One of my goals for this output was to collate resources for peri-institutional agroecologists that can support them in their own self-education in agroecology.
In order to achieve this goal and leverage my dissemination, I decided to create a resources section on my website rather than on mahara.
I have created a resources page on my Empty Cages Design website here: http://www.emptycagesdesign.org/resources/
I have uploaded 100+ resources so far, and aim to continue uploading them throughout the year beyond the life of this output packet.
The aim of my fourth output packet is assessing my impact in my fields, with a focus on my political organising work. Therefore in order to complete this output in a timely way, I have decided to not complete this section but instead to integrate it into OP4.
In my other output periods, I have proactively tracked certain things, such as the number of hours sleep I have, or the amount of time spent on the computer. I did not utilise this form tracking system during this output, mainly because I was recovering from a chronic illness and had limited time and attention to complete a daily form. I do have some regret in this decision, because it would have created some useful and interesting data that tracked my recovery.
However, I did track my recovery in other ways, most notably in my blog series on overcoming burnout.
Below you can find links to the various entries that share reflections. The learning from this writing and life experience has resulted in many self-gare gains, such as an increased awareness of my own body, starting a yoga practice, increased attention to my nutrition and various deficiencies, greater amounts of sleep and rest, as well as greater attention to socialising and nourishing quality friendships.
- 19 - The Ecology of Feeling Shit (vitamin deficiencies, gut flora, parasites etc that contribute to poor mental health)
18 - This shit is vicarious (vicarious trauma)
17 - Fear (role of fear in mental health)
16 - How to not leave people behind (how to support people with a chronic illness to stay engaged in social struggles)
15 - Organising with a chronic illness (how it feels to be involved in social movements with a chronic illness)
14 - What the f**k is costochondritis?! Physically healing from burnout (how I have physically healed e.g. massage, herbs etc)
12 - The Relentless Rollercoaster of Prisoner Support (how it feels to do long-term prisoner support work)
9 - When class is a struggle (the challenges of working with middle/upper class folks)
8 - Hindsight is a beautiful thing (what I would have done differently to prevent burnout)
7 - Composting Grief (how we process grief in social movements)
6 - Patriarchy makes me tired (role of gender in burnout)
3 - Transforming not withdrawing (how to overcome burnout without dropping out)
I track the skill flexes I am gaining through output work in my google spreadsheet the Skill Flex Assessment Tracker. You can view the tracker here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12FsF3TbpYqc3JrRbDa2DyYpN3kEAGUVxmOxwGoy52jo/edit?usp=sharing
In summary, the main skills I have cultivated during this Output Period, specifically relating this this output are:
- Knowledge of fruits, vegetables & crops that can grow in temperate climates
- Knowledge of fruits, vegetables & crops that can grow in non-temperate climates
- Knowledge & experience of fruit tree cultivation
- Knowledge & experience of nut tree cultivation
- Knowledge & experience of medicinal plant cultivation
- Understanding & experience of agroforestry systems
- Understanding & experience of forestry systems & woodland management
- Understanding of mycology and mycological applications
- Practical mushroom cultivation skills
- Knowledge of diverse soils & soil building applications
- Soil biology & soil food webs
- Fertility & soil building
- Knowledge of wild foods & useful plants
- Market gardening/larger scale cultivation
- Knowledge of native flora & fauna
- Knowledge of how to restore ecosystem functions
- Understanding & experience of diverse habitat restoration
- Knowledge of how water moves through the landscape
- Knowledge & experience of run off capture & flood water management
- Knowledge of traditional local agriculture, systems & relationships with plants
- Knowledge of traditional agriculture & Hunter Gatherer communities in different cultures
- Understanding & experience of designing diverse systems including but not limited to:
- Urban homes
- Suburban homes
- Rural & farmland
- Woodlands & forests
- Understanding & experience of application with permaculture ethics
- Understanding & experience of application with design methodologies
- Observation skills
- Landscaping reading & observation skills
- Design analysis skills
- Cultivating systems thinking/literacy
- Burnout strategies/group self-care support
- Skilled social media usage
- Article writing
- Advanced website design
- Grammar/spelling/technical english language ability
- Project design/proposal writing
- Creating, crafting & utilising support systems
- Facilitating action learning
- Nature awareness
- Participatory action learning/research
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Literature review
- Mapping & participatory mapping
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Herb identification
- Dealing with emotions
Apart from a few people, I generally feel very unsupported and unloved. I feel people mainly value me for my organising/ability to get things done and not much else. I feel like I give so much energy to other people. I feel like I go above and beyond for close friends and then feel disappointed when people don't love or support me in the same way. I don't know how certain friends could let me do a prison sentence alone. I don't know how my father could live abroad and not see his children. What kind of human being does that?!?!? I don't know how to heal from this mistrust.
What is my desired transformed life?
- integrated militant self care
- prioritised relationships
- increased focus and strategic approaches to projects
- regenerative financial plan
- deepened connection to plants, land base, spirituality and health through herbalism blogging and study
What do I fear?
I fear Sam dying: the loss of my best friend, the loss of my future, one of the main anchors and purpose in my life
I fear Claire dying (same feelings)
I fear failing them both and living with that sense of failure (that I couldn't get them out of prison, that I wasn't enough of a reason to stay alive for)
I fear the pain of grief and it's all encompassing effects on life (daily mood and emotion, effects on relationships, affected ability to work and organise).
I fear my life falling apart, descending into chaos
I fear my rage, I fear my self and what I would do in revenge
I fear for my mental health, that I won't be able to hold all these feelings and that ill have a breakdown
I fear for my physical health, that I'll be in pain, bed ridden again etc. I have a sense of being "finished off", a fear of overwhelm
Why am I not kinder to myself? How can I be more so?
Huge amount on my plate:
- Uncertainty about Sam's cancer
- uncertainty about Claires cancer
- partner on other side of world, relationship uncertainty
- recovering from a chronic illness
- income uncertainty. Feed Avalon challenges. Fear.
- unprecedented intimidating prison reforms & feeling completely unable to mount significant resistance
- two closest friends facing extradition and prison
- falling out with one of my best friends
- ex partner resurfacing bringing up stuff. Confusion RE my sexuality and sexual attraction to people. Lack of sexual intimacy.
- lack of quality time with friends and support networks because of the above
- lingering long term trauma and grief I'm trying to process & heal
I feel like sometimes I pathologise myself. Or at least my feelings about myself come from opinions of professionals or others. Like new age type values/dogmas.
I want to work fucking hard. Yes I have some deep deep behaviour patterns from my childhood and beyond. But I am also full of rage and passion and I want to tear this prison system down. And actually that may mean pushing myself, it may mean less nights with friends or less days in the garden but this is my choice. I am accepting these losses. I am choosing to organise on the frontlines. Yes I want my work to be sustainable. But I don't want banality or half cut measures. I don't particularly want to be sitting smugly on a yoga mat when I'm 70 having never taken any risks. I will fight with all I have. If that means no kids, if that means a shorter life, if that means time in prison... Then so be it. Destroying domination is the only thing that will make my heart beat in the way that I need it to.
Sometimes I feel trapped in a nightmare that I can't wake up from. Sam is in the depths of despair right now and all she talks about is how suicide is her only way out. She feels like she is being left to die in that prison. And I can't argue differently, they couldn't give a fuck if she did. Her fear of punishment is so intense because of how badly beaten she was in seg in holloway she won't let me fight for her on the outside, all I can do is get her solicitor involved, write complaint letters and make calls. None of which I know will make any difference.
Some days I feel so haunted by my time in prison. For years I wouldn't speak publicly about it, I'd barely open up to close mates. But some nights I just can't fight the returning images or memories.
I worked as a listener with the samaritans in jail which meant listening to suicidal women for hours and hours each week. In hindsight I think the scheme is totally fucked up. I did not have enough training or support to do that work, let alone while trying to get through my own sentence.
Sometimes when I close my eyes all I can see are the bruised necks from the ligature attempts, or the bleeding arms, or the weeping girls. There wasn't a single person in that jail if you didn't take time to listen didn't have the most fucked up childhood.
And the same women that were molested as children, and beaten as wives, were treated like punch bags or sex objects by male screws. And to the rest of the world they are nobodies. "Scum", "junkies", "Criminals". This is the prisoner class.
And the more anti-prison work I try to do, the more I realise how most people, even when they learn of the suicides or the injustice, they still just really don't care. And for most of the anarchists, it's all a fucking game they can eventually retire from. And for the academics, we are just an interesting group of people to study and pathologise. And for the social workers and charities we are just the people to "rehabilitate" or "reform". And for the men in suits, our bodies are just fucking capital.
I don't know if I feel more rage at the people running these institutions, or at the woeful resistance mounted to them.
It's interesting depending on Sam's mental state, the different ways she'll talk about jail. On a good day she'll say her "room", on a bad "her cell" and today "a cage". And it makes me think of all the other human and non humans in cages right now. And it breaks me.
The only thing that gives me hope is that there are some beautiful people fighting back. And to you folk, I owe you my heart, because without you it would have remained broken a hundred times over.
Two years today my best friend Gilly's heart stopped beating. I had some bereavement counselling last year that helped shift a lot of my feelings to a place of gratitude and acceptance. But the pain on days like today is so intense. With Gilly I felt like I could do anything, like no campaign was too ambitious, no action too daring. I feel so lost without her, the world feels lonely and frightening some how. I miss loving her and being loved by her so much.