Creating the Female Sangha
By Sabrina Moscola
“There are many new offline ways for women to find their Sangha. Quilt, a community for women offering Chats, Co-working sessions and LearnShops, started in California, and expanded to New York City late last year. Quilt offers space for women to feel a sense of togetherness. I spoke with Annaliese Godderz, yoga teacher and NY Quilt community lead, about the intimacy of inviting strangers into your home, lifting each other up, and of course, Sangha.”
What does Sangha mean to you?
Sangha means community, we can’t live without it. This feeling of belonging is essential to our general well being and overall happiness. What happens when we gather is a positive impact that permeates even further than the physical gathering itself.
How did you get involved with Quilt?
When Quilt was thinking about expanding, they interviewed me as one of the many female entrepreneurs they spoke with to gauge interest here. I was very intrigued by the concept, I knew Quilt was something we needed on the East Coast — we couldn’t ignore all the women who wrote in craving this sense of community. After I experienced my first Chat, I was moved to tears in reflection — how incredible to be in a space with women of all ages and backgrounds speaking to the same issues and relating on an even playing field.
Why do you think creating community among women is so essential? And why now?
We’re in the fourth wave of feminism, there are more entrepreneurs than ever and we are all craving community. This is something we got a lot of growing up thanks to school, sports and other hobbies, but as we grow older it is increasingly difficult to find like-minded individuals, let alone groups of women. Quilt isn’t a workspace, it isn’t a networking event, it isn’t a support group…it’s all of that and more. The raw honesty and collective strength that emerges from every gathering is palpable. I feel a shift within myself constantly being around incredible women. For the first time we have a space to speak our minds without consequence, without worrying who might overhear, without shying away for fear of alienation. The more that we uncover together, the better we become.
Quilt has created a community and a format that is simple and pure to empower women to create safe and kind environments to host open and honest conversations. All Chats are focused on the same theme of the month with the same discussion guides. And then across all cities we are connected online through our Membership Directory and Facebook Group.
What would you say to women who feel hesitant about going to a stranger’s home for coffee, or to those hesitant about having strangers in their home?
I get it! I felt exactly the same. It’s a strange thing we’re doing, in the digital age where so many of our daily interactions are online, at Quilt we’re bringing women together offline. And not in the sense that we’re accustomed to, especially in NYC. We’re used to being out in public, spending money on drinks and relying on alcohol to loosen up the atmosphere and make us more comfortable talking to strangers.
Women weren’t socialized this way. Traditionally, we convened in the home, coming together to break for tea in the afternoon. We’re harkening back to the days when we knew our neighbors and opened up our homes. It’s remarkable what happens when you get a group of women together in a home with their shoes off—instant intimacy. Plus, these aren’t just randos off the street. Ultimately, every host has the power to confirm each booking before a woman comes into her home.
How do you think Quilt helps shift the paradigm to one where women lift each other up?
As a company, we have to walk the talk and lift each other up just as much as we do within gatherings. As someone who has almost always worked in female-dominated workplaces where women were constantly putting one another down, I know that my quality of work suffered.
At Quilt we have guidelines that remind women how to treat one another with kindness. I love what our founder, Gianna Wurzl, posted a couple months ago: “Always act kinder than you feel.” We encourage acceptance of all differences of opinion and backgrounds alike, we hold space for women to tell their stories and, just like anything, good habits are acquired through practice. After going to a few Quilt gatherings you can feel the collective shift within yourself and how it’s reflected back through others. And, of course, we bring that back out into the world and little by little we grow kinder. We know that when a woman is mistreating another it is out of fear, usually of being replaced or outdone. But we also know that this fear can be squashed when we realize that we are better together.
Tell me about the benefits of Co-working events and how you select the experts to present at the LearnShops?
As someone who lives at coffee shops when I’m not teaching yoga or at a Quilt gathering, I love the ability to invite women into my home and work together. Creativity is fed by diversity. When you’re in a room with women who are working on drastically different things it is inspiring to hear about how they prioritize their goals—it helps refine the way you work too.
The cool thing about Quilt Co-working is the connection. Just like in a Chat, there is a sense of intimate community. With most co-working spaces, you’ll be in the same room with people and never talk, with Quilt Co-working each woman tells the group what she is working on that day and we hold each other accountable to accomplishing our tasks. So even though we’re working on different things, we’re all in it together.
Our LearnShop experts are usually an active part of our community, craving a different setting from their traditional classroom (co-working conference room, online videos etc). The quality of our teachers is important to us so we spend ample time getting to know them and what they want to offer. We’ve had everything from Mental Health and Building Your Business to Meditative Watercoloring. We match the expert with the theme of the month and she makes a profit from her teachings.
What’s been your biggest learning from joining Quilt and interacting with other professional females?
Each one of us shares very similar fears, and no matter what her experience, we all have deep wisdom to offer one another.
To learn more visit: wequilt.com