​Watching the tragedy of the Oakland Ghost Ship fire via news outlets and friends who live in Oakland’s facebook feeds has been a heart wrenching journey. Unlike the Pusle shooting in Orlando, there is no clear villain. 

The “at blame” party in this case seems to include some combination of the building owner, the tenant(s), the city for failing to follow up on complaints, capitalism and gentrification for pushing poor people into marginalized spaces, and probably some.other potential villains I haven’t heard about. 

As usual, victim blaming is not a good direction to head in. In general, I think blaming any one party is this nightmare is not going to be useful. Sadly, the damage here is done, to so many young lives, including many POC and LGBTQ folks.

Survivors and folks who had been to that space, or even similar spaces, are speaking out about how they could only find safety and comfort in those types of places. Marginalized identities finding solace in marginal spaces.

I think this tragedy must serve as a push, going forward, for those inhabiting marginal spaces to do as much as they can to make those spaces safe, and not just safe from harassment.

I present this concept: the terribleness of capitalism and real estate and gentrification still do not make outsiders/radicals/artists/lgbtq/whatever subculture justified in being careless/dangerous/unsafe with eachother. 

We need to do a better job taking care of each other than the market does of taking care of us.

We need to do a better job taking care of each other than the market does of taking care of us.

Marginalized people living in substandard housing is pretty much par for the course. But like a lot of anarchist thought, it seems like it is up to anarchists to be accountable and responsible to forge something better.

 Things that are cheap and easy to do moving forward: smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, water filters, safe power strips, condoms, safe space heaters, first aid kits, etc. Self care can include this shit too. It isn’t blaming the victim to learn from tragedy and try to do better moving forward.

Don’t forget that taking care of eachother includes emotional and mental and health things too. Let’s build alternatives to capitalism that are better than, not just different. Let’s carve out our own clubs and forts and collectives and make safe spaces that are emotionally and physically safe.

Poor folks are routinely subjected to the dregs of capitalism. There is often a particular charm to these spaces, certainly the photos of the Ghost Ship are beautiful in certain ways. Revelling in the dregs is legit. But finding ways to make hazards of lead paint, yucky water, bad wiring, etc. Become minimized is going to be important.

Money might be able to solve these issues, but I think creative people can find creative solutions, including bartering, to make safer spaces. I am NOT arguing that all alternative spaces need to become legal. That is out of reach or undesireable in many cases. Spaces can still be marginal, while being improved, and while the cultures within them are improved, to lead to greater safety.

We need to do a better job taking care of each other than the market does of taking care of us.

Gratitude 

I am thinking this week, in a stereotypical fashion, of things for which I am grateful. I am making a list, because I lurve lists!!! (Insert derpy face here)

  • Friends who are good at staying in touch and do so even though I am unworthy and do not reciprocate well
  • That inkling of uncertainty creeping into the minds of police and soldiers who are doing oppressive things
  • The patience to discuss political issues with people who I disagree with, with the hope to find points of unity and educate along the way
  • Water defenders at Standing Rock doing vital work I can not do at this time, fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline
  • Chulainn, my 3 month old baby, who is just so sweet and easy and amazing and has changed my whole world
  • My partner David who is willing to navigate this crazy world with me
  • Indoor plumbing and similar amenities we take for granted but are not available to many people in the world. Despite my stress and how hard chores feel, I have it easy compared to so many and should always be grateful. I think about Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, India, Egypt right now in particular.
  • People who let me bring my baby to jobs 
  • Plants and their medicine, and the knowledge I have gained this year about their uses which will help me keep myself, my family, and my community happy and healthy

Life has been stressful. Money, custody, divorce, marriage, jobs, moving, chores, broken vehicles, etc. Are some of the things I have to deal with in my life right now. Reflecting on the things for which I am grateful helps me gain necessary perspective and think more optimistically. I have a very good life and I am thankful for it and for all the people who are a positive part of my life.

I have several friends who make a practice of stating 3 things they are grateful each day, and I love that practice! I would encourage anyone who is feeling low to try this. It helps me a lot and seems like a healthy thing to do.

​Failing to understand the history of social movements and places hinders current social movements. Knowing history can prevent the same mistakes from being made and prevent people from reinventing the wheel. My book on a decade of Richmond radical activism is still available for sale. $10 in person! 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/113467534/the-south-is-still-rising-contemporary?ref=shop_home_active_1#


The South is Still Rising: Contemporary Radical and Anarchist Movements in Richmond, Virginia from 1994-2004 by Mo Karnage

The South is Still Rising explores the little known story of radical organizing in Richmond, Virginia in terms that Mo’s mom can understand. This story is contextualized in both within the history of Richmond and within the history of radical activism on a national and global scale.

The South is Still Rising reveals the things going on in the old capital of the Confederacy that are not played up in the media, and that many folks don’t get a chance to find out about. This is your window into a better understanding of what is actually going on in the South.

A new type of Southern Pride. A history that includes the resistance to racism, sexism, capitalism, and more!

They finally fenced off Monroe Park, much to the suprise of people who didn’t follow the issue from 2010-2014. I am honestly so pissed and frustrated and busy I can’t write a big ol opinion piece on this at this time. Instead, allow me to suggest that folks read the DOZENS of opinion pieces and articles that were written on this issue over the 4 years we fought tooth and nail against this crappy, gentrifying, neoliberal nonsense plan.

Go to these websites for all you need to know:

https://thewingnutrva.wordpress.com/tag/monroe-park/

https://monroecampaign.wordpress.com

https://monroeparkoccupation.wordpress.com/

Country Life Change

Country Living

I grew up in Hanover County. David and I moved to Hanover last summer, to Beaverdam specifically. He was involved in a custody battle, and was not going to win time with his daughter if we had roommates. We could not afford to live in the large house I owned in Richmond without roommates. So we decided to fix up a small house my grandparents owned in Beaverdam and live there. It was all kind of a catch as catch can plan, where things just fell into place, or didn’t, and we just rolled with it. Fortunately David and I are both hard workers and both enjoy making manic decisions and following through! Or at least following through most of the way… We lived in my short school bus in the yard while we gutted and renovated the 600 square foot house. Read the rest of this entry »

Pros and Cons of Country Life

Can have lots of Animals – Have to take care of lots of animals – Livestock equals deadstock

Annoying people rarely drop by your house — Friends rarely drop by

Quiet, there are no talking buses — No buses, must have a car to get around

Related,

Far away from other people’s nonsense — Have to drive for work and social and shopping

Room for plants and gardens — weeding and watering plants and gardens and lots of grass to cut

You can see the stars — There is actually no counterpoint to stars, they are excellent

Herbal Medicine School

Herbal medicine and witchcraft and wild edibles are all things I have always been interested, and never taken enough time to dedicate myself to serious learning. That changed this year and it was a really great change for me. My friend Raven Mack, who writes excellent things and runs haiku competitions, has an equally amazing partner, Suzanna Stone who runs an herbal medicine school, Owlcraft Healing Ways. I met her through him, and took one day class in the fall of 2014. I learned she offered a 9 month herbal medicine apprenticeship course.

After David and I moved to Beaverdam, he knew I’d been considering the herb school. He encouraged me to take the course. Being supported by a partner in a serious undertaking of time and money really meant a lot. I signed up, and have been enrolled for 8 months so far now. It has created this amazing weekly space in my life that I had not anticipated. Classes are once a week on Wednesdays from 10-3:30. I also do a work trade class once a month to cover part of the fees. Most of the women in the class do the work trade too. Some days this means we help weed the medicine garden. We also helped plant and the later harvest a bountiful crop of milky oats. 3 of us have been working on constructing an outhouse where a composting toilet system is going to be used.

The group of women in the class are a very unique combination, including 2 mormons, 1 lesbian, 1 single waitress who has taken it before, 1 mid twenties communal living yoga person, and 1 homeschooling mama return student too. Most of the women are in their 40’s or older. For all of our varied backgrounds the class has been a very interesting and supportive place. I mention those “labels” that could be applied to the students not to hem them in, or reduce them to a label, but just as a simple way to point out how varied we are. Only about half of the women have had biological kids, but everyone has been incredibly supportive about my pregnancy. I never could have planned to be pregnant while in that space, but it has been a wonderful experience. We start class with song and sage smudging and more songs honoring the directions and mother earth and father sky. The class is held almost exclusively outside. We’ve only been inside on two occasions when the heat was at pretty brutal levels. There is a shaded pavilion class is held on, but we also go on plant walks. Having a day of outside time is really good for my mental health. We also always end with a group song. Every class we drink a different tea blend, and try a different herb for a tea proving. Basically it is a great space that allows for a lot of connection with nature, with women, with intuition, with magic, with meditation, with plants and with peace.

I have learned a TON so far, and feel very inspired herbally. I’m so glad I stopped putting off this part of my life, and so grateful to be supported and to even have the opportunity. I just thought of this, but by huge stepback from activism is really what gave me room to engage in another aspect of my interests, herbal medicine.

The class actually held a surprise Blessing Way ceremony for me one day, which was awesome and amazing. Now that the baby is born, he comes with me to class. I’m looking forward to continuing my herbal education with the Richmond Herbal Guild once class is over.

I’m also hoping to attend the GAIA Herbal Conference this spring in Charlottesville.

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