Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Sojourn at World Fellowship

Greetings Good People!

I have returned from my sojourn in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The experience proved to be one of great healing, and growth for me, as well as the many different people that I lived, taught, learned, and worked with on a daily basis from June to September.

Living and working in an intentional community, that is committed to social change, and living in harmony with nature, has reinforced my belief that communal work, and living, will prove to be the cure for much of societies ills. Much of what ails us, especially those of us of African decent, has to do with the fact that our communities have been destroyed, and the way of life that is most natural to us, has been replaced by a way of life that focuses on individual progress over collective progress, isolation and separation from nature, and the "nuclear" family.

I was not raised this way, and have never felt comfortable with this way of living, and seek to find and create community wherever I go, and to spend as much time in nature as I can. I consider this my own form of resistance. By choosing to align myself with people, and a way of life that speaks to my personal values, is how I combat the ever encroaching, and often soul-stifling urbanization of ever corner of our existence.

Communal work and living are not perfect and there are many challenges. Being one of the only black people on staff, and the only black woman, had its challenges, and many times I had to remind people of their illusion that white supremacy and institutionalized racism are no longer alive and thriving, and are not eradicated by time spent in Africa or Latin America. They are alive, and well and need to be challenged constantly, not only by those of us who have to deal with its attacks on our humanity and our souls, but also by those who "benefit" from it. Truth be told, all of us are dehumanized, and marginalized by what I learned from my Irish friend Dugald, "Systems of Oppression".

Nonetheless, I was embraced by many, with a love and acceptance, that I have rarely experienced outside of my biological family. In fact, I found an extended family at World Fellowship. As the Youth Fellowship Coordinator, I was allowed the freedom to connect with the young people in my own way, and on "our" terms. Meaning I connected with the youth, met them where they were, and worked from there. I created activities, and circle discussions that tapped into their personal experiences, and allowed them to opportunity to express what they felt about world issues, school, their parents, other adults, race etc. You would be surprised what came out of their mouths. Most of the young people I encountered, thought deeply about many of these issues, and were able to give voice to those concerns with great depth and eloquence. Many of their parents were surprised that I got them to open up and talk about anything, let alone world issues, and many asked me "What did you do?" I respected them by asking what they thought, how they felt, and spoke their language. And I constantly went back in time to remind myself of what it was like when I was a teenager. That kept me humble!

So after nearly 3 months of; workshops, political discussions, Capoeira, soccer, bonfires, nature walks, and mountain trails, Contra Dances, Paneurythmy, Yoga, more ice cream than I have ever eaten in my life, 3 delicious and nutritious, mostly vegetarian meals a day (with many of the vegetables grown in and harvested from WF's garden), I am back in what some call "civilization."

With all that we see transpiring in our world, the time is right for all of us to begin to examine the way in which we live, and to ask ourselves if we are living a life that is truly in alignment with who we are, and what we value, and to begin to make necessary adjustments and changes before we are forced to do so.

Many Blessings and Peace,