Projects of my heart-mind cross disciplines and fields. I appreciate the word “praxis” to mean the process of reflecting, acting, and then reflecting once more on what we learn in relationship and in our embodied experiences.
These fields of praxis include spiritual care and chaplaincy, youth-led community organizing, transnational organizing, faith-rooted organizing, community-based participatory research, radical pedagogy and grassroots non-profit development, anti-racist culture-making, and permaculture-informed social design and facilitation.
See below for current projects and previous projects.
Facilitator of Restorative Approaches to Intimate Violence with Ahimsa Collective
The Ahimsa Collective holds space for a 12- to 15-month circle program in California prisons utilizing restorative justice practices to explore participants’ relationship to intimate violence– which includes family abuse, sexual violence, and domestic violence. The program “draws on a restorative justice and trauma healing philosophy in a supportive setting” and explores topics such as “trauma, resiliency, accountability, gender socialization, structural and historical conditions of violence, shame and worth, breaking silence, cycles of offense, and impact on victims/survivors.”
This interdisciplinary program for youth ages 16–19 focuses on teaching permaculture ethics and principles as they relate to ecological and social justice, community, and place-based culture. The program includes hands-on skill building, small group mentorship, and culminates in an integrated ecological-social-creative design project and/or rite of passage/rite of competency.
Participation and Participatory Scholarship for Anti-Racist Culture-Making and Organizing
Within the communities of AWARE-LA (Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere-Los Angeles) and WP4BL (White People for Black Lives), I participate as a community member, facilitator of conflict resolution space, and support to some program activities, such as the annual Unmasking Whiteness Institute. I have also begun my dissertation on the topic of the praxis of white affinity spaces in disrupting white supremacy culture as part of multiracial organizing. The dissertation will utilize participatory program evaluation to develop and assess indicators of disruption of white supremacy culture as part of these affinity organizing spaces towards more effective and affective praxis.
Decolonial Praxis and Sacred Scholarship with the Bardo Sisterhood: “From Landmines to Lotuses”
Bardo Sisterhood is a collaboration of Samantha Gupta and liberation artivist Amber McZeal. The team hosts experiential, ritual-style “workshops/deep-shops” for communities interested in exploring the impacts of colonialism on our bodies and relationships, as well as the possibilities of a “decolonial turn” in our daily lives with our bodies and the people we work, play, and create with. Amber and Samantha first hosted an event for the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association of the Pacific Central District at their bi-annual retreat in Northern California in 2017. Through story, reflection, guided somatic experience, image, and dialogue, the community explored the ways that systems of power shape their day-to- day relationships.
Rural Race Dialogue
As a collaboration with Methodist pastor Rev. AJ Bush in Gillette, Wyoming, Rural Race Dialogue hosts experiential workshops that engage white-majority Christian communities in rural settings in reflection, conversation, and strategic action for racial justice in their local, rural contexts. The project explores the creation of racial identity and racism through historical, cultural, and institutional reflections and simulations– with specific attention to the lived, local histories of the host community. The workshop is informed by curriculum from AWARE-LA in Los Angeles, includes Center for Engaged Compassion contemplative practices, and is shaped by mentors from across the United States committed to anti-racism. AJ and Samantha have hosted this worship-meets-experiential-workshop in congregation and community-based settings in Wyoming, including a day-long simulation for the “All Wyoming Round Up” of over 60 Methodist ministers across the state of Wyoming in 2017.
Youth-Led and Transnational Community Organizing:
The Child Leader Project (CLP)
From 2008-2013, I founded and led Child Leader Project as the board president and Executive Learner. Child Leader Project or (CLP) was developed specifically to create safe and engaging spaces for young people and their allies to reflect, connect, dialogue, act and regenerate their lives on social and ecological justice issues that mattered most to them. During my time as the Executive Learner, the organization led programs and projects for over 500 young people from South India, Southern California and Mexico. This organization was recognized as an innovator in it’s field, including recognition from Clinton Global Initiative University, Sister Cities International, Rotary Bangalore-India, Riverside City Hall-California, and the University of California, Riverside (UCR). In 2011, Child Leader Project split into two separate groups– Child Leader Project in the USA, and Trust for Youth and Child Leadership in India- to provide year-around leadership development for young people in their local communities. CLP’s activities included the following:
- Send US to India: Exchange programs of high school youth activists to South India, to study Indian activism.
- Confronteras: This program partners with Borderlinks to connect high school youth immigration activists to those on both sides of the border who are committed to human rights for all.
- Arlanza Community Garden: A regeneration of a fallowed community garden in one of Riverside’s seven food deserts.
- Social Justice Saturdays: Innovative-one-day programs for youth activists to learn, through a experience and dialogue, the social and ecological justice issues in their local and regional communities.
Media about Samantha Gupta and CLP:
- CNN Interview with Samantha Wilson (Gupta), October 2009
- University of California highlights Samantha Wilson (Gupta) and Child Leader Project, December 2012
- Advancement Project Highlights Samantha Wilson (Gupta) and Child Leader Project Mapping as part of 21st Century Civil Rights – 2013
- CLP’s Official YouTube Page: “Vision of CLP” (20 Videos)
Principle-Based Activism/Spiritual Activism: Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministries
From 2009-2012, I served as a consultant and curriculum developer for the Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministries of CA. In response to the need to develop impactful, spiritually-grounded, leadership training programs for young adults (age 18-35), I collaborated with Rev. Sonya Sukalski to develop SALT: Spiritual Activist Leadership Training. This innovative program combined experiential learning, theological reflection, hybrid learning models and mentorship to provide young adult Unitarian Universalists with the theological and activist skills to make changes in their local communities. To get “taste” of SALT and what spiritual activism for young adults can do, check out this video made by SALT fellow, Michael Grohsman.
Community-Based Participatory Action Research
From 2009-2011, I was the founding coordinator of the office of Undergraduate Research in the Community (UGRC) for the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education at the University of California, Riverside. In this role, I developed partnerships with over 25 community-based partners in the Inland Empire, matching nearly 100 students to community projects and faculty mentors. The office hosted a Community-Based Research Seminar, community presentations and dialogues for local organizations and matching services for faculty, students and community partners.