Currents is published monthly by Windhorse Integrative Mental Health of Northampton, 211 North St., Suite 1, Northampton, MA 01060. Executive Director is Victoria Yoshen. For questions, concerns and suggestions about Currents, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bowling on Friday January 22nd, 5:30-8pm at Canal Bowling Lanes
There is a board/finance committee meeting on Thursday, January 21st at 5 – 7 pm.
For more information, contact email@example.com.
Exploring Global Communities through the Arts, Travel, and Social Justice: Profile of Amelia
An Early Passion for the Arts
Born in the town of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Amelia started playing the violin at age 4. As a young child, Amelia aspired to be a country star, and at five-years-old played alongside a country singer at the county fair. She continued to explore music and at the age of 10 she switched from the violin to the cello. She also began studying dance in middle school, which she continued to actively pursue throughout high school. During this time, she studied modern dance and ballet but also took lessons in tap and jazz.
Beginning Travels and Exploration
In high school, Amelia was a Rotary Exchange student and studied in Rome, Italy during her junior year. Life in the bustling big city of Rome was a welcomed change from the small town of Marquette. In Rome, she lived with a loving host family with whom she still keeps in touch. Despite not having studied any Italian before arriving in Rome, Amelia left at the end of the school year fluent. Since her junior year of high school, she has gone back to revisit Italy and her host family a couple times.
Building on a Background of Activism
Growing up, Amelia’s mother was an activist and fighter for justice. By the time Amelia was six-years-old, both of her younger siblings had been diagnosed with Autism. “I grew up in a small isolated community that lacked resources. People didn’t know much about Autism,” she recalled. “Much of my mother’s activism was centered around Autism and her children.” Amelia’s mother was also active in the pro-choice movement, a movement Amelia herself would also become involved in later in life.
As a result of her mother’s influence, Amelia became socially informed early on. “She made me more aware of things politically.” While she was studying in Italy, the war in Iraq was underway. Amelia witnessed huge protests and organized strikes were a regular part of high school in Italy. Studying abroad allowed Amelia the space to be passionate about activism in a way that was inspired by but separate from her mother.
As an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, Amelia continued to be seriously involved in the anti-war movement and other aspects of political activism. She also co-started a campaign to cut the University of Minnesota’s contract with Coca-Cola, the largest exclusive contract of a corporation with an educational institution at that time. During this time, Amelia also worked for NARAL Pro-Choice as a canvasser. A self-described workaholic, Amelia created her own undergraduate major: Art, Social Justice, and Global Studies.
Taking Activism Abroad
Between activism and completing her college studies, Amelia lived in India for just over a semester. She was offered an internship with a small NGO and spent the semester in a very small village. Amelia accepted the internship under the pretense that it would be geared towards women and children, but the NGO didn’t have the resources to be working on those issues at that time. While in India, Amelia experienced several barriers. In addition to being the only English-speaker in her town, she also felt limited by her gender.
Upon returning to the University of Minnesota, Amelia organized the university’s Campus Icarus chapter and began work with The Icarus Project, including the creation of a zine about student mental health. Amelia also began working as a peer advisor at the school’s Career & Community Learning Center. In this role, she facilitated social justice-oriented workshops and guided students in their search for internships and work placements.
Becoming a Part of Local and Global Bike Communities
While in college, Amelia became involved in music again, playing the cello and bass and going on tour around the country. At this time, she also became actively involved in the local bike community and began working at an employee-owned bike shop in Minnesota, The Hub Bike Coop. She began as a sales person determined to work professionally as a mechanic. After a year or so she started working full time in the service department and was offered a position as personnel coordinator. As personnel coordinator, Amelia was charged with writing policies and organizing trainings. She was also the key point person for conflict resolution and employee reviews. “It was challenging but important to my personal and professional development.”
In between work and school, Amelia continued traveling internationally. “I was constantly traveling, mainly in winter,” she recalls. Interested in learning Spanish and working on bikes, Amelia traveled to Guatemala to work at a Guatemalan NGO based in San Andrés Itzapa called Maya Pedal. Maya Pedal accepts donated bikes and either reconditions them, or the components are used to build bicimáquinas (pedal powered machines). She also taught bike mechanic workshops to Women and Trans folks in Minneapolis and in Mexico.
Exploring Self-Care and Care of Others
When Amelia returned to Minnesota from Guatemala in 2010, she became an owner at the bike coop she had previously worked at. She also enrolled in yoga teacher training. “Yoga became my primary exercise of self-care and replaced dance in this way.” In 2011, Amelia started teaching yoga at a studio in St. Paul.
Amelia continued teaching yoga in therapeutic settings, first as a yoga teacher at RECLAIM and later at The Lab School. At RECLAIM, Amelia was part of a team of integrative mental health professionals working with transitional age queer and trans youth. As a member on RECLAIM’S board, Amelia facilitated event planning, fundraising, and policy-writing.
Amelia also taught yoga to youth at The LAB School of St. Paul, working with kids ages 12-18 diagnosed with emotional behavioral disorder. In addition to teaching yoga at The Lab, she also mentored students and co-taught a wellness class.
In 2012, Amelia started Thai massage training at Breitenbush Hot Springs, a worker-owned cooperative in Oregon. After completing multiple trainings in Oregon, she continued studying massage in Thailand and Laos for six weeks.
In October of 2014, Amelia quit being an owner at the bike shop to explore insight meditation, travel in Mexico, and possibilities for grad school. She drove across the country and began a Mindful Yoga and Mediation Teacher Training at Spirit Rock Mediation Center. She returned to Minneapolis and decided to apply to the Smith College School for Social Work.
“The combination of personnel coordinator experience, my work with The Icarus Project, and my role as a peer advisor made me want to pursue being a therapist.” Amelia began her internship with Windhorse in August, integrating her interests in mental health, yoga, and contemplative practice.
When: Mondays 4-5pm through January
Where: Windhorse Library
Facilitated by: Amelia, Samuel, and Cat
An open-minded, accepting, encouraging discussion of the intricacies and complications of dating and relationships.
This group is a great new resource for community members who are exploring for themselves what it means to date and be at Windhorse. Originally a 6-week trial, this group is now being extended through the end of January as a space for community members to discuss dating, sexuality, and/or gender in a community environment.
New Windhorse Website
Our website address, www.windhorseimh.org, now hosts a new look and more delineation of the sites. It is more compatible with mobile devices.
It is also still a work in progress. We would love to hear any feedback, concerns, glitches, enthusiasm… The organization sees it as a marketing tool but also a place to store information about Windhorse, so explore!