In our first episode, we explore a new definition of activism with two change-leaders breaking the mold of traditional activism and successfully bridging social divides. First, we get “comfortable being uncomfortable” with James, founder of Coffee With A Black Guy and learn there’s always more than meets the eye when talking about racism. Then we pony up and dance our angst out with Emilia Richeson, creator of Pony Sweat, a “Fiercely Non-Competitive Body-Positive Dance Aerobics Celebration” in Los Angeles.

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Behind the Story

Based in Santa Barbara, CA, James Joyce III founded Coffee With A Black Guy “to share stories, have conversations, impart perspective or just listen and learn from fellow citizens of the world.” Though he didn’t know it at the time, his method of connecting and engaging in response to racial tension is actually backed by a psychological theory of prejudice reduction called Contact Theory. James was simply inspired by a need he witnessed in his own community. As he shares in this episode, he brings some unique skills to the coffee table based on his historical experiences with racism. Through these experiences, he has always maintained a radically compassionate view of others, always returning to the core experience that connects us all: love.

Dance aerobics as a form of activism? You heard it here first, folks! Emilia Richeson, founder of Pony Sweat, has created a “lead-follow” class – she leads, but you don’t have to follow! Instead she encourages you to find your own rhythm, body, movement and voice! Emilia is definitely a leader, but Pony Sweat wouldn’t be what it is today without the dedicated grassroots community that has formed around it. Though Pony Sweat has many of the traditional components of an aerobics class, the lines are quickly blurred as Emilia ponies through the center of the room, students sing and shout, and articles of clothing and puddles of sweat are discarded onto the floor along with any inhibitions you may have come in with! Stomp, yell, gyrate, cry, laugh – and definitely sweat – your way to freedom! Classes available in Los Angeles and online on the Pony Sweat website.