Interviewed by Nick Drozdiak
Written by Emma Sullivan
Paradise at Parkside | Washington, DC
A DC resident all her life, Talaya has lived throughout the city, starting in the Northwest in her childhood and landing in the Northeast now as an adult. Growing up, she encountered various challenges. Reflecting on that time, she shared her insight of how "difficult situations can shape you mentally and emotionally.” She recalls how her experiences in the city made her grow up a bit faster. A turning point for her arose in middle school when she cultivated a passion for gardening that has endured. Now 27, Talaya volunteers with the Paradise Parkside Gardening Club . She is committed to helping grow and share fresh produce with her community.
As a teenager, Talaya was drawn to the solace of the outdoors. The colors and patterns of flowers inspired her aspirations to become a photographer. Even now, she says, “nature fuels my imagination and allows me to escape. It’s a good therapeutic outlet, especially nowadays.” She adds, “if I have children one day, I hope to introduce them to gardening” Ideally, would like to live off the grid with a deeper connection to nature.
With an innate appreciation for the natural world, growing up in DC's urban environment often felt stifling. Talaya found support and mentorship from her teachers who inspired her to “...give the next generation a beacon of hope and provide positive outlooks on situations that may seem impossible to change.”
For Talaya, the Paradise Community Garden grounds her and helps her create a nurturing space for herself and her neighborhood. “When I am in the garden, I feel calm and relaxed. It gives me a chance to stretch my legs and get in some exercise, ” she said.
With an eye towards growth, Talaya looks forward to improving the Garden and the volunteer and learning experiences it offers. She is particularly interested in bringing herbs to Paradise that residents do not have easy access to, such as thyme and medicinal herbs like yarrow and oat straw (which fight infections).
Talaya has found a sense of peace and purpose through her volunteerism at Paradise. As the Garden continues to grow and adapt to its environment, so does she. The Paradise community is full of dedicated individuals like Talaya. Neighborhood Associates is privileged to collaborate with her and her community.