Inspiring Things My Friends Are Doing and Some Other Thoughts

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

With the above sentiment in mind, Amy Siskind has been keeping a list of things subtly changing around us for the past 12 weeks. If you’re not following these posts on Medium, I strongly recommend doing that. It’s a good way to keep track of what is going on and to stay grounded and aware. This is not normal. Don’t stop saying that. None. of. this. is. normal. Period.

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Though times are depressing and look like they will remain that way, I have been finding solace and inspiration in the magic of my friends. Here are some inspiring things my friends are doing out in the world that bring me hope.

19,444 gallons of water in the desert: how volunteers save lives at the US border

Carrot has been living in Arizona and volunteering with No More Deaths, “an organization devoted to those who risk dehydration entering the US where the wilderness is a ‘weapon’,” and she wrote about it for the Guardian.

People are dying here: since the 1990s, Border Patrol claims, 6,029 human remains have been found in southern Arizona along the US-Mexico border, although the real death count is very likely to be higher. Many more people have disappeared without a trace.

It wasn’t always this way; for decades, the route into the US was less hazardous to human life, and yearly deaths hovered in the single digits. Then, in the mid 1990s, the Border Patrol adopted a strategy called “prevention through deterrence”: urban areas were walled off and checkpoints were placed in such a way that people attempting to cross were funneled into the driest, most remote and brutal parts of the desert, far from roads, resources or possible rescue. In other words, the US Border Patrol used the desert wilderness as a weapon.

After the implementation of this tactic, the number of people dying in the desert each year quickly reached into the hundreds.

United States for Kids

Jess is an early childhood educator with over 15 years of education experience and a passion for US history. She’s also a badass queer woman. She recently launched a website specifically for educating children about how to be a person in this specific moment in history, and it’s chock full of reading lists for kids, suggestions about how to talk to kids about upsetting things happening in our news every day, and activities you can do with your kids (or the kids in your life) to make them feel like the empowered citizens they should be. Real talk, I cried the day I discovered it, because I felt so moved that someone (and a someone that I know and love!) was doing the work to make sure we all know how to hold our kids through this. In my mind, I am always trying to make the world a better place for our future generations – if we’re not doing it for them, then what’s the point? Here’s how Jess describes the mission of her website:

I am going to use my experience in early childhood education, my degree in early childhood education and policy, my passion for families and politics to help children across the country to find their voices. I want to help build the United States for Kids. A place where children know about important social justice issues and know how to make their voices heard. A place where children are just as excited to turn 18 to vote as they are to turn 16 to drive. A place where children are active participants in both protests and playgrounds. Watch this space for book lists, activity ideas, and resources on how to ensure that our children are active in this great country that belongs to all of us.

Black Queer Music History Playlists, Part I & Part II

Over at Autostraddle, Alaina made a two part playlist celebrating Black queer music history, in honor of Black History Month in the US and LGBT History Month in the UK. Here’s Black Queer Music History Playlist Part I, and here’s Black Queer Music History Playlist Part II. In the introduction to the first playlist, Alaina writes:

The blues allowed these queer women and others to be private in public and acted as resistance to a culture of censorship. Their music was raunchy, sexual and it made folks want to dance. It was revolutionary. And it inspired queer artists, playwrights, poets, and future queer musicians to live their truths as well. When you listen to this playlist, let it fill you with the revolutionary spirit of these talented and subversive queer artists.

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And then, in spite of everything, life does go on as “normal” in some ways. We have to live, you know? We have to try.

I made Alley the best pot of chili I’ve ever made last week, which inspired me to one day submit to Resistance Kitchen, my new favorite food blog.

I embarked on my very first solo canning project and took 4 pounds of frozen wild blackberries Susie and Barb had harvested from their land last summer and then gifted to me and turned them into 8 jars of homemade blackberry jam. The jam is a bit thicker than I would like it to be but otherwise I think it turned out well.

I bought myself the Slow Holler tarot deck and I’ve been trying to pull a card every day, both to get to know the deck and to ground myself. It’s beautiful, and if you have the money to treat yourself, I would – especially if you are queer and/or Southern!

Today I took Alex, an old friend from NYU who moved to Portland last summer but who I haven’t managed to connect with until today, on a hike on Sauvie Island. We intended to go to Forest Park but discovered both roads to access the trailhead were closed, due to flooding. I panicked for a moment but then remembered Nicole, my housemate, had mentioned a hike on Sauvie that she had wanted to do a few weeks ago, and we were en route there anyway from where we had driven to get to Forest Park, so I had Alex do some quick Googling and then we were off on an adventure! The Sauvie trail is definitely more of a nature walk than a hike, in that there is barely any elevation gain and it’s extremely well maintained, but I’ll take 5 miles walking through the forest and staring at the river on a sunny day! Yes, yes I will!

I write emails. I go to work. I fall asleep holding Alley, or lying in the crook of her left arm with my head pressed against her chest, body curled around hers. I practice magic. I tell my friends I love them. I dream. I exist.

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I love you. I love you. I love you.

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Sauvie Island // February 11, 2017

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