Rupa Marya is a composer, physician, professor of medicine, and activist whose work centers around the intersection between health and society, in the potent space of Liberation. She is passionate about multidisciplinary studies, how the expansion of our understanding is enhanced by bringing together fields of vision that appear on cursory look to be distinct from one another.
Rupa studied theater and molecular biology as an undergraduate at UC San Diego where she first became intimately aware of the US-Mexico border and first became inspired by those who cross borders, both figuratively and literally. She has performed her music in over 29 countries and has worked in collaboration with the arts community in SF to develop the MAPP (Mission Arts and Performance Project). At home performing in large festivals and tiny listening rooms, Rupa is most moved by the small art houses around the world where she has performed including the Red Poppy Art House, the Place for Sustainability, EDELO, Enso, Nosotros and others. In these small spaces where artists have the opportunity to encounter each other and people have the opportunity to encounter artists, the possibility of evolution of human culture is palpable in the most inspiring way.
Since she became a mother in 2013, her work has been infused with a deeper sense of purpose, sitting at the edge of a world teetering on the brink of climate crisis, where the coming of age of her children will be met with increasing frequency of catastrophic events. She is currently in the beginnings of writing a book with agro-economist and author Raj Patel on health and society which encompasses planetary and personal perspectives on what ails us and how we can go forward in another way.
What would we hear if we could still hear nonhuman voices? All people can trace their roots to an earth-based culture, before colonization, before extractive economic systems, before industrialization, where we had relationships with those entities that helped keep life moving foward--the foods, the animals, the sun, the medicine, the moon, the water.
I wanted to create a song that would awaken in me my own earth-based ancestry, my own indigeneity, as a woman of South Asian heritage, back to a time before patriarchal systems removed us from the sense of understanding he masculine and feminine as equally powerful and necessary entities that must live in balance and harmony for life to thrive. I imagined what I would hear if I could hear what a dandelion seed would say, as she is germinating under asphalt carrying in her tiny body all the necessary information for entire generations that will move through her, that moment when she is getting ready to break free. This song is an homage to the remarkable resilience of indigenous people around the world who are currently stewarding most the biodiversity of life on our planet. Those people who use sophisticated technologies developed over thousands of years to live and regenerate a robust ecology.
A native plant medicine from Turtle Island, Echinacea Purpurea or Purple Coneflower is known for its strong immune-boosting properties, often working to support the respiratory system when confronted with viral or bacterial illness or to help mitigate the effects of pollution. It is best not used for more than 6-8 weeks at a time and can help ease the transition between seasons and to offer a boost to the immune system during flu season.
To Start These Seeds: Prepare a garden bed that gets full sun in the Spring by laying 2 inches of rich compost over the bed and turning it into the top 8 inches of soil to improve drainage. When the soil temperature is 55 degrees F, sprinkle 3 seeds per inch along the bed. Do no cover because the seeds need lots of light to germinate. Once the seeds sprout, cover the bed with a small layer of soil. Thin the seeds to 2 feet apart when the seedlings are about 3 inches high.
The flowers and leaves can be used for tea in the second year, either fresh in a sun tea or dried for later use. I like the colorful blend of Yerba Buena with Echinacea flowerheads in a big pitcher of water as a summer refeshment. The roots can be harvested for making medicine the third year. Tips on harvesting Echinacea here.