Vivien Sansour is the founder of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library. Trained in the field of Anthropology, Vivien has worked with farmers worldwide on issues relating to agriculture and independence. She is a 2020-2021 Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative Fellow at Harvard University where she is working on an autobiographical book documenting her work saving seeds in Palestine and around the world. Together we discussed how food sovereignty aligns with the struggle of Palestinian resistance, how biodiversity reflects and intersects with cultural diversity, how the military occupation of Palestine affects the farming practices that go on there, and how love is the greatest form of resistance to colonial oppression. She's brilliant.
This episode captures Jack Kornfield's lecture/ Dharma talk at Esalen on September 15th, 1983. Kornfield, one of the most articulate and compassionate voices in modern Western Buddhism, is co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. He trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma and India, first as a student of the Thai forest master Ajahn Chah, about whom he speaks at length in this lecture. Kornfield has taught meditation worldwide since 1974 and is considered one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practices to the West. He’s the author of a host of books, including 1977’s Living Dharma, 1993’s A Path with Heart, and 2001’s After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. This talk is at turns funny, wise, and insightful. It awakens a certain kind of spirit in the listener. We're grateful to Kornfield for his continuing association with the Esalen Institute, and continuing devotion to the path of the heart.
Justin Michael Williams is an author, speaker and musician who works at the intersection of social justice, mindfulness, and personal growth. Justin has become a pioneering voice of color for the new healing movement. His mission is to make sure that all people, of all backgrounds, have access to the information they need to change their lives. Together, we discussed the science of transformation, what it means to combat forces of oppression (in a healthy way), identity labels (and how they function for good and for bad within the activist framework), what it means to go beyond anti-racism, Justin's current take on the human potential movement, and more.
Ayana Young is a protector of wild nature and host of the podcast For the Wild - an interview-based show that examines and champions intersectional environmental and social justice, deep ecology, and land-based restoration. Topics include the Future History of Water, Queering Permaculture, Unruly Beauty, the Divine Time of Fungal Evolution, the Violence of Globalization, and much more. Together we talked about capitalisim, her involvement with the early stages of Occupy Wall Street, why she lives off the grid and how exactly that works with being an activist and media producer, the manner in which she curates her guests and creates episodic structure, and her thoughts on the future of humanity. Visit her work at forthewild.world/podcast.
Dr. Han Ren is a practitioner of decolonial mental health: she offers liberation-oriented, anti-oppressive, culturally informed therapy, and practices from a justice-oriented, systems-informed framework. Some of her specialties include Asian-American mental health, anxiety, perfectionism, high achievers, children of immigrants/third culture kids, anti-racism, and parenting. Dr. Ren is also a force to be reckoned with on TikTok, amassing a large following on a platform she uses in an attempt to make therapy accessible and applicable to our everyday lives. Together we talked about how white supremacy can be internalized, what it looks like when you center BIPOC mental health in treatment, how one decolonizes language, the conceptual shift from a dyadic trauma perspective to a more collective, societal notion of trauma, and her struggles as a recovering perfectionist.
Richie Reseda and Indigo Mateo are the co-owners and founders of Question Culture, an activist-artistic art label whose projects support grassroots organizing. Richie Reseda is an abolistionist-feminist, formerly incarcerated in the state of California and the subject of the CNN documentary" Feminist in Cell Block Y," a film that chronicles his journey educating and combatting toxic masculinity within the walls of the prison system. Indigo Mateo is a singer, healer, abolitionist, survivor, and artist. She’s releasing her sophomore album on the label this summer. Indigo met Richie while visiting him in prison; her partner, 88, also an artist on the Question Culture label, is currently incarcerated. Together we discussed how patriarchy functions in culture and in jail, what the school to prison pipeline is, and why it exists, how economies sprout up around the prison system and in neighboring towns, how meritocracy has led to a culture of vengeance, and why“the prison system is,” in Richie Reseda's words, “the deadbeat boyfriend of America.”
Suzanne Simard is a Professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia as well as the author of the excellent new memoir, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest. Suzanne is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide. Together, we discussed her scientific findings, the dangers of deforestation, how her literary and scientific proclivities intertwine, and what it’s like to have a character in a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel based on her (Richard Powers' The Overstory). She's a rather amazing person, passionate about the future of the planet and our shared existence with old-growth forests.
Akuyoe Graham is founder of the Spirit Awakening Foundation, an arts-based nonprofit dedicated to helping underserved youth in the juvenile justice system. Since 1995, SA has been a pioneer in developing restorative, trauma-informed prevention and intervention programs to incarcerated and systems-involved young people in Los Angeles County. Using the tools of meditation, self-reflection, creative writing, visual arts, mentorship, service, and leadership training, all of which have been guided by evidence-based research, SAF is able to accomplish their mission to help underserved youth build character and raise self-esteem. Visit spiritawakening.org to learn more.
Reverend Bodhi Be is the Executive Director of "Doorway into Light," a non-profit that seeks to re-invent and revolutionize the funeral home and the funeral industry, transforming the “business of dying” and returning it to “sacred service." Bodhi is an ordained minister in the universal Sufi lineage, an independent funeral director, hospice volunteer, end-of-life bereavement counselor, as well as a grandparent, coffin maker, death doula, educator, artist, and entrepreneur. He lives on Maui, where he is also the founder and president of the Death Store, Hawaii's only community educational resource center and store for those who are living with a life-threatening illness, those grieving the death of a loved one, and those wishing to explore their own approaching death.
Darnell Walker is Esalen's artist in residence for Spring 2021. Darnell is a writer and creator of children’s media, as well as a powerful documentary filmmaker — his efforts include 2015’s Seeking Asylum, which explored Black Americans’ desires to escape American tyranny and widespread police violence for safer lands, Outside the House, which focuses on Black mental health, and Set Yourself on Fire, a film about sexual violence. His work investigates education and revolution, with a strong first-person point of view informed by an inspiring DIY ethic. Together we explored his body of work, modes of creativity, and the kind of change he hopes to affect in the world.