What it Takes to Build Movements

I find it interesting to hear the sentiment that one person built or builds a movement.  I see it differently.

Throughout history there have been movements for numerous causes.  They have usually grown out of the concepts, ideas and inspiration of a collection of individuals or one individual who dedicated their lives/life to ending injustice. The ideas blossom into inspiration which in turn creates a domino effect of various forms of the ideas into movements. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between movements and organizations, so we have to dig a little deeper to discover the inspiration behind the creation of the organization.

Here are a some examples of movements that have grown out of concepts, ideas and inspiration, with links provided to read more details.

Food Not Bombs

Food Not Bombs was born out of the concept  of feeding people, not war. FNB started after the May 24, 1980 protest to stop the Seabrook Nuclear power station north of Boston in New Hampshire in the United States. The people that started Food Not Bombs shared their first full meal outside the Federal Reserve Bank on March 26, 1981 during the stock holders meeting of the Bank of Boston to protest the exploitation of capitalism and investment in the nuclear industry.” Today there are Food Not Bombs groups all over the world.

Boycott Movements

Boycotting, Divesting and Sanctions are concepts that have long histories in a variety of forms,such as Fossil Fuel Divestment, the British Anti-Apartheid Movement / InternalResistance to Apartheid .  The original “Boycott Movement” was founded in London in 1959 at a meeting of South African exiles and their supporters. Members included Peter Koinange, Claudia Jones, Steve Naidoo and Ros Ainslie. The Boycott/Divestment/Sanction (BDS) movement was organized in 2005 by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

Green New Deal

Green New Deal is a concept that was given prominence by journalist Thomas L. Friedman. Green New Deal has taken on a variety of platforms by numerous groups and individuals, inlcuding Van Jones, Jill Stein, Colin Hines (Green New Deal Group),The Green Party of the United States and The European Green Party.

Non-Violence

Mahatma Ghandi is credited for the inspiration that ended the colonial occupation of India. He gained notoriety due to his British education and ability to articulate to the issue of non-compliance with the demands of the colonizers.  His vision and bravery inspired a movement of actions by the people that ultimately resulted the end of British rule. His influence is the catalyst for many peace and justice organizations today.

Civil Rights

Civil Rights Movements are numerous throughout history. An example is the Civil Rights Movement for African-Americans in the United States in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is largely credited for leading the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968. His visibility and outspokenness influenced and resulted in a mass movement of non-violent direct action by millions. Dr. King’s vision is carried on by numerous organizations and individuals promoting the concept of non-violence in activism.

Dr. King also organized the Poor People’s Campaign  which is an economic justice and  human rights campaign for poor Americans of diverse backgrounds, spurring a movement that has grown and continues today.

The list is endless. There is the Occupy Movement , Black Lives Matter, Human Rights Movement, Animal Rights Movement,  Victory Gardens, etc. Again these are just a few examples, for the purposes of invoking thoughts on what it takes to “build a movement”.   Not one person for sure.

An example in my own life is an annual event that I help organize, inspired by a similar event in another part of the county – our Annual Community Coat Exchange – the day after Thanksgiving, which (strategically) is also Buy Nothing Day (another movement that inspired the Coat Exchange nationwide). We have been doing this each year for 13 years.  If we all do our part – our small part – in the larger scheme of things, we are inspiring ever increasing social justice movements globally. It takes many people to build and idea into a movement.

What are you doing these days in your part of movement-building?

Advertisements

Aging: A Continuum of Growth, Part 1

My growing up culture involved living and working around the elderly. My grandmother, a nurse, administrated a county nursing home for the low income elderly and before that she administrated a home for the indigent aged. I have beautiful memories of accompanying her on her rounds and I loved conversing with the residents. Through my grandmother’s actions I learned to appreciate the stories, passion and general companionship of my aged friends. Most of all I learned respect for people of all ages. My mother, also a nurse, upheld and modeled this culture as I grew up. I actually ended up working my way through college as a nurse’s assistant in a nursing home. Even for the most non-functional bed-ridden patients, I would treat them with respect as I cared for them, including talking to them even if they could not talk back. I would often volunteer to work holidays in double shifts so that my colleagues with children could have some time off – and I loved the work and being with the residents during those holidays when their families did not show up to visit.
In my first 20 years of life, I experienced life, love, compassion, energy, illness, dementia and death. Most of all I experienced the model of intergenerational relations that influenced my continued growth.

Fast forward to my adulthood where I have spent all of my career working with youth, the other end of the spectrum. Through my experiences, I have learned to love and respect the energy, passion, love, creativeness, inquisitiveness and yes the rebellion – along with the challenges they face – of my students (many of them are grown up now and have children – in some cases adult children!). I have loved teaching them, providing housing and food for some of them who were abandoned, playing with them, getting to know their families, helping them apply for college and find jobs and becoming their friends as adults and watching them continue to grow.

Early in my activism life, I came to know and respect Indigenous Elders. Within the community of my Indigenous friends, I have experienced a wealth of knowledge and passion for the life that is given to us from our Mother. I have witnessed the culture of appreciation, community and respect between the generations.

I am blessed. I have a rich repertoire of memories and experiences that span the age spectrum that continue to shape me as a person. As I grow into elder-hood, I appreciate the lenses I have been afforded through my experiences. One of the most important things I have learned, and have vastly improved upon but still struggle with sometimes in moments of my own heated emotions, is the art of listening, even when I don’t agree. And not just to listen, but to sit back and reflect on what I have heard. Often It is not easy to do this.

My hopes and desires regarding the figurative passing of the torch is that we all – of all ages – work together and harness the collective love, passion, energy, wisdom, caring, ideas and fortitude to continue the work to protect life on our planet.

Ch..ch…changes

I like to think of myself and my family as responsible shoppers and users of products.  After all, we make our own laundry and bath soap.  We grow a lot of our own food.  We shop at thrift stores.  We hang our clothes out to dry on the line in warm weather instead of using the dryer.  We do not drive to work. We recently invested on solar panels. We do not use pesticides or herbicides in our yard. We do not shop at Walmart and seek to patronize locally owned businesses. The list goes on.

But it’s not enough. Still, changes need to be made.

I have been an online customer of Amazon since 2003.  That’s 15 years of online shopping.  From the convenience of my home I have ordered books (I love my Kindle), gifts, household and personal items at great prices and with Prime membership I’ve save a lot on shipping costs.  If I need to return something I have been very satisfied with the easy process of doing that.  This way of shopping has suited my schedule as I can shop at any time of the day without driving.   A win-win.

Or is it?

Over the last few years I have become increasingly aware of some things about Amazon that have created a bad taste in my mouth.  I learned about a year ago that Amazon will build a facility in Salt Lake City.  What an economic advantage!  More jobs, right?  Right, except…..the jobs are 30 hours a week at 10 dollars an hour.  Sound familiar?  What other huge corporation does this?

I have also learned the Amazon recently bought Whole Foods.  I have read that Amazon is quickly becoming an equal competitor of Walmart in the acquisition of grocery stores and other companies.  Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, is the richest person on the planet, with a worth of $100 Billion. Recent predictions are that there will be around 500,000 employees by the end of the year.  If you take just half of the wealth of Bezos and divide it between 500,000 employees (future number predicted), that comes to roughly 100,000 dollars in wealth per employee in wealth. Imagine if Bezos gave that half of his wealth to his employees….

An August 2017 article in USA today describes the job growth that Amazon is creating.  But….

The breakneck growth of Amazon is “upending” the retail industry, which accounts for one out of every eight jobs in the USA, says Stacy Mitchell, co-author of a recent report that concluded Amazon eliminated about 149,000 more jobs in retail than it has created in its warehouses.

“Amazon pays its warehouse employees 15% less on average than the prevailing wage of other warehouse workers in the same region, and it is experimenting widely with ways, such as temporary and on-demand employment, to erode job security,” Mitchell says.

The article also describes the troubled history Amazon has with the labor force, resulting in labor disputes.

Amazon is also creating its own shipping business, which will have a significant negative impact on the US Postal Service, which has been a contracted delivery service for Amazon.

The increasing information that is exposed about Amazon’s continued expansion in taking over the retail world at the expense of human beings and their ability to support themselves has resulted in my decision that I will not longer support Amazon beginning NOW (actually a few days ago….). So, I have made a personal significant change for 2018 and hopefully forever in my shopping habits.

I have unsubscribed from my Prime membership. I have deleted my payment method.   I have made sure that all my ebooks (most which I got for free) for my Kindle have been downloaded to multiple devices, including on the hard drives on two computers. I will no longer purchase anything from Amazon. I will be deleting my account once I am sure there are no lingering things that need to be resolved.

I have been investigating and have found socially responsible book stores that have ebooks available for my devices, including open source and activist bookstores.

While I still have work to do to change some of my habits overall that affect the planet, I feel good about no longer patronizing a retail giant that has no interest in the planet or all its life.

Goodbye Amazon. 

 

 

We are all pebbles that form the rock

I was searching through some of my blog posts today from a blog that I have considered reviving (Dee’s ‘Dotes), and I came across this one. Today I needed to hear this. This is the 2nd piece that has come across my computer today that has provided inspiration on a day when I am feeling the pressures of life.  It was written 6 years ago, but most elements are still applicable.  It is a good reminder and affirmation for me today.


March 20, 2011 – posted by Dee on Dee’s ‘Dotes ~ Anecdotes of a Green Activist

A timely item came across my desk yesterday from my great friend Jacqui of Maine (my “angel in disguise”) who shared with me the story of a wonderful strong woman named Carole Whelan.  Carole Whelan stood up yesterday at an event to Honor Senator Susan Collins (where she was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame) and spoke out to request that such an honor be declined until all of our troops are home.

This was timely for me because yesterday was a day when I experienced a high degree of hopelessness.  A day that signified the anniversary of an event that so many of us tried to stop through letters

DeeonRock

I stand on and around rock, reminded of my small impactful part as a pebble that forms the rock.

and visits to our representatives, protests on the streets, and civil disobedience actions where some of us served jail time or paid fines for our actions.  A day that while the wars continue, from those 8 years ago and long before, and also a day symbolizing new conflicts, adding to the massacres and devastation of our world.  A day when the world was still reeling (and continues to reel) from the horrible devastation in Japan, with so many stories coming out of that event  leaving me awed in so many different ways.  Yet as the people of that nation fight to survive, as world hunger increases, as children around the world are subject to the atrocities created by the rich and greedy, as forests are disappearing…. the wars continue, families continue to be torn apart, the priorities of protecting and preserving life (or lack thereof) are only in the best interest of those that make the most monetary profit, the rate of unemployment and homelessness continues to rise, our civil rights continue to be degraded, the future of life on our planet continues to be held in question as the “leaders” continue to ignore the realities of climate change and also the inherent risks associated with the continuing development of energy using poison for fuel….and so, yes, I had a few moments yesterday of feeling like no matter what I do, my acts do not have any kind of impact in the scheme of things.

And then appeared Carole Whelan’s act of bravery in speaking the truth.  A smile came across my face as I knew then that her dignified act reminded me that I am a pebble amongst all the other pebbles of inspiration in this world, and that all the acts, small and large – from these pebbles united – all of us here and the many other women and men in the world – form the rock that prove to be the foundational inspiration to others who will choose to be pebbles among us. Our continuing fortitude, persistence, unwavering commitment to life on our planet continue to serve as examples to those who will follow…..together we are the conglomerate rock on which our future generations will stand to move forward with the conviction and bravery to take action against the injustices in our world.

Below is the text of Carole Whelan’s short but powerful statement, followed by media footage links.

~~~~~~~~~~~

March 19 A day of Mourning and Remembrance

I came to this celebration of women today as the daughter, sister, wife and mother of war veterans and a member of the national organization of Military Families Speak Out.  Joining me are other military families and Veterans with an important message for you.

It is troubling that on this, the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, our Senator enjoys a “Gala Celebration”. For us, this is a day of mourning and remembranceTo ignore its significance mocks the terrible sacrifices that have been demanded of military families.

We also mourn the Iraqi families, who have suffered profound loss and can never forget this day. In sad contrast to the “Women in History” celebrations, is the fact that women and children are primarily the victims of the violence of war.

In 2003, before that infamous day of “Shock and Awe”, 23 brave US Senators refused to fall into lockstep and abandon their Constitutional duty. We regret that our Senator did not join them, but chose instead to plunge the children of others into needless war. This was a betrayal of our military, our Constitution and the oath of office.

It is time, Senator Collins, to demonstrate a tiny fraction of the courage you so easily demanded of our sons and daughters. (You have said that Iraq is not your top priority. The forgotten families of the forgotten wars are painfully aware of that. We have never been offered an expression of regret or sorrow or any acknowledgement of responsibility. I cut this from my oral presentation, but included it in the press release)

This is the holy season of Lent, a time of reflection and repentance. Your decision to wage war, and its 8 years of consequences, can never be undone, but you can join us today in mourning its victims. We believe it is fitting that you decline this honor until all our troops are back home from Iraq and Afghanistan. A small sacrifice, we think, out of respect for those who have sacrificed so much.

 

Dee’s Green Party of Utah Party Office Candidate Speech

Yesterday (June 24) the Green Party of Utah held its state convention. Candidates for party offices were elected and Dr. Jill Stein was our guest speaker.

I was elected to state delegate to the national Green Party and as a state Grassroots Coorindator.  This is the speech I prepared, part of it was earmarked for an acceptance speech, but we ran behind so I did not get to deliver it in person, so I offer a slightly modified version of it here.

———-

Good afternoon , my name is Deanna Dee Taylor and I am a candidate for Grassroots Coordinator and  National Delegate. The following words, written by my husband Tom, hang on various walls in my home and serve as a daily reminder of what I believe.

I pledge allegiance to ALL life

in its interdependent diversity;

and to the Planet upon which it exists;

one World, under the sky, undividable

with harmony and balance for ALL.

I want to talk to you about the sunflower.

There is a project called the Fukushima Sunflower Foster Parent Project, launched in 2011 about two months after the nuclear power plant disaster. The hope was that sunflowers could be used to cleanse radiation-contaminated soil, as reported following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear crisis. But it was determined that sunflowers actually had little effect on removing radioactive contamination, so Team Fukushima decided to focus its efforts on reviving the economy. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous, as reported in the Japan Times in 2015.

The project distributed more than 12,000 bags containing 5 grams of imported sunflower seeds to schools, businesses, groups and individuals.

Ten tons of harvested seeds were returned the following year and were then used across Fukushima to grow sunflowers, make edible oil and process used sunflower oil for fuel. As a result, people came to visit Fukushima, helping to restore the economy. The project helped to create jobs, restore businesses, and build tourism through a charter bus system that developed the use of biofuel, processed from waste sunflower oil, to power some of its route buses.

Team Fukushima represented the desires of its people to restore life from disaster through the sunflower, which is also the international symbol of nuclear disarmament and of the Green Party. As a Green Party National Delegate, I plan to represent the members of the Green Party of Utah to the national Green Party in an effort to be active in the movement to restore the interests of our people TO our people, from the disaster of our political climate today.

Since I was a small child I have loved life. I have always felt a kinship to the planet. This passion has led me down many wonderful paths as I have grown. One of those paths led me to the Green Party 17 years ago. Today I formally reaffirm my commitment to furthering the values of the Green Party through my active participation in the Green Party of Utah, and through the example I strive to live each day in alignment with the Ten Key Values. My hopes and desires for the GPUT are to see it develop as a viable party in Utah to truly represent the will of the people of this state and offer REAL choices to the state’s voters of candidates who hold the interests of the people, of the environment, and of all life, ABOVE everything else!

Most of all, my heart is with our Mother who provides us the air we breathe and water we drink, and to whom I owe my existence.

Having served as Green Party National Delegate in the past, I am familiar with the role and responsibility of Delegate to fully represent the will of the GPUT membership on all issues discussed and up for vote at the national level. I fully intend to serve on the membership’s behalf to the National Committee of the Green Party and to ensure that the values upon which the Green Party is built, are a priority.

In the words of Petra Kelly, founder of the German Green Party – the FIRST Green Party – and leader in the disarmament and social justice movements– “If there is a future, it will be Green.”

Well, that future has arrived, Green Party of Utah! And we ARE green and growing!

Using the word “never” in activism

A number of years ago I was faced with having to get an emergency container of formula for my grandson because we forgot to bring it with us.  The only place around was Walmart.  So the decision had to be made:  Do I allow my grandson to go hungry because of my political aversion to this evil corporation?  Or do I (gulp) push my politics aside (which dictated that I never set foot, let alone spend money at, a Walmart) and spend the money on the formula my grandson needs to satisfy his hunger?

The answer was obvious, of course.

For a long time I told myself I would never take prescription drugs over herbal remedies, especially since my health insurance mandated that I order long term prescriptions from a corporate drug warehouse.   After a few years of elevated blood pressure, elevated optical pressure and herbal remedies not working, I found myself no longer being willing to take the increased risk of heart attack or blindness by maintaining high blood and optical pressure.  I now take prescription meds and have been able to stay in control of my bp and have slowed down the degeneration in my optic nerves.

Currently I find myself in a situation where I have to gulp again with regards to my political stance on a variety of issues.  Flying, which significantly impacts my carbon footprint, and airport security are among those issues.  My situation:  my aging parents who live 2000 miles away from me, in a nursing home facility.  My employment situation does not allow me the time to drive back and forth.  So I must use my resources to fly back and forth at least twice per year, sometimes 3 or 4.  I know people who say they will never fly as long as this fascist state of affairs is in place in our airports.  How I would love to be able,with conviction, say this also.  But it’s a gamble that I have to take – as to whether or not I will be waved through the regular scanner or have to participate in the heightened police state procedures now in place.  I made the decision over a decade ago that I had to gulp and try not to feel guilty.

I am not willing to sacrifice providing for/being with/seeing the loves of my life for my stance on issues.  I would never be able to forgive myself if my priority  was politics over family to the point where my use of absolutes prevented me from ever seeing them or providing for them.  I am not willing to sacrifice my health, safety or well-being or that of my family because of my position on related issues.

It is unfortunate that our systems currently in place have our hands tied in certain situations.  But this does not equate to “giving in”.  It equates to knowing that some circumstances must lend themselves to a willingness to adhere to current practices, policies and procedures (ineffective and unfair and unjust as they may be) which in my view should strengthen one’s resolve to work towards putting measures in place for the change we want to see for our world.

What I will continue to do is to be as vocal and outspoken as possible about the inequities of our political system, our healthcare system, the violation and invasion of our individual and personal rights, the degradation of our civil liberties.  What I will continue to do is to live my life according to  my values as much as possible, realizing that nothing is perfect or absolute and that is is ok to deviate every once in awhile to do what is necessary in my life – and to not feel guilty about it.

The most important thing for me is that the loves of my life see me practice what I preach regularly and are proud of me for it.  I know I am setting an example and making a difference when this message is conveyed to me.  My son once wrote to me during a very difficult time in our lives:

I am thankful that you are helping us. You are truly a great woman and not just because you help us when we need it, but because everything about you and what you do is great.

You are caring, loving and you generally care about the welfare of others. For this I look up to you; you are a big role model in my life. If I can take even 25% of what you do and who you are to my life, I know I”ll be okay.

I love you very much, Mom.

I keep reminding myself of this whenever I find myself having to engage in even the smallest activity that is out of sync with my beliefs.

The larger issue, then, is the question of using absolutes in our activism.  Is it realistic to say “I will never” or “I will always”?  I don’t think so. Having  the mindset and fortitude to be as strong as possible in our stance on issues  is much more plausible, realizing that there will be times where exceptions have to be made.  The key to practicing what we preach is consistency in that practice (Consistency does not equal “always” or “never” unless sacrifices are willing to be made.)  Being vocal about unfair practices, boycotting businesses and organizations which employ those unfair practices as much as possible, engaging in the political process to effect change (which may include civil resistance/disobedience), living one’s life in accordance to one’s values on a daily basis with as close to 100% consistency as is humanly possible…..these are  things that set the example for others and are part of the larger ripple effect that will travel through generations as it builds momentum toward mass change for the good of our planet.

I will – almost always – remember this.

(original post here)

Save