading

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Why do I Help “Criminals?” (Part II)

At the Insight Garden Program, we’ve worked with more than 1,000 people at San Quentin Prison. Aside from our great results (less than 10% rate of return to prison compared to CA’s 70%), a transformative curriculum (now grounded in the … Continue reading

Posted in Citizenship, Community, Environmental Care, Gardening as Transformation, Prison Reform/Prisoner Rehabilitation | Tagged , | 1 Comment

From Prep School to Prison

Much gratitude to the Hotchkiss School Alumni Association’s Board of Governors for the school’s 2013 Community Service Award.  Below is my speech to the Hotchkiss community on April 12, 2013. To the Hotchkiss School Alumni Association’s Board of Governors and … Continue reading

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What does it mean to be free?

(Reposted from January 2012) In last week’s prison garden class, our provocative question for the day was:  “What does it mean to be free?”  Aside from the obvious – that most people in prison want to get out – some … Continue reading

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Home (is where the heart is)

On Golden Pond

One of many homesteads, Salisbury CT

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Tribute to MLK: Finding Freedom

In last week’s prison garden class, our provocative question for the day was:  “What does it mean to be free?”  Aside from the obvious – that most people in prison want to get out – some interesting answers emerged, including:  … Continue reading

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Occupy Yourself!

My definition of “authenticity” = becoming more conscious about how we show up in the world, and what uncomfortable changes we are willing to make within to find a better way to be with each other. In other words, aligning … Continue reading

Posted in Associational Life, Citizenship, Community, Grassroots Change, Leadership, Organization Development, Politics, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Real America (again)

I’m reposting this after almost a year.  Seems appropriate, considering the (very sad) state of politics these days. During campaigns, I’m always reminded of Sarah Palin’s “Real America” mantra so prevalent during the last presidential campaign. Somehow she positioned folks … Continue reading

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