The Friday Photo
July 10, 2015
When was the last time you colored something?
Not with a child, but for yourself?
Coloring, as I have rediscovered since stretching my comfort level at Life Is a Verb Camp last fall, is relaxing and fun. Susan Paul Johnson, an educator and artist, managed to teach this self-proclaimed “not an artist” to enjoy drawing and coloring Mandalas. I came home and shared what I learned with my grandchildren (they found all kinds of Mandalas for children on the web to print and color, in addition to drawing a few of their own).
Earlier this week Susan shared a link about a free Mandala coloring book. I printed every page the other night and promptly got out my colored pencils.
Try them, even if you describe yourself as “not an artist.”
The Friday Photo
March 20, 2015
This pendant was made for me by Life is a Verb Camper Jen Land. I wear it everyday as a reminder to be invested and to speak up. And to choose carefully when using matches.
The Friday Photo
November 14, 2014
For over four years I’ve worked from a home office. There are a lot of great things about working from home: laundry gets done, soup simmers for lunch, no one walks by and distracts you from the task at hand, and the dress code is pretty flexible. There are still deadlines, meetings, and convincing the printer to print, but working from home has been a really good situation for me.
I’m still working from a house, but not the one I live in. Just as Life Is a Verb Camp approached, the place where I hoped to figure out the questions to finding a job for life after fighting Plant Washington, I was offered a job.
Now I’m working from an above ground basement office in a fabulous Greek Revival house built in 1852, Rose Hill, surrounded by Lockerly Arboretum, a public garden in Milledgeville, Georgia, as the Executive Director.
I’m no less committed to stopping Plant Washington, but due to the determination and success of FACE and our partners, the demise of the ill-fated coal plant is now a matter of time. No one who opposes Plant Washington is letting their guard down, but the writing is on the wall and our work locally will continue as it always has.
Being an environmental activist in a small community has been one of the most difficult, and exciting, things that I have ever happened upon. I knew if we won, one outcome would be working myself out of a job that had changed my life for the better.
I didn’t make a habit of inviting people to come see me in my home office, but I’d be glad for anyone to stop by and see the house where I am working in now.
I had no idea what the response would be to launching a Go Fund Me campaign asking people to help me go to a camp for grown ups. The time was just too ripe for me to get to this camp led by Patti Digh, and so I decided to be my own advocate. I’ve asked people to sign comments to support clean air and water, marriage equality, access to health care, and other issues, but IU’ve never done a “help me personally” type of ask.
This has been a humbling experience for many reasons. I’ve not told my story for myself, and for that purpose alone the experience is valuable. As a participant in other campaigns I have been amazed at people stepping up because there was value in the need and ask. I wasn’t sure that would happen for me, and every time it did I had to catch my breath.
I’ve got a lot to do between now and the time I leave for Life Is A Verb Camp 2014. Right now I am letting such unexpected generosity soak in. I am appreciative of the what everyone did to make this happen, from sharing the link to the campaign to actually typing in a donation amount.
Most readers of Rural and Progressive have followed the work I have been lucky enough to be part of to stop a proposed coal plant in my rural Georgia community. None of us knew what was ahead almost seven years ago when we came together to speak up for the health of our community except that it would require strong backs, patience, strong partnerships, and grit.
The ugly part of this work has been the tearing apart of decades-long friendships and splintering of families. Sometimes when people stand up for what they believe is right, no matter how difficult that may be, communities become divided.
Four years ago I made what was probably the hardest decision I have made since I heard the announcement for coal-fired Plant Washington: I stood my ground for my values and integrity when I was asked to sit on my hands. Given the choice of sitting in silence and keeping my job, or speaking up for what I believe in, I chose my values and beliefs.
I took on a job that, if we won, would put me out of a job. Fighting Plant Washington full-time required a commitment to a much smaller paycheck, and sometimes no paycheck at all. Environmental activists don’t get rich fighting the fossil fuel industry.
Plant Washington opponents won’t stop until the project is cancelled, but the writing on the wall is in all capital letters for this coal plant. That means it is time for me to figure out what I will do next.
The scars and experience I’ve accumulated can’t be boxed up and put away. The challenge now is finding a way to put them to work for a community or organization that needs an advocate/activist to help in their work.
Can I find a way to cobble together work that will pay my bills without requiring me to move away from my family? What could that work be? Where do I look and how do I do that with clarity and focus? Who might help me and how do I make the right ask?
At 53 years old, I am ready to go to a sleep over camp for the first time in my life-
a “camp for grown ups.” Life is a Verb, a three day camp/workshop/retreat will challenge me to find the questions I need to ask, and begin to work towards the answers.
Patti Digh wrote this about the camp she is leading, “Camp is a place where people of all walks of life come together to explore what it means to be fully human and what it means to live life fully, as an active and not a passive, verb. To live, and live fully. To love, and love well. To let go, and let go deeply.”
As an advocate I’m not used to asking for myself, but I am trying to let go of that stumbling block now. I set up a Go Fund Me account because I simply am not able to cover the costs of going to camp and finding a sustainable way to what is next for me.
My goal is to cover the costs of camp and traveling back and forth. I’ll arrive there ready to do the work at hand and maximize every minute. What I learn will help me step into the unknown that is knocking on my door.
My life has truly been an action packed adventure since I stepped into a huge unknown almost seven years ago. Now I have skills and experience I want to share with people and communities who have challenges of their own. What I have learned is meant to benefit others, not be put on a shelf and collect dust.
I’ll write about my adventures at Rural and Progressive as I prepare to leave and when I return (letting go for me also includes less time with electronics).
I hope you’ll support my first-ever camp experience with a donation. Any amount will help send a 53 year old advocate/activist to camp for the first time.