Facing change can be hard. I know. I have had to change a lot. It started when I was bullied in the sixth grade. I had my tailbone broken in a game of Smear the Queer, and I had to learn quickly how to tuck everything away deep inside. That change caused a lot of problems. It also helped me survive.
There was change in where I called home. First, it was the western suburbs of Minneapolis, where the City stood erect on the horizon every time we drove to the mall. Then, for a moment, it became that City, living right on Loring Park across the freeway from the Walker Art Center while working in the second cohort of Americorps. My longing for the City drew me to San Francisco, a place that took me over four years to finally call home (and tentatively at that.)
Home in San Francisco grew after getting married and experiencing a sense of permanence of place. This permanence led me to question, “What is this place?” It was thenI learned the original name of this land, Yelamu, named by the Raymatush and Ohlone peoples. This opened up an even deeper commitment to honoring change in ways that heal rather than harm.
I've changed careers / jobs / work more times than I can count. Each one has brought with it a deeper understanding of who I am, what I value, and where I am willing to compromise. A lot of these changes have been hard. It felt like my whole world upended when I left working in youth development and ended up a barista at my neighborhood cafe. But it was while washing dishes with undocumented workers that I actually began to understand the value of labor, and how I could practice solidarity regarding wages as the only documented staff.
Change brings with it opportunity to do something / be someone different. It doesn't require abandoning all of who or what you are. Rather, it gives us a moment to pause, reflect, and dream. From these dreams, choices arise. How we choose is often where a lot of us get lost.
For me, navigating change and finding my way has always been easier with comrades (not just friends or family, though they are crucial, too.) Comrades are the people that help me question my bias and assumption and see alternatives to the way things have always been.
One comrade that is instrumental in my adult life is Crystal Mason. Crystal and I met in that cafe. A few years later, we co-created A Feast of Dreams, which brought together other queer and trans artists at the Red Poppy Art House. We then created a small practice, and introduced it to folx nationally through The Alliance Youth Media Network. In 2021, we started a small experiment called Queering Dreams, which gave birth to a workshop framework and two distributive networks. Together, all of this helped us co-create what we now call Tree of Change.
Since January 2022, we've been supporting clients (from individual artists to a race and equity in land use organization to cultural institutions) in navigating change. We help folx slow down just a bit and make space for dreaming. We create the conditions for all to feel and be included in ways that center care, compassion, and belonging, so that as we change we also travel a path / way that leads towards liberation from shame, punishment, plunder, domination, and oppression.
Now, we have a brand new workshop called Cultivating Belonging on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, from 11am to 1:30pm PST / 2pm to 4:30pm EST. We will be sharing tactics we use to set culture in physical and virtual space.