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Gardening as a Path to Justice with Marcus Bridgewater

Welcome back to another inspiring episode of “Embodied Justice,” where we unearth the deep connections between the environment, well-being, and social justice. In today’s episode, our host Dr. Judy Lubin has a vibrant conversation with Marcus Bridgewater, also known as the “Garden Marcus.” Marcus, a life coach and motivational speaker, shares powerful insights about how gardening can be more than just a hobby—it can be a pathway to collective well-being and personal growth.

In an age where the hustle and bustle of modern life often lead us to neglect our mental and physical health, Marcus’s insights are a breath of fresh air. He explains how gardening not only serves as a therapeutic practice but also teaches us invaluable lessons about patience, resilience, and community. His message is clear: just like a garden, our communities thrive when we nurture every part of them.

Marcus uses the metaphor of tending to the berries in a garden to highlight how we should approach our communities and policies. It’s not enough to care for one ‘berry’ while neglecting the growth conditions for the others. Instead, a holistic approach focusing on an environment where everything can thrive is essential.

Here are three pivotal takeaways from the discussion:

  1. Fostering Collective Growth: Marcus emphasizes the need to address communal and historical wrongs for the betterment of society without excluding any group from the greater good. He implores us to embrace kindness, patience, and positivity in our interactions to uplift humanity as a whole.
    • [04:08]: They’re they were aloof. I found myself a teacher and an administrator at a private preparatory. And while I was there and I’m working with my students and I’m working with my colleagues, all of the studies that I’ve been doing on the side, which is in the wee hours of the night taking notes and reading books and just studying with whoever I could spend time with about mind, body, and spirit, started to formulate into something bigger than itself because I started taking those little gems and using them where I could when I was interacting with people. But in that whole process, I, myself, was losing touch with my own center, my motivation, my ability to wake up in the morning and still feel passionate and enthused about what I was doing. And in my reflection, I started to realize this is a common trait across the world. You know, the 9 to 5 becomes a very difficult thing to go through, and the next thing you know, you need more and more coffee. You need more and more sugar.
  2. The Significance of Representation in Gardening: Dr. Judy Lubin highlights the importance of Marcus’s presence as a Black man in the gardening space. Representation is crucial, especially in sectors like gardening and farming, which have deep historical roots and significant cultural impact. Marcus’s journey adds a layer of richness and inclusivity to these often overlooked aspects of heritage.
    • [45:15]: Well, there are so many things to note in this sequence. 1, I have been challenging the idea of black and white, challenging the idea of race in general, especially because as I’ve grown up and I’ve been put into a space where I’m considered a black gardener, I’ve had to reflect on what that means. And as I talked to my grandmother who I lost last year, at 96, reflected on her experience of what it meant to grow up a black woman in our country in the 19 center. I have to question whether or not the idea of black means the same thing universally. So instead, I tend to talk in terms of the Melanation scale because, in fact, the only reality that exists is how much melanin you have in your skin. And the amount of melanin that I have is substantially more than, say, my wife or my son or many of the people I see in the gardening space. So what does that mean? And as you said, it’s I’ve inherited this. I don’t I didn’t get a choice.
  3. Gardening as an Analogy for Life and Justice: Through gardening, Marcus draws profound lessons on balancing personal growth with communal stewardship. He contrasts living life for incentives with living for collective growth and emphasizes the importance of making choices that benefit everyone, promoting biodiversity both in our gardens and communities.
    • [43:29]: We don’t appreciate how much we have to offer, And I see that translate into the youth where so many of them feel unappreciated, unwanted as if there is no purpose for them. And I’m like, oh, well, literally, just you being you has purpose, but you have to be applying yourself to something. That’s where purpose comes from. Now why aren’t you applying yourself? That’s a disconnect from your drive. And so then and if I analyze that, more often than not, your drive has been stripped from you and replaced with incentive.

Take Action:

Engage your neighbors in a communal gardening project. It’s a fantastic way to foster relationships, teach children about nature, and share the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor. Starting a community garden could be just what you need to invigorate both yourself and your community. Like all good things, growing a garden takes time, and so does nurturing your community and personal well-being. Focus on long-term goals and take small, consistent steps toward achieving them.

Learn More about Our Guest

Marcus Bridgewater, a celebrated life coach, motivational speaker, and philosopher, is renowned for his unique approach to holistic personal development through the art of gardening. Known fondly as “Garden Marcus” on social media platforms, Marcus captivates audiences with his profound insights into the interconnectedness of nature, well-being, and community growth. His journey began with a transformative experience in nurturing sweet potato vines, leading him to discover profound life lessons and principles reflected in the natural world. In addition to being an eloquent storyteller and advocate for kindness, patience, and positivity, Marcus is also the author of the upcoming book “Seasons of Growth”. 

Connect With Marcus

On his website: https://www.gardenmarcus.com/

On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/garden_marcus/

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChoiceForward/

Judy Lubin

Dr. Judy is an applied sociologist, racial equity changemaker, yoga and mindfulness practitioner, author, auntie, bestie and beach lover. Judy’s elemental nature is water, and with her she brings calming, reflective energy to hold space for deep listening, inner work and transformative dialogue. 

The curator of the Embodied Justice program, she hosts the accompanying podcast and co-facilitates events and dialogues focused on the collective healing and sustainability of Black changemakers.

At CURE, Dr. Judy has built transformative racial equity frameworks and change management processes that have impacted thousands of lives. She began her career focused on health disparities, recognizing that stress from societal racism can become embodied and manifested through “weathering” that prematurely ages the body and shortens the lifespan of racially marginalized communities. 

She is unapologetically committed to centering Black people and the communities that have inspired her life’s work. The daughter of Haitian immigrants, she grew up in South Florida surrounded by music, her grandmother’s herbal garden, and the struggle to make it in a country that saw her family as outsiders. 

In 2022, after experiencing multiple health emergencies coupled with burnout from the intensity of the “racial reckoning” that increased demand for CURE’s racial equity services, Judy began a process of listening to the wisdom of her body, healing old trauma wounds, and reclaiming rest and her love of mind-body healing. During this time she explored somatics, indigenous and and ancestral healing practices and earned certifications in multiple healing modalities including yoga and energy medicine.

Emerging from a place of rest and listening to what her soul wanted to share, she now weaves mindfulness, body-awareness and spiritual activism to support changemakers and organizations to regenerate their leadership and give to the world from a place of ease and wholeness. 

Long committed to promoting women’s health and wellness, she is the author of The Heart of Living Well: Six Principles for a Life of Health, Beauty and Balance.

Find Judy on instagram or linkedin at @drjudylubin, where she (occasionally) shares posts celebrating Black joy, healing and well-being.

Shawn J. Moore

Residing at the intersection of leadership and mindfulness, Shawn creates sacred spaces for stillness and self-inquiry to help social impact leaders align their strengths, intention, and impact. Through his integrative approach, he holds transformative containers for self-renewal, personal discovery, and capacity-building that ease clients on their journey towards peace, clarity, and freedom.

Shawn is committed to empower changemakers to become embodied leaders – unified in mind, body, and heart – with the tools to mindfully pause, reconnect to their inner knowing, make strengths-driven decisions, and lead the change they believe the world needs.  

Reckoning with his own contemplation of burnout, purpose, and alignment, Shawn transitioned out of his role as Associate Dean of Student Life & Leadership at Morehouse College in the fall of 2021 to focus more on mindfulness and stillness-based training programs and workshops. 

While leadership resonates with him deeply, it is his personal and spiritual practices that allows him to continue to show up for himself and others. He is a yoga teacher (E-RYT® 200, RYT® 500, YACEP®), sound and reiki practitioner, meditation teacher, Yoga Nidra facilitator, and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, all focused through a Buddhist lens and 17 years of personal practice. He has contributed workshops, practices, and educational opportunities for celebrities like Questlove and Dyllón Burnside, and various yoga studios and colleges, Yoga International, Omstars, Melanin Moves Project, the Human Rights Campaign, Spotify and Lululemon. He currently serves as the Facilitation and Community Manager for BEAM (Black Emotional & Mental Health Collective).

Shawn hosts a podcast called The Mindful Rebel® Podcast that creates a platform to continually explore this unique intersection of leadership and mindfulness. Find him on instagram @shawnj_moore 

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