A Difficult Decision

It is with many mixed emotions that we’re writing to let you know we’ve decided to dissolve Black Mountain Circle. This decision came out of a 50 day prayer that Kamala and Kailea began on Earth Day. We intentionally placed our work down as part of quieting our minds that were so eager to find a solution to running an events-based organization during this pandemic, and to let ourselves soften to receive a message on the right way forward.

In July, we entered into a facilitated discernment process along with board member, Alison Wright. The four of us brought our various thoughts about how to appropriately meet this moment and stay true to BMC’s values and mission. We arrived at a meeting point of recommending to the Board that we dissolve Black Mountain Circle. Some of our thoughts around this conclusion follow here.

Being that we are a small non-profit, we have operated within lean financial margins. Our in-person events and programs were integral to having the economic means to run, and like many other nonprofits, we relied each year on receiving generous donations in order to make up the gap. Based on the fact that we still do not know the reality of COVID-19, the economic freefall that we are facing and when we can safely run programs again, it feels financially irresponsible to continue to seek outside funding support, knowing that many organizations will be in dire need in the coming year.

As you may remember from a few months back, Kailea penned an essay that detailed our decision to not pivot our programs online. This was a big and hard choice and one that we have thought through again over the past months. It seemed like an easy fix as to how to keep things running through this time of uncertainty and change, yet as time has gone on, and our lives continue to be pulled ever more to our screens, it continues to feel far away from our mission. Our work has always been about offering experiences that directly and tangibly connect us to land, community and spirit.

Moving with integrity and honesty have been our core values in this discernment process as well as taking into account that we just don’t know two things:

1. When we will be allowed to gather again
The timeline keeps moving back and with the recent surge in cases in Marin it seems this will not likely be possible until 2021, or later.

2. What the world will need when we can gather again
It feels clear to us that we are in the midst of a social and cultural revolution. So much of what we have provided over the years, however beautiful and impactful, seems at this moment not able to meet some of the clear needs of this pivotal time. We say this taking into account that Marin is the most racially disparate county in all of California, and note that it feels vital to us to add to this moment and not detract from the demands being articulated by Black, Brown, Indigenous and poor communities.

As part of holding ourselves accountable to what seems like a birthing of a new world, we are recommending that a portion of our reserved funding will be gifted as reparations to the Ohlone and Winnemem Wintu people and to organizations whose work we see as integral in this moment and continues our mission.

We hope you can feel and hear us in how big this process of discernment has been.
We hope you can feel and hear our commitment to collective liberation through shedding and redistributing as we see fit.
We hope you will support our decision. 

We are grateful to so many people, named and unnamed, who made this work possible over the past five years. Steve Costa and Kate Levinson for founding Black Mountain Circle and bringing their boundless creativity and vision. Our dedicated and passionate board members: Eleanore Despina, James Stark, Alison Wright, Morgan Curtis, Kate Levinson and Steve Costa. Kamala Tully for being part of BMC since the beginning, and manifesting the vision. Kailea Frederick for bringing clarity and new insight as a board member then co-director. Thank you for the immeasurable generosity from countless donors and our community in Point Reyes and beyond who attended and supported our events. A deep bow to all the storytellers, wisdomkeepers, activists and artists who inspired, catalyzed and changed us in the 75+ programs we offered our community. Last year’s comprehensive theme, exploring the Sacred in the Land through 40 events, now seems like a good place to end and complete our circle.

Even as we are putting this work to rest, we know it is not done. We hope that each of you will carry some of these seeds forward.  Our last prayer is that through detailing our process, that we will provide any of you who are feeling too scared to let go of models that no longer work, the freedom to know that you are not alone. We have refused the idea of failure here—meeting this transition with honesty, transparency, acceptance and gratitude— qualities this new world is calling for. We humbly move now to the work of letting go.

With love, gratitude, and always in solidarity,

Kamala Tully, Kailea Frederick & Steve Costa