Diversity, People, Rainbow Hill Meanders, Writing

Wednesday Write: Diversity for All

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“People are people and each person comes with their own unique story.” – Lisa Kraft

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I was fortunate enough to attend the Writers for Diversity session at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. The founder Eliana West runs the Facebook group Writers for Diversity. She is one of those miraculous leaders who saw a need and rose to the challenge. She runs Writers for Diversity as a closed safe group where one can have respectful conversations about all types of diversity.

I thought my quote above covered all I needed to know about diversity and acceptance. I found myself more naïve and ignorant than I ever expected.

While my belief is true, there are so many other factors I had never considered. People are also their culture, history, and the unique challenges that come with membership in non-mainstream groups.

Writers for Diversity is about all non-mainstream groups: ethnic, handicaps, self-identifications, culture … and many more. I, as an Accessible CERT (Citizen Emergency Response Team) instructor, have worked with wonderful people with many different self-determined handicaps. For Redmond, Washington CERT there is no separate, but equal classes. We accommodate everyone as much as our budget allows. The caveat is that translators are expensive so we can only offer full accommodation every three years.

I would feel horrible about that, but I took my Train-the-Trainer class with many of those from the first accessible class and these incredible individuals have taken the curriculum back to their own. If I guest teach at any of these CERT programs, then I’m the one who needs an interpreter.

20170104_034940000_iOSFor writers who are writing diverse characters, spend sometime thinking about your character and what they bring to your story. Simply changing the race of your character to fulfill a diversity quota, is like splashing new paint a wall. No matter what color you paint it, it’s still the same wall.

Your character should be relevant by the culture they bring. The unique challenges they may face. They should add a richness of who they are based on culture, history and location. If you can change their color at will, then you need to go back to the drawing board.

Another issue that often comes up in writing is writers asking the token minorities they see to tell them everything about the race or non-mainstream lifestyles they want to represent. See paragraph above about when and why you should writer diverse characters. Ask yourself if you can represent everyone in any group you belong to. (And yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition, but to write “to any group to which you belong” certainly sounded incorrect and pompous in a blog such as mine)

This is perhaps the longest post I have ever written and I have barely scratched the surface. Stay tuned for more Wednesday Writes in which I will dive deeper in the diversity of issues.

While you wait for next Wednesday’s post, I suggest reading a wonderful article by R.F. Kuang called “The Racial Rubber Stamp”  https://www.sfwa.org/2018/01/racial-rubber-stamp/

~lisa

Join me on this journey of discovery and send your own questions and issues you see. I will try to address each one I receive.

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Monday Myth, Rainbow Hill Meanders

Monday Myth: Bulgarian Dragons


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Do you know anyone with wings under their armpits? Do you know any old crones or beautiful young women who are always followed by inclement weather?

  • If so you probably know the offspring of a Zmey or you may be rubbing elbows with a Lamia in human form.

All Bulgarian dragons are successful shape-shifters.

 The Zmeys are especially known for falling in love with and seducing humans. Which means they’ve spent a lot of time in human form.

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Zmeys are usually male and associated mostly with fire. There are records of a few Zmeyitsas (female) protector dragons and some accounts of the Zmey having an affinity for both fire and water. Most villages in Bulgaria have their own Zmey as protector. The Zmey battle the elements for the safety of crops and village. Mostly they battle against the Lamia, the female water dragons.

Another form of the Zmey is described as part snake, part bird and part human. No one can give an exact description because they can become invisible at will. Their battles with the Lamia often cause thunderstorms and lightning.

It is said if you eat the heart of a Zmey you can partake of their power. Considering how dangerous these dragons are, well, I think most sane people would give that a second thought.

Bulgarian female dragons, the Lamia (Lamya) & Khala (Hala) are powerful water creatures with little love for mankind and his settlements. The Lamia can stop the flow of water in a well or stream, or dry up lakes and cause drought. She can also create storms and pummel the fields with hail.

If your Zmey isn’t strong enough to defeat her then a sacrifice to her might ease her temper. I have not found any documentation yet that the Lamia has the power of invisibility like her male counterpart, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past her.

Lamias have been described in many different ways in many different regions. They all seem to be quite individualistic.

Various Lamia descriptions include:

  • 3 to 9 heads (Sometimes dog heads)
  • Long tail of a snake
  • Enormous
  • A large enough mouth to swallow a man whole
  • Sharp teeth
  • Yellow scales
  • Sharp-nailed legs (quadrupeds)
  • Wings
  • Snake-like
  • And of course the ability to shape-shift

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Zmey and Lamia, male and female, fire and water, are locked in endless battle. I imagine that little dragons must come from somewhere so the conflict might be a little over-hyped.

Personally. I think powerful female figures can be intimidating in some cultures. In a more enlightened time perhaps there are reformed Lamia wandering among us and equally liberated Zmey who are no longer constrained by the notions of the past.

There is far more Bulgarian myth than I can share in a year. The richness of the tales and culture are staggering and well-worth exploring.

I leave you with another Bulgarian saying

 “Work like you’re going to live for 100 years, but live like you’ll die tomorrow.”

 ~ lisa

 In my opinion one of the best sites for an overall accounting of Bulgarian Mythology. http://www.spellintime.fsnet.co.uk/Folklore_Section_Background.htm

Bulgaria Superstitions and Folklore http://www.bestcountryreports.com/Soci_Bulgaria_Superstitions_Folklore.php

Bulgarian creation myth http://www.spellintime.fsnet.co.uk/Folklore_Section_Background.htm

BulgarianRiddles:

1. As small as walnuts, they sit in a low place, but they reach to the sky.

2. What is the sweetest and the bitterest thing in the world?

3. A world without people Cities without houses Forests without trees And seas without water.

Answers:

  1. The eyes

2. The tongue

3. A map

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Bengal Cat Pictures, Bengal Cats, Cat Convos, Rainbow Hill Meanders

Cat Convos: Secrets

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Loki: I’ll tell you a secret.

Kuri: Don’t, you’ll get us in trouble.

Me: Is it an important secret?

Hiyu: Yes, and we really can’t wait to tell you.

Me: Okay…

Loki: Keep the feather stick moving and we’ll tell you everything.

Hiyu: We’ve been practicing secret cat ninja skills.160728-SX50-7722

Me: I thought all cats were ninjas.

Hiyu: True, but we decided we had to be more versatile to be a Cat Emergency Response Team.

Loki: I’ve secretly been watching dog shows.

Kuri: I’ve taught Hiyu and Loki how to make shoes disappear. If you stick your head in a shoe far enough, you  can walk it under some furniture. It drives humans nuts.160604-6D-1308

Me: You mean my friends?

Hiyu: I’ve taught Kuri and Loki how to open cupboards and how to hide in the highest places.

Me: So all three of you now know how to open cupboards?

Kuri: And sliding doors.

Me: Loki?loki 1 30 14

Loki: (feather in mouth) mmmph?

Me: What skill have you taught?

Kuri collides with Loki and the feather jumps back in the air. Hiyu, who’s been waiting for his chance takes it down.

170722-SX50-5247Loki: I’m working on door knobs. I have the mechanics of it down. I’m still figuring out how to hook my paws around the knob to get a good turn out of it.

Hiyu: You almost did it.

Kuri: And once we can open all the doors, we can go anywhere and use our secret cat powers for the good of the world. 

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Me: I think– (mid-air collision between Kuri and Loki. Hiyu jumps on his throne and laughs at them.)

Loki: Can we have dinner now?

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Me: Yes.

I don’t tell them that I know the secret of locks and keys. ~lisa

 

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Monday Myth, Mythology, Rainbow Hill Meanders, Rainbows

Monday Myth: Rainbows

The true harvest of my life is intangible – a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched.” – Henry David Thoreau

Rainbows are the sun’s rays refracted or reflected by rain or mist into an arc of color. These rainbow arcs always have their colors in the same sequence: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

A well-known English Mnemonic is “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain” and the less interesting American English of “ROY G BIV”.

Languages all around the world have their own mnemonics for remembering the order of colors in the rainbow.

I recommend this site not only for its great information on all aspects of rainbows, but also for the best exploration of the global range of mnemonics for remembering rainbow color order. http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol6/rainbow.htm

Rainbows come many different guises under many different names:
Twinned Rainbow, Double Rainbow, Primary Rainbow, Secondary Rainbow, Tertiary Rainbow, Quaternary rainbows, Alexander’s Band, Higher-order Rainbows, A Supernumerary Rainbow—also known as a Stacker Rainbow, Reflected Rainbow, Reflection Rainbow, Monochrome Rainbow, Moonbows, Fogbow, Spraybow, and Glory, etc.

Rainbow mythology is rich and replete with more stories than I can incorporate into in one post. I will eventually get to all of them in future posts.

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There are very few cultures that do not have a rainbow in their mythology. I’m still looking to see if I can find one that has a mythology lacking in some sort of rainbow. Please tell me, which mythologies do not have rainbows?

Due to the popularity of the Marvel Thor movies, the Norse Bifrost (Rainbow Bridge) is probably the third most-known rainbow mythology after that of Noah and the Ark and the Irish tales of a leprechauns and pots of gold.

Some translations of the “The Epic of Gilgamesh” describe the rainbow’s mass of colors as a divine sanction for war and a rainbow crown was worn by the Sumerian god Ninurta.

Persian mythology uses rainbows for divination.

In Greek Mythology, Iris who is a messenger of the gods dresses in rainbow hues.

Australian Aboriginal mythology focuses on the Rainbow Serpent. In Japan the rainbow also represents snakes.

In Arabian mythology the rainbow is a bow for Quzah, an Arabian god of weather. The Hindu god Indra also uses the rainbow as a bow.

rainbowIn Bhuddism the rainbow is just one step below Nirvana.

For the Karens in Burma, the rainbow is a demon that eats children.

For the romantics in the crowd, Chinese folklore has star-crossed lovers waiting for the rainbow to shine so they can be together.

My favorite so far is Bulgarian legend in which you will change genders if you walk under a rainbow. I think that may be worthy of a story or two. http://bnr.bg/en/post/100151281/the-rainbow-bulgarian-legends-and-beliefs

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou

~lisa

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Bengal Cat Pictures, Rainbow Hill Meanders

We’re Back

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It has been quite a while since the last post. I apologize for the longer than expected sabbatical. I’ve been exploring, training, certifying and in general meandering down many neglected roads.

20140412_230320000_iOSThe Bengal trio will have quite a bit to say about this on Friday.

Monday we will revisit rainbow mythology.

Wednesday, we’ll return to talking about writing and the new fabulous group I’ve found called Writers for Diversity. Founder Eliana West is a true inspiration to me.

Meanwhile, here’s a hint of things to come:

~Lisa

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