Thursday, October 20, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
it is re-connecting to our tribal roots: the self-sufficiency afforded by small communities providing for themselves while remaining connected to a web of similarly decentralized groups....it is about nourishing ourselves deeply on the love that is abundant within and between us, and using that power and energy to help liberate more and more people and to create a thriving new society in time for the fall of the current status quo.
--my portion of joint blog rokarevolution.wordpress.com
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I am excited about Occupy Wallstreet. I'll admit it straight out. Some part of me rejoices at people re-claiming public space, looking to each other to provide for basic needs, carving out space to discuss the power structures and unyielding point a finger at the deep injustice to which we have all become inured.
There's lots of
great links i could post, but the best coverage I've found is on democracy now. check it out of your at all curious--in particular, there's a great interview with David Graeber. So is it effective? What is the point?
As my brilliant housemate Sara Tansey says, if people are having an experience of a different and better way of creating a society, its working! Perhaps most compelling is the notion that this is not a protest; it is a demonstration of how to run our society in a more inclusive and equitable way. The General Assembly Model is a model for inclusion and democratic decision making on a mass scale.
Many unions have endorsed the action, and the mobilization is spreading to other cities, including Washington, LA, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Portland Maine, Denver...and many more are popping up. The first Occupy Cville meeting is tomorrow, 6:30 at Random Row Books--stop by if your in the area!
Friday, September 30, 2011
Saturday night, sky and i came home from an invigorating Transition Town potluck just plumb tuckered. It was a gathering of the folks from Transition Cville Albermarle and a couple folks from Transition Staunton, a fairly well established group. More in a future post--but here i just want to say: we arrived home to a kitchen full o' grannies. Piper and Marione, Twin Oaks' oldest ladies were spending the night at woodfolk. they were attending MIC50--the conference on the military industrial complex at fifty years old.
Both die-hard activists, these adorable biddies were eating their evening yoghurt in our kitchen. they clucked over us and we got them towels and helped out with some settling-in logistics. After they went off to bed, i felt such appreciation for what we are able to provide each other across the generations. As younger folks, our help is more obvious: logistics, help getting around. But what they offer is also so sweet and invaluable. There's something about the unconditional love that old people give us young'uns that is unique and special.
Its the same when Willow is around; there's something about having a kid that brings out the playful bubblyness in everyone around them. I want to create and live in communities that bring together the 3 generations to live inter-dependently. The breadth and richness of connection that is possible feels tantalizingly out of reach in my current life, and having a little injection of grannynes reminds me to keep it in the forefront as a priority.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
I've recently started playing music with Christian Breedan's Mysterious Concoctions, coincidentally just as they are in the midst of creating the soundtrack for the feature length film, Pyrometheus. Here's what director/producer Brian Wimer has to say about the film:
Did humanity start from a cosmic oven that fell from space?
In 2009 I met performers from the Scintillation fire troupe at a Rollerderby halftime show. We discussed collaborating on a project. One year later, we gave birth to the feature-length art film PYROMETHEUS. Think of it an alternative Cirque de Soleil doing Prometheus.
More specifically: an artistically-performed history of the human universe as told via the Greek myth of Prometheus: from cosmic creation story, to the genesis of mankind, creation of gender, the arts and warfare … and the central tale of how Prometheus stole fire from the Gods, was punished and rescued.
Angel funded and wrought from breath, piss and kerosene, PYROMETHEUS defied my expectations of where performers could take my half-baked suggestions. These talented, fire-spinning folks frolicked in mud, paint and fifty gallon drums of makeshift blood, parkoured over burning staffs and ignited three-story Joan of Arc pyres by a giant metal dragon built from a Grand Marquis. And then there was the orgy scene.
We lost nearly half the cast when things got kinky. That was after the Last Supper scene with the glazed ham that turned into a nude dancer covered in BBQ sauce. Yes, we did go there. And there’s a swan sex scene.
Currently in post-production, PYROMETHEUS is slated to be finished by summertime – once we write the entire operatic score. Plus there’s the whole creation of the cosmos part with one hundred nude bodies floating in embryonic bubbles. We could use another one of those angel investors.
If you didn't check out the preview, do it now! You won't be sorry.
So it is looking like I will be part of the musical voice for this bizarre film. I can't quite decide how I feel about it. Part of me wants to dismiss the project outright as solipsistic and self-indulgent. But it does seem like they're all having a good time...and I'm weirdly compelled by it. Jury's out, please feel free to weigh in here with your thoughts!
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
C'ville Foodscapes is a collective business that designs, installs, and maintains food-producing gardens for people at their homes, here in Charlottesville, VA. A group of 6 of us created it in 2008. The remaining 4 of us are now starting a process of re-visioning, and perhaps over-hauling this baby that we birthed nearly 3 years ago.
Its a tricky process. When we started (with a group of 6), our visions were broad and expansive. We wanted to support the local food community by helping people grow food at their homes. We wanted to connect the dots in the local food movement. We wanted to create a neighborhood CSA, a street-side veggie sands with food from the community, and opportunities for folks to earn money from their excess veggies and build community with those around them. We wanted to create an easily replicable model for other communities.
We spent a year just honing our vision. Honing it into what we hoped would be a successful business model that could eventually expand into all manner of groovy side-shoots. We made spreadsheets. And more spreadsheets. We revised the spread-sheets. We scrapped the spreadsheets and made new, better spreadsheets. And when I say we, mostly I mean sky, spreadsheet guru supreme.
The first year was a crazy ride--we were still figuring out how exactly we were going to do basic things: how are we going to build those compost bins? how will we get to jobs (car? bike?) We had weekly meetings for at least 2, and sometimes nearly 4, hours. We dealt with some crazy hurdles and had meltdowns, both individually and collectively. And we implemented a Garden Grants program, providing complete garden systems for folks who can't afford our services: a 4x8 veggie bed planted, compost bin and rain barrel. We did one last year, and will do at least 5 this year.
At the end of our first year, Wendy and Angel decided to move on from the business. Ptack, Sam, Sky and I searched for replacements. We met many fine, qualified and passionate folks, and we didn't succeed in finding a match for what we were looking for. This was largely b/c we didn't really know what income we could provide folks. Its a project, not a job, we told people. And most people don't have the time, energy or inclination to take on a new project baby while juggling the rest of their lives.
So here we are, our second year on the wane. And once again, its time to figure out What The H&%$ We're Doing! The four of us agree that what we did this year was a smashing success. It worked business wise, and it wasn't too overwhelming. We made a decent dollar/hour, nearly doubled from last year. And, the business as it stands is not what we're passionate about.
Without extra folks, its been challenging to bring in and expand the community piece. And that piece is what originally brought us all to the table. So where to from here? Can we re-structure and still shoot for the larger vision? Is it time to scrap it and move on? Should we just become a non-profit?
We plan to pull together a larger pool of folks to help us think this through. Folks in the local food community, in the non-profit community, and in our larger pool of trusted thinkers. Its been a wild ride and who knows where it'll take us next!
Friday, August 26, 2011
The day of the quake was our last day to go to the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. A few friends and I have been working with a small group of women there since March. They are part of Readyness Wellness, a small residential re-entry program for about 20 women who have a history of trauma or substance abuse and will be released within 2 years. The women must apply to be in the program, and must particpate and be on good behaviour to remain in the program.
As a result, its a very self-selecting group. The 13 women who made it to Tuesday's graduation ceremony were bursting with pride and looking resplendent in their green graduation robes and hats.
The whole afternoon was very moving. The women had decorated their wing with streamers and a giant banner w/their names, hand-prints and inspirational words like passion, perseverance, and most notably: attitude. Which these women have in abundance.
Dawn lead the ceremony; a self-title chatty kathy and generally brazen, outspoken women with a huge heart. in the tea and cake section at the end, a younger member of the group (23 years old) showed us the pile of birthday cards that dawn had somehow managed to orchestrate the sending of. These cards are not available at fluvanna; she had inspired someone out there to buy and send these cards to her so that Leah would feel loved on her birthday.
There was a chaplain's blessing, a brief reading, and a performance by a group of inmate Praise Dancers; a new concept for me (check it this group from LA). Many of the women got up and shared what the program had meant to them; where they'd been and where they stood now. And then the presenting of the certificates began...One powerful women named Star was recieving hers, tears welling up. Just as Mr. Young asked her what the tears were for, the ground started shaking. !!!!!!!!!!!!!! We weren't too close to the epicenter...and things are pretty well bolted down there. The ceremony continued for a little while, til word came down that they was an emergency count. groaning ensued, as everyone returned to their cells--the whole thing took about 45 minutes, and then continued on seemlessly. though star no longer remembered why she'd been crying.
Misty and I were both trying to get in touch with a sense of closure and completion: we'd likely never see these women again. Both of us felt that the experience of connecting with these women had made a huge difference for us, but that although the group time seemed impactful and the women raved about it, we really had no idea if it would have a lasting impact on them.
I'm very grateful to have had the experience, and those women are undoubtedly among the strongest, ballsiest, most passionate I have known. And I'm left with questions: what is the most effective way to support people who are caught in the "justice" system? Is there a way to support the people without supporting the institution? Is it something that can be addressed on a personal level, or must it be a systemic solution? Perhaps...
Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness, and our ability to tell our own stories...- Arundhati Roy
Saturday, June 4, 2011
last weekend afforded 2 great opportunities for me to revel in my inner gypsy fiddler. an amalgalm of musicians had the fun of playing at C.L.A.W. (charlottesville ladies arm wrestling).
This fantastic event is a fundraiser for a non-profit, generally one that benefits women. Women go all out to create their ch
aracters (Bulldog, the Morton A Salt Girl, Ady Dee, Strawberry Tallcake etc.) and the event was MCed by two beautiful women, one with a beard.
We had pulled together our little band in the last week, and the vibe there was just awesome.The Ref takes his job very seriouslyAnd penalties are doled out regularly.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
This morning, sky, patrick and I went on a cville foodscapes job together. it was fairly straightforward. patrick was the lead, so we followed his direction to weed, till and top-dress 4 large raised beds.
this afternoon, i was host at alexander house. a guest arrived while sky was in the house. he sent me over to check her in; hanging laundry, sky asked where i'd like him to be, did i want him to finish cleaning the house?
The new guest asked me if i was in charge, if this was my place. and i realized that of course it looked like i was the manager, taking over for the peon cleaning person. this is a very cool feature of collective endeavors; you can selectively deem people boss.
turns out, even in a collective venture we don't all need or even want to be bottom line responsible all the time for everything; its actually very freeing to pass that blessing/burden around. and it feels completely different when it is an intentional choice than when it is an entrenched power dynamic.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Two awesome events happened this Saturday; Motleigh Musicalia is a 43 year old private music festival that takes place on a beautiful piece of land next to the river about a half hour from Cville. It's invite only, and completely non-commercial; truely a DIY affair. The extended "family" of folks that created and have been coming to this festival is large, friendly, and very musically inclined. People set up their own camps; each one had a little jam session going on--mostly old time, with a bit of irish, bluegrass, western swing thrown in.
There was a large central tent with a dance floor. Friday night there was a square dance there, and Morris Dancers performed on Saturday.
The land includes a beautiful and delightfully icy river. The land is owned by some lady, and funds for renting it each year come from selling t shirts. The concept is absolutely brilliant. Really, the best part of a festival is the music, good company, and beautiful location, right? Who cares about the lame-o big name bands, the fry truck or the hordes of people. Musicalia takes the best of the festival culture and recreates it on its own terms.
After a blissful afternoon spent dunking in the river, soaking up the music, and sitting in on some jams, I left with a friend to head back to town for a very different, yet similarly DIY scene.
This was a birthday party hosted by one of the founders of Scintillation, our local firespinning/dance crew. The party's theme: Kundalini Mudpit. The host had created an amazing love tunnel as entry to the party by transforming the stairwell into a glimmering tunnel of self-love. Signs alone the way read "Yes!" "Forgive yourself", "You have everything you need" and more. Curtains led to a soft and spacious love tunnel; the tunnel emerged into a harem-like room.
There was a lounge area with cushions and low table, hookah hanging down from the ceiling. People in all manner of brightly colored and uber sexy outfits lounged amist the pillows. A clothes rack held more available sexy and colorful costumes, sky had his little dj station set up in a corner. a massage table was set up, as well. The party had a strong thread of ARE folks who had grown up going to the Edgar Cayce Camp. The vibe was warm, sexy, and lively; antics included a mini burlesque show and some public and communal birthday flogging.
I don't know these folks well, but i appreciate the care and creativity that went into creating an amazing ambiance, fantastic costumes, and good vibes all around. The only sadness I felt at both these events was the heavy reliance on pot, booze and cigarettes. Hopefully these relics of mainstream culture will soon be deemed unnecessary as we create ever more fabulous parties for ourselves! Viva la Cultura Nueva!
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Dave and Joanie are roving baby boomer activists. They joined together about 5 years ago and formed a Non Profit focused on local, sustainable food. They've spent these last years travellening together as drop-in activists. They land in a city, quickly figure out who the movers and shakers are, embed themselves in the community and create a project that serves the people well. They've done things like help folks in Jamaica create a native medicinal garden and help lead workshops on community organizing for community gardens. Their approach is smart and savvy--Dave is brisque, quick and officious; Joanie is warm and chatty. Together they are a dynamo team, highly effective community organizers and hugs asset to any community they parachute into. As one of my housemates commented, they look like their fresh from the golf field, but actually they're gonna kick some @#$.
Lucky us, after 5 years of travelling activism, they decided to settle down in Charlottesville for the forseable future! Applying the same pricincples of community organizing as their shorter stays, they quickly connected with tons of people in town. They soon found their way to Alexis, and thus us. They've been in town under a year, and have already hosted a workshop on community organizing around community gardens, re-started the local Transition Town group, become regular volunteers with Virginia Organizing, the Local Food Hub, the Food Bank. They've gotten connected with Karen Waters from QCC, Holly Edwards on City Council, and Dave Norris our esteemed Mayor. Yesterday we sat down with them for some brainstorming collaboration.
Some highlights from the project incubator:
- Collaborating with JABA (Jefferson Board for the Aging) to take over their 400 sq.ft. heated hoophouse and turn it into a community greenhouse.
- Creating a garden of diversity; a community garden with plots maintained by some of the cultural subgroups we have here in town, brought here by the IRC, a local organization that places refugees. Each plot would host cultural events special to their region.
- Most exciting for me; we talked about marrying our idea of an urban commune with their idea of an urban education and sustainability center. A house in town that would have zero sum energy use, innovative and affordable energy saving measures, and have gardens demonstrating vertical growing, fishponds, permaculture concepts. And, it would be lived and run by a community of folks who would run workshops and demos out of the space.
We've already done rounds of brainstorming on this concept and have a bunch of stuff drafted; mision statement, a vision, elements we want to include. And so had they; they've got a concept paper, business plan, and power point presentation. We plan to share our documents and get together again soon. yee haw!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
for nearly 2 months now, a group 4 women including myself have been spending time each Wednesday afternoon with a group of about 20 women at fluvanna correctional center for women (prison about 20 minutes outside of town). the group we work with is part of the readyness/wellness program; mental health staff created the program about 3 months ago. its for women with a history of trauma or abuse, and who will be released within 2 years.
We started our first session with the women by asking how they'd like to spend the time together, and generated a list that included everything from dance, to resume writing, to anger management, to astrology. everything we've done with them has been received enthusiastically and warmly. these women are big-hearted and wise, and so welcoming to us each week.
yesterday's session started out with some of the women sharing from a writing assignment from last week; letters they would never send. the few letters that folks shared were intense and poignant. one was a letter to a lover/boyfriend, asking repeatedly why he never answered his phone on saturday nights. another was an angry letter to god, asking how he could stand for the injustice and suffering that permeate this world.
clementine guided the conversation into a larger discussion around setting intentions for life on the outside. the most intense and heart-breaking thread was about children--one women said that her dream was to have a 3rd baby, and do it "right"-sober, present, engaged. Her previous two pregnancies had been while she was battling drug addiction. another women shared about her 4 kids who had all been taken from her. one, she'd never met. she advised the other women that you have to get clean and sober FIRST; having a baby won't get you sober. in her words "the love for your children is strong. but the power the addiction has over you is stronger".
one women was being discharged 2 days later; she had just completed treatment for cancer. her husband had also just gotten out of jail, so they would both soon be reunited with their 11 year old daughter. we ended the afternoon with a silly and fun theatre game, that got us all laughing together.
i feel lucky to spend time with these women each week--they carry so much pain and wisdom, and have such a spirit of bigheartedness and generosity. They welcome us across the cultural divide and shower us with love and appreciation. i have so much hope for each of them as they prepare for the next chapter, vowing that things will be different. and i hold alot of fear and sadness knowing that the deck of poverty, drug addiction and domestic violence is stacked against them.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
We had our weekly Alexander House (Collectively owned and run Inn and Hostel) meeting this morning. A large chunk of which was spent continuing to slog through the process of re-vamping our compensation structure. Somewhat miraculously, we've made it over a year an half doing completely equal splits each month; trusting that we are all putting in what we are able and that it is roughly equal or at least equitable (whatever that means).
But, now, we are finally shifting over. Tracking our hours each month, we will divide the lump sum designated for our monthly payouts proportionally according to hours worked. I know, so radical. But it is a big shift for us. Brings up all sorts of interesting questions, as well. When things are just divided equally, are we more inclined to cut corners, do a rush job, leave more cleaning for the next shift? If we track hours and compensate accordingly, are we more likely to "pad"hours, work more slowly, do unnecessary tasks? Equal Divide = more efficient workers? Proportional Pay outs = more good stuff gets done (cobwebs, weeding)?
We're in the midst of our second month at hours tracking, and so far I'm enjoying it. I have a bit of residual Twin Oaks hours tracking PTSD: i'm happiest when time is the furthest thing from my mind, the hours slip by and i'm utterly absorbed. And, it does set my mind at ease to know that I don't need to worry if i'm doing too little or way more than i ought to. And that reminds, me, need to record my hours for the last few days.
Meanwhile, i'm still busy obsessing over that fiddle o'mine, and also starting to anticipate Trout's triumphant return. i've been sending him youtube videos, priming the pump on tunes to learn. He sent back one called The Gael, and I can't tell if its a joke or what. Still dreaming of a weekend spent locked up in a cabin w/fiddle and guitar. Stay tuned for some reels and jigs!
Saturday, May 14, 2011
And having found the perfect teacher, i'm on a rigorous diet of the circle of fourths, dominant chords, modes etc. he's a jazz trumpeter (my mom found it very confusing that i had chosen him as a teacher); sweet, passionate, and totally down. he's plugging me into the theory i need to bust out on the next level. its what i've been waiting and searching for for years now.
and, with rat back in town we are yet again getting the band back together; ez on bass, sky on drums, fiddle and accordion. we had our first gig w/more coming up and now are working on the names. the ratsylvanians? peaches and vodka? new bulgar all stars? feel free to send in name suggestions.
trout is set to return soon as well, so gettin' back in the irish gear as well. check this tune out--the little sister peaking in is super cute, too.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
taken in pieces, it all works, this life that i have. and still there are moments of break down, overwhelm, lashing out and collapsing under the weight.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
and i so appreciated the social infusion and ease. dinner turned into girls table w/marta, kele, and caroline; goofy girlyness and easy bonding. then trekking up to tupe we lolled on the bed while i nursed my tooth, watching the clock waiting for the next round of painkillers. eventually we meandered out to the living room for the ClaireCloud birthday hangout. The living room is gorgeous these days--still decked out as narnia with giant pine boughs all around and a big tree in the middle. the furnace was cookin', claire baking chocolate pudding cake and cloud preparing pots of tea, labeled in beautiful calligraphy. it was an art-baking-lounge party, so art supplies were strewn all around. i parked myself in my little pain-cloud in front of the furnace and relaxed into the mellow yummy vibes. pretty soon we started playing picture-sentence, where you write a sentence, then fold and pass and the next person draws their version of your sentence. at some point caroline offered real-deal pain killers, and my foggy cloud slowly became a little foggier and a little less painful. some hilarity with in the manner of the adverb, and then eventually we played Big Booty, a rowdy, fast paced circle clapping and shouting game. it felt fine and comfy to flow in and out as the tooth sensation dictated. eventually, marta and i made our way up to the cuddle loft-cum-beaver lodge; transformed into the coziest of spots w/bed, lamp, couch. in my drugged haze we chatted til nearly 1am. drifting off to sleep was pure decadence and thank god i slept through the night and woke up pain free!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
ro said the same, in a totally different context. she's a new kind of human--we are deprogramming ourselves. we are learning a way of loving that goes against our biological programming, goes against our cultural programming. unlearning jealousy, envy, possessiveness, needyness. or holding them more holisticallly and gently as mere illusions that pass on through, leaving us more spacious and able to receive. and give.
Monday, January 10, 2011
thank goddess i exist only as wispy bits of now
Sunday, January 9, 2011
so ready to collapse now into sweet sweet sleep.