Healing Turtle Island


It’s not quite 48 hours since the third Healing Turtle Island ceremony was concluded. I woke this morning from a dream in which I urgently needed to call my mom. It was so compelling, the need to call mom, that it woke me up. Mom died ten years ago and I do occasionally have moments where I forget, still, or at least I have the experience of ‘now is the moment when I would have called Mom,’ as was our habit for the last several years of her life. But I usually remember right away that I can’t call her like that anymore. So the dream was striking. I guess that it is the beginning of the work in my DNA, as Sherri Mitchell put it, these changes that will unfold in us over the next six months or so.

As a white person, being invited to attend these ceremonies, it’s astonishing. There’s so many things that are happening there and most of it is, or the central layer, I guess, of what is happening is the Ceremony that these indigenous elders are having among themselves, preparing themselves, healing themselves, connecting to each other and the work of this moment of climate threat, this time in which all peoples, regardless of heritage or status, need to do the work to heal ourselves from our respective trajectories and come together so that the planet, mother earth, survives in a way capable of sustaining life: our own lives, and most importantly the lives of future generations–of humans and all the other species on the planet.

So it’s pretty big and ambitious and probably at some level to the non-indigenous mind, it feels impossible or unrealistic or, I don’t know, superstitious, but the experience of spending five days in a fully realized gift economy, a completely alternative time-space to the way we have been indoctrinated to survive on the basis of speed and a financial system that favors wealth and accumulation and competition that forces other people into positions of suffering, to have the experience of the alternative is surprising. And maybe it won’t change things for every white participant who attends, but it seems inevitable that some seed, some sense of possibility that deviates from what we are used to would get planted and have the chance to grow.

We were pretty explicitly called upon to do that work individually and as an ethnic group, as white people in the system that exists, to turn to each other among ourselves and to turn back toward our ancestors and really dig deep into … I mean, you could call it history, the genealogy of how our unique indigenous cultures from a millennium or two ago were stripped from us. We were separated from the knowledge of being one type of organism existing synergistically with all the other organisms on the planet and drawn into this–addiction is what Sherri called it–an addiction to movement, to motion.

And I’ve thought of it as an addiction to speed, but the relationship, right, between speed and movement is the ability to go so far and go so fast that we’re always in a hurry. We’re always operating under the momentum, the impulse of machinery in the industrial assembly line, to being consumers and being drawn, whatever level of class we’re at, being drawn precipitously into the urgent emergent need of my paycheck, my house payment, my car payment, my need to buy groceries or pay the rent or cope with an unexpected medical bill. We’re all under that pressure, and if we’re a part of that wealthy percent that doesn’t feel financial stress, they’re still under the daily stress of the fear that if things change, whatever it is that makes them comfortable, will be taken away or lost.

It just seems likely to me that white people experience that in a different way or more acutely than peoples who have been systemically oppressed in the system because those peoples have had to figure out how to cope with that stress, and of course it has consequences on their health and wellbeing in chronic ways. It is white folk who have not felt generally those daily threats to survival being now faced with a potential collapse of all the cushions and pillars and buffers in the system that have allowed us to have comfortable, essentially physically soft lives. To be facing that brings up a lot of anxiety and depression and fear and makes us susceptible to hurrying and going for quick fixes and finding any palliative method that will ease the advent of discomfort or the pain that we’re terrified is coming our way.

I know I’m generalizing, and maybe projecting. But I don’t think I’m far off. I think that there is evidence and symptoms are all around us, so Sherri’s call to do the work of our own trauma healing, to recognize the wounds that we have carried intergenerationally, the original wounds of separation that fed flight, migration of our forebears whose primary identities may have been more national than indigenous when they arrived here on Turtle Island, the North American and South American, Central American continent, and would have fed the violence that we then perpetrated on others, repeating the violence that had been done to us or that we witnessed happening to others like us and fled.

That’s deep trauma, which has been masked and covered up by a couple of centuries of being the beneficiaries of that violence, of having been lifted up because of an external characteristic, our white skin, that was manipulated into a position of privilege, superiority, not because of any essential actual better qualities within us, but because it served the savagery, the white savagery that’s been so carefully honed by the system, by white people who designed the system to be specific.

So there’s a lot of work to be done around whiteness itself and separating whiteness as an invented, cultivated, carefully crafted basis for an identity that has been abbreviated as the only source of identity for folks who’ve had everything else stripped from them. So white people today in the United States have no other basis, typically, generally. There are strands of course, of heritage and tradition that have filtered through, but by and large, the expectation and the basis of how we understand ourselves is linked and fused with capitalism, industrialization, all the new ways of technology.

And we’re being manipulated and yanked around on the basis of our deep familiarity with things being fast and having our emotions manipulated and being unable to slow down enough to gain perspective, because slowing down means allowing the horror and our fears to come forward, to be looked at and felt and processed. So we have to create spaces and times to do that. And only by doing that can we come to a place where we will be competent enough to renegotiate agreements with indigenous people and other peoples of the global majority who have suffered and are trying to heal from the generations of suffering that has been visited upon them and they’ve gone through.

And I will tell you that I am on 91 crossing the Connecticut River, and a bald eagle just flew to my left.

Recorded on July 17, 2019
Location: Interstate 91 driving north from Connecticut to Massachusetts

The White Body


Steph :                   The white body.

The significance of the White Body — of being embodied within a white body has just … made itself an apparent … notion in my consciousness, in my awareness, just within the last couple of weeks. I’ve been quite aware of white fragility in the couple of years since the 2016 presidential election: observing the urgency and anxious response of many white people, some of whom have had long careers in activism, but most of whom may feel liberal or progressive in their interpersonal relations, but have not ever attempted to change anything in the system, either at their organization, their work, their church, their neighborhood, and certainly not at a political level.

I think that white fragility is … a label for the anxiety manifesting through white bodies. I understand the technical definition that Robin DiAngelo has created, and I agree with it — that because white people have not considered their whiteness, have not considered the being-ness of living through existence in a white body with the privilege that comes from that — that the sensitivity to talking about race and understanding ourselves as white people, as raced, is a correct definition for white fragility.

As the anxiety in society ramps up overall, because of the pressures of climate change, and the advanced stages of exploitative capitalism, white people are more susceptible to a generalized kind of anxiety, which can manifest both through white fragility, and I’m sure many other ways. And probably it’s conflated, like maybe it isn’t always only the fragility of whiteness, but not having had to deal with extreme social pressures, and survival pressures, in the way that people of color have had to. It just means that white people in general, especially from the working middle class, or the working class, and lower middle, and middle class on up have had to deal with difficult things, but not the systemic struggle which does cultivate a certain kind of endurance, and sustainability, and resilience in personality and character.

Figuring out how to navigate through rough periods of social interaction is not necessarily a skill that is widespread in white communities, or even white spaces. I’m hypothesizing. There are, I’m sure, communities out there who have worked through very difficult things. I’m thinking in particular of communities who become activated because of horrific violence through a school shooting or something. People do obviously hold together through tragic illness, all kinds of personal life circumstances. It’s a different kind of thing when holding together is what’s required to address the social pressure: a social pressure that is larger than random chance of what happens in a person’s life.

Communities of color have had to deal with that for generations. There’s a lot of trauma associated with that, and that trauma has to get sorted and healed from, and is going to manifest in interactions with white people as well as within communities of like-identified folk. There’s a difference between the trauma of generational trauma and situational trauma. It’s one of the reasons why the Jewish experience is so tricky, because there’s generational trauma, intergenerational trauma. And, there is a kind of passing of white privilege. Both can be true, and one aspect or the other may be more alive in a given moment than at another moment, but both are always true.

The simultaneity of our identities is … potentially a really powerful place to identify where intersectionality makes its strongest impact. White fragility manifests at that intersection between the institutions that have promoted white people to be in positions of more comfort, even though a white person might be lesbian, gay, queer, transgender, or Deaf, or of a religious minority, of a class background, or some other identity, group identification or experience that is not favored by the institutions, but is targeted by them. That’s the switch when white people switch to one of those target identities when that’s not where the intersectional emphasis is happening.

There’s a lot to tease out there, but I think there’s some coming back to the body, and the white body as the site where the anxiety and the privilege is playing out, both at the individual level and at the social level, and that white fragility is an entry point to transformational capacity. It’s actually kind of exciting. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be fun to be exposed to one’s own vulnerabilities, especially as they manifest through white fragility, because it’s a disjunct. It creates cognitive dissonance, right? If at the interpersonal level there are good relationships with people of color, but at the social level, and the organizational level, and the institutional level, we haven’t done that work, and it becomes apparent when our white fragility shows up. That’s not fun, I mean, it’s tough to go through. But I guess I hypothesize that the sharper or the more acute the white fragility is, or the deeper and the more enduring, whatever, there’s a certain kind of power there, a force intensity that can be transformed. It’s energy.

That energy can become directed in another way that could be very constructive, and productive, and transformative, and contribute to social change in ways that make it grow in momentum and become more real and substantial. So we’ll see how it goes moving ahead in this conversation about the white body.


Mid-Century Modern (e.g. Frank Lloyd Wright)


Steph:                     We’re going to call this “Mid-Century Modern?”

Lindsey:                 Okay.

Steph:                     Okay. That’s what they’re called.

Lindsey:                 I like this one too.

Steph:                     Yeah.

Lindsey:                 It’s a little more like… It has brick, it has some more privacy.

Steph:                     Yeah, I like that the height of the exterior is tall enough.

Lindsey:                 Yeah, I like that.

Steph:                     But you still have all those windows. This is my question, who is going to wash those windows?

Lindsey:                 I don’t know.

Steph:                     Yeah.

Lindsey:                 [laughter] I don’t know babe.

Steph:                     Besides the fact that you gave up money.

Lindsey:                 This is a Craftsmen that somebody’s calling a mid-century modern home, but it’s a Craftsman home. I don’t know why they’re calling that a mid-century modern. I like craftsman homes.

Steph:                     You don’t like it?

Lindsey:                 I do like Craftsman, but I lived in a Craftsman. I don’t have a lot of experience inside mid-century modern homes.

Steph:                     Okay.

Lindsey:                 On the interior.

Steph:                     Okay.

Lindsey:                 I have a couple.

Steph:                     Okay.

Lindsey:                 I know I like the light. I know I also want some room definition, which is contrary to the whole trend of totally open floor plans.

Steph:                     Yeah.

Lindsey:                 I would like a room that you close the door to that has a piano in it, for example, and that it’s not open, and if you want a computer on, it’s not in the same space.

Steph:                     It’s not interference, yeah.

Lindsey:                 To me that’s important.

Steph:                     You need a music room.

Lindsey:                 A separate space. I did live in a Craftsman, and it was all open. The floor plan on the first level was just-

Steph:                     Uh-huh, all the way around.

Lindsey:                 It had a middle.

Steph:                     I guess that’s like the house I grew up in.

Lindsey:                 Right?

Steph:                     It went all the way around.

Lindsey:                 The house I grew up in-

Steph:                     Which was kind of cool.

Lindsey:                 The house I grew up in was that, but all of them had doors.

Steph:                     Because one way through was the bathroom and it was kind of like a secret.

Lindsey:                 Oh, that’s fun.

Steph:                     Yeah.

Lindsey:                 Between a room was a bathroom?

Steph:                     It was under the stairs…

Lindsey:                 The bathroom was under the stairs?

Steph:                     The stairs went upstairs and downstairs and then the bathroom, a single seat toilet, was tucked there.

Lindsey:                 Oh, it was under the stairs. That’s cute.

Steph:                     Yeah. People could use that without going upstairs. You had a guest bedroom or bathroom.

Lindsey:                 That’s cute. I like that.

Steph:                     It was cute, but then we could run around the entire… But normally we didn’t. Normally, we just navigated the house in a “C,” from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room to the front entry and stairs.

Lindsey:                 Kitchen to the dining room to the living room to the stairs.

Steph:                     Yeah.

Lindsey:                 But over here is a bathroom? Wait, but what’s the…

Steph:                     Between the stairs and the kitchen…

Lindsey:                 …is the bathroom. You could walk through it?

Steph:                     You could walk through it, but we didn’t usually, because it was the bathroom.

Lindsey:                 That’s cool!

Steph:                     Every now and then we were…

Lindsey:                 What year was the house built? Do you know?

Steph:                     Rich and Dad would know. I don’t know.

Lindsey:                 Hmm. Cool.

Steph:                     My brother would know. Wait a minute, because the reason that we’re having this conversation is because we discovered that your album is designed in the mid-century modern style.

Lindsey:                 There’s privacy things they have going on there. Do you see that?

Steph:                     Does that mean we’re not supposed to have this conversation on the podcast?

Lindsey:                 Oh, no, no, no. I was looking… How did they get… There are not a lot of areas with the amount of privacy that would allow for as many windows as I think are beautiful in a mid-century modern house for me to feel comfortable having them open all the time.

Steph:                     Right.

Lindsey:                 I just noticed that they did a little technique here where… Because curtains are not mid-century modern. Curtains don’t fit the aesthetic.

Steph:                     Okay.

Lindsey:                 This is a slat kind of thing.

Steph:                     Okay.

Lindsey:                 That functions as a curtain, but still lets the light in. Okay. You were talking about the album.

Steph:                     That’s how we got here, because we were talking about the conversation between the text on your album-

Lindsey:                 And the pictures.

Steph:                     The text, and the font, and the style of that.

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     And the style of the photographs.

Lindsey:                 Right. The photos are 1970, and I said to the person who ultimately designed the text that I wanted the text to be more modern-looking. I guess by modern I meant clean lines, which to me is like a mid-century modern home.

Steph:                     Right, so that’s how you closed the gap.

Lindsey:                 That why I said it’s like the equivalent in album text…

Steph:                     Then we started looking-

Lindsey:                 …to a mid century modern home.

Steph:                     Right. The example of the album cover that you’re talking about was, did you say, John Lennon’s cover?

Lindsey:                 No, George Harrison.

Steph:                     George Harrison.

Lindsey:                 His text is very clean, and I like the very clean text. I forget the name of that album, but it was George Harrison with a line and all of the text is very thin. The album cover was a sepia tone with a picture of him that had been faded. It wasn’t live color, but the whole album cover evoked that kind of sparseness, but in particular the text. I like what I arrived… I’m not going to say her name, because she doesn’t necessarily know if she wants to be in this.

Steph:                     Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lindsey:                 I like what she arrived at with the text.

Steph:                     Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lindsey:                 It’s modern but it isn’t that.

Steph:                     Right. Right. Then we got to this conversation, because you sent it to somebody to do the layout without any instruction whatsoever, and she matched the text-

Lindsey:                 To the pictures.

Steph:                     To the pictures and put it in that kind of time.

Lindsey:                 It was seventies.

Steph:                     It was okay. The point is that you didn’t want your message to be “This is all about the 70s”. What you’re saying is, “I started with the music of the 70s.”

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     “That’s where I started. That’s what you see first.”

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     Then you have to think about what is happening between the words, the text on the album, and the photos on the album.

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     And then how do all three relate to what’s happening in your lyrics?

Lindsey:                 There you go.

Steph:                     Yeah. Like that. Is that the house you liked best?

Lindsey:                 Well, I don’t know. It’s all relative. I don’t know. It’s a little boring, honestly.

Steph:                     It’s all relative.

Lindsey:                 Too much glass.

Steph:                     What were we saying before about the title?

Lindsey:                 [crosstalk 00:06:47] I like the wood like that. What, the title?

Steph:                     The title of the album.

Lindsey:                 Right? Yeah. You were saying something about how it reveals…it’s just the outline, so people have to fill in?

Steph:                     Right, right.

Lindsey:                 …the content of Anthem?

Steph:                     Yes.

Lindsey:                 Or that they’re participating in the making of Anthem? There’s space there.

Steph:                     Yeah!

Lindsey:                 This is interesting, because this is a very densely populated area, obviously. Neighbor, neighbor.

Steph:                     Right.

Lindsey:                 I’m assuming they have not a lot of windows on each side of this home, and just on the back is where they’re getting their light.

Steph:                     Right.

Lindsey:                 And they did a good job. I liked that.

Steph:                     Which means they live there.

Lindsey:                 I know. I was going to say, “I don’t know if I want that, but I like how that looks on that window.”

Steph:                     All right.

Lindsey:                 I don’t know. I just like looking at houses.

Steph:                     This is seven minutes. We could go a little bit longer. Is there anything else you want to say about the album release, which is happening…?

Lindsey:                 I hope to have it in hand August 12th.

Steph:                     Right, and then the second house concert is going to be…?

Lindsey:                 August 18th.

Steph:                     August 18th.

Lindsey:                 Here’s the classic.

Steph:                     And then there’s another.

Lindsey:                 September. [background sound — a squeeze-toy horn] Oh, there’s the timer.

Steph:                     Oh, kale chips. Okay. Okay. We’ve got a plan. Anthem.


I am not against Kamala. I might be for Pete.


I am not against Kamala. I might be for Pete.

I’ve been involved in a process of trying to evaluate how the first Gathering Resilience event went. Part of that evaluation is making sense of how it might be situated in relation to other conversations that I’m participating in, at least as a consumer.

There’s something in this about the white body. I’m not sure what yet, something. Overall, I think the event went well, and there were some pretty stressful dynamics. For me, anyway. I mean, I hope the stress was behind the scenes and other folks weren’t aware of it. And we got through them. We did a really risky thing, we did a couple of potentially risky things, but the riskiest thing we did I think was call out whiteness in the icebreaker and trusted the group would hold that. And the group held it actually really well. And I think the young people who got to experience facilitating a small group of adults, people older than them, the Gen Xers. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, who are we? The Baby Boomers. This is like an opportunity for the current youth, the activated youth, an opportunity to practice facilitating a conversation with Baby Boomers, because that’s the conversation that has any kind of hope.

I mean, there’s all the rest of the conversations, and they matter, they’re important, and they have their moments, but young people are growing a movement to change the economy. And changing the economy requires Baby Boomers to help, to become drivers of the change, not just passive participants in whatever doesn’t happen or is prevented from happening, and riding along in this comfortable current of whiteness, white privilege. It’s a big deal. I think it’s a big deal. But it’s not so easy to shift your body out of that current, right? You’ve been in it for a long time, and you’ve been variously aware of it. There’s no way that becoming aware of it is going to be a piece of cake. There’s so much stuff associated with it, historical, deep history, familial, autobiographical history, and this whole social context that situates those histories and biographies.

Yeah, so anyway, I think the event ended up going really well despite some really stressful stuff. I mean, the facilitators I think were confused for a little bit, but they just held it together and waited, and delivered. And the young people, so far, I’m still going to do my follow up soon, but their initial energy was pretty good. I think they grew somehow or exercised a muscle in a way that worked. I don’t know. But I hope so, I think so, I’m going to follow up. And that was my kind of baseline indicator of success, is how the five young people who were facilitators felt. And then there’s all the rest of it.

So, anyway, yeah, and I’m just thinking about this because actually the single most effective part of the entire design was the barn dance. Yeah. It’s really true. That’s it. It was just the best thing. And it came, I don’t know, but it came at a good moment. Maybe it wasn’t the perfect moment or the ideal moment, the moment that it should always happen, but the timing was correct. And the energy I think went up until that point.

And then the second groups, eh, not so much. I mean, the conversations that happened in them were good. Actually, maybe the second groups might’ve been okay. But then there was more work after that. And I think that that’s not what I want to do in the future. And I was trying to avoid that, but it wasn’t clear how to do it. I really needed help. I needed partners to talk through different perspectives on it, and we just didn’t have much time to do that, to get those kind of a capstone, “How do you close and transition it in a good way?” So the evaluation process is all I have right now for doing that, and everybody’s got their own experience of going through the day, and then whatever’s happened since, and whether it’s been something that has stayed in memory or you just moved on.

So yeah, so the evaluation process. And it’s just … What are the other conversations I’m involved within, because, okay, so we had a good internal conversation, we had a group level interaction at a micro-social, interpersonal scale that has relevance for who’s going to be the next president. And how much mandate will there be? How much evidence for a mandate? And it isn’t even evidence of a mandate, right? Because evidence can be manipulated. It’s how big of a measurable shift will we create for the economy? There has to be incentives of the right kind that will make it meaningful for corporations to retool. We’ve done it for war. We did it to get to the moon.

So the conversation, it seems to me, at the national level and the international level, that is at the global scale, at the scale of solution, that conversation is being driven by youth activists, since Standing Rock. I mean, that’s when it started.

So yeah, anyway, this is I guess my first public report on the first Gathering Resilience.


Podcast Episode 007: A Reading of N. K. Jemisin

Transcript (Quoting Jemisin):

Eventually, I considered it the topic of death.

I could kill myself now, probably. This was not normally an easy thing for any god to do, as we are remarkably resilient beings. Even willing ourselves into nonexistence did not work for long; eventually, we would forget that we were supposed to be dead and start thinking again. Yeine could kill me, but I would never ask it of her. Some of my siblings, and Naha, could and would do it, because they understood that sometimes life is too much to bear. But I did not need them anymore. The past two nights’ events had verified what I’d already suspected: those things that had once merely weakened me before could kill me now. So if I could steel myself to the pain of it, I could die whenever I wished simply by continuing to contemplate antithetical thoughts until I became an old man, and then a corpse.

And perhaps it was even simpler than that. I needed to eat and drink and piss waste now. That meant I could starve,and thirst, and that my intestines and other organs were actually necessary. If I damaged them, they might not grow back.

What would be the most exciting way to commit suicide?

Because I did not want to die an old man. Kahl had gotten that much right. If I had to die, I would die as myself–as Sieh, the Trickster, if not the child. I had blazed bright in my life. What was wrong with blazing in death too?

Before I reached middle age, I decided. Surely I could think of something interesting by then.


–N. K. Jemisin. The Kingdom of Gods, Book 3: The Inheritance Trilogy (2014, p. 1036). Orbit/Hachette Book Group: New York.

Podcast Episode 006: Mahacanattuck River Walk, Day 7


I’m not great at this time thing, time and timing. It’s day seven of the Water Walk. I think that’s right. I’m trying to finish the blogpost about kind of summarizing the first week. We got to hear the sound of running water a lot. On the day that we went for the 27 mile stretch of the upper, upper Hudson, the Muhheakanatuck. Shoot, Mahacanatuck. I don’t know. I think that’s the right way to say it, but my auditory ability to pick out tones, not so good. Chinese? Norwegian? Tonal languages, identifying birdsong. Anyway, there’s a little bit of running water near where I live, where I spend most of my time. It’s kind of special.

The pressure of the moment, the crisis is building, which means we have to be even more intentional about creating peaceful, nonviolent alternatives that still give people a sense of purpose.

For instance, it is meaningful to join the SacredWater is Life Prayer Walk. Communication can happen and does happen, regardless of whether we’re paying attention or believe, have been convinced by the evidence, whatever it is we rest our knowledge on, or our sense of confidence in the knowledge that we believe, or feel, or think that we have or that we earned, or that we acquired through effort. What if there are parts of it that are flawed and how do you identify that? Face it and change if it’s been dug so deep? Going on the Water Walk can be meditative because you’re walking. So that slows you down a whole lot more than any other mode of transit, and all the other modes of transit are typically preferred because they’re faster. So being on the Water Walk slows you down.

It’s meditative. But Grandmother tells stories and things happen, and you have to figure out this, that and the other thing. So you have to actually negotiate for silence if that’s what you would like or if that’s what’s called for, or discipline yourself to remain silent if someone else needs it. The efforts at healing, at restoration, at any kind of social repair; reparations, actually recognizing and acknowledging the need for reparations, and starting to do the work of figuring out how to implement it.

I think the question is not how much, the question is how, and then in the how, we figure out the engineering of the financial system that makes it work, so that people who currently feel pretty comfortable and can coast right up to the end, don’t commit suicide for all of us. Because they can’t emotionally figure out how to absorb the change.

But I think that kind of creativity is only going to come out of people spending quality time together in some kind of moving meditation. So your body’s engaged, but you’re actually able to bring your awareness to your body, because your body isn’t just moving in service of whatever it is you’re doing, or trying to do, or rushing to get to, or hurrying to get done. So you feel where it’s tight, figure out how to relax and become lighter and more nimble with responses, so that whatever it is that sets something off, you can be quick enough to go, “Oh no, no. I’m not going to go down the usual path. I know where that one leads, not so ideal.”

Would be happy to let it go. I just have to figure out what’s the other thing to do in that moment. But just to have that capacity to interrupt, is a big step and you can only get that if there’s a condition that stretches out your experience of time, so that the other things that occupy your mind, don’t get continually re-stimulated, and so they have a chance to kind of dissipate into the background. They’re not gone. They’re just not defining who you are at this moment. So I go back to the Water Walk tomorrow and hopefully I’ll have the blog post up by then, and we’ll get this event nailed down June 22nd, it looks like.

Yeah, there’s a lot more Walk to 28 day cycle, closing ceremony on July 2nd, event June 22 and maybe something in-between. That’s not quite clear yet, but every day there’s Walking and we love to have Walkers with us. Grandmother especially, would love to have Walkers with her, who are there just to listen. Okay. Not just to listen. They want to help too, but to fit the form of the prayer that most suits Grandmother Carole.

All right. That’s this one.


Podcast Episode 005: Gathering Resilience


I’m in high gear now for Gathering Resilience. The event coming up in May — Moving from Woke to Woven. It’s high spring or I’m having an accelerated spring, recording this as I’m driving south from Massachusetts to Tennessee but I’ll be back in Massachusetts for Gathering Resilience. I’ve been thinking about what it would take to reorganize the food economy in western Massachusetts. For one thing I know we need milk distribution centers. I don’t know exactly, but maybe four or five throughout the state because that would make it possible for the smaller scale dairy farmers to sustain their businesses rather than be forced to work with these mega corporations that have no investment in the local social welfare.

Then there’s just producing food and making sure that we have no food deserts; that we have a really high level of resilience in terms of production and distribution locally. Again building up an economy or reconfiguring an economy that rewards people that do the work of growing, harvesting, packaging I guess, preparing the food and getting it out to everyone who needs it — which is all of us by the way. You noticed? I’ve been watching signs in grocery stores for a couple years that talk about a shortage of some produce or a particular product that has been impacted by a weather event and the rumors about what’s going to be in short supply or what will run out soon.

This is one of the trends of that instability that results from an increasing temperature in the atmosphere. Anyway, I don’t want to get into too many details but Gathering Resilience, Moving from Woke to Woven is coming up. You can get more information about it at learningresiliency.com. Yeah I think that’s it for this one. Catch you next time.

RID Denies Members Opportunity to Vote on Motion

If you have an immediate negative reaction to the idea of unionizing sign language interpreters, then I would like to ask you—politely, please—to pause for a moment and recognize bias.

Most of us have no idea what it could mean to become a Union. In fact, I am still learning. I’m eager to find up to a dozen other sign language interpreters, Deaf and Hearing, who are willing to investigate this notion.

Most importantly, interpreters in general have no idea how much unionizing could help the aims and goals of the American Deaf Community. Instead, the notion is shot down by assumptions and stereotypes before we get a chance to engage in a thoughtful way.

The reality is that there are many questions to answer before we can have a clear vision about whether unionizing is an act of deep structural change that will promote Deaf people’s freedom to participate in social life, or just another way to protect the privileges of hearing interpreters. Anyone who wants to respond seriously to calls for social justice ought to be open to learning if unionizing has real potential to make differences that all of our other efforts have so far failed to produce.

The RID Bylaws Committee found a legal reason not to bring the Motion to the 2019 Business Meeting.

A Motion for RID to set up a Task Force to study the question of unionizing was rejected by RID’s lawyers on the basis of anti-trust law. Interpreters can talk about it, but not within the auspices of RID.  This means we have to establish ourselves on the outside, as a small self-selected study group, technically called an organizing committee.

The members of this group would invest time exploring the questions of what and how unionizing could be the best, right, next thing for sign language interpreting in the United States. Please sign up to volunteer or to receive information on developments.

Find more information at this webpage: Organizing Interpreters.

Podcast Episode 004: Transforming: Design and Engineering Part 3


Violence serves the interests of people in power. If we can reduce and minimize the kinds of motivations that channel people towards violent activities and violent actions, and if we stop sanctioning violence in our international and domestic relations, things will get better. It’s inevitable. That’s how it works. It’s not impossible or somehow precluded as a possible future. It could happen. We have to change some rules. That’s what humanity has done throughout evolution. We learn something, we change the rules. We learn something else, we change the rules.

Now, people have been changing the rules in a particular kind of way for several hundred years, since the industrial revolution and the advent of technology that gave us more control of people’s time, and increasing technology that allowed all of these transactions to occur without barriers, money, transactions, but that’s rules. The rules have been designed to allow money to move more easily than people, and it set up a contest between human beings who want to live in relationship with each other and the natural planet, the systems of the planet, and an artificial, constructed kind of hallucination, really, that endless accumulation, and the notion of continuous progress are somehow preordained as the only way to determine value.

Like, that’s just ridiculous, but we’re so enculturated, it’s so deeply embedded in us to worry about the monetary value of our time, especially those whose use of time has been bankrolled by a system that funnels other people, mostly brown people, plenty of other less-than-perfect white Americans, the image of what it means to be an American, the old image of what it means to be an American. Like, we’re just so steeped in a political economy that gives straight white men all the power, which they have used, in every field, to create a web of interlocking policies, laws, gendered cultural practices, and raced cultural practices, to keep themselves in power.

And those of us who don’t fit that, but are still benefiting from whiteness, like we have to understand that we are just as guilty. Like, there’s a way in which, at this point in time, at this historical epoch, our inaction, our coasting along on the existing fossil fuel infrastructure, and the stock market, and the way they game futures in this or that, our embeddedness in the healthcare insurance industry, all of the insurances. Like, all of those things are ways to extend white privilege, right? The people who get the most of those benefits and advantages are the people who fit into the industrialized corporate structure of big business, or small businesses that are playing by those rules and have a good enough product to be competitive, et cetera, et cetera.

Competition, I think, is still really important, but we can compete on different terms, or on terms that are defined, categorically, at a level that’s beyond a basic quality of life that our technology most definitely enables us to provide for everyone, if we chose to do it. And there’s really no reason not to do it. Our circumstances might shift in terms of… Like, I just think of it as a lateral shift. We’re bringing people up in collective ways, and there should still be a lot of variation. Culture matters tremendously, and we need to make sure that we create systems that enable bridges, and conduits, and spans of interpretation and transition from a setting or a context into another setting or context.

It’s just not undoable. We could really do it. We just need enough people in enough different industries, the various pillars of society, government included and essentially in government, and businesses, especially bigger corporate businesses, to own it, and say, “It’s our turn. It’s our time to be a great generation.” And not just one generation, like only a certain subset of the ages of the generations that are currently alive, but intersectional, across, intergenerationally. Let’s be the people that do this thing.

Podcast Episode 003: Transforming: Design and Engineering Part 2


All right, so I’m having ideas and I’m just going to keep talking, because it could be done. For instance, the other day, I was driving over to see friends to have dinner and go to a concert, and I just looked around, and everybody’s driving. Everybody’s out in their cars, going somewhere. Like, this is a problem. We can’t all be in our cars going somewhere anymore, right? That’s a lifestyle that is perpetuating the fossil fuel industry, and we need to stop. We need to shift it. So okay, how would that happen? Well, what if there was a buyback program for cars? They’ve got buyback programs for automatic weapons. New Zealand just did it. The US has done it in places before. So if we thought about personal vehicles actually as instruments of ecological warfare, and understood that we need to turn them in and get around by a different mode of transportation, that would move us a pretty far distance down the timeline of transition.

But then what would happen? Well, why can’t all the cars go to disassembly plants or whatever kind of manufacturing facility can convert the parts into the parts needed for better public transit. Like, that’s what we need, right? People still want to be able to get around. We need a system that allows people to get around together, through public transportation, conduits of trains, rail, maybe some kinds of buses. I mean, the stuff that the Chinese have is… Like, there’s crazy technology out there for mass-moving people around, and there can be enough variety in the routes, in the types and the routes, to make it so you can get pretty much anywhere. We just have to decide that’s what we need to do, and then we just do it, so we retool.

We go on a kind of economic footing like we did for the World Wars, and like we did when 43… Was it 43? 42? Bush. The second Bush decided to go to war against Iran. He used a phrase at that time about the United States being like a bear waking up from slumber, and being an unstoppable force once it gets moving. Well, supposedly lots of people are getting woke, but we haven’t really started moving in any kind of coordinated fashion yet. There are a lot of efforts, but they’re siloed, kind of piecemeal, and not very intersectional. Kind of like the Academy, which has been talking about interdisciplinarity for decades, but still struggles to reward people who are actually doing it.

But that’s what we need to figure out, is a big bold plan. The Green New Deal could easily be a label, a container, for hashing out the plan, or the plans, because there will need to be many. Transportation’s one sector. Education is another sector. Healthcare is another sector. They all need to be integrated to the extent that we know where they intersect each other, and that’s where we need to make the transitions, or the juxtapositions, the intersections seamless. They need to be smooth.

So transportation takes you to where your healthcare is, and education allows you to understand how to use the transportation system and the healthcare system to maintain your own health and wellbeing, and that of your family, as well as finding means to situate yourself in a good housing situation and an income situation, or networked ability to receive enough food to be able to eat well and feed your family well. Like, there are just some basics. If we took those basics as the essentials, and approached them with a long-term view, such as indigenous people have, and have always had, and are trying very much to tell us, if we would only listen, we could do this thing.

It doesn’t mean it will be without disruption. Things will change. But the change doesn’t necessarily have to be for the worse. Conditions are going to get much more challenging, and to the extent that we try to protect the things that cushion us in the old economy, we impair our ability to transition smoothly to the new economy. But if we just engage the reality that things need to change, and then diligently work at how to make sure everybody gets enough, and build that into the… I mean, it could still be capitalist. Build it into the infrastructure of the circulation of money, because that’s what keeps an economy going. It’s not that everybody keeps trying to accumulate as much as they possibly can, although obviously there are always going to be people who are motivated by that.

But an economy only works if the goods are in circulation, and right now, most of the goods, the financial goods, are tied up among an astonishingly small number of people, who are probably sick with this disease of needing to hoard it to themselves, and battling with each other to outmaneuver each other, get a little bit more. And while they’re playing that game with the rest of us, we’re trying to figure out bigger solutions, that shift the rules of the game so that the circulation happens in a more equitable way, a more fair way. It’s just that simple.