Have you made art today?

Love
I've been asking myself this question daily as of late. In part, because it reminds me that I am an artist – something I've only recently embraced. And in part, because it spurs me to action if the answer is no. There's a lot going on these days. It seems some of us have become caught in a cycle of  seeking and finding the worst in each other. Of creating solutions that perpetuate vengeance and violence rather than compassion or healing. When reality is ugly, brutal, far from utopia and idealism, art shows us beauty and possibility. It encourages. Resonates. Reminds. It gives us new questions and new ideas. It pushes. Heals. Helps us to expand. Art is activism. Whether you paint or dance or cook or sew or write or act…
Read More

The Four Agreements

30 Day Blog Challenge, 30 in 30 April, Love, Spirituality
Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Talk had been on my mind earlier this week, and The Four Agreements have now taken up residence in its stead. I've been actively working on unblocking by committing to write, so I'll take these little bells as encouragement to keep going. Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a short book, based on Toltec Wisdom. In it, he elucidates four agreements, or practices, we can implement daily to enjoy a more fulfilling life. I'm very consistent on agreements #3 and #4, and I easily redirect myself #2. But I must admit, I abandon the very first one when I'm not careful. That's the one I'm revisiting  now. It would be a good exercise to (re)read the book and do some extended writing on each of the four principles. But for…
Read More

Probability, Possibility and Change

30 Day Blog Challenge, 30 in 30 April, Love
I believe in the potential for change. Change is, after all, one of the few constants in life. Even at the cellular level, there is always change. Birth, aging, sickness, death. Rebirth. Change. I'm speaking about it in grand terms, but what I'm really talking about is the potential for individuals to evolve. To shift in attitudes, ways of thinking, and behaviors. To learn new things and be affected by them. Ultimately, I believe in the potential of humans to be human. ...humans are always evolving (Freire). Not in the sense that humans are some how deficient, but rather that they, like plants, continue to seed and bloom and remake themselves. To live is to grow. Stagnation is, in effect, death.  ~Nicole D. Collier, In Defense of Inquiry Earlier today…
Read More

Impossible is nothing

30 Day Blog Challenge, 30 in 30 April, Love
"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." The White Queen, Alice in Wonderland What impossible things do you believe in? I believe in the power of telekinesis. I just haven't mastered yet. I also believe I can levitate under the right circumstances. I believe a well-written work - be it essay, play, poem, and so on - can change your whole life. It can cause you to think differently, pay attention to something you've never noticed, open your closed heart, or take action. It can cause you to dance, cry, or be a better person. I believe in the transformative power of love to change a family, a community and a society. People can treat each other better: use more loving language, choose more loving actions, advocate…
Read More

The deeper business of being beautiful inside.

Love, Politics, News & Notable
Blue and I saw 12 Years a Slave as soon as it was released in Atlanta. The film was stunning. We dined afterward and talked for hours about the the movie and the myriad topics it inspired: slavery, racism, privilege, wealth, the power of story, literacy, critical literacy and public schooling. We discussed the stories that get told or lost. We noted, with a healthy dose of cynicism, who "history" deems worthy of remembrance. We retold scenes to each other. Relived predictions, twists. What made us look away, hold our breath, or more tightly to the other's hand. The writing, directing and performances were brilliant. And yet as moved as I was during and after, it was Lupita Nyong'o as Patsey who brought me to tears: Patsey broke my heart…
Read More

Restoration in CPS

Abolition & Justice, Education, Love
I've been reading, writing, thinking about schools as sites of love. Nationwide, districts are moving toward less punitive and more restorative approaches to school discipline. This shift comes at a time when the civil rights arms of the Department of Education and Department of Justice released guidance to districts about minimizing discriminatory and exclusionary discipline policies. I've read comments complaining that humane approaches to discipline means ignoring misbehavior and allowing classrooms to deteriorate into chaos. This does not reflect the reality of schools that work to improve their climates nor the students and communities who are positively impacted by the changes. Moving away from zero tolerance and other harsh discipline codes requires a multi-pronged approach including: supporting teachers with classroom management, helping faculty and staff unpack racial and ethnic stereotypes,…
Read More

The undoing of schools as prisons

Abolition & Justice, Education, Love
I have a post in draft form that pulls together a couple of recent articles related to schools as sites of love, but I didn't want to let the day pass without sharing this piece from the Atlantic. Last year I wrote for The Atlantic about a notorious North Philadelphia junior high school known for years as the “Jones Jail.” Its rambunctious students wreaked such terror on the neighborhood that the police put the streets surrounding the school on lockdown every day at dismissal. Nearby shop-keepers locked their doors and porches as 800 of the city’s poorest kids streamed out the doors, often reportedly climbing over parked cars in their unruly rush to get out of school. When the John Paul Jones Middle School was taken charter and reopened as the Memphis Street Academy,…
Read More

Schools as sites of love

Abolition & Justice, Education, Love
Love is one of my favorite topics. Especially love as it plays out in society. Since it's something I speak about and highlight often, even without provocation, I've decided to write more about it this year. Love is a broad idea, so I've been brainstorming ways to approach it in meaningful slices. Given my professional background, it seems a good place to start would be schools as sites of love (or not). With my concurrent interests in prison abolition, the school to prison pipeline, and restorative justice, love is perhaps a natural lens through which to consider those intersections. To that end, I'd like to share this piece from yesterday's Washington Post. School leaders in Alexandria agreed to implement a restorative justice program this school year. The school year is…
Read More

Pondering love.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Feminist Thought, Love
Love has been on my mind a lot in recent years. Romantic love, sure, but most often I'm mulling societal love. See, I have a theory: much of what ails society is rooted in distrust and competition. The way we go about healing is rooted in love. Love is as love does. Love is an act of will - namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. ~M. Scott Peck as quoted by bell hooks From where I stand, it seems a lot of what transpires in daily life is a deliberate choice to avoid love. It's like we go out of our way to be cold and closed off or simply mean. All day in schools we yell…
Read More

Abiding Love

Love, Personal Narrative
Some years are made for themes. They begin with declarations, resolutions, bucket lists, big bangs, and the like. Two years ago I opened 2011 fierce, bold, courageous. As if 3.5 years of grad school weren't enough, in 2011 I found myself desirous of more profound and personal challenges. I wanted to face things that scared me. Push myself beyond self-imposed limitations. Despite the steps I took to face seeming fears out there, I soon discovered the real fears were within. Towering at times. Moments of clarity and honesty produced tools for dismantling and dissolving. I chiseled and chipped and melted fears after hours of prayers, reflection, and tearful storytelling. Truth-telling to the one I lied most often: me. 2012 did not open with a declaration. And throughout the year I…
Read More