Lotus Peace Arts at Heron’s Bridge provides integrative arts education, with a focus on feminist social justice activism, at Studio #319 and numerous other locations. Instruction includes poetry and free writing, interpretive dance, moving meditation, Jian Mei Tai Chi & Qigong Healing Arts, Filipino Arnis Stick Arts, Okinawan Karate, empowerment self-protection for women and people of all genders, and more.
Shinshii Janet Aalfs, LPA founder and director, is a 7th degree black belt in Karate and Arnis, master Jian Mei instructor, Northampton’s 2nd poet laureate (2003-05), and founding member of Valley Women’s Martial Arts, a non-profit center since 1977, now a Heron’s Bridge program. Educator, performer, peace activist, and published writer, Janet shares her work through classes, special events, conferences, and venues of all kinds locally, nationally, and internationally.
She is the author of several poetry collections; her most recent book is Bird of a Thousand Eyes. A recipient of an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, her writing has been widely published. Her prize-winning poetry has received recognition on the page and through readings and performances at gatherings such as the renowned Dodge Poetry Festival at which she was featured.
Aalfs received the 2013 Leadership and Advocacy in the Arts Award from the Center for Women and Community, UMass/ Amherst. In that same year she was inducted into the IMAF Arnis Black Belt Hall of Fame in Philadelphia, and was given the Pioneer Award. In 2016 she received the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation Founders Award for her decades of work in helping to create and develop the organization.