Circumstantial Racist

There is a statute of limitations on circumstantial racism. It ends the day we collide with the realization that in our ignorance, our privilege has plowed someone over. If in that moment we retreat, what once was circumstantial becomes premeditated.

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 I fled the scene of my first teaching job in Baltimore City, accused of being a racist by the principal.

Those of you who know me now may find this surprising.

YOU??!!

Global Citizenship teacher?
Muslim student association sponsor?
Diversity conference planner?
Multi-cultural education trainer?
Restorative Justice facilitator?

You?!

For you who know this intercultural work that I’m always deep in the thick of, you may see this accusation of racism as proof that no matter what a white person does in contexts of color, they will almost inevitably be accused of racism.

But for others…particularly people of color, you will likely be asking a different question:

Well….were you? Racist?

My answer may surprise you.

How could I not be?

Born in the Ozark foothills, raised in a transition zone between rural and suburban, liberal arts educated in Garrison Keillor country in the upper-Midwest, the first time I lived in an area that was not disproportionately white was when I moved to Baltimore after college.

In my first teaching position I worked across the street from central booking, caddy corner to a cemetery, surrounded by infamous drug corners captured by The Wire, and cast in the very real flashing blue lights of police cameras.

Now how in is any 23 year old white girl supposed to make sense of all that? How likely is it that most 23 year olds regardless of color can have the historical, political, social, economic, spiritual perspective to understand the causes and consequences of such a stark human reality?

So…was it true? Was I racist?

Of course I was.

But not on purpose.

I was not raised in a context of deliberate and cultivated bigotry. I was raised in a compassionate Christian household where, above all, my mom insisted our faith was rooted in caring for the most vulnerable in our community. She was a champion for children. She hated bullies and would confront them in schools, church suppers, and super-market aisles. Despite the socially conservative constraints of the Bible Belt, she was bold enough in 1988 to reject the callousness of trickle down solutions and vote for Dukakis.

Her 8 year old staunchly republican daughter was appalled.

Her 36 year old progressive daughter couldn’t be more grateful.

No, my racism was not by personal design. It was by systemic proximity (or more precisely a lack there of) from neighbors who’s narratives could disrupt the mass media education I was getting from Law and Order and the nightly news.

Structural racism does not just keep people of color out. It keeps people of the pale in.

We move through an insulated existence where there IS such a thing as normal. Where there ARE absolute answers. Where you CAN trust authority.

And then at some point we come to the edge of our enclave. With our gaze off in the distance on our endless horizons, we step off the curb we didn’t expect into a pothole we didn’t see, twist our ankle, and collapse in the middle of oncoming traffic.

You want to know why white girls are always crying?

We weren’t raised not to.

And now we (overly) protected lily-white children have wandered into a world full of struggle our communities gated us from seeing.

3 years ago I took a group of public high school students on a study abroad trip to rural England. It was a group that reflected the diversity of their school and country from skin tone to head-covering.

During the day, they visited schools in pastoral settings. At night we would cook together in the kitchen where we would process the discoveries of the day. Many of their conversations with their British peers circled around race and culture.

When Miles told yet another story about yet another English kid comparing him to yet another black celebrity he looked nothing like, he laughed and said…

“You have NO idea how racist you sound.”

As we washed dishes together I asked. “Why do you think it feels so different to you to talk about race here? Why doesn’t their ignorance offend in the same way it would back home?”

After a few jokes about all the things that sound better with a British accent, Chloe was quick to put her finger on the difference.

“If you don’t know about race in America, you just haven’t been paying attention.”

These kids in North Yorkshire growing up amidst sheep farms, they were nestled snug in their culture. Where would they have ever had a chance to make friends with a black kid who could call them a racist?

I could identify. I grew up around sheep with Midwestern drawls. None of them black.

But unlike my planned community of the past or the physical spaces of the present, the virtual spaces most of us occupy today are NOT gated in the same way. There’s no way to not pay attention…unless you’re averting your eyes.

There is a statute of limitations on circumstantial racism. It ends the day we collide with the realization that in our ignorance, our privilege has plowed someone over. If in that moment we retreat, what once was circumstantial becomes premeditated.

Don’t flee the scene. We must bear witness. And then we must decide whether to aid and abet or become first responders.

Despite the risks.

The wounds are deep. So is the fear.

Apply pressure.

Hold.

 

What Nourish Meant

When humans eat alone, we are often left hungry.

“It’s been nice not eating with you, Barb.”

This was the sardonic line delivered by one of my colleagues yesterday. As the school year wraps up, there have been A LOT of end-of-year dinners, luncheons, and (not so) happy hours for me to attend…just in time for Ramadan.

To my right is a pita platter. To my left, pasta primavera.  I am hemmed in by temptation on all sides with only my haram iced tea to comfort me. (Yes, know it all. I realize I’m not supposed to be drinking during Ramadan. Mind yo’ bidness and tune in next blog for “Rama-my-way.” And ignore the mint in the background.)

tea

Situations such as these elicit a lot of apologies, as people bite into their bacon turkey clubs.

It is an interesting quirk of my spiritual impulses, that while I rarely seem to mind being the center of attention, say, on spirit day when I’m prancing around in a purple tutu, when it comes to matters of faith…I’m more comfortable with spiritual subtlety.

tutu you

I never wore a gold cross around my neck, never flew in an airplane with a Bible on my lap hoping for a conversion conversation, never wore a shirt that said “WWJD”, never bought an fish for the back of my car.

And now that my spirituality has become a syncretic mystical mix, I may write reflectively in a public blogging space or answer any direct questions, I’m not knocking door to door to hand out certainty in pamphlet form.

This is all to say, collective meals during sun-up make me feel awkward. I almost skipped this one.

But then…

Something funny happened (as it often does) when we lean into rather than away from spaces and situations that discomfort us.

Because I didn’t have to pay attention to food, I could pay attention to people.

fast break1

During Ramadan, you begin to realize just how much of your day is focused on your belly. What goes into it, how it’s feeling, what it’s saying, how big it’s getting, and on, and on, and on. Even at this meal I would have devoted time to choosing my food, eating my food, comparing my food to those around me, trading my food for theirs.

I’ve always found it fascinating that we humans the world over have taken this…well, kind of gross thing we must do to survive (aka: crushing up living things in our mouth into a moist paste) and created so many rituals, recipes, and reality shows around this most basic of acts. Trees have a much more elegant method of survival. Sun from the top. Water from the bottom. Imagine everything they can get done because they don’t have to shop at Harris Teeter for the 42 line recipe from Cook’s Illustrated!

What’s more, we know that particularly in our country, this act that is simply supposed to nourish us has made us sick. We have made our taste buds, not our tummies, the gatekeeper of what enters our bodies. All kinds of food like substances that don’t end up nourishing us at all. Instead they give us heart disease and colon cancer.

Last Ramadan I realized that my WORST eating habits happened in isolation. I was most likely to eat a bag of leftover Halloween candy unobserved in my cinder-block office, or a block of Manchego cheese before my kids got home from school, or a Chic-fil-a sandwich and peppermint milkshake in my car and quickly get rid of the evidence (in my progressive shame), or a carton of Cherry Garcia after my husband went to bed the night before Ramadan.

For me, peer pressure has never made me bad. It’s helped me be good. This is true of my eating and my being.

In contrast, During Ramadan, both eating and NOT eating becomes a communal rather than individual act. Iftar is the meal that breaks the fast. At sundown you wait for the call to prayer, as the last rays descend below the horizon you eat your date and guzzle your water, migrate in to pray, and then migrate out to stuff your face with platters of house prepared delights. If you celebrate at the mosque you will do this under a great white tent with all your fellow parishoners (mosque-ishoners?), or alternately you will do this at home amidst the tangle of your family. Like 40 days of Thanksgiving at dusk.

Date with date
“You got a date with a date!”

Consequently, Ramadan can be a very isolating experience for solitary Muslims. Men working abroad away from their families. College students without an MSA. Anyone who has unwillingly spent a holiday estranged from their people will be able to sympathize.

Just in the few days I have been fasting, I feel the hunger most acutely in isolation…and somehow not at all when I’m laughing on the stoop with my neighbors, chasing my kids down on their bikes, sweating through yoga next to strangers, telling and hearing ghost stories while I sip my iced tea next to a sardonic pita pounding colleague.

 

The hunger abates.

I feel satiated.

stoop break

I wonder if what we mistake for hunger pangs may be a society starving for deep human connection.

 

When humans eat alone, we are often left hungry.

For what?

Each other, I think.

Now that’s a craving I’m happy to cave into.

Lullaby for Baltimore

A year ago, I wrote this as we mourned for the pain of our city. A year later, she stirs, wakes, begins to rise.

Tonight, my children are sleeping, but from my roof I can see buildings burning. My children are sleeping, but I can hear the constant hum of helicopters and whine of sirens.

Still…my children sleep.

Other mothers in this city do not know where their children are.

Other mothers had to leave their houses, leave work, leave safety and plunge into the unknown to retrieve their children. They had to worry whether their children would make it home safe on the public busses that shut down and stranded students all over the city. Other mothers live near those burning buildings.

Other mothers have already lost their children.

Tonight before bed we talked to Grandma and Grampa, we played dress-up, we brushed teeth, put on pajamas, picked out stories. Ivy picked out Do Princesses wear hiking boots? Kip picked Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-zoo.

I needed a story, too.

I chose He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, by Kadir Nelson. I used to sing this book to my children every night. It was a gift for their Baptism. The Inscription from their Uncle Ben and Aunt Sarah reads, “Dear Kip and Ivy, on the occasion of your baptism, we are reminded that you are indeed in good hands, large and small. All our love…”

This beautiful book…

These beautiful children…

This beautiful city…

Yes. Beautiful.

Make no mistake, she will rise. Do not judge her by the color of her flames, but the content of her character.

Her story will unfold not in the destruction of the night but in the creation of the days and weeks and months and years to come as we plunge into the unknown searching for her, determined to bring her home, bind up her wounds, hold her close, whisper prayers in the dark as she rests.

She is in our hands.

Sleep, my love.

Sleep.

Patchwork History (Lest we forget)

Become enfolded in Black History with “Emancipation Revisited” at the Chesapeake Arts Center

This Saturday, Feburary 20th at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Glen Burnie, Maryland, a coalition of Black Churches called the North Arundel Cultural Preservation Society (NACPS) will put on an original play entitled “Emancipation Revisited: Lest We Forget.”

Months ago I met some of the members of the NACPS at the Bates Legacy Center. Surrounded by quilted History, pieced together by hands around the county and state, the story of these women, these churches, this play began to unfold and enfold me.

quilt

Since moving to Baltimore over a decade ago, my life has become increasingly interwoven with Black Lives and Black Matters. Over the last two years especially…I feel this tapestry interlocking with fragments of my own. I am invited deeper into spaces of trust and love…and pain and struggle. Students’ stories. Colleagues’ stories. Friends’ stories. Maryland’s stories. America’s stories.

Stitched Together.

Painstakingly.

I am humbled. I fall silent.

So much work to be done. So many stitches left. But with these hands?

Soft. White.Trembling.

Because this fabric is hallowed, the pattern unfolding, the lighting dim, my stitches are halting. Despite my ineptitude, I believe in this circle, am consoled by the hands that grasp mine.

I am not yet the person I need to be to tell the stories of these encounters. My voice is not strong enough to honor these odysseys.

And anyway… the stories are not mine to tell. Perhaps, when “my” story and “your” story become “our”story, perhaps then it will be time.

Until my words can catch up, I will let my stitches speak louder.

I have come to believe that the only meaningful change that happens in our world occurs through deepening relationships. So even as I labor over this short post, this tiny patch, know that the place I have decided to weave my deepest efforts is not here.

It’s out there.

With you.

Until the day we are truly “we”.

(Lest we forget.)

Hearty Birthdays and the double “L’chaim”

“L’chaim” doesn’t promise “happiness” just “life.”

When I was 18, I left my home in Missouri and began my pilgrimage into the world.

18 years later, perched on the opening day of my 36th year, I contemplate the roots that ground me and branches that stretch me.

When I told my friend Courtney that I was excited about my 36th year of life, she responded:

“L’chaim l’chaim!”

“Double 18!”

If you’ve ever drank (or been drunk) with Jewish friends or family, you will have heard this toast, “L’chaim” “To life!”

L'chaim wedding

What I didn’t know, was that “Chai” is not only the word for “life” in Hebrew, but also the number “18”. (Learn more about the history and grammar of this number in the Jewish tradition here.) For this reason, when a Jewish person makes a donation, or gives a financial gift, they may make it out in a multiple of 18.

18 + 18 = 36 = “double chai” = fortuitous year.

Perhaps a decade ago, I stopped expecting other people to give me a happy birthday. While I’ll have my cake and presents too (when offered) what has become more meaningful to me is creating the space and giving myself permission to turn inwards and ask myself…Well, girl. What next? Then to turn outwards again and see where I feel compelled to wander.

Yesterday I wandered to Christs Church in DC where my college friend, the Revered Cara Spaccarelli, shepherds her Episcopal Parish through their lives on Capitol Hill. One of the best things about this parish, besides Cara, is the childcare. I can hand off my children to relative strangers and find quiet sanctuary in the sanctuary. (While I may have given myself permission for quiet reflection on my birthday…my twins have yet to be persuaded).

Twin'chaim

As I sat in the pews, prepared to be inspired on this my “double chai day”, I was met not with happiness but with…struggle.

First reading: Job chastised by God out of a whirlwind.

Second reading: supplication, loud cries, and tears.

Third reading: “whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.”

Huh. Happy birthday to me?

Cara’s Homily framed the intertwining themes of these passages as:

“We can do hard things.”

So…not your traditional birthday card, Shabbat toast, or Facebook affirmation…but then, that’s not what I find myself needing these days.

Last year was the first year I ran in the Baltimore Running Festival. The second leg of the relay, 7.2 miles, wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it ought to be. This year (and with much less training then I intended) I ran the first leg and then portions of the second and third leg for what amounted to 12ish miles of Baltimore pavement, potholes, and cobble stones.  Not everyone’s ideal birthday weekend, but I think it may become my very own, odd birthday tradition.

L'chaim can do hard things

So hard. So good.

A huge part of what makes this physical endeavor possible, is the throng of friends and strangers toasting you onwards…with silly signs, cowbells, and Gatorade. It is this collective energy that makes such a labor not just possible, but transformative. We can do hard things!

“L’chaim” after all doesn’t promise “happiness” just “life.” And life, for so many, is so much harder than a marathon, so much longer than 12 miles. So hard…but hearty.

I wrote in a previous post I feel myself on the cusp of a wind change…like I’m on the wide expanse of the Midwestern prairie watching a storm roll-in…not with fear and trembling but instead with quiet, gritty determination.

We are strong. The house will stand. Life and love await on the other side.

So, Here’s to a Hearty Birthday, everyone.

L’chaim, l’chaim!

Owed to Chloe…

America meets in the classroom. We need cultural diplomats like Chloe who serve as a bridge between.

Ain’t no mountain high enough to sing the praises of my girl, Chloe. As a tiny tribute to the way she has let her light (and our lights) shine, I wanted to make visible the often invisible act of the recommendation letter. 

This is about her…but its also about us, America.

This song of praise.

This song of freedom.

I am writing in support of Chloe Hill’s application for your scholarship. I can say with utter certainty, Chloe has done more to shape me as a teacher and as a person than any other student I have ever encountered. She is a compassionate, deep thinking, and justice minded human being.

Justice Minded Human Being
Justice Minded Human Being

Over the last four years, Chloe has been an integral part of a Signature Program at our school entitled “Community Development and Global Citizenship.” This program is open to all students who attend our school. Chloe opted in early and will be a part of the first graduating cohort of Signature students.  Even more importantly, though, is that through her participation she has shaped this program for all students who will come after it.

To illustrate how and why, I need to tell you two stories. One is a story of collective transformation. The other is a story of personal transformation.

With mentor and spiritual sister Katara West.
With mentor and spiritual sister Katara West.

Leadership II is a required course for students in their Junior year of the Signature Program. This collaborative class allows students to create projects that benefit their local and global communities. Chloe’s project, “Growing Global” was aimed at teaching elementary school students about empathy and cultural awareness. How can students work together on projects, though, if they don’t trust each other? It wasn’t long in this seating-chart-free class before a pattern began to emerge: Self-segregation. Black students on one side. White students on the other. Only a smattering of outliers as the bridge between.

Having taught in public schools for a decade I have come to realize that schools reflect the schisms of the societies in which they are embedded. I usually see it as my role to help students see this pattern, question it, understand it, and decide how they should act to address it. For the first time, though, I watched as the students within the class began to navigate this journey naturally on their own. One person at the center of this social evolution was Chloe Hill.

Chloe and #Squad

A day that students now simply refer to as “the class” began with an impromptu spoken word performance. Students having memorized poetry for English classes began to recite for the Leadership class. Quickly, other students began to recite other works. Then came Chloe with a piece that addressed the systemic inequalities of tracking students into segregated AP classes. Though it has been written by another student in another state, its resonance in our class was immediate. What ensued was a breakthrough moment where students of all colors began to confess long held family prejudices disrupted by the relationships in the class.  They asked questions of one another related to their experience of race in America.

Students looked at each other not with judgment but genuine compassion…and none of it would have ever happened without Chloe. The ripple effect of that class has effected the trajectory of ALL who witnessed it. There were students who changed career paths. Students who changed political parties. Students who began to believe that ignorance is not inevitable. Students who began to trust one another in a new way. Students who began to hope for more in their class…and their country.

“I didn’t say it would be funny…”

On another day, months later, Chloe and I were reviewing for an AP HUG exam. We stood in front of a hanging wall map of America and spoke about where we’d visited, where we had family, what regions of our country were calling to us.

“I’ve always felt drawn to the South,” Chloe said.

I had a different confession.

“I’m scared of the South.”

Chloe was surprised…so was I. I had never named this fear before. Didn’t realize it was there. Began to examine it.

It wasn’t until this conversation with Chloe that I realized my aversion to the South was about the racism that I feared would bowl me over. I went on to explain that I wasn’t afraid of the black people, but the white people of the South.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wasn’t afraid of “them out there” I was afraid of “me in here.” I was afraid of my own part being from a privileged class. I didn’t think I was strong enough to face the history of cruelty and oppression that the South has come to symbolize.

But standing in front of America, arms linked with Chloe’s, I was suddenly emboldened…

“I’m scared of the South…but I’d go there with you.”

And I will. To visit her at Bennett. To visit her classmates in Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi. I will go south to face America. To face myself.

Right on Time

This is Chloe’s power. She somehow makes us face that which we fear and emboldens us to move towards it, not alone, but in community. With conviction. With the knowledge that we are braver together.

America meets in the classroom. Chloe has been a vital part in helping her fellow students…and her teachers not just BRACE for this meeting but EMBRACE it.  Chloe is a bridge between. She stands between divides of race, gender identity, and generations. She is a cultural diplomat who has a rare ability to question systems of inequality while compassionately confessing her own fears and vulnerabilities.

Meeting America

I feel truly privileged to have had Chloe as a student and whatever influence I may have had in her life, she has and will continue to shape the trajectory of mine.  America needs the lessons and leadership that students like Chloe offer. I have no doubt that just as she has challenged her classmates to face the social divides that keep us a part, she will do this for all the classes, communities, and countries of which she is a part.

I would happily answer any other questions you have about this remarkable person.

How to do Real Good in Baltimore…

The road to West Baltimore is paved with good intentions.

As we wrestle with next steps for #OneBaltimore there will be many junctures in the road where we must choose and commit to a direction. Individuals seek to find their path and question how to invest their time, money, and energies.

I present one fellow ramblers humble guide as we wind our way through the crossroads ahead.

Join Up vs. Start Up

Perhaps you have a great idea you’re certain will help our city…just make sure it doesn’t exist yet.

Baltimore is FULL of amazing (and sporadically funded) grassroots organizations, community centers, churches, and schools already rooted in the communities we seeks to help. By joining something, you lend your human capitol to a hard working organization that has laid the foundations already. Your contributions (in whatever form they take) may allow them to scale and raise the visibility of the work they have been doing. What’s more, they will have undoubtedly made a lot of mistakes along the way that you will not have to replicate. Just learn from theirs!

On the other hand, if you have the expertise, network, time, and inspiration to start-up a brand new solution…you probably DON’T need this blog post telling you what to do. On the other hand, there are lots of model programs that have had remarkable community impact in other places. Maybe this is an ideal time for you to use your influence and expertise to bring those models here!

With vs. For

Prepositions are powerful. Mind them.

They tell us about the relationship between one noun and another. One person or place and another. They also tell us about social hierarchies. The best work we can do right now in the city is WITH not FOR. “For” implies a patron client relationship. A giver and a receiver. The active and the passive.

Look for programs where the people in the immediate community are taking leadership roles. Look for organizations who are not “speaking for” but “giving voice.” Look for structures where people are marching hand in hand, not single file. It is so tempting to use our position, our title, to create a distance between ourselves and others. We insulate ourselves through our inaccessibility. We remain unaffected.

There are no strangers here...just unmet friends.
There are no strangers here…just unmet friends.

There is no “us” and “them”. There is only us.

Baltimore tolls for thee.

Transactional vs. Transformational

Should we give of our money or give of our time?

Yes.

Both are needed. Both are impactful…but their effects on the inner landscape are markedly different.

Psychologically when we give from our monetary resources, it can create the illusion that our debt to our fellow human beings is paid. They need. I pay. I’m done. Consider how many times we’ve heard (or said) “I pay my taxes so…” Usually what comes next is either about someone else who needs to do something we shouldn’t have to. Shovel our street. Police our community. Educate our children. This phrase is used to absolve us of calls to obligation.

We love our bill of rights…we’re not so keen on our bill of obligations.

Giving money can actually be easier and safer than giving of ourselves. We don’t necessarily feel anymore connected or compelled by the cause than before the donation. And if it is purely functioning to alleviate the cognitive dissonance raised by our conscience…then perhaps we need to question whether we’re giving the right thing.

The Creative Alliance holds a free family night where folks can make peace art and #BeMore together
The Creative Alliance holds a free family night where folks can make peace art and #BeMore together

Remember, too, that money is but one kind of wealth. Communities that lack monetary capital are often abundant in untapped social resources and unnoticed sources of resilience. Ask what insights they can offer you.

Sustainable vs. Suitcase Projects

I worked with a phenomenal community organizer in Nairobi. Ken is from Kibera (one of the largest slums in Africa) and one room home served as a community hub where he hosted civic clubs, meetings, even political campaigns. When the US Embassy had visitors they wanted to see Kibera, they called Ken. He had landed good job working with youth at the YMCA and made enough money to move out of Kibera, but he chose to remain living where he worked. He was committed. He was present. He was dependable. You could always find and call on Ken.

Contrast this with the church groups, tour groups, development groups who would come into his home for…a day, a week, a month…run a camp, complete a project, build a school, and then be gone forever. Ken called these “Suitcase Projects.” No one in place to manage them. No mechanism to sustain or maintain them over time.

Many of us in the next few weeks will take a collection, make a drop-off, paint a clever picketing sign, attend an event…but what will we be doing a month from now? A year? I would challenge all of us that after an initial survey of the options, we pick and stick to one particular initiative.

Outreach vs. In-reach

If we can shape the landscape within, we will see it reflected in the landscape without.

Ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?” Whatever the “this” of which you speak, if you hope to change others without changing yourself…turn back now. If you hope to get others to understand their own frailties and blind spots but refuse to face your own…

You will fail. You will be disappointed. You will become cynical.

You will throw up your hands and say, “I tried.” “They didn’t want my help.” “They don’t know what’s good for them.”

You do not need to rescue.

You are not here to save.

Work like “this” reveals the dark and treacherous valleys of our own hearts. Change doesn’t always feel good. Prepare yourself for uncomfortable moments. Awkward conversations. Conflicts and misunderstandings. Name your fears with others. Talk about them with people you trust. Confess them to people you’re learning to trust.

Expect to see the greatest changes within. Not without.

Understanding vs. Confusion

“I understand.”

This phrase seems harmless enough. But do we? Can we? Don’t confuse sympathy with empathy. Be wary of faulty comparisons that you share to show how you have struggled, too. Your intentions, though good, can come off as trivializing the deep wounds and history of the community you seek to work with.

For many of us, our desire to volunteer is motivated by a desire to understand the puzzle of people and places in our city. I would suggest an alternative goal:

Seek to be confused.

Margaret Wheatley writes a beautiful essay on the topic, warning us from rushing to quickly to overly simplistic answer and solutions simply to get rid of the discomfort of confusion. “We cannot be creative if we refuse to be confused.”

Do not run from uncomfortable emotions that may arise when you face stark injustice and blatant inequality. “Compassion” literally means, “to suffer with.” NOT “to solve for.”

CONNECTworking

Whatever you do, try to make your work visible and accessible. Let it inspire others. Invite people along for the journey both literally and virtually. If you lack courage, bring a buddy. Find good (but different) folks and follow them into new spaces. Ask how you can connect these new spaces with those you’ve come from.

#BeMore Peaceful
#BeMore Peaceful

Be the synapses you wish to see in the world!

Think of this as HUMAN infrastructure and yourself as a CIVIC engineer. The work you do will support the physical developments and renovations to come. The work YOU do is more cost effective, though, and is less likely to rile the neighbors and cause traffic delays.

Leadership Structures are changing. Social Hierarchies leveling. Systems becoming more adaptive and overlapping. Whether you are leading or joining in the work ahead, we must be open to the emergence of new leaders. We must expect that reform and renewal will come from unexpected directions. We must give ourselves permission to be surprised…

…by gang members and board members,

…by students and retirees,

…by others. By ourselves.

I have found myself on either side of these dichotomies. I have failed. I have fucked up…

AND SO CAN YOU!

A wise nun once told me, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” This is gonna be messy. It won’t be anywhere near perfect.

But bring your good. It’s good enough.