I’m an educator and performer, as well as
community builder, healer, and presencing coach —
from California, educated in New York,
and currently based in Berlin, Germany.
These are some identities with which I lead, not to encamp myself into categorization but rather locate myself socially and dynamically:
I’m an educator, coach, beekeeper, animist, community builder, gardener, neurodivergent / intuitive healer. I am a Jewish woman with trans experience, living in Germany. I’m Cherokee from my grandmother and therefore Indigiqueer (though I did not grow up on reservation). I have long been an advocate for queer rights, trans community building, and domestic violence prevention, especially in rural and small-town contexts.
I’m a coach who works with individuals, groups, NGOs, and businesses wanting to develop intentional leadership, smoothly navigate change management, develop robust diversity and inclusion programmes, as well as integrate mindfulness and trauma-informed somatic coaching into their lives and organizations.
Set up a consultation with Aurelie: info[at]aurelierichards[dot]com
We are free to change the world and start something new in it.—Hannah Arendt
I grew up tucked into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, up against the Pacific Ocean. Redwood, fig, grape, juniper, and laurel helped me map the back way to the San Joaquin River where I’d startle deer grazing and coyotes hunting on the wetlands, which I watched dry up throughout my childhood. They dried up because the year I left California was the first year I’d ever looked up to the Sierras and not seen snowpack year-round. I didn’t know it at the time but it was the signal from my home that said it was time to go on the adventure that would be my adult life.
When not in community with the flora and fauna of central California, I spent most of my childhood in Narnia, Redwall, hiding my alethiometer from the Magisterium, or in Earthsea — most important among those, the latter. It was only many years later that I’d find out that Ursula K Le Guin is Californian and that she’d been teaching me something Californian about being in the world, or between worlds, at the edge of the world, at the beginning of possible worlds.
An essay on California, or what Ursula taught me.
A gift of growing up in California, was my early exposure and interest in Buddhism. One of the first things I did after getting my driver’s license was travel to Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastery in Escondido to go on retreat with the monastics of the Order of Interbeing. An Order I would later join and help build. I also studied Reiki and began offering Reiki practice.
When I was eighteen I packed two duffle bags and got on a plane to New York City, where I earned my BFA from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in Dance and Philosophy. I then worked in New York City professionally as a dancer and actor but also in arts admin, arts and ecology education, and domestic violence prevention. While working, I studied Shiatsu and began integrating Shiatsu principles into my art-making as well as coupling it with Reiki.
After years of education and developing my career in the city, I chose to relocate to Upstate New York where I lived and worked at Thich Nhat Hahn’s monastery and spent two years as an aspirant monastic. From my base in Upstate, I helped build a mindfulness retreat and permaculture education centre in New Hampshire; learned biodynamic gardening through the Hawthorne Valley Association; studied Waldorf Pedagogy through the Center for Anthroposophy. I additionally studied to be a mindfulness-based coach during this time.
I spent a year living in a cabin, building a straw bale meditation hall, and developing the permaculture garden with my friends at a mindfulness centre in New Hampshire. I lived simply and off-grid, with no running water and only very limited access to solar electricity. I developed new levels of inner resilience and a sense of outer capacity in this place. The harshness and beauty of the New England wilds threw me back on myself and Emerson’s essay on self-reliance, which he wrote in this landscape, suddenly made sense.
In gratitude for the land with which I lived, I refined my garden skills, learned wild-crafted medicinal herbal tincture, beekeeping, and spent innumerable quiet hours burrowed in two meters of snow with a raging fire in the stove and in my heart, refining my writing craft like many of my New England ancestors. After that year, I crossed the Connecticut River, weary of the granite rigidity of New Hampshire and into the limestone tenderness of Vermont, where I’d spend the years of my gender transition.
It was in Vermont that I discovered the vibrancy and subtilty of LGBTQIA+ activism and community building in a small-town, with limited resources but a lot of grit and love. I learned in Vermont how to have a warrior’s heart and I learned how to be the kind of woman I’d never given myself permission to be, what Clarissa Pinkola Estes would call „the woman who runs with wolves.“
Now living in Germany, I make participatory, durational, immersive, and transhumanistic theatre and public art. With some of my collaborators I develop curatorial platforms for speculative and augmented realities addressing climate change and social collapse, through technology and art-making.
All of my work asks questions about displacement and belonging, human and other-than-human, possible futurity and non-linear time, and Relationscapes where agents meet in meaningful and transformative encounter.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness—David Whyte
to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.