Land, Space, and Revolutionary Rest

The Kataly Foundation
6 min readDec 13, 2023


“What is worth organizing your life around?”

This was a guiding question posed by Prentis Hemphill, Co-Founder of The Embodiment Institute, during a session at Funding Forward 2023, an annual gathering of grantmakers committed to LGBTQ issues.

Prentis offered this question as an invitation to consider how we expend our energy, and what might become possible if we radically reject the extractive culture we are enmeshed in, and realign ourselves to focus on spirit, relationship, and healing.

Aldita Gallardo, Prentis Hemphill, Ain Bailey, and Iris Garcia, stand together in a row following their panel.

The session focused on the liberatory possibilities of land reclamation projects, how people are creating restorative and healing spaces on land for movement organizers, and how foundations can show up in alignment with the needs of social movement leaders. Prentis was joined by Aldita Gallardo, philanthropic consultant, Ain Bailey, Founder and Co-Executive Director of New Seneca Village, and Iris Garcia, Program Officer for Mindfulness and Healing Justice at the Kataly Foundation.

Organized by Funders for LGBTQ Issues, Funding Forward took place on unceded homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations, in the Chicago area this year. During the conference, funders and social movement leaders discussed the landscape of threats facing LGBTQ communities, the community’s power-building work to fight for liberation, and how philanthropy is responding and intervening. Sessions focused on topics ranging from power-building for trans and queer liberation, to disability justice, to safety and security, to funding trans and people of color infrastructure in the South, and more.

During this session, Land, Space, and Revolutionary Rest: Trans/Queer Community-Led Healing, the four panelists discussed how in the face of anti-LGBTQ state and interpersonal violence, climate crisis, and economic hardship, frontline organizers are turning to community-led healing projects with and on land.

As the moderator, Aldita grounded the audience in the reality we face: times of crisis, state and interpersonal violence, anti-Blackness, racism, extractive economies, anti-trans laws, and more: “We are seeing increased criminalization on Black and brown bodies and the historical amnesia about the origins of this country — and as funders in this space, amnesia about where the money comes from.”

Aldita Gallardo, panal moderator, sits between the other panelists while speaking during the session Land, Space, and Revolutionary Rest: Trans/Queer Community-Led Healing at Funding Forward.

Given that backdrop and context, Aldita guided us towards a conversation about a path forward, centered on co-dreaming futures where Black and Indigenous people can exercise bodily autonomy alongside land stewardship. She also drew upon the global history of occupation and colonization to connect the work of organizers reclaiming land for healing in the U.S. with the movement for the liberation of Palestine. Land, and the possibilities it offers for building power, developing agency, and creating safety, is a common thread, weaving together struggles for self-determination throughout history.

Read some of the highlights, key insights, and reflections the session panelists shared below:

On the need for radical rest within social movements:

“We’re not going to get anywhere on systems change if we’re not thinking about people powering the movement and how they’re doing. — Ain Bailey

We hear so many of the same stories: different organizations, different years, so many folks holding so much weight, so much betrayal, so much being unseen and unheard in a way that is a detrimental impact to our life force. — Ain Bailey

Ain Bailey, Founder and Co-Executive Director of New Seneca Village, sitting and speaking into a microphone during the panel. Photo credit: T.G. Samuel, Starbelly Studios, Inc.

We need spaces — like New Seneca Village,which provides restorative residency experience for leaders and healers — to take a time out, to pause, to get out of the productivity and hustle culture. To really stop and think about: what am I here for? We often know what we are against, but might be less connected to, what am I for?” — Ain Bailey

“We’re in a culture that is not helping create room for rest, and what needs tending…We don’t give ourselves permission to take the vacation we have, or to step away from the meeting or the call when our bodies are saying, “it’s not the time right now.” What is it going to take for me to lay in the sun and take that nap?” — Ain Bailey

On the importance of relationships:

“Our movements are as strong as our relationships and our ability to be in relationships — relationship to ourselves and each other.”—Prentis Hemphill

Prentis Hemphill, Co-Founder of The Embodiment Institute, sitting and smiling while holding a microphone during the panel. Photo credit: T.G. Samuel, Starbelly Studios, Inc.

“One of our principles is: healing happens through and in relationship. We may wish that we could do it on our own, but what gets damaged in our experiences of trauma and in the experience of oppression is our relationships get interrupted; it doesn’t feel safe to have relationships with other beings and other life.” — Prentis Hemphill

On the need to strengthen our ability to be in conflict:

“How do we reach for each other when things break down, when we are in conflict, what are the resources we need to turn that corner?” — Prentis Hemphill

On the possibilities that emerge through land reclamation and restoration:

“Land, to me, is a portal; it is where I remember I’m human but also divine; we are on a planet, hurtling through space; infinite galaxies, other planets are out there. We’re living a mystery.

Land is a reminder that I am cosmic and that I’m human and I’m here to do work; be in right relationship with myself, with the land, and with others.” — Ain Bailey

“97% of land owned in the U.S. is owned by white folks; the remaining 3% is everybody else. There are so few spaces for many of us to go; we need this kind of investment so that there are spaces where we can go and be.” — Prentis Hemphill

“So much of what we’re sold isn’t life, it isn’t living. We need those moments that remind us of what could be, what’s beyond my imagination at this moment. We need that in our bodies. If we don’t have those memories or moments, what we build is shaped by that. I have seen us live outside of what has been designed for our lives. It changes how you think to have space; you’re able to think things that you didn’t think before.” — Prentis Hemphill

On the harmful impact of philanthropic focus on immediate outcomes:

“What I noticed [in my previous role as a Program Officer] was that all the organizers were locked into this defensive and reactive stance of trying to stop harmful systems. What they wanted to do was to build something new, new models of community and safety, but they couldn’t because funders wanted the policy win, the deliverables. Organizers were in this constant churn.” — Iris Garcia

On the call to action for philanthropy:

“Philanthropy is set up to support nonprofits, and there’s a lot more innovative models that could be supported through philanthropy; philanthropy is not set up for innovative funding models, but can we get there? We don’t have autonomous land for so many folks.” — Prentis Hemphill

“Let’s shift power, and lessen the dependence on philanthropy in the long-term. Colonial warfare is about controlling land. Supporting land-based work is planting a seed that lasts beyond a grant cycle. Knowing that land exists that Black and Indigenous and LGBTQ folks can go to for generations, that’s shifting power.” — Iris Garcia



The Kataly Foundation

The Kataly Foundation moves resources to support the economic, political, and cultural power of Black and Indigenous people, and all communities of color.