Michelle Castillo is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, educator, and community organizer living on Cahuilla Land, also known as Coachella Valley, CA. Michelle founded the feminist creative collective, Wyld Womxn & socially engaged food + art + memory project, Lola's Kusina, and is one of the co-founders of Bayanihan (buy-uh-nee-hahn) Desert. Through social practice, alternative spaces, and meaningful exchanges, she uses the arts as a tool to cultivate, bridge, and create more inclusive communities. Michelle uses her leadership and voice to serve and uplift marginalized communities.
In 2018 Michelle was honored as one of six female community leaders by Palm Spring Life’s ‘Women Who Lead’, women who benefit the community and serve as role models in business and life.
In this episode, Michelle talks about growing up close to extended in an inter-generational household and how that inspired her Lola's Kusina project. We also talk about the inspiration for Wyld Womxn, which began when Michelle returned to the desert, having left to grow and find an arts and culture community, as well as a community where the leadership was more diverse. On returning to the desert Michelle found many of her peers, who had also left for similar reasons, seemed to also be finding their way back to the desert, to give back to the community and make the spaces they'd experienced that weren't yet available in Coachella Valley.
We discuss the importance of honoring those who came before us in this desert, the indigenous peoples whose land this was before the white man came and colonized it and taking time to understand who those people were and educating ourselves about their culture and customs.
Michelle shares her experience with micro-aggressions, macro-aggressions and provides some guidance around what white people can and should do to encourage and lift up marginalized minority voices.
Michelle also provides some advice for folks who are multi-passionate and shares suggestions on getting all those projects in their heads and hearts up and running and out into the world.
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