Sunflowervillager's Blog

Growing into community

Patience, Compromise, Focus October 11, 2011

Patience, compromise and focus seem to be the order of the day.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the University and I was fortunate enough to snag a few minutes with the professor I respect most. We had a conversation about where I’m at and where I’m determined to go. I told him my thoughts and plans. He understands me well. He helped me re-recognize that my classic obstacles is that “you want it, you want it all, and it you want it yesterday”. He helped me set it straight. “Get yourself the job, give yourself time to get used to it. Build your living community. It is going to take time and all of your energy as it’s no easy thing. THEN when that is somewhat established, you can do your non-profit or maybe go to grad-school. But if you try to do everything at once, you aren’t going to do any of it well”. This is hard stuff for me to hear, but I can listen and get myself to change when this man says it. It works: that its, it helps me polish myself so I can accomplish what I want to. So I keep going back, tears or no (usually some tears).

The other thing that Prof and I talked about, echoed in conversations with others I trust and respect, is the need for compromise. Hypothetically it is clear to me that I cannot wake up tomorrow in the world of which I dream. I have to compromise with the world as it exists, or I will become paralyzed in dreamer’s theory and never able to move it to action. The tricky part is how to compromise without feeling like I’m selling out. What is key here is to remember that I have a transformative drive. That is to say, my desire to build a better society is not affected by what work I do or who I do it for. Still, there are some things which I would find entirely too hypocritical in light of what I have concluded so far, such as working for a fast-food, factory-farm supplied establishment.

Recent events on a national scale, the Occupy movements, are something of growing interest to me. At first I felt only mildly interested – up til now, widespread perception and my personal experience of the effectiveness of demonstrations is that they don’t seem to accomplish much. Partly because in contemporary decades, they are too often too easy to ignore and dismiss. This time it is different. The protests on Wall Street have spread to other cities and towns across the USA. It is exciting to see so many Americans uniting around this kind of action. It is sprouting critically needed dialogues, between people’s convergent needs and suffering, and their diverse voices and experiences and concerns. My appreciation for this dialogue is accompanied by adrenaline rushes of excitement, this is the kind of dialogue which makes me feel happy, hopeful, excited.

This morning, a convoluted thought process brought me around to an epiphany about how my personal struggles are reflected on a wider scale, and vice versa. It was a torrent of thoughts and visualizations and experiences, and suddenly I found that my brain had rewired to allow a broader perspective, for compromise. For a long time, I have been very suspicious of all corporations. But what I came around to this morning was that we now have corporations which empower us. Without the companies that develop and make my laptop, my phone, my internet service, etc, I would be a lot further away from my dreams. I would not be now sharing this post with you, or having dialogues between towns or states or countries at the ease of touching my finger to a button or a screen. Some of these companies don’t just provide world-changers with tools, but themselves offer a renewed hope to families and individuals. There are companies with real benefits (not that fake bare-minimum stuff), with unions and potential for living wages. That’s not to say that we should not Occupy, ask questions, have dialogues. I still aspire for new economic systems (note the s), which provide greater stability and self-reliance in Americans. But we need some of those corporations, and I need to start being nicer to those. Wall Street is not going to go away tomorrow, and we’d be in some trouble if it did. I want to be clear, and encourage protesters to be clear, about which corporations (I will not say “who”) we protest, and why. I’m not mad at AT&T

Patience, me. Job first, practice wise compromises, continue dialogues and building relationships.  Patience world-changers, non-violent social revolution is needs be a slow process, full of dialogue and self-reflection. It also needs meaningful, sustained action and well-considered development of alternatives. Keep it up!



The stress you risk by wanting a different world as a poor person August 31, 2011

Filed under: economy,risk,solidarity,wage — Saera @ 7:50 am

After I read Walden Two, I gave it to Daniel to read. We talked a fair bit about intentional communities over the past couple of weeks. We came to the conclusion that to really move the Sunflower Village Initiative forward, we need to develop a village. This will allow us to demonstrate that a solidarity-oriented village can work. It will give us credibility with individuals, families, other intentional communities, donors, and other interested parties. While this plan makes sense to me, its implications for my personal life are somewhat mixed. On the one hand, it is bringing the village back to a very personal level for me: I can move forward on creating a village for me personally to live in. On the other hand, I am unsure of how to best make my living in the mean time.I had planned to develop SVI to the point that I could hire myself and then others to work on the project full and part time.

My personal situation lately has been feeling rather desperate. While I was in India, finances became very difficult and complicated for Daniel and myself. As I had difficulty finding a compatible job after my return, I didn’t find work until late July. Between Daniel’s hard work and my position as a nanny with a new family, it seemed that we were about to stabilize financially. Unfortunately, the physical challenges of Daniel’s work have led to some chronic health difficulties, and he hasn’t been able to work much lately. Additionally, we have had to spend some money on doctors fees. I’m not looking for sympathy or advice on the work situation here. It’s just that this is the nitty gritty reality of what goes on when you’re poor and idealistic in America. I feel frustrated that, finally having got together enough income between the two of us to start attacking our mountain of bills and debt, a source of income has been reduced by the way that income is gained. This is the sort of cyclical expletive garbage that makes me just want to quit America. I couldn’t sleep this morning I felt so stressed from trying to figure out how to deal with this cycle of poverty and work conditions. That kind of stress is one of the most ignored effects of poverty and one of the grinding and degrading conditions I hope for villages to eradicate.

Personally, I’m nauseous from work where either I sit on my hands and do almost nothing, or grind my body through repetitive and numbing actions, and at the end of the day, I still don’t know how two people working a total of at least 70 hours a week are going to pay for basic necessities, let alone attack the debt. One of the things I thought about yesterday was carpentry. It’s a possibility I come back to from time to time when I feel frustrated by school or idle work. I looked up carpentry in Massachusetts. The union offers training… which takes four years. I found that upsetting, like I should have listened to myself and quit college for technical school years ago. Here I am, with a degree, and still no jobs I want, except to ddvelop and run the Sunflower Village Initiative. Had I gone for a carpentry apprenticeship, I could be making money and building a village.

But there’s no changing that now. But I’m feeling a little calmer and, after writing all of this, my headache is gone. Because I’ve decided what I’m going to do. I’m not going to set an order, because all of these things need to move forward and all need current attention. So, starting with the most personal:

I need a new job, or at least a second job. I need to make more money, and far more reliably too. I need to work towards making enough money that it doesn’t matter if Daniel works or not: for now so that he can quit a job that is literally, according to doctors, wearing his body out, and for later, so that he can fully focus on school. In other words, I need to make a grown-up’s salary.

I need to actively form an intentional community. I have already put out feelers to a few people whom I think it would be great to start a village with. If you want to build a village with me, in all seriousness, let me know.

I’m going to continue working towards making SVI a tangible reality that can pay. This is the job that I truly want, and no one is making it but me. Maybe I could have gone about this differently, but I’m almost 27 and it’s time to act on what I’ve done, not what I might have done.


Broadening Horizons and Education Considerations January 11, 2010

Filed under: anthropology,geography,school,social investment,wage — Saera @ 2:08 am

Hello all, I apologize for my long absence from posting. The end of the semester was pretty busy for me, and then I was gone for a few weeks to visit my family. One of the things that I got to do before I left was to meet with some people who I have been discussing the possibility of some kind of land trust with. We still haven’t come to any conclusions about what form that might take, but we’re getting closer and coming to know each other better as we go along.

I have been considering the village from a broader perspective lately. Part of this is due to the Economic Geography class I had last semester. Another influence is my desire to study abroad, probably India, but perhaps Brazil. What I’m finding in my search for the right study abroad program is that my interests lie mostly in Sustainable Development and studies which connect Sustainability to surrounding cultures. Also, I have been considering my personal situation. I find that myself and many friends I know are uncomfortable with the options for developing what are often considered reliable or strong finances. This is because some of those options are based on the exploitation of other peoples and conformity to societal norms which discourage so much inspiration, self-fulfillment, and compassion. However, what happens is that a lot of these people, including me, find themselves at low level, low paying jobs, in little position to take the kind of action capable of shifting where things are going on the broad societal level. At first when I decided to focus on Anthropology and Geography and to continue to grad school, my primary consideration was to establish the knowledge and credentials to support the development of the village. But now my thoughts also include how to support myself, possibly earning more than I need to live to create savings towards the village. It now includes a stronger desire to be a vibrant force to contribute to the international intentional communities movement, and to the broader issues of Sustainable Development and the kind of work that Anthropology is capable of supporting.

Towards this, my goals for the next couple of years are looking something like this: Study Abroad in India (or perhaps Brazil), Graduate from Umass, and be accepted to SIT (School for International Training) for their one year’s Graduate program in Sustainable Development. I might also consider Goddard, which I think has a program in Sustainable Communities. After that, I’m not sure whether I’ll pursue more education or concentrate on finding a long term work position. I know that one of the things that has also occurred to me is getting my teaching certificate, and I am considering becoming a professor.


Landlessness and wage-bonds September 23, 2009

Filed under: economy,land,landlessness.,marx,organization,risk,slavery,wage — Saera @ 4:09 am

Long week… already, catching up from being sick
not just from school, but that, yes, always that, doing what I can, and communicating like crazy, to profs, TAs, SGI people.
Still not caught up with myself. Got to do some dishes after finishing homework tonight, and yeah, I said *got* to and meant it. Thank goodness Daniel did the laundry. We’re both running hard and doing all we can, and our lives are becoming ever more gargantuan.

Lots of things I want to write about – my connect/disconnect to Marx, marxism, labor. My passion for Upton Sinclair. Thinking about economy and organization of labor. Reconsidering my approaches.

There are two bandages that hold us in thrall, physically in this society.

(I know there are others, many others, in spiritual, intellectual, other areas, I know, know too that they are all interconnected, but I have a PoinT here… that is to say, there are two bondages)

There are two bondages: Being, still, after milennia, the landless peasantry, the land ripped away from us (ill-ly)legally….( we, the working class, the producers, the makers of vitals or the chain of people who get them from the makers to You, consumer.) In short: we rent, we do not own our castles, our abodes where we may at last have our Say. I rent, so I do not define my own space, except on the surface, my trappings, my coverings, things I bring every place I live to remind-pretend that this is not someone else’s. I doubt again that I will grow corn next spring or summer, and who knows if/when ever I’ll get that cat door. Because it is not something I really have a say over. So, the bondage that I rent, that I am landless, like every lowest class. And there abounds the myth that there is not class in *America. So, the idea, the revolutionistic desire that once again, we should have an abode, for us, not for the profit of another, but a place to finally hang our hat at the end of the day and not worry whether the second bondage threatens us in the security of our sleep.

The second bondage: to work filling the pockets of others to bursting, and not being able to tell whether we fill ours just enough to eat, to sedate ourselves a little into acceptance, or whether we are actually benefiting from the arrangement, making progress towards freedom from the first bondage or following dreams or saving the world or merely having a fulfilling occupation. Yes, that second bondage is, (and I *will* be so bold as to thank Marx for this line) the slavery of wage…. that endless work that we too often cannot tell what happens to, who it benefits, if it is what we are told it is. Is this the best we have to offer? Too many inconsistencies, and always this cycle of how much do we risk to speak up to appease our angry sense of justice , how much do we live with in order that we may attempt to someway, somehow, accomplish our nobler ends? The means ARE connected, invariably to the ends. There must be better means, or our ends are sure to haunt us as tainted. To which solution, then do I dare?

I don’t know yet… again, more research, more dialogue, more experimentation and self-delving.

Again, and more. A few snippets of new connections, fresh determination, I leave here tonight. There is certainly more whirling around, but tomorrow has, again, many demands.


At my workplace today. September 12, 2009

Filed under: marx,risk,wage — Saera @ 7:32 pm

People are protesting John Mackey’s op ed piece on healthcare. There’s regional people and cops everywhere, and customers bashing or ignoring protesters and I’m trying to watch my mouth and it all makes me nauseous and all I can think of is how little the US has progressed in terms of labor, and Upton Sinclair and Howard Zinn and what freedom of speech really means.