Sense of Place

When I first learned of the terrible injustices inflicted by people upon people I felt very helpless.  I think a part of my life has been spent trying understand these realities in part to sustain my ministry in a more holistic way.


One of the rituals I formed as a young adult was to do my best to always consider my physical place and ask about the people who called it their home in the present and past.  I always learn something new.  Another ethos I developed is around only traveling to places where I have a relationship and invitation.  I can’t say I honored this all the time, but it is one that I feel has grown stronger as I have aged and have more class privilege to visit places of my choosing.

Lastly, I have sought to intentionally be present in places where there have been terrible injustices and great transformations.  I make it a point to bring myself to locations that have meaning for social justice – both in terms of remembering our history and to feel my body in the same spot where others have struggled.

Once I stepped out onto the country roadside to look upon the lightly wooded ravine in South Dakota and upon a simple billboard that honored the Massacre at Wounded Knee.  I can still feel the sight of the beautiful murals at San Francisco State University and the sharp edges of the buildings where 1960s students of color went on strike for equity in education.  My partner and I stayed a month in one of the Zapatista Caracols in Chiapas after engaging for years in solidarity work.  Our family took a tour into the Old City of Manila where thousands were killed during World War II.

This winter we may visit Tule Lake Internment Camp where thousands of Japanese Americans were imprisoned in America’s WWII concentration camp.  A place that continued on as dilapidated farmworker housing.  And we will continue to make visits to meet people who are the hearts and souls in our movement building work, from young people in East Portland to elders who share their stories with us around the campfire.

Photo credit – Alex Haas


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