My favorite travel memory is visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras both this year and in 2019. Although its disheartening to see how commercialized the area has become, and how little recognition the native folks are given- the resilience of New Orleans in inspiring. I've never been out of the country, so New Orleans is probably the most unique place I've traveled to outside of North Carolina's neighboring states. The people, food and music were unforgettable, as well as the beautiful surrounding presence of blackness and black culture. I look forward to going back outside of Mardi Gras.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I've grown in many ways from working as a Core Facilitator at the Eco Insititute. Facilitating a group of 12 women for 10 weeks has been no easy task, but it's taught me how to hold space for all types of emotions and experiences. I've been able to put my communications degree to good use through teaching, and have become much more confident in my capacity to lead. From leading workshops around self-care, living in community, fighting for social and environmental justice, and practicing healthy communication, to holding one-on-ones, to leading healing councils and ceremonies, I find myself becoming more confident and well-rounded alongside my participants.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
The best story of growth I've heard from students here is how they are learning to trust the process and decolonize their way of thinking. One student in particular has expresses how healing it has been to discover the power of vulnerability when it comes to bringing people together, recognizing how the personal is political, healing self, and liberating others.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I would chose my role as a core facilitator for the Rising Earth Immersion program again and again. I've never worked in a job that is so holistic and meets so many of my needs as a black, queer, change-maker and activist. I am paid well, supported well by the leadership team, and have been given so many opportunities through this role to develop the change-making curriculum that I am passionate about teaching.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
My company is unique in how it provides a holistic curriculum that doesn't just focus on environmental justice without acknowledging the variety of causes and effects of this issue. It is also a unique experience as an employee to have our personal self-care valued so highly. A moment in which I was very proud of my team was when we had to make space for conflict that was arising in our group. Not only did we have the capacity to hold space for the emotions of all the participants because of the intentionality around our own self-care, but we were also able to guide the group through generative conflict, to healthier communication strategies and better self and community care.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I believe the biggest factors of a successful company is inspiration and invitation. There are many companies that are limited in their capacity to connect and have a diversity of membership and experiences because their space is not inviting of folk from certain backgrounds. You realize once you create a space that doesn't discourage folks from feeling seen and heard that the conversations are much more fruitful and generative. These conversations lead to inspiration which starts folks on a path of creating new ways to give back. This is what has expanded the Eco-Institutes network exponentially in only a matter of years and it's exciting to see all the magic that comes from these connections.