Qwantese Winters, a Madison-based doula, writer, agriculturist, and mixed media artist, will be the 2023 Naturalist-in-Residence and host programming throughout the month of September, the Madison Public Library has announced.
“We’re so thrilled to bring back the Library Naturalist-in-Residence project this year,” said Community Engagement Librarian Kristina Gómez, who developed the program and has helped facilitate it each year, in a release. “This unique residency centers environmental learning while building and deepening individual and community connection to nature.”
Winters will be working with the theme of “Rooted in Nature” for the residency and chose the theme based on her work of inspiring Black people to connect with land and heal from land-based trauma through joyful engagement with nature and land, according to a press release from the Madison Public Library. A large piece of Winters’ work in driving engagement with nature connection and food production comes through her regular appearances on PBS Wisconsin’s “Let’s Grow Stuff.”
“Qwantese brings a wealth of expertise and lived experience to the project; along with a joyful and wonder-filled approach to re-educating and re-imagining our connections to nature in culturally relevant ways,” said Gomez. “Attendees of Qwantese’s programs will have fun while learning with hands-on activities, having space to reflect and reconnect, and growing together in community.”
The Rooted in Nature theme will also be made visible through the work of Afro-Latina immigrant artist Alina Puente who uses bold hues and textures in her art influenced by Abstract Expressionists such as Cándido Bidó, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Mark Rothko. Limited edition posters in English, Spanish, and Hmong will be available for pick-up at any Madison Public Library location as well as the Dream Bus starting Sept. 1.
Winters’ hopes to inspire everyone to feel included in what nature and the outdoors have to offer and hopes to continue efforts in breaking down barriers to these spaces for marginalized people.
“Throughout my life, I confronted stereotypes that discouraged me from embracing nature and partaking in outdoor activities. These activities were often labeled as ‘white,’ and were seemingly in conflict with my identity as a Black person. Yet, amidst these challenges, my connection with nature remained undeniable,” said Winters in a release. “I have chosen the theme Rooted in Nature for the residency as a way to extend a heartfelt invitation to all those who have felt detached from the land or who have lost their wonder when engaging with nature. This call gently urges each person to come and be rooted—to reconnect with the land, to embrace their heritage, and to rediscover the awe-inspiring wonder that resides within each of us when we are one with nature.”
Winters will host nature-based programs at various libraries from September 1-30, including several meditative nature and writing walks, opportunities to cook with foraged ingredients, learning to make infusions of different kinds and so much more. More information can be found here.