Blog2019-02-12T23:49:29+00:00

Imperfect Serenity

I began this blog in 2005 while I was taking care of two young children and my dying mother, so the title, Imperfect Serenity, referred to my struggle to stay spiritually grounded during a difficult time. Eventually the title came to include my experiences in eco-justice activism, anti-racism work, and book publicity. As I started publishing my writing on Huffington Post and Salon, I stopped posting here often, but many of the topics are still timely, so feel free to poke around.

711, 2018

The View from the Future

By |November 7th, 2018|Categories: Climate Change, Nonviolent Direct Action, Spirituality|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to talk with someone from the future? Last weekend I participated in an amazing exercise during the Earth Quaker Action Team annual board retreat. Our facilitator, BJ Star of Wildfire Project, split us into two groups. Six of us would be ourselves, living in these times. The other six would portray people from 200 years in the future, seven generations from now. They would be people who thought about our era as history and considered us their ancestors. I had tears flowing down my face before BJ was halfway through setting up the exercise. The truth is, I’m not sure humanity will survive two hundred more years. Given the rate at which we are poisoning the [...]

2906, 2018

One thing I’ve learned about protest

By |June 29th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment

It’s been a challenging time for those who value compassion and inclusion. If you're distraught, I understand. On Facebook, I've seen people name coping mechanisms, including: exercise, mac and cheese, time on the beach, therapy, and protest. I suspect others are coping by staying off Facebook altogether, maybe turning to community or prayer. I think all of those strategies have their merits, but want to share what I've learned about one of them: protest. This week concludes my fifth and final year as board clerk of Earth Quaker Action Team. (I'm happily passing the torch to incoming co-clerks, Lina Blount and John Bergen.) So, amid the news of anguished, separated families and calls to protest, I've been reflecting on what I've learned leading this small band of effective and [...]

2803, 2018

Arrested for Telling the Truth

By |March 28th, 2018|Categories: Climate Change, Nonviolent Direct Action, Racism, Spirituality|Tags: , , , , , , , |6 Comments

Both photos by Kaytee Ray-Riek, who was also an action lead Yesterday I was put in handcuffs by the Philadelphia police and led, wrists behind my back, out of my local electric utility customer service center and into a waiting police van. My crime? Sharing the truth about solar energy with my fellow PECO customers and refusing to leave when the utility got nervous about it. This wasn’t the original plan, but direct action often doesn’t go according to plan, so I was grateful to be with a group ready to follow where Spirit led us. Intentionally scheduled during a week held sacred by Christians and Jews, the religious tradition of righteous protest was an important part of this direct action. We began [...]

509, 2017

Spirituality for Troubled Times

By |September 5th, 2017|Categories: Climate Change, Nonviolent Direct Action, Racism, Spirituality|Tags: , , , , , , |9 Comments

  After the violence in Charlottesville, an African American friend of mine posted on Facebook that she’d had it with “spiritual white people.” I knew what she meant. As a white woman who has taught classes on spiritual discernment, racism, and social change strategy, I’d been thinking a lot about how to cultivate a spiritual response to hate that goes deeper than clichés about Love or denunciations of all violence, which is what many white people have been offering. In a time when our brothers and sisters of color are calling on us to do more, here are seven practices to help us move beyond good intentions and toward actual transformation: 1. Recognize both Oneness and Difference One of my core beliefs is that we [...]

2403, 2015

Epilogue to Renewable

By |March 24th, 2015|Categories: Climate Change, Writing|0 Comments

Eileen at the People's Climate Marchwith George and Ingrid Lakey Friday morning I did an author interview with religion journalist turned publisher, David Crumm, for his online magazine Read the Spirit. As someone who reads many memoirs, David suggested I write a blog post about what has happened in my life since the end of Renewable, for those who are curious. I thought it was a good idea, so here are some updates on me, Earth Quaker Action Team, and the wider climate justice movement. We are still living in “the house,” and I still have too much e-mail in my in-box, though now I'm interested in more of it. My family has adjusted reasonably well to my life of activism. Tom has [...]

1902, 2015

Intersectionality

By |February 19th, 2015|Categories: Climate Change, Racism|0 Comments

I'll be speaking this Saturday at a gathering on Climate, Race, and Justice. I find that talk has been rewriting itself over and over in my mind, even though I was supposed to be working on something else today, an article to accompany my book publication in less than two weeks. The intersection between Climate, Race, and Justice is something I've been interested in for a while. It's part of what brought me to this work, and I have felt that learning to talk about the intersections is part of what I'm called to do. But this is the first time I've been challenged to make a public statement about it--preferably in less than 30 minutes. It's hard. I believe that people learn best through [...]

305, 2014

Not Standing Alone

By |May 3rd, 2014|Categories: Nonviolent Direct Action|8 Comments

Direct action is never quite how you practiced it. At the run-through the night before the PNC annual shareholder meeting in Tampa, Florida I was one of several people who role played how we planned to stand up during the meeting, take off our business jackets to reveal t-shirts that said, “Praying for PNC to act responsibly” on one side and “No $ for Mountaintop Removal” on the other. Then we planned to close our eyes and pray for the duration of the meeting or until they kicked us out. As we debriefed the role play at the St. Petersburg Friends Meeting, I said how comforted I felt by the grounded woman standing next to me—so it was ironic that when the real moment came, [...]

3107, 2013

Southern Africa Trip: One Year Later

By |July 31st, 2013|Categories: Climate Change|1 Comment

Exactly a year ago I jumped out of my rental car on a bridge in Francistown, Botswana and took this picture of the dry Shashe River bed, knowing that I’d use it in talks about climate change in Africa. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I landed in Botswana, and the anniversary is making me nostalgic for that trip and aware of all the stories and pictures I never shared on this blog. I have a good friend, a white American, whose husband is West African. When she saw this picture of a Botswana supermarket, she exclaimed, “Oh, thank you for taking this picture!” Like me, she is aware that Americans get most of their images of Africa from The Lion King and The Nature [...]

705, 2013

Sacrilege

By |May 7th, 2013|Categories: Climate Change, Spirituality|1 Comment

Dustin White A little over a week ago, I attended a gathering in Kentucky organized by Read the Spirit, a wonderful interfaith publishing group that has been very supportive of my work. (You can read more about that gathering though the above link.) As soon as I started planning the trip, I knew that I should also use the opportunity to visit a mountaintop removal site in Appalachia. Despite all I’ve been learning about this devastating practice through my work with Earth Quaker Action Team, I had never actually seen it myself. My friend Dustin White of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition agreed to take me to a site in West Virginia, so I stopped to see him on my way home from Kentucky. [...]

2103, 2013

Why I’m Fasting

By |March 21st, 2013|Categories: Climate Change, Nonviolent Direct Action|0 Comments

Let me just say up front that I am not one of those people who feel all joyful and clearheaded when they’re fasting. The first time I fasted, a few months ago, I was looking at the gummy bear vitamins by 7am, wondering if eating a handful would be cheating. I had decided to fast one day a week before my civil disobedience in February because it felt like I was stepping into a deeper commitment to activism, one that would require sacrifice, and I needed some spiritual preparation. Still, I was nervous about giving up food entirely, so I allowed myself juice and fruit shakes. In fact I spent $5 a pop on the raw vegetable combos available at my local juice bar. I felt [...]