Shock and shift What happens when we don’t take responsibility for healing our own lives, and instead project our buried trauma out onto other people – our children, our families, our friends, our colleagues? What happens when we use all our energy in criticism and complaint, when we use charity and judgement as a way of maintaining privilege and superiority over ‘weaker-thans’? When we use power like a gun and intelligence only to manipulate? Is this not a way of describing blight? Does this not weaken the entire system of life? Weinstein. Ghomeshi. Trump. Any person of any gender who identifies with embitterment, any person who inflicts their own still-festering injuries on others. So, at any point in our lives, each and every one of us, until we choose to do the work and grow up. Mill Dam, Owen Sound. Fall 2014 What happens instead when we don’t accept diminishment, and instead use our considerable strength to knit together, to hold space for change, to join, to empower and build. What happens to us. What happens to the world. Harriet Tubman. Georgia O’Keefe. Emily Carr. Gord Downey. Elizabeth Warren, who persists. What happens when a small, any or multi gendered group gathers in the kitchen to wash, dry, put away dishes from the meal they made for 30 people? What happens when they gather to weed a garden, repair or build a quilt, build a house, make music, block out a play, collaborate on a project, get something done together… the conversation knits and weaves, joins and clarifies, connects and strengthens. It’s about the doing, but the doing isn’t the point. The weaving, the connecting, the building, the sharing and comparing is the point. The anchor of hearth, the rhythm of ritual, the resources of valued difference. In this contemporary culture, many-gendered, magnificent embroiderers, quilters, designers and fabric artists have taken the diminuitive notion of ‘women’s work’ and transformed it into empowerment – an actual, functional, powerful approach to healing our homes and our bodies and building the world anew. Artists and musicians, actors and writers are more and more equally represented by all cultures, all genders, who have empowered themselves to speak from their own power, to openly share their hard-won strength and dignity with us. Does this not strengthen us all? Is this not another way to describe nourishment? Endurance, independence, perception, wisdom. Strong opinions, well informed by context and shared with humility. To do something valuable with one’s anger. Not the pursuit of virtuosity as an identity, but for joy. Not to claim then fight nasty to maintain one’s trumped-up value . Instead, always to include, to hold space for. Powerfully. The We, the Us, without the Them. We, the ecosystem from which no living being is excluded. This requires courage.