Ahh. I’ve been occupying the home of some friends while they’re away. Ahh. C.T. and I have a place to ourselves for a whole month! This is sweeter than raw, unfiltered, local honey to this weary hippie chick. I’m just starting to relax some muscles that got habitually tensed on tour. But already, it’s clear that we need to get to work fundraising and lending support to some groups that want to take our consensus workshops.
In the soup of phone calls, internet searches and planning sessions, a friend sent the above photo to C.T. with a link. The picture apparently appears in the book, Victory, by Linda Hirshman.
Dear friend Jim noticed himself and C.T. among the ACT UP protestors and brought it to our attention.
If you’ve only known the C.T. of the silver hair and goatee, this pic will be a shocker! He’s the one holding the black ACT UP banner, standing under the “read our lips…” sign. How about all that long, dark hair!!!
The book review places this picture at Kennebunkport, Maine in 1991. I calculate he would have been about 37 then, ten years after cofounding Food Not Bombs in Cambridge; a year or two before the birth of his son Tim. In fact, the other friend named in the photo is Tim’s future godfather, Jim, who is behind the letter U on the black banner.
C.T. has told me many stories of his time with ACT UP, organizing, teaching consensus and activism, the family ties with friends like Jim and his partner, who has since passed. He had told me stories about the Kennebunkport protest, aimed at Bush Sr. So finding this photo is a real treat, fleshing out the stories.
It inspires me to scan some photos that C.T. has from protests at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, etc. That will have to wait until travels are done and we unpack our photos from storage. I even have fun shots of me marching for the Equal Rights Amendment. And do I remember having pictures of my goat Tabitha on the steps of Louisville City Hall, campaigning for the Fairness Amendment? Ahh yes, scanning will happen…
It may seem strange to wax nostalgic about the act of protesting. But like C.T. in his days with Food Not Bombs, ACT UP, Pledge of Resistance and other movements, I made close ties with my brothers and sisters in protest. Most of the guests at my very private handfasting to my then partner Patti were my Fairness family. That rite/right of passage, on National Coming Out Day, held deep meaning for us as we fought to have sexual orientation and gender identity added to the lists of protected classes, even as our own alderman told us to our faces that he had no queer people in his district. Protest pictures are our family album.
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Okay, it’s clear I won’t run away with any prizes for marketable website design in the face of competition like this: comedian Nick Malis has established cutethingsfallingalseep.org, a website of kittens, puppies, bears, babies and a few more exotic things nodding off, rolling off and snoring off to sleep. Shameless! I at least pretend to talk about sustainability or vegetarianism while subjecting the world to endless disproportionate nose shots of my dogs and goats.
For example, here’s a still shot of Tuatha falling asleep in a stuffed chair. I’ve surrendered and covered the chair with a throw because he and Echo keep the seat covered in dog hair and unsitable for humans. This practice is more sustainable than say, using the paper covers one finds at the doctor’s office. My sister in Minnesota gave me this blanket. It has fish, moose and hunting cabins on it. Ironic, since I’m vegan. See how I effortlessly fold this stuff in?
Here I go again with more snugly sustainability: When I had to move my compost pile for the new dog pen, I uncovered a nest of hatching baby black rat snakes. They were sleepy…some of them were very sleepy, sad to say, because they were cut in half by my shovel before I knew they were there. I took some pictures with my cameraphone but they came out blurry. I moved the eggs and babies and the cut-in-two snakes with the compost pile. The cut ones became the compost they were born in. Some intact ones were plucked from the pile or wriggled off lethargically to be food for my wild neighbors. How cuddly and cute is the circle of life?
This post is going downhill fast. Fine. It doesn’t have to be a competition because I know that after you enjoy watching babies slump over on couches and puppies plop into their water dishes, you’ll think, “Hey, not all babies and puppies have loving homes like these. I am inspired to become a foster parent and volunteer at my local no-kill animal shelter.” And after you watch the polar bear cub swimming in her sleep and the sloth baby, well, being slovenly, then you’ll think, “You know, I could work from home and turn down my thermostadt…” You won’t be like me and think, “Okay, corn chip time.”
Hey, this Cute Things guy has t-shirts! I want t-shirts! He doesn’t even put any graphics on his t-shirts, or the dot org part of his name! I could have better t-shirts; He knows nothing about marketing. Yes! Yes!
Can I just go home with the prize for missing my own point while trying too hard to have one?
I feel like Frederick the mouse, sitting with all the experiences I’ve had this winter, and going back to the colors of warmer seasons. I’ve just settled back home after a month in Kentucky with my new partner, both of us helping my mom after her car accident, and attending Berea College’s Christmas Country Dance School. As I download photos and sort through the shapes, shades, rhythms and rhymes of my December travels, I can’t help sharing these sometimes impressionist images of the children and pets this past fall. It was a fall to be outdoors, with warm days and air that was kind as a lover to the skin.
The Heathcote kids and I have just finished another typical day. We played store, in which the kids “bought” raspberries and mint which they picked and ate on the spot. We visited the beaver dam and nearby lodge and had a stakeout, waiting for the beaver to emerge (not today; stay tuned). While in the beavers’ marsh, we identified beaver trails and footprints (huge claws!) and deer tracks, human tracks, muskrat holes and otter slides.
Then we walked about half a mile of road and trail, grazing on black raspberries constantly. I saved a handful to mix into my shelties’ vegetarian dog food while the kids played house at Polaris, the soon-to-be-occupied strawbale group house. Then we all went on a stroll in the woods with my dogs and pygmy goats, ending at my homestead, where the kids enjoyed a couple of rounds on my swings before they turned and continued to Heathcote’s mill without me.
The families at Heathcote, the Intentional Community where I live, are choosing the gift of a pretty amazing childhood for their children. Instead of being plugged into media for long hours each day, these kids spend most of their time outdoors, year round. They have secret “rooms” along the stream where they swim. They have adopted a grove of pet trees in one such area, giving each tree a name. And they established an animal graveyard, where they lay the bodies of mice, baby birds, etc., watching nature recycle.
They’re fascinated with the Heathcote labyrinth, streamside in the woods. They’ve always gone there and invented their own sacred rituals. At our recent quarterly retreat, the kids watched as the adults performed our own labyrinth ritual, one after another, walking the spiral in silence. The children sat and held space for the long service. I wondered what they were thinking…
When I was a child I spent endless hours walking our family farm in Kentucky with garter snakes in my pockets and a Tom Sawyer sense of adventure, exploring barns, ponds, woods and fields and riding ponies (after the long ordeal of catching them). I would come home good and muddy with the understanding that I was an animal, carrying stories I knew the grownups wouldn’t understand. Heathcote would have been a primal paradise to me.
Naturally, the Heathcote kids take an extremely idealist view of animals and nature, as I did. To them, the woods and stream of Heathcote are a peaceful, benign, friendly place, their backyard. They’re not growing up on a farm, learning that your 4H project calf is a pet one season and dinner the next. They’re not on the historic American frontier or a small village in India, where nature is a cougar, wolf or a tiger, after your livestock…or you. For them, in modern rural America, even with snakes and snapping turtles that look like dinosaurs, the woods are a friendly home. The biggest boogeyman is the deer tick, which may or may not give you lyme disease, for which medicine is readily available.
They are growing up on another kind of frontier, though. In community, kids as well as adults work on improving our communication, experimenting with better ways of honesty and listening–No matter how old you are, feeling heard is core. Here the kids have a front row seat for the work the adults are doing. And in Open Classroom, they have a safe container for this essential work of community building. It’s no coinsidence that community and communication have the same root!
As a writer, I’ve often joked that I never have to make anything up. I have the laziest muse on record. I just stand in one place and crazy, goofy, fringe things happen. Or maybe my eyes are just open.
I’ve certainly lived an interesting life. I grew up in a haunted house, been “out and proud” and “genderfluid”, been to film school, been a widely published performance poet, and I live in what some would call a “commune.” I lead homeschoolers in classes that take place up in trees and in the creek. And now I’m planning a child as a polyamorous coparent. It’s not my stories but the rules of life that I’m making up as I go. This is my diary.
You can use tags to follow many threads through my entries over time–coparenting, intentional community, veganism, love, sustainability, etc.
I’ve come to realize that living at Heathcote, a cooperative community in Maryland, has helped me to walk my talk more authentically than if I lived on my own. Read about my community experiences here on Hippie Chick Diaries. I’ll add content to help you explore if Intentional Community is right for you, such as reviews of communities I visit and links to communities and information organizations.
Watch for regular features of this site, like the bumper sticker of the week, and emails to and from my favorite online social network friend, onewitheverything. Coming soon is my list of great names for a band. Feel free to email your suggestions! Some posts will be longer articles with photo galleries and links to explore topics further.
In this first post I have to sing big love to Paul, of Co Op Tek, and Roni, of Skinny Minny Media, for walking me blindfolded through website development. I’d trust you guys in traffic! Thanks for your patience and excitement on this project.
Here we go! Keep that Hippie Chick bubble off the ground!