Why Write? “…it is better to speak”

Per Audre Lorde

It is summed up beautifully by the fact that in an African naming ceremony she took the name Gamba Adisa, which means “Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known“.

 What I leave behind has a life of its own…I’ve said this about poetry; I’ve said it about children. Well, in a sense I’m saying it about the very artifact of who I have been

I started writing because I had a need inside of me to create something that was not there.

She came into herself early, adopting a modified spelling of Audrey for “the symmetry” of it. She confidently dismissed discouragement in High School.

I learned about sonnets by reading Edna St. Vincent Millay’s love sonnets and loving them and deciding I was going to try. I learned to write love poems by reading poems I never understood but the words would get me high…I was editor of my high school magazine and I wrote a poem about love. And the student advisor, the faculty advisor said it was a bad sonnet. And I really knew that it was a good one. But I knew that she didn’t like it because of the things that I said in it. So I sent if off to Seventeen magazine and they bought it. And I made more money from that one poem than I made for the next ten years.

These are her words that most resonate with me:

…when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak

 A Litany for Survival 

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.

In her own words, Audre Lorde was a black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet. I came to know her work through “The Cancer Journals” required reading for my daughters in high school.

A Litany for Survival is also the name of a documentary on her life and work. You can hear much of what is quoted above in her own voice.


Changing the world by being ourselves…

“Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself…”

Leo Tolstoy

Just last Wednesday I delivered a talk to the Tangible Ireland Ambassador Summer School 2016.

The subject, as always, was my frustration with hearing “What would you be moving to this feckin country for?”

Yesterday the New York Times offered this opinion piece:

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 4.06.50 PMI was reared and shaped by this era. The first presidential election I recall was Kennedy/Nixon. The worry was that “the Pope would have influence should a “Papist” win.

The real concern was about those upstart Irish-Americans lobbying for social justice. My personal hero, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was railing against “the Power Elite” and speaking for all immigrants, the Kennedys and House Speaker Tip O’Neill were supporting the war on poverty and civil rights movements. Radical policies in the day.

The anti-war movement was well influenced by Jesuits Daniel & Philip Berrigan, and we in that Catholic educated community were shaped by Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement.

All were the children and grandchildren of immigrants, simply reflecting what can fairly be identified as values born on this island and further strengthened “in exile”.

So, my compatriots here in Ireland – 1/2 the US Democratic Party was listening to and yearning for the kinder, gentler capitalism espoused by Bernie Sanders.

Wake up. We have it here. Now let’s fully abandon the nightmare of Celtic Tiger when we lost sight of our values, let our health service and social housing supports be gutted by our own, home grown “power elite“.

We don’t even have to change ourselves, let’s just get back to being ourselves.

The Elephant in the Room; Digital Initiatives in NI

Connected is the way forward. Never before have SME’s and micro businesses had more opportunities. “Cottage industry” now means weaving relationships and delivering content globally.

OptimiSE The South East Digital Development programme was launched recently in Banbridge. Their “Road Show” will be travelling the province with dates from March through June. Daryl Conway, SE Digital Champion had the attention of economic development officers, enterprise agency directors and SMEs. We were challenged to rethink every aspect of our digital marketing strategy. It’s not all Facebook and Twitter. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), Email marketing, eCommerce, Video Production, Branding and Advertising assistance will all be made available. Free.

All good? Yes and No!

Yes: EU funded, this programme is exactly what SEO’s and micro businesses have been calling for – that part is great!

Creating fabulous content, being on the right platforms and making the first page on Google searches is even better.

No: It’s all useless if you’re on the motorway with a flat, you know there is a tyre company in the next town and there is no 3G to search! It’s worse if you’ve been made redundant, you’ve started a business but you can’t work from home because broadband (no less high speed broadband) isn’t reliable where you live.

There may not be a business case for BT to deliver high speed broadband to a remote or rural areas. We need to be able to challenge those decisions and elect to pay for access where possible. Government can make BT accountable. Monopoly comes with corporate social responsibility. Transparency is essential.

Not just a Broadband issue: Mobile voice coverage alone remains an issue.  Flat on the Motorway between Dublin & Belfast? No loss of coverage south of the border. Dead spots in South Armagh and Hillsborough. Mountains may well be an issue with the former, but there’s no excuse for Hillsborough. Prepare to walk for 25 minutes to get a signal.

Commuting between Derry/L’derry & Belfast. Don’t bother carpooling to get work done. No service for miles on end.

So please sign up for Digital Marketing Skills training. Then start lobbying Stormont to deliver equal access for most. 


On Communities Growing Professionally…

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

People often ask me what BizCamp is. An unconference. What’s that? Quite simply: it’s a labour of love.

Congratulations to the BorderBizCamp team; the day was brilliant, every detail was attended to and operations ran like a well oiled machine. The speakers were outstanding, the range and quality was excellent.

It was as it should be everywhere. A small group of motivated and determined business people took what works best about their relationships with each other,  the local enterprise agency and the M:TEK  location  and modeled it for the world. You genuinely brought the best out in everyone.

Thank you also to the Monaghan Enterprise Agency staff for volunteering on the day; business is business and I have often heard it said that agencies “don’t get it”.

Not this MEA team; look at enterprise defined and it could be seen in the energy and enthusiasm of every volunteer.

[ √]  A project undertaken, especially one that is important or difficult or that requires boldness or energy;

[ √]  The participation in such projects;

[ √]  A company organised for commercial purposes

[ √]  Boldness or readiness in undertaking; adventurous spirit; ingenuity.

Among the synonyms suggested:

[ √]  plan, undertaking, venture

[ √]  drive, aggressiveness, push, ambition

They definitely ticked those boxes.

Thank you to the sponsors who fed us and to the young volunteers. In the end it’s about the children. They watched more than 100 people come together to create a prosperity to allow for enough jobs on this island. They’re entitled not to have to leave home!

That’s leadership.