Navajo Update, A Look Back & Forward + Two Poems to Inspire

Much to share, including a new Retake Webinar Series starting next Tuesday, two inspiring poems, links to last week’s posts, a Report Card Update. How are you doing?

Today, we announce a new Retake Our Democracy Zoom Webinar series, we provide a review of what transpired last week, and we offer two remarkable poems. The first poem, Wild Geese, from Mary Oliver was written in 1986, but is strangely appropriate to our times. The second poem is from Adrie Kusserow who intentionally took Wild Geese and placed it into the context of our virus-ridden times. Read on.

Navajo-Hopi Nations Face Increasing COVID-19 Spread

The virus continues to spread in Navajo & Hopi Nations, with tribal police setting up checkpoints outside Chilchinbeto, AZ where a large evangelical church gathering sparked a spike in COVID-19 cases. We are heartened by one of the strongest outpourings of financial support for the Navajo-Hopi COVID-19 Relief Go Fund Me Campaign. Over the weekend Retake readers made 75 donations to the Go Fund Me Campaign. I’ve been in touch with Janene Yazzi who is one of the leaders of the relief effort, and we are working to have her on the radio show this Saturday. If you possibly can afford it, I’d encourage you to make a contribution today and to share the request with others. While many communities are experiencing the brunt of this pandemic, the Navajo & Hopi Nations have but four inpatient health centers serving a community the size of West Virginia. With poor infrastructure and communities without running water or easy access to food, the challenges are huge and the consequences dire. Click here to read an AZ Central update from Saturday.

If you have the means, please make a contribution to the Go Fund Me campaign below. And please share this post with others.

Retake Announces Tuesday Evening Webinar Series

We are home, going stir-crazy and we are passively watching a monstrous president prop himself up as our savior. What to do? We think it might be time to talk among ourselves and with others, and through the process begin to form a vision for a better path forward. As part of that strategy, we are launching a new webinar series:

  • Tues., April 14, 6:30 – 8 pm. Public Regulation Commission District 3 Democrat Candidate Forum with Joe Maestas and Brian Harris.
  • Tues., April 21, 6:30 – 8 pm. Town Hall Conversation with NM Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard and Land Commissioner General Counsel Ari Biernoff.
  • Tues., May 5, 6:30 – 8 pm. The End of Fracking In NM? with author/activist Dahr Jamail and environmental attorney and author, Greg Rogers.

You must pre-register for all of these webinars to ensure your “virtual seat,” and you will be sent a password to access the Zoom webinar. For more information on each and to pre-register, click here where you will also find other events and actions from our allies.

2020 Legislative Session Report Card Update. Lots of folks are asking when the 2020 Report Card will be done. I can only say that each time Roxanne and I sit down to work on it the virus, family, or some mundane necessity intervenes. But the Report Card will be so useful in the June primary, just two months away, so we are going to make that an absolute priority. We will keep you posted.

A Look Back At Another Week in Shelter

Are you getting used to this? Is it becoming easier? Or are you losing it, eager to run through the Plaza yelling? Any plaza will do. We are reading as much as we can and trying to bring you an honest view, not just on what is happening, but what it might mean and what it might foretell.

This past week, the focus remained almost entirely on the virus. Much as I wanted to cover other news or discuss how we might advance our thinking and use what we learn from this virus to inform the substantive change that is so badly needed, it is hard to stay with it when you feel powerless to do much of anything other than shelter. But hopefully, some of you found inspiration in the links to webinars from Naomi Klein and Democracy Rising. We will continue to scour the internet for other offerings. Please share with us anything you see that you feel our readers might appreciate. Thanks to Jade Gordon who shared with us the two poems that end this post. Very worth your time.

How This Pandemic Could End: An In-Depth Analysis of What Could Come

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Tuesday, March 31. Over the past ten days I’ve read a ton about the virus and found one Atlantic article that does a tremendous job explaining how we got here and how we can get out of this mess. This post provides numerous excerpts and commentary. The article outlined the four steps the US must take if it is to minimize the number of deaths incurred and the length of time we are in isolation. One reader commented: “This is the most thorough, clear review of our situation.” Click here to read the full post.

Dahr Jamail: Will COVID-19 Kill the Fracking Industry & Now What NM?

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Thursday, April 2. As the price of oil and NM’s revenue plummet, economists suggest that the fracking and even the entire carbon industry may go bankrupt, with a global depression possible. Instead of a just transition, we may face a cruel one. In this post, we reflect upon the most recent Truthout article from Dahr Jamail, an internationally respected climate crisis author. His most recent book, The End of Ice, has been named one of the Ten Best Science Books of 2019 by Smithsonian and is a finalist for the 2020 Pen/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award for exemplary literary excellence. His article focuses on NM and the economic challenges we face, with world economics perhaps forcing our hand and forcing a transition sooner than our elected officials had planned. Click here to read the full article.

Voices from Navajo & Hopi Nations: Urgent Call to Action As Pandemic Skyrockets in Indigenous Nation; Go Fund Me Campaign Launched

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Friday, April 3. This post is short & to the point. The Navajo & Hopi Nations have been hit hard with coronavirus, given the remote geography and lack of infrastructure and health facilities. During the H1-N1 flu epidemic American indigenous populations suffered four times the rate of death of all other ethnic groups combined. We have to help NOW to prevent a recurrence of that tragedy. Time to step up. Details. Click here to read the full report.

The Coronavirus Just Turned Much Nastier: Prepare to Shelter in Place For Longer Than Anyone Thought

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Saturday, April 4. The post examined how the Midwest is about to erupt; Asian countries that seemed under control are seeing spikes in infections and are returning to isolation; and Trump and Kushner lie and twiddle their thumbs. This is not looking good at all. Click here to read the full post.

Thanks to Jade Gordon who forwarded me both poems below. The first poem, Wild Geese, was written by Mary Oliver in 1986. The second poem, by Adrie Kusserow, And Now This, takes Wild Geese and brings it forward to the age of the virus.

Enjoy the poems and stay safe and healthy,

Paul & Roxanne

Wild Geese | Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

AND NOW THIS 
Mary Oliver for Corona Times
(Thoughts after the poem Wild Geese) by Adrie Kusserow

You do not have to become totally zen,
You do not have to use this isolation to make your marriage better,
your body slimmer, your children more creative.
You do not have to “maximize its benefits”
By using this time to work even more,
write the bestselling Corona Diaries,
Or preach the gospel of ZOOM.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body unlearn
everything capitalism has taught you,
(That you are nothing if not productive,
That consumption equals happiness,
That the most important unit is the single self,
That you are at your best when you resemble an efficient machine).
Tell me about your fictions, the ones you’ve been sold,
the ones you sheepishly sell others,
and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world as we know it is crumbling.
Meanwhile the virus is moving over the hills,
suburbs, cities, farms and trailer parks.
Meanwhile The News barks at you, harsh and addicting,
Until the push of the remote leaves a dead quiet behind,
a loneliness that hums as the heart anchors.
Meanwhile a new paradigm is composing itself in our minds,
Could birth at any moment if we clear some space
From the same tired hegemonies.
Remember, you are allowed to be still as the white birch,
Stunned by what you see,
Uselessly shedding your coils of paper skins
Because it gives you something to do.
Meanwhile, on top of everything else you are facing,
Do not let capitalism coopt this moment,
laying its whistles and train tracks across your weary heart.
Even if your life looks nothing like the Sabbath,
Your stress boa-constricting your chest.
Know that your ancy kids, your terror, your shifting moods,
Your need for a drink have every right to be here,
And are no less sacred than a yoga class.
Whoever you are, no matter how broken,
the world still has a place for you, calls to you over and over
announcing your place as legit, as forgiven,
even if you fail and fail and fail again.
remind yourself over and over,
all the swells and storms that run through your long tired body
all have their place here, now in this world.
It is your birthright to be held
deeply, warmly in the family of things,
not one cell left in the cold.
Adrie Kusserow



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1 reply

  1. Thanks for these two aware observations. Spiritual contemplations of the living world.

    I am sheltering in place while I work cuz I work where I live. While I work I ponder, and I have come up with what to do; both during isolation and following any reprieve from this virus’ human course corrections. This parasite changes nothing concerning past and present human behaviors. As I work out in the wild, this is what Nature speaks to me.

    My first awareness is that all of this begins with me. To practice communal spirit, self-discipline and self-responsibility must be put into constant practice. So as I work, I practice what I state below, either in deed or in mindset/strategy. If I have another 1000 years, I might get most of it right. I posted this today in the Opinion section of The Washington Post. WE are the politic. WE do not need politicians or lawyers or oligarchs to do this. WE need each other and our planet.

    “Needs vs. wants vs. stability. The fulcrum that balances life cannot be moved. Humans cannot ignore this geometry and hope to survive.

    Absolute needs –
    1 – Un-contaminated water of adequate supply;
    2 – non-toxic, nutritious food grown in healthy media/soil watered by #1;
    3 – adequate, durable shelter designed/built using renewable, non-toxic, energy-efficient methods;
    4 – individual/societal security from most unprovoked threats; mitigation of provoked threats;
    5 – a 100% re-usable/recyclable/non-toxic zero-waste stream;
    6 – de-centralized, 100%-renewable, non-polluting energy system to supply 1-5, plus local/regional transit system using same energy;
    7 – universal health care (not dis-ease care) equally available to all humans/animal companions/wildlife animals/plants/soils/water/air;
    8 – education/information/research/training/pilot projects that support all the above;
    9 – a sustainable balance of work, rest, creativity, leisure time, study/education, spiritual contemplation;
    10 – a vigorous, healthy, bio-diverse, planet-wide, wild ecosystem regenerated/protected by its non-wild human companions.

    All the above are publicly, employee-owner managed, and there is no privatized profit or loss. The only ‘banking’ system is in the accounting of all the necessary elements required to provide 1-10, info readily available and transparent to all, backed by research, analysis, pilot studies, modifications and adjustments, etc.

    Investment is strictly limited to providing any energy/function needed to ensure 1-10 are achievable. Too many humans, too many demands, too few sources or resources, too many inefficiencies, too much imbalance, and ‘the gyre widens, and things fall apart.’

    Hoarding of any sort is dis-allowed; perpetrators are confined to quarters.
    Sociopathy, psychopathy, sadism, narcissism, perversion, violence are viruses and will not be allowed to exist.

    Enough need here to completely occupy humanity for 1000+ years.

    Or, we can continue the same stupid crap.”

    Revolution or extinction. Simple enough.

    Mick Nickel

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