Defining the narrative and engaging discourse as one who decides what ends up on the walls

Ashara Ekundayo was named by her mother who found the name in a book. Not knowing what it meant, she hoped it would engender Ashara with a sense of wonder. But because she was such a painfully shy child, she oftentimes couldn’t find the courage to ask questions. Ashara starts where we all do: at zone “zero zero,” our inner garden within ourselves, where one meditates, contemplates the meaning of life, and cultivates curiosity. Ashara’s cultivation of her curiosity has today lead her to be a prominent social permaculturist in the community as consultant, curator, and founder of a diverse array of social enterprises. Her latest project, Ashara Ekundayo Gallery, holds a new space for the amplification of black women art during at time of huge displacement. “Blood sacrifices are made by those of us who find keys to locked doors. But isn’t glorious? To be a creative who is a curious one?”

About the speaker

Ashara Ekundayo is a cultural strategist, independent curator, serial social entrepreneur and connector of the urban landscape who facilitates the creation of “collaboratory” spaces where methodology amplifying the intersections of social permaculture, social entrepreneurship, and social justice can be manifested. Considered a thought-leader and strategic executor, she honed her business skills in the non-profit arts sector and is often found organizing and moderating at the intersections of spirituality, sustainable design, and impact. Through her company AECreative she consults with organizations to assess and build capacity for equitable community engagement through the uses of mindfulness, creative arts practice, exhibition, and project management.

In 2012, Ashara Co-Founded Impact Hub Oakland, an innovation incubator and co-working community, and brought to fruition Omi Gallery, both creative enterprises committed to the social, cultural, economic and political liberation of people of color, women and girls, and the LGTBQ community. In her role as Chief Creative Officer and Curator she designs, produces and listens for place-based solutions revealed through a multiplicity of gatherings often with unlikely allies.

Currently she holds Advisory Board positions with KQED Arts, Black Girls Code, and the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, and has served as a Fellow with Green For All, Emerging Arts Professionals, Schools Without Borders and Institute For The Future. Ashara holds an M.A. in Gender & Social Change from the Korbel School of International Affairs at the University of Denver and is also a Certified Permaculture Designer, Certified Foresight Practitioner, and a Graduate of Thousand Currents Leadership Academy.

Ashara’s commitment to social transformation is informed by an intersectional framework that aims to expand the influence and impact of arts and culture on racial equity, gender+justice, and environmental literacy. T/I: @BluBlakwomyn

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