Monthly Archive for November, 2011

100%

this came to me this morning in one fell swoop.

i am hesitant to share it, but it feels important as i think of many of us now going to our families, the space where all lines blur and there is just blood, lineage and hopefully love.

my family seems have a little of everything in it, every belief system, every right and wrong. for a long time i thought of various members of my family as those who were…against me.

i am grateful i have begun to see us whole, holding the breadth of humanity’s best and worst potential. i can love across the chasm. and the healing here is the healing needed at the largest scale.

so here goes:

we have been thinking of our revolutions as us vs them, winning power in a way that means others lose. always leaving a percentage, as small as possible, but there…the 1% whom we can blame for the mess we are in.

what would it look like to posit ourselves instead as wholeness, evolving from a society driven by division?…if our practice was to decompartmentalize ourselves, to integrate our parts, our communities, our movements, our world?

what we call the 1% is a set of ideas ravaging our world. individualism, selfishness, darwinism. these ideas continue to consume us and all our resources, though only the tiniest sliver truly benefit, because we all participate.

we actively participate: we fund war with much of our taxes, we call the police, we continuously hand over our power, we vote without holding elected officials accountable, we create an earth’s worth of garbage in our short lifetimes.

we passively participate: not intervening against hate, looking the other way from violence and conflict, silent with fear, stepping quietly away from truth tellers, collecting paychecks for work we do not love which does not benefit our communities.

i am not speaking just of ‘the masses’ here – within movement spaces we cultivate competition by continuing to participate in the foundation games, watching activist stars emerge full of words while nothing changes, while hunger and homelessness grow, tearing each other apart in a fit of righteousness.

it is painful to write this.

but it is true.

james baldwin told us, “not everything that is faced can be changed. but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

so busy looking outside ourselves for the evil, for the problem…when we are the problem. everyday we build up our dreams and with a million small cuts we destroy them.

we must become the solution. whole people…not perfect, but whole. whole communities. whole systems.

anyone we leave out of “us” will become a poison to us eventually. the human organism is the same at its smallest and largest scale. just as the parts of ourselves we don’t claim creep into our lives, keeping us from fully realizing our personal potential (the jealous side, the self-doubter, the depressed, the over eater…those are just some of my unclaimed parts, and they wreak havoc), at a societal level: those we leave out of our vision, we give no option but to fight us.

if we give them no future with us, what else can they do?

this is how we have become slaves over and over and over again, shackles or credit cards, given no real choice, no humanity.

look what it has made us.

as tempting as it is to hurt those who have taken so much from us, who have hurt us deeply – we cannot recreate that, we cannot continue in this back and forth of oppression and victimization and self-loathing and division.

because it is ourselves we hurt.

the 1% is our responsibility. our conservative family members, our passive family members, our secret selves. it’s our responsibility.

this is beyond the symbolism of flowers in guns – it strikes at the root of how we are living.

can we see all people as victims of our worst collective thinking with this current global economy, even those who appear to benefit (until you look at rates of suicide, addiction, and other signs of societal illness)?

if we are movement leaders who want the ultimate victory, we must claim the 100%, the whole ecosystem from heart to universe.

it seems daunting only if we remain parts of ourselves. if we see ourselves whole, then suddenly there is time and there is space…to heal, to move beyond judgment, to be just, to be visionary.

i say this in the context of egypt, in the context of the 99% movement – as we watch the cycles of revolution move from stunning inspiration to shocking terror, it is hard not to be overwhelmed by fear, to feel like we must urgently do things we know are not enough.

it is love, the emotion of wholeness, which we must cultivate. love is that interconnectedness, that tenderness, that compassion and forgiveness and laughter – and it is the only thing i have experienced which is greater than fear.

for what small part can ever conquer the whole? we must embody our fullness.

let us shirk off the limiting skin of a victimized 99%. i claim the whole, my own wholeness, my responsibility for what is, and what will be.

i claim it with myself, that i will forgive my shortcomings and indulge in caring for myself and taking the time for the healing i need…and that i will live each day in closer alignment with my values, however impossible it seems in this society.

i claim it with my loved ones, that i will love them with fierce and unrelenting honesty, non-judgment and compassion. i will give my family the attention that i have given my politics.

and i claim it with those who would be my enemy. i know you are hurting. i am grateful you live, when i live, so we can learn about love together.

only whole can we get free.

liberate the 100%!

waiting for babies (building movement skills)

the bulk of being a doula is waiting.

for two weeks before and two weeks after a baby’s due date, i commit to being available. my main work during that period is making sure the mama feels amazing and informed and is eating right and taking good care of her body, mind, heart.

and then it’s time. the window for birth opens. there is the long period where the mama is cramping, then having contractions, sometimes blood, sometimes exhaustion. the contractions are a sure sign, and maybe they build, but maybe they go away.

what i have noticed so far is that the mama generally feels ready, past ready, like her body is tired from carrying around this miracle for so long. she wants to have given birth. she may also be scared, scared of how birth will go, or scared because her life is not fully perfect and stable for the new one, or scared because of the change her life is about to go through.

either way, we wait. and either way, something is about to happen which will majorly transform everything. it is inevitable.

right now i am waiting on two babies.

for one, i am a back-up doula, on call to get the mama to the hospital when the time comes, and stay with her until her primary doula, who is further away, can get to her.

for the other, i have been with her for a while now, falling in love with her and her baby, seeing the ultrasounds, hearing the heartbeat, shifting the nutrition and watching the gorgeous unfolding of a mama in the same space where was a girl only a moment ago.

i feel acutely aware of the miraculous nature of this waiting. it is mundane. humans, in times of great transition such as birth and death, we do mundane things – check our phones, listen to music, notice the weather, take baths, try to get comfortable.

the truth that i know for sure is: nothing i do or don’t do will change the inevitable – a miracle is coming. soon mama and baby will walk up to the precipice of life and death, and make choices. the safety of darkness will press by, the light will overwhelm, air will rush into lungs and all over the body.

this is the every day miracle, our first and most common experience, arriving.

and the practice, the activity which makes the difference in how the miracle is experienced, is being patient. not a plodding reluctant patience, or a bitter martyr patience, but a quiet indulgent luscious patience – a reveling in the current moment as crucial and delightful. the patience of not driving or pushing ahead, obsessed with outcomes – but BEING with the exact experience, as it is. trusting the body, the baby, and the mama to know what to do, and when.

i am a beginner doula still, just learning. i am fascinated by all of this. it amazes me how much we know, if we can just listen to our whole selves.

i share the fascination and observations here because each aspect of it, the mundane, the miraculous, the slow inevitable changes, and most of all, the patience, feels immensely relevant to all the other aspects of my life right now – health, love, politics, family.

i am working on patience, becoming still enough to let the miracles come.
i know they are coming, i know it.

last night i cried for shelley

last week, the burned torso of a young transgendered woman named shelley hilliard, who had been missing for two weeks, showed up under a mattress off a highway in detroit.

shelley was one of the youth who participated in the amazing ruth ellis center, which provides a safe space for LGBT youth to be, learn, dance, and live in spite of the violent conditions most of them face outside the ruth ellis doors.

i do some volunteer work with the ruth ellis youth, and they are these incredible, beautiful, vulnerable children, pushed into surviving in any number of ways that expose them to violence every day – violence from their families, from bullies, from each other, or from those they turn to for basic needs.

and last night i couldn’t get away from what had happened – last night i cried for shelley.

i cried because i couldn’t find any peace in myself around it, i couldn’t find compassion for her killers.

lately i have been actively practicing compassion in all situations, experimenting with radical non-reaction. but last night I couldn’t get there…i was awash with fear and grief, just sitting with the way she died.

i experienced my fear in retrograde, going back through her last living moments, trying to find the instant where she knew there was danger, wanting to rescue her at that moment, even though i know better.

the survivor part of me always wants to be in some gallant army that always shows up to rescue young people from being molested, raped, murdered – sexually hurt in any way.

going back further, i want to find the moment where shelley needed to make the series of choices that put her body in someone else’s power, to destroy.

shelley was destroyed. by other humans.

and I know there is no rescue scenario that truly works to change power…but this murder really raises the question of what is that power, anyway. i believe in claiming power – how can these girls save themselves?

i want to see the solutions, but i can only concentrate on the pain sometimes. i just want to heal the pain, in myself, and heal the wounded people – individual to governmental – who only understand power as the capacity to hurt or kill another.

we have to change the pain, transform it.
we have to practice love wherever pain is, even when it seems impossible.
loved people don’t dismember, burn and discard other people.
i have to believe that.

it’s overwhelming what happened to shelley. and it is only possible because we hold as value-less the lives of transgender women, and sex working, sex-trading people.

if you have never experienced knowing yourself to be something your body does not express, it may be hard to understand the transgendered path. right now it’s an all out war on trans people. the average lifespan of a transgendered person is 23 years old.

even if you don’t get it, if it scares you…how can we cultivate the capacity to love people we can’t comprehend?

similarly, if you have never experienced true hunger or financial need, it may be hard to grasp what leads a young person to see their body as a valuable resource to trade for money, shelter, food…love.

along my path as a facilitator, i learned a powerful lesson from chicago’s young women’s empowerment project: prostitution is as old as capitalism. instead of asking why people sell and trade their bodies, we need to look critically, and eventually evolve beyond, this system which puts value on flesh and makes people compete to live.

people in the sex trade are survivors in this system, not creators of it.
if they survive.

i am so scared for the other girls, here in detroit and around the world – these beautiful transgender girls who are so brave, just being themselves in a world that still denies their existence on most official forms, in most bathrooms, in most spaces of real or perceived power.

why can’t they live?

why can’t we let them live, be on this earth with us?

why can’t we let them be women, or womyn, or wombyn with us? even in otherwise radically inclusive spaces, even in spaces created out of a need for safety, I have seen hate and exclusion boil up against trans people.

the most vulnerable living beings teach us what it means to be human.

it is devastating for me to hear shelley’s story, and to integrate the reality that part of what it means to be human right now is to be consumed by hatred, to be completely numb to the pain of another person, to have no love, to be able to turn off the heart, to cause harm to flesh, to see another being as parts.

all I can do is open myself up to it, which I do rarely these days. like many who are emotionally awake, i can be overwhelmed when it seems there is too much to feel.

when I do open myself up, when it blasts through my protective layers, like shelley’s death did last night, i find myself weeping uncontrollably.

crying for all of us who uphold a trans-phobic society where shelley, and other girls like her, can be murdered. crying because of the economic conditions that pit us against each other, make us oppositional, make us value sameness over difference.

crying for the healing needed in this region, where trans girls are disappearing regularly.

crying for girls who feel they can’t say no, who feel pressed to put themselves on the line between life and death every day, hoping to walk away with one more day to live, create, dance, exist.

i hope it’s safe wherever shelley is now.

meditation: fall/it all falls down

i love fall.

I love that fall is such a necessary part of the life cycle of earth where I live.

I love that in the fall we can see the beauty of change,
of death,
of decay
and letting go.

I love how the birds seem to have so much more sky to play in all the sudden. I love how all sorts of nests slowly come into view high up in the trees, another unseen ecosystem…
even as I worry about that exposure (what is safety?)

I love the ground covered in leaves which,
on their own,
will break down and feed the soil.

I love the colors, and the speed of them changing.

watching the same little tree in our lot go burgundy, lipstick red, deep orange, sun yellow, and then
stripped naked.

watching the twin male pear trees in our front yard turn, together, deep purple and gold.

I love the smells of fall.

(at our detroit doula potluck tonight we had 3 varieties of squash soup, and homemade (handpicked) apple sauce and zatar bread. it smelled like warmth and life and summer’s end.)

this season is a call to:
let go -> of busy-ness, overwhelm, untruths, and the social season of summer.
find -> warm places to sleep and work and be in a context of cold.
cherish -> sunlight. all other manifestations of heat.

as the starks say, winter is coming.

and this season makes me more deeply aware of the great imbalance of society, where there are so many people without warm places to just BE.

I don’t know how to let go of that,
but I don’t want to.

there are too many who have fallen through the cracks in this broken system, leaves falling on concrete,
bagged up in plastic,
raked up into piles/shelters
placed behind bars…

no where to go,
no way to stay in the cycle of a good life.

as the temperature drops i wrestle again with my socialzed urge to do charity from a place of pity. I don’t believe in that as a powerful act, politically. I know it maintains inequality, to do FOR instead of WITH.

I let the urge well up, change color, let go.

i am always asking: what does real power look like? in chaos, is power calm? is there power giving in to the inevitable, changing color? is there power in staying alive when expected to die?

every year I think these thoughts, watching the leaves fall, watching my street neighbors huddle and then go underground.

I want to always be this aware.

how long is this season, which feels so full of metaphors for this moment?

how long will our society be falling down?

(1 million people have left big banks in america, letting go, falling from the system to fertilize credit unions and community banks and social justice investment funds. the surface of our society ripples with changes that look like fire, catch on the wind and go.)

I know the trees will let go until they are bare –
but in our case the tree itself is rotten.
the forest is rotten.
we hear it, see it.

perhaps it all falls down.
and that could be terrifying,
(I love change, I fear change, I love change)
or as gorgeous as this fall season…
we cannot know.

winter is coming, and everything is shaking apart.

each unique transformation is a wonder on its own, and when seen altogether yields a vision that is breathtaking, incomprehensible to us as we are so contained in time and space and scope.

we can only know the great miracle by seeing wholeness in the tiniest portion.

I want to be as insignificant as a leaf right now,
letting go,
falling away,
trusting the matter of my existence
(as irrelevant on the individual level
as it is crucial to the needs of the many)
to the next iteration of life on earth

new words for new times

i have been wanting new words to fit this moment. i started coming up with words – mashing up words and remixing them…here is what i have come up with so far. i cannot vouch that no one has ever said them before, and i don’t feel like researching so much as just feeling creative.

do you have additions?

macrophilia: the fetishization of large scale change and ideas, often not rooted in reality and/or practice at the local level.

micro deficit disorder (MDD): the inability to understand that change has to happen at a micro level before it can manifest at the macro level.

microvisionary: someone who is incredibly innovative at seeing small scale changes and creating local transformation, and/or seeing the next most elegant step in a change process.

post-capitalism: the era we are heading into, where we shift priority from profits to people/planet, building an economy of relationships. we will look back on period of unchecked capitalism as a dark age for humanity, an age of social, global and spiritual immaturity.

rescaling: treatments and/or processes to help someone think at appropriate scale for the resources they actually have, and/or the resources of the planet.

shouldite: someone who fears doing work themselves, and primarily communicates in the frame of what others should do (in the form of suggestions)

unific: the incredible, magical energetic feeling of being one with another, with community, with society/humanity, with all existence.

We Are In The Future – Keynote for NASCO 2011

here are my written notes for the keynote i gave this past weekend to the North American Students of Cooperation Institute. it was an amazing group to speak with, think with, and be in community with at this moment in history!

—-

I am so honored to be here with all of you.

I want to start off by thanking you for the work you do to grow the practice of cooperation in the world. I am SO inspired by what you are already awakened to in terms of how the world works and how you choose to show up. 

I started writing this speech a few months ago, and so much has changed since then that I thought it might be out of date. but upon revisiting my early drafts, I was excited to see that the fundamental concept is still right on time. 

that is that WE – you and I, and all who are thinking about how we grow a new society in the shell of our capitalist global economy – we are living in the future. 

perhaps we always have been, but as a young activist I have definitely experienced this radical yearning for 1968 and the ways people were engaged in changing the world at that time. I wondered:

is my generation asleep?
are we historically boring?
what is OUR role, in the largest story?

I didn’t want to settle, as a person, as a generation. so i have thrown myself into changing the world since I was a student…

and now I look around me and it seems we are in a moment, awakening. 

in fact, it seems we are in the future.

I started to be aware that I had stepped out of my normal life and into the opening pages of an Octavia Butler science fiction novel when I first visited detroit a few years ago.

I had long been obsessed with apocalypse and trying to practice new ways of being human…suddenly I was in a city where everything was falling apart and bursting out of the ground and growing anew all at once.

the life cycle of society was uncovered, this composting city that capitalism threw away was bearing new fruit unlike any I’d ever tasted.

I don’t want to pretend like detroit is a utopia. i absolutely feel that way, but I think utopia is how you see the world, how you hold community… and it can be wherever you are. (people always come up to me after i speak about detroit and say – should i move there? the answer is no! do this work where you are!)

with detroit it’s more like, it’s the best of times its the worst of times, sci-fi style. 

I do think we are living in a post apocalyptic reality, a post industrial apocalypse.

and we in detroit, and in the us, and around the globe are both in and co-creating a budding post capitalist moment. we can already see that the age of unchecked capitalism was a dark age, and we can already feel light being shed on us from within…an enlightenment is opening up within us.

do you feel it? the quickness of communication, the breadth of alignment, the uprising of a new way?

–> turn to each other and share…how do u feel that new way showing up in your life? <--

now I have a term for this particular kind of thing, I call it the new-old. because though it feels new to us, its actually the most ancient way of being in community. cooperation. beloved community. communities of care, sharing the resources of the commons such that there is abundance. 

we have gone astray, been socialized astray, but we are remembering.

we are remembering cooperation on a global scale, in part because we are in a structure of competition that is falling apart, and we can just begin to remember that the world is our commons. 

Margaret Wheatley, who writes about complex science and social movements, has said that we are in the midst of systems collapsing under their own weight and viciousness.

i believe that our role in that collapse is two-fold. 

one is to protest and demonstrate and educate, so that people realize they are not at fault for failing in a system that survives based on failure. 

that is happening now, with the 99% movement. and I am consciously calling it the 99% movement, because we can do that, we must use the language that is most liberating for us. carlo albano says, ‘occupy is a tactic, 99% is a movement’, and I think we have to think about movement right now. that is one part of our work. 

the other part is actually turning away from competition in how we hold and grow and heal our communities.  in how we communicate with each other about our work. in how we educate our children and our parents and grandparents around our life choices. in how we resource our work.

we have all the tools and knowledge within us for how to dismantle competition as a way of interacting with each other. we have been cultivating these tools, sharing this knowledge with each other in millions of small efforts.

what is exciting about this moment is that our tools and knowledge are being called forth into the great living lab of transformation we call revolution. and in this moment, our two paths of revolution have come together, where our demonstrations are rooted in a public experience of cooperative community. 

things could look a lot of ways right now: chaos in the street, blowing up big banks, armed struggle against the 1%…we would be justified in all of it, given the disparities and injustices that are happening every second in this society.

but instead what we are lifting up – in tahrir square, and at occupy wall street in ny and oakland and detroit and ann arbor – we are lifting up….consensus! 

non-violent collective decision making and claiming space to – to BE with each other. 

as a facilitation evangelist i have been waiting for this moment for as long as i can remember – the whole world is talking about intentional decision making processes! which WE all know are crucial for shifting how we function in community.

we are also talking about: 
childcare!
recycling!
radical community sanitation!
accessibility!
how to respectfully interact and take leadership from the homeless and jobless!
how does existing movement interact with an influx of new interested people? 

berkana institute has a slogan – “whatever the problem, community is the answer”.

we are realizing that, collectively.

for experienced organizers and experienced cooperative thinkers, its a deep time…can we be humble enough to acknowledge both what we did to yield this movement, and what we didn’t do? 

can we teach AND learn in this moment? 

can we hold on tight to our principles of cooperation, and let go of any work that requires us to compete…not competing against each other for resources, but forming meaningful collaborations to spread our values and work?

can we let go of competition, even if it is competing between cooperative ways of living and competitive ways of living?

can we release judgment for those in our community still trying to get a job in this broken economy, needing to feed themselves – as we grow our own work?

can we stop arguing over tactics, and see that there are as many entry points to this movement as there are people?

can we evolve how we think of organizing?

because now is the time for humility.

these systems are so incredibly large because they are within us, too. competition, capitalism, is embedded so deeply in us, in our communities. we are not above it. we have to be humble, start small, stay connected, understand our decentralized power. 

in my mentor grace lee bogg‘s house, there is a quote on the wall: “organizing is to the community what spiritual practice is to the individual”.

I see what we are doing as the deep practice that can transform our society from competitive to cooperative. 

at the national level, i am part of a group called common fire. have you heard of us? our founders heard the statistic from diana leaf christianson that at least 90% of intentional communities fail. so they set out around the world to study the practices of the 10% that make it. 

from that research and their own lived experience, as well as being in touch with radical cultural transformation work, justice work, we have crystallized 4 essential characteristics for the communities we are building:

1. Ongoing Personal Growth and Dialogue – because the effectiveness of our collective movement is only as effective as the individuals themselves. For change to occur on a larger scale, each person must continually uncover their true self by understanding their past experiences and personal barriers.

2. Engagement of a Diversity of People — so our communities and work reflect the needs of all of us, and better reflect our collective wisdom for how to address our needs. We are creating communities that are accessible and meaningful to a broad range of people.

3. Aligning Our Lives with Our Beliefs — Much of the violence and destruction in the world today arises not from malice, but from people being invested in the current systems and contributing to them in small ways that add up and give those systems power. We’re committed to helping people within these communities weave integrity into the many facets of everyday life.

4. Bridging Transformation in the Community to Transformation in the World – These communities will not be places where people retreat from the world, but ones that allow them to more powerfully step into the world. this is not about othering ourselves, or division. it’s about, as grace Boggs says, growing our souls. so that when we are engaged in transformation in the world it is rooted in loving practice, muscle memory. 

so now we are applying these concepts, building and living  intentional and cooperative community examples in a u.s. context.

as a lover of detroit, i think it’s also important to uplift practices of intentional cooperative work happening at the organizational and network level.

work is the space where most people spend most of their waking hours. if you are cooperative at home and not in your life’s work, then you need to go harder…and in that respect detroit is hard as hell.

detroit is ripe for cooperation because capitalism has been overtly failing the city for about 35 years now. it is not uncommon to meet someone who is thinking beyond, or post, capitalism there…whether that person is driving your cab, homeless in the park, working with labor unions, or building peace zones to replace policing with mediation.

one quote that the late jimmy boggs said of detroit years ago – “we don’t have a lot of jobs, but we got a lot of work to do”. 

after being a ‘world citizen’ for over 30 years, I have lived in detroit for just two years, and am more deeply inspired by that work than anything else I have experienced. 

the first thing is the proliferation of networks – translocal bodies that are organized around shared principles. 

– I get to work with the detroit food justice task force, which is 10 organizations with a simple goal: just feed detroit. we are rooting the food systems of detroit into a justice analysis…

we have a lot of land in detroit, and a lot of hungry people. and the urban agricultural movement is huge, but the number of people needing food – cheap food, healthy food, local nutritious food – that number is massive.

we are going to achieve food self-determination in detroit, local food for our people, with our dollars flowing to local growers instead of out of state to kroger’s and safeway.

but our principles have had us focus on going slow, entering community with respect and uplifting community leadership, and being with each other in community as we have lost loved ones, faced financial challenges, gotten sick – and still done beautiful grounded and accountable work together. 

allied media projects, which hosts the incredible allied media conference every summer, was in community for years before articulating the principles and practices that make us unique.

I live by those principles, such as –
we begin by listening, and,
we assume our power, not our powerlessness, and,
the greatest solutions come from the most vulnerable communities because they have had to be the most creative to survive.

– the digital justice coalition sparked out of allied media’s work, and took the environmental justice principles, and the allied media principles, and mashed them up to create a set of principles around how what we believe is the fundamental human right to communicate was only possible if we uplifted access, participation, common ownership and healthy communities in our work.

detroit future youth network is spending 18 months to bring together 12 youth media organizations with the belief that as a larger body in alignment, they can catalyze a youth movement in detroit, sharing resources and skills to maximize the strength of the whole. 

– and we even have a space now, the cass corridor commons. this space grew out of a dream most recently articulated during the 2010 us social forum to continue collaborative work in detroit. 

we are slowly building up our core principles now, in a space which has long belonged to the unitarian universalists, who still hold services there. it is in the heart of a community that is being gentrified very quickly, but which also has a movement history, and a huge foreclosed on homeless population.

we reclaim the history of the neighborhood by calling it cass corridor, while the gentrifiers are trying to rename it. and our being there is a major expression of how important place is to movement. 

we have a healing space, a theater space, sacred space, a people’s kitchen, a gender fabulous bike shop, and a cutting edge environmental justice organization there so far, building vision together.

I could go on for 18 hours probably about how cooperation is growing in detroit.

the themes are that we are sharing leadership, sharing decision making, sharing resource generation and resource use, and that we work from principles.

the tide is visibly turning, after we have all been working for so long, across generations, on the shoulders of those who came before. after knowing in our hearts that capitalism is a dysfunctional system we have to build on top of, because we understand that nothing disappears, it just transforms.

the shift is happening, within us, and all around. 

and it’s turning because we are finding the principles that matter to us, principles that allow us to live and grow cooperatively.

we are lifting THOSE PRINCIPLES up as our call to action, instead of continuing to demand a change from those who most benefit from the status quo. 

last story – our work in detroit is intergenerational, and recently an organizer just a little older than me called me after sitting in a session with a black labor movement elder named general baker, who is a wonderful teacher on movement in detroit. she was deeply moved by what he’d said.

he said, ‘we have been asking where are all the people? why aren’t the people out here in this movement?’

he said ‘that is the wrong question – we need to be asking ourselves, will we be ready when they show up? because it is inevitable that they will show up.’

are we ready for that? 

close your eyes…I want to read you my favorite thing, a piece of prophecy from a Hopi elder:

“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is THE HOUR.

And there are things to be considered…

Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What are your relationships?

Are you in right relation?

Where is your water?

Know your garden.

It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community.

Be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation

…thank you.

– nov 5, 2011, ann arbor mi