Sourcing Change From Within: The Role of Self-Realization in Societal Change

How can social change be catapulted into an irreversible social transformation?
What part might the inner dynamics of self-realization play in that transition?
How could shifting our relationship to pain and reckoning with lingering traumas offer us portals into the alleviation of social unrest?

A Let’s See Labs Production
Featuring: Ashanti Branch, Nicole Skibola, Eldra Jackson III, Jesse Morton, & Aella
Directed by Gareth Gwyn
Edited by Cat Ganson
Shot by The AV Society
Graphics by Cristian Boian

What does liberation mean as a practice in daily life?
These striking individuals explore topics such as trauma, abuse, violence, incarceration, blame, responsibility, victimization, grief, loss, race, self-sacrifice, right/wrong thinking, learning to feel, shame, love, acceptance, vulnerability, connection, community, and much more.

2 min recap:

Re-live the experience in the captured footage:

Part I

Part II

Part III 

“A space for collective vulnerability.”

-Hannah Y.


Eldra Jackson III

Eldra Jackson III is a spiritual warrior who lives a passion of “saving lives one circle at a time.” After living most of his life devoid of emotions and coming face-to-face with the reality of dying behind bars, he came to a point of self-inquiry, seeking answers as to how his life had spiraled into a mass of destruction set upon self and others. From this point, the space was made to save his life.

Today, Jackson works to bring his spiritual medicine into the world while simultaneously guiding others to tap into their own internal salve and help identify wounds. Through his intensive awareness work, he is on a mission to show the world what’s possible as each person does their internal examination to begin the path towards emotional and psychic health. Learn more about him in the documentary, The Work.

“Raw authentic and deep, I want to know more about every single person on this panel.”



Aella spawned as a homeschooler in Idaho, raised as a devout servant to the Lord by evangelical fundamentalist Christians who viewed 'secular culture' as a contamination. Her mother was a submissive housewife and her father, an ordained minister, was violently abusive, and parented with the explicit goal of 'breaking the will' of his children.

After leaving home, losing her faith, and thankfully being too poor for college, Aella had a stint as a factory worker. She eventually escaped into the warm, wet embrace of porn, which she used to fund dives into far away realms. Throughout this, she suffered from nightmares, insecurity, and crippling anger towards her father. This affected both her work, personal life, and daily existence, as her sense of identity was built deeply around this sense of grief and rage.

Though the path through healing was ancient, the catalyst for change was psychedelics. In the mission to understand what it meant to be a victim, Aella eventually faced her deepest pain and learned how to feel, forgive, and let go. How did she discover that forgiving him from the depths of her soul did not mean condoning his abusive behavior? How could she let go of victimized orientations and still be true to her boundaries and values? What does it mean to truly be free? And what does freedom mean in relation to how we engage with others? How and why did psychedelics lead to the perspective required to find peace?

After doing a crypto ICO in Korea, Aella now lives San Francisco, working on producing a deck of her most terrible questions for public consumption. Her hobbies include ballroom dancing, fantasy/scifi and worldbuilding, rationality (of the Lesswrong variety), cartography, circling, traffic intersections, sweating on command, trying to make people eat nootropics, playing the accordion, typing super fast, and drunkenly debating consciousness in dimly lit group houses.

“How nice it was to see experiences of trauma spoken and received all evening without judgment.” -participant

Jesse Morton

Jesse Morton is founder and head of Parallel Networks, an organization combating hate and extremism. He also sits on the board of directors at the Center for the Study of Trauma and Radicalization. Once a prominent radicalizer in the West, Morton co-founded and was chief propagandist of Revolution Muslim, a New York City-based group active in the 2000s, where he helped insert the narrative of Al-Qaeda and Salafi-jihadist ideology into the American ambit.

Jesse now works to address the underlying issues that drive hate, polarization, and extremism by way of public speaking and the development of prevention and intervention programming. This is built upon a parallel network philosophy that promotes a global democratic identity. The approach involves the use of creative pacifism to provide the same sense of meaning and belonging that extremists provide their recruits and an enlightened humanism that stresses the need for a paradigm shift in understandings of both science and consciousness. This incliudes ways that seek to help steer communities and individuals to more productive means of addressing real or perceived grievances and the spiritual crisis that pushes people into self-destructive behaviors.

“One of the most thoughtful gatherings of people from different walks of life, all sharing a similar story of adversity, change, and the continuous process of growth.” -participant

Nicole Skibola

Nicole Skibola is a cancer survivor and artist. After surviving a rare endometrial cancer at a young age, Nicole left her life as a lawyer and consultant and embarked on the path of a creative. Through an open-hearted exploration of deep grief, Nicole found her way to the power of personal storytelling which culminated in her first book, Wakeful Night, published with Dottir Press in the fall of 2018.

Wakeful Night is an illustrated exploration of cancer-related loss she developed to lead readers through their own stages of identity, fear, and metaphorical thinking associated with a cancer diagnosis. Through art -- the book also contains a series of Skibola’s abstract linocut prints and India ink paintings -- and some narrative storytelling, Wakeful Night aims to support readers to understand their experience of cancer and develop a creative practice.

Nicole has worked with the USC Norris Cancer Center, the Brooklyn Cottage, and she speaks and writes about the importance of grief as a passageway for transformation. She is the co-founder of Cosmic View, a medicinal cannabis company with her scientist mother and she is a regular contributor for A Women’s Thing, a print and online magazine based in New York where she writes about entrepreneurship, feminism and finding your path. Nicole is a recent Brooklyn transplant and lives in Bolinas, California, famous for its reclusive, creative residents.

 “It was one of the most honest events I've ever been to.” -participant

Ashanti Branch

Ashanti Branch works to change how young men of color interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. Raised in Oakland by a single mother on welfare, Ashanti left the inner city to study civil engineering at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo. A construction project manager in his first career, his life changed after he tutored struggling students and realized his passion for teaching. In 2004, during Ashanti’s first year teaching high school math, he started The Ever Forward Club to provide support for African American and Latino males who were not achieving to their potential. Since then, Ever Forward has helped all of its more than 150 members graduate from high school, and 93% of them have gone on to attend two- or four-year colleges, military or trade school.
The Ever Forward Club was featured in the documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. After completing a fellowship at the Stanford d.school in 2016, Ashanti, stepped away from working for a school district and began working as the Founding Executive Director for Ever Forward-Siempre Adelante, in an effort to grow the organization to serve thousands of Bay Area students. Ever Forward has reached over 30,000 people through the #100kMasks Challenge which continues to grow around the world.