I am so damn tired. So tired of watching the country descend into atrocity after atrocity. Environmental Devastation, unmarked mercenaries pulling people out of the streets of Manhattan, longboards rolling down the street without an owner. Even closer to home, I think of the man in Belchertown who showed up to a Trump rally wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe. Even closer, in the space I reside in- we’re dealing with the uncertainty of what comes for renting after the Massachusetts moratorium. My mom’s gotten literally sick from the air we breathe.
A web of little evils has weaved itself of tendrils, at the ready to entrap me into hairpin that could set off tidal waves of full-blown cataclysm. I know I’m not the only one going through these feelings- life In 2020 has truly become suffocating.
A few weeks back, I breathed in smoky air. That smoke blew thousands of miles across the country to us, from the charred remains of my favorite state in the country. I remember when I buried that part of my heart, back in the summer of 2019 when the Wildfires first became national news. My lungs are tired. It’s a shame how elusive fresh air feels, cooped up and pressed against one full weight of an empire In collapse. If I were to have a dollar for every person that was killed in this pandemic, I would be able to purchase a modest house free and clear in my hometown. More than two hundred thousand lives, and some people actually /do/ have a measure of how many dollars they get for each COVID death.
I just finished my bi-weekly ritual, the COVID test. Negative again. Thank Christ. I think of this, the respiratory pandemic, and my lungs are once again tired. These lungs, that used to play the loudest goddamn trombone in David Prouty High School’s recent memory, that scream and sing and weep on the bullhorn, that speaks softly into the mic with nuance and warmth- so much falls on these lungs, and by God are they tired.
So much danger, so much out there that threatens our way of living. I’ve had to make such lengths to make peace with death- I see them every day in the garden, in the compost, decomposing the lifeless. During the pandemic, and now in the coming second wave, I see death more clearly than I have before. They aren’t an ominous skeleton here to suck your soul out- it’s a sunflower growing out of a patch of decaying fruit. In all the weight that’s had to fall on this heart, this friendlier relationship with death has spared a lot of my burden. But I can’t tell you that making peace with the surrounding situation will bring you closure. We’ve still got hell to fight. We need to organize ourselves, our friends, our neighbors- and even the housepets- to create communities, educate them, inspire them, and protect them from all of the threats of this world.
We owe it to our loved ones, and the brave and brilliant souls that did this work before us, to be fierce in our efforts. We cannot truly be fierce without being peaceful, lest we fall apart by the seams in the middle of our work. We need to take care of our burnt out, we need to bear our burdens together.
Communities deserve support, from their neighbors and their friends coming together with that intent- we need teachers, we need role models, and we need ways we can get better together as an entire community. That’s why I’m fighting for what I am right now, it’s partially why four new organizations and more than a thousand people have come out of the woodwork. It takes a village to thrive together when times are good, and it takes a village to survive together when times are bad. It’s okay if the world seems to be pressing extra hard lately- it wholeheartedly sucks. Fortunately however, there are a LOT of good folks that are feeling similarly. In order for us to heal, all we need to do is show up with good intentions. There’s no limit on what that kind of congregation is capable of.
Hello! If this is your first time visiting the Rural Justice Network, welcome. If you've been following us for some time now, so glad that you are staying involved.
This is our brand new editorial blog that we will use to highlight, explore, and discuss local perspectives, organizations and actions!
Today we are going to be discussing what RJN is, how it came to be, and what we are currently working on.
It all started on June 3, 2020 when the first local Black Lives Matter March was held in North Brookfield, MA. This rally was an incredible success with over 250 people attending. This rally had been last minute put together by a number of contributing folks, the torch being passed a couple of times throughout the short process. By the time the actual Rally rolled around Fitzgerald Pucci was taking the lead, while Samantha Laney followed behind with her trusty clipboard, educational materials, masks, and hand sanitizer. The rally went off without a hitch with a number of moving speeches about the black experience in Rural America. If you want to read more about the inciting rally click here! At the end of this rally, Fitzgerald and Samantha were ready to go home proud of what they accomplished and to close the book on a successful rally. What they never expected was the incredible crowd demand for "What's Next?"
We quickly realized that despite often feeling alone in our ideals and ethics, there is a huge want for activism and social education in Rural America. There is power in those numbers and we hope to grow them even more.
After 48 hours of planning, organizing, and researching, the Rural Justice Network was born. Samantha, Fitzgerald, and one of the speakers from the original North Brookfield march, Amy Gebo had created the preliminary scaffolds of what would become an incredible social network of rural educators, activists, and visionaries.
Rural Justice Network is now an organization made up of a 5 member CORE Team, as well as hundreds of followers, organization partnerships, and contributing artists/providers. All of which focus on the education and mobilization of Rural communities.
Rural America has been silent in the fight for equity for too long. So we decided to do something about it.
Since it's inception, Rural Justice Network has held a follow up rally in West Brookfield, MA as well as help build/partner with a number of other organizations and activists including: Grassroots Central MA, Brookfield Fights Fear, and local individuals looking to get involved. We've helped stage and promote a number of other rallies and events including voter registration drives, educational movie showings, and independent demonstrations throughout central MA. All of this has been made possible through our "Organizers Organizing Organizers" program (OOO). Check out OOO here!
The first and most pressing is our voter registration campaign! Not only do we want you registered for Nov 3, but we also want you to know what's on your ballot and where to go to vote for every local and State election. Check out our resources here!
Looking for ways to stay up to date and educated? Want to get involved, but feel overwhelmed to even start? Join us at our Justice Seminars on zoom. They happen weekly on Mondays at 6pm.
Justice Seminars doesn't fit in your schedule? No problem. Rural Justice Network has also compiled and expansive educational resource collection on our website. So you can continue to learn at your own pace. Check it out here!
So as you can see Rural Justice Network has been busy in the 3 months since it's inceptions, and we are just getting started! Keep an eye on our website and social media pages for updates on new projects. If you have an idea for a project that you want Rural Justice Network to take on, submit it here!
You can also contribute by submitting your own blog posts that you want the community to read. Opinions on current events, highlighting a local social issue, giving air time to a worthwhile organization, and anything else you can think of. We can't promise we will be able to publish every submission, but we will do our best to make sure that all voices are heard! Submit your ideas here!
We've been working hard in our fight and we hope that you will stand in solidarity with us by staying active! Read, donate, petition, protest, vote!