Header Image: Koa Kalish
It matters that you care. It matters that you feel. It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
- Roger Keyes
It matters that life lives through you.
- Roger Keyes
Q: Why/what does representation in environmental spaces mean to you?
A: We are currently seeking new leadership and we need to see diversity in all sectors so that we can even conceive of new ways of being. Most importantly though, I know that when a child that looks like me, sees me in a space where representation has been scarce, it opens up a possibility for that child to consider who they might be. All of this for me is about raising up our next generations strong.
Q: What do you want people to take away from your IG?
A: My IG is my daily love letter to the resistance movement. I challenge myself to break open what it can mean to live into resistance on a daily basis. Most people cannot live on the road traveling from one rally to the next, nor should they. I want to continue to open people’s hearts to the possibility of practicing resistance through fully embodying ones own life. What happens when more people get interested in making subtle shifts on a daily basis? What happens when we start to define our successes by the food we grow and the relationships we caretake? The news is heavy, the world is heavy, and yet we are more connected than ever. I want people to take away the feeling that they are not alone. That their small acts matter. That collectively we can shift the tide. #representationmatters
Photo: Last summer on Tahltan Territory, standing tall on my ancestor land
Ive been marinating in the words below for the last 3 days because they eloquently bring to life how I feel most days. Please, let's remember the power of diverse view points, critical thinking and the root of the word compassion; meaning to be able to suffer with. An active way of practicing empathy. I'm wouldn't post this if I wasn't open to discussion so, please, let's talk.
"With regards to the rise of NeoMcCarthyism on the left:
To those empowered by recently acquired knowledge of the pervasive corruption, cronyism, and treachery inherent to imperialism, colonialism, racism, manifest destiny, patriarchy, sexism, capitalism, etc. I commend you. Welcome to the movement.
However, the swift reprisal of anyone who may not parrot the popular opinion of the week is a counterproductive measure. Disagreement is healthy. Infighting is not.
Those activists who may have moved through much of the rage-stage do not necessarily become any less wrathful, nor have they ceased sharpening their spears.
Activism takes place on a wide spectrum, upon which an individual may shift throughout life. To expect all allies to share the same opinions & strategies at all times is groupthink. It is also Totalitarian.
In previous years, alternative news was coveted due to its rarity, yet today we are incessantly bombarded with ceaseless data. Due to the age-old marketing strategy of breeding mass outrage in order to garner more views/support/attention/affirmation, many seasoned activists have taken to resisting the distraction-factory by observing longer periods of relative silence. Such silence should not be confused with apathy. Rather, it is strategic.
Outrage fatigue is real and our movement is in the thick of it.
A movement currently hijacked by hatred. Yet fighting hatred with hatred is a zero-sum game. To be clear: anger and hatred are not one in the same.
Anger can be a tool.
Hatred is cumbersome.
Self-defense is a powerful force.
Revenge seeking is blinding.
Our movement has lost this nuance.
Our movement is rewarding groupthink.
Our movement is losing compassion.
Our movement has lost sight of the long-game. Where short term "wins" and stirring up the next great controversy are becoming as addictive as fb likes.
It is a truism that the ends don't justify the means. We must do our best to embody now that which we strive to become in the future. Collectively and personally.
It brings me great concern, because if we lose sight of peace in our attempts to create a more peaceful world, what will remain that is worth fighting for?" - Summer Starr
I've been in an ever expanding conversation with Marissa Correia of ma.medicina and she recorded a portion of it for her Practical Priestess Podcast. Marissa's work with uplifting the feminine is a gift to the world and I am so grateful to be weaving our stories together.
You can listen to the episode at marissacorreia.com.
"In this episode Kailea shares about the times of media/news inundation we find ourselves in and her practice for staying present. How to really be with our hearts and what comes up when we hear these intense stories - and to not just put it down or chalk it up to the world, instead to really feel the impact and let that inform how we respond. We also speak about her growing curriculum, Earth is Ohana & the true meaning of Resistance. Kailea offers the question, “What could it mean for you / how could it feel for you to know your place of origination and to be standing and working from that place?”"
I am currently in collaboration with LOAM magazine as an artist- in- resident. The article below was written for and originally published by LOAM.
I write these words while the Eclipse is ongoing. I have not planned for this celestial event. I have not traveled out with my car into the world to stand in a field. Instead I stand in my yard and look up while a thick layer of fog casts out any glimpse I may have of the open sky. The world feels quieter and there is a flock of birds that call out again and again into the stillness, I wonder if they know. I can detect a subtle shift in the atmosphere and I feel truly alone for a moment.
I have not wanted to participate in the collective gathering of energy around the Eclipse and I do not fully know why. I do know that I am tired by the Eclipse posts in my feed and the repetitiveness that they represent. I do know that most days I feel angry and that at night an old type of fear has traveled its way into my bed. Before Charlottesville I was starting to lose my footing, post Charlottesville I can feel within my skin an under current of my old childhood temper. Flashes of red-hot, bursts through my bloodstream, the word ‘”fuck” comes out of my mouth frequently and I feel real hatred when I think of our current Presidents face. It’s the type of hatred that I so openly speak out against and that knowing makes me want to fall into myself and out from our mass channels of conversation. I don’t have something so pretty to contribute at the moment. I don’t have the energy to pick your spirits up. I want to tell you that there is a way forward, but I cannot be your guide.
I have been re-reading a letter I wrote to Adam, my boyfriend about my fear. This was in the month of December, and I had yet to arrive back in the states post our disastrous election results. I had woken up from a dream where I had spoken out at a rally in support of Trump. I said “we have to resist. Do not listen to his lies. Get up off the ground, go home, you do not have to be here.” In the dream I knew that part of doing this would put me and the people that I loved in danger. I could feel that our right to publicly speak out was slowly being taken away.
The night before writing this letter to Adam, I had watched what I would still consider the most impactful piece of media that I had taken in since the election. It was a video of Daryl Davis, the black man who is famous for befriending KKK members. A recent news article on him reads, ‘How One Man Convinced 200 Ku Klux Klan Members To Give Up Their Robes’. This video back in December was the first time that I ever heard of Daryl Davis and this mans story was a direct confrontation to everything that I had been taught. I was suddenly held accountable to my own ideas of hope and the strong boundaries that encased them. I realized I had never seen a black man standing next to KKK members, not counting a dead body swinging from a tree. I didn’t know this could be a possible reality and it felt as though a strong beam of light was shining down into my face. I felt like a hypocrite, hiding behind my fear of the perceived ‘other’. I quite literally had to raise my arm up and cover my face with my scarf from the friend that was watching this video with me. I felt ashamed as I started speaking out all of my fear. Childhood thoughts surfaced. Men in white robes are the images of my nightmares, I realized that this ingrained fear I have been carrying my whole life led to thoughts like, “These people are not human. These people are demons… these people.” I tell my friend, “I’ve only ever had two friends that were Republican. I have been raised in such an us, them mentality.” My world seems so small against the story of Daryl Davis. I am shaking inside to think about the possibility of really deconstructing these walls that I have been shaped by. I hear the stories of my family told to me at bedtime, about the one time my Indian father encountered a KKK member, how the man spoke hate into his long native hair. I am thoroughly saturated through by my mother’s plea for my safety, “Kailea the rules are different for you because you are brown. If the police stop you, you must comply. Please be safe!” I have been knowingly and unknowingly diligently building up walls of security over the past 26 years. There has always been the feeling to be small in moments of mass fear, to glide under the surface, to be an unnoticed face. This is our family’s way of survival.
I have never let these thoughts move out of my mouth into the air. I have never let them be fully realized and I feel foolish as they burst forward in my babbling. I am not brave. I am a human girl. I harbor prejudice that can be seen through the scarf that I hold over my face. When I finish talking, my friend hugs me and I cry. Suddenly there is space to think the words, “What is possible?” It had never fully occurred to me on such an embodied level that I could meet hate crimes with humanity. The idea of it grates against my insides; I take a breath and call it a night.
That was eight months ago. Eight long months in which we have been watching our government accelerate into its own inevitable collapse, taking a part of our society with it. Eight months of a continuing rise of white supremacists. Eight months of each of our own personal turmoil as we look for shelter in the echo chambers of our feeds. I know just as much as you that there will be no solace there, yet I can’t stop looking for it even as I can feel the sucking of our progressive views becoming smaller and smaller. I am not satisfied by anyone’s anger, least of all mine.
And then Charlottesville happens and it is like watching every one of my childhood nightmares come out of the night. I have been waking up from sleep and shaking Adam’s arm and speaking my fear into the dark while he tries to listen half asleep and tries to comfort while wrapping me in his arms. I lay there still awake unable to shake this feeling in my bones, it feels ancient this type of fear.
I have a personal strict protocol to not move forward fueled by hate, and so instead I have been stalled out. I know this is not what you want to hear. I am still moving, just in place. I put in my hours, check off my to-do’s and when I can, I walk up into the hills where you can hear the dry sounds of summer crack the long grasses in half. I find a bit of fuel in books just like I always have and I think everyday about how to tell the truth about the fact that I feel more and more uncomfortable in the left. How the spaces made to help POC and native people feel ‘safe’ make me furious. I feel I don’t belong anywhere. I am tired of being so careful with my words. I am tired of fitting myself into neatly crafted PC packages. I am yearning to be in conversation with people brave enough to say it wrong, brave enough to say, “I don’t know.” Our lack of exploration leads me nowhere. All of our right-ness is starting to sound very similar to everything that we say we stand against. I am starting to forget what it is we stand for. I miss hearing into the true words of people’s hearts.
Today is the day of the Eclipse. I have not read any of the horoscopes, and the fog of the North Bay blocked out my view of the sun. Instead I went and sat down in my own yard. It was not mystical, it was not deep, it was just me and my tomato plants, my half drunk cup of coffee going cold, the feeling of dry soil against my feet. I placed a prayer down for this emptiness that I feel in the form of a contained circle made of dried bachelor button petals. Dark purple, indigo, light pink, the colors tell the age of each flower, bleached lighter and lighter by days growing under the strength of the sun. Here we are as well, running around in our frantic pain while the sun ticks time, day after day. Putting ourselves to bed in the well-known fears of the past. Asking for something different while we practice all the same motions. Forgetting that we are more alike, than different, forgetting that we are rarely original in our thoughts about the world.
Rumi left us with the well-known lines, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” There are more words though that are part of this particular passage that are less known. They read, “When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense.”
I am putting down my big ideas of making sense of any of this. Instead I am asking for the courage to live into a humble life; a life where there is space to speak my fears and to hear yours too, before we set them down.
The Eclipse is over now.
Once a week I work at Point Reyes Flowers. I started working at this farm because I was so aware that I needed a natural space to report to weekly. It's the place I go to in order to receive grounding and to clear my head. Within the rows of flowers I process through the anxiety I carry on the world. Out there it becomes just about the immediate needs of the plants. Weeding, watering, feeding, observing. Each week I learn something new. Sometimes it's the scientific name of a plant, or how a tedious hand task can teach me how to be patient and mothering again and again. I learn how to slow my gait, because there is no need to run around the garden. Working with flowers brightens my spirit even as I watch their blooms wilt or when I am instructed to pull a patch that has moved through its life span.
On Saturday I was filled again and again by watching how other people interacted with our booth. Flowers for homes, flowers for lovers, flowers for a bride, flowers just for the moment. A pause in our policies, a pause in our collective pain. For all of our stumbling and uncertainty, the natural world awaits our return.
I just got home after a week in San Miguel de Allende for the Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF), where my boyfriend Adam Loften's short documentary, Welcome to Canada, was invited to screen. GIFF this year was in collaboration with Canada 150, and so most films were from either Mexican or Canadian film makers. Because of this we were lucky to sit in on many films that shared into native based issues, including KONELĪNE: our land beautiful which gives a stunning look into Tahltan Territory, and the many perspectives that are lived around extractive based industry. It was incredible to watch my ancestral land on the big screen and hear from a variety of audience members during Q&A led by director Nettie Wild. This was perhaps the fourth time I have watched this film and each time it brings up something new for me. It is likely the most non-biased documentary I have ever seen, that was created intentionally with letting go of ideas around right or wrong. Instead, as Nettie shared, her crews mission was to capture the poetry of each person in front of their lens.
Our second highlighted film was another documentary titled, Angry Inuk which opens the dialogue on the polarization that activism can often create. This film was specifically pertinent, sharing into the oppression that inuit peoples have been facing due to both policies and environmentalism. There were so many lessons in this film, I was reminded that we need to remember to understand how an issue impacts communities on all levels, and that dialogue across what we may perceive as differences is ALWAYS important.
I am currently in collaboration with LOAM magazine over the next month as an artist- in- resident. The article below was written for and originally published by LOAM.
I don’t yet have a name for this moment that continues to repeat itself over the years, but it looks something like this. What starts out, as a conversation with an elder on today’s current affairs, quickly turns painfully honest as the elder speaks to what is likely in store for my generation. This last happening occurred on Sunday while at my boyfriend’s mother’s house for her birthday. It was a women’s only affair and I suddenly found myself in a room of white hair, the youngest by easily 45 years. While sipping tea and eating scones and clotted cream I found myself deep in a conversation with two other women on climate and politics. Two grandmothers dressed for tea were suddenly in the thick of their passion, struggling to keep their voices even as they spoke to the reality of our times. Berkeley's late afternoon sun poured into my lap while I sat mainly quiet, sandwiched between the two. I could feel where this was heading, and suddenly we had arrived at ‘the moment’, where the grandmothers had talked themselves out, and all that was left to do, was turn to me in sadness. “All I can say”, spoke one, “is that I’m grateful I was born at the time that I was.” The other woman silently nodded her head in agreement. “We’re sorry, we don’t have to talk about this any more, it’s too depressing” she finished with.
This is the moment that I have yet to name. I wonder about the other times in the history of humankind, when the passing of the baton to the next generation was such a somber ordeal? When elders felt more grateful for the fact that their lives were nearing an end, when looking into the eyes of those who still had so much life to live out. A few years ago when these odd interactions first started happening they confused me. I was used to looking towards adults for guidance and support, and it was a strange sort of societal initiation when I realized that I was now also considered an adult, in that I was no longer shielded from all that was falling apart. Perhaps what was most unsettling was the ease that sometimes accompanied an adult handing over ‘the world’ to me. “Here,” some would say, “we may have fucked it up beyond repair, hopefully you can make it better.” These dead end comments would leave me infuriated and struggling with myself when I couldn’t seem to create the capacity to internalize that we seemed to currently be living out some version of the end of the world. Now I realize, that this is a near impossible task. I am not sure that we humans are fully equipped to comprehend on an emotional or psychic level what it is we are in store for. We are struggling to realize in the midst of the unraveling, that we are unraveling. And we are struggling with the ability to take responsibility for our part in it all.
I’ve had a small collection of rose buds drying over the last weeks and I took them with me outside, with these thoughts in mind. I sat and slowly began to peel a bud open, petal by petal. “This is me consciously creating an unraveling,” I thought to myself. I picked up a second bud that was still intact and placed it in the center of the petals, and questioned the possibility of new growth from something old and decaying. Often I find myself feeling stuck, conscious that I am living and working within an old and dying system with the hopes of creating something new. I feel frustrated when I bump up against what seem to be immobile boundaries. “Will I to one day be an elder grateful for my passing time on this earth, simultaneously saddened by all that I could not or did not do? Will I give up early, and eagerly throw the baton of responsibility into the hands of my grandchildren?” I ask myself these questions and it makes me feel like a coward. I pick up a pinch of tiny dried petals and sprinkle them within a larger petal, “this will be a prayer for courage”, I say to myself. Moving to the next petal, I place a prayer within for belief. I desperately need to believe in something beyond our current environmental and political crisis. I do this 9 more times, moving around the center bud, laying down prayers for my own responsibility, for growing into eldership, for steadfastness even when I am scared. And then right as I place my last prayer down, a small gust of wind comes through, overturning a petal, sending bits and pieces of my thoughts into the air. An eternal reminder that we will never be in control and that everything is already in motion.
A week and a half ago I got to spend my afternoon in deep conversation with three woman who have greatly impacted my last year. Elder Joanna Macy, Morgan Curtis and I sat down to be interviewed by Ayana Young for, For the Wild's - Sisters Bonded In Action - series. Our topic, 'Staying Sane Amidst Mass Psychosis'. Ironically I was feeling incredibly upset that morning, wondering how it was that I was going share about staying sane. While preparing over breakfast, I sat down and re-read one of Joanna's interviews from earlier this year. The message that rang through had to do with a response she gave to the question, "Why do you do this work?" "I'm doing this work so that when things fall apart, we will not turn on each other,"she responded. I needed this reminder. The act of coming together, the act of talking it out, the act of building relationship are the acts that I am here to do. Just like all of you, I don't have all of the answers, but I do have friends, and somehow this in itself is enough to get me through.
"Staying Sane Amidst Mass Psychosis” is an interview that features Deep Ecologist, Joanna Macy and Spiritual Ecology Fellows, Morgan Curtis and Kailea Frederick. Interviewed by Ayana Young, founder of For the Wild, their collaborative interview brings insightful and relevant thoughts on how we can live into the sacred on behalf of life.
Sisters Bonded In Action, is about women coming together to deconstruct so that we can continue to raise each other up
In honor of this July Full Moon.
Moon brings cycles. Cycles feed seeds. Seeds grow roots. Roots dig deep. Plants grow up. Flowers bloom out... We bow.