Oct 29, 2008

Pug puppies in SF and Wells-Next the-Sea

Right now I'm on a field study in Wells-next the-Sea, a small town on the east coast of England. We're doing vegetation transects along dunes and salt marshes to learn a bit about field studies and the hell of statistics. We've been inordinately lucky with the weather: It was supposed to sleet today but it's blue and crisp. Fall is so beautiful here.

Like with our trip to Snowdonia, I'm thrilled to be out of London for a minute. We'll be back on Halloween night though!

In the spirit of Free School and infoshops, my coursemates and I have decided to do some skillshares among ourselves. We nearly unanimously feel that we need more guidance in our course, so we're going to guide each other where we feel the program is lacking. We have to do a lot of group presentation work, so those of us with public speaking experience are going to hold a workshop to help out people who lack that experience. Likewise, the Excel gurus are offering to teach the rest of us the tricks of the clicks.

I'm excited to see the others on the course take to these ideas. While academia tends to generate hierarchical relationships among students (grade rankings, scholarship awards, internship placement), this is an opportunity to focus less on competition and more on mutualism. I much prefer this approach of taking everyone to the desired level of knowledge and skill, rather than thinking that only some of us can achieve the objectives set for us.

Also wanted to mention for my SF Bay area readers that Pooches' Playtime has 10 puppies and a momma dog up for adoption at the moment. Some are pugs and others are mixes, including the mother. Check out the pics here or a short video here. Pooches' Playtime always has foster dogs for adoption so keep them in mind in the future as well.

Oct 18, 2008

Really Really Free Market Saturday, 10/25 Dolores Park ... and Coming to a London Location Soon!

If you're in the Bay, you're encouraged to attend the Really Really Free Market next Saturday, October 25th. RRFM runs from about 12-5 in Dolores Park. Look for the banner under the palm trees on the Dolores St. side, across from 19th.

This SF RRFM will also be a memorial celebration of the life and passions of our friend, Kirsten Brydum. As always, everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. Though Kirsten was killed nearly a month ago, her spirit will be reflected in the gathering at the market. Kirsten was a core organizer of the monthly event, and her mark on SF RRFM is indelible. As someone far from all of the memorials and wakes that have brought friends together to mourn, I'm glad to know that one day I'll be back at the Really Really Free Market in Dolores Park, where I'm sure to feel the solidarity and positivity that Kirsten poured into that community. And I'll see where our collective creativity collided and all that grew autonomously from it.

We all have something to share. You can bring a teapot, pair of shoes, recipes or seeds. Share a skill or a talent: Play a song or teach origami. Share words and smiles and futures. Leave your money at home. Give because it's something we're born to do, not because you expect anything back. You'll leave with something, even if you go home with empty hands. If you like the Compact, RRFM is a natural procession.

And if you're in London and you want to see RRFM here, then help me find a central, indoor (?) space to put it on. I've looked and haven't found a local RRFM. I could be wrong, but to my knowledge, there is no regular market here. I'd like to bring together at least one, sometime this winter. If you'd like to help, or even just to say that you might be willing to come or tell people about it, then be in touch! My email is available via the profile page. Several of my amazing coursemates have offered to help, having listened to me talk about RRFM and Kirsten. Now that I'm definitely staying for the course (hurray for having a home!), I would like to make this happen.

In related events, my new living situation is sweet. My new housemates are kind and welcoming. Tonight we shared a delicious vegetarian meal after a walk around the neighborhood. I mentioned that I need to find a daypack for my next field study they produced one! They're shuffling a lot of things around as they change their house around to accommodate a third person. This bag may have been destined for the donate pile.

Anyone have thoughts on used wellies? I might try Freecycle, but I hate the idea of riding my bike all over London's 609 square miles in search of grimey boots that might not fit. Maybe I'll go to a shop to determine my wellie size and then hit up Gumtree and Freecycle. Because really, now that I'm stable, there's no excuse for not figuring out how to find things used.
Really. Really. Free.

Oct 15, 2008

Finally!

I succeeded in finding a room tonight! I've been looking hardcore for weeks but tonight I found something really cool. I'm going to be living with two women in East Dulwich. They have a wonderful house that was their family home, but their kids are off at university. I thought they might be my people because they responded to my ad (Vegetarian Animal Lover Needs a Room) with an email from their dog, Dash. When I read Dash's email, I definitely got my hopes up.

There are cats and a rabbit in addition to Dash. It's going to be very helpful for me to be around so many animals! And the house is actually very quiet. I get the impression that I will be able to work there.

Although this place is about 3 times the size of the House of Green Cheese, it feels a lot like John and Rob's home. Dash instantly reminded me of Hunter, the Perry-Picciotto golden retriever. Dash is a very tall flat coat retriever. But more than the dog similarities, it was the decor that made me feel like I might be in Bernal: The furniture was so comfy and earthy. And it turns out, all used. These ladies are not compacting per se, but they have tried to buy second hand all year. Synchronicity? And they did what we all do during interviews about the Compact. They looked around and said, "yeah, all used". They built their own bookshelves, which climb to the high ceilings, stocked with old and new books of all genres.

I really like them! I move in on Saturday, so I think Sunday will be devoted to catching up in my course, finally.

Oct 13, 2008

Winding wearily through a fabulous network of friends

So my temporary housing runs out tomorrow... Where to next? Well, I'm sending my stuff one way, and myself another. Family folk, Matt and Marie, are taking my stuff in Finsbury Park. I'm not sure where I'll crash tomorrow. Most likely a hostel in Vauxhall. I have an interview down in Brixton tomorrow nite for a room so I don't want to pedal all the way back up to Clapton, where I'm offered a free spot. I think it'd be rude, really.

But I hope to have the housing nailed down by, hmm, well last week really. Luckily I have wonderful friends, supportive people. Though none of them has a truly spare room to offer up, they're willing to give of what they do have, be it time, resources, couches, or a hand moving my crap all over this sprawly town. I look forward to being in a position to give back. Maybe not directly or reciprocally, but in some way, to anyone. I think I miss my self sufficiency and the confidence that comes with it more than the hills of SF, perhaps because I'm certain that the latter still exist but am momentarily doubtful that I'll ever regain the former.

Still, I can't leave before the anarchist bookfair, can I? If I'm still house hunting on Saturday, I am definitely taking the afternoon off for the bookfair. Frankly, if Max hadn't mentioned it off-hand, I'd probably be heading out on Thursday. But given the opportunities presented by the bookfair (maybe finding housemates, but also the opportunity to refresh my brain/spirit), I can't see leaving until Sunday if I must.

In more Compact relevant news, I'm not shopping, either new or used, until I find a home. I've turned some hummus containers into tupperware and it's making my bag burst. That and the extra sugar and detergent that I ended up with after replacing stores in the crash pad. I'm almost ready to ditch the rest of my shit just because I'm sick of hauling it all over London. But I'm going to want those clothes when it gets cold, I think.

Oct 12, 2008

Back from Wales, RRFM, Pumpkin

I spent the past week in Wales looking at ecologically sensitive areas in Snowdonia National Park. Beautiful place, lotsa sheep, teddy bear cows, wiley goats, and some seemingly inbred ponies. It was helpful to get out of London to think a bit more clearly about things.

But now I'm back in London and all is the same. I have two viewings for housing this evening as indeed, I'm still without a place to live. My current crash spot is no longer mine as of Tuesday so I have to work something out or bail on this experience. London is ok and the program is ok, but neither wows me. We'll see how it goes.

In a land far far away - er, I mean San Francisco, the Really Really Free Market is approaching. Last Saturday of the month from 12-5 in Dolores Park, under the palm trees near Dolores at 19th. Check it out in honor of our friend, Kirsten. I truly wish I could be there. If I end up staying in London, I have recruited at least 3 folks to help me put together an RRFM here, but that's a long way off, after housing and papers!

Almost forgot to mention that Pumpkin the wonder pooch has a forever home. After being spayed and vaccinated, my dad dropped her off with Tracey, a rescue worker in Dallas, Georgia. Tracey took Pumpkin as a foster when no one else would. She found her a forever home on her own time, and for that, I'm truly grateful. Pumpkin was a stray for 2 months, then cared for by good folks for about a month. Now she's got a family.

Oct 1, 2008

With Love, Solidarity, and Deep Sadness

Yesterday I learned that kind and amazing Kirsten Brydum was shot to death in New Orleans last weekend. Word trickled back to the Bay Area slowly, and then reached me through a friend. I don't have much to say about Kirsten's death, except the obvious: This is completely fucked up and shouldn't happen to anyone, and particularly not to someone as compassionate and kind as Kirsten. Kirsten's father has started a lovely memorial page that you can find here.

There's lots to say about her life, and all the work Kirsten engaged in, including the Collective Autonomy Tour that took her to New Orleans. As I'm pretty alone in my sadness, here in London, I'm going to write about the woman I knew. The alternative is crying alone, or perhaps in the presence of a friend who didn't know her. For me, this is better.

I met Kirsten at the Really Really Free Market a couple of years ago. We were introduced by our mutual friend, Greg, who knew I was doing the Compact and that Kirsten was very involved in organizing the market. For a while, I only saw Kirsten at the monthly RRFMs, or read her words about the market in the list emails. She always emphasized that it is our market, and encouraged folks to engage. And slowly I started to feel like I was part of the RRFM, always in my own way, which is really really the only way to be a part of such a multi-faceted community.

I got to know Kirsten outside of RRFM, and mostly inside of Station 40, where we both worked on the Dirty Dove Infoshop with a beautiful band of other people. During the sewing basics workshop last fall, Kirsten taught me how to patch my own pants, using a sewing machine. She laughed just enough about my fear of the machine eating my fingers to loosen me up and make me receptive. Kirsten was primely suited to be my teacher in this skillshare. I hope I taught her something about SF ecology or kitty wound care in return.

Kirsten worked really hard for a lot of projects like Dirty Dove, that emphasized alternative economies or education. She put her energy into her principles, inspiring many of us to do the same. And she fleshed out those principles, addressing economics with RRFM, education with Dirty Dove, and even food with Access Cafe. Kirsten was engaged in a cross country journey, collating resources of alternative institutions, hoping "to network with people and connect projects" and "to facilitate research and resource sharing". Horribly enough, she was killed while trying to see the best of our communities.

I'm not going to see Kirsten smiling in sunny Dolores Park again, or help her with Shiloh, her cat. Our community has lost the great brilliance of her piercing brown eyes and whipsmart mind. To any friends reading this, I love you. And I'm so sorry to not be there with you.
in solidarity and with love and sadness,
rachel