Amplify Series: The Earthlodge Center for Transformation

Lift Up
“We didn’t fold, we flowered, guided by the visionary Harriet Tubman who made a way out of no way we are here today, ready for expansion and ascension our communities desire.”
– Iyatunde Folayan, Board Member of Earthlodge Center for Transformation
Dear Resister,
Two weeks ago we wrapped up our three-part conversation series #JusticeIsEssential.1 While touching on different topics, our guest speakers all maintained that folks on the ground responding to everyday struggles and moments of crisis are shifting the conditions that will move us all towards a world where justice, collective care, healing, and creativity exist in abundance.
Today, we’re amplifying the work of The Earthlodge Center for Transformation, an organization that provides healing sanctuary and Earth stewardship principles to queer, trans, elderly, womyn and girls, children particularly, Black, immigrant, and marginalized cultures and community in California.
Iyatunde is an artist, writer, healer, Daughter of water.
What impact does this work have on you? What small steps have you taken that have a big impact on your life and other people’s lives?
[Image description: (from left to right) Danielle Bradford with Earthlodge founder, Queen Hollins. In defense of Black Lives at the water post George Floyd’s murder, San Pedro, CA. Picture by Yardenna Aaron]

Due to the heightened state of violence and suffering our collective communities endured throughout 2020, The Earthlodge Center for Transformation had to make quick decisions as it was being urgently sought out, not only by its base of community members but by experts in the Healing Justice and mental health and wellness fields.

Our strategy of engagement during 2020 can be characterized as preservation, fortification, and resilience. Not wanting to be limited by fighting for what was right beneath our feet or settling for what was right in front of us, we dared to imagine ourselves outside the grip of oppression and projected ourselves and our legacy into a freedom future. We completed several major capital campaigns including the major restoration and reinforcement of our beloved Healing Earth Pit. Our lead construction crew members, Delia Ayala (Bruje Fuego) and Millo Huertas, flew in from Puerto Rico to teach our surrounding community of queer/trans/nonbinary families about SuperAdobe building techniques, the idea of building with materials right beneath your feet, using what you have and by your own hands. Our second construction crew, led by Luz Elena Henao and other queer and nonbinary folk completed the outdoor Compost Water Toilet Shed which will help us to recycle waste. We followed COVID guidelines closely throughout.

[Image description: Earthlodge members inside the Earth Pit. The Earth Pit was completed in part by funding from the Resist Foundation.]

With the onset of COVID and protests, we played multiple roles distributing warm meals for Bean and Rice Wednesdays for the food insecure, setting up the Earth School for parents uncertain of child-care and school schedules, and then responding to increased calls of our community in pain, we held consistent virtual weekend wellness seminars which featured grief and meditation circles, self-defense classes, immune-boosting Chinese medicine techniques and more.

Using nature as one of our greatest allies when facing the most disturbing realities of the time, we held healing ceremonies at the beach following the murder of George Floyd and sacred Altar Building and Tree Witnessing at the tree where Robert Fuller was hung that same summer in Palmdale, California.

We didn’t fold, we flowered. Guided by the visionary Harriet Tubman who made a way out of no way, we are here today, ready for the expansion and ascension our communities deserve.

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What narratives do you want to shift and why especially during this pandemic and as we imagine a post-pandemic future?

[Image description: Sacred altar-building and tree witnessing ceremony at the site of the tree where Robert Fuller was hung in Palmdale, CA.]

Old paradigms of working, living and existing must end in order for our lives to be sustainable. The centering of nature and integration and preservation of cultural, spiritual traditions are the key to the harmony and sustainability of our communities. We want to lift up and expand the power of the indigenous not only to mean those of First Nations but allow for the recognition of the “Black Indigenous” to the United States and the African indigenous upon whose teachings, wisdom, and knowledge we now rely on. Interdependence and mutual support of one another is a blueprint from our interwoven histories that we must now extract and build upon.

The past year has illustrated the willingness of our community to step up, play multiple roles with fewer resources and show even more compassion. During this period of uncertainty, we’ve had to look to one another, “settle our differences” and pull from what we thought we didn’t have but what has been there all along. We are wealthy beyond measure. This period during COVID and state violence only helped us to realign and dig deeper into our reservoir of people-powered solutions and ingenuity. This practice of “digging deep” has traditional Black indigenous roots that were familiar when we remembered stories our great grandmothers told us.

Moving toward the future yet connecting with the past is the African principle called Sankofa we find embedded in our work. Utilizing the “wealth” of multiple generations of wisdom and living combined with future visioning of legacies yet to arrive, we are able to step out of a mentality of fear and desperation into a roadmap designed for what is forthcoming. Another important observation is the more turbulent the times, the more reliant we became on our natural allies the Earth, trees, the Ocean, water, the Sun. As the country became more isolated from one another, we built deeper relations with the elements that have always been there to aid us in hard times. Making herbs that soothe respiratory issues, group healing at the Ocean; food growing during a time of food insecurity; tree witnessing during times of violence. We allowed nature to take a more central role in our lives and perform the healing work we needed to withstand the storm of 2020. These small steps moved us from a mindset of scarcity, disorganization, and fear to seeding our belief in the abundance of our community spirit, the people-powered communities, and our ability to protect, renew and preserve ourselves and our families.

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How can people get involved with your work?

[Image description: The last day of work for the community crew, joined by Earthlodge Gatekeepers to celebrate Delia’s birthday at the Earth Pit 2020.]
Visit our website www.earthlodgecenter.org
Follow us on social media at: @earthlodgecenter (Instagram) and www.facebook.com/earthlodgecenter
In solidarity,
Kathy
Director of Communications and Storytelling
p.s. There’s a new world coming; Resist grantees are on the ground, ensuring that. Join us in making their vision a reality and become a movement sustainer today.
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