Alt*Div is…

In 2016, Open Master’s launched Alt*Div as a community for spiritually-rooted learning and action grounded in wisdom traditions, outside of institutional divinity schools, and beyond religious classifications.

In our first two years, we have organized two cohorts of self-directed learners from a wide range of spiritual backgrounds and identities. We are now lifelong companions in each other’s journeys of being, becoming, and taking action in a time of crisis and change.

With the generous support of our partner, On Being, in 2018 Alt*Div also began a period of intentional reflection, story gathering, and collective discernment about our next steps. We will be sharing the gifts of our journey so far in 2019, and well as future invitations to participate in our ongoing, emergent community.

The Firebirds, est. 2017

Our second group launched in Maryland, USA in August 2017.

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Alexander Nabíl Ahdieh Kruszewski

Baha'i youth organizer, musician, linguist, scientist.

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Diana Marin

Pilgrim. Catholic by heritage, mystic at heart. Exploring themes of vision, courage, and roots.

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Didier Sylvain

Ph.D candidate in ethnomusicology. Lightworker and sound artist, teaching and creating medicine. 

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Hadar Cohen

Jewish Queen, feminist + spiritual warrior, lover of God, dance + theory, committed to truth + justice. Exploring power through divinity.

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India Pierce

Photographer, organizer, and Ph.D student. Rooted in the expansive spiritual freedom of the past, present, and future of queer divine embodiment.

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Jax Gil

Soulful facilitator. Liberatory community builder. Relational culture worker. Spiritual activist. Eats arepas and talks feelings.

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Meera Ghani

A Muslim feminist, mother and activist. Exploring sacred motherhood through the themes of being, bond and bearing witness.

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Natalie Zerial

Human rights lawyer exploring identities through migration, motherhood, mourning.

Olivia

Olivia Marlowe-Giovetti

Ways of remembering. Listening as radical hospitality. Furious art in difficult times. Life after loss.

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Poppy Liu

Actress, activist, poet. Queer spirituality through divine art-making with love as a highest teacher.

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Prerna Abbi-Scanlon

Exploring the impact of appropriation and exotification, and the reclamation of Hindu culture and practices for herself.

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Sandra Kim

Founder of Everyday Feminism and Compassionate Activism, sharing her Buddhist journey toward social liberation. 

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Tariq Al-Olaimy

Making visible the effects of the invisible. Creating compassionate communities of purpose for both Public and Planet.

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Tyler Hess

Ecosystem healer serving biological community through nutrition and detoxification, body work and sacred movement.

 

The Hummingbirds, est. 2016

Our inaugural group launched in New Mexico in August 2016.

Adam Horowitz

Chief Instigator, U.S. Department of Arts and Culture

Alan Webb

Co-founder and steward of the Open Master’s Community. More.

Ashleigh Shepherd

Movement teacher, exploring what it means to be human through dance, yoga, and play. Student of children.

Brittany Koteles

Soulful improviser & script-flipper, dabbling filmmaker, writer, host.

Cole Parke

Tender-hearted organizer, activist, dreamer, and schemer, fighting for collective liberation and revolutionary grace.

David Bronstein

Cultural healer through music and counseling. David's Open Master's Learning Plan.

David Sievers

Exploring existential dread by way of climate activism, cycling, and dad jokes. 

Devin Karbowicz

Social psychologist turned community builder using art and play to connect strangers in novel ways.

Lily Padilla

Learner, Writer, Healer, Organizer.

Marien Baerveldt

Social entrepreneur, learner, facilitator in meaning making and way finding, gardener. More.

Mildred Williams

Carrying forward the hopes and struggles of her ancestors.

Mojdeh Rezaeipour

Artist, Writer, Storyteller. Instigator of Creative Communities. More.

Neha Misra

Artist, Poet, Social Entrepreneur connecting dots across inner and outer geographies. 

Orion Stephanie Johnstone

Composer, Sex Educator,
Queer Rights Lover-Fighter. (More)

Priya Parrotta

Writer, Singer, Lifelong Learner. More.

Riley Teahan

Designer, Director, and Producer, interested in the tactile and the ephemeral.

Ruth Moir

Community Creator, Questioner, Kindness champion, Learner, Deep Listener & Belly Laugher. 

Sarah Jane Bradley

Co-founder, creative director, and steward of the Open Master's. Plays with design, words, songs, cities.

Veena Vasista

Scribe, Storyteller, Bridge, Mirror. Co-Creating Love, Beauty and Play.

 

Alt*Div Believes

"Community ministry" can look like many things...
The thread that seems to run through everything you do is a quest for human connection and belonging. You have worked hard to create ways for this to happen, and you are yearning to find ways to support your own learning and growth on this journey. Perhaps you have thought about actually going to divinity school, formal ministry, or counseling, but you are not sure these are the right paths for you.

Spiritual pluralism is a core value...
Many don't identify with just one spiritual home. Whether raised in multiple faiths, distanced from their own tradition, or drawn to the cracks between affiliations; alt*divvers view such non-traditional identities as a strength, not an add-on.

Pursuit of justice = spiritual leadership...
We live in a world built on intersecting systems of oppression. In order to build cultures of courage, care, and wholeness, we must see the direct relationship between spiritual formation and the pursuit of justice.

Practical learning is in the books and on the ground...
There are artists, entrepreneurs, and movement builders who are already doing work in the world. They are seeking to integrate that work fully into their learning journey, instead of adding isolated "coursework" on top.

How We Welcome

This group represents, welcomes, and is intentionally woven together through what each of us carries and contributes from many different backgrounds and experiences. We do this with the hope of building something more beautiful and strong together than we would ever be able to create in silos of separation.

In order to do this, we do not just include many perspectives across race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexuality, and, religion, but we intentionally weave together and build our community by:

  • Centering the voices, needs, and experiences of those who do not benefit from the privileges of Whiteness or cultural supremacy in other forms (such as Christian Supremacy). We are deeply committed to both dismantling and healing the wounds of these cultures of supremacy, in all of their manifestations, because we understand that all of our liberation is inextricably bound up with each others’. We acknowledge that we come from a world built on intersecting and overlapping systems of privileges and oppression, so we hold ourselves and each other to the highest standards of resisting replicating cultures and patterns of violence that exist in our wider culture (and therefore in ourselves) within our community.

  • Putting pluralism of religious and cultural traditions (including “none”) at our very heart. Many of us come from or have explored multiple faith traditions or sources of meaning making. At the same time we challenge ourselves to be sincere in our explorations, and conscious of appropriation and colonial tendencies while grasping for meaning from traditions outside our family and culture of origin.

  • Are not a gender-binary-conforming group. We are LGBTQ+, and LGBTQ+ welcoming.

Whatever our background, each person is invited to shape the way this group works, according to the gifts and wisdom they carry. We strive to always be learning and growing in our practice and understanding of how to create loving and healing spaces because we understand that our liberation is collective. 

An Alt*Div Learning Journey Includes

Before we ever meet, we use the tools of Open Master's to invite big questions and listening to our guiding why; why we are here, and what might be calling to us this year, and beyond. A series of welcome calls and peer mentoring in June and July introduce us to each other and help us hone in on our shared questions and hopes.

Before we ever meet, we use the tools of Open Master's to invite big questions and listening to our guiding why; why we are here, and what might be calling to us this year, and beyond. A series of welcome calls and peer mentoring in June and July introduce us to each other and help us hone in on our shared questions and hopes.

Participants launch the year with the support, celebration, and accountability of the group.  Major touchstones  throughout the year include monthly check-in "Family Calls", mentor circles, and affinity groups and projects around shared themes. In the first half of the year we focus on  Foundations  of our spiritual practices, community, and self-directed learning. In the second, we  focus  and dive deeper into the questions and areas of interest that have risen to the top.

Participants launch the year with the support, celebration, and accountability of the group. Major touchstones throughout the year include monthly check-in "Family Calls", mentor circles, and affinity groups and projects around shared themes. In the first half of the year we focus on Foundations of our spiritual practices, community, and self-directed learning. In the second, we focus and dive deeper into the questions and areas of interest that have risen to the top.

AUGUST: A one-week process of translating purpose to action; goals to plans. Because we recognize this community to be a major source of support and accountability, significant time is invested into the relationships, shared interests, and common values of the group.

AUGUST: A one-week process of translating purpose to action; goals to plans. Because we recognize this community to be a major source of support and accountability, significant time is invested into the relationships, shared interests, and common values of the group.

The end of the year is a "sending" into what's next: a ritual of transition more than an end. We do the work of harvesting our learnings as a gift to each other and the larger community, as an opportunity to show appreciation and acknowledgement, and as opportunity to welcome the next group(s).

The end of the year is a "sending" into what's next: a ritual of transition more than an end. We do the work of harvesting our learnings as a gift to each other and the larger community, as an opportunity to show appreciation and acknowledgement, and as opportunity to welcome the next group(s).

 

Each individual’s “program” in Alt*Div is unique, and is designed around and supported by:

Your LEARNING GOALS:

  • A personal learning plan you will craft with our help and that of the community, perhaps including...

  • Exploration of new (or old) spiritual practices

  • Individual or group projects

  • Reading of sacred texts

  • Solo journeys

  • Creative expressions of what you are learning to the public (through art, writing, and other means)

Your COMMUNITY:

  • Monthly “family calls"

  • Participation in affinity groups

  • Peer mentoring relationships throughout the year

  • Leadership, hosting, or organizing roles in the community itself (our community is led from within)

  • One-off offerings related to what we're learning (such as book discussions and skillsharing)

  • Building relationships with mentors and elders in our community and beyond

Interested in being a part of Alt*Div, joining, organizing, or supporting this community? Interested in helping tell our story? Let us know and we’ll keep you in the loop about new developments.

Sign up to receive email updates from the Alt*Div community.

(a couple of times a year)