2019 Grantee Profile: Igho Diana
Igho Diana is a talented writer, spoken word poet, community educator, and the founder of Ebony Girls Obsession (EGO). EGO is an initiative that seeks to empower black women into action: prioritizing healing, growth, and celebration through storytelling, sisterhood, and communal learning experiences. They seek to create space to practice self care and sisterhood with intention, collaborating with other creatives, entrepreneurs, businesses, educators, and community organizations to provide mentorship, workshops, wellness events, retreats, and community engagement projects. She notes on her website, “I wholeheartedly believe that it takes a village- not only to raise a child but also to support adults through our healing and wellness journey. So I create communities of/ for folks who invest in themselves and each other’s well being through storytelling and communal learning experiences. Particularly, I support Black women and youth in prioritizing self-care, so that they are better able to show up for, and receive the support of their communities”.
ArtReach was first introduced to Igho in 2017 when she participated in our Youth Arts Pitch Contest, placing second in the Business of Art stream. During the contest, she pitched her highly successful Self Care n’ Sisterhood workshop series, a monthly opportunity for black women to come together in a curated and safe space to engage in mindfulness, conversation, networking, and the celebration of black women.
Why the focus on black women’s wellness? Igho shares, “I believe that being black and a woman serves an ongoing lesson in resilience. However, our stories don’t begin or end with how resilient we are. Self-care is a birthright, not a set of luxury products. And art like writing and storytelling, are powerful tools for self-care. I want to shift the conversation of health and wellness spaces being synonymous with whiteness. My chief aim is to create more spaces for women of colour to build community and foster their creativity”.
In 2019, Igho was funded by ArtReach to run Stay Whole 2019, a workshop series for Black, Latina, and Indigenous women 18-29 to cultivate a personal writing practice as a form of artistic expression, self-care, and creating community. The project explored the use of oral and written storytelling and other literary techniques as tools for reflection, empowerment, and community building. Over multiple sessions, participants developed skills through prompts, activities, and games, as well as practice the art of performance.
The series culminated with a weekend retreat at the Bliss Haven Retreat Centre to reflect on and evaluate the ways in which we actively care for ourselves, and how that reflects on our respective communities. In reflecting on the ways participants benefited from the program, Igho beautifully reflects, “The most memorable moment was on the last day at the retreat: after our usual morning movement, meditation, and writing session, we sat in the living room, awaiting lunch before our final workshop. During this time, we formed an impromptu story circle and shared collective experiences. Tears were shed, hugs were exchanged, and new bonds were formed”.