La Escuela de Cariño, Corporealidad y Artes Sutiles /
The School of Tenderness, Embodied Kinetics, & Alchemical Arts
Jan. 2020 - ONGOING
PHASE 1| Infrared Infrastructure
PHASE 2 | Proliferation & Cross-Pollination
PHASE 3|Global Heart-Centered Partnerships & Environmental Regenerative Paradigms
PHASE 4 | Mycelial & Rhizomatic Growth
PHASE 5-8 | Sea Urchin Realness, Bringing Back the Ice, Mythological, Celestial, & Archetypal Activations
Slow The F*** Down.
Trim, Prune, Rest...Rinse & Repeat.
Listen to the Stillness.
Dare to Rupture, Dare to Evolve.
Invite & Flirt w/ Discomfort. Invite the Unknown.
Ask the Hardest Questions. Be Consciously Nuanced.
Allow Yourself to Get Messy. Say What Needs to Be Said.
Expect the Unexpected.
Making the Impossible Possible through Bending Time.
NEVER Business as Usual.
COME TESSELATE WITH US!
If you're interested in donating to The School of Tenderness, our vision, and our operational capacity, you can do so here.
If you'd like to become a thought partner or advisor to our efforts, please write to Estrellx directly at email@example.com.
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WHAT IS THE SCHOOL OF TENDERNESS?
The School of Tenderness / La Escuela is a choreographic venture that takes the form of a multi-dimensional space with an initial hub in the U.S./Turtle Island and abroad, in geographies that have yet to be identified. The School of Tenderness zooms in on the intersection of healing, ecology and environmental justice, ritual, choreographic excavation, socially engaged praxis, and Black, Indigenous, Queer, and Trans Sovereignty. Infrastructurally, The School of Tenderness supports a web of annual programming that offers healing-based artist residencies, retreats, performance convergences, international cross-pollination exchanges, 1:1 mentorships, grief rituals, somatic trainings, play parties, giving circle experiments, amongst other programming that is under development.
Additionally, La Escuela is an architectural and shape-shifting space that will manifest in the form of a queer club, healing center, ritualistic performance venue, innovation incubator, and farm. This plasticity seeks to reflect and honor the ways our identities as BIQTPOC folks is constantly in flux, adjusting, adapting, and manifesting more Divinely Feminine and Masculine futures. The vision seeks be able to physically adapt to the needs of the respective visiting residents and will partner with local and global initiatives doing similar work as a way to develop a wider constellation of care between and amongst BIQTPOC communities and stakeholders.
La Escuela seeks to especially welcome, center, and support BIQTPOC survivors of all kinds and to become a space where artists, activists, herbalists, healers, intuitives and other core partners/allies can come together to co-create alternative and hybrid realities, paradigms, and technologies that serve to amplify our collective liberation, alone and together. Integrating global perspectives with local Turtle Island based voices will ensure that La Escuela remains culturally competent and relevant, is responding to global and local needs, and is actively in solidarity with other spaces through various kinds of exchanges and long-term partnerships. La Escuela will be in a constant state of embodying the value of being in right relation beginning with the self and extending outward from there.
La Escuela seeks to gather our energies and from there we take the time to tune into what wants to emerge between us. La Escuela invites us to rest, integrate ritual into our daily practices, instigate earth-centered projects, commune with ancestrxs, heal and integrate inherited and intergenerational trauma, and inhabit our full selves through sharing and exchanging embodied practices and methodologies.
La Escuela recognizes and honors the unseen as a primary collaborator and frames choreographic systems as portals for reclaiming, re-membering, and accessing ancestral wisdom that colonialism has tried to erase. La Escuela manifests social change by persisting on embodying pleasure, joy, generosity, vulnerability, intuition, cross-pollination, and forgiveness. We actively erode the forces of shame, guilt, and fear through our programming centers and slowing down is embedded in all that we do.
La Escuela seeks to honor the power of subtle gestures and pairs this overlooked energetic constituency with more visible and pragmatic approaches to develop unique pathways for healing and transformation at all levels, especially the underground layers of our root systems. By turning compassionately towards attending to our individual and collective root systems, we will conjure a new paradigm that centers accountability, equity, reciprocity, generative dissonance, play, and social change on both micro and macro levels; the work begins at the personal / autonomous level, however, and from this place of self-accountability becomes balanced with the power of interdependence.
OUR VISION & VALUES
La Escuela aims to be an internationally situated, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational space where resources and knowledge are exchanged with the intention of developing a long-term practice of being in right relation to all beings on Earth, ourselves, and the Earth. La Escuela seeks to eradicate all residues of transactional, patriarchal, and capitalistic energies that infiltrate our interpersonal relationships and relationship to Spirit by acknowledging the ways coloniality permeates all of our relationships. La Escuela claims that our beings are enough, claims abundance as our birthright, develops alternative economic models, and invests in experimentation with practices rooted in creative collaboration, being, and resting.
We will celebrate, mourn, organize, dream, and dismantle the inherited conditioning and external oppressive patterns stemming from intergenerational trauma that for so long have kept us feeling less than and not worthy. We will listen to our bodies speak.
The School of Tenderness is guided by a simple question: Is it possible for all of us to have our needs met and if so, what are the conditions needed to make this happen? The vision will closely address the issues of child abuse, mental health, intergenerational trauma, death and dying, climate crisis, amongst others. As its name suggests, La Escuela is a school for the embodied practice of social change. Taking cues from ecological processes, indigenous wisdoms, and healing/spiritual justice efforts, La Escuela centers the body as both the ground and the fruit of cultural, social, political, and economic interconnectedness.
This project implements the beehive as its guiding organizational model. Activity will radiate from a central U.S. Hive, which will act as a hub and template for Hives scattered across international locations. Each Hive will draw its strength from local BIQTPOC communities and audiences. Annual encuentrxs will call together and converge cohorts of artists, activists, healers, herbalists, creative thinkers, and other stakeholders at several national and international hubs to generate embodied social-change efforts across spaces, modalities, and disciplines.
These efforts will assume a number of forms and tones: La Escuela’s Queericulum, Mercado Central, La Colmena Media Channels, and more. All activity -- queer clubbing, choreographic innovation + incubation, healing, performance, and farming -- center the voices, visions, and efforts of BIQTPOC folks and engages with embodiment, energetic healing work, cyclical deep listening, and cosmic strategic planning. La Escuela will promote BIQTPOC healing, survival, and resilience by cultivating tools and methods for self-empowerment, reconciliation with one’s inner child, and ending cycles of harm.
THE HEART INSIDE OF THE WHY
As a survivor of abuse and sexual assault, my life and work are testament to the importance of centering intimate networks and personal sovereignty in the pursuit of racial justice. This approach brings names and faces to ongoing struggles against systemic inequities. For example, transformative justice organization Generation Five estimates that, within the U.S., 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18; they also note that this abuse most often happens in intimate circles, among family or community groups. This violence profoundly shapes the life chances of perpetrators and survivors alike. As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) confirms, the effects of intimate violence increases the chance of substance abuse, mental health crises, physical injury, and death -- all of which impact social relations beyond the domestic sphere. Further, child abuse and neglect occurences are five times higher in families that occupy a lower socioeconomic status. These staggering numbers, which have assumed epidemic proportions for decades, are only compounded in the wake of COVID-19. They also state the unavoidable fact that structural activity is inseparable from the individual’s inner landscape, and from the interpersonal patterns we inherit as children. As converging pandemics urge the United States to reckon with itself, our national hxstory, and the shortcomings of our local ecosystems, we have a tremendous response-ability to heal our relationships with self and others on a range of scales: international, environmental, social, and inter/personal. Nothing less than the future of the country, and the globe, is at stake.
Between institutional reform and grassroots organizing, most attempts to produce social change take an allopathic approach to healing individual and collective bodies. They target ailments in isolation, often neglecting the interlocking and interanimating processes -- the spiritual forces -- that embody injury and healing. Our movements will only be sustainable if we are creating hybrid strategies and methodologies that center intuition, alternative medicine, grief work, reparations, and ritual. To that end, La Escuela joins a body of work growing steadily at the intersection of art, activism, healing, and policy: this includes efforts by adrienne maree brown, Lama Rod Owens, Alexis Gumbs, Ethel’s Club, Activation Residency, Queer | ART, and many others. While these projects prioritize the importance of both ecological justice and personal transformation, La Escuela unites these divergent approaches by centering embodiment, spiritual, and emotional practice as sites of multi-scalar transformation. By attending to embodied patterns of oppression from a variety of perspectives, La Escuela creates space(s) to unlock dormant potential, integrate trauma, heal ancestral lineages, and allow personal visions to emerge.
EMERGENT ECOSYSTEMS & OFFERINGS
La Escuela takes inspiration from rhizomes (another naturally occurring structure), acting on the belief that seemingly distinct entities share a sprawling network of roots. La Escuela makes space for catalyzing “external” change by making space for “internal” processes: being heard, grieving and integrating loss, and cultivating the skills necessary to manifest our dreams. This healing work happens in tandem with social choreographic research that implements movement, somatic practices, ritual, prayer, and performance creation. These performance processes are where we hone intuition, rehearse behaviors, and plant seeds for new thought patterns. By encouraging subtle perceptual shifts within, this work gradually becomes the infrastructure for an entirely reconfigured social paradigm.
La Escuela extends and broadens an existing body of programming, which includes PLATAFORMA and Residencias Rhizomatica. PLATAFORMA is an annual performative encuentrx that draws on the curatorial wisdom of U.S.-based and international artists, activists, and healers. 2020’s virtual programming spanned two-weeks with 21 events and over 100+ attendees. Residencia Rhizomatica #1: Inhabiting Paradox is the pilot version of a healing-based artist residency taking place this year in Philadelphia with a cohort of 5-9 BIQTPOC artists. Other La Escuela branches under development include Coast2Coast, Animate-Intimate Retreats, Encuentrx 33, The Rage Room, Bottoms Up Platicas, New Moon Workshops, and more. These containers expand the project’s area of exploration, bringing core issues and topics like intimacy, the erotic, border-crossings, and divination into the focus of conversation. They are also designed to reflect and develop action plans around members’ personal, cultural, and geographic contexts and needs more immediately. Zooming in and out of local, regional, national, and international efforts will support La Escuela with strengthening its rhizomatic network by investing time, energy, and resources into these efforts.
CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES
Even as La Escuela attempts to act across spiritual, socio-political, geographic, and communal borders, we recognize that these elements still pose real challenges to the work. The project requires us to address these facts soberly, attempting to heal their effects by responding to and moving with them rather than ignoring or attacking them. Because racism, climate change, abuse, anti-Blackness, homophobia, and transphobia are global phenomena that manifest through various scales, La Escuela seeks to enrich and draw on transformational activity happening across global contexts. Most of the project’s challenges, then, concern the logistics of establishing and sustaining activity among La Escuela’s Central Hive -- which will be based in the U.S. -- and additional Hives in other geographic centers.
Some of these challenges are described below:
Part of La Escuela’s research involves learning from environmental structures, like the hive and the rhizome, in order to (re)organize institutional activity (including funding, informational flow, and outreach efforts). The project seeks to break from the traditional 501(c)3 model, which often subjects creative work to repressive logics of bureaucratic control, but this shift can only happen if we understand how to resource our activities within and between social, cultural, and economic contexts. How can we center horizontal leadership and radical accountability amid complex activity? Here again, I take seriously the lessons offered by beehives, where every participant’s activity proves indispensable even with the reality of hierarchy in tow. The goal is to have every member invested and feeling that they have a strong stake in the unfolding vision to keep the entire ecosystem healthy, mutable, and regenerative. To keep this activity alive, ongoing inquiry into the organization of non-human life systems will be key.
While La Escuela’s relational structures are important, brick-and-mortar structures are essential to our work’s flourishing. As the project aims to facilitate the needs of a range of occupants, it requires sites that are simultaneously safe, widely accessible, and modular. Each Hive must prioritize ecologically sustainable technologies including solar/wind power, gray water systems, Indigenous partnerships, ADA access, ethically sourced building materials, and more. As the project grows, I seek ongoing partnerships with forward-thinking designers, architects, and planners. La Escuela’s sites, like its programming, must cooperate with and withstand the impacts of rapidly mounting climate catastrophe.
La Escuela needs a strong marketing/fundraising team to expand and solidify the vast range of fiscal and non-fiscal resources it needs to thrive, in addition to expanding my current supporter network. While my work already enjoys a healthy audience and donor base, I aim for La Escuela to become financially in(ter)dependent. Operation between and among Hives will function as a network committed to regenerative, self-reliable, holistic, earth-centered, BIQTPOC realness. I am now working with a development team member and personal financial coach to support me with getting my budgets together. I aim to create bi-annual retreats where my team is invited to develop short- and long-term financing and programming development strategies.
La Escuela is committed to making its work widely accessible, even beyond its physical Hives. Our existing work has enjoyed considerable reach: last year, La Escuela served 150-200+ BIQTPOC folks via programming. By the end of 2021, La Escuela will serve 250 - 500+ BIQTPOC folks via all of our programming channels. I project reaching between 1,000 and 5,500 folks by the end of the following year. The goal here is to balance expanding influence with the demands of radical intimacy, care, and attention. I aim to partner with influencers and celebrities who support my vision and will directly expand my audience base. Lastly, I will train a core roster of instructors to ensure more 1:1 services can be provided across La Escuela’s timeline.
Existing models for addressing these questions have produced some results, but they can only go so far if they are not thoroughly decolonized. Each challenge contains within it an antidote and portal for transformation and I aim to find solutions for each by placing embodiment and the voices of BIQTPOC artists and intuitives at the center. The project aims to work with everything that we already have and redesign from this place of abundance. Here, the presence of vultures inspire me: I am convinced that everything is useful and everyone has something to offer -- nothing will go to waste.