Reflecting the Wisdom of the Earth: An Interview with Cynthia Hill

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Cynthia Hill

CH: Healing Gardens is a concept I came up with growing herbs to go into my products. The customer knows exactly where their products are coming from. Like lemnongrass – good for energy and you can cook with it. It’s really uplifting. Lavender is good for calming, it’s also anti-inflammatory.

I am not a doctor, but they are known to be very healing. Eating them or using them on your skin.

DCHP: Some essential oil companies go to great lengths to harvest plants from the area where they were first cultivated. The theory is that it is different maybe more potent but there might actually be a local effect with herbs.

CH: I believe that there is. The lavender I have in my garden I feel will be more conducive [to people here]. The lavender that grows here – the hitcoat – is wonderful. If my herbs are living in the same environment [that I am in], I would assume they would be conducive to my skin.

DCHP: That would make sense. I see the same sort of argument in other areas. For example with bees and honey – that locally produced honey has elements in it that are different than what you would find in honey from California or South America.

CH: The honey that is derived here in southwest PA is very good, very tasty. If I know my apiary person, I’d feel more comfortable that I’m getting a high quality honey ‘cause I know that farmer.

Herbs that are grown where you regionally live, you are less likely to be allergic to them ‘cause you are in the same exact environment. They’re growing in the same temperatures and climates.

DCHP: So what do you do in the winter months?

CH: In the winter months I focus on making herbal teas. One of my most favorite blends is an anise-hyssop, which has kind of a licorice taste, and I blend that with lemonbalm, which is also called melissa.

It’s probably one of [the] cure-all herbs. [It] is good for sinuses, [it’s an] anti-inflammatory, [it’s] good for your skin, you can drink it, it alleviates a lot of problems like dandruff and acne. Then I may add others like St. John’s Wort.

DCHP: Interesting! You grow all those herbs yourself?

CH: On the perennials, I probably have 15. Re-seeders just keep coming back.

Queen Anne’s Lace, it’s an herb that grows along the sideways. It opens up like an umbrella and has a big white flower. Well the roots are really good for your body. And the leaves and flowers, you can make a tea out of it or you can roast them and serve them over meat. It’s very tasty. And there’s also chicory. It’s kind of purplish [in] color and it tastes like coffee!

Even the red clover and the white clover you see along the side of the road is very good for you. A lot of it I don’t have to grow. Earlier this winter I was near Kennywood and found some unusual wild daisies. They are beautiful when they bloom in the spring. So now I’ll have some next year.

It’s mostly making teas and making products from the herbs that I grew all spring. I don’t sell as much tea as I’d like to but that’s a dream – to really extend out and to have teas all year round. I’d have to grow a lot to actually have them all year round. So I can really only have teas during the winter months.

The garden is one of the only places where I really feel at home. I feel relaxed. Stress-free. My mother was an avid gardener. When I was a teenager I just couldn’t get it, but now I just wanna be outside all the time. I got away from it for many years. And now I’m back to it.

DCHP: Food corporations go to [great lengths to] hide the fact that all of their foods are produced by machines. They’re trying to make you think that people are involved. There’s a real difference I find between things that are produced locally by people and things that are produced by machines.

CH: You can taste it! Immediately, immediately.

DCHP: What sort of shift brought you back to [local foods]?

CH: I guess the biggest reason probably was going into my natural skin care business. I bought a book on soap making but I never had time to read it. When [my mother] passed away I really had a rough time ’cause we were so close and I thought, “Let me take a look at this book.” Nov 5, 2003 I made my first bar of soap and it came out perfect!

That’s what really got me into the skincare business. I’ve always liked skin care, and bought it, as most women do, but that’s what really made me switch [to] it. I said, “I cannot have a natural skin care business and eat unnaturally…”

DCHP: Hmm, interesting.

CH: …because it just didn’t make any sense. I am trying to be healthier so I wanna portray a healthier way of living. And it’s a work in progress!

DCHP: What I also get is it’s not so much a question of appearances but how it affects you, how you feel.

CH: Exactly! How it makes me feel. I feel better about myself.

At the beginning [my thought was] it should be a way of life. So I decided, as a slow process, to change my way of eating. So I not only feel better, it matches my lifestyle.

And in the interim of doing that I do feel better. Being around other people who are eating positively kinda rubs off. Foods that are grown naturally do taste good. In major companies they have chemists and their job is to design taste profiles.

DCHP: I find that a lot of those mass-produced, store-bought things might taste good at first but then leave me with this bitter flavor in my mouth and this feeling of just, I don’t know, yuckiness. The ones that are the simplest…

CH: …are the best!

DCHP: And…they leave a sweetness in my mouth instead of a bitterness.

CH: Instead of bitterness, exactly.

DCHP: It sounds like you are on a crusade.

CH: I’ve been eating the wrong way a long time, you know. I have to switch back to [my old way of eating] and I’m enjoying it.

DCHP: So it’s a process of discovering. Or re-discovering.

CH: Exactly. Re-discovering.

DCHP: You said, “You have to.” But I’m not so sure that’s really accurate. What I’m hearing is you want to, that there’s a real value in your body, in your gut.

CH: Oh sure, I’m feeling better, looking better, living longer.

[Speaking about my mother passing,] sometimes we don’t realize the gifts that we get when our loved ones leave us, but they always leave us something. We just don’t know.

That’s probably why I love being in the garden… ’cause when I was a teenager I was like, (in a petulant voice) “Oh no, go pick peppermint?”

And now I find myself out there, probably listening to my mother. It’s a spiritual thing to me. The Native Americans believed that when your parents die their souls go into their children. I believe that.

I used to ask, “Where does a person’s voice go when they die?” They have to go into family. They don’t just disappear. There’s a real connection between people and plants. More than that they’re just pretty. We need them! That’s why when you talk to them they look better! Because you’re connecting!

To me that’s spiritual.

DCHP: Interesting. Is there anything else you do with 3rd Day?

CH: Well I have a natural lotion that I make. It’s a hand and body lotion. It doesn’t have any chemicals in it and it’s made from organic ingredients.

There’s also a formula that I created called Deep Muscle and Joint Cream, which is made with 13 or more anti-inflammatory herbs in an olive oil and beeswax base. If you exercise a lot it eases the strain on your muscles. If you have arthritis it helps ease it up a little bit.

Then I have a natural sugar scrub. I either select an olive oil, a grapeseed oil, or a coconut oil with the herbs and essential oils. It’s made to exfoliate the skin while moisturizing. That’s very popular now.

Then I have a daily moisturizer which is made with turmeric. Turmeric is good for healing cancer cells. So I thought it would be good for the skin. It’s turmeric and honey in an olive oil and argan oil base.

Oh, and there’s another major [product] right now – a body wash made from rosemary and peppermint. It’s very uplifting. It’s a great morning body wash.

DCHP: As I understand it, there are 2 different [business] philosophies. One of them is building relationships with people. The other is that you’re always dealing with new people. They’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and you’ll take advantage of them. But when they realize they’ve been taken advantage of, they’ll never come back.

CH:[Customers] trust me. They can get a hold of me. My customers kind of know me. They say, “Oh where’s your granddaughter? You didn’t bring her with you this week!”

And not only that, repeat customers pay the bills, customers who come once don’t.

And I’ll be honest with you, once you try it, you’ll look for me (for my products). [Once you try it, you’ll] love it.

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”Reflecting the Wisdom of the Earth: An Interview with Cynthia Hill, 3rd Day Luxury Soaps and Healing Gardens” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Becoming Aware of the Waste Stream: an interview with Kyle Winkler (Part 1)

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Kyle WinklerKyle Winkler currently works for Zero Waste Pittsburgh, a project of the Pennsylvania Resources Council, Inc. and can be reached at 412-488-7490 x243 or at www.zerowastepgh.org.

KW: The Pennsylvania Resources Council works to preserve resources and it offers individuals, businesses, special events, and so on tools, technical support, and hands-on ways to achieve the goals of natural resources conservation.

DCHP: Regarding waste streams, I’ve heard that there are so many layers in juice boxes that they are impossible to recycle.

KW: Aseptic packaging supposedly [now] can be recycled.

DCHP: You’re making a wry kind of face. What does that mean?

KW: Each container manufacturer or container type has a trade group that advocates for the usage of their specific material. The same is true for aseptic packaging, which has paper, plastic, and I believe a foil or metal liner. My understanding is that these layers are so tightly pressed together that they are hard or impossible to deal with.

Now, I honestly have not had a chance to look at the aseptic container manufacturer’s website or process to figure out how they’ve dealt with those problems. It could be with subsidies on the backend to help them either figure out how to upgrade their equipment or just deal with ongoing maintenance.

DCHP: Would it be fair to say then that it’s not really clear if aseptic packaging is recyclable?

KW: I’ve spoken to some folks, and read some materials, but sometimes I need to see a video. I need to see the process in operation in real time because I’ve been at this long enough that I feel jaded sometimes about claims. How it has been explained to me is that the fiber portion of the aseptic packaging is recycled while the plastic coating and foil liner are residue. In other words they’re landfilled. The entire package is not recyclable, but there is enough good fiber in it to justify collection and processing of it.

[The take away message is that] the simpler things are, the simpler the packaging is, the closer to home that we can deal with it, [the better it is for the environment.]

For example, compostables are processed in Washington County. It only goes 20 miles away. I know where the stuff is going. I know the people who run the company. I know how the material is processed. And I know that if they weren’t able to process them, they wouldn’t accept them.

[They’ve rejected things in the past.] They’re not just making it up. Everything they get they can compost and if they can’t they’re going to yell and scream.

We don’t have in this area what they call a “dirty MRF.”

DCHP: “Dirty murph.” It sounds like a sexual thing…

KW: Clean MRF is just recycling. MRF stands for Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). We actually have three of them in this area. They take single stream or mixed recyclables and commoditizes them into bales. Obviously, other municipalities have other facilities. For example, one city in Texas just rolled out a dirty MRF.

Essentially, a dirty MRF is the epitome of laziness. You don’t have to do anything. You put it all into one container and then it goes to a facility where they separate your trash from your recycling.

DCHP: Wow.

KW: There are definitely losers in that scenario. I would imagine that recoverable paper fiber is low. Nobody wants wet fiber for recycling. They’ll make it wet in the facility once it’s been separated and it’s clean but no one wants fiber that has been sitting in oil and cheese and beer.

Dirty MRF’s are able to collect materials, but at the cost of other materials. For example, metals are always recoverable, but what happens to all the other stuff in that process?

Glass could be a loser too because if you’ve got porcelain and other hard materials mixed in, you got all of these tiny pieces in the garbage stream. There is no way to separate these things mechanically.

Even if it’s all glass, if someone throws a plate glass window into the stream, you have plate glass mixed in with different colors and bottle glass.

So it’s important to understand the system that you live in.

There’s a nonprofit company in Boulder, CO called Eco-Cycle and Eric Lombardi is their former Executive Director. He goes around talking about zero waste facilities, policy requirements, and so on. It’s not like this guy is charging millions of dollars to gain access to this information. He’s literally giving it away. He’s saying, “Here it is! Do it!”

Doing it is the hard part. So there is definitely opportunity for us going forward to be more vocal and proactive. We can work with folks like Penn Future, who are more active in the policy realm, to put forward some intelligent steps towards making waste management more economically viable or putting additional incentives into place for people to do the right thing in terms of how they handle their waste materials.

Eco-Cycle put together a massive transfer station where consumers and commercial generators can both come in and dump materials. One of the whole points is to not slow down the commercial generators. They should be able to come in and do what they need to do. Such a transfer station would operate on materials before anything went to the landfill.

DCHP: Is that the vision that you have for Kyle Winkler or whatever?

KW: I think that sort of thing is inevitable. It will happen with or without me. The questions are how fast will it happen and who is going to benefit.

Eco-Cycle has a small fleet of equipment that they run around and pick up stuff. They sort of compete with the for-profit sector. They raise the bar. They raise the level of customer expectations and drive demand. They haven’t become a sole provider of waste services but they can say that “we can do this and still support ourselves economically. We’re not losing our shirts on this.”

DCHP: Let’s say that I was putting together an event or in charge of handling the waste stream for my company. Are you the guy to call?

KW: Yes. Absolutely. Give me a call.

 

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”Becoming Aware of the Waste Stream: an interview with Kyle Winkler (Part 1)” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Native Wisdom: An Interview with David Smith (Part 2)

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David SmithAs profiled earlier, David Smith is the founder of Yellowcorn Native American Recovery Services. During our discussion, he shared some of the wisdom that he has gained. This article presents some of that wisdom.

DCHP: I would even go so far as to say that most people are taught, they’re encouraged, not to be aware of the things that go on around them.

DS: Right, exactly. And if you’re not aware of what’s around you how can you be aware of what’s within you?Because what is without is within.

Things come up in your life [and you may ask,] “where do these things come from?” Well, if you had an awareness of [things] around you, you’d understand where it came from.

Our emotions are our connection. Our emotions are nothing more than feelers to go out and touch the sky, the earth, our surroundings and [they] let us know where we are connected, where we are in relationship with that certain thing in our life.

Then we have a choice to make as to how we’re going to feel into it, deal with it, whatever. But that’s what our emotions are. We can get caught up in our emotions, we can get lost in those things. But when we don’t allow ourselves to get caught up in our emotions and take them just for what they are – as signals, as spiritual feelers, so to speak, from ourselves out to the world around us – then we have an understanding that these things become a help to us rather than a detriment.

A lot of people say, “I don’t feel because I don’t want to feel. I don’t want to be sad. I don’t want to be angry, whatever.” Well, it’s okay to be sad sometimes. That sadness means that you can connect to someone who is sad. You can relate to his experience. Then you can sit with him. And I don’t mean just sitting on a bench but you can go to the place of that sadness and sit with that person. And you can take them from that sadness to a place of gladness.

DCHP: What I’m getting is that you’re drawing from wisdom gathered on your journey from being drunk to being sober.

DS: From that and from the ceremonies and the traditions that we follow – learning from them and understanding them and getting to know them. Understanding and listening to what they’re saying.

DCHP: Is there something about those ceremonies that suggest themselves to you? Is there something that sort of stands out?

DS: Well, life is a ceremony. All life is a ceremony. All we do [in] our ceremonies, we reenact throughout our daily life and we reflect on what we’re doing. There’s always a part of the ceremonies that we’re reenacting.

That’s what those ceremonies teach us. They show us a way, a solution through these problems and situations. And the ceremonies have life. And as long as the ceremonies have life, then they live. As long as they live then that is where generations come. They come to meet that life rather than meeting the destruction, which is what we could do if we stayed drinking from the bottle, popping the pills, or whatever.

DCHP: I agree. It sounds like going through ceremonies calls on you to be aware of your emotions as ways to connect rather than getting lost in them.

DS: I would say it’s this way. It’s a way of remembering to remember. ‘Cause I always live by remembering to remember not to live to forget.

So that’s what we were doing – drowning ourselves in alcohol and drugs. We were living to forget rather than remembering to remember ’cause in order to face the pain, we must remember the pain. This means that we have to go back to that pain, to the place where it started. And come to an understanding of where it came from and making peace with that so that you can accept it. Because you can acknowledge it [without taking it in.] As I said, acknowledgment is something that stands outside your heart. Acceptance is something you take within your heart.

I can acknowledge, for example, that you put your hand out to me (BTL extends hand). But until I accept it, there’s nothing that takes place because now (DS extends hand, we grasp hands, and shake) I’ve received it. I received your hand.

DCHP: I can definitely feel it. There’s a difference in how it feels…

DS: See? I received it now. Before, the [simple] acknowledgment is something you’re aware of but you haven’t taken it into your heart. You haven’t accepted it.

Once you take it into your heart, then you have the ability because in your heart there’s like a fire. Around that fire there’re all these Elders called Humility, Respect, Honor, Truth, Courage, all these types of things. Each one will teach you the ways of their people, their ways.

Their people are Respect. Their people are Humility. We see these things as living things. And they’ll teach you their stories and their ways so that you can understand them. And once you have an understanding of them then you can come to peace with those things you have fear about. You’re not facing them alone. You have this whole group of Elders that you now [have with you wherever you go].

I look at it this way. When I was young, I had a place within my heart. And I sat within my heart and I saw things such as wonderment and all that. I always had that place there. It never was not there. And there were always these Elders [there. They were there since] the beginning of time. They were there since [the beginning of] life. They always sat around the campfire in my heart. They’re within everyone’s heart. They can actually sit in everyone’s heart.

And when I decided to stumble outside of my heart and go out into the world and get lost in the world with drugs and alcohol, I couldn’t find my way back to my lodge, to my heart. So I was lost out there because I was trying to become something I wasn’t. I knew who I was inside my heart. I didn’t know who I was outside of my heart.

[What I’ve realized is] when I’m in my heart [I see things clearly]. As long as I’m looking from within out then I can see things as they are all around. I’m aware of my surroundings and when I’m able to do that, then I’m connected.

When I came into recovery I came back [into my heart]. First I acknowledged the fact that I had a problem, that I had an addiction. For me, it was to alcohol and drugs. That’s step one. You can acknowledge step one, which is “I’m powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable,” or you can accept it.

Acknowledgment means that you recognize that you have a problem like we recognized that you put your hand out to me. Accepting it means that I’m taking it into my heart. [It] means that I’m now ready to work on it. [It means] that I truly believe it. I truly believe that I have a problem and that I’m taking it in to a rehab [center].

See my heart’s like a rehab [center] and it’ll help revisement if I allow it. That starts a right relationship between my mind and my heart. Without right relationship, there is no relationship.

DCHP: What is the right relationship?

DS: When the mind, body, spirit, and emotions all become one, then you become a balanced person. When we separate ourselves from any one of those, then we’re out of balance. Right relationship is like this – the mind is male, the heart is female.

Now when I left, they got divorced and I went to live with my dad for a while because my mind was a good storyteller. It told me all kinds of lies and I believed every one of them. But all it did was get me deeper and deeper [and ultimately] lost. Deeper into trouble and my problems and issues.

And then it would leave me there because it would get scared itself and take off. Did you ever hear it stated that “I lost my mind?” Well, [that’s exactly what happened]. It took off. It didn’t want to be there either. (laughs) So then, you’re stuck there. Your mind will do that. It’ll take you places and then leave.

When I came back home, to mom, to the heart, [I was welcomed]. You know moms. They’re always really kind and listening. They’re always willing to listen and give advice. They’re always saying, “You don’t want to do that. You might not want to do that. You might want to think about that.”

Well see at that time [when the advice is given] you’re not listening to mom. You’re not listening to the female aspect of yourself. You’re just listening to the male aspect. The male aspect is full of Ego.

So, when I come back home and I say, “I want to begin to heal,” I begin to heal. Then what happened is that my mind and my heart began to have a relationship. They began to converse. Because in all relationships, conversation is key. Communication is key to all relationships.

So once they begin to communicate, not one overpowering the other, but they begin to communicate, then what happened is that it started to rehabilitate my spirit. And as my spirit grows, my E goes. You see what I’m saying? (both smile)

And once that happens, then my Ego can find its own perspective and it finds its place again. I realize it does have a place but it doesn’t have the whole place anymore.

DCHP: Maybe it’s in my hearing but I’m not sure that “Ego” in this context is the same that it was before. Is it? In other words, I just heard you say that Ego has a place but I’m not sure it’s the same Ego.

DS: Right! It’s not. One is overpowering, one is there for the purpose it was meant for.

DCHP: What is that?

DS: It’s to give us our personality.

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Finding Truth in Performance: An Interview with Bobbi Williams

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Bobbi Williams works as a teacher, healer, and performance artist. She also participates in the Maker movement. She can be found at parties, events, and/or leading classes around Pittsburgh. She also provides acting, massage, Body Evolution, and reiki through classes and on a 1:1 basis. She can be reached at smokifantastic.com, GAIA HARMONIC JUKU, or dj smokifantastic.

DCHP: You’ve got a lot of art all around!

BW: Mm, hm.

[Back] when I was 23, 24 I was focusing on acting and really starting to get into esoteric studies. I got into shamanism because I wanted to understand the root of storytelling. At Carnegie Mellon, they had an exchange program where I studied in Russia for a year. In Russia the theater is very passionate and spiritual and mystical and I really vibed with that. I wanted to explore how theater can be a transformational experience.

That’s how I started to go down the shamanic journey of trying to understand how stories can heal.

DCHP: Actually the notion that stories can heal is very powerful, I think.

BW: I call what I do Urban Shamanism because it’s a mix of a bunch of different things. I’ve had two shaman teachers that were both very progressive and alternative.

My first shaman teacher was a businessman. He knew so many healing modalities that it inspired me. The other was amazing [, too]. He’s gay. He has this feminine side and he’s very open.

Everybody has some light within them. But when you go through [reiki] initiation then you also have the within and without. So you’re channeling this reiki energy that comes into you through you but it’s also something that’s already inside of you. You are co-creating with this energy and this energy is independent of itself.

This is because we are multi-dimensional beings and we have many parts of ourselves that work together all the time. So it seems kind of confusing when you think about it in a dualistic way.

[However,] to say I’m not dualistic would not be realistic because this is where we are. We deal with linear time. We deal with male and female. This is the world that we live in. So to say that I exist outside that world wouldn’t be realistic.

DCHP: You obviously continue to carry the shamanism with you here in Pittsburgh.

BW: Basically, it kind of bleeds into everything that I teach. I have a class called Mythmakers. I teach basic fundamental acting, Russian technique. We work with dreams and we do a lot of experimenting. It’s kind of the first step in a disciplined awareness of storytelling.

DCHP: It sounds like what you are doing or encouraging is for people to see themselves as the narrator of the story and then for the narrator to be on a journey.

BW: It’s giving people the empowerment to tell stories in their own way. You can become a shapeshifter in your day-to-day life.

For me, the shaman is a functional artist and the work is geared toward the community and making the community a better place. That’s what I’m trying to do. My artwork is functional in society.

I don’t think that all art has to be that way. I’m really open to expression and the freedom of expression. If there’re artists that are doing art that’s not trying to change society, then I’m not like, “Oh, they should…” [or] “They have to do this…”

One time, I saw a van Gogh for the first time. It changed my life. The paint was so thick coming off the canvas. When you see it in a book, it’s flat. You don’t know it’s almost like a sculpture. You can really see all the effort and the work that was involved. It’s really quite amazing.

For me art is about purification. Art brings you to this place where you can go to awareness, an awareness state.

DCHP: Is the relationship between shamanism and art something that you discovered in your own life?

BW: It’s something that I discovered. Around the time that I started to go down this path, my mom passed away. My mom was a very psychic person. She would see ghosts and things like that so my childhood was always about this other world.

She really didn’t know that it was okay to have boundaries, even with the other side. So I was the person to ground her. I would tell her to ask the ghost what they wanted or tell them to leave. When she passed away, I was getting into how stories heal. That was also right when I went to Russia. So I found myself going for my Master’s degree, which is very intense, and being in a very intense, passionate place, and grieving.

We were doing Three Sisters the old-school Russian way, which is to study a play, [playing] the same character and [studying] each moment for 8 months. So I just hyper-focused and it totally helped me. I was able to not be myself. So that was the first thing. Every day, I [didn’t] have to be Bobbi for a few hours, which really gave me a little bit of freedom and slack from my life.

[In] the Russian theater, every single moment has to be organic. [In] every single moment, you have to be present. It’s not like Method Acting where you can pull stuff from your past. You really should be focusing on your character and every single tiny moment. Skipping a moment is like skipping a couple of beats in music.

So we really pulled out those moments. We would do a moment for like three hours.

After that I went to New York City. I just wanted to not be in school. And the music is so awesome there. You can dance to anything. So I went dancing all the time. And [I found that] I started to grieve and move it out of my body and also pray. So while I’m praying and dancing, I started to get really uplifted. I was starting to liberate myself. I was moving much better than I ever did before and I could feel this healing happening.

We always think of our mind and our brain as the only place where intelligence lives but there is intelligence throughout your whole body. So when you move, it will answer things, solve problems, you become more grounded and connected with the earth and a healing can occur through movement.

There are a lot of healing modalities that teach you how to move, like Tai Chi. [I] do this thing called Body Evolution through which you can understand your body and what your body is trying to tell you.

[In Body Evolution,] you might do something like in yoga except for the fact that you’re breathing through your mouth and you’re lengthening the spine, something like that. If I work on someone, I might be pushing on their body while they push in the opposite direction. In that way I can work deeper. And it’s good for the client, too, because that way they can heal themselves and not feel so dependent [on me for their healing.]

Some people just want to lie there and get a massage. That’s totally fine. But for someone who’s trying to work something out and really change their life, it’s good for them to physically do it.

DCHP: I recently spoke to David Smith. He talks about the wisdom of the elders and his own experiences. One of the things that he made clear is that the real key is to be aware of your everyday life. The more aware you are, the more powerful you are. The more yourself you are.

BW: Yeah. Awareness is huge. It’s going to determine what kinds of choices you are going to make.

My thing is more like I’m on a shamanic path. I think in the new paradigm, everyone’s a shaman.

For me, it’s about action and choices. Awareness, action, choices, or decisions that you’re going to make. When you make that decision, that’s when you step into your power.

I feel that the way things are set up in society right now, it’s to wait for somebody [else] make a decision for you. So when people start talking about freedom, a lot of people say they are all for it but when they get a chance to do things, to make decisions, they are reluctant [to “stand out.”]

DCHP: I think that you’re right. A lot of people latch on to words like freedom and liberty because of their appeal or their popularity. But they don’t necessarily have a very deep understanding of them. And when they are faced with that [possibility], I think they get scared.

BW: Oh, absolutely. It’s a responsibility. Freedom means that you have to be responsible.

DCHP: Is part of what you’re saying perhaps that people who are really progressive, so to speak, are actually being responsible and living their lives as opposed to getting out on the streets and protesting?

BW: Right, exactly. I’m not saying that protesting doesn’t serve a purpose, but I think that for me protesting is education. I’m an artist/educator. I’m a performance artist. A performance artist is kind of like a tree with everything going on beneath it.

I have a character that I play called Smokifantastik – a love Goddess from the planet Venus. She’s like my brand. Everything comes under the name Smokifantastik. That’s just about mythology. It’s about creating your own myth.

People will automatically go into their own play state. It would be like if we were kids and you had this character that you always played when we got together. When you saw me you would automatically start playing.

I say I’m a performance artist because [it] sort of frees me up. I can be a little more intuitive with what I’m doing when I’m performing.For me, the installation is the conversation we’re having right now. (laughs)

It’s a lifestyle. So that gives me the freedom to do art all the time, any time, and in a spontaneous way.

DCHP: I can definitely see what you say about the installation being the conversation and practicing art every day as part of what you do. I can see how that’s related to healing and shamanism. Does that bring anything up for you?

BW: Yeah. It allows this healing space to open without me having to be a shaman or without me having to be the healer. It allows for the other people involved to interact in a really dynamic way and also to empower themselves in a really simplistic (accessible) way and a real fun way. It’s not in this esoteric, deep, soul-searching way.

That needs to happen when it needs to happen but it’s also good to know that you can experience deep things in your everyday life without having to go through initiation or something.

So this gives you opportunity to really start to know yourself.

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”Finding Truth in Performance: An Interview with Bobbi Williams” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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SITE NITE – 5 Years of Connecting People: An interview with Regina Rivers, Kathy Evans-Palmisano, and Chi Chi Rivera

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Chi Chi Rivera, Regina Rivers, and Kathy Evans-PalmisanoSITE NITE just celebrated its 5th anniversary. It has become a destination for many people who are trying to find an approach to life that embraces many points of view.

RR: Over these five years, we’ve always believed that the right people are called to attend. The right people show up at the right time. Some who come use it as a springboard and go off and do their own thing when it’s time for them to do that.

KEP: And sometimes people come back, too. They springboard off and take a divergent path and then their path may meander back and meet up with ours again.

DCHP: Chi Chi, you’ve been with the group for most of it’s life, not the whole life though, right?

CCR: I think three years. Maybe two?

RR: I think three years. It feels like forever. (all laugh)

KEP: She was there from the start. She just wasn’t physically present.

CCR: (laughing) My body hadn’t shown up, yet.

It was 2010 and it was January. That was the first meeting I attended.

DCHP: And you’re indispensable now.(all laugh) In terms of what you do and…

RR: Yes.

KEP: Strongly affirmative.

CCR: You know, we work very coherently as a team.

KEP: Yeah, we do!

CCR: There are many heads to this snake. (all laugh)

RR: What is it? Medusa? SITE NITE’s Medusa.

KEP: More like a Hydra – ya cut one off and two more appear. (laughter redoubles)

DCHP: So how long has SITE NITE been going, now?

RR: Our first meeting was March 23, 2009.

DCHP: You just had your fifth anniversary.

RR: Yeah, and this year, we are hoping to attract more men because we want to be balanced energetically.

This year, in 2014, we made it a purpose to engage more men as presenters and quite a few have accepted.

DCHP: So do you think it’s a presentation thing or maybe it’s more that women are more ready and able to say, “You know what? I don’t know.” and “Let’s find out.”

CCR: Women are receptive to this teaching. We’re naturally good teachers. So, the energy consists of a lot of feminine presentation. That’s why we have to try to keep it balanced. Why we have to ask men to come, to participate and be part of the structure of what we’re building.

RR: And, we’re not just seeking diversity of gender identity but also ethnicity. We want individuals from as many cultural backgrounds as possible to feel welcome to come and work with us. This is beginning to occur now as well.

DCHP: You raise an interesting point about ethnicity. I’m just curious if you’ve noticed whether there’s a particular ethnic slant to the people who show up at the meetings.

RR: Sadly, I think most of us are white, you know?

KEP: Although socioeconomically I think there’s a wide range. We want to have a bouquet. (all laugh) And the age range is fairly wide. We certainly attract [many ages]. We have children there with their parents but we also have the twenty and thirty somethings there. Up to the seventies. I don’t think there’s anybody older than that.

RR: We get the “Younger Tribe members,” as we call the teens and twenties and mid-thirty year olds. And some of the younger tribe members have brought their parents and some have brought their children.

DCHP: I’m wondering if to some extent the ethnic slant you’re noticing might be a reflection of the general population.

RR: Oh, I think that’s true. I don’t think it has anything to do with our receptivity at all. I think it’s who finds us and who has the ability to come because some people just don’t have cars and it’s hard for them to come via bus.

Though a lot of the younger tribe members come by bus…

DCHP: I was just going to say that just yesterday I was talking to a young person. They are in the habit of going all over the place with buses. They think nothing of sitting on a bus for over an hour to get to something that’s worthwhile.

RR: It would be nice for Peaceburgh to have more public transportation available.

DCHP: OK. So I’m curious. How do you get information?

KEP: When I’m alone, when I’m not bombarded with daily intrusions, daily living…in the shower, or just when I’m settling into sleep. Information will pop into my head and… I have a notebook beside my bed and I have to jot down notes, or I’ll ask my husband to transcribe when I’m in the shower. When I’m silent information can download more easily.

And also… when I’m working with people, because when I’m working with people, that’s when I’m open and receptive and so I just hear information in my head that just comes through. Long ago I allowed myself to just say it without editing it.

DCHP: You’re nodding your head, Chi Chi. Did you have a similar experience?

CCR: Um, not really. I love hearing how you receive information mostly because I hear commonality in lots of people’s stories. – They get things when they’re alone and when they get into private space, whatever the case may be.

For me, I get it when I’m alone and not necessarily quiet like that. I’m normally in the car. I get great ideas when I’m in the car because it’s like, you know, I’m not actively working on solutions. When I’m in the car, I’m just paying attention to driving.

RR: I have to say that when the idea for SITE NITE came, I was by myself, though I wasn’t in the shower as I often am when inspiration comes! I was sitting at my desk after having gone to a spiritualist church that night.

I wanted to open up to all kinds of realms and to learn all kinds of information. And, then it was like this information downloaded in me saying, “well just start sharing what you know with those you know.”

I said, “Wow, now that’s a good idea!” Almost right away the name “SITE NITE” came and I wrote it down. I was thinking, “Okay, I want the experience to be spiritual. I want people to be able to use their intuition…”

From there I thought, “S.I.T.E.” and the rest of the words spelling it out came – telepathic and how we want to expand our consciousness. So, that process came pretty fast. I mean it was like, “Zzzzzt! Here ya go, girl!” SITE stands for Spiritual, Intuitive and Telepathic Expansion.

I didn’t keep these thoughts to myself long at all. I’m not sure if it was that night or the next when I sent the information to my friends and said, “Okay, what do you think of this?”

The inspiration came… I think it was March 10th and so we decided that we were going to get together for the first time on March 23rd. That was in 2009.

DCHP: It [SITE NITE] is well attended from what I’ve seen so far. That’s really amazing.

RR: I think so, too. Starting with 6 and now we’re in our sixties. The [attendance] numbers are in the sixties. (all laugh)

DCHP: So if someone had just heard about SITE NITE and wanted to attend or were interested in attending, what would that person experience?

KEP: One of the things that I hear repetitively is that they have found a community and that they are grateful for having a community of like thinkers. – People who are open to new ideas. People who are in touch with their spiritual side or wanting to become more in touch with their spiritual side and open to greater gifts or understanding their own gifts better.

DCHP: Do you have a rule about presenters’ geographic location?

RR: We do want to focus on being from Peaceburgh because this is about the gifts in Peaceburgh but we certainly don’t limit it in terms of location. Presenters come from Ohio, Virginia, and West virginia, and as far away as Oregon.

KEP: Yeah. We’re about raising the consciousness. So anybody who’s got information that’ll help Peaceburgh in any way to raise our consciousness, then [we say,] “Please, come. Share what you know.”

DCHP: This is the third or fourth time I’ve heard the term “Peaceburgh.” Are you using “Peaceburgh” as a name for the city or in terms of Peaceburgh.com?

KEP: “Peaceburgh” is the nickname of Pittsburgh. That’s how we’re using it.

RR: I could be wrong but I believe that Peaceburgh, the website, derived from the fact that we began calling the city Peaceburgh.

And, actually, Pittsburgh was first nicknamed Peaceburgh back in the Vietnam era (all make exclamations).

Yes, it was first used back then during protest rallies and so this is a resurgence of the nickname. But we are using it in a different way. Our job, again, is to raise the consciousness of this city and in doing that, we’re bringing peace to this area.

CCR: We’re bringing peace to this ‘Burgh. (all laugh)

RR: And how do you create peace? You create peace by generating an understanding that we are: (a) all one so that unity consciousness is manifest; and the other piece is (b) by generating tolerance and acceptance. So, in terms of SITE NITE’s Core Values and how we establish the vision for SITE NITE, creating peace is essential. Treating others respectfully, using loving-kindness, even when there’s disagreement, is extremely important. It is also important to listen to each other with open hearts and open minds.

KEP: I feel that so much of the culture’s code comes from the scarcity mentality. You know, there’re only so many people to buy this product so you have to get all of them. There’re only so many people to come to SITE NITE so they can’t go anywhere [else].

It’s that mentality that there isn’t enough to go around and that’s just not true. We have an absolute abundance and so there is more than enough for everybody to have everything they need, including a market for their product and people to support their cause and people to come to their presentation and I think that’s huge.

DCHP: I agree. Personally, from what I’ve seen, it’s even funnier than that because not only is it not true that there’s a scarcity but we actually are richer when we share.

RR: And again, that’s the reason for SITE NITE. That’s our reason for sharing information.

DCHP: That’s saying a lot. That’s very powerful.

RR: I think that’s because it was SITE NITE’s time.

For me, if anything I’m doing becomes a struggle, then whatever that struggle is, is not meant to happen. So far, everything that’s happened with SITE NITE has flowed very easily, very gently. When things are flowing, we go with it. When things are not flowing, we set it aside because it’s not ours to do…at least at that particular time.

DCHP: So where do you see SITE NITE going? I know that you would like to build a healing center. What else do you have in mind?

RR: We are hoping to create SITE NITE satellites around the country. Our plan is to create a packet that we can hand over to other communities from which they can begin their own SITE NITE satellite groups. Our SITE NITE CORE Member Team is doing the heavy legwork and we will pass it forward. Why not share this outside Peaceburgh?

I do want to say that we’re in the process of incorporating. We’re becoming SITE Center and SITE NITE will then be one of the subcategories under SITE Center.

We will have many different aspects eventually under SITE Center that are under wraps right now. In the meantime, we’re proceeding with the paperwork so that we can be recognized as a 501c3 non-profit organization.

DCHP: Anything else you want to say?

CCR: I’m just along for the ride.

 

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”SITE NITE – 5 Years of Connecting People: An interview with Regina Rivers, Kathy Evans-Palmisano, and Chi Chi Rivera” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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