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2023 Castanea Update

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Cohort Three Opening Retreat - May 2023

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2023 is proving to be a year of meaningful connection, learning, and restoration. Our third cohort of Fellows came together for an opening retreat in May, at the Barn at Boyds Mills in Milanville, PA. We spent a week getting to know one another and building this cohort’s culture. We focused on learning areas such as Communications, Disability Justice, the intersections of Food & Climate Justice, and Embodied Leadership. We also made time for exploring the land, organic conversation and eating well.

Retreat partner highlights

Alvina Wong is the Basebuilding Director at Asian Pacific Environmental Network and a facilitator, somatic coach, and generative somatics teacher. Alvina was a retreat co-facilitator.

Holiday Simmons, MSW, is the founder and Lead Practitioner at Southern Soul Wellness, a holistic mental health and spiritual wellness practice. Holiday was a retreat co-facilitator.

Jonel Beauvais is a Wolf Clan Mohawk healer and community leader who opened our retreat with a land welcome and grounded us in place.

India Harville, Founder of Embraced Body, is an African American, disabled, and queer disability justice activist who provided us with a disability justice training. 

Adam Hymans, Managing Director at Resource Media, provided us with a communications training.

Cohort Three Opening Retreat - May 2023

Group of people sitting outside in a circle. Three people standing on the right

In September, we came together for our first “place-based immersion” in Durham, North Carolina. Our trip started with a powerful grounding in place and context setting at Stagville Plantation, led by indigenous leaders and descendants from Stagville. We visited with partners EarthSeed and Sankofa Farms, who are doing food and land justice and sovereignty work. We made time for activities such as a Whistle Stop Tour about activist icon Pauli Murray and an excursion to enjoy the Saxapahaw River via kayak and hiking. We laughed, ate delicious food, and bubbled over with new ideas about growing movements and what it means to take care of ourselves and our communities.

Partner highlights

Kamal Bell at Sankofa Farms led us on a farm tour and in discussion on what it means to farm and feed folks sustainably. 

Santos Flores and Cristina Rivera Chapman from Earthseed both played important planning roles for our NC visit and led us in conversation and connection at Earthseed and Tierra Negra Farm. 

Vivette Jeffries-Logan of Biwa Consulting and an enrolled member of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi nation, welcomed and grounded us at Stagville Plantation.

Nnedinma U, an Igbo activist and healer, helped hold space for us at Stagville Plantation alongside current Fellow Georie Bryant.

Alexis McKenney of Tall Grass Food Box and Castanea alum Tavia Benjamin supported our planning process as members of our planning committee (alongside Santos Flores.)

Fellows stay connected between in-person trips both via Castanea virtual programming and with self-organized and informal conversations. This cohort is a special group and we are happy to see them leaning on each other and sharing in each other’s celebrations.

Where we’re headed next:

Kaua’i, March 2024
Following a beautiful experience with Cohorts 1 and 2 on the island in 2022, we’ll continue to build relationships and solidarity with our partners in Kaua’i next year. We are currently in the early stages of planning with our core program partner, Malia Chun, educator and Site Coordinator at Nā Pua Noʻeau.

Ghana, September 2024
Our final immersion will take place in and around Accra and Cape Coast, Ghana. Our core planning partner is Akanni Addison of Pride of Ghana Tours, and we are also in coordination with Ghana Food Movement and Food Sovereignty Ghana.

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