Our mission is to build an inclusive community through cultural arts to heal and cultivate positive change.
Our vision is an interconnected community where all individuals feel a sense of belonging and inpowered* to develop their most authentic selves.
*inpowered– activating the power within us
We center the African and Indigenous ancestors that carried deep wisdom as culture keepers and caretakers of the earth. We honor the generational knowledge passed from those that came before us and strive to give back to those that carry these arts forward. Our work is our process to become better ancestors for our children and future generations. We create spaces that value our elders andinvest time to deepen our understanding of these traceable and tangible histories.
We recognize cultural arts are often born out of resistance for communities to gather and reinforce their shared humanity. We work to preserve a sense of dignity for all engaged in our work and collectively take action towards identifying and shifting the interlocking systems of oppression (colonialism, racism, etc.) that leave their mark on allof us.
Our relationships are foundational to making our work sustainable and collective.We develop trust in our relationships by investing time to listen and share stories with one another.
We are humbled and nourished by the profound joy of moving, creating, playing, and celebrating with one other. Joy is a strategy for resistance for marginalized communities as survival for their humanity. Celebrating life is a central pillar of our work, necessary to hold us up when the work weighs heavy on our shoulders and our hearts.
We approach health and wellbeing through a holIstic approach that honors our body, mind, spirit, and our interdependence with nature. We see agriculture, healing arts, culinary arts, music, dance, and martial arts as interdisciplinary cultural art forms that promote community health. We look out for the wellbeing of everyone in our community.
Accountability is something we continually strive and build towards with each other as individuals and with the organization as a whole. We understand that what we say and do has consequences and pro sequences. We speak with humility and act with integrity. We cultivate a practice of self-awareness, humbly listening and responding when the impact of our choices needs repair.
Silvio Dos Reis is a Master lever teacher of Capoeira Angola, know to his students as Mestre Silvinho. He started the practice of Capoeira in his hometown of Belo Horizonte, Brasil in 1986. He moved to Seattle in 2004 to direct the branch of International Capoeira Angola. Since then, he has been teaching ongoing Capoeira classes at the Union Cultural Center, organizing international conferences, teaching summer camps, and teaching credit classes at University of Washington, Evergreen State College, and Western Washington University. He sees Capoeira as a powerful tool for education, cultivate self-esteem, and develop our critical view of the world. Capoeira promotes interpersonal and social healing through the learning of its fundamentals such as movements, music, history, and philosophy.
Leika Suzumura is a community nutrition educator (Nourishian) dedicated to uplifting health and well-being in her community. Leika earned her BS in Nutrition from Bastyr University in 2006 and recently completed her Master of Public Health at the University of Washington, specializing in Community Oriented Public Health Practice. She has been working in the Rainier Valley of South Seattle for 15 years, providing experiential and community driven opportunities for people to learn and share food traditions, connect community, and honor the land our food comes from. Her approach to nutrition is deeply rooted in cultural tradition, bringing people together around shared meals as a way to nourish ourselves and celebrate life.
Deepa has over 20 years of experience in farming and food systems education as well as extensive experience and skill in creating and facilitating food security and food justice activities in direct partnership with the communities she serves. She holds a Masters from the Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Community Sustainability department. She and her partner Victor founded Ayeko Farm in 2018 with a mission to create space for BIPOC community to reconnect to the land and our cultures through food and farming. At Ayeko Farm in addition to hosting events Deepa and Victor grow culturally relevant produce that diverse communities in South King County are seeking, and they feel they have done well when people remember the Earth, their ancestors and their homeland when tasting the food.
Monica Rojas-Stewart has a doctorate degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Washington and has collaborated as choreographer, cultural consultant, guest artist, music and dance instructor with various K-12, college and community education youth and adult programs throughout the Pacific Northwest. A mother, wife, artist, activist and scholar, she is a pioneering promoter and educator of Afro-Peruvian and Afro-Latino arts in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Rojas is the founder of DE CAJóN Project and the Movimiento Afrolatino Seattle (MAS), two community grassroots organizations dedicated to educating about and raising awareness of the cultural contributions of people of African descent in Peru and Latin America respectively. Rojas is co-founder of Huayruro LLC and currently holds various positions at the University of Washington as part time lecturer in the Department of Dance and as the Assistant Director of the African Studies program, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies programs at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.
Sandra was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and immigrated to the United States as a teenager. Her experience as a multilingual, Black, immigrant woman has shaped much of her life, and the work that comes with it. She has spent over 10 years working in nonprofits, serving in communications, farming, youth advocacy and education, human rights observation, community organizing, and nonprofit management. Her experience as a consultant and capacity builder centers partnerships with immigrant, refugee, and Black communities to co-create organizational systems that promote self and collective liberation. She loves working with non profit organizations to reimagine their strategy, leadership, finances, and organizational culture in ways that build practices of pause, reflection, and accountability. She work with her organizational partners using coaching, co-created tools, facilitation and thought partnership. She has a degree in Business Marketing from Seattle University and a coaching certification from Blooming Willow Healing Centered Coaching.
Dr. Stewart is an inclusion specialist utilizing Peacemaking Circle in schools (K-College), businesses, families, government, and community settings. He has trained in the lineage of Circle Keeping connected to Mark Wedge, Kay Pranis, and Barry Stuart for nearly a decade. Besides keeping Circle he also trained in, and practices other Art of Hosting social technologies, all with a focus on institutional cultural change. Jabali is a public speaker who has also cultivated a practice of deep one-on-one cultural counsel. His work is deeply informed by his belief and practice of sensible, love-based leadership.