One of the most inspiring parts of my job is connecting regularly with our brilliant presenters at Hollyhock. A conversation that stands out to me from recent months was with Sarah Crowell, who was scheduled to teach a program with Akaya Windwood in 2020, until Covid decided otherwise.
We were discussing the idea of “resilience,” and I shared that my long-held interpretation of this word and idea was that it was about form, structure, and strength. Sarah, a professional dancer and movement builder, reframed the idea for me – that resilience was actually about being fluid and flexible… that in fact the ability and capacity to bend and move with changing conditions is what makes us resilient. Yes, Sarah, yes – right you are.
A lot of people have written many things about resilience this year. We have been tested in every way, in the most complex ways, to the limits of our capacity. Another one of our presenters, Gayle Karen Young Whyte, called this ‘the year of ambiguous loss’ in our conversation. This poetic phrase has been lodged in my brain since.
How do we remain resilient in this relentless year of ambiguous loss?
I have not connected with these people in person for a long time, as much as I would love nothing more. These connections happened on phone calls or Zoom videos – sound familiar? And yet, we were able to connect – really drop in – during our conversations. Similarly, we have been continuously surprised about the deep and meaningful connections that have been happening in Zoom rooms around the world since March. At Hollyhock, we started off experimenting with Sheltering in Community, moved to ‘Hockshops, then the (wild and inspired) Shine the Light: A Hollyhock-a-thon Solstice Benefit, with so many more in between. To date we’ve held 30 online programs and events, many of them free or by-donation community offerings, with over 6,000 registrations. Our Unpacking Systemic Racism series had us donate almost $10,000 to Black and Indigenous led organizations.
What we’ve learned along the way is that Virtual is here to stay. It’s not just a response to Covid – though it ‘Covid-proofs’ our programming in a way, should restrictions on physical gathering stay in place. It means we can continue to deliver on our mission as an organization – “to create meaningful experiences that inspire personal growth and social transformation” – but in a ‘land-inspired’ virtual space. That means hosting as many of our online sessions as possible from notable and much-loved areas around our campus – the garden, Kiakum, the lodge deck. If so many of us can’t be on the land for now, shall we feast our eyes on it together, at the very least? It also means remembering our humanity on screen by infusing sessions with physical embodiment and creative engagement.
Our experimentation from 2020 is informing so much of our thinking going into next year. Oddly, the challenge of constraints is sometimes where our most inspired brainstorms come from. How would we wire our spaces so we could livestream presenters from the safety of their homes, to teach to live participants that are physically distanced in Olatunji Hall? How do we bring the beauty of Cortes Island to our community in a high-definition, multi-sensory, and deeply engaging way? There are so many benefits from an accessibility and carbon footprint standpoint… and so we are pushing ourselves to re-imagine, to grapple, to dream.
One of the ideas I’m most excited to be co-conspiring on right now is a Liberation Series with Erika Rose Santoro, which will be an original online collaboration between us and Kripalu, a Center for Yoga & Health based in Massachusetts. The vision of this series will be to explore liberatory practices in areas of Conscious Leadership, Climate Justice, Creativity, and Embodiment. Launching in the week following the U.S. Election, it will feature some of our luminary presenters at a time when community and connection will be needed most. The time is now – to be a different kind of leader, to be radical in our self-care, and to centre our collective transformation.
So let’s drop in together. I really hope it will be on our lodge deck soon. But in the meantime, I’ll send you a link and smile brightly at you through my screen.
Learn more about the Liberation Series, a collaboration with Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health here: https://hollyhock.ca/p/4265