Organize, agitate, educate, must be our war cry.
~ Susan B. Anthony
I went to the Families Belong Together rally today at Civic Center Park in Denver. Turnout was high and I was grateful to be surrounded by so many outraged and engaged people. We heard music and the stories of immigrants from different parts of the globe. I cried. When the emotions felt too overwhelming, I focused on the signage.
I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever, but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement.
~ Angela Davis
There is so much work to be done.
I’ve said this before and I’m gonna say it again: I’m very grateful for my creative life.
For the past few days, I’ve immersed myself in a work-in-progress project I’d had to put on hold for much of December while working on another, and yesterday told Zippy I’d fallen in love with the manuscript all over again. I’m grateful to love the work I do.
Today my gratitude is more specifically about the refuge my fiction provides. Admittedly, it’s not an impenetrable fortress. Earlier, I had to make a shaking-mad phone call to my House Rep’s office after learning about his pro-NSA surveillance vote and I just hopped onto Twitter in time to read about Agent Orange’s racist and hateful remarks about people from Haiti, Africa, and Latin America. The very act of writing that out has me so agitated, I’m now chewing at my cuticles. Clearly, the people and places in my head don’t keep the ugly at bay 24/7.
I do have an outlet when the current reality feels too horrible to contemplate. And I hope that’s true for everyone, whether it’s watching goat videos or smelling sweet puppy breath or welding sculptures or hiking or drumming or blowing raspberries on a baby’s chubby tummy or resting in a pool of sunshine or . . .
Please, do whatever it takes.
This morning I did my twice-monthly volunteer stint with the Denver VOICE. As the non-profit’s Twitter bio states: “The Denver VOICE is a monthly newspaper that provides entrepreneurial opportunities to people who are homeless or impoverished.” It’s a wonderful organization that can help people earn enough money to get off the streets.
During today’s session at the distribution desk (where I sold papers for 50 cents to the vendors who will vend them for a suggested $2 each), I shared many smiles and laughs. It was a good morning. And then, near closing time, one more vendor came in the office. It was a man who struggles with mental health issues, and today was particularly difficult for him. He became agitated and then emotional. It was heartbreaking to witness someone in such a vulnerable condition.
As I drove home, I cried. For the umpteenth time I thought, “Life is a hard row to hoe.” But then I remembered the GOP greedheads who are rushing through tax legislation that will decimate the safety net that’s supposed to support the nation’s most vulnerable, and my anguish turned to outrage.
How dare they turn their backs on people struggling to keep their heads above water?How dare those politicians enrich themselves and the already uber-wealthy at the expense of the rest of us? And, perhaps most importantly, why aren’t we taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks?
Today I went through my email and unsubscribed from every political, environmental, and news organization that sends me updates, action alerts, petitions, pleas for money, links to never-ending bad news, etc.
I’m worn out and run-down. Exhausted.
Between the constant assault on the planet and the constant assault on the most vulnerable/powerless people of the planet, I’ve had enough. (Note: These assaults aren’t new, just more blatant than before.)
I’ve fought the good fight for many years, and I know I’m needed now. But I also know I’m no good to anyone or anything if I’m not healthy. So I’m temporarily changing my status from Activist to Inactive.
Today I’m taking action for me.
I plan on watching lots of cavorting goat videos.
Zippy and I just took Emma for a walk around our neighborhood. As we walked, we noted the bright, outdoor lights shining on the marjority of houses we passed. It was a relief whenever we passed dark houses. A break for our eyes.
As annoying as those bright lights are for me, they can be life and death for birds during migration time. (And yes, I understand that lights on tall buildings are more problematic for birds than suburban lighting.)
I still wish that all people, both urban and suburban, worried less about what might be lurking in the dark, and more about the well-being of our feathered friends. Excessive lighting is just that.
Please, take a moment
for national monuments.
Fight for this beauty!
We did a whole lot today: Climate March + MOCO Museum for Banksy/Dali exhibits + Climate March again + FOAM Museum for William Eggleston’s LOS ALAMOS exhibit plus additional photography exhibits, and then dinner out at SNCKBR. (And yeah, I’m totally cognizant of the fact that there are a whole lotta acronyms in the preceding sentence.)
It’s been a good day here in Amsterdam. So good, in fact, that I’m having trouble picking just one image to represent the experience. (To add more pics would result in a marathon blog post, and I don’t have the bandwidth for that right now.) So I’m going to leave it at this quote that was painted on the wall at the Banksy exhibit:
Actually, this is THE perfect sentiment for the day. You know why? The “art” wasn’t just in those museums. It was also on display in Museumplein where all those people gathered to voice their concern/outrage/hopes/etc regarding the climate change affecting the planet.
We’re a creative species, and it’s gonna take a whole lotta outrage + art + action to get us out of this mess. It’s a daunting endeavor. But today, between the civic action outside the museums and the creativity exhibited inside, I truly believe that is possible.
Art is essential to our survival.
Now more than ever
creatives are essential.
Can’t let ugly win.
In March of 2003, my family took the train from Denver to San Francisco during our sons’ spring break. Wildebeest was 9-years-old and Zebu was 7. As had millions of people around the world, we’d marched and demonstrated and written letters and called our representatives to say NO TO WAR ON IRAQ.
Didn’t matter. Bush said he wouldn’t shape his policy according to public opinion, even when it was the whole freaking planet screaming NO.
We were in a hotel when it was announced that the U.S. had begun dropping bombs. We were outraged and heartbroken. So were many, many people in San Francisco. The police were out in full riot gear, looking very nervous.
That Bush-Cheney invasion, powered by lies and fear-mongering, made the oil companies and mercenaries much richer, while destroying the lives of millions of Iraqis.
Now it’s March of 2017, and people are saying they miss George W. Bush. Unbelievable. George W. Bush is a war criminal, plain and simple, and the repercussions of his crimes continue fourteen years after he wrongly invaded another country.
This is exactly what I wanted. And now I can order one for our yard.
These days there isn’t even the option of pretending not to see the bad things being done to the planet and its inhabitants. Agent Orange and the Billionaires’ Club are taking what was formerly done on the down-low, cranking it up a couple hundred notches, and shoving it in our faces. Anger, anxiety, and despair (just to mention a few) are running high. I’ve made tons of phone calls and sent emails, and while those are important tasks, I’m not feeling overly swell about my influence on Washington, D.C.
Enter the worms.
Back in mid-December, I blogged about nabbing some free wooden drawers off Craigslist. I wanted them for worm bins. And now, after lots of reading and research, I’m pleased to say Zippy and I have converted some of those drawers into worm bins.
Zippy did all the construction. He drilled holes in the bottoms of the bins and ventilation holes on both sides. Then he lined the bins with shade cloth.
I prepared the bedding using newspaper, phone book, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, and an ancient newsprint drawing pad that I must’ve brought with me from North Hollywood (via Santa Rosa, Bakersfield, and Anchorage). Yes, I sometimes lean “hoarder.” But hey, isn’t it cool that the worms are benefitting from my issues?!
On Saturday, we went to pick up our two pounds of worms from a worm farmer in the Denver area. Unfortunately, I don’t have photographic documentation of our worms’ homecoming because I was focused on getting them out of the cloth sack and into their prepared bins. But here’s a fair representation of what those worms looked like when I released them from the sack:
And here’s a quick and slightly blurry overview of the bin in use (didn’t want to dawdle since worms are light-sensitive):
The worms are working away in the damp shredded paper, etc., beneath a damp “blanket” of newspaper. They’re eating our kitchen scraps and their bedding. They’re helping me feel less horrified about my footprint on this planet.
Today the Senate voted to confirm a wealthy, unqualified, anti-public school fundamentalist to head the Department of Education. I had no influence over that vote. I do, however, have control over my worms’ well-being and my household contribution to landfills.
This morning I joined my friend, Sarah, at an event put on by Warm Cookies of the Revolution. Warm Cookies bills itself as a Civic Health Club, and while Sarah has participated in numerous events, today was my first.
The topic: The Science of Effective Resistance by Erica Chenoweth
When Sarah texted me the invite I went to the site to read up on the talk, and saw that it was about nonviolent conflict. My first thought was, “Screw that. We need to be in the streets with torches and pitchforks, and maybe burn a few cars while we’re at it.” (Yes, I am incredibly frustrated with the timid response from the “opposition” party.) But I value Sarah’s judgment and wanted to spend time with her today, so I thanked her for the invitation. And off we went.
Here’s my takeaway: Erica Chenoweth has done the numbers on violent vs nonviolent campaigns of resistance. And guess what? Nonviolent campaigns have a higher success rate. There are a variety of reasons for that but the one that went ping in my head was that acts of violence can (and probably will) turn off active allies and potential allies. Imagine that!
Her research shows that all successful nonviolent campaigns have three things in common:
Hey, looky there! We’ve got two out of three going on right this very moment!
Marched this morning with a couple hundred thousand other people. The day started out cold and overcast (really appreciated the ride downtown on the packed-to-the-gills light rail because all that body heat warmed me up again) before turning sunny and warmer. It was a good morning, and I’m glad my neighbor friend, Kim, invited me to march with her. I brought my camera and captured some of the wit and wisdom of the very large gathering. (Click to enlarge)
And here’s me with my sign:
Finally, here’s an overhead shot of Civic Center Park in Denver:
Kim and I left the march before it reached the park so you won’t be able to find us in this crowd. Turning around was a good call, though, because as we “swam” downstream, we got a good look at THE MANY MANY PEOPLE. It was life-affirming to read the signs screaming with anger, hope, and humor.
We’re gonna need all three to make it out alive.
I just removed this sign (h/t Bob Herbert) from the back window of my Prius. It’s faded from approximately six years of sun exposure. I put it in my car after attending the Democratic county assembly in March of 2010 that was nothing more than a lovefest for Obama. It wasn’t cool with me that the Democratic party was overlooking the horrible policies it’d (rightfully so) shrieked about during the Bush/Cheney years once it was a Democrat enacting those policies. I was disgusted by the lack of spine. I taped the sign in my car and revoked my membership in the Democratic party. I became an Unaffiliated voter.
Here it is, nearly six years later, and we’re facing a loathsome soon-to-be president whose election was largely enabled by that same spinelessness. The corporate Democratic establishment opened the door to this nightmare and, because Obama doubled down on many Bush/Cheney policies, shit’s about to get real in a way many people didn’t see coming.
Right now it feels as if I could cover my Prius windows with signs and it still wouldn’t be enough to address the realities of Agent Orange. But whatever signage I adopt, it can’t be all about him. That madman exploited the situation put in place by people who were/are supposed to be the opposition party, and right now I’m not seeing a whole lot of spine.
I just hope I’m not the only one calling them out on it.
Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.
~ Mark Twain
And as I looked at that slightly freaky, somewhat off-putting creature, I pondered the connection for today. Clinging? Holding on for dear life? Prayer? None of those resonated with me so I did an online search for “praying mantis facts,” and found my answer:
Instead of running away from a threat it will stay put and try to look bigger. It will raise its wings and raptory arms and try to stand as tall as possible. Maybe even rocking from left to right to seem more intimidating. Does it work? Actually, it does! Animals that are not particularly interested in eating the mantis or have not yet experienced this are a bit suspicious of a prey that does not run away.
In light of the current political freak show and our soon-to-be bully-in-chief, aka the Circus Peanut, I think we should all take a page from the praying mantis.
No running away!
Stand as tall as possible!
No running away!
And, if necessary, rip the bastards’ heads off and devour them.