In September, we announced an expansion of our initial offering, 100 Nights of Rest. In partnership with Rachel Cargle, The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and Miir we’re giving away A Year of Rest—365 nights in total—to those fighting for change. We’ll be sharing our recipients’ stories each week in the hopes of amplifying their voices and inspiring meaningful action in our community and beyond.
Here are this week’s recipients of rest as described by those who nominated them:
Anastacia-Renee is a multi-genre writer, educator, activist, interdisciplinary artist, and podcast-co host who is transforming the literary and artistic landscape of Seattle. She served as Seattle Civic Poet from 2017-2019, is the author of five books of poetry, and has won many prestigious awards and fellowships. Her creative work is searing, lyrical, and brilliant. In all her doings, she is clear and consistent in her demands for racial justice. She generously uplifts other writers, artists, and activists, especially writers of color. Among the workshops she regularly teaches, one is designed for writers who seek to be more effective allies on the page and in real life—work that I know must be personally and professionally exhausting. She is also a mother and Black woman who is working and parenting during a pandemic and revolution. Given all her roles, I imagine she is tired. Quite simply, she would be deserving of a Getaway for no other reason than she exists and therefore is deserving of the rest she needs to thrive. But also, I’m certain that she represents the very best qualities that this opportunity intends to honor and celebrate.
For over three years, Anthony has spearheaded the efforts to open the first public school in the state of Rhode Island that would focus specifically on the educational needs of young men of color. Although facing challenges, Anthony has continued his mission with passion and conviction, ultimately garnering the support of other fierce Black educators and advocates in Rhode Island. His tenacity and unwillingness to concede in the face of many of these challenges has made YouthBuild Preparatory Academy a reality. Anthony has been able to bring the inequalities of our educational system and the dire effects it has on young men of color to the forefront in our community. While this has proven to be an uncomfortable topic for many, he has stood firm in his determination to provide our children with the education they deserve. While serving as the CEO of the organization that will implement the Academy, Anthony has had to make several sacrifices to continue to support this work. Many times, he has sacrificed his own salary to ensure that his staff continued to receive their paychecks. He has also used his own money and resources to procure supplies and materials needed to allow the organization to continue the work. He has worked day and night on many occasions, and often has to be reminded to take time for himself!
In her career Ebony is leading her community towards true partnerships developing disaster preparation and resiliency. She is engaging the whole community, bringing diverse groups to conversations they have not been part of in the past. Every semester Ebony seeks out university interns from diverse backgrounds to provide them leadership development opportunities. As a passion project Ebony founded Lush Girls Daycamp to provide enrichment to young women of color in her hometown.
Evan Thornburg is my absolutely beautiful, incredible, radically honest and change-making partner/girlfriend. Evan is a Black, queer woman and a Philadelphia native, who’s worked in several capacities contributing to better the lives of Philly marginalized communities. She’s done years of training for organizations on diversity and intersectionality, worked in her prior position as a director for the city of Philly on diversity programming as well as serving as deputy director for the Office of LGBT affairs, and currently continues to serve the city as a health equity specialist for the Philadelphia Dept. of Health. She volunteers her time providing support for LGTBQI+ elders in the city, and utilized her brilliant artistic talents to design diverse, representative logos for the city’s messaging to encourage mask-wearing during COVID-19. She places care, thought, and empathy in everything she does for those in and outside of her circle. She strongly deserves a night of rest in a beautiful, green space, because nature brings her peace, and her life has experienced so much turbulence for two years now.
Jordynn is a Black LGBTQ graphic designer in Portland OR. She created a beautiful memorial for over 200 Black men and women killed by police officers. These hand drawn illustrated names are molded together to spell “‘DON’T SHOOT.’ The artwork is featured on a bus stop bench here in PDX. A powerful statement.
Kai Ayo Z. Shatteen
Kai Ayo is a Black Queer Reproductive Justice Advocate dedicated to ending the injustice BIPOC individuals face when giving birth in the healthcare system. They work hard to center and uplift their communities in their work. About 15 years ago, I worked with them when they led a regional team of AmeriCorps interns. I was an intern and was always in awe of how supportive and kind they were and amazed at the advocacy work they did for LGBTQIAA folx while working there. Kai Ayo is more than deserving of some R&R.
Karen Ruiz Leon
Karen has been a key advocate for the most underrepresented and at-risk communities in the Berkshires for years. Her commitment to supporting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color through her day job at Berkshire Community College, and through all of her external work on committees, task forces, and grassroots organizing is inspiring. She has been a key player in organizing our Northern Berkshire Interracial advocacy efforts and has continually been someone that white folks like myself can learn from. She is awe-inspiring, and commits so much of herself to the care and raising up of others. She needs some rest.
Leslie takes persistent and consistent action to build up, resource, and encourage Black and Brown individuals and families. She doesn’t wait for policies to change—she looks to work within the systems to move wealth and resources to address the racial wealth gap. Leslie runs a non profit called Traction that supports (primarily) young Black adults in transition to have stable housing and support systems as they study, work or determine next steps in their lives. Her most recent project is The Black Block in Pawtucket, RI. Working in conjunction with Black Lives Matter representatives and local entrepreneurs, she’s building a structure to make a difference for Black people in this region. Leslie has coordinated Black investment to buy up a hub of properties in the downtown, sort of a Black version of Chinatown or Little Italy. This hub would give the northeast an opportunity to see a fuller picture of Black people as they share their rich cultural heritage and unique creativity, the result of surviving centuries of oppression. The hope is that it will be a model for more hubs across the country. Leslie lives off of very little and any extra she has she directs to uplift and support Black families and communities. I can’t think of anyone I am more excited to nominate than Leslie.
Lormarev is a phenomenal Black artist and educator. She works multiple (sometimes up to four or five) jobs at once because she is passionate about theatre and staying in art as long as possible. She teaches choreography for public and charter schools, she teaches theatre classes at the college level, and she also writes and directs plays. The work alone would be sufficient for a nomination, but, not only is she physically exhausted, but I know that her spirit is also exhausted. The spaces that she works in are spaces where she has to fight every day for her existence. Theatre is her passion and her art and she works tirelessly to create space for herself but also for the BIOPIC women who will come after her. This type of work does not occur without deep cuts to her emotional health. I know that she tries her best to carve out time for her own healing when possible.
I met Luz years ago in graduate school. Early on, I knew Luz had a great understanding of the inequities facing those in the BIPOC community, and a fearless passion for agitation (a critical piece of liberation work). As the years progressed I have been able to witness the critical work Luz has done on college campuses from NY to Maryland, advocating for and empowering students, educating faculty/administration, and creating/instituting policies that center the most marginalized voices. In short, Luz has dedicated her life to anti-racism and the centering of the most marginalized within the BIPOC community, while also working directly to challenge anti-Blackness within the Latinx community. Last year Luz began on the long journey to obtaining her doctorate in Education at the University of Connecticut, while working full-time as an Assistant Dean of Students. Within both of these roles Luz continues to advocate for BIPOC students, while exercising agitation as a scholar activist. Being a Queer womyn of color is hard. But, balancing a full-time career, being a doctoral student, while surviving a once in a life-time pandemic, and engaging directly in a once in a life-time uprising adds a level of physical, emotional, and mental stress that one can’t ignore. I believe Luz deserves a Getaway because of the immense amount of work that she is doing within communities of color to combat anti-Blackness. As a lover of nature who finds connection and healing through hiking and camping, I think this would be a great opportunity for Luz to center her healing as she continues the fight for equity and liberation.
Mariah has been on the frontlines of the protests in Portland as a photographer. She tells the story of the revolution through her eyes as a Black resident and professional photographer. Her work has been overlooked by local and national media in favor of white men. She deserves to be recognized for the important work that she is doing and she could use some rest!
Dr. Rachel is a tireless (and I mean TIRELESS) organizer working around the clock to bring about health equity through the cannabis plant—as medicine, as a personal care good, as nutrition, as an industrial material, etc. She is working to restore the communities most harmed by cannabis prohibition, which are the same communities most harmed by historical and continued social, cultural, and political discrimination in general, the same communities disproportionately harmed by COVID, and the same communities disproportionately harmed by police and white supremacist violence. She does this work by collaborating with lawmakers and regulators, investors, cannabis industry stakeholders, her physician colleagues and other healthcare professionals, and patients and consumers. She serves on at least a half dozen commissions, committees, and boards, in addition to grounding her own organizations to forward this work. I’m tired for her! But she does it all because she believes we can make the world better for BIPOC if we work together strategically, boldly, and compassionately.
Samah Sisay is a human rights attorney who has provided free legal representation to Black immigrants facing deportation and won asylum for folks escaping gender based violence. Additionally, she has been doing crucial abolition organizing work in NYC via her lead on Survived and Punished initiatives fighting for the mass release of incarcerated survivors of domestic and sexual violence, such as Tracy McCarter. During the recent uprisings, Samah served as a legal observer during the protests and co-leads the Black Legal Observer Collective (BLOC) mutual aid efforts which has been providing legal and financial assistance to arrested protestors. For years Samah has been fighting for freedom of oppressed folks across the globe from DC to Gaza. She deserves rest, which itself is a form of resistance.
Stacey Whitney is an absolute superwoman. She is the founder and owner of Altadena Farmers’ Market, a master gardener, and a community activist. She’s also a personal chef, and a mother to a beautiful, strong Black young man, Kobie. She is committed to spreading good food and healthy produce into low-income areas, and is often seen sharing her expertise at community gardens. As part of her mission with the farmers market, she offers low-income/elderly people produce boxes as well as accepting and matching EBT.
Need your own escape into nature? Book your Getaway today.