“Rusia Naureen Mohiuddin was born in Bangladesh in 1973, the year that two important cases dominated the United States news: Roe vs. Wade and the start of the Watergate hearings. She was born an identical twin, the pair born in the middle of four siblings. She says her journey towards social justice causes came before she was 13 years old.
Mohiuddin studied and graduated in New York, and after a nine month visit to Bangladesh, returned to the city to launch herself as the lead organizer for the Moshulu Woodlawn South Community Coalition.
Without any formal training, Mohiuddin successfully organized the first bilingual Bengali program in New York City at Public School 20 in the North West Bronx, a community with a high concentration of Bangladeshi families. There she organized more than 100 community members to start tenant associations and run four social justice campaigns in their neighborhoods.
Five and a half years ago Mohiuddin co-founded Social Justice Leadership, an organization based in New York City supporting leaders, organizers and supervisors to create authentic open relationships with those they work with.
Having worked in the five boroughs of New York City, Florida and California with youth, women and people of color, Mohiuddin started seeing patterns in people’s experiences.
People felt stuck in old habits that no longer served a purpose in their lives and didn’t know how to change. Staff in community organizing were underpaid and overworked with no real structure in place to appreciate or value the work they do. And, the needs of communities were so vast and global that the day-to-day work barely put a dent in the situations faced. Staff quickly became overworked, burned out and left.
In late 2004, Mohiuddin crafted a five-year vision for the work she felt she must do to infuse highly skilled, balanced and sustainable organizers into the social justice movement. Already in development, Mohiuddin, as the chief architect of ACTIVATE! The Community Fellowship Program, launched an intensive three-month program for intermediate, entry level folks and whole organizations to train together and develop skills sets that take care of their human and organizing needs.
“Some people want change that is tangible, that you can feel, but the most stark changes are small and have huge impact but we are only able to see them if we are engaged in day-to-day relationships with people,” says Mohiuddin.
ACTIVATE! has not only become the staple of how Social Justice Leadership does their organizing work today, but has also revolutionized the way that organizers think about themselves within the movement. It was through ACTIVATE! that Mohiuddin solidified integrating the self into community organizing work, changing the way organizing is done while having a transformative impact in the lives of the people who attend the training.
Ultimately, this innovative integration became the basis for what will be the social justice leadership model of transformative organizing. This model, says Mohiuddin, “forces people to see their own humanity and the humanity of others in the pursuit of justice.”
Today, Mohiuddin is taking what she has learned into the universe, reaching as many people as she can. “I want to be a part of something that has personhood at the center. I want to work for an organization not looking to be bigger than itself, where the expansion becomes more important than the work it is doing,” said Mohiuddin.
The only way to secure that she will find this place is by creating it herself. This winter, Mohiuddin will be launching Universal Partnership, a consulting and training institute that believes that the heart of a sustainable movement moves to the beat of sustainable people.
As a woman of color in various leadership positions, Mohiuddin always had the opportunity to connect with the staff of where she worked but found it hard to be taken seriously by her male peers in leadership, no matter their race. She sees the many displaced and disempowering positions she has found herself in as a direct result of her being a women. No matter the injustice or oppression she faced, Mohiuddin made the struggle for gender equality secondary for the sake of maintaining relationships and getting her work done.
For those on the front lines, Mohiuddin says, “It’s important to believe in yourself even when everyone tells you not to, surround yourself with people who care about you and allow yourself to be impacted by the work that you are doing. It is not about changing the world, it’s allowing the work to shape you and who you need to be.”
Of course this is easier said than done so look forward to Universal Partnership to support you on your journey of finding your humanity and dignity if you have lost it along the way.
Participants told their stories, strengthened ties, renewed friendships and explored commonalities and differences, but the retreat was not a typical professional networking gathering. It was conducted on a deeply personal level, with a very spacious agenda allowing plenty of time for reflection and practice. It focused on inner work with the goal of strengthening outer work, bridging the gap between the public/social and private/individual aspects of transformational change.
“This exploration has become a movement in some ways,” says williams. “Today we speak of ‘turning tides’ and a ‘great shift in consciousness’ coming to inform the way we make change in the world. There’s a growing recognition that we need to be more specific and emphatic about justice itself. Justice isn’t just about entitlements – it’s about honoring inherent rights, readjusting and renegotiating our relationship to the Other, bringing people who are marginalized back into the center.”
by Erin Howard
I had the honor of being coached by Rusia for 6 months. For 10 years, I have dedicated every aspect of my life to the immigrant rights movement and to efforts focused on educational equity and youth leadership development in Lexington, KY. While my passion drives me, there have been many times that I have felt lost in the work and consumed in the many needs. I would wrestle with guilt when I physically could not give anymore, and I would feel a deep sense of restlessness that I, in my leadership, was not enough. I struggled to find balance, prioritize efforts, and respect my own humanity.
Rusia challenged me from our very first session to integrate two new practices into my day – meditation and journaling – as well as to shift my mentality on movement in order to embrace the vision I had for my leadership. The one outlet I have always practiced was movement: working out, dancing, yoga, gymnastics, sports. But more as an effort to stay healthy, not as an means through which I could cultivate my creative, authentic and radically hopeful leadership. By integrating mediation and journaling and embracing movement as a conduit of connecting my mind and body, I experienced and continue to experience a tremendous amount of healing, appreciation, and love for myself, the work I *get* to to do, and those with whom I lead.
I am a commitment to empowering those directly impacted– the youth and their families– for the sake of an inclusive and just community. I forgive myself when I don’t get it right; I seek understanding and keep an open mind when I need to be grounded. I am a commitment to creative leadership, to selfless listening, and to radical hope because my dream, my purpose is to help those that I meet become all they have been created to be.
Until my coaching with Rusia, I had not fully appreciated and embraced the creative, peace-building, and innocent manner of my leadership. I had not imagined and created a vision for my leadership, either. I even went as far as discounting major components of who I am to work within the system of education. Yet, she helped me find the words to articulate my presence; I can say unapologetically that, for this moment in my life, I am committed to working from within higher education to bare witness, to leverage resources and to create spaces for all who the system by nature and structure leaves out. Because this is exhausting and often times a mismatch of values and purpose, Rusia also guided me to ask those closest to me for the encouragement and affirmation I needed to keep going. I found peace and power in seeking this encouragement, and the vulnerability of doing so has deepened not only my leadership but also my friendships and collaborations.
Her coaching has helped me become a better mentor and supervisor. I cannot claim that I no longer struggle with taking on too much and losing myself in the work. My passion still gets the best of me. Yet, I have learned to identify the imbalances and conditioned tendencies that drain and degrade me. My awareness of the needs of others has increased; my concern to seek understanding has deepened; and I have begun to embrace my deep sense of empathy as a strength as opposed to an uncomfortable or embarrassing shortcoming. It takes strength to bare one’s soul and emotions- shared joy, shared tears, shared frustration, shared hurt, shared hope- this helps a community grow.
I have stepped into the mantra that I will fiercely defend spaces, resources and leadership roles for those directly impacted by the issues I passionately work to address. I am a commitment to empowering those directly impacted– the youth and their families– for the sake of an inclusive and just community. I forgive myself when I don’t get it right; I seek understanding and keep an open mind when I need to be grounded. I am a commitment to creative leadership, to selfless listening, and to radical hope because my dream, my purpose is to help those that I meet become all they have been created to be.
Rusia’s coaching helped me articulate this vision. I found my center– my sweet spot, my super powers. And while the struggles are many still and the injustices hurting and dehumanizing our communities seem to be overcoming and overwhelming, the movement, mediation and journaling I practice help remind me that I am connected to a loving, powerful people. Our connectedness is our existence, and even though I can’t fix it all, I have an important part to contribute that depends on my creativity, my humanity, and my passion to mold a rising generation of leaders.
Thank you, Rusia, for teaching me to breath, for teaching me to honor my humanity, for encouraging my creative, movement-based leadership and for empowering me to find the words to embrace and speak life to my commitments and my story.
by Lucia Gomez
I admit that I enjoy and actually look for a good challenge. I thrive in challenging environments. I make the best of a given situation and feel comfortable assessing and navigating rough waters. Therefore when I saw Universal Partnership’s #30daysUP meditation challenge, I thought – why not? A challenge to sit, meditate, and clear my mind – let’s go! I knew I needed it, my mind was running game all over me!
I will admit, this challenge came in a good time for me – I was prime to do something to better manage my emotional and professional state of mind. I had just undergone quite a brutal beatdown when having to deal with extremely untrustworthy individuals and hoping they would do what is best for the people they represent. Unfortunately, my hopes were set too high and I entered full body, heart, mind and soul without the appropriate gear to manage it all. In the past, I had used meditation as a tool to help me cope with the daily strain on my body and heart when the daily job of LIFE took a toll on me. I will admit that during this time I had some other kinds of support. A friend of mine – let’s call him Smarty, really kicked into gear during this time. He helped me by listening, informally coaching, and highlighting aspects of my thought-process and communication skills that I had overlooked needed major work. Just imagine – I got two gifts from him, a book called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity and the Mind-Map Book. Now, if that’s not an indication of the “troubles” he saw in my flow, than I’m not sure what else could be.
Along comes the #30daysUP challenge and I will admit – it really took me to the next level of my evolution. I started on April 7th and I am still going strong. I can’t lie, there was a moment that I sat up to 18 minutes…then I had to go back down to 3 minutes! I’m now back up to 11 minutes and every day working my way up to my goal of 15 minutes daily. I can see things in a way that I never had before. I’m more open and less reactive. I have noticed that when something is triggering me, I know that breathing can get me through it – so I inhale, take in the moment – and exhale. I then am ready to either respond, or simply let it go until I can really handle the reaction that will follow in a productive way.
Just last week, I knew that if I didn’t meditate every day, I wasn’t going to get through it all – but it was more than just the meditation. Its as if I started paying attention and being more present in all aspects of my life. I have not only kept meditating beyond the 30 days (sometimes more than once a day when I feel the need to reboot), but when I do miss a day – I’m not as hard on myself and immediately get back to it the next day. I have also started to write in my journal, listen to music, and read. It’s as if I’ve slowed down – but not necessarily my work flow or productivity, just what I prioritize and emphasize as needing immediate and stressful attention. Sometimes, my days are jammed with non-stop activity, but I can now stop, take a moment to take-in what is happening, and assess my next steps.
For example, one of the ways I used to manage relationships was going straight to the point without too much fluff or thought on who I was speaking to. So much so that at times I had no filter and it was as if I was interacting with objects that didn’t feel or react as a result of what I was saying and doing. My self-awareness was a bit off…to say the least. Am I 100% aware now? Not 100%, but definitely much more aware than I have ever been and working towards a much clearer and purpose-driven self. The #30daysUP challenge wasn’t the only time I started meditating. I had been doing it on and off for about two years. Yet, seeing the UP’s mind the gap video, the structure, the posts and the tweets got me excited to be a part of something with a community of individuals who were striving to simply become better for the sake of helping others be better. It’s what got me motivated to really try to stick to it and stay on course.
The idea that a daily practice could help re-train my mind to reconnect with my heart, my breath, my body, and ultimately with others is truly fascinating to me. So simple, yet it took me this long to get here.
Meditation was not like other stress-coping mechanisms like when I choose to write in my journal or swim, but it has helped me reflect and re-train my eyes to see, my heart to feel, and my mind to think about what is there in that present moment. I’ve learned to identify in much less time the things that make me happy, mad and those that take me off course and ultimately procrastinate. My mood is much less random, and I can actually feel and understand what is going on with my body and where my mind is. I value the present so much more than I ever have, and I know it can only get better. Thank you Rusia, #30daysUp and all who participated. Let’s keep it going!
Lucia is the Executive Director of La Fuente
SOMATIC LEADERSHIP: CHANGE + CULTIVATION
February 12, 2016 | RUSIA N. MOHIUDDIN
APRIL 5, 2016: CEIO is pleased to invite you to this special Deeper Change Forum. During this Forum we will learn through practice. Both the morning and the afternoon sessions will be highly interactive as we explore the “integration of somatics into an organizing/leadership framework” an approach pioneered by our guest presenter, Rusia N. Mohiuddin. Rusia is the Principle at Universal Partnership (UP).
ABOUT RUSIA N. MOHIUDDIN
Based in New York, Rusia is a trainer, facilitator, and certified somatic coach. Her current mission, through UP, has been developing a holistic model for social justice change work that places in its center the necessary transformation of social change agents. Rusia brings a unique style to creating pathways for individuals to bring their best selves forward when enacting social change in their organizations and communities. Over the last 18 years, Rusia has primarily worked in nonprofit, community-based organizations across the U.S. Her organizing career started with eight years as a street-level community organizer, and grew to leading organizations, notably helping to establish Families United for Racial & Economic Equality & co-founding the national intermediary, Social Justice Leadership.
RUSIA WILL GUIDE US TO:
Learn somatics within the contexts of leadership and organizing for community change;
Explore individual leadership to determine alignment with values and principles;
Explore and create how leadership and organizing happens through somatics; and
Develop a vision for leadership change and cultivation.
Join Rev. angel and Rusia Mohiuddin and let them help you unleash your inner leadership potential in 2016
Rev. angel, alongside Universal Partnership’s Principal Rusia Mohiuddin, regularly co-facilitate Oppression in the Soma in New York, a retreat in which they help attendees become the best they can be by releasing somatic baggage that hinders their leadership potential.
Give us your best email to stay connected, then sign up for #OIS2016 to be the best, liberated you that you can be.
Jardana Peacock put out a call for white people to share practices that could help other white people show up for racial justice and Black Lives Matter. This is a simple body awareness practice I use to get out of my head so I can be more present and emotionally stable, especially in high-stress or distracted situations. I learned this technique at the amazing #FreeYourBody: Oppression in the Soma retreat run by Rusia Mohiuddin and rev. angel Kyodo williams. Check out the retreat at http://universalpartnership.org/pj/. #EndWhiteSilence #practiceshowingup
Warriors for Embodied Liberation presents
the “Liberation through Art” Showcase: An evening of spoken word poetry & live music
on Friday, November 3rd @ Camaradas El Barrio
– Spoken Word Poet, Adilka Pimentel
– East Harlem Songstress, Mercedes
– Spoken Word Poet, Jaritza Geigel
– Afro-Caribbean Drumming Troupe, Legacy Women
– Indo-Caribbean Singer, Nadia Bourne
– Spoken Word Poet, Simone Devi
– Visual Artists, Maria and Rusia Mohiuddin
Tickets in advance: $15
Tickets at the door: $20
Proceeds will go to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
3|One (basics), is a four session introductory body-based practice using 31 dynamic movements (using a wooden staff), dyad/group mini sessions, and core principles designed to support you in maintaining balance in your life, work and relationships. This course is designed specifically to support social change & social justice groups, organizations, agents.
As a non-profit organization ourselves, we know in these rapidly changing times with limited financial and human resources, you are faced with many competing priorities that drain those resources. Social change and organizing work is brimming with great opportunity and great challenge. But we are trying to do more with less. As a result, finding balance in our lives, living sustainably and adapting to ever-changing circumstances, is becoming more difficult than ever. With these limitations, it is now essential to learn how to act from a centered place and sustain ourselves in the different configurations our work for change requires.
As Director of Policy, Elena oversees all of Pratt Center’s policy initiatives from the development and delivery of policy research and reports, to the creation of tools that demystify policy concepts for the use of local partners. She advances strategic and collaborative advocacy campaigns that link our technical assistance practice with local partners to policy. She also serves as a lead organizer, facilitator and urban planner on projects that advance policies and projects improving housing, the environment, and economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. Elena focuses on equitable land use, accountable development, sustainability, housing and transportation equity issues, including bus rapid transit and the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance’s Sheridan Expressway campaign.
Previously, Elena led solid waste, energy and urban forestry efforts at Sustainable South Bronx. She helped advance a successful citywide campaign to ensure that New York City’s garbage export system is distributed throughout the five boroughs, instead of concentrated in low-income neighborhoods suffering the city’s highest rates of environmental illness. She also directed Greening for Breathing’s efforts to plant and care for trees as a community-based response to poor air quality and low canopy cover.
Born and raised in New York City, Elena holds a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute and dual Bachelors’ of Arts, in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and Spanish, from Stanford University. She is a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program and a Coro Immigrant Civic Leadership Program participant, as well as an adjunct professor at the CUNY Murphy Institute’s School of Professional Studies. She’s engaged in Warriors of Embodied Leadership (WEL), a two-year intensive training, apprenticeship, and certification program related to somatics that develops skills in facilitation and coaching for social justice practitioners taught by Rusia Mohiuddin, the principal of Universal Partnership (http://universalpartnership.org).
She is passionate about languages & sociolinguistics, walking & bicycling, and being challenged & challenging others in compassionate ways.
Photo by Jordan Moss
Mohi Khan, surveys in hand, took a break from telling parents at PS 56 about new Bangladeshi kindergarten planned for PS 20 next fall. He posed for a photo with his daughter, Sanjana.
Public school parents are used to fighting for what they want for their kids. They’re less accustomed to actually getting it, and even less accustomed to getting it quickly. This spring, to the satisfaction of everyone involved, a group of Bangladeshi-American residents of Norwood did both.
Beginning this fall, Norwood’s PS 20 will be home to the first bilingual kindergarten program in the Bronx for children of Bangladeshi descent. All it took was a little initiative and citizen action on the part of parents and the enthusiastic cooperation of District 10 officials.
Local leaders in the Bangladeshi community decided the kindergarten was necessary when they realized many Bengali-speaking parents could not communicate with their English-speaking children and their teachers. Mohi Khan, whose daughter attends PS 56, remembered watching a child in front of the school talking with his teacher,while the child’s mother stood off to the side, unable to understand what either was saying. It turned out that the child was talking to the teacher about why he couldn’t do his homework.
After enlisting the help of organizers with the Mosholu Woodlawn South Community Coalition (MWSCC), Khan, together with other parents, surveyed their neighbors, gathered signatures and invited District 10 officials to a meeting.
Ruth Lopez, the district’s director of bilingual programs in District 10, said the parents seemed “set for [a] battle. They had this whole presentation.” But Lopez, whose job it is to support and develop bilingual programs, needed little convincing. “I said, ‘Wonderful! I agree with you!'” she recalled.
Aside from the very practical considerations of communication, parents were concerned that their children were losing their native language and culture. At the meeting, Lopez said parents expressed that they wanted their kids “to learn to read [Bengali] and to see it as a language that they’re proud of and want to be able to retain.”
At one of the first meetings parents had with MWSCC, back in March, another parent, Nozrul Khan, said his child is now shy about speaking Bengali and that the school system should help by reinforcing it. “If there’s institutional assistance and recognition, then they’ll not feel shy,” he said.
Lopez said the parents’ ideas were very much in line with the district’s vision of encouraging children to be bilingual or even trilingual. “Their concept is one that we respect and value and it falls within the mission and philosophy of our district,” Lopez said.
The program is for all Bangladeshi children, whether their primary language is Bengali or English. Lopez said the children will be aided in learning the language they are less familiar with by being in the same environment as others who are fluent.
She also pointed out that the district, with no Bengali speakers on staff, could not have done the necessary surveys and outreach to make the program happen without the help of parents. The district is currently in the process of recruiting a licensed Bengali teacher.
While many schools in District 10 have Spanish bilingual programs, this is the first program for another language. Khan said Bengali is the fifth most spoken language in the city. Norwood’s growing Bangladeshi community is reflective of that statistic. When Khan first arrived in Norwood 12 years ago, there were three other Bangladeshi families living there. Now, there are about 80, he said.
Many of the school-age children in those families would ordinarily go to different local elementary schools, depending on where they lived. To get a critical mass of kids to warrant the program, the children will all go to PS 20.
Though the program is only for kindergarten-age children, the district intends to add a grade each year as the initial group progresses. There are also plans for an after-school program for older children.
Leaders in the local Bangladeshi community did not have to look far for assistance in coming up with a plan to gather the necessary information and reach out to the school system. Many of them had already become involved with MWSCC when several Bangladeshi young men were beaten two years ago by a small group of local teenagers.
Members of MWSCC, an affiliate of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, worked with them to contact police, seek justice in the courts, and organize a successful March for Unity last September – a procession that snaked down Bainbridge Avenue and ended up on Mosholu Parkway for a joyous multicultural celebration.
Looking back at the unfortunate incidents of a couple of years ago, Mohi Khan said that, ultimately, something positive came from it. “We started getting involved in the community because of bad things, and we are getting good things,” he said.
Lopez said the district is equally enriched by the experience of working with the parents. “It’s been a really good process for us,” she said.
Ed. note: District 10 is now in the process of distributing surveys to all parents interested in sending their children to the Bengali/English kindergarten at PS 20 this fall. For more information, contact Ruth Lopez at 584-6493, Rusia Mohiuddin at 655-1054, or Mohi Khan at 652-1513.
The Windcall Residency Program has awarded 507 social change leaders a Residency since 1989.
Residents are identified with the organization they were with at the time of Residency.
However, the City and State is where they currently live.
Let’s Practice Showing up Together The summer of 2016, like so many summers in the U.S., has been marked by the blood of too many Black and Brown people. As Adrienne Maree Brown states, “Things are not getting worse, things are getting uncovered. We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.”
In this time of intense state violence against Black bodies, our hearts are breaking, our communities are dividing and our children’s lives are at stake. However, there is also incredible hope. Demonstrations, gatherings and actions for Black Lives are blossoming all over the world, calls to end policing and move towards restorative justice are stronger than ever, and more and more white people are coming into consciousness and breaking white silence to end this violence. It is a time for us all to show up, our freedom depends on it.
In order for white people to show up, we need practices of wellness, healing and culture to ground us and support us. In July, I put out a call to white folks from a wide range of backgrounds and levels of political engagement and consciousness. I asked them to share stories and practices that support them in showing up for racial justice. In the pages that follow, you will find writing, meditation, embodied movement, prayer, reflection and other practices to help build our collective resilience. You can also follow on Facebook and participate, at #practiceshowingup.
Consider sharing a practice you use in your life and work (a poem, a writing exercise, a meditation or something else) and share a story about being white. Post it to social media, using the hashtag #practiceshowingup.
This practice manual, is a compilation of some of those practices shared on Facebook. Let’s use it as a resource, to ground our actions, open our meetings and strengthen the resiliency of white people, so we may continue to step into our vulnerable leadership. Please share this resource widely. Let’s practice, and show up to racial justice together.
EPIP New York | Women’s Leadership in Philanthropy
POSTED ON MARCH 21, 2018
Reflections, Tools and Opportunities for Sustainable Women’s Leadership
Join us for an intimate chat with Tynesha McHarris, Program Officer for the Advancing Adolescent Girls Rights Initiative at the NOVO Foundation about her experiences as a woman of color in philanthropy, on women’s leadership in the sector, and on grantmaking practices that center women and girls. This will be followed by a conversation with Rusia Mohiuddin, Founder and Principal of Universal Partnership, about her experiences developing the sustainable leadership of women of color for social justice movements, tools for healing and growth, specific challenges women face as they cultivate their leadership, and her Leadership Training model to help women lead powerfully in the nonprofit sector. This event is for people who identify as women. Event will be moderated by Manuela Arciniegas, EPIP NYC Steering Committee Member and Associate Program Officer of the Andrus Family Fund.
March 28, 2018 at 8:30am – 10:30am Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Today we’d like to introduce you to Rusia Mohiuddin.
“My grandfather was the founding father of the Bangladeshi Independence struggle. He was an organizer & politician popularly known as ‘Jadu Mia’ (Magic Man). He would often tell his children.”
‘The people are the source of all power!’ My mother raised her children with this as a foundation for understanding the world & what united peoples were capable of doing.
Rusia, based in New York, is a master trainer, facilitator, somatic coach, and artist who pioneered the integration of somatics into an organizing framework. Her current mission, through Universal Partnership, has been developing a holistic model for social justice change work that places in its center the necessary transformation of social change agents. Rusia brings a unique style to creating pathways for individuals to bring their best selves forward when enacting social change in their organizations & communities using innovative and creativity to ground individual and collective leadership.
Over the last 22 years, Rusia has primarily worked in non-profit, community-based organizations across the U.S. Her organizing career started with 8 years as a street-level community organizer, & grew to leading organizations, notably helping to establish Families United for Racial & Economic Equality & co-founding the national intermediary, Social Justice Leadership. Through this experience & her many years as a trainer, coach & consultant, Rusia brings a well-grounded expertise of basic to advanced organizing training as well as organizational & leadership development.
Rusia is also a proud nerd & a skilled in graphic designer, photographer, website developer, video editor, & has worked with many organizations across the country as an IT specialist.
Please tell us about your art.
In my life and in my work, I use art to reset and fortify, to create and literally birth something that did not exist in the world. art serves the key self-care practice I use to ground myself and reconnect myself to what I do in the world and why.
I primarily enjoy portraits of people which makes sense since all my work is in service of people and communities. I use a mixture of wax-based color pencils and alcohol-based markers to create my art. in many ways the sketching and bringing to life with color process is a deeply intimate experience. I often feel as the I have spent lifetimes knowing and loving the people I draw and they inevitably take their place as part of my life’s story. I also do a lot of calligraphy, both modern and classic, sometimes integrating this into creative lettering designs.
What do you think about conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
art has always been at the center of any transformative change work in society. art drives and thrives for change and literally changes hearts and minds where other tactics just cannot. art is a critical part of our humanity.
Unfortunately, art and artists are not as valued and revered as they once were in our cultures. I believe this is largely due to the growing disparities between the haves and have not’s, where more materialistic and tangible ways of making a living is far more important.
Integrating art into everything we do is a vital responsibility for communities and society at large. the more we do it, the more we talk about it, the more it will remain woven into the very fabric of how we live and orient to the world. We have the ability to reach many people across many lands and seas. we can raise money and support folks for just about anything these days. creating intentional and sustainable structures, both formal and informal, to support and cultivate artists and art in every corner of every community is vital to centering our humanity and values in all that we do.