New affiliate - Project Liberation

Project Liberation provides a paradigm-shifting personal development platform for women across all stages of criminal justice involvement, while simultaneously using national advocacy and engagement to raise awareness and political will around the issues and needs that specifically face and affect demographically and culturally diverse women.”

Kota has the pleasure to introduce Ivy Woolf Turk, the woman behind Project Liberation, our new affiliate organization. Project Liberation is a person-centered, holistic approach put in practice in workshops that in Woolf Turk’s own words “are a fusion of different tools that support women in getting in touch with their inner, personal power”. Woolf Turk’s method helps women to become something more and different in a way that is defined by the women themselves. Project Liberation then is “a transformational toolbox for women to find alignment within themselves”. The workshops include arts based intervention, meditation, yoga, life coaching to name the main ones.

 

Project Liberation provides a space for women at all stages of criminal justice involvement to feel safe, supported, empowered, and part of a community again. 
Over 14 weeks, women build solid foundations that empower them to see themselves as whole, not broken, and imagine a law-abiding life guided by authentic goals and desires. 

 

During our afternoon-long interview Woolf Turk kept emphasizing with deep experience in her voice how we are all the same but “we all need tools”. For women released from prison starting life anew is a huge challenge that requires not only extensive spiritual resources from the women, but unquestionably political and social decision making as well. Having been incarcerated is a stigma that denies women the resources and support they need in order to avoid crime and prison in the future. Woolf Turk and Project Liberation are on a mission to change these circumstances for women. The fact that incarcerated women more often than not have lived lives of abuse, poor health, poverty and trauma in itself should lead us to understand their need of support and acceptance, not stigmatizing. Yet it is equally important to understand that these women are strong survivors who with the right inner tools can achieve a better life, standing on their own feet.

 

The pathways to prison represent the larger ways society imprisons women: sexual assault and violence, economic inequality, addiction and mental illness, lack of personal esteem and self-worth, and so much more.

 

Woolf Turk came to realize the strength of these women while she herself was incarcerated. Woolf Turk held writing classes to other inmates and saw the incredible effect writing can have. By sharing their experiences, thoughts and feelings on pieces of paper the women grew stronger and more confident day by day. For Woolf Turk it is all about alignment through honesty and acceptance of one’s feelings and thoughts. Woolf Turk encourages women to pause every day. She sees a different power structure in being and doing. Pausing anywhere anytime just to be in existence makes it possible to clear oneself whether her doings are about “choosing to” instead of “have to” or “should”. Pausing is a process of being authentic.

 

Within a supportive circle, program participant are encouraged to reconnect with their own sense of power and possibility, use adversity as a curriculum for growth, renew their ability to dream and create powerful visions for their lives, and strengthen their ability to overcome difficulties, resolve problems, and make life-affirming decisions. 

 

In Woolf Turk’s own words, “my top value is connection”“Nobody’s the expert, we all form a circle and when we’re safe and held, infinite possibilities are born”. Women helping women to connect with themselves in their own unique way to find inner power is what Woolf Turk and Project Liberation is all about; of course without forgetting national advocacy and engagement. 

Ivy Woolf Turk is an ICF Certified Professional Life Coach in private practice and Founder of Project Liberation   

Ivy Woolf Turk is an ICF Certified Professional Life Coach in private practice and Founder of Project Liberation 

To learn more about Project Liberation, visit: http://ivywoolfturk.com/ 

Quotes in between taken from: http://coachingtheglobalvillage.org/project-liberation/

Kota Health Day

Kota Health Day on October 12th was a wonderful workshop with amazing professionals Mary Chan and Rebecca Casciano sharing their knowledge and experience on health and beauty. 

The event started with a Tai Chi class with Jonathan Angelilli. Angelilli showed us simple, energy directing movements that can be done daily to free ourselves from the stress of our busy lives. The class was a relaxing and revitalizing experience that created a warm atmosphere for the rest of the event.

Tai Chi with Jonathan Angelilli. Deep breathing and concentration.

Tai Chi with Jonathan Angelilli. Deep breathing and concentration.

Smiling ladies, Finnish organic rye bread, fresh fruits and green smoothies

Smiling ladies, Finnish organic rye bread, fresh fruits and green smoothies

Feeling renewed, we continued to the workshop with Chan and Casciano. Chan, a yoga teacher and a nutrition and health coach, emphasized how easy yet important it is to take care of yourself through small, daily decisions. Eating greens twice a day is a good start and one healthy choice often leads to another. It is all about the routines, for example drinking water first thing in the morning is something Chan herself does. She told us how it feels almost like a ritual that you do just for yourself and your body. 

Chan also reminded us that it is not so much about what you don't eat, for example sugar, wheat and so on, but what you do eat. That is something we all could think about a bit more and maybe ask ourselves a simple question of what we are giving to our body today. 

Mary Chan sharing her nutrition advice

Mary Chan sharing her nutrition advice

Casciano, a makeup artist, natural beauty expert and coach, focuses on the relationship between inner health and outer beauty. She shared with us her personal journey on how she discovered the benefits of vegan diet and organic, natural skincare. Casciano also reminded us on how important it is to cherish not only your own health but that of other's. She encourages women to regularly give compliments to each other which we then did as an exercise. The task then was to accept the compliment given which turned out to be harder than expected. We talked about cultural differences and came to the conclusion that women from all cultural backgrounds to some extent struggle with receiving compliments as we're supposed to be modest and always a bit insecure about ourselves. For that reason Casciano assigned us to write down an affirmation to keep with us and give us strength whenever needed. 

Rebecca Casciano sharing her knowledge and experience

Rebecca Casciano sharing her knowledge and experience

Afterwards all the attendees got to share their own health and beauty rituals. We got plenty of good advice from the professionals and each other and left the event feeling revitalized and carrying new, practical health and beauty tips for the future! 

Find out more about these wonderful health and beauty professionals:

 

 

Nordic Pole Walking event

Nordic Pole Walking event on Friday October 7th was a great success, thank you all who participated!

We got to enjoy a beautiful sunset and perfect fall weather with Hudson river views while learning how to walk with poles. Movement Educator, pole walking professional Sonja Johansson instructed us with such enthusiasm that it caught us all. 

Johansson giving her presentation 

Johansson giving her presentation 

Pole walking is especially good for the back as the right technique makes one to hold up a good, straight posture. We could feel the blood circle more freely as we walked the green paths of Hudson River Park utilizing the power from the poles. Pole walking is really enjoyable and we warmly recommend everyone to give it a try! It is a versatile activity that gives walking a whole new dimension. It was all about lady power from tips to toes as we walked by the riverside.

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Thank you Sonja Johansson, HYVÄ Nordic Walking and Leki Poles for making this happen! 

New intern at Kota

My name is Johanna Sova and I started to work for The Kota Alliance as an intern last week. I’m graduating soon from the University of Oulu in Finland, majoring in Educational Psychology. My minor is Women and Gender Studies which I’ve been studying for the last five years.

Interning for The Kota Alliance is a dream come true as it is the perfect chance to learn how to implement my theoretical knowledge into practice. The environment is greatly inspiring and I’m grateful for the chance to meet new people every day working in the field of women’s empowerment. New York City has been the most welcoming which I’m going to show you by sharing some photos I’ve taken during my first week here. 

First morning at the office. Me on the left, Finland Center Foundation's new intern Milla on the right. 

First morning at the office. Me on the left, Finland Center Foundation's new intern Milla on the right. 

My internship started on Saturday Sept. 10 by participating in Gina LaMorte’s Designing Your Dream Conference that was held  at the Women’s Lab at the Centre for Social Innovation where Kota’s office is also located. Gina LaMorte had a lot to say about making our dreams come true. She’s a woman who talks from her heart and her experience for she’s a living example of a strong, successful woman who has made her dreams come true. She was accompanied by Kris Miyake, they both gave speeches encompassing both their personal and professional life. We were assigned a task to design our dream by cutting words and pictures from papers. Here’s a photo of The Kota Alliance’s dream plan about realizing a World Center for Women:

Making dreams visible

Making dreams visible

On Monday September 12 we went to a guest screening of Priscilla Yawa Anany’s film Children of the Mountain in the NYU Global Center for Academic & Spiritual Life. It turned out to be a strong, empowering film about a mother in Ghana and her struggle to find a cure for her disabled child. It was a great honor to see the film with Anany herself presenting it and telling about the journey from the idea to the realization. The amazing actors, the colorful, patterned fabrics worn by the women and the explicit depiction of social relationships all made watching the film a highly emotional experience.

The powerful, empowering message of the film to all women facing the situation of both them and their child being questioned by their families and social environment in general was summed up in a poem by Anany’s friend Portia Essuman:

“Fear of offense makes a woman swallow poison….do not swallow the poison, for there is no justice in death.”

Photo taken from Children of the Mountain Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/childrenofthemountainfilm/about/?entry_point=page_nav_about_item&tab=overview

Photo taken from Children of the Mountain Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/childrenofthemountainfilm/about/?entry_point=page_nav_about_item&tab=overview

I ended my first week by attending New York Art Book Fair that was held on Sunday Sept. 18 at MoMA PS1. The event offered a lot of inspiration and thoughts to think considering my work at The Kota Alliance. To end my post I share with you a few photos I took during my first week in New York.

 

Strange beauty in Queens

Strange beauty in Queens

Rhythm of the City

Rhythm of the City

Peaceful morning view to Manhattan

Peaceful morning view to Manhattan

On Monday Sept. 19 we had an event at the CSI with journalist and author Anu Partanen presenting her book The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life. Her excellent, up-to-date book evoked lively conversation among the audience. Get yours here!