THE FOUNDING CREATIVE FORCE OF HIP N ZEN NORTHEND
Peaceful, poetic, powerful, poised, purposeful, and prayerful are the defining words to describe Reshounn Foster. Her story of tenacity and her ability to remain positive during life’s most challenging moments display her character of strength. She is dedicated to offering her support and guidance to lead others to a place of solitude and serenity. In a society filled with rage, depression, stress, and chaos, Reshounn was able to discover a world within the city of Detroit where you can escape the madness. Reshounn is the creative founding force of Hip N Zen Northend.
Intuitive Consultant and Wordsmith are a few roles I play in my LifeWork. My “clients” and I have a professional, familial relationship. We challenge each other to grow and support each other during every life stage and shift.
Reshounn was born and raised in the richly nicknamed city of Detroit. However, she has resided in various communities including Ferndale and Farmington; but her current residency is in a thriving community in Detroit known as the North End. Some of the terms she uses to describe herself are Strategic Organizer, Creative Professional and Butterfly, Wordsmith, and Arts Administrator. Reshounn’s mother, whom she illustrates as an intuitive and astute individual, influenced her as well as did other strong women in her family. Her rich family lineage shaped her caring demeanor and longing to help others find their purpose. She told me, “I come from a family of business people, business developers, community servants, community leaders. I’m a progeny of coal miners, caregivers, and a preacher’s wife. I did my research and I’m like wow there’s a trend here.”
As she spoke, she chose each word delicately with authority and compassion. During the interview, she informed me that she studies anthroponymy. She stated, “Anthroponymy is the study of the history of names, specifically birth names, nicknames and family names. And so, I studied it so much that I went and reviewed what my name was, and I’ve been practicing it, researching it on and on and on. So that’s a whole separate story. One of the projects that I have is called the naME Project and I capitalize “me” in the word name.” She proceeded to inform me about the history of her name. In the name Reshounn, you can find the word “sun,” which is a nickname given to her. Resh, the first four letters of her name, means rabbi in Hebrew. She explained this means Intuitive Counselor. According to Reshounn, her last name Foster… “refers to hospitality, nurturer, foster, assisting, guiding, supporting, and nurturing others. So, as an Intuitive Consultant, I foster people’s ideas, creativity, also their life purpose. I also inspire love, warmth, joy, and prosperity.” After meeting Reshounn, you would agree her name was composed specifically for her.
THE ROAD OF DISTRESS AND DEFEAT THAT LED TO FINDING PEACE IN THE NORTH END
Reshounn graduated from Wayne State University in 2004 with a degree in English. However, the job titles she held in life didn’t always coincide with her major. Before discovering Hip N Zen Northend, she held various positions for different companies and organizations. She was an advertising copywriter for Don Coleman Advertising; which became Global Hue. She accepted the position in 1996 but didn’t have a clue what the job entailed until two weeks prior to her hire date. Reshounn utilized her love for poetry to gain her first job assignment, which was writing taglines for Dark and Lovely. She worked as a Communications Specialist/Writer for a health insurance company in the Members Communications Department. Also, for six years she was an HIV prevention community educator and advocate, an assignment that led her to wanting to become involved in community activism. “So, I would go to the community meetings, regional planning groups, and help to coordinate conferences for example. Go to CDC conferences…So I’ve done a lot of different types of things. Now, I’m doing my own thing at the house, Hip n Zen Northend. So, I consider myself a matron of the arts, host producer, life doula, vocational (guide)…watcha need? I’ll try.”
While being an employee building other people’s companies, she felt constricted because her being free spirited disinterested them. She would watch people relieve their tension on their breaks grabbing a cigarette to smoke while she reached for an innocent bottle of bubbles to blow and share with the world yet be ridiculed. Her enthusiasm and drive guided her to pursue her passion. Currently, Reshounn works for herself and describes every day as her Friday. However, to get to her destination, she had to face devastating grief and deal with traumatic losses.
Me with my real life Butterfly, daughter Arian Reshounn. Graduate of EMU BS in Fashion, Merchandising, & Textiles/Marketing. She’s now working on her clothing line and lives in LA.
Ms. Foster always promised her daughter she would purchase a home that would not be confined to the walls of an apartment building. Her positive words and actions allowed her dream to manifest in 2008. “Using my energy of words and using my strategic process and writing, I found the house of our dreams, and I wrote a prayer about getting the house and put it into the mailbox. I closed and moved into my house in North Rosedale Park December 31, 2008.” Her 2,300-square footage home in Rosedale Park was the “American Dream,” which included the amenities of a fireplace, a three-car garage and finished basement. Time faded and by 2012, the grip she had on her dream home and steady employment slipped from her fingertips. From 2008 until last year, 14 family members including her father and maternal and paternal grandparents passed away. She relates this experience to the faithful individual Job who lost everything in the Bible. She called this journey her “Job Moment.” Through her despair she would regain something more valuable: Her Peace!
“Hip & Zen” are words I carried through and out of my Job Moment. My trials in North Rosedale became my triumphs in the North End.
Reshounn didn’t realize this detrimental end would blossom into an astonishing awakening. Her emotions had her feeling she was on the verge of losing her mind. During this transformation in her life, she would learn to cope with depression and understand the depth of true friendship. Two “Naomi and Ruth” experiences occurred. For three months, Reshounn retreated to California and lived with her friend Imani. While residing in California, two essential actions took place that allowed her to find her energy. They included conducting a self-analysis and experiencing self-discovery. Upon returning to Detroit, Alexis, her friend of 30 years, displayed the true sentiments of being a devoted friend. Alexis gave Reshounn the keys to her 112-year-old, barn styled family home that would become the home of Hip N Zen Northend. Reshounn felt a heavy burden was being lifted as the keys were handed over. She said her friend told her, “Come get peace. I want you to have some peace.”
The home holds an amazing history and encompasses the stories of five generations. Her friend’s family is from Panama where their culture believes in the value of community and togetherness. The home was a place where family members could gain their strength while obtaining their independence. Once they established themselves, they would continue their life’s journey. The cycle would continue so other family members could occupy the space to help them rebound, grow and be prosperous for themselves and their families. Reshounn carried on the family’s tradition and has given artists a place to refocus and recuperate. This allowed her to extend a helping hand to others who also needed a friend during a time of need. In addition, the home is where her friend’s grandfather funeral was held. Therefore, the home consumes a spiritual characteristic.
REESTABLISHING THE COMMUNITY CAN PROVIDE ENLIGHTENING CULTURAL EXPERIENCES
Reshounn was fully aware that her newly found environment didn’t have the aesthetics of Indian Village, Rosedale Park, or Palmer Woods; but it had a majestic appeal that made it unique. The North End is home of Oakland Avenue; which used to possess a sea of success. There were well known, popular spots such as the Sugar Hill Lounge where well established black professionals mingled. The Phelps Lounge was known as a top-notch place where you could find famous Motown singers perform. Years ago, the North End was a place where you could enjoy a blue light or basement parties for 25 cents.
My dog-son Polo (left) and our neighbor Jason’s dog Bacca chillin’.
It was imperative for Reshounn to understand the essence of the North End. When they first moved to the neighborhood, she walked the blocks to get a feel for where she moved to. She wanted to explore the blighted landscape of the North End, but a neighbor warned her, “Sunshine this isn’t the place to be wandering off. Come ‘round that corner and worry about your own house.” Witnessing two European Americans in her predominantly African American neighborhood alerted her to Google the building they were entering. She found out the grey building in the ‘hood was known as The Schvitz. “So I Googled the address, and it was the address to The Schvitz, which is a Russian bathhouse. That its legacy and it was also the site where The Purple Gang used to hang out. The Purple Gang was basically Mafia.” This incident catapulted her to become more engaged in keeping the stories of the North End alive and place keeping itself, beginning with her home. While others view the plight and downfall of the North End as hopeless, she envisions the arising and unlimited potential of the area.
As time progressed, she began to discover the neighborhood and eventually attended a community development meeting in 2013. During that meeting, she had the opportunity to cross paths with one of her Brothers-in-Love, Ulysses Newkirk. She describes him as a genius and co-inspirator. Also present at the meeting was Mama Nija Kai, who is known for planning events for the Detroit community such as the African World Festival. “That meeting was for the North End Urban Expressions, which I subtitled “The Healing.” The meeting prompted an epiphany, and she recalled her first encounter with the neighborhood in 2012 realizing, “This is the perfect place for yoga, meditation, dance, poetry, art, music and they were building the landscape and they were doing the architectural design.” Her persistence and dedication to helping rebuild her neighborhood initiated one of the local elders to bestow upon her the title “Mayor of King Street.” He expressed that she deserves the name because she is committed to not allowing the legacy of the North End to perish. She is investing in the whole community. Reshounn stated, “When I say “community” it’s just not that old cliché “community,”, I think of “come into unity.”
Universal LAWS (Love + Art + Words + Sound)
THE CONCEPT OF HIP N ZEN NORTHEND IS WHERE CREATIVITY IS BORN AND HEALING IS DISCOVERED
HNZN Jazz Den feat. my Brother-in-Love and Co-Inspirator Aether Bleu, author/poet/painter and musical explorer. He comes often to musically calibrate my hoME and share a Kitchen Table Talk.
The words “Hip & Zen” were words she placed on a vision board at her dream home in Rosedale Park. She knew the concept had a purpose, but it wouldn’t be realized until years later how and where it would transpire. Hip N Zen Northend is not just a communal space but also her home. A place where she offers Kitchen Table Talks. It is a realm that has evolved into which she calls a creative incubator. “Hip N Zen Northend basically serves the community in three entities. First, “It’s a healing arts dojo, and healing arts comes in many different modalities…mine healing art modality is using loving kind words and writing. I celebrate Universal Laws, Love, Art Words and we explore how to express them. That’s the second part, the creative incubator. The third part is that it’s a HERmitage, capitalizing the “her” to emphasize the home’s feminine power of calm, nurturing, and warmth. It’s open to whomever needs to come, and usually people who come over here are usually within maybe three degrees of separation,” stated Reshounn. Hip N Zen Northend is a place where live concerts are birthed, authors can freely express their gifts, and cultural activities are always welcomed. It is a space where the Spoken Word can be heard and permeate your soul. It is a small world where confessionals have been shared. Hip N Zen Northend is a social atmosphere where you can analyze who you are, and give your life definition. According to Reshounn, Hip N Zen Northend is a place you can, “Come vent, come cry. Come pray. Come meditate. Come draw. Come color. Come listen to music. It’s a healing space. It’s a retreat space.”
Butterflies are a huge part of my life. They are always fluttering in the garden. They’ve also entered the house as caterpillar and matured butterflies, which means good luck.
Prayer is extremely vital to the home. She prays in the home without ceasing and never misses a day. Reshounn states she has an ancestral prayer for former household members who occupied the home found on the bathroom wall. In the kitchen, you will discover the “The Portal” experience. Visitors can write on every space on the wall because it is composed of dry erase board material. She indicated it is a place where words written on the walls have manifested and her friends serve as witnesses. They have inscribed their visions on the wall and their words have come to life.
Initially, she thought about keeping Hip N Zen Northend a secret from others. The reason is this is her personal home. She feels she must be careful who crosses the threshold of the house. Hip N Zen Northend can be found on Facebook, but she does not publish her address on the site. Reshounn indicated through her life journey she has been able to meet a vast amount of people through work and firsthand experiences. During the years, she has invited many to her home and they share their adventure to others about Hip N Zen Northend. Eventually, as others become aware of this peaceful and magical spot and all it offers, they want to experience Hip N Zen for themselves.
FINDING YOUR ROLE TO HELP SHAPE YOUR COMMUNITY
At Councilman James Tate’s District 1 meeting discussing tree removal.
Reshounn spoke of how people can become involved in changing the landscape and scope of their community by investing themselves; their energy, time and talent. She is one of the founding members of the Oakland Avenue Artists Coalition. Her role in this organizations has given her the opportunity to enhance the surroundings and atmosphere of the North End. Also, she feels the residents must engage with others outside of the four walls in their home. People must find out what is going on and happening all around them.
Educating yourself and engaging with others in the neighborhood you occupy is the key to opening the door to revitalizing your community. Reshounn also stressed, “It’s about language. That’s really what it is I’m all about. It’s about language and how we use language and these urban development models. Things are happening around us that we don’t know because we’ve not been educated on the civic level, on the hyper local civic level. The president does what he does. The state of Michigan does what it does, the local government, mayors and even the community leaders – everyone does what they do excluding the residents?” However, she did caution as you become involved within and outside your community don’t overextend yourself and commit to everyone’s cause. The reason is you can become overwhelmed.
EXPANDING THE CONCEPT OF HIP N ZEN NORTH END
Me wearing my personal hOMe theME.
Reshounn coined herself as a Social Spiritual Entrepreneur. She shared that she is changing the meaning of this term through her actions. She told me the concept of this type of entrepreneurship modeled mega churches and life coaches. However, the concept of Hip N Zen Northend is broader because it is unfamiliar territory offering peace through arts, meditation and cultural exploration. She hopes to meet an “Angel Investor” to help fund her dream. Funding and operating your dream is attached with great costs; especially if your pockets are limited. Reshounn went from making over $40,000 a year to less than $15,000 a year. If she can do so, she will feed her guests. That is why she has her own garden with fresh veggies such as collard greens. Also, another option is for her guests to potluck. Reshounn’s motivating factors are made of the triad of her supportive friends, knowing God has her back, and blessing others.
HNZN hosts Artist/Life Coach and Co-Inspirator Brandi Keeler’s Toast2U. I was babysitter and neighbor to Andy Hargrove (wearing the head wrap) when she was a babe in arms. She in turn my daughter. Now, she has a daughter (picture in the tutu).
She is working on her business plan; which can be difficult when you see the vision full circle while others may not fully see the shaping of the concept. Her Brother-in-Love obtained an inkjet printer and now she can print t-shirts with the Hip N Zen Northend logo. The logo was created with graphic designer and life coach Brandi Keeler, who is also one of Reshounn’s co-inspirators. She hopes once people see the t-shirt they would want to have one in their possession. Also, she enjoys the uplifting experience of celebration at Hip N Zen Northend. Reshounn believes it would be a rewarding feeling for others to have the experience of Hip N Zen in their home which would lead to, “self-definition, self-discovery, and self-declaration.”
THE REWARDS OF DISCOVERING HIP N ZEN NORTHEND
“English Lit Degree,” an art installation in the Writer’s Den
Reshounn’s greatest reward is she has discovered who she is designed to be. This talented woman is truly an artist at heart and feels the world couldn’t exist without art. In her eyes, the world would be void without artists because they are responsible for designing everything from plates, spoons, buildings, and cars. Hip N Zen Northend has allowed her to find the peace she had lost at one point in her life. Her dad told her, “Ain’t nothing like having a peace of mind.” While she has found her peace, she ensures she unselfishly lends her talents, soul, and bright personality to assist others find their peace on earth as well.
Overall, she knows her work is honorable and she is putting respect and adding dignity to her name by stating, “But it’s a great honor to be in my own energy, to declare what it is that I do, to live up to my name, to live my life where life and work are seamless.” Yes, Reshounn Foster continue to allow your light to shine for the world to see your creative expertise while giving people the opportunity to heal and enjoy themselves during the process.
A typical HERmitage moment, earthing.
-Let your heart be full of new ventures that will lead you to the possibilities of limitless conversations!