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Behind the List

What We Mean by "Collective Self-Care"

By Stephanie Diamond
April 30, 2021

For as long as I can remember, I’ve described Listings Project as rooted in “collective self-care.” What this means is that we draw on the belief that we are our best selves when we feel both grounded as individuals and deeply connected to a vibrant, energizing public. In short, collective self-care is about taking care of yourself so that you can take care of and be of service to your community.

Taking care of yourself can mean different things to different people. Your self-care could be meditating or playing basketball or walking around the neighborhood. But no matter what it is, you can tell you are taking care of yourself when you are doing something that grounds you and reconnects you to yourself. It doesn’t always have to be a discipline or a serious practice. Sometimes self-care is just about what you need in the moment. Maybe you need to make a todo list, or rearrange your furniture, or wiggle in a way that feels good to your body. We are all facing different circumstances and different challenges, and our self-care will always be as unique as we are. But no matter what we are facing, connection with ourselves and our bodies is always available, even when it doesn’t feel that way.

Collective Self Care_1

Photo by Stephanie Diamond

For the past fifteen years, one of the main ways I take care of myself is through my 5Rhythms dance practice. Created by the dancer and musician Gabrielle Roth, 5Rhythms is “a dynamic movement practice rooted in the principle that if you put the psyche in motion it will heal itself.” In 5Rhythms, participants gather in a supportive community, moving instinctively to music, guided by a certified teacher. I like to describe it as a combination between group meditation and dancing with the ecstatic abandon of someone who is absolutely certain they are all alone. 

I find 5Rhythms so powerful because it helps me ground myself in my body, and tune in to my intuition while simultaneously connecting with community. It’s the collective and the self-care happening at the same time. In 5Rhythms I can directly experience the ways in which my wellbeing is interconnected with yours. Thich Nhat Hanh calls this interbeing and it means that “the whole planet is one giant, living, breathing cell, with all its working parts linked in symbiosis.”

Collective Self Care_2

Photo by Stephanie Diamond

When I am grounded in my 5Rhythms practice I am able to show up as my best self for my family, my community and Listings Project. It’s so important, in particular, that I am able to show up as my best self for Listings Project because Listings Project is the “collective” in “collective self-care” for me.  It’s my way of being of service in community. 

At Listings Project collective self-care guides how we relate to one another as a team, as well. When someone is struggling, we try to make space for that, and to remember our interbeing. Because when one of us struggles, we all struggle. And, when one of us is flourishing, we feel that throughout our team and it brings vibrancy and wellbeing to us all. 

It goes beyond our internal practices as a team, though. It guides our decision making and policies, too. From our vetting practice, to our Community Agreements, to our policies about who can be a part of Listings Project, there are dozens of ways we practice and facilitate collective self-care at Listings Project.  When we write articles about housing justice, when we promote artists, and when we respond to concerns and requests from our community, we are practicing collective self-care.

Listings Project Team

Photo by Helen Healey

Because we operate at the intersection of art, real estate and technology, we are particularly aware of the role that physical space plays in our ability to take care of ourselves. I have experienced the power of home as a sanctuary for self-care and self-renewal throughout my life. As a child, having my own room was such medicine. My room was a place where I could choose to disengage from the outside world and from other people when I needed to. In my room, I could go inward and reconnect with myself. 

Having that kind of space to yourself, as a child or even as an adult, is undoubtedly a privilege.  But it shouldn’t be. That’s why creating a community where people can come to share space in a way that is equitable and empathetic is so important. By collectively creating more caring ways of finding and sharing space, we can help facilitate more well-being for everyone.

Feature image by Stephanie Diamond

Stephanie is an artist, entrepreneur and Founder / CEO of Listings Project. She creates communities of collective self-care. With over three decades of experience community building, the largest community she has created to date is Listings Project. As a social practice artist, she creates with a community as opposed to an audience. She has exhibited at: MoMA, MASS MoCA, MoMA/P.S. 1, Studio Museum in Harlem, Queens Museum of Art, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Project Row Houses, to name a few. As an educator and leader she has held positions at museums, public art institutions, and schools and universities. Lean more about Stephanie at:

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