Since its inception in 2020, my series of Tending the Hedge interviews have highlighted inspiring individuals who engage in a practice of “magical stewardship,” living and working with intention. I wanted the series to be an exploration of themes of mutual aid, rejecting a mindset of competition and scarcity culture and instead lifting up the voices of others. I am so inspired by the myriad ways in which folks are tending the hedges of their own communities, so to speak— folks featured talked about things like sustainability and stewardship, body positivity and social activism, spirituality and disability awareness, and staying true to oneself in a world that is full of “should’s.” I am really in awe of the community and conversation that developed through this series, and I am so excited to feature today’s magic-maker, Nadirah Chestnut of Canwebewell.
As Canwebewell’s co-founder, Nadriah shared a vision for “a plant-powered wellness community that celebrates culture, connection, and resilience,” all things which deeply embody the spirit of the Tending the Hedge. When I suggested a possible mindfulness event, I was beyond excited how she took the seed of an idea and grew it into something really magical. Similarly, when I asked if she would be featured in the series, she approached the conversation with as much care and creativity, and is an absolute delight to collaborate with. (Honestly, this intersection of community, mindfulness, and herbal magic is a dream come true, and I hope folks will join us on Saturday April 30th for High Tea in the Woods.) Here she shares her thoughts on inspiring folks to be their best selves and how plant medicine can heal communities.
What are your pronouns and what is your sign?
She/her. My sun is in Taurus, Aquarius rising, moon in Cancer.
Are you a witch? If so, what does that word mean to you?
I don’t identify as a witch but I’ve been known to have witchy tendencies!
What drew you to your work? Why is it important?
I’m a health advocate. I’ve been a lifelong wellness nerd and have spent the last 15 years of my career working in public health education. My passion lies in educating folks about taking better care of ourselves, and advocating for systems that nurture healthier communities.
Being raised with a multicultural view of wellness (I am half African-American and half Filipino), I was always interested in the marrying of Western medicine with traditional, holistic practices. American culture doesn’t do a good job valuing health. Despite our wealth as a county, we have some of the worst health outcomes in the industrialized world. From the food we eat, to how we move, to how we cope stress, there’s a lot we can do better.
Particularly in marginalized communities where the problem is also systemic, it can feel like wellness is unattainable. My company, Canwebewell, was born out of the question, “Can we be well?” Together with my co-founder, Panama, who is training to be a mental health therapist, we created a blueprint for wellness using plants as medicine, using community as medicine. We curate gatherings and events to inspire people to become the best version of themselves. Our vision is to cultivate a community that values conscious consumption and self-care.
How can others engage with this work and tend the hedge in their own communities?
Plant medicine is all the rage these days and it’s important to remember that people practice wellness in many ways. We all have to do our part in reducing stigma, and part of that is becoming informed about the various remedies out there, how we may consume safely and responsibly, and how we might nurture healthier communities in the process.
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Did you enjoy this feature? Check out other magic-makers in the Tending the Hedge series!