White fragility, white frailty, and accompliceship

I co-facilitated a workshop this week for white leaders leaders in ministry. I was pleasantly surprised that people turned out! It’s not easy or often fun work for us to do, yet as I’ve heard time and again while doing cross-cultural dialogues from People of Color that the same conversations that do not result in lasting change grow evermore tiresome at best. More and more POCs are sending white people to other white folks to get some education in cultural literacy in preparation for more comprehensive conversations and discernment. White people have work to do among white folk, and that work must include action — dismantling the systems of privilege that benefits us, not just improving our attitudes.¬†

First I asked them to reflect on what they knew about white fragility. To some the term white fragilityitself sounds like a liberal buzzword, pseudo psychology, or even a [worldly] way to view sin in our hearts. Robin Diangelo (recommended reading) addresses a number of ways that the emotional processes of white folks often waylays the work of organizing for change and then all too often, white folks do their “gliding rather than deciding” which ultimately maintains the current systems of privilege, reward, exclusion, and oppression.¬†Chapter 11 called White Woman’s Tears particularly stands out to me as critical analysis in the conversation.¬†If you’ve ever had a white boss, you’ve probably experienced the group centering their feelings when a diversity issue arises or a cross-cultural conflict occurs. Change, too often, happens at the speed of white people in power in a given social space.

I offer these Response Ability Protocol Cycles to direct some effort for people serious about transformation. I hope this describes many experiences by someone leaving their comfort zone of privilege to experiment toward solidarity — de-centering whiteness in their lives, organizations, communities, etc. The very shape of our processes need to transform the shape of its pattern.¬†For example, the cycle devolves from a quasi butterfly to a triangle, to simplify.¬†

Response Ability Protocol Cycles
Figure 2: Response Ability Protocol Cycles

The White Frailty cycle ensures the perpetuity of white supremacist systems by diverting us from significant listening, connection, or action. It is the most common way that white people or white institutions respond to racially or culturally charged stimuli. White guilt gets fused throughout, yet whiteness is made to be able to glide not decide, moving the process and results along with the status quo rather than transformation.

With so many opportunities to be an ally to a minority or oppressed group, white people struggle in their journey to have “skin in the game” as an accomplice in the movement. Cost is the key difference in the Accompliceship cycle, teeming with new growth and new possibilities. Listening moves us from ignorance, which becomes a launchpad rather than a safety net. We learn how to connect — the issues move from statistics and concepts into stories of our friends, our relatives. We become able, empowered to process and act differently.

The real magic in a learning environment lies around and in between these patterns. Maybe we need more protocol cycles in between for more nuance to really describe it as it’s nearly seems a binary. I am trying to help white people to not get too caught up in the model, but to intentionally form transformative friendships that result in deep cultural change in communities and healed hearts. The life is not just in the letters word connection, life thrives in the spaces between and around the letters also (the “white” of the page).

Gatherings like these aren’t rounding up all the woke white people to celebrate how our minds have been renewed by the Spirit. It is in that very renewal process by the Spirit in which we co-investigative, co-stimulate and co-animate.¬†If we are going to have good faith conversations about reparations or restitution in the USA, we need to transform our thoughts and deeds, and help others to do likewise.

For example, if institutions or individuals want to explore how they can deploy the assets that they own (a piece of land, well paying job opportunity, money, buildings, etc) — that would be a much more fun conversation. Several of us can personally introduce you or your community to high impact relational opportunities to deploy them. If redistribution of personal and community wealth is indefinitely off the table for you or your organization, please see figure 2 above because you probably still have some crusties in your eye.¬†

 

Back to Europe: Pilgrimage highlights

I got back last night from two amazing weeks in Europe. Much love and thanks to my hosts in London, Copenhagen, Krak√≥w, Bilbao, and the Yorkshire Dales! Gratitude for the flexibility of my family and the generous contributions of my financial partners!¬†I took the photo above in Krak√≥w on the Beratek Footbridge. These are two of the nine gravity-defying sculptures by Jerzy Kńôdziora.¬†

robocop brexit
Robcop was part of the throngs at the , mostly urging this vote of no confidence in the PM.

London has five airports and I got to spend time at three of them. Their public transit (the tube) is the best I’ve ever experienced. It’s a huge city with a ton of history, current political tensions, creativity, and great food. My friends Dan & Emily live in North London, Bounds Green stop off the Picadilly Line. We became friends when Dan lived at The Simple Way and Emily had relocated to Philly from Tennessee. These shapers of young minds moved to England a few years back, and I’m grateful for my opportunity to hang out with them and explore London a bit. While I was there, the UK voted to reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal. They are still legally obligated (a bigger deal in England than in the US) to leave the EU in March.

 

I first met my friend Mikael on the internet because of music over a decade ago. He’s an outrageous host and knows Copenhagen, Denmark well — with its histories, music, culture, and food. They take their craft beer really serious. He showed me Freetown Christiania, a

Christiana mural.JPG
A 19 acre parcel surrounding a pond in downtown Copenhagen, Christiania is home to a number of awesome murals with its shops, cafes, and indoor skatepark

1,000 person commune began as a squat of a former military base since 1971. I saw houses and neighborhoods lived in by Hans Christian Andersen and S√łren¬†Kierkegaard. He also organized for a spiritual meetup to explore white supremacy during Donald Trump’s infamous presidency. We gathered on¬†Klavs Nars Holm, as its name suggests a small island north of Copenhagen named after the legendary jester of King Valdemar IV. About a dozen friends rent the small house, one of two structures on the football field-sized mass.

 

Time in Poland was literally a dream come true. Having friends in Kraków (who write travel journals in Polish and English) helped me maximize my week in country. Garrett and

krak mound selfie
Krakus Mound is the region‚Äôs premier prehistoric treasure, going deep into the mythological past. Built as a tomb to honor the great king Krak (founder of Krak√≥w), people carried dirt and sand in their sleeves for miles to construct it. With Wanda Mound (3rd photo) built for his famous daughter, they synch on equinox sunrises/sunsets. They form an equilateral triangle (6miles) with Wawel Hill ‚ÄĒ former home to the dragon.

Gosia were super fun to hang out with. He’s an expat from Pennsylvania and she grew up in Krak√≥w, where they work together and raise their two children. All of my father’s grandparents came to the US from Poland about 100 years ago. My family research hit several dead ends, but being present in their region (Lesser Poland or Galicia) was powerful. I encountered stories, food, language, and in ways that moved me at the core.

I saw some street art that rivals any I’ve seen in the world in Krak√≥w. Poland is the eastern edge of Central Europe and shares a lot of history with the peoples it borders, notably with Lithuania. I spent some time in Warsaw, the largest city and capital as well as in the Northwest in Szczecin.

Polish people are very religious compared to their European counterparts. Christianity came to Poland in 966 and 87% of the country’s inhabitants are still Catholic. Around 80% of them go to mass every week. While the borders have changes frequently over the past 500 years, retaining the language and Catholicism helped them remain distinct from the Protestant Germans and Orthodox Russians.

I met up with two artistic collaborators of mine in Bilbao, Spain. We rocked out in Querétaro, Mexico where Pedro has lived for the past few years. This time we got to

Bilbao .JPG
For one euro you can go to the photo booth and get added to the big screen slideshow at AZKUNA¬†ZENTROA — a breathtaking building that houses community space, a library, glass-floored swimming pool, and more.¬†

adventure in Basque Country, in Leyre’s hometown. Next time, Philadelphia!! We walked around Bilbao and the surrounding areas, highlighted by the Nervi√≥n river crossings. We ate pintxos and saw lots of art — including the Guggenheim Museum. The signage is mostly in euskara¬†(Basque)¬†and Spanish, and a lot of people speak both. It rains a ton, and was mostly wet during our days. Like much of Europe (and North America??), there is a rising xenophobic racialized nationalism, which also calls forth resistance movements — regional and national. Fascism isn’t a term that they throw around, as the remnants of authoritarian conservative dictatorship still haunt the political landscape.

I was able to return to the UK

hawes.jpg
This is the beck (river) that runs at the edge of my friends’ yard. You can get a glimpse of a fen and a dale.

one more time for a few nights. It was an opportunity to spend time in the countryside and breathe in the fresh air of the Yorkshire Dales. Andy, Emily, and their family live in a gorgeous 18th century converted church schoolhouse where they both work in various writing projects. We spent time walking across the hills and valleys, eating the best fish and chips (fried in beef lard), and visiting the famous Wensleydale cheese operation. These few villages are within the Yorkshire Dales National Park system. It was refreshing to see limits on development, including most of the 18th century stone structures being maintained.

While the church in England is shrinking, it’s not all to the extent of this gorgeous and rural area. Church of England sites that have been used for worship for a thousand years with gorgeous 300 year old chapels are mostly vacant. Small methodist churches are closing. I worshipped with a dozen Methodist folks where Andy and I were the only people under 70. We brought the kids to a Sunday school in the afternoon, with about 10 kids. That’s typical for the region. Many folks in England still identify as Christian, but fewer and fewer remain active in a gathering community.

hardrawforcejg
I’m that blue dot behind the falls of Hardraw Force,¬†the breathtaking waterfall made famous in the States by Kevin Costner’s nude buttocks in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Before I returned home, I spent one more evening in London. I met up with my old friend Jenny, who spent a few months cumulatively in the US a decade ago. Her music career has been taking off — check out her awesome project Rookes¬†(The Heel of My Hand is a good starter). We ate curry and talked about newer church movements, queerness in those movements, and all sorts of creative endeavors from podcasting to music gear to approaches to songwriting.

Before my flight I got to check out Hyde Park — particularly the Peter Pan statue and Kensington Palace. My amateur baseball club, the Kensington Royals, often gets tagged on social media by people actually trying to tag the aristocrats living in these illustrious quarters. It’s often very funny.

I’m grateful for so many things to still need to reflect and process. I feel enormously blessed by friends in these places (and others I couldn’t get to this time) that opened their homes. I could not have done it without the generosity and faith of my financial partners who sent me.

 

 

Pivot Pilgrimage Two: back to Europe

I’m about take a trip I’ve been wanting to make for as long as I remember. My earliest memories are of living multi-generationally in the Polonia¬†District (East Side) of Buffalo. I have Polish names — family last names as well as nicknames. I’ve come to the part of my vocational pivot for the second pilgrimage (17 days), exploring some European places and roots. My first pilgrimage led me 15,000 miles across North America, the third is with mentors on the west coast, the final is wilderness time.¬†Top image is a tree’s roots in Krakow, photo by @TomaszBorysiuk.¬†

Playing decolonization can be fun. I enjoy dismantling and challenging whiteness, whether it’s identity and narrative in a personal sense or contributing to the analysis, pedagogy, or praxis to the movement of de-centering whiteness while rooting out white supremacy.

winged hussar one
An actor with all the Winged Hussar swag, Poland’s legendary calvary.

What does it mean to be Polish? Existentially, I’ve always been Polish. I’ve heard every Polish joke (in the US, people make jokes about how stupid Poles are). Well, I’m also a cis white male American, 100 years in the US has offered many privileges with it. I don’t speak much Polish at all, can only cook basic holiday food, and have lived a mile from the Polish neighborhood of Philadelphia since 1999. But am I a real Polish person?¬†I know about Polish Americans in the US, but not much about back in Polska. I’m learning now about the history and especially last 100 years since my ancestors came over. That’s only from my dad’s lineage as my mom was adopted from Irish/Scottish/English people. Most of my Polish relatives are back 9in Western New York. I want to explore our narrative and stories. I want to touch the land, hear the language, eat the food, and enjoy exploring my family history.¬†Did Poles really attack WWI tanks with swords on horseback? Is that why we are stupid if they did? If you’re white, what stereotypes are there about your peoples? Ever try to find out where they came from and why it helps whiteness to continue them or not?¬†

I’ll be in Poland for a week. Krakow will be my base, with a lovely Polish/American family. I’ll get to see where Smok Wawelski¬†(Wawel dragon) lived, and maybe find out whether it was¬†Krakus¬†that smote him. I’ll spend two days in Szczecin (maybe where my paternal great grandfather was from), where I’ll do some travel blogging for my Polish friends. I’ll also get to take a bus to the village Mielec, where my maternal great grandmother was from.

I’ll get to visit the countryside of England for a few nights, and will enjoy intergenerational fish n chips. I’ll also get to hang with friends in London for a few nights. Flying from Philly, London is by far the cheapest place to get to and from Europe, utilizing multiple airports.¬†Look kids — Big Ben, Parliament.

My friend in Copenhagen first invited me to visit close to 20 years ago. I look forward to seeing this place and people that has formed some of my closest friends and music dudes. I also have the opportunity to facilitate some conversations with some cool Danes about white supremacy, Trump, and Indigenous/Settler relations.

My Mexican and Spanish artistic collaborators who I recently visited in Mexico will be in Bilbao, Spain. I’m fascinated by Basque Country, and can’t wait to roll with such creative people in a beautiful place for a few nights.

sleeping monarchs.jpg
These sleeping monarchs are in Mexico. I missed seeing them there, and couldn’t find any overwintering near Big Sur, CA when I was there recently.

I’ve been contemplating the monarch butterflies and their four-generation annual migration over the past few years. Their east coast North American migration takes three generations to fly south, eating their milkweed, laying eggs, and dying. Their larvae turn into caterpillars who enjoy chrysalis, eat some milkweed and fly south. That happens again until the third generation overwinters in Mexico. When the fourth generation emerges, they make the flight North over only a few weeks back to Canada. They repeat this every year, although our wetlands are in danger of disastrously disrupting these important pollinators. Please allow more milkweed to grow, East Coast!¬†

It’s been three generations since my Polish ancestors came East. I’m completing one monarch butterfly cycle, in a way. Hopefully my actual Polish babies benefit from it. I have dreamt about wading out into the Baltic Sea on a cold, gray day. There I reach my open hands towards the heavens. And then see what happens.

If you want to join me more closely on this journey, please consider making a donation towards the cost. While it’s way cheaper than I originally schemed (with the whole family), airfare and food will be around $2,000.¬†

Salience from my North American pilgrimage

I’ll be reflecting my recent journey for a long time — it was epic! It was pilgrimage one of four on this vocational pivot I’m undertaking. Here are five bubbles that keep rising during my reflective sessions. I hope they help good things emerge on your journeys.

I have been asked about liminality a lot by my friends, because frankly they are wondering what I’m gonna do vocationally after this transition. I’m truly grateful to have this set aside time right now that is special time. I’ve most often experienced liminal space in ceremony — like a sweat lodge, baptism, personal retreats, etc. You know when you’re going to enter, and about when you will leave liminal time. You release to the Great Mystery what happens in the space and how you experience the time. Around the coming of Spring (March this year) Martha and I will make some big decisions around my work situation. Until then, I’m embracing the present moment and doing a deep dive towards the past.¬†I shot the triptych above in a forbidden tunnel out west. This spiritual journey is like a tunnel but more like the birth canal, the journey itself is an active participant.

screen shot 2019-01-10 at 4.47.27 pm
Berthoud Pass, Colorado

While gawking at the Rockies near Denver as well as the Sierra Madres near¬†Quer√©taro, I gleaned some gifts from my photographer friends. Your eye is the best camera you will ever use. I probably knew that intuitively, as I technology often doesn’t actually enhance. Your eye can hold at least seven times as many focal lengths as the best cameras in the world — with a amazingly wide vignette focus to boot. My selfies with mountains are one focal length, and scarcely brushed up against the magnificence of the landscape.

 

A whole heap of us have been socialized and educated, the colonization of our minds, to think that when relating to creation, we are the ordained masters. We think the earth is for us, rather than we belong to the earth. Practicing new ways of relating can open up learning new ways of knowing. When hanging our with a mustang out in Navajo country, I learned some good foundational lessons for husbandry; the horse is bigger, stronger, and smarter than you. If she wants to impose her will on you, she will. You don’t need stern cruelty to control the horse, you befriend one another. Some humility helps. Fear, not so much. Knowing a place and the life therein can happen in various ways, but when we submit to creation as our teacher and even mother, we can discover learning in ways that heal, reconnect, and open our imaginations.

Being back at home has been very restorative for me. I’m very rooted in family. Making the time and effort to connect yields blessing manifold. The holidays were full of good

screen shot 2019-01-10 at 4.51.28 pm
Lily was almost named Applejack Amazing Grace. Some days she wishes we would have.

times together. I cherished my one-on-one time with Martha, Helena, and Lily as well as my three brothers and our blessed mother. My in-laws live 20 minutes away in South Jersey and I got to see 12 of my 16 nieces and nephews and their cool parents. I feel surrounded by blessing, grateful for such a web of relatedness that believes in each other with love. A dozen or so friends have even donated money to this crowd funded vocational pivot. Staying by the gifts of friends truly fills my heart. My most impressive quality most certainly is my social networks.

My family shares hospitality as a value. We know its transforming power, and have the honor to play host to our rather impressive network of friends. We have learned so much and been blessed by the gifts of our guests many times over for any effort or cost it took. Being a good guest takes practicing humility, honor, and respect. It’s also way cheaper and more fun.

As I make final preparations for pilgrimage two: back to my Polish roots, I look back on

dragon highway
This is Priscilla, the Yreka dragon in California. Soon I will visit the lair of the Wawel dragon in Krakow!

the past few months with awe and gratitude. If you will be in Poland during January, hit me up so we can hang! If you have Polish quests or want to nerd out about Szczesniak/Pacynnski family trees or if you are down with Krakow, Mielec, or Szczecin…holla at your boy.

 

 

On completing Pivot Pilgrimage 1 of 4

JG ATL
Joshie in ATL above. Header image is a photo I took of the path up Mt. Ryan in Joshua Tree — it’s everything I ever wanted in a stock photo of “spiritual journey,” “pilgrimage,” etc.

Music, conversations, silence, and solitude largely shaped experiences over the past two months, but none as profoundly as the landscape. I got to experience a lot of it with my own senses. Turtle Island amazes me and evokes wonder at every turn. I’m deeply grateful for the privilege and support in this deep web of relatedness that I get to enjoy here.

 

These past few months were thoroughly a delight, and I’m glad to be back home. Even aspilgrimage 1 - PHL to OV.png I’m planning the next pilgrimages, I’m enjoying some rest and renewal for a few weeks.¬†Conservatively, this first pivot pilgrimage¬†lasted 61 days, 14,710 miles in the rental car with (250 driving hours). Then I stayed with mostly with friends, collaborators, relatives, and mentors as well as camping a few nights and half a dozen Air BNBs.

Many places and people are near and dear to my heart, although often far geographically. I got to spend quality time with a lot of people I love and love me, even though I was passing between them solo. We talked of love, imagination, music, land, watersheds, worldview, God, ways of knowing, permaculture design, relatedness, radical discipleship and it’s a pleasure to see awesome people in their home contexts being awesome.

pilgrimage 1 -- OV to PHLMany places were also quite new to me. I got to visit or pass through multiple reservations and nations, being seen outside my normal context. I had my usual privileges around language and culture arrested or suspended. We talked about music, dreams, old wisdom, lessons from places, horses, crypto currency, innovation, fires, migrant caravans, neoliberalism, and I am formed by the hospitality of people and peoples I enjoyed.

This wasn’t a linear journey and wasn’t meant to be. While in this vocational pivot, I’m appreciating these months to not have the future figured out. Time in liminal space is closer to ceremonial time. Each of these four pilgrimages hope to be like four rituals in the same ceremony. Upon their completion I’ll be better prepared to make decisions about life after March 2019. Until then, it’s a heavy duty input with periods of deep rest and reflection…but I digress.

More specific tales and ponderings to come…but I did get a paid DJ gig in Mexico and put out my first two DJ mixtapes.¬†I saw remains of ancient cities, bathed in geysers and hot springs, hiked at 13,000 feet, got my front tooth fixed, recorded a few interviews, walked with goats, hung out with a real wild Navajo mustang, sat in on classes at multiple universities, saw dozens of shooting stars, got on a few podcasts, and saw the sun come up more times than the rest of my life combined.

Thank you, Creator, for such a wonderful creation. Thanks to Mother Earth for so much good soil, plants, and food. Thank you to my family for your support and flexibility. Thank you to all my partners — in prayer, gifs/texts/calls, in hospitality, in reaching out. Special thanks to those who are journeying alongside me financially, I could not have completed this trip without your generosity and cannot make the other three pilgrimages without crowdsourcing from my peeps.

 

 

 

Parched places empathizing with the rain

I love it here the Ventura River watershed. Since 2012 I’ve come for a week or so every year. Even with proximity with the Pacific, this is a parched place. Amidst scorched¬† drought, the river has been dry and the lake holds around 30%. Orchards are dying. Until yesterday, when it started raining.

When you are used to an abundance of water like me, it takes some imagination to begin to understand the frustration and longing of a dry place. Ecological crisis lies before you D ponchoevery day. The ash from the fires makes the ground impermeable to rain, making the mudslides worse when it does. We love the rain but we’re disappointed in it because it’s not doing its job, it’s not enough, the water mixed with so much ash is a shitstorm, and by the way we need more rain, not less. But when the rain falls, it’s a phenomenon. Every living thing notices.

Still, these parched places understand with how the rain must feel. Water resiliency here takes a lot of work. I’m awed by the sensational connection between water and a dry place. It’s a ten minute dance of reciprocity and gratitude between partners longing for one another, followed by rays of sunshine and a deep sigh of relief.

To bear witness to this flow is to know my own soul as a parched place at times. Prayer helps me live conscious of the water I do have, including what’s underground that I can’t see. I’m grateful to experience trickles of grace. Sometimes those trickles turn into downright flow.

—————–

parched places resound

bated breath slowly sipping

all living things drink

 

Beloved Mexico: The fastest 10 days of my life

I first met Eli & Pedro during our Carnival de Resistance‘ Minneapolis residency in 2016 they each urged me to visit. When we were painting murals during the Phila residency this past summer and hanging out at my house — they were like “seriously bro, you need to come South.”¬†The mural above by INTI is on the side wall of the La Cruz, the mercado in Quer√©taro near my friends’ house.¬†

10 days was the longest I could manage on this first pilgrimage. In some ways it felt so fast, but in terms of connection and learning it felt like years. Many of my preconceived notions about Mexico were pretty off base. Besides the thing about tacos…people eat a lot of them and I completely understand why (inexpensive and delicious).¬†I drove down and then back up, a vast distance that was not easy. While I would do it again and recommend it despite mucho gringo surprise/fear/warning, if you are gonna do it — hit me up and I’ll share some pro tips that will be very useful.¬†

Dia de Muertos lasts for days. I was in DF so kids (and sometimes adults) are constantly in costumes and receive candy or change from passersby, drivers at a red light, shops,

massacre
Besides cultural and spiritual dimensions, Dia de Muertos encompasses the political as well. This was part of a 30′ x 20′ diorama depicting an atrocity by the gov’t — Tlatelolco massacre 10/2/68.

and homes. The festival downtown was similar to Halloween in Philadelphia if it happened on the 4th of July while also being midnight of Y2K, only more chill and without random fist fights. More of the graveyard stuff happens out in the towns, where a lot of people make their annual trek.

Most neighborhoods in DF are 10x cleaner than Philly, and people share the responsibility of tidying up their block. Even the traffic medians and on-ramps are full with local plants. Every block is lined with trees. Pretty much all of the trees/hedges are artfully cared for — at least in every neighborhood, town, and city I visited. My soul sister Eli Sanchez Cano works internationally in tattoo, murals, and illustration. My new friend/her parter Alejandro Briones works an actor and directs inspiring films of the human spirit. Eli is coming to NYC/Philly in January — hit me if you want her info for a tattoo appointment!¬†They will both be in LA for June/July so I’ll be trying to put them in touch with my SoCal peeps.

We visited some pyramids! Over 100,000 people lived in Teotihuacan before European contact. These pyramids live onTeotihuacan.jpg to both evoke wonder and as a MesoAmerican statement of humanity. — Indigenous people of this continent (yes, Mexico is one of the 23 countries in North America) didn’t need Euros at all to create, innovate, or develop lasting technology and medicine.

Tequisquiapan is one of the “magical villages” of Mexico. It’s a place I think most US Americans would especially dig because of the cuteness of the downtown, fancy shops, amazing food, and friendly people. It’s also a home for ceremony where some Mexicans explore their preColumbian spiritual traditions in dialogue with Christian traditions. I respect such decolonizing spaces, and feel honored to have been invited into the brackish waters with friends and las abuelas.

of Dimitri QRO
Me squatting before a mural OF the Bulgarian Butterfly Dimitri Kadiev in Hércules, Queretaro

I knew very little about Quer√©taro before transgressing the US Southern border. Its history reminds me of the Holy Experiment that founded my neighborhood and city. UNESCO’s world heritage committee protects the colonial downtown, which although ironic keeps the city’s center pretty dreamy and robust with art. Celebration of creativity is everywhere. Museums, galleries, and most restaurants/shops regularly showcase high quality art. The neighborhood called H√©rcules¬†is a good example of how communities come together. It is pretty much the ‘hood, and as of 2014 it is home to dozens of spectacular murals along the main drag. Mi¬†hermano Pedro Ramirez Suarez mobilizes such murals, illustrates, and tutors me in my Spanish cussing. His partner Leyre Arin is a photographer from Spain. They will both be in Chicago/Philly this summer, and warmly offered a place for me to stay in Bilbao if I can make it to Europe this winter.

Personal notes: a huge highlight for me was DJing at a club in Querétaro that my boy Pedro hooked up. Eli came up from DF (she also put a really dope tattoo on me the next

pena de bernal
We also visited la Pe√Īa de Bernal, one of the largest monoliths in the world and its surround village. I got to witness weaving at a family run textile store and walk the pilgrims’ path up to the Pe√Īa. The way is flanked by shops, and on weekends is packed with people making the healthy hike as well as restaurants and shops.

morning) and we danced for hours. Although most of the party did not know most of my “hits” that I threw in there (Lauryn Hill, Seal, etc) I leaned heavy on new¬†stuff that I picked up on the recs from friends (reggaeton/trapeton). I hope more of such opportunities emerge over the next month on my way back home!

Bonus pro tip: Get dental work done in Mexico. It’s like 15% of the US cost. I had the best dental experience of my life (friendliness, professionalism, quality)¬†by a wide margin.

Lastly, I want to express my gratitude for the privilege to make the journey. Crossing the US/Mexico border multiple times while the caravan is heading North towards US soldiers/barbed wire humbles me. I not only was able to cross both directions with very minimal imperial entanglements, but I am experiencing the support and generosity of international webs of relatedness. Thanks to