Life seems to be all about evolution and revolution! This last week I had the most amazing unexpected experience! I had the opportunity to attend a National LGBTQ “Creating Change Conference” in Chicago. I am not sure what I expected, but I had no idea that it would stop me in my tracks – and heighten my awareness to the extent that it did. I was more then inspired and impressed by the young leaders who spoke so brilliantly about the struggles against injustices against all people who identified as LGBTQ but in particular Trans-Sexual Women of Color who have been constant victims of police brutality and have also been at the fore-front of the the Black Lives Matter movement. I was both educated and impressed by both the young leaders and the long-time activists who have stood by their commitment to not stop fighting the HIV and AIDS epidemic until it was over; And excited to learn about the advances in both the treatment and prevention of the HIV virus. I also learned that young people have moved beyond the “gay or straight identities” and are now able to support each other to identify beyond the binary labels of male and female and what these labels have stood for. I believe this is an important and worthy cause which can result in giving each person the dignity to define themselves as they choose and not be pushed into a label which keeps them oppressed. With that said, Earth Connection hopes to honor the progress and struggles of these movements along with the Black Lives Matter movement and any struggles that promote equity and freedom to all people. Check out these speakers for some more inspiration!
If you have ever attended a Camp, a Retreat or any other Event where you have interacted with myself or Camp Earth Connection staff, then hopefully you know that Diversity; We offer Acceptance; and We create Community! It’s all about respect. Before each program – whether it be a children’s camp, a retreat, a workshop, or even if you are camping at our campground you will be engaged at some point in a conversation about respect. We talk about what needs to happen so that each individual can feel safe enough to be their authentic self. We listen to each other. Each time we do this it is a little different, because we are a little different each time! Not sure what that looks like? Check below is a “real life example ” which the Healing Hearts Winter Retreat Group came up with and agreed to have me share with you.
“Living and Working in Peace Agreement. January 1, 2016”
Women spoke up about what they needed: To feel safe; To be able to participate and To be their most authentic self. This is what they said and what we agreed upon.
- I need good, clean, healthy food
- I need to be able to abstain when I choose to (abstain from comment or participation in any activity)
- I don’t want to be judged by the expression on my face
- Allow me the space to improve; I may be intense; Remember, I am a work in progress
- I want to be able to share my concerns with intensity if I choose
- I want to have real conversations; conversation sparks; constructive talk
- I don’t want to be afraid to discuss issues having to do with power
- Let’s make room for dialogue, even in sensitive issues/areas
- Let’s make room for openness, passion, and social justice issues
- Remember confidentiality, don’t share others stories.
- I love/need hugs. Hugs are welcome
- Make no assumptions
- I can leave the room for a moment as needed
- Even if you already know the answer, hesitate – pause – give others a chance to answer
- Enjoy the process of unraveling the mystery of each individual
- I want to be free to ask questions
- I want forgiveness for my flaws or imperfections
Onward to new experiences and new connections in 2016.
In Peace and Gratitude,