opening ourselves with the hinging daylight hours

Sunday, July 7, 2013


started to bring together some old blog posts and writings  here they are...

 missing entries from Nov. 15 2007-  Feb. 9, 2008

Tracheal Honey Bee Mites.
Current mood: entymology

I got the sad word on Sunday after mass, my honey bee hive got the mites. My hive has overwintered along the Delaware River at our friend's farm a few miles upstream for the past 3 winters, and then journeys back down to Camden to aid in vegetable pollination during our growing season. Yes, its true, despite all of the hard work and pounds of yummy honey our previously very healthy bees have produced, they have now been anniahlated by the tracheal bee mite, a reality that far too many honey bees all over the east coast have come to, complete destruction.
I thought that it was rather timely with the coming of Valentine's Day, with the (birds and the ) bees. My bees were consumed. Their fate similar to mine in love, or more truthfully they had little holes bored through their tracheas, i just had difficulty breathing. awww.                                                                shit.

Bees and me, we both respond to pheromones telling us how and where to go, a language that communicates an unexplainable response, hexed in a waggle dance.
I first got into bee-keeping fairly far down my journey of entylygamy.   And my response to love is similar to flying insects with stingers, i know no greater vulnerability, fascination and terror. My fear of bees is more acuratley a fear of what they resemble, yellow jackets. I died, (like in My Girl) during a field hockey game in high school, after being stung by a family member of the Vespidae, the yellow jacket. My pineal gland(more mystically known as the third eye) released the chemicals of dying. So did i actually die? My heart stopped, and my body released the chemicals that let me enjoy being carried away in the current of death than the world that I was leaving behind. I was at peace, similar to floating, kinda.
As you can imagine i quickly developed a highly accute capability to focus clearly and quickly on flying insects, a new power of identification, and i that's how i fell in love. now i can identify a species depending on the harmonic frequency of the wing-flap, or wing location during flight from great distances. My killer is my love.  
I haven't been stung for over five years, and i know that i can't remember the pain specifically, but it was a consumption, a coming tide taking me out to sea. Since my heart stopped, and then started again. I have not been able to wear watches, just like my grandfather who was struck by lightening, now i stop time.
I had a yellow jacket dream the other night. I was surrounded by my friends and my mother and we were sitting on the back steps of a cabin.  I have been in this situation more than once in real-life, so I am trying to give it some dream symbolism perspective.  In the dream I was the first to notice the yellow jackets as they walked all around the ground, with a few coming down out of flight.
In the waking life I am almost always the first to identify insects, and usually i just try and silently move away from the yellow jacket (literally genderless worker) and try and not make a huge deal out of their presence to others. Yellow jackets release an attack pheromone, so the worste response to a yellow jacket is to smoosh it or freak it out, it only attracts more, coming to avenge the death of their partners. There were yellow jackets all around and everybody was so upset that i stood there surrounded by the yellow jackets that enwrapped me in vulnerability.
There i was standing,  hoping in happenstance that this creature that i am so deeply fascinated and intrigued with wouldn't sting me. If I were stung, the yellow jacket does not lose its stinger, thus moving on to the rest of the day's activities. Did I make any difference to the yellow jacket at all? Does it even matter ?  My response is to be still. i am so attracted to the yellow jacket's beauty and mystery, and simultaneously terrified, with little holes in my trachea bored like a bee's.
I love and hate to be close to the stinging insects. It is amazing to watch  yellow jackets  or honey bees in the process of pollenation, and the life that they bring to me and those that i love, and to know that my life is dependent upon a chemical response to pheromones and the physics of insect dances.
Die Tracheal Bee Mites, die!!!

Rest in Peace My Bees, and Please bring me protection in this coming agricultural year. Much love.

[07 Feb 2008 | Thursday]

I sat with Father Michael this morning for a cup of coffee and a blessing. He showed me his thumb. It was stained black from the ashes that he had been dipping it in all day, marking our foreheads in yesterday's crosses.

[01 Feb 2008 | Friday]
grandma's groundhog.
Current mood:  indescribable
Category: Pets and Animals
The last time I had seen her it was Christmas. we had shared a cigarette for the first and last time in front of my parents, in her living room . My grandma Thelma Miller just died on Tuesday.

My mother called me when i was at Pizza and Poetry for Robert Burn's birthday with Hagis and Scotch on tuesday, but i didn't answer her call. Perhaps in some sort of matrilineal compassion i knew that she was passing, because as i was sitting there blood started to flow out of my own body (moonstrate).  WHen i called my mother back she told me that her mother's brain had filled with blood and she was driving with my dad up to the hospital where the rest of the immediate family was waiting to pull the plug. Grandma Miller had a small stroke on Saturday and was in the hospital for a couple of days, but they let her go home  on Tuesday because she was doing remarkably well.  She went to her home along the Susquehanna River the same body that had raised and carried my  mother's mothers for at least 7 native generations.

This River is the same body of water that her lover (my grandpa) built a bridge across, connecting his family with hers. Such a romantic construction.

They were people who know the land. Grandma's mother had died when my grandma was only six , but she was still known for how well  she used a garden hoe, and her supurb capabilities for planting corn.

Grandma's father  was raised in foster-care, living with a butcher's family from when he was very young, after his mother had murdered his father. She put arsenic is his coffee. This incident found its way into the folklore of the "Purple Hills of Pennsylvania"  and  the agrarianbarn-rasising life.  When my grandpa met my grandma he was at the barn dance singing  the song that was sung about the arsenic murder in the coffee.  His mother quietly told him not to sing that song around Thelma. They were married and ran a farm together with Donald's family, and in addition to the beauties of homesteading, Grandma was quite the accomplished fisherwoman from whom I learned much about land and water.

She died very happy.  She knew she was passing as she was sitting at the dinning room table  and asked for a hamburger, a sundae, and a cigarette. Then she died.

Fortunately i got to spend a week with grandma at her house by the susquehanna river over this past summer. We spent a lot of time on her front porch-swing watching the birds and the trees and counting freight cars on the tracks. There was one tree in particular that towered high beside the railroad tracks, and one morning we watched as two men from the township brought it down.  It made us sad, for the lack of shade on the grassy lawn across the street, and for the squirrels who just lost a home. After every meal that we ate in her kitchen i'd take the compost out to her backyard and feed her pet groundhog who lived under the shed. I can't help but smile inside knowing that we are going to bury grandma tomorrow, on Groundhog's Day.

Groundhog's Day is the midway meeting hinge-time between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. What a nice time to bury a loved one, between death and resurrection. The door to spring is half-way open. Grandma and Grandpa have been really rather supernatural, in the non-creepy sense, and i will have to write about that in the near future because i think my fever is rising. . . .I look forward to her drawing near to me and seeing fully my life in camden.
 Grandma's death has been hard because it was so sudden, I have a really high fever right now, and my dear brother Michael is somewhere in Italy along some Meditteranean cliff.
When i hike with michael it is like hiking with my grandpa, resurrected in the size of his steps and his tall muscular body. Grandma took much comfort in Michael since the passing of her husband 10 years ago, as do i, and so does my mother.

So tomorrow we'll all climb into my parent's car and drive my favorite ride deep into the purple hills of Pennsylvania over the bridge my grandpa built where the matriarchs meandered, to bring grandma to her final resting place beside her lover's grave , where i had most recently found a praying mantis walking.

happy groundhog's day.
[31 Jan 2008 | Thursday]
the arc of the universe
Current mood: moral-arc-of-the-universe

I had a day like none other on monday, and i'll never have it again, probably. It was a day with more political intrigue than the usual. I know it was the spirit of this farmer that carried the courage to birth something grounded and liberating. It was also birthed in Oaxaca grandmothers, the women who learn liberation when they first crawl beneath the loom at their mother's feet.

I had been talking to reporters getting ready for a big action to stop the public metadone clinic from moving into the shipyard in our neighborhood. During the day i had an unexplainable freeze put on both my cellphone and myspace, wierd right?  This made me think about what happened to me one of the last times i was on the phone with reporters. It was a few days before the full moon in September and I was riding my bike toward the bridge down Frankfurt Ave, and i got hit (and run) by a full-size van.
I am really trying to not be a conspirator, and i do admit that sometimes i  enjoy the playfullness between folklore and fact, but my father's watch stopped working on monday at 6:28 pm as he was coming into camden for the 7 o'clock action. His watch had also stopped when i was coming into the world as he was timing my mother's contractions on a full moon. The action on monday was birthing, with great labor pains and vulnerability.  the neighborhood was out in record numbers and we had council people from other counties wanting to speak, and bizarro telephone calls after i got my phone working again.
  Some friends came out, and inspired as they were inspiring, we were powerful, and now i am at home listening to some damn good music, it is a movement afterall. It is liberating to be so energized by the empowerment of a community of leaders. I am so proud of Julian our 11 year old testifier who didn't just "show great potential" but he was convincing, intellegent, passionate, he was himself as he spoke before a crowd of 220. I am so proud of the 18 year old that spoke, and the 7 different children (aged 11-19) that came up to my executive director at the end to tell her that they wanted to speak at our next neighborhood action.

And Miss Bonnie's granddaughter (Lashonda) who at the end of the action came up to me to give me a hug. Her grandmother was the great voice for environmental justice in our neighborhood, Miss Bonnie Sanders. She passed away 3 years ago, and was one of the old school community activist legends from our neighborhood. I was so happy Lashonda (8 years old) came up to give me a hug afterward.  i thanked her for being there and she said, "You know that i will always be here for you, Miss Andrea." 
A dear friend of mine (Lindsey) stood speechless when she felt the spirit of Lashonda and the socialization of justicing passed on from her grandma.  Lindsey said we looked like Christmas presents all wrapped-up under the huge huge Christmas tree that stands in sacred heart for 40 days after Christmas (until candlemass, this sunday), it meant the world to me to have her hear what Lashonda had said.  As i sit here and write about Miss Bonnie's granddaughter , i see what the Lakota call the White Buffalo , that drummajorinstinct,  a practicing of resurrection .
I was on NPR twice on monday, some sound clips and an interview over the phone. I haven't found it yet, but some friends that heard it, and appearently i sound really smart, how empowering. It is mostly just releaving. i was nervous about this whole george NORCROSS III thing (south jersey's own darth vader). I was mostly nervous  NPR was going to soundbite the part where i went off about this man who funds most of the democratic party in dirty jerz, and owns Commerce INsurance.
I had been worried at about 4:35 pm when i was handed the finalized research report, while holding a phone to my ear with a certain deputy chief, who asked me to remain nameless and knew his name was throughout the report. He was calling and telling me the prosecutor's office was sending "spies" to the action.

All i know is that now in the actions after the action when our creativity and now experienced process lay down with one another, we realize the connectors that bridge for the practice of hope in resurrection.  It helps me sleep well at night that i am a paid consultant for justice, and even though it isn't the best paying job and the sinks don't drain in our house, it is good.  We were trusting so many other people so much in the hours leading up to the action.
Certainly we had some hard laughter. Before huge public events i usually end up having a rolling amount of laughter, at some time or another. when elissa and i were planning the groundbreaking for the greenhouse i couldn't stop laughing for a long -long -long time as i was laying in bed in the dark after realizing that i had told at least 12 different people that they needed to bring ketchup. the day before this action i saw Esposito at the Yes And . . . .! theater production, and laughed full throttle for the better part of 2 hours. what was i most worried about the night before this big action?  1) i called my boss on sunday night because i was scared about paper for  2) pens and 3) all things technological.  (paper and pens? yes paper and pens).
3 was the winner---ding ding ding----The adaptors from  Mac to projector were for the the older MACS, we found a back-up laptop with 10 minutes to spare. . .  (extension chord must be around here somewhere, and the (left unnamed ) deputy chief was calling me again about the spies.
Some good media coverage. (just woke up from a norcross is getting your friends first, dream. it was actually pretty funny. but seriously kids)

Tuesday morning i was with the mofia at the South Jersey Port Corporation Board Meeting, eating sausage one minute, then, they got my grandma (ok, maybe it wasn't the mofia).

The ACTION is still 73% still energy inside my body, not so much here or there.                                
                         its still arcing------bounce with me , bounce with me

I remember that I am the granddaughter of a bridge builder and famer.
We asked to turn on the Christmas lights during the action on the huge 40 foot Christmas tree still standing (filled with praying manti egg cases) in Sacred Heart's sanctuary,  Father Michael said that we may, but we needed to talk about   why we leave the Christmas lights on. In the face of the corporate christmas Father Michael shoves it and we celebrate CHRISTMAS for 40 days in the desert of insatiable economics. The Christmas Lights will stay on until this Sunday during Candlemass. get ready for the feast of st. blaiseon saturday. .   .     .

I am grateful for these arching faith traditions, catching us inside the weaving of communal pacifism.

shout outs: Ben Hill showed up and hooked up the audio at 6:50, my dad drove straight from work in Lancaster (and i didn't even ask him to come), somebody hopped up to the pipe organ balcony and was controlling the lights, I have some thoughts on who it might have been. shawn for videotaping. sweetasssthanks everybody for coming out.

[23 Jan 2008 | Wednesday]
reveling and reliccing

I just got home from a week in the Bayou swamplands of Louisiana .  I saw an alligator and an armadillo, to my surprise. I didn't expect to see either one of these. Perhaps the armadillo is my new spirit animal since I have begun sporting a fancy belt buckle that I picked up last time I was down South. I was staying in a convent for community organizer training. There were fiery women that had marched with Doctor King during the civil rights movement there, and some women from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, not to mention handfuls of lovely bearded Jesuit Priests. Lots of people to learn from.
The convent was beautiful, in that simply monastic sort of way.

It was particularly nice going to Mass every afternoon  with a group Catholics at a conference.

The catholic church is different than the protestant church in a lot of different ways (I grew denominately Mennonite). I adore both churches for their differences, and lately, since reading a book called "math for mystics" I've come to appreciate more aspects of both churches, particularly the pagan aspects of both churches. One of the main ways these churches are different is the approach toward the BOC (body/blood of Christ).  I love them both, and think both churches are true. I think the differences are summed up in what happens to the BOC at the end of the sacrament .  The catholics have to make sure that ALL of the BOC is entirely gone, none left.  Whereas the protestant sometimes enjoy having a little left over, and may bring the bread and grape juice home as an act of continuous communion in our homes. The catholics are so particular about that it is all eaten/drunk that at some parishes there is an alter boy with some sort of net/bowl that is held out on the end of a pole under the priest's hand as HE is administering it, to make sure it is all caught. Although I have never seen this in real life and can't find any pictures of it on the internet, somehow I know that it is true.

At mass in Louisiana on Thursday I was receiving the blood of Christ, and as I was really ready for the healing of my soul, I drank a little too anxiously, and it went down the wrong pipe. I immediately smushed my hand up to my mouth as to not spray the blood of Christ all over the priest, the alter, and the shelves filled with relics (the largest collection of saint's bones that I had ever seen).

It all ended up being a little too much for my esophagus and I pulled a muscle in my back and a rib.  Here's to the karma of the Lamb. cheers. It was a beautiful full moon last night -from one lunatic to another.

[10 Jan 2008 | Thursday]
wednesday after Epiphany

I couldn't see Mercury last night but i know that it was out, 1.5 moon diameter heights directly above the crescent moon as it rose beside the setting sun. mercury orbits around the sun every 88 days.  The 916 potentially hazardous asteroids last night are measured in "lunar distances."  And appearantly there is a small planet named "America 916"  orbiting the sun in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Since living with a piano i have thoroughly enjoyed playing it. I recieved the score for OK Computer in the mail yesterday, and  spent the rest of my free time learning as much as i could about mercury.

gotta runnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

[07 Jan 2008 | Monday]
I feel like my code's been cracked, in the best sort of way. The result is that i have come to appreciate my favorite number more. The number 8.  Infinity standing .
[03 Jan 2008 | Thursday]
Current mood: barbaric

2008 has been nice so far. we dressed up like real barbarians and met up with our friends at their house and walked down by the riverside at Penn Treaty Park to watch and yell at the fireworks.
the barbarians were really embracing 20,008 BCE or
post-apocalyptic 2008 survival. either way way it was really good to take a moment to say that if you've ever considered the permanent removal of your hair anywhere on your body, don't do it, because it might be necessary for your survival one day.
it was all really fitting for what we found in the basement of our new house yesterday--- it was real  gross

all of this to say  i hope to embrace more of the (real) barbarian in my life this next year to come and not the body waxed cold shivvery scantily clad kind.

happy new year

[26 Dec 2007 | Wednesday]
the christmas binoctacular. baby jesus born in a merganser
Current mood: BIRDING
New Jersey is home to the annual spring-time migration of bird-watchers from all over the world to Cape May. Known as the bird watching World Series, participants enter with their team to compete for the title. During every second weekend in May people gather from all over the region (maybe World ) to compete in this day of birding. Even though I have never actually "entered" the competition with my team, we still practice, and we compete.  Last year '07, our second year, we identified 62 different  bird species. The winning team identified 230. The rules of the Bird Watching World Series, as far as i have observed them thus far, are pretty simple. On the second Saturday in May each team of three birders can drive all over the state or stay in a higher concentrated avarian area to identify the most number of bird species. All members of the team must  see a bird and agree on its identification, for it to make their list .  all identifications must happen within the state of NJ, within a 24 hour period. At the end of the day the team with the highest diversity of identified species goes home with the Championship.

Its actually one of the most exhilarating things that I have ever done. Birds in Camden count if they're seen within the 24 hour period, but by and large the highest concentration of bird diversity is in Cape May and the surrounding areas. Cape May is where the Delaware River meets with the Atlantic Ocean, and in the springtime the Arctic Tern only stops at those beaches in flight from one pole to the other, because of the tasty horseshoe crab eggs. The Delaware Bay and the Atlantic create together a series of brackish water wetlands, grasslands, and forests, successively. The grasslands  particularly peeked our interest today as we went out for The Christmas Binoctacular,  we were going for the short-eared owl.

Some exciting news on the forefront of our ornithological minds today was that there have been some 1) short-eared owl spottings on grassy wetlands at Jake's Point 2) There were cave swallows spotted on the South Side of the Courthouse Inn (on the south side of the Cape May boardwalk) under the white pillars and 3) a brief report of a white-footed goose.

One-third of my bird watching team is currently galavanting around Barcelona so it was me and Jon to finish the end of the birding-year with a bang. It is really very nice birding with somebody who knows the wrens (and a multitude of others) by ear. We left Camden at 4:10  this morning and finished with the cold rain at 2:10 PM. That's ten hours, and here are the identified 54 species from today: 

( there are links for some of the more unusual and personal favorites)--

Brant, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern SHovelerNorthern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Lesser ScaupSurf Scooter, Long-Tailed Duck, BuffleheadCommon MerganserRuddy Duck.

Loons to Cormorants:
Common Loon,Double-Crested Cormorant

Bitterns to Vultures:
Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Cooper's HawkRed-Tailed HawkMerlin,  Northern Harrier
Rails to Cranes:
American Coot

Solitary SandpiperGreater YellowlegsSanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin,

Ring-billed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull

Pigeons to Woodpeckers:
Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Jays to Wrens:
Blue Jay, American Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren

Kinglets to Waxwings:
American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling

yellow-rumped warbler

Tanagers to Buntings:
Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-Throated SparrowDark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal

Blackbirds to Old World Sparrows:
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

My favorite bird from the day was the Merlin. It was really special. We were driving from Higbee Beach (where we saw the first bald eagle of the day) to Cape May Point and there was a Merlin sitting atop the telephone pole. I thought it was a kestrel when i spotted her at first.  we pulled over and jumped out of the car.  that blue-headed raptorous beauty let us look at her longer than ever before.

I came to understand today that birding is a lot like farming in learning presence to the smallest changes in seasonal conditions and the rhythm of the day. An example of this in birding terms can be seen in hawk migration. We know its a  Cooper's Hawk in the end of December, because all of the Broad-winged Hawks are already in Mexico.

I think we are really going to be ready for this year's Bird Watching World Series. I hope you looked at the links and fell in love with birds in a new way. I know i did just making the links. Is there a secret call in your heart? because if my brother decides that he's not coming back from Europe, then we're down one person for the world series. Any birders out there?

Todays trek: Jake's Landing, Cape May Board Walk, Higbee Beach, Cape May Point, Avalon Sea Watch, Jake's Landing.

Yesterday's species list from Tinicum National Wildlife Preserve (wetland area beside the Philadelphia Airport) :

kestrel, carolina wren, downy woodpecker, pintail, song-sparrow, red-tail hawk, great blue heron, green-winged teal, canadian goose, belted kingfisher, american widgeon, shoveler, ruddy duck, mallard, white-throated sparrow, common merganser, ring-billed gull, greater black-billed gull, hermaphraditic cardinal, turkey vulture, pigeon, mockingbird, chickadee, red-breasted nuthatch, northern harrier, brown creeper, black and white warbler, golden-crowned kinglet, ruby-crowned kinglet, black ducks, sharp-shinned hawk.
[23 Dec 2007 | Sunday]
centripetal solstice.
Current mood:  awake
When i partake in the divine liturgy i feel my gandmother's voice filling my body, i sing with her. I finally got to be with my grandmother yesterday and we sang some songs. I took the train early in the morning for a day full of family. My two grandmothers are very different from each other, but somehow it brings sense to the contradictory impulsions that are at tension within myself.
the ferich family arrived late to the retirement home to see grandmother, and the christmas program had already started. we made a little bit of noise  when we  shuffeled around the wheel chairs, bringing ourselves in to surround grandmother. some lady unnecesarily hushed us, and  my grandmother looked over at the lady and deviantly said "shut the hell up." i sat beside her and kisssed her face, and put my hand on hers and continued to listen to the music. We didn't exchange any words but we sang together for over an hour.

the pianist began taking requests , and i knew what i wanted to sing. I was really hoping one of the other senile people would miraculously remember their favorite song and be struck with a memory ,  triggering a medical-breakthrough out of alzheimer's. I was hoping somebody would request "Oh Come oh come Emmanuel" and break me out of my own emotional dementia. But that didn't happen, and some lady in the back kept raising her hand instead and requesting songs that were alright. I was really hoping  that somebody would request "o Come, o Come Emmanual."  those were the words that i wanted to sing with grandmother. Although so many of her memories and personality traits have shriveled inside her body, her full voice, met mine in raising exhaltation. she can really sing. this is the woman who could make the glass storm-door shake in soprano.

Amber's Grandmother recently passed away while she was in Guatamala on the Day of the Dead. The story of their connection with each other  is lovely and spiritually embodied. We (Amber and I) had a winter solstice party this year. They are never the same and yet always orbicular .  we shared some celtic and other pagan readings and danced to what we wanted to dance to by candlelight, and we lit things on fire. THis year we took down the smoke detector before the sacraments. I made a mixed CD for dancing with the darkness, and we even had our own shadow puppet guests. Amber's always so fun to dance with but it was especially great because she had just gotten home from being in Guatamala . And she had only listened to music that she liked 3 times in the past two months! Yes we danced to Bjork and SUfjan, but i also made a mixed solstice CD which included the best LOW albulm, the top three OK COmputer SOngs,  and some jamiroquai.

ANother great part of our solstice tradition is that we always call Elissa who moved to Chicago before the autumnal equinox last year. When you spend the marking hinges of the year together with certain people  (V-night shout-out) over a certain amount of time, parts of your being become interwoven with one another, kinda like the Philadelphia Experiment  ,based upon Einstein's Unified Field Theory conducted on the USS ELridge (don't read about this if you are home alone in the wind and rain.).

We sat in the candlelight for awhile. I had forgotten what it is like to wait  and be present to a darkness like that as it increases in time.  time adds value.  all the lights were out, and we added to its meaning through acknowledging the hinging. At noon on the solstice our shadows are the greatest they  will be during the whole year.

It was wonderful when we called Elissa and she was sitting around a with a bunch of women in a circle in Chicago. We held each other (thanks cellphone technologies) for a little while in the hinging of our solar system and thankfullness.  one of her friends wished me a Yule Tide Greeting, and i replied back to her group "Oh Come , Oh Come Emmanuel." It was a little ackward when it came out of my mouth, you never hear somebody  ever wish another "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel" but Elissa was very happy at my exclamation and she said "We just sang that." 

One of our solstice readings from a Christian-pagan book was all about springtime. Usually such readings of life exploding out of the earth are read during the vernal equinox, but with every turn of the crank i realize that these hinging days are the same. The four hinge days feel very similar to  the "Day out Of Time," an aspect of the Mayan calendar  that literaly does nothing to their calculated calendar. It doesn't move the calendar, an instrument for measuring time, because the day itself is out of time. Perhaps the 4 hinges of our 12 month cycle are the closest windows we have to understanding the mayan days out of time. They are much thicker with cosmic dust then leap year. Somehow Leap Year Always seemed so static, or at least void of meaning beyond being the correction of a miscalculation.

The more that i think about it do i realize that the equinoxes have a different energy than the solstices. ON the equinoxes we are in balance and can stand our eggs up on end. FOr those of us who work outside, particularly those of us who work with trees, birds, and general plant propogation we have come to realize the equinoxes are very draining, and you should just take the whole day off and go to the pine barrens or the ocean. I find a lot of hope in the number of daylight hours, because so far there is nothing that we have  been able to do as a blind and arrogant humanity that will change the number of daylight hours that we have. It is the number of daylight hours (and not temperature) that is the limiting factor for the flowering and development of our flora.   My brother had been working as an arborist for a number of years in trees not realizing the rather unexplainable shift in energy has an effect on us too. I was home for his birthday (4 days before the vernal equinox) and he was completely exhausted after a week at work, and he couldn't understand why. We discussed the physics of the seasons as being tied to a string that is being whipped around in a circle. there are particular locations in this rotation where this happens and if the string were to break he would fly off his previous path onto a tangental straight line and out of orbit. He said he was exhausted like he was having to hold onto something  really tightly, it is the centripetal force of the seasons.

21 Dec 2007 | Friday]
kickball on the solstice. bio
Current mood: amused
o.k. that was a really misleading title on my part, but i really wanted to see those words together and imagine wind blowing in my hair as i run as hard as i can having kicked a ball over the{the deepest (8-year-old)} right-fielder's head, finding utmost pleasure in the speed of my legs and arms (without having to actually slam frozen toes against a wet hard rubberball on the shortest day of the year. ) but the more i think about it (and realize that with everypassing day do i not only feel more like wonderwoman more and more, i am actually beginning to look like her more) the happier i get. yes the bio of womanhood is the process  i specifically wonder:

have you ever thought to yourself. wow, its nice to read people's bios, but boy i wish i knew that person. they sound all grown up. well, this is my bio, and you know me (and we're all apart of the same BODY), so maybe that will help us all to feel a little more connected in this commodified and commodifying world. i listened to a song between every sentence (wow myspace has some good music! who knew?) while writing the bio. maybe we can network and we didn't even know it.
Here's my BIO for the fellowship:
Andrea Ferich is the Greenhouse Manager for The Heart of Camden, a community development corporation in the Waterfront South neighborhood of Camden, NJ. In addition to directing healthy educational community building activities at a greenhouse, garden,  and breadoven she works as a community organizer in South Camden. She helped the Heart of Camden to develop an Environment Division to be a model for restorative environmental justice through community-based  urban ecosystem renewal.  When she isn't propagating plants with the neighborhood  or teaching art and gardening she seeks decorative solutions for proactive environmental change. She has most recently worked  on the Waterfront South Neighborhood Revitalization Plan, while working with local, and state officials to discuss land-use related to the Delaware riverfront and the South Jersey Port Corporation. She is always hawk-counting in Waterfront South, and has never been known to turn down a game of kickball.

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[18 Dec 2007 | Tuesday]
the magnificat auger
I had this dream last night. It was me and darkness in a bedroom from my childhood. I was terrified and a man who has been a large source of my anger lately was in the darkness. I knew i was dreaming, yet the only capability that i had in the darkness was my voice. In that terrifying darkness i found the litergy of the lamb. crying trembling innocent lamb grant us peace. the lamb took away
I woke up and went to morning mass this morning with  a striking presence to the beauty of the sun. I told Father Michael about my dream over our mo(u)rning coffee and oatmeal.. . 
He recalled a ploughshare action memory  from 1972. The Berrigan Brothers and "The Harrisburg 7" were on trial for conspiring to kidnap Henry Kissinger and bomb some steam tunnels. There were so many people that supported the accused in Harrisburg, at their trial, that the house of hospitality's floors were covered with sleeping bodies the night before the jury's decision. Father Michael was the first to wake up in the morning. The Irish farmer poet priest was startled awake by the sound of what he thought was a crying child outside. He carefully stepped over the sleeping comrads and opened the door to the house and the crying child that he had heard was one crying lamb, all alone. standing.  Later that day the Harrisburg 7 were acquitted of all of their charges.
I need to take this time and say that it is only the liturgy that keeps me , like an auger going around with each turn going deeper in the ground.

Study of a man using an auger, for The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin, Albrecht Dürer, ca 1496<---- a="" an="" auger="" for="" i="" man="" of="" tudy="" using="">The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin
, Albrecht Dürer, ca 1496)
I was filled with sorrow on Sunday and it synthesized with joy today, by truth. IN that moment of deepest sorrow , i remove my hands from my face, in the darkest night it is the quivering lamb that has mercy on us. ON Sunday after mass Father Michael said that he felt as though he was baptized again when he held his face against mine covered in tears. I told him that i had a broken heart. he said it is a stretching heart. It felt so damn good to weep like that, and i have been given a deeper more authentic love for Sacred Heart and my neighborhood .The tears need to come out so we can see more clearly, sometimes. This morning, I felt a strong presence of the passion that i have been awaiting, devotion. devotion
I went to the greenhouse this morning after mass and divided some ferns, and propagated black pearl peppers and impatiens by cutting. peter parker was there with me, ( he told me today that he was born in 1938, the same year as Marvel comic's Peter Parker, when i asked him if i could call him Spidey).  I had my arms up to my elbows in potting mix when i heard red-tail declaring across the open skies.  I called back to the hawk, and she declared again, this time she had found what she was looking for. it was a joyous declaration. (Peter knew it was a red-tailed hawk too by the call, which made me very happy.)
Candlelit vespers from Sunday evening are the joyous declaration of my heart. After the service on Sunday evening my friend Fran came up to me with a tear in her eye. She said that during the service when she looked at me (the pews face each other quaker-style) i was mary with a halo of light. a mexican icon. well mary, your name means sorrow. What a deep sorrow you have to open yourself up to, a vulnerability of expectation. your suffering  lifts up the lowly. sorrow didn't hide behind her hands.
de la rosa suffering mother, your song:

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants for ever, even as he said to our fathers."

I get to help put the lights up on the 3 story christmas tree from scaffolding tomorrow. it is my expectation that there will be some more praying mantis egg cases found.

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[16 Dec 2007 | Sunday]
a praying mantis egg case under our christmas tree
Current mood: blessed
Category: immaculatly Dreams and the Supernatural
Today is December 16, 2007. It is exactly three months after my birthday, and nine months before my birthday, which means that to the best of my knowledge today is the 28th anniversery of my conception. 28 makes me kinda catch my breath a little bit *28 is the return of venus. Its a south facing window watching the sun i love move across the sky.

I woke up this morning half an hour before mass started. It is advent, the time of the great expectation and i feel as though the only expectation that i could hope to reach for during mass today is the expectation of no expectation at all. it was so nice to know for the first time in a long time exactly how i was feeling. i was weeping, and i was taken outside during the time of peace to dance in the rain. lord let us see your face, we turn to you. give us a sign oh love of all ages

I woke up this morning half an hour before mass and looked out my back window into the trees and the sky, the same that i do every morning. in the deciduous tree in my backyard sat a red-tailed hawk. she sat there in my waking moments, and saw until she flew, and flew until she caught. i hear her. i know the silohouette of her shadow.

after mass today i found my friend pam. we talked about the broken sacred heart and found so much gratitude in the joy of sharing our sorrow, i was weeping and she stood there with me. we stood in the sanctuary together waiting for her grandchildren and the 3 story christmas tree to come through the opened-wide church doors. The longshoremen from the Delaware River port came to bring us the tree, i saw joe balzano (the director of the port) and found much hope in this tree that was coming from a man who could have changed his mind this year and chosen to be angry, but he was just as excited about the tree as pam's grandchildren were (I hadn't seen him since i spoke on my grandmother's 90th birthday against the methadone clinic.) When the Christmas tree (i think it was a douglas fir) went up , i found the sorrow of advent as its strength. none of it needed to happen, but christ comes to us every year. I walked up to the Christmas tree that now awaits the lights at sacred heart and there on the floor sat a pieace of broken branch fr and attached to the douglas fir branch was a praying mantis egg case on a pieace of our christmas tree. the branch is about the same size as the branch in my hand in that photograph

<----------------------------- wbr="">----

The praying mantis egg case carries over 1,000 praying babies that were concieved in the ultimate act of death and resurrection (insert praying mantis "(you tube)" mating ritual here) . . . .i felt prayer today on the anniversary of my conception, and was given a praying mantis egg case under the christmas tree.
advent------vespers service this evening. our voices echo at sacred heart in the evening under candles. i started remembering my dreams again.
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[15 Dec 2007 | Saturday]
THE School of the Americas and the Privitization of Latin American Liberties.
Current mood: angsty
Since 1990, tens of thousands of  people have gathered each November at the gates of Ft. Benning, Georgia - home of the SOA - on the anniversary of the 1989 massacre of 14-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador. Nineteen of the 26 Salvadoran army officers responsible for this atrocity were trained at the SOA. The gathering commemorates all those who have died at the hands of SOA-trained soldiers, and stands in solidarity with the victims of human rights abuses in Latin America. More than 60,000 Latin American soldiers have been trained in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence, interrogation tactics, and torture by U.S. tax-dollars. The SOA graduates have frequently used their skills against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates have been educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who oppose the corporate hegemony of the region. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, "disappeared," massacred, and forced into fleeing their countries by soldiers trained at the School of the Americas. The closing of the SOA/WHINSEC is of utmost importance, but the fight for human rights in the Americas is beyond the gates of Fort Benning, GA. It is apparent that the closing of the SOA must correspond with continued resistance work against the privitization of Latin-American water, and the privitization of the U.S. military.

The "free-trade" stipulations implemented by the IMF and World Bank (Bretton Woods Institutions) have been violently enforced by the graduates of the SOA. These institutions require countries to follow structural adjustment programs (SAPs) to "help" develop the countries through the privitization of water and the devaluation of currency.  The film entitled "The Water is Ours, Damn It!"  clearly shows the correlation between SOA graduates and the violent repression during the Bolivian water wars, and Latin American human rights. This past July, 14 Salvadorans were detained and charged with acts of terrorism, and face up to sixty years in prison for organizing against the privitization of ground water and municipal infrastructure, a requirement by the World Bank. The privitization of water has had the greatest effect on indigenous people and small farmers. In a country where an average worker needs three times the prevailing minimum wage to support a family, many now need to choose between drinking water and  the education of their children.  According to Fortune Magazine, water is one of the world's great business opportunities, "it promises to be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th." If trainees of the SOA bring violence to Latin America in the name of economic security for the global banks then we will only continue to see great human rights violations carried out by SOA graduates against the resistance of the privitization of water. 

A second main area that must be resisted simultaneously with the SOA is the privitization of the U.S. military. Blackwater USA employs private armies throughout the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan, in the aftermath of Katrina, and now along the Mexican border and throughout Central America. Blackwater, USA has been awarded over one billion dollars in U.S. military no-bid contracts. Their main headquarters, a 7,000 acre facility in Moyock, North Carolina is the world's largest private military base, with other expanding facilities in Illinois and California. These mercenary fighters are paid three times that of their military counterparts, and are not held accountable to anybody, nor are their no-bid contracts made available to members of congress that have asked to review them. Blackwater, USA is the world's leader in the development of private armies training individuals in  techniques of attack, capture, and interrogation for domestic and foreign policing, strongly resembling everything that is so wrong with the SOA. Governments and corporations have these mercanery armies at their foreign and domestic disposal for the preservation of their economic bottomline. Blackwater was hired by the Pentagon in 2004 to train an elite Azeri force in Azerbaijan for the sole purpose of protecting the oil pipeline. Blackwater clearly sees itself above the law with the undiscrimatory killing of Iraqi civilans on September 17, 2007, and the mistreatment of American citizins during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The corresponding resistance to the privitazation of armies and water is crucial in the continued work to close the SOA and all schools of torture.

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[11 Dec 2007 | Tuesday]
new friends with some wise old men.
Current mood: amused
Category: Friends
Today a man named Peter Parker came to the greenhouse,and he brought his  friend Hal. I really appreciate garden side-kicks, particularly when they fought in world wars and now collect exotic lilacs,and study pedigree charts. I like Peter Parker, I like his old "man-"nerisms and his garden geekiness. He knows a lot about gardening , and even  better- he has been a  gardener for a long time. He really likes to take cuttings from shrubs, and add a root hormoine to stimulate root growth.  Roots grow out from the branch that was cut from the shrub, when it is emersed in water. Each  branch grows its own root system, and then it is PLANTED  in hopes of taking over the world . These branches grow roots out of necessity.  Each cutting from the shrub becomes a new plant with its own root system. It bends all rules, in its sweet goodness. I think this might just become one of my top three methods of propogation.

Peter brought his friend Hal. They both consider themselves "Geneologists." Somebody at Sacred Heart told Peter Parker about the greenhouse, and he first came down last week to start working on Father Michael's geneology. Peter and  I discovered that some of our relatives came to America on the same ship. They were called pilgrims.  He smells like sailor's cigarettes, and  has  yellow  rings on the beard around his mouth.  He is really funny and encouraging.

Peter and Hal planted lettuce and arugula today, and they're going to begin coming every tuesday morning (hopefully forever). . Here's to new friends with old men, particularly old men who practice genetic-lineaology  (geneology in the garden perhaps). They're squeezably geeky,  in the way you want Peter Parker and his friend to be. Peter Parker's friend, Hal, fought in the Pacific theater during World War II, and he told me today that i am nice and pretty, and he is going to warn Peter Parker's wife.  Yes, Hal's pants are pulled high. And yes, in case you were wondering, the answer is yes, they love heirloom tomatoes.

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[04 Dec 2007 | Tuesday]
grandmothers and grace in the coming advent.
Current mood: catalyzed
Category: Life
Today is my Italian Grandmother's 90th birthday. Dorothy Marie Fanelli was born on December 4, 1917 in Passaic, NJ. She became Dot Ferich and worked as the head of tube reclemation in the television department at RCA in Lancaster . She is the grandmother that i most look like and I can feel her backbone in mine and imagine her curves in my continued shaping as aging-woman. i lived in her attic with my mom and dad and baby brother for 2 years during my early childhood. This house, 440 North Mary Street, is where my grandfather was born near Franklin and Marshall College. I lived in that attic again when i was 22 year old after returning home from a semester in Belize to acclimate out of the jungle rhythms and my daily snorkel.  My grandmother gives me grace and in remembering her countless miracles and the love of known and unknown caring people of Lancaster, Passaic, and Milan i write about the grace of the day. I called my dad to get my grandmother's number because I was at work and I didn't have it. I asked about the 90th birthday party that i didn't get to on sunday afternoon. He talked for 3 minutes about how good the Italian chocolate icying moist flatcake was for Grandmother's birthday. appearently it had texture when you bit into it, it didn't just melt in your mouth like angelfood cake, and it melted in your mouth like it had butter in it, it was real heavy and it was moist, but it was cool, it had a cool moistness to it .  anyway, it was a good cake, and somehow I listened and asked questions about the cake and all I could do was bite my bottom lip , I needed my grandmother's grace, and the breath of nothingness in her presence, known as inspired grace.
My dad and I finally got off the phone and I called Lutheran Homes on Good Drive in Lancaster, PA and asked to talk with my Grandmother, it was her 90th birthday. The nurses got on the portable phone and walked to find her. Grandmother had fallen on thanksgiving, and broken her elbow , i haven't seen her for a few months, and i am fairly pained at the thought of her with her broken elbow. i held the telephone to my ear  and held joy and sorrow in my heart, as two sides of the coin of love to talk with her through the dementia and my continued onslaught of tears. "I will see you on Saturday," I told her "and i continued to talk so i wouldn't cry. I am thankful for the courage to call and tell stories, and help her remember that everything is o.k., and she doesn't need to pay anybody at the retirement home ,  and that i got a raise a work, and they got paid all the money they need. I told her what i knew would make her happy. And hoped that my voice would settle into the peace that everything is o.k. I told her that my hair is longer than it has been since i was 4 years old, and that when my mother was brushing it on thanksgiving day she said that it hadn't been that long since my grandmother had cut it for the first time. I also told her that i had a boyfriend. and she asked me questions about him, like where he worked and what his name was, and i answered in the most truthful way that i could about hIM.  I told her i was coming to see her on Saturday.  and that i was really happy. We talked a bit about bicycles and about when i taught my brother michael how to ride at the ferich family trailor 12 miles from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and all the different bicycles. And then i told her about my hair again. I know that there is nothing in the world that would make her any happier then the current length of my hair, and for that I am joyed.  I am thankful for the graceful peace that my grandmother and I gave each other. The joy and the sorrow are so deep that they (joy and sorrow) are no longer distinguishable from each other, but rather the emotion is fully both, joy and sorrow, eye to eye. Because there is grace, we are capable of a third dimension, or the possibility of integration. "Yes, I am full of joy and full of sorrow, and yes because of grace it is both." Here's to the third way.

Grace is more than a thought in that is is unsaid and unthought. Grace is tangible in the same way negative space can be tangible. One of the best ways to feel and know this "nothingness" is to take the time and look at a tree in your life, and draw it. When you draw it, let go of drawing the actual tree, and instead draw the negative space or the shape of the space between the branches. The emerging tree almost breaths. The negative space matters and it is by grace alone that we may be.  Grace is a breath, inspired (spire- breath) from one to another. Grace is the wind moving your sail  and 127 measures of rest before the tympanist's crescendo.
Read music for a little while, the rests are often written out, they are of utmost importance to the notes that are played.
I am grateful that i could say anything to my grandmother at all.

Grace makes living in the present a possibility. Grace is the choice to be still and know. In choosing stillness and knowing the validity of grace our loving is substantiated in full presence and inspiration.
Many artists can understand the explanation of this through the process of watercoloring. If I am painting on white paper, then the white in the painting is left unpainted. It is the choice to value the white by choosing what will be left unpainted before any other next color  is painted. That is the white in the painting at the end.
I breath this grace and nothingness for the healing of my neighborhood, and for you and the healing of your air, land and water. breathe. Somehow the  margins of  possibility have an irresistable hope. Be inspired, certainly its the only way that any of us might ever hope to be inspiring. I found grace today in the story of our liberation. I was at the South Jersey Port Board Corporation (SJPC) and gave them my grandmother's grace , and i think i heard us all breath some sort of sigh of relief.

Here's my morning at the SJPC (and why i can be blogging about this during my work day)    :

I got to work at 9:40 AM and stood infront of my boss who couldn't understand why i was in the office because i was supposed to be at the 9:30 AM South Jersey Port Corporation( SJPC ) BOARD meeting. Huge miscommunication somewhere between her and I.
 The SJPC is the location of the proposed relocation of a 1,000 person a day methadone clinic, a crazy   nightmarish mixture of lots of truck drivers, seamen, and recovering addicts,taking place on already well established drug corners. I have been hired  12 more hours a weeek at work until the end of the year to fight against the methadone clinic being located in the port because of the serious consequences that it   would have on the revitalization of South Camden, and the work of the Heart of Camden in Waterfront South. and so the meeting went like this. . .. . . . .  . 
I show up at 9:45 AM. i had missed their danish time and items A-J on the agenda. I sat in the square room with a large rectangular table with 17 people sitting around it. 15 of them were men. 13 of them were Italian men. They finished with the last point, point P on the agenda:
Port Board:      " . . . . and  hopefully the price of plywood will continue to rise. That  concludes the agenda items for today. I think we only have one person here, would you like to make a public comment?" port board turns to andrea and she walks to stand in front of the board.
Farmer Andrea:  nods her head "yes" to the port and simultaneously finally finds some humor and freedom and courage to speak to the board, and it came from a place of grace and remembering in a flash a telephone conversation she had the night before with an 11 year old from Sacred Heart  on the last day of her grandmother's 89th year. The 11 year old told her that he was confused because during church on Sunday he saw Andrea's old boyfriend from Philadelphia "making out" with another girl in the pew in front of him for 40 seconds (he said he had timed them ) and he couldn't understand what was going on.  Yes somehow the grace to speak to the board was the same grace that she was given to realize that she was forfeiting love by holding on to anger  with clenched fists trying to let go and create her own space simultaneously and a most sacred parish. "Yes I do have something to share with the Board. "
"I stand here before you again to tell you that the relocation of the methadone clinic inside this port is still a horrible idea. I am here to tell  you that its o.k. for you to NOT WANT IT EITHER. The mayor has taken it upon herself to say that South Camden already has been dumped on "enough"  and that only 35% of the people that come to the clinic are from Camden. The COO (state appointed imminent domain ambASSador and structural adjuster) of Camden doesn't want it either. There is nobody that thinks the methadone clinic is well run, or that it should be placed in the port accept for the  Parkside Recovery Methadone Clinic (and George Norcross tthe South Jersey democratic chair and President of the board of Cooper Hospital) .  Its o.k. for you to think this is a bad idea, because it is. I look forward to continue being a good neighbor with the South Jersey Port Corporation , and I look forward to continuing to work with you for the continued revitalization of South Camden."
Port Board: collective smile. Collective thought of thanks
:::::::::::::::::::::end of morning:::::::::::yes::::::::::
Most recently I saw my grandmother with my mother during an unannounced visit. When we first walked into Lutheran Villages we didn't see her in the main sitting area, or with all of the others in the large group room singing along with a pianist, or in in her room. Where was grandmother? We walked back into the large group room and rescanned the greyness carefully to find my mirrored face + 62 years. She was the pianist? There she was singing and playing songs from 60+ years of Lutheran church choir. Her children and their friends would come to the house at 440 North Mary Street and ask her to sing the notes that would ring and shake the doorbell chimes and the glass of the storm door with her voice.pulsate.  And  She sat there playing the paino, with her same hands. She said that was the first time she had played at Lutheran Villages. I watched  4 different songs come out of her without the written score, and watched in amazement at how her curved curved arthritic fingers could push the keys at all. We sang together, and I remembered that I sing with her every Sunday during mass through the "Our Father," particularly during the "for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for-Ev-v-v-vvvvver A a a amm-en."  It  felt like "nothing" changed to sit beside her best possible posture and moving fingers. "Nothing" became everything through being our strong inherited voice.
Last Christmas during advent, the Emmanual Lutheran Choir had come to the retirement home for the annual Christmas concert. When it came time to sing "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" the choir director said that for 40 years the solo was sung by one woman, and now it takes 4 to carry what Dorothy Ferich held in her one voice.

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[15 Nov 2007 | Thursday]
vocational meanderings. . . fellowship of the ELP.
Current mood: calm
Category: Jobs, Work, Careers
So here's my first shot at blogging. I hope that this works so that the gap between work and worship becomes ever so increasingly smaller. The following blog is four questions and my answers to a fellowship that I am applying for. Basically i think this is a shot to get paid money to ride a sk8board around the neighborhood, make mud pies, and support the gonging goddesses of the world. Its rather longer and as linear as i come, but there are some poetics, and if you've ever wondered. . . .this might help me make more sense to you. But i do request that the following will not become a template in which you anticipate future blogs to be structured. . . . . . .

1. ELP (Environmental Leadership Program) aims to create a community of individuals from throughout the environmental and social change fields by actively recruiting emerging leaders from academia, government, non-profits, and the private sector. ELP promotes diversity of race and ethnicity, gender identity, sector, professional background, values and traditions, and environmental issue expertise. Describe the unique perspectives, background, or experience you can offer to the ELP community. How do you hope to benefit from its diversity and what would you like to contribute to it? (700 words maximum)
I greatly look forward to what I can intellectually share with other participants in terms of sustainable development and the connections between the social and environmental factors that shape our local living economies. When individuals with vision come to discuss alternatives for the future the diversity in our collaborations carves the way for wisdom in foresight and planning. Our diversity makes more whole the vision that we can share or co-create.
One of the greatest attributes that I will bring to the ELP is my creative carrying capacity and sensitivity to understanding community building processes. I have problem-solving skills in issues of community development, public safety and planning with an ecological lens. I am a farmer and ecological story-teller in America's most dangerous city. Not only do I find myself in a unique socio-ecological landscape in South Camden, I find myself in a place with great influence and authority within the Christian church's understanding of the politics of Jesus within the Roman Empire, and the result of the church forgetting its alternative (to the empire) economy. My voice is annuncified as a woman of faith working toward the revelation of creation through farming. My search for sustained social change is grounded in love. As much as I can love the children that I work with and teach, and as much as I love bringing together a group of neighbors for a feast with the vegetables that we grew can I believe in social change. As much as I can hope in the capabilities of a woman in Baghdad or Guatemala City can I hope for the possibility of transition for our society. I am working toward a society that allocates resources and internalizes externalities in such a way that measures the true cost of our agricultural practices in a globalized world. While working toward sustainable development in Camden, the dark side of the American Dream, I am hoping to play my part in how we redefine progress.
For the church, I hope to continue to see that if we are really going to be concerned about loving our neighbors we must be concerned about what they are breathing, drinking, and eating. And if we are going to have some clarity of vision we need to have our finger on the pulse of what went so wrong with our progress in the conversation for healthier indicators. As I am here farming, I wonder went wrong, and I see a land that desires to be made known its goodness. My understanding of Eve's Garden (sustainable development toward local living economies) is deeply rooted in the integration of diverse church theologies. I have been asked to speak at secular and faith-based universities, conferences, and churches about the earth and the church. The message has been one of sorrow and hope, one that says that we are all one, we're all in this together, and that we need to relearn how we've come to understand loving our neighbor as creations. I grew up in the church in Lancaster, PA, and I grew up loving the earth. Now I understand that loving the earth is integral to my Christian theological interpretations. This is in addition to my peace-making efforts, and feminist theologies. Now I find myself in a great opportunity to reclaim the land's goodness along sustainable trajectories in a post-abandoned riverside town.
My mother grew up on a farm along the Susquehanna River, and our matriarchal lineage is Native to the Susquehanna. The Native Theology accentuates more of the feminist theology within the liberation theology in that it is rooted in a spiritual connection between land and dominating forces that commodify and manipulate productivity in a separation of means and ends. I continue to rework a Native American land theology into my own understanding of liberation theology and feminist theology in support of my work as a farmer. The Biblical Creation liberation story is more than present to be read to the ears that listen. It is a message of peace and love that can be better lived out through local living economies. And to the ELP I bring a strong connection that leads to peace- making in the urban ecosystem through social organizing around access to healthy food and reclaiming the land as good and nurturing.
2. Describe the evolution of your professional work and your contributions to the practice or thinking about current environmental and social change issues on the national, state, or local level. Feel free to discuss your personal background and how your experiences have influenced your perspectives on and strategies for environmental, social, and economic change. Please be as specific as possible when discussing activities that demonstrate your public leadership ability or potential. (500 words maximum)
I moved to Camden, NJ knowing that it was the most important context for me to work toward the union of sustainable development and the work of peacemaking and hospitality in the local and global community. It is very grounding to know that I am doing my part to work toward a more beautiful possibility by engaging the darkest side of the American Dream in a model for urban ecosystem renewal along the mighty untamed Delaware River. The people that I live in community with are poets, carpenters, teachers, bicyclists and healers. We live toward an urban homestead. My community is continuing to work as peacemakers through a program called Voices in the Wilderness in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. The community has also worked in Central and South America with the Christian Peacemaking Teams. I view their work as inseparable from mine, because we all work to synergize a life that we see very clearly where everything is connected, and that we are what we eat. We work for the bread of life, not militarization. The bread that we break together is a physical metaphor for our transitions toward our local living economy. We all work to live together toward the union of our reality and the realization, that we are what we eat. Conventional agriculture continues to perpetuate warfare with its inefficient practices and high energy inputs. It is simply converting fossil fuels into food. I lament this. Yet, it gives me clarity of vision to understand the vocational importance to work toward something that I believe in, access to local food. This neighborhood has had far more than its fair share of hardships, and it is from this context that I am inspired.
In the 1960's 70% of Camden's taxbase and economy collapsed when RCA, Campbell's Soup, and NY shipyard which employed 36,000 people, closed or relocated. Factories moved to foreign shores and left Waterfront South as an Enterprise Zone with reduced environmental regulation to encourage other industries to stay. This did little to reestablish the tax base and left three superfund sites and nine brownfields in our neighborhood. However, because of the renewed community efforts within the neighborhood Waterfront South is in vast transition now.
The city of Camden was created when so many of the consequences of our pursuit of the American Dream were inefficiently placed in one neighborhood that now struggles squarely with the state's neoclassical dumps, along a river that ebbs to be whispered. There are over 1,700 residents in this neighborhood where up to 50% of the houses were abandoned only a few years ago. I find great hope in the social change that affordable housing brings in creating stability in education, and the rhythms of participation and knowledge/resource sharing. Currently the Heart of Camden is under construction with 24 houses. The full rehabilitation of 24 houses at one time is revitalizing. We have planted over 200 shade trees in the neighborhood in the past three years.
I am one of the members of the Heart of Camden's Welcoming crew that helps to make our new neighbors feel more at home. Acts like this, the garden activities, and the arts help to facilitate the rebirth of our neighborhood. The houses become homes, and hopefully our planning endeavors will build a neighborhood where children can learn not to take from the earth more than they can give. My position at the Heart of Camden allows for me to work toward building a healthier neighborhood through community-based sustainable development.
I am the greenhouse manager for Eve's Garden in Camden, NJ. In addition to the centralized focus of my position as the greenhouse manager and community organizer I have also transitioned into urban planning consultation working on the neighborhood redevelopment plan and a Center for Transformation, currently a sustainability and community development think tank. Camden is under a corruption where board members and appointed officials get a little too close to one another. A strong political democratic chair (George Norcross) is profiteering for himself and his hatchmen. The state eats out of his hand more regularly than not, and historically the profit of a few has been at the expense of our revitalization. In our community organizing against this corruption we have found some tremendous unification. We are standing up as a neighborhood to say that we've already taken enough. Fortunately when the neighborhood's best interest doesn't have me in Trenton my job description brings me close to the earth and the people..

3. What are your long-term goals for your life and career? What strategic environmental and/or social change do you want to lead and which constituencies do you aim to reach and how? Please mention any specific work and constituencies in the Delaware Valley region and your goals for effecting change on a regional level. (400 words maximum)
Eve's Garden is a sustainability vehicle for the Heart of Camden non-profit housing CDC through greenhouse and garden activities that organizes community along sustainable trajectories. The children are continuing to learn how to grow healthy food in the garden, and learning the importance of nutrition in their development. Eve's Garden would like to continue its collaborative efforts in nutrition education, ecological literacy, and community development. We have collaborated with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension in hosting nutrition education workshops on ethnic foods, kitchen safety, and daily nutritional healthy alternatives. Eve's Garden has also hosted the Camden AHEC (Area Health Education Concerns) Junior Chef's program at our outdoor kitchen. AHEC runs the Camden Farmer's Market where Eve's Garden presents culinary herbs and as some our grown vegetables. We would like to continue to build our seed to table curriculum and entrepreneurial capabilities while collaborating with participants of the NJ Youth Corp, Sacred Heart School, Urban Promise, and our own Eve's Garden Junior Farmer's Program. We make whole wheat bread and healthy casseroles and quesadillas in our bread oven ,and thoroughly explore "5 a day" options with preparation techniques with food from the garden. The garden brings about social change.
Eve's Garden is currently collaborating with a minister from the Camden Rescue Mission to develop our own Waterfront South Farmer's Market. The market is included in the recent Waterfront South neighborhood redevelopment plan. The plan calls for the expansion of Camden Rescue Mission's entrepreneurial leadership in the neighborhood. This market will build a strong backbone to our developing local living economy with access to fresh food. There is only one supermarket in the city, and none in Waterfront South. We are addressing access to good fresh food by growing it ourselves. Waterfront South gardeners select the seeds that they desire from a seed catalogue and grow the actual variety from seed. We encourage heirloom seed planting and are continuing to save seeds. In addition to utilizing our own urban farm, neighbors take trays of heirloom tomato plants and collard greens to a rural farm. It is grown in partnership with family farmers in a land and plant sharing model based in bartering labor and seedlings for fresh produce. This is where neighbors have access to the use of land in partnership with local farmers in the country.

4. What facets of ELP most appeal to you and why? Specifically, how do you hope ELP will help you accomplish your professional goals for environmental and social progress? Feel free to describe potential collaborations you might pursue with others in the Delaware Valley Regional Network and how they could help you in your work. (400 words maximum)
What appeals to me most about the ELP is impressive list of previous fellows and the resources for collaboration and problem-solving toward real socio-economic change that brings about a healthier earth. I am excited for the glimpses of possibility that I have seen in Waterfront South over the past five years. We see progress in a neighborhood that believes in its own unified strong voice. The ELP will help me to understand my capabilities of community empowerment through leadership and the continued creation of a local living economy. Our community organizing will continue to be grounded in ecological practices with a functioning educational farm and bread oven. We will continue to beautify our neighborhood and reclaim the land through the arts and perma-culture minded planning, streetscaping, and mitigation through the continued unification of the Family Services and Environmental Divisions within the Heart of Camden. I hope the ELP will help me to understand my full leadership potential and capabilities within the Delaware River Valley.
I would like to help facilitate the development of an urban riparian greenway along the Delaware River. The Audobon Society expressed interest in the possibility of creating an urban field station in Waterfront South after a day of birding with the neighborhood school children through Eve's Garden. I am interested in the continued collaboration with soil scientists, appropriate technologies, urban planners, indigenous shaman, and engineers.

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