Some families we are born into, others we choose. For many, the chosen kinship groups are as important as, if not more than, our actual blood relations. We seek out and form community, living together, sharing resources, creating and resisting. Our chosen families form another type of ancestry. Near my house, under the boughs of a weeping cherry tree, lie the ashes of such an ancestor, Samantha Jane Dorsett.
Celebrate People’s History
Samantha Jane Dorsett
Beautiful and courageous—transwoman, artist, writer, lady detective, anarchist, punk, sweet animal friend, tireless fighter for peace and justice, dancer, lover, chess player, secret sailor, feminist, soup chef, queer, lover of rabbits, queenie, puppeteer, beloved friend and ally, math whiz, radical, passionate, so much more.
Samantha left us in June of 2009, but her life and work continue to reverberate; generations who never met her know her influence, through the stories, songs and art she left behind, as well as that of the people who have memorialized her in their own work. This year, our apprentices helped create a memorial garden for Samantha around the tree that grows from her ashes. Two of them already knew her story and her legacy. We gathered herbs from around the land to honor her: angelica and yarrow for protection, rose for opening the heart and soothing the pain of grief, mugwort for those who live between worlds and red clover to attract her beloved rabbits. Now and in the spring, I’ll plant bulbs and seeds, carrying on the tradition of the grandmother I never met. Each time I weed or water, each time I contemplate the beauty of the flowers, from the early pink blossoms of the cherry to the deep hues of the gladiolas in late summer, I will honor both their memories.