Tending to Place: Communities, lands, histories in Memphis, Northern Minnesota, Chilean Patagonia, and Northern New Mexico

Plan Author

  • Matthew McIntosh, 2017

Fields of Concentration

Sample Courses

  • Course: Writing Political Theory
  • Course: The Genealogy of Race
  • Tutorial: Language, Perception, and the Body in a More-Than-Human World
  • Tutorial: The Radical Center

Project Description

Tending the history of Clayborn Temple in Memphis, Tennessee.

Faculty Sponsors

Outside Evaluator

  • Wesley Martin, Keene State College


This Plan is composed of four essays exploring place, history, and community in Memphis, northern Minnesota, and northern New Mexico. “Tending to Clayborn Temple” is about a historic church in downtown Memphis that was purchased and renovated for the use of a multi-ethnic and multi-class congregation trying to “reconcile Memphians to Jesus and each other.” “Cultivating an Alternative Civic Self” documents the work of a Memphis civic group to make the public aware of, and establish a marker at the site of, a historic lynching. “Campos y Querencia” discusses crossing moral boundaries in Patagonia and New Mexico, in search of a just environmentalism. “A Place Good for Growing” relates Matt’s experience as a Menogyn wilderness leader for teens in northern Minnesota.


The importance of a diverse house of worship in downtown Memphis cannot be understated. As Downtown Church continues the renovation process, they are unavoidably responsible for the renovation of more than just the physical structure. They are also making decisions about how to renovate Memphis’s history. It is a history with the power to disrupt an important narrative in Memphis. In order to renovate this history responsibly, they must encourage and support diverse concepts of justice in the Temple, rather than monopolizing it for their own beliefs.

Adam was in his late twenties, a multimedia journalist and passionate conservationist. He had worked and travelled in South America for the past few years, assisting in numerous projects to protect various tracts of land. We frustrated each other somewhat regularly, as I, along with my friend Robin, raised concerns about the eco-colonialism we saw in the region. Adam, along with nearly everyone else in the program, justified trampling on the ranching culture, economy, and local autonomy by reminding us incessantly that we were rapidly losing biodiversity around the globe. I was, of course, sympathetic to the loss of life and species, but it seems that conservationists were asking rural, often indigenous communities to add nearly impossible standards of ecological purity to the growing strains of global markets and tourism.


My Plan was inspired by my love of places and the communities that are rooted in them. It is my attempt to write a love letter to some places that have shaped, challenged, and nurtured me throughout my life. I found the personal narrative about working with kids outside and Clayborn Temple sections the most interesting. In the future I hope to catalyze communities to see their physical place as unique, powerful, important, and connected to everywhere else.