ABOUTCorinna J. Moebius, Ph.D.
Dr. Corinna Moebius (pronounced “maybe-us”) helps people access liberatory, paradigm-shifting and resilience-strengthening ways of thinking and being in the world. An interdisciplinary, independent coach, scholar, consultant, scholar, and mystic, she helps people face change with courage, caring and resilience. A decolonizer of minds, bodies and spirits, she is guided by an ethics of deep caring for Gaia, the Living Earth, and all in her web of life.
Please know that you have been an inspiration to me. You taught me that with a little bit of courage, a little bit of passion, a little bit of vision, and a lot of energy, you can create change in others and yourself. Thank you for all you taught me and all you gave me.
“Where I Come From”
The Forest of My Childhood
As a kid, I spent nearly every afternoon in the forest behind my childhood home, sitting under the boughs of an old oak tree. Like a crocodile’s back, its gnarled roots straddled a narrow stream, serving as a bridge I could walk across. Water flowed around this bridge and slipped playfully down a step before continuing its gentle meandering over smooth stones glittering with mica and quartzite.
One day, I kneeled at the base of the little waterfall underneath the tree root to see if I could spot the elusive, gold-eyed leopard frog, which I revered as a most beautiful creature. To my surprise, I noticed a narrow, muddy passageway extending behind the waterfall: a second, underground stream. Its waters mingled and joined with the waters of the stream that joined it from above.
I did not realize it then, but I lived at a crossroads.
My home was a crossroads at many scales. Behind ur house, to the north, a path sloped down to the stream. Across the street from the front (south) side of our home, a trail led to the top of a mountain. Our house also stood along an east-west road that for centuries had served as a migratory path for animals and as a trail for peoples who had once lived and hunted in this river valley, including the Nonotuck.
In these woods also emerged my belief in eco-spirituality and in the sacredness of the web of life. I had mystic experiences in these woods. During my childhood, I also received messages from strangers–and more-than-humans–that convinced me to take my own meandering life path, always aligning with my ethics. One of these individuals was an elder in the Wolf Clan of the Great Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Nation; we spoke at length after his visit to my high school. Then as now, I recognized spirit in trees, in stones, in frogs. I felt a Calling to cultivate reverence for the sacred, Living Earth.
The metaphor of the crossroads has remained with me my entire life. I am a human bridge and a trickster traveler between worlds. I know what it is like to belong everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I help others discover that worlds were never separate in the first place (we just believe them to be so). I love to bring back together that which has been separated, and I have journeyed into realms that others fear, gaining courage and resilience.
What’s In a Name?
Even my name evokes this spirit. My first name Corinna comes from Kore, the Greek goddess who travels to the Underworld every year so she can bring Spring back to earth. My last name, Moebius, coincides with the Moebius strip, a famous mathematical figure (“invented” by my great great uncle). It looks like it has two sides but really has just one; you may recognize it as the symbol of recycling.
No Single Stories: Learning From My Father
My father, a musician, professor and scholar of myth, folktales and children’s picture books, introduced me at a young age to the world of myths, symbols, codes and archetypes. He taught me to value oral and not just print storytelling traditions, and to learn myths and stories from all over the world (including those of immigrants and diasporas) instead of settling with “single stories.”
At age 10, my father took our family camping across Western Europe during his sabbatical. I listened and learned from locals in every place we visited, eager to understand all I could about my fellow humans and their cultural experiences and histories. When our youth orchestra toured Eastern Europe some years later, I earned the nickname “Tour Cultural Ambassador” thanks to my in-depth conversations with strangers.
Ecology and Empathy: Learning from My Mother and Other Teachers
My mother, an organic gardener and musician, nurtured my love of the natural world through her deep empathic connection with plants. Complementing her teaching and examples was the knowledge I gained from the dedicated Earth advocates who taught ecology at my high school.
In particular, I remember the three-week, all-day environmental education program I applied to and participated in as an 8th grader, in 1980 or so. We learned where the water we drank came from. We learned the history of the mountain valley we lived in. We learned how to think about interdependent relationships, ecosystems, bioregions. Our teachers also awakened us to the dangers of plastic waste and pollution.
My mother is also empathetic towards humans, regardless of differences in race, social class, etc. Through her example, I learned how to strike up conversations with strangers, how to speak out with courage as an ally, and how to engage in activism for a more just and regenerative world.
Back home, a high school class in “African American Literature” sparked my desire to learn about the histories and experiences of people of color. In the years that followed, I was a voracious reader of autobiographies, fiction, non-fiction and poetry by Black, Latinx, and Native American authors in particular. By my early twenties, my circle of friends had become very racially diverse; my social network became even more richly diverse in the years that followed. The personal stories and experiences shared by my friends would have a profound impact on me.
Lessons from Ancestors
I also recognize how my values are shaped by my grandparents. I was closest with my Grandmama, my mother’s mother, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University (and the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in that department). A lifelong Southerner, she conducted a study and wrote a book (published in the early 1960s!) about the impacts of desegregation on the racial attitudes of residents in a recently integrated senior center in Nashville.
My mother’s father was an attorney know for defending poor and unjustly treated clients. My father’s father was the president of the Moebius Printing Company in Milwaukee (logo above right); he strongly believed in interacting with, learning from and valuing the work of every single employee.
I’ll never forget when my father’s mother, at age 100, looked me straight in the eye and said that “racism is not permitted in our family.”
She told me that her mother–then a widow–turned her farm into a secret safe haven for Black Americans fleeing to Canada. She provided food and shelter to families before they whisked away on the next leg of their journey. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 criminalized all U.S. citizens who refused to help return any escaping enslaved people to their enslavers in the South.
Her farm was part of Wisconsin’s Underground Railroad.
Eco-Awareness & Regenerative Systems
My attachment to nature and my knowledge about bioregions and eco-systems developed early in life.
After participating in an innovative and immersive environmental education program in 8th grade, I became attentive to ripple effects, systems and relationships that link social and ecological realms. In the years that followed, I pursued an interdisciplinary education (even my Ph.D. is interdisciplinary!).
I’ve deepened my knowledge of regenerative processes with training and certification in permaculture and active involvement with TheoryU and the Baltimore hub of a global accelerator for eco-systems change: the Presencing Institute’s ulab 1x and 2x.
Changemaking & Placemaking
For thirty years, I’ve worked across sectors as a changemaker and innovator in communities and cities, specializing in civic engagement, dialogue, equity, and inclusive participation in decisions related to land, place and public space.
Participants in the diverse small- and large-scale gatherings I’ve designed, facilitated and produced express collective joy and a sense of the possible, even while confronting serious issues. They recognize the gifts and talents they can mobilize to build and strengthen individual and collective resilience and solidarity. I’ve stimulated this same spirit of collaboration with my ongoing work and leadership in local economic development.
Participatory & Cultural Arts / Arts & Civic Engagement
Core to the events I’ve produced are participatory arts activities, included in the events I’ve produced thanks to my background as an artist, musician and dancer and my expertise in arts and civic engagement. I realized years ago that arts and movement-based activities open up new ways of thinking about self, people, planet and possibility.
Embodied, Sacred & Magical Wisdom
My way of understanding the world shifted dramatically during my 15 years of training in sacred Afro-Cuban dance and after my initiation as a priest of a Black Atlantic (Afro-Cuban) metaphysical religion. I no longer practice the religion, but it helped me “learned how to learn” through my bodily interactions with the natural world, song and dance, ritual and storytelling. I now “see” with all my senses, deeply and profoundly.
Developed as a “religion of resistance” among enslaved and colonized peoples, Black Atlantic philosophies and metaphysical practices inspired me to think of certain archetypes as embodied memories of resilient and liberating people — and liberating capacities of the self. These archetypes embody skills and wisdom for surviving, creating and working collaboratively even under the most dangerous and threatening of circumstances.
Currently, I practice and am initiated in the eco-spiritual practice of modern Druidry, which is grounded in an ethics of caring for Gaia.
Walking & Outdoor Experiences / Social Sciences
While living in Miami, I began teaching people how to recognize and learn from the physical manifestations of liberatory archetypes I’d learned about, especially during field trips and walking tours I designed and led in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood and in Cuba. I helped people see patterns, relationships, symbols and acts of meaning making that they had not noticed before. I also shared silenced stories often ignored in mainstream narratives about people and place.
During these walking experiences, I also drew upon knowledge I’ve gained as an interdisciplinary social scientist (cultural anthropologist, geographer and sociologist); my research investigates histories of race-making, place-making and creative resilience in and between the U.S. and Cuba.
While leading more than a hundred participatory, interactive trips and tours, I witnessed time and time again the spark of excitement and awareness when participants heightened their multi-sensory attentiveness to the natural and built environment. They were deepening knowledge about how social divides are constructed, naturalized … and subverted.
They were also sensing their own agency as changemakers and deepening their feelings of interrelatedness with nature and each other. I was decolonizing minds, bodies, spirits …
I draw on my knowledge and experiences in the questions I ask and tools I share in my coaching process and in workshops, courses and experiences. If you’re interested in details about my life and career, please see my LinkedIn profile.
My Values & Beliefs
When we dismantle the social divides said to separate us from others — human and more-than-human, we begin to restore an ethics of caring. By recognizing our interconnectedness, we revive our capacity to sustain ourselves and the sacred, Living Earth.
Inlakech: "You Are My Other Me"
Chicano activist Javier Gomez taught me an ancient Mayan philosophy called Inlakech: “You are my other me. What I do to you, I do to myself.” In ordinary and everyday actions and interactions, I always consider ripple effects: how to nourish rather than extract from people, place and planet.
Sacred Action: People Care, Earth Care & Fair Share
I believe in what Arch-Druid Dana O’Driscoll describes as “Sacred Action.” I further sacred connections with the land by weaving together my Earth-centered spiritual practices with Earth-sustaining and regenerative living practices.
My body is the material that allows me to make an impact on the world. I feel it as a portal that receives spiritual and Living Earth wisdom and then emanates it in my own unique way.
Iwa Pele: "Good Character"
Iwa Pele is a Yoruba concept. It means living harmoniously in the Universe and not damaging those around us, the Living Earth, or the Universe in which we live. A person with Iwa Pele is someone who is kind, community-oriented, collaborative, patient, helpful to others, and balanced. I am always seeking ways to apply my gifts and talents to bettering our world.
Ph.D. Global & Sociocultural Studies
Interdisciplinary Ph.D.: Cultural anthropology, cultural geography, sociology
Winner of the Alex Stepick Award for Outstanding Dissertation
- Afro-Latin American Studies
- African & African & African Diaspora Studies
Florida International University, 2019
M.A. Global & Sociocultural Studies
Florida International University, Miami, 2015
M.A. Speech Communication
Interdisciplinary degree: Performance Studies, Organizational Communication, Intercultural Communication, Cultural Studies
California State University, Northridge, 1995
Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration
Self-designed major in Communications and Anthropology, Minor: Geography.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1985.
Fellowships, Certifications & Awards
- Alex Stepick Award for Outstanding Dissertation, Florida International University (2020)
- Little Havana Community Champion (Calle Ocho News)
- Spirit of Educational Equity Award, California State University, Northridge, 1995
- Martha Beck Wayfinder Life Coaching (expected 2022)
- Environmental Education Outcomes, Cornell University (2021)
- Permaculture Design, The Permaculture Guild (Grow Permaculture), 2008
- Arts Management, Creative Assets: Summer Institute for Arts Management, Arts Extension Service at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2005
- Visionary Leadership for Women, Center for Visionary Leadership, 1999
Dissertation Year Fellowship, University Graduate School, Florida International University, 2018
- Goizueta Graduate Fellow, Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami, 2017
- Graduate Fellow, Latino Museum Studies Program, Smithsonian Latino Center, 2014
A select list …
- 2M Center/East of the River Technology Collaborative
- ARCH Institute (Access to Racial & Cultural Health)
- Black Visitors Council of Miami
(now the Multicultural Heritage Tourism division of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau)
- Broward Arts Council
- District Department of Transportation
- Community Technology Centers Network
- DC Office of Planning
- The Forum for Intercultural Communication/Global Woman
- Gateway Community Development Foundation
- Humanities Council of Washington, DC
- IFE-ILE Afro-Cuban Dance & Music
- Inhabit Earth (formerly Earth Learning)
- Morino Institute
- Multicultural Community Services
- San Diego Girl’s Alliance/EnviroFest at Chollas Park
- Smithsonian Center for Education & Museum Studies
- Sol y Soul: Arts for Social Change
- Step Afrika!
- U.S. Department of Justice