Urban x Indigenous: Dream Team Retreat

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Earlier this year, Urban x Indigenous: III “Keep Pushin’” aimed to explore the ways in which marginalized peoples push to uplift and resist through the expression of Hip-Hop.  We were inspired by the strength exhibited in the unique stories and experiences shared by artists of different backgrounds at UxI: III. However, during these times of intensified tension in today’s societal climate, every mover, shaker, and creator cannot stand alone in the face of the oppressor.  Now more than ever, it is of critical importance that we combine the strength of many voices to construct one powerful, multi-faceted, multi-cultural, yet collective message.  This need for allied action called upon us to embark on UxI’s latest mission – to Unite the Tribes.

Though UxI: IV “Unite the Tribes” lies eight months away (mark your calendars for June 15 – 17, 2018!), our dream team’s visioning process began on the weekend of September 23 – 24, during UxI’s first ever retreat. Our dream team set off for a weekend of reflection, productivity and dialogue.

Re(calling) Our Ancestors

The weekend began in the home of Leny Mendoza Strobel – elder, thought-leader, wisdom-keeper, and (for which we are eternally grateful) our mentor. Ate Leny, known to many for her work through the Center for Babaylan Studies and as well as published academic work, facilitated our dream team’s thought process as we reflected on the definition of “Unite the Tribe.” She gathered us around an altar of sacred objects, and asked each of us to invite an ancestor into our thought circle.  In order to move forward, Ate Leny reminded us of the importance of looking back. In calling upon our ancestors and remembering their legacy, we began to create a vision for the medicine we hope UxI IV will be for our united communities.

Digging Deep

The following day, our dream team made our way to meet Ras K’dee at The NEST, which, after the completion of its construction, will be the first ever sustainable Indigenous-led arts center in California, a space and resource for future generations to harness.  The NEST’s official website welcomes you with a simple invitation, “This is a space for healing, good vibes, and creation of art. If you’re about that life, slide thru.”  Needless to say, we slid thru.  Following a shared breakfast around a sacred fire, Ras offered us song and thought as we further contemplated our connection to land, and the land’s claim to its indigenous peoples.  

To help with The NEST’s construction process, the dream team laced into our work boots, grabbed a few shovels, and got down to work.  The mission of the day was to dig up a section of the property to level the land for what will be the foundation of The NEST’s main building.  After shovel upon shovel, we stumbled upon a thick tree root that needed to be excavated.  We took turns working and pulling at the root, it’s strength requiring us to muster up our own in order to complete our mission.  It was as if the land was reminding us that we must dig deep and connect to our roots, so that we can lay the foundation for future generations.

Story Time

For our third and final location of the weekend retreat, the dream team made our way to Bindlestiff Studio, where we met up with Melanie Elvena, Artistic Director at the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center.  Our group dialogue functioned as a process of weaving together the moments and stories of the weekend, into a cohesive, actionable vision. Additionally, we used this space and time for a couple of our dream team members to facilitate group activities.  In one activity, we meditated upon the sensory memory of our pasts.  In another, we flexed our creative muscles to construct the story of ourselves told through the storytelling conventions of mythology. Sharing the story of ourselves seemed to be the perfect way to wrap up the story of our weekend, and begin the story of UxI IV.

In what was essentially a 24-hour retreat, our dream team managed to absorb and exchange a lifetime of learnings. Escaping our individual lives for a weekend of collective reflection was a necessary step in uniting our team, our thoughts and our vision.  Over the next eight months, the takeaways from this weekend with our mentors and friends will will carry us towards our mission to Unite the Tribes.






Calling all artists! We are looking for submissions to fill our gallery up with artful stories, images, media, and performances! We invite you….

UxI: III “Keep Pushin'” envisions Hip-Hop as our thread from Urban to Indigenous. Throughout hxstory, marginalized peoples have always produced culture as a means to uplift and resist. Art invites the oppressed to imagine the world beyond what is and envision what can be. As UxI enters its third year, we continue to seek what pushes us to create in times of socio-political tension. How have movements created by people of color, particularly Hip Hop, strengthened us? How do our artistic practices honor ancestral lineage and become expressions of bodymindspirit ? In a movement where expression is as diverse as those who practice it, how has Hip Hop become a subversive voice for the oppressed? Lastly, how do we use Hip Hop as a way of pushing societal and artistic boundaries?



i. who can submit

We appreciate creative works from anyone* who feels this connection to explore – the intersection of the indigenous and the urban; the discourse on injustice and intergenerational trauma through Hip Hop; & how Hip Hop can be a unifying thread of the oppressed. We hope you can encourage the greater community around you to submit as well. Though we are prioritizing visual and multimedia works, we are interested in all types of artistic submissions that speak to the theme of URBAN x INDIGENOUS: KEEP PUSHIN’

*(QT)POC artists especially of Asian, Pacific Islander, or Pilipinx descent are encouraged to apply. You may choose to submit anonymously as well.

ii. what to submit

Calling for submissions of any medium – from prose to poetry to photography to artwork and performance:

Literature by email attachment (pdf format)
Visual prints/slides by email attachment (at least 300 dpi).
Installation by email attachment of proposal, dimensions, images and materials list
Film/Animation by avi format (10 min max)
Performance* by email attachment

*please provide a short description of your performance piece (300 words max) and relevant media that will be used:

POEM : mp3 recording & pdf of poem
DANCE : mp3 of track (title & artist) & video
SONG/MUSIC : mp3 recording & pdf of lyrics

iii. how to submit

1. Send one e-mail per submission to

2. Format the subject line as follows: Last Name – First Name – Title of Piece – Medium (e.g., poetry, prose, visual, etc.) ex: Dizon – Sammay – Keep Pushin’ – Performance Installation

3. Please include the following information: * Name, Email, Phone, Mailing Address

* Type of piece / medium used / dimensions
* Brief 50-word artist biography
* For anonymous submissions, please include an asterisk (*) next to your name.
* Any additional info about your piece
* If you are available to install/take down on June 11th?
* If you are not able to install/take down, how will we receive your piece?


Send in your submissions!
One Love,


UxI Hatchfund Campaign Launch Party

SALAMAT/THANK YOU to everyone who came through for UxI Hatchfund Campaign Launch Party!!! Familiar faces and new… the energy was off the chain and the food/drank was deliciouuuus to the body! Thank you for filling the room with your bright, beautiful, and powerful presence.

The night opened up with M’nai Terry Teresita Cataag Bautista sharing an invocation and inviting us to recall our hxstories as Pilipinxs and migrant people – journeying through the waters on our bangka, becoming the bridge to our ancestors and this world.

We got the first sneak peak preview excerpt of spoken word artist/emcee Jean Teodoro aka J.Theo’s new piece “Salugpongan to San Francisco” – giving a very personal account of the atrocities in Mindanao, showing the parallels of displacement both here in Oakland/SF and the Southern Philippines.

Next, we introduced the UxI Dream Team – Samantha Curl (Curatorial Coordinator), Lauren Benetua (Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator), Monica Ponce (Outreach & Development Coordinator), and Baltazar Jonnel Dasalla (Assistant Producer). I, of course, gave my most vivid recallings of our first encounters and how this dream team came to be… each individual bringing their own unique talents with a united fervor for the work.

We had a special performance of “Black vs. Blue” from performing artist Spulu Simote-Motumanu Pulu – reminding us of the importance of artivism and the potency of our collective disdain to the industrial complex… integrating his urban x indigenous movement qualities to tell a story we can all relate to in some wayshapeform, an injustice this society is plagued by.

Samantha Curl presented the UxI Community Art Piece she created specifically for the event – folks where invited to respond to the question “Remember Our Place?” in whichever way felt most appropriate/resonating – reminiscent nostalgia and/or stern political standpoint… thank you again, Sam!!!

Congratulations to our raffle prize winners – Jonathan Michael Mercado, Solitaire Triz Mana-ay Miguel, Ed, and M’nai Terry! We hope you enjoy your gifts from the homeland.

Deep gratitude and just so, so, so much love to Love Cruz and the Bissap Baobab Oakland team (Sarah, Malik, and Fatou) for showing us the utmost love and hospitality throughout the night. You are UxI familia forever!!! And we will be back… smile emoticon

Stay tuned for photos/videos from the night and don’t forget to follow our Urban x Indigenous community page for more info on our Hatchfund Campaign… launching soon!!!

S A M M A Y x