About

Your opportunity to support us

With your generous contribution, we will reach our goal of raising $5000 to create an educational performance telling the story of our community’s experiences with violence, prisons and policing. Your $10 donation will buy stamps to send postcards directly from audience participants to incarcerated members of our community. Your $100 donation will help pay for a teen artist’s stipend. Your $500 donation will turn into a poetry chapbook to be sent to prisoners and an audio compilation of stories and songs by community members living in the crossfire.

Our Story

Over five years ago, a group of organizers, artists, community folk, and members of the SpiritHouse family began using poetry, art and performance to talk about the ways violence, prison and policing had seeped into our homes, our work, our schools and even our trips to the grocery store. We began dreaming about what a community founded in love would look like, with the understanding that no one gets thrown away. We began building spaces where our physical, emotional and spiritual needs could be shared and be met, moving our desires into practice. For example, we established a system of mutual care where any member of our community could send out an email or text that simply said “I’m sick”, and we responded with a phone call and organized a list of who is available and what they could provide.

Sharing food, political education and healing sessions in our living rooms came easily (most times). And the use of art to help ground our visions was natural. We had used it for years as survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, gang affiliated youth, displaced families, drug dependent individuals and those trying to heal fractured families and communities.

Exploring questions, like the one posed by Asha Bandele in “The Subtle Art of Breathing”- “how do we learn to love… in pieces and public installments,” became our next task. We read, discussed and performed her work as well as pieces written by Audre Lorde and June Jordan. We lifted up the voices of Black women with the courage to speak, because as Mama Audre said “Our silence will not protect us.” With this solid foundation we moved on to writing and performing personal truths. We shared stories about ourselves, our sisters, our fathers, brothers and lovers, labeled offenders continually spinning through the revolving doors of a criminal justice system created to keep people in cages. Each performance brought tears and gratitude from community members who found pieces of themselves in our stories.

One 50-year old man at a performance in Oakland, California shared a personal story about there never being enough time to visit his incarcerated mother when he was a boy. “We’d visit her and then have to travel 50 or 60 miles to go visit my uncle who was also in prison.” Fighting tears he talked about the “little bit of soul” she placed in every letter she sent” and how he still has them all today. Finally he thanked us, “I didn’t know why I was coming to this workshop this morning,” he said, “I’m just glad that I did.”

Mostly rehearsing in living rooms or spaces donated by organizations who understand how vital this work is, and always performing for free, this gift of sharing has touched people of all ages, race, gender identifications, sexual orientations and ability levels. What a blessing it has been to be a part of this bunch of creative Durhamites whose impact is vibrating around the world.

“Rebellious kisses wake

we children of the sun dancing fire

freedom blooming red.”

Serena Sebring

The Impact

The next phase of this project will be an interactive community performance and audio and visual arts installation called “Collective Sun,” that shares stories of resilience, hope and joy, and reminds us to love one another in “pieces and public installments,” until we can all be whole. We know that this piece will help people  find the strength and courage to envision and create stronger communities, that honor our commonalities and our differences and provide space for open discussions. We are committed to will also follow this performance up with a curriculum created to be used with community groups, and distribute Collective Sun artwork, chapbooks and postcards that help families and community members and incarcerated loved ones stay connected.

“Intertwined struggles

delicate dance of healing

reshape the mo[u]rning.”

Mama Nia

What We Need & What You Get

Collective Sun needs YOUR help to mount our performance, art show and audio installation. We are seeking additional support to help with the December production (space and equipment rental, props, audio and video production, labor)  and to create outreach materials (curriculum, chapbooks, postcards) that will help this project engage a broad community.

If you do not live in Durham or are unable to attend the production we can provide materials for you to begin using our art as teaching tools in your work. Collective Sun is funded in part through an Alternate Roots C/APP award.

For your support, we will send you infinite thanks and various gifts you can check out on the sidebar to the right.

Other Ways You Can Help

You can help us bring this intergenerational, multi-media story sharing project to life by:

  • Donating today!
  • Sharing this site with your friends!
  • Hosting a Collective Sun art-making fundraising party! You invite guests of your choice to your home and we’ll bring our art supplies and facilitate the creative reflection of their visions.
  • Hosting a Collective Sun staged reading fundraising party! You invite guest of your choice and we’ll perform an excerpt of our play.
  • Donating materials for the final performance/exhibit! {Stamps, projector, fabric, PVC piping, storage stools, and more}
  • Volunteering for performance set up and clean up!
Just send an email to SpirithouseNC@gmail.com to get involved! Thank you so much.


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