radical is the new sensible . . .

Cultivating vegetables and democracy – a letter from Rivera Sun

Dear Friends,

Rivera Sun at home in the earthship house. Photo by Nova Ami

Rivera Sun at home in the earthship house. Photo by Nova Ami

Certain things fall by the wayside while the squash and weeds proliferate and our US tax dollars go to work bombing children in foreign countries. Updating my website and sending out newsletters lose significance as the power mongers maneuver for a stronger stranglehold on our lives. Yet, the crises grow into constants, and I move from weeds to harlequin bugs to flea beetles to the army of ants currently invading the chimney of the Earthship here in New Mexico. With a twinge of conscience over my garden and household genocides, I attend demonstrations against violence and war, and take part in organizing calls to address the abysmal state of democracy in the United States.

Rivera Sun carrying the giant Dolores Huerta puppet in Love-In-Action's Activists, Whistleblowers, and Muckrakers procession. Puppet built by Jeanne Green and Marilyn Hoff. Photo by Dariel Garner

Rivera Sun carrying the giant Dolores Huerta puppet. Photo by Dariel Garner

In the mornings, before the world stirs crazily, I meditate and write. After months of scrawling my pencil across the reused drafts of The Dandelion Insurrection, a six inch stack of words pulses beside me . . . the next novel is growing as surely as the round green squashes. I have many of you to thank for this miracle of our interconnection. Your words, online posts, articles, and comments have all nurtured this novel with insight and creativity. The story tackles some serious socio-political issues, such as income inequality, extreme wealth in times of widespread poverty, the history of conquest . . . and in case that wasn’t enough, the novel also explores the nature of reality and our relationship to it.

I will leave you licking your lips in anticipation . . . the novel will come in the fall, toward the end of the harvest season, just in time for the snowfalls and winter rains, fires, warm quilts, and short daylight hours.

Love-In-Action Taos and CodePink Taos worked together on the Activist, Whistleblowers, and Muckrakers procession that won "Most Patriotic" in the Arroyo Seco 4th of July Parade. Photo by Dariel Garner

“Most Patriotic” in the 4th of July Parade. Photo by Dariel Garner

Writing is interspersed with our Love-In-Action Network adventures. Last year, a trio of us formed a set of locally organized, autonomous, interconnected, nonviolent struggle study and action groups. It’s quite a mouthful to describe friends sitting in a circle with cookies, tea, Gene Sharp’s writings, and the lyrics to the old protest songs. It seems mundane, yet our local Taos Love-In-Action group has organized over thirty events since March, and has six more planned before the end of September.

Gandhi used to call his endeavors experiments in truth. Love-In-Action is an experiment in self-organizing. Generally, activists organize around a single issue. Love-In-Action organizes around studying nonviolent action. We participate in parades, vigils, demonstrations, public comments, protests, etc. as a way of putting our study into practice. Love-In-Action members voluntarily join into actions they support, and if they don’t support that issue, they turn their attention and energies elsewhere. With the recent attacks on Palestine, some members organized peace vigils while others refrained from participating. In theory (though we have never tested it yet), Love-In-Action Taos could stage a peace protest and a counter-protest on the same issue.

Love-In-Action Taos took our March Against Monsanto inside the grocery stores and into some very interesting conversations. Photo by Dariel Garner

Love-In-Action Taos during March Against Monsanto May 2014. Photo by Dariel Garner

This model is not just practical (though we have avoided long arguments over what issues to endorse or condemn), it is also a living model of a democratic society. Citizens are empowered with the tools of nonviolent action, and they also learn respect for diverse community along with the practices of discourse, dialogue, and listening that are so essential for functional democracy. Each of us discovers how to work with one another on common ground while respectfully disagreeing on other issues.

The Taos Love-In-Action group began with literal common ground: local agriculture. In listing the enormous set of problems our society (both national and local) faces, we came to the understanding that local agriculture sits in the center of creating a stronger local community, protecting water rights, ending hunger, easing poverty, and maintaining food security in a high desert region. Three quarters of our group is actively cultivating vegetables – everything from a porch garden to a one-acre plot in a traditional farming valley. Field reports during our Monday night Love-In-Action gatherings literally cover the state of the kale and the most recent public demonstration.

Peter Harris and Rivera Sun listen to the sound of the acequia (irrigation ditch) flowing sweetly toward Peter's field. Photo by Dariel Garner

Peter Harris and Rivera Sun listen to the sound of the acequia (irrigation ditch). Photo by Dariel Garner

I invite you to form a local Love-In-Action group with your friends, family, or neighbors. As many of you know, I grew up in a farming family. If we are to grow anything – potatoes or democracy – we must tend our soil and plant the seeds of change. Nonviolent action has proven to be a democratizing force, taking power from elites and dispersing it amongst the people. As you can see from the photos, our experiment in self-organizing has been rewarding, colorful, and joyful. Each gathering or action has been infused with great creativity and generosity of spirit . . . in a manner that has been very reminiscent of The Dandelion Insurrection.

With that, I bid you adieu. The lettuce is threatening to bolt faster than the rabbit I chased out last night.

With love,

Rivera

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