Cooperative Living: Week 4

Ongoing journey of living in an anarchist collective

A woman stops on a street corner, points up to the sky and shouts,

“People, look! You can see it through the clouds!”

I don’t look up, because I have heard you need special glasses to protect your eyes from the magnitude of the solar eclipse today. But many people on the street squint and look up- their eyes al natural. During my run, I found a great route, which includes a infinitely long staircase in the middle of the city. Running up and down that a few times really gets me sweating.

On Tuesday Carp’s mom visited us. We ate Indian food at the restaurant down the street, then had coffee inside while it rained outside and threatened a tornado.

On Tuesday night I helped Josey and Kameko blanch green beans for the winter, make squash butter and also canned pesto. That day a big rain storm/ tornado scare passed over us, and I learned to empty the rain barrels around the house that the roof water drains into.

I don’t know if I mentioned before, but our cooperative is all vegetarian, and given a choice we buy local and organic. We are flexible on the organic and local, but meat is never allowed in the house. Also, since half of the people are vegan at our cooperative, they use nutritional yeast as a Parmesan substitute- it tastes just like it and gives you that boost of vitamin B. The other night we had a vegetable parmaesan that used ground sunflower seeds and spices for the crust. Very good.

Wednesday I went to see civil rights activist Bree Newsome speak at a community college in Syracuse (read about it here) and later that evening I went to a community conversation about white supremacy and race in America (see America’s Race Conversation).

Thursday our roommate made us fresh juice with his juicer: sorrel, cucumbers, apples.

Friday night I cooked with a few other girls and made squash butter (which I sort of burnt), canned peppers and made zucchini apple muffins. Earlier that day I started my new internship at the local refugee resettlement agency.

I’ve become used to the idea that the only sweet treat in the house is granola. I’ve come to love granola in the past few weeks.

Saturday night there was a party at our house, bringing in environmentalists from around the area. The weather has changed, and it’s become sweatshirt and long pants weather at the end of August. There were baby carrot cakes and zucchini cakes, Chinese noodles, homemade pizzas and cocktails.

“For years after we started renovating the house it smelled like piss, mold and cigarettes,” Sam tells everyone at dinner while we look up at the beautiful finished product we get to live in.”

Sunday morning we woke up early and attended a rally downtown with a few of our housemates. The rally was held at the Christopher Columbus statue in the center of town, and community members took turns speaking about what combating white supremacy in our own city looks like. It led by a new coalition forming in town to fight fascism- and I have to say that their mission was short sighted. You can’t just fight nazis, you can’t just mobilize against fascists. You have to look within yourself and the systems around you that make up the racist, sexist, ableist world we all live in. I proposed that they change their language to resisting hatred, not just fascism, so that the group could collaborate with all the other social justice groups in the city already doing good work, but lacking the members. I think it fell on deaf ears, but I’m glad I mentioned it.

Personally, I would much rather get involved with Black Lives Matter and what they are doing to organize around changing the criminal justice system, standing against police violence, ending solitary confinement, bringing attention to the critical issue of lead poisoning of children in the city, ending the practices of discrimination within the educational system, fighting against deportation of undocumented immigrants and many more things. Mobilizing every few weeks in the street with signs is not enough. We need public mobilizations in the form of protests, but we also need everyone to look within themselves and see their place in the systemic oppression America is built on, and work to change that into something new.

Later on Sunday it was my turn to cook Sunday potluck dinner for the cooperative, and I spent the rest of the day with a housemate doing that.

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