Interview with Emily Coble

Emily Coble is a grower, Americorps VISTA teacher, and creative living and working in Rhode Island. She expresses herself through a multitude of mediums with subject matter that flows from one piece to the next with a love of the natural world and plants, from her growing and teaching to her artmaking and crafting.

 

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Can you tell us about your process/work?

Everything that I am creating right now has to do with plants, I am just realizing. I am on the tail end of a year serving for Americorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) at a local food non profit in an urban part of Rhode Island doing Farm to School work all over the state. I get to cook healthy food and garden with inner city kids. It’s hella important!

I grew up with a big yard, a garden, and the woods. Not everyone has that so it’s up to humanity to help urban youth foster positive relationships with nature and see for themselves how it makes them feel to get dirty, eat plants, and be in nature.

I am now a resident gardener at an open-for-all community garden in the city, as well as a greenhouse and field manager for an urban farm in the south side of Providence, RI. I slipped into urban agriculture and I’m stoked about it. It’s challenging work, there’s always bumps in the road, but when I’m farming in the city or at a community center with twenty kids who just picked up a (huge) shovel for the first time, I find my time flying by. I know that is a green light to continue this work.

How does that spill into everything else?

My free-hand embroidery is nearly always of plants or an outdoor scene. I use words of empowerment like “I have many talents.” Those words are sort of tongue in cheek, yet not at all. I recently gave myself another tattoo, which just happened to be a vine around my left elbow. My sister got married in Charleston, SC and I did all of her flower arrangements and bouquets. It was my first wedding doing flowers. I would love to make that a business, too.

 

Do you feel creativity plays a role in the work that you do? (And if so) Where do you feel your creativity derives from?

When I am farming or gardening, I try to keep a loose hand just as I would if I were painting. I might drop half a package of radish seeds in one hole, but to otherwise stiffen up and try to control the results of nature I risk drying up and leaving farming behind. I really seek freedom and need to feed the freedom as much as I can. Perhaps if I have to make a living off selling the radishes I would need to get in line. For now, I choose to set an example for others which is based on having fun.

 

How do you engage and attribute the strength of femininity in your life?

Right now I relate to femininity as receptivity. It’s a state of mind that if I open my heart to the positive pieces of life all around, to fierce love and to joy, it will come easily.

 

Do you have a mantra or ritual that carries throughout your daily life?

When I wake up in the morning, before I do anything, I silently say while breathing deeply:

Waking up I breathe in

I am given 24 brand new hours to live

I vow to live them deeply

And to see the beings around me through the eyes of compassion

What are some important lessons or learnings you would like to share with those reading this?
  1. Whenever self-doubt, self-hatred or any kind of bullshit comes up, remember to love yourself first as soon as you can. Your love and forgiveness for yourself dissolves perceived notions of inadequacy.
  2. Drink plenty of water and care about sleeping.
  3. How well did you love? How well did you live? How well did you let go?
  4. Avoid getting #3 tattooed on you.

 

 

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