Monthly Archive for July, 2009

surviving apocalypse (what i learned at the movies)

i watch and read an incredible amount of science fiction, and am particularly obsessed with the patterns of how communities function when something awful (plague, natural disaster, alien attack) happens.

here’s what i have learned so far:

1. keep necessary information somewhere other than an electronic device. key addresses and directions particularly. phones and computers are the first thing to go and may even turn against you. only alien technology is guaranteed to work.

2. find food fast. and water. generally know where your walkable food store is, and keep a week’s worth of food and water in your home, as most disasters in movies seem to take 3 days to unfold. if something happens in oakland i have my whole foods looting list ready to go!

3. know martial arts, or some other skill, as a mode of self-defense. people quickly deteriorate under the pressures of hunger, thirst and fear, and it’s a good thing to know how to block at a bare minimum, and especially to sweep someone’s feet out from under them.

4. hone your instinct for telling what kind of people you’re with. the best kind of people to be around during an apocalypse are those who stay cool and even funny in crisis. if you have people in your life not like this, why? you’re gonna have to spend the whole crisis talking them down or dying cuz they freak out. upgrade now. maybe all take a martial arts class together.

5. learn what is edible in your neighborhood. after about 2 days the grocery stores will become a zombie-zone feeding frenzy. a secret garden would be the ultimate in preparedness.

6. whiskey/scotch/bourbon has a variety of uses – cleaning, drinking. yeah.

7. boarding up inside your home won’t help, running around during daylight is a certain disaster, and sneaking around at night is a sure bet They will get you. the only real place to wait out an apocalypse is a bunker.

8. pack a little survival bag (octavia fans know where i’m heading with this one): matches in a ziplock baggy, hand sanitizer, a flask of whiskey/scotch/bourbon, a place to write your apocalypse memoirs and something to write them with, a swiss army knife and a towel. hook that bag in some unbreakable way to your person, because you will be blown around or knocked over or attacked and lose all your stuff.

9. it is extremely rare for people of color to survive apocalypses, but if you see someone who looks like will smith, stick with that dude.

10. don’t go by yourself, don’t split up, and don’t let them leave you somewhere. don’t utter or accept the words, “i’ll be right back”. this is not the time for adventures!

as i learn more from my copious research, i will pass it along. in the meantime, pack your bag, stock your cabinets, and pray for peace.

pretty wings

my friend lester wrote a recommendation of me, in some twitter format which i don’t understand, but what i did like was that he talked about merging pop culture and political analysis…that truly is an intersection i love exploring.

if you watch the tone and energy of reactions and responses, the line between political and pop realms becomes so blurred. the passion with which people speak of lou dobbs, rush limbaugh, rachel maddow, obama…line that up with the energy of folks talking about beyonce and britney and brangelina…line that up with folks talking about basketball, football, golf, any sport. it’s all entertainment, content, emotional cues to direct our lives from one reaction to the next. there’s talent of course, brilliance sometimes, natural ability. but a lot of it is cycles. even as we feel a call towards creating the world we want, not railing against these repetitive cycles, its hard to resist the meta-systems…the metaphors cross over so well.

i just listened to this song (maxwell’s “pretty wings”) as a message from impacted communities to the global economy, and it totally works. here are lyrics…

Time will bring the real end of our trial
One day they’ll be no remnants
No trace, no residual feelings within ya
One day you won’t remember me
Your face will be the reason I smile
But I will not see what I cannot have forever
I’ll always love ya, I hope you feel the same
Oh you played me dirty, your game was so bad
You toyed with my affliction
Had to fill out my prescription
Found the remedy, I had to set you free
Away from me
To see clearly the way that love can be
When you are not with me
I had to leave, I have to live
I had to lead, I had to live

Chorus
If I can’t have you, let love set you free
To fly your pretty wings around
Pretty wings, your pretty wings
Your pretty wings around

I came wrong, you were right
Transformed your love in to a lie
(and so on)

try it.

its totally liberating :)

consider it…

consider for a moment that you are not destined for something great – not in the way that we have imagined greatness. your name will not be remembered. no quotes, no recordings, no transcripts, no iconic images, no published journals.

consider that instead of a life legacy of fame, celebrity and followers, your entire purpose is to be part of something greater than any individual. that you are a temporary conduit of the miraculous mysterious unfolding of the entire universe.

would you be a cog in a wheel? a hater? would you commute? gossip? chatter? do things you don’t love? suffer?

visual: a bubble is simply space, air caught, floating through air, space in space. it is beautiful, awesome. it holds within it the same complex miraculous air that is all around it. and then it pops. it lands against some hard surface. it ceases to exist. but the space within it doesn’t cease, it just becomes part of the greater space, pushed by a fan to cool someone’s face, breathed into damaged lungs, transforming, transforming, but always there.

consider: we are like that. fragile and complex and temporary. made of the same stuff as planets, as soil, as oceans. we are heat, like suns, stars, fire. everything that exists, caught in the shell of us, and then the shell is gone, our singularity, our temporary container: poof.

bubbles don’t reason, surely they don’t come into existence and then fling themselves against the world in ways that can only end them…but we do. we reason, and with all of our capacity for dreaming and thinking and wondering and learning, we fling ourselves against each other and the world in ways that weaken our fragile containers.

the little stuff in me that feels familiar is like – pure mediation. there is something within me that feels like the air and space and stuff of mediation. not famous mediation, or celebrity mediation, or even highly paid mediation.

i have been thinking lately of why i don’t have more hustle. i get told often about things i could do to raise my profile, get more people to hear me and follow me. and i consistently have so little interest in that. the ideas that interest me most are not mine, they are collections and collisions of other people’s ideas and observations. i hold the ideas for a while, but the brain with which i process these ideas is far more temporary than the ideas themselves – they existed before me, they will exist and grow after my body and brain are gone.

consider: the world is full of information and experiences, truth and reflections. i see the species coming up with all kinds of ways to process that information – categorize it, label it, own it, store it, share it, be horrified by it, use it to shock and awe, ultimately forget it (how do you interact with…data?).

i can see the temptation of all of that – to feel like it is important to just process all the information coming at us. but sometimes i see that all the information creates patterns and pathways, a way forward, a fusion. sometimes i can see that middle ground of existence, or of organizing methodology, or of humanity, or of life – like a bright purple shell in clear water, or a point in space that is actually a dark hole of transformation. it’s not the opposition, or resistance, or liberalism, or progressive thought, or conservatism, the anarchy, the marches, the elections, the spirit of entrepreneurs, the globalization of every little thing…it’s nothing obedient or reactive at all. it’s where all of those things break out of our definition of them and merge, history happens when all of those forces merge, and it is the fusion that advances through time.

this isn’t to say i am anti-extreme, sometimes all of the energy of the world is tilted towards an extreme and the learnings from our pursuit and survival of that extreme become part of our collective knowledge and values. extremes are more important than mainstreams, because extremes are often compelled into action.

we haven’t yet figured out the way to act/live our values, collectively. we know, for instance, that it is right to at least speak of civil rights, equality, things like that. in practice, this is a generation of inhumane behavior and great inequality. we might as well name prisons after martin luther king, jr considering where black men reside these days. king’s name, his image, his words – they are applied to all sorts of things that have nothing to do with deep and pure nonviolence, with beloved communities, with his life’s work. the ideas he espoused are now carried by his name, not by a deep transformations in the way we are with each other as a mass level. his is one of the many names that we know now, and consider important, people who were only advancing a moment. their truth may or may not hold.

how can we use our reason to learn and live our values? stop floating, and start advancing our existence? if we were really listening, containing the truth of our ancestors and elders, and evolving…consider: what would you do?

how would you interact with your family?
who would you forgive?
who would you love?
what behaviors would you give up?
what practices would you begin?
who would you be?
what would you give?
how would you live?

i know i have considered these questions…
i would practice dependence and independence with my family.
i would compost, recycle, use less water, eat more greens and localize my diet. i would forgive myself for neglecting my body for so long.
i would give up reaction and practice being present.
i would choose love and do love.
i would be physical every day, i would give my time and my ability to mediate.

there is nothing stopping me…i am not angry anymore. i am giving up the hustle and getting into the flow.

consider – what are you being called to? why aren’t you listening?

labyrinth

had a lovely day today with my little sister!

she ran the sf 1/2 marathon (ouch), then we went to get tattoos and massages. the tattoos were her idea, she knew what she wanted, and it looks fantastic. i was inspired, and i have wanted to get a tat while i’m 30, so we reached out and got guidance via twitter on who was the best.

i got the labyrinth, which i first saw in 2000 in the book blue highways. that was a hopi labyrinth, and i connected immediately with the image. since then i’ve seen it in so many places, and traced it back to so many places – recently i learned it roots in my own celtic lineage.

here’s a picture:

adriennes labyrinth

adrienne's labyrinth

as with my other two tattoos, its in my own hand. i found a few images i liked and then drew it in a way that reflected my favorite aspects of each one. its the biggest piece i’ve gotten and i love it. its also deep because the hopi elder prophecy stays in my head all the time. something ancient moving through lines too deep for me to know…

then much needed body rubdowns. i dont even grasp how people can run marathons, much less not go automatically into massage afterwards.

now…sleep!!!

something wonderful

‘i have now a little secret, and it is all mine.
im not sure i’ll keep it, and if it’s free, it is all fine’

i am so happy.

i don’t know what it feels like to realize you are pregnant, but i think it might feel something like i feel right now. i feel really happy, really aligned, really centered, really loved and loving.

there’s a song called “decompose” by op swamp 81 which sounds kind of like it feels inside me. like the letting go of all that isn’t joyful and sacred and balanced in life.

when i go around the world lately, people smile at me and eventually realize that at least for the moment they could be happy, they could smile.

this has distinctly increased since i decided to opt out of the negative-news cycle. it’s not just news, its a whole way of approaching the world. now, i was slipping by the end of this last 12 day facilitation/event period, not enough sleep and meditation to maintain my perspective. its not like some happy go lucky thing. the world is real, its TRAGIC, and i am in it. there are tragic-tragic things happening, and where i can contribute to them i do so. there are tragic-funny things happening like skip gates getting arrested in his house and reminding folks that racism is measured by what is happening to the LEAST privileged, not the MOST privileged…there are tragic things happening that cannot be changed. and then there is everything else, which i feel absolutely in charge of my perspective on, and completely free from trying to control.

but then there’s something else guiding me right now. i don’t think we were put on this planet to react to the behavior, or scandals, or limitations, or evil, or unbearable pain of others. even if we react with wit and cleverness! i think we were put on this planet to create something magnificent, something we yearn for and can’t comprehend. in each moment.

now i feel all this yearning in me, and all this direction, and i don’t feel the doubts i have felt so often in my life. i want to move forward in my life, act and think in a forward direction, stand in ‘forward-stance’.

i think this has to do with being around my nephew and seeing how learning should look.

finn on the economy

finn on the economy

it’s like that – the economy, and the world, falling down and standing up, moving forward and tripping back and then leaping up up up. i don’t think of movement as being politically right at one moment when everything is constantly changing. i think of movement as learning to MOVE with each other, flow like the water that we are, do Love with each other, spiral upwards beyond our own imagining.

the foundation, july 21 2009

wassup y’all – writing live from 5E Gallery. beautiful space full of art, artists and folks who appreciate women’s hip-hop. as usual, it is powerful to see all the men in the house to support. detroit is really showing what it can look like to have a lively, supported women’s hip-hop movement.

they just shouted out the allied media conference! i just had dinner with a bunch of AMC folks – delicious. we also got these short, cheap, amazing massages. this mattered cuz i did 2.5 days of ussf facilittion AFTER the amc!

ok first on the stage is skim, from l.a. – this woman is an amazing lyricist with a beautiful singing voice. she was also incredibly kind to my sister and nephew, so i am a fan of her as a person as well as as an artist. she works with AIM (Alternative Innovation Models) in l.a., doing transformative education work with l.a. youth.

mike medow and finale are behind the bar..i may try to get a free drink out of that…

wow – this is live streaming at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/5-e-gallery so if you really want to experience it, go watch! this will just be my reflections on it :)

now skim freestylin to Yin’s cover of “out in the streets they call it murder” – what’s that song actually called? there is something particularly powerful for me when artists who ORGANIZE speak to revolutionary content in their music. not that i can’t get with artists who stay purely in the artistic realm…but it strikes a deeper chord for me when there is a relationship between the creation and the experience.

piper carter is our hostess, and its real special cause she is floating through the audience, so we just get to hear her voice show up when she’s being the host and then she magically appears on the stage. she was our host for the allied media conference show on saturday night which was magical – featuring starlet, 5ela, and monica blair (who started off with an a capella version of ‘everything must change’). piper got the crowd hyped with the most in-depth regional shout-out session i have ever heard…like – who is from brooklyn, like fulton and jamaica? who is from dc, like u street near howard? everyone in the crowd got shouted out!

ok this is my favorite part – invincible is about to perform! when i listen to her i have to just conclude she is the most gifted lyricist in the world in terms of depth, speed, complexity, and flow. am i biased? whatever… :)

crowd is shouting: “we the shape shifters…y’all wanna see the change, we gotta be the change!”

this is amazing – the band has learned three of invincible’s songs and they performing it live with her – totally shifts the songs up. live music is so fresh with a truly LIVE ass artist! yay my little lyric – i got her “open” with my “southern charms”, :)!

diana nucera and andalucia are in the house from the allied media conference – andalucia worked with prometheus radio to broadcast the AMC as it happened, and now there’s a 1-hr broadcast that encapsulates the whole event! and diana ran the whole how-to media track where folks came out with antennaes, computers, radio stations and the rest!

invincible is about to freestyle, she’s taking words from the crowds – what keeps you going? love, revolution, the underground, detroit, music, community and like 20 more words…now we on our feet receiving the blessing – brb!

-

whew that was delicious – the bgirls and bboys took the end of the freestyle and just flew, sailed, bounced, bopped, slipped, slid, and jitted across the floor. the bboys were from hardcore detroit, who opened and closed the opening keynote of the AMC keynote! crazy to think that the same kind of matter than makes up my bones and flesh is what they use to work a floor out.

now we have d essence, mz jones, miz korona and more comin up! i’ma pay attention, will check back in in a bit!

-

the show is amazing and right now its 100% females in the band and all the rappers up on stage in a massive close-out cypher. the energy is supportive, inspirational, defiant and fully taking control. you should be here.

liveblogging last day of ussf july planning meeting

goood morning!

so there’s a lot to move through today and a shorter amount of time to do it in.

today we hope to resolve these major areas of decisions:
- how program framing, tracks, plenaries, and submission process can happen
- approve budget
- criteria for new working groups and new coordinating team members
- criteria for who represents us internationally
- transitioning into the new structure
- creating and approving a hiring process

ok??

we are having a deep air clearing around class. it’s deep to even try to open the conversation. we are talking about how we build trust in a huge and high pressure situation like this, how to work together. we are trying to strike the balance between how do we have the deep political conversations that need to be had where we learn about each other and our work and our visions and commitments.

we are alive! that was a powerful conversation where the process heads met the content heads, the touchy feely met the doers, the personal experience met the political experience, the needs of the younger generations met the wisdom of the older generations, the assumptions met the reality. just met each other, didn’t get to go all deep. but! we acknowledged there’s a lot to do, and there are suggestions for how we move forward together, primarily: that we commit to moving forward together. feels like a release to actually move forward.

now we are in small groups to come up with proposals for what we need to decide today. we are developing a hiring process, resource mobilization, the practices of the working groups, and the framework of the program.

—-

the small groups process has led us to have a large group conversation around which decisions happen at which level. its a lot of responsibility to figure this out…

— this is too deep for a quick report out – will post more tomorrow!

liveblogging the us social forum planning meeting

good morning!

yesterday the u.s. social forum planning meeting jumped off. this is the second meeting we’ve had, here in detroit, heading towards the us social forum in june (22-26) of 2010.

we began with welcomes, introductions, reviewing the agenda and the way decisions happen. then we spent a good amount of time figuring out the key questions and things to resolve in this meeting. several of the questions are around how staffing and structure works – our ability to answer these questions will ensure that transparency, accountability and effectiveness are real and not just desired.

we got trained in how to use a note taking tool that helps to make the process more collective and transparent – it’s an online shared document we are all editing and chatting as we go, and all the members of the national planning committee can actually see it wherever they are and follow along, be a part of the conversation.

we then covered the political context we’re in. folks spoke up from all the different regions of the country, of the detroit area. it was remarkable to hear how the economic crisis is impacting all of these regions so similarly. folks are facing foreclosures + homelessness on a huge scale. militarization of our young people, our communities and our borders is on the rise. tracing the money shows how the international injustices the u.s. is exacting on other places is very much funded by the funding that is coming out of our communities.

then we all went down to the birthday party of detroit elder grace lee boggs. grace moved to detroit with her husband jimmy boggs, and together they started organizations and moved principles of radical love as a revolutionary process. the room was packed with people who have been impacted by grace.

this morning, we jumped into the international context – what is happening around the world – there are popular uprisings happening in honduras, iran, peru. folks from around the room who had knowledge and relationship with places around the world inputted to build our political knowledge.

then, we created a collective history of how we got to this moment, starting from the world economic forum process, the political response of people’s movements, the world social forums, the regional u.s. forums, the ussf in atlanta, and the build up to detroit.

it’s deep to think back and remember that process, and how many times it really almost didn’t happen or work out, and how much relationships of trust impact the possibility of this kind of massive event happening. there was local trust and involvement that made detroiters come to the table for each other and have deep political conversations around the impact that a ussf could have on detroit, and how detroit could interact with the national organizers in a way that strengthens both.

all of the working groups met together to ask themselves:
- what are your goals?
- whats your 3 month work plan?
- who else needs to be recruited?
- what feedback/directions/decisions do you need from the whole planning committee?
- who are your co-leads (point people for the working groups!)

we shared with each other the feedback/directions/decisions needed from the whole planning committee.

now the afternoon is getting fun. we’re talking about the NPC structure, staff, finance and budget. i need to focus a bit, will keep updating as much as i can!

just went through a fun process with folks to shift the NPC structure, and we approved a new structure! yay!! this will be a more open structure, and a more accountable structure. anyone can put in an application, but the decision making body will be centered around representatives from the working groups. those reps will be chosen by the working groups…and coordinated by folks that are selected just to coordinate. whew!

now on to fiscal policy and budget! we approved 3 new fiscal policies. a major one is that we will have a financial committee to move this area of work. second, fiscal sponsorship will be transferred from project south the the tides center. third, we will have a local account held by an anchor organization. this will insure flexibility and accountability in how our finances flow. whew!

in terms of budget, we approved that we will not go into a deficit this fiscal year, which means tonight a team is going to do budget reduction! tomorrow we hope to finalize staff and approve budget!

now we are speed dating – each of the working groups is meeting with each of the other working groups about what is needed! this is hilarious – each group has 4 minutes to communicate each way! these are verbal folks. :)

tonight is the political-social fundraiser for will copeland, ussf organizer who is dealing with lymphoma. its at 7:30 pm at the central united methodist church, 2nd floor, downstairs from where we’re meeting. should be fun!

a big day, and an even bigger birthday for grace lee boggs

deliriously tired – what a day!

today i premiered my facilitation for truth and reconciliation workshop and it was so deep and enjoyable the feedback was wonderful, i can see how to improve and extend it, and am starting to be looped into a new world of folks who share an interest in this way of applying the ideas of truth and reconciliation to every day life.

then ran around like crazy until the closing keynote, which featured nada elia and andy smith and myself as speakers on ACTION. they were incredible, i was just laughing and smiling and moved. then naomi got up to report on the kids track – she was very serious about being on stage, seeing backstage, and having the mic at the right height. i actually got tears in my eyes at the work they’d been up to – creating a zine and going on outdoor learning experiences. diana show-n-telled about the media track outcomes, at which point someone walked in with a massive antennae created during the conference. jenny talked about the new components forming, including a spanish language track and an indigenous track! things ended in a cypher that was a chance for all the artists in the room to reflect on the weekend.

while the cypher was still happening i had to run out of the keynote and get to the start of the ussf planning meeting, which lasts from now until tuesday. it’s going to be good solid work. we’re using all kinds of high tech and low tech tools, and it is great to work with this facilitation team to help hold the space for organizers from all over the country to set a shared political context and plan for greater impact than an event.

tonight i got to attend grace lee bogg’s 94th birthday celebration – this one was even bigger than the first, by about 500 people, one of whom was danny glover. and once again shea put me on the spot to sing happy birthday and once again i was overjoyed :) the room was packed and hot and happy. people spoke about the massive impact grace has had on their lives, smiles and applause and singing and stories abounded, and it was really a convergence of my detroit folks and the ussf family and the beautiful spent amc folks. as well as my sister and my completely enthralling nephew, who was in total meltdown mode. we spent much of the time going up and down stairs.

**

the one shadow over my weekend is that i responded publicly to someone who chose an inappropriate time, space and approach to indirectly attack someone i love, and cast doubt on the AMC process for planning the keynote. you know when someone is trying to say something that’s on point, but does it in a way that tears someone down instead of lifting everyone’s consciousness up? generally, i care enough to have compassion for people who act in divisive ways, and can at least ignore them. my ego as a conference organizer who had poured so much time and energy into pulling the event off got fluffed up. it’s back down now, and the shadow is gone.

***

my nephew has been the most incredible thing about this weekend. he has come to almost every single space with me and my sister, and he is an amazing and lively and intelligent spirit. he figures things out right before my eyes, has no fear, can easily let go of something bad if something better comes along, and is simply more interesting that adults to me. the weight of him is sacred, his furnace heat when he falls to sleep to lullabies is like sunlight, he has golden hair with a little afro-kitchen up the back, and when he smiles i start laughing uncontrollably.

i have so much respect for his mother, my sister. the level of attention and creative energy that he demands is unlike any other job i have even done, even temporarily. her commitment to radical mothering is fierce! yay to all mothers :)

ok now my eyes are literally crossed. off to bed!

the closing keynote of the allied media conference

(these were my prepared notes – can’t wait to hear what actually came out of my mouth!)

my name is adrienne maree brown, i’m with the ruckus society. we train people in nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience. this is important here because this is a room full of media makers. media without action is simply words, and action with media is loneliness. we must be symbiotic.

this is important also because our history, our trauma, our pain, all of it resides in our bodies. if we do not take action to release it, and to heal, then it stays in there, trapped. direct action puts our bodies into healing. not just to protest, though we can do that well – but to act from our visions.

we’ll be guerilla gardeners. at this time, we should not be asking for permission to live in the world we want to see. stop being obedient. i watched the obama campaign, and we all felt the hope – but that hope should not make us more obedient – that is not gonna keep us safe. we must create our own systems, BE the kind of people we want our children to be, begin to show people what care can look like.

we must, in small and huge ways, EVERY DAY, disobey, stop being polite, and start DOING love, and taking action for the world we want. that is radical love, and i invite you to take action with me.

(i then introduced nada and andy, our closing keynote speakers, who were AMAZING!)

what you have just heard is about transformation. two metaphors. one is the caterpillar to butterfly – the caterpillar goes into the cocoon and becomes goop, almost nothing. and then from that comes a butterfly – there is no DNA overlap that remains, there is nothing in the caterpillar that becomes butterfly, except for the yearning to fly. when we submit to our yearning, we can actually reach what we’re supposed to be.

the other metaphor is the light of the sun, moving down through leaves to live in the heart of the tree, and then we cut down the tree and we burn that wood to release the sun. and that sun shifts shape to be the warmth around which we gather to tell our stories. it releases the fire we use to cook our food and feed our children. and when we need to, we can be a fire that burns down the unjust systems with the light of a new world.

act with compassion. act with redemption. act with awareness, towards truth and reconciliation. we are ready. now. act.