Who Inspires You?

I am definitely inspired by many of the great famous changemakers. Yet I’m most inspired by the resilience of my community of friends and neighbors while witnessing them deal with their everyday humanity. LIFE IS NOT EASY—it’s amazing to me the simple, yet profound, ways that we get through life’s trials and tribulations, individually and collectively. If I were to highlight any one person that inspires me most in my community it would be my mother. She has been through so much in her life with limited resources and assistance. Through it all she has maintained a deep sense of compassion, service, generosity, flexibility and hope even for those who have been less than kind to her. I learn just by being in her quiet presence.

What is the most interesting question you’ve ever been asked and how did you respond?

Generally, I think the question “why” is extremely under-rated. Exploring the why behind actions, outcomes, motivations etc. has always been challenging yet extremely revealing for me. I feel like much of who I am and the work that I do is a reflection of the constant re-evaluation of “why”.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

As ambitious and energetic as I am my natural rhythm is pretty slow. I love to meander through my day, take time for breaks, connect with those around me, take time with my tasks, and of course day dream—it’s what keeps me going!

If you removed all constraints how would you spend your time?

For the most part I imagine I would have more time to continue to do what I am doing! I would probably take some more time to be at home—I love being domestic! I love taking care of my family and friends, cooking for them, growing food, connecting with my neighbors. I think I would also take a few months out of every year to travel and take a course that allows me to challenge myself in new ways, share ideas with new people and see life from a different perspective.

How did you get to where you are today?

I would say it’s a 70:30 split. I would attribute the majority of my current place in life to all the people I have encountered in my lifetime. Who I have become is a mere reflection of the gifts and lessons that others have given me, whether it came from my nearest and dearest or a someone I sat next to on the bus. As for the 30%, I’ve gotta give myself a little bit of credit here! I think I have always had a natural disposition to seek and create the world that I want to live in, one that is equitable, loving, and exciting. Yet even in giving myself credit, I am constantly reminding myself of how blessed I am to have been born into the life I did—even with all of the earlier struggles I have faced.

What are you doing to be the person you want to be?

Surrounding myself with amazing folks who call me out on my shit, keep me humble and inspire me to be my best self everyday. I also think I have a genetic predisposition to not settling!

What can you do today to improve someone else’s life?

Give them my time and presence.

What is the toughest decision you ever had to make, and what did you learn from it?

Probably choosing a few years ago to do exactly what I wanted to do. It may seem like a small thing, but it involved leaving my partner, family and friends during a time when everyone was dealing with a lot. I had to abandon all that was familiar, and drop societal, and cultural expectations that were deeply ingrained in me at the time. It was one of the scariest and most revealing moments of my life. It was a life altering decision which allowed me to discern the bare bones of who I am and develop the courage to choose to be my authentic self everyday. There are still difficult days however, when I feel so outside the realm of “normal”. Though mostly, I have seen that I am a better daughter, sister, friend, lover, colleague, human—when I am me.

What do you think is the most fascinating subject/concept in the world?

That we are the universe trying to discover itself. It makes us do silly and beautiful things all at once!

What makes you smile?

Trees, children, my brother, my best friend Meng, when I make silly mistakes, seeing anyone experience a moment of success, repeats of “In Living Color”, all the little things.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am working with my friends to create a wholeness collective. We are all very talented individuals with unique talents, which create a beautiful whole when combined. We want to use the collective as a platform to support our individual work as well as collaborative projects for clients and also our community. In addition it would also serve as an accessible resource on how others can move towards wholeness in their lives or communities. I want to be able to open up the space to youth apprenticeships later on down the road. I am also creating gardening and permaculture curriculum for a youth-led food justice organization. Concurrently, I am deepening my understanding of permaculture and how it can serve to revitalize urban areas, while being a tool for self-sufficiency especially in marginalized circles.

What question did I not ask you that you wish I had and how would you answer?

  1. What’s your SUPERPOWER?? An overabundance of joy.
  2. How do you share your privilege? I see the world through an anti-oppressive lens. It frames everything I do—how I relate to others, myself, my environment, the work I engage with and create. I feel extremely lucky to have access to the resources, networks, and support I have. All of the learning I have pursued in my lifetime has been so that I could then share it with those who may not have access to the same. I can’t imagine doing a project and not making it as accessible as possible. I really believe that we are all complicit in the state of our world—the good and the bad. So, creating positive change, for it to really happen, is a task we all have to be willing to take on.

How can we support you?

CONTACT ME! I love to collaborate, share ideas, and new connections. I am also just beginning to explore the marketing side for my projects as well as new models for socially conscious business. I am always open to suggestions as I am still a novice in this area.

How can we contact you?

Stay tuned for my domain name. Currently I can be reached at karen.bhatti@gmail.com.