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Love Song to my Lineages

Lineages: who we come from, the relationships that have made us. I write about my lineages because I would not be who I am, and my work would not be what it is, without them.

Naming where we and our work come from is an anticapitalist practice. It places us in a context, lets people know about the relationships and people we're rooted in, that sustain us. When we don’t share where we and our work come from, it can make us feel more marketable - after all, who would listen to us if we acknowledged that our work wasn’t something unique we unearthed totally on our own? Erasing our relationships in this way lets us be, or pretend to be, shinier that we might feel. And, at the same time, it can also make our work feel hollow or two-dimensional (and at worst it’s straight up theft of other people’s knowledge & experiences).

My love songs to the people and places I come from, my teachers & beloveds & communities & networks of learning & relationship could fill a whole book (which I’m incredibly grateful for). I name them here so you know where I'm rooted, and who & where I come from. I also want to say that if we’ve had any kind of interaction in person, or online or otherwise, you’re part of this love song, too. We are constituted by our relationships, no matter the length or brevity. This list is (both necessarily and unconsciously) incomplete, and I promise to keep writing it.

So, my love song.

My ancestors: people who loved looking at the world around them, who struggled with rootlessness after they moved to this continent as settlers, some of whom were considered white when they arrived, and some of whom set their sights on whiteness & assimilation as their ticket out of poverty & discrimination. All of whom, if I look back far enough, were both shaped by colonialism and drivers of it. And, when I trace back their movements, I see the ways they, like me, loved living near the water, working with their hands, looking at the world around them.

Jen Lemen & the online learning communities she holds, The Nest and @pathofdevotionsbasics. I try to share what I’ve learned about deschooling, whiteness, class, relationship to the land, ritual, and so much more from Jen as much as I can, because she’s one of my most beloved teachers, and because her work is so necessary. And the beloveds in the Nest: what wisdom you've brought into my life.

Toi Smith & her work with Business for the People - if you want the clearest descriptions of capitalism & collapse, what is and what’s possible, Toi’s work is literally everything. The humans in Business for the People: I have learned so much from your collective wisdom about business & anticapitalism & collaboration.

The folks organizing with SURJ DC, where I learned so much about organizing, about whiteness & how it operates, and the ways it does violence to white people’s sense of togetherness and orientation to the world. And where I caught glimpses of how things might be different.

The people I’ve coached, who have deepened my understanding of somatic consent, transformation, and the ways systems shape us.

Tiffany Curtis transformed my life with her coaching & presence; and accompanied me through many waves of major work and life transitions.

I learned a lot of the groundwork about vocation that helped me make sense of my angst and longings about what I was here to do at All Souls DC’s vocation workshops, led by Michael Milano in 2017.

I met so many beloveds (and learned a lot about the ways that institutions with good intentions fuck us over) during my education & non-profit work in DC; and how to listen really deeply for the aches & desires underneath all of the things we say when we’re feeling stuck, or afraid, or unsupported. You know who you are. I love and admire you so much.

Willamette Academy - a community and place of work where I learned about racism, wealth, whiteness; and the most crucial thing of all - that we learn to clear away the behaviors and beliefs that get in the way of togetherness not to be good, or for a trophy, but so we can be in community together.

Endless, endless books and writers, including Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gregg Levoy, Julia Cameron, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Mariame Kaba, Clementine Morrigan, and Dean Spade. What a gift it is when people share what they know.

The places: the northern california seashore, which taught me about constancy and change. The backyard at Shearer Street, where I learned about relationship from the rosebushes and apricot tree and violets. The oak trees in my grandma's yard in Redding, California. The trees in Salem, Oregon, where I read theory & philosophy a full story off the ground. Rock Creek Park, that held so much ritual + ceremony + land art space, where I first learned about intuition being something in my body rather than a thing in my head. The woods and the susquehanna river, where I lived for a year and a half, and which taught me that no one on this planet is alone; and that relationship is something we are constantly engaged in, whether we recognize it or not. Thank you for teaching me how to recognize it.

And, my beloveds, my partner & friends & relationships that have spanned decades and who know me down to my bones. All of my understandings of togetherness and the ways relationships can sustain us come from the love we’ve built together. I love you.

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