Walnut Way was founded by a group of inspired neighbors who have become a local example of how residents living in areas defined as “marginalized communities” can transform their neighborhoods. By practicing active civic engagement, environmental stewardship, and creating venues for prosperity, we continue to work towards sustainable neighborhood transformation. We focus on three functional areas that drive key projects, programs and initiatives toward solutions to remove the barriers to wellness, work, and wealth for Lindsay Heights residents.
Read Angela’s Story to learn more about how a culture of wellness and entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Lindsay Heights.
Angela Smith has a deep commitment to wellness – physical, emotional, and spiritual that stems from a journey towards being her better self. Looking for alternative ways to ease her back pain, Angela found an alternative health clinic that made a wellness plan. It included a prescription of herbs from a Chinese Medicine doctor, massage therapy, reiki and acupuncture. She was really excited with the results and the new methods she learned to strengthen her body and reduce pain. Finding a different approach to her health was eye opening and started her on a journey towards her own personal wellness practice. She felt inspired “I want to help other people see this…see how you have the power to heal, work on yourself, and do your own healing.” But she asked herself, “Where are the people of color? I know they are out here but I don’t see them. I wanted to be one of them. So I started with reiki.” She started widening her knowledge of tools for self-care. Soon she was attending trainings in yoga therapy, aromatherapy, reiki, and more.
MAKING THE CONNECTION
Inspired by the idea that her community could heal themselves, Angela formed her own alternative wellness business, The Zen Dragonfly. She began offering a variety of services in her home studio including reiki, restorative yoga, sewing workshops, and retreats. Angela sought ways to continue her personal mission to expand wellness services to communities of color, especially women. In 2015, she heard about and applied for a position at Walnut Way as a Women’s Healing Circle Facilitator and Health Coach. The Walnut Way Healing Circle, which began in 2013, evolved out of a request by neighborhood women for emotional support as they healed from the trauma of violence, domestic abuse, poverty, homelessness, and unemployment. The Healing Circle uses a collective experience of learning holistic education and its healing benefits on mind, body, and spirit. Participants learn stress reducing healing techniques, alternative and integrative medicine practices, aromatherapy, storytelling, and ritual to strengthen sisterhood and gain skills in self-care. As the Healing Circle Facilitator, Angela also provides free life coaching services to all participants. Angela’s healing and mentoring gifts have rippled outward into the community: leading residents to wellness, guiding women towards their life goals and meaningful work, and creating pathways to personal and community wealth – financial, physical, emotional, and spiritual.
BUILDING ENTREPRENEURSHIP WITHIN
Walnut Way’s goal is to make available a wide spectrum of affordable and accessible wellness services to its residents – regardless of who provides it – while also promoting economic opportunity to local businesses, especially those owned by men and women of color. To do so, Walnut Way seeks out local practitioners and invites them to hold classes in the restored Walnut Way Center (2240 N. 17th St.) and more recently the new Innovations and Wellness Commons (16th and North Ave.) at free or low cost rental fee. The Zen Dragonfly was among the first local businesses that Walnut Way recruited for its local practitioner network.
Today Angela’s business, The Zen Dragonfly offers reiki, yoga for men and women, mindfulness classes, and dance and movement classes at The Walnut Way Center. This is in addition to her part-time position as Health Coach and facilitating the Women’s Healing Circles. Several of her clients, whom she calls “healing guests,” now travel to The Zen Dragonfly’s west side office for additional or more intensive wellness services. The new business has allowed Angela to expand her services and renovate her offices so that they better serve her guests. She also began training and mentoring local reiki practitioners, many of who first discovered this ancient energy healing process through Angela’s classes at the Walnut Way Center. Today a few of those students have gone to start their own healing businesses. They rent space within The Zen Dragonfly’s west side office, with the intention of establishing their own office elsewhere as they build their client roster.
Practitioners within this ever-expanding network turn to each other for business support, such as graphic design and marketing. “We all talk about what we do and share expertise,” explains Angela. “Once I needed a blog writer and someone in the practitioner network recommended someone. I received help from a local graphic designer for my website. I like networking, making those initial connections, and helping others see their passions. One of lessons I’ve learned from Walnut Way is how to coordinate and share space in my own office in a way that lets new practitioners create their own wealth.”
CREATING WEALTH WITHIN THE COMMUNITY
Given her skills at mentorship and facilitation, Angela has added a new role within Walnut Way: Practitioner Network Coordinator. Today Angela actively seeks out and coordinates a growing roster of independent wellness practitioners to serve the Lindsay Heights community. She is also assisting in the design and furnishing of a new and more spacious yoga studio in The Innovations and Wellness Commons to meet strong demand for wellness classes.
Angela continually seeks out new opportunities to grow and serve others. “When I see opportunities, I am grateful,” says Angela. “I like to lift people up. I offer services like yoga therapy to be where I am needed, especially for men and women of color. For women, my platform has always been to encourage them to see and reclaim themselves as goddesses – whether it’s through dance, yoga, meditation or classes like sewing.”
Click here to learn more about wellness offerings by local practitioners at the Walnut Way Yoga studio.
THE WOMEN’S HEALING CIRCLE
The last The Healing Circle of 2017 will be offered this Friday!
Date: December 22nd,
Location: Walnut Way, 2240 N. 17th Street
Topic: Relationship Building
Description: Relationships can be loving, challenging and life changing experiences. Come and get the tools you need to manage and benefit from relationships around you. Learn ways to heal from old wounds. We will explore strategies to become aware of your responses, feel supported, and heard in your relationships.
Registration not required. Drop-in!