Monday, June 27, 2016

"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 2)

This evening I share a second batch of photos from this year's Mayday parade. As I mentioned in Part 1, on Sunday, May 1, I attended the 42nd annual In the Heart of the Beast Theatre's Mayday parade in south Minneapolis.

This year's theme was "Radical Returnings," and was all about "turning towards each other rather than away from each other, repairing our relationships and the earth, finding redemption and freedom in tune with the turning of the earth and the return of spring." Inspiring stuff, to be sure!

The text that accompanies my photos is excerpted from the Mayday 2016 program guide. Enjoy!

Parade Beginning: Howling for the Whole Earth

This years parade was headed by the Phillips Project, a Heart of the Beast Theatre partnership in its fifth year with Little Earth of United Tribes, Waite House, and Collaborative Village Initiative.

For this year's parade, Phillips Project youth apprentices from Little Earth expressed a wish to make a giant Medicine Wheel rolling down the street to honor Native American culture in our neighborhood. The Medicine Wheel is a sacred indigenous symbol representing health, wholeness and unity. Youth from all three sites coincidentally and magically chose to all make wolves to accompany the medicine wheel. The wolf image represents the community-oriented yet independent strength of the youth and neighbors we work with. We howl for the healing of the whole earth.

Parade Story, Section 1: Humbly We Shape Our World

Humbly, we shape the rebeginning of our world, in turn. The storied origins of life are founded in the firmament of clay.

A new world is on its way. On a clear day you can hear it breathing. The former world, one of so many modes of domination, must be configured in different ways. "Mine"-ing must be challenged for its dehumanizing effect, which allows the trespass of humanity by constructs like borders, and so distorts the recognition of what it means to be human.

Clearing away possessions are ritual beings of sweeping change and dervishes of possibility, spinning round and round into some balance. The soft swishing and earthen scent of grasses raise the dust of the earth.

Large islands of clay-colored earth float by, seemingly separate, but part of a larger whole: Earth mother, bathed in the concrete of the street, source of life and possibility.

Here or there, we might see a turtle stroller with a young one, or attendants to new life, spare or bare and earthen in hue of muddy mix. They dig clay from the belly or hand of this larger creature, to link parade performer and parade observer in a covenant of shared care and creation.

May this new life be free from domination as it is given to those on the side of the parade's journey to care for, or maginatively collaborate by taking the clay in some new direction, in the same way we shape each other.

For some, clay is the embodiment of living power, of truth. In many of the world's stories, it is steeped in possibility, imagination and ritual, and used to create sacred objects. Clay is meditative in its response to push and pull. It breathes out when wet and absorbs moisture when dry. It carries the weight and intention of the imagining of the Earth, changing its quality according to its use and care. For us this section's intent is to charge each of us with the humbling task of shaping and caring for the world we share.

Clay. It's rain, dead leaves, dust, all my dead ancestors. Stones that have been ground into sand. Mud. The whole cycle of life and death.

– Martine Vermeulen

Section 2: The Earth is Our Home is Our Body is . . .

Take a look at the hermit crab. The hermit crab resourcefully makes its temporary home in empty sea shells left behind by snails. These shells are spirals, ancient symbols of transformation. The hermit crab carries its home with it everywhere it goes, reminding us that, very directly,the earth is our body is our home . . .

When the hermit crab outgrows its shell it will search for a better fit. Should the hermit crab stumble across a vacant shell whose size surpasses its needs, it will know that such resources could be put to better use and will wait for a larger hermit crab. When more hermit crabs arrive on the scene also finding the vacant shell too large, they too wait.When a hermit crab of appropriate size to fit in the vacant shell arrives,something remarkable occurs: The hermit crabs organize themselves into a line, largest t smallest. The largest crab hops into the vacant shell, and the others follow suit, hopping into each others' shells, and returning the smallest shell to the earth. It is an extraordinary communal effort.

If we, like the hermit crab, could share in this way, recognizing our own needs alongside those of others, taking only what we need and giving back to the earth, perhaps we would find ourselves in a much more harmonious and equitable society. One that is not so plagued by conflicts over resources and such gaping disparities between those with and those without.

Section 3: Safety is Measured in Human Kindness

To build a wall against each other,
to build more gray-colored jail cells,
To build a tightly closed door for yourself,
to brace yourself with a gun
Will these guarantee you more safety
and a better community?

Now is the time that we build
a space for our community,
Where countless stories are made
A space filled with the warmth of our heart
Where we can share laughter and tears.
The days are gone wen you had to cry alone
in a desert-like prison that you made for yourself,
Deprived of hope and compassion for others.

Let's put our heads together and walk abreast
Leaving behind lonely days.
Let's keep pace with each other --
I'll march to the beat of your drummer.

Let's we choose peace over violence.
Let's we share food and shelter
and put down the fear,

Let's take a moment
To remember the homeless,
Wishing them a warm place
to stay for the night.

As our act of resistance,
Let's walk arm in arm,
singing a song of spring
and life to come.

There is always time for us to
Cry with each other
and laugh with each other
in times of trouble
and in times of happiness.

It was called The Way. The site where the 4th precinct stands today, on Plymouth Ave on the north side of the city, wasn't always a police station. Before it became the place that, for so many, stood for "law" and "order" and "surveillance" and "profiling," it was another kind of place. Before a police station stod there, it was a community center.

During the protests, those 18 days when we gathered together despite the cold and our heartache, despite the threat of violence and our anger at the cops who killed an unarmed black man – despite all that, we made that place a center for community again. Cars pulled up day and night and brought hot coffee, warm food and dry clothes for the protesters. We talked and sang, we chanted, we made plans. Some of us learned to knit or build a fire. We gathered around donated food lined up on a long table to celebrate Thanksgiving together, as the first flakes of snow began to fall. And on those autumn days, we made it a community center again.

And why couldn't it be The Way again? What if we imagined other institutions that keep us apart, transformed into places that sustain us? What if we reject the idea that we need bars to keep us safe? What if we imagine that another Way is possible?

– Erin Sharkey

Section 4: Reparations on Our Soul: Have Heart, De-Mask, Wild Seed

Our ancestors were never slaves. Even though they were stuffed in the bottom of boats with pregnant bellies and terrified hearts in awe of evil that would shackle soulful humanity. Some of them jumped off the boat and whisper still from the bottom of the Atlantic. So don't act like you forget. Blackness is our wild and resilient magic. It is time to pay back the debt to our souls.

Sweet ancestral resiliency is our magic. And Wild Seed is our new possibility. Black soul shapeshifts and we alchemized into Prince, Malcolm X and Collard greens, James Baldwin, Basquiat and Angela Davis, Rock and Roll and Toni Morrison, Candied yams and Hip Hop, Mae Jemison and Serena Williams, agricultural advancements, Paul Robeson, Alice Walker, James Brown and Nina Simone and the Nay Nay, Phoenetic Ones and Bro Suns and infiniteness.

There is a debt owned for the wealth yielded from stolen lifetimes of Black existence. It is time to honor descendents with a mournful gratitude and radical returning of reparations.

Welcome to Wild Sees. We live in lush and green wildness and in tune with nature's rhythms. We heal with the earth. Home of the ild seed Public Schools where children learn the complex truth of heir ancestors and fly on butterfly wings. Where the Bank of Wild Seed: Reparations and Radical Returnings, pays out the resources earned by our ancestors who were unpaid, and unacknowledged.

Speak your truth


Bring to light






When we address the needs of our heart, hold them in their brokenness and wholeness, when we are able to heal our hearts, without fear, we open ourselves to the expansiveness of our beings. We see our souls reflect the vastness of the cosmos. Collectively, we can bring forth new realities when we are better in tune with the infinite.

Section 5: Turning, Turning, the Earth is Returning

My struggle doesn't erase my smile,
Shouting out expands my lungs
as well as my prayer;
This rage doesn't come from me.
When I raise my fist,
My culture is alive,
Lifting the dust on my feet.
The earth is my color,
a cosmic melting pot,
all the blood, all
all the races, all
all the being, all
all dancing together
from one side to the other
of the Earth's smile.
Smiling, smiling
the earth is turning.
Turning, turning
Earth's returning.

In our worldview, we are beings who come from the Earth, from the Water, from the Corn. The Lenca people are ancestral guardians of the Rivers, in turn protected by the spirits of young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers, is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of the planet.

Our Mother Earth – (militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic human rights are systematically violated) – demands that we take action: Let us build societies that are able to coexist in a dignified way in a way that protects life.

Let us come together and remain hopeful as we defend and care for the blood of this Earth and its spirits.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 1)
"And Still We Rise!" – Mayday 2015 (Part I)
"And Still We Rise!" – Mayday 2015 (Part II)
Mystics of Wonder, Agents of Change (Mayday 2014 – Part 1)
"The Spiritual Dialectic of WONDER?!" (Mayday 2014 – Part 2)
See the World! (Mayday 2013)
The End of the World as We Know It (2012)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 1 (2010)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 2 (2010)
Getting Started: Mayday 2009 (Part 1)
Celebrating Our Common Treasury: Mayday 2009 (Part 2)
Mayday and a "New Bridge" (2008)
The Time is Now! (2006)

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

No comments: