Heard on the Street and in the Forest | November 2020 Newsletter
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Dear Friends,

It has been a tumultuous time. So we thought we might share with you these simple truths that lift our spirits and warm our hearts.

–BJ and Lynne
We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.
–Benjamin Franklin
From the Street to Inform Us
Democracy: We The People

We did it! We made it through this election cycle and our democracy won. The voter turnout was greater than ever; and so many folks worked to ensure a free and fair election. We can rejoice and be proud. It feels GOOD!!!
 
We’re also tired. It has been a fierce, exhausting, and turbulent year: a global pandemic, uprisings, threats to our democracy, climate disruption, and more. Everyone is ready for a break. But, as one New York Times columnist recently wrote: “We can’t succumb to the temptation to vote for "X" just so we can all get back to brunch.” Our work is not over.
 
What did we learn? What comes next? What can we do?
In this season of giving thanks we can reflect, gather the lessons learned, and make our commitment to the future.
 
  • We must remain vigilant to those who would tear at the fabric of our democratic institutions, trying to sow doubt and distort the truth; and, respond as needed.
  • We can find ways to build trust and heal the divisions within our nation. This is not the first time that our people have been set against each other. We can listen to each other and identify our shared values, concerns, and dreams for the future.
  • This is a good time to recognize your own values, and determine what pressure you want to assert on this new administration to create a thriving, just, and democratic future for all.
  • Take a step back and consider: What issues are most important to me? Is it climate change? Democracy? Racism? Healing the divides of our nation? Something else?

How will you use your elder voice for the welfare of future generations? 
It’s 3:23 in the morning, and I’m awake...
because my great-great-grandchildren won’t let me sleep.
They ask me in dreams...
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
when democracy was stolen?
What did you do once you knew?

(Excerpts from Hieroglyphic Stairway, a poem by Drew Dellinger)

Last April, the disastrous Wisconsin primary caught our attention as citizens waited for hours, risking COVID exposure in order to vote. This was raw voter suppression – a threat to the very foundation of our democracy. Was voter suppression the strategy to win the overall 2020 national election? Unfortunately, yes.

Amidst the global pandemic, American voters faced disinformation, disrupted postal service, racist voting restrictions, and an underfunded election system. It became clear that without a collaborative, democratic government partner to realize our many social and environmental objectives, including climate legislation, we would just be spinning our wheels...we had to act.

In response, EAN launched the Elders Stand for Fair Elections (ESFE) campaign. Thirty of us began by organizing three committees to:
  • define state-specific voter suppression threats; 
  • identify potential partners to address these threats; and,
  • form the communications structure to manage our campaign.  

Our mission was to ensure that all those who were eligible could vote fairly and safely, and their votes would be duly counted.

The ESFE campaign succeeded beyond our expectations!
More than 300 elders joined our efforts using their experience and creativity to connect with thousands of others in assisted living facilities, faith-based congregations, colleges, food banks, and marginalized neighborhoods. We informed citizens how to register and then vote by mail or in person. We wrote public service announcements, containing voter information, were broadcast on 188 radio stations in 22 states.

Going forth, our plans are to expand ESFE into a “Sound Democracy” action group. We will use a similar process to identify the issues, our potential partners and the best structure for us to succeed. If this interests you, please contact: crystal@eldersaction.org

I have been SO impressed with the professionalism, creativity, commitment and 'get it done' attitude of this group. You are all the image of elderhood that I am seeking to connect with.” –An ESFE participant
Do Just One Thing...
Thanks to Melissa Ribner and Pam Nichols
Sustainability Team suggests:
Spider Weaving Webs of Life
If cobwebs in the corners of your window or room bug you, discourage spiders from taking up residence in your home by rubbing rosemary essential oil onto your windowpanes; which will also help nourish the wood.
Anti-Racism Team suggests:
The Racism of the U.S. Injustice System in 10 Charts
Do Black and white Americans experience the justice system differently? YES! as illustrated in this video from 2014. Has their experience improved in 2020? Here’s an answer to that question.

We should find some adhesive that brings and binds us together. –Karen Murphy
What's Happening Within EAN?
Elders Climate Action (ECA)
Winter Workshop Series
Climate Policy: You Can Change It
November 17, December 15, January 19

The ECA Education Committee will host these workshops to equip and inspire you to influence government and corporate climate policies in your community and also at state and federal levels.

Whether you are an experienced advocate for change or new to this important work, YOU have the power and ability to be influential. YOUR unique skills, built over a lifetime, are needed to create the future we want for our children and grandchildren. Whether you can commit just 30 minutes or 30 hours, your actions can produce change. Learn More & Register
Elder Activists for Social Justice (EASJ)
Curious Listening Initiative
Exhale the Election 
Thursday, November 19
9:00 – 10:30 am PT / 12:00 – 1:30 pm ET

An opportunity to listen and talk thoughtfully about the election results. How will Biden, Harris, and The People deal with the social justice issues we’re studying? What part can we play in the changes to come? Learn More & Register
Elder Listening Circles
Tuesdays: November 24, December 1 & 8
1:00 – 2:30 pm ET / 10:00 – 11:30 am PT

In our Listening Circles, we create a safe place to be heard and to listen deeply. There is no agenda or topic - rather, it's an opportunity to share what is on your heart about what is happening in the world. After this series of Listening Circles we will hold a workshop for those interested in learning to host a Listening Circle in their own community (date to be announced). Led by EAN members Anne Adams, Minx Boren, and Constance Washburn. Learn more & Register
Me and White Supremacy Workshop
Wednesdays: January 13 – February 17, 2021
12:00 – 2:00 pm ET / 9:00 – 11:00 am PT

Coming in January and February our Anti-Racism Team is offering
a study/reflection opportunity to combat racism using the book Me and White Supremacy, by Layla F. Saad. We will work through Saad’s book, in which she sets up an intensive 28-day challenge by posing questions to be addressed through journaling and community dialogue. Learn more & Register
From the Arts to Inspire Us
Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
–Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Art as Activism
An offering from EAN member Nancy Margulies, who writes:

"During the pandemic I focused on painting images with social significance. Masks Around the World is my play on the use of masks, and expresses my concern about how the U.S. has handled the pandemic, and is now leading the world in COVID infections and deaths."

Other artists, photographers or graphic designers are invited to share their “Art as Activism” images, by contacting Nancy at nancycreates@gmail.com.
From the Forest to Awaken Us
Remember, the Boston Tea Party?

"What does protest ever get us?" some folks have asked. "Rioting never solves anything." And others declared: "Marching and protesting are outdated and don’t work, if they ever did." But they do.

Protests as an act or resistance to oppression is a staple of American culture, the very founding of the United States is connected to protest. –YES! Magazine, Fall 2020
The Thanksgiving Address of the Haudenosaunee

As we approach this season of giving thanks, we want to especially remember and thank the Native People who cared for this country for countless generations.

The Thanksgiving Address of the Haudenosaunee (The Iroquois Confederacy – Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora), reflects their regular practice of giving thanks for life and the world around them. Beginning with all people and progressing to the Earth Mother, Grandmother Moon and Big Brother Sun, the prayer pays homage to everything that sustains us and keeps us going. It reminds us to take care of these things and by doing so we care for ourselves and for each other.

The People
Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people. Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.

In Parting...
Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you. –Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Silence becomes cowardice when the occasion demands that you speak out the whole truth and acting accordingly. –Mahatma Gandhi

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