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Today is the birthday of my oldest child, my son Christopher. He’s no longer a child and sometimes it’s painful to think how old he really is. (Mothers of grown children will know what I mean.) On the other hand, the advantage of having grown children is that you get to see what fine people they have become. 

Christopher has indeed become a man of whom I am very proud. He has always been a caring person, a deep and wide thinker, a good debater and persistent in attaining  his goals. He also knows how to have fun. He has an excellent sense of humor and loves all kinds of games. He’s also a loyal friend. Though many miles away, he’s still good friends with people from his childhood, high school and college. A party at his house can easily bring eighty to a hundred people.

As he was graduating from high school he was voted Most Likely To Succeed. And, succeed he has on many fronts. He is very passionate about saving the planet, one step at a time. 

christopherAfter graduating from St. John’s College he went on to study Permaculture and formed his own company, Holistic Solutions. He’s now a partner with Natural Investments. He and his life partner, Genevieve, just purchased an acre in northern California with the intention of  restoring the land and house in line with holistic principles. This will now be a true urban homestead with gardens, chickens and bees. The house is undergoing a “green” overhaul. Their progress is slow but you can follow them at their blog Greening Gumview.

I asked each of my family members to send me something creative to add to this celebration. Christopher has written lots of articles but recently has dabbled in poetry. For Christmas he and Genevieve created personalized poems/limericks and put them on coffee mugs. They were quite humorous and “spot-on” for each person. This week in a leadership class he created another poem. I’ll let him tell you about it. Enjoy.

 

A Poem – Where I Am From

by Christopher

Yesterday I was part of a workshop that was examining racial, class and social privileges, and how those privileges help or hinder making progress with global sustainability. One phrase the workshop facilitators used was “male privilege,” the idea that guys are not aware of all of the things they can do and get away with that woman have to work extra hard for. I imagine that privilege is obvious to all of the women reading this. There are obvious racial and class privileges as well. To help us clarify our self identity and get to know other people in the class, we did a great writing exercise.

It’s a simple poem exercise called “I am from ….” The idea is that each person writes a poem of six lines. Each of the six lines starts with “I am from …” The first line you answer with a specific place, such as a room, building, city, neighborhood, community, region, etc. Second line you answer with specific smells, for example smells of foods cooking, growing plants, urban smells, crowded subway, whatever smells remain in your memory from “home.” Third line you answer with specific racial, ethnic, and socio-economic customs, daily practices, celebrations, rituals, that remind you of “home.” Forth line you answer with specific sounds, such as music, languages, traffic, animals, etc. Fifth line is answered with specific racial boundaries, whether explicit or implicit, exclusion or inclusion. The final line is specific people, ancestors, family, heroes, role models, those who inspire you. You put it all together into a simple six line poem that gives an idea of who you are.

The usual form is “I am from…” repeated six times. The facilitator did offer that we didn’t have to be constrained by the “I am from …” format and could be more freeform if we wanted. I decided to try and freeform it, and see if I could finagle some rhymes in there. Apparently I was the only one out of the class of 30 who tried this. If I may brag, and why not, it’s my mom’s blog, I completed this poem in about 12 minutes. I guess if you like the poem it’s a brag, if you don’t then it’s a good excuse! Here’s what I came up:

Midwest, Missor-a is from where I come,
Peppery pot roast always filled the tum. 
Fireworks on 4th of July; a coke, some lime, a splash of rum. 
Roosters called us early, before the sun.
White, well-educated, wealthy, woman-loving, (did I say white?) dude – privilegism, an epitom. 
I cry at MLK’s speeches, I credit my mum. 

OK, OK, I know the fifth line doesn’t make any sense. In this class we were reviewing all forms of privilege: racial, education level, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, etc, and I was feeling the pinch, seeing how I fit every niche of privilege identified. The facilitator had written all of these privileges as “-isms”: racism, classism, ageism, etc. and we were talking about how lucky and privileged all of us in the room were and someone made a crack about “privilegism.” I thought that was funny, and realized I was the epitome of privilegism. But then I had to make up a word to rhyme with rum and sun, and I thought epitom sounded pretty good. Turns out “epitom” is the Danish and German word for epitome in English, which I think connects nicely to our family ancestors. I know, this is turning into one of those, “if-you-have-to-explain-it-it-isn’t-funny” kind of things …

What do you think Mom? Seems to capture me pretty well, yes?

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