Spirit In Action

Change IS coming. WE can make it GOOD.

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Veterans Open Mike This Sunday in Tampa, Florida

I know this is a relatively small local event, but I want to share in case anyone is local and interested. Also because I am so inspired by this project and I think it would be wonderful if people in other places-even other countries-created something similar.

War is a horrible thing, it leaves scars both visible and invisible. I feel that these kind of supportive community based events can be a catalyst for both healing and building stronger community connections.

Governments tend to use soldiers as disposable commodities-forgetting about their needs as soon as they are no longer useful. But veterans are our loved ones, our classmates, friends and family. They are not disposable!

I think too that non-soldier survivors of war and conflict can also benefit from this sort of supportive and creative outlet for emotion and healing.

So if you live nowhere near Tampa, consider creating something like this in your hometown. All you need is a coffeehouse-or anywhere people can comfortably gather and a bit of determination:-)

If you don’t do Facebook, Meetup.com is also useful for creating public events.

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

The monthly VETERANS & Community Open Mic is this Sunday, September 7th @ Sacred Grounds Coffee House!

We’re very excited to offer a FREE Creative Writing Workshop just before the event, facilitated by local Slam poet, Dennis Amadeus! Open to all veterans, family members, caregivers, friends, local artists & community members who want to support veterans’ voices. Whether you’re interested in learning new skills for self-expression, or looking to break writer’s block, or working on lifting a piece from the page to the stage, this workshop is for you! No admission, just one drink minimum (coffee/tea/smoothie/etc). Come explore your creativity, and stay for the Open Mic!

5-6:15 PM FREE Creative Writing Workshop

6:30-9 PM Veterans & Community OpenMic

Also, this week’s Open Mic will feature aSPECIAL GUEST ARTIST, musician & singer Aida Shahghasemi! She’s incredible, you definitely don’t want to miss Aida … Hope you can join us!

Please help us spread the word … Flyer attached – please forward & post! Here’s the FB event page (join for updates & invite friends!):


Hope to see you at Sacred Grounds Coffee House this Sunday!

In Solidarity,



Andrea Assaf

Artistic Director

Art2Action Inc.




Read more about “Creative Arts Reintegration” with The Carpetbag Theatre, the PRRC “Voices of Recovery” Veterans Drama Troupe, and Art2Action @ http://art2action.org/veterans-in-tampa

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Sanford, Florida-Party Like It’s 1975!

I understand how our legal system works. I know that because we do have a jury system that prevailing racial and cultural attitudes that are fundamentally wrong can influence an outcome such as we have just seen. I understand that this means we have more work to do before our country can actually be amything resembling free or fair.

But the bottom line is this acquittal means that some of us are considered expendable. Some of us are considered less valuable, less human, less safe than others.

Tonight Mothers like mine with sons whose skin is not light enough, Mothers whose children walk on streets in southern cities and small towns where racism is the standard, where their children are assumed to be criminals and animals; these Mothers will have to live with a state of stress and fear that no one should have to live with.

Like Mothers in Palestine, in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places of war and violence, they will go about their lives quietly as they have. They will do what needs to be done, get up, go to work, make sure the children have what they need.

But their spirits will be shredded that much more, their hearts that much heavier. Knowing each time they see their child walk out the door could be the last time they see that child alive.

Not as every parent inherently knows it, but with a terrifying awareness that their child is a TARGET. That they live where men with guns can use them with impunity, that their child can be stalked, followed, harrassed and harmed-and that if that child intinctively defends him or herself they will be resigning their inherent right to life.

White privilege is the wonderful comfort of NOT ever having to think of this. To be be able to dismiss this essay, this awareness, these emotions as ridiculous or self serving or whatever knee jerk catchall phrase the racists and their (often unwitting) supporters in society are using this week to demean those of us who believe that every single person has the same value, that no one can be assumed to be criminal, a problem, just because of their skin, their clothes, or their neighborhood.

A good friend of mine has a sibling who lived in Sanford. When my friend, who is indigenous, went to visit their sibling the sibling was very worried that my friend would walk around freely at night in Sanford and not understand how dangerous it was. That my friend would not understand the rules were different, that in that place my friend did not have the freedom we take for granted in St Petersburg to walk where we want, to run if we feel like it, to ignore assholes and idiots who scold us for where we are walking.

At the time of this visit my friend came back and told me about the sibling’s worry and lectures and it was kind of humorous how ridiculous and throwback the sibling’s gated community and podunk hick Florida town was.

It is not so funny to me anymore.

What this trial has shown us is not that Zimmerman is not a racist-only that he is not any MORE of a racist than his neighbors-than a “jury of his peers”.

It has shown us that in Florida, the right of a white person to be a damn fool with a gun is sacrosanct.

Even tho in a very similar case in Tampa recently a black man in a similar situation-a licensed gun carrier who stupidly brough his gun and created a pointless confrontation that resulted in a young father’s death-was sent to prison.

At the time, that man thought and stated that due to similar cases where white men were exonerated for taking actions similar to his he too should have gone free.

I don’t think so.

I think all idiots whose ridiculous, self centered, and poorly thought out choices result in someone else’s death should go to jail. It is not in my opinion, racist that the black idiot goes to jail but that the white idiot does not. In both cases an innocent person is dead. In both cases that is WRONG.

We have now seen unfortunately that no matter how wrong it is, it is not illegal.

This sets a precedent-whether or not it does so legally, it certainly does so culturally, in the media, in the minds of people who will now choose to carry their guns and take stupid actions that result in harm to others pointlessly, simply because they now KNOW they CAN.

What my friend found not humorous, but deeply disturbing about the visit to Sanford a few years ago was that the non-white residents were so afraid that their behaviour was confusing to us. It was just like the behaviour I was used to in the small agricultural town I grew up in back in the 1970’s.

Black folks took insults, nasty behaviour and demeaning behaviour from white folks without question. They behaved subserviently, fearfully and controlled where they walked, what they said-even what clothes they wore. They even prevented my friend from responding to rudeness normally-seeming very afraid of what might happen.

In the 70’s we knew why this was, and we were actively fighting it. (Our “uppityness” resulted in threats of a late night visit from the local Klan chapter that strangely never materialized after we assured them we would enjoy the ease of targeting created by their white sheets)

My friend and I could not understand why the people in that area of Florida behaved that way in what we thought was the modern, more progressive 2000’s.

Now we know. Trayvon was a city kid like us. He didn’t know any better than to fight back when some “creepy ass cracker” followed and attacked him.

To me this is not theoretical-had my friend been accosted the result could very easily have been the same.

I have a cold, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. How can 40 years have passed and nothing has changed?


The Hummingbirds Are Coming. Early! (Serenity Spell)

This post is especially for my Mom, who loves hummingbirds;-) This is a reblog from one of my favourite blogs, Serenity Spell-(even tho it appears as a post thanks to dialup refusing to LOAD the “reblog” button;-/ )

So please forgive the abnormal way of reblogging, and be sure to click the link and check out both this post and the rest of Serenity Spell-if you love nature, beauty and learning new things there is absolutely no way you won’t love Serenity Spell;-)

The Hummingbirds Are Coming Early!

by FeyGirl

Last night at our local wetlands, I ran into a friend who mentioned seeing a ruby-throated hummingbird in his yard a bit early! And this morning, Michelle from Rambling Woods posted on the topic. Since they’ve hit the Gulf Coast states a wee bit ahead of their migratory schedule, let’s help them REFUEL on their non-stop 500-mile journey!

I’ll be getting the feeder ready for these lovely guys ASAP habitat loss and destruction are the hummingbirds main threats today, but changing temperatures are also affecting their migratory patterns, making it harder for them to find food.

Learn more at Annenberg’s “Journey North” website track the hummingbirds, learn how to help, and take a peek at the updated migration maps!

Sparkling violet ear hummingbird, Butterfly World, FL

Sparkling violet ear hummingbird: Not in my yard, but at Butterfly World, the largest free-flight hummingbird aviary in the US. A most amazing, beautiful, and fairy-like place!

Fun and Fascinating Facts About Hummingbirds:

  • Hummingbirds are the second largest family of birds, with more than 325 species
  • Early Spanish explorers called hummingbirds Flying Jewels
  • Hummingbirds are found only in North and South America
  • Its the smallest bird and the smallest of all animals with a backbone
  • Despite their diminutive size, hummingbirds are aggressive and territorial, regularly attacking jays, crows and hawks
  • Hummingbirds have the largest brain of all birds 4.2% of its total body weight
  • Many hummingbirds die during the first year, but those that do survive have an average lifespan of 3-4 years. The longest-living hummingbird was a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird that was estimated at 12 years
  • Hummingbirds have very weak feet they cannot walk or hop, using them mainly for perching
  • Hummingbirds have great eyesight able to see ultraviolet light, even but have no sense of smell
  • The structure of hummingbirds lovely iridescent feathers amplifies certain wavelengths of light, reflecting them directly in front of the bird
  • Most of a hummingbirds weight is in its pectoral muscles 25-30% reside in their muscles responsible for flight
  • The average flight speed of a hummingbird is 20-30 miles per hour, though the birds can reach up to 60 mph in a courtship dive
  • They can beat their wings between 50-200 flaps per second, depending on flight patterns and wind conditions
  • The hummingbird can rotate its wings in a circle, making it the only bird that can fly forwards, backwards, up, down, sideways, and hover mid-air
  • Their heart beats at up to 1,260 beats per minute
  • A resting hummingbird takes an average of 250 breaths per minute
  • Hummingbirds must consume approximately half of their weight in sugar daily, feeding 5-8 times per hour. Much of the sugar they consume comes from flower nectar and tree sap, but they also eat insects and pollen to get their protein
  • A hummingbird uses its long, grooved tongue to lap up nectar from flowers and feeders
  • To conserve energy while sleeping or during food scarcity hummingbirds can go into a hibernation-like state (torpor), where their metabolic rate is slowed to 1/15th of normal sleep. If theyre already weakened, they may not wake from this torpor
  • During their spring and fall migrations, the ruby-throated hummingbird makes a non-stop 500-mile-flight across the Gulf of Mexico
  • The longest migration of any hummingbird species is that of the rufous hummingbird they travel more than 3,000 miles from their nesting grounds in Alaska and Canada to winter habitats in Mexico
  • Historically hummingbirds were killed for their feathers. But today, habitat loss and destruction are the hummingbirds main threats; changing temperatures are also affecting hummingbird migratory patterns, making it harder for them to find food
  • An increase in backyard gardens hummingbird feeders allows these birds to refuel during their long migratory journeys YAY!

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The Eyes Have It

Serenity Spell

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. ―Martin Buber

In preparation of an upcoming post on Black-crowned Night Herons, and in honor of Halloween, I give you the lovely and brilliant red and orange glowing pumpkin stares of these lovely wetland waders. I’m always captivated by birds’ eyes, but some are especially striking….


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