Tiny Native American Baskets

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I can’t remember where I picked these exquisite little baskets up. The 3 sizes are 1⅝″, 1¼″, and 1⅛″. They may be either Miwok or Pomo (both central California tribes). They’re sitting on top of our little Bose radio in the kitchen and we look at them all the time. Originally they had tiny hummingbird feathers attached to each of the beads, but they were destroyed by some kind of insects.

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Island Village in Mexico

Photo: W. E. Garrett, National Geographic Society

Village of Mexcaltitlán seems to float on the Rio San Pedro delta (between Mazatlan and San Blas). This photo, which is in our book Home Work, was shot in late summer 1968, when torrential rains turned streets into canals. At lower right is a partially submerged basketball court; U-shaped building at lower left is fisherman’s cooperative.

Home Work is available at www.shelterpub.com/building/homework

Note: We have a 30% discount on two or more books, with free postage. This beats Amazon!

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Women’s Communes in Southern Oregon

Juana Maria Paz, The “La Luz” Journal, published by Paz Press, 1980. [via Boyd Used & Rare Books]

It’s not common knowledge that for several decades at the end of the last century, Southern Oregon was the heartland of lesbian separatism. Midway between San Francisco and Portland, the region is sparsely populated. A cluster of steep canyons forested with Douglas fir, sugar pine, and Pacific madrone are framed by one wild river to the north, the Umpqua, and another to the south, the Rogue. Tucked among the canyons are picturesque pockets of meadowland. Lesbian locals termed the I-5 corridor that cuts through this crumpled topography the Amazon Highway; they sometimes called the hills ‘Mama’s Many Breasts.’

Nestled here was a thriving community of women-owned, women-built enclaves. At the heyday of the movement, from the mid-1970s to the early ’80s, eight separatist collectives flourished in Southern Oregon, with a ninth just south of Portland. Their parcels ranged in size from seven to 150 acres, and were home to anywhere from four to 30 women. Thousands of lesbians visited, from all over the world.…

…Each community was born from the same conviction: Patriarchy had created a destructive, unjust society that needed to be junked. The aim was a mode of living that respected the earth, eradicated class oppression, rejected paradigms of dominance, and regarded female biology as noble, even sublime. From casual nudity to consensus decision-making, the land-dykes overturned assumptions they’d inherited. They built their own houses, invented practices of worship, modified language, and attempted wealth redistribution. They loved each other fiercely, and insisted on a politics that began and ended with that love.

The aim was a mode of living that respected the earth, eradicated class oppression, and regarded female biology as noble, even sublime. At the time of this writing, some of the lands have long since been sold, and some remarkably persist, albeit at much-reduced scale. What, now, can be learned from the tribulations of these women building a new society by hand in the American wilderness? Much has changed in the last 50 years. Uncloseted lesbians are not the anomaly they once were, and elements of the land-dykes’ environmentalism — so unconventional in the 1970s — are now accepted truths. Queer identity remains indelibly associated with cities, to the degree that rural exceptions are easily sidelined. Gender-exclusive alliances, once so liberatory, now seem less so. The separatist legacy is sullied by some separatists’ antipathy towards trans women.

Long article from Maui Surfer:

placesjournal.org/article/on-wimmins-land-the-heartland-of-lesbian-separatism

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Ranchera in Baja California Sur

In 1988, I bought my first 4 × 4 Tacoma pickup truck and headed for Baja California. This was shot on the Naranjas road, which goes from north of San José Del Cabo across the Sierra La Laguna mountain range to the Pacific Ocean near Pescadero. It’s a dirt road, rough in spots, and at times closed due to rock slides or washouts. This was at an immaculate rancho about halfway along the road. The ranchera told me she had six kids and that her husband was in the hospital. A beautiful home, built of (obviously) all local materials. These ranches, many of which are in almost inaccessible spots in Baja California, usually run dairy animals: cows or goats, or beef cattle. She took off her hat and posed proudly in front of her home.

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