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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Celebrating Juneteenth, Alive! Expo 2022

Jun 01, 2022 06:00AM ● By Paul Chen

Trish Ahjel Roberts (Photo: Karen Halbert)

We’re pleased to present our third special section on an African American issue: “Black & Natural Hair: A Movement Toward Healthy Bodies, Minds and Hearts.” This follows last year’s epic effort—our “Healing the Trauma of Slavery” special section—and 2019’s “Black & Vegan in Atlanta.” 

This year’s effort represents a significant change in how we do things. First and foremost, editorial direction came from someone other than me—our editor for African American affairs, Trish Ahjel Roberts. We also solicited input for this year’s topic from last year’s sponsor, Sevananda Natural Foods Market, as well as avid supporter Tassili Ma’at, owner of Tassili’s Raw Reality Café. 

As the magazine has become better acquainted with the Black holistic community in Atlanta, Trish and I shared views about the difference between it and white holistic communities. Trish made a couple of keen observations that I believe to be true. First, when African Americans journey down the holistic path, they tend to reach back in time to their indigenous roots in Africa and the Caribbean; the ancients knew what the deal was way back then. Whites, on the other hand, tend to speak about the holistic lifestyle in modern and future terms—as in “New Age”— rather than look to their heritage. 

Trish also feels that there is a socioeconomic divide within the white community when it comes to the holistic lifestyle. Whites who practice a holistic approach are generally better educated and more affluent than whites who don’t, while Black holistic practitioners come from all slices of the socioeconomic spectrum. 

Here’s what’s new: we decided to switch the month we focus on an African American issue from February to June each year from now on. We published “Healing the Trauma of Slavery” in February of last year to coincide with Black History Month, but June seems more appropriate, thanks to Juneteenth. Speaking of which, this month’s Conscious Eating story and recipes for Juneteenth celebrations are written by Atlanta’s Natasha Brewley, aka Chef Beee, who offers four plant-based recipes for the holiday.

Alive! Expo 2022

I am writing this two days after the two-day event, Alive! Expo, Atlanta’s largest consumer trade show focused on holistic health and green products. Circumstances conspired to put us in a very interesting situation: our previous 10-by-10 booth space exploded into a 30-by-50 pavilion that featured a small speaking area and space for nine customers and contributors to exhibit!

I share this with you, dear readers, not to boast about the size of our space but to look back in appreciation of an experience that I’ve not had before, which is a gathering of many customers in one place. I’ve always said that the best part of my work is getting to know a lot of really wonderful, talented, well-meaning people, every one of them trying to make the world a better place in their own way. 

I knew that several of our peeps knew each other, so camaraderie was expected, but to see and experience the warmth and good feelings that abounded was a treat. I particularly enjoyed witnessing customers considering partnership potentials and making arrangements to meet after the expo. Connecting people to each other is one of my favorite things to do and Alive! Expo proved to be a terrific environment for customers to meet and connect. 

For me, the expo experience brought to life something I dreamed of even before buying the magazine—an in-person educational forum, similar to TEDx, that we would hold every month. We would host a couple of speakers at each event, have them speak for 20 minutes, and then spend 10 minutes in Q&A—one hour of programming. But the events would double as socials; the official event time includes at least half an hour beyond the speakers for people to talk and get to know each other. 

Building a sense of community for those who are consciously evolving is a dream and a goal of mine. Publishing great content is Job #1, but the support of one’s community along one’s journey is not only essential, it is enormously gratifying on its own. Community is the home of love and hope. 

One day it will happen! I can’t wait for the inaugural Natural Awakenings Live! ❧

Publisher of Natural Awakenings Atlanta since 2017, Paul Chen’s professional background includes strategic planning, marketing management and qualitative research. He practices Mahayana Buddhism and kriya yoga. Contact him at [email protected]
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