The collaborators, kyle lemle and brontë velez met in July 2016 as inaugural recipients of the Spiritual Ecology Fellowship.
During the fellowship, they have built strong relationships with leaders around the world, from South Dakota to Northern India, who are bridging the gaps between faith and activism, ceremony and protest.
Lead to Life bridges their complementary and diverse histories in social justice, art practice, ecological restoration and climate resilience.
co-alchemist | creative director
brontë is guided by “the many rivers that have come together” to make and sustain them. as a black-latinx multimedia artist, life-long student, and designer, their praxis (theory + action) lives at the intersections of critical geography, black liberation ecologies and creative placemaking. they live by the call that "black wellness is the antithesis of state violence" (Mark Anthony Johnson). their work intends to compost the violences forged by environmental racism through radical imagination. this commitment iterates through several mediums and this year grows through Lead to Life. in their last year at Brandeis University, brontë worked as a copy editor on a retrospective of Mexican artist Pedro Reyes’ work. when they witnessed his projects Disarm and Palas por Pistolas - in which he transforms weapons into shovels and instruments - they were struck with a vision to continue these rituals in the united states as a direct response to losing a dear friend to gun violence alongside the larger traumatic impact on black communities and environments from police brutality. they are committed to joy, wellness and walking in the prayer that “justice is what love looks like in public."
Co-AlCHEmist | program director
Kyle is a community-based natural resource management professional, with experience working for international and grassroots NGOs across the Himalayas, Southeast Asia and California. Working with forest communities around the world, he has witnessed the power of tree planting to build ecological resilience while preserving culture. Before receiving the Spiritual Ecology Fellowship, Kyle served as as Manager of Programs and Impact for Global Footprint Network and then Community Project Manager with Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF), where he organized and implemented 30 neighborhood-level greening campaigns and the planting of over 2000 trees across the streets of San Francisco. When he is not planting trees, Kyle serves as founder and co-director of the Thrive East Bay Choir, where he is writing and performing original gospel-for-social-change music in a growing, purpose-driven community based in Oakland. He is a former resident of Green Gulch Farm, and continues to draw inspiration and energy from his practice in the Soto Zen tradition.