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The Community Table, follows Saada Ahmed, a New Yorker with a passion for bringing people together. As co-founder of Everyday People, an organization where she regularly hosts signature day parties across the globe, she's created community for attendees through shared experiences. In this one-hour special, Saada's taking her passion on the road to explore communities throughout the US and discover how they form, how they can surprise us, and how they bring us closer to each other.

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Transcript

- My name is Saada Ahamed. I live in Brooklyn, New York, and my passion is bringing people together. What time do doors open, three, right? - Three, but we'll do 3:20. - [Saada] The company I founded with my friends, Everyday People, hosts signature day parties across the globe, as well as cultural and fundraising projects. - Whassup Everyday People LA? - [Saada] I've seen firsthand how being a part of something and making space for it to grow, can have a giant impact on the people it connects to. It's made me curious about this idea of community, and I want to explore that. How they form, how they can surprise you, and most of all, how they can bring us closer to each other. Everyday People is just that, a party for everyone. There's no VIP, there's no exclusive list. Our parties are all over the world and it's growing like crazy, but it started as just an idea to get some friends together, and it changed everything for me. - You know, when we first started, you know, we were in New York, I was working the nightlife at the time, there was a lot of cool day parties, right? I mean day parties, they weren't cool, though, it was for rich guys, like bankers and stuff, and they pay a bunch of money to hang around models and pop bottles off, but there wasn't a space for people like us. - I was very anxious, the first one. It was just like kind of a sit down thing, there wasn't like a dance party or anything. - I just thought we were throwing like a one off little brunch, but then, everybody would just be outside, like, looking for the next thing to do, like, nobody wanted to leave. We just opened the door like, hey, brunch is over, party over there, and then that just grew, grew, grew. I don't know if anybody thought it was gonna turn into all this. - No, not at all. Before everyday people, I didn't know what it felt like to be a part of something bigger than myself. It inspired me to drop everything else and do this for a living. I've had the chance to see what can happen when friends come together to create something special, and watch it take on a life of its own. People having fun, I think that's what I'm most proud of, and also like, exposing people to different types of people. I think that's the part that is kinda like amazing, to go to LA, to go to Atlanta, to go to Miami, to go to DC, - South Africa. - go to South Africa, Barbados, - [Roblé] Zanzibar. - [Saada] And being able to like, get people to connect and dance and have a good time. Because of how much my own community has meant to me, I'm going to explore some others while I'm here in Los Angeles, California. I wanna get to know two who started more intentionally to solve a problem and to serve a purpose. How does it feel different or the same, to decide to create a certain kind of community? Los Angeles can feel spread out and hard to connect sometimes, you have to be intentional. I'm headed to a comedy club to meet up with my friends at Facial Recognition Comedy. These amazing and hilarious women, Zahra, Fizaa, and Pallavi, started Facial Recognition as a response to their experience as South Asian women. They decided to create a community and a comedy show around Desi culture, and it's taking off. Their regular show at the Westside comedy theater, and their podcast are thriving around this idea. - My name is Pallavi Kavita Gunalan, my dad's name is Kanshi Purim Natarajin Gunalan, and I'll tell you right now that just our names are our security passwords for everything, good luck! You guys ain't gonna figure that out. Our names are horrible for social media, but amazing on resumes. Sometimes I just turn in a blank sheet with my name on it, and they're like, you're hired, doctor, get in here! - Growing up, my parents didn't teach me their native language because they wanted to talk about me in a secret language. I know, it was abusive! Like, their first language is not English, so like, my first language is bad English, okay? Okay? - My mom really wants me to find a nice, wholesome Muslim boy. Are there any wholesome Muslim boys here tonight? - [Male Voice] Yes. - One. Fox News is not wrong, there's just one. That's it, that's it! - So my parents are from India but sometimes I forget, 'cause they do really American things. Like one time I was at a Taco Bell drive through with my mom, and she was getting progressively more frustrated with the Latina lady over the speaker. And then she turns to me and she goes, "Bloody immigrants, don't know how to speak English!" - I'm hairy, though, it's like an Indian thing, it's a brown thing. I used to have bangs, but they might've been eyebrows. If I get goosebumps after I shave, I've gotta start over. - So Minder, the Muslim version of Tinder, it's very easy to use, you swipe east if you like them. West if they're too modern for you. - I loved all the Desi comedy at the show, and I'm gonna be the guest on the Facial Recognition comedy podcast, to talk more about how this community came to be, and how our experiences are similar. - I didn't really think of it as us creating a community, until I realized we have a podcast, we have listeners. - It was a happy accident, it started off as something different, and then it just exploded. - When you do something that you love, I think that the results are always like, - There's passion, right? - Yeah. I started Everyday People, it wasn't always that lucrative, you know what I mean, I definitely was like, counting change to get on the train. My mom calling me like, when are you gonna get a real job? And like, when are you coming home? - We can't relate to that at all. - And I'm like, I am home! And so like, I think right now it's like, weird that she kinda finally is like validating it, - [Fizaa] Yeah. - And it's, I still don't think she understands what it is, but whatever. - So is there pressure from your mom for you to do something else with your life, or, figure out something, - She's given up. - Oh, she's given up? That's great! - That's awesome, congratulations. - Thank you! - Congratulations, you've settled down into the part of life where your parents have given up. - They're just like, - Give it up for her. - You're alive, you're not on drugs, - Really beautiful. - Like, you're okay. - Who, if you're a parent, raise your hand. Okay! Well, okay, for the parents who are here, thank you for being here, thank you for supporting my comedy, 'cause God knows my parents don't, so I appreciate that, that's so sweet! That's so sweet. My parents raised me to be like a wallflower, and not cause any attention, - Oh yeah, humble, oh my God. - Be humble, don't cause any attention towards yourself, so now that I'm doing standup, and I'm doing all these things, they're just so embarrassed. Whereas like people from our community, our Muslim Community in Jersey are reaching out to them like, "Oh, Zahra does comedy? "Can we have her MC our event?" - My parents are mad at me for doing comedy, but my cousins love it. But they always make it about them, they're always like, roast me, roast me! And I'm like, okay, "Remember that time, "your family owes my dad money!" I'm so sorry. That joke always works well in front of brown crowds. We all live in the same house, um, I think the appearance thing has a lot to do with social status and ability to achieve. I think our parents were in such a survival mode that they had, that it's very insular and protective, and you protect the family and you protect the appearance of the family, so that you can succeed, and you can make sure you're like, strong together in this new world that they entered. But I think for a lot of us, we're like, nah, it's a lot chiller than that, we get a lot of mistakes in America. And so it's okay to be ourselves. - There's a lot more independence here, culturally. - Yeah, being yourself is really tough. - Like Saada, were you allowed to date in high school? - Oh, yeah. - Date, are you kidding me? - She's like, what's a boy? - It literally jumped from no boys to like, when are you getting married? I'm like, wait, what? - A really good joke, - She has that joke, yeah. - The nature for sex talk is basically this: don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex, where are my grandchildren?! - With your comedy, do you feel like you censor yourself because of your family? - Nope. - I try not to, because that is damaging to, I think, to the standup. Like, authenticity is like, the biggest gift. And that's why I kept them away for so long, 'cause I was like, I'm not at a point, I can't do this, it doesn't feel good. - I also don't have my parents come see it, but I recently opened up to my brother about some personal things so that he could come see the show, and he was very accepting, and it felt amazing. - That's awesome, when I performed in front of my parents for the first time, I had a tangible shift. Like, at the time, I was drinking heavily, and the day after I performed in front of them, I stopped drinking. - Oh, because it was that fear. - Yeah. - I do feel like a lot of appreciation for my parents now, like, damn, they really do a lot for me, still. - Absolutely, they love you! Do they understand the Facial Recognition idea? - They just like that we're all hanging out together. - They like, yeah, the community of it. - It's like, okay, someone's looking out for you. - Yeah. - Yeah. - After spending time with these hilarious women, I see how they provide each other comfort and encouragement, which helps them to be open and pursue their craft. I'm now going to meet another community that also provides a safe place for people to gather and connect with one another. The Tree South LA is a donation based community center offering yoga and mindfulness classes, a community garden, and more. I don't think there's enough attention on mental health in minority communities, and mental health has been such an important journey for me. So I'm so excited to meet Jennifer, who runs The Tree South LA, and April, who's going to teach our yoga class. - [April] Exhale. Now we come on up, engage the core. - So The Tree South LA started as a donation based yoga and meditation studio, back in January of 2013, and it's expanded to be more of a community space, so other than just the yoga and the meditation classes that we offer seven days a week, we also invite local folks who have their holistic healing practices to share, by donation, as well. - Was there a need for it in the community? - There wasn't studios in South LA. - Soften those shoulders, away from the ears. Being a woman of color, walking into studios in LA felt very unwelcoming, and not accessible. I've even held my mat in my hand and been like, are you in the right place? And then I'm thinking to myself, well, no, I'm not in the, oh, I'm sorry. - It's okay, girl, I've been there. - You know, I'm thinking well, like, no, I'm not in the right place, clearly you see me with this mat, you see that I am here to practice, and you still, you know, are micro-aggressive towards me, or even aggressive, like, do you belong in this space? So, you know, for like almost two years, I practiced at home, and then finally saw this space, and I was like, ahh! There was people of color here, and being in a bigger body, there's everyone of all sizes, and everyone is welcome, so there's adjustments and accessibility for the entire city, that is what made me think I could actually be a teacher in this body that I inhabit, so that is how Green Tree came into my life. - Do you think it's easy to get people from the community to attend? It can be kind of intimidating. - No. You got religious barriers, - Mm-hmm. - And then you have an idea that yoga is so far removed from us, and it belongs to someone else. I mean, you can pick up any yoga magazine, you do not see a lot of people of color, so even though we are here and we're saying we're here, - You're leading by example. - Yeah, we have to lead by example, and slowly but surely people trickle in and they're like, oh, okay, this isn't what I thought it was. So, it's just changing the hearts and then changing the mind from the stigma. - [Saada] That was your first time at the yoga class? - [Female Speaker] Yes, it was. - [Saada] How did you feel? - I love that feeling of love, of the power of now. Not the past, not the future, but the present. If we encourage the youth and the children to do yoga and eat well, it'll, - It'll change. - Empower, empower our mind. - We're mostly volunteers, and we try to get a following to come in, and get your brother, your sister, your kids, like, I was telling one of my students today, she was like, well, the baby's at home, I said, bring the baby to the 6:30 class. - Aww, wow. - You know, like, I hold the baby, and we do some goddess squats together. - It's so communal and family feeling that like, if the baby cries, everyone's like, oh, take care of it! No one's like, that baby. - Yeah. - You know, it's just so understanding of what access looks like, - It's what community is. - Mm-hmm, yeah, what the village really should look like. - It's so inspiring to hear April and Jennifer talk about The Tree South LA, and what an intentional community can mean to a neighborhood. I see my own story in theirs, and I want to see what else they are doing. - Our studio, it's really loud, you can hear the buses, you can hear the airplanes, you can hear everything, and so, we tried to do walking meditations in the neighborhood, because, - Oh! It's like being zen in the midst of all the noise. - Yeah, when this is your day to day noise, or it's like the soundtrack of your life, how do you tune it all out? And so when we do these walking meditations, it's just to observe the community we're in, and just to really come back inward, so when you go through quiet parts of the neighborhoods, and then you start to come back around where it's like really loud, you see all the liquor stores, you see all the commotion, it's like still having the same compassion for the other parts of our community that need extra love. - I've invited the women I've spent time with here in Los Angeles to have lunch with me and my business partner Roblé at Banadir Somali restaurant in Englewood. I want to share my and Roblé's heritage with them, plus, the food here is amazing. Thank you guys for coming, I really appreciate you guys showing me your community, so I wanted to bring you here and show you my Somali community, even though LA doesn't have a huge one. I think it's important sometimes to like, step outside of your comfort zone, and meet other people, and that's how new community is created. - [Roblé] Mm-hmm. - You know what I mean? Like, you being in Englewood, or you not knowing each other, and being comics and coming together, and creating something bigger than what you could have expected. - This was like a thing I made on my phone 'cause I was pissed, we didn't realize that there was gonna be a podcast, shows, - Yeah, we talked about it at an open mic in the back room of Mel's Diner off Hollywood and Highland. Like, it was a random Monday night, 10 p.m., and we're like, this is really annoying, I got confused for you again. - No one else would put more than two or three women on the same lineup, let alone women of the same ethnic background. - What I love about it is, I've never had this many Indian, Desi, South Asian friends in my life. - Wow. - So like, this is the first time I've ever, and it's happening in the comedy community. - We found people who understand our struggles, and the challenges that we face, but with the same passion and drive for the same thing that we do. - The studio has been that for me, as far as just coming into your authentic self, and people holding space for you to really navigate whatever's going on and it's not about what yoga pants you wear, or being big bodied, or anything, it's like such an inclusive safe space, you just show up in your most authentic raw self, knowing that there's no judgment there. - I can agree, with Everyday People, we tried to create a space where people can come and be their true selves, and I mean in every way, in how you dress, how you speak, every aspect, it's really beautiful to see. - I love just sitting back and watching all the work that we've done come together and, people are just having a good time. You know, people are building, people have met at our events and gone on to start businesses, got married, there's children walking on earth right now, because we started a party. Like, seriously, that's so cool! - Baby making parties. - Yeah! - [Fizaa] Were they making them at the party? - I know, what's happening? What music you playing? - [Fizaa] Can I go to these parties? - Probably during the '90s R&B, - Zahra needs to get invited to this party. - Yes! - Yeah, come. - I need to stay away from baby making parties. - It feels good just to, you know, it's kinda like planting a seed, and it starts to grow, and you water it, and then there's fruit. That's the fruit, you know, being able to just watch people enjoy what you do. - In South LA, it's still segregated, like there's pockets of black and brown communities, and you come to The Tree, and you see like, black folks showing up to the bilingual classes, you see the Latino students who were somewhat shy to go to the English classes, are now like, breaking out and being able to explore different yoga classes. Each of our community's healing is interconnected. - I think all of us have kind of opened up to our families more because of this, and that's helped us feel kind of more complete and more whole, and like we don't have to move through the world as different, compartmentalized people. - It also forces us to challenge ourselves, too. When I see these girls kind of pushing this community forward, I want to do better, and I want to do more, too. We empower each other to be better versions of ourselves. - Who you're with is a reflection of you. - Yeah. - Absolutely. - Birds of the same feather. - Yeah, so if your friends are cool, then you're probably doing well, and if they're not, then figure it out, you know? - It's an incredible feeling to connect with communities in Los Angeles that are different but also so similar to my experience. I've learned a lot about being intentional, and how that purpose creates such a strong community. But I also wanna see what it's like when that happens unexpectedly, and comes from a shared vision to make a place more than what it seems. I'm headed to Baltimore to meet my friend Corey. She tells me I'll be surprised at what I'll find. Baltimore. Hear the name, and what do you see? Like so many in my generation, I grew up seeing it portrayed in a certain way, a hard place for hard lives. But there's so much more to this beautiful city by the sea, where family and community are everything. An artist and Baltimore native, Corey knows this city is so much more than its reputation. Where are we right now? - Um, right now we're in the arts district. Kind of, this is just the area where art thrives. - [Saada] Mm-hmm. - So, people come around, and you'll see, you know, graffiti, you'll see shows, you'll see performances, there's a lot of parties, one big kind of cluster of just artists. But everybody supports each other, always. - Oh, that is beautiful! It's everywhere, you're like, surrounded by art. - It's like every block, almost, you know? It's so close, and you don't even expect it. - That is so beautiful. - When you only see, you know, things from TV, and you only see the news, - The Wire. - The Wire, or you're only looking at the news, like, the homicides, you know, you only get one view of the city, and you know, the art scene is so underground that it's not something that's publicized. - [Saada] I didn't expect Baltimore to have such a big art scene. Corey's taking me to see one of her favorite murals that's been an inspiration for her own art. I've always kind of felt intimidated by art sometimes, I'm like, oh, maybe I don't know, this means something else, and then you just, I had to just realize, it's for my own interpretation, I don't, - Yeah, as an artist, the main thing that I hate is explaining my art, you know, because I feel like I'm making it, and that's the explanation. You know, the explanation is there, I don't have to verbalize that, I would've became a writer. - [Saada] Yeah, yeah, yeah. - You know what I'm saying? So, it's like, I'm not making it for me. I feel like this bottom row kinda tells a story. I don't know what it's telling me, but I know that it ends up in community. - [Saada] Yeah. - [Corey] You know, I know that it ends with us kinda coming together and working together. - Being here and seeing all of this is inspiring. And you want to feel inspired when you wake up and you go outside of your neighborhood. - You know, and this is, you want to walk around, and walk your dog, and just happen to step on some art. - [Saada] Yeah. - You know, it makes you wanna be like, you know what, maybe I'm gonna go to the art store today, 'cause there's an art store right down the street, you know. And not everybody wants to become an artist by looking at art, but they can at least have that respect and appreciation and love for it, so. It's really good to be in a community like that. - [Saada] Mm-hmm. - Hi Malik! - [Saada] Is that your homeboy? - [Corey] It's my best friend Malik. - Hi, I'm Saada, nice to meet you. I got the opportunity to meet another local artist who happens to be one of Corey's best friends. Malik Smith operates a local art store and provides resources for artists to help this community continue to grow. - We're a retail store, but we're like, about to start teaching classes, - [Saada] Oh! so how to do vinyl cut and heat pressing, sublimation printing, embroidery classes, like, all the stuff that I do when I'm in the store. We need somebody to really like, talk that talk, with the other folk, you know what I'm saying? So that's what I'm trying to do now, like, trying to get us in a spot so where we can like, make this platform a little bit bigger. - [Saada] After seeing just some of the murals and meeting Malik, I can see why Corey wanted to show me this art scene. It seems very community based, - [Corey] Yeah, it's very community based, and a lot of people, you know, they want to make art for their neighbors, and for, you know, they want people to drive by and see it. - It's for consumption of the community and not necessarily to make money, or to push an agenda, it's like, you know, it's for the people. - Yeah, I mean, for example, like, after the riots, you know, in 2015, there was so many murals popping up, or somebody did something, a tribute to Freddie Gray, and you know, so there was a lot of like, amazing things happening, and a lot of conversations being started, you know, - Through art. - Through art. - Corey now wants to introduce me to another artist who is creating positive social change. Megan Lewis is an illustrator and muralist. Her work is in several Baltimore neighborhoods, and expresses feminism and her life as an African American woman in a beautiful way. She is truly making her community better through art, and I can't wait for her to show us around. - This is my second outdoor mural. I was doing a lot of research, I was trying to connect with myself, and I found out that the first Statue of Liberty, on paper, was a black woman. - [Saada] I didn't know that at all. - Yeah, like, it was wild to me. - [Saada] Do you have a title for it? - [Megan] Lady Liberty, Please Know Thyself. - Yeah, it's nice, I like that. - Did you go to school to be an artist, or did you just pick it up yourself? - I always drew, I didn't take it seriously until my senior year in high school, but I went to Ringling College, and I have a BFA in Illustration. - Okay, cool. I'm telling you, I see myself in this. - Oh, that's the best compliment. 'Cause I wanted every black woman to connect with it. - Mm-hmm. - 'Cause you know, I'm talking about us. - [Saada] I don't really see a lot of art that I can see myself in sometimes, you know? And she got the black power fist, okay? - [Megan] Yay, yay! - You're one of out of three muralists that are women in Baltimore, correct? - Yeah. - Do you feel a obligation to represent your community in a specific way? - Black women are my biggest supporters, so I mean, I do feel responsible, but I'm also doing something that's completely natural, so I don't feel that I could mess up. - Yeah, you're doing you. - This is a part of the Art @ Work Program, seven young people helped me, we had to walk around the neighborhood and ask the community what they wanted. They wanted to see a piece that reflected present, past and future. And we put on her earrings, evolve. Like, we just said it. - [Saada] I love it. - I love how it's like, evolve is so bold. And that's kind of the first thing that maybe grabs your attention, once you look around at everything, you know, you see the evolution. - Black woman, she's the narrator. Everything else is second. She's kinda looking over her city. I was so excited to do this piece. You Are My Sister, Not My Competition. I depicted three women of three different shades, just being together. - [Saada] Mm-hmm. Artists are responsible for moving that culture forward, whether people recognize it or not. - Yeah. - We have the creativity, the visual creativity, to say something without getting in trouble for it. - Mm-hmm. - 'Cause it kind of softens it. - [Corey] I like how the hair is like, all connected. - Yeah, right! - And it's like, we are all one, like, we're all connected, ain't no reason for us to be beefin', okay? - Art can help you shape your identity, and when you can see it reflected like I do in Megan's murals, I realize how powerful that can be. So, I'm going to visit Gianna Rodriguez at Baltimore Youth Arts. Gianna uses art to help kids who are in, or have been in the justice system. She helps them find their own creativity and use it to craft what they want to stand for, while they learn the skills to find work in creative fields. - We're gonna be doing a three day installation. - Cool. - At Artscape, which is an annual arts event. The concept is about youth advocacy, juvenile justice system, - Stand up against police brutality, and destigmatize mental illness. - [Gianna] There you go. - Like, strengthen, probably like, getting homeless people off the streets, and giving them better homes. - [Saada] Maybe empower others? - Yeah, empower others. - Houses for all, equal housing? - [Daydria] Yeah. - These issues are the cause of why so many people are incarcerated. - Absolutely. - And that was kind of what we were getting to, so because it got so heavy, because it is so heavy, - It is. - You know, centuries of oppression, and mass incarceration, we were talking about instead of just saying, like, anti-this, anti-this, anti-this, like, what do we actually support? This one, and then we're gonna see if we can fit, - Do you like art? - Somewhat. I'm more into like, fashion. - Do you like to draw designs? - [Daydria] Yeah, these are my designs. - [Saada] I love this. - [Daydria] Thank you. - What about you? - I take inspiration from like, anime. - He can paint for hours. - Oh, wow. Oh, this is so cool! - [Da'Shawn] Thank you. - That's your signature? - Yeah. - That's cool. - Thank you. - I didn't have an art program or a teacher that made me feel like I could do it. I didn't feel like, lifted up. Coming here and giving screen printing a try, everyone was really helpful, and it made me want to try other types of art forms. - [Gianna] Make sure it's tight, and then we pull. Yay! - [Saada] Ooh, that one's perfect! - Making art with other people, what does that teach you? - See, that's like, complicated, 'cause you gotta work as a team. - [Gianna] Yes, sir. - If you want something to be perfect, but the other person doing it his way, and you doing it your way, - [Saada] You have to learn how to compromise, and that's what you have to do. - That's what it is. - [Daydria] If you do your own thing, maybe we could kinda compromise together. - Art, like, you don't always have an eraser, right? In life, you don't have an eraser, you have to work through it. Art allows you to imagine things that other things don't let you, it's part of everything. - With Everyday People, with Brothers and Sisters, even in my own neighborhood, but, just wanting to be more involved with the youth, I think, is something that I wanna take away. Bye, guys, thank you so much! I really appreciate, - I had fun with you today. - I had fun, too! Bye, thank you! One thing I'm surprised at so far is how much Baltimore has felt like a small town. Everyone seems to know each other, and strangers go out of their way to say hello. I want to explore more about why that is, and I have the perfect opportunity. Corey's mom says I can't leave Baltimore without eating some crabs, so we're picking some up, and I can experience my first proper crab feast. - It's great here because you can come here and get stuff to cook, or you can come here and get a meal, and sit down and eat it, so, - [Saada] Hi, how are you doin'? - [Corey] Okay, this is her first time in Baltimore, so, - [Saada] Yes! - Introducing her to crabs. I'ma get, um, three dozen of the 65 dollar ones. I'm looking at 'em like, ah! - [Saada] Thank you! - Thank you! - As we put the crabs in, do a layer, and you add a little Old Bay, and then you put another layer of crabs in, and then you put some beer to add flavor. - Usually do a lot more Old Bay than that. - Let 'em steam up, and then once they're nice and hot, you see the steam comin', - [Saada] Ooh! - And if you grab them from one of the back legs, you're good to go, okay. They are hot. Steaming hot, and you can smell the beer, steams 'em. - Mm-hmm. Ooh, look at that crab! - [Deanna] This one's nice and big. - [Saada] Oooh! - [Shan] That crab is so fancy. - [Gianna] This is so good! - Dump, hello. - [Saada] Oh my gosh. - [Shan] Oh, my God. - [Deanna] And so you grab, so, - [Saada] Show me. - You gotta rip this. - [Corey] Other way, right, and then, - [Shan] You just pull it. - [Deanna] And pull it, break it apart. - Do people go on first dates to eat crabs? This is not really a sexy thing. - No. - Well, - You have? - As a date? - [Deanna] Ryan would. - Oh, that's cute. - Gianna and Shan Wallace are joining Corey's family and I for dinner. Okay, got it! - [All] There you go! Shan is an incredible photographer whose work explores the experiences, identities, and struggles of black communities in Baltimore, and is the perfect addition to a conversation about the relationship between art and community. - There's nothing like getting a bushel of crabs and eating them outside your house on the porch, on somebody's steps. - Yeah, we would always have, like, cookouts, and of course, with the hamburgers and hot dogs, crabs was always on the menu. You pull the crabs out when it's a nice, warm day. When we got the first warm day, I ate a dozen of crabs. - [Saada] Oh, wow! - At my studio. The love for crabs is real. - I don't even remember when I opened my first crab, it's just, I've been eating crabs as long as I remember. - Since I've been in Baltimore, that it seems like a close knit neighborhood, I've probably got, all over my face. - No, you're good now. - You're good. - [Deanna] That's the fun of eating crabs! - But, there's a huge feeling like everyone knows everyone, what creates that sense of community here? - We just take everybody in as a family. - Yeah. - Coming here from Rhode Island, like, northeast, was also really shocking to me of just like, people being so nice. - Mm-hmm. All the young adults at your program are so kind. They are so welcoming. - Yeah, they're amazing. - Baltimore's a really small city. The things that happens on one side of town affects the entire city. - Really? How so? - You look at Freddy Gray. - [Saada] Mm-hmm. - We had the entire city comin' out, comin' to stand up, - [Deanna] Support. - Support, and so, that's how it always is. We stick together, 'cause we struggle together. The community's just so organic, and so loving, and so fun, and just so together. - I love this city already. I've only been here for a few days, and I'm just like, pleasantly surprised by it. I didn't realize how artistic it was. Like, it's super community based, and there's a lot of art, like, everywhere you turn, there's art. - I think that people are just inspired by the fact that they live in a city where they can just create art. - [Saada] Yeah. - That privilege, you know, that opportunity, is just a blessing in itself. I enjoy being an artist here. I see how my art truly serves its purpose, I see how it helps people, I see how people want to be a part, and believe in it. A lot of my images happen on the streets of Baltimore, so, interactions I have with people on the streets that I don't know, in neighborhoods that I didn't come from, where they aren't necessarily safe to some folks, it's actually affecting the communities, actually doing good, it's actually providing representation, I'm showing reflections of people who don't have their photograph taken, it's doing all of this good. So those moments tell me like, you got this. - [Saada] Mm-hmm. - This is what you're supposed to be doing. You know, 'cause it's teaching me a lot about myself, and also the city. - It's important for us at BYA to connect local artists, because it gives young people the opportunity to connect with folks like Megan Lewis, like Shan, and other people in the city who are doing amazing work, 'cause a lot of young people now are thinking about getting out of Baltimore, where they meet these other folks who are in the city, and you know, traveling, doing amazing work, coming back and really putting things into their community. - Like Megan Lewis, who live and work and make art in the city, for the city, and she does murals, you know. - Her work is actually in communities, people are actually seeing these different depictions of black women, of black people, it's right there in your face, - [Saada] And it's vibrant. - You see it and it's like, oh, that yellow poppin' out, - You can't ignore it. - you can't ignore it at all. - I definitely want to be more involved in my community. I know that I am in a lot of ways, and I create community, but I feel like I haven't touched the youth as much as I could have. Baltimore has been a revelation for me. Everyone made me feel like family, and I think that says a lot. It's green and beautiful, the women I've encountered have been so confident, so effortlessly cool with so much depth to them and their art. But what made the biggest impression on me was the inherent sense of community here. Everyone is expressing their own voice, but together, they are creating something truly special in the Baltimore art scene. People here wanted me to know, they aren't just what I've seen on TV, and it was true. I know I'll never see Baltimore the same. I wanna experience something very different from my life in New York, so I'm in Maine and out of my comfort zone. I wanna feel what it's like to come together around a connection to the natural world, and all of its bounty it provides us, from land and sea. If you're a captain or a farmer, it can seem like an isolated existence, so how do you form community? Especially if you're a group of women, in a traditionally male dominated industry? Colleen is taking me out to sea. She's a lobster fisherman, boat captain, and an incredible woman who uses her gifts to help those around her. Her life is so different than mine in New York, but I think in some ways we might be the same. - We're kinda coming up on the cove, if, - Oh, cool! What is that, moss? - [Colleen] That's actually rockweed. People use it for fertilizers and food and cosmetics. - [Saada] They eat it? - [Colleen] Yeah, yep! What brought you to Maine? - I hoped to learn to be more in tuned with nature. It's cool to be somewhere where you're, you catch your own food, you know what I mean? Like, I wanna experience that. Living in New York, there's so much access, and so much convenience, like, if I wanted Cambodian food at 2 a.m., I can get it. You know what I mean? - No, I don't know what you mean. - Oh, sorry! - Sorry. - Sorry. Colleen started Salt Sisters, where she helps women in recovery from addiction by giving them opportunities where they can have a safe space in connection with the earth, to aid in their recovery. It's an amazing way to bring people together and experience the healing nature provides. - When I first got into recovery, there was a lot of really wonderful women that helped me early on. But there was one woman specifically who said, think about the things that alcohol took away from you. Having a farm was on that list. So, growing kelp, growing oysters, growing mussels, so I said, okay, I'm gonna start working towards that goal. I realized, if this is something that I'm working towards now, because I have this sobriety in my life, really, a gift that was given to me, from these other women that helped me, why am I not including them? - Yeah. What aspect of it do you think is healing? - Being really present in the moment, because you're paying attention to a task, you know, you're working with your hands, that's really grounding, to actually be nurturing something, to be growing something. - [Saada] And seeing a result, also. - Yeah, and then seeing a result from it. I really wanted to provide a place that was a healthy work environment. Where they could connect with other women, or you can make a day's pay without having to be put into a situation which could lead to relapse. There's a lot of aspects to it that I think can help a lot of people. - You're showing them that they can help each other. The thing that has helped me in my work, is that I have teammates who, if I can't do something, I ask for help, and they don't make me feel bad about it, they're like, yeah, I'm here for you. It's a team. - That's how we get through life. - [Saada] Mm-hmm, yeah. Is there something about the water that gives you strength? - I think it gives me calm more than strength. A peace of mind. You know, it does include strength, because there have been situations where I've been uncomfortable, and I've had to push myself through to do something, and I made it, and that was a learning experience where it's like okay, I can do this again. Do you think you're about ready to try out this lobster thing? - Yeah, you know what, I don't know. I'm gonna watch you and I'm gonna try my best, that's all I can do. - Alright. We'll have fun, it'll be good. - Lobster fishing sounds awesome, I know not one person who's done it. And why not try something new, even it's challenging? - Right. - [Saada] I'm nervous. - [Colleen] No need to be nervous. - Okay. Where do you poke him? - So, you go right through the eyeballs. - Yuck. I guess I've seen grosser things in my life. - And then pull it. Nice! - Thank you! Do you say fisherwoman, or do you just say fisherman? - [Colleen] Fisherman is, - Yeah, there's no fisherwoman, you know. - Either works, though. - Just trying to be gender conscious. - Yeah. Nice! - Use this one! - Oh, you're not doing it, there you go, you're free. - Get outta the way! Lift from my legs, wait, whaa! - [Colleen] Nice. - That was a little bit better. - All those traps are tied on to this line, you'll see it when they go out, you can watch them go out, - [Saada] Oh, wow! - [Colleen] They're all, right out on a string. - I didn't even know how you catch them. I thought it was just like a big ass net, and you just go whoo, - The tail is good, and it's a male. That's actually a keeper lobster. We got one. - How come he didn't move, he didn't even try and bite you, he just was like, man, I know, it's over. - I give up. - Where I grab him? - Grab him right on the back. - Lobsters seemed like they were gonna pinch me, like a cartoon character just like, pinch my nose. - [Colleen] Alright, just pull him out. - Get outta here! Get your ass outta here! I'm holdin' a lobster. - Like that, that one's actually really close. - Ohh! - But he's not quite there, you want it to be right there. - Ohh, okay, gotcha. - So we have to throw him back. - Okay, sorry, buddy. Actually not sorry, you're not getting eaten. - Grab both their claws with one hand, like that. - Okay. - [Colleen] You squeeze, yup, - Sorry, bud. - Yup, go down, exactly. So that's a keeper lobster. - Okay! - You can have that for dinner. - Ahh, I don't know. - [Colleen] Do you eat lobster? - I eat lobster, but I feel an attachment now. No I'm just kidding, I will tear that, up! Thank you for giving me that opportunity. - Yeah! It's a cool experience. - [Saada] I'm really proud of you. - Thanks. - And you're strong not only physically, but, in so many other ways. - Yeah. - I'm workin' on the physical part, next time I see you, hopefully I'll be able to just lift things. - Doin' reps, go to the gym. - They'll be like, "What are you doing this for? "For a summer body?" No, for lobster fishing. - I'm goin' fishing, yeah. - Hi! - [Bethany] Hi, welcome! - My friend Bethany is the captain of the famous schooner called Alert. She's agreed to take me sailing and teach me what it takes to be a strong female captain. It seems like a tough job, and I hope I don't accidentally sink us. - So, what we're gonna do is we're gonna raise the main sail first. This is our main sail here, and then we're gonna raise our foresail, that's the next one up. All the way together, please. - [Male Sailor] There we go. - Beautiful. All the way together. - Aahh! - [Bethany] You're doing great. Pull here, both hands, good, ready? - Mm-hmm. - Great. Woohoo! - Yeah! - To be a captain, it's more than standing at the wheel and driving the boat. - [Saada] Yeah. - It's being a leader, exactly. I am responsible for everybody's safety here. - [Saada] Mm-hmm. Are there a lot of women who are captains, or? - Um, there are some, there's more all the time. It's definitely a male dominated field. But, the women that are captains, they know their stuff. My experience has been, I need to do a lot more things really well, - [Saada] Same here. - In order to get ahead. - [Saada] Mm-hmm. Like, there's a lot of sort of nitty gritty stuff, like, pulling and scrubbing, and being strong, and being able to lift and move things, and I've been really lucky in that I've been pretty strong right along, and been able, - [Saada] In many ways. - Yeah, and been able to physically and mentally and emotionally do this stuff. - There's something so uplifting being so present and connected to the world around you. There's a peaceful and empowering sense I get in the natural world, and there's something alluring about making your living on the sea. Seeing Colleen and Bethany fearlessly do their jobs with excellence inspires me to confront my own fears and self doubt. I've asked Colleen and Bethany to meet me at Winslow Farm just outside of Portland, Maine, where Krysten and and her family work on their organic farm. We're going to make a picnic and talk about life and community around connection to the earth and the sea. - You wanna give it a try? - [Saada] Sure, I don't know, what do you do, you just push it down? - It's quite easy, here, come. - Just push it? - Yeah, just push it. - Oh, this is easy, it's not that, ooh, okay, I lied. - And if it gets stuck, pull it back. - [Saada] I spoke too soon! - [Krysten] You're a little deep, lift it up, there you go. And keep the front wheel on the ground. There you go, there you go! - [Saada] Wow, you must be super strong. - I brought some harvesting stuff out, to get some stuff for lunch. Just watch your fingers because that knife is really sharp. - As Krysten shows us around the farm, I can tell you, it's incredibly satisfying to pick the food you're about to eat. I don't get to do that in Brooklyn, but I wish I could. Ow, oh! Oh, this is delicious! - Mm-hmm. - That is probably the freshest thing I've ever had. Plus, when you get to combine the food you pick with the lobsters you caught yourself on the boat, what could be better? - [Bethany] Oh, it's so good. - [Krysten] Wow, thank you guys, this is amazing. - [Saada] No, thank you. Do you work with other women, too? - I moved to Maine to be part of a farming community, and a recovery community. - [Saada] Oh, okay. - When I first moved here, I lived in an all women's sober house, and we actually just recently started working with them to have women come out here on a weekly or monthly basis. I feel like I have a lot of spirituality here, you know, you're working with the earth and other people, and it's hard work. - [Saada] And you're living in the moment. - Yeah, so it's like, people want to get their hands dirty. - Oh, I know, I live in New York City, so yeah. - I also needed the work involved that we do here. Being tired at the end of the day, I never really, - And not emotionally tired, - Yeah, it's like, I'm ready for bed. - These different environments are just, they're such great places to heal, and, it's really calm, it's like it gives your mind space. You know, you can get away from the chaos, and, - [Bethany] The noise. - And the noise, yeah, exactly. - All the noise, yeah. - [Saada] You like working with your hands, too. - Oh, yeah, I do, I love it. - I don't think I would be able to have stayed in New York as long if I didn't have a sense of community with the women in my life. - I always thought like, I just have to be tough, and like, that's not what makes me a stronger person. What makes me a stronger person is being true to myself, - Asking when you need help, too. - Yes! - [Bethany] Asking for help has been the hardest - So hard. - thing to learn as a grown-up. - [Saada] Yeah, no, same. - [Krysten] Totally. - And accepting help. - Yeah. Being women who are in the industries we're in, and doing the work that we're doing, the communication that we have with each other, to call each other in the middle of the day, or like, in the middle of a situation, and just be like, I'm falling apart, I need support here. It's so empowering to have relationships like that, because it supports me not only physically, but emotionally, too, - To take a break! 'Cause you do need to recharge, it's not, you are not superwoman at all times. - I know. - Like, you're human. It's amazing to see all of you strong in different ways, not only physically but mentally, it's super inspiring. Creating a space for people to come together is so important to me, and I get so much joy from seeing it at each Everyday People event. As I explore other communities, I'm struck with how different they can look. Community means different things to different people, but at the heart of each one I've encountered is a desire to connect with each other. I've learned so much traveling and meeting these incredible women, and I'll take so much from all of them into my own life. I think the biggest thing I've learned, is we all want to connect and we all want to belong, and each of us deserve to. And if you're intentional about that, something amazing happens, and you never know what you might become a part of.

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