Grow Food, Grow Jobs, GROW COMMUNITY!
Photography by Spencer Wilkinson
We all move through several significant transitions during the course our lives, where we shift from one phase to another. Recognizing these transitions is fundamental to our growth, and it links us as individuals to our larger communities, and helps guide us on our journey. We often mark these transitions through rites of passage ceremonies.
This past Saturday, October 18th, 2014, the second cohort of participants in our Pathways to Resilience Program, with full support of the community, were ritually welcomed back from incarceration and applauded as they begin a new chapter of their lives. These participants have courageously chosen to enroll in a program that will challenge and empower them as they learn about, and gain hands on experience in: permaculture, restorative justice, social entrepreneurship, and more. Through this program they will have the space to reflect on who they are and the life they want to build based on their gifts, skills, and personal values.
This rites of passage ceremony was a profound and heartfelt occasion for both community members and participants. We opened the day in circle, with the sound of drums, as one community member lead us in a ritual of calling in the four directions as well as the earth and sky to set the space as sacred. Another member encouraged us to speak aloud the names of our family, ancestors, and important figures that have shaped our lives and whose shoulders we stand on. Each of us also had a chance to put our own voices in the circle by acknowledging our roles as participants, staff, or community members, each expressing the gifts and offerings we bring to the circle. This grounded us in the space and created the container to hold the participants as they separated from the larger circle to reflect upon their lives and the things they were ready to let go of. They wrote down and symbolically burned those pieces in the fire and were cleansed and blessed by the smoke of white sage. At this moment they walked through the human tunnel of community members, and were celebrated, hugged, and welcomed-in as essential, valued, and loved people of our community.
Thank you to all those who came out and participated and to all those who support this work! To learn more and make a contribution to Pathways to Resilience, please visit http://pathways2resilience.org.