Archive for the ‘education’ Category

missives from the playground

March 14, 2017

a

adult playground – in photos

child’s playground – in words

both true.

DSCN5272

how to make chalk hand-prints (best results when 6 – 8-yrs-old):

DSCN5255

get a friend to trace around your body sprawled on the asphalt/ground with chalk

DSCN5254

spend long time deliberately skrushing in various solid colors with huge sidewalk chalks; for clothing, hair, accoutrements, and skin of your silhouetted image [could take 20-40 minutes]

DSCN5270

lightly pat your open palms onto chalk colored self-portrait a couple three times

c

place hands firmly in an unchalked spot on the asphalt

DSCN5274

leap up into a handstand – after a breath, plant feet again earthward one at a time and stand tall [takes 1-2 seconds]

DSCN5269

there they are. bright colored hand-prints clear and detectable for all passers-by

b

emergence

December 14, 2016

dangerous opportunity

opportune danger

crisis

demise

emergence

emergency

crisis

emerging demise

demising mergence

.

something familiar and comfortable must be cast off in order to

dscn5063

act

.

sage

savage

rage

ravage

cage

cabbage

cave

aged

average

beige

baggage

dazed

damage

lame

lament

maim

moment

name

save

nave

knave

lave

wave

tame

came

blame

flame

foment

comment

commend

ferment

American linguistic blunders

 

touching ground

November 18, 2016

yeh, we are moving upstream

john-lewis-sncc

against a wave of thousands of years of human tribalism/othering,

as is our animal nature.

still and all, we are the same species.

buddha-hand-touching-ground

 

 

To Rosetta Lee, if i could…

August 21, 2016

To identify as transgender is not telling me anything about one’s sexuality.

The energy of my response is about invisibility and marginalization, to expose and heal.

I’m putting this out in the ether webby ness before any beloved editors can heal and help my wordings. I just wanna get this out there. Stumbling fumblings to be caught and wholed with your support…

I am keen to see how the meaning and use of the term transgender evolves over time. It just may come to reference one’s sexuality. I do not think it does so presently. Presently, I think it reveals one’s gender identity. Below I expound why I find this discernment relevant, in North Carolina, in 2016, no less.

Please engage and change me, relieve me from my confusion and suffering – I want to learn and understand.

Please call me out, or call me in, on any stuck, narrow, binary, right/wrong thinking I express herein. I am much more interested in etymology and the evolution of language, thought, and movement (all pun possibilities intended) than being right, narrow, stuck, etc.

The person I wish I could dialog with (Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee) speaks to her interest in action over too much quibble with words/labels/terminology. I respect that. That lands as workable progressive change process. Yum!

Alas, I quibble whole-heartedly, I question whole-self-edly, with some unknowns – with some experience I had in a session facilitated by her the other day. I wish that I could ask her directly how she came to understand transgender as a sexuality, and further explain a point she and I exchanged about publicly.

Key note: I use pronouns she/her/hers for this amazing leader and activist, as that is what I find online in her self-made website. I am going to trust she is in control of that pronoun usage so publicly; that she is self-identifying with these pronouns, which does not reveal to me her gender identity. We simply don’t have enough pronouns yet for all of us.

I avert social media, excepting email and this blog, so I will not sign up for twitter or LinkedIn, the only options she publicly provides for contact.

I’ve been drafting this letter I fantasize will find its way to her for 5+ days… Today, two articles appeared that wrangle me to post sooner than later. Links are at the bottom of this post. Or, for choose your own adventure, click here and/or here.

This is in large part about the use of a term that she and I disagree on – use of which I find dangerously confusing here in NC in 2016. There is a second part I publicly commented on with her, in the session last week, in front of my brand new unknown colleagues.

Here’s my letter I dream finds its way to her incredible social justice activist heartmindbody:

Hi Rosetta, amazing leader in change-making,

Thank you for journeying down here to the southeast USA so much! I am the genderqueer folk from __ who shared that I’d helped work to get you to ___, as co-clerk of the committee through which __ called for you specifically. As a new staffer at __, I was so delightfully eager to hear and learn from you.

There were two examples in the day, Wednesday, August 17, 2016, at __, when I struggled as the only self-identified and out trans staffer.

I wanted to discuss further with you. Alas, time-space has its limits. Here is a remote/digital form of my querying.

I was so uncomfortable standing for the up-downs exercise, I did not see if you raised your hand as other than cis-gendered. Online, the pronouns she/her are used towards you. I dared to stand up in any way I could, as a potential resource for students and staff. There was no sense of standing proudly for me, as you instructed. I am too new at this school to know… I’ve belatedly heard that you were seen to raise your hand for the up-downs of, “Neither male nor female work for you.” Of course, we could present the up-downs with 8 or 50 or… 200 options for folks, unpacking gender more fully the way race and ethnicity were. I know you know that. I only mention it because many many more people might have stood if the distinctions were furthered, regarding gender nonconforming, any expression other than male or female, and then on to clarities like transgender, genderqueer, agender, etc etc.

I appreciate your naming a couple of times that you are more interested in action than language. That’s good clean fun and actively progressively useful! And -as ever- a both/and situation. The poetics of naming -phew- matter in this season of trans visibility. The two examples regarding language (unpacked below) felt crucial, for me, especially in that they could have confused people regarding trans lives/experience/politics, in NC in 2016 no less.

1st example: transgender as a sexuality

I wish I’d had time to ask you to:

Please share more of how you come to understand and reinforce the term transgender as a sexuality.

You stopped a teacher from interrupting you, after they’d asked why you included transgender as a sexuality. Their interruption was flowing towards something like that they had understood it as a term of gender identity. You explained that the gender identity of anyone can be mis-read or fluid… something to that effect (which is accurate!) You added, in different words, that someone gender nonconforming, depending if they are partnered or attracted to a man, woman or whathaveyou, allows the originally referenced person to be in a transgender sexually attracted dynamic? …I am not clear on your meaning/distinction by this point in the dialogue…

I delight and giggle at my own tightness around use of transgender as a sexuality. Any such condensing feeling marks a growing edge, a sensitive period, a zone of proximal development, something for me to pay attention to!

This encounter I describe was the only interruption in the day, with all staff together, when you held your hand up, palm out, at shoulder height – powerfully. This was the only time someone asked a question from a countering view and you held your ground – stopped them from interrupting you – hand up, palm out, in the air at face height, beautifully full-on Supremes style – thus your response landed as significant important correct?!?!

You got that theatrical performative intensification many script writers only dream of – and it was organic, on-the-spot, in real time, real life. Thus, the weightiness or gravity to your doubling down on your interpretation and use of transgender was amplified.

We were invited repeatedly to be more interested in our response to things, rather than getting hung-up on this or that terminology

I am so curious about your doubling down on your perception and use of transgender as a sexuality.

As you pointed to, there is power in naming “normative” gender as cis-, to counter a historical pattern of uniquely referencing more marginalized identities. Cis- is a way to call out/in mainstream genders.

The T in LGBT has been discerned as a gender and not a sexuality with such effort in media and academia etc. To confuse that in this era of (national and local and global) trans visibility is confounding.

I perceive that the T is about self-hood, not who you love.

As the only self-identified genderqueer person in the audience, it was discomfiting to witness this exchange.

One can identify as gender nonconforming and cisgender simultaneously. I dare suggest every single person, cis- or no, is gender nonconforming. That’s part of the wonderful freedom we transgender folks have to offer the world, just as soon as everybody realizes the usefulness and the emptiness of DNA or plumping based binaries!

I am not certain how you self-identify and do not want to unskillfully project. In case you do identify as a:

  • Woman / cis-woman (gender?)
  • Lesbian (sexuality?) Though this does imply homo/same. Thus the gender id of both parties is possibly revealed. Oh binary. A transwoman who chooses to pass could be within the lesbian territory and often is!
  • Or in case you do identify as gender nonconforming, but not as transgender or genderqueer,

…it may have been as it felt – that you flexed some cis-privilege?

As a (the!?) genderqueer and transgender person in the room, I disagree/d with your interpretation and defense of your use of the term transgender.

Alas, Hail to:

Bisexuals

Pansexuals

I’m sure I’m unaware of many other terms that could suffice…

These terms beautifully meet your meaning, I think.

They seem to meet your point regarding either the perceived and or inner gender identity for any attraction or sexual encounter… noh?! Bisexuality and pansexuality are sadly overly invisibilized too! We could use both terms oftener and educate even more preciously and lovingly about binary and nonbinary sexuality!? Yah?

Part of the energy of my response is about invisibility and marginalization – as all of your national touring work aims to expose and heal. To slide transgender identity into the sexuality realm can obscurate the struggles to simply use the bathroom we are fighting for here in NC.

Never mind the beatings, murders, and suicides that unfortunately increase, with the visibility we didn’t ask for from odd state legislation. (Though it is not odd at all, if we understand the history of state politics by design pushing against national and smaller/local governing fronts.)

One can identify as a transgender asexual.

In other words, to identify as transgender is not telling me anything about one’s sexuality.

One can be a genderqueer pansexual, a transmasculine bisexual, an agender pansexual, a gay trans man, a straight trans man, a lesbian trans woman, a straight trans woman, and on and on…

So, again, I am open to being re-educated about what the term transgender means.

This precious new article speaks from some middle school age folks today, these brilliant evolvers of language and gender – and they are in alignment still with my understanding of transgender. Curious. And I sure love to lean on pre-adolescents to keep up with what’s what any day. Link below as well.

2nd example: danger of trans-enough-ing qualifying

Later in a breakout session for pre-K – lower school staff, I did speak out, after you expressed that “really really really trans” folks tend to self-identify around 3-years-old, with insistence, persistence, and consistence.

You did ground your frames and models as tools only, not to be swallowed whole. Alas, you are in a power position in the role you serve schools across the nation. What you emphasize and speak illustratively to and make a slide for becomes “expert” data, swallowed more wholly maybe than you even ever intend…

You speak fast and identify as a scientist which translate into much intellectual privilege. Your presentation lands as expert info, whether you intend it or not, especially when your exposure to and life living with any topic at hand grossly outpaces the majority of the audience.

Good ol’ intention versus actions versus results. They are most often not in alignment for any of us.

This use of “really really really” plus the young age qualifier is inaccurate and potentially dangerous.

In many layers of gender and sexually diverse identities the “enough” ness – trans enough, bi enough, gay enough, lesbian enough ness is so so damaging.

I queried with my HT provider who is steeped in the medical field of providing healthcare for trans folks. They gasped at hearing of the reference to 3-yr-olds’ prevalence of identifying. There is no (ack, who cares) empirical scientific data to back up the claim regarding early childhood and “opposite” gender identifying.

A 3-year-old who can insistently, consistently, and persistently identify as “the opposite” gender from what they were labeled at birth only exposes that they have been brought up in a binary reinforcing culture – that there are only two clear choices.

Now, sadly, this is largely true for most of us still today. We’re working on it.

Nevertheless, touting such quantitative data in a qualitative field is, I think, dangerous for gender nonconforming, non binary, genderqueer children and olders getting further invisibilized – thus even continuingly further marginalized regarding physical, mental, and emotional health, and social/cultural equity.

 

Ahhh, breather here for humor at my tightness.

I sure do feel strongly about this stuff. Thanks for any laughing and reading along.

Breathing slow and deep is encouraged.

Rosetta, you seemed to graciously understand my point here about qualifying, quantifying, and binary reinforcing, as we spoke publicly. Thank you for that!

Another note is how many folks’ personal histories expose how utterly unknowable and/or inaccessible alternate options were regarding gender identity in their youth. All sorts of privilege and random and profound life incidents play into how and when people self-identify as trans or gender variant.

As I mentioned Wednesday, in some soon years, maybe in this current generation, this particular note could become irrelevant. Attention and visibility for trans existence abounds, whether we are ready or not.

Note: the day after our workshop, NC court-battling legislative legalities doubled down on trying to scientifically dismantle the existence of transgender people. It is fun to live here right now, feels dandy, let me tell yuh.

For folks around my age and older, to be validated or invalided according to when they/we intrapersonally became convinced of their gender self-identity can be incredibly harmful, unskillful at minimum.

In some brevity, this is all about marginalization and invisibility.

The fight for gay marriage invisibilized the T in LGBTIQ for many years in recent history.

Now the T is loudly in the media.

And it will be many painful years before nonbinary genderqueer folks gain any traction of safety or social equity with any visibility.

For now, of course, the visibility for both binary and nonbinary transgender/gender nonconforming/genderqueer folks feels threatening, especially here in NC – which includes cis-gender identified, gender nonconforming, sexually queer folks!

I dare to take the time-space to express my thoughts, even as I see how wonderfully full your schedule is as you travel and lead in so many awesome inclusivity-diversity efforts.

I feel I must wield the many forms of voice and/or privilege I do have, to help make visible mine and so many others’ invisibility, and our presently painfully further marginalized existence as genderqueer, nonbinary, agender, gender nonconforming.

I understand you may absolutely include yourself in this experience, identity, and tenderness!

Please consider how you teach to the identity development of marginalized gender variant folks as happening more legitimately in early childhood. This may be a unique distinction from most other marginalized identities which are, as you say, unavoidably explored earlier in life than most privileged identities. This is only relevant or valuable in context of the external/environmental/societal/cultural/systemic binary.

How can we all present and explore this data with more breath for the spectra?

There were other interesting discrepancies noted between gender & sexual diversity and other forms of diversity… ever more growing and evolving, with the thinking and learning around this wonderful tender living experience. That people are beaten, murdered, and suicide over much of this identity territory calls me to action!

Love and peace and ease to Hande Kader’s chosen family, friends, and ALL!

with sp a c e,

elliott

p.s. There’s a hilarious twist interpretable here, where i could be seen to be cruelly pointing towards Rosetta as not trans enough! My query is more, really, what she means by transgender and is she trans identified or how is she trans identified. that bit could use some clearing, before i then went on into the second example…  Yah, I’m stepping in it! I wish I could communicate with Rosetta. Phew. I am open to dialog – to be called in. Please and Thank You.

A gay middle schooler relieved to meet a transgender girl on the first day of school.

A wonderful trans 101 primer from a self identified genderqueer transgender person – worth the read and thought provocation!

 

listen. differently.

July 18, 2016

DSCN4814listen differently. to your child,

DSCN4799

listen. differently. to your familiar news media, your parent, your neighbor, your lover…

DSCN4793

listen.

DSCN4820

differently.

DSCN4789

to your friend, spouse, frenemy at work…

DSCN4801

differently listen to your sibling, your best mate, your teacher…

DSCN4817

.

DSCN4806

listen to your heart…

DSCN4803

your feet differently contacting the earth… listen   (   (  (  (  ( ( ( (((

DSCN4792there are familiar pathways for sound in your neurons.

DSCN4787grow new ones!

DSCN4811be changed by what you hear 12 inches below your ears…

DSCN4807be the change…

DSCN4798

 

20 Questions for Memorial Day

May 30, 2016
  • How can you have your ideology and I have mine, and we freely enjoy common sources for food and oxygen and art and education?
  • How does our identity grow compassion? How does it grow conflict and war?
  • How can we allow creative co-existence for all physical and mental expressions/abilities, all genders, for all races, all religions and atheisms, all cultures, and for all organizing structures?12552820_1133990649959493_1479680752676447220_n
  • How do humans manifest religions and then ever become convinced that there is some ultimate source for beliefs?
  • What can be undone?
  • What can be done?
  • Why are folks not jealous when another is in trouble, in need, suffering, but jealous of another who is happy, healthy, enough?
  • How can my suffering be a remedy for all suffering?
  • How can precariat creative class organizers, in an effort to slow down gentrification, act with knowledge and respect that this struggle comes after communities of people of color have already been displaced?
  • How can a focus on my relative imperfections enlighten your ultimate perfect-ness?
  • How will our struggles over access to oil and water ever stir into enough?
  • Why does that uniformed human invoke a sense of relief or unease? Is it the cloth? The person inside the cloth?
  • Why is it predicted that soon we will see the right wing populist movement manifesting more government welfare programs?
  • How is not-enough-ing distinct from never-enough-ing?
  • How can we heal from scarcity driven capitalism?
  • How is this time of haves versus have-nots different from any other?
  • Why does perceived space seem to stretch time?
  • How does obscuration of our interdependence continue to be possible, even as the evidence of it gets clearer and clearer?
  • How are we convinced that consuming culture, romance, vacuums, and new shoes will save us?
  • How are these questions dependent on my privilege? My lack of agency?

    Anatomy of War Smith & Wesson by Noah Scalin

    Anatomy of War: Smith & Wesson           by Noah Scalin

  • How is another deployment or bomb going to teach children that we have learned from our history?
  • How much do health and happiness cost?
  • How can we honor the lost, the dead?
  • How is it useful to have an inhale and an exhale?

It is uncanny how these 3 different sources overlap in their clear awareness of what our challenges are and their ideas for what-to-do:

  1. incredible history lessons here (worth e.v.e.r.y minute 1:48:30), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO2kXaVd5gc
  2. a lovely lengthy writing on queerness and polyamory, http://www.makezine.enoughenough.org/newpoly2.html
  3. a confounding and humorous display of understanding and compassion (57:47), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAvM3GTXRtc&app=desktop

13151975_10204751180498845_6222537615051444133_n

surrounding death

March 4, 2016

love and life

3

surround

4

birth and death

6

with your sp a c e today

January 18, 2016

what will you do…

DSCN4517

sing

DSCN4511

march

DSCN4515

cry

DSCN4503

walk

DSCN4512

scream

DSCN4504

grieve

DSCN4513

sigh

DSCN4506

rest

DSCN4502

act

rest, sigh, grieve, scream, walk, cry, march, sing, dance, act…

 

Gee’s Bent

November 24, 2015

Whhuh. I made it to Gee’s Bend.

What a wonderful and heart-wrenching day.

I am as organically bent, reshaped, by the generosity and patience of that community

as are their signature nonlinear stiches and quilt block edges.

And now, as ever, I have a bent for Gee’s Bend.

recommended reading* and my Gee’s Bend Quilters’ Collective original below

Doris Pettway let me quilt on her latest with her for hours. Her mother, Leola, and sister China are in the documentary film: "The Quiltmakers of Gee's Bend."

As a self-taught not-technically-skilled quilter who machines and hand knots on the floor, how’s this for my first time ever quilting on a frame and being shown proper technique!

Doris Pettway (above) let me quilt on her latest with her for 2+ hours. Her mother, Leola, and her sister, China, have quilts amongst those published and are in the documentary film: “The Quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend.” I had driven all around Gee’s Bend (no interest in Camden) and wasn’t finding the Collective building itself, thus the pulling into the ferry welcome center for guidance. What a diversion!

This ferry welcome center is designed with wonderful natural light and panelled walls that look quilted.

The ferry welcome center is designed with wonderful natural light and wood paneled walls that look quilted.

 

You can see a portion of my rows lower down, and Doris's rows above. I do not rock the needle as deftly and cannot get my stitches as short.

You can see a portion of my rows in the lower half, and Doris’s rows above. I do not rock the needle as deftly and cannot get my stitches as short.

Below are some miksang images for inspiration down the road in my quilting practice.

(per Sherri Lynn Wood’s idea to collect sketches and ideas thusly…)

from Orrville, AL:

DSCN4213

DSCN4212

 

 

 

 

.

from Montgomery, AL: none other than windows of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church

DSCN4224

DSCN4225

 

 

 

 

.

from Auburn, AL environs:

DSCN4171

DSCN4204DSCN4198

 

It just isn’t manifesting in words, how incredible and unplanned, how auspicious, uplifting and saddening this day was. I left ~6am; thought I’d be in Montgomery by noon. After driving and crying away from Gee’s Bend, and after no food all day until a frightening Chinese restaurant lunch in Selma ~2pm (I never expected to stay in Gee’s Bend so long), I finally leaned into Maya Lin’s Civil Rights Memorial sculpture ~4pm and cried some more. The SPLC receptionist asked how I was, saw my face, and asked if I wanted to see the film, it’s only 18 minutes, she said. Yes, I said. I needed to sit down alone in a dark room and sob differently. It was cleansing and horrifying and wonderful.

My original Gee's Bend Quilters' Collective treasure, signed by a Mary L. Pettway, 2012. approx. 1sq. ft. I was happy to learn that all the monies stay in the community now; the messy indebtedness to some middle man type arrangement from the peak fame boom has expired.

My original Gee’s Bend Quilters’ Collective treasure, signed by Mary L. Pettway, 2012. approx. 1sq. ft. This was all I could afford that exemplifies the organic quality of patching and quilting that the Collective is famous for. I was happy to learn that all the monies stay in the community now; the messy indebtedness to some middle man type arrangements from the peak fame boom has expired.

By the time the day’s hosts of the Collective building were ready for me and showed me around and shared much of their experience living in Gee’s Bend, contending with outsiders like me, how family members are, and a holiday dessert recipe, I forgot to take any photos of the stunning quilts I saw. As I feel and smell and see my memories fading, I’m okay to not have taken any such more from them…

In preparing for this trip, I found no dependably current info, and had to trust all would work out… Posts and blogs and articles about Gee’s Bend seemed to cease ~2012. Though there is interesting info out there.

Remember why the Gee’s Bend ferry service was suspended for 44! years between 1962-2006, arghhh.

A commenter on this post bemoans the uninspiring machine work and store-bought fabrics they found: http://deepsouthmag.com/2012/04/the-future-of-gees-bend/

I was prepared for being disappointed by the status of the quilters’ quality of life after decades of being exploited, and maybe by less than inspiring quilt work.

I found incredibly sincere and kind and open people all over that place, with all the outdoor signs abounding, and a certain directness about their experience with folks having taken advantage of them in the past.

There is an even mix of store-bought and scrap fabric, and machine and hand techniques used in the quilts available to see and/or purchase. Doris was working with new fabric, yet she hand-pieced the morning star patchwork in that king sized quilt we were stitching. I can’t imagine ever hand-piecing patchwork… Yet, after my experience with Doris, I have a feel and appreciation for hand quilting that I plan to explore further.

A fun one on another quilter’s visit: http://katespaindesigns.blogspot.com/2013/01/quilting-crossroads-gees-bend-alabama.html#.VlUu1SaFNMt

A dense one covering the closer in community politics as well as larger cultural politics involved and great expressions from some of the quilters themselves: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/fabric-of-their-lives-132757004/?sessionGUID=1aa9062e-8399-9a57-38a3-d0a108901622&no-ist=&page=1

A great source of thumbnail images of so many of the quilts: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/other/geesbend/explore/catalog/slideshow/index.htm

*Please share your sources on Gee’s Bend info!

improving improv

November 18, 2015

DSCN4145

i’ve figured out/remembered some things from that bone marrow kinda breath place… it is, paradoxically, setting limits that allows for experience of freedom. Sherri Lynn Wood‘s way of articulating in her book is medicine. i can feel/smell/taste/remember oddly, now, that indeed i was improv-ing during my failed strings attempt. i had the experiential down. i was just missing awareness of what my limits/parameters were, to tolerate the freedom.

such origin or rootedness or dependence on limits/ground/suchness/place-before-space is not actual in interdependent contingent reality! such limits are simply the temporary assumptions, the useful agreements and/or habits, that have an expiring life-span/thought-cycle… to be put down asap. there is no ground or idealist monism worth our time …in the end, baddum tshhh.

DSCN4149

but/and/ahem/alas/alack improv quilting practice is every bit as awakening, for me, as brushstroke or miksang or the particular preliminary ngondro i’ve dared to practice (versus simply truly live into). oh, f@#&! accumulation of merit or any spiritual materialism. when ground dissolves and you find yourself still breathing, it is a thing – it’s happening – worth noting for a sec and then you, please, continue diving above air and surfacing under water. it’s an awesome non thing to allow and get out of the way of…

DSCN4146this quilt is of the floating squares score in the book linked above. starting with large scale squares kept the process simple and moving along… limiting the fabrics could have helped quiet this one down. when it came time to quilt, scalloped lines seemed an obvious balance to all the corners. this one’s an example where the strong contrasting piece binding holds this floating design together (versus the spacious fold over binding used in #2 here).

DSCN4150