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Notes from the Field: What is Home?

By Aja Schmeltz

“ECO MEANS HOME: ‘eco’ comes from the greek word oikos, meaning ‘home’” – from Movement Generation’s JustTransition Zine

Home. What does that mean to you? Is it a place? Is it an idea? Is it people? Perhaps it is a feeling? I happen to think that home is all four of those things. When we began our transition to a Worker Self-Directed Nonprofit, one of our first tasks was to study the Just Transition Zine produced by Movement Generation. Immediately I was struck by the section entitled “The Meaning of Home”. I have been asked questions like “Where is home?” and “What is your place?” before, and usually I gave the standard answer which was the name of the town where I was currently living. But more and more I began feeling like that answer wasn’t complete. And after diving deep into the Zine and having countless discussions around “place”, the meaning of home started to ring differently for me. 

Home is a place. It is a house in the town in the county in the region in the state in the country on the planet where my husband and I raise our three daughters. It is the place where I cultivate soil and relationships. It is all of the places where I gather with friends and family to share stories and laughter, meals and sorrow, healing and to growth. It is the place where I find the sweetest spots to place my house plants and my outdoor gardens. It is the long trails and the secret spots in the woods where I go to reflect and to forage. It is the quiet corners where I paint and where we snuggle. 

Home is an idea. Home is what I long for when I am away. Home is the glorious aromas of a Puerto Rican Christmas. It is the sound of old school Hip Hop on Fridays, Geetmala on Saturday mornings, Ella Fitzgerald on a sunny Sunday afternoon and Salsa every day. Home is the warmth of the woodstove and the taste of pollo guisado. Home is that one smell riding the breeze that takes me right back to the endless summer days of my childhood. 

Home is people. It is the family I was given and the family I chose. It is the friends that I grew up with that have moved away, but every time we see each other, it is like no time has passed. It is the friends that I have grown apart from. It is the friends that I stay so closely bound to. It is the people that have found their way back into my life after long periods apart. It is the people I cook for. It is the people in the communities where I work and play. It is the people I share private jokes with, and my thought partners. It is the people that I share spaces with daily. It is my husband. It is our children. 

Home is a feeling. It is the satisfaction of working the soil. It is the comfort of falling into bed after a long day. It is the feeling of the cold air in my lungs on a long hike in the mountains. It is the feeling of the delicious breeze swirling through the apple orchards in the fall. It is the excitement of going to the farmer’s markets every Saturday. It is the thrill of riding my bike through the trails. It is the joy of watching our children coming into their own. 


Articles and personal reflections from the GWI team as they navigate their lives and their shared work.

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