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.
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This interview with Vanessa Baehr was conducted on June 17, 2019 in Hudson, NY. Vanessa grew up in New Jersey across the Hudson from Staten Island where the Hudson empties out into the Atlantic Ocean. She spent a lot of time by the ocean but not going into the ocean near her house due to extreme pollution. Vanessa moved to Hudson in 2010 and lived in several locations around the city until ultimately moving out because she could not afford to rent an apartment after a few years due to the gentrification the city is going through. She spoke about coming into the city as an outsider and being mindful of the community that have been there before she arrived. She feels there is a population in Hudson that is not mindful and transforming the city into what they would like it to be without any thought or consideration of community that has lived in Hudson all there lives. These people now have to move out of the city because they no longer can afford to live in Hudson. Vanessa worked at the local community garden and taught hula-hoop when she first arrived. Both activities were a good way for her to locate herself in the community. Vanessa attended Greene County Community college for two years and finished her degree at Bard College. She spoke about the differences of attending a public school and loved the experience of studying in an environment that emphasized community and how much care the faculty took with each other because everybody is from the same community. In contrast to Bard a private college where most students attending were not from the area and there was no emphasis on community.
When Vannessa moved out of Hudson she began a garden at her home and spoke about the garden being in her front yard which pushed her to garden in a public setting and then had to figure out how to distinguish borders. Through her gardening she was able to meet her neighbors and become more comfortable with living in the community. For the last part of the interview Vanessa talked about herbs and herbalism and how she began studying plants, the community she created around working with plants and the creation of her own apothecary. She ended the conversation by talking about her son who is extremely well versed in plants and how at a very young age been involved working with his mom identifying plants, foraging and how to use the plants for healing.
This interview may be of interest to those who want to learn about Hudson, Green County Community College, Bard, Hudson Community Garden that was later repurposed for the Habitat for Humanity Housing Project, Gentrification, Gardening, Herbs and Herbalism.
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.”