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Livestreamed on this page on Tuesday 14 April 2020 at 8 a.m. HST (Honolulu, UST-10) / 10 a.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC-8) / 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4).

United States
Tuesday 14 April 2020

Look for the Helpers: Learnings and Teachings for Building Resilience (ASL & Captioned)

an #ArtistResource talk with Leslie Ishii, Lana Smithner, Aaron McKinney, David Shmidt Chapman, and B. Anderson

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Email your questions and comments for the panel to [email protected]


Abigail Vega: Welcome, everybody. Welcome, friends. I'm Abigail Vega, my pronouns are she/her/hers, and I'm one of the producers of today's session, along with my colleagues.

Hannah Fenlon: Hi, I'm Hannah Fenlon. It sounds like we have a little bit of background noise on the call, so if I could ask our contributors to just mute their audio, that would be great. Yes. I'm Hannah Fenlon, my pronouns are she/her/hers.

Amara Brady: I’m Amara Brady, my pronouns are she/her/hers.

Abigail: And we also have--

Ann Marie Lonsdale: I am Ann Marie--

Abigail: Ann Marie Lonsdale, who I--

Ann Marie: She/her/hers.

Abigail: Hi, Ann Marie, sorry about that. Welcome, everybody.

Ann Marie: It’s okay.

Abigail: Nicole is off this week. I know, don't be sad, but she will be back. And we do wanna say, we're joined by our newest team member today, Amara Brady, she just introduced herself. Amara started working with us last week as a project manager for this growing, evolving project, and we're so happy that she's bringing her producing prowess and generous spirit to this team. Welcome, Amara.

Amara: Thank you for that warm introduction. Today we're excited to invite five special folks into our Zoomiverse, that's a cute name. We're joined by B. Anderson, David Schmidt Chapman, Aaron McKinney, and Lana Smithner, and are facilitated by Leslie Ishii. All of these folks have an arts practice in either their current or former lives, but they're joining us today as faith leaders, community organizers and healing artist practitioners to attend to our spirits, and we're really grateful that they're here.

Ann Marie: When we were building this conversation, we felt it was important to center leaders who are also artists, folks who are drawing upon their artistic and creative practice to fuel their spiritual one, and vice versa. Every culture on Earth shares stories and ceremony as a means of healing, and we're seeking to work in that tradition.

Hannah: That being said, we are releasing ourselves from the exacting standard of toxic positivity or capitalistic self-care mentality that has already permeated our culture as this crisis wages on. We are not here to learn how to be more productive during a pandemic. We are here to talk and listen about grief, loss, and healing, and maybe gratitude. We might laugh today, folks. We don't know where this conversation will take us, but we are here on the journey with all of you.

Abigail: In addition to our panelists, we also like to thank HowlRound, Vijay Mathew, JD Stokely, and Thea Rodgers in particular for the vital role that they're playing. And we're also grateful for our ASL interpreters and the National Captioning Institute.

Amara: Speaking of technology, when the internet connection freezes, we invite you to take a breath and do a body scan, release the held parts of your body. Or it may be beneficial to reflect on what has been said and where those ideas land with you. You're in good company. We have had thousands of people joining us for these conversations over the past few weeks, and we invite you to use the hashtags #ArtistResource and #HowlRound to join the conversation online.

Abigail: Our producing collective is committed to a practice of community tithing, or donations, meaning that we extend 10% of our cash resources to collectives and organizations who are providing relief to the most vulnerable populations of freelance artists. So, we pay our speakers today, as well as commit to a donation towards an organization doing this important work. This week, we're contributing to the Third Root Community Health Center in Brooklyn, New York, where B. is actually currently a practitioner. To learn more about Third Root, follow HowlRound on Twitter @HowlRound. H-O-W-L-R-O-U-N-D. They just tweeted out Third Root's website, and they'll also be tweeting out other relevant links as this conversation continues.

Hannah: If you get something out of today's conversation, which we sincerely think that you will, add it to our tithe and we'll send it on to Third Root. You can Venmo us directly to @COV, C-O-V, 19 dash F-A-R, which you can see on the screen, through 4 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow, April 15th. These funds won't go to HowlRound, nor to us personally, but they'll be added directly to that donation. On our resource site, which is covid19freelanceartistresource.wordpress.com, and we'll share that link out via the Twitter feed as well, you will see a link to funds raised and who they went to. So, we're practicing being completely transparent. Don't stress if you can't give. We are all taking care of each other in our own best ways.

Abigail: Thank you. [Talking to an off-screen producer.] Thanks, Thea, we're good with that for now. [Back to the panelists.] Before we go any further, we wanna take a moment to lift up the spirit of Diane Rodriguez, who's an artist, a mentor, a leader, and a friend to so many folks. For those who don't know, and for those tuning in from the Theatre community, and especially for those from the Latinx Theatre community, Diane was a giant. She transitioned from this life very early this past Friday morning, Good Friday, and the loss of her presence is hitting folks hard. So, we already had this conversation planned, and in the works, and really, it couldn't have come at a better time. So, I know we're on a webinar, inhabiting digital space, but maybe just for a few seconds, for a few moments, let's pause across all our collective timezones, and just pause for Diane.

[They pause for a moment.]

Abigail: And with that, I'm delighted, so honored, to pass the mic to Leslie Ishii, who will be facilitating this conversation.

Leslie Ishii: Take that moment for Diane, too. She was a dear friend, a fellow artist, and mentor to so many of us. So, from myself, too, my deepest love and condolences to the Latinx Theatre, and arts and culture communities. Rest in peace and power with our ancestors, Diane. So, now I invite us to take a collective breath together. Free will. Thank you. And I am also deeply appreciating the work of HowlRound that brings us to this conversation today, Look for the Helpers: Learnings and Teachings for Building Resilience. It is my honor and pleasure to be with you all and with this esteemed panel. And as we begin, I am also honored to share in the sacred practice of land acknowledgement, and will invite our panelists to join in acknowledging the land where we are each set upon, where we are Zooming in from. I'm calling in from Juneau, Alaska, on Tlingit Aani, Tlingit Land, and we honor the T'aaku Kwaan and A'akw Kwaan Aani of the Tlingit people for their stewardship since time immemorial. And I'm grateful to be in this community to honor the resilience of the Tlingit peoples, and all Alaska Native descendants, elders, and ancestors. And as they would say in Tlingit, gunalcheesh. Thank you. Now I open it to our panel to share their names and where they're calling in from. Lana, would you start us off?

Lana Smithner: Yes. I am Lana Smithner, and the Seminole and the Timicua care for the land I'm currently living on, and that's also called St. Augustine, Florida.

Aaron L. McKinney: Hi, I'm Aaron L. McKinney, calling in from the land of the Lenape and the Canarsee people in Brooklyn, New York.

B. Anderson: Hálito, everyone. I'm B. Anderson, my pronouns are they and them. I am calling in right now from the Muscogee and Creek people land, and what's also known as Atlanta, Georgia. Yakoke!

David Schmidt Chapman: Hello, everybody. I'm very happy to be here. My name is David Schmidt Chapman, my pronouns are he and him, and I'm calling in from the land of the Matinecock people, which is also known as Port Washington, Long Island, New York.

Hannah: Hi, everyone. Hannah Fenlon again. I'm calling from the Kickapoi Kickapoo and Miami ancestral lands in Central Indiana.

Amara: Hi, everybody. Amara Brady again. I'm calling in from the land of the Lenape people in New York.

Abigail: Hi, everyone. It's Abigail calling in from Coahuiltecan Lands, now known as San Antonio, Texas.

Ann Marie: Ann Marie, calling from the land of the Ohlone people in Oakland, California.

Leslie: Beautiful, thank you, everyone. And on behalf of the staff of the HowlRound Theatre Commons at Emerson College, they wish to respectfully acknowledge that their offices are situated on land stolen from its original holders, the Massachusett and the Wampanoag people, and they wish to pay their respects to those people past, present, and future. And since our activities are shared digitally to the internet, let's also take moment to consider the legacy of colonization and privilege embedded within these technologies and structures. We are using equipment and high-speed internet not available in many Native, Indigenous, and marginalized communities. And now I invite you to also take a moment to bring to mind where you are set, and to also bring to mind an intention, an action that you could take to build your advocacy for the stewardship of the land in support of our Native, Indigenous nations and their people. Thank you. And now as I call in our ancestors, and we are all gathered for this session, I would like to offer some thoughts right up front and then it's important to hear from each of our panelists. Then we'll take questions, if any of you have any that are tuning in, and we will field those questions by email. Our HowlRound producers will be helping us to share those questions out, and then our panelists will address and explore them. So, thank you ahead of time for your participation. And I can share that as I've been reflecting upon our subject of building resilience, we wanna notice it's important first and to name that we're in the midst of a health emergency, and this brings me to my learnings that recently I experienced from a highly respected colleague, Vera Starbard, our resident Mellon playwright at Perseverance Theatre. Vera brought our staff through an important moment of self-reflection, and referred to this work as some of the first questions you can ask yourself when you're confronted with an emergency, and in our case, an ongoing emergency or trauma. Vera referenced this as mental health first aid, an approach utilized by Green Dot Bystander Intervention, and that's an educational organization for violence, abuse, and trauma reduction and prevention. Of the many programs and strategies that they have developed, today I will simply share that their work names three stages that we can consider, and when you're in the midst of an emergency or a trauma, like we are in this pandemic. So, I will name the three stages, and then I invite you to reflect for a moment to determine which one you identified with. Here are the three stages. Preserving life is the first one. Number two, preventing further injury. And number three, promoting recovery. So, take a moment for yourself now and ask, which state am I in? One, preserving life, two, preventing further injury, and three, promoting recovery. As we are in the midst of this health emergency, and we are not certain, as you're reflecting here, you're not certain when it will be over, or even what is next and how many more deaths. I know someone who died, but can I stay safe? So many questions. It is probably safe to say that most of us are in stage one or two or vacillating between the two, between stages one and two. And it's important to continue to reflect, notice what stage and why, and perhaps beyond this call, if you know someone you can connect with, share what stages you both feel you're in and why. Or, perhaps you do a phone journal, a voice journal, and/or write and continue to process for yourself. Often once we take time regularly to identify what stage and we share that out, you can actually begin to open up the parts of our brains, our beings, that have been in shock, and our creativity and our problem solving can begin to flow again. And of course, connecting with others helps that, too. So, before we get started I just wanna share, be kind and patient with yourself, and try not to judge, as it is common to move back and forth between these various stages, and often we don't get to recovery until we know or are at the end of how we've been in the emergency, or how we've been in a traumatizing condition. So, with that, can we take another breath? I invite you to take another breath as we transition. Beautiful. I am so grateful to be able to share space with these panelists. And now each of them will introduce themselves and share a bit about their teachings and learnings related to building resilience. So, now to start us off, I pass the baton to Lana Smithner. Thanks for being with us, Lana.

Lana: Thank you. Lana here, my pronouns are she/her/hers. I want to acknowledge the fear of death and physical death that is surrounding most people and facilities right now. And as I watched drone footage of a mass grave being dug in New York I felt both hopeless and hopeful, weirdly paradoxically, and I'll explain that in a little bit. I wanna take a moment to breathe again, because I know what I'm saying can sound like a downer at best, and at worst, terrifying. However, the U.S., Turtle Island, has had a problem or rather an unbalanced relationship with death since colonization claimed this land, since people from Europe who left their ancestors' graves, bones, and past behind to make this new world came here. I need to take a quick moment to acknowledge that I am a descendant of these colonizing and culturally orphaned people, and that doesn't make me wrong, or require me to feel guilty, although in full transparency, I struggle with white guilt a lot. I believe that through the teachings of people like Stephen Jenkinson and Adrienne Maree Brown, that in order to talk about death, those of us who are detached, or orphaned from our ancestors need to pause, and feel that detachment and that physical separation to the land, to the graves, to the bones. Most people here in this country and around the world are separated from their ancestors physically. And not being able to be present when our dead are buried, not being able to gather to mourn publicly and collectively, these are not new problems, and as many other guests have shared in the previous four conversations that these producers have organized, this worldwide crisis is exposing an already broken system, and I wanna shed light on our lack of relationship with death right now, and our suddenly increased inability to come together and mourn in person. We are either facing, or about to face, many situations where we can't care for, we can't mourn, and we can't bury our dead in person. And I want to encourage you to breath now, again. And I wanna remind you that if what I'm saying is too intense, feel your body, yeah. Touch yourself somewhere, notice all the places where your body is touching the ground. Really feel that connection to the earth. Notice your heartbeat, yeah. And when you're grounded and able to listen to me again, please do. Now, I wanna talk about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a practice that I learned in my death doula training. And my teacher bestowed upon me the utter necessity to forgive everyone and everything you can before you die so that you don't take that with you, and so that you don't have to haunt anyone. I'm mostly kidding. As you may know, a death doula is a person who assists in the dying process, much like a birth doula or midwife. It's often a community-based role that aims to help families cope with death through recognizing death as a natural and important part of life. In what we death doulas call a death file, the practice of forgiveness is recommended, just as filling out an advanced directive, and choosing a power of attorney, and organ donation paperwork, and wills, are all recommended to prepare well before you die. I want you all to take a moment to offer yourself forgiveness, especially if you're in the position of not being able to visit a loved one in the hospital, if you're not able to comfort a loved one in pain, and if you're not able to attend a funeral now, or in the future. You are not alone. This isn't your fault. You're not to blame. I am so sorry if you're currently in one of these situations. There's an amazing website called lantern.co, and that will be tweeted out, that provides a myriad of free resources and checklists to guide you through these sad, and possibly traumatizing, situations, so check them out, or you can email me directly for support and we'll have that on the page later, my email. In an effort to be as inclusive as possible, I share resources and assist in whatever way I can as a death doula, virtually, always free of charge as long as it's about death and dying. And I do this work for free because everyone will face death in their lives, and so I believe it's only fair that everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, location, and class has access to free resources and support. And what I can offer you right now is a reminder that self-forgiveness is something you have control over, and that forgiveness of others is a gift that doesn't have a price tag in this COVID-19 crisis. And so, if you're able to, in this moment, or maybe in the future. Forgiveness is a lot, there are many stages of it, but if you're able, I really invite you to sit with forgiveness and see if you can share it with yourself and with others. It's a really powerful tool. And to get back to death, I believe that if we can talk about death and dying more often, it will help us to support one another, especially in these scary times. And I also believe that if we talk about death and dying, it will help us to live more fully now. And even in a time of social distancing and isolating, isn't that exciting? Isn't the realizing that each of us still has a beautiful body, and still has breath , in this moment. We're all still breathing right now, and we still have a heartbeat within us, connecting us to the earth, connecting us to each other in synchronicity. Isn't that exciting? I think so. See, even though we talked about death and dying I'm leaving you on a high note. Synchronicity of breath and heartbeat. And now, I wanna ask B. to help us integrate all this death talk and grave talk and help us move our breath and our heartbeats through song. So, I'll give it to you, B. Thank you.

B.:Thank you so much. That was so beautiful and so powerful. It connected me deeply to my breath and the reality that is this life. It also connected me to my heart. And I wanted to offer for a moment just a second for us to sing and lift up, and/or check in with the truth of our story and the truth of our hearts, what we hear and what's present there at this time, and the many ways that our hearts are connecting each of us to our loved ones that are blocks away, miles away, in different countries, who have transitioned. And the song goes like this. ♪ Listen, listen, listen ♪ ♪ To your heart song ♪ ♪ Listen, listen, listen ♪ ♪ To your heart song ♪ ♪ It will never leave you ♪ ♪ Will never forsake you ♪ ♪ Will never, ever, ever go away ♪ ♪ Listen, listen, listen ♪ ♪ To your heart song ♪ ♪ Listen, listen, listen ♪ ♪ To your heart song ♪ ♪ It will never leave you ♪ ♪ Will never forsake you ♪ ♪ Will never, ever, ever go away ♪ May we listen to our heart and the song that is there, every breath we take, moment to moment. I'll turn it over now to our brother, Aaron. He has many magical things to share with us now.

Aaron: Thank you so much, B., and thank you for that song. Again, I'm Aaron McKinney, pronouns he/him/his, residing in Brooklyn, New York, land of the Canarsee people, and I work in East Harlem, New York, the land of the Lenape people. I'm the General Manager of Hi-ARTS, formerly the Hip-Hop Theater Festival, and also a licensed minister and youth pastor at The Power House Church New York in Brooklyn, New York, where Bishop Darryl Hill is the pastor. So, as we go through this time, as we think about what a time it is, I encourage people that I talk to that we have to look at it as a time of hope, a time of love, a time of peace, and a time of humanity. A lot of people are commenting and the news is filled with all of the negative, but we need to lift the positive at this moment. For me, because I believe in a higher power, specifically I believe in God, I'm noticed that people are taking this opportunity to use it as a time to bicker, or to disprove religions or different faith practices, or faith beliefs, but I know that there is one thing that we can all agree on, and that's love and humanity. Speaking of resilience, this is also a time that we build the resilience, and me coming from the Black church, part of our faith, part of what we believe, is rooted in fellowship and congregation. And so, to have that stripped away where we can't come together as one to fellowship and congregate, we have to find new ways to spread the gospel, find non-traditional ways to spread our message. We know that as part of the civil rights movement, the Black church was pentacle, it was a place for meetings, it was a place for planning, it was a place for organizing, so we've been through this before, we've been in a place where we need to come together, we need to uplift each other, that we need to be there for each other, that we need to speak life to each other, that we need to encourage each other. So, I'm using this time as a time of meditation. For me, I usually do it in the mornings to start my day. I usually start with the scripture. I believe in The Bible, so I usually start with something like Isaiah 40:31 that says, "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. "They will soar on wings like eagles. "They will run and not grow weary, "they will walk and not be faint." So, basically that just gives me encouragement to keep going, to make it through, that I know that this won't last always. The meditation starts my day so it gives me time to sit still, to be quiet, to kind of listen to the Spirit, to listen to the voice of God, and to direct the energy for the day. Being at home all day stuck in the house and having to work from home can get really icky sometimes, so it helps me plan my day, it helps me direct my day, and also helps calm my spirit, calm my energy, and calm the anxiety. Just as Lana talked about previously, that death is a part of life. And so, there are many people that are experiencing death, they are experiencing a loss of job, money, even a loss of spirit. And so, what I turn to is Romans 8:18 in The Bible that, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time "are not worthy to be compared with the glory "which shall be revealed in us." For me, that just means that this time, I can take the suffering now because later it's going to be much better, that the glory shall be revealed, that there's gonna be a time that is much better than this that we're going through right now. So, this moment I ask everybody to appreciate the stillness of life, to appreciate the stillness of spirit, that I think we've become so accustomed to the busyness of life that we don't listen to our spirits, we don't listen to ourselves, we don't listen to the land, we don't listen to nature. And so, this is just giving us a time to reset and replenish, and just realize that what we have and what we need to take care of. Most of my work in my faith practice deals with youth. Like I said, I am one of the youth pastors at The Power House Church. And for those that may not have as much faith, or have not been practicing faith as long as some of the older people in my congregation, we stress to put the conversations that we've had into practice. So, we talk a lot about the fruit of the Spirit, which comes from Galatians in The Bible, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And so, all of those things that we can take a moment in this time of quietness, in this time of stillness to practice those things, to show love to our fellow human, to be joyful, to find the joy in this situation, to definitely find the peace, to be patient with ourselves, to be patient with each other, practice kindness, goodness, faithfulness, to exercise our faith and know that we trust in a higher power, that we depend on a higher power, our gentleness, and self-control. So, as I bring my section to a close, like I said, as a part of my faith base and my faith practice, I would like to close with a prayer. I've explained that I believe in God and I believe in Jesus, but I don't want you to get caught up on who I'm speaking to, but the message of the prayer. So, if we all just take a moment and I'll close out with this prayer, and then I'm gonna turn it over to B. Dear Holy God, we bow humbly before you, acknowledging your greatness and sovereignty in this moment. We ask for forgiveness of our thoughts and deeds that went against your will for our lives. Right now, Oh God, in this time of uncertainty, we ask that you keep our spirits lifted. Right now, Oh God, we ask that you give us strength to endure through the turmoil that surrounds us daily, comfort us, quiet our minds and our spirits of the busyness of life that we were once used to. Help us as we move forward to care better for ourselves, our fellow humans, and our land. We pray a special prayer for those that have experienced a loss in this time. Give them peace and the necessary resources to recover. For those that are dealing with death, we pray a special prayer for the transition of the spirit from their earthly body, and comfort to their family and friends. We thank you even in this moment for the many blessings that you have bestowed upon us, and we seal this prayer with a grateful heart, praising you. In your son Jesus' name we pray, amen. I hope that everyone continues to stay encouraged and uplifted, and take some time. Take some time for yourself in the stillness to work on yourself, to realize your breath, and to be grateful and thankful for what you have. B., I'm turning it over to you.

B.: Thank you so much, Aaron. Thank you so much for grounding us all in such a beautiful prayer. So needed right now. So needed right now, family. So, peace everybody, as my Choctaw ancestors would say, hálito. My name is B. Anderson, I'm the daughter of Beatrice and Charles Anderson, the lineage of Fulani, Choctaw, and the Maroon Jamaican people. I'm the founder of Song of the Spirit Institute. It's an institute that lifts and preserves the earth-based wisdom traditions of the African Indigenous diaspora through workshops and language classes, gatherings, and alternative individual therapy practice. And I have such a pleasure of being able to do that in partnership with many communities, and one of which is dear to my heart, the Third Root Community Health Center there in Canarsee Land, or in Brooklyn, Flatbush, Brooklyn. So, I'm gonna offer a little bit today from my spiritual and artistic practice, which is deeply connected to the earth. It's earth-based traditions of the African and Indigenous people and their descendants across the diaspora. So, my prayers, my songs, my dances, my ceremony, my offerings, they come out of these lineages, and one of which is the lineage, or the wisdom tradition of Ifa, or Fa, birthed in Benin, West Africa, that is held and stewarded across Nigeria, and whose resilience of this tradition was then founded in the holding and keeping of this practice across the many lands that African peoples were brought to. So, I first wanna give thanks to the ancestors of this tradition, to the stewards and keepers of this medicine. I'm grateful, many times grateful for this practice. So, in the work that I do, in the work that I do to preserve and care for myself, my loved ones, my wellbeing, my mental, my emotional and physical health, I turn to my ancestors. I turn to the earth, our eldest ancestor, and I ask for support. I do this through divination, I do this through listening, deep listening, I do this through feeling of sensations in the body, I do this through the practice of remembering, storytelling. And so, when I sat, and I sat with the earth, and I sat with my ancestors and I asked what would they like for me to share as a practice towards helping us to build our resilience, they offered the following. They offered the following opportunities for us to reflect upon, coupled with what I hope to be tangible and accessible invitations to practice our individual and collective care, and to do this completely inspired by the wisdom of our beloved earth. So, I'm going to introduce, and/or remind us of what is a beautiful, scientific, relational practice that happens above and below the earth's surface. It's called symbiosis. There's four different forms of symbiosis, but one that I really wanna share with us all today is this idea of mutualism. And in mutualism, it's when two maybe very different species benefit from each other, right? So, for example, we see this in the forest or in nature when the bees go from one flower to the other, both being fed and also pollinating the earth, reproducing more of that same plant. Or, we see this in our society when the elders that we have chosen, or we acknowledge, we sit at their feet, offering our time, our energy, our reverence to receive the wisdom that they are offering to us. These are two ways in which the example of a mutualistic symbiosis has happened and surrounds us every day. And this, I think, is the earth's offering to us in terms of our ability to practice mutual care, sustainable support, to build connection, all as the epitome of what resilience has looked like for our beloved Earth. How she has survived and thrived through a whole host of natural and unnatural disasters. So, I wanted to offer into this moment an offer to create and generate more hope and possibility, more resilience, for us to take time to create a better sense of care for ourselves and each other, and our beloved Earth. A few invitations, five, actually, for us to practice with ourselves, with our loved ones as often as we can remember to help us really heal and integrate from the many lessons and challenges that we're being gifted at this time, that we're experiencing at this time. So, the first can be done whenever we eat. Taking the time, before and with our friends, and our families, or when we're with ourselves, just to pause for a second. And to pause and acknowledge the many, many men, women, family members who have stewarded, harvested, cultivated, brought our food table into our markets every day. Our beloved family of migrant workers, mostly undocumented, who board buses just to work the farms, and return across a fictitious border to a land that is also theirs of their ancestors. Just taking a moment each day to be in true honor of the many who have made our nourishment possible, and the land that it comes from. Or the tinctures, the teas, the medicines that we're taking at this time, the herbs that we're learning about, to pause before each sip, each drop, each swallow, to give thanks for its medicinal properties, the earth that it comes from, and to maybe even extend a prayer, an offering for its continuous replenishment, to extend an opportunity or a moment for us to think about the ways we can plant new seeds and continue to regenerate the soil so that these herbs can live on for generations well past our own. That we can ask before taking, any herb that we're given. So, that's one practice. The second invitation is to really sit into a space of gratitude, gratitude and appreciation, and this can be hard, especially at the time of quarantine, when we are relegated to being in our homes, away from our loved ones, what isolation can feel like, the very real reality of what that looks like and means for us. But in that moment of noticing how that feels for us on the inside, let's take a moment to expand our hearts and minds to our brothers and sisters, our family members, who are experiencing the very real reality of isolation in solitary confinement, who are currently incarcerated, who are being treated unfairly, and not getting the proper healthcare that they need. What does it look like for us to take stock in our respective homes of the rights and freedoms that we're afforded in this moment? Can we breathe with our family? Can we walk around our homes thinking of our family, step by step, lifting them up, helping them to know that they're not alone? The next invitation is the opportunity for us to really think about and right our relationship to this land, to Turtle Island, to Indian country, to have this moment be an opportunity of transformation for us to root ourself deeply in what it means to settle here, to be brought here, to be here. And so, when we have that moment between our time in the morning and our time of curfew for some of us in some of our cities, what it looks like to go outside and take a walk, but to do this now with a bit more reverence and attention, stepping foot to foot, ball to heel, really, really thinking about the land we're walking on and the many who have stewarded this beautiful place, the place that we are being able to call our home. And the last of these practices are invitations. It's the opportunity for us to sense into our deep inherent connection all across this globe. So, we have the beauty right now of our social media feeds, our livestreams, these ways of connecting to one another, and we do that daily, some of us, through meditation, through yoga classes, through chanting, through our asanas, we're pouring libation and divinations and prayers, and we are addressing, connecting, acknowledging through these practices the wisdom traditions, the culture of so many people across this globe. We are a connected and interdependent people. For some of us, our meditation and our chants we rely on for our safety and our sanity each day. So, this is an invitation for us to think about the many ways our livelihoods are dependent and interdependent on the brilliance, the wisdom, the culture, the traditions of all of us, and how with our words and our actions do we help to care and keep each other safe? How do we honor that it's not just enough that we paid for a membership, but we pray for, we care for, and lift up each other at a time when our fear could turn to ignorance or hatred? These are the teaching that I believe that this practice of mutualism, of symbiosis, of our beloved Earth is sharing and teaching us at this time, giving us the opportunity to right our relationships to each other and the earth, to re-find our heart connection, the truth of who we are, and not just our conditioning. I am so grateful to do this work in co-creation with our beloved Earth, our ancestors, and our community. And I'm grateful for our practice, all of us, every day and every moment. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I'll turn it over now to my brother, David.

David: Thank you, B., thank you so much. Hi, everybody. My name is David Chapman, he/him are my pronouns. I'm calling from the land of Matinecock people here in Port Washington, Long Island. And I am a rabbinical student and the rabbinic intern at Sutton Place Synagogue in New York City, where Rabbi Rachel Ain is the senior rabbi. And I'm gonna start today by offering a healing prayer, a chant, a meditation from the Jewish tradition. And I'm gonna share my screen, if I can figure that out. I'm going to share my screen so that you can see the words, but the words are very simple, and I invite you to use the words if they're meaningful to you. Or... Oops. Or you can also think of this chant, as we have something in Jewish practice called a nigun, a wordless prayer, just a melody that can be a meditative chant for you as well. So, this text, “Ana El Na Refa Na La,” it's very old text in Jewish tradition, it's found in the Torah, it's based on a prayer that Moses offered for his sister, Miriam, when she was very sick. And as Aaron said, this is a prayer addressed to God, and it is about a her, it's about a Miriam in its narrative context, but I invite you to think about, oops, I invite you to think about what those words mean for you. Oops. Let me.

[Singing.] Ana. El Na. Refa. Na La. Ana. El Na. Refa. Na La.

[Speaking.] So, that's it, it's just two lines. I invite you to sing where you are, wherever you are, by yourself. Imagine that we can hear all of our voices joined together in song. And as we're summoning up this healing energy with these ancient words, I invite you to think about someone in your life that needs healing, and send some of this energy that we're summoning together to that person that needs spiritual or physical healing. It could be yourself, you're welcome to take some of this energy for yourself if you need the healing, or you can also just send it back out into the universe and trust that it's gonna go where it's most needed. So, we'll sing again together.

[Singing.] Ana. El Na. Refa. Na La. Ana. El Na. Refa. Na La. Ana. El Na. Refa. Na La. Ana. El Na. Refa. Na La. Ana. El Na. Refa. Na La. Ana. El Na. Refa. Na La.

[Speaking.] Please, God, please God, heal her now. Okay, I unshared my screen, I think. So, I wanna offer a couple of ways in which my faith tradition, Jewish faith tradition, stays aware of cycles, of time, of the calendar, which, for me, is a grounding practice, especially in days like this where every day blends into every other day and you don't know if it's Monday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Saturday, or the beginning of the month, or the end of the month. A friend of mine said, "It's March 87th." We have no sense of where we are in the world, where we are in the calendar, so there's a few practices in Jewish tradition that I've really been leaning on, and I'm gonna offer a couple of words about each of them as invitations to you to think about. One, we've spoken about grief, Lana spoke about grief and death, and a lot of us have spoken about that, and in Jewish tradition, grief comes with counting. We start counting seven days from the burial, we call that a shiva period. We count 30 days, that's called sloshim, a period of 30 days, and then we count a full year from the death of a loved one. And there are different practices and traditions associated with those different timeframes, but one of the gifts that it gives in a time of bereavement, or grief, is it gives you something to hold on to, gives you something to ground, something to count up to or count down from, and it lets you know that this trauma that you experience isn't just floating in the ether of your life, it has a specific point, it has a moment in the calendar. And the calendar's a cycle, and we'll come back to those days again next year, God willing. We also have, in our practice, a daily psalm. There's a psalm assigned for Monday, a psalm assigned for Tuesday, and especially in the first few days of being home all the time and of the pandemic, I really leaned on that in particular so that I knew what day it was. Otherwise, like I said before, the days can blend into one another. And so, you don't have to use those particular daily psalms, but Aaron, I think, also mentioned a daily prayer practice, something that is a little bit different each day that can give you a sense of internal timing. We are, in the Jewish calendar, we are in the month of Nisan. And actually, Nisan is the first month of the year. So, some of you may be familiar with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish holiday in the fall that celebrates the new year, and that is also a new year, but we have a couple of new years in Jewish tradition. And Nisan is actually the first month, cardinal, if you number them cardinally, Nisan is the first month. And in a way, that makes sense because we're in spring, we're in a time of budding, we're in a time of planting. Nisan, the word, might be related to the word nitzan, which is the Hebrew word for bud. And we see buds in trees and animals and things like that. If we look out our window, we see those signs of spring. And it's also time of planting as we look forward to the summer crop. Nisan is also, I'll mention this in a minute, this is the month where the holiday of Passover takes place. So, we can think about Nisan as planting both the summer crop, the seeds of the summer crop, and planting the seeds of our liberation and our freedom that we celebrate in Passover. Planting is an act of patience and it's an act of faith. You have to plant things now, you don't know exactly when, or how they're gonna come up. And you have faith. There's a beautiful story in the Talmud, an old Jewish text about a Torah scholar that comes upon a man planting a carob tree. And at that time, carob trees were understood to not bear fruit for 70 years. And the scholar says to the man planting, "What are you doing? "When are you gonna enjoy the fruit from that carob tree?" And the man says, "I'm not, this is gonna take "70 years to bear fruit." And the scholar says to the man, "Why would you spend your effort "planting a tree that you will not personally "enjoy the fruit from?" And the man replies, "Well, when I was born "there were carob trees that somebody planted before me "so that I could enjoy their fruit, "so I'm planting this tree now "looking forward to a future "where some future generation will be able "to enjoy that tree." So, we think about planting in terms of faith, and looking towards the future. Another cycle that we're in right now in the Jewish calendar, is we're in the period of the Omer. We count 49 days from Passover from the beginning of Passover until Shavuot, the holiday where we celebrate receiving Torah at Mt. Sinai. And there's a lot of mystical traditions associated with those 49 days, and you can look online, or I can share some resources of how to find an Omer count, but I like this, too, because it gives me something, again, to count towards, to look forward to, to mark time passing. Each day has a cabalistic theme in the Omer count. The theme for today, today we're on the fifth day of the Omer, and today we say it is , presence within love. So, today we ask about our capacity to be patient in our love, to be patient with ourselves and one another, and to notice moments or experiences where our heart might be trying to rush us forward, and we have that opportunity to think about , patience within love. The last thing I'll share is that we just celebrated, we're actually still in the middle of the week long festival of Pesach, of Passover, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the exodus from Egypt. Egypt, the Hebrew word for Egypt is , which means a narrow place. So, the idea of a Passover is you move from a place of narrowness, of restraint, of oppression, into a place of freedom and expanse. Because we celebrate Passover every year it gives us every year an opportunity to say, how is that work not yet complete? What... What liberation must we still be fighting for, both for ourselves and for the people around us, the other communities, the Earth itself? All of those other oppressions that we know continue. The last thing I'll say about Passover is that when you look in the Torah, when you look in the book of Exodus, the very first Passover was really celebrated while we were still in Egypt. The instructions to make the Paschal sacrifice, to eat the matzah, to observe this festival were given to Israel before they left Egypt. And there's something beautiful in that about celebrating our liberation in anticipation, looking forward, looking to the future, knowing that it's going to come, or hoping, believing that it's going to come, having faith that it's going to come, and celebrating it now, in this moment, anyway. So, I'm going to... turn the baton back, I think, to Leslie. Thank you for your time, and again, it's an honor to be with you all today. Thank you.

Leslie: Oh my goodness, thank you so much, David. My favorite topic, liberation. And thank you to all of our panelists, you gave such richness, you gave of yourself so deeply, so fully. I know we are right about at time, we had hoped for some questions, but we hope you keep this conversation going online. There's so much beautiful, beautiful wisdom that was shared. In closing, I just wanna double check with Hannah, if there's anything, or Abigail, you'd like to share from HowlRound and from this beautiful project you've set up, as I know we wanna close with B. taking us out with a wonderful, wonderful song.

Hannah: Yeah, thank you, Leslie. We'll come back in for just one moment. Thank you, everyone.

Leslie: Mm-hmm.

Hannah: Ann Marie.

Leslie: I see us all coming back.

Ann Marie: Yeah. Thank you so much, everyone, for being with us today. We wanted to let you know, the recording of this conversation will be available within 24 hours on howlround.com, and our other sessions on topics like emergency funding, legal support, financial strategies for individual artists, and imagining, re-imagining, actually, how we gather, are already there. And if you learned something today, please spread the word. We're always welcoming feedback and suggestions, so if you have some, send them our way at [email protected].

Hannah: Great. We generally host these conversations on Tuesdays, we are taking a break next week, so we'll have some time to put some energy into our resource site. So, just stay apprised of HowlRound, you can join their mailing list for our April 28th conversation.

Abigail: Yeah, before we go, we wanna see the Commons in action, so if you were touched by something that you heard today, you got something out of the conversation, you wanna keep talking, and you wanna direct that love and support towards Third Root Collective, we're asking for that manifestation to go there. So, you can Venmo that manifestation of that love and support to @COV19-FAR. So, @C-O-V19, one nine, dash F-A-R, and we will pass that on. So, community, let's just see how abundant we can be today.

Amara: Friends, let's take care of each other. Keep connecting, and for more resources added every day, visit the WordPress resource site, covid19freelanceartistresource.wordpress.com. And we encourage you to join HowlRound's mailing list to be advised of future conversations. Thanks to Leslie Ishii, B. Anderson, David Schmidt Chapman, Aaron McKinney, and Lana Smithner. Take care, and we'll all talk again in two weeks. And now to close us out, we're gonna sing together. B.

B.: Thank you, Amara. And thank you all. So, this is a beautiful song that is from the tradition, the African American diaspora song canon. We call this a trad song, a traditional song. It had different words, but it was changed for a beautiful group of liberators who were walking from one end of this beautiful Turtle Island to the next to put down nuclear war, for us to come back to a space of peace and liberation. And the song talks about the beauty of water, the power of water, and the gift of water that we are all deserving of. And how, at some points, from all of our work, from the things that we are doing, we need to take a moment to pause, to breathe, to drink in the water, to take a moment to rest, to take a moment to be in gratitude and connection with each other, to take a moment to be held. And so, the song is "Drink a little water, children, "drink a little water now. "Drink a little water, children, "every little once in a while." And the song has the power for us to lift our intentions, our prayers, our hopes, our wishes, for not only ourself and our families and our loved ones, but the collective healing of all those across the world and our beloved Earth. So, when we sing this song, if you wouldn't mind singing it with me, imagine, imagine you're reflecting out your prayer, your wish, your hope for us all right now. And in drinking the water, we receive this blessing. So, the song goes like this.

[Singing.] Drink a little water, children. Drink a little water now. Drink a little water, children. Every little once in a while. Drink a little water, children. Drink a little water now. Drink a little water, children. Every little once in a while. And then the song is an offering, an offering for our intention, our prayers, our hopes, our wishes, that we will meet our beloved family again one day. Our social distancing, our physical distancing, it will soon be over, and we'll be able to embrace and hold each other's hands. And so, the song goes. I'm gonna meet my family. One of these mornings. Meet my family. One of these mornings. Meet my family. One of these mornings. Hope I can hold their hand. I'm gonna meet my family. One of these mornings. Meet my family. One of these mornings. Meet my family. One of these mornings. Hope I can hold their hand.

[Speaking.] Are y'all ready to sing the whole thing? Well, I'm gonna ask my family community to come back on, and we're gonna unmute our mics, and we are going to share and shed light and prayers to all the universe. So, now together in a cacophony of sound, meaning that we are decolonizing our homogenous way and we're allowing for each individual voice prayer and intention to be heard. So, if you want, you can let all of the sound reflect back all over your body like water, or you can add to it and be a part of this beautiful stream. Let's begin.

[Singing.] Drink a little water, children. Drink a little water now. Drink a little water, children. Every little once in a while. Drink a little water, children. Drink a little water now. Drink a little water, children. Every little once in a while. And then the song is an offering, an offering for our intention, our prayers, our hopes, our wishes, that we will meet our beloved family again one day. Our social distancing, our physical distancing, it will soon be over, and we'll be able to embrace and hold each other's hands. And so, the song goes. I'm gonna meet my family. One of these mornings. Meet my family. One of these mornings. Meet my family. One of these mornings. Hope I can hold their hand. I'm gonna meet my family. One of these mornings. Meet my family. One of these mornings. Meet my family. One of these mornings. Hope I can hold their hand.

[Speaking.] Taking just a moment to pause and breathe that all in. May our prayers, our intentions, our song, our prayers of love be heard and felt and echoed all around this beautiful world. Thank y'all.

Ann Marie: Thank you.

Leslie: Gunalcheesh. Till next time, thank you all.

image of cleaning wipes with the word "Don't Touch The Art"

Artists in a Time of Global Pandemic. Image by deYoung Museum and Quinn Fenlon.

Livestreamed the #ArtistResource panel Look for the Helpers: Learnings and Teachings for Building Resilience (ASL & Captioned) on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Tuesday 14 April 2020 at 8 a.m. HST (Honolulu, UST-10) / 10 a.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC-8) / 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4).

As humans across the globe are processing unprecedented levels of stress, fear, and grief, we are all struggling to develop new methods of managing these emotions. Many of us are being tested and strained in ways we’ve never before experienced. What strategies can we call upon to process our current circumstances, especially when we are apart from our communities, families, and loved ones? How can we best take care of ourselves and each other in this frightening and unstable time? In this conversation, healing arts practitioners and faith leaders, all of whom have a relationship to or practice in the arts, will offer guidance from their traditions and expertise as a means of supporting our community’s growing capacity for resilience. This conversation will be facilitated by Leslie Ishii, Artistic Director, Perseverance Theatre, and features Lana Smithner, Aaron McKinney, David Shmidt Chapman, and B. Anderson.


Lana Smithner is the founder and artistic facilitator of death, me, dying tree, a nationwide project that explores, unburdens, and cleanses our cultural relationship with death through free public events, a documentary, and online resources. She is a certified Death Doula by Rev. Olivia Bareham of Sacred Crossings, a former volunteer for Family Hospice Care of Palm Springs, as well as a yoga teacher, meditation guide, and reiki master. Lana has been attending and apprenticing ceremonies with elders in Costa Rica, Mexico, the U.S. and Thailand for half a decade. She had a previous career as an actor in Chicago, which was preceded by an Honors Theatre BA from Bates College. While her prior lifestyle and career produced just as much suffering as joy, she’s recently rejoiced in extracting the beautiful lessons and stories from that past to inform this present. Lana is a self taught Filmmaker, and is making this learning process public to expose the beauty of live creation, while working toward releasing perfectionism.

Aaron L. McKinney, a Greenville, SC native, has been involved in theatre for over two decades and working professionally for 7 years. He has held positions at Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Sankofa.org and 651 ARTS and is currently the General Manager of Hi-ARTS in East Harlem, NY. His degrees include a BA in Theatre Performance from Florida A & M University and a MFA in Theatre Management and Producing from California Institute of the Arts. Aaron has worked in various management positions throughout his career in theaters ranging from small community theaters in Florida to large regional theaters in Los Angeles. Alongside his artistic career, Aaron is a licensed minister and an appointed Youth Pastor at The Powerhouse Church in Brooklyn, NY. Visit www.aaronLmckinney.com for more information.

Leslie Ishii (Artistic Director, Peseverance Theatre) is an artist, a cultural community organizer, and a social justice warrior for people in theatre and the arts and culture sector. Grateful for an acting career in Asian American, ethnic-specific/multicultural, regional theatres, on Broadway and on-camera, Leslie’s passion for directing has also afforded her the opportunity to work deep in community and at many theatres and theatre programs that feature multiracial/artists of color casts. (Arts Education) Leslie has developed actor training and directing methods for artists of color based in liberation theory as a response to Western/Eastern European conservatory training. She continues to teach and collaborate with an equity/diversity/inclusion imperative and guest teaches at universities, colleges, and within theatre education programs. (Social Justice Leadership & Organizing) Events Produced: 5th and 6th National Asian American Theater Conference & Festival, at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and DePaul University School of Theatre respectively, where she also brought individual artists and theatre leaders of color together at both ConFests to foster strategies for mutual sustainability; 1st and 2nd Freedom and Focus International Fitzmaurice Voicework® Conferences in Spain and Canada. Leslie has been a featured presenter at VASTA conferences in Mexico, Spain, and Austria; and co-facilitated the launch of Theatre Communication Group’s Equity/Diversity/Inclusion Institute and is proud to be on the core faculty of artEquity. (Affiliations) Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists Board Member, James P. Shannon Leadership Institute; Arts For LA ACTIVATE Cultural Policy Fellow; Los Angeles Cultural Equity/Inclusion Initiative Work Groups. Leslie is Founder/Director of the National Cultural Navigation Theatre Project.

David Shmidt Chapman is a rabbinical student and Wexner Graduate Fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary and the rabbinic intern at Sutton Place Synagogue in NYC. His first love was making theater as a catalyst for social change, with a special interest in international collaboration. He received a Fulbright scholarship to study post-Cold War dramaturgy in Hungary and a Henry Luce Scholarship to teach drama at an arts college in Vietnam. As a theater artist, he worked with Theater Communications Group, the International Theater Institute, NYU/Tisch, the Public, New York Theater Workshop, the Drama League, Castillo Theater, and many other institutions. After a decade as a theater director and educator, David found his new vocation in the Jewish social justice world. Prior to rabbinical school, David served on the grantmaking team of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, helping advance its Jewish Life & Values, Israel, Climate Change, and Inequality programs. He later joined the New Israel Fund, a progressive foundation supporting social justice and human rights in Israel. In 2014, David created and produced PEW-ish, an evening of short plays inspired by the (in)famous Pew Study on Jewish American life, supported by the Schusterman Foundation. David holds a B.A. with Highest Honors from the Univ. of North Carolina and a Master's in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham. A member of ROI Community, David was named to the 2018 "36 Under 36" list in the Jewish Week, which has published several of his op-eds. David is originally from Chicago and now lives in New York with his spouse Jonathan and their son Elior, where they are active members of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.

B. Anderson, (they/them), is somatic music therapy practitioner, plant medicine steward/herbalist, mediation teacher, mediator, ritual leader and community organizer. B. calls up the traditions, legacies and medicine of their southern Black American, Jamaican Maroon and Choctaw ancestry as their healing arts praxis. Their background in sound healing began in their undergraduate studies at The New England Conservatory as a classical musician, exploring with traditional and African American folk songs, improvisation and various music styles from across the world. Their relationship to plant and herbal medicine was initiated informally through the shared practices of her grandmothers and relatives as a teenager. Their traditions live on through B. B. has continued their study as an apprentice of Spiritual Plant Medicine with Karen Rose at the Sacred Vibes Apothecary and through their practice and certification in Ayurvedic Medicine with Dr. Naina Marballi. B. Anderson is the founder and steward of Song of the Spirit, a community based institute in service of keeping alive the earth based wisdom traditions of the African and Indigenous diaspora. As well as the founder of My Inside Voice an alternative somatic and sound based therapy practice.

About HowlRound TV

HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email [email protected], or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.

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Very grateful for this stream. Didn't know I needed this today but so glad I found it! Wishing you all blessings and peace in a hard time.