My learning journey began aboard a solar powered sailboat, working & learning how to sail and cook on the open sea. I worked in restaurants & built community gardens. I helped launch a neighborhood orchard from a reclaimed lot. Then I worked on small farms dotted across the the US/Turtle Island, all before relocating to the Northeast United where my own ancestors once migrated, so I could begin a journey of understanding. Here I learned about radical praxis from the powerful educators and activists at Mission Hill School in Boston.
My journey with honeybees began in Boston in 2010, when I and several local beekeeping organizers started the Boston Area Beekeeper Association and the Boston Tour de Hives, a bicycle powered apiary tour of the greater Boston area.
Now I have roots in Western Massachusetts, a region that sits on the stolen land of indigenous people from the Nipmuck, Pocomtuc and Wabanaki Confederacy. Here, I run a small apicultural business built upon the practices of reciprocity modeled on the social norms of the bees themselves. Simultaneously, I work as a work-place culture consultant with organizations activated around making lasting change by shifting power strucutres.
I’m a nonbinary, white, Ukranian evaluator, facilitator, writer and beekeeper working at the nexus of systems change and the environment.
A Ukranian transplant safeguarding her heritage
My grandmother, Constance Marie, who I affectionately called Connie, sparked my love of these overlapping topics. She used food to bridge her Ukrainian traditions with the Italian, French and contemporary “American” cooking she learned from her friends that surrounded her in the United States. She spent hours in her kitchen crafting recipes that married her own traditions with those of the French and Italian chefs she admired. She shared these practices with me with a side of Ukrainian folklore and mysticism.
As a Ukranian transplant living in New York City, Connie raised rabbits on rooftops, holding on to her agrarian roots. Animal husbandry was her connection to the mystical traditions of her people.
At the end of her life, true with the spit fire of any strong Ukranian woman, my grandmother's dying wish was that I “take big risks.”