North Texas Daily

Root + Soil digs deep into female friendships

Root + Soil digs deep into female friendships

Root + Soil digs deep into female friendships
February 06
10:16 2019

For many college women, having safe spaces for open conversation are often scarce. Hoping to change that, a group of UNT students started Root + Soil last fall.

The all-female group aims to celebrate the beauty of friendship through empowerment and compassion for themselves and each other. Root + Soil meetings are held twice a month, offering participants a space to discuss different social issues and life in general. Meetings are led by five “cultivators” and new members are always welcomed.

Founder of Root + Soil, senior communication studies major Frida Berriochoa lounges in a Forum at Denton Station student apartment. Image by: Trevon McWilliams. 

Communication studies senior Frida Garcia Berriochoa said she founded Root + Soil after realizing she was not getting enough out of her time in college.

“It’s something I wish I had as a freshman, to be a part of a community of women that were going through similar things and experiencing the same feelings,” Berriochoa said. “It was something I felt needed to be a part of the college culture. A place to be vulnerable is really necessary.”

Fiona Kraft, a marketing junior and Berriochoa’s freshman-year roommate, is a current Root + Soil cultivator. Both Kraft and Berriochoa said they were frustrated by the lack of opportunities they had to discuss how they felt about themselves and the world around them.

“It matters if you don’t have people to talk about certain things [with],” Kraft said. “You can bottle it up but it’s important to let it out and hear people’s input. I thought it was important to create a new type of community for women where everyone feels comfortable opening up about anything.”

While an increasing amount of support for feminism and female empowerment has taken over mainstream media, Berriochoa said an established, nurturing environment was still absent at UNT before Root + Soil.

“I really like big organizations like Hello Sunshine that basically do the same thing [as Root + Soil] but are founded by people like Reese Witherspoon — women with a lot of influence who inspire me,” Berriochoa said. “At the same time, it’s the women in and outside of my community that make me want to keep doing this.”

During every meeting, Berriochoa, Kraft and the other three cultivators present new topics for members to reflect on. Some of the themes they have focused on this year are new beginnings and vulnerability. Most of the group discussions start with one member talking about their own experiences and then opening up the dialogue for new perspectives. Berriochoa said the goal is to make usually taboo conversations feel more comfortable and make it possible for girls to discuss issues without judgment.

“The high levels of interest and curiosity of other women has really inspired me,” Berriochoa said. “[It has] made me realize this was something other women, aside from Fiona and I, really needed.”

Camille Uzee, Root + Soil member and interior design sophomore, said it was hard making connections with students whom she passed by during her day-to-day life on campus. Uzee recently joined Root + Soil for its first meeting of the year in early January.

“I decided to join on a whim,” Uzee said. “I found [the group] on social media through one of the cultivators. It just seemed like a really supportive group of people. I felt they had open arms and were willing to bring me in and accept me.”

Root + Soil is not religiously or politically affiliated in any way and is open to anyone willing to discuss issues through varying perspectives. The organization’s next event is their Valentine’s Movie Night, which is meant to remind women of their unique individuality.

“Loving ourselves is a big part of what Root + Soil is,” Berriochoa said. “If you love yourself, you can love the women and people around you. It’s important to be a part of things like this [event] to encourage females because it doesn’t happen often.”

Featured Image: Root + Soil, an on-campus organization meant to uplift and cultivate women from all backgrounds, was founded by communication studies senior Frida Berriochoa. From left to right, Root + Soil member Camille Uzee, founder and cultivator Frida Berriochoa and cultivator Fiona Kraft cuddle up together in Berriochoa’s apartment. Image by: Trevon McWilliams. 

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Katelyn Manfre

Katelyn Manfre

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