Episode 12 | Beyond BHM with guest Michaela Ayers

Feb 6, 2023

Description: This week we are sitting down with Michaela Ayers the Founder and Facilitator of Nourish, a DEI collective that improves the way people work together. As well as host of her own podcast the Black Her Stories pod. In our conversation, Michaela talks about the gift of gathering around the table and how approach each conversation with curiosity, not fear. Make sure you’ve got a pen handy because you’re gonna want to take notes!


Michaela Ayers
Pic of Esther’s favorite shelf


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Kerri: Hello and welcome to the Flourish and Friends podcast. I’m your host, Kerri, and I’m here with my friend and collaborator. Hi Esther. 

Esther: Hey friends. Hey, Kerri. 

Kerri: Hey. Our goal for this podcast is to create an avenue for our Flourish community to gather around important conversations that lead to more growth and more flourishing. 

Esther: Yeah, nothing is really off the table because how we lead our life spills into how we lead at work and overall our brand reflects that, especially as creatives.

Kerri: February is Black History Month. We’re sitting down with DEI consultant Michaela Ayers, to get her a take on Black History Month and how we as creatives can shift our mindset for the month ahead. But first, let’s start with some fun things that are giving us life.


Kerri: All right, Esther, what’s your fresh pick this week?

Esther: So this week I wanted to highlight printed photographs and artwork. I absolutely love filling my home with as much printed artwork as possible, and especially before moving. It was really important for me to get, like, gather some artworks from friends as well as just the community in Kansas City.

So I could bring a piece of that into my home here in Melbourne. And, also just, have been collecting some artwork from people I’ve met here. And, yeah, I just, even if it’s prints from old vacations or family. I, I feel like it just brings new life into a space and you can always shift, artwork and shift photographs depending on the season. 

Or I really like to just mix art. So if it’s a photo and painting and sketches and drawings and, and then like fill in the blanks with plants and flowers. And so I, I feel like it’s just a really great way to add personal touch to your home and like I said, it just has been really cool, especially moving away from so much community to have that, to just look at every day. And, yeah, it’s just giving me, life its sparking joy, 

Kerri: Do you have a favorite art picture or print that you have? 

Esther: Hmm. I picked up a watercolor of the River Market before we left and it’s, yeah, it’s really cool. It’s, I love when, pieces aren’t just like straightforward. So like you would only know it’s Kansas City if you’ve been there. And I have the same, like type of deal, like a really small, sketch of Montmartre in Paris, which is one of my favorites too, that I picked up from an of artist, at the Montmartre, market. So I think those two are my favorites so far.

And then, yeah, I just bought a painting from a friend I met here..which has the similar colors and it all has the same color as this fruit still life that I’ve done. and so we have all three of those sitting on a shelf in our kitchen. So that’s like a collection that I really am enjoying.

Kerri:  I love that. .I love how you’re, they’re like artifacts in a way and helping remind you of the people and places that you love. And I also like how you mentioned that you, for some things, have some seasonality to them too. I think it’s easy to get in the mindset of like, okay, this is the picture for this room.

For the rest of the room’s life, you know? But it’s actually more fun to rotate things and to have that spark to be like, oh, maybe not every single thing. Cuz that might overwhelm people depending on their personality. Sure. But just to think like, we can change it up, you know, we can switch it up, we can take things down or, or put new things in. And that’s, that’s a fun way to keep your space fresh and creative. . 

Esther: Mm-hmm. , definitely. What about you, Kerri? What’s sparking joy for you right now? 

Kerri: For me it is my office chair, which is new, from a company called Branch. I don’t remember how I found it. Pretty sure it was a paid ad, , . So Hook, line, and Sinker.

They knew, they were like, oh, solopreneur who might have back issues. Let’s target her with a better office chair. And it worked because I’ve been sitting in a IKEA office chair, which has been great. It’s worked really well. It’s very like a classic chair, but it doesn’t, it didn’t really have lower back support.

And I actually don’t have a good back. So, I got this chair at the end of last year and it’s been phenomenal. Like the difference is kind of shocking in terms of support and comfort. Wow. And I still am doing my thing. I think I mentioned this on an earlier podcast where I’m sitting and standing and trying to rotate between the two.

But the sitting down has been great. And the other thing is it’s hard to find a chair for, I’m five four, so I’m not even like the shortest of the people I know, but so many chairs are so deep. That, you, even if your like feet could touch the ground, it’s like it’s too deep cuz like your knees are too far back, if that makes sense.

And this actually fits my leg shape decently well and my feet mostly touch the ground. When I wear a certain pair of slippers, they definitely touch the ground. So sometimes I have to wear those slippers, but I’m just like, I’m sorry, I’m not even that. . I mean, I know I’m short, but I know a lot of people who are around my height, a lot of women, and it’s like, okay, can we not make office chairs or like couches or just different things that actually fit our bodies and mm-hmm. . So anyway, that’s a whole nother, that’s a whole nother topic, but I’ve been enjoying my chair.

Esther: Did you, go test out chairs before you purchased it or did you just blindly order it online?

Kerri: No! Sight unseen. I did look at a lot of reviews. I searched the review for the word. And I think that’s actually the word I searched. And so I, some other people I’d posted who were shorter, so that was helpful. And looked through a lot of the pictures and I was like, well, the worst thing is I have to return it, which would kind of be a pain in the butt cuz you assemble the chair and then I would have to a, some bullet, but it worked out. But it just felt like one of those life upgrades in investments in health and wellness that was, was worth it, so. 

All right. Time to grab your tea and enjoy our conversation with Michaela Ayers.


Kerri: Hi, friends. Today I’m so excited to be joined by Michaela Ayers. Michaela is a facilitator and founder of Nourish, a DEI collective that improves the way people work together. Driven by the purpose of gathering people together to value our differences. Michaela harnesses the power of conversation to foster climates of inclusion and cooperation. A spirited storyteller at Michaela is also the creator and host of the Black Her Stories podcast. Michaela, welcome to Flourish and Friends, thank you so much for joining us.

Michaela Ayers: Hello everybody and hello Kerri. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Kerri: So I’d love to start off by hearing a little bit more about your story, just a little bit about your background and how did you decide to start Nourish?

Michaela Ayers: Well, I feel like it’s a juicy conversation. I think for me, gathering people and building community is something that I learned from watching my grandparents. And so Nourish began as a series of dinner parties. With that same intention because that was something I saw my grandparents do on a regular basis, whether that was with our family every Sunday or with members of their church or community. And so I wanted to use that same platform to explore topics that were difficult for people to talk about and you know, one of those topics of course is race, and racism. 

And so for me, you know, the intention was, you know, how can I take something that is hard to talk about that is kind of hot to touch, and put it into an environment that feels really nourishing? You know, When we mix those two types of things together, it kind of gives people permission to do something that they wouldn’t normally do. And so that is how Nourish began in terms of wanting to use the power of food, and curiosity and creativity to bring people together. 

And it evolved from there in terms of wanting to put together more kind of experiential learning events. Wanting to get more different types of people in the room together, because I feel like that is, you know, at the core of, what I like to do and what I’m about, it’s really about, having Nourishing conversations, being exposed to people who have different ideas than me, and then walking away with something, you know, in terms of maybe a different perspective or like a reframe on something that maybe I’ve been grappling with too. But I just needed to hear it from somebody else’s perspective. So that is, that’s a little bit of the why and you know, how I got to this place.

Kerri: I love that. Sounds like it really evolved organically from something that you’re passionate about into now to something that you do with organizations and in different settings too. What do you think it is about the, the gathering space that, kind of let’s people drop their barriers in that way.

Because you’re right, when you talk about a topic like race, it, it’s so easy to feel, for people to feel guarded or to feel, afraid. Like I hear a lot of people say like, I’m afraid to say the wrong thing, or I’m afraid to ask questions. I actually heard that from someone the other day. I’m afraid to ask questions.

So what do you think it is about that like communal setting that really helps people engage in those conversations that you’ve seen?

Michaela Ayers: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think first and foremost, we’re such social creatures, you know? So it’s like we crave those types of opportunities to socialize with like-minded people. people who are maybe, in our, you know, in our same neighborhood or have some kind of similar interests, some shared identity.

We crave those experiences. So I think that in and of itself, you know, there’s a level of safety involved. There’s a level of belonging that we’re lusting after when it comes to those types of community spaces. And I think the other thing that was working in my, in my particular benefit, is we also all need food. You know, like food is such a, you know, just core part of the human experience. 

We can’t divorce ourselves from the need, to nourish ourselves. And so I think those two things combined, you know, when we put you know, that desire for belonging, that desire for connection that is so intrinsic to being a part of this, of this human experience.

When we combine that with something like food that also we have a constant craving for, I think that does give people the kind of, yeah, it does allow them to drop their guard a little bit and just kind of sink into an experience, and just be present for what might happen next.

Kerri: It’s been so beautiful to be able to have these virtual connections and meet people we probably, we may never have met otherwise, had the world not shifted and just this feeling of, wanting to be back, back with people being able to have conversations face to face, having food face to face again or with, with, with others too. There’s that craving is definitely there.

Michaela Ayers: Right.

Kerri: So you, described yourself as a, as a creative, a storyteller and I’m curious because it’s Black History Month and a lot of people in the community, and in the flourish community, we have a lot of creatives in our community are probably putting out a lot of inspirational educational information this month.

But as we know, there tends to be a lot of virtue signaling too.

What would you share with non-black creatives and storytellers who are wanting to celebrate this, honor month and also not be performative?

Michaela Ayers: Mm. Yeah. Absolutely. Well, I appreciate this question very much, because, you know, there’s so many really beautiful opportunities to celebrate different cultures. Like I, I think that’s something I, I mean, obviously because I’m black, I have a bias towards Black History Month. But I also feel like every, every cultural heritage month we should be asking ourselves this question. 

I would invite everyone to dig a little bit deeper, like, don’t accept the surface level stories. Don’t accept the names that you’re already familiar with, because there are so many more names. There are so many more stories that have been, either erased, you know, when we think about history, and the, and especially black history. Being culturally erased from our history books or from our memories. But I also think about just stories that we don’t often have the chance to hear or maybe are misrepresented in some way. 

And so I would invite people to think like an investigator or like a detective, you know? So if you are a graphic designer, you know, perhaps you can take this month to look within your field for a black icon who in, in history that aligns to what you’re doing. And this is something that I like to do, you know, it’s, it’s part of my practice of course, because I’m interested in stories and I’m interested in history. But I also find it so meaningful in terms of, you know, we are standing on the shoulders of the people who came before us, and so it really, for me, it helps me kind of feel connected, to the experience of being alive, like to the process of like bringing something into the world that didn’t exist before. And I think as creatives, that’s something that I think is something that’s unique about us, right? Like, We have that desire, we have that yearning to, offer the world something unique and meaningful. 

And so in that way, I, I would invite people who are listening to, yeah, get curious, about who came before you, who did something that you’re interested in, but did it in a different, way. And what, how did they overcome? You know, I think there’s so much we can learn, when it comes to looking at stories of the people who came before us, because, the times that they lived in were so different and so I think there’s also so many breadcrumbs that I like to collect in that way, in terms of just keeping those, like that energy with me. As I, as I encounter the inevitable challenge, right. So that would be my, my advice to listeners

Kerri: I love that. That’s such a good, important mindset that we need to have and approach, like you said, in, in all, all heritage months as well. And I love that you, cuz you have your podcast, it’s Black Her Stories, so you’re also interested in storytelling, you know, now and in creating those stories for the next generation.

I’d love to hear a little bit more about that initiative that you, you have and the inspiration behind it.

Michaela Ayers: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I could talk about it all day, but Black Her Stories. I mean, it did start out of that desire and recognition that the story, like when I looked at the history that I was taught when I was in school, whether that was, you know, middle school, high school, college, I did not see represented. I did not see black women represented in a way that was empowered.

And so often, especially when I reflect on my experiences as a young person, you know, the stories I was exposed to were black people as enslaved. Black people as not empowered, right? And so that does something to your sense of self, and so, you know, Black Her Stories for me was like, for me, I was like, I have to do something about this.

Like, if I feel like this, there has to be other people who feel like this too. And of course that’s true. Like there have been so many amazing, and there are still so many amazing, historians, artists, creators who are, you know, lifting up black stories and are telling, telling stories about blackness in a unique way. 

And so black hear stories is just my version of that in terms. Making connections with black women artists, and wanting to hear about, yeah, what inspires their creativity, and who in history are they inspired by? Because I think lineage is really important. Like I said before, we’re standing on the shoulders of the people who came before us. and so in that way, just making those connections, and being able to, draw inspiration, from that, from, from like where we come from. Like the roots of, of our experiences. And so yeah, black her stories for me is definitely thinking about people in the past and also people in the future, right?

Like little, you know, the people who are not even here yet and hoping that I’ll be able to capture their attention.

Kerri: Thanks for sharing about that. I am curious, you, you believe that every person has a diversity story. Not just women or, or BIPOC or you know when you, when people typically think of the word diversity. I’d love to hear more about that and just that belief that you have and yeah.

Michaela Ayers: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I, I feel like, I don’t, I would say perhaps in the last five to eight years, you know, as we’ve seen, diversity, equity, and inclusion become more of a force, in the corporate setting. You know, I feel like diversity has, in some circles, become shorthand for women or BIPOC people or the LGBTQIA plus community, it’s become shorthand for that. 

And I, the thing that I, that I guess my axe to grind with that, is that, you know, we are so much more than just one thing. You know, so when I think of diversity, it is really reccog- the recognition that you know, outside of the things about you that I can see. There’s so many other parts of your identity below the surface that I can’t make assumptions about. That I’m excited to get to know. Right? And so while I might be able to perceive you as a, in a particular way, there is something unique and diverse about every person. And so you, for me, it’s an invitation to be curious in that way. and figure out, yeah. And what is this person’s diversity story and just begin to draw that out, you know, in terms of, interacting with others.

Kerri: I love that and I resonate with that so much. You know, there’s always more beneath the surface and beneath what, is just on, on the outside or how people perceive, you know, we all bring our own, you know, our own stories into how we perceive others too. So trying to break down those perceptions and really, get to the humanity of someone and, and know their story, and know them, know them better beyond just a label.

So yeah. I love that. What are some approaches that you like to use in, in your work and in Nourish that can help people incorporate creative thinking and dei together?

Michaela Ayers: Hm. Well, I guess the thing that comes up first is, I mean, I, I’ve already mentioned curiosity. And I think that it’s an underestimated skill, in terms of just being inherently curious and not making assumptions. Just, in, even, even in, I guess, I-I’ll pause and say, you know, I am a big fan of design thinking.

I’m a big fan of human-centered design. And so asking questions and not making assumptions and just being curious about what could be possible, I think is a really great place to start. I think sometimes in the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion work, it could be easy to fall into the trap that there’s only one way to do something or that this is how we’ve always done it, and so this is how it will always be. 

And I think that kind of fixed mindset is like kryptonite, for any kind of cultural change or any type. new opportunity that you have, perhaps with a new coworker or a new colleague or friend. You know, if you approach it in that mindset, then you are gonna get the same result. and so I think the, the fuel for creative thinking is curiosity and that openness and the willingness to experiment and try something different and it’s uncomfortable. And you know, I think that that is ultimately where the growth happens, right?

Is it’s, it’s when we are willing to step out and take a risk, that we learn something. And you know, regardless of the outcome, you’re gonna walk away with knowledge. Like you’re gonna walk away with a lived experience that perhaps propels you to your goal, or you’re gonna say, okay, I’m, now I know this, I’m gonna do it better next.

Kerri: Do you ever interact with leaders who are afraid of that curiosity, or really afraid of the uncomfortable? I, I just have heard, leaders who are afraid of quote unquote rocking the boat.

So maybe these leaders who are not even on maybe the dei journey or, or thinking about it because they are too afraid they’re in, they’re interested in protecting the status quo, I guess. Do, do you have any experiences of helping spark that curiosity with those sort of people, or do you not feel that that’s really your role either? Like that needs to be an inner thing that comes from them?

Michaela Ayers: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think it’s a both and situation. I think I, guess my curiosity with a person who perhaps feels like, afraid. Which is understandable right? I, I really, I empathize with that fear because we all experience fear, but also. Fear is not a good enough reason to not do something. You know, like if you let fear keep you from doing what you wanna do in the world, you know, you’re, you’re not gonna get anything done. 

So like first, I think that’s the first thing. but then I think with questioning, like self-discovery, you know, like. What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen? Right? Just like open yourself up to explore like what is holding you back and why, and where does that fear come from, you know? And you know, on that same path, you know, as a, as a black woman, as a, as a DEI practitioner. Yeah. It is also not my job to change someone’s mind who’s not willing to do that work, and so I don’t waste my time with people who are on the fence about it because I’m so gung-ho about my work and also time that I’m not gonna sit here and try and convince someone to do something that they’re not ready to do. And so while I absolutely have a lot of patience and empathy for that, cuz I’ve been there, I also am like, you know, whenever you’re ready, let me know.

Kerri: Thank you. Thanks for sharing that. I think that’s really helpful and I. With our listeners if they have, I know there are a lot of internal advocates who are, you know, within organizations, maybe they’re not the top leader, but they’re, they’re wanting to make change, but that, that, that leader may not be there yet.

So I just hear some encouraging things in there. And also, yeah, the self-awareness. Like we can’t, we can’t make people become self-aware. They have to be wanting and willing to open up and think through those possibilities, even though it’s really scary. It is scary and, and I like how you address, you know, fear is a real thing and we have to move beyond it because otherwise the world doesn’t go around and no, no progress happens. So.

Michaela Ayers: Yeah. Well, and I think another thing I’ll say is that, I think sitting with that fear and recognizing where it comes from and perhaps what’s, what’s right about it? I think that was something I learned from one of my teachers this summer is like, what’s right about this fear? You know, in terms of I’m afraid that something about my life is going to change and I’m going to lose something, a friendship or like a safety, right?

It’s like that’s understandable. That is meeting yourself with compassion to say, I recognize that this is something that is, I will experience some form of loss, right? And I can have compassion for myself in that way. And I’m gonna do it anyway. right? Like, and it’s important to me because I wanna live in a world that is just unfair. And so, you know, just coaching yourself through it, you know, I know it’s easy to say. Just do it anyway, because, but there’s a lot of little steps in between that, you know, that we can, that we can support ourself, throughout that journey, throughout that transformation.

Kerri: Yes. And I love thinking of it as a journey and the transformation too, in the sense that it’s not gonna be perfect either. And I think maybe there’s a fear of I wanna do it well, or, or what if I fall on my face and it’s like, again, yes we will. And that’s part of the process. We can’t let that, keep us in the way of us growing so, yeah. 

Are there any brands or organizations that you see, doing storytelling, doing dei in an excellent way that you would like to highlight or share about?

Michaela Ayers: You know, I always think of Airbnb as a company that I feel like does it well and also has not, you know, done it wrong and been honest about it, you know,? Which I, I really appreciate the transparency in terms of, you know, what, I think it was. maybe three or five years ago. Time is so strange right now, but you know, when people were reporting that they were having experiences on Airbnb where they, you know, because of their, the color of their skin, they felt like they weren’t being accepted by hosts to stay at their place. Or perhaps when they did arrive, there was some kind of racial profiling happening. and that was causing a bad experience. 

And I appreciated how the company responded in terms of creating an internal team, that was inves that investigated that, and did reporting on that. in terms of the data and representation of who is having this experience so we can have a clear understanding, of what we’re, what we’re talking about here, in terms of exclusion and racism in this case. And then you know, what the company did afterward when you go through the Airbnb experience now as a host, you have to agree to community guidelines, right? Like you have to be accountable to say, I will not discriminate against someone based off of their identity, because that’s not part of Airbnb’s values. 

And so, I mean, there’s a lot of other initiatives wrapped up in this example. but I feel like Airbnb as a brand because of what they do, you know, in terms of creating a safe space for people to go on vacation, and making sure that both the hosts and the guests are having a good experience. I feel like I’m always looking at what they’re doing, and appreciate the way that their leaders speak to what, what is the update or what is changed, or, you know, in what way, what other ways are they kind of exploring those ideas internally. So I, I definitely look to that, look to them, and, and encourage other people too, as well.

Kerri: Thanks for sharing that. Yeah, well we can definitely link that in the show notes, and I like how in that example, it’s beyond just the way Airbnb is putting out PR about themselves, but they’re actually embedding it into their process and system and into the experience, out of their values. So that’s great.

I guess as we, as we close our conversation, do you have any final words for brand creators or leaders during Black History Month and beyond about anything we’ve talked about?

Michaela Ayers: I think, I guess the thing that’s swelling up in me is. be willing to do it different. Just in what way can you do it differently this year and just take one small step towards a creative risk. And that could be, you know, if you’re a leader, that could be letting somebody else make a decision. In what way can you share power? If you are a manager, perhaps it’s thinking about, you know, in what way can I amplify somebody who doesn’t ha, who hasn’t had like a sponsorship or mentorship opportunity? Like, how can I, offer some of my time to somebody who perhaps hasn’t had that type of relationship?

If you are an individual contributor, you know, in what way can you raise your hand to participate in something, that would stretch you professionally or personally? Whether that’s volunteering or whether that’s, you know, thinking about something kind of content that you don’t see out in the world that you want to see. Just take little experiments one day at a time, but be willing to, to do it different this year.

Kerri: Thank you. Thanks so much, Michaela, for joining us. Really appreciate you sharing more of your story and just your wonderful perspective and insights for all of us. How can our listeners support you? Stay in touch with you?

Michaela Ayers: Yeah. Well first, thank you so much. I really appreciate the invitation and I’m really grateful to share. And yeah, if people wanna get in touch or follow what I’m up to, would say first, follow Black Her Stories. It’s available, wherever you listen to podcasts. I’m getting ready for season two and I’m super excited it’s gonna be really fun this season focusing on black women artists, visual artists here in Detroit. so be on the lookout for that. 

And then, Nourish.community is where you can find me in terms of my website and also on social media. and there’s gonna be a lot of changes. you know, speaking of like doing it different this year. There’s gonna be some exciting changes coming up for me in the next couple of months. And so if you wanna be along for the ride, yeah, stop on my website and say hi.

Kerri: Awesome. Well, thanks again, Michaela. We appreciate it so much.

Michaela Ayers: Absolutely. Thanks Kerri.


Esther: Oh my gosh, so much gold. I loved it. What a great discussion. Michaela has such great experience and insight in creating community. I love the, the mission behind Nourish that, you know, people gotta eat. We’re gonna gather around the table, build community, and then actually create a space to yeah, uncover that dei and within groups of people and communities. 

I, I had a couple takeaways. I would say that digging a bit deeper, really spoke to me I’m naturally a deep person and I always love digging, digging, digging, but I love that she kind of challenged us in this celebration month of black heritage and just, you know, there’s so many people that we haven’t heard of that aren’t in the limelight. Every person that we see posted about or celebrated, there’s dozens of others who have been overlooked or just not written about. And the amazing thing about the internet is that so many biographers and writers and researchers, like their articles are available to us. We don’t have to go to archival libraries anymore to really like dig.

We can just go follow maybe a link trail even like Google Scholar. You can, you can Google some vetted research, which I think is really helpful. But I love that idea of let’s not just quote mlk like every other month and maybe, you know, there’s so much more that he’s spoken and kind of taught on. That we don’t even know. 

So maybe it is like one step would be to read a full bio on Martin Luther King Jr. Or maybe it’s to listen to a full sermon, or maybe it’s, look at the people around him that we don’t know much about and go into depth into their life.

I mentioned on an earlier. Episode how the podcast Uncivil really like triggered me into discovering more about our history, American history around the Civil War and how that, like so many stories have been glossed over or retold or yeah, just, I mean, blatantly people have been discredited for what they’ve contributed to our country.

So I think, yeah, just, digging deep can be taken in so many different directions and I loved that advice. 

Kerri: I think it’s cool to think about where are the untold stories in our fields or industries or mission areas too? And there are so, so many stories that have not been highlighted that still exist.

And I can think of a lot of stories here in Kansas City of some really. Important black women who are a part of our living history and also the history of the city that are not as well known. You know, the streets aren’t named after them. They’re named after, you know, JC Nichols, which is another rabbit hole of a conversation for the Kansas City community.

Esther: Mm-hmm. . 

Kerri: But thinking about, okay, what community context am I in? What are the areas of life that I like, love? And I’m interested in how I, how can I dig further and dig deeper and find those stories? And not only just to share, “hey, I found this stories” that’s, that’s great if you, if it spurs others on that learning journey and that learning path, but also just for our own growth and learning and listening to those who have gone before us. 

Esther: Yeah, definitely. I also loved how she talked about curiosity and just how we can approach difficult situations. Like when you asked her about opening up that conversation of equity and inclusion and just I loved her approach of being curious and don’t come in with assumptions. 

And she also led with a lot of empathy and acknowledged that fear is a real thing and you know, that she just kind of spoken to how we all feel fear, but we need to choose to move beyond that fear and actually let it fuel us. I, I’ve heard recently that if you feel fear towards something, then move toward it. Because on the other end is growth. And so I think just taking that as a, a guidance rather than choosing comfort, I think just leads to so much change that needs to happen.

And then also just growth in our own life as well. 

Kerri: Love that growth is uncomfortable and talking about these. Topics and things that stir up a lot of, not only emotions in our own stories, but not knowing what it might stir up in someone else. Kind of that hesitancy of, I’m not sure how this is going to be received, or how this is gonna, how they might react really poorly to this.

And shifting from that mindset of worrying about other’s reactions to that mindset of curiosity and really going in with open hands and just a curious mindset to get to know people as people. 

And I think that’s what I love about her business with Nourish is just that relational aspect of understanding that change really does happen through relationships and there are so many different ways we can seek to build bridges and you know, food is a great one of them. And just getting to know our neighbors and our community is really important in, in the process of bringing about change even when it’s painful. 

Esther: I agree.


Esther: All right. Let’s move on to our next segment, our bookmarks. Is there anything, Kerri, you’d like to share with us that you’ve been reading or listening to? 

Kerri: Yes, I, one of my Vision intentions for the year. It’s not really a resolution, but I’ve been wanting to revive more of Spanish in my life.

I took Spanish all through high school and college and it’s something that I really enjoy and love. So I’ve been checking out books from the library that are bilingual. I’m starting with the starter books, aka storybooks that have pictures in them, but it’s been really fun to read them. and I have done duolingo and other tools to just stay on top of my Spanish and it’s great, but I’m just really liking this digital minimalist approach of anything that I can have physically is great.

And so I was actually just looking for Spanish storybooks, but they’re actually quite a few at the library that have both English and Spanish on it. So I’ve been reading it with my husband and he doesn’t know Spanish. He grew up learning French, but it’s been kind of fun to read through them and just brush up on vocabulary and storytelling and things that I haven’t even, you know, just different vocab words I didn’t even know before because of the nature of the stories that are being told.

So it’s been a lot of fun. Definitely encouraged if you have some sort of long lost language that you wanna dust off. Doing a children’s book in that language is a great re-entry point, and Duolingo goes great too. It’s, it’s a lot of fun, but I think gamified things, are never sustainable for me, so. How, how about you? What’s your bookmark this week? 

Esther: So on the topic of digging deep, I just wanted to highlight a book I read called The Color of Law. It’s written by Richard Rothstein, who is a researcher. He does a lot of research around redlining and kind of the effects of FDRs initiatives and how they actually fragmented a lot of the suburbs and cities in the US and yeah. 

I just, it brought a lot of clarity and research to feeling of living in a segregated city. You recognize the lines the boundaries just intrinsically, but this was very, clear about how they were drawn, what enforcements people used both in the government and real estate and everything in between.

And, and it takes a really clear stance of, this wasn’t that long ago. And a lot of these laws have just in this century been ending. And so I think, yeah, if you’re really interested in how. The US got segregated and the Jim Crow era, I would definitely recommend reading this from, it’s just a, like I said, it’s just seeped in history and research. So, wanted to throw that in if you’re looking for a read this month to go deeper. 

Kerri: Excited to check it out! 


Kerri: Thanks for joining us today. Be sure to check out flourish creative.co/podcast to see our show notes. 

Esther: Yeah, we’d love to hear from you. You can send us a note to hello@flourishcreative.co, or you can tag us on Instagram we are @FlourishCreativeCo. And feel free to leave a review wherever you’re listening. This helps new friends discover our podcast community. 

Kerri: Thanks again to Michaela Ayers for joining us. And until next time, live well and flourish.



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