right relations

credit: Lisa Mackie

I’ve been having lots of conversations lately about what being in right relationship looks like: what accountability is and isn’t, what being in community means. I believe we all must be responsible for for our actions as well as our inactions, answering not only to ourselves, and others, but to all our relations, the earth, other living beings we share the earth with, ancestors, and future generations. One of the guidelines I use in my workshops carries over into the rest of my life: honor the intention, own the impact.

Good intentions aren’t enough. Good intentions have never been enough, not in terms of interpersonal relationships, not in terms of political action. Recognizing how those intentions translate into action and what the consequences of those actions (or inactions) are, is essential to creating relationships of balance, care and trust. It’s painful, difficult work acknowledging harm we’ve caused and ways we’ve failed, but we all have been harmed and we all cause harm, why pretend otherwise? Naming this not as an opportunity for judgement or blame, but in an effort to turn toward the difficult. Being present with the many varieties of suffering without turning away.

Acknowledging the widespread suffering in the world in this time, I endeavor to alleviate what suffering I can by cultivating my own practices of mindfulness, compassion and equanimity and living my own commitment to be of service when and where I am able. I find that action is a practical remedy for overwhelm and despair. I hope that my choices and actions are impactful in beneficial ways for all involved.

Sharing here some resources from Buddhist Action Coalition (adapted from Upaya Zen Center) that offer opportunities to demonstrate care and compassion, make efforts to restore balance, bring us back into harmony. Knowing that all of our struggles are connected, here are some things we can do right now around immigration:

1. Educate ourselves and our communities
Learn about the root causes of migration and displacement from Central America and Southern Mexico (hint: 90% crop failure in parts of Central America due to climate change, destabilized governments). Learn about the US immigration system: DHS, ICE, CBP, and how the mismanagement of these organizations is causing chaos. Here’s a great article to begin: “Just Keep Going North

2. Donate to community bail funds
Reunite detained parents with their children by helping post their bail: Fronterizx Fianza Fund and National Bail Fund Network.

3. Volunteer and support immigrant organizations and organizations advocating for and/or providing legal services to asylum seekers
New Sanctuary Coalition
New York Immigration Coalition
Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center
Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services
Immigrant Families Together
Al Otro Lado

4. Call your Congressperson!
Call your Congressperson and tell them to defund, to not vote for additional funding for DHS and ICE (or ask them to abolish DHS). This ACLU page will route you directly to your congressperson and includes a script.

5. Donate to organizations providing emergency aid (food and water!) to refugees
South Texas Human Rights Center
Team Brownsville: Humanitarian Assistance for Asylum Seekers (Texas)
Colores United-Refugee Shelter (Deming, New Mexico)
No Más Muertes (Arizona)
International Rescue Committee

6. Know your rights
Everyone in the US, regardless of immigration status, has certain rights and protections under the US Constitution. These ready-to-print cards (in different languages) help people assert their rights and defend themselves in many situations, such as when ICE agents go to a home. Please share these cards widely.

liberation not equality

It’s pride month again and with it, lots of celebration, some grieving, and corporate exploitation/rainbow capitalism – the usual. This year marks Stonewall 50 with people descending on NYC from all corners to mark the occasion of World Pride.

World Pride NYC / Stonewall 50 promises to be the city’s biggest pride yet – more cops, more barricades, more corporate sponsors! If that’s your thing, enjoy it from noon on Sunday June 30 at 26th Street & 5th Avenue in NYC.

I’ll be somewhere along the route of the alternative march. Reclaim Pride Coalition‘s put together a queer liberation march that retraces the original route from the Christopher Street Liberation Day March of 1970 from Sheridan Square up 6th Avenue with a stop in Bryant Park culminating in Central Park. Route details and information about volunteering available here.

My friend Bill Dobbs (who’s being honored by the National Lawyers Guild next week) told me about video from one of the early marches. Here’s some footage from Gay Pride 1971 in Central Park. (I like the moment – around 5:49 – when a white woman realizes she might be a little uptight. lol.)

Happy Pride. May all beings be happy, safe & free.

Here is Reclaim Pride’s Why We March:

We March in our communities’ tradition of resistance
against police, state, and societal oppression,
a tradition that is epitomized and symbolized by the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion.

We March against the exploitation of our communities for profit
and against corporate and state pinkwashing, as displayed in Pride celebrations worldwide, including the NYC Pride Parade.

We March in opposition to transphobia, homophobia, biphobia,
racism, sexism, xenophobia, bigotry based on religious affiliation, classism, ableism, audism, ageism, all other forms of oppression,
and the violence that accompanies them in the U.S. and globally.

We March for an end to individual and institutional expressions of hate and violence
as well as government policies that deny us our rights and our very lives,
from the NYPD to ICE, from the prison industrial complex to state repression worldwide.

We March to oppose efforts that deny our communities’ rights
and that brutally erase queer people worldwide.

We March against domestic and global neoliberalism and the ascendance of the far right,
against poverty and economic inequality, against U.S. military aggression,
and against the threat that is climate change.

We March to affirm that healthcare is a right,
including treatment for all people with HIV/AIDS worldwide and intensive prevention efforts,
and to demand an end to HIV stigma and criminalization.

We are trans, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, intersex, asexual, two-spirit,
non-binary, gender non-conforming + and allies.

We March to celebrate our communities and history,
in solidarity with other oppressed groups,
and to demand social and economic justice worldwide—we March for Liberation!

retreat? more like attack

After training at University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness in April, I’m now a qualified MBSR teacher. I’ve had the great good fortune to spend time since then on silent retreat, allowing me space and time to reflect and absorb.

I attended Insight Meditation Community of Washington‘s week-long Intimacy with Life retreat with Tara Brach, La Sarmiento, Kate Johnson and Jonathan Foust. When we broke silence at the end of the week, one of the participants shared that the week had felt more like an attack than a retreat. Silence can really feel like that, total attack. It can also be a space for bliss, for anything. Spaciousness can hold everything.

I’m only home for another week or so before I’m off to Barre, Massachusetts for the PoC Retreat at Insight Meditation Center. I’m VERY EXCITED about this opportunity to sit a whole retreat in community with friends and family. Less attack maybe, more retreat.

QTPOC Meditation 4/26

Awaken into spring!

On Friday April 26th from 7-9 pm at the Interdependence Project, 28 West 27th Street #704 Ashleigh Eubanks & I will be guiding a meditation and mindful movement practice for QTPOC. Join us!

This event is hosted collaboratively by NYCPOC Healing Circle and Rest for Resistance. The space is wheelchair-accessible, but the bathrooms are not.

your guides, Betsy & Ashleigh

Community Care Day 1/18/19

Audre Lorde

Join me at The Audre Lorde Project’s Community Care Day at The People’s Forum 320 W. 37th St, New York, NY 10018 this Friday January 18th from 6-9 pm.

Event info from ALP:

Community Care Day is an evening event where we are inviting folks to join us in deepening our collective community care. We will build together by sharing food, getting to know each other and sharing care and healing strategies. 

Join the 3rd Space Program! We will be offering workshops that will teach you different ways to care for yourself and others, get some healing from our body and energy work practitioners and get some grub, community, laughter and love! 

Sharing space is healing, holding space for each other and having a place to go to where you can be your full self and uplifted is what we are creating – join us at Community Care Day – resilience happens through collective action, recognition and love. Come learn and share skills and resources, eat some food, make some art, and generate joy.

This is a time to be still, be loving, be cared for and caring. Resilience requires community Come to ALP’s Community Care Day! This event is by and for Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming folks who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color. 

The 3rd Space Program is made up of community members who identify and are invested in sustainable care for our people that is centered in a deep, loving and radical sense of community, that moves away from the isolation and disposability that medical institutions and capitalism impose on us and instead uplifts and creates the strategies within us and from our lineage that have kept us thriving and resilient as black and indigenous, people of color, queer, trans and gender non-conforming folx.

The Sanctuary Caravan

The New Sanctuary Coalition is offering intensive trainings tomorrow, December 1, both in person in New York City and via livestream to support the Sanctuary Caravan.

From the Sanctuary Caravan,
“We regard this Exodus and the Caravan we are building to meet the Exodus as an act of nonviolent resistance against morally abhorrent laws which infringe upon the rights of human beings to better the lives of their children and families.

We believe the imprisonment, deportation and mistreatment of people, because of where they were born, to be the greatest moral crisis of our time.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence of Mexican and U.S. authorities waged and threatened against this movement of people engaged in self-liberation.

The violence they are fleeing has been inherited from U.S. imperialism, and the political pressure the U.S. places upon Mexico to treat the Exodus with violence constitutes colonialism.

Restrictions on migration have ruined and ended too many lives.

Borders are used as weapons of mass destruction. Their brutality escalates, not only because brutal force control the law, but because not enough good people resist them.”

Join us, even if you’re not able to travel to the border.  For details and to RSVP, visit: https://www.sanctuarycaravan.org/upcoming_events.

instinct for cooperation

I’m so excited to see the library immortalized in The Instinct for Cooperation: A graphic novel conversation with Noam Chomsky & Jeffrey Wilson, just out from Seven Stories Press. Illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia.

Jamie & Zachary are featured in one of the chapters about the library – they were heroes to me before, but now, illustrated, even more so!

“Incidentally the power structures were very worried about the library.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

half-day meditation retreat 5/6/18

Leslie Joren Wagner & I will be co-leading a Half-day Meditation Retreat at The Interdependence Project on Sunday May 6th from 9 am – 1 pm.

Designed for new meditators, people who want to sit for a longer period of time without attending a full retreat, and more experienced meditators who want an opportunity to cultivate their practice, the day will alternate between periods of sitting and walking meditation. All are welcome.

The Interdependence Project is located at 28 W. 27th Street, Suite 704, New York City.
The venue is accessible by elevator, but the bathrooms are not accessible by wheelchair.

Details and registration available here: http://theidproject.org/events/2018/05/06/half-day-meditation-retreat

so much love

I’m so grateful for everyone who came out on Friday to create such an amazing space of healing and community.

There was a lot of excitement about future offerings. We’ll be sending information directly to everyone who signed up for our list, you can also follow NYC POC Healing Circle on Instagram @nycpochealingcircle and on Facebook.

Deepest thanks to the anonymous benefactor who generously offered us use of such a beautiful space.