— by Mellany Armstrong, Associate Director of Communications

You may have to step lightly when visiting Davinica Nemtzow ’15 at home. Aloe vera, white bird of paradise, rubber plants, cactuses and spiderworts in colorful pots take up floor space and are perched on small tables.

“Plants are my happy place,” she said. “I’m currently cultivating shitake mushrooms in my bedroom. I have to mist them three times a day.” She describes herself as an avid urban gardener, botanical artist and environmental advocate.

Nemtzow, who has a degree in Illustration from Moore, has combined her love of plants and art to create Planted Philly, a community project/business that she founded with Kirsti Streahle, a University of the Arts photography grad.

“I was part of a group called Philly Plant Exchange, which is made up of a few thousand people in Philly that talk about plants, sell plants and trade plants,” she said. “I realized that so many artists do botanical themed work, myself included. I put the call out there to see if people would be interested in doing a plant-themed art market.”

The first Planted Pop-Up happened in April, and included a plant swap, plant-based food, and an environmental art market featuring 21 artists.

“We hope in the future to grow it into a brick and mortar space that connects environmental artists and community,” she said.

NO 9 TO 5

Planted Philly is just one of Nemtzow’s many passions. She is the LGBTQIA coordinator for a Jewish nonprofit called Tribe 12, where she plans events for queer Jewish people in their 20s and 30s; she works for the classical music startup Groupmuse, which connects musicians to local audiences through chamber music house parties; she is a graphic designer for the New York Jewish nonprofit Avodah, and also does freelance graphic design work; and she makes botanical artwork and sells it at events.

“Oh, and I teach meditation,” she adds, laughing. “People find it so funny when they know me and then find out that I teach meditation. They say, ‘Aren’t meditation teachers supposed to be chill?’ I am, just in very concentrated amounts of time.”

Even while at Moore, Nemtzow lived life at light speed. She was a Visionary Woman Honors Program scholar, and served as a resident assistant, was involved in student leadership, and worked in the Admissions office. She also attended Moore’s board meetings.

“I didn’t realize until after I graduated that it wasn’t a normal experience for a student to get to sit in on board meetings and get to have my voice shared with the president and the board,” she said. “I’m definitely grateful for a lot of those opportunities.”

Nemtzow worked as a graphic designer after graduating, but discovered she didn’t like a standard 9 to 5 job.

“I really missed contributing to social justice work and community and following more values-driven work,” she said. She founded a nonprofit two and a half years ago called Creating United Empowerment (CUE), a charitable online art gallery that represented women and gender-queer artists, which donated its profits to support vulnerable women. She’s now transitioning out of that organization to focus on Planted Philly.

This go-getter, who started three businesses before the age of 26, believes her newest venture is more than just a one-off.

“We really want to be a community and we want to really engage people that care about representing the earth and showing up for sustainable justice in their art,” she said. “We’re hoping the future of this project is a botanical and plant-adjacent artist collective.”

The next Planted Pop-Up event is happening August 4, 10 am to 3 pm, at 1129 Callowhill Street in a lot next to the Rail Park.