GREEN ISSUE Konda Mason is a yoga teacher, filmmaker, and producer. But above all she’s an activist, one of the most energetic Bay Area voices leading the effort to support sustainable practices in marginalized communities, and connect spiritual practice with real-world environmental action. Mason’s the co-director of the new HUB Oakland community-building center (www.huboakland.net), a partner in Earthseed Consulting, LLC (www.earthseedconsulting.com), which designs and promotes environmental projects with an emphasis on diversity, and a board member of the East Bay Meditation Center (www.eastbaymeditation.org). On Sat/20, she’s teaching at Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Earth Day event, “Responses to Climate Change: Awareness, Action, and Celebration.” Last week, she spoke to me over the phone about connectivity, diversity, and the difference between “change” and “transformation.”
San Francisco Bay Guardian You’re both a yoga-meditation teacher and an environmental activist. How do these two aspects of your life intersect?
Konda Mason Yoga and meditation give you that time to pause and quiet the chatter in your head and connect to that place inside that is unchanging and feels connected to the whole. You feel the deep inner connectivity that you have with all things in those moments, that connection with all life.
SFBG One of your main efforts has been introducing the African American community to green practices.
KM Marginalized people in general are left out of every important conversation that affects them the most. It’s more about social economics than race. When we look at who is on the frontline of impact, it’s always the marginalized: women, children, youth, the poor, and people of color. I’m a filmmaker by trade, so when I became a part of Earthseed, the idea came to me to create an online series called “Green Street Loft,” a fun, accessible, and culturally relevant series for the African American audience. It hasn’t launched yet, but stay tuned.
SFBG Years ago, you were a founder of the International Association for Black Yoga teachers. Do you think diversity is increasing in the yoga community?
KM I do believe that people are seeing more and more diversity in general in areas around spiritual pursuits. These days, I also teach at Spirit Rock and help lead the annual People of Color meditation retreat. The thing to me that is lacking more than anything is men. Everything I do, the audience is always predominantly women! That is where the attention needs to be drawn.
SFBG And now you’re starting HUB Oakland. What is that?
KM The HUB is a global movement of people who are working on solutions to better the world. It’s a place where people can come and collaborate and meet each other and work together, a place for conversation and action to happen. It’s for social entrepreneurs, and for sustainable business ideas that need incubation to get to the next level. It exists on five different continents. San Francisco is the biggest and most successful HUB in the network. Now, HUB Oakland is starting.
SFBG How will HUB Oakland be different than other HUBs?
KM Every HUB takes on the personality of its city. HUB Oakland will probably be the most diverse HUB in the network in terms of ethnicity and ages. We will have workshops about personal growth and spiritual growth with people from Silicon Valley to Spirit Rock. Everybody is invited.
SFBG When will it open?
KM We have a building on Broadway between 23rd and 24th streets that we signed a lease on. We move there in October. It’s a 60,000-square foot space that is just beautiful. Until then, we’re in a pop-up place, a 2000-square foot old bank through the help of the City of Oakland and Popuphood (www.popuphood.com).
SFBG Tell us about the Earth Day event at Spirit Rock this weekend.
KM I’m looking forward to it. There will be some really key people there who are committed to environment and sustainability. The thing about this movement to “change the world” is that “change” and “transformation” are two different things. What’s lasting is transformation. It begins with the individual. We can window-dress something and make it look green, but if we haven’t transformed ourselves, it will revert back to the way it was. This is why the contemplative practices and wisdom traditions are so essential to sustainability. They foster change in the individual.
RESPONSES TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Sat/20, 9:30am-4:30pm, $25–$108 sliding scale
5000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Woodacre, Marin