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Introverts Response to Party Invitations

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Thank you for inviting me to your holiday/birthday/going-away/celebration party. I want to come and celebrate how fabulous you and/or your work is. I want to get to know your people and expand my own circle of relations. I’m really grateful that you invited me. And… as an ever-increasing-introvert, I might not make it. The journey to get to your party, the anticipation of what it will be like when I arrive and have to navigate moving though humans, making small talk, and finding my place and way in a sea of human activity… well, there’s a high likelihood that the hermit in me will say, “Instead, let’s stay home. Put on some music and let’s find something fun to do here instead. You’ve had enough people in your life for today. Keep it simple. Send love and gratitude to all those good people at the party and have your own party here.” I’ll listen to her, and I’ll also notice the part of me that is disappointed to miss your party. So, thank you for your understanding if I don’t show up, if I leave early or if I play with your kids instead of hanging with the adults. I’m giving it what I’ve got! And next time there’s a small group getting together, those invitations are easier for me to say yes to. 

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Getting Involved in Politics

In past elections, I found people I trusted and followed their voting reccomendations. I voted. I “did my part” and that was that. I didn’t vote for Burr or Tillis but I also was not aware of who they were and what they were up to. And then I started waking up to the power grab happening in North Carolina and across the country. I began imagining what life could be like if rather than just voting, moral people were more involved in how our cities, states and country are actually run. Being involved is different than just having an opinion. I’m still discovering the ways to be involved that are right for me. It started with attending Moral Monday rallies. Starting to follow policy decisions and items up for votes. Then attending local city council and boards/commission meetings, making public comments to Council and at local community input opportunities, making calls to state senators and representatives, and having real conversations about these topics with family and friends. I’m learning and growing. I am grateful to all the people, especially our elders, who fought for the rights of our democracy to actually work to serve all people who live in this country… and who have always been engaged and active. I’m curious if more of us will join them and this American experiment in democracy will continue… or if it’s too late and we are too deeply embedded in a political structure run by wealthy individuals, corporations and interest groups that are acting as if this is a democracy.

“Burr topped the list with nearly $7 million in NRA support over his more than 20 years in Congress, according to the report.

Tillis, who has been in Congress for less than three years, ranked third on the center’s list, with more than $4.4 million in total support.”

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New to Being an Informed Voter

I am part of the masses who are JUST STARTING TO WAKE UP in regards to actively participating in the United States experiment in democracy. I believe democracy is a worthy experiment and thus I’m willing to play. I’ve always voted, usually in primaries and definitely in major elections. However I’ve not always been informed about who and what I’m voting for. I’m making a strong effort to change that. I believe if there is any hope in this country surviving in a way that is fair and respectful of all people who live on this land, it is going to take all of us with good hearts to PARTICIPATE (either in this current democratic system or in creating a new experiment).

ASHEVILLE — Early voting until Saturday. Election day November 7th.

What-if we all got involved in both voting and holding the elected officials accountable. What if we actually cared enough about where we live, who our neighbors are, and how those with power are yielding or not yielding their power. Are you willing to be part of this process? Both the voting and the after the vote?

As for who I’m voting for, I’m still not clear. I’m considering what combination of 3 people I think might work best together in ways that I think will be effective in our city. I know I’m voting for Sheneika Smith and most likely Kim Roney. I know I’m not voting for Gwen Wisler. There are aspects of Vijay Kapoor, Rich Lee and Dee Williams that I think our city needs. I’m voting no on the redistricting.

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Equity Cafe @ Center for Nonprofit Excellence

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Last week I also had the opportunity to work, play and learn with Sarah Nuñez. Sarah walks her talk — a compassionate, strategic, heart-centered intersectional organizer, healer and divine human being who is living the future now! The Center for Nonprofit Excellence asked Sarah to give a keynote speech. Rather than saying yes and taking the stage, she helped the conference organizers see that more value could come from the people present being in conversation around the importance and relevance of equity in their work. She pulled together an intergenerational, interracial team including Marcos Morales and Lettie Johnson and we hosted a World Café on the theme of Being Bold. Being Equitable. I am so grateful to have these role models and co-consipritors in my life.

Sarah Nuñez shared: Thanks for being a part of all the design, process, and execution of the program, AC!!! We needed you with us and are super grateful for your wisdom, guidance, and reminders of all the ways we are brilliant! You brought many moments of mindful transitions and creativity to the day! Thanks for being our anchor to the roots of love, connections, and visions we are living through! #itstime #wedeserveeachother

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Staying Engaged in Local Politics

Black_Lives_Matter_And_Occupy_Wall_StreetI’m at fault. For the majority of my 8 years of living in Asheville, I was not involved in government politics. I was absorbed in my own life and work and field of perceptions and not paying attention to the laws and policies being passed, enforced or not enforced locally. I paid my taxes, but paid little attention to how city officials voted or how city staff performed their jobs. I trusted that other people were paying attention while I was paying attention to other things. And here we are.

Now I wake up at 5am imagining how hotels could be transformed into affordable housing and staffed with the healers so prolific in asheville, folks providing services to those living in financial poverty instead of just financial wealth. I think about all these hotels that don’t pay a living wage. I think about the rapidly decreasing numbers of people of color in the city and the rapidly increasing numbers of white folks flooding in. And reading an article like this one, how our city manager and police chief wouldn’t step in to help when their help was requested, I have to reckon with the fact that I, and people like me, are at fault. We who are comfortable enough in our life bubbles rationalize not paying attention. That said, while I will take some of the blame. I won’t stop there. I won’t get stuck in my emotions, feel ashamed of my inaction, overwhelmed by the truth, and thus continue not to act, not pay attention, or not be involved.

I invite you to join me in paying attention and placing our hearts upon these issues in our city, if you aren’t already. We could really be a remarkable, model city for innovative solutions to some of the toughest challenges cities across the country are facing. Or we can be a beer, tourist city for white folks while increasing the numbers of children living in poverty and families living on the streets and move from the #2 most gentrified city into first place. The choice is made in each of our actions and inactions. My vote is for innovative, radical change that is rooted in moral actions that further the wellbeing of all humans, that looks at the nuances of our history and makes decisions about the future that take into consideration that history… and much more to this vision of what could be, but this post is long enough.

Article that inspired some of this sharing and reflection: Mt. Zion says hotel encroaching on church property

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Because we are wiser together…

FullSizeRender (1)Last week, 80 leaders in Chicago opened my heart and inspired me to dream a new dream about how organizing is possible in a city. The majority of these folks use conversation as a tool for invoking the wisdom of the people, and supporting the people in organizing themselves to see the change and action they know is necessary in their communities — creating safer and more just communities, creating opportunities for healing. This group of people included folks using the World Café, Peacemaking Circles, and Art of Hosting practices in school districts, classrooms, with law enforcement and youth, to increase child protective rights and trauma-informed behaviors, to bring about social and emotional learning and restorative justice.

Midway through the day, I offered a woven poem, streaming together quotes that had been said throughout the day into one collective expression. You will hear snippets from these leaders sharing stories of their work, Juanita Brown offering insight into the roots of The World Cafe, and meaningful conversations about what we are all learning and what we hear these times calling for.

Deep gratitude to Lina Cramer and Renee Jackson and all of your mates who have been building the capacity for this inspiring network of leaders over the last 10 years.

The workshop was: We Were Made for These Times: Becoming Wiser Together (invitation here).

Here’s an audio of the woven poem.

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Reflections on White Supremacy on the Rise

So many feelings around this

Nazi’s and White Supremacists are willing to be violent and kill people. Period. They also feel emboldened right now.

This feels like an instance where police acted fast and used their resources to stop actual violent perpetrators (With the partnership of a community member that knew to remember the license plate in a time of crisis). I’m grateful for that.

I was traveling last week. One of the things that I noticed and mentioned to my white male friend was that I kept noticing myself being suspicious of a certain type of white men (clean cut, polished and pointy ones) when I passed them in the hotel. Many times I caught myself wondering what was under their suit? Is he one of the alt-right folks? My friend encouraged me to continue listening to that thought, let it warn and protect, and at the same time, to also hold the awareness that my mind is recognizing patterns and making generalizations.

In writing this post, I kept deleting my thought that — their sunburns feel symbolic. Then I went to learn more about the conference and read the NYtimes article that quoted Richard Spencer, a leader amongst the alt-right and the keynote of their conference:

“But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. Mr. Spencer called out: “Hail Trump! Hail our people!” and then, “Hail victory!” — the English translation of the Nazi exhortation “Sieg Heil!” The room shouted back.

And from the article about the 3 men arrested:

“In a coincidence, two of the men who were arrested spoke to the Gainesville Sun before the shooting. Said William Fears to the newspaper: “Us coming in and saying we’re taking over your town, we’re starting to push back, we’re starting to want to intimidate back. We want to show our teeth a little bit because, you know, we’re not to be taken lightly. We don’t want violence; we don’t want harm. But at the end of the day, we’re not opposed to defending ourselves.”

I wonder about all the men who are trying to show their teeth right now, what is the healing that they need? All the white people who feel threatened by changing power structures and are also trying to show their teeth or actually firing bullets at people, actual bullets or the ones dressed as laws and policies. What do they need to start acting differently?

And always, I wonder what we do to shift this. In this case, I can only look to all the other white folks I share this planet with. These are our people. These are our fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, sons and neighbors. It is also many of our ancestors who did, in fact, create an America that was initially only for white, wealthy people. In that way, I think the first part of what Richard Spencer says has truth:

“America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Mr. Spencer thundered. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”

American governance is indeed the creation of white people. In most other ways, America was nourished and built by people of color.

I think that the rest of us white folks have a responsibility to help the future of America be one that is created by the vast diversity of people who inhabit this land, to share what we have inherited with those who are not white, and together, to recognize that this land actually belongs to Mother Earth.

Phew… so many feelings…

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