In a good cause: NoDAPL and other Native Rights

Sometimes the obvious thing is the right thing. The NoDAPL movement–opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline–is something a lot of my friends are thinking about, talking about, wondering how to help with. So it may seem a little obvious. But obvious is sometimes right. And I think that–for example–the difficulties of reservation law enforcement in dealing with white people who commit crimes on the reservation are not necessarily obvious to people who don’t want to think about it. They’re only well-known in certain circles. So: Native rights, justice for Native people both at Standing Rock and elsewhere: generally a good cause.

Let’s start with Native American Rights Fund. They support a broad range of causes–government accountability, preservation of resources, individual rights and justice–with an ongoing umbrella organization that will not only help the people at Standing Rock, they’ll help the people at the next Standing Rock. And try to prevent the next one from happening in the first place.

Last week for Thanksgiving there were several round-up posts about what you can do, if you don’t want to go from site to site. Here’s one. And another. Please remember that if you’re going to go participate in the protests yourself, you want it to be about what the people there need, not about your own spiritual journey. (Actually that’s a good focus for any charitable/volunteer work.)

There are also individual camps taking donations, so you can take your pick: Oceti Sakowin camp; Sacred Stone Camp; Standing Rock Rosebud Camp; Red Warrior Camp. And hey. This pipeline was judged not safe enough to go through the predominantly white areas–that is, not safe enough for my cousins. So why is it safe enough for someone else’s? It isn’t. This pipeline is being built by people with some of the worst oil pipeline leak records in the country. The other question to ask is: what have I done, actively, to be a good neighbor to my Indian/Native American/First Nations neighbors? Because we are long past the point where “I didn’t personally go kick them in the shins” is enough.

In a Good Cause: Alliance for the Great Lakes

Every week between now and the election–thankfully not that many weeks left–I’m posting about a charity. This week’s is Alliance for the Great Lakes. (WordPress has been weird about dropping my links when I publish posts, so I’m going to write out the URL here even though it’s awkward: https://greatlakes.org.)

Those of you who know me know what a major spot Lake Superior has in my heart, but they’re all pretty great. (It says so right in the name!) And they’re also really significant for the water health of North America. Alliance for the Great Lakes scores very high on all the charity raters for how much of their money goes to their mission instead of overhead and gladhanding. The eastern Great Lakes are a stellar example of a place where making an effort to clean up our act as a species has made a significant difference in my lifetime, and we want to keep Lake Superior awesome rather than letting it get awful and having to clean it back up again. Safe swimming in Lake Michigan for fish and nieces! Support our Great Lakes!

In a Good Cause: 360 Communities

Remember last week, when I said I was going to post weekly about charities between now and the election? Yep, that was last week.

This week’s charity is 360 Communities, formerly known as the Community Action Council. They have multiple sites in the south Minneapolis metro, providing shelters for people who are fleeing domestic violence, food shelves, school success programs, and assistance toward self-sufficiency. They also run a hotline and assistance for those who have been sexually assaulted. They work toward affordable, available, high quality child care. Basically the more you learn about this group, the more good stuff you’ll find they’re doing.

They are local to me. But there are groups trying to do similar work local to you. If you live in an area with food shelves and shelters, they always, always need support–volunteers as well as donations. And if you live in an area without those institutions, I guarantee that there are other people in your broader community looking around to say, “this is wrong, we need these resources, what can we do in the meantime?” “Domestic violence shelters in [your area]” will give you a first pass search on what’s out there. Same deal for “food shelves in [your area].”

One of the things I really like about 360 Communities is that they’re trying to address people’s whole set of needs, not just one piece or another piece. But getting at the pieces is still useful when you can do it. Better some than none.

Cultural translation, part 375

This is in response to a locked post a friend made about how hard it can be to talk about things when you’re doing badly, without minimizing or feeling like you’re whining. I wrote most of the post and then realized that people might think I was being subtle about myself instead of reacting to a friend. But: locked post, cannot link. Sorry.

Some years ago, a friend of mine lost her partner (also a friend of mine). In addition to his death–as if that wouldn’t have been enough–my friend also lost her voice for quite some time, and there was an incident with a falling piano, and…yeah. It was not a good scene for my friend. Everyone who knew her knew of the string of bad things, but those of us in town had more opportunity to actually spend time with her.

Then I went to World Fantasy, and I ran into some people I know by name but do not know well. They were friends with my friend. And when I mentioned her name, they immediately said, “Oh yes, how is [friend]?” And I said, very firmly, “She’s doing just great.” They reared back and stared at me as though I had grown a second head. Doing great?, they asked incredulously. I, in turn, stared at them as though they had grown additional heads and said, “I don’t know how much better anyone could expect her to do under the circumstances!” Well, no, they agreed. Under the circumstances. Really one could not. But we sort of looked at each other funny for the rest of the conversation.

And it is hard to find the balance between informing people of bad stuff that’s going on and feeling like you’re whining. It really is. But this is also complicated by the fact that friends and other people of goodwill can’t rely on coming from the same cultural perspective on this. Even when one is speaking on behalf of someone else and not worrying about whining–and Lord knows if anyone had earned a whine that fall it would have been my friend–what message is conveyed by what level of response is highly, highly culturally determined. I would have felt disloyal if I’d said something that, in retrospect, was more like they seemed to expect, more along the lines of, “Poor dear, with all she’s been through it’s a wonder she can put one foot in front of the other to get from bed to bathroom.” It was a wonder. But she was doing it, and I didn’t want to give the impression that she was not. They already knew the practical details–I knew this was not a situation where I was going to be called upon to say, “Oh, had you not heard the terrible news?”

And I think one of the major cultural obstacles to overcome in achieving actual communication is how much people are expected to state the emotionally obvious. Sometimes it’s a relief to turn to someone and say, “I’m really sad right now,” or, “This has been very stressful for me.” But sometimes it’s also a great relief not to have to. Sometimes it’s a very great relief for the person or people you’re with to think, “Hmm, gee, Friend’s partner died, maybe Friend is REALLY SAD, I’ll do something nice,” without having to spell out every moment: “Still sad. Yep, still devastated. Life still in chaos due to very sad thing, yep yep.”

Sometimes you have to do that. Sometimes that’s just how it works out. But wow, is it another layer of difficult just when people don’t need more difficult. And it’s a thing to keep an eye out for a) when writing people from different cultures and b) in trying to be compassionate in, y’know, real life.

Rikki-tikki-tavi endorses this message

So I was reading Slacktivist today, and I found out that the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins was telling people that some parts of Minneapolis are no-go zones for non-Muslims. I just wanted to reassure you: stand down, friends and family! We are fine here!

(I was going to say “there’s nowhere in this city you can’t go on the basis of religion,” but that’s not true. The inner parts of Mormon temples are just for Mormons, for example. But that’s, like, certain rooms in a handful of buildings. Not even the whole building. Much less a whole neighborhood.)

Rep. Keith Ellison invited Perkins to Minneapolis to see for himself, which seems like a terrible idea to me, because then we’d have Perkins in my metro. But still, he’s a politician, it’s his job to score points off idiots be welcoming for his city. But the thing that got me is: I have literally no idea where Perkins thinks he might be talking about. This is not the “figuratively” use of literally. This is just, really, like: huh? Where’s that, exactly? Or even roughly–we don’t have to be exact. I can think of neighborhoods with lots of Somalis in them–we have Somali neighbors ourselves, and they pet my dog–but that’s so very far from the same thing as to not be worth discussing. There are some places Christians (and Jews and atheists and pagans and…) can buy halal meat more easily than others, but I wouldn’t think that would stop anybody from going there. If you don’t want halal meat, don’t buy it; problem solved.

I asked Mark and Tim, and they had no idea either. Seriously none. And what I really don’t get is that this kind of lie is so easily disprovable. Lots of people have friends and family here in the Twin Cities–many of them in Minneapolis proper, even–and so if they hear this and call up Aunt Ethel to say, “OMG Aunt Ethel, I heard about your neighborhoods with sharia law there in Minneapolis,” Aunt Ethel will say, “Are you high?” And then Aunt Ethel will call your mother to talk about maybe having an intervention for the drugs you are apparently on. Minneapolis: it is not the moon. I do not live on a satellite of the moon, people. If someone says something about Minneapolis, we can find out whether or not it is true. It doesn’t even take a Large Hadron Collider. We can just, like…wander out and look.

It’s a good plan, wandering out and looking. I endorse it in general.

Dialect nerding with Mris

Okay, another dialect question. Haven’t done one in awhile. Does your home dialect contain the phrase “a goin’ concern,” usually applied to small children? And if not, would you still have some sense of what “that child is a goin’ concern” might mean if someone else used it, or would you be completely in the dark?

(Sometimes when I’m talking to my grandmother things come out of my mouth that I never, ever say to my friends, and then I stop and realize that I have no idea if I don’t say them because it’s an old-fashioned phrase we just don’t really use or if I don’t say them because my friends would find me incomprehensible. And this is what the internet is for! Someone might have told you it was for porn. Someone nicer might have told you it was for kitten pictures. They were wrong, or rather, they were right but in the broader sense. It is for assuaging random curiosity. And I do have a most ‘satiable curtiosity.)

Also: if you are a person who says “a goin’ concern,” at what age does a person stop being a goin’ concern? Because I am now a little worried.

Public service announcement from the frozen north

Did you know–I did not, which is why I am telling you–that they sell little compressor dealies that will plug into the cell phone charger slot in your car? (It is not either the cigarette lighter. Ours never once came with a thing that would light cigarettes. It is the cell phone charger.) So that if you regularly go places that are so cold that a) your tires will deflate somewhat and b) the air hoses at gas stations will freeze, then you can just carry this solution along with you in the car, and it is a very small box and reads out the pressure for you so you can tell how long to run it?

Obviously this is not a solution if you have shredded a tire so badly that it is more of a tire fringe than a tire. Very few things are a solution to that, and you probably already know what they are. But if you have a slow leak, or if you are just in the cold conditions described above and your tires are fine, then you can have this lovely little gadget that will set your mind at ease about being stranded somewhere with mildly flat tires. Or if you worry about someone else you know who goes places where this might apply, then you can stop worrying about them. The nice-ish ones are $30. They sell even less-nice ones for less than that. It is a thing that should be known. So now you know it.