Ghettomorphosis: As we transform so do our streets and systems
Chewy cocoon like syllables in utero. Headphones-on-outloud-rap-down-the-street alphabet-soup-I-am-stirring. I recall the spray paint scrawled on Son’s Laundromat that got scrubbed awhile back:
“something is happening”
Doodling on the threshold of Momo in 2005 with Lezlie Silverstein,
/ In the Get To In the Get To Get /
this concept (which embodied the gritty-funky bootstrap-up way of letting the day-to-day be soul school) came to sit on my lap: I have chosen to live consciously on the south side of St Louis because the chords I feel thrumming my neighborhood are the same ones that play my own evLovution into place.
micro, meet Macro –
Beyond savior and welfare, beyond gunshots and hipsters, way beyond the polarized blame game.
“Say: ‘I am you’”
A new game, a new pattern forming – deep change from within
Beyond “hairs done nails done everything did” :::: soulshined, teeth flossed, entirely-off-the-grid
A Eureka feel that grins in shared glances with strangers – - Homegrown, humble-scaled, faith-led, heartfed
Toward native transformation-ing: Native means local. Native means natural.
What bridges can the gossamer threads of my own soul launch out to land?
Letting deep truth spark, letting dark meet light and sniff each other out
On the other side of black and white / on the other side of yours and mine
let’s go there, own our own potential and wise up to our worth
Releasing the script of struggle/ fail/ market/ crash/ hide/ busy/ buy/ get by
Improvise more interesting and inclusive pathways.
Ghettomorphosis means casting a fresh way of city-building based in self-healing, power-sharing, nature-remembering. No rush. Just us.
Ghettomorphosis gives “gentrification” a playful spanking and takes back the keys please…. Tired of talktalktalking meetmeetmeeting pimppimppimping baby give me some PLaY!!!!
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2002…..Straight from smalltown upbringing and university learning, waking up at Bolo meant waking UP. Hello, Cherokee! Begun as a ‘living experiment’ in 1998 by Dann Green and company, Bolozone has been home to radical youth culture, travelers, and music in various phases of intention and maelstrom. The open doors, the dumpstered food, the cooking over the bonfire, the chopping wood, constant stream of train-hop punks, the regular flow of painting on walls during extended Sunday brunch . . . . all melded into the tweaky dips and dives of 4ms swash in the background tuned a sweet and scratcy “wtf You Ain’t in Kansas no more, beeyottch…..!”
I peered out beneath my friendly bourgeois affectations to feel my banshee and abstractions that wanted airtime. Wait that’s not what I was taught?! Judge, open, explore, judge, open, explore, Late Bloomer. I met gay people for the first time. Blush! I learned about compost. Goo! All the icing on my shutter-coop melted, and I blinked smiling crying like mascara-caked face…. Somebody put the plastic beauty pagenat runnerup in the oven! Born again again, Beginning to see the lite!!! – - – Ok, now do that again. Ok again – - til nothing synthetic remains.
From a seat of privilege, (‘twas beloved papa the “citizen of the year” small town lawyer and sweet momma hostess with the mostess), I tried on poverty as a way of being that eschewed “getting a job” in favor of working in the world in ways my gut designed and affirmed. I’m my own boss, and walking and talking to strangers is my work. Peace Pilgrim is my hero. Coming from a farm town where there was no “street” culture I embraced the friendly banter of the Globe Drug addicts – beneath the surface, the oral tradition — the only people who still have time for wordofmouth’ing.
Walk, walk, walk, alleys parks riverside, emptiness. Notice, walk, meet – I see pockets – why we keep it separated? Pay attention to what you pay attention to. Dumpster world, I find trash is treasure. Why we waste so much? I collect dried worms and weave in the gutters. Oh. It was yanked out of somebody’s head. I see this fighting is also dancing. I want to dance, but I don’t like to fight. Am I afraid of anger? Yoga on the roof of CAMP to the sounds of the Powerhouse church drifting up. Now the powerhouse church is dormant – the faceless building with the chandelier room open that the truck crashed into. Things change.
We learn, we grow, it feels slow. All the characters play ‘their part’ and wink at each other behind stage. Hello Shirley Wallace! I am you. Hello punk conspiracy-theorist skateboarder! I am you. Hello business casual small-business association workaholic! I am you. Hello grinny-idealist anarchist baker! I am you. Hello aldermen! I am….. working on it.
One gallery, one coffee shop, one parade, more. Bit by bit, the street fills up and the bzz of community we love spurs the momentum toward. Oh Alive Sauce Feast Trend oh glossy glossy. Respect: The work of the “pioneers” – Lemp Neighborhood Art Center, Fort Gondo, Rio Grande, the Buddhist temple, the Franciscans . . . . Of Course Globe and more. Every layer adds a gift, a flavor, an excitement about what they ‘found’ – - - though not necessarily an informed respect or deference for those that built before. We love to be discoverers. We hunger for the authentic Find. I do. Spelunk! I finally understand how ‘the old guard’ was annoyed by my ‘hey I got a great project idea!’ antics. I apologize for times when sheer enthusiasm mid-brainstorm blinded me from truly seeing or listening to you. We all want our wisdom to be valued, not squeezed out or scorned from a table that used to have room for us. More chairs! Or more ways to share meaning than meetings.
Across the street I see Cute hipster gallop, gulp. I do want to shed my ego tweaks and I don’t want to engage the same argument – whimper, is gentrification bad? It is what it is. How about: Is it the pattern we want to set in motion? Is it the most interesting shape that includes all of our giftings and best interests? And who is all – bloggers and musicians? –mamas and bus stoppers? Who has their hand on the trimtab control? What tools do we have to bring greater awareness into the power lines, and engage compassion as a lubricant for our ‘business’/’political’ goals? What’s our working definition of profit? Are we building a hip hangout or a healthy home-for-all? Are the two mutually exclusive?
The past five years on Cherokee have been beautiful learning for me, and now I am plain ansty. Rebelling against the Red Plastic Cup. I feel my attention waning like the thing I want to hone and offer is not for here or now . . . . Lately I can’t work up the mojo to go to out to shows or stand in bars or participate in the scene as it is developing. And so I grow out of touch. I am not even big on numbers, but I just see math problems in my head: 2 beers X $4 X 120 people = $960 X 3 nights a week = more than enough to remodel the bike shop; or 9-2am = 5hrs X 10 nights/mo = 50 hrs I could be . . . . <insert healthful habit here> . . . Not at all that music isn’t sacred, or that it has to be either or, I am just hugely hungry for shapes without stages and hierarchies, for relationships without the falseness or enabling of addiction, hungry for shapes that woo and shapeshift the elephants in the room, the kinks in our necks, the illusion that we are separate. I want to cultivate diversity, sobriety, honesty, simplicity, serendipity, & compassionate touch.
It sounds simple and vulnerable spoken: I want to wake up to my potential, live into my full health, heal my shit and support others who want to do the same. I want to invest my love and energy into the waking up that the planet is smack dab in the middle of, fully engaged in the material realm while apprehending and fluent in the spiritual. I entirely believe we can create a new economy and new educational pathways. I entirely believe we can all produce and eat healthy food if we want to. I entirely believe that as we give up the myth of “but I have to have this job“ we’ll stop propping up ways of being that are ready to give over into the new thing. Retire I want, I believe. Enter I am. I am naïve, but I am available. I am open to loving critique and difficult mirrors that point out my shadow and directions for growth. I am brave and willing to work. I am useful and I offer all that I am.
So my current work is snapping out of the “one day it will come….”, feeling and living it Now, embodied. Being in the “Something is happening!” and empowered in my present choices. I know IT is happening all over in this city in sprouts and sparks, that I laud and applaud and hope to loop back into…. GYA Women Create, the JUICEbox, all the community gardens, Kundalini @ 2720, NODhouse, the new food co-op, bike pizza delivery, galore! But as is I need to break: TO Shake the shackles I’ve grown, from practicing STLstruggle. I sense I’m not connecting here the ways I’m woo’ed ….so now here I go, to get my soul pores open, to see mature projects in motion in a different context, to remember how to commune/icate with nature.
As I look around, I realize that I haven’t built yet the skills I need to embody the vision that I’d love to bring to this district. First step – the confidence and discipline to even ask them forth. Next week I’m off on sabbatical for a handful of months to be about ghettomorph’ing my own soul — continuing to transform my own being to align with the reality I want to usher in. As I set out, my intentions are :
‡ To embody my body! Through biking, dance, yoga
‡ To seek out inspiring intentional communities & take in their shared practices
‡ To live radically playful equality and compassion with all beings
‡ To enjoy serendipity : I am exactly at the right place right time.
‡ To practice art as authentic expression, borne from whatever ingredients & collaborations are present
This year has been such sweet preparation for this turning. Encountering a love that calls out the best in me and accepts me foibles included, feeling the CAMP project apartment form into a true family with amazing and powerful women, entering the Possibility Alliance atmosphere to get my concept of what’s possible shaken, learning how to say No to outward responsibilities and projects in order to hear and heed the inner work. To all my beloveds I have hardly seen since I withdrew in June to studio-land, I look forward to another go-round and smiling at your eye-shine in the home fires.
Thanks all you beings so Be-ing. For seeding what you love here, and nurturing it.
To all the people letting our combined practice marks make a symphony of ‘here we are doing our best.’
And it is good enough.