Me at the old studio in Indianapolis, 2008. After five long years of journeying I’m setting up space again at the new homestead in southern Indiana, where I’ve been reading a lot of Wendell Berry’s writing. This rang out like a bell:

“I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked. Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circling or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times. I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order. The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led – make of that what you will.” ~ Wendell Berry

Occupy Journalism Q & A with TRC’s Gabrielle Price

[A question/answer session from an anonymous journalism student from Sweden for Occupy.  We both agreed it would be good to share this for all the young journalists and budding occupy media teams.  So, here you go.  I was honored to be asked to participate.]

Why did you decide to pursue a career in Journalism?

I wrote for a school newspaper in Jr. High and was curious about journalism then and after several creative writing courses in High School – but I didn’t actively pursue it until I was well into my 30’s – mostly because it flushed well with my photography.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words but many of the photographs I took at the time were art photos and descriptions came with them as a matter of course.

My actual career background is in the administrative field [much of that was correspondence and research]. The people I worked for liked the manner and style of my writing and I was highly praised for my ability as a researcher.

After my last administrative job was phased out, I actively pursued photojournalism as a means of sharing information.  Being a politically active book nerd, my skills simply married well with journalism.  I took the leap with my first blog and received a lot of good feedback.  Later, I started a music project which garnered some international attention for my writing and since then, I managed to cross the music writing over into activism.  Two things I am very passionate about.  This started me down a path of deeper research and intelligence gathering – and the study of journalism in history.

In many ways, journalism pursued me.  I’m also a Gemini – ruled by Mercury – the sign of communication and information.  Though, many don’t put stock in those things, I can attest to that being a strong personality trait.

Are you glad that you did?  Do you have any regrets?

This is an interesting question seeing as I feel like I had no choice but to write.  Like an artist creates, a writer writes.  I’m glad my work helps others and in this day and age of corporate news – it feels like my duty to continue.  I’m honored to witness history as it unfolds and try my best to report factually and objectively – which was near impossible to do in political writing.  The deeper I researched, the more I learned and it became a personal awakening process.  For that, I am also glad and couldn’t regret a thing.  It’s been as much a spiritual journey as a professional one.  Seeking to uncover the truth, by it’s very nature, is a spiritual undertaking.

It’s impossible to regret growth as a human being – it is experience that makes the writer, after all.  Though there are few posts by me on TRC, I like sharing others work.  I’m working on a book, building a radio station as well as news videos, which doesn’t lend itself well to news writing at the moment.  There are a lot of great reporters and writers out there and I like to share the ones that impress me.

What successes have you realized as a result of your career choice?

Mostly accolades and the honor of seeing my work alongside some of my personal heroes in the field.  Also using my work to help others less fortunate or that do not have a voice.  Success is a personal reflection because it is defined differently by an individual rather than what society deems successful.  For me personally, I have printed letters and emails framed from other writers and artists I admire – and have met one of them last year who was quite a mentor for me.  So I guess I feel my successes are in my growth and the personal connections with like minded people.

This is also a mixed blessing as some writers may not be socially in tune or egotistical which is a turn off.  But that’s life and all part and parcel of the experience.  That doesn’t make a person’s work any less valuable a contribution.  I mean, Hunter Thompson may have been considered an asshole by many – but his writing put Rolling Stone on the map, in my opinion.

What have been your greatest challenges (or what are your greatest challenges now)?

Money.  I think most writers would say the same.  The corporate media machine and technology has lulled a lot of people into a false sense of what journalism is or should be.  It does get a bad rap.  I feel that is changing however, so honestly, it’s an exciting time to be involved in media as much as it is precarious.   There are many who probably couldn’t hack it and aside from money, the greatest challenge for me was cutting through my own cognitive dissonance in order to report without mainstream bias.  This is much harder than it sounds simply because the mainstream has done it’s job well.  Being a little ‘gonzo’ helps.Hunter Thompson remains one of my favorite writers and he said that it is near impossible for regular people to get good information during wartime.  This makes the job of a journalist much harder as well.  Meeting and overcoming challenges to deliver honest reporting is pretty much how any journalist worth their salt will keep their integrity and the loyalty of their readers [or viewers].  Even when the political climate makes them fickle…and fickle is being kind.  It’s a tough audience out there right now.I’ve always admired Keith Olbermann’s ability to maintain loyal listeners.   I’m not sure European readers will know who he is – but he was on a cable station called Current which is owned in part by Al Gore.  He was fired abruptly two weeks ago and was one of the only remaining voices on [pseudo] mainstream that supported and reported on Occupy.  I hope he gives Current a Gonzo bitch-slap so hard that Al’s wife Tipper will feel it.Don’t get me started on Tipper.

Are there any “unknown” pieces or aspects of such a career that might be helpful for an outsider to consider?

Be prepared to handle the truth when you find it – and be prepared to tell it to others thoughtfully not cautiously. The duty of any journalist is to report what IS – to the best of their ability with the information available.  ‘Available’ does not mean you don’t have to research.  Dig until you are satisfied in your own mind and heart that you have discovered something of value to your readers.  It is ultimately about them.Lastly, if you want to improve a thing [your writing, the political landscape, the press] be critical of it.  In order for the art of journalism to survive corporate control – it needs more critics not suck ups.  This means you need to have a thick skin and an iron constitution.  Journalism is not for the weak of heart.  The old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword is true – words are very powerful things – wield them with respect for the truth and you will never injure yourself.Others may get hurt, however – but if a small few are hurting the 99%, the environment or our democracy – being critical of them is just helping karma along.  It is way past due for a nudge.

Any personal advice or last comments?

Keep a copy of the First Amendment where you write.  I recommend watching the movie “Good Night and Good Luck” at least twice to understand why one of the highest awards for American journalism has Edward R. Murrow’s name on it.  If we were all half as good as he was – we could mop the floor with MSM here.  That time is coming because this economy is seeing major publications laying people off.  Citizen press and underground media need to get their foundations established now – there is a window and I’m unsure how long it will be open.  Connect with like-minded thinkers, photographers, videographers and not worry about trying to “make it” in a dying corporate media culture.  Leave that old cold war corpse to rot…it’s time to get on with the business of telling people the truth.US media is about as useful as a stars and stripes band aid on compound fracture.

The Shift Is Coming – What Is It?

by Gabrielle Price

I used to write a spiritual and progressive column on an internet site that claimed to reach a broad audience and could make me some part time money if I just kept writing and plugging away.  The money was ‘pay per click’ with some commission for ad revenues initially – now that site just gives away coupons, travel miles and vacations or some manner of toy, gadget or consumer item.
For a writer trying to eek out a living is hard enough…to write progressive content about dumping the corporate mindset of political greed and consumption on a page full of ads that I had no control over and could potentially be about the very companies buying our democracy?  It just made me feel like an asshole.  Not that I wasn’t pleased with my final work but I felt the advertising would call my integrity into question.  That and I just can’t eat a coupon.
I quickly created my own site and never looked back.
Until recently.  I revisited both columns – I’m a firm believer that we don’t know where we’re going until we remember where we’ve been.  It was the spiritual column that found me chuckling at myself.  Not because of the work – it was at best indicative of a time during my own personal journey of intention and positivity – at worst it was incredibly naive.
I recall at the time that I struggled internally to write the words ‘power of positive thinking’ and ‘law of attraction.’  Not that there isn’t a little something to that – but I’m also a realist.  That comes through in my photography.  I don’t like to photoshop the hell out of a simple image but work with shadows and lighting until the essence and feeling of that moment reveals itself to me.  Sometimes it is a completely happy accident.  I think the world is plenty photogenic and mother nature doesn’t need candied-up like so much glitterati.
A quote has resonated with me over time that has been attributed to one of my favorite photographers, Dorthea Lange.  “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.“  As one of the photographers who recorded the haunting and famous black and white images of The Great Depression, she would know.
Life, like photography is a balance of shadows and light.  I had to admit to myself that a lot of what I was seeing without my camera was worrisome.  The political and environmental concerns were too real to imagine positive thinking could ‘change’ all that.  It’s the same as praying which I didn’t put too much stock in at age 8, let alone in my 40’s.  Then I saw a video that made me realize I was on the right path and that no path is full of rainbows and unicorn farts – unless you’re a sheltered pre-teen or a character in a Disney movie.

 

Using a photographer’s analogy:  A lot of ‘new age’ spirituality never resonated with me because it literally ‘photoshopped’ right over reality, like many religions before.  I never liked The Secret and was a critic of it from the get go – but there were other ‘new age’ problems.  These problems were made very apparent to me after my first viewing of Josh Fox’s documentary, Gasland.  I had to pause the movie several times because I was moved to tears.  Things were worse than I had ever imagined and something had to be done.  I was changed.  I shared via my social network that I had viewed the film, and stated that, “I wish I could unsee Gasland but what has been seen cannot be unseen.”
Within 5 minutes there were two ‘new age’ folks asking me, ‘Why can’t you?’ and ‘Pretend you didn’t see it.’  This, ladies and gentlemen, in a nutshell is what my intuition had already been telling me was absolutely, inherently wrong – so very, very wrong – about this country’s inability to take their own blinders off.
I have the Smile or Die video bookmarked to share with others like me who share my same concerns.  They are more often than not, deeply spiritual people who know how bad things are right now but that listening to their own intuition serves them well.  They are incredibly vigilant.  The keen observers, scouts and warriors for humanity and the environment that has sustained us.
“Has” being the operative word here.  That’s all about to change in a big way.
What is the shift?
I believe it is an energy shift that is happening in waves.  Part of the shift, the human aspect, is happening right now.  All around us.  You may not believe it has much to do with politics, markets, resources or government – but I put to you that is has everything to do with these things because they are, in fact, globally intrinsic and effect all people.  The web of life.  Whether you pay attention to the news outside the idiot box or not there are many things happening in other countries that your government does not want you to see – and if you are a truth seeker, like me – you dig until you find what resonates with you.
The digging is also a spiritual undertaking.  An excavation.  Investigating for your own peace of mind is one thing, to do it for the benefit of your craft, sometimes your own consciousness can take a good beating.  You learn to assimilate information that makes you uncomfortable – but that is the purpose of any real spiritual undertaking – to get out of our own comfort zone.  Learning to handle the truth, when we have been lied to for so long about so much, takes not only mental but spiritual stamina…stamina we have to want to obtain.  This can be difficult when pushed or pulled in other directions, even from well intentioned others.  This is when solitude beckons and only then can intuition be developed.
When I say ‘consciousness takes a good beating’, what I mean is that it is challenged – you challenge your comfort zone, your own way of thinking.  The outcome of this practice is keener observation and your intuition becomes acute.  A sharpened sword molded under your own blacksmith’s hammer.
This is not an easy task in the world we live in now – shifts are happening faster.  One must make time to do the work, study, practice and meditate.  Yes, meditate.  The mind is a big place with lots of bright lights and swirling data coming at us at an alarming rate every day.  It’s the best tool for quieting one’s mind in order to focus our best intentions even when the information we receive seems confusing.  Finding the truth is like separating the wheat from the chaff.  The best way to start to do this is turning off your television and picking up a book.
The journey isn’t about arriving
I know a lot of people who enjoy traveling but not always for the reasons that seasoned travelers take to the road.  Arriving isn’t the goal – it is the journey that teaches us about observing.  Speed bumps on the road aren’t so much of a surprise when we’re able to slow down and move over them smoothly.  Many people are ill-equipped to deal with the slightest hiccup in their lives – the fastest way from point A to point B can be more fraught with difficulty than if we take our time – and in rushing, we miss an awful lot of the scenery and opportunities to learn from our surroundings and other people.
People in a hurry to get where they’re going are usually not attentive for long periods of time – so reading, researching and absorbing information can be a chore for them.  Perhaps this is why it is frustrating to me to read badly written headlines, when many only read them like so many Twitter updates, rather than reading the content.  Headlines are designed to capture attention.  How long that attention lasts is of no concern to most media spin doctors.  Some headlines are inflammatory, others are just plain shocking.  To the point at which a satirical piece can be taken seriously, even by people we tend to imagine should be much more observant than the average Joe.  Then again, politics doesn’t always denote intelligence.
What I have found is that the more I seek – I am sought by people who share my sensibilities and love of life.  In the past two years, I’ve met people with a lot of courage to change what they see broken in the world we share.  They think little of themselves and more of the greater good.  They know what effects them, effects everyone – we really are all connected in more ways than one – but our biggest connection has been being fellow passengers on this boat.  When people seek to sink the boat, some of us take it personally.  This is exactly why people are in the streets with Occupy.  This is why people complain about their government being corrupt.  It’s also why politicians and banks that own them are nervous – they know we’re right.  Quite simply, there are more of us then there are of them.  When you don’t do right by the people and they finally learn the truth, they will let you know about it.
Imagine all the things that have come to light already by switching off televisions and reading alternative news sources!  There really is an underground college that has taken shape via the internet.  It is a very important tool for learning, sharing ideas and meeting people with common goals and concerns.  Even a thousand miles away!  I have found it to be a marvelous place for spiritual growth in this way as well.  The shifts that are occurring are less scary when you find other people experiencing them – the same problems – the same suffering, and that connection is healing medicine for the planet.  It is what the Buddha taught – that in our suffering, we also learn compassion for ourselves and others – because all beings suffer.  Awakened beings wish to help ease this suffering, or what is called Samsara, by teaching a way of detachment of earthly possessions, among other things, which cause us unnecessary suffering and keep us from enlightenment.
Representation of samsara in Buddhism / wheel of life
Right now, there are many people in the 99% globally, who have learned this lesson quite acutely, not through spiritual practice or a guru but by physically losing their savings, work, homes and loved ones.  You don’t see them giving up, nor their neighbors give up, their towns will not give up and a whole glorious wave of compassion is being unleashed and what I see now is that America, the sleeping giant,  is finally coming out of REM sleep.
The hope is that it does not behave like a rudely awakened child because we have a lot of work ahead of us and we need to catch up with the rest of the world. Begin by embracing the reality that we no longer passengers on this ship, we are all crew.  Prepare to roll up your sleeves.

In Honor of Ray Bradbury’s 91st Birthday

~ an excerpt from Ray Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451
‎”Some day the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them.  We went right on insulting the dead.  We went right on spitting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us.  We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year.  And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, We’re remembering.  That’s where we’ll win out in the long run.  And some day we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn steam-shovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up.  Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror-factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.“
BREAKING: Ray Bradbury passed away today at age 91.

“The good writers touch life often.  The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her.  The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.” – Ray Bradbury

You, sir were a damn good writer.  Thank you for touching my life, Ray. RIP
Don’t forget to celebrate Banned Books Week this September…