Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hold on to what is good.

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.

Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.

Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.

Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you.

— Pueblo Prayer

Sitting on the ground now, cool and damp January evening, the usual soft snores of the children, fire of oak, madrone and manzanita low flickering, starting to smoke a little and will need attention.

We've been displaced by a proposed eco-village by the name of Seven Generations farm. Arrested, cuffed and taken to jail for 'second degree trespass', relating to the place we have been calling the Winter Grounds for the past seven years. The Place we call home. The Place in the woods, oak savanna, whose deed title changed hands half a year ago along with 1600 other acres.

Last spring we spoke with the incoming title owners and they said they have more land than they know what to do with and they like how we live and as long as they don't know then they don't care. An advisor told them that they had liability issues with us but it was spring and we were moving, plus we were being evicted by the old title holders.

We met the incoming title owners and we sat in circle and cried and they said that the aim of their project, Seven Generations Farm, was that people would be living similarly to how we live in seven generations. We breathed and fell in love with a couple who had 'wanted to do an eco-village' since childhood. We felt an alliance and moved to the Summer Grounds only to find that it was in contract to the neighbouring conservationists, who also wanted us gone, the events of which are covered in previous posts. Our new ally told us to inform the then title holders that we could pay them more money and close the deal in seven days. The Summer Grounds became valuable to them when they discovered that the three measure 49 claims attached to that deed were transferable (meaning that they would be able to bypass county planning processes for building home sites). We filed a lawsuit for the right to buy the title for the Summer Grounds. We hired an attorney and paid him from the Land Liberation Fund. He advised us on absolute secrecy, even with our new ally and then in a later meeting told us that he couldn't represent us for fear of being associated with 'queering' a sale. Our new ally was advised by their attorney that they could be sued in turn for conspiring to disrupt a sale. So they pulled out. We found out after asking them as they were about to go on a hiking vacation in Utah for a couple of weeks.
We held off returning to the Winter Grounds as we continued communication with our new allies, all upstanding pillars of the Ashland new age community, and it became clear that they were indeed afraid that our way of life is a liability to their project.

They are working on saving the world so it's quite important.

Their lawyer told them that if anyone complains about our homes being in noncompliance with county regulations then it could slow and entangle the 'things' they wanted swiftly passed with the county. We maintained dialogue and gradually our protestations, input and ideas began to fall on deaf ears. They wanted us gone. Away.

Meanwhile we're late on the mountain and the Big Lodge is blown over and shredded to the winds and the last of the serviceberries have dried up, the geese are flying, shadows lengthening and the hot summer of many wildfires smells old. Via a hop and a step we're back on the Winter Grounds and our new allies are telling us that along with their meta-council, in spite of sociocratic and consensual ideals, they've made a difficult decision and they're calling the cops on us because we've returned home. They gave us 'fair warning' and even a 'heads up'.

Here's an account of that day written shortly after it happened. It's no 'poor me' and after the experience I have a newfound respect for brothers and sisters imprisoned for an imposed ideology:

I was sipping coffee, it was a late morning as I was late in the shop the previous night working on a lining for Dan over the hill. I had my phone out reading an email from Jules Pretty. He's the author of Edge of Extinction and he'd been talking about extinction and evolution on Start the Week. I was inspired hearing him speak about 'enduring people in vanishing lands' so I wrote to him. He said, "Those who are settled have always become suspicious of those who move, even if their touch on the land is light". There were footsteps outside (shaking the web) and I looked up to see three or four grave looking men in badged uniforms, with guns, cuffs, tasers, mace (etc.) walking up to the doorway and peering in. Very well presented, clean cut and clean smelling.

They told us that they were here to arrest us for trespass. Here at the Winter Spot. So we put our boots on, all of us, and they walked us out. There was a little of the usual banter that occurs at the intersection of two cultures, or paradigms. We came to the road and Kim pulled up with Jimmy to take the children to their place. The kids were valiant and stalwart.

I can only imagine what it must feel like to see my mum as dad being handcuffed and taken away. The bigger ones understood that we'd (according to the deputy) probably be released the same day, but still...y'know?

Then it's Kayla and I in the back seat of this sheriff's pickup truck with bars on the windows and clear vinyl covering the seats. Cuffs digging in still behind our backs and they buckle us in.

On the I-5 north to Medford and we start singing that old Seize the Day song:

'No-one's slave I am no-one's master
No-one's slave I am no-one's master
On my grave they will write this after I am gone
I will be gone
And when my breath has gone to the air it came from
Flesh has gone to the earth it lived on

I am through with the shame of my lying
Had my fill of the cruelty and crying
Earned my keep in the land where the dying deserts grow
And now I know
And now I'm looking out with a new perspective
Lifting up with a new directive

Going home to the land of our mothers
I will walk with my sisters and brothers
We will share what is good with each other in our love
It is our love
It is a love that brings you the invitation
Join me now with this incantation:

Mother Earth I was nearly the end of you
Please accept my desire to be friends with you
Now I know just how much I depend on you for life
You are my life
You are the life that grows in the flesh I'm weaving
Life that grows in the air I'm breathing

I am strong like a tree on a mountain
Full and fresh like a free flowing fountain
Bright and clear as the stars beyond counting in the night
I am their light
I am the light that shines in a thousand people
In my sight every life is equal

No-one's slave I am no-one's master
No-one's slave I am no-one's master
On my grave they will write this after I am gone
I will be gone.

We come to the jailhouse chain-link, razor-wire gate. The deputy hails the intercom,"This is Adams with one male, one female, cooperative.

Now, finally, they have us cooperative.

Gate closes behind. We pull into a large garage, door rolls down behind. Deputy gets out, opens the truck doors. We get out and wait in front of a glass and metal door leading to a chamber where someone before us is getting frisked. Kayla and I kiss, the deputy tells us not to. Kayla goes in first and I see them searching her, taking her outer clothes off, her headscarf, facing the wall. Now she's facing the woman searching her, talking, then she looks at me and shrugs with a resigned smile, holds up her hand and takes her ring off. They take her through the other door and now we'll only see each other briefly through the window on a cell door. We will hear each other and we sing the Song of the Diggers and this old favourite:

We are the power in everyone
We are the dance of the moon and the sun
We are the hope that will never hide
We are the turning of the tide

Then it's me, feet on the red lines on the floor, slightly too wide for my height, about a foot -18', facing a bloodstained cinder block wall. Three or four armed men behind me, going through the  pockets of my coat that I'd brought along but wasn't wearing.
"What are you here for?"
"I'm not sure...living in a tipi?"
Arresting officer Retzer, in comparison now kind and familiar steps in, "Trespass two"

Then my trousers, belt, pants starting to fall off, shirt unbuttoned, then cuffs off, wrists released. My ring wasn't coming off (but he got it later with some lotion).

Then ,"Follow the blue line!", clothes, socks jumbled up.To another room.

"Take the rest of your clothes off."

"Oh, are you gunna look up my bum?"

-"Yes"

" What, like probe it?"

-" No. Turn around, bend forward, spread your cheeks and cough three times."

"Cough, cough, cough."

"Again, but harder."

"Cough, cough, cough!"

"Ya gotta do it harder"

"Cough, cough, cough."

"Harder!"

"Cough, ahacouurgh cough, cough, chug, charrugh!"

"OK, put these on!"

White, well worn, many laundered boxer shorts, T-shirt, green overalls. Blanket, sheet, pillowcase containing rubber cup, spoon, four sheets of paper and a pencil, toothbrush, palm comb, booklet. Given to me in exchange for all that was just taken. Led to a cell. Man asleep on a bunk, head in the corner, raises his head, swollen eyes, growl, head down, stainless steel toilet/ sink unit to the right. Empty bunks to the left.

Door closed.

Following is some of what I wrote in that cell. Read on with a strong centre because there is some swearing in it and I was really pissed off. It's not necessarily how I feel now:

Fuck your self-righteous and justified veneer of indifference and nauseatingly complete lack of empathy. Fuck your pseudo-sympathy. Fuck your desperate and spineless political posturing and your squirming from any personal responsibility for the manifestation in Our Shared Life. Fuck your manipulation and your fear-mongery. Fuck your nonviolent passive aggression. I went to jail because this time I defied your consistently poor judgement.
You punished my family and I, Brooks and Rod, and your character has been laid bare and open for all to see and now we can see your capacity for honest collaboration. Here we sit: caged, cooperative and cuffed and now you can say that you follow through with what you say. That you are people of integrity and strong boundaries. You might like to question the values contained within those boundaries.

Your proposed ecovillage is founded on the denial of my freedom. So fuck your ecovillage. Your deeper intention is being revealed through all of this which appears to be nothing more than the same bullying and domination of the past three millennia. Even more galling is the cynical lexicon of new age love behind which you hide your pernicious agenda for profit from the land.
I was sent to jail because I did not honour your 'request' to not return to the Winter Grounds, home. What kind of 'request' cannot be declined? And my children, remember, you called them 'little love bugs'? Fuck you for manipulatively using the threat of them being taken by child services for disobeying your commands. But mostly, fuck you for diminishing their opportunity to live a life of connected place.

They released us late the same night. There followed heavy rain and wind and we were homeless. St. Vincent de Paul helped us to pay for a week in the Ashland Commons.

We asked for consensus or at least to be left alone in the twenty foot circle in the woods we call home.

Where do the free people go in this Land of the Free? Yes Rod, as you said, you 'hooked the rebellion'. Meanwhile, emperor, we have to work out shelter and it's winter.

Today the deed owners rescinded the charges that they had dropped at our request under the mistaken belief that we had moved back to "their" land and we are to be in court on the 28th of January. I'd like to simply get along with my life in a good way and be done with this cold, hard contention.

"We sing of freedom
And speak of liberation
But such chances come
Once a generation
So I'll ignore what I am sure
Are the best of your intentions
You are judged by your actions
And not by your pretensions

There's drudgery in social change
And glory for the few
And if you don't tell me what not to say
I won't tell you what not to do."

-B. Bragg (I don't need this pressure, Ron).

-Ande

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