Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And the wind cries Mary...

The other night I had a dream that I was a prince (I guess) and I, along with the people, reconstructed this amazing palace together. White stone walls, very high ceilings, an outer ring of wall surrounding an amazing, airy, breezy inner sanctum where the community lived, learned, and dreamt together. The palace was built on sand. I recall many horses sleeping in a corner stable, I woke one up as quietly as I could, saddled one of the horses, jumped on and rode outside the walls and I galloped around the perimeter of this beautiful palace, surveying the area (I guess) and, ultimately to a faraway, distant point where two children were running towards a small body of water. I rode as quickly as I could, my white robes billowing and whipping in the air, toward the pond. The air swirled and moved (like VVG’s Starry Night - thanks Henry!). At the very last moment, all of us (I and the children), heading to the same spot in the pond, the children veered another direction, and I splashed into the water, pulled under, the children were safe, running the other direction toward the newly built palace, and I…well, I woke up. And sat down to type this.

…and the wind…cries…Mary…

In my first entry, I wrote, “I am talking about reclaiming that which is a positive force in the world, that which moves us all forward, to a more unifying experience, toward a matrix of connection, understanding. I am talking about listening for the human experience, and the best ideas and practices, questions and concerns that will move us all toward a greater unity, and a better world for all.” I have really enjoyed trying to accomplish this in my daily life over the past couple of weeks. Trying with my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students, and the people I meet – virtually and in the flesh (I hope they would agree - or maybe they did not notice, that's ok). It would be cool if others tried it too – it is difficult. The structures of our lives often demand a variety of other approaches, ways to be, actions that divert us, our attention, and our engagement from “reclaiming that which is a positive force in the world.” Tough. As an academic I would – via my training – first wax eloquently (or not J) on the need for new structures. True, but not very useful. Perhaps, we need, as I tried over the past couple of weeks, simply to try – live out the new. Try to live out the new and then try to be ok with the uncertainties – learn from the new. Then to try again. A dream? We need trials and errors. We need models.

I am only because we are…but what are we?

I dream, but my dreams are touched by the reality that I move within every day. The models, they exist. Ever heard of – “Ideas Worth Spreading?” Check it out. The models, they exist. A week or so ago, a lecture was posted. A lecture by Elizabeth Lesser. She discusses what she calls the “mystic worriers” – those folks around us (us?) with the "grit of the worrier and the grace of a mystic" (she cites MLK, Jr. among others). She discussed a great notion, the African notion of Ubuntu – “I need you in order to be me.” All of this led to her idea to “Take the Other to Lunch” (which somehow now is permanently emblazoned in the task bar of my Outlook – in red! Universe?). The “other”! (my sociology hairs standing on end)…but…I promised myself to not react – to listen. Lesser states the guidelines that her and a “tea partier” made together: 1) don’t persuade, defend, or interrupt; 2) be curious, be conversational, be real; and, 3) listen. “Share some of your life experiences with me…it is two worriers dropping their weapons and seeing each other.” Yes, I could wax on and on about the potential problems with this idea – but, you know what, it is a GREAT idea. Often our knee jerks, our reactions, our "no ways", while, perhaps perfectly understandable, and, maybe even, “right,” more often than not serve to stop us from trying to live out the new.

The grooves are worn deep into the streets, hallways, and rooms where I travel.

Stepping out of the grooves is possible. Consider a recent This American Life ( where we learn about The Brooklyn Free School where children have created an educational community which offers real promise - for them (for others?). Consider Haitian farmers giving Monsanto the empowering middle-finger ( and for punching Monsanto's gift horse in the mouth. Consider local Peruvians protecting their land ( Consider Tunisia (, followed by Jordan, then Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, and…A collective power that is brilliant to watch……the ripples of which will shake the shores of every corner (feel it?). The grooves of colonialism, the grooves of repression, the grooves of imperialism, the grooves of oppression. Talk about stepping out of the grooves!

People. Are. Brilliant.   

And another thing...I never liked the fact that my heroes and heroines seem to, throughout my life (particularly my K-16 life, which is half of my life, etching deep grooves), seem to be pre-picked and pre-packaged for me. What about Mohamed Bouazizi? What about Edward Scissorhands? What about Jimmy Carter? What about Angela Davis? What about these Gaza children? ( What about Frances Fox Piven? What about my grandfather, Wilbur Nachtigall? So many. Yours? 

Recognize that you are a hero or heroine to someone.

Blogging isn’t yet in my blood, but I am trying. Check out some of these blogs I have become aware of: my brother Nikitah at, sister Tanya at , and two new friends: and

Peace and Solidarity…

Off to shovel snow!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

2011 New Year’s Resolution: blog.

2011 New Year’s Resolution: blog.

Actually, this was also one of 2010’s resolutions, and, if I can remember back that far, one of 2009’s as well. Whatever one thinks of resolutions (note to self: check into the social and cultural history of “new year’s resolutions”), I have always been a “list guy.” A visual, need to see it, keep crossing-out/adding, ticker tape, list guy. Whether it is the constant CNN, bottom-of-the-screen, list running through my brain, the grocery/meal list (and the process of making it!), the Brunsma Research Queue (BRQ! LOL. Thanks Kerry) on my office wall, or my “to do” list of writing, reading, and all that goes into being a scholar – I love lists. I suppose many would find lists stifling and burdensome, I find them liberating and freeing.

I use them to work through stuff.

People blog for a wide variety of reasons (Thanks Tanya). If a New Year’s Resolution pops up in one’s cognitive goo for almost three years running now, the universe is trying to tell me something. This two- to three-year resolution to blog, at this very moment, feels like a desire to “change things.” To enter into new spaces, but also to have a space of my own (ours?) to think out loud, to work through ideas in my own work, to keep a good habit of writing every day. Another list perhaps? In many ways, I have used Facebook as an arena in which to think out loud, share new ideas, interesting reads, and to collectively work through various issues and items I find along the journey with my peeps. I will continue to do so, however, Facebook is limiting – it is spatially limiting, and, due to the format, I often feel the “medium” there is “the message” (Thanks Marshall).

Writing is hard.

This blog is a space where I can keep writing, off “the page” if you will, off of the Microsoft Word screen (although this first blog was created using Word because, well, old habits die hard, the space of the Word document page is, I think my mind thinks, the way one is to write), in a new format, a new form. This should allow new thoughts to come forward and provide a new canvass on which to paint them, collectively, with you all.

We do nothing alone.

I want to use my new canvass as a way to practice. This new canvass must provide me with a practice field for focusing. Focusing on a way to see the world that I have been developing over my entire forty years, but, that I want to make even more a central part of who I am, what I say, what I write, how I think, what I dream. Practice makes perfect? I think it is already, but, I sometimes fear, if we don’t use it, it is possible we might lose it (es cierto). I am talking about reclaiming that which is a positive force in the world, that which moves us all forward, to a more unifying experience, toward a matrix of connection, understanding. I am talking about listening for the human experience, and the best ideas and practices, questions and concerns that will move us all toward a greater unity, and a better world for all. Listening for this in everything.

So, I want to listen for utopia.

But not just listening, but also hearing, then speaking. I am talking about hearing the human experience within, say, the loudest growl of a working-class metal tune, within the collective protests of tea-partiers, within the quagmires of negative media, within the pain-filled strokes of a child’s watercolor, within the repressed scholarship of an Iranian sociologist, or within the complaints of my son. Most only hear the volume, the political perspective, the negativity, the pain, the nationality, the complaint and, well, that is it. I am very tired of the climate of hatred, disrespect, and perceived isolation – we miss a lot, perhaps almost everything. 

We share much more than we differ.

With this blog, I want to connect with, collaborate with, and celebrate with my growing network of friends, colleagues, and family around the world. It is an online place to live, learn, dream, and listen for utopia in our brilliant world.

So, welcome to my first blog.