The June 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

From Prison to Priesthood

Interview with Father James Tramel

Protest Demands Housing for Poor Families

Oakland Judge Blocks Evictions

Fresno Police Demolish Tent Encampment

Extremists Call for Attacks on Immigrants

Unjust Senate Bill on Immigration

World Bank and IMF Face Crisis

Corporate Media Fail to Address Global Hunger

Raise Minimum Wage for All

The Journey of Charlotte Tall Mountain

Dying for Nixon, Dying for Bush

In Santa Cruz Dreams Come True

Tourists Ignore Kenya's Poverty

June Poetry of the Streets


May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

The Journey of Charlotte Tall Mountain

Spiritual values in relation to nature lived in her heart. She was a tall mountain indeed.

by Joan Clair

Charlotte Tall Mountain
July 1, 1941 to May 6, 2006

Charlotte Tall Mountain, an artist and poet who contributed several of her poems to Street Spirit, passed on after a long struggle with cancer, on May 6, 2006. She would have been 65 years old in July of this year. She is survived by a daughter, two sisters and a brother.

Of an Iroquois Native American heritage, that blood not only flowed through her veins, but the spiritual values in relation to nature lived in her heart.

In her poem, "Recovery Uncertain," published in the January 2005 Street Spirit (and reprinted below), she bemoans the materialism of our prevailing society and the desecration of nature. As an ensouled being still in touch with her spirit, she deeply grieves the separation she feels from others of her kind, and the entire natural world of which she is a part, due to our society's stupidity, greed and ignorance.

"Recovery Uncertain" is a magnificent poem, a cry of the heart for modern times, comparable to William Wordsworth's sonnet of the 19th century, "The World Is Too Much With Us," which has a similar theme. In the poem, she laments the loss of the oral traditions of telling stories, the objectifying and de-souling of trees to lumber and animals to meat; the reduction of beauty to a bottle of perfume and peace to a pill.

Her most widely circulated poem, "For Love of the World," published in Street Spirit, and also as a card by the Syracuse Cultural Workers (SCW), reached a wide audience through the gift shop of the United Nations and elsewhere. It was also carried locally in the Bay Area by stores such as Gathering Tribes.

Karen Kerney of SCW said it was a very popular card. She said that Charlotte was a "cultural worker" aligned with SCW's objectives to "achieve social and environmental justice, liberation, equality and peace," and that she provided many inspiring ideas to SCW over the years.

Charlotte Tall Mountain was an artist who had many shows in the Bay Area. Her art was reproduced, among other places, in the We'Moon calendar and datebook for 2005. Pomegranate Press published a calendar using only her artwork.

One of my favorite art works by Charlotte Tall Mountain is "Buffalo," which she allowed me to photograph shortly before she passed on. The beautiful colors, typical of Charlotte's work, and the lightness of the expression communicate joy in creation and in the intrepid buffalo figures moving in and out of manifestation.

Never in denial about the pain she suffered in her life, whether physical or emotional, Charlotte, with abundant humor and ready grace, enabled others to see things as they are. She was a "server," always encouraging others to grow and let their gifts shine. She was a tall mountain indeed.

For Love of the World
by Charlotte Tall Mountain

For the love of a tree,
she went out on a limb.

For the love of the sea,
she rocked the boat.

For the love of the earth,
she dug deeper.

For the love of community,
she mended fences.

For the love of the stars,
she let her light shine.

For the love of spirit,
she nurtured her soul.

For the love of a good time,
she sowed seeds of happiness.

For the love of the Goddess,
she drew down the moon.

For the love of nature,
she made compost.

For the love of a good meal,
she gave thanks.

For the love of family,
she reconciled differences.

For the love of creativity,
she entertained new possibilities.

For the love of her enemies,
she suspended judgment.

For the love of herself,
she acknowledged her worth.

And the world was richer for her.

by Charlotte Tall Mountain

In nature,
I am neither rich nor poor,
Neither old or young
Modern or old-fashioned
My vestments, appropriate
to the heat or cool
Are indifferent to her
She doesn't care if I am
employed or idle
Whether I've paid my bills on time
Or if I will be the recipient
of a grand prize
I cannot impress her with my wit
But I feel she understands my pain
She offers me her bounty whether
I have earned her grace or not
So great is her wisdom
So huge her heart.

Recovery Uncertain
by Charlotte Tall Mountain

My affliction began
When Columbus first set foot on this earth.
When the trees were seen only as lumber
When the animals were viewed solely as meat
And when vegetation was regarded
Primarily as produce.

My affliction continued
When the prairies were fenced
When the moon was sentimentalized
When the rivers were harnessed and
Illumination only happened by the
Turn of a switch.

My affliction continued
When soil had to be analyzed
When fertilization was chemically induced
And the hens were caged

My affliction continued
When children were seen and not heard
When stories were bound and frozen in books
When beauty and fragrance were bottled
And sold across counters.

My affliction continued
When communication had to be taught
In seminars
When it was the message of billboards
That insured happiness
And peace and tranquility were dispensed
In a pill.

My affliction continued
When rhythm was a method
When inspiration was a point
When the great mystery was a murder
And stature was a challenge.

My affliction continued
When a journey was packaged and
The scenic wonders marked on a map
When pain was without dignity
And growth measured wholly by profit.

My affliction continued
When nature became a preserve
When dolphins were an amusement
When orchids were an industry
When love was a canal.

My affliction continued
When a soldier was a statistic
When a hero was a matinee idol
When the Goddess was a pin-up
And the crone a hag.

My recovery is uncertain.
Will Nature prevail or will this be a
Planet that is just inorganic and stale.

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