THE WATER HOLDS THE WISDOM

 

WORDS & MUSIC: MAMA CAUGHT FIRE

Mississippi River,

what do you need from me?

If we ask our rivers what they need from us, how do they respond? This is the question I asked myself while driving to northern Minnesota, crossing many small rivers along the way. When I passed the Grindstone River, this tune came into my mind. I shared it with Abigail and Julia, and we decided to record ourselves singing to the Mississippi River, as it is the major waterway in the Twin Cities and one of the primary rivers in this country. Whenever we perform this tune, however, we sing to the closest river, asking her what she needs.

I grew up hearing about the year the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. But water doesn’t burn. Oil does. In 1969, this industrial river was ignited by sparks from a passing train. The oil-slicked debris on the water caught the spark and flames spread, reaching heights of over five stories. That image always fascinated me as a kid -- the idea of water on fire. The absurdity of the event captured other imaginations as well. Local citizens worked to clean the water, and Congress was inspired to pass the National Environment Policy Act. That was the thirteenth time the Cuyahoga caught on fire.  

I spent a lot of time as a child in southern Ohio, where I would play in the creeks and rivers, searching for crawdads and peepers. Since becoming an adult, I’ve learned that many of the nearby rivers were metallic orange and void of life, at the same time that I played in my favorite creeks. Due to the history of mining in this area, acid mine drainage has polluted these waters. When mining exposes sulfide to water and air, sulfuric acid is created. The extraction of resources deep within the ground causes rivers that were once clear-running and fish-filled to fall to a pH of 4 or lower, similar to that of battery acid.

Our rivers are talking to us. They’re sending up bright orange flares. Through thick oil slicks, they’re asking to be water again.

As Robin Wall Kimmerer writes about the polluted Onondaga Lake, “...The water has been tricked. It started on its way full of innocence, full of its own purpose. Through no fault of its own it has been corrupted and, instead of being a bearer of life, it must now deliver poison. And yet it cannot stop itself from flowing. It must do what it must do, with the gifts bestowed upon it by the Creator. It is only people who have a choice” (Braiding Sweetgrass).

If we listen, the water will tell us what she needs.

I’ve been looking for some answers

From these long-forgotten trees.

But the water holds the wisdom

Of the changing land beneath.

The water also gives voice to the land around us. She does not leave us alone to interpret the changing world or figure out how to manage climate change by ourselves. Whether it’s a glacial river in the Yukon redirecting its course due to fast-melting glaciers, or our nearby Mississippi setting record high levels and record low levels over the course of just two months, our rivers are reacting to a warmer climate and giving warning signs of a volatile future. As MPR’s Chief Meteorologist, Paul Huttner, says, “Our rivers and lakes are a barometer of climate change.”

When a river flows, her path and direction reflects the environment through which she moves. For example, a slow, meandering river often points to unstable shores, which erode and fill the water with sediment. Deforested riverbanks change the shape of the river’s path. But as surrounding forests are regenerated, tree roots stabilize the soil and the river flows stronger, more fixed in her course. This is the language of rivers. I take solace in the fact that if we can read the rivers, then we can understand the land. To solve climate change, we must acknowledge the wisdom of nature.

Mississippi River,

Listen as she speaks.

When we perform this song, we teach our audience the first and last lines and invite them to sing along. We sing the last verse in unison, bringing our voices together in one simple melody. To sing these words together feels like a necessary act. We fill the room with a question, “Mississippi River, what do you need from me?” And then we listen.

 

 

 

MEET OUR ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE: MAMA CAUGHT FIRE

Dear Loam,

 

We are Mama Caught Fire, a vocal trio based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The three of us met as students at Macalester College and began singing together almost four years ago, when we realized our shared interest in folk music. We got our start by covering some of our favorite female musicians’ songs, including The Staves’ Winter Trees, Holly Near’s Mountain Song, and Patty Griffin’s Cold As It Gets. We would gather in the campus Veggie Co-op on Wednesday nights, drink whiskey, and revel in the healing power of singing harmony. Amidst the stress of academic work and being away from our respective homes for the first time, music became our haven.

 

Eventually, we started to share original songs with each other, revealing personal stories of losing loved ones, leaving a toxic church, and longing for the familiar landscape of home. Our original music has come to explore some of our more collective experiences as well, such as the mother-daughter relationship and finding peace amidst political turmoil.

 

We now perform regularly in music venues around the Twin Cities and beyond, and enjoy connecting with other artists and musicians. We’re grateful for the support and openness in the Twin Cities, as it reminds us of why we sing and share music in the first place: art has the power to bring people together.

 

We are drawn to Loam because of its dedication to using goodness and creativity as tools to achieve change. Along the same lines, we use music to bring attention to the causes we care about. Whether singing for a benefit show, writing songs about resilience, or gathering friends and musicians in our backyard to celebrate the solstice, we use music to make a stance in a turbulent political current and to give back to our community.

 

To wrap our minds around this project, we set off for Ohio to hole up in a cabin on Molly’s family farm in the foothills of the Appalachians. We spent a week writing songs in the humidity, listening to the night, riding horses, and cooking good food together. This was the first time we had created music so collaboratively. While we have always contributed harmonies to one another’s songs or given suggestions for arrangements, each of us typically comes to the group with a melody and song structure that we’ve thought of on our own. For this project, we sat down and wrote lyrics together, word by word. We improvised melodies and played around with chord progressions as a group. To us, this process mimics the communal efforts that we must take to tackle climate change. Each of us had to bring our unhindered creativity to the group, without fear of judgement. We had to share our opinions boldly, while learning to listen and compromise.

 

Over the course of this month, we will share four original songs with you. Our writing will elaborate on the stories behind the music, and our videos will offer a window into our live performances and our trip to Ohio.

 

We are eager for this opportunity to explore our environmental voices. And we are grateful for this space to reflect on the landscapes of our homes, sustainable solutions to climate change, and our shared responsibility to care for this planet.

Warmly,

Molly, Julia, and Abigail 

ON FEAR

WORDS & IMAGE: KAILEA FREDERICK


I write these words while the Eclipse is ongoing. I have not planned for this celestial event. I have not traveled out with my car into the world to stand in a field. Instead I stand in my yard and look up while a thick layer of fog casts out any glimpse I may have of the open sky. The world feels quieter and there is a flock of birds that call out again and again into the stillness, I wonder if they know. I can detect a subtle shift in the atmosphere and I feel truly alone for a moment.

I have not wanted to participate in the collective gathering of energy around the Eclipse and I do not fully know why. I do know that I am tired by the Eclipse posts in my feed and the repetitiveness that they represent. I do know that most days I feel angry and that at night an old type of fear has traveled its way into my bed. Before Charlottesville I was starting to lose my footing, post Charlottesville I can feel within my skin an under current of my old childhood temper. Flashes of red-hot, bursts through my bloodstream, the word ‘”fuck” comes out of my mouth frequently and I feel real hatred when I think of our current Presidents face. It’s the type of hatred that I so openly speak out against and that knowing makes me want to fall into myself and out from our mass channels of conversation. I don’t have something so pretty to contribute at the moment. I don’t have the energy to pick your spirits up. I want to tell you that there is a way forward, but I cannot be your guide. 

I have been re-reading a letter I wrote to Adam, my boyfriend about my fear. This was in the month of December, and I had yet to arrive back in the states post our disastrous election results. I had woken up from a dream where I had spoken out at a rally in support of Trump. I said “we have to resist. Do not listen to his lies. Get up off the ground, go home, you do not have to be here.” In the dream I knew that part of doing this would put me and the people that I loved in danger. I could feel that our right to publicly speak out was slowly being taken away. 

The night before writing this letter to Adam, I had watched what I would still consider the most impactful piece of media that I had taken in since the election. It was a video of Daryl Davis, the black man who is famous for befriending KKK members. A recent news article on him reads, ‘How One Man Convinced 200 Ku Klux Klan Members To Give Up Their Robes’. This video back in December was the first time that I ever heard of Daryl Davis and this mans story was a direct confrontation to everything that I had been taught. I was suddenly held accountable to my own ideas of hope and the strong boundaries that encased them.  I realized I had never seen a black man standing next to KKK members, not counting a dead body swinging from a tree. I didn’t know this could be a possible reality and it felt as though a strong beam of light was shining down into my face. I felt like a hypocrite, hiding behind my fear of the perceived ‘other’. I quite literally had to raise my arm up and cover my face with my scarf from the friend that was watching this video with me. I felt ashamed as I started speaking out all of my fear. Childhood thoughts surfaced. Men in white robes are the images of my nightmares, I realized that this ingrained fear I have been carrying my whole life led to thoughts like, “These people are not human. These people are demons… these people.” I tell my friend, “I’ve only ever had two friends that were Republican. I have been raised in such an us, them mentality.” My world seems so small against the story of Daryl Davis. I am shaking inside to think about the possibility of really deconstructing these walls that I have been shaped by. I hear the stories of my family told to me at bedtime, about the one time my Indian father encountered a KKK member, how the man spoke hate into his long native hair. I am thoroughly saturated through by my mother’s plea for my safety, “Kailea the rules are different for you because you are brown. If the police stop you, you must comply. Please be safe!” I have been knowingly and unknowingly diligently building up walls of security over the past 26 years. There has always been the feeling to be small in moments of mass fear, to glide under the surface, to be an unnoticed face. This is our family’s way of survival. 

I have never let these thoughts move out of my mouth into the air. I have never let them be fully realized and I feel foolish as they burst forward in my babbling. I am not brave. I am a human girl. I harbor prejudice that can be seen through the scarf that I hold over my face. When I finish talking, my friend hugs me and I cry. Suddenly there is space to think the words, “What is possible?” It had never fully occurred to me on such an embodied level that I could meet hate crimes with humanity. The idea of it grates against my insides; I take a breath and call it a night. 

That was eight months ago. Eight long months in which we have been watching our government accelerate into its own inevitable collapse, taking a part of our society with it. Eight months of a continuing rise of white supremacists. Eight months of each of our own personal turmoil as we look for shelter in the echo chambers of our feeds.  I know just as much as you that there will be no solace there, yet I can’t stop looking for it even as I can feel the sucking of our progressive views becoming smaller and smaller. I am not satisfied by anyone’s anger, least of all mine. 

And then Charlottesville happens and it is like watching every one of my childhood nightmares come out of the night. I have been waking up from sleep and shaking Adam’s arm and speaking my fear into the dark while he tries to listen half asleep and tries to comfort while wrapping me in his arms. I lay there still awake unable to shake this feeling in my bones, it feels ancient this type of fear.

I have a personal strict protocol to not move forward fueled by hate, and so instead I have been stalled out. I know this is not what you want to hear. I am still moving, just in place. I put in my hours, check off my to-do’s and when I can, I walk up into the hills where you can hear the dry sounds of summer crack the long grasses in half. I find a bit of fuel in books just like I always have and I think everyday about how to tell the truth about the fact that I feel more and more uncomfortable in the left. How the spaces made to help POC and native people feel ‘safe’ make me furious.  I feel I don’t belong anywhere. I am tired of being so careful with my words. I am tired of fitting myself into neatly crafted PC packages. I am yearning to be in conversation with people brave enough to say it wrong, brave enough to say, “I don’t know.” Our lack of exploration leads me nowhere. All of our right-ness is starting to sound very similar to everything that we say we stand against. I am starting to forget what it is we stand for. I miss hearing into the true words of people’s hearts. 

Today is the day of the Eclipse. I have not read any of the horoscopes, and the fog of the North Bay blocked out my view of the sun. Instead I went and sat down in my own yard. It was not mystical, it was not deep, it was just me and my tomato plants, my half drunk cup of coffee going cold, the feeling of dry soil against my feet. I placed a prayer down for this emptiness that I feel in the form of a contained circle made of dried bachelor button petals. Dark purple, indigo, light pink, the colors tell the age of each flower, bleached lighter and lighter by days growing under the strength of the sun. Here we are as well, running around in our frantic pain while the sun ticks time, day after day. Putting ourselves to bed in the well-known fears of the past. Asking for something different while we practice all the same motions. Forgetting that we are more alike, than different, forgetting that we are rarely original in our thoughts about the world. 

 Rumi left us with the well-known lines, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” There are more words though that are part of this particular passage that are less known. They read, “When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense.” 

I am putting down my big ideas of making sense of any of this. Instead I am asking for the courage to live into a humble life; a life where there is space to speak my fears and to hear yours too, before we set them down.

The Eclipse is over now. 

AN UNRAVELING

WORDS & IMAGE: KAILEA FREDERICK

I don’t yet have a name for this moment that continues to repeat itself over the years, but it looks something like this. What starts out, as a conversation with an elder on today’s current affairs, quickly turns painfully honest as the elder speaks to what is likely in store for my generation. This last happening occurred on Sunday while at my boyfriend’s mother’s house for her birthday. It was a women’s only affair and I suddenly found myself in a room of white hair, the youngest by easily 45 years. While sipping tea and eating scones and clotted cream I found myself deep in a conversation with two other women on climate and politics. Two grandmothers dressed for tea were suddenly in the thick of their passion, struggling to keep their voices even as they spoke to the reality of our times. Berkeley's late afternoon sun poured into my lap while I sat mainly quiet, sandwiched between the two. I could feel where this was heading, and suddenly we had arrived at ‘the moment’, where the grandmothers had talked themselves out, and all that was left to do, was turn to me in sadness. “All I can say”, spoke one, “is that I’m grateful I was born at the time that I was.” The other woman silently nodded her head in agreement. “We’re sorry, we don’t have to talk about this any more, it’s too depressing” she finished with. 

This is the moment that I have yet to name. I wonder about the other times in the history of humankind, when the passing of the baton to the next generation was such a somber ordeal? When elders felt more grateful for the fact that their lives were nearing an end, when looking into the eyes of those who still had so much life to live out. A few years ago when these odd interactions first started happening they confused me. I was used to looking towards adults for guidance and support, and it was a strange sort of societal initiation when I realized that I was now also considered an adult, in that I was no longer shielded from all that was falling apart. Perhaps what was most unsettling was the ease that sometimes accompanied an adult handing over ‘the world’ to me. “Here,” some would say, “we may have fucked it up beyond repair, hopefully you can make it better.” These dead end comments would leave me infuriated and struggling with myself when I couldn’t seem to create the capacity to internalize that we seemed to currently be living out some version of the end of the world. Now I realize, that this is a near impossible task. I am not sure that we humans are fully equipped to comprehend on an emotional or psychic level what it is we are in store for. We are struggling to realize in the midst of the unraveling, that we are unraveling. And we are struggling with the ability to take responsibility for our part in it all. 

 


The Prayer: 

I’ve had a small collection of rose buds drying over the last weeks and I took them with me outside, with these thoughts in mind. I sat and slowly began to peel a bud open, petal by petal. “This is me consciously creating an unraveling,” I thought to myself. I picked up a second bud that was still intact and placed it in the center of the petals, and questioned the possibility of new growth from something old and decaying. Often I find myself feeling stuck, conscious that I am living and working within an old and dying system with the hopes of creating something new. I feel frustrated when I bump up against what seem to be immobile boundaries. “Will I to one day be an elder grateful for my passing time on this earth, simultaneously saddened by all that I could not or did not do? Will I give up early, and eagerly throw the baton of responsibility into the hands of my grandchildren?” I ask myself these questions and it makes me feel like a coward. I pick up a pinch of tiny dried petals and sprinkle them within a larger petal, “this will be a prayer for courage”, I say to myself. Moving to the next petal, I place a prayer within for belief. I desperately need to believe in something beyond our current environmental and political crisis. I do this 9 more times, moving around the center bud, laying down prayers for my own responsibility, for growing into eldership, for steadfastness even when I am scared. And then right as I place my last prayer down, a small gust of wind comes through, overturning a petal, sending bits and pieces of my thoughts into the air. An eternal reminder that we will never be in control and that everything is already in motion. 

 

FROM THE ROOTS UP

WORDS & IMAGE: KAILEA FREDERICK

“So long as Hawaii was a monarchy, however, a non-Hawaiian would never have complete control of the government and therein lies the tale of Bayonet, the Overthrow and the American annexation.


The same founders of the Independent/Reform Party in 1883 made up the committee of safety that took control of the government in 1893 under the protection of American soldiers and warships. In 1895, in a particularly spiteful and cynical piece of timing, they declared their republic on July 4, a “government” that had all of 4,000 mostly white citizens, and declared Sanford Dole president for life. That this “republic” was set up for no other purpose than to encourage the Americans to annex the islands makes it impossible to commemorate the Fourth as a day of independence. I cannot imagine how any Hawaiian, knowledgeable about this history and feeling any sense of kinship with his or her nineteenth century ancestors, celebrates the Fourth of July.”


– Jonathan Osorio, Excerpt from ‘A Hawaiian National on Independence Day’


My family is First Nations from northern British Columbia, but I grew up in Hawai`i, and have an American passport. These identities are more than present for me, from July 1st through the 4th as Canada celebrates its Confederation Day and America their Independence Day. As I’ve become an adult, these four days have also become all the more confusing for me. I didn’t grow up with a nationalistic sense, as my parents were always honest with me about the history on which this country was founded. My mother, an African American woman, had us watching Roots at an early age so that we would always understand how the color of our ancestors skin was linked to the inequity of the ‘American Dream.’ I remember having serious doubts around the age of 10 about the daily standing in school to observe the flag while pledging allegiance to “The United States of America”. So much of my ancestry and present reality did not lend itself to comfortably believing in this pledge. Hawai`i is geographically isolated from the mainland of America. We were literally, not united with the rest of the states, and culturally we were being raised with what seemed to be a very different mentality than those raised on the mainland. 

The Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement has been present my entire life. On the side of the highways are homemade signs that state just this: "Reinstated Kingdom of Hawai`i". I couldn’t always comprehend the full immensity of these signs as a child, but by the simple fact of being native, there was a deeper sense of knowing. I often sit with myself now and ask, “What does it mean to be native?”  For me the answer is tied up with an understanding that at some point, invaders arrived on the land of my ancestors and took over through any means necessary. Today we use words like colonization to sum up the before history of massacre, disease and religion, when really colonization is only possible after indigenous populations are left decimated, hanging onto the bare threads of survival. Assimilation is also a part of this process. Through the use of shaming the native or Indian out of populations, total control can be taken, as cultural identity is lost to the larger mass identity of nationalism. 

A few years ago new language began to rapidly move around me in the islands. “Occupied by the American Military” was suddenly a way to understand the deeper ‘why’ behind Hawai`i as a state and the large military base that is on the island of Oahu. “The Overthrow” of the Hawaiian Kingdom became a focal piece of history as the general public started untying the knot between water issues, the shipping industry and our extreme dependence on food and other resources from the mainland. People started understanding their place in it all. The word settler, became commonplace as those non- Hawaiians accepted the actual history of the place they now inhabited. We were not Native Hawaiians, we were from somewhere else, but that didn’t mean that we couldn’t work together. As it was most recently explained to me, if you are not native to the land you are currently living on, then your responsibility is to support those who’s ancestors are of that land in their rightful fight for sovereignty. Part of this process is supporting the re-framing of what was once commonplace. I don’t write any of this in an act of shaming, but I do write in an act of honesty.  Simply put from my perspective, the celebration of Canada Day and The Fourth of July are a celebration of continual land theft and most importantly, the celebration of Indigenous resiliency in the fight for survival against all odds. 

I am aware that there are many other perspectives that one can bring to my viewpoint, but as our “democracy” unravels for all I am sure many more are beginning to feel into this loss of “independence” that native peoples have felt for hundreds of years. There are ways forward, and together, but they will not fit into our conventional sense of business as usual. As The United States takes pause to observe and remember false histories built upon slavery and war, I ask you to take a moment aside from the usual agenda as well. Ask yourself, who are the original caretakers of the land I live on and where are they today? How is their history wrapped up in the one that America is celebrating? And lastly, what do I want my place to be in it all? That might be the most important question, because against all desires of our government at hand, you still have a choice in how and where you bring your voice. 

The Prayer:
I’ve been watching dandelions spring up within my yard over the last months. At first there were just a few, lone yellow topped stalks that budded closed at night and wisped across the yard over the days, seeding the barren soil. Now they are everywhere, covering whole areas with their thick dark green leaves, I can’t help but look at them and think, “against all odds.” Dandelions are incredible. The plant itself is a token of resiliency, a reminder that even where seemingly nothing can regrow, there will be life again. When used medicinally to treat inflamed livers, they whisper, “this too will heal.” I decided that for these thoughts I wanted to sit with these plants as a way to provide healing for my own anger and pain. The prayer that wanted to come forward was one that asked for wholeness. 


I collected petals that had fallen from their stems over the last week and began to weave them into the base of dandelions, re-forming them into a larger flower. I thought about how many of us are scattered from our true places of origin, how many of us hurting in our search for a place to call home. There is so much that cannot be rebuilt to replicate what was, but that does not mean re-building cannot happen. The reality is just that what will be born will look different than what was. I don’t think its wrong that it hurts to come to that realization, because it does hurt. In matters of reconciliation we ask, “What is possible?” Sometimes the answers seem futile, not enough for all the wrong that has been. But then I have to ask myself, “Will my anger feed me and those around me into further right action?” I know that it won’t. I know that the real injustice is to live my life out of anger and the only real possibility of reconciliation is to define my own healing. 

This is my own prayer for healing from the roots up. 

ON FORGIVENESS

WORDS & IMAGE: KAILEA FREDERICK

This video clip has been haunting me. 


Stephanie Woodward, a disabled woman protesting Trumpcare, is literally ripped from her wheelchair while being arrested. My immediate response is a tightening in my throat as I watch the footage from the comfort of my bed. Everything that created this one instance is wrong and I am struggling to understand how this can be okay. Simply put, it is not okay. Just because it is happening, does not make it okay. Sometimes I have to say this aloud to myself so that I don’t forget. Disabled peoples, whose lives are being placed on the line by a proposed $800 billion dollar cut to Medicaid, should not be arrested for stating their right to stay alive. As Woodward writes, “I mean to live in freedom. Because the liberty of so many Americans with disabilities is at stake, we laid our bodies on the line last week. We chanted loudly as we were taken away from the office and into police custody.” 


The Prayer:
I went and sat out in my garden after watching this clip. My baby greens have bolted and I harvested the last bits from a plant before pulling it out of the ground. I outlined a circle in the earth, where the roots of the plant had once been. I wanted to ‘plant’ this prayer in my garden bed. I had carried from the house a bowl of purple flowers that I had dried a few months ago. My original inclination was to make something with all of them, but once outside I only felt like using a few flowers and nothing else. Nothing so big wanted to be created, because within me I felt small. This actual piece itself only took about two minutes to put into place, but once done I sat with it for quite some time. I lay my hands down alongside the edges of the circle I had traced and closed my eyes. I realized that as much as this was about those directly impacted by Medicaid cuts this was also prayer of forgiveness. I thought about what it would feel like to be one of those policemen pulling disabled people from their wheelchairs, and my heart broke for them as well. As Woodward had put it in an interview with Democracy Now! the ADAPT activists and the policemen were both doing their jobs, it just turned out that on that day, those jobs directly confronted each other. 


You can read Woodward's words on this incident at this column she wrote for Vox.  
 

MEET OUR ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE: KAILEA FREDERICK

WORDS & IMAGES: KAILEA FREDERICK

 

PAUSE WITHIN THE CHAOS: A DAILY PROJECT OF PRAYER AND RITUAL

Can we learn to respond to the mounting violence in our time with soul- honoring and life- giving ways of being in the world? Much depends on the answer.
 Parker J. Palmer


Dear Friends, 


In the face of social, environmental and political unrest, Parker J. Palmer’s words have become my compass of compassion and grounding. While thinking about what I wanted to offer to the LOAM community, I referred again and again to the feeling that these works evoke within my being. “Somehow, through it all, there could be a way to exist within the chaos,” they seem to be whispering.  This idea, that I could feel whole while living within so much fragmentation seems far-flung and nearly impossible. I decided that for my artist-in-residency I wanted to explore deeper into this contradiction. 


Most days people refer to me as an activist or an environmentalist. I like to call myself an educator on earth stewardship. My personal life is as much my work as my work is personal, as I am always seeking to live into what it means for me to be an active steward. For most of my work and projects I am asked to take in an incredible amount of media. This media more often than not comes in through screens and sometimes through radio or actual printed publications. I love my work and the relationships that have been built through these spaces, but staying updated on all that is going wrong in the world often leaves me depleted. I think many of you out there might feel similar. We live in an age of unbelievable connectivity and at our fingertips lay an endless string of ways to get involved amidst the devastation.  As Kate Weiner of LOAM writes, “There is a tremendous pressure within the mainstream climate movement to work yourself to the bone. I've written before about how the pressure to perpetually act conforms to the same capitalist measures of productivity that so many of us are fighting against. But it can be difficult to bring it on home— to believe that it is not only nourishing but also necessary to provide pauses in our day; to trust that sitting some things out can create the space for beautiful things to bloom; and to know that rethinking our everyday actions can be as healing to the world as advocating for broad policy change.” This is the space from which I wish to share and offer an invitation, and LOAM as a publication is the perfect place to offer from. Here, the concept of sustainability is understood as more than just an outward application. Sustainability must first and foremost begin from within if we are to talk about this being the work of our lives. And so I ask myself, “What will be the soul quenching practice of pause that will nurture me for the long- haul?”

The times are urgent; let us slow down.
Bayo Akomolafe


Pause Within the Chaos is an art project that works with imbuing prayer and ritual into everyday life. Inspired by Asumund Seip’s book, 100 Days for the Earth, which explores 100 days of writing to the places we hold dear, Pause Within the Chaos, will channel this same exercise of dialogue with the earth as a daily practice of active prayer. The practice will follow three steps, which I’ve outlined below. 


    1. In-taking media: This project is orientated around finding new ways of working with taking in and digesting media. The daily ritual of listening to or reading the news will remain a crucial part of this process.
 
    2. Giving pause: Often I let incredibly dense news wash through me unconsciously. I realized that an important piece to keeping my own sanity is to create moments of pause after learning about something particularly maddening or upsetting.  Often it is only a few minutes, but those moments allow me to build the capacity in myself to hold this new information. I noticed that when I fall into the unconscious space of letting news hit me, while say I am preparing and/or eating food, that my body’s ability to even digest is limited. Giving pause is a part of how I integrate.  

    3. A breath & a prayer: From this place of pause, small earth prayers will then be made from natural materials like sticks, rocks and petals. The idea is not to illustrate the media but to find a way to work with creating a healthy cycle of inhalation and exhalation; Inhale media, exhale a tangible prayer of grace. While facing “the mounting violence in our time” I feel dedicated to finding a new response to that reminds me of my own humanity. 


Simplicity is key to this project. Like many of you, my life is full, and I am often looking for practices that can be easily incorporated into my routine. This project is also an invitation into a conversation with each of you. Perhaps you work with a practice that proves to be sufficient in holding space for the pain of the world, or maybe you are seeking one. Over the coming month, I would like to support a dialogue around what feels enriching, nourishing and soul- giving for you during these wild times. I am also curious how can we begin to become even more creative when thinking about ways to bridge our personal lives and the work of our lives. Your thoughts are eagerly welcomed as we continue to recognize and harness the power of our collective minds. 


In Deep Gratitude,
Kailea


Kailea Frederick is a First Nations woman dedicated to supporting individuals of all cultures in remembering their ties to the earth. Growing up off the grid in Maui, Hawai`i forever imprinted in her the importance of reciprocity through indigenous world - view. She feels raised by wild spaces and intimately tied to Honua, our island earth. 


She is a Spiritual Ecology Fellow, and has served as a youth delegate twice to the United Nations Climate Change conferences (COP). Her work on the front-lines of international climate justice has forever connected her to the lives of those most impacted by climate change and extractive based industry. These are the foundational pieces that fuel her as she observes the radical disconnect that most human beings experience from our only living habitat.
Currently she is developing an immersive curriculum titled, Earth Is `Ohana which explores the question "How do we practice returning home to our landscapes in order to regenerate our relationship with the earth?” Her artist-in-residency project, Pause Within the Chaos, aims to approach this question through artful prayer. You can learn more at EarthIsOhana.com. 

WITH, IN, FOR, THROUGH

WORDS & IMAGES: DORIEKE SCHREURS

Working with nature, in nature, for nature, and through nature has enriched my life, widened my perspective, left me in awe, and given me purpose. 


My latest painting is a tribute to this journey—a path taken, a perspective changed. A tribute to all that is green and good in this world! It is still a work in progress and far from finished, but I will give you a sneak preview at the creative process!

As you know by now, my work process is completely sustainable. This starts with the surface I choose for my work. For this painting, I used burlap because it is a sustainable material and biodegrades. The burlap needs to be glued and prepared with a gesso to create a surface ready to paint on. All of the materials I use for making glue and gesso are carefully chosen.


With this painting, I wanted to start with green from the very beginning! So I mixed in green pigments with the glue and later with the gesso. The result was a green canvas to start working with. I deliberately left some of the burlap exposed, wanting to show the material as is, appreciating and respecting the materials given to me by nature.

When it comes to creating my image, I often work on the idea for a long time, sketching it out in my mind. The process of drawing itself takes a long time but I don’t mind, because I know this part of the process is so very important! 


Once the drawing is complete, I start adding the first layer of paint. Working with paint made from natural pigments is a slow process—you have to add thin layer over thin layer to build up colours and depth.

I will be working on this painting whole summer and will be experimenting with changing colours with natural acids. This will (hopefully!) expand my range of greens. I will also be working outdoors a lot, because the sun will work with the acids. And because it is just so blissful and humbling to be working in nature! 

Working with nature, in nature, for nature, through nature…researching, discovering, failing and learning along the way. I love every part of it! For me, the best part of my work is not the end result, it is the process, the journey…