Take 5 with ... Marta Stoces from Mama Gathering
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from, and what about Poland makes it special and makes you stay?
I'm a 35-year-old woman who changed her professional course after having a baby - moving from an artistic (set - costume design / video / art & event management) background I've naturally, following opportunities that came at that time, started to become more involved in organising and creating events & space focused on self- development, women empowerment, motherhood and supporting sexual education.
I come from and live in Poland, in one of the biggest cities – Wrocław. I decided to stay (for now:)) mainly because of the 'root calling' that started while I was pregnant.
Now, it's important for me, and my daughter to be close to her family. She's very close to her grandparents, and I think it makes her childhood more secure and helps her grow strong roots.
Anyway – I used to travel a lot, also spent a year of scholarship in London (CSM College of Fashion & Design and London College of Fashion) that made me doubt if I wanted to go back home... But I think that there must be some reason that I feel I have something to do here in Poland while dealing with topics that we, as a society, still struggle: women reproductive rights, sex ed, minorities rights. Poland is very Catholic, which creates a difficult ground for, even, artistic work to be free of dogma.
Lately, we had this loud situation with works of Natalia LL eating a banana being banned from a museum, or a feminist activist being arrested for creating an image of Saint Mary with a rainbow halo … We have girls protesting in black marches to defend their rights for legal abortion. There is a lot going on and I believe that somehow it also is a reason that makes me want to stay and support the change. Also, Poland is simply a very beautiful country, and I feel connected with nature and landscapes we can find here.
At this moment I am almost totally engaged in producing one big event during the year – MAMA Gathering festival.
After my totally magical homebirth experience, I felt so much gratitude towards women circles that guided me during pregnancy and good energy to share the positive birth attitude that, for some time, issues regarding pregnancy, motherhood and attachment parenting became dominant in my work. I also believe that is where the idea of MAMA Gathering the festival – a common space to grow, relax, share and raise consciousness for women - was conceived.
I had this idea, of a space in time, for every woman – even if she is currently involved in early motherhood experience – to come back to her own centre. Feel grounded, connected, have some time for herself at first place, get the emotional support and charge her batteries. Also to get education from the specialist and learn from the experience of other women. It was obviously a kind of 'festival', though we decided to call it the Gathering, which felt much more accurate. We gather those who support and those who need support. MAMA Gathering is also an online community, as we try to communicate a certain attitude based on mutual respect, willingness to grow, heal and educate, tolerance and peace and love simply.
2. What's important to you, and how do these values affect your professional choices?
I guess just as said above: respect, tolerance, raising consciousness, peace and love and women empowerment.
And even before I started to work in a more 'holistic' environment, I think that where the issues (especially love ;) ) that came to the front in most of the projects I was involved in. The medium was different but my aim was always to make people feel uplifted, inspired and empowered in the end.
Now, thinking about the work that I do and future plans – I don't want to waste time:) Using the abilities that I have, I want to add the most I can to support the idea of world peace and raising the collective consciousness. To show that it's really better to love than make war! My personal favourite is the subject of sexual education and promoting 'love', which I strongly feel like a great weapon against all the bad things happening on our planet.
Also, lately the ecological issues are very important. I'm a mom, and want my kid and her friends to have a future!
3. Tell us about Mama Gathering, its mission and vision - how and why did it start?
What I really need to add to what's already been said about MAMA Gathering is that having this idea I spontaneously invited 2 friends of mine – also moms of small kids, that I somehow felt connected with this idea.
Alicja Koszutska, who is responsible for our visual identity, our website, and also the conscious food part, and Kasia Dobrowolska who became responsible for the MAMAmarket and our customers' service - together with me actually are the core of MAMA Gathering and MAMA G Foundation, and are responsible for its 'spirit'.
And having a lot of little kids with us, we managed to produce the first edition without any financial support, and no 'extra' team members, besides our partners and a couple of friends on the last part of building the festival village and running the festival.
This year we have more help, but still, it's an event created without any funding or sponsorship, so there is a lot of work we just do by ourselves to make it happen.
This year, I think mainly because of what is happening around the world, we decided to focus more on global issues so we have this „FOR PEACE!" theme. Still practically, the work that is done is mainly raising individual abilities to be more in peace with oneself.
We know that peace starts in the heart of each and every one of us.
And this is the spark we want to support.
We finally decided to call MAMA Gathering a 'holistic festival' – meaning that it's not a simple amusement like a music festival. MAMA is an experience – very complex one – that allows you to take care of yourself on many levels, simultaneously sharing the field with many other likeminded people.
You can learn, you can practice, you can take care of your body, mind & soul, you can try to heal things, share experience and also just let yourself to be, breathe and let your soul fly.
4. Tell us more about the 2019 edition - what's new, what projects are you particularly curious about?
Besides this 'FOR PEACE' part of our programme, I am very glad to introduce 'LOVE.REVOLUTION" - block of activities focused on sexuality: sex, relationships, communication, self-care, sex-ed, femininity, spirituality, love. We have an amazing group of facilitators in these areas here. Also, we decided to add some more social issues – ethical fashion or activism.
The new thing is this year we will watch movies – very special ones. We will watch These are my hours a document on homebirth, True Cost on the dark side of fast fashion. Two amazing bio – documentaries M.I.A Matangi and Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist that obviously show empowered women on a mission. We'll also have to more fairy-like girl power tales I'm not a witch and Jeannette. Last but not least, The childhood of Joan of Arc will show the dangers hidden in fanatism, bravery and power kids have.
5. Who are your personal heroes? Why?
Well, maybe not a hero but idol for sure, would be Vivienne Westwood, whom I totally love for her straightforward attitude, power and urge to change the world using the tools that she has. I think I actually have more 'idol' figures – like Lama Tsultrim Allione, who I would call a Buddhist feminist, or the Dalai Lama himself – also for being a feminist :) A hero is for me, someone who kind of sacrifices or makes a great effort to achieve some things. Lately, hearing really a lot of different stories from around the world I often think that Women take heroic actions so often during their lives. Giving birth can be a heroic act. Raising little humans, especially in non-supporting or dangerous environment is heroic.
On the other hand – all minorities fighting for their rights to simply love and live are heroic. Joan D'arc – a girl from one of the movies will be showing during the festival used to be a heroine. But at what cost and for what kind of reasons this girl had to go on her mission? And die? Nowadays, we call Greta Thunberg a climate heroine. And of course, she is! She is a brave little girl, wise and truly determined to save the world. Still, I feel like it's not fair, that a child has to go on a mission like this. Actually, I think, that in the perfect world – we simply need no heroes... as long as we need someone to fight for our rights, future or safety we still have a lot to improve.
That's why I believe in peaceful revolution and the power of circles expanding the range of change - like circles on water.