History Matters

Carol A. Hand

As William Blake wrote,

“What is now proved was once only imagined.”

I choose to imagine a future based on the best of the past.

“The forests have never failed the Ojibway. The trees are the glory of the Gitchi Manito. The trees, for as long as they shall stand, will give shelter to the Anishinabe and the Animal Brothers. They are a gift. As long as the Ojibway are beneath, the trees will murmur with contentment. When the Ojibway and the Animal Brothers are gone, the trees will weep and this will be reflected in the sound of the si-si-gwa-d”. My grandmother told me this is so, and her grandmother told her. When the forest weeps, the Anishinabe who listen will look back at the years. In each generation of Ojibway there will be a person who will listen and remember and pass it on to children. Remembering our past and acting accordingly will ensure that we, the Ojibway, will always people the earth. The trees have patience and so they have stood and have seen many generations of Ojibway. Yet will there be more, and yet will they see more” (Ignatia Broker, pp. 32-33).

lac du flambeau www dot distancebetween cities dot net

Photo Credit: Lac du Flambeau Photo Credits: Lac du Flambeau

This is a profoundly different future than the one Columbus envisioned.

“Christopher Columbus introduced two phenomena that revolutionized race relations and transformed the modern world: the taking of land, wealth, and labor from indigenous peoples, leading to their extermination, and the transatlantic slave trade, which created a racial underclass” (Loewen, p. 60).

Taino men and women greeted him with gifts when he landed on the shore of the Caribbean islands. His ruminations were simple.

“They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want” (Zinn, p. 1).

Bartolomé de las Casas wrote about what he witnessed later in Cuba.

“Endless testimonies … prove the mild and pacific temperament of the natives…. But our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy; small wonder, then, if they tried to kill one of us now and then…. The admiral, it is true, was blind to those who came after him, and he was so anxious to please the King that he committed irreparable crimes against the Indians (Zinn, p. 6).

“Spaniards hunted Indians for sport and murdered them for dog food” (Loewen, p. 62).


Photo Credit: Columbus and his men hunted natives with war dogs.”

“What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas, Cortes did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots” (Zinn, p. 11).

As always, there are choices. We can continue to believe the manufactured myths of heroic characters, or recognize we have a responsibility to be honest about the past. Without grounding in truth, we will be unable to find the way to a future that is based on the best we can imagine, walking beneath trees that murmur with contentment because we recognize that all life is sacred.

tree of peace

Photo Credit: Tree of Peace by Artist John Fadden

Works Cited:

Ignatia Broker (1983). Night Flying Woman: An Ojiway narrative. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press.

James W. Loewen (1995). Lies my teacher told me: Everything your American history textbook got wrong. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Howard Zinn (1990). A people’s history of the United States. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.


Extend Your Brand – Seriously? – Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

I remember as a teenager, I continually felt anguish because I was “different.” I desperately wished I could be like my peers instead of always questioning everything from a critical stance. Blogging 101 is beginning to remind of those adolescent days, although I have been reluctant to write about it because I don’t mean to be disparaging of things that appear to be important to others.

This course has helped me conclude that Voices from the Margins is aptly named. The past two assignments for blogging 101 this week have made me realize the blog I share with a partner is on the margins, although many of the friends in our blogging community share the space on the margins with us. After surveying the “events” and “challenges” sponsored by other blogs in response to an assignment, nothing seemed to fit as a place to highlight work I feel is important. Although it may be appropriate for others in the course to focus on expanding readership, proving one’s uniqueness through promotion and competition, and claiming one’s niche, these aren’t really what our blog claims to be about. Sure, I did find one “event” that focused on prose, but the prompt for the week was “horror.” I don’t write fiction, but interpreted from a different perspective, this prompt could certainly include my past posts about Native American boarding schools and child welfare practices, or cultural contrasts of approaches to hunting and gathering, but it would have been a stretch and may well have been viewed as arrogant or offensive.

But today’s assignment – branding?

branding iron slide

Sources: Definition and Image

I understand that it’s the new fad for universities that are eagerly adopting a corporate model in order to compete more effectively “for students and supplies in the marketplace” (Rex Whisman, n.d., para. 1). But honestly, I can’t ignore the images that came to mind when I hear the word “branding.” As someone who is ever sensitive to colonial hegemony, when I read the assignment for today,

I saw images of branding cattle,


Photo Credit: Cattle Branding

branding 2

Photo Credit: Cattle Brands

branding women who transgress society’s narrow strictures for “proper” behavior,

branding 3

Photo Credit: The Scarlet Letter

and what we still think is an appropriate way to stereotype Native American people.

branding 4

Photo Credit: Washington DC Football Team

I do hope at least some readers can step back and think about what the term “branding” implies from different perspectives and consider whether this is really an appropriate way to think about building supportive networks to exchange ideas and overcome the differences that are used to divide us. Branding is a corporate concept based on successfully overcoming one’s competitors. That’s not my idea of a supportive community. A song by Sweet Honey in the Rock comes to mind as a more accurate way for describing how I envision an ideal blogging community “ We Are – One.”

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“You Need to Remember What Is Really Important”: Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

I remember rushing up Bascom Hill, a hefty climb, to the Social Science building at UW- Madison. I didn’t want to be late for class. I was the teaching assistant and official note taker for the undergraduate diversity class of 465 students. It was a lovely fall morning and I was feeling a sense of excitement. I had just received news that the grant I wrote with one of my professors had been funded by the National Institute of Health, the top in the pool of applicants. It meant I would be on a fast track to finish my doctorate with a career in academia guaranteed.


Photo Credit: Bascom Hill, University of Wisconsin – Madison

As I crested the top of the hill, I neared the site of one of the last battles of the Black Hawk War. Just shy of the plaque commemorating the war, a tribal elder appeared dressed in an unlikely outfit – blue jeans and a plaid flannel shirt. He looked at me with severity and simply said, “You need to remember what is really important.” I didn’t have time to reflect on the message then, but in the decades since it is something I contemplate often, although this isn’t a story I share with others for obvious reasons. The challenge of walking in two worlds, one based on rationality and empirical evidence and the other based on a deeper spiritual awareness are not easily reconciled. It turns out that I didn’t finish my degree based on elder caregiver issues. It would take more than a decade and many experiences later to finally complete a study on Indian child welfare, but that’s another story.

black hawk marker_big

Photo Credit: Dennis McCann, Journal Sentinel 

Today, I was reminded of this unlikely encounter by the last two blogging 101 assignments: “Content Loves Design”, and “Plug in to Social Networks.” Again I am reminded to think more deeply about why I began blogging in the first place and why I have continued. Honestly, I do hope people read my posts and find something of value. And I am grateful for the virtual friendships and community that allow me to see the world from so many different perspectives. Yet I am challenged daily to remember what is really important. It isn’t fame, and it isn’t being acknowledged by awards or having thousands of followers. For me, blogging is about connecting on deeper levels with people who share a commitment to exploring how we can each make the world a better place in our own ways.

Facebook is a necessary superficial medium to maintain some connection with family and acquaintances, but it has proven to be a profoundly disappointing venue for engaging in substantive dialogue. LinkedIn, focused on connecting on a professional level is likewise not a platform for sharing deeper dialogue. So what would be my purpose for using either of those venues for engaging potential readers?

Looking back at my encounter with the tribal elder who miraculously appeared, I realize that what I have needed to learn at various points in my life has appeared at the time I was able to learn from the message – Sartre’s existentialism, Camus’ absurdism, Kuhn’s scientific revolutions, Bronfrenbrenner’s ecosystems theory, or Freire’s liberatory praxis. The stories I tell are no comparison, but I think they do have meaning for those who find them when the time is right.

I am grateful for the prompts that encouraged me to think more deeply about life on the margins and what really matters. For me, it isn’t fancy fonts or fame. In an age of overwhelming choices, I realize once again how grateful I am for the community that finds what I share worthy of attention although what I have to say is simple and unadorned.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

illUmiNations: Protecting Our Planet

This is such a crucial resource describing the challenges we all face as a result of global climate change. JoAnn Chateau graciously agreed to allow us to reblog her post.

Progressive Graffiti

I would have liked to have seen this (in person). Glad to see it now. Very moving.

The Whole World Is Singing… But We’ve Stopped Listening

20 September 2014 – In the lead-up to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit, the United Nations lit up its iconic Headquarters complex in New York with a spectacular 30-story architectural projection show aimed to inspire global citizens to take climate action.

Entitled “illUmiNations: Protecting Our Planet”, and organized in partnership with the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) and Obscura Digital, the projections were shown on the white marble west facade of the UN General Assembly Hall and north facade of the Secretariat building from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday evening.

UN News Centre

The voice-over is by Jane Goodall.

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What Does the Future Hold?

I’m reposting the story I wrote for my beloved dog Cookie on the first anniversary of her death. Even though I adopted a new delightful companion, Pinto, soon after her death, I know I will always remember the last walk we took together and the aching grief I felt as I held her in my arms as she quietly stopped breathing, an end to her debilitating pain.

Voices from the Margins

Carol A. Hand

In April, 2013, I wrote a story about an encounter that featured my beloved dog, Cookie. I ended with the question, “Who knows what next spring will bring?”

front yard april 21 2013

It was the end of the longest, snowiest winter I can remember during her life – it kept snowing until May. I suspected as I wrote the question that it would be Cookie’s last spring. I had seen her gradually age during our 11 years together. I have lost loved ones before, yet losing Cookie is somehow much more painful. I have lost a beloved friend and teacher. She taught me about becoming ever more loving, peaceful, and gentle. And on our final walk together, she showed me how to savor each moment of life, to stop frequently and take in the beauty that surrounds us with each new step.

I am so grateful for her friendship during those…

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Sometimes Silly – Let’s Draw Pictures and Play: Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

I share this with love for my granddaughter, Ava, in memory of the days we spent playing this summer. Although I most often post serious prose, and claim no talent as an artist or poet, I am willing to be silly on rainy days when we’re stuck inside.

It’s a dark rainy day,
So what can we do?

Let’s draw pictures and play,

Ahma 6

Photo Credit: Artist Ava, Coloring by Ahma – Summer 2014

I’ll draw one of you.


Photo Credit: Artist Ava, Coloring by Ahma

And you’ll draw one of me,

Ahma 2

Photo Credit: Artist Ahma, Coloring by Ava

Then we’ll switch and we’ll color.
Oh no – who can that be?

Ahma 5

Photo Credit: A Shared Creation by Ava and Ahma

(In case you’re wondering, Ahma is the name my grandson gave me when he was first learning to speak – before he could pronounce “g” and “r”. It’s the name my grandchildren continue to use. )

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Response to Today’s Daily Prompt – Truth Serum: Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

Let me be honest – I’ll take the truth serum and risk being misunderstood. I don’t like daily prompts. I realize many people do and they often share exquisite essays, photos, and poems. For me, they’re a distraction. The stories I write about come from an urgency that won’t let me rest until they are written – the opposite of writer’s block. At times, this is extremely annoying. When I have tasks that need doing like now – a garden to harvest and a yard to get ready for winter – ignoring the pressure to write means I risk a lack of focus for the rest of the day.

It’s true that there are times when writing is difficult for me – the kind of writing that requires accurate details. I have two books in process that require that sort of attention right now. They’re on hold until I have time to immerse myself into the work it will take to interweave historical and contextual details into a storyteller’s voice.

No one made me sign up for blogging 101. It’s a choice I made, hence I am completing this assignment quickly so I can rush outside to get some work done on this cloudy, chilly, blustery day. I don’t mean to be dismissive of my compatriots in this adventure, but I need to care for the gardens that are my most pressing responsibility today, when the time is right.

truth serum

Photo Credit: Geek. com

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Creating Caring Communities: Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

“Transformation of the world implies a dialectic between two actions: denouncing the process of dehumanization and announcing the dream of a new society.” (Freire, 1998, p. 74)

This morning I awoke reflecting about the connections among widgets, community building, and political advocacy. What is the purpose for using widgets skillfully or expanding one’s blogging community? What is the reason behind promoting political candidates on the basis of their support for paid maternity and sick leave? And what do these apparently unconnected realms have in common? Widgets, political advocacy, and community building all rely on neutral technologies. Each can be used as a tool to work toward a vision. But what vision should I use my time to pursue? Which technologies should I try to master?


Photo Credit: http://wp-themes.der-prinz.com/clearfocus/

If I dress up a blog with clever, engaging widgets without attending to the content of my posts, what is the purpose? If I work to expand my blogging community and lose my sense of purpose, what’s the point of blogging? In a world beset by so many serious challenges, is the wisest, most compelling focus of advocacy really paid-maternity and sick leave? How does this change corporate hegemony? How can the technological tools of widgets, community-building, and political advocacy be used to further the vision of creating caring communities?

“… it is as necessary to be immersed in existing knowledge as it is to be open and capable of producing something that does not yet exist. (Freire, 1998, p. 35)

My recent excursion into the contemporary world of political advocacy raised many more questions than it answered for me. Yes, I do want to volunteer my skills as a writer to create caring communities, yet I feel out of touch with what motivates people. Expert-driven banking models of working with people are just not my style. Yet these approaches may be more effective for the women who recently attended the event I observed than anything I might suggest. Who am I to critique people who shoulder the challenge of advocating for progressive agendas in today’s political environment? To critique women who show up for an event because they care about issues? Just because I feel a need to focus on root causes and deeper questions doesn’t mean my approach is better or more effective. Yet without a broader and deeper framework, do we really have a way to connect each advocacy step toward a larger goal?

“ … to teach is not to transfer knowledge but to create the possibilities for the production or construction of knowledge” (Freire, 1998, p. 30)

One of the speakers mentioned the importance of stories. Each woman in the room had a story to tell about the specific issues that were salient for her, and the reasons why she showed up to make persuasive phone calls to other woman to encourage them to support “progressive” candidates. Although each woman was asked to introduce herself at the beginning, each was limited to one sentence that described who she was and why she was involved in the call-bank event. Then, each participant was given the script she should read when she contacted potential woman voters – a script that was written by the sponsoring agency staff. Yes, there were forms participants could fill out to record the stories they heard from other women, but what about sharing their own stories in the conversations? What about beginning the meeting by giving each woman 10 minutes to write out her story and reasons for showing up for the event? What about asking each woman to share her story as appropriate during her phone conversations? A voice of experience and passion based on her shared connections with the women she called?

“… the educator who is dominated by authoritarian or paternalistic attitudes that suffocate the curiosity of the learner finishes by suffocating his or her own curiosity.” (Freire, 1998. p . 79)

I was merely a respectful observer until I was asked to role play the phone call recipient. There were no willing volunteers so I reluctantly agreed. I wanted the women in the room to be prepared for tough situations, so I played an anti-welfare conservative. The woman role-playing the caller gave me a “thumbs up” as we sparred in our demonstration. The woman near me whispered – “That’s exactly how some of the people I call respond.” But the supervisor for the sponsoring agency felt a need to say that the scenario I portrayed rarely happened. The message I heard was that my skills didn’t fit with the agency’s agenda. Intending only to be helpful, I felt like I was threatening her control of the event’s agenda. All I did was respond to a request with the best of intentions. I used my education and experiences as someone who taught interviewing at a college level to help people deal with anger, rejection, or tough topics.

“The freedom that moves us, that makes us take risks, is being subjugated to a process of standardization of formulas and models in relation to which we are evaluated.” (Freire, 1998, p. 102)

The organizers of the event knew I was only there to observe to see if there was some way I could write about their efforts for the general public. The message I walked away with as people gathered their phones and learned the sophisticated technological system that would keep track of the calls and responses, was perhaps it’s best to explore other volunteer opportunities. There was no room here to dialogue about root causes and larger visions of creating caring communities in partnership with the women who came to make calls and the women who were called. My values and visions didn’t fit with the approaches I witnessed. I do, however, have another possibility for volunteering that I plan to explore. But I’m still not sure about spending stressful time dealing with widgets or the wisdom of continuing to expand a blogging community that already stretches past my ability to read and respond thoughtfully to the many people I follow and admire.

“The place upon which a new rebellion should be built is not the ethics of the market place with its crass insensitivity to the voice of genuine humanity but the ethics of universal human aspiration. The ethics of human solidarity.” (Freire, 1998, p. 116)

community lakeshore dot wnyric dot org

Photo Credit: http://www.lakeshore.wnyric.org/domain/19

In the spirit of strengthening our caring community, please let me know what you think …

Work Cited:

Paulo Freire (1998). Pedagogy of freedom: Ethics, democracy, and civic courage. Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In the News Today…

Carol A. Hand

This attempt at humor made it into Huffington Post’s major news stream this morning. I’m curious to know what others think about it.



If you’re interested in my views, here’s an old post that describes what I think: https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/were-honoring-indians-2/


I look forward to your comments!

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