Unplugging from crisis mode

Artemio Morales is founder of AltSalt, a website aiming to connect underserved publishing communities in hopes of collectively envisioning an alternative world. We’re currently in alpha and looking to connect with zinesters, comics creators, gamemakers, and more; anyone interested in learning more can feel free to email artemio@altsalt.com or apply for an account onsite.

A couple of years ago, I’d been programming so much that my fingers started hurting as a result of repetitive stress injury. I’d been working on my full-time job, then coming home and moonlighting an earlier incarnation of AltSalt, but in that pursuit, I’d begun neglecting my health.

In that same way, a million urgent issues demand our attention everyday. While it’s true that urgency exists, taking a long view of history can allow us to unplug from crisis mode, think strategically about our goals, and plan for the long run — not just on a cosmic scale, but the scale of our own bodies and health too.

Around us, so much is sacrificed in the pursuit of progress that it can feel transgressive to put healthier, more sustainable practices into place. When it comes to showing up everyday though, should we be sacrificing our physical and mental wellbeing for our pursuits? If we are doing so, what kind of outcome are we really working towards?

Recently, I’ve begun to understand that to have a different outcome, we must do things differently — to work towards a better world, we need to foster, cultivate, and live that better world right now. Each small step is an accomplishment that, taken consistently, can weather mountains, shape landscapes, move reality.

One of our greatest human traits is the ability to see into the future. Focusing so much on the short term, it’s easy to forget how powerful that is. I believe It’s possible to holistically work towards a new outcome; all we need is to take a moment to reflect, and consciously choose the steps to get there.


Surviving and Diving

I love this book of poetry by Brian Walker reflecting on the tumultuous events of 2020, from the election, to BLM, to the pandemic and racism. To read this helped in my own processing of those events; some refrains have stuck with me, and even feel like a part of me.

Brian started writing this on his 32nd birthday, and I resonated in particular with his reflections on aging. I’m 30 now, but could have probably benefited from this wisdom in my 20’s 😆 (What is resonance?).

For more info on resonance, here’s a PDF that talkes about the practice and its theoretical underpinnings (you can find even more information via the organization Relational Uprising).

Note: This book costs $8, though can be previewed in browser (AltSalt doesn’t take commissions on recommendations).

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FCCAN Statement: Moving Forward from Atlanta & Fighting White Supremacist Violence

“We urgently need to bring to our communities the limitless capacity to love, serve, and create for and with each other.”

-Grace Lee Boggs


These are some extremely painful times. The violence of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, anti-blackness, violence against elders, anti-sex work, capitalism, the racist police state are killing us.


I am heartbroken by the acts of violence that occurred on the evening of March 16 in Atlanta. Eight people were killed at three separate spas. Six of the people killed were Asian and all but one were women. With friends (many of them working class, Asian American) in Atlanta, and as an Asian American woman, this attack hits too close to home. As I’ve been connecting with family and friends in the Asian American community, much of the despair and grief we share come from a deep well, that the violence our community is subjected to in this country is nothing new, and the broader context of these shootings cannot be ignored.


The shootings happened under the trauma of increasing violence against Asian Americans nationwide, fueled by white supremacy and systemic racism. While anti-Asian violence is woven throughout our nation’s history, the Trump administration’s relentless scapegoating of Asians for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the incidences of hate and violence against Asian Americans around the country.


Anti-Asian hate crimes have surged 150% since 2020, with Asian American women twice as likely to be targeted Stop AAPI Hate has received 3,800 reports of anti-Asian hate, with 35% of discriminatory acts happening at businesses and with women reporting hate incidents twice as much as men. And none of these incidents are isolated. They are a part of a larger racist history and culture that continues to play out until we choose to stop it. Here’s an extensive toolkit for anti-Asian violence actions and resources.


The police and mainstream media response to this tragedy has only underscored how white supremacy is rooted in power structures like the media and law enforcement. The white, male perpetrator of these crimes is claiming that his desire to end his own “sexual deviance” motivated his terrible actions targeting Asian American women.


This wrongful narrative lies at the intersections of racial and gender oppression. By furthering the hyper-sexualization of Asian women, these narratives only exacerbate unsafe working conditions and fear of seeking resources and support. These women were especially vulnerable as low-wage, sex workers, already risking their health to work during the pandemic. We must advocate for infrastructure and resources that prioritize community safety, a robust social service safety net, and in-language support.


I deeply desire and hope to hear more about the Asian women’s stories, and less about the rationalization of the shooter’s motives. He has already taken enough, let alone more of the narrative. May we let the women’s families and experiences fill our hearts, and inspire our next moves.

Let us move forward from here by centering victims and their families, including financial and community support. We center safety for all – this does not mean bringing more law enforcement into our communities. And we unite against white supremacy.

Shirley Man-Kin Leung
Coordinator, Fort Collins Community Action Network

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2021 City Council Candidate Questionnaire

The ballots have been sent and the local city council elections are coming up on April 6, 2021! Keep scrolling for the FCCAN candidate questionnaire or view the PDF.

The Fort Collins Community Action Network (FCCAN) mission is to create community based on furthering economic, social, and environmental justice, sustainability, human rights, and peace for all by building coalitions, developing strategies and actions, and supporting existing progressive organizations. Having incredible impacts on Fort Collins communities, we believe our City Council is extremely important. We care about who is representing our communities’ interests and how. With that in mind, FCCAN has prepared a short survey to give our communities more insight to who may be representing us. FCCAN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and does not endorse any political candidates. 

All City Council candidates for 2021 are listed below. Those whose names are listed in bold have their responses reflected after each survey question. Those candidates who were not able or opted out of participating in the survey are listed below in standard font. 

Mayor:

Jeni James Arndt 

Gerry Horak 

○ Molly Skold 

District 1: 

Nick Armstrong 

○ Susan Gutowsky 

District 3: 

Tricia Canonico 

○ Gavin Kaszynski 

District 4: 

Jessica Dyrdahl 

Erin Hottenstein 

Shirley Peel 

Melanie Potyondy 

Sidna Rachid 

District 5

Jeff Hansen 

○ Kelly Ohlson


1) Given the recent appellate court ruling in Colorado v. Wiemold, do you believe people in Fort Collins should be ticketed for sleeping outside when no other option is available to them? 

● Jeni James Ardnt (Mayor): No 

● Gerry Horak (Mayor): No 

● Nick Armstrong (District 1): 

i. I believe case tracking should begin and resources brought to bear to bring our most vulnerable neighbors in out of the cold. We have to be cognizant that a 

portion of the transient homeless population is not here with honest intent, so 

mindful case management is required to make sure resources will be applied to those neighbors who will benefit the most in our community. 

● Tricia Canonico (District 3): No 

● Erin Hottenstein (District 4): No 

● Shirley Peel (District 4): 

i. I believe we need to find a better option for people sleeping outside than to ticket them. 

● Melanie Potyondy (District 4): No 

● Sidna Rachid (District 4): No 

● Jessica Dyrdahl (District 4): No 

● Jeff Hansen (District 5): No 

● Kelly Ohlson (District 5): No 

i. No. People should not be ticketed for sleeping. However, camping in conserved natural areas is not an acceptable solution to a real homelessness problem. You end up with two unacceptable outcomes. We can do better for people while 

conserving our natural areas.

1A) In regards to question 1, what do you think “no other option” means? ● Jeni James Ardnt (Mayor): 

i. No other option means a shelter or hotel (provided by the city). 

● Gerry Horak (Mayor): 

i. When shelters are filled and/or the individual situation e.g. gender, animal companion – a shelter is not available to accommodate 

● Nick Armstrong (District 1): 

i. It could mean many things in our community – a truly comprehensive, 360* solution does not exist in Fort Collins YET but could if we worked hard to make it so through creative, collaborative partnerships that minimizes overlap and 

eliminate gaps. 

● Tricia Canonico (District 3): 

i. They do not have a home or adequate access to a safe place to sleep. 

● Erin Hottenstein (District 4): 

i. I would have to read the Colorado v. Wiemold ruling to see what the intent is. I would imagine that it would be quite difficult to capture all of the nuances at play in people’s lives, which might force them into homelessness, and can envision 

that this language is being used for that very reason: to provide discretion to the individual making the determination. 

● Shirley Peel (District 4): 

i. When they have no other place to stay. 

● Melanie Potyondy (District 4): 

i. I would consider no other option to mean no available housing of one’s own, no reasonable options amongst friends/family, and no available shelter beds. 

● Sidna Rachid (District 4):

i. I don’t think anyone should be ticketed for sleeping outside even if there is a bed available in a shelter. Many people have dogs, want to stay with their partners, 

or feel uncomfortable in closed surroundings and this can’t be accomodated in a shelter. I would like to see an area set aside for spending the night in a vehicle. ● Jessica Dyrdahl (District 4): 

i. That the person has gone through other options and sleeping outside is the one most viable to them at the time. 

● Kelly Ohlson (District 5): 

i. No other option probably means no available shelter, etc. if you are following the appropriate rules established by the shelters. That is not a very common 

occurrence and should never be the case. If you are under the influence of 

alcohol or other substances or have a history of violence and are not allowed in the shelter, then we need to come up with appropriate solutions for those 

instances. Again, sleeping outside or illegal camping are not long-term answers. I believe we can do better rather than just discussing the legalities of “no other 

option”. 

● Jeff Hansen (District 5): 

i. First of all, I think that wording is way too restrictive language in regards to allowing someone to sleep outside. With that aside, strict interpretation of “no 

other option” wording in the ruling would require an extensive and exhaustive 

search for other sleeping arrangements prior to choosing to sleep outside. 

2) Do you support a policy of universal housing (housing for all)? 

● Jeni James Ardnt (Mayor): Yes 

● Gerry Horak (Mayor): No Response 

● Nick Armstrong (District 1): Yes

● Tricia Canonico (District 3): 

i. I support the principle of universal housing. If elected, I will look at a variety of innovative policies to increase our supply of affordable housing as well as 

addressing the root causes of homelessness.. 

● Erin Hottenstein (District 4): Yes 

● Shirley Peel (District 4): 

i. I believe as a society we need to work to make sure our people have housing and help them have a personal initiative in having their own housing. 

● Melanie Potyondy (District 4): Yes 

● Sidna Rachid (District 4): Yes 

● Jessica Dyrdahl (District 4): Yes 

● Kelly Ohlson (District 5): Yes 

● Jeff Hansen (District 5): No 

2A) In regards to question 2, why or why not? 

● Jeni James Ardnt (Mayor): 

i. We shouldn’t criminalize homelessness. Housing is critical to one’s health and opportunity for success. 

● Gerry Horak (Mayor): 

i. Not sure how that works and who is responsible for providing and for how long. ● Nick Armstrong (District 1): 

i. Pathways to home ownership are required as part of a solution to homelessness. Stability is the first step to that. 

● Tricia Canonico (District 3): “Answered above” 

● Erin Hottenstein (District 4):

i. Housing is a basic need and we must strive to create a safety net for people which includes housing. 

● Shirley Peel (District 4): No response 

● Melanie Potyondy (District 4): 

i. I believe having a safe, stable, affordable housing situation underlies all other life functions: physical and mental health, familial harmony, successful employment, etc. We must expand the housing options in our community to meet the breadth of needs, so that individuals and families are able to shift their focus away from 

getting their basic need for shelter met, and toward actions that help them pursue other goals. 

● Sidna Rachid (District 4): 

i. Fort Collins has spent a lot of money criminalizing homelessness. Let’s connect the homeless with services if they’d like. We should try to make their lives easier not harder. 

● Jessica Dyrdahl (District 4): 

i. I believe as a society we need to focus on our most marginalized populations first. 

● Kelly Ohlson (District 5): 

i. Because it is the right thing to do. 

● Jeff Hansen (District 5): 

i. Our focus should be helping homeless individuals overcome health, mental health, education and/or job training and job placement limitations so they can 

obtain adequate housing on their own. 

3) Do you feel local government and local law enforcement should play a role in immigration policy enforcement?

● Jeni James Ardnt (Mayor): 

i. No. Immigration is a federal purview. 

● Gerry Horak (Mayor): No 

● Nick Armstrong (District 1): 

i. Not really; although if involvement of local government and law enforcement creates more just or equitable outcomes, then yes. 

● Tricia Canonico (District 3): No 

● Erin Hottenstein (District 4): No 

● Shirley Peel (District 4): 

i. Our immigration policy is broken and our government needs to fix it. Until such a time, I don’t believe local law enforcement has a choice but to enforce the laws 

on the books. 

● Melanie Potyondy (District 4): No 

● Sidna Rachid (District 4): No 

● Jessica Dyrdahl (District 4): No 

● Kelly Ohlson (District 5): 

i. Not day-to-day, but when there is a genuine threat to the safety of others, then local law enforcement has a legitimate role. 

● Jeff Hansen (District 5): 

i. immigration policy enforcement should be addressed primarily by federal 

agencies. On rare occasions this may require cooperation from local law 

enforcement. 

4) Would you support an initiative to establish a ranked choice voting system for municipal elections?

● Jeni James Ardnt (Mayor): 

i. Yes! That’s my bill in the House, right now. 

● Gerry Horak (Mayor): Yes 

● Nick Armstrong (District 1): Yes 

● Tricia Canonico (District 3): 

i. I think voters should decide whether to adopt ranked choice voting. 

● Erin Hottenstein (District 4): Yes 

● Shirley Peel (District 4): No 

● Melanie Potyondy (District 4): Yes 

● Sidna Rachid (District 4): Yes 

● Jessica Dyrdahl (District 4): Yes 

● Kelly Ohlson (District 5): Yes 

● Jeff Hansen (District 5): Yes 

5) Do you support ending police presence in the Poudre School District? ● Jeni James Ardnt (Mayor): 

i. There should be a safety presence in the schools. When I was a high school teacher, my life had a credible threat. Teacher should be able to teach and 

students to learn in school. Safety officers (whether they are police or community safety personnel can help ensure a safe environment.) 

● Gerry Horak (Mayor): 

i. Always willing to review a polciy. There are pros and cons to police presence in schools. Prior to the 22-23 buget a review should be performed 

● Nick Armstrong (District 1): Yes 

● Tricia Canonico (District 3):

i. I support significantly limiting police presence to rapid response & prevention of emergency/safety situations only as well as opportunities to develop positive community policing roles. We want to keep our children safe but automatically having officers in schools isn’t the best way to achieve that and often results in unintended consequences. Police officers don’t need to be in every school. Unfortunately in too many cases, having SRO’s has instead perpetuated discriminatory policing. 

● Erin Hottenstein (District 4): 

i. The presence of School Resource Officers or other police in schools can have a detrimental effect on kids’ academics and their mental health. And unfortunately, kids of color and those with disabilities are more likely than others to be targeted by SROs for disciplinary action and even arrest. (New York Times article. Do 

Police Officers Make Schools Safer or More Dangerous? June 12, 2020) But we all know there are no easy answers here. School violence is a part of our kids’ everyday experience, and that has to change. It will be vital that we work collaboratively to find solutions to the problem of gun violence in schools, which don’t lead to other, more insidious problems for kids. Every child deserves to have a good education, and the various stakeholders need to come to the table willing to ask hard questions and work collaboratively to find solutions. ● Shirley Peel (District 4): No 

● Melanie Potyondy (District 4): 

i. I believe a long-term goal of reducing police presence in the schools is appropriate, as the ideal would be focus upon preventative services in lieu of more reactive ones. As a school-based mental health professional, I currently utilize my assigned SRO for a variety of safety-related functions (e.g., reporting sexual assaults, threat assessments, transport of suicidal/homicidal students to the hospital). I would like to see suitable replacement options for these functions

identified and implemented before a gradual reduction of police presence at the secondary level. 

● Sidna Rachid (District 4): Yes 

● Jessica Dyrdahl (District 4): Yes 

● Kelly Ohlson (District 5): 

i. I would defer to the elected leadership of the Poudre School District and parents of students who are or will be enrolled. 

● Jeff Hansen (District 5): No 

6) Do you believe that City dollars should go to funding SROs (School Resource Officer) in the Poudre School District? 

● Jeni James Ardnt (Mayor): 

i. I believe that the city should collaborate with our school district to promote health, safety, equity and learning. I suppose, ideally, the school district pays for 

everything in schools. But if they needed assistance, it would be hard to deny 

them. Colorado is 49th in support of education and I find it hard not to support 

students, especially the most in need. I was a special education teacher. 

● Gerry Horak (Mayor): “See above” 

● Nick Armstrong (District 1): 

i. I believe that mental health resources can be a very useful thing in our schools and that representation is powerful. SROs can be helpful in some cases and not so helpful in others, so it may be that we should reapply SRO funding to make 

progress on other outcomes (mental health, social support, hunger, etc). 

● Tricia Canonico (District 3): 

i. Only if we can drastically limit & re-shape the role of SRO’s, again not 

necessarily having a dedicated officer in each school but having specially trained

officers to deal with true school related emergencies & juvenile issues through a lens of community policing & restorative justice. 

● Erin Hottenstein (District 4): 

i. In addition to what I wrote above, public funding should shift to prioritize mental health and school counselors. 

● Shirley Peel (District 4): Yes 

● Melanie Potyondy (District 4): 

i. I support a gradual reduction of SRO services in the schools should appropriate replacement measures be available to ensure safety. 

● Sidna Rachid (District 4): No 

● Jessica Dyrdahl (District 4): 

i. I think funding allocated for SROs can be better utilized but it could depend on the school itself 

● Kelly Ohlson (District 5): 

i. I’m not sure. It is perhaps more of a financial responsibility of the school district if they desire the SROs. 

● Jeff Hansen (District 5): 

i. I don’t believe there is a current need for SROs in the Poudre School District but I would not rule out the possibility if enough unfortunate evidence were presented which supported that need in the future. 

7) Do you support ending exclusionary school discipline practices that disproportionately impacted students of color, undocumented students, and students with disabilities? 

● Jeni James Ardnt (Mayor): Yes 

● Gerry Horak (Mayor): 

i. I support a review of those polices and practices to ensure they are fair and fairly

administered. 

● Nick Armstrong (District 1): Yes 

i. we need to get to the root of why those exclusionary practices exist. Ending them is one thing, dismantling thoroughly the structures that created them in the first place is the real goal. 

● Tricia Canonico (District 3): Yes 

● Erin Hottenstein (District 4): Yes 

● Shirley Peel (District 4): 

i. School discipline should be enacted evenly across the board when needed and all discipline should be looked at, not as punitive but as a chance for training our students. 

● Melanie Potyondy (District 4): Yes 

● Sidna Rachid (District 4): No 

● Jessica Dyrdahl (District 4): Yes 

● Kelly Ohlson (District 5): 

i. I don’t know enough to have a reasoned opinion. It sounds like improvements need to be made. ● Jeff Hansen (District 5): Yes

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Demand Governor Polis Vaccinate Vulnerable Coloradoans


Please sign and share this petition! by March 1st, and demand that Governor Polis offer vaccines to people in prisons and jails and to people experiencing homelessness.

Undeniably, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed massive inequities in our healthcare system and throughout society. With his vaccine schedule, Governor Polis is reinforcing these inequities in Colorado. This is disturbingly evident when we look at prisons and homeless shelters.
According to the COVID-19 Racial Data Tracker ,the county with the highest COVID-19 cases per capita in the entire United States is Crowley County, Colorado. The 5th highest is Bent County, Colorado. What these two communities have in common is that they house private, medium-security prisons. Statewide, Colorado prisons have seen 7,842 COVID cases with a rate of 4,459 per 10,000 prisoners. Compare that to the overall COVID state rate of 676 per 10,000.
Bringing this closer to home, Larimer County Jail has 23 active cases of COVID-19 among inmates and 19 active cases among staff, in an ongoing outbreak that has failed to be contained after nearly two months.

Acknowledging the high risk of contracting COVID-19 in prisons, Polis has prioritized correctional workers to Phase 1B in the vaccination schedule; they can now obtain a vaccine. However, the vaccination schedule does not acknowledge people who live in prisons as having any vulnerability criteria. So someone who is 55 years old and in prison without any documented health issues will not get vaccinated until the summer, when we are in Phase 3. This is unconscionable.
Similarly, Polis has prioritized “direct care providers for Coloradans experiencing homelessness” to be vaccinated in Phase 1B. Yet, there is no category for people who are experiencing homelessness. Larimer County recently provided a sobering example of the high transmission rate of COVID-19 to people staying in homeless shelters: it was reported on December 3, 2020, that 54 people tested positive from the Blue Spruce Warehouse Shelter (50 who were staying at the shelter and 4 staff). This represented over half of the people staying in the shelter. Ten days later, 56 people at Harvest Farm, a facility for people experiencing homelessness in Wellington, tested positive for COVID-19. This represented 90% of all of the residents staying there.
People who live in prisons or homeless shelters bear the same rate of exposure as the people who work there. They are likely more vulnerable to serious illness, given the harsh conditions imposed upon them. There is no rational reason to withhold vaccines from one group while making them available to staff. Compare this practice to Phase 1A, when long-term care facility staff and residents were both appropriately eligible for vaccines. Why should this be different?


The Colorado COVID-19 website reads: “By vaccinating people who are most likely to get COVID-19 first, we can keep more Coloradans safe.”

Apparently, the state does not recognize people who are living in prisons and people who are without housing as even being people. This blatant dehumanization must stop. Let’s demand that it does.


Please sign and share this petition! by March 1st, and demand that Governor Polis offer vaccines to people in prisons and jails and to people experiencing homelessness.


Cheryl Distaso Serves on the Spokes Council for the Fort Collins Community Action Network (fccan.org).

Citations:

-https://covidtracking.com/race
-https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/05/01/a-state-by-state-look-at coronavirus-in-prisons
-https://www.larimer.org/health/communicable-disease/coronavirus-covid-19/larimer-county-positive-covid
19-numbers
– https://covid19.colorado.gov/for-coloradans/vaccine/vaccine-for-coloradans

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Creating Rituals for care & resilience

Right now, we are collectively experiencing a time of complex transitions, uncertainty and unresolved wounds that have disrupted the rhythms of our lives.

Right now, we are also experiencing continuous reflection on what will sustain us and how we can conjure the practices our hearts long for through present, intentional connection.

We need ritual because ritual calls us to connect with ourselves, our communities and our desired futures with intention. When we invite ritual into our lives, we say YES to creating compelling moments of meaning, care, celebration, acceptance, intimacy and beyond—all bravely turning us toward ourselves and each other. Ritual allows us to build sacred spaces where healing feels possible. As Prentis Hemphill teaches us,

When I practice rituals, one of the first acts is an invocation: to call in spirits, energies, and beings with whom you want to work, from whom you want to learn, from whom you long for support, and with whom you want to bear witness. To invoke is to intentionally weave lines of connection and communication- re-aligning with ourselves and the environment around us. Often, through un-intentional habits or routines, or ways of being in our everyday lives we forget and disavow our relationships to our living environment.

I’ve been finding the most loving, life-giving rituals to be the ones that we dream and design for ourselves, with community, especially when they are rooted in our deepest needs and desires. When we create a shared space to honestly name our deepest desires—we can bring forth ritual possibilities that speak to our hearts because life is asking us, maybe even demanding us, to respond.


I invite us to listen to our body’s responses to these questions as we consider crafting rituals for ourselves and with community:

  • What requests have been forming in my body I’ve read this blog post?

  • What needs to be released for me to create and experience more loving, liberating moments?

  • What has been keeping me further away from ritual? (beliefs, systems, fears, patterns)

  • What is pulling me closer to ritual? (longings, dreams, body knowledge, spirit)

  • How can we invite our loved ones and community groups to be a part of the process?

  • How could this ritual reflect the collective dreams of our communities through the elements we see, smell, touch, taste, and hear?

  • What inherent and ancestral gifts will we each hold sacred and promise to nurture as we practice?

  • How will we renew our rituals and celebrate the people we are becoming?

Ritual work is liberation work. Ritual work is love work. As we welcome the creation of ritual, I believe we can find freedom and meaning in the every day, ordinary. These moments will bring us closer to witnessing what’s rising within our hearts, allowing us to courageously accept ourselves and each other over and over and over again. When we practice, may our bodies remember that being in the rhythm of ritual is a sacred, continual space that will always invite us into the deep offering of liberating love.

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