I already have a recipe for potato salad

The Friday Photo
October 10, 2014

Life Is A Verb camp

Last summer a guy posted a satirical Kickstarter campaign for a potato salad recipe. He ended up raising $55K. Fortunately I have a couple of good potato salad recipes, including the slightly spicy one from the Vortex in Atlanta (no fundraising required).

What I realized I don’t have in my cookbook is a recipe for finding my way to whatever my next job will be. I’ve got a lot of ingredients but what I don’t have is a way to find the right recipe.

Some friends suggested I step outside my comfort zone and make an ask for help to go to Life Is a Verb Camp in early November. The Camp Director, my friend Patti Digh, has planned teaching and learning sessions that include poets Naomi Shihab Nye and
Ellen Bass, nonprofit leaders that span the spectrum, an Ambassador for the Alzheimer  Association, artists, writers, and health leaders. I’m not going because I want to learn how to write poetry, but rather because I need to figure out how to think differently about the ingredients I already have.

Wednesday afternoon I got two unexpected gifts outside my Go Fund Me campaign, one that included a message, “Do not put this effort down.” As Progressives know, much attention and money are focused on heated campaigns across the country, not exactly the best time to launch a smaller one like my camp campaign.

After I let the unexpected generosity soak in overnight, I was able to cut my goal be more than half. Now I’m really close to going to my first ever sleep over camp on November 6th and I need your help to top the $500 mark by Monday.

This campaign isn’t  beholden to a bunch of PACs, but I am offering to work with donors on their own marketing/nonprofit projects as a return on their investment. If you make a donation of any size, of course I’ll be grateful. If you can share the link with your friends, that will help a lot.

I’ve stretched way beyond what I thought possible. It is scary, but a good campaign requires a candidate that is willing to make The Big Ask. This camp candidate is asking for your help and support now.

 

My first sleep over camp

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 camp fireups.” 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.

Yesterday it finally sunk in

The Friday Photo
December 27, 2013

dec27

Sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake. Two years ago I started (but didn’t finish) a daily writing prompt project led by my friend Patti Digh (she’s amazing and human at the same time). One of the prompts involved spending the time to clean up your desk/work space as a way to invest in yourself and what you do.

I’ve been better about being able to see the surface of my desk since last summer (only because I moved my desk and had to start fresh), but today the writing prompt finally registered. I walked into my home office/sewing room and started to move, again, the two boxes in today’s photo. Finally, finally, a light came on that said, “Why don’t you unload these things? Today. RIGHT NOW! What are you waiting for?”

So I did. In almost no time. I tossed some stuff, figured out how to be less sloppy with filing until I am ready to record/account for things, and put some pictures out that really matter to me.

Thank you Patti, for this lesson, and so many others.