Monthly Archive for June, 2010

movement moments

i don’t have long but i wanted to say hello to you all – we are past the halfway mark today and things are going beautifully. i have to reflect with you on the movement moments i have been having, and what i have been learning.

movement moments happen in small rooms, or from stages – in one on one interactions of solidarity and in the logistics of taking care of people.

in the past few days, i have gotten to help a woman named cecilia whose wheelchair broke on the first day, learning to care for her in ways that protect her dignity and independence.

i had the honor of facilitating a 7am conversation in which the us social forum national planning committee, through the coordinating team, made the historic decision to cancel a workshop which violated our principles. i got to see the look on the face of persecuted people when we choose solidarity over safety.

i have gotten to watch barriers fall down as the ruckus team supports action after action for local detroit communities.

i have seen people step up to take care of children, water, confusion – watched folks shift roles in order to resolve crisis.

i have seen grace lee boggs be celebrated for her 95th birthday – and i got to sing to her! her idea that every crisis is an opportunity for something new to be created, for solutions, that idea has helped us make it through this event.

and we have made history through our logistics. we have had a plastic-water bottle free event, and even got the cobo convention center to agree not to sell bottled water, to be in alignment with this vision. we have also learned a lot about the practical ways to move that strategy better in the future.

we have had all gender bathrooms and made it a clear policy and commitment. we also learned how important it is to have signs up.

i have been humbled by how much people want to support this effort, and how tirelessly people can work when they are believers in a larger vision, a something beyond capitalism, a something beyond profit.

i have also been held and healed. i particularly want to thank susan, who gave me a craniosacral treatment last night, and charity, anjali and cara for making that possible. i want to thank mike and jenny and diana for making the overwhelming pile of recycling in my home disappear. i want to thank ashindi for bringing me cookies, sharon and megan for being so fucking incredible at leading ruckus, ruckus for being MVPs to all the folks in this city i love.

it’s not over yet – today i get to be a part of more history as i co-facilitate the ecojustice people’s movement assembly. our intention is to hold the full length of our ancestral lineage in the room with us as jump the broom towards a whole thinking approach to planet, people and justice. i am ready.

love to everyone i have interacted with, whatever my state was at that moment.

Ten Lessons from Years of Activism In Detroit Community Struggles and International Solidarity And “Lessons in Grace,” a Poem Celebrating the Life of Grace Lee Boggs

Ten Lessons from Years of Activism
In Detroit Community Struggles and International Solidarity
And “Lessons in Grace,” a Poem Celebrating the Life of Grace Lee Boggs

By Gloria House, Ph.D. (aka Aneb Kgositsile)
Presented at the Panel on Detroit Movement History
United States Social Forum
COBO Convention Center, Detroit
June 23, 2010, 6:30 p.m.

1.Your priorities for struggle arise out of the deepest aspirations, hopes, needs of the people with who you are united. These deeply felt needs and aspirations provide the powerful energy for revolutionary struggle, and they offer greatest capacity for generating qualitative change in social conditions.

2.Work with those most severely injured by the recklessness of imperialism and the effects of the global economy as we are experiencing them currently. With our brothers and sisters who are suffering most, we will be able to correctly identify the priorities of our work.

3.Respect the cultural, religious and spiritual realities and allegiances of the people with whom you are working. These important characteristics of the community will influence the forms the struggle will take. Stay true to those cultural realities. Stay indigenous, stay local. Remain rooted in the culture(s) of the people with whom you are working. This rootedness and deep understanding of the struggles of the community where you are will prepare you to be truly in solidarity with distant, international struggles. Avoid imposing imported ideas/formations from other situations. Then watch closely to see how in your daily practice established cultural patterns will be modified, will evolve into new forms that respond to the current needs of the community. Study the new genres and directions being created by the youth. Examine with them which new directions lead toward a higher humanity, which do not.

4.Remain independent and self-determining. Avoid corporate/foundation funding if possible. These funds require/influence you to conform to others’ interests and expectations.

5.Protect and secure the children – through alternative educational processes designed to free their minds and prepare them to be creators of a new world; through determined actions against police brutality, war, and militarization of our cities; through working for food security and decent housing.

6.Build principled alliances and collaborations. Require the powers (transnational corporations and ruling class) to fight on many fronts at once.

7.Allow for human weaknesses such as egotism among our fellow activists, but when enough is enough, say so!

8.Work for balance in your personal life and in your community. Don’t wreck your health by assuming that you have to do more than you can manage. However, when you commit, try to follow through. Be reliable.

9.Love and protect those who stand by you, and send out love to universe through affirmations, and by living mindfully, aware of our relation to and dependence upon the natural world. The love will come right back.

10.Trust that no matter how insurmountable a social change task appears, there are ways to resist and to eventually create alternative ways of living. Though the impact of the global economy of the transnational corporations has dismantled vital aspects of our cities and communities world-wide, remember that the wrecked terrain that has been left offers us a field of opportunity for rethinking, recreating, claiming a higher quality of human life. Of course, this requires our greatest effort of collective work and responsibility, of hope, and of unswerving faith in the people’s ability to make “a way out of no way!”

Lessons in Grace
(For Grace Lee Boggs,
Chinese American Revolutionary, on Her 75th Birthday)
by Aneb Kgositsile

Face like stone sculpture,
Features rounded, softened by the wind.
The flesh concedes to weathering,
but the eyes will not relinquish
their keen measuring of the world
where you have chosen
to put down roots.

From you we learn
the costs of commitment,
the clarity of courage;
how, even, to withstand the trivia
that assails a spirit in search of sanity.

You are the lesson of balance, grace:
where to invest
to forward battle or fashion beauty,
where to withhold;
bold when strength is wanted,
silent when words are futile;
knowing when to be gentle
because there is pain,
where to object
because there is deceit.

Your work
inscribes this terrain of human striving
for those
who would travel the road
you have braved.

You planted your life
in African American soil.
Now it seems
China and Africa
are married in you.
The example of your life
weds us to the whole world.

From Shrines, Third World Press, Chicago, 2003.

the octavia symposium (aka: not faster caterpillar – butterfly!

yesterday was one of the best days of my life. i hosted my (the?) first ever octavia butler symposium to create a strategic octavia butler reader for social justice visionaries.

it was incredible…i want to place the raw notes here so we all have them. i will craft these into a strategic reader which will live here on the blog till it finds a new home. Enjoy the transcript of our magic geeky time together :) Below that is a list of related creations to consume.

========

adrienne’s words:

want to uplift some key themes for me from each of these books that are relevant for us in the movements for social justice.

the parable series shows us the apocalypse, and then the agricultural and spiritual solution, and then the true smashing of almost all vision, and – to me the most important part – the zapatista-style person to person relationship building that maintains and spreads the vision.

the patternist series shows us two beings, good and evil, who are basically immortal and thrust together simply by the shared experience of not dying. their offspring are a race of telepaths who illuminate the digital divide of new forms of communication (even if they are organic), the elitism that can come with communication, and the power of networks and relationship.

the xenogenesis series (also known as lilith’s brood), is about the key question – what is necessary about humans? do we deserve to exist? what would we do to survive and what elements of our species are worth preserving. this is after we have destroyed earth, another species (more advanced) picks us up and begins to integrate us into their physical and cultural existence.

it’s also the series that has the most evolved vision on a near darwinian level of what works for survival – organic creation and building, zero waste, networked families instead of 2 parent households, things we need to pay attention to.

i won’t do too much on kindred here, or fledging, or survivor (which octavia took out of print and didn’t want us to read. and it was awesome.) simply because they are not part of series where we can see the arc of lesson flow.

blood child and other stories is an important collection of short stories – first for the essay on how being a writer is about persistent practice much more than raw talent.

also, the story in there about people digging and gouging at themseves makes me think of how we dig and destroy our selves, our organizations, our movements. how can we redirect that intense energy into creativity?

fishbowl conversation: Developing the Intro for the Octavia Butler Strategic Reader.

(here we placed 4 chairs in the middle of the room and asked a few questions – there were no lulls in this conversation :) )

Why is Octavia Butler strategic/important to your work?
- seeing a strong dynamic powerful black leader was important
- we had an eternal summer of the black feminist mind on octavia butler…everything we read has the question – are you willing to be transformed? [even past human?]…its not a cooler version of what you were, its something completely new. its important because it’s transformative. caterpillar to butterfly – not fast caterpillar, BUTTERFLY
- she provides me with a place of rest – her work IS her, she can teach me things, i can melt into her…
- in most of her books there’s a capitalist mistake that leads to something new. corporate medicine leaked into water makes smart people empaths – the empaths that are an underclass in the parables.
- often in her stories the protagonist meets an older woman/mentor who wasn’t supposed to live. and they name explicitly that because of who we are and what we do, we can’t work together, we even hate each other…for my political work this yields the lesson of how to rise above ‘shit’ and honor different territories and shared skill for the greater goals of the work
- people long for the apocalypse (or revolution) – folks are always waiting for it to get really bad before they change….octavia shows what its like to get thru the bad, and then it gets worse, and gets worse. a cycle of apocalypse. resilience (not as a word to throw around) is what it is to go thru the cycle of apocalypse with your visions intacts.
- how does octavia relate to disability? how does it become a strength – and what does the agricultural vision from many of her works mean for folks who can’t farm 8 hours a day?
- when we think about priorities and class – i’m thinking about healing and class. what does it mean to FEEL oppression, vs folks who are more insulated. how is that a liability and a resource? she walks many paths with it.
- she’s all about the dry run – as a campaigner i always ask how would [that] look? she takes us on a pageant play of what the iterations of the apocalypse are gonna look like. i wake up at night thinking of the image of the 16 year old girl and her folks roasting a baby on a spit. we’re going on a journey, and we’re seeing all this suffering – and its our responsibility to go to the stars. we can’t solve every problem. how do we take from these lessons, and survive?
- when you talk about going to the stars it makes me relate to…how we relate to colonization…at the expense of what people, what means? i feel octavia is asking – do humans need to be here? its a hard question. if its about survival, and we see ourselves as connected – is this species one that needs to survive? connected – she asks hard things about incest and age. this really disturbed me when i read her – how we don’t talk about hurt and power differentials – childhood sexual abuse (gen 5 and others are thinking about this)…how do we see non-consensual acts that create other things that people use and find helpful…

why octavia (as or not as sci fi) now [at this current moment, in the age of sb1070, the flotilla, economic crisis, technological advances]?

- i think we are in a spiritual awakening, looking at what our society could be in a spiritual realm. she holds that space for us
- i think when u bring up the apocalypse, its not science fiction, its happening. especially what she writes in the parable.
- the guiding philosophy that lauren (olamina, from the parables) has in her life is that god is change – that gives me strength. the only thing i can count on is change, so how to be of use at a time like this?
- what she presents forces me to face my deepest fears…like, when the apocalypse comes we will have to walk. that scares me. when i moved to oakland from the midwest i had to wrestle w/what about when the apocalypse comes and i can’t walk to ohio to see my family?
- i think the issues are timeless. when she wrote them she was forecasting. and some of what she has written about has come to pass. if we continue on this path this is how it will look.
- she writes from the perspective of the marginalized, often first person. they are dealing with gangs on the highways and border control ["no one wants california trash"] – really personalizes it: how do u feel?
- i want to put in a pitch for science fiction. its a great gateway – i am always looking for anti-racist and postcolonial thought. this world is so vaster and more beautiful and has more potential than we give credit to it – if that wasn’t true we would have no hope for the social movement work we are doing now. octavia is only one of the writers who approaches this work.
- octavia draws into play: if there’s all that magic in the world why don’t we use that potential? there’s the potential of all the characters – they have these powers. its not just the apocalypse, her protagonists have the potential to destroy as much as save their communities.
- its weird that its labeled as science fiction – her work brings up race, gender, sexuality…how do we deal with living in a world where folks in some places actually ARE eating babies – and how do we deal with our comfort?
- introduces us to the power of stories of the future. we’re trying to look into stories of the future in our organizing – to see what obstacles we’re trying to create. it allows us to role play. things are complicated, folks don’t act the way you want them to – her work is complicated. there’s many reasons the characters fail, many reasons they succeed, all those reasons are human.
- if u can imagine it u can build it – she lays blueprints for social change. also – the digging – people have loads of creative energy…what would it look like to release our creative potential? [self-critics and haters particularly]
- i came to her as a sci-fi fan, not knowing she was a black woman, she was in the sci-fi ghetto. the power of sci-fi is – if u wrote a novel about detroit, people have all these expectations {oh this a race analogy, and poverty, etc]. but if you take it out of that context, there’s a suspension of disbelief that allows you to get at issues without peoples’ walls going up. it IS a parable, it is an allegory, and it fits into what we’re dealing with now
- the evening, the morning and the night – our work in detroit summer is all about transforming our energy – that story shows the value of investing not in keeping schools open but in creating spaces to rechannel their energy.
- with lilith’s brood, i have been thinking about the concept of the singularity – a friend of ours (kweli tutashinda) has been writing about how folks in the science world are moving closer to merging human genes and technology – and there are nearly cults that believe its the next stage of evolution. NASA had a conference about it – its coming. kweli writes about whats at stake for indigenous and grassroots communities in that shift?
- [editor's note: this is making me reflect on how we keep recreating the technology to do what we know how to do naturally but have forgotten to practice: awanyu has to pretend to do things a normal way when she knows another way. telepaths having to speak. how do we release or re-member what we know how to do?]
- also reflecting on speculative democracy and we are all going to be impacted by it. access to technology is one way to experience this.

Then we shifted into small groups to think specifically about each series of Octavia’s work. We had two groups work on the Parables, a Patternist series group, a Xenogenesis group and a short stories/other group. What follows are their verbatim notes. Many folks signed up to stay in touch about this work – if you are interested as well, let me know.

Enjoy!

==============================

Notes from the Short Story group. Starting off with a go around with names and the stories that brought us to this group:

- “The Morning, the Evening and the Night”
- “Speech Sounds”
- _Fledging_
- “Bloodchild”

Interest in
- what it means to be a writer
- class differences in “speech sounds”
- people of color scifi as a way of decontextualizing our struggles and framing them in a new light
- trauma as a context of transformation of people’s relationship to their bodies, their relationships and how they perceive reality in the short stories
- consent, parenting, what makes a familyand how we support each other in “bloodchild”
- disability in her stories. mental health.

Going deeper into one of the stories: Bloodchild

Question:
1. Octavia Butler says in the comments of Bloodchild that she is not writing about slavery unless she explicitly is writing about chatterel slavery. Do we agree with that? Do we believe her?

2. What are some reasons she might have said this?
- Pigeonholed as an African-American author
- Slavery as a specific historical instition
- Thinking about other forms of oppression

3. What do we understand as the relationship between Octavia Butler as an author and the statements of her narrators?

We are all vibrations. The moment we share here is a preparation for the next moment. She leaves her writing in order to prepare us for the next meeting.

Two people shared dreams related to Octavia Butler, touching on the power of our own prophetic dreams. Magical, prophetic experiences related to the AMC.

Being able to create, imagine bigger is a process of decolonization of our dreams. Our dreams have gotten smaller and smaller, but as we engage scifi in reading and in dreams, our imaginations can grow and decolonize.

PATTERNIST SERIES NOTES

How does immortality or longevity relate to morality?
(bc to them, there are no consequences)
> how does it relate to immortality as privilege
> longevity as privelege at the expense of other peoples live
>what is interdependence? (i.e. communities)
> there is a leader – the patternmaster – people are very resistant to the patternmaster
> what does it mean that there even IS a patternmaster?
> female leader/patternmaster was able to kill the male immortal thru the power of the network – she was like a conduit for their power, but she was actually controlled by them (the network) – question: what are the patterns of de-centralized leadership?
> what do the actual lines of de-centralized leadership look like?
> how to we go about accounting for the disabled – i.e. ppl born with the alien disease, ppl are disturbed by that/them… how do we affirm bodily differences? – in the world that we create?
> alot of tension btwn ideas of a scarcity mind-set vs an abundance mind-set…?
…theres this abundant amt of this energy in the world and the way to sustain it…
>how do we do the emotional work to help each other after the trauma?
“Is there more than just getting through the day?”
> Wildseed – reliance on gender-based binary set-up, then subverted into…? there is some gender-switching throughout, but still reverts back to male-female dichotomy.
> are you willing to be transformed into service work – patterns of people grouping together around ‘differences’ – how are we going to group in this way w/o one or the other eventually rising above in privelege?
> scarcity vs abundance mindsets – how does that play out in behavior patterns?
—also, does she illiustrate this in the form of class? does a “middle class” exist?
> didnt really touch on race in this discussion yet….
> white history + anthropology books gloss over human origins as being people of color…. and her way of presenting it is more an adam and eve thing… eden is africa, and its not the same idea of eden…
> evolution presented in a way of turning darwinism on its head and address instead human vs superhuman vs subhuman…?

<<< >>>

Notes from Parable Series 1
questions:
-How are these books closer to reality than fiction?
-Question for Parable of the Talents: Even if we have different values, how can we still relate to each other without disrespect? (based on Lauren and Marcos’ relationship, Marcos keeping Lauren’s daughter away from her, brainwashing her to keep away from Acorn)
-How do we within our movements really find ways to heal intergenerational stuff.
-What can Lauren’s daughter offer us? What kind of commentary is she offering through her resistance to Earthseed, and her mother’s obsession with ‘the cause’ at the expense of family. Often time we have outsider status within our own families because of our political work, where we are so often organizing other people’s family members and not our own.
-From perspective of whte folks/ those in power, the difference between sympathy and empathy, to learn that the pain they are inflicting is hurting them too… how to organize a world on those principals as well
-Ques. related to Lauren’s hyperempathy… How do you create spaces where we can strongly empathize what another’s feelings, when we have to deal with so much oppression and numbing ourselves becomes survival.
-Parable of the Talents freedom after acorn is taken over, mudslide scene: Planning you can do to move towards liberation and what happens our of control that can also help us. What role does faith play if a role at all. In what are you taking solace?
- Parable of the Talents: Snitching on the lesbian couple: How do we trust and build relationships in themidst of oppresive situations?
-Very end of the Series, and they are successful–imagining a way to move forward… the ship Earthseed leaves for the stars on is called Christopher Columbus… what is Butler saying there? Is Earthseed beautiful as something that works right here right now, what does it mean that they will move to colonize another planet?
-Preparation for the unpreparable… how can we make meaningful links with one another ahead of time before crazy apocolypse
- Black Church: apocolypse and prophesy, today’s 2012 phenomenon and how we are all talking about it… How are similar themes present in this series?
-How do we develop technology for social change in a hostile environment or co-opt technologies that have been used for say military defense.
Themes:
empathy in relations to power structure
belief in faith
Super-power of change

PARABLE GROUP 2:

Feelings, being overwhelmed by feeling – critical question about what does it mean to feel empathy?

Relationship between healing, empathy, creativity, movement

Gendered expression of feelings – how women are treated when they express their feelings and how men are treated when they express their feelings

(Kat) Wisdom and strength comes from pain. In POS POT, what wisdom and strength comes from pain and trauma? How is that healed, or how is it not healed?In our reality, how can we can respect and hold the wisdom that comes from pain and trauma, while healing from that. How can we respect the wisdom, while working to stop the trauma from happening to other people?

Source of pain is stolen daughter – how does she use that pain as a driving force?

What does OB believe her characters learn from trauma and how does that trauma help them approach their work, guides and motivates their work?

How OB talks about feelings – sometimes feels like a little dissociation/detachment – writes about humanity in a really big way, people facing trauma, but keep going – don’t have time for healing circles etc, we have to just survive always – role of emotions in OB’s work – processing trauma in a community way is really imp – reading POS POT – acorn built on concepts of interdependence, but not in an emotional way — (Tyrone)

(Jesse) That might also be part of dealing with trauma – part of impact of how trauma is dealt with in that book – example funeral ceremony where planting trees, realize the emotional content of the tree planting – something so interesting about the gathering ceremonies – they are about emotions, welcoming people into the community, transition life death – also logistical, are we going to build this thing or not, interdependence or not – intermeshed logistics and emotion – Olamina constantly being commented on as unemotional – all about blocking what you feel

How does distance from feelings help in POS/T? How does it cause problems?

(Kat thought) also she is saying that logistics and emotions can’t be separated

She felt deeply but her father was v stoic – looked upon as weakness to display emotion, something to be manipulated – overcompensating for that

When first began journey – what this looks like in our society – ppl who put on bigger clothing and takes a male identity – ppl in our reality do that too, to take the power of maleness –

(Josh) what is the role of empathy in our own work? Polit arguments based in empathy, or respect, what are the themes of our own work?

What is it that makes her – empathy, her father, her experiences?

When we have overwhelming feelings, how do we strategically deal with them in our work?

What are our rituals?

(Jesse) When we have political talk, we often talk in terms of hyper-empathy – how does Lauren separate/balance the empathy and maintaining her own strength? If she doesn’t get some distance, she loses focus and ability to work…

How do you distance yourself and be in it at the same time? Carrying and balancing empathy…

How do women assert our strength in our own form, as opposed to transitioning to someone else?

How do people assert strength in their true form, without being oppressive?

What is the role of body and gender performance to power in POS POT?

What stands in for gender normatively and lack of GN in OB’s books, and how do people use it, are influenced by it

Disability as strength, as community, as weakness, as vulnerability

Apocalyse – some people love her bc of our fantasies of the apocalypse

Agriculture, seeds, as related to food and freedom, and control

Religion – how do we embrace and reject religion, how does she do that in her books?

How do we balance logistics and emotions in our work? How does OB do that in POS POT? What lessons is she trying to share with us, what to learn?

—-

Lilith’s Brood
Questions: Cancer as a metaphor-the way the oankali can survive–how can we take what we see as inherently distructive and make them healing and liberatory?

what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be alien?

What would I do if I were Lilith? Is the pleasure Lilith sucumbed to a tool for domination?

What is the place of pleasure in our work?

How do we frame the other? How do we define the othter/alien/immigrant?

How do we deal with our complicated reactions to difference? (looking at Lilith’s first experiences with Oankali)

How do generations surpass each other? How can we see more possibilities than those that come before us?

How can we raise our children recongnizing they are totally separate/different/other beings?

What are the connections between Lilith and the Lilith in the bibile? Within traditional Jewish beliefs?

How does the oankali explore gender is ways that are helpful/transformative to us? Related to how we see it? Limited?

——-

Other works

listen to:
Nina Simone’s 22nd Century
Tamar Kali’s Warrior Bones

read/join:
Carl Brandon Society – sci fi readers and writers of color
Minister Faust
Tanarive Due
Nalo Hopkinson
Jewelle Gomez
Nnedi
Janelle Monae’s whole songbook!

i need

for no one can fill those of your needs that you can’t let show:

i need (before/during/after the allied media conference and us social forum) –

- someone to take my recycling to the drop spot

- good healthy food to magically appear sometimes

- jamesons or laphroig regularly

- people to realize that their need is not the only thing i am working on

- people who can read to read the FAQ, Logistics and other content on the website www.ussf2010.org

- people not to text me stuff they could find out on any search engine online. yo no soy google.

- everyone who loves me to give more than need for about 2 weeks

- folks to jump up out of their own perspective and try to see the biggest picture possible – a movement, or many, in this country/city/place and this time…not just improvement, but movement

- folks to say i look hardworking or fully engaged (rather than sleepy, out of it, etc). i know the work is hard, i choose to do it, i am not suffering.

- love love love love love

- volunteers for conflict resolution and information table gigs at the forum

- patience. i/we are trying to walk this path with integrity.

“Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don’t let show

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

If there is a load you have to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me

So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Lean on me… “

deliriousity and prayer

these two pieces of art are constantly in my life – the first as background on my computer, the second in my home, signed by the artist. that’s how i am feeling right now.

i have said it so many times it is easy to say – another world is possible. another world is happening.

tonight i was given the gift of an invitation to pray with someone i love, and then reflect on that.

i have been delirious, not sleeping a lot, working more than i generally believe i have capacity to do…there’s a giddy new energy that comes from this pace. i feel like zorro, slashing a Z through problems, deeply engaged. it is easy to get to a place of reacting well, but not remembering why i am doing this, what that other world might be.

tonight in prayer i thought of how much this is an act of faith, doing this us social forum thing. i am absolutely sure, at this point, that i don’t know what i am doing, and won’t be able to do everything required of me. i know the same thing is true for everyone i am working with – and i stay surrounded by some of the hardest working people alive. but none of us KNOW – we run the gamut from hoping to praying to rationalizing to planning, but none of us really really know how to do this.

and yet i know that i need the vision and strategies and solutions and the experience of multitudes of people of faith gathered together for another world. i need the humility of process that is represented by the forum, with all its flaws.

i need people who are different from me to build with.

i need all of us to see that we cannot go without each other, that we cannot function apart, that we live on one planet, that we are one system of life here.

when i think of what is happening all over home/mother…not think it – feel it – when i feel what is happening here in detroit…my longing for us to realize our divinity and realize our potential becomes greater than any of the ties i have to the world as it currently is.

separation doesn’t make sense to me – those who work to silo the world, whether they say they are conservative or progressive, capitalist or marxist, -ive or -ist, etc…i look at the practices. are the practices divisive? oppositional? competitive? harmful?

then that’s not right, because that is not how spirit flows, not in me.

i am the living embodiment of wholeness. whether i get enough sleep or not, i am committed to radical love as a practice, as the key practice of my life, in the work of restoring the wholeness i FEEL we are capable of, that which is already within us waiting to unfold.

what is in us, we are in.
what is of us, we are of.
what is possible, we are.

my prayer friend reminds me of gratitude, and of something my grandfather once said – “be grateful for those problems. those are your teachers.”

in 9 days, thousands of teachers arrive in detroit – some are already here. i want celebration, prayer, gratitude and welcome to be the spirit of this period of my life.

amen.

my uniform

for some reason i love uniforms.

i am a military brat – not so complicated.

i love to look incredible while spending almost no time on getting dressed. when i buy jewelry it mostly ends up decorating my wall. i love the idea of a simple life, few belongings that are made well to last, of traveling light in this world.

so i think i have found the elements of my basic uniform for my early 30s. these items brought me out of a long stint of not shopping, which i will now return to, having gotten the pieces together.

the clothing is all designed by architect/furniture designer/fashionista trudy miller. her idea is to create clothing that makes women feel incredible in their bodies. she has made pieces which make me think of william gibson’s books where a coolhunter who actually hates trends and fashion wears a ‘skirt thing’ that transforms from skirt to dress, long to short.

the shoes are tom’s – for each pair you buy, a pair is donated to a kid who needs them. and they are incredibly comfortable, and simple. i have been waiting for shoes like this.

just wanting to share for any of y’all who also like uniforms and are looking for bits.

now back to work :)

you are so special

today i have been thinking about how the majority of communication i get about the us social forum is folks wanting some special treatment. it’s easy to get really frustrated with all the special requests – folks want a special place on the plenary, a special late entry for workshops, a special registration fee, special sheets for their beds, a special place to stay.

we in the organizing process have had many wonderful venting sessions about all these special people throughout this process, even as we work hard to meet the needs, fulfill the requests, make everyone happy, be politically aligned with our values and all of it.

but this has made me think primarily about my own ways of being special. it’s not unusual for me to say i am too busy to go through the normal process, that i missed the proper deadline/process/application and could i please have it just for me? i like my own room, my own space, my own…

and yet i believe the path towards liberation is paved with collective ownership, shared belongings and release of the bougie and selfish tendencies that flesh out the concept of “my own”, “mine”, “me”…

sitting on this side of a huge event makes me wonder if i am actually experiencing the epicenter of why capitalism is so abhorrent and detrimental to humanity. the expression of “i” and “mine” leads to an expectation of something unique and special and singular.

and who provides those special things?

servants, assistants, workers – whoever you feel is just a little less special than you are.

my self-reflection shows me that in my own way, i am a total diva, generally. virgo first born talented and gifted singer…i’ve been trained to think i am very special. but it’s not true – i am one of many. what i am capable of is a fragment of what is needed in this world. we are all needed…

so i am going to try a new practice: being only as special as any other human being. taking care of myself and not asking anyone else to do for me what i can do for myself. being honest about my limitations and my needs, but working hard to reduce the impact of those needs on others. working with others, delegating horizontally and allowing work to be delegated to me, being part of a collective process, of the many.

there’s us, there have been millions before us, hopefully there will be millions after us. in the best way possible, you are not special. neither am i.

other lessons

A few days ago, my niece was born.

Specifically, on Tuesday morning at 10:19 am, after 5 hours of labor by my baby sister, weighing in at 10lbs, 12oz, with the support of a doula and midwife in an amazing home birth, Siobhan (accent over the a tho I can’t do it from my phone) Elouise Brown Conway was born.

All this information flowed through air, radio, web, phone as biological and chosen family got the full update.

I had logically decided I just couldn’t go for the birth or afterwards until after www.alliedmediaconference.org and www.ussf2010.org in june, it was just too much.

At about 10:44 I found out Siobhan had been born. At around 11 something I saw her first picture. Approximately 5 minutes later, all spent in tears, I had purchased a ticket to see her with the money I’d been saving for my tropical vacation. I can vacation in michigan.

Here’s what I learned on the trip:

- my work does have a purpose. As long as humans have children, and experience love, we must fully combat injustice and horrific human behavior to improve the world that we leave them. Because children show us that our initial nature is fully present, and amazing and miraculous.

- my sister told us her in-depth birth story, and it really became vivid for me how birth is truly an experience of going beyond any threshold of pain and right up to that precipice between life and death. Anything could happen, except stopping the process. Creation is the ultimate portal, and the only way to truly get there is to “relinquish control” (sister’s words) and trust body and process.

- “you are in charge of your experience” deepak chopra tweeted this as I was on my way to family, and this was the other lesson of my sister’s birth story. She said nothing she could have done was going to let her escape the experience, but because she went fully natural she was able to truly feel it all, and make her experience one of power and welcome, rather than resistance and fear. The details are hers to share, but listening to her I kept hearing ‘fierce, primal yes’ over and over again. Its always your choice how you experience your life.

- putting down the phone and closing the computer makes the experience of family so much more intimate and exciting. This was obvious with the massive 2 day old niece, who slept in ways more entertaining than any film I’ve ever seen, but equally true with my sisters and my momma. Love is best practiced with focus, rather than as one of many tasks.

- I don’t have words, actually, for how I feel for my nephew and niece. Its too pure. My role during the visit was to entertain (exhaust) my almost 2-yr-old nephew as he took in this new reality and point of attention in the house. It was such a great job to get. We went to the park and got soaked in the sprinklers and examined moon-like rocks and pictures of the moon and ran after birds and chased and escaped and tickled and played. And then he passed out and so did I. My niece is awesome, wrinkly, soft, slowly stretching out and sleeping all the time with brief pooping and/or eating times. Awesome.

- its great to ask people what they need and do just that. While baby sister & hubby recovered from birth, middle sister and mom and I did dishes, swept, mopped, cooked, bathed, babysat, kept the ice trays full, and more. It was very satisfying work. I need to ask/do more often.

- another big lesson: my work is easy compared to parenting.

Now let me see if I can get home to that simple to do list of mine.

My niece is here

in the midst of all this madness, my niece arrived this morning after 5 hours of labor. 10lbs, 12oz – my sister has an amazing vagina for serious! hurray home birth, hurray family, hurray and welcome siobhan elouise brown conway :)