Here, I am honored to share words and story from an incredibly special human being. Kate is rooted, resilient, absolutely brilliant. Her depth of care and curiosity is the real medicine of these times, as she shares her heart and opens space for some of today's most necessary conversations through her channel of compassion, Loam. In her listening and in her creativity, Kate is truly and literally creating space for each of us to bloom where we are planted. Read on for sentence after sentence of expansive wisdom.
What environment did you grow up in? How has that place (or places) impacted where you are today?
I grew up in a suburb of New York just north of the city. People give suburbanites a hard time, but the older I get, the more I appreciate the community that I come from! In so many senses, suburbs are liminal spaces, and I feel like growing up where I grew up was good practice in learning how to walk between worlds. It taught me how to search for, and seek out, beauty: to see past the strip malls & highways & dense downtown to find the slivers of wildness and wilderness surrounding.
When I reflect on the environment I grew up in, I have a lot of sweet memories of soaking up special places with the people that I loved. My parents gave my older brother and me so much freedom to explore outside as well as were immensely supportive in inspiring us to nurture our own relationship to nature. From elementary school through high school, we went to (and later taught at) a nature-based educational program in this deciduous forest just past a massive web of roads. Being able to dive into this world that was both embedded in the suburbs and separate from it was such a gift. It gave me a container to connect to mentors who fostered my love of gardening, herbalism, and walking in the woods, as well as who modeled (and continue to model for me!) a radical way of relating to the Earth.
I also grew up in an environment that was very diverse—socioeconomically, ethnically, culturally—and that has influenced the work that I do in countless ways. I feel shaped by place, but I also feel shaped by people: by the many artists and activists and educators I was lucky to learn from as a kid. My theory of change is interwoven into multiplicity, and that hunger to make space for multiple perspectives & practices stems from my upbringing.
What is your work?
I’m the Founder and Creative Director of Loam as well as the Community Director of Loam Home. Loam is a community organization that creates regenerative media and curates immersive experiences that support environmental justice, creative advocacy, and resilience. Loam Home is a branch of Loam devoted to building a bricks & mortar community center. With COVID, our vision for Loam Home has had to evolve, but when it’s safe to gather together again, we hope Loam Home can be a supportive hub for community connection and conversation. Living through the Anthropocene is heartbreaking, and creating spaces—in-person and in print—is so critical to helping us cultivate our capacity to meet this moment.
At its core, my work in the world is to collaborate, curate, nourish, and support. I’m passionate about weaving together threads with & from my community to co-create new narratives. We live in this moment that is simultaneously painful and possibility-rich: what can we do to spark a culture shift? To dismantle white supremacy? To seed regeneration? These are just some of the questions that I hope to explore the (many) answers to in conversation with my community.
What ignites your spirit to soar?
Good conversations with close friends, juicy creative collaborations, and taking daily walks reliably energize my spirit. I feel most alive when I am creating something with someone that I adore (I do not like going it alone!) Loam co-editor Kailea Frederick of Earth Is 'Ohana is one of my most constant collaborators and any project we are tending to is always spiritually nourishing. I really lucked out with having so many amazing people in my life who are down to dream, write, and work together.
What creative endeavors do you feel drawn to at this time?
Weaving as a practice is really inspiring me right now. My friend James Davis taught me how to weave last year in the spirit of true generosity and I’ve found myself returning to my loom again and again to work on projects. None of these projects have seen the light of day yet because I’m remarkably technically unskilled but the process of weaving in and of itself is so restorative! And I think part of nurturing our inner child, of coming home to our imperfect self, is doing the things we’re “bad” at because the doing brings us joy. Not even my mother is going to think one of my weavings is beautiful, but getting to be in that place of learning, creation, and composition is healing. On the cusp of collapse, finding moments of flow truly is life-giving.
In so many ways, I think my work in the world is to weave, and that’s always been my path. Since I was a child, I’ve loved reading, listening to, and learning from others: soaking up stories gives me life! I don’t have many original ideas, but I do have a passion to perceive connections, to notice relationships, across realms. And I think that’s what weaving is: working with pre-existing threads to co-create a new vision. When you’re weaving, you’re working with.
I also feel drawn right now to cooking. Cooking is such a luscious, creative endeavor, and with so many in my community struggling, I want to make nourishing & beautiful meals that feed people spiritually and physically. Whether it’s by blending herbal teas to support with respiratory health during wildfire season or making nutty, fudgy brownies crowned with edible blooms from my garden to inject pure pleasure into a difficult day, I’m relishing the creative challenge of how to nourish community when what that looks like has radically changed in the face of pandemic.
How have you learned to tap into your inner guidance? Do you have any rituals or practices today for doing so?
I’m still learning how to tap into my inner guidance! But something that has helped me to distinguish between deeper knowing and wishful thinking is trusting that the truth comes to me without an emotional charge. If something is really rocking me—maybe I feel unsure where to go from here or how to navigate a sticky situation— I’ll talk to my friends and family for their insight. I’ll journal and just get out all of the feels onto the page. And once I’ve absorbed everything that I can, I’ll create the time to integrate. This can look like meditation, or crying, or taking a bath. It can look like going for an aimless walk. But these moments of integration are a critical part in the process of coming home to myself—who I am, and how I want to show up for our world.
When I sit still and breathe deep, I can sometimes discover where I’m being guided. What I need to do next might be painful and it might be uncomfortable, but what emerges in that quiet is almost always clarity of purpose.
As part of deepening my capacity to tap into my inner guidance, I practice deepening my capacity to support my friends, family, and creative collaborators in connecting to their own inner knowing. I try to support them in working through issues & help them develop creative projects that are close to their hearts. For me, so much of tuning into my inner guidance is actually about getting out of my head and back into compassionate, caring relationship with the people & places I love.
What does “Beauty” mean to you?
Beauty to me isn’t fixed. It’s a fluid state of being and of relating. Beauty is inhabiting your body with gratitude and groundedness, as well as living in relationship to self, to community, to our climate, with deep respect and tenderness. The beauty rituals in my life—oiling my skin, harvesting edible flowers from my little container gardens—are fundamentally about presence and paying attention. How can I be present to what’s emerging? How can I honor the beauty and the pain? How can I hold everything—the decomposition and regeneration, the unraveling and reimagining—with love?
⊹ ❖ ⊹
Order your copy of Compassion in Crisis here! This heartfelt book braids together interviews with survivors of climate disaster and resources on disaster preparedness to provide our community with an accessible guide to resilience and regeneration in the Anthropocene.