The body is our birthright to belonging, our path to transformation
Through Line & Theory of Change
My work is many things, but the through line is empowering people to connect to their authentic self and bring that into transformative action. I do this using somatics and design as a coach, educator, and designer. And I practice it in my own life. In fact, somatics and design, each in their own right, were so transformative for my healing and growth (you can read more about that below), I was compelled to focus my career on this nexus as methodology for social change.
Decolonial, queer, justice, and abolitionist frameworks are integral to my approach. I'm always learning as a White person with privileges along lines of race, class and ability. Anti-oppression, decolonizing, and accountability are my practice that is my work that is my liberation.
My background has been in climate and environmental justice—my passion since I was a teen (read that story below too).
Now I understand the climate crisis as the symptoms telling us that our social, economic, and political systems are sick.
Among the many contributing factors to this disease, I see a significant one being that so many of us have become disconnected from the best guide for equity and sustainability of all—our bodies. It makes sense that we have lost sensation given the protective shells we oftentimes, or all the times, build around ourselves, which is a smart strategy when living in a world of pain and trauma.
I believe if we can soften our armor and reconnect to our authentic, whole selves, innately loving and creative, interconnected with all other beings, inherently worthy beyond measure, then we will choose belonging over othering, love over hate, mutuality over domination, regeneration over extraction.
These choices are the building blocks of our social systems.
One person making them transforms a life, a family, possibly a community, an organization. Enough people making these choices transforms cultures, societies, systems, and heals our Earth.
There are many levers to create change, and collectively we need to pull as many as possible to correct the course we are on. The levers I pull are the ones most aligned with my skills, capacities, and values. My hope is that through my work, I can help people reclaim the love, passion, courage, and radical hope to find their lever and pull it hard.
My Body's Stories
"Our bodies tell stories with and without our consent."
—Jéhan Òsanyìn, artist, educator, facilitator, and somatic abolitionist
Ever since I heard this phrase from Jéhan, my own body's stories have emerged. They've actually always been there, but I got better at speaking their language and listening to what they had to say.
The somatic methodology I'm trained and practiced in—the Strozzi Institute which shares lineage with generative somatics—describes sites of shaping and sites of change as places in our lives where our environment, social relationships, and other factors affect us so much that we become what we are exposed to and practice the most. I have a body story, if not multiple, for every site. From my early childhood attachment wounds, to the pain of being othered in my school community, embodying the urgency and perfectionism my workplaces demanded of me, carrying generations of cellular data on how to be White. These are among the stories I carry.
I also get to tell the story of my present and the stories of my future.
I was amazed by the possibilities that opened for me when I started feeling sensations again—literally the temperature, amount of pressure, and movement in my arms, legs, chest, pelvis, face, feet, hands. I could say things I wouldn't ever have dreamed of saying before. I ended relationships, asked for help, named what I desired, declared my gender and sexuality.
As I experienced myself embodying a different way of being and witnessed the positive impact on the world around me, I realized the potency of somatics for helping all of us show up differently to the challenges we've been facing for centuries, but haven't gained a whole lot of traction. That's what sparked my move to integrate somatics into my work, led me to train as a somatic coach, and has become the foundation of my research, writing, teaching, and practice in somatic design.
The body is something we all have. It is our birthright. But many, if not most, of us need help returning to it as a partner, guide, teacher, truth-teller, friend. If we can reconnect to our bodies, we can make contact with our whole, authentic, purposeful selves.
I first learned about global warming as a teenager when I watched An Inconvenient Truth in my hometown one-screen theater. I felt a burning in my gut to do everything in my power to change the course our planet was headed on. I wrote a letter to the editor of our county newspaper, urging my conservative community act. I was afraid of their response, knowing most didn't believe in global warming and having witnessed and experienced harassment based on difference—sexuality, race, gender, beliefs, class. I was afraid this could further fray the thread of belonging I felt. And yet, I chose to do it because my commitment to broader change and to my own sense of justice was bigger than any of my fears.
That feeling in my body was what Resmaa Menakem calls "clean pain"—doing something that is hard but that you know is right. It is what tells me I am in alignment with my values. It continues to guide my work even as it has spread beyond the mainstream climate field into broader systems change for justice.
Letter to the Editor published in the Marquette County Tribune on August 3, 2006. I was 17 years old.
Wright, E. Forthcoming. “Building somatic awareness to effectively respond to climate-related trauma,” in An Existential Toolkit for Climate Justice Educators. UC Press.
Wright, E. (2021). “‘Somatic Design’: Engaging the Body for Climate Healing.” Touchpoint 12 (3), Service Design Network.
Wright, E. (2017). “The Upshot Of Upgrading: Seaweed Farming And Value Chain Development In Indonesia.” Thesis, Master of Arts in Geography, University Of Hawai‘i At Mānoa.
Wright, E.C. and J.A. Souder. (2018). “Using Applied Science for Effective Watershed Restoration and Coho Salmon Recovery in Coastal Oregon Streams.” Case Studies in the Environment 2 (1): 1–9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/cse.2017.000489
Wright, E. (2011.) “Cultivating community: space and capacity in urban gardens.” Northwestern Undergraduate Research Journal 7: 41-45. Evanston, Illinois.
Essays and Prose
MA, Geography, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, 2017
BA, Anthropology, Northwestern University, 2011
Trainings & Certifications
Somatic Coach Training Program, Strozzi Institute, expected October 2022
Professional Certified Coach, International Coaching Federation, expected October 2022
Somatic Trauma Therapy Certificate, The Embody Lab, 2022
Social Presencing Theater, The Presencing Institute, 2021
u.Lab Transformative Leadership and Co-creation, The Presencing Institute, 2021
Creative Facilitation, Partners for Youth Empowerment, 2021
Restorative Yoga Training, Restorative Yoga Institute, 2020
Yoga Teacher Training, Practice School of Magic, 2019
Participatory Design and Facilitation, The Pomegranate Institute, 2018