Unbound: Accountability and Creativity in Community

Unbound: Accountability and Creativity in Community

Warm greetings to each of you in these heavy times, so full of pain and potential,

We are all deeply and differently impacted by the pandemic quietly infiltrating bodies and families around the world, by the global movement rising up against anti-black racism demanding that we finally wake up and rise up, by the extreme environmental dysregulation causing excessive and destructive wind, fire, flood, and freeze in our communities, and by the devastating economic fallout from it all.

During this rigorous time on the planet, our Golden Bridge community continues to grow our roots of resilience and our arms of alliance, in both inner and outward practical ways. Our hearts are broken open with yours. Our feet are on the ground tending to what is relevant now. Every step.

Our work aims to support and help sustain the day-to-day needs of our beloved community members and to create safer spaces for witnessing and processing our experiences right now as peoples from diverse social locations.

In that spirit, we want to share a few things we have been doing to actualize these intentions. We hope that these small windows into our community’s soul work will inspire you as you innovate in your world work. We also hope to inspire you to continue in dance and dialogue with our Golden Bridge global community.

In the past five and a half months:

  1. We collaboratively created this seminal document, Social and Environmental Justice on the Dance Floor. It is inspiring conscious dance teachers and movement leaders around the world. May it serve your learning and leading. We keep learning through it too! 
  2. We have been consistently resourcing funds for many families and small movement communities around the world who lost all means for income. Every one of these mighty friends is now moving into new or renovated entrepreneurial activities. For now, here are some of the stories of resilience and innovation. More current ones will continue to be shared on social media. We continue to welcome and thank you for your donations. Our monthly outreach is extensive and expensive. The pay-back is the sustainability and dignity of epic community leaders working around the clock to stay safe and to creatively serve their extended families and communities. 
  3. We continue to refine our social justice teamwork within Golden Bridge. In that spirit, we have begun to study and incorporate Sociocratic principles and practices into how we run and organize our not for profit. This is part of our ongoing critical process of shifting our culture from top-down leadership to ever more collaborative leadership. 
  4. This past season, we also gathered for the first time in separate race caucus groups to deepen our alliances and our awareness as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and as white folk. This work is foundational to our individual wellbeing and to the work of coming together in ever stronger alliance. We will continue this practice forward both within Golden Bridge and within kindred community spaces. Please consider bringing this portal to your healing, humbling, and empowerment work within your community.
     
    “Caucusing can lead to more authentic and powerful integrated groups. Both people of color and white people are needed to work collectively for racial equity, but they have different work to do – precisely because of their different experiences with and location relative to white culture and privilege. Working only in integrated groups puts an undue burden on people of color to be the teachers and obscures the responsibility of white people to do their own work. The value of caucusing is so both white people and people of color have intentional space and time to focus on their respective work to dismantle racism and advance racial equity.”

    (Text excerpted from Western States Center. 2003. Dismantling Racism: A Resource Book for Social Change Organizations. Portland, OR.; Gita Gulati-Partee and Maggie Potapchuk. 2014. “Paying Attention to WhiteCulture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity. The Foundation Review: 6:1.)

    What is a Caucus and Why Show Up?
    If you are not familiar with the value of caucus space, please consider some of these resources. This is a concise list of what white and black (BIPOC) people gain from Racial Affinity Groups/WCGs. This is an excellent and brief overview of how White Caucus Groups contribute to racial justice. This is an excellent list of what white people stand to gain from doing White Caucus/Racial Identity group-work (pg. 4 is an excellent resource, the whole four pages are quite good). 

  5. We have continued to study with epic leaders in the field of social and environmental justice. Please meet some of the master educators working with our community. Please see some of their literature, films, and websites, along with those of other inspired thought leaders in the field of social and environmental justice. 
  6. We have launched the next group of SomaSource Leaders. We are honored and delighted to deepen into colleagueship with these mighty souls. They are each here to help build bridges from this world in breakdown into whatever is emerging. They are allies along the path. Reach out to them as moved. 
  7. And of course, we have continued to dance weekly. Movement Mass has consistently been a space where diverse peoples can gather and simply move. This easily accessible hour of dancing has become a cherished space for many of us who need a strong and swift way to re-regulate through the dance. There will be no dance on September 20th. Going forward, we will be on Zoom on all other Sunday for the foreseeable future. Thank you for joining us. 

Our work within Golden Bridge began as a place for dance, for unwinding trauma, opening our hearts, and awakening to the unique nature of our own souls. We have changed and matured through our time together. From somatics, we journeyed deeply into the landscape of human development and rites of passage processes. We know something about growing healthy humans in community. For decades we have been dancing into the deep and delicate terrain of social and environmental justice, leaning in and learning together. We are now embedding our years of liberatory research and practice into the fabric of our work at every level. We continue to incorporate the teachings grown from our collective center as we navigate along these unprecedented social and environmental edges in these unfathomable times.

Looking ahead:

Our next creative offering into the world will be the launching of Golden Girls Global! Saturday, October 10th at 9am MST, online. Please save the date. Our hour of gathering together online will invoke the feminine in as a force of healing and love in uniquely creative and beautiful ways. New Films about the work around the world. Global Live Music. Community Contemplation.

At 9 years old, I began gathering groups of girls together to have meaningful conversations. I have never stopped doing that work. Along with 25+ other exquisite womxn, we are so excited to share with you how we have grown this simple way of being into a global movement uplifting the lives of thousands of girls and women around the world!!!

Thank you for staying close to the conversation with us. We invite you all to show up, speak up, and/or listen.

Lots moving.
Let’s keep moving.
💫
In solidarity and LOVE!
Melissa

Image: The Unbound. Gifted to Golden Bridge By Faith XLVII (https://faith47.com)

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

~ Cornel West

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Love in public.

Love in public.

Mighty Friends,

Please pause to bathe in these images.

We have taken in so many images of violence and death as of late. Deep breath. Let’s also wash our hearts with other facets of our collective story, the miraculous and hard-earned moments when love triumphs and bodies and souls find safety in the presence of one another.

Those blessed times when souls ignite through the wild creativity catalyzed by our differences and the urgent call to awaken and move to right action.

Let’s remember the love and the leadership.

The resilience and the brilliance when we come together to pray ourselves and all our relations whole.
Within Golden Bridge, we have been working for decades on the frontlines of somatics, social justice, and initiatory processes. As we find new ways to share our stories of struggle, healing, and resilience, along with pathways for meeting the potential of these times, we will be sharing tools for our collective liberation. We continue to lean in and learn together.

We remain committed to keeping our feet in the beat, on the ground, in the real life of our beloved community members around the world. This work is rigorous. And, we are blessed to be together on these front lines. Movement truly deepens and uplifts the hard conversations.

Through it all, we will continue to dance. Please watch for the Movement Mass sign-up email on Sunday mornings. It is best to register in advance. That will help you avoid showing up late to our very short weekly event. The first few minutes are always devoted to setting a very specific tone for the day’s dance. So come on time!

Thank you to all of you who are donating to support these practical needs for many; food, sanitary products, medical care, internet, and even shelter. We feel your support behind us and all around us.

In addition to moving the life force together through the dance, in the next couple of weeks, we will share more about our generations of work dedicated to dismantling oppression with both a very intimate and an expansive perspective on systems. Thank you for your patience as we all deepen our learning and expand our loving.

This is the time love warriors.

Kneeling ~
In respect.
Melissa

P.S. Please keep studying friends!

(All photos from Golden Bridge programs & performances)

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

~ Cornel West

Originally sent to our MailChimp list ~ please join us to keep in the loop and get notices like this in your inbox.

Solidarity

Solidarity

Dear Moving Community,

With heaviness in our hearts, fire in our bellies, and focus on the essential work at this time of challenge, we are being called to courageously channel every breath, every dollar, every creative deed to creating a more just, equitable, inclusive, and safe world.

Together we listen, we learn, we mobilize, and we pray as we push up our sleeves to meet this rugged time of initiation. Our work together continues to orient towards the potentials available at this turning point. We respectfully remember that we were made for these times, with the clear understanding that no one should ever have to face the oppressive realities that marginalized people around the world live with every day, realities that far too many of us are just waking up to see and feel.

This collective waking up is initiatory and mandatory.

“The plea is simple – look at it.”
~ James Baldwin

Together we aim to see what is really going on and has been for WAY too long.

As we navigate our way through this global rite of passage, we recognize that the threshold ordeal is unfolding in the spaces between us. Doing the daily work of seeing what is so, in order to move towards healing, reconciliation, and reparations is critical to the sustainability of all life.

Every step counts.

Below are some of the small steps we can be taking as we open our eyes, our hearts, our minds, and our hands in this critically transformational time.

  • Protesting safely. Remember that we are still in the COVID pandemic. Masks do help.
  • Working to change policy at every level where systemic oppression exists, which is at every level. (Ideologically, institutionally, interpersonally, and internally: See Youth On Fire: pp. 268-271.)
  • Learning about one another’s socio-cultural locations. Humbly opening to our blind spots.
  • Recognizing how our privileges impact the oppressive realities of our beloved community members near and far is an ongoing responsibility.
  • Creating safe spaces for the essential work of repair to unfold between us is also key. Lean into the hard conversations, every day.
  • Communicating our genuine sorrow for the ways we have hurt and dishonored the people of color in our lives. Moving beyond words into action.
  • Sharing resources generously and consistently is also essential. This includes respectfully paying people of color for their expertise and time.
  • Redistributing our resources is essential so that others can simply eat, get on-line, have access to clean water, medical care, meaningful work, well-being at every level.
  • Providing access to opportunities for learning and leading to the endless number of under-resourced people in our lives.
  • Moving the energy within to mobilize effectively without.
  • Humbly sitting in the seat of student every step of the way, as the Way.

We may know this. But this is not only the work of now. This is the work of every day, every day that we are blessed with more breath, essentially, for the rest of our lives.

In solidarity and love, we begin to share some of the principles and practices that the Golden Bridge community has been dancing with as a diverse community for decades. We hope that this will help to inspire our collective call to action. Each week, we will share different resources.

? Our Golden Bridge Social Justice Bibliography developed over years, including books, films, and critical organizations doing the work on the social justice front lines.

Recently received, powerful resources sent by Elder Paul Hill.

Race Forward is one of the great teaching organizations. They are offering online trainings on racial justice.

Golden Bridge’s ever-evolving Social Justice community statement.

This Sunday during Movement Mass, we will dance to unwind the traumas living in our bodies while continuing to liberate the creative courage to take action NOW and for the long haul. We will create a moving space for the exploration and expression of our anger, our grief, and our ever-deepening love. We honor life by deepening into our vulnerability and power through every blessed breath.

Please know that your tax-deductible donations, including your sliding scale Movement Mass contributions, are all supporting people of color in our global community including: six individuals together serving thousands of diverse young people; the work in three community centers serving children and Elders; educational trainings and degree programs for 12+ emerging leaders; a number of families moving into entrepreneurship; and medical care for some of our soul friends around the world. You likely have danced with most of these beloved beings.

We are supporting our colleagues’ basic needs during this crisis so that these leaders can reorient their daily work in order to do the soul work they came to do, moving out of COVID vulnerable factories into the actualization of their visions serving the world. Your financial support is greatly appreciated and needed.

You know these people. We are family.
 

 

Golden Bridge is dedicated to our collective renewal through the liberation of the creative life force. How we use our language, our money, our time, all of our resources are reflections of how we embody this strong intention to be a just and inclusive community.

Thank you for reading, donating, and above all finding the ways that you are guided to help build golden bridges of justice, equity, inclusion, and peace.

Let’s keep mobilizing!

Shalom,
?
Melissa

(Banner Photo: Golden Bridge, South Africa Dancing)

“It is not upon you to finish the work.
Neither are you free to desist from it.”

~ Rabbi Tarfon

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Honoring Black Men in our Community

Honoring Black Men in our Community

Behold. 
BLACK MEN. 

In the wake of yet another brutal murder of an innocent Black man, we pause to honor the beloved and brilliant Black men in our Golden Bridge global community.

We speak your names in respect. In life. In gratitude for your endless streams of creative power pouring forth onto our dance floors, your noble hearts loving us all so fiercely, your mighty minds quickening our thinking, your souls inspiring the world. Your every breath is precious and a gift. We stand with you.

In devotion, I share these soul qualities.
You are these and so much more.

Elder Paul Hill. Guardian of the Generations. Teacher of Truth.
Ramon Gabrielloff-Parish. Magical Alchemist.
Vusi Makanya. Benevolent King.
Benson Wereje. Peace Visionary.
Chic Streetman. Healing Song Weaver.
Fanon Hill. Mystical Activist.
Frank Mugisha. Noble Artist.
Tuari Taylor. Protector of the Mother.
Michael Kemp. Divine Son.
Sadhiki Francois. Honorable Leader.
Eric Egesa. Creative Seer.
DJ Mahanga. Spirit Spark.
Fahadhi Kiryowa. Humble Friend.
Kitwana. Inspired Innovator.
Darius Simpson. Word Warrior.
Adam and Alex. Mysteries Unfolding.
Rapasa Nyatrapasa Nyatiti NyaDala. Ancestor Songmaker
Rachard Robinson. Lion Warrior.
Jahfaa A’nu Amadhi. Non Binary Shapeshifting Artist
DeAngelo Greene. Soaring Protector.
Allen Wilson. Music Minister.
EdWord Galan. Dignity Storyteller.
Jordan Bethea. Word Whisperer.
Thutuka. Elder Seer.
Shane Cockrell. Prayer Guardian.
Luke Gerzon. Golden Innovator.
Asanta. Divine Dancer.
Bekani. Guardian of the Young.
Treasure. Pure Treasure.
Loyd Baleni. Open Channel.
Dayvon Williams. Resilient Dream-maker.
Nick Byrd. Cosmic Sun.
Joseph Munyambanza. Wise Protector.

And to all those unnamed brothers, Elders, teachers, friends, we stand with you also, in respect. May we humbly walk forward in right relationship.

Movement Mass this week will honor the brave and moving work that our Black colleagues are doing in their communities around the world. All of the proceeds from this weekend’s Movement Mass will go directly to their works on the front lines.

Separate & Together.
Always.
Dancing.
?
Melissa

“We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

~ Martin Luther King Jr.

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Stories of Impact & Resilience

Stories of Impact & Resilience

Below are a few of the profound ways that our mighty world leaders have lifted up themselves and their people during this crisis. 

Xoli Fuyani ~ Capetown, South Africa


In South Africa, Xoli has been able to draw on our support to bring sanitary pads, hand sanitizer, masks, a journal, a small chocolate, mobile data, and hope to her girls in the townships of Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill.

“These girls are particularly affected by the secondary impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. Many people living in townships rely on informal sector employment, much of which has dried up under the lockdown, leading to unemployment. Moms are often caught between buying bread for their family or sanitary pads for their daughters. These are very difficult decisions to make when living under economic stress.”

Amidst all of this, Xoli has been able to focus on her long-term students, a group of brave teenage girls. Each afternoon, she meets with her girls on WhatsApp, conducting her girl’s group to support their need for connection and perspective. Our resources not only supported these basic supplies, but Xoli has been able to provide the girls with internet so that they can stay in touch.

Without internet, none of these quarantined teenage girls can reach out to check on and uplift each other. Information about self-care in these times would not be accessible. Many of these girls are the leaders in their families, providing healthcare information and advocacy for those in need. Our love in action has supported their capacity to meet up online one hour a day.

Of course, after years of empowering the girls to make their own reusable cloth menstrual pads, it has been sad for Xoli and I to now be guiding them back to using disposable products. Hopefully, this will be a short-lived new/old norm, but for now without water there is no way to wash the reusable pads. Xoli has worked diligently to get water supplies into the township in a way that did not cause large groups to gather and expose one another unnecessarily to Covid-19. Thank you Xoli for your powerful advocacy and steadfast tender loving care.

“Golden Bridge funds were able to ease the situation and brought back Dignity for our girls.”
~ Xoli Fuyani

DJ Grin the Peacemaker ~ Ohio, USA


Donation Mahanga, otherwise known as DJ Grin the Peacemaker, is a resettled Congolese refugee living in Akron with his wife, Sifa, and his 5 children. He describes this time in the following way:

“It’s been a traumatic situation for me and my family/community, more than it was when we were fleeing out of our country Congo with over 6 million people killed!! As a youth and community servant, it is the most hectic moment in life to be told to be in your house, not to go to work when monthly bills can’t stop coming in, being told not to visit nor being visited by anyone in our community.”

DJ respects that he could have lost his life like so many others who faced genocide, famine, and disease as refugees. He describes the miracles in his life of meeting the right people and the Golden Bridge community, the gifts of receiving words of encouragement and support from all of us. With our help, he was able to step out of a work situation that was putting him at risk. DJ now aims to create new ways of generating income. For now, he is recovering his health and reaching forward to his community, encouraging others to be safe and spirited in these rugged times. DJ will continue to bring his musical ministry to the world in ways that will heal, educate, and inspire. Check his video out above. This epic peacemaker is grinning love and gratitude to us all.

“God created us for a purpose, and we can’t go away from it, neither can we die before we accomplish that mission.”
~ Donation Mahanga

Yolanda Demetrio ~ Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil


Yolanda Demetrio is the founder and director of Espaço Aberto, a revered dance studio serving hundreds of children, teens, and adults in the Rio de Janeiro area, especially in Rocinha, the largest favela in Brazil. We learned that the Covid-19 virus is fast-moving through her community. It is impossible to quarantine at home with people living so close to each other in the favela.

Without jobs and internet, information and supplies are hard to come by. People are literally being left to die on the streets. Yolanda has been a steadfast leader, providing food staples, love, cleaning products, and online dance classes to her people.

“Com ajuda de Golden Bridge pude ajudar que ficaram felizes porque tinham o que comer os dias seguintes.”

“With the help of Golden Bridge, I could help families who were happy because they had something to eat in the following days.”
~ Yolanda Demetrio

Yolanda talks about how this basic support is “…saving our lives.”

Our Golden Bridge team knows that our lives are forever woven with this beloved community. We save and serve one another’s lives in different ways. Our work together in Rocinha this past year has deepened our bonds of love and shared devotion to raising healthy leaders in wholesome communities. We trust that we have an alliance that will be strengthened through Covid-19.

“Obrigada por deixar essa raiz com essas meninas mais forte para superar o inesperados. Você não tem noção o quanto sua estadia com elas as transformaram encorajarem. Gratidão eterna gratidão.”

“Thank you for leaving this root with the girls stronger to overcome the unexpected. You don’t have the notion of how much your time with them transformed and encouraged them. Gratitude, eternal gratitude.”

We feel this way too Yolanda. Gratitude, eternal gratitude!

?

All prayers on deck dear friends.

More stories of resilience and creative liberation to come in the weeks ahead!

We welcome your additional donations to support our leaders in supporting their communities around the world:

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Money. Impact. Gratitude.

Money. Impact. Gratitude.

Hello friends,

Threshold consciousness can be a blessing! In this time out of ordinary time, if we are safe, supported, and soul searching, we are able to access a heightened sense of reality. The old is dying away and the new is not yet in view. That which is true becomes very clear. The rest becomes toxic and urgently in need of change.

The delicate and precious nature of life is revealed on this Covid precipice. Our vulnerability and brilliance are ever more evident. If we are blessed to not be in a moment-to-moment survival dance, we actually are being given the space and the consciousness to hone our visions and discern how we use our precious energy every blessed day.

I am more clear now than ever that my life is dedicated to liberating stuck energy, grounding, resourcing, and mobilizing life-giving creative currents.

In my own psyche, this is true. On the dance floor with individuals, this is true. Within relationships, this is true. In diverse community dynamics, this is true. And yes, even with money, this is true.

As we move into this new era, I would like for us all to talk more openly about money.

Golden Bridge is indeed a non-profit organization, however, it is not a charity. We invest in somatic social change agents. We share resources so that the same creative intelligence that many of us have been so privileged to liberate and develop can also be liberated and developed in others who have access to fewer outer resources.

My personal resources, financial and otherwise, have been dedicated to creating safe spaces and experiences where people can come home to themselves, to heal their pasts and move into their futures with the vision and the inner and outer resources needed to make their dreams come true.

Rarely do we just give people money to survive. We offer folks tools to establish their own pathways for survival.

Now is a different time, however. This is a time to do whatever it takes to make sure that our global family members are truly safe and fed.

Over the past month and a half, our dance community has helped to generate some financial resources to help our beloved community in diverse situations stay alive and online. Funds for basic necessities like soap, water, beans, rice, and internet, yes internet, have been shared.

I want to thank you all for expressing your love by helping us raise some of the funds needed to support our long-term students of this work, many of whom are now pillars in their communities.

Whenever basic survival money has been sent, our community members have been encouraged to find ways to use these resources to not only establish basic sustainability and safety for themselves, but to also inspire their students to be safe and creative too. In the next post we will highlight a few of the profound ways that these mighty leaders have lifted up themselves and their people during this crisis.

Making something out of nothing is an art. If ever there is a time to manifest magic in the midst of madness, now is the time. I hope that these initial stories shared inspire you to turn your gifts into gold in the thick of this pandemic and into the future.

Thank you again for your support.
Let’s keep the energy flowing, financial and otherwise.

In prayer and focused action,
?
Melissa

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

~ Lilla Watson, Indigenous Australian or Murri visual artist, activist, and academic.

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Free Gift!

One wave from our double CD IGNITE: Music to accompany the journey through the SomaSource rite of passage process and your dances.

Embodying Life’s Rhythms is music to move get your body moving! This is a 13 minute full wave through all 5Rhythms® orchestrated by the Golden Bridge Rhythm Keepers. Sacred instruments woven into a layered tapestry of inspired sound. A daily warm up. A ceremonial doorway. A chance to simply dance!

Thank you for joining the dance!