By Aravinda Ananda
Capitalism does not typically financially reward well a lot of the healing justice work happening in the world.
This is one of the reasons that for the last four young adult immersions in the Work That Reconnects – Earth Leadership Cohorts (ELC), the facilitation team I have been a part of has been committed to fundraising so that money was not a barrier to participation for many of the young people doing good work in the world with little monetary compensation. I am so grateful for the support that people in the Interhelp Network have offered to support young people to experience this work through the ELC program.
One of the ways my partner and I have been experimenting with creating opportunities for people to be less reliant on the money economy is by offering a room in our house in exchange for 10 hours of work per week. Often the work is related to what I have been calling Living rEvolution – living the changes we want to see in the world, increasingly embodying life-affirming relationships. Sometimes work exchange hours are spent tending the garden beds in the front or back yards (we got rid of all of the grass in the front yard through a permaculture technique called sheet mulching, and now grow almost exclusively vegetables and herbs in the front yard where all passersby can see; in the back yard we are employing various other permaculture techniques including establishing a forest garden) or doing things like hosting a gift economy gathering.
I am a big proponent of universal basic income, but until society sees fit to collectively free people’s time and energy up for the healing work that is so needed on this planet, I am trying to think of bridges between capitalism and life-sustaining society.
One of the things I have recently committed to is shifting some of my financial resources to support Women of Color-led healing justice work. My partner and I just completed a pledged year of tithing 2.5% of our post-tax income to a woman who I would like to lift up now: Ratasha Elise, the convener and visionary of Chocolate Soul Revival, a community healing initiative.
Some of you may know Ratasha through her involvement in the Work That Reconnects, the People of Color Cohorts, or the extraordinary article she wrote for the August 2017 special issue of Deep Times.
She has been incorporating the Work That Reconnects into her healing justice work and has convened and is now facilitating a cohort of black women who “are committed to healing, wellness, empowerment, and community building. Through research, study, and creative collaboration, [they] are designing a system of healing justice to be shared with people of African descent across the diaspora.” As Ratasha wrote, “we are literally transforming the world, beginning with ourselves.”
As she elaborates, “Today’s political climate impacts everyone. But the violence that is specifically aimed at the minds, hearts, and bodies of targeted communities, means that many of us are impacted disproportionately. Now more than ever, those who are targeted by intense hatred and destruction at the intersections of their race, gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, age, and religion must be uplifted while doing life saving and regenerating work. Chocolate Soul Revival is about doing the work of reclaiming our whole selves, our truth, our clarity, and our power from the bondage of oppression. Central to this is the reclaiming of our West African Ancestral, Earth integrated spirituality. This is foundational work that is meant to precede further work as activists, artists, and co-creators of alternative, life regenerating systems. This is the internal work that is often skipped over for lack of time, safety, and material resources. Through enslavement, colonialism, and the prison industrial complex to name just a few, generations and generations of labor and richness have been extracted from communities of color. Now is the time for restoration, healing and repair. Now more than ever.”
Chocolate Soul Revival conducted a week long healing justice retreat during the week of the Spring Equinox. They are currently in the process of moving into a space that will allow them to host ongoing community healing circles and multi-day retreats.
How can we be in solidarity with each other for healing, justice and liberation? How can we create a financial/resource bridge between capitalism and life-sustaining economy? If you have access to financial resources, please consider redirecting more of your wealth to individuals and/or organizations doing critical healing work.
I am reaching out to this Work That Reconnects Community specifically to see if we might be a bridge of support for Ratasha and the important community healing work she is doing to collectively generate enough resources to cover her living expenses for a period of time so that she can focus full time on the development of this work. The community she is committed to serving is comprised largely of economically disenfranchised people. Yet, she turns no one away for lack of funds. She has been working on this for years with little or no monetary compensation, and the financial stress takes a considerable toll. My heart expands to think of the good work that is possible if people such as Ratasha are freed from financial strain so that they may more fully focus on the healing work that is theirs to do.
I believe a more technical word for this is fellowship – your living expenses are covered for a period of time such as a year so that you can focus on important work. Ratasha has used that word for the work she is doing. By making a financial contribution – one-time or monthly for the next twelve months, members of this Work That Reconnects community could help make that a reality.
Here are three ways you can support Ratasha and her Chocolate Soul Revival initiative:
- Send some money:
- Give directly through PayPal: http://paypal.me/Ratasha
- Set up recurring monthly donations at: https://donorbox.org/chocolatesoul
- Crowdfunding Campaign: www.youcaring.com/chocolatesoul
- Contact [email protected] if you would like to make a larger tax deductible donation through their fiscal sponsor
- Or Venmo: @Ratasha-Elise
- Offer Fundraising Support
Revolutionary Healing Justice work at the intersection of personal, social and political transformation, requires revolutionary funding models to ensure that it happens. Ratasha and the Chocolate Soul Revival cohort are looking for people in solidarity who are ready to leverage their power, privilege, and access to people with material resources by:
- Connecting them with foundations and angel donors who might be excited to hear about and support this work!
- Advocating for them by sending an email to a list of your contacts requesting donations.
- Sharing their crowdfunder/paypal links via social media.
- Convening a team of allies/accomplices who are willing to fundraise in White, POC, and multi-racial communities of solidarity.
- Give In-Kind Donations
- Technology (web design and hosting, a laptop)
- Transportation (uber and lyft credits, a gently used vehicle, airline miles)
Thank you in advance if you feel called to contribute! If you aren’t in a position to make a monetary or in-kind contribution or have much time to help out with fundraising, one wonderful and simple way you could help is by sharing this information with people in your networks.
May our deeds be the bridge to a life-sustaining economy.
Aravinda Ananda is a social ecologist living in eastern Massachusetts. She has been facilitating Work That Reconnects and similar group work for the better part of the last eight years. She is a member of the Interhelp Network – a north east United States regional Work That Reconnects network, was one of the founding weavers of the Work That Reconnects Network, and is an editor of the Deep Times journal. Last summer she was one of the guest editors of the Deep Times special issue on the impact of race and culture on the Work That Reconnects and has been in conversation over the past few years with other facilitators working on integrating deeper power, privilege and oppression analysis and approaches into Work That Reconnects facilitation. She is currently getting ready to be a part of hosting a monthlong regenerative culture gathering in western Massachusetts in July, where one of the main focuses will be on how the community is together. Much of her other time is spent finishing a draft of her forthcoming book entitled, Living rEvolution.
Dear Family in the Work That Reconnects,
You are all very much in my thoughts these days for this is a critical moment for all life on our planet. It is both heart-shattering and, in its ferocity, promising of what we can become as planet people. I feel our connections in the Work resonating in me like harp strings.
I’d like to share with you some ways I am finding the Work is helping me respond to the avalanche of bad news as a call to stay both steady and open.
I will go around the spiral.
The emotional challenges of this time require of me to be all the more grateful for the immediacy and sturdiness of Gaia’s gifts. They flow in moment by moment: the air I breathe, the faces of friends, and my loyal, hardworking old body.
As I open to the pain of our world at this time it really helps me to remember, as we do in the truth mandala, the source, or tantric side, of the intensities of grief, outrage and dread. Then, each emotional blow actually ignites my realization of the depths of my caring for the world. This caring comes from a deep interconnectedness that unites me with life and opens me to the strengths and insights it can bring.
Also, as I listen to the news–and it matters to listen, please don’t turn away–it helps me to bless the independent journalists that are bringing the news. Love them for the risks that they take to bring us word of what is happening. Thank each person on the information chain that is letting word come to you. And as these currents of information flow through you, don’t feel that you must personally respond to each situation. Don’t fall into that trap of the hyper-individualism of our old culture. Imagine as you listen that you are allowing the information to cycle and flow through you into wider circuits, enlivening and circulating through the collective intelligence of our time.
Moving further around the spiral. What a sweet moment to be together with other activists, joining them with our hearts and minds and with our hands as well. My granddaughter, Eliza, told me yesterday how she will spend the summer interning with 350.org in Minneapolis. We talked about how beautiful it will be to weave connections with the indigenous people of those northern Minnesota lakes, connections fortified by a common goal. Enbridge wants to bring an oil pipeline through the lakes that have yielded for centuries harvests of wild rice. To work together to protect those waters and the ancient culture of wild rice harvesting will bring solidarity and adventure and respect.
Now coming around to the going forth. I found myself thinking this morning that everything is clearer for us now. The viciousness and brutality that have always been with us are so obvious now, and although terrifying, they’re right up front for all to see. Their currency is fear–fear that distorts and deadens the mind. And now it’s clear: love must, and can, triumph over fear. If we’re not up for love yet– and a lot of the time I feel I’m not–we can lean into trust. That’s something I can do. I can learn to trust, and I’m doing that.
And so, dear hearts,thank you for being here–to trust in and trust with.
“There’s nothing that can happen that will ever separate me from the living body of earth.”
Back in a hot day October afternoon, Emergence Magazine interviewed Joanna Macy.
In this interview, Buddhist eco-philosopher and author Joanna Macy discusses her life and work. From her anti-nuclear activism in the late 60’s to her work with deep ecology, Joanna expresses the need to live within an ethic of care for the earth.
Both interview and audio with transcript can be found here: https://emergencemagazine.org /story/widening-circles/
The podcast can also be found and subscribed to here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/p odcast/emergence-magazines-pod cast/id1368790239