Shape or Be Shaped
2018 for me is all about reclaiming narratives. “Shape or be shaped” says Octavia Butler in her afro-futurism novel, Parable of the Sower. As it is with our narratives of cultural difference, diversity, identity, society, science and the intersections between; either we choose to shape them or they will shape us.
I recently gave a talk on using science as a tool for liberation and was asked to further define liberation. In that moment I realized, simply, liberation is the power to choose. To choose our stories and be witnessed for doing so. However, in order to realize this power we need tools. In my work and training I’ve come to find mindfulness and contemplative practices to be paramount to finding the power to choose, bear witness and shape narratives.
My on going research is on how to develop technologies that facilitate these feelings of liberation. When I was a graduate student studying electrical engineering I began to wonder about the purpose of technology. How not just the end product was helping society but also how the process of developing it helped our personal growth as scientists. These questions lead me to the world of mindfulness and I began to study at the Boulder Shambhala Center and collaborate with folks at Naropa University. As I began to crack myself open and investigate the universe from within I realized the similarities between mindfulness and the scientific method. Both are tools of exploration used for understanding and navigating. One deals with the external world and the other the internal. However, by using both we have the capability of transforming the way we engage with ourselves, others and the environment.
My journey of understanding myself in relationship to the external world has drawn me further into social justice and community organizing. Permaculture, a regenerative design paradigm, was my portal into using systems thinking with collective organizing around food justice. Now I’m ready to bring my work full circle; combining science, equity, sustainability and mindfulness.
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Kendra is the founder of 4Love+Science and works as a Science and Community Consultant