CTZNWELL

KERRI KELLY, FOUNDER

Yoga Journal - - 2018 GOOD KARMA AWARDS -

Well-be­ing is a hu­man right, but our pol­i­tics and in­sti­tu­tions don’t al­ways treat it as one. CTZNWELL is de­ter­mined to change that. The non­profit op­er­ates ac­cord­ing to the idea that “change be­gins with peo­ple.” It uses a three­p­ronged ap­proach to bring that change into real­ity: per­sonal prac­tice, com­mu­nity build­ing, and col­lec­tive ac­tion. Rich with re­sources for in­spir­ing civic en­gage­ment—in­clud­ing a pod­cast on the pol­i­tics of well­be­ing, a weekly tool­kit of cu­rated read­ing, and nu­mer­ous cam­paigns to pro­mote so­cial jus­tice—CTZNWELL is a dig­i­tally flu­ent, com­mu­nity-based or­ga­ni­za­tion that in­te­grates yoga and other ground­ing prac­tices into all of its ac­tivist work. All CTZNWELL’s meth­ods are rooted in pres­ence and med­i­ta­tion to help make the world a health­ier and more eq­ui­table place.

Q & A

YOGA JOUR­NAL: What is CTZNWELL’s pri­mary mis­sion?

KERRI KELLY: CTZNWELL is work­ing to de­moc­ra­tize well-be­ing. Cur­rently there’s a gap be­tween who gets to be well and who doesn’t. That’s not by ac­ci­dent; it’s fully sys­temic. At CTZNWELL, we’re all about tack­ling the big sys­temic bar­ri­ers, such as the le­ga­cies of racism, misog­yny, and in­equal­ity in this coun­try that need to be ac­knowl­edged and healed. It’s an ev­ery­day prac­tice of civic en­gage­ment that should be syn­ony­mous with yoga prac­tice: You wake up, med­i­tate, call your rep­re­sen­ta­tives; you go to yoga class and then hit the streets; you buy or­ganic and vote your val­ues. It’s not enough to just show up when there’s a cri­sis or an elec­tion. We can en­gage ev­ery day in civic prac­tice and help bring forth the con­di­tions where ev­ery­one can be well.

YJ: How did you get in­volved in this work?

KK: My big po­lit­i­cal wake-up call was 9/11, when I lost my step­dad, a fire­man. That mo­ment dis­man­tled ev­ery­thing I had learned about what it meant to be safe and well. And yoga was there to help me nav­i­gate the grief and chaos and get on a path of pur­pose. I started grav­i­tat­ing to­ward yoga ser­vice, com­mu­nity or­ga­niz­ing, and even­tu­ally so­cial and po­lit­i­cal change.

YJ: How does seva in­form CTZNWELL’s work?

KK: If we truly want to em­body the prac­tice of yoga, we have to learn how to take bet­ter care of our­selves and one an­other. With CTZNWELL, we saw an op­por­tu­nity to prac­tice beyond our­selves and serve the big­ger whole.

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