Friday, August 26, 2011

Loose Change

All I want to do is tell you stories as we throw back whisky around a flaming campfire. We'll be in Yellowstone in a few days, people. It's not too late to have the best evacuation destination evah & come join us for some soft-side camping. Hey, you'll likely be without power or work, so why not??

So much has happened in such a small space that I feel packed to the brim and creatively constipated. (Accepting your laxative recommendations for this particular form of stopped up!)

What I can say here & now is that mountains have tops, which you can do whatever it takes to reach, without ever really being ready or knowing how the other side may look. Sobbing, cursing & hysterical happiness are definite likelihoods.

Also, letting someone see you, in the most sacred ways that no one ever sees you, is a sound decision and highly recommended--no matter the trembles it may cause in your usually still water.

Also, get out of your head and into your body whenever humanly possible. Pick your poison--swimming, sex, masturbation, drumming. It matters not what you do, but that you do whatever it takes to get your body moving. I swear, your psyche will be so so thankful.

And last but not least, I dare you to write a completely true story. Something from your past. Write it with so much truth that it makes you chuckle or cry or both. Share it only with one or two people, for which you know it will have the same effect.

These are the things I've been up to lately as we cycle from the Rez across the long stretch of Wyoming into Yellowstone.

We've been stopping every two days, practically, to unwind emotional, physical & spiritual tension. It's been a slow two weeks, bike-wise, but a necessary speed in order to synch up such a transformative period with the here-and-now.

What's going on in your here-and-now? The space is yours for the sharing in the comments below.

PS-If you're wondering if I'd weep or laugh hysterically over your story, the answer is YES. Waiting eagerly at rachmddx at gmail dot com.

IMPORTANT ANECDOTE :: When I'm physically constipated (which happens with unfortunate consistency) I report my poop droppings to Brian in terms of loose change... "A few quarters, but that's it." "Not even pennies!" "Maybe, like, 5 dimes." ... This was a loose change blog update. Have no fear, though. The laws of nature make it so that everything eventually squeezes out. More soon. (I hope! ;)

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Lakota Warrior Spirit in the 21st Century


As you all know we were working for Re-Member while we were on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and it was absolutely great! We made a lot of friends and fell in love with the Rez and the Lakota people and their cause. Plus we had a great visit by my parents from Maryland and we were able to show them the Rez plus take them to the Oglala Lakota Nation Wacipi (Pow Wow).

Henry Red Cloud

While we were there we made friends with Henry Red Cloud (and pretty much the whole Red Cloud family). Henry is a 5th generation Red Cloud, you may have heard of Red Cloud, he was a warrior and statesman for the Lakota as the U.S. government was closing in on their lands. Henry is a 21st century Lakota warrior fighting on the front lines for Lakota and all of Indian country to be self-sufficient on the earth through renewable energy. Henry owns and operates Lakota Solar Enterprises, which helps produced solar hot air heaters, which help keep homes warm during the cold winters on the open plains all through the power of the sun. Henry goes throughout Indian country to teach other reservations how to build these. There are now 700 on the Pine Ridge Reservation and Re-Member has one for their office.

first round of earth plaster for the circular straw bail house

Henry convinced us to stay on the Rez for an extra week and help out with the building of a straw bail house, which he hopes to help with the housing shortage on the rez and throughout Indian country. Man am I glad he convinced us!

So what is a straw bail house? It's a very inexpensive house that is made of straw, covered with mud, a roof and it is circular, like a tipi. Plenty of straw bail houses have been standing around the world for hundreds of years. Inside it stays cool during the summer and warm during the winter. Similar to how the tipis worked when the Lakota lived as hunters, gathers and roamed on the open plains. This is not only an effort to bring housing to the Lakota but to help maintain and bring back the strong culture they have and a connection to Mother Earth. It would only cost $2,500 to buy one.

So our goal was to build this prototype straw bail house in a week. People came from near and far to help out with this. Their were volunteers from the organization, Trees, Water & People, based out of Fort Collins, CO, Re-Member volunteers came everyday to help out. Last but definitely not least, their was a group of people from the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana. Henry knew this group from when he went up their to train them how to build the solar hot air heaters. When I met the Cheyenne, I couldn't help but think the Lakota and Cheyenne are working together again like at the Battle of Little Bighorn, where they killed Custer and his 7th Calvary. They hope to bring everything they learned back to their reservation, who are facing much of the same issues as Pine Ridge.


It was an amazing community experience where everyone was helping out and coming up with ideas. Yes this was Henry's idea, well it was actually his Dad's, but it didn't seem like anyone was in charge. Everyone pitched in and this is how it could be in Indian country bringing back the communal spirit with the idea of self-determination and self sufficiency.

This was truly inspiring because this was a dream of Henry's Dad and he is making it real and it will help the Lakota and the idea is coming from the Lakota. This works hand in hand with the idea of nationhood and self-determination that Indian reservations deserve. The renewable energy revolution is and should be lead by our Indigenous bothers and sisters as they are the most affected by climate change and we can learn a lot from a community that prays to mother earth. We need to listen, learn and work with them for a sustainable future on this planet.

Our experience on the Rez for 5 weeks was truly life changing and cannot be captured in a blog post, so if you want to learn more, talk to us. We will be back this coming winter and hopefully the spring and summer too!!!

After that week we biked through the beautiful Black Hills and we are currently in Gillette, WY resting before we head towards Yellowstone.

Onward and Upward (literally up the mountain!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Final Push for Friday!

You all have been sooo great! With the $3,330 you've donated we've been able to give 66 children on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation a safe warm place to sleep!!

We need your help one more time. In order to get to our goal of $5,000 by Friday we need $1,770 more. Rach and I left the Rez less than a week ago and we can't get it out of our heads or hearts.

Please help us get to our goal and better yet, help the Lakota children get a safe warm bed to sleep in.

Any amount you can muster is incredible. Here are some suggested rates:

  • $10 Gives Solidarity from the budgeted, but hopeful

  • $25 Gives Mattress, Sheets and Pillows

  • $50 Gives a Full Night Sleep

  • $100 Gives Two Kids Sound Rest so they Can Focus in School

  • $150 Gives Three Kids Sweet Dreams

  • $200 Gives a Family of Four Peace of Mind

  • $500 Gives the Whole Big Family Comfort Every Night

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for helping our Lakota friends!

*The tracker doesn't have the extra $500 on it because we got some checks in the mail going towards our goal.

How we got here:

Story of Pine Ridge

Start of our Campaign

The Progress

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Different Kind of Strong

Things are easing up over here after a packed month of holding space for hundreds of people at a time. Let's just say that, at any point in time, you are free to speak the inconvenient truth, let go of annoying pleasantries, and be with the people you naturally gravitate toward. No shame in liking what you like. No point in holding back. There's a wisdom in following the path that's lit naturally before you. A space emerges to embody yourself more fully, more freely. And you are needed--the exact strand and variety of you--no denying it. You'd be amazed at what we can teach each other when we're not afraid to be ourselves.

While breathing room feels nice, there's a certain shade of strength in having no processing time. You just keep going, even though you need to cry, even though you're totally confused, even though you have so many questions. You let it all sink into your soul, into a deep place in your body. And you survive. You become stronger than you ever wanted. And you become more like your new friends than you ever thought possible.

When you finally lose your shit (and you will... we always do), you'll wonder if it's okay that you're sobbing uncontrollably when everyone else appears to be dealing just fine with complete and utter travesty. And then a friend in the midst of loss and love will tell you that you are beautiful for feeling so much and doesn't it feel wonderful to cry? to be so alive? And you will say yes and know that he is right and this is exactly what's needed. Wordlessness. Tears for a thousand and one reasons. Grieving for however long it takes.

You will never solve the "problem" with answers, so you don't look for them in rationale or reason. You let your heart pull you toward your next move and you let your body release how it needs to release. You follow, no matter how tragic or terrifying or tantalizing the path might be. You go all the way with the way it is, because that kind of witnessing is needed more than any solution you could think of.

We're heading to a good friend's house for a few nights of camping on the land under the stars next to the fire, and helping bring a dream of his to life. Looking up, cool grass on my back, I get the feeling that no matter how complicated or sad or only half hopeful things feel, I'm unbelievably blessed to be here, and exactly where I belong.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bedtime Stories from the Rez

Damian excited for is new bed!

Dear Friends... You're rockin' it! So far, your generosity has raised $2,815 of our $5,000 goal to provide beds for Lakota children on Pine Ridge Reservation. It only took 34 donors to raise over 50%. With that kind of lovin', we're confident that by the time we leave Re-Member on August 7th, we'll be able to reach our goal of 100 new beds for our Lakota friends! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

But first, a few stories to let you know who you're money's helping.

Last week I was able to deliver beds to some very happy children. In total, 19 beds delivered in 6 hours all over the Rez.

I've been getting to know Ampo and Tyra Red Cloud (7 and 12 years old, respectively) over the past few weeks, as Re-Member has been repairing their grandparents' roof. At first Ampo was shy, but after a few days getting to know us, he warmed right up and became an excited helper--both curious and careful. He helped with the roof, and when we pulled up with the trailer of bunk bed parts, he couldn't wait to screw them together. We hustled into the one-room home and constructed the bunks next to the family TV. Ampo's house is one of 3 small trailers that the 20-person family occupies and the only one with electricity, so on really hot days, the whole family crowds in for a respite from the sun.

Ampo and I have developed a special bond over the weeks, so I was happy beyond words to see his huge grin when he finally climbed that latter and jumped into his fresh, new bed.

Here is Dakota, who was 3 years old and getting his first bed! Before we came with the beds the whole family was sleeping on the large bed in the middle of the living room. His face was priceless.

The best story of the day was speaking to Velvet, who was the grandmother of Damian and others. She purposefully scheduled Re-Member to come when her whole family was gone so she could surprise them with the beds. They'd been waiting for weeks and she said to me, "I have been praying for this". Its amazing what a little bed will do for the morale of a family.

Building beds is a simple and easy way to help the Lakota, who have been the subject to oppression by the U.S. government for years. It's a band-aide, yes, but an important morale booster and something we can give.

Help us reach our goal by the end of this week!! We only need $2,185. Imagine if 90 people gave $25 or if 23 people gave a $100... 50 more kids would have a comfortable place to sleep at night. Any amount you can muster is incredible. Here are some suggested rates:
  • $10 Gives Solidarity
  • $25 Gives Mattress, Sheets and Pillows
  • $50 Gives a Full Night Sleep
  • $100 Gives Two Kids Sound Rest so they Can Focus in School
  • $150 Gives Three Kids Sweet Dreams
  • $200 Gives a Family of Four Peace of Mind
  • $500 Gives the Whole Big Family Comfort Every Night

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for helping our Lakota friends!

*The tracker doesn't have the extra $500 on it because we got some checks in the mail going towards our goal.