ARTICLES ABOUT TLC
Here you will find a showcase for articles either written about or that mention TLC in the context of end of life support. Thank you for taking the time to read them.
Palyul Clear Light Magazine: Interview about the History and Mission of TLC with Founder and Director, Julie Rogers • 2021/2022 Issue
SF Examiner: SF Lives~Guided by voices: Remembering the lives of Janice Mirikitani, Terry Collins and San Franciscans passed on...‘It’s the people of true revolutionary commitment…who are responsible for the culture of The City.' By Denise Sullivan • August 15, 2021 [Scroll down]
Palyul Clear Light Magazine Interview...
PCL's Editor, Cleve Wiese, talks with Julie Rogers, Founder & Director of TLC Transitional Life Care
To order "Instructions for the Transitional State", click here.
Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche’s teaching, “Releasing Attachment to Prepare for the Bardo,” [hosted and filmed Jan. 31, 2021] was requested and sponsored by TLC Transitional Life Care, a non-profit organization in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition authorized by Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche. This program provides support for people who want to prepare themselves for the end of life and those approaching death, as well as their families, loved ones, caregivers, and the general public.
Starting in 2015 with the strong encouragement of Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche, the organization has provided numerous resources related to the dying process for all those interested, regardless of their spiritual backgrounds. Those resources include their manual;, a steady stream of online and public teachings; an archive of numerous films; “Deep Chat” support groups; a useful website; and much more. Information about TLC can be found at www.tlcserves.org.
Of particular interest to many Buddhist practitioners is the well-known TLC manual, “Instructions for the Transitional State: A Concise Guide for Families and Friends of Vajrayana Buddhists.” This user-friendly guide contains a wealth of helpful information about how to prepare for and navigate the process of dying, in both spiritual and practical terms. It can be purchased online at www.vimalatreasures.org.
Julie Rogers, the founder and executive director of TLC and author of the TLC manual, spoke with Palyul Clear Light about the organization she leads, its history, and her hopes for the future.
Palyul Clear Light: Could you please tell us a little more about how you became interested in end-of-life care and about the origins of TLC?
Julie Rogers: In the early 1990s, one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with cancer. He was in San Francisco, and I was in Oregon, but I wanted to help. At his partner’s request, I went to Gyatrul Rinpoche and asked him what we needed to do when my friend died. He told me a lot of things, and I wrote them down. I also talked to Yeshe Nyima, a monk at Tashi Chöling [Gyatrul Rinpoche’s retreat center in Southern Oregon who has since died], and then I put together an 11-page document about what to one does in the Vajrayana tradition when someone is dying.
That’s how it started, with those spiritual instructions. Later I realized I needed to add secular information, including medical and legal aspects, because all of this is needed—it’s all one ball of string—and having the secular aspects together as well as the spiritual helps to create the best scenario. We don’t know what’s going to happen when we die, but if we have our Advanced Directive and POLST, Will and Trust, and financial stuff organized, this is tremendously helpful to our people. If you know where you want your things to go and you take care of that ahead of time, and if you’ve written your Spiritual Will and know what you want to have done to help you through the dying process, it makes it so much easier for your folks, who are already going to be suffering your loss. And we want to help them.
But initially, the idea for a support program started because, over twenty-five years ago now, several friends in the sangha died, one by one, in a steady stream. They were all under 40 years of age, and they all had cancer of some sort. So I went to Gyatrul Rinpoche one day, and said, “I really think we need a Death and Dying program.” He turned to me, and he was very adamant. He said, “You do it!” and I thought: What?! Me? I thought maybe I could move chairs around and stuff. Turns out there’s a lot more to this.
I really feel that TLC’s existence is due to Rinpoche’s blessing. He’s a very, very powerful lama, and his teaching methods are very effective! [laughs] I would never have done this if he hadn’t said to do it. I had thought about it a lot, but I don’t know that I would’ve had the energy, which was and is instilled by his powerful suggestion. And it’s a way to serve the Three Jewels and sentient beings.
PCL: Can you tell us a bit about the structure of TLC? Where is it located? Do you have a spiritual director? How are you funded?
Julie Rogers: From the beginning, our spiritual director has been Gyatrul Rinpoche and apparently, he’s trusting us to carry on. We’re a self-motivated, independent program. Chagdud Khandro has been very supportive along the way, and support has been offered by the many dharma teachers and medical professionals who have taught as part of the program. We don’t have a facility. Our office, my dining room, is in Oakland, CA. Initially, Ian Villarreal did all the legal footwork to establish TLC’s non-profit status. We have a small Board of Directors: myself, John Pfeiffer, Carol Veilleux, Joan Stigliani, and Leslie Crabtree, and we’re friends. My daughter, Sangye Land, handles our social media. Bill Kanemoto and Jacob Tendrel are our trusty film editors, and Roger Hardy is a Zoom host. Our volunteers aren’t from any particular sangha. Actually, we follow a variety of teachers and practice in both the same and different lineages (I love that part!), though we’re all students of the Nyingma school. I’d like to see this program expand to the other schools. Not many Buddhist centers are aware of us, and we aren’t “a center,” however, we are trying to form a community. We don’t have many volunteers yet, but we hope that this will change before long.
TLC was founded in Oregon, but our main work has been in the San Francisco Bay Area, and our public events have been centered at Orgyen Dorje Den, Gyatrul Rinpoche’s center in Alameda, CA. The ODD Board of Directors has been very kind to support our program. We also have a small group in Ashland, OR, and before the pandemic, we presented a free public film series in both locations. We really don’t have regular funding. I think three people donate monthly, but that’s it, so all of our funding comes from donations offered by folks who come to our events. Also, we distribute four teachings on DVD [thanks to Vimala Video], and at least fourteen films of past programs are available on our website with more to come, so any donation that comes through these, our DVDs, or through people donating for our programs is what supports us.
I really feel we’re still at the beginning. Six years sounds like a big deal, but it isn’t, though it’s been quite an effort to get here. Sometimes I feel that all of this is so slow, and then I remember Gyatrul Rinpoche: when he told me to do this, he said, “Slowly, slowly.” I remind myself of that and realize that if it were developing any faster, it would be unmanageable.
PCL: Who can participate?
Julie Rogers: Anyone can participate, and we want to serve everybody. We’re very, very non-sectarian. You don’t even have to be a Buddhist! Anyone can attend our events or be involved in our programs. Actually, getting the word out about what we offer has been one of our biggest obstacles.
The other thing [Gyatrul Rinpoche said when he told me to start this organization] was, “Vajrayana tradition, but anybody can come.” So there’s no stipulation about faith or no faith, but TLC typically attracts Vajrayana Buddhists.
PCL: Many people are aware of or interested in the TLC manual. Why do you think it’s an important resource for practitioners here in the West?
Julie Rogers: Well, for example, one of my sisters, my daughter, and I are all Vajrayana Buddhists. But my parents weren’t, and none of my other relatives are. If it came to a situation where they needed or wanted to be involved in assisting at one of our deaths or someone else’s transition, they wouldn’t know what to do. Also, the manual is very concise. There are plenty of amazing “end of life” books available now, that’s for sure, but when you’re in a state of shock or grief, you need pertinent, brief, and easy to access info, so practical pith instructions are needed. This is my experience. This is a reason why there’s a glossary at the back of the manual—to make it user-friendly. I’ve seen families that aren’t Buddhist use it, and it was helpful.
When you look at the manual, and you see what’s there, or when you talk to a lama, many of the things they say and teach are common sense. And it seems that lamas appreciate the manual as well.
For example, the Vajrayana view about the dissolution of the elements is really amazing! We filmed a wonderful teaching by Chagdud Khandro and have it on DVD and on our website—it’s called “Teachings and Advice for the End of Life.” Khandro clearly explains the dissolution process as both the person dying and as an observer would see it. For example, she talks about the dissolution of the various elements and how the mind/body goes through a variety of experiences. This info is really helpful to the person dying and for their caregivers, particularly Buddhist caregivers. If you’re aware of these teachings, you have an idea of what’s going on with the dying person, and this helps you to be a better helper and caregiver for that person.
PCL: What sorts of events and services does TLC provide now? Do you actually go into people’s homes to help with the dying process?
Julie Rogers: My initial idea for the program was to offer hands-on support for people when they’re dying. I’ve been with a few people during their transition and have helped to wash the body, talk with the families, and arrange and conduct memorial services, pujas, and p’howa—things like that. Helping out is an absolutely amazing, transformative experience. I received hospice and bereavement training years ago before completing the manual before Vimala published it, so I had a chance to learn about this. But most people aren’t trained about how to sit with the dying, and that’s important.
To be honest, bedside service is still more of an aspiration than an actuality for TLC at this point. The pandemic has also been an obstacle to this, ironically enough. With more volunteers, I imagine we would help in these ways when someone needs support, like sitting with the person, reading sacred texts, providing information, assisting after a death, and so forth. Our website is full of these kinds of resources. At the very end of life, our support will include helping to wash the body, arranging memorials, contacting lamas, assisting with pujas, and suggesting where folks can make offerings to support the dead—that kind of thing.
But, up until now, we have such a small staff that we’re barely keeping up with what’s going on. Like everyone, we were forced to transfer all our activities online in March of 2020, and we’re just now slowly expanding. That said, I would really like us to provide this kind of care. It’s a very strong aspiration.
PCL: What other sorts of activities and events do you offer?
Julie Rogers: We’ve hosted over fifty educational programs since our onset, focusing on both Buddhist teachings and hospice advice. I’m hoping to offer more secular programs, such as encouraging and helping people to fill out their Advanced Directives, to get that end of it together. Before the pandemic, I was leading “Transitional Life Forums,” workshops for small groups that focus on TLC’s manual, and I’ve done this with several sanghas. We’ve also started successful support groups, and they’re on Zoom now. Our public film series is on hold, but we’re editing our own films for distribution, and we hope to begin offering texts. We’ve made sa-tsas for people; there’s a page on the website about how to do this, and we’ve provided sa-tsa workshops and Sur practices for the deceased. Also, I’ve been known to offer informal counsel when requested. We also look forward to more volunteer outings and gatherings, which are very bonding and good for our morale. Creating a spiritual community is the foundation of all our activities.
We host “Deep Chat” support groups, where people get together on Zoom and talk about impermanence. Of course, we talk about the end of life and death and dying, but it doesn’t have to be just that—it’s wide open. And what’s happening is that the people involved have become bonded, so if something happens, we let each other know: “You know, so and so died, please everybody, pray,” or, “I need some help with this, are you available?” We’ve all decided that if any one of us is ill and/or is dying, we’re going to help each other. This is the point of TLC, and I’d like to expand that.
We’ve hosted so many amazing lamas! Khenchen’s event in January of 2021 on Zoom attracted more people than we’ve ever had at any other event in our six years—people from all over the world. It was really amazing and helpful. He’s so wonderful.
PCL: How can people keep up with your events and activities?
Julie Rogers: We have a newsletter that comes out regularly. You can sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of every page on our website, and whenever there’s an event, we send out announcements and reminders. Gyatrul Rinpoche’s centers, Orgyen Dorje Den and Tashi Chöling, very kindly send out announcements about our events. TLC’s website is regularly updated with information, and we have two Facebook pages and an Instagram page.
PCL: Do you have any general advice for people about the end-of-life process?
Julie Rogers: The most important thing is to practice meditation and become confident in your practice. But, in terms of practicality, to have an Advanced Directive prepared is really important on so many different levels. That doesn’t seem very spiritual, but the fact is, if you don’t have things written down about what you want, the medical industry and the hospitals are going to do what they want, and that may not be what you want at all. And it’s much, much better, if you can, to die at home. It’s also important to register with a hospice the minute you find out that you have any kind of an illness that might be terminal. We can’t predict death! I might die in a car accident, and if I do, I have a POLST prepared [Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment], one of a few legal documents. Or, for instance, if I don’t want to be embalmed, there’s a form to fill out, or if I want to die at home, I can have that documented, and those wishes can be adhered to.
It’s extremely important to talk to your family, so that everybody is on the same page, and to have an Advanced Directive and some sort of Spiritual Will, which at least includes a list of phone numbers of whom you want called, who your lama is, which practices would you like to have done. You want to have provisions set aside for cremation, if that’s what you choose, and offerings. Somebody else, of course, could take care of that for you, but the point is to take as much responsibility as possible and not to lay this on other people, particularly those close to you, who are going to be bereaved. I’ve heard so many people say, “Oh, my family will take care of that.” But what are you doing to your people? It really causes a lot more suffering. So, anything you can prepare ahead of time is going to make it easier on everybody.
Medical wishes are very, very important, and also how you want your property, your finances, your objects, and your belongings dispersed. So many families have problems with this. Death brings out fear in most people, and we don’t operate well when we’re in a state of fear. This is really something to pay attention to. A lot of people don’t want to even think about it and postpone writing a Will—it’s supposedly so depressing.
I’m on my third Will [laughs] because, after the first two, things changed in my life. I found that writing a Will has actually been a deeply meaningful process. It’s also very contemplative, and it helps you think about your life from a different perspective, along with your priorities and what impermanence is. I think it’s a great practice, actually.
There are different types of Advanced Directives. Some of them are written very simply; for example, there’s one that’s called the “Five Wishes Document.” You fill that out, and there it is. You then make copies to leave with your doctor, your local hospital, and for your family and/or significant others. Some of the Advanced Care Directives can be complicated, full of medical jargon, and you might need some help with those.
Most people don’t know a lot of the little details that have a big impact on what happens to you when you die, whether it’s in the hospital, in an accident, or at home. But if you die at home, you have so much more freedom to receive support, particularly as a Buddhist practitioner. You can leave the body at rest until the phowa is done, until the consciousness has left. So, there are a lot of big perks to being at home. And, in order to stay at home, really the best thing to do, like I said, is to become a hospice patient. Some people’s health actually improves when they receive hospice support because the nurses take such good care of you, and it also relieves your caregivers and your family because it gives them support. And, when you die, instead of having the police come, a hospice worker comes.
When my husband died over four years ago, I had friends there, and we did everything ourselves. When the hospice worker showed up to determine his death for the death certificate, he said, “Do you want me to wash the body?” and we said, “No.” He said, “Why not?” and we said, “We already did it.” His jaw dropped—he’d never seen that before.
I think that’s kind of amazing. This was common, actually, 100 years ago. People would take care of their dead. But the funeral industry and the culture have hidden death so thoroughly that we’re more afraid than we’d be if death were in our faces. Go to India! That’ll wake you up. Now, with the pandemic, death is becoming a household word.
It’s not as scary to accept as we think it is, and it really puts things into perspective.
I can’t wait until my Will is completed because I may not need to revise it again, and that would be great! I’m using the Nolo Will and Trust program [Nolo Quicken Willmaker & Trust 2021] that you can buy for $99, instead of going to an attorney who charges $450 an hour. So, you can do it yourself. I’ve been slowly making my way through, and so far I recommend Nolo, if you can take the time. I think it’s a really good type of practice. And you end up with a completely legal Will and Trust.
The Trust is really important as well because then there’s no probate. So, for whoever is involved in the trust, whoever you’re naming as your beneficiaries, there’s no hang-up with the government. All your money and/or objects or possessions go directly to the person you leave them to. It’s hugely essential, especially if you own anything of value.
PCL: Have you had any particular experiences that demonstrate the power of the kind of Buddhist end-of-life support you offer?
Julie Rogers: Yes, I have. Somebody I knew was dying. It happened very quickly, and the family wasn’t Buddhist. The husband was Buddhist, but the adult kids and the other family members were not. This woman had a stroke so she couldn’t speak any longer, and her husband, wanting to be close to her and take care of her easily, had her in the living room in a hospital bed, with the TV on, and near the front door, where people went in and out all the time. I came to stay for a while. I stayed through her death. I just looked at that situation—I understood why the family wanted her to be in that room and everything, but I also felt like it would be really, really distracting for her—and she couldn’t say anything.
I’d brought the manual with me, and I said, “Let’s have a family meeting.” It turned out that she’d already asked her husband to use it when she died. So the family came, and through the course of the week before her death, they all read the manual, including the non-Buddhist people in the family. At the meeting, I suggested, “I think it would be really helpful if we created a situation and an atmosphere that would be conducive to calm.” So all the daughters came that afternoon, and we completely cleaned up the master bedroom and made it into a shrine. We hung all the thangkas in the house there, we hung prayer flags, cleaned up the little shrine, and just got it all together. We put the hospital bed in that room and then lifted her, brought her in, and put her down on the bed. She got this huge half smile on her face as if to say, “This is perfect.” She needed this, she wanted this, though she couldn’t do anything about it.
Then we started to have a kind of schedule. We allowed people to come sit with her, but not too many at a time, because this can be hard for the person who’s in transition, as well as for those experiencing the last days and hours of someone’s life who they love. I think it’s hard for us to think past our own box at times. Our own relationship with death can be overwhelming, but we really need to think about the experience of the person who’s dying and hold that as most important.
That family came together and completely supported her. At the beginning, I had talked about washing her body after she died and waiting to have some phowa done, but the family didn’t want to have anything to do with it. But, by the end, all of her daughters washed her body.
It was so moving and so wonderful. It was a deep dharma experience, the whole thing. A few of us were chanting Vajrasattva as she died, and it was a mind-altering and heart-opening experience. She died so well; she was so calm, accepting, and peaceful. I think that’s because of the care that her teachers, her family, and close friends provided, even stretching past their own comfort zones and their own interests.
I just can’t recommend more heartily how important this is and how it’s part of life. It affects everybody, and it’s part of our practice. Think: how would I do this, what’s the best situation I could create, the most positive, supportive, comforting situation?
Many of us haven’t lost our parents yet, and certainly not all our friends. The dying person doesn’t have to be Buddhist, and the traditions included in the Buddhist path will help anyone. If somebody practices another religion, you can support them in ways appropriate to that—if the person is Christian, you say Christian prayers with them. You can still do your Buddhist practice on the side. How one dies has a lot to do with the next rebirth, and that’s determined by how we live our lives now, our motivation, and our practice.
We can be examples for other people—support them, help alleviate their fear, and help prepare them. The thing is, impermanence rules. It’s the bottom line. We can’t escape it, but we can learn to accept it.
San Francisco Examiner: SF LIVES ~ The every day people who make The City extraordinary • by Denise Sullivan
Guided by voices: Remembering the lives of Janice Mirikitani, Terry Collins and San Franciscans passed on. ‘It’s the people of true revolutionary commitment…who are responsible for the culture of The City’ • August 15, 2021
The sudden death on July 29 of poet, activist and co-founder of GLIDE community Janice Mirikitani and the July passing of Terry Collins, co-founder and director of community radio KPOO-FM, leave a tear in the fabric of The City we may be hard pressed to patch. Aside from leaving family and friends bereaved, the values and spirit they brought to their roles as community leaders rippled well beyond city limits and into the world.
“When people in the community die, whether you have a personal relationship with them or not, it’s a loss,” said Julie Rogers, Founder and Director of TLC Transitional Life Care. “They represent our home, our culture, our communities.”
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, The City’s losses have started to add up, particularly in communities of color and among artists where displacement and elective retreat from The City continues. As our brightest lights age out and ultimately crossover, without the next generation in place, we could become in peril of losing our emphasis on changing the wider culture through art and activism.
“A cat like Terry really stabilizes the community,” said San Francisco poet laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin. “Terry was still in motion, right on up to the end. A revolutionary never retires, they don’t belong to those kinds of paradigms,” he said, conjuring Collins’ commitment to the principle of self-determination. “Every conversation with him was a full immersion in revolutionary spirit that could sustain you for years.”
Collins, originally from Indiana, arrived in San Francisco in 1967, a veteran against the war. He joined the Black Panthers and the Black Student Union’s organizing efforts at San Francisco State where he participated in the historic student strikes of 1968-69, notable for giving birth to an Ethnic Studies Department which reshaped higher and secondary education in the Bay Area and beyond. As an outgrowth of raising liberation consciousness, Collins and fellow student striker Joe Rudolph created a media center to teach audio visual skills not only to Black students but to dispossessed communities who generally did not have a voice on the airwaves. Collins’ internationalist spirit of solidarity informs KPOO’s mission almost 50 years later, giving airtime to all forms of African American music and sounds from around the world, as well as to prison issues, news from the Arab world and reports from the Native nations (some of that programming has been covered in previous editions of this column).
Mirikitani’s radicalization took a slightly different road: Born in Stockton, Mirikitani was a survivor of relocation to a World War II internment camp on U.S. soil; she was also a survivor of familial sexual abuse. After studying at UCLA, she participated in student organizing for ethnic studies with the Asian American Political Alliance. Working as a poet and with a day job as an administrator at GLIDE, she became its director of programming in 1969. It was through her art, and her ability to identify with people’s suffering, that she began to heal and become a voice against oppression and for compassion. Married to the Rev. Cecil Williams since 1982, she and her husband made GLIDE Foundation’s name synonymous with radical inclusion and unconditional love. Through the AIDS pandemic, San Francisco’s never-ending housing crisis and the miasma that defines the Tenderloin, Mirkitani’s concept to “care dangerously” meant opening her heart and herself up to other survivors of trauma. Her poetry was a part of that work.
Serving as San Francisco’s second poet laureate from 2000-02, Mirikitani showed up for poetry and literacy when and where she was called to do so long after her term. In addition to the GLIDE community, her fellow poets feel the weight of losing another of their own in a rough year for burying regional giants of the art: Michael McClure, Diane di Prima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Al Young and Q.R. Hand all joined their ancestors in 2020-21.
“People like Jan and Q.R. also really stabilize The City; regardless of what people think makes the world go ‘round, it’s the people of true revolutionary commitment, regardless of where they dance in relationship to the spotlight, who are responsible for the culture of The City,” said Eisen-Martin who is also an independent publisher. Last year he launched Black Freighter Press as a platform for Black and Brown voices. Among other titles, he’s published “Out of Nothing,” the final work of Hand, a poet and mental health worker here for 40 years.
In the spirit of remembering recent passings of seniors who contributed to making The City what it is, Don Skiles was a San Francisco State alumnus who spent most of his adult life as a writer and professor of English at Chabot College. Author of five books, Skiles contributed “The Poodle, The Refrigerator and You,” to the anthology “Your Golden Sun Still Shines,” which I edited. Married for nearly 50 years to Marian Schell, an artist and teacher at Lincoln and Mission high schools, Skiles cared for his wife through her cancer years, until her death June of 2020. A year later, Skiles sustained a stroke and died in June. I sometimes find myself wondering about the fate of their poodle, Alfie.
Jean Feilmoser was, among other things, a San Francisco tour guide and a cab driver — one of the few women in the business. I met her at one of the annual San Francisco History Days events at the Old Mint where she had come to deepen her knowledge of The City, even though she was born and raised in the Outer Mission. She fell into easy conversation with me and I Drive SF columnist Kelly Dessaint, and I took her card, hoping to profile her in this space; instead, I came to know her as a student in writing classes I facilitate for Litquake’s Elder Project. Feilmoser died in June, just shy of her 70th birthday after exhaustive caregiving for her mother — but not before she committed her story as a world traveler and election observer in East Timor, where she escaped the 1999 massacre.
“I was impressed by her story,” said Rogers, who is also among the teaching artists with the Elder Project. “I heard a woman standing up for herself in the face of potential great loss and she triumphed. When she lifted her hand in the air at the reading, it was a gesture of victory. She wouldn’t allow herself to be oppressed.”
As a poet and a grief worker, Rogers continues to explore the bereavement cycle that is not always supported in Western culture. Her husband, poet David Meltzer, died in 2016.
“The funeral industry has changed the face of death in America over the last 100 years,” she said. “Survivors are often left to fend for themselves with no tools and very little support.” She noted hospice services tend to be an overlooked resource. “They’re not just for the dying but for the family afterward.”
TLCserves.org operates through a Buddhist framework. There are other religious and secular organizations out there, too, like San Francisco’s Institute on Aging, which offers grief services for a reasonable fee and a Friendship Line that’s open for people in need of a live person on the other end of the phone.
“When you’re dealing with a loss, and no one’s listening, it’s a compounded loss,” explained Rogers. And in these times, loss tends to be all around us.
“Even if you happen to be fortunate and haven’t had financial fallout, there are other losses to consider,” she said. “We’ve lost our illusions of feeling safe. Lost our illusions of trust in the media, in politicians. We veer around each other on the street. The distancing we’ve had to put in place without reinforcing it with better communication, has been devastating.”
Cultural and political organizing can be among ways forward, as are bolstering organizational infrastructure and training for the next generation to lead communities out of oppressive conditions and outmoded systems. We hope to use this column as a space to explore these future possibilities as we grope our way through the darkness together.
“Moving forward, the key is we have to recreate or reinvigorate the conditions that create a Terry, a Q.R.” said Eisen-Martin. “There’s no way to raise the next generation of revolutionaries without a wave of revolutionary organization. What Terry would probably say is we need real movement.”
Until that time, there is still visual art, spoken and written word, music and performance to be tapped to transform consciousness in times of trouble. Donations and public memorials are also a way for the beloved community to gather and work toward closure if there is such a thing at the end of one’s life.
Eisen-Martin was among the congregants at the July 24 memorial for Collins at the African American Arts and Cultural Complex; he will deliver poems at two events celebrating the life of Mirikitani scheduled for the weekend, including today’s online event from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. streaming live on GLIDE’s Facebook page. The City’s remaining living poet laureates memorialized Mirikitani on Aug. 14 at an online program, archived at SFPL.org. And donations can be made in Mirikitani’s name to the GLIDE Memorial Fund.
“I didn’t have a lot of interactions with Jan,” said Eisen-Martin. “I just know her legacy and I see her fingerprint all over everything that’s good in this city.”
Denise Sullivan, an author, cultural worker and editor of “Your Golden Sun Still Shines: San Francisco Personal Histories & Small Fictions,” can be reached at denisesullivan.com and @4DeniseSullivan.