Many Mouths One Stomach (MMOS) is a Tucson-based collective of artists, teachers and community activists who come together with the intent to create, inspire, manifest and perpetuate modern festal culture.
“Festal Culture” is the expression and fulfillment of core human needs through public celebration, ceremony, and ritual. The All Souls Procession is an event that was created to serve the public need to mourn, reflect, and celebrate the universal experience of Death, through their ancestors, loved ones and the living. Our events establish a legacy that reclaims public space through art and blurs the line between participant and observer, ritual and performance. Together with our commitment to education, outreach, and collaboration, MMOS stewards a vision wherein the creative act becomes a mode of living.
The All Souls Procession had its beginnings in Tucson, Arizona in 1990 with a ceremonial performance piece created by local artist Susan Johnson. Johnson was grieving the passing of her father, and as an artist, she found solace in a creative, celebratory approach to memorializing him. After that first year, many artists were inspired to continue, growing the Procession into its modern incarnation. Today we find ourselves organizing well over 150,000 participants on the streets of downtown Tucson for a two-mile long human-powered procession that ends in the ceremonial burning of a large Urn filled with the hopes, offerings and wishes of the public for those who have passed. Myriad altars, performers, installation art, and creatives of all kinds collaborate the previous year to prepare their offerings for this amazing event. The All Souls Procession, and now the entire All Souls Weekend, is a celebration and mourning of the lives of our loved ones and ancestors.
Many Mouths One Stomach was coined in 1995 and became a 501c3 in 2006 to be able to manage and fund an event that was growing beyond its creators’ capacity. The formation of the organization catalyzed and solidified many of the community activities that were already occurring such as teaching movement, circus arts, puppet making, music, hosting, producing and curating events for other organizations as well as providing consultant and technical direction.
The All Souls Procession creates cross collaboration and pollination across societal, economic, racial and artistic boundaries like no other singular event. Our organizations curatorial tendencies are towards free, open and participatory events and experiences that affirm an individuals’ creativity within the context of community and the cycles of humanity and nature.
Clarity of Intent
Our planning efforts involve diligent attention to the kind of experience we intend to provide, and remain open to the support that magically presents itself as a reward for this clarity. Honoring that events of such significance have a life of their own, we establish a basic framework for safety, inclusiveness, beauty and originality from which the events can evolve as they need to.
We are midwives of revelation. We provide the environment and the circumstances that are conducive to free expression. Our creativity is our personal connection to ourselves, our environment and our inspiration. Creativity is also our process of meeting our core need for expression, for healing and transformation, for community and for bringing something new into the world. Creativity requires taking risks, being courageous and being open to making mistakes.
Collaboration gives us the opportunity to have our work reflected back upon ourselves, informing, deepening and expanding our process, creating mutually supportive and dynamic relationships. Collaboration reaffirms and honors the process of others through enlisting their involvement. We acknowledge that conflict can arise, and we are dedicated to working through conflict to greater understanding and resolution. Through collaboration we find and name our commonly held values and help identify each of our roles in service to presenting successful events and participating in a more civil society.
We believe that love is greater than fear. We believe that the quality of our lives is expressed through the quality of our relationships, and the quality of our events is directly the result of the integrity of our organization. Integrity is a passionate dedication to act in an ethical, honest manner in alignment with wholeness and balance, taking into account negative and positive aspects of experience. Our integrity is expressed through a commitment to quality, loyalty, constancy, trustworthiness, responsibility, accountability and maintaining our agreements, renegotiating where necessary.
By design, our organization is a holding presence, set up to sustain itself over the long term, instilled with values that persist beyond the involvement of any individual or group. Our organization is structured so that our record keeping and defining documents are open and available, and instructive as to our process. We protect and preserve the authenticity of our events, our relationships and our way of working as we cultivate other stewards who will similarly care for each other and our community.
For even more detail, read our Glossary of Terms.