Category Archives: Practical Steps

Five minute reflection on “me and white supremacy” by Layla Saad Germantown Mennonite Church, May 2, 2021

One of the problems of white supremacy culture is that the culture centers on white people, and sees things through only white people’s eyes, for the benefit of white people.

As I worked with creating a 5-minute talk about Layla Saad’s book, me and white supremacy, I had a good talk written and ready to go. Practiced, re-written, honed. but it didn’t sit right.

Good story. All about what I had learned, how I had grown, the significance to me of facing hard questions, not only looking at white supremacy culture, but also looking at how facing white supremacy was helping me with other challenges in my life.

It was all about me.

I had to toss it.

This reflection is not as put together, but here are some points from Layla Saad’s book.

First: we can’t do this right. Do it anyway.  You’re going to make mistakes. Make them. Learn, and start again.

Second: this is not easy, and if you can walk away from facing white supremacy culture, and you can take a break from racism, you will be compelled to do so. When that happens, and you take a break, start again.

Third: where is your learning sweet spot? I like numbers, so a 21-day challenge of reading or practicing a new pattern every day and logging it motivates me. But you might have a different motivation. Find your motivation for learning about white supremacy culture, and make a commitment to do so. We need good ancestors.

Fourth: Facing white supremacy culture is uncomfortable. Practice staying present in uncomfortable conversations. Stay present. Understand and unpack your discomfort. The goal is to stop harming black and brown people.

Fifth: Imagine walking in another’s shoes.   I can’t tell you disclosing stories about the racially diverse situations that I’m in, so let’s look at publicly written work. Austin Channing Brown wrote a book called “I’m still here”. She writes about her experiences as a black woman within a white culture dominated evangelical church. When she describes meetings that harm and isolate her, I can see myself sitting in those same meetings, unaware that what is going on is harmful.

Arundhati Roy says
“The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”

Austin concludes her book by saying she doesn’t have hope, but she is living in the shadow of hope. This is helpful to me, not only in the realm of dismantling white supremacy, but in other areas of my life where I can’t see hope.

I’ll accept that as I’m attempting to center on black and brown people, I’m failing. I keep circling back to me.  

Focusing back on Layla Saad’s book, clearly, I’m working on stepping into difficult topics and conversations. I’m also working on hearing correction without being defensive, and speaking out without first covering myself by getting someone else’s authority. In each of these healthier patterns, I’m vulnerable, I’m exposed.

Of course, I’m having a repetitive naked dream. In the dream I’m going about my business, shopping, driving, walking in a crowd, and I’m naked. And you know what? No one cares. It’s not about me. I don’t need to be hidden and falsely protected. I am in own my skin.

Thanks for listening.

lit prayer candle

Black Lives Matter

Listen in on Dottie’s interview on Planet Philadelphia’s Radio Show that was aired on June 19th: “Racism and the Environment”.

Black lives matter.

Say the names of black people who have been recently killed:  Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade.

Demonstration in Mt. Airy; Photo by Anya Rose
Demonstration in Mt. Airy; Photo by Anya Rose
Front step vigil this week.

Don’t stop there. Commit to making changes, in ourselves, in social settings, in organized settings, and in the systems that we work in, live in, and are governed by.

As I’m writing this, I’m aware that I’m speaking to myself as much as I am speaking to you. I own my hesitancy, my inadequacies, my hiding. And I’m stepping in. I’m committing to doing better.

If you say, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to start”, you are avoiding responsibility and you have not been listening. Pick a resource to read, and start the work.  I’m not an expert. I’m stepping into the conversation because I must.

There are three areas of change that are on my mind: personal change, policing, and systemic change.

Personal Change: I know this is hard. Don’t look away, and don’t stop. You know where you are in this path. Step in. Take the next step.

There are many resources for doing the work of facing racism. Find them. One place to start is

The recent book that I’m working through a second time is Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. Her approach is invitational: be a good ancestor. Her work is spiritual-based, but not exclusive. Lacking melanin or blessed with melanin, you can read her book and grow.

Policing: Black people are dying at the hands of police. Don’t argue the nuances to this. Don’t look away. There are changes that must happen. Researched, vetted changes are voiced by Campaign Zero and by the demands of the NAACP. Police decisions are made mostly at the local level. So, where I live, the township is the place to raise the topic, and insist that the police make structural and training changes.

Systemic Change: I’m working in environmental and educational fields. People of color are underrepresented. This has been shown to be a problem of white supremacy, not a problem black people need to solve. White people need to make the changes. The system has to change.

One organization that has started researched and targeted work on changing barriers to people of color in the workforce is the National Science Foundation. Their program GOLD-EN identified the systemic and cultural barriers to people of color, and set up four funded projects to address the systemic problem. I can’t tell you that this is the way to go, but I can tell you that there are models to research and learn from, and this is one of them.

One of many murals in Philadelphia celebrating its community life

Are things in turmoil right now? Yes. Am I very sad? Yes. Do I have hope? Yes. Change is hard, and change is life-long, and change is generational.

An image that is meaningful to me is one that Valarie Kaur put forth a couple of years ago. If you are in despair, consider that maybe we are not in the darkness of the tomb, but we are in the darkness of the womb. What are women told when they are birthing a child into the world?



In order for our society to be fair and equitable, the systems that protect white culture have to dramatically change, and stop protecting white people at the expense and cost to everyone else.

This is hard. This is necessary.



Love to you all. Dottie

Watershed Education, Science Enrichment and Birthday Parties

SC-thumbAs the Fall season of 2010 is starting, consider your sustainable choices, and your connections to your community.

Increase to two best habits, and let two unsustainable habits fall by the wayside. For instance, I’m choosing to drink more water, eat more vegetarian meals, eat less sugar and to connect face-to-face rather than only over the internet.

I’m excited to hear that more municipalities are recycling plastics #3 to #7, as well as #1 and #2.

I discovered that shredded paper is not helpful to the recycling process, so I’m considering increasing the amount of craft paper that I make in order to use the shredded paper we produce. Another option is to add the shredded paper to our compost.

My work as a consultant to the Philadelphia Water Department is extremely exciting and rewarding. The enviroscape watershed model is a great stimulus for watershed information. At public events (see the calendar) and with classes at schools, the visual polluting of the water is dramatic.

My frequent talking points are:

  • rainwater goes down storm drains on the street,
  • pick up after your dog,
  • clean land makes clean water.

There are multiple free educational opportunities via the Philadelphia Water Department. Contact me if you want to increase your school’s watershed education, either in the classroom or with field trips to PWD locations.

Sustainable Choices is also expanding in other ways. The Montessori School (TMS) in Dresher, PA  is increasing outdoor explorations of their property, and the township park beside TMS with be provided with consulting services and education. The House at Pooh Corner is increasing science exploration in its preschool class.  Both schools are excellent matches between my skills and their specific requests. The opportunity to work with exceptional teachers who want support in developing their scientific skills is also very rewarding.

The third area of expansion and exploration with Sustainable Choices is with Birthday Parties or “one time” events. I look forward to a fall birthday party this coming weekend, and wonder how to expand this potential educational opportunity. What a joy it is to encourage appropriate nature exploration in local parks.

It’s going to be a great year!