June 24th, 2020
Black lives matter.
In the wake of the past few weeks (and I say ‘wake’ deliberately, for every layer of that word), the hope and the uncomfortable truths I have seen and felt on my Instagram feed, I have also seen in myself and in my business.
I am not immune, nor is my company, to the ways in which racism and white privilege manifest themselves in the systems I live, work, hire and create in. Equally, I am responsible for noticing and amending the ways I have been asleep (and in some cases conveniently, even intentionally, so) to the harm caused by these forces.
Interestingly, the search for a sustainable way to process the work required to go from intent to real impact brings to mind the foundation of ‘the Nurture way’. Born from personal experience, then co-created and made richer by every ensuing retreat cohort or collaborative partnership, the Nurture approach is a compassionate, deep, and intentional investigation of oneself via the creative process. It’s about sitting with what is real and letting it move you into creative action. I regret to admit it has taken me until now to consistently apply this same process to my personal education and action plan around dismantling systemic racism. It exists both without and within. Doing my part to ensure I am no longer doing or condoning harm of any kind is crucial.
Fact: who actually sits around the Nurture table, much less feels welcome there, is not dictated, as I used to lazily assume, ‘by default’ via who buys a ticket, or even, (hello bypassing!) ‘by fate’.
Closer examination of my own privilege and the privilege inherent in the ‘wellness’ industry, of which Nurture is a part, must now be and remain a priority. The learning/unlearning taking place shows me that I, that we (as a company, as a collective, as a human race) can no longer afford to ignore the realities that keep folks from marginalized communities away from the resources they need the most. To remind you, at Nurture, those resources are: a place at the table for your body, soul and creative spirit to be fed, while connecting deeply with yourself, in supportive community.
With precious few (potent and incredible) exceptions, the Nurture cohorts and partnerships have been primarily with white companies and individuals. As a result of this imbalance we are sorely out of alignment with one of Nurture’s deepest values: that everyone has a seat at this table.
I believe and have direct experience that the potency of the Nurture experience is strengthened by the presence of the voices, talent, power and truth of Black people, Indigenous people, People of Colour, as well as those who identify as differently-abled or LGBTQ. Belief, however, is nothing without action. That is where I have faltered, and where I now vow to DO better. These vows are not taken lightly.
At Nurture, we’ve spent time in contemplation, education and reflective auditing, and have pledged to continue. We are now actively focused on ways in which both the retreat and its real power source, the Nurture community itself, can be made more accessible and welcoming to all.
Here are the steps we are taking:
– pursuing thoughtful collaborations with BIPOC makers and companies
– considering an accessible peer mentorship model
– events (and, coming soon – products!) that offer different price and entry points
– a complete restructuring of our financial model to amplify and, importantly, pay BIPOC creatives. This applies to both our retreat facilitation team positions as well as for our Self Care Starter Kit product content
– brainstorming scholarships/alternative funding models to attend Nurture retreats
– offering free access (once COVID restrictions are lifted) to The Nurture Space (capacity: 10 people) for Black/BIPOC-owned companies and/or organizations to host meetings, workshops, or team brainstorming sessions
– in collaboration with Julia Nethersole of @glass.full, establishing a diverse and inclusive local retreat founders business board to meet quarterly to inspire accountability, share resources and collectively dismantle the ways in which the systems of privilege affect the retreat and wellness industry from within
– updating our web, newsletter and social media content to consistently reflect and highlight our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice initiatives
– clearly communicating and upholding the ways in which Nurture is a safe space for all
Personally, I have been actively reading, watching, reflecting, and listening to Black voices. Additionally, I’ve been donating a portion of my monthly income in support of Black businesses or initiatives. I will continue to do so indefinitely.
While Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” contains the popular (and potent) line: “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”, the line preceding it has been a personal touchstone and reminder lately to, as the brilliant @leesareneehall puts it, ‘stumble bravely’:
“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering.”
I am not perfect, nor is Nurture. This crucial work requires grace, creativity, patience, compassion, dedication, intentional rest and an open heart. This openness extends to feedback in the comments, via DM, or by sending an email to email@example.com. There is always a place for you here to respectfully share your thoughts, creative recommendations and what is on your heart.
Photo from Nurture Fall, 2018 by Jodianne Beckford (check her out, she’s incredible!)