Hello, Universe

I’ve been struggling  and I know I’m not alone. We in the United States have been told in very clear terms that we are on our own. Our government serves the wealthy and powerful, and that’s it. We the People get crumbs while the elites party on.

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Mental health is a huge issue for many, many people right now. Life’s always been a tough row to hoe, but this pandemic has upped the ante. I’m fortunate in that I have my writing. The middle-grade novel I’ve worked on for the past eight months has been my lifeline. I am very grateful for this project. However, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be sending the manuscript to my agent by the end of the month. And then what? Each time I think of COVID minus a writing project, my anxiety surges.

So here’s my official statement to the universe: Hellooo, I am open to new story ideas!

 

Thankful Thursday: Sunrise Movement

Today I’m (again) exceedingly grateful for Sunrise Movement. These young people are  fighting with moral clarity, passion, and a fierce determination.  They endorsed Green New Deal candidates across the country and played a key role in Jamaal Bowman’s victory in New York on Tuesday and what is looking like a victory for Charles Booker in Kentucky. Incredible!

And next up is Colorado’s U.S. Senate primary on June 30th. Sunrise endorsed Andrew Romanoff and I can tell you Sunrise Colorado is on overdrive. Phonebanking, flyering, etc. On Monday, we were in front of Hickenlooper’s house and the crew got me so fired up that I shouted myself hoarse and clapped a big ol’ purple bruise in my palm.

 

Here are some of my Sunrise cohorts in the streets. June 2020.

The tides are turning and the young aren’t going to settle for entrenched, corporate politicians. Change is coming!  So, so grateful for Sunrise Movement! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Defund the Police

The growing movement that calls for defunding the police, instead putting that money into community programs, is getting push-back from the pundits, elites, consultants, establishment politicians . . .aka the comfortable/powerful. Why?

The policemen or soldiers are only a gun in the establishment’s hand. They make the racist secure in his racism. ~Huey Newton

Photo credit: Ira L. Black – Corbis – Getty Images

We dump obscene amounts of money into police departments around the country, departments that harass, oppress, and murder Black people.

The NYPD’s budget is $6,000,000,000. That’s more than the city spends on health, homelessness, youth development and workforce development COMBINED.

That NYPD budget is higher than the entire military budget of Ukraine, a country with a population 5x that of NYC.

NYC spent $229.8 million on police misconduct lawsuits in a single year.

But it’s not just NYC. Austin’s police department budget is $440,000,000. That’s more than the city spends on public health, housing, libraries, city planning, parks & recreation and EMS combined.

Minneapolis spent more than 11 percent of its budget on policing. For comparison, just 1.5 percent went to the Health Department.

LAPD budget: $3.14 billion

CDC budget: $11 billion
+ EPA budget: $9 billion
+ FEMA budget: $3 billion
+ OSHA budget: $558 million
_____________________________
= TOTAL: $23.6 billion
**************
US police budget: $115 billion

I could go on and on, but it’s pretty clear: this insanity must end.
#DefundPolice

Shared moon

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Those are the same stars, and that is the same moon, that look down upon your brothers and sisters, and which they see as they look up to them, though they are ever so far away from us, and each other.                       ~ Sojourner Truth

Centuries in the making

March 1964 photo by Marion S. Trikosko (donated to public domain)

I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.  — Malcolm X

People before property

              Denver from my front yard.             May 27, 2020.

Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thankful Thursday: hoopla edition

This morning I woke planning to run on the trails. Then I looked out the window and saw tree branches bouncing in the wind. Instead, I opted to hoop inside.

Hooping with my niece D in Ohio. August 15, 2019.

I haven’t hoop-danced in quite a while. I’ve attempted it a few times over the past months, but couldn’t summon enough oomph. This whole pandemic situation and the blatant desertion of working people by the political elite of both parties is exhausting. And infuriating, rage-inducing, horrific, etc. And did I mention exhausting? No dancing for this one.

Until this morning. People, I hoop-danced for 25 minutes and pretty much grinned the whole time!

Take that, you soulless ghouls. I refuse to be broken.

Newsflash: we all need a haircut BUT

. . .bad hair days aren’t enough reason to accelerate the spread of COVID-19.

Wildebeest at Zebu’s graduation. May 11, 2018.

Yesterday, Denver nurses stood in intersections to remind the selfish flag-waving assholes in huge trucks that their demands to reopen the state so they could get their nails done were putting healthcare workers and others at risk.  Today, Colorado’s governor (Jared Polis) announced he was lifting our stay-at-home order on April 27.

I’m so exhausted.

We the People

Arizona, July 1972 (National Archives)

From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.
~ Cesar Chavez

John Prine, rest in power

It feels particularly cruel to lose a man of such empathy and wit right now. If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s people sensitive to the struggles of others. John Prine left us a catalog of songs that illustrate a deep understanding of people’s inner lives and the moments that often go unremarked. He was a treasure.

In the fall of 2002, President George W. Bush was beating the war drums (with the enthusiastic help of Democrats like Senator Joe Biden) in preparation for invading Iraq. During those months, I played “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” an awful lot. It was my way of maintaining equilibrium during those days of flag-based jingoism. Because, no exaggeration, flags and flag decals were EVERYWHERE. My family attended anti-war rallies in Denver during that fall and spring of 2003, and I helped the boys make signs that expressed their sentiments. Here’s Zebu in the middle, holding his sign.

Civic Center Park, Denver. October 28, 2002.

That sign was always a big hit at rallies because, once again, John Prine had nailed it.

While digesting Reader’s Digest in the back of a dirty book store
A plastic flag, with gum on the back fell out on the floor
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside, slapped it on my window shield
And if I could see old Betsy Ross I’d tell her how good I feel
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
Well, I went to the bank this morning and the cashier he said to me
“If you join the Christmas club we’ll give you ten of them flags for free”
Well, I didn’t mess around a bit, I took him up on what he said
And I stuck them stickers all over my car and one on my wife’s forehead
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
Well, I got my window shield so filled with flags I couldn’t see
So, I ran the car upside a curb and right into a tree
By the time they got a doctor down I was already dead
And I’ll never understand why the man standing in the pearly gates said
“But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
We’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war”
“Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore” 

Well, the U.S. ignored the millions of us around the world who over and over took to the streets to say NO WAR ON IRAQ, and invaded in March 2003 (with Senator Bernie Sanders voting against invasion and occupation). John Prine died on April 7, 2020, and minutes after I’d finally dragged my sad self out of bed this morning, I learned Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign.

Today is an especially hard day on the planet. Think I’ll put “In Spite of Ourselves” on repeat and sit in the sun.

John Prine, rest in power.

Thoughts on a Magpie Monday

I woke with anxiety (in large part exacerbated by the reality of the corporate, political, and media establishment rallying around the candidate who’s campaigning against Medicare for All during a pandemic) and knew I had to do something. Pull the covers over my head and remain in bed all day? Or get up and get moving?

I wisely chose movement and for the first time in weeks, went for a run. Well, a walk/run. For once, I was kind to myself and didn’t berate myself whenever I slowed to a walk. I went out on the trails in the open space and within minutes, I saw a bunny under a bush. I greeted it as I chugged on by and then a few minutes later, I spotted a talkative magpie perched on the water tank.

Black-billed Magpie in neighbor’s yard. August 29, 2019.

I’ve become accumstomed to being the only human out on the trails, but today I encountered a total of ten people and three dogs. I hope that if they also woke with anxiety, that their time in the open space soothed their souls. I know it did me a world of good.

Knock-knock

Zippy and I knocked on doors for Bernie Sanders today. We started out together because he’d never canvassed before, but after one block, Zippy confidently headed out with his own list.

The day was a beautiful experience, in multiple ways. One, it was sunny and downright balmy (high 40s) which was a welcome reprieve after this week’s frigid temperatures and yesterday’s blizzard. Two, we started the day with about 50 enthusiastic volunteers, including a couple with a cute-cute-cute baby. Three, I had some really great conversations with voters I contacted. And four, it was gratifying to canvas for a candidate I truly believe in (as opposed to knocking doors for a lesser evil).

As I said in several of today’s conversations: I’m not naive enough to think our problems will be solved merely by electing Bernie Sanders. We have a lot of fights ahead of us if we’re going to turn this ship around. But the beauty of Bernie’s campaign is that he welcomes we-the-people in those fights. He knows he needs us and he embraces our participation because we will only win if we stand together to fight for the common good (which includes a Green New Deal and Medicare For All).

Bernie Sanders is the one candidate with an army of people ready and willing to take to the streets for equity and justice. Today, I was proud to be a Bernie Bro.

Emancipation transportation

Amsterdam. April 29, 2017

Susan B. Anthony said that the bicycle did more to emancipate women than any other single thing. The bicycle was linked in the psyches of women at that time as a symbol of practical emancipation. Women could go places, wear their skirts shorter to manage the bicycle, and be independent.  ~ Susan Vreeland

Me asking for help

A few days ago I posted about getting arrested and jailed with the young people in our local Sunrise Movement hub. I took the post down when I realized it might somehow be used against me in court. Today I’m back with a link to our GoFundMe page for legal costs.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/urgent-legal-fees-needed-for-co-youth-activists

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Please don’t feel obligated to donate, but I thank you in advance if you do throw a few dollars our way. And if you see fit to amplify the message in your social media, I also thank you.

Solidarity!

We all got arrested

That’s me in solidarity with some of the best and bravest young people I know (Sunrise Movement cohorts) just minutes before we were all handcuffed and taken to jail. Our crime? Asking to be heard on the climate emergency. Asking for justice for the Bella Romero Academy community that has a fracking site less than 700 feet from the school. Asking for a just transition for oil and gas workers so they can have safe, good-paying jobs that don’t poison the environment. Asking for that just transition to focus on the marginalized people and communities most affected by climate injustice.

Waiting to be processed by law enforcement officers after interrupting the State of State speech by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in the state Capitol Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Some of the 38 activists arrested were in jail 30 hours. An 18-year-old high school girl was released at the same time as me: 28 hours after arrest. Many of us (white women of privilege) feel an even more urgent need to (also) fight for prison reform. Speaking only for myself, one day in that system was extremely stress-inducing, demoralizing, and disorienting. I thought I knew how bad it was for incarcerated people, but I absolutely didn’t fully understand the emotional toll. The experience was frequently dehumanizing and traumatic.

I have SO MANY thoughts and feelings about those hours. But because my brain is still in recovery mode, I will just say this: We can and must do better.

For the people and the planet.

Thankful Thursday

Today I’m thankful for the passion and energy of the young people in the Sunrise Movement. Last night, largely due to Sunrise’s heroic efforts, CNN held a 7-hour, in-depth conversation about the climate crisis and what needs to be done in order to avert the worst of it. Seven hours, people!

I tried to remember that today as I researched my work-for-hire bird project. Because, while I was thrilled to be eyeballs-deep in bird information, I was also disheartened over and over again to discover that many of those amazing, new-to-me birds’ existences are threatened due to human actions. Our species has made so many mistakes and we continue to make them with blatant disregard for the planet.

BUT. Last night was proof it’s possible to shift the conversation and for that, I am exceedingly grateful. All hail the Sunrise Movement!

Taking back the color red

The other day I saw a neighbor walking up the street ahead of me. In 2016,  that white woman displayed a political sign in support of Agent Orange (something I don’t think I’ll ever forgive or forget), and when I saw her walking along in her red T-shirt I experienced a surge of anger. That red shirt triggered a stream of expletives about how she supported a white supremacist. (Poor Zippy had to endure that volcanic eruption.) Stupid mean people. Stupid red shirt.

But you know what? All the horrible racist people in this country don’t own the color red. Red is a beautiful color. Red belongs to all of us.

Cave Creek Canyon Ranch. May 16, 2019.

And no one wears it better than this dapper Northern Cardinal.

#Gravelanche: Peace, Justice, and Mike Gravel

Today’s mail brought something fun:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A packet of Pentagon rolling papers from presidential candidate Mike Gravel. Mike Gravel, former U.S. senator from Alaska, is running for president (and last month his campaign offered these papers in exchange for a donation). These papers are meaningful because while a Senator in 1971, Mike read a portion of the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record. He believed the public had the right to know the truth behind the Vietnam War.

It’s true that Mike Gravel is an older white man. But, he’s also the most antiwar, anti-imperialist in the field of candidates and we need him at the Democratic debates. We need his perspective and brutal honesty. In order to qualify for the DNC debates, Mike needs 65,000 individual donations. I’m imploring everyone reading this to donate $1 each to help him reach the quota.

Mike Gravel is against endless war. Both wars for oil and the so-called “war on drugs.” We need Mike’s honesty and passion on these issues during the debates. Please join the #Gravelanche and make a donation today.

Terrible feeling of déjà vu

I wore this shirt while camping this week. Its message is just as timely today as it was when I bought it during war criminal George W. Bush’s presidency.

The back reads:
What is the Downing Street Memo?
On May 1, 2005, The Times of London published a July 2002 memo from the head of British intelligence, who had just returned from Washington, to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Written seven months before the war in Iraq began, the memo says that President Bush, contrary to what he told the American people, had already decided to go to war and, even worse, that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Meaning, the Bush administration was intentionally fabricatinng evidence linking Saddam to WMD and terrorism in order to trick the American people and Congress into going to war. 

The more things change the more they stay the same. The greedheads/warmongers of the military industrial complex can’t ever get enough.

Recap of Green New Deal town hall

Last night the Boulder/Denver hub of the Sunrise Movement held a town hall meeting on the Green New Deal. It was organized by the two young leaders who worked their tails off to put it together. I’m the group’s token Baby Boomer (my words, not theirs) and was proud to assist Michele Weindling and Nick Tuta as I could. We had over 100 people show up on Memorial Day, many of them young people who care so deeply about the climate crisis they dedicated their last evening of the long weekend to activism. Impressive and humbling.

As I listened to the speeches from young activists and watched the Green New Deal presentation that included the many, many challenges facing young people today (decision to not have children due to climate crisis, crushing student debt, stagnant wages and tight job field, etc.) I teared up. And when those same speakers declared their resolve and refusal to back down from their demands for real action on the climate crisis and environmental equality/justice, I wept some more.

These young people aren’t going to take No for an answer and politicians best wise up. They either need to Step Up or Step Aside. We need a Green New Deal.

Forgot my camera so have just this one blurry shot of me in my Green New Deal bandana. We had a table for people to make one for themselves, their kids, or dogs.

Please support the young people in their efforts for a sustainable future and contact your representatives to demand they co-sponsor this aspirational resolution. Thank you in advance!