my name is jenn and i identify as a south-east asian woman. my ancestors are teo chew and my family were forcibly displaced from vietnam during the late 1970s. i was born and raised in tkarón:to aka toronto on turtle island, which is where i currently live with my partner chris. we met in australia and our flat in melbourne was full of plants. it forever changed my way of urban gardening. i lived in melbourne for a few years and moved back to toronto in may 2017 to finish my phd. i started @lostinplantopia after encouragement by my friend @whereismaren. it was the beginning of winter and i was feeling down. i was writing my thesis and wanted to have a draft completed by the end of the year. as you can imagine, i spent a lot of time at home.
i moved into my first home in june 2017 and vowed to make it a plant paradise. it started off with 20 or so plants over the summer. i loved having a balcony to sit out on when taking breaks from writing. however, when winter came it was hard being stuck inside all day. i started to fill our apartment with plants as an act of self-care and as a way of forgetting that it was winter. i was full on obsessed with plants more than ever. it was a nice escape from my thesis & i felt lost in my plantopia. at the end of 2017, i created my account on instagram so that i could connect with other plant lovers to share and learn from our experiences. it made me so happy seeing other people’s plants and passion for their green friends. the best part of this account has been the people that i’ve connected with ❤
nature is so essential to my well being. i didn’t realize the depth of this connection until i spent time wandering in the parks and bush of australia. my perspective & life shifted after living abroad. as cliché as it sounds, i feel like a different person in many ways. it was hard moving back to toronto and adapting to life, again. for me, moving back and forth is associated with an existential quandry. the concept of home has been redefined many times and my relation to this planet and living things has shifted. what has remained constant is my connection with nature, specifically plants. i appreciate that plants are accessible and that everyone is able to build a relationship with plants through observing, listening and learning about their care as they grow. i’m privileged to have space to care for my green babies and i hope to be able to share this experience with you. i also love learning about the history of plants and plant science and will be writing up my research here.
i will also be sharing posts about my travels. i have been exceptionally privileged to have travelled within 22 countries across four continents. many of these trips have been planned around hikes or visits to national parks and gardens. chris had a converted camper van while we were living in melbourne and we took many road trips. i will be sharing my photos and experiences, as well as tips for travelling consciously.
lastly, my work as an activist/researcher focuses on challenging systemic injustices and social inequalities from a critical, anti-colonial, anti-racist, intersectional perspective. i am a registered social worker. i completed my msw + phd at the university of toronto, followed by a postdoc at ryerson university and i am an adjunct professor at the university of british columbia. i am currently teaching two courses: one focused on community practice and another on the social context of child development. i am also an adjunct professor at the ontario college of art and design university & the principal investigator on a sshrc-funded study focused on migration and building solidarity among bipoc academics, practitioners, activists, and artists.
periodically, i will post pieces related to my academic work. you can also find me over at patreon curating anti-racism 101, a course on how to be an active accomplice. the nature of my work requires me to constantly practice self-care. moreover, i do so as an act of resistance. as audre lorde said: caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. as such, i will be posting about compassion for self and others as part of this practice, and to encourage others to engage in it as well. this includes plant care as self care and healing through our relationships with plants and nature.
if you follow me on ig already then you know i have a tendancy to write essays for captions. i promise not to go overboard here lol! thanks for reading.