“Where language meets the earth, there is the holy, there is the sacred.”
N Scott Momaday
My name is Joel Johnson, and as a practicing writer and agroecologist, the sacred space that Momaday mentions is my calling and passion. Every place has a story to tell. When shared well, these stories ground our ideas and actions and lead us to promote the flourishing of all forms of life on earth.
It wasn’t until I left my home in Tucson, Arizona that I began to ask questions about where I came from and what defines a homeland. These questions continue to guide my ongoing journey towards nativity.
The petroglyphs above are inscribed on a rock on Tumamoc Hill, a familiar landmark on the horizon of my childhood, and unbeknownst to me, the location of 4,000 years of continuously cultivated agricultural space, the oldest in North America.
As I have wrestled with the concepts of place, belonging, and identity, the language depicted on this earth, and the tradition of connectivity it reveals, has become part of my story. This is the heritage of my place, and it challenges me to participate in a tradition of stewardship that transcends spatial and political boundaries.
I graduated from Messiah College in central Pennsylvania, where my commitment to place-based narrative led me to study both English and Sustainability Studies, with concentrations in Writing and Sustainable Agriculture. I graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors in English and was awarded the Donald and Anna Zook Alumni Merit Award for my undergraduate work.
Recent Work Experience
Ghostwriter and Editor
Eco Research, Oakland, CA
- Provided copy and content editing, focusing on improving the language and flow of Sustainability Team book manuscript prior to publication.
- Gathered and synthesized the most recent research supporting sustainable business practices.
- Increased online engagement by drafting a series of blog posts to drive pre-publication marketing.
Trades and Agriculture Interpreter
Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, Tacoma, WA
- Designed the 2018 agricultural calendar, including garden and crop rotations, and care for heritage fruit orchard.
- Researched and led educational demonstrations and trainings on heritage farm practices for museum staff and public.
- Cultivated fields, aided in construction of a period smokehouse, sowed, threshed, and winnowed grain, planted, harvested, and preserved heirloom crops and seeds.
The Center for Public Humanities, Mechanicsburg, PA
- Provided oversight to all public writing, including websites, blog posts, and museum installations.
- Conducted independent research on the tribal and ecological history of the Susquehanna River.
- Designed and implemented environmental education curriculum at Poetry in Place events for inner city Harrisburg school.