This past September, I had the unique opportunity of joining Carnival De Resistance as a Crew Member during its 2016 Minneapolis residency. Professional artists, activists, and community organizers from North and Central America gathered for a month to perform, learn, and live together with the community of Harrison in North Minneapolis. The project, bridging worlds of art, activism, and faith, manifests in three parts: carnival performances, the ecovillage demonstration, and curated community engagement.
A regular day for me involved any combination of rehearsal, teaching classes at an after school center, setting up tents, helping cook in the fossil fuel free kitchen and sharing nourishing meals, discussing cultural appropriation, singing, and soaking in the wisdom of seasoned activists and artists local to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Here's a quote from Restoration Village Arts to get a better idea of the Carnival context:
Often, art is treated as incidental to gatherings, conferences, institutions, movements. Artists are invited to participate for their additions of texture and creative flair-but what happens when art is centered in the struggle for collective liberation?
I'm rewinding in my mind's eye all that was the Carnival De Resistance in Minneapolis and I smell firewood, taste local squash, kale, and oatmeal, feel grass and mud on my feet, the heat of lit poi, sooth on my hands, I hear drums and movement to and from tents, and I see 30+ people and the light they carry, a lively yard colored with flags, curtains, silly but profound games and sideshows, tents, painted faces of all ages, and I feel the adrenaline in the choreography and music where the clown oppressors are overthrown in Stay On the Battlefield.
The Carnival De Resistance is an embodiment of what is sacred in ceremony, storytelling, advocacy rooted in faith, and a physicalized experiment in living in a new way that heals our relationship to the Earth and each other. It inspired wonder in me to be in an immersive project where performance and community building all happened under the umbrella of a creative space where healing permeated the hearts of many.