Wholistic Community


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding an initiative to strengthen a “Wholistic Community” for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, through their Culture of Health Leaders (COHL) Program.  COHL is a three-year leadership development program in which an individual from a community is chosen to  develop and implement a strategic initiative to “build a culture of health” in their community. RWJF offers a small budget of $35,000 for the implementation. Florentina Ramirez Staigers began the COHL program in October 2017 and over the next couple of years she worked with Dahlia El-Shafei, and Haiyan Khan to develop a vision of strengthening a community of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color interested in connecting individual healing practices and collective liberation. The Women’s Center for Healing and Transformation is a strong supporter and the fiscal sponsor. Other partners include the POC-led organizations Santosha Village and Radiance Retreat Center.

What is “Wholistic Community”?

“Wholistic Community” starts from a place of knowing that we are already whole. It is a community that recognizes the interconnectedness of society, nature, and all beings in order to heal individual and collective suffering, especially as it manifests in the form of racial, gender, and other forms of oppression rooted in a sense of separateness.

Why is it needed?

There is a need to build upon existing efforts and bring together people who understand a wholistic view of healing and justice. Healing spaces often do not address a context of racial oppression and collective suffering, while justice spaces often lack commitment to self-care and healing. We can create a micro-system that acknowledges racial disparities and white supremacy and values indigenous and ancestral beliefs and healing practices.

What will it look like?

We are bringing together a group of twelve BIPOC individuals who are interested in building wholistic community and lifting up ancestral and alternative practices of healing such as, but not limited to, stillness, movement, plant medicine, art, and ritual. A stipend will be provided to participate in a 6-month program where we will connect with each other and different healing practices, and develop a plan to offer practices and services to a chosen community that is currently not being served by our systems.

The six-month program will include a commitment to participate in the following:

  • Weekend healing retreat (Date TBA, expected late January, early February 2020. No “work” will be done at this retreat. It is a time for us to be in stillness and connection with each other.)
  • 6-Week community-building program (2 hour commitment each week starting after the healing retreat and ending by 3/27/2020. We are asking applicants to provide availability so we can decide what works best for everyone.)
  • Developing and offering a workshop/session on alternatives to healing to a community impacted by institutional racism (April – June 2020)
  • Supporting other participant’s workshops/sessions by spreading the word via social media and attending their events (Optional, but strongly encouraged, April – June 2020)
  • We have estimated that the 6-week program and the workshop are about a 30-hour time commitment, and will offer a stipend of $1500 to each participant that fulfills these commitments (in addition to the value/pricelessness of the healing retreat). Please note, participants may choose to accept the stipend in full, in part, or decline the stipend. (If an invited participant declines the funds or desires only partial funding, the funds will be used towards allowing additional applicants into the group, up to 15 participants).

How can you be part of the effort?

If this intention resonates with you, please spread the word about our info session and application. If you are interested in applying, please do! Finally, if you would like to add the name of your org/business to our list of partners, please send us a logo with a short description on how your work aligns with “wholistic community.”

Applications will be open from October 18, 2019 through November 10, 2018 (11:59PM). Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by December 9th.
Apply here!

Message for applicants who applied before 10/22 —- Deep apologies, but we were unable to capture the email addresses of the form responses of anyone who applied before 10/22/2019. We have rectified the issue. But if you applied before 10/22, please send me an email via the contact form at https://insight-outdevelopment.com/support/ and add some details of what you included in your application along with your name and contact information in order for us to match them. And/or you can also email dahlia.elshafei@ the google mail (gmail.com). Thanks!