Unity Coalition | Coalicíon Unida — Miami’s Latino LGBT organization working on issues affecting the community through advocacy, community leadership and education — is hosting its eighth annual ELEVATE day of workshops, tools and inspiration on Saturday, May 7 at Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park, 1725 NE 135th St., in North Miami. 

ELEVATE — billed as a “day of being nicer” — includes 30 free workshops, activities, tools and inspirations via an assortment of 45-minute segments, all focused on being nicer to your mind, body, soul, planet and others. 

“The 2022 lineup of topics and events is filled with a day of health, wellness, self-care and lots of fun,” said Herb Sosa, CEO and executive director of UC|CU. “Think of it as a day at summer camp for grown-ups. Everything from perfume-making in the garden, dancing, poetry, jewelry-making, meditation and nutrition.” 

Sosa said attendees can learn about the Tequesta natives that lived on this land, enjoy the horse stables, life coaches and motivational speakers, a health and wellness village, onsite healthcare testing, a crafts pavilion, dance classes, Starbucks breakfast, various food vendors and much more. 

“This year, we are proud to partner with the City of North Miami, Starbucks and more,” Sosa said, “bringing ELEVATE to the Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park — a lush, 22-acre green space along a creek featuring pony rides, nature trails and picnic areas — providing a free event with workshops, activities for the whole family, yummy food and plenty of fun that is easily accessible by public transportation and free onsite parking.” 

Among the highlights at ELEVATE are an all-day green village, equestrian center, petting zoo, horseback riding, yoga, art, vendors, food, community resources and health screenings from Care Resource and Empower U Health. 

ELEVATE begins at 9:30 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m. Saturday. There will be music, dancing and performances by singer and guitarist Mike Michel and the Miami Gay Men’s Chorus. 

In the Crafts Village, learn about native plants, seeds and being a responsible gardener with Corrine Mariposa; learn how to create amulets with copper and shells with Xilef DeCastro; learn the history of perfume-making and how to make your own fragrance with Marco Beria; design your own art and jewelry from found and discarded objects with Emilio Aponte Sierra; and learn about the Lucumí religion with Olosha/Oni Chango Lazarus. 

DeCastro will also offer life advice and lead a beginners’ class in fluid motion fan dancing at 10 a.m. Kishi Martin will lead a beginners’ class in global dancing in the main pavilion at 11 a.m.  

Martin says his global dancing workshop is about moving at your own pace, stretching carefully and correctly and learning proper breathing techniques while “adding your own flavor and sauce and having fun.” 

“I am ready for Saturday to be here already. I’m ready to dance!” Martin said. “I hope you all will be there with me for my global dancing workshop at 11 a.m.” 

Meet freelance journalist Yariel Valdés Gonzalez and listen to author Caridad Moro-Gronlier give tips on writing in the Writers Gazebo on the Lawn. Moro-Gronlier will also read from her latest book of poems entitled “Tortillera;” Terry Dyer will read from his book, “Letters to a Gay Black Boy;” and trans activist, author and reality television personality Rajee Narinesingh will do poetry readings. 

Carlos Anaya Charan Singh leads a discussion on sexual health, love and intimacy at 1 p.m. in the main pavilion.  

Come ready to stretch, sweat and exercise with Tommy Murrell in the 3T Fitness Lifestyle Workout on the Lawn at 3 p.m.  

Latonya Hopson ends the day with a workshop at 4 p.m. on the importance of physical fitness and meditation at any age. 

ELEVATE is open to all communities and averages a demographic of varied races and incomes, including 55 percent men ages 17-65; 30 percent women ages 20-65; and 15 percent transgender and non-binary individuals. 

In 2017, ELEVATE had more than 250 attendees. Organizers and committee members — including Sosa, DeCastro, John Buckley, Melba DeLeon, London Porrazse and George Coronado — expect to substantially increase that number this year with the move to North Miami. 

Courtesy of Miami Gay News.