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A Tangible Challenge: Potting and Painting Plants

This blog post is part of a new series called “A Tangible Challenge” where each month I take one in-person class related to something I know nothing about. The goal is to step outside my comfort zone and create something new. I am so excited to share this month’s endeavor: plants & paints. (Read January’s adventure in pottery here.)


In full disclosure, when the day came to step into February’s “tangible challenge” I wasn’t really feeling it. I had a lot on my mind and my plate and the class I’d happily booked with my roommate a few weeks ago in a neighborhood an hour and a half away wasn’t feeling as exciting day of. Nevertheless, we packed our paperbacks and got comfortable on the A train. Next stop, Brooklyn. 


A short walk from the Utica Avenue station, at 115 Ralph Ave in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one stumbles into Adanne Bookshop. Per their website, the bookshop is “committed to providing an inclusive and accessible space for readers to discover, explore, and appreciate books written by authors of color. Adanne Bookshop strives to be a vibrant and welcoming hub of knowledge, creativity, and understanding in our community. Through our carefully curated selection of books, we hope to inspire and empower readers to broaden their perspectives and foster meaningful conversations.”


Inside, we were warmly welcomed by Darlene Okpo, bookshop owner and our guide for the afternoon. The class—which I’d originally found from a random Google search—was all about plants and Darlene is absolutely an expert on plants. She walked us through plant care, helped us pick out a plant baby to take home, and then set us up to paint the ceramic we’d repot the plant in at the end of the session.


Darlene said that the classes range in size but she preferred a group like we had on Sunday, just four folks sitting around a table making easy conversation… at first, that is. Once the paint brushes were in hand, we all fell into a quiet meditative state. With light music playing in the background and incense floating through the air, we took our time painting out plant pots. Relaxing is an understatement.


When we were done, she showed us how to repot our plants and gave us instructions for care—each of us leaving with a different plant type (mine’s a radiator plant)! While I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a plant person, there was something really cool about feeling the soil and gently packaging my new friend to come home. It sounds a little silly, perhaps, but I feel proud of my tiny plant and responsible for loving them healthy and well.


The opportunity to sit in good company in a peaceful environment and engage with something beautiful was absolutely the reset I needed on my Sunday afternoon. I sincerely cannot recommend this enough. 


I cradled my plant the whole train ride home and, thanks to my “never leave home without a book” rule, I barely even noticed the long trip. Another reminder that sometimes, going somewhere new—even if it’s far—is absolutely worth it.




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