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Affinity renews Burning Bowl tradition
by Vern Hester
2023-03-23

This article shared 4286 times since Thu Mar 23, 2023
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On the afternoon of March 19, Affinity Community Services held Burning Bowl 2023 Renewal: And Still We Rise at the Pavilion at the Dan Ryan Woods.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first in-person presentation of Burning Bowl in three years. The sold out event featured performances, an early dinner, and an awards presentation. More than anything, the celebration focused not only on the past but also the future, as noted by both award recipients and digital artist, podcaster and keynote speaker Anna DeShawn.

The Burning Bowl ritual has long been used as a ritual designed to help individuals become clear in their intentions while releasing old habits. On a sheet of paper provided by the organization, members and guests write down things they wish to leave behind, be it a relationship, a life tendency or a problem. This sheet of paper is later personally burned by the author for release.

On another sheet of paper, members and guests are invited to write a letter to themselves, including goals and plans for the upcoming year. Affinity sends this letter back to the author in the fall as a reminder.

At the start of the celebration, the packed room was treated to a riveting performance by Drum Divas, who specialize in African drumming, and who flavored the proceedings with authenticity and tradition. After welcoming remarks from Board Director Phyllis Johnson and remarks by Board President Aisha N. Davis, film maker, published author, activist and poet E. Nina Jay presented a poem of remembrance.

As guests sat down to dinner, Jacqueline Boyd and Phyllis Johnson presented The Robbie Smith Award of Excellence to veteran lesbian organizer, activist, social service volunteer and co-creator of Executive Sweet Pat McCombs. Peer group leader Ishara Standley was surprised to receive The Above and Beyond Award of Innovation from Ann Rowell and Ilka Hampton and said, "I could always see myself in Affinity because this is home."

Keynote Speaker DeShawn said, "Who'd have thought that an organization started by Black lesbians would last 27 years? Now that we've gotten through the pandemic, pancake, or whatever you want to call it, we have to ask ourselves what are we going to do now? We have everything we need in this room for Affinity to be here another 27 years."

She later said, "Affinity is intergenerational...there are very few organizations that are intergenerational because that's hard. I want all of you to realize how special Affinity is. … There are many people who do important work in Chicago who need Affinity. There are people who have not yet been born who will need Affinity."

DeShawn later said, "Chicago ain't ready for what Affinity can accomplish with the people in this room."

After the keynote address, members were encouraged to make their two lists and participate in The Burn.

Affinity Community Services is a social justice organization serving the needs of the Black LGBTQ community of Chicago with a particular focus on Black women. The organization is focused on improving health disparities, the development of employment, economic, and life skills to promote achievement and break cycles of inequity and to engage in the political process and develop leaders in the Black LGBTQ community.

For more information call 773-324-0377 or go to www.affinity95.org . To become a facilitator of a peer-led group at Affinity go to affinity95.org/get-involved .


This article shared 4286 times since Thu Mar 23, 2023
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