Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Long Meander - leading to Future First: Women’s Congress for Future Generations

Russian River trip   photo by Mark Cohen
   I love river trips. Paddling canoes on the swift, sinuous rivers of Michigan, where I grew up. A 3 day raft trip on the Rogue in Oregon - those long smooth glides, then the rush and thrill of white water, and the guide yelling « Hard forward! » The boat trip down the wild part of the Mekong through the forested mountains of Laos, watching boat traffic, stopping at very scattered villages along the way. 
Rogue River  photo courtesy of RogerRiverVacations.com

        In Myanmar we went from the towns of Mawlamyine to Hpa On on a small river boat on the Thanylin - passing strange river craft, early morning fisher folk, the stupa of gilded temples - and the mountains known as dragon teeth. 

       This summer we took a ten mile canoe trip on the Russian river with our friends Judy & Mark. I like learning the ripple pattern on the water, and I like the feeling of the wind on my face  - and sometimes I like going fast. OK, full disclosure:

       Once Bill & I went up to Payette Lake in Idaho. We rented jet skis, overcoming our dislike of noise and pollution.  Bill tried out all kinds of maneuvers on his, but me? I wanted to see how far and fast I could go in one direction. So here I am trying to figure out if that’s a metaphor for my life or the life of the people in this country.
Early evening on the Mekong, Laos   photo by Bill Fulton
        For this country straight is the gate (and fast) and narrow is the path that leads to -success.  America is about climbing, and once I made it out of the mire I happily leveled off, stayed in the same teaching job and finally figured out how to do it fairly well - about 10 days before I retired.  You don’t have to do it that way, especially in community and small colleges, where you can become a dean, or even President. I had no impulse to do that.  Some might say I had no ambition, no drive. 

          Of course in my fantasies, I have great luck and talent. In one I received the award for Best Supporting Actresss. Why only Supporting? I was deliberately raised in humility, so Best Actress was out of the question, even in fantasy. Maybe I thought that all that acting out in my teens and twenties - OK, my thirties too - should pay off.          
        I practiced my speech while driving to the college, and when the college actually gave me a teaching award, I  gave a speech and thanked the entire support staff, especially Audio/Visual, who in fact, hadn’t shown up on time or delivered the right equipment for years. 

The first fantasy I remember occurred when I was around 4 years old.  I got my first bike, a three wheeler, and I rode around pretending to be the sheriff.  I never shot anyone, just rode fast (yes, in one direction) and imagined helping people who were in tough situations. (Full Disclosure: Last year for Halloween I bought a tin star and fastened it to my sweater.)

       But helping people in tough situations - that’s the part I am worried about. Who is going to help future generations? If you’ve graduated with hundreds of thousand of dollars in debt, can you afford to take a job teaching? Or join the Peace Corps or Ameri-corps? As we become a corporate state, who will care for the welfare of future generations? And what will the impact of climate change be on our grandkids? Will the result of the great climb upward be a landslide, a great inundation or a wildfire that will not end?
Thanylin River, Myanmar   photo by Bill Fulton
         There is a group who cares deeply for these questions: Future First: The Women’s Congress for Future Generations, whose concerns includes the Declaration of Rights Held by Future Generations, issues of collective liberation, interconnectedness in the climate justice movement, and examples of women leading direct actions for climate justice. I attended the Congress last year, and the learning and bonding and good work accomplished left me motivated and glowing for months.

        This year the Congress will be held in Minneapolis, November 6-9. Below is the poster, and you can check out the Future First website, http://wcffg.org/ I hope you will consider joining us - in the name of the children and grandchildren in our world - and future generations.







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