Meeting At The Altar Of Us by Bloom Collective with  Idman Abdurahaman, Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson, Giselle Richelieu. Part of the department of Unruly histories by Meera Shakti Osborne.

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Meera: Meeting at The Altar Of Us is by Idman Abdurahaman, Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson, Giselle Richelieu and Hazel Griffin and Mama D Ujaje. Throughout this piece you will hear singing by Randa, Bekah, Seyi, Aiman, Kyiah, Ali and Lateisha. This work is part of the department of Unruly histories, a project conceived by myself Meera Shakti Osborne.


*water, soft breath, humming*

Giselle: The Bloom series came about from what was actually a series of unfortunate events. 

I wanted to apply for a job at a community garden and completely missed the deadline, so I called to speak to someone about that and it turned into an impromptu interview that I was not ready for, but I found myself in conversation with someone who really received what it was that I had to say. I guess they heard my passion, my longing for spaces where I could see myself reflected. Spaces where the wisdom and the expertise of Black women and femmes are acknowledged and centred and honoured. I know they also heard my frustration about all these reductive narratives of Black people being disconnected from nature like.. 

we’re here! 

We’ve been here! 

Through displacement, through migration, through exclusion, through oppression like, in the face of ongoing harm, we are still here.

And yeah I just wanted to see that truth uplifted…and for it to take up space.

*birds, water, soft breath, humming throughout *


So I didn’t get the job, but I did get a call inviting me to curate what would become the first Bloom series and almost two years on got to witness the second Bloom series created by the stunning Idman Abdurahaman, who actually got the job that I went for in what I now realise to be a series of very fortunate events.. and yeah, the Bloom series is still blooming baby! And I just want to acknowledge and give thanks to all the beautiful beings that have shared their gifts and made this project real. Umm.. yeah they’ve gone from core facilitators to collaborators to community connectors to friends.. um, yeah, Bloom has become a dreaming space.. it is fertile ground for us to move differently. To practise being in community with ourselves and each other in a very real way.


The Bloom series is a prayer made manifest, a call and response, an invitation to see each other shine and just bask in the glow of all our goodness.



*birds, water* 


*water, birds, chimes throughout the following* 


Bring forth the tender parts of you that you’ve been holding close to your chest.

Let sunlight glint off your edges.

There’s brilliance there , shimmering across the way.

They say we don’t know but

I think we do.

There is power in what we know,

And what we don’t.


So let’s speak ourselves into existence

Then breathe





We know much more than we care to explain.

We remember much more than we’ve experienced

We are a reflection of a reflection

An echo of an echo.



Bring forth the tender parts of us that we’ve been holding close to our chests.



*bells fade*

Idman: Really excited to contribute to The Department of Unruly Histories, sharing some of my heartwork, emphasis on the heart. I feel like I’ve been in many conversations with comrades and collaborators if that’s the word about how we often don’t get the opportunity to properly capture some of the impactful and transformative community work that we do. 

I think there are many reasons behind this, being chucked in the wheel of capitalism, lack of resources, funders drip feeding us money so we have to quickly move from project to project without having the opportunity to sit with the medicine of what we’ve co-created. This is essentially what this recording is about, in some way. Archiving and remembering our own histories, for me this is also an important part of my own practice of trying to not erase or minimise myself, in the work that I do, in my power, something that I do all too often.

~~ humming ~~

Meeting at the altar of us is a breathing space. A deep belly exhale, a meditation on rest and togetherness. The title of this work was also the title of the 2021 Bloom closing ceremony, that was a special day for many reasons gathering in the garden where it all began, harvesting and sharing food, building altars, playing music and just having a genuine good time, I couldn't imagine a better way of closing off that summer of Bloom, but what that day also cemented, for me was the fact that a community was built. You know, we are here and the essence and the spirit of what we have created together will continue to live on, in different ways. It will take different shapes and iterations. 

That day was not the end, it was not the closing, but it was a beginning, an opening.

*Knocking on wood and door opening*


Beyond Bloom, in my wider practice I’ve been really drawn to exploring various avenues, portals to freedom, through ecology and ancestral and spiritual rituals and embodiment practices. I’m interested in the different ways we can break down and compost the violent and unbalanced world that we live in, in the hopes of building back something new and better. 

We’re living in a time of deep crisis whether it be the climate collapse, economy, health, structural violence…for many of us all of these elements are enmeshed. This results in our bodies holding so much grief, pain and anger and often through this we are rushed to action even Bloom was born out of the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, in frustrations around environmental racism and how Black and brown people don't feel safe out in nature but I believe that, this work was, and still is an invitation, for deep listening, to each other, to the elements, to wildlife, to our ancestors including the trees because they are also our ancestors. 

An invitation for slowness and radical surrender, an invitation to lay down, and perhaps, just be. How can we approach Black feminist place making, community and relationship building, not from a place of scarcity and urgency, but from a place of mutuality, playfulness, pleasure and joy, from a place of love. If there is anything you can take away from this recording, perhaps you can use this as a prompt, to reflect on what this would look like to you wherever you are. What does your daily freedom practice look like and how can we become free together? 

***********Chanting and ululations, joyful howling, release************************* 

**********Wild laughter, waves crashing, pulling back on the sand*****************

Idman: My name is Idman Abdurahaman

Lateisha: And My name is Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson

Idman: Yes.. Yes..*laughing*.. and um, really excited to be in conversation with you today to talk about all of the things, and I thought it would be really great to start from the beginning like how we met.

Lateisha was a facilitator and held an earth healing circle as part of the Black-led nature programme Bloom, and, I really didn’t know you when I kind of reached out but I knew, I had an idea of your work and I was fascinated, and I was interested and I was really happy with the programme that we had, but I felt like we needed to have a moment of, just focusing on the self, and the body and healing, umm… and that is what it was, it was set at the victoria park outdoor classroom on one of the hottest days in London, super hot. 

Lateisha : so hot, *laughing*

Idman : Melting when I got there, and it ended up being a really modest group, a small group. And it was transformative. I didn’t expect to participate, I was going to be in the background, making sure everything was OK , but something called me in, to be there and to experience your medicine and your power. And that’s something to this day that sticks with me. The feelings that I felt in that moment of how I wish we could do this every week.. Sigh… I wish, I wish everyone around me had the opportunity to be here.

Lateisha : Mmmm… Thank you for a really beautiful introduction, reminder and remembering. It was a real honour and gift to receive your invitation, to be a part of Bloom and to be a part of the public program, last year in 2021, summer 2021, and to be in conversation with you, and actually like, think through what kind of workshop, what kind of space, what kind of offering do I want to bring, and for me, like, invitations to be a part of programs such as Bloom, they’ve got more often, but they’re still rare. Programs such as Bloom aren't everywhere. You know, as we know, that’s why we’ve come together, to make it, and so, receiving that invitation was really about how can I show up in my most fullest expression and invite others who are also Black women, Black femmes, Black gender nonconforming people to also be in their fullest expression, and I think that was the medicine of the workshop, it was also like a real blessing to think through the kind of journey that I wanted to bring as part of it, that led me into thinking through how sights [are there] to be in relationship with ourselves, in relationship with the land are so.. pivotal so deeply necessary to our healing, as a peoples and.. particularly the image that came to my mind was around the clearing, like, clearing places, umm channelling spaces, gardens forests you know have always been to channel to daydream to weave through time, to grieve, to restore, to play and specifically thinking through how the clearing as metaphor but also as a tangible real space, has been used in spiritual practices in African diasporic senses of tradition and earthwork you know, it's always been there to gather in so many, in ritual, in these spaces, in these like, conduit spaces, so yeah it was like, I wanted to *laughs* bring a workshop..

With that in mind, you know, that was how I dreamt and designed the space that I wanted to facilitate called Channelling de clearing you know, an earth healing circle to move through bodywork somatics, through writing, through meditation, to consider how in relationship we are with ourselves, with each other and the land. And to tap into the more than human, to tap into spirit, to work with the plants that have their own medicine and own communication and that was the approach for that session really.. You know and that was it **laughing** and that was it! I’m saying that was it but that was also a whole lot. So yeah it was a real blessing and honour to be a part of Bloom in that way and to meet you! In that way Idman, and here we are, here we are way down the line, still, still dreaming and scheming .. 


*** humming*** 


Idman : Hearing you speak I thought about how many elements were involved in that workshop, from the somatic work, from the wandering around and connecting to different parts of the garden, like, I sat in front of the beehive and had I think a spiritual experience and just wept uhm, Inviting the letters to each other, working with the seeds, Toni Morrison! 

Lateisha : yeahhh

Idman : So many aspects of that session just shows the different portals that we have to liberation, to feeling good, to getting well, umm , and I guess that makes me think of, yeah , the big question, how do you build community through nature practices? Cuz essentially that was what it was, it was a practice of that , umm, and I would really like to know about your approach to this. How did you arrive? 

Lateisha : How did I arrive into building community through nature practice? 

Idman : yeah.

Lateisha : aaah, I arrived through searching 

Idman : hmmm

Lateisha : Genuinely looking, I really feel like, my whole arrival into this practice has been deeply around searching for others for people who feel through the world in similar ways to me, who are like, who want and desire a way of belonging and feeling safe and feeling, you know feeling like we’re being cared for , that is in antithesis to the unwellness, to the deep violence, you know, of dominant culture which we know is the workings of white supremacy and I’m still searching, you know, just when we think we find something, it moves, it changes, it’s a continual search, to be curious, to remain open to a sense of who I am, in my own right, in my image, in my birthright and you know, seeking community and building community through these shared values or these wills, these desires, is not easy, like its a deep commitment I have to be in faith and commitment everyday to be like I know that there is so much knowledge and resource in what happens when we come together through our practice of healing and nature as Black people. The knowledges, the skills, the expertise, the ways of being that get opened up and visiblied, and I’m like, whoa, that settles my spirit, so I’m searching to settle my spirit ***laughing*** you know.

“A space that we are gonna call a garden, wherever that space is, and if there is a garden then there is a relationship to cultivate”

Lateisha : And I think, building community, or growing community is something that, I feel like, in my body, as Black persons coming into the world as a Black girl, it’s like, I had to build community around me by default of wanting to survive, I really had to always look for others, in any room, you know, umm, and I think it was really in my late 20’s where I was like, I know that there is, there is such an inherent, deep desire for belonging here, for a deep sense of community building, community growing, to be able to move through the world together and feel less alone. I think that’s kind of been an undercurrent maybe in my practice actually is to build a sense of connection of a sense of like, we’re here together which is the most transformative thing in the world, to feel less alone, to feel supported, to feel cared for, to feel seen and witnessed, I guess in another way as well to answer your question there is the practical sense of what does it take to build community, like what are the resources, the internal resources as well as the external resources. You know, internally, a deep sense of accountability, a deep sense of trust, a deep sense of being open to other people’s opinions needs and desires as well as my own, understanding how boundaries and consent work, facilitation as a practice, is a practice and is a practice that takes time and effort and craft actually, to be self aware but as well as to be aware of, you know how we move through space in shared time, you know, how as a facilitator I’m holding rooms as well as carrying rooms as well as inviting others to tap into and step into their power and feel a sense of agency, you know, that’s the offering of the facilitators that everyone in that space, in that community organising the space feels that own sense of power and agency and restore, you know a sort of restoration of the self, and that does take resources that takes capacity, like on a very practical level, like having the space to actually organise and build community like actual physical space like building event programmes to build a site where people can gather, that takes, that takes marketing, it takes a lot! You know and we can’t gloss over those things actually, to name and visibilize and say that this is a real thing, like, these are real ways of being and we deserve to gather around them, we deserve to know they exist, you know.

Lateisha : We deserve to know that there are Black people who are in deep earthwork in London. In our current context, that’s incredibly radical actually, to be honest, I wish I knew that when I was twenty years old. You know it would have saved me a lot of ordeal and stress * laughing* but you know, we move, we are here when we are here.. And yeah, on a level I really do believe in the practice of community organising, community building, community growing takes a lot of deep faith and commitment to liberation, on an absolute, on a daily, on a daily vibrational level and how that manifests is in our public gatherings yes, but I have to be in commitment to that in myself, in my beinghood which also sometimes looks like moments when there are, when I do feel or see that there are like, community spaces that aren’t serving community, we have to say that out aloud, we have to be like no this isn't working, what’s going on here? You know, so that’s also another angle of like, how, you know to be in deep faith and commitment for me also means to be in deep faith and commitment to like, run my values of like, actually the importance of organising towards liberation, what does that actually mean, that means power, it means restoring our sense of who we are, you know, um , yeah, so I think I’ve answered your question but I think I’m going to ask you the question, like how did you arrive into community organising, community growing in this way?

Idman : um.. Thank you for everything you’ve shared 

Lateisha : *laughter* 

Idman : I agree with everything that you’ve said, especially about the importance of returning to community as a way of survival because that’s what we are doing you know we are trying to get free together, we can’t do it by ourselves. Umm, and I think that, I feel like I have manifested this, in being in this way and organizing in this way, um, and I guess through, for me like, being in environmental spaces or in academia, ummm, and feeling othered and feeling like, you know, my perspectives or, you know the things that I was interested in, the topics were too radical or too political, which basically meant I was not meant to be there, because I am political, my existence is political, so being in those spaces where these, like, eurocentric, colonial narratives are celebrated, these kind of, romanticised, like, romanticising nature and of something that is like so far away and untouched and are looking into kind of the urban environments and also, I was just trying to find something to relate to, someone to relate to, and that required me looking outside of, the institution, you know, outside of the mainstream narratives, um, and that’s how I found, you know, Alice Walker and Bell Hooks, learned about eco-womenism by incredible book written by Reverend Melanie Al Harris and that’s how I started to learn a little bit about Black feminist ecologies and learn about the parallels between the suffering of Black women and the suffering of the earth and something opened, you know, I was like there is more to this.


Moving to London and trying to like, understand, right, I know the theory you know, but what is this, how do you practice, you know, and keeping the balance between that you know and I think that is through a lot of my community gardening is the centering of the narratives and the histories and the knowledges that are erased and taking place and disrupting the status quo of you know, environmental spaces of gardens and the horticulture sector but, it’s not only that though it’s so much deeper, you know, because, it’s also about, you know the ancestral, the spiritual work, self-love.

 Building community with the earth, is building community with myself… 

Lateisha : yeah

Idman : .. and building community with others, it all kind of goes together, being in the right relationship, so for me it’s kind of a way of making sense of the world, and like you said, feel a sense of belonging, so through this work, I feel a sense of belonging and that is how I make sense of the world, you know people do that through art or through singing through writing and you know for me it’s the trees, the soil, *laughs* and that is how I arrived here, you know I arrived here, because I wanted to find myself… And we found each other.

*****chimes, birds chirping*******

I go through time travel, if that makes sense, chuckling, like umm I’ve been lucky enough to have lived a few years in Bangladesh and spent time with my grandmother my maternal side in her village and I had no idea the connection is so deep, um, they’re gone now, their place is practically destroyed so I go to the garden to time travel and connect and I wait to hear any signs or anything and generally I don’t think I do, I’m quite unfortunately, not a literal person but I feel like, I need to see light, smell, speak to me! * chuckling* you know, um, thankfully, I get lost, I come out of my head and I’m just there, hence, [like] squatting I’m like, I time travel to my ancestors. 



*******birds chirping*******

Lateisha : I just want to add on to that around finding yourself in the trees, in the soil, I absolutely heard and felt everything you were sharing, and particularly that deeply resonated with me, because that is, in and of itself the kind of paradigm of indigeneity the paradigm of that “I am the soil, I am tree, I am water” and from that position, then, all the kind of like, deep, catastrophic, climate, horrendous violence of colonial climate extraction wouldn’t be able to happen, if we were in this deep knowledge of I am tree, I am water, I am soil, and that for me is a position of my approach to understanding what is called the climate crisis, you know this crisis of climate is colonial. This kind of, separation of self, this kind of positioning human beings on top of this hierarchy to orchestrate nature, to subjugate nature. That, in and of itself, is the position of the Black woman as you know, that’s what, white supremacy has done is to create these complexes of superiority you know, when I look at what you’re saying around the parallels of how my ancestral foremothers and fathers you know, were treated, that is very similar to how earth is being treated.

So when I came into the knowledge and understanding that I am soil, I am water, what I’m actually saying is that I have a right to a life, I have a right to surviving beyond this very weird scarcity paradigm that capitalism has created I am deserving of living in [the] right relationship, which is literally around decolonizing my being hood and creating space and creating community for that work to happen, you know, decolonizing mind, body and spirit. 

That is the only way that we are going to, you know, move through climate collapse, quite literally, is to heal these relationships, you know, get rid of this whole savioristic complex, I don’t want to hear that word anymore! Saving the planet, No!

Healing! Healing ourselves is healing the planet, is where our work actually is, where our friendship, Idman, is positioned, in healing work. This is a deeply spiritual practice, and it also takes a political critical understanding of our context.

Idman : Can’t save the world, you have to save yourself right.

Lateisha : *laughing* 

Idman : And I think that’s, I think within like, movement and justice spaces, I think things are compartmentalised? 

Lateisha : *agrees* compartmentalised, yeah and theorised, yeah, we do need theory but if it’s to a point of separation and compartmentalization, then, there is no embodiment happening, you know. 

Idman : I think for us, especially when living on the intersection of multiple oppressions all these issues are deeply interwoven, so I might be working on, maybe focusing on karmic justice, but trust I am talking about economic justice, racial justice, healing- it’s all, it’s all together, it’s never separate and yeah the importance of healing yourself, of love, of returning to love.. 

Lateisha : One hundred percent 

Idman : Especially a quote by Alice Walker when she says “ Surely the world can be saved by all the people who insist on love, you know, love”, that’s what justice looks like, in public, in practice.

***********wind, bird sounds***************

Lateisha : I’m like just sort of riffing off the word love as an anchor, as a key, kind of thread. 

* humming* 

Lateisha : What do you feel is in your vision, for your practice, for your journey, in relationship to, I guess Black women, in relationship with the land, with nature, like, what’s the kind of loving outcome? Where do you feel like we are going? What is our work or practice rehearsing us for? 


Idman : That’s such a big question, umm, just towards being free isn’t that always the answer isn’t it? To be free!

Lateisha : ****laughing******* yes 

Idman : ..and exploring and allowing ourselves to find different ways of being free and not policing how we go about that you know, or like judging each other about the directions, the routes we take to freedom, because this whole thing is not linear and yeah this is what my freedom practice looks like, you know this conversation right here, talking about this work and yeah, I want, I envision, hope and manifest more spaces, more resources, for us to be resourced, to continue to move forward in this way, to continue to weave together, everything, um, and also just to continually play and expand under our understanding of community, because it will continually change and so will we and so will this earth.

*********low hum*************

Idman : I would like to pass this question to you as well

Lateisha : *laughing*, yeah, it’s all about love, and that, I mean, that’s it right, you’re so on it there that when we come together, when I come together in myself, that is the most deepest expression of love , that is calling me here and that is where I can hear, what needs to happen what needs to change, what structures need to shift , what needs to be dismantled, it’s from a space of love that I am able to, you know kind of like, think and feel critically and spiritually through the world and know that these are one of the same things that actually we want to love on each other, we want to stay here, we want to express love in the most fullest, most possible ways, in ways that are so future forward, that really open up ways of being, that means that we can be here, that we can hold each other, that we can care for one another. That’s what I want, that’s my legacy. 

This feels for me like we are talking about lineage as well as legacy, about past and future and how we are conduits for a non linear * laughter* experiencing, this is in and of itself a Black feminist futurist ecology. (L: agreeing) , you know we are straddling across how many time frames at once, we are straddling across multiple realities all at once and to do that with our self image intact is incredible, are you kidding me? That’s incredible! We’re brave! We’re courageous, we are powerful! 

Love is the driving force. It’s the driving force for justice and you know, I’m very, I don’t know what that looks like, right now, I don’t know, but I’m committed to it. I’m committed to digging my feet into the ground and lay my hands in there as well and feeling into the softness of the soil that’s saying that’s saying it’s OK. 

******birds chirping*****chimes******

Worlds are being built right now, one hundred percent.

******humming*******waves**** birds chirping****

Idman : We are honestly, building new worlds, even in the smallest ways, being revolutionary 

Lateisha : yeah!! 

Idman :  and like, it doesn't have to be like this big, you know, extravagant act, we are doing it, like you said, through the daily practices, everything comes through the daily practices and re-committing, every day, to what you believe in ( L: agreeing) yeah and I feel really nourished for everyone that I’ve met through this journey, for this conversation and my heart feels very full 


Lateisha : I want to give thanks to everyone who has come before us, to everyone who has come before us and has said into their dreams, into their actions, who have fought for us actually, who have fought for us, and I also want to give thanks to those who are listening, who have come on a journey with us, who are, you know, doing the work, and i think the work can look like lots of different things with different people as we know um, and we just need to remember that we’re doing it, we’re here right? 

We’re here.

Also I want to give thanks by way of gratitude to you, Idman, * laughing* for manifesting this moment right now to be in conversation, want to give thanks to land that we are on, quite literally this land has been through things but it’s holding us and we are grounding into a story, a narrative into a practice into what it means for us actually, to be here, right now, with our head held high and that is, that’s something to honour. 

I want to give thanks to everyone who has been a part of Bloom as well as the wider community of nature-land-workers, growers, gardeners, horticulturalists, creatives who are of colour who are here who are you know who are changing things. 

Idman : resisting 

Lateisha : yeah, big time! 

I want for this moment, for this conversation, I want people to come away and support us, I don’t want them to just know we exist, I want us to feel supported because it’s deserved number one, but also it’s important to continue in the work of revolutionary imaginings that are most definitely happening in community, and will continue, but we can call in *laughing* sustaining forces. We can call that in, we can call it in, so yeah by way of gratitude and closing and offering out,  I give thanks to all who have met us and been in conversation with us right now and who are here, thank you very much. 

Idman : Very grateful, for this body, for this land, for this conversation.



metaphors for a Black future // well (de memory came <3)

Definitions of the word Well from merriam-webster english language dictionary) // fi wi, well

deserve our own definitions

  1. to rise to the surface and usually flow forth // this
  2. a pit or hole sunk into the earth to reach a supply of water // invitation
  3. a source from which something may be drawn as needed // to connect and be held
  4. to an extent approaching completeness // through the sacred
  5. completely cured or healed // power of water

But how tho?

How do we: honour: waters of grief and mourning?

How do we: breathe: through waves of transoceanic memory?

How do we: birth: ourselves into our futures?

How do we: undrown: come up to the surface of our selfs?

How do we: well up: release channels of soft seas?

How do we: break: these banks and get free and stay well at the same damn time? I wanna



i wanna heal my life


Is this how we undrown?

Is this a funeral rite?

Is this - the way you rise

metaphors for a Black future // well (de memory came <3)

Meera: My name is Meera Shakti Osborne. I'm the editor and curator of this work. I am responsible for the shape this piece has taken. Part of the process of creating this work has been exploring ways to tell stories, make an archive that feels generative and inclusive. Everything you have heard is what the participant and myself have chosen to share with you.

We welcome feedback and encourage you to visit www.duh. world. To see the rest of the archive and to get in touch with us. This work has been funded by Arts Council England Project Grant. Thanks for listening.

Transcription by Hania Mariam Luthufi

Audio Mixing and Mastering by Alex Sushon