Transition Café – Patriotism

I like to talk about Patriotism, this time of year. Initially, it just seemed like an interesting subject, given that the word “unpatriotic” was to the administration of Bush II what “fake news” is to Donald Trump and his followers. That is, a term used to immediately shut down a conversation and turn a room against the person the term was used to describe. Although, we’re now hearing that Donald Trump, too, is “weaponizing patriotism”. Other words are used this way, obviously, I’m just using those as examples.

Last year, I realized that I had patriotic feelings for California, as we had stood up to Trump’s politics of hate by declaring as a sanctuary state. That was a big deal, to me, as I tend not to feel a great deal of pride of belonging to any governmental body. Reflecting, though, that may not be entirely true, but it’s true enough.

These days, reports come out of Washington D.C. of loyalty oaths to Donald Trump being a requirement for being hired in the White House, and even suggestions that that practice may be applied even beyond, into other branches of government, and candidates saying that their election came down to the simple question of whether or not they were loyal to Donald Trump. In other times, that would have been laughable, but now it is chilling, watching the behavior of those around him.

In other areas of the country, July 4th was celebrated by welcoming immigrants into citizenship, with the patriotic celebration of the ideals like hospitality, welcome, and warmth that many believe this country to have been founded on.

Each side describes themselves as “true patriots”.

Patriotism, at its root, is a sense of belonging to something and an acknowledgement of relationship. It can refer to loyalty to land, to family and/or friends. This comes from Wikipedia, though, and their definition seems to have changed even in the time I’ve been writing this.

What is patriotism, to you? If you have been part of this conversation in the past, how has your answer changed? I don’t have easy answers to this, for myself. I feel a strong loyalty to the radical inclusivity espoused by California, the state I grew up in and live in. When I think of moving out of state, I think of what I’d be giving up by doing so, and that is a hard bridge to cross. Climate change may force us all to move north, of course, bringing our ideals with us, and changing the cultures we interact with. I like the idea of becoming a refugee more, as someone who welcomes refugees and immigrants, than as someone who had not, but it is hard to move to someplace entirely new, at least for me, and especially as a refugee.

Of course, if we’re forced north, many others may be, too, many identifying as patriots, mashing our ideals up, together. What happens, then? Is patriotism simply another way to create “other”, or can one have patriotic feelings towards all sentient beings?

Can one be patriotic to an idea, rather than to a place or a government? I think so, what do you think? Is there positive patriotism? I wonder if that becomes a question of compassion.

How is this conversation relevant to living in the Transition Era?

Patriotism, at Red Rock Coffee, this Friday, 6 July, from ~6:10-7:45pm. We often go to dinner afterwards, maybe we will this week, too.

Also, and I’ll be developing this idea more in the coming weeks, the Transition Café e-mails may be shifting to a different space, off of the main Transition Palo Alto list. Stay tuned to find out how to put yourself on that list.

As much as we try to schedule when Red Rock’s upstairs is open, sometimes we cross up with another event which has the upstairs closed to us. Thank you for your flexibility in working with those evening! We will try to post a note as to where we have gone, with Red Rock.

Apparently, some e-mail programs cut this announcement off in the middle of the Guidelines, with the rest of the e-mail appearing as code. When you respond to tell me about it, my whole e-mail is often visible in your response. Maybe hit “respond”, and then scroll down in that draft? One respondent suggested that there may be a [read more] prompt that you can click on. Let me know what works…

The Guidelines are below. Read ’em, learn ’em, bring a copy if you think yer gonna forget ’em!

Venue information is below the Guidelines, and check out the random and useful other stuff below the notes section. Feel free to forward this widely!

Transition Cafe Guidelines
-Whoever shows up are the right people
-Whenever it starts is the right time
-Speak when you are moved to speak
-The conversation gets to go where it wants to go
-Pauses in conversation are good, they allow information to sink in, thoughts to happen, and quieter people to have a chance to speak
-Silent listening is fine, you do not need to speak if you do not wish to
-The “Law of Mobility”: if you feel like you are neither learning nor contributing, you may use your mobility to find a place in which you are doing so
-Bring friends! If we overpopulate the venue, we’ll figure something else out
-If you are able, please buy stuff from the venues. We’re trying to support local businesses!
Anyone can host a Café! All you need is an hour or two, an independent café you like, this list of guidelines, and a starting subject. Bring something to read while you wait for folks to show up (see the first guideline).

Please note venue changes:

This week, we will be meeting on Friday, 6 July, from ~6:10-7:45pm, at Red Rock Coffee, in Mountain View.

Thanks to everyone who has been supporting the venues by buying stuff while we’re there!

See you at the Café,



Notes: Rejection
Democratic Socialists of America

Is it productive to practice civil disobedience, or does it drive the victim narrative of the Republicans?
Tapping into the anger that is present in the nation, in different ways?
Easier to feel fear than anger?
All of these fears, what do we do with them?
Is it “all just energy”?
Is “just doing something” better than doing nothing?

When we reject people for their actions, does that make us like them?
Peoples’ lives are at stake, we need to realize that, and act like it.

Random and Useful Other Stuff:

Toby Hemenway’s (author of Gaia’s Garden)


Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land, by Gary Paul Nabhan
Thinking in Systems, a primer, by Donella H. Meadows
Masterminds and Wingmen, Rosalind Wiseman

Queen Bees and Wannabees, Rosalind Wiseman

I’ll post other links and readings in this space, as they occur to me.

Please join us on tpa_cafe, or tpa_chat, you can join at


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