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Letters by Sarah Vekasi
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April 23, 2015


Dearest friends,

            Two weeks ago there was a forest fire in my small town of Black Mountain, NC. It started up near Ridgecrest and quickly blew out of control, ultimately burning over 800 acres and coming close to burning the small town of Montreat. Our firefighters, and firefighters from all over the south worked hard to protect our homes, and put out the fire. Overnight the first day of the fire signs went up all over town lauding the heroic efforts of the firefighters. The fire station was over-flowing with donations and there was a general sense of comradery and gratitude in town.

            Around the same time, I saw a sweet post on facebook by a friend of mine who is doing phenomenal organizing on behalf of black people, workers rights and southern and Appalachian liberation. She had made an internet meme photo of herself and words about the next election. It tickled my fancy so I made one of her that said THANK-YOU Ash-Lee for all your hard-work and amazing organizing. A tiny thing. No big deal. Except come to find out, the local police department in Chattanooga had made memes of her with hateful speech before, and the simplicity of a thank-you note meme caught a great deal of attention.

            So then I got mad. Frustrated is more like it. How is it that towns can rally immediately behind fire-fighters as our heroes, but still vilify the people working day and night for a more sustainable, more just future? This is not a question I want you to answer. I can think of a thousand gross reasons. No – this is a challenge to all of us to turn up the gratitude dial for our community organizers, environmental activists, social justice transformers and cultural workers in the same way a community responds to the firefighters who save our homes: and say thank-you!

Thank-you! Thanks yall so much! Thank you for continuing to look into the world at this time of global crisis and making outer and inner transformation a priority. Thank-you to all of you who are fighting the fires of racism, of social inequity, of cultural appropriation, of the gender binary norms, homophobia, the absurdly devastating practices like mountaintop removal coal mining, fracking, massive clear-cutting, and police brutality. Thank-you for your perseverance. Thank-you for caring. Thank-you for your big contributions and small sweet ones too. Thank-you for working on behalf of Earth’s people, as well as the winged ones, the furry ones, for bugs and slugs, and ones with paws and hooves and claws and talons and fins and feathers and beaks and antennae. Thank-you for lifting up unheard voices, for walking together, for working together, for collaboration and cooperation and for the undercurrent of kindness and generosity that fuels your activism and organizing. Thank-you for choosing to do the work you do when the stakes are so high, and it is so much easier to turn away.

And of course, thank-you also for finding time to take care of your precious selves. You matter. You are so important. Thank-you!

Our heroic firefighters worked hard and selflessly and were mandated to take breaks, and were compensated fairly. I want this for all us activists and organizers too.  Our work is vital, and it’s time we all start treating it that way.


Much love dear hearts,