Community-focused women taking charge and changing outcomes.
HeartCity TV broadcasts weekly with one mission: to intently discuss the issues affecting our communities with unapologetic honesty, and define better solutions listeners can use to improve their daily lives.
Host Kyndal Chase relates personally with her guests – listening to her show often feels like eavesdropping on old friends. When she recaps an episode for the paper, she finds new thoughts and insights share. Kyndal’s real strength as a broadcaster is this drive to seek out and identify the connections between us all, the common ground we stand on, our equality as humans that we instinctively understand.
A recent episode, The Future is Female, highlighted four very different women who are forging their own paths outside the patriarchy, strengthening and supporting their communities with positive, feminine energy. Enjoy her show featured here and also we hope this summary serves to introduce this piece from our newest N.I.C.E. partner, and showcase her unique perspectives from behind the mic.
I grew up in West Philly, the concrete jungle. My husband grew up in Bensalem, so he had a little bit more trees and stuff — it was pretty suburban in the 80s. And now we live outside of Charlotte, NC. A very small town called Concord. There are farms all around our development, with a walking trail by the Rocky River, and a creek right behind our house.
Our kids love it. But me? I’m against it. Get it away from me, this nature stuff. They’re like “Let’s go in the woods” and I’m like “I’m good,” but I’m glad they love it. That’s why we moved here, to give them that different environment.
It’s so relaxed here. Friendlier – but it’s more of a fake friendliness. “Bless your heart,” if you know what that means. I like the slower pace, the fresh air and sunshine a lot. But there’s a lot less diversity – sometimes it feels like I’m stuck in a time warp.
The other day at Walmart, this older black guy came up to me and said, “You don’t live in this area.” I go, “No, how did you know?” He said, “Because it’s only about five or six of us, and we’re all relatives. That’s how I know!” And I was like, “Oh my…. I’m not in Philly anymore.”
Honestly, it’s a whole different culture. I never felt like a minority in my life until I’ve moved down south. I grew up with Black teachers. My best friend’s family was from Taiwan. But here, the whole experience is so “Mayberry.” The structures in place, and the general attitudes. I definitely need to bring my babies home to the neighborhood regularly.
Fortunately, the development we live in is all transplants, it’s like the United Nations: African, Indian, Middle Eastern… But you leave our neighborhood, and there’s Confederate flags all the way down in both directions. So there’s a lot of work to do. Speaking of, Dr. Aimy Steele was such an important interview, I’m so glad we could tell her story, and about the good work she’s doing through the New North Carolina Project.
Aimy’s organization recognizes literacy as a crucial part of voting rights, because registering to vote is just one part of the issue. People also need to understand there’s real power in voting, and taking part in the civic process. I think it’s so important, too, how Aimy recognizes that tied to all of this, is a need for social services and community support. Because there’s no way you can participate fully in democratic action, if you’re in survival mode.
Who’s going to wait in line to vote, when they’re running around trying to get the kids to school, work, drop them off, work a second job… And who has time to stay informed, and know who to vote for, anyway? As an independent media outlet, I feel a real responsibility to teach people how to exercise their voting rights, and provide this information in language they understand and relate to. Whatever it takes, to meet people where they are.
I also think it’s important to reach people while they’re young – when their minds are still elastic enough to imagine new possibilities. As an educator and social worker, Dawn Bizzell and her Legal Kid Foundation create innovative solutions to the School-to-Prison pipeline. I have so much more to talk to Dawn about, but for this show, I wanted to talk about her general approach, which to me is very feminine.
She starts with the understanding that today’s youth haven’t been taught how to see the Big Picture. They’re always reacting to things, one after the other, without any chance to really process the information. I love how Dawn walks kids through conflict resolution beginning with how to recognize their feelings. Especially fear, which is at the root of a lot of bad decisions. And being underprivileged means dealing with a lot of fear.
It’s hard to feel safe, when you’re growing up poor. So many insecurities: food, housing, stressed out parents, lack of healthcare and therapy. The Legal Kid Foundation teaches youth how to advocate for themselves, because if the system’s going to change, the kids are going to have to lead. In many ways, they are our best teachers. Because these children bring what they’ve learned home, and that’s how new patterns get established that can ripple through whole communities. By reaching kids early, you can reshape their futures and change how many prisons we get 20 years from now.
You’d be surprised at how little it really takes, to change how we think and feel about ourselves and our communities. And we really need reset that narrative, if we’re going to succeed in disrupting the systems in place, holding many of us back. Sometimes, the simplest things can have great impact.
Like shopping! And cute clothes!
That’s why I asked Jennelle Stevenson on the show, she has the cutest shop, Sensual Things, in Wilmington. I just love her clothes!
If you saw Jennelle on the street, she’s like an IG model. Of course she’s a phenomenal stylist. But she is also the sweetest, most down-to-earth person. When Jennelle was looking at locations for her shop, she deliberately sought out a community that needed small business. And while she’s not in a particularly upscale area noq, she treats her clientele with all the respect and attention you’d expect on Rodeo Drive. “Would you like a glass of wine while you shop?” That sort of thing.
My cousin shops there all the time, she’s always finding these stylish pieces to give me some pop. Cause I’d dress like an old fogey if I had to pick all my own clothes out. And you know, shopping for someone is another intimate gesture that women will share with each other. And Jennelle is a great example of that, I feel like her customers really feel seen by her, which is why they keep coming back. Her shop is an anchor in her community, and that’s all Jennelle.
Another friend, Mariel Torres, tapped into a similar sisterhood with the women who frequent her hair salon. She found that just hearing their stories created such a deep connection with them. She came to feel like there was a greater purpose in what she was doing. So she started this group and podcast called Girl, Cover Me.
She prays for women, with women. It just literally started with her posting online, “Ladies, how can I pray for you today?” And from there grew this healing and inspirational community that’s become such a support system for so many.
Because life gets bigger and bigger as you live it, especially these days we’re trying to fit everything in. And as we get older, we realize we can’t do it all and that’s OK. We learn to prioritize. And that’s really hard but that’s where sisterhood comes in, allowing us safe space to be vulnerable, to ask for help – and also to answer the call to provide it. That’s very powerful.
But it’s sad how technology takes us away from those daily experiences that can be so meaningful. So Mariel is cultivating this. Her prayer groups bring together these women that have never even met before, but we’re sharing our connection to God — an extremely personal thing. Mariel guides us to relate to each other spiritually, which becomes a form of care-giving.
Learning this from Marielle has been such a blessing. She does a daily devotion on Facebook every morning at 9am, here’s part of one that really resonated:
We have to figure out our way to overcome whatever little fear that we have. We have to acknowledge it, release it, and then replace it with positive action. Because that’s the only way you can receive what God has for you. We can’t let fear, which is that permanent decision off a temporary emotion, make our decisions for us.
She totally reshaped what fear looked like, for me. It’s not like a scary movie or an evil clown. It’s something so much smaller, instead, a tiny voice inside you. Chipping at your confidence, trying to make you believe you don’t deserve a voice, an education, nice things, unconditional love. All the women in this episode sought to redefine this negative mindset in their own way.
That’s why I’m so proud to put this show together, to celebrate our power as women, to recognize the unique contributions we can make to heal, love, and nurture the world.
HeartCity’s got a new time slot! Tune in every Wednesday at 7pm on YouTube for upcoming shows on mental health, wealth building tools, Black authors and artists – there’s even a new music segment in development. Pro tip: don’t miss the lively conversation in the comments field!
COMING SOON: filmmaker/director Muhammad Bilal — his short film, The Blue Cave, is getting a ton of awards, and he partners here in Philly with Black Men Heal which helps provide therapy for men of color, and works to dispel the negative perceptions many men have about mental health, that stops them from asking for help they need.