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Session Two:

Proximity, Land, & Place


November 19, 2021

Tawndalaya DaRoza-Cesar

Meet Tawndalaya “Tawndy” DaRoza-Cesar, A sower of the seeds and seams! A Kreatress, designer and cultivator from Boston, MA. An alumna from Howard University, a current fellow with Tuskegee University’s Carver Integrative Sustainability Center (CISC) in partnership with Hustlaz 2 Harvesters (H2H), she grows all plethora of herbs and vegetables while conducting regenerative applied agricultural research in Washington, DC.  Tawndalaya’s work focuses on agricultural applied research that demonstrates how to live a healthy lifestyle in harmony with the land. This lifestyle incorporates the powerful healing capabilities of the Earth’s medicine focusing on holistic health and wellness, horticulture therapy, herbalism, nutrition and permaculture. Tawndalaya is also passionate about building skilled and resilient communities that are conscious of how to incorporate these healing modalities in their lifestyle while adopting regenerative practices that are beneficial to the wellbeing of their community and the Environment. Tawndalaya is also passionate about pioneering a regenerative fashion cycle + lifestyle that is not destructive to the Earth or its inhabitants. This includes a  fashion cycle that is innovative, ethical and creative without having an exploitive catastrophic impact. Furthermore a lifestyle that is integrative, nourishing, therapeutic and conducive to shifting the paradigm of the degenerative habits and cycles we currently live by. Furthermore, she dreams of pioneering a regenerative supply chain model that focuses on designing and manufacturing textiles from biodegradable organic materials in order to mitigate the harmful impact the industry has had on the Earth while initiating a new generation of skilled palm engineers.

La’Meshia Whittington

La’Meshia Whittington serves as the Deputy Director for Advance Carolina and the North Carolina Black Alliance Campaigns Director. Professor Whittington is the co-convener of the NC Black & Brown Policy Network, former National Democracy Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, former Chairwoman of the FRENC Fund Administration, Founding member of Democracy Green, member of the Burke Women’s Fund in Western NC, member of the Board of Directors for Cape Fear River Watch, the former N.C. spokesperson on fair courts for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and a community liaison for the National Academies of Science, Engineering & Medicine for the Guidance on PFAS Testing and Health Outcomes national study. Professor Whittington leads work on intersectional democracy and environmental justice.


Professor Whittington serves as an adjunct professor in the Division of Sociology at Meredith College and a Lecturer of Diversity and Environmental Justice in the College of Natural Resources at N.C. State University. Professor Whittington has led guest lectures at N.C. Central University, NC Central Law School, Shaw University, Duke University, and her work has been seen on PBS NC, CSPAN, Bloomberg, Bloomberg Law, and a host of other publications. She is a petitioner in two active petitions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, challenging major contaminants PFAS and 1,4 Dioxane (PFAS and 1,4 Dioxane). Professor Whittington is an Afro-Indigenous woman from North Carolina, a royal descendant of the former Afro-Indigenous settlement: The Kingdom of the Happy Land.

Celine Isimbi

Celine is a student of the earth interested in reconciling the relationships between people and their environments by advocating for environmental liberation. As a Black Geographer, her African identity, culture and traditions influence her work. While growing up in Cape Town, South Africa, her ancestral and familiar connections are rooted in Rwanda and the DRC. She is now grateful to live and learn on the Haldimand Tract, Turtle Island, in so-called Canada. These intersecting identities and experiences influence the lens through which she approaches her work. She is pursuing joint honours in Environment, Resources and Sustainability & Geography and Environmental Management, minor in Political Sciences at the University of Waterloo with a co-operative degree program. 


Celine is part of a network of environmental liberation organizers and educators. She is also a published Essayist, with her work appearing in Intersectional Environmentalist and TRAD Magazine, a publication for African ideas and collective memories. In 2022, her essay After Apartheid, Green Spaces are still White Spaces, was published in the book Nature Is A Human Right: Why we’re fighting for the green in a grey world, available through Penguin Random House. 


As a student, Celine has worked with UWRAISE (Racial Advocacy for inclusion, solidarity and equity) since 2020 as advocacy director and most recently completed two terms as the co-coordinator. She was also a part of the Xchanges 2021 conference Borders of Being organizing team, which sought to bring together students, staff, faculty and community members to engage in conversations that build solidarity. In addition, she has been a part of many consultations and advisory groups to ensure the experiences and voices of students are present in decision-making spaces. She hopes to contribute to the ongoing work being done by Black UWaterloo students to ensure a safe campus where Black students can show up as their whole selves without any burdens and barriers during her time at University.

Guiding Questions

  • Does the proximity to the natural world affect our mental and physical well-being?

  • How has our relationship to mother nature evolved over time?

  • How can we reclaim our place?

  • How do we relate to one another?

  • Who are we as Black people (outside of how the world and white supremacy defines us)?

Learning Objectives

  • Proximity, Land, & Place

  • Land, it’s importance and intersections

  • Black environmentalism +

  • Afro-Indigeneity

  • The need for EL as a framework/movement

  • Diaspora organizing - How do we relate to one another?

Session Description

The way we experience our environment is dependent on three significant factors - proximity, land, and place. Due to environmental racism and generational trauma, many of us have lost our connections to land. In our discussion we will delve into Afro-Indigeneity in relationship with land and how it has shaped into what we see today.

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