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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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Priorities in Schools aren’t Right

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Schools — places where our children go to learn. What makes a healthy and supportive learning environment? More police officers than counselors demonstrates such a distortion of priorities (and intentions).

AND… it’s also a concrete data point that we could shift. These systems aren’t functioning effectively. Changing them will involve massive investments of energy and involvement from all kinds of different people. Are we capable of working together to move mountains? One step at a time?

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He Carried a Vision of Love Alive in the World

chris head shotSomeone incredibly dear to my heart and soul
left his body on Wednesday.

A spirit buddy. A soul friend.
A guide. A mentor.
A lover of life.

One who sought to “open eyes and entice hearts out of their prison into accepting a simpler, more loving way… I want to hold their hands and say, “don’t worry, we really can be fully ourselves, love makes its own way. Let’s laugh and enjoy one another and be caring, and vulnerable, and alive, and free.” ~ Chris Weaver

Chris held space and invited us into magical places, inside ourselves and out in the world. He modeled ways to live a more loving, compassionate and interconnected world. He was devoted to helping children be as fully alive and whole and connected to loving community as possible. He focused his attention on the places where children gathered. Including his sons.

Chris was a teacher. a father. a husband.
And so much more.

He was a wordsmith…
a poet
a writer
a storyteller
a metaphor maker

He could paint words that evoked worlds.
Co-creating cultures that felt like family.
He was a wisdom weaver with the elements.
It’s been said, that Chris was magic.

He carried a vision of love alive in the world.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I haven’t had a real conversation with Chris in about 13 years.
I don’t know where he was in his life journey.
But I do know that he experienced life deeply.
He was a feeler. He was awake to the joy and the suffering of living.

And when I knew him, he had old, old patterns. Patterns that could pull him into dark and isolating places. Sometimes those places were called depression. He was committed to learning to navigate those patterns.

“sometimes i feel like my dramas are like boats. they go somewhere. if i forget that the ocean is love, & is me, then i’ll stay on the boat (down in the hold, banging my head against the wall). but when i remember that it’s just a boat, then, well…maybe instead of dissolving it back into a wave of undifferentiated love (always a fun option), right now maybe i’ll just stay on the dramaboat & use it, follow it a bit further, find out what it is teaching me, let it shine & surprise somebody…

… and i sure remember my own version of the panic of feeling myself circling back into the prison-boat of my own depression (clang)” ~ Chris Weaver | 10.13.04

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

shofar-temple-mount-rosh-hashana-tallit-prayer-jerusalemYesterday was Rosh Hashanah.
I have not celebrated this religious holiday in many years. I felt called to go to services. The Rabbi spoke of the symbolism of blowing the shofar (a ram’s horn). Its sound is raw and piercing. It sounds pained, like crying. It is also a triumphant sound of joy and celebration.

She told us that it’s meant to remind us to pay attention and be alert to the raw truths happening around us.
To listen to people when they tell their own stories.
To hear the cries of those who are suffering.
To hear the mothers wailing for their lost children, even if their children are your enemy.

In her sermon, she connected this to the need for us to hear the declarations that Black Lives Matter and the accounts of how Palestinian people are suffering. We must listen to their stories in their own words. We must allow ourselves to hear and feel their cries.

After services I went to the river for a ritual (another tradition on this holiday). When I returned home, I learned that Chris had passed. I hear in his death that he was suffering. I feel shock rippling through his community. I return to the stories of the shofar.

Chris gifted us with so many different ways to experience life, love and beauty.
And it feels like perhaps he kept people protected from seeing the depths of pain and suffering that he also felt.

Some of the most amazing and magical people on this planet, who love so deeply and see fiercely how to make this world a more loving and just place, these are also people that are suffering deeply on the inside.

In my grief, I am also praying with all my heart, that we who are living,
…that we will get better at hearing the raw cries of those that are hurting,
…that we will see other options than to isolate ourselves when we are hurting,
…that we will shake up the patterns that have so many people unaware of how difficult life is for others,
…that we will give more loving attention to the realities of living with mental and emotional challenges,
…that we will grow in our abilities, as communities, to love and care for one another.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To my dear friend, as you transition to greater freedom…

Thank you for the beautiful gifts of living, loving and experiencing life that you have shared with so many of us. Our hearts and lives are forever changed for the better. May the love you cultivated be of profound support in helping those who loved you dearly find solace and peace as we adjust to you no longer being in physical form. May we always feel your presence. Rest peacefully. Fly free, dear one.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A few windows into his life:

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Shout out to the Badass LGBTQIA+ Folks

Keep shining. Wear those capes, live your dreams, and let’s together grow a better world. Please and thank you!

Lena Waithe became the first Black woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series

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What We Can DO


What can I do?
I hear so many people voicing their concern for these times and asking, “What can I do?”

Are you one of these tender-hearted people who believes in love, peace, and honoring the good in all humans? Are you afraid and possibly even paralyzed by the violence and hate that you are seeing and hearing around you? It’s real what you’re feeling. AND if your beliefs are authentic to who you are — you have to ACT also. Feeling the fear and sadness, talking about your concerns or sharing your beliefs on Facebook or with friends is not enough. We must ACT if we are serious about confronting the hate, violence, oppression and discrimination that is clearly alive and active in our local, regional, national and global communities.

Char Adams offers 4 very important things to DO. I’ve expanded on her words with my own comments.

1. Educate yourself – Google before you ask someone else to guide you. There is sooo much information on the internet – from how-to guides, the top 5 things to do, educational resources, to personal stories that show you a window into the lives of people who are different from you. Most likely you know what you are ignorant about and where you could use some education. Wether it’s what White Supremacy looks like in 2017, the racial disparities that exist in your local community, what someone means when they say they use “they/them” pronouns, or what Muslims actually believe… take time to learn.

2. Get involved locally – I have 2 big requests for locals in Asheville and I’m hoping my friends reading this will offer to help. 1. PLEASE donate money now to the Black August Bail Out Action to bail out Black women, queer and transgender folks who are still in prison only because they can’t afford bail. Info in comments. 2. Direct message me if you are free this Friday from 4:45-7 or 7-9:15 to volunteer at Downtown After Five to sell wrist bands and help raise money for a local organization, My Daddy Taught Me That. Beyond those two immediate requests, there are so many local groups wherever you live that are doing the important on-the-ground work of caring for, protecting, and nourishing people who are impacted by oppression. Wether you make calls to local people in positions of power, show up at civic meetings or the offices of public officials, volunteer on the ground, give money, or partner in another way… get involved.

3. Talk to your friends, families and peers about systemic oppression and privilege and how it effects people daily and address oppressive comments and behaviors when they come up (I amended this one) -

677625a3588698144ea69e24d52de82d425e62e1So many people think that White Supremacy is just the KKK and overt hate crimes. Yet the reality is that White Supremacy is profoundly alive in our schools, health care system, justice system, housing and transportation systems, etc. Talk to people about how the denial of home loans and housing discrimination has perpetuated poverty and allowed certain groups of people to prosper and accumulate wealth from one generation to the next. Discuss how racial profiling in policing and the judicial system and thus the disproportionate numbers of people of color and people in poverty that are incarcerated is effecting the lives of good people and destroying families. Talk about the impact of our segregated education system, the biased curriculums that so many learn from, and the impact this has on children’s lives and society at large. And be direct with your friends, family or peers when they say or do something that is racist or oppressive. Start acknowledging the jokes that are offensive or the off-handed derogatory comments. Don’t be silent. Don’t hide from difficult, uncomfortable conversations.

4. Constantly evaluate yourself – We have all been raised in a society that is steeped in ideology and behaviors of racism, superiority, oppression, privilege, etc. I seriously doubt that in the life time of anyone reading this, you will be healed from the impacts of oppression and privilege. The patterns of systemic oppression, White Supremacy, paternalism and patriarchy are powerful and insidious and we are all effected. It is a process of constant self evaluation to discover where these patterns are alive in me and how I can keep learning about myself, my beliefs, my sometimes hidden from myself biases, the ways I act that are offensive and oppressive and so much more. Don’t stop. Be courageous in your self-reflection. It may be hard to see parts of yourself that you didn’t know were there, but the liberation on the other side of that insight is so life-saving, both for you and for those in the world around you.

I thank you for caring enough to be asking yourself, “What can I do?” And I am profoundly grateful for your concrete efforts to join with others, to unite in action and grow in strength the numbers of us who are courageously committed to the liberation of all people from oppression, hate and violence. Together we can do this. May it be so.

Additional resources:


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Looking to Expand Your Network to Not Be So White?

“Because my network is diverse, white people often reach out to me asking me to connect them with people of color, because they want to diversify their organization, program, event, etc. While I am heartened by their desire for inclusivity, I hope to communicate that if they truly are sincere and want more than a superficial connection, they are embarking on a long term process, one that will require discomfort and deep work.” Keep reading this very informative article from Ami Worthen.

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And if you’re ready to take your diversity and social justice awareness to the next level, participate in a program with Desiree Adaway and Diversity is An Asset.

“We all lose when members of our communities are not seen and acknowledged.

We lose creativity, innovation, and contributions because of the personal and societal barriers that don’t allow all of us to fully participate.

Inclusion, equity and fairness matter.

The work starts with us waking up, arming ourselves with education, tools and relationships. It continues in our community building, our speaking out –all of our inward and outward commitments to justice made tangible. It requires us to take action, to become the fuel of societal change.

This work is too important for us to leave it to chance.

We invite you to join us on this journey.” ~Desiree Adaway

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