Regina, SK – May 6, 2009 – On May 2 and 3, Regina residents took to the streets to listen, learn, and share about their neighbourhoods. Over 400 people came out to explore their collective history, architecture, planning, and personalities through the free neighbourhood walking tours.

Celebrating the legacy of Jane Jacobs, the foremost urban thinker of our times, the Jane’s Walks inspire citizens to see how people live, work, and play in their built environment to help shape their communities.

This year’s walks covered nine Regina neighbourhoods including Downtown, the Core, Whitmore Park, North Central, Germantown, Crescents, Centre Block, Cathedral, and the Warehouse District. The 11 volunteer tour guides did an amazing job at sharing historical and personal stories to help bridge social and geographic gaps and create a space for Regina to discover itself.

Response to the walks has been overwhelmingly positive:

“This event made a substantial contribution to our sense of the possible in the city and I found the whole thing very inspiring.”

“It’s such a pleasant way to learn all kinds of interesting information about the city.”

“I had the opportunity to take part in two of the walks and both were absolutely fabulous and very interesting to say the least.”

“Although I walk through the area on my way to work, it was fun to remember our student days of almost twenty years ago!”

“The guides were great and the program was really well done. I look forward to next year!”

“I know this will be something that will continue in our city and I certainly plan on taking part again!”

Jane Jacobs’ believed that walkable, diverse and mixed used neighborhoods are the hallmark of a healthy city and citizenry. This year, Regina joined other cities across the world in celebrating this vision.

Regina’s Jane’s Walk is grateful for the support of our exclusive radio sponsor, CBC Saskatchewan, as well as our community partners, Regina Ecoliving, Inner Circle Management, and The Great Excursions Company.

We also extend a big “thank you” to everyone who came out to take part in this exciting event!

To join a mailing list for details of future Jane’s Walks, please email: janeswalkregina@gmail.com

About Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, and yet her 1961 best-seller, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail that are now common sense to today’s architects, planners, politicians and activists. Foremost is her simple yet revolutionary idea that dense, mixed use neighborhoods are the key to the health and survival of a city.

Contact: Laura Pfeifer

Regina Jane’s Walk Organizer

janeswalkregina@gmail.com

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A conversation with activist Derrick Jensen about the spaces betwixt & beyond hope & despair

(originally published in the Summer 2008 issue of ascent magazine )

This story is about a conversation I’ve been having with revolutionary environmental activist / thinker / talker / writer Derrick Jensen. The conversation started about two years ago. It’s not a real one — the closest I’ve come to actually meeting the man was this past week when he spoke from his home in northern California to a half-full university auditorium in Regina, Saskatchewan through a choppy live video feed. Derrick sat in his study, an overflowing bookshelf in the background, his cat meowing from atop his lap and frogs singing from the cedar, pine and redwood forest outside. For two hours, he talked to us about everything from denial and despair to joy and love. Completely captivated, I let his garbled audio, pixilated image and crystal-clear ideas about our culture flood over me.

At home afterwards, I was ravenously hungry and barely able to string together a sentence — as though being so totally engaged had sapped me of every bit of energy I had. But I noticed something strange about it: despite my exhaustion, a surplus of emotional energy bubbled up. My body and mind were drained, but my heart was (and remains) alive and awake.

My emotional alertness surprised me. There’s just no getting around the fact that Derrick’s work is profoundly threatening, and I’d prepared myself going in for the very real possibility that his talk might devastate me. His purpose is not to cajole or sugarcoat, but to do whatever he must to save the salmon and trees and planet he loves. He speaks openly about the need to bring down civilization in order to stop the inherently unsustainable dominant culture, and he uses such words as “apocalypse” and “killing the planet” and “despair” — the kind of language that remains essentially taboo despite the physical realities we currently face. Anyone who attempts to engage with his work must be ready to question their entire worldview and all the assumptions they hold about the culture we live in.

For a long time I wasn’t ready to do this. I’ve visited Derrick’s website, had numerous conversations about his ideas, skimmed interviews with him — but somehow A Language Older Than Words has sat on my bedside table for the better part of a year and a half, and I’m still less than 100 pages in. It’s not that I disagree with him or am in denial; it’s actually just the opposite. I agree with Derrick that our culture is going in a fundamentally unsustainable direction. One day my eyes opened to the realization that no matter how much I will it or what action I take, it is distinctly possible that the world will be in worse shape when I leave it than when I arrived. This realization came unbidden, and when it happened despair flooded in. Hope drowned. I panicked and flailed.

That was nearly three years ago, and I’ve been managing despair ever since. Part of that has meant being careful about the amount and kinds of information I expose myself to. It doesn’t mean I don’t still think about the situation we face, because I do — pretty well constantly. But I don’t read a lot of books or watch a lot of TV or go to a lot of talks, because taking in more information hasn’t seemed to help me cope. If anything, it makes me more anxious about not knowing how to appropriately respond in my own life. Instead, I’ve struggled away on my own in survival mode, doing whatever I can to protect myself enough to just keep going and figure out what comes after despair.

All that said, coming away from Derrick’s talk feeling so emotionally robust left me very curious about what might have shifted. Nothing he said was anything I hadn’t heard before or didn’t understand, at least intellectually. But it was as if his words settled overtop all the questions I’ve been battling for the last three years, and the knowledge finally synched up in a way that I could hold and not break. In my heart we had this conversation:

me Derrick, this work is so heartbreaking. At a certain point my hope just went away, and I hit a wall of despair. I felt desperate, and all I could think to do was to try anything and everything to manage it — to medicate it. Meditation, yoga, living at an ashram, traveling, taking a sabbatical, overworking, being with family, being with friends, gardening, writing and reflection, community involvement, crushes. It was as though I was compulsively trying everything I could think of to escape the despair.

I’ve actually found it quite liberating to simply feel despair. Despair is an appropriate response to a desperate situation.

One day I was just sobbing, and I called up a friend of mine, Jeanette Armstrong, who is an Okanagan Indian, writer and activist. I said to her, “This work is just killing me. It’s breaking my heart.” And she said, “Yeah, it’ll do that.” And I said, “The dominant culture hates everything, doesn’t it?” And she said, “Yeah, it does. Even itself.” And I said, “It has a death urge, doesn’t it?” And she said, “Yeah, it does.” And I said, “Unless it’s stopped it’s going to kill everything on the planet, isn’t it?” And she said, “Yeah, it is. Unless it’s stopped.” And then I said, “We’re not going to make it to some great new glorious tomorrow, are we?” And she thought for a moment and then she said the best thing she could possibly say, which was, “I’ve been waiting for you to say that.”

The reason it was the best thing she could say was that it normalized my despair. It let me know that despair is an appropriate response to a desperate situation; the sorrow is just sorrow and the pain is just pain. It’s not so much the sorrow or even the pain that hurts, as it is my resistance to it. It let me know that I can feel all those things and it wouldn’t kill me. There’s this idea that if you really recognize how bad things are you have to go around being miserable all the time. But the truth is I’m really happy, and I am full of rage and sorrow and joy and happiness and contentment and discontent. I’m full of all those things. It’s okay to feel more than one thing at the same time.

me I can get there on an intellectual level, but despair wants to eat the joy and happiness up. My mind does acrobatics trying to talk myself through it. My favourite is this one: I feel despair. Despair is not a sustainable state. If despair is not sustainable, then it must end. The possible ends I can perceive are 1) hope returning; 2) voluntarily or involuntarily ending my participation (i.e., death) or 3) waiting out despair until I figure out what comes after. Therefore, if I sit with the despair for long enough it will morph into something beyond despair (I just don’t know what!). Lesson: Stay with it and don’t panic!

Some people say, if things are so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself? Part of the answer is that I’m having a lot of fun. It’s tremendous fun to fight back. What a gas.

The other thing that happened when I was talking to my friend Jeanette was I realized that not only could I feel all those things and it wouldn’t kill me; even better, I could feel all those things and it would kill me. There’s a wonderful thing about being dead, which is that once you’re dead they can’t touch you anymore. Not through threats or violence or promises or buying you off. You can still sing and dance and make love and fight like hell, but they can’t touch you.

My father was extremely violent. One of the reasons my mother stayed with him was that there weren’t battered women’s shelters in the 1950s and ’60s. But another reason was because of the false hope that he would change. False hopes bind us to unlivable situations and they blind us to real possibilities. We need to eradicate them ruthlessly. That’s one of the things that happens when you die like that — you have all your illusions stripped away.

The problem is not only false hope, but hope itself. I was doing a talk in Colorado several years ago and I was bashing hope. Someone in the audience shouted out, “What’s your definition of hope?” And I thought, Oh my god, I’ve been bashing hope for years, I have no idea. So I asked what their definition of hope was, and they came up with, “Hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency.” That’s how we use it in everyday language. I’m going to commit to you right now, in public, that I’m going to eat something later tonight. On the other hand, the next time I get on a plane, I hope it doesn’t crash, because that’s out of my control. I have no agency. But what I’m really interested in is the agency. I don’t hope that coho salmon survive. I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure they survive. I don’t have to hope.

me The hardest thing about despair has been not knowing how to talk about it. It feels taboo to admit to not having hope. It’s held up as this grand, unassailable human quality. At times I’ve felt very isolated, because when I try to broach despair, it’s like people don’t want to hear it — or maybe that they can’t even hear it. Half the time I feel insane.

In my own family structure, we could talk about anything we wanted, except for the violence we had to pretend wasn’t happening. You can see this in dysfunctional families all the time. In the larger scale, it means that we can talk about anything we want except for that the culture is killing the planet. So we can talk about sustainable development, March Madness, baseball, Brad and Angelina. We can talk about all these things, but we can never talk about the fact that this culture has never been and will never be sustainable.

It’s like a lot of my American Indian friends tell me, that the first thing you have to do is decolonize your hearts and minds. Part of that is to break through the denial that this culture is based on.

What’s really important is to have a loving community around you that will support you in that process, so that every time you talk to them about something you don’t have to revisit Civilization is Bad 101. That’s so important. If you’re surrounded by a community that also cares about those things, then yes, it’s a huge process to go through — incredibly painful, but absolutely worth it.

me I see people like you doing your work, and it seems so clear to me that the answer in my own life is to find my most authentic voice and then just use it to sing, holler, laugh and cry as long and hard as I need to. If I find my voice, I feel like I’ll be able to be most effective, joyful, sane. But then I feel guilty, like it’s never going to be the right thing, or it’s never going to be enough. What does the change we need look like?

It’s a billion different acts by a billion different people — a bazillion different people, including non-human people.

First off, it’s about aligning ourselves with the real world, and redefining ourselves as human animals that need habitat. That includes putting the planet first. It’s embarrassing to have to say that the real world comes first.

So that’s the first part. After that, my definition of bringing down civilization, which is still abstract, is to deprive the rich of their ability to steal from the poor, and to deprive the powerful of their ability to destroy the planet. What does that look like on a practical level? It looks like everything, from writing books to filing timber sale appeals, to fighting like hell against the transnational oil corporations, to using any means necessary to stop them, whether that is courts or public opinion or any other means. It involves people acting individually and in organizations. It involves fighting for your lives, because that’s what we’re talking about at this point.

I get sort of annoyed when people call me the “violence guy.” I’m not the “violence guy” — I’m the “we need it all guy.” We desperately need it all. So what bringing civilization down looks like is people fighting to defend the places they love. It looks like doing everything.

The point is that the split is not between violence and non-violence, or fighting back or not fighting back, or whatever. The split is between action and non-action.

me So what action do I take?

What I always say is that I don’t want you to listen to me, because I don’t live there, and I don’t know how to live sustainably, here or there. What I want you to do is to go to the nearest forest and ask it what it needs. Go to the nearest river and ask it what it needs. Go to the nearest soil and ask it what it needs. Go to the nearest indigenous nation and ask them what they need. Just be of service. If you ask the land there what it needs, it will tell you. Then really the only question is: Are you willing to do it?

I am right in the middle of trying to answer that question. I want to make a difference, but to do that I have to stay sane, and find ways to hold joy and despair simultaneously. I must keep learning how to ask and listen for answers, and to know what actions I can take that will be most effective and keep me most alive.

And I think I am learning. The fact that I could come away from Derrick’s talk with eyes wide open but with a light heart seems to point to possibilities I couldn’t imagine even three months ago. So I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing — tending my garden and doing yoga and volunteering in my community and making art and building relationships and sitting in meditation. I’m going to keep doing these things — and I’m going to keep asking and keep listening, and keep feeling the whole beautiful mess of emotions that I am complicated enough to bear. And through it all, I’m going to keep asking myself what more I am willing to do.

Derrick’s portion of the conversation is drawn from the talk he gave via video conference at the University of Regina on March 27, 2008.

Mini masterpiece — Nikko Snyder’s collection of tiny artwork will be on display June 13 to August 3, 2008.

An opening reception will be held at the Kootenay Gallery for two new exhibitions on Friday, June 13 at 7 p.m.

In the West Gallery will be Nikko Snyder’s Art for a Dollhouse. This is a collection of original miniature artworks created specifically for Nikko Snyder’s dollhouse.

At the age of 12, and after six years of collecting furnishings and décor that would make the house her grandfather built for her complete, the next logical and fanciful step was to acquire artwork to adorn the walls and rooms.

With artists for parents, Nikko’s familiarity and friendship with other artists from across Canada were well in place. A young girl’s letters to many of those artists resulted in a collection of more than 30 miniature artworks.

The artwork for her dollhouse was created by well know Canadian artists such as Dorothy Knowles, Eric Cameron, Gordon Ferguson, Robert McInnis, Wendy Toogood and Don Mabie, among others. The artwork is presented in stand alone room settings that were designed by Nikko and her mother.

Nikko’s collection was presented in public galleries in Calgary, Surrey, Penticton and Edmonton from 1989-92, and now, after being in storage for 15 years, will once again delight audiences of all ages.

On Saturday, June 14, at 1 p.m., Nikko will speak about how her childhood dream of owning a collection of art became a reality.

In the East Gallery, an exhibition entitled, Toni Onley: A Survey is comprised of a selection of paintings from the permanent collection at the Penticton Art Gallery.

Over the years, Onley supported this gallery by donating works to both the collections and various fundraising activities. This collection, which includes paintings from the 1960’s to 2002, provides a window into both the early and late periods of Onley’s artistic development.

This exhibition reflects a signature painting style now known the world over as belonging to one of British Columbia’s and Canada’s most important visual artists. Included will be Onley’s painting wall and pallet from his studio to provide a unique look into his painting process.

Paul Crawford, curator of the Penticton Art Gallery, will be giving a talk on Saturday, June 14.

Paul will speak about his personal relationship with Onley and his contribution to the development of the visual arts in British Columbia and Canada.

This reception is open to the public and admission is free.

Both exhibits will be on display at the Kootenay Gallery in Castlegar, BC until August 3.

Regina school launching community garden

By Braden Husdal, Regina Leader-Post

Published: Friday, May 23, 2008

REGINA — Eating vegetables is about to become an organic experience for one Regina elementary school.

Thomson Community School announced plans on Friday to launch a community garden in partnership with the Core Community Association and the Regina Senior Citizens Centre.

The partnership is the only one of its kind in the city and will aim to provide fresh, organically grown vegetables to members of one of Regina’s most in-need communities.

“The students will hopefully be involved with the care of the garden and learning about growing vegetables and providing themselves with their own food,” said Nikko Snyder, chair of the Core Community Association’s Community Garden Committee. “Thomson School also has a nutrition program so some of the produce will go back into the school, while the rest will be distributed throughout the community.”

The garden was developed on a large section of land in the corner of the school’s playground area. Garden dirt has been brought in to provide better growing conditions and part of the garden is slightly raised to help provide wind shelter for other plants.

The care of the garden will rest jointly with students, school staff and Core community volunteers. Because Thomson is one of the city’s most diverse elementary schools, the opportunity to take students back to their roots is being embraced by school leaders.

“We’re extremely excited to partner with the community on the garden,” said Brent Bachiu, principal of Thomson Community School. “A project like this has huge potential and any community in the city could build on the same model.”

The plan for the garden was announced in front of the Thomson student body outdoors near the garden. The excitement about the responsibility to grow their own vegetables was evident throughout the assembled grades.

“We’re all doing this together and the whole school is involved,” said Ramsha Sultan, a Grade 7 student at Thomson. “We’re learning about nutrition and because most of us don’t eat healthy it’s giving us an idea of some good things that we can eat.

“We’ll be growing cucumbers, carrots, and I think potatoes. Once they start to grow I think we’ll all want to eat them because we helped out.”

The garden is also seen as a good way to kick off the Core Neighborhood Sustainability Action Plan, which will be going before the City of Regina’s Planning Commission in a few weeks. The plan was developed by the city and focuses on ways to revitalize the community without displacing those who already live there, and places emphasis on food security and sustainable initiatives.

“This community is evolving and it has a lot of challenges as an inner city community,” said Snyder. “To bring together different generations of people in the community working together and learning from each other is just a really special opportunity.

“Any community needs that kind of partnership, but especially in the inner-city it’s great to have this kind of opportunity here.”

Reportedly the most successful self-distributed film in British history, Scenes of a Sexual Nature was produced for $400,000 USD by director Ed Blum’s own company, Tin Pan Films, and was shot in only 18 days. Despite these apparently limited resources, the film manages to deliver a thoughtful exploration of the complicated tendency of humans towards romantic love.

Filmed entirely on location on London’s Hampstead Heath, Blum takes maximum advantage of one of the city’s most important and impressive public spaces. From the notorious gay cruising grounds on the West Heath to the magnificent raised Edwardian walkway the Pergola, Blum uses the length and breadth of the Heath’s 791 acres to craft seven romantic urban vignettes.

The unique setting combines with subtle writing and convincing performances to make the film disconcertingly touching. Writer Aschlin Dita strikes a fine balance of skepticism, humour and compassion in his portrayal of seven disparate couples, ranging from an eldery widow and widower reunited after 50 years after, to a gay couple negotiating the future of their relationship, to two fortysomethings on a cringingly awkward and ill-fated blind date. The actors keep up their end of the bargain, delivering a series of evocative performances with an unexpectedly moving result. The scene where Iris (Eileen Atkins) and Eddy (Benjamin Whitrow) discover that their paths have just missed crossing every week for 50 years is one of the more romantic film moments in recent memory – quite an achievement for an industry and culture that generally dismiss the sexuality of older people entirely.

It is this ability to take for granted, without apparent judgment, the capacity we all have for deep, sincere and complicated love that sets the film apart. Where Hollywood typically mashes the theme of romantic love into one-dimensional, soulless mythologies of perfect mates and happy endings, Scenes of a Sexual Nature takes a different approach, choosing instead to focus on what is profoundly complex about the ways that humans love one another. It is this complexity that Blum captures most eloquently, and the result is both delightful and dismaying. I came away feeling simultaneously sad and hopeful about the absurdity of romantic love, and it was this combination that proved the film’s effectiveness.

Call for Submissions: Briarpatch Magazine’s Mental health issue

(please circulate to interested parties)
http://briarpatchmagazine.com/news/?p=417

“If human equality is to be forever averted, then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.”
George Orwell

Briarpatch Magazine and On Edge ‘Zine (and their sibling editors) are collaborating to produce a dynamic September/October issue of Briarpatch focused on mental health.

As the global and national political picture continues to worsen, depression and other mental illness diagnoses and psycho-pharmaceutical prescription rates are at record levels.

Coincidence? We think not!

From activists burning out in the face of growing environmental and social problems, to the childhood ADD epidemic and forced drugging of children, to pharmaceutical companies profiting off of people’s sadness, mental health is a very politically charged topic – and we want you to help us dig deep into the many issues involved!

We’re looking for your feature articles, op-eds, investigative reports, news briefs, interviews, profiles, reviews, poetry, and artwork on topics related to mental health and mental illness.

First drafts are due by Monday, June 11, 2007 (though late submissions may still be considered). Unsolicited submissions are welcome, but we encourage you to first send us a query. Your query should outline what ground your contribution will cover, give an estimated word count, and indicate your relevant experience or background in writing about the issue.

Please review our submission guidelines at http://www.briarpatchmagazine.com/submit.htm before submitting. Send your queries/submissions to editor@briarpatchmagazine.com.

“Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge.”

– Abraham Joshua Heschel

Though I’m getting a lot better at not taking criticism personally, I do take it seriously, and dealing with it on my two blogs this week has been pretty exhausting. So I’m going to take a little break by blocking comments and not posting for the next week. In the meantime, I’ve been reflecting on what the purpose of these online spaces is for me. Here are some of my thoughts – they’re very much a work in progress, but if you feel like taking a few minutes to read them, great. If you have comments, even better! Just save them, let them percolate, and if your comment still feels important, respectful and honest in a week, please post it then.

Having my ass kicked by people this week has had the effect of making me ask myself what the point of these blogs are. Is it to espouse my view of the world? Is it to hear myself talk? What is it that I believe in that compels me to write about what I am experiencing and learning in my life?

Asking myself what I believe in is hard. Because I don’t have mega faith in ether of the Big Two human inventions (God or Science) that are so important to contemporary human identify, I often feel lost. And yet, upon reflection I was interested and surprised to discover that I do have some faith kicking around in this heart of mine.

I believe in the capacity of humans to change. Hearing David Suzuki speak this week helped me to clarify this. He believes that the human ability to conceptualize the future and act to shape it actually defines our humanity and separates us from all the other animals on earth. This idea called “the future” doesn’t actually exist, but through our intentions and actions, humans have the power to use possibility to impact our reality.

Change happens to us no matter what we do, but the potential to use possibility to shape reality adds a consciously directed component to change that results in a definition of “learning” that works for me. In other words, learning is conscious change. Strangely, I realized (just today!) that my belief in the capacity of humans to learn (i.e., consciously change) is also my definition of hope: the belief in the possibility of a different future, in the possibility of change. And I believe in that. So I guess I have hope. Who knew? For a long time I was quite certain I didn’t.

But this hope, this belief in the human capacity to change, is pretty passive. There’s also this other troublesome thing that is more active – this belief that it is necessary for humanity to change.

Clarifying these driving forces for me is also leading to a better understanding of why I write about my life. The capacity for change is huge for me, but it all begins with my own potential to learn, and with the belief that my own ongoing change is necessary. Though events are often out of my control, with great commitment and discipline I have the capacity to consciously direct my thoughts and actions. But the change I’m talking about is not a switch that can be turned on or off. Change is a process – a never-ending combined series of thoughts, actions and events that shape our lives and the world. The process of learning is limitless and ongoing.

My purpose in writing these blogs is to document this process in my life. I use myself as an example of someone committed to the ongoing, limitless process of conscious change. My intention is not to use myself as an example of someone who knows what’s “right” or “good.” It’s not even to try to espouse some particular way of being or thinking, though I certainly believe in the things I’m trying to do and write about. I use myself because this ongoing process of learning is what I value most. I want to write about why this is, and the process by which I am always trying to live this value in the most meaningful ways I can (whether the results are successful or not).

I write about myself because at this point it is the way I know to make myself most accountable. If I talk about how I am trying to change, it is the easiest way to make sure that I am taking responsibility for change needing to occur. It also feels like a safe way to speak strongly without being threatening or overbearing or preachy or judgmental.

Thing is, I’m not the only person that needs to commit to an ongoing process of conscious change. We all do. We all have the capacity to change and make the world better, and the need to do so is urgent. It feels safer to demand accountability only from myself, but it doesn’t work. If I’m going to be most true to myself I have to be fearless enough to say out loud that I am not the only one that needs to change.

The reality is that every human needs to change in order to save life on the planet and the planet itself. Every Northern person needs to change in order to end injustice in the global South. Every white person needs to change in order to end racism. Every wealthy person needs to change in order to end poverty. Every man needs to change in order to end sexism and violence against women. I say these things because I believe that our capacity to evolve is what can make the world a better place.

I’m struggling with how to balance being strong, vocal and principled with remaining open to learning and criticism. One of the things I got called on this week was a quote I posted that I feel captures some of the qualities I most value and respect in the men in my life. I didn’t write the quote (Starhawk did), so I can’t speak for the author’s intentions, though she was talking about working with men in the context of a feminist movement. My intentions in posting it weren’t well thought through (a man who I respect and trust and appreciate introduced me to it and it simply spoke to me), but they certainly weren’t to judge men or demand conformity to a rigid ideal or anything like that.

The charge against me for the post and for my response to the criticism was that I was, among other things, close-minded. A great way to really shut someone down is to dismiss their response to criticism (e.g., I know you think you’re open minded, but you’re wrong!) So I was very effectively shut down. Fine. The blog’s been open for comments, so I left myself open to that.

It made me think about the nature of being close-minded, that’s for sure. Sure, I do self-identify as open-minded (I wonder how many people out there actually identify as close-minded). But when I think about it, it’s true that trying to be a principled person requires closing my mind to all kinds of things. I rigorously practice, for example, closing my mind off to the following ideas: that race is an indicator of value or rights or intelligence, that homosexuality is wrong, that rape is acceptable, that I have the right to consume beyond the means of the Earth, etc. Similarly, I close myself off to people all the time, and open myself to the ones I trust and that nurture goodness and learning and respect in my life.

My critic this week is not the first person to ever call me close-minded. In the past, my fear of being closed has caused me to respond to such charges by trying to remain open at all costs – even to things I had no business being open to. When I’ve done this against my intuition and better judgment, the result is only ever catastrophe. So, while I hope I have the courage in my life to open my mind to the ideas and people and criticisms that will make me learn the most, I will also consciously choose to trust myself to close myself to the things I need to, and to give myself permission to be more open to certain people (and qualities) than to others.

If you’ve made it this far, here’s the gist of the thing: I’m learning, and though it never feels easy and is often not pretty, I’m happy for it. And since some interesting stuff is coming up in the process, I think I’ll stick with it and continue to muddle my way through. But first I will take a breather, and rest up for the next round. Thanks for reading.

xo n

No, silly, not for Mel Gibson to be able to read our minds! This quote comes from the excellent Starhawk, and opens a hardcore segment in the upcoming Briarpatch Magazine March/April 2007 gender-themed issue:

Feminists long for men to heal. Those of us whose lives continue to be bound up with men want to see them become whole. We dream of a world full of men who could be passionate lovers, grounded in their own bodies, capable of profound loves and deep sorrows, strong allies of women, sensitive nurturers, fearless defenders of all people’s liberation, unbound by stifling conventions yet respectful of their own and others’ boundaries, serious without being humourless, stable without being dull, disciplined without being rigid, sweet without being spineless, proud without being insufferably egotistical, fierce without being violent, wild without being, well, assholes.”

– Starhawk, “A Men’s Movement I Can Trust”

“It is fashionable to be single in big cities, but not in small towns.”

– Duet for GP and Emma, Rah Rah

(On the nature of the solo Regina experience.)