I was talking with a friend some time back about how trauma can hit you when you return to a place of abuse.
I explained how, when that happens to me, I’ve learned to see it as an encounter with a piece of me that has split from my Self during said trauma and is stuck in this place. I gather to me the hurt part, the piece that screams as I feel its pain inside of me again. Maybe less painful than the original event, I process through the emotions remaining, in present day at this place, as I hold this piece of me… for as long as it takes.
Then I see myself rejoining this piece to myself, comforting it as it rejoins the whole, in turn, returning me to a place of more completeness.
Note: This post was submitted for the Dancing Rabbit March Hare. Their editing made a better, shorter, and less personal piece.
As we left Minnesota on May 9th headed for Dancing Rabbit, we drove along the I-94 corridor which was sporting a few fresh inches of snow from the previous evening, another reminder of the changing climate in which we live. My husband Dan and I were excited about our return to visit these friends we first got to know in the March Hare and who now we feel are a part of our large family of choice. We wondered how many of our old friends would be present and longed to hear everyone’s update on how life was progressing.
We were surprised to hear that we’d picked such an eventful time to visit. Not only would we arrive on Pizza Night ~ always a treat to see the hubbub of the larger community at the Mercantile ~ but the Dog and Gun would be in progress too. The Dog and Gun, for those unfamiliar, is a flea market that happens monthly from April to October in Rutledge. I was also surprised to find an event on Body Work in the Casa (get more on this from Freddie?) And because I love the people of Dancing Rabbit and have been distraught and prayerful about the happenings earlier this year, I was glad to hear there would be a facilitated conversation on the allegations of abuse.
We all have our share of things that happen in our lives that are difficult. I spent twenty years in recovery and am a survivor of rape and childhood abuse. I have also been a perpetrator of many acts of violence, abuse, and mere thoughtlessness, all of which have had their effects on me and others. What I am amazed with is how the people of Dancing Rabbit make such an effort to fully evaluate and discuss these things to assure the events are processed giving everyone a chance to voice their concerns and needs and working to move forward in a positive and hopeful way. I have spent much time in my life evaluating my own behavior, sometimes making amends, sometimes simply realizing I need to change and moving forward with a focus on not making the same mistakes again. My husband and I have spent hours over the course of our relationship discussing our arguments and fights and today find ourselves in a space where it is much easier to focus on solutions rather than feeling like we are only in blame and judgment. It has been a process of building trust that allows us to more successfully navigate the trials of life.
I believe the one of the most important things I can do is own my shortcomings and make amends where I am able. I learned this in the rooms of 12-step recovery where I did an inventory of my life, shared that information (which was freeing and allowed me to gain perspective in the loving care of another), listed those I’d harmed, and made amends as I could. This amends making is a lifelong process as some people to whom I owe amends are not present in my life today. It is also a long process as I remember things long-forgotten and as I make new mistakes that require me to clean up my “mess”. Much of life is messy. We are all learning every day how to be better humans. We are all experiencing new trials and finding new ways to cope with life as it comes our way. The 12-steps also prepared me for this constant work of living responsibly by continuing to take a daily inventory of my life and working to align my behaviors with love, compassion, and responsibility.
I remember during my visitor session at Dancing Rabbit in the fall of 2014 that much of the workshop time was spend in learning about communication, conflict management, and healthy and respectful sharing. Each day began with a circle to check-in with our group to see where everyone was physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually for the day. This “PIES” work gave each of us an opportunity to process ideas and feelings from the previous day and talk through these things with the other visitors walking through the experience with us, guided by our Viz Session leaders, Hassan and Tereza. As with any event where new people come together to learn and work, we experienced some level of trust building and breaking and communication breakdowns and resolutions, all in the process of simply figuring out how to get and prepare food and live together for three short weeks!
We each bring our skills and our baggage to relationship with other. We each bring our own perspective of reality. Truth really does depend on where you stand; it is perspective dependent. And we each bring our culture, our way of living, that is surprisingly diverse when you start bringing together people from all walks of life to an ecovillage in rural Missouri. I found these discussions to be enlightening and connecting, generating empathy and understanding as I grew to love each of the members of my group. Some were easier to love than others, as with any random group of humans. 😀 And many of these friendships continue five years out.
The Dancing Rabbit focus experience taught us about climate change and cob, natural roofs and gardens, co-ops and kitchens. But the most enduring impact came from all I learned about human relationship. I still practice PIES with groups of friends occasionally and it is always a stimulating process that brings increased trust, intimacy, and love. Sometimes it also brings scary things. When I did this with a group earlier this spring, one of the members opened up about a near-death experience they’d recently had when, during wood gathering, he experienced a diabetic coma. Luckily his partner found him in time to save his life. We all listened and shared in turn, our group becoming more cohesive and supportive as we each shared our physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual reactions to his experience and that of his partner, as well as what was happening in our own lives. Two friends that evening joined together in song to express part of their sharing and I found it to be a delightful creativity in sharing PIES.
The gifts of a visit to Dancing Rabbit are endless but most importantly are the gifts of friendship and comradery. Yes the skills I learned in mixing cob have come in handy and I continue to learn new things reading the March Hare each week. But I can also reach out to people I met here to ask questions as they pop up in life. I’ve gotten a cob recipe from Rae, ideas on cisterns from Kyle, and many connections of love and humor over the years from Dancing Rabbit friends. I often find myself sharing about DR and many people I talk with are interested in the way of life being proven here. And it’s always fun to share updates of what we learn and see here when we return home after a visit every few years.
I don’t know if we will have another visit. The world seems to be changing faster than any of us can imagine. Climate scientists are expressing more and more alarm at the too-quick pace of melting and sea level rise and the increasing intensity and frequency of storms, fires, droughts, and floods and their devastating effects. So many have died already due to the effects of climate change but here in America we are largely insulated from this. Those people are far away and out-of-sight often leads to out-of-mind. But the effects are happening here too. Not only via fires in California, Washington, and Montana and hurricanes in New Orleans, Florida, and New York, but, more often than not in the Midwest, drought and flood. Many are awakening to the urgent need for addressing our climate catastrophe. But it seems many are not awakened until the beast is at the door. Only when the home is lost, the farm is destroyed, the parent or child dies, do we awaken. At that point it seems perhaps too late. Yet what choice is there but to go on?
I would like to hope that we will realize the need for change in time to save our planet for human habitation. Many places are becoming unlivable now, yet we keep on pulling Tar Sands from the ground, we keep doing nothing on a global scale even though it has now been over 7 months since the IPCC report was issued last fall. We’ve quickly blown through 5% of the time left to save ourselves. But let’s focus on the 95% of time left in our window of opportunity. With a concerted effort, similar to that which created the Apollo mission that took us to the moon, we could create a new way of life that focuses on clean energy, restoration of our environment, and a safe and loving future for our children.
I spend most of my time working to Stop Line 3 in Minnesota. It is hard and sometimes depressing work as thousands of citizens work to convince lawmakers and politicians, corporations and fellow citizens of the risk that Line 3 brings, not only to the pristine waters of Northern Minnesota, the Mississippi River, and Lake Superior, but also to the world at large as we consume the last of the carbon budget remaining.
It was perfect that the first Rabbit I encountered when arriving on farm was Katherine, shouting out hello from the porch at the Merc. In this photo, they’d just shared the story of how this blue shirt was one they’d pulled from a box I’d sent years ago and was one of their favorites! It was serendipitous that they put it on just as I was arriving and it was full of meaning due to the sleeve which had been ruined by law enforcement cutting Katherine from equipment to which they were locked down. I think it looks great as a sleeveless shirt. This fellow activist is one of my favorites for courageous action and risking much for the sake of others. I was so happy to get a long and heartfelt hug on arrival. Danny noted that this was one of his dad’s old shirts, making it even more special a story for us.
Dancing Rabbit gives me hope that there is a way for people to live full and delicious lives by living more simply, more lovingly, more respectfully. It isn’t easy. Mostly because we are still humans with emotions and ideas, fears and perspectives that must be reconciled. But it is possible. While some see environmentalists as “taking us back to cave man days” it’s delightful to see the food production, creativity, and technology happening at DR. The future can be very bright if we all decide to focus less on consumption and more on community, less on money and more on human relation, less on the hurried rush and more on the relaxing enjoyment of communing with nature. The birds are singing, the owls are flying, the green things are growing and Dancing Rabbit is alive and well as we stop for a brief visit. It is always good to spend some time reconnecting with old friends and encountering new ones here. The love abounds.
Below are my comments to the DNR on their permitting process for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3. Please feel free to submit your own comments via this link. Deadline is May 17th @ 4:30 PM. You can also post comments via mail (postmarked by May 17th) to: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Line 3 Replacement Applications 500 Lafayette Road St. Paul, MN 55155
I am writing to request that all permits for this deadly pipeline be refused. The very process of submitting public comments itself is daunting, requiring one to select the specific area of concern, which would indicate one was well-versed in the technical breakdowns of the federal and state laws. Why can’t we simply comment on the fact that this pipeline poses an existential threat to life on earth as scientists have clearly stated that TAR SANDS MUST STAY IN THE GROUND if we hope to have A VIABLE PLANET FOR HUMAN EXISTENCE??? Yes, locally, the spills it has, which we know it will – ALL PIPELINES LEAK – will endanger our water. Yes, we know it is a violation of Treaty Law – the highest law of the land – as it endangers their traditional way of life from worship to sustenance to livelihood. The pipeline is already creating havoc in the environment – that Indigenous people maintained for millennia and we colonists have largely destroyed in only a couple centuries – as trees are clearcut for the new corridor.
And this constant assumption by Enbridge that they will get their way – pipes are staged throughout the region and clear cutting has begun even before the DNR or MPCA have given their approvals – is just another devastating effect on the people and environment of this proposed Line 3. The hurt has been ongoing for years now. PLEASE STOP this ASAP with a denial of all permits. Enbridge’s desecration of Minnesota must STOP.
The very process of DNR’s public information campaign – with webinars only provided days before comment periods close – seems geared to not include real debate and discussion at the citizen level. And it seems the agency may be poised to simply rubber-stamp the permits for fear that “Enbridge will sue” if they do not. When did Enbridge become the sole decider for Minnesota’s future? A foreign oil corporation that is rapidly losing financial backers, has a horrible safety record, and currently operates a deteriorating pipeline that Minnesotans live in daily fear of rupturing should be determining what we allow in our state? REALLY???
It is time for thoughtful and SCIENTIFIC consideration of this situation. And if we do that, the answer will be to tell Enbridge to go packing.
Science has shown that we have a decade to determine if humans will work with an Apollo-program or WWII level of dedication to save our planet, or if we will continue with business as usual and drive ourselves into extinction, as we have driven countless millions into extinction before us. Yes, extinction happens naturally, but the human involvement with this planet has created a thousand-fold increase in extinction rates and we are now closing in on assuring our own extinction.
Enbridge has made clear that safety is not its #1 goal. Making money is its #1 goal. Their massive failure in Marshall, MI should be a sign to Minnesota that they cannot be trusted. They failed to act when the alarms sounded, assumed them to be false, allowed a huge failure to continue long after people on the ground had reported it. Then, post failure, they did all they could to cover up damaged areas, only doing a more complete clean-up when ordered to do so after being found to have done an insufficient job. Is this REALLY the company to whom we want to risk the last of Minnesota’s clean waters?
Line 3 proposes to cross the apex between two major North American watersheds, pristine national forest land as well as countless rivers, streams, and wetlands in Minnesota. In short, Line 3 risks contaminating the water for our whole region – the water which makes life in this region possible – with toxic tar sands sludge. Line 3 brings a host of other risks to our public lands including but not limited to: soil erosion and degradation, spread of undesirable species and disease through waterways, and damage to sensitive ecosystems and species. And finally, they continue the practices of giving the worst of our industrial dangers to the most oppressed and disenfranchised among us, our First People, our Indigenous. The US has failed time and again to honor Treaties, the highest law of the land – on a level with the US Constitution. It is high time we factor in the agreements we made to those who allowed us to share their land, usually agreeing only with force from the government which offered them no alternative. It is time we honor the people who showed they have an ability to protect the land, water, trees, wildlife, and plants for millennia. We should look to them for guidance on how to truly protect and manage our environment for sustainability. Our governmental agencies have failed us again and again in this effort. In case you need a refresher, look to the 1970s when we made massive changes to clean up the environment we had largely pillaged due to allowing corporate and monied interests to rape our environment at will.
I am writing to urge you to deny Enbridge its Utility Crossing Licenses, Work in Public Waters Permits, and all other permits currently under review. As the DNR, it is up to you to protect the pristine public lands, waters, and wildlife upon which all life and livelihood in this state depends. I urge you to see that Enbridge would only jeopardize all of that, and make the right decision not to grant them the necessary permits.
We need your strong leadership in your true charge: The mission of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is to work with citizens to conserve and manage the state’s natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and to provide for commercial uses of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life. The citizens have spoken loudly and clearly – 94% of the public comments were in opposition to Line 3 – and we continue to try to voice concerns but the government agencies seem geared to simply push through Line 3 and allow Enbridge whatever they wish. As I read the definition for the DNR Commissioner, it seems we may be in trouble. Per 84.027, “The commissioner shall have charge and control of all the public lands, parks, timber, waters, minerals, and wild animals of the state and of the use, sale, leasing, or other disposition thereof, and of all records pertaining to the performance of the commissioner’s functions relating thereto.” This sounds like the Commissioner is merely in charge of selling off Minnesota’s resources and keeping record of who gets the spoils.
I have imagined that most Minnesotans believe the DNR is responsible to protect the citizens and environment of Minnesota, though many up here in rural Minnesota seems to have a negative opinion of the DNR. Perhaps I have judged them too harshly for their condemnation. Perhaps the DNR has given them much reason for distrust as the directive for the Commissioner does not seem to have any responsibility to the citizens or environment of this state. It seems the directive is to “manage” the use of our resources and, based on what I’ve seen since moving here, it seems the highest bidder gets to decide who wins.
I would hope that the People of the DNR would prevent a multi-national from running roughshod over our state and, in the process, doing further environmental damage to our planet as a whole. The science on Tar Sands is clear – they require almost as much energy to extract as they deliver for use, they are damaging the environment where they are extracted and the environment all along the route to move them to their offshore destinations – including the oceans and air, as well as the lands and waters that are crossed – only to be burned releasing 17% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude. The answers are clear to me. YOU ARE SCIENTISTS. You must stand with the tens of thousands of Minnesotans opposed to line 3 and STOP LINE 3 NOW. We are all human beings. If we hope to save ourselves, putting our planet first must be a priority.
Your work to Stop Line 3 NOW could save thousands of taxpayer dollars that have been wasted thus far on the Enbridge proposal and instead divert these much-needed funds to creating a green economy, a clean energy future, that might just allow our grandkids the same breathable air and drinkable water we have enjoyed.
Please do the right thing. Do all you can to DENY ALL PERMITS for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3. The future is counting on you.
I found the recent visit by Utke, Green, and Grossell both disturbing and entertaining. While I missed the first fifteen minutes including the intros, I was able to hear my fellow residents speak to their concerns. I heard much on the “Red Flag Law” which took further research to determine was a gun violence prevention law, though it was clear from the meeting it was about “taking away our guns”. I fail to comprehend that we can have many vehicular laws, including the ability to rescind someone’s right to drive, but we can’t assure guns are not in the hands of dangerous or unstable people. Both guns and cars can become lethal weapons when humans get involved. Yet we only legislate to protect from vehicle deaths and not those we might prevent from guns.
All this focus on guns was, in the words of a fellow attendee, likely stoked by the Representative introductions which set the tone and topics. Initial questions focused on immigration woes and the need for control of our “southern border” which I thought was with… Iowa. In fact, our northern border is Minnesota’s only international border. I don’t think these three are going to do much regarding our federal immigration policy as it’s not within their span of control.
There was some brief mention of the Enbridge lawsuit for overpaid taxes, the $20M elephant in the room. We were reminded of what kind of friend Enbridge is when one resident noted, “Enbridge doesn’t have to sue us. They could drop it.” Imagine that.
Other topics included drug costs, access to marijuana, and health care for vets. I was struck by one person who angrily yelled, to the Veteran asking about access to medical marijuana which he noted calmed his PTSD, “You’ve asked your question, now sit down!!” I didn’t think that was an appropriate response to a United States Veteran. I ended the meeting by addressing this Veteran and thanking him for his service. The most entertaining question was when a resident asked the three Representatives if they had ever used marijuana. When all admitted they had not, he asked, “How do you know what you’re talking about then?”
Harder to hear was from the people who cannot get medical attention or can no longer afford their medications with healthcare’s rapidly increasing prices. What does it say of a society that allows its citizens to suffer while these same pharmaceutical companies rake in huge profits and, in other countries, sell their meds for a fraction of the cost we pay?
One person asked how this Bagley Town Hall compared with other sessions and it seems others focused more on education which was barely mentioned here. Perhaps if we had more focus on education, people would have a better understanding of our civic responsibilities, the legislation details, and our responsibility to hold our Representatives accountable to serving the citizens of Minnesota. Perhaps then we’d hear more about renewable energy infrastructure which will not only provide cleaner energy, improving the health and safety for all, but also many good paying jobs for rural Minnesota, of which we are in desperate need. Perhaps if we were better educated, our residents would understand the severe global environmental crisis that fossil fuel corporations have exacerbated and which needs to be addressed as quickly as possible if we hope to allow a future for our children and grandchildren.
Of course, Enbridge is not helping with their barrage of advertising explaining how “safe” they are (remember, 99.999% safe means 116,508 gallons of Tar Sands will spill across Minnesota each year) and their recent online ad claiming engagement with environmental groups. Guess that’s not entirely untrue… though they should have noted that most all this engagement occurs in courtrooms.