Allies for Life 2017 Initiation Cycle I

“I feel my internal form loosening, structures softening, as if they’re saying

“Yes. I can release that which no longer serves.” 

The Questions:



The Allies for Life community works to directly uproot the causes and effects of oppression in interpersonal relationships as the result of conscious or unconscious oppressive acts, beliefs & behaviors as a path to creating sustainable social justice.

The mission is threefold:

1) decreasing the capacity for acting out harmful patterns of oppression in our relationships;

2) increasing the capacity for successfully navigating situations of either witnessing, participating in, or experiencing oppression by interrupting it with discernment & compassion;

3) using these capacities to facilitate social justice action in the personal, interpersonal-community, and institutional-structural spheres of life.


“I feel wonder and gratefulness to share this cohort that you have called in. I trust what will be revealed.” 

Human(e) beings need allies; it does not work to ally with a census box. This means that we must transform how we understand what it means to be an ally, what it means to do social justice work, and fundamentally, what it means to be human(e).

Social justice action & organizing can become disconnected from its core cause and too often we find ourselves seeking to build relationships for solidarity along the very same lines used to oppress us. This country is rooted in oppression and it requires each of us becoming conscious of these roots and pulling them out of ourselves, and calling them out with compassion in each other, one by one, to do the healing required for actual justice to occur. The bigotry, prejudice, bias, and hate that has recently been cascading into our lives is not new, merely uncovered.

Industrialized human(e) beings, especially those engaging in social justice struggles, are in critical need of specialized emotional & spiritual care. Allies for Life re-centers social justice work as an essentially spiritual practice, one found in all major spiritual traditions, by integrating community building, social analysis, trauma release, skill building, & healing into a model of practice that can be both easily followed and replicated.


 “Being surrounded by people inspired to build themselves to contribute to humanity, has already been so humbling and empowering after only one weekend.”  

You. Yes, You. You have the power to interrupt oppression and change your world. You have the power to learn tools that can help you build bridges across pre-fabricated social divides. You have the power to dissolve relationships that do not nurture you and build healthy boundaries. You have the power to teach others what you know about empathy, compassion, and response-ability for self & others. You are who we need.

We are the Beloved Community. We do not exist without you. We do not exist in safety, health, or joy without your protection, advocacy, and gifts. We do not survive if you do not survive. Your well-being is in our best interest. Our well-being is in your best interest.

Allies for Life is a Beloved Community that actively seeks to represent itself by reflective of the world it inhabits. We seek to be inclusive by consideration, word, & action that is not limited to physical or physiological differences.

The cohorts seek to be very intentionally balanced to address inequitable balances of power that exist in the world and to foster the richest environment for learning & healing. We are looking for people from ages 16- still being on this side of the dirt to participate.


“You provided a safe and nurturing environment…

I am curious to see what tomorrow presents.”

Now. All ways now.

Formally, the Allies for Life Fall 2017 cycle will starts with the Opening Weekend Retreat Sept 16-17 and continues with workshops on Sept 30, Oct 7, Nov 18, Dec 16, Jan 20, Feb 24


“The Allies for Life retreat is a soul-nourishing experience.”

Inspired by the life of  Francis of Assisi and the Work That Reconnects as taught by Joanna Macy, Canticle Farm provides a platform for the Great Turning –the planetary shift from an industrial-growth society to a life-sustaining society– one heart, one home, and one block at a time. The Farm is a comprised of five houses on three lots between 36th Avenue and Harrington Avenue in the Fruitvale District of Oakland, California.  We’ve removed the fences between the houses and grow much of our own food there as well as participate in community service in the larger neighborhood through a variety of projects.  Canticle Farm manifests this commitment to living and working towards more sustainable alternatives through spiritual practice, integral nonviolence, gift economy, restorative practices, urban permaculture, education and other work necessary for regenerating community in the 21st Century.

We will be hosted by Sister Moon & Stars, the cooperative live-work house. Our work will involve being indoors, outdoors, and in the surrounding neighborhood.


“Combo of internal meditation, visualization, and somatic practices with relational and conceptual dialogue really worked!”

Allies for Life is first and foremost a community of beings dedicated to ending oppression in their lives. The methods we use to facilitate that includes, but are not limited to, Nonviolent Communication, meditation, Tai Qi, song, Theater of the Oppressed, ritual, Capacitar, dance, The Work That Reconnects, and acupressure.

The primary tool is our own awareness and willingness to engage with curiosity instead of fear, compassion instead of anger, and prioritize meeting human(e) needs above all else.



Ground Facilitator: Jihan means “universe, person of the world” in Farsi & Arabic and throughout their life has worked to embody this meaning. Jihan has lived in 3 and traveled in more than 20 countries, as well as almost all of the geographic areas of the continental U.S. Jihan has a knack for hearing people’s heart when they speak and connecting what’s in it to the larger currents of the world. img_2050

Jihan has received the Alpha Delta Leadership Award and a Changemaker Fellowship Award for their work in developing Allies for Life for people to learn pro-active interpersonal allyship. Jihan has worked with people ages 8-80 on learning skills, tools, and capacities for assertiveness, empathy, self-realization, and social change in contexts ranging from the redwoods to seminaries and college campuses.

Outside of facilitating, Jihan is founder & garden steward of We Take Care!, a gardening project for homeless & low-income children in South Berkeley; serves on the Advisory Board of Breaking the Silence: Oakland Town Hall on Women & Girls of Color at Oakland Impact HUB in collaboration with Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw and the African American Policy Forum; offers pro-bono counseling to community members in need; and is an assistant for several personal & social transformation programs in the East Bay.

“Change starts where we are and takes us to where we need to be. I have learned to live like a flower: to break down, reform, and re-emerge in a constant state of beautiful becoming. My living between classes, races, belief systems, and bodies of knowledge have shaped me to see/be like a kaleidoscope; everything is changing, all of it is beautiful if we can embrace the chaos in change.”

Branch Facilitator: Mazin Mahgoub cofounded The Holistic Underground in 2014, a Community Development Non-Profit that provides personal and professional development to artists, activists, and healers, as well as local community leadership groups including communication, leadership, and self-care tools. The diverse cultural and class experiences of his upbringing have positioned Mazin to empathize with different parties in complex conversations.


“I leverage these privileges, spend my hours in service because it’s the only way I can feel ok about the immense poverty and inequality I’ve seen growing up between the US, NorthAfrica, and the Middle East. So far, I’ve learned to own my privilege and view it less as something to be ashamed or guilty for, but rather a blessing and responsibility to use it as a platform to further the cause of liberation.”

Contact: Jihan McDonald,, 510-985-4332

Place: Canticle Farm, Sister Moon & Stars House, 1972 36th Avenue (directly behind 1978 36th Ave, go through the arched gate & follow the path) Oakland, CA 94601;

Time: 10am – 5pm

Dates:  Sept 30, Oct 7, Nov 18, Dec 16, Jan 20, Feb 24

Food: Potluck style Please bring a dish to share in community. Dietary needs will be shared in a communally available Google Drive Folder. If you are unable to bring something, please let the Assistant know beforehand so that we can provide food as needed.

Environment: Canticle is a cooperative space. Please do not yell, smoke, or otherwise disrupt the environment of the farm. We ask that you be scent-free as much as possible to care for people with chemical sensitivity.

Transportation: There will be a rideshare board set-up for the purpose of the workshops. Please use this to arrange transportation. If you have additional needs that this doesn’t meet, please communicate with the Ground or Assistant Facilitator directly.

Value exchange:

This is a donation based offering. I am open to receiving money, goods & services in exchange.

A donation of $50 from 20 participants would cover my wages for each workshop. Please use this as a guide when considering how you will support the program.

Desired Outcomes:

– cohort members will be able to facilitate transformative activities for a group

– cohort members will use the tools to plan & facilitate the closing workshop

– cohort members will feel proficient in their own nonviolent communication style

– cohort members will plan & execute a social justice direct action

– cohort members will be able to interrupt moments of oppression with discernment & compassion


– willingness

– presence at opening retreat & 5 of 6 workshops

– a desire to step into response-ablity & leadership

– attending the opening retreat (unfortunately, if you cannot attend the opening retreat you will not be able to participate in that Cycle’s initiation)

*the cohort will also be selected to maintain a balance of identities in the room*


– attending monthly sessions

– attending 1 event per month on the Allies for Life activity calendar

– facilitation of workshop activities as part of process completion

– planning & coordinating final retreat with the cohort

– readings & assignments (no more than 1 hr/week) as requested by Leadership Team)

– communicating needs to Leadership Team

– being available for continued conversation with cohort Allies outside of workshops, at your discretion