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.

#Caturday caucus

November 30, 2019

It might not look that way, but Marcel is very pleased that Zippy and I caucused today for the open Colorado senate seat. He was thrilled to find out that of the 8 people who showed up in our precinct,  6 of us were for Andrew Romanoff (and only two for the DCCC-annointed oil and gas man). Marcel was less excited to learn that caucus rules/math required a roll of the dice for the last “tied” delegate and that the roll went to the oil and gas man.

However, Marcel knows it’s a WIN when Romanoff gets 4 delegates to the county assembly and the other guy only got two. Marcel is a whiz with numbers.

Organize for the win!

Unbelievable (except, not really) how the political and media establishment are working SO hard to squash the working people’s movement. Ugly stuff on display right now. I was happier earlier in the day when I was unplugged from it all.

Tomorrow I’m going out for more of the same. Highly recommend doing the same!

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.

Sunday Confessional: the true image of my Self is sometimes pure chaos

Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed, the mind can only reflect the true image of the Self when it is tranquil and wholly relaxed. ~ Indra Devi

House Finch. January 25, 2020

At noon today, I was getting focused and situated at my desk for the afternoon’s revisions when I received a text from a climate friend with a request that blew up those revisions plans. And guess what? I’m totally cool with that because sometimes To-Do lists are overrated.

Sometimes we gotta let in the spontaneity and chaos. Sometimes those elements are the purest reflection of my true Self.

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.

Didn’t mean to turn my back

I’m pretty consistent about posting here, not because I have a following that waits with bated breath, but because this blog is like a record of my life. The documentation helps me keep my memories in order.

Western/Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay. December 8, 2017

I didn’t post the past two days and it wasn’t because I turned my back on this ongoing life project. But as a result of not posting, I feel a bit anxious about those holes in my “official record.” I’ll do a quick update.

Friday, December 6, was another Global Climate Strike. I rode the light rail into Denver and then met my fellow Sunrise Movement (Colorado) activists at 10:30. We marched to the capitol, chanting and singing songs. There were maybe five hundred people total? The rally was inspiring and informative, and I loved hearing perspectives from a diverse range of young voices.

Afterward, our Sunrise group went to Governor Polis’s office to deliver climate action demands and request a meeting. Earlier efforts have been ignored. So this time we stuck around for a while. Three hours of a sit-in that included more storytelling, chanting, and songs. We left his office peacefully at the end of the day, walking and singing out to the rotunda where we slowly collapsed to a die-in. As we lowered ourselves in silence, we covered our faces with black bandanas that said either TIME’S UP or WHAT’S YOUR PLAN?

It was my first die-in and I loved it. It was a meditative and profound experience to lie on that cold marble, motionless as capitol activity continued around us.

And Saturday? I spent much of the day reading Running With Sherman: The Donkey With the Heart of a Hero (Christopher McDougall). The book inspired me to run that afternoon for the first time in two weeks. (Note: Denver metro air quality is frequently too unhealthy for running. See “Friday.”)

I’m back at my regularly scheduled life today, taking care of things that need doing. Answering emails. Worm bin maintenance and feeding. Adding words to my work-in-progress. Posting on this blog. Wishing everyone a good Sunday and much good stuff in the coming week.

#GreenNewDeal and fighting for a livable future

I spent Saturday and Sunday with about 35 passionate young people dedicated to fighting for a Green New Deal. Our local hub of the Sunrise Movement (Sunrise Colorado) held a training retreat in which national organizers shared strategies to help us in this fight. It was an amazing weekend and I felt SO. MANY. EMOTIONS.

I cried at the beginning when we all shared who and what we were fighting for, and I cried at the closing when we sang together. But I also laughed a ton, learned much, and felt lots of hope for the future.

The Sunrise Movement has already gained much more traction on the climate crisis than I’ve seen in my lifetime. PLEASE consider donating a few dollars to my hub to help us continue this vital work. https://secure.actblue.com/donate/sunriseco

Or if you’d prefer donating to the national movement, you can do so here: https://www.sunrisemovement.org/

Thank you in advance.

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!

Friday afternoon activism

I just got back from a Sunrise Movement action outside the office for the Colorado Democrats. The DNC (Democratic National Committee) is taking a vote later this month to decide whether to hold a presidential debate focused solely on the climate crisis.

Three of the five eligible voters (state officers from the Colorado Dems) have already committed to a YES vote. Today we applied pressure on the two remaining voters. It boggles the mind (and enrages me) that young people must literally beg to be heard on the issue that directly affects their futures on this planet. The good news is we received lots of honks from people in response to our HONK FOR A GREEN NEW DEAL sign. As usual, the citizenry is way ahead of the political establishment.

I’m energized from today’s solidarity with those passionate youth. Let’s hope the DNC does the right thing and votes to accept the win-win opportunity to hold a debate on what efforts are needed in order to avert the worst of the climate crisis. The people want meaningful action. Will the DNC listen?

#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.

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!

In support of Sunrise Movement & the planet

I’m headed off to Boulder for a Sunrise hub meeting to plan our next steps for achieving a Green New Deal. As mentioned before, I love these young people and their passion and am honored to have their backs as they fight for the planet and a sustainable future. They’ve already changed the conversation about climate change and brought it to the forefront.

Please consider lending your support. Go here to join the movement, find a Green New Deal town hall meeting near you, and/or to make a one-time or monthly donation to support their efforts. Thank you in advance!

Imagine a just future via a #GreenNewDeal

I admit to being panicked and overwhelmed by climate change. But, I also feel energized and hopeful at the prospect of a Green New Deal. Here is a new 7+ -minute video (narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and beautifully illustrated by Molly Crabapple). In the words of the Sunrise Movement, this is a story from the future. AOC tells the story of the world we won by fighting for a #GreenNewDeal.

Sunrise Movement has organized Green New Deal town hall meetings around the country. Please check  out this link to find one near you:  sunrisemovement.org/tour

“We can be whatever we have the courage to see.”

Twofer Tuesday: Green New Deal edition

I’m getting ready to head out to one of my senator’s offices to urge his support for a Green New Deal. I had a conversation with one of his D.C. staffers yesterday when I called (again) to ask that he co-sponsor the Green New Deal. I was told Senator Bennet doesn’t support it because he wants legislation that’s bi-partisan so that whatever is passed won’t be subject to political winds depending on who is in power.

Classic establishment Dem thinking. Water down the policy in hopes the soulless ghouls across the aisle will approve. This senator also thinks he might run for president. *insert hysterical laughter* If Senator Bennet thinks he’ll get anywhere without the support of the young people out there fighting for their futures, he’s incredibly out of touch. Which is what I told that staffer.

Here are my signs for this afternoon’s meeting:

I don’t have high hopes for Senator Bennet who voted to approve the Keystone Pipeline and said at the time he thought Keystone should be part of a bigger solution to climate change. (?!) BUT, I can’t not make the effort when so much is at stake.

Please, even if you’ve already done so, put in calls today to your two senators and one representative to ask them to co-sponsor the resolution for a Green New Deal. We’ve gotta go bold before it’s too late.

Will we betray nature?

Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.
~ William Wordsworth

I just called my Democratic Senator and Representative in Washington, D.C. to tell their staffers I absolutely support Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey’s twin resolutions for a #GreenNewDeal. Neither staffer could tell me how my so-called representatives felt about this bold plan for stabilizing the climate via jobs and economic/social/environmental justice. We’re headed for a fiery, hot crash and many of the people in power don’t seem to care. I’m exhausted by their willful ignorance, but at the same time I believe we-the-people can and must rise up to protect our natural home. We cannot betray her.

I hope you’ll join me in fighting for the planet. Please call your Representatives and Senators today to urge them to support the Resolution for a Green New Deal.

Year-end image + plea for monthly donation to Sunrise Movement

In this part of the world, we’re in the final hours of 2018 which has been a shit-year in so many ways for the planet and its inhabitants. I don’t have any profound insights to offer. I would, however, like to share this photo I just took from my dining room window.


Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. ~ Rabindranath Tagore

It’s not a great picture, but it makes me happy. There’s much going on here (falling snow, flight, eating, turf battles, perching, etc) and I wanted to include this image because birds never, ever fail to brighten my day. I’m hoping they’ll do the same for you. Either way, it feels right to include feathered friends as I say goodbye to a difficult year.

The one other consistently bright spot for me this year has been the Sunrise Movement. No one is fighting harder and more effectively in the face of climate change than these young people with their action plan, aka the Green New Deal, that includes massive job creation. PLEASE consider pledging a monthly donation (mine is $5 per month) to this incredible organization that’s given me more hope than I thought possible.

I wish you and yours a Happy New Year! Here’s to continuing the good fight in 2019!

Mother Earth ain’t subtle with her hints

Yesterday I spent four long and very cold hours in a library parking lot. I was there to educate people on Colorado’s Prop 112. I was hoping voters would support the proposition which would’ve created safer setbacks for fracking sites. I was hoping they’d agree that industrial oil & gas operations don’t belong nears schools and communities, and that public health and safety is paramount.

Some of the people I spoke with definitely cared. Some, however, didn’t think children’s health was at risk. My most gut-wrenching interaction in those four hours was with a young woman holding an exceedingly smiley and cute toddler. As I explained to her I was out there because of my concern for children’s well-being, she unzipped her son’s hoodie and showed me the shirt underneath. Someone in their household had dressed that small little boy with the beautiful smile in a NO ON PROP 112 shirt.

The oil & gas industry dumped millions of dollars into defeating Prop 112 and yesterday it succeeded. And today? Well, I just logged onto Twitter and saw this:

The site that is now on fire? It’s  owned by Noble Energy, one of the biggest contributors to the No on 112 campaign.

It’d almost be funny if the whole situation wasn’t so horrifying.