random: i’m a futurist, and an INFP

“i am a futurist.”

i am trying this out, i have been saying it to people more. like, i think to myself that i am a philosopher and theologian and writer and facilitator and science fiction fan and an organizer and a visionary and a geek…but all of that comes together at moments into a larger thing, which is that i am a creater, predictor, pattern-watcher, midwife of the next. a futurist.

and what are the skills for tomorrow? there’s no way i could know. but i suspect there is a future i would like more than any others…and i can see which skills would be most useful to me in the future i am manifesting, and these are the ones i am developing: facilitation. truth and reconciliation. laughter. cooking. being a really good guide and companion to children.

i am actually considering how to carve some time out in my life just to think about reorienting my life and the lives of as many people as possible towards viable futures, informed by patterns of the past, by the science of the present, by collective community processes…

so that’s that. try it. adrienne maree the futurist.

this is definitely influenced by having a meeting with salina gray from stanford university today, and talking about afro-futurism, my district 9 review, her district 9 campus conversations, why youth of color need to learn science to be a part of a future that includes their success…not just existence or survival but success! i see that future. we can get there.

in OTHER news…

i took a facebook quiz, which i occasionally do as a relaxation technique which requires less commitment than meditation. here’s what it came out with:

INFP (Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Perception)

which means:

“You are idealistic, loyal to your values and to people who are important to you. You want an external life that is congruent with your values. You are curious, quick to see possibilities, and can be a catalyst for implementing ideas. You seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. You are adaptable, flexible, and accepting unless a value is threatened. Famous people with your same INFP personality include: Mary the Blessed Virgin, Hellen Keller, William Shakespeare, John F. Kennedy Jr., Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Julia Roberts.”

there are no INFPs of color i guess. whenever i have taken this test in the past i have been on the line between extrovert and introvert, and between feeling and judging. facebook makes it simpler, and as i age it is more true, i am a hermit-geek-introvert and this facebook quiz result is alarmingly accurate.

in OTHER news…

a list of readings based on our afro-futurism-science conversation today:

neuromancer, by william gibson
babel 17, samuel r. delaney
anything by octavia butler
the universe in a single atom, dalai lama

geek out! 🙂

I, Radical.

The role of the ‘radical’ is no longer to be angry – it’s to be visionary, loving and solution oriented.

Can I say this?

I have heard others voice this redefinition, and when I hear it I feel a big amen inside me.

And then I start thinking of solution-oriented direct actions, since that’s my field. Liberating heat and water to communities when the government shuts them off. Guerilla gardens on rooftops and in abandoned lots. Reclaiming space to serve communities. Not thinking of front lines as spaces for aid and help, but as the actual front line in a battle for How we will be as humans, a line which we advance with our actions.

**************

This is on my mind because today I joined my friend Roxana Zuniga, a PhD candidate at Wayne State, to speak with a group of students at Kalamazoo College, where a Center for Social Justice Leadership is being launched. Tomorrow we will speak with teachers and administrators at the college, but today was for the students.

Their questions had a lot to do with how to organize, how to go in and work with “marginalized” and “disenfranchised” communities, and how to make the impact long-lasting.

I realized listening to their questions, and their perspectives on their lives, how radical my perspective has always been, but how my definition of radical has shifted. I have felt and been fueled by righteous anger, but it wasn’t until I started honing my skill in developing vision and solutions that I truly became effective.

I also realized, as I always do with students, that there are key things I wish I had been told when I was a student, full of energy and wanting to change the world.

Here are some key points that emerged from our conversation as essential for a young college radical today:

1. Don’t come to help! Come to work and transform. Absolutely let yourself be moved into action by injustice, but start the transformation by looking around you. Look at your own practices – where you spend money, your taxes, how you treat people. Look at your family, your community…what could you change in your home or community that would have an impact regionally, nationally, or globally? Work to transform yourself and your community before you hop on a plane, train or bus to go “help” others.

2. Always learn (and teach) people to fish. Your impact will multiply if you think of every interaction as a potential exchange of ideas and skills that will continue to serve you and the community long after you leave. Don’t make folks dependent on you, especially if you’re out at the end of the semester or study abroad or summer.

3. Be clear about whether you are making a short-term or long-term commitment. If you’re in a space for a few hours, days, weeks, or even months, don’t pretend you are impacted in the same way that those who live there are, or that you know more than they do about what’s needed. If you chose to be there, and you can leave whenever you want, recognize that privilege.

An additional practice: learn to be in temporary community. Ruckus sets up action camps where folks can practice being in a community of action, equality, awareness, composting, outhouses, camping, and shared chores. We aren’t making a life-long commitment to hold these participants – we’re making a week-long commitment. The clearer we are about our commitment, the more present we can be.

4. The world is yours to experience, not experiment with. Keep a beginner’s mind, a learning mind, and look for the wisdom in everything, but honor and respect all the ways people are surviving in this world. Other humans are not yours to try things out on.

Other thoughts that occurred to me today:

Stop observing! Release the false notion that you can be objective, and recognize that you invest in a path for all of humanity with how you live, breath, think, and spend. Get off the wall and dance.

Read more science fiction! (Octavia Butler, William Gibson, Philip K Dick, Samuel R. Delaney and Ursula K. LeGuin to start with.) (Specifically, Parable of the Sower, Neuromancer, A Scanner Darkly, Dhalgren and The Left Hand of Darkness.)

Also, read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. All the way through. At least three times before you’re 25.

More tomorrow!

time capsule: may 26, 2009

a lot of things happened in the world today.

the california supreme court upheld prop 8, meaning gay marriage is still banned in california. the 18,000 marriages that happened in the window of enlightened thinking when gay marriage was legal will be upheld. as i’ve said before, i believe in civil unions for all, and marriage – gay or straight – as something that should be decided, however slowly, by churches. but this isn’t about that finer point, and we all know it. it’s about how much folks hate/fear what they don’t understand.

the supreme court overturned a ruling that stops police from questioning a defendant without a lawyer present.

tensions are spiking between north and south korea.

there were swine flu deaths in new york and a massive cyclone hit india and bangladesh.

a couple of weeks ago i got to sit with grace lee boggs again, which is always elucidating. sitting with anyone who is 94 is humbling. everything that feels so pressing and urgent and important at this moment gets shifted into a meta-perspective. more than any other 90+ year old i have ever met, grace pushes my mind, and after i have left her presence, questions that she voiced return. this last time she asked a question that she and her late husband/philosophical-partner Jimmy have been asking for years: what time is it on the clock of the universe?

on a day like today, when the bulk of major decisions and conversations seem so regressive, our species seems so infantile – do we fight or exclude? is there a way to make our failing justice system more unfair for those without resources?

the hope for our species is not at the statewide or federal levels of decision making, though we must keep strategically advancing our causes in those spaces. its at the local level, its in small victories.

a week ago yesterday a woman was attacked in the driveway behind my house, and my neighbors and i responded. yesterday, the woman who was attacked stopped by the bbq happening on our patio. i missed her, i was up this mountain i go to when i want to get away from technology. but she came, and she’s healing. as much as my neighbors and i have loved each other, this event brought us closer, and opened up more relationships between us and the larger community. on a small scale we participated in humanity stepping up to the gift of reason. reason can be used to resolve conflict, to help others, to strengthen community. this is happening in organized and unorganized ways all over the world – people are crafting the world they want instead of waiting for failed systems to miraculously work.

at this moment people are writing and living the solutions. here’s what i’m reading today, and what i recommend everyone else read:

Margaret Wheatley’s Leadership in the New Sciences and Turning to One Another

William Gibson‘s All Tomorrow’s Parties. Start with Neuromancer, then Idoru, Burning Chrome, Pattern Recognition. He writes about the future in ways that make you want to go there, in ways that expose cultural shifts and why they happen.

and, Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent. Honestly, I just finished this book, and it made me excited about the ways of women. How we heal, care, birth, hold the space for miracles. While reading this I crystallized some thinking about processes for change: if the greatest miracle we know of – making life – can happen as a complete process in roughly 9 months, then why are we so slow at everything else? And in this world of today, where I can hardly find a space for a non-reactionary conversation because there is so much crap to react to, that knowledge of time gives me hope.

Because, to respond a little to grace’s question, the moment in the universe is one in which we (possibly the only sentient beings like ourselves, hopefully not) are becoming aware, through the sciences or through our own experiences of the changes in our environment, that our time here as a species is not infinite. And so we are turning away from the irresponsible and childish behaviors that we have called our nature, and our curiosity for how to live and be with each other is bursting up through the seams of old society.

It won’t be long before the idea of banning gay marriage will be seen as shameful and ignorant by the mainstream. Shortly after that it will be taken for granted, and who knows how it will show up in the history books.

We will learn from our collective experience, though those lessons may not show up in the mainstream of our culture in ways that we feel represent us. But here in the margins – margins of identity, of class, of philosophical leanings, of futurists – there’s clarity, there’s pride, there’s indignation, and there’s experiential learning of how to be with each other, how to make decisions for the collective good.

i have a crush on the future…

today was a good day for pushing the emotional futuristic quadrant of my brain (if that’s an actual scientific part i don’t know where it is).

first my Friend’s favorite artist william kentridge (or one of the top 5) surprisingly has an exhibit at sf moma, so we went. The exhibit was breathtaking, brought tears to my eyes, made me gasp with delight and wonder, and feel like someone had seen my whole life story and turned it into a delicate mechanical puppet dance and set it to opera and south african funeral songs. dude is a south african artist who makes these videos by drawing in charcoal, filming the drawing, erasing and adjusting the drawing and filming it more. the effect of this erasing is that the image grows in fading layers upon itself, it imitates life, nothing is gone, only faded, leaving residue. he creates these intricate worlds, engulfs the viewer in an entire emotional process, like looking at the inside of the heart of apartheid, or love.

one collection was self portraits where his self seemed to live within a larger simpler drawing of a monster – the monster felt what he felt, or responded to him with rage.

another theme was processions of people with belongings on their backs and heads, or in a frozen dance, reminding me of another shadow puppet artist who focuses on slavery-era images of black people. dance and displacement.

in each piece, things are constantly transforming, moving into flight, away from gravity, beyond what we know to be true of the physical world. in a room with 7 or 8 projections of him creating, there is a video at the end in which a naked woman follows him around, touches him gently, but when he senses her, she disappears – it’s everything about love and longing and grief, that subtlety, ah.

i cannot express how much this experience pleased my mind.

also, one of the arias used in the puppet show that made me cry was sampled in the kelis song “Like You”, so that rediscovery was nice.

then we strolled across the yerba buena gardens to the imax theater for star trek. false advertising in effect – star trek wasn’t playing on the imax screen for 6 hours, so we went to a normal big ass screen. it was my second viewing and i was just as thrilled as i was the first time.

anyone who has read just about any post on here knows this already, but it never ceases to amaze me – i have the biggest crush on the future. i love the toys, and the possibility of space and other species. i love how large and unknown the universe is and how that makes our painfully slow emotional development on earth more bearable.

i’m not talking about the Actual future, but the amazing future as imagined in the past. the future as seen from the 60s and 70s is particularly delicious, because it has the best of that period of style against the wildest imaginings of what exists. even the amazing future as we are imagining it now – the best of technological advances with some sort of moral evolutions that make us not want to kill and consume everything ASAP.

the anticipation makes me blush, i want to write notes to the future – will i like you, check yes or no? i imagine new toys, capabilities, and norms, particularly around moving from one place to another, and organic, grown structures as opposed to dead and temporary ones.

and in terms of this movie, i like the boots. older spock’s coat?? i want it. beaming? i want some! i already do a lot of nonviolent empath here, i want the right outfit.

my Friend laughed hard at my obvious excitement, but the future is cooler than any composure we keep about this moment. this moment is exciting, and i am doing better work on being present, but the biggest challenge is that my heart is light years ahead of me, and sometimes i feel like i have a butterfly in my chest, mostly when deeply engaging with william gibson, octavia butler, samuel r delany, phlilip dick, or a really well-made sci-fi movie or show like battlestar or star trek. some days i feel more there than here.

walking out of the movie with the view of yerba buena gardens and the sf moma rising in the distance, i could see it everywhere, coming. its a great way to create, to look at the world now and think of what would make it more awesome.

ok, now to try and pull my brain back into here and now, there’s a lot to deal with.