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“The First Ammendment is a little more important than Traffic”

You almost certainly heard about the Climate March last weekend in NYC.  It was a big colorful event.

PCMImage

And while this was important (because it was large – 400K participants, because it was diverse, because it was timely – just before the UN meeting on climate disruption – which did have some accomplishments of its own), it was not as important in my mind as the much smaller protest in NYC on the same issue the next day.

When is 3K > 400K ?  When you close Wall Street

When is 3K > 400K ? When you close Wall Street

Flood Wall Street tried to mimic some of the simplicity of Occupy Wall Street – wear blue and come prepared to stay.  And then a funny thing happened.  The NYC police did not come in and beat up and disperse these street blocking protests.  It could not have hurt that newly elected NYC mayor Bill De Blasio instructing the police to back off the protest.

NYC Mayor De Blasio, some US political hack and the Sec Gen of the UN

NYC Mayor De Blasio, some US political hack and the Sec Gen of the UN – Sept 21

When asked about his participation in the action which blocked the streets around the nations most critical financial district,. De Blasio somewhat amazingly said “I think the First Amendment is a little more important than traffic.”

If you know the NYPD, you know they hate unpermitted persons taking over the street.  They will generally quickly disperse and often attack any unpermitted march or action, if they can.

The police apparently were not excited by the mayor’s orders to not beat up the civil disobedience actions.  Perhaps change is possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Tiny Living like?

I like to ask people what surprises them about their recent experience.  Partly, this seems to illicit more thoughtful responses than “What did you like/dislike?”.  It also leads to assumption checking on the interviewee’s part.  Causing the reflection “What did i think was going to happen that did not?”

As seen from outside

As seen from outside

When i asked Emily May what she was surprised by when she moved into her tiny house in Eugene, she thought for quite a while.  “When i first lived here, i was staying with my best friend and it made me think ‘Perhaps this would be too small to live in with a partner'”.

Emily May and blogger in dorm folding chair.

Emily May and blogger in dorm folding chair.

But besides this her reviews were quite positive.  She praised the design, the functionality of the stove, the ability for a single person to have all the room the needed in this 7.5′ by 18′ footprint.

Regardless of it's beauty, is small the future?

Regardless of it’s beauty, is small the future?

She also talked about the power of cleaning.  Because the space is so small, it is quick to clean, and the effect is pervasive.  It kept her materialistic desires in check, since there are not many places to put things.  She had acquired a collection of various sized pillows which replace classical living room furniture.  Over all she was quite pleased with her tiny house experience.

But what is the Tiny House Movement about?  I stole this text from the blog TinyLife.com:

What are Tiny Houses? The Tiny House Movement? Tiny Living?

Simply put it is a social movement where people are downsizing the space that they live in. The typical American home is around 2600 square feet, while the typical small or tiny house is around 100-400 square feet. Tiny Houses come in all shapes, sizes and forms but they focus on smaller spaces and simplified living.

People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons are because of environmental concerns, financial concerns and seeking more time and freedom.  For most Americans 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; This translates to 15 years of working over your life time just to pay for it and because of it 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

TinyHouses-Infographic

 

 

 

 

 

Eliptigo – go go

Abigail has a new kind of bike.  And the fans are going wild.

Abigail and Eliptigo

Abigail and her mango Elliptigo

She reports that as she rides around Eugene, almost everywhere she goes people are excited and want to play .  “Take us with you” scream the teen girls on the track as she cruises by, College students call out “Nice Ride”, cars pull up next to her to inquire about the quality of the ride, and toddlers to octogenarians turn their heads and cheer their approval. The bike has universal appeal.

A funologist wobbles forward

A funologist wobbles forward

Of all the Elliptigo videos we watched the best one was French

The Best Job in the World?

i often tease Abigail when she is upset about her work that she has the best job in the world.  Certainly, if i were working for a paycheck, i would want to be doing what she does.  She is the Director of Experiential Education and Prevention Initiatives at University of Oregon.  I have written about the incredible work she does with peer education and interactive theatre working on sexual assault.  What i have not bragged about recently is the work she is doing on other issues of oppression with the Rehearsals for Life Project at U of O, which she founded and directs.

Using a combination of Theatre of the Oppressed, Playback Theatre and other forms of applied and interactive theatre, the troupe engages with audiences across campus about the subtle and less subtle nature of oppression in academia. They create scenarios and give people opportunities to intervene to change the outcome. The role play in the above video about the teaching assistant’s frustration with the student with a stutter is a perfect example of how conversations need to change to respect people and have a more fair world.

Try to tell me you are having more fun while you are changing the world

Try to tell me you are having more fun while you are changing the world

In addition to workshops, Rehearsals for Life addresses the dynamics of inequity and complexities of social justice through personal storytelling. In this video they partenred with NPR’s Michele Norris and her “Race Card Project“. The project, invites anyone to comment in six words about the state of race in America today. In this performance RfL performs from Norris’ collection of six word stories and includes longer pieces of the actors true personal stories.

http://media.uoregon.edu/channel/2013/11/26/the-race-card-project-theatrical-reading/

Abigail’s work with Rehearsals for Life and Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team (SWAT) is engaging and pulls the often dry and pedantic world of academia into the vibrant and memorable world of theatre. Not the stuffy theater of rehearsed lines, but the more immediate, reality based theatre of improvisation & personal narratives backed by a moral directive to make things better.

And this is fully 17% of why i love her.

 

 

 

 

 

A Mountain of Pillows

The Tarrytown NY spring craft fair is one of our best shows.  Hawina and i have been doing it for quite some years now and the commune does handsomely selling to affluent NYC suburban customers.  It is an extended family affair.  Willow comes with us, as does Corb and some years Angie and other years Feonix.  The Stars and Corb split to cost of the extra hotel room and food, so the commune is not paying for this giant entourage.

Willow and Evan in Time Square

Willow and Evan in Time Square

We decided to take a bit of a chance and try the fall craft show at Tarrytown.  This is risky because most people wont buy hammocks this late in the year.  On this trip we brought Evan from Twin Oaks with us.  We spent a day in NYC doing touristy things before the fair.  Time Square, Staten Island Ferry and based on Aurora’s suggestion the Society of Illustrators compelling Spectrum exhibit

"Morning Walk" from Spectrum Exhibition

“Morning Walk” from Spectrum Exhibition

Not far from the Society of Illustrators is my favorite part of Central Park.

Alice, Willow and Paxus in Central Park

Alice, Willow, Paxus and a neuro-atypical hatter in Central Park

When we are at the Tarrytown fair we stay at the Marriott hotel which has fancy elevators and is near to the fair site.    Like most hotels, the Marriott has room service.  In the first couple of hours we used it to get a refrigerator and fix the television.  From a young persons perspective, room service is like magic.  You pick up the phone, you describe a problem and shortly there after the right person comes to fix it and then politely vanishes.

The power of room service

The power of room service

Willow loves pillows.  And the hotel is pretty generous with them.  But none-the-less he called room service and asked them to bring 3 more for him.  Now he has 6.  Life is good.

[This post has been approved by Evan and Willow.]

PS We did acceptably well at the fair, about $5K total, we might come back next year.

The Dolphin Effect on Homelessness

One of the most surprising evolutionary tales for me was the one of dolphins.  Our best story tellers claim that cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) evolved from the seas into land mammals and then evolved back to aquatic based life.  This is either a tremendous re-adaptation to the changing climate of the seas or a fantastic U turn in habitat of preference.

sometimes it is best to beat a strategic retreat

sometimes it is best to beat a strategic retreat

Back in August we hung out with traveler kids in Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan. Point A folks helped a risk reduction outreach volunteer give out clean needles, anti-overdose medicine naloxone and clean socks.  And we heard stories.

The most striking stories were of this dolphin effect, how these kids (which is used as a diminutive, rather than some indication of age) came to their traveler lifestyle.  Usually some catastrophic event threw them into poverty, homelessness and addiction (typically alcohol, heroin or both).   After a while, pressure from outside friends, family and often they themselves got them to “clean up”.  They quit substance use and returned to a more conventional life style.  Working a straight job (some even doing outreach work with traveler kids) and living in a house or an apartment.

Then something funny happened.  They decided that they were happier as travels and living on little to nothing, but being with their friends and animals.  Now from a place of choice, rather than catastrophe they returned to this life style.

Rayenbo Acorn and Kat Traveler in Tompkins Square Park NYC

Rayenbo Acorn and Kat Traveler in Tompkins Square Park NYC

i have plans and fantasies about the traveling kids.  One of the interesting consciousnesses about this community (and it is deeply a community, where they share most of what they have with each other) is that housing is a burden.  If you have a house or flat you have to pay for it, and this generally requires a job.  So for most of the year the traveler kids are content to sleep outside, in parks when they can.  Under scaffolding when it is raining.  But in the winter, they continue the noble tradition of squatting.

My hope is we can continue working with them, introduce transparency tools to strengthen connections and hopefully learn about contemporary squatting from them.

The kid of comments i am uninterested in for this post is all the risks and warnings folks have about traveler kids.  i’ve heard them, thanks anyway.

Building Consent Culture Acorn

“… i will personally escort you off the property”  Belladonna is serious about consent. And if you don’t embrace how it is done at Acorn, your visit might be cut short.

She created this workshop (one of the very few visitor orientations) in response to a real need in community.  Perhaps one quarter of the visitors rejected for membership by Acorn over the last two years are due to failures to understand our consent culture.

Typically, these were not gross sexual assaults, but rather were mistakes by basically fine people who were not familiar with or paying attention to our culture.  Sometimes they were intoxicated, sometimes part of the problem is they come from a culture where people don’t ask others before they touch, sometimes guests misinterpret non-verbal signals,  sometimes they were fooled by parties where the consent rules appeared to be relaxed.

It looks simple, but there is a lot going on.

It looks simple at first, but there is a lot going on.

Don’t be fooled, the rules are never relaxed. The purpose of the workshop is to insure that the community is a safe place for members and guests alike and that these recent mistakes become a thing of the past.

While the topic is heavy, the form of the workshop is accessible.  Belladonna and Rejoice do short skits to demonstrate both problems and proper approaches.  There is more laughing than lecturing.

New concepts are introduced to many of the participants.  You can’t ask for Green Light Consent, it has to be offered.  Green Light means you have a prior agreement with someone about permissible physical or sexual interactions and it is delineated. “You can always hug me” someone offers.

clear messages - these might not work in the dark

clear messages – these might not work in the dark

 

A visitor asks about how shaking hands as an introduction fits into the culture, but then quickly figures out themselves that there is an effective non-verbal communication built into this ritual.  You would never grab a hand which was not offered back.

Sometimes failures are well meaning.  At the communities conference there was a blind participant who was occasionally asking for help in her process of mentally mapping the site.  A helpful person lightly turned her in the right direction, this was not what she wanted at all, because the “helpful” contact was not explicitly requested nor approved.

There is an introduction to toplessness.  Acorn tries to be a liberated zone and when it is hot, both men and women can choose to go without shirts.  This is novel to many visitors and rather than being surprised by it, this workshop both warns of it’s likelihood and encourages people to not stare nor presume there is a sexual message where there is not one.

And there is compassion for the stranger to our culture.  If you are uneasy conversing with someone who is topless, better to say something and take space than to act strangely pretending that nothing is wrong when you are uncomfortable.

i walk away from this gathering proud of us, knowing that this is the way things get better and we are building the place we want to live.

Careful language,

Careful language when understanding the state. Don’t consent to search.

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