kansas city ii

”the soul has greater need of the ideal than the real. it is by the real that we exist. it is by the idea that we live”

this qoute of victor hugo’s is on the outside of the the nelson atkins art museum. it has stuck with me all these years. as a kid i would walk around this museum and try to piece together what it is suppose to mean? is it in relation to the art collected, stolen, and displayed in it’s walls? is it reflecting the creative process? how we are to be effected or interact with art? why does it have to be seperated?

i’ve spent the last week wondering around the streets of this city that does have a hold on me, maybe the only city i would live in again if an option arose. the mid-town area that is.

it is this museum holds a special place deep inside of me. there is something sacred about walking these halls and grounds. i can remember coming here with my cousin, an amazing and talented creative human. when we were little his mom, my aunt, would take us here and let us roam. when we grew older, and i would roll into town for a visit, he and i would find a reason to ditch the fam and spend the day here. walk around with our own thoughts then meet down at the courtyard for some wine and catch-up. repeat until we felt ready to join the family again. usually winter, summer would be out on the grounds with a frisbee and byob.

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it took me awhile to realize the special space museums hold for me…and libraries too. the places where people are suppose to be quiet and not interrupt other people deep in thought…even white guys seem to understand this. wherever i am, i usually find the library and the museum and i walk. maybe sit for a bit. some have places one can even read or write. for me, it is like the solace of nature in the city. more than parks or city forests. there is no multi-tasking of jogging with your dog, or taking on the phone while getting in your daily step count. here, the multi-tasking is internal.

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the halls of this museum introduced me to cultures that stick with me to this day, like   story telling of asian art. i remember the first time i came up a staircase and ran into the huge golden buddha, and he wasn’t fat like the ones i grew up seeing at my grandparents’ house.

but it is the lawn here that hold most of my memories. though i adopted a vegan lifestyle in syracuse before moving back to the k.c. area, the lawn at this museum is where i went to my first community vegan potluck picnic thing. then later, across the street is a park where i went to my first rally against vivisection. there is a lab just right there that has been testing on animals for sooo long.

these led me to the peace/anti-war gatherings at the fountain at the plaza. these were organized by the people i had a more spiritual connection with…mostly buddhists and maybe some universalists, quakers even possibly? all kinds of people.

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i spent an extra week in kansas city, trying to figure out how i was going to get around the floods. i did take a few momments to explore and catch up with a couple friends. much has changed and stayed the same. k.c is a beautiful city with a mix of the old and new buildings with rich and complicated histories, much like myself. and i’m not sure how to say this piece that i enjoy about kansas city. but when i look around, i don’t just see white people, and that gives me great comfort (? not sure if that is the right word, but too many of us white folks makes me twitchy).

i got to drink some good beers at new brewries, some whiskey at new distilleries, coffee on rooftops with good views, a vegan donut at a vegan coffee shop, and i walked. with the exception of the bike infrastructure needing serious help, this city may fit me even more these days…maybe.

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Kansas City I

Going from cool brisk days to hot hot hot in just a quick moment is jarring. Also going from never really experiencing allergies to full on miserable is also disconcerting, however, none of that really matches realizing the first part of my adventure that I thought was pretty fool proof proved, well, foolish.

I kind of though making it to kc and then doing the Katy trail in late may, was going to be just fine, not like my idea of walking the Oregon coast in April. The Missouri River is experiencing flood stages it hasn’t seen in awhile. Lots of questions came up.

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Are they still going to have ped jam? Can we still bike there? Ok it is on, but how are we going to do this? Should we do this? Is it even going to be enjoyable?

The organizers of said ped jam did an amazing job of redoing the route and making good event spaces. The bands showed up, and so did the sun…and rain. Friday was a perfect let it flow kind of day. We left late which effected meeting some people we hoped to meet up with in Columbia (the jam was suppose to start in Columbia, but the spur trail is closed, so it got moved to rocheport. The timing left us with an hour of wtf do we do until we can check in…so we went to this little town that my friend had found some of his ancestors were from. We had hoped to bike through there and do some exploration, so when we saw the sign for it, we detoured.

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What is it about walking through cemeteries that can feel sooo hum connecting? I love reading the names and dates of people I have no known connection to.

We got to the kick-off party with a perfect amount of time to set up camp, get some beers and food at the food cart, then a friend met us at camp. Lovely conversations. Met the neighbors for the night, then celebrations were on. A giant bonfire. Music. Fire dancers. More music. Accro-yoga. More beers. Fireworks. More music. And no rain until the middle of the night.

 

In the motioning we packed up and gave our bags to people who transport them to Saturday night’s campsite. Got coffee. Watched allllll the other people start to show up. Listened to some music and then decided to head down to the next venue. We really wanted to see this band called the Barney sisters…so good! The are like 9 and 11 or something like that. (We got to meet their mom while they performed with the the Kay brothers later that night). There were a couple of bands here we wanted to see…and eat lunch. We knew we had somewhere around 10 miles to bike to the next venue where a band I really wanted to see would be playing so we headed out.

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This section was a mixture of road and Katy trail….so much flooding. The river truly looked like a ginormous lake in so many spots. It was certainly more than 10 miles, but it was such a nice ride…hot but nice. The organizers did a wonderful job at putting up signs without holding our hands. We had heard that the people running this had been out well past midnight on Thursday putting up sandbags to keep space accessible for us. I wonder how many times they must have routed and re-routed this course to make it work.

I really enjoyed the Katy roundhouse that is just a few miles from boonsville. Here I got to finally see velvet and the undercurrents live. So good. We stayed for some of the next person. They would be super great to see in a different venue with a sound person that had skill sets that worked better with their performance style.

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Rolling into boonville was exciting. The flooding was so unbelievable every time we crossed a high bridge to get a full view of the effects. Kemper park, where Saturday night’s festivities were held was perfect. We opted to camp along the right field foul line of a little pee-wee baseball field instead of up the hill. We gathered our gear and set up camp. Got oriented to where everything was or would be. Bathrooms. Water. Showers. Food. Beverages. Music. Fireworks. People we might know. And then we just sat and watched the park fill up with people. It was actually very interesting. So many different types of people from all over the Midwest. Their jersey’s or other apparel giving hints of their local bike clubs, breweries, or various landmarks.

Eventually we worked our way down to meet a friend, grab some food. Give phones to the solar charging station. And watch all the talent we were surrounded by. So much good music, the fireworks, those fire dances were using glow in the dark juggling pins and hoops to perform with this night…but we got tired…and I just don’t do well in crowds anymore, so we went back to camp and sat in our little camp chairs and listened to the last 2 bands…well the last one I listened to in my tent.

I have to say that the fireworks these 2 nights were perfect. The designs were on point…simple yet exciting. The boooms were not super explosively loud, just night pops. They lasted around 15 minutes, then we were back to music. I haven’t enjoyed fireworks this much in a very long time.

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We had another nice middle of the night rain. The morning was cooler and we took our time getting our stuff together and heading out. We indulged in some good coffee. Breakfast was a fail for the vegan me so I had some snacks that I brought along, but did engage in some good coffee and a dirty chai. We may have been one of the last ones out, but it was nice to not feel rushed and too watch the whole camp break down…also we got to thank some of the organizers that we were introduced to Friday night, and had watched just stay so calm and, well, organized over the weekend.

We did miss the first band that was playing at the Katy roundhouse Sunday, but we made it to rocheport in time to see most of the set of Dawson’s hollow while we had some lunch. It was just 2 miles into the end of the road…up a big climb or 2 and it was over. We got everything tossed into the car, changed into not so sweaty shirts. Had one last beer as we listened to part of the final band. Thanked more people. And pointed our way back to good old kc.

After seeing all the flooding, watching people actually try to bike into flood waters, and wonder what the trail must look like under the flood. Wonder how long the clean up will take. Be super thankful for all the work that must have gone into clearing the parts of the trail we could actually ride on (especially considering the condition of the flint hills trail I had rode earlier). Well, I was at a loss as to what the fuck am I going to do now?!

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We settled in. Hung up the wet and muddy gear. My friend went for a sleep over with his boyfriend. I started searching alternative routes. Should I just go west instead? Can I make it east at all. Tornadoes have been in every state around me, and just down the road from us. So what feels safe enough to go for and know that I can grab a hotel again if it gets super sketchy?

So I think I have a route sketched out. I will go a little south and then pick up the trans am route 76. I even found a winery were I will pick up 76 that is open to cyclists! What(?!) camp for free at a winery?! Yes please!

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First week

”you wanna join our revolution?”

no hesitation

no moment of waiting for some kind reason or expaination

i already had them in my mind as queer women of some kind

so fist in the air with a “hell yeah”

its been a horrific week, month, years for people who have the physical ability to give birth in this country and many of us are ready for a revolution. Many of us have been ready for years…for most of our lives.

As we talked, I realized my current life is a kind of revolution already.

In this first week I have already met so many people who are excited by what I am attempting to do. Sometimes they do not understand until I say, “life is too short to make someone else wealthy.” I get many a different form of affirmation. From fuck yeah, to a nod in agreement as if they had never thought of that.

so how has my first week gone? In 5 days I did a little over 190 miles, cussed Kansas over and over again. And fell in love with the flint hills over again. The first day of was just 27 miles and I landed in a campsite by a tiny lake (aka a reservoir) that is absolutely magical. I could see that the flood waters had come way up to where I was camping and had just recently receded. There were so many birds and turtles and fish jumping. Then with the moon overhead and the sunsetting…I just didn’t know where to look.

when I got back to my campsite to write and make a meal, this little girl came over to figure out what I am all about. She was so open and so confused: where was my camper? Am I a girl? Am I traveling alone? Why? What are you doing with that bike? I had met her great grandfather earlier who is actually tyring to help the mom raise 3 or 4 kids?! They were so kind and so open. Eventually she went back to get her dolls so that we could play with them.

at one point I got kind of nervous that some of the family dynamics where going to come out…they did, but not in the way I thought they would….thankfully! Mom is tired from working so much and doesn’t get to see the kids much. The great grandfather came over to make sure she wasn’t “bothering” me. When I pulled out my camera and said it was time for me to go for a walk and take some pics everyone left and there was an agreement to say goodbye in the morning.

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Why, why does it surprise me every time I am out that I meet more and more people, individuals and families, living in campsites? Everyday life is getting more challenging for folks. And I am not talking about keeping up with the jones or the jetsons. I’m talking about the basics of food and shelter. I don’t know what to do about this. Acknowledging is the step I can start with. And gosh…this 1st grader woke up next to a wonderful lake with a family member looking out for her, and is that so bad? I know kids with so very much more material positions, and not even close to this gift. Yet, I have been having flashbacks to the grapes of wrath.

as far as the flint hills trail, I want to rank it super low, except for the section between council groove and admire. That takes the traveler through an area that gives one a sample of the majesty of the flint hills, and the challenges that Europeans faced as they fled whatever travesties they were tyring to find solence in this land, while being part of the conquest. These are harsh conditions. Did they feel it was worth leaving “home” for? Was it a better life? Were they forced into it from punishment or persecution? How do people who are doing the same thing today, from other lands, and similar, feel about it? Is it worth it to them? Is it what they imagined? Are they finding security? A better life? A happy time? Is it worth leaving every fucking thing they know to come here? Don’t get me wrong, i’m not letting the conquest of the peoples of this land off the hook…just curious.

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these are the things I think of as I peddle into the wind, up hill, with a loaded bike. Free as I know to be. Am I giving up the fight, or am I digging in deeper? The more I refuse to give in to to capitlaistic nature, I do truly believe that the more I live out my life true to my believes the more benefit I have been to people trying to “come out” in any way shape or form.

so yes, revolution please!

Si se Puede!

 

and i am off

so long steamboat hello…adventure

so much has happened since i last wrote. i had good intentions of writing and updating, but i’d get home from work with just enough time to make some dinner, do a few exercises/stretch, do a little research, read, go to bed, repeat.

my days off i spent staring at the mountain, watching the snow melt and fall and melt and fall. it was a long grey winter in steamboat. my mood shifted a great deal to similar to how i felt living in the pnw. it took me a minute to figure out what was happening. once i did, i relaxed into self-care vs. self-doubt and loathing. aka took more vit-d!

anyway, let’s start with an update and laying the foundation of the adventure! yahooo! adventure times!

so i left the boat in great disarray that will continue for a little while. thank goodness for friends.

why i start these things in a season not compatible with adventures where i am currently living i just don’t know. so i rented a car and drove down to gunnison for a sneaky little journey to some of my favorite parts of colorado. my thought was to get down to lower elevation and higher temps. from here i could bike over to salida. meet some pals who will take me to wichita for fam time.

driving over monarch pass i began searching for other plans. of course the pass is long and steep, that i expected. but the hairiest part has no shoulder, still has snow, and where i would ride is full of the rocky traction crap they put down…no fun to breathe.

i rolled into my hostel, the wanderlust, and weighed my options. i found a bus that goes from gunnison to denver, rolling through salida. yes, please. i’ll take that option. the downside being it leaves at 6am, arriving in salida around 7:45 and i can’t check into my next hostel until 4. deal with that later.

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so i stay another day in sunny gunny! i ran up to crested butte and rode around one of my favorite towns, taking note of all the changes. and i had my very first impossible burger! i can’t believe this was my first. it was good, not great, but good. i drank good beer, i rode to bike shops that are coffee shops and beer stops. i blew off white dudes who wanted to talk over the women who were sharing their bike adventure stories. i actually watched this guy get all cry baby because a woman would not give him her car keys to drive to the grocery store. 

i love this area of colorado. its sunny. its dry with rivers. views of the big peaks…so many 14ers. it’s relaxed, not polished, working class, and people are active year round. plus, so much of my adventure history is here. my love fore solo camping, hiking, hiking with friends, climbing my first 14er, sharing these passions, heartbreak, grieving/processing deaths of loved ones, finding myself, losing myself, finding solace in the outdoors, learning how much i have to learn, finding out how strong i am and am not….

salida is where i feel like my adventure really started. i had just sat down at the closest coffee shop i could find to get my bearings and do some writing when an older couple (not much older than me actually) joined me and started chatting me up. they are from nebraska, the middle of where so much of the recent flooding happened. they talked about the actions their town took that limited the damages they experienced. but their friends were not so lucky. they said one of their friend’s ranches likely will not recover in his lifetime.

this couple and i could not be more opposite. but we had a very lovely conversation. we knew many of the same places in colorado. me from hiking/biking/wondering. them from hunting. they rarely get to leave their home because they take care of “people with disabilities”. i go and do what i want when i want (have enough money and/or pto). this trip they were on is a once in a decade get away. we had a lovely conversation, and they offered to cook me a steak and give me a place to stay if i ever pass through their town. i smiled and thanked them. i most likely will not cross nebraska and if i do it will be via the cowboy rail trail. 

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it was still early, so i rode down to the river park. salida is part of the arkansas river headwater area. going from one end to the other end of town in the early morning was lovely. i saw people driving by stopping when they saw a neighbor. i ran into deer grazing in people’s yards.  i was a dirtbag at ease. eventually, i leaned my bike against a tree and sat along the river to read a book…mostly i stared at the blue sky and green leaves budding out on the trees. damn, it felt good! it finally felt like spring!

i couldn’t get much cell phone reception, so i went to up the block to this cute little coffee shop. the person behind the counter asked about my rig and what i was up to. i explained friends by bike tour. they seemed happy about it. i made some phone calls and logistics related contacts then found a place to eat. after i finished eating, a woman who works there came up and asked me a few questions about my pack and what i was up to. more cool conversations and inquiry about the book i’m reading, and stuff. now, i finally feel like i am embarking on this adventure again. conversations about doing something out of the ordinary for many people. an opening for others’ to talk about what they have done or want to do or have planned to do.

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later that night i met another woman who recognized the book i’m reading, or at least the author and that led to a great conversation about climate chaos and well a very pleasant chat before the band started. after the show, my pals who are taking me to kansas, met up with me and our adventure started. it was great catching up and walking around. the next morning we met up early for hiking and outdoor fun. then we loaded up my stuff and headed to kansas.

and here i am for a couple weeks. as it happens, i arrived in time for my newphew’s graduation, another nephew is playing tennis, it is a buddy’s birthday, mother’s day, and much family will be gathering during this time. what a great way to kick of this leg of this adventure.

so what is my plan for this leg?

good question.

if you haven’t already figured it out, it is friends by bike tour. i was calling it friends by bike 2019, but really who knows when it will end, so friends by bike it is.

the starts off with, well new friends sent me off from steamboat. long time friends met me in salida, by a river (the arkansas) that flows into where we first met, wichita. here i will enjoy some time with friends and family and friends who are family. then i will head up to kansas city and pick up a pal who will ride the katy trail with me along the missouri river into st. louis. from there i will pick my way along to n.c. where i will catch up with some amazing people who i get to call friends. then up to philly where there are more people who i am fortunate enough to know after so so many years and we have remained close friends.

from there i have no idea what or where i will go. there are some things i want to do, some trails i want to ride and hopefully, people will join me along the way. my goal is to get to the west coast by mid to late august for an event and play with buddies. then maybe finally get to ride the sierra cascade route down and be in the desert by winter for adventures with even more friends and family. we’ll see what happens.

i’ve acquired some new cameras and other gear that i will share soon. i’m excited to find new ways to share what i’m up to with everyone. and at some point, i will share some of the amazing adventures i stole some time away to experience. probably as some kind of photo montage.

i hope to meet up with as many people as possible along the way, so if you want to join in, join along, go for a ride, or just say hi, let me know and we will find a way to put it on the “map”.

 

 

the apocalypse gives me hope

welp, this is my third, and final, attempt at this post. i started it in the spring as the snow was melting and revealing what people left behind to be covered up by the snow. mostly beer cans, bags of dog poo, lost socks, underwear (?!). it was also when i heard a new, to me, definition of apocalypse.

i listen to a great many podcasts at work…so many. one of my favorites is how to survive the end of the world. i wait with great anticipation for new episodes. being in this small mountain town with few people that i feel want to delve into these deeper conversations that i am hunger and thirsty for…that i crave…so i get that with these podcasts. they are all created by people of color; black folks to be specific, mostly all women, some identify as queer. this one, in particular, is by a couple of sisters, adrienne marree brown and autumn brown. the episodes are based around octavia butler’s writings and philosophies. not surprisingly, one of the sisters coedited the book octavia’s brood. if you haven’t held this gem of a book in your hands, i highly recommend it. it can be somewhat embarrassing to listen to this as i walk around town or at work as i’ve laughed out loud, cried, and scratched my head with each one. many i think of daily until the next episode pushes my thoughts deeper than the previous.

so apocalypse…the common understanding of an apocalypse refers to the end of the world, probably involving zombies. however, the origin goes back to latin, greek, old english, and old french. but the new to me meaning is what i want to dive deeper into. and that meaning is about the uncovering, to reveal. i, and many others that i have been reading and listening to, might translate these two meanings to say that maybe if we dare to try and give voice to the uncovering of history and stories to reveal what has been left out, we might finally be able to end this chaos of a mess. the result of imperialism, capitalism, too many power hungry that have drowned out the voices that we need to hear. the voices that perhaps, if we listened could cause such cognitive dissonance that we would have to stop this insane greed that gives way to the endless destruction of the planet….the climate apocalypse if you will.

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it is also what is happening with the #metoo movement and much of our society in general. perhaps things are not getting worse, as mainstream media/social media would like us to think and fear, but the atrocities are getting uncovered, revealed. the truth of just how widespread the injustices of our society is. this unraveling of the patriarch and capitalism, of the pains caused by the few to the many, well it gives me hope.

some are afraid of just what will be unleashed. i’m curious about what we will learn about the ancestors, our neighbors, and ourselves. maybe we will learn that all our social and economic theories are wrong….once again showing us that science is ever-changing as we learn new things that prove the old knowledge is wrong…more storytelling and more myth-making…true joy.

the part of this unveiling of another meaning to the apocalypse that truly excites me, however, is the uncovering of the voices that have been vailed, covered, drowned out. something that has bothered me since i started the dive into animal liberation and social justice is this ego-centered idea that “we” are the voice for the voiceless…buuuuuull-shit. i deeply believe that everything that is of this world has a voice and uses it. but the more narrowly we define what is voice, what is alive, what has value to whom, the less we are able to listen to anything not human…english only speaking humans are probably the worse. believing that if one is not speaking english they can not communicate. i have watched how my co-workers who speak spanish and very little english are treated by english only speaking”bosses”. to be clear, i speak very little spanish, however, i am learning how to listen to them to figure out what they need me to know.

i think, and the more that i think the more i believe it to be true, that we have forgotten how to listen to anyone but ourselves. we are so ego driven in the western world that we are incapable to hear anything else. animals and trees and rivers and plants and fish and birds and….all have a voice. if we didn’t believe this to be true, disney would be fucked. and we wouldn’t try so hard to learn to understand when our companion animals are requesting something from us and us from them.

the earth is constantly trying to communicate with us. it is currently fall, almost winter here, and i see the trees getting my attention with the daily shifts in color. the flowers with their scents, berries with their sweetness.

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but this voice for the voiceless myth has so greatly affected the voices of people. we’ve started to acknowledge this in our history books, creating special courses for women, people of color, black folks, queer folks. we are starting to realize that those who won the power dynamics tell the stories of even those they have been conquered. maybe people are starting to see this in other realms as well, like in movies and music. but white cis-male voices still dominate over all the other voices out there.

there are genres of writings out there that i didn’t think i liked until i read books written by women, black folks and people of color. i hated, and i mean hated, science fiction until i read octavia butler. she led me to le quin and then neil gaiman. but speculative fiction changed everything for me involving storytelling. then octavia’s brood came out and my mind/heart exploded with possibility.

so when i was at the whitefish bike retreat for the wtf bikexplorers and there was a bipoc panel FOR bipoc people not OF. this little shift in language is so key. i’ve organized and been a part of many organization’s panels of qpoc people but, let’s be real, they were for white folks, queer or not. this panel was moderated by a person who identified in the panel’s identity, and the q&a was FOR bipoc folks. of course, as soon as the q&a opened up, a white person tried to ask a question (the question usually heard at these events asked by good white folks “what can we do for you?”). the moderator was wonderful. she said you can shut up this is not FOR you…or something very similar. my heart burst open because so often i’ve seen such panels continue to serve white folks by answering their questions.

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there was only time for 2 questions, both were great and led to wonderful conversations, but the people who organized the questions and discussions with this group was amazing. the conversations went deep. there were tears and much laughter. then a much needed and requested dance party!

for me, this panel of amazing people was the exclamation point to a heart blowing weekend. i didn’t realize how hungry i had been, and am, for these conversations and work. i listen to podcasts and read books and articles, i listen to music, and take in as much visual art on these topics as i can, but without people to share and learn with, well maybe this is the source of isolation i feel at times. these voices, these forces of life is what i am wanting to experience over the noise of pop-culture.

so for me, the zombie apocalypse is already on. it is all the people wondering around addicted to their phones, scrolling through social media looking for connection and validation that they are doing the sheep thing. but the other apocalypse is also happening, maybe on the same devices. we can start amplifying the voices that are pushed to the edges; raise their cultural dB sort of speak. put down the phone and listen to the water and trees. have a solid conversation with your cat…maybe she’ll stop pissing on your shoes.

my advice to those who ask, “what can we do to support you” google the shit out of those same people. read them, listen to the music, invest in their commerce, be a patron. because the answers are out there, we just have to be silent enough to listen. i, unfortunately, talked way too much at this event. i was so hungry for real talk that in my excitement, i forgot to shut the fuck up. i am searching for ways to apologize for that, maybe this post is a way to start until next time when i can practice active listening.

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so my personal action for increasing the momentum of the apocalypse is to amplify as many voices as i can. to share the amazing wonderfully inspiring work of people i am learning from. to stand BEHIND them as they lead the way and step in front when it is time to deflect the hatred and violence away from them…to use my whiteness as a kind of shield when wanted.

there is so much i’ve cut out of this post. so many ways that i believe that the apocalypse can help us find our way. i believe that we can all start by asking who is missing from our communities, conversations, view…how can we (re)build relationships. how many different ways are there to listen, speak, give voice to…what happens when we embrace the apocalypse to facilitate understanding, empathy, curiosity, and understanding.

so i will do my best to listen more and to sharing the voices that are being silenced, covered up and overpowered. to start here is a small list of podcasts i listen to on the regular…that are not white, cishet males. it’s a start.

2 dope queens

sooo many white guys

snap judgment

nancy

we live here

 

apocalypse

vaca bound after a little rally for the public lands.

today starts my summer vacation and i am so flipped-out excited i can hardly stand it, but also trying to stay deep in the moment because, well, i live in a vacation destination town so it is kind of like i am always on vacation except for those pesky 40 hours each week i work.

the other thing that helps me stay in the moment is my sister and her family just came for a visit! it was so nice to host them for a few days and get time with the kids who are not kids anymore but growing into wonderful humans. to say i live a little different from them is an understatement so to share my life and ideas is fantastic, mostly because they listen and ask questions. it has been a summer of visitors. a benifit to living more to the middle of the country.

this is why is was a difficult decision for me to steal myself away for an hour while they were here. that asswhip of an excuse of a secretary of the interior, ryan zinke was in town so there was a little rally to show support for public lands, or more fitting, against his and trump’s policies to desecrate what is left of these sacred places. i gave up going to rallies and protests and such a few years ago out of frustration and just disgusted by the digression of solid ethics. it reminded me of going to church when i was a kid. living in a small town, i would listen to what people took in on sundays, and then witnessed their behavior the rest of the week. really? so listening to people talk about the actions needed to “save” this planet, the trees, the water, the air, etc. then i see them using single-use everything or continuing the participation in the mayhem. so to save my nerves i stopped going. you may be asking why not get involved in the organizing….see above.

so i decided to go to this one. there aren’t as many chances in this little town to make some noise while a major political (i.e. corporate) figure is in town. so what the hell, i show up for this one. about 1/2 of the county here is public lands. the whole state of kansas has less than 1% of public land. the entire ski industry is built on the back of public land, as is most of the off-road cycling (motor or burrito powered).

wondering around the people tabling at the rally was interesting. i ran into people i have seen at other events in town, mostly at the library. i found out there is a wild horse sanctuary about 100 miles from here and learned about the renewed attack on wild horses. i learned more and more people want renewable energy sources, but they don’t want to cut back on energy usage. i met the woman running for sheriff and her platform to bring empathy training and diversity training to the police force and county officers. she was a whistleblower on sexual assault in the department. then i got to have a chat with a journalist from the high country news. then eventually the rally started.

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it opened with a poet from the dinè tribe, layla june. she gave an amazing talk and opening prayer, reminding us who’s land we were actually on, ute, known as parianuche or nuche people as they refer to themselves. i was moved to tears from her words and her passions.

then the person leading the rally got the crowd to start chanting “our land” and my heart sank. here was a large crowd, estimated at 1400 people, in a town with a population of 12,000. the vast majority of the crowd was white shouting “our land” and i couldn’t believe it. sure it is an easy chant it gets people riled up…don’t take our land say the colonizers and settlers. but it isn’t our land. sure it is public land, supposed to be protected from corporate pillaging, but it is not our land. it has never been our land, just as a stolen object never belongs to the thief. and here my internal dialogue fuse was lite.

the next speaker was a county commissioner, an older white guy. a pretty good talk based around the love of growing up backpacking and being outside,  i only cringed a few times. another white guy talked about being an entrepreneur that depends on public lands for people to buy/rent/use his gear to go on public lands to recreate. more money talk. then a rancher talked about land usage and care (the fuse burned a little faster and brighter). but i have to say i resonated with his world more than the other white men or women who spoke.

he started with a story about coming into town with his younger son who asked what he was doing this afternoon. when he responded with giving a talk about the land, the kid asked that if he gave a bad talk would they take their land away?  well, son, its not really our land anyway. it is mother earth’s. then he went on about how deeply the family knows the land. how he repairs daily the fences broken due to cattle and moose interactions that he also gets to witness. i’ve heard and seen him talk before about water and land usage. i like this guy, this reluctant public speaker.

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that was followed by a female olympian who gave a great talk about the need for public lands for people to ski, hike, backpack, walk…for mental and physical health. then came the speaker that sent me home, a ceo for an outdoor industry. she brought all the numbers. sure it is important for people to know that the outdoor industry creates more jobs and revenue than does oil/gas/coal/timber industries combined. these jobs have more benefits, better pay, typically safer than the other industries. but there are people behind those numbers. there is so much more to these issues than numbers. i just started feeling sick over all this so i left before the fuse came to the end and i exploded in public.

the next speaker was a state rep who i have seen speak before at a pow (protect our winters) gathering. then lyla june was to come back up to talk about indigenous rights. i really wanted to hear what she had to say, but i just couldn’t. all those white people had gone way over their time and my emotional time limit that i allowed myself was expiring. however, as i was leaving i ran into lyla june and got to talk with her for a minute and thank her for making the journey up here.

so why am i even mentioning or writing about this?

i would like us to be more intentional with our words and what we are doing when we stand up for anything besides ourselves. this land is not “our” land. this land has never belonged to “us”. if we truly want to protect this sacred land (as was used often) we should return it to the people of this land, the indigenous people of this continent. this could be the start of actual reparations for the theft of place, culture, people… i would gladly pay the fees to recreate on the land of the people who truly know how to live collectively with the land.

but also, picking certain places for protection from capitalistic extraction or abuse…like saying its ok to pollute and pillage from here, but not here. it is this valuing of one over another that also bothers me. people don’t think kansas, or much of the midwest is beautiful because they have never gotten to experience the majesty of tall-grass prairie in bloom at sunrise. pretty much all of it has been tilled under to grow food, mostly food for livestock…or fuel. why? because the way the prairies created such rich and fertile soil that is now depleted due to overuse.

i just finished reading this book called overstory by richard powers. it is a story where the main characters are just regular people who had extraordinary situations bring out the activists in them in one way or another. and by deeply interacting with the natural world, they begin to hear the trees who never stopped speaking, we just stopped listening to them. he writes of scientific books that i wish were written, and people i feel i know.

he shares a glimpse of the greek story by ovid based on the word xenia or guest-friendship, to take care of traveling strangers. it is the story a couple with limited resource, baucis and philemon, who took in 2 strangers who turned out to be gods. baucis and philemon were turned into an oak and a linden upon their joined deaths as a reward from the gods.

“huge and gracious and intertwined. what we care for, we will grow to resemble. and what we resemble will hold us, when we are us no longer….”

I finished this book just before i started this post. the end brought me to tears. tears of recognition for people who want to do what is right by the non-human life on this planet. but i believe that the deeper wisdom here in the story, as well as from the rally, is that we can fight all we want to save the trees, the rivers, all water, for clean air and food. to save wild horses and dolphins and whales and sea turtles….we can try to fight for laws to protect all that. we can fight corporations to stop polluting and contributing to climate change and feeding the disasters that are killing everything they touch.

or

we can take deeper looks into ourselves

we take the time to get still and quiet and listen

i think we need to take those frightening deep meditative looks inward. to make those changes within ourselves to point inward instead of outward. and perhaps, when we see the work we need to do with ourselves, we can collectively find more common ground.

but fighting? fighting leads to more fighting. listening leads to more understanding. some say we don’t have the time to listen. i don’t know. fighting doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere.

don’t get me wrong, there are times and moments to stand up and fight in our protections, but not over possession and ownership.

i was once, many years ago, sitting and meditating in an amazing sacred area in arizona. an outcropping along a somewhat popular trail. there is a definitive feminine and masculine side to this section. i had touched the masculine side first. it was full of grief and sorrow and pain. a belief that they had failed to protect the women and children/land and water.

when i got to the feminine side, the place that the women gathered, i was in tears and full of pain and sorrow myself. as i meditated i asked what i could do to save them to protect…blah blah blah i was still full of white savior ego. they laughed at me and then gave me a long lecture that boiled down to: the earth will survive, you will not, humans will not. unless there is a massive shift and change among the whole population. as soon as humans are gone the planet will begin to regenerate once again, as it has over the ages. humans may or may not be part of that regeneration. it is up to us.

i know i have a great many changes to make in me. i don’t know where to start, to be honest. i often feel out of balance and off-kilter. but i do know that the more i sit quietly in nature, the more i am playful with nature, the more i regain my equilibrium. the more clear my answers become.

i don’t think i can fight the opposition with outrage, or statistics, or prodding confrontation. but maybe with understanding. with conversations. with deepening my empathy for those who i do not understand. listening and sharing stories…

ahhh i don’t know. but i do believe that the more those who are trying to profit off of our rage, pitting one another against the other, the more they keep us occupied with the distractions that they create, the more lost we all become. the further we move from our objectives.

so how do we take to the streets to show our opposition without turning upon one another?

how do we stay focused and on point when they throw flash bombs and pepper bombs at us.

when corporations are feeding the police state so that the disparaged turn against their neighbors?

how do we step outside all this for just a moment to see a different path

how do we stop and hear the pain under all the rage? for in the precepts we learn that pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

so i am off to go get lost in the woods for a little while. i am very excited about this particular trip for many reasons that should unfold as i explore places, land, water i have never ventured before and research for my next leg of this journey.

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borders and boundries

i have been so super grumpy these past couple weeks. grumpy like answering questions with grunts and silent head shakes. i’d like to say i don’t know why. maybe it is the moon, eclipse. but the world is on fire, again, or maybe still. each time there is another fire or shooting or idiotic political ruler says/does something stupid and people continue to act surprised. then a 3d printer gun….naw i have no idea why i’ve been grumpy.

then i started reading the book overstory by richard powers and the connections started gathering forces inside me.

i’ve been thinking a great deal lately about borders and boundaries, i kind of always have. as a kid, i use to wonder how water, rain, streams, ocean, birds, fish, bears, dear…knew when they crossed over to another state, country. but then i read about the bison massacres when they roam outside the national parks looking for food…migration doesn’t give a flip about borders or boundaries, but meat farmers don’t like competition for grazing on blm land….

then one day i saw a map of the united states without any state lines or national borders drawn on it or even time zone changes for that matter. that map looked so free to me, so wide open. it looked like such a wonderful place to explore and move about. but to be honest, it is not the imaginary lines that bother me, it is the internal struggles that crossing over into another state can have on my psyche. and this is what leads me to think that all these imaginary lines and borders and boundaries are not meant to provide a safe area for people, but to create a state of fear and thereby control people on one side and a false sense of security on the other.

as a queer woman, i use to get really nervous and anxious if i needed to drive through mississippi, lousianna, alabama on my way to florida to see my grandma. i would get in and out of the gas stations as fast as possible with as limited interaction with other humans…especially white men. later i reflected that at least in the “south” i knew how people felt about me. in the liberal “north” of pc country, it was said behind my back and supported by legislature and propaganda…aka a false sense of security.

but last week i went through the rocky mountain national park and my thoughts bubbled up again, mostly because of what people in the united(?) states are doing to people, refugees, from the global south. i see and hear the fear in the voices of my co-workers who have their “papers” but are afraid to visit family for fear of well so much fear. and i actually hear the arguments of people born and raised here that their family came over legally. really? reeeally? who stamped their papers? crazy horse? geronimo? chief joseph?

this resurrection of this particular fear is happening at a time when farm workers and domestic servants (damn what a horrible word) have been organizing and gaining momentum in their demands for fair wages and treatment for themselves and their children, especially farm workers. if you do not think these issues are connected, you are forgetting history: ceasar chavez, the bracaro project, the Immokalee workers

anyway, approaching the boundaries and entry gate to the rmnp stirred up these old feelings, but really what i want to know is why. why all these boundaries and borders? i believe deeply, that it is to keep people in and not talk to others. to keep the manipulation alive and well. to keep people in fear and control.

what i have noticed is that every time the global north enforces their boundaries, it intensifies the need for people to assert their individual bounderies and identities, which then reinforces the us/them fear and defensiveness.

margaret thatcher is known for saying “there is no society, there are only individuals”. this individualism fuels some of what is keeping us from making the changes we most need to make in this world, from climate change to foreign policy. it has fueled the fire of identity politics in an unhealthy way and i have been trying to figure out how we have gotten in our own ways soooofuckingmuch. so here is my theory.

identity politics is important. as gloria anzandula taught so many years ago at an international queer studies conference in iowa, to imagine one’s self as a tree and all our identities, all the parts of us that make us unique are our roots. if we don’t know all the different roots, and accept them and integrate them into ourselves as a whole, when the cultural winds come by, we will be knocked over. i’m not sure that anzandula knew about the intricate network of communication that the root systems of trees in a healthy forest provide all beings in a forest. the network of communication, of shared resources, of protection, for all, and that is all before they become nurse logs.  if she had, well this analogy gets even stronger. a whole intact forest stands together in all its colors and shapes from the microscopic to the giant trees. yet, as lone individual trees, without interconnected root systems, we topple in one fell swoop, taking out our neighbors.

so what troubles me is that the more we identify with OUR individual identities, the more we isolate ourselves and others. the more we get offended when someone steps on our individual toes. and then more fear is fueled and the more isolated we all become. on top of it, we kind of refuse to be uncomfortable. we are told that these boundaries and identities will keep us safe. but i believe we need discomfort on some levels to push our limits, to go past these boundaries and commune with others not like us, to learn what the other side of the line needs so that we can all do this together. and perhaps grow over the lines and past the barriers. but western capitalism is what fuels the walls. it tells us that we can relieve any discomfort with a pill or a game or a new device. it keeps us in the cycle that makes reading howard zinne so frustrating, and important…and we are at it again. and we are more alienated and isolated no matter our number of social media friends we have.

capitalism”s magic bullet, if you will: naming. we love to name things. if we have named it, we know how we are supposed to feel about something or act towards it, and this includes gender pronouns. (doubt this? talk to someone who has been both he and she at some point in their lives, or someone who is intersex, someone who is willing to talk about the differences in their treatment based on perceived gender and self-identification…this is a life/death situation often). but if we “named” based on relationship instead of ownership, well that is different. a mountain “named” based on a cosmology of a creation myth will be treated differently than one named by conquest and ownership. the responsibility we feel for a place or person changes if we see it as sacred and part of all of who we are.

and that is the crux, right? maybe? that by creating these name/labeled boundaries and borders, we mark off ownership of areas and control of those areas and all that happens to be there: animals, water, minerals…people. but if things are “named” based on relationship, that is a whole new level of freedom and movement….and responsibility.  you can’t control, manipulate, mine, and harvest what you do not own in one way or another. however, you are responsible for all that you hold some relationship to, and that is everything in this word: food, water, air, what you use for shelter, clothing, one another.

what if we were able to drop just a little of this border-mindset? what if we saw the people that were coming across the border for what they are: people. people who are in danger due to the violations and unequal trade/economic situations that “we” created. that turned these families into refugees, not immigrants. no one really and truly wants to leave their “home” for the unknown…to a country that is openly hostile and violent to one’s culture and people. no one wants to do this. and we as mobile amaricans don’t understand this. i’ve actually had arguments with (former) friends of mine on this issue. when your family has lived in a certain place for so so many generations leaving is not going to be your first choice. people and places we have denied our relationship to are in danger, and this is how we treat them? back to the tree/forest analogy, our survivals are interdependent.

so i ask, “what is more important? what someone’s label is or how they participate in community.”

i know my stance. and i believe that the only way we will survive as a species is if we return to relationship-based communities instead of isolationalist/nationalist idealism.

we need to make a choice, as a species. i have no doubt this world will continue, but most likely, without humans. unless we can make some changes really fast. and these will have to be internal, non-governmental. we can’t wait for the “leaders” to make the changes. we will be uncomfortable for a little while, but eventually, more quickly than we might think, we will find actual joy and happiness at leaving so much misery for so many behind us.

i know that this sounds a lot like preaching and pointing fingers, and it is. mostly at myself for sure. we all have a great deal to unlearn and re-educate ourselves. before we end up like this:

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this week, 2 years ago, i would have probably given up hope for the humans, but talking to strangers…making connections with people i have no reason to except that we are sitting next to one another on the bus, bar stool, bike ride, campsite, sandy beach, at the wall, in line at the border…we all have stories to share if we are willing to listen…but like i said, its just a little theory i’m working on.

 

my first spring

today i reached for my bike to find it covered in more pine pollen than dirt and dust. spring has truly set in here in this little mountain town. in fact, the other day as i looked out a window while working, trying to watch a storm roll through, i saw a huge swarm of pollen blow out of a tree and across the hillside. first, i smiled so big, then i sneezed so hard i missed the crash of thunder.

this has all given me pause to once again reflect on a shifting seasonal experience. in portland, i marked the changing seasons by food. first was the arrival of nettles and other bitter greens, strawberries, then the explosion of all the fruits and veggies i adore from berries, ripe tomatoes, stone fruits, and all the greens all the time. not here. here the farmers market doesn’t even start until sometime in june.

here spring has been more subtle. for me, it started with the sun hitting my balcony (that faces east) earlier and earlier. until i could be out there at 7:30 am, it being 40 degrees and with the sun shining, i could have my morning tea and reading session in shorts and a hoodie. here is where i noticed that winter was moving, giving into a new season. the animals started moving through: moose, fox, cranes, the chipmunks came out, and so many birds.

and the sounds. oh how i have loved to hear the changes of the sounds. from the constant drip of snow changing shape and molecular structure to the bird songs, the sound of thunderstorms moving in and hearing the rain on the leaves, and the leaves. oh the shimmering of aspen leaves is like no other sound. the roar of the river as it rises and the quiet as mud season slows the town down.

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then i noticed that the snow was receding from the mountain. and there was a lime green taking over from the brown-the aspens were leafing out. there were mornings that i swear that i literally saw the tree right next to my place fill out minute by minute. then all the other trees followed with buds of pink and white and fresh branches on the willows and spruce trees. and the cottonwoods started blowing their white cluster making it look like fluffy cotton like snow covering everything.

then there was the river and the snowmelt. first, it was noticing that there wasn’t any snow or ice left in the yampa river. then the river started rising and flowing faster and faster. the waterfowl changed. more ducks and more cranes, and more kayakers. not so many anglers. the smell of sulphur decreased maybe from the increase of snow melt? its’ still there, just not as strong. maybe i’m getting more used to it?

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a couple weeks ago it was announced that the river had reached it’s peak already for the season. when i rode by a couple days ago i noticed that the water line on the banks of the river had shifted dramatically already.

it all left me feeling like this was really and truly the first spring that i actually witnessed; took notice of in so many ways on such a constant basis. the colors, the temperature, precipitation, animals, water, and more relaxed people (but i think the relaxed people might be more due to mud season and lack of tourists).

i have some theories about noticing spring more.

i have so many fewer distractions. sure in other places i still biked and walked most everywhere i went, but there was so much more traffic, cop cars, sirens, noises, lights, noises…so many noises and bright lights. people in a hurry.  so much stimulus. i use to walk around with buds in my ears to drown out the sound of traffic and nonsense. here i only earbud when i am at work and listen to podcasts. the cluster of podcasts i listen to have become a strange kind of community, but that is a different story.

how much goes unnoticed by us in cities as we pay attention to other changes, like the closing of our favorite restaurant or the tearing down of a house for condos?

sure cities can be a great place for all kinds of reasons, but i wonder what we might miss in these places of over stimulation and isolation. i don’t know that i can go back to that kind of existence. i have a different kind of isolation here for sure, but its not the same as being surrounded by a huge population and feeling like fewer and fewer people, outwardly, gives a fuck about what is happening in their neighborhood. i know it varies city by city, but only by degrees.

i’ve been thinking about this and e.o. wilson’s half earth. i don’t think that is a world i would want to live in, but i need to think about it some more. more people in cities, i don’t think is a very good answer. half of the earth as wild spaces, now that is something i can support, but not in that segregated kind of way….but i digress get again.

each day i wake up and look forward to the shifting that will take places as we continue to move through the seasonal cycles. i can’t imagine just how much more of my little mountain, out my back door, will be even more green. what trees are going to pop out next with color and leaves? what are the next animals to move through the valley? how much quieter can i make my mind in order to pay even more attention? when can i roll into town and jump in a tube and float the day away?

by the way, i call it my little mountain not because i seek some kind of ownership over it, but because it has claimed me in some way. as has the river and all the creeks and streams i meet.

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i love this pace of life that as adopted me. is it location? is it age? is it removing myself from the race that capitalism forces on us? or am i simply content? its all rolled up together i am sure.

i am having to quail my excitement for fall and the aspens changing colors. i am already thinking about it in anticipation. in good time for first there is more spring.

and

summer!

just another day to give a shit

i’m not really a fan of days that take one day to celebrate what we should probably be celebrating every day…like earthy day, mother’s day, valentine’s day….all these are things we should be caring for and nurturing every day, and as i say that today is earth day and it gives me a reason to piece together some thoughts i’ve had about the earth and climate change, our roles and responsibilities and just thoughts from readings and events i’ve gone to.

i don’t think there is any one way to address climate action except the one you can most relate to. so here in colorado ski country, there is a group called pow (protect our winters). its made up of winter sports athletes and lovers of all things snow. pow came to my little mt town a couple weeks ago with two local siblings that are also olympians. i’ve never really gotten into the pow group, but I went to the event because how can i critique if i don’t participate?

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maybe i should back up just a little bit. i experienced many indications of climate change this past year from snow levels and gorging streams to high temperatures and wildfires and rising sea levels (literally watching the ocean crash onto the shores that are underneath houses in malibu and billions of acres (essentially a whole mountain) that slide into the ocean. and before I left portland, I went to a place called valley of the giants. it is an amazing old growth forest between the oregon coast and salem. to get there one has to drive, following very exact directions, through clearcuts. it was heartbreaking enough to go through this on the way in, even worse on the way out…i should probably do a separate post on this adventure.

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so when i landed in a town where i could join a library and check out some books, i got “the global warming reader” edited by bill mckibbens and “how bad are bananas: the carbon footprint of everything”. i also ordered, “drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming” edited by paul hawken. i’ve also picked up other books and articles by indigenous youth and groups. p.s. the indigenous actions, words, songs, and dance is where i find the most inspiration, but hard to put into words. they conger up more feeling and sense of integrated responsibility…the way life should be.

so anyway, in “the reader” is a piece by yan jones and ariane conrad from “green colar economy” and in this section they talk about having “fewer targets and more partners” from the assumption of activist that change requires a big battle with someone when we could be actually turning those supposed targets into long-term partners for change…moving beyond assumptions and stereotypes which requires investing in relationship and trust building.

“Here’s the truth. If you rush into a situation looking for enemies, you will find plenty. At the same time, if you go into a situation trying to find friends and allies, you will almost always find at least one.”

Another quote is “less accusations and more confession…some of the enemies we need to defeat are inside us.”

Participation in an economy that lacks equity and we each have an understandable aversion to giving up our own money or status…so every day, we end up feeding the very monster we are fighting. “If we confess our own struggles to realign our own lives and change our own behavior, we may seem less alien to those we are trying to convince.”

another saying they have that i cling to is, “The cleanest energy is the energy we never have to use.”

that deserves repeating “the cleanest energy is the energy we never have to use.”

with all this im mind, i tried to go into this gathering/presentation with these thoughts in mind. but i just find myself getting frustrated with the whole change your lightbulbs and carry a water bottle kind of argument. sure those are important changes, but it seems like we, as proponents of change are afraid of offending people. and i get it. i am afraid of alienating people that i want to share what i’ve learned and learn from them. i don’t want to shut them out of a conversation that i want to grow and co-create with others’ and so much of that has to do with consumption which is somehow deeply linked to patriotism. most vegans from the mid-west can relate, as much of the economy is based in big animal agriculture. the other side of the same coin is upsetting people in their long-term deeply held beliefs in their entitlement to consume what they want when they want, from new iPhones to a bloody steak or asparagus in January, or vegans and palm oil obsession. but how are we going to change anything if we are unwilling to become uncomfortable? addressing all these issues is uncomfortable for all of us as we dig deeper and uncover and unlearn. so to say i was highly disappointed in the presentation is true. i don’t know what i want to be told, but we can do better than the gentle “call your legislators.” as if that is where deep change truly happens.

one of the most recent events i went to at the library was a film on wendall berry and his farming experience in kentucky. it is a nice film pitting the small family farmer and big ag (and our government) against one another, and this is indeed what happened when the secretary of agriculture decided that profits needed to be a big portion of the countries farming status. it turned farming upside-down. it killed small farms and small farm towns. it paved the way for mega-corporations from Walmart to General Mills to dictate what and how farmers should farm.(and what we get to eat). it took away centuries of practices that made farming an art form that could sustain a family to monocrops that destroy so many systems. the film ended with one family farmer getting tired of making Phillip Morris more money while his family went deeper into debt (that area of the country including berry’s farm was mostly tobacco) and he did some research and put a call out into the local paper asking if he, as a farmer, would find any support if he switched to an organic produce farm…overwhelming support ended up in creating an early version of a csa. a few years later one of his members gave him a book by wendall that affirmed what he wanted to do with farming.

what am I getting at?

we don’t have to become radical activists to find our way in reversing climate change. we just need to find the thing in nature that drives our passions: snow peaked mountains? the deep blue ocean? fresh foods that nourish our bodies and feed our spirit? access to clean water and fresh air? the ability to move our bodies and minds? a deep love for the land, newly found or ancestral? love of animals and living a life of compassion and empathy for all who share this earth. sharing a good meal and craft beverages with our friends new and old…and find out what we can do to support those parts of nature as well as what we are doing that is causing harm to those systems.

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some interesting info from the carbon book….books are better then e-readers and if you go to the library or get used books…even better…according to the book on the carbon footprint of everything.

a bike commute fueled by a cheeseburger is the same as driving, but a vegan fueled bike ride makes a difference…but I guess if you are going to eat a cheeseburger and your choice is go by hummer or bike, a bike is better, but really we need to look at bigger pictures and systems. its all about the options you are faced with on the regular that we need to examine. those good old fashion if / then statements.

if you have questions about what how things will truly make a difference, i highly recommend the drawdown book. i initially read it on my ipod as an ebook from the library when i was in ashland, but I felt like i was missing something reading it this way because it is also a beautiful book! the pictures are amazing. the data is so detailed and each proposed solution has its ranking in its effect in reversing global warming, it also has how many gigaton of CO2 will be reduced, but includes the cost and net savings. top 10 solutions: item, the sector it is in, reduction in CO2 emissions, cost, savings

1. refrigeration, materials, reduction of 89.74 gt, cost n/a, savings -$902.77 billion

2. wind turbines (onshore) energy, 84.60 gt, $1,225.36 bill, savings $7,425 billions

3 reduced food waste food, 70.53 gt,  cost n/a, savings n/a

4. plant-rich diet, food, 66.11 gt,  cost n/a, savings n/a

5 tropical forests, land use, 61.23 gt, cost n/a, savings n/a

6. educating girls, women and girls, 59.6 gt, cost n/a, savings n/a

7. family planning, women and girls, 59.60 gt,  cost and savings n/a

8. solar farms, energy, 36.9 gt, -$80. 6 billion cost, savings $5,023.84 savings

9. silvopasture food 31.19 gt, $41.59 billion, $699.27 savings

10. rooftop solar energy, 24.6 gt, $453.14 billion, $3457.63 billion savings

all this is to say, i don’t need pow or any other organization to tell me what i need to do to stop inflicting pain on the planet. i only need to look at my own behaviors and contributions and choices on the regular. i will keep educating myself on how to further reduce my levels of consumption, to build skills and relationships to keep from having to buy new unless necessary (like toothbrushes). to slow down my life to re-examine all the assumptions i’m told about what is wealth and what is abundance and success. and i do truly believe that to live a life in the present and to be fully present in those moments is what it means to be deeply alive and to be free. and that is a life of adventure.

a year ago

wow! has it really been a year since i, literally, walked away from my life in portland? it seems like i’ve lived a couple lives since then. i’m going to try and summarize what i’ve gone through and where i think i have set my compass bearings…but who am i kidding, i carry a compass, but use the direction the wind takes me more than my compass.

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so a year ago i was getting soaked through and through on the oregon coast trail. a trail i don’t really recommend doing in its entirety. sure it has some of the most amazing views on the pacific coast. however…there is so much road walking, which sure shuttles can take you around, so it’s not too bad. if you are wanting to do it, do it for sure, but do it in the full-on summer time. let the spring storms pass. have a way to know the tides. be prepared for sandblasting your skin (and tent in the middle of the night), and being amazed at every moment you remember to look up and pay attention.

when i got to the oregon/cali border, i ran out of walking ideas. well, i had ideas, but water levels and snow levels were beyond my skill set. years and years of low winter snow levels meant that a “normal” year felt high. maybe this is why so many people the past several years have taken on the pct. if one was willing to push beyond some levels of pain and discomfort, mostly mental, one could persevere without a huge skill set, but not this year.

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so i did what i do when i don’t know what else to do, i got a job. i went inland to explore a town and area i had never been to. i sat at the chetco brewery and booked a shuttle to ashland, lived at a hostel while i looked both for a place to live and a place to work. (p.s. this is actually pretty common. when i i stayed in any hostel from slo (san luise obispo) to tijuana, there were people living at the hostel looking for housing.) i quickly found both and settled in. my pals would come into town and take me out for swimming adventures at rivers and lakes. we went to experience the eclipse. i had a wonderful summer.

my mom came out to visit. and then we visited my grandpa’s sister and i loaded up a bike and headed south once again. i have to say, this lady, ellen, is a spark. her and my grandfather were best pals. i can remember her and her husband carl visiting when i was a kid. in my child’s memory i don’t remember what muscular disease he had, i just remember her pushing him around in a big wheelchair. i remember whatever was happening, she pushed him, she smiled, she laughed like there was no issue, no problem, no inconvenience. it was just what was. she still lives in the house that she raised her kids in. she lives alone. she knows her neighbors and they assist her with whatever she asks for. she….she…well she amazes me. not with the grand and great actions, but like my grandparents, the simple enjoyments of everyday life.

at some point in the evening, she turned to me and said,

i remember once when i was visiting your grandfather, we went to your work and you made me a fantastic margarita.

yes, i remember too. it was fun.

would you make us a round?

i’d love to.

so we had “happy hour”

then she told us stories of dancing at the hall, of being a dance instructor, of love, of family….93 years of living (i think it’s 93 maybe it’s 87 it doesn’t matter really). we had moved to the enclosed patio so that i could sort and separate gear for my transition from walking to biking, but at some point, i stopped so that i could sit and listen to her. it just seemed so important to listen. to capture this moment somewhere in my body and mind. to absorb her words. i don’t remember them, but i can feel them, and it is a feeling i continue to move with. maybe in a selfish way, it was like having my grandparents with me in space and time again for a moment, and i wasn’t going to sort packages of ramen and t-shirts and forgo this moment.

that first day i didn’t get far. maybe 15, 20 miles. i needed some time to switch gears.

when my mom dropped me off at some empty parking lot that i pick as fine, and i was loaded up and she pulled out and i pulled out, i road to the beach and just kind of what the fucked for a moment. really, what am i doing? i could have stayed at that job, probably found a place i could afford to live. i could have gone back to portland or kansas… eventually, i calmed down, got my bearings and pointed the bike south and started cranking on the pedals.

i got through santa cruz and found a campground with a hiker-biker site, set up camp and watched the sunset. in the morning i chatted with some fellow bike tour folks, and the pace was set. this is what i wanted. to travel by my own power. to see…what? everything, whatever came my way. to stop and chat with people. to see the world outside of the bubble i had been living in for the past 10 years. i would say i have been successful so far.

i have met people from all over: from homeless to the very wealthy and lots of people who gave up the grind for the love of life (especially the “homeless” living in the parks). i met the owner of a brewery (who opened his doors for me to have a cold one on a hot day) who told me about the ridiculous codes he had to deal with. the couple who worked in l.a. in various projects for alternative transportation. my friends who opened their doors to me so many times as i passed through the big cities. and the wonderful folks i met in mexico. and so many people looking for something besides the prescribes socially acceptable life choices.

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the ocean as a companion just cannot be underestimated. she is wonderful. and all those who call her home: the sea otters, lions, gulls, crustaceans, birds of all kinds. the trees and plants of the shorelines that changed the scents and quality of the air i was breathing.

the landslides and wildfires that affected where and how i passed through. these are the events that shifted and changed the way i see climate change. it was a year where i not just knew climate change through numbers, statistics, lectures, and subtle shifts. this year i felt it even more than ever. and not in just that yes, the climate is changing as a part of natural evolutional shifts and changes, but as a force humans are changing faster than nature can keep up with.

and not just that we are unbalancing the balance of nature, but that nature will restore her balance even if it means the demise of the human species. this planet is not as fragile as people seem to poetically like to consider her. maybe it is because we view nature as feminine and we like females to be fragile. however, any being who brings forth life, cannot be fragile. she is strong and she will fight for life, the life she has created. if we don’t drastically shift and change our individual lives, we are the ones who will die…currently, it is something like 600,000 people a year die from climate-related deaths-at least i believe that is close to the number i read recently.

this journey so far has opened up my life in ways i could never imagine. it has helped me realize the vision of my life as a kind of loner and rebel that i have always felt that i am. i’m so thankful for my pals and family in all its shapes and sizes so that i don’t have to be a true loner and who celebrate and inspire my kind of rebellion…so far. i couldn’t be me without them.

so i sit here in a small moutain town in colorado setting a foundation for this vision. a vision that doesn’t see me really attatched to any specific place except for this planet and where i am resting my head for the time being, but more attatched to the people who’s path i cross in the process. i am also taking more of an interest in the health of this big blue rock that, no matter that science fiction finds other planets for us to inhabit, is our only home.

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so yup, this year has pushed and stretched me. it has afirmed that i made the right choice. it has caused me to question my life choices and ethics that have only reaffirmed them and made them stronger. i’ve listened to so many people’s stories that only makes me want to hear more.

i have renewed respect for humanity and disgust for capitalism. i truly believe that capitalism is the root of so much disharmony and disease in the northern hemisphere. the root cause for increasing use of opiates and anti-depression drugs in n. america.

i have renewed faith in local communities. in fact, i believe that it is the direct actions and how local communities respond to the various crisis where we will find solutions. i don’t mean in large city councils and such, but eventually maybe. i mean in our neighborhoods. in conversation with our neighbors…who were once strangers. getting to know that person who picks up the bottles we leave out for others to take for their deposits…their income. going for walks with people. know the trees and birds who come through the alleyways. do you have birds and bees in the gardens? what do your neighbors grow? cook? have tea on the front porch.

so what is my vision?

well. i plan on staying in this little mountain town for a year to save money and work on that foundation i was talking about. i want to find my voice as a writer and figure out how to use it for good. to face my fears that keep me from stretching and pushing myself and risk failure on all levels. and then i want to point the bike in a direction and see where it takes me. to visit my friends, some of which i haven’t met yet, but deeply looking forward to meeting.

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