We had the good fortune of connecting with Dawn “Sam” Alden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dawn “Sam”, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Although I sacrifice a lot of security by being my own boss, the payoff in terms of flexibility and being able to set my own priorities is worth it. I can juggle a lot of different projects at once, which keeps my mind entertained and agile. Plus, I don’t have to suffer fools if I decide I’ve had enough nonsense.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Like so many others, the decision to start the 34 Circe Salon – Make Matriarchy Great Again podcast was motivated by the pandemic. Sean and I had just shot our first VR short in the Vortex Dome in downtown LA (check out their programming!) and were planning our next short when the pandemic hit. A few months earlier, we had met with Vicki Noble, who opened the door to a whole community of like-minded people, but in the arena of women’s spirituality and philosophy. When it became clear the lock-down in March of 2020 wasn’t going to be over in two weeks (!) Sean suggested we start talking to others who believed that the principles of matriarchy could be explored in a podcast. We had then and still have no budget whatsoever, and both of us lost work because of the pandemic, so it was something we could do to spread our creative ideas, but working within our means. It was challenging, but the energy we received back, and the grace with which our guests responded, made it clear this was worth doing.
The basic premise of the podcast – Make Matriarchy Great Again – comes from the idea that matriarchy is a much misunderstood concept in popular culture. The prevailing idea is that it would be the reverse of patriarchy, with men being oppressed and marginalized by women. But there has never been such a thing, and I seriously doubt there ever will be! Real, historical, documented matriarchies have common properties, and among those are egalitarian societies where each and every voice is valued. The tend to make decisions by community consensus, with a web structure of social arrangement. Councils of women delegate the oversight of various parts of the society based on proficiency and skill. The practice of gift-giving and sharing resources ensures that no one goes without their needs being met. Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it?
And elements of matriarchy are present in our society already – baby showers, Buy Nothing Groups, rent parties etc are all modern examples of the Gift Economy. Permaculture and recycling are examples of the regenerative principles of a matriarchal society.
Our podcast also explores the history of matriarchal societies in the Paleolithic era through archeological and historical research. We also do quite a few episodes about Amazons, both historical and modern. And we look at the parts of being a woman that our current society tends to shun and silence: miscarriages, menopause, etc: all those “female” things that only get talked about in whispers behind closed doors. We put that out in the open for everyone to hear and discuss!
What started as a way to continue to develop our filmmaking brand when we couldn’t make film has grown into a spiritual journey that has proved incredibly fulfilling!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For the mind, I’d recommend the Natural History Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits. Also Biddy Mason Memorial Park in Downtown Los Angeles to get some history. The indie bookstore The Ripped Bodice in Culver City supports women’s writing, and is beautifully LGBTQ+ inclusive. I would also check if the Women’s Center for Creative Work (WCCW) had a class or workshop running that we could attend. If you want to do some shopping at a women-owned, ethically-made, body-inclusive store, check out Big Bud Press on York Blvd. And check out the latest show at Galvak, a contemporary art gallery with a focus on women and LGBTQIA+ artists. For the body, walking and hiking at any of the parks in the area, particularly Griffith Park (check out the Observatory while you are there!) and Lake Balboa Park in the Sepulveda Basin. Also Stough Canyon, Wildwood Canyon and the Vital Link Trail, since I’m a Valley Girl. When you are hungry, eat at Cutie’s Cafe in east Hollywood, or Cafe Gratitude. For a glass of wine, check out women-founded Ester’s Wine Shop and Bar.
For the soul, we have a number of labyrinths here in the LA area, which you can find through the online Worldwide Labyrinth Locator. The Huntington Library grounds, Descanso Gardens and the Japanese Garden in the Sepulveda basin are places to drink in the beauty of nature.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many shoutouts! First and foremost, my producing parter-in-crime, Sean Marlon Newcombe. Without his MANifesting, the 34 Circe podcast would not exist. Also Vicki Noble, whose generosity of spirit and time and energy have given Sean and me inspiration and blown our minds on more than one occasion! Her depth and wealth of knowledge is awe-inspiring. Next, gratitude to all the guests who have come on the podcast, given us the benefit of their experience, and opened up their hearts to tell their griefs and joys.
For our VR and film work, a thousand thanks to the community of kick-butt actresses and actors who have volunteered their time and talent to start building our creative world. Without them, we’d have nothing.
Other: On Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/34-circe-salon-make-matriarchy-great-again-disrupting/id1515852327 On Podcast Addict: https://podcastaddict.com/podcast/3327633#:~:text=34%20Circe%20Salon%20%2D%2D%20Make%20Matriarchy%20Great%20Again%20%2D%2D%20Disrupting%20History,-By%2034%20Circe&text=Smashing%20the%20falsehood%20and%20omissions,myths%20demolished%20and%20empires%20restored. On Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Podcast/B08K56TTJP On Listen Notes: https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/34-circe-salon-make-matriarchy-great-again-9wQKjiuCt0W/
Headshot by Joshua Sarlo Three Minoan Women Fresco from the Palace of Knossos outside Heraklion on Crete island, Greece