Happy Independence Day

Yes, I’m aware that it’s not July 4. August 15, 2017 happens to be the 70th anniversary of the day a different country broke away as politically independent of England: India.

A Unique Independence

Few things inspire more passion, more violence, than the struggle for freedom. Political independence always requires a fight of some kind, but on August 14th and 15th, 1947 the world learned that the fight doesn’t require violence. While the independence movement in India and Pakistan was not entirely bloodless, ultimately England agreed to let them go peacefully. This peaceful independence was unique and influential, and owes much to Gandhi and his philosophy of Satyagraha.


People often use words like “civil disobedience” or “nonviolence” to describe Gandhi’s approach, but Gandhi himself preferred the term satyagraha. This term was coined specifically for India’s independence movement, and as Gandhi explained, “truth (satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement Satyagraha, that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence.” In crafting as well as interpreting the word, Gandhi took care to keep force central to satyagraha and his nonviolent approach.

Many interpreted nonviolence as weakness, but the satyagraha Gandhi practiced and preached not only requires but also grants great force. After all, the practitioners of satyagraha (called satyagrahi) were faced with misunderstandings, anger, and hatred from within and without, which are circumstances that make holding firmly to truth and love very difficult. Ultimately however the force each individual put into the movement created a collective force that proved strong enough to overthrow imperialism.

Be Victorious

Using satyagraha to overthrow a government drastically changes the word overthrow because it usually implies violence. With satyagraha however, the aim is not to defeat through physical force, but rather through voluntary conversion; as the Encyclopedia Britannica puts it, “in the end, there is neither defeat nor victory but rather a new harmony.” The harmony that Gandhi sought for his country is made obvious by the fact that he didn’t focus simply on the single issue of political independence from Britain but also worked for equal rights for all within Indian society.


Even as we celebrate India and Pakistan’s independence and the crumbling of imperialism, we still deal with the reverberations of our ancestors’ actions.

Bigotry and hatred are all around us. A simple call to nonviolence is inadequate, but I for one am going to study further Gandhi’s concept of Satyagraha. A simplified version of Gandhi’s nonviolent approach can and has been used to silence marginalized people, but anybody who espouses Satyagraha needs to know that this kind of nonviolence comes from an honest examination of what the truth truly is.

One of the more common Gandhi quotes is a call to “be the change you wish to see in the world,” and so I am starting with myself. Just like every one of you reading this, I have unconscious biases to unlearn, and I have listening to do. Because I want to hold firmly to the truth; I want to help create that new harmony where a greater truth and justice is understood by society at large.


Becoming Captain Kirk


What Dragon Boating Taught Me About Leadership


I don’t know about ducks, but at least I’ve got my dragons in a row.

Leadership is terrifying, but it’s important to face ones fears because it is through challenges that we grow. And so in an effort to face my fears, I was learning the ropes so I could be stand-in Captain on the Tuesday after Easter.

Well also it has to do with the whole broken back issue. I cannot paddle yet. Will not be able to until very near the end of the season I expect. I thought I’d try tilling this year, but it turns out the till is quite a bit heavier than I expected it to be, and overall I was only barely able to control the boat. It was agreed after that that I really shouldn’t till. And if I can’t till and I can’t paddle, then the only place left for me is at the front of the boat. But I’m still so new to dragon boating! This is only my second season, what if I don’t remember enough of the things to say? What if I mess up!

Well I messed up. And guess what? Nobody was mad. It was a simple enough mistake really, I didn’t cause any permanent harm to anyone. And in the process of making a mistake and being corrected, I learned something about leadership.

My mistake was in focusing on myself and the words that I had to say to practice calling a racing start rather than focusing on my paddlers and the pace that they were setting themselves. I may be the one calling the shots, but I’m not the one making the shots. The paddlers themselves make the shots, I just announce them.

Leadership is not about forcing anybody to do anything, leadership is about seeing people’s strengths and helping them use those to the best of their ability. Leadership is helping everybody move in sync. Leadership is facilitating what others create.


Happy Minoru Yasui Day

Wednesday, March 28, 2017 will be the the second annual Minoru Yasui Day as officially recognized by the Oregon Legislature. Who was Minoru Yasui you might ask? He was a Japanese American lawyer who challenged President Roosevelt’s executive order 9066: aka the executive order which led the way to Japanese Internment camps.

On my way into the McMenamins Kennedy School to see a presentation of Stories of the Resistance to Japanese American Incarceration by Linda Tamura and George Nakata, I happened to come across a lovely cherry tree in blossom. The light was low, but I was able to capture this photo:IMG_0108

Inside I learned that this very tree that I’d snapped a quick photo of was in fact donated to the Kennedy School in 1939 by the Nakamura family who’s children attended the school. The Nakamuras wanted to give back to their community, but only two years after giving this gift the  larger community of our country decided they wanted more from the Nakamuras. In the name of safety and security, President Roosevelt signed an executive order which led to the imprisonment of the Nakamura family and thousands of others.

When we take freedoms away from one it is to the detriment  of all.

How to Not Install Your Dishwasher

  1. Please do not try to replace your dishwasher without disconnecting the electricity first.
  2. You might want to turn off the hot water.
  3. Ok really you might want to turn off all of the water.

My back is broken, I’m not currently the best person to ask if you need help replacing your appliances, but my station wagon is helpful for transporting things. And Aunt Esther taught me how to fix the dishwasher we got for free off of craigslist, so that was cool. We managed to get the old dishwasher detached from the counter, and then we tried to turn the water off so we could disconnect the old dishwasher. Key word tried. I even pulled the handy-dandy WD-40 out of my car to help the attempts.

Decisions were made. An attempt was made to unhook the old dishwasher without first turning off the water… Which ended in a flooded kitchen. But then as my cousin’s outside calling the landlord and the plumber and my aunt is practically swimming under the sink, I see sparks.

Sparks! Oh shit! Aunt Esther I really think you should get out of there… How could I have forgotten to make sure the dishwasher’s electricity was turned off? Water+electricity=BAAAAAD

All I can say for myself is that I was more along for the ride on this particular adventure. And that I turned off the electricity as soon as I realized it was still on. And that while I was at it I managed to turn off the hot water, leading to a) less water spewing into the kitchen and b) non-scalding water spewing into the kitchen. Both of which made it a lot easier to finally get the new dishwasher connected and therefore end the flood.

Moral of the story: take the proper precautions when replacing your dishwasher or you might just end up sitting in your cousin’s apartment drying the carpets with a hairdryer.


Not My President

Some like to remind you that the president has less power than we seem to collectively think, meaning less power to make and enforce laws, but the president still has a large symbolic cultural power that can’t be ignored. A president who does their job right should be standing up for those in their country who are disenfranchised, but Trump has encouraged violence through his rhetoric and example. As a queer woman and a survivor of sexual violence, Trump is not my president, not because I want to kick him out of office, but rather because he has chosen to act in a way that is hostile to me, people like me, and those with less power than me.
There has been a lot of misinformation about the Protests, and I can’t speak to every single person out on the streets, but I would like to point out that the group Portland’s Resistance is meant to be a place for those of us interested in protecting the already marginalized communities that are further threatened by Trump and his rhetoric. The platform says nothing about throwing Trump out of office, or even dismantling the electoral college (which btw we need to do already, but now’s not the time). In fact the platform of the group begins with an implicit acceptance of Trump’s presidency: “In order to survive President Trump there needs to be a strong resistance.” Yes we’re saying that we’re going to fight against what Trump stands for, but we wouldn’t be talking about surviving his presidency if we meant for there not to be a presidency. Following I’ve copy-pasted from the facebook page Portland’s Resistance’s platform.

In order to survive President Trump there needs to be a strong resistance. Our group believes that Portland has an opportunity to become a beacon of light for the rest of the nation. We can show the world what a progressive city can actually look like. However, for this to be done we need drastic changes now. We do not have time to spare.

Our organization is demanding in Portland:
– Rent control and an end to no cause evictions
– An end to police brutality
– An end to racial disparity in policing
– Citizen oversight of the police with real power
– An acknowledgement of Portland’s racist past and concrete steps to rectify that sad truth – No new fossil fuel infrastructure or support towards the fossil fuel industry
– Clean air and water
– Transparency in city government
– An acknowledgement that we are living on stolen land and efforts to rectify that fact
– Open and accountable elections
– Safe streets
– Continued sanctuary city status
– Full LGBTQ inclusion
– Well funded schools for ALL our children (No lead in the water!)
– An affirmation of women’s rights including free and safe abortions
– More funding for sexual and domestic violence prevention and better policing on these issues – A safe and welcoming place for immigrants and refugees
– Increased mental health funding and accessible services
– Safe locations for the houseless population
– A houseless bill of rights
– The right to free and safe abortion
– Get Nestle out of the gorge
– No More tax break to major corporations such as Nike, Comcast etc
and much more.
– Guaranteed living wages

We entirely support and endorse the movements of Black Lives Matter, Don’t Shoot Portland, Portland Tenants United, PDX Trans Pride, Bernie PDX, Portland Clean Air, East Portland Air Coalition, 15 NOW, Health Care for All Oregon and more to come in the days ahead.

Well She’s Obviously Straight

Once upon a time I went to Whole Foods (don’t worry, I wasn’t buying anything, just giving someone a ride). After browsing the aisles of overpriced foods and receiving an almost shocking level of help from the lady behind the cheese counter (apparently they let you leave your post there if you’re showing a customer where something is), we were ready to leave with our dairy-free dairy products (yeah, it sounds a little oxymoronic to me too, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do when you’ve got allergies). But that’s when it happened…

I made eye contact with this gorgeous hippy girl; dark brown hair, the thick rimmed glasses so popular around Portland… Hippies are hard to pin down sometimes, so I thought for half a moment that I had a chance! And then her eyes kept moving. And didn’t come back.

“Well she’s obviously straight” I said to my friend. “I was making eyes at her! And she didn’t even give me a second glance.” Because really, who wouldn’t be into me? I was wearing my bike shorts and everything, so I had plenty of muscles to show off. And obviously the only women who can resist my muscles are the straight ones.