i have been traveling a lot this past few weeks. the ruckus camp was incredible, and then i was at web of change up off the coast of british columbia, which was fascinating.
i sat on a panel at web of change which really challenged me – which is righteous i suppose because it was called Our Challenge, and the 3 of us were talking about what we see as the key challenges of this time. there ended up being a real sense of a dichotomy on the panel, which i didn’t expect. one panelist spoke of the importance of failing and being able to admit it and learn from it – michael silberman – i thought this was SO important. if we could see our failures as an equally important (or more important) part of our experiment at living/organizing than our wins, i think we could grow.
the other 2 of us…i think it felt like a reform vs revolution conversation (with me holding down the revolution part)…or maybe an electoral vs community organizing thing. but for me it was really a lesson in how to communicate what i am feeling and thinking about right now, which feels like it goes beyond those old dichotomies. i want us to think deeply about what we really mean by success, and no matter what type of work we are doing – electoral, community organizing, reform, revolution, or work that may not be called organizing – that we are embodying a new way of relating to each other, to the way we think of “success/winning”. i feel hopeless when i see how many of the oppressive practices we say we are trying to change/stop that we are actively engaging in within our organizations and campaigns. even if we are doing electoral/reform level work, are we challenging the models that we know are not working? or we doing work that is DEEP, or just trying to get as big as possible without knowing what we are leading folks towards?
i loved the level of conversation we got to have at web of change, but i am still really worried about our collective eagerness to scale everything up without actually practicing it at a small and deep level – like in our organizations. i see so many organizations where we don’t practice transparency around money or power, and yet we want to gain control over the money and power of our cities, states, country. i see so many of us resort to emotional manipulation and violence in order to move our ideas forward at an organizational level, and then we want to talk about nonviolence and cooperation between nations and in our domestic and foreign policies. its not that our desires are wrong, i just don’t think we can get there wishing/hoping/demanding it of others…i think we have to “transform ourselves to transform the world” as grace lee boggs says.
i will publish my notes from web of change before this week is out.
my trip to ny was wonderful because the whole time it was like – i am not an ED of anything, so i can just see my friends for once!! so that’s all i did, one deep conversation after another, which a few hours at the russian baths thrown in. totally indulgent and awesome and i spent a lot of time walking and feeling glam like i only do in ny, paris and tokyo.
now i am at the common fire board meeting, which is already a good and challenging space for me. we’re on a gorgeous farm in upstate ny where the leaves are all turning into gorgeous shades of sun and fire. rain and wind are my constant companions these days, and this place is no exception.
learning and thinking about what it means to form communities that are intentional about sharing resources, centering the wisdom and experience of impacted communities…this feels like my most octavia butler work. but its also hard, because i am wondering how those communities can serve folks like me who are more nomadic, naughty, occasionally glam, urban, folks who don’t want to have a bunch of house meetings as the main way of being in relationships, folks who do long to change. i’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
tonight one of our board members, esther, who is one of the most inspiring women i have ever met – she lives a zero waste life in a forest home with no electricity and at 57 is the healthiest person i know, all of which she learned from her life as a peasant, not from sustainability theory…she led our opening ceremony, and she said, “if you are moving with spirit, listening to spirit, then you are going in the right direction.” this was so perfect for me to hear because i don’t know how to describe the magnitude of what i am being called to do, but i do feel like its an operation of faith, of listening, of following feelings more than logic. it’s marvelous.
we went through the four agreements tonight, toltec wisdom brought to today’s masses by don miguel ruiz. the agreements are always liberating for me, bring such peace into my life when i actually bring them to mind:
– always do your best
– be impeccable with your word
– don’t make assumptions
– don’t take things personally
simple to say, harder to practice, liberating to embody.