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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels across country in my mobile billboard truck as I attempt to engage in dialogue with people in hopes to wake us up and inspire action to change our country and communities and selves. And it is froth with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society and life we want

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Habana vieja!

We are staying right in the bustling, beautiful heart of old Havana at a 'hostel' that is in a beautiful building that is at least several hundred years old.

I listed earlier a lot of the differences for my traveling this time to Cuba but one BIG difference I forgot is that I'm with both children and adults who are speak Spanish - most better than me and some even fluent!

I LOVE the streets of Habana: they are quite narrow, almost all one way (so less chance of being hit by a car, a bicitaxi, or a motorbike!), and surrounded by lofty ancient buildings that would be beautiful if one can forget who was forced to build them, who occupied them, and fled them dismantling all they could.

The marble steps, staircases, floors, even walls glow, the blood of the slave laborers long forgotten and hidden, the tallest doors and windows grace the multitude of openings, and fancy wrought iron decorates the abundance of small balconies protruding over the street on every floor above the second!

Bright colors mix with music, honking horns, and people - both Cuban and tourists (way too many tourists) to lend a vibrancy - mingling with enticing smells of street & restaurant food.

This is the view out the 2nd story 14 foot tall window of our hostel:

This is the view down the street from our hostel!

Regreso a Cuba!

Today I'm returning to Cuba. This will be a much different trip than the one I took in May last year. I'm going as a chaperon of my grandson's school! So I'm going with my daughter, my grandchild, and his second and third grade students - with their moms and some more grandmothers - and a few of their teachers.

Plus we're going to Habana, and we will be on several tours designed for tourists. Still I'm looking forward to it with great excitement and anticipation, prepared as I am to be part of a city of 2.2 million people that is 281 square miles big.

Also, Cuba is where Europeans murdered every single Indigenous person existing on the island, then forced so many Africans into slavery, the island's population was 45% Black during the height of slavery.

And also just remember, neither sugarcane nor tobacco is endemic to Cuba but is an invasive species coerced upon the island by Europeans as they took over the island and exploited the rich soil and Black people to make them wealthy beyond imagination.

One of the changes Castro put in motion after the fall of the Soviet Union was to turn sugarcane and tobacco fields for export into veggie and fruit fields for feeding the Cuban people: yet another reason he was/is so hated by capitalists!

I will keep these facts in my consciousness as I explore Habana and Cuba again!

On the plane to Cuba!!!!

Friday, December 30, 2016

30 second flash of consciousness-raising

When you have 30 seconds at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, texas and a young brown man in military gear is happily running around his vehicle, pumping gas, stretching arms, smiling like the world is his, as it should be at his age.

But I have to tell him something probably no one else in his life has said to him – well, maybe his mom or maybe his girlfriend or boyfriend, if he has one – QUIT!

Instead I ask him why the hell is he in the military? His broad smile falters a little, black eyes glittering then unsure. He chokes out a little laugh, calls me “ma’am” as he attempts to be proud of his uniform.

I tell him he is going to kill people. He actually re-finds his broad smile as he says with great confidence, nah, ma’am, he’s not going to kill anyone.

The stern older man who the soldier seems to be a younger clone of, starts stomping closer to get between us.

I say in my most authoritative voice “of course you’re going to kill. The military has probably already taught you to kill. Don’t do it son.”

He tells me he won’t have the chance to kill cause he’s gonna retire by the time he’s 40 so no worries there.

I tell him abruptly, swinging my car door open, “if you live to see 40”.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

From heaven to hell and back

After dropping off Sioux Nation donations 2 the Navajo people, we continue south in the far eastern side of Arizona, on 191, a south/north route that traverses the u.s. from Mexico to Canada thru the most stunningly beautiful high desert terrain & mountains that words nor photos can do justice - truly a huge slice of heaven - one breath-taking view after another and another. Roads that begin 55mph with 25 mile curves, then morph  into 25mph with 10 mile curves and then to 10mph with hairpin curves. Mountain ranges that become more and more glorious and stunning, sometimes seeing far off to other states (I'm sure), sometimes surrounded by tall cliffs and wooded forests.

We can't stop gasping with wonder and awe.

Then, in true "anerikkkan" nature, we hit the hell we've created: the morceni open pit mine.

No words or photos can describe the length or breadth of that hell nor the resulting pain & shock & sickness flooding both Liz & myself.

We feel wounded to our cores, desperate with grief and horror. Miles and miles and miles of total destruction of the most beautiful land you can imagine. Huge mountains transformed from wondrous terrain to gigantic piles of rubble; valleys stripped of all life and transformed into flat dusty plains miles deep. We feel like we've fallen off the Mother Earth and have landed on some distant planet.

Then we come to the science fiction part of the mine where huge machines and conveyor belts crawl around as the brightest lights outline straight rows of buildings and towers and immense machinery.

We speed through this devastation as quickly as we can and still it takes almost an hour. Finally we're on our way to I10 where we find the limp to the rest area at Texas Canyon, seeking healing and forgiveness and respite.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Make Marijuana Great Again

We’ve arrive in the little town of Trinidad – a place of my former life I would have loved to come and look for unique old treasures to buy and haul back to my business in the Bay – but a place I would have been prepared to deal with lots of bigoted, narrow-minded white folks and maybe not ever viewing a single person of color.

I doubt the town has changed much except the addition of legalized marijuana plus a little organic food co-op. There’s a ‘blighted’ red, white and blue tRump sign that proclaims “Make Marijuana Great Again” – so the town has a sense of humor – and a closed sign of the plate glass window of the co-op admonishing the lazy town’s people for not volunteering therefore not having an open place to buy organic veggies and homemade kombucha.

After our brief tour of the town including traversing streets paved in red brick, where we received a couple of friendly smiles and one scowling middle aged white male in a huge white pickup, we headed to the ‘welcome center’ for a quick bathroom stop and are heartily greeted by the bespeckled white-santa look-alike behind the desk.

You can count on sparkling clean bathrooms at welcome centers, as they are the advertising and promoting vortex of the area they’re in, as well as extremely polite old retired white folks – no lack of volunteers here – behind the counter. And this was no exception.

The old man pumped us for information about where we were headed, not seeming to care where we came from – and I’m more interested in telling him where we came from.

His response is to point out the water fountain which he claims is 90% pure and doesn’t elaborate when I ask him several times what is the other 10%???

He wants to guide us to places we can visit, if only we’ll tell him which direction we’re headed. There’s another much younger man sitting across the spacious room, in front of a large flat-screened tv watching something. He chimes in to (mis)inform us Denver is 387 miles away. He is skinny and tall, bundled in drab clothes hanging limply but not quite reaching his wrists, one dark brown eye straying to the right while the other regards us curiously.

The white man leans in and lowers his voice to tell us conspiratorially he allows homeless (people) to gather in the warmth of the welcome center often. I feel a surge of anger, knowing how hard pre-tRump life is for this young brown man, and I snap at this old white man, the statistic who elected tRump, it’s gonna become a lot more difficult when tRump takes over.

The old man immediately but just as conspiratorially – this time glancing in the other direction towards the front doors that remain unpeopled – expresses his disdain for tRump and then accusingly says 54 percent of women voted for him. I quickly and firmly correct his statement “white women” you mean, not Black or brown womyn.

And I point out that even more old white men than old white women voted for him. We share marvel tinged with longing that someone has not eliminated this despicable threat to all life on our planet.

White people ‘established’ – as in colonized – this town 104 years ago and our host, being 82 and born and raised here, must have been prodigy of the earliest colonizers. I don’t ask about the Native people who I’m sure lived here thousands of years before his ancestors – other than names of streets or businesses and the young homeless man, there is no evidence of such people.

We must get on the windy roads while the sun is still brightly illuminating and warming our way and we are cautioned about ‘gusts’ up to 50 miles per hour…oh to be in the south!

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Once again, First Nation womyn remind us that these conditions we are attempting to survive at Oceti Sakowin, Sacred Stone, and Rosebud, are the very same conditions many Native people have been forced to survive under forever: no fresh clean water, lack of firewood providing heat in this brutal cold, food supplies frozen and dwindling, vital arctic clothing and blankets missing.

The bare minimum thing we can do is deliver some of the surplus donations to various reservations will we be passing close by on our way south, out of the coldest weather ever.

After traveling miles and miles and miles yesterday, seeing no one except a few on-coming vehicles and scatterings of cows and even fewer horses, no gas stations, no stores, not even a post office, through stark land bordered by fences with not a tree or bush in site, we come to a tiny village about 1/2 mile off the road.

There's a small white church, topped by a cross with a Jewish star hanging below, on one side of the village and a squat red building that must be the community center, and 2 short rows of maybe 5 homes each lane. We are in awe, for we see no possible way these people can support themselves, no industry, no business, no town center, no school, nothing.

We find a womon in one of the homes where smoke is pouring high up into the cold sky, who is happy to see us and accept the donations. We pile bags onto her little porch, refuse refreshment, and go to leave when she asks for two more bags.

I say no, we have to go to several other places, but later I'm slammed with regret: of course I could have dug two more bags out of the truck, why not, but I didn't.

When we find the Oglala Reservation today, we climb the steps to the double wide trailer, knock on the door. When we tell Corrine Brave we're here from Standing Rock, she smiles brightly, hugs us and tells us they have collected wool socks, gloves, and scarves to send there.

Here we are in the midst of the most isolated, most poverty struck, most pipeline-benefits-deprived people in the nation and they have so dearly wanted to support the Water Protectors, they've collected goods they themselves probably go without.

When we tell her we're not going back to Standing Rock this time but have brought donations of surplus goods, everyone in the center is excited and happy. We unload maybe 25 bags and one of the womyn sees a pair of boots that end up fitting her. She lifts her old boot to show us the tape that has been keeping it together - in 4 degree weather and about 6" of visible snow.

Another young womon holds a bag of 'sanitary napkins' close to her chest, eyes shining in gratitude.

I encourage all Water Protectors driving out of Oceti to take as many bags of donations you can fit and distribute to First Nation communities along your way home.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On the road again!

It is 2 degrees this morning and most of the action at the camp has not been not occurring inside the dome but outside where people are scrambling to complete last-minute preparations of the many dwellings for the mighty storm anticipated this weekend, plunging temps well below zero and heralding arctic winds.

I do not want to be here for that. Our sun is so very bright this early morning, winds slight, but temps frigid as cold seeps in through soles of heavy boots past three pairs of wool socks to freeze our toes.

So Liz and I are going to leave today – before noon I hope – and Silvia and Gloria are going to stay. More goodbyes.

We load the back of the truck with bags and bags of surplus donations and then find the 2-spirit camp to load the camper with even more bags – all to be delivered to various reservations near our beaten path south to El Paso, where the bloody EPT is raping and destroying the Mother Earth and where fierce, determined Water Protectors are gathering to stop the Black Snake.

I’m sad we cannot take more, before the harsh winter claims the items and renders them useless, and I entertain the idea , the hope really, of returning once more to Oceti after we drop off these supplies, if the weather holds one more day.

Again, I am sickened with the knowledge of the amount of ‘stuff’ we have in this country, ‘stuff’ those that have hoard and take from those that don’t have; not to mention the assuaging of guilt for those that will not cease consuming the many ‘luxuries’ the crude oil of the Black Snake provides, that will not share and provide for those with less, those who are stolen from

What kind of human will you be from now on?

This morning we are up before the sun, packing up our many belongings, revving up a very reluctant but hearty engine, hugging silent but heavily-laden goodbyes, swinging by the food co-op for our last treats before heading to Oceti and the dome for the morning gathering.

This time there are about 40- 50 people here with one stove burning fuel. We are late but John is again reiterating the call for folks that can survive arctic climes to come to camp, while those that are not able or fit to survive such climes should leave and will be found a way home, if they don’t have one.

We talk about what we want and need to bring back to our communities, as we are encouraged by Native elders to spread the Standing Rock values and ways of life.

For you cannot feed the Black Snake – or rather feed off the Black Snake – and then expect it to die.

So figuring out the ways in which we feed off the Black Snake is something we want to spread: whether it’s gas for vehicles, petroleum for plastic, for make-up, for perfume, clothing, gadgets, pipes –the list is endless, but it’s a list we are capable of severely shortening if not eliminating in our daily lives.

The other huge thing to bring back to our communities is the very idea of real community: not a place where one can hoard a multitude of not only Black Snake products but every horrific chemical including anti-food ‘food’, where one can and wants to strive to get more and more and more than anyone else on the block, in their family, at their work.

But community is a place where humans come together to help each other exist, to work together to abolish the empire, and work even harder to create the kind of life style we need and want to make just, loving, real communities whose base line existence is to protect and defend the sacred – which is all life on this planet.

And yet probably the greatest huge thing is the willingness and ability to follow the leadership and direction of First Nation peoples, Native peoples, Indian peoples – which is the most difficult, inconceivable, unfathomable for most white people. White people are sooooooo used to being in command, being seen as the smartest, knowing their ways are the right and only ways. And are so trained, ingrained and have internalized superiority hand-in-hand with delegating inferiority to everyone else, beginning with Natives.

Take the environmental movement or green movement or whatever you want to call it. When we think and acknowledge ‘environmentalists’, the majority are white males, white hippies, white tree-huggers. They talk about protecting the environment from the bad ways we’ve exploited her and are committed to “sustainable” ways to exploit the Mother.

Whereas Natives speak of all life as sacred and this sacredness is the reason to halt the pipeline, to stop our capitalist lifestyle, to end our exploitation of our Mother. Natives do not speak of finding new and better ways, kinder to the Mother, to support our lifestyles.

And even more, indigenous people here and around the world have been fighting to protect the Mother for decades, centuries, all their lives. And yet, when do you hear contemporary i.e. white ‘environmentalists’ recognizing the life-long work of Indigenous people, let alone acknowledging their work as the keystone of all environmental movements.

We are to take back to our communities the native ways of being mindful and respectful: of elders, of children, of the Mother Earth, of all life, of ceremony, of hearing every voice until no one has another thing to say.

Bottom line: we have been given the amazing opportunity through the work, prayers, and actions of the Water Protectors, of choosing what kind of humans we are going to be from now on.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Red Fawnn - to be continued

What a stroke of good luck - and enraging glimpse of blatant injustice - we are in court when Red Fawn is attending the pretrial for her felony arrest.

Again, I will not say too much about the details of the case but I will say this: what a bunch a racist, macho, sexist, violent bull shit piled on top of her.

Do you know that police targeted her that day she was arrested? The AFT asshole (one who happened to be in the prison when we were arrested and refused to identify himself) actually even proudly outlined how Red Fawn was a leader and called her an 'agitator' and police were waiting for her to be separated from the rest of the Water Protectors in order to pounce on her and arrest her.

Red Fawn, an amazing, courageous, fierce warrior, has been detained in jail since the huge arrests of October 27th, when over 170 Water Protectors were arrested at the behest of DAPL.

The fuckin amazing Water Protectors

If you haven't experienced how total strangers can come together to work on building community, from absent or nothing to thriving, then it might be hard to clearly see how amazing some humans are and how grateful I am for them in my life.

Everyone, every Water Protector, has their shining abilities and strengths to lend to such a creation of community but here I want to talk specifically about two groups of Water Protectors: the Legal team and the Medic team!

Today, the amazing volunteers of the legal collective showed up in court for us, took notes, met with us afterwards, and told us they are going to find us a lawyer who is excited about our case, to support us through the whole trial, and to meet our needs anyway they can.

These Water Protectors are fabulous, sincere, dedicated humans that I want to give a huge shout out to - for without their support, knowledge and hard work, getting arrested, going to jail, and then going to trial would be soooooooo much more difficult.

And they just show up and appear when you need them!

I also want to again acknowledge the Medics - what special humans, risking their safety if not their lives to run out onto the front lines, to grab injured folks and move them to safety while treating their injuries and calming their pain and panic.

Both legal and medics just appear, summoned as if by magic, to take care of us and support us! THANK YOU!!!

Federal Court in North Dakota, Bismarck to be exact

There are 6 of us who were arrested attempting to get the message to Obama and the Federal Government to honor the treaties of the 1800's made with the Sioux, to immediately halt construction on the DAPL, the respect and honor the Sioux Tribal Council, and to get EPT the hell off of unceded Native territory.

Today we were arraigned in Federal Court. I cannot say too many specific details about the arrest and our defense but I can say that we all plead not guilty and requested both a jury trial and a public defender.

Because we are charged with the lowest misdemeanor possible Class C, (only infractions are lower) and the feds are not seeking jail time for us if we're found guilty - just a fine that they've already cut in half - we are not entitled to a public defender nor to a jury trial. Tearz...

We all wanted the chance to raise the consciousness of a jury of our peers. The judge compared our ticket to that of a traffic ticket and I'm sure he and the federal attorney was hoping - naively - that we would jump at the reduced fine, pay it, and leave North Dakota over $600 each richer - that's $3600!!! FAT CHANCE!

The judge, an older white smiling Santa Clausie type of fellow, seemed decent enough and even friendly as he took a lot of time to explain our rights to us and really make sure we didn't do any missteps that could harm our case.

He was a huge difference from the Municipal judge who arraigned us while we were still in custody last month.

The judge accepted our pleas and set our trial date - in front of him - for April 11th & 12th!

Back to fuckin North Dakota in the spring - but then we'll be able to help with camp clean-up and support.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Rumor or fact:

This bright and beautiful morning, we join the 9:00a.m. gathering at the Dome where the addition of 2 wood-burning barrel stoves has greatly enhanced the physical warmth of the previously only communally-heated space. I search for familiar faces, which is easier here inside as people disrobe and unmask noses and mouths, and I’m pleased to see several still here – or here again, as I am.
A couple younger men spring up to offer us their seats close to the stove, handing Liz a cup of coffee, and then help pull the sleeves as I wiggle out of my fabulous down coat.  Although the gathering begins with about 35-40 people, before the end at least 80-100 people will have arrived.

An elder male facilitates this gathering which I quickly learn is a very intense and important one for the sacred fire was purported to have been extinguished last night, and there are conflicting messages about staying or leaving.

When we first heard the rumor last night that the fire went out, I was thinking the weather was the culprit that vanquished the Sacred Flame but I was soon to learn it was the elders who began the fire also opted to put it out yesterday.

Water Protectors, including other elders who have been here from the beginning, are shocked, distraught and disappointed but our serene, competent, funny but serious facilitator quickly spells out the truth.

It is true that the chief of the Sioux Nation has told everyone they can go home now. It is also true that the elders who began the Sacred Fire feel their mission has been completed: they prayed for Federal Government intervention and feel that has been accomplished.

They are also concerned about the extreme dangers North Dakota arctic weather presents to those living outdoors on Oceti Sakowin, Rosebud, and Sacred Stone Camps, especially because of the police and military barricades making the 20 mile trip to the nearest city a now 50 mile trip.

And because of the governor’s promise to not clear the roads, a promise he has apparently since withdrawn.

So the ceremony to extinguish the fire took place yesterday, before we arrived at camp. But a Native man stood up and revealed he was invited by these elders to participate in the fire-extinguishing ceremony. He said he cried over the fire and then the embers and then the darkness as he prayed for  guidance, prayed for the fire to continue.

Later that evening, many other elders and tribal members decided the Sacred Fire should not go out, for we know our mission has not been accomplished: we know corporations in this country do whatever the hell they want to do, regardless of who is hurt, who is destroyed, who has to suffer – and whatever demands any government agency makes as they know the penalties for disobeying are miniscule if any.

We know ETP/DAPL immediately boldly flouted the Federal demands that they cease building and flaunted their intention to continue digging under the water promising to finish the pipeline as planned.  

So, the crying man continues the story: he returned to the Sacred Fire late last night to witness embers leaping from the doused flames and he believes the fire never went out.

The youth come into the gathering to announce they will take over the tending of the Sacred Fire for all the Water Protectors and excitement rises where despair had reigned.

We are cautioned several times that those who are not prepared or experienced surviving in arctic conditions need to go home. Now.

We are assured that the tribe will help anyone who wants to leave; and the tribe will also support anyone who meets the criteria to stay if they choose to.

Several Native people share they are warriors, they have been born here and have lived here all their lives, they have prayed here, learned the ways of the elders, speak in their native tongue, and engage in ceremony and the Lakota, Nakota, Dakota ways of life.

And they will not leave.

Another group of Native Water Protectors, including a lawyer, enter the Dome and update us on all the supplies that have been donated, enabling the building of structures that can truly provide a safe space for warriors continuing the vigil throughout the winter.

We learn there are over 600 people still at the camp with others arriving daily – and leaving daily. People make announcements about army tents finally winterized and volunteers needed to help cook, to build more latrines, to help move people from the fringes into the center of camps so it will be easier to look after each other.

And someone has to volunteer to monitor the levels of the Cannon Ball River – the rumor that the Army Corps of Engineers plans to flood the lake is just that: a rumor. But the water level needs to be monitored anyway – it is winter and water fluctuates during the winter.

Other volunteers are called to work on building structures to protect and house the water for the camp.

And the bustle of coming together and building a viable, safe, loving community whose foundations are love and prayer and protection of the Mother Earth, of tearing down parts of the previous community, or figuring out how to not only withstand the bitter howling winds and frozen waters of the North Dakota plains but also the force of police and military enforcing the will of the Black Snake.

It is an exciting time to be here at camp: the transitions might be painful and unsure, but the spirit shines bright and the sacred fire is evidenced in the sun, the lightning, the burning of wood as well.

I’m sorry I have to leave later this afternoon in order to ensure I’m in court tomorrow morning. Apparently there might be a class action suit against DAPL for trampling on our 1st Amendment Rights! YEAH!!!