sonia: Quilted wall-hanging (Default)
Lauren Rusk has created a poetry chapbook, "What Remains to be Seen." The collection centers around her poems that respond to children’s artwork from the WWII ghetto/prison camp at Terezín near Prague. The ghetto was filled to overflowing with especially accomplished Jews, who were then secretly transported to extermination camps. Meanwhile the inmates wrote, composed, drew, performed, and taught each other whatever they knew, in an act of creative resistance that outlives them.

Lauren’s collection also includes modern-day poems with related concerns and love for the people they portray.

I'm finding that part of my resistance is contributing to the resistant, creative efforts of others. And then I get the occasional surprise in the mail when projects are complete!

Preorder at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/what-remains-to-be-seen-by-lauren-rusk/ . More orders this month result in a bigger print run.

Art saves lives, we say. Yes and no: nothing rescued the children of Terezín, though the drawings they left behind preserve something of their inventive play, their hopes, terror and questions. Lauren Rusk is an extraordinary observer; she brings to these artifacts a profound ability to discern in marks on a page the human complexity of the ones who made them. The great majority of these children went up in smoke in the absolute moral zero of the chimney stacks. But we can bear witness to them, still, in the precise, empathic and beautiful interventions of a poet who knows that what she can save is sometimes all we have, and never enough.

–Mark Doty, author of Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (National Book Award winner), Deep Lane, and other collections



Lauren Rusk resurrects the imaginations of children whose inner lives shine through contraband paper and color in artworks found when the labor camp Theresienstadt was liberated. She manages to re-create the works themselves, which often reflect a Chagall-like combination of lyricism and dissociation, and also to bring the children to life in their moments of vision and their persistent, subversive reach for beauty. Rusk serves as their transparent medium, selective and convincing, in this gem of a collection.

–Leslie Ullman, author of Progress on the Subject of Immensity (poems), Library of Small Happiness (essays), and other collections
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
I first went to Race Talks, presentations and conversations about race, organized by Donna Maxey, back in April 2012, continuing for maybe a year after that. I learned a ton, and felt nourished by connecting with a diverse crowd learning about social justice together.

Then I went to one that included a heavy police presence as part of the conversation, and also got really busy with my tech job, and stopped going. The police presence was ostensibly friendly, but felt so oppressive I didn't want to go back. I do understand that it's a privileged position to be able to avoid them, and that Black folks are a lot more oppressed by police than I am.

I've thought of it since then, but figured surely it must have petered out by now.

Then last week I was paging through https://pdxactivist.org/ and noticed that Race Talks was coming up on the second Tuesday of the month as always! So I went. The topic was "White America: Become an Ally through Education & Dismantle Racism." Unsurprisingly for that topic, the crowd was mostly white. Looks like I missed some other good topics in past months! (Note to self: I could watch the videos...)

The panel discussion got sharp as Cameron Whitten (a Black man) confronted Randy Blazak (a white man) about microaggressions and reparations.

I was glad to see that Donna Maxey has gotten a lot firmer about asking for donations. I happily left a check for my October contribution.

I had planned to donate to Puerto Rico relief efforts for this month. I'm noting https://somosonevoice.com (via Shakesville) for next month.

I want to get more connected to communities of resistance. I plan to continue attending Race Talks, and I sent an email to P'nai Or, Portland's Jewish Renewal congregation. I need to be around more folks like me, where I don't feel too big too much too loud.
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
For September, I donated to Shift Stigma Relief Fund, which is helping to fund abortions for people affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. This includes travel and lodging assistance, since Texas has a 24 hour waiting period and few clinics for its huge area.

Here's more about the program. Women's Health Clinic Provides Free Abortion Care to Texas-based Hurricane Survivors

I've been continuing to pull back from engaging with daily news. I read whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com, as well as skimming the Shakesville news summaries, but don't delve into a lot of articles.

A friend's grandparents were bystanders to the Holocaust in Austria. Her parents taught her a strong anti-bystander ethic. My grandparents fled the Holocaust in Germany, and my parents taught me to stay alert to similar patterns. I don't want to be a bystander as others are harmed either.

I'm sitting with my limitations and privileges, my fragilities and strengths. I feel like my awareness, my donations, my support to others are not nearly enough. And, they are what I can do, what I am doing right now. As I reassure others, doing our own healing work reduces the harm in the world. Keeping our eyes open to the truth, and speaking it with others, reduces the effect of gaslighting in the world. It's going to have to be enough.
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
I went on vacation for a week in June, and didn't read the news at all. When I got back, I decided to extend my Twitter break, and I've only looked at my feed a couple of times since then. Which means that I run across fewer opportunities to make political donations.

For June, July, and August, I sent a large donation to Sisters of the Road. They're the primary organization I've decided to support over the years, because their philosophy of nonviolence and gentle personalism makes sense to me, and they're feeding homeless people every day at their cafe.
Sisters Of The Road exists to build authentic relationships and alleviate the hunger of isolation in an atmosphere of nonviolence and gentle personalism that nurtures the whole individual, while seeking systemic solutions that reach the roots of homelessness and poverty to end them forever.


I'm still reading whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com every day, as well as skimming the Shakesville news summaries. I'm less connected with people who plan local events, so I haven't been attending any. Sadly the Jewish group that was planning events went quiet.

They were the first to clearly explain to me what antifa is, and what they are specifically doing to keep Nazis from expanding their territory in Portland. I am grateful to the antifa folks. They are putting their bodies and safety on the line in ways I am not willing to do, in order to make Portland a safer place for me to live.

I've been seeing pushback lately against specific actions of specific antifa people, as if that invalidates antifa as a whole. I think we can support a group's overall agenda, while still taking exception to specific actions and people.

As far as I'm concerned, physically fighting against Nazis is good. It keeps them from taking over, which keeps me from joining my (recent!) ancestors as a refugee and/or murder victim.
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
Right after the US House of Representatives passed their horrific "health" "care" tax cut act, I donated $100 to opponents of swing district Republicans who voted for the act. No idea if the money will make any difference or will even end up where it's supposed to, but I had to do something.

Yesterday I went to the vigil for Taliesin Meche and Ricky Best, the two men stabbed and killed by a white supremacist on the MAX train Friday afternoon. They stepped in to defend two young Muslim women from the white supremacist's harassment. Micah Fletcher, who also intervened and was stabbed, is expected to survive his injuries. The armed, violent white supremacist was taken into police custody alive.

The organizers didn't have sound amplification at the vigil, so we couldn't hear any of the speeches. We stood quietly with the candles someone kindly gave us, shielding them from the breeze. The people in the crowd looked kind, authentic, like people I would want to know. There were a lot (for Portland) of people of color, Middle-Eastern faces, Jewish faces. I felt like I belonged there.

There was a brief chant of "Not in our town!" Nice thought, but yes, this is happening in our town. Fascism and racism go way back in Portland. At the same time, it's good to know there are a couple of thousand people willing to stand in the heat on short notice to say "We're here. We stand for peace, and inclusion."

And then we biked home and sat on my front steps to enjoy the evening coolness and clear light. As we collectively spiral down into disaster, life also goes on more or less as usual. For those of us who didn't get directly affected this time.

The murders happened a couple of miles from where I live, at a MAX station I use sometimes. I went to the Farmer's Market right near there as usual the morning after, and people were chatting and buying vegetables in the bright sun, but with a jangling tension in the background. Too close to home. That could have been me. I keep reminding myself that people of color have been living in this dystopic world for a long time.

This spiraling descent like a bird pinwheeling out of the sky is not what I wanted to live through. And yet here I am, here the world is. We each contribute as we can, some by fighting disconnection, some by fostering connection. I don't know what doing enough looks like. I don't know if any amount would be enough to make a difference, to change our course.

I do think every little bit helps in the long run, making people's lives a little better where I can. And, the long run might be long. Things might keep getting worse for quite a while.
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
I missed March for making a donation. Didn't come across something political that grabbed me. I wanted to donate to Wallace Medical Concern, a wonderfully compassionate low cost medical clinic in Portland, but their online donation form was through a third party that didn't feel right for typing in my credit card number, and I couldn't find a donation address to send a check. I may still call them and track down an address, because I think that highly of them, but I haven't had the time/energy to make that a priority. Healthcare is STILL a hot legislative issue.

In April, I sent $100 to a friend who lives on disability largely as a consequence of terrible abuse she suffered growing up, because she needed money for groceries. The personal is political.

Just now for May, I sent $100 to StreetRoots, our local street newspaper organization. They have a campaign where you get some cool buttons if you give $25 or more.

I've been talking a lot with people about marathon vs. sprint, trying to feel okay about what I'm doing and not doing about the US political disaster. I saw a series of tweets about doing a tiny bit and building up strength slowly, because otherwise you just burn out. That resonated for me. I have a strong sense of what's right for me, and then I question it and judge it and shame myself. Wish I could do less of that! I do a lot of building the world I want to live in, rather than fighting against what I don't want to see, and that has value as well.
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
This month I made a donation to Outside In because of the assault on trans rights going on everywhere. Their mission statement is, "We help homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self-sufficiency." Their website also says, "The point of return." They have a low-cost medical clinic, and I associate them with being very trans positive and helping trans kids who end up on the streets (which is a lot of them).

I'm finding that I want to keep my donations local, or at least make them to smaller local orgs that won't be the first organizations people donate to nationwide.

I also put up a yard sign from nwgsdpdx, which I had guessed was NorthWest something something Portland, but turns out, fabulously, to stand for Nasty Women Get Shit Done (in Portland). Their yard sign sales have raised over $10,000 to subsidize rent for incoming refugees as well as making the neighborhood look firmly welcoming. I was more than happy to fork over $10 and carry my sign home.

Free downloads of their great graphics available in 8 languages so far. Graphic based on a design by Jason Maxfield.

Check out this awesome sign! )
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
I went to Unite Oregon's No Ban No Wall rally in downtown Portland yesterday with a couple of friends.

I'm glad I went! )

We stood for an hour. My back hurt by the end! Rallies require able bodies (or assistive devices). I have mixed feelings about going to more rallies myself. I'm glad they're happening. I like adding to the count of people there, connecting with other folks resisting, and feeling the support of the speeches. At the same time, I'm not convinced it's the best way for me personally to resist. Still thinking about that.

I guess my objection is that I'm not sure this deserves the Tikun Olam tag. It's definitely resistance, but did I make the world a better place, even incrementally, by attending?

Erik Loomis says Keep Protesting!
As I and many others have stated, if you ever wondered what you have done when Adolf Hitler took power in Germany or Francisco Franco in Spain or Augusto Pinochet in Chile, well now you know. You would do exactly what you are doing now. If that’s going into the streets, then great. If that’s complaining about protestors or whining about liberals or whining about the left, then that’s what you would have done in 1933, 1937, and 1973. Only you can stop Trump. So do it.
I suppose in that context, yes, attending rallies does incrementally make the world a better place, or at least tries to keep it from getting worse quite so fast.
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
In my weekly folk dance email, which goes out to 140 people even though only four or five come to my groups, I sent out a few videos of songs and dances with Muslim backgrounds, in acknowledgement of the heart-breaking Muslim Ban enacted in the US yesterday.

Bulgarian dance Staro Pomaško is named after the Pomaks, Bulgarian Muslims. Here it is danced by Dunav in Israel, led by Yves Moreau, who originally taught the dance. He sings along a bit, too. We have sheet music for this, so we'll sing it at the next singing group meeting.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPcWpM6HAGw

Nardanina is a Muslim Georgian song. Here is Aragvi Project singing it for a bit, then video abruptly cuts to other beautiful Georgian songs.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQUcxQ9jcCE

Jazzy version of Nardanina, complete with trumpet solo!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmDRQ0sLmLM

Seems like the threatened white supremacist march in Montana didn't happen (yet), so I directly contributed $100 to the Montana Human Rights Network for my January financial action. I figure they'll help Jews and Muslims.
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
Tikun Olam means "repair the world." It's especially apt in this case, but I'm going to use it as my general label for the actions I'm taking to make the world a better place. I've set aside $100/month to donate to a political, human rights, or service cause I want to support. This is in addition to whatever tax-deductible donations I would usually make, since these won't be tax-deductible in general.

Via Sara Taylor Woods on Twitter, a couple of ways to support Jews in Whitefish, Montana, where there is an open-carry white supremacist rally planned.

Donate to the Montana Human Rights Network
Pledge an amount per minute that the white supremacists march or make a general donation.

I did a web search on the Montana Human Rights Network, and the only negative press I found was a letter to the editor clearly from a white supremacist. Which counts as a recommendation in my book. I pledged $1/minute up to $100, and they didn't ask for payment information up front. If the march doesn't happen for some reason, I plan to make a donation anyway, but I like tying it to the march in a positive way.

There was also info about donating to help cover the increased security cost. I'm posting it here in case that's something people want to do. I find that, as sadly necessary as guards are, that's not where I want to focus my financial energy.
Glacier Jewish Community Security Grant
Secure Community Network
c/o JFNA
PO Box 157
NY, NY 10268
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
You can post and email a letter to our Electoral College electors here: asktheelectors.org.

This is the letter I posted (also see below). Note that I had to send the email myself to the email addresses they provided. I went ahead and did that, and immediately got a few dispiriting auto-responder replies. But, I did something, put my small "yawp!" out into the universe for a result I desperately want.

Speaking of yawps, I also donated to this GoFundMe, recommended by a friend who knows the people involved, to help acupuncturists travel to Standing Rock to help out there. Send Us Back to Standing Rock. They are still planning to go back, despite the Army Corps of Engineers pausing the pipeline, since some people will still stay in camps, and it looks like the area still needs defending!

Dear Electors )
sonia: US Flag with In Our America All People Are Equal, Love Wins, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants & Refugees are Welcome, ... (tikun olam)
https://jillstein.nationbuilder.com/recount

I donated. Even if it doesn't change the election outcome, it makes me feel better that someone is DOING something.
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