For Valentines day

For all the people who have searched for this blog and searched out my life for whatever reason you have to be interested. he

I have two artistic interpretations for you on just what exactly is going on in my life right now. Also, Happy V day. I hope that you too have people that know you and love you and trust you that you can surround yourself with today and all days and that you give people the grace to apologize and love you if they have ever wronged you. It is the only true path to healing.

1. A poem and a wee lesson for the global society of truth tellers

written by Emily Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind—

and 2. because everyone needs to remember, and who doesn’t love a little Townes Folk funk to remind you…?

Narrow Valleys and Northern bullies

I am firm believer that life and all lives are cycles and that in those larger cycles are so many tinier cycles. It’s so complex when one really get’s into it. I have had so many relationships that ended after having come full circle to where they started. So it’s funny to see our time here in the hazelton’s be devastatingly ended by the same people who made our lives difficult in the beginning.

Archetypes are powerful things. We have all been telling the same story over and over and over in our own lives, but also in the universe. I have been the hero and the victim and the caregiver, but never the scapegoat, until now. It is a very old story, the one of the scapegoat, that has been repeated and repeated throughout history. The translation and rough etymology of scapegoating is first seen in the bible where people cram all their sins and badness into an actual goat and send it out to the desert to die, thus washing their hands of any wrong doing. It is also found in greek history where the people would take a “lesser person” and stone them out of town when the town suffered because of something like a natural disaster or some other horrible thing.

In much folklore and mythology scapegoats are generally strangers who are used by the local people/person to load their problems and their deep seated cyclical badness onto. It is a direct example of othering, and one that seems to work well in our society. It is often part of the reason that people commit suicide, and/or disappear/drop-out of society. It is also the basis of co-dependane and addiction.

But what happens in these stories when the scapegoat fights back and doesn’t accept the label or everyone’s shit? Well, the game doesn’t work as well as they’d hoped, and in many stories they, the persecutors are the ones who end up wounded (and/or dead) having to actually look at their own selves and not force their burdens on others.

It is a prime example of the cycle of abuse that so many people, communities and countries experience. It is the “you brought this on yourself” or “this is all your fault.” We are really really good at blaming others, especially when we see them as a threat.

We have been living in a community where I have been the target of the scapegoating for more than a year now. It has finally come around to be ended by a local community member writing lies and defamatory statements and threats in our local classified paper about me from a private conversation. So many people have been hurt in this process and I do not even know the depths to which the negativity of the past has affected my life cycle here. I am not interested in the negativity that this breeds in my own life either. I have been an abused person before, and I have no space for it. James and I are looking for a new place to call home and build a positive foundation on.

and so, in the end, here we stand at the beginning… as the sacrificial scapegoat: “the hero, with whom the welfare of the tribe or nation is identified, who must die to atone for the people’s sins and restore the land to fruitfulness.”

The pain and bullying and abuse is systemic in this community and within many communities inside this community. It has nothing to do with us except for the fact that we have helped to exposed it’s core by being blamed for it. We can only hope that the strongest people here will finally be willing to stand up and be a beacon of healing and possess the intense lightness and transparency required to heal some, possibly century old, cycles.

James wrote this song about Nelson, BC. We think it was also written about this place too, even though he didn’t know when he wrote it that he would ever be here (that’s part of the great joyous mystery of cycles after all, isn’t it!?).

This is a secret sneak leak from his upcoming album Imagineering (out digitally on February 29th!).  Because, one always needs to find a gift out of the garbage in any way they can… this is one of those moments:

Enjoy, and, we will see you somewhere soon,

hearts, Magpie

ps. if you do want to know the nitty gritty details and/or help somehow about things like bullying and defamation/libel concerns, you can ask and I WILL tell.

 

 

Rebel rousing… and a new poem.

reading at mashed poetics in vancouver, photo: Jim Tucker

My trip down south to perform at the Vancouver Youth Poetry slam, Tongues of Fire at the Solstice cafe in Victoria and then at the Mashed Poetics event in Vancouver was super charged and so profoundly positive I felt the great weight of winter lift and a clarity come to me that I have not felt in a long while.

There is a lot happening in the world right now. It seems many people are angry and frustrated and just as many are confused. Though it appears that, perhaps, the great anxiety of the 90’s has also lifted somewhat, and so here we are awake and standing fairly raw and partially barren due to the anger that seems to be growing in the world. We are also powerful in this if we tune in.

I have been working hard, very hard, to stay focused and positive and imagine myself a future that looks and acts and smells like the most creative, positive glimmering gift I can possibly think of. On tour, I asked my audiences what they would do in the coming months to make themselves the hands and minds of the agents of positive transformation in these our delicious end times. I ask them, so i can find the confidence in myself to lead… even just lead my own life with grace and positivity. A good friend did say that if I was one of the last people that it would likely be me to build a new religion. And, well… I agree. It would be profoundly positive and probably look a lot like montessori… where people are granted the respect and honour they deserve to study and learn whatever it is that they love and/or are interested in as equal to anyone else’s love, interest and talent (unless that would be money… because money just won’t exist where I am going… it’ll all be hard skill trade). It will be this way because my religion will always state that energy is not created or destroyed, and therefore we are a sum of everything recycled back through everything… living or not… As for rituals, well… storytelling would be at the heart of everything, because it very well may be…I’m still working out the kinks, Including a name… ideas?

On that note, my new friend Bruce, a conductor on the Northern Via train line implored me to write a poem for his train riding friends on my way home from tour. When I finished the long poem I said “here Bruce, this is why Via won’t let me join their on-board entertainment program.” He said he thought the poem would just make people think and asked “what’s wrong with people thinking?”  Good question Bruce, ask your boss (and Stephen Harper, just because)!!! The train is ridden by many many Europeans in the summer… lo and behold, wouldn’t they love to know that some Canadians maybe agree with their current sentiments re:tar sands, environmental policy etc..

Anyway, according to friends traveling to Prince Rupert to march against Enbridge last weekend, Bruce has left my poem up on the train, and I am thankful. Here it is for all of you:

Uncontrolled Crossings

1.

I have had four hours to write a poem.

I spent two restringing an un-tunable guitar

only to break a string in process

 

welcome to life

 

I tell my young friend Hunter

this is how it goes sometimes

it’s not about the strings

it’s about trying.

keep tossing coins

keep asking questions

practice says

that one day

you will likely catch one

of the answers

if not,

well,

that’s life too.

2.

Constant motion has always been

comfortable space for me

more comfortable

than sitting still

the ability to walk away from boring conversations

the privacy among strangers

rarely

if

ever, never possible

in small town life.

 

Constant motion with a window seat is even better.

Hoof tracks and marmot tracks and birds nests and changing cloud patterns

and burned northern mills and broken northern shacks

and woodsmoke and lots of places that people call

the middle of nowhere

and

and all the waiting and creeks, and rivers, and mountains, and lakes

so beautiful

creating even MORE possibilities for

MORE

nature poetry

and if there is anything we need in Canada right now

it is MORE nature poetry.

 

3.

When I have children,

I will teach them to ride the train in the winter and ask questions.

 

lots of questions.

 

like:

do deer fall through the ice on frozen lakes?

if so, how many?

if not, why not?

 

when their new young eyes witness

all our once brilliant plans for nature

our

clear-cuts and mining operations gone under

and some of our other great defunct resource extraction opportunities

(because they will only exist in China by then… if we continue on the track we’re on, and we might; and I continue on the timeline track I am on to have children, it’ll be that long).

I will teach them to ask

how we know when the ice is stable enough for fishing?

when do we know the ice is cracking? are we already falling in by that point?

when, is it, will it be

too late?

 

by then, will anyone know the answers?

 

dead moose on tracks

safe humans on trains

reading

and sleeping in shoes

staring out the window at the freeze thaw, freeze thaw

 

in constant motion

at uncontrolled crossings

waiting for the bitumen to pass

for someone

to answer

all the questions we were never taught to ask.

 

 

 

No radicals here Mr. Oliver… just the status quo…

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. – Buckminster Fuller

James and I have been living in a very very tiny house for two months now. In lieu of finding winter tires for our sweet little van, we have also not been driving (save one brilliant, sunny +10 day last month).

Part of what is happening is that we are inherently quite poor and making it by on being savvy and responsible with what limited income we have. Being performers means that we make the bulk of our income on the road performing. And as performers we each do really well on tour. However, the no winter tires really hinders the ability to get on the road.

But something bigger is hindering us from touring in our own vehicle these days. Or driving period. That is all the talk about the Enbridge pipeline from Alberta to  northern BC where we live, as well as the Transcanada pipeline from Alberta, where I grew up to Texas where I have much family (lo and behold, both my grandfathers worked in oil and gas). So we made a clear choice not to drive and instead exhaust (haha) our options and challenge ourselves to a life dependant on public transportation in the north.

When I took my very first “real” job with Greenpeace Canada in the basement of the old YMCA in Calgary Alberta my grandma told me that I better not ever try to get a job with the government because they’d see that I had worked for a “radical environmental organization” and I might be in trouble. I was seventeen and rather liked the idea of being a radical. I’m now a lot more than seventeen but consider myself to still have fairly radical viewpoints on many topics that range from ideas like only allowing the top 10% to continue in university studies, or recycling everything and ceasing the manufacture of new materials just to see how long we could go.

People get uneasy when we tell them we’ve been walking everywhere (in the winter!!??). People get confused when we tell them we’ve been taking public transit to Smithers for groceries, and around the hazeltons to places like the library, or for James to go make sushi at the local coffee shop every Friday morning. People have been more desperate to find us tires than they have been to consider what effective public transit would look like in our tiny tiny region.

People are confused:

They always think we’re taking the greyhound. People who have lived here for their entire lives question us about the public transit like we made it up, like it’s a special service… like it is only for “first nations people” nope it’s BC transit and it’s $4 to take a tiny, direct, one hour shuttle to the main st of Smithers from the main st. here (two days a week). However, the bus only runs in town at weird times and Gary, who drives the bus, says ticket sales rarely, if ever, cover the cost of the diesel for the day. They have a whole other bus they could run between communities, but don’t because the first one is hardly ever full.

So I am confused:

Why is it that we live in an economically deprived area with thousands of people who vehemently oppose a pipeline through our communities, and stand up for all the missing women on this our highway of tears and we can’t get it together to have a functional public transit system?

How does it work that we can’t see the root of things that need to shift?

Last week, commentary from Joe Oliver and the ethical Oil puppets stated (and has been reiterated numerous times) that anyone opposed to the pipeline are puppets and radical talking heads of radical environmental orgs. I don’t think that’s true at all and not because it’s not fair to call a bunch of people who care about things and oppose the government’s viewpoints radicals… it’s because it isn’t true, they aren’t radicals.

The word radical comes from the etymology of the word radix which means “root”. A radical is someone who works for drastic change. Drastic because it comes from the roots (otherwise known as the life source of the thing itself) and changes the entire makeup of it’s being.

I know very few people who are actually doing this and therefore, I don’t think it is fair in the name of all the great and profound radical people of our time and times past to call some letter writers and protesters radicals when they leave the pipeline hearings and get into their single occupancy vehicles and drive home with all their neighbours pulling into their driveways at the same time.

The reason we don’t see the roots is because we’re really good at being really busy looking to answer our own questions and fly to somewhere warm in the winter months, or back and forth to vancouver for “conferences” and busy driving the biggest and best 4X4/AWD so we can live 40km from town and still get there safely and so we don’t have to take the bus with “poor people.”  I know many people here who will fight to the death to keep Shell out of the sacred headwaters and Enbridge off our land and will still drive their trucks to Smithers every weekend to shop (sometimes with two vehicles) with the money they made in mining, or through family members who go away to the tarsands to work, and then they’ll pull the.. yeah, but everybody’s gotta have a job…

I don’t buy the working class hero shit… give me a profoundly banal, hypocritical and bullshit break people.

When I used to canvass for both Greenpeace and the Wilderness committee people used to ask me if I got paid, and I said yes, of course… nobody would suffer this abuse for free. If we weren’t so busy effing up the planet those organizations and jobs wouldn’t exist.

I know people need jobs and the mines and the tarsands AND environmental organizations are employing, but at what point do we actually start to shift the roots and rattle the tree and create new sources of income for our communities,  cease to see money as the be all of surviving and living healthy sustainable lives…or start recognizing the lost income potential from things we don’t see (like the thousands and thousands of people who come through here every year for tourism, for instance).

It seems the most radical thing happening in this community might very well be a couple of young, able-bodied white folks taking public transit, or some lovely friends of ours who are building an electric truck or the seventh day adventist farm out toward Kitwangaa, or a few other folks we know who are tinkering with alternative energy sources and the possibilities of horse buggies…

Those are the radicals Joe, and I would be worried if I were you. If we actually made the changes that we few know are possible, enmasse.. we’d be selling Jam instead of the bushes to make it, and yeah, I think it’d be fair to say we would then be radicals and we would also oppose the government and their stupid pipe dreams of sending all of our natural resources away so we can buy it back from China in the form of plastics so we can all continue to live in the boring lie of industrialism and unlimited growth. but maybe the government would shift and speak for it’s citizens the way a true democracy would.

There are better answers. We know the answers. They require a lot of fearlessness and leadership on the part of few who are willing to step forward and make those changes before the infrastructure is there to help them if they stumble. And THAT is scary!

Walking to the local organic bakery in -20 weather is not scary.

not at all… It is actually ten blocks of freedom every time I do it.

ps. In case you are wondering, I have had jobs working for the BC government, and do currently, technically work for the federal government right now… it’s called a canada council arts grant. Put that in your piano and play it Mr. Harper.

*************************************************************

pps. James and I are looking at what it will take to tour to all of our sweet northern communities on the train. Let us know if you can help!