HOPE IS A GIFT WE GIVE TO OURSELVES

Dear Friends and Followers,

You may note that I am re-posting a blog from last summer. It was written as I doggedly moved ahead after my soulmate’s death, despite my pain and grieving. Today, I revisit the joy of hope because I know that each of us are responsible for creating our own inner peace and caring for ourselves. Today, I am taking a break from my book’s very successful first marketing run.  Now, it is time to step back and heal. I will be taking a health break to have some treatment, which I will follow-up by taking a vacation to spend time with my grandchildren. I am as enthused as ever about making my book, WHAT MY LEFT HAND IS DOING: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist, available to you.

You can find it here:

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist by Joann Castle is  available for order on line at Amazon.com and The Seattle Book Company. Also available in Detroit at SOURCE BooksellersPages Bookshop and Bookbeat in Oak Park. In Seattle, at Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company and Left Bank Books on Pike Street, across from Pike Place Market. Ask your local book seller to order it from Ingram.

 

RE-POST: HOPE IS A GIFT WE GIVE TO OURSELVES

As I opened my eyes this morning, I reminded myself that 2017, the worst year of my life, is over. The year that I lost my husband, my lover and my best friend has past. It is time for me to create a new life, a fulfilling life as a tribute to the love we shared.

I am embarking on the final steps in my first endeavor as an author. I began today, to type in the data that will lead my book to the printer. My book unfolded with Mike’s encouragement and support. “It is important,” he continued to remind me, “that you share your journey with others.”

But I was tired from being a care-giver for so many years. I had worked hard on the book, but the continued demand to be his health-care partner was taking a toll. “It’s just too much,” I told him. “Soon I will be sick too.”

“Don’t give up,” he admonished, “young women need your story. They need to see your passion to help them learn and grow and become all that they can be. They need to know how you conquered so many challenges that they face every day. You must finish.”

The last evening of his life, I fell exhausted in the chair across from him after a 3-hour phone conference with my production team. “I can’t.” I mumbled, “They are asking too much.”

“Relax for a bit,” was his response. “It’s going to be okay. Get some sleep and I will help you in the morning.” But morning wasn’t going to come for Mike. During the night, he went to a better place, free from pain and the ravages of heart failure.

Pushing myself to continue the work became both joyful, as I indulged in the story of our two lives together, and a curse because all I wanted to do was to grieve. Yet, timelines and what I owed the production team demanded that I work and his voice was prodding me on. What could I do but finish?

Family Train FranceI am filled with hope in this new year that has been given to me. Soon, Mike’s dream that my book will be available to others will become a reality. So, piece by piece, I doggedly finish the final tasks to upload my book to the printer.

Each step I complete is a tribute to our love and to all that Mike taught me about dignity and humanity. I have glimpsed the heart and soul of the struggle of an African-American man who was born and raised on a Mississippi sharecropper’s plantation and rose to his heights in the powerful black worker’s movement arising in Detroit during the late 60s and early 70s.

My life with Mike has changed me and my conception of the world around me. I hope in some way, there between the pages of my book, that I have conveyed the depth of my new understanding in a way that is palatable and inspiring to my readers.

Soon, my book saga will end and you will find it on local bookstore shelves or on the pages of Amazon. Please celebrate with me and share in my new beginnings. THANK YOU FOR READING.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: LESSONS FROM A GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST by Joann Castle, is now published. Do you have your copy?

IN THE FALL OF 2018, I will be available for book talks, book clubs and promotional activities. I already have some things scheduled which I will share with you when I return. In the meantime, take your people power to the polls. ” VOTE IN YOUR PRIMARIES. We can make change from the ground up.

 

AMERICA FIRST (IN POVERTY)

Joann Castle | 0616/18

A Report from People’s Action, 6/11/18:  “A new U.N. report says the United States has the highest income inequality of all Western nations. On the 50th anniversary of the death of Robert F. Kennedy, we remember his words on the role of government in ending poverty.

I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil. Government belongs wherever evil needs an adversary and there are people in distress.” – Robert F. Kennedy.

“Today, 40 million Americans live in poverty; 13.3 million of these are children.”

THIS PAST SUNDAY MORNING, The Detroit Free Press, 7/10/18, ran a front page story by John Gallagher, on barriers to work for Detroit residents:  “In the city of Detroit, 53.4% of working-age residents aren’t even looking for a job…Detroit has the lowest workforce participation rate in the nation… a symptom of poverty and poor education attainment.”

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, second from left, and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, left, co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign.  (Photo/Mark Humphrey)

It’s not that there are no jobs, Gallagher says, but our disenfranchised communities of color do not have the education, the skills or adequate transportation to participate in the job market.  Sometimes it’s lack of child care or elder care. Sometimes young men have been incarcerated and employers are not willing to give them a second chance. Many of these folks want to work but they can’t get hired. There are many reasons for this disparity. Most are related to continuing racism in Metro Detroit, which hasn’t changed much in the last half-century.

Many folks are talking about Detroit’s rising but we need to look at the full picture including the impact of gentrification in poverty stricken communities. There is a greater disparity in wealth in our city now than there was in 1967, during a similar effort for urban renewal.  The outcome of that short-sighted change and the rebellious response by the black community caught many people by surprise, especially the mayor. I can’t imagine what the new welfare work requirement will do to folks who want to work but can’t get hired.

As citizens of privilege, who benefit from the services provided by our local government, we have an obligation to people in our communities to assure that essential services are available to those who are still fighting for full citizenship in our society.

In my new book, WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING, I analyze lessons learned from my early activism, consider our present conditions and seek to inspire young activists to get involved. “We live in the midst of a great struggle between those who control our resources and those who have essential needs but lack the power to attain them… From the ground up, we need to be an army at work demanding and participating in efforts to improve life in our neighborhoods.”

Lessons Learned from my book offer positive steps to improving your community:

Step 1: Get involved. You live there-take an active interest in your community. Understand the issues your neighbors are facing and stand up for those who are in need of support. Your community rises or falls in relation to the involvement of those who live or work there.

Step 2: Vote and encourage others to do so.  If your community wants power from the ground up, VOTE in the August primaries and the November midterms. Local election participation helps communities.

Step 3: Dialogue. Share your community building ideas with others in a newsletter or a blog. Perhaps your group can be a model for other communities to learn from. Protect your most vulnerable citizens.

Step 4: Coalition building. There is a critical need for coalition building across all strata of society, but none is more crucial than between different racial and ethnic communities. America is more segregated than in the 1960s. We’ve grown estranged from one another, making it all the easier for the things that divide us to settle into the gaps between us.

Step 5: Partner Up: Establish alliances with communities unlike yours and learn to understand each other. Many colleges, libraries, churches and cultural institutions offer opportunities to connect.

Step 6: Turn the Negative into a Positive: Stop complaining and focus on small things that can move your community forward.

If anyone would like to guest blog on my site to share positive things going on in your community, please reply at the top of this blog.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist by Joann Castle is  available for order on line at Amazon.com and The Seattle Book Company. Also available in Detroit at SOURCE BooksellersPages Bookshop and Bookbeat in Oak Park. In Seattle, at Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company and Left Bank Books on Pike Street, across from Pike Place Market. Ask your local book seller to order it from Ingram.

 

A WORD TO #ACTIVISTS EVERYWHERE: SAVE YOURSELF

Joann Castle, June 4, 2018

An Open Letter To: Parkland students, immigration advocates, busy mothers caring for their families, election hopefuls and the countless activists who give their hearts and souls to the struggle for a better world.

Is your passion for your cause thrusting you forward at a pace that is jeopardizing your physical and mental health? Are you crabby and irritable? Are you risking your health and/or compromising your ability to achieve the outcomes you desire for the cause that you care so deeply about?

The following quote is from the “Activist’s Survival Guide,” in my book, which was released in May, 2018.  It is one of eleven lessons learned from my experience in 50 years of activism.

ACTIVISTS, SAVE YOURSELF: “While sacrifice is an unavoidable part of being an activist, you’re no good to your cause if you’re irritable or ill. Eat right. Sleep enough, Stay positive. Recognize your abilities and limitations, and choose your role accordingly. Remain physically and emotionally refreshed with periodic down-time. Avoid time-wasting conflict and negative people.”  – Joann Castle, Author: WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist.

I’ve been rushing headlong for six years, caring for my husband and after his passing, passionately driving myself to finish my book. I thought that a finished book would bring some relief but instead, I moved headlong into intense marketing of my product without missing a beat. When spring came around, I found myself working day and night, while I watched the long-awaited summer unfold from the window behind my computer.

Last week, it occurred to me that I was ignoring what it took me a whole life to learn. I decided to schedule a break and take my own advice about finding balance.

Here is how I spent my weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

My fellow activists, what are you doing to save yourself?

Please share your suggestions by clicking on “Reply” on this website.  We can learn from each other.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING:Lessons from a Grassroots Activist by Joann Castle is  available for order on line at Amazon.com and The Seattle Book Company. Also available in Detroit at SOURCE BooksellersPages Bookshop and Bookbeat in Oak Park. In Seattle, at Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company and Left Bank Books on Pike Street, across from Pike Place Market. Ask your local book seller to order it from Ingram.

 

DETROIT CHURCH PROVIDES SANCTUARY TO IMMIGRANT FAMILIES SEEKING REFUGE FROM ICE

By Joann Castle: 5/26/2018

Central United Methodist Church in downtown Detroit, also known as “The Conscience of Detroit,” has a storied history of advocating for social justice.

Pastor, Reverend Jill Zundal, has recently succeeded the most Reverend Ed Rowe, who retired after thirty-seven years of dedicated service to the community. Today, the church continues in its activist role, providing sanctuary to families faced with deportation by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Perhaps you are a Mom and you are new to activism. You want to be involved but you don’t have much time. You can begin with small things like taking food to a sanctuary church or getting on the mailing list of local organizations that are doing work that you believe in. Stand up for people who are being treated unjustly and let your voice be heard. Give a few hours of your time to demonstrate at a rally. Write your congress person or join a discussion group to educate yourself on the issues. Follow your passion and you will find a spiritual depth that gives greater meaning to life and a better future for your children.

Last week, Reverend Jill led a 10-day, 90-mile march for justice from Detroit to Lansing, accompanied by advocates calling for immigrant rights. “This pilgrimage is about educating people about the broken immigration system,” Rev. Jill explained. Thank you, Rev. Jill, we need to know.

Central United Methodist Church also played a role in my activist history, a story that unfolds in my newly-released book: WHAT MY LEFT HAND IS DOING: Lessons from a Grass Roots Activist by Joann Castle.

My beautiful picture

Joann moderates the CCC book club.

Central United Methodist Church is the same Church that opened its doors to the Control, Conflict and Change (CCC) Book Club in 1970.

Mike Hamlin, a co-founder of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and Black Star Bookstore and I, one of the founding members of the Ad-Hoc Action Group against Police Brutality,

CCC Book Club Brochure
CCC Book Club brochure

conceived and organized a community-based book club aimed at liberals and progressives who were willing to work together with blacks in developing a revolutionary consciousness. We met monthly at Central United Methodist Church. Three-hundred and fifty people showed up for our first book club meeting. I was the moderator.

Read about our CCC Book Club experiences in Chapter 8, of my new book, which begins with a quote from Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING:Lessons from a Grassroots Activist by Joann Castle is  available for order on line at Amazon.com and The Seattle Book Company. Also available in Detroit at SOURCE Booksellers, Pages Bookshop and Bookbeat in Oak Park. In Seattle, at Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company and Left Bank Books on Pike Street, across from Pike Place Market.

Ask your favorite book store to order it from Ingram.

Thank you for reading.

BOOK RELEASE TODAY; NOW SHE’S YOURS

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist  by Joann Castle

Dear Book, Go forth and multiply. You leave me feeling like I’ve raised another offspring, sometimes joyfully and other times with much pain. But today, you are launched, baby. I’ve given you some of the best years of my life, now go into the world and make me proud. 

SOURCE 1 edited 042918. jpg (2) (1)

It’s been crazy this past week with two book signings, one at SOURCE Booksellers where Greg Hicks and I engaged in a community conversation about my book, and the other at Signature Grill in downtown Detroit. I also promoted my book at an author’s table at Preservation Detroit’s annual Authors Fair. Finally, last night, I was unexpectedly called to join a panel at the Hamtramck Free School, after a showing of the classic film, Finally Got the News. I was able to comment on the period when this film, about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers was made, and share why it is so important for white people to support the black freedom struggle. I was so pleased to see that the audience was made up of young people who are finding their way in the ongoing struggle for social justice.

SOURCE 3 042918Also happening:  My book was chosen to appear on the cover of the April 9th issue of Publishers Weekly magazine.  In addition, I received a rating of “It was amazing,” from a reviewer on goodreads.com, and at booklife.com, I received a rating of 10 out of 10 from a critic, reviewing for the annual BookLife Prize. Winners will be announced at the end of the year. This is a book you don’t want to miss.

This is just the beginning of my marketing campaign. I am available to speak at libraries and book clubs or your community events. Anyone interested can contact me through this website at   https://againstthetidebooks.com or by email at: joanncastle@againstthetide.com.

I have one more book signing scheduled on May 20th from 2:00 – 4:00 at Pages Bookshop, 19560 Grand River, Detroit, MI. I have asked my niece, Alena to speak with me and offer her view on my work from the perspective of a young person today.     

Books are available for order on line at Amazon.com and The Seattle Book Company. Also available locally at SOURCE Booksellers in Detroit, In Seattle, at Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company and Left Bank Books on Pike Street, across from Pike Place Market.

Ask your favorite book store to order it from Ingram.

LET’S CELEBRATE

I’m getting some great feedback from those who read pre-release copies. I am also celebrating that my book is featured on the cover of Publishers Weekly magazine, along with other independent authors. You don’t want to miss this. Here’s my schedule: Mark your calendars!

UPCOMING EVENTS:

My first book signing at Signature Grill Detroit

TOMORROW, Sunday, 4-29- 18 Author’s Fair, Preservation Detroit, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Jam Handy, 2900 East Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48202

TOMORROW, Sunday, 4-29- 18 SOURCE Booksellers, 4:00 PM. Book talk and conversation by author, Joann Castle with Greg Hicks. 4240 Cass Avenue, Suite 105, Detroit, MI 48201

Sunday, 5-20- 18 Family & Friends Book Signing, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM. Pages Bookshop, 19560 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48223

My book, WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: Lessons From a Grassroots Activist, by Joann Castle, will be released on May 1, 2018. You can pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or The Seattle Book Company… or better yet, you can pick it up at one of the events listed above.

Against the Tide Books
Personal Histories in the Struggle for Justice
http://www.againstthetidebooks.com
For more information: 313-701- 8872

MY BOOKS ARE HERE…

 

…and they are beautiful! What a joy after all these years of labor and learning on how to become a writer. The books are here because of Mike’s insistence that I finish, because I’m a Detroiter and Detroiters never quit, and because of my amazing editor and her design team from Maverick Books. And, of course, all the support and encouragement I received from my family and friends.

As I approach my September years, my memoir is my gift to young women and those young of heart, who are struggling to put their lives and daily experiences into perspective during this period of divisive politics and racial inequality. To older readers who have shared these years with me, I hope you find solace in the recalling the gains that we made for a better humanity in the social justice movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

I am excited about the book’s exclusive “Activist’s Survival Guide,” which offers a relevant, critical bridge between generations of world changers fighting for a better tomorrow. A condensed version of the guide is included on a removable postcard enclosed in the book.

I want to thank my developmental editor, Cheryl Woodruff for sticking with me and for challenging me to write dozens of topic essays and record those closed-eye descriptions of some of my moments of pain. I understand that this was necessary to bring substance to my writing and create a work that offers a deep experience for my readers.

I confess that I didn’t always agree and appreciate the feedback from my team. But, I have learned to listen and usually to comply with their input because I knew (and was sometimes reminded) that they were the ones with the expertise. I see now, how their influence added value to my work. As I peruse the final product, and experience the wondrous feel of the book in my hands, I am totally delighted. I hope you will be too.

My book is available for pre-order on Amazon and the Seattle Book Company. My sell-date is May 15, 2018. I am using this interim period for reviews. If you know anyone who might do a review, please contact me via this website. A press release is posted on my website media page.

I have several book signings coming up. I will list these on the Against the Tide Facebook page. Don’t forget to follow us.

My niece, Alena and me at Pages Bookshop.