From 2015-2019, Casitas Wisdom ran as a collective with the beautiful contributions of various folks. As we have physically transitioned to different parts of country and begun new journeys, the work of Casitas Wisdom now continues on in a variety of ways. We have loved being in healing community with you for all of these years!
ROOTS & VISION
In the 70’s and 80’s, Boricuas (Puerto Ricans) throughout NYC built gardens and small houses called casitas on neglected lots. These community spaces evoked the spirit of the Caribbean and became cultural centers and havens. Inspired by this history, Casitas Wisdom co creates learning/healing spaces where people can be creative, tell stories, and share the knowledge we carry in our memories and bodies. This is a political act of love and survival.
The strength, resilience, and resourcefulness of our communities
Our communities have all the intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual knowledge we need to heal ourselves and fight against oppression
The ancient and modern wisdom of our communities and share this legacies with our peoples
WHO WE ARE + WHAT WE DO
We are a crew that identifies as people of color (POC) and queer and trans people of color (QTPOC). Our ancestral lineages are rooted throughout the world.
We honor the resilience and healing of our peoples by offering free to low-cost workshops in a variety of healing modalities. These gatherings have taken place in homes and community gardens throughout NYC.
Casitas Wisdom was started by Myrna Cabán Lezcano in 2014 in response to the lack of affordable healing spaces led and for Boricuas & queer and trans people of color. She ran a series of free skillshares out of her home with the support of teachers and healers in her community. In 2015, this work shifted into being lead by our Guiding Group (read more about the group below).
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT CASITAS?
Photo of Casita Rincón Criollo at 157th Street and Brook Avenue
Photo of Guiding Group (Melinda, Jennifer, Gerard, Claudia & Myrna: L to R)
FORMER GUIDING GROUP
Myrna Cabán Lezcano is a queer Boricua herbalist, educator and cultural organizer. Her medicinal offerings can be found at Flor y Machete and @florymachete. Myrna grew up eating mangos and being doused in Agua Florida. Her elders inspired her to connect to Spirit and healing by growing gandules, raising chickens, making dream-based predictions, and singing spontaneous songs. Myrna studied spiritual herbalism through Sacred Vibes Apothecary's Apprentice Program. She completed a year-long yoga & healer training through Shambhala Yoga & Dance as well as Brooklyn Botanic Garden's urban gardener program. In 2014, as she was moving through her healing journey, she couldn't find public and accessible healing spaces led by Boricuas/QTIPOC folks. As a result, she opened up her home in Flatbush Brooklyn and began hosting free/low cost healing + learning circles. This work transformed into the founding of Casitas Wisdom.
Melinda González is a Brooklyn original, born and raised in East Flatbush. She is a community artist who promotes healing and self-expression through Afro Puerto Rican Bomba, a synergy of elements drumming, singing and dance. Melinda is co-founder of BombaYo, an intergenerational bomba ensemble. Melinda’s healing journey includes explorations in holistic skincare, plant/herb based remedies, massage therapy and gardening. She is currently training in Meridian Touch Yoga and has received Reiki training.
Jennifer Lopez - “So let us be tender with one another. Let us foster a spirit of vulnerability that cultivates the willingness to risk imagining otherwise, that values the resilience needed to carry the burden of our collective longings.” Jennifer read those words by Juana Maria Rodriguez a few years ago and she’s still thinking about it, yo. She knows our bodies be knowin and so she’s continuing to learn how to listen to her intuition. The daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, Jennifer grew up in the South Bronx where platanos, salsa, and bachata taught her some of her first lessons about love, family, home, and history. She believes in the power of storytelling and writing to flesh out how our experiences shape our bodies and the ways we want to love and be loved.
Gerard Miller is a Black nonbinary/agender queer native of Baltimore with roots in rural Maryland and North Carolina. They grew up surrounded by the Elders: both grandmothers and their siblings, 2 great-
grandmothers, and a great-great grandmother, Mothers of the Church, and others in their wider community. Service of others, investment in self, and connection to Spirit through Nature and people have been foundational principles in their development. Gerard is interested in honoring and sustaining Ancestral legacies through movement, stories, crafts, and earthways; believing that our modes of survival can guide us to a prosperous future. Central to their vision is amplifying the voices and experiences of the most marginalized folx in society, reflecting their own African and Indigenous heritage and their queer identity. Working with performance, plant medicine, and storykeeping/-telling, they hope to integrate the parts of the 7-pointed star: the World Above, the World Beneath, the World Around Us, and the World Within.
Claudia Navas es Nicaragüense and calls Miami Beach home. She believes in the powers of the moon, sun, salt, and herbs. As an educator, farmer/gardener, and composter, she feels most grounded and empowered with her hands in the soil. She pours her heart into growing and preserving vegetables, fruit, roots, and flowers. A lover of all things food, she is pursuing a master's degree in foodsystems particularly as it relates to migrant & immigrant labor. Her hope is to be in healing community with those that call for social and environmental justice and an end to oppression.
SUPPORTERS + FORMER CORE MEMBERS
We thank our community below for supporting us in a variety of ways - from being advisors, to creating our first website, to being former core members:
Gabriela Alvarez, Padmini, Dionne Lee, Natalie Peart, Natalie Sablon, Adaku Utah, Jane LiZhen Wang
IN OUR COLLECTIVE SPACES WE WILL:
Design healing spaces as places of safety, compassion questioning, learning and critical thinking through the lense of love
Fight for the liberation of our people from racism and the intersections of oppression by reconnecting to our ancestral practices and reclaiming space
Include folks from our communities who come from varying backgrounds and growing points of view
Engage in open conversation with folks in our space around topics and issues that we are still learning about and working through
Use accessible language and breakdown/explain terminology
Acknowledge our own complex histories, layers, and emotions
Embrace the honest and best intentions of each one who joins the learning journey
Respect the natural environment and honor Madre Tierra - Mother Earth
Act from a space of Love & Compassion
MADE POSSIBLE WITH THE SUPPORT OF CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR NEW YORK CITY
SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2016: 2:00-4:00 PM
SPRING SENSUALITY SKILLSHARE
Spring has arrived and our bodies are waking up from winter’s hibernation. Honor the call of spring by exploring your sensuality and coming alive in the body through the senses.
What makes you feel filled with creative and erotic power? In this workshop, we will use meditation, herbs, and movement to dream up our most sensual selves and invoke magic to call it into being. Please bring an item or picture that awakens your creative and sensual power for the communal altar.
Jackson Heights, Queens (address provided upon registration)
$5 - 10 sliding scale; no-one turned away for lack of funds
SUNDAY, JANUARY 24, 2016: 2:00 - 4:00 PM
WINTER BALANCE: CREATING NOURISHING KITCHEN ALTARS
($5-10 sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds)
THIS SKILLSHARE SPACE IS DESIGNED FOR: People of Color or Mixed Race folks who identify as Queer, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, Genderqueer and Cisgender Women of Color who fall anywhere on the sexual orientation continuum.
LOCATION: Near Church Ave & 18th St in Brooklyn. Q train Church Ave stop (address provided upon registration). Elevator in building but entrance not wheelchair accessible.
Learn how to create an altar in your kitchen for intentional nourishment and winter balance!
Winter is traditionally a time when the body can rest from the radiant energies that infuse the warmer seasons. This is a restorative period when you plant the seeds that will grow in spring and summer. Drawing from the wisdom of crystal healing and herbalism, we will learn about the components of a kitchen altar that invoke vital balancing qualities in the food we prepare. You will walk away from this winter workshop with your own herbal packet & kitchen altar recipe.
BRING: AN ITEM THAT REPRESENTS NOURISHMENT FOR A COMMUNAL ALTAR ACTIVITY
ESTE ESPACIO ES DISEÑADO PARA: Gente de color -- afro, afro latinxs, indigenxs, mestizxs; gente arabe, asiaticx, raza mixta, etc. que tambien se identifican como Gay, Bisexual, Transgenero y Mujeres Cisgénero que se identifican con cualquier orientación sexual.
Para leer mas sobre términos arriba: goo.gl/HIwO9U
Aprende como crear un altar para tu cocina que refleja tus intenciones para nutrición sana y balanceada durante el invierno!
El invierno es la época de descanso y nuestro tiempo para empezar a sembrar semillas que crecerán en la primavera y el verano. Usaremos piedras curativas y plantas medicinales para diseñar un altar que nos inspirará a preparar comidas nutritivas. Al final de este taller tendras una receta para tu propio altar de la cocina y una bolsita de plantas medicinales.
PORFAVOR TRAER ALGO QUE REPRESENTE ALIMIENTO Y SANACIÓN PARA UNA ACTVIDAD COLECTIVA
SUNDAY, JUNE 14 , 2015 @BLACK WOMEN'S BLUEPRINT in collaboration with HARRIET'S APOTHECARY
SURVIVAL TOOLKITS FOR THE NON-PROFIT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
IN THIS REFLECTIVE, INTERACTIVE LAB, WE WILL DESIGN AND CRAFT OUR OWN UNIQUE TOOLKITS TO SURVIVE THE WOES AND MICROAGRESSIONS OF NONPROFIT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX SHENANIGANS
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ATTENDED AND SPECIAL SHOUT-OUT TO SISTERS FROM SISTER CIRCLE COLLECTIVE FOR JOINING US.
Vibrant Herbal Juices & Sassy Syrups
Learn to make healing herbal juices that will leave your body wanting thirsting for more. Create delicious herbal syrups that can be used for cooking, baking, mocktails, teas - anything that you may want to sweeten in your life! We will drink juice made with 3 kinds of herbs and walk away with a small jar of herbal syrup!
Soap Making Demonstration
A beginner's introduction to soap making using the Cold Process Soap method. See how luscious soaps are made. Chat about recipe formulation, learn the difference between fragrances and essentials oils, and discuss safety guidelines & equipment.
If you'd like to purchase a soap made with the same process, they'll be available for $5.
Learn how to make all natural lotion using a blender, essential oils, beeswax and coconut oil. Your skin will thank you. Everyone will get a small jar of lotion to take home. $3 to participate. No one turned away for lack of funds.
Freedom in Meditation
Thich Nhat Hanh wrote that "peace is every step." How do we arrive at a place where our every action is a compassionate meditation? In many ways, the path begins with finding comfort in stillness. This workshop explores meditation as a sanctuary of kindness that we can create for our selves, each and every day. We will re-imagine meditation, explore a few different approaches (or techniques) and do a guided practice. All levels welcome.
Salt Scrubs & Herbal/Flower Face Steams
Be your own skin potion alchemist by creating scrubs and steam treatments to hydrate your skin, boost circulation, and bring renewal. Your skin is your largest organ, so show it some extra love!
Join members of Casitas Wisdom for a hands-on workshop that will uplift the legacy of New York City's casitas as community healing spaces. Using plants directly from the garden and from Puerto Rico, we will learn about medicinal plants and create herbal body care items that help us feel renewed and grounded.