Jenn Accius doesn’t like opening up about her past encounter with a violent police officer. That trauma is normally hidden away but occasionally spills out on poetry pages — one of the only spaces where she’s felt comfortable.
This moment feels different.
Accius, 32, is the co-founder of kärnl moon — it’s a Black artist collective run by six women. It started in 2018 as a one-stop shop in West Palm Beach for in-person gatherings and workshops focused on wellness, meditation, horticulture, and poetry.
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The women are leading a growing healing community amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and protests against systemic racism.
“So the idea for kärnl moon came from my own wellness journey. I actually experienced police brutality, which led to me experiencing PTSD. And so I got on a journey of wellness and reclaiming that for myself. And so I sought out events and most of them are down south and not really in West Palm," Accius told WLRN.
“And friends of mine would be like, ‘Oh man, I wish that there was something like that in West Palm.”
For Accius, trauma can travel. She says the national spotlight on high-profile racial microaggressions and the deaths of Oluwatoyin "Toyin" Salau, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others, have reverberated to even the smallest communities. Accius says she knew she wanted “to make sure that people, marginalized people, have access to wellness and education on that as well.”
That means tapping into complex issues surrounding Black and Latinx communities in Palm Beach County and meeting people where they are. Through public Instagram Live sessions and invite-only Zoom meetings, women and men engage in calls for mental and emotional self-improvement, spirituality, and economic empowerment.
The collective invites subject matter experts, artists and thought-leaders to help address long-standing intercultural problems like colorism and structural inequality issues like redlining and the lack of access to mental health services. The group says the name "kärnl” is the phonetic spelling of carnal and moon "represents the celestial divine self."
Co-founders, Jacque Palmer, 34, and Flose LaPierre, 28, say their online members are “connecting more than ever” about dealing with collective anxiety - a generation inundated by “uncertainty.”
“People were essentially pouring out their grief, their frustration, going through the, you know, the stages of grief online. And I saw that immediately people were hurting, calling out of work,” Palmer said.
Palmer, the “sound mama,” known for her meditative sound bath sessions, produced a Black resource directory for the community and helped organize a virtual healing circle with the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority. It’s a 4-week private series on Zoom that focuses on developing compassion and practicing empathy.
Jacque is Afro-Latinx, and she says recent protests have forced kärnl moon fans and members to reexamine what it means to be Black in the United States.
“And so I came to the girls and I said, ‘we need to put together a healing circle like yesterday and we just need to hold space. We need to talk about and acknowledge what's happening in our community. We need to let people know we see you, we love you and we're holding space for you.”
The collective, each with their own expertise, tend to mobilize quickly: Anuella Alexander, 30, is the “plant mama.” Alexander often leads horticulture workshops. Jenn’ey Accius, 28, is the resident DJ Judy. Penelope Petit, 30, is “Penney,” the photographer.
And Flose LaPierre, the published writer and poet, often serves as the host for virtual open mics and pre-pandemic, in-person events. Before the group was forced to move to online sessions, LaPierre says kärnl moon initially partnered with Daniel Fortune, owner of the Creativ Dept, a media events space.
She describes the eclectic gatherings as a “vibe.”
“I mean, our events are unlike anything I've ever experienced. We started out in this studio space and we hosted our first four full moon markets there. And basically what they are is a healing space,” she said. “And so you walk in and everything has been thought out. Everything from the art, everything from the music to the food to whether there are throw pillows on the floor to whether Jacque's sound bowls are set up.”
LaPierre says she doesn't know when people will “vibe” in person again but finds reassurance in the undying attempts to connect.
“I think we’ve surprisingly managed to maintain a solid sense of community online.”
kärnl moon has continued their partnership with the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority for their Healing Circle on July 13.