I went to the women’s march on Washington. I gathered with thousands and thousands of women, men, children, and dogs to say, “we are here. We are not going away. We deserve to be seen and heard. Listen to us. See us”. It didn’t seem to make a difference to #45 or any of his cronies. The only notice he gave that we were there was that he had more people attend his inauguration. Whatevs.
One of the chants was “show me what democracy looks like! THIS is what democracy looks like”. And we were joined in spirit and energy to demonstrate and advocate for democracy. We wanted to be heard that democracy was a reflection of the voices of all people. So far, our voices have not been heard by 45 but others are listening.
I reflect on that day and the politics that have transpired since the election. It doesn’t seem that our voices are being heard. It feels more like a dictatorship. It feels awful. I am continuing to do my part to advocate for justice and visibility and equality: postcards, faxes, emails, petitions, and phone calls. It feels good to do something actively to combat the injustices that are happening. It feels good to speak my concerns through these media but is there anything else I can do? Is there something right in my community that I can be doing? I believe there is more that each of us can do to show what democracy looks like; I believe that we can treat each other with kindness, respect, and truly see each other.
Let me break it down even further. We can model democracy in our everyday dealings. How did you feel when you saw #blacklivesmatter? Did you respond with #alllivesmatter? Are you a person that feels that by bringing notice to one demographic, it lessens your concern and care for other demographics? By saying #blacklivesmatter, it is acknowledging that blacks and people of color are treated differently when approached by people in authority or by the general public. #blacklivesmatters acknowledges the disparity and highlights the actions that need to happen. If we make the statement that #alllivesmatter or “I don’t see color”, we negate and minimize our colorful and wonderful differences. We “whitewash” all people and make us all homogenous. We devalue our cultural and ethnic differences.
Differences are not bad. They bring flavor to our world through foods and language and fashion. Differences bring in new perspectives and new ways to look at the world that can enhance our experience and our empathy. When we acknowledge differences in our cultures and upbringings and experiences, we recognize the value in diversity. We recognize that there are many ways to solve problems, cook foods, and handle situations. We acknowledge that our way is not the only way and there is always room to grow and improve. By recognizing differences, we show that we value and appreciate people, just the way they are, not the way we want them to be. We SEE them.
This same premise applies to women, men, and transfolks. We are all valuable. We all are unique. I have breasts, vagina, and have given birth 8 times. I homeschooled my children while they were growing up. I have unique needs and concerns. When I homeschooled my children, I went to gatherings and support groups for families with a lot of children. I also went to support groups for homeschooling moms. Other moms had less children. Other moms sent their kids to school. Is there anything wrong with these differences? NO! They are just different. One choice is not better than the other in these instances, they are just different and both valuable and present different needs and concerns.
Likewise, I am a woman born woman. I was born with a vagina. I am a woman. A transwoman may or may not have a vagina. Is one better or more valuable than the other? NO! It is just different and unique. Neither one is more worthy of respect, equal treatment under the law, or more valuable. They are both unique. Both present with privilege, pain, struggles, and triumphs. Neither is more deserving of better treatment and equality and consideration. Both deserve recognition of their uniqueness and their special needs and concerns. Both are valuable. Both deserve to be recognized, honored, and cherished. Both present with special needs. Both deserve to have their space and their needs embraced and treated well. But just like saying #alllivesmatters negates the intention and the recognition of the special needs of the #blacklivesmatter movement, by not recognizing the need and desire to gather among likeminded and bodied individuals, you are negating an experience that is not your own.
How are you?
I'm sure you don't remember me.
I remember you.
I saw you when you walked the trails in the dust from our headlamps as we walked home from night stage.
I see you when we are out and about and you see me. I SEE YOU.
I see you online. I SEE you in groups with your love and joy and pain. Throughout the year as we miss each other and miss being together.
I see you when we hurt over the way the world has gone from bad to worse when we thought we had started some momentum and made some strides.
I saw you when we marched recently and gathered together: a sea of women, still wanting to change the world.
I read your posts and listen to your work. You are amazon. You are fearless and fierce. You are compelling and profound and we would be so honored and thrilled if you would consider sharing your wisdom and power at Michigan Framily Reunion 2017.
Now MWMF has ended but the spirit of August lives in all of us. We were each given an acorn to grow. We were each charged to create something beautiful. In these ugly times, it is important to remember WE are the SPIRIT, the HEART, and SOUL of Michfest. We might not be gathering in Hart. We might not have access to the sacred motherland (yet) but we have access to the heart of it: the fearless and fierce Amazon spirit lives in all of us!
Our little acorn is a reunion for our “Framily”. What is Framily? It is the friends that you choose as your family, since too often, our bio family abandons us. And our friends love us more than family. So we claim them as Framily.
Last year, our acorn, Michigan Framily Reunion was an effort to soothe those yearnings for Michfest. It was an effort to bring together festies but also to bring together our L2L community (Lansing Lesbians is a local lesbian social group that we coordinate). It was a melding of festies and L2L and we came together as FRAMILY. In the spirit of MWMF, we had a women of color tent, Gaia girls, women musicians, porta janes, mud, workshops, crafters, and womyn. Such beautiful, wonderful, life giving womyn.
This year, we are having another Framily Reunion. It is a little bit bigger, extending over a 3 day weekend, Friday through Monday (pack out day!). It will be in Wayland, MI, August 4-7, 2017. In the spirit of Michfest, we will be womyn camping in the woods, listening to women perform and teach and inspire and thrill.
Michigan Framily Reunion 2017 is going to be on 80 acres of wooded property that a dear lesbian friend has graciously allowed us to use. It's her family tree farm and homestead. It is gorgeous and wonderful. The owner wasn’t a festie but she is part of L2L, another great connection. Thank you, Sister!
Since this is a new festival and not just a recreation of MWMF, we are creating our acorn and tending it and encouraging it to grow.
Part of our growing process is finding OUR identity.
We want womyn to understand that this is our acorn and it has its own identity and spirit. We hope it is as energizing and fulfilling as MWMF; we believe that the spirit of the womyn is what created the power so we can gather that power and our acorn can grow and spread. In the spirit of creating something new while capturing and honoring the festival that brought us all together, we will be changing the names of certain things. We also will be working to create a massive (oak) festival but growth takes time. For our sisters that require a little more assistance to make it accessible, we will be offering “Special Services”, which is similar to DART but since we are a new festival, we do not have the infrastructure and support that MWMF had at the end of her 40 years. While we will be able to assist with some Special Service requests, others will be something that we will need to grow into.
For our young Amazons, (formerly Gaia girls), our young Amazon area will be called, “Acorn Amazons” (looking for a coordinator/facilitator, please email if interested firstname.lastname@example.org). Our “land” is not going to be called the land, although, that habit is suuper duper hard to break. We are calling the new home of Michigan Framily Reunion: MFR, Wayland Farms. Our dance area is L2L Lounge (think of August Nights Café). And last but not least, Twilight Zone. I am firm believer that Zoners created that space, and Zoners should name the new space. I asked and the response was “The Zone”. I’m okay with that if you are but since this is a new acorn, if you have any further suggestions, please share them!
But we do not want to forget where we came from, in that spirit, the theme of MFR 2017 is “Wise Women: Share Your Jewels”. We learned and created so much during the last 40 years, please grandmothers, elders, crones, we honor YOU, share with us your wisdom. We ask that you share your wisdom with us as we go forward so our acorn will grow straight and true and honor the memory of where we came from.
Please join us in August, sisters. There will be singers, dancers, musicians, spoken word artists,food trucks (one that even serves VEGAN milkshakes, sorry no nutloaf though). There were will be zone and breasts and outdoor showers. There will be trees and fireflies.
And there will be womyn.
Please mark your calendars now and join us August 4-7, 2017!