This oral history interview is an intimate conversation between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share this recording with Oral History Summer School, and with you. Please listen in the spirit with which this was shared.
This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please inquire about permissions.
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This interview was conducted with Isa Coffey in the Hudson Area Library. Born in West Germany and raised just outside of Washington D.C., Isa now lives in Chatham, New York. She is the founder of Wisebodies, a school that draws upon plant knowledge, compassion, community and movement to teach holistic sexuality in the Hudson Valley. Isa discusses how her four-decade career in sexuality was prompted by her experiences with Childhood sexual harm. She draws connections between the body and memory, and emphasizes the transformative power of a woman’s knowledge of her own body. She mentions studying at Smith College and Hunter College and working at a women’s health clinic in San Diego, and recalls the lesbian and gay social culture of New York in the 1980s. In retracing her own journey of parenthood, Isa describes the rarity of lesbian and gay parenthood at that time, and discusses her experience with self-insemination. Having moved to the Hudson Valley 17 years ago to pursue her practices of herbalism and farming, Isa describes how the city of Hudson has changed since then. She also talks about her brain trauma, brain surgery, and epilepsy, and emphasizes the need for societal change around the treatment of those with disabilities. She discusses navigating environments both with and without her service dog, Lily, who is present with us during the interview.
This interview may be of interest to those who want to learn about herbalism, farming, the Hudson Valley, disability, Childhood sexual harm, sexual education, holistic sexuality, education, lesbian history, intergenerational and community learning, and healing
Laura Thorne is a Canadian writer, illustrator, tattooist, and publisher who lives in Brooklyn. A recent graduate of the New School for Social Research, she has a background in critical theory and is particularly interested in amateur, queer, and radical art and publishing practices. She works for The New Inquiry and Verso Books, and publishes a community journal in her neighborhood in Brooklyn.
This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.
Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”