Thousands of years before colonization, southern Pomo people lived in the territory where we now work and reside. Members of the Pomo, Coast Miwok, Onatsatis and other local nations reside here today. This land is their land, still. Acknowledging and working to reconcile the past and ongoing damage done by colonization is part of the healing needed in these times.
As part of that effort, we are committed to understanding the differences between cultural appreciation, appropriation, and misappropriation. Discerning the difference between healthy exchange and misappropriation rests in understanding historical and present-day power dynamics and how new cultural practices are adopted.
We are blessed to have been influenced and supported by myriad teachers, elders, allies and landscapes over the years. How we care for these relationships and teachings is a core aspect of our work at WE. We strive to do so with authenticity and integrity, and are committed to the healing and long-term commitment this work requires.
Our organizational values have been shaped by many and will continue to evolve as we learn and grow. These are the touchstones that we return to as Weaving Earth staff, to anchor ourselves in learning and growth, and to navigate the complexity of the world to the best of our abilities. We do not present these as rules for others to follow, but as a way of letting the world know who we are and what we believe. If they inspire or challenge you, great! We see this as a living document and know it will continue to grow and change through the years.
How do we educate for our times? Weaving Earth has focused on creating educational experiences aimed at remembering and strengthening our relationships to self, to community and to the planet upon which we all depend. The health of any system—ecological, social, economic or otherwise—is defined by the relationships between the elements that make it up.
Education today must critically engage inherited stories of separation and domination, and at the same time responsibly recollect a deeper human inheritance: stories of interrelationship, belonging, dignity and respect. We believe this orientation supports the conditions for systems change so needed at this time.
Weaving Earth foster learning environments that are inspired by contemporary insights and grounded in ancestral wisdom. Guided by nature, we endeavor to draw out the vital contributions we each have to make to the great work before us.
We have identified ten critical components for personal and community growth that are the ever-evolving foundation for our programs.
The United States is purportedly established on principles of equality—yet not all people are treated equally by or within U.S. society. Since inception, the U.S. has been designed to privilege, prioritize and empower educated, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, thin, middle/upper class men. All other identities that deviate from this “societal norm” are targets of personal and structural discrimination, resulting in individual pain and systemic inequity. Therefore, the notion that wealth simply accrues to those who work hard is a cultural myth—a myth that upholds colonialism, white supremacy, cis-heterosexual male dominance and extractive capitalism.
Weaving Earth is committed to a practice of reparations. Recognizing the intersecting barriers of colonialism and white supremacy, Weaving Earth created a Reparations Fund to cover tuition for all BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) participants in the 2018 and 2019 WE Immersions. Any money BIPOC choose to pay would go to the Reparations Fund for future BIPOC participants. This is not a scholarship fund, and we do not assume that individual BIPOC applicants do not have access to wealth—these reparations are offered with a prayer for collective liberation.
You can join the effort to enact reparations by donating to our Reparations Fund.
Since our inception in 2013, Weaving Earth has graduated more than 100 participants from our 10-month intensive program, the WE Immersion. Nearly ⅔ of our participants completed multiple years of training. Applying their training, WE Immersion graduates are making a difference in dozens of programs and organizations around the country, working with children, families, and communities to care for the earth and one another.
Through our year-long programs, teen backpacking trips, summer camps, and weeklong events, we’ve nurtured a love for nature and people in hundreds of young hearts and minds.
Sam (he/him) is the Associate Director at Weaving Earth. He was born and raised in Washington, D.C. (Nacotchtank territory) and currently resides as a white settler on unceded/occupied Southern Pomo territory. His lineage is northern european—scottish, irish, british, german, and french. He is dedicated to a future in which human beings live beyond separation and domination and is continually examining with humility what that asks of him today.
In addition to his role on the Executive Team, Sam has worked on the Teaching Team for the WE Immersion and as a guide for youth and teen programs. He is a certified Wilderness First Responder and a devoted student of birdsong, animal tracks, and fire-making. He also maintains a deep personal commitment to racial justice, which has evolved over the years into a responsibility to understanding how interlocking systems of oppression shape his reality and societal advantages, and what to do about it. Additional passions include martial arts (Aikido), music-making (guitar), writing, and figuring out how things work.
Justine (she/her) is a lover of birds and all things wild, a student of water and love, a community activist, council carrier, and rites of passage guide-in-training. She lives a commitment to personal and collective healing from inherited historical systems of colonization, white supremacy, cis-heteropatriarchy, and global capitalism through integrated, holistic community practices, prayer and storytelling in ways that honor our diverse and complex histories and identities, and a focus on relationship with and protection of the natural world.
Justine was born and raised as a white settler on the ancestral territories of the Nacotchtank/Piscataway nations (so-called Washington, D.C. area) and the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Monacan Nation. She currently lives as a settler on unceded Southern Pomo territory. Her ancestors come from Europe—Ireland and the British Isles as well as Lithuania and Russia, from Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
Justine has worked and studied community organizing, praxes of anti-racism and decolonization, deep nature connection, wilderness-based rites of passage and council. In addition to being a third-year student in the WE Immersion, she serves on the Core Teams of Walking Water and Education for Racial Equity has trained with the School of Lost Borders and Tamera Healing Biotope 1 and is a member of Beyond Boundaries. She carries and offers practices and skills that strengthen our capacities to show up with open hearts and courageous bodes during these uncertain times on planet earth.
In 2012 Kate founded Walking Water—a pilgrimage with the waters—as a way to inspire us to be in community, in relation with the waters and the places we live and ultimately to experience the huge potential we all have to create change. Walking Water already has a strong global following and is seen as a model in social action. Kate is a member of the Beyond Boundaries team, a Council carrier and community consultant and has recently joined the Weaving Earth team in California.
Kate was born and raised in the UK. Surrounded by water on all sides, she learned to swim and sail as soon as she could. From an early age she witnessed many disparities in our human world and began searching for the places where change was happening, for the better. She has worked in safe houses for women and children experiencing domestic violence, adults with learning difficulties, schools, a child abuse study unit, with young offenders, young girls working on the streets and as a consultant for the UK police force, National Unions and NGO’s. She has a degree with honors in Psychology and a Masters in Women’s Studies with focus on epistemology leading her to carry the question of what do we do with what we know.
For 15 years, Kate lived in one of the most progressive communities in the world and held a focus on educational programs and consultancy for communities in conflict areas, fundraising, global networking, organizing and public relations. One of her main roles was organizing and walking Pilgrimage, through Israel and Palestine, Colombia and Europe, as a way of empowering social action and re-discovering our potential as agents of change.
Will (he/him) is a member of the Teaching Team for the WE Immersion, and one of Weaving Earth’s co-founders. His lineage comes primarily out of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain, Italy, Germany and France, and he currently lives as a white settler on Southern Pomo territory. His passion resides at the intersections of ecological health, human development, social justice, and community resilience.
Since studying eco-psychology, social change, and wilderness experiences in college, Will has committed himself to a focus of healing the division between humans and the more-than-human world. This focus includes actively expanding his understanding of how the concept of wilderness itself reflects a human- and euro-centric frame of reference with roots in the colonization process. He has grown and learned over the years through deep relationships with a variety of teachers and organizations, each exploring how we can re-member and revitalize our relationships to self, others, and earth as a response to the crises we face. This journey led him to Prescott College where he pursued a master’s degree that explored the importance of, and possibilities for nature-based, relationally-focused education in these complex times.
tayla shanaye dances through thoughts, feelings, images, dreams, sensations, and experiences that come together to highlight her life as a multi-racial person, a cis-gendered wombyn, an activist on behalf of the oppressed human and more-than-human communities, as a student of Somatic Psychology and Women’s Spirituality, and as a body living, breathing and moving across the land of the so-called United States.
She recently contributed a chapter to the new North Atlantic Books anthology Diverse Bodies, Diverse Practices – Toward an Inclusive Somatics (2018) in which she speaks to the embodiment of oppression and the ways healing navigated through the living body. In an effort to re-member herself, she explores concepts of healing and wounding as they manifest both in the personal and social experiences of life in an effort to support life and nourish the unfolding mystery.
Sophia (“So”) Sinopoulos-Lloyd is a white queer Greek-American who grew up in the northern hardwood forests of Alnobak territory (central Vermont). So works variously as an outdoor educator, wilderness EMT, and writer. So worked as a seasonal shepherd throughout college and considers their life path to be deeply inspired by the combined resilience and tenderness of the cloven-hooved.
They founded Queer Nature with their spouse Pinar in 2015 where the two develop nature-based programming for LGBTQ2+ people with a focus on nature-connection, survival skills, and transformative experience through the lenses of decolonization and social and environmental justice. The soul of So’s work in and around nature is animated by studies of identity, place, notions of the sacred, and interspecies relationship within contexts of colonization, globalization, migration, and climate change. So holds an MA in Religious Studies from Claremont Graduate University and has studied place-based skills at Roots School and Wilderness Awareness School. Some of their favorite nature-connection practices are wildlife tracking and stealth-craft. @borealfaun @queernature
(Pomo/Wailaki/Wintu). After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in Native Studies, Redbird Willie has worked in various fields of education, while at the same time continuing to enrich his personal education – an education fueled by his desire to uncover and rekindle the cultural earth based knowledge of California Indians. Edward is an artist, native ecologist, graphic designer, basketweaver, regalia maker, permaculturist and budding herbalist. He has 4 grown children.
Pınar (they/them) is an indigenous futurist, mentor, consultant and ecophilosopher; co-founder of Queer Nature, an “organism” stewarding earth-based queer community through ancestral skills, interspecies solidarity and rites of passage. Enchanted by the liminal, Pınar is an neurodivergent enby with Huanca, Turkish and Chinese lineages.
As a QTIBIPOC outdoor catalyst, their inspiration is envisioning decolonially-informed queer ancestral-futurism through interspecies accountability and the remediation of human exceptionalism in the Chthulucene. Their relationship with queerness, hybridity, neurodivergence, indigeneity and belonging guided their work in developing Queer Ecopsychology with a somatic and depth approach through a decolonial lens. As a survival skills mentor, one of their core missions is to uplift and amplify the brilliant “survival skills” that BIPOC, LGBTQ2SIA+ and other intersectional systemically targeted populations already have in their resilient bodies and stories of survivance. They are a member of Diversify Outdoors coalition. Follow their work on IG via @queerquechua + @queernature
“My Hebrew name is Leba, named after my grandmother, which means heart. I feel that I am alive at this time dedicated to all matters of the heart. My blood ancestors are from Russia, Sicily and Scotland and I was born a white settler on Lenni-Lenape territory in what is now called New Jersey. I fell in love with the wild places there—the magnificence of the oak trees; the earthworms emerging after the rains; the deer moving through the leaves; the salty ocean air on my face and the bird calls that signaled the setting sun. These wild moments and my family’s love of life guided me as a child to love and care for the earth and the people.”
Lauren (she/her) is co-founder and director of the Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education (WE) and a member of the Teaching Team for the WE Immersion. As a guide and consultant, Lauren is dedicated to supporting leaders to think, feel, act and design from a foundation rooted in interrelationship. Lauren works with communities to support the honoring and witnessing of life transitions, and is especially dedicated to the reclamation of a healthy relationship to menstruation.
Lauren currently lives as a white settler on Southern Pomo territory. She is very present to the fact that some of the original colonizers of this place are Russian and Italian, two lineages which run through her body. She gives deep thanks and respect to the original peoples of this place, and is here with the commitment and prayer to be in right relationship with the people, the land and the waters of this place. And while this commitment isn’t enough to address the historic and present-day harm done on this continent and globally by supremacy culture, she nevertheless believes it is her response-ability to walk humbly with this commitment and prayer while continuing to learn, change and do better along the way.
Jeanette is an indigenous Permaculture specialist and a certified permaculture teacher and designer who specializes in maritime culture, herbalism, ethnobotany and biodynamics. Her experience dealing with indigenous peoples, international business people, world diplomats, heads of states, renowned artists/celebrities, and politicians gives her a very unique perspective on various cultures and customs.
Dave (he/him) is a co-founder of the Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education and a member of the Teaching Team for the WE Immersion. He is a white, cis-man of northern European descent who grew up as a settler on Southern Pomo territory, also known as Sonoma County. He carries a deep love of this particular landscape, and is passionate about serving others in creating/deepening their own relationship to place.
In addition to his role in the WE Immersion, Dave also supports the Executive Team. He is a Wilderness First Responder and has been guiding nature connection experiences for youth and adults since 2006. He brings his love of the natural world and his care for humanity into this work, with a particular fire for drawing out creative expression. He is grateful for the privilege to be in a process of co-liberation alongside participants and guides, and he remains a humble student to this collective effort.
Gigi began with a series of three-day retreats at a convent school when she was twelve, fascinated and curious what Jesus was doing fasting in that desert for 40 days. In her early twenties, the seeds of that experience led her to travel—alone in the wilderness, and in other cultures—seeking pathways to spirit, integral healing, and the partnership possible between all beings. She still travels that road.
For thirty years she has worked with individuals and groups in different communities and cultures, helping to build bridges “between the worlds.” She has organized and co-led journeys to the rainforest, to the oceans, to the desert; journeys dedicated to witnessing and learning through the great suffering and abundant grace found on this planet. Interspecies Communication, The School of Lost Borders and The Ojai Foundation have been her primary focus and attention. Today, she offers council and the desert fast as two of the simplest, oldest, tried-and-true forms for initiation, healing, confirmation and celebration of work, life, and vision. She is co-author of The Way of Council and The Box: Remembering The Gift. Gigi created and is now leading an intergenerational pilgrimage team, Beyond Boundaries and responds to a variety of service projects supporting regenerative communities around the world.
brontë velez (they/them) is guided by the call that “black wellness is the antithesis of state violence” (Mark Anthony Johnson). a black-latinx transdisciplinary artist and designer, they are currently moved and paused by the question, “how can we allow as much room for god to flow through and between us as possible? what affirms the god of and between us? what is in the way? how can we decompose what interrupts our proximity to divinity? what ways can black feminist placemaking promote the memory of god, which is to say, love and freedom between us?”
they relate to god as the moments of divine spacetime that remind us we are not separate, the moments that re-belong us to the earth. they encounter these questions in public theology, black prophetic tradition & environmental justice through their eco-social art praxis, serving as creative director for lead to life, media director for planting justice, and quotidian black queer life ever-committed to humor & liberation.