Sunday, September 22, 2013

you, me, and the CLT

First things first: I happen to know some seriously amazing people. Some of whom have been getting a Community Land Trust off the ground in the bottoms: a neighborhood in Columbus which is being set up for major gentrification. The baseline idea here is that by creating a land trust, folks who currently live there and want to live there, can keep living there rather then be forced out by higher rents, over policing (with potential 'programs' like Eliminate the Elements, which we have here in Weiland Park, for example), and cultural white washing.

I recently had the opportunity to help facilitate a short weekend retreat to help this group move towards decision making and planning. I'm really excited I had an opportunity to contribute to the work they are doing and to use my skill set to create social change.

As with many consensus oriented groups, moving beyond discussion and into decisions and action can be daunting. My biggest role was sitting back and waiting for when discussion had moved us to where we needed to be, and where making proposals was the next step. It's easier to see this dynamic from the outside (rather then by a member of an organization), and I think I helped add clarity to what needs to happen next.

{we stayed in a CLT members family cabin in SE ohio- which was so lovely. The 'backyard' is Wayne national forest. beautiful place to get away and concentrate}

On a meta level, many folks in the group were feeling anxiety about the CLT as a project that would fight gentrification. It seemed people were having a hard time sorting out if and how this will prevent displacement for folks in that neighborhood and what ways it could contribute to it.

Sitting in a circle in a nice open grassy field, we started mapping out the fears and excitement folks had around the project, and ways it would reach the goals of the group. Relying on their mission statement and stated goals as a background for understanding, we built a fairly loose mind map (a go to in my book) that plotted out where folks were at. This provided structure for folks to say the things they have had on their mind and allowed for new ideas to pop up as things were said.

{Community Land Trust Mission}
To meet the basic need and combat displacement in the Bottoms through resident-controlled, permanently affordable housing.

This did not get the group to a place to make a decision, but it did help lay the foundation for folks to realize they were on the same page and that the group does know what its doing and why its doing it. The many hours of meeting, sharing, and thinking that came next (which, was delightfully broken up by meals, campfires, and some hiking) were stronger and more cohesive then they would have been if we started with 'logistical' agenda items from the get go.

After the retreat was over, many folks asked how I thought it went. My answer was more or less the same every time, How did you think it went? If it went well for folks in the CLT, then it went well for me. If folks make proposals based on our discussion and follow up on the lists and ideas we developed, then it went even better.

{ps: mattie particularly encouraged me to write about this as a way to reflect. I'm glad he suggested it, and glad i followed through. You can see his blog about life, facilitation, and more here}

Monday, August 19, 2013

wanna crush?

My life has changes a whole lot since i started this blog. Looking back at my first post, I'm reminded of why I started it. I started it to share my life with the people who I don't get to see every day. I started it to remind myself that today, this day, this moment, is worth enjoying. I started it to up the ante on being adventurous, and redefine that to include the day to day.

In the past couple years, my life has expanded and stretched far beyond what I could have imagined sitting in my kitchen, on the cold winter day that I started this blog. It has been more adventurous- and my life has kept me on my toes, if nothing else. But today, it's a little calmer. I'm not racing around the country as fast as I can or living in the mountains working with some of the most badass folks I know, or... wait.

Lets start that again. Today, my life continues to be full of adventures.

Enter: life in columbus!

I can't possibly capture what my life looks like- not really. and if i did, it would probably seem boring and more like a to-do list than a celebration (if i'm not careful, it can feel like a to-do list...). But, I am finding my life filled with awe inspiring people, change making work, bread baking (and money makin'), collective house livin', and more.

One project I'm feeling mega excited about these days- is the Columbus Capital Crushers! We're a group of radical cheerleaders. That's right. We're cheerleaders. We're taking the anti-gloabalization movement of the early 2000's as a catalyst- and borrowing words, moves, and general inspiration from folks like the Boston Sass Attack, Syracuse System Shakers, and the Rowdy Racoons. We're basically here to raise a ruckus.

{Spitting a mean game and riling folks up at the Summer Recess event last month!}

We wanna add spunk and pep to radical events and rallies we like, and we wanna up the ante on ones we think are alright. We wanna push back against things we don't like, and we wanna have lots of fun and be creative. All at the same time. We've been writing cheers, making moves, and altering existing routines to suite ourselves.

{I feel confident we have the best meetings- ever. Seriously, we played on a slip and slide during one of our meetings during the Summer Recess event. It ruled.}

We've got a pretty diverse set of cheers, and its building! One of my favorites (as an indebted person, no doubt) is Lets Talk about Debt. Think about it to the tune of Lets Talk about Sex.

So whaddya say? Wanna talk about Debt!?

Lets talk about Debt, Baby
Let's talk about you and me
Lets talk about all the money
Banks are Stealing
Lets talk about Debt!
Let's talk about Debt!

We've done a couple events so far, and are looking forward to doing more. We did the Doo-Dah parade (check out some photos here, here, and here!), We Won't go back Rally, and an upcoming Planned Parenthood fundraiser.
{gettin' fierce at our first performance- the Doo Dah Parade}

If you wanna crush with us, give us a call - (614)526-TEAM (or talk to me, of course)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

...and then i came home (again)

Since January 8th, I've left home- for cross state travel- 4 times. Once for the trip with mattie, once for beehive meetings in michigan, once for the Extreme Energy Extraction summit in NY, and lastly to got the the Forward on Climate rally in DC with my mama. January and February have not been a slow down from 2012...

first there was The Trip!

Heres what happened- physically.
  • leave columbus...
  • paducah, ky (ohio and tn meet)
  • cairo, il (ohio and mississippi meet)
  • aurora, co (+dever; matties mom))
  • montezuma, co (agent!)
  • grand junction, co (matties grandfather)
  • mesa verde national park, co
  • the four corners (sorta...)
  • houston, tx (matties dad)
  • new orleans, la (matties brother + erin) 
  • tuscaloosa, al (matties sister)
  • back to columbus! 
We traveled 4,500 miles and took 19 days. Visited family, friends, and some lovely places along the way. Overall- it was a really nice trip that gave lots of space for slowing down and thinking things over. I had set the intention- with Beths help- to spend 15 min every day doing a visioning exercise to help guide me through what I want. I never quite got it to work for me, but I did spend time every day (almost, i skipped a few) thinking and reflecting and eventually scheming. 

I've decided I'm living here in Ohio! YES! I'm committed to being here for 2 years, with a broader intention of 3 years. In January 2015, I'll tak time to evaluate and make changes I want. For the record, I'm not glued here until then- if something happens that makes me want to leave/go somewhere else, then we'll cross the bridge when i get there. I'm really excited to be able to reconnect some roots I have here and grow new ones. I like being in Ohio... 

(ps: mattie made a blog post about the trip! He- unlike myself- actually has some photos)

Four days latter after getting back from the trip...
I left for Grand Rapids Michigan for Beehive Meetings!

Our meetings were a few days long, as we all snuggled up together in Pats studio, as winter blazed on outside the big glass windows. We found ways- with the extreme help from our 2 outside facilitators, dana and mattie- to update each other about what we were doing and explore the arch of where we might want to go. We did some fun activities, like making a timeline of the beehive, to help us all feel caught up and connected.

{thanks for the meeting photos Mandy! Esp since my camera broke, and I couldn't take any. ahck, bummer}

The biggest most delightful thing that happened during our meetings, is we had most of a day to sit around the Mesoamerica graphic (99% done! SO CLOSE) and do some story sharing and problem solving together. Plus! we had a chance to show off the original to some folks in Grand Rapids at a really fun gallery style event (photos to come? thats the rumor)

{story sharing- can't wait to tell ya'll more about it! In person of course, cause thats just how we do}

While our meetings didn't end with some epic decision or concrete outcome, they were generally pleasant. Folks felt present and I feel like we began to move forward. I feel optimistic about the ways we can move our work in a good direction and solidify things that need more work. 
{plus- i gotta have hang out time with some friends, and catch up}

Two days after getting back from those meetings...
I left to go to Kingston, NY for the first Extreme Energy Extraction Summit

The event was intended to bring folks together who are impacted by different forms extraction (oil in the gulf, uranium and coal in the west, natural gas all over, coal in appalachia... etc) to see if there are ways we can coordinate better and create a movement amongst all forms of extreme extraction, instead of seeing these things as separate 'issues.' Basically: trying to build power so we can more successful protect our communities (locally and globally).

There are lots of things I felt frustrated about during the summit, including a lack of agreed upon outcomes. I found myself feeling frustrated and unsure how to proceed given that there were more 'non frontline' people in the room that frontline folks (including myself, who isn't really on the frontlines). Those large obstacles being the case, there are things I really valued about it. 

As with most summits, I most valued getting a chance to meet folks and hear their experiences. I particularly appreciated hearing more about Idle No More - an upsurge of folks declaring they won't stand by anymore thats been set and guided by indigenous communities. I liked reconnecting and meeting new folks who are working on anti-fracking things in PA, esp some people working with the Mountain Watershed Association. I really appreciated the energy and work that was brought by folks working in Houston, TX with T.E.J.A.S. It was great to hear about the structure Peaceful Uprising uses to organize themselves, and hear from a solidarity activist working closely with the 1st nations Aamjiwnaang (in candada).  I loved seeing friends from Alaska again, as well as seeing so many friends living Appalachia. And all the small conversations I heard and took part in- I really value all the folks who were in the room, and appreciate the work thats happened to make it possible.

{look at this lovely drawing from the event some beehive folks made!}

I'm looking forward to see what happens from the many small working groups that were put together- and am optimistic about the summer meet up thats currently being planned and the ways in which what happened in NY can be built upon and grow. It's pretty easy to feel frustrated and unproductive when trying to create large shifts, and i'm constantly reminding myself it takes time. and a lot of work. 

And then I cam home (again) and was here for 6 days before...
i got on a bus and headed to DC for the Forward on Climate rally with my mama. 

We spent 17 hours on a bus and about 9 hours in DC. Good odds right there. Two buses full of people from columbus met busses from 29 other states and 40,000 people at the Washington Monument to stand up against the Keystone XL pipeline and encourage the Obama administration to block it from being built, and to take a strong stance on Climate Change.

In addition to the thousands of strangers, i had a chance to see a bunch of friends! I marched along with other folks fighting MTR coal mining and got a chance to catch up with them, met my friend Sonia briefly, and got to have a nice little dinner with Becks, Katie, and Michelle. Then back to the bus we went.

Quick and Lovely.

I'm glad so many folks showed up and look forward to the administration turning down that damned pipeline...

and now, i'm home. again. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

my favorite things

Finn: molly- what are your favorite things?

      me: One of my favorite things is dancing.

Finn: What about coloring?

      me: One of my favoriate things is coloring.

Finn: What about drawing?

      me: One of my favorite things in drawing.

Finn: What about visiting us?

      me: One of my very favorite things in the whole world is visiting you?

Finn: What about staying over in our treehouse? (which, isn't built yet, for the record)

     me: I bet that will be one of my very favorite things. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

baby's first

I'm currently on the road, in Denver specifically, taking some time away with my sweetie and using this time to help guide the choices i'll make for the next couple years.

Before i left ohio for this long stretch of road, i had a to-do list. Things like- scrap my car, create financial records doc for 2013, make a buncha pasta for 'thanks for hosting us' gifts, finalize my role in beehive meetings planning, get a few things in the mail, (etc) and... start/finish a mural for my aunt.

I can't say i got to everything on my list (like 'get ready to file taxes' that part... not so much), but i did make a mural. My very first one. baby's first mural. awwww.

step 1: smooth out the wall using a mortar finish.
lesson number one: i wouldn't do this again, at least not on a wall that was smooth-ish. took a lot of time, is fairly expensive, and i feel confident i didn't do it well. whomp.

step 2: prime it!

step 3: project it on the wall (i made a rough outline using photoshop)

{thanks for the photo mattie}

step 4: paint the base colors! 

{mattie helped me do a bunch of work on the mural- we spent a good chunk of a day working on it together.}

lesson number two: find someone really delightful to spend time with and ask them to help! murals can actually be kinda boring- and take a long time (this one, which is pretty basic, took over 30 hours of work). in lieu of that, bring some music, radio stories, speeches, and interviews for the listening to.

step 5: paint in the big details 

lesson number three: choose your paint colors strategically and really plan it out before you start painting. i was using a lot of old paint, so that largely dictated the color schemes, but i wish i planned the greens better. it turned out fine but took a lot of re-paining and color mixing

step 6: project or sketch on the details (or, in this case, some combo of both) 

step 7: paint 'em in!

lesson number four: buy nice paint brushes. the cheap ones make it really hard to do detail work. so hard that i may go back and paint over some things (like the bees) and re-paint them with a better tool. Plus, cheap brushes loose their hairs and they get stuck in your paint. plus! its just not worth it. get decent brushes.

step 8: clean up the room, and take a photo! 

{ta-da! the finished mural. like i said, i may edit it later... but... its mostly finished. finished for now at the least}

lesson number five: if you want to incorporate chalk paint into your mural, because that would be super rad, then you really do need a smooth surface to begin with. Not a 'more smooth than it was' or a 'sorta smooth' or even a 'more or less smooth' surface. a smooth one. Chalk just doesn't wipe off easily if its all bumpy. Which is why i used a stark black in this mural for the sky, river, and tree hole- so kids could chalk on it. I think I'll repaint the river. You can see the quick fish i drew on, and then tried to rub off- it didn't work. poop!

not a lesson, but a cool tip: don't buy chalk paint. its expensive and... expensive. you can make it yourself! (1 gal of matte finish paint: 1 c concrete mix. bam! chalkboard paint!) i know it didn't work out this time, but i've seen it work our great in other places

{i think the bear may be the best part. i feel pretty proud of her. and yes, i did fix that drip i just didn't take a photo of it after}

yup, i made a mural!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

a mouse in the kitchen

In many respects, I see January 1 as a random day to call a 'new year' and actually value the winter solstice (Dec 21, this past year) as the new year. None the less,  Dec 31 being broadly deemed the 'end' and January 1 the 'beginning' ends up being the way i do things. Mostly. ish.

This afternoon, after waking up much later in the day than I had intended (ahem- hence the afternoon), I found myself eating 'breakfast' by the fire at the midden (matties household), listening in on the hubbub of the house. Which included Wes coming downstairs after she'd spent some time thinking and reflecting on her year, and sharing some thoughts about it. It was really nice to hear what she was thinking and start thinking about my year, too.

All December, I have been a little shocked over how quick and slyly the time has passed by. With so many big markers in Dec (like christmas and new years eve), the time seems to slip. Unnoticed. Like a mouse in the kitchen... you normally don't know it's there until it runs under your feet and takes you by surprise. Turns out, the whole year has sorta been that way, not just December.

I've now been living in central Ohio for a full year. A FULL YEAR. My primary goal for the year, the one that my life revolved around, was makin' money. I started off my year doing that pretty well, working at a day center for special needs adults. By early spring, I'd gotten some sorta cabin fever and knew I had to go. Alas, a job change (less lucrative, but hey- even with that being my primary goal- it wasn't my only goal): landscaping. Mostly, I've been enjoying my new found job, being outside, getting dirty, using my body as a tool, spending time with my family (ohh family businesses), and saving up some money.

I also did some contracted work with the Alliance for Appalachia, helping with internal and external communications  Most visibly, I did a lot of updating on their website. I also got the chance to go to two quarterly in-person meetings; one at the Natural Tunnel State Park (VA) and one at Hawks Nest State Park (WV); which was great because I got to listen to a bunch of really smart folks talk about how to stop MTR. I really enjoyed the work, particularly working with my friend (and Alliance coordinator) Katey but, it also showed me I'm not ready to do computer based organizing work. At least not right now.
{Media and Messaging session during an Alliance Steering Retreat}

I've been involved in the planning of a Community Rights Based local resolutions, to enable communities to say 'no' to toxic crap, like fracking. It's been a great experience and has had some concrete wins. Hell yeah! I have continued my participation as a board member with the Ohio Alliance for People and the Environment; attending a Democracy School training, connecting with lots of anti-fracking folks in Ohio, including co-starting what  is a fairly defunct group in columbus; did some work during the Don't Frack Ohio event, helped plan (but could not actually attend) a community organizing focused  anti-fracking meet-up in Lancaster, PA (and really enjoyed working on that, because I gotta work with some wonderful friends who I don't work with often these days. Well- who i didn't, maybe we've turned a new leaf and can continue working together. dreamy!).

{the Don't Frack Ohio contengent during the Pride Parade in columbus}

I did a fair amount of beehive travel this past year. I did a week+ long tour in Appalachia this spring; Lancaster, PA (no presentation; meeting up with tour partner + friends), Gettysburg College, WVU, and the Appalachian Studies Association meet up in Indiana, PA.  Only a few stops, but an action packed tour.

{Gettysburg College, a packed house for a preview of MesoAmerica Resiste, the newest SO soon to be done beehive presentation, that Tyler and I later worked on the story telling a whole bunch... its getting good ya'll!}

I did some small events in Ohio, like at Kenyon College and the UU church in Bellville, and at least one Mountain Justice camp (including helping plan the Spring Break)

{I also headed west, way west, to Alaska for a 2 week tour- heres a big ol' blog post about it!}

And lastly, I took 5 weeks off work this fall to tour with Tyler. On that tour, we were joined by our friends Ugg (for about 2-3 weeks) and at the end with Kate (a friend of mine from columbus who is now beehive presentation ready! yeah!). We went... everywhere. Or close to it anyway.

Washington DC; Harrisonburg, VA; Hamden-Sydney, VA; Williamsburg, VA; Richmond, VA; super fun non-work trip to the outterbanks (SO amazing!); Raleigh, NC; Chapel Hill, NC;  Charlotte, NC, Ashville, NC; Appalachia (town of), VA; WV (for Larry's memorial service; non work); Cincinnati, OH; Indianapolis, IN; Urbana, IL; Beloit, WI; Ripon, WI; Appleton, WI; Greenbay, WI; Egg Harbor, WI ; and lastly ending up in Lincoln, NE for a week long residency.

{helping cute little girls see the colonizing birds a little closer, in indianapolis}

{we presented in a greenhouse in Ashville, NC}

{tyler looking sassy as we crossed a river in WI on a ferry. Goshdarn it WI! you're so charming, with your ferries and all}

{after school program in Beloit; WI-- as promised, after they did some story telling we bounced a ball}

{mural making in Lincoln NE, based on beehive Black Fly Ball graphics. cute!}

All together- I estimate I did about 40 presentations this year. My count for number of people I've told about MTR since Larry passed away: 213. I've got 387 more people to tell before next fall. (if i had to guess, i'd say i talked with about 500 people on tour about it- but alas: i made that commitment towards the end of tour.)

Which, of course, that commitment allows me to remember Larry Gibson, who we lost this year. I didn't see Larry that often, so it's not that I 'miss' him on the regular... but knowing he's not out there, makes my heart hurt. Less so though, because i know damn well folks are carrying on and doing their damnedest to finish what Larry (and others) started.


Not only did I move out of my moms house, but so did my mom. Childhood home, is gone. Well, of course it's not gone, but someone else lives there. Not me, not my family. It's still pretty weird, but mostly it's nice. My mama gets to move into a town (a real town! with a grocery, a swimming hole, a library!) closer to my siblings (the siblings that are grounded in the world and she can count on), and someone who really does love that house gets to live in it.

{last family gathering at my mamas house. so sentimental}

I've been living in a cute little apartment in Hilltop (west side of columbus). When you enter this neighborhood from the East/West, you see a huge block letter sign that reads "welcome to the HILLTOP, USA" I really love that. The neighborhood is pretty diverse racially and socially, with lower-middle income folks. I don't really know many folks, and haven't made a point to (since this isn't long term).  I live with two people, Laura and George, and for a little while had also lived with my friend Ben. I've decided that regardless of where I decide to live come February, I will be looking for a new place.

        {Laura, my kitchen, and George}

I said good-bye to my little green mazda (irony: i had put it up for sale on craigslist and then totalled it 2 days later. nobody was hurt, just the car) and hello to my new ford focus.
{2 days before i totalled it: was the first time it was cleaned since i've had it. literally.}

I found myself becoming the family photographer. I took photos of the boys for mothers day, of my brother-in-laws sisters kids; of a family gathering; and of my brother-in-laws brother and his soon to be wife.

{annamarie's babies}

{all the cousins! in one photo- for what i think is the first time}


{family time}

{engagement photos} 

I read some pretty great books, but am certain I read more than I can recall right now; Solar Storm, Like Water for Chocolate, The Help,  La Lacuna, Poisoned Bible;  I've got the light of freedom; The particular sadness of Lemon Cake, and The Color Purple. Mattie and I read (together) Parable of the Talents and The Year of the Flood. I'd recommend all of them, even highly recommend most. I'm sure I read a bunch of zines, too,  but alas- i forget which ones.  Theres also a handful of books I started, and decided not to finish, as well as a pile next to my bed that I am currently reading.

I've also deepened my love for being in a kitchen, and having adventures there. Namely bread baking, but with the recent acquisition of a pasta machine, i think that can get added to my list of loves.

{this isn't my kitchen, but my aunts- for my trial at sourdough bread. a trial that needs more trying}

Of course I had many little adventures along the way: martial arts, trying to screen print (still trying!), crocheting, mural making, time with mattie, contra dancing, friend visiting, family time all the time,  snowman making, sledding, snow ball fighting (we have SNOW in ohio this year! YES!), love letter writing (and receiving  yes!), occasional movie watching (highlights: Django and Melancholia, though that may have been in 2011), sewing projects,  bread making (oh did i already mention that? well... i just love it), pot luck attending, UU church going, baby sitting, some serious financial planning/budgeting (thats new for me!)... and of course a bunch of other things that have slipped by, maybe unremembered (at least right now).

{french braiding eli's hair... duh}

{Hello first snow fall in Ohio and hello snow man! with a pepper nose and rock eyes. and two very endearing little boys}

{snowball fiiiiggght! on the mound over on grant st}


whats next? in just a few days, i'll be heading out on a trip with mattie- bopping all over the place visiting his family, stopping at some 'destinations,' and taking time to reflect on what has been and decide what will be. To help me with the latter part of that, mattie got me a great solstice gift: 2 sessions with Beth Raps of Raising Clarity ("to cultivate abundance in noble causes, people and organizations") I'm really, really looking forward to the trip and the time to gather some thoughts.

on a random, weird, little end note: when you look at the backend of a blog (by logging in and owning the account), you can see the traffic sources etc. One set tell you the 'key word/phrases' people searched and eneded up on your blog. Someone searched:
"molly shea we ruined the world"
and they landed here. hahaha. what?