Author: Mary Hall-Williams
For the last two years we have witnessed exacerbated inequality and violence shift in and out of focus on the center stage of American consciousness. For many of us this resulted in a renewed willingness to examine our roles and commitments to each other across differences and to ask ourselves the big questions of the moment.
What is the liberated future that we can imagine for ourselves and the most marginalized in our communities? Where do we fit on the journey toward collective liberation? And further, what are we willing to give to get there?
As we continue to plant seeds for a liberated future, new addition to our team, mental health specialist, and gracious seed sprinkler Shaena Spoor shares her thoughts on how she is calling the Y-WE community into greater growth and imagination through the implementation of wellness events, focusing on mental health and relationships, boundaries, and radical imagination. The first of these events will take place on March 12, 2022 and will center explorations of community care and safety.
Q: Okay Shaena, tell us who you are?
A: I’m really passionate about healthy relationship work and boundaries. Familial and platonic, not just romantic. This really falls under the umbrella of creating community safety and being willing to invest in each other. I believe in collective liberation; that everyone deserves to feel safe in their bodies. I come from a heavy trauma focus, mostly supporting survivors and I’ve really worked to broach care with self-advocacy and empowerment.
Q: What are you bringing to the Y-WE community as our new wellness specialist, but also with these upcoming wellness events? What inspires you?
A: In my bio, I say something about the balance of being both trauma-informed and healing centered which, to me, highlights the importance of seeing the intersections of violence that shape our experience, but also having a deep understanding that people are not defined by the worst thing that’s happened to them. Before coming to Y-WE, my main work was centered around supporting survivors of intimate violence; that experience has really formed my approach and lens. So, connecting this to the upcoming wellness event, I’m really into explorations of safety. I have learned that the community you’re a part of makes a huge difference. A community that holds tenderly while centering wholeness and healing from a strength based perspective makes all the difference. Shifting beyond struggle is really important both individually and collectively.
Q: What are you most excited about with the upcoming March 12 Wellness Event?
A: This upcoming event will center care by creating space for participants to reimagine community safety. I think I’m asking how we create greater spaciousness for the mind and heart. How do we create that womb space and claim possibility? Can we imagine a world in which everyone feels safe? What would it look like to be safe in our bodies and safe in community? I’m excited to explore together and see what emerges.
Q: I’m not going to lie, when I hear you ask these questions about safety I have a hard time imagining a safety that is truly for everyone. Can you say more about that?
A: That’s fair. I think that’s kind of the inspiration of this day – making intentional time to imagine about a reality that we have never really seen before. I also think what I’m speaking to is narratives. Right now, under American capitalism, we tend to operate under a scarcity mindset. This notion that there isn’t enough for everyone, or that if you want something you have to fight for it. That if there’s someone that is deserving it can’t be us. Scarcity mindset has rigid boundaries and in alot of ways society tells us that if we arent CIS, Male, White, then no. No, we don’t get to have an abundant life. When we internalize this narrative it creates a lot of suffering and really shifts the ways we are able to show up for each other. How can I support my neighbor if their abundance is taking away from my possibility? Scarcity shifts the ways we think and relate to one another. It’s a total barrier to moving toward a future we can feel hopeful about.
Q: Okay then, what’s the opposing narrative? What’s possible if we can shift out of that mindset?
A: What I’m hoping to bring forward is a narrative of abundance. Believing there’s more than enough for everyone. Spaciousness. A life that feels free. Reciprocity. Abundance enables us to share equitably, to slow down and be intentional because we have time. It’s trusting ourselves and being trustworthy for others. A world where we can be wholly invested in each other like our own lives depend on it because they do.
Q: When you talk about safety and community care as central to wellness, how is that different from our current conceptions?
A: Here, in the west, we’ve come to know wellness largely through the commodification of self care. Saidiya Hartman reminds us that so much of the work of oppression is policing the imagination. I am centering a wellness that allows us to dream together. We need spaces to claim what is possible in moving toward the world that the children around us and in us still need. I think of wellness as creating spaces for these future dreams to germinate in community. We are not alone when we have each other and so much of BIPOC legacies have centered imagining a world in which the most marginalized in our communities feel seen, safe and empowered. It cultivates hope for the future, something I think we need to hold onto if we’re going to enact change. Collective care & imagination are integral to wellness.
Q: Okay Shaena you’ve dropped some deep wisdom on us. Now tell us what you actually do at Y-WE and some things that are giving you joy in your personal life.
A: Ha. At Y-WE I am in direct service to young people. I offer one on one time, identify pathways to resources, and mostly I’m taking stock of people’s interests and needs. I bear witness to what’s emerging and ask how I can help. I am also coordinating wellness days and building relationships with the Y-WE team, community, and young people.
Personally I am giving myself room to be expansive and unattached to outcomes. I am fostering healthy sustaining relationships, binging netflix, playing SIMS, doing yoga… I’m just trying to live my values. Oh and also hanging out with my cat.
M: Thanks Shaena. We’re excited to have you on the team and excited to continue imagining abundance for Y-WE and the world.