Ashland, Oregon and This Moment For Change

Words by Holly Truhlar (Ashland, Oregon – USA)

A HALLMARK OF A magnificent mind is . . . they do not need much promoting. Their mental activity is so revved up, all that is needed is a platform.

That’s the situation with Holly Truhlar, who possesses a couple degrees and can boast of special letters behind her name. She has knowledge. Yet, it is not knowledge which is powerful, it is the action knowledge inspires. Truhlar is action.

After only one year in Ashland, she is spearheading a public offering. On Saturday, May 26, she seeks to . . . well, let me get out of the way and have her speak for herself. She is well qualified.


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What is the intention organizing this event?

As I see it, there are a few intentions as listed here:

1) Begin to build trust within a community of practice and care that includes (even emphasizes) marginalized identities and voices;

2) Bring awareness to the underlying, often exploitative and dehumanizing, dynamics in dominant culture which are particularly pervasive in Ashland and often covered by a privileged spiritual overlay;

3) Give voice to the incongruence in what many folks with dominant identities, particularly in Ashland, claim to value versus the impact of their ongoing actions (or non-action);

4) Help people learn and/or practice the embodiment skills needed to sit with discomfort, intimacy, and unpredictability—in other words add to the community’s ability to regulate its nervous system both personally and as a collective;

5) Build experiences, and thus neural pathways, that normalize process over perfection, as well as de-centering dominant identities and voices; and (perhaps most importantly),

6) Get people plugged in and committed to one or two concerted efforts/organizations that work toward social change.

The second day is mostly dedicated to helping people (in Ashland and beyond) move towards specific social change goals and organizations they’re passionate about (such as the Racial Equity Coalition or a pipeline protest). This will include an offers and needs market where the participants list their resources and skills, as well as their needs to the group, a 100-day plan where participants specifically outline how they’re moving forward with the information and experience they’ve had, and time for people with shared interests to come together and plug each other into current, ongoing efforts or create a new needed event/organization.

Who do you see sharing the event over social media? Do you think you are getting the right community endorsements?

Honestly, I am not on social media often and when I am it’s mostly Instagram. Two people manage most of the Facebook promotions and responses for the event. This is an incredible challenge for me as I was stalked by a group of men, mostly online, several years ago, and so I have some fear around participating in social media.

That being written, and in order to not skirt the question, I am not satisfied with some of the emails and social media posts that have gone up, including the sources promoting them. This is a tricky thing because I am absolutely not going to have transactional relationships with people, especially people with marginalized identities, to promote this event. I am not going to ask someone who I don’t have a connection with to promote this event unless it feels like a completely good fit. In the meantime, getting the word out in a way that feels congruent has been hard for me as I am new to the community and marketing. On the other hand, I have had many different people and organizations send information about the event through email including the Racial Equity Coalition, Bill Kauth, Dean Walker, Circuit Youth, Pachamama, and the facilitators. Happy to go into this more and I hope it doesn’t feel like I am brushing off the essence of this question.

Who do you want in the room? Who self-selects to be there?

I want anyone who is a proponent of inclusivity, equity, and imagination beyond Whiteness to be in the room. I am hoping people with marginalized identities find this to be a brave space. I am hoping to attract White people who are willing to work through their fragility. So far, the people who have self-selected are varying in age 16-72 years old, economic background, and racial identities, among other things. That being written, there are more white people and residents of Ashland coming than anything else.

What conversations do you think Ashland needs to have with itself?

Whew! This is a big question. I think Ashland needs to talk to itself about the exploitative foundation it’s built on and the privileged, spiritual shadow that furthers the problem. I think that it needs to get real about intention versus impact, and honest about what the initial intentions even are. I think Ashland needs to start addressing the problems of racial inequity, lack of affordable housing, and white, male-dominated decision-making.

The conversation would be something like this: With so many resources and “good intentions” why is it that so many people in Ashland are still being devalued and exploited? Where do our resources come from? What reparations need to be made? And, are we looking to take care future generations through the way we’re spending different forms of capital or are we looking to keep the current, mostly violent and oppressive, systems in place?

How are future generations going to deal with the unpredictability and chaos that’s inevitably going to happen in the next few decades (due to economic and environmental collapse somewhat caused by the boomer generation)? I hope this gives you an idea of where I’m at with this… happy to go further.

What do you think contributes to impeding personal growth? How can society address those barriers?

I think there are many things that contribute to impeding personal growth. One thing is the idea that personal growth can happen without an eye towards the communal well-being. In other words, I think the emphasis on individualism, personal-growth, and self-development is one of the biggest issues we face. We, especially people (like me) with many dominant identities, lack healthy initiation in this culture and so we continue to reference our selves, our own safety and growth over the health of our larger community, watershed, and the collective human psyche.

Second, I believe trauma and shame (slow-trauma) are pervasive and impede any healthy growth or interaction from fully taking place, thus, embodiment practices are key.

Third, I think we lack deep-discernment and real analysis of what causes harm both systemically and personally. We are encouraged to stay numb and dumb so that power is not actually restructured.

Fourth (and perhaps this is number one stated over again), I think lack of healthy community and connection impede us all from doing any real deep work. We were conceived in relationship to other, we must grow in relationship to other.

Perhaps, I am talking about lack of secure attachment and the circumstances that allow healthy attachment to take place. I don’t believe society can address these barriers, I believe it will be local communities of practice and care that start to address these barriers–emergent strategy style.


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