steal a way

Steal a Way is a ritual learning-journey curated by Jiordi Rosales of the Emergence Network and brontë velez of Lead to Life, bringing together an intimate group of fellows – all working at various intersections of sanctuary-making, fugitivity, art, theology, and sabbath –  to be in collective prophetic practice across geographies, over the course of 6 months. 

The intent of the fellowship is to transition the timescale by which this group of activists and sanctuary-makers orient to their work, to provoke ways of attuning themselves to forms of reflection and action that are grounded in and emerging from spiritual practice and restful creativity. Most of all, we seek to transition and expand how we know to collaborate together. As we watch covid reflect the world’s shadows back to itself, and subsequently all the deeper into digital dependency, we must ask: What about the next catastrophe, when the grid goes down? How will we communicate then, when technology fails us? What of our own ancestral technologies cannot be taken away, but live within us; those too quiet to be noticed, too decentralized to be tracked? 

Informed by the lineage of the black fugitive invocation, “steal away”, we call upon the wisdom of encoded songlines rooted in negro spirituals that supported enslaved black folks to share subversive liberation paths toward freedom with one another. In a time of hypervisibility and hypersurveillance, we are curious about how studying and living maroonage and fugitivity in a translocal community of practice can weave an embodied research network of radical hospitality, regeneration and refuge across the country. Casting the homophonic spell, STEAL a WAY we intend to make a way out of no way; to reveal a path that invites us to retreat to a time outside of time; to begin practicing together and cultivating within ourselves the capacity to meet and protect one another as rupture and collapse continue to reshape the world. 

Some of the questions we’re asking through this practice:

  • In what ways must a creative response to systems collapse, require other forms of pedagogy, gathering, organizing, and communicating with one another altogether? 
  • What can grow here in the midst of such uncertainty? 
  • How can we hybridize contemporary and ancient technologies in order to better respond to systems collapse?
  • How will the work stay protected and hidden? How will it generate and support other forms of working together beyond reliance on digital, centralized, hyper-visible platforms?
  • How can we go deeper into our capacity to be in practice/work with one another through our bodies, through divination, through forms that resource us to host the complexity, imagination and prophecy required for the times ahead of us? 
  • How can we grieve the inability for some elements of our activism, care and work to adapt to these times and release those visions into something wider being called from us?

The curatorial team for Steal A Way is composed of:

brontë’s (they/them) work and rest is guided by the call that black wellness is the antithesis to state violence (Mark Anthony Johnson). as a black-latinx transdisciplinary artist, designer, trickster, and wakeworker, their eco-social art praxis lives at the intersections of black feminist placemaking & prophetic community traditions, environmental justice, and death doulaship. they embody this commitment of attending to black health/imagination, commemorative justice and hospicing entanglements with systems of oppression through serving as creative director for Lead to Life design collective (leadtolife.org), educator for ancestral arts skills and nature-connection school Weaving Earth (weavingearth.org), and quotidian black queer lifemaking ever-committed to humor & liberation, ever-marked by grief at the distance made between us and all of life.

Jiordi (hebrew variation of the river jordan, meaning to descend or flow down) encounters himself most deeply in places of confluence and immersive study – attentive to the forms of learning that most permit joy, humor, mystery, and contradiction. Traced both by xicano lineage, by way of East L.A. to the Sonoran desert in Northern Mexico, and romani/jewish lineages, Jiordi is most granted breath by inquires into sonic imagination – enraptured since childhood by the ways that sound is created, how it travels, and the variance of forms through which it is perceived and given meaning. These questions led to Jiordi’s apprenticeship as a stringed-instrument maker beginning when he was 14 years old, and specializing in arch-top guitars throughout early adulthood – he now seeks to weave together the relationships between sound and ecology, music and sanctuary, animal-tracking, jewish liberation theology, and memory. Jiordi’s current season of work is in discipleship to that which evades the archive. He is a curator for The Emergence Network, and holds an M.A. in Ecology & Spirituality from the University of Wales. He currently devotes much of his time to running a land-base in Northern California, where he and and his kindred are at work creating a posthuman research center for sonic-ecology.

Bayo Akomolafe (Ph.D.) is Chief Curator and Executive Director of The Emergence Network. Author, lecturer, speaker, father, and rogue planet saved by the gravitational pull of his wife Ej, Bayo hopes to inspire a diffractive network of sharing within an ethos of new responsivity “a slowing down, an ethics of entanglement, an activism of inquiry, a politics of surprise. Born into a Yoruba family, Bayo graduated summa cum laude in psychology in 2006 at Covenant University (Nigeria), and then was invited to take up a lecturing position. Largely nurtured and trained in a world that increasingly fell short of his deepest desires for justice, Bayo conducted doctoral research into Yoruba indigenous healing systems as part of his inner struggle to regain a sense of rootedness to his community. He has been speaking about his experiences around the world since those moments back in 2011. Bayo understands he is on a shared decolonial journey with his family to live a small, intense life. He often refuses to share pictures of himself that do not include his wife, Ej, who is (everyone can assure you) the more interesting part of their entanglement. He is an ecstatic (and often exhausted, but grateful) father to Alethea Aanya and Kyah Jayden.

Jiordi Rosales
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