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I'm Curious with Ashley Asti

I'm Curious with Ashley Asti

By Ashley Asti
I'm curious. Aren't you?
A podcast that brings the unfamiliar closer. Telling stories that remind us love demands we move toward justice and that we're all connected.
Hosted by Ashley Asti (@ashleyasti on Instagram).

Follow I'm Curious podcast on Instagram and Twitter @imcuriouspod
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Returning Citizen

I'm Curious with Ashley Asti

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Building an Unprecedented Future with Jason Bryant
Jason Bryant, the Director of Restorative Programs at CROP Organization, shares what it’s like to experience marriage and fatherhood from across a prison visiting room table. He talks openly about personal responsibility and how it was his commitment to serve that transformed his relationship to himself and his community, and propelled him to the governor’s attention, who ordered his immediate release in 2020 for his life-changing work while incarcerated. Everyday, Jason takes new steps to build his and our collective “unprecedented future.” It’s impossible to not be moved and inspired by his energy. Learn more about CROP: croporganization.org Check out CROP’s Prison Post Podcast. 
54:51
May 16, 2022
Healing our Discontent with Michael Hoffner
After hitting rock bottom repeatedly, Michael Hoffner discovered the secret to his healing that he had been missing: deep spiritual communion and belonging. Today, he is the founder and Executive Director of the Community Growth Center in Long Island, NY, a non-profit center for spiritual and personal growth. Our conversation explores disconnection as the source of our discontent, our inherent worthiness, and the root of healing. Learn more about Michael’s work on the Community Growth Center website: communitygrowthcenter.org
47:29
April 07, 2022
Redefining the Dream with Denise Correll
Time. Urgency. Purpose. This episode with psychic medium Denise Correll will make you want to seize the day: as she says, it’s never too late to release the past and step into the fullness of who you’re becoming. Denise invites us to embrace pleasure and the sensual joys of being in this body—taste, touch, smell, communing with nature. We talk about dying regrets and how to wake up to your one precious life while you’re still here. What happens when we don’t hold back? Connect with Denise: Website: https://www.thegratefulmessenger.com Enlightened Empaths Podcast
54:36
March 10, 2022
From a Life Sentence to Love with Richard Mireles
Richard Mireles didn’t know if he’d ever come home from prison. Serving 25 years-to-life and faced with the possibility of dying in prison, he knew he had to make a choice: “I had to take a stand and say, I’m going to be committed to loving all people.” Today, three years home from prison, Richard embodies compassion, committed public service, and determination to live meaningfully while he still has time. His words and story will move you and surprise you—and remind you of the power of courage, faith, and love. Connect with Richard: The Prison Post Podcast CROP Organization
01:08:47
February 24, 2022
Healing Trauma with Marina Yanay-Triner
“Every single human being experiences trauma…it’s part of the human experience.” Somatic coach Marina Yanay-Triner and I deep-dive into trauma’s roots in the body. She insists that healing from trauma cannot happen with talk therapy alone: we need to heal from within, on the level of the nervous system. We talk about building our capacity to connect with our feelings after trauma and Marina gets personal, sharing her own healing journey, with trauma extending back generationally to her grandmother who was imprisoned in a labor camp during the Holocaust. Connect with Marina: Website: https://marinayt.com Instagram: @marina.y.t Take Marina's latest course, Treasure's in the Trigger: Regulating, Healing, and Living Fully Alive!
01:02:02
February 10, 2022
One Refugee at a Time with Kayra Martinez
Kayra Martinez, the founder of Love Without Borders for Refugees in Need, joins me one year after our first on-air conversation. Kayra has been working with individuals in refugee camps in Greece since 2015, providing the healing power of art as well as other empowering opportunities. In this conversation, we explore not only her work and life in the camps during COVID-19, but our interconnectedness and her calling to serve. Website: http://lovewithoutborders4refugees.com/ Etsy Shop (to purchase art created by refugees). Listen back to my first conversation with Kayra in early 2021 here.
45:35
January 27, 2022
Re-emerging Into Her Power with Serena Liguori
Serena Liguori, the Executive Director of New Hour for Women and Children—Long Island, is an activist and a force—a woman living from her power who’s equipping other women to emerge after incarceration knowing their power as the leaders of their own lives and in their communities. She unpacks her story, from growing up poor but filled with joy and love, to the women she met behind bars, to her depth as an activist and her intentions as a mother. Website: https://www.newhourli.org Instagram: @newhourforwomen Twitter: @NewHOUR_LI Facebook: @NewHOURforWomenandChildren
56:23
January 13, 2022
Unleashed with Dionne Ybarra
Dionne Ybarra is invigorating! After entering her 50th year, Dionne chose to embrace her wisdom, her passion, and her curiosity and say an even greater yes to life. She is a birth doula, is training to be a death doula, and the Executive Director of The Wahine Project, an organization that connects people who otherwise wouldn’t have the resources to access the ocean, build a relationship with it, and learn to surf. Together, we explore fear, birth, death, resilience, and being on the precipice. The Wahine Project: https://www.thewahineproject.org Instagram: @thewahineproject  Facebook: @wahineproject
50:37
December 02, 2021
Movement is Life with Gloria Araya
Gloria Araya is a modern day Renaissance woman—a dancer and movement teacher, photographer, and social activist. Her life is a masterclass in generous listening—the ways she listens to her body, her neighbors and companion creatures, and the world. Together, we explore sensuality, death, projection, love and more.  Connect with Gloria: Ayun Movement: https://ayunmovement.com/ Photography: https://www.gloriaarayaphotography.com Instagram: @glorialight and gloriarayaphotography
01:01:44
November 11, 2021
Growing Up with Dad in Prison
When Nikita was in 6th grade, his dad went to prison. In this episode, Nikita explores with me the loneliness he felt knowing that his experience with his dad—essentially a relationship over the phone—was different than many of his peers. He talks about the advice he wished he would have gotten from his dad, but also the ways his dad was a consistent and guiding force, even from a distance. For the past three years, Nikita was a member of the Osborne Association’s Youth Action Council, for teens with an incarcerated parent. Today, at age 18, he’s in his first few months of college at Binghamton University in New York—and he wonders if he would have gotten there without Osborne. About The Osborne Association: Based out of New York, they’re a mission to serve individuals, families, and communities affected by the criminal justice system. They provide programs that offer opportunities for people to heal from and repair harm, restore their lives, and thrive. They challenge systems rooted in racism and retribution and fight for policies and practices that promote true safety, justice, and liberation. The Youth Action Council provides civic engagement and advocacy training and as well as growth opportunities for young people ages 15 to 18 who have currently or recently incarcerated parents. Connect with Osborne: Website: https://www.osborneny.org Facebook: @osborneny Instagram: @osborneassociation
44:32
November 04, 2021
Doing the Work with Zach Minuto
Zach and I set out to answer this question: are work and purpose the same thing? Zach and I have known each other since high school and, since then, have found ourselves on unlikely paths: him working his way through divinity school only to lapse with the Church and me seeking entrepreneurial—but not always stable—pursuits all in my hunger to unite my passion and my job. But as we both stand at the precipice of new career opportunities—him choosing, at least for the moment, a solid 9 to 5 at a local company and me a full-time opportunity at a nonprofit—we want to know: can and should a job fulfill you? Along the way, we wonder about what it means to do the work of living a life—creative work, spiritual work, and community work—all to unpack what it means to us to live a good life.
01:17:23
October 21, 2021
Standing in Her Beauty with Jade Beall
“I’m going to show you what a divine miracle you are.” Photographer Jade Beall doesn’t simply capture someone’s image through her lens; she reminds them of their beauty. Ten years ago, deep in postpartum depression after the birth of her son and feeling at war with her body, she stripped off her clothes and took a photo for the world to see, no hiding. It went viral—women wanted to liberate themselves from hiding, too, and to see the truth of their own magnificence in a world that continues to tell them their bodies are too much or never enough. Since then, Jade has taken millions of photographs of women in their bare beauty, all shapes and stages of life. It is Jade’s heart that can be felt the most in this episode. Her book Wise Bodies Beautiful Elders comes out this spring. About Jade: Jade Beall is a proud mother and a Tucson, AZ based world-renowned photographer specializing in truthful images of women that inspire them to feel irreplaceably beautiful and good about one's body as a counter-balance to the airbrushed, photoshopped imagery of a single body shape and age that dominates mainstream media. Her work and book "Bodies Of Mothers" has touched millions of women's lives and garnered global attention from media outlets including the BBC, The Today Show, The Huffington Post, and beyond. Jade's books and social media platforms feature truthful photos of women alongside their stories of their journey to build self-compassion in a world that thrives off women believing that their bodies are problematic and never enough. Connect with Jade: Website: jadebeall.com Instagram: @jadebeallphotography Facebook: @jadebeallphotography
01:00:37
October 14, 2021
Finding Joy with Oneika Mays
At 40 years old, Oneika Mays found herself in limbo. After walking away from a great paying job with all the perks she could never have imagined possible for herself growing up, she found herself in the middle of a sweaty hot yoga class in New York City and on a threshold. In the throes of chair pose, she realized she didn’t know the way forward, but she knew it wasn’t what she had been doing—the way ahead was outside her comfort zone. Today, Oneika is a Mindfulness Coach working full-time in Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York, and everyday she explores the grayness of finding joy and connection in a jail while also believing that the oppressive system must crumble. “Joy does sometimes exist in conjunction with pain or with sorrow,” she says, and “we have to allow that to happen.” In addition to her work within the prison system, she teaches classes, facilitates workshops and trainings, and leads retreats. She believes that when we can connect with ourselves we can become more connected to the world around us. Connect with Oneika Website: https://www.oneikamays.com Instagram: @oneikamays Twitter: @oneikamays Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OneikasYogaLife/
52:41
October 07, 2021
The Promise of Justice with Mercedes Montagnes
“We have to get out of this notion that revenge is going to heal us in any way.” Mercedes Montagnes grew up wanting to be an actress. Instead, she found herself taking the LSATs on a whim and, eventually, becoming a lawyer. As the Executive Director of The Promise of Justice Initiative, Mercedes and her litigation team are challenging racist laws and practices in prisons in Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In our conversation, we explore what meaningful healing looks like (including for survivors), her continuing fight for justice for those convicted by the Jim Crow era practice of nonunanimougs juries, prison plantation labor, Covid—and, of course, change. “There is hope,” she told me. “It’s hard,” but change is possible. Mercedes Montagnes is the Executive Director of The Promise of Justice Initiative. Mercedes jumped into her legal career feet first by litigating prison conditions throughout Louisiana. Her first impact litigation case challenged the alarming heat conditions on Death Row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, otherwise known as Angola. Today, her litigation team is tackling a myriad of issues ranging from medical care to over detention. In addition to leading the litigation team, Mercedes oversees the projects at PJI. In the last year, this has included exposing corruption and violence in law enforcement in Jefferson Davis Parish, building the Jim Crow Juries Project on behalf of people incarcerated from non-unanimous juries, establishing and building Louisiana Survivors for Reform—a group of justice minded survivors, and coordinating litigation and policy responses to COVID-19 for those in prisons and jails throughout the state. Mercedes’ work is rooted in the belief that our criminal court system must be reformed in order to keep our communities, both inside and outside prison, safe. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and clerked for Judge Carl Barbier in the Eastern District of Louisiana and Chief Judge Roger Gregory on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Connect with Promise of Justice Initiative: Website: https://promiseofjustice.org Instagram: @justicespromise Twitter: @justicespromise  Facebook: @promiseofjustice
55:55
September 30, 2021
In the Hot Seat with Ashley Asti
The host is in the hot seat! I handed the I’m Curious keys over to my friend Diane Kahn, who interviewed me. We explore my life lessons, my moments of shame and fear about my purpose, the best yoga classes where laughter erupts in the middle of them, and more. Let’s dive in! Connect with Ashley: Instagram: @ashleyasti Twitter: @ashley_asti
53:39
September 23, 2021
Reimagining Healing for Pakistani Survivors with Alina Anjum Ahmed
I grew up in a “very, very patriarchal country,” Alina Anjum Ahmed told me about her home, Pakistan. “It’s a different place,” she said, where gender role constrictions and violence against women is common. “I’m certain that a lot of women who have been abused or who have had violence committed against them don’t even know because they’re so used to it and because they think it’s so normal.”  By her early 20s, Alina started realizing the full scope of the violence and decided to do something about it. Today, a graduate student on a Fulbright scholarship in the United States, Alina is changing the way survivors in Pakistan understand harassment and abuse by bringing them together in listening circles where they can feel seen and heard. Alina is youthful and fiery and determined. I love her sense of her own power to create change and her responsibility—and I can’t wait to continue watching her grow. About Alina: Alina is a Pakistani Fulbright graduate student studying Philosophy in the US. She is a feminist activist and organizer who aims to work on Transformative Justice in community organizing. She volunteers for Aurat March Lahore, which does amazing work in feminist organizing, community aid, and socio-political resistance. She is also a GATHER fellow with Seeds of Peace for her work in her organization CHADAR (Challenging Harassment and Abuse, Demanding Action and Respect) and is a co-founder for Pakistan's first intersectional feminist e-mag Behenchara (translation: sisterhood). Behencharamag.com Chadar.org Seedsofpeace.org/changemakers/alina-2/ Spread Love: Alina suggests whoever can visits this GoFundMe page to support Afghan women activists fleeing the Taliban. 
01:04:30
September 16, 2021
Worthy of Love with Sol Mercado
“Today I know I deserve to be loved.” At 19 years old, Sol Mercado was locked up and given the death penalty. After years of experiencing abuse and violence at home and turning to gangs for love and protection, she felt hopeless and broken. But it was unexpected love in an unexpected place—from her niece and nephews in a California state prison visiting room—that reminded her she’s worthy of love and encouraged her to explore her own trauma and take accountability for the harm she caused. Sol is now home. She’s a nursery technician in Oakland, CA at Planting Justice and is expecting her first child.
01:03:02
September 02, 2021
Music is Power with Eric “Maserati-E” Abercrombie
“In a place where [racial boundaries] really existed for real...we brought everyone together with the power of music.” Eric “Maserati-E” Abercrombie went from teaching himself guitar in prison to recording music in historic studios with legends. Through his music, he’s breaking down the stigma of incarceration and taking back the power to tell his story. And he’s having an impact. “Love over hate all day,” he told me. “Love will take you so much further.” Instagram: @therealmaserati_e Twitter: @maserati_e  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EricAbercrombie54 Just Me and My Guitar EP: https://maserati-e.bandcamp.com/album/just-me-and-my-guitar San Quentin Mixtapes, Vol. 1: https://open.spotify.com/album/0sM3z0fP5UpOoDJWCKSkiI
01:07:53
August 26, 2021
Our Shared Humanity with Diane Kahn
“There’s not a person that I talk to inside that doesn’t feel forgotten.” Those words from this conversation still haven’t left me. Diane Kahn, my guest, is a teacher who went from an elementary school classroom to teaching men inside San Quentin prison. Along with incarcerated journalists, photographers, and editors who are serving time in the California prison or who have recently come home, she has created Humans of San Quentin, a digital storytelling space that seeks to break down the walls and stereotypes of prison life, allowing those behind the bars to be heard. While Diane offered me her time, wisdom, and love during this episode, I want, also, to celebrate everyone who makes Humans of SQ possible, including Juan Haines, Eddie Herena, Marcus Blevins, Joseph Krauter, and all the interns, volunteers, and people inside who are willing to share their stories and who offer us the blessing of listening. Connect with Humans of San Quentin: Website: https://www.humansofsanquentin.org Email: hi@humansofsanquentin.com Instagram: @humansofsanquentin Twitter: @humansSQ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/humansofsanquentin.org
01:12:54
August 19, 2021
Purpose-Driven Life with Martin Lockett
When Martin Lockett drove drunk on New Years Eve 2003, it changed everything. Upon learning that the two people who died when he crashed into their car that night were volunteers in the drug and alcohol recovery community, Martin chose to dedicate his life to helping others through addiction counseling and drinking and driving prevention. This episode is a special one for me because Martin and I are friends. And, after 17 years in prison, Martin is finally home. About Martin: Martin Lockett is a writer and speaker whose words have impacted thousands of people, even before leaving prison. While incarcerated, he earned his Master of Science in Psychology with honors and his state certification as a substance abuse counselor. He has published two books and, home for just a month, he’s already a sought-after speaker for his story and wisdom.
01:21:55
August 12, 2021
A Practice for the Tired & Weary with Rashid Hughes
“The thing is, most of us, we’re exhausted.” Rashid Hughes wants to change that. In this episode, we dive into not only what it means to rest (hint: it’s not about sleeping), but contemplative practices that hold space for those tired and weary from systemic injustice and transgenerational trauma. Rashid Hughes is a certified Mindfulness and Yoga teacher and restorative justice specialist in Washington DC, and the co-founder of Heart Refuge. He’s also the creator of R.E.ST., a contemplative practice for the tired & weary. Rashid's Website: https://www.rashidhughes.com Heart Refuge: https://www.heartrefugemindfulnesscommunity.org Rashid on Instagram: @justbeandbreathe
01:09:60
August 05, 2021
Basketball Means Love with Anthony Ammons
“The [basketball] court is not a prison…When I step on the court…it’s like the air is different.” At 16 years old, Anthony Ammons was sentenced to 102 years to life in prison. But, while locked up, he found home, peace, and authenticity on the basketball court. Anthony is one of the stars of the documentary film Q Ball, which follows the San Quentin Warriors, the basketball team made up of men incarcerated in San Quentin prison, throughout one season. In this episode, we explore his early life in a gang, his realization of his own self-worth, basketball, and what it was like to be on the Covid Strike Team inside prison. We also laugh quite a bit as he shares funny stories about returning to life in the free world 3 months ago. You can find Anthony on Instagram: @ant_ammons
01:02:27
July 29, 2021
Prison and the Pandemic with Natalie Keyssar
“If it’s a human rights issue, then there’s no both sides.” Photojournalist Natalie Keyssar believes journalists have an obligation to be honest, not necessarily neutral. For about a year during the pandemic, Natalie focused her lens on the lives and deaths of the elderly who were behind bars in New York during Covid, sharing their stories and the toll it took on their families. “It’s so easy for society…to dismiss people in prison as people who deserve what they get or who don’t deserve humane treatment,” she said, but Natalie wants to use her camera to make sure the most vulnerable in prison are seen. You can see Natalie’s photos and reporting in the Rolling Stone article, Prisoners and the Pandemic: https://www.rollingstone.com/covids-most-vulnerable-population-elderly-prisoners/ Natalie’s website: http://nataliekeyssar.com/splash Natalie on Instagram: @nataliekeyssar
56:42
July 22, 2021
Bringing Feminism to Prison with Mannie Thomas III
When I used to think about men in prison, I didn’t picture Mannie Thomas. I didn’t picture guys in their prison blues gathering to talk about the f word—feminism. I didn’t imagine their shared vulnerability, honestly looking at their trauma and their fears and their truths together. I didn’t expect this much love and brotherly support. But that’s what our conversation today is about. My guest is Mannie Thomas III. Mannie served 15 years of a 32 years-to-life sentence, during which time he joined a transformational feminist program for people who have caused harm. Today, Mannie is the Co-Executive Director of the organization that led that program, Success Stories. Connect with Success Stories: Website: https://www.successstoriesprogram.org Instagram: @prisonfeminism Twitter: @prisonfeminism Facebook: @SuccessStoriesPrgm The Feminist on Cellblock Y (Documentary): https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/04/18/the-feminist-on-cellblock-y-doc-orig.cnn
01:26:46
July 15, 2021
Unapologetically About the Women with London Croudy
“If I could describe prison, it’s like you’re in the middle of the ocean and the only thing you’re trying to do is tread water and keep your head above [it].” This conversation with London Croudy is unapologetically about the women in the midst of that ocean, women who are directly impacted survivors of mass incarceration and other systemic trauma. London possesses a spirit, knowing, and purposefulness that is hard to capture in words but is undeniable. She’s currently a Program Manager at The Ahimsa Collective and has dedicated her life’s work to advocating for social and restorative justice for survivors of oppressed communities. Learn more about The Ahimsa Collective here: https://www.ahimsacollective.net
01:08:04
July 08, 2021
A World Without Sexual Harm with Alissa Ackerman
When we think about those who have committed sexual offenses, we often conjure up images of evil, vile people. People who deserve to be thrown in cages and listed on public registries to protect our safety. Sex crimes expert Alissa Ackerman (who is also a survivor) is on a mission to ensure sexual harm never happens again—but not by dealing only with survivors. She’s getting to the source: those who have sexually offended. Leaning into connection, meaningful accountability, and even compassion, Alissa is changing the way we approach justice, community, and prevention. Alissa Ackerman, PhD, is an Associate Professor at California State University, Fullerton. She is a co-founder of Ampersands Restorative Justice, and the co-host of the popular podcast Beyond Fear: The Sex Crimes Podcast. Connect with Alissa: Ampersands Restorative Justice: https://ampersandsrj.org Alissa's website: https://www.alissaackerman.com Twitter: @AlissaAckerman Instagram: @alissarackerman Facebook: @AlissaRAckerman Beyond Fear: The Sex Crimes Podcast: https://beyondfearpodcast.com
55:59
June 27, 2021
Why is this Happening? with Troy Williams
“We have a country that, at its core, is rooted in racism and slavery.” We can’t untangle mass incarceration from this country’s deep and ongoing history of oppression if we truly want to transform our notion of justice and prevent harm. After serving nearly 2 decades in prison, Troy Williams is on a mission to abolish what he considers a modern day form of slavery—prison—and to use his voice and his camera to help people like himself tell their stories. Troy is (among many things) the Executive Director of Restorative Media and a 2018 Soros Justice Fellow. While incarcerated, he founded, hosted, and produced the San Quentin Prison Report. Connect with Troy: Instagram: @troywilliamsjournal Twitter: @troywmsjournal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/troywmsjournal Website: https://troywilliamsjournal.com
55:14
June 21, 2021
Unchurched with Zach Minuto
This is I’m Curious: Friends Edition. I’ve known my guest, Zach Minuto, since high school. This episode is called Unchurched, and we’re getting into all of it: Catholic sexual repression, did Jesus have a wife?, false gods, climate change, reimagining Eve, and more. Zach Minuto is, among many other things, a writer, musician, and instrument-maker who resides in New Haven, Connecticut. He completed his MA in Religion at Yale Divinity School and began a Ph.D in History of Religion before dropping out to pursue other projects independently. As a musician, his work foregrounds homemade instruments, and his debut album, /our father has left us but our mother is all around/, will be out digitally this fall. His writing combines musical and cultural criticism with a postmodern theological outlook as he seeks to understand the things that bring us together. His book about noise is in its infancy, but he promises it’ll be out eventually…
01:35:01
June 13, 2021
"This Runs Deep" with Rodolfo Buenrostro
The first time Rodolfo Buenrostro had a gun pointed at his head, it was by police. He was 8 years old. In this episode, Rodolfo talks about gang life, how having brown skin shapes the way the world treats him, the unifying power of music, and more. I think my favorite part of our conversation is when we talked honestly about coming from two different worlds, and what it takes to understand each other without judgment. Rodolfo is a California Justice Leader, which is a collaboration between Impact Justice and Americorps. He’s a Reentry Life Coach placed at Breaking Through Barriers to Success in Northeast LA. He’s a Hip Hop MC and Performing Artist, and a Mixing Engineer-Producer. Connect with Rodolfo: Instagram: @mrgoodface
44:29
June 06, 2021
No Longer Silent with Kimya Motley
Kimya Motley knows what it means to survive. After her ex-husband shot her and her daughter multiples times with a .38 at point-blank range—and they both lived through it—she says she "woke up" to her calling. Kimya knew she never wanted another family to experience what she did. So she used her personal tragedies as fuel for purpose, advocating for women experiencing domestic violence. But after doing this work for years, she realized there was more: to end the cycle, she also needed to talk to the boys and men, shifting a culture of unhealthy manhood. Kimya is now the Director of Communications at A Call to Men as well as the host of their new community, A Call to Boy Moms, a community for moms, aunts, and grandmas to stick together, be vulnerable, and promote authenticity, gender equity, and inclusion with their boys. In this episode, Kimya bravely shares her story and we talk about the “Man Box,” fear, the power of mothers gathering, and even about George Floyd’s murder and how she feels as the mother of a Black son. Links & Resources: A Call to Men: https://www.acalltomen.org A Call to Boy Moms: https://www.acalltomen.org/introducing-our-new-community-for-boy-moms/ The Book of Dares: https://www.acalltomen.org/book-of-dares/ Kimya’s Website: https://kimyamotley.com
52:20
June 01, 2021
Holy Ground is Everywhere with Darren Calhoun
My guest today is Darren Calhoun and I just fell in love with his spirit during this conversation. We spend time in this episode talking about what it was like for him to grow up gay when he couldn’t be open about who he was. Darren spent years in churches that didn’t welcome him in his fullness as a gay man. We talk about grief, shame, confusion around desire—and also God’s immense love. We talk about enduring despite obstacles and the expansive universe where everyone belongs. And, of course, we explore racial justice, particularly Darren’s experience during the pandemic when so many of us watched or lived or felt in our bodies one story of police violence after another. Darren is a justice advocate, worship leader, and photographer based out of Chicago. He works to bridge connections between people of differing perspectives through story and relationship. He facilities dialogue and education about justice and inclusion for people marginalized based on race, gender, and/or sexuality, and sings in a heart-full band called The Many. Follow Darren on social media @heydarren. Darren’s website: darrencalhoun.com The Many (Band): https://www.themanyarehere.com *Darren mentions the song “Peace / Afio Mai” during the episode. It’s as gorgeous as he describes. You can listen to it here: https://youtu.be/uxti7euyKLU
01:00:56
May 23, 2021
Leaning into Questions with Brooks Scott
Brooks Scott is a motorcycle-riding, classical music-listening, poet-admiring Executive Coach. He percolates connections and works with organizations to facilitate uncomfortable conversations around unconscious bias. Brooks was an English teacher turned NJ State Trooper who led Chris Christie’s protection team. He then left the East coast to head up the Executive Protection team at Facebook for Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. At Facebook, he travelled the world and had a literal backseat to everything happening there. But it was upon stumbling into some executive coaching courses that he knew he had found his calling. Our conversation spans the gamut from how to make peace with risks in your life and career, to the power of asking the right questions, to vulnerability, to the current state of race relations in this country—and whether you should be talking about it at work. Connect with Brooks: Merging Path Coaching: https://www.mergingpath.com/ Twitter: @brooksescott Instagram: @brooksescott Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brooksavesso.scott
55:27
May 16, 2021
The Comeback with Emily O'Brien
Emily O’Brien never planned to become a drug mule. As she says, “It started with a romantic connection, and it happened fast.” In the midst of running her own social media company in Toronto and struggling with addiction, Emily found herself, at the urging of the guy she was dating, on a plane from St. Lucia back to Canada with 2 kilograms of cocaine strapped to her body. When she got caught, she never imagined prison. But it was in prison that she envisioned her comeback: without internet access or the ability to market test, she started a popcorn company. Today, that company, Comeback Snacks, provides opportunities to others to overcome obstacles and find employment after prison or addiction. Connect with Emily: Emily’s Website: iamemilyobrien.com Comeback Snacks: comebacksnacks.com
53:50
May 09, 2021
Broken Wide Open with Katie Jameson
Katie Jameson talks about hard things: grief, loss, motherhood. In the span of 4 years, Katie lost her first son, Lochlan; received a Down syndrome diagnosis for her daughter, Kenzie; and lost her father. In this conversation, we explore it all while crying and laughing. It is heartbreaking and heart-opening. A must-listen! Katie, who’s based in Vancouver, is a family photographer as well as the creator of grief gifts, gifts like prints, cards, and grief pins designed to nurture a broken heart. Connect with Katie: Website: https://www.katiejameson.ca Instagram: @katie_jameson
58:35
May 02, 2021
Coming Home with Danica Gim
I’m calling this conversation with Danique Gimbrère (aka Danica Gim) “Coming Home” not only because it’s an exploration of what home is—how her home has crossed continents from the Netherlands, where she was born and grew up, and expanded when she married her Colombian-American husband—but because it’s a story of coming home to herself. We talk about breaking expectations, leaving Christianity and relationships. About intuition, our bodies, sexuality, meeting her husband—oh, I love that story!—and about creating art. Danique, who’s well-known as Danica Gim on Instagram, shares her poetry and art online, art which is a celebration of women’s bodies and beings and journeys. She says the positive response—she now has an Instagram following of 250 thousand—“has been overwhelming.” She also has an online shop where you can purchase her prints. Danica Gim Website + Print Shop Instagram: @danica.gim Facebook
52:12
April 25, 2021
Authentic Manhood with Austin Galy
In this episode, Austin Galy talks about what it means to be a man, but it goes even deeper. This conversation is an exploration of pain and trauma, presence and joy. It’s an open and honest exploration of sexual identity and of our undeniable interconnectedness. Austin Galy is a former United States Air Force member turned educator at the University of San Diego. He works extensively at the grassroots level in education and with incarcerated minors and adults, California state law enforcement agencies, military and veteran groups, as well as gangs. More broadly, he is a bridge builder working towards a more just, equitable, and peaceful world. Austin’s Website Instagram: @austin.galy23
01:04:05
April 18, 2021
Sacred Pleasure with Vanessa Cuccia
Vanessa Cuccia is captivating and curious. She believes we deserve to feel good in our bodies. And that pleasure is sacred. In this rich, deep-diving conversation, we talk about body and spirit, what it means to be sexy, co-creating with the universe, the dream world, and love. Vanessa Cuccia is the founder of Chakrubs and Freque Magazine. She is the author of Crystal Healing and Sacred Pleasure and her debut album, This is a Spell, drops April 22nd.
47:27
April 11, 2021
Love Without Borders with Kayra Martinez
Kayra Martinez isn’t an artist. But while volunteering in refugee camps in northern Greece, she started bringing in art supplies to the children. She realized this was their way to communicate—to express the trauma they’d been through and to communicate with each other. This launched her into a journey she never expected, founding a nonprofit called Love Without Borders for Refugees in Need. “I have no background in art therapy,” she said. “I don’t claim that this is art therapy, but to just give [the children] those tools was the most powerful thing I’ve ever done in my life.” Website  Instagram Etsy Shop
42:48
March 28, 2021
A Storyteller's Life with b. john gully
This is a deep one! Writer (and my friend!) b. john gully and I recorded this on a Friday afternoon, our Happy Hour podcast. He had a White Russian cocktail in hand. And we went all in on writing and what it means to tell stories as if over a fire. We talked about vulnerability in storytelling, the feeling of inspiration rushing through you, the finality of endings, transcendence, the void, and finding ourselves united in all that is. You can follow b. john gully on Instagram and Twitter @3Gully. Or checkout his website: bjohngully.com.
01:02:50
March 21, 2021
Artie Gonz on Love
I haven’t stopped thinking about this conversation. Artie Gonz is the creative who almost never was. A juvenile-tried-as-an-adult at the age of 16, he spent 21-years of a Life sentence in the California prison system, eight of which included housing within Pelican Bay’s notorious super-max Solitary Confinement unit. After choosing to commit himself to deep inner work, Artie transcended the brutality of his surroundings and discovered the universal truth within himself and all of us: love. This conversation is all about love. Today, Artie has fulfilled his dream of working in the television world. He’s the Creator and Executive Producer of the developing series, “Lessons From A Lifer” (it’s so good!), which seeks to bridge the culture between those who are system-impacted and society by highlighting universal wisdoms and commonality. He’s writing a book of the same name, a collection of lessons in essay form. You can follow Artie on: Instagram (@artiegonz) and Twitter (@ArtieGonz_) *You can find a full transcript of this episode here.*
01:12:15
March 14, 2021
The Stubborn Optimist with Dorie Hagler
Dorie Hagler believes that listening to someone for 10 minutes can change the world. Dorie is a visual storyteller and advocate who creates platforms for communities, for women, and even for those incarcerated to be seen and heard. She believes it is this act of witnessing that has the power to transform us. About Dorie: Dorie is a storyteller, photographer, and advocate based in New York City. In her work, she’s as interested in photographing news-breaking events as she is in patiently covering long form documentary projects. In 2016 on International Women’s Day, she launched me&EVE, a storytelling platform that holds space for women to be witnessed and to tell their stories. She is also currently working on a documentary about solitary confinement. Dorie Hagler Photography Website me&EVE blog Instagram: @meandeve @doriehaglerphotography Twitter Facebook
52:34
March 07, 2021
The One with the Best Friend: Brittany Schiavone
This is a fun one! My guest is one of my best friends, Brittany Schiavone. Brittany is the founder of Brittany’s Baskets of Hope, a nonprofit on a mission to spread resources, hope, and love to families with new babies with Down syndrome across the United States. Brittany is creative, playful, sassy, and she happens to have Down syndrome. Brittany and I have been guests on a bunch of podcasts together, but today we’re dishing on some never been told before inside stories! We talk about our friendship and play a game of how-well-do-we-know-each-other trivia. We talk about our celebrity crushes, a scandalous 30th birthday party, one epic week spent together in New York City, and of course Brittany’s Baskets of Hope. I’m blessed to serve as a Board Member and the Social Media Director of Brittany’s Baskets of Hope. I featured my friendship with Brittany in my book, Up: A Love Letter to the Down Syndrome Community. Brittany’s Baskets of Hope: Website Instagram Facebook Twitter Request a basket of hope here.
50:39
February 28, 2021
Becoming a Dancer with Nilaya Sabnis
“I will leave this body having danced for Madonna,” Nilaya Sabnis says in this episode. But even on tour with one of the biggest stars in the world, Nilaya doubted whether she was an artist. Having studied economics and pre-med in college, she teased that while she was dancing across the world, she still told herself she was an investment banker “on sabbatical,” a practical adult just taking a short break from the responsible adult world. She shares her journey to becoming a dancer and unapologetically embracing herself as an artist. If you’ve ever had a dream or a calling or struggled with your own sense of belonging, Nilaya’s message will speak to you. Nilaya Sabnis is a dancer, portraiture + documentary photographer, and storyteller based in LA, telling stories of the work of humanitarian and disaster relief organizations such as World Central Kitchen and CORE, as well as uplifting the voices and stories of her fellow BIPOC humans and women. Website: nilayasabnis.com Email: hello@nilayasabnis.com Instagram: @nilayeah
54:54
February 21, 2021
College in Prison with Stacy Burnett
Without Bard Prison Initiative, Stacy Burnett says she would have “rotted in a prison cell.” My guest today is Stacy Burnett, who got her college degree in her forties while she was in prison. Stacy was part of the groundbreaking program BPI, or Bard Prison Initiative, which was featured in the acclaimed documentary, College Behind Bars. The program enrolls hundreds of incarcerated students full-time in college programs. When these students graduate, they cross that stage with a real degree from Bard College in their hands. Stacy has worked for years as a writer and now works for College & Community Fellowship in New York, where she helps criminal justice-impacted women get into college. In the episode, she shares the life-altering impact of a higher education—and who’s worthy of it, the criminalization of mental health issues especially for women, and the grief of being a mother behind bars. You can follow Stacy on Twitter @stacylynburnet2 You can find a full transcript of this interview here.
59:36
February 07, 2021
Messages from Beyond with Denise Correll
She talks to dead people. At least, that’s part of it. My guest today is my dear friend Denise Correll, a psychic medium who calls herself the Grateful Messenger. As I tease about Denise, she brings the normal to the paranormal: she’s fun and grounded and dead on (pun intended!) in her psychic messages and timely insights. In this episode, we explore belonging + fear, dreamland, and this present moment of crisis and shift. You can find Denise at thegratefulmessenger.com. Still curious? Check out her podcast Enlightened Empaths, which she hosts along with Samantha Fey.
52:54
January 31, 2021
Overdose Isn’t Murder: Morgan Godvin on America’s Failing Drug Policies
When Morgan Godvin gave her friend Justin some heroin, she didn’t imagine he’d end up dead. Not, at least, until a SWAT team showed up at her house, pointing guns at her, and arresting her for his overdose. In this powerful episode, Morgan shares her story and the devastating drug policies that are failing us and continuing to leave, as Morgan says, “too many of my friends dead.” Morgan is now a student at Portland State University studying public health. She’s a prolific decarceration and drug policy reform advocate, researcher, and speaker with hopes for law school. Full episode transcript available here.
55:08
January 24, 2021
Food Apartheid in Crow Country with Tsanavi Spoonhunter
In this episode, I speak with Native American reporter and filmmaker Tsanavi Spoonhunter about her documentary Crow Country: Our Right to Food Sovereignty. On the Crow Reservation where food sources are already scarce, the one affordable grocery store has burned down and tribal members are restricted from their traditional hunting grounds. Crow Country: Our Right to Food Sovereignty follows several tribal members who are fighting for better food and a better future for their community. As Tsanavi makes it clear, this is a deeper crisis than simply not having access to healthy food: this is food apartheid. “It’s food racism,” she says. Systematic oppression.
37:06
January 12, 2021
Syria Through the Lens with Catherine Ward
Catherine Ward is a photojournalist and humanitarian aid worker in Syria. She has not entered the country just to capture its war with her camera: this is her home. She grew up in Aleppo. In this episode, Catherine talks about her war photos, grappling with the past decade of her life that has been surrounded by conflict. This is not an episode about the politics of the war, but one artist’s reckoning with her country’s past and future, as well as her own. Episode Photos Catherine and I discuss two of her photos in the episode: First photo Second Photo Video (Post Traumatic Diaries 2) Connect with Catherine Instagram: @catherineward22 and @streetarchivesy Facebook
53:14
January 05, 2021
Meet Formerly Incarcerated Trans Activist Lisa Strawn
For two years while Lisa was incarcerated, she and I hand-wrote letters to each other, sent between New York and California. Lisa Strawn, a trans rights activist, is a transgender woman who served time in San Quentin’s men’s prison until her release in July 2020. In this episode, Lisa shares her story from childhood to the present, talking about her early gender confusion, life in prison, activism, getting COVID while incarcerated, and what the freedom she never expected to experience feels like.
58:27
December 07, 2020
The Digital Divide with Adam Echelman
Today, we’re talking about libraries, but in a way you’ve probably never imagined them before. To me, libraries have always been magical spaces, where whole new worlds exist within the pages of books, where you can stumble on anything, where anyone can find space to learn or find safety or community. Where everyone belongs. But as Adam Echelman, the Executive Director of the U.S. office of Libraries Without Borders, shows us in this episode, libraries aren’t only magical; they are fundamental to equality and justice. As of this recording, the U.S.—and the globe—has been facing a pandemic for nearly a year. So Adam and I dive into not only literacy and access to information through books, but digital literacy and the way, in this age of virtual school and Zoom meetings and Zoom court and telehealth appointments, digital literacy and access to a computer and Internet are not only luxuries; they’re necessities.
45:24
December 01, 2020
Food Justice with Eloísa Trinidad
Let's talk about food. Food is part of our daily lives, our celebrations; it connects us. But our access to food is not equal. This episode explores food justice, asking us to consider not only what we eat, but where it comes from, who has the resources for healthy food, and the workers that produce it. My guest, Eloísa Trinidad, an organizer focusing on animal rights and human rights, talks about the power of providing plant-based foods to communities in need, about labor trafficking within the animals-as-food industry, and about self-care as resistance. As she and I talk, we find many parallels between the food justice and criminal justice movements, a reminder that none of these systems operate alone. We are all linked. *A special shoutout to Chilis on Wheels, which we mention throughout the episode. They're a nonprofit committed to nourishing communities in need with plant-based foods. About Eloísa: Eloísa Trinidad is a total liberation activist and organizer focusing on animal rights and human rights. She is Co-founder of the animal liberation group Vegan Activist Alliance and serves on the board of directors at Plant Powered Metro New York. Eloísa is also lead organizer at Chilis on Wheels, where she focuses on making veganism accessible to communities in need. You can connect with Eloísa on Instagram: @elogata
43:47
November 23, 2020
Fighting Fires and Planting Justice with Rasheed Lockheart
Rasheed Lockheart is a formerly incarcerated firefighter and, now, the Re-Entry Coordinator at Planting Justice. In this episode, we dive into his earliest interactions with police as a biracial boy in a system-impacted neighborhood, his experiences of bringing someone back to life as an incarcerated first responder, barriers to re-entry, and what the pandemic looks like inside San Quentin right now. Connect: Follow Rasheed on Twitter: @RsheedLockheart Resources: Planting Justice Re:Store Justice Initiate Justice Anti-Recidivism Coalition Root & Rebound
51:55
November 16, 2020
The Registry with Amber Vlangas
In this episode, I’m talking with Amber Vlangas. As a survivor of sexual violence, Amber’s an unlikely advocate for ending the sex offender registry. But after her husband was accused of a crime that landed him on the registry for life, she’s seen another side and can’t unsee it. Not only does Amber share her family’s journey in this episode, but she amplifies this truth: public registries do not work. If we truly want prevention and healing, we must find a better way. About Amber Vlangas: Amber is the Executive Director of Restorative Action Alliance. She is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and the current co-host of Amplified Voices, a podcast that explores the collateral consequences of criminal convictions and public registries. Resources: Restorative Action Alliance Amplified Voices podcast Stop It Now Amber’s Website Follow Amber on Twitter @amberspeaksup
50:45
November 09, 2020
Down Syndrome Abroad with Hayley Balozi
This episode is taking us on the road—to Tanzania. My guest is Hayley Balozi, who’s raising her two sons with her husband in East Africa. Hayley’s youngest son, River, is determined and adventurous and happens to have Down syndrome. Our conversation will take us not only into the heart of raising a child with Down syndrome, but into the world of disability in a country that doesn’t even have a word for Down syndrome in Swahili, its official language. Hayley describes the challenges to get medical care, the painful stigmas that have kept some with Down syndrome hidden away for their entire lives, and the public school system. But, more than that, we’ll get a glimpse into a family and a place that has offered River the chance to live freely and enjoy life. And a country that is changing, with one family like River’s at a time showing that Down syndrome is nothing to be down about. About Hayley: Hayley Balozi is an artist, entrepreneur, and mother. You can find her blog, her advice for new parents of babies with Down syndrome, and her photo gallery on her website. You can also follow along with the Balozi family’s journey on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
42:21
November 02, 2020
The Red Tent with Barbara Rhode
Since 1980, the number of women incarcerated in this country has skyrocketed, increasing by more than 750%. My guest today, Barbara Rhode, is on a mission to offer a healing space for women inside jails. By working with women inside the Pinellas County Jail in Florida, Barbara’s organization, The Red Tent Women’s Initiative, supports these women in addressing unresolved trauma and addiction. Over 80% of the women in this program are mothers, which means the healing support they receive doesn’t just stay with them, it reaches their children and communities, too. A fascinating look at women behind bars and what prevention and change truly look like. About Barbara: Barbara Rhode is a licensed therapist in private practice as well as the Founder and Board President of The Red Tent Women’s Initiative. Barbara has recently been named one of ten L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth for 2020. Vote for Barbara: As one of ten Women of Worth honorees for L’Oreal Paris, Barbara has the chance to be named the National Honoree, awarding her organization with an additional $25,000. The honoree with the most votes wins. Cast your vote here. You can vote once per day until November 27, 2020.
47:55
October 27, 2020
VOTE.
As of today, nearly 28 million people have already cast their vote in the 2020 election. Have you? Today, United State of Women Ambassador for New York, Bethan Saunders, talks to us about the power of your vote and your voice and the best ways to create real, century-defining public change in your community and our nation. Bethan Saunders is a United State of Women Ambassador for New York CIty. The United State of Women is a national organization dedicated to convening, connecting, and amplifying voices in the fight for full gender equity. The USOW Ambassador Program is an opportunity for current and future leaders passionate about improving gender equity, no matter their background or previous experience. You can find and contact your local USOW Ambassador here: https://www.theunitedstateofwomen.org/ambassadors/ Bethan on Twitter: @saundersbethan Voting & Civic Engagement Resources: When We All Vote’s Voter Resources Hub: This is a one-stop-shop for registering to vote, requesting a vote by mail ballot, and more. Vote.org: Check our Vote.org’s state election center links for more state specific info. Ballotready.org: Compare candidates based on their stances on issues, biography, and endorsements and save your choices as you go.
33:40
October 19, 2020
A Mother's Becoming with Nicole Donovan
When Nicole's son Jack was 7 years old, he escaped from school, leaving a trail of injured staff in his wake. After being caught by a stranger, he was suspended from school—indefinitely. In that moment, Jack hadn’t yet been diagnosed with autism. So all of his behaviors at school weren’t understood—“they didn’t get him, they didn’t know him,” his mom, Nicole, told me. But this episode isn’t about autism. It’s about a mother learning to find her voice. Learning to become a fierce and empowered advocate for her son and for herself. About shame and fear and loneliness, and about being seen as exactly who you are. It’s about the joys. The love. About Nicole returning to the essence of who she is. If you have a child with autism, this will touch you. If you’re like me and you don’t, this will grow your awareness and surprise you and, yes, still touch your heart. About Nicole: Nicole Donovan is an author, storyteller, and spiritual seeker. She is also the mother of four boys. She recently published her first book, A Life Suspended: a Mother and Son’s Story of Autism, Extinction Bursts and Living a Resilient Life. You can find A Life Suspended on Amazon.  Nicole’s Website: http://nhdwrites.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nhdwrites Instagram: @nhdwrites Twitter: @nhdwrites 
01:01:00
October 15, 2020
Yoga with Border Girls
On today's show, we’re talking about "border girls." That's girls often 11, 12, and 13 years old who have journeyed alone to the U.S. from Central & South America to find safety. Many of them are pregnant, and they’re often brought here without parents by coyotes, seeking a life that is unknown but, they pray, more secure. And we’re going to tell this story through an unexpected lens: yoga. My guest today is Rosa Dluginsky. Rosa is a middle school special education teacher in New York who also teaches yoga. Last year, through the nonprofit United We Om, Rosa taught trauma-informed yoga classes in Spanish to unaccompanied minor girls from South America. This episode is a unique look at immigration and human connection. Stay tuned all the way to the end for the most arresting moment, when Rosa speaks directly to those in charge of this country’s immigration policy. You can follow Rosa on Instagram: @yogawithrosa. Gratitude: A special thank you to United We Om for making this conversation and Rosa’s work possible. They’re on a mission to share the transformative practices of Yoga and Meditation with under-resourced, vulnerable, and trauma-impacted communities. Visit their website: https://www.unitedweom.org
47:51
October 08, 2020
Returning Citizen
She’s out of prison after 17 ½ years. What does freedom feel like? Anitria, who was incarcerated in Bedford Hills until 10 months before this conversation, talks about how freedom is complicated—from sleeping in a room without bars to learning to use the microwave to getting a driver’s license. Passionate, articulate, and a great self-advocate, Anitria describes her mental health struggles and how she worked to advocate for mental health supports from inside prison. Tune into the second episode of I’m Curious podcast.  Gratitude: A special thank you to New Hour for Women & Children for introducing me to Anitria. Learn more about their work providing meaningful support to women who are currently or formerly incarcerated and to their families by clicking here.
37:08
September 30, 2020
Just Mercy with David Garlock
(Trigger Warning) When David Garlock was 11 years old, he started getting sexually and physically abused by an older man. The abuse lasted years, leaving David feeling purposeless and constantly afraid. By the time he was 19, he made a choice: he and his brother were going to kill their abuser. And they did. This episode stems from that choice David made at age 19. But this episode and who David is is far more than that one moment or his 13 years spent in an Alabama state prison. David is a speaker, a criminal justice reform advocate, a husband, and a soon-to-be father and author. In this inaugural episode of I’m Curious, David shares his story, lessons in mercy, the life-changing aid he received from Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative, and even his moment of movie stardom when he appeared in the 2020 film Just Mercy. You can follow David on Twitter @DavidLeeGarlock
55:59
September 23, 2020