Category Archives: community

The Evolution of Revolution


Despite several challenges the Occupation of wall street is becoming a powerful catalyst for our nation. It seems by most accounts and observations, the group is well-organized, determined and moving forward with their stated objectives. Naturally there will be ridicule, downplay and outright media perpetrated lies from the conservative right, that is to be expected What concerns me is it’s not only the right that is jumping on the crazy wagon. I’d like to address two pervasive public reactions to the Occupation of Wall street  that are already creating an atmosphere of divisiveness among the rest of the 99%.

First,  the criticism that there is “no stated goal, or demand” put forth by the Activists.

This video is by far a more eloquent response than anything I could craft. In my mind it is virtually a guidebook for the evolution of a revolution! I was particularly struck by the statement made by the young woman addressing needing to change ourselves before we can change the world. As passionate, creative and motivated as we all are we are conditioned to functioning in a society that promotes individualism over cooperation, power over consensus and expects immediate outcomes. Cooperative organizing  for lasting change is process and meeting, educating, sharing ideas are all process. This is not a quick fix. The easy way, the quick way,  Action that is not nurtured and developed by  cooperative planning and careful consideration of the community as a whole is the kind of modus operandi that led this country into our current state. The fact that people are engaging in the process in large groups, visible to the public promotes action in a way that is dynamic, inclusive and effective. We have seen that we can only spend so much time planning and organizing online, in coffee houses or libraries before the group begins to lose momentum. Being in public and accessible draws more people into the fold and provides them with real opportunities to be a part of some thing bigger than themselves. The general assembly model provides structure, opportunity and facilitates empowerment both for individuals and as a community. The daily routines of marching, chanting dancing and protesting keeps people mobilized, energized and motivated.

The intent is fairly obvious, we don’t need a spreadsheet or manifesto to get the point across that economic inequality has reached the breaking point, that the government is no longer run by politicians but by the corporations who buy them and that people are demanding change.

The second issue that has me a bit irked is the incredible amount of time and energy some individuals are devoting (but not acting on) to the abuses perpetrated upon protesters by some NYPD officers (especially young scantily clad girls). Some place so much emphasis and attention on these incidents that they risk losing focus of the original purpose.  Even the media was essentially ignoring the occupation until the arrests, accompanied by excessive violence started showing up on you tube and other social networking outlets. Why is this many ask. Is it because we care about protesters getting hurt? Do we care about abuse of power and authority/ Let me remind you that if the latter were the case, these protests/gatherings would have drawn national coverage from day one. After all it is the abuse of power, the oppression of human beings that is the fundamental cause of the movement. So why has the media suddenly taken interest?  Distraction. A direct provocation of emotional response and reaction that is a fly in the ointment of calm, rational planned process. I’m reasonably certain the organizers have included a “how to deal with combative police presence” in their core training and mission. It is the people who are following closely via whatever media source they have available, who are becoming entangled in this web of drama. Please know I am not minimizing the event. It’s clearly an excessive and uncalled for use of force. However this is to be expected, at least prepared for, when organizing an occupation/demonstration of this size and scope. The abuse needs to be addressed but as it’s own issue, handled by a designated committee in conjunction with the attorneys who are volunteering their time to assist with these matters….otherwise we risk distraction from the original goal and purpose. Ongoing organizing and direct action needs to continue;  if anything these events can offer a teachable moment where the activists can revisit strategies for passive non-compliance. To risk losing time and effort organizing, to act from a place that is purely re-active is to risk undermining the validity of the organization. Additionally this sort of reaction perpetuates the “Us and Them” mentality which is another divisive tactic. As some of you may remember,  here in Wisconsin we had an incredible amount of support from the police in Madison this winter during the occupation of the State Capitol building. This week in New York  there are police who are not coming into work. As many as 100 officers, according to some sources, did not show up for work on Monday. Many of these men and women are in the same boat as the rest of us, struggling to get by on low wages in a world of increasing cost, worried about losing their homes and having their Union dismantled piece by piece. If we are to heed the advice of the woman quoted in the video and change ourselves in order to change the world, we have to stop painting classes of people, even police, with a broad brush. We have to refine our skills of discernment. That means call out the bad eggs, get their badge numbers, video their actions (people have been doing a great job at this)  but I caution against screaming “Fascist pig” or some other slander at the man or woman who may very well be on your side even if they are in uniform. That person may well save our life someday.

I’m looking forward to seeing and participating in the progression of this movement and I encourage readers to seek out alternative news sources for more information. I’m providing a list of a few links at the bottom of the page if you are interested in learning more about the actions and activists.




Creating Community, it’s easier than you think!

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.”
Sally Koch

I browsed through many quotes before I found the one that perfectly embodied the essence of today’s message. I have no idea who Sally Koch is, I do hope she’s not related to the infamous Billionaire Koch brothers, although they could benefit from her advice!
When I think about building cooperative community I often look to the past, to the lives and stories of my Grandparents and theirs before them. Even 40 or 50 years ago it was common for neighbors to share resources, in fact it was often the center of social gatherings and yearly traditions. At harvest time people would can goods from their gardens, setting aside extras to trade with their friends and neighbors. Certain people or families were known for their specialty crops; Aunt Patty pickled green beans,Uncle Ray was a hunter and famed for his dried venison jerky. Maybe Mrs. Gough down the street canned jams and jellies and further down the road was a bee keeper with jars of golden sweetness. Neighborhood picnics and family reunions were often a free marketplace of sorts where homegrown products were traded among the community. These events not only ensured the distribution of resources but also provided an opportunity for families and neighbors to socialize. Community sharing was not exclusive to reunions or Harvest festivals. There were frequently ongoing gatherings where groups of neighbors convened for quilting parties or knitting circles, the good old “stitch ‘n bitch’ as my Grandmother used to say. If someone needed a certain type of button or print of fabric the community contributed resources to help one another with their projects. In my opinion, the ‘bitch’ element was probably equally as important as the ‘stitch’. The stitch created useful and often unique blankets, clothing and household items. The ‘bitch’, to speak freely with a familiar and trusted group of friends provided a welcome release for women who spent most of their day tending to the needs of a household and children.
Another common practice was the sharing of ‘hand me downs’. although it’s often a topic of wry humor, the youngest boy wearing his older sisters clothes or being the kid who was last in line in the family, it is only in recent years that lower income families could afford to buy newer clothes for their children. Prices have decreased significantly due to the expansion of stores like Walmart because as we all know, the products are made overseas in crowded factories by ex impoverished men, women and children who will work for next to nothing. As the prices have dropped so has the quality, few of those clothes would last long enough to be handed down. When my children were young I had a group of friends who had children within the same age range. We had developed a hand me down system of our own; that way my youngest, a boy, didn’t have to suffer the shame of wearing his older sisters clothes but instead inherited items from the neighbor boy who was a year older (and his mind, much cooler)
I realize that times have changed, that we have less time for such activities, but why is that? Is it perhaps because we spend so much time away from our families and communities employed by companies who have little or no connection to us as individuals? Perhaps the more we learn to do for ourselves as communities, to function in a spirit of mutual support and care, the more we can free ourselves from the the grip of a system that takes more from us than it gives in return.
Do you have friends, family or community that shares traditions and practices of a barter or freecycle/sharing economy? What survival tips have you learned throughout your experiences with hard times? It would be great to hear some stories!

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

More Thoughts on Community

Happy Wednesday Warriors, Wild Ones and Wanderers,

I’ve had a thing for alliteration lately..
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the Concept of Community these days. It may be partially in response to the collective sense of fear and uncertainty that is evident in our nation, and in many other parts of the world. Our government seems out of control,the wealthy are getting wealthier and the rest of us are losing resources on a daily basis. Many of feel that we are no longer being represented by those we elected; we are feeling like children, abandoned unsure of where to go for help.
And then there are the doomsday folks, the conspiracy theorists, the 2012ers who speak of immanent change, but offer little suggestion of what that change may look like. The only thing that seems certain is that those of us without money or substantial political influence (one in the same really) stand to be in for some difficult times at best. At worst we stand to lose many rights and freedoms that we have taken for granted for most of our lives.
I once quipped to a friend of mine that if our economy totally takes a dive and chaos ensues, poor folks, survivors and “disenfranchised” will be in a pretty good spot. We know how to navigate tough times, we know how to survive on very little money and we form tight friendships. Common suffering breeds unity in the best of us. Look at support groups. although all support groups have their problems and as any group work textbook will tell you, evolve through stages of difficulty, the beauty is that in the most circumstances there develops a mutual respect and accountability. If the group can remain focused on their common cause while honoring the uniqueness of the individual there emerges a unity that is rich with possibility
That kind of comraderie and acceptance is exactly what is needed right now. I’ve seen it happen; when our governor attempted to bust the Unions he exempted the Police and Firefighters, hoping to keep them “on his side” I’m certain he was somewhat taken aback when not only did they refuse to hop on his bandwagon, but actually joined the protests is large numbers and, I must say, in quite a grand presentation. One of the most “spin my world, never thought I’d live to see the day” moments came when a police officer announced loud and clear to the protesters in the state capitol that he was standing with the protesters; that he was upholding his vow to protect the citizens. As someone who grew up in the 60’s seeing police and National Guardsmen tear gassing, beating and even shooting protesters I was flabbergasted, and overjoyed.
We can no longer afford to be divided by class, labels, social status…we need each other. We need Community.
Next: ideas on building and sustaining community support. Stay tuned…

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Guest Blogger Eva Day!!!!!!!

 Hello Everyone,
I hope you enjoy this beautifully written and very moving post by Eva Day, Wise Woman Extrodinaire!!!!

Kicking Up The Dust.
Dear Jenny and  female friends.
Jenny is in a phase just now of giving extra focus to political issues in the world around her and the effects of the decisions and oblivion of the “big players” on the lives of ordinary folk and women in the every day world.  I see the care and the commitment in that, from Jenny, and recognise of course that the personal is political and the political is personal…..   we are all part of the world being shaped every day
When I first came across Jenny’s blog and a place for “women with a past”,” the concept resonated with me immediately.  I imagined wearing my past with pride, like a cloak, perhaps a battered, frayed or somewhat stained one, but well woven and sturdy and richly coloured……   a cloak that trails out behind me, sweeping the dust of the ground as I walk forward, into the future and  – the wisdom of a more mature woman.  Hah!!  But, yes, I do feel after much journeying I know a little, just a little about life, even when paradoxically, it becomes ever more mysterious and perplexing.  And  yes, let’s have confidence that we will walk forward boldly into some way of living and being which is forged from wisdom – as well as the good humour and the grace to realise we will also occasionally stumble into wisdom and foolishness too, or be met by it!
Women with a past certainly will stir up an amount of dust as they walk – they do not tread lightly or quietly ,as our foremothers were too often exorted or trained to do, though they may well know how to do so when the circumstances require.  Warrior women can move through the darkness or through difficult terrain with stealth if instinct guides them…. But can also walk like queens, proud and certain when they have heart for their journey.  And the dust?  Well amongst those foremothers told to tread modestly, there have always been those who could not and would not, and they are companions to me.  The dust feels like a pleasing image to me, as what better reminds us of the truth that from the earth we come and to the earth our bodies will return, in one form or another..   ashes to ashes, dust to dust – I can’t think of a patriarchal reference that is more female in its symbolism.  Perhaps a little of the dust we raise on our journeys will settle  on the cloaks of other travellers along the way, will blow gently into towns and villages we pass through, will be the form and substance from which daughters, and sons, too, make solid forms: our homes, our pots, our messes, our works of art, the shapes of our lives.   We have touched others, and been touched by them, some of our substance and essence is expressed in their lives of others, just as their lives nourish – or deplete – ours.
When I sense my own past, tune into it with the feeling and instinctive nature, rather than remember specific events and incidents or analyse from a rational sequential viewpoint – then I am in the land of myth and metaphor.  I remember in my bones, and in soul mood… there were hopes and impulses and sudden passionate drives and urges.  There was an absolute will to live, to thrive, to explore, to taste life and to break the rules.  Sometimes because the rules forbade me to do something that called to me more powerful than any social constraints, and sometimes just because the rules needed breaking. Often I was a damned perverse – girl, young woman, slightly older woman who “ought to know better.”  And I think I still am all those things and more………   I have been a daughter  – of two mothers, in my life – and like many reading this am a mother, too.  Like all of us, my past is personal. The particular place I was born, the events that unfolded beyond that, what was done to me and what I did – to life, to myself and others.  Active, passive, many different rhythms.  Never passive for long though, in the rhythm of the passing seasons and years… .. often difficult, hopefully also tender and kind enough to have made somebody’s day gentler and more whole from time to time, creative in a playful spirit, destructive at times when wounded, cornered, angry….   Though destruction, too, can be a death and a rebirth, a space for a renewal or new directions. 
Footprints.  That’s another picture that comes to my mind’s eye.  My footprints, your footprints, and those of the women who walked before us and will come after…  And yes, again, I mention sons too, still believing in a world where boys too, as well as girls,  can be allowed to truly respect their mothers and grandmothers and learn from them – and teach them to.  (If I were a grandma, I’d be quite willing to learn to suck eggs!)  Footprints, also seem somehow a particularly masculine image in our culture.  We tread in the footprints of strong, bold males, in stories and films, don’t we?  I would like to feel that our footprints can be trusted  …..  
From one perspective, you may think that I’ve told you really – nothing – about my own challenges and triumphs – the details – as a woman with a past.  In another sense, I hope you feel I have.  And that you might be like another beautiful piece of fabric or wonderful embroidery on my patchwork cloak….. and I on yours.
Good travelling to all, and my wishes to you for good health, good living and good humour. xx eva
(article for International Women’s Day is my latest post.)

Image courtesy of
© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

I now have a schedule!

I can juggle many projects at once….

Hello friends,
I realized that now that I’m getting serious about this whole project for “Women with a Past” that I’ve been brewing in my cauldron for the past year it’s probably a good idea to create a schedule. This will work for both my benefit (I’m not known for my ability to stay “on task” as they say on report cards) and for the convenience of my readers and contributors. This schedule will commit me to writing, and therefore maintaining focus on my mission, on a daily basis. I know from experience that once one commits their energy and applies consistent effort, magical things can happen. Here’s to hoping for lots of Mama Mojo, Women’s Wisdom, Survivors Solidarity and Feminine Fierceness.
Here is the schedule:
Monday’s Musings and Mish Mosh: my own thoughts and musings, usually focusing on a particular issue or topic. Please feel free to send in suggestions for topics. 
Tuesday’s Tribute: Each Tuesday will feature a bio of a Heroine, past or present, who has stood up for the rights and freedoms of women.
Wednesday’s Women’s Wisdom:  Guest posts, artwork, projects and contributions. 
Thursdays Thoughts: Quote for the day, and reflection
Free for All Fridays: Friday is the day to keep it light, have some fun, tell some jokes or maybe post a video as we prepare for the weekend.
I will welcome anyone interested in guest posting or introducing yourself and any projects you may be working on. I just ask that you submit your posts to me by email at with “guest post” in the subject line so I can review them before posting. If I have questions or concerns about content I will contact you as soon as I am able so we can discuss the issue and let you know when your post will be featured.  Post topics are not limited to recovery, surviving domestic violence or sexual assault.  Although a part of my mission is to empower and support survivors, we all have a “past”, by the time we reach mid life we have all struggled at one time or another and we have all overcome challenges.   Even if you are a survivor or in recovery, don’t feel you have to limit yourself to those experiences. Having said that, do be aware as readers that many women are interested in sharing their stories of survival and recovery which can be upsetting or triggering.  In respect to that I will indicate in the headline if the story of that nature.
My next step is to compile a mailing list for a monthly newsletter! If you would like to add your name to the mailing send an email and I’ll sign you up.
I want to thank everyone who has volunteered to contribute, and everyone who has been reading my blog faithfully as I’ve negotiated my way through getting my “cyber legs” in the past year. Your words and support are golden!

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

New Feature…Guest Posts!!!

Hello All,
I am very excited to announce that after a year of blogging and networking I have arrived at the point that I will begin to share stories, bios and interviews from other survivors, advocates and allies.
This feature will give voice to survivors and will also help promote other bloggers and advocates who are doing the same. We have growing Community of bloggers, writers, artists and advocates who are dedicated to dismantling the walls of denial and misinformation that surround Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, Addiction, Mental Health issues and Poverty. I am honored to be a part of this Community, to have the space to share my stories through them and to have the opportunity to offer the same in return.
I will continue to share my own posts and experiences as well as having a featured Heroine at least once a month. In the interest of staying true to my mission and maintaining focus my political ramblings will be posted on my facebook group and page as notes. You will find the badge in the right column if you wish to follow my tirades!
Thank you all for being loyal readers for an entire year!
Today’s featured guest is Sherry Clyburn who I met in a discussion group on Linkedin.  It is a closed group by anyone interested in joining can follow this link
Here is Sherry’s story; I hope you will join me in sharing her mission.

Sherry’s Story

I am a survivor of childhood abuse which spiraled into a long term relationship with a man who introduced me to a life filled with domestic violence, and unfortunately I also became a non-offending mother of a sexually abused child. I am developing two books.

“Shadows of Silence: Book 1” gives readers a front row seat to what transpired in my life.

“Shadows of Silence: Book 2” This is an anthology e-book, with entries from professionals as well as both male and female survivors from most age brackets, from many walks of life and from many parts of the world.

As a sign of my appreciation for being a part of my e-book, you will receive a copy of the e-book “Shadows of Silence: Book 2” naturally free of charge (there is no selling price for this e-book)

Once I am published I will be presenting something that is rather unique gift. Most authors sell their book alone with nothing extra. I am giving the second e-book to those who purchase it. The second book will contain no less than 500 entries and no more than 1000. I am able to give it because I am paying a one -time fee for the temp plates.

Here’s a link that will allow you to read some of my testimony and other articles that I have authored so that you can learn my writing style.

I want to thank you in advance for caring enough to check out what I am doing. I really hope you will join me in my efforts to spread awareness about an issue that affects more than half of this world. If you are interested in adding your voice or if you have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact me at

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sherry Clyburn

This is what I believe and why I work so hard to create awareness. Some people are under the impression that we can end abuse. I mean no disrespect, but honestly, these people who believe we will achieve the ending of abuse are looking at a different reality than I am. I might be wrong, but my belief is that we will never totally eliminate abuse. Nonetheless, I do believe we can lower the victim population through one simple equation: Education + Awareness = Prevention.

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy 

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

>Eeeeee OOOhhhhh Teeeeeee


This title violates all the blogging rules of making your tile “searchable” and “drawing in the readers interest”, unless of course you have experience with treatment and you know that it means…END OF TREATMENT!
Can you tell I’m just a little bit happy?
I was thinking back to when I first started out on this long bumpy fog covered road, with only bits and pieces of a road map, like something a pirate would bury, hiding its elusive treasure.  I found support systems online, The Hep C Nomads, Hepatitis Advocacy, The Liver Foundation, Facebook groups and more. I read posts from people who were where I am now, finally, blessedly at the end of the road and slowly coming out of the fog. I felt happy for them, and proud for them that they had made it through 48 weeks of basically being a stranger in your own body. But I found it nearly impossible to picture myself at that point, emerging from the place I was in, a place that felt out of time, out of sync with the rest of the world; a strange kind of limbo where nothing feels real. I could not see the end from “in there”
I read the words of encouragement from others who had made it through to the other side and even though it seemed so far away I was glad for the voices from the other side, the hope and strength they offered. I will always be grateful for everyone who has been with me on this journey. People in other countries who I have never met in “real life” who have given so much of themselves when they were so sick it was hard to even sit at the computer long enough to post. This is an amazing community and I intend to stick around to give back what I’ve been given, not out of obligation but of gratitude and great respect for everyone who travels this journey together holding hands through the fog.
I think I’m going to go shed a few tears now 🙂
Thank You all so much, words cannot describe what your support has meant to me.
Peace and Love to you all!

© 2010 Jennifer Hazard