Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Tiniest Who

It has been quite awhile since I've read Dr. Seuss', "Horton hears a Who," but if I remember part of the story correctly, EVERY Who down in Whoville had to join in a chorus of voices to prove they existed.

As I remember it, it required the voice of even the tiniest Who.  That works great for this post.  Wikipedia says something about a shirker named JoJo, which isn't helping this blog post at all, so we'll just have to go with my revisionist history.  ;-)

This weekend Richmond is providing a wonderful opportunity for the youngest citizens to find their own voice on a topic that is very meaningful to them.  From the Facebook event page:

The Radical Idea of Sharing!
This is one of the most important lessons that we learn as children. This is an invitation for children of our communities to come help us (adults) relearn this very important lesson by marching in solidarity with one another for all the many reasons that it is important to SHARE!

We will begin at 1pm by meeting new families, making art, signs, and writing. We want to hear diverse children's perspectives around the questions of sharing, and what is important to them in general such as...

what does sharing mean to you?
why is sharing important?
what is your favorite part of sharing?
we also want to encourage kids to put any message down that is important to them!
etc etc etc

We will continue this creative time until around 2. We will then gather and march for sharing with the children leading the way. We encourage everyone to bring music, instruments, pots, pans, and party noise makers.

Anything to get this important message heard loud and clear and to keep it fun! We will hopefully wrap up around 3pm.

This march looks to include kids and their parents with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

This weekend kicks off the May Day celebrations around town for International Workers' Day and also for Immigrants' Rights.  If these causes are important to you, find an event or two to attend!  And if helping your child find his/her voice is important then bring them to the children's parade and talk about sharing.  What a fabulous and fun idea!

Here is the Facebook event link:

Hope to see your kiddo there with a sign about whatever is important to them!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

PDBH - Remix!

The movie screening in March was so powerful and moving we have decided to show it again. Remix!

In a few weeks at 1 PM on Saturday, May 5th Mothers' Awakening will show "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" at the Richmond Public Library (Main Branch). This screening will be free and open to all.

Note: This movie is set during a time of war and the tenuous peace that unfolds immediately after the war. Please use discretion when determining what is suitable for anyone under the age of 18.

Please pass this information around and consider bringing a friend. This powerful movie chronicles what peaceful, brave women accomplished in Liberia when they decided, "enough is enough" and demanded an end to the war.

Image from

The world cannot afford for the most empathetic to be apathetic. Come join us on Cinco de Mayo and see firsthand the results of what is possible when women come together!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Respect my Au-thor-i-tay

First to disclose... I have never spent much time in a courthouse. Ever. I am more of a "cubicle / office / spreadsheet" kind of girl.

So imagine my amazement last Friday when I had the opportunity to observe a power structure / power trip worthy of a prison guard in a B rated movie. Simply outstanding if you like people watching (I do). Since the arraignment seemed to mostly be about paperwork and setting future court dates, I was settling in for a lot of dull administration but was fortunate to get a front row seat of our penal system in action.

Again and again, I couldn't help but think... the current attitude of a "domination nation" is just so WRONG. All people deserve respect, even if they look like they are strung out, have had problems with abusive spouses, or sat on the Capitol steps when a police officer told them not to. If you are human, you are worthy of respect. Period. But apparently somebody missed that Sunday School class...

Image from

When the citizens arrested on March 3rd congregated in the hall outside the courtroom prior to the arraignment there was a noise level akin to a cocktail hour - probably about what you would expect when 30-40 people are gathered and talking in a corridor of hard surfaces and nothing to dampen the sound. The buzz in the air apparently bothered the bailiff so he told everyone to sit down and be quiet.

I would estimate 70-80% of the people complied with his order (it definitely was not a request), including me. I overheard someone say something along the lines of, "There is no rule that we have to sit down and be quiet out here," and perhaps that was just enough to push him over the edge. When some people remained standing he walked next to them and did his best barrel chested domination stance about a foot away from them. I would have stared at the situation but I'm told that is impolite and I guess I'm still trying to maintain some level of politeness. Anyway, the people standing/talking did not sit down meekly (or stop talking) and this seemed to enrage him further.

After trying to browbeat them for about 30 seconds to a minute, he decided he was not being cooperated with enough. The noise level had dropped significantly but not everyone was sitting down. At that point he ordered everyone into the courtroom. I believe his words were, "You need to move into the courtroom and sit down and be quiet." I started thinking he perhaps had a hangover.

So everyone complied and he then took his domination show to the front of the room where he worked the crowd with his best evil eye and a few eyebrow wrinkles to prove he had years of experience with that particular imposing expression. My father informed me that he technically has arresting rights in the courtroom so it was an interesting, "If I cannot make you do what I want outside the courtroom then move to my jurisdiction," ploy.

All in all, it would have made for an interesting field trip for a sociology or women's studies course. The domination display continued and once everyone was in the courtroom the man wanted absolute silence. He said repeatedly, "Silence. Be quiet. No talking." Of course, we had wanted to stay in the hall for awhile rather than sit in the courtroom but whatever. His eyes darted around the room angrily the entire time and he even removed a woman (and her sister) because she was blowing her nose.

I wish there was a way to kindly remind everyone that every other human being is worthy of respect. Frequently it feels as though this perspective is quite lacking. It is like we live in some weird "domination nation" culture - that a request first before an order would be a weakness rather than a strength.

In my experience, when someone "in power" starts off with the stance that their authority is not to be questioned I feel the need to push back. I think it is just an inherent truth that some people, like me, like to be free to agree to comply rather than forced to comply. I am a rule follower but I am also a free thinker. I would contend that unreasonable demands (like sit down and be quiet when there is no stated/known reason to impose this on a group of people) *should* be met with push back. We are not "sheeple" to use a popular term these days.

Perhaps this bailiff was just having a bad day. I look forward to observing more in this courtroom in the future. However, I continue to wonder what it would take to shift a culture from a "domination nation" position to a respectful (but very firm - he does need to keep order, after all) culture. I think it is important that law abiding, day-to-day, ordinary citizens who are not "activists" per se, are willing to be observers of our democracy in action. If we are not willing to bear witness, our process quickly devolves into a power struggle between those in power and those requesting something of the powers that be. It is the third party objective that, in my opinion, will make sure things remain fair and just. Jury duty is not your only civic duty. Please consider being that person. Join us!