“Why do we keep trying to fight inside a system that didn’t care for us and was built off our oppression and will continue to be sustained off of it? I don’t know how repair there is even possible. It brings me into this longing to draw upon the wisdom and relationship with the earth and more than human world for prophetic insight to see what else might be possible. How can we be informed by nature’s systems?” brontë velez
E91 – brontë velez ON SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY, BLACK LIBERATION & PROPHETIC ATTENTION
ANCESTRAL GIFTS THAT SOFTEN THE EDGES
Listen to the conversation:
About this interview:
How do we embody a sense of connection and reciprocity with nature?This episode is part of a collaboration with St Ethelburgas, called Listening to each other : Listening to Earth, which reaches for the place where spiritual ecology and climate justice meet. It explores the integration of spirituality with grounded action through the lives and leadership of people of colour.
‘Black people have ancestrally decided life on their own terms and communed with the land for their freedom and their liberation. Why do we fight within a system designed to oppress us? How much repair is possible there?’
In this episode Amisha talks with black-latinx transdisciplinary artist, educator, and designer brontë velez (they/them). brontë’s spiritual activism is centred around black liberation ecology and black feminist placemaking. Using radical imagination and death doulaship practices, their organisation ‘Lead to Life’ deconstructs the violences embedded in environmental racism.
brontë is guided by their understanding that Earth called them to bring along other children of colour to meet Earth and to experience each other in wild spaces. They draw on death doulaship practices, such as listening to Earth and prophetic dream practices to connect communities to Earth’s wisdom for prophetic insight on what other ways of being might be possible. In ecological planting ceremonies, their collective Lead to Life, holds space for black people to heal racial and spiritual trauma of community and land on their own terms.
Amisha and brontë speak about the prophetic opportunities presented to our collective by Covid-19 and how it has opened us up to examine the oppressive history of the police state and imperialism. They share personal experiences of racial injustice as people of colour that immerse themselves in nature. brontë shares their past desires to be a Cyborg, and together they explore the potency of technology as a tool to understand nature and our environmental responsibilities in new ways. Weaving their conversation around poetry, mantra’s and fictional prophetic stories written and read by brontë, together they explore the potential of communities guided by prophetic dream practices.
“Listening to the birds stories each day softens the edges of what’s happening in human world and it helps me widen to something that’s bigger than me and helps me to come back to the human story with a lot more care, reverence and another kind of attention, ecological attention that I think we have lost.” brontë velez
brontë’s work and rest is guided by the call that “black wellness is the antithesis to state violence” (Mark Anthony Johnson). as a black-latinx transdisciplinary artist, designer, trickster, and wakeworker, their eco-social art praxis lives at the intersections of black feminist placemaking & prophetic community traditions, environmental justice, and death doulaship.
they are currently moved and paused by the questions, “how can we allow as much room for god to flow through and between us as possible? what affirms the god of and between us? what’s in the way? what ways can black feminist placemaking rooted in commemorative justice promote the memory of god, which is to say, love and freedom between us?” they relate to god as the moments of divine spacetime that remind us we are not separate, the moments that re-belong us to the earth.
they embody this commitment of attending to black health/imagination, commemorative justice and hospicing systems of oppression through serving as creative director for Lead to Life design collective, educator for ancestral arts skills and nature-connection school Weaving Earth, and quotidian black queer lifemaking ever-committed to humor & liberation, ever-marked by grief at the distance made between us and all of life.
brontë is an alumnus of The Spiritual Ecology Fellowship in the US, hosted by the Kalliopeia Foundation, which was a sibling programme to the spiritual ecology programme at St Ethelburga’s Centre. Bronte has given talks and led workshops at St Ethelburga’s on deep adaptation, spiritual ecology and afrofuturism.
To find out more about brontë’s work and rest, visit @littlenows
To connect or work with Amisha, visit amisha.co.uk
To find out more about St Ethelburgas, visit stethelburgas.org
Listening To Each Other, Listening to Earth, is a collaboration with St Ethelburgas, and is funded by the Kalliopeia Foundation. For this collaboration — will be hosting 8 podcasts, and some live events. We give deep gratitude to both for making this possible.
Listening to each other : Listening to Earth reaches for the place where spiritual ecology and climate justice meet. It explores the integration of spirituality with grounded action through the lives and leadership of people of colour.
St Ethelburga’s builds community resilience for times of ecological and social emergency.
Their work is organised around 4 principles which are:
- Put values into action
- Seek opportunity in crisis
- Build community across differences, and
- Protect what is sacred
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