Kadedra Holmes always felt a pull to nature.
The outdoor world never seemed like a diverse or inviting spaces to her, however, so she carved out her own community.
In October 2019, Holmes started Black Nomads Meet to help Black people explore nomadic living options and make room for one another to meet and build community.
Her own nomadic journey began after the twenty-eight-year old Virginian graduated college.
Despite landing a job at a prominent non-profit, she wanted to find a way to have more control over her financial freedom and time, fearing she might get wrapped up in the monotonous patterns of “working to live or living to work,” otherwise.
So, she gave up her job, apartment and car to live in a 1988 G-Wagon, which she’s been living in, on and off, for three years now.
Now, she’s working hard to make other people realize her lifestyle could be accessible to them, and beneficial for the environment in the process.
“We’re encouraging Black people who may not have been exposed to van life or those who have only been exposed to it on platforms full of white people with money,” Holmes told Currently.
Holmes said that contrary to the narratives that mainstream media perpetuate, nomadic living is not a new concept to the Black community.
“It’s important to acknowledge that Black people have been doing this for decades.”
“We’re tapping into something that’s deep within our innate nature,” Holmes said. “Hiking, swimming, camping — we have an attraction to the outdoors, we’ve just been systematically bullied out of the space,” she said.
Climate change, and the environmental racism that stems from it, has reinforced this severed relationship between Black people and their native environment, according to Holmes.
“A lot of our Black communities are the first ones to experience the effects of climate change. Though we are Black nomads and we love to travel, a lot of our families can attest to being the victims of climate change, whether it’s our cities — which are mostly on the coasts — experiencing rising waters or air and water pollution, the climate is changing.”
So far, Holmes has organized several meetups — beach weekends, campouts, hammock hangs — at Black-owned spaces. They quickly became opportunities for community-building and resource sharing, on everything from homeschooling children to ways to minimize your carbon footprint while on the road.
Events also tend to be full of healing meditations, art, live music, sound baths, and even comedy shows. Holmes also hosts free online vegan seminars for people to learn about reducing food waste, plant-based eating and farm-grown produce.
“I’m not here to police the nomadic experience, I just want to provide a healing space for the Black psyche, since nomad life acts as a reminder to something that brings us mental, spiritual, and physical health.”
Her hope is that, by awakening more people to this eco-friendly lifestyle, deep relationships could be formed — with oneself, with others and the environment.
“Living in my van evolved into having a better relationship with myself and my environment,” Holmes said. “I wanted to be more eco-friendly and save my money, time and energy.”
Her journey first began by taking stock of how much water and electricity she was using in her house already.
After becoming more aware of her waste patterns, and the potential areas where she could reduce her carbon footprint, she began to make adjustments.
Now, the water she consumes comes from the 12 gallons of natural water she collects while on the road, and she’s opted for a rechargeable car battery that gives her around seven hours of energy. She’s figured out ways to not only maintain, but stretch the limited amount of resources she has, despite downsizing her life.
“These new avenues have opened up ways to be more congruent with who I am,” Holmes said.
“A lot of spiritual development occurred when I started van life — now that all of my resources are finite, I have discovered better uses for them and am actually asking myself questions about how much I truly need.”
Holmes describes van life as a “beautiful chaos,” with no two days ever looking the same.
She says there’s a poetry to it, which she tries to take advantage of through accessing her available energy and doing things like chasing the sunrise.
“There’s no light switch to flip on and off,” she laughs.
Her days consist of charging her laptop at local coffee shops, working for a few hours everyday using a mobile hotspot. Then, she’ll spend the rest of the day outside and when it starts getting dark, she prepares something to eat with her propane stove. Then, she sleeps when the sun goes down.
“I’m tapping into my circadian rhythm,” Holmes said. “It’s added so much order to my life.”
Though Holmes has found control through nomadic living, she does have to move with the weather — her location is almost entirely dependent on the environment. When it’s warm, she moves South. When it’s cold, she goes North.
“[Nomadic living] does reinforce a submissive relationship to nature,” Holmes said. “We really are having to check the weather and migrate accordingly.”
Holmes explained that, although Black Nomads Meet members love to travel, they still prioritize having grounding conversations about climate change — how it’s affecting their neighborhoods, and the part that they play through their own consumption patterns.
“Even though we’re about Black people entering the nomadic space, [Black Nomads Meet] has been a catalyst to bigger conversations about the role that Black people play in larger issues, especially when it comes to our climate,” she said.
“We all have a story to tell and the Black travel experience is just one of many revolutionaries that we’re doing.”
And it all started with a van.