Decolonizing the Mind – A Freedom School Course Offering

Spring 17: Decolonizing the Mind

April 5-June 21, 2017 (12 weeks) in Occupied Huichin (aka Oakland, CA)

Wednesdays 6-9 PM PST

artwork by Dignidad Rebelde

In accepting the premise of colonization and working towards decolonization, we are not relegating ourselves to a status as victims. On the contrary, we are actively working toward our own freedom to transform our lives and the world around us. The project that begins with our minds, therefore, has revolutionary potential.

Waziyatawin & Michael Yellow Bird, “Beginning Decolonization”

Course Description

What do contemporary processes of decolonization, self-determination, and sovereignty look like? How can we literally decolonize social justice and revolutionary movements? And all of the spaces and places within this imperialist settler colony, for that matter. This is one of the most important learning edges of our time. The very health and continued existence of the Earth and all our relations depends upon on our immediate attention to this matter. This course centers Indigenous voices, cosmologies, and social and political movements in order to begin to answer the above questions. Through film, poetry, news clips, music, essays, and other forms of storytelling, we will develop tools for understanding major issues and current controversies involving the struggle for the self-determination of Indigenous peoples within the territorial U.S. and the land bases effected by the reach of U.S. empire. Overall, this course offers a site to get your mind right. Let the unlearning, remembering, and imagining begin.

Note: You might not ‘get’ everything we cover this season. That’s both okay & to be expected. We’ll try to honor cultural & other forms of incommensurability (i.e. that not all meaning is translatable). Also, not every resource will likely be as evocative or as impactful to you as all the others. After all, this season invites us into a solidarity practice with integrity. So it’s not all about any one of us. Indeed, we shouldn’t each be the intended audience nor center of every resource. If you feel like a piece doesn’t ‘speak to you,’ please take this as all the more reason to try to learn from it. With this possibility in mind, let’s try to expand our horizons together.

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Minda the Mammal – “What would it be like to be a little mammal during dinosaur times?”

Listen here:

What would it be like to be a little mammal during dinosaur times? In this 21 minute podcast entitled “Minda the Mammal” Jennifer Joy, who writes and produces science-based podcasts, answers this question as she takes us into the life of Minda, a little mammal living when the dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago.

With sensitive storytelling Joy brings Minda alive with nuance and subjectivity. Joy allows us to experience Minda’s life first hand, as Minda negotiates all the things all mammals must negotiate in the course of a life time. Through Joy’s focus on Minda she deftly brings sweet attention to the human condition and how we are all first and foremost mammals. We all want and need a warm, cozy nest to curl-up in with family, a full tummy, and a partner to have “spicy fun” with.

I love how Joy captures the surprise of embodied experience as it must have been – and still is – experienced by our mammal brothers and sisters.

Followers of Brian Swimme will appreciate how expertly Joy has integrated the power of story telling with science.

This is what radio should be.

Here are all her podcasts, all equally professional, creative, fun and educational:

Jennifer Joy

Jennifer Joy is a New York City-based writer, performer, comic and director, with a passion for science. She is the Artistic Director of the environmental science performing troupe, The SciArt6, whose work is inspired by the latest research in the environmental sciences. Their work includes puppet shows on food, an immersive performance piece on the ecological history of Manhattan, and a “voicestra” following the history of life on earth.

Her solo show, The Physics of Love, a romantic comedy based on the scientific history of the universe, has toured all over the country to rave reviews.  Her quirky take on science news, coupled with her observations about her farm-girl childhood in the Midwest and life as a lesbian in New York City, delight and entertain….

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A Map of Emerging Ecozoic Awareness in the United States? The geography of American climate confusion: a visual guide

Editor’s Note: What I see in these five maps in the linked article is nascent consciousness about where we need to be going. I thought Map 5 (strong red color, second one below) was most provocative in that it shows that a majority of the nation knows there are better sources of energy than what most of us rely upon now. We know the direction we should be heading for our energy sources. Map 1 is also heartening (strong golden color, first one below):”Climate change is real”. This is why I ask in the headline is this “a map of emerging Ecozoic awareness in the US”? ~ AK

Most Americans — in nearly every county across the United States– understand the world is warming, according to Yale University research released in February 2017.

Vast majorities in every state support renewable energy research and development spending, according to the Yale research.

The geography of American climate confusion: a visual guide
By John D. Sutter – – Updated 8:53 AM ET, Tue February 28, 2017

Climate change may seem like a complicated issue, but it’s actually simple if you understand five key facts, according to Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.

They are: 1. It’s real. 2. It’s us. 3. Scientists agree. 4. It’s bad. And: 5. There’s hope.

Yet, far too few Americans get it.

That became more painfully apparent to me this week when Yale University researchers released data and maps that detail American attitudes on climate change. The data, which are based on surveys and modeling by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, do show there is broad agreement in the American public on the solutions needed to fight climate change and usher in the clean-energy era. The most striking example: majorities of people in every single congressional district support setting strict limits on carbon dioxide pollution from existing coal-fired power plants, according to the research. And this despite the fact that many Republicans and US President Donald Trump say they want to ax an Obama-era regulation — the Clean Power Plan — that aims to do just that.

Still, there remain big pockets of climate confusion — perhaps denial — across the country, especially when it comes to climate science. Narrowing this info gap is particularly critical now since President Trump has denied the science of climate change and has promised to enact policies that can be expected to dirty the air and intensify warming.

To that end, here is a geographic look at five key climate facts.

Explore more of this data on the website for the Yale Climate Opinion Maps.

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Bioneers Partners with Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund on Rights of Nature in Indigenous Communities

By Bioneers Admin – – February 16, 2017

In the shadow of the illegitimate approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the escalating corporate assault against Indigenous lands and rights, Bioneers is honored to announce our landmark collaboration with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Together, we will introduce innovative legal strategies to Native American community partners in a unique position to lead our collective fight for the Rights of Nature.

After learning about CELDF’s current work with the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin to create a Rights of Nature legal framework, Bioneers saw a crucial strategic opportunity. Bioneers secured the resources to support CELDF, specifically enabling the development of this unique partnership initiative.

The idea of Rights of Nature reflects a fundamentally Indigenous worldview of inter-being, kinship and responsibility to Mother Earth. Marrying a Western legal framework to that worldview can be a powerful tool to protect the land, to shift people’s consciousness, and ultimately to transform the law. Check out the powerful 2016 Bioneers keynote by CELDF’s Thomas Linzey and Mari Margil, which includes their work on Rights of Nature.

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New Zealand river granted same legal rights as human being

by Eleanor Ainge Roy – The – 16 March 2017

Prince Harry paddled down the Whanganui river during a visit to New Zealand in 2015. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

After 140 years of negotiation, M?ori tribe wins recognition for Whanganui river, meaning it must be treated as a living entity

In a world-first a New Zealand river has been granted the same legal rights as a human being.

The local M?ori tribe of Whanganui in the North Island has fought for the recognition of their river – the third-largest in New Zealand – as an ancestor for 140 years.

On Wednesday, hundreds of tribal representatives wept with joy when their bid to have their kin awarded legal status as a living entity was passed into law.

“The reason we have taken this approach is because we consider the river an ancestor and always have,” said Gerrard Albert, the lead negotiator for the Whanganui iwi [tribe].

“We have fought to find an approximation in law so that all others can understand that from our perspective treating the river as a living entity is the correct way to approach it, as in indivisible whole, instead of the traditional model for the last 100 years of treating it from a perspective of ownership and management.”
The new status of the river means if someone abused or harmed it the law now sees no differentiation between harming the tribe or harming the river because they are one and the same.

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Historic Gift Helps Chile Protect Switzerland-size Land Area

By Elizabeth Royte – National – March 15, 2017
Former CEO of Patagonia pledges to hand over private parks

Tompkins bought plots of land surrounding Pumalín, increasing its size to 715,000 acres, and in 2005 the Chilean government declared it a Nature Sanctuary.
Photograph by ImageBroker, Alamy

In a ceremony on the edge of South America’s famed Pumalín Park, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet and the American philanthropist Kristine Tompkins today pledged to expand Chile’s national parkland by 10 million acres. In what has been billed as the world’s largest donation of privately held land, Tompkins—the founder, with her late husband, Doug Tompkins, of Tompkins Conservation—plans to hand over to the government slightly more than a million acres. The Chilean government, for its part, will contribute nearly 9 million acres of federally-owned land.

Kristine Tompkins—a California native who served as the CEO of the clothing company Patagonia before marrying Doug Tompkins, a founder of The North Face and Esprit clothing companies—spent more than two decades acquiring the land and restoring it to wilderness. But the couple’s tenure in southern Chile has not been without controversy.

Initially, locals bristled at what they considered a foreign land grab and at the couple’s successful opposition to a massive hydropower scheme. Some castigated the Tompkins for taking land out of production—logging and sheep and cattle ranching—and eliminating the jobs those industries produced in favor of restoring what the Tompkins considered degraded grasslands and forests.

As puma populations in the region have crept upward, so have complaints from ranchers who have lost sheep. Over the years, relations between locals and the Tompkins improved as their foundation involved the community in planning and created more jobs.

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Is Ryan a Religious Hypocrite? A Priestly Letter to Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan from Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

by Matthew Fox – – March 13, 2017

Dear Speaker and Congressman Paul Ryan,

As a priest who commemorates his 50th year in the priesthood this year (28 as a Roman Catholic and 22 as an Episcopalian), and as your elder, I am writing you this letter because I am worried about your soul.

We all know you take good care of your body, working out frequently in the congressional gym we taxpayers provide for those in Congress, and that is a good thing.  But I am concerned that you are neglecting your soul.  It too requires work-outs and practice to stay healthy.

You claim to be a good and a practicing Catholic Christian but I have serious doubts that you are.  Our Christian beliefs include these words of Jesus after all: “What does it profit a person if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”  These powerful words are surely important for anyone serving in public office or any other places of responsibility, whether in government or business or church or wherever.  Yes, they even apply to your close buddies the Koch brothers, upon whom you depend so fully for your income and ideas and campaigns and job.

You see, another passage that grounds Catholicism and Christianity is found in Matthew 25: “Do it to the least and you do it to me.”  Not to mention the Golden Rule which is found in Matthew 7:12 and is reflected in some form in every world religion since the time of Hammurabi: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Now I want to ask from a spiritual and theological perceptive how you can possibly reconcile these basic teachings of the Gospels with your continued efforts to create budgets for our entire nation that do the following:

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Ecological Art by Barbara Clark

Barbara uses collage and old Sierra Club desk calendars to express her love for Earth – and rage at it’s destruction. I find these nuanced and provocative soul responses to our time. Click on each one to see it up-close.

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Why I’m Not Devastated

Michael Dowd of recommended this essay to me recently. I share it with you.

By Erik – originally published by Transistion Milwaukee –
November 10, 2016

Actually I am a bit devastated, but not nearly as much as most people from my liberal neck of the woods, mainly because I am lucky enough to have stumbled, about eight years ago, into a world of political activism that lives beyond the current political divide.  Around 2:30 last night when I rolled over and emerged from my safe world of dreams, I made the mistake of rousing myself enough to check the results.  When I had gone to bed Trump was giving Clinton a scare, but all the big states except Ohio had yet to be called.  Certainly this couldn’t actually happen.  When I turned on my laptop in the wee hours and saw the sea of red—Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, even Pennsylvania–the air seemed suddenly sucked from the room and I was struck with that terrible sick feeling that so many others felt at some point last night.  I tried to fall back asleep, but couldn’t.  I read an article from Politico, turned to The Nation on line, checked in on Facebook.  No solace.  Too soon for reflection.   Then I lay in bed looking at the ceiling, breathing slowly and deliberately, breathing out the excited emotions, reflecting upon our country, our past, our shaky present, and our uncertain future with as much understanding as I could muster, freeing myself slowly from reactive fear and anger.

This midnight moment of self-liberation was, I think, much easier for me than most people outside of the deep sustainability world, largely because of an alternative view of history it has provided me, and thus very different expectations for the present and future than I used to have.  I am often misunderstood to be saying that partisan politics don’t matter, which is not actually the case.  Rather, I spend a fair amount of effort thinking about how much they matter, while suggesting that other things may be of far greater import.  The election of Trump is, of course, terrible short-term news, particularly for a number of Americans that aren’t pictured in Trump’s America, and may bring additional pain and suffering not only to us, but those living in lands far away.  I’m thinking, here, of my friend who asked, “what will happen to my health care”; of all the immigrant laborers whose invisible work is far too likely to go unnoticed; of my Muslim neighbor, who appeared utterly drained this morning as he backed his car out of his garage; and, finally, of the people living in embattled lands who may become victims of a Trump-ordered air-strike.

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The Writing of “Silent Spring”: Rachel Carson and the Culture-Shifting Courage to Speak Inconvenient Truth to Power

By Maria Popova – Brain

Rachel Carson at her microscope and her typewriter

“It is, in the deepest sense, a privilege as well as a duty to have the opportunity to speak out — to many thousands of people — on something so important.”

“Life and Reality are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others,” philosopher Alan Watts wrote in the 1950s as he contemplated the interconnected nature of the universe. What we may now see as an elemental truth of existence was then a notion both foreign and frightening to the Western mind. But it was a scientist, not a philosopher, who levered this monumental shift in consciousness: Rachel Carson (May 27, 1907–April 14, 1964), a Copernicus of biology who ejected the human animal from its hubristic place at the center of Earth’s ecological cosmos and recast it as one of myriad organisms, all worthy of wonder, all imbued with life and reality. Her lyrical writing rendered her not a mere translator of the natural world, but an alchemist transmuting the steel of science into the gold of wonder. The message of her iconic Silent Spring (public library) rippled across public policy and the population imagination — it led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, inspired generations of activists, and led Joni Mitchell to write a lyric as timeless as “I don’t care about spots on my apples / Leave me the birds and the bees / Please!”

A woman scientist without a Ph.D. or an academic affiliation became the most powerful voice of resistance against ruinous public policy mitigated by the self-interest of government and industry, against the hauteur and short-sightedness threatening to destroy this precious pale blue dot which we, along with countless other animals, call home.

Carson had grown up in a picturesque but impoverished village in Pennsylvania. It was there, amid a tumultuous family environment, that she fell in love with nature and grew particularly enchanted with birds. A voracious reader and gifted writer from a young age, she became a published author at the age of ten, when a story of hers appeared in a children’s literary magazine. She entered the Pennsylvania College for Women with the intention of becoming a writer, but a zestful zoology professor — herself a rare specimen as a female scientist in that era — rendered young Carson besotted with biology. A scholarship allowed her to pursue a Master’s degree in zoology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University, but when her already impecunious family fell on hard times during the Great Depression, she was forced to leave the university in search of a full-time paying job before completing her doctorate.

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