Who We Are

At all times, Black Dream Escape is intentionally and congenially intergenerational.

Rest Doulas & Creatives

Onika Reigns, Senior Rest Doula & Creative

Onika is a musician, songwriter, historically poor Black, Native Queer licensed therapist, with a Horticulture diploma, concentrating in healing gardens. She identified the need for Black Dream Escape as a labor and abolition activist, organizing in support of basic human rights and connecting those rights to quality of sleep.

Her clinical social work focuses on how trauma affects marginalized communities, and throughout the seven years that she has been a therapist, she recognized that therapy models are not culturally relevant and that oppression has left people mentally exhausted.

She has served as a rest doula in Pittsburgh for five years, educating communities, organizations, and individuals on the importance of Black and Indigenous rest and sleep.

She has also served as an artist-in-residence for Sanctuary Pittsburgh and the There are Black People In The Future artist residency.

Windafire, Rest Doula & Creative

Windafire is a Caribbean, Black Latine, Queer, Gender-Unified individual. As a healing artist and initiated priest in the Lucumi Tradition, he uses his art and music for health and healing. He views his role in the movements for social justice as a model and instructor for wellness, boundaries, and commitment to personal joy.

At 17, he has had ample time to observe the way in which his friends are exhausted by endless assaults on their humanity. He has watched peers become ill from tireless social justice work. In the course of his education, Windafire has done an intensive study of medicinal plants and foraging. He currently makes his own salves, lotions, tinctures and sprays which he has made available to activists. He is currently developing products for Black Dream Escape.

As a home educated person, he has been given the freedom to study marketing, product development and business planning. He feels very fortunate to be empowered to commit to his life works when, and as, he is called.

Christina Springer, Resident Elder & Creative

Christina Springer (She/her) is Black Dream Escape’s Resident Elder. She occupies a queer female soul conveyance device gifted to her by her Caribbean & Black ancestors. She brings over 30 years of experience as both a non-profit arts administrator and as a successful independent artist. Springer helps us with strategic planning, administrative duties, and marketing. Springer has published 4 collections of poetry, released 1 feature film and exhibited her visual work nationally. She also has initiations in African based faiths.

Mission

Black Dream Escape educates, guides, and soothes. Using original music and original meditation scripts, we guide people into a rested state. Our practices soothe the parts of the self that struggle with stillness, boredom, and self-worth. We educate individuals and the wider ethos about the overdue sleep and rest debt that Black and Indigenous people have been forced to accumulate.

We base all of our work on these core principles.

Core Principles

  • Rest Is a healing practice.

  • Black women deserve daily rest.

(Trans women are women)

  • Indigenous people are present tense.

  • We are owed more than the sludge of capitalism.

  • We aspire to Black Mediocrity.

  • Move slow and through trauma.

  • Multi-species relationships are a necessity.

  • We need each other for rest.

  • We encourage communal care.

  • In you, both danger and refuge.

  • Queerness is poetic.

ThoughtPathways

ThoughtPathways reject racist and capitalist notions of ownership and hierarchy as evidenced by a culture in which “self-help” is commodified by “experts” and “gurus.” Ancestral knowledge and/or common sense has been turned into a profitable, easily consumable product. The American self-help market is an estimated 9.9 billion dollars annually.

This phrase, created by Black Dream Escape, makes it clear that we are human beings on our own journey. We celebrate critical thinking and spiritual knowing. We honor process over product.


History

In August 2015, Onika Reigns created therapeutic practice called The Rest Stop, deeming herself a rest doula for Black and Indgenous folks. Onika based the Rest Stop’s beginnings from her experiences as a licensed therapist and out of her creative work as a musician/songwriter.

She started setting up nap tents and sleep art installations throughout the Pittsburgh area, basing the work on three core facts:

(1) Black People get a lower quality of sleep than any other race in the United States.

(2) Due to the many faces of oppression, marginalized communities need to be guided into rest.

(3) At the age of 25, living as a poor Black Queer, most of experiences left her extremely tired.

At first, The Rest Stop, only popped up in parks, art galleries, and public spaces. In 2018, Onika curated an installation “Black Dreamscaping” during First Fridays, and it is at this installation that she met Windafire. They eventually connected after the installation to expand the Rest Stop into Black Dream Escape. Now, Black Dream Escape is a multidisciplinary, intergenerational therapeutic practice with the same original goal, to guide Black and Indigenous people to rest.

August 2015: It's baby Onika when she first went to her mama, and was like, " Mama, I'm so tired and weary, I just want to sleep my whole life, I want other people to do it too"

And her response was, " Let me wrap you up in a chiffon curtain, and throw some weeds in your hair..."

So it's really me in a curtain we found at the dollar store, sitting in Mill Creek park. A lovely memory. The very first rest stop.

September 2018: “Black Dreamscaping” an indoor forest installation during Penn Avenue Art Initiative's "Unblurred: First Friday’s".

September 2018: “Black Dreamscaping” an indoor forest installation during Penn Avenue Art Initiative's "Unblurred: First Friday’s".


July 2018: a warehouse installation "Brick wall: Make A Rest Place Where You Can”