Monthly Archive for November, 2010

day by day

i have been largely away from technology for many days – almost a week. some of the breakthroughs of this time include:

1) a fantastic talk with my father about gay marriage. we moved from “it’s a wedge issue” to “there should be a separation of church and state, with civil unions for anyone who wants tax breaks from the states.”

1b) i have been spending a lot of time thinking about root causes lately, and trying to learn how to move conversations towards the roots of an issue, rather than the most recent political manifestation of conflict. this method is returning to me a curiosity i have been missing for years, and reminding me that most people want solutions, they just aren’t engaged to think of solutions by the mainstream media and political processes.

2) i always think of myself as someone who doesn’t wake up early, but that’s not true. when my niece and nephew wake up, and i hear their voices, i wake up completely. this might be 6:50am, 7:30am – i am up and i am rolling around the floor and dancing and throwing balls and giggling. further proof that auntie IS a calling.

3) i have deeply shifted my relationship to my family – which means i can do anything! a while back i realized that i was the type of sister-daughter who would show up to the house, stay on my phone and computer being important, and wonder why everyone was complaining. my past few visits i have left the phone in another room, kept the computer closed, realizing everything could wait except my time with my family. i wish i could say this realization came from meditation or something, but it came after my dad’s heart attack, my nephew and niece being born, my sisters asking me to show up…now, being here, i learn so much every day – primarily that being present with my family teaches me more than i learn from the news OR from circuitous debates with folks who think just like me.

4) my nephew and my niece are shining examples of how to be emotionally present in the moment. and be honest. and my sister and brother (in-law) are shining examples of how to parent in a way that protects and empowers that emotional experience. they show their joy, then pain or anger or hurt feelings or need, then move past those experiences. when anyone goes to stop my nephew from crying, my sister says – “feel what you’re feeling, we’ll give you some space.” YES! it’s such a beautiful thing to experience that kind of spaciousness and imagine giving that to myself, and to everyone i know, to feel what we are all feeling. it allows the emotional processes to move so much faster, and reminds me of a quote i once heard and will paraphrase here: true mastery is not the avoidance of failure or mistakes, but learning and recovering faster and faster until the mistakes or failures are nearly impossible to perceive.

5) finding nemo is a truly wise film. everything about it is vitally important to understanding how to proceed in the world.

6) taking time intentionally immediately ups the quality of the time. my family and i make time for checking in with each other on what has shifted since we last saw each other. this transforms the time we get together, knowing that we want to listen as much as we want to share.

that’s as many days as i have been away, so that’s enough :)

p.s. on kanye and life

Got kanye’s new album and I am loving it. The songs are catchy and hits and different and interesting. He is self-aware and belligerent and raw and egomaniacal and…interesting. worth the attention even if half of it is critical.

Just finished 8 straight days of facilitation and board meetings and I have 2 thoughts:

1) I don’t want to book it that tightly again. Space in my life is something I’ve earned, at least for a while.

2) I love getting to opt-in for what I do with all my time. Even though it was intense, it was all JOYful exciting work that I could be fully present for.

Additionally, got to spend some time with my fam-friends, the funniest wonderful people ever, and I need that more often…folks who can joke about this world only because they have a DEEP analysis about it that I never doubt the truth of for a second.

Now, into the family black hole I have been longing for. If you don’t hear from me for a week its because I’m live blogging for niece and nephew :-)

open letter to kanye

kanye,

it’s time i wrote you…

i pay attention to you. i know people laugh at you, or dismiss you…and yet almost all of them are also paying attention to you.

i believe you are making an authentic effort to be unique and honest and creative in this world…but some of the energy you have been putting out in the world of late has made me want to sit you down and have a heart to heart.

first off honey baby – you are not michael jackson. not at all. don’t sully his legacy and throw your own motivations into question by implying you and he are brethren in the struggle.

i hope you don’t want or need to be michael – you are a musical genius, yes. you are a prolific artistic, yes. but you were not a traumatized child star whose capacity to feel confidence in himself and his intimate relations was broken before his voice changed…

what you are is a grown ass man, with lots of resources and lots of people who eagerly await your creations.

i have been thinking for some time, as i struggle to hear your creativity through all the media storms you whip up around yourself, that you take away from your own credibility when you constantly play the victim. i hear more about the media/world’s persecution of you than i do of your gifts, and that’s a shame.

you are actually one of those ambitious, over-the-top people who could be known for your uncompromisingly edge-pushing work instead. force people to deal with liking or not liking you based on your work, not on your scandals and sensitivities.

and now this week, on Today, you stepped back from the single most awesome scandalous thing you have ever done. when you stood there after katrina and spoke the truth, that “george bush doesn’t care about black people”, and you spoke about racist media coverage of those trying to survive in new orleans, it was a powerful and necessary action. you spoke for many of us – i was so proud of you, using your access to millions to speak a truth that wasn’t to benefit yourself.

and you apologized?

it’s not like bush apologized for his appalling non-responsiveness, or has spent these subsequent years helping to get black people back home to nola…i suspect he’s too busy maintaining the myth of WMDs in iraq.

you were right back then kanye…you weren’t maligning a president who had repeatedly enacted policies to support black people’s economic or cultural power. you were stating an informed opinion on a president who vacationed while black people drowned in a city-turned-graveyard. history has not shown a more nuanced motivation of his slow response – in fact it’s made him look worse and worse as information has come out around what he knew and when.

not to mention that if katrina had never happened, this is still the president who led us into a full-blown cultural war with the Arab world.

dream hampton today said that you could have said “george bush doesn’t care about poor people”, and that that may have been more precise. but you were coming from a raw place, you were seeing the media we saw, i felt you – watching the clips again i still feel you.

you have made mistakes, you have things to apologize for, but that was not one of them.

i want to see you succeed. i like your music, i defend your right to sing and auto-tune yourself for the sake of expression, i watched your whole 30 minute multi-music-video and i am excited for your next album.

it’s time you came off defense and went on the offensive. stop talking about how attacked you are and cowering into an apologetic ball of shame – stand up and be a creator, stand up and take on the mantel of being one the most innovative artists of your generation. you can do any thing you want – evolve!

and at the very least, if you still want to engage in silly games with mainstream media who never have and never will understand those who are creating new culture, at LEAST stop apologizing.

especially, while we still have millions of people dying all over the world because of the economic and military decisions of our government, stop apologizing to, and aligning yourself with, george “mass murderer” bush.

with love
adrienne maree

p.s. on a totally unrelated note, cee-lo – if you’re out there, get at me.

ode to detroit ii

there is always some cars in my street
there is trees
there is gardens
lush life bursting up through concrete
and then those who pack heat
and then those we call heat

in my street
there is always some light in my street
there is sidewalks with halos
cast down to compete
with the last flame of fire
on faces defeated
by time, by the choices they made
in my street

there is marvelous space in my street
space to think and to dream
in my street
there is ghosts walking round with heartbeats
there is always tomorrow,
the dust of complete
and all kinds of subtle dignities
dignified,
to be here still alive
life is sweet
no matter how close comes the pain
or the need
i can breath once again

in and out
i am free
i am safe in the space between
this side and that
in my street
it is sweet

it is sweet

the return of the pleasure activist

it’s been years since i said it, but recently i have been feeling it is time again to shout it out: i am a pleasure activist.

what leaps to your mind when i say that?

yeah – it’s probably all of that.

for me this journey started back in the harm reduction world. i first heard the term from keith cylar, an incredible harm reductionist in ny who passed shortly after i got my start in the field. i was young and doing sex education, and i learned from good teachers in the harm reduction network that safe sex is actually more pleasurable than high risk sex in the long run – it allows you to get to have more sex.

a decade ago i would speak to middle school and high school age girls about my history of sexual assault, the silence i kept around it for years and the reasons for that, and the importance of knowing one’s body in a variety of ways including masturbation – which i believe is actually a really really necessary step into safe sex with others.

i was not only sexually assaulted in high school, but also exposed repeatedly to images of how women should experience desire…i know i am not the only human who started their sexual life on the defensive.

knowing about sex, about what gives you pleasure, and that you deserve and can control the pleasure you receive – these are key elements to a long life of safe sex.

my pleasure activism then began to apply to other experiences – drugs, for one. i have always admired those who are willing to experience the world in many different ways, to let the total pleasure of a variety of highs take your body and spirit and mind and creative force to another level. some of the most incredible ideas and art of our species than be traced back to psilocybin and other substances. the use of substances in a spiritual context is normal in almost every indigenous culture/religion.

i know why – substances that alter your perception can open you up to how diaphanous your reality is. opening up to the pleasure of experiencing the world, of being deeply present to the life of it, alters your sense of what is possible.

this openness moved me right past the obvious pleasure regions of drugs and sex…i started to apply it to everything else in my life: work, love, friendship, travel…yes i said work.

in every single aspect of life, seeking the pleasure in it makes it so much more possible for me to be deeply present in the world and sense what is needed.

now, it has become a politic for me…living not just to the point of survival, but to the point of pleasure. i am certain that pleasure is the missing piece in our movement(s) for a new world.

it is right that we paint a vision of a new world where we have to take responsibility, because that’s just a truth we need to lean into. but we forget that our major drive as human beings is pleasure. the ecstasy of faith, of belonging, the ecstasy of love and sex, the ecstasy of victory – these are all variations of pleasure.

pleasure: that sense coursing through you that everything is connected, everything is one, everything has an order and a meaning, every effort is worthwhile. you can see it – feel it – be it. that is my definition, and i seek it in everything i do.

my pleasure principles:

1. you deserve to feel good – physically, mentally, spiritually.

2. moderation is key – the idea is not to be in a heady state of ecstasy at all times, but rather to learn how to sense when something is good for you.

3. when i am happy, it is good for the world*. folks who are rooted in sensing and seeking pleasure, and bring that energy into their work and relationships, are shining a light for others – there is another path that isn’t full of stress, self-doubt, pain, victimization and suffering. there is a path in which everything is learning, playing, practicing, doing things anew.

4. pleasure isn’t related to money, at least not in a positive way. having the resources to buy unlimited amounts of pleasure leads to excess, and excess totally destroys the spiritual experience of pleasure.

5. the deepest pleasure comes from riding the line between commitment and detachment – commitment to your process, to what you are doing, paired with detachment from outcomes. this is true in sex, it’s true in work, it’s just true.

and this last one isn’t quite a principle – but it’s something i have learned: when i feel pleasure, i know i am on the right track. when it was time to move to detroit, when it was truly time to leave my job, when it was time to pick up a meditation practice, time to swim, time to eat healthier, i knew because it gave me pleasure when i made the decision.

now i am letting that guide my choices for how i organize, and for what i am aiming towards with my work – pleasure in the processes of my existence and states of my being.

join me.

* number 3 i owe this one to my friend jodie

being more productive

i have been asked by some of y’all to write up some tips for being productive. i am not always productive, but i hit these strides, and i want to talk about what happens in these strides.

1) email aikido. i can’t tout this practice enough – the more on top of incoming content you are – email and phone calls and snail mail – all of it, the more you can actually direct your life rather than responding/reacting and just doing disconnected things for others, the more productive you will be. getting a program like thunderbird helps you to download your emails so you can work offline.

2. so…work offline. just turn it off, close your wireless, unhook your whatever-they-call-the-non-wireless-cable-you-have-to-plug-in, etc. there are too many distractions on the internet, so if you actually need to write or read or create, close the portals and focus.

3. if you MUST be online, organize your distractions. i keep two windows open with multiple tabs.

one window has anything that isn’t work – facebook, twitter, blogs, etc.

the other has work – my calendar, my basecamps, my notes and writing, etc. i give myself a few minutes each hour to play in the non-work window. go invisible or do-not-disturb on chat to discourage interruptions.

4. basecamp! this online work management system has totally sharpened my self-organization process. i have a personal one where i manage my own projects – gigs, creative works…and i have basecamp for almost all the major projects i am working on. this takes convincing, it helps to have training, and it takes devotion to make it a normal part of your day to check in and update the workplan…but this means you don’t lose tasks, they aren’t being forgotten in your brain, and you can assign and share tasks, files and processes with others. i will often develop my to-do list for the day from my basecamps and then work offline for a while knocking stuff out.

4 continued… prioritize your to-do lists, both based on deadline and based on deeper work (see point 5). getting a bunch of unimportant things done is not necessarily productive. here’s a great tool for training your brain to prioritize tasks.

5. the deeper work, of course, is having a clear sense of your life’s purpose.

why am i here?

yeah, that meta.

this truly does help though, not to be facetious. if you aren’t clear what it is you are meant to be doing in the world, you don’t have that natural momentum that comes from purpose to apply to your work.

when you know what you are meant to bring to the world, then it becomes easier to push into it, and it becomes easier to say no to things which don’t actually evolve your own work.

6. saying no is a skill! saying no can be a practice of adoration of yourself; saying no to things you don’t want to do; saying no to things which don’t advance your work. saying no to things which make you feel angry, used, abused, exhausted, sick, or otherwise overwhelmed by work…all of these are ways of saying yes to the work you are meant to be doing, and ultimately, to your very existence.

7. work with people who inspire you, who vastly increase the quality of your work and the scale* of your visions. being a part of a team of awesome is such a boon to productivity – other human beings are energetic forces and where there is alignment, there is flow. don’t stay in blocked zones, and don’t make it your job to be fixing others, or even unblocking them – UNLESS it serves your purpose (see point 5).

* when i say scale, i almost always mean depth, not width or masses, but going deeper, and then deeper, and then even deeper into understanding the work necessary to make your visions come to pass. deeper into aligning your vision with others – not just at the surface talking point level, but deeper, gutteral vision alignment. your work will FLOW!

–> gotta go, time to DO things :)

Movement Generation “The Future” Keynote

here are the prep notes for the speech I gave last night at Movement Generation’s dinner:

before i speak about my vision of the future, i want to tell you how amazing movement generation is – even if i don’t do a good job tonight, give them your time and money and support.

i got trained by movement generation as a part of the ruckus society (we’re sort of sister networks).

at first, they scared me – the way i have been scared before hearing environmental truths, but much more comprehensively and specifically. but unlike the other times i have been terrified by our coming dystopia, they had solutions to share with me, and they were able to point out what the false solutions were and why we needed to stop engaging in them.

they gave me a new commitment – to personally transforming my relationship with the planet, with sustainability. i mean – from what i eat to the very personal – they made it hard for me to flush a toilet because i know how valuable that resource of water is, and it’s become an issue we discuss in my family!

movement generation made me realize i had to learn to be an individual in community, in collective.

they have incredible tools – their 3-circle strategy tool shows that we need to move what the policies and practices we need from the idealist/visionary realm into the politically viable realm, while pushing false solutions out of the picture.

i got to facilitate the ecojustice people’s movement assembly at the us social forum with marirose and michelle, and witness strategy in practice as we aligned an ecojustice movement in the u.s. that is puts us into a real relationship with the global community, who have been waiting for us.

now, for the vision.

when i consider my vision, it isn’t a place, or a time in the far off future where everyone has a garden and kids running around and sunshine and rainbows and no conflict.

my vision is of a state of being, which means we can be that way now, we can be our most incredible vision now.

octavia butler taught us that “god is change – everything you touch you change, and everything you change changes you.” my vision is a world where we aren’t scared of change, but we know how to lean into change and manifest the kind of changes that help us to evolve (not stagnate, denying the reality of change).

we understand where change comes from, in my future. rather than what we have now, where we look at the judge who gave mesherle 2 years, or at obama for having an impossible time in an impossible job, or at democrats for not knowing how to organize, or the tea party for being so evil/scary…in my future we’ve stopped waiting for systems of oppression to suddenly radicalize and give up patriarchy and colonization. we look inward, at the root of change: ourselves.

(this is key because at this moment, we get upset about the wrong piece of the puzzle – we’re furious about the sentence for mesherle. but really, what would be right. would 20 years be worth the life he took? 50? no – no amount of time would restore rightness to this community. we have to practice, ourselves, new forms of justice.)

in my vision we value everyone, and everything – there are no wasted people, there is no “opposition” that can be written out of our community. we are oriented towards this essential value of all human beings from the beginning of our lives.

our entire economy and culture is oriented around those with the most need, because they have the most wisdom about being vulnerable, about needing others and needing dignity, and thus reaching for interdependence. right now we pride ourselves on how independent we can be – “i have my own house, with my own fence and my own car and my own everything”. but in the future we orient towards those with the most need, not those with the most ambition.

in my future NOTHING is owned. not people. not land. not anything. everything is a relationship – this is the oldest way of understanding the world, and it is what we must relearn. when you are in relationship with someone or something, you don’t just take from them until they have nothing left to give, as we are doing to the earth now. you give and take and sustain.

we begin by listening, as the allied media crew in detroit say. (everything in detroit is good). we don’t start with a 5-year strategic plan that can’t account for changing conditions – we consider listening a spiritual practice, the beginning of all strategy, all community.

in my vision, education happens through growing, creating, doing, apprenticing. it is laughable that people used to sit in rooms and be told about the world, instead of experiencing it – children are learning at all times how to steward evolution.

we think critically, we deconstruct, but only towards an end goal of creating and practicing solutions. otherwise, critique is seen as a wasteful, even toxic, pastime.

in my vision, community forms when people share a set of principles – not when organizations are clarifying their target areas for a grant, or politicians need numbers at the polls.

health, home, food, safety – these are the rights and responsibilities of your community, not something you have to compete with others to earn money to buy. note i said right AND responsibility – everyone has the right to it, but everyone takes on the burden of creating the possibility of that right for each other.

regeneration threads through every aspect of our thinking – not how are we creating something new, but how are we generating something new out of what we have. to that end, everyone wears awesome clothing like this (point to the sustainable trudy miller dress i have on!)

the last thing, and perhaps most important thing, is this: we see our words, our actions, our time, our lives as the GREATEST resource we have. not what we own or the market value on our properties, but simply the awe-inspiring miracle of our existence. we have breath, blood, imagination, reason – and that is enough. and our only work is to create more time for the evolution of our planet and our people, as we evolve.

we accept the miracle, and we accept the responsibility of being miraculous.

thank you for having me, good night.

wisdom from jodie’s house

there are some things i always read when i stay at my friend jodie’s house and i want to type them up here both so i can see them all the time and so you can experience them as well.

the first is an adaptation from Thich Nhat Hahn’s Five Contemplations for eating in mindfulness:

This food is a gift of the whole universe – the earth, the sky, and much hard work.

May we eat in such a way so as to honor it.

May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat in moderation.

May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness in people and the planet.

May we accept this food to realize the path of understanding and love.

the second piece is a quote from Vandana Shiva:

i do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation. i believe that if you just do your little bit without thinking of the bigness of what you stand against, if you turn to the enlargement of your own capacities, just that in itself creates new potential.

and i’ve learned from the Bhagavad Gita and other teachings of our culture to detach myself from the results of what i do, because those are not in my hands. the context is not in your control, but your commitment is yours to make, and you can make the deepest commitment with total detachment about where it will take you.

you want it to lead to a better world, and you shape your actions and take full responsibility for them, but then you have detachment. and that combination of deep passion and deep detachment allows me to take on the next challenge because i don’t cripple myself, i don’t tie myself in knots. i function like a free bring. i think getting that freedom is a social duty because i think we owe it to each other not to burden each other with prescription and demands. i think we owe each other a celebration of life and to replace fear and hopelessness with fearlessness and joy.

read the full piece here.

spirits and elections

today is election day in the united states.

in 2004, i spent this day at a phone communicating with organizers all over the country. we were pouring everything we had into stopping george w. bush while deepening the strategic partnership between electoral and community organizing. that election took tons out of me, out of many of us who were involved. i learned that it is absolutely necessary to engage in the electoral process, AND it is absolutely necessary to engage in local long-term organizing or else the electoral process is meaningless.

perhaps more clearly: it is a losing strategy to organize only based on what we want to stop, or what we are scared of. if the approach of the political left in this country is to focus on the ignorance, insanity, ineffectiveness, “evil” or otherwise negative traits of our opposition, we lose.

if we cannot begin to find ourselves in the perceived “other”, to realize there is no potential future down these partisan pathways we have been walking, we lose.

and perhaps, if we can let the electoral process become a cycle by which we measure the leadership of communities in the governance of their lives, and we are living the policies we want in our families, schools, relationships, local politics, we win, regardless of polling patterns and outcomes of races between and decided by a concerned elite minority of this multitude.

if we can engage in the personal transformation it will take to be worthy of a democracy, worthy of sustaining the species, we win.

my sister’s post today inspired me deeply, especially the end of it:

“Today is election day. It is also All Souls Day, the Day of the Dead. In Irish tradition, this time of year is the thin time, the time when the ancestors come near. Today I will take some time in silence to reflect on the fact that this country was built on the backs and from the blood of children, mothers, grandmothers, fathers, and grandfathers who were massacred and enslaved by occupiers that could not see the value of their living, and could not truly see the value of the land.”

…it seems like no coincidence to me that this is a time that many cultures in different ways see as “thin time”, a time when the spirit world is closer to us – and that it aligns with the time when we determine the political leadership for our future in this country.

i am sure at some point in my brief, dizzying waltz with electoral organizing i once said to vote because our ancestors died for it, but that’s not what i actually believe…

i believe our ancestors lived through much harder times, physically, tangibly, than we are living through now. they knew less of what was happening elsewhere in the world and struggled more with what was right there around them. and yet those struggles made their lives worth living. they had to be present for it, paying attention to the tasks at hand.

the hardship we face now is that we are spiritually bereft, we have somehow managed to perfect fighting for, getting and giving access while decreasing actual awareness and/or power…for many people, forgetting what it would mean to do meaningful work and play a meaningful role in your community.

i believe that it is work and community participation that can bring spiritual depth and meaning into our lives. the spirit of resistance and struggle and belief in something better is not buried in the soil somewhere.

i believe that that spirit of fundamental good, of cooperation and sustainability and creativity – i believe that is the most divine essence of humanity, and that is what gets reincarnated in people over and over again. our lives are our executions of that divine possibility. if we let it flow out of us in love, we win…and if we let it manifest out of fear (on the right this looks like the tea party, on the left this often manifests as oppositional, reactionary, constantly urgent work which is also dangerous and ineffective), we lose. continuously.

i love that a ritual of this thin time is to open the windows and welcome the spirits in. we need to reconnect with something deeper than ourselves to maintain hope and a willingness to live and create and keep fighting in the period that is surely coming.

today’s election has some results that will slow any type of progress towards sustainability and sanity for humans and the earth…some results will actively work against our collective survival. but this isn’t the first time we have faced such devastation in the patterns of power, and it’s not the last.

what wisdom do we need to hear, what historical context do we need to open ourselves up to, what wisdom do our ancestors have now that let’s us honor them and their work and their sacrifices?

i meditated today, i’m doing the 28 sits practice. the only thing that came to me is a line ibrahim‘s mom says – ‘we are ancestors in training’. we must recommit to our long-term community practices and leave a new legacy of human evolution during our time on this earth. we must see each of our days in the context of history – tiny and meaningful.

this is only another day that will change everything. but it is done. now get to work.

Autumn Brown is so amazing.

My comrade, colleague and sister Autumn Brown has a newsletter and it’s awesome. Rather than try to describe it to you, I am just going to publish the latest newsletter here with a link to her site so you can further check her out. For the record, my sister April is also awesome and when she has a website I will post it here too :)

FROM AUTUMN BROWN’S NEWSLETTER:

This edition of my newsletter has so much content that I will keep my deep thoughts relatively short. I do want to share, however, that I have been so energized by vulnerability in the last few weeks. Either I forgot that vulnerability could be so inspiring, or I never thought of it in this way. Beginning my fellowship, and experiencing the gratitude and discomfort of finding myself in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to have my creativity and my politics challenged in exactly the right ways, has given me a completely new appreciation for being vulnerable and opening my mind and my heart and my body to what is.

This weekend I also had the opportunity to attend a conference in St. Paul, Minnesota on Overcoming Racism. It was an intense weekend on a number of levels, and I came away with an incredible resource for teaching African American history, which I share below. But for me, by far and away the most important take away was recognizing my own ignorance. In the last year I have developed a workshop on Resisting Racism and I have been very lucky to have some incredible teachers and resources in this process. But this weekend an awareness dawned on me: that I have been taught, and I have taught others, to think about race and racism as primarily a white people/black people issue. Now, obviously I know that race and racism goes well beyond white folks and black folks. But in the same way that we tend to oversimplify just about everything, we oversimplify the problem of racism as being between binaries when we can easily identify ourselves in one or both of them.

The conference I attended, however, focused strongly on the horrendous genocide of Native Americans, and the continued struggle of Native Americans and American Indians to regain and/or retain their land. Throughout both days of the conference, I found myself continually shocked and ashamed by how little I knew of these completely current issues, and I felt very keenly my responsibility as an anti-racist facilitator to build my knowledge. As I returned home and felt the wholeness of my life out in the woods, I began to understand how pivotal land and belonging are, both to that wholeness and to this struggle we are all in – the struggle to not only survive these awful times, but to do so in communion with one another.

And so, ever in the spirit of building knowledge, I offer these incredible items that have come to me through the many networks I participate in – a new resource for teaching and learning about black people, a challenging documentary about death row, classes on herbs, a conference on activist scholarship, a queer poetry revival, and a report on violence in and against the LGBTQ community. I hope that there is something useful for you here. And as always, if there is something you find that you think I should share, send it to me!

Today is election day. It is also All Souls Day, the Day of the Dead. In Irish tradition, this time of year is the thin time, the time when the ancestors come near. Today I will take some time in silence to reflect on the fact that this country was built on the backs and from the blood of children, mothers, grandmothers, fathers, and grandfathers who were massacred and enslaved by occupiers that could not see the value of their living, and could not truly see the value of the land.