Families Belong Together

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The importance of activist work

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

      Angela Davis at a political rally in Raleigh, North Carolina on July 4, 1974.               Photo courtesy of Bettmann/CORBIS.

There is so much work to be done.

Thankful Thursday: people-and-places-in-my-head edition

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.

BUT.

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.

Anguish and Outrage

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.

Denver VOICE vendor John Alexander

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?

Need more goat

Cute goats,

I beg-your-pardon goats,

and goats that recognize revolution’s a-comin’ and they’d best get out of the way or risk getting mowed down by angry mobs.

Thank goodness I still have access to a free internet and all its goat images.

Sunday Confessional: Everything is making me sick and I’m taking a break

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.

Lighting isn’t always a bright idea

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.)

Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

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.

 

Day 2: art in Amsterdam

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.

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On the 14th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, G.W. Bush is still a war criminal

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.

Over the next days, people chained themselves to manhole covers and blocked streets.

Protesters were everywhere. So were the cops.

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.

 

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Vermiculture or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Worms

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.

bins-with-lids

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.

ventilation-holes  bin-interior

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?!

bedding-supplies

Bedding supplies

bedding-preparation

Shred, shred, shred some more!

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:

compostwoms

And here’s a quick and slightly blurry overview of the bin in use (didn’t want to dawdle since worms are light-sensitive):

bin-in-use

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.

 

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Warm Cookies of the Revolution

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

?????????????

This was the opening slide: Presentation prepared for Warm Cookies of the Revolution: The Science of Effective Resistance Erica Chenoweth Ph.D

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:

  • mass participation
  • defections from the ruling regime
  • the use of flexible tactics

Hey, looky there! We’ve got two out of three going on right this very moment!

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Solidarity

Just stuck this sign in our front yard.muslim-solidarity

A small gesture on this dark day but an important one, I believe. There’s a Muslim family up the street and my stomach hurts thinking about how they’re feeling right now.

 

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Denver represents!

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)

carrie-fisher-sent-me    princess-leia    gaslighting

govt-housing

introverts    noriega

mothers-against

feminist-as-fuck

as-fuck

In case you missed it the first time.

Maybe someone can help me out here. My Spanish is rusty and the online translator came back with "They wanted to enter us but they did not know that we were seeds."

“They tried to bury us. They did not know that we were seeds.” (h/t and thanks to Jenn Hubbard for translation)

one-race

 

act-emote

Construction workers above the march.

Construction workers above the march.

children-of-the-witches

And here’s me with my sign:

tracy-in-denver-at-womens-march-1-21-17

Finally, here’s an overhead shot of Civic Center Park in Denver:

DENVER, CO - January 21: Tens of thousands in Civic Center Park for the Women's March on Denver January 21, 2017. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

DENVER, CO – January 21: Tens of thousands in Civic Center Park for the Women’s March on Denver January 21, 2017. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

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.

 

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Signs of the times

obama-administration-sign

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.

 

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Stand tall, y’all

When I searched my photos to see what image spoke to me today, I decided to use this picture from two months ago:
praying-mantis-on-screen

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.

 

 

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Don’t fear resistance

I received texts from family and friends after the election, asking how I was coping with the world’s new Agent Orange reality. I replied, in part, that there was still hope for the future if, out of this debacle, the Democratic party reassessed and became a true party of resistance.

And while the establishment Dems who pushed so hard for a Clinton candidacy are still deeply in denial regarding last week’s beat-down, there are glimmers of hope. People on my Twitter feed who have never, to my knowledge, tweeted anything remotely political or activist, are now engaged in the democratic process. They’re calling their representatives. They’re adding those representatives’ phone numbers to their contact lists. They’re writing letters, signing petitions, and asking others to do the same.

They’re taking to the streets and pushing back.

We have Donald Trump’s ugly authoritarian character to thank for that, and while that might not feel like much right now, it’s a legitimate silver lining.

Image found on Morguefile.com without any identifying info so if you're fortunate enough to happen upon this sculpture, please let me know where it is.

Image found on Morguefile.com without any identifying info, so if you’re fortunate enough to happen upon this sculpture, please let me know where it is.

The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.  ~  Thomas Paine

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