Nomads in the Carolinas

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This one’s going to be a bit long since it’s been waaaayyyyyy too long since we’ve been able to write one of these. Finally have a bit of downtime with internet!

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Walmart parking lot stays are so fun…

Our departure from the campground near Philadelphia took a little longer than we expected to, so we were forced to stop for the night at a Walmart in Alexandria, right outside the nation’s capital. We went inside to ask if they allowed overnight stays by RV’s and they informed us they didn’t and had already sent security to our camper to inform us. I was stressed out since it was dark and the right camper tail light doesn’t usually work because of trailer plug issues. I soothed my nerves with a large Coke (as I often do, unhealthy soda is a rare comfort food for me lol) and then we checked our maps for another Walmart nearby. We called them and they didn’t pick up. We drove over since we had no other choice, and, to my undying relief, we saw a cluster of RV’s on the far side of the parking lot. Without even informing Walmart, we parked near the other RV’s. I decided getting kicked out at 3 AM would be better than being kicked out now. I slept extremely lightly with a hatchet in my hands. After a fitful few hours of sleep that were punctuated by shouting drunks and traffic starting at 4 AM (people in the capital have outlandish work schedules it seems) we woke up and left Walmart at 6:30 AM, even though Blache was enjoying their dreaming. I really enjoyed the drive, since the lush, dense forests of the North gave way to the brown grasslands and smaller trees of the South, something that reminded me a lot of California. Also the dense and small northern highways got a lot larger (something more familiar to me), which is quite nice for camper towing.

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Due to our early departure date, we arrived in Greensboro, North Carolina very early. And, due to our quick passage through Virginia (we were planning on spending a whole day there, perhaps visiting plantations like Monticello or Mount Vernon for experiential research but they had entrance fees and we didn’t have money to spare and black people should be able to enter plantations for free) we arrived an entire day early. Our host was caught unawares at work so we spent an entire day outside of the house we were supposed to be leaving the camper at (the driveway was blocked by a car that a neighbor who was also at work was supposed to move). When the neighbor got around to moving the car, it was dark and there wasn’t enough light to back up so we had to pull straight in. The driveway had a steep incline before it flattened out which was worrying since the camper has two iron triangles that serve as the camper base for jacking which hang down too low (giving the camper about a measly foot of clearance). We scraped but we made it. We scraped some more on the way out next morning and found it impossible to back in due to these annoying triangles. I was mortified about the scrapes and tried washing them off but our host told us the homeowners wouldn’t mind since they were also new to RVing and had similar problems. He recommended us another place with a flat driveway, we found it and backed in, and unpacked.

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Photo Credit: Boomerang Bookshop

Our host in Greensboro was Crckt Leggett, owner of the Boomerang Bookshop: Nomad Chapter (hence the name of the blog post, I’m clever aren’t I?) mobile bookstore. He booked us for two events, a performance and vending for Blache at Grove Street Market, and a workshop at a historically black library in Winston-Salem.

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The Grove Street Market event was amazing. I opened for Blache in my first poetry performance outside of school ever, which itself was cool, but Blache deeply engaged with a lot of the audience as they wove their transformations into spoken word. This deep engagement resulted in the most amount of sales we’ve made all trip and possibly finding the location for the next chapter of For Brown Bleeders! Blache deeply appreciated the Greensboro’s bbs and their attentive listening. Many of the poems they read were written the day of the performance, which is also a scary and vulnerable experience the first time sharing.  It was affirming and healing to be received with such open arms, hearts and generosity. Shout out to Amira for rounding up the black queers for the event. If you can, be sure to support The Sunflower Center, which is black-owned land that Amira volunteers to tend to. https://www.facebook.com/SunflowerCenterFahiym/

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Our workshop titled Plants Remember Our Stories was also a beautiful event. This workshop was unique in that it was the first time our audience was entirely composed of elders, who have experienced many of the phenomena that we’re researching firsthand. For Blache it was an opportunity to slow down to define terms such as intergenerational trauma, while they were gaining confidence in sharing their herb knowledge with those who have a life’s experience of inhabiting a body. Although originally being nervous about this age difference, the elders were attentive listeners and stayed very engaged throughout the workshop. This was exciting for Blache as well, because each chapter of FBB requires youth and elders working together.

They also bought a few FBB products, and everyone left the event satisfied. Thank you so much Crckt for hosting us in Greensboro! We had a fantastic time. Also your mobile bookstore is a treasure of carefully curated radical books. Thank you for all the labor and love you put into your work!

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❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Our next stop was Charlotte. We camped at Andrew Jackson State Park (we spent Indigenous People’s Day there too…) for a few days, which was a little restful. Our event in Charlotte was a performance and pop up shop at Comic Girl Coffee & Books. Unfortunately, due to weather and other factors, there wasn’t a large enough audience for Blache to perform, but we made great connections there and Comic Girl is selling some FBB products on consignment! If you’re in the Charlotte area, stop by and heal over some coffee while browsing comics! ❤

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Blache Marie inside Boomerang

 

We truly appreciated all the love from North Carolina, and the love from you readers. Your donations and kind words make our hearts swell.

– Edgar and Blache ❤

 

To donate to the tour:

https://www.youcaring.com/blachemarie-901787

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Time Traveling in Philadelphia

 

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During our stay in Philadelphia, we had a more laid back schedule, even having a day to rest! Our campsite after the first two days had a no dogs policy so we had to sneak around Nala. We spent our time in Philadelphia taking better care of ourselves and our bodies. We splurged a tiny bit on brats at Walmart to celebrate our progress so far with something other than canned food. Campfire cooking has a way of calming the weary soul, the flames reaching into our psyches to evoke feelings about experiences shared by the entirety of our ancestral lines.

After the euphoric/stressful emotional train that Pittsburgh was, Philadelphia was surprisingly a lot more calming and slow. We taught a workshop at the Amalgam Comic and Coffee on using ancestral stories in art (particularly comic writing) that had a small but attentive turnout. The following day was the first day of Time Camp 001

Both days of Time Camp 001 proved to be very fruitful. Time Camp 001 was an interactive part of the exhibit Distance ≠ Time at Icebox Project Space, curated in part by Black Quantum Futurism.

The other co-founder of For Brown Bleeders, Rose, was reunited with Blache with a huge, beautiful, minute long hug. Blache and Rose spent the first day absorbing as many workshops as they could. They each bounced in and out of workshops on time travel in dreams, building for the future as a present day ancestor, interacting with portals, laser, magic and entropy and so many beautiful black and brown people and black and brown art. They took breaks out in Blache’s truck to catch up, chill and nervously figure out what they would teach in their workshop titled Time Travel Through Blood Memory.

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Photo Credit: Black Quantum Futurism

As with many For Brown Bleeders’ events, Blache and Rose drew internally on their lived experiences and lovingly responded to the work of those around them, the other presenters at Time Camp 001. The healing circle at Time Camp 001 held and released grief, trauma and memories around blood and bleeding. The healing circle was exclusively for people of color, and the group spoke of collective abundance and shared intimate stories of healing and trauma. Blache received so much during this circle because they were bleeding during the circle and was given the opportunity to discuss their journey to bleed and birth For Brown Bleeders with Rose. As the last workshop at Time Camp, it was a beautiful way to reflect and be cared for after a week of thinking through and engaging with many afrofuturist ideas and artwork.

 

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Photo Credit: Black Quantum Futurism

Through continued conversations, Blache and I were able to record some interviews of Time Camp attendees migration stories. It’s a beautiful experience to be trusted with personal stories and to see the individual effects of migration, job loss, economic instability, redlining and other collective phenomena that causes movement. Escape Route Storytelling, despite being in its infancy, is truly turning into something beautiful and powerful. We both have already learned so much. Thank you for your stories. ❤

 

We have been a little delayed with blog posts so we’re actually already on the next leg of the tour, so expect another blog post very soon full of what will obviously be more than a day or two of the trip.

-Edgar and Blache

 

To donate to the tour:

https://www.youcaring.com/blachemarie-901787

Saying Farewell to Pittsburgh

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The verdict came back on our brakes: Not Good. I tried to drive the truck in the morning to a mechanic that was recommended to us and the back right tire started leaking brake fluid. I made the choice to get it towed. Turns out a caliper was missing and the rotors were shot. Fixing all of that wiped out our trip savings, so smash that donate button if you have money to spare please!

We’ve been adjusting to the uncomfortability that comes with freedom/attempting to survive outside of capitalism. In some ways, Blache prepared for this shift mentally prior to the trip. As they continue to do ancestral research, they are reminded of the migration journeys their ancestors have made of similar distance and under dangerous circumstances. The sacrifices are rough, but the relationships built between past, present and future are invaluable.

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Onto lighter news, our oral history project Escape Route Storytelling got off to an amazing start in Pittsburgh. We got some incredible local stories about migration and gentrification that we are extremely grateful to have had a chance to listen to and record. Pittsburgh is a city rife with survival and a spirit that laughs through trials, broken dreams and holding on to each other.

While Blache’s truck was being worked on, the wonderful Tamisha Singletary allowed us to spend a few nights in their room. Thank you so much Tamisha!!! Tamisha’s home is a place of connection, like many of the spaces that we visited in in this city of bridges and roads to nowhere. Their home connects queer folks back to the earth through communal living and their large backyard garden. It was so uplifting to experience all the established lemon balm in their garden, and the house provided much medicine to support Blache’s healing while they were sick.

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Photo Credit: Onika Reigns. Pictured: Print by Michael David Battle

 

During one of our last days in the city, we spent the night at Onika Reigns’ installation in Sanctuary Pittsburgh, an art gallery that features the work of black LGBTQ artists. Onika’s exhibit became a space of much needed rest after Blache’s performance of personal transformation and the many events we did in Pittsburgh. (The performance video is still on its way…we need to be able to work from the desktop to use the editing software…but a low tech cell phone solution might be on the horizon). Onika’s installation was intended to be a place of rest, especially for black and native femmes. It was beautiful for Blache to be in community with such kindred spirits while talking about deep wounds of mother trauma and returning to memories of childhood sleepovers

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It was with heavy hearts that we left Pittsburgh, since the people of the city we met received us with such open and generous arms. The drive to Philadelphia included a few wrong turns and one “Oh shit!” moment when a sign informed us there’d be a 10% decline for the next six miles (no way we’re putting the truck’s brakes through that, we turned around) but we reached the campground outside Philly at night safely. It is highly recommended to take interstates while towing a heavy camper. The interstates cut through the landscape with more gentle slopes than state roads.

The trip itself was gorgeous. Central Pennsylvania is a beautiful place that I’d love to traverse under less stressful circumstances. That’s an adventure for another time. For now, Philadelphia awaits. Time Camp 001 is tomorrow. If you’re in Philly, come by to say hi.

 

– Edgar and Blache

 

To donate to the tour:

https://www.youcaring.com/blachemarie-901787

 

An Intro to the City of Bridges

 

BWT04Our last night in Ithaca was spent making For Brown Bleeders herbal medicine to sell on our trip. I was originally quite nervous while driving, since we had had brake issues moving our camper before. While the brakes were replaced, I was still worried that maybe the camper brakes were not activating since the connection plug between the camper and the car was acting up. However, after a nerve-wracking hour, I gradually settled down and realized that the slower rate of driving was actually quite enjoyable.

We reached a private campground at night, where we parked the camper and went to sleep. In the morning, we arrived at the City of Bridges. Pittsburgh has been amazing. We have had an auspicious start here in the city, and the residents of Pittsburgh have been extremely kind.

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So far, we have done two pop-up shops, one workshop, and one performance by Blache. Our first pop-up shop was at a coffee shop and was pretty quiet, unlike our second one which was held in The Big Idea, a radical anarchist bookshop. There, we got quite a few sales and had some friends visit and hang out.

The workshop was titled Lifeways in our Blood and was held at Ujamaa Collective. Ujamaa was the perfect place to hold the workshop due to their large and beautiful collection of African art, which allowed workshop goers to find items that called out to them and begin delving into conversation about ancestral research with the items as starting points.

Blache’s performance took place at Sanctuary Pittsburgh. Blache told a powerful tale of personal transformation, culminating with a small surprise herb workshop for the audience. A short video will be made for a taste of the performance.

In a less exciting part of the tour, the truck brakes started acting up again recently, but this time it’s the back brakes. We’re going to hopefully get the back brakes replaced tomorrow.

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Another thing I wanted to mention was that Blache and I are collaborating on an oral history project centering the experiences of black and brown people who lived through the consequences of a migration, whether they were active participants or not. We named the project Escape Route Storytelling. We have already recorded several people. If you know someone along our route who wouldn’t mind being recorded, let us know!

 

Also, we moved from a private campground to a cheaper and friendlier state park, but we’d like to continue cutting costs. Let us know if you have contacts outside the cities of Philadelphia, Greensboro NC, Charlotte NC, Atlanta, Birmingham, Jackson MS, Dallas, or El Paso who wouldn’t mind us parking our camper on their properties.

 

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We strive to be financially independent by FBB product sales and workshop fees, but unfortunately, things like car and camper troubles are out of our control. If you can, please donate and continue to follow us on our journey!

 

To donate to the tour:

https://www.youcaring.com/blachemarie-901787

 

To donate to For Brown Bleeders

https://www.paypal.me/ForBrownBleeders

 

Don’t forget to communicate with us and ask questions and make suggestions as to what you would like to see next! Also, if you have suggestions for venues San Diego, LA, Phoenix, Jackson, Birmingham, Dallas, or El Paso, contact us.

 

-Edgar Bernal Sevilla, tour assistant.

The Beginning

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Hi all! The Black Widow: Stories of Death and Rebirth tour by Blache Marie is officially days from kicking off, so I’d like to start with a few words about the tour and the amazing artist behind it.

Blache Marie is an abuse survivor and currently homeless. They are also a poet, graphic designer, research based artist, herbalist, and healer. In their own words “ I am the adult who makes my fourteen-year-old dreams come true: I am an ancestor returned who is remembering that we are as infinite as the darkness. I’m intense. I need to let all of this out somewhere, so I’m going on tour.”

Blache is also the co-founder and creative director of For Brown Bleeders, a collective of earth-connected artists and healers who center the experiences of black and native people in the United States. They organize healing spaces and create herbal remedies focused on the needs of people of color who bleed and who are moving through and escaping from all forms of abuse, with the emphasis on sexual assault, domestic violence and environmental racism.

The tour idea began when Blache finished their art degree and the life they had planned disintegrated. Following a series of traumatic events, Blache realized they were no longer the same person and had in fact, awakened to a much stronger connection with their ancestors, including the land, water and plants.

The following quote is Blache’s own words as to why they chose the black widow as their personal and tour symbol: “Black Widow is a symbol of divine feminine that transforms enemy energy into sustenance. I work to embody that transformative nature and lens. The spider also represents the storyteller and the connector. I weave stories of transformation as I live a life in which I am continually dying and rebirthing myself.”

The tour will span across the country, which Blache and I will be traveling in a pull behind camper. Blache is traveling paths of the “Great” forced Migration and paths of the trauma of their ancestors. They will perform poetry, exhibit art, and teach workshops in these cities:  Pittsburgh, PA; Havana, Cuba; Philadelphia, PA; Atlanta, GA; New Orleans, LA; Houston, TX; Phoenix, AZ; San Diego, CA; Los Angeles, CA, Rochester, NY, Syracuse, NY, and Ithaca, NY, while camping in surrounding woods and secluded areas. Tour dates for the West and South are coming soon.

Blache’s goals for this tour are threefold:

  1. Look for ways to create an Underground Railroad for abuse survivors to escape abusive situations.
  2. Expand the network and reach of For Brown Bleeders
  3. Show that it is possible for vulnerable people of color to use their creativity to heal and escape.

This blog will serve as documentation of the trip and will be a bridge between you and us. Please support us and follow us on our journey!

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To donate to the tour:

https://www.youcaring.com/blachemarie-901787

 

To donate to For Brown Bleeders

https://www.paypal.me/ForBrownBleeders

 

– Edgar Bernal Sevilla, tour assistant.