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.

January18, 2021

Where do we go from here? MLK Day 2021

By |January 18th, 2021|Categories: Activism, Nonviolent Direct Action, Racism|0 Comments

So much has happened since I took this photo four years ago, when I attended the women's march with my daughter and a friend from college. It was the day after Trump's inauguration, and our bodies were packed so tightly we could hardly move. The incredible turnout was a show of strength from those with a more loving vision for the United States, and the mood was mostly joyful, despite the seriousness of our concerns. Afterwards, there was criticism of the pink hats and discussion of how the march could have been more inclusive. What strikes me looking at the photos todays are all the signs calling for inclusivity and how fundamentally different they were from the hateful messages outside the Capital last Wednesday. My side in this national divide may not [...]

December1, 2020

What I Learned from Fighting a Coup

By |December 1st, 2020|Categories: Activism, Spirituality|Tags: , |2 Comments

Whew! What a month it's been. Those who read my October newsletter know that I became the Trainings Coordinator for Choose Democracy, a start-up effort that in a matter of weeks trained nearly 10,000 people in How to Stop an Election-Related Power Grab. I'm enormously proud of the work this group did and believe that we played an important role in thwarting Donald Trump's plans to steal an election that he didn't win. Today I want to share three major things I learned from this whirlwind experience, both about life and about making change. 1. Anxiety doesn't help us see clearly. There were very good reasons to be afraid of a coup. Obsessively watching the election results and Trump's blustering afterwards were nerve-wracking. But one of the things I appreciated from [...]

February5, 2020

On the Bright Side

By |February 5th, 2020|Categories: Climate Change, Nonviolent Direct Action|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Recent Philly Thrive action The news is infuriating and terrifying. The prospect of a second Trump Administration looms large, and not just for those in the United States. However, the media’s obsession with events that revolve around Trump—the impeachment, the election, and the State of the Union—obscures how people like the rest of us are making a difference every day. So, I’m breaking my long newsletter hiatus to highlight some other things going on in the world, just in case you need a little good news today. First, I’m not discounting the power of the U.S. presidency. As one member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told me when I met him in India a few months ago, the Paris Climate Accord [...]

August15, 2019

Brave Where You Are

By |August 15th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

A prop from an EQAT action pressuring PNC For those of you who have been around here awhile, you may have noticed that I skipped the July issue of this newsletter. That wasn’t so much a conscious choice as the result of burying my mind in the book I’m working on, while having five people and several home improvement projects happening in my house this summer. I just looked up, and it’s mid-August. Still, my head hasn't totally been in the sand. I have noticed that there is a lot going on in our world. A lot that is heartbreaking and calls out for a response. A lot that won't be solved with one election. In fact, I have a growing sense that [...]

June4, 2019

Navigating Fear in Scary Times

By |June 4th, 2019|Categories: Nonviolent Direct Action, Racism|Tags: , |0 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage, especially the fact that we need more of it these days. I’ve been paying attention to what makes me feel scared and what makes me feel brave, and trying to do more of the later. As I mentioned in my last blog post, community is key for me. So is focusing on the big picture. This morning, there were several news stories that reminded me of the big picture, the long game, if you will. First was the fact that this is the hundredth anniversary of Congress passing the 19th Amendment. Frankly, I’m still annoyed that neither of my children learned in school about the amazingly brave women that won women the right to vote, some through civil disobedience, [...]

May1, 2019

Crashing Corporate Meetings as a Path to Self-Knowledge

By |May 1st, 2019|Categories: Climate Change, Nonviolent Direct Action, Spirituality|Tags: |4 Comments

Shareholder team photo by Rachael Warriner Yesterday morning I put on my nicest business dress, a little bit of mascara and joined Earth Quaker Action Team in Wilmington, DE for the annual shareholder meeting of Exelon, the parent company of our electric utility, PECO. We came to disrupt business as usual with the message that PECO is failing to transition to a just and sustainable energy future, and as the responsible parent, Exelon needed to address PECO’s poor performance. My role was action lead, the person who grounded the group at the beginning and decided when to leave the meeting, since getting arrested out of state was not part of the plan. While a larger group outside rallied and sang, seven of us [...]

April2, 2019

Strategy & Spirit

By |April 2nd, 2019|Categories: Climate Change, Nonviolent Direct Action, Spirituality, Uncategorized|0 Comments

“Strategy is so hard,” said a young activist leader I met with recently. She then listed several challenges she thought should be considered when coming up with a campaign strategy, including what her group might be willing to try. It struck me that she was starting with potential limitations instead of where she wanted to go, something I see many activists do. Planning a campaign strategy is like planning a route with a GPS. First, you need to know your destination.  To generate a visual aid, I tried typing “victory” into my iPhone, and it suggested three driving routes to the Victory Beer Hall (which I thought was pretty funny). The fastest goes out of my way, but the most direct route is on a [...]

November7, 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 [...]

June29, 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 [...]

March28, 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 [...]