we are the movement generation

wow!

as often happens, i am writing to you in a state of amazement. i just finished the first weekend of the movement generation summer strategic retreats – this weekend was laying out the entirety of our ecological crises, all the stuff i have suspected and felt but didn’t have all the information to back it up. it’s so much worse than i thought, but it really is a transformational and (dareisay) revolutionary comprehension that comes out of having this information, knowing what’s actually happening and knowing what the false solutions are, so that we can be on the right path. the next weekend (in october) will be more about the real solutions we need right now, and what’s already happening.

i took 31 pages of notes, so this is going to be a pretty long post, but i will make it as readable as possible and PLEASE take the time to learn this information and pass it on! i am going to try and capture the key things here – my notes are a jumble of readings, facts, sentiments, a-ha moments, to do lists. hopefully it informs your life and work in some way, though i know it’s hard to capture a live experience in a report back. i’ll do my best.

we were at the occidental arts and ecology center, a gorgeous intentional community which was actually the location of the ‘our power’ action camp that helped to birth the indigenous people’s power project at ruckus. magical, beautiful, education place.

the information was given to us in 5 categories: waste and toxins, water, food and agriculture, climate and energy, and biocultural diversity. we then touched on control mythologies and false solutions, which i will save for a follow-up blog.

readings/things to watch:
Original Instructions, Melissa Nelson
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler (and everything else she’s written)
– Battlestar Galactica
– watch Fresh (documentary on great food systems)
– read Funny Weather

    overview and key terms:

biocyde: death to biology (death to the natural biological growth in an area)
edge: transitions between rivers and land, or different ecosystems.
interior: deep within ecosystems, where an ecosystem is most fully realized (larger predators!)
ecosystem: an entire interdependent system (forest, ocean, HUMAN)

first of all, this age of cars, dvd players, tons of materials, flying all over the place is brief, and peaking. we have been thinking in terms of endless resources – we need to think in terms of being resilient.

fact: you can trace nutrient loss over the last 150 years in california as a result of salmon not making it all the way up to the sierras. their cycle is to go out into the ocean, eat up and get full of rich ocean nutrients, then swim up the rivers to the sierras where they reproduce and then die, leaving all those nutrients there. they used to fill the rivers to such a degree that folks would say you could walk across their backs. when they don’t make it, it depletes the nutrients in that whole region – they are like a 50 pound bag of marine nutrient fertilizer. they aren’t the victim of overfishing, they are the victim of shifting environments which add silt and toxins to the water and make it impossible for them to get up into the sierras.

an example of current non-resilience: the urban southwest. tuscon, phoenix, las vegas, los angeles – once oil can’t pump water to these cities, they will depopulate. what does this mean for organizers on the ground in those places, and the campaigns and victories we’ve been working towards?

fact: we are much more connected than we know – caribbean asthma rates are growing because the size of the sahara is larger and more dust is being picked up and carried by wind across the atlantic. once the glaciers of greenland melts, san francisco, oakland, berkeley and richmond will all be underwater.

fact: the earth has been through many cycles of destruction, and has the capacity to heal – the earth will heal. we are the ones in danger. we are in crisis because we have endangered the earth cycles we depend on.

it’s deeper than pure capitalism – it’s the entire primacy of constant growth. “if the world economy grows at a rate of 3-5% a year from now until 2050 {this is a conservative growth rate for us at this point}, we will have consumed the same amount of resources during that period as we’ve consumed since we started walking on two legs.” – george m…hmm – can’t read that note, i’ll find out and come back to fill it in.

indigenous traditional cultures worldwide have the knowledge of how to care for the places they are in. the thing to understand is that imperialism (constant growth of a nation beyond borders, dirty word folks don’t like to hear but NEED to understand) is based on control…the kind of control that requires erasing the people and traditions in a place in order to implement ownership and a belief system that is better for those in power than it is for people and/or land.

we need to learn to live within the earth’s capacity.

we have to transition to being post-carbon.

we have to begin to think in terms of prosperity, not growth.

it is time to practice cooperative lifestyles and values, collective well being. we’ll need facilitators, mediators, healers, folks who can repair things, folks who create strong systems, folks who are glue in a community.

“we need to grow from a me-centered society to a we-centered society.” – michelle, MG

    WASTE AND TOXINS

gopal and carla (literally two of the wisest, most amazing people i have ever met, and mid-generation members of the ruckus network as well) from MG broke all this down for us:

first, some info on waste!

economy (think home economics) means the management of home and relationship to space/place.

the path of our economy moves from extraction –> production –> distribution –> consumption –> disposal.

we are taught to only see the distribution and consumption parts of it…buy it packaged at wal-mart, take it home and use it, toss in the garbage and it goes ‘away’. we need to be aware of the whole process and the impact it is having on our ecology.

definitions: a long chain exchange is when products come from far away, when we don’t see where the food comes from, who grew it, who packaged it, or where the waste goes when we’re done. a short chain exchange is when the product is local, and we have a direct relationship with the grower, and the waste stays as a part of our local system.

horribly embarrassing moment (not sure how to rank this with the burger king wrapper in my car on the ride home OR the ant infestation in my car on the way to this retreat {i didn’t even know ants COULD infest a car? don’t leave a granola snack in the middle console} OR the two tickets i got trying to get to the retreat on time): we had to own up to how many laptops we have had and i have had an embarrassing 5 laptops since my first job.

but it was designed that way! we learned about “Moore’s Law,” created by Gordon Moore (a father of modern computing), which says “every 18-20 months, computing capacity will either double in speed or drop in price. everything is thus planned ahead and rolled out in 2-3 year computer cycles, endlessly getting faster, smaller and cheaper.”

fact: coltan is a key material in small electronics, and 80% of it comes from the democratic republic of the congo. the current count is 5.4 million fatalities since 1998 by war that is funded and escalated by transnational corporations who benefit from instability in the region.

fact: copper is mined in 1 mile deep exposed tracks. when minerals at that depth are exposed to oxygen (which would never be exposed to oxygen without our interference), it changes them chemically into toxins which can drain into the water.

fact: most factories for electronic manufacturing are in the pearl river valley in china, where the impacts of the toxins are showing up in women’s reproductive systems. particularly dangerous are reproductive toxins, which effect the hormones, and can feminize a population {reducing the number of male births}, and increase miscarriages.

another impact is the use of water. intel is based in albuquerque, and uses 3-4 million gallons of water A DAY from the single fresh water source in the region.

fact: 10% minimum of all waste ends up in the ocean in huge swirling plastic floating garbage piles the size of texas. plastic takes like a billion (not really, just 100 THOUSAND) years to break down, and it doesn’t actually break down to organic materials, just smaller and smaller bits that eventually become part of the food source for ocean dwelling creatures, and those of us who eat them, or eat animals who eat them.

now, disposal paths for electronics lead to landfills or recycling centers (though it’s not unusual for folks to place monitors on the street and just hope someone picks it up. whistle casually if you’ve done this). at the recycling center it is shipped to china, nigeria, malaysia or a u.s. prison where the parts are dismantled for potential reuse. prisons are the number one place where recycled electronics are sent in the u.s. and dismantling is, you guessed it, toxifying for the people doing it.

speaking of toxins!

history lesson: a major increase/introduction of chemicals into our world occurred right after world war ii. about 100 thousand new chemical combinations were introduced to the world at that time – leftovers from war efforts, used for weapons (or gas chamber gases being turned into pesticides!) and now needing a way to be repackaged and used (and profitable) in peace time.

fact: only 10% of these chemicals have ever been tested for environmental impact…we are the guinea pigs.

some science type stuff: most chemicals have the potential to be toxic or non-toxic, depending on how they are bonded with other chemicals. there are relationships that exist in nature that are brilliant, where the chemicals can serve a positive function. however, when tampered with, combined in the wrong ways, or exposed to new elements, they can become toxic.

examples:

a. brominated flame retardants (found in blankets, clothing). this is a family of chemicals based in bromine which can interrupt or interfere with the endocrine (hormones) in our system {leading to feminization of an entire species, tracked by lowering testosterone levels}. think of endocrine disrupters as tiny estrogen pills. the number one place where this chemical family is found is in children’s freakin’ pajamas – that means directly on their skin!! this is what happens when we think of solutions without thinking of whole people on the receiving end. :(

b. thallates. thallic acid is a toxic chemical compound that is combined with plastics to make them softer, more flexible, more durable. these are found in the coatings of pharmaceutical pills (THAT YOU SWALLOW), glue, lubricants, and (super sad) sex toys! and food products!! thallates don’t make a true bond with the plastics, after a while they “off-gas” (literally transform into or release gas in the air – think of the smell in the $1 store and imagine that inside of you). luckily, these are being phased out.

this whole system of extracting materials from the ground in unsustainable ways, producing them with unjust practices that put out high levels of pollutants, distributing them thousands of miles away, selling to consumers in tons of packaging, and then being whisked away to be disposed of in horrific ways – this is called a resource intensive production system…aka – RIP!

we did an exercise where we had cut outs of people to represent the communities we work with, and we had to place them along the RIP path. it was deep to see who was impacted by extraction – indigenous communities who are displaced from their land. participants talked about how their folks work in production factories and are impacted by pollution near production sites (for instance, the chevron refinery in richmond which we are doing an action on August 15th!). we placed our communities as the employees of distribution sites such as wal-mart, and of course all of our communities are trained to be active consumers – we believe what we are sold! and when it’s all said and done, the waste is dumped into landfills in our communities.

after this first presentation we were all shaken and devastated. and we’d only just begun.

    WATER

our presenter was a delightfully brilliant dude named brock. this presentation had a few more solutions in it, and overall reminded me of the beauty of water – water as us, water in us. here are some of the stand out parts of this presentation:

it would be more appropriate to call this planet water, as opposed to planet earth. water is the unique life force here. the water we have is all the water we ever have had or will have. we get an allowance. of all the water on the planet, only 1% of it is freshwater. of that, we have already polluted half. FAIL.

our water system is solar driven (yay sun!). the sun warms up the ocean, lifting water up as gas, which freezes into glaciers of ice and then melts down into rivers, streams, lakes, ponds…fresh water. its a totally natural, cyclical, desalination process.

science stuff: water is a polar molecule, featuring a positive in oxygen and a negative in hydrogen. it’s sticky – it can stick to other water molecules. it can be a solid, liquid or a gas. (AWESOME! nothing else does this!) water cools in its transition from solid to liquid, and liquid to gas.

brock showed us images of water patterns present in brains, capillaries, lungs, streams, clouds. water is an “elucidator of flow” wherein form follows function. the sun and the moon move water around the world, leading to high tides two times a day. water and earth are in a constant dialogue. humans are impacted by these waves too – isn’t that nice?

so…where do we fit into that larger dialogue? every living thing is mostly water. our existence is carbon/sun based, but water moves everything. for our lives – air security comes first, water security comes second, and food security comes third.

“we are bipedal sacks of saline solution.” – brock

“water is the primary measure of how we live on the land.” – luna leopold

loved this: evian = naive. hopefully you know this already, but bottled water is wholly unregulated, and is 2000-3000 times the cost of tap water, which IS regulated. what water companies understand is that whoever owns and sells water controls life.

so right now, the planet is trying to cool down from the CO2 (carbon) blanket we have been building around it, hence we see the changing of glacier ice to water and water to gas. because of these changes, within 75 years our california water source (mt. shasta) will be liquid…not regenerating and melting to give us fresh water in a natural cycle. thirsty = dead. :(

definition: we learned the term positive feedback loop – so basically a change that directly speeds up future changes. for instance, sun bounces off of white solid mass, but gets swallowed by dark liquid. the more the glaciers melt, the more dark water there is, the less cooling bouncing off of solids, the faster the glaciers melt.

boss move: china did a water grab when it got tibet and the himalayas – tons of fresh water.

one quote we were given is that “you can’t protect what you don’t understand.”

but now that we understood more, brock showed us some beautiful solutions!

the main solution is to live within your “watershed”. a watershed is basically the entire water system from glaciers atop mountains down to the deltas where the water reaches the ocean. so – how do we repattern life around a watershed?

we have to shift from a “drain age” to a “retain age”. right now good fresh water drains off our roofs into gutters into pipes into lakes or the ocean. (folks say they don’t want to interact with rain water cuz there’s so much pollution – brock said: “try breathing”) is we retained water from our roofs in catchment systems (like they do in bermuda, for instance) so each home/building was water sufficient, that would be a major shift. water would drain from our roofs into containers where it could be naturally filtered, and then we could use it to water gardens, do laundry, flush toilets, take showers. we could run the water through bio-filters – gardens with fungus in there that would snip the hydro carbon bond and clean the water right up.

parking lots could be redesigned so that water runs off into natural growth areas on the side as opposed to down a drain in the center. in seattle they are redesigning streets to redirect water in ways that greens the neighborhood, supports gardening, and slows down the run-off, saving more water. in LA, treepeople have created water catchment systems under lawns that can actually meet all the needs for a block of homes. in china there were examples of setting up gardened walkways down the center of toxic urban waterways, and the plant systems literally detoxifying the water! we could have fog catchers to catch and drain fresh water!!

in our homes, put a 5 gallon bucket in the shower while the water heats up, or in the sink while laundry water is draining, and use that to flush the toilet! another super easy move to make a toilet more efficient is to put a closed container of water into the toilet. then, you save 6 or 8 or 16 oz of water each time the toilet is flushed.

we used a composting toilet there, like we do at ruckus camps. these things are mindblowing when you start to realize that all the money spent on fertilizers is a total marketing of stuff we produce naturally. our poop – yes poop! – can become a wonderful rich fertilizer, improved by us eating healthy whole organic diets. again not something we should be shipping away to massive processing units.

he even showed these urinal composting things that were basically garbage bins with a urinal on the side. diluting the urine 10 to 1 creates a great fertilizer. i’m not there yet, lol, but EVERYthing has a purpose.

this session ended on a very inspiring, wholistic note.

    “the earth is a living thing – you have to give it love.” – the greening of cuba

that evening we watched ‘the greening of cuba’ (order a copy: 800 274 7826). amazing story of how when the world turned it’s back on cuba, cuba became a increasingly super innovative agrarian society extremely fast. i was deeply reminded of detroit, and wondered if we can ever hope to reach that level of change without total crisis.

    FOOD AND AGRICULTURE

michelle from movement generation led us on this journey, starting with what food is: land, community, culture, health, meaningful work, life

facts:
– less than 1% of the u.s. population are farmers…there are more prisoners than farmers. farmers were 1/3rd of our population in 1930.
– most of the world’s farmers are women!
– the world has 1 billion farmers to feed 6 billion people.
– people in the u.s. spend less of our total resources than anyone else in the world on food, about 12%. the cost for that cheap food is that our health problems are on the rise from over exposure to corn, soy, processed food and livestock grown in unhealthy conditions. cheap food leads to less bio-cultural diversity, less water, more climate change, and tons of waste and toxins (many from growing food where it’s not supposed to be).
– breast milk is the first place where most of us, and our children, interact with the primary toxins of our lives (that said, its still the healthier more natural option than formula, if it is an option for you).

here’s a devastating food system process that’s in place in the u.s. right now: imagine illinois, iowa…all that corn. 92% of the corn grown in this country is from genetically modified seed already!! these require tons of water and synthetic pesticides (only sold by the same folks who sell you the genetically modified seeds). toxins from this genetic corn production seep into the mouth of the mississippi. the majority of this corn (99%) is grown to feed all the livestock animals that are “grown” along the mississippi in little cages. these animals poop out the genetically modified, processed corn toxins which leach into soil and water and continue down into the gulf coast delta area. all of that has created a moving deadzone in the gulf where the chemical combination has killed every living thing; the bottom dwellers (shrimp, catfish) die from toxins, and then everything else that eats them either dies or has to go elsewhere to eat. everything IS connected.

(the reminder throughout all of this is that there are solutions, that the earth can revive from this, there are things we can do…)

more facts:
– only 0.1% of applied pesticides reach the desired pest. 99.9% are just out there hitting non-target creatures, such as bees (our pollinators, a creature fundamental to our survival) or frogs (disappearing, or being born with extra legs).
– 16-19K farmers in India have been committing suicide every year because their debts are so high after seeding and planting genetically modified monocrops* (like wheat in the punjab) which destroyed their land for other crops, and they have no option out of their contracts with the seed seller.

* (immediate footnote!) monocropping is a huge dangerous practice – growing one crop in land which ends up wiping out native species and displacing the people who know what to grow on the land (you learn by being on the land for generations – most of us in the room have been stolen from the land we knew, or that land has been stolen from us).

back to facts:
– average person in the u.s. uses 2000 liters of oil to supply their food. that’s a lot. (also learned that average u.s. citizen uses over 130 gallons of water a day, while there are folks in the world getting by on 2 gallons a day.)
– current agricultural practices contribute 20% of the total global climate change impacts.
– the crisis is not some time in the future, people are already dying because of climate changes impacting weather, pests, water. to survive, the planet needs diversity – rotating crops, protecting and nourishing the soil.
– 40-50% of the world’s land is used for agriculture, and 30% for livestock.
– we rely on 8 crops for 75% of the world’s food!
– the danger of monocropping can be seen in the irish potato famine. the irish were only growing 2 kinds of potatoes – when one was wiped out, there were no other options.
– genetically modified foods are also so cheap that they outsell local organic food in markets like oaxaca, where corn is originally from. sadly, once you sign a contract to buy genetically modified seed, you are locked into agreements such as not saving the seed, but buying it again the following year. the monocropping damages the soil and ecosystem such that it’s hard to switch off of the genetically modified crops. monsanto is the seed selling demon company – they have actually sued farmers on neighboring farms because genetically modified monsanto seed caught on the wind and mixed with the neighboring farm’s crop!

my thought at this point was: we want crops, not crap.

two particularly dangerous areas to watch are agri-fuels (also called biofuels) and the scramble to buy up land. redirecting land use from growing food for people to growing food for cars leads to situations where people are lined up for subsidized cooking oil while tons of resources from their area are shipped away for cars. in small local use, biofuels that are gathered from waste can be a good thing, but scale it up and it’s quickly anti-human.

the international scramble for land means that huge areas in africa, the middle east, south korea and elsewhere are being bought to grow genetically modified foods…it’s a new colonialism.

thinking comparatively: a single patty burger sold for a buck in the u.s. equals the entire grain and protein needs of three people in india.

it’s like this: we’re now in a situation where there are people working on two second timers on sandwich assembly lines to make sandwiches for starbucks. everyone is seeing one small part of a massive system that is not serving our health.

even how our health is assessed is not a complete picture – science can be flipped to mislead us. a whole health assessment that covers a much broader spectrum of nutrients than the FDA leads us to choices that are better for people and the planet.

so what needs to happen?

in a nutshell: we need to shift from being cogs in a wheel to feed others –> to being in communities where we feed ourselves. it’s not a situation of going back to old ways, but rather taking back practices and land that we are all from and having healing relationships with land. we need to make the social relationships of food transparent – who grows it, who harvests it, who packs it, who transports it, who cooks it. we are kept in the dark about the whole process of our food.

we need to blend rural understanding of food/economy/ecology into urban solutions (like Detroit has begun to do!).

this was the first part of the presentations where i started crying. the way all these systems have been developed without us and against us is so overwhelming.

i hope you’re still reading, i know this is long, but this is information we need in order to start making better choices in all aspects of our lives as individuals, organizations, communities, families.

CLIMATE/ENERGY

jason and gopal hit us with this one-two punch.

first things first, global warming is the wrong term for this moment. climate change even suggests something more incremental than what we are facing. climate disruption or chaos is more accurate.

we’ll be talking about greenhouse gases – the gases that create the atmospheric blanket over our heads. carbon is 1st of these heat trapping gases. they showed us this effect with an aluminum style hat – once you put it on, the heat on your head has no where to go and your body starts to sweat to cool off. the planet is doing that.

important fact: there is a 40-70 year lag effect in the temperature increase of the planet. the skyrocketing impacts we’ve measured recently are the results of our lifestyle in the 1960s. compare the pollutants and energy use of the 60s to now to get a sense of the future we have set in motion.

feel this: consider that every 20 years (even with the kyoto protocol in place for the last 10 years) we have doubled the entire fossil fuel consumption of known history. like…all use from the ice age till the 1940s is one number. that total number doubled by 1960. that total number doubled by 1980. and so forth.

peak oil is often mentioned, but peak oil won’t stop our destruction of ourselves…its not the end of oil, just the peak, the moment when what we have to use starts to decrease.

we can see the atmospheric impact of our actions every single year.

just like us, climate science is nonlinear and unpredictable. there isn’t a clear 1-1 cause and effect, most of the effects are exponential.

earlier we talked about positive feedback loops. the melting was one example – the greenland glacier now dumps enough fresh water into the ocean each day to provide all the water needs of london or ny.

another piece to understand in this equation is tipping points. a tipping point is a point of runaway change. it’s the moment when you no longer have to push a ball up the hill cause it has tipped over the top and is racing downhill. it will eventually find a new stability, but the rush may not be survivable.

we appear to have reached a tipping point in glacier arctic ice – watching a quick slide show from 1979 to 2007 shows the rapid increase of melting and near disappearance of summer (permanent) ice. this disrupts migratory paths for land and sea animals, many of which are the primary food source for people.

another example is the permafrost – the frozen tundra of siberia is melting. under this is tons of methane gas, which, if released, would lead to a quick, abrupt impact. there would be no recovery from this sort of impact, only rebalance and new life. after the ice age, we were the new life form, for instance – it was catastrophic for the major species of that time. this would be a catastrophic tipping point for humanity.

another amazing thing about earth: earth is designed to store excess carbon, naturally (we call these spaces carbon sinks) – that’s what oil and coal are! we have decided to disrupt that storage process, which is supposed to keep the atmosphere in balance, and go get that exact carbon and release it into the atmosphere. THIS IS SO NOT A SMART MOVE. other carbon sinks are the ocean, forests – forests are like lungs for the planet. the loss of forests is another tipping point to watch.

we were reminded again here that life and the planet will survive. it is human survival that we are discussing. uplifting reminder?

we did an amazing exercise at this point, where we each chose a person, people, or animal to represent, and get into a circle. gopal read off a variety of climate impacts, and we had to step forward if our person/animal was impacted. i was a fox – foxes have showed up repeatedly in my life at key moments and i feel them. we all ended up squished in the center. this was so sad – everyone was so deeply impacted.

but then we had to reach across the circle and grab two different hands. this turned us into a giant knot. our task was then to – still holding on – unknot ourselves. we did so quickly.

knowledge is power. change is possible.

but enough of that hopeful stuff…ENERGY:

jason showed us all of the energy sources being developed in the world – crude oil, heavy oil (like the tar sands of canada), natural gas, coal, nuclear, solar, hydroelectric. currently, 12 countries own 90% of all the known oil in the world. the u.s. is either an ally, at war with, or in control of each of the other 11 nations.

the solutions at this point are to ramp down crude oil and coal fast – no new coal, oil or gas. stop extracting heavy oil, declare a moratorium on nuclear because the costs and potential weapon danger is so high, use some hydroelectric, and increase our end use efficiency (be smarter and more conservative with our energy use). we also need to explore the real possibilities of solar, wind, tidal, geothermal. additionally, we have to ramp down general consumption in the 1st world, think in terms of locally appropriate solutions, and demand that polluters pay the transition.

and we fundamentally recognize that these real solutions are not currently politically viable right now. that is our work.

the final piece of the puzzle was BIOCULTURAL DIVERSITY

my friend melissa nelson came to present this section. she is an amazing woman who is also developing a path around having a multi-racial background and a call towards reconciliation work. we met through the center for whole communities and i am always excited to see her.

she defined biocultural diversity as the diversity of life in all manifestations – biological, cultural, linguistic – within a complex socio-ecological adaptive system.

the key idea is that we are part of one living system. that system relies on diversity of indigenous knowledge systems and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) as well as cultural productions such as food, art, medicine, clothes, homes, etc.

she reminded us that our oral traditions carry memories from before the ice age, and then shared with us a quote from wade davis, that the “ethnosphere is more important than the biosphere, because without the ethnosphere we won’t know how to CARE for the biosphere.”

we have to pay attention to emergent properties, symbiosis and synergy – think of ourselves as entwined, entangled, braided, inextricably linked. the “whole is greater that the sum of it’s parts.” think of biocultural diversity like having a whole alphabet to write with from all experiences of the world – our full wisdom.

“the beauty of things was born before eyes, an heartbreaking beauty will last after there are hearts to break.” – robinson jeffers, poet.

melissa mentioned the puget sound canoe gathering which ruckus heard about during the localize this action camp on vashon island. very exciting relearning and practicing of known ways.

a great danger to us is “monocultures of the mind,” as vandana shiva says.

note: folks used to be more multi-lingual – knowing only one language is isolating, but not having a common language can make it hard to organize regionally, beyond borders. this is complex – how many languages do i know? 1.

there are lots of stories in the land that we have forgotten how to read – animals, their scat (poop!), storms, ancient writing, soil, clouds, stars.

melissa reminded us that old sayings have deep meaning if we try to understand them:

“walking the shoreline,” an old ojibwe saying, encompasses walking the literal line between water and land, also between movement and stillness, conscious and unconscious.

another saying, “the moon is in the sky,” means she will always be there.

it is hard to have to use the language of our colonizers to express liberatory ideas and ancient wisdom. but we all have wisdom, we are all from some place, and together, all of us have to learn again, and practice what david brower called CPR for the planet: “Conservation, Protection, Restoration”.

we have to change from seeing “resources” to seeing “relatives”. all our relations – the entire world as we know it. we are not moving backwards, but we are re-indigenizing, moving forward to new-old traditions and knowledge of how to live.

at this point i asked a question which always comes up for me – what about those of us who have been so displaced from our original location that we literally don’t know where we are from, don’t know our songs, our histories, our traditions?

melissa said, “you are fully you, and you are re-indigenizing every day.”

carla broke it down on such a deep level, which i had heard before but never with such an open heart: “your displacement and all that was taken from you, the systemic breakdown of the connection between you and your homeland, that IS your heritage. your ancestors were punished, silenced, displaced, sold, lost – that IS your indigenous experience.”

this was another point of grief, and mourning. it also opened up deep conversations with the other african and african-american folks there…”we weren’t kings and queens…we were farmers! just like everyone else!!” this was exciting, this placed us in the story of our unknown but present ancestors.

there was time to go out in nature and reflect on what our relationships were to the planet. in spite of tons of changes i have made, i wrote up a pretty devastating self-assessment that included deep explorations of my fear, the damage i do, my yearning for a better relationship, my learned classism around who has relationships to the earth and who doesn’t.

i landed, as i always do, on love. my love for the planet has inspired so many changes already, and i know more changes are coming. i feel that i am stardust, earth, water. to reclaim terminology, i feel that the earth is a brilliant symbiotic and beautiful, organic and logical technology, as am i – balanced systems to process matter, data, energy, spirit.

computers are a technology to support humanity thus far…are humans a technology to support the planet and be supported?

we can be. clearly we are in super glitch mode, which might even lead to a total meltdown of the mother-machine that we don’t survive. but love can give us the capacity to see the error of our ways, and humble ourselves to a new reality in which we get to do liberatory work, have meaningful roles, prosperity, health…

in order to do this we must understand the underlying assumptions that have allowed us to get this far. i want to write a whole separate blog on control mythologies (assumptions/stories we are taught which make us easier to control, like: Lincoln freed the slaves {no social movement, just benevolent leadership}, Christopher Columbus discovered America {it was barely inhabited, by people who didn’t deserve to have it, it was for us}, or the American Dream {keep working hard as an individual and you will accumulate material wealth and that will make you happy}) because it is so deep to name these and begin to release them and develop/remember creative mythologies, sustaining mythologies.

although the information was so devastating that i found myself several times sitting with someone else with tears in our eyes wondering why we even thought our small work could matter, i left the weekend feeling like i’d just gotten a massive upgrade in my capacity to envision and execute real solutions. i feel more committed than ever to deep transformation of myself, my family, my organization, my communities. i feel more committed than ever to measuring scale in terms of DEPTH and quantum leaps towards sustainability, rather than broad shallow reforms that slightly delay catastrophe.

we are the ones we’ve been waiting for…we are the movement generation!

6 Responses to “we are the movement generation”


  1. 1 greg gerritt

    Really appreciate this entry. There is much work to do to keep life on earth healthy.

  2. 2 cripchick

    thanks for this!! a few RWOC have told me to watch battlestar galactica but never why… is there a lot to learn from it?

  3. 3 Adrienne

    hey cripchick!! yes battlestar galactica is amazing to see what a potential militarized apocalypse scenario could look like, and how valuable and necessary EARTH is to our existence. its invigorating, shocking, sad, inspirational.

  4. 4 Inno

    Nice recap of the depth of the many problems we face. Inspirational stories of working solutions (besides global revolution or personal change by every sentient being) to be discussed in part 2, I hope? :)

  5. 5 Candidcat

    Thank you for this amazing summary of what seems to have been a very well thought out event. I’ve been working on issues of bringing an end to environmental degradation for more than 25 years, and am familiar with the dire situations you wrote about. But I felt so moved by the way you brought both the facts and your personal experience (e.g., the 5 laptops, the foxes) into the story. Your work matters, please keep going with it!! The efforts take a long time to see success — when I was a teenager, people thought I was strange for trying to recycle newspapers, but now it’s part of the culture to set aside such easily re-usable materials. Not to say that this is sufficient, just that it’s important to take the long view, do all we can today, and inspire the next generation. Thanks again.

  6. 6 Sharmaine Durkee

    Interesting, very interesting, I just hope I knew english better to understand 100%, Grazie Mille Ciao

  1. 1 Movement Generation Solutions at adrienne maree, the luscious satyagraha

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