Art and Social Change Jam, Ben Lomond, California

After two of years of being part of the organization and facilitation team for the Toronto Jam, and nine years of being told “you should go to a Jam”, I finally accepted the generous offer and was a participant at the Art and Social Change Jam. Why did I wait so long? To be honest, I struggled with believing that I deserved the investment of time and resources for a reflective retreat. Even up to the day before I left, I was feeling guilty, thinking “What am I doing taking a retreat? I should be working!”

I’m so glad I pushed through my old scarcity thinking and followed my gut which both softly and assertively said: “Go!”

Because in the loving embrace of community, I received oceans of affirmation supporting me to be the artist I am, in all the roles I play in the world. Regardless of the absence of certificates or degrees, whether I am designing or facilitating a program, performing on stage or organizing a community gathering – I am an artist. Learning to stand in my power as an artist, remembering that I am a healing dancer, that art is my birthright, and my creativity is my gift to the world. A gift that the world needs to heal, re-create and re-imagine outdated, oppressive systems.

Step dancing with Nandita, Sezin, Elif and Ezra. Photo credit Tony Santaana
Step dancing with Nandita, Sezin, Elif and Esra. Photo credit Tony Santaana

Being an artist in this world can be hard. A limiting belief system that recurred in this gathering was the idea that “I am not enough.” It was painful to see how deep this current runs through so many of us. How penetrating the societal undervaluing of art is, how scarcity thinking has invaded our systems and minds, stopping us from being BIG, being BRIGHT, being the POWER that we actually are. Affirmations came up again and again as a necessary remedy to fight this illness.

We affirmed each other and ourselves, and through this so much opening was made possible. It may sound cliché, but it’s true that love heals. In the practice of beloved community, where I was seen and heard, I allowed myself to be witnessed processing deep fears and insecurities, standing as obstacles between me and my dreams. And so did many of us.

Photo credit Jayeesha Dutta
Austin and Annie-Rose perform a Secret Angel presentation for Esra. Photo credit Jayeesha Dutta

We had the space to understand what success looks like for us as artists, and to envision our future. We had the opportunity to receive support in one of our ventures, and thanks to these collaborations, I will soon be starting a course in entrepreneurship for artists.

Nancy Marguiles graphic recording: conversations on success, value/worth, barriers, and support for artivists.
Graphic recording by Nancy Marguiles capturing a World Cafe conversation on success, value/worth, barriers, and support for artivists.

I was jamming with my two-year old daughter Naïma, which was a jam of its own. Exhausting and full, it was overwhelming at times. And yet everywhere I turned, there was support for us. As a parent who is seeking to cultivate learning communities outside the formal school system, it was important for me to share this learning space with Naïma. And we danced…

Photo credit Jayeesha Dutta
Rehana and Naima.  Photo credit Jayeesha Dutta

Thank you to SWB and YES! for your generous support, making it possible for Naïma and I to attend the Jam! We are eternally grateful.

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