Monthly Archives: June 2010

Why I’m taking action against teacher layoffs

Here in Milwaukee, as in many parts of the country, cutbacks in funding are resulting in a large number of teacher layoffs. Milwaukee stands to lose over 400 teachers and 600 support staff. For me this news has prompted me into action. It has struck a blow to my family, friends and to my basic core values.

On a personal level, the news of the layoffs came within days of my son’s graduation from high school. His school employs progressive ideas and teaching methods to accommodate a population that may not have succeeded in a traditional school environment. The schools motto and mission is “The school where you can be you” and the focus is on providing a safe accepting environment for youth who have been bullied, misunderstood or just didn’t fit in. Gay, Lesbian and Transgender teens are welcomed and provided an environment where they can be safe, both physically and emotionally. For this school in particular it is essential to have staff that is on board with the mission and culture of the school. The three teachers who have been given notice have been exemplary models of this style of education and have made positive impacts on many students’ lives. As a survivor, I am greatly impressed by the schools policy of non-violence and especially the way issues are addressed in a non-punitive approach that encourages empathy and positive problem solving. It is my personal belief that if more schools took a similar approach we would see a reduction in violence in our communities.

In the bigger picture, because teachers are being affected nationwide, it is an opportunity to draw attention to the role education plays in the lives of our next generation of adults. It is time to look at the roles that schools and teachers have taken in children’s lives in a society where so many children are lacking hope, lacking time with their families who must work long hours just to provide the basic necessities, and where so many of the messages they receive come from a media that cares for nothing but their role as consumers. For many youth school is more that a place to go learn how to pass a standardized test; it is a community. Teachers are more than just someone who stands in the front of the room and spews forth information required by standardized tests; they are mentors, role models and guides through the complex journey of growing up. More humane schools and communities produce more humane citizens; it’s time for us to factor in the human element, the personal element when balancing our budget.

Finally I’d like to add that this crisis has prompted me into action, it has given me the opportunity to speak out publicly to use my voice to stand up for something I believe in. As survivors we all know how important this is to our healing process. Many of us were silenced by fear and insecurity for years. To take back our voices our opinions our power of expression is one more step in taking back our lives.

Peace and Blessings,

Jenny

If you are interested in helping this cause please contact you representatives and tell them to pass the Keep Our Educators Working Act Now!
Iowa Senator Harkin has introduced legislation that would provide $23 billion to financially strapped school districts. In Wisconsin you may Contact Senators Kohl and Feingold and Congressional Representatives to encourage them to fight for the bill’s passage.


A stranger in a strange land…

“I had crossed the line, I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.” ~ Harriet Tubman.

One of my reasons for creating this blog, and my website http://www.nanakoosasplace.com/ was my realization that as a survivor, and a survivor of multiple challenges, I never really felt “normal”.
Even after receiving degrees in Social Work and Counseling I chose to work in small grassroots nonprofit agencies rather than for profit or government agencies. I knew I’d never “pass” in that world; nor would I want to. I would feel like an alien, a misfit and I’d probably end up getting fired. I did in fact get fired from my last job and I know it was partially due to my inability to conform to corporate like standards and expectations. No one was right no one was wrong, it just wasn’t a good fit with the changes the agency was making.
When I saw this quote by Harriet Tubman, I was initially transformed to the memory of reading her biography as a child. I imagined how lonely and terrified she must feel even while feeling the joy and gratitude of freedom. While her struggles and accomplishments were monumental compared to one woman’s struggle with addiction, abuse and depression, I think there is a common phenomenon that occurs whenever we find freedom, from whatever it is that has had us caged.
fortunately for many women leaving a violent home, recovering from addiction or embarking on another healing process there is support ready and available. This is especially true in the early stages. But as I had mentioned in an earlier post, “Crashing the Party of Normal Society”, many of the systems in place are focused on getting the individual through those initial early crisis stages. It is often when the dust settles and we have stabilized that we realize that we too are strangers in a strange land. at this point we are faced with a choice. Either we allow ourselves to revive our victim role and accept some sense of defeat, that we will never be “normal” or we cherish the experiences and wounds that make us unique resilient individuals and begin to celebrate our individuality. After all most of were somewhat non-conformist to begin with, right? That may have been part of what got some of us into trouble in the first place. I say let us learn to embrace those qualities of non-conformity, of clever survival tactics of resiliency as we create our new reality. there are enough of us “strangers’ out there that we need not be alone. There are others who understand. There are other women on the same path, the same journey to freedom and healing. Let’s learn to recognize each other, and to support one another throughout the entire process of healing and liberation.
If you read this post and feel it applies to you, take from it what you will and I always welcome feedback. If you feel you know someone else who may benefit from reading this please pass it on. If you find a stranger on the road who has a common story to tell, take the time to listen and support her. We need not be alone.
peace and blessings,
Nanakoosa
copyright 2010 Jennifer Hazard/ Nanakoosa’s Place.


anger, triggers and the whole Big Picture

wow, as I read over my last blog entry I was struck by several emotions pretty much all at the same moment. This is kind of like being the odd kid out in a snowball fight; you get pummelled from every direction at once. It takes a moment to clear the ice out of your eyes and re-orient yourself.
The primary and most disturbing emotion, was anger. Now I’m not saying anger is bad. There are times it is necessary to spur us into action. As we all have heard probably more times than we cared to, “it’s not the anger, it’s what you do with it that matters” in this case the anger drove me to take action to examine my patterns of interactions with others and the remainder of the bombardment of feelings. We often hear that at the root of anger is sadness, grief or a sense of having been betrayed. Once we begin to figure this out (somewhere around middle age for most of my generation) we are faced with the challenge of acknowledging sadness, grief and betrayal. Ow. The Hell with that you may say. That stuff hurts, and it makes us feel vulnerable. Worse yet, it may make us admit to ourselves how we may have contributed, at least passively, to the situation that got us so angry in the first place. In my case I overlooked a lot of warning signs in this guy. I helped him out financially and even when it started becoming obvious that he was taking advantage of the situation I tiptoed around the subject, because always had an excuse, an idea, a plan. So much like my ex-husband…and this wasn’t even MY boyfriend. Oh this is even less fun isn’t it? Can’t we just stomp around self righteously and demand justice. Can’t we just punch someone in the eye? Sure we could, but then guess who we have become? We have become the abuser.
And yet, we cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand and passively expect that it will all blow over. Maybe it will. my daughter hasn’t heard from this man since he found out the police were looking for him. It would be easy to say, “ok that’s done with.” The problem is, even if he never crosses paths with my daughter again, there’s always the next woman. If we are ever going to put even a dent in Domestic Violence as a social issue, we have to start looking out for one another. We have to be united in declaring that we will not allow this to happen to anyone. in order to reach the point of maturity and self understanding we have to muddle through some of those uncomfortable feelings like grief, sadness, betrayal and guilt; then by knowing and respecting ourselves we choose to respond, rather than react, in a way that will both resist participation in violence and will create an atmosphere of safety for ourselves and others.
Peace and Blessings,
Nanakoosa