WHEN YOUR ANCESTORS ARE THE PROBLEM
A workshop with Rev. Sara Jolena Wolcott
MONDAY, 8TH JUNe
8.15PM CEST ｜ 7.15PM BST ｜ 2.15PM EDT ｜ 11.15AM PDT
This free online session is open to all. Please register to secure your place and receive a link to the Zoom call.
With the unfinished histories of racism, colonialism and white supremacy in the United States (and beyond) at the top of the news headlines and weighing on our hearts, Rev. Sara Jolena joins us from California to lead a session for any of us around the world who need a space to reflect on our shared inheritance of false security and unjust systems.
What do you do when your ancestors are the problem?
‘His name is Henry Wolcott. The ship’s name is The Mary and John. The year is 1630. He carries a Bible, some rumpled clothes, a journal and a few other odds and ends across the Atlantic. Unlike the handcuffed human cargo of the slave ships already making the dreaded Middle Passage, Henry and his family walk above the hull of the ship. The Mary and John is one of the first English ships to venture into these waters.’ — ‘From the Darkness’, Dark Mountain: Issue 12
Rev. Sara Jolena Wolcott grew up in a white American family that prided itself on being descended from the first generation of New England settlers. In ‘From the Darkness’, she writes about the stories her family never told, and about her journey beyond an environmental activism in which climate change was presented as ‘the unintended consequences of the brilliance and ingenuity of white folks’, into a deepening engagement with ‘the patterns made by fences, chains and walls’, the histories of colonialism, slavery and genocide on which modern industrial society was founded.
She explores these dynamics through her experience as a chaplain on the infamous Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City, ‘entrenched in the local politics of race and place, the dark underbellies of America, and the colonisation that has never left this country’. Her work today involves guiding people through colonial histories in what she calls ecological family histories that reMember people and place and aim to ReEnchant our world.
In collaboration with a school called HOME, Sara has offered to host a ‘threshing session’ as an extension of our current Homeward Bound series. Threshing meetings emerge from Quaker practice, where the purpose is to make room for uncertainty, discomfort and different voices, without yet seeking consensus, while still maintaining loving and right relationships within a community.
This is an invitation made to the international community that has come together around a school called HOME – and to anyone who is in need of a space to reflect on our shared inheritance of false security and unjust systems.
The session will take place on Monday, 8 June at the same time of day as the regular Thursday sessions of Homeward Bound (20.15 CEST / 19.15 BST / 14.15 EDT / 11.15 PDT) – but this session is also open to guests.
Participation is free. Please register to secure your place and receive the Zoom link for the call.
Read Sara’s essay, ‘From the Darkness’, first published in Dark Mountain: Issue 12.
Preparing for the Session
In preparation, you are invited to take part in a personal exercise of reflection, choosing one of the following exercises:
* Write a letter that begins ‘Dear America’. Make room for the complexity of feelings you may be carrying, the incompleteness and contradiction which is part of being human.
* Take the title of this session ‘When your ancestors are the problem’ and use it as the first line of a poem or a non-linear reflection that has room for different levels of embodied experience, thoughts, feelings, relationship to people, places and the more than human world.
These exercises are not a requirement for participating, but Sara will be inviting some of you to share a short passage from what you have written as part of the session. She would also like to read some of your reflections in advance of the session, so if you are able to, please send them to email@example.com by Sunday afternoon.
Rev. Sara Jolena Wolcott is an elder, student and recognised minister in the Quaker and Judeo-Christian tradition and is carrying Witchy lineages which actively guide her work.
She runs the ecotheology company Sequoia Samanvaya which offers online and offline courses to enable decolonisation and enchanting pathways through the Anthropocene Age. She is also a speaker, writer, artist, healer and acts as an advisor as requested.
She actively collaborates with indigenous-led organisations and black and brown-led organisations. She’s worked and lived in more than ten countries including Kenya, India, England and Indonesia.
She holds an M.Div. degree from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University and an MA in international sustainable development from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, England.