April 2013: Home is Here

 

Hello good people!

And welcome spring! Maybe you noticed: it's been awhile since I've sent a newsletter. For those of you who follow my writing, I apologize for the long delay. The last seven months I have been in a sort of hibernation, learning the ropes and loving the challenge of my still-quite-new job leading a young non-profit; stoking the fire in the wood burning furnace that heated my new home in the woods all winter long; and growing a new child (Mairead Irene was born on January 19th, at home in a tub, assisted by my sister, my midwife, my husband, and my mother). I was inwardly focused on growth and expansion, and I gave myself the space to fall inward, without commentary.

And as the winter wore on, I felt that my emotional well being was quite literally tested by the weather. Several snows came during the month of April; and yes, that is strange even for Minnesota. I began to have an actual, quite irrational fear that spring would never come.

And then it arrived. Yesterday I walked barefoot between long dead leaves, new grass, and sponges of melting snow, learning the outdoor landscape of my new home, a place I have never been in the spring. We are discovering that our house is surrounded by a carpet of tulips and crocuses that are just beginning to peek through the dirt. We planted our first trees: White spruce, scotch pine, and chokeberry. Mairead had her first taste of full sun, and loved it. Siobhan and Finn ran around naked, covering themselves in mud, and working hard with their father and grandfather to hang a bat box in the tree near our pond to attract mosquito eaters. We are preparing our garden, eager to get our seedlings into the ground: they grow taller every day and begin to smell like tomatoes and peppers. 
 
Today I have that absolute sense of rebirth that I can only credit to having spent a winter so close to the land, and at the mercy of the physical climate. Surrounded by the silence of snow and dormant life, now the sounds of life return to our woods, and I truly feel them to be ours.

So I write to you now from a place of joyful understanding. I can feel myself in the balance, and always this is my experience after giving birth (I can really say "always" now, since it has been true three times). After giving birth, I become keenly aware of my own death and the future deaths of everyone I love, but I am less and less cowed by it. Death is just what is, in the same way that life is just what is. Life is painful and immeasurably sad, and then it is pleasure, release, the taste of boundlessness. Life is fear and not knowing, and then it is sudden immediate knowing. Life is hard. And then it's not. 

What I am feeling now can only be expressed as gratitude, though there is something deeper too. Something this army brat has only ever felt hints of before, but is coming closer each day to knowing: an actual place called home. Home for me has always been migrating. Home is where my family is, or home is where I've lived the longest. But for home to be an actual place, a piece of land with it's own memory - that is a kind of magic I have never experienced. So here it is. My home, all around me. Home is here
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In this edition of Iambrown:
  • Seeds of Change: Share the Good (Everywhere)
  • Prelude: A slow foods dinner and silent auction to benefit the Central MN Sustainability Project (St. Cloud, MN)
  • Register now for the Allied Media Conference (Detroit, MI)
  • Radical Responsibility and Awakened Leadership (St. Paul, MN)
If you have trouble viewing this information in email format, visit my website www.iambrown.org.
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Seeds of Change: Share the Good
 
The Central MN Sustainability Project (CMSP) is competing for the chance to win a $25,000 grant, or one of 15 $10,000 grants from Seeds of Change (the organic seed distribution company). You can help us win by voting for us via FaceBook each day from now until May 17th!
 
CMSP develops community gardens and market gardens that create access to land for communities that would otherwise not have access. Through this work, we build community across culture and class barriers, and help to grow a local food economy that lifts up the wisdom and expertise of all members of our community. A grant from Seeds of Change would support the transformative education we are doing on sustainable gardening practices and food sovereignty in our flagship community garden at Maine Prairie, where we partner with African immigrants and refugees.
 
Visit our page and vote today... And then come back and vote each day until May 17th. It takes one click, and it could make a world of difference in our community. If you have trouble opening the link, go to FaceBook and search "Seeds of Change Share the Good" and input the zip code 56302.
 
Thanks for your support!
 
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Prelude: A slow foods dinner and silent auction to benefit the Central MN Sustainability Project
 
Thursday, May 2
6:30-9:00pm 
Nick's Third Floor at DB Searles
Tickets are $75 each. Limited seating available, so order now.

Join us on Thursday, May 2 at Nick's Third Floor for a slow foods dinner and silent auction. Featuring Loose in the Tooth, St. Cloud's premier bluegrass duo, our benefit event is sure to awaken your spirit to the sounds, sights and tastes of spring. 
 
All proceeds will be used to support community garden education and infrastructure, including a new watering system for Maine Prairie Garden. A portion of your ticket is tax deductible. Additionally, the Otto Bremer Foundation will match any money we raise dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000! Let's make it a night to remember!   
 
If you cannot make it Thursday but you would like to support our gardens, visit the Give page of our website. 
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Register NOW for the 15th Annual Allied Media Conference
 
This year's Allied Media Conference will take place June 20-23 in Detroit, MI. The Allied Media Conference is one of the most inspiring and transformative gatherings I have the privilege to attend every year, particularly because it brings together a true diversity of communities who are impacted by injustice, and who are using media in innovative ways to organize and transform their communities. I will be there presenting on parenting and science fiction, and attending the Healing Justice Network Gathering and Practice Space. 
 
Check out amc.alliedmedia.org to learn more about the communities and networks that come together to generate new models for transformative community organizing every year. And register here if you plan to attend.
 
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Radical Responsibility and Awakened Leadership
Community Practices for Enlightened Society
 
October 17-19 2013
Clouds in Water Zen Center
St. Paul, MN
 
with guest teacher Fleet Maull
 
This workshop has been approved both  the Minnesota Board of Psychology the State of Minnesota Board of Social Work for 16 CEU’s each.

In this intensive, experiential workshop, participants will be introduced to an integrated set of transformative communication, leadership and community building skills and practices while cultivating greater personal resilience, empathy, compassion and emotional & social intelligence.  The training will include mindfulness-awareness meditation instruction and practice, experiential exercises, coaching and small group discussions.
 
This weekend is ideally suited for those working in the pubic sphere: government, business and non-profit leaders, teachers, social service professionals, therapists, ministers and any other organizational change agents. Participants will train in a variety of mindfulness and awareness meditation practices: presencing, emotional literacy, emotional regulation, state shifting, self-resourcing, deep listening, the basics of motivational interviewing, giving and receiving feedback – ultimately learning better ways to engage effectively with the various challenges we face in our daily lives
 
$200 - register by June 3 for only $160
*$50 non-refundable deposit
 
Learn more Here.