Akilah Martin, Orrin Williams and the
Roots Watering Hole podcast
We are proud to feature an interview with Dr. Akilah Martin and Orrin Williams on their new podcast “Roots Watering Hole.” “Roots Watering Hole” focuses on topics from the BIPOC community’s point of view. The cover topics varying from food systems in Chicago, to integrative medicine, to how to create a productive workspace at home, and other subjects impacting communities, accompanied by interviews with experts in these fields. The podcast is available on Buzzsprout. You can go directly to the podcast home page by clicking here.
What’s the name of the podcast and why did you start it?
Akilah: “Roots Watering Hole… Orrin and I are creators, and this [podcast] is our natural inclination. We have written things together and presented together. The next frontier is to immerse ourselves in the oral tradition of storytelling and oral interviews …[to] have other people’s voices heard, [be] creative in that messaging, we talk healing and wellness, [how] what you eat impacts [that]”…
Orrin: “The reason why I chose this name is because it has a lot to do with oral tradition, how we transmit information…. The ‘Roots Watering Hole’ is not just related to African culture, it’s rooted in human culture, and again it’s how we transmitted information, oral history, cultural pathways…the watering hole in Africa is where…mostly women…went to get water. It was an important place in terms of gathering information, sharing information. But then the whole oral tradition piece too is why the watering hole is important…[also the village circle is a place for] community [to come] together to make decisions regarding where to move, grazing land, water, what are we planting, what are we growing, all those sorts of things”.
What are the goals and is there a specific audience you want to reach, and why?
“[We have] no specific audience [in mind], [we want to support] others in leading a purposeful life, generating a collective/local food systems, and growing their own food, while touching on topics such as spirituality, arts, culture, [we] want to do everything, building our utopia, anyone is available to listen. We want connectedness to be the message, to walk away with an ambition to take action and feel motivated and/or pumped”.
“Just community in general: homeowners, landlords, people interested in beginning gardening or interested in food, vegetables and herbs. [We want to] begin the conversation [on health and wellbeing], to talk to people about what may be a better pathway as an individual, family, block, neighborhood, West Side/South Side [of Chicago], county, state, or country or world. We need to talk about ‘what about these fruits and vegetables’
. Again, it’s about responsibility to produce your own food when you can and not being totally reliant on an industrialized food system”.
What are you going to cover in the future? Are there any possible guests you might want?
“For the series in general – food is very important and what other things [we need] to thrive as a family and community. [We want to show the] point of view from BIPOC communities and the Black community, [talking about] about historical trauma, thinking about stress reduction, meditation, trauma-informed care, integrative medicine doctors, traditional Chinese and other ethnic medicine systems and Qigong.
[We want to] cover the humanities and art (music therapy and art therapy) and how to integrate them into your lifestyle, integrating music [in your lives].
“[We are going to cover] health and wellness, ancestry, interdependence, mythology, indigenous people’s beliefs, community collective, [and talk to] therapists, orators, singers, places and spaces. We [will ask each guest the same (generally) 7 questions], but tailored to their field, [around how they] define health?…Artists, people in the humanities, shamans, naturalists, historians, critical thinkers, nutritionists, travelers, economists, psychologists, in relation to wellness, healing, storytelling. For example, because everyone is working from home now, how to create the workspace at home to be more productive, what this would look like, how it impacts you, and to create productive spaces that bring joy”.
What do you want the audience to take way?
“That food is very important and what other things do we need to thrive as a family and community. Every month we want to provide information to gardeners, farmers, etc., in an urban context, on what they should be doing. This month we will focus on basic stuff because we want to be relevant to advanced folks…. [For example], what do you do in January? You get ready for the summer or growing season. What you do is go to the seed catalogs, talk about what you like to eat, where are you going to plant? So we are going to talk about seasonality, we are going to talk about what you are going to grow, nutrient density, what are the most nutrient-dense foods. For example, the nutrient density of greens and eating apples instead of drinking apple juice…We want people know about various varieties of fruit and vegetables that people do not know about. [For example] Southern Exposure’s ‘The Collard Project’ and to learn various types of collard greens. We want to expand people’s’ knowledge”
“For me, I want the connectedness to be the takeaway. When the audience listens to us or our guests, they walk away in self-reflection, mode purposed to do something that will have an impact in their communities.. At the very least, you listen with us, you are motivated, pumped to do something for your own well being or for someone else’s.”
About Our Members
Dr. Akilah Martin is first and foremost in partnership with soil. Through working with soil, her natural inclination progressed from the complexity of soil to plants to food. She has collaborated with urban growers and rural growers, and is partnering on several projects involving food sovereignty at the University of Illinois at Chicago and other entities. Additionally, she develops curriculum as part of Chicago Grows Food.
Orrin Williams grew up in Englewood. In his early teens there were no vacant lots but today it is different. “So I looked at that landscape…[and] thought, what can we do? Why don’t we grow food?” It made sense to him, combined with his interest in farming and the discussions he had over the last 40 years with his friends. He is involved as both an advocate for urban farming and as a participant. He works for the Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion and is the food systems coordinator a program out of the Office of Community Engagement for Neighborhood Health Partnerships at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He describes his organization’s philosophy as “eat, move, and save.” Also, he develops the curriculum and serves on the committee for outreach campaigns to diverse audiences as part of CGF.