Dear future one, carrier of a lineage that I currently feed deep courage and love into protecting and healing,
I write to you in a grave moment in human history. Our people have transgressed an embarrassing amount: So much destruction to life and human dignity everywhere.
And yet. chaos and destruction always lead to richer soil and new life,
and the consciousness that is evolving in this moment, dear descendant, is unlike any stream of light this world has ever known—
in response to a darkness unlike this world has ever known.
I pray that you read this letter in a beautiful meadow, surrounded by wildflowers, a Shire your great grandfather always dreamed of, sipping on a cup of freshly picked mint tea, in the way of your Moroccan ancestors, grown in a soil, tended in balance, in reverence.
I hope that salmon have found their way home, and people have found belonging in their bodies and the land they inhabit; returning to a right relationship, resembling the sweet communion between a flower and a honeybee.
Oceans are no longer filled with plastic; concepts of economic growth and consumerism and other anthropocentric bullshit are no longer relevant.
You live, dear one, as part of a village of initiated elders, and they guide your listening to the depths of the inner soul’s chambers And, of course, the greater soul all around you. The trauma I carry in my body, inherited from so many of your ancestors, no longer finds home in your liberated body.
Every day for you, I pray, is another magical dance between all the elements, and you my dear, acknowledge the magic your ancestors and their allied kin had to create to throw the corrupted ring of capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy, into the a lava strong enough to dissolve even the subtleties, so those too no longer live in your body.
My prayer is no matter what the reality may be you carry the resilience and permission to safeguard the bold dream seeded in your heart.
Audio version of biography
Ophir Haberer (32) is a Jerusalem-born consultant, community builder, event organizer, facilitator of retreats & mens’ work, a culinary storyteller & (w)holistic chef, developing Esalen massage practitioner, and a Earth-based Judaism and rites-of-passage educator. He has been working with Shalom Bayit, the Bay Area Jewish center for domestic abuse, Moishe House, and Wilderness Torah, center for Earth-based Judaism. He is currently publishing The Essence Underneath, his debut as a poet, published author & illustrator. He lives in California as part of Canticle Farm, a multi- racial, multi-generational restorative justice intentional community in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, where he also enjoys gardening and homesteading projects. Beforehand, he has lived, studied, or worked in various communities in the USA and abroad.
He grew up in both St. Louis, Missouri and Kibbutz Tzora, a socialist farming community, in Israel. His grandparents come from Morocco and South Africa.
I’m writing from a time when racial, ethnic, and cultural identities serve as blueprints for finding an immediate sense of community in this world: how to exist within a group “we.” These blueprints are drawn from largely monoracial understandings, a colonial lens of assumed mutual exclusivity and separateness. As someone whose ethnic identity stretches across groups in East Asia, Polynesia, and beyond, I find myself perpetually placed in borderlands. My existence is relegated to the liminal spaces where these discrete group identities meet. The multiplicity of my body troubles conceptual community boundaries.
My being feels noisy, my identity: unintegrated, an amalgam I am only allowed to understand through discrete parts.
My physicality feels split between designated entities, Not existing as a distinct entity in and of itself.
Seeing my(?) body and my(?) being unsettle + destabilize cultural categorizations, assignments, and structures births a self-image of paradox and ambiguity.
My location spills into an undefined void in cultural space, neither here nor there; I am too similar to “the other” for each community’s comfort. I am received at once as “not enough” and also “too much.”
The paradox I carry disrupts, cannot-be-contained, mathematically troublesome Can a sum somehow render its parts invalid? Sum < parts Sum = none of its parts? My mixed-ness seems to trouble, disrupt, disconcert Clear, knowable categories drawn by social consensus To some, perhaps my body is a reminder of rapid globalization Or of historic, current, Tragedy evoking real sensations of loss–past, present, impending
I experience rejection/alienation from the same communities my parents and grandparents were born into; I name this simply to note it as a confusing or strange disorientation, and not as a claim that this should not be the case. While racial, ethnic, and cultural identity are such vital points of connection and found community for so many, I wonder how this sense of belonging transforms to hold those of us who exist “in between,” currently unclaimed and without a tangible cohort.
Audio read by author
Your body exists in grounded wholeness; you rest in multiplicity, both in space and time. Turn towards the permeability and dynamism of the group boundaries you speak of. Where your categories of community are troubled, we stretch and shift, reimagining and queering racial-ethnic identity. The social landscape you speak of is not fully mapped.
These social constructs of identity are not as clearly defined and concrete as you believe them to be; they were never static. We create a world that nourishes the both/and: words that happen to be, in and of themselves, of connection. This expansive and embodied sense of belonging and community holds, with care, those of “multiple” experience.
There is something transformative, mystical, and beautiful about that which is regarded as indeterminate; it triggers expansion. Rather than your body being stretched between entities, your body fills cultural spaces in 2020 that are yet to be mapped. And, they will be(!) Recognize and cultivate trust in this unfolding process.
What does this cultural space feel like? Your body evades and obscures social dissections not due to brokenness. Your body is connected to and located in identity constructions that embrace multiplicity, duality, and manifold boundaries of the self. Your body knows its location and is simply now creating the language that would make its location recognizable to others.
There are other ways for you to commune with your self, to feel into these intimately known and yet unmapped spaces.
We are with you in this space and we hear you.
Audio version of biography
Ren Koa (23) is a multiracial lesbian who grew up in Hawai’i. She is a community organizer, researcher, and psychology student interested in the psychophysiology of trauma and resilience. Some of her favorite adventures include the summer she backpacked the Arctic Circle, the winter she studied theology in India, and the summer she served in the Hawai’i Youth Conservation Corps. She is also a member of the fifth Earth Leadership Cohort.
Image: a photo of smudged, yellowed typewritten page of the preamble. Transcription below.
i won’t lie and say that there aren’t moments in which i believe myself to be writing to nothing more than the memory of what could have been—
moments in which i lose my faith in a world that has been my kind of kind enough to give you the space you need to grow;
you have merged in my imagination with a world beyond conception—
you have become so much more than i could ever possibly hope to articulate.
you are my miracle. you are my promised land, and this poem is my tambourine.
in good faith, hannah arin (she/her)
Image: a photo of a smudged, yellowed typewritten page of the poem. Transcription below.
don’t forget your tambourine
my rabbi asks about the medicine found in the story of pesach—
about a hope long lost and a sea that split—
about miriam and how she thought to bring her tambourine w her even as she fled for her life, all so she might sing out, whenever, however, freedom finally arrived.
and i begin to wonder about how on earth we’re going to get out of the mess we find ourselves in today, though, i could ask the same about how we got here in the first place,
or about how the sea came to split—
and this is something of a comfort, for i could answer each of these questions just the same— just like my ancestors before me—i do not know—
though i do know that somehow people have found freedom, and that they have found it again and again each time the odds have all been stacked against them,
and now, standing beside my ancestors, with a vast sea before us, and those who have enslaved us not far behind, and the promised land on the other side of it all,
i suspect that it could be here, yes, precisely in my unknowing hopelessness, that i have stumbled upon the very birthplace of miracles.
Audio version of biography
Hannah Arin (she/her, 23) was raised on Hualapai/Southern Paiute land in the suburbs of Las Vegas, Nevada; though her love for ice hockey eventually brought her to boarding school on Mohican Land in Lakeville, Connecticut, where, by her sophomore year, she would wind up quitting the hockey team to pursue an independent study in poetry and spend her free time exploring the woods. After around five years away from Lakeville, Hannah has returned to the area to work and live at High Spirit Community Farm, a residential community where adults with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers live together, farm, and pursue their various passions. She is passionate about poetry, Judaism, story-telling, playing games (including recreational ice hockey), making things with her hands, and learning about plants and constellations, all in the hopes of building a more just and beautiful world—G-d willing, the world our descendants will inhabit.
Image: A page of ruled paper with handwritten text
I am diving into this for you children, grandchildren, siblings, and niblings. My queer beloves; those who most likely will not know me or read this until long after I am gone.This morning I woke up to the news that another trans woman has been violently murdered. The sun is just beginning to rise. I rub my eyes and stretch really big, reaching for a sip of water and the little container that my hormones are in. I sit up and stretch again to another morning beginning in grief.
8 trans people have been murdered in the last 7 days, a majority being black trans women. My heart breaks, and I cry, then get up to wash my face and get a cup of coffee in me. I scroll through social media and see the covid death rates rising. I make note that the supreme court has been busy, meaning more people will probably die because of it.
Image: a spiral bound notebook open showing part of two pages with handwriting. Above is a square card with horizontal blue, pink , and white stripes and large uppercase letters ACAB.
In the same news feed I see more uprisings happening. Another police car captured and burned. It is said that Minneapolis is disbanding their police department. I am witness to a movement moving. I am inspired. So many youth and babies in the streets right now learning and growing. It all makes me smile, thinking of the long nights and tear gas soaked possibilities that come with it.
My abolitionist daydreams are interrupted by the phone ringing. It’s a beloved friend, I answer and we cry together for a bit, knowing that we are grieving on the edge of a revolution.
So dearest ones I hope these words, and this diary finds you well – thriving, in a different world than the one I am writing from. And if not, I hope these words serve as battleground to keep fighting.
Sincerely yours in solidarity forever,
A trans girl from another time,
tee <3 07/08/2020
Audio version of biography
tee audree is a 24 year old queer womxn of trans experience, a writer, abolishionist, and pipeline fighter.
Future beings have been visiting me in my dreams. Each night as I sleep, I find myself traveling to a campfire, a spot in a forest with the same soft mossy ground and smell of pine in the air as the woods I have loved and visited since I was a child. In this forest, there is a place for me by the fire where I can sit in the night as people have for all of human existence, to talk with this group of future beings about our lives and the world.
My sense of their world is warm and blurry, as the places we travel to in our sleep tend to be when we wake, but I remember this: they tell me that the world they live in is my own world, one hundred and forty years from now. They tell me that their numbers are small, their world much less populated than my own, and that they live in communities of reciprocity and balance with Earth. As I meet these people and hear their stories, I rest easy in their answer to a question that I have spent my life asking: Will humanity survive this time of great destruction and separation? Or will we drive ourselves to extinction? They assure me. We have made it. We are still busy with the work of healing ourselves and our land from generations of destruction, but we have made it. Our non human sisters and brothers are healing too, and it is beautiful here.
Last night, as we sat together again around the glowing, warm fire, I shared the deepest fears that I live with in my own life: That I may be among the last human beings to experience the stunning beauty of planet Earth. That I am too small and weak to transform our world from the racism, inequality, and ecological destruction that I inherited. That we are destined to destroy each other and the world around us, and I am powerless to change any of it.
As I poured out my fears, they listened lovingly, and a child spoke from her spot on the ground between her mother’s feet and said “Your world is so scary and uncertain! We are here now, but in your time, you don’t know that we will be. How do you keep going? You say it seems impossible at times… how do you keep from giving up?”
As I answered, my own inner voice of wisdom, imbued with the wisdom of my ancestors, came through, clear like a mindfulness bell:
We act out the selfishness that is bred of fear that there will not be enough, and the hatred of others that is born of not knowing that we are enough.
In my time, we live amid so much destruction. The earth is warming rapidly and unpredictably bringing on rising seas and storms that are destroying our beloved homes. Our waters are poisoned and many are dying of disease and starvation while others live in opulence and ignorance of those who suffer. Two people in the same city can be living two distinctly different lives: one of oppression and poverty and the other of freedom and wealth. Our people are so divided from one another that coming together often feels impossible. We watch ourselves and others and especially those in power act in ways that seem unfathomable. We act out the selfishness that is bred of fear that there will not be enough, and the hatred of others that is born of not knowing that we are enough. Our culture has forgotten how to live in the abundant and ancient flow of life, and our short-sighted actions reflect that disconnection.
Our culture normalizes this dominance and selfishness, and we are told that this way of being is as natural as the ocean tides. Many of us, however, know that this can not be true and that there is another way we desire to live. To create this other way, we are beginning to reimagine our culture’s ways of seeing ourselves. We are imagining a world where humans live in reciprocity with Earth and where everyone’s needs are met, with no one left out. We are piecing together this vision with memories and knowledge from the precious few of us that still remember how to live this way, as our ancestors did. We are falling deeply in love with this vision, and sharing it bravely, tending to it like a seed, small and precious, that will someday multiply into a great harvest.
We call our journey into this new way of being “The Great Turning”. Many who hear that this Great Turning is underway find inspiration in it, while others question whether it is truly possible. Cynics call us dreamers, naive and even dangerous terrorists.
The tentacles of the culture of dominance are wrapped around everything and seem to thwart our efforts at every turn. We are cultivating a new culture of collaboration and trust that is taking root, but the work is tireless and the dominance culture is fiercely defended by doubters and cynics. Sometimes our task leaves us so heartbroken and wounded that we start to believe them, but we support one another to remain resilient in our mission to live the collaboration and trust we dream of now. Like farmers in slow motion, we are planting the seeds of this culture that we dream of and we are tending to them. We trust that they will grow, even though the great harvest will likely come long after we are gone.
We already have within us all of the brilliance, power and beauty needed to restore our world.
To tend to these seeds, we have to remember who we are. We have to remember ourselves despite what our culture tells us. We come from those who knew how to live in reciprocity with the earth. We already have within us all of the brilliance, power and beauty needed to restore our world. We are whole and complete, not broken as the dominance culture tells us. We deserve dignity and respect. Our yearning to make a difference in the world is good and right. We have to remember this, even when our own minds and the world around us tell us that it is not true. We are learning to remember this about ourselves and to help one another to remember it as well. This is our first step: to remember that we are the ones we have been waiting for all along. The ones who are planting the seeds of a beautiful, restored world.
The stories of the dominance culture are deeply rooted and powerful, so we have to be tough and imaginative to remember that the world we are building together does not only live in our imaginations, but it is growing more real every day. The economy of reciprocity and the culture of collaboration are slowly coming into being through us carrying it, piece by piece, from the world of our dreams into the physical world. Even while we are slowly and steadily succeeding at building new ways of living, people tell us that what we are doing is impossible. At the beginning of this Great Turning, it is hard work to remember that our lives are the very real foundation of a future world, your world, that we will never get to see.
…to be so in love with your world, which we dreamed up and are tending to, that even amid that disorienting cynicism we can chose to live in it ourselves.
You asked how we keep going, and the answer is that we have already chosen to live in your world even while it is being built. When we treat our vision for the world as a fantasy, we stay separate from it and we can also be tricked into believing that it is foolish of us to want it. To maintain our strength and carry on with the work of building and creating, it is imperative for us to cultivate a kind of mental toughness– to be so in love with your world, which we dreamed up and are tending to, that even amid that disorienting cynicism we can chose to live in it ourselves. We know that the Great Turning is not a fantasy. It’s not something that we are waiting for. It lives in us and it is occurring through us. We choose not to wait for a savior or a miracle…we choose to live in it now. We are the Great Turning, and in our minds, harvest time has already come.
Audio recording of biography
Jessica Serrante (32) is a Brooklyn based Life and Leadership Coach for builders of the Great Turning and Co-Founder of the Radical Support Collective. Her mission (and RSC’s) is to support changemakers to be nourished by their life and work rather than burning out and do work that truly lights them up. She is a climate activist, trainer and facilitator with a decade of experience leading and supporting activists. She is a professionally certified coach with over 600 hours of experience and a student and facilitator of the WTR.
This fall, Jess is offering a 3 month immersive program also called “We Are The Great Turning” that will blend the personalized support of group coaching with the regenerative practices of WTR to support you to embody the Great Turning in your own life and actions. Learn more atradicalsupport.org/greatturning Follow Jess + RSC @radicalsupportcollective +radicalsupport.org
i hope you live in a different, more accepting, kinder world than what i grew up in
are you still fighting and protesting like we did for people to realize that every single person, no matter their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, is worthy and matters?
has the world come to its senses and society has changed so everyone loves one another, hatred isn’t a daily occurrence, and politicians aren’t ignorant to what is happening in their own country?
is your environment beautiful and filled with blooming wildflowers, snow capped mountains and colorful sea life, without unbearably hot summers, snowless winters, and plastic-filled oceans?
do countries offer help instead of turning away and saying “it’s not our problem” to those who are suffering, whether it be from hunger, mental health, homelessness, or anything in between?
do beautiful young girls turn to social media and compare themselves to the models they see as they scroll through wishing they looked like that?
are anxiety and depression treated as jokes and tossed around in conversations without a thought as to who could be feeling like this because society undermines the severity of mental health?
has violence become the answer to the world’s questions or are politicians who actually want to make good changes running for president and holding office?
do you live in a world where racism lurks around the corner, homophobia is a part of everyday life, and sexism occurs in every interaction?
or has my generation successfully built the foundation for a better tomorrow?
because we’re trying, we’re trying to elect better officials, to prevent climate change, to spread love and not hate, to help others, but, most of all, we’re trying to change the world.
i want you to love the world you live in, and if you aren’t happy with it, fight for change, like we did.
Audio version of biography
Clare Collins (15) is an avid reader and writer with a passion for helping others and spreading important messages through poetry. She lives in Pennsylvania and enjoys playing sports, spending time outdoors, and being around animals. She hopes to one day raise her children in a more accepting and kind world than what she grew up in.
Image: A photograph of a large tree, with the sun shining through the branches, with an open, dry meadow in the background, under a blue sky.
The black oak tree beneath which this letter was written. Photo by Tyler Hess.
Post-pandemic, post-revolution Earth Abides, Sierra Miwok Territory, California
I’m writing to you from beneath a black oak tree, a second growth tree in these climate changing lands. It’s still not long in the sweep of time since those of European descent seized this land, ripped her of her gold, and named their county after the skulls of the people who have always been here.
I’ve been trying to make sense of how I’ve come to be here.
I’ve been trying to make sense of how I’ve come to be here. What I can tell you is a family story, one I heard from my great-aunt Mollie. It belongs to our ancestors — Mary and Agnes Bronson — two sisters who married two Buckley brothers in the late 1800s. The brothers’ uncle, William, rushed west, west for gold, deriving great wealth from the theft of land and life. He went on to direct the mining of San Juancito, Honduras from afar, ensconced in New York City, where the gold was taken to. He had no children, so our ancestors received a sizable inheritance. This money still exists in my family today.
there is love in our story, but a forgetfulness of what it is for: to commit oneself to place and people; to remember our belonging in the family of things.
You may know your ancestor, my daughter, was born here in this watershed – this still freshly ravaged mining country – near a gold mine shaft that runs 3000ft deep through the Mother Lode to the sea. It was not long before her birth that I came into my own monetary inheritance: that accumulated hoard of energy our people came to mistake for love. Don’t get me wrong, there is love in our story, but a forgetfulness of what it is for: to commit oneself to place and people; to remember our belonging in the family of things.
I’m writing to you as I want you to know of the decisions we are making now, and why, so that you might understand your place in the story. You may have bloodlines and ancestors of culture, of places not my own, but I write to you as one of solely European descent, a settler for thirteen generations now on Turtle Island. Not so long ago, in 2020, an uprising swept America — never forget this country was named for the love (ame) of riches (rica), and our ancestors were amongst its founders — and the truth of the racial violence that began and sustains this so-called nation was revealed more fully to those who previously weren’t willing to look and see. It gave me a chance, an opening, with our family, to begin the process of transmuting our legacy.
These are your inheritance, your family’s legacy.
The money that came down through our family, gathered by generations of bankers, lawyers, captains of ships and industry, has finally been returned to the people and lands from which it was taken. It is my prayer that you are still connected to the Black and Indigenous villages into which it flowed, that you are shaped by their leadership and that you still find ways to mutually support one another as the world heats and unravels. These villages are refugia of knowledge and wisdom, places where intergenerational trauma was able to be witnessed and healed, where children grew into elders that guided their people onwards. These are your inheritance, your family’s legacy.
Yet do not think the work is over, for I have heard your times are hard, and no doubt some of our unwell ancestors are not yet accounted for. In my lifetime I’ve been working to heal the ones that wrought the wrecking of this continent. Now in yours, you have the chance to go deeper: to harvest the gifts of our ancient European people. You may wrestle (notice “rest” in there) with the ghosts of our people who colonized Europe (like our direct ancestor — through my 13th-great-grandmother Helena Harcourt — the Roman Emperor Charlemagne, who set out to kill and replace the Earth worshipping people of old Europe).
I know you know about such things, for from you I have learned them in dreams.
I know you know about such things, for from you I have learned them in dreams. You future ones, in right relationship with one another and the land, are closer in generations to me than the wise ones who lived long ago. Learning is faster than unlearning, and you were born into a world that required it of you. My own process has been slow, so shaped and formed am I by the domination culture, the industrial growth society, still clinging to power in these times. So I write also to thank you for your teachings. Your knowledge of the birds’ language, your instinct for finding water, your insight into the most resilient seeds for flour, for bread baking – all have helped me greatly. I think you still have my sourdough starter – that is an inheritance too. Began in the pandemic of 2020, I kept it alive through many a Sierra Nevada summer and winter.
I leave you with a song that came to me, trusting you’ll be able to hear it…
Thank you Sierra Miwok (Abenaki/Ohlone/etc.) ancestors For your tending of this land Thank you for the water and trees Thank you for the spirits moving through me May I make you proud and free May I make you proud and free
With love, Morgan Hodgson Curtis (1991 – )
Audio version of biography
Guided by the call to transmute the legacy of her first settler ancestors, Morgan Curtis is dedicated to working with her fellow people with wealth, class and/or white privilege towards redistribution, atonement and reparations. Her work catalyzes the healing of relationship with self, other, family and the land, enabling the release of control so that money and power can move towards social, environmental and economic justice. Her first words of support from her ancestors for this work came through in a Work That Reconnects ritual in 2017. Morgan is a resident of Canticle Farm, an interracial, interfaith, intergenerational community in occupied Ohlone territory (known as Oakland, CA). You can learn more about her work at morganhcurtis.com.
Image: a black panel with white embroidered poetry reading “I’m scared that one year / the geese will stop flying north / and I won’t notice”. Underneath the text are three silhouettes of flying birds in blue and pink cut-out fabric. One bird is larger, two birds are smaller, flying from the left to the right of the panel.
Caption read by author
We didn’t know what was coming, but we could feel it somewhere.
Audio version of biography
Connor Gibson (25, they/he) is a mixed media artist and youth worker who feels most connected when playing in the realms of textiles, writing and book arts. They currently live as a settler on Ohlone land and trace their personal lineage to the Germanic States and British Isles. They are currently asking how their art and work might serve as tools in movements for justice of all forms. They also enjoy exploring the ways that psychotherapy and the arts blend into one another. Connor has apprenticed with beings ranging from artist Anne Greenwood (Portland, OR) to the plant-artist known as stinging nettle (Kent, UK). Yesterday, they found out that the loquat tree in their neighbor’s yard might be a partner in making pink natural dyes.
Image: An indigo rectangle. Strings of white words growing out of the right corner: an environment full of joy, artistic creativity, sacred sexuality, travelling adventures, spiritual growth, organic balance, Going on stage, Feeling alive, learning and teaching languages, music, reading, travel, Friendship ️, pause moments, cooking, meditate, admire the view, Connection, life of presence, Reading! Breathing, walking, nature, being, nothing. many things. presence, human bonding, beach, a labrador puppy, dancing, travelling, watching Netflix on a rainy day, Writing, strangers and filling out applications for things
Image: Emerald background, monocolour. Through the middle of of the rectangle, a purple line of words crosses from end to end in zigzag. The words change in shape. The text reads: exploring new ideas, Existence, Breathing, music, travels, love, learning and helping others, expansion and exploration, Freedom, to radiate love <3, Pole Dancing, Helping people
Image: Coral red rectangular background. From the left, bottom corner, a string of words grows out, in a serpent-like shape. The white words change in direction and size and read: Sunday morning cycling, fresh mountain air, day dreaming, funk, constant learning, self-discovery, music, dancing, Truth, silliness and love, #winning, Conversing with people who are fully honest and in touch with their true self, Dance, music, art, friends, Painting, Curly puppy hair. Warm tea. Creamy chocolate. Walking in the crisp morning woods.
Caption in English read by author
Joy as an elixir for (re)connection, aliveness, presence. Joy as a compass. These spirals are the fruits of a participatory art project that harvested responses to the question what brings you joy?
The question is still alive – and now it has found you, too. What brings you joy?
Caption in Spanish read by author
La alegría como elixir de (re)conexión, vitalidad, presencia. La alegría como brújula.
Estas espirales son el fruto de un proyecto de arte participativo para el que cosechamos respuestas a la pregunta ¿qué despierta tu alegría?
La pregunta sigue viva y ahora también te ha encontrado a ti. ¿A qué sabe tu alegría?
Audio version of biography
Laura Cincera likes dancing with questions, blurring boundaries between disciplines and allowing curiosity to guide her explorations. Currently it has led her at the intersection of education, art and spirituality. Her work for Google’s social impact initiative is focused on transforming education by making it free, accessible and relevant for emerging future(s). More than 13 Million people have been part of this socialgood initiative in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to date. As an executive coach and mindfulness facilitator, Laura supports others to design flourishing paths that allow to sustain a sense of intentionality, wellbeing and playfulness. Previously, she advocated for gender equality in business at the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce, was a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and a TEDx speaker and organiser. Her artistic practice is socially engaged and shapeshifts across mediums.
we are at the cusp of a transformative time, i observe the motions of life, desperately searching for tools, lessons, memories that can help guide us to move with much more care, grace and sustainable thinking.
i observe the teachings of the natural world called neighborhood, the pruning and planting of the spring, the harvest of the fall.
i learn that in the motions of the natural world, even in urban landscapes, i can enter mythic time, timeless time, time that speaks across the generations.
observe the stillness, in those mundane moments you will see past, present and future…
Audio read by author
in the springtime, papa trims the guayaba tree; fruit doesn’t come until the fall but he does this in order to prepare it for its regeneration. this year as he trimmed the tree, a hummingbird flew by him as an empty nest revealed itself in the newfound nakedness of the tree. we clean out the fallen branches and the benevolent winged being circles us in distress several times. we realize that in the annual pruning of trees, the home of this hummingbird was disturbed.
guilt sits in as papa directs me to clean out the weeds and fallen branches, and i can’t help but to think how harm is inevitable in nature. we are 3 generations removed from rural life. my urban naïvety shows that i lack the knowledge of how to restore a good relationship with hummingbirds. the sun sets, venus trails behind, as they join each other in the underworld, and papa reassures me that the hummingbird will restore its home amongst the network of trees that make up our industrial neighborhood.
i wonder if there are ceremonies that ask for permission and let the ecosystem of birds and insects know that a human needs to chop down a tree. does that restore the harm done? does it happen before, does it happen after, do you leave an offering? is an apology enough?
i continue to finish our yard work, and as i sift through piles of dirt, rising nettles and other “invasive” plants, i come to terms with the possibility that we humans are the invasion. not necessarily because we are human, but because of the values a grand part of our species lacks. i wish i knew a way to honor the hummingbird nest. i wish my papa knew that he needed to ask the tree permission before chopping much of it down. but the fact that he left the nest intact, reminds me that deep down, we know how to be in right relationship with the natural world around us.
in time, if we continue to pay attention, we will know the right ritual that can create an avenue of communication between us, my family who currently lives in this home, and the creatures who also call the trees, dirt, bushes, crevices on our “property” their home and playground. they have adapted to us, we are to adapt to them too.
as i sifted through my guilt, with my hands in the dirt, i am reminded that the natural world is ever so resilient, and adaptable to many changes. the earth itself holds that same resiliency. i personally do not agree with the belief that we, humans, are destroying the earth. the earth is resilient and adaptable, who has sustained eras, eons, grand cycles of time, more than we can comprehend. isn’t it a bit egotistic and humancentric to think that we are capable of such a task. the earth is adaptable, but can we as a species adapt to the changes we are bringing about through the mass harm of ecological destruction of the extractive mindset of deforestation, overharvesting, pollution and overconsumption of non-renewable resources? these practices will cause harm to us, to many many species, but the earth will regenerate. those species who can adapt will continue, humans may not be able to sustain such a change if we continue with the same destructive ways. this is a reminder to the generations coming after me…
i go back to the hummingbird who lost a home. they are resilient and will bounce back quickly, but the initial susto of finding a naked tree that previously had an abundance of protective leaves reminds us that small acts of harm are an inevitable part of nature. i ask us to tap into our collective ancient memory to remember the answers to:
how do we create balance and what do restorative processes look like in nature that reduce and heal harm?
in my daily prayer to the earth, i apologize for the many members of my species who have evolved to become clouded by egotism; i also fall under that category of humans. i offer these words as i ask for us to be enlightened to restore a reciprocal way of being with all of creation, so that we may coexist in harmony and balance. i thank you earth mama for the life we are gifted. may we remember now and eras into the future that we are, and will always be intimately a part of you.
and like our hummingbird relative, may we remember that we have the warrior-like capacity to be resilient, fierce, and able to adapt to any change that will come forth in our lifetime or the next.
Maíz Narrativez (2019)
image: A human with long hair sitting at the right with an umbilical cord connecting them to a smaller human in a womb that sits at the base of a corn stalk at the right. The Sun is rising at the center of the image, with a sky being and star rising above the Sun symbolizing Venus as the Morning Star. The image is framed by a hummingbird on the left and a parrot on the right side.
Audio read by author
This digital drawing combines several elements symbolizing the creation story of the 5th Sun from Anahuacan cosmology. It tells how the world and human beings were created by Quetzalcoatl, and how later on Quetzalcoatl was gifted corn by the ants to feed the first people.
Audio read by author
the end of springtime sprouts young corn stalks, we are hopeful, eager, and full of energy moon cycles pass and pull the sprouts closer to the sky.
the summertime brings forth abundant heat, creatures find refuge nestled into the maturing corn leaves, and the sunlight imprints its name into the DNA of the elotitos that form above the shadows.
the last 7,000 summers, our human ancestors have built an intimate relationship with corn mother, but many humans have begun to lose their way, and have fallen into vices of greed.
we don’t listen anymore to the whispers between the stalks, we are at the cusp of a transformative time, yet those ancient sounds become more and more unintelligible.
technological “progress” births more naïvety. as my palms touch the ground in my daily prayer to the earth, i pray to better understand, i pray that the future generations can remember what is true, this prayer is for you…
Remembering Corn Mother
Audio read by author
corn mother, i watch the way you stand with dignity
i seek to be the same
but i tremble, i am weak, with shaky knees, and my cracking voice stuttering my speech
my pulsating heart becomes like squash vines tethered and tangled on the ground lost in its growth, not knowing where to go
oh, you seek to have wisdom, you say you want to know
corn mother, i seek guidance can my nimble spine spiral up your stalk towards the sky?
my shaky palms reach into my left pocket stumbling to make an offering of lint, crumbs, crumpled paper, and leftover tobacco…
a desperate offering
corn mother, creator, god, earth mama, wind, fire, water, ancestor, person in my head,
whoever can hear me,
help us to be free, i ask for courage, may we be courageous,
the road ahead is not easy and we must strengthen our hearts to make it through
my spiraling heart, reaching the tassels shouting at the heavens
may we be strong may we be loving may we be honest and true.
Audio version of biography
Among other things, John Jairo Valencia (they/he, 27) is a youth worker, culture worker, and mixed media artist who works primarily through illustrative drawing and creative writing. Their creative work is inspired by stars, spirit beings, ancestors, the natural world, dreams, storytelling and decolonization. They envision their work as a prayer for transformative change and creating “un mundo donde quepan muchxs mundos.” John Jairo attended UC Berkeley where they received a BA in Native American Studies, Chicanx Studies, and Art. John Jairo identifies as a brown queer, xicanx, colombian and grew up on Tongva territory in the neighborhoods of Bassett and Boyle Heights with roots from the Chihuahuan Desert, Central Mexico, and the Colombian Andes. You can find John Jairo’s work on IG: @elotedreamz