Gaia Passages invokes what is ancient and natural yet it feels revolutionary during these times

– Artemis Village Mother Participant

Gaia Passages’ Title Nine Pitch

Kathren Murrell Stevenson

Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment to honor the Ohlone people, whose land we gather upon today. In the tradition of my Celtic Ancestors, I’d like to invite in the East, the element of air, and the courage of the dandelion. I’d like to welcome the South, element of fire, and the presence of CA poppy. I’d like to call in the wisdom of the West, the element of water and Artemis- Sage. I’d like to welcome in the North, element of earth, and the strength of Oak. And in the center, all of our hearts and wild relations, and especially the support of Redwood. 

Remember

Remember when you were just starting middle school? When your body was changing and you were moving to a new school, and life felt really unpredictable? Maybe things weren’t stable at home; maybe the adults in your life weren’t able to be around as much as you would have liked. Maybe it was difficult to find positive role models and mentors who looked like you. Maybe people in your family or community didn’t understand your relationship with your gender or sexuality.

Salmon

In today’s world, our youth are swimming like salmon upstream, with all the strength they can muster, swimming against the currents of social and environmental injustice, to find their way home- in their bodies and in their communities- so that they can realize their belonging in our world, exercise their voices, and engage their leadership in support of the change they so desperately want and need to secure their own futures, and the future of our planet.

Grace and Grit

How do they do it? How do youth develop the muscles they need to grow in grace and grit? At Gaia Passages, we know that our youth grow themselves best when they have the opportunity to root themselves in their bodies, in their communities, and in deep connection and partnership with nature.

What we Offer

That’s why we’ve developed programs that help girls and gender expansive youth grow. We offer culturally relevant nature-based programs for youth starting in 2nd grade and carrying them through their teenage years. Through school year and summer programs, we guide these youth in developing a positive relationship with their bodies; we surround them with a group of supportive peers, mentors, and elders. We witness, honor and celebrate their rites of passage in community. 

We have Wildflower programs for the youngest, and then in middle school our program participants enter into a three year Rites of Passage program, deepening their roots, harvesting the fruits of their experience, and sharing their seeds back with their communities.

What I’m most excited about right now is a new Rites of Passage program that we’ve launched this year in Richmond, CA. Developed by Gaian Martha Sobrepena in collaboration with Yes! Nature-to-Neighborhoods,  this is a full scholarship program that has been developed for girl-identified and gender expansive youth of the Global Majority living in Richmond. 

We know that communities of color are not only being disproportionately impacted by social and environmental injustice, but the wild places in their backyards are sometimes inaccessible due to transportation barriers. That’s why offering this program to underserved communities and providing full scholarship levels is so important to us. We are also piloting a new program structure that provides opportunities for deeper levels of immersion.

As with all of our ROP programs, year 1 (Roots) focuses on collective rites of passage. During this year, participants form bonds with themselves, each other, and the land where they gather. Year two (Fruits) focuses on individual rites of passage. During this year, participants build skills, and share their voices, stories, and talents with one another. Year 3 (Seeds) focuses on integration; This is the year when they bring the seeds of their learning back into their communities as leaders.

 Over the course of this rite of passage program, participants will grow in 

  • Confidence
  • Physical Strength and Endurance;
  • Collaborative leadership skills
  • Deep connection to nature and community, including greater access to the wild places in and around where they live.

We are currently in year 1 with this group. With your support, we will have the funding we need to continue this life-transforming program. Your contribution of $5,000 will fund 50% of the scholarship funds we need for the second year of our Richmond Roots Rite of Passage program. 

Your contribution will shape the leaders of tomorrow who are committed to working together to create a more equitable, just, and resilient world. 

Close your eyes. In this moment, imagine yourself strong like a mountain; warm like fire; and flowing like water. Hear the sound of the birds singing in the background. Feel the wind against your cheek. Notice how you feel in your body.

“Each time I picked up my daughter from her meeting, I realized I had to re-calibrate her maturity. She greeted me with a raw exuberance and would radiate the positivity that she absorbed that afternoon. And she was just a little bit older each time — and was pleased with herself about it. Watching a girl grow is truly awesome and Gaia helped her grow with grace and grit.” – Rite of Passage Caregiver

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