Kindred a southern healing justice collective was a project conceived by healers and organizers in the South, in 2005, as a response to the crisis of trauma, violence and social conditions in our region. Cara Page, a healing practitioner, artist and organizer based in Atlanta, GA, began holding conversations with southern based spiritual and healing practitioners and organizers to assess the need to build a collective that would centralize healing resources, build the capacity to respond to trauma in our southern movements through holistic healing models, and create new healing models within a social justice context that supports and sustains the well being of organizers. Through these conversations many organizers and healers identified a need for this collective due to the increased state of burnout and depression in our movements, systematic loss of our communities healing traditions, the isolation and stigmatization of healers, and the increased privatization of our land, medicine and natural resources that has caused us to rely on state or private models we do not trust and that do not serve us. Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina it became even more critical to seek ways to respond to the emotional, physical and spiritual impact of traumatic injustices happening in our region.
At the 2006 Southeast Social Forum and the 2007 US Social Forum, the Kindred began building a collective of southern based healers and organizers seeking to deepen the capacity and wellness of our movements. Our Mission is to honor and resource healing traditions as tools for liberation and individual/collective transformation within our southern movements. We envision social justice movements and a world free of trauma, violence and abuse. We seek to manifest and sustain the physical, environmental, spiritual and emotional well being of our movements and communities by creating healing models that intervene and transform trauma, violence and abuse in our lives to have collective healing responses for sustaining organizers. We will achieve this by naming and responding to the impact of oppression on our minds, bodies and spirits through transformed systems of wellness, resiliency, and sustainability within a context of political strategies and organizing.
Kindred is building a collaboration of southern healers and organizers who stand ready to respond to trauma through collective models that sustain our communities, and our movements in order to prevent isolation, early burn out, and emotional, physical, or spiritual deprivation
Changemakers are dying as a result of spiritual and physical depravation from trauma, stress and unrest in our movements. Many organizers are either without health insurance and do not seek care or are not supported to sustain their well being as a result of overextended work cultures in our movements. We have seen an increase of suicide, depression and long term illnesses impacting organizers at much younger ages. We have lost many valuable people to illnesses, compounded by the stresses of organizing, that were undiagnosed, untreated or poorly treated. Our organizers are coming from communities most physically and emotionally affected by trauma and violence, and yet we are not given models of intervention and prevention to sustain ourselves, let alone the next generations of leaders.
At the same time, our communities are under resourced to respond to systemic conditions of trauma, violence and abuse. Western-based health models in the U.S. are based on profit-making privatization that isolates the individual from their community in the process of their healing or treatment. Often this model only relies on modifying the individual’s behavior without addressing their social conditions. Simultaneously, many of our communities have been forcibly removed from land and resources that traditionally enabled us to communally respond to the emotional and physical needs of our communities. This loss of connection from our traditions has severed our cultural memory of how to build wellness into our daily practices.
Additionally, the health care crisis, caused by privatization of services, lack of adequate public health care, and the onset of dangerous environmental health conditions has reached a climax in the southeast. The aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita unveiled the disturbing reality of the state’s inability and unwillingness to care for low- income communities of color in the Southeast. This same public healthcare system is riddled with a history of unethical practices and testing (eg. southern sterilization laws and the Tuskegee experiment) which pathologize women, people of color, immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities, and the l/b/g/t/i/q communities. These western based models that do not incorporate holistic modalities or natural care, nor do they offer collective models of wellness that reflect many of our political and cultural beliefs. As a result, our limited use of this “health care” does not empower the individual or community as a whole, keeping us further isolated.
In conjunction to this, low income communities, rural communities, and communities of color in the southeast have been targeted for sites of industrial waste and other unjust environmental practices. While the strategies of the environmental justice movement have expanded our response and political action for equitable and safer environmental conditions, there is still limited capacity for our communities to respond to the physical and emotional dis-ease and distress as a result of these pandemic practices.
Meanwhile, often out of necessity our movements and theories of practice are based on short term crisis based models of change which do not honor loss, memory, and trauma. In the wake of natural disasters that have devastated our region, or the incidences of violence and injustice as we experienced in the recent case of ‘Jena 6’in Louisiana. How do we hold action with mourning or reflection for our southern movements on how these experiences take a toll on our organizing work and lives? We must generate models of prevention and intervention to de-escalate stress, isolation, depression, and burnout from trauma and the impact of crisis driven work culture within our movements.
Finally, the Southern Experience in particular has been rooted in a legacy of triumphs and trials, exploitation and genocide, slavery and resistance, organizing and resiliency. Based on the particular experience in the south of heightened conditions of poverty, and overt state violence, homophobia, religious persecution, and white supremacy, it is imperative that we find creative ways to identify and change the contradictions within our region to consciously reflect on how to shift unsustainable practices. Ensuring our emotional, physical, spiritual well being is intrinsically connected to the sustainability of our communities and movements. We must hold spaces for healing, building accountable and authentic relationships, facing conflict and resolution, and transforming ways we work together.
1. Build a Network of Healers and Organizers in the South: Organizers work with communities that are
constantly experiencing the trauma of a militarized and fast paced consumptive culture. We are often limited in identifying our physical and emotional triggers in our work and organizing environments to know the cumulative effects and causes of our emotional, physical and spiritual duress and exhaustion. These conditions leave us unable to respond to and sustain the collective emotional, spiritual and physical well being of one another in our movements. Kindred will engage organizers to understand the legacy of trauma in our lives and create integrative healing models that both identify the impact of trauma and integrate practices that will increase long term mental, spiritual and physical well being. We will also create opportunities that sharpen the awareness, intuitiveness and capacity of organizers and healers to collectively contain, respond and intervene to experiences of trauma and social conditions.
- A network of organizers and healers who have the capacity to respond to trauma and sustain organizers and communities within our movements to prevent isolation, death, early burn out, and physical or spiritual deprivation.
- A space for healers and organizers to collaborate, document, and invent innovative models of healing modalities as tools of sustainability and wellness in our southern based communities and movements o Venues of mind, body and healing arts practices that explore, shape and develop our individual and collective capacities to name, hold and transform the impact of trauma and conditions on the well being of our hearts, spirit, minds and bodies.
2. Connect Personal & Collective Wellness within Organizing Strategies: Oftentimes organizers experiencing
personal distress, trauma or dis-ease isolate themselves or leave their organizing work to heal. We will work with organizers and practitioners to imagine and create collective models of wellness that connect principles and practices of organizing to uses of body and energy work (yoga, meditation, nutrition, reiki, acupuncture, sound healing, etc.) and the healing arts for balance. This will build our capacity to seek and maintain wellness both within and outside of our political work.
- Implement individual and collective wellness practices that sustain our social justice movements by replenishing our mind/body/heart and spirit.
- Create new collective traditions and community based practices for wellness based on need and within the context of our southern based movements.
- Model experiential workshops and strategy sessions that integrate different healing arts modalities and collective responses for trauma and wellness inside of organizing practices and movement building culture.
3. Document Wellness Traditions in the South: The historical moment of our movements is being defined more
by the constraints of the non-profit industrial complex and bureaucracy and less by the heart and souls of our communities. We will document traditions and practices rooted in the experiences of our southern movements that are fostering a deeper connection to our physical, environmental, emotional and spiritual work, as part of political and social transformation.
- Produce on line and multimedia access to southern healers and organizers who are using models of wellness as libratory practices and social justice strategies.
- Create a regional resource of stories that documents healers and traditions within a particular southern experience.
- Build a database networking healers and organizers across the region.
4. Expose and End Eugenic Practices in the South: By creating a political framework that seeks to transform
models of wellness, we will also offer a critique of current health systems. We seek public restitution and will expose the stories of state medical practices that have pathologized and targeted women, disabled people, low income people, queer people, and people of color communities under the auspices of ‘health’ and ‘genetic inferiority’. Kindred will build public awareness of these unethical practices, and promote critical action towards removing eugenic laws and practices on marginalized communities in the South, including campaigns seeking restitution.
- Build historical and critical analysis of the impact of the medical industrial complex on our communities
- Design a theory of change that challenges the ways capitalism, heterosexism, ableism, religion and white supremacy have informed and created the privatization of wellness and the decentralization of resources from our communities and seeks to transform our dependency on the state and medical industrial complex.
- Promote public education and restitution as a call to action for the removal of state eugenic laws and medical practices that facilitate the unethical testing and scientific targeting of our communities.
5. Create Leadership Models that Promote Wellness. Models of communication and leadership are often devoid
of an analysis and critique of how organizers are engaging in abusive and isolating behaviors that have been replicated in generations of leadership. This includes and is not limited to: using divisive and abusive language, a culture of overworking that undermines self and communal care and rest; a lack of reflective practice that enhances mental and intellectual clarity; power and abuse used to control individuals and motivate productivity through fear. Our movements are not using tools that build accountability and transparency within organizing processes and practices, and we are a suffering without acknowledging and transforming these practices that have been modeled as ‘leadership’ and cultures of organizing. Kindred will create new models of sustainable leadership practices in relationship to our emotional, spiritual and physical well being.
- Create and implement a holistic model and organizing training curriculum for healers and organizers on trauma and holistic healing based responses to the conditions of our movements.
- Identify sites of practice in the Southeast that are modeling collectivized wellness within our southern based organizations and movements.
- Initiate strategy sessions and mapping of individual and collective ways we hold stress and oppression in our political work and lives, and generate ways to intervene, sustain, build and map conducive organizing, spiritual, emotional and physical environments of well being and balance.