Ananda Discusses Environmental Justice Art with Fine Artist Milton Bowens on Go Green Sangha Radio’s July 12th Episode

first union

The First Union by Fine Artist Milton Bowens



Fine Artist Milton Bowens –



Happy Friday!

I am getting ready for a juicy conversation on environmental justice art with my dear brothalove friend Milton Bowens, an Artist-in-Residency at the Richmond Health Center (Richmond, CA), on Go Green Sangha Radio’s July 12th episode at 7:00pm EST (4pm PAC).   Milton will talk about the work he is doing with students at the Richmond Health Center and his new collection of artwork, “Welcome To My Global Hood.”  Click here to listen to the show:

To learn more about Milton and his amazing artwork (yes I am a fan!), visit  Also, watch Milton’s YouTube video about his artwork:

One more thing … Check out Milton’s artist statement for his new body of work, “Welcome to My Global Hood.”  See below.  It’s incredible!  I love how Milton uses the word “eye” instead of “I.”  

Enjoy your day and weekend!

Peace and Creativity,




“Welcome To My Global Hood” – What is Environmental Justice? by Milton Bowens, Arts Change – Artist in Residency 2009, Richmond, CA

What is environmental justice? What is fine Art? How do these two things work together to empower, youth, community and the world abroad? Eye believe fine art is a singular construct made because it must be made, not just to fill a need in any particular market. Eye also, believe environmental justice is not just a slogan or metaphor but a right to ensure that the next generation inherits a healthy planet.
In response to the rapidly changing global crises, eye thought it was long overdue to address some of the more urgent issues from a fine artistic urban perspective. After posing the question “What threatens your environment”, to a group of more than fifteen inner-city children of varied backgrounds, ages and cultures from Richmond, CA and surrounding communities, eye received the same answer. Violence!
Not at all shocked by the response, eye understood that if eye started to talk about global warming and the dangers it presents, and how art could help change the way we see it, eye would be talking at and not with this young audience. So instead eye listened, with the goal of mapping out a visual story line that would ultimately become a blueprint for urban environmental artist activism.

Before these youth could truly become motivated and excited about creating Art and being a part of a global movement towards environmental change, like starvation and disease in Africa or protecting the Rain Forest, Polar Bears and Ice caps, we must first deal with the issues they face at home. I used Art as the tool to not only spark creativity and conversation but to help the Individual making the Art deal with his or her own individual fears. Art Heals.

Art and Social Change is a funny thing….once you’ve done it you can’t take it back. By reflecting on when you started, how you thought, how you felt and then the process of just how much you can grow and evolve in a short span of time, does something to the Artistic creator. It gives that Individual a sense of value that plays an important role in building ones self-esteem. It gives a voice.

When my students saw firsthand, that gang violence in Richmond, CA is no different than the violence in the Middle East or poor drinking water in the Bay isn’t any different than that abroad, or how the severity of today’s natural disasters are not unique to just this country, the light came on. Once that happens in a young person’s mind, it’s hard, if at all possible to turn it off.

They began to realize they are a part of a global community. This becomes the opportunity, the bridge that promises insight from a very different perspective, which ultimately leads to a uniquely thought out and timely body of work.
The goal for this body of work is to re-ignite the fire in the activism doldrums, visually doing away with that “we’ve heard it all before” attitude and to refocus artist, art collectors, art patrons and exhibition spaces on the power of art and its ability to spark change! And bring about real tangible action and not just talk, simply by being the visual witness.

Eye, extend a Heart-felt, sincere invitation to all viewers to take a little time and stroll with me through My Global Hood. Eye, welcome you! Then ask yourself the question can you see what Eye see?

Milton 510 Bowens

My Blogging While Brown Conference Update #2


Hi All,

I am still marinating on my 2009 Blogging While Brown Conference (BWB) experience.  It’s hard to believe that it was just held on June 19 and 20 in Chicago. 

Today I watched a fantastic BWB conference wrap up video posted on the BWB web site –  Click here to view the YouTube video (8 minutes,  10 seconds):

Last weekend I hosted the fifth episode of BAP Living Radio’s series on Black women in social media which discussed lessons learned from BWB.  It featured a dynamic panel of Black women bloggers who attended BWB.  Here’s the list of my incredible BWB sistaloves:

-Senam Amegashie –

-Faith Dow –

-Sabrina Miller –

-Telisha Ng –

-Megan Smith –

-Talia Whyte –

Click here to listen to our juicy BWB discussion (1 hour, 43 minutes):

I promise to  post my thoughts about BWB in the coming weeks … definitely before I head back to Chicago to attend the Blogher conference (

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace, Creativity, and Blogging Fun Energy,


Phase 2 of Summer Creativity Adventures – Maxwell’s BLACKsummers’ night CD


Happy Thursday!

Yesterday I began phase two of my 2009 summer creativity adventures with Maxwell’s new CD, BLACKsummers’ night.  Each of the nine tracks has been added to my summer joie de vivre playlist.  So far my favorites are “Pretty WIngs,” “Stop the World,” “Love You,” “Playing Possum,” and “Phoenix Rise.”  

Are you a Maxwell fan?

When did you discover Maxwell?

If yes, what are your favorite Maxwell CDs, songs, and concert moments?

I discovered Maxwell while watching the movie Love Jones (one of my favorite films) in 1997.  All of Maxwell’s CDs are my favorites!  I adore “Til the Cops Come Knockin,” “Sumthin’ Sumthin’: Mellosmoothe,” “This Woman’s Work,” “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder),” and “Whenever, Wherever, Whatever.”  I could listen to them all day and night long.  My favorite Maxwell concert moment was seeing him perform at the 1997 Essence Music Festival Concert held in New Orleans. He was amazing!  Maxwell’s music also kept me company while I wrote my first novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (2007 –   

Enjoy your day!

Peace, Creativity, and Maxwell Music Love,


Ananda in the News – North Dallas Gazette Feature


Happy Wednesday!

Many thanks to blogger Shawn P. Williams of Dallas South blog ( for hipping me to the fact that I was featured in the North Dallas Gazette. Big ups to the North Dallas gazette for giving me a shout out and promoting my new program, The Ananda Leeke Show that aired on June 30.  Click here to read the article:

Enjoy your week!

Peace and Creativity,


Excerpt from Chapter 1 of My New Book – That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery

Happy Monday!

Today I thought I would share an excerpt from my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery(Summer 2009 – iUniverse, Inc.).   I decided to post the quotes that introduce Chapter 1 and two poems.  Note that I use six-word memoirs ( as chapter titles.  I fell in love with six-word memoirs last year.  They really helped me climb out of a serious writer’s block.  Author Lori Tharp ( introduced them to me during a memoir writing workshop held at my church, All Souls Church ( in October 2008. 

Let me know what you think about Chapter 1’s six-word memoir title, quotes, and poems.


Peace and Creativity,



Excerpt from That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery(Summer 2009 – iUniverse, Inc.)

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

Chapter One: Honoring Ancestors. Family. History. Cultural Legacies.

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors.  All of them are alive in this moment.  Each is present in your body.  You are the continuation of each of these people.”  Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, activist, and author

“I feel like the ancestors brought us here and they expect great things.  They expect us to say what we think and live how we feel and follow the hard paths that bring us near joy.” Drew Dellinger, European American poet, teacher, and activist

“Family represents a collection of individuals who are committed and bound together always and forever to provide love and support to one another.”  John F. Leeke, African American educator, organizational development consultant, and entrepreneur

 “I think knowing one’s history leads one to act in a more enlightened fashion.”  John Hope Franklin, African American historian

 “We are deeply, passionately connected to black women whose sense of aesthetics, whose commitment to ongoing creative work, inspires and sustains. We reclaim their history, call their names, state their particulars, to gather and remember to share our inheritance.” bell hooks, African American author, poet, professor, and cultural critic

“Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them.”  Malcolm Gladwell, British-born Canadian author


Two Poems from Chapter 1


Me praying to the ancestors at Elmina Slave Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana – December 2003


Me praying to my female ancestors who were enslaved in the female slave cell located in Elmina Slave Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana – December 2003


Me standing in front of the Elmina Slave Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana – December 2003



Elmina: Homage to the Ancestors


In the middle of the night Spirit woke me and instructed me to do two things.

Cut my locs and go home to sit, pray, release, and renew on holy ground in the midst and comfort of my ancestors.

So the next morning, I made two phone calls.

One to my hairdresser.

The other to my travel agent.

 By the end of that week, my locs were cut.

My head resembled that of a Tibetan monk who had gone four weeks without a shaving.

My travel itinerary was confirmed for Ghana and a day was planned for a visit to Elmina Castle, the holy ground where my ancestors’ spirits reside.

I was going home.


How can a slave castle built in 1482 by the Portuguese traders as the first European slave trading post in all of sub-Saharan Africa be my holy ground or my home?

How can one of the many slave castles holding horrific memories of the African holocaust called the Maafa, a disaster, a terrible occurrence be sacred space for me?

How can I separate the inhumane acts and suffering of more than 10 million people of African descent who passed through Elmina’s door of no return?

 The answer is two fold – Spirit and Ancestors.

They call me home.


I came seeking renewal and release.

As I walked through the Castle, looked out into the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, and prayed in the dungeons, I heard their voices.

They urged me to give them my burdens.

They lovingly assumed my pain.

They reminded me of Sankofa, the Andinkra symbol that represents learning from your past in order to chart your future.

 They are my past. 

I am their future, grateful and humbled to reap and enjoy the benefits of their love, faith, greatness, strength, humility, and wisdom.

 Because of their living.

Because of their suffering.

Because of their dying.

I am free.




They Want Me to Hear Their Songs

Inspired by artist Elizabeth Catlett’s I Have Given the World My Songs (1948, linocut).

Their voices are buried deep in my belly. 

When will I let them out?

They want to sing their songs, but I fear their voices may be too loud for me to hear.

They speak to my spirit and remind me that their songs are my legacy.

Yes I know.

Yes I know.

Yes I know.

But I’m not sure I want to hear what happened to my great-great-grandmother Millie Ann Gartin before she was freed.

The rest of my womanline rises up in my gut and demands that I allow them to sing their stories – the good, not so good, and in between. 

They refuse to leave me alone.

I try to run and hide, but they won’t let me escape.

They surround me and begin telling me about the sacrifices they made so I could be free.

Before they disappear, they say a prayer.

“Beloved one, so much has happened. We don’t mean to frighten you, but our stories must be told.  You must tell them. In telling them, you will access wisdom from the way we lived and what we learned from our elders.  Our voices will become your voice.

You will begin to carry our full legacy. It is our gift to you.  We pray that you accept it.

Ase. Amen.”

Ananda Hosts BAP Living Radio on 7/5@ 7pm EST – Black Women Bloggers Share Lessons Learned at the 2009 Blogging While Brown Conference




PRLog (Press Release) – Jul 03, 2009 – Washington, DC – Author/Artist/Blogger Ananda Leeke will host the fifth episode of BAP Living Radio’s series about Black women in social media on July 5 at 7:00 p.m. The theme is “Lessons Learned from the 2009 Blogging While Brown Conference.” The guest panelists attended the 2009 Blogging While Brown Conference ( on June 19 and 20 in Chicago, Illinois. They include :

-Senam Amegashie

-April Davis

-Faith Dow

-Sabrina Miller

-Telisha Ng

-Megan Smith

-Talia Whyte

Visit to listen to the show.

Leeke will also host the sixth episode of BAP Living Radio’s series about Black women in social media on July 19 at 7:00 p.m. The episode will feature a discussion with attorney mom bloggers Justices Fergie, Jonesie, and Ny about their MamaLaw blog (, MamaLaw Media Group, and Blogalicious(, the first annual conference for women of color bloggers held on October 9 to October 11 in Atlanta, Georgia. Click here to listen to the show:

BAP Living Radio affirms the lives of women of African descent who self-identify as Black American Princesses (BAPs) and educated Black women (EBW). BAP Living Radio features programs about self-love, self-care, spirituality, health, finances, social media, politics, technology, beauty, fashion, art, music, culture, community service, creativity, fitness, travel, and more.

BAP Living Radio supports the following BAP Living social media projects:

-BAP Living social networking site –

-BAP Living Facebook Group –

Wreck This Journal – Week 4 Update


Hi All,

Last Friday marked week four for my Next Chapter Book Blogging Group. We are having a grand time with the book Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith.  Click here to see what my creative sistaloves are doing:



This morning I woke up feeling very anxious about a series of changes I am experiencing.  These changes are transforming the landscape of what my current life looks like.  They are pushing me out of the cocoon of a ten-year comfort zone.  Sometimes they scare me.  They show me my fears.  They make me revisit old wounds.  I don’t like them, but they don’t care. They are happening and will continue to happen.  How do I want to respond?  That’s the question I asked myself over and over again before I got out of bed and headed to the yoga mat.  As I came into child’s pose, I asked Creator for guidance and help.  The music of Jai Uttal kept me company.  It seeped into my throat and before long I found myself chanting Sita Ram over and over again. The chanting helped ease some of my anxious feelings.  Feeling more grounded, I began doing a series of 10 sun salutations. At the end, I sat down on my mat and did several rounds of alternate nostril breathing before chanting Sita Ram with my mala beads 108 times. 

When my morning practice was over, I headed back to my bedroom to grab my Wreck This Journal book.  Me and the book walked into the kitchen and sat down at a table filled with magic markers, scissors, gluesticks, and magazine clippings.  I noticed a quote by Dante and decided to paste it on the cover of the book: “Follow your own path and let people talk.”  I wondered what is my path in the midst of change?  Four wisdom phrases emerged:

1) Keep your heart open.

2) Surrender and do not resist.

3) Embrace and enjoy the destruction and release of your old life as an opportunity to actively witness and participate in the transformation process.

4) Give thanks and be grateful for all changes even the ones that make you panic,  scare you into old wounds, and cause you to feel doubts and fears.

Enjoy your week!

Peace, Surrender, Change, Release, Transformation, and Creativity,


The Ananda Leeke Show launches on June 30@8pm EST.


Me and my best brothalove friend/book editor extraordinaire Wayne P. Henry


Tune into the very first episode of my new creative baby — The Ananda Leeke Show ( on June 30 at 8:00 p.m. EST. Wayne P. Henry, my best brothalove friend and book editor extraordinaire, will join me for a discussion about my insights on writing my books, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (Summer 2009 – iUniverse, Inc.) and Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (August 2007 – iUniverse, Inc. – Our conversation will explore the hardest and greatest moments in my writing process, 7 lessons I will never forget, and the main reason I choose to write books. Click here to listen to the show: you miss the live recording, don’t panic.  You can download a recording to your computer or iPod after the show has aired. 

More information about Wayne He is a writer and contributor to the book How We Love – Letters to the Next Generation edited by Karyn Langhorne Folan, Wendy Coakley-Thompson, and Tanara E. Bowie.  How We Love is a collection of letters and lessons published by the Capital Bookfest in 2008.   

Click here to watch a YouTube video (2 minutes, 10 seconds) that features me explaining how I prepare to write: The video was filmed during the question and answer session of a book launch party for my novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One ( on November 18, 2007, at Mocha Hut Cafe in Washington, DC.

RIP Michael Jackson – A Major Force of Creative Inspiration in My Life





Greetings All,

My heart broke open when I heard the news that Michael Jackson made his transition yesterday.  I wasn’t prepared. None of us were.  The shock continues to travel through my spirit, mind, and body.  This is a hard one to take.  Michael and his brothers played such a major role in my childhood, adolescence, college and law school experiences, and adult life.  I feel like I grew up with him.  His music and creativity inspired me to tap into and express my own creativity.  I will miss his presence. 



Why is Michael special in your life?

What are  your favorite Michael moments and songs?

My favorite songs are “ABC” and “Ben.”  I also love the albums Off the Wall and Thriller. His Thriller videos are incroyable as the French say!  His performance in The Wiz was incredible. 

May Michael’s spirit rest in peace.  May his children, family, friends, and fans remember the beauty of his creative soul.

Peace, Serenity, and MJ Inspired-Creativity,


PS: My cousin Lori sent me a link to All MJ Radio, an AOL Radio station dedicated to Michael Jackson.  I am listening to it all day to stay connected to Michael’s creative energy and inspiration.  Click here to listen: There are commercials on the radio station. If that bothers you, create a MJ station on –


Just For Women Manifesto – Poetry Marries Collage

Hi All,

Yesterday I posted a collage with a poem made from magazine clippings.  Some folks have asked for a typed version of the poem. See below. Please share it with others.  Consider making one of your own.  If you do, feel free to post it in the comments section below. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Peace and Creativity,




Just for Women Manifesto by Ananda Leeke (based on collage)

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke


Practice loving yourself 

Drawn inward take a personal time out.

Age gracefully.

Experience your own divine nature.

Become yourself.

Reserve a day for yourself.


Living your best life.

Share. Serve. Make a difference.

Think the environment is important.

Our roots make us stronger.


Be more sensuous.

Discover the power to create.

Go ahead … PLAY.

Join the movement.