Banish Your Activist Blues
Now that the tear gas has finally settled, are you feeling down from all those clashes with cops? Exhausted from marching in oppressive heat around a strange city that you would never visit otherwise? Have a hoarse voice from arguing with corporate media who only pay attention to violence and then decry it when it happens? Don't fret, you're not alone! Even the most resilient activists take a breather every so often to treat their wounds and chill out. Balancing the pressures of today's multi-tasking activist is hard work, and you deserve more than just another long consensus meeting at the end of the day. So come in out of the pepper spray and be good to yourself by following these eight fabulous tips!!
1.Fill that renegade belly!
After a long night in jail with bologna sandwiches that are only good for forming into chess pieces, Food Not Bombs' activist "Bearclaw" suggests coconut-kale rice with fried tofu (all organic ingredients, of course,) to bone up on protein before hitting the streets again: Throw a can of coconut milk into two cups of cooked brown rice, add some shredded ginger, fresh coriander and curry and let simmer. In a frying pan, heat non-genetically modified olive oil and throw in some whole mustard seeds. Immediately add one finely diced habanero pepper and one pound of thinly sliced firm tofu. When one side gets brown, flip and add two whole bulbs of minced garlic, one chopped red onion and fresh ground pepper. Now go back to the pot of rice and add a chopped head of broccoli, with the stem, and a large bunch kale. Let that stuff steam, while adding shoyu to the tofu. "Wait for the magic to meld," says Bearclaw, "and when the rice is done, you're ready!"
2. Treat yourself to a guerrilla facial!
Tear gas is notoriously bad for your skin, clogging pores and letting toxins run wild. You need to cleanse, tone and moisturize, but forget all those expensive spa treatments! Sonya Dakar, of the Sonya Dakar Skin Care and Body Clinique in Los Angeles, suggests this yogurt-berry mask using ingredients you can find at your local health food store: Mix 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 2 tbsp. mashed strawberries, 2 tbs. whole wheat flour, 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice and 1/4 tsp. fresh ginger. Puree in a blender for sixty seconds, then spread it on your skin and let dry for fifteen minutes. Rinse well, and enjoy the benefits of firm, healed skin!
3. Take some time out for maverick yoga!
Arm strength is especially crucial for carrying signs and manipulating giant puppets. Sonya Cottle of Yoga Works in Santa Monica suggests the chadaranga posture to build and tone your upper arms: Lay flat on your stomach, with palms on the floor next to your shoulders. Push up like you're doing, well, a push-up, and hover 3-4 inches above the floor for ten breaths. Keep shoulders up, chest down and body stiff, remembering to breathe. Repeat this five times, lowering slowly to the floor in between each hold.
4. Have sex!
Not only can it relieve stress from all that hectic organizing and let you get it on with that cutie from the convergence center, but it's also a great way to feel empowered. Our Bodies, Ourselves teaches that "the erotic can be a positive source of power. The erotic not only is about what goes on in the bedroom but is about tapping into our deepest feelings and our creative energies, which run through all aspects of our lives. It can be about feeling connected - to our own strengths, to our lovers, to nature, to a higher power." So romp away, but make sure it's consensual and protected!
5. Meditate to liberate!
Hippie guru Ram Dass was spotted at the Shadow Convention in Los Angeles last week, where he conceded that meditation in the middle of a protest can cut down its boiling quality, which might not be what you want, but it can also defuse tension and pacify aggressive cops. "Focus on your breath. Slow it down as much as possible and meditate on the inhalation and exhalation," he said. "It's also good to chant om' in these situations.'"
6. Read a book!
Of course you're more informed and articulate than the simplistic mainstream pundits like to admit. But it can never hurt to bone up some more on the issues, and be reminded why you're in this fight! Juliette Beck of Global Exchange gushingly recommends When Corporations Rule the World by David Korten ("It's the anti-corporate rule activist's bible,") and No Logo by Naomi Klein ("She describes the evolution of our movement to a tee.")
7. Score some new shoes!
Duct tape can only patch up those old digs for so long, and mobility is key to scaling buildings for guerrilla banner hanging and running from riot cops. So why not stoke your toes' world? Barry Winter, a New York community garden supporter, favors hiking boots. "I like these Vasque boots," he said, "because they have a good treaded sole for quick stops and starts." Felony, a Headwaters Forest activist, interjected that she favors running shoes, "because my feet when I walk a lot and they absorb the smell." When asked what kind of running shoes, she said "anything but Nike!"
8. Redecorate your convergence center!
Last week in Los Angeles, the first thing you saw when coming into the convergence center was a sacred shrine where people placed flowers, Zapatista dolls, fruit, notes invoking their visions of the revolution and other objects of beauty. Most convergence centers are already pretty luscious, but freshen yours up with a shrine, some quiet chill-out space, and anything in shades of blue which decorators say has a calming effect.