Keeping The Gift of Thrive East Bay Alive

Dear Friends,

Warm summer greetings!

My name is Gabriela Hylton Garza. I’m honored to serve as the Fire Keeper of the Thrive East Bay Stewardship Circle and as a co-facilitator of our Thriving Life Circle.

When I walked into my first Thrive East Bay event a year and a half ago, I immediately fell head over heels in love with the radiant people, vibrant music, and loving energy. I knew I wanted to get involved, not only to support the development of this unique community, but also to spend quality time with the dynamic leadership teams. They are who I want to become in this world: fiercely passionate, community-oriented, and dedicated to personal and group transformation.

I had been protective of my dreams, fears, and accomplishments, only sharing the intimacies of my life with my mother. I was terrified that if people knew who I really was, they would reject me and no longer share their love. I have come to realize I didn’t know who I was, but with the loving, tender support from the beloved Thrive East Bay community, I have begun to remember my power, my wisdom, and my purpose.

Thrive East Bay has become my home. A place where I feel completely seen, heard, valued, and cherished. A place for me to share my tears, my laughter, my joy, my grief, my love. I never knew people could open their hearts and welcome others into their lives so fully that we have become an incredible family dedicated to authentic connection, endless support, and co-creating a world where everyone is able to thrive.

As we celebrate our 2 year anniversary this month, I would like to invite you to help keep the gift of the Thrive East Bay community alive by making a meaningful financial contribution today.

We heal and transform together. Thank you for supporting this community and helping us spread the love further!

With Deep Appreciation,

Gabriela & all of the Thrive East Bay Team

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A Season of Growth and Possibility

Dear Friends,

We're writing to share some exciting updates and to invite your support in helping Thrive East Bay grow!

As we approach our two-year anniversary, we are inspired by how much we have accomplished together:

  • 20 large community events with over 2500 participants, featuring some of the most respected artists, poets, and social change leaders of our time. 
  • Small group circles that have gathered every month as a way for people from diverse backgrounds to learn & grow together.
  • The Thrive Choir opening our hearts and uplifting our spirits at every Sunday event, and sharing their musical gift on stages across the Bay.
  • Hosting our first Thrive Course on the science & skills of human flourishing, and launching our new monthly Root Down event to strengthen ourselves as a community of practice.

All of this has happened with a tremendous amount of love & service, with limited funding, and through the generosity of people like you who care deeply about social change and community.

Looking to the year ahead, we're excited for Thrive East Bay to grow in a number of ways:

  • Deepening our Sunday events and expanding our online livestreaming
  • Launching a membership model to support financial sustainability & community engagement
  • Developing an online tool that shares the gifts & resources of our community members
  • Supporting local movements & actions with the Thrive Street Choir
  • Hosting community-led workshops on singing, restorative justice, collective liberation, health & well-being, and more
  • Offering the first, second, and third intensives of the Thrive Course
  • Developing closer partnerships with aligned organizations & movements

Your generous financial support can keep the gift of this community alive. Help support the Thrive East Bay community by making a meaningful, tax-deductible contribution today. 

In this summer of growth and possibility, we're grateful to be building a world together where all life and people can flourish!

With love & gratitude,
AddieRose, Armando, Aryeh, Cherine, David, Duncan, Gabriela, Jean, Joshua, Kyle, Rajiv, and all the Thrive East Bay team

Members of the Thrive East Bay Stewardship Circle and Community Leaders Circle

Members of the Thrive East Bay Stewardship Circle and Community Leaders Circle

Where is the Heart in the Climate Justice Movement? Where is the music?

Technologies of the Mind and Technologies of the Heart

We’ve all read the numbers, and heard the forecast: 350 ppm of carbon, 3 meters of sea level rise, or 3 degrees Celsius. These numbers buzz around our heads today as Trump announced his decision to pull the USA out of the Paris Agreement. Billions around the world are angry, even Americans are shocked by the blatant denial of sound science.

I am a student of science, a firm and well trained believer. I’ve been working for climate and environmental justice think tanks and grassroots organizations for my entire career. I’ve buried my head in the stacks. I’ve published policy reports. But I am wondering what impact those reports have had, those reports on complex local forestry management climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, are they even useful at the negotiating table? And what do the numbers on the page inspire in the 300 million Americans who may or may not read about them at all?

Especially in this moment of great fear, knowing that the average American (including our own President) does not read scientific reports, what compels me to go to work every day and fight for climate justice?

The movement. The movement does not rise from the mind, from analysis. The movement is supported by science - and sometimes stands in the name of science itself - as we saw with the unprecedented March for Science a few weeks ago. We must honor and respect the knowledge science gives us in helping us to better understand the world we live in and the damage we are doing to it.

But I’m still left with the question: if we have known the science of climate change for years, why have we not moved the needle? The science tells us we need to act now in order to avoid catastrophe, in order to ensure a liveable climate for our great grandchildren. Why then are we not compelled to truly change, to throw ourselves into the fire of action?

The task of tackling climate change has been too often confined to men in suits with security clearance passing data back and forth. More and more I am looking beyond the theories of change, to cultures of change and the recipes for sustaining and mobilizing good culture in service to a just and sustainable world.

This is what is potentially so exciting about the climate justice movement: the time when scientists and social justice warriors have equal reason to join as one team. It requires technologies of the heart to move a nation.

After all, the climate crisis is a spiritual crisis. As Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee writes in his book Spiritual Ecology, “Our collective forgetfulness of the sacred in creation is beginning to have an effect as irreversible and catastrophic as climate change. In fact one could say that this outer, physical predicament is a reflection of an inner catastrophe - a catastrophe that is even more disastrous because we remain unaware of it.”

The solution, therefore, must be foundational at the root of our cosmology, our ontology, how we see our self in relationship with each other and all beings. When looking to progressive social movements over the past one hundred years, I notice one through-line, one technology that sustained them all - the spiritual technology of music. 
 

The Call for Movement Music of the 21st Century

What awakens the spirit of every man, woman and child more than music?

The Industrial workers of the early 1900s changed the words of well-recognized hymns to sustain them in the picket line. The champions of the civil rights movement used song to lift people’s spirit and develop common language for resistance. Woodie Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Marvin Gaye, Joan Baez, Sweet Honey and the Rock, all wrote songs of freedom that the people still sing. We even still sing “Old Lang Syne,” the songs of wars come and gone. The Climate Justice movement in the US is largely missing this culture, missing the song leaders.

Where are the songs that help us feel this crisis in our bones? What are the songs about the rising tides, the drought that came and stayed, the last river dolphin? Where are the songs of the murderous heat wave, the trees that forgot when to flower, the winter without snow? Where are the songs of when we removed a mountain for a lump of coal, the legends of when we became more powerful than geology itself?

What are our songlines in this time of climate chaos - the songs that call us to battle and navigate us to peace, the chants that bind us together, the lyrics our great grandchildren will still utter, if not our own names?
 

There is a Role for your VOICE in this Movement

I’ve been a singer my whole life, but that’s largely been confined to the evenings, doing gigs after sunset when I get back from work at this nonprofit or the next. But I’ve started to sing in the daylight, singing as work itself, eliminating the distinction between work and play, between performance and ceremony.

When I was growing up I dreamed of starting a pan-spiritual, non-denominational gospel choir, because harmony is healing on it's own, regardless of the words sung. I didn’t think people would have it. But through a series of invitations I started the Thrive Choir to sing the music that reconnects as a way to make scientific and systemic truths felt in the heart. In just two years we have written and performed original gospel-for-social-change for thousands of people all over California, not in service to one God but to the social justice movements catalyzing the Great Turning of our times, that includes your God(s) and mine.

We started Thrive to build a heart-centered movement, to build resilience through building community and to build community through embodying love in action. This is not a closed-doors kind of love, a love between two. It is an unconditional and inclusive Love that binds us together through difference, complementarity and curiosity in mystery - the love for our planet, for our common home, the love that knows Climate Justice as Creation Justice. The love that beckons no other response but rising as one.

The Thrive Choir and I did a little experiment at the Women’s march in Oakland, the day after the Inauguration. We walked through the streets, through the soft buzzing of people chatting, reading the many signs from all the voices under threat, including those who will be threatened with climate change. The thousands of us were physically together, but we were not walking as one. Where was the energy at the march, the pulse binding us together?

When we heard the drumming circle in a far off corner, I felt the tug. I called our Choir to meet there, and we spontaneously assembled and started singing movement songs over the drums. The drum leader quieted the drums to a soft pulse so the singers could be heard. The momentum took off at that moment, and the people came in swarms, providing the catalyst for unity as we led the masses in songs of hope and resistance.

So this week we are formally launching the Thrive Street Choir. Hundreds of women and men across the Bay Area have already signed up to sing the world alive, to use their voices as a blockade, to lift up the resistance at the airport, at the border, on the fracking fields, and the pipeline corridors. We are learning a repertoire of movement songs in three part harmony and are ready to show up loudly at an action near you.
 

Repairing our movement culture with music

I no longer see my music as separate from my environmental work, because deep ecology work is cultural work and culture is cast through music. I have often wondered what my place is in this movement. I respect and admire my friends who say stop, no. For whom resistance comes easy. There is a critical place in this movement for the arguers, the challengers, but this has never been authentic to my spirit. I am by nature a listener, a harmonizer, and I’ve come to see how there is a role is in the movement for that.

There is a role in the Climate Justice movement for those who write the songs of matrimony after a long and invisible divorce, the battle cries that wake us out of a long sleep that was bought for us. As a Jew, to pray is to sing and we become initiated into noble service through song.

There is a role for those us who feel the urgency but do not easily identify as resisters, who feel the call but don’t know the words to say. There is a role in the movement for the sweet lovers of the world. For Climate Justice at its root is love, harboring an unquenchable love for the world, enough to steward what we love and dare I say revere this world, kiss the ground that has given us everything we’ve ever touched or known.
 

Making a Street Choir of the United Nations

I have and will continue to write my share of environmental policy papers. I will keep my mind sharp and discerning. I will not fall dumb when the arguments said in the mouths of the electorate are the words of the oil baron ventriloquist. I have and will continue to represent the underserved in my advocacy, in my work with NGOs.

But I would like to extend the invitation to all those, like me, who would rather say yes than to say no. Who would like to sing in the new dawn as the old world comes crashing down. Who, as fear tries to separate us, join in harmony on the streets. For song is one of the only original instructions that extends to all of humanity.

This is why I plan to travel to Germany this year for COP23, the annual climate change international policy process. Alongside a delegation of young Americans, I hope to bring a different American voice, the voice of the majority of us in favor of planetary accord.  And at the UN, song may be the only language people of all nations can speak in. My prayer is to join with my relatives from Micronesia, from Nepal, from South Africa in spontaneous ceremony. To grieve together, to pray together, to join our noble purposes as one. I want to sing in that choir of all beings. I want to hear the climate justice battle cries in all languages, at this unique point of convergence and collective unraveling, collective responsibility.

This is only one day among many to come. Trump is pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement, the historic international agreement decades in the making signed by over 200 nations. And this is the moment to sound our voices as one. Trump will not read the policy papers, the op-eds submitted in defense of Paris. What he can’t avoid is the groundswell of our culture, and the blaring sound of our voice.

Harmony begets solidarity, its physics require it.

Kyle Lemle is a singer-songwriter, co-director of the Thrive East Bay Choir, and a founder of the new Thrive Street Choir based in Oakland, CA. He is also a tree planter and community-based natural resource management professional with experience working for international and grassroots NGOs from Bhutan to Thailand to California. He is an inaugural recipient of the Spiritual Ecology Fellowship, through which he is working on a project to melt down weapons into shovels to use in ceremonial tree plantings at sites of violence and sacred sites. He can be reached at kyle@thriveeastbay.org.

A New Kind Of Community Is Singing Our World Alive

Thrive East Bay is a new kind of community relevant for the 21st century. We bring people together at the intersections of personal and social transformation. Imagine a hybrid of a religious & civic association 2.0: informed by modern science and ancient wisdom, infused with a deep sense of purpose and interconnectedness, inspired by the arts and focused on social change. 

 

At the center of our events is the music and singing of the Thrive East Bay Choir, who has been called "a heart-opening, soul-stirring source of beauty in our world." Their music is a fusion of gospel, soul, funk, folk, & more - and provides people with an emotionally grounded and hopeful response to the challenges we face in this time.

 

As the Thrive East Bay community grows and as the Choir is invited to perform more widely, we are ready to invest in our own sound system and to record an EP album so the gift of our music can live on in our daily lives and be shared with wider audiences.

 

Check out the "Singing Our World Alive" crowdfunding campaign and watch our Short Video to learn more. 

 

If you’re inspired by their singing and purpose like so many of us, help amplify the power of this music & community by making a contribution and sharing their story with others.

 

Thanks for your consideration & for your own personal commitment to uplifting our world!

 

With gratitude,

the Thrive East Bay team

www.thriveeastbay.org/crowdfund