It was not my real name but people said I look like a willow, so it kind of got stuck.
I was an activist and a community organizer from 2010 and 2015. In 2010, I co-founded with two other people the Jaguar Sisters organization, which was set out to educate and empower women who experience extreme poverty. In the autumn of 2011, I joined the worldwide Occupy movement and over time became one of the key leaders in its Portland (Oregon)-area organization. In the original Occupy Portland encampment I founded and organized the Interfaith Guild of Chaplains. In 2013, I spearheaded a well-attended regional Occupy capacity building conference and which led to organization of the 99 Unite Civic Forum. From 2013 to 2015 I served as a member of the Friends of Occupy Portland board of directors until its demise.
After my involvement with activism and community organizing, I decided to direct my work into launching a startup that would train people who experience poverty and social disadvantages to start their own hyper-micro-enterprises and/or community organizations.
In addition, I am studying feminist theology at a master’s level. My research interests include the history of North American churches and women’s leadership therein. My thesis will comparatively survey two different religious movements in the United States: Pentecostalism (e.g. Assemblies of God, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel) and New Thought (e.g. Unity, Centers for Spiritual Living) and how women’s roles and views on women in these movements changed over time.
From 2005 to 2007, I was an ordained priest in a reformed catholic church, and was once a bishop-elect at the age of 32. However, after some heated disagreements over issues such as marriage equality and institutional misogyny within Christianity, I was expelled from that church by its presiding archbishop. I was also a Benedictine Oblate at the time.
From 2008 until 2011, I was a de facto leader of a feminist religious movement called “Filianism.” Today there are several active organizations and teachers of this movement. But after having spent much time in activism and community organizing I felt that I was rather looking for a community, and no longer felt that I needed a religion to fill that need. After maybe two to three years of being an agnostic secularist, however, I realized that how I relate to spirituality could not be the same as those of neurotypical folks – after facing the reality that I wasn’t capable of spirituality even though I was very good at religions. This letting go, however, led to the Unity church and the New Thought approach of self-discipline through retraining of mind. This time it worked for me. I remain very active in a local Unity congregation. Based on that experience I have reintegrated my former interest in religious feminism, and became a licensed priestess to form La Agrupación Artemisa.
I am very much interested in learning how and why people think, believe, and behave. But spirituality has been one of those things I always felt foreign and difficult, perhaps because of neurological differences that are very much part of my life experiences on the autistic spectrum. I have started a project called Know Your Planet Earth! (KYPE!) because of my long-time love for social studies. My hope is that through KYPE! I can contribute to a society with less hatred and divisions by inspiring a sense of curiosity and wonder in every person.
I am also a working visual artist. I have shown in many exhibits since 2008. My specialties are mostly watercolor, ink illustrations, and mixed-media 2D works.
My current projects
- limeadestand works. – Equipping marginalized people for self-liberation through microenterprise and community self-organizing.
- La Agrupación Artemisa – Religious feminist ministries and religious education from a New Thought perspective.
- Know Your Planet Earth! – Winning a battle over hate one person at a time through igniting curiosity and wonder.
- alleycatmews – Fine art portfolio, exhibits, instructions and commissioned projects.
- Estancia Serenova – A new retreat and event center in Columbia County, Oregon.
- Felines of Portland, Oregon – some of the neighborhood cats that come out of nowhere and follow me around.
My former projects
- 99 Unite Civic Forum
- Lightspark Commons Interfaith Solidarity Cascadia (originally Interfaith Guild of Chaplains)
- Diaspora firstname.lastname@example.org
- GNU Social gs.sdf.org/salixchinensis
- Instagram @willow.salix
- Twitter @salix_chinensis