Lots of great things are happening right now in the Ruckus-sphere as a result of lots of hard work and prep, so I wanted to take a minute to update friends and family, as well as just acknowledge positive results, progress, and fruits of our labor! So exciting.

Before heading to my parents’ place in Wisconsin last week, I was up on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound for a week, training folks in direct action climbing as part of Ruckus’s Localize This! Action Camp.

[Check out our news coverage on Seattle’s King 5 news!  That’s me in the black demonstrating a controlled rappel;)]

It was an excellent camp, and one of the greatest things about it was the direct connection to action. The camp was formatted to help the local Vashon community prepare to stop a multinational corporation from developing a gravel mine. The trainings felt all the more impactful with the majority of participants thinking about how they were going to incorporate their new skills into upcoming action campaigns.

And then this morning some of our folks did a kickass action up in Toronto against the Royal Bank of Canada, protesting their bankrolling of the Alberta Tar Sands (through Rainforest Action Network‘s divestment campaign).

I got a text message at 5am this morning saying that the banner-action was happening, and it made my day to watch as the photos rolled in of two of the amazing women in Ruckus’s IP3 (Indigenous Peoples’ Power Project) network (one who is also a Ruckus board member) who I’d just gotten to hang out with on Vashon two weeks ago – climbing RBC headquarters’ flagpoles and unfurling the banner. (Luckily it went much better than it did in the crazy dreams I had when I drifted back off to sleep after reading the text message!)

It’s great to see results. Training in Action!

Something else I’ve been up to at Ruckus is managing the launch of our new website and blog which have both been in major need of rehaul for years now. While we had amazing folks at Tumis and Radical Designs do the design and implementation, I get to deal with the content management – I basically spent months [virtually] filing, and adding new content. We’ve still got some quirks to work out (if you find one, let me know!), but I’m super stoked to have our new site and blog up and running!

So, check out the new site, and my posts from today about the camp and action!:

my blog post: “putting training into ACTION”

more on today’s toronto action


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i could get used to this

day #4 at my parents’ house in jim falls, wi

i could get used to this…

…spiff running around care-free in my parents’ back yard, off-leash – 40 acres of quintessential rural wisconsin land.  pouncing on grasshoppers and chasing butterflies and bees.

…flannel sheets – even in the summer, my mom knows that flannel sheets really are the coziest.

…sleeping in til 8, 9, 10… waking up whenever my body feels like it.  no alarms.  no immediate sense of panic about what i have to do, what i’m late for, what i’ll never get done.

…napping on the porch swing.  enough said.

…sitting on the deck in perfect summer weather.  just sitting and being.

…slowly preparing food to share with loved ones.  no rush, no stress.  i can clean fresh green beans all afternoon.

…my parents’ endless bad ‘jokes’ and the way jess laughs every time.

…my mom sneaking spiff extra treats, like a grandma spoiling her grandkid.

…the lakes.  the rivers.  fresh water.

…the deep relief and comfort of home, and family.  admiration, respect, gratitute and love for the amazing people who raised me to become who i am.

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beyond prop 8

well, as we all know, the CA supreme court announced yesterday that they decided to uphold prop 8 (the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage). disappointing, yes – the proposition never should have passed in the first place.

in the wake of the announcement, RaceWire – the online blog of ColorLines Magazine – posted two really amazing articles (quite bravely, i would say) challenging the assumption that we should all continue to fight endlessly for gay marriage “until the battle is won”.

i posted my own opinions about marriage back before the election.  now, in a post-prop 8 world, these two articles state my mindframe pretty damn clearly, so i thought i’d share them here (i pretty much want to just quote the whole articles, but i’ll try to limit myself.  just please go read the full articles – neither are long!).

Prop 8 is a Distraction, or: NOW can we Dump Gay Marriage as a Cause?” by Yasmin Nair

“Over the last decade or so, well-endowed gay organizations and some influential gay commentators have manipulated media attention to make the world believe that there is nothing that would make our lives happier than the attainment of gay marriage…

“We’re allowing ourselves to be distracted by the tactics of the Right and forgetting that marriage should never have been our goal to begin with. At best, the goal of marriage is a symbolic and sentimental one…

“There’s been much talk about how this ruling will now make it easier to take rights away from all minorities. This assumes, of course, that ethnic/racial identity is the only way through which people identify themselves and ignores the fact that several groups in California and elsewhere have already watched their rights being eroded. For, instance, California’s prison system is notorious for its ill treatment of prisoners. But, ah, of course, gays and lesbians have nothing to do with the prison population. Or with rights other than the right to get married and retreat into the safety of our normal lives. As we quibble about marriage, it’s easy to forget that a rise in poverty and the lack of health care means that large segments of society are already denied their rights to decent education, housing, and a sense of security about their well-being…”

I Don’t Want Marriage, I Want Equity” by Tracy Kronzak

“…the right wing coined the term “Special Rights”: giving people legal protection just because of whom they are sleeping with. I posit that marriage is the ultimate Special Right. It gives privileges, rights and protections (1100 and counting) to people based on whom they are sleeping with…

“Eliminating the legal rights and privileges associated with marriage actually gives us an amazing opportunity to build bridges between the LGBT communities and many others working for equity and justice. It gets us out of our “me-too” mentality when it comes to marriage and broadens the Queer community’s perspective to a “we-too” framework…”

Thank you RaceWire!

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for peanut butter lovers only

if you’re not a hard core peanut butter lover, turn back now.

after running 9 miles this morning (training for the run for burma), i decided i wanted a big pile of pancakes.  so i headed to the kitchen and immediately starting mixing up the batter – one of a few “recipes” i have committed to memory.

i have long used a version of the garden of vegan‘s pancake recipe that i personally modified, and i often change it up a bit – using oats, adding chopped nuts, using different kinds of flour (never ever use soy flour in pancakes – lesson learned), corn meal, and of course chocolate chips and blueberries (not together), etc.

the ripe mashed banana is the vegan’s standby binding ingredient instead of eggs, and many times i use banana in pancakes, but i learned awhile ago that you don’t even really need any egg substitute and they turn out fine – just use a little more rice milk/soy milk/water.  (i think there are lots of baking conspiracies – like baking powder and soda – do those ambiguous little white powders actually do anything?  i rarely use the right amounts or sometimes leave one or the other out entirely, and things always turn out fine for me).  plus, sometimes you get tired of everything tasting like banana.

but today – today, i had the grand idea. as i was mixing the rice milk into my flour mixture, i looked up and saw the jar of peanut butter.


why haven’t i tried this before? i thought to myself, and scooped a heaping spoonful into the batter.

10 minutes later i had my big pile of pancakes with the new peanut butter addition.  and, well – would i immediately post it on my blog if it wasn’t divine??!

the one downfall – i nearly puked after scarfing the whole pile of pancakes down – i ate all of them from the photo (damn, why did i use the chipped plate?!) PLUS the one giant pancake not shown – you know, the last one when you scoop the rest of the batter out thinking it’s not that much and then you end up with a pancake the size of the pan?  yeeaaaah.

so here’s the “recipe” from today:

1 cup flour: 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 unbleached white

1/2 tsp-ish baking powder

i was out of baking soda, but you could probably throw in 1/4-1/2 tsp of that, too (again – i think it’s a conspiracy)

1/4-1/3 cup rolled oats

1 cup rice milk

1/3-1/2 cup water

2-3 Tbsp (?) natural crunchy peanut butter

(this should probably feed two people…)

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bubble curtain

i finally finished knitting this curtain for our bathroom window. it’s the “bubbly curtain” pattern from mason dixon knitting.

the idea is that it’s supposed to still let light through, but everyone shouldn’t see you… the pattern concept was supposedly of champagne bubbles floating up.

i knit this with elsebeth lavold’s hempathy yarn (cotton/hemp blend), which i love, on size 6 needles.

this photo is actually kind of fake, as i’m waiting for jess to get home to move the curtain rod lower… this is actually only going to cover the lower window pane, and leave the top pane open for more light to come in.  this was partly intentional (i wanted to be done, and was trying to convince jess that this was a valid idea), and partly not (my local yarn store no longer carries this particular yarn, and i ran out – i assumed this was a sign that my idea for only covering the lower window pane was the way to go).

anyway, i think it’s pretty, and it really made me appreciate lace, even though this is a super simple pattern as far as lace goes.

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marshmallow recipe for success

i’ve been listening to radiolab (this american life‘s scientist cousin) ever since my brother introduced me to it over christmas last year.  as with most things, i go in streaks where i don’t listen to it (or simply forget about it) for weeks, and then suddenly listen to a bunch of episodes back to back.  tonight was one such night when i’ve listened to 4 so far, and the night is still young (and there are plenty of rows left to knit on this curtain…).

the last episode i listened to was called “Mischel’s Marshmallows”, about this 40-year-long experiment that has been studying the relationship between four year olds’ ability to delay gratification, and how successful they become later in life.

the experiment starts with 500 four-year-olds in the 1960’s – each is taken into an empty room and given a marshmallow.  they are told that they can eat that one marshmallow now, or, if they wait, they can have two marshmallows. then they are left in the room while people watch their struggle with temptation through a two-way mirror (apparently, wildly entertaining).

i remember learning about this experiment in psychology 101, but i didn’t remember some of the conclusions that were drawn from it.  first, there appears to be evidence that human brains go through a cognitive development around the age of 4 that gives them the ability to delay gratification – ie will power (3 year-olds couldn’t resist the marshmallowy temptation).  ok, fine.

however, they also started drawing correlations between the existence of will power at age 4, and general success (scholastic aptitude, physical fitness, career) as those 4yo’s grew up; as well as the lack of will-power at age 4, and general non-success growing up (they cited getting suspended from school, obesity, “at-risk” youth, etc.).  namely – the kids who didn’t cave in to the marshmallow, grew up to be smart and successful (by whatever mainstream standards that is measured); and those who couldn’t resist, were deemed failures.

i can’t say anything for sure about the experiment itself’s official conclusions, but i was disappointed with how radiolab presented these correlations.  there’s the famous scientific principle that correlation does not equal causation, but the show seemed to get dangerously close to ignoring that.

the experiment seemed to wholly ignore any sort of assessment of the subject’s life when they were four, at the beginning of the experiment.  and in fact, the whole thing was an afterthought – Mischel decided to re-study the original subjects five or six years after the original test after a casual conversation with his daughters which seemed to reveal that the kids who had failed the temptation test were not doing as well in school as those who had succeeded (in the daughters’ estimation).  so presumably no data was collected about the kids originally – only in subsequent tests.  so we have no idea how successful or unsuccessful the kids were doing when they originally took the test.

i’m no scientist, and not a parent (unless you count my dog spiff), but it seems pretty evident to me that the kids’ environment growing up must play a significant role in whether or not a kid is able to exhibit will-power at the age of four.  and this most likely sets them up on a life path… “successful” or “unsuccessful” (and, i would argue – many places inbetween, outside of, etc.).  there are so many factors in the kids’ lives – parenting methods, class, race, location, etc. – that impact how many opportunities kids have to learn about will power and its possible benefits, as well as tools for resisting the need for instant gratification.  it is really a shame that the experiment didn’t have data like this about the original four-year-old subjects.

i also wonder about kids who gained will power later than 4 years old.  if they were simply “late will-power bloomers”, did that diminish their rate of success later in life?  was their fate really determined by whether or not they had it or not at age 4?

this experiment certainly is interesting, though, in how it shows just how early some life habits and learned tools impact a person’s overall path in life.  that a simple will power test at the age of 4 can be a pretty reliable indicator of how much a person has learned so far, and is likely to carry with them throughout life, is pretty amazing.  human development is crazy if you ask me.

this also begs the question – what would a will-power test look like for adults?  how do we measure the ability to delay gratification later in life?  billions of dollars in advertising are spent specifically to wage war on people’s will power, and our economy thrives on people’s need for instant gratification.  what would the wall street bailouts say about bonus recipients?

i bet they all ate the marshmallow when they were little.

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obama era post-racism

conclusions being drawn from the latest NY Times/CBS poll about americans’ perspectives on race relations in the U.S. show that since obama was elected, there has been a significant increase in people – of all races – feeling like race relations are better now.



now, i remember november 4th, 2008 – i was at home, without a tv – when around 8pm (pst) there was a sudden roar outside on the street.  crowds who were watching the election results at the parkway speakeasy theatre (RIP) right behind my apartment, had poured out onto the streets, hooting and hollering, dancing and playing instruments, all celebrating obama’s victory.  awhile later, jess and i walked outside to see what all was happening, and as we walked around our neighborhood, there was a marked difference: everyone – no matter who – was smiling and making eye contact and talking to everyone else – no matter who.  it was a nice change.  but it was a moment – a very specific moment in history.

are people still drunk on the obama kool-aid?  thinking that all is well between the races now that a black (mixed) man is in the white house?  overwhelmingly, i think it is so true that americans (people?) trust a “general feeling” so much more than actual facts.  we rarely reconcile the two, even when the facts are right in front of our faces.  and with most facts being very intentionally buried under the corporate media machine, it’s even harder to reconcile feeling from fact.

*PAUSE:  i am in no way trying to invalidate or deem irrational, knowledge based on intuition and emotion, or holding science-based “rational” decisions over the emotional, felt-sense.*

however, i do think that we are deliberately bombarded with so much propaganda and “manufactured consent”, that our “felt-sense” is highly manipulatable (did i make that word up?).  and the vast majority of those in power would love for the masses to have this feel-good view of race relations now, and declare racism over.

jon stewart hosted presidential historian doris kearns-goodwin on the daily show last week to talk about obama’s first 100 days, and she talked about how a sign of “good” leadership (i would say “powerful”) is when people have this feel-good feeling, like things are going in a good direction.  it certainly appears to me that obama has achieved this – most americans have that feeling – about politics, and about race relations.  people are patting themselves on the back for a job well-done, getting obama elected, and getting over a massive racist hurdle.

so what do i think is so wrong with this? if most people – of all races – are feeling better about relations between races – isn’t that a good thing?

as much as i acknowledge that you have to believe in something to help (not make) it come true, i do not believe that people just thinking racism is dead is going to “manifest” the same.

i think the danger lies in the difference between reality and perception.  the fact that people think race relations have improved, actually brings us a step (or several) backwards in the struggle for racial equality and liberation.  it makes us even more blind to the hard truths about racial disparities, and less motivated to address these issues.

all in all, this “improved race relations” perception is another symptom of the disease that spreads across the left when democrats gain control of our government – complacency and armchair activism increase.  people have a “feeling” that things are decidedly “better” than when republicans are in control – and proceed to sit back and trust our government officials to do the right thing – instead of getting out and demanding (and creating) solutions.

one thing may be true – that there is more opportunity for improvement at this moment – in race relations, politics in general – but the danger lies in people believing it will come from those in office.  it has only ever, and will only ever – come from us.

Racewire ran a great article about the ny times poll:  “Doublespeak on ‘race relations'”

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