Creating Waves Newsletter ~ With Melissa Michaels and Friends
Creating Waves Newsletter ~ Navigating the Edge from Center

Issue No. 2 ~ Winter 2011

Melissa's Greeting
Navigating the Edge from Center

Surfers Sharing
Alumni Feature
Elder Honoring
Parent's Perspectives
Somasource® in The World
Alumni Updates
Our Edge
The Horizon

Quick Links
2011 Events
Wild Life Productions
Golden Bridge
About Melissa

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~ SomaSource© in The World ~

           In mid-July, 2004, just as our five week summer rites of passage camp was completing, a mandate rose up from deep inside ... Melissa, build this work on five continents. Of course I had no idea how that could be done, yet with the help of Grace and many devoted dancing souls, our work has indeed taken root in these five geographical regions, for a few ~ India, Africa, the Middle East, New Zealand and Australia, and the US.

Youth near and far are now incorporating and shape shifting what they have learned through their rites of passage journeys with us into their own projects. We are delighted to see the aspirations of so many young leaders taking form. And we continue to grow together, mentoring and supporting many of these initiatives in a variety of ways.

Below please find a few stories of how this body of work is positively infiltrating the world through the initiatives of some of our international youth leaders.

 

Balu and Raji in South India

Balu and Raji with their YouthBalusundaram (Balu) Ponnusamy and Rajaveni (Raji) Saminadame first came to Surfing The Creative® in 2004. They were fresh from the village, eager to grow and shocked by the different world they found in America. Since that time, they have become adept at dancing along class and cultural edges, consistently working closely with us on our leadership teams, bringing with them to the US many of their Tamil colleagues , along with welcoming many of our surfers in their home land of Tamil Nadu, South India. In their community, they are involved in three interwoven projects, the Mohanam Cultural Centre, Auroville Bamboo Research Centre and the Lively Community Endeavor, all of which centralize around their body-centered work with youth.

Mohanam Cultural CenterIn their own words ~

Mohanam Cultural Centre presents this harmony through arts and culture. The center trains village children in diverse indigenous and contemporary arts. Along with these activities, the centre also offers personality development and leadership training programs for village youth.

Mohanam firmly believes that young people play a significant role in addressing social issues and that a space should be provided for self - expression among them. We see art and cultural expression as a key medium for promoting the positive impact youth have on the world.

Stick DancersOur mission is to involve young people and provide them with a space where their energy and creativity can be channeled in a background that promotes the brotherhood and solidarity between them. At the same time, we strive to make them conscious of the problems facing humanity.

The group, through their arts and culture activities, not only tries to preserves the original culture but also raises awareness about social issues like HIV/AIDS, indigenous rights, sustainable development and agriculture, peace building, human rights, health, youth culture and empowerment and environment education.

Balu and Raji with DancersThrough the Bamboo Research Centre we are developing and training local youth in a new craft for the "post-plastic post-wood age" and at the same time providing a place for researchers and innovators to try out their ideas. We aim to produce and sell eco-friendly bamboo products, and generate income for Mohanam/Auroville activities.

Through the Lively Community Endeavor, we employ and thus empower local women, while at the same time providing an outlet for locally produced crafts. In due time our work will generate more profits to share with Mohanam.

BoysTogether they serve a variety of people. Balu is the director of the Mohanam Cultural Center They serve children from kindergarten through high school, their local and international interns, in addition to supporting their local community through providing a dynamised drinking water supply in the village, a project run by their local women's group in connection with the learning center. The Bamboo Research Centre actively serves local youth, dedicated bamboo crafts people, architects, and design students, local women through training/employment, and foreign exchange students. Lively Community Endeavor is directed by Raji, a hub for research into the sacred arts of Kolam.

GirlsRaji has become an inspired model for all. She respectfully pushes the boundaries of her culture's understanding about her place as a woman by honoring the full range of her creative capacities. Her social work extends to caring for elders and handicapped children in addition to helping foreign exchange students find solid ground on the rich red soils of her home land, India.

Balu is a cultural and social activist with special interest in empowering the youth. Balu believes in bringing peace and harmony to the world by involving the youth through travel exchange, knowledge and experience, building a youth network internationally and creating an awareness about local and global cultures.

Painted FacesPlease see the following links to learn more about their work.
http://mohanamsoundcr.weebly.com/team--artisan.html
www.mohanam.org
www.aurolively.org (http://www.aurolively.org/Our_Team.html)
www.aurovillebamboocentre.org
http://www.aurovilleradio.org/city-life/social-development/1964-balu-s-lively-life

Balu: balumohanam@gmail.com
Rajaveni: rajavenis@yahoo.co.in


Hannah and Xoli in Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa girlsTwo South African courageous leaders in our dance community, Hannah Loewenthal of Movetomakespace and Xoli Fuyani of Earthchild Project, have created a safe space for African adolescent young women to find support and discover new pathways for empowerment and for achieving their goals. Hannah, a gifted 5Rhythms™ teacher is actively involved in bringing dance to diverse communities on the continent of Africa. Xoli, one of Hannah's students, works closely with Hannah in this project. Xoli is deeply involved in the environmental and cultural renewal of urban life for youth.

Currently, Hannah and Xoli are working with 12 adolescent women ages 12-16 years from Khayelitsha, a township just outside of Cape Town. The girls come from very harsh and challenging backgrounds, including high unemployment rates, teenage pregnancy, and drug and alcohol abuse. These girls are often neglected, with few tools to help them achieve their goals and inspiration in life.

Hannah and Xoli believe each one of these young women is special with unique gifts and potential to succeed, no matter what circumstances she may be facing. This collaboration is offering young women opportunities to overcome their potentially devastating realities by offering them practical tools to transform themselves and enhance positive transformation through sharing circles, mentoring, dancing, and the creative arts. Some of the relevant topics they discuss are teen body image, goals, and visions.

Dream PillowsOne project that sweetly connects our youth with these young women is the making of dream pillows to honor the dreams awaking in each one of them. One of the girls, Sikelelwa who is 14 years old, initially said I want to become a security guard. This girl is one of the brightest and top students in her entire grade, but her dreams where limited because of what she has been exposed to. Through working with the girls and exposing them to a new world we have expanded their imagination and visions. We have introduced them to a world that they've never known before and their dreams and visions are much higher and brighter than ever before. They are now aiming to fulfill their highest potentials. Sikelelwa now want to become a doctor.

Month after month, the girls are loving and appreciating the group. In their own words:

I don't easily trust people but when I am with the group I feel I can trust everyone.
Nandi 13 years

Wow... I didn't know that dance can free you. I feel so free!
Noxolo 14 years

DancingIt bothers me that some of my classmates can not read, and I feel called to do something. I am making a decision today to start a reading club for my classmate.
Anelisiwe 14 years

(Anelisiwe is making her dream come true! Currently she's researching and planning how to start the club and early next year she will be trained by a professional organization on how to run a reading club.)

One of the main objectives for this group is to source a suitable mentor for each young woman in the group. Since mentoring and eldership seems to be lacking in our society, we will be looking for outside mentorship, those who would be willing to assist in guiding these adolescents with their life's passion and career paths as they make their way into adulthood.

To learn more about this project or to sign up for Hannah's classes, please contact
Hannah: umuthi01.hannah@gmail.com // Xoli: xoli@earthchildproject.org


Tiaki Latham - Coates in New Zealand

TiakiTiaki graced us with his presence during Surfing The Creative® 2009, providing us with indigenous voice and body rituals for working with diverse energies as they arose. He was raised in the traditional ways of Maori along with the modern ways found in his contemporary New Zealand community. A man who walks between the worlds, he carries with him discernment and curiosity. This attitude of wakefulness calibrates groups just by its presence. Clearly, Tiaki is following his path as a weaver of cultures and ways.

In his own words:
"He taura whiri kotahi mai an? te kopunga tai no i te pu au"
From the source to the mouth of the sea all things are joined together as one

It's been sixteen months since I left my tribe deep in the South Pacific with a one way ticket in hand. Travelling over a great ocean, then high into the Rockies, I discovered I belonged to another tribe - of poets, dancers and surfers. After freeing my body and finding some flow, I took to the river, canoeing with the tribes of the Yukon down their life source as a part of the Healing Journey. I left feeling inspired and bound to tell my people of their story. Home was always on my mind - the thud in my heart - when out of the blue, the ocean called. We threw ourselves in the deep end, three young sailing romantic's learning fast through storms and broken booms. From Canada to California I remembered the art of prayer. Dreams of Sailing home over the Pacific, were no match for love, returning by plane to my now fiancè and our home on an organic farm. But voyaging is in my blood, and one day with compost on my hands, I was greeted with the opportunity to sail in a fleet of traditional waka to Tahiti and beyond. Three days later I was onboard for a three month voyage, reviving an ancient art and rethreading the kinship ties of the Pacific peoples. As I look towards the distant horizon, I can see a reunion of family and friends at our wedding, a fleet of waka sailing to Hawaii, and my rite of passage to become the new instructor of our tribal outdoor adventure programme - Aoraki Bound.

Tiaki Dance Tiaki Prayer

Sending aroha to all the surfers out there ~
"Ma te tauihu o tou waka e ? te waiora, kia mahue atu k? mea whakahirahira i roto i te k?riporipo"
May the prow of your canoe cleave the waters of life and leave in its wake mighty deeds.

To learn more about Tiaki and Aoraki Bound, please email: tiaki8@gmail.com.


Rina and Yair Middle East

RinaYairRina Kedem and Yair Wahle have been serving as dedicated leaders in our camps for the past many years. Their unique location and background in the Middle East helped paved the path for more than 15 diverse youth from the Middle East who have participated in our camps - Arabs, Jews, and Christians. The same conflicts that plague the Middle East play out in our camps - human, religious, and political. Yet through the deep work of unwinding trauma at the level of the body, real and long lasting bridges have been built across divides that have been going on for generations. Rina and Yair are now dedicated to building a center where these bridge building experiments can be further explored in the reality of the Middle East. Below is an overview of their vision unfolding.

EnvisionEnvision a centre within Israel and Palestine that is jointly owned, feels safe, welcoming, and easily accessible without the need for troublesome travel permits, passing through checkpoints, or illegally entering restricted areas. Imagine an inspiring landscape with buildings reflecting Middle Eastern culture, built on principles of eco-design using natural local materials, closed system technologies, energy conservation, and adaptation to arid zones. Here international and regional leaders, individuals and groups gather to participate in diverse retreats, meetings, workshops and conferences whilst learning about the principles of sustainability - both personal and environmental.

The selected landscape in the majestic and ancient Judean hills, on the shores of the Dead Sea will provide quiet and rejuvenation, helping participants reach dialogue and action in an integrated and inspired way. Following local success, the centre becomes globally known as a model for holistic peace work, regional and international cooperation, ecological innovation, healthy living, and deep exchange of knowledge. It becomes a beacon of hope in a too often depressing time and place.

RinaThis Center is a vision of a group of young, passionate and experienced Palestinian and Israeli leaders who have networked through the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies program, Golden Bridge, and a range of regional and international organizations. They are now ready to take the first step, bringing it to life in the desert on the shores of the Dead Sea.

In winter 2011 the founders of the EcoME Centre - Rina Kedem, Yair Wahle, Ilana Mealem and Itamar chon - will make their vision a reality in a residential program designed to launch a permanent centre. The core group will use temporary shelters to host a two-month camp in the Northern Dead Sea during which weekend retreats and workshops will be held. Rina has developed a body-centered process based on much of our work during camps to support this initial phase of development of their dream.

To learn more about this initiative, please contact:
Rina Kedem - rinakedem81@gmail.com
Yair Wahle - yair_wahle@yahoo.com


Thutuka in Durban, South Africa

ThutukaWhen Thutuka first met Melissa in his township, he pulled her aside and with fire burning in his eyes, he said ... I must come to the United States to your camp. He was right. Thutuka has become one of our youth leaders both in the US and in his township. This bright being has stepped outside of the comfort zone of his community and has begun to build solid ground for himself and his people. He always wants to see the truth in action. He is that truth ... humbly in action.

Thutuka Mdalose is currently educating local people in Clermont, Durban, South Africa through the Elizabeth Mbali Garden Project. This is a food garden growing seedlings and fresh vegetables to contribute to the surrounding neighborhood. He was trained in the Inanda project that Imagine Durban supported last year. They are keen to pass on their horticultural skills by assisting local residents to cultivate plots in their yards and then selling them seedlings.

Thutuka GardensThutuka

Thutuka also has considerable talents as a dancer and is teaching dance classes to teenagers currently. During the rainy season, car tires are being used for planting and to hold down the plastics on the concrete slab that he hopes to eventually develop into a dance floor and build a roof over. The long term goal is for the dance classes and gardening projects to generate enough income so the garden is self sustainable.

To connect with Thutuka, please contact: Charlotte Mbali at mbalivc@gmail.com.


Emily in Boulder, USA

Emily came into our dance community hungry for healing, bursting with creative fire, and ripe to remember the truth of who she is ... Very well and whole. Her dedication to her well-being gave her the fortitude to embrace herself fully, through scary and disconnected inner places, awakening her wild and beautiful, soft and ferocious self.

Emily in BoulderBy re-membering herself so fully, Emily inspires many. She leads by example. Her willingness to be transparent about her struggles with anorexia and bulimia has been a gift to many other young people wrestling with eating disorders. They are learning that they are not alone in their pain and that yes, there is a way through.

Please take a few minutes to view Emily's blog where she generously shares about her process of recovery and empowerment through the creative process. http://thankyouclarity.wordpress.com/ On her site, you can find access to resources for those wrestling with disordered eating.

Not only has Emily written songs, painted ceaselessly, danced, and written scholarly papers on her path home to herself, but she has also produced a video describing her recent journey into direct connection with her own wholeness. Do link onto her YouTube also! http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=embedal#p/a/u/1/m_a8hO7HrCo

May Emily's gracious way of being her self inspire us all to do the same with our selves.

Below, please also find a few quotes from Emily's recently written paper ~

Eating in America

The problem isn't easy to define, but we know it exists. The world of eating disorders is both frightening and dangerous. It hits me personally because I have been there. I have experienced first hand the pain, suffering, and helpless feeling of struggling from disordered eating. I thought I was alone--but I wasn't. Statistics state that approximately 7 million girls and women struggle with eating disorders, 86% of them experiencing the onset of symptoms before the age of 20, and only 60% making a full recovery with treatment. The most startling of all statistics: anywhere from 10-25% of those suffering from an eating disorder will die from their disease. (Eating Disorder Statistics, 2010, par. 1) Anorexia has been named the deadliest mental illness to have.

I strongly believe it is a problem that needs to be taken seriously, and not seen as a "phase" or a "cry for attention"...

In my journey, I have found that a lack of human connection on a basic honest level is enough to turn a normally operating girl into a fearful, controlling, hidden soul.

Eating disorders are a language: they have a vocabulary and the message is one that the eating disordered person believes cannot be spoken in any other way. It is an attempt to explain or convey the unexplainable.

In many ways, my journey mirrors those of many young women. Struggling to fit in my going along with the flow, trying to please parents, boyfriends, the "thin ideal" of society, professors, friends--anyone but our own true spirits. That is why we stay in self-destructive relationships, bad jobs, an unfulfilling education, self-destructive habits or thought processes. While we remain in this dark room of our own souls, we remain trapped and fearful. Only by going into the dark can we grow. This is the scariest part of recovery: choosing to blindly step into the dark, with some kind of faith we once knew but had forgotten.

Art gives us a place to be messy. It gives us a place to release without judgment.

So this became true for myself and I began my process, in any way I could, to use creativity to help uncover my true thoughts, feeling, my true voice that had been masked and spoken over by the voice of my eating disorder, which could sound like many things. It could sound very indifferent, most of the time. Saying "I'm fine," when really I was upset--it could sound like an absence of dreams, denying the need for love or intimacy, denying any form of hunger.

When I learned the dance was a safe place to show up and release any feelings I had learned to associate with being "bad"or "wrong" such as anger, fear, frustration, disgust, or hopelessness, I felt as though I had found joy again. Only by releasing these feelings through my body did I feel in every ounce of my body, true joy once again. It was not easy for me to ask for hugs, to ask for a massage, to ask to dance with someone--but as time persisted, it became easier and easier when I came to the realization that this was true freedom.

I stand by all forms of expressive arts firmly, and with great respect, for it truly has laid the brick for my path to feeling whole and speaking again. When we find freedom, when we find another way to say the things we used to say with our disordered eating, we can begin to live life again, and be present to ourselves, be present to the moment which truly offers us more than we can ever know.

Now, when I spend those thirty seconds in front of the mirror to brush my teeth, perhaps put on the occasional swoop of makeup, I see a warrior. I see an artist. I see a woman. I see courage, I see commitment, and I see life. This is the biggest advancement: I see life in my eyes again. And I know my friends and family see it too. For me, that is enough. To know I am alive again.

To view many more aspects of Emily’s creative life, please see: http://www.thankyouclarity.wordpress.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In closing to this section, please note that most of these initiatives are not for profit projects eager for support from the world. If you have expertise, skills, or access to funding and find yourself drawn to one or more of these beautiful people and projects, please extend your hand. You can contact them directly and/or Golden Bridge, our not for profit organization, can work with you to build a connection in action. Thank you.

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