Member Spotlight: Valentine Cadieux

Name: (Kirsten) Valentine Cadieux (she/her)

Dharma name: conferred by Sosan in 2017: Seihō

Occupation (This doesn’t have to be a job! Answer this as you wish – cloud dwellers welcome):

I’m an artist and educator. I teach about environment, climate, and community food and land relationships at Hamline (and also through the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the U of M), and am a learning coordinator for the Twin Cities Community Agricultural Land Trust and Minnesota Commons Land project. Especially after working in the Twin Cities for fifteen years in these roles, I am really appreciating the way that community and institutional learning are woven together here, and I cherish the possibilities for further land-based, repair-oriented learning I see continuing to blossom here. 

How did you discover Clouds?

Artists Marcus Young and Molly Balcom Raleigh organized an Oryoki workshop at Clouds back in the old space during the time when I was a resident in the Public Art Saint Paul City Arts Collaboratory, a group of scientists and artists collaboratively working around and learning with the Mississippi River. As a long-time meditator, I felt so welcomed — and especially as I got to know community elders like Ken Ford who had sustained long and generous careers in my field of community infrastructure building, I found myself returning to Clouds to learn more.

If your life was the title of a book or movie, what would it be called?

Singing with the dead: Soil doulas, kitchen ecologies, joyful mending

Why do you practice?

Because the amount of repair work I feel called to exceeds my self-regulation capacities without regular practice.

What excites you?

Colors and shapes

Where are some places you feel at home in the Twin Cities?

Between any two trees, and in just about every community food cultivation project

If you had to recommend one dharma book, what would it be? 

Roshi Joan Halifax’s Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet (I’m teaching it for the third time this winter, and I learn so much every time.)

Anything on your bucket list?

Because of COVID, I had to put down a project I was starting with colleagues from Aotearoa New Zealand, to learn more about the origins of the development of legal arguments for personhood for land (such as granted the Whanganui River and Te Urewera National Park) in Indigenous conversations between there and Minnesota. Many of the elders involved have now passed, but I would love to see that story more broadly understood and adopted in relation to as much land as we can undo from property relations.

What are you listening to right now?

Mahler’s First Symphony and two audiobooks (having just finished The Seed Keeper, yet again): The Ministry for the Future, and Becoming Kin: An Indigenous Call to Unforgetting the Past and Reimagining Our Future.

Do you have any favorite words of inspiration – a quote, song lyric, poem, or something else that supports you? 

The question at the heart of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, about understanding the land as loving us, not just us loving the land, has been inspiring a lot of reflection for me for the past few years.

Summer or winter?

SUMMER, and spring and fall. 

Tea or coffee?

Very decaf tea! 

Evening with a book or a night on the town?

Although I love live music and theater, the last few years have also helped me reclaim how important a night in is for me, writing and drawing and painting. 

What or who is nourishing you most right now?

I’m so immensely grateful for the community of *connectors* and *navigators* in this region, who are working to connect BIPOC farmers, particularly, with the programs that have not previously served them well, and to rebuild these programs more equitably. It’s such a loving and caring network who really understand and practice reciprocity.

What are you most looking forward to at Clouds in 2023?

The garden crew, and figuring out possible threads weaving between those agricultural and land-based learning spaces and our Clouds practices, which have so much to offer communities embedded in care and repair ecologies.

Any Twin Cities community organizations or efforts you’d like to highlight?

The Twin Cities Community Agricultural Land Trust! We work with the Urban Farm and Garden Alliance right here in Rondo, most of the time, and we’re a network trying to build infrastructure for growing community food into all parts of the Cities, and, in parallel, to build Commons lands for community food across the state and region. We’re all about repairing relationship with land (especially with folx who’ve been dispossessed and displaced from land relationships) and supporting community food, and would love more Clouds members involved:

Anything else you’d like to add to help us get to know you better?

I’m metagrateful today: grateful for the opportunity to share my gratitude for the Clouds community. I treasure the opportunity this community has offered me to be a wallflower and a quiet holder of space here. As someone often asked to lead, it has been such a gift to have one space where I can be quietly alongside, and it has massively expanded my understanding of ways of practicing “adequacy” in the domain of showing up.

Valentine Cadieux is the Director of Environmental Studies and Director of Sustainability at Hamline University. Professor Cadieux received her PhD and MA in Geography from the University of Toronto after completing an AB in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges. She studies collaborative knowledge practices related to food, agriculture, and land in the context of settler society cultures in Canada, the United States, and Aotearoa New Zealand. She is currently working on the FoodShed, a collaborative online workshop and field guide to food movement efforts, and an accompanying podcast called Eating Together – find more at!

Clouds in Water Zen Center is a vibrant urban community in the heart of Saint Paul, Minnesota. We practice in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition, dedicated to awakening the heart of great wisdom and compassion. We welcome people of all backgrounds and faiths.

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