One of the strengths of the Whole Communities Fellowship program is the incredible team coming together to facilitate, train, coach, and learn with the cohort. Each team member has expertise in transformative practice and content areas including ecology, planning, contemplative practice, organizational development, measurement and evaluation, coalition building and more. Read on to meet this powerful team and learn about what inspires them to do the important work they do.
Delma Jackson III
Peace, peace, peace…
I’m excited to engage with such a powerful and varied group of individuals from all over the US. In my decade with CWC I’ve encountered so many people and processes that I’ve come to love and truly believe in. Being witness to the transformations that have taken place within myself, my team, and our larger community has been one of the most treasured elements of my adult life and I’m ecstatic to share this time and space with you all.
I’ve spent years engaging in historical analysis and social justice work–watching myself transform from someone singularly focused on racial justice into an ever larger “tent” focusing on the ways in which history bears-out the way oppression mimics itself across a variety of social identities. With each new realization, I’m constantly being challenged and challenging others to see our interconnectedness. My research interests also include the ways in which contemporary pop-culture results from historical trends and foundations. My goal is always to bring history into the present and demonstrate the ways in which El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) was correct in arguing that, “of all our studies, history is in the best position to reward our research.”
Ten years ago I moved across the country to a state I’d never seen to work with folks I’d never met because of the compelling vision for Whole Communities that our founders, Helen Whybrow and Peter Forbes and our founding board and faculty members had created. What began as a refuge for land and people, evolved into Center for Whole Communities – a place for deep transformation and movement building. Our early years were spent hosting leaders from across the country at Knoll Farm in rural Vermont – a beautiful, bucolic setting where we learned and grew our capacity to facilitate across the many divides that exist in our movements.
My passion from the beginning has been to make it possible for folks to access an experience of whole communities – to expand out from our home in Vermont to meet people where they live and work. I am inspired to cultivate our capacity to find refuge and connection to land and place in our daily lives. Beyond a retreat experience, how do we bring transformative practice into play each and every day? This is what I live for – and I am eager to build a field of practice and play with the incredible leaders who joining us for this year.
I do this work to bring about collective liberation, yours, mine and ours – For the land, air and water – For all of life.
Jesse Maceo Vega Frey
Over years of working with hundreds of creators, destroyers, plotters, planners, rejuvenators, rejoicers, relaxers, sowers, and dedicated pursuers, under the cool shade of the Center for Whole Communities, I have come to believe more and more deeply in the capacity for our human and non-human communities to flourish together—given the appropriate conditions, dedication, and time. The tools and practices we explore as part of the CWC internal structure and from the wisdom of participants give me a renewed sense of possibility in the durability and depth of human relationships that have the power to heal and transform the world and ourselves.
I am fascinated by whatever dialectical alchemy may exist or be ignited between personal insight and collective change—and am nourished by engagement with all fellow seekers in this pursuit. I believe that the deepest transformation (in our selves and in the world) comes not by the force of will-power but through understanding brought on by honest engagement, patience, courage, love, and genuine interest—all qualities I see at the heart of the work of the Center for Whole Communities.
The fast change is necessary but must be enforced. The slow change is deeper but comes only through understanding. I am so very excited to gather with this cohort to commit to a track of slow change together as we explore the realms and rhythms of change above and below, fast and slow—informing, complicating, resolving, and illuminating one another for the sake of our liberation.
I am an Oakland Ca. native, and at a young age I moved to the cow fields, rivers and Redwoods of Humboldt County CA. This existence between two places: rural and urban, built and natural environment, Black community and white community, defines me in so many ways. I think it’s at the root of my role as a connector and bridge builder. I bring that sensibility and years of organizing, facilitation and training experience to my role as Faculty Trainer at Center for Whole Communities. Outside of CWC I am the co-founder and Training Director for the Million Person Project where we help change-makers uncover and harness the power of their personal narrative for their work.
The Whole communities Fellowship brings together so much of what I love, cultivating connection and community across difference chief among them. Throughout my career, the most rewarding work I’ve done has centered around Fellowship. I’ve helped facilitate a number of fellowships and I’ve been fortunate enough to be a member of two fellowships as a participant.
Through these experiences I’ve come to believe that the most essential part of change work is cultivating human connection first and foremost. When we acknowledge and celebrate our shared humanity and our shared connection to nature and the cosmos, we can build deeper more lasting relationships and create the conditions for the creativity, trust and partnership that will allow us to manifest the world we want. I’m thrilled and honored to help hold this space for all of our Fellows.
I’m excited about this fellowship because I’m so moved by the questions, solutions, and conversations arising in movements dedicated to land and justice right now and I’m equally moved by how Center for Whole Communities has grown, who we currently are, and how we build community and support those engaged in the critical, complex work of our time. What we know is that healing from all the impacts of our extractive and unjust economic, cultural, and political systems will require practices that help us to love ourselves as we notice how we are of those very systems AND community to support and create new possibilities with.
Our offering is not about providing answers, but rather an offering of practices and community — a community to support and bear witness to our individual and collective transformation over time through engaging in intentional practices.
I am thrilled to be part of this team at CWC holding space for the Whole Communities Fellowship! I feel infinitely blessed by the brilliance and care of my collaborators, and to work for justice through a practice that centers love, relationship, equity and beauty.
I do this work because I love the whole of life that is the earth. In my cosmology, there is no separation between people and nature. Purging patriarchy, capitalism and white supremacy from our human systems and lifting up the rights of nature are deeply intertwined. What affects one part of the web of life impacts all parts. So working to restore right relationship between people and the earth and to repair injustice in human communties stems from the same place of reverence for me. May we heal together. And may we be in ever-deepening solidarity with each other for our collective liberation and thriving. May our transition be just and honoring in all ways.
I’m also currently pursuing an MA in Social Transformation at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA… exploring how faith traditions across cultures center some version of “take care of each other” and “take care of planet” and how that can strengthen our movements for justice and the earth. There are millions of ways to pray and offer gratitude to the earth. This Whole Communities Fellowship feels like a collective prayer and I’m eager to build with you all!
I am drawn to ‘whole communities’ work because it centers love, relationship, and reciprocity. Truth be told, there are both difficult and sweet parts to this work. I can’t say that I relish both equally, but I understand how real that is. Wholeness includes brokenness, and that’s where the light shines in. I’m also drawn to the artistry, poetry, creativity, and collaboration that’s an integral and inspiring part of our work. CWC’s core practice of story comes to mind, though it springs from the heart. Artistry and creativity are also woven into how we approach working with difference and tension, weaving story and awareness into places where there might be pain and confusion.
I’m committed to listening for community stories that acknowledge and work creatively with that difference, tension, and pain in ways that are productive, restorative, and life-affirming. Whether they celebrate connection or commemorate loss, stories are a reminder that the making and remaking of community, home, and place are radical acts of faith and of love.
What I’m most excited about in this fellowship is the practice of dialogue. However that practice looks like in terms of protocol and form, there’s a level of awareness that comes with slowing down and paying exquisite attention to the pace, rhythm, and collective meaning-making in conversation. This is collective contemplative practice, and so it takes practice. I often experience dialogue in ways that I can only describe musically – an embodied experience of making meaning and music together in circle, revealing the collective wisdom we carry in our bodies and in relationship, with each other and in the places we inhabit.
I am from the underbelly of my grandmother’s earthquake; the epicenter of her rupture; the core of her grief, her resilience, her survival. I am an activist, an artist, an educator. I am a rebel rouser and a deep listener. I am passionate and committed to justice. I am drawn to Whole Communities work because it honors the intrinsic value of prioritizing the many narratives that live within and between us. I am drawn to Whole Communities work because it centers an unwavering commitment to holding and facilitating courageous spaces that call us to the core of ourselves with undeniable skill, care, and vulnerability. Living and working at the intersections of social change, trauma-informed community engagement, and performance, this work enlivens me to truly embody the practices that I hold most sacred.
This fellowship is a prayer answered. In my decade with CWC, so many of us have been calling in the opportunity to build sustained relationships that transcend space time and space with fellows both in and out of retreat environments. It is truly an honor to be collectively crafting the container within which we can share stories, be in dialogue, practice silence and stillness, movement and action. May we collectively cultivate the capacity to align with one another’s visions and work across difference with deep hospitality, creativity, and care.
As a survivor of a violent crime who has devoted her life to challenging the epidemic of mass incarceration, I am dedicated to lifting up healing justice initiatives that centralize restorative practices and hold space for trauma. I come to this work because I understand that hurt people hurt people. Violence is an easier recourse than healing. I believe that we may only transcend these paradigms once we cultivate communities that are accountable to one another. Creating radical forums for vulnerability, such as this fellowship, hold potent potential to interrupt and transform the broken systems that permeate our communities.