celebrations and transitions

what a moment!

just back from a successful weekend planning the road to the us social forum in detroit in 2010. got to spend time with my allied media conference family, the conference/gathering that brings together the minds that excite me more than anything else in the world.

the plan leading to the forum is about more than the 5 days of the forum, there are conversations about asking folks to buy homes instead of getting hotels – homes that will belong to organizations in detroit after the forum (to counter the colonization that is happening in detroit with buyers from japan and california scooping up foreclosed cheap homes in bulk). folks are going to be asked to bring bikes to leave in the city to support alternate forms of transportation. there’s even talk of launching an alternate currency during the forum! the theme has been another world is possible, another u.s. is necessary. grace lee boggs has been saying for years that another detroit is happening, and this will be a space for all of that to pollinate and burst to a national and international level.

so that was good.

arrived home to police cars surrounding my block, again. one of my neighbors was recently murdered and dumped on the side of a road by a vicious ex, and you’d have to live under a rock to be unaware of the violence that’s been building between the police and the people of oakland this year. this time, a 97-year-old neighbor was beaten to death in her home. ivarene was a super active, wonderful, strong woman who was sweet to everyone in the neighborhood. a moment for ivarene – may she rest in peace.

this kind of violence so close to home is hard to align with the amazing growth and forgiveness and movement building i’ve been seeing, but it’s also a reminder that the world we live in NOW desperately needs the change we are working for, the healing we are growing in ourselves and our organizations and our communities.

today i spent two delightful hours with one of the most radical funders i know, talking about how shamefully many major donors are behaving during this economic crisis (giving nothing when they can still afford to give, even if it’s less). we also geeked out about the growth of networks in a time when institutions and structures are crumbling fast. it’s so natural – buildings and inanimate structures – even the human body – begin to deteriorate as soon as they exist, and it is only a matter of time before they are reclaimed by the earth. organic structures, however, have life cycles. humans have tried to extend ours in ways which are negatively impacting the planet, and we have applied that thinking to organizational structures. we try to create indestructible institutions, and we’re surprised when they become antiquated, ineffective; when they fail, fall apart, implode.

ruckus has been a network since it’s inception, but it feels like we are just now understanding the strength of that structure. networks are organic, people/organizations are a part of networks from a place of passion and natural interest, rather than for a salary or a title. when monetary resources leave the network structure, the love and community can keep it going. this economic moment has definitely impacted us, donors have given less or not at all, foundations who promised to fund us this year are now giving no new grants. fortunately we restructured last year, committing to our network structure and trimming all the fat from our budget. we will make it through if we are meant to, and we have been able to share lessons about our network model with other struggling organizations. the thing is – this moment of change is exciting. we are healthier and more engaged in cutting edge work than we have ever been. and the victories support that the nonviolent direct action network model works – desert rock permit denied, klamath river dams brought down, new school president ousted. it’s a good moment to take action, and taking action is affordable when nothing else is :).

i also went to a friend’s birthday party tonight which was lovely, sacred, and healing. i ran into someone i have always thought of as family there, and this person was not happy to see me. with all the amazing changes and drama of the past few months i have been negligent of certain folks, and i hope they can understand and forgive me.

it was mother’s day this past weekend (happy mothers day to all the humans with wombs, and all the people who take on the role of mothering babies and midwives and dulas and godmothers and grandmothers in this world), and i got to send lots of love to all the mothers in my life. my mom is one of the most incredible people in the world, and has always been so open and supportive of my life, and i have put her through it. my family was all together while i was facilitating the us social forum process, staring at my perfect nephew. he makes me understand the miracle of motherhood, the beauty of childbirth, how special a new life is, how much we all need to love children and support children in our lives.

on the midwife tip – my dear friend sara was breaking me off on some serious numbers. it costs $4000 to have a homebirth, in a safe space with a midwife and the wisdom of ancients welcoming a child into the world, supported through the entire pregnancy. it costs $30,000 or more to have a hospital birth, in a sterilized cold space where pregnancy is treated as an illness, where you’re cared for for up to 2 days and then dismissed. um…yay midwives!! let’s honor the practices of ages and evolve the western process to involve and respect these ancient and natural ways.

as a final point, i have been reading pattern recognition by william gibson, and it’s a brilliant book about a “cool hunter” who is allergic to brands, grasping how trends start and get commodified by corporations, and how hard it is to be original, to notice something genuinely new. i love his thinking and his writing and recommend him.

this is long, maybe that’s enough. more to follow.

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