This week is the first week of Year of the Tiger and it looks like we've climbed on its back to ride it in. In other words, not fighting it, or trying to slow it down, but celebrating. As all Lunar Years swing toward balance, our Tiger, less patient than other years, goes full throttle. Following years of excess, the years of the "fat cats," gaining balance might be a bit rough, but worth the ride.
We didn't plan it this way but starting from Saturday, we have scheduled something requiring serving food, playing music and inviting crowds every two to four days. A little crazy but in retrospect at the end of each time, fun. Saturday was the Chili Feed Benefit for the Winnemem Wintu New Zealand trip -- sending the wardancers to the southern island, along the Rakaia River hosted by the Ngai Tahu of the Maori. We woke to a sunny clear day rather than the predicted storm from northern CA. Good news? The noon time call from Chief Caleen Sisk Franco was that the clouds must have been snagged by the mountains because it had been snowing all day long. They were dressed and ready to go, however, it never stopped snowing. They would not be able to come. Will went into plan B and raced to rent a projector and without stopping, raced on to the office to bring the Chief through a short video to the chili feast guests by virtual tech.
The Chili Feast was organized by Marcy who puts a high priority on minimizing stress and maximizing hospitality. No problem with "change" for a ten dollar bill because everyone, absolutely everyone eats. Ruth sat behind a table with a tri-fold poster about the Winnemem -- the sacred places -- with a jar for donations, envelopes, information, and guests go there whenever they feel like it to donate to the Winnemem. After conversation, people lined up to big bowls of chili, green salad, rolls and sitting at the tables with friends they haven't seen for awhile. Then came time for the short program before dessert. Marcy talked to the crowd from her heart about the Winnemem. Will brought the Chief to the crowd, full regalia, speaking in front of the capital at Sacramento. No one had heard a leader speak about what Caleen talked about -- responsibility, spiritual work for the Sacred Places, care for the water, for the earth, and people responded. In our lives, some of us in our 60's and 70's we have waited a long time for this kind of message. Following her words were her tribal members from elders to little articulate future leader Jason speaking Norel Putis' words from 100 years ago speaking for their Precious Land. Finally Caleen spoke with firmness and strength asking President Obama the same question her ancestor did -- "Is there justice for the Winnemem?" Just tell us. The audience responded to the video, to Caleen, and contributed over $800 that night.
Two days later, desserts in hand, we went to the Longhouse to set up for the visit from the McKenzie River Gathering, a foundation funding socially responsible work. Does the Winnemem Support Group fit into their vision? We are Eugene based but California focused but we had argued that the political state boundaries are not the boundaries of salmon, river and mountain range. MRG staff, Anita listened carefully, asking questions her grantmakers want to know. We are a unique organization in that we are not centered on meetings and agendas; rather our center is the Fire, the ceremonies, our leaders and the calls for action which comes with regularity from the war dancers and leaders. We are kept busy and we have had many good victories with the Forest Service, with Nestles Water Corporation and had some lucky place in connecting Winnemem with lawyers which instituted their law suit and Latin American indigenous leaders who value the Winnemem involvement in the UN level. Anita, the staff person, was very helpful and encouraged us to submit to the later funding circle. She assured us if Oregon activists could support Central America work as does CISCAP, we certainly can support the Winnemem work in California.
Two days later, we were at the Longhouse again. Wilma made the coffee. Will was setting up chairs. Misa was putting up the tri-fold display -- and then placing a flyer of the TK3 Cuba Trip on each chair for an April Cuba Conference. The mocha rum cake with Viva Cuba went out last so the whipped cream remained perky. The crowd began to arrive early and soon the Longhouse was filled by about 60 or more people, enough the temperature inside begab to rise. We talked about Cuba, our impressions and experiences with the generosity and the huge sense of civic responsibility Cubans feel for their community and country. Will showed a short CNN news clip taken during the early days, Cuban doctors responding with admirable organization and efficiency helping those horribly injured by the earthquake in Haiti. Ignoring the media-blockade the young reporter gave us the little tiny piece of the news which covered the Cuban response. Will also showed a music video by one of the young TK3 people and his own Impressions. The glimpses of the humanity and the beauty of Cuba, a neighbor and friend of Americans that the blockade must come down, were received well. Carol Horne represented many many comments when she thanked us, "Thank you for blowing away all my stereotypes about Cuba." It is true. Cuba, Cuba's fifty year old revolution, is to be respected and enjoyed, and witnessed, not feared and hated.
I take the blockade very personally nbow because it separates me from my friends.That is what it will take -- amistur, not politics, the gente, not politicians.
That's what my friend Guadalupe would say.
I'm resting from last night and then noticed. Holy Moly! Feburary 1 is Monday. Twila and I are throwing a house part for Basic Rights for their Marriage Matters 2 Me campaign against Prop 8, California. So we will have to be off getting food, decorations for a party, hoping some will feel less camera shy and allow Key from Portland to shoot them on video saying why marriage matters to them. Equality. When the last guest is done, the video put away, the pink and red heart candy gone, we'll put our feet up, tired and instead of wondering, how did we manage to schedule four parties in a row, we'll take it as a big lesson for the sigh -- Year of the Rabbit! I don't see us having a bunch of babies, so we'll be safe!
Enjoy your ride on the tiger's back. Have fun while the balance shifts back!
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