Of Land and Spirit: Reciprocity and Ritual in Land Stewardship

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Across the U.S., queer and trans Black, Indigenous, and people of color are choosing to live communally in sub-rural landscapes. In doing so they are divesting from limiting socio-political and economic structures and modeling a liberatory existence, not limited to surviving the present but intending to thrive generations to come.

This thesis builds on their vision and considers how to design residential and retreat spaces rooted in an interdependence with the land and other species. It considers human-non-human entanglements as a key to living in right relationship to the lands we occupy and understanding our sacred roles as land stewards. And further invites the sacred into our dwellings, imbibing ritual, cosmology, and symbolism into our daily lives that keeps us thriving.

It uses the precedents of maroons and community land trusts as models of land stewardship that co-created futures in symbiotic relationships with the land and other species. And offers a thoughtful design tailored for an existing Afro-Indigenous land stewardship in the Blue Ridge mountains of Appalachia to be in reciprocity with plant, animal, and mineral species. The design will focus on the adaptive reuse of two barns on the site, new emergent structures, and new housing.