Farewell to Amanda Vincelli
With grateful hearts we announce that Amanda Vincelli has left her position as Co-Director, and we wish her the best as she moves back to Montreal, Quebec and pursues further studies in Community Economic Development. We are grateful to Amanda for her years of service to NAVEL, for developing innovative, inclusive, and community-based programs, and for helping to shape the vision and values of the organization. Please read her letter announcing her departure to the community below and keep in touch with her at email@example.com.
Dear NAVEL kin,
After three magical years, it is with gratitude and fond memories that I am leaving my role as Co-Director of the organization. I am deeply thankful for everyone who made this experience so rich and beautiful.
With little experience but firm convictions, we started NAVEL to explore what might be possible in a collective and supportive environment where experimentation and play are the norm, where all are invested in learning, unlearning and being together otherwise. For me, NAVEL has always been about cultivating a space to acknowledge and celebrate our interconnectedness and differences, a place to understand how to challenge and shift power, what we value and prioritize—a place to explore together our agency and role in fostering social change towards a more just, sustainable and caring future.
My time at NAVEL was wonderful, demanding and humbling. Again and again, I was confronted with my own shortcomings and blind spots, and with the various ways we, white folks especially, can perpetuate oppression, particularly when operating in an environment of urgency and scarcity. My experiences have also deepened my belief in how essential art, critical thinking, and collaborative learning are to personal growth, as lenses for re-evaluating and acting on our beliefs and values. I am grateful for the privilege I’ve had to steward and grow with this beautiful project and community. There are so many of you to thank for making it all possible—for guiding me, for calling me out, for holding me accountable, for giving me so much energy, motivation and hope in a present and future that is otherwise so bleak. I am indebted to you for all the love, creativity, beauty and abundance I’ve experienced at NAVEL.
It’s hard to believe that in less than three years, we were able to support hundreds of events and programs, nurture a collective of radical thinkers and makers, and instigate a collaborative “school” with ASSEMBLIES. The diverse, enriching and transformative programming and relationships that were formed are a testament of what can happen when access, trust, care, and cooperation are at the core of our practice and lives. In a city, country, and world that continue to push the most marginalized to the edges, the NAVEL community gave me a glimpse of the emergence possible when we come together with compassion, uplift one another, share resources and spend our privilege.
Thank you to all the residents, members of the programming committees, ASSEMBLIES organizers and participants, and all the other visionaries who presented ideas and work that continue to challenge and expand our minds and bodies. Thank you for your participation, for your willingness to collaborate, experiment, make mistakes and take risks. It was a pleasure and great honor to develop these experimental programs with you. Your visions, practices and energy have truly birthed and shaped NAVEL.
Thank you to everyone else who has been part of our team and supported NAVEL on the board, as staff, intern, member, resident, volunteer, donor, advisor, mentor, friends… for your support and trust over the years, for making it real. And infinite thanks to my fellow co-founders for the love, sweat and tears. Michael for holding it down, coping with my relentlessness, and always finding clever ways to concretize our wildest ideas. Caspar, Jonas and Kristoffer for the ingenious design and vision you’ve put into creating our idyllic space, the fertile ground for this community to exist. I have learned so much from all of you, from our friendship and disagreements, and I leave with a lot of pride in what we were able to accomplish together.
In more ways that I could have imagined, NAVEL has been like a portal into a future beyond binaries, hierarchies and capital (in Jennifer Moon’s words), while also putting in sharp relief the numerous challenges and growing pains we must face to get there. Throughout this experience, I have especially learned the limits of the nonprofit sector in the United States, about the complex paradoxes and compromises any organization striving to be alternative, community-based, and anti-capitalist will inevitably face within this context. This moment clearly and loudly demands new modes, models, and leadership, and I really hope NAVEL will continue to stay with the trouble—to resist, re-invent itself, and struggle towards these ideals.
Our navels serve to remind us of this formerly physical connection to mothering and nurturance—the process by which the individual originates from the collective. NAVEL and all the collaborations borne from it have changed my life. It has profoundly transformed my understanding of the role of art, the politics of space, and the importance and weight of building community. It has taught me to think more critically about how, who and why we gather.
More than anything, It brings me great solace and joy to have witnessed how NAVEL has played this role not only in my life, but in the lives of so many others. It has given me more hope in an economy that is rooted in care and solidarity, which is what I will continue to nerd out about as I undertake studies in community economic development, and to pursue in all my future endeavours.
I am excited to see how NAVEL will transform and evolve, as it always has.
P.S. I’ll make sure to keep bugging you and hope to hear from you here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Portraits by Monica Lek