Circles in da hood

Cultivating change makers for the next seven generations by creating opportunities for cultural healing, intergenerational leadership, and empowerment. We envision our next seven generations having culturally rooted pathways to be successful, healthy and live oppression free. 

What is Circles in da Hood?

Circles In Da Hood is a folklife centered Participatory Action Research Project facilitated by Laura Ramirez, Kimiya Factory and Madelein Santibanez. Circles build capacity for young leaders to develop a healing justice analysis and embody the radical love needed to create and sustain collective wellness spaces in their homes and communities. This project takes place in occupied Somi S’ek territories, commonly known as San Antonio, Texas. 

In a city with systemic over-policing that disproportionately impacts youth of color, Circles In Da Hood reimagines how social relationships are woven into the fabric of our community to create alternative patterns of accountability and care. 

Circles are rooted in the wisdom of nature, indigenous human experience, with no beginning or end. Circles create a space for people to contribute the wisdom of their lives experience, and listen, learn, grow and heal within a shared brave space. Documenting our process was a key aspect of our project. It’s what folklife is all about.

Circles In Da Hood is an integral process that encourages young people to engage in community healing and power building via ancestral circle keeping practices.

The sahumador is part of the cleansing ritual that is traditionally used to amplify our communities prayers and visions for the future.

Circle researcher, Yaretzi Santibanez, holds the talking piece, an object used to let people know whose turn it is to talk while everyone else listens.

This models the importance of acknowledging every voice in the circle while paying full attention to your own truth and speaking with integrity.

Community members were engaged through over 10+ healing circles and spaces created throughout our city within a span of 6 months. Pre and Post questions were administered to collect data about youth experiences around harm and healing within families, communities and schools.


Through Circle PAR our youth learned to reflect on, investigate, share, analyze and organize to create the community they need to thrive. Lanier HS students participated in a circle, where the four elements, air, wind, water, and earth were manifested as a focal point to support speaking and listening from the heart.

Our scholars facilitated multiple youth healing circles around the city of San Antonio. These healing modalities explored self care through movement, meditation, art, medicine making and sound healing.

Engaging in circle-keeping practices. A youth healing space hosted by the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, in collaboration with community healers from San Arte Community .

PAR Fellow, Madelein Santibanez, and circle researcher, Amaris Guevara, hold the folk art design that was screen printed for the Yanaguana Youth Retreat. This Circle PAR project was an opportunity for youth to explore folk art and knowledge as tools for resistance and healing.

The building of collective knowledge amongst youth from other organizations, informed our young scholars of the critical need for healing generational trauma and breaking cycles of violence.

We actively and carefully engaged young people in anti-racist/anti-biased conversations that analyze the collective soul wound caused by systemic violence and racism while owning our power to heal and transform from the cycles of harm and silence.

Circles In Da Hood incubated next-generation leadership striving to end the school-to-prison pipeline through data driven advocacy. Circle researcher, Sarita Wolfe, and Council Woman, Terry Castillo, share a “palabra” handshake to establish a promise to center youth voice in policies affecting their lives.

The launch of the Circles in Da Hood Podcast in collaboration with VodPod Studios. Youth will produce radio documentaries as valuable curriculum resources because youth voices are too often excluded from mainstream teaching materials.

Meet the youth of the original Circles In Da Hood, who helped develop capacity for other youth circles throughout the city. As self proclaimed Earth Warriors, their work was grounded in honoring their ancestors, respect, vulnerability, responsibility, accountability, creativity, justice and love.