Forward Together at 25: #BuildingPower with Forward Stance in New Mexico

Friday, September 05, 2014

The following post is by Denicia Cadena, Communications and Cultural Strategy Director at Young Women United in New Mexico, and is part of our 25th anniversary blog series.

From my first introduction to Forward Stance, I was hooked. Forward Together explains that the technology of Forward Stance as a “powerful way to learn and gain new insight through physical movement and by reconnecting our bodies with our minds.”

The staff of Young Women United
My name is Denicia Cadena and I am proud to be the Communications and Cultural Strategy Director of Young Women United. At Young Women United, we lead community organizing and policy initiatives by and for young women of color in New Mexico. We work so that all people have access to the education, information and resources needed to make real decisions about their own bodies and lives. By integrating the practice of Forward Stance into what we do as individuals, as Young Women United, and as leaders in our shared movement for reproductive justice, YWU is better grounded and positioned to make positive changes our families need.

As I had the opportunity to further learn and practice Forward Stance I began to share the concept with young women through our teenage organizing circle. As we walked through the elements of a forward stance, including holding a big awareness, being relaxed while ready to move, and deep breathing down to our core, we did more than talk, we got moving. Our young leaders love Forward Stance because it helps them to be more confident in their everyday lives. They always have a great time playing ninja---a competitive but fun-natured game that allows them to show off Forward Stance skill! We also started incorporating Forward Stance activities into all of YWU’s campaign areas and programmatic spaces. Forward Stance has been especially useful in our Sister Sharing Circles-facilitated conversations on pregnancy, birth, and parenting. During Sister Sharing Circles focusing on breathing exercises gives our mamas and other organizers a way to feel connected to the practice and a way to feel safe and centered while sharing personal and sometimes difficult experiences.

At YWU, Forward Stance has been an important way that we explore, expand and as needed, take up space. Moving our organization to downtown ABQ last year we painted, put up artwork and began to practice Forward Stance throughout our new office. Using exercises in which we generated rhythm and movement we continued growing YWU and our structure with a new energy that matched our location. When Forward Together Policy Director Kalpana joined us for Forward Stance she asked in disbelief, “THIS is where you practice Forward Stance?!” as we often practice Forward Stance on the sidewalk, amid the morning crowd headed for coffee, rumbling buses, and our ABQ city scape. We are proud to use Forward Stance as a way to build up our presence in our downtown surroundings.

As Forward Together celebrates their 25th anniversary I am thankful to be part of the Forward Stance practice that has created a common language across movements reclaiming organizing with mind, body, and spirit. We live a world where Black boys and men are being murdered by state sanctioned police forces, where women and children are being deported after fleeing extreme violence, and where trans* women of color are being murdered and incarcerated for defending their lives. The time to collectively organize for justice has never been more apparent. At its core, Forward Stance is a way to practice how we work together, weaving diverse leadership and movements for justice. Though we may have different rhythms, energy, and stances, when we come together to practice Forward Stance we have increased capacity to move and advance collective power. I’m ready to move with Forward Together for another 25 years!

Denicia Cadena is a queer chicana born and raised in Mesilla, New Mexico. Denicia is the Communications and Cultural Strategy Director of Young Women United (YWU), an organizing and policy project by and for young women of color in New Mexico. She leads YWU’s communications strategies so that our efforts reflect the lived experiences of our communities. Rooted in cultural organizing, Denicia develops media and messaging alongside YWU’s members, leaders and activists to move community based policy change and culture shift. Denicia has deep experience working on issues of reproductive justice, racial justice, and queer justice. A proud sister, aunt,daughter, and friend–Denicia couldn’t imagine herself without all the strong women that have shaped her. As a welder and sculptor, Denicia knows that some ways of knowing and understanding can only be expressed through art. Denicia holds a BA in History with a concentration in Diaspora Studies from Amherst College.

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