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Joshua Hale, 38, is an idealist and an active member of a new, expanding Bellingham community vibe. He works on shaping a new life for himself and his network through the Identity Movement which he Co-founded a year ago.
(Right) Joshua Hale, 38, of Bellingham, starts playing for the Downtown Bellingham Partnership at the Commercial Street Night Market as DJ-Tru-Ah on May 18, 2018. Hale used to play “face-melting dubstep” in the Seattle underground music scene before he got clean about five years ago and started working toward his and his wife’s dreams.
(Below) Joshua Hale, 38, of Bellingham, starts playing for the Downtown Bellingham Partnership at the Commercial Street Night Market as DJ-Tru-Ah on May 18, 2018. Hale used to play “face-melting dubstep” in the Seattle underground music scene before he got clean about five years ago and started working toward his and his wife’s dreams.

“The Identity Movement is a large project with the goal to foster connection in this disconnected world,’ Hale says.

“It’s a utopian vision to live in a world without the need for money. And we’re up against a mindset.”

The mindset he wants to promote is not so purely capitalistic. He wants members of the community to be able to pitch in what they can through their natural skills and talents, teaching and helping community members in need, and get a lot back, he says. Skill-shares and mutual aid groups are central to the movement.

(Left) Joshua plays for the crowd at the Bellingham Commercial Street Night Market as DJ Tru-Ah on May 18, 2018. “To be able to affect the general public is great; I know I’m doing a good job when I get some heads nodding and feet tapping,” Hale said.
(Above) Joshua plays for the crowd at the Bellingham Commercial Street Night Market as DJ Tru-Ah on May 18, 2018. “To be able to affect the general public is great; I know I’m doing a good job when I get some heads nodding and feet tapping,” Hale said.

He turned a page in his life half a decade ago, after leaving the underground DJ scene and hard drugs and as he began to practice yoga and meditation with his wife, Laura.

“I noticed this pattern of thinking, ‘I’d have to give all this up since getting clean,” Hale says, “thinking I had to turn my back on my past, but I’ve been learning to incorporate it into my life in a cleaner fashion.”

(Right) Standing, Joshua Hale, 38, DJs for Summer Huntington, 32 (instructing at the back), during a free rhythmic yoga class in the new Flow Shala space on Astor Street for its grand opening on June 3, 2018. Huntington and Hale are going to be working together at the first annual Flow State Summit at the Bellingham Lookout Arts Quarry on the weekend of July 27 which she is an organizer of.

(Below) Standing, Joshua Hale, 38, DJs for Summer Huntington, 32 (instructing at the back), during a free rhythmic yoga class in the new Flow Shala space on Astor Street for its grand opening on June 3, 2018. Huntington and Hale are going to be working together at the first annual Flow State Summit at the Bellingham Lookout Arts Quarry on the weekend of July 27 which she is an organizer of.

Joshua Hale, 38, and Andy Walton, 33 (right), install wiggle-wire into the channel-lock system on May 19, 2018, for the greenhouse for which Walton got a USDA grant aimed at extending farmers’ seasons. Hale wants people in the community to be able to rely on each other and sets up volunteer opportunities.

From left, Whatcom County residents Alex Brazeau, 30, Andy Walton, 33, and Joshua Hale, 38, work together to adjust the plastic membrane on a new greenhouse Walton is building on his farm on a windless afternoon, May 19, 2018. Walton pays the help with the pizza he makes from scratch and intends to use the greenhouse to grow pizza toppings earlier in the spring and later in the fall for his business run out of Vinastrology in Bellingham.

Joshua Hale, 38, facing the camera near the door, gives guests of a Non-Violent Communication game night a tour of his in-progress compact home on May 29, 2018. The building is designed with a relatively small footprint, photovoltaic cells on the roof and is on a piece of property north of Bellingham which Hale co-owns with his in-laws and his wife, Laura.

At the beginning of 2018, Joshua and Laura Hale welcomed their daughter Arayah into the world and have been busy taking care of her while trying to keep up with their work. Josh Hale does online marketing under the company name JH Social Media and is partnered with ClickMonster as well.

He primarily DJs as DJ Tru-Ah for 3 OMS Yoga and for Summer Huntington, 32, who teaches clubbell-style yoga in various settings in Bellingham. Hale also does side gigs for the Bellingham Downtown Partnership, playing for the Night Market on Commercial Street, which he got connected with through his wife who, when not very busy with their child would sell her line of braided clothing, such as yoga pants, there.

Hale also DJs and works with Joy State Events which will have a central presence at the upcoming first annual Flow State Summit in Bellingham on the weekend of July 27, which Huntington is also working with. It promotes community, intrapersonal skills, movement workshops, and music.

“They set up intentional gatherings, with no alcohol,” Hale says. He says these family friendly dance events foster community and celebration.

“Instead, for example, they’ll do a cacao ceremony and I’ll usually play from about 7 to 10 p.m.”

Hale says his friend Minta Allred, a yoga instructor with 3 OMS who does Embody Love Movement female body image exercises for Joy State Events which is just one example of how they promote conscious body awareness.

(Right) Joshua Hale, 38, and Kara Shepard-Poat, 30, who co-founded the Identity movement listen to Tori Hoffman, 28, talk about slant in the media at an Identity Movement skill-share at the Alternative Library on May 24, 2018. Hoffman is the brand manager for the Identity movement.

(Below) Joshua Hale, 38, and Kara Shepard-Poat, 30, who co-founded the Identity movement listen to Tori Hoffman, 28, talk about slant in the media at an Identity Movement skill-share at the Alternative Library on May 24, 2018. Hoffman is the brand manager for the Identity movement.

(Above) Joshua Hale, 38, thinks of his answer to a Get Vulnerable card during a game of “Vulnerability is Sexy” at a Nonviolent Communication (NVC) game night at Rook and Rogue, Bellingham, May 22, 2018. NVC game nights feature games like “Vulnerability is Sexy” and “Grok” which promote connection, openness, and understanding as a way to build community.

An important aspect of what the Identity Movement seeks to do is to foster human connection through better communication.

“Feelings are the scent and needs are the flower,” Hale says. Non-Violent Communication is a key factor in the success of the sense of community he envisions for the Identity Movement. It’s a tool which he says helps people get across what they really need and understand others’ needs when they aren’t used to expressing them directly, rather saying something else.

(Left) Joshua Hale, 38, thinks of his answer to a Get Vulnerable card during a game of “Vulnerability is Sexy” at a Nonviolent Communication (NVC) game night at Rook and Rogue, Bellingham, May 22, 2018. NVC game nights feature games like “Vulnerability is Sexy” and “Grok” which promote connection, openness, and understanding as a way to build community.

NVC game nights and workshops bring people together, playing games like “Grok” & “Vulnerability is Sexy,” to allow for people to lower their barriers. Grok was designed by certified Center for Nonviolent Communication trainers. Workshops focus on discussing material by Marshall B. Rosenberg, the late psychologist who founded the Center for Nonviolent Communication. Learn more at NVC Whatcom.

Alan Seid of Cascadia Workshops, a local, certified NVC trainer will be giving an introduction to the subject on June 14 at the Alternative Library.

(Right) Whatcom County residents Andreas Weinrich, 49, in the gray sweater, figuratively throws his name, chosen from a card on the coffee table, to Rachel Smith, 38, as part of a game called “Soundball” at a Non-Violent Communication game night at Joshua and Laura Hale’s parents’ house on May 29, 2018. The core purpose of the game is to get people to focus on the present moment as they get into the groove of catching the name thrown at them and then launching their own name at a person chosen randomly.

(Below) Whatcom County residents Andreas Weinrich, 49, in the gray sweater, figuratively throws his name, chosen from a card on the coffee table, to Rachel Smith, 38, as part of a game called “Soundball” at a Non-Violent Communication game night at Joshua and Laura Hale’s parents’ house on May 29, 2018. The core purpose of the game is to get people to focus on the present moment as they get into the groove of catching the name thrown at them and then launching their own name at a person chosen randomly.

Joshua Hale, 38, pictured near Western Washington University on Bill McDonald Parkway, just got done with a birthday dinner with his first daughter Micaela Lieseke, 20, who is a student who lives near the college on June 4, 2018. Hale is an active member of the Bellingham community and works on shaping a new life for himself with his growing network through the Identity Movement.

Joshua Hale, 38, pictured near Western Washington University on Bill McDonald Parkway, just got done with a birthday dinner with his first daughter Micaela Lieseke, 20, who is a student who lives near the college on June 4, 2018. Hale is an active member of the Bellingham community and works on shaping a new life for himself with his growing network through the Identity Movement.

Hale says a hundred years ago, a third of the population participated in mutual-aid groups until public welfare in the 30s dissolved the practice. The Identity Movement seeks to re-establish trust among an ever-expanding network of neighbors with a contributions model.

“You’re contributing a little and getting a lot back,” Hale says. “For example, a landowner keeps a third of a garden and the surplus from that is for the community, it’s a way to put things in our own hands.”

Hale finally moved to a new piece of property north of Bellingham which he co-owns with his in-laws, Tom Derrer and Lisa Derrer, and his wife, Laura, which they want to use as a model for the Identity Movement community. Once he and his wife move into their new compact home, they plan to host “Mutual Aid” events, raise a barn and expand the farm to become more self-sufficient.

Hale wants the skill-shares to continue growing in scope. For example, on May 24, founding members of the Identity Community gave a talk on recognizing distortion in the news, educating attendees on spotting red flags and media manipulations.

Hale says he wants to bring people together, across party lines. He doesn’t expect everyone to be into it, but he only sees things getting better and more positive.

Geovanni Roverso
Geovanni Roverso