Monthly Archive for June, 2009

21 days in…

research shows it takes 21 days to form a new habit. today is the 21st day of my attempt to break my personal media cycle from the negative, and only share either successful/victory/advancing news, or news with an actionable item, some thing that the reader can do that is meaningful. it should mean something when you spend time with information and stories, your knowing it should have an impact.

so i have been only posting and sharing things where there’s a “to-do” or a “oh hell yes!!” involved.

it’s hard! so much of the news we consume is either scandalous, tragic, violent, or distant. punditry is possible because there are folks who are willing to speak to any topic, based on a bare minimum of information. we are mostly trained to be pundits now, because our school systems teach us to regurgitate information, as opposed to asking hard questions and pursuing individual opinions, thinking critically. i can do the pundit thing, and enjoy it – i can be witty, i can make any current event fit into my world view.

but what purpose does it serve?

knowing a shallow amount of information about everything prevents me from investing time in developing deep knowledge about things that are relevant to me and my community – community food systems, nonviolent strategies, reconciliation, action.

i want to create a new habit – i want to use my writing and speaking skills to celebrate, to incite, and to advance the front lines of our work. i want to push the boundaries of my own knowledge, learn, feel my world view expand and evolve.

a few days ago i said, “if you don’t have anything informed to say about honduras (insert iran, iraq, etc.), then don’t say anything.” it’s literally a waste of your brain power and a waste of other people’s time.

stepping out the constant viral spread of bad news and controversy, even a baby step, makes it painfully clear how strong and shallow the news cycles are. watching everyone weigh in on iran, then watching that attention move on, reminded me that the cycle’s movement is like that of waves. ebbing and flowing, coming and going, taking things and landing them on a new shore without apparent purpose. you can ride wave after wave if you’re savvy, witty, sardonic in the right ways. or you can get pummeled by the waves if you are emotionally open to the actual horror and tragedy of things humans are doing to other humans every moment.

or…you can be a fresh drop, a deep dive, create new waves, be part of the tipping point towards solution-based thinking, community-based knowledge gathering and application.

i slip up, it’s addictive to know a little about a lot. but i’m committed. my whole interaction with data is much more passionate and specific and emotional and deep right now. i’m starting to like it.

a recent issue of WIRED magazine, edited by j.j. abrams, reframed science for me. we’re taught for at least 12 years that science is memorizing all that is known and true, what has been discovered, the laws of the universe. in this WIRED issue, science is presented as the pursuit of the unknown, honing the skill of curiousity, question, wonder, deep research – why, why, why?

science is our lives, philosophy is our lives, current events are our lives. but are we simply repeating old information down through the ages, or are we shifting what and how we communicate to create a new age?

i’m heading into 21 more days, towards a new age.

Grace Lee Boggs turns 94!

Just left Grace Lee Boggs’ 94th birthday celebration. She was the hostess, and planned the program.

The room was full of people who have known Grace for decades, people who have changed their whole lives based on the teachings of Grace and her husband Jimmy Boggs, contributors to the re-issues of her and Jimmy’s books, and young people who have grown up in programs co-founded by the couple (half the room were current members or past members of Detroit Summer).

The food was delicious, in the way food is delicious amongst people who centralize good food access in their vision of movement building.

I had barely sat down when I was put on the spot to lead Happy Birthday. On the spot like I had been dreaming of it all day; on the spot like I jumped up and clapped and got to pour all my joy and honor at knowing Grace into my breath.

I have never been with Grace once when she was not referencing the work and genius of her love and life partner. I think their model of loving comradeship, a logical love, a love passionate about transforming the self to transform the world – is as important to the movement as any project they started.

Grace spoke of how Jimmy knew his time was coming. She has joked for years that her time is coming, while her level of activity and output means that people do laugh at the joke, it’s so hard to imagine.

She had us watch the video that anyone who has ever been to the Boggs Center has seen. Its a video of Jimmy speaking casually and formally, with glimpses of Grace. The video is followed by footage of Ossie Davis giving the eulogy for Jimmy – humorous and precise, a memory of the ways Ossie was “born again” in the analysis and worldview of his friend Jim.

Everyone in the room had seen the video, and watched again. Some had tears, most just smiled. Speakers and performers got up, and each person’s life had been deeply changed by the impact of Grace (and Jimmy’s) work.

Invincible got up to perform, and prefaced the verse and freestyle by saying to Grace: “instead of giving us easy answers, you have asked us the hard questions. Thank you for the hard questions.”

This is true. I have sat with Grace each visit now for the past nearly three years, which makes me an absolute beginner. Each time I push and prod and seek answers, because I like questions and a-ha moments. Each time I walk away still having the conversation in my head. It’s deep to go back and forth with someone who has 64 years of lived experience more than you.

The ideas are so so so complex to actually contend with, internally. Transform YOURSELF to transform the world. It literally means turning from the practices of complaint, reactionary protest, banging at the door of folks who don’t care about you…turning deep within yourself and your community to discover, create, apply and maintain solutions. Even folks who see the logic of these ideas have a hard time letting go of the practice of spending serious time in oppositional, reactionary, anger-driven political spaces.

Grace sits in the ideas with comfort and ease, still learning, still growing, still excited – but with no doubt. Everything is about relationships, everything is about avoiding the trappings of false power and false solutions. I see myself bringing that shift – from reaction to vision – into the work Ruckus does. How can our vision be directly acted out? How can our actions transform the participants in ways that transform the communities and the opposition?

I don’t agree with every point, but I can’t tell if that is just my learning curve or not. I do know that when I started reading Grace’s work and sitting with her, I often found sentences I literally felt I had written or said at some point, and it was like a homecoming to see a politic built around love and relationship and community.

Tonight I was honored to sit in that community and celebrate 94 years of Grace. Send her your birthday love!!

P.S. The event was a fundraiser for Detroit Summer, and included the unveiling of their GORGEOUS new t-shirt, designed by Wes Taylor. You can get one if you donate. :) Investing in someone’s work is always a perfect gift.

Michael Jackson, who’s loving you?

While he lived, he was quite possibly the most listened to person alive. The most sampled and copied. The most played. The youngest person to make people move. The person most people tried to move like.

He made us move like zombies, like water, like freedom. He made us trip and fall backwards trying to moonwalk, and trip and fall forward trying to see if the lean in ‘Smooth Criminal’ was possible.

He showed us his mad genius world in videos, songs, movies, tv specials.

He injected sex into our hips. He got us wearing shiny gloves and overwought leather jackets. He taught us to walk with such rhythm that we lit up the sidewalks.

There are sung phrases that are of our collective history and can incite any crowd of several generations into vicious emotion or movement…1, 2, 3; I wanna rock with you; Make that change; Billie Jean is not my lover; the way you make me feel; Sha-mo (or whatever he was saying…); Mama se Mama sa… The opening chords to Thriller and Pretty Young Thing have made us move in ways we didn’t know were possible. His young voice out of nowhere singing, “When….I, had you. I treated you bad, and wrong my dear…”

He broke race barriers in the pop world which opened doors in the political world – he crossed over and back. He morphed.

When the signs started to become clear, that the boy wasn’t right, that he was too isolated, underdeveloped, imperfect – we laughed, we stared, we assumed. He was our first boyfriend before he became our crazy cousin – always family.

We didn’t see the pain, we saw the bizarre, and we are vultures for scandal.

Still, he kept producing for us. As he got lighter he brought us an image of black Egyptians. He made us scream, cry, faint, and mob.

When it became clear that the boy’s face we had loved had become the face of a man who didn’t love himself; we judged him. We tore at him and he fell apart. He was living proof of the impact of our rabid pop culture, an early sacrifice to the new mechanisms of fame which allow no privacy, no time to learn, no mistakes.

Still, he kept producing for us.

When the rumors and the truth were all too prevalent (the children, both his and others), and he wasn’t getting the psychological support and accountability he needed, we turned from him and derided him. We made the distinction of loving the child, but ridiculing the man.

How many times did his heart break before this? How many times did he experience happiness, community, belonging and love in his life, in his off-the-stage life?

My entire life is framed by his songs. I have had ecstatic moments to his music while high, while drunk, while sober, while sad, while in love, while in heartbreak. It seems silly to feel this way over a pop singer, and yet its crucial to feel this way over an artist who reshaped how we understand music, movement and communication. He was at every good party I ever attended (which is where I have felt more release and unity with other people than just about anywhere else).

I suspect he always will be.

I don’t know if he experienced peace in this life, much less joy. When I heard the news today, I looked out the window and a rainbow stood complete from one horizon to the other. I don’t know if nature follows the news, but I hope that one was for the kid and the man, and he’s over there.

For real, rest in peace Michael Jackson. Thank you.

i am woman

feeling like such a woman these days.

i am liveblogging now from The Foundation, the female hip-hop weekly in Detroit. the energy is live, lots of powerful women and lots of men here to support.

reading andrea dworkin, thanks to dani mcclain, started with the memoirs and working my way back. her writing is unapologetically, fiercely woman’s work. i don’t agree with everything, but damn if it isn’t challenging, to look at the setbacks and the amazing advances i can see happening in my life and rethink the role that my femininity plays into it all. my focus on being female in the work has been so much about leadership, and so little about the ways that folks have hated women, have held women back. it’s not where i tend to float, but it’s liberating to remember, to be firmly placed back into context.

this is especially important as i become more and more aware everyday of the shift that’s happening in the world right now. what women and feminist and feminine leaders are doing is the future. i imagine this is always what it feels like to exist on a fault line – we can feel the opening beneath us, we can sense that a new landscape will swallow the current one, some days we stomp on the earth to encourage the quaking.

i got this amazing poem in my inbox today:

The Strength of Roses
by RedsonRise

(dedicated to the women identified organizers, activists, and artists in my life
we could not win without you.)

witness
how the peel back of her leaves
reveals the fence of her thorns
makes the wind step back
suck then breathe slow
how the wreck-less peace of those eyes conjures up this
the first unburdened sky of the season

perceive
how in a star blinking moment
the microphone appears
to accompany the single singing string
of her verbal violin
a succulent leaf trembling with precision
an earthquake of intent
the long metal stem below the cool shaft below
the round echo of sound
bows in gentle acknowledgement of her return
drops hot and slow
like a red son
a setting fire

believe
that both mountain and gutter become her stage
even blowing in this wind all the world’s rage cannot touch her
held like this in the god’s eye maze of those Buddha eyes she made
with the same gold dug from the soft rock of her skin
these
her own two hands
meant to turn up the volume on any storm
walk the lightening line
balance between the broken beam of time
stand still and awake in this coming of summer
her moment arrived

listen
to the way her words drop
like rose petals on concrete
like a dew drowned season
the way their blood elevates the color of empire
until its shame is laid bare
its diction deciphered
called by its right name
listen
to the sound of her
tell it

feel it
as she arranges the bouquet of crumpled notebook paper
against an unending horizon of imagination of desire of love for the people
and the vocabulary shudders victory from its sleep
feel it
when the lights go down and when the mourning of her orchestra arises
feel then too
when the art of pistol and stamen swallows down the dawn
lets you cry
lets you come home
lets you understand better bye and bye
that a rose demands no audience
only allies

ok??

this event is dope – one amazing female after another taking the mic, rapping, singing, with emcee Piper Carter reminding us how evolutionary and necessary the space is. whole live band and DJ, all female (many from Lola Valley), and Monica Blaire is in the building right now and she is basically like church in an R&B-Rock full frontal assault.

its really powerful to see the men from the Detroit hip-hop community who are out here deeply supporting the ladies on the stage. there’s such a high level of talent on the stage.

we are so gifted.

took a break cuz Invincible and Monica Blaire joined Lola Valley up on the stage and it just turned in to one of my favorite off the top performances of the year. Performance with some preaching on what women’s hip-hop looks like, Invincible broke down how its not separatist, not segregationist, not about keeping anyone off the mic or hogging the mic (as the mic has been hogged from women on too many stages) – women’s hip-hop is about sharing the mic, the stage, the energy. Then Monica Blaire got up and said she just came from a Motown celebration of 50 years, preached about how this is Motown, how the age of cars is over and art is the commodity that is going to draw people to this city, make people want to invest and understand what this city is all about. She had everyone with hands in the air screaming “I Am Detroit!”

Nights like this make me feel all wombed out and remind me that I carry all the creative potential in the world within.

:)

diva cup

at some point i promised someone, probably myself, that i would write publicly about the diva cup.

today after a shocking surprise visit from my monthly friend, after much crazy-acting (you could use the word bitch onetimeonly as an alternate description) on my part, i was reminded that i love nothing so much as the diva cup.

and painkillers.

pads mean you are providing an external solution to an internal process.

tampons mean you are stuffing things in there to absorb, with a limitation to absorption not relative to the source of…stuff to absorb.

both pads and tampons are, for the most part, not biodegradable. they just sit somewhere, full of sacred process, forever.

this is why i love the diva cup. it collects, and it is designed to hold all that it needs to. if used right, you don’t feel it. at no point are you in a grown person’s diaper, and you aren’t risking toxic shock syndrome with bleached cotton delivered in plastic applicators that pile up in trash heaps, never to decompose.

pads and tampons are trash – a diva cup is forever.

if for some reason the diva cup doesn’t do you right, the other earth-friendly alternative is luna pads.

that’s all for today, it’s jenny lee’s birthday and the 1 year kick-off of the u.s. social forum, so i, my diva cup, and my painkillers are out the door!!

happy juneteenth!!

happy juneteenth y’all!!

i have been thinking a lot about liberation, and what we would do if we felt truly free to say and do whatever we wanted to say and do. not that i hold back much…

today i gave another ruckus training, and it was amazing and tangible and impactful and useful. as usual. not because of me, but because the ruckus curricula is a thoughtfully woven, popular education, interactive and artistic, collective creation.

then i got some bad news, bad funding news. and on one hand it made me inhale the way you do when someone really truly punches you in the gut. boom. whatever that part is called – plexus, diaphragm, sacrum, heart, womb, rib…its all holy, it’s all full of life, it all hurts.

and i felt the twin presence of liberation, which i have been grounded in for some time now. i have no doubt about our work. maybe my zeal, my ebullience, my joy, my inability to falsify what we’re doing or shove it down people’s throats – maybe that just doesn’t work. and yet, these last few months, as our budget has gotten tighter than ever, our work has been more honest, visionary, and effective than ever.

we are supposed to be pushing edges, bursting through boundaries, breaking unjust laws and then sharing the how-to with everyone we meet. we are supposed to be strategic and fearless, of the community and in the fire and on the frontline with the community. either we are changing history, or we don’t need to exist. ruckus work is not polite work – it’s not for the feint-hearted, and it can’t be prettied up. it’s transformational – and transformation requires that moment in the cocoon, between caterpillar and butterfly, primordial and compulsive chaos for the greater good.

you can’t write a strategic plan for how to fly when all you have is 100 legs – but that yearning can lead you to build the shape in which your future will be born. ruckus holds the space, for any community that wants to, to fly, to experience their own liberation, self-determination, to create and protect their own sustainability. to live, frankly.

the communities we service have a love affair with humans that won’t arrive for 5, 6, 7 generations or more. we are committed to them, as our ancestors were to us when they risked love, safety, limb and life, for freedom. not because someone told them where to sign the anti-slavery petition, not because someone gave them a permit for their uprising, not because it built the broadest tent to include folks who had no desire to be free.

none of that…slaves rebelled, escaped, resisted, fought back, rose up, and eventually ended their enslavement because it was right. because they could feel the injustice at the back of their tongues, knotted in their bellies, overcoming them in waves when they looked at their lovers, at their children.

it is juneteenth in a new world, in a new economy we have yet to understand. i will say it here, though i may not say it anywhere else: the system of capitalism is only designed to enslave and empower. either you are in power, or you are enslaved. you can be enslaved to the desire for materials, for money, for approval, for that paycheck at a job that you know is doing nothing for your soul or your community, that paycheck that empowers you to send your child to a school that will strip him/her of the critical capacity we are each gifted with, our very humanity. score high, talk small, dance fast, die bored.

or you can be in power, with the knowledge that your power comes at the expense of the freedom – economic, environmental, societal freedom – of others.

or…be part of the evolutionary minority. freedom, and growing the human potential, that is our call.

this economic moment feels like such a crisis for so many of us, and yet it might be our last opportunity to be a truly liberated species. not everyone will let go of the shore, but enough of us could let our vision, and our love for our communities, be enough, trust what we’re feeling.

not everyone runs because they are brave. many run, and dance, and maintain, because they are so scared of dying. bravery doesn’t come from running away. bravery begins with the heavy, forward leaning step of running towards the unknown. throwing your whole self, body mind and spirit, towards what you know is right, and having faith that the form will emerge – bridge, cloud, tunnel, network.

so the news i got today was bad, and yet i still feel the deep balance and elation i felt yesterday, and the day before. i, we, at ruckus and many friends and other organizations – we are throwing ourselves with faith into the unknown, into what feels absolutely right for the communities we serve. at this moment it becomes harder and harder to accept any sustenance from any house that is not our own, harder and harder to swallow food we did not seed and grow and cook with love ourselves.

we shall not, we shall not be moved. but in faith, we might be transformed.

again:

“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is THE HOUR.

And there are things to be considered…

Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What are your relationships?

Are you in right relation?

Where is your water?

Know your garden.

It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community.

Be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

– Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation

wow dreams

my dreams for the past couple of nights have been so active and so awesome and so post-capitalist it’s hard to believe they are dreams.

two nights ago i dreamt i was touring a mansion with the largest pool i have ever seen, lap lanes separated by waterfalls, a massive stadium stage with the pool as the space for the audience, hot tubs in greenhouses for every bathroom. i was with a group of young women touring the house. the disgruntled daughter recruited us all to stand against her rich old white family and we were in a great battle. at some point i leapt into the daughter’s perspective. we shot permanent paintballs at them, and then stepped back into a massive spaceship full of theater-sized couch-beds and took off. we were all the women of margins, the floor of the ship was clear. we went to another world, another planet where everything looked like the italian coast. we recreated the massive mansion there. the floor of our pool was painted with figures from renoir paintings, and secret doors and passageways led from the pool into the house, through the house. the rich family somehow found us and started shooting us with white square replicators that turned every inanimate object they touched into white squares. i jumped through a quicksand passageway into an underground bunker and made my way into the house. there, another disgruntled sister knocked on the door. was she there to betray me, or make peace?

i woke up.

last night, i was in an underground world where video game rules were in effect. i could move without making a sound, shift shape, fly and drop from immense heights. i started in a club, leapt up on top of the wall and ran. the whole world was in cubicles – suburban home life in some cubes, clubs, offices, everything was in these little boxes. i was being tested for my skills in battle after battle with a black fox in a trenchcoat. i could create things out of thin air, and none of the fighting was direct, or violent – it was about how quickly we could move, what we could make, how close we could come to others without being seen. i finally made it to a place that seemed to be outside with both my boy and girl lovers. a pregnant man of immense height eventually approached us and said they were amazed at my skills, and that i had bested the black fox (was this man actually the black fox? we had clearly known each other in some way forever; was that my child he was carrying?). he invited us to meet, to talk about fighting the forces that cubed the world. i kissed my girl, dismissed my boy, and we went to scheme.

i woke up from both dreams eager to return – it was so much fun.

so i have seen the shape of massive battles that take no lives, epic fights that leave no bruise, and know that the ultimate battle is against sameness, bigness, and profit for the sake of profit.

in waking life, it is SO hard to not pass on negative news, but i stand committed. for a week now i have only posted actionable items, or successes. (hannah – in answer to your question, my general feeling is that most news services, community or not, are doing their job of getting out the negative. even if the action call is – “please be in touch with me if you are taking action” – that’s a step in the right direction.) i still follow what is going on, but now i think – is there something relevant and impactful i can do? because if not i am going to continue doing the relevant and impactful work i am engaged in. i am more effective, less distracted, spending less time on sitting in shock/awe/wonder/morbid-curiosity.

there is so much to take action on in the world.

this week i head on a trip – chicago, milwaukee, chicago, detroit – rental cars, planes, amtrak. i’m going to work with wisconsin apprentice organizing project, young women’s empowerment project, and all my detroit folks. the entire thing will be under the influence of quantum physics, as that is the subject at hand for my Friend, and thus what we are discussing most of the time. geek-love is sweet-love.

what are you dreaming these days?

defining moments

perhaps because i was raised in germany most of my life. perhaps because i am a quarter german, which my blood knew long before my mind did. the stories of the holocaust and world war ii have fascinated me. the way good and bad was delineated there, and the ways in which those lines were completely blurred. i just watched ‘the reader’ and ‘miracle at st. anna’, both of which approach germans and facism and morality, bravery, good and evil. i recommend them, together. neither one is an easy watch, or reaches easy conclusions. both point to the power of small goodness, of the sort of kindness that can exist on an individual level in the face of conformity. redemptive.

small acts, in community, may be the highest possible act of humanity.

tonight, i got to emcee the WORLD gala. my dear friend naina khanna works there, and i have supported the organization as a facilitator in the past, for the foundational meeting of the positive women’s network. the gala was celebrating a transition of leadership, and celebrating the amazing women of the WORLD community. this kind of event fills me up, listening to all of these women talk about how deeply their lives were changed when they found WORLD.

the combination of the films and this evening have me thinking about defining moments. do we choose the moments that define our lives? do we put ourselves in the line of fire…is it fate that provides the setting for audacious bravery, is it random?

at defining moments in our lives something comes up within us, some essential aspect of ourselves which is our bravery, or our cowardice. it isn’t good or bad, it isn’t even intentional, it’s deeper than that. how do we cultivate that deepest self to speak up, speak out, hold the space for truth, protect our children and those amongst us with the least capacity to defend themselves.

the state of california has announced budget cuts, and all of the cuts are for the most marginalized in our society – the elderly, the children, those facing mental health issues, those living with hiv. how do we cultivate our deepest selves in ways that echo through the halls of our decision makers? can we systematize bravery and caring for each other?

not all of our defining moments are in clear wars, but we are all on a front line. how do we joyfully step into the heroic, generous, kind self within us on a daily basis?

the nyquil is setting in, hopefully the healing is almost complete.

breaking the cycle

this came to me in a state of sick half-sleep last night.

i find the way mainstream media cycles us through scandal, drama and tragedy to be emotionally exhausting. breaking news: something horrific has just happened in a place other than where you are, there’s nothing you can do about it but accumulate tons of shocking horrible information, and we will be covering this in non-stop excruciating detail until the next horrific thing happens. in 3 weeks you won’t be thinking about this anymore, but for now it is the center of your conversations and concerns.

i have been a part of this cycle in the way i share and highlight news in my world. we all do it.

i am going to try and break the cycle, personally. i will only share and highlight stories where there is a clear actionable item, so that you knowing about it means something; or a victory, so that you can see the impact of people’s efforts for justice.

wish me luck!

deep change

i’m sitting in the wonderful asheville airport after a weekend with other people who, like myself, are interested in transformational personal and political work. we were all brought together by rockwood, stone circles, movement strategy center and the seasons fund for a conference called Deep Change.

i was very very excited for ruckus to be invited, because i have been with ruckus through a lot of changes, and on a fundamental level i believe direct action is a spiritual and potentially transformational act. i also believe that right now there is a need to transform the justifiable anger that many communities we work with are feeling into visionary pro-Action.

i learned so much – it feels like it was much longer than three days of time. i took a lot of notes in the process, and feel like the best way to share some of the experience is to share the questions, words i heard and moments of clarity that occurred to me throughout (in no particular order, in quotes, and with no names unless i reference some larger ongoing work that folks are doing):

– for a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it has to go into a cocoon (or pupa, or chrysalis) and become complete “goop”. the caterpillar is compelled to create and go into the cocoon, but the resulting butterfly shares no DNA with the caterpillar it once was. that is transformation.
– what is a collective metaphor equivalent to the path of the butterfly, as that is such an individual journey? (i heard something about monarch butterflies the last day that might address this – i will research this and keep y’all informed)
– what we long for is embedded in our genetic and/or ancestral memories; i remember flight and long for it. i remember wholeness, and long for it.
– “i carry everything that happened to my ancestors in my blood.”
– “i come from a circular belief system.”
– i have to heal my relationship to the south; that is where my family is from, and where my extended family is now. i thought love kept me away from the south – the interracial love that led to my birth, the woman i love now. but it is racism and homophobia that keep me from the south, and love that will bring me home.
– i am the living embodiment of love that overcomes seemingly impossible odds. that is my legacy.
– gender is not a determinant in how i experience love or attraction.
– my capacity to love is limitless.
– how do we hold the limitless dimension in our clearly limited body?
– when i sit directly across from someone who knows how to open themselves, it is possible to create a shared energy field in which words are unnecessary.
– “our efforts should not be to do no harm, it should be to do love”
– i am an earth sign, i need water all around me, over me and through me, every day.
– each human being is mostly water. “The human body is more than 60 percent water. Blood is 92 percent water, the brain and muscles are 75 percent water, and bones are about 22 percent water.” when we are in the water, and drinking water, it is home, sustenance, part of us. bless and honor water before you drink it, or while in the shower, know the water you are from and go often to the water near you. (a lot of this thinking is from Kathy Sanchez and the work of the Tewa Women’s Collective, also Masaru Emoto’s Hidden Messages in Water)
– our potential for truly DEEP practice and change is limited by two external factors that we have internalized. first, “colonization has moved us away from our ancestral practices,” and second, “capitalism has commodified the places and practices that lead us to depth.” we are displaced, and as soon as we discover something we try to mass produce it, instead of letting it root deeply.
– we have ego invested in our current form. when most of us speak of change, we mean improving or reforming our current form. most of us are not ready to truly surrender to complete transformation – practice creates the space to releasing ego and surrendering to that greater yearning.
– being in community is a practice. actually living and being accountable to other people is a key piece of knowing yourself and offering your gifts. also mentioned were prayer, meditation, song, ceremony, dance, deep listening, martial arts (folks were learning aikido principles, doing tai chi and jo kata throughout our time together). swimming has been a deep practice of mine recently.
– truth and reconciliation is a necessary part of a functional community.
– practice allows us to birth new worlds.
– “we don’t have the depth of political analysis and of personal practice we need”
– rather than continuously attempting to tell others what they lack and convince them of the need for transformational work, we must embody depth. if enough of us are willing to engage in deep practice in our political and personal journeys, and we embody the vision, the centered-ness, and the depth, then it’s possible we can create a tipping point in the culture.
– we must engage in this embodiment at the individual level, and bring it into our work so that our groups and/or organizations reflect deep and grounded visionary work. our networks, coalitions and alliances must also reflect this. the structures in which we do our work – currently 501c3s for many of us – must evolve to reflect transformational intention.
– at this moment, we must accumulate mass by growing depth in community, while staying connected to those beyond our immediate community and sharing our learnings. the other option is watering down the depth in order to make it easier to consume for the masses, engaging in the practices of our opposition, rather than the practices of our own liberation. we have to make our own communities long for their deepest, truest, free-est selves.
– “identity politics (especially as expressed by labels and self-stereotyping) is a phase”; knowing and sharing our full and complex selves, our lineages, and our life experiences is part of our path towards healing.
– nonviolent direct action has been and should be a deeply transformational and spiritual practice
– we are warriors in each nonviolent direct action we do – our action is us extending ourselves towards our visions.
– shared and emergent leadership is possible in spaces where we trust each other to stay in community
– we must bring practice – meditation, physical practices, prayer, ceremony, song – into all that we do. we might not call it “practice”, just say let’s breathe together, lets sit in silence for a few moments, let’s get grounded. but we must seek to be our most balanced selves, oriented towards our longing, in every space we share together.

whew. writing up this list rejuvenates me, and i hope it makes sense to you, dear readers.

other things that happened included getting very lost on a muddy pitch-black path in the forest, trying to get to a fire circle. there was a dog, there was the rumor of bear, there were men thrashing out ahead through the bushes, there was a woman who told me to breathe deeply and see it as an adventure, there was my fear and complaints and desire to turn back, my urbanity welling up inside me. but we made it. i learned maps can have a lot of information, but still not get you there. i learned that i can go into the darkness as long as i am with others, and particularly if i can hold another person and feel their breathing.

so – let’s go deep together. let’s practice. let’s go into the dark together, holding each other tight. as angel kyodo williams says, “this is our time.”