I met Mel several years ago through a mutual friend in Madison, Wisconsin, and I’ve since been learning from Mel about the work of fundraising for organizations that we deeply care about and want to support. generative somatics is one of those organizations, which is why we’re highlighting it here.
At this time of year, there are lots of fundraising requests, but Giving Tuesday, at its best, asks that we allocate funds toward priorities. Though budgets are always limited, folks with class privilege especially make arguments about our commitments through where we put money (including how we spend, save, and share money).
So, if you can, I hope you’ll give to generative somatics. Read more about why from Mel:
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a tarot reader and massage therapist, rooting back into my hometown in Central Pennsylvania for the long haul. I returned home because I felt called to bring my energy for activism and healing here, to an area for which I feel responsible. I am striving to deepen my commitment to organizing fellow white and class-privileged folks around uprooting white supremacy and building alternatives to capitalism.
I am passionate about tarot and massage as tools that we can all use to reconnect with our intuition and with our embodied awareness. I’m seeking to cultivate a politicized and trauma-informed approach, which means acknowledging that our experiences and abilities to be present—full body, mind, and spirit(s)—are shaped by societal forces, including oppression and privilege, as well as our past embodied responses.
What is generative somatics, and how did you get involved with the organization?
generative somatics, or gs, is an organization dedicated to strengthening movements for social and environmental justice by offering embodied leadership training, deepening each individual’s capacity for transformation and their ability to coordinate with a collective for deep and systemic change. The meaning of somatics is explained wonderfully in a gs essay, “What Is a Politicized Somatics?”:
Somatics is a holistic change theory that understands both personal and collective transformation from a radically different paradigm. Somatics understands both the individual and collective as a combination of biological, evolutionary, emotional and psychological aspects, shaped by social and historical norms and adaptive to a wide array of both resilient and oppressive forces. All of this gets embodied through both resilience and survival strategies, and social and cultural practices become “shapes” or embodied worldviews, habits, ways of relating, automatic actions and non-action. What we embody becomes familiar, “normal,” and habitual, even “feels” right … even when what we embody may not match up with our values or vision. Then, what we embody connects to our identity and how we see ourselves.
To transform, to create sustainable change, we need to feel and perceive our individual and collective “old shapes.” We need to increase our awareness of the default shapes we have embodied. Then, we get to open or deconstruct these shapes, often healing and developing a much more substantial capacity through the opening. This somatic opening allows for new ways of acting, feeling, relating and knowing. It is the pragmatic process of deep transformation, shedding to change. Somatics then moves us toward embodying new ways of being and action that align our values, longings and actions.”
I became involved with gs, after years of curiosity, when I attended their Embodied Leadership for Funders and Donors course as part of my previous job in philanthropy. I was transformed by the experience and feel grateful that I was able to experience a week of community centered around gs’s powerful tools.
What’s involved in practicing with generative somatics (gs)?
gs practices are about embodying new ways of being—in your body and in relationship. By being present to ourselves in gs practices, we can better align our embodied, habitual patterns (what gs calls “shapes”) with our values. One core practice that I love is called centering, which gs presents with a politicized lens that connects us to the lineage of movements at our backs and the healing and liberatory futures we long to create. You can access one version of a centering practice led by adrienne maree brown as part of gs’s recent webinar, “Pleasure Activism: what’s somatics got to do with it?”:
A beautiful aspect of gs practices is how they allow you to feel your own self more deeply, so that you can be more present when you are with other people.
How can readers support generative somatics, and why do you believe it’s important to give regularly?
You can donate to gs here, and I hope you will consider a donation that’s meaningful to you if you’re moved by what I shared. gs receives five or more applications for every one spot in their courses, so your gift will make a critical difference in offering this healing and change-making technology where the needs are greatest. Donations from individuals allow gs to make programs accessible to innovative movement leaders; to poor and working-class communities and communities of color; and to choose partnerships with movement organizations based on alignment with gs values and strategy, not on financial capacity.
I support gs with a monthly donation because I know how critical it is that they have a reliable base of support that’s not tied to the changing priorities of foundations. Our movements need us to be present now more than ever, with practices that can unlock all the love, rigor, and healing possibilities that dwell within us. As someone with class privilege, I know that it’s my responsibility to help ensure that folks oppressed by capitalism (and its close ties to every other system of oppression) can access these powerful tools.
How do you strive toward “everyday living for justice”?
Everyday living for justice, to me, means taking small daily actions to live in closer alignment to my values. That’s why I find gs practices so powerful, because I have an opportunity to become aware of how I am being in that moment, including any habitual actions that are generally rooted in my conditioning to wield power over and ignore the suffering caused by the forms of privilege I hold. I can then practice feeling into the sensations, presence, and values-backed actions that I long to embody.
I also appreciate the grace that gs teaches, where we strive to inhabit a new shape and commitment about 80% of the time, rather than upholding a myth of perfection. Through the community I’ve found with gs and other movement groups, I am more accountable to myself and others in taking action day to day: have an organizing conversation, make a fundraising ask, donate, etc.
In other words:
Consistent, small steps move me toward my stated values of wealth redistribution and uprooting white supremacy.