About

Teacher – Writer – Storyteller –

Kapwa Cultivator

[she :: we]

Kapwa: indigenous Filipino value of “deep interconnection, shared identity, seeing self in others.”   [The “a”s are pronounced like in “awe.” My goal is to help make this word part of the everyday American landscape & lexicon, so I don’t have to define it anymore!]

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IF YOU LIKE LISTS:

+I teach college courses in Composition, Critical Thinking, Literature, and Creative Writing because I want to help people understand and love themselves & each other better.

+I write and publish Poetry, Prose, and Creative Nonfiction because a story tells me the form it wants to show up, and it isn’t always “traditional.”

+I tell stories and engage with others on being Filipina American, AAPI and BIPOC, living with chronic illness, & decolonizing inherited identity and faith because these are essential parts of who I am.

+I design, lead, and collaborate to offer single and ongoing workshops, circles, & sala spaces that respond to our culture’s ongoing, profound needs because a healthier planet for all requires that we be grounded, connected, informed, nourished, healed, inspired and activated.

+I partner with others on humanitarian and social justice projects around our city and planet because my Mama and Papa taught me well to “love my neighbor as myself.”

+I pastor the marginalized among us because I grew up captivated and encouraged by brown, refugee Jesus. Now, I’m trying to co-labor with other wilderness seekers (of all faith journeys) to return to the deeper wells of sustaining and liberating Love.

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IF YOU LIKE PARAGRAPHS:

Ella deCastro Baron is a second generation Filipina American with roots in Pampanga and Cavite, Philippines. She was born on Ohlone territory (Oakland, CA) and raised on Coastal Miwok land (Vallejo, CA). 

She has a BA in English Literature from UC Berkeley, a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from SDSU and is an ordained pastor for Wellspring Collective San Diego. Ella lives and loves with her family on Kumeyaay territory (San Diego, CA) where she teaches English and Creative Writing at San Diego City College and Brandman University. She also bridges and builds community by designing and leading in-person and virtual salas (thematic workshops, creative and embodied writing circles, fundraisers for justice causes).

Some of Ella’s published writing is included in (Her)oics: Women’s Lived Experiences During the Coronavirus Pandemic, The Rumpus, Fiction International, Sunshine Noir, Lavanderia, Mamas and Papas, & City Works Literary Journal. She is co-editor of the anthology, Hunger and Thirst and From Glory to Glory. Itchy, Brown Girl Seeks Employment, a collected text of creative nonfiction, was a finalist for the San Diego Book Awards and is her first book. She’s finishing her next book of creative nonfiction and has started a YA novel.

[OH hey, I’m gonna stop disembodied 3rd person voice now hah]

I’m also a hula dancer and an ordained pastor outside of Church walls & podiums. “Thanks” to the times, I’m an “exvangelical” who’s hiking barefoot into the faith wilderness. I’m looking inward at ways I have been complicit with  “either/or,” “in or out” harm against myself, others, and the world. I’m looking outward, too, to expand past these dualistic lenses and structures. It means becoming more relational with the land, my body, other creations, and systems. As a woman and storyteller of color, it also means decolonizing from the Westernized literary “canon” and Christian nationalism (related, ahem).  

I’m re-indigenizing back to core values of Filipino culture [including how we receive & share our stories] and brown, refugee Jesus. I’m holding out hands and heart for wisdom and energies from co-laborers, elders, our children, and ancestors of “blood, love, and spirit.” This “yes, and” cultural re-making means cultivating kapwa [deep interconnection, shared identity, seeing self in other] with my whole body, mind, spirit, and beyond. I talk-story, weep with & for, dance among, organize, listen, slapstick, LAUGH, dream with, and most earnestly, prayerfully, recover, heal , and co-create together. As you can prob’ly tell by now, my favorite preferred pronoun, more than ever, is WE.

To purchase books with my work, support your local bookstore or CityWorks Press.