Monthly Archives: July 2016
Part of the theme for my women’s group this year is wildlife. Some of the women are exploring totemic relationships, some are looking at environment and biosphere, some are looking at social interactions within the species. It’s all been interesting and there have been lots of field trips – including the one to visit my parents.
This weekend we took another trip, a little closer to town. We went to the Wildlife Science Center just north of the Twin Cities. We arranged for a private tour so we got to spend a lot of time talking about the animals.
The Wildlife Science Center specializes in canids. They have several different species of wolves, several of them endangered. They have served as a research center and training area for wolf behavior, conservation, and preservation. They have “rescued” many of their animals from closing zoos and from people who thought they’d make good pets.
Because they focus on canid behavior, visitors can bring their dogs (leashed and vaccinated). We didn’t bring any of ours along, but heard a lot from our tour guide about why this is helpful. Most of the animals here are hard-wired to protect their territories from other canids. In the enclosures they become accustomed to the other wolves around them and the territory lines are rarely challenged. However, visiting dogs provide the same stimulus of challenging a territory.
There are other animals that have made their way to the Wildlife Science Center as well. Mittens the cougar will stalk the smaller dogs that come to visit. So will the coyotes. We were told that occasionally a goose (or other local animal) will make it’s way into a pen. The ensuing interactions are also fascinating and educational.
The Wildlife Science Center was originally a DNR project, and is situated on leased DNR land. In the early 90’s when funding stopped the current director was faced with the task of euthanizing all the animals. Rather than do that she created the non-profit organization that the Wildlife Science Center is today.
Unfortunately the DNR lease has run out and the Wildlife Center can no longer stay there. They have land and have started developing the infrastructure to move the animals. The new space is MUCH larger. There will be bigger enclosures and more modern facilities. But this isn’t a small project. The Wildlife Science Center is currently running a Move The Pack fundraising campaign and hopes to be able to open the new facility sometime in the spring of 2017.
We had a wonderful day. It was fascinating to see how different the different species of wolves are, and yet how very similar to the dogs we know.
The animals mostly came out to see us, although it was still nap-time for the black bears so I didn’t get good photos there. I highly recommend this facility for families, schools, dog lovers, or anyone interested in wildlife management.
I had the opportunity this weekend to participate in a rescue mission. That’s not as dramatic as it sounds. My daughter, Karina, has quite the extended family given the divorces, the friends, the steps, and all the variations on “you are family to me.”
One of these family members has been in a difficult intimate relationship for some time. There is a history of isolation, abuse, and attempts to leave the relationship. After a conversation with Karina where she heard, “I want to come home” she went into action.
She arranged for transportation (costs covered), housing, a potential job opportunity and alerted the built-in support system of family and friends. There will be a bus card, people willing to help with transportation in town, bedding and toiletries and probably anything else as it comes up. When another call came, “I need to leave NOW”, Karina went into high gear and hopped in the car.
I went along, not only because it’s a long drive but also because she wanted back-up for anything she might find when she arrived. I have family in the area where we were headed. I called ahead. Without knowing ANY of the actual players, they stepped in as well.
My family members met us at the home of the person we picked up. We were taken out for dinner. We were offered any additional support we might need along the way. I got the bonus of being able to see family I haven’t been in contact with (outside of Facebook) for years.
Karina’s family member will be fine. They are overwhelmed, not only by making such a dramatic change but also by the outpouring of support. We also talked on the way home about how much of a difference THIS family member could be in supporting other of Karina’s extended family members who are struggling. We made it clear that even when you may be needy, you can also be needed.
Very few of us expect to have real support when we are desperate. Asking for one small thing is hard. Asking for planning, organization, execution and a lifeline is humbling at best.
I think we all have moments in our lives when this is exactly the kind of help we need. I know I have. I have been fortunate, awed, and overwhelmed on the occasions when my friends and family have swept in and just taken care of business.
When I had cancer last year my women’s group stepped up and made sure that I had the post surgery support I needed. They came by to check up on me, made sure I had food in the house, ran errands, and washed dishes. One of them brought me home from the hospital. Another took me out when I was going stir crazy. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I had no idea what I was going to do, but they clearly did.
The last time I had work done on my house, to increase accessibility for Orion, we needed to move out for 6 weeks. Cleaning and packing was beyond me. Again, I had friends come in and just do it. There was no judgement, no need for instruction or supervision, just support. I could focus on what I needed to take with me to the hotel, they took care of everything else. I knew I needed help, but never expected that level of support.
I am grateful that I have been able to count on my friends when I truly need help. I am grateful that I have learned to accept help when it is given. I’m grateful for compassion that has no judgement, simply does what needs to be done. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back a small bit of what I have been given.
I don’t know what to say. Baton Rouge, Texas, Falcon Heights – that one is too close to home. There is outrage and it is justified.
I got really angry when after Philandro Castile’s death the police I know started circulating “another look” – a video with him and his girlfriend smoking pot and being silly. It’s racist, it’s about “justifying police brutality”, it’s a desperate attempt to “spin” the narrative. It’s not relevant.
Who hasn’t ever done stupid stuff? Gotten drunk, or stoned, or just been silly and stupid? Why people film that and then post it is beyond me, but my Facebook feed is full of this kind of nonsense.
I remember protests in the 60’s. I remember being pretty sure our phone was tapped as the FBI was looking for organizers. I remember stories of FBI infiltrators who were often the instigators of the worst of the violence. The shooting in Dallas, there was a lot of finger-pointing. The message of the protest was diminished. Both police and protesters were affected. Who actually benefited?
We learned a long time ago to follow the money. The money, the status quo, the old guard that is afraid to lose their unchecked power and privilege are the only ones coming out on top.
The world is changing. The world needs to change. What do we want it to change into?
The energy for change comes from moving against. The actually change comes from being able to envision the future. It’s not Utopic. It’s messy. Any plan is going to change in implementation. But let’s look at a plan. Let’s keep looking, and revising, and building towards something positive.
Let’s have a world where news and education aren’t judged based on entertainment value.
Let’s have a world where people helping each other out gets raves and support and bad behavior is not a spotlight for attention.
Let’s have a world where people aren’t afraid of the police, and where the police aren’t afraid of the general population they are meant to protect and serve.
Let’s have a world where we recognize that people generally are trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got. If they’re not doing well then they need help, resources, education, housing, support.
Let’s find a way to have dialog rather than duels, and have productive outcomes.
Let’s find a way.