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Soul Tribe Studio Donation Classes

by Bonnie Gill

This month, our weekly donation classes will raise money to support Soul Tribe Studio in Batemans Bay – an area that has been highly affected by the bushfires since November. We think it’s pretty special that an easy Sunday morning flow is also creating a long-lasting impact for a community in need.

Donation classes run every Sunday morning at 213 from 7:30am-8:30am – we recommend at $10 donation.

The lovely team at Soul Tribe Studio has brought to life the Batemans Bay Community Kitchen – they offer free meals, conversation and live music every Saturday. It’s a nice way to get the community together amongst the chaos of the fires.

It’s hard to imagine a world when you are constantly checking alert apps, wondering if you’re safe as the fires get progressively worse. 213 Studio Manager Lucy recently spoke with Clare, owner of Soul Tribe about her first-hand experience with the fires, and the Batemans Bay community.

Thank you so much for your generosity, kindness and love. Your support can be felt here, energetically and now with your donations that will go towards rebuilding the lives of our students, many who have lost homes and all possessions. 

I’m writing this from the studio, watching the healing rain fall. I feel a collective sigh, a letting go, a deep love and respect for our earth and one another,” Clare says.

In mid-November it started with a message from owners of the home Clare and her partner were housesitting, which turned into evacuation prep for the house and animals, as the smoke billowed in the North – and this was just the beginning. 

“Finally, after three long months, homes in Batemans Bay are under control, as well as neighbouring suburbs. But for a while our Batemans Bay community was totally cut off by road in all directions. Fuel started running out. Friends were stuck on roads for days trying to get in and out. The beautiful bush burnt for thousands of kilometres, so many animals losing their homes and a thick haze hanging over the shire, totally obscuring the sky and ocean, turning the world into a dull sepia bubble,” Clare explained.

“When the worst fires hit on New Years Eve, I was in England, ensconced in my childhood home in the pouring rain. As I went to bed I got a message from one of our teachers. ‘I think we need to close the studio. They’re evacuating Catalina’. Catalina, where our main studio is located, is relatively built up, and densely populated for the area. I couldn’t believe it. Catalina was the last place I ever expected the ‘bush’ fire to reach. 

For the next 8 hours I watched the horror scenes unfold. Everyone lost power, phone signal & internet. It didn’t come back for many days. I couldn’t get hold of anyone. I was terrified for my friends, my community, my yoga family, everyone. I saw the sky turn red and then black. I saw thousands of people huddled together on Malua Bay beach, minutes from my house as flames licked the sky. I had no idea if the studio was still there, if our rented home was still standing, if anyone was OK. It was a sickening time. I was flying out the next day, I sat in shock at the busy airport, watching everyone going about their lives like everything was normal, whilst my home burned. The tears wouldn’t stop.

When I got back to Sydney I finally got news from the community. Everyone was safe, but many had lost their homes and businesses. That day there were over 450 homes lost in the sparsely populated Eurobodalla Shire. I was greeted with a flurry of messages from concerned friends and strangers offering money, supplies, time, help, everything. I was overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone, so many people who I’d never met. 

All I wanted, needed, was to get back to my community. As soon as the highway opened we drove straight down. The whole coast from Jervis Bay to Malua and beyond, completely burnt beyond recognition. Trees smouldering, smoke everywhere and the thick smell of burning. I will never forget that smell. 

I arrived back to the studio that was miraculously still standing, even though a spot fire had broken out in the neighbouring bush. I had no way of contacting my students, but I opened the studio that evening and taught a Yin class. I couldn’t stop crying as I saw the devastation on my friends faces, the fear and loss. I had no idea what to do, how to help, but I knew I was where I needed to be. 

I knew the studio needed to stay open regardless of what happened. I opened up the space as a drop in centre for people to use anytime. I stocked up on Butane gas canisters, portable gas stoves, torches, battery packs, food and P2 dust masks. I offered the space for everyone to come, sit, take time on their mat, breathe, share tea by candlelight, hugs and stories. Power came on that evening, and I threw myself into teaching, supporting and doing my best to distribute all the donations we had received. 

I offered (and continue to offer) free memberships for anyone affected by the fires. At least 7 of our regular students lost their homes. Everyone who was here on New Years Eve is moving through huge trauma.

Now the rain has come, the fires are out, but the community will take a long time to heal. There is so much grief, shock, sadness and confusion. Everyone has a story of loss. However there is also great hope. The community has come together. Countless acts of kindness and incredible generosity, people going out of their way, sometimes driving donations down across the country to support this ravaged land.

Here at Soul Tribe we are providing free or by donation yoga classes, weekly meditation circles, Reiki healing, massage and counselling services for all. Many people have lost their livelihoods and are suffering financially as well as emotionally. When the road to Canberra closed in November, it cut off the essential tourist trade during the busiest period of the year that so many families rely on to survive through the winter.  

Your generous donations will go towards rebuilding lives, specifically sourcing school clothes and equipment for children who have lost everything, funding our community projects such as the Batemans Bay Community Kitchen which provides a regular free cooked lunch to the community. The Community Kitchen is tackling social isolation, food waste and judgemental attitudes as well as providing nourishing food and support.

We are so grateful to you all for your kindness. This means so much to Soul Tribe and the Eurobodalla community. Your donations will allow us to continue this long healing process for the benefit of all.

Thank you,

Clare Lovelace and Soul Tribe Studio

Please come down and show your support every Sunday at 7:30am for the month of March! Book online or drop by.