Jabari Brown, Kevin Connell, Jeanne Firth and Theo Hilton

Scholarly Retreats
Type of work

Jabari Brown, Kevin Connell, Jeanne Firth, and Theo Hilton are scholars, farmers, food activists, and educators who have been co-creating work under the broad theme of the History of the Land. Inspired by the “History of the Land” workshop at Grow Dat Youth Farm which was created by Jabari Brown a decade ago, the group has engaged in an ongoing series of workshops, conversations, and field trips beyond the farm in City Park, extending their inquiry to other places where they hold deep personal ties to the land. By standing on a particular piece of land and asking “what’s happened right here?” they render broad histories of colonialism, enslavement, and resistance more tangible, personal, and local. Across differences of gender, race, sexuality, class, location, and history, learning about the land together has brought them into intimate conversation about loss, memory, narration, transformation, and how we imagine alternate, liberatory futures. They continued their History of the Land work during their scholarly retreat, broadening the archival material and current oral histories that are informing the work.

Jabari Brown is an observer and conscious participant in nature’s many ecosystems. His superpower is (re)introducing humans to nature and nature to humans using various processes like storytelling and community circles in a non-hierarchical, healing and powerful way. He’s frequently quoted, “Turn over a new leaf, take a new path home, understand a little more about the world we share with all other beings”.

Kevin Connell is an educator in New Orleans. His work with youth and adults focuses on outdoor learning, popular education techniques, thinking critically about capitalism, and envisioning a just and sustainable future.

Jeanne Firth works at the intersections of food, agriculture, and justice. She is on the founding staff team at Grow Dat Youth Farm and recently completed her PhD dissertation, a feminist ethnography of foodscape philanthropy in New Orleans.

Theo Hilton is a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Anthropology at Tulane University whose dissertation is titled “From Petro-Plantation to People’s Preservation: Louisiana Free Settlements and the Road to Recognition.” He explores themes of ecology, development, queerness, race, and Southern identity in his research and as singer and songwriter in the band Nana Grizol.

“We felt so appreciated by the Studio Staff and excited by their excitement to host us and be in conversation about land history work. We will remember long dinners full of laughter at the giant pecan table on the porch.”