Where we go from here
This has been a heartbreaking year for us at BoomShake and for so many in our community. We were devastated this June by the passing of Monica Hastings Smith—our mentor, auntie, musical director, and guiding light. And we know this loss comes in the wake of so many losses to our communities, from the interlocking impacts of racism, colonialism, pandemic, and climate injustice.
In the wake of Monica’s passing, we weren’t sure how to go on as BoomShake, or even whether we should. We knew there was no replacement for the joy, wisdom, and creativity Monica brought to our workshops, performances, and street actions. We considered shutting our programs down.
But as we gathered to celebrate and mourn Monica, we heard from so many of you—and felt for ourselves—the power of the space we have created together. We reflected on how essential drumming, song, and ritual are to our collective healing and liberation. We saw the need for a musical space where we can bring our whole selves—our families, our communities, our ancestral traditions, our fears and struggles, our stories and creative visions. A space that uplifts the voices of women, trans, and gender nonconforming people of color, and of everyone on the front lines of movements for freedom.
We made the decision to walk forward along this path, carrying Monica’s teachings with us. We are dedicating this program year to teaching, celebrating, and building on her body of creative work. In the past few months we have:
- Created a community ceremony, procession, and altar for Día de los Muertos, honoring Monica and all our ancestors.
- Taught Monica’s rhythms to indigenous farmworkers in the vineyards of Sonoma County, and accompanied them to drum on their picket line demanding labor rights and climate justice.
- Taught an ongoing drum residency to Manzanita SEED Elementary School’s 5th grade class, and brought them to drum at an indigenous-led action for climate justice in San Francisco.
In 2022, we are planning to build and expand on this work by:
- Commissioning new works in a variety of media, using Monica’s work as a jumping-off point for creative exploration.
- Offering free workshops for frontline organizing groups, from Sonoma farmworkers to Concord tenants to Oakland youth climate justice leaders.
- Leading school residencies that get Oakland young people moving, creating, and raising their voices in their communities.
- Facilitating intergenerational, multicultural spaces for music-making, healing, and cultural sharing.
We invite you to walk this path with us: by joining us at workshops and in the streets, and by chipping in to support this work.
Our goal this holiday season is to sign up 50 monthly sustainers. You can contribute $5, $10, $20, or whatever is affordable for you each month. By signing up, you provide vital resources for our work—and help us prioritize the needs of our communities.
Sign up here—and we look forward to joining you for another year of rhythm, song, culture, struggle, and joy.
Community altar for Monica & our collective ancestors, November 2021.
5th grade BoomShake drummers from Manzanita SEED Elementary School lead a march across downtown San Francisco for climate justice, October 2021.
Sonoma County farmworkers & BoomShake drummers play together at a picket line outside Simi Winery, demanding labor rights, indigenous language rights, and hazard pay and safety measures during wildfires.
Street procession for Día de los Muertos, November 2021.