Video Transcriptions

My name is Dominique. I am the founder of start the wave, an online community, and non-profit organization focused on empowering, supporting and uplifting positive change makers worldwide. We do that by funding action, amplifying voices that need to be heard and encouraging growth through education and healing. I’d also like to acknowledge that we are all currently on various different indigenous lands. I am in Montreal, which is situated on the traditional territory of the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka a place which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst many indigenous peoples, including the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Huron-Wendat, Abénakis, and Anishinaabe to recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation both to the land and to those whose territory we are on. It is so important to understand the longstanding history that has brought us here and seek to understand our place within that history so that we can restore justice and work towards reconciliation. Thank you so much and over to you, Geneva. Oh, sorry. Over to you, Valerie. My bad. Thank you, Dom. Yah, no problem.

For more than 5,000 years, the Himalayan mountains have been home to wise women and men, sages who taught the knowledge of yoga science to disciples who then became masters and teachers themselves. This unbroken Bharathi lineage is the meditation tradition passed through Swami Rama to Leonard and Jenness Perlmutter, Leonard and Jenness founded the American Meditation Institute in 1996. AMI is devoted to providing comprehensive training in yoga science, the world’s oldest, holistic mind, body medicine, and the core principle of every spiritual tradition. Yoga means union. Yoga science enables us to use our inner wisdom to guide our thoughts, words, and actions in the world. Our conscious mind sees everything is separate from each other, but our inner wisdom is a reflection of the superconscious mind that sees the underlying unity within the diversity. Meditation and contemplative practices are the paths to our own inner wisdom, the reflection of the One Supreme Intelligence. Our minds are capable of accessing this inner wisdom through the conscience. When we have a conscience that is not obscured, we can make decisions that are caring, considerate, and compassionate, not injurious harmful or violent.

January 2021 is the Second Annual National Conscience Month, an official observance originated by the American Meditation Institute. Its mission is to remind and encourage individuals across the nation to use their conscience as a guide in every level of decision-making. This webinar honors the importance of all these traditions as paths to oneness. The American Meditation Institute is pleased to participate with the Interfaith Center and Start the Wave in this important event. Thank you.

As so, hi everyone. My name is Geneva Blackburn and I’m the program director for the Interfaith Center located at the Miami University campus in Oxford, Ohio. The Interfaith Center is a safe, welcoming interfaith space, inviting our local and global communities to engage in dialogue, education and service. Our mission is to invite people from diverse, religious, spiritual, and secular traditions to participate in each other’s practices in order to cultivate appreciative understanding and friendships. We seek to unify people of all faiths and no faith around common, moral, social, and ethical concerns in order to build a more just and equitable society. With that in mind, I believe that transformation of the world inherently includes a radical transformation of self. The wisdom found in the many religious, spiritual, religious and spiritual traditions of the world has always pointed to the reality of interconnectedness and the root cause of suffering created by the solution of separateness.

J. Krishnamurti goes as far to say that “The religious mind is indistinguishable from the meditative mind, adopting content contemplative practices can cultivate the level of compassion necessary to vicariously accept the suffering of others as a room, and to understand what response is appropriate of us in each moment.” Father Richard Rohr writes that “When we experienced the reality of our oneness with God, others, and creation, actions of justice and healing naturally follow.” It is only by unlocking this compassion in each one of us that we may begin to eradicate rather than perpetuate systems of injustice and truly enact radical change, which is why I am honored to be here with all of you today in partnership with Start the Wave and the American Meditation Institute and with gratitude for all of the panelists who I look forward to hearing from shortly. And I’m going to hand it back over to Dom.

Thank you. How beautiful! Well said, very beautiful, thank you. Um, yeah, so, okay, today, uh, we’re going to be hearing from six wonderful humans who will be giving us their perspectives on meditation and its role and importance in today’s current climate. For anyone who’s watching and has never meditated before, um, meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought or activity to train attention and awareness and achieve a mentally clear and calm state. Many traditions and religions have meditative or contemplative practices. Each practice is different and there’s no one term that captures all the meanings and descriptions. So due to this limitation of language today, we will use meditation as a general and inclusive term. There are so many benefits to meditation. I can safely say from my own experience that the gifts that it continues to give are so vast and so numerous.

Um, but one of the advantages and the aspect that we are going to be exploring today is the direct path to the intuitive wisdom or divine knowledge that is available to all of us. Um, some people that may be listening today, um, may very well have heard me talk about the moment when I started following my gut, um, listening to that inner knowing in my own journey. And again, there are so many different terms to describe this rather magical and powerful experience, but when we strengthen our connection to this inner compass, we create a strong foundational relationship with our intuitive wisdom and it guides us, I believe, it guides us to where we need to be to fulfill our purpose in this lifetime, helping to see the world unified, the, the illusion of separation that creates the conditions for our destructive actions dissolves and in its place, we experience our interconnectedness and sense of oneness in today’s suffering world, where we are facing a global pandemic, climate chaos, and a whole range of other social issues, divisiveness and injustice.

It’s crucial that we share our tools with each other to help us return to these fundamental universal truths. I think it’s totally normal to be feeling overwhelmed right now. We’re experiencing unprecedented turmoil and collective trauma, but by finding ways to get out of our minds and into hot centered action, we can hopefully raise unity consciousness and bring about a new world. So without further ado, and enough for me, let’s get to these beautiful speakers. Firstly, we will hear from Reverend Will Rucker. Reverend Will Rucker passionately works to transform culture through compassion. As an author speaker, pastor and host of Compassionate Las Vegas, the podcast. Will is engaged in local statewide and national platforms advancing socio-spiritual transformational efforts in restorative justice, anti-racism, and Humanity First initiatives. Will believes that we are on the cusp of a global transformation in consciousness, like the world has never known and is dedicated to helping people through their spiritual awakening and into expanded levels of enlightenment, how beautiful. Over to you, Will.

Well, thank you so much. It is such a privilege and honor to be a part of this panel and to talk about what is one of my favorite subjects, which is really the centering practice of meditation. I come from the Christian tradition, though I am embracing all. And the more that I would tour in my faith, the more I recognize that there really is no distinction or difference between whether I’m Christian, the Buddhists, that it just doesn’t doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, we’re all really, uh, seeking the same aim. So when I approached this particular subject, I think back to Jesus and his 40 days in the wilderness. People wonder what was happening for 40 days, and I don’t know, but what I do suggest is that Jesus was having experience with himself. We know that he faced temptation and hunger and all the things that a human faces in any remote area for an extended period of time.

But I think that this is something that we can use as a template or as a guide for our own experience. I think back to my journey and my 40 days in the wilderness experience, which was really my, my time at Bible college and experiencing nothing, but theology, day in and day out, learning from my peers, learning from my instructors, having those experiential learning opportunities and really coming to the end of myself and recognizing, Oh my gosh, this is so much bigger than anything I ever thought or imagined. So for me in those days, when it was very difficult, when I was hungry, because I had chosen a fast or because to be candid, I was a Bible School student and didn’t have much money. So, you know, sometimes it was food or not. Uh, but during those times I was really able to, to come into myself and hear myself do what I consider meditation to be, which is really thinking. A lot of traditions offer the absence of thought.

And I think all of this works together, but for me, I go to Philippians, the fourth chapter, verse eight, and I’ll read it. It’s this: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever’s honorable, whatever’s just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable. If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” And so I really took that to heart and said, you know, I’m, I’m counseling someone who’s just lost a child, but I’m going to think on the things that are lovely, because losing the child is traumatic and counseling a couple that’s going through a divorce due to infidelity or some other cause, this is a traumatic experience, but I’m going to think on something that’s lovely. And as I continued to explore this practice for myself, firstly, do to stay centered and to stay, Um, really just in a place where I could be of service and then branching that out to others.

What I discovered is that there’s beauty in even the tragedies and that there’s beauty in something lovely and something pure and something Holy and even the most heinous of events because when we get right down to it, all that truly is, is love. And when we expand our view and our consciousness, we begin to see that our entire planet, as massive as we believe it is, is but one tiny cell in the body of the universe. And so putting these things into perspective is truly mind boggling for me. And in this time in Bible school, I really did feel like I was in the wilderness because my consciousness was expanding. And I didn’t know what to do with that. I didn’t understand that I could think certain thoughts that I was thinking or have experiences that I was experiencing because they were just outside of my norm.

And when I began to grow and try new things, it was scary. It was frightening. And then it was peaceful when I embraced it and begin to just let go and to simply be in whatever that thing was that was happening. And so I also think about the aspect of silence in this, because during these times I would call out to God and say, give me an answer, help me with this problem. I need something to say, I need something to do. And the answer was simply silence. And so all of this together has brought me to the place where I am today, where meditation is a part of my regular routine. I do meditative yoga in the morning and I incorporate stretching and, and all of these things to awaken and become aware of my physical body, as well as my energetic and emotional bodies and the thoughts that I’m thinking.

So I take that time every day now as part of my practice. And I used to take that time for what would be traditionally known as prayer and I still pray. And I still believe that prayer is amazing and powerful and wonderful, and is a contemplative practice. You can do prayer in a contemplative way. And when I brought in that term, it just became more inclusive. I was able to experience something at a greater, deeper, more intimate level. And I’ll close with this final thought. When I spend time in these meditative practices, as I spend time simply becoming aware of how I’m feeling, what I’m experiencing, what I’m thinking. When I think about what I’m thinking about, when I observe my thoughts, what I begin to recognize is that my eye and God’s eye are the same and that I am observing myself in the same way that God observes me and the scriptures tell us that it’s in Jeremiah before “I formed you in your mother’s womb.

I knew you,” and this is bigger than just the, Oh, I knew you were coming. Or I knew I was going to make you or anything like that. When you really dive into what’s being communicated in that passage, what you discover is that knowing that word I knew you really means I was you. I am you. And so God and I in this practice of consciousness simply exist in the space of being one being, one entity, one consciousness. And it brings a peace that is beyond comprehension. It brings a joy that doesn’t require happiness to accompany it or pleasurable things to be involved. And really what it brings is a sense of contentment where I am is enough. And so my mantra daily is “I am enough just as I am.” And so I’ll close with the final scripture, which is found in first John, the fourth chapter. And it says, “As Jesus is, so are we in this world.” And so with that idea, that thought want to thank you for listening and I’m looking forward to the other presentations.

Thank you. Well, okay. So next up we have Murshida Stephanie Nuria Sabato. If any of your names are mispronounced, um, professor and Pir-o-Murshid educator designer uh, world traveler, Servant of God and a Sufi messenger. As Pir-o-Murshid, having trained and having training and title from Murshid Hidayat Inayat-Khan son of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Nuria has also been initiated by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and His Excellency Khamtrul Rinpoche, her personal Buddhist teacher. Thank you,

Brings a tear to my eye, the great, good fortune that I’ve had in this life. I want to talk about what’s up right now for me, and maybe that will illuminate some things for others. I think what we’re talking about here is we’re all seeking union. We’re seeking connectedness and more so now than ever. Uh, some of us are in isolation and we’re reaching out really. I want to say, take that finger reaching out and turn it right in here, right into the heart. The very heart of our being is really where we need to go. Years ago, I had, uh, taken up, um, an opportunity to go on retreat in the Swiss Alps of all places talk about being in the wilderness, because it was a very remote place. There were other fellow and sister, uh, Sufis gathered there, but I was taking the opportunity for an individual retreat.

Now me who thinks the Holiday Inn is really roughing. It took a tent, pitched it in a thunderstorm and lightning storm rain storm and decided I needed to go do this and go inward in the most, uh, inclement circumstance, there was an inner voice and Rev. Will you talked about that? And that inner voice was saying, build the sanctuary within. So I was feeling a little helpless in regard to the elements and, and I was sort of looking externally maybe for help or some sort of grounding, but it wasn’t there. The voice was saying, build the sanctuary within. And that’s the whole point. You can go to Switzerland, you can go to India, you can go to wherever, but it is ultimately within. And that’s where we want to turn and go to.

So interestingly enough, it’s kind of my natural inclination to turn within. Uh, I I’m also can be extroverted for the benefit of the world or for whatever I’m trying to accomplish, but I can very much and enjoy. That’s probably my safe places within. From the time I was a child. I found solitude in play at prayer and reflection, the great Haven, these three lead to a deeper kind of meditation. Um, of course, as it is said, every religious tradition has a method, gives us a method for building the sanctuary within and developing a meditative contemplative practice. And again, all towards, I believe towards the aim of experiencing union. So what I want to speak about right today is kind of what’s up for me in this moment. And that is, there is a Sufi prayer that I have said every day since I was an initiate.

So for decades, and you know how that is, sometimes there is a line to something that just starts popping up and you’re not working it, it’s working you well. I want to read these lines because this prayer has just keeps going over the first few lines over and over and over in my head. It wakes me up at night and it’s, it’s doing me and I see it outwardly manifest and also see or notice when I’m not so tuned into it. So it’s a good, uh, biofeedback mechanism for me. The prayer is the morning prayer of the Sufi lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan. The prayer is called Som. I’ll read the lines, and then I want to go through the, what I am experiencing as the deeper meaning, because I feel this in and of itself is a meditation. So the prayer goes through this.

This is just the first two lines. “Praise be to thee, most Supreme God, omnipotent, omnipresent, all pervading. The only being.” When I think praise be to thee praise, be to thee, it’s an exultation. It hoists my consciousness upward. It’s this Alleluia, this is al-ḥamdu lillāh, the Sufis may say, and it is praise due to thee, not praise be to me. So always thinking in terms of a Tibetan, you know, sort of philosophy, what is sitting at the center of the Mandalah is that ourselves and self thinking, or is it thee, whatever that thee is for you, and then the next line, omnipotent omnipresent, all pervading, the only being. Omnipotent, think of that. Thee, thee T H E E having unlimited power. I trust my, I put my faith in that. What can, what can worry me? What can hurt me, not even death. It will carry me to thee and omnipotent able to do anything, all powerful, almighty Supreme, putting one’s faith and relaxing, falling into it.

Like, uh, here, I’m living in Florida, right on the beach. And people are swinging in the hammocks between the coconut trees like that, falling away into that beautiful experience of understanding that, although I may not be out all powerful and unlimited, I can tune to that, which is, and then omnipresent everywhere all the time, time, all enveloping all at the same time and everything. God is in that everything, all pervading spreading through and in everything again. And now we get to important. The only being. The only being and Rev. Will pointed to this there’s one being the illusion is it’s you it’s me. It’s them, it’s it. No one single one, only one being, and this is manifest everywhere and we can see it everywhere and we can recognize it everywhere if we train ourselves. So another person is just part of that only being in that last scriptural reading of Reverend Will.

I know you before you were born, how is that even possible? It’s possible because we are part of that same thing and we’re all interconnected in that way. So just, I have no idea of my time. Someone might have to just shut me off and that’s fine, but there’s a few more lines that says, take me in thy parental arms, that reliance, that surrender, that, um, confidence that there’s something there that I can rely on. And it’s parental and parental for some may not be such a comfort, but in this bigger meaning, it’s that being that protects us, that loves us. That cares for us, gives us sympathy, compassion, understanding, knowledge. And then the last line. This is just the first few lines of this prayer, or raise us from the denseness of the earth. Hello, brothers and sisters. Amen. Turn on the news. There’s a lot of denseness.

We all want to be uplifted because as we uplift ourselves, we have the potential to inspire and uplift others. And so raise us up, lift our consciousness, elevate our awareness, our understanding, help us move beyond self limiting thoughts, because sometimes I’m seeing someone and I’m thinking a lot. I don’t know about that person. I don’t know what they think. And then I think, Oh yeah, where’s the prayer. Go back to the prayer. Remember the only being, don’t separate. Now there’s a line that I want to leave you with because I think it’s all headed towards turning within, finding the voice within which others have said already listening, listening carefully. When we have to be quiet, I need to do that soon to hear that. But there’s another line that Hazrat Inayat Khan gives us. And it’s called thy light is in all forms thy love in all beings. But if you don’t remember one other word, I said, just remember two words, light, let light illuminate your path. Let outwardly, but inwardly and love. Let love be your guide and your touchstone. God bless everyone. Praise God. I’m so happy to be here with all of you. Thank you so much.

Thank you. Okay. Next we are going to Leonard Perlmutter. Oh, I can hear myself in my headphones. Okay. We’re good. Leonard Perlmutter is a noted author, philosopher and the founder of the American Meditation Institute and National Conscience Month observance. Since 2009, his comprehensive foundation program on yoga science as holistic mind, body medicine has been certified for physicians and nurses by the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association over to you Leonard.

Thank you very much, Tom. Appreciate it. And I too, I’m honored to be here to join, uh, this beautiful little panel. I’ve always been a since early childhood, a very philosophical and practical. That seems to have been, uh, uh, two, uh, guideposts that have, uh, led my journey. And so today, uh, I wanted to take a few moments of my time to go through a, a short PowerPoint of the practical nature of yoga science. So I’m going to try to share my screen okay. And hopefully everybody can see that. And so interestingly, yoga is a science of experiencing unity, of experiencing this oneness.

So it starts really, uh, with the law of karma and understanding the importance of our thoughts, which is our most, our greatest resource, our thoughts. So as it turns out, and we all know this, this is all fifth grade science, every thought leads to an action. And every action brings about a consequence and that can lead us in one direction or another all the time in every relationship. And gosh, our whole life is relationship. We have a relationship with our thoughts, our desires, our emotions with human beings, with animals, with plants, with minerals, with the universe. So it’s important to understand what pulse drives you. In other words, what are you looking for in life? What is the consequence that you want every action to lead you closer and closer to what is your goal of life?

So that answer can be manifold, but most of us want to be happy. We want to be healthy. We want to be secure. And we want to experience some form of unity, some form of oneness, and that’s perfectly legitimate. Why not? So the, the only question on a practical level is, uh, answered through with the language of algebra X it’s unknown. What’s going to get us to point B from point A. Well, we already know what the answer is from the law of karma. It’s our thoughts, our words, and our actions. That’s what leads us to our goal or we’ll delay the prospect. And that brings out us to a, working definition of yoga. Yoga is both a, a scientific and a philosophical bridge that can helps us inspires us, instructs us to base our thoughts, our words, and our actions with our own inner, intuitive wisdom. And the promises that if we do that, if we base our thoughts, our words, and our actions on our own inner, intuitive wisdom, the consequence is going to enable us to fulfill the purpose of our lives without pain, without misery and without bondage.

So how do we, how do we reach that inner wisdom? How do we contact that inner wisdom? Well, it’s interesting if, if we have, uh, uh, a problem, um, most of the times we engage the senses and we look outside for some answer. So if I’m cold, I might look for a coat or I might turn up the heat, but there are problems where the answer lies within the problem. That would be like a jigsaw puzzle. Oh yes. The jigsaw puzzle is the problem, but the jigsaw puzzle is also the solution. So from a yoga perspective, we want to be happy. We want to be healthy. We want to be secure. We want to experience unity with the Supreme Intelligence. How are we going to get to point B from point A, we are going to do that by using this instrument, using this mind body sense complex. And interestingly, part of this mind, body sense complex within this matrix of our reality of me.

We have equipment that can receive inner wisdom from the center of consciousness. We call it the conscience. Okay. So the conscience operates as a mirror. It has the capacity to reflect perfect wisdom from the superconscious portion of the mind, and it can reflect it into our conscious mind. Now, this is very important to be able to see that because if we don’t have this bridge, if we don’t rely on our own inner wisdom, we create and maintain conflict between inner wisdom and outer action. Oh, and inner conflict. That’s the mother of all problems. If there’s going to be conflict in my mind, there has to be conflict outside of my mind in interpersonal relationships, within my own body.

But if I can ameliorate the inner conflict, I also make it impossible for there to be outer conflict. So from a yoga perspective, from a yoga perspective, the key is to coordinate all the functions of the mind because the mind moves first, then the body follows and the consequences follow from those actions. So we know what kind of consequences we’re looking for. We want to be happy, healthy, secure, and we want to experience oneness in unity. So what we need to do is we need to coordinate these functions of the mind and to do that we have to take actions. So here’s a wheel and it’s an, it’s an analogy for the body. And we want that wheel to turn, but the wheel cannot turn. Why not? Has no spokes has no spokes, but if we put spokes in the wheel, theoretically, it should be able to rotate. Okay. So it can do that. That’s great. So what are the spokes that animates the body that takes the action that brings about the consequence? Well, that is the four functions of the mind. The first of which are the senses and logic, which is constantly, this function of the mind is constantly asking us the question. Should I do it? Or should I not do it? Should I do it? Or should I not do it?

And it engages the senses into the world to look and smell and taste and hear and touch and bring back information into our awareness, into our consciousness so that we can decide whether we should do it, or should we not do it? That’s the first function of the mind. The second function of the mind is the ego. The ego always walks around with something like a chainsaw strapped on its hip. And it’s already dividing things up into two pairs of opposites. Oh, this is good. Let’s reprise this pleasure. And this is bad. Let’s avoid that. But we already know from our own personal experience, that, which is pleasant, is pleasant isn’t always good for us that, which is unpleasant isn’t always bad for us. So what we’re seeing that both with the senses and logic and ego, and also with the unconscious mind, the third function, these are limited perspectives, limited perspectives. They’re not always wrong. I mean, we all need, uh, uh, a strong ego to be able to operate technology, to drive an automobile. We need a healthy ego for our whole lifetimes. We don’t want to get rid of the ego life is to be enjoyed. Why would we want to deny the senses? And sometimes the unconscious mind has some, uh, important information for us.

So the census and logic receive information, the ego, what brings information and the unconscious mind weighs in and in preparation for an action of the logic and senses, then presents limited perspective of the census of the ego and of the unconscious mind and says, look here we have two choices right now we have alternative a with these consequences and we have alternative B with these consequences kindly make a decision and take an action. And this repeats and repeats and repeats because the logic senses are constantly asking us, should I do it or should I not do it? And if I don’t answer the question and I don’t make a decision, well, the question keeps on coming, keeps on coming. Should I do it? Should I not do what? Should I do it? Or should I not do it? Oh, it drains my battery. I get exhausted.

Don’t I? And so gee uh, uh, I have a friend, uh, I’ll ask my friend. This person is a very sweet, loving, considerate kind person, very knowledgeable. Maybe my friend can help me make a decision, but the truth is that my friend, uh, has the same kind of issue going on in their mind. So let’s take a look at this schematic. We have the senses and that limited information, we have the ego and that limited information and the unconscious and that information to in order to make a decision. But fortunately we have one more spoke and that is the key. That’s the key. That’s our conscience. Our conscience is the only function of the mind that can discriminate, determine, judge and decide the only function of the mind. And it’s up to us to parent the senses, the ego, the unconscious mind to support this old knowing wisdom that is reflected by the conscience, because what does it reflect? It reflects the superconscious wisdom of the unicity. It reflects the wisdom of the super conscious portion of the mind. That is part of the definition of the Supreme intelligence that we refer to as G O D.

So through our meditation practice, this focusing of all of our mental energy, we gained skills so that we can coordinate the functions of the mind so that the ego senses and unconscious mind increasingly reflect our and our partners with the wisdom that is reflected by our conscience. So we gained the skill and the tool of one point that attention we gain the scoop, the skill of detachment. We create spaces between stimulus and response. Unlike what the culture is, uh, serving for us, we gain discrimination because we’re continuously using our conscience clearing that, that mirror. And we increase the muscles of our willpower to do what’s to be done, but not to do what’s not to be done. And we have enhanced confidence. Don’t wait, and we have the ability to solve problems. Like we never thought we could. And not only is our mental capacity more flexible, but that means that our physicality is more flexible. And our immune system is stronger as we continuously engage in transforming stress into strength. So that’s something that’s practical, it’s philosophical, it’s scientific. And I wanted to share it with you today. Thank you very much.

Wow. That was fantastic. Thanks you Leonard. It was so interesting. It’s like glued to the presentation and yeah, it was really wonderful to see it sort of laid out like that and in such a clear way, uh, sometimes it can get very busy up there. And I think it’s really difficult sometimes to understand which part of the mind is talking to you. And often I’m trying to figure out whether it’s the ego part or whether it’s, you know, so it’s just like being able to see it. Like that was really helpful. I very much appreciate the time and effort you put into preparing that for us. Okay, where are we, here we go. Okay. So next up we, Katie Breslin, Katie Breslin is a Quaker writer and advocate for peace and justice issues. Katie writes about issues related to religion, culture and technology. She is currently a seminary student at Earlham School of Religion, where she is studying Quaker ministry before coming to seminary. Katie worked in Faith Based Advocacy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Legislation, F C N L, and Catholics for Choice at FCNL. Katie led the work of engaging young people to lobby Congress on peace and justice issues. Thank you, Katie, over to you. Thank you so

Much. And it’s been such a joy to hear all of my panelists and to have you Dominique, as our moderator. So thanks to everyone who has been participating and being part of this process, it’s been really great to be part of it. Uh, I found I’m not a, uh, born Quaker. I’m a convinced friend is what they call us. And I became convinced when I started working for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Um, I was already working in Catholic organizing. Um, I was raised Catholic, but at the time of my life, I started working for FCNL. I was experiencing some, um, issues around identity, and I came out as a queer person and I was literally looking for a spiritual home. And so, uh, it was really convenient that I was working with the Quakers because my life had been so chaotic. I lived in DC.

I was constantly out at happy hours doing lots of different organizing things. And I never really spent a lot of time centering and listening to myself and listening to the voice of others. Um, and so when I started hanging out with the friends, uh, by working for them, I learned a little bit more about friends practice. We would start our meetings with a few seconds of silence. We would, uh, friends practice and worship in silence, um, as part of their worship services. And I learned in these spaces and these corporate spaces where I was able to sit in silence with other people, which is something I’d never experienced before, you know, sitting in silence for an hour. That was something that was totally new to me. And it made me so anxious. And I was wondering, why does this make me so anxious to be alone?

And with my own thoughts, with all these incredible people that I trust. And so I would practice and I would sit in silence and when I would work with my colleagues and I really deeply appreciate what Quakers believe they believe that there’s that of God in each person. And when I took that, when I was able to center that in my worship, I was able to bring that out, not only in that worshiping space, but in the ways that I navigated the world. And I think that worship for me is also my place where I can dream about a more just world. And so the organization I used to work for, uh, they believe in the, we seeks, we seek a free of war and the threat of war, we seek a society and earth restored. You know, these are really things that I wanted to see in this world too, but I was often too busy, too busy doing other things, too busy, worrying about my to-do list to really center and think about what this world can actually look like.

And so that slow down, uh, that, um, desire to really be able to dream was really the center reason why I became a convinced friend. And so I started going to meeting, that’s what we call church here in Quaker world, uh, or friends world. Um, and I started to meet incredible people and it was those incredible people and worshiping with them and being vulnerable with them is really what brought me a little bit closer to what I think of as the divine. And so I started to see the divine in everyday actions. I started to see the divine and how we look at stories, how we interact with one another. And so my spiritual practice was not just that 15 or 20 minutes of silence or that hour of worship every Sunday. It was an every action that I was doing throughout my life, but I needed that spiritual practice regularly in order to be able to do that.

And so I was really grateful for the opportunity to move from DC to Indiana a total culture shift, but I’m really grateful to be here in Indiana and the Hoosier state, um, where I was able to be among other friends and to really study this long history of Quakers and other religions, um, really in these contemporative practices. And so during the pandemic, of course, a lot of us felt really separate. Uh, but Quakers were meeting on zoom and doing worships every day. And it was really actually an opportunity for me to reconnect with different friends communities that I had so missed. I think when we talk a lot about the self and like how we experienced it in meditation, but for me, the corporateness of it, the ways that we are able to connect through worship and through meditation and through, you know, this, uh, collective desire to change the world, that’s really where, you know, that’s where really where I believe God is, uh, for me.

And so I was really grateful, um, that during the pandemic, I picked up a daily practice of meditation. I really calmed and centered me. Um, and I knew that there were other friends that were doing the same. And so I’ve just been really grateful. It’s changed my life. I, you know, not to be cliche, but I think that it’s true that, um, you know, for those of us that are especially interested in social change, uh, it’s really important to take a step back and to think about what are, what are we, what do we want to see in this world? And so that’s, that’s really what brought me here. So thank you for this.

Oh, that’s so beautiful. Thank you, Katie. Before we move on, I just want to touch on something that you said. Um, I think it’s really normal for a lot of people to be fearful of silence. And so, um, in fact, I’ve met people that have said, like, I’m, I’m quite scared of silence. What would you say to people that are really scared of that silence? Um, and, and not used to, you know, taking some time and being completely quiet,

I have really struggled with it so much. And, you know, I, uh, used to mentor a program of young adults who would go into Quaker worship for the first time. And it was terrifying. It would be like we were going to be in silence for an hour and then Quaker worship. Sometimes people speak out of the silence if we believe that God is speaking to them to share a message to the community, but sometimes you’re in an hour worth of silence. And that can be really terrifying if you have 15 minutes alone in your head, seems like a lot. Yeah. So I it’s really, and so what I would do is I would recommend that they would take, um, a pad of paper, um, to sometimes to help, uh, write out their thoughts if that was, um, being really distracting. Um, but I would also say, and I would just be empathetic and say, it’s, it is really hard.

Like we, aren’t taught to sit in silence often here in the United States, at least in our context in Western society. And so, you know, it’s okay if it is hard and, you know, and that’s why, you know, little practices of five to 10 minutes oftentimes really helps. And that’s why I think because of the practice of, uh, where I worked, that we had, you know, five minutes of silence before a meeting, I was really able to build up my capacity to be able to sit in that hour long silence. So it’s, sometimes it is really painful still, but I think, um, having little tools like paper and otherwise could be,

Yeah, I love that. That’s, that’s so such a good idea that having just a paper and pen next to you, just to be able to jot anything down that, that, uh, that comes up, this feeling of overwhelming and then also the ability to like reference back to it later. Um, yeah, I think it, I think, uh, in today’s world where we have like so many different distractions all the time and things popping up notifications on our phone and our computer and stuff, it’s so unusual to actually go inside and take that, that moment for ourselves and, and go into silence. So, um, I really appreciate your, uh, tips for, for everyone who is watching at home.

Can I just comment on that

For a moment? Yeah, of course.

Okay. I’ll try to be as quick as possible. And that is that, uh, it’s critically important that we examine every fear that comes into our awareness. You know, what President Roosevelt said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And yet fear is a resource. It’s a resource, it’s all energy. Uh, and in most cases, uh, it’s a debilitating contractive force, but it can be transformed into, uh, a, an expansive force. Right? We learned that again in fifth grade science class energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but it can be transformed. So the two faces of fear are number one, I’m afraid I might not get what I want or two I’m afraid I might lose what I have. And it’s important to understand which is which, and if, if I am, uh, uh, in a, uh, uh, a Quaker, uh, uh, service and I’m aware of fear, I can deal with that fear, not necessarily immediately in that situation, but it’s a tip off to me that, that there is fear that often trumps my inner wisdom. And so I look for small seemingly insignificant little worries that seemed to trip me up or hijack me during the day. And I deal with them because they’re relatively easy for me. But the more that I deal with those relative easy things, when something more powerful comes along, I have the energy, the willpower and the creativity to deal with it.

Wow. Yeah. So when you say that you can like transmute fear into, how can you just explain a little further, like how that happens? Like, I don’t remember my fifth grade science, unfortunately. Um, and yeah, just for anyone else.

That’s a great question. Terrific question. So energy cannot be created. It can’t be destroyed, but it can be transformed. And through the human being, the mechanism for transformation is sacrifice, sacrifice, go back to the Latin and the Italian sacrificare to make it sacred. This is my sacred energy. It is coming to me in an improper debilitating form. If I keep on dancing with it the same way it’s going to cause me more and more and more pain. So what the Supreme intelligence is bringing it to me for is so that I can recognize that it’s an improper form and sacrifice it, offer it back to the origin from which it has come, Oh, dear Lord, dear Jesus, dear Allah, dear divine mother. I have no use for this. I hear you through my conscience, that this is not going to help my path reach the goal of unity. So I’m offering it to you and as I sacrifice it, it’s automatically transformed into strategic reserves of energy, willpower, and creativity that are deposited in my unconscious mind that I can use at any time in any relationship. So it’s an asset.


I’m, I’m, I’m going to chime in. I’m going to chime in here from a, from a Buddhist perspective, which I have a lot of training in. If there’s a, the highest tantric, yoga tells us to take all of those emotions and see them as pure energy. So the fear that whatever it is, you take it, you see it as pure energy. This is exactly what you’re saying, Leonard, but here is a very practical way in which my mother would give me advice. If something’s bothering you, take the energy and go clean out your closet, go rake the leaves, go shovel some snow, use the energy in a productive way. And therefore, like Leonard said, you’re transforming it. And pretty soon you will see the mind becomes clear and the issues begin to resolve themselves. The answers will come that you take the energy and you use it in a very productive way. And you’ll see what happens. It’s simple, but it’s direct. And it’s practical, practical, be practical. I’m always saying demystified, the mys mysterious and the mystical.

So that’s selfless act. First, we have to let go of what we’re holding onto. We have to let go of the fear, the anger, the selfish desire, all of the, all of our human emotions, every single human emotion comes to us with the purpose of bringing us nothing other than love. But if I ignorantly think that I am a separate human being that love from at an em for many emotion, morphs into desire for something outside of me. And therefore I say, I love you. I love the movie. I love the book, right? And if that desire is fulfilled right away, I’m afraid I might lose what I have. And if the desire is blocked, I’m angry. So the desire, the fear and the anger all come from my own ignorance, my own mental ignorance because of the gift of emotion is all about love. The most ancient traveler that travels from eternity to eternity. And now it is coming through this human being.

Wow, so much food for thought. Um, we’re going to come back to this, but first I want us to hear from our final speaker today, Brad Warner is the author of Letters to a Dead Friend about Zen, Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up, Don’t Be a Jerk and several other books. He was ordained a Zen Buddhist monk by Gudo Nishijima Roshi. He grew up in Akron, Ohio, and Nairobi, Kenya. He has practiced Zen for over 30 years. He plays bass in the hardcore punk punk band, Zero Defects. And for 11 years, he worked in Japan for the company, founded by creator of Godzilla. He’s appeared in the film, Zombie Bounty Hunter MD. And there is a documentary documentary about him titled Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen. What an amazing intro, Brad, over to you.

Hi. Yeah, you read the whole intro. I usually send it when I send it out. I send like the short version and the long version that you read the long version. So I’m always a little embarrassed. So, uh, let me see if I can, uh, find a way into, to start what I want to say in the Zen tradition. There is a thing called the, the four bodhisattva vows, which are beings are numberless. I vow to save them. Delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them. Dharma Gates are boundless. I vow to enter them the Buddhist ways unsurpassable, I vow to become it. That’s the normal translation, but the one that always hangs everybody up is beings are numberless. I vow to save them. And I heard this for a long time and came, came to the point where I was even a teaching Zen.

And I didn’t have a good way to, I tried various ways to try to explain it a take on this. And then this guy named Rob, who comes to our Zen classes, or it came as this like 15 years ago or something said, uh, I vow to save all beings from myself. And I thought, ah, that’s it. That’s the, uh, that is the essence of the bodhisattva vow. And that is how meditation is a way to sort of help the world. Uh, not that I vow to save all beings by being Superman and going out and rescuing them from something. But I vow not to be, uh, to be the problem. I vow to save all beings from myself. So I got into Zen practice kind of accidentally. I was a student at Kent State University in Ohio in the early eighties. And I had, as the bio says, had grown up partly in Nairobi, Kenya and had been exposed to Indian cultures, lot huge, uh, Indian element in, in Kenya and all over East Africa.

And I had this idea that I wanted to study some kind of Indian philosophy when I was at university. And the only thing I could find on the syllabus was a not for credit program, which tells you what Ohio culture was like in the early eighties, you didn’t get credit for studying Zen Buddhism. There was a class called Zen Buddhism, uh, but it was not for credit. So it doesn’t even appear on my college transcripts. And so I took this class and being that it was the only thing that was close enough to what I wanted to study in Indian philosophy. Um, you know, knowing that Zen was a sort of a Japanese permutation of, of an Indian philosophy. That’s, that was the sum total of my knowledge of Zen. And when I got to this class, uh, the, the instructor who was a guy named Tim McCarthy is still a friend of mine and became my first Zen teacher read, uh, the Heart Sutra, which is a very famous, uh, Sutra in, uh, in the Buddhist tradition, in the Zen tradition, which has the line in it form is emptiness.

Emptiness is form. And I just remember when I heard that form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Um, I thought, well, this is it, this I’ve this. I have no idea what this means, but this is the thing I want to study. You know, I wanna, I want to figure out what this, what this means. And, uh, Tim taught a, uh, style of meditation called Shikantaza, which is a fancy Japanese way of saying just sitting. But when it says, just sitting, it isn’t just sitting like mum, just sitting, it means just sitting, doing nothing but sitting. So it’s a, it’s a form of meditation in which you’re not trying to do anything. You’re not trying to become enlightened. You’re not trying to become a better person. You’re not trying to steal your mind. You know, anything you can think of that you might be attempting to do with meditation is just out the window.

You’re just trying to sit still, uh, nothing, but sit still for the allotted time that you are given to sit still. Uh, you would think that you would exhaust that practice pretty quickly, but it’s been Jesus. Well, I guess I started in 1983 and I can’t do math quickly in my head, but it’s been a long time, you know, several decades of doing this and I still have yet to, to master just sitting. Uh, I, um, I think it’s a really important, uh, practice. Um, and it, it enables one to eventually come to see the unity of things without necessarily being informed of it. Of course, there’s a certain amount of philosophy and stuff that you learn along the way, but in the tradition, we don’t even consider it that, that important it’s, it’s important, but it’s not a supremely important to study the philosophy.

It’s much more important to do the practice. So by doing this practice day after day, what I discovered was it, it, uh, it made me feel better. And, uh, I wasn’t initially committed, uh, to Zen practice. I didn’t go into this going on. I’m going to become a Zen master or something like that, or a monk. Um, but I, at this practice that I learned in this class, in, in university, I thought, well, this is good. And I just kept doing it day after day. And what sort of convinced me of the practice eventually was that a few times I’d be like, well, yeah, I’m not really going to be ever become a monk or anything. So I quit know I just stopped doing it. And things just got weirder and weirder for me, every time I would stop doing it. And it took me God, four or five times of, of this same thing happening where I go, where I go, well, what is lacking in my life?

And I go, well, I’m not meditating anymore. I’m not doing that Zaza and every morning anymore. So I’d go back to it. And it eventually became something a habit. And I, I think the best analogy is like brushing your teeth in the morning. I, you know, when you first learned to brush your teeth, usually it’s a parent sort of forcing you into it and forcing the brush into your mouth and, and making you do it and yelling at you if you don’t do it. But after a while, you start to see if you’re a reasonably intelligent person, I suppose that, uh, the brushing your teeth is actually, um, something you want to do. Uh, and you don’t really think of it that much, but you never want to start a day without doing it. And that’s the way I feel about Zaza. And I never want to start a day anymore without doing Zaza and for at least 30 or 40 minutes, and that’s become my practice. And, uh, I think that’s my five minutes. So there you go.

Wonderful. Thank you so much. Uh, yes, field, uh, persuading at the beginning, uh, and it still shows up for me, but the getting to the point where you really, you know, it’s benefits. And so even when your brain is saying, I don’t want to do this reminding us of to come back to that practice and, um, is a big journey, I would say for lots of people, um, and probably is ongoing. I don’t know, actually, maybe you’d like to speak to that if anyone feels called, but I, I know that a lot of, a lot of people that have spoken to me about meditation, um, find it to be very difficult to develop that, um, ongoing routine and that, that, um, committed practice daily. Um, are you all so, uh, experienced in the world of meditation that it just comes naturally to you now? Or is that still, does that still show up for you?

Well, I can, I can, I can answer. Uh, I hate it a lot of the times, I just don’t want to do it, you know, even after all these years, I get up in the morning and go, uh, but, but I do it anyway. My, my first teacher had told me once that the best thing to do, if you have a problem is to sit with it and I would go, Oh, yeah, right. But I found that that was the best thing. And it’s helped me through a lot of the more, uh, really seriously difficult, uh, portions of my life, just sitting and, and, uh, not even trying to do anything about it, just sitting and being with it, not thinking about it necessarily, but just being with, so yeah, I, I, I

Make myself do it all the time, you know, but I do it. Yeah. I think it’s nice to, to hear that, uh, it’s not uncommon to have those, those struggles and that we need to work through that. Um,

So it’s a, uh, it’s a, uh, a journey and until the last breath of life, uh, my greatest inspirations, uh, took place, uh, on the cross of Jesus’s crucifixion. And, uh, a thought comes into his awareness of fear and another one of anger. And he yells out to the old man upstairs. Why have you forsaken me? Totally loses it. And then he, uh, uh, observes it from a more of a detached perspective, I believe a higher perspective and sees that he had made a misstep and he sacrificed it. And through that sacrifice, even on the cross, it increased his capacity to see things as they are to see the truth. And then only then was he able to speak the words, forgive them father for they know not what they do. It’s a process. Some days it’s challenging. Sometimes it’s like silk, that’s the nature of the mind.

It’s a journey and it’s a process. Absolutely. Okay. This is a question for anyone who feels called to answer, um, how do it’s, it’s coming from an audience and, but how do we balance rational, almost scientific thoughts that lead to doubt without having with, um, sorry, that lead to doubt with having a spiritual life. So I’m just going to repeat that question. So how do we balance rational almost scientific thoughts that lead to doubt with having a spiritual life?

Doubt is part of this is part of spiritual life, uh, doubt is excellent. I’m a doubting Thomas. That’s why I’m a practical person. I, uh, here’s an interesting little quick story. Uh, I was raised in the Jewish tradition. So about 20 or 20 years ago, there was a new book that came out. It was sort of, uh, encyclopedic. It was called the Jewish Book of Why Oh. So, uh, I bought it and, uh, uh, I was, I was thrilled that, uh, finally I get some answers and, uh, uh, I was leafing through it, leafing through it, leafing through it. And it was a whole series of questions and answers, questions, and answers, lots of different questions, but really every answer was the same. And the answer was something like, because rabbi thus and such in 1650 said, so, Oh, I said, really well, that wasn’t good enough for this doubting Thomas.

It was all hearsay. So, uh, I, I, I began to think about, uh, my experience in education, uh, being educated as a young person and, and, and the best education that I felt that I ever got was when I was in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, uh, because it taught me skills for life that I could apply. In fact, in the Boy Scouts, the motto was be prepared. So I once asked my scout master be prepared for what, and he looks at me and he says, how would I know that’s why you have to be prepared because you never know what life is going to bring you

May I just interject for a moment. One of my spiritual guide said the whole of the spiritual path is attempting to reconcile those things, which appear to be irreconcilable. So that is the path that’s kind of the thing that can lift us up and wrestling with those is actually very good for us. And as Brad said, just sit with it, don’t try to change it. Acceptance and surrender are very key on the path. And this is from one that, yeah, it takes a lot of things into her own hands, but it’s also knowing that it’s not me. Like I have to turn to that power. That’s ultimately within as God as a guide, but reconciling that, which is irreconcilable it’s the whole of spiritual life is like that, that’s it definitely.


If I could add something. Of course. I think a lot of about, uh, in this question, um, I think a lot about the history of social change movements here in the United States. And a lot of some times what you’ll see is that often there are religious movements that are part of them. And the reason why is because being part of a religious community for many people is a way of continuing, um, that resilience. And, and I think that the community, part of our worship is really important for that. So when we’re thinking about doubt, uh, I know that there are moments that I feel burnout and doubts. I think that it’s important to know that we’re not doing this alone, but there are other people on this path with us. And that there are people that we are working towards. The goal of justice is in and of itself a really hard thing. So none of us can do it alone, but I think that that’s the importance of my spiritual practice is to remember that community,

Um, to remember and find like-minded individuals who maybe are on a similar path to you, whatever that may look like in order to share and deepen together. Absolutely. Okay. So this, uh, question here, where is it? Um, here we go is for Will, Reverent Will Rucker, what would you suggest if your family does not support your beliefs and religion?

Well, that’s a great question. And it’s one that I’ve personally faced, uh, as I have expanded in consciousness, that also means that others have felt further away, uh, coming from a traditionally Christian family or one that perceives themselves to be that way because candidly, my family is nothing traditional, but you know, they have a bit more of a conservative lean than I do. What I’ve learned over the course of time is that most disagreement isn’t in the principle or the value or the substance, most disagreement is simply in the language and words are tools that allow us to paint pictures of what we’re trying to convey. But often we have our own filters and our worldviews that prohibit us from seeing what the other person is truly trying to convey. So for someone that’s struggling to make that connection with their family, love your family, love them, have compassion for them, recognize that they have your best interest at heart.

Always take that positive intent and assume that they’re wishing you well and allow them to go on their own journey. The me of today is a complete heretic to the me of just five years ago. And so I would be praying for myself today, you know, get them saved, Lord, save them. If you know, this was five years ago. So your family just may not be where you are. The other part of it is as a being of light, just shine, do your best, not to offend, but also don’t dim your light. Don’t don’t hide who you are, allow yourself to be authentic in where you are at the moment. And I guarantee you to change, but understand that where you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be in your family and friends need to see that the last part of this is there are people that embrace you as you are right now, there are people with very similar beliefs and ideas right now.

So connect with those people to have those types of conversations, the things that your family doesn’t jive with. That’s fine. Talk to them about the weather. I mean, whatever it takes, but then find that community that does feed you and that you can have those intellectual conversations with. You can have those heart to heart conversations with, and you can have those spiritual conversations with, um, one of my favorite passages is Psalm 65:1. And, um, I didn’t mention that earlier because it’s more of a, from the Jewish tradition, but it basically says that God consider silence praise, and in many translations of the Bible that doesn’t come across. So go look at a literal translation, to find that, but allow silence as well, because God will consider that to be praise. If you can’t improve the silence, don’t speak

One other suggestion, especially with family, but in, in, in a variety of relationships. And that is cheerfulness. A good sense of humor be centered in your fullness, uh, in the presence of praise or blame. Uh, you have to realize that, especially with family, uh, very often people are threatened. You know, uh, part of the definition of family, any kind of family is that we do the same things together. We eat the same food. We do the same things. We pray the same way. This is us, you know, you know, it’s the ego definition of ego of me. Uh, and so it’s a threat, it’s a threat. So have compassion, uh, and be cheerful. And I endorse everything that everybody else has said. Just be the light, be what you, that, what you are

Great. And so, um for Nuria, what are the keys for going within? That is the question that’s coming up here in the chat. What are the keys for going within, you’re muted my love.

Seeking solitude, even if that’s a walk or sitting by the ocean or Lake or looking at a tree, whatever that is. If you’re a busy mom taking a bath, you know, something practical to give yourself some time, but seeking solitude, because as so many have said, it’s the silence and the quietude. That’s so very important. Then the mind, if you’ve really tried to meditate, as I know everyone here has, you can see it becomes very active. It’s called the monkey mind. So many people know that term. So how do we still that mind? Well, we can do it with a phrase. I gave an example of how the prayer has been working me lately or contemplating I think beauty is very important. So something which you consider beautiful, uh, a flower, it could a photo of an inspirational figure or scene or a stone, something that puts the mind at rest upon an object in Tibetan Buddhism.

We do this, of course, contemplating, uh, various, Mandalas or, uh, thangkas of a deity, which are often so complex that it kind of blows the mind and just still does. But at any rate, something that stills that mind and then just breath, the breath is the greatest vehicle we have for meditation. And so breathing in the essence of the beauty of what you’re contemplating and breathing it out again, I’ve had the great opportunity to be sent to the caves, high in the Himalayan mountains, and there I’ve met with many deans that have been years and years in retreat. And one might say, what, what, what good could this possibly be doing for anyone? Well, it’s doing a lot of good, it’s like entering a church or a sacred space, the Quaker meeting, whatever it is, there’s an atmosphere there. And they’re generating a certain quality of atmosphere and vibration and giving it out.

You know, I had the good fortune of going to school with the nuns. Most people didn’t like that. They wanted to run away from Catholic school. I loved them. They were fantastic. They would teach me think of this and then telling a small child, very small child in grade school. This remember the vibrations of the breath of Jesus Christ still exist in the universe. Remember the beautiful notes that were played by the great symphonies and created by the great composers still exist. Remember all the great speeches that have ever been given throughout times still exist, be still and listen, and breathe it in so we can tune ourselves in that way. So when I’m talking about, as a kind of attunement, seek a little solitude, you know, it doesn’t need to be hours, take five minutes to begin with. You know, don’t be too grand start

Simply you’ll desire will increase to want to do this quietude contemplation on something that inspires you or you consider beautiful. It could even be I’m visual, but it could be music. You know, when said, people are afraid of the silence will sing. You know, eventually it leads to the silence, be practical in your spirituality. It helps you, it helps, uh, ground it. And then just relax. In our tradition, we talk about three phases. First is concentration. So for example, the lines of the prayers, then you contemplate them deeply. What, what does each word mean? What does this, what does this, what is it really saying? And then after you’ve concentrated, it’s like a yoga pose that you hold for a very long time an asana. But when you’re released at what do you feel? You feel a complete release of tension and relaxation. You fall into a kind of state.

That’s what meditation is. It’s releasing the concentration and then you fall. And then the, you turn, you, you feel that inner space. That’s I always told my, I was a professor for many years until my retirement. I was still my students. The great frontier is not outer space. It’s inner space. So do whatever you can to still yourself stilling the body helps stilling the mind by concentrating on something, helps use the breath, bring the breath in, bring the breath out and let yourself travel deeper and deeper with the breath, whatever arises, let it be. Welcome it as your friend, embrace it and release it. This is it. It sounds simple. It takes years, you know, enlightenment happens after 50 years of practice. What can I say? But, you know, God willing, we all will get there. Um, and I, I, again, I’m very grateful for all the people that have contributed, and it’s so interesting to hear my voice through your mouth and your heart. So thank you so much.

Okay. So this is for Katie. How do you think meditative practices can or will affect social injustices and the eco crisis we are facing

Meditative practices for me, or worship for me, has really given me permission to pause. And we talked about that a little bit earlier and to really think about what’s going on around me. And I think that, that, you know, with all the chaos and the noise coups, you know, all of these things that are happening, that we just don’t spend enough time really thinking and reflecting and thinking clearly about a path forward for how do we stop these major injustices. I also think that there’s just a huge amount of bonding that can happen from meditating with a friend, even if it’s on zoom. And I think that oftentimes when we worship together, like the people in my meeting, who I love dearly, even when they’re frustrating me, just having the ability to meditate with them and to worship with them really, uh, brings us a lot closer together.

Um, not in a, you know, compromising my values way, but in a human way, in a collective vision way. And so I think that if we were all meditating and taking care of ourselves and making sure that we are feeling centered, I think we can have a lot more productive conversations about how to move our country forward and how to move, not even our country, but even, you know, the world forward. How do we social progress forward? Um, so that’s, that’s really been crucial for me in my practice. And I also think, um, meditation creates a very specific way of being able to listen. Um, I think that my listening skills have gotten better since I’ve started meditating. And I think that that is something that we all desperately is more, um, practice and listening. So that would be what I would say for that.

Beautiful. Yeah. I was thinking about this today and wondering whether the forced isolation of the pandemic and the introspection that, um, the, the consequences of introspection, whether that will have, um, an effect on the way that yeah, we connect in the way that we listen to each other and take each other. And because we have been on our own for such a long time, would you, would you think it would have a positive, like it’s difficult because obviously it’s very, um, it’s been a very painful time and stuff, but the, I wonder if people will be searching for meditative practices during this time, maybe more so than other times. Um, in history

Certainly noticed more of my friends signing up for like insight timer. So at the very least, I think that there are a lot of people who are recognizing the chaos at the time and are saying, I need to do something about this anxiety that I’m feeling and trying to do something positive. And I do think that the internet, you know, while it isn’t the same as being in person often, uh, it’s connecting all of us, which is great. And it’s also creating new opportunities for community in a way that it wasn’t before. Um, I mean, there are always been internet communities, but now we have even more communities and more ways to stay in touch with each other and Christmases and holidays over zoom, you know, more ways of connecting. So I hope that some of these trends continue, um, and that we can, you know, really be a more connected body as a whole

Beautiful me too. I hope so too, Katie. Okay. So this question is for Brad, how does one stop start the practice of meditation when the idea of being alone with their thoughts, terrifies them being alone with the trauma in their head? Any advice?

Yeah, it’s a difficult question. That one, I, I think the best answer I ever have can give for people for any reason that they give to not want to start meditation practices, just, just do it. You know, you just have to do it. Uh, if, if you’re specifically afraid of the thoughts in your head. One of the things that, um, Zen meditation taught me over a number of years was that my thoughts are just thoughts. And it’s very easy to say that, but I can remember being almost bowled over the, the minute. You know, I can remember the moment when I recognize that as a, as a, you know, as a fact that, that any thought I had, no matter what it was, was still just another thought is just, it’s just something going on in my brain. And most of them don’t don’t matter.

And most of them don’t, don’t go anywhere. They, they fade away. If you leave them, be for long enough, a friend of mine, uh, who practices at the Tassajara, the place that’s in the fake background behind me, uh, said that he was on a meditation retreat and realized that his thoughts after a while were like a wad of gum that was in his mouth, that he chewed all the flavor out of, you know? And then, and then, so there just wasn’t any more flavor, but you still chewing on it if you’ve ever had that experience. And I thought, yeah, that’s kind of how it is after a while. Your thoughts are just thoughts initially they can be overwhelming. But I think just, just knowing that even just intellectually, that it’s just thought is, uh, is very useful. So, so no matter what the thought is, it’s just the khe noise. Um, that’s the best advice I can think of right now.

I just liked it when I mentioned one thing. And that is that, uh, uh, even for people, uh, who have never taken to a formal meditation practice practice all the time, they, they meditate all the time. When you read a wonderful book, you’ve been meditating. When you see a fantastic movie, you’ve been meditating when you’re on the beach and it’s sunset and you’re watching the sun go down, you are meditating. What does that mean? It means that automatically when we’re doing something that we love, the energy of my mind is automatically focused down to one point. And I, I really just disappear. And all that is in my awareness is I just feel fantastic.

And then when the experience is over, the ego comes forward and authors the thought, Hey, it was the sunset that made you happy. Say it was the book that made you happy. Oh, it was the movie that made you happy. But really what it was was I was aware of myself because all of my mental energy was on into that point. So we already have that experience, even just eating an ice cream cone that I love. I am, my, my mind is automatically focusing. So, uh, really it’s not the meditation that is off-putting or fear provoking. It is what I think of it. It’s my concept. It’s my preconceptions of it. That’s the problem. Um, I’m looking through lenses of my own ignorance.

Brilliant. Is there anyone that would like to add anything to that people that may, may be curious to start meditation and, and, um, any tips that you think give anyone that’s watching at home or any other thoughts that you want to add before we wrap up here today?

Well, you’re still muted,


There we go. Just to make things a little relative, because so there’s been a lot of, uh, not, not here today, but you know, you hear, Oh, uh, I’m, you know, I’m so low and I’m suffering because of the isolation. I’m not dismissing that. I I’m not, please don’t think I’m making light of it, but to put it in perspective, I was talking somewhat recently with a friend of mine that lives in, in France. She’s an American, she’s part of a translation committee of ancient Tibetan texts. She’s quite fluent into Tibetan. And she says to me, I’ve just been in the most wonderful four years, silent, silent retreat alone. Well, that puts it in perspective. I mean, she’s embracing that experience and a lot of us are just trying to run away from it. So, you know, try to again, and everyone’s been telling us all the same thing today.

This panel has said do a little bit at a time, notice a sunset, just sit for a little while, uh, take five minutes of a breather. But I will say to the person that maybe has some trauma in their lives, if you can find, um, some good help to overcome the trauma, you can’t just sort of do a spiritual bypass. There’s something that maybe is needed at a skilled level. And, uh, I, I hope that that person, you know, I pray that you’re relieved of that suffering because I can understand it and I appreciate it. And your questioning will guide you, just let it be your guide and blessings upon that healing.

Thank you. Thank you. All right. Well, it’s looking like, uh, about that time, I would say four 30 and I just want to, once again, open up to anybody who has any extra thoughts, uh, to finish before I close up here. Um, do you jump in, if you do and if not, I will close her up. Okay. Ready? Thank you for your moderation. And, um, you’re really skilled at asking questions, so we really appreciate that. Oh my goodness. Thank you. That means a lot. I really appreciate that. So, um, as I was prepping this panel yesterday, um, I pulled a few taro cards, uh, and I asked spirit, what was the purpose of today’s panel? Um, and what, what was it that needed to come through? And one of the cards that came through was the high priestess. When I just wanted to leave you with this little quote from my book and the description that I just feel is so beautiful.

And so fitting for our conversation here today, she speaks her secrets to us, through our intuition, and only those wise enough to retreat into silence will know them. So I just thought that was so lovely. Um, and I really hope that this panel has cultivated some curiosity around meditation and whether you’re new to the practice or have a steady and developed routine, um, that you continue to follow what feels right for you and to listen as much as you possibly can to your heart-centered intuitive wisdom and contribute to a brighter tomorrow. Thank you so much, much love and light to everyone and bye for now.

Bye. Okay, We’re not live anymore. Hurray. We did it. We did it. Thank you all so much. It was great to meet you all. Yeah, really. So, um, that’s why he’s not here. He had another meeting, but he said thank you to everyone, brilliant.

Thanks Katie. Thank you.

Bye guys. Bye!


Korinne: Hi everyone and welcome to Earp Curse Con Start 

the Wave Team Panel. Today we have Dom, Julie,


Korinne: Porter, D2, Addie, and Randi. Thank you guys 

so much for participating in our con


Dom: Yay! Thank you so much for having us 

Korinne: absolutely I didn’t realize how many


Korinne: people were like so eager to find out 

who was behind the Start the Wave team


Korinne: until we announced your panel and people 

went absolutely crazy. Dom: yeah I’m sure Julie: Surprise!


Dom: Oh you lucky people you get to meet some of the 

most wonderful humans i’m super excited for this


Korinne: so i wanted to start out just going around and 

introducing yourselves and telling us kind of


Korinne: what your roles are in the team and your journey 

on becoming a part of the team. Dom, we’ll start


Korinne: with you just in case anybody’s here that is just 

kind of finding Start the Wave so if you want to


Korinne: if you want to lead the way go ahead 

Dom: absolutely. My name’s Dominique and i am the founder


Dom: of Start the Wave. It all started back a few 

years ago when i.. well.. well.. really it started um


Dom: i.. i.. felt a real need to try and make a difference 

and up until that point i didn’t really know how


Dom: to and off the back of some traveling that i did 

i decided to buy everyone in the cast and crew of


Dom: Wynonna Earp who.. er… no one here knows about 

Wynonna but it’s uh that’s for sure um yeah no one


Dom: no one knows what that is uh but i decided to buy 

everyone a reusable water bottle um because i had


Dom: really seen the effects of our disposable 

lifestyles first hand when in india um


Dom: and i thought well this is something 

that i can do and i just felt really


Dom: passionate to try and eliminate 

some of the plastic waste on our set


Dom: so i went out and bought everyone a water 

bottle and then posted about it on instagram


Dom: and overnight um so many amazing earpers went out 

and followed suit and also got the water bottle


Dom: and suddenly i started seeing the effects of that 

and the ripples that were caused by an action that


Dom: i decided to take and it felt really empowering 

and really exciting to see you know how if you


Dom: calculate how many water bottles that would 

actually amount to it was like crazy because


Dom: i mean per season on wynonna earp we were going 

through north of 12 000 water bottles every season


Dom: so it’s like a lot of plastic that i was like 

well amazing now that’s eliminated and now all


Dom: of these other people are sort of taking it upon 

themselves um being really open and listening and


Dom: and it was really exciting so so that sort of 

formed this idea that actually you know what we do


Dom: do does make a difference and every single person 

can make positive change um if they feel called so


Dom: i started the idea of yeah start the wave which 

um has grown and evolved and developed and never


Dom: in a million years would i have thought that it 

would have become a non-profit organization um but


Dom: it sort of naturally happened like this as all of 

these beautiful team members that i can’t wait for


Dom: you to meet um all started joining and suddenly 

we realized that hang on a second this could


Dom: be something bigger so it’s been an amazing 

journey and without further ado go and meet


Dom: these beautiful humans because that’s really what 

you’re here for today 

Korinne: well congratulations um this


Korinne: organization has already made like huge impacts 

um across many different communities so nice work


Korinne: Dom. 

Dom: thanks dude really nice to see you by the way  

Korinne: you too addie you’re up 

Addie: uh hey guys my name


Addie: is addie i was um i’ve been with start the wave for 

about three years now i was the the second in line


Addie: um i reached out to i i was on uh instagram one 

night and um was already looking at things like


Addie: zero waste and eco-friendly stuff and and trying 

to make changes uh in my own life um to live a


Addie: more sustainable lifestyle and uh to start the 

wave like right as Dom had started it kind of


Addie: popped up in the algorithm and i was sort of 

familiar with wynonna but um i’d seen maybe a


Addie: couple episodes so there was enough of a 

recognition there um that i was like oh i


Addie: recognize her um and then started checking out 

start the wave and was like i think i could help


Addie: in some way i could offer um some web development 

to start and um so i reached out to Dom and i


Addie: reached out to the yeah reached out to Dom and basically was like you know i i’m trying


Addie: to do the things that you’re trying to do i think 

i could um help give the community a place to


Addie: connect and organize um and uh yeah and then the 

rest is kind of history so um we worked together


Addie: for about a year and a half two years um trying 

to get all of the all of our ducks in order um


Dom: addie was very patient with me i did not know what.. 

i would even.. yeah what start the wave was going


Dom: to become and you’re incredibly patient and just 

went with the natural flow of things do carry on


Addie: i was um so to give everybody like timeline 

reference when dom was like uh traversing through


Addie: brazil like from fishing village to fishing 

village i would get random voice notes um like


Addie: once every two weeks like okay i’ve got wi-fi 

for just a second and i love the idea i think


Addie: that’s great let’s do this and then like i would 

work and then another two weeks would go by like


Addie: hey i’ve got wi-fi again and i’m not you know um 

and it it just it kind of just constantly evolved


Addie: so we went through a couple of iterations through 

the website and then um we’re trying to get uh


Addie: get everything sort of show ready and recognize 

that we needed a third we needed somebody who


Addie: could help um formalize everything uh get us 

uh set up as a true nonprofit um and somebody


Addie: who had a little bit more experience in the in the 

nonprofit space um and one of the many many things


Addie: i am learning from dom to sort of separate from 

my very corporate american mindset is um to allow


Addie: things to unfold unnaturally and uh to to really 

sort of surrender to uh a sense of divine timing


Addie: because when you need something often it will 

appear and just like that we got an email from


Addie: a beautiful human named melissa porter 

Dom: as if i mentioned that 

Addie: i will kick it over yeah 

Dom: yes


Porter: hey guys i am porter um let’s see um i 

have been with start the wave i’m going


Porter: on my year anniversary so pretty pumped about that 

Korinne: congratulations 


Porter: thank you um like


Porter: addie it actually happened through instagram 

um those those algorithms will get you and  *everyone laughs*


Porter: um like she had mentioned just kind of reached 

out and offered uh legal services and so for


Porter: start the wave um specifically i do 

like the legal and business stuff


Porter: finance stuff and then like partnerships um


Porter: and let’s see what else are we i guess that’s 

kind of it that’s my story that’s what i do here


Dom: all of the stuff that i literally am like.. eeee.. 

sorry porter can you explain to me what


Dom: the hell that means and she’s so generous and 

like yeah no problem no problem but it’s like


Dom: completely different worlds which is amazing 

because like you say eddie we so needed porter


Dom: to get it to the next level um and it really was 

like the most magical thing in the world like we


Dom: had the conversation i think the week before and  we’re like 

Porter: yeah 

Dom: s*** like we’re at a place where


Dom: it’s you know we either make it into an official 

non-profit organization or like where are we going


Dom: with this like what’s it gonna become we kind of 

oh we need somebody that’s going to be able to


Dom: understand all that stuff and then like literally 

and they happen to live.. addy and porter happen


Dom: to live two hours from each other just by chance i was like wow it’s happening yeah 

Korinne: it’s the universe


Porter: when i looked at the instagram for start the 

wave i literally looked at it and had that thought


Porter: i was like i they look it looks like they’re going 

they’re inching towards being like a non-profit


Porter: officially and incorporated but like they just 

need those final steps and that’s why i had


Porter: reached out i was like man i’m driving with like 

everything that’s on this page let’s let’s do that


Dom: so f****** cool 

Korinne: and to to second what dom said porter you like working with you for


Korinne: these past couple of months has been amazing 

and you are very good at explaining things and


Korinne: and you’re pleasure to work with

Porter: i appreciate that 

Korinne: welcome


Porter:  you as well you’ve been fantastic 

Korinne: thank you


Korinne: so i i have a follow-up question for 

you porter what about start the wave


Korrine: um what made you drawn to start the wave 

versus any other organization um or non-profit


Porter: um man i think everything like i’m uh i’m a huge 

energy person and like everything about the page


Porter: and then when i spoke with addie initially and 

then when i spoke with addie and dom everything


Porter: about it feeled like it was like speaking to me 

and like i i’m um on the board of a couple of


Porter: other non-profits and i absolutely love them and 

i love everything that they do but like there is


Porter: this energy with start the wave that i just feel 

so drawn to and i just believe in everything that


Porter: we’re doing and promoting that there’s just 

there’s there’s so much honesty in it like i


Porter: don’t i don’t have to fake anything i don’t have 

to i can just be myself and i can promote these


Porter: things and i feel great about it like i love it 

Korinne: that’s amazing that’s incredible d2 how about you


D2: um so i am also coming up on a year i didn’t 

realize porter and i joined so close but yeah


D2: my year’s in november um i’ve been following 

start the wave from the beginning i’m at an


D2: earper so of course you know dom posts a video 

and everyone runs you know and uh it was super


D2: inspiring and um it kind of like like to porter’s 

point it spoke to the things that i knew i needed


D2: to focus on in my life um and it was just kind of 

like that oh my gosh moment like okay let’s do it


D2: um and i’ve changed completely how i consume 

everything information food you know plastics


D2: waste everything has changed um i was lucky 

enough to be connected with dom through cons like


D2: we met there um and a friend of mine and dom were 

collaborating on a sticker at the time um for gyc


D2: and so we had been in contact and uh they 

mentioned uh because i was working with addie as


D2: well that they were about to become a non-profit 

and you know they were getting every all their


D2: ducks in a row and so i just said hey i have a 

ton of free time if you need help and addie’s like


D2: actually we do we need someone to take over social 

um because we want to act like start posting more


D2: regularly have you know consistency there um and 

then we could also use your design skills and so


D2: that’s kind of how i joined was um was 

that conversation and so i’ve taken over


D2: all of the design for start the wave so 

all of the instagram posts that you see


D2: the t-shirt campaigns um website stuff all of that 

um is my wheelhouse and then i also do all of the


D2: social media management so i make all the posts 

reply to messages comments that kind of thing so


Korinne: and we’ve seen a lot of positive feedbacks 

especially about the social media post and


Korinne: the design so fantastic job on your end 

D2: Thank you. Thanks. Yeah and we realized i think a couple months in


D2: that that was a lot for one person so that was 

when julie joined the team and she was my savior

Korinne: Hi Julie!


Julie: hi folks um i guess my my joining 

of the team was a little more


Julie: organic as in i was in a vegan bar dom was 

in a vegan bar so it was like hey meditation


Julie: all of the things intersectionality 

me too and it was really cool because


Julie: it’s uh it’s kind of hard to find your people 

when you’re so passionate about so many things


Julie: and not just one thing so through super 

awesome conversations dom was just like


Julie: well speaking of all of the things we love i have this NGO 

Dom: literally all the things we love


Julie: so it just it was it was too perfectly lined 

up so that’s when i joined in and became super


Julie: tight with d2 we talk every day and the 

thing that i sort of bring to the table


Julie: is the content you see on social and 

the researching behind that as well


Julie: as the resource page and then also working 

with the awesome d2 and dom to make sure


Julie: our visuals are super cohesive across all the platforms 

Korinne: you guys are such like


Julie: sorry 

Korinne: go ahead no finish 

Julie: i started at the brink of 2020 this beautiful transformative year


Dom: yeah 

Korinne: awesome awesome 

D2: one good thing in 2020. we got Julie 

Korinne: yeah right. take one positive out of it 

Julie: there are so many good things. We’re all waking up


Julie: nothing’s new. we’re just waking up 

Dom: yes exactly. 

Julie: it’s so good 2020 is awesome we all just got a slap


Julie: and now we’re like s*** okay 

Dom: yeah so true so true 

Korinne: hi randi 

Randi: hey so hi i’m well i’m randi i


Randi: um i’ve been here for about a month and a half 

so i’m like the baby of the family um uh yeah i


Randi: i followed dom i obviously watched the 

show um and i followed dom on instagram


Randi: and um there were a couple things that i saw i saw 

her divacup video and i was like this is amazing


Randi: for like 10 years this is great and then i did 

see the water bottle thing and then i started


Randi: following start the wave more and it’s just 

the same thing as julie just everything that


Randi: that i was passionate about start the wave hit 

and when they started posting about black lives


Randi: matter because i’ve been a part of organizations 

and they’re always missing one thing but as soon


Randi: as start the wave part started posting about black 

lives matter i was like i need to be involved in


Randi: this in any way shape or form so i reached out 

and uh and yeah i got an email and said would


Randi: you be interested in meeting and i met with porter 

and she was awesome and then met the rest of the


Randi: team it was it was good it was really really 

awesome but yeah so i i’m hoping that you know


Randi: my direction is potentially or it’s research and 

and content maybe a little bit of outreach that


Randi: kind of stuff so yeah awesome 

Korinne: well it’s nice to meet you all and i’m sure earpers are going crazy


Korinne: finally getting to see you all together so yay all 

right so my next question is for my fellow earpers


Korinne: dom, D2, and i feel like i know the answer to this 

the first part of this question but i’m going to


Korinne: ask anyway what are your thoughts on earpers and how that community has affected start the wave


Dom: oh my goodness okay d2 do you… am i cool to kick off 

D2: go for it 

Dom: okay awesome um


Dom: well really start the wave wouldn’t exist 

without the earpers if we think about it


Dom: like like i said if we go back to my water 

bottle mission where the seed was planted


Dom: had there not been a beautiful team of earpers 

that were so open and receptive and took action


Dom: start the wave wouldn’t exist or maybe it would 

maybe it would be something different you know


Dom: um but very much like they inspired me so 

i always say this about earpers in general


Dom: like i feel so grateful that i have been part 

of the earpers community because it has helped me


Dom: in so many ways um on my own personal journey 

stepping into my authenticity my sexuality


Dom: everything and start the wave is very much um 

a part of part of that bundle too um because


Dom: yeah i would go to conventions and i would see the 

effects that my little videos had at the time and


Dom: have amazing conversations that would continue 

to inspire me and then i would go back and go


Dom: hang on a minute like there’s maybe there is 

a place for this maybe you know my mad sort of


Dom: my mad mind that goes off into a thousand 

different new tangents like maybe maybe there’s


Dom: something to this and and i have a responsibility 

with um you know being part of this community to


Dom: to make something of this and you know overcome 

my own fear and anxiety around it and just um


Dom: yeah hold space for not only this amazing 

community but anybody else who feels cooled


Dom: to come and join join the team so um yeah 

without the earpers this wouldn’t exist and i’m


Dom: so grateful to yeah have them as family and 

you know i think that earpers and start


Dom: the wavers intersect so much and they will 

always be such a huge part of this journey


Korinne: that’s awesome i’m glad to hear that 

Dom: yeah

Korinne: D2 how about you?

D2: um yeah i think dom summed up


D2: as far as you know earpers and start the wave 

exactly that like um you know when i was thinking


D2: through things to prepare for this it was really 

like i think start the wave would have existed i


D2: think it would have become what it is but i don’t 

know if it would have done it as fast um because


D2: i really think um that like earpers were left fuel 

for the fire um you know dom lit that little match


D2: and you know they just poured gasoline on it 

and so um i think start the wave will forever


D2: be thankful for that um because they really 

put us on that trajectory of where we are now


D2: um i mean obviously just earpers in general i am 

an earper so i love them um this show has brought


D2: me not just friends but family you know people 

that will be in my life forever um my tight group


D2: of friends you know were hyping me up for this 

panel and um you know one of them helped me test


D2: zoom this morning you know i mean i’m just so so 

thankful that um i’ve met these people and that


D2: you know they’re just good people i mean that’s 

that’s the fandom is it’s just good people yeah


D2: and that’s what start the wave needs to be built 

on so 

Korinne: right it’s that found foundation 

Dom: well said


Dom: d2 h*** s*** yes 

D2: thank you 

Korinne: i find that earpers often say that it’s a found family and you find um


Korinne: your tribes within um and your close groups within so yeah 

D2: and i mean they brought me


D2: to this tribe of these beautiful people 

Korinne: right exactly 

D2: very important in my life too so 

Korinne: exactly


Korinne: so so this next question is for everyone um dom 

i’m going to start with you how has start the wave


Korinne: impacted your individual lives outside of the 

organization and what has been your biggest


Korinne: takeaway from this organization 

Dom: good question uh really good question i think for me you know


Dom: having start the wave in my 

life is is so good for me because


Dom: it helps me it helps me stay curious it 

helps me be creative and it helps me zoom out


Dom: and see the bigger picture you know because 

um as the sort of the founder i suppose and


Dom: and what i bring to the table is often like 

inspiration from the outside world and try and


Dom: feed that back into the organization say hey i’ve 

been thinking about this and maybe we could try


Dom: and use this to you know achieve this so many 

“this” um uh but like you know that’s that’s um


Dom: that’s a lot of what i do and so for me it’s like 

it’s been my sort of north star and like my moral


Dom: compass and it keeps me aligned with the things 

that i really care about and the things that


Dom: i’m passionate about and also helps me check in 

both with myself and with the community and the


Dom: collective and think about how i can best be of 

service in this lifetime which is the biggest gift


Dom: i could ever have and you know it’s it’s funny 

like i was thinking about it and um start the wave


Dom: for me personally feels like a philosophy 

that is sort of outside of myself and what


Dom: we’ve created and we’re like the facilitators 

of this community that we can hold space for


Dom: other people to find their own authenticity 

and their own way into positive change but


Dom: really like i’m i still very much feel like a 

member of the community too you know i i don’t


Dom: really like the the word founder because 

it sounds like i i sort of um created it


Dom: but really like without sounding too you know 

hokey pokey but i feel like start the wave found me


Dom: in some ways like the philosophy it continues to 

i continue to understand more about it every day


Dom: and i feel like it’s just um keeps me checking 

in with you know universal truths and trying to


Dom: um really understand why i’m here and what how 

yeah how we can best be of service for everyone


Dom: really so um it makes a huge difference in my 

life i’m so grateful to have it and and to be


Dom: you know have have been um um to have attracted 

in this in incredible group of people that are


Dom: inspiring me every day like without start 

the wave i wouldn’t have that in my life so


Dom: um yeah it keeps me keeps me grounded and 

it keeps me inspired which um is just yeah


Dom: the best gift ever did that sort of answer your question 

Korinne: yes absolutely 

Dom: okay 

Korinne: it was it was so sweet


Porter: i agree with you dom too about like the 

learning like i’m constantly learning from


Porter: you guys and i love it um it’s amazing you i mean 

you guys teach me like a lot like it’s really cool


Dom: yeah it’s like but and that you know we see it 

within our own the the team here like we’re all


Dom: learning from each other but it’s such a 

key philosophy of start the wave like to


Dom: stay open and to be continually learning and to 

you know eliminate your ego as much as possible


Dom: and know that you’ve always got more to learn and 

that’s why you know it’s so much more than just


Dom: like an organization it’s like a community where 

you know i all of us are learning from all of us


Dom: you know every single person that has found start 

the wave has a different way of looking at things


Dom: and a different angle different life experience 

and different things to bring to the table and


Dom: like that is it is so key so yeah you’re right 

it helps you it keeps you learning keeps you


Dom: curious keeps you um aware 

Julie: so true it also keeps you like accountable like i think like as a team we send


Julie: a lot of individual messages to each other 

when we’re when we’re learning and growing


Julie: and sometimes it’s like quite simply like i don’t 

know if you know but this sort of language maybe


Julie: leaves out this sort of community so let’s come 

away from this language and start using these


Julie: words 

Dom: yeah

Julie: and i find more often than not we’re like each other’s accountability buddies


Julie: and it’s like a cool thing to practice within an 

organization and also take out to your friends


Julie: and your family and people on the street it’s 

a good way to sort of feel out how you could be


Julie: not only like bringing yourself up and 

holding yourself accountable but like help


Julie: bring the people around you along because 

if you’re not growing what are you doing


Porter: a hundred percent and then beyond that like 

there’s just there’s so much going on in the world


Porter: right now and so much is being thrown 

at us and a lot of it is negative


Porter: like a lot of us and a lot of us do suffer from


Porter: depression and anxiety and you hear all of these 

things and it’s overwhelming but start the wave


Porter: gives everybody this community that says you 

know what guys like we can make a difference yes


Porter: bad is happening in the world but you know what 

if we all stick together and we all stay positive


Porter: we can do this like let’s make this world a 

better place and it’s hard to feel it it’s so cool


Addie: i think too like a little bit beyond that for 

me like the um watching the community and the


Addie: interactions and stuff and um being a participant 

but also an observer it it gives me a lot of hope


Addie: to piggyback on what porter says there’s so much 

negativity that is out there right now especially


Addie: um i know a lot of us are really feeling 

the passing of ruth bader ginsburg yesterday


Addie: and um so it’s it is start the wave for me i 

think is sort of um i love the duality of really


Addie: uh finding your own authentic way into bringing 

about positive change but also as a collective


Addie: um bringing about positive change and i think 

um the thing i i’ve taken away is the um


Addie: that we are sort of the heroes of our own story 

and it calls us all to be the heroes of our own


Addie: story and not to wait for anybody else because 

sometimes you know other people take a little


Addie: while to get to you so show up for your own story 

and your own evolution and um and yeah and as we


Addie: uh as we all know from our favorite tv show heroes always win so it’s a good time 

Korinne: oh yeah hell yeah


Korinne: well done well done 

D2: yeah yeah and i think to build on addie too like for me um i think my


D2: biggest takeaway and like the biggest impact 

it’s had i mean obviously personally i’ve had


D2: a lot i kind of talked to that in the intro 

question but it i think it came at a time


D2: where i was able to adjust my parenting style 

and because i have an 11 year old um son and he


D2: was at that age you know he was eight or nine 

and it it taught me how to teach him to go out


D2: as that next generation and lead in a better way 

um and like it just it’s crazy to me sometimes


D2: we’ll be watching a show or we’ll be watching 

a movie or something’s on and he’ll make some


D2: comments that’s like totally feminist and i’m like 

whoa like did you just say that like and then i’m


D2: like oh my god

Dom: Yes Toby


Korinne: good job D2 good job 

D2: yes and i’ll give him a high five and like when he D2: sees representation on tv like i mean just little 

things like start like the star wars kiss and you


D2: know the mom’s in toy story 4 he’s like oh mom it 

was it was lesbian moms and i was like i know bud


D2: he’s like super excited yeah. there’s what? 

Porter: there’s moms in toy story four?

D2: yeah there’s these two


D2: these two moms that dropped their kid off for 

the first day of school yeah yeah and he picked


D2: up on it and i was just like yes and so like i 

think for me that’s like you know i’m proud of


D2: the things i’ve done as a person and like the 

changes i’ve made for like my family and you


D2: know things like that but i think my most proud 

is the way that my parenting style has changed


D2: and what i’m doing to help him kind of go out 

in the right mindset um because they’re really


D2: the next generation that are going to leave this 

world so we need to get them off on the right foot


Julie: D2, feelings!


Randi: we’re talking about when you get overwhelmed by 

the negativity that’s going on in the world i


Randi: i have kind of i felt like it’s affected my 

focus on the ways i want to affect um you


Randi: know change in the world and being a part of the 

team and actually dom and i had a conversation


Randi: of where it’s going and i’m it just gives me so 

much hope of of what we can do to to help make


Randi: this community better and make good changes so i’m 

i’m just it’s given me so much excitement and so


Randi: much drive and focus and i’m very very excited to see where things 

Dom: go yeah me too hear hear to that Randi


Dom: yeah awesome

Korinne: wow um so d2 i’m going to pick on you for a second 

D2: oh you’re going to pick on me 

Korinne: yeah in


Korinne: a good way in a good way 

D2: okay 

Korinne: we talked a little bit about your artwork and like i said we’ve been


Korinne: getting a lot of questions and like positive 

feedback about your art and your sketches and


Korinne: all of those kinds of things i want to know what 

has been your inspiration for start the wave art


Korinne: specifically and i also have to mention that 

the last one that was posted the new moon one


Korinne: has been my absolute favorite 

Dom: so beautiful. yes 

Korinne: just had to put that out there

D2: thank you thank you um inspiration


D2: i mean um julie touched on it um earlier and and 

talked about how her and i and dom um you know


D2: one of the really good things you know we have to 

find a blessing in a hiatus is that we had a ton


D2: of free time with dom to where we could sit down 

and i mean like one to two hour phone calls every


D2: other day for like weeks where we were just diving 

into like what dom’s vision of visuals were um


D2: and really narrowed down a design identity for 

start the wave um and that’s what we’ve been


D2: doing for the last few months um and so it really 

is you know there’s some key components like


D2: we always want to have them be positive we 

always want to have them you know showing this


D2: perfect world that we’re hoping to to change and 

create um so you’ll see free-range animals you’ll


D2: see blue skies you’ll see beautiful forests um 

clean water you know all these different things


D2: and we also do a mixed media that’s also been 

kind of one of our design styles so we’ll do


D2: illustrations photographs textures colors all 

of that so whether it looks like it or not


D2: every single thing has a photograph so a lot of 

times it’ll be like the night sky in the moon


D2: post that’s an actual photograph whereas the other 

things are illustrations or like the moon was an


D2: illustration about the earth that was over top of 

it is a photograph you know those types of things


D2: um as far as like inspiration since you brought up 

the last post i can kind of just go through like


D2: one post as an example because it’s what we just 

worked on so the steps kind of go where dom will


D2: give me an umbrella inspiration so like with 

the moon she said okay the moon this time is


D2: about health and healing and transformation and 

um introspection and kind of you know opening our


D2: eyes to new things and i’m like okay and then i 

go away with that and i like start looking through


D2: what’s available and different things and i’ll 

actually start looking like symbols of healing


D2: you know symbols of transformation you know and 

and kind of get what those things are and then


D2: i’ll go in and i’ll start designing everything 

and throwing it together and then we’ll go back


D2: and forth from that point and sometimes when she 

writes her caption they’ll be little words and


D2: i’m like oh i gotta go to i gotta go change this 

really quick um and add this element and you know


D2: things like that and so with the moonpost like 

i added the little like first aid cross on the


D2: backpack that wasn’t there before 

Dom: did you add that? cool!

D2: i did add that yeah 

Dom: and you know it’s interesting


Dom: because i thought about the it and oh that’s tight 

that’s really uh you know um worked out well that


Dom: there’s like a first aid cross i didn’t know you’d added it

D2: there wasn’t yeah so i added it because


D2: it you know it’s for health and healing um we 

did the moon and the earth for the earth power


D2: um i don’t know if a lot of people noticed it but 

i hid a butterfly in the moon for a transformation


D2: so there’s all these little elements that um 

kind of bring the caption together into like


D2: one visual thing but yeah that’s basically 

how each you know graphic is inspired is an


D2: umbrella of the content and then we work together 

to make sure that the final content and that match


Korinne: you do such a fantastic job so 

D2: thank you 

Korinne: well done and also um i know you do wynonna earp merch


Korinne: and so for all of the earpers watching if you’re 

one of those people that likes wynonna earp merch D2 has redbubble


Korinne: you have to go there and support her work because it’s incredible 

D2: thank you


Korinne: you’re welcome 

Dom: thanks korinne 

Korinne: sure


Korinne: julie 

Julie: yo 

Korinne: so we talked a little bit about um the resource pages and things like that i have to say


Korinne: this is my absolute favorite thing about start 

the wave um that you guys take the time to collect


Korinne: not only information but the correct information 

and you take your time with that before you go and


Korinne: put it out to the community because this is 

such a big community you have such a large


Korinne: platform so it matters what you say and what 

you put out so i love that you guys take the


Korinne: time and you get it right before you put it out there 

Porter: 100% 

Korinne: i just wanted to ask you um


Korinne: why you think that’s important and and why it’s 

important to put the correct information out


Korinne: before it spreads into a large community like earpers and start the wave and 

Julie: yeah i think for for


Julie: us um you know the thing with like the resources 

that we have the single resource page on our site


Julie: and we’ve been wanting to have multiples for every 

pillar for a while now but we’re a pretty small


Julie: team and it takes a lot of work we’re getting 

there though um but the importance of just having


Julie: this vetted material is key because there’s just 

so much information out there constantly that is


Julie: not being vetted and we want to present stuff to 

the community so like here’s some true information


Julie: and we’re not going to tell you what to do or how 

to do anything or how you should be living your


Julie: life but here’s a wealth of information that 

you can absorb and then decide for yourself


Julie: and see how your impact can suit your life in 

your community with this information you have


Julie: at hand and if you’re not getting truthful 

information or authentic information how are


Julie: you going to figure out the authentic life you’re 

trying to live so it’s just a matter of you know


Julie: like when you walk into your favorite section of 

the library and you’re like you go in the one row


Julie: and you pull down all the books you just like sit 

down one day and you’re just like this is all the


Julie: stuff i want to absorb we kind of want to present 

that in an online format for people who are just


Julie: really truly trying to figure out some truths 

about themselves in the world around them and just


Julie: compile it to make sense in their minds so they can take those steps forward 

Korinne: well i applaud you in


Korinne: um bringing that into start the wave because 

that’s huge and there are a lot of young people


Korinne: coming in and and finding start the wave that 

don’t know where to turn for those resources so


Korinne: it’s nice to have 

Julie: yeah it’s tricky because everything’s about click bait and like we’re not here to 

Dom: Yeah, there’s so much stuff out there.


Julie: make money off of advertisements and you know we’re not 

trying to make you skim through this ridiculous


Julie: story just so you can pass for ads we’re just 

truly like here’s information because like i


Julie: am such a google rabbit hole person and there’s 

nothing more frustrating than getting blocked


Julie: by by ads or unnecessary most of the time untrue 

information before you can get to the good stuff


Julie: i’m just like give me the truth like just give her the truth 

Korinne: yeah 

Dom: and sometimes it’s so hard


Dom: to decipher what that is you know in today’s world 

like there’s just such so much stuff out there and


Dom: i certainly find it incredibly overwhelming 

Julie: like we have to do a lot of research for every little


Julie: thing like we do general googles and backtracking 

of original sources and then porter needs to grab


Julie: the really juicy stuff and make sure there’s 

no sneaky legal things we should be knowing


Julie: about which every once in a while there 

is and porter’s like guys red flag sorry


Julie: back to the drawing board okay 

Korinne: it it really shows it really shows


Korinne: it shows how much time and effort 

Julie: you’re not the bad guy porter you’re the hero 

Dom: yes 

Korinne: porter’s the hero


Addie: Porter’s the hero. For sure

Dom: Porter’s the hero

Porter: Right right right


Korinne: yeah even even my mom is like watching 

the news and she’s like what it and i’m


Korinne: like no no no no you gotta go to start the wave and

Dom: awww that’s so sweet

Korinne: umm so


Korinne: uh we talked about the resources portion on 

the website and there’s also a portion for


Korinne: veganism which i myself am trying to explore and 

it’s been really difficult um so this question’s


Korinne: for randi and julie um randi if you want to 

start this off what advice would each of you give


Korinne: someone trying to explore veganism 

Dom: i can sit back and enjoy this yeah 

Randi: so 

Julie: Dom takes off her sweater


Julie: she’s like I’m so ready

Dom: all right hit me 

Porter: she was like yeah what advice would you give me


Dom: nobody so… like genuinely i’m excited to hear the answer to these questions because like veganism is such


Dom: a journey right so like we’re all at different 

stages and i’m also still on the journey we we


Dom: all are sorry go ahead randi 

Randi: yeah no no no it’s it’s true like 

i mean my veganism journey has been 24 years so


Dom: 24?!

Randi: um well i stopped eating red meat pork and fish 24 years ago yeah


Randi: um yeah so it’s it’s been a while it’s been 

a long time a long time coming and it was


Randi: super natural for me um but but yeah so i’d 

say start out with like why you want to be


Randi: vegan and like let that be your focus um you know 

for me it started out uh because i was like wait


Randi: i don’t have to eat meat cool then i won’t um and 

then it eventually became about um sustainability


Randi: and animal rights so i’m sure you’re you 

know it’ll it’ll evolve for people um and


Randi: then i would say you know start out um start out 

slow do things that are manageable for you don’t


Randi: jump all into it all at once like don’t you know 

throw everything out in your fridge and go buy


Randi: everything vegan or or your cruelty-free products 

or whatever just start out slow and something


Randi: manageable that you know that you can make the 

shift very easily like non-dairy milk super easy


Randi: um uh and then i would say kind of like manage 

your expectations around it and what i mean by


Randi: that is like don’t you know go into a vegan 

restaurant and if it’s crappy food be like


Randi: veganism is the worst i hate vegan food because 

like no one goes into you know a meat restaurant


Randi: gets a burger and has a bad experience like meat 

burger’s the worst no one ever eat a meat burger


Randi: so yeah so like manage your expectations you 

know it’s going to take you a bit of time


Randi: to find what really works for you and what you 

really like so just be be patient and then come


Randi: have compassion for yourself so if you like 

slip up don’t give yourself a hard time it’s


Randi: it’s as dom was saying it’s a journey it’s 

not a race it’s not a competition and remind


Randi: yourself of why you’re vegan that’s that’s kind 

of the advice i would give to everyone 

Dom: beautiful


Dom: well said randi

Randi: thank you 

Julie: i never thought of that whole like someone eats a burger


Julie: at a meat restaurant once and it’s crap and 

they’re like i don’t want meat anymore like


Julie: that never happened i wish that was the case 

wow that’s so awesome i feel like the whole um


Julie: you know like we don’t need a bunch of people 

doing all this perfectly like everyone just needs


Julie: to do whatever they can bring to the table i think 

is really key in sort of giving yourself a break


Julie: but i also think there is um a grander larger 

accountability you need to hold yourself to


Julie: like you were you were raised by society to feel 

entitled to a lot of things that isn’t necessarily


Julie: true and we’re now at a point in time where we’re 

seeing effects on the environment effects on our


Julie: health you know these are sentient beings so 

really trying to flip that switch of i’m not


Julie: entitled to these things really really helps 

when you’re presented with things that you may


Julie: be craving like i was a meat-atarian like my snack 

would be like let’s roast a ham and like dip it


Julie: in some gooey cheese i was ridiculous i don’t 

know how to have a heart attack when i was 10.


Julie: but flipping that switch to all of a sudden like 

i’m i’m not entitled to this sentient being that’s


Julie: that’s interesting like this wasn’t put on this 

earth for me that was really really helpful um and


Julie: i guess as as you’re going along um i think the 

biggest food tip i can give to everyone is stop


Julie: thinking of what you put on your plate as a pie 

chart in terms of like this is a protein so i’m


Julie: replacing this chicken with this like your plate 

is not a pie chart your plate is a party and just


Julie: have fun with it because like get some like 

nutrient apps like what we put on start the wave


Julie: and you can really you can really figure out that 

like all this stuff you’re throwing into a bowl


Julie: or in a pot miraculously becomes you know a whole 

protein or you know if i don’t know what i’m doing


Julie: i can sprinkle this on it and all of a sudden i 

have b12 and my omegas and you just you don’t need


Julie: to compartmentalize your food and once you get 

away from the places they fit your dishes become


Julie: way better and way more insane and the number one 

thing i hear from people in my life that go vegan


Julie: is they’re discovering flavors that they never 

knew existed which is wild because since the


Julie: dawn of time you’re seasoning your food with 

plants so obviously plants for the yummy part guys


Dom: hundred percent and also just get like all the nutritional yeast 

Julie: all the nutritional yeast! 

Dom: Just like…


Julie: on everything 

Dom: on everything if in doubt nutritional yeast

Porter: and if you like spice


Porter: red chili pepper flakes on 

everything hot sauce on everything


Porter: oh you’re set if you like mexican 

food it’s a pretty easy transition


Porter: with some tacos 

Korinne: i’m taking notes i’m taking notes


Dom: i’m pretty sure that everybody here like tacos

Julie: did you just make a taco reference porter

Dom: yeah

Julie: oh yeah tacos are tasty


Korinne: it was such a great opportunity 

Porter: it was an organic drop it really was

Dom: it was you did not even plan it


Korinne: all right so speaking of uh crazy times um 

we’re in a pandemic still um and this


Korinne: is a question for everyone um what have you all 

been doing to keep your heads up and stay positive


Korinne: and um maintaining your energy and ambitions 

towards things that you’re most passionate about


Korinne: and uh randi i’ll start with you again for that one 

Randi: sure yeah um so i actually took this um


Randi: opportunity i just saw this i saw this 

pandemic as an opportunity to recharge


Randi: in a way that we’ve never been able to uh before 

and likely we’ll never ever be able to ever again


Randi: um outside of this this specific pandemic so 

i just spent a lot of my time being out in the


Randi: sunshine unlike i’ve never been able to and being 

alone with myself but also with friends and family


Randi: um and you know they helped me with the laughter 

to recharge and refill my uh refill my cup


Randi: but um but when it comes to like staying motive 

motivated i just kind of remind myself that


Randi: um the things that i’m doing like the direction 

the ways i want to you know help change


Randi: the world like what is going to make me happier 

or like less miserable doing something or not


Randi: doing something and it’ll always be you know doing 

something is always going to keep me happier so


Dom: wow that’s so beautiful 

Randi: my motivation is for sure 

Dom: wow good for you dude that’s incredible


Porter: think yeah it’s interesting because this pandemic 

and this year has hit everybody so differently


Porter: and so many of us are so fortunate just with what 

we do have um but then it makes you feel bad for


Porter: even being down or for feeling for feeling like 

you you feel you shouldn’t feel um and i think


Porter: for me it’s been helpful to find joy in just 

everything like when i step outside to meditate


Porter: in the morning i’m like oh the sun is shining the 

sun is perfect the sun is like the sun is doing


Porter: its job for us right now the grass is growing 

the grass is beautiful um you know just finding


Porter: joy and and like thinking through everything that 

i’m doing and just what it’s really bringing me i


Porter: think has been super helpful um for me personally at least 

Dom: beautiful gratitude eh it will save you


Korinne: so d2 do you want to add on to that 

D2: yeah um i mean being outside has been


D2: like it’s increased a lot which is like i think 

you you think you spend a lot of time outside and


D2: then you realize that you don’t um when you’re 

forced to stay inside and all you want to do is


D2: go outside um and so yeah going outside um even 

if it’s just like going out and sitting in my


D2: yard like it’s just been amazing i’ve also been 

focusing not surprising on a lot of art um but i


D2: always would say i didn’t have time for it and um 

i think that’s been the biggest lesson too is like


D2: um realizing all the times we say we don’t have 

time for stuff when really like we’re just sitting


D2: on the couch on our phones you know being pulled 

in by social media or youtube rabbit holes or


D2: you know and it’s like oh yeah but i don’t have 

time for that you know but you don’t realize the


D2: time you’re wasting on non-essentials i think 

that’s been my biggest thing is like realizing


D2: the time that was spent on non-essentials 

like spending more time as a family like


D2: really focusing on that um has been 

awesome um and so yeah i think slowing down


D2: and like really evaluating how time was spent um 

and like money was spent you know i mean we are


D2: like crazy movie people in our household we love 

movies and like we would go to the theater like


D2: probably three or four times a month like it was 

ridiculous um and it’s like i haven’t been to a


D2: movie theater in six months and i don’t miss it 

like and so but it’s weird like but it took this


D2: for me to realize like that was a waste of money 

it was a waste of time like we could have gone on


D2: a hike you know all those types of things and so i 

think kind of just slowing down and opening up and


D2: realizing how you were spending your time and how 

you could be spending it in a more valuable way as


D2: far as like building relationships and connections and all those those types of things 

Julie: i think that’s


Julie: so important d2 like i want to go off a little 

bit the whole like evaluating how you’re spending


Julie: your time because i think during this period um 

i was really focused on like why i’m spending my


Julie: time doing these things and you know those times 

that you’re infinitely scrolling on your phone


Julie: you may be doing that for a reason like i 

don’t know about y’all or everyone watching but


Julie: like hands up depression anxiety all those 

things my whole life so like really evaluating


Julie: in especially a pandemic like why do i find 

myself on the couch more than often or why


Julie: do i feel better today like oh i meditated twice 

today already i did some cardio today or i like


Julie: picked up the phone and talked to a friend so like 

really breaking down during this time why you feel


Julie: you need distraction or you feel down versus like 

why you feel happy and figuring out what those


Julie: things are so you can start like pulling them out 

of your little basket when you actually need them


Korinne: yeah definitely definitely i feel like even 

for myself um covid gave me the opportunity


Korinne: to to discover like i didn’t like my job and 

i wanted to do something else so a lot of


Korinne: a lot of real realizations and and good things 

came from it even though it’s such like a horrible


Korinne: time and and people are going through some really um hard times so 

Dom: yeah

Julie: for sure like what is this


Julie: darkness trying to teach everyone like just like 

our own personal shadow sides we exist with these


Julie: things all the time so what can you learn from it 

Korinne: definitely a learning opportunity for sure


Korinne: so i wanted to switch gears a little bit 

and talk about the lgbtq2ia+ community


Korinne: um start the wave since the rebirth 

dom since your coming out since the


Korinne: rainbow waves i have seen the amount of people 

that i’ve seen come forward and they’re younger


Korinne: and younger every i feel like every time i see 

and they’re starting to discover themselves and


Korinne: they and they give credit to start the wave and i 

just wanted to know um what advice would you give


Korinne: to these younger people that are coming 

forward and trying to discover themselves


Korinne: and um like what would what would you say to 

them and porter i’ll start with you for this one


Porter: um i would say similar to to all of the other 

things you’re committing to so when we spoke


Porter: about veganism similar to that journey and just 

being patient with yourself along your journey


Porter: because a lot of people um especially now it’s 

amazing how much positive representation there


Porter: is of that community and like we did not have that 

you know even five years ago um and i’ll be honest


Porter: i did come to terms with my sexuality and and 

realize what was going on with myself when i did


Porter: see it it was the show called south of nowhere and 

it just like oh yeah have you guys seen it like


Porter: man that show i was like wait are are these 

two wait they’re they they’re kissing they’re


Porter: two girls two girls they’re but they’re kissing i 

grew up in like northern minnesota and you didn’t


Porter: you didn’t see that like that was not a thing it 

didn’t exist if it did exist people spoke ill of


Porter: it and it it was so unfortunate um so i i just 

think people need to to see that representation


Porter: and then when you feel like you know maybe 

maybe you’re not conforming to what you’ve


Porter: been told is normal let that journey happen 

but don’t automatically put yourself in a box


Porter: like just because you’ve seen something and you 

feel something when you see it doesn’t mean that


Porter: you have to be placed in a box man you 

don’t have to ever put yourself in a box


Porter: um that’s why the big the big q is awesome 

that was a q q yeah it’s awesome because


Porter: you can just say yeah man i’m queer and like 

don’t even define yourself you don’t have to


Porter: um you can figure it out in life’s journey and be 

patient and there are going to be times that are


Porter: going to be hard it’s going to be difficult 

and push through man like you have support


Porter: you will always have people if nobody else you 

have the start the wave community man like 

Dom: yeah


Porter: there we go everybody is here for you and don’t 

do not get yourself too down like if you have a


Porter: bad day cool but then you know what bring yourself 

back up take a look at these posts watch uh wynonna


Porter: earp you can see man like representation’s there you’re not alone you can do this  

Julie: Yesss!

Dom: Yes porter! just getting a little rainbow flag out


Julie: oh so good it’s so true with the whole box 

thing like i love that because it’s like


Julie: you know what somewhere along the lines because 

the original way of living there were no boxes


Julie: like some boxes were brought in this like 

cis heteronormative idea so if you feel like


Julie: you’re anything but that just i encourage 

you so much to not try to find another box


Julie: because everything about our existence is fluid 

you know our sexuality how we choose to present


Julie: to the world how we identify on the inside who we 

love who we don’t love it’s so ever evolving and


Julie: if you’re trying to put your sights on this box in 

the distance where you’re like oh i think that’s


Julie: me and i want to go in it to feel safe i just 

really encourage you to like sit with yourself


Julie: and have like beautiful expansive conversations 

with people you feel safe with to constantly talk


Julie: about the ebbs and flows of the way you present 

in your sexuality and how you feel because


Julie: it is this lifelong beautiful fluid journey and 

the more we’re all giving that grace to ourselves


Julie: and not gatekeeping ourselves that means the 

more we will be gatekeeping our community


Julie: because like we don’t need gatekeepers we 

just need this like nurturing love of living


Julie: your authentic self however that looks in this 

moment in this year in this decade in your life


Julie: just be you in every single moment 

Korinne: that’s really great advice


Dom:you guys

Korinne: i know

Dom: Korinne I told you eh?


Julie: do you have this proud founder moment 

Dom: i’m just like have you seen my cheeks 

Korinne: yeah proud mom


Dom: the classic like but like for real it’s just 

like there’s a lot of love in my heart right now


Korinne: does anyone else wish to uh touch on that 

Dom: i felt i feel like they they said it all


Dom: so beautifully 

Julie: i want to say one more thing 

Korinne/Dom: go for it


Julie: i want to like touch on the whole like uh there’s the one slightly negative and i will bring it up about the queer community is a


Julie: lot of times we have this perspective of oh you’re 

not one of us and i just want to crush that you’re


Julie: all one of us you are all one of us no matter 

where you feel you are in this beautiful spectrum


Julie: you you are queer and we love you and just 

be yourself and i don’t care if that looks


Julie: like a certain sort of box just be yourself 

we love you you are part of the community


Dom: yeah so true 

D2: yeah very well said

Korinne: all right guys well we’re at the time where we


Korinne: have to start wrapping it up unfortunately oh there’s so many questions

Dom: we could talk all day couldn’t we


Korinne: good i say


Korinne: uh start the wave team panel round two 

Julie: yeah same time tomorrow?

Korinne: yes same time tomorrow i don’t think we have panel then


Korinne: so i just want to say thank every single one of 

you for taking the time to participate in this and


Korinne: we are so excited to be giving our net profit to 

you guys i couldn’t think of a better place to put


Korinne: that towards um so 

Dom: thank you so much gratitude you have no 

idea you guys are incredible and this has been so


Dom: fun i don’t know how the other team members 

Korinne: hey hey hey

Dom: feel but it’s just like it’s a real defining moment



Julie: we all quit, Dom’s getting a resignation email from every single one of us


Porter: speaking of the profits going to start the 

wave um as everybody knows with the pandemic


Porter: we had to push submissions and we wanted to 

get you know project submissions in so that


Porter: we could fund those grassroots uh efforts and *drumroll*

we are accepting them starting november 1st


Dom: yay! 

Porter: everybody get ready and we’ll we’ll be live on the site november 1st for project


Porter: submissions from the 1st to the 15th um we’re 

super stoked like this is going to be awesome


Porter: so excited to see what everybody comes up with 

and what we can help make happen 

Dom: yeah absolutely


Korinne: that is so incredible 

D2: we have a lot of stuff coming up in the next couple of months i’m excited


Dom: yeah there’s there’s a lot yeah it feels like a 

very yet another very sort of defining moment in


Dom: the evolution of start the wave and you know like 

we were talking about COVID it it we have been


Dom: so lucky in a sense uh to have had this time to 

be able to slow down and really think about what


Dom: it is we want to do and how we’re going to do 

it so exciting things coming as you say porter


Dom: submissions opening which is awesome if you know 

every i’d say to everyone keep your eyes and ears


Dom: open for any little grassroots initiatives that 

you feel could do with some support you know um


Dom: we are we are open to all of them so that 

we can try and create as many positive


Dom: waves as possible and yeah just thank you 

so much to every single person that like


Dom: showed up today and and took an hour has it been 

an hour an hour out of their day to like listen


Dom: to uh you know our journey and um and keep 

keep going on your own journey to positive


Dom: change because it looks different for everyone 

and that’s the thing that is really coming true


Dom: oh my god i’m so sorry but jann arden’s just 

walking past with her dog at the moment which


Dom: is hilarious i’m at jann arden’s house and sat in her 

in the back and the signal’s best in the van so


Dom: there you go that’s a nice way to end but um no 

what i would say is that like positive change


Dom: looks different for everyone and um one thing 

that from my own personal experience um as i


Dom: was growing up i felt very overwhelmed as we’ve 

spoken about all of the different places where


Dom: i felt like i needed to put my focus and 

attention to create positive change in the world


Dom: and it’s unsustainable and exhausting to be 

overworking yourself like that like uh i feel


Dom: like a almost so stressed to to um put a 

foot in every pond is that an expression


Korinne: it is now

Dom: it is now it is now


Dom: i don’t know why foot in every pond but but

D2: i can envisage that very well

Dom: yeah, can you? i can envision that too


Dom: personal joke, anyway but what i would say is 

it looks different for everyone


Dom: keep like really checking in with yourself and 

um you know we’re talking about authenticity


Dom: we’re talking about uh connecting with who you 

really are at your core and it’s just like it’s a


Dom: it’s both a journey of you know seeing where you 

can be of surface but also like what speaks to you


Dom: and what lights you up because that’s where real 

sustainable change comes because i think there’s a


Dom: very common misconception that to create positive 

change in the world you have to sacrifice things


Dom: and i actually don’t think that that’s true and 

as i’m sort of the the insights that are coming


Dom: through at the moment for me is like we need all 

different types of change makers in the world


Dom: and what’s going to speak to one person is is 

not going to speak to the other but that’s great


Dom: that’s good we should be celebrating and uplifting 

each other and their differences rather than


Dom: judging people for not being like you you know 

we we need to be continuing to um to amplify


Dom: each other rather than uh put people down so 

with that in mind gonna have a beautiful day


Dom: and yeah i was gonna say i was gonna say start 

the wave which is a very quality way to end it but


Korinne: all right well now we now 

we have to end it that way


Korinne: i can’t i can’t top that 

Porter: should we all like do a wave like 

Julie: i would say like


Julie: how do we how do we 

D2: i don’t know how we are all aligned i think we all have a different view


Julie: or like one of these ones?

Dom: yeah that’s that’s uh


Korinne: no that doesn’t work either but um thank you guys 

so so much and thank you for being a part of this


Korinne: team and and making such a difference this team 

is i think i told porter this what i would call


Korinne: a dream team seriously you guys are amazing and 

now everybody knows who the team is 

Dom: yeah exactly


Dom: yay

Porter: thanks korinne

Everyone: thank you so much

Dom: bye everyone have a good one



[Korinne]: hello everybody and welcome back to earp 

curse con’s start the wave team panel 2.0


[Korinne]: i’m korinne your moderator and back with 

us we have d2 addie randi porter and dom


[Korinne]: happy halloween everyone 

[Everyone]: happy halloween!


[Korinne]: i feel like we need to go around and uh 

share our costumes d2 lead the way


[D2]: i’m jeremy obviously 

[Korinne]: clearly 

[D2]: yeah i had to go earp for this


[Korinne]:of course of course


[Dom]: did you have your jacket and everything already 

[D2]: i did that’s why i picked it like we have we’ve been big on halloween


[D2]: um until toby got too old um 

[Dom]: what?!

[D2]: and then so we have like i know he’s a buzzkill but


[D2]: uh we have like huge rubbermaid tubs full 

of like all of our old halloween costume


[D2]: stuff and we have this we did back to the 

future and i made my husband dress up as doc


[D2]: and so i had the lab coat and i was like oh i could be jeremy easy beautiful 

[Korinne]: randi 

[Randi]: maleficent


[Korinne]: and porter and dom tell us all about it what do we got going on 

[Porter]: you want to show the full appeal


[Porter]: yeah you can’t really see it um i’m mr green with the wrench

[Dom]: and i am the colonel mustard

[Porter]: in the dining room


[Korinne]: such a good idea such a good idea all right so 

we have a lot of content to get through um and


[Korinne]: i just want to start off right away with some fan 

questions if that’s okay uh dom you can lead the


[Korinne]: way with this question um this first question is 

from lina and lina says i love that start the wave


[Korinne]: is not choosing a single issue to address but 

instead supports many different organizations


[Korinne]: working on different issues this is brilliant how 

did you arrive at this intersectional strategy to


[Korinne]: avoid becoming a one-issue organization 

[Dom]: beautiful thank you lina this seems very odd responding to


[Dom]: this question of colonel mustard here talking 

about positive change today um but yeah now i


[Dom]: think um really we got to this place uh over time 

originally um when i sort of began the idea of


[Dom]: start the wave um it came from a place of feelings my mustache is already falling off 

[Korinne]: sliding


[Dom]: began i suppose um because of a responsibility


[Dom]: to um when i gained a platform to talk about 

some things that uh i felt would be important to


[Dom]: to me obviously having a bit of a nose job here we go there we go


[Dom]: i’ll figure it out i’ll figure it out


[Dom]: i felt responsibility [everyone laughs] this is amazing you know 

i only realized that we had to dress up


[Dom]: this morning for the panel i didn’t i didn’t 

realize that we were going to be dressing up


[Addie]: i have a 10 month old i have to get ready 

for halloween so there’s like this this is


[Addie]: all you get i love you guys so much but i’m 

a tired mom for halloween so there you go


[Dom]: okay so lina i’m going to start again apologies 

for for that uh buffle at the beginning we’re


[Dom]: just getting used to the old monocle and mustache 

situation um yeah originally when i um gained a


[Dom]: platform unexpectedly um i felt a responsibility 

to talk about some of the issues that i felt to


[Dom]: be pressing in the world and so that sort of over 

time developed these six pillars of things that i


[Dom]: feel passionate about myself but one thing 

that’s become clear over the course of this


[Dom]: journey i suppose of creating this amazing 

community is the fact that um in many ways


[Dom]: trying to concentrate on all of the world issues 

that are happening can be quite uh draining and


[Dom]: unsustainable for an individual and what has 

become clear is that i i believe what is more


[Dom]: important is to connect with the thing that speaks 

to you the most and positive change is infinite


[Dom]: and so it’s important to me to hold space for 

all of it and our start the wave rainbow pillars


[Dom]: is almost a sort of gentle guidance for those uh 

to to explore those subjects that we believe too


[Dom]: there we go it’s coming off we believe needs some contingencies

[Korinne]: i love that answer i love that answer


[Korinne]: um i feel like… i can’t take this.. [everyone laughs]


[Korinne]: alright um…

[Dom]: there we go


[Korinne]: lina has a second question and i’m going to 

um have addie start this off and then randi you


[Korinne]: can add in after if you would like there are so 

many isms to work on at a personal level one of


[Korinne]: the biggest ones is racism how has the start the wave team worked on dismantling


[Korinne]: implicit racial biases inside the team are 

there any trainings you have taken or recommend


[Addie]: yeah this is a great question and i apologize 

if i’m like really fighting the giggles it’s not


[Addie]: at the importance of this question it’s that the 

sheer just uh situation that is dom and porter and


[Addie]: um so i i want to make clear what i’m giggling 

about so i think um yeah it’s a it’s a super


[Addie]: super important question um i think for us uh 

internally um we’ve done a couple things so one is


[Addie]: um we’re working with dr martha sales uh who is at 

my alma mater western kentucky university go tops


[Addie]: um and was my african-american studies professor 

when i was an undergrad there and we’re working


[Addie]: with her specifically on diversity and inclusivity 

uh within the organization and within building


[Addie]: out content that is truly representative of 

this vast and beautiful community um i know


[Addie]: a number of us have also read um me and white 

supremacy by layla f saad that’s her last name um


[Addie]: and are actively if you if you check out our 

black lives matter resources on the web page um


[Addie]: we’re ample so many important uh beautifully 

articulated and well voices black voices during


[Addie]: uh like from here on out right because it is 

so important um and uh some additional work


[Addie]: i think is is recognizing that um recognizing 

our own places of privilege of white privilege


[Addie]: um and really um taking ownership for our 

part and all of it doing the work to both


[Addie]: um learn about that and then unlearn all 

of the things that got us to this point


[Addie]: so i think for us it’s really important to to 

dig in and build that foundation within ourselves


[Addie]: and then share what we’re learning and 

share our own um you know missteps and um


[Addie]: epiphanies with the community i think it is it’s 

really important to recognize that this is like


[Addie]: a journey it’s not a destination there’s always 

going to be things to learn there are always going


[Addie]: to be things to unlearn as we go forward in the 

world and have different experiences there will


[Addie]: there will give rise to things within our own 

lives that we have to address or have to figure


[Addie]: out how to handle like personally i’m raising a 

daughter who is going to be 11 months really soon


[Addie]: and it it very much um has been a critical 

for me to think about not only how do i model


[Addie]: behaviors but how do i pass those on to her as 

well and teach her how to be a very thoughtful


[Addie]: and um you know cognizant citizen of the world 

so i think for us it’s it’s really been um a lot


[Addie]: of just educating on our own is how we’re handling 

it internally um and then also moving forward with


[Addie]: thinking about how to how do we diversify the 

group of folks that you see on the screen here


[Addie]: because it it is something that is hugely top 

of mind for us critically important but we want


[Addie]: to make sure that we’re doing uh when we bring 

anybody on to the team um we want to make sure


[Addie]: that we’re doing that in a way that is setting 

that person up for success um that is thoughtful


[Addie]: um and it’s not performative right so um and it’s 

that’s not an easy undertaking it’s really not


[Addie]: so it involves some external guidance which we’ve 

gotten with dr sales which has been hugely helpful


[Addie]: um it takes a little bit of time and it also takes 

a lot of really important internal conversations


[Addie]: about how do we want to show up how do we want 

to grow as an organization and how do we want


[Addie]: to sort of model um that thought process in our 

own lives and and to the rest of you as well um


[Addie]: the mustache

[Dom]: yeah this monocle… at least we figure it now instead of later i need to find a solution


[Addie]: you’re making my top lip… (cannot hear Addie here)


[Dom]: i’m gonna give it up 

[Randi]: so for me as a person of color coming on the team it’s actually been really


[Randi]: heartwarming to see um the team actually reflect 

on any feedback that they’ve been given and that


[Randi]: we’ve been given and be like okay time to alter 

that um and that’s a common thing that i see


[Randi]: see within the team is that okay this language 

is not you know it doesn’t serve anyone anymore


[Randi]: it’s time to shift that language so that’s 

been really really heartwarming for me um


[Randi]: and i think it’s just a good reminder um for 

everyone we’ve we’ve been everyone has been um


[Randi]: we’ve all grown up in this society where that is 

basically based on white supremacy so everyone


[Randi]: whoever you are you’re gonna have biases and 

it’s important to know that it’s not it’s not


[Randi]: i’m not racist it’s what are my biases and once 

when someone challenges me on it accept it as


[Randi]: something really good like okay my language or 

whatever it is my actions are harming someone what


[Randi]: can i do to to shift that um and then and then do 

that i was taking this amazing training by this uh


[Randi]: change maker uh kevin sutton and he actually did 

this this beautiful training um with my teammates


[Randi]: um a couple years ago of of recognizing how 

bipoc navigate the world and and how he did it


[Randi]: excuse me was he basically um told everyone to go 

around in the room and ask and ask questions about


[Randi]: each other personal questions about each other 

but the but you couldn’t repeat a question so


[Randi]: i think you had to ask like five questions give 

the answer and then go around to the rest of the


[Randi]: team well in everyday inevitably you run out of 

answers to give to people um and so his challenge


[Randi]: at the end was okay what um didn’t you answer 

uh why didn’t you answer it so basically it was


[Randi]: i didn’t give them information that i was fearful 

of a reaction for um and he said now imagine


[Randi]: you had to navigate that world not being able to 

hide that answer and it just blew my mind because


[Randi]: it was like okay color of my skin means i’m gonna 

be fearful of certain actions but i can’t hide it


[Randi]: and i just thought it was so brilliant 

the way he he did that training and i


[Randi]: think trainings like that are so so important 

because they really put you in a position where


[Randi]: you’re like huh i never thought that like of 

course you you as a as a person of color as bipoc


[Randi]: you go into this world and expect you know certain 

reactions from people uh that you can’t hide


[Randi]: um so anyway i just thought that was really really 

really it was incredible and and everyone like

[Dom]: that’s beautiful


[Randi]: needed a break they’re like okay it kind of just 

sunk in and i was like this is amazing because


[Randi]: it was finally someone seeing something from my 

perspective like a life a small little look into


[Randi]: you know how i see the world and it was i just 

think it’s really important to open your mind


[Randi]: to learning and to accepting um accepting things 

like that with grace and wanting to continue to grow


[Dom]: exactly [Porter]: well said both of you yeah 

[Korinne]: thank you for sharing that thank you for sharing that randi


[Korinne]: um i think it’s always important um addie like you 

said to always um know that there’s room to grow


[Korinne]: and things to learn and yeah yeah so thank you 

for sharing that that was amazing um so our next


[Korinne]: question is from laura dom you can go ahead and 

answer this if you would like besides meditation


[Korinne]: will start the wave upload more content on 

youtube like fashion or food recipes


[Dom]: very likely i think one of the um one of the 

sort of core foundations of start the wave


[Dom]: is um going with the flow and um allowing for 

inspiration to come in and show up in the way that


[Dom]: that feels right in the moment so uh my answer 

would probably be yes absolutely open to it all


[Dom]: and yet not putting pressure on any of it you know 

i think that that is what i have learned to be uh


[Dom]: the best way to navigate start the wave um there 

are constantly new energies coming in different


[Dom]: people’s ideas different sort of collective ideas 

the community that are giving feedback and um


[Dom]: the most important thing is that we stay open and 

receptive to that uh so i i i what were the two


[Dom]: that they said meditation and food recipes [Korinne]:  fashion fashion

[Dom]: fashion [Korinne]: i believe you did yeah you did a fashion


[Dom]: um well we did uh with kat we did a bit of a sort 

of awareness around around um consuming [Korinne]: right


[Dom]: and uh and buying for you know giving up fast 

fashion which i think was really important um but


[Dom]: yeah i’m not sure what the future is going to look 

like but i think in many ways that’s the beauty


[Dom]: of it um and open open to all of it and i think 

one thing that um is really exciting with with


[Dom]: what we’ve just launched on social media um 

is that really uh the community in many ways


[Dom]: are going to be fueling a lot of what is coming to 

the surface and the stuff that we put out and that


[Dom]: really excites me to see the inspiration 

that’s coming from you guys to see what


[Dom]: what’s interesting you and then i’m sure that that 

will also influence the things that are coming up


[Korinne]: yeah letting it come naturally [Dom]: yeah exactly 

[Korinne]: and congratulations on the social media evolution launch


[Dom]: thank you i appreciate it [Korinne]: um okay d2 you’re up 

[Dom]: sorry jeremy actually [Korinne]: i mean sorry i’m so sorry


[Korinne]: jeremy one of the most shared quotes from the 

start the wave video is kindness breeds kindness


[Korinne]: and jeremy you recently celebrated your 

birthday with that except exact concept


[Korinne]: in mind with the start the wave hat giveaway which 

was incredible um can you share the impact of that


[D2]: yeah um i mean i was completely blown away 

i’ve i’ve done many giveaways on twitter um


[D2]: you know i used to work with sandy my friend we 

did SandyTilDawn giveaways and um it had been


[D2]: a minute since i’d done something like that 

and i knew that i wanted to give away a hat


[D2]: um during our campaign and i was like i’ll just 

do it on my birthday you know i’d rather give than


[D2]: receive and so um you know i’ll just put up a hat 

have people enter and you know i’ll give one away


[D2]: and over the four days it was like i would get 

a dm and it’s like hey i want to add a hat to it


[D2]: so we can have two winners and i was like oh okay 

cool you know and then it was like hey i want to


[D2]: add a hat hey i want to add a hat and like in the 

by the end of the four days we had 20 hats um that


[D2]: were given to people that would not have otherwise 

been able to buy one and i like the generosity and


[D2]: like just everyone jumping on board just like i 

mean i can’t even describe like the feeling that


[D2]: it gave me um because i really like i mean that 

is the epitome of kindness breathing kindness like


[D2]: if you see someone doing something good you’re 

inspired to do it you know um and then i’ve seen


[D2]: that with so many different things you know last 

time with the earp curse con cleanup like people saw me


[D2]: and my friends out cleaning the the park and we’re 

like what are you guys doing and we were just


[D2]: like oh we’re just you know cleaning up the park 

there’s a bunch of trash around and they were like


[D2]: you’re just doing it on your own and i’m like yeah 

and they were like i’m gonna do that next weekend


[D2]: like i don’t know if they did but like 

they saw that and it bred that kindness


[D2]: you know for our earth and you know you hold the 

door for someone and someone sees it and then


[D2]: they hold the door for the next person you know 

and so yeah i think um i think there’s a reason


[D2]: that kindness brings kindness is one of the 

most shared quotes because i really think it


[D2]: speaks to people on a very like individual like 

deep level um it’s definitely the the quote that


[D2]: spoke to me most um in the last couple years so 

[Korinne]: well thank you thank you for starting that off


[Korinne]: because that had a huge impact on the um 

on the fandom specifically i saw a lot of


[Korinne]: people that were very very grateful for that so thanks d2 

[D2]: yeah for sure [Korinne]: um randi can you


[Korinne]: add your own example of the ripple effects of kindness 

[Randi]: yeah so um


[Randi]: i’m just going to kind of talk about 

like exhaustion and what not


[Randi]: through social media and stuff like that it’s 

kindness on using social media so it’s very


[Randi]: sorry to make bring this low for a second so um


[Randi]: it can be challenging when you’re dealing 

with you know social media and reactions


[Randi]: of people online and whatnot and i think 

it’s important to recognize two things


[Randi]: one there’s trolls and you don’t want to 

engage with trolls um and and two i mean


[Randi]: there’s not a single person in this world who 

is identical and even if you grow up in the same


[Randi]: house you share completely different views 

like i’m vegan my brother eats only meat


[Randi]: very different very different lives and we grew 

up in the same place um so when people react it’s


[Randi]: when they when they come to you and 

it’s and it’s triggering for you


[Randi]: to be kind in those moments i think it’s important 

to kind of like take a step back know that you


[Randi]: know what they’re saying to you is is based 

on something it’s not arbitrary their views aren’t


[Randi]: their views are based on like their experiences 

and whatnot so i think it’s important for you for


[Randi]: us to recognize that like they’re likely there’s 

no mal(icious) intent it’s just a difference of opinion or


[Randi]: difference of views or whatnot and it’s important 

to give yourself a moment if you can’t answer


[Randi]: something right away without feeling negative 

about the situation just give yourself a moment


[Randi]: and then once you’ve given yourself a breather 

then respond and and do it in a way that


[Randi]: that thought allows you to listen to what they’re 

saying even if you don’t agree listen um and


[Randi]: just be as respectful as you can be to your own 

intentions and your own values if you can’t engage


[Randi]: anymore then don’t but but if you want to then you 

know continue the conversation but but that’s what


[Randi]: i mean by like engaging being kind to yourself 

um and being kind to the person with within


[Randi]: your own capacity if that makes any sense 

[Korinne]: yeah of course of course i feel like a lot of people are


[Korinne]: struggling with this you know with covid and 

being stuck inside and constantly being on the


[Korinne]: internet and online and um yeah i could 

definitely use that advice so thank you


[D2]: yeah like kindness with boundaries you 

know i mean exactly the way i look at it


[D2]: like i will be kind to every single person in this 

world but i also have boundaries and i need like


[D2]: to randi’s point i need to be kind to myself that 

if that interaction is not doing good for me like


[D2]: i can’t just be like well i need to be kind and 

deal with it like you need to also set boundaries


[D2]: and be kind to yourself so yeah i love that randi 

[Porter]: well and just keep in mind too um just how you can


[Porter]: impact other people just so simply um hell last 

night i was parking downtown and almost had to pay


[Porter]: for just kind of a stupid amount of money for 

downtown parking somebody was leaving and they


[Porter]: rolled down their window and were like hey do 

you want our ticket we’re actually heading out


[Porter]: did they have to do that absolutely not but they 

took the time and it i’m sure it made them feel


[Porter]: great it made me feel great and now i want to 

pay that forward like it’s like the simplest


[Porter]: things that you can do um and the same goes for 

negativity like negativity breeds negativity


[Porter]: so if you want to go online and you 

want to be that troll and you want to


[Porter]: you know bombard people with negative comments 

and um especially with the online world because


[Porter]: you probably don’t really even know the person 

that you’re bombarding judgments about their life


[Porter]: um that that breeds additional negativity 

so you know put that positive spin on it


[Porter]: and and continue to afford with kindness 

rather than negativity you’ll find yourself a lot happier


[Addie]: one of my new favorite things to do and it’s i 

blame my partner because um he got me started on


[Addie]: tic toc like i don’t post anything i am simply just a 

lurker and d2 knows it’s probably better than


[Addie]: anybody because i find the most random things i’m 

like look at this like watch this person do like


[Addie]: the thing but i call it reverse trolling where 

like i’ll just literally go on and like write


[Addie]: something nice on every person thing that i see 

because they a lot of the things that are posted


[Addie]: are people saying like you know it really hurts 

my feelings when this happens or whatever and


[Addie]: it takes 10 seconds to go and be like you’re 

beautiful and like and sincerely mean that


[Addie]: um but it and like now my husband does it too it’s 

just you know it’s it’s a little something like


[Addie]: intentionally go out and spread kindness and you 

don’t have to you have to leave your house to do


[Addie]: it you don’t have to move to do it like you’ve 

got your phone um switch your mindset about it


[Addie]: a little bit and it does i mean it it’s 

twofold right it gives to that person and


[Addie]: it also gives back to you as well it it changes 

the chemistry in your brain yeah [Dom]: scientifically


[Porter (in an accent)]: yeah yeah yeah i have heard that to be true 

[Dom]: i believe it’s science [Porter]: i think it might be science [everyone laughs]


[Porter]: yeah it’s science it’s science 

[Korinne]: oh my goodness sorry um uh that was that was incredible i kind of i


[Korinne]: kind of want you guys to answer the rest 

of the questions like that [Porter]: i was just telling you i


[Porter]: can put an accent for like two sentences and 

then it’ll turn either jamaican or australian [everyone laughs]


[Korinne]: um we’ll see if you can answer this 

next question porter with that accent


[Korinne]: um so the election is in two days um 

and with that coming up in the political


[Korinne]: climate uh that the world is in at the moment 

what are some ways that the lgbtqia+


[Korinne]: community can fight for their rights um and 

how can allies of the community support those


[Korinne]: that are within the community 

[Porter]: yeah um i think they’re oh wait i don’t know if i can do it


[Porter]: am i going for your accent is that what i meant 

okay um this is why i’m not an actress i have


[Dom]: i should have lied [Korinne]: it’s all right you get a pass 

[Porter in an accent]: i think that there are a couple of ways that people


[Porter in an accent]: can really show up for their community um i i 

think the number one thing you could be doing


[Porter in an accent]: um especially in america at this time um it certain to go australian [D2]: it’s australian now. it’s australian now. [everyone laughs]


[Porter in an accent]: it is to get out there and to vote


[Porter in an accent]: um everybody knows right now it is absolutely 

crucial to get people in office who will fight


[Porter in an accent]: for us um unfortunately it comes down from the top 

and so those in power put in place the regulations


[Porter in an accent]: and laws that um protect us both protect us and 

um provide us the the freedoms that we all seek


[Porter in an accent]: um i think beyond that um i mean 

america’s got a lot going on but then also


[Porter in an accent]: in other countries worldwide there are many many 

many worse things happening to the community


[Porter in an accent]: and so it’s definitely not australian and so [Korinne]: you did good 

[Porter]: if you if you can even support organizations


[Porter]: um through your dollar or um through through 

your activism through your volunteer work um even


[Porter]: if you can volunteer your time there’s so many 

wonderful organizations that you can partake in


[Porter]: that help and fight for those rights worldwide 

and so um you know that that’s a prime example


[Porter]: of like voting with your dollar you know 

contributing to those organizations and if


[Porter]: you haven’t got money reach out and see if 

there’s any sort of work you can be doing


[Porter]: as you guys see even with start the wave here we 

all do remote work and so we all contribute in


[Porter]: different ways but you could do that for other 

organizations um push your local government


[Porter]: too push them and push them and push them for 

those equal rights show up to the marches and


[Porter]: if you’re not into that kind of stuff because i 

know we’re not all front line people you don’t


[Porter]: have to show up to the march maybe make signs  like give them to those that are marching


[Porter]: um ask them what else you can do if you can work 

a table or a booth basically show up and we just


[Porter]: need numbers we need to show the world we’re 

here we’re queer and we deserve f****** equality


[Randi]: amen 

[Korinne]: fantastic um and for the for the second part of this question um i know i have like family


[Korinne]: friends and people that are always like as an ally 

i’m not a part of the community but what can i do


[Korinne]: to help um and so yeah 

[Porter]: like people need to speak up i think that’s one thing


[Porter]: i myself do not do enough and i’m so sorry i i 

put you off there because i was so like excited


[Porter]: that’s fine um yeah speak up when you hear 

homophobic transphobic comments say something


[Porter]: when you when you hear somebody just just being 

inappropriate or you hear somebody being targeted


[Porter]: don’t sit quiet you need to speak up and um i 

understand that it’s uncomfortable it’s very


[Porter]: uncomfortable it’s uncomfortable for every one of 

us it’s not easy and you feel your heart racing


[Porter]: you feel that’s actually how i ended up coming 

out to my grandma is like me ending up speaking


[Porter]: out for the LGBTQ2IA+ community because 

she just kept going and i could feel it i could


[Porter]: feel it measuring it up and it was in my throat [Dom]: it’s so intense it’s so intense isn’t it. [Porter]: it’s so intense and i finally just was like


[Porter]: i know that people don’t choose to be 

gay because i am and immediately was like


[Porter]: yeah it’s terrifying and it’s terrifying to step 

especially in you know hard to speak up in certain situations but do


[Porter]: it um i think things as simple as um a place that 

i play sand volleyball at put a rainbow flag out


[Porter]: and i was overjoyed because 

it just makes you know like


[Porter]: you are you are somebody there and you 

can feel comfortable to be yourself


[Porter]: um so i think speak up and just don’t feel bad 

about expressing that you you’re an ally like


[Porter]: that sure if you hold the rainbow flag put that 

thing out and be like yeah i’m not part of the


[Porter]: community but i am an ally of it that’s awesome 

[Korinne]: yeah it’s it’s the little things and sometimes the


[Porter]: hardest conversations are the ones that need to 

be had the most um yeah so [Dom]: there’s so much power (hard to hear what Dom’s saying)


[Dom]: i i think it’s important for allies to feel 

like they can’t because they’re not part of the


[Dom]: community if anything there’s more there is a lot 

of power in them speaking out as somebody who is


[Dom]: straight cis or whatever and because they may be 

able to relate to other people who aren’t seeing


[Dom]: it necessarily in the same way through a different 

lens you know because they they share the same


[Dom]: um identity in some way so so there’s a lot of 

power in that and sorry yeah piggybacked with your


[Dom]: answer you said some other things [Porter]: yeah that’s good 

[Dom]: but yeah like just knowing that that that you have you have just


[Dom]: as much of a place and such an important role in 

um in moving this movement forward [Korinne]: right that you


[Korinne]: belong um so while we’re on this topic um porter 

during the first start the wave team panel you had


[Korinne]: mentioned that when it comes to finding ourselves 

and finding which label if any label fits us best


[Korinne]: that we should not place ourselves 

into a box based off of social norms


[Korinne]: and how society portrays sexual identities um d2 

can you if you would like to answer this first


[Korinne]: and addie you can add on um how as a society 

can we break away from these social norms and


[Korinne]: help every human fully live their most authentic 

lives no matter what they choose to identify as


[D2]: yeah um i think porter um porter and julie both 

last time i think um you know i walked away from


[D2]: that panel with that answer about the boxes and 

then julie’s comments about the gatekeeping and


[D2]: not being queer enough and not belonging um you 

know i walked away and kind of reflected on like


[D2]: my own experience you know and you know really 

quick two things like i’m gonna like talk about


[D2]: the negative but we all know the community 

is amazing um but we do have to talk about


[D2]: like where we need the positive change um and 

two i wanna like recognize and acknowledge my


[D2]: privilege as a cis white female i am married to a 

man i could very easily walk around this world and


[D2]: be straight and no one would know the difference 

um and so i understand that i have not had the


[D2]: same experiences that a lot of you have um but 

at the same time like you do also have the same


[D2]: experiences but usually behind the scenes um you 

know personally like my experience i came out very


[D2]: late in life and it was literally because of the 

boxes um you know i came out at like 35 and it’s


[D2]: because when i was questioning everything a bi 

box a pan box those didn’t exist like when you


[D2]: brought that up it was like that’s not a box you 

have to be this or this and it was like oh oh okay


[D2]: well i guess i’ll just pick this then and go with 

it um and then you know you have to go through


[D2]: that experience of realizing that you don’t need 

to be in a box you know and it took me a while


[D2]: um you know i was always already married i was a 

mom like and then i was just like no this is my


[D2]: truth and i’m gonna speak it and it doesn’t matter 

i could have very easily just kept my mouth shut


[D2]: um but then once i came out then like the 

gatekeeping and what julie brought up came out


[D2]: you know is am i queer enough like do i actually 

belong because i i don’t appear to belong you know


[D2]: um and then it you know reflecting on that last 

time it made me look at like the divisions within


[D2]: our community i think it was our biggest detriment 

and i think it’s what holds us back um you know


[D2]: we’re as a community like we could just be one you 

know one community it doesn’t matter who we are


[D2]: and instead you know there’s people that don’t 

want to accept trans women there’s people that


[D2]: don’t want to understand or see bi or pan 

or they don’t want to accept non-binary like


[D2]: as a community we should just be accepting of 

everybody it shouldn’t matter like you know


[D2]: porter said a little bit ago like we’re here we’re 

queer it shouldn’t matter if someone comes to us


[D2]: and says i’m queer we shouldn’t say okay but like 

how queer like who like who you dated who have you


[D2]: you know slept with who how do you identify like 

are you are you trans like it shouldn’t matter


[D2]: they should just say we’re queer and we should 

just open like open our arms and accept them um


[D2]: and i always tie everything to a movie because i’m 

a huge movie buff i mentioned that last time and


[D2]: for some reason now and then kept coming up you 

know super 90s like coming of age girl movie but


[D2]: in that movie they play red rover um and i don’t 

know why i just kept thinking of this but like


[D2]: the whole point of red rover is to stand as this 

united front hold hands and not let anyone through


[D2]: and when i look at the divisions that we have 

you know and if we were to play red rover and


[D2]: people were like well i don’t know if i want to 

hold their hand because they’re trans and i don’t


[D2]: really think they fit in the community like 

can i go hold this person’s hand instead


[D2]: if we have those divisions and we have those 

worries within our own community we’re not


[D2]: going to be very strong playing that game but 

if we accept everyone no matter who they are


[D2]: how they identify no matter what and we just grab 

their hand and hold on as tight as we possibly can


[D2]: nobody running at us at full speed no one telling 

us we shouldn’t get married that we shouldn’t be


[D2]: able to adopt kids that we shouldn’t be able 

to be in the military we have no rights to


[D2]: medical insurance none of that would get through 

like we would knock all of them on their asses


[D2]: and that’s what i want to see like that’s what 

i think the community needs to do is that we


[D2]: just need to attend everybody and like stand 

united and just be like like we’re here and


[D2]: this is who we are and you’re not gonna f*** with us um and like if we are that community


[D2]: imagine the waves we could make like [Porter]: f*** yes

[D2]: that’s really what it comes down to


[Korinne]: d2 you’re making me have feelings


[Porter]: the imagery man i pictured all of us 

around the world like joining hands [Korinne]: I know


[Korinne]: thank you for uh sharing a little bit of 

your own experience there and um yeah well


[Korinne]: i don’t even know where to go from there um 

okay um so just switch gears a little bit um


[Korinne]: addie this next question is for you and again this 

is one of my favorite things about start the wave


[Korinne]: um start the wave is continuously listening and 

growing especially after feedback is given from


[Korinne]: the community this is just another reason why i 

believe this non-profit is so successful in its


[Korinne]: mission it’s been noticed by many people that 

start the wave is continuing to become more and


[Korinne]: more accessible online do you all enjoy getting 

constructive criticism and how do you think it has


[Korinne]: helped um start the wave grow 

[Addie]: yeah great question and i um i have a lot of animals and they’re like


[Addie]: behind me doing some shenanigans so if you 

hear some random things apologies in advance


[Addie]: um yeah so i think uh constructive 

uh being the operative word there


[Addie]: is really helpful um we are a small group 

uh we have a lot of shared experiences and


[Addie]: a lot of different experiences and we have this 

incredible vast diverse and beautiful community


[Addie]: um who have no doubt had more experiences 

than we have right and so if we have if


[Addie]: we say a thing in a way and it could be 

said in a different way or a better way we


[Addie]: are open and welcome to that feedback um i 

think it is there have been a lot of times when


[Addie]: it’s definitely helped us grow or challenged us 

to think in a different way um at the same time


[Addie]: i think it’s it’s really important to consider 

again that we are a very small team and so um


[Addie]: a lot of the there there there will definitely 

i i can you can take this to the bank there will


[Addie]: definitely be times when something is going on in 

the world or something is um you might be waiting


[Addie]: for us to speak on a thing we are hyper aware of 

it and are actively working on the best way to


[Addie]: come forward with that information but it’s 

not something that can automatically happen


[Addie]: um we all have full-time jobs and families 

and are involved in our communities and so um


[Addie]: it is uh again there will be there will be times 

that there there might be a little bit of a delay


[Addie]: there or it is there is a perception that we’re 

not um as involved or we care about something as


[Addie]: much as we actually do so um i think the and i 

think it goes back to kindness right like there


[Addie]: is a kindness and saying and reaching out and 

saying hey i noticed that you said this thing


[Addie]: um this is my experience and maybe consider this 

we are open for that all day long um and are


[Addie]: grateful to the people who who reach out and share 

that with us um we may not be able to respond to


[Addie]: all of you um again small team but um yeah we’re 

definitely definitely open and appreciative um of


[Addie]: that feedback i think we are um you know our goal 

is to create an experience and a resource and a


[Addie]: platform uh for a vast group of folks and and with 

that we have to be open and receptive and able to


[Addie]: be nimble and pivot when that’s necessary um while 

still holding true and balancing the core reason


[Addie]: of why we’re here and really staying true to dom’s 

vision for what start the wave is and so um yeah i


[Addie]: think i i would only ask to recognize that we’re 

trying to maintain that balance um to know that


[Addie]: we’re grateful for those who have reached out with 

and shared their experiences about um whatever it


[Addie]: is like black lives matter or their experience 

uh being a part of the LGBTQ2IA+ community


[Addie]: et cetera all that stuff um but it’s uh yeah we’re 

just grateful i guess i can i can end on that yeah


[Korinne]: yeah i have to give the team credit though um on 

some of these topics that take a little bit longer


[Korinne]: to speak on that i said this in the first panel 

start the wave is known for you know collecting


[Korinne]: the correct information before putting 

that out and making sure that it’s right


[Korinne]: before speaking on it and so i think start the 

wave does an incredible job of that and um you


[Korinne]: guys are killing it so 

[Addie]: i really appreciate that and just one more quick thing i mean think about


[Addie]: uh put yourself in our position for like a quick 

second and and think about the huge responsibility


[Addie]: that comes with being a part of this team 

and having this platform and having a direct


[Addie]: um impactful um opportunity to to 

reach out to so many different people


[Addie]: we don’t take that lightly um sorry my cat’s 

like my cat saw your cat right and now she’s like hey what’s up


[Addie]: um yeah we don’t take that lightly and it 

and it is something that um it’s necessary


[Addie]: sometimes to take a little time and really make 

sure that we’re leading with the the most accurate


[Addie]: information that’s available to us that we’re 

able to to get um and then to own it if we if


[Addie]: we miss step or if we miss something and you 

know every day’s a new day and continue to um


[Addie]: try to do the best we can with the information we 

have and the time that we have to to make a wave


[Korinne]: um thank you um i know a lot of people um you know 

had questions regarding that and so thank you for


[Korinne]: speaking up on that uh um to lighten the mood a 

little bit um this next question is um a little


[Korinne]: bit of uh of a fun way to get to know each of 

you so d2 will start with you for this um i would


[Korinne]: love if each of you could share one thing that we 

would not know about the rest of the team members


[D2]: um okay uh let’s see uh randi randi randi can 

make anybody fall in love with superman within 30


[D2]: seconds i was like okay there we go see uh yeah i 

never gave superman much thought but uh on a team call


[D2]: she was like gave a whole spiel and i was like 

okay i see that completely different now [Randi]: yes! [D2]: um


[D2]: addie addie addie um i swear she is psychic 

um she has like a crazy emotional connection


[D2]: to the people she cares about um i can’t tell 

you how many times i’ve been having a bad day


[D2]: or i’m frustrated about something and i will 

get a text out of nowhere and it’s just adding


[D2]: hey sis how you doing are you having a good 

day and i’m just like how do you know i need


[D2]: to talk to someone right now like it’s absolutely 

amazing um and uh it makes the hard days easier uh


[D2]: porter [D2 giggles] porter is terrified [Korinne]: what was that giggles before 

[D2]: she’s terrified of octopus and i find


[D2]: it so funny and i send her like the most hideous octopus videos 

[Porter]: they’re really smart!


[Dom]: have you seen a documentary of them? 

[Porter]: f***no i haven’t seen a documentary about them no


[Dom]: have you seen the documentary about the octopus [D2]: it’s awesome [Dom]: these guys have (points at dogs)


[Dom]: you have? it’s so (hand motion)

[D2]: i have. it’s good they’re amazing creatures but yeah Porter

[Porter]: if they grab a hold


[Porter]: there’s no letting go 

[Dom]: so you know me being the amazing friend i am will send her octopus gifts


[D2]: and videos and random stuff i see on instagram 

all the time um let’s see dom dom uh dom no matter


[D2]: every phone call conversation you have with dom 

whether it’s two minutes or two hours she will


[D2]: use no less than four accents she will like go 

back and forth and like she’ll just be normal dom


[D2]: and then all of a sudden she’s bristol dom and 

then all of a sudden she’s australian and then


[D2]: she’s waverly and then sometimes she like does 

french american and like it’s one of my favorite


[D2]: things about talking on the phone with her is 

what accents i’ll get and when i’ll get them


[Dom]: no way that’s brilliant i don’t feel like i’m 

doing it at all said in a very bristol accent


[Dom]: all right dom you’re up if you want to use your uh different accents 

[Dom]: all right um okay so randi is


[Dom]: a champion runner she has done marathons and 

seems to seems to think that running’s easy


[Dom]: or certainly has figured out a way of uh 

finding joy and loving running which i


[Dom]: cannot say that i have done the same thing and 

in a conversation that we had very quickly uh


[Dom]: something that really inspired me she was saying 

how um like the key to running is really finding


[Dom]: your motivation of like what it is that why 

you’re putting one foot in front of the other


[Dom]: which i thought was so awesome and different 

all right so yeah if you want to but she’s oh


[Dom]: um so yeah super super 

duper runner um addie uh has


[Dom]: uh has pretty much a zoo of animals or certainly 

would have a zoo of animals if she could


[Dom]: um has rescued many different beautiful 

beautiful creatures and yeah would continue


[Dom]: i i believe i’m right saying is ad(die) is that you would never stop if you could


[Dom]: which i think is one of my favorite things about 

you when you when you first told me that i was


[Dom]: like telling all of my friends i was like you 

have no idea like the person that’s reached


[Dom]: out just like has a pack of animals but she’s 

looking after and saving i love it um porter has


[Dom]: has dopest outdoor shower you’ve ever seen 

in your life like it is so cool with these


[Dom]: amazing stones that light up in uh that 

are charged by the sun and then light up


[Dom]: as like this walkway i arrived of course 

last night as you can probably see we’re


[Dom]: in the same box um actually i’ve arrived in north 

carolina finally to meet these two beautiful


[Dom]: ladies addie and of course we’re gonna have um a 

weekend talking about how we can best move forward


[Dom]: in 2025 incredibly exciting um and yeah i 

arrived at her house and we we star gaze


[Dom]: last night and looked at the moon which is 

like one of my favorite things to do and


[Dom]: also one of porter’s favorites today and uh 

yeah she showed me the badass shower and i am


[Dom]: installing one of them as soon as i get but


[Dom]: um and beautiful d2 i mean apart from 

eggplants and bananas i’m not really sure


[Dom]: personal joke personal joke um d2 i loved um 

loves the outdoors i’m gonna go with that i


[Dom]: would say that like one of the things that they 

really connect with d2 is is is your love nature


[Dom]: and and try to one day meet that beautiful 

hammock and does it fit two people


[D2]: sure [Korinne]: make it fit two people [Dom]: nice 

[Dom]: i have two hammocks now though


[Dom]: so okay there we go 

[D2]: we can each have one yes


[Dom]: okay fine ill take my own hammock


[D2]: and one of them is insulated so it’ll 

keep you warmer because you’re always cold  [Dom]: fancy


[Korinne]: there you go [Dom]: thanks D2 

[Korinne]: very nice very nice porter how about you [Porter]: all right um


[Porter]: oh this is why i wrote these down i almost forgot


[Porter]: okay randi knows how to make homemade stain which 

i found so f****** cool so she like made her own


[Porter]: bed and then stained her own bed with her own 

homemade stain um we’ve got another team member


[Porter]: sarah who um isn’t um on the video but she is a 

master gardener and she grows her own food and her


[Porter]: medicine which is really cool um d2 i had another 

one for you but i think i’ll return the favor


[D2]: mine’s legit mine is legit okay 

[Porter]: d2 is terrified of sharks at the point of like if i send her i will


[Porter]:send her pictures of sharks and broccoli because 

even pictures of sharks will scare her and um i


[Porter]:sent her shark teeth too and drew um well did it 

look like a shark i think it looked like a shark


[Porter]: enough my drawing [D2]: yeah it was beautiful [Porter]: yeah yeah 

[D2]: it scared me [Randi]: you mean terrifying yeah


[D2]: I was like oh my gosh 

[Porter]: I cut my own hand to put blood coming down


[Porter]: D2 is very terrified of sharks um addie is a 

miss fix it herself and she like loves to


[Porter]:do hands-on projects and so her hubby would 

call her rosie after rosie the riveter they


[Porter]:named her they named their daughter rosie 

after rosie the riveter because she’s a


[Porter]:badass feminist um dom um so i was already 

aware like of the dancing and singing


[Porter]:um but specifically was interested to 

find out she is an expert tap dancer


[Porter]: tap dancing [Dom]: I feel like it will be very appropriate if I had tap to go with the dancing


[Porter]: so yeah i think that’s the team 

[Korinne]: awesome awesome uh addie you’re up


[Addie]: aw snap let’s see i’ll go i’ll go 

like this way across my screen okay so


[Addie]: d2 your first step d2 is literally the most 

thoughtful human being i have ever come across


[Addie]: in my entire life she remembers birthdays if 

you’re like oh i’ve got a doctor’s appointment


[Addie]: and i’m nervous about it she will remember what 

time you have the doctor’s appointment will text


[Addie]: you to check in when she doesn’t hear from you 

she will text you afterwards like the level of


[Addie]: compassion and kindness and thoughtfulness that 

just radiates from that human is a gift to anybody


[Addie]: who is anywhere remotely in her circle or who is 

uh loved by her and um yeah it is it is inspiring


[Addie]: and it makes me want to step up my own game i 

try i think of myself as a relatively thoughtful


[Addie]: person but i um yeah they broke the mold with d2 

in that respect for sure um randi has well the


[Addie]: first time i talked to randi she um is like has 

such a huge massive knowledge about sustainability


[Addie]: and she has her own washing machine that she 

pedals with like her feet which is so cool


[Addie]: um and dual purpose right you’re cleaning things 

saving the environment and like getting a workout


[Addie]: all at the same time um i desperately want to 

get one of those and i’m wondering how like how


[Addie]: soon is too soon to get a toddler to like give it 

a go um we gonna have to wait a little bit she’s


[Addie]: not walking yet but you know we’ll get there 

um dom is so kind of piggybacking on what um


[Addie]: what d2 said uh dom leaves the best voice 

notes of anybody on the team and um some of my


[Addie]: favorite so you can with whatsapp i think you can 

download voice notes i’ve not downloaded with it


[Addie]: but the urge the urge has been there um there was 

one like when we first started working together


[Addie]: years ago when she was in brazil and she was 

staying somewhere with cat and the first part


[Addie]: of the thing you can tell she’s like really she’s 

like yeah we’re gonna oh we could do that with the


[Addie]: website and that’d be great blah blah blah blah 

whatever and then like forgot she was recording


[Addie]: and was sort of blessing out this cat and this 

very like sweet british accent that was like


[Addie]: trying to take her snacks and it went on 

for like two and a half or three minutes


[Addie]: and i listened to the whole thing like she’s 

gonna come back eventually but it didn’t i


[Addie]: don’t know if like she just put her phone down 

and it stopped recording or whatever but it was


[Addie]: literally like just this like no no no that’s 

mine and you’re naughty and whatever and it was


[Addie]: adorable one of my favorite things and then 

sometimes if she is like walking and she can’t


[Addie]: text or whatever you’ll get like a really quick 

one and one of my favorites was um i can’t i can’t


[Addie]: i don’t remember what the question was but your 

response was like hell yeah the best and if i can


[Addie]: figure out how to make that my text tone for when 

she’s like hell yeah i’m definitely gonna do that um


[Addie]: elet’s see i had a really good one for porter and 

i’ve spaced it porter has um a if we porter and i


[Addie]: elive about two hours apart um and if it were any 

closer she would be in danger of me dog napping


[Addie]: eher dog rolo who was like this little tiny nugget 

of joy and just bliss and so freaking cute i can’t


[Addie]: even handle it i love sydney and her other dog 

very much uh but rolo has a huge place in my heart


[Dom]: that’s okay i’ve been giving sydney all the attention so ads this is going to work out just fine [Addie]: okay great


[Addie]: okay great yeah teamwork 

[Porter]: especially love rollo because he’s basically a cat in a dog body and so


[Porter]: you’d vibe [Addie]: yeah i did no labels i’m here you 

know what rolo however you show up is i am here for it


[Korinne]: all right and randi last but not least 

[Randi]: all right so i’m just gonna like tie us all together


[Randi]: and um so basically i don’t know if anyone knows 

this i’m sure they do the team is just the kindest


[Randi]: they are the kindest most wonderful people i 

have ever had the privilege of working with


[Randi]: every conversation that we have every meeting 

that we have there’s always just something


[Randi]: they always have something kind to say about 

each other but in addition to that there’s


[Randi]: always something nerdy that they say um i’m 

always laughing at uh at some point during


[Randi]: the meeting usually multiple times during the 

meeting we usually talk for a good portion of


[Randi]: it and laugh for a good portion of it and then 

get down to work and i learned recently that


[Randi]: um in addition to myself porter and d2 

have wands that they’re very very proud


[Dom]: that was the coolest revelation


[Randi]: and i was gonna say and dom dom was super 

excited to know that we all loved wands


[D2]: yes we all have wands [Randi]: yeah 

[Dom]: randi i um addie of course knows this already but i was staying


[Dom]: at my friend’s house and i actually met a 

real life wand like legit a real life one


[Dom]: it was the most beautiful thing i’ve ever 

seen from a shaman in tibet that gave it to


[Dom]: my friend’s dad like years ago and it had two 

crystals on each side and then all in a rainbow


[Dom]: all different like incredibly powerful stones 

like this and i swear to god when i when i


[Dom]: walked in i was like instantly drawn to 

it and for the entire time i was there i’m holding onto this with my dear life


[Dom]: this is my wand (hard to hear what Dom’s saying..)


[Dom]: it was so good

[Porter]: oh look at the time we’re coming


[Dom]: Addie and Porter we had a meeting the other day and they were 

like so what you got in your hands and i was like my wand


[Randi]: I think we all need to make sure we have wands


[Randi]: Addie do you have a wand


[Addie]: i don’t i need a wand i need to get one 

[Randi]: we’re gonna have to get you a wand


[Korinne]: everyone gonna get wand 

[Dom]: you and me are going to go wand shopping 

[Porter] i have been wand-ering why you guys don’t have one


[Randi]: all right [Addie]: that’s what i was gonna say 

damn it that’s what i was gonna say and then yolo


[D2]: i was gonna use the pen one and then i thought 

octopus was way better [Porter]: it’s too obvious anyhow


[Randi]: porter you do puns all the time so i figured

many people know that about porter’s puns


[Korinne]: all right guys well we’re almost out 

of time so i think one more question


[Korinne]: and then we’ll try to get through the game 

really quickly if that’s okay with everyone


[Korinne]: um so i love this question um this is a fan 

question from mama if each of you could choose


[Korinne]: one superpower to make the world a better 

place which would you choose and randi you


[Korinne]: can kick this one off for us 

[Randi]: oh sweet this my favorite question [Porter] superwoman herself


[D2]: bring out your ass


[Porter]: really for you randi it’s just which is 

your favorite super power that you have


[Randi]: yeah exactly um so this one is always 

my favorite question to answer because


[Randi]: they’re actually not any of superman’s powers um 

so years ago in like the mid 90s there was this


[Randi]: incredible movie called powder and i don’t know 

if anyone remembers [Addie]: i love that movie [Randi]: yeah such


[Randi]: a good movie and uh there’s a scene where a guy 

shoots a deer and he basically powder touches


[Randi]: the deer and he touches the guy and basically 

transfers the feelings of what the deer has


[Randi]: my so what i would love would to be would be to 

be able to transfer it goes further than empathy


[Randi]: it’s the feelings of any single person of how 

they’re suffering or how they’re feeling to


[Randi]: another person to be able to really understand 

them and understand [Addie]: that was mine [Randi]: oh damn it i’m sorry


[Randi]: i’m so sorry for it [Dom]: it’s so cool 

that you guys had the same one


[Dom]: i love that


[Randi]: you were worried about me stealing 

your answer and it was randi


[Addie]: sorry i didn’t mean to interrupt you but i was 

just like so me too me too you know go ahead i’ll duck


[Randi]: no that’s it it’s just so so this world would be 

such a better place if everyone really understood


[Randi]: why people [Dom]: how would you actually make it 

happen how would you actually like what would


[Dom]: be the action that you would do randi would it 

literally be like say porter’s going through


[Dom]: something and you wanted me to feel it would it 

be like you would be the connector [Randi]: yes a touch


[Randi]: yeah [Dom]: beautiful yeah pretty cool i love that 

and addie [Randi]: my bad addie sorry you can add on it


[Dom]: yeah jump on it what what yeah what 

would how would you like [Randi]: make it your own


[Addie]: oh god i don’t know it was for me it was 

the touch thing too i had this so when i


[Addie]: was little i had this um like this idea in my 

head that like it would be so cool if everybody


[Addie]: had um like would carry around a cart that had 

boulders on them that was like representative


[Addie]: of all of the things that they were carrying so 

we could all like look at somebody else and see


[Addie]: um like oh my you know like i’m not doing judging 

that person at all like look how many boulders


[Addie]: they’re carrying like look at all the weights that 

they’re carrying and how cool it would be if you


[Addie]: could like transfer those from one person to the 

other and i’ve thought about that a lot as i’ve


[Addie]: gotten older how awesome it would be to just sort 

of like touch somebody and understand like that


[Addie]: that’s a really um that’s one of my huge sort of 

batting connections really sort of uh paramount


[Addie]: for me in my life and in my journey is um really 

wanting to understand people and where they come


[Addie]: from to be able to authentically connect with them 

um and i thought what a gift it would be to be


[Addie]: able to transfer that and for me it’s kind of the 

same thing it’s that if that touch it’s uh it’s um


[Addie]: giving someone vision where they don’t have it 

or maybe where they’re short-sighted or whether


[Addie]: so in their own experience that it’s really hard 

for them to step out and see the beauty and the


[Addie]: pain and the complexities of the world around them 

and how better off we would be if if we had that


[Addie]: um if we had access to that and we do know a 

certain degree as empaths right but it’s um but


[Addie]: it’s not something that you can assist somebody 

else with unfortunately unless you’re just really


[Addie]: good at articulating uh what might be going on for 

that other person um but yeah i’m i’m with you 100


[Addie]: it was funny i was thinking either that or like 

a healer where you could go like touch somebody


[Addie]: and absorb whatever is like plaguing them um but 

i love the idea of the the sort of the transfer


[Addie]: and the the the broadening of understanding for 

a group of people i think is beautiful [Dom]: beautiful


[Randi]: nice [D2]: you guys are putting mine to shame like i feel like 

[Porter + Dom]: what’s yours D2


[D2]: mine was super selfish because like i i just 

got back from california um and i spent a week


[D2]: on the beach and i swear like the ocean and 

the beach are in my dna like i mean it’s like


[D2]: just i need the water in my life and like all 

along ever since i was a child it was like i


[D2]: want to be able to breathe underwater i just 

want to be able to go swimming as much as i want


[D2]: wherever i want and not worry about 

it so i want that but so i could go


[D2]: and like clean the oceans and like [Dom]: oh that’s amazing

[D2]: aquaman and like yeah


[D2]: rescue like take all the fishing nets out 

of the water and all that b******* that’s


[D2]: killing everything so 

[Porter]: that’s cool if you’re a fish i’m a fish do you too i’ll go with you


[D2]: i will protect you from the octopus [Korinne]: there’s octopus in there 

[Porter]: Yes! [Dom]: there you go [D2]: team work [Porter]: i’ve been waiting to get


[Porter]: in the fight with the shark for like a long time 

[D2]: so there you go i like hugs so like if i can get


[D2]: like eight arm hugs i’m fine hugging an octopus like i’m good with it 

[Korinne]: there you go all right porter [Porter]: so picture this


[Porter]: wars are breaking out we’re in the middle east and 

i come down in true superhero form from the sky


[Porter]: and i land yeah like one of those where you land 

like that yeah and of course i don’t either but


[Porter]: you you land like this oh i guess because you have 

to crouch because your knees would break obviously


[Porter]: dropping from the sky yeah yeah so you land like 

this and the halos of light is around me and i


[Porter]: stand up and i give it one of these and the 

entire war stops and then everybody turns


[Porter]: in almost like zombie mode where like all of a 

sudden their mindset immediately changes to like


[Porter]: oh we actually love one another they drop 

everything and then everyone stops fighting


[Korinne]: wow

[D2]: i like that


[Randi]: i like that 

[Korinne]: so world peace


[Korinne]: good answer [Dom]: very good answer yeah 

[Porter]: what are you thinking [Dom]: yeah i think um for me it would be if i


[Dom]: could if i could sort of um if i could if i could 

bring out the best in people like if i could if i


[Dom]: could sort of i don’t know how i would do it 

maybe i would like maybe just simply a smile


[Porter]: (hard to hear what Porter’s saying)


[Korinne]: oh man 

[Dom]: really like bring out the best of people and


[Dom]: bring the best intention and then able to manifest the manifest the greatest


[Dom]: purest most uh beautiful 

desires um to to yeah bring them


[Porter]: to the best state of themselves

[Dom]: yeah


[Dom]: to help people step in to the more positive side 

of themselves um and therefore it will just create


[Dom]: waves all over the world um or transmute people’s 

pain the other one that i did think of uh just be


[Dom]: because of my own um experience with with pain in 

my body chronic pain would be i would love to be


[Dom]: able to have healing hands where i could just go 

around and and heal people’s physical pain because


[Dom]: it’s something that you know on a personal level 

really affects me so i’d love to be able to help


[Dom]: them in their journey [Korinne]: that’s a great one i love 

how all of your answers were to help other people


[Korinne]: start the wave team for you all right is every 

is everyone okay with going through a couple


[Korinne]: of the game questions [Dom]: sure let’s do it 

[Korinne]: do you all have something to write on


[Dom]: Porter’s on it


[Korinne]: all right and for our viewers this is a who is most likely game 

[Addie]: we just can pick


[Addie]: one person for each one right 

[Korinne]: yeah no pick one person for each [Addie]: ok


[Korinne]: all right is everyone ready


[Addie]: yep so ready 

[Korinne]: all right the first one is who is most likely to survive the hunger games


[Dom]: oh good one ooo that is so tough oh good one [Porter] f*** 

[D2} oh my gosh [Korinne]: i didn’t mean to make it this difficult i’m sorry


[Addie]: and we can only say one person

[Korinne]: one person yeah okay


[Dom] wait wait 

[Korinne]: you’re good take your time


[Dom]: okay [Korinne]: everyone ready

[Dom]: uno dos tres [Korinne]: ready flip


[Korinne]: addie randi randi randi randi


[Korinne]: i see randi the most


[Dom]: randi for the win what did you pick d2

[D2]: i said porter [Dom]: nice


[Dom]: and randi

[Randi]: i said addie


[Randi]: because she’s quiet and she could survive and like


[Randi]: make her way around [Addie]: it’s always the quiet one 

[Randi]: yep [Korinne]: always the quiet ones


[Dom]: because when you think about it it means 

that like you’d have to kill other people


[Randi]: oh [Dom]: and i don’t know if randi would be able to do that 

[Addie]: i didnt think about that.


[Randi]: oh yeah no i won’t be able to kill

[Porter]: tie them to a tree

[Dom]: im just think she would run like out [Korinne]: america, right?


[Korinne]: this is what you’ve been training for with those marathons

[Randi]: yeah it’s actually true


[Randi]: i often think because i’ve run 

for like five hours straight


[Randi]: be like i i could out run out most people i think 

[Dom]: yeah [Porter]: i mean you would just be in like


[D2]: running mode though and then you would just 

like run into like the little force field


[Dom]: it’s pretty telling isn’t 

it neither of us got a vote


[D2]: im not going to kill anybody


[Korinne]: all right the second one the second one is who 

is most likely to drink you under the table


[Addie]: ready [Korinne]: that was easy i’m kind of scared that that was so easy for you 

[D2]: i’ve seen the tower of


[D2]: uh white claw cans for this person so 

[Addie]: hard to say


[Korinne]: everyone ready [Porter]: yep 

[Korinne]: one two three flip addie port reporter porter porter porter


[Dom]: interesting… nice…


[Korinne]: that was almost unanimous there 

[Porter]: i like a little bit of some some alcohol on the weekend


[Korinne]: hey i’m with you i’m with you all right the 

next one is who is most likely to become


[Korinne]: who is the most likely to be elected president 

[Dom]: oh oh oh


[Dom]: oh i have two i have two i have oh i 

have really for all of you basically um


[Addie]: most likely to be elected president of the state


 [Korinne]: of the united states yes of the us

[Dom]: oh but that that’s not fair as not american here [Korinne]: okay um


[Dom]: i don’t think it is me


[Korinne]: listen if you put everyone i will accept it


[Porter]: vp president


[Porter in an accent]: wait wait wait you mean i was elected i actually won


[Korinne]: as long as you as long as you


[Korinne]: as long as you promise to wear that outfit when 

you’re elected you can be elected [Dom]: wait hold up hold up


[Korinne]: okay

[Dom]: hold up hold up


[Dom]: i’m ready [Randi]: i’m not ready i don’t know hold on um 

[Dom]: like i would love to see any of these humans


[Dom]: honestly [Randi]: that’s why i’m struggling

[Dom]: with different reasons and um


[Randi]: okay i have my answer


[Addie]: and it’s most likely right 

not who would be the best


[Korinne]: yes mostly [D2]: you’re throwing in competition 

[Porter]: yeah that is a heck of a semantics call


[Addie]: I lawyered the show [D2]: was that a joke about whos elected is always the best [Porter]: lawyered [Dom]: are we picking


[Dom]: out the sort of american canadian all that jazz, right [Everyone]: yeah [Dom]: beautiful


[Korinne]: okay everyone ready [Addie]: yep

[Korinne]: all right one two three flip


[Dom]: yes nice [Korinne]: nice different answers


[Korinne]: you would all be great at it um all right 

we’ll do we’ll do a couple more because we’re


[Korinne]: we’re out of time but um this one’s 

funny who is most likely to get arrested


[Dom]: seriously eh [D2]: oh super easy 

[Dom]: are you serious [D2]: and i have a really good reason


[Addie]: this one’s i i okay


[Porter]: this person also wouldn’t mean to

[Korinne]: yeah it doesn’t have to


[Korinne]: it doesn’t have to be something bad 

[D2]: that’s that’s where i’m going with that


[D2]: i mean i’m a very good reason why i 

chose this person with no hesitation


[Korinne]: are we all ready


[Dom]: yes yes yes


[Dom]: 1 2 3

[Korinne]: Ready? 1 2 3


[Korinne]: dom addie 

[Dom]: dom and addie me nice


[D2]: yeah you’d be all jane fonda at some protest 

[Randi]: yeah exactly


[Korinne]: that counts that counts all right we’ll 

do two more um who’s most likely to be


[D2]: why would i get arrested wait 

[Dom]: i don’t know d2 I panicked i panicked


[Porter]: i heard her scribble two letters and i was like she picked d2


[Randi]: we’ll all get arrested together because 

we’re definitely all going to be at


[Randi]: a protest [D2]: we’ll be at the same protest

[D2]: exactly [Porter]: i really shouldn’t get arrested


[Porter]: if you want me to continue doing work for start the wave

[Dom]: yeah that’s true porter’s out (hard to hear what Dom’s saying)


[Korinne]: all right who’s most likely to 

be late to their own wedding


[Dom]: oh


[Korinne]: okay ready one two three flip


[Korinne]: that was amazing


[Dom]: probably too busy pulling some tarot cards before i walk down the aisle


[Dom]: D2 I (hard to hear what Dom’s saying)

[Korinne]: alright


[Korinne]: last one 

[D2]: she was once late to a team meeting because she forgot it was monday


[Korinne]: yeah there you go [Dom]: true 

[D2]: and we all were like how nice it is to not remember it’s monday


[Dom]: as i wake up in my van like okay


[Dom]: open the van door


[Dom]: check it out [Korinne]: all right the last one which is 

which is a little bit of a joke and if you


[Korinne]: get it you get it and if you don’t you don’t 

who’s most likely to make their box light up


[Addie]: oh s*** 

[Dom]: oh okay so we can’t put Korinne in because obviously


[Dom]: out of the team 

[Randi]: oh it’s got to be the team


[D2]: that was amazing


[Randi]: wait is it does it have to be part of 

the team i’m confused now [D2]: yes it does


[Dom]: okay [Korinne]: all right ready three two one flip

[Dom]: oh oh oh [Korinne]: sorry sorry [Dom]: it’s okay


[Korinne]: addie addie addie addie

[Porter]: addie yes addie


[Porter]: that’s so good [Addie]: there’s always something 

going on at my house between the menagerie


[Addie]: of animals my infant or like just 

people randomly coming and going so


[Addie]: it’s there’s yep [D2]: that’s why it would light up 

[Korinne]: addie i love that we’re on the same level then


[Addie]: it’s you and me [Korinne]: you and me here right so with that 

we have come to the end of the panel unfortunately


[Korinne]: um thank you guys so much for participating in both panels 

[Addie]: thank you so much [Porter]: thanks for having us back  [Korinne]: yeah of course


[Korinne]: been such a um uh successful panel

within the communities and people


[Korinne]: rave about um the start the wave panel so 

hopefully we will do this again down the line


[Korinne]: um and also a reminder to earpers um start the wave 

has teamed up with eh con and they are hosting an


[Korinne]: auction that begins today and ends november 14th 

auction items include handmade necklaces by dom


[Korinne]: autographed bobble heads guest banners nicole 

haught wardrobe items set props and so right after


[Korinne]: this panel ends eh con is going to release that 

um the link so you can go over there head over


[Korinne]: there and support start the wave and to 

all the earpers thank you so much for


[Korinne]: participating in um earp curse con and supporting 

both us and start the wave and i hope you all


[Korinne]: stay safe and be kind and stay weird yeah 

[Porter]: real quick too submissions start tomorrow so we come in


[Porter]: the first through the 12th guys we’re 

super super super stoked we have


[Porter]: so many um so many things we want to do to close 

out the year and then to lead us into the new year


[Porter]: and submissions is is one of them so super psyched

[D2]: i will be posting the first thing tomorrow morning


[D2]: so take a look for it [Korinne]: awesome

[Addie]: thank you for the reminder to update the website


[Addie]: and it is not in front of me so i’d forgotten 

[Porter]: thanks korinne and winnie and everyone else at earp curse con


[Addie]: thank you guys so much 

[Everyone]: happy halloween everyone happy happy halloween

So, thank you so much for joining us today for this crucial conversation around eco spirituality. Um, eco spirituality invites us to look at the spiritual connection between humans and the environment. I’m so thrilled to be moderating this panel here today. And when I was reflecting on why this subject holds such an important place in my heart, uh, it took me back to the beginning of start the wave and my own personal awakening, both spiritually and to the bleak reality of our disposable lifestyles and the climate crisis we face. And it really was these two things combined that created the catalyst for me taking action in my own life, which then birthed the seed of start the wave and has for us here today. I think if I had known that we’d be here having this conversation today, back then, I don’t think I would have believed it. Um, I so appreciate you taking the time to discuss the necessity of, um, us recognizing our interconnectedness with the planet before it’s too late. You know, this subject really gives me, gives me hope and I really believe that holding space for conversation conversations like this one is integral in deepening our understanding and opening our minds. Um, so I’m really looking forward to hearing all of your stories and your perspectives and your insights and for everyone at home to be equally as inspired. Um, okay. So enough from me, over to Artie

Hi I’m Artie, uh, I’m in the central Valley of California and, uh, Clovis. Um, I became, we are co-sponsors with this group we are the United religions initiative. And I was reflecting back on what I would say. And 25 years ago, um, Bill Swing was asked by the UN to gather all the religious leaders together because they could, they could agree to incredible things across the board, but then the religious leaders would go and, you know, make it their own. Well, he took a lease out on his home or whatever it’s called and traveled the world to talk to the religious leaders. And he knew he was talking to the, this, the final one that made the difference was he talked to the Pope at the time and the guy said, I love it, but I want to run it. And that wasn’t what he was doing.

So he came back, he re- reorganized and he went and talked to the people on the ground that were actually doing the work. And that’s how it started because we are grassroots. What you’re doing here now for me, I got involved in 98. And so it’s been, and in 2000 we actually incorporated as a 5013C 20 years ago, we couldn’t even do this. It was not possible to be able to talk to people around the world and see your faces. Okay. Myself personally, there was so much that I didn’t know. And as it has grown into this incredible over a million people around the world, doing the very work that you’re talking about, about all the different, uh, it’s unbelievable, but for me personally, to be able to be here and sit with you, the change makers of this now it’s been thrilling and an honor for me. So each of you are pivotal in this whole thing, the movement that we’re doing. So thank you. We are so glad that we can be a part of this. Thank you. And whoever’s next?

Thank you Artie. It’s me. Hi everyone. My name is Geneva Blackmer and I’m the program director for the Interfaith Center located at the Miami University campus in Oxford Ohio. The interface center is a safe, welcoming interfath space, inviting our local and global communities to engage in dialogue, education, and service. Our mission is to invite people from diverse, religious, spiritual, and secular traditions to participate in each other’s practices. In order to cultivate appreciative understanding and friendships. We seek to unify people of all faiths and no faith around common moral, social, and ethical concerns in order to build a more just and equitable society. We consider environmental justice to be an intrinsic part of this mission, recognizing that environmental degradation, not only compromises our collective life on this planet, but also exasperates social inequalities and contributes to the ever-growing refugee crisis. The beautiful wisdom of our religious, spiritual and secular traditions can guide us to recognize our responsibility as environmental stewards and restore our reverence and awe for the divine in nature. I’m humbled to welcome you all here today with the utmost gratitude for all of our panelists and our partnership with start the wave and URI North America who allowed this conversation to flourish. And with that, I’m going to hand it back over to you Dom. Fantastic. All right. Well, without further ado, um, we are going to hear from Tom Bailey first. Uh, Tom Bailey is an energy and climate expert with 14 years of experience writing climate strategies and policies for governments, cities, businesses, and NGOs. He has also been practicing Shoshin Tibetan Buddhist meditation for 20 years, and is currently working with an organization called the Jump, part of which considers the personal and inner transformation needed to address our ecological meltdown. Over to you, Tom.

Okay. Thank you, Dom. And firstly, a massive thing to everybody who’s been involved in putting this on, like, this is the theme of this event is really the most important and frankly, beautiful thing I can imagine talking about. So I’m going to really enjoy this. So thank you everybody. So what the question I was saying was what motivated me to start the Jump, um, uh, found the jump well, that is a recognition, a recognition that to avoid ecological meltdown, the science is very clear that we need an inner transition, a deep inner transition, a transformation in our mindsets and our cultures. Okay. And the very locally, our wisdom traditions from around the world offers very powerful tools to be able to make that transition. So that is a recognition that’s transformed my life recently. And in response to that recognition, I’d like to also offer you all an invitation, an invitation to take the Jump.

Um, so that’s the summary, but how did all this happen? So since age of 11, I’ve known, I wanted to work on behalf of the environment. And so for my career, I’d been working as an engineer and as a consultant, as a head of research working on technology changes like green energy, energy efficient buildings. And then recently we did a research project that was a collaboration between Leeds University, um, a consultancy and a big, uh, um, a big NGO. And it showed us basically that these tweaks I’d been working on technologies, policies, things like that, will never be enough. Okay. You can do all the new technologies and all the policies you like, but as long as our society is focused on ever more stuff, it can never keep up. Right. And this was a shock to me after 15 years of telling this story, I realized it wasn’t true.

Okay. And in fact, the research showed that we must reduce the impact of consumption in wealthy parts of the world by two thirds in just 10 years. Okay. And it also showed that individuals and communities have a massive part to play in that. So that’s the really good news. Right. Um, and the question, um, but that obviously is how, um, and hopefully you can all see this image. These are some of the six recommendations that came out from, from the report that everybody needs to make a, I’m not going to go through them now. Um, but, uh, just to give an example, Holiday Local invites us to fly just once every three years short-haul and once every eight years long haul, and this is what the science says that we all need to do. And if we’re doing it, these six shifts and then we’re doing what the environment needs. No more fads, no more confusion, just real deal science. Um, and so with this new information, I left my job, um, and me and some friends, uh, headed in a new direction and set up this new grassroots movement called the Jump, which launched only a few weeks ago. And it invites people to take the jump, which means to try these six shifts for one, three or six months. And then we offer the community the tools and hopefully the good vibes  to help people along the way. So,

So far so good. Right. Um, but all of this, like begs a pretty big question. Like if these shifts are so important, why are they so hard? Right. And that’s because to take them, we have to swim upstream against our society’s systems, it’s cultures, it’s mindsets, it’s behaviors, all of which are currently designed and focused on, on more consumption. Alright. And for example, the prevailing mindset around the world for the moment is that happiness is not to be found within us. Alright. It’s out there in the world amongst all the things that I have to compete with each other and fight to get hold of. Right. And if I get 10 times more of that stuff, I get 10 times more lasting happiness, you know, and, and that is the foundation really of the way that our world works right now. And it’s just physiologically simply not true. 10 times more stuff doesn’t make me 10 times more happy. That’s not the way our brain simply works. Right. It’s not like it’s factually incorrect, like as a route of becoming happy. And as a way of organizing ourselves and seeing reality, it’s like we’re under some sort of spell or like a confused dream, alright. And the question is, how on earth do we wake up? And this is where, like for the first time, two huge parts of my life were sustainability and environment and meditation and inner journey come crashing together and now occupy the same space. And that’s because the wisdom traditions of which Buddhism is one, um, and I’ve been practicing with that for about 20 years, they offer so many tools and views to help us with this exact problem, alright. In a very real practical and ordinary way.

So first they help point us in a more sensible direction, frankly. And then they give us the tools to be able to move there and to be able to get on with it and, uh, and progress. And an example of a sensible direction is to put wisdom and kindness at the heart of our lives. Alright. And an example of wisdom that often comes up in Buddhism is recognizing the deep truth of impermanence, for instance, alright. That everything passes, no matter how hard you try and hold onto things, grasp at them, try and make, you know, make the world, you know, safe for you. Everything passes, everything changes, right? That’s just the way the world works. Look at all the evidence in history. And so when you really connect with and accept this obvious and unavoidable fact, naturally you stop grasping at stuff too much. You start to relax, you start to feel much better.

And all of this undermines, um, this foundations of consumerism, another is about compassion and kindness. Like wisdom is how we see the world. Kindness is how we relate to it. And if we engage with others, generously, we quickly become disinterested, uh, in amassing a great pile of stuff and dominating the world and each other so that we can get it. And when we take joy in other people’s happiness, we just start to feel so much better. Don’t we? Again, undermining consumerism and, you know, you might say fine, great. This all sounds very nice. Yeah. But how, how on earth do we do any of this in a modern world? Well, again, these traditions offer so much, right. Um, and individually, I mean, my experience meditation and the teachings of Buddhism help establish a daily life practice that really, it’s kind of like going to the gym for your love and your compassion and for your wisdom daily, you can nurture it and it becomes real, you know, and then that’s on your own, but also together rituals, ways of celebrating and coming together that don’t involve stuff that that actually nurture, um, a better way of living.

So, yeah, so there’s so much on that end and to conclude, actually, I mean, all of a sudden these lenses and tools that these wisdom traditions offer us, you know uh become most more than just a way of improving our lives. You know, to me, it’s clear the science, um, demands that we find a 21st century way of putting these into practice, not just to make us happy, but simply as a way of surviving, um, of dealing with this common crisis as I’ve outlined. And so this is why, I mean, the Jump has got five tools in it that help us make the transition, right. Um, and one of them, we called Deepen and it basically is aimed at addressing exactly these sorts of things. Iy is brand new and we’ve not developed it much yet. Um, but we’re starting to hold events and spaces for people to come together to discuss this sort of stuff. And then very hopefully um soon workshops and events from notable teachers and stuff. So, so basically I want to finish with saying, I’m inviting you all to take the jump, to get involved in, in this great experiment. It’s Um, and I look forward to seeing you all there and also talking to everybody after this. So thank you very much, everyone.

Wonderful. Thank you Tom. Thank you so much. And we have, um, we’ve already shared the jump on our social, so you can also go through there, um, to find the amazing work that Tom’s doing. Um, and we will continue to support you and wish you all of the best of luck Tom in this wonderful venture that you are embarking on. Okay. So next up we have Mike Roman, a former Kiribas Peace Corps volunteer, Fulbright fellow, co-creator of the social media platform, humans of care of us and author of When There Was No Money, received his PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh, his dissertation: “Migration, Transnationality, and Climate Change in the Republic of Kiribati” was turned into a 2018 Sundance election Anote’s Ark. He has spent the last 20 years raising global consciousness of our planet’s climate crisis from the front lines. Over to you, Mike.

First off, thank you everyone for having me and congratulations to you, Dominique, you said Anote’s perfectly

Oh yay, Fantastic.

I’m going to start my story with talking about what got me into where I am today and that not really being my connection of my Catholic faith and background, even though Pope Francis has written the encyclical on the environment. Um, that, wasn’t the thing that connected me because my journeys started a long, long time ago. When I was little, my dad would always take me to church to do some kind of service, whether it was making meals for the homeless or packing Christmas baskets, for those that didn’t have the money or the means to have a Christmas, uh, celebration. Um, from the young age, I was always attracted to service. So it was pretty predictable that I would dedicate myself to some kind of service when I graduated high school, college graduate school;  my life is a life of service. So at Miami University, I went in and interviewed for the Peace Corps.

I told the person that was interviewing me that I was allergic to fish, hated hot weather and was severely prone to motion sickness, especially on boats. I was sent to this central Pacific Island nation, where there is nothing but fish, heat and boats for 2000 to 2002, uh, two for two years from 2000 and 2002. On my first week there, I have to explain to you what Kiribati is. It’s a central Pacific coral atoll nation, and it’s one of the first nations predicted to vanish in the planet because of climate change with elevation of maybe just one to three feet for uh, English for American measurements or one meter at, for, for the rest of the world. Um, so it’s very low lying. It’s centered on the four corners of the planet. It’s the only nation to have territory and the Northern Southern Western and Eastern quadrants of the earth.

It is literally where the day starts and predicted to be one of the first to disappear. I lived and worked there for a while and I’m still living in, working there remotely. We went through droughts that lasted months. I’ve seen oceans rise over villages. My adopted Kiribati’s fathers, my adopted father from Kiribati is, um, living without his home village. It’s been under the ocean for more than 15, my entire time there and I include up until this very day because I still work with the nation. It has been something that has changed my life drastically. I am still a servant. I am still fighting for their nation, my nation and our world. I left service in 2002. The day I left service was the day that my commitment to the country ended, but it was also the day that my commitment to the nation began, leaving service was hard.

I didn’t want to leave and I wasn’t done my time wasn’t done. Since then, I’ve been working in academia. I’ve been teaching, I’ve been working around the world, talking at the UN and the Pacific, partnering with nations all around the world, just to tell the world that we exist for however long we exist in our country. Yesterday was the signing of the Paris agreement in 2015 with great fanfare we celebrated, but we knew that no matter what would happen, our chances of survival would still be pretty slim to none. We say 1.5 to survive because as what we need, but we have to humanize climate change because the science hasn’t been working as fast as it needs to work for my family, for my friends to stay on this planet longer than the next 10 years, we realized that we’re not going to change the world, but we want the world to change for us. And for those other nations, Kiribati, Toca Lu, Marshall Islands, Maldives, and Tuvalu. We are the human faces of climate change, and we don’t want this to happen to anyone else. Thank you so much for inviting me here and I want to leave it open to the rest of, uh, of the panel. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Mike. Uh, I had a little look online at some of the links that you had sent over and, um, the, I was unaware before of Kiribati honestly, before, um, finding your work and I highly recommend everybody makes sure to go out, we’re building our resources page and we’ll make sure to put your Ted talk and various other links up on there so that people can have to it. Um, in terms of the, the film that was made from your dissertation Anote’s Ark, I found the trailer, but is there a space that we can actually watch the entire film at this time? Or is it, um, yeah, let’s speak to that.

So, the dissertation topic was turned into the movie, but it wasn’t based off of my dissertation. Um, I know there is, I guess, an adopted relative of my family. So, um, he is the former president of the nation of Kiribati. I still film made that film. Um, and it was released in 2018. It was in the Sundance film festival. And, sorry, that’s my timer. Just not to go over.

I asked the question. So you’re doing absolutely fine.

Well, it was released in 2018 and it traveled the world, right now. Uh, another film that I helped, uh, develop was, uh, is released around the world. It’s touring the world virtually right now. It’s called One Word, it’s about the Marshall Islands. And, um, my goal is to have a film out by every nation that’s in danger. And so we have the Underwater President that wasn’t, I wasn’t any part, I didn’t have anything to do with that, but that is on the Maldives. Uh, the Marshall Islands is One Word. Anote’s Ark is Kiribati, uh, when the pandemic, um, we want to do one on Tuvalu and we want to do one on Tokelau, um, that, that is my, my ultimate dream. And, and I’m not, we’re not stopping.

Wonderful. Well, I’ll make sure to get all of the relevant details so that we can get it out to our community and anyone who’s interested. Um, okay. Now we are on to Randi Ramdeen. Randi Ramdeen is a queer woman of color and activist and advocate for human, animal, and environmental rights. She was a regional officer for the Green Party of Canada, election organizer for the Green Party of Ontario and campaign manager in the 2019 federal election for the Green Party of Canada leader Annanee Paul. Although she was raised Catholic, Randy now identifies as atheist and rather than subscribing to organized religion, her faith lies within spirituality and the connection between herself, the planet and all its inhabitants; over to you, Randi.

Thanks, Dom. Uh, so yeah, my, um, my story is a little bit like, uh, an Ikea floor plan. Um, it’s confusing, but we’ll get there. So I was raised Catholic. I was baptized when I was three years old in Trinidad. Uh, I was, um, I had my first communion when I was seven and I was confirmed at 12. Um, but I never, throughout that time, I never really felt connected to the religion. Uh, even though my first job was at the parish center as well. And when I tell people later just how Catholic I I was, I went to Catholic school from kindergarten until I went to college and I had a nun as an elementary school principal. So it was, it was pretty Catholic. Um, but it was just, it was just life for me. It was just, that’s just how it was, but I didn’t, I didn’t realize quite how much Catholicism played a big part of my life, uh, because I didn’t feel connected to it.

And when I realized that I was queer, I felt even more disconnected, uh, with it. So when I was in grade 12, I took a, um, world religions course, and I was like, maybe I can find something. Maybe I can find something in here, maybe I can feel a little more connected. Um, and I actually felt a draw to Judaism. And so I started learning a little more about Judaism and felt, Hmm, maybe this is the place for me. And, uh, coincidentally, when I was in college, I met a girl online who happened to be Jewish and, um, and we started dating and, um, she ended up moving to Chicago, um, and we stayed together. And so I actually had the opportunity to go to Chicago quite often and for good, good lengths of time. And we celebrated Hanukkah and a couple of Seders and yeah, it felt, it felt really good.

And then one night we were watching a movie called Trembling Before God. And if anyone’s seen it, it’s about Orthodox, queer Orthodox Jews who really struggle in, in the community and with their religion. And I was like, Hmm, okay. Maybe Judaism isn’t for me. Um, and so I just kept searching and, um, I got to know my then partners, uh, schoolmates very, very well. She went to Purdue University for couple and family therapy and one of her schoolmates was Mormon. And I used to love sitting with him and talking about it. Um, and I just, I just kept my mind open to, to what he had to say. Um, and then one day my partner came home and she said, you know, so-and-so said something really interesting in class. And it was, you know, I’m really struggling with my religion right now. Um, my religion tells me that, um, being gay is wrong and I look at Randi and my partner and I think how could that possibly be wrong?

And so I just was like, Hmm, okay. Maybe everyone struggles with their religion and maybe organized religion isn’t the place for me. And, um, some then, something really cool happened. Uh, an organization called Christian Organization Relief Effort reached out to Purdue University students and their partners and said, would you like to come to, um, uh, work with survivors of Hurricane Katrina? And so, uh, we were all on board with that. So the students obviously went there to provide, um, emotional support. Um, but we also went and we, um, cleaned and sanitized homes and delivered water. So we went all around, um, Ocean Springs, Mississippi and in Biloxi. And a couple of things happened on that trip to really change my perspective. One thing that happened was we met this woman named Joanne and she had been to what she called cancer camp twice. She had a tracheotomy, she had a little voice box and she lost her entire home.

She was staying in a trailer with uh, the door had flown off, um, and FEMA came to visit her and said, would you like another trailer? And she said, no, I’m fine. Give it to someone who actually needs it. Um, and I just thought, wow, this woman is incredible after all she’s been through, she’s just so incredible. And so we helped her as best we could and, and invited her over to the church that we were, we were staying in. Um, and but one moment that we have that I would just, I’ll never, ever forget is, um, she said, can we pray together? And so there was a group of us, probably about six of us. And so, uh, I know a bunch of us weren’t religious, so we were, we were hesitant. And so we did, we did it anyway because she’s just so wonderful.And we stood in the circle and held hands and she just prayed. And in that moment, what I felt was a spiritual connection to a human being, to human beings. And I was like, huh, this is the moment. This is what I’ve been searching for is not something that I, I am trying to force. It’s just a natural connection with human beings. Um, and then when we got back to the church that night, we did a debrief and I, um, had my first guided meditation. Um, cause they knew that that was important for what we had just gone out and experienced the emotional toll it took on seeing all those people being displaced and whatnot. So I, yeah, that day specifically was really moving, really important day for me. Um, and then another moment, the second moment that I had was when we were traveling from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, which is a very vibrant, very nice little area.

Um, the very developed area to Biloxi and Biloxi was, um, highly racialized, low income area. And the difference of, from what seemed like devastation and support was night and day, Biloxi was completely ruined. Um, and it was just, it was heartbreaking. It was heartbreaking to see the disaster that the hurricane had caused. And it was heartbreaking to see how it didn’t seem like there was the same amount of support, uh, that was given to Ocean Springs. Um so, so I, I took those thoughts. I took those two experiences and I came back to Canada and I just decided to look up, uh, as much as I could research as much as I could on, on the impacts of climate, climate change and, um, environmental justice and environmental racism. And, um, when I was on my, when I was doing my research, I came across this book called The Politics of Pollution.

And in that book, it discuss, it discusses how, before the Confederation of Canada, which is in 1867, the powerful people knew about pollution and how it was affecting the environment and basically didn’t care. They wanted to just make money. And so it was that moment that I was like, okay, I don’t know how, but I’m going to start being active and going to, and I’m going to make change somehow. So I, you know, started getting involved in the Green Party and I put my money where my mouth is. And I ran as a candidate, uh, three times and I worked for the party and did all that stuff. And then I got involved in an amazing organization. It works for positive, positive change called Start The Wave. And, uh, and here I am, but I’m, I’m constantly, I’m doing, I do everything in my life to make, to make change. And whether that’s small change, you know, starting with, um, changing your, your soap and your house to be biodegradable to protect the, the sea life or, you know, being at pipeline protests, uh, you know, it’s, you can do there’s anything that you can do. And, uh, you know, we, we do what we can. So when we know when we know better, we do better. So yeah, that’s my story.

Beautiful. Thank you so much, Randi. That was super interesting. And I have many follow-up questions for another day. Um, wonderful. Thank you for your share. Okay. So now we have David Loy and David Loy is a professor, writer and Zen teacher in the Sanbozen tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. His most recent book is Ecodharma, but his teachings for the ecological crisis, see for more information on his work; over to you, David,

Thank you, Dominique. Um, thinking about today, it, it, it seems to me that it would be more interesting, uh, you know, rather than talking about my own life, saying a little bit about the life of the Buddha, because he had this truly extraordinary relationship, with the natural world, uh, especially trees, um, according to the traditional stories, he was actually born in a Grove of trees Lumbini Grove when his mother went into premature labor. Uh, and then there was a very famous incident when he was just a very young child where he was sitting under a tree, spontaneously went into a kind of meditative, uh, samadhi or, or trance. And later when he left his palace on his, uh, spiritual quest, where did he go? He went into the forest where he studied with a couple of teachers, did his aesthetic practices, and finally ended up meditating.

And, uh, we believe had this great awakening, uh, sitting under another tree, a Bodhi tree next to a river. Um, and even after that, uh, it, it, it wasn’t as though he sort of went back and lived in the city. He continued to live outside, uh, for the most part, uh, he taught outside and when he died, he actually died outside as well, which I think is, is, it is quite striking. He had this deep, obviously there was something deep there. Uh, and you know, we may wonder those of us who are Buddhist today, we tend to have it a lot more comfortably. We, we sit in, you know, uh, rooms with windows and screens so that we can control the, the temperature and the rain and the insects and so forth. But we may also wonder, is, is there something that’s lost, uh, have, are, are we missing something and something that in fact, I think is found not only in Buddhism, but if you think about the story of Jesus, what did he do, uh, after his own baptism by John the Baptist, he actually, uh, went out into the desert right into the wilderness fasting for 40 days and 40 nights.

And if I remember correctly, Mohammed who, you know, the Quran was something that was sort of given to him by, I think the Archangel Gabriel, when he was off by himself, communing in a cave. So there is the suggestion that, you know, many of the greats, spiritual founders have this deep connection with the natural world. And I think the question for all of us, you know, not only for our religions, but for us as a, as a now global civilization, what does that mean? What, what can we learn from it? Uh, in the Buddhist case, there’s this interesting story that, uh, he once had a dream where the, the spirit of the tree came to him and complained that one of the monks had actually cut down its tree, the tree, uh, in order to make a little hut. And it’s interesting how the next morning, the Buddha gathered the Sangha, the monks together and made a new rule. He said that monastics are not allowed to cut down trees or even a living branch, or even pluck a green leaf from, from a Bush. Uh, all of which I think suggests an incredible sensitivity to the natural world that, you know, to a large extent we’ve, we’ve, uh, lost today. Um, when, when we think about Buddhism,

Obviously the Buddha didn’t face the kinds of, uh, challenges that, that we do today. In other words, when you go back to the original teachings, the Buddha doesn’t have anything to say about carbon emissions or rising sea levels and that, uh, but nonetheless, there are a lot of really interesting sort of implications built into the teachings. Um, one of them that is, I think, especially interesting to me is that there does seem to be a kind of a parallel between what Buddhism has always said about our individual predicament, um, and our collective predicament today in the sense that from a Buddhist point of view, can, you can understand that the fundamental problem is, this is one way to say it, the fundamental problem is our sense of separation,

Uh, that we have a sense of ourselves as somehow inside and that other people and the rest of the world are outside. And therefore in some sense, our own wellbeing is separate from their wellbeing. I’m fascinated by the fact that it really seems to be the situation we’re facing now in terms of how it is that our human global situation, or civilization that we feel so separate from the rest of the natural world, that we feel that we can exploit it because we’re separate from it. We can use it for our own benefit. So in both cases, it seems to be that the fundamental problem is this sense of separation and the fundamental. Uh, and if that’s also, we can say a kind of spiritual problem that we face today, then it really does raise this question. What can we do to overcome this sense of separation? What, what are the practices? When you look at Buddhist teachings, again, they don’t give us a lot of help in terms of specifically what we should do today. They, uh, you know, there’s a variety of things that I think we need to be creative about.

Um, you know, some, some people work on individual carbon footprint, other ones work on sort of passing a carbon tax in Congress. Some other people, including myself, uh, work with groups like Extinction Rebellion, uh, you know, realizing that direct action civil disobedience is probably going to be necessary. But if I can just conclude by pulling out what I think is the single most important sort of Buddhist implication. And it’s the idea of the Bodhisattva Path, which in Buddhism is basically the understanding that when we look for spiritual awakening, we shouldn’t do it just for our own individual wellbeing. We should do it to help everyone as well. And I think that’s the challenge we face today. I think that not only Buddhism, but I think religion in general needs to reconfigure itself. Uh, not only do we need to see through the idea that the goal is to somehow escape or transcend this world, but we also need to realize that it’s enough, that it’s not enough to focus on what we think promotes our own wellbeing.

We also need to look at the larger picture and bring together the kind of personal or individual transformation that Buddhism has always emphasized with the kind of social collective institutional transformation that’s necessary today. And, and I think the really exciting thing that’s happening certainly in Buddhism, but I would say in many other religions as well, is the realization how these two transformations are dependent upon each other, that each requires the other, if it’s going to be as successful as we need it to be. Now, Dominique, I’ve lost track of the time. So it’s probably time for me to stop, right. Should I leave it at that?

It’s up to you. Do you feel like you’ve come to the end of your, of your share or would you, yeah. I mean, it’s wonderful and things

One very quick, quick point, you know, Buddhism traditionally doesn’t talk about good versus evil; Buddhism traces our problems back to greed, ill will and delusion. And traditionally these have been understand in an individual way, but I think we’re in a situation now where we can see actually these aren’t only individual problems. They’re actually institutionalized in the modern world. We’ve institutionalized them to be quite frank. I think consumer corporate capitalism, at least the way it’s functioning now in Sofar, as you always want more and more, whether it’s more consumption, whether it’s, uh, uh, you know, more profits, higher stock prices, market share, whatever it’s always this need to keep growing. If you’re not going to collapse. And from a Buddhist point of view, you know, why is more and more, always better if it can never be enough? I mean, I think that’s one example, but we could see it with the others as well that the challenge we’re facing is not simply working on our own individual radio dual delusion, but to see how these have taken collective institutional social forum in the world and working together with other people to try to find, to address them.

So maybe I’ll leave it at that for the moment. Yeah.

Beautiful! Yeah, absolutely. Uh, fantastic. Okay. So we, uh, now on to some questions, um, that are coming through from those watching at home. So the first question will be for Tom. Um, I work for a local government. How do we push our local public agencies to start making changes internally that will spur environmental awareness and environmentally friendly practices?

Hmm, good question. Um, so I mean, I’ve seen research that shown that cities are responsible for all of the savings we need to get to a, uh, um, a climate safe place, cities or local authorities, action at the local level government level could be responsible for up to 30% of the savings we need. Right? So it’s a mass and local authorities actually have huge influence. Um, and there’s lots they can do. And therefore there’s lots that we should want to push. Um, you know, we can push them to do, uh, transport buildings, green space, um, and in some places, energy, it really does change by local authority, what they have influence over. But I mean, I think, you know, uh, the best ways to push them and there’s all sorts of things. But I mean, I think obviously, um, civil disobedience and protesting and the XR kind of stuff is really key, but really one thing I want to say is that like, um, actually at the moment, even if they were to do all of those things, it would still be a long way off enough.

And there was some research we saw recently. Right. But that was really, really insightful around this question that I asked the question, if you were to ask yourself right now, where in the world looks like the future, right. What place looks like? You know, like if we haven’t gone to part in the, you know, the planet saved, well, it looks like that now. So you think, Oh, it’s places with like green energy and lots of public transport and energy efficient buildings, and everyone’s kind of cycling on their bikes and it’s all green and lovely. Do you think about places like Copenhagen, Oslo, um, Portland in America, these right. These places that have actually got really low local emissions, they’ve kind of done a lot of what the local authority, you know, exercised a lot of the local authorities power, great progress, great credit to them, their emissions locally down to two tons a person, right.

And we need to get into one ton pretty much. And most cities are up at five, 10, 15. So the great work on the, on these spaces for that, but that’s only their local emissions. When you look at their global emissions, some of these cities go from two to 20 tons. They go from being the best places in the world to actually the most intensive. Alright. So this tells us the whole story of like, of, of what progress, but where we’re working towards, what the example is, we’re trying to emulate, turns it on its head. So I would uh, invite whoever asked, this question that the most powerful thing is to start trying to embody that real future, you know, and start moving away because the reason those places are really high impact is because of the consumption curve. Copenhagen also tends to be very wealthy, lots of flying, lots of meat, lots of investments around the world, redoing your house every couple of years.

Cause you can’t because you can afford it, stop that! I know and, and, and start living in touch with your local environment and work less and, um, kind of what makes life good and, and cause, cause there’s nowhere we can point out right now that is the future we need to live in. Um, so to start creating examples of that, little pockets of that in our communities, I would say is the most important thing we need to do right now. Uh, and then that will filter up and our local authorities, our systems, our cultures will change. And then all of our local authorities will know what to do. So yeah; a slightly curveball answer, but there you go

Oh no, beautiful! And so important too. Yeah. To observe our sort of place within what’s going on right now. And then, like you say, we start by embodying that, um, that inevitably influences other people to also get on board. Um, and uh, thank you very much, Tom. Okay. So the next question is for Mike, what can we do to help these countries get fresh water, food and basic needs met in order to survive? What can we do Mike, as people watching here today, um, after hearing your heartbreaking stories about Kiribati?

The great thing about COVID 19, if there is anything great about COVID-19 is that, um, it forced us to not rely on external imports. And so, Kiribati closed its borders in, I want to say mid to late March and I was supposed to go back. There has been thousands of us, stranded and Germany and the USA and Australia and New Zealand. And we’re still quote unquote COVID refugees. Um, but what that made us do and the country people do in their country is grow things like they have grown for thousands of years before, rely on the natural environment, do things the way that they were done before. Fresh water, without going into a geological explanation of coral atoll lenses and the aquifers that form and desalinate the saltwater due to the coral. Um, there is fresh water, there is ways to get water on those islands.

Um, people have done it for thousands of years. Kiribati archeological evidence shows that there were people in Kiribati 2000 years ago. So we know how to live. We know how to survive. One thing that really connects us is the word Abba means people. It means land. It means community all in one. When you were born on that Island, you live on that Island, you grow up on that Island. You have children of your own on that Island. And when you died, you returned to the Island and you watch over the Island for future generations that will come after you. It’s cosmologically connected; the past, the present and the future is all connected to land. So when we talk about the land disappearing, we’re also talking about a people disappearing and my Kiribati parents will not leave that land because they are attached to that land.

Um, so the land takes care of us and we take care of the land, but what is happening outside of Kiribati is impacting us. And that one thing that we cannot control, that people cannot control. We leave that up to the rest of the world. Um, it’s baby steps for baby feet. I can almost guarantee that no one heard of Kiribati or even knew how to pronounce Kiribati. Before I said Kiribati, everyone would think it was Kiri-batis while the T and the, I make the S sound. So it’s Kiribati, get a bus if it’s too hard to pronounce and just say, get a bus really fast and we’ll understand. So it’s these little steps that we’re trying to take while we still can take; fresh water,  medical supplies, all that stuff is great, but we live in a place and I’m thinking of Tamanna thinking of the other islands, where money is not the currency. People are the currency. That’s how you survive. You survive with people, you survive with the land.

Um, so spreading the word then is what I’m hearing. Um, talking about Kiribati, making people aware that that is a place that is, um, really feeling, I mean, there are many places in the world, but truly feeling like the devastating effects of climate change firsthand and shedding light on that, having conversations, um, and doing the work where, where we are in order to, um, try and reduce the effects of, of, of what, what, uh, our actions are, how they are impacting other places in the world. Um, is there anything else you’d like to add to that?

It’s powerful. Um, governments are very, very powerful and I have worked, um, during the past four years, I’ve worked with the United States Congress and the Senate and things have been happening in the halls of Congress and the tunnels of Congress. That gives me hope that, um, give me hope for things like amendments or things like Senate resolutions for displaced populations put forth by a Senator from Vermont. And co-sponsored in the house by a Senator from the, by a Congresswoman, from New York City. And when I go up to DC, I’m in conversation with these people and they have never heard like everyone on this call, most likely they have never heard of these situations happening on the other side of the planet. So it’s stories can do a huge amount of good and they can inspire people to work for justice. For those that don’t have a voice and tell our story. We love, we love where we live. We love the world that we are in and, um, my family doesn’t want to leave.

Thank you. Um, I realized that I forgot to say that we were supposed to have the lovely Winona, Winona Leduc on our call here today. Um, but unfortunately, um, she’s protesting and due to some complications with line three, um, she is not able to make it today. So we are sending all of our love and positivity out to her, um, wherever she is right now. Um, so okay. Back to the questions, we have a question for Randi, did you find being brought up in Catholicism, um, easier for you to search for answers outside it?

Um, yes. Uh, in the sense that I never, like I said before, I never really felt connected to Catholicism when we would go to church. Like the stories just didn’t didn’t penetrate for me. Um, you know, when I went to my retreat at a convent for my confirmation, I was like, this is a great place to party. That’s what I was thinking about instead of feeling that connection. And the, and like I said, when I got a bit older and realized how, um, realized that I was queer and realized the views of Catholicism at the time, um, were very antiqueer .It was easy for me to search for it elsewhere because it was search for answers elsewhere because I didn’t fit in, I definitely didn’t fit in anymore in that. Um, but I’m always searching for answers and I’m always open to listening to people.

Like I, one of my best friends is, um, Baptist and I love listening to her. And while I don’t believe, like I said, in organized religion, I love listening to people who have faith and to see how much that faith has affected them and inspires them to make change. Um, and I’m, you know, I, I keep an open mind, like I said, and there’s actually this church in Toronto that I go to with my friends, uh, called Gay Church, um, because it’s super inclusive and we really learn good lessons from it. And so I’m not, I’m not anti-religion by any means. I’m, I’m constantly, um, open to, you know, receiving the messages that, uh, that I can get in really good spaces. And that’s a really good space to get it. So, uh, so yeah.

Fantastic. Thank you. Okay. Question for David now, can you clarify how Buddhism rickens.. reconciles, I’m going to start that again. Can you clarify how Buddhism reconciles the idea of impermanence and a non transcendental view of the world?

Hmm. You know, usually when we think about religion where we’re, we’re looking for some kind of permanence, some something real and unchanging, like God, for example, and sort of hoping to sort of ground ourselves in that. And, and in that regard, I think Buddhism is, is quite strikingly different in the way that it emphasizes, uh, impermanence and embracing impermanence. So, you know, in, in Buddhism it’s a big tent. So there are people who would understand the goal in Buddhism as some kind of complete transcendence of this world, but certainly in, in the tradition Zen that I trained in, I think, and I think for a lot of other Buddhists as well, uh, what we need to transcend is really our ego. You know, the delusion of a me that’s separate from the world and my wellbeing is separate from mural. That’s the problem. And by, uh, letting go of that, opening up to the impermanence and, and, and for Buddhism too, impermanence is very much connected with another essential teaching, which is insubstantiality, which is a fancy word, just to say that nothing has any separate reality of its own.

It’s all, everything is interdependent, everything is connected with other things. And so what this ends up emphasizing is that the life for a mature Buddhist practitioner is, is open to the, the impermanence and also responding appropriately, according to situations because of that. So that’s the emphasis. And of course, what’s, what’s uniquely challenging about our situation today is the ecological crisis, not even just the climate emergency, but the larger one, the fact that there’s so many, um, you know, species disappearing, so many pollutants in the air and the earth and our bodies and so forth. And so the question really is how do we respond appropriately to that? And it’s because I think Buddhism doesn’t get preoccupied with escaping the world, but rather trying to address its problems that, I mean, I think that’s moving in the kind of direction that we really need. You know, religions have a kind of a checkered history in the sense that a lot of times they’ve ended up emphasizing are, you know, we’re unique, we’re special, we’re separate from all the other creatures, uh, our wellbeing, they’re all here for us. And, and I think rather than continuing down that road, we, you know, all of our religious traditions really need to ask ourselves, you know, how do we need to transform our understanding in ways that will help us engage more fully with the kinds of crises that we have today? Because if we can’t do that, our religions are going to be irrelevant and, uh, we don’t want that to happen. Yeah,

Mmm; Absolutely. So this is a question for the whole panel. Um, anyone who feels called to answer, how can we motivate others to see how small behavioral changes can have an impact and widespread positive, have an important and wide spread positive impact for the environment? Does anyone feel cool to answer?

Yeah. If I can say just very briefly, a two points, number one, I think the best way to motivate other people is to set a good example. You know, it’s, it’s really, I mean, we –words are cheap, right? It’s all very easy to talk about what we should be doing. If we can set a big, good example, especially a non consumerist one, because as Tom was saying, you know, so so much we identify more consumption with more happiness. And if we can show that, you know, not being focused on this consumerist religion, if in fact that makes one even happier, more joyful, more free. I think that example is really important. But the other thing I’d want to add to that is although reducing our own carbon footprint is important, I think it’s not to, it’s important not to buy into what sometimes the large corporations want is to think that that’s the main problem. We also need to address the way the economic system is structured. Uh, and it’s really important that our preoccupation with reducing our own footprint, doesn’t remove us from that. I remember Bill McKibben said at the Paris talks, you know, somebody asked him, uh, what can I do as an individual? And he responded, stop being an individual. We have to work with others if we’re really going to adjust this problem anyway, enough from me.

Absolutely. No, it’s, uh, it’s great. And, and I guess the question is like, how do we join forces and come together? Right? I mean, we have so many tools in order for us to do that. Now, the fact that we can have this conversation from all over the world, um, and come together is, is remarkable. So I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can use the tools that are in place in order to create positive change and to make those connections and deeper and deepen our understanding, um, through connection. Uh, anybody else have any, have any thoughts in regards to that? Yeah. Tom, go for it.

Um, yeah, I mean, just to reflect, I completely agree with everything David said that I think, I think there was, you know, there’s, um, there is a lot of this certainly in the environment movement at the moment that there’s really firm sort of recommend, reckon…. recognition of the responsibility and the big businesses kind of put on individuals, Oh, it’s you buying the wrong things? That’s, what’s causing all this trouble. Then at the same time, I think like the, um, the science is really clear at the moment. Depending on where you live 20 to 40% of the emissions, um, the, the, uh, your personal per capita emissions can be influenced. You are the primary influence over that 40, 30, 20 to 40%. So right now you could take a massive chunk out. So there is an enormous impact we can have. That is the science is basically really clear.

We need all action from all actors right now. We don’t have time to buy the business. And then all, then it’s our turn. Everybody needs to be doing everything yesterday. So like, um, to that, just in terms of that messaging is really clear. And, and actually, you know, we do have real clear idea of what those things are now. Um, and it’s really important to get them out. Cause a lot of people are like, well, what about my recycling? Is that enough? And can I just offset my flights? And like, what if I just won’t get a stairs rather than the lIft, is that enough? And it’s like, uh, all I, you know, soy milk that is not chopping down the main forest as well. It’s like, we just need clarity. And hopefully then a bit the point now with the science where we know what they are, right.

It’s the diet is the flights is, um, and just in terms of how we drive impacts like to be, you know, you could, you could see the world the way our, what’s the, our society in different chunks, right? This is the systems which are the infrastructure, our politics, our economics, there’s our cultures, which is how we organize ourselves together, how we relate to each other, there’s our mindsets, which is our own experience, right? And these things are all equally important parts of the orbit, right? And often we focus just on the system, but actually it’s not until we change, we’ve been talking about, you know, fundamentally what it is we strive for on a day-to-day basis where the example I always use is just like our celebrations look, all our celebrations, birthdays, um, uh, the winter holidays, you know, uh, uh, baby showers, anniversaries, they all centered around stuff now, like what, is there a way that we come together and share which doesn’t? So I just think, you know, that’s the sort of thing that we could start by doing, let’s create celebrations and come together where we don’t buy things. Um, so yeah, I think there’s just so much fertile ground for, for changing the way we live. And then that will start to filter up because once you change those mindsets, cold enough, people start to go, wow, that looks all right, actually, and then you get cultures change. We’re not gonna do that. And then the systems change.

Absolutely. So as we’re heading into the holiday season, um, our family has spoken for many years about the necessity to, to remove presents from the equation or find alternative ways of doing it. Um, but it always manages to creep in somehow, you know, because I think we’re all so used to this being such an integral part of, of our celebrations. Do you have any alternative ways that you think that people can come together without the necessity for exchanging more stuff? Um, and yeah. What could that look like if anyone wants to..

Hell yeah, well, yeah. I mean, I think, well, one of the first things I, as part of that journey is, you know, it feels viscerally good to buy stuff sometimes. Right. You know, when you’re fed up and you’re going, ah, God I’m really screwed up today, what he did at the time. And you’re like, well, I’m gonna tell myself, I’ll feel better. I’ll go and buy something on Amazon. Right. And like, you feel for like five minutes, it’s a strong emotional reaction. Right. And like, and that is, you know, that’s why consumer advertising so, so powerful. It can harness that. And actually this is where, like the practices that we talk about are really important. so you can take it, just take a moment and just kind of sit through that and, and, and, you know, to have the, almost like the sort of soap, I don’t know what the word is, but the, yeah.

The psychological, the kind of meditative infrastructure to just kind of pass through that moment, you know? Um, uh, I think it’s a really important part of what we just described. Uh, cause we do end up just buying something anyway. Um, and then in terms of coming together, I mean, there’s just so many things we could have just, you know, I think what’s better than having it bought. You know?. A gift doesn’t have to be a thing. You know, there’s all sorts of ways we can give things to each other, you know, find other ways; our time is the biggest gift, uh, after all isn’t it just being my that’s the thing that the lockdown has taught us when the lockdown was lifted, we didn’t think, Oh my God, I need lots of cheap t-shirts you were like,

I want to, I want to see the people I love. Right.Right. So, so each other’s time, I think is the best

Embracing that quality time. Absolutely. Before I move on to another question, does anybody have anything else they’d like to add in regards to, um, how we, how small behavioral changes can have an important and widespread positive impact on the environment?

Uh, I’d like to add something on to what Tom was saying. Um, it’s, it’s, uh, people’s nature to a certain degree to want to fit in. And Tom was saying, you know, when they see something they’re like, Oh yeah, that actually looks pretty good. So the more people see the changes that other people are making, the way they’re shifting their lives, the more they’re going to want to start doing that themselves. Um, and if I can get political for a moment, uh, voting the right people in and changing policy, it’s not a perfect system, but, uh, it’s a system we have. And so I hope everyone on this panel, uh, runs for candidacy wherever they are to make some changes.I’m definitely out of that. I can’t see that being in my future, but

Everyone here, the people we need to make changes.

Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. So another question for the whole panel, um, what part do you feel organized religion plays in the need for ecological change needed today? So for the eco… ecological change needed today and how does it affect the impact needed for the change to either start or continue?

I think, um, I think you don’t make changes unless something happens to you personally, or, you know, someone who hasn’t been impacted by that. And to that point, uh, half of the country of Kiribati is Catholic. Half of it is, uh, Protestant and smatherings of Mormon, uh, Baha’i Muslim, uh, seventh day Adventist and, uh, throw something else out there. Being able to connect the call that we’re making with religious organizations around the world, we were able to work with Pope Francis in putting together one of our pieces that, you know, putting together that movie, because I know that is Catholic I’m Catholic where all my family USA , Kiribati is all Catholic. Being able to connect religions that connect millions, billions of people around the world and able to do something with that is almost, um, it’s almost like social media on steroids. And I think the call to serve the call to, um, humble yourself, the call to work with each other, like Dr.

Loy was saying so many things of what he talked about and the Buddhist spade I could feel reflected in my Catholic faith. So many things that he talked about within the Muslim faith that he reflected on the Buddhist faith. I could, I could feel that in my Catholic faith and parts of it and the Mormon faith, that I’m knowing that I’m learning about it as well. So I mean, we are all connected and I think that’s what an environmental group does need in a global connection to each other. And I think, um, humanity is best when we face the worst, because that, that brings out the best in all of us.

Anyone else want to jump in? Go for it, David. 

I think that our religious institutions are both part of the problem, a big part of the problem, and also an extremely important part of the solution. By part of the problem. I mean that, as I said, somewhat earlier, I think that too often, they have focused our attention elsewhere. They’ve talked about some other reality, some way of transcending this world and therefore understanding the value of this world as simply kind of a means to some higher eternal end. I think in so far as our religions have encouraged us to do that, they have sort of been complicit in the kinds of degradation that, that had, that have been happening. They they’ve treated the earth as simply kind of a backdrop to this great story of salvation that will eventually involve us escaping somewhere else. But the other side of it is religions have, are so important in the lives of so many people.

And also, you know, they’re all big tents. They all have a lot of teachings. And I think the, the, the teachings about, uh, compassion about kindness about really, you know, helping it’s like all of them in one way or another, they articulated differently, but they’re all talking about the problem of ego, of, of, you know, selfishness. They all point out what a, what a problem that is. And I think by building on it and also understanding that selfishness can also happen on a collective level, you can have a species that is selfish in terms of how it relates to all the other species of the earth. You know, these teachings are also built into our great religions traditions. And so I think there are these double aspects. We have to be wary of the problems and the ways that religion can sort of reinforce some of the negative turning away from this world, but also how at their core, the great founders, the great teachers exemplify and show us what it can really mean to, to let go of our egos and to become part of something greater than ourselves whose wellbeing we identify with.

Beautiful. Yes. Uh, an ongoing journey of, uh, eliminating the ego, but it’s so important. Um, anyone else want to jump in on that question before we move on? Not seeing any hands go up. Okay. Um, to what extent is eco-consciousness yet another privilege of the privileged? Hmm. Interesting question. Who’d like to take that first one.

I can go. Um, so yeah, so this goes, this reminds me, and it goes back to, um, environmental racism and just having access; less access to information and to that knowledge, um, uh, but also the difference between being in survival mode and being in a privileged state. So there are people who are literally just trying to survive, trying to put dinner, put food on their table and feed their families. And they just don’t have the bandwidth to be able to focus on, uh, those ways that they can, you know, make, make change. It’s just, it’s just not in their capacity right now. And I think that’s something that’s really important for us to understand that these, all of us right now are very privileged, not privileged to be able to put thought into these things and to dedicate our time and ourselves to these things because we’re not in survival mode. Um, and I think that’s, that’s just an important reminder for, for everyoneBeautifully said, beautifully said, Randi, um, anyone else wants to speak on that

Maybe to add to that quickly? That’s right. I think I know, I know, you know, the corollary of, of, of, of, um, privilege in this context is probably a responsibility, right? I mean, there’s a bit of doing a lot of engagement, um, part of the job to make sure this is a place for all voices, obviously crucial. I mean, obviously the environment movement has not been, um, but also there’s as, as we recognized that, I think it’s really important to recognize that it’s not everybody responsibility evenly. There’s the enormous economic inequality and therefore there’s inequality and responsibility. And a lot of the push, a lot of outreach to certain communities here has been like, well, you know, you caused this mess, you fix it and come back once you have, you know, um, uh, I don’t think this is a completely, there’s a lot of truth to that, you know? So I think, um, uh, I think it’s important that the space be most more compassionately held, uh, for everyone to be a part of it. Um, but really it’s an invitation is, and actually if it ends up, you know, being lonely, lonely, the privilege, sorting that mess out, then I think that there’s probably some justice in that. Um.

Well said, well said Tom, okay, this is a question for David. Um, just looking at the time three 15, I think we can continue going for a little longer if everyone is, is happy to do so. Um, so this question is for David, uh, could you speak about how to bridge or translate the connections of Ecodharma with Christian perspective?

In a way I hope that I’ve done that to some degree in some of the other comments that I’ve, that I’ve made, um, especially the last one, you know, regarding the, the fundamental, the fundamental issue of, of what I think the founders were really pointing at. I mean, if we go back to the original teachings of Jesus, what, what is he really pointing toward? Is it, is it really a matter of transcending this world? Or if we look at the emphasis upon relating to other people and kindness, I mean, I see that as, as a, um, kind of an essential, an essential teaching there. Yeah. Hmm. I don’t know that that’s a very good answer or an adequate answer. I mean, the religions are, are, are so big that it’s hard to sort of sometimes generalize about them in the way that I’ve been doing, but maybe that’s the best I can offer for the moment.

I think that’s great. Coming back to the fundamentals of compassion and loving kindness that, that runs through old, um, religions and spiritual ideas. I think from what I’ve learned personally, it is, it is that which connects us all, whether we’re talking about spirituality and, um, and religion, or just as humans, it really feels like that is the energy that connects us all. And if we can really tap into that, um, we’ll be able to find that common language too,

Can we extend that beyond human beings? You know, I mean to other species, can we extend it to ecosystems and indeed the whole biosphere, you know, the earth just isn’t… the earth, isn’t just our home where we happen to be living it’s our mother.

And in a sense we never, you know, cut that umbilical cord. So how do we acknowledge that, that too is a way in which we are part of something greater than ourselves. And therefore we have a sense of responsibility to that.

Yeah, absolutely. So this last question here is for everyone, and it’s an interesting one. Um, the pandemic has reduced individual emissions, but online shopping has increased pollution from big tech besides not shopping, how can we hold big tech accountable for that impact?

Well, I could offer one quick thing. Things, um, in, in the job, one of the shifts is to is, and clutter. And basically the research implies that we should be keeping all electronics for at least seven years. To only buy products where the supplier is providing you with, you know, a product that might last that long, um, super important.


And how are we, how are people to know what is the research that needs to take place in when buying these products? Right? Because they may, there’s a lot of lying that’s going on in the world currently, which is they, they may promote something as being a sustainable or, you know, something that will last and then you get it through the post and it breaks virtually instantly, you know, it’s, uh, that’s an interesting thing to think about in terms of how can we be more conscious buyers when we are consuming conscious consumers.Maybe that’s a reflection about you were asking earlier about how is it we can all come together. There’s so many of us around the world that are concerned about these things collaborating on, on, on that kind of sharing that information is probably yeah, Sure there’s websites for it. Yeah.

Yeah, definitely. There will be soon if there isn’t already.

Would you mind if I spoke up on a question a couple of questions ago as

Of course, I’d love that, I’d love that Mike.

This idea. And I had to look at that. I kind of have a feeling that I knew what it was, but I wanted to make sure that my definition was correct and this, uh, this idea of ego consciousness. Um, I think Randy said that it was for the privilege, but I would argue strongly against that, that it’s not for the privileged only because we are very conscious about what is happening to our water. We are very conscious about what’s happening to our lands. We are very conscious about the funerals that we are doing for children that pass away because the water has turned into this. I’ve had this water bottle for almost a decade now, but this was our well water. And when children drink this, they get diarrhea, they vomit, they end up dehydrating. And my family in Kiribati has buried children less than two years of age because of things like this. And this has been happening for a long time. So we are not unconscious to whether it’s happening to the environment. Like I always say, it’s not just the polar bears. We need to have our story heard too, because we, we are receiving the water that’s melting on the poles. And so while they are losing the Tundra, we are losing their islands. Uh, I guess that, um, this story doesn’t get told because no one’s interested in hearing until now I hope. W        e don’t have electricity. We don’t have running water, but yet we are facing one of the world’s biggest challenges and to a very, very, very large part that is not the fault of the Marshall Islands. Kiribati, Tokaido, Tuvalu, the Maldives. Right.

Absolutely. And I think going back to what Randi was saying, it’s the responsibility of the privilege to make sure that we are addressing how our impacts affect, um, people like yourselves in Kiribati and beyond. Um, does anyone else have anything they want to add to, to Mike’s share or, um, or back to the question on, on how we can hold the big techs accountable for that impact or what needs to, you know, as we’re moving into this new world of a global pandemic and figuring out, you know, new ways of living new ways of doing things like how, what we should be conscious of, um, as we navigate this time and the shifts that are changing

Maybe I can speak a little more generally if, if I can, uh, it’s, it’s not just, it’s not just holding big tech accountable, but, but, but I think it’s, it’s the larger issue. Um, and I think Buddhism is, that’s what I usually talk about, but I think Buddhism is just a, um, just, just a kind of example here. I mean, the way that Buddhism traditionally focused on our own individual awakening when it came to the West, it, it, it also tied into sort of American individualism, right? It’s, there’s a lot of Buddhist groups where, you know, leave me alone. Don’t distract me with all this social ecological stuff, because, you know, I’m focusing on my own enlightenment. And I think the big challenge, uh, certainly for Buddhism. And I think for a lot of other organizations, a lot of other religious institutions is, is the need to find ways to come together, right?

Like I alluded to, Bill McKibben, you know, stop being an individual, if it’s true that the three poisons that Buddhism talks about greed, ill will, and delusion are not just functioning individually, but they’ve been institutionalized. We really have to, you know, we can’t think of ourselves as lone Rangers. We have to find ways to come together and to work together and in order to address them. And ideally, I would think religious institutions are a great way, you know, because in a religion, we, we, we come together, uh, in our beliefs in, and in our concerns. And that just seems kind of a natural way to create a kind of community that then understands and is able to act as a community as a group to address these deep rooted collective problems. So I guess what I’m trying to say is the, the answer really is isn’t simply about us, about you and me sort of signing online petitions, the sort that we get a dozen of every day, but it’s actually finding ways to work, finding ways to be a part of a loving community where people are there for each other who really want to support each other. And I think that’s one of the main challenges for religion in general these days. And certainly if it’s going to be relevant in, in helping to address these kinds of challenges that we have today.

Hmm. Wonderful stuff. Does anybody have anything else they would like to add about, you know, any of the things that we’ve covered or just in general, about eco spirituality as a subject and how, um, you know, keeping it in the forefront of our mind and, and diving deeper will, um, is, is very necessary at this time. Uh, before I sign off,

Then maybe just a quick follow on from what David was saying. Just that to, just to recognize, you know, the absolute, it’s going to be so difficult for us to progress through this next civilizational bottleneck, where we’re basically setting fire to the raft that we’re on. And, you know, the, the, these traditions have the tools, right. If we can just present them in a way that that kind of fits with the 21st century psyche. Right. And I think that to me is the big question and the thing that we would love to invite in a jump that this question, but also I hate everywhere. Like how can we bring the ancient wisdom to land in a way that today works? Because obviously we have to be honest, like the religions that are our traditions are, um, you know, they they’re born of a time and there, there isn’t a sort of, uh, reshaping that might be required in some ways I feel. But yeah, that discussion I would love to continue having when we do that


Apologies for talking too much, but really, really briefly. I think something else religions can do is help us deal with our grief because I think frankly, a big obstacle for a lot of us is that we’re repressing our grief about what’s happening. And when we do that, that sort of disempowers us. And one thing we’re doing at our eco Dharma center here in Colorado, that we’ve started is we not only meditate together, but we actually have exercises that can help us get in touch with that grief. Grief is different from despair, but we have to feel our grief and, and real, and that perhaps more than anything else can sort of bring us together. And that’s something I think religions can play an important role. Sorry, I’m talking too much.

No, it’s great. Not at all, Never need to apologize for sharing. And last, last chance. Anyone else want to say anything before I sign off? I think we’re good. Okay. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much to all of our speakers here today. Um, your shares have been so valuable and I have no doubt that, uh, that the impact of this panel will be huge, both for our community and beyond, um, and to all those who are at home watching, thank you for taking the time out of your day to really listen with an open mind and an open heart. What I would say is just keep questioning and reflecting on all of the things that were, were mentioned in this panel and see what resonates with you and keep opening conversations about what you’ve learned, whether it be with loved ones or literally anyone who will listen. Um, and, and together as guests of mother earth, we can take action both small and big, turn the ship around and create a better future for all. So have a beautiful rest of your day and bye for now.

Thank you, Dominique and everyone else who arranged this panel, really appreciate it. Yeah. Thank you so much everyone. Come drop into me. Stay safe. Be well, everyone.

Okay. We’re not live anymore. All right, all right.


The fashion industry is one of the world’s largest polluters. The world now consumes a staggering 80 billion items of clothing each year. That’s up 400% in the past two decades. Now it’s so important to understand the advertising and big businesses are selling us the idea that we need more stuff. Whereas the fashion industry used to have four seasons. They now have 52 seasons a year. That means new stuff is coming in each week. And their aim is to try and persuade you that you need that item in your life. We now have hard evidence to suggest that the more we concentrate on these values of money, consuming, and material importance, the more depressed, anxious, and unhappy we actually become. Stuff does not make us happy. But I’m afraid to say that we have completely bought into it, myself included.  Even though our wardrobes are completely saturated, we are obsessed with this constant newness because the fashion industry has instilled into us this fear of being out of fashion. But how can we be in fashion when there’s 52 seasons a year? For so long I never even questioned it. I used to go down to H & M or Zara and get a bargain; I thought I was winning, right? And that’s what people are doing. More and more people are buying more and more clothes, and we’re not keeping them as long as we used to. 

The fashion industry has become disposable in a way that it never used to be. We are now in the age of fast fashion. All of that comes out a very real cost. Only 3% of the clothes in America are actually made in America. The rest are made in developing countries in unfathomably bad conditions. The majority of these workers are women that earn less than $3 per day. These countries so desperately need the work that they have no choice but to lower their prices and cut corners, such as worker safety, otherwise the big businesses would just look elsewhere. The conditions are so bad that people are dying. And yet the big businesses just turn a blind eye. How is that okay?

The fashion industry has a massive negative environmental impact: water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals, and insane amounts of textile waste. Even when we donate clothes to charity shops or thrift stores, only 10% of them actually get sold. The rest of them end up in landfill, or they ship them to developing countries where they completely destroy the local industry. I know this is super depressing, but if you’re like me and you care about people and the planet, we have to be aware of the truth. 

So, what can we do? What can we do together as a community? Well, first things first, we have to make an effort to buy less clothing. So get inventive, creative, grab some old pieces of clothing and see how you can do something new with them. Hold swap shops with your friends every once in a while to switch up your wardrobe. When you do go shopping, make sure you look for things that are higher quality and will last you longer. Or even better head to your local thrift shop, charity shop, consignment store or vintage shop. Second hand shopping is the way forward. And it’s actually really fun. It’s pretty easy on wallet too. We need to change the way we think about fashion and clothes. Pick something that you’ll really love so you know you’ll want to keep it for a while. I have a pair of green trousers in my wardrobe that I have had for probably over five years. I love them. I whack them out every single autumn without fail. Look good sustainably and help reduce the impact of fast fashion on the environment. 

Get out there, you beautiful people and start the wave. 


Hello Friends!

As STW continues to grow and evolve, so have our ideas about the best way we can use social media to connect us. To further integrate this beautiful community, we will be focusing on amplifying the waves you are creating in your lives, in our stories!

To get involved, all you need to do is use the hashtags listed below whenever you share steps, ideas and inspiration along your positive change journey. Our team will be searching the STW hashtags to find your content to highlight. And we encourage you to do the same: use the hashtags to find Start the Wave Community posts and likeminded folx.

Search, share and deepen your understanding of this vast and stunning collective, as we create a sort of web of positive change throughout social media, together. So, if and when you feel called, and only if you feel called, please post around our foundational pillars:

– Kindness

– Equality & Justice *I realize this one is different from what I say, but please add “Justice” to it in the text!

– Environment

– Meditation & Spirituality

– Veganism & Animal Rights

– Pride

 With the three following focuses in mind:

-Individuals, groups and organizations that you may have found that are creating positive change

-Any steps that you are taking in your life to create positive change.

-And any STW aligned resource recommendations, it can be books, podcast, documentaries, films or literally anything that you find that has been helpful and you want to share with the community.

Lastly if you’re posting about an activity or event that is location specific use the hashtag STW… and then whatever your location is, so it could be #STWcalgary or #STWmumbai or #STWbarcelona you get the idea. So that we can find each other in the real life to connect and join forces!

For the next 6 days, beginning today, our posts will be introducing our 6 pillars along with a question to get you reflecting around each of them. We need all sorts of change makers to create a better world, and our hope is that by using these hashtags it will create a way of finding inspiration and content in the specific areas that speak to us most individually, as well as empower us all to be active change makers within this community. YOUR community.

Let’s use this tool to continue strengthening our ethical intuition, give back and learn from one another, as we forge new paths to a better future for all.

Thanks for listening, have fun, and Start the Wave.

Today I want to talk to you about the power of kindness. Which I believe is arguably the most important idea of our age. We live in a capitalistic, materialistic society. It’s a system that teaches us that in order to succeed, we have to fight our way to the top, regardless of who we hurt or harm along the way, because power trumps all, right? As a result we have lost the notion of community and the very ideas that connect us: togetherness, relationships, support, love, and kindness. In my opinion, it’s high time for a paradigm shift. The world needs to change the way we view love and kindness because in my opinion, kindness is the road to true success. The way we treat our fellow humans will eventually decide our own destiny; as individuals, as groups, and as a society as a whole.

Most of us would probably say that we’re pretty kind, right? We don’t ever go out of our way to do wrong or hurt people, but do you truly treat everyone you cross paths with as equals? Do you give your time and kindness to others without expecting anything in return? Now, these questions are probably getting your backs up a little bit here. Our egos probably saying, ‘uh, yeah, I’m nice to everyone. Stop telling me what to do you’re balland.’ Why am I from up North? I don’t know, but just go with me for a second. Okay. Because when I examined it in myself, I realized that I really did have a long way to go. In every moment of every day we make judgments: on the way people look, what they wear, the things they say, status. For most of us it’s just how we’ve been programmed. Becoming aware of how you react moment to moment is crucial. And actually the very first step. What I’m saying is we need to reprogram ourselves to lead with compassion.

Let’s first have a look at why our society is so disconnected and individualistic. I think in many cases, keeping others at a distance stems from fear. Fear of losing something, a fear that if you give a piece of yourself, self to someone, they will want more. Our instincts have developed to protect ourselves as individuals. Well we need to break down that belief system and prove everyone wrong because I’m telling you now that is not how it works. 

Now, I’m going to tell you a story and to be completely honest with you, it’s not one that I am particularly proud of, but I really do think it’s an important one to tell. Whilst we were in Mumbai, we went on an expedition to see the reality of the slums and to get a glimpse into their lives. The morning leading up to it, I made special care not to pack anything that I thought they would want to steal. Cause that’s what everyone had told me to do. Right? The system that instills into us this fear had told me to be fearful of these people. So we just took our bumbags and that was it. And as I got there, I realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried. These people don’t have much, but oh my God are they the most giving people I have ever met. As we were walking around, it was just like, so obvious how content and happy they were with their lives. They didn’t want anything from me. I needed to learn something from them. We learn that many of these people choose to stay there living on very little, because they love the sense of community, community, that they just can’t find elsewhere. They know if they go hungry the family from across the teeny tiny alleyway, will feed them for a bit. Their doors are always open. Kindness breeds kindness. Here I was calling myself an open, kind, generous person. And I have to be honest, I was really unkind in that moment; judging people before I had any real reason to. I know in my case, I have to be actively working on it constantly. Reminding myself not to attach unnecessary fear beforehand. Because when I am open, I gain so much from it. Because the bottom line is, none of us on this planet are better than anyone else or have any more of a right to be here. We all come from different walks of life. That’s the beauty of it, right? Everybody has a different story to tell. And so if you’re willing to listen, guaranteed, you could learn something from each and every one of them.

How can we expect to be accepted if we’re not doing the same in return? So, be open. Listen, no matter who it is. Some of the people I least expected to learn lessons from handed me the biggest pearls of wisdom. No matter how busy your life may be, give someone the most precious thing you have, time! A moment where you are truly present, be it with coworkers, friends, family, or someone you just pass on the tube. Treat them with respect and love them for all of their complexities.

And last but not least, forgive. God, that’s the one I struggle with because I always find it so hard to forgive myself. But please, we must, trust me. It’s what I’m working on and I really hope you’ll do the same. Forgive others and forgive yourself. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. I’m only joking. Let it go. Seriously, holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Even if someone hurts you or lets you down, treat them with compassion. I know that might sound like the hardest thing in the world to do, but believe me, if you hold onto that anger and pain, the only one suffering is yourself. Try your hardest in as many moments as possible to adopt a compassionate mindset. I feel bad for that person for they are not living from compassion. It’s hard, yes, but trust me, so worth it. If everyone led from a place of love, kindness and compassion, instead of pointing blame, seeking revenge and hurting one another, we would be living much happier lives. That’s the kind of world I want to live in. How about you?

Kindness is also a great response to anxiety. Oh, anxiety, as much as we love ya, we’re going to say goodbye. Gonna beat you down by being kind to people because a group of highly anxious individuals who performed at least six acts of kindness a week, after only one month, there was a huge shift in positive moods, relationship satisfaction, and social avoidance and socially anxious individuals. 

Now we know things don’t change overnight, right? The world doesn’t just suddenly wake up. We didn’t suddenly realize that we needed to stop slavery or that women needed the vote. Every movement started with a small group of passionate people. I see love and kindness in the same light, a movement. Good deeds spread like waves, and well this world needs it now more than ever; community, care, and kindness. For when you truly live from that place of love and kindness, you adopt good habits. Like Martin Luther King said about Ghandi, “he lifted love beyond mere personal relationship and turned it into a broad scale social force for good.” Let’s turn love and kindness into a social force for good. God, I’m so excited about this one. I think ultimately all of this has come down to this moment of me understanding what it’s all really about, being kind. Start the wave!


Hi everybody. I am Valeria and I’m calling in from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and, um, I’m so happy to welcome all of you here to this panel as a representative of URI in North America. You’re right. The United religions initiative is the world’s largest grassroots interfaith organization. We promote enduring daily interfaith cooperation. We try to end religiously motivated violence, and we strive to create cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the earth and all living beings. The URI community in North America is made up of tens of thousands of people. Who’ve come together across a diversity of beliefs and traditions to work together for justice, equity and inclusion, and that you’re right North America. We really believe that diversity is a gift and that pursuing justice means hearing and lifting up every single voice around the table and acknowledging and honoring and uplifting sexual and gender diversity is an integral part of our approach to peace building and interfaith dialogue.

I know how challenging and painstaking and hard this work really is and how much still needs to be done. And so I’m so, so thrilled to be with all of you today to have this conversation and gather, and the commitment of the interfaith movement to moving this conversation forward is one of the reasons why I’m part of it and part of URI, and I’m so glad to be with all of you today. So on behalf of URI North America, thank you so much for being here and thank you Geneva for, uh, making this happen through the interfaith center and organizing this and thank you Dom and Start the Wave for joining us today and taking the time to be with us. I’m so looking forward to the conversation.

Hi everyone. Welcome. Um, my name is Geneva Blackmer and I’m the program director for the interface center at Miami university in Oxford, Ohio. And we are so infinitely grateful to start the wave for their willingness to not only have this conversation, but to create space, which amplifies the voices of small nonprofits across the country. Our organization’s mission is to invite people of diverse, religious, spiritual, and secular worldviews to participate in one another’s practices in order to cultivate appreciative understanding, and build relationships and friendships. We seek to mobilize people of all faiths and no faith around common, moral, social, and ethical concerns in order to build the most just and equitable society for all people. Ultimately, we hope to create a safe space to engage our local and global community in dialogue, education, and service. I’m going to be your moderator today, and my pronouns are she, her, and hers.

Uh, for many of you, this may be the first time you’ve ever heard the word interfaith, which simply means dialogue and cooperation between people of varying religious, spiritual and secular traditions, or perhaps this is the first time you’ve ever heard sexual orientation and gender identity recognized as an intersectional, uh, religious or spiritual identity. We hope that conversations like this one help to normalize the reality that LGBTQIA2+ people are not at odds with religion and spirituality, but rather comprise an integral part of these communities. So each one of our panelists today will begin by describing their own journey with faith and spirituality as a member of these communities. Each panel will have approximately six minutes to respond to that prompt, and then we will open for an audience Q and a, and our student liaison, um, Brianna Alita will be monitoring your questions in the chat. So please feel free to put all of your questions there and they will be relayed to us. So without further ado, I’m going to introduce our first panelist Slats Toole’s pronouns are they, them, and theirs. Slats is a writer, musician, preacher, and theater director, and sound designer currently based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their poetry has been published in numerous journals, The Anthology, This Present Former Glory, and their own collection, Queering Lent. Their work seeks to communicate an honest, raw, and sacred approach to living a life of faith.

Thank you. And thank you for inviting me to be a part of this really incredible panel of folks. I am so delighted that this conversation is happening in such a vibrant way, um, and appreciate the opportunity to share a bit of my story with you. So for pretty much my entire life, um, I’ve known that I don’t fit inside the boxes that I was so often being put into. Uh, it’s, my story is not a story of knowing that I was transgender from a young age or presenting my gender in a way that was drastically different than what was expected of me. I think of my story is more about trying to find the language for how to express how I was feeling and who I was. So I was in fifth grade and I started to realize that I might like both boys and girls, but I actually didn’t have the language to describe what that was because I only had the word gay and the word straight and anything in between was not part of what I had experienced.

It wasn’t until a friend came out to me as bisexual in middle school, that I was like, “that’s a thing?” and I started to feel this freedom that I could identify in this way and didn’t have to choose a box, uh, for me. Um, it was also how I always struggled with my given name, which actually literally means girl and how I spent a lot of my adolescents in online spaces back in the early days of the internet, where the internet was not necessarily connected with who you are offline and you could exist kind of anonymously and I could exist without gender. It actually wasn’t until I was in graduate school. And I started to get the words, “gender-queer” and “non-binary” and started to realize that there was a space that I could exist and have conversations about gender that actually made sense to me in a way that they hadn’t before.

Now, the part of my story that is the most surprising for a lot of people is that the first place that I was able to experiment with using they, them pronouns for myself was actually a church camp. So I was raised by two church musicians in the Southern part of the United States, which means that I was raised kind of in and around the tradition that still dominates a lot of the national conversation in the U S about Christian values and about how being gay, which is usually the words that are being used is against the will of God. The church that I was raised in was mixed on the issue, but my parents and my pastors both affirmed that all of who I was is loved by God and that my identity is not a sin, but even with that really solid affirmation, coming to me from a very young age, I’ve had to deal with the ways that the church has hurt me, particularly in the years, where I had to spend so much time defending my rights to even be in the room and be a part of the conversation.

While my straight cisgender peers were able to spend their time and energy growing spiritually and developing their relationship with God. But even through all of that, there was something that kept drawing me to spirituality and religious practice specifically within Christianity, even though that is also been a center of so much pain for queer people and even for myself. So I started to study scripture and theology and church history more seriously as a person, I went to seminary, I got my master’s of divinity degree. And as I was doing that, I started noticing a resonance between my own experience of queerness and what I was finding in Christian tradition. So there is a whole lot of mystery and paradox in our tradition. Uh, Jesus is described as being fully human and fully God at the same time, or God is sometimes described as being one God in three different substances.

There’s a lot of language of paradox that doesn’t quite make sense. And it almost feels like the early church was searching for language to try to describe something that they didn’t know how to describe. I mean, how do you describe an infinite God, you have to put this language around it that’s going to be imperfect. And it actually felt like I felt when I was trying to find some language to frame my own identity. I’ve actually found that in some places of the church, people are more comfortable with this liminal space that I tend to exist in as a queer person, because that’s our image of who God is, or like our story of people being created in the image of God. And this image of God encompasses male and female, which must mean that our idea of God includes male and female and beyond gender.

And then we’ve got this story that this God that encompasses all gender is put into a human being in Jesus Christ. And that human being is assigned male at birth. So we’ve got a being that encompasses all gender going into a body that is assigned one gender, which is in and of itself a transgender experience, but more than anything I saw throughout scripture, a God that was not aligned with the people who were in power, but with those who were cast out, people who are not allowed in polite society, those who had to create their own families and their own communities as so many of us have had to do. And that throughout scripture, God was always pushing people towards this wider idea of who should be included. I would even say that God was seeking to queer society to turn the ups, the expected order upside down so that all of those who didn’t fit in boxes or whose box was rejected by the powers that be still had a place to be. The church camp, where I first experimented with my pronouns was a secret queer future pastors camp in, uh, it was at a time when it still wasn’t safe for a lot of us to be fully out in our denomination, our branch of Christianity.

And so those of us queer folks looking to become pastors met in secret to support each other. And I was able to experiment with my gender there in a way that I have rarely ever experienced in the secular world. And I think that we were able to create that kind of space in part, because that’s our tradition, it’s a tradition that’s comfortable with things that are outside of the norm. It is a tradition that reaches out to those who other folks may not understand. And so my hope is that in this larger conversation, we can begin to move past this idea that Christianity and queerness are incompatible, when I believe they’ve actually always gone hand in hand. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Slats. Our second panelist is Porter. Porter works full time as an in-house counsel for a software company. And while she wears many hats within Start the Wave, she primarily handles Start the Wave’s legal and corporate manners, including partnerships, incorporation, documentation, and overall risk management. Porter’s pronouns are she, her, and hers, and she realized her identity as a lesbian when she was a teenager, but unfortunately didn’t live an out and proud life until many years later. Even though Porter grew up in a Christian household, learning and practicing Lutheran teachings coming into her authentic self, prompted her to seek her other religious avenues and she now identifies as spiritual and searching. 

Hey guys, um, I want to start by saying again, thank you Geneva so much for, for organizing all of this and thank you so much for all of the other speakers. Um, coming out to tell you her stories I’m already impressed and so excited for all of the others. Um, yeah, I think these conversations are so necessary and a lot of them aren’t being had, and, and if we had them, we would all just find so many better ways to connect and deepen our understanding of one another. So, um, this, this work is so important. So again, thank you. Um, as Geneva said, I identify as a lesbian and, um, now, um, more spiritual. I consider myself to be more spiritual rather than religious. Um, I grew up in a very, very small town. Um, we had 1,235 people, uh, graduated with, I think just over 80 people.

You knew everything about everybody. You knew everybody’s middle name, everybody’s business, probably what they had for lunch, um, everything. And while it was great and everything was familiar. And, um, you know, I enjoyed all the opportunities I had getting to jump on the snowmobile, go snowboarding and, um, dirt biking, all of those little experiences. Um, the unfortunate thing was the grave lack of diversity. And open-mindedness in an area like that. Um, I also had the fortune of growing up just down the street from my grandparents and spent, you know, loads of time with them. They, they helped raise me, um, especially my, my grandmother, who I was very close to. Um, so she taught me so many things and she taught me, I mean, she taught me how to shoot a gun. She taught me how to grow veggies. She taught me how to ride a horse.

She, um, taught me how to, they raised chickens, which also led to me not eating chicken for a full year after I watched her butcher said chickens, another story. Um, but she was also a staunch Christian. And I mean that in the sense that I, there are a few times I did not see a Bible in her hand or right next to her. Um, she, she would anoint me with oils when I was injured. She would do communion, um, for us at, at, um, Christian holidays. She never swore, um, I think her go-to was, “Oh, sugar”. Um, and then beyond that she even owned a Christian lending library right in town, which was this adorable little library. She had an apartment up top where she would, um, lend this space to individuals that were in need and they didn’t even need to pay her, but she just provided that, um, for, for anybody. She would do prayer teachings at the jail, um, which was amazing to hear about and she would talk to me about those individuals. She would nurse animals back to health and, um, just kind of do, she was, she was, she was such a wonderful woman in so many ways, um, but she really taught me most of the Christian values that I came to now, um, outside of my parents. And so we would go to church every Sunday and on Christian holidays. Um, I prayed before I ate, I prayed before, um, going to bed and, um, really just lived, I mean, I lived a Lutheran lifestyle and I didn’t, I didn’t meet and many other people that weren’t Lutherans. Um, there were a few Catholics in town, but, uh, for the most part, it was just that, that religion that I came to know. Um, so I, I say all that to make clear that, just, religion was very ingrained in my life, um, from, from a very young age and I never thought twice about it.

I welcomed Jesus into my heart, when, at the time, I was so young, I literally pictured a little Jesus, like coming into the doors, right into my heart and where we were hanging out all the time, Jesus and I were. Um, but then as, as I got older and realized he’s not literally there, um, I still continued all of the other, all of the other, um, practices. I still went to church. I still prayed. And, um, around the age of 14 is when my life started to shift a bit, and I started to think of females in a different way, and I started to realize that I would think, “I wonder what it’s like to be more friends, more than friends with a female. I wonder what it’s like to kiss a female rather than a male”. Um, and, and then it immediately hit me based on all of the conversations I had heard around town from my grandparents, from, you know, everybody around me, um, homosexuality was not good.

You should not be a homosexual. It is against God’s will and God’s way. Um, and so then I started into my two year journey of attempting to pray the gay away. Um, I think in that first year, it was more about denial for me. I would pray the gay away every single night and my prayer was quite similar to my meditation and that I had steps that I would take, I would picture my prayer and it was a white room and I was climbing the steps to hit everything I needed to hit. And if I had forgotten to pray before I went to bed, I would wake up in a panic because I should’ve prayed, um, and if I didn’t thank enough, but I asked for too much, that would also send me into a bit of an anxiety ridden state, and then I would have to go back and thank, thank more.

Um, and so it wasn’t really a saving grace for me, but rather, um, rather just adding to my fears and my anxieties. So I prayed the gay away for, for that first year. And then, um, upon turning 15, I ended up becoming friends with some, some different people that I felt understood me a little bit better. Um, and then around 16 was able to come out to one of these friends and she was actually struggling with the same thing, which was great, but rather than she and I dealing with this in a healthy manner, um, because I was already in a depressive state, um, hiding myself and feeling like I didn’t belong and dealing with high school all the same and trying to get straight A’s and trying to play sports year round, um, and just hiding this part of me and dating, um, just everything, that we decided the best way to deal with this is to just get high and drink all the time.

Like why not? Because when we are high and when we’re drunk, we can be ourselves and we’re with each other and we can just numb that pain. Um, then it got to the point where we just, there, there was too much of that numbing and, um, I overstepped and ended up getting arrested. Um, and it kind of reached that breaking point and, and got arrested specifically for, uh, um, smoking weed where I will not just where I wasn’t supposed to it’s illegal in general, but, but got caught because of, of where I was, um, got arrested and got suspended from school. And, um, it was quite shocking, I think for most, um, my, my dad picked me up and I got home and, um, we didn’t really talk about it. Like we, he, uh, it just wasn’t really approached in a, in a super open manner and that could have been cause he was just kind of giving me space. Also, we just never dove too deep on the emotional side. Um, and so I got home and I, I put my phone on the counter and, and, and then the next day woke up and started shoveling and shoveling the walk and like cleaning the house, doing all the things. But what terrified me most, like wasn’t the suspension, it wasn’t the arrest. It was, I’m going to have to come out. Like I’m going to have to, I’m going to have to deal with this now and praying the gay away now for two years, hasn’t helped me. It’s not gone anywhere. Um, so after a few days I had told my mom, “I need to talk, I need to talk about this a little bit”. Um, and we went into my room and she, she, um, asked me “what’s wrong, like what happened?” And, and I made her guess because I couldn’t say it out loud still at that point.

Um, and I remember just the build of like, you know, you’re just, you’re beat red, your heart’s now in your throat, and, uh, she guessed a ton of things and then she finally just goes, “do you think you’re gay?” And, and really just like that basically. Um, and I think the way it was said almost hurt harder because it felt so dismissive. Um, and then she, she kind of told me like, “this is just a phase. You don’t have to worry about it. Everything will be okay.” Clearly it wasn’t a phase, um, and two years later I was going off to, to college and I was so excited. So I’m like, this is it. I’m going to find my tribe. Like I’m going to live this out and proud lifestyle. I need to get some rainbow stuff. Like we’re ready to go. Um, went to college and the same anxieties creeped up, and then I went to, to find, um, other churches I could finally break out and find other churches with, maybe youth groups or, or, you know, um, young adult groups that, that I could relate to. And so I specifically looked for churches with, with the rainbow flag outside of them, and I was so pumped and, um, still appreciate that. And I would go, go to church, um, and I would meet other individuals, but unfortunately a lot of them were either much younger than me, um, or, um, couldn’t relate in a lot of other ways. And so while we had our religion and we had our, our being part of the community, um, in common, I still couldn’t seem to find that, that tribe. Um, and so I just kind of continued on, and then, um, actually my first winter in college, uh, was my first bout of seasonal depression, so that was fun to deal with. And in Minnesota seasonal depression lasts from like October to June. So, um, started dealing with that. And then I went home, um, that year and got into a conversation with my grandmother and, um, she kept saying very terrible things about the community and again, felt that rise in my heart all the way to my throat and ended up blurting out to her that I was gay. Um, she told me she was going to grab her oils and anoint me and I, when she left the room, I left the house. I couldn’t, I couldn’t face it. I couldn’t do it. I was crying and I was going back to college the next day. After that, I found out she had called the rest of the family, um, which is composed of a lot of individuals, like over 30 people on that side, um, including the cousins and whatnot. She had called them all to start a prayer circle for me. Um, and then I had come out to my, my friends, so the whole town knew. So at that point in my life, I had also just lost most of my family, I’ve lost my friends, not all of them. Some, some people were very supportive and my immediate family was very supportive, but had lost everybody else. Um, so then I went back to school and took, I had taken a world religions course, which was quite pivotal because I learned about so many other open religions and ways that, um, people can celebrate their spirituality and religion. And, um, I apologize. I think I’m probably going over my allotted time. So I’ll try to, I’ll try to pick this up. Um, so, um, after that I had kind of actually gone into an atheist stage and I decided, you know, what, I, I’m not going to believe in anything that isn’t scientifically proven and atheism is, is something I can just say, I can look at everything and I can explain it scientifically and that’s it.

Um, but then later in life, I realized I needed something more and that there had to be something more. I feel something more, I feel something more when I look at the moon and I look at the stars and I’m sitting at the beach, I can feel that pull in those energies and those vibrations. Um, and then I just started in, on, on the spirituality journey that I’ve been on, where I’ve been able to connect from a universal standpoint with the earth and with how we are all connected to the earth and how we can all support one another and how we need to stop imposing our will on the earth and instead appreciate her and instead celebrate her and celebrate one another. Um, and so I think at this point in my life, I don’t know that it matters what, what your religion is, but just how you, how you, how you celebrate it. And, and if it brings kindness and if it brings joy, then celebrate that and spread it around. And, um, I’m excited to just continue my spirituality journey, but I’m happy that I found it, and I do believe in something just more than myself at this point. Um, I’ll stop there. Sorry for running over.

No, thank you so much Porter and thank you for being so vulnerable with us and with the audience that, I can tell from the chat that, that was very impactful to a lot of people and they appreciated it. So thank you. Um, so our third panelist is, uh, Dr. Joshua Paszkiewicz. The most venerable Sunyananda. He is a priest, psychotherapist, martial artist, culinarian, and a pathological epistemopheliac. Josh is a Zen Buddhist lineage holder in the Japanese Korean and Vietnamese Buddhist traditions, but also holds graduate, graduate academic and ecclesiastical training in a host of religious traditions. He currently serves as the executive director of the greater Kansas city interfaith council, and maintains a private practice of spiritually integrative psychotherapy. He may or may not remain involved in religion, chiefly for the Brocade fabrics and extravagant hats, and very disappointed he’s not wearing an extravagant hat today, but Josh, hand it to you.

Thanks Geneva. And as I did mention, before we got formally started here, I did consider the hat, but the limitations of my zoom reality, uh, didn’t allow it. So I apologize for the lack of, you know, Brocade that’s present. So I want to say that I really appreciate the format of this panel. Um, you know, I’ve participated in a few this week and I think it’s a fairly difficult task to talk about the intersection of LGBTQIA et cetera, and spirituality with any sense of authority for a host of reasons and not the least of which is because, both spirituality and the queer experience are defined simply by what they are not. So we’re perpetually cast as other, as queer people. And as people experiencing spiritual longings and religious practices, uh, we’re cast as not secular, which is something that’s a divide present in our society too.

So within that infinitely wide array of experience, the only point of authority that I can find to speak from is that of my own experience and I think it’s a wonderful thing that we’re doing that, that we’re giving sort of live case studies, to draw from the psychotherapy vernacular, about how we as individuals with unique capacities to process science, and religion, and metaphor, and metaphysical realities are coming together and tackling these things in a real way. And while I’ve identified with several points of each of the panelists that have been here already, there’s also points that I diverge from, and I think that’s a really special thing to highlight for each of us.

So I remember being a young closeted boy having two career aspirations. Namely, I wanted to run a martial arts studio, and, or, and I wanted to be the Pope. So coming from an exceptionally devout Roman Catholic family, I grew up with a holographic portrait of Pope John Paul the second tape to the backside of my bedroom door. So if you’re over here, he was waving this way. And if you’re over here, he was waving this way, and that was just my incessant daily reminder of where I was going on the career ladder. Um, but that was not long lived. So my parents got divorced when I was five or six. I don’t remember exactly. And we pretty much were out of the Roman Catholic church and hierarchy immediately. Uh, neither one of my parents felt the need to reconcile to the church. They didn’t feel the need to seek an anullment or anything like this, and, uh, subsequently my father came out of the closet as a gay man. So we were left to drift in sort of this world of attending mass frequently and, uh, you know, visiting my grandmother’s house, she had rosaries on every bedpost and a crucifix in every corner. You know, that experience was suddenly gone, but I will say that that early experience of ritual chanting, and gestures, and incense, and bells, and yes, the Brocade dresses and jewel and Palm Palm flight, the eclesiastical head dress left a permanent mark on my psyche, but how do I arrive in this context? It’s interesting that my mom was pretty much devastated by that divorce as sometimes happens, and she was all of a sudden questioning the things that spirituality seeks to address, these big concerns of meaning. Why are we here? Where do we come from? Where are we going? And so that sort of underpinned my, my, you know, earliest schooling memories. So that lasted from, like I said, the age of five or six to about fourth grade and my dad still took us to church as kind of Christmas and Easter, like he felt there was an important aspect to, uh, spirituality, to remain in touch with, but not to be super serious about.

He was struggling with his own queer identity and place in the world of spirituality. Uh, and this was at a time when, you know, this was just completely unacceptable to talk about, you know, I remember, uh, he had a roommate that I later found out was a long-term romantic partner who had a big place in my life. Um, but when we would go out in public and even, especially to church, you know, we had to sit separately, we didn’t sit in the same Pew or in the same row, and you staggered going into restaurants, cause you didn’t want anybody to question what was going on. It was physically not safe in our part of the world. So I remember around fourth grade, uh, we had a knock at the door, my maternal great grandmother who was kind of the matriarch of our family died. And, uh, everybody was kind of mourning that, but again, not being in this Catholic religious milieu that we were all sort of raised and formed within, we didn’t have a lot of resources to lean on. And so on the other side of that, knock at the door were a pair of Jehovah’s witnesses. And so all of, I will say now, the karmic conditions aligned perfectly for my mom to invite them in. And so very shortly thereafter, we were attending church, or meetings as the Jehovah’s witnesses say, upwards of five times a week at the local kingdom hall. And I say, local, we had to drive like 45 minutes to get to the kingdom hall. We lived in very, very rural South Missouri.

That was an interesting experience. Um, you know, I don’t remember the exact age when sort of sexuality became a concern of mine, but it was something, even not knowing the details of my dad’s life, cause that was kept from us for a time too. Um, it was just kind of unquestioned that I enjoyed male company, I guess, I enjoyed being around men in a way that not everybody else did at that age, but you know, it was something that I was cognizant of, but didn’t have a vernacular to describe. It was nothing that I had to rally against or struggle with because we didn’t talk about this sort of thing. Um, fast forward being in the Jehovah’s witness congregation, this is all we talked about for some reason at that point. There was at least one sermon a week speaking about the depravity of humanity expressed in the homosexual, queer culture and agenda that has taken over popular media, et cetera. So, um, that was interesting for me, because, on one half I was deeply, deeply attracted to religious praxis and, and all things that were involved in that. Those big questions were meaningful for me still, um, but on the other side, the answers I was being given were questionable. And I think if it weren’t for that early understanding of my sexual orientation, if I could have called it that, being slightly different, I would have adopted that fully and probably been in a very different place in time right now. 

So I had this struggle as many of us do that says, “Hey, this whole religious tradition, seemingly, is standing in opposition to something that’s fundamental about myself.” And yet I, myself truly divided in two camps, not knowing exactly where to turn because both of those interests as I developed into an adolescent, those big questions and obviously these romantic concerns as a teenager, uh, were, were significant in my life. And so I grew up, uh, continued in that process until my dad had had enough and I think he had enough when my little brother came and gave him a lecture about why homosexual people were not going to live forever with their families as everybody else was and paradise restored on earth. And so he immediately looks up a local church, which was the only open and affirming LGBT inclusive congregation in our city at that time, and begins taking, us as an agnostic himself by that point, to church. And I’ll never forget him saying, “what your mom is doing? That cannot be your only experience of Christianity.” And I’m forever appreciative of that because I really didn’t know there was another way to approach scripture and Holy writ. That Jehovah’s witnesses had a really good, wrapped up, pretty, even way to deal with that and present it as authoritative. So all of a sudden I’m sitting in a congregation with transgender people, and with LGBTQ families, and straight people, and young people, and old people, and that was really important. And still, by the time I was an adult, I’d had enough of the conflicting Christian message and ethos and left it entirely. Um, so I had discovered Buddhism by way of martial arts as a young kid. Uh, and that was an interest that I secretly kept up throughout all of my upbringing. Um, I had a Buddhist teacher in Kansas city, when I would visit my dad on the weekend, that would give me this literature and books and I would take it home hidden in my weekend bag and hide it under my, uh, bed, you know, so I could read it and it wouldn’t be discovered.

And there was a big incident of my mom finding it, raiding my room one day at school. And you know, that was a problem, but it was a colorful upbringing. So long story short, I find myself hopping around Buddhist monasteries, um, throughout the world and being trained as a Buddhist cleric and eventually leading some congregations. And while it was a respite in the sense that Buddhism didn’t have as much to say, or to be concerned about sexual orientation as an ontological sin or, or a reality that damns you to, to some punishment forever in its worst forms, even it also wasn’t deeply affirming of that aspect. So it’s kind of ambivalent, right? And in fact, training in Asia rather than the Western, you know, sort of commodified version of, of Buddhism, uh, there are some things that come up in a cultural background that, that questioned the reality of, of where do we fit within the Buddhist, uh, ecclesiastical structure as people who are maybe not clearly male or female, or mix that up on the other run by who we’re romantically involved with or interested in.

And then of course, uh, sexuality itself is repressed in the tradition that I still walk within. So, you know, there are, there are not clear, easy lines to draw that this is better than that. And that experience has re-introduced me, and I went back to seminary and got a Christian seminary degree, to having a new appreciation for how things can be. And so sexual orientation as an experience has given me sort of, um, epistemological and, uh, interpretive framework to wrestle with the big questions that all religions still have. And I think in a fairly unique way, because I’m able to question things from a fundamental level based on experience that might’ve been forbidden or inaccessible to me, if not for this LGBTQ identity that says, “Oh, there are things that are not talked about, that are unseen, but are nonetheless powerful realities.” And, you know, I’m really grateful for that.

And I still wrestle every day with what that means. I work within the Vietnamese cultural community, which is, that’s sort of a taboo theme there within Vietnamese culture, but also within the specific Buddhist context that I’m in, it can be difficult. So I don’t have this all figured out. I don’t know that any of us do, but, uh, it’s a process that yields unique potentials. And I think that’s what I’m excited to learn more about as we have this conversation and hear more about, and continue plumbing in my own life. So thanks for the time.

Thank you so much. Our fourth panelist is Tahil Sharma. Pronouns: he, his, and him. Sorry. Tahil the regional coordinator for North America for the United religions initiative. He was born in Southern California to a Hindu father and a Sikh mother. He believes that interfaith cooperation is impossible without embracing one’s full identity in such spaces, including his own bisexual identity.

Thank you so much Geneva. And thanks to all of the previous, um, panelists for actually giving me a sense of confidence as I actually am addressing this intersectional identity. I am on my own for the first time in such a big space. So I think I have a lot of gratefulness and nervousness for that. Um, and I want to start off by saying that I was definitely born at the center of many intersections. I was born as a Hindu and a Sikh, I was born as an Indian American and probably as a later discovery, I was born being bisexual. And that came with a lot of confusion. I will not lie to anyone on this call about that, because it was a lot of concern overlapped with curiosity and skepticism that made me think about, is it possible for me to be all of these things. I actually learned over time that it was possible.

And it actually happened because of the activism work that I do in the interfaith movement. Um, when I was told at a younger age that it was impossible for me to adhere to two different traditions in the same household, when I knew that was a reality that I embraced, I knew that there was something wrong with someone’s understanding of that. When people live within this constant idea that there are singular journeys and single ways of living and understanding the world, they don’t actually understand the expanse at which the human experience works. And for me, it was actually challenging that status quo and saying “as much as I need to open my eyes to this larger reality, so do many others.” And it starts with actually kicking down these walls that say they need to be built up and things are the way that they are. So it actually started off with me acknowledging that I came from a dual religious household and that I adhere to my Hindu and Sikh realities as much as I do anything else.

I struggled for quite some time when that came to the balance of my religiosity and spirituality with my bisexual identity. Something that I was concerned about, not because my family actually wasn’t accepting, because they’ve been very accepting of many others since I could remember. They taught me the ideas of acceptance, and compassion, and love. And I just was never comfortable of being able to embrace that with them until, actually, July of this year. And it meant a lot for me to understand that it’s not just about the approach to how people and institutions have created this idea that you are not accepted with your religious identity while being something else that might seem “not accurate” or “not connected” whatsoever. The fact of the matter is, is religiosity and the institution of religion are newer constructs in comparison to LGBTQ identity. And that’s just a fact of the human experience.

What we have to keep reminding people is that our ability to love others, our ability to accept our entire selves is the highest priority, and that institutions will never dictate that for you. And that took me a lot of, that gave me a lot, a lot to think about when I was trying to see how my identities would react to me and my bisexual identity. When I look towards Hinduism, a religion that’s seen as being over 5,000 years old, the fact of the matter is, being LGBTQ was equally a part of the Hindu experience more than I had ever been taught at home, because I lived in a cis heteronormative reality that was filled with patriarchy. And I was told that it was not okay to be homosexual. It was not okay to be anything but straight. When in reality, we have gods and goddesses that are dedicated to the LGBTQ community as patron deities. Why was I never taught this when I was growing up with my Hinduism. And in Sikhism, that actually does not address scripturally anything about spirituality. There’s an important line that I’ve gotten from a Muslim Saint, who is a contributor to the GRU grand sub, the six scriptures that says [inaudible] not to coach [inaudible] coach combated, that we, as, as vessels of the divine spirit are like clay. And that God is the Potter. There is nothing wrong with the clay and there’s nothing wrong with the Potter.

And there’s so much value to understanding that we’re all shaped as these unique vessels. If I was taught at an earlier age, that I’m this unique vessel that can hold a divine spirit, like God, that is unnameable, that is unimaginable, that is infinite. And that I could still be the whole person that I am entering any space that I want to, I would have not struggled the way that I did. Millions of us wouldn’t have, anyone on this call wouldn’t have. But the fact of the matter is, is it took me, through these struggles, through this understanding, through challenging the status quo. And this is an invitation to everyone that’s on this call. You are equally a part of the, the deconstruction and the reformation of what religion and spirituality looks like now. However you adhere to being religious, spiritual, or secular, you are a part of a growing movement that says religion and spirituality have never been the same since the beginning, and you’re a part of it.


We will never learn to know what it means to actually be our full selves. And I continue to ask this with full skepticism towards my religions. When I look at systems like the caste system that comes from Hinduism, I know to challenge it at the very core of how it exists, because it is an oppressive system. That oppression exists in volumes, when you adhere to other identities, that also have been a part of an oppressive legacy, that understand oppression more in depth. So if you’re an LGBTQ person and you’re a part of the caste system, you’re definitely more screwed in comparison to others. And when I look at it through the Sikh lens, a lens that’s always taught me that I must serve everyone like I serve the divine, yet there’s still heteronormative practices that allow men to still take rule and to dictate the way that things function, that I must go out of my way to make sure that women, and others, and trans people, and others who are not usually represented, take the helm of leadership like others should. At the end of the day, this is a part of our work. I have to understand that in-depth knowing that not everyone is going to agree with me. People from my own tradition are probably going to look at this call and keel over because I’m saying these things. My parents had a struggle, being as accepting as they are, to hear that I was bisexual earlier this year. I know that because this is something happening to their own. And there are three uncomfortable things that Indian parents don’t like to talk about, sexuality, mental health, and if you’ve eaten before you’ve left the house or not. Those are three very central things, um, and it continues to be a struggle.

There’s no easy way around this because they don’t see this as normal. But the fact of, the fact of the matter is, is we are a part of a normal, we are a part of a greater good, and we’re a part of something powerful that no one can change except ourselves. So I have this invitation to all of us to keep remembering that we have, there’s a struggle internally and externally to how these intersection, intersecting identities work, but we have to make sense of it to ourselves first and embrace it because that’ll be a part of the change that we’re seeking in the world. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Tahil. So our final panelist, uh, needs no introduction. Uh, Dominique is the founder of start the wave and inclusive non-profit organization focused on empowering and supporting grassroots initiatives worldwide. She’s also an artist best known for her role in SciFest TV show, Wynonna Earp, where she plays a bisexual young woman coming into her sexuality and power. Despite having grown up in an atheist household, Dominique now identifies as spiritual and open-minded having found great relief, strength, and clarity, in surrendering to a higher power. She feels that her spiritual awakening has been a great balm in her journey of self-acceptance leading her to come out as her queer authentic self earlier this year.

Thank you, Geneva. My goodness. What inspiring human beings. This has been absolutely magic hearing everybody’s stories. So thank you for sharing. Um, for me, I was brought up in an atheist household. We didn’t have any faith. There was not really much talk of faith at all in my childhood. And I just thought that was, you know, I didn’t really have many feelings around it until, um, uh, later on in, um, as I started to get older as, as a highly sensitive individual, um, I found that the more I learn about the injustices in the world and the pain and suffering, the more it like weighed down on me, like really heavily. And I found that not having any faith, um, yeah, how it showed up in me, I suppose, was just like this sense of this weight, this weight. Is there any way that I can, can describe it of like knowing that I wanted to good in the world, but not knowing how, because it just felt like there was so many problems and so many issues, and I didn’t really know where to put my focus.

Um, and so this led to my mental health being, um, really suffering and it got to the point where, uh, I felt very unwell and I needed to find something to try and help my mentality and the way that I saw the world and to try and find the beauty in the world, because it just all seems so dark. Um, and so I, you know, on my journey, I met, um, a beautiful woman. In fact, I was really drawn to her energy. I’m somebody who’s always felt energy and experienced. Um, I felt like I’ve experienced energy if that makes any, any sense. And so I was drawn to this woman, uh, who informed me that they’d just come from a 10 day Vipassana meditation course. And she said, it’s funny that you were drawn to me right now. I could just come back from Vipassana and I didn’t know anything about that, but, um, after having a very brief conversation, I was really interested in, in meditation and diving into meditation.

And so it took me a year to actually have the courage to sign up to 10 days of silence and being alone with my own, my own thoughts and my own mind. But, um, it got to a point where I just knew that I had to do something and this just felt like it had organically come on my path and that it might be an avenue to explore. So, uh, I was heading off to go traveling and I decided to go out of my way to a little place in Cambodia and do a 10 day Vipassana retreat in Cambodia. And what happened in that retreat is it’s very, very hard to put into words, but it felt like my entire being was cracked open and a light to down and throughout my entire vessel. And really that was, um, the beginning of my spiritual awakening.

And it was almost like the way I describe it is that it was as if I was handed a key to my own happiness in, in that meditation retreat. And, but I had to take it and I had to go and open the door. So it was like being gifted a taste at maybe something else, um, a different way of thinking and a different way of being that that was, um, incredibly addictive. I was like, Oh, I want some more of that. That feels, that feels really good. And that feels like that lightness. Um, and the weight started to lift the clouds started to part in my, in my brain and I just started to see things a lot more clearly. And so what has happened since then over the past three years, that was in 2017 has been just, um, an unfolding, I suppose, all of, uh, you know, really seeing and experiencing the interconnectedness of all things, um, and surrendering, surrendering, and letting go and releasing the ego and control.

And, and so as I have been really diving into these practices of meditation and various different forms of meditation since then to try and find my own path with it, my own path of spirituality and how I connect to the divine, um, through various different practices, it has given me a sense of faith, right? Faith for the future, faith and hope, um, which has been, you know, absolutely saving grace. Like I, I it’s, it has helped me come out of, uh, you know, very, in a very negative head space and, and really was a big part of the reason that Start the Wave was, was born because I had, I suddenly had hope again. I was like, okay, there’s what can I do? This is something that I can do. And, uh, you know, Start the Wave, very much being founded on, um, embracing evolution and the law of impermanence and just like being open-minded to all things.

And the infinite, as we talk about like just the, we may put you use different words and different ways to explain it, but really like just the infinite nature of this human experience that we all have. And when I started living that and realizing that actually I was just a spiritual being, having a human experience then, um, yeah, it released a lot of things in me. Um, now where my sexuality intersects with this story, we’re getting that is that, um, I, I knew that I was queer, since I was nine years old. Um, I had some experiences that, um, I definitely confirmed to me that I very much liked, uh, uh, both male and female, um, and now all gender inclusive. Um, it, and I, and I had experiences with, with, with, um, a girl. And, but then, um, after that, I had some pretty negative experiences that shut me down.

So some, uh, moments with, uh, friends and, and, uh, that, that pro- sort of taught me that it was wrong, that it was wrong, that this is not something that we should be doing or exploring. And my, um, I had, I put a lot of importance on fitting in, and I guess the way that, uh, when I was reflecting on how my sort of atheist upbringing intersects with this, um, I was really taught that like I could be whoever I wanted to be. And so I think that extended really to my sexuality in a way that I saw my sexuality, I was like, I can control whoever I want to be really all I have going on is me and my, my surroundings. Like I didn’t have any sort of, I found difficulty in or an inability to zoom out like that, that wasn’t taught to me.

So it was very much like the focus on me, my experiences around me and those that are closely affected by that. So I was just trying to fit into whatever everybody else was, maybe teaching me to be able to, or, um, reflecting that I, that I should be. Um, and so I just decided to suppress that side of myself and focus on, you know, the fact that I was attracted to men and, and that, that was the easier route to go. Um, but since my spiritual awakening, I think what the journey that I’ve been on is really coming home to the fact that actually as Tahil said. Like it, I’ve been getting to know who I am now on a soul level. Like I’m, I’m realizing that instead of being controlling and being some, whoever I want to be, actually my journey through spirituality is, is, is coming home to an adult learning who I am at a soul level, and that I have been put on this Earth, as I am. And that much of my journey is to, into, you know, to, um, find and to love all those unintegrated parts of myself, um, and celebrate them and free myself from, from that suppression. Um, and realize that, you know, have faith, I suppose, that I am exactly as I’m supposed to be. Um, yeah, I think that’s, that’s about it.

Thank you so much. Thank you to all of the panelists for sharing your stories and for being so vulnerable with everyone. I know it’s, it’s very meaningful to me and I’m sure to our audience as well. Um, so Brianna has been, um, monitoring the chat for questions, and I think, uh, maybe we’ll open with, uh, a group question. There were two that really stood out, um, and they may not apply. They may not both apply to every panelist. So perhaps if you want to just pick the one that speaks the most to you. Um, so the first question is if your family’s values and faith did not connect with your own, how did you navigate coming to terms with that difference of opinion? And do you have any advice for people who are going through the same? And then the second question, if this may be more applies to you, is how do you mentally with the idea that there are liminal spaces for gender and section gender and sexuality present and reconcile that with maybe gender specific religious ritual practices such as the bat mitzvah. So I’m going to, who would like to start to you or, okay.

Yeah. Sorry. I don’t know. The unmute button was just not co-operative, um, both really important questions. Um, in terms of the first one about my family’s values and faith. Um, I know for a fact that much of my family was coming from a conservative interpretation of Hinduism that, you know, in its own ways was actually espousing, um, misogyny and chauvinism as a ploy to just say, well, men are better because God made us better. And me being the act, the person that actually was like, Nope, that’s not how that works. I’m actually, uh, I actually adhered to what is known as shaktism, which is this idea that the feminine divine is what really, it exists as energy in all things. And that means, you know, when there are ways that you don’t know how to find a, um, an agreement or a consensus with your family about their values and traditions, this is where you have to create your own space.

You’re not there to concede that you have to agree with your humanity and your identity and become a part of a mold because your values and your existence are not to be compromised. It’s about making sure that in the previous point that I made about being a part of this change of religion and spirituality, that you begin to etch your own and create your own traditions that are a continuations of those from the past, um, for the sake of conversation around gender and sexuality, as a point, um, Hindus and Sikhs don’t, you have this idea that, you know, two men and two women can get married as a part of the tradition, but there are now Hindu priests and priestesses who are actually hosting same-sex marriages. That is a direct challenge to tradition, quote unquote. And it’s actually an extension of tradition. That is the point, what is not made for you. You make for yourself, don’t let anyone think you can’t because that is exactly how these traditions work. They’re an extension of ourselves and our legacies, which are about rebellion, which are about accepting our whole selves. And which is most importantly about connecting with the divine. And no one is exempt from being connected to the divine. And that’s the point we’re trying to make

Thank you Tahil does someone else want to jump in. I’d love to follow up just on that, because I have just a little bit of a comment that relates very much to what you were saying. You know what I think it’s important

As we grapple with these questions to do some formal education or inquiry into religion as well. Um, you know, there’s, I joke sometimes about Buddhism. For instance, we say, Oh, Christianity is schismatic. And so splintered in Western culture. Well, we’ve had 500 more years to do that. And Hinduism has had, you know, several hundred years, a thousand years more than that. So, uh, when we think of something as being Orthodox, it’s important to remember that orthodoxy is an agreed upon reality over a period of time. And so much of what we consider Orthodox in many religious traditions, including the Buddhist tradition is really in fact, heterodox. When you look at it through the lens of a, of a classical, uh, historical examination of reality. So these are ideas that people have that often diverge from the charismatic founders of a religious school of thought, and they embody it in a particular way.

And that’s fine. And I think we can utilize that same sort of authority as, as religious practitioners and especially as religious leaders today to make changes where they’re required based on our understanding of reality and scientific observation of, of, you know, biology and physiology, that’s all well and good, but we should also be careful. You know, for instance, I was made a patriarch in our tradition in 2015 and promptly changed the title to ancestor. It’s a better translation and it’s inclusive because one of the changes that I was able to make was to stop dividing men and women, you know, historically in our tradition, women have to sit junior to men forever, no matter if it’s the most junior male, the females, the nuns always said junior to the men, no matter if they’re the oldest most senior in the world, I just stopped doing it, but it wasn’t just a flippant change. And I think that’s important. Religion has some staying power, and if we want our changes to be meaningful, we need to be in conversation with the orthodoxy, with heterodoxy and with the history that’s actually present within our tradition so that we can make it in accord with the foundational principles of a tradition that allow it to stay and be meaningful into the future,

Uh, Dom and Porter do you guys want to jump in? I was, I was going to say, let’s go out for a sec. I can jump in real quick. Um, so I think, and this is something that I do very frequently. I have very, um, frequent conversations with friends and, and family about religion and values that differ, um, especially with my own immediate family. Um, and I think one thing that we need to remember is that a person and you, you can hear it expressed here by all of us, a person’s religious or spiritual identity is extremely meaningful to them. So when you approach those conversations, um, I think it needs to be coming from a place of loving and, and kindness and openness and no judgment because those conversations are so delicate. Um, and I think that a lot of presumptions are made a lot of, uh, or assumptions.

I apologize. Um, and I think that a lot of people go into those conversations thinking about what they’re going to say, but they’re not thinking about listening and hearing for points of connection with that other person. Um, so for instance, when, when I speak with my, my mom, who, who, uh, converted to the call Catholicism actually, um, just a few years ago, um, she, she speaks to me about her prayer and I speak to her about my meditation, and we try to find how those two things make us feel and how, how they, they aren’t that far off. Um, and, and I think that I accept what she says so openly, and I’m so happy for her that she has found a faith that she believes in, and that brings her so much joy that I love that it brings me so much joy to know that.

And I think that she’s gotten she’s, she’s been more accepting with me knowing that I may not believe in that religion specifically, but I do believe that we are all celebrating the same thing and that we are all doing it differently. And we should celebrate that. Um, I created recently with one of our rooms, we call it the Zen den, but it’s, um, it’s basically just a good space for prayer and meditation. And, um, in going through that, I actually thought of all the people in my life and ended up getting their books, their religious texts that, that they, um, like to read and like to go through. And I do intend to read all of them, but also just so that they’re there so that when they’re staying or if they’re even just popping by for dinner, but they have a prayer that they’re supposed to do. They can pop up to the Zen den and celebrate them. Like it should be so open and inclusive. And I think maybe just enter those, those conversations from, from an open space.

Um, this is speaking a little bit more towards the second question about, um, holding space for, uh, liminality in the midst of hyper gendered traditions. Um, in, in Christian practice, we have something called confession. And I say that knowing that there, uh, there are a lot of people with Catholic backgrounds on this, on this particular call, um, in, in how it’s practiced in my denomination. Uh, it is a corporate confession that we it’s a prayer that we say together every week when we gather for worship. Um, and the point of that time is not actually to make you feel terrible about yourself, which is how it’s often portrayed and how it often is done. And, uh, in a lot of traditions, but actually to acknowledge that we don’t always get things right. And when we are honest about how we don’t get things right, and we are able to bring that up before God, then we are more likely to be able to change our behavior and do it better.

And I think that, you know, for all of us, there are things that we, that we are, that we get, right. And other things that we get wrong. And in the traditions, there are practices that come up because the culture at the time thought this, and now we’re learning something else. And so we can look at those traditions and confess, wow, something was missed here, and now we’re going to revise in the spirit of that tradition. So I know, I know I’m B’nai mitzvah, which is a gender neutral term. Um, I have started to happen. Um, I’ve been, we have few hyper gendered rituals in Christianity, but we have a lot kind of culturally in Christianity. So you’ll find a lot of churches that have men’s groups and women’s groups, and that’s their adult social programming. Um, and so trying to examine those traditions that really come from how we have played out our tradition in specific cultures and realizing that it’s okay to adjust those based on, based on what we know now, and actually get back to a more, a more authentic practice.

Thank you all for your responses. Um, so now I’m gonna give each of you an individual question, uh, that was put into the chat. So, um, the first question will be for Slats. I’ll just go in the order that you guys spoke. Um, did you ever think about leaving church and the religion behind, after being unaccepted in the beginning?

This is a great question. Um, yes and no. So I, I struggled a lot, particularly in middle school and high school when I was in the midst of a lot of the, um, anti queer messaging, um, lit still living in the South and still being around this all the time, starting to be involved in conversations in my particular denomination about what does it look like if we allow gay people to get married or ordained, or, you know, serve in these leadership roles? Um, which weighed a lot on me. And I think it was a combination of that as well as just growing up, getting older, having been raised with the tradition and being at the age where it was healthy for me to question that, that I actually considered myself agnostic for the majority of high school. Um, no, because my parents both worked in the church.

I was at church all the time. I was constantly participating in things. There was really no other option. So, um, in that time I kind of developed two two selves. So one that said, you know, I’m agnostic because you can’t prove or disprove the existence of God. And this is what makes sense. And then the other part of me that said, well, if I believed in God, here are the things that I would believe about God. And, uh, at the end of that at the end of that time, which is when a pastor was, um, who had been really influential for me was actually leaving our church and going, going to a new position. And she’d been really keeping that faith part of me alive, that I realized that I was going to have to make a choice. And I realized that I was actually happier when I was putting faith in something than when I was not.

I also had several experiences, um, that had nothing to do with emotions, but just practicality. Like when I started undergrad, I was in theater school and theater school was notoriously busy and I was not going to church cause I had no time to go to church. And I, I missed that and I felt, I felt this ache. So I knew that if I were to leave, it would be enormously difficult. Um, and now I say that I stay because I’m actually, I need that specific kind of practice. I need that practice in community. I am a worship nerd. I love liturgy. I love hymns. I love gathering together and singing. I’m, I’m struggling now a bit because of the pandemic. I haven’t been to church in person since March. Um, and that is what I need because I’m, I’m not actually able for myself to do that on my own.

Um, I do, I am kind of constantly in the process of figuring out how I interact with the church as a person, particularly in leadership. So I’ve gone to seminary. I worked, uh, leading a church for three years. I am still not ordained. Um, and that is largely because I am, I, I am not sure if I have the energy all the time to be ordained in a church that is primarily straight and cisgender and have to do that kind of, that kind of work of educating everyone. Um, particularly at like my own job with I got ordained, it would be my job. And that just seems exhausting. So at this point I kind of stay a little bit outside. I write, I resource, I talk, um, uh, but I’m kind of constantly examining what my relationship should be. And I also think it’s important to say that that my experience is my experience and that is not going to be true of, of everyone, um, who is raised queer and Christian, um, that the, the experiences of that are going to be unique to every person and how every person finds healing from that experience is going to look different.

I believe that there are churches out there. Um, I know that there are churches out there cause I’ve worked with them and I’ve been to them and I’ve celebrated with them who will unabashedly welcome in queer people and do what they can to heal that hurt. And also that might not be the path for everyone.

Thank you so much. So the next question will be for Porter. Uh, do you think one day that churches and the LGBTQIA2S+ plus community will find a balance to understand each other without judgement,

Um, Oh, I mean, that’s a, that’s a good one, I guess. Uh, it would be hard for me to know or, or say, I think we’re moving the ball forward. Um, I think that we’re getting closer and I think, um, or rather I hope that in more and more areas and more and more religions, more and more churches, um, more folks that are part of the community do feel acceptance and, and do feel that they can, um, be their true selves and, and still be part of that religious community, um, in, in really a more wholesome manner, um, and not have to hide who they are. Um, I do think we’re getting closer though. I mean, even with the Pope coming out and saying, you know, we need to love people regardless of their background. I hope that that narrative continues. But then even, we’re not saying we need to love them, even if, but just that it is accepted.

It is wholly accepted and they are, everybody is connected and we are all brothers and sisters and we all love one another. Um, and, and should be there for one another and no human is better than the next. And, um, I think that we’re getting there. I think it’s, it’s especially interesting because I know that, um, the younger generations get a lot of flack, uh, that we, we are constantly known as, you know, lazy and like we don’t, you know, we don’t, um, believe in the traditional values of, of what we all grew up in, but I think it’s amazing. I think the younger generations are, are opening the, the ceiling and saying like, no, there’s so much more than this. We don’t need to be doing all of the things that our parents and our grandparents and our grandparents parents did. We need to open conversations and we need to celebrate new things and we need to accept everybody. Um, so yeah, I guess overall to answer your question, I, I, I don’t know when it’ll happen, but I think we’re moving the ball forward and that’s a positive thing. Thank you. So the next question will be for Josh. Do you think psychological spiritualism and homosexuality have a connection?

Yes. Uh, but I want to break that down a little bit. I would break this down into psychology, spirituality and, and, uh, sexual orientation. You know, some of the more, I think, I wouldn’t say in touch psychologists and mental health professionals out there are keen to understand the psychology has long suffered from what we call physics envy. Uh, wouldn’t it be nice if we could just have a hard observational science that would allow us to say, this is why this happens, and this is exactly it, but alas, we don’t. Uh, when we look at the field of, of spirituality and the intersection of science, especially in Western religion historically, and where the church has regarded scientists with concepts that we take for granted today, spirituality at large has often struggled from physics envy as well while we’ve got these suppositions, but wouldn’t it be nice if there was some observational way to say, this is exactly it, and this is why this is the only true path and you should do that.

Um, and then we look at sexual orientation and I think those of us that have this lived experience it’s understand that it’s somewhat fluid, but there’s a deeply physical, uh, physiological component. And there’s a large psychological component, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could just look at the legislation and the naysayers and say, this is exactly where it is on the genome, and this is why it happens and et cetera. So, you know, we look at these fields as sort of being oppositional, there’s secular hard science and there’s spirituality. That’s the opposite. And then maybe there’s gender identity and sexual orientation that float in this other multi-modal or bi-modal realm. And in fact, all of these things are just grasping at straws based on what we can observe and experience and what we can know to be true in our hearts and trying to bridge them consistently. So I don’t know if that’s an adequate answer for what you were looking for, but I think that none of these suppositions are farther apart, uh, than just that they all share this physics, envy that’s problematic, but also kind of exciting. So hopefully we get closer to understanding things as time goes on.

Thank you so much. So the next question will be for, Tahil. Um, are you familiar or aware of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda? I do believe in their views, but I am struggling to find a place as a gay person, uh, going hand in hand with Hinduism.

That’s a very real feeling. And that’s a feeling that I had when I began to question many parts of my identity, including my faith and sexuality. Um, wherever there are points where we don’t feel things go hand-in-hand that’s when you have to know you need to dig deeper, because there’s a lot of what we consider sort of the superficial norms and realities that we create around traditions, because we don’t actually go back far enough to see what they tell us. And this was a point that Joshua you were making before as well in this idea that we’re studying about religion and spirituality. It’s much more in-depth than the past century. It’s much more in-depth than the past millennia. It’s much more than the common era, which is the past 2000 years or so. The point is it’s not just about, you know, trying to see things go hand in hand.

If things don’t go hand in hand, nothing is held against you to find a better place for yourself. That is the bare minimum of what you deserve. But the thing about religion and spirituality is it’s also not a monolith. Uh, the two, um, people that you talked about Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda are a part of the Vedanta school of philosophy. The Vedanta school is more modern. It is more accepting in some ways, and it’s still very rigid in a lot of ways, which means it’s just one school in this giant school of understanding of Hinduism. It doesn’t end with the Vedanta society being the latest and greatest denomination that we have. We’re still developing schools of philosophy. We’re still developing ideas of what it means to be a part of tradition and what it means to be a part of new movements for justice. Hinduism has a lot of work to it.

That’s why it’s not as easy to say. It’s just a polytheistic religion. That’s from India. It’s way more complicated than that. When you tell people that there are 330 million gods, but we still believe in one God, you thought the Trinity was confusing. Imagine trying to get 330 million deities together and make it into one thing. And the example that I use is like taking a spoon of sugar, acknowledging all the individual crystals, and then mixing it into a glass of water. It’s just as sweet to realize that all of those crystals make that one identity, that one entity possible it’s that kind of imagination. It’s that kind of interpretation and relationship that you also have the responsibility to build and discover for yourself and potentially for other people to understand it’s actually possible. And Porter. There were actually two things that I kind of wanted I reflected on and want to kind of respond to as well in this answer.

Um, one is I, I often hear that, um, it should be that we do things regardless of what makes people different. And I always invite the opposite response. And I say, I, you should actually do it in full regard as to where people come from and why they’re different. Because I think what we’ve really struggled from oftentimes is this idea that, Oh, it doesn’t matter where you come from. As long as you’re a good person, actually, it shouldn’t be the complete opposite. I want to know how in the world you came from a different world, a different reality. Yet we still came to the same conviction of loving one another, that we still came to the same conviction that we have justice striving for one another. It really involves us being millennials, being the people that are not, that are trendsetters in a negative connotation and not a positive connotation.

That actually this is an invitation for that intersectional justice to take place by being very intentional about how and why we learn about each other. And more importantly, the other point that I wanted to address is that, like, we’re not the ones to push away from tradition, this conversation that we’re having granted it’s on zoom, granted it’s as being live on YouTube. And it’s too modern for a lot of old farts to really like grasp onto it’s fine. The point actually is this is tradition. This is legacy we are doing some really solid work right now that is being viewed by over almost 600 people. And this is a part of what will make a difference if there are churches that collapse, because they’re not being radically inclusive, it’s not on the people it’s on the church at the end of the day. If they’re not willing to say that our love that God associated love that we create is not going to accept the whole person. That’s going to come into our doors. That church deserves to collapse. So does that mosque, so does that synagogue, so does that temple because they are not actually acknowledging that they’re putting a limit, they have the audacity to put the limit on. God’s love. That’s the point. That’s what we’re challenging and that’s how we go forward


Thank you so much. So, Dominique, um, so there’s sort of, there’s a lot of questions for you, we’ll say. So I’m going, gonna try to narrow it down. Um, so first, uh, would you say that meditation saved you and also, um, how do you stay focused on your journey and truth when you spend so much time uplifting other people’s stories and their journey?

Hmm. Um, I’m not sure that I would use the phrase that it saved me that, that, but it certainly helped me a lot. Um, there’s no doubt about that. And it changed the course of my future. I, it changed my path completely. It helped me to separate myself from the thoughts that were in my head, which then allowed me to access my gut and understand the difference between the truths that were coming through from a place, a deeper place. And that once I allowed myself to listen to that, um, it guided me into where I am now into places that I am very, very grateful, uh, to, to be. Um, and yeah, so it’s been, it’s been incredibly transformative and, and what the, you know, the, the path that unfolded since meditation has been like none other, but the magical is the way that I can describe it.

Like it’s, uh, the synchronicities and the, you know, um, the representation of the interconnectedness of all things has been so apparent that I had no choice really, but to surrender to a higher power just when I was doubting it, that would be something that was gifted to me by the universe that then led me on to further deepening my understanding. So what, you know, meditation definitely being the, the thing that kickstarted that started me off on that journey, but that many things have come along my parks since then to deepen my connection to all that is the great mystery of life and, and the divine. Um, so yes. And what was the second question? Geneva three,

You stayed focused on your own journey and your own truth when you’re, you spend so much time uplifting other people’s stories too.

Um, I think they, they inform each other. So, um, it’s definitely been a journey of like rarely, uh, getting clear about my needs and my spiritual needs and what that looks like and being, um, allowing myself to put those things, put those things as a priority in my life. So, um, working out what that looks like, whether it be that, you know, I wake up and, and, um, you know, start to start the day with yoga and meditation and prayer and gratitude practice or whatever those things look like and allowing myself to, and trying to shift my mindset and not see that as, um, something that, that is, um, selfish in any way to take that time for myself, but rather that in order to uplift other people and to, to truly love from the right place, I need to fill up my cup first, so that it seeps over into the universe and, and, and creates that light.

And that’s been a, that’s been a real journey. That’s been very, very hard from, for me personally, I came from, um, very, very, um, a background that taught me that, uh, the most productive, the most important thing is productivity and that we should constantly be, do, you know, being productive and not taking that time for ourselves. So within, within my journey, it’s very much been a, um, uh, deepening into self-love and realizing what that looks like for me and how those practices can, um, inform, inform, um, yeah, that, that, that sense of, of worth and, and, and self-love so, um, but then also I would, I would also say that by having conversations like this, by doing this work, it, it has tremendous value in my own life. So I’m constantly learning by doing the work that I’m doing. So it’s really just a gift and it it’s, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels just like, Whoa, as if I get to be a part of this. And, and so, um, yeah, just immensely grateful to all of those things.

Thank you so much. Um, I definitely echo that and I, on that note, we are about out of time. Um, so I want to just thank all of the, for being here today and everyone who is watching this on YouTube. Thank you so much for your time on behalf of the Interfaith Center, Start the Wave then, uh, URI North America, just thank you for attending. I hope you found this program meaningful and that it encourages you to embrace your whole self in your own life. Um, and if you’d like more information about any of the organizations that participated, um, I have put all of the links in the description on the live video. Um, so thank you all and, and have a great rest of your day.

Thank you so much. Thank you. Bye. We are no longer live. Okay. Alright Nicely done guys.

Hello, I’m Sneha. And I’m the host of Mind Matters podcast. Mind Matters is, is an attempt to create a space, to have conversations on mental health and raise awareness on all facets of mental health. We do this by sharing stories and perspectives of individuals from all around the world.

And I’m Jordan LoMonaco. I’m one of the co-hosts for Imperfect Eco Hero podcast and Imperfect Eco Hero is a platform and podcast series that uses storytelling as a way to connect with and celebrate the global community of people tackling this climate crisis, all while striving to dismantle the notion of perfectionism in activism. 

As some of you might not be aware, May is mental health awareness month. And just like how Jordan and I first met, today’s panel discussion will be an open conversation on the intersections between mental health and the climate crisis. Jordan.

Sneha – Yeah, as you can see, today’s exciting panel will be between nine amazing wave makers across five countries and six time zones. So it is more important than ever to take a moment before we start to acknowledge and reflect on the land, which we all reside land acknowledgements recognize that the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you recite on as well as honor, the indigenous peoples who have been living and working on this land for thousands of years, I encourage everyone to reflect on the longstanding history that has brought you to recite on the land that you do and seek to understand your place within that history, especially since colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation in it, which is why we’d like to acknowledge the sacred land in which I currently live work And I’m recording this panel discussion from this land is the territory of the Huron window and platoon first nations, the Seneca, and most recently the Mississaugas of the credit river, the territory with the subject of the dish with one spoon wamp  belt, covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy and the Ojibwe and allied nations to peacefully share and care for the resources around the great lakes. And although it is important to acknowledge the land, it is only just the first step. We are all treaty signers and thus have a responsibility and accountability for the violence that indigenous peoples have in currently, still face, especially when it comes to their fight for human rights, social justice and climate justice, or allyship is an ongoing and continuous process of showing up learning and learning and acting in solidarity with these communities.

So who are these wonderful human beings joining us today from across the globe? We’re here to share our personal stories and ideas and perspectives. Joining us from the nonprofit organization Start the Wave we have Dom PC the founder, Randi Ramdeen, the project coordinator and Dawn/D2 to the graphic design and social media manager, but also joined by lead climate psychology scholar and psychotherapist, Dr. Caroline Hickman, mental health advocate, and executive director of the Good Grief network, Sarah JS founder of mental mottos and the mental health innovation network. Lerato Phalatse of Mental Matters And our wonderful ASL interpreter Shelley McAllister. Before we get into this discussion, we want to issue a trigger and content warning. We will be talking about sensitive topics like depression, anxiety, and more. If any of these discussions are triggering for you or bring up any negative feelings, please take care. If you still want to watch it now, please do so with a friend or someone you trust around. If this isn’t immediately available, please wait. And you find yourself in the right head space and with the right tools and environment accessible to get into such a discussion, thank you and take care.

To kick off our panel today. We figured the best person to take the lead on breaking down the psychological barriers to climate change and creating a safe space for all of us to reflect on our own experiences and emotions was Dr. Caroline Hickman. Dr. Hickman is a UK based lecturer at the University of Bath in social work and climate psychology. She’s a practicing psychotherapist and board member of the climate psychology Alliance. Dr. Hickman works with schools, parent groups, youth activists, groups, and as a psychotherapist with children, young people and adults, all dealing with eco anxiety and distress about the climate and biodiversity crisis. Her work aims to uncover and explore different stories, narratives, and images around our defenses against the difficult truth about climate change that we are facing. Thank you again, Dr. Hickman for taking the time to join us today, the floor is all yours.

Caroline – Thank you so much. And it’s an enormous honor to be invited just to give a very short introduction. The reason I offered to do this is because as you just said, we’re talking about painful things and it helps give us a container in psychotherapy. We just need to be held in order to explore and talk about uncomfortable things. So that’s what I’m trying to offer here is a space. So certainly not presenting myself as the expert on this, but just sharing some things that I think might be helpful. And I’m smiling because my dog is joining in already. So I’ll introduce him properly in a moment before I do that. I loved your introduction before I introduced Murphy joining in. Let’s just think of this as nature and biodiversity coming into the call here,, before I do that, I wanted to start with a quote.

So I think your introduction was very beautiful, but I also want to introduce children’s voices into this because my research is with children and I want to use the voices of the children in the Maldives. One of them said to me, he said, we saw online that people had a funeral for glacier in Iceland. And this is a beautiful ritual that people in Iceland saw this glacier that was dying and they have this funeral. He said, but our island is going to be underwater soon. Who’s going to have a funeral for us. So I just want to dedicate this to the grief and the sadness and the innovation and the heart and the soul of children globally, who are feeling their way into this crisis with us. And we’re all adults on the panel. So I really just want to make sure that we get children’s voices included, and I can do that best as a researcher and a psychotherapist by bringing these voices of those children.

Another child said climate change is like THanos and the Avengers end game, and the ideology of Thanos was to kill off half the population of the world. So the other half can thrive. He said, but we are the half being killed off. So children are embodying a lot of this pain and this grief, I think on behalf of the rest of us. So I just, that’s where I want to start. And just very quickly, I promise, I didn’t want to talk for very long to talk about how climate psychology can give us a framework, a holding framework to explore catastrophe and also transformational energy and existential grief and hope and despair in this space that we’re all moving into. So this is a journey through anxiety and grief, to awareness and community and compassion and heart and collective understanding. And this is the noisy one in the background.

This is Murphy, who is my much loved 13 year old labradoodle. And I live in a very small house. And so if I shut him in the kitchen, he’ll think he’s done something really wrong. So you just have to live with the noises in the background. I’m afraid he’ll go back to sleep in a moment. He’s now part of every conversation that I have, and I hope you don’t mind this. So the climate psychology Alliance talks about the importance of facing difficult truths about being able to stand in these difficult places, these difficult paths that we’re embodying at the moment, both individually, personally, internally, collectively in our communities and in the planet. And it’s about developing this understanding across the planet about what we’re facing and how difficult and painful this is. And this is what climate psychology brings to the conversation. I’m so sorry about the noise. I’m always grateful for Gus Speth, who was the US advisor on climate change. And he’s a scientist. He said, I used to think top environmental problems were biodiversity loss ecosystem, climate change, and with 30 years of good science we could deal with those problems. He said, but I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy. And to deal with those, we need a spiritual and a cultural transformation and science doesn’t know how to do that.

Just to put this into context, of course, we’ve got the problems of COVID globally and this, the way we’re dealing with COVID globally is unequal. And we can see very much. And I want to just, you know, express my compassion, my concern, and my sympathy, my grief for the people of India, especially at the moment. And other parts of the planet was really struggling with this. We are struggling on a planetary basis, but some of us are struggling more than others. And what it does is it embodies that injustice and unfairness, which we are seeing in the climate change and biodiversity collapse. I would really place the COVID in crisis in the biodiversity collapse. And I think it’s really important sitting here tonight in the UK that I say, sorry, and we need to recognize this. And we need to extend our compassion and our understanding and action. 

Paul Hogget I think frameless perfectly within the climate psychology Alliance. He said, we’re living in this time when a tragedy, which is without precedent, is unfolding in front of our eyes. We’re living in this and it’s unfolding. So it’s changing constantly. If we were to make the mistake of thinking, we understand what’s going on, we would be very wrong. So psychologically, we have to accept that we don’t understand fully what’s happening emotionally, but we also have to step into this and take action. We’re witnessing these catastrophic rates of species extinction by diversity loss, soil, ocean exhaustion, and runaway climate change. So we are living in this. We have to find a way to live in this. And if we were to just use a psychological framework that only looked at the conscious mind, it would be a bit of a mistake. We’ve got to understand that we can often be 90%, 95% unconscious creatures.

We’re not rational. Creatures. Humans are not rational. If we were rational, there would be no war. There would be no poverty. So we’re not completely rational creatures. We have an unconscious process. And this is where climate psychology is a depth psychology. This includes this unconscious process. We have to look under the surface. We can’t just have rational solutions. So what’s the range and breadth of emotion that people are feeling that I basically want to say tonight. These are emotionally healthy responses. All of these are healthy responses. We want this emotional biodiversity of anxiety, grief, and solstalgia, soldier, hope and hopelessness, anger, blame, frustration, guilt. We need to sometimes have fantasies of rescue. We need apocalyptic fantasies to extend into this fences is psychologically healthy. We need to be able to tolerate our desire for avoidance and sometimes go to nihilism and despair. These are all healthy.

This is the emotional climate that we have to navigate. If we go to a positive psychology framework that says we have to get rid of these feelings, then we’re cutting off parts of ourselves. We’re cutting off parts of our body because cutting off parts of ourselves in the same way as saying, we shouldn’t feel anxiety or grief, it would be like saying, we can live without polar bears. We can live without giraffes. No, we need to actually have this biodiversity emotionally, as well as on a planetary basis, I’ve got their statistics. We are very bad at the moment about collecting statistics globally. But if we just look at the statistics of what’s happening in the UK, then friends of the earth YouGov poll last year found 70% of 18 to 24 year olds were more worried than the year before. And these are the statistics during COVID.

So what we can definitely see is that particularly in younger populations, anxiety about climate change is increasing despite COVID, despite the threats of COVID. So this eco anxiety, this awful anxiety that we’re living with, that we’re witnessing these things, but really with younger people in particular, it’s the failure of adults to act as the failure of adults to take action, which would reduce the anxiety for people. So why is this mentally healthy? Well, we measure mental health by looking at our capacity to respond to external reality. So I would worry about people that didn’t feel anxiety and didn’t feel grief, and didn’t feel worried about these things. It’s a mentally healthy response.

So, I mentioned Solastalgia and eco grief a moment ago. So we may feel anxiety initially when we become aware of the climate crisis, but what that frequently then develops into is a grief. And solastalgia is a particular grief around the loss of place in relation to the planet that we love. It’s a brief in relation to the environment and it’s our lived home that we can feel. And sometimes this grief can feel disenfranchised or disallowed or interrupted. Like we shouldn’t feel the grief for the loss of the planet, for the loss of the earth, for the loss of the plants, but we need to, that’s part of what we need to do to heal.

So you might be thinking, okay, well, okay, but these feelings are painful. Well, this is the process of change that I’m talking about. As we go through anxiety, into threat and guilt and depression, what moves us from the depression and the hopelessness is grief, depression through feeling grief that moves us into a radical acceptance, radical hope that we can start to do something and take action and then move forward. And what that gives us is this sustainable action as we move forward. And this transforms our anxiety into eco understanding, eco empathy, if your compassion, eco courage, eco community awareness, connection, belonging, meaning care, and a likeness. Because fundamentally the truth is living fully in the world means also feeling this awful anxiety that goes with the territory of being vulnerable with human being. So that’s my introduction to this. Hopefully that frames it for us in a way that we can now go from there into this more complex discussion. And I’m going to put myself on mute and go and let the dog out into the garden for a moment and be back. Please talk without me for a moment.

Jordan – Wow.  Even though I’ve heard this before, I still, my mind gets blown and definitely makes me so interested in my own mental health journey. So I would love to open it up, to the floor to hear what, how everyone else is feeling about their own relationship and journey with mental health, what that has been like and what those conversations around mental health have been like in your own community, your family, anyone who feels called to answer can totally take the floor. 

Randi – I can, I can talk if someone else. Yeah. Okay. my journey with mental health has bit been complicated one because I knew when I was very young, that I would benefit from mental health support, as an ACE. So a child of adverse childhood experiences, especially around being a person of color.

So I knew that I would need,support very, very early, but I was told that any issues or problems one has, can be solved on their own. And so I actually struggled with that idea for a very long time. And the thought that, you know, there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t figure out how to solve my own problems.  And it wasn’t until I started dating someone who, was taking psychology and, and they kind of suggested I take a psychology course because I would probably benefit from it and really enjoy it. And I started learning more about how therapy and psychotherapy really helps you advance and move through, any pain and suffering and, and whatnot that you’ve experienced in life. And so I realized how beneficial it was, to the point where I am now just, a big supporter of mental health support and mental health, and getting, and getting help for mental health as soon as, as soon as you feel any, feel it necessary. And I’ve taken that journey. I’ve taken that step  a couple of times in my life that it was very, I was very afraid to take and I remember walking into a psychotherapist office for the first time and I just started crying because it was reaching out for that help for the first time. And it’s really scary. It’s really scary to be vulnerable. And, uh, but I recommend it to everyone because why wait, wait around, and suffer when you can get the support that you need.

Jordan – Thanks, Randi.

Sneha – Lerato would you be open to sharing your journey? 

Lerato -Yeah, I know. Absolutely. I just wanted a like to raise my hand up reaction or thing, but I couldn’t find it. Yeah, sure. My mental health journey, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in my teens and it was, it was a difficult one because number one in my community as a black person in South Africa, mental health is still a very much taboo topic, you know, so you can imagine now my parents have to deal with a child. Who’s got mental health problems, you know, and when you mentioned depression, they’re like, what issues do you have as a teenager? You know, I mean, what stress, what stresses do teenagers have? So what’s your problem? I mean, so it was left untreated number one, because of the stigma that’s still surrounded or stacked to the mental health issues in our community.

And number two, because accessing mental healthcare services is still a struggle. We, I am from, you know, if you do not have medical insurance, then tough luck, you know?  So navigating the government systems in terms of mental health care is really still a struggle, especially for those who are from the marginalized communities. And sure, in-between let me see my teams and get help for myself in my late twenties. I had attempted suicide four times and I believe that part of that obviously was because of my diagnosis not being treated for such a long time. I mean, yeah, it was just escalating. And I think it was only my last attempt of suicide that I decided that I was going to get help. You know, I was like, no, look, I’m still, I’m still here, I’m alive. I tried to take my life away, you know, so many times, and that did not work so surely as an adult, I was now much older and I decided that, okay, I can take action.

You know,  I’ve got some funds available to start getting the help that I need, but it wasn’t an instant decision that I made for myself. I mean, when I got admitted to the hospital, the doctor said, we’re not going to admit you here. I would think you need to go into a psychiatric facility. I was desperate. I was really desperate for any kind of help. And without a doubt, I was like, yeah, know, whatever it takes for me to get better because I had been stuck in this place that nobody knew it was just myself and just the space I was exploding. And I was admitted into a psychiatric facility. I was there for some time, almost yeah, a month. And for the first time in my life, I actually got introduced to psychotherapy.  I had a little understanding of what mental health is, you know, I mean, it’s something that I would hear off, but why did it really entail?

And I also think that in my communities, a lot of people have experiences getting invalidated. So that was also an issue for me. So when I got into the psychiatric facility, that was something that was, it was the opposite of that. I could talk about my experiences. Somebody was listening, you know, people understood where I was coming from. And that is when I decided that that could be somebody else who has gone through my journey or who is going through a similar thing. And I decided to just use my voice and my story. And I just wanted to share my journey. And that is how I just got passionate about mental health. And I always say that it’s so hard to actually just define mental health. I mean, what Dr. Caroline just showed as I was just blown away, like, okay, this is the first time I’m hearing of this.

Like, I mean, this is amazing. And it’s so comforting to know that, you know, we experienced mental health in different ways. And I think that it’s so important to validate everyone’s experiences. And for me, it was just also mental health, where, when you mentioned mental health, it sounds like a really far fetched thing. And I just wanted to bring it down to, to everyday experience that, look, this is me. Sometimes I wake up and I really just don’t want to go to work. Sometimes I wish I could just call and just say, look, I’m not feeling good. You know? So those are just, I mean, the fact that I decided to get help and I’m not taking medication and I’m going through therapy doesn’t mean that I’m instantly Okay. And that’s another thing that I’m trying to communicate to people that it’s a journey and everyone’s journey is different.

What could take six months for you will probably take, I don’t know, three years for somebody else. And other people will have to deal with this for the rest of their lives. So the biggest thing for me is I don’t want people to feel like their experiences Are invalidated, I want people to know that we all experienced it in different ways, you know, and yeah, that’s, that’s a little bit about my journey and I am learning about mental health every day. And so I’m very happy to be part of the discussion because it will also just, you know, it’s good to learn what it looks like from everyone’s perspective, from different regions or areas of the world, parts of the world. So, yeah, that’s, that’s me. 

Sneha – Thank you. I just wanted to add one thing. You mentioned invalidated experiences, and this is just something I personally feel that just the fact that you’re opening up now, you’re taking a step of breaking that cycle because anyone that has gone through something similar right now, just listening to what you said, that experience has just been validated for them. And you’re taking a step at breaking that cycle. So thank you.

Lerato – Thank you. 

Sarah – Thank you all. I wanted to jump in really quickly and share my experience because it’s so different. And just to really share the spectrum  of experiences with mental health.  I come from a Jewish family in New York where psychotherapy is completely normalized if you’re not in psychotherapy, that’s the strange thing, you know, I’ve been in therapy longer than I haven’t in my life. And, you know, I started therapy when I was 16 and not because something was wrong, but because my family saw it as the same as going to the gym, you work out your body and you work out your mind. And so everyone I knew was in therapy. I was one of the youngest people I knew, but my parents were each in individual therapy. My parents were in couples therapy. And so it was really normalized for me. And so I had this experience of normalizing mental health and talking about it.

And I had parents who were really attentive in kind of doing the in-between work between therapy, just kind of checking in with me about my emotions and that was completely normalized in my family. But it’s interesting because despite mental health and care for our minds being normalized in my own family, the thing I was really missing was a climate aware psychologist, someone who didn’t diminish my experience of fear and anxiety as a teenager, as someone in my twenties, because I’m too young to be concerned with the state of the world. Like I should have a childhood, I should have dreams. And so there was this sense of the mainstream psychology world kind of diminishing the amount of fear I could feel as a young person, as a young adult about the climate crisis. And in my own family, I felt like I was screaming about climate collapse and crisis for a very long time before any of these terms were normalized.

And so I think it’s really interesting because my journey started out as really confident in my mental health journey and what it meant to have mental health resources accessible to me. But I still felt this lack. I still felt like I was alone on an island and no one was talking about the real thing, which is this existential crisis that we’re going through as a society. And now in my mental health journey, I’ve been in therapy for 20 years. And now I’m finding that talk therapy has less of a place in my life. Now I’m finding there’s other practices like somatic therapy and moving into my body and starting to do therapy that kind of bypasses some of my thinking, cause I can overthink everything, but I’m finding now that there are these other practices, more body-based practices that really helped me with my talk therapy.

And so I’m moving into more somatics and I’m finding that my mental health journey has really gone from being really heady into being really embodied. And it’s such an interesting place for me because I love to talk, but there are some things that my talking is not helping me untangle within me. And it’s almost like I need to bypass my mind at times to be able to really deal with the trauma of living in a destructive culture, because all of that is I think living within my body, you know, there are times where I’m deep in a breathing practice and the tears come and it’s not because I was thinking about something, something was unearthed during that practice. And so I think it’s interesting that it’s mental, it, you know, we call it mental, but it’s really the full that’s experiencing all of these traumas of living through a destructive culture. Thanks for hearing me. 

Jordan – And that was really good. Thanks for sharing Sarah.

D2 – I can jump in really quick and share, cause my perspective’s a little different as well. approaching it from like, how the stigma and the journey changed from my childhood to like me being a parent. Cause I, I remember as a kid, my mom went to therapy and it was,  mainly just saying, Hey, I’m going to go to therapy to work out some stuff. And I was like, okay. And that was it. That was the conversation. And I was still very much living in the stigma of “that’s bad”. Like you don’t talk about that. You don’t want anyone to know that you are going to therapy. And so like I never said anything to anyone and it was literally just that one conversation. Like I have no idea how many times she went, how long she went. I just know, after a certain amount of time she got happier and like, you know, everything was fine.

And so, you know, we moved on from it.  And I recently started going to therapy over the last year.  And it’s interesting cause I never talked to my son who’s now 12 about therapy. And when I went to him to say the same thing, like, Hey, you know, I’m going to go start going to therapy. Like his dad also started going to therapy and I was like, we’re, we’re doing this. Like he kind of snickered and he was like, you’re going to therapy. And I was like, where did that even come from? Because I have not had conversations with this about like, where are you getting the stigma? Like, is it that inbred into our society? That my 12 year old has a stigma about mental health that I have not even had a conversation with him.And in that moment I was like, this is getting nipped in the bud right now.

And so we had a whole conversation about how there’s nothing bad about going to therapy. It’s actually really good. And it shows so much strength and like, it takes a lot to re you know, reach out for help. And, you know, we had a whole conversation about it and every time I went to an appointment, I would be like, I’m going to have a therapy appointment today. And he’d be like, okay. And when I get home, I talked to him about it.  , you know, I went as far as like posting on my social media, like, so it was even reaching beyond him and just like showing that it’s normal.  And so that’s kind of my, I think the biggest standout point for me was kind of taking how that was approached when I was a child and making sure that it was approached in a different way for him.

And like I’ve seen his attitude completely changed when we’ve had conversations. Like you ever feel the need that you want to talk to someone that is not someone, you know, like me or dad or anybody else, like you tell me immediately because we are very blessed and very privileged. Like I work for an amazing company who gives everybody in my family, six appointments for free every single year.  And so I can literally just pick up the phone and get him into an appointment if he really needed it. And so I ‘ve been very clear and we do check-ins and, you know, just to make sure, especially like, you know, with COVID and we’re just stuck inside. Like, I, I definitely worry about that. And so,  , I think that my biggest transition with mental health is like really advocating and changing that stigma for like the next generation. So hopefully they don’t grow up the same way we do where we felt like we couldn’t ask for help if we needed it. 

Jordan – Amazing. Thank you. 

Dom – Beautiful. Do we have time for me to jump in? I want to say thank you to Caroline for that amazing presentation.  I too was just like, my mind is blown and it’s so exciting and reassuring to me. I’m actually, I was born in Bristol, Caroline. Are you in Bath?

Caroline – No, I’m in Wilkshire, same distance from Bath, right?

Dom: Yeah. So I was born and bred in Bristol, until about the age of 16 and in regards to my mental health journey that I had zero conversations around mental health at all. When growing up, I didn’t even know that it was a thing, honestly. And it was only when I moved over to Canada,  that I started having conversations around mental health with a castmate,  Melanie from Wynonna. And, I just sat me, felt like, oh, this is something that you struggle with too. Like, this is, A lot more normalized In the conversations we were having. It was a lot more normalized, which was, which was really, uh, relieving and helped me deepen sort of my understanding of mental health and therefore,  take the steps necessary to untangle some of my stuck energy. As you say, Sarah, that’s in the body by very much relate to that, too. But you know, in regards to climate change, my father was really at the forefront of those conversations around climate change.  and so I was hearing about the horror of what was happening in the world. I think very young and sent me, I wasn’t having any conversations,  outside of, of the home with anyone. So it very much felt like my dad was like, Dom like, this is a real thing. And like quite, like he was processing himself and he was sharing it with me. And my reaction was just helplessness. Like, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with all of this information and I don’t know how to, uh, not be emotionally affected by this and what I think actually I think probably as a coping mechanism in a way I think I like almost what’s that,  when you, when you like detach yourself from it and you’re able to like put it in a little box, like,  compartmentalize exactly, compartmentalize it and, and just kind of power on and in a way it was like the reverse of Like, Yeah, I can’t remember who said it now, but almost like I need to have that childhood. I think it was you Sarah. Like I, you were having the hello. Is everyone waking up here? Look, we need to wake up. There’s a lot of this going on right now and we need to listen. Whereas I was bombarded with that and felt like a little child, not knowing how to be a child and not knowing how to like how to dream and what my dreams were. And should I really be concentrating on this in order to,  like it clearly needs to be something that I’m thinking about. So feeling a bit overwhelmed and all of that. So when I came to Canada and started really untangling some of that, I realized how much of an effect that had. And so it’s so reassuring Caroline to hear you talking about,  you know, eco anxiety in a way that we can all really understand and therefore work with more efficiently. Thank you.

Sneha – Thank you for sharing Dom. You’ve actually given us the perfect segue. We’d love to discuss a little bit more about how all of your experiences have been with like climate change. And when did it, when did the climate crisis really hit home for you with your mental health journey and just in general, like with your life.

Caroline – Before we do that, can I be annoying and just interrupt because I just want to respond to what I’ve been listening to.  So I want to come to the questions in a second, but before that, I just really want to say how I’m moving. It is to listen to all your stories. And so I’ve been sort of sitting here listening to you, thinking how wonderful it is for me as well to hear your stories. Right and what that does is it makes me feel part of something as well. And I could see the reactions from everybody is each woman, we’re all women here. We’re telling us stories and everyone is going, yes, keep talking, like cheering each other on and relating and empathizing. And yeah, there was that lovely sense of sharing something. So we may have considerable differences and diversity between us, but there’s also something really shared, which is just really comforting and soothing.

And, you know, the importance of conversations, the importance, what human beings want is to be understood. We want to be understood. We want to feel that we’re not isolated, that we’re not alone. And the, one of the best definitions of mental illness I ever heard was not being able to find anybody who could tolerate being with you. So I think that’s part of what you’re approaching here tonight is finding ways to understand each other and talk about mental health in different ways. So that hopefully not just here in this group, but also other people listening will feel that there are people that can tolerate being with them, because if you feel understood, then you’re not alone. And if you’re not alone, then you can cope with things. You can find a way through anything. So I just want you to respond a bit, say how great I was, I felt your stories were fantastic and they were painful, but they were also loving and they were also stories of resilience. So, and I love that mix. So I just wanted to say thank you before we go onto the questions. 

Jordan – Thanks for interrupting.

Sneha – Thank you again. Uh, but yeah, so to segue into the next discussion that we would really wanted to have was on repeat. So what has your experiences been with climate change and when did you feel the climate crisis really hit home for you?

Dom – Oh, well, I can just elaborate on what I was saying earlier.  So I was having conversations with my dad very early on about the direction in which we are heading and feeling the weight of that very young. And as I previously said, I think that there was a little bit of compartmentalization happening in a way to sort of protect myself from really the deep,  sensitivity that I have when I actually allow myself to sit with the truth of what’s coming. It’s a very overwhelming, intense experience, and I’m sure everybody can relate that. But I didn’t have the tools to go through that effectively as Caroline was saying. And I’m actually really curious Caroline, as well, to understand a little bit more about how we went from that depression piece, into the lovely, more positive slide and understand sort of what that journey actually looks like.

Cause I’m, I’m not a hundred percent clear. And perhaps I missed something. So maybe we can go back to that in a little bit, but I didn’t have the tools myself to deal with that. So I shut down and then I went just kind of really focused on my performance career and felt this like guilt really that I wasn’t, you know, really looking at what I can do, but it was like in sort of the backseat because I, I was a dancer and that was my complete passion soul just calling was, was in the performance arts and went down that road. But it didn’t feel right with having the knowledge of what our, where we were heading and what was coming to just ignore that. And so, after, you know, course of events, I ended up in a position of influence and after taking a trip to India, that, uh, and, and having just done a 10 days personal meditation, silent retreat for 10 days, I was able to hear some of the voices more clearly that needed to be heard and needed to come through detangle, a little bit of the stuff that was going on in my head.

And actually then it led me to take action.  And I started to really see the effects of climate change and therefore decide to, to really, step into understanding what I can do is try and make a difference, which then unfolded to where we are here, having this discussion about, yeah, eco anxiety. It’s ongoing. It really is. It’s, it’s a, uh, an ongoing thing and it’s only gonna get more intense, you know, as we continue. So that’s why these conversations are so important and how much I appreciate Caroline’s work so that people are equipped or what’s what’s coming.

Sneha Thank you, Dom, for sharing that. Oh, Sarah, could you jump in and give us a little bit about Good Grief Network? I think the program that y’all have would be very interesting to like discuss a little bit more

Sarah – For sure. Thanks Dom, for sharing your story. Yeah. Good Grief network is a nonprofit that creates spaces where people can gather in community and process the heavy feelings and emotions that come up when we face the realities of our time and then use that collective processing to pivot individuals toward meaningful action in their lives. And as an organization, we’re really committed to redefining what activism means. Activism does not need to mean boots on the ground in that very patriarchal gung-ho get in, get out kind of mentality. Activism could be in your life. For example, committing to more present parenting, you know, activism could be spending every single day with your own breath and understanding those voices that are speaking to you about the things you’re afraid of. But what we think at Good Grief network is we don’t need a lot of people standing on the ground doing activism that doesn’t feel authentic to them.

The way that conventional activism has been defined, what we need is the whole. And we don’t even need a portion of society doing that. What we need is every single person thinking for themselves where their skillset and their experience and their passions intersect so that we can be activists in every day of our lives. We need to figure out what lights us up so that we can do that every day. And I think that that in my world has been the only antidote to the anxiety and the fear and the rage that I feel about our current state of the world. And, I think that a lot of people who find Good Grief Network had a really isolating story of when the climate crisis hit home for them. And it looks a lot like my story. I’m the executive director of Good Grief Network now, but I first found good grief network as a 10 step participants as a participants in GGN 10 step program.

And this 10 step program is modeled off of the alcoholics anonymous 12 step model. So we have 10 steps that cycle people through accepting the severity of the predicament. That’s step one. And we ask people then too, I mean, I can go through the steps at some future time, but we’re asking people to really sink into the weight of what this predicament is, and then go through an underworld or inner world journey to the point where we can come out, look at our bias, look at the ways that our cultural narratives are constructing us to participate in systems of oppression, and then start to forgive ourselves so that when we pivot back toward our community, having done our inner work, we’re ready to be activists in a way that feels meaningful and sustainable to us personally. And you know, the climate crisis, when it hit home for me, it was so isolating every social circle I was in. I’m like, I feel like I’m sounding the alarm, or I can’t even say something about people being like, okay, Sarah chill, we’ll talk about the climate crisis another time. This is just kind of like a wet blanket at this party. Like no one wants to think about this right now. And what I felt for me personally, was at every turn in my social life, someone was shutting down a conversation that felt like the absolute core of what I was living to talk about, you know? And so it just felt so completely. I felt so estranged from my social circle. And I think what Good Grief Network offers. People are small intimate groups where you know that the other people in the group are thinking these things too. And those thoughts and the weight of them and how scary it can be to really say how afraid we are and how much that can make other people afraid because they might not be able to fix it for us.

Like that’s what we’re offering people. A grief is a space where you can talk about these emotions, talk about what climate crisis means in your mind and in your body and in your life, without someone trying to fix you without someone coming and giving you advice. And so I think that that kind of communal setting and that invitation to re-explore activism, the invitation to start connecting with people that aren’t afraid to hear about your fears or your anxiety or your mental health journey. I think those spaces are what create this comradery or this collective sense of action together. And I think that that’s kind of what Caroline said before, about how she’s seeing us all kind of cheer each other on just from hearing each other’s stories. That sense of I can call it sisterhood with us here, but that sense of, personhood that we find when we’re in community.

I use this analogy a lot and I’ll stop after this. But, I talk about an orchestra. Like if you go see an orchestra play or you go to the symphony, there are notes that are held for minutes as part of this song. And to audience, it sounds like the note is being held, but what’s really happening is there are 10 musicians and some of them are playing and some of them are taking a breath, but because each person knows when it’s their turn to play. And when it’s their turn to breathe, it seems like the note is sustained. And I think communities that can achieve that together. So the communities, we have a good grief network, we invite you to rest. When you need to rest, you do not need to be an activist every second of your life. You don’t even need to be awake to this crisis every second of your life, because we can’t survive that way by inviting people to rest and inviting people to play and alternating that like we each get to trust that when we need to rest, our community members are going to hold the note for us, you know?

And I think that without that kind of sense of a really strong social fabric where we’re working together, it can be really easy to get lost in the depths of the emotions. It’s just so helpful to feel like you’re being uplifted by people around you. And so I think that’s kind of how Good Grief really comes into supporting the mental health journey. Like we don’t have some silver bullet, like if you actually do this every day, you’ll feel better about the climate crisis. No, that’s not it, but we have a lot of tools where on any given day, if you try them, they might help you. And community is like absolutely one of them in our minds. Thanks.

Jordan – Well, thanks for sharing Sarah and everything that you’re doing at good grief. The moment I had heard about good grief that blew my mind because the work you guys are doing is so important. So thanks for sharing that,

Sneha: Lerato or Randi or D2, would you be open to talking about how the climate crisis really hit home for you?

D2: Yeah, I can jump in, not to spend the broken mom record, but, I feel like so many moments,  you know, revolve around being a parent, but,  I remembered, I didn’t think, I didn’t even recall this memory until I was preparing for this panel, but, I remember when I had returned to work after having Toby and, you know, he was a few months old and someone was reading an article and it was about, global warming. And it was one of those moments where that you make a passing comment and you don’t really realize who’s around you. And they were just like, this is such a joke. Like what kind of monster brings a child into this world? And I was just like, Ooh, like, why did I bring a child? Like, should I be worried about that? And then it was kind of like that, like guilt, you know, that we talked about, you know, Caroline put in her thing and I was just like, should I have had a kid, like, am I a monster?

And then I started researching everything, and kind of looking at what we could be doing and all that kind of stuff. And then from that, my motto then turned into like, well, screw you, I had a kid, so I can teach him how to change the world and I can teach him to go and do better than we’ve done, or our parents did, or the people before us. That’s why I had a kid. And like, I’ve literally brought him up the entire time with small lessons that I feel like at his age, he can like digest and understand and like, you know, and you know, it’s, it’s gotten to the point. I mean, COVID is kind of put, you know, like some of the things like mom did we grab our bags when we go to the grocery store, you know, like, what are we buying bulk today?

Like, those things have kind of had a plate be put on hold because of that. But like,you know, you could come home with a plastic bag. Like, why did you have a plastic bag? You know, like he’s in that mode of just that constant, like we were talking before the panel started, but my white board full of information is an assignment for his class. And he came to me and said, I have to write this essay and I want to do it on people, reducing plastic,  and not buying as much in it. And that was from him. Like, I didn’t tell him what we should write about or anything, you know? And so that’s kind of where my journey started was like that moment where I was like, no, like I’m going to teach him to be better. And I’m going to teach him to work on the things that we can hopefully fix what we’ve done.

You know, and it’s definitely gotten a lot more of a trajectory in the last few years, you know, this amazing organization that I’m now blessed to be a part of, you know, really kick-started, a lot of that. And, uh, I was lucky enough that, you know, Toby loved Dom from Wynonna. And so I was like, Hey, you know, Dom said this, so maybe we should start doing it. And it lets, you know, parenting is a little bit of manipulation and coercion. So I got to use that a few times, but, it was just really easy to have that platform to just be like, oh, there’s a new video out. Let’s watch it and we’d watch it together. And then we talk about it like, oh, like let’s make sure we start thrifting more. And so it was easy to have those lessons.

And even now being part of the organization, like we’ll go through once a month, you know, Dom and Randi probably don’t know this, but I sit down with him once a month and we go through our social media posts and we have conversations about them and like why we’re sharing what we’re sharing and what we’re doing and how we’re hoping to make a difference. And, uh, we’re highlighting a new movie this week, uh, that Randi watched and I told him like, we’re going to go watch that this week and you know, different things like that. And so, parenting him and trying to teach him to be better and has really helped hold me accountable and pushed me to do better as well. So.

Jordan: Well, thanks for sharing mom of the year. So inspiring. 

Sneha: Lerato, Would you be open to talking now?

Lerato: I mean, for, for myself, this is, I know that this may come as a shock, but it’s, it’s something that is still very new. We are not necessarily having conversations about that because we ask those struggling to even hold conversations, you know, at our homes, you know, it’s not even happening at schools. So I think that’s why I’m also so, so excited to be part of this panel because of, I know, and I have an idea of what it is that the approach that other people from different parts of the world, are taking towards, you know, climate change and mental health and how they can actually all how they intersecting. And I think that for me, that I don’t have a lot to say, but there’s actually a lot that I have taken. And one thing about me is that, you know, the Maya Angeleau quotes, if you learn, you teach, if you, you, you know, you, you, you receive, you give, and that is what I am doing. I am taking away so that I can actually just teach and where I am coming from. So thank you. Thank you so much.

Jordan : Thanks for sharing that Laredo. Cause that’s also a big topic too. Just the lack of resources and the lack of, just advocacy, not only for just mental health, but yeah. Mental health regarding climate change. So that is just a good perspective, even if this is new for you. So thanks for sharing that.

Sneha: Randi, do you want to drive us home?.

Randi: Sure I feel like, uh, I’m being a bit repetitive cause Jordan, and Dom heard this, uh, the other day, but, kind of the point that scared me about wanting to care about the environment more was,when I read this book called the Politics of Pollution, uh, and it explained that  laundry detergent, if it’s not biodegradable, the chemicals in the detergent, when going into the ocean causes, like algae and whatnot to grow at such an exponential rate that it deprives fish of oxygen. And I was horrified when I learned about that and that’s when I switched to biodegradable products. And then I just started doing my research on, on the ways,that the things that we do impact the environment and how it contributes to climate change. And so, yeah, that was kind of my wake up moment of like, oh man, I’ve got to make a change personally. And this is the way to start. 

Jordan: Thanks for sharing that, Randi. Dr. Hickman,  we haven’t asked you your, your experience too, with just how, how was processing the climate crisis, but you can also go into the process of transition that Dom was asking about as well. 

Caroline: I’ve got so many things crowding my mind that I want to say that I’ve got to pick the first one first.  I’ll just share a little bit of my story.  So I was an, uh, an environmental activist and I was a psychotherapist and I thought these two parts of me were integrated. I thought, you know, I’m one person and this was 20 twenty-something years ago. And then I lived in Egypt for a couple of years and I was under water every day. And I was amassed in this other world on the coral reefs and the desert, and something about that shift in perspective. And I started to see the degradation. I started to see the damage of the world that I loved, and I started to see it feel it there’s a little bit like, uh, we’ve talked here about the embodiment of these things and feeling it in our bodies, not just in our minds.

And I think, you know, going and living there and immersing myself in this, in the water every day, helped me to feel this as a different level. And I saw it at a different level and it changed me and I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t go back to perceiving and feeling environmentalism and climate change is something separate from other parts of my life after that. So they were con they, they joined up in me somehow and I felt the grief. And I found myself crying under water because I was witnessing the destruction of some, a place that I loved and I suddenly felt it differently and that changed everything. So I came back to the UK and I thought, well, actually I need to now immerse myself in joining up these parts of my world. So the psychotherapy joins with the climate change and the biodiversity crisis.

So that’s what that was happening over the last 20 years. So I wanted to share that story. I love everything everybody’s saying here tonight, but particularly Sarah, you’re just so articulate in communicating about the complexity of what we’re dealing with and bringing it to a very, very human level. And I think all the stories here that everybody’s sharing, I don’t want to just call them stories because I think the women are sharing their hearts and souls, as well as their stories is just really moving.  Because these are stories of pain and struggle and resilience. And so I want to just comment a little bit about some of the questions that have come up. And if I don’t do some of that, now I’ll forget all of it. So I’ve got to just do a little bit, and then I’ll shut up because I think what, how do we build resilience, emotional resilience, psychological resilience.

We do it through failure. We do it through getting things wrong. We do it through messing up and then getting back up and doing and trying again. And then you fail again and then you get up and you try again, and then you fail again and then you get up and you try again. So I think that’s crucial in how we engage with psychology, mental health and climate change is that we will constantly be failing and we constantly have to try and recover from that and get back up and learn, because this is new for us. This is unprecedented. So this is not a map, psychological or ecological crisis. So we also have to have some humility about that. We need to learn how to navigate this, and if we can be open to that learning, then we will find a way to navigate that doesn’t mean we’ll always get it right.

So we have to be able to tolerate the good and the bad. So it’s a “both and” solution that we’re looking for. We mustn’t split the success from the failure. We mustn’t be looking for either all solutions to this. This is both ends both. We’re going to succeed and we’re going to fail sometimes. And there’s a 10 year old girl who I think perfectly described this. I have to use her name’s Sophia. And she said, when I was talking to her about how do we talk about the climate crisis with children and not traumatize you? She said, well, she said, you’ve got to tell us the truth. She said, if you don’t tell us the truth, you’re lying to us. She said, if you’re lying to us and we can’t trust you, she said, and if we can’t trust you, we can’t tell you how we feel.

And if we can’t tell you how we feel, then we’re on our own with our bad feelings. I love this child. I wish he was running the world. She said, so she said, don’t tell us all the bad stuff all at once, tell us the good stuff, then the bad stuff, then the good stuff. Then the bad stuff, right? She really should be running the world. She said, anyway, she said, I’m not a baby. She’s 10. So she is really perfectly talked. And this D2, you were talking about this with your child as well about this intergenerational conversation, about the need, to be able to tolerate the good and the bad, the pain and the joy, the innovation and the inspiration, as well as the failure and the loss and the grief. And there was that really great question about how to move from that depression towards that kind of radical acceptance, the radical hope, the moving forwards, that integration.

And it’s very much that grief, that recognition that we’ve got something wrong that enables us to move forward. So in psychotherapy, we talk about reparation and repair. We talk about rupture. We talk about how the fact that once we recognize that we failed, once we recognize that we get stuck. Once humanity recognizes that we really messed up when it comes to mental health, generally, and the climate and biodiversity crisis globally. Once we recognize that we’ve got this badly wrong, then we have the opportunity to repair something. Then we have the opportunity to look for creative in solutions. Somebody said, you know, I don’t want to be fixed, or we’re not broken machines. We don’t need to be fixed. We just need to be understood. And then we can develop meaning. So it’s that grief of recognizing that we’ve got something badly wrong, which will enable us to move forward and start to rebuild and repair something differently.

It’s like, we’ve got to break down the old, we’ve talked here about systemic injustice, the systemic colonial racism. We’ve talked about that breakdown. Those are systems that need to be broken down. And then we have the possibility of creating something new out of this. And it’s like the caterpillar, the, metaphor I use is the caterpillar goes into the cocoon and the caterpillar in the cocoon. I always used to think the caterpillar would go and skip and grow legs and wings and turn into a butterfly that way. And it absolutely blew my mind. When I found out what happened in the cocoon is the caterpillar actually dissolves and breaks down into a soup. And so you’ve got this liquid in the cocoon, and this is a metaphor for what we need to do psychologically and ecologically. And in terms of our community and these systems, we need to break it down.

Uh, but the components of these systems, the components of the caterpillar then reformed themselves into a whole new creature. So this is transformational change. And then it emerges as a butterfly. So we can take all of these damaged, broken, bruised, hurt wounded parts of ourselves and reorganize them, re systemize them, reshape them. And then we have the transformational change that’s possible. And then we can do that and recover and heal from the shame and the guilt and the grief and the pain and the loss. We do need to say, sorry, we do need to say, sorry to the children. We need to say, sorry to black and minority ethnic people to indigenous people. And we need to say, sorry to the animals that we have failed, and then we need to get together and fix it. 

Sarah: Thank you, Caroline. Can I jump in really quick? That butterfly analogy? We use a good grief all the time and I absolutely love it. And what we think about a lot is that if you found our 10 step program at good grief, you’re in the goo, you’re in the period of the Chrysalis where everything is falling apart and you don’t know where the wings are yet, and we’re looking for them. Or like, I know it’s in this goo somewhere. I know this dissolved mess has my wings that are going to allow me to take flights in the next paradigm that we create. And so at good grief in our staff meetings, we stopped asking, how are you and started asking how’s the goo? And so we ask how’s the goo.

Caroline: I call it soup. I call it caterpillar soup. Uh, so yeah, it’s like, but the other beautiful thing about that metaphor is the butterflies then has to fight to get out of the cocoon. I’m sure you know this, and there is a struggle. There’s an incredible struggle to do that. So we have to dig deep when we have to find psychological, emotional, mental community resources that we sometimes might feel that we haven’t got. And that’s okay, because that struggle is what enables those wings to open up. So the struggle we want to just turn this around on its head and say, the struggle is great. And, but we need less of a heroic masculine. Uh, doesn’t have to be a gender personification, but there’s this heroic story of we’re going to beat this. We’re going to beat climate change. We’re going to beat COVID, we’re going to dominate nature. And this is underpinning misogyny and it’s underpinning the Western medical model, which says that if you’ve got a mental health problem, then there’s something wrong with you and you need to be fixed. And it’s that underpinning misogyny and patriarchy and Western medical model, which is causing the damage to women and girls on the planet and animals. So we need a more feminine, lunar, reflective, loving model, which is more of the soul. So we need to go down to grow. Not up.

Jordan: I dunno. I always feel like now that you described the butterfly, the caterpillar experience, I would definitely feel like I’m in the goo and I have no way of getting out. And I think, I feel like, I don’t know if everyone else was like that too, but I definitely feel it in the goo more often than I don’t. And that leads really well into our next question how has everyone else been like coping with getting out of their goo and like their own mental health struggles around you going, or just things in general, just to kind of give any of our listeners and also hear ideas of ways to just kind of manage this. And like Dr. Caroline said, like, find that radical hope within ourselves to make it up that slope. Because I feel like a lot of us feel like we’re definitely at the bottom of that slope with no way of getting up. So if anyone would love to share what they’ve found, helped, totally go for it.

D2: I can go, it’s not necessarily like around like the, you know, mental health with the climate crisis, but just kind of mental health in general. but, uh, actually had this happen yesterday. And so it’s like fresh in my mind, but, going to therapy has taught me and I wish people knew this. Like, it teaches you a lot about yourself. And things you don’t know and things you can’t recognize. And it’s like, uh, like getting a new mirror on your wall, and seeing these different layers of yourself that you couldn’t see in the mirror you had before. And so I’ve learned a lot about like my ego and I’ve learned a lot about, kind of like getting into my feelings and where, like, I don’t really know what triggers it.  But I’ve known, I know now how to recognize when I’m just like in my feelings and like what I’m thinking in my head, isn’t real.

It’s not there for any specific reason. Like, it’s just I’m making up, you know?  And then when I’m in that, I realized that I waste a whole bunch of my day just sitting in my feelings and just not having a good time. And so I found ways to easier, like recognize that. And I have my solution is that when I recognize it, I immediately get up and I get a piece of paper and I write 10 things that I’m thankful for and I’m grateful for. And it pulls me out of that muck. And it like reminds me of the good things that I have because all I’m thinking about, or the bad made up things in my head.  And so that’s what I’ve been doing, when I noticed kind of slipping into that, like bad Headspace. So.

Jordan:  Thanks for sharing that D2. That’s a really good idea. I know when I was a student, uh, at uni, the university of Toronto, I had two, two of my friends actually started a happy book and they put these little books with a pen around our student spaces that said, write three things that made you happy today. And, people would just go around and sometimes they would go around and handing it to people. And it was really nice watching people get like, nothing, like nothing made me happy today. And when you ask them, like, really think about it, people then took a second to really be appreciative of some of the things that often get so overlooked. We tend to dwell so much in the negatives and the things that go wrong and completely overlook those positives. But yeah, that gratitude book, happy books. Great idea. Hmm.

Dom: I can add a little something for me creativity has been very important for me during this time, especially in regards to like I’ve wrote, I write music. And there was a time quite a few months ago now where we were really deep into some, like some big, uh, work like anti-racism work. And also I was like diving deeper into climate issues and just feeling at the moment, like there is so much, like we are really unlearning everything that we’ve been taught in our lifetime. It feels like, and the, the, like just, yeah, it, I clearly at times find it quite overwhelming. And, and I, I got my guitar and I wrote a song about that and it was, uh, really helpful. And so I would say that,  creativity as a tool for healing, it’s very powerful. And whether it be that you are an artist of a painter or a poet or, a songwriter or chef or whatever it, whatever your creative outlet is. I think we shouldn’t underestimate the power of creativity to help us understand our experience and our feelings, especially when it is heightened because of everything that’s going on in the world right now. Thank you.

Jordan: Thanks for sharing that. I totally agree. Art people underestimate how much art has a real power and influence over, over people.

Lerato: Okay. Well, I’ll jump in if that’s okay. Cool. So for me, I mean, therapy has been the biggest help.But apart from that, obviously, I think D2 said that therapy will teach you so many things about yourself, you know, and, and it also, I always say that you do not have to actually be in a bad space to actually be, go for therapy, you know, because you constantly learning something and you are getting these amazing tools that, well, I know personally that I wouldn’t have learned to garden from home, you know, or anywhere else in the community. And I think that’s why we have our, we say that everybody’s got a role to play in the community, never disregard anyone. And for me, that’s how I explain it to my circle of friends or family that does the reason why we have, you know, your doctors.

I mean, if you had a headache for a week and it’s not going away, you would go and see, you know, a general practitioner. However, if you are just not in a good mental state, it’s so difficult for you to even where do I go? Where do I start? And for me, apart from therapy, journaling has been the biggest help. So journaling has become a part of my life every single day. So reflecting for me is it allows me to reflect. It’s like the biggest thing for me now, I wake up and I make sure, like, how is my heart? You know,instead of asking, how are you doing? So I do it with my mother and like, how is your heart? And she’s actually doing both, you know, the same thing to me, not like, Hey, just be calling me in how’s your heart.

And, you know, when somebody actually asks, like, how’s your heart, you start to actually like, dig deeper. Like actually, how is it, how am I doing? Cause you know, when you’re asking, how you doing, you, we saw, used to automate can be just, you know, I’m okay. Type of thing, you know? And so journaling has also been like a really big part of my life in the morning. And in the evening side reflect, you know,  it also allows me to set the tone for my day, you know?  So that’s been very helpful, obviously treatment taking my medication has also been very important. Also rest is such a big thing. I mean, I give of so much of myself and the other day, my little brother said, I was like, I’m not feeling great. And he said, have you actually thought of just like doing nothing, do nothing and just let people pour into you and just take and take and not give anything.

And I thought that really sounds selfish here. It’s such a big Oxy for me to be like, oh my gosh, I want to be taking from other people because it’s always been such a glorified thing to give and give and give, you know, but we don’t realize that it’s also important to just pause and do absolutely nothing. I mean, I realized that I had not done any reading for pleasure in the past two years, you know, up until we were like in COVID and it’s the small things like that, that really helped me and obviously bring, well, not obviously, but,  , I was also introduced to a gratitude journal, which is very, very helpful. So I really can attest to that. That it’s been very helpful for me, but rest is also very big, very, very big. I know people preach, you know, pour it into your own cup, but every now and then I get people reminding me that you sound like you’re actually giving off from an empty place.

And people can sense that, you know, if I am going to do work that I’m passionate about, I want to pull from a place of fullness and not emptiness. And I’ve had to learn the hard way that you know, it’s okay. It’s okay to just take a break and also asking for help. That’s another thing that I’ve had to learn last year. It’s such a big thing. It’s like, I mean, with my ego, I’m just like, no, I’m going to do this by myself. And I realized that it doesn’t work. It never worked for the pause. I don’t know what 29 years. And like, I am not just that person. Like, I actually need the help if I feel like I can’t do the dishes, I will ask somebody in the house as small as it sounds. But I mean, there are days when I just can’t even do anything and I’m asking for help is also a very, very big thing for me now.

Jordan: Thanks for sharing that Lerato, I totally agree. Those are amazing suggestions. 

Sarah: Lerato you just helped me realize something about my own practice that I don’t think I realized before now, which is that asking for my community to be around me is one of my main coping tools. And again, as someone who’s an older sister and has been maybe conditioned within my family systems to believe that I’m the helper. I think that that’s one of the biggest things is just reaching out to community and saying, I’d love to have a phone call this week. And sometimes that does feel like a burden. Like you’re asking someone else to hold space for you. And that helps me realize something else, which is, I went to a, it’s called the decolonizing unconference, and I went last week for, uh, a piece on decolonizing our relationships. And the two speakers said that consent is essentially the antithesis to white supremacy consent is the opposite of de-colonization or is, excuse me, consent is the opposite of colonization.

When we ask each other how we’re feeling when we make sure that there’s space to enter, that’s the opposite of how we’ve been colonized by patriarchy and white supremacy. And this person asked, when was the last time you were in consent with yourself? How often do you really need to rest? But you push through for another hour of work. How often is your body hungry? But you wait 20 minutes to eat. And how can we have relationships with each other where we’re all honoring where each other are at in that very moment, recognizing that the climate crises and all of these intersecting crises are running through us in different levels at different times. How do we check in with our communities and both ask for what we want and offer to and say, I’m ready to receive it, right? Because sometimes we ask them, we’re actually not ready to receive.

And that just really helped me remember that that’s an essential piece of my emotional regulation is making sure that when I ask for something I am ready to receive and making sure that when someone asks me for love, I’m ready to give because my cup is full.  So thanks for pointing that out to me. And just the one other thing I wanted to share, that’s been really helpful with me.  When I used to live near the ocean, I used to call it the salt water trifecta. And so I would sweat, cry and swim every day and I’d get my salt water in three ways. But I don’t live near the ocean anymore. So I try to get like my face wet, even just that kind of like that shock into, into my body. And I try to cry and sweat every day. And the way that I sweat is usually with a really big dance. I listened to some really intense music maybe from when I was angsty as a teenager. And I just dance until I’m drenched in sweat. And there’s something so freeing about it because you’re kind of welcoming in joy, but pushing out the intensity of the feelings. So that’s, those are my practices. Thank you

Jordan: With a song you would dance to?

Sarah: There’s a band called no doubt. That was very popular when I was a young woman and the song, I’m just a girl. Woo. That one really gets me

Randi: Sarah, the access to nature. That’s that, that’s how I get through it all is, is getting outside in ways that we haven’t been able to in the past and being out for extended periods of time on it. And like we’ve been able in the past. So I’m taking this opportunity to access nature and to reestablish that connection with the environment and remind myself of why I’m doing the work that I’m doing.  

Jordan: Love that. Thanks, Randi.  

Caroline: I wanted to say something similar.  So I don’t think of myself as working in a dyad in psychotherapy anymore. It’s not just me with one person. I work it with the triad, with the planet, with the, with the environment. So as a form of eco psychology or eco psychotherapy or climate psychology. So I try to ask the planet to help me now. So if I’m exhausted, I’ll go and lean against the tree and just say, help me, you know, I’ll try and help you. You try and help me. And, uh, I bribe the birds to come into my garden a lot. I put a lot of worms out for the birds, mealy worms, dried ones, and I just stand there and watched them all move around. And in that moment I can just lose myself in sorts of them.

And I feel part of that. I feel part of that world. So absolutely the way nature we can be with nature. And the other thing I just wanted to say is also to reframe, just reframe anything that feels like it’s suffering as you’re only feeling these, this disconnect or this dysregulation or this pain or this suffering, because you care, this is the price we pay for caring. So actually be proud and celebrate and don’t suffer alone. But you know, be kind to take the edge of the suffering. So it’s not unbearable, but don’t try and get rid of it because it’s the suffering that will connect us to the suffering of the planet and the suffering of other people. So I want to feel that this discomfort.

Randi:  Dr. Hickman, I just need to add that it’s my motto in life to think about things in, in the way of, uh, what’s going to make me less miserable doing something or not doing something. And, uh, and it’s always doing something because, you know, it’s, that’s how we get somewhere.

Caroline: Sure, absolutely. But we’re lots of what we’ve talked about this evening is the importance of the internal activism, as well as the external activism. I mean, that’s been there for, for everyone that the internal activism could be just sitting quietly, but that’s still activism that’s doing right. And that’s that balance between being and doing isn’t it. So just, and I love that, that idea of doing nothing, not doing nothing purposefully and mindfully and honoring our need to do nothing is, is very healing. That was, that was great. I love that.

Sneha:  So getting to your doctor, thank you, Dr. Caroline. We’ve already kept you all for so long and we don’t want to interrupt your day anymore. Now, do you actually gave us the perfect question to end on actually. So we’d love to just know how is everyone’s heart feeling now after having this wonderful discussion? 

Caroline: Well, I just want to live with you all forever, right? I just don’t want to go. I want to stay here with you cause it just, for me, this has just been such an honor and such a pleasure. So thank you.  

Lerato: so I’ve been sitting here and I’m like, sure. It’s like past midnight now, but I’m like, okay, I can still go on for some time. I mean, I don’t mind, but yeah, it’s been really amazing. And  I don’t know. My heart is, you know, when you’re just so content and so happy, like, wow, you guys are so amazing. And I have learned so much. And for me I’m all about just immersing myself in the experience and the moment. And I’ve just given every bit of myself to this. And I think I’m at ease. I’m happy. It’s been really, really amazing. I appreciate all of you. And I’m just like, can this not be the last time I see these amazing ladies please. Yeah. But thank you. Thank you so much.

Randi: My heart is very full and I’m very, very fortunate that I was asked by you two, because it’s, I’ve learned a lot and connecting with everyone has been just such a joy and hearing everyone’s perspectives and, and it’s helped me reevaluate this, this panel. Has helped me reevaluate things about myself. So I’m going to take what I’ve learned and, uh, and grow. Thank you. So thank you so so much. Yeah.

D2: Yeah. I definitely, uh, mirror Randi,  , I was actually nervous about this panel. I usually don’t get nervous about these things, but I was nervous about this when I was texting Randy earlier and I was like, I can’t calm down. I think it was just because like, uh, this is a vulnerable topic and you just don’t know.  I kind of winged it too. I looked at the questions when you first sent them and then I didn’t look at them again. And, I thought I wanted to just come in authentic, not, you know, do too much prep and just speak from the heart. And,yeah, I, this was an amazing experience and a good reminder that doing things that scare you is important. So thank you for the invite.

Sarah:  Thank you for all. I can follow that cause I have, I can echo those feelings that my heart was also a little agitated before I got here a little jumpy and I feel very, I feel very settled and uplifted right now by this conversation. And I just want to take a moment to thank Jordan and Sneha for organizing and bringing us together so that we had the opportunity to meet and thank our amazing interpreter Shelley for making this more accessible to everyone. Thank you. 

Dom: Is it me? I guess it’s me now. Yeah. Agreed, absolutely agree. My heart is feeling quite a few different things, honestly, that I’m feeling hope it’s so,  it’s so exciting to be in this discussion and I thank Jordan for organizing this, the work that you’re doing is unbelievable. It’s so important. And I know that this conversation is going to help a lot of people, so, yeah, congratulations.

 And to everybody else that joined today, it’s so brilliant hearing your points of view and your perspectives. I have learnt so much.Sarah I’m, I have lots of food for thought. Uh, I’ve been, I’ve been really feeling into the importance of, healing and activist spaces and, and changing the way that we’re thinking about activism. So I’m feeling inspired in that sense and we’ll definitely continue processing the things that we’ve shared and spoken about in this panel. So yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much to everyone and yeah. Am I the last one or was it Randi? 

Jordan: Shelly, if you also want to comment in the chat and 

Shelly, you can go first. If you’d like, we’d love to know how your heart’s doing.

Shelley:  Well, someone took the words out of my mouth, but my heart is full. I’m just full. And I’m so impressed with all of you here. You know?  I can’t wait to share some of the things I’ve learned with my family members who do, you know, some, just my grandson who suffers with,  , you know, mental health issues. So I can’t wait to share some of the techniques that I’ve learned here on this job interpreting to share with them, but thank you all for sharing. And I hope I can join you all the next time. 

Jordan: Thank you for being here, Shelley. Thank you. Sneha, How’s your heart?

Sneha: I’ve been thinking about that since Lerato mentioned it, but to be honest, everyone’s echoed of any similar feeling it’s, it’s fun. And honestly, it’s hopeful, which I don’t say very often, but this conversation I’ve mentioned this before, when, whenever we have these kind of intense conversation, sometimes there’s a little bit of a heaviness that carries over to the rest of my day, But this, the energy though, the honesty, you just felt so positive. And yet it’s honest, it is hard conversations, but when we have these conversations, it’s why it gets more comfortable eventually. So I’m just grateful that everyone took that sort of invite about coming and having these open conversations. So I’m just feeling, I feel, hopeful that’s, that’s the word I can use, I guess, Jordan you?

Jordan: It’s funny I definitely felt we were not the two best people to even like co host this. And, uh, I definitely had a lot of anxiety coming in about if we were the best people to be leading a conversation like this. But it definitely made me feel like, uh, cause imperfect eco hero started because I felt very imperfect and I still do. I always joke that I’m being perfect and imperfect eco hero because my co-host is so, so incredible in the work you’re doing is, is impressive. And I don’t feel like I’ve done even a fraction of it, but it’s, it’s really wonderful to hear that those same feelings are echoed just across, across the globe and people who are doing incredible things. You guys are all eco heroes. So it was reassuring to hear that you guys all feel the same way and that we’re all kind of in this together. Hopefuly it is. I think the best word in my heart definitely feels full beating fast but full measure. But yeah, no, I’m just really appreciative for this conversation.

Sneha: Before we let everyone go, I think I speak for Jordan and I both, we just want to take a moment to express our gratitude, not just for taking time out of your schedules to be a part of this panel, but also taking effort to make positive change in this world. It’s nothing short of inspiring and it brings us so much hope and we know that same passion would have translated those that see this discussion. And especially in turbulent times, like now it’s often easy to succumb to such a pessimistic approach to life and lose hope. But especially in those moments, focusing on individuals that take steps towards making positive change in whatever magnitude has helped me. And I know even Jordan as well to ground ourselves and every single one of you here are one of those individuals that we feel inspired by and that is why we feel hopeful. So thank you so much for the work you do. We hold so much respect and gratitude for you all and by grateful to have been able to share the space with everyone here today. And Shelley, thank you for joining us today and helping us it’s thank you. That’s all I can say.

Jordan:Sso just so everyone at home at home listening, we’re going to put all of your links down below in the video description, any resources,  everything you would need to know is below. So the only thing I can say is echo, thank you. And to everyone listening, thanks for listening. You definitely took the right step. Hopefully you made it this whole way through and just know you’re not alone. We’re all feeling the same way and we’re all rooting for each other. yeah. Thank you.

Please note:

UPDATE: Since filming this video I have become aware of the critical importance of using gender-inclusive language when talking about periods. People of all genders have periods and it is vital that we reflect this lived reality in the language we use, holding space for the full and diverse experiences we have around menstruation—in all our bodies, in all our genders. As I have said many times before, I believe the world is more interesting and beautiful because of our variations and differences. Understanding other people’s truths, (especially when they differ from our own), is a continuous journey, one that I am deeply committed to and care wholeheartedly about. With this in mind I would like to apologize to any folx who didn’t feel seen in this video, it was never my intention to exclude you, I was simply unaware. Since then, much has changed and I absolutely hold myself accountable for my mistakes. Please let me reassure you that in the past few years I have deepened my understanding, shifted my use of language and am continually becoming more conscious—considering the ways in which I use pronouns and gender-inclusive terms to contribute to the peaceful and all-embracing world I so dream about. Here’s to growing out of our mistakes, staying curious, open minded, and evolving together to bring in the new age with active loving grace. 🌈 With gratitude, Dominique 🌞

(Start of video)

Ladies. It is so important to own your period. When I was growing up, periods were seen as gross, something to hide or be ashamed of. Well, let me tell you now that is utter rubbish. The female body is extraordinary, amazingly complex and beautiful. We have to start breaking down those old fashioned ways and support one another in empowering our periods. This is in no way, an advert. I am doing this 100% completely and entirely from an environmental and feminist standpoint. So today I’m going to talk about an alternative sanitary product that I truly believe changes everything. About three and a half years ago, I was sat around the table of girls drinking a glass of wine, and somebody brought up the Mooncup. Honestly, they could have been talking about a space-aged tea cup designed by NASA or something. This inspired a chorus of shock from the table and what followed was a heavy pitch by five amazing females. That very conversation shifted my relationship to my period and completely changed my adult life. So here it goes. I’m hoping to do the same for you. 

This is the diva cup, AKA the Mooncup. I will probably be referring to it as the Mooncup, as that is the make that is most widely sold in the UK. And of course in British. I’m just going to open up the sighting sheers. Hey look, it has, you can even measure how much that is amazing in ounces and in milliliters. The Mooncup is an alternative sanitary product to the tampon or pad. So you fold it over, like so. Pop it up there. It pops open. Collects your menstrual blood. Yeah, that’s right. Menstrual blood, menstrual blood over it. Okay, good. And then we take it out, empty it out, give it a wash and voila. It even comes with a little bag so you can pop it in and be discreet. No one will ever know, that it’s your Mooncup. Or if you’re like me and you like arts and crafts, you can make very own. 

Let’s be frank about this, who out there loves tampons? You ever heard someone say, ‘Ooh ya, I can’t wait to shove a tampon up my vajayjay.’ We just use them because that’s what we’ve been told to do. Don’t miss this shit. Look at all this plastic and bollocks. This is a tampon. Hi tampon. They make these things super absorbent so that the minute that they touch any liquid, they instantly inflate. Look at that. So when you have it in, you feel like you need to change it all the time. And then they consequently sell more of them because you’re going through so many of them. 

Even though these things have huge benefits for women by their very nature as non-disposable products that don’t have to be bought regularly, the big businesses don’t have a huge profit incentive. So instead they just keep selling us the idea of shoving a bit of cotton up there instead. It’s bad enough that we get crumps every month. We don’t need the industry to exploit our vaginas too. 

Tampon troubles. Dryness. Tampons can be really uncomfy. You know, when it’s sitting funny and you have to just move it around, like poking around down there and hoping no one will see. Or even worse at the end of your period, when it completely dries you out because you haven’t got enough moisture and it becomes really itchy. Some people even get thrush from it. That was me. Not cool. Who are we kidding? It’s horrible. And actually really bad for your lovely lady parts. Well, the Mooncup saves all of that. Its non-absorbent so it won’t cause dryness when your periods light. It’s so comfortable in fact, I don’t even know it’s in there. 

While tampons absorb 35% of vaginal moisture, the Mooncup doesn’t dry you out or leave any of these horrible fibers behind. Look at that. Leaking. Leaking becomes a thing of the past. You know, when you want to go to yoga or swimming or literally anywhere at all, and you’re worried that your string is going to be hanging out or you’re going to leak everywhere. The Mooncup saves all of that.

To vagina, and beyond!

Okay. Relax Buzz. This little bad boy holds three times more than a regular tampon. So ladies say goodbye to pooey looking stained knickers. Okay, bye. You can put in any time. So the morning that I think I’m going to possibly come on, I whack it in and even if I don’t, it literally does nothing. Money saving. You only need one Mooncup that pays for itself after six to eight months. And regardless of flow this bad boy will last 10 years. Just think of all the money you’ll save. But most importantly, it reduces waste. Each one of us goes through around 11,000 disposable sanitary products in a lifetime that end up in the sea or landfill. The time it takes for a tampon or pad to degrade is centuries longer than the lifespan of the woman who used it. Ocean conservancy volunteers collected 27,938 use tampons and applicators on our world’s beaches in a single day.

So by switching to the magic, Mooncup, you’re saving the manufacturing of all of those tampons and all of those plastic applicators, all that unnecessary disposable waste that we need to start eliminating from our lives. Now, listen, I’m going to be totally honest. I was really daunted by the idea at first, but luckily I had these amazing women to tell me that it was completely normal to feel like that. Yes, it may take a little bit of practice to get used to it, but once you have mastered it, you feel invincible. When I made the change, I finally felt like I was taking control of my period. All that itchy scratching blah feeling sorry for myself, nonsense, diminished. And I started feeling a woman, a woman who has a period and is not scared of it. Truly, if you can work through a bit of trial and error of putting it in and out, it will change everything. Then we can concentrate on being badass, amazing women all the way through the month. It’s time we stopped throwing away insane amounts of disposable products. Please take a chance, go out, buy yourself a Mooncup. You won’t regret it.

Song lyrics for the original song written by Dom, and performed by Emy, on the video.

I’m floating here in outer space, the human race seems far away,

I’m on my own.

But a million different stars aligns, so I know that I will be just fine out here 

on my own.

Oh I see a space ship,

Oh I feel a place where…   

I am home.

So I surrender to the aquarian age,

 pave my path in unconventional ways,

let go of the past look to a new phase,

where Pride Liberates, 

yes Pride Liberates.

 I’ll take a stand and I’ll stand center stage,

take off my mask and I’ll risk all the rage,

let go of the past, look to a new phase,

Where Pride Liberates, 

yes Pride Liberates.


It may be darker out here,

But I’m made of stardust and I will…

Shine and Breakthrough. 

My family will find me, soul friends and I will guide me…

High and Breakthrough. 

I’ll be alright, I’ll be alright,  

I’ll be alright. 

Shame doesn’t own a face, in this space we can elevate,

I’m not on my own.

So if we all stand up tall, love who we love and feel it all.

Let the beauty be shown.

Oh I see a shooting star, I guess you’re not that far,

I am home.


So I surrender to the aquarian age,

 pave my path in unconventional ways,

let go of the past look to a new phase,

where Pride Liberates, 

yes Pride Liberates.

I’ll take a stand and I’ll stand center stage,

take off my mask and I’ll risk all the rage,

let go of the past, look to a new phase,

Where Pride Liberates, 

yes Pride Liberates.


It may be darker out here,

But I’m made of stardust and I will…

Shine and Breakthrough. 

My family will find me, soul friends and I will guide me…

High and Breakthrough. 

We’ll be alright 

We’ll be alright

No need to see my face ,

To know that 

I am I am celebrating for you 

A win for you means,

A win for me too means…

That we can see it through.

Cause I am healing too

So I surrender to the aquarian age,

 pave my path in unconventional ways,

let go of the past look to a new phase,

where Pride Liberates, 

yes Pride Liberates.

I’ll take a stand and I’ll stand center stage,

take off my mask and I’ll risk all the rage,

let go of the past, look to a new phase,

Where Pride Liberates, 

yes Pride Liberates.


It may be darker out here,

But I’m made of stardust and I will…

Shine and Breakthrough. 

My family will find me, soul friends and I will guide me…

High and Breakthrough. 


We’ll be alright 

We’ll be alright



Yes Pride liberates, yes pride liberates

Start The Wave:
All right, I’m going to start admitting folks. So I’m going to try and get them all to keep their camera off, but you know, people will probably have them on. Okay. We’re good to go.

Dom P-C:
You’re going to give me a countdown. Yeah.

Start The Wave:
Okay. Five, four, three, two, one.

Dom P-C:
Hello, Hi everyone. Welcome to a Start The wave and Black X Film panel, where we will be discussing all about why representation matters. Before we start, I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that we are all on various different indigenous lands. I’m currently on the traditional territories of the peoples of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Blackfoot First Nation tribes of Siksika (Sig-see-kah), the Piikuni (Pee-kah-nee), the Kainai (Gai-nah), the Stoney Nakoda First Nations tribes of Chiniki (Chin-ick-ee), Bearspaw, and Wesley and the Tsuut’ina (Tsoot-tenna) First Nation. The city of Calgary is also homeland to the historic Northwest Métis and to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3. By acknowledging the land that we are on, it helps us ground into the truth of our history, face up to the wrongdoings of colonialism, and the continued injustice that continues to play out as a result in today’s world.

Dom P-C:
So just taking a moment here to thank the land, our ancestors, and all those continuing to fight for a better world. Thank you. I’m so happy to be here. t’s been such a pleasure connecting with Bianka over the past month and having conversations around this topic. That means so much to me. I feel totally honored to tell you the truth to be continuing this conversation with such a powerful group of individuals. And I can’t wait to, deepen into this discussion and hear what each of you have to add to this, very important discussion. For those watching live, but have managed to make it into the waiting room, sorry. So the zoom room, apparently there was a limited capacity. Welcome. You will have an opportunity to answer, to ask some questions to the panelists later on. So if anything comes to you, as you’re watching, just jot it down and then hopefully we’ll be able to get to it later in the conversation. So thank you all for being here and happy pride! Over to you, Bianka.

Bianka Bell:
Hi everyone. Thank you again for being we’re so excited. This is such a great group of I’m really happy that Dom gave me the opportunity to invite some folks that I’ve worked with personally. Before we get started, I just want to talk to y’all a little bit about Black X. So Black X is a three day online film festival, started by myself and some of my filmmaker and artist friends. We’re a group of predominantly queer artists and this year the event is going to be from September 17th through the 19th. Usually we have about five programs consisting of short films, music videos, and one or two feature films. The event is always free. So please come share the event, tell folks to come. I believe we don’t have a limited capacity, so I think we can have as many folks as want to attend, and a little bit about how we got started.

So as I’m sure lots of, you know, last year, there were a lot of incidents in the media that were covered about police brutality. Obviously these aren’t new incidents, but I think as a Black person, I felt very affected and very compelled to want to do something about how Black folks were being portrayed and a lot of these portrayals lead to how we’re treated out in the real world. I decided with some friends to start this film festival, we want to support and amplify Black voices. We want to pay creators, Black and POC and queer creators are the most underpaid in the industry. So our festival is unique in that we actually compensate everyone who is admitted into the festival. Our ultimate mission is just to, you know, lean into our creative strengths and be a part of a movement of justice and equity and healing. So I’ll tell you a little bit more about what we’re doing at the end of the panel, but that’s just a little bit about what I do. So thank you, Dom, for giving me the space to talk about it.

Dom P-C:
Yeah, of course. Appreciate it. So I’m going to go around and introduce these amazing humans before we get started. Perhaps you can say a little hello to everyone who’s here watching. Our first panelist is Bianka and Bianka is a 26 year old Sacramento based creative producer, director and actor. Though well-versed and interested in politics where she majored at Bard college, she has been involved with an array of film music and print media projects throughout her adolescence undergraduate and postgraduate years. Bianka received her master’s degree in film at California College of the Arts in 2019 beyond her latest acting works, “My Life is a Lie” and “Chosen Fam”. She’s set to costar in the forthcoming family holiday film “Through the Fire”. And in 2020, she worked as a creative producer for Next Gen America. And co-founded, co-produced the virtual Black X film festival that she just spoke about. Her most recent major work is a political talk show. She directed and produced for young people entitled “Convince Me” hosted by Amber Whittington. The show premiered on Reverie TV in November of 2020. Bianka is signed with RSA talent management in Los Angeles, California. Bianka, welcome,celebrating you!

Bianka Bell:
Thank you.

Dom P-C:
Awesome. So next up we have Kyle, Kyle Casey Chiu AKA Panda Dulce, is a San Francisco born and raised writer and drag queen story hour cool queen whose work explores gender identities, racial justice, and desire. Her work has appeared on NPR, NBC, Vice, Huffpost, MTV, Fusion, New Now Next, Them.US, at Harvard and MIT’s Broad Institute. And as part of the Wyatt Houses’ It’s On Us Campaign, teaching viewers how to combat anti LGBTQ violence. Most recently, Kyle is the creator and co-writer of the all queer trans people of color web series “Chosen Fam”. Welcome Kyle, thank you for being here.

Kyle Chiu:
Thanks. Do y’all ever feel so awkward when you’re being introduced or just like…

Dom P-C:
That’s me.

Kyle Chiu:
Anyways, thank you for it. Thank you for that. I appreciate it.

Dom P-C:
Thanks for being here and next we have Sampson. Let me just quickly, Hey! Sampson McCormick has been one of the most in demand voices of diversity in comedy for two decades. He’s appeared on TV One, Viceland, BETS, Fox Soul, and “Love the One You’re With” on Amazon Prime. He’s headlined venues, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Hollywood Improv, and in 2018 made history as the first LGBTQ comedian to headline a show at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Welcome Sampson, and thank you so much for being here. Awesome. Okay. And last but not least, Lea. So Lea Robinson is a queer, transgender, gender non-conforming person of color identified actor and writer. Leah moved to Oakland from New York City where they were active in both the theater world and film and TV. Lea is currently Sag-AFTRA and AEA and has representation in both LA, Manager is Mad Catch Entertainment and in San Francisco, MDT. Lea is also a writer of sci-fi, horror, and romance, and also a lover of cats, spending time with family, scary movies, travel, and video games.

Lea Robinson:
Hey, what’s happening everybody? Good to be here. Did anyone see The Conjuring yet? I’m just saying, that’s all I have to say.

Dom P-C:
No, ah! Awesome. And I’m, I’m Dom also known as Dominique Provost-Chalkley. I am the founder of Start The Wave, a movement and nonprofit organization that funds, amplifies, and connects wavemakers worldwide. Along my journey I also had the honor and privilege of playing Miss Waverly Earp in SYFY’s western “Wynonna Earp” where I played a beautiful bisexual women and through playing that character, it helped me enormously in my own journey into my queerness, which continues to be the most interesting and vibrant evolution of self. I’m just deeply grateful to be living this in this lifetime. Welcome. Hooray, representation matters, happy freaking pride everybody! It’s so good to have you all here. So the first question I have is for everybody, all of you here. I’d love to know when was the first time you saw someone that looked like you on the screen? Kick off with Bianka, yeah go for it.

Bianka Bell:
Cool. I actually thought about this question a lot as I was over-preparing. I think it’s a very complicated question as a queer Black woman, because I was raised in, you know, predominantly White suburbs for most of my adolescence. So a lot of the first portrayals of other Black woman I saw on screen were riddled with racism and stereotypes that I couldn’t relate to. So this kind of estranged me further from my Black identity. And because I lived in this predominantly White space, I was usually the only Black person in the classroom. It caused me to have an identity crisis. And when I realized I wasn’t straight, it added another layer of confusion and self-loathing on top of that. So there were a few queer characters in shows like “Degrassi” and “South of Nowhere”.

I’m sure some of you know, of those shows and while they, they did help me, kind of come into my queer identity and helped me feel more assured and normal in myself, like I didn’t quite fully relate to those characters because there were still a lot of cultural differences. So it wasn’t until recently probably that I actually have seen nuanced representation of a queer Black woman on screen. And there are a few examples of it. Right? You have like “Insecure”, you have “Twenties”. I think I haven’t watched it, but “Black lightning”, I heard there, you know, there are Black queer women on that show. So, you know, they exist now, but I think it’s kind of new and whether those representations are completely genuine, completely accurate, portrayals… that’s questionable. So, you know, I think it was actually probably more of like independent creators YouTubers, like “Amber’s Closet” that helped me come into myself more when I was a teen, seeing Black, lesbian being out and proud and confident, really helped me.

So, it’s really quite awesome because I ended up collaborating with Amber last year and with Sampson on a project that I directed and produced. So it kind of came full circle. So, you know, the importance of, of indie media is, I mean, so crucial in that, you know, it’s really the folks that haven’t been able to make it into these boardrooms that have these great ideas for representation and how to do it well and accurately and without dangerous stereotypes. So short answer, not until, it wasn’t until recently. And I think we still have ways to go.

Dom P-C:
Thanks. Okay. Really appreciate that. How about you, Kyle?

Kyle Chiu:
Thanks for that Bianka. You know, I thought about this question a lot too, and I feel like when we’re asked, like when is the first time you saw yourself represented on screen? There’s this assumption that like, it’s like when you saw your self in that portrayal, you know what I mean? Like you could relate to that character. You could relate to the decisions being made. What they’re doing is humane and like multi-dimensional like, and if I were to answer that question, that question, I would say, I didn’t see myself represented at all, because if anything, we were not really represented as Asian Americans on screen in general one, we were just conspicuously absent. And then when we were on screen, it was like peppered in the background, or maybe, different casualties in a war film, or someone talking in broken English and like kind of providing an obstacle for the main character who is dimensionalized.

And so in that sense, like, it was hard for me to identify with anybody. But if I were to say the first time I saw an Asian person on screen, it was Data from “Goonies”. We all seen “Goonies?” Yeah. I don’t know. I’m just like millennial-ling myself, but like “Goonies”, obviously like a dope movie. Right. But like Data is so awkward, like, oh my God, like the whole point of Data was to like have inventions and to like kind of bark in broken English. And like, I don’t know, like he was just like tactless and kind of socially inept. And like, when I was playing like in groups with kids, like I would aspire to that. And like, I was like, that’s who I should be. Right. And so I would always want to be the baby. I would always want to be taken care of. I would never want to take center stage.

And so I was kind of complacent with that relegation and like the stage of like children’s playground stuff, but it wasn’t until “Power Rangers” when Trini came on, like the yellow ranger and I wanted to be the red ranger because he’s the main character he gets to fight the bad guys in like a really like central way. Right. And I came to school on Halloween as the red ranger. And I remember this kid told me, you can’t be the red ranger. And I was like, why not? And he’s like, because you have to be the yellow ranger, that’s who you are. It’s in this way that like I had this very jarring identity crisis in the same way that Bianka talks about where it’s like, I was like, not only was I not able to be who I wanted to be, who I knew I could be, who I knew I deserved, but because of the lack of representation of Asian heroes of humane Asian representation, like it limited everyone else’s imagination of who I could be.

It limited everyone else’s imagination of what was possible for someone who looked like me. And so I was confused for a really long time. And like you, like, I’m fourth generation Chinese American, like, so I was consuming the same media y’all were like, I watched “Three Ninjas” and then they’re like another deep cut. I don’t know if you all know that, but it’s like, literally about like three suburban White boys who like to get trained in martial arts by like an Asian grandpa figure. And like they ate rice. So like, I could relate to that and then like, but they were also cool and like skateboarded so I can relate to that. But I think it wasn’t until like I studied about race later that I realized how violently, like cut out of the picture we were and how all of these representations of Asian Americans as backwards as foreign and as like calculated or wielding math nerds, like they all stem from politics and it stems from like war propaganda.

And it has an agenda, like, I’m like on one, I’m going on one, I’m sorry, Dom. But like, like even, even this year, like with the Stop Asian Hate stuff, like, and like Trump mobilizing this, like anti-Asian rhetoric and being like the China virus, like it has political connotations and like an international stage. Right. It’s like, because China is becoming a super power that we want to antagonize nations at home. And so, like, I just think it’s so unfortunate that we, Asian-Americans become casualties in this culture war when obviously we’re capable of so much more. And so it’s because of that, that I create films. It’s because of that, that I made something like “Chosen Fam” which centers on queer and trans people of color and it’s necessary that these voices are amplified. I think.

Dom P-C:
Where will we be able to watch “Chosen Fam”? I’m so excited! I had a look at your website and it just looks so exciting.

Kyle Chiu:
Oh my gosh, thank you. We are pending a distribution deal, but we just got funding for four more episodes, so it’s not out yet, but, it will be soon. So pending is the answer, but thanks for, thanks for asking.

Dom P-C:
Yeah, of course. And Sampson, how about you?

Sampson McCormick:
Oh my God. This panel is awesome. Y’all have already kicked it off, showing off y’all need to stop it right now. I’m happy with having this conversation and to jump right in… You know, it was, it was very fragmented looking for myself growing up because I’m from Washington DC, which is very political. You know, I grew up during the Reagan era during the war on drugs, during the aids epidemic. And so I was right there in the middle of it. On one hand it was very empowering, being able to see shows like, “In Living Color” and “The Arsenio Hall Show”, it’s still in “Oprah”, which was Black empowerment, but then you would also see these conversations with queer people where we were victims, or we were, you know, perverts or bad people, you know? And so that created, like Bianka said for me, identity crisis, you know, it’s, there’s, this part of me is awesome, but this part of me, I have to hide.

And so it wasn’t until around 2006 or 2005, this show came out called “Noah’s Ark”. I don’t know how many of you remember “Noah’s Ark”. But it was four Black gay men in Los Angeles and all of the gay boys that I hung out with in DC lost their minds, because gay Black men were on television kissing, having relationship problems. They were making money. They lived in nice condos and it totally opened up the doors in our minds for the possibilities that we could have as Black gay men. And, from there, I’ve continued to look for more images like myself, like, you know, Kyle like Bianka, you know, other queer people of color. But I think, you know, it goes without saying we still got a long way to go. And so,you know, that’s why we’re here and I’m looking forward to tonight’s conversation.

Dom P-C:
Thank you. Well said. Over to you.

Lea Robinson:
Thank you. Thank you to everyone who shared up to now. Thank you for, I resonated with so much of what you’re saying. It’s a great opportunity and privilege to be here. So, thank you for having me and thanks for everyone who’s listening and holding this space with us this evening. To answer that question, I didn’t, I also didn’t see myself period, as a little Black queer kid growing up in Kentucky, growing up Jewish in Kentucky at a certain place, and that that’s a whole other panel discussion, but I did not see myself on screen. And in order to survive that time, I had to have the most active imagination. So instead of seeing myself there, I just replaced the people on television with myself and I would grab those scenes. And later on, I would try to dream about them, or I would fantasize about that life.

And it was almost like I had this whole other life that was happening, whether it was “Miami Vice”, “Ricardo Tubbs”, or the movie “Splash” or “Star Wars”. When “Star Wars” came out, that was something that I could really watch and see like, replace certain characters with myself. So that’s how I was able to see myself in those ways. Being a Black kid, you know, there wasn’t a whole lot, unless it was a “Miami Vice” or something like that, but there wasn’t a whole lot on a big screen for me to navigate until “The Last Dragon” came out when I was a teenager. And that was like one of my favorite movies of all time. That’s where I really finally saw myself, had the biggest crush on Vanity when she was on that movie and was just like, it was mind blowing. That helped me a lot because not seeing myself was hard, it was hard.

And it was harmful, you know, growing up in Kentucky and looking for that outlet, that creativity, that one place where I might be able to understand and know that I’m okay, it’s normal, I’m supposed to be here. I didn’t really see myself. I had to put myself into those things. I think the through line, a couple of y’all have talked about it was kind of like it just added to the little identity crisis that I was already having. Right. So, that’s why I think it’s really, really important that these conversations are happening and they’re, we’re all sitting here having this conversation that folks are in this space with us and we’re holding this container and we’re having this conversation. So it all, it’s just it’s cyclical, right. It just, for me, it’s coming full circle for this moment to be able to really kind of talk about that. And the value.

Dom P-C:
Thank you. Well said. So we’ve kind of already started to touch on it, but, if I was asking you, like, what does representation, or why does representation matter to you personally? What has it meant to see yourself represented on screen? Is there anything else you’d like to add that maybe we haven’t touched on in those initial answers? Bianka, if you want to kick us off.

Bianka Bell:
I think it was semi touched on, but I think like to answer your question of like what representation, why, why it matters or what it means for me, it’s representation is like a sense of relate-ability right. We talked about relate-ability and feeling, being able to understand the, not, not just the identity of somebody on screen, but like their decision-making process, right? Like the backstory, what informs their decisions moving forward, you know, privilege has a huge impact on the way that we navigate the world.

So someone who was born with certain privileges would never be able to understand, the decision-making process or the thought process behind why a Black person might move to the other side of the road or the other side of the street when approaching, you know, a frail old White woman, you know, you don’t have that backstory. You don’t have that double consciousness. So, it’s hard, you really see that type of nuance shown on screen. So for me, representation means a sense of comfort, a sense of being like, wow, yeah. That, how do they know that? How do they know? I think like that too, how do they know I have to do that? Not having to deconstruct a character’s backstory fully because you just understand them to their core, and you know, to, to see more Black queer folks on TV, I think it’s, it’s made it so I’m less afraid to be outwardly myself, you know, it’s made it so I’m able to hold my partner’s hand when we go out in public and be confident in that relationship and not afraid and not wanting to shield who I am, being Black and proud and wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt.

And, you know, just, just being bold, that’s been new for me because of a new sense of representation, not just in TV and film, but media in general. I think actually, you know, a lot of independent creators have, have started this movement and Hollywood is trying to catch up, but in a way that is still beneficial to them and what’s beneficial to them is still holding onto some of these stereotypes. So we’re right now, we’re not seeing the full picture. I think we’re seeing parts of representation, but to say that there’s complete representation in Hollywood, you know, is a fallacy.

Dom P-C:
Absolutely. Kyle, is there anything that you’d like to add to why representation matters to you?

Kyle Chiu:
I mean, snaps to everything that Bianka said, and has been said in general by this panel. I think I have so many feelings about this that it’s kind of like putting an ocean through a straw, but let me tell you a story. So after I graduated college, I was a barista and I met this guy, John, who was also coming from Kentucky actually, and being like really clumsy, I like messed up the ice machine machine. And so there was ice everywhere and it was all over the floor cause I’m a mess. And he was just like, oh, it’s okay. You’re probably used to being wet. And I was like, what do you mean? And he’s like, because didn’t you swim here? Like, and it was like an immigrant joke, right? Yeah. I know. I know. And it was 2010. That’s not an excuse, but it’s like these kinds of jokes, I feel like we’re way more pervasive and less like politically polarizing for NPR now, which isn’t to say, it’s like, world’s better now, but I talked to him about it and I talked to management about it and I was just like, that’s fucked up.

Speaker 3:
Like, and when he apologized to me, he was like, I’m sorry, like you’re the first Asian guy I’ve met. And I didn’t know that it would have this impact and like whatever he’s profusely apologizing. But I think the point is like he was coming from a context where he had never met an Asian person before. He was coming from a context where the only interaction that he had had with Asian people was through media. And what media told him is that we are one dimensional immigrants, perpetually foreign, that we’re passive, that we are plot devices and not fully fleshed out characters, that we can be easily toppled over that we, that he can say something like that and get away with it. And that there will not be a consequence. There will not be an emotional potency felt on the other side. And so I think what fundamentally in that is just a certain kind of empathy that I feel like is lacking when it comes to people of color, when it comes to queer people, right?

Like had he been exposed to other forms of media? Had he seen Asian people in different kinds of roles, speaking English, not broken, actually fleshed out characters, handling familial problems that he can relate to. I feel like this would have gone completely differently. I feel like he would have had a kind of compassion that just was not present in our first interaction. Roger Ebert, I think, I don’t know, said something about film where he’s like film is the ultimate empathy, empathy machine in all of the arts, because for an hour, for two hours, it allows you to step into someone else’s shoes, someone else’s experience, race, religion. Right. And that is so true. Lea and Bianka know that I love this quote because I bring it up in every “Chosen Fam” thing but like Juno Diaz, I know he’s revealed himself to be a sketchy person, but he said, what did he say?

He was like, you know, the thing about vampires, what they say about vampires, right? Is that like they don’t see them. They don’t have a reflection in the mirror. And there’s this idea that if this monster looks in the mirror, that that’s what makes them, that’s what makes them the monster is that reflection. But I don’t think that’s it. I think what it is is if you want to turn someone into a monster, you deprive them of any cultural reflection of themselves. And I think that is like the bitter truth that we’re all getting to here with this identity crisis, with relating to Whiteness, with relating to straightness and forcing yourself to contort every, all the uniqueness of yourself into that box that, you know, just doesn’t fit that isn’t right. That doesn’t get to the heart of your lived experience. Like that is what we’re getting at. When we talk about representation, mattering. I don’t know what else to say.

Dom P-C:
That was like, mic-drop moment. Thank you for sharing. Yeah. Sampson, anything you’d like to add?

Sampson McCormick:
I agree with everything that has been said, and I think that we should agree. Representation matters because history has shown us that the last thing we need anywhere is White people telling any more stories. Okay. you know, you look at a lot of these stories that get told about people of color and they’re all wrong. You know, even now you see a lot of stories that get written about Black people and you look at the writer’s credits. And a lot of times like you look at the names and you’re like, ain’t no Black people in there. Okay. And you go and you look up and there are no Black people. So that’s one reason. And then secondly, as a, as a gay Black man growing up, it’s funny because I related to people that I saw on “Boys N the Hood” and things like that.

But I also related to Grace Jones and Patty LaBelle and Joan Rivers and, and Dolly Parton and all these strong women. But there was nothing in the middle. There were also no stories. You know, like Kyle said that allowed the viewer to step into the shoes of a Black gay person of something other than no, in, even in a well, Will Smith did “Six Degrees of Separation”. But even then, I don’t think many of, a lot of people in the Black community had the knowledge or even the emotional intelligence to be able to slow down and look at that character outside of the lens that they have placed in. And so again, it goes back to the statement that I made earlier about, we were always made to look like victims or frauds or perpetrators or perverts or scam artists, these horrible people. And so of course, what does that make other people think about you?

How does that make you look at yourself? And so, you know, that, that was the hardest thing, you know, I think the most powerful, the mask, the most powerful, I’m, I’m, I’m running off two hours of sleep, so I’m, I’m having some brain farts. So bear with me, we’re going to get to the destination. The most powerful thing that can come of representation is allowing folks, and I’m talking about Black people right now, because the way my community sees Black queer black people is important to me and everybody else is secondary, but the way Black people relate to things, I will like to see more stories that make Black people scream at the television and the movie screens that have Black queer people in the lead. Because if you make Black people scream at a screen, you got ‘em so I would like to see some stories where a Black queer person is in the lead. And it’s a story that is compelling that draws them in and makes you root for them because that’s when the audience able to, is able to say, I relate to that. And that’s what you want.

Dom P-C:

Lea Robinson:
I don’t even know how to follow some of this knowledge that y’all cats are dropping right now. I wouldn’t add it. I agree with everything I’ve snapped to everything that everyone has said. I think that representation is also about visibility. It’s about compassion, right? And sometimes it’s about education and awareness, right? So I think it’s really important for folks to experience multiple narratives, right? Other people’s stories, other people’s experiences, other people’s realities, right? Because I may not understand what it means to walk in someone else’s shoes. Right. But if I make a connection with that person, and if I’m curious and open and raise my awareness about that scenario, then there may be something I can relate to in a way that’s going to increase my empathy, my compassion, which we could all use a little bit more of that as we walk through the world.

Right. And the last piece around that, it’s socially important, right? For that education and awareness pieces, don’t get me wrong. I know that in, work that we do around, education and awareness, it’s not everyone’s job to educate others. Right? We get into this place of like, you know, whose responsibility is it? Yes. I can put work out there that tells a story. And I hope that someone watches it, sees it, learns something, peaks their awareness about something in a way that they may get a little curious, dig a little deeper, like around trans rights and what the trans experience is. And maybe something can relate to their own life and they can have some compassion and empathy, make a connection or relation to that. Right. Or as an actor really being out there and, and having roles that push, like push the conversation forward, like, what does it mean to be a Black reverend in a Black church, talking about homosexuality, trans identity, all the phobias that happen within that realm. Right? So that education and that social reflection can happen in Black and Brown communities, straight, trans, community, all these different communities that this is a vehicle to tell a story, to put as many stories out there so that we can raise our awareness and we can learn something new about someone else’s life and, and maybe get a little bit curious and do our own research, and then have some compassion and awareness about it. So, I think that visibility is a huge part and, education and awareness. Yeah.

Dom P-C:
Yeah, absolutely, go for it.

Kyle Chiu:
Is it okay if I respond to that? I know we have like a structure, but like, I just really, like what Lea said. Well, okay, I have two things. One is like Lea, like the other panelists are talking about how, you know, like we need these representations and we need a diversity of representation. So we know that our potential and who we can be is limitless right. As limitless as anybody. But it’s also like, it’s not just about humanizing people of color, humanizing, LGBTQ people. It’s about humanizing the viewer because it’s like, what do you do when you look at a Black person? You say that they’re just a criminal, because that’s all we’ve seen. Like, what does that do to your humanity? Like you’re offering like a myopic view of the world. And you’re projecting that onto somebody else unfairly. And that profoundly affects their psyche, a profoundly affects how they move through the world. And so it’s also about us. Right. I totally had another thought, but then I got emotional. That’s all. Okay. That’s it for now.

Dom P-C:
Awesome. I, yesterday I, participated in an event called Porch Pride and it was a way to celebrate pride, on your porch, in this COVID world. And everybody was, kind of yeah. In their various places. And we came together and I had the opportunity to speak to like, over a hundred of the “Wynonna Earp” fans. And I haven’t connected with them in quite a while. And it was like the perfect, like prep in many ways for this panel to remind myself of the importance of representation, because like, probably over 90% of the people that I spoke to thanked me for the representation. And that’s like, enormous. That was the common theme. And it has been since the very beginning of the “Wynonna Earp” journey has been all around importance of the representation and how had these people not seen Waverly up on screen, they may not have got to the place that they are within themselves and their own life and being able to live authentically.

And I was really, because I’ve, haven’t seen some of these people in a while, but I have met them multiple times, just seeing the transformation that they have been on, like alongside the journey of the show and how far everyone’s come it for me yesterday, it just really showed the, the magic of the medicine of representation and how it can, it literally can change people’s lives and help themselves see more of themselves reflected and therefore able to embody it. Because as you said, Kyle, at the beginning of the panel, it shows what’s possible. And then seeing, oh, hang on a second. I can be with a woman and have a happy ending and it be celebrated and it’s huge. It’s huge.

And it literally changes lives and having those conversations as they just really, reminded me of that. I just wanted to share, before we go onto our next question, which is, how do you think rep, I mean, we have with touching on all of these questions, but, how do you think representation in the media affects how people like you are perceived and interacted with in real life? Has it been hurtful, harmful, or helpful and yeah. And Bianka, go for it.

Bianka Bell:
So short answer all of the above. Bug I will say it’s definitely been hurtful and harmful over everything. If you’ve seen the documentary “Disclosure”, you’ve seen how historically, the portrayal, sorry, I can’t talk today of, of trans and gender nonconforming folks, have been painted in the most negative light. It’s not until recently we have examples, you know, or more authentic examples of trans experiences, you know, where they aren’t the villain of the story or the victim where they’re able to just be people, multidimensional beings.

That said, representation is getting better, but we won’t, we won’t be there fully until transphobia and queer phobia is eradicated, right? Because life imitates art and art imitates life, and they’re not mutually exclusive. So, you know, the same goes for gay and bisexual characters. Growing up for me, it was normal to see gay people being left out of the storylines. Being sidelined, being the rejected, love interests, being the comedic relief with self-deprecating humor, or being killed off, right? Like I think, you know, before the age of like 18, I saw more characters, more gay characters on screen being killed off than not. And that’s sad. I remember being so surprised when I watched like maybe two or three or four consecutive shows where the gay characters were not killed off. And I was like, whoa, like I was bracing myself for something bad to happen, you know? And, and no child should have to watch a show and be afraid that someone that they relate to or relate to more than anybody else is going, has the death sentence. Right? Like while I question the authenticity of the queer experience right now in mainstream media in Hollywood, I think it’s important to note that at least we do have storylines and that’s a start. There is a pathway and I am optimistic, but there is a lot of work to be done.

Dom P-C:
Absolutely. Kyle?

Kyle Chiu:
I would also say that representation profoundly affects every aspect of my life because, and I’m sure, like I’m not the only one who feels this way. Like there’s no instance in which you’re interacting with me where you’re not aware of my Asian-ness, where you’re not aware of my queerness because I’m flaming. And like, I feel like because of that, like the most often, most often the way that I’m interacted with is like, there’s, there’s this concept in like Asian-American studies stuff where it’s like, we talk about ourselves as ghosts sometimes because there’s this conception that we’re not treated with the same level of humanity as others, because we’re passive and dismissible and like kind of like robotic gears in this capitalist system that provides labor. And that is like how Asian Americans came to the U.S. and the first place is through labor. Right.

And so like, it comes for me, especially within the community, in the form of dismissal. Like a lot of times it’s not how people are looking at me. It’s how people aren’t looking at me. And I think one of the most emotionally poignant aspects of that is that it’s hard to prove. It’s hard to say, like, that guy rolls his eyes at me. Like, didn’t respond to me. That guy didn’t hold the door open for me because of my race. Right. There’s so many confounding variables in that. And it’s hard to just point to that one microaggression and say, that’s because of this, but there’s some things that you just know to be true. There’s some things that you just know in your body. And you’re just like, I’m, I’m kind of sick of like gaslighting my own experience because it makes other people uncomfortable.

And like, I know why I’m being treated this way. And a lot of the time when I’m, when I talk about it, I feel like I got a lot of resistance because people are very uncomfortable with that truth. Right? They’re very uncomfortable with that with the fact that we live in a world where people are treated inequitably and that it’s happening under their own watch, that they themselves could be perpetuating that very same thing. So I think one of the hardest things for me is like now as like a 30-something year old, like my brain is fully formed. Like I understand these are just ideas. These are not my ideas. It wasn’t my idea until, I mean, we can make myself into a passive person into a form person to X, Y, Z negative things. Right. But when you’re growing up and when you’re brain is forming, and you’re just gaining your, your understanding of yourself and the world, like you soak that up like a sponge.

And it’s like, when you walk onto a set or when you have a strong opinion and people are like, oh, I’m really surprised that you have that opinion. I’m really, I’m shocked that you’re, this way, it’s like, why are you shocked that I am myself? And a lot of times it just feels like there’s a shadow version of you, which is like stereotypes. And like this multitude of media that like speaks that truth. Right. And I just feel like as a person of color, as a queer person, you’re always in conversation with that. You’re never just yourself. You’re always trying to, to dispel some preconceived notion about this person, right. That has nothing to do with you, like that I’m an opinionated person, that I’m a queer person, that I’m a funny person, and that I have all of these dimensions that this just flattens always. And so I can’t express the level of frustration that comes with that. And that comes with being a part of an industry that continues to perpetuate that. But at the same time, like, I am so grateful for people like Dom and creators, like Sampson who are creating media that like shows all of the corners, like shines a light on all of these experiences that we have yet to see. And so desperately need to, because this is who we are. You know?

Dom P-C:
Absolutely, yep. Sampson, it’s you.

Sampson McCormick:
Hi, y’all. So, okay. So I want to piggyback off of what I said earlier. When I was speaking about, White people controlling the narratives about queer people, queer people of color, everybody who are not in these writers’ rooms. I was about to say “Whiters’” rooms, no pun intended. No, but I, I’m a very, I’m a very honest and blunt person. So if anybody’s listening in and, and you are uncomfortable, please, you know, know, know that this is from the heart. The reason why I have a problem with more people who lived those experiences, not being present in the room to help create. And I think it’s, I think it’s a beautiful thing for us to come together from the different walks of life, you know, but I think when you are telling stories about Black people, when you tell stories about queer people, we need to be in there because we live those experiences and we tell them way more honestly. A lot of the stories that are created are created in bias. And if you don’t believe me, you can look at the news and see how, when a Black person is killed by the police, not only are they killed and not only is their family left without an uncle or a son or a mother or father, but that person is killed and they are put on trial for their own murder. At that point, you are stripping someone of their humanity. And we see that in these stories over and over again, you know, there may be a story written about a Black drug dealer. Sure. There are Black drug dealers. I know quite a few, but they don’t tell the other part of this story about this person being so desperate to support their children because they aren’t able to get a job or because their mother is working three jobs and still not able to make ends meet, that they went out and got involved in and is selling drugs.

And it wasn’t for any violent reasons. It was, they were so desperate to make a living that that was the last option. You know, they don’t show that part that makes you empathize with what their humanity and, and that’s what bothers me, or, you know, they might create a story where a pastor is, you know, he’s homophobic, but he’s sleeping with men. And then they’ll say, oh, well, he got HIV. And now he’s again a criminal for his circumstances. And so that’s, that’s the biggest issue, is the lack of compassion. And I’m not a person who necessarily is upset about racism or any of those things. Like I’m, so at peace with myself, and I know the type of energy that I seek to pour into the world that I can not bring anger. Now I’m going to call it out. That’d be honest so that we can laugh at it and deal with it because it exists.

And one of the most beautiful things that I’ve been able to do is, is, you know, I’ve been doing comedy for the past 20 years as a Black queer comedian. And I don’t just get to perform in LA and New York city. I go to Iowa, I go to Kentucky, I go to Montana, you know, places where there are plenty of other Black gay people, you know, and I’m able to have conversations with people who don’t share the experience, but the most beautiful thing is by the time they leave that theater and we have laughed together, you know, they understand that we’re more alike than we are different. And I don’t think we strive hard enough to do that in media. And we need to.

Dom P-C:
Absolutely. Thank you, and Lea, over to you.

Lea Robinson:
So I think that, I think we’ve okay. I think we’ve come a long way. I mean, I remember, you know, as an actor seeing calls for like, man dressed as woman killed in the alleyway for like one of the, in, you know, New York City, like that show that, duh duh duh duh you know, a lot of you’re on that show. Yes. Thank you. And now we’ve come a little bit further where there’s actually, the language is actually being used, right. There are calls for like trans identified folks. I really love what was said earlier around this idea of, you know, like this representation, but the representation gets killed in the first five minutes, right. Or, or, you know, we have this, like this, person’s really telling their story and narrative and they get killed and that does send a message of, oh, shit, you know, I’m going to get killed.

There’s this gloom and doom kind of like fear it, reiterates that fear, reaffirms that fear, right. For viewers and for folks who are living that experience. But I want to say specifically, as a, as a trans actor, I have to be really careful about roles. Right. I have to go a little bit deeper. I see, like, it’s so exciting, first of all, to be a trans actor in this industry and actually see calls for trans actors. Right. First of all, that’s like, let’s go! Right?. But then there’s another step. So there’s a way that I have to like dig a little bit deeper and see, what is, what is this project? Is it about some sort, is it an, an empowerment story or is it some sort of someone else’s stereotype or idea of what a trans person is, that’s going to be put on the screen and then murdered off or some sort of demonization.

Right. So it’s like, we have to be really, really careful. We have to be really selective. There is a great benefit to this like inclusivity that seems to be happening more like, but what is it actual, what’s the attention, right? What is the intention behind this role? Do the folks who are doing this project really understand what the differences between, you know, being a trans woman and being a drag queen, you know what I’m saying? I’ve had so many experiences where it’s like, well, yeah, we’ll just get a drag queen. And I’m like, that’s not the same thing. What is it that you want? What are you looking for? What’s the story you’re telling? And do I want to be even having this conversation right now? You know what I’m saying? Like it’s really tricky and it’s actually been helpful for me as a writer as well.

And I was current, I was recently working on this piece, of working on this piece about, this couple, this Black queer couple, one person is trans identified and transitioning, trans masculine, you know, making the transition and their partner is a Black femme woman. Black identified woman. And I started telling this story and I realized I’m not a Black femme woman. So how do I tell her story? Do I make some sort of assumptions about how she would navigate the situation? Sure. I can pull from my own personal experience in relationships and conversations I’ve had with past partners about transitioning and what that would mean for her and what that would mean for us as a couple. But do I really understand the experience of a Black woman, a Black queer film woman? No. And how do I, how do I make sure I’m being authentic?

That’s my responsibility to make sure I’m not telling a story that’s not authentic. And how I choose to do that is then around more intentionality of talking to folks, they can show them that folks aren’t feeling like they have to educate Lea about this or feeling like they’re a part of this conversation, et cetera, et cetera. But I was just kind of thinking with this question about, yeah. What does it mean to finally have these types of leads, these characters in the world? And are we being intentional about how we’re putting these characters into the world and what we’re auditioning for and what we’re taking or not taking? You know, so that was a kind of a long answer to that, but that’s what was going on for me thinking about this particular question.

Dom P-C:
I really appreciate that. And, I’m curious how often, when you’re firstly, two questions, two follow up questions there, if you wouldn’t mind, speaking to them, like how often do you have to turn things down because they don’t feel aligned? And how do you have those conversations? Is it you personally, or is it like, do you ask your agent to talk about it or do you just go straight to the creators? How do you, how you make that call, you know, whether it makes sense for you?

Lea Robinson:
That’s a great question. So as a living, I do work around implicit bias, explicit bias, microaggressions, stereotypes. So I, I do this all the time. I always have these conversations around, you know, impact, around discrimination, around inclusion and diversity. So it’s like, I do have, I do have the tools to do that. Right. So when it kind of happens, I’m always kind of, kind of aware of what’s happening in there. Awareness is peak. So I’m asking questions, but I’ve had to turn down a couple of roles for that reason, you know, and my agents are really great. You know, that the key for me is having my agent and my manager work closely together. And in the beginning it took a conversation between us, what I want and what I don’t want, what I’ll do and what I won’t do. Right. Regardless of if it’s completely dry and I haven’t had an audition in a month, what will I do and what will I not do? Right.

So I have those two who are battling for me and they may come to me and say, Lea, there’s this role. They are looking for a trans person. It doesn’t say trans men or trans woman. You’re looking for a trans person. Do you want me to submit you, right? And you can interpret it, interpret that as, as you want to interpret it. And my question is like, well, what’s this project, who are these people and what do you think? Like, can you ask some more questions and they’ll do that. Something interesting that’s been happening lately. That’s happened a few times in the past month or so is this this call for trans women, but then asking me if I want to play trans women. Okay. And that’s been like a direct, like outreach from like casting folks, not through my manager and agent and you know, a couple of times, you know, because I identify as trans, I identify as two spirit.

You know, I was raised by my grandmother in Kentucky. I have both. And I feel like I have both male and female in my body. Right now, I am masculine. That’s who I am. Oh, and as I’m getting older. That is I, they and them, he and him oversee her any day. Right. I had to really think about, and these were some big projects, right? I had to really think about what was their intention and am I willing to do this? Am I willing to, to do that? And the answer, I, I dug a little deeper with one, you know, I can either, I was able to communicate directly with this person. And what she was looking for was problematic in a couple of ways, you know, it was like the woman on “Good Times”. And I was just like, this is problematic in so many ways.

And what happened with me was I had to just really be like, first of all, no, I’m not going to do that because that’s not who I am. That’s not how I identify. But more importantly, there are trans women out here who need that opportunity. And I’m a big trans activist. What am I going to look like doing a trans role that a trans woman? And I’m sure I could put some sort of spin on it and make it fluid and make it if that’s what they’re looking for. But if they’re looking for a trans woman, go find one of these amazing trans women, I could give you a couple of names and cast them because this role is for them. This role is not for me. And it took me a minute to get like, that’s the, that’s the integrity. I’m getting warm because I get it’s really emotional for me, but that’s the integrity. That’s super important for me with these roles. It’s hard to not get a role and to not see yourself being asked for in this world, in this industry. But when they come along, you still have to have some sort of pause and intention and integrity about it. So I was able to be like, absolutely not. And this is what y’all should do with this role. There are a lot of trans women who would be amazing for this role. And here a couple of names, you know, unless it’s problematic. And then I’m just saying, thank you. But no. Yeah.

Dom P-C:
And going off that, and maybe if anybody else has had a similar experience, they could also speak to it. When you’re in a situation where it is problematic. And so you decide to turn a role down because of that reason, are you communicating that to the creatives so that they are aware? Because I think a sense, like I’ve been in situations where I’ve auditioned for something and it just doesn’t feel in integrity at all for, for what I want to do. I haven’t communicated that with them and somebody else is going to come in and play the role. You know, this part is still going to be created and that’s still going to be problematic for the viewers that are watching. It’s still out there. So wonder if there’s a way of communicating that to the creators in a way that is respectful, but it’s, it’s really, you know, staying in integrity. As you’re saying.

Lea Robinson:
I have something to say, but I’ll let someone else jump in first.

Sampson McCormick:
I just I’ll say, you know, that’s on one hand and it’s really good to hear people talk about integrity. Oh my God, we got some golden nuggets on here. Oh my God, integrity. Oh my Lord. On the other hand, a lot of times, you might not get a call at all because there there’s usually not much work for us. And so, you know, we are tasked with creating those stories. And then a lot of times struggling to A. get the funding to make the story and bring it to the screen and then B. get an audience to support it enough so that we can get some traction behind it to be able to create more stories. So it’s there, this is this on one side, you know, the work is so scarce for, for many folks that, and it’s really huge to put integrity in front of that. That is kind of like you kind of have to fit yourself into that box or on the other side kind of struggled in that have been working, figuring out how to, how to work around that.

Bianka Bell:
And also, sorry, just, yeah. In context of this conversation, I, it’s also important to understand, like Sampson said how limited certain roles are for certain groups of people there. I have not seen many casting calls for trans woman or Black trans women specifically because as an actor, you see casting calls and you’ll see they list every other race, including ethnically ambiguous except for Black. Right. So I can imagine it’s the same thing for trans woman. But it’s even more scarce. So, you know, while I think it’s ideal to be selective with certain roles, I think there’s a lot of people out there that don’t really have the opportunity to, you know, if they make a living off their acting or if that is a huge part of their supplemental income, I can’t really fault them for hustling. You know what I mean? Cause we’re, we’re all. But I think, I think if you have that privilege and you’re exercising that integrity, because you have the privilege of exercising it, that’s wonderful. And, and I commend you for doing that Lea cause that’s really important.

Lea Robinson:
Yeah. Thank you. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not out here like no, no, no. I got it going on so no, you know, it took me a long time to get to a point where, and it was hard. It was hard because you’re right. I probably see something that’s a fit for me not very often to be really honest, you know? And it, when it comes across, it’s like a blue moon when it comes across. But I have come to a place, it’s been such a challenge to walk into rooms and try to get someone to see me and try to find something for me, you know, that would fit me. It’s been so hard that I’ve had to figure it out and be like, this is how I have to do it. You know? And, and you’re right. It is a privilege.

It is a privileged role, right? I do have a manager and an agent who can get me in those spaces. I’m SAG-AFTRA so I can get into those spaces, it may take a little bit longer, but I have privilege there. So I can say, no, actually I won’t take that role because that’s, that’s what that should be for a trans woman. And here’s how to find some of those actors. Right. And Dom, to your question around having those conversations, it depends. No, it depends. If I’m in a space to educate somebody or not about the shit to be honest with you, but most of the time I am. And if it’s someone that I’ve had a couple talks with and we’re going back and forth, I may be able to say, look, listen, this is not a good role for me. And this is why now. Now if you’re looking for this, this, and this, these are the folks you need to be talking to.

But if you looking for that, that, and that it’s kind of a problematic that you would make a call for this, right. There are some folks who it’s so far out there that I just, it would be self-harm for me to try to like, have that conversation with them, if that makes any sense. And I’ve had that experience where I was just like, that’s not what I am, but don’t you do both? You’re both. Right. I mean, you know, like, aren’t you like a transvestite? This is first of all, do a little more research before you’re making a, something about someone’s life that you have no idea about. So, and that was some guy from like, he was, he was, I think he was in the Ukraine or something and he was trying to work on this project and bring it to San Francisco. And somehow he got my picture off of backstage, I think, and was like, trying to like recruit me for this role. And then it became, why don’t you consult me? And it was just too much. It was didn’t feel right. You know? So I didn’t, I stepped away from that. So sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Dom P-C.
Good for you. So I, yeah, my experience with “Wynonna Earp”, it came at a time when, came at a time when there had been a string of characters, killed off in TV, shows one after the next, after the next, after the next. And it was only through living the experience and being in “Wynonna Earp” and talking to the fans that I really learned about the effects of that and how destructive that is for people that are watching and, what that, what that speaks to you and what that, what that tells them. And yeah, I just remember like countless conversations about people that were genuinely scared to attach themselves to the characters that we were portraying. It was like, they, they wanted to, they wanted so much to love these characters, but they were protecting themselves. And actually, they were like, when they would approach us, it would, there would be this level of like, they almost have to say it like, yeah, but is this going to go in the same direction? Like, how can we trust you? And I remember feeling right, was just…

Kyle Chiu:
That’s so deep, so deep that like, we can’t even attach ourselves to people, there’s like a reticence to, because we’re like, how long are you going to be with us?

Dom P-C:
Yeah, exactly, exactly. And it was like totally heartbreaking to see. And it was really, you know, hats off to Emily and that she just spoke to it. Emily’s the show runner of “Wynona Earp” and she just kept saying over and over again, and like reassuring them that like we were going to do it differently. And we assure you that, the story is going to be, is going to be done well. And, and that you aren’t going to have the same fate that you’ve seen over this past year, but it was huge. It was really like a pivotal moment for the community, especially the SYFY queer community that were watching. And so I wondered if anybody wanted to speak to queerbaiting and the killing off of characters in the media.

Bianka Bell:
I guess I’ll, I’ll start. I know I touched on it a little bit in a prior question. And I, and I know happens less now. Cause I think there’s been a little bit more conversations about that sort of thing, and how it affects the audiences. But it does still happen and I think like some show runners, like get it, they’re, you know, they’re like in their own interpersonal lives and relationships, they are compassionate people. They understand the context of queer characters being killed off or sidelined and they stand up for it. Like your, your show runner, Emily. I think, you know, yeah. I think why I was thinking about it earlier and “Wynonna Earp” is like the perfect example of like that not happening for one of like the first times. Like I was actually, when I was watching, I was actually able to immerse myself in the relationship of Waverly and Nicole, because I felt confident that they would be okay.

But I remember so many times in the past watching, like, like I said, when I was a teen watching shows, like I would just expected something bad to happen. Like I was literally tensed up expecting something bad to happen to one of my favorite characters. I think like at the end of the day, some executives see queer people as disposable, right? Like they’re just the vessel to a bigger, better, storyline for the cis het protagonist. Right. I think it’s really, and this is it’s super irresponsible. And I think like, you know, it’s hard, it’s hard to say what the solution is to this, right. Like I think only, only time will tell. And I think it’s kind of like a learning curve and some people are just way behind the curve. I was thinking about like, okay, well, how do we fix this?

And I think it also like leads into like supporting indie art and indie film, right? Because you, you want the accurate, you want someone who is actually having that lived experience to, and who cares about the wellbeing of their characters. Like for some reason I have writer friends who are queer and not queer and look the way that queer characters like attach them or writers attach themselves to their queer characters is like, I mean, exponentially more intimate, the way they talk about their characters, like the way that they infuse their own personal anecdotes and contexts into those characters. I just think that’s beautiful and I think, you know, like just another point to why we need to be supporting independent, queer and POC creators.

Dom P-C:
Absolutely. Sampson, I see you’ve got your hand up.

Sampson McCormick:
Yes. Hold on. Okay. Yeah. Oh shoot. Hold on. There we go. So one of the things that I also wanted to bring up that I think is worth exploring too, is the fact that this isn’t just, these are just issues that exist in the larger, you know media community, but also in the queer film community, because there are some content creators who will contact Black queer actors and some of the scripts will reinforce racial stereotypes and queer stories as well. For instance, I got a story when, and, and it was one of those times I was really looking for work. You know, I was, I was hustling. I was selling chicken dinners. I was doing whatever I could to make me a couple of dollars and I got this script. So I’m really excited to get it. I’m like, oh my God, work!

And I read it and it’s still in my email. One of the first lines was, give me the big Black cock and I clicked off of it. And I wrote him back and I, I gave him a few choice words and it was really, it really opened my eyes, you know, because a lot of people think that just because we’re in the queer community, that a lot of the issues that exist in the larger world don’t exist in our community. And they do. One solid example is if you get on dating apps, if you get on Grindr and a White male, he gonna tell you how you feel about you or your skin color. And so that translates into the scripts. So that’s something that we should be aware of.

Dom P-C:
Anybody else want to chime in?

Kyle Chiu:
So the original question is about queerbaiting and like the concept of hinting at queer characters’ relationships on screen without explicitly committing to that. Right. And I feel like maybe like in the larger container of this conversation, representation, race, sexuality, everything, it is entirely about power and politics and entirely like a great example of this is like the Tulsa massacre. I don’t know if you all have the same IGP it’s that I do, but it’s like, they like burned down Black wall street and like all of these like thriving Black communities in Tulsa, and we don’t know about it. And why don’t we know about it because the people who are writing the history books did not want us to know about that. Right. The same thing goes with film. And so I feel like the biggest argument that is brought up in the film industry with this is like, we’re afraid that something is going to flop, right?

So we don’t want to have like a queer Black character because I don’t know people are going to be able to relate to that. Like we could just have like, Renee Zellweger do it instead of like Scarlett Johannson. And it’s like, it is dangerous to have general audiences identifying with queer characters, identifying with Black characters, because as we’ve discussed, we all have blind spots. Right. I don’t know what it’s like to be Black. I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, to be White. Right. And so no one person should have the comprehensive power to tell everyone else’s story. Because if that happens, what’s going to happen is people are going to write screenplays that start off with, give me that big Black cock. Right. And like, we’re not going to be able to hear from that Black person. And so it’s like a great example of this is like, I’m assuming you all have seen “101 Dalmatians” and then they just made “Cruella”.

Right. And “101 Dalmatians”… She was on one, oh my gosh. Like she was like, just like trying to get that fur coat. And then at the end, yeah. She literally drove off of a road and her eyes were just yellow spirals. Like she was CRAY. Right. But what y’all didn’t know is that someone killed her mom and that that person owned dalmatians. Right. And that there’s like a trigger there and there is trauma there. Right. And so that extra context is crucial. Right. And that extra context is humanizing. That extra context is absent for people like us. And so we are flattened to these like plot devices. Right. And the same thing goes with like queerbaiting. It’s like entirely political that I feel like there’s like so much fear and panic around the idea that like I do drag queen story hour, which is like, I’m a drag queen and and I read children’s stories to kids. Right. And the religious right loves to eat that up. They’re just like, oh, you’re trying to like molest these kids. You’re trying to like indoctrinate them and like turn everyone gay. And like, we both don’t, we all know that’s not how that works. Right. But like, there’s so much of a fear of these kids identifying with queerness that they, their, their solution is to censor altogether. We’re just like, you just can’t be around them. We’re just going to cut off your story. We’re just, it’s just erasure. That is our, that is our solution. And so it’s like, I feel like the reason queerbaiting happens is because they want to be able to check a box. They want queer money, they want our money. Right. And so they want us to watch it.

And at the same time, they don’t want to alienate like the general population who might not agree with our lifestyle or whatever. And so it’s like, you can’t have both, you know, like we want to be humanized and we want to pay for content that humanizes us. And at the same time, like it is long past due for creators to take a stance and to suffer the consequences of that. Like for anybody who is wondering if Black stories or Asian stories need to be told, it’s like, look at “Black Panther” That was bananas at the box office. There were little kids who I was teaching who were like wearing “Black Panther” shirts, like of all colors, right. Who are identifying with that and were just like, I want to go to Wakanda. It’s like, don’t we all. Like, “Crazy Rich Asians”, that was huge. Like launched Awkwafina, like to a new level.

You know what I mean? This is not about money. This is about like this psychology of relating to and identifying with any other experience, except for like cis White maleness. And they know that, they know how dangerous it is. And because it is so dangerous, it is also so powerful. And that is where we creators come in because our voices are needed and are necessary. And don’t you ever mistake for a second that the lack of diverse media is the same thing as a lack for a desire for diverse media, because we are hungry for it. That’s all!

Dom P-C:
Anybody else who hasn’t spoken to this, Lea you good? Okay. Wow. Okay. So this is, this next question is about what’s going on behind the scenes. So not what the viewers are seeing at home, but what we’re experiencing behind the camera. Do you believe that the representation that we’re seeing on screen is equally portrayed behind the scenes within the film and TV industry? And do you think the industry runs, but do you think the way that the industry runs behind the scenes fully supports you?

Bianka Bell:
So I know, I know we talked, in the question it’s phrased as like, you know, do you believe that representation, offscreen, reflects the representation onscreen? And so we basically, identified that the representation onscreen is not great. So I guess, yes, it does reflect, but is it good? No. Like I said, there are folks in the industry who do, go out of their way to try to make sets comfortable and accessible and who are kind and compassionate people.

Yes. Those people exist, but there are a lot of people who are not like that. And I think in the fast paced of the, you know, the television industry in particular, television and commercial, no one cares necessarily to take the time, to get to know you, to get to know who you are, that things are buzzing back and forth. Like you’re put in your, your trailer or your room, or like, or holding whatever. And, you know, like you put the first people you meet are like the makeup artists, the wardrobe stylist. Like recently I did a commercial and it was in San Francisco and the directions like to get there were like, confusing enough. So I finally get there and I’m like, oh my God, am I in the right place? I think I spot the producer. No one’s saying anything to me.

Like, I’m like walking on set. Like I, you know, and for me, like my defense mechanism is I’m always going to look confident and know, look what, like, I know what I’m doing, even if I don’t. So I’m just like walking, like parading the streets of San Francisco. And like, I finally, I walk up to someone and I was like, Hey, is this the so-and-so shoe? And they’re like, oh yeah. Are you Bianka? And I’m like, yeah. And like this, this one guy is pretty nice. So he’s like, okay. Yeah, the trailers over here. So he brings me to the trailer. No one else says a word. Like people are just like looking, but no one says a word. I go get in the trailer. I’m sitting there waiting for the makeup artists. Like no one said again, like people come in and out of the trailer and no one says anything.

Finally the makeup artist comes in. She’s really sweet, really nice but we’re kind of like secluded off to the side. No one really like interacts with us. And then I get to the back of the trailer where the wardrobe stylist was. And so she was really nice. And then she kinda like, she was, she was the person that showed me the most warmth, I think like, and she like showed me around the set. She like told me kind of like what was going on. And after that, like people slowly started interacting with me, but there were times where I would like be off to the side and like, literally I’m the only Black person here. I failed to mention that I’m the only Black person in this vicinity. I’m the only Black actor. And then I’m, everyone else is White. There’s like maybe one or two Asian people working behind the scenes. So that was just a really awkward experience. And it wasn’t the worst experience I’ve ever had, but by any means, but it was recent and it was just uncomfortable.

And what I think happened was they thought that I was intimidating because I’ve been told before by a lot of White folks that I come off as intimidating. I’m an intimidating person now, as you can see, I’m like a total goofball. I get my words mixed up. Like every other sentence. I’m not an intimidating person, but, but it’s just weird because like they saw confident Black woman and they didn’t know how to interact with me. And I think that’s due in part to how, you know, these types of interactions and relationships are portrayed on screen. Like, you can be a confident person, but you don’t have to be a bitch.

You know what I mean? You don’t have to be a mean, you don’t have to be cruel, you don’t have to be intimidating. I think that’s just, I think a trope that I noticed with Black women on television, so I’m like, okay, well clearly they don’t, they don’t work with a lot of Black folks. So it just made for the whole situation to like, be uncomfortable now. Conversely, when I went on my first day on set to “Chosen Fam”, completely different, I mean, things were buzzing. Things, it’s an indie set, so it was like extra busy. But the first scene we had was like at a music venue. So it was like a really cool, like little like DIY, like little spot. And, you know, there’s some at back alleyway in San Francisco and I knew nobody, but I saw people of different shades of different colors, of different presentations.

Instantaneously I felt more at ease, like, like just implicitly, just looking around like the stark feeling between like seeing all those White people on set in San Francisco and just seeing like these, this group, the sea of diversity, onset of “Chosen Fam” just put me in a better head space. And I, and I know that has nothing to like, no one can control, you know, their skin color, who they are. And I’m not saying the problem was the Whiteness, but it was just how I felt because I’ve been in uncomfortable positions because of my race. Right. So like, and that, and I think like the conversations on set of “Chosen Fam”, they opened up easier because everyone was less intimidated because everyone had met people like each other before. So, it was just a wonderful experience. You guys have to watch “Chosen Fam” when it comes out, I’m just so excited for it.

But I just want to work on more projects like that. The only way we can is by like community support and, and crowdfunding. So make sure y’all, if you have queer creator friends, or POC, creator, friends support their work, amplify it. If you can’t donate, share their campaign, give it visibility. We need more visibility. That is just the main thing. We have all the, we have the smarts, we have the creativity, we need the resources. And that comes by being seen once we are seen as marketable, right? Let’s like, I hate that term, but like, let’s be real to business. But once we are seen as marketable because we are seen, we can do amazing things. So sorry, tangent.

Dom P-C:
Yeah, absolutely support, support, support, and definitely check out “Chosen Fam”. I’m so excited. It’s going to be amazing. Alrighty. Anyone else feel called to speak to that question?

Kyle Chiu:
Yeah. I just wanted to time check too. I know we were at 7:30. Is it okay if I let it go?

Dom P-C:
Yeah. I mean, I have, what time are we set? We are set. Oh, I see, we are going to have to do a part two, Bianka. We’re going to have to do part two, so many amazing things said absolutely. Go for it, Kyle.

Kyle Chiu:
Thank you. I mean, first of all, thank you, Bianka. I’m so glad you felt that way. Like it’s music to my ears. I’ll keep it short. I’m not an actor like officially, so, I haven’t been on set and I can’t speak to that except for like my own sets, but I also wanted to dive deeper into like tokenization and like what it might mean to have representation and not in a meaningful way necessarily. Like, I’m assuming a lot of us are queer here. I don’t know if that’s like an appropriate read or not, but like, we all know what it’s like to look at LinkedIn or like online and like everyone and their mom is like turning their logos into like rainbows. Right? Like Google’s doing it, Facebook, everyone like rainbows everywhere. Right. And then we all know that like after June it’s going to disappear and like, they’re not necessarily going to be asking for drag queens, not necessarily going to be asking for people like Dom or Lea or Sampson or Bianka to speak.

Right. And it’s like very pride specific about this is even happening right now. And like, I feel like that can replicate itself in the film industry as well. Like absolutely. Like a good example of that is “Kim’s Convenience” that Netflix show, which centers on a Korean Canadian family who owns a corner store, like they had prided themselves on having Korean voices in there, like Ins Choi. But after they announced their last season an actor came out, Jean Yoon and was like, we were treated like shit. And like a lot of our voices were silenced. Like we were there in the room, we were present, but it was like, one of us were White. And when we brought something up, it was like summarily dismissed, like our ideas. Right. And I also think it’s ironic and kind of poetic that the one non-Asian person is getting a spinoff show and everyone else is getting discontinued.

And so it kind of brings us back to this idea that we’re talking about between Dom and Lea, where we’re asking you to like, what do you do with these roles that are problematic that you get? And like, do you let the creators know? And it’s like, yes, that is an important piece of the puzzle. Right? Like letting them know, like, by the way, this is messed up. Like, you should look at this differently, but it’s also like pointing to a bigger system of things, right? Like there is a whole industry that does not want to lose its specific type of power. And it reminds me of like this MLK quote, I know he’s like over quoted and diluted, but like, it was like he was saying justice or freedom is never like given voluntarily, but it must be demanded. Right. And so all of the people who want to see a change are going to be met with resistance when we go to the writer’s room.

And when we asked for Korean voices, like there’s going to be resistance and we need to expect that. Right. Like, just because we bring the spotlight to injustice, doesn’t mean it’s going to be just like overturned overnight. And so when we think about just like diversity behind the scenes, like this absolutely replicates itself and going to Bianka’s point, this is why it’s important to support independent artists because these people do not have the same sort of monetary ties to it and the same high stakes and the same, the same, like we’re not coming from the same world, you know? And so that’s why these projects are important also. Thanks for what you said about “Chosen Fam”.

Dom P-C:
Thank you. Just being mindful of time to the panelists here, how we doing? I know we said that it was going to be an hour and a half, but we’re already five minutes over. Do we have another 10 minutes just to wrap this up or, yeah. Okay, cool. Thank you. Just got so sucked into your answers, but I just decided that time wasn’t a thing. Any, any Sampson or Lea, do you want to chime in with that one?

Lea Robinson:
If I could chime in on one just really quickly. I’ve been on a couple of different sets. Some that were like commercial, where it was like, no one really cared. You may even get a loan and you may have to say for me personally, no makeup, please. I don’t wear makeup. This is how I, this is what I wear. You know, it’s like a challenge, right. There are other sets that I’ve been on. Like “Chosen Fam” that’s just ridiculously amazing. Right? It’s just everything that’s already been super supportive. It’s, you know, pronouns are on point. It’s just a great experience. And I was recently on set in LA, it’s kind of a big deal. I can’t really talk about it cause it hasn’t aired yet all that, but it was the, one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. And because it’s from top down, it’s about being inclusive from top down.

It’s about pronouns from top down from the writers. Like, like it’s just, that’s what it is, period. And the entire cast from the actors to makeup to camera for everybody. If someone got a pronoun wrong for me, I would just, you know, like that them now. And they were like trying, you know what I’m saying? Some of them picked it up. The two actors that I was doing the same with picked it up some didn’t and it was jarring what had happened, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t like vengeful or it was, folks were trying. So I say that to say that there are some places in the industry that folks are trying, they really want to, to do that. They really want to be inclusive and for folks to feel welcome. I think it comes from like, it was just a culture from top, like the writer to everybody.

And I think that she did a really great job of, those are the people she wants in the project. So those are the people that are there, right. It’s folks who may not know, but are open to knowing, you know, and may mess it up. Like we always do sometimes, we all mess things up, but are open to being like I’m going to try, you know? So that gave me some hope, you know, in the fact that no folks are trying, maybe it’s more about education and awareness, you know, how can we talk about, you know, implicit bias and microaggressions and how it lands and how it can be harmful. And I think that folks want to be better, but I just think it’s a culture it’s kind of a culture shift. And like, you know, it was mentioned earlier, but things are happening so fast that it’s like, I’m sorry, it’s pronouns, but action. You know what I’m saying? So I think it’s a culture change, but I think that there’s hope. And this last thing that I experienced a few weeks ago was so much gratitude, a blessing, and gave me a lot of hope for no, actually there’s progress being made and we can continue to do that. So yeah.

Kyle Chiu:
That’s so great to hear.

Dom P-C:
Yeah. Wow. Gives us hope for the future. Yeah. It’s a breath of fresh air. Well, congratulations on your project. We look forward to it. Okay. So it’s clear that like this conversation, we’ve obviously got a long way to go. What would be your call to action? If we can all keep it relatively succinct, you can get through everyone. What would be your call to action to creators this time in the history of media?

Bianka Bell:
For me it would just be, make your stuff, go to your community, to for support and community, show up. I mean, there there’s as independent creators. There’s very little, we have control over like in the grand scheme of things, but we do have autonomy. Right. And we do have tenacity, so just go at it, you know? If you are a friend, if you are a part of the community or if you were an ally, you need, you need to give your, your community visibility. And the best way to do that is just sharing on social media. Like finances are one thing, but like visibility is just as important when we’re talking about creative endeavors. So, just support.

Dom P-C:

Kyle Chiu:
I would say to be bold and unapologetic and unrelenting in what you have to say, and if it scares the shit out of you to say it, it probably means you need to say it. You know what I mean? Just, just say, what is true to you. And I know that sounds so cheesy, but it’s like, it’s easy to fold to the pressures and it’s easy to sanitize or to dilute it, to make people comfortable. But don’t because if you were feeling it, then there are, there are others. We feel it as well. And we’re dying to hear from you.

Dom P-C:
Beautiful. Sampson?

Sampson McCormick:
It’s so much to say, but I will summarize it all by saying, don’t be afraid to tell the truth. On one hand, I’m happy that as a society, we don’t let people get away with being assholes which is important though. You don’t have to be an asshole, but at the same time, it’s very important for you to call things out and call it like it is. We need people, especially who look like us and people who know better to tell the truth. So we can have a conversation about it. Being afraid, sweeping it under the rug, isn’t going to do anything but complicated, even more and make people want passive aggressive with their biases and their racism and their homophobia and all that other stuff or in the resources, call it out when you see it. And for the people who know better lead by example, and for the people who have the tenacity, who have the courage, have the strength, stay motivated, stay inspired.

What we do is not easy. You know, I’ve been doing this now for two decades and sometimes I’m just like why? I want to move to Alabama and get me a man who likes to eat corn bread. So I can make him a big ol’ pile of corn bread every night, to get a baby and a dog and just be done with it. I am so freaking tired, but I know how important it is for us to do what we do. I believe that we all have purpose and this is our purpose. And that if we stick to it, no matter how hard or how challenging it may be, we will get everything that we need. And we will tell the stories and do work that will create the links so that our generations will be able to move forward. So that’s what it’s about is just really sticking to it, being strong and not being afraid to tell the truth and having faith in everything we do and each other.

Dom P-C:
Thank you.

Lea Robinson:
I will just quickly say thank you to everyone. This has been fantastic. Thank you, Dom. You’ve held this space and this container with such duty, ease, and just great energy. So thank you for that. I would say make the work, be the only one in the room. And I love what was said before that, you know, like if you have the energy, the endurance, if you have the strength to do the work and be the only one in the room, do that, because that’s going to pay the way for others who may not be ready to do that, right? Get yourself a team, people around you care about what you’re doing, who support you, help, be on someone’s team, okay. Support each other. Right. And then the last piece is, you know, support the work, support each other. And when you get there and you are in a position of success and privilege, have some integrity, bring others along, use that privilege, use that voice to make sure others have the opportunities, right? So it’s a, it’s a practice and we’re in it for the long haul. So let’s take care of each other and put the work out there and it’s hard, but we can do it. We can do it. Thank you all.

Dom P-C:
Well said. Well, we have officially gone 15 minutes over and we do not have time for audience questions. Apologies. If you were hoping to ask one of these beautiful humans, a question, we’ll have to do a part two or something. Cause there’s so many things to say clearly. But I just want to close up by just saying such a big thank you to each and every one of you that is here today.

Sampson McCormick:
Well Dom, not to cut you off. I think we should all get to tell folks how to keep in contact with us so they can see our work.

Dom P-C:
A hundred percent great idea.

Sampson McCormick:
Oh, well, I’ll go first. Instagram, follow me on Instagram @sampsonmccormick. Sampson McCormick is just my name, @sampsonmccormick on Instagram. You know, lots of positive energy, lots of comedy, Black representation, really good stuff. And also if you have Amazon prime check out my newest film called “Love the One You’re With”, it’s an hour that you’ll be happy you spent looking at it.

Dom P-C:

Bianka Bell:
I guess I’ll go next. My Instagram is @kidartoffical. Kid art official quite literally. For Black X you can follow us, @Blackxfilmfest on Instagram. And then our website is Our festival will be September 17th through the 19th this year, and make sure to follow us because we do a lot of, you know, interaction with our audience. We have a couple panels planned out and we’re going to be doing some in-person events. So, yeah, stay tuned.

Dom P-C:
Nice. Kyle?

Kyle Chiu:
I’ll put it in the chat, but my drag name is Panda Dulce and “Chosen Fam” series is my first film that Bianka and Lea, I have the pleasure of working with on, also just want to say, thank, piggyback off of what Lea said, like when you get up there and bring other people up to you and like, Dom, you’re doing that. So thank you for doing that.

Dom P-C:
Thank you for reflection. I appreciate it. I’ll also make sure to put all of the, your contact and your Instagram and everything in the caption for the YouTube video. So people will be able to find you through that.

Lea Robinson:
Yeah. Okay. I just put mine also in the chat box. It’s your boy, this is a complicated, yeah. It’s @Ya.boi.lrobbie30. So you can also find me, Lea Robinson. Thank you.

Dom P-C:
Nice. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for your time today. You’re, you have just such incredible minds. The things that have been said here today is so important and you’re such courageous trailblazers within the industry, and it’s super inspiring and gives me hope for the future of TV and film. So everyone watching, make sure that you support these beautiful humans and lift them up, amplify, share, spread the word, all that stuff in every way that you possibly can. In Start The Wave news just before I jump off, just to say that we have just closed our second round of funding, and we’re in the process of reviewing those applications to be able to support some really awesome grassroots initiatives that are bringing a new world. So that also is hopeful news and we need some sometimes, right? So, if you haven’t heard of us before, make sure you check out and on Instagram @start_the_wave. Thank you so much. Happy pride to everybody, celebrate yourselves. That’s everything from me. Bianka, do you want to say a couple of closing words? How are you doing over there?

Bianka Bell:
Just really privileged to have had this space to talk. And thank you, Dom for being open to this. I know, so funny how, like the last few months have transpired, I just like sent an email to Start The Wave and like all this stuff started.

Dom P-C: And we were like yeah, that sounds amazing! Are you kidding me?

Bianka Bell:
I’m really grateful and thank you all for tuning in for this really important conversation. And I looked through the chat and it seems like we have folks from different backgrounds, so that’s really cool. I hope it resonated with you all.Black X, please support Black X. We are crowdfunding right now for our 2021 festival. If you can’t donate, that’s fine, but if you could share a campaign, that’s cool too and just stay in the loop with us on social media because we are doing some cool stuff.

Dom P-C:
Absolutely. All right. Have an amazing evening, everyone. Thanks again until next time.

Kyle Chiu:
Until next time, thank you so much.

Lea Robinson:
Thank you all so much. Thank you for being here.

Representation matters, but why is it so incredibly important that we keep pushing forward for our social growth on this planet we call home. The media that we consume directly impacts the way that we see the world; our place in it, and the way we judge and understand other cultures and communities. For so long now we’ve been seeing the same thing characters on our TV screens or in theaters, predominantly white males, so that’s who we learned about. But what about all the rest of humanity? Are their stories any less important? If you don’t see yourself represented in the media, it could lead you to believe that perhaps you are unimportant or invisible. There’s even a term for it, ‘symbolic annihilation’, but it makes sense, right? If you never see your story told it could lead you to believe that you’re the only one out there experiencing it. Which could be incredibly lonely.

When the same voices are being heard over and over again, the conversation never progresses and the world is never challenged. Representation brings fresh ideas to the table. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the reaction from fans to Waverly Earp, it’s the representation creates relatable, powerful role models and sources of inspiration, which is vital for the confidence and growth of minorities. I mean, just seeing how many young females have had the courage to come out because they’ve seen Waverly’s journey is cement proof of that. The other thing I’ve learned about representation is that it has to be done right! There’s no point just sticking someone in a TV show, just for the sake of it, you know, to tick a box. If anything, that can be more damaging. For the underrepresented, seeing someone that looks like them, but is inauthentic or one dimensional can actually have very negative and limiting effects. If that character is restricted to only acting in certain ways, you know, ways which, which don’t reflect the reality of their actual life’s experiences, it might make them wonder if perhaps that’s all that is asked of them in society. 

But listen, representation is slowly but surely getting there. And although sometimes it may not feel like we’re moving fast enough, there is optimism in the future of media and its portrayal of minorities. Wynonna Earp, for example, can give us hope for the future. I couldn’t be prouder to play a strong, female, queer character and push the envelope of representation that the LGBTQ community desperately needs. In certain countries, unfortunately, we have a further to go than others. Brazil, for example, needs all the support it can get.  And meeting the fans only proved that further. So let’s support positive representation around the globe and together we can make a hell of a lot of noise and show the bigwigs what media we want for our future. Thank you so much for watching this video. We’ll have a part two, two, two, two, not four, two. So make sure you check it out. Um, and I just want to say a huge shout out to Gi for making this video, you absolute legend. You beautiful human. Thank you for doing something for this amazing community. And yeah, bye.

I love you guys

Dom: It feels so incredibly special to be here in Brazil at this amazing convention and meeting all of the beautiful, beautiful fans of Wynonna Earp. I feel particularly lucky that I’ve spent some time in Brazil to really fully understand the depth of the importance of representation here. And I think spending those few weeks beforehand has really made me appreciate kind of every second here with the fans. 

Fans were asked one important question: Why representation matters? 

Fan: Representation in a fictional world means social existence. And the absence of it means symbolic annihilation. Representation means that our world works and that there is a place for everyone in it. 

Fan: It matters so much because we deserve to see ourselves in things that we love and that really matter to us. And the world is so full of ugly things that just a little bit of kindness makes it so much better.

Fan: I think representation matters because at the end of the day everybody want to belong, make their story valid and wants to understand that it’s possible. Besides, it’s a good thing to see stories that work out and inspire you. Sometimes you are not in your best moment and you see that you are not alone.

Fan: That’s it, is all about knowing your story is possible, real and valid. To see yourself being represented makes you feel that. 

Fan: Representation matters because when I see people like me I feel happier and I find a place in the world where I can be myself and fit in. 

Fan: LGBT representation. That is something that we see a lot today, but not really strong. Sometimes they’re not the best representation. We have queer bait. We have writers that put some characters in television and don’t give them the right screen time or don’t give them the right representation that you really do deserve. LGBT is normal. We are normal. We’re not sick. We’re not ill. We’re normal people. And we deserve better representation on TV. 

Fan: I think representation is important on TV shows and movies because we all need to have something that we can get inspired and identify with. When we see a character that looks like us, we may not even know what we’re going through and that character is able to put into words and actions what we’re feeling. These characters can be LGBTQ, they can love whoever they want and still be incredible people. That makes us accept ourselves and know that we are also incredible for being who are. 

Fan: It’s important for the LGBTQ kids, the little ones who think that is something wrong, those who suffer at school, at church, anywhere else. You look at the TV and you don’t often see LGBTQ characters so you think that you’re never gonna work. Right. So when you see these kinds of things, the representation and everyone here… It inspires you. It inspires so much, it’s great and so gratifying.

Fan: I think what is more important to say is we need to see ourselves because many of us can’t live these stories. We can’t continue to be invisible, we need to be represented right. It’s important that our stories are real and treated with respect. 

Dom: I think it is so powerful that each and every person has come here today and to basically stand together and be like this is what we need more of. So thank you so much for coming to each and every person like it means the world, you have no idea, and it’s a gift for us more than anything else. 

Fan: LBTQ plus representation is very important, especially for us Brazilians, because we don’t have this representation in Brazil and Brazilian TV. What they do with this little, little show called Wynonna Earp is so important. Especially with Dom. They started the wave for us. Myself as a bisexual, I feel very represented. Like I cannot even measure how I feel when I see a character like her representing a bisexual person. 

Fan: I didn’t have a lot of representation growing up, I was very confused. I didn’t know what was happening or why I was like this. The very few representation that we had was completely different and it didn’t contribute to anything, only made us be scared of who we are. Now this is changing. Now we are having good representation with Nicole and Waverly. So this is what Wynonna Earp represents, not only the empowered women but the LGBTQ representation as well. 

Fan: I think in the world we live in today where things are worse and hatred is increasingly present, even more in politics, I think it’s important to have representation to show us that being gay is alright, being part of the LGBTQ community is alright, we will find a community that accept us no matter who we are and that we have a bright future ahead no matter who we love and who we are. 

Fan: It’s also important that we now have a positive representation because sometimes when we watch a TV show, we see someone coming out and not being accepted. I can give you an example with Wynonna Earp, when Waverly comes out, not only Wynonna accepts her and continues to love her the same way because she is still the same person, everyone around her does it too. 

Fan: I think representation in a world that gay people die, gay people always die and it’s not only in the movies or TV shows, in real life too. I think it’s so important not only for us who are in this generation that watch and need this, but also for the young generation, for the kids who are watching and growing up in this world, I don’t want them to grow up in the same world that I did and that they watch their character die. In Wynonna Earp, for example, when Nicole got shot I felt it and I cried for like 5 seconds but it was in that moment I thought ‘one more.’ It’s important because this can’t keep happening.

Dom: Playing Waverly Earp has been without a doubt the greatest gift of my life. I feel like since I started playing this character, I have, Oh God, I’m gonna cry. Since I started playing this character, I’ve come on such a journey with myself, of self-acceptance, and understanding what real bravery is and that you can totally be yourself and be brave. You don’t have to hide behind something else. And I think that I, I believe that that is what people see in Waverly. 

Dom: Never stop being you because it’s like a very, very, very special trait to have. 

Kat: And I will piggy-bank on that and say just be so proud of you because you guys are such beautiful, strong, passionate people, and don’t ever forget if you ever feel alone, look around this whole room. And these are all your new friends, you know, so never forget that we love you. And thank you for having us in your home. We are very happy. We love you.

Fans: Start the Wave. We are here. Start the Wave. We exist. Start the Wave. We matter. Start the Wave. We deserve. Start the Wave.  We are worth it. Start the Wave. And we will keep fighting. Start the Wave. 

Thank you for watching. 


Kat: Maybe we should start with the like, hi guys. 

Both: Hi guys.

Dom: I hope you’ve checked out my video on fast freakin’ fashion. We think it’s really important to put our money where our mouths are and stop buying into the idea of fast fashion. 

Kat: And as we learn more and more about the horrors of the fast fashion industry, Dom and I decided to do a fun little challenge. So, we are going to go out and buy all of our outfits, head to toe, shoes, jewelry, clothing, everything, from secondhand clothing stores and wear them all weekend at ClexaCon. 

Dom: Woooo! We want to show you that it’s really fun and easy to go secondhand shopping. With a little bit of creativity you can put together some awesome outfits.

Kat: And you’re going to look amazing. And, as an added challenge, just to show you guys that you can look great and be kind to the earth and not spend a lot of money we are going to find an entire outfit for under $50. Thrift stores are generally the cheapest option and usually the proceeds go to a charity or a (Dom: nonprofit) nonprofit organization.

Dom: And then we have vintage stores. Vintage refers to clothing that is over a decade old. So they have lots of nice retro goodies. 

Dom: I really love this. This isn’t actually usually what I go for, but I think it’s like, it’s so fun and colorful, and the back is so different.

Kat: Consignment stores are where members of the community bring in gently used items, uh, they get a percentage of the sale and the store gets a percentage of the sale. 

Dom: Okay, let’s get inside before you freeze. 

Kat: Okay. 

Kat: So as a little FYI, thrift stores are generally universally cheaper than consignment stores and vintage stores tend to be slightly more expensive than consignment stores, but the quality is generally much, much higher. 

Dom: And one take to keep in mind is if you love something, but it doesn’t quite fit, go and get it tailored. Believe me, it will end up looking like it was made for you. 

Kat: We really hope that you guys have found this video informative and inspiring. So, the next time that you’re looking to buy some new clothing, you vote with your dollar, be kind to our mother and try out secondhand clothing shopping.

Dom: Yes. So keep an eye out for what we wear and we’ll see you at ClexaCon.

Kat: See you at ClexaCon. Let’s go shopping!


Hello. Yo. What’s up? No, I’m joking. Um, hello and welcome. We are living through a crucial time in history. Climate change is posing a real threat and arguably we are more disconnected to what really matters than ever before. After the amazing response from my water bottle mission, it inspired me to do more. And so I introduce to you ladies and gentlemen, Start the Wave, an online community that considers the notion of possibility and positive change. I’m not sitting here claiming to have all the answers. Believe me, quite the contrary. I’m working it out day by day, and I’m inviting you to do the same. I truly, truly believe that the responsibility lies with us. So please, if you will join us! Eeeek, it’s very exciting. We must educate and inspire the next generation, the generation of our future to go forth and make positive change.

Start the Wave is a safe space that will support you on your unique path to creating the positive change that speaks to you. We are one, and yet we are all beautifully different, each with our own strengths, visions, and ideas. What positive change can you bring to our world? By embarking on a journey to finding your true, authentic self, you will begin to connect with your unique purpose, your power. By opening up to new ways of thinking and letting go of the things that no longer serve us we awaken to possibility. We are here to empower you in whatever socially or environmentally conscious venture you find is calling. Whether through art, activism, or simply being an example of a different way of living, we all need to make brave, conscious change in order to save our planet. Every individual has something different to bring to the table and when we aligned with what truly sets our soul on fire, that’s when the magic happens. We are here to support, nurture, and grow those ideas that are close to your heart. We welcome you to a community that encourages your evolution, celebrates your journey, and helps you feel less alone in the process. A caring, connected, conscious community. We are at a crucial time in history. We have a chance to do things differently, to break away from the madness that has plagued our beautiful earth. We believe in a new world. A world where kindness and compassion overflow, and we make decisions based on love for the good of all beings and our precious Mother Earth. We believe in you to contribute to that world. It’s time to inspire one another to counteract the darkness. It’s time to awaken to what is really important and encourage others to do the same. Let us empower each other on the road to choosing our light. Let’s start the wave for a brighter future.


Welcome to your Start the Wave community meditation. For those of you joining for the first time today thank you for being here with us. And for those of you returning, welcome back. Whatever brings you here today, just take a second to trust in the process. So to start off today, I want us to scan the room. So either from left to right or right to left, just observe your space as if it was the first time you’d ever seen it. Slowly, taking every object in. Slowly scanning round the room as if for the first time. And when you finish that, I want you to do it again and now just take in and notice anything green. Anything that is present in your space that has the color green; left to right, or right to left, doesn’t matter. Just noticing anything green. Observing your space with fresh eyes and taking it in for the first time. And then once you’ve done that, take a moment to get comfy and let’s settle in. 

As always listening to our bodies and adjusting any parts that feel uncomfortable. Maybe today you need to lie down. Or sitting up straight with a long back. Whatever your body is telling you, accept it and take that position now. And gently in your own time, close your eyes as we start to go inwards.

And we’re going to start today by noticing what we see. Bringing our attention to our eyes. Making a conscious effort to relax the muscles around the eyes. And just taking in and observing what we see. Noticing any color; perhaps you see speckles of light interspersed and moving. Maybe there’s some shapes. Or maybe you see nothing at all as you enter into blackness. This experience is different for everyone. So don’t judge it. Just notice and observe.

And now I want us to take our attention to the sounds. Listening to the sounds that are present. The sound of my voice, the music, and any other background noises that may be present for you. Could be the sound of electricity. Maybe you can hear children playing in the street. Just notice. And anytime a thought pops up, just bring it back to the sounds, bringing your attention back to whatever you hear.

And let’s take our attention to the breath now. Observing the natural inflow and outflow of the breath. Breathing in and breathing out. I’m not trying to control it or manipulate it, just letting it be and observing.

Breathing in and breathing out. Breathing in and out. Just observing. Noticing how the lungs lift and fall as we breathe in nourishing air and exhale anything that no longer serves us. If you find that your mind has wandered off, it’s totally okay, don’t get angry with it, it’s all part of meditation. Just bring it back. Refocus on the breath, observing how the air comes into your nostrils, passes through to the lungs, and reverses to come out. Relaxing further with each breath, tapping into the present moment and surrendering to this practice. 

And now I want you to bring your attention to your heart. Breathing in and out of your heart center. Focusing in on any sensations; you might be able to hear the heart beating as it pumps blood around our body. Just take a second to feel that. 

So today we will be focusing on the heart chakra, which is located in the center of the chest at the heart level. The heart chakra is where we hold the vibrations of: love, compassion, patience, kindness, hope, trust, forgiveness, generosity, connection, and joy. 

So just breathe in and out of the heart space. Taking a few minutes to center in, accepting wherever we are today. The heart chakra is the center of your deep bonds with other beings. It allows us to recognize and get in touch with the sacred and fundamental truth that runs through all of life and connects everything together. When you’re blocked from your sense of caring, your self-love, generosity, kindness, respect, and all other meanings or functions associated with the heart chakra, it can often be Jude to a protective mechanism that our heart develops. We refer to it today as a heart wall.

The heart wall builds itself to try and protect you. Usually this heart wall comes up when we process grief. When we experience the loss of love and enjoy heartbreak of any sort. Over time we can get really good at disconnecting by putting up this protection to avoid pain. But living a life without the free flow of love is arguably more painful. So working towards opening up our hearts, living from love and compassion and breaking down the walls that block us from doing so is incredibly valuable work. Work that I am very much in the process of doing in my own life. 

So as you continue focusing on your heart space, I want you to imagine your heart wall. It might be wood, glass, brick, can be any material that you connect with, or that feels right for you. And just visualize it for a second around your heart. Creating a layer between the outside world and your heart. And now just ask it, what do you need in order to let go? What do you need in order to release? Maybe a word pops up into your mind. Could be a series of images. Or could be nothing at all. This experience that you have with yourself is very intimate. Be delicate and gentle. And just hold space for anything that comes up. Appreciating it’s your heart walls, intention to protect, but trusting that it’s time to lovingly release it. 

Now in your mind, see the wall break down, melt, disintegrate, and disappear, leaving room for your heart chakra to radiate unconstructed and its openness. Breathing in and breathing out, breathing in and breathing out. As we start to bring in our chakra bathing technique. I want you to see your heart chakra as a vortex of Emerald energy. See its vibrant green light emanating out of the center of your being. I want you to take both hands up to your chest now, and gently place one on top of the other and bring them to your heart. Feel the comfort of your hands as their placed on your heart center and just take a few really deep breaths here. 

And now, as you return to its natural rhythm, bring your hands out, ever so slightly and start to make a clockwise motion, creating small circles in front of your heart chakra. As you do this, I want you to imagine the vortex of green light start to expand to about a foot wide, lighting up your space, coming from within and emanating out. Keep with the clockwise motion, and then when it feels right for you, just let your hands fall to either side and open up your chest to the sky. Imagine sucking in the energy from the universe and giving your energy back to the world in a free flow of love and compassion. 

And now as we bring in our affirmation, continue visualizing that green vortex of light, breathing in and out. You can repeat this in your mind or out loud, whichever one feels right for you. Everything I do, I do with love. I am receptive and open to receiving love. I forgive others and forgive myself. I am love. 

Continuing with the breath. Everything I do, I do with love. I am open and receptive to receiving love. I forgive others and forgive myself. I am love. Continuing with the breath as you let these words resonate. Everything I do, I do with love. I am receptive and open to receiving love. I forgive others and forgive myself. I am love.

Breathing in breathing out. Feeling your heart chakra spinning freely as we plant these seeds of intention into our heart chakra. Everything I do, I do with love. I am receptive and open to receiving love. I forgive others and forgive myself. I am love. Observing how these words make you feel. Listening to anything that comes up, allowing all emotions and feelings to be present as you nurture them in this healing heart space. Everything I do, I do with love. I am receptive and open to receiving love. I forgive others and forgive myself. I am love. 

And now I can to bring in a mantra. Today’s mantra is Yom, with a Y. So again, you can repeat this in your head or out loud. We’ll simply let the sounds wash over you. As you continue focusing on the breath, breathing in and out of your heart space. Yommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Yommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Yommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Feel into your chest as you open up to receive. Yommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Yommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Yommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Yommmmmmmmmmmmmm. 

Everything I do, I do with love. I am receptive and open to receiving love. I forgive others and forgive myself. I am love. 

As this week progresses I invite you to continue working on the heart chakra. And one way to do this is to take action in the things that generate the emotions associated with the heart chakra. So this could be acts of kindness. You could start a gratitude journal or create a gratitude practice in your life, taking a moment each day to really connect with the things that you’re grateful for. Or you could just simply open your heart to someone and find connection through vulnerability and honesty. Developing trust, and truly holding space for someone. Or just take part in any activities that bring you joy, true joy. And when you’re taking part in these activities really feel into your heart space, remind yourself to activate your heart chakra to receive. Love flows through everything. We have access to it in every moment of every day. We are surrounded by it. It connects us all. When you go outside this week, use the trees as a reminder, and every time you see that green color of the leaves, breathe it in and let it activate your heart chakra.

You are loved. You are enough. You are love. Namaste.


Welcome to your Start the Wave community meditation. Today, we will be focusing on the root chakra to help us feel balanced and grounded.

Those of you who may not know Start the Wave, we are an online community focused on empowering individuals to make positive change all over the world. Whatever called you here today, to click that button, to sit and meditate with us, trust it. For the duration of this meditation, I encourage you to fully commit to this act of self love that you’re giving yourself in this difficult time.

So start by finding a comfortable position. This will look different for everybody. It could be cross-legged with or without a pillow to lift you up. It may be with your legs out straight, back against the wall. Just find what feels good for you. Listening to your body and settle into your seat.

We’ll start by taking a deep breath in and a long breath out. And we’ll repeat this, deep breath in and a deep breath out. Slowing down and calming the nervous system a little more with each breath. And as we do this, start to observe the inflow and outflow of your breath, filling up your lungs with nourishing air and exhaling anything that no longer serves you. Feel free to make the out breath audible if that feels right for you, sighs can be a nice way to release some tension. Focusing on the breath, becoming curious and conscious as we relax further. Letting go of any negative feelings that we might be holding on to in the body.

During this unexpected and challenging time, collectively and individually, we’re going through something we’ve never experienced before. Being forced into the unknown can bring up fears and anxieties that manifest themselves in all sorts of ways. So as you continue breathing, becoming more and more aware, I want you to take a moment and just accept wherever you find yourself today. However you were feeling, it’s okay. It’s totally normal to feel. Especially during this time. Be gentle and kind with yourself as you acknowledge and accept whatever may be coming up. And then let’s extend that compassion out to everyone else meditating here today.

So in your mind create a small ball of light. It can be any color you choose. Just see it hovering in front of you and fill it with as much compassion and love as you can. Really pack it tight with love and compassion. Once you’ve done this, send your ball of light through the sky to someone else who is meditating here today. No need to be specific. Just send it with intention, to someone in the community who may be feeling sad or scared, a household where tensions may be running high, someone out there who’s isolated and feeling lonely. In this moment we are here, together. Allow yourself to take comfort in that. For the next little while we are here, breathing as one.

In and out. Breathing in and out. Once you’ve sent this ball of love to the universe, feel one of those balls of light coming down into your space, through the ceiling and landing gently into your heart space. Deep breath in and breath out.

Through this collective experience we have an opportunity. We can use this time to look inwards, observe, learn more about ourselves, and grow. When things come to the surface that perhaps we usually manage to avoid by diving into our busy lives, well now we can use this time to address them compassionately and then overcome them. Leaving behind our negative patterns and replacing them with deep understanding. This time can be used to work on and heal ourselves just as the planet is healing. And together, we can become healthier, stronger, and happier. If we can work to find a sense of balance and grounding during these uncertain times, it will stand us in such good stead for the future.

Now, as you breathe in and out, let your breath settle to it’s natural flow. If that is deep, let it be deep. If it’s shallow, let it be shallow. Don’t judge it. Just breathe naturally. And keep observing the breath. When a thought comes into your mind, acknowledge it. Don’t let it frustrate you. See it, let it go, and bring yourself back to the breath. Allowing yourself to feel the sensations of the breath. Tingling at the opening of the nostrils or above the upper lip. Just notice and breathe.

Now I’m going to bring in a chakra bathing technique. Some of you may have seen it pass by on our Instagram story. I found it incredibly helpful during this time. Our chakras are energy centers that live inside our bodies. Chakra literally means wheel or disc, and these power centers in the body are believed to receive and radiate energy. When they are blocked, we can find ourselves unbalanced and uninspired. Today we are starting with the root chakra, which lives right at the base of the spine. I’d like us all to move our attention down to that area and just observe.

As you become more and more aware of your chakras you may start to feel them as a sort of cool breeze or subtle vibration. If you don’t feel anything at all that’s completely normal. Just keep your awareness on the base of the spine, focusing your attention to this ball of red energy.

Continue breathing in and out of this energy center. Breathing in and out, focusing your energy on the root chakra.

The root chakra is highly responsive to anything connected to your security. So during this time, if you’re feeling unbalanced in any way, you can come back to this energy center and recalibrate.

If any thoughts come up gently let them go, bringing yourself back to your root. Notice and let it go. Right now we are here meditating together. We are exactly where we need to be. Trust them, breathing in, breathing out. I’m going to plant a seed into that chakra to set intention and get it moving. So in your mind or out loud, repeat this mantra.

I am balanced and safe. I trust myself and I’m grounded. I am balanced and safe. I trust myself and I’m grounded.

Really connect to these words and see how they make you feel. Each time focusing on your root chakra as you plant your affirmation into its center.

I am balanced and safe. I trust myself and I’m grounded.

Feel your root spinning freely and observe any feelings or thoughts that come up, acknowledging them, and then letting them go. You are clearing out anything that may be blocking the free flow. Continue with your breath. Right here. Right now, as you open and unblock this grounding energy center. Waking up to what is without judgment. Opening up to consciousness.

Now we’re going to introduce the mantra, Lam. As we continue meditating, keeping our attention on the base of our spines, breathing in and out.

Repeat after me: Lammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Lammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

It doesn’t have to be loud. If you’re in a space that makes you feel uncomfortable doing this you can repeat it in your head, but I encourage you if you can join me to use your voice to bathe the chakra in sound.


Continue in this way. Planting seeds of intention into your root.

I am balanced and safe. I trust myself and I’m grounded. Lammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Listening to what comes up, noticing and letting it go. Returning to the root and to the breath. Continue this process.

I am balanced and safe. I trust myself and I’m grounded. Lammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Wherever you find yourself now let’s all bring ourselves back to the breath. Calmly and gently breathing in and out. Take a moment now to feel any sensations that may arise on the surface of the body. Any tingling sensations, any sensations at all, just observe them, letting yourself live in the body, feeling it fully. Out of your mind and into the light.

And now if it feels right to you, bring your hands to the center of your heart in a prayer position. Remind yourself of that ball of love that came down from someone else here today, as we created a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Take a moment to feel that compassion once again in your chest, as we come to the end of this collective group meditation.

In your own time slowly open your eyes. Find movement in whichever way feels right for you. Stretch your legs, rotate the wrists, maybe circle your head, stretching the neck. And lastly, thank yourself for the positive energy you created by doing this meditation today, creating a better world for all.


Welcome to your Start the Wave community meditation. Today, we will be focusing on the sacral chakra.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Start the Wave, we are an online community that believes in a kinder, fairer, and more compassionate world. We believe in the power of the individual to create that world by starting positive waves, big and small.

Whatever brought you here today to sit and meditate with us, just trust it. For the next 30 minutes. I encourage you to fully surrender to this act of self love that you’re giving yourself during this challenging time.

So start by finding a comfortable seat. There are no rules to what this looks like. Just find what feels good for your body and settle into this position you choose for yourself. We’ll start by taking a deep breath in and a long breath out. And we’ll just repeat this, deep breath in and breath out. Observing the inflow and outflow of your breath. Each breath, filling our lungs with fresh nourishing air and exhaling anything that no longer serves us.

Today, we will get in touch with the energy center associated with creativity, passion, and self-love to help ignite our creative spark and learn to fall in love with whatever we find. Getting to grips with who we are at our soul level, discovering our desires and figuring out how we’d like to spend our time when we’re not defined by our old structures is a process. By meditating and going inwards we can work through these questions, reflect and gain deeper understanding. Who am I when I’m not defined by my work and my social interactions? How do I like to spend my time? What lights me up? And when everything is stripped back and slowed down, what do I truly love about myself?

I offer this as an opportunity to better understand ourselves, tapping into our passions, our curiosity, and gaining a sense of play, can hopefully lead us to find enjoyment amongst the uncertainty. When we are feeling overwhelmed or unsure that is the time to dig deep and listen. Listening. What would I like to do in this moment? Not what should I be doing or what am I supposed to do? But what do I, my highest self, my true, authentic essence. What do I desire? What would bring me joy in this moment?

And then once you discover your truth, not being ashamed of what you find, but accepting. This is what I am called to do right now. And trusting the process. Emotions and passions are fluid in nature. They change, evolve and flow much like water, and we must let them do their thing without judgment or resistance. As you continue breathing, I want us to take a moment and just accept however you’re feeling today. It’s totally normal to feel. Allow yourself to feel. Here we hold space for you as you are. Be gentle and kind with yourself, accepting whatever you discover here in this moment.

Then as we did before, let’s extend that compassion out to everyone else meditating here today. So in your mind create a small ball of light, make it the color of your choice. See the ball in front of you and fill it with as much compassion and love as you can muster up. Once you’ve done this, send it through the sky to someone else who’s meditating here today. Just send it with intention, to someone in the community who may need it this time. In this moment, we are here together. And for the next 30 minutes, we are breathing as one. In and out, breathing in and out.

And once you’ve sent this ball of light through the universe, feel one of those balls coming down into your space. See it coming through the ceiling, see it’s color, and it’s vibrance. It’s filled with love and compassion. And let it land gently into your heart space. Deep breath in and breath out. As you receive this ball of love today, I want you to really accept it in. I deserve this love. I am enough. I love myself. I am love.

Developing self-love is key to living a wholehearted life. Having your own back, becoming your best friend, learning to love yourself as you are wherever you are, along your journey. Falling in love with the evolution of self. So where do I, right now, find pleasure. Get curious about who you are and explore the different parts of yourself. This is the time to get creative. Listen to that inner knowing and fall in love with exploring what comes up. Choose to develop an intimate relationship with yourself, as you learn and grow from experience to experience.

Deep breath in and deep breath out. Deep breath in and deep breath out. Deep breath in and breath out. Now, as you continue breathing in and out, we’ll start letting it settle to its natural flow. If that remains deep, let it be deep. If it’s shallow, let it be shallow. Just let the body breathe naturally and keep observing the breath. Focusing solely on the breath, entering and leaving the body.

If thoughts arrive, acknowledge them, see it, let it go, and bring yourself back to the breath, allowing yourself to feel the sensations of the breath. A slight tingling, perhaps at the opening of the nostrils, or above the upper lip. Just notice and breathe.

Now I’m going to bring in our chakra bathing technique. Chakras, for those of you joining for the first time, are energy centers that live inside our body. They receive and radiate energy, and when they are blocked, we can find ourself unbalanced and uninspired. Today we are focusing on the sacral chakra, which is placed at the lower abdomen just below the navel or belly button. So let’s move our attention down to that area. And just observe right there below the belly button. You may start to feel your chakras as a sort of cool breeze or subtle vibration. If you don’t feel don’t get frustrated, just keep your awareness on that space just below the navel. Focusing your attention on this orange ball of energy. Continue breathing in and out of this center. Focusing your energy on your sacral chakra. See it as an orange ball of light. Allow any thoughts to come up, but gently let them go bringing yourself back to your sacral chakra. Notice it and let it go. You are exactly where you need to be.

Breathing in and out. We are now going to plant a seed into that chakra to set intention and get it moving. So in your mind or out loud, repeat this affirmation.

My feelings are healthy. I am strong and creative. I love myself. My feelings are healthy. I am strong and creative. I love myself.

Really try and connect with these words, seeing how they make you feel, each time focusing on your sacral chakra as you plant your affirmation into its center.

My feelings are healthy. My feelings are healthy. I am strong and creative. I love myself.

Feel that ball of energy at the lower abdomen, spinning freely. See the orange light and observe any feelings or thoughts that come up, acknowledging them, and then letting them go, clearing out anything that may be blocking the free flow. Continue with the breath. Right here and now as you open up and unblock this creative, loving center.

Now we’re going to introduce the mantra, Vom. Vom with a V. As we continue meditating, keeping our attention on the lower abdomen, breathing in and out. Repeat after me. Vommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Vommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

It doesn’t have to be loud. Again, if for any reason you feel uncomfortable doing this, just repeat it in your head. If you can I encourage you to join me using our voices to bathe the chakra in sound.

Vommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Vommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Vommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Planting seeds of intention into your sacral chakra.

My feelings are healthy. I am strong and creative. I love myself.

Vommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Vommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Vommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Focusing on the sacral chakra and the breath. Breathing in and out.

My feelings are healthy. I am strong. I am creative. I love myself.

Wherever you find yourself now let’s all bring ourselves back to the breath, calmly and gently breathing in and breathing out. Breathing in, breathing out, Breathing in and breathing out.

Now, bring your attention to your hands. Notice any sensations on the surface of the palms, to the fingertips, perhaps on the back of the hands, the air connecting with the skin. And now take your attention to your feet. Just notice. Perhaps they feel warm, maybe a little numb, any sensations at all. Keep breathing here as you observe. Out of your mind and into the light.

And now it feels right to you bring your hands to the center of your heart in a prayer position. Remind yourself of that ball of love that came down into your space from someone else here today. Thank you for creating a rainbow with me. And just take a moment to feel that love in your chest once again as we come to the end of this group meditation. Slowly open your eyes, climatize with your surroundings, finding movement, listening to what your body needs. Maybe you need to arch your back, roll the shoulders, rotate the wrists, circle your head. Just take a minute before moving forward with your day. And lastly, thank yourself. Thank yourself for taking the time to connect with you.


Welcome to your Start the Wave meditation. Start the wave is a community that believes in the power of positive change, both in the transformation of self and in action, to create a better world for all. In today’s meditation we are going to connect with our personal power, personal identity, and finding our authentic preferences in the lives we lead. I think it’s fair to say that we all want to be living the lives that we were intended to live. A life that you feel connected to. One that you consciously choose and love. Now I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we are all beautifully different.

And though it’s easy to be influenced in a world where we follow our idols, aspire and compare ourselves to others, your power comes from you. Your personal choice, the things you like, the colors that you’re drawn to, the music you enjoy listening to the way you like to express yourself and dress yourself. All these things come from you.

We all have personal freedom. By connecting with today’s chakra you will start finding the willpower to proactively act upon your truth with confidence, responsibility, and most importantly, with authenticity.

This energy center, the solar plexus, or manipura, loves forward momentum. But here’s the interesting part: only when it is in alignment with our own personal truth. So by connecting with and opening this chakra, we can gain a sense of personal empowerment in the things that we love and access the power of transformation. So wherever you find yourself now, just make sure that you’re in a comfortable position. This will look different for everybody, but the key is to listen to your body and see what it needs from you today. Observe, and just take a second to readjust any parts that might be feeling constricted or out of alignment. And then just settle in.

We’ll start by taking a few deep breaths and I encourage you to make the out-breath audible. A few really nice, big, deep sighs. Just to release any tension, anything we might be holding on to.

And then once you’ve done this, we’re just going to breathe normally today. If that’s deep for you, then let it be deep. If your natural breathing is shallow in nature, let it be shallow. There are no rules in how to breathe. So just let your breath come in and out of your body, naturally, as we start to obsessive and tune into the breath.

Just observing the inflow and outflow of your breath, as it enters and leaves the body. Don’t try and control it or manipulate it. Just let it do its thing and observe. Breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, and breathing out.

Observe any sensations that you might be feeling perhaps at the opening of the nostril, maybe underneath the nostrils, where the air connects with the skin. Just, keep serving as you breathe in and out, breathing in, breathing out.

And now take your attention to the lungs, observing how your chest rises and falls with each breath. Breathing in, breathing out.

Again, not trying to manipulate the way you breathe, Just letting it come naturally in and out of the lungs. Breathing naturally. Staying conscious with every breath.

I want us to take our attention to the sounds you might be hearing. Listening to the background music that I have added into this meditation, aiding us to connect with our solar plexus chakra. And then extend that attention to any other sounds that you might also be hearing. Anything else that is present in your space. Anything at all, just opening your awareness. Noticing the sound of my voice. You might even be able to hear your heart beating, tummy rumbling, any sounds at all. Making sure to stay with those sounds and not let it trigger any thoughts that then lead you somewhere else. If ever that happens, not to worry, just bring it back. Focusing on the sound of my voice or on the music or any other sounds that are present.

Now, we’re going to take our attention to our eyes. Firstly, just notice any sensations around your eyes and just try and relax the muscles surrounding your eye. And then focus on what you see. Is it just pure black? Is it another color? Perhaps the light is acting with your eyelid, creating some sort of shapes or lights? Or maybe you see nothing at all. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Just observe, keeping your attention from whatever you see. Just observe. And anytime your mind wanders, don’t get angry at it. Just bring it back and notice.

And now let’s bring our attention into our bodies. Just observe as we go inwards. Becoming consciously aware of this home in which we reside and see if there are any areas of the body that are calling to you today. And see if there’s anywhere that needs your attention. Whatever came to you first is usually the place that needs your focus. So trust that and bring your attention to that area of the body in which you feel some sort of sensations or feelings. Just focus your attention there. Continue with the breath. As you breathe into this part of the body and then just ask it: Is there anything I need to know? And listen. See if anything comes up, if it doesn’t not to worry, maybe ask it one more time: Is there anything I need to know? Whatever comes up, accept it, and then let’s bring it back to the breath. Focusing on the inflow and outflow of the breath as it enters and leaves the body.

And now I’m going to bring in a chakra bathing technique. Chakras, as a reminder, are energy centers that live inside our body that receive and radiate energy. When they are blocked we can find ourselves unbalanced and uninspired and have limited access to the energy that chakra emits. So today we are focusing on the solar plexus chakra, which is placed at the upper abdomen, just two inches above the navel. If you know where your diaphragm is, just bring your attention there, two inches above the navel. Let’s just observe if any thoughts come up, accept them,
and then gently bring your attention back to your power center.

The solar plexus chakra is associated with the color yellow. You can visualize this energy center as a ball of vibrant yellow light emanating from your center. The color of the sun or fire. That said, if you don’t resonate with the color yellow, for one reason or another, if it doesn’t speak to you, sub in another color of your choice. This chakra is all about personal preference and personal identity. So it’s just as important to connect with whatever color you choose.

We’re now going to plant a seed into that chakra to set intention and get it moving. So in your mind, or out loud, repeat this affirmation.

I accept myself completely and I’m receptive to divine energy. I accept my responsibilities and am guided. I accept myself completely and I’m receptive to divine energy. I accept my responsibilities and am guided.

Continuing with the breath, finding awareness as you connect with your solar plexus chakra planting seeds of intention.

I accept myself completely and I’m receptive to divine energy. I accept my responsibilities and am guided. I accept myself completely and I’m receptive to divine energy. I accept my responsibilities and am guided.

Really listen to those words and let them affect you. Noticing how they make you feel.

I accept myself completely and I’m receptive to divine energy. I accept my responsibilities and am guided.

Noticing what comes up, how it makes you feel and bringing your attention back to the solar plexus chakra. Feeling its power in the center of your body.

And now we’re going to bring in the mantra, Rom. That’s Rom with an aw. As we continue focusing on our power center manipura, our solar plexus, chakra.

So repeat after me. Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Doesn’t have to be loud if you feel uncomfortable using your voice, not to worry, just repeat it in your head, as you listen to the music and to my voice.

Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

As you do this really connect to your sense of personal identity, accessing your personal power, being authentic to yourself and who you are. Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Continue in this way, planting seeds of intention into your solar plexus. I accept myself completely and I’m receptive to divine energy. I accept my responsibilities and am guided. I accept myself completely and I’m receptive to divine energy. I accept my responsibilities and am guided. Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Rommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Continue doing this in your own time, either repeating the affirmation, continuing with the mantra, or just simply focusing on the solar plexus, breathing in and out of the energy center. I’m gonna let you continue now for a few minutes of silence and just let your solar plexus chakra guide you as to what you need in this moment. Breathing, deepening your awareness, and listening.

I found this to be a good time to be looking at the way we navigate the relationships in our lives. Looking at the ones that are serving us, the ones where we feel free to show our vulnerabilities and authenticity in safe and nurturing environments. And then those in which perhaps we feel trapped, unable to show our truth, relationships that block you from evolving, expressing and exploring your personal identity.

When we live our lives from the truth of who we are, we naturally attract relationships and opportunities into our lives that are in alignment with our own personal authenticity. In turn, creating a reality where we thrive and feel a sense of belonging. As this week progresses why not make it our goal in every interaction to simply be authentic. Not trying to people please or bend ourselves to avoid judgment, but connecting with who we are and our personal power, and leading with courage. When we shape who we are to fit in, and please others, we disconnect from our personal power. We hide our authenticity, which in turn blocks us from building confidence in who we are. So as I wrap up this meditation today, I just want to end with a gentle reminder, be brave, be bold, be you.


Welcome to your Start the Wave community meditation. I hope this finds everyone well. It’s been a moment since we did this, and I think it’s fair to say that during that time collectively we’ve had a lot to process. I’m incredibly happy that the throat chakra happens to be up next. And my hope is that by connecting to the energy of this chakra, it will help us find our voices in a time when it’s essential that we use honest and conscious communication. So take a second to get comfortable, feel into your body and just remind yourself why you are here today. Close your eyes. And let’s begin.

Start by taking a few deep breaths. As we slow down and settle in, let go of whatever happened before, then forget about whatever you have to do next, and really just allow yourself to be here, fully. Make a conscious decision to leave all other aspects of your life at the door and really surrender to your practice. 

Breathing in and out, feeling into the breath. Allow yourself to sigh out any energy that might be stuck. (Heavy breaths) And when you’ve done that let your breath settle to its natural pace. We want the air to come in and out of the body without force or control. Just let yourself breathe naturally and observe. Notice the way the air comes in and out.

Observe the sensations of the breath and the subtleties of movement in the body; your chest, your lungs, your entire being, breathing. If any thoughts come up, as they’re bound to, notice them, see them, but keep bringing your attention back to the breath.

Okay. So today I want us to keep with the breath, consciously breathing in and out. But also bring into your awareness the sounds in your space. So continue breathing but start to open up to listening. Becoming conscious of both your breath and what you can hear. Perhaps you can hear yourself breathing, the air escaping the body. Keep with the breath, but also taking the music. And now extending your awareness to all the sounds present in your space as you continue breathing in and out, in and out. 

So we’re opening up, becoming more and more present in our awareness. Anytime a thought pops up, see it and let it go. Bringing yourself back to the sounds and back to your breath. And now take your attention to what you see and again, keeping with the sounds, still observing your breath, but just noticing what you’re see. Becoming aware of your breath, what you can hear and what you can see. Almost as if we’re turning off the thinking part of your brain and easing into awareness. You have nothing to do but observe and be, as you are, here and now. Thoughts are normal. Let them come and go. Don’t attach yourself to them, but let them pass through and simply flow back to this present. 

Continue with this exercise. The throat chakra energy is all about expressing your truth and integrity through communication and creativity. If you’re someone who experiences an inability to express yourself, perhaps you hold back your truth or you experienced social anxiety, this one’s for you, and me. If you’re someone who speaks out without thought or without truly meaning what you say, connecting with this energy will also be very helpful for you.

Words are like spells and we have to be incredibly mindful of how we use them to ensure we’re communicating our deepest truths. When we pass vibrations through our throat chakra we call things into being, manifesting our reality. True adulthood or stepping into your authenticity, in many ways is learning to mean what you say. 

So wherever you find yourself now, let’s take a couple of head rolls, slowly getting the area of the throat moving. Not forcing the neck, but just rotating it slowly. And then place your finger at the hollow of the neck, where the collarbones meet. This is where your throat chakra is. Take a second to feel into that space, bringing your entire attention to your neck. Start to imagine a turquoise blue light filling up your throat area, bathing your vocal cords in a comforting, encouraging, creative energy.

Focusing into the chakra as you feel it spinning in a free flow of truthful expression.

Breathing in, breathing out, breathing in and out. Now we will bring in an affirmation so you can repeat after me or simply let the words wash over you as you keep focusing on the throat chakra.

I am learning and growing. I receive and express clear communication. I use my words to create beauty in this world.

I am learning and growing. I receive and express clear communication. I use my words to create beauty in this world.

Really listening to the words, seeing how they make you feel. 

I am learning and growing. I receive and express clear communication. I use my words to create beauty in this world.

And now we’ll introduce the mantra: Hom. Hom with an H. Our throat chakra is activated by singing. So I highly recommend joining me in this one. Let go of fear, embarrassment, and restraint and let the sound bathe your throat chakra. Let the sounds flow out through your throat. Hommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Hommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Hommmmmmmmmmmmmm. It doesn’t have to be pretty or loud. Just let the sound flow out through your throat. Hommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Hommmmmmmmmmmmmm. Hommmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I am learning and growing. I receive and express clear communication. I use my words to create beauty in this world.

Planting seeds into your throat charka as we repeat the affirmation and saying the mantra. 


I am learning and growing. I receive and express clear communication. I use my words to create beauty in this world.


If you feel called to continue with the mantra, please do. Perhaps you’d like to repeat the affirmation a few more times.

If we want to live freely it is essential to express our truth. Even at the risk of being different or standing apart from others. If we want to make change we need to connect with our integrity and find ways to express it clearly and creatively. I encourage you to think of the throat chakra as a doorway, the avenue of true expression. As you move through this week, connect with your creative outlets and find ways to communicate your truth. Repeat this meditation, listen in, trust your knowing, and start to become conscious of what it is you choose to express in your day. 

2020, though very challenging, appears to me to be an opportunity for deep growth. Learning to use conscious communication to express ourselves truthfully will be key to creating the positive change we so desperately need. Thank you for joining me in this meditation. Trust your truth. Namaste.


Addie: We’re recording.

Dom: Hello everyone. My name is Dom and I am the founder of Start the Wave, a nonprofit organization that connects and supports post-its worldwide. Before we start, I’d like to acknowledge that I am on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. I understand that I am a settler on this land and must stay open, listen deeply and contribute in as many ways as I possibly can to the reconciliation necessary to carve out a new respectful path for our future. Thank you. 

So for those of you who may not be aware, April is sexual assault awareness month. Today, we are joined by three members of Hope Harbor, a sexual trauma recovery center based in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which sits on Cherokee and Shawnee indigenous lands. Hope Harbor is a nonprofit crisis counseling center that provides support and advocacy services to victims of sexual assault and their families and friends.

It’s important to preface that parts of this discussion may be triggering to some. So please use your discretion when listening, and if this topic is difficult for you, we suggest listening with a friend or a family member, and for those seeking support, please check out some of the helpful links that we’ve placed in the description of this video. If you’re a survivor of sexual assault, please know that you’re not alone. We see you, we believe you, and we support you. Thanks for watching. 

Alrighty. So hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us here today for this wonderful conversation. So I’m just going to go around and introduce your names. And then maybe you could say a little bit about what you do, for the organization for Hope Harbor. So we have Tina Smajlagic. Did I say that right? I hope I said it. Right. Welcome Tina. Thank you so much for being here with us today. Perhaps you could just say a little bit about the work that you do at hope Harbor.

Tina: Yes. Thank you for having me again. My name is Tina Smajlagic and I am a clinical therapist at Hope Harbor. I have been with Hope Harbor for about four and a half years now.

And then we have Alayna Milby.

Yes. Thank you so much for having me. My name is Alayna. I use she/her pronouns. I’m the Director of Community Engagement at Hope Harbor. I’ve been with Hope Harbor for almost six years now. Prior to that, I was a volunteer, for a year. And my role at the agency has to do with a lot of outreach, you know, and, raising awareness about the services  that we offer as well as providing some of that education and training for community members.

Dom: Beautiful. And then last but not least, we have Maja Antonic-O’Connel 

Maja: Hi, thank you for giving us this opportunity to have this conversation. I am a prevention specialist at Hope Harbor. So I implement prevention based programs to decrease incidences of power-based personal violence, such as sexual assault within our community. I’ve been doing this for a year and a half, but I started out as a volunteer and I was a volunteer at Hope Harbor for a couple of years before getting hired. 

Dom: Wonderful. And I have the lovely Addie here with us today. Who’s a volunteer at Start the Wave, and it’s going to be moderating this discussion. So welcome Addie.

Alrighty. So Start the Wave is a global community. Whereas Hope Harbor is situated in Kentucky in the United States. Can you speak a little bit about what crisis centers do in general and how you could find one local to you if you’re in the U S and then also if you’re outside of the U S sure. 

Maja: So, rape crisis centers, like hope Harbor, serve the survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones. And we provide advocacy counseling, healing services, as well as we work to actually prevent sexual violence from happening in the first place through our prevention efforts. Our agency provides hospital advocacy, offering a crisis intervention when assault has already been, or has already occurred. And, in Kentucky specifically the hospitals are required to call us or to contact us one, an assault occurs and we are dispatched whether it’s a trained, volunteer or staff.

We are dispatched to a hospital and we serve a 10 county area within our district. We also offer legal advocacy. So an advocate helps with IPO’s or protection orders and provides support to the survivors who opt out to go the legal route. We offer counseling, we have trained therapists who provide individual couples and family, um, counseling. We service all genders, incarcerated individuals, all ages, regardless of when the trauma has occurred and individual’s life. We’re always here, even if it happened when, you know, they come to us as adults. We also prevent something has happened when they were younger. We still offer there’s no, you know, kind of time to trauma. And, we also serve as individuals with limited English proficiency. We we strive to utilize an intersectional approach in our work.

And ultimately all of our services are free and confidential. We have a 24 hour crisis line that is staffed by volunteers and we have a local number, but there is also a national directory that could be reached, anywhere from the US or outside the US. It’s actually provided by the RAINN, which is a rape abuse and incest national network. And, um, so it’s a 1-800-656-HOPE, or you can just go to their website, And there’s also someone available for an online chat. So, it has, you know, obviously with the internet has become really accessible, right. To reach out for our services. So that’s what we do. 

Dom: Thank you. That’s super, super interesting. It sounds like you cover quite a lot of different, areas in your work. How big is the organization?

Alayna: So we are a staff of 15  to 16, right now, and that kind of fluctuates, honestly, a lot to do with  grant funding,  you know and available funding sources  to provide specific positions. That’s definitely changed throughout the years, depending on kind of what the national attention, you know, has been brought to. For example, Maja mentioned, you know, us working with incarcerated survivors and you know, a position to assist in those connections and assist in working with those local detention centers, you know, came from the prison rape elimination act and the passing of, of that bill. And then eventually the enforcement of, of that bill, you know, as well. So we are kind of a small agency given the thousands of people that we serve in South Central Kentucky. Then really we are able to do what we do because of volunteers because of, it’s usually floating between 30 and 50 volunteers that we have that assist us on the 24 seven crisis hotline that Maja mentioned along with  hospital advocacy. 

Dom: That’s so impressive. Incredible. So yeah. Can someone speak to what can someone expect when they call a center like hope Harbor for support?

Tina: Well, the first thing we want, someone who’s calling our center to know is that they’re heard and that we are going to do everything that we can to help them in their time of need. Kind kind of piggybacking off of what Maja said. Sometimes we will have clients who will call and the abuse happened when they were younger and no one believed them. So we want, when you call our office and you tell us, this is what’s going on, you are heard and we believe you. So to go along with that, so if someone’s calling and they want therapy services, then they would do a process called our intake. So essentially that is just that initial paperwork to get them in our system, as a client, sometimes people will call and they don’t necessarily want therapy, but they may want some of their legal questions asked or answered, excuse me. So then at that time we will refer them to our legal advocate. So whenever someone’s calling, we are trying our best to make sure that their needs are going to be met and that our services are rendered to them and that they can seek those services. And again, they are free. So we like to reiterate that because sometimes when people are calling, they think, well, we don’t have the money, or, um, so we are around the corner from the college. So we do see college students, and they’re concerned that by them contacting us, that their parents might find out. So we just like them to know these services are free. We don’t take any of that kind of information down. We want our clients to feel safe, as I know, safe is not the best word, but when they’re with us to know that they are in a secure place and that we are there to help them. And if we can, you know, give them resources and services, that’s what we’re there for.

Addie: Awesome. So we know that the Me Too movement started in about 2006 by the incredible Tarana Burke and has gained more popularity in recent years. Can you guys talk a little bit about the changes that you’ve seen at hope Harbor and with trends like Me Too, and time’s up and other things like that with the rise in popularity with those trends, how, what does that show up, or how does that show up, or what does that look like for you guys being on the receiving end to offer that support?

Alayna: Yes, and I will admit personally that I had not heard of the me too movement. I had not heard of Tarana Burke until, 2016, 2017 when, the Harvey Weinstein, you know, case became really popular. And then we know, right. That’s where Me Too really got the attention that it deserved a lot sooner. I have noticed though, in this, in the anti-rape movement, in America, in these, in this field, in the United States that, Tarana Burke is credited for the work that she has done. But I will say it was not, you know, a part of the conversation, you know, until then. And I will say, I am really appreciative of what the Me Too movement has offered survivors, you know, as well as, you know, advocates is like the language, and like how to have these conversations.

Because I think before then for a lot of people, it wasn’t, you know, common to bring up it. Wasn’t common to talk about sexual assault. You know, those of us in this field, we were used to it. You know, we knew how to talk about it, but others didn’t have that opportunity. I really do think it really reached across, you know, different cultures and in order to that conversation space,  as well as an understanding of how this violence is so often caused by people in powerful positions an example of, of Harvey Weinstein, you know and how vulnerable people can be just going to work you know and how the intersections of class can you know,  It can bring upon that vulnerability, uh, to where people in powerful positions you know, take advantage of others.

I will say, um, on a local level, um, and specifically at hope Harbor and on our crisis line  it was, the, the story of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, that really changed things. So when Brett Kavanaugh,  was being confirmed to the Supreme court in the United States with which he sits on, and, Dr. Ford coming forward with her story and that testimony was so impactful that we saw a significant, that is honestly the years that I’ve been at Hope Harbor. That event alone was the most significant increase in calls on our crisis line that I had, I had experienced, where people were stating that is why they were calling, you know, in stating I haven’t, I haven’t thought about what had happened to me, you know, in years I thought I was over it and hearing her story and then hearing the response, you know, of others. That was what really affected folks.

Dom: Thank You. Thank you, Alayna. Okay. So from what I’ve been told though, I have never been Bowling Green is an interesting community because it’s such a melting pot of diversity. I was wondering if you could talk about some of the considerations when working with folks from different backgrounds and lived experiences. 

Maja: Yeah, so Bowling Green is a very diverse town or city, and, we are kind of a refugee hub and I myself came to the United States as a refugee from former Yugoslavia. We were kind of like the first ones that, um, they came in larger numbers, and I think we’re currently like 10% of a bowling green population. And then, over the couple of decades, we started seeing a lot of people coming from Myanmar, Somalia. We have Iraqi population, in Cuba, some Cubans, just to name a few places from where the refugees or end or immigrants come from.

And so when, working with the refugee population, we have to kind of be, you know, vigilant about their, or sensitive to their language proficiency when we happen to be on calls or when we get a crisis call. But at the same time, you know, we have to be careful not to assume they may not be proficient in the first place, right? Because just because someone comes from a different place doesn’t mean that they don’t understand or speak English. Then sometimes we have to take obviously cultural aspects into consideration for an example, when we’re, when we may be in a hospital call and there are other family members involved in the situation. I think we have to be, you know, really careful about how we approach the situation or, you know, what we can say or not say, and, and always be attuned with the survivor and their wishes.

Then in case they do require language assistance we actually get the language line, specific interpreters line on our crisis, as well as in the hospitals and to better serve our clients who have limited English proficiency. We also translate most of our materials. We get that. We take to the hospitals with us, you know, th that have information about sexual assault in general, and about our services and basically what to expect, expect when they’re in the hospital and what happens after you know and then we also have to look at it from intersectional perspective since most of our clients that come from, in parts of the world are either different religion than dominant Christianity as it is in the United States, or some of them are Asian, some of them are African. So aside from those cultural differences, we have to be attuned to their, you know, multitude of their identities. 

Dom: So, yeah. Beautiful. Thank you. Yeah, that’s, that’s wonderful to hear and great that you’re really like thinking about it from all angles. What would you want the LGBTQ2IA+ individuals an other equity seeking communities to know about seeking support for sexual assault?

Tina: We want our clients and equity seeking communities to feel that they can come to us as well. We are, we welcome everyone with open arms. So I don’t want someone in those communities to think that they aren’t going to be able to seek services because of how they identify. We don’t judge. We want our clients to have the services to help them. We’re not thinking, Oh, this person is in this particular, you know, community or that one at the end of the day, we want them to come seek services so that they can help themselves work through some trauma to, you know, be able to use their voice to feel empowered. So those people that are in those communities are more than welcome. We want them to come and seek services because a lot of the time, again, they don’t have someone to listen to them. They don’t have people believe them, and we want to be that, that agency for them.

Alayna: And if I can, yeah, tag along to what Tina shared . We recognize that marginalized identities, I like equity seeking communities. I like that,  you know, experienced violence at higher rates, than then like the dominant cultures. And, then also kind of, you know, bringing in what Maja said too, that like their intersecting identities, that trauma can, you know, compound on each other. And, we have made a lot of efforts and continue to make efforts because we know that education never ends and never stops. You can always do more to educate ourselves, to educate our staff, to educate our volunteers on working with the queer community, working with you know, black indigenous people of color,  working with the refugee community, people who don’t speak English as a first language,  because, you know, we recognize, you know, we can say we serve everyone,  but we really do have to show it. And that’s something that, um, I think is very important at hope Harbor. As something that is important,  through our state coalition, Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, you know, in recognizing that we do need to do more, um, you know, conversations,  that Tina has had with us, you know, about like you know, the black community and the mistrust that there can be between  you know,  the medical field and the mental health field. Just acknowledging that I think is pretty huge because, I mean much less, I mean, I think we need to do the work as well, but, you know, acknowledging t that, that this hasn’t always been a space where, you know, people where a BIPOC folks can feel safe and feel heard, and that there’s a lot of systemic oppression that we, and white supremacy that we need to dismantle.

Addie: Very, very well said. Thank you guys so much for that response. I want to shift a little bit now to talk a little bit about the role shame plays and not only in, you know, sexual assault, but in recognizing in the recovery, and working through and unraveling, traumas, can you guys talk a little bit about the role shame plays and how to maybe advice that you would give for folks listening and how to begin to shift that narrative

Alayna: I can start, and then some, one of you all can tag along, you know, as well as Tina works more closely with, with clients than I do. But we know that like, shame is a huge reason why, this has the most underreported crime or one of the most underreported crimes. You know, that our culture,  really encourages the, this misinformation, this misrepresentation of why sexual violence occurs. You know, the blame is often placed, you know, on the one who experiences the harm instead of the one who did the harm, which makes no logical sense. And we don’t really experience in any other types of crime. That shame is so ingrained in our culture, that it’s really hard to unpack that it is really hard to overcome that, even when you know that it’s not true, you know, that it, it, it really is something that, is really difficult to overcome.

Just the, of the empowerment that some survivors, cause I don’t want to say all cause I, I do recognize not all survivors want to tell their story, not all survivors need people to know of their experience and, you know, kind of take back this label. For some that is really empowering and that is how they’re able you know, to begin that process of, of overcoming that shame, and then finding community as well, realizing that other people experienced this so many other people experience this, and finding that they’re not alone, because I, it is such an isolating feeling, you know, after someone experienced a sexual assault. I think this is even more important for those equity seeking communities as marginalized communities,  because of a lack of representation. So if you don’t see someone that looks like you, you know, represented, do you think that it’s deliberate, it’s really hard to be the first one. In this work that applies to men, um, you know, as well.

Tina: And kind of going off of what Alayna said with the shame in the therapy world, we use the word normalize. So we don’t normalize the act obviously, but we want our clients to know you are not the only one experiencing this. And there are times where we have clients that will say my friend disclosed to me, you know, their sexual assault. And then I knew I wasn’t alone. Then we also want to tell our clients, which we always, this was not your fault. So I think sometimes just hearing that it’s not your fault, some of that shame begins to kind of go away because they were always told this was your fault. You wore that short dress to that party. This was your fault, you got drunk, this was, and it wasn’t. and we have to, again, what Alayna said, place the blame on the people that are doing these horrendous acts, not the survivors. 

Maja: And if I may, I Concur and I think it will feel, look at the historical perspective of how, uh, you know, even legally the, sexual assault has been treated. And, you know, it’s based on  patriarchal values that we have still till this day as a society, that, that still plays a role. And, constantly like, putting that shame on the survivor, or it’s not survivor’s responsibility to clear their name, quote unquote, but rather on the other actors, you know, within the communities that they live in to actually get educated and to understand the underpinnings of why is there, is there a shame in the first place

Addie: That makes, that makes so much sense for sure. Um, one thing I just wanted to jump back quickly and revisit,  Alayna, you mentioned at the beginning, the shame being a huge reason why people don’t report, would you say that,  I remember when I volunteered for Hope Harbor, like 10,000 years ago, the statistics at that time were one in three women will be assaulted and I think one in six men, and of course we just kind of touched on how important language is, right? Like we put the emphasis on, the survivors and not, you know, one in three men will sexually assault a female or the reverse of that. Right. So, I was curious in terms of the way, now that with the Me Too movement, things like this, we’re seeing more of a, not a center stage, but a little bit more space devoted to this conversation, especially around shame and, um, and the empowerment of survivors coming forward. Has there been a rise, based on what you guys have experienced in reporting or in hospital visits and things like that since those things have happened?

Alayna: It’s hard to say that over the past year, because I think, um, you know, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our services have been down a lot. I think there’s a lot of factors that come into play for that. People are at home, they don’t have the privacy to reach out for help, statistically they probably live with, or see often their person who is harming them. This applies to children as well as adults. So getting away from that is hard, hospitals and ERs specifically are not the safest place in the, or do not seem to be right. People’s health started taking priority. So this past year has not been, I think, a good, you know, a good example, for that. And, I do think to be honest, at least in Kentucky, and I do think I could say this for the United States that the Me Too movement has kind of, I don’t want to say it hasn’t fizzled out, but it is not as prevalent as it was.


I do believe that a way that we really saw that was, our past presidential election, that sexual assault was not a topic that came up even though, the two main candidates had both been accused of sexual assault. And so I do think there’s still a lot of work to be done. I think it comes, you know, it ebbs and flows, for sure. To your comment, Addie about the statistics. So yeah, it’s really hard to get statistics around this anyway. And when it comes to sexual assault, I mean, we, we literally quote some, like we quote statistics from 2012, like that’s the most recent, you know, going on almost 10 years ago. But in Kentucky, it was from a CDC report that, it’s closer to 50% of Kentucky women have experienced,  some form of sexual violence, and close to 20% of Kentucky men.

So that’s going from one in three women to one and two, and then, going from one in six to a one in five. And so, ah, so yeah, we do know that Kentucky has higher rates of sexual violence. Then also noting, right, the very binary language of,those genders and, acknowledging the gaps and, collecting, trans and gender diverse communities,  and how that they experienced sexual violence. Because we do note that consistently throughout the years, they’ve experienced sexual violence at higher rate.

Addie: Absolutely. That’s a beautiful point. Thank you so much for bringing that up. 

Dom: Yeah. Why is it that the statistics are so dated, just not enough work and money going into those areas? I’m assuming? 

Maja: well, that’s one of the reasons, but also, um, sexual assault or sexual violence goes under-reported right. So this is only the statistics that we can get. So, there’s still outrageous. And then, you know, there’s a lot more people who decide never to, to come forward or to report, or just choose to, like, again, like Alayna said, some just don’t want to talk about it or, you know, so and then in a research, especially publicly funded research, it takes a long time. And, you know, sometimes they have longitudinal studies, right? They take five years to collect this data. They are also youth statistics as well in the U S and I think they’re done annually.

They’ll look at the range of different issues, different types of violence, and, um, you know, from carrying a weapon to the school too, you know, bullying and things like that. So we get somewhat a very picture of that throughout the years. But again, like going, I mentioned this last year, put a pause to what of things, because kids weren’t in school for an example, or the services are not as available as they were in person, but it’s a, it’s a complicated question, with no clear answer, but, of course wherever there’s public funding, it’s tied up with a lack of personnel. It’s time consuming. You have to have you know, relationships with academia and academic institutions and, follow that whole protocol. And that’s, that’s another thing about research and things like that. 

Dom: So all of you have touched on a little bit about, um, how COVID-19 has affected this past year. Is there anything else you’d like to add about how you’ve changed such as the approach to the work supporting survivors,  during this, this pandemic?

Tina: Yes, we had to change some things when, when the pandemic started. So we used to have clients in office and our, so we have an office in Warren County, Logan County, Simpson County, and also in Barren County here in Kentucky. So we went from going face-to-face with our clients to strictly tele-health. So telehealth being over the phone or zoom because, we wanted still to provide services for our clients. And so that has, you know, I think Alayna might’ve mentioned it earlier. We’ve had some clients who are in the homes with their abusers or perpetrators. So it’s a little more difficult sometimes for some clients or they’re working. And so the only time that they have for therapy is on their lunch break and they’re in their car, or some clients don’t even have access to wifi. So we are, we’re strictly on the phone with them.

And that’s, that’s difficult for therapists when we are used to looking at body language and things of that nature. But with that being said, we are still providing those services for our clients. One thing that did not change during COVID is we still had our crisis line available. So even if someone needed to talk after hours, they were just having some, some issues and they wanted to discuss it. They still were able to have that crisis line available and then going into hospitals. So we weren’t going into hospitals any more to see our clients, but we were still providing them with the services. So they were still getting information about Hope Harbor and they were still, receiving packets on how to reach out to us if need be, or we would reach out to them with our crisis line. I mean, excuse me, hospital forms. So we were still reaching out to clients. They were still receiving services. It just looked a little bit different. It continues to look a little bit different. However, we are from my understanding, talking about possible, face-to-face in person services beginning back.

Alayna: I will share too on some of the positives that has come out of the opportunities that this time, this past year, you know, is kind of offered to us. We now have a virtual, uh, survivor led support group. I do believe in person is so, you know, can be so much more powerful right in that connection. I do think virtual offers a lot of accessibility, for people who, you know, may need childcare who may not have transportation. Really our support group is statewide it’s across Kentucky. So we have those from all different areas of Kentucky coming together, which has been really amazing. And folks can find more information about that on our website. Some of the other things that we’ve done really kicked up our social media presence, because that was kind of the only way we were able to engage with the community. We were able to do that outreach. We had more time to develop our podcast, which is Still Not Asking For It. That can be found wherever you get your podcasts, as well as our blog, which is on our website as well.

Dom: And you spoke a little bit about the support group earlier in the conversation. You mentioned importance, um, people knowing that they’re not alone and finding community, um, is that something when thinking about how people can find community is this support group, obviously Hope Harbor, you mentioned it’s just for people in Kentucky, or is that something that you are thinking about, growing, considering it’s online or all the other support groups that you know of that people can find and where would you recommend they go to look for that?

Alayna: Um, I will share that, uh, thankfully the way that, we are kind of formatting our support group that folks from other States can join that that is not, an issue. The only issue I think, that it, or that we’ve thought of that it could pose is, um, just not being aware of, of additional resources in someone’s area. Of course we can, you know, we can read, we can Google it, we can research it if needed. But really folks yeah. From other States could join. You know, um, hopefully they’ll appreciate our accents. Because I do think that sense of community is really helpful. Um, and I think it’s hard to find, uh, free support groups. First off I know we did some research to try to find some additional information before starting ours.

There were support groups people had to pay for, um, to thought, I didn’t know. That was a thing. Um, I do think there are, I mean, I know that there are other, um, other things out there. Um, you know, I will say because we are concentrated in our area that is kind of where our, our knowledge and expertise lies. Um, but, but there really isn’t anything that would keep someone from another state, uh, joining our support group, because I think it’s a big deal that we’re survivor led as well. Um, because, uh, you know, the, the set up of support groups can sometimes be intimidating. Um, you know, they can be really helpful when they’re curriculum based, um, ours isn’t those, so they can come one week. Um, they don’t have to come every week, you know, they don’t have to, uh, commit to right to like a six week program or an eight week program, uh, because we know life happens. Um, so we just have different topics, um, you know, to kind of facilitate a conversation. Um, and then we also offer times for the party for the survivors, the participants to just kind of come with whatever’s on their mind. Um, it’s been, it’s been really successful, um, and it’s, it has been a great, a great positive out of the past year.

Dom: Beautiful. Thank you for sharing

Addie: Then, um, you guys talk a little bit about, Green Dot and the impact that you’ve seen it have on communities? 

Maja: Sure. I am part of the prevention department and, what I do is I’m also a trained green dot instructor. So, the green dot program is a research-based curriculum, which focuses on bystander intervention, aiming to reduce instances of power-based personal violence, such as sexual assault, dating violence, and bullying specifically, because we work with high school students. Now, Green Dot program is adapted to different settings. There’s a Green Dot college for colleges. There is a community Green Dot, which I think in the future, we will be working on it and expand into the community as well. And,actually the high school green dot program launched in Kentucky. So the initial research occurred, in our state and CDC and university of Kentucky paired up and funded this research.

Ultimately they reached out to a 13 rape crisis centers in Kentucky and asked,  for the personnel to conduct the instruction,  primarily because if in case there are any disclosures from students, we would know how to handle it. So the research took five years and after that,  they found out that there was a 21 up to 21% reduction and the incidences of power-based personal violence. And again, they specifically look at sexual violence, dating violence and bullying in Kentucky high schools. So it has been proven to be effective. But aside from the research, we also see an anecdotal evidence when we work with the students. And, um, I think that they’re more likely to intervene because the green dot program actually equipped students, was tangible strategies on how to intervene in case they see someone, you know, either being bullied or even being assaulted or, or we teach them how to recognize, red dots or certain behaviors that could potentially lead to a high-risk situation.

And then they’re more likely to talk about issues surrounding power based personal violence. Before COVID, our coalition hosted a empower Kentucky youth conference, where students from schools where we implement Green Dot throughout Kentucky would attend, and then they would it would, first of all, would give them a conference experience before they move on to colleges or workplaces, but they would present a variety of topics pertaining to sexual violence. And I think what’s really important is that they take those skills with them,you know, to help others as well, and kind of become more empathetic individuals. And, and when they’re in more high-risk environments, like once they go to college, once they, are workplace, they would know how to recognize these warning signs and also be willing to help others. The research has also shown the earlier we start with children and the earlier we start implementing these research based programs that are effective more, more time consuming, but I’m also given in doses over the years,  that actually, you know, we see a change and there is, there is a you know, a signal that our efforts are not in vain.

Addie: Yeah. I remember when, Dr. Edwards and her team were first working on Green Dot. I was sitting on the, KASAP team at the time. Are there other areas besides schools that Green Dot? I remember at the time they were thinking maybe about, military and armed services, are there other, large groups that green dot has been implemented in?

Maja: So, um, there’s a company called altruistic, which provides trainings for the green dot and they’re the ones who, and I think Dr. Edwards sits on their board they actually adapt green, uh, to basically any setting and they provide trainings. They also train us as well. So yeah, it’s actually been adapted for Air Force, I believe, but it’s made in a way that it could be really adapted to any setting, but, um, the implementation part and to sit, stay truthful, you know, and, um, to retain that fidelity of the research,requires surveying requires, different steps of implementation, which are more realistic in schools or in institutions that, that, that we have access to and that we built relationships with. But once we move into community, I think we’ll be able to reach out to businesses and eventually even bars and, and, and things like that to implement it on a larger scale.

Dom: That’s awesome. Um, okay. So for all who are dealing with trauma either past or present, or those who may fear future harm, what would you say to them? And this is a question for all of you. If you feel like responding,

Maja: I guess I can start. I think it’s important for the survivors to know that it’s never their fault, no matter,  you know, what happens when it happens or how it happens, it’s never their fault and that there are people like us all over the country willing to help. They are, you know, crisis centers, with staff and volunteers, they’re always available for the survivors and, and just reminding them that healing takes time.

And to be patient and gentle with themselves. And, you know, there are resources ultimately that could help survivors get through difficult times. And, you know, despite no healing being an ongoing process that, you know, survivors can have a fulfilling life despite difficulties that they encountered. 

Tina: And I will piggyback off of that. Um, when survivors are ready to talk, there are people there ready to listen. And I think that it’s important for them to know when they seek out a therapist, kind of like what Maja said, it doesn’t happen overnight, but eventually if they, you know, was into what the therapist is saying and using those techniques, and they’re using those skills that are given in the therapy session, it will help them. They will never forget about their trauma, but it will help them work, you know, in their future and see that they are strong. They did, you know, they did what they had to do at that time to survive. And they are survivors and, you know, they can walk with their heads up high and their, you know, back straight to know that they, they were heard, they were believed and that they took that time out to seek those services to better themselves.

Alayna: I was also going to say that you had to, you did what you had to do to survive. Um, and that I think is relevant to the, the harm itself, as well as whatever you had to do between then and now, you know, in order what, whether you got help or, you know, you press, you know, like pressed it down, you know, went through life. Right. And it comes back later. Cause I feel like it always comes back. Um, you know, I, we, we often are training teach, you know, flight fight or freeze. Um, you know, cause we always hear about fight or flight, you know, either you’re going to fight it or you’re going to run away. Um, and actually the most common response, um, you know, from research is, is to freeze. Uh, so we act kind of like a mouse who that is being, you know, preyed on, right?

You just, you just freeze cause you don’t know what to do. Your body and your brain can not like process what is happening. And in that moment, freezing is going to be, the easiest path to survival. Another, another response that I, um, have learned, have recently learned about is fawn, which is where you, go along with it. And this is kind of something that I think we are maybe the best example is maybe for ongoing abuse. So like relationship abuse, you know, is that, you do what you gotta do to get through it and it, and it sometimes can look like consent. Uh, it could just, you know, to an outside person look like you were okay with what was going on because you didn’t leave because you didn’t fight back because you didn’t tell somebody because someone asked you if you needed help.

And you said, no, you know, that those are normal responses. That, that is not, that, that does not mean you don’t deserve help. That does not mean that you wanted everything that happened to happen. People’s stories are so complicated. You know, it doesn’t, don’t, you know, it doesn’t fit into a box. I do think we can connect, you know, through this type of trauma, you know, I really just want people to know, like we genuinely mean it, that it’s not your fault. That goes for no matter what, no matter what happened or has happened, since.

Addie: It is so, so incredibly important. And I am so grateful to you all for sharing, all of those pieces of information I wanted to just quickly before we wrap up to touch on.I remember when I was volunteering at Hope Harbor and often in conversations since, while speaking with friends or colleagues or acquaintances, and there is almost an intrinsic, sense to compare trauma. Well, I was just, he just verbally X, Y, and Z, or it wasn’t rape or right. Um, can you guys talk a little bit about how to qualify trauma? We know like, I think it’s Peter Levine,  and his book about trauma talks about basically trauma as anything that overwhelms our capacity to cope. And under that really broad definition, right. That encompasses a lot of things. And so for our viewers who are listening to this, who, who might be thinking well, was that, that really bothered me, but would that be considered, can you guys talk a little bit about the importance of not comparing trauma and really how to think about, that term more broadly?

Alayna: I can start and y’all can jump in. Because this is something that oftentimes when I do presentations or talks to groups, when talking about the services that Hope Harbor offers that,, you know, yeah. Like not everybody’s experience is going to fit into a box and that doesn’t matter, that we’re still here, you know, for support and that, that is still valid. Because I think sometimes we can get, get caught up in the like legality of it, the crime, right. Um, and not everybody’s experiences is recognized as a criminal act, you know, by law. So we always say like, Oh, you have the choice to report, but for some people they don’t actually have that choice because of the trauma that happened to them, doesn’t fit into those, the boxes that you know, Kentucky law or federal law, you know, places for us.

I truly believe that, you know, an attempt at an assault, can be just as traumatic because everybody experiences trauma differently. And, and I do think that mental process is our brain trying to protect us, right. Our brain, trying to tell us what happened to you. Um, wasn’t to that bad, you know, what happened to you? Um, wasn’t, you know, someone has it worse, right? Because I think that, at least in the short term, it may be long-term for some people that your brain is thinking, okay, I can get through this. If I tell myself someone has had it worse. Um, which if that works for you, that’s totally fine. Like that’s, I think that’s common. I, I try to avoid saying normal, but, you know, I think that’s, that’s totally fine. Um, but I really don’t want that to prevent someone from getting support, you know, um, someone from thinking like, Oh, my story’s not worth telling because it’s not the worst I’ve ever heard.

Um, because that’s, that’s not fair to yourself and that’s not fair to other people. You know, either because other people may have, you know, right. They may then think, well, your story’s worse than mine. So how can I ever tell mine if you’re not going to tell yours? I, it is a really, really interesting, I think, phenomenon that we have. Um, and that’s just so right. It’s just so layered. I mean, rape culture, victim blaming, because it’s internalized, we do it to ourselves.I think it is something to talk about. So I really do appreciate that question. If one of you all want to title tag onto that.

Tina: I think you kind of said it all. Um, and you know, as the therapist I do hear well, it wasn’t that bad for me. My best friend had X, Y, and Z. And again, it’s not a comparison. Your trauma is your trauma. And if it is affecting you to the point where you have come to therapy, then we need to talk about this. Don’t minimize your story or compare your story to someone else’s. Um, and again, like Alayna said, sometimes that helps people, you know, get through, but initially we want to help, you know, we want to provide those, um, those services to you, no matter how small you feel it is, or you’re not comparing, or that it’s not compared to someone else’s, it’s a big deal and we want to help you with that.

Maja: And yeah, just to kind of like, I think it plays into the cultural norms that we have, and we can escape them and, you know, even the survivors are internalizing it. And, um, by comparing, like we said, it’s a mechanism In a way, but also because they’ve been hearing it all their lives, like, okay, well, you know, maybe I’ve done something that could have caused this, or maybe again, we kind of go back to the shame as well, because sometimes, you know, maybe survivors don’t want to admit to themselves certain things because, of the associated shame, what has happened because they feel that because of others, not necessarily of themselves, so, but trauma plays differently in everyone. And, um, and like both Alayna and Tina said, it’s just because it’s smaller than somebody else’s doesn’t mean it’s real. 

Dom: Addie you’re back, you disappeared for a quick second.

Addie: Apologies, the internet just completely went out, I’m on my phone now so, fingers crossed. 

Dom: All right. Thank you. I think that was a really powerful question to end on Addie. So unless you have anything else, I think we should wrap it up and just say thank you to all the speakers here today. Um, do you have anything else you would like to add Addie? 

Addie: No. No, I think it’s, I think that’s it. Um, yeah, just a huge amount of gratitude, uh, to everybody at Hope Harbor for being here today and for your service to the community and showing up and doing the incredibly important and, um, often not seen, uh, work that you guys do.

Dom: Yeah Definitely. Thank you so much, yet. Real deep gratitude. And like we said earlier, we’ll make sure to put all of the links to your important work in the description of this video for people to check out and also, some other information. So yeah. Thank you for your time. It’s so appreciated. Beautiful rest of your day.

My name is Dom. I’m a Queer, Non Binary, Intuitive, Activist, Creator.

I love creating. 

I’m truly fascinated by the creative nature of human souls, and I find it does me good to think about how the choice of our actions influence the future. Dreaming up a New World is the only way I stay sane and hopeful in a place that sometimes feels so disconnected and filled with neglect.

We are inherently creative beings and we choose what kind of future we want to create.

Ever since I was a little squidge, I’ve been attracted to the performing arts. I joke that I pretty much came out of the womb a dancer. As soon as I could walk I was prancing around my Granny’s kitchen or testing out art gallery floors for their slip, slide, and spin factor (while totally missing the paintings on the walls). My Dad had to endure my triple time steps before he’d even had his morning cup of tea! But I couldn’t help it. I loved dancing! It was my soul’s way of expressing, and on reflection, I think probably a way to enter into flow; to lose myself, and meditate out of my worries. 

One of my most repeated memories was when I was first taken to the Hippodrome at age four to see Giselle the Ballet. Apparently I was so engrossed in the magic of it all, that I thought it was real! At the end of the First Act when the prima ballerina dies, I was totally and utterly inconsolable.

I also loved singing and songwriting and was lucky enough to sing in a gospel choir led by a beautiful man called Everton. He introduced me to some awesome music and taught me how to harmonize. Well, that was it, I was hooked! I would spend every road trip trying to find the third above every single song! I wrote lyrics as I walked through the allotments on the way home from school, and I even wrote my GCSE Drama piece in my dreams. 

When I finally found myself in the business ten years later, after three intense and somewhat harsh years in Musical Theatre School, I entered into what I have experienced as a toxic and destabilizing rollercoaster ride. As with so many areas of life, I believe that the ways of the entertainment industry no longer serve us and we desperately need to rework and rethink the systems we’ve created.

My creative expression and direction was inevitably influenced by these systems, as well as the specific culture I was brought up into. For the most part, I experienced teachers and disciplines that wanted me to learn how to do it like “them” vs. learning how to BE more like me. 

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to learn how to dance like me, to sing like me, to explore and play in a way that lit up my soul and helped me feel free.

As an overachiever, a people pleaser, and a perfectionist that felt like they were never enough, I over worked, became totally obsessed, injured myself multiple times, didn’t allow for correct healing time, and eventually ran out of steam. My body is still paying the price of my actions. 

When I was about twenty I decided to make the move from Musical Theatre into straight acting which only intensified the rejection and difficulty. The UK has a tendency to pigeonhole performers into certain categories. It certainly wasn’t the easiest of transitions for me, but eventually I got a little role in an episode of a TV show, an indie film and a hair advert that temporarily saved me!

Then, just when I thought I had finally caught my big break and was cast in a Marvel Movie, I experienced my most challenging injury to date. A series of unfortunate and traumatic events (a story for another day) resulted in a swift decline into a shell of my former self.

I was so insecure, that even when I landed what some might call my actual “big break” with Wynonna Earp, I was convinced that it was a mistake, adamant that I was going to be fired and sent back to England. I was completely tormented by the voices in my head that punished me for not knowing certain things, told me that I was stupid, ugly, and never ever enough. I believed I had to wear certain clothes, do my make-up a certain way, and fit the “sexy young actress box” if I ever wanted to be loved and accepted.

It’s no surprise though really, coming from a business that led me to believe that if I cut my hair I would be “less desirable” and therefore “less hireable” and that I needed to cosy up to the producers and people in power if I wanted to succeed. 

One time I got cast in a role under the conditions that I straighten my teeth!

By 2017 my mental health was at an all time low. I decided that I either needed to find a way to understand my demons more intimately so that I could work with them or I needed to change career paths altogether.

That was when I enrolled myself in a ten day Vipassana meditation course in Cambodia and everything changed.

In that retreat I was handed the key to my happiness, but under one condition: I had to be the one to open the door. 

The following four years have been an unfolding into the unknown, coming face to face with my deepest fears and coming home to who I really am. 

I’ve been lucky enough to travel across India, Brazil and North America – listening deeply and allowing Spirit to guide me and show me the way.

Along this journey I founded a non-profit organization to help bring in a new, thriving world where we all belong, supporting the most marginalized among us, and funding grass roots initiatives that are led by and serve these communities. 

Start the Wave holds such an important place in my heart.

As I’m sure was the case for many of us, it was during Covid, when I was finally forced to slow down, that I realised the importance of committing to my personal healing. 

The pain in my body was only getting worse and I knew that I needed to focus on finding the source of the discomfort in my being. 

The universe seemed to agree, and when I was given the opportunity to live with a Breathwork facilitator for five months, I knew I had to say yes. 

Through the breath I have understood the core of some of my biggest wounds and it continues to be such an important teacher in my life. Breathwork has helped me to see the masks I had been wearing as protection, so deeply scared of not fitting in to what I thought I had to be. 

During these five months out West, two psilocybin and an ayahuasca ceremony presented themselves. Having lived in ayahuasca communities in Brazil, I had learnt much about the medicine. Clear intention is crucial, so I thought long and hard about what my highest self needed to call in.

What eventually came through was:

“Total self acceptance and freedom of expression.”

Well, I had no idea what would follow; a very fast unravelling and unveiling of my Non-Binary truth. 

A week or so after the ceremony I knew I had to shave my head and get rid of anything that no longer felt like me. I had to strip everything back to remember who I was underneath; who I was before the conditioning, before the media force fed me beliefs, and before the acting began. 

You see, I don’t want to act anymore. I want to create. Yes, absolutely, I want to create and play and explore how I can best be of service in this lifetime. I would love to tell stories and represent those that need it most. But when I am off screen, navigating this already confusing world, I can no longer pretend that I am someone I am not.

So, I am currently living in my 1986 VW Campervan, unsure of where my roots will be planted, and yet ironically I have never felt more at home.

My name is Dom. 

I am a Queer, Non-Binary, Gender Fluid, Human Being and Becoming.

I am a Creator. An Intuitive. An Activist. 

A love warrior. A water protector. And a wave-maker. 

But most importantly, I am the most me I’ve ever been. 

Hello, this video is coming to you from Brazil, so I do apologize for the backing music, if you can hear it. This is going to be part of the traveling series. And so I just want to get this information out to you as quickly as possible. So please do excuse the quality of the video

Recently, I had the honor of standing beside vegan activist group, Coletivo Animais Sem Amarras, I think I said it right, in a silent protest. Their commitment and dedication completely blew me away. And as we stood there, computer in hand, mask on my face for an hour in silence in front of the biggest agriculture and livestock exhibition in Northeast Brazil. Well, it gave me a lot of thinking time. These amazing animal loving vegans, meet up at least once a month to silently protest and try and raise awareness to the horrors of the meat and dairy industry. Let me start by saying, being vegan in Brazil is not easy. It’s the only way that you can basically do it is if you prepare absolutely everything at home, three meals a day, seven days a week. I mean it’s a lot of work. So firstly, if you are hats off to you, if you’re in Brazil and you’re vegan hats off to you, because what it really showed me is that you have to have commitment. And that’s exactly what this group is. But the bottom line is the world needs people like that. People that are willing to stand out and stand up for what they believe in no matter, unapologetically, no matter what the consequences. I was lucky enough to spend a few days with one of the members, a young woman who single handedly has rescued 44 cats off the streets of Natal and attempted to nurse them back to health. Some of them successfully, and unfortunately some of them not so successfully. The way that she spoke about veganism really spoke to me and opened my eyes. It made me realize and confirm to me, ultimately, that veganism is a philosophy. It’s a way of seeing the world. A world that reacts in kindness and compassion to all living species. A world where we think about the bigger picture and we treat animals as we would like to be treated. Making absolutely no exceptions for the animals that we humans have chosen acceptable to kill, because truly there is no difference between a cat, a dog or a pig. A world that we want to nurse back to health and to know that you’re doing your bit; that you’re on the side of good. A world where we don’t slaughter 150 billion animals each year. If you just want to see the scale of that, go to It’s not great.

So as I was standing there it struck me, being vegan is simply choosing to put something else other than yourself first. To put your morals first, to put the world first. All we have to do is eliminate that voice in our head. That voice that tells us that you know that, Oh, “it’s not that bad, me changing it probably won’t make that much of a difference.” To eliminate that voice that’s telling us that actually it’s okay to eat meat and dairy. Just for a second if we can eliminate the ego just for a second to see that actually in today’s day and age in 2018, with the state that the meat and dairy industry and the state that the world is in, it just makes so much sense to be vegan.

Veganism is so much more than just a diet. It’s a philosophy. It’s a philosophy that can change our relationships. It has the power to create a kinder world. One that is gentle and understanding and is grounded in, in love for this planet. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to Coletivo Animais Sem Amarras for opening my eyes and inspiring me further. Please make sure you check out their stuff on their channels. I will link it below and yes, join the vegan movement worldwide and together. We can make a huge step in the right direction. Yay. Right then. Where to now?


The most immediate change you can make to help significantly curb climate change is to switch to a plant based vegan diet. And that’s because the number one leading cause of climate change is animal agriculture. Simply put, humans eating meat is destroying our planet. And boy oh boy, do we eat a lot of it. The demand for me has reached insane proportions. The average consumption of meat today in industrialized countries is 224 grams of meat, per day, per person. That’s around 80 kilos a year. We collect our juicy piece of meat from the shop or the butcher’s right, easy peasy, but it’s important to look at how that meat arrived in our hands. For that succulent steak or big ol’ burger to arrive in our plate a cow had to be brought, up given water and fed grain. And then that grain had to be watered in a field on precious land, and because of course we’re running out of arable land, a forest likely has to be cut down. And of course the poor little cow had to be killed. Poor little cow.

There are countries right now, currently struggling to survive due to lack of food and water. And here we are watering the grain to feed the cow so that we can eat it. How does that make any sense? The meat and dairy industry use one third of Earth’s fresh water. A third! For just one quarter pound hamburger it requires over 660 gallons of water. Not to mention that livestock covers 45% of the world’s total arable land. The fact is we are running out of water, land and crops. And we’re still eating meat. But wait without me, I’m gonna die! Vegans are doing just fine. Trust me. In fact, that all huge health benefits to switching to a vegan diet.

Veganism is a big weapon against type two diabetes, heart attacks, strokes. It eliminates all dietary cholesterol. Believe me, your lovely heart will thank you for that later. And in countries where women eat less meat and dairy, there was a way lower rate of breast cancer. Listen, I could go on and on and on and on. There are so many positives to switching to a vegan diet and it’s way easier than it looks. You’ve got almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, vegan cheeses, soy yogurts. There’s vegan restaurants popping up left right and center. I even went for sushi the other night and there was an entire vegan section. Yay! Slowly but surely people are clocking on and the community is growing. 

But listen, I know realistically, this video may not instantly change your mind, but what I do hope is that it makes you think, where could you eliminate some meat in your diet? Cut down? Pick the veggie option? Meatless Mondays? Maybe it becomes meatless weekdays? Just start by having a look at your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and seeing how much meat you’re actually consuming. I’ve included a bunch of links below to help you get started. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that before. Just have a go try out some recipes and let me know how you get on. Reduce your carbon footprint by 50% by switching to a plant based vegan diet. A little bit of vegan thinking will go a long, old way to save the world.

Good luck! Oh God. That was terrible. Sorry. Um.