GEN Weaving grief

Weaving Grief, the Body and Transformative Justice Retreat

17-22 JUNE 2021 RESIDENTIAL RETREAT: Embodied grief practices for supporting environmental advocacy and transformative justice

The retreat

In June 2021 the Global Environments Network (GEN) will host a residential retreat, exploring how embodied grief practices can support environmental advocacy and transformative justice in the UK context. The retreat will prioritise people with recent ancestral histories of migration or colonisation and will be an opportunity to put into practice the Weaving Grief, the Body and Transformative Justice Toolkit research led by Camille Barton, in collaboration with GEN Director, Nessie Reid.

The grief tools explored are predominantly inspired by the work of Malidoma and Sobonfu Some, Francis Wellner and Martin Prechtel. These authors have rich experience using ritual as a way to befriend grief. Art therapy interventions will also be woven in, to creatively unearth how grief work can be explored in individual as well as collective contexts. Embodied self-regulation practices will be used daily by participants, based on a variety of somatic practices. Dance therapy, free writing or journaling, drawing, painting and peer counseling practices will be used to integrate experiences.

The retreat will provide a space for a majority people of colour (POC) group, of up to fifteen, to practice embodied techniques and rituals that explore how we can work with our grief in order to weave resilience, grow strong networks of community care and generate hope, in order to create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. We are aiming to hold a container that has a strong interfaith foundation, allowing for spirit to be part of this conversation in a way that isn’t dogmatic and allows for a myriad of beliefs to coexist. The retreat will take place at The Quadrangle in Kent, UK.

When applying, please consider the following: We are not therapists or able to take the role of therapist during the retreat. We will be holding a compassionate, brave space to engage in practices that may move you but we are unable to take responsibility for anyone’s healing process or mental health. We will be providing embodied support tools to help regulate the nervous system and create supportive resources to ground us as we dive into this work. We ask you to consider if you have the emotional and mental capacity to engage in this work, which may bring up complex feelings.

At the Global Environments Summer Academy 2018, Camille facilitated a day on Race, Gender and the Environment, introducing participants to strategies for applying intersectionality and anti-racist practise within their immediate and (in)direct communities. (Photo: I.Tekguc)


COVID-19 has made it abundantly clear that we collectively have a lot to grieve, whether it is the loss of loved ones, ways of living, state violence, inequality or the destruction of the environment by extractive industries. Due to processes of colonisation and assimilation, many of us have lost our traditional ways of grieving, and therefore struggle to do this work, let alone reap the benefits it can bring into our lives. In making grief practices accessible and emergent, we hope that movement work will become increasingly holistic and trust based, with a systemic, decolonial approach that can support us to build strong coalitions that sustain environmental regeneration work, led by people of the global majority.

In times of crisis, we see that it is people of colour (POC) who feel the biggest impact of structural and systemic inequality. During the corona pandemic in the UK, POC have been overrepresented at 19% of the death toll despite being only 14% of the UK population. In the context of climate emergency, eco-fascist narratives have become more popular in recent years, which tend to focus on population control and a ‘humans are the virus’ rhetoric. This ignores the historical legacy of many indigenous and global majority communities that exist harmoniously with the natural world. As a result, it is clear that the voices of POC need to be included, valued and celebrated in environmental work moving forward.

Facilitators’ bios

Camille sq

Camille Barton is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and embodiment researcher, who uses afrofuturism to imagine creative interventions towards systems change. They are invested in breaking down the mind body separation that is dominant in Western paradigms in order to create more space for flexible thinking, holistic healing and bridging across differences. Camille’s art practice weaves dance, clowning, DJing, facilitation, film and cultural production.  

In 2020 the Berlin based artist directed The Grief Portal, a sci-fi inspired short film, commissioned by Performing Borders Live and Counterpoints Arts, exploring how grieving can be generative. Camille’s work was also featured in the VPRO documentary, The Post Racist Planet.

Camille is the head of Ecologies of Transformation (2021 – 2023), a temporary masters programme at Sandberg Institute, exploring how art making and embodiment can facilitate social change. They are currently researching grief on behalf of the Global Environments Network, creating a toolkit of embodied grief practices to support efforts for intersectional, ecological justice. Camille also works as an advisor for MAPS, ensuring that psychedelic assisted therapies will be accessible to global majority communities (POC) most harmed by the war on drugs. 

Farzana Khan (she/her) is a writer, director, cultural producer and award-winning arts educator. She is the Executive Director and Co-founder of Healing Justice London (HJL) Her practice works on building community health, repair and self-transformation rooted in disability justice, survivor work and trauma-informed practice working with communities of colour and other marginalised and underrepresented groups. HJL cultivates public health provisions for collective liberation and dignifying lives made vulnerable. Farzana has over 10 years of background in Youth and Community work particularly focused on arts-based education projects both in the UK and internationally. Farzana is the former creative and strategic director at Voices that Shake, bringing together young people, artists and campaigners to develop creative responses to social injustice. She ran this working at Platform London, a climate and social justice organisation working across arts, education, research and activism. Farzana is a Fellow at the International Curatorial Forum. Farzana’s recent curatorial practice/art includes launching the Black Cultural Activism Map with the Stuart Hall Foundation and All Water Has Perfect Memory, writing on climate and gender justice and generational trauma & memory.


Retreat fees cover:

  • Accommodation at The Quadrangle: this will be in a variety of shared or single rooms and there is space to camp, too. The venue is mostly accessible by wheelchair.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be prepared by a chef on site
  • All teaching and teaching materials, including ongoing access to the Toolkit

Participants will need to cover their travel expenses to and from the retreat venue.

Full fee: £1,500 

Please note that if this event takes place online (see below), the fees will be revised accordingly.


In order to make this event as accessible as possible, GEN is currently in the process of fundraising for bursaries to award to participants with less access to wealth, and will prioritise participants who are refugees or have recent personal or ancestral histories of migration or colonial displacement. At GEN, we operate a sliding fee scale, bursary applications are available with the main application form.

Download the event leaflet here.

Residential retreat, or online

COVID-19 is changing the ability for us to be able to safely gather in groups for events. We are monitoring the situation closely and will be making a decision by early February as to whether it is safe to move ahead with the event in person or if we will be shifting it to take place online. This event is planning to go ahead in person but if it does take place online, the price will be reduced to reflect this.    

If the event does take place online, it will be broken into weekly meetings in June, with a collective commitment of no more than five hours per week. This will be inclusive of online sessions (1-2 per week) and activities to engage with in your own time such as rituals, peer exercises or reading. 

If it does take place online, please note that these will not be webinars. The sessions will be deeply interactive, immersive experiences. There will be rituals to engage with throughout the week and we will encourage connection and engagement between participants in between meetings. We are committed to creating an intimate container that will have no more than fifteen people, whether the retreat is in person or online. We invite participants to come with as much presence as possible.

Important dates

24 January 2021Deadline for applications
29 January 2021All applicants will be notified of the results of the first stage of the application process. Selected applicants will be invited to the second stage, during which they will be asked for additional information, including any demonstrated need for a bursary.
1 March 2021Final selection of participants. Decision will be made on whether the event will proceed in person, or virtually. Participants will be informed of any bursary awards.
31 March 2021Payment of fees is due.
17-22 June 2021Weaving Grief, the Body and Transformative Justice Residential Retreat

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