Monthly Archives: July 2010

Story of the Quarry – A Dance Project in Maine

Off to Deer Isle, Maine this weekend to work with the magical choreographer Alison Chase, the founding artistic director of Pilobolus Dance Theater who heads Apogee Arts.

Chase is staging her community dance project called Quarryography – a performance about what happens in a quarry when no one is looking. Professional dancers team with community members, a performing excavator and flying sculptures to create a unique and beautiful experience staged in a local quarry.

Choreographer and puppeteer Mia Kanazawa collaborates with her puppet and costume designs.  I’ll be filming with 2 EMU students and we’ll create a variety of pieces to document the event. Check out the 3-minute video I created in collaboration with director David Norman from Alison’s premiere of this project in 2007.

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Filed under A Story Doula Kind of Story, Giant Adventures, Videos

The Weekly Rupert – West Virginia Cool

Little Big Dawg knows how to take the edge off the sizz.


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Filed under The Weekly Rupert

The Iroquois Lacrosse Team and Why I Hold Back on Reclaiming My Mohawk Rights

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Application to Restore My Mohawk Rights

I’ve watched with great interest and emotion this week as members of the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team were denied entry to Britain to play in an international lacrosse tournament over a passport dispute.  The 23 members of the Iroquois Nationals – whose ancestors (and mine) helped invent the sport refused to use U.S. or Canadian passports and the U.K. will not recognize the ones issued by the Iroquois Confederacy. Click here for the full article on

The controversy over Iroquois team strikes an intensely personal note.  On this blog I’m exploring my family’s journey to reclaim our Mohawk rights (Mohawk are part of the Iroquois Confederacy) which my mother sold to the Canadian government in the 1980s.  Click here for the full story, called The Indian Thing, on how that was possible and why she sold her native rights.

Many who viewed my earlier post said they felt my own perspective was missing from my family’s discussion of our Mohawk heritage.  So recently my friend Robb Davis, an expert in participatory learning, took the time to interview me.

Out of that interview (among so MANY things) came the realization that while my sister has reclaimed her rights and other siblings are in the midst of applying, I’ve been holding back on going through the process because I am outraged that such a process even exists.  What right does ANY government have to tell me whether I am or am not Mohawk?  It is a terrifying thought – and the fact that my mother was able to sell our rights under a very destructive Canadian policy has always struck me as nothing less than diabolical.

How can our identities be so fragile?  So vulnerable?  How can I be called Mohawk one day and white the next ?  Then thirty years later how is it possible that I will be white one day and Mohawk the next? Just because I’ve filed some papers.  Doesn’t my application just confirm that I agree the State still defines who and what I am ?

I know, I know – the State defines who is a person when we are born.  It’s the same when we are issued a birth certificate, social security cards, passports, when we take the census.  I work with refugees – people who are not recognized by any government – so are confined, imprisoned really.  All the more reason I cannot reconcile this.  Just as the Iroquois soccer team probably cannot reconcile that their tribal papers hold no sway on an international stage (and possibly on the domestic front as well).

So I am sitting with The Indian Thing and my application for now… and proud of my Iroquois brothers for the sacrifice they’ve just made to bring attention to these very important questions.

Below is the rough cut video of Robb and I listening together to my mother and sister’s interview about our Mohawk rights. You can tell it’s an intense journey.  Over the remainder of the summer I’ll be editing the companion audio interview which contains more  insight (Robb is literally a professional listener).  I’ll post that here in its finished form.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these initial musings.

Music:  Creative Commons License:  Attribute/Not-for-Profit/Share Alike Diablo Swing Orchestra/Heroines


Filed under The Indian Thing: History. Identity. Family.

Ach! Where to Begin?!: A Wittgensteinian Essay on Fixing Our Planet.

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Read this Editor’s Note titled American Psychosis in the May/June edition of the Utne Reader please. Editor David Schimke demands: what does it take to confront our collective denial concerning climate change and all that ails our planet?!

Coal mine disasters, a devastating oil spill, hydrofracking in my own backyard, obesity epidemics, rampant stress, out-of-wack food and values systems. Enough.

I’m taking the Schimke challenge: I don’t have the choice to become overwhelmed by this stuff anymore. And merely recycling my plastic jugs just doesn’t cut it.

My approach to this needs to get way more radical – way more systemic.

First, I’m listening to modern-day prophets – Colin Beavan tried to go “no impact” in New York for an entire year – an adventure documented in a film and on his blog. Annie Leonard created The Story of Stuff – an animated video and website about our insane system of consumerism and waste.

My pals Tom Benevento and Robb Davis pulled back from fat international consulting careers when they realized the problems they were hired to fix overseas stemmed from U.S. dependence on oil and THINGS we buy – right here. Tom and Robb are both community advocates.


What I like about each of these prophets is that they aren’t telling me what I need to do.  They are all challenging me to locate my own responsibility, my own piece of this massive problem and then DO THAT.  DO SOMETHING.

We all risk looking ridiculous when we try to envision a new reality.

Today I felt a little foolish posting this on Facebook:

hey h-burgers and berry-villers – i’m plantin’ and paintin’ – if you have plants you want to split off or leftover indoor paint you’d like to clear out of your basement – just let me know. i’m headed to the cabin wednesday (july 7) morn for a few weeks of hard labor and would be thrilled to not buy new.

Why did I feel foolish?  Because being consumers is what we as Americans know how to DO so incredibly well. We’re rewarded for having the capability to buy, the independence and “freedom” and grooviness that brings us.  Being collective, being community – the messages we get is that community is messy, it’s dependent, it’s inefficient. Some think downright un-American.

Here is where this becomes radical.

My friend Lisa offered up some paint and some plants.  I’m going to go see her late this eve.

We’ll probably have some tea.

Laugh a bit.

Her leftover paint will end up on my walls.

Her lovely plants in my garden.

I’ll bond with my friend, be surrounded by her at my cabin and save a little cash in the process.


Way more interesting and rewarding than a trip to Home Depot.

Radical, huh?

Enough for now.  But more on this soon.  I have to do this in small doses or I lose my brain.

Meanwhile – here are the prophets:

1) No Impact Man Trailer – but PLEASE see the entire movie as an instant download on Netflix or wherever you can get your hands on it.

2) Click here for Voluntary Gas Tax Club in Harrisonburg.

3) The Story of Stuff animated film with Annie Leonard (20 minutes):

4) Click here for a thoughtful Penn State interview with Annie Leonard. She’s fantastic.

5) Interview with David Holgrem – co-originator of permaculture:

6) Click here for 31 Tips to Reduce Your Impact While Saving Money. But don’t stop there. Figure out how to look really foolish around saving yourself and the planet. Then let’s compare notes.

7) And click here to figure out what the heck is a Wittgensteinian Essay.

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Filed under Pathways to Whole, Videos