by Frank Bach Tell us a little bit about yourself – what’s your story? I am Kamra Sadia Hakim, a Black American transgender artist supported by Munsee Lenape land (Brooklyn). I am the author of Care Manual, musician behind Kamra, and CEO/Founder of Activation Residency. Virgo sun, Leo Rising, Cancer moon, Libra venus meaning, I get beautiful shit done in the deep, and look good while doing it. I was born to two Muslim teenagers in Wahpekute (Minneapolis) metropolis. I have been bold/shy, fake/real, and firm/soft my entire life. I got into the work of caring as a teenager relentlessly devoted to extracurriculars and excellence. I am governed by self respect, loving interrogation, laughing until my guts fall out, and leaving when it is time. My experience on earth is about the depth of being alive. How did Activation Residency come to be? Activation Residency is one of the first post-festival experiences. I spent my early 20’s deep in the culture of places like FORM Arcosanti, Bonnaroo, and Okeechobee. I was excited by the collective warmth, the relentless hum of live music, and what happens to the energy when we pull back status quo reality and bathe in the fringes of utopian gestures, even if only for a weekend. I was attending these festivals during the heightened rise of social justice activism, made festival organizers make public declarations of solidarity, and began to dream of an intimate space for artists struggling to find a sense of belonging. Activation Residency was born out of a desire to tackle the lack of creative opportunities available to working artists. Artists like Basit, Van Newman, Annika Hansteen-Izora, Julie Byrne, and Qween Jean frequent the residency. What led you into the world of wellness? The desire to be the best lover I can be, acknowledging my disabilities, and discovering I can and do cause harm led me to wellness. As my relationships hardened and chronic pain worsened, I sought out reiki, past life regression, family constellation, massage, akashic records, consent and boundaries education, and codependency recovery. I no longer believe that our feelings belong solely to us. We are each other’s business and we ought to cultivate the capacity to be in our feelings together. You’re based in Brooklyn. Have you always lived there? I moved to Brooklyn from Shouguang the year Trump got elected. I had previously been working summers in Upstate, NY counseling at Odyssey Teen Camp and felt a connection to the land there. I then got a prestigious fellowship, and chose NYU as my graduate school home. A year into my program, I got a call from the FBI saying my fellowship was being revoked because of past due medical bills, traffic tickets, and psilocybin ingestion. This meant I lost my scholarship, got billed for the scholarship, took out loans to finish my program, and left NYU with a violent amount of student loan debt. I feel held by Brooklyn’s culture. Seeing Black people everyday makes me feel safer. I love being trans in New York. I hate street violence, police, social climbing, expensive rent, and sensory overload. I am in the process of transitioning to the Upstate, NY countryside. What does a typical day look like for you? My dog and I have our morning walk in the park and then eat breakfast side by side in my small but stylish Brooklyn kitchen. The afternoons are for making, which often ends up looking like me playing and fooling around in the living room. I take an afternoon nap, and then prepare for an evening outing with friends or go on a date. 😉 What projects or work are you most proud of? The ‘Hear My No’ official music video gently slaps, and my Deem Journal and Creative Independent interviews feel generative. How do you make space for creativity in your work? I make space for creativity in my work by making all my work creative work. My recording studio is in my living room, so I get to make music whenever inspiration strikes. Can you talk about some of the common themes, symbols and meanings found in your work? Common themes in my work are value-building, care-making, making not creating, play, dreamy pallets, nature, rivers and bodies of water, kingliness, gardens and farms, tenderness, the Universe, fire, earth matter, and language as a tool. Where do you find inspiration? I find inspiration in lived experience, which I write about in Care Manual as informing life’s philosophy. Everything we need to navigate the world happens for us. It is about tuning in, brushing off the gems you find, and assigning meaning and value to them based on the kind of life you choose to live. How do you balance being an artist and making a living? I take risks each day to live the life I want backdropped by the fragrance of being an artist and making a living. Requiring larger checks for commissions, securing a fiscal sponsor for Activation Residency, investing in my making, and prioritizing financial literacy are ways I balance art making and paying bills. Care Manual by Kamra Sadia Hakim What’s been your most profound spiritual experience? Ayahuasca ceremony was a birthing of sorts, and an invitation to process and excavate the generational harm living in my body. What’s an opinion you used to have that you’ve changed your mind about? I no longer believe that our feelings belong solely to us. We are each other’s business and we ought to cultivate the capacity to be in our feelings together. What does the sun represent to you? The sun represents a symbol of self worth. If you could change one thing about the world we live in, what would that be? This question makes me emotional. I would abolition prisons, defund police, and dismantle the money to freedom pipeline. Anything you want to promote or plug? Buy the digital edition of Care Manual.