3 Things We Can Learn from Octavia Butler’s Character Lauren Olamina Right Now
Updated: Sep 19
Photo Cred: Dorothy Attakora-Gyan
1. Strategize and Be Strategic: Lauren was always 10 steps ahead and hyper-vigilant. She read a lot of books and studied different plant life, herbal remedies, and self-defence skills. She kept a bag packed and ready in case of any emergencies, which included extra clothing, money, a map, seeds she could plant for food, like acorns to make bread, and important documents she’d need. She was attentive to politics and kept up to date on current events. Her father and others taught her how to use a gun, and they’d practice shooting at different targets. She knew that going out into the world as a woman was added danger, so she strategically chose to pass as a man for much of the novel. She made copies of important documents like birth and marriage certificates, drivers’ licence, and deeds to property. She kept the originals in a safe offsite away from her house in case her home was ever attacked (which it was), so when the copies were destroyed and burned, she already had the originals still safe in a safe. She expected the worst, even when no one thought it was warranted. So, when the worst struck, though it still threw her for a loop, she was better prepared than the rest of her community.
Right now, based on what I’m seeing circulating online from others, this could look like those living in Canada or States that aren’t as affected offering housing to those who may need to travel out of state for abortions. This is mutual stretching. Donate to mutual aid and abortion funds. For those who are able, show up at protests. And also, understand that not everyone can protest, so give space for online organizing, and let those who are burned out and need rest, rest. This might look like supplying medical kits or milk to counter act tear gas and pepper spray. Donate to food banks and or feed folks if you are able. Contact your mayors, cabinet members, and other members of parliament. Let people cry, vent, and feel whatever they need to feel without policing or shutting them down. Being tender with yourself. Stay hydrated. Be mindful of what you post on social media. Also understand that surveillance extends beyond social media. Careful what you write in your journals, or on random scraps of paper. I hate to say it, but be hyper-vigilant when necessary, and heal your nervous system at every corner. Dysregulated nervous systems will lead to mistakes, missteps, and more issues and problems. Take care of your mental, emotional, and spiritual.
2. Find Your People
Once she was on the road, and even before that, she had really been big on community, and immediately started to find her people. She found who else was left in the community, and they set off together. Knowing that there is safety in numbers, she started to pay attention to who else on the road could join them and how to grow her network. She knew she couldn’t go it alone and would only survive with the help of others. So, she collected people and delegated, sharing labour, all contributing. She slowly built trust and was honest about when it was shaky. She observed new people, paid attention to their patterns, learned them as best as she could. Together, they looked out for one another and had each other’s back. They took turn watching and staying on guard as others slept. Each night, people would be paired together to watch over the neighbourhood, campground, or property. They had practice drills of what to do in case of emergency. Like we have drills for what to do in case of fire or school shooting, they went through the motion as if crisis were plausible. Think about your pods, ask folks if they want to be part of your pod. Respect boundaries, set your own. Poor communication skills tend to erode most of our relationships, so work on that. Speak up for yourself, understand it will come with resistance and even people walking away. Apologize when you’re wrong. Hold yourself accountable. Don’t be afraid to let folks know when they are wrong. Give people space. Take space. Just be good to one another, if you say you care. If you don’t be honest, don’t mislead or deceive people into thinking you care when you don’t. Singing Kumbaya around a campfire isn’t necessarily the goal, getting out alive whole, softer, and more aware might be.
3. Sustainable Living
She budgeted what little she had and was wise about where and how they rationed items or spent money. She learned early to garden and grow her own foods. She learned the different plant types and trees. What herbs were good for what. They built their own home from the ground up, cutting wood themselves, buying and building everything from scratch. They grew their own food. They sold their own food. They learned different trades and skills that they could sell to make extra money. Some built furniture, taught extra courses, and or did art to sell. They taught each other more than 1 language, usually English, and Spanish. The kids went to school on the property when public schools no longer got funding and cost money. They had libraries on the property. They lived communally. I recently got an Off-Grid Bundle from Veladya at Earth Mama Medicine. Some topics included: vehicle dwelling, living out of vans, and RVs, herbal remedies, fermenting different things, living a minimalist and green lifestyle, going vegan or vegetarian, microbusiness and remote side hustles, wild birthing, natural beauty care, detox recipes, building off-grid homes, tiny homes, and more. I’ve also seen Tik Tok videos where folks are showing us how to repurpose different things, DIY projects, and how to grow your own foods reusing lemons, pineapples, or making your own fertilizer out of eggs. So many resources, pay attention, you may need it one day. At this rate, highly likely.
Stay safe out there. Take care of one another. Be kind. Strategize. And Rest!
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Until next time, in solidarity