Archive for the ‘Screen Free Week’ Category

It is an interesting feeling to be stuck in a cell and have such strong convictions that you do not want to get out. Let time pass, violate more of my rights. See what that will bring in the end. I knew while I was shivering and trying to doze off that this would be an important case, and just may set a president for how we as a mass movement will start reclaiming a number of our rights. I had plenty of time to think on how to approach my case, and was feeling rather optimistic.

When I was placed in the room with two plain-clothes detectives, I had absolutely nothing to say to them. The only thing I told the judge on my second arrangement was that I will be doing an act of civil disobedience, that being a hunger strike. I was misidentified, and a number of my universal rights were being violated. It did not take too long for them to realize they had to get me out of that cell, and fast.

Pressure was mounting, and I knew on the other side of the thick walls that held me, there were others gathering in support of me. I was making a stand and did not want to be transferred to another facility. When the guards came to get me I remained in a meditative state and they physically removed me. It was good that I was in a meditative state as I am pretty sure one of the guards was attempting to break my wrist while carrying me. They laughed and joked while counting in unison “One, two three!” to toss me into the holding vehicle to bring me to the County Jail in Downtown Phoenix. One of a few stomping-grounds of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The conditions of this jail reflected his token human rights violating operation procedures. Once more I was put in a cell with no toilette paper, but this time it was with a number of other individuals being charged with a variety of crimes.

Much to my surprise the inmates got along with each other better then I anticipated. Although I did hear from multiple individuals that an entire floor of the jail was in lock-down due to a large race-related rivalry which apparently had been a major factor in a series of riots.

I had a number of sociopolitical discussions with many of the inmates, and much to my delight there was little to no one there that did not express delight and surprise in hearing my story. I really focused on being in the moment as much as possible and connecting with others, as by now slight hunger pains had started to set-in. I had given all my food to the other inmates, as I stood by my hunger strike. At this point I had no idea how long I would be in, and was prepared for the worse if it came to that. I recall hearing the human body can survive nearly a full week without food, so long as the body remains well hydrated and active. My experience with fasts and detoxes was coming in handy greatly.

Much to my surprise, I was being shifted from room to room, and increasingly it was appearing as though I was being let free. Eventually I was released, and waiting directly outside were friends of mine from the event and other organizations I am a part of. My hypothesis was confirmed! They had been there for me at my first holding cell, as well as my new location once they found out I was transferred. Much to my shock, one of my friends had been arrested while he was waiting outside for me, due to some warrants which were also related to our collective activism.

One of the most interesting things I took note of was how much respect I received from those I was used to disagreeing with fundamentally. In-fact these individuals were the ones the lead the jail support initiative for me. When it is all said and done, we are all in this together, and it felt very good to have that notion proven. I have said this before, and I will say it again. The universe provides.

They organized a “getting out of jail” party for me, so we gathered to share stores over a few drinks. My wounds were finely tended to, and besides still not having a way to see well it was all a matter in the past. I was able to eat a little bit before finely sleeping at my friend and comrades house.

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I started this day a little nervous, and with good reason as I would later find.

May 1st is known as a number of international holidays, but one of which is a struggle for workers rights. A day that has been known throughout history to mark a turning point, where workers struggles reach a new level of strength and achieve more rights or independence. A bit of research will come to all sorts of details on the events that have fallen on May 1st throughout history.

At any rate, individuals in the Phoenix area have been planning to have what is called a “general strike” on this day, where people are encouraged to not participate in the capitalistic system. This is done by refusing to work, do chores, or spend money. Instead they are encouraged to hit to streets and express their desire for more respect and rights for the producers, workers, and other people that make this commerce world go round.

This year the organizers decided it would be interesting to bring this message of workers’ rights and struggles to the “corridors of wealth”, that being Scottsdale Arizona. A place many residents of Arizona know is a concentration of wealthy and upper-middle class individuals. The whole city is also cleverly decorated and resembles an “old-western town”, with iconographic statues and images throughout the cityscape of cowboys and “Indians”. As a Native American myself I have always found this to be a bit demeaning, as in a subtle way Scottsdale seems to knowingly or otherwise portray a stereotype of Natives as savages and transients, whereas the Wranglers appear to illustrate independence, strength, integrity, and power.

At any rate, something interesting was bound to happen on this May 1st in Scottsdale, and being someone that is skeptical of the processes and practices of Capitalism as they relate to impact on humans and non-human life, I wished to be witness to whatever does happen. Little did I know I would be deeply entrenched in it regardless of my wishes or desires.

I arrived several hours early just to scout-out the area, and get a general feel for the cityscape and perhaps soak in the energy for things to come. I found myself quickly bored and rather annoyed by the general feel of this crystalline concrete jungle, so I asked around for a small local book-store. I was hoping for something similar to what I am used to in other cities I have lived in, but the only location available in close proximity to me at the time was a Western themed bookstore. By themed I mean all they carried were books on the west, southwest, warfare, prospector’s and Native’s lifestyles and history.

I made the best of it and found my way to the Native American sections, and came across a great book on the economics of the Republic of Lakotah as it relates to the modern global economic system. I read for a few hours, and learned a few revealing things about the history and internal structure of a place I always considered a very intriguing “Sovereign Land” within U.S. borders as we consider them. If this topic intrigues you in the least I encourage you to research about this place, and what they are in the process of building.

While reading I received a phone-call from one of my significant others, whom it was very good to hear from. Her and I have a very beautiful relationship when it comes to person-to-person interaction, but generally speaking when we are not in each other’s presence our relating is mainly in the form of text messaging. Because I was taking a break from screens during Screen Free Week, clearly that meant I was not using my phone for sending or replying to text messages. It is interesting to reflect on how dependant some relationships have become to this medium of communication. A lot can be discussed about this point, but for now I will return to the climax of this entry.

Individuals gather, and as the advertised time approaches everyone can feel an odd mix of calming tension grow. There was a lot of local media, as it is rare around 100+ rough-around-the-edges looking youth in mostly black assemble in Scottsdale. I am holding and on occasion revealing my “Corporate Flag”, which is a satirical USA flag with corporate logos where the white stars are typically. A bit of a commentary how corporations now control our individual states, and ultimately our government. One has to look twice at the flag to really catch the message stitched within this perhaps more honest red, white, and blue tapestry.

After a brief welcoming speech and series of chants by some of the organizers, we find ourselves in-route through the side-streets of what is known as Downtown Scottsdale. What was interesting about this march and demonstration in particular, is there was only light to moderate police presence, whom were on bicycles escorting the individuals acting as a group exercising their 1st Amendment Rights. It may be hard for some to look back on history and notice, but some would argue that many events just like this throughout history is what makes up that which is all we claim to be proud of. People were taking a stand, and making their voice be heard. We make our way to a mall chanting “Out of the Mall, into the streets!”

This was a very non-violent “street party”, where no one was hurt and no notable damage was done. Some had silly string and were spraying metal statues depicting proud cowboys, and a few smoke bombs were also deployed by the peaceful demonstrators. The role I commonly find myself in these situations is to make sure no one gets hurt, split up, and hopefully to keep all aware of their surroundings so no one gets arrested and clashes with police can be avoided.

Much to my surprise, taking such a role somehow made me a target to the authorities, whom were using “snatch and grab” tactics in efforts to suppress this peaceful demonstration. Mind you which is highly illegal, as we are exercising our constitutional rights. So long as there is no violence this right supersedes any silly ordinances those in power try and suppress movements with. From my view and that of many historians, philosophers, community leaders, and teachers; true Democracy is the life-blood of free societies. If we don’t use it, we might lose it.

At any rate, those police officers that were escorting us around the city were discriminatively attempting to snatch some of us peaceful demonstrators, and ironically enough I happened to be the only one that was grabbed. I did not see it coming, and there was nothing that could be done about it.

The manner in which I was grabbed was rather brutal, and it was clear the same tactics used on me were the ones many see when reviewing police brutality in other cities around the world as the “Occupy Movement” continues to gain momentum. An officer will shout “Quit resisting arrest” to justify striking and brutalizing the peaceful individual they have clearly overpowered. I was pinned under the ground with officer’s hands in my hair, slamming my head down while striking my shoulder repeatedly. My glasses were broken, and I had a number of bruises and injuries from this excessive police force. I also never received some of my property, such as that flag I was carrying which just so happens to prove I was demonstrating not breaking laws. The video of my treatment speaks for its self.

I was extremely tightly hand-cuffed, and despite my requests to have the cuffs loosened the arresting officer only acted as if we was loosening them. Because my glasses were broken I was nearly blind while in custody, and all my possessions locked away into a plastic bag.

I could write a point-by-point account of my experience, but for continuity sake I will try and offer here a condensed version of my time in holding. First I was brought to a holding cell at the police station in Scottsdale. I knew not where I was, but I was pretty confident those that witnessed my arrest would eventually make it to where I was for jail support, which is common in some activist circles.

I willingly took their offer to “remain silent” very pointedly, and was not willing to have casual conversation or say anything at all. I was pretty confident any word I would say would get me closer to incriminating me. I knew full-well I had not committed a crime, but I would have to remain calm and centered in order to continue to make positive change in the world.

I often switched up my tactics dependant on the situation of either remaining in a vow of silence, doing deep TM meditation, and signing in the air that I wished for paper. By communicating carefully on paper I at least would have a written account of my statements instead of just heresy of my words by my captors. I also refused a number of their unconstitutional orders when they were in direct violation of my religion, which again is a human right which was repeatedly violated. I was eventually placed on one side of a steel door where a Judge read me my rights. I made it very clear to him I was going to do an additional act of civil disobedience, that being a hunger strike. I had no idea how long they would be keeping me, but I knew this demonstration is far from over in my heart.

Though night turned to day, I received very little if any sleep. I was locked in a cold concrete 9X9 room with nothing but a toilet to sit on and a sink to drink from and wash my wounds. Mind you there was no toilette paper or soft surface to sit on aside from the clothes off my back. I did all I could do to get some peace while trying to sleep by curling up behind the only spot a shadow was in my cell, that being beneath the toilette. One of the only things that kept me calm and centered was the love I feel for all living creatures, and the pulse of life and purpose I feel which reminded me this is much bigger then myself.

My own subconscious didn’t even give me a little bit of time to adjust to the digital detox and ease into this process. Right off the bat I was plunged into a labyrinth of self-analysis I had not anticipated at all, on April 30th 2012 which was the first day of the international “Screen Free Week”. The self-analysis and eventual guilt came in the form of facing my own demons as they relate to how I form some characters when hand-writing.

Let it be known that I know full-well that my parents have access to, and are likely to read this statement I make publicly on the internet. Yes my friends, this is a bit of a confession of past transgressions from years past. I feel it is necessary to take this step however, so again I might walk my talk and grow to become a better person.

When I was in elementary and middle school and so on, I had a unique way of scribing certain characters. No matter how much protesting my math teachers would make, I intentionally designed each number from 0 to 10 in a unique way with sharp peaks and low dips. I did not realize it at the time, but it was an early form of my own self-expression. I am sure writing analysts would have a field day with my earlier work, that is for sure.

Another character besides numbers I had a unique style when scribing was the question mark. In a similar fashion, there were peaks and dips where “normal” question marks did not have them. I was living in So. Lake Tahoe CA. at the time as J.R., and we had a beautiful middle-class home with a nice large back yard. I spend much time outside as a child, and had a pretty stable upbringing.

However like most kids growing up, I had a strong sense of curiosity and tended to do things “just because”. One of those offenses I committed was defacing the door of a shed in our back yard. Yes I confess! The odd looking question-mark that was spray-painted on the shed door was in fact done by me. Reflecting back I am fairly confident this was one of the only major offenses I committed as a child of which I blatantly lied about to my parents. We had a Doberman-pincer for crying out loud, so my parents knew the probability was very low some random vandal hopped our 8 ft. backyard fence to paint a single character on a wooden door. I have no idea why I did it, but I must have thought it would be interesting there and look neat. It did infect, but little did I know with that simple act, the lie, and the constant reminder of it growing up in that home and seeing the shed when I peaked out the kitchen window I was reminded of my crime and subsequent lie to my parents.

I am sorry Mom and Dad…

The reason I bring this all up is because on the 1st day of Screen Free Week I was forced to once again face the skeleton in the closet when I wrote a simple character in my lined note-book. Ever since then I NEVER drew my question marks the same again, clearly out of fear of being caught in my own lie and web of deception. Little did I know until I sat on this notion and reflected, but I have been carrying an ever-so slight amount of guilt for my past each and every time I hand-write a sentence on paper which ends in a question. After all these years I have been carrying it, and by habitually avoiding detection with the way I form my question-marks, I am feeding that skeleton in the closet.

Here is to letting go, and learning lessons. I know that is a small and simple one most will shrug their shoulders at, but nonetheless it says a lot about the subconscious. Or at-least my subconscious that is. I never related my question-marks of today to the guilt I endured in the past until I was afforded a bit of mental clarity and time to reflect and do some self analysis. My guess would be a similar subconscious avoidance or inner turmoil will occur with others if they lie to or cause harm upon another and go out of their way to avoid detection for years afterwards. Your past will always catch up to you if you want to grow and learn from your mistakes. I know it is one of the sillier things from my past, but perhaps one of the ones I have been carrying the most guilt about since.

Clearly this realization put me into a state of self-awareness and more mindfulness on my surroundings. With that came the reflection that making this commitment of no digital screens for an entire week, I am really biting off something big and I hope my mouth is really as big as I think it is, and my esophageal muscles as strong as I assume they are. I could offer myself an excuse and say life is too chaotic right now and I “need” the internet that badly that going further down this trip is a “bad” idea, but I realize I am throwing all caution to the wind and realizing I made a commitment to myself. No matter how many projects which relies on social media, no matter how many messages of concern I may get, no matter how much I should be looking for a “job”… The most important thing is I be true to myself. I could see it as the “worse” timing for a time-out from the digital world, or take signs from the universe which are challenging me and roll my sleeves up.

Well here we go!

With that I got the first of many signs from the Universe that I am on the right path. I did my best to deny signs of misfortune when the local print-shop down the street was closed. It is true that most Mom & Pop operations have odd days-off, and in this case my local printer is closed on Mondays. So be it, to a big-box store I go. Who knows, maybe there is a reason I have to go to Staples to print some important papers for 4 Elements Phoenix, but perhaps I will find out. Then there she was. The manager noticed she had not registered my presence behind the printing kiosk, but soon she came to attention and nervously came to aid me with my printing.

She was short with long dark straight hair, big eyes, and slight scent of mischief haloing her being. I was slightly out of character dressed professional-like, as I had a meeting later that afternoon. However in the moment we locked eyes she knew that I knew what she knows. Those moments of awareness, subtext, foreshadowing, and primal instinct that can’t justly be described. We wanted each other.

She nervously aids me with my documents, and I request she hold them until I have had a chance to finish shopping. After all, while I am here I may as well pick up presentation laminates, which I was unable to find at the house but knew I had at one point. No matter how far away I walk that tense strand of sexual chemistry was already anchored. We come together again for my purchase, the line condenses and glows.

Eyes idly surveying her surrounding; “Would you like some M&Ms?” as she gestures to the package near the register.

With humor in my eyes; “No thank you”

Nervously “Do you need anything else?”

With further amusement; “No thank you”

Persistently yet cautiously; “Do  you have any questions?”

Hesitantly; “No… Actually do you live around here?” picking up on her interest to treat each other as humans instead of cashier and customer.

“Yes, right near Thisstreet and Thatstreet”

I reply; “Look at that, we are basically neighbors. I live on Otherstreet and Similarstreet”.

I gently take my purchase from her small trembling hands, and take my leave.

Slowly, confidently.

Sure the probability is there we will meet once more as we live in close proximity in the same city and I know where she works, but that is not the point. A simple yet important fact remains. I made a much-needed connection with another living creature which made both of us feel fantastic. It was one of the purest most intoxicating forms of energy exchange there is. We gave and received simultaneously. Silence swirled around us, but the subtle whispers of our minds and bodies spoke volumes. I was desired and validated, she was desired and validated. Magic happened in that short moment, but a casual onlooker would see nothing extraordinary unless they were in someway tangled in that same web.

-Sigh- This is what life feels like.

Thank you Universe, and thank you short electric beauty in the Staples shirt whom started off my Screen Free Week magically. Life is a mirror, and what I put out to the pulse of life I will see reflected back at me. Who knows how crabby the clerk would have been if I walked in the Big-box with a toxic cloud around me. Instead I remained a piece of driftwood on this ride called life. And what a ride it can be if you let it take hold!

Back to my current dwelling to tend to non-human life that decided to come into being for me voluntarily. By that I mean the “weeds” That sprouted from my compost pile. One of which I have identified as a tomato plant, and another may be a cucumber or squash of some sort. A few days prior I liberated them from my compost pile and gave them a home of their own in a pot. They were looking good on that day, but regardless I came and gave them some verbal and aquatic T.L.C. while they bathed in the sun. Did you know that many scientific experiments have “proved” that talking to, praising, and genuinely caring for plants stimulates growth and vitality. This may be a simple notion to some, but mind-boggling to others. For those that challenge this notion, thank you. Do your own research and let me know what you find.

I was brought back to another moment of omniscience after tending to my plants, and that is I feel a number of people closest to me misunderstand what I am doing when I say I am rejecting money. Some that care deeply for me must think I am not going to use money at all, starting at this point and live in a gutter etc. In fact what I am proposing to myself and those reading this entry is a “USD diet”. Slowly cutting out what I feel does not nourish me, and replacing what was there with more substance. It is a gradual process, and can be graceful if done correctly. Quite simply in my eyes the Federal Reserve Note hold little value in my mind, and in fact it has devalued significantly and is becoming increasingly unstable. What I am doing is making subtle changes in my lifestyle over a gradual period of time, to more towards more sustainable means of sustenance then purchasing everything I need and think I need.

(Little did I know the Universe had a different plan in store for me…)

For those of you that want to at least entertain what I am talking about, but know for a fact you are not willing or able to take it as far as I am, there is a fantastic book I would recommend to you. It is called “Your money or your life”, by: Joe Dominguez. Let me know what you think!

I must confess that In that moment of reflection I realized one of the biggest things I will have to overcome or possibly cope-with. That is possibly loosing friends, or even lovers and those closest to me. This notion is far more debilitating to me then loosing a car, or perhaps being hungry for parts of days, or perhaps not having steady internet access. Loosing those I love and care most for is a good possibility, but with more reflection I realize it is inevitable and ultimately healthy.

People that come into and go out of our life are not separate, but they become a part of our lives and ultimately ourselves. However after a certain point a person has served their purpose in your path to growth (if that is in fact the path you choose), and you must shed  your skin. Like a snake coiled around a branch, forced to wrench free from their dead skin only to expose tender young skin below. I am not saying that those I love and care for now are nothing short of dead skin, rather I am saying they were protective armor that has stick with me and was a huge part of me. The largest organ of my body in fact. However sometimes we must gracefully let go of those we love the most. No matter how difficult and painful that process may be. This I know from many personal experiences, and undoubtedly you my reader do as well. I am proposing that it is part of a design, of which we may not have full understanding of now, but of which I hope to find out and share with as many as possible.

My 4EP/Black & Blue Bills meeting went pretty well. Though the attendance was low we were able to get to know each other better and come up with some great ideas. I feel very optimistic about this start. I very much so appreciate the enthusiasm and creativity those are lending to me thus-far. If this is an early reflection of things to come, these may be some of the most successful projects I have every founded.

As the first of many steps to clearing out the junk that is in our current house, I pulled out the bags and manila envelopes which serve as the collectors for mail and junk-mail which has addresses and personal information on it. Little do most know that one of the simplest ways to commit identity theft or other such crimes is to pick through recycling and trash-cans of people that don’t take a few simple steps ahead of time. I could shred these documents, but instead I offer this process and solution which involves nearly zero waste and costs nothing as well.

Recycling everything you can is not exactly the best solution, but it is slightly better then trashing everything. Thus it is alright to recycle as much as you can, but check that junk-mail! If it has addresses, names, account numbers etc. then DO NOT just throw it in the trash or recycling. Better to be safe then sorry.

Consider giving junk-mailers a taste of their own medicine if you have the time and desire to do so, and/or rip the addresses, account numbers, and address portions of the mail off and collect it for proper cleansing. Sure you can pay to have things shredded, or buy a shredder and do it yourself. I used to take these documents to my place of employment to have it shredded, which is a little bit of a risk if you think about it as you are leaving that sensitive task up to strangers. At least in the case of a company being paid to pick up our documents to be shredded. However consider then where does that shredded paper go? You can look it up yourself to find the answer to that question if you like of course, but I am not going to go into that too much. I would rather illustrate my micro-version of that same process (in a way).

Those clippings and sheets of paper, burn them. Consider an alternate use for the fire such as roasting something or boiling water to maximize resource use, or at least in my case, enjoy the warmth from the heat on the cold windy night. Dig the proper bonfire and observe the usual safety protocols such as having water and/or soil available to extinguish rogue or out of control flames. Try and burn as much of it as possible, and put the fire out when done. This burned matter can then be added to your compost pile, which will add great minerals and nutrients for the plants you use the compost for. No worries if there is still some paper in there, it will eventually break-down in a healthy compost. Do keep in mind however that ash and burnt matter changes the PH balance of a compost, so you want to not over-saturate a compost with too much ash or burnt matter.

The sad fact of the matter is we live in a wasteful society here in the U.S., and most of which is avoidable. All doing our part individually is not exactly the “solution” if you ask me, but in our present system I feel that you should at least take those first important steps before pushing our civilization into more sustainable systems and practices, which is likely to be a tough and radical process.

Another simple thing we all can do is do the research to find the companies and firms that sell your private information on lists, and metaphorically kick them in the teeth! Alright, it isn’t very simple, but it can be done. For those of us that do not have the time, resources, and know-how to make sure we don’t get the junk-mail in the first place (which is waste, a security risk, and a general haste), consider supporting this Arizona business! They help dwindle down the amount of junk-mail you receive in the first-place. Think of it like a spam filter for your mailing address. In my eyes that is a very practical solution worth investing in.

While we are on the topic of waste, here is another simple practice to add to your life if you don’t like spending a lot of money. You know all those note-pads and sticky-notes you purchase (or rip off from your employer right?). Well you can make your own vary simply. When you have a full page 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper that doesn’t have personal info and only printed materiel on one side, fold then rip them into 4 pieces. Paperclip these and put them near your pencils and pens to write on the blank side. I have no memory, so I constantly have to write my ideas, directions to locations, love-letters, etc. on these little scrap pieces of paper. After you are done with the piece of paper, you can then recycle it. Again double-check the page to make sure there is no personal information on it. That is if you value your privacy and want to avoid being a potential victim of crimes of desperation. Our artificial scarcity civilization make these crimes a “fact” of life, so take the simple steps such as those mentioned above to avoid it all.

Another sign from the universe, as I was deep in contemplation about the above points and processes, I look down to the little paper flag on the end of my tea bag string, and staring back at me are the words “Your choices will change the world”. Thank you for the reminder.

Back into the house for more reading and contemplation. Reading my Nick Sagan book Everfree, I come across an interesting phrase. “Quae Nocent, docent”. Which translates to “Things that injure, teach”. Thing propels my gray-matter into a number of ways this could be applied to natures response to civilization.

For example the last few weeks a theme in my life has been weeds. Either I am identifying them, learning which ones are edible, or much to my reluctance pulling them up for others that are allergic to them as a form of “employment” that is far more humbling and rewarding then working for some jerk with little long-term security.

Consider for a moment life without us. Our roadways would begin to sprout plants which fracture the urbanite, building become overtaken by vines, and even our skyscrapers would tumble and be reclaimed by The Mother. You may agree or disagree with me on this point, but regardless it is interesting to consider. I personally feel it is part of a design, and that The Mother has a plan and process for everything. If she is being injured, she knows how to heal herself.

Take for instance weeds that cause allergies in humans. I know it is a far-out notion, but what if say such weeds exist for the sole purpose of discouraging our inhabitants in urban and wild environments alike? All life has purpose, and perhaps such allergens are more then a coincidence. Rather an attempt to reclaim a site which we have selfishly put concrete and electronic gadgets that in the grand scheme of things matter little, and harm a lot.

“Quae Nocent, docent”.

Eventually after this notion dissipates from my mind and my arms tire from holding my book, I drift off concluding my first day of Screen Free Week.