News is breaking faster than I can pick up the pieces. I take a quick break to pee, only to return to my laptop to learn the “Russia dossier” is gaining credibility and hundreds are being arrested in ICE raids. I keep hoping I’ll one day remember “that month” when Trump was President, then I scroll down to read even more tales of outrage. Fledgling activists burn out if they don’t take a minute.
So this past Friday I went to church. Twice.
But first I went shopping at Brooklyn Collective‘s Valentines Bazaar and Fundraiser, where, among other arty collectibles, there were Valentines for my elected representatives! I’m boycotting all brands of the enemy, but if I do send cards to Schumer (202-224-6542), Gillibrand (202-224-4451), Velazquez (202-225-2361) and President Bannon, what better image than a pussycat in a pussyhat! Plus, there were sorely needed complimentary cocktails, and 100% of raffle proceeds were donated to the ACLU. #GrabYourWallets and go buy a one of these Valentines today, or, oh wait, sorry I can’t say that…or, oh wait, yes, I actually can.
At Greenwood Baptist Church, Acme Hall Studios hosted “Songs of Resistance,” the first show of their new charity concert series, which featured calming folky original songs written in response to the election and its aftermath. I love my art in real time! My friend, the singer and musician Serena Jost, not used to “waking up in quicksand,” reflected on turning to great literature as a salve, and both soothed my ears and stoked my faith singing about how “everything is hidden, the ground sleeps.” Might sanity swell and bloom? Artists/performers were numerous, and included guest artist Spencer Merolla of BeMyRepresentative.org (a Valentine crafting project for the resistance, yes!) who helped people make their own political Valentines. Suggested donations all benefited CHiPS Soup Kitchen & Women’s Shelter.
There was no shopping at the Church of Stop Shopping, in fact, it was a “shopocalypse.”
Reverend Billy and the StopShopping Choir raised the roof at Brooklyn Commons with their “Stay On The Air” relief-from-winter-blues show packed with righteous “Earthalujahs.” These “harmonizing radicals” are activist veterans and were at Standing Rock, Ferguson and Zucotti Park when I was still shopping at Macy’s. They now seek to ride “the tsunami” that will overwhelm Trump, and referencing the oft-repeated advice “if you see something, say something,” offer this additional directive: if you can’t see something, “feel something, change something, love something.”
There’s a story going around Facebook about a lesson learned in high school music class. Sometimes in a choir, the music requires singers to hold a note longer than is physically possible for a human voice. In those cases, singers mindfully stagger when they individually take their breaths so that the larger sound is uninterrupted. Everyone gets to breathe — necessary for survival! — and the music stays strong and vibrant. Our new administration’s litany of bad actions is likely a way of giving us “protest fatigue.” Will we lose our will to continue the fight in the face of the negative onslaught? No! Take a breath. The rest of the chorus will sing. Rejoin so others can breathe.
We’re at a level of civic engagement that I have not seen since the aftermath of 9/11. We’re diverse city folk around here, and can sustain a very long, beautiful song for a very, very long time. If this looks like like fun, remember, we’re just getting fresh for Monday. Then: back to the phones and back to the streets to defend our values: financial protections, independent judges, quality public education, healthcare, enforceable government ethics, reproductive rights, racial equality, immigration, clean water and respect for indigenous communities. No faith without works in Brooklyn, baby.
Hold the note:
Get your Valentine postcard in the mail: President Steve Bannon, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500.
Please also send supportive or critical Valentines to your senators and congressional representative.
If your rep is holding a town hall, go! Then back to the phones: 5Calls.org, The 65