Drugs, Sex, Race, and White Privilege: Teens Speak with Teen Talking Circles

Hello TTC Friends,

We’ve begun a series of interviews with teens, starting with two volunteers in our predominantly white community who answered questions we posed to them concerning drug use in high school, racism, sexism, white privilege, and their experience as teens in 2017 in a US dominated by a Donald Trump presidency. Stay tuned for diverse teen perspectives over the next few months as we delve into the topics that matter. Please feel free to share our blog on FB or with young people in your life and anyone who works with youth

Our mission has always been to educate and empower young people. This year, Teen Talking Circles is 24 years old. We are honored to begin the process of supporting TTC to be an adult in the world, so to speak, and will be re-visioning  in conjunction with a new youth advisory board, board of directors, group of advisors and leadership. I’m delighted to announce that Jeny Rae Vidal has joined me to administer TTC. Along with our board and advisors, Jeny Rae will play a vital role in ushering in a new generation of facilitators and youth as we craft a renewed vision, mission, and strategy moving forward.

Before we get into the interview, please take note that a TTC Facilitator’s Training is online for registration. If you have wanted to join us we have space for 10 people and scholarship funds to offset the cost — especially for folks working with groups of refugee, immigrant, and/or marginalized youth. Check our training site and get in touch if we can help you come.  ttcsummer2017.eventbrite.com

Our first interview is with a young man named Derek (not his real name), from Kitsap County in the Pacific Northwest.


Derek Interview: 1/31/17

D: My name is Derek. I am 16 and a junior in high school. I like baseball. I like playing guitar. I like spending time with my friends. Typical teenager things. I would say I’ve had a diverse upbringing — moved around a lot and lived in a lot of different places, met a lot of different people, experienced a lot of different communities. I’ve lived in the South of the US, and also in California, and now I live in the Pacific Northwest – one of the liberal parts of the Pacific Northwest.

TTC: What’s your take away from living in so different communities?

D: I think I have a better time transitioning between groups of people than others, just because I’ve done it my entire life.

TTC: So now you’re here in the PNW, going to a pretty liberal school. What’s it like for teenagers here?

D: Pretty good. It depends on who you are as a person. It’s a pretty accepting community of everybody’s differences. I can’t really tell you if it’s better or worse here but I would say that the general consensus is that there is a lot of partying and stuff that goes on here.

TTC: What do you mean?

D: A lot of kids here are into heavier drug use and drinking and stuff like that — even at school. Also, some groups of parents party and stuff, too. This community has a small town vibe but the reality is we’re less than a 20 minute boat ride from Seattle, which means that if you’re trying to get some coke it’s not that far away or hard to get. For kids further up the peninsula like in Port Townsend it’s a lot harder to get that kind of stuff. My experience is that teens can do a lot more at young ages here than most kids from small towns in other parts of America.

TTC: What kind of substances and drugs are kids doing here?

D: Pot and alcohol are as common as they always have been. Beyond that, I would say pills; a lot of pill usage –anything that can give you a good time – Oxy, Adderall, all the Adderall types, Vyvanse, Ritalin, Vicodin, and other pills that teens steal from their parents. Lots of kids use them at finals times. Also, there are recreational drugs like Molly, which is MDMA. I can’t actually say that I’ve ever met anyone whose done heroin though, but definitely coke — but I think coke is kind of outdated at this point. Acid is definitely a big thing, and ‘shrooms – those are two really big things.

TTC: Are the administrators of your school aware of all this?

D: Our vice-principle is in denial about drug at our high school. He sent out a bunch of emails so far this year saying that we don’t have a ton of problems. He thinks only about 1/10th of the student body has experimented with substances. I thought to myself, “You are shitting yourself if you actually think that!”


National Statistics based on 2014 Monitoring the Future Study. The Monitoring the Future Study has been funded under a series of research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a part of the National Institutes of Health. MTF is conducted at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

TTC: The same thing happened in your school with the book I co-authored about teen girls and the issues they deal with. One of the administrators had the book banned from the campus library saying she didn’t know any girls like the ones in our book! 90% of the girls who told their stories in that book were from that school!


Daughters of the Moon, Sisters of the Sun written by K. Wind Hughes and Linda Wolf banned by campus library because the administration “didn’t know any girls like that”.

D: Well, of course, they aren’t going to know. Why would anyone tell them? The way school administration works is that it’s not like there’s a counselor you can go to talk to confidentially. So why would they know of anyone like that? Their approach is bad; they are really militant and authoritarian. Our vice-principle and some of the counselors have been in the military. That’s just not a good approach to have to help form young adults. Since they’re in denial, it makes the cases that do come forward seem more extreme and then they’re more extreme when they have to be disciplinarians.

TTC: What would you like to see from adults in positions of power?

D: People you can relay your problems to if you feel the need to, so that you can have a back and forth conversation rather than, “You’re doing this wrong and this wrong.” Even if you went in to talk to the principle, he’d be able to say “I understand, I drank in high school also…” But, it’s not the way the school system is set up. The administration is set up so you can’t relate to them at all and thus they can’t relate to you.

TTC: So having something like Teen Talking Circles is still very, very unusual and needed.

D: Yes, it’s needed. The good thing is that it gives you a place to come and talk and have a back and forth with other people about your problems and you can relate to each other. The bad thing is that it won’t have an impact on the larger system you have to live in — only on the way you’re relating to people. Because you still have to go back to the other “world.”


Teen Talking Circles — Seattle Girls Group 2016

TTC: Yes, that’s true, but by practicing other ways of being heard and hearing yourself that changes you – and you then carry back into your other world a different expectation of how you can relate with adults and peers. When you change, you change everything around you. Why do you think so many teens do so many substances? Just for fun, or other reasons?

D: Different things apply to different people. For a lot of kids here there’s a work hard/play hard kind of mentality where it’s like they have to do really good at school—they’re under so much pressure because their parents are really successful so it’s what’s expected of them –but they also party really hard. They party a ton. Also, you have people that either their parents are wealthy or they have a comfortable lifestyle so they don’t really have repercussions in life, so they just don’t really care. They just do what they do and party and stuff. And they don’t really care about school or anything like that because they will probably be fine in life no matter what. They can get a job at their dads company or something after they graduate. And then there’s a big group of people that don’t do any substances –they just do good in school — but I would say that’s only about a third to a fourth of the school’s population. Most teens do experiment with substance use because that’s just what we do. Then, there are kids who do have legitimate problems. They do drugs and drink because that’s their way of coping with stuff.

TTC: Do you know any other ways in which ways young people are coping? Are there kids you know who are not coping and who may be suicidal?

D: Oh yeah, totally. I don’t know in terms of other ways of coping, but I think that there are people who make it through and the people who don’t. Some just do better in society. I just think that there are a lot of really depressed people, especially in this part of the country. Just the weather makes it depressing—there are definitely are a lot more depressed people here than other places. So yes, depression and suicide is higher here.

TTC: But, do you ever hear any kids talk about committing suicide?

D: No, not in a serious manner, no.

TTC: Have you ever known anybody in school who has committed suicide? Or attempted.

D: (Hesitates) Yes. There was a kid in another school near by who died this summer. He did acid then went home and shot himself. But I don’t know if I would call that suicide, honestly. Yes, he did kill himself but he was tripping on acid – he wasn’t thinking clearly… The kids I know who knew him said he wasn’t somebody who would ever have done that.

TTC: Do you know girls who are harming themselves through cutting, over or under eating, or sexually putting themselves in situations that cause them pain?

D: I don’t know any girls anymore that cut. I think that’s kind of a middle school thing. I don’t think there’s a ton of people who have legitimate eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia but there’s a lot of stuff that people do related to body image that is unhealthy –like extreme dieting. Not like, “I’m going to quit eating corn syrup” but like avoiding eating altogether and stuff like that – not true anorexia but close. I know one chick that does laxatives so that it just passes through.

TTC: So pressure on girls to be thin?

D: I wouldn’t say pressure; it’s more their own personal thing, it’s what they think. Nobody is saying, “You’re fat! Go throw up in the bathroom.” It’s their own image of themselves. No one else is imposing on them.

TTC: Except it’s still the model of beauty for girls and women, to be thin; although there is quite a movement these days against such a narrow, old fashioned, and hurtful idea of beauty. Do you think there still a stereotypic “beautiful person” that makes one person more popular than another?

D: I don’t know what I would define as beautiful. If you’re talking about beauty being skinny people, I don’t know if I would describe that as beautiful. People are very fit here in this community, which means that the ones that are not as fit as the others stand out. It’s kind of weird to see a truly overweight person in this community; whereas in other places in the Midwest or the South, the majority over there are overweight people.

TTC: What about racism? Do you see racist behaviors in your school?

D: I don’t know if I would say that there’s any true racism. There are people making stupid, ignorant comments but its kind of tongue in cheek — it’s not done in a hurtful and mean manner. I think we have a very inclusive community for all races and sexual identities. We are used to a certain amount of political correctness here. Like, if somebody hears a Jew joke, they’d just be kind of like shocked. I mean come on, it’s not a good thing but it’s not something to raise all hell about, you know what I mean?

TTC: You said that if somebody said a Jew joke it would be no big deal?

D: No it would be a big deal because people are so shocked by something like that here because every thing is so politically correct!

TTC: In this community and at your high school there isn’t much diversity? The statistics I got from your school came out to be 80% Caucasian. The Suquamish reservation is right near you but there are only 0.6% Native Americans and about only 3% blacks in your high school.

D: I don’t think that it shows our community is discriminatory or anything; that just shows that not a ton of black people live here and not a ton of Native American people live here. Whether that’s because of where they’re at financially, which is a huge part of it, or whether or not they would like to live here, who knows? I would not say that there’s a ton of white people here because there’s a ton of discrimination. I would say that it’s just because there’s white people that already live here they’re gonna have kids, and the kids are going to stay here or move back here after college. It’s just kind of the community. I think that also this type of community is more attractive to hippie-esque white people because it is such a liberal community.

TTC: I’m surprised you don’t know more about the history and legacy of racism and how it plays out in the culture? Racism and white privilege permeates all aspects of our lives and communities. Have you ever heard of institutionalized racism? Have you ever considered how white privilege fits into the reality of ongoing institutionalized racism?

Seattle Times put together a great project called “Under Our Skin” which has incredible videos intended to get the conversation started… Check it out!

D: Well, I think you have poor white people, poor black people, poor Native Americans, poor Asians – in every race you have poor people. I don’t think whether or not they move up in life you can attribute that to racism. Maybe in a different era, like the 1820s, where there were plantations where black people were slaves and stuff, yes, that is racism. In modern society whether or not somebody moves up in society and can afford to live here or something like that is kind of dependent on how they do in life, not the color of their skin or what their background is or religious views or anything.

TTC: Actually, all that has everything to do with racism, sexism, and religious intolerance over the history of this country. Do you have any friends of color? Do you have a diverse group of friends?

D: Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t say so diverse. I have a few friends that are black. I have a few friends that are Asian. I have a few friends that are Native American.

TTC: Have you ever asked them how it feels to be in their skin?

D: No. I mean I have never asked my friends out right. Personally, I think if we focus on racism or focus on sexism we can protest that, yeah, for sure. But, like, when you watch a commercial and you see that the commercial has made it a point to have a black dude, an Asian, and a bunch of every nationality just to come off as politically correct, I think they’re making too big a deal of it. Whereas, if we didn’t focus on it, it wouldn’t really be such a big problem. Diversity is good and we should show where it fits. But, there’s no need for every single kid to be diverse in a commercial — that’s not necessary for us to be a perfect liberal society.

TTC: Are you politically aware of what’s going on in the past couple of weeks with the recent immigration ban? If so, how is that hitting you?

D: It’s depressing, as far as “Chumps” ban on people flying in from the Middle East. There are people with legitimate reasons and rights to be here and people who are refugees and immigrant families. I mean, they have a total right to be here. Telling people they can’t come because they have a citizenship in a certain country, I think that’s wrong. It’s sad, but as a 16-year-old I try not to focus on it too much because I have a lot of other stuff going on in my own life that impacts me. If I worried about political stuff all the time, I’d just be stressed out of my mind.

TTC: Would you consider yourself an activist? Do you believe in standing up, speaking out; in protesting, marching, that kind of thing?

D: No. I’ll stand by my beliefs but I feel no need to go out and display them. I see the necessity for it in certain time periods, like women’s suffrage and the MLK rallies, but no, there hasn’t been something that has me out protesting.

TTC: Do you have any idea what might draw you out?

D: Human rights stuff that goes on near me because I can’t go to New York and occupy Wall Street because I have no means of getting there. If there is a clear, blatant, “this-is-just-wrong”, civil rights or human rights issue, I’d protest.

TTC: Will you participate in the Black Lives Matter March in Seattle this April?

D: Black Lives Matter is a very tumultuous group. I think the message is good but it’s how I was saying with the commercials. I’m not one of those people who say “all lives matter” even though I believe all lives do matter and black lives matter, as well. I think it’s another thing where the differentiation is harmful to society because when you put a label like that on something, it detracts from the true message of it, which is what they’re saying –that there’s a disparity of treatment between white people and black people in certain parts of society. I think that many of the people who are in the Black Lives Matter movement are racist themselves as well. You can be black and be racist. I think there are many who are racist towards white people and other ethnicities. I think a lot of people in Black Lives Matter are #1. Bandwagoning and #2, for a white kid to go to a Black Lives Matter rally is iffy because, depending on what part of the country you’re from it can be a very unsafe place any white person to be. Quite honestly, it’s not like the peaceful protest of MLK’s day. It’s more radical.

Seattle Times has put together an excellent compilation of videos meant to probe the deeper issues and complexities of language when we speak on issues of race and racism. We encourage you to click this link to learn more about everything from Political Correctness to Microaggression, All Lives Matter to Institutional Racism. #UnderOurSkin is a conversation starter. “For those who freeze up at the prospect of talking about race, we hope this project will help break the ice. For those who tend to take sides right away when the issue of race comes up, we hope Under Our Skin will challenge assumptions and build common ground.”

TTC: In MLK’s day, protests were not so peaceful. The recent Women’s March in Seattle, now that was peaceful! Even the police were out in the streets holding our signs with us. So what are your biggest concerns as a 16 year-old guy?

D: My biggest concern is how if I have a problem with someone, how it’s going to divide my group of friends. That’s one thing I worry about because I don’t like to see that. I want to continue to spend time with people who I want to spend time with.

TTC: So you’re biggest concerns are relational concerns? Are you a peace builder?

D: I don’t think I’m a piece builder or an antagonist but I think I have my moments when I’m really pissed off at people and then moments when I’m really nice to people. I think it varies by how I’m feeling.

TTC: How do you work out your feelings? Are you emotional?

D: I would say that I’m an angry person depending on who I’m interacting with. I probably take my anger out on my family and my closest friends the most — in my family, I take it out on my mother and my little brother.

It’s not like I’m going to like throw a chair at the wall. It’s more like I’m just angry and pissy and stuff. And it’s not just me choosing to be angry, it’s usually prompted by something. Like when my mom is being irrational about something… Like if she agreed to something earlier and she was totally fine with it and we talked about it and stuff and then she gets in a mood and changes her mind. That’s when I get really angry. Also, I think it’s just my family’s way. We can be very fast and we can be smart asses and fire back very quickly. That’s just how we do our thing. We escalate and it escalates until we have to be apart for a few hours.

TTC: How do you work things through?

D: Normally, we just kind of separate and a few hours later we come back. Depending on what it is, we both just come back and accept each other’s views or come to a conclusion. I can be very harsh. Especially with people who are not part of my family who talk shit to me, I can be harsh but 20 minutes later I’m like shit that was kind of mean. I can be negative at certain times.

TTC: Are you clear about your own sexuality?

D: I would say I’m attracted to whoever I’m attracted to. 99% of the time I am straight. I mean I’ll make out with a dude, I don’t give a fuck about that, but that’s about it

TTC: Have you been in love yet?

D: No, I have not.

TTC: Have you made love yet?

D: Oh, yeah.

TTC: But not with someone you are in love with?

D: No I actually haven’t dated anyone in my high school. Teens just do things. Like if you’re at a party, you’re like, “What’s up”? I don’t think sex is that big of a deal. It’s not like we schedule it; it’s just spontaneous. Yeah, it happens a lot in the community and has various times for me

TTC: Is it satisfying? Or are you missing something?

D: It kind of depends on the situation but I think sex is definitely different when you have some type of feelings for the other person other than just pure attraction.

TTC: Do you have any kind of sense about how you want your life to go? Do you imagine your future?

D: I hope I make it in something artistic because I really don’t want to just do a monotonous job. I’m saying this as a 16-year-old right now, but I feel like I would be more satisfied with working just a shitty job until I sell a painting for a quarter of a million dollars or something like that. I feel like I would be more satisfied working the drive-through at McDonald’s than accepting that I should probably go through a career in accounting or something like that. So yes, kind of, but not really. I don’t really have any vision for my life.


“When you understand money as YOUR life energy, the hours of your life you invest to put dollars in your wallet, you translate it into something knowable… and limited: the hours of your life.” Vicki Robin, Co-Author of Your Money or Your Life


TTC: Do you do well in school?

D: I do okay.

TTC: Okay enough to want to go on to study something?

D: Yeah, I don’t know what yet. I plan to figure it out when I get there. I know that that often backfires, but it’s all I got.

TTC wishes to thank Derek for being so honest and forthcoming about his experiences of high school and his teen years and for his willingness to share his views and opinions.


Bibi McGill Interview

Recently, Heather Wolf, Eric Kuhner and I visited Bibi at her home in Portland. She graciously spent a couple hours with us. This month, we’ll be sharing photos and the full interview. Until then, here is a sweet video of Bibi offering us a tea ceremony and speaking with us about her life as Beyonce’s guitarist and musical director – what she went through staying true to herself.

Stay tuned for the full interview and much much more from one of the most inspiring and inspired women in the world today… ms bibi mcgill. xo linda

PS – TTC’s annual Seattle fundraiser is happening October 16th. Save the date — more about this in our next post.

Bibi McGill shares her truth

Thanks to Audrey Lane for editing this portion of our interview with Bibi

Linda Wolf Interview with Warren Haynes

Warren Haynes cover.jpgPhoto: Linda Wolf 2016

An Interview with Warren Haynes

June 2016

In 1970, when I was 19, I was a member of the Joe Cocker Mad Dogs & Englishmen Tour as a photographer. JCMD&E was a two-month traveling circus of 45 young people: musicians, singers, girlfriends, roadies, a 5 person film crew, 2 official photographers, some children, a nanny and a dog! We traveled around on a private plane and played concerts in something like 50 states. The Tour is iconic — out of it came a documentary movie, a double album, the “JCMD&E Memory Book” I created last year, live albums, and many tribute concerts worldwide. The original Tour is considered by many to be one the top 10 R&R tours of all time. In fact, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi modeled their 12 piece band, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, after the JCMD&E Tour.

A couple years ago Derek (Trucks) and Susan (Tedeschi Trucks) got in touch with Joe about collaborating on a tribute to the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour. Joe was game, but sadly he died before it could happen. Not long after that, Derek, Susan and the band decided to go ahead with the tribute but to make it a  memorial concert to Joe and a reunion of us original members. The idea emerged to perform the show at the 2015 Lockn’ Festival in Virginia. Long story short I was contacted by the producers of the Lockn’ Festival as they began to seek out the original alumni and soon the majority of us still alive agreed to come reprise our roles from the Tour.

Leon Russell on piano; Chris Stainton on organ & piano; Space Choir members Rita Coolidge, Claudia Lennear, Daniel and Matt Moore, Bobby Jones, and Pamela Polland; Bobby Torres on Congas and me as official photographer. Besides the 12 members of Tedeschi Trucks, we were also joined by Dave Mason, Warren Haynes, Doyle Bramhall II, Chris Robinson, and a number of other well known musicians.  We all came together for 5 days to rehearse, hang out, perform and have a great time and that it was. Jesse Lauter and Jojo Pennebaker assembled a film crew to capture the whole thing and a documentary is in the works to come out next year about it all.


Warren Haynes with the Tedeschi Trucks Band – JCMD&E Tribute

In the months before we all congregated at Lockn’,  I started reading about the musicians who were going to join us on stage and one in particular stood out to me– Warren Haynes. From the get-go I wanted to meet Warren in particular and it struck me that he would make a great interview for this blog. I read about his life and discovered he’d grown up with brothers and his father but not his mom. I wondered how his life developed without a mother. I wondered if he had women in his life who were role models. At Lockn’, I mentioned the idea of interviewing him and he said he’d be glad to.  A few months later through his record label, Hard Head Management | Evil Teen Records, we set up the interview for March 28th in Seattle, where he was going to be playing at the Moore.

_DSC6208-EditI asked Audrey Lane, my TTC assistant and videographer  (Fem de Film), musician Zach Fleury, and my daughter, Heather Wolf to assist me. We arrived at the Moore just as sound check was happening and we set up our cameras in Warren’s dressing room. I thought the interview would last about 20 minutes but we ended up talking for well over an hour, and even that was not long enough.

Warren was exactly who I’d imagined him to be. Generous, warm, smart, funny, personal, and willing to reveal his authentic self. Warren is a multi-talented, openhearted person — a husband, father, brother,  musician, songwriter and producer who, for over two decades, has produced an annual Christmas concert in North Carolina in support of Habitat for Humanity.

Warren is considered one of the greatest guitarists in the world. He has been part of and/or has founded many famous bands including but not limited to The Allman Brothers Band, Les Claypool, Coheed and Cambria, Dave Matthews Band, The Dead, The Derek Trucks Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Dickey Betts Band, Gov’t Mule, Kevn Kinney, Phil Lesh and Friends, Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration and the list keeps growing. It was an honor that Warren allowed us to video a portion of his show, Ashes and Dust, and a delight to get to know such a special man.

For more information about upcoming shows and and Warren’s summer tours, check out warrenhaynes.net

PART 1 Video: https://vimeo.com/169013594

“I hate to think what my life would be without music…” Warren Haynes

Extras: More Q&A:

Linda: Why wasn’t your mother around after your parents divorced?

Warren: She met someone else and they fell in love. And they’re still together. My parents were like so many parents from that era; childhood sweethearts, known each other their entire lives. They were from the country in North Carolina and when you get married and are raising kids at such a young age you’re almost to kid yourself. They were 20 years old. The norm’s changed now. Now, people are choosing to have kids later, which I think it is a good thing. I had mine at 50, which I don’t necessarily recommend, but it worked out for me! Being 50 is a bit of a challenge because my son’s in the modern world and I tend to gravitate towards sealing myself off from the modern world but I can’t really do that.

Linda: They were practically teenagers themselves! As a teen did you do things that you regret?

Warren: Yeah, but I was not as wild-natured as a lot of my friends and it could’ve been a lot worse! But, I definitely experimented and did things that I regret, things many teens do. For example, I started drinking at an early age and now I don’t drink it all, but that’s what everybody who was cool was doing so that’s what I wanted to do.

PART 2 Video Interview: https://vimeo.com/169103163

As a musician you are as student for life… if you’re lucky to have something like music in your life there’s all these levels that you can explore. You can enjoy it on a fundamental, basic level where it is just about enjoyment or the other extreme is this enlightenment that you try to achieve a few times in your life and hopefully will be able to and everywhere in between. The only way to truly grasp the true power of music is through a lifetime of study and committing yourself to it.

Linda: Were you brought up religious?

Warren: We grew up Baptist but at some point it became less and less important. One of the things we learned in an unspoken way back then was that you don’t have to adhere to all the dogma and the fear factors that can be part of that whole scene.

Linda: Were your brothers musicians, also?

Warren: Both of my brothers are artists. One is a folk artist and the other is a wood carver. Both are very talented and were into music. My oldest brother plays a little bit but both my bothers have not only amazing taste in music but a great passion for music, which is where I got mine. When I was growing up my brothers had thousands of records I could go through, and that made a huge difference for me.

I lovingly referred to my brothers as the music police when I was growing up. They would say things like, “Don’t listen to that, listen to this — don’t waste your time with that –check this out.”

Because of my brothers, I was able to avoid getting trapped listening to what every other kid was listening to, all the trends of the day. I don’t mean to take away any value that trendy music may have, but in general trendiness is not something that helps shape or mold our personalities. Usually, it is highly marketed to us even if we don’t want it. Marketing can be highly manipulative. I understand that marketing is important but when you take something that someone inherently does not want or even like and repackage it to manipulate them to want it, it’s just wrong.


Zach Fleury, When you’re doing a show, how do you judge if it was a good night for you?

Warren: When it’s kind of effortless and I’m not struggling. There has to be a bit of a struggle but when everything I try seems to fall into place and I’m not having to fight too much that’s a good night for me, but I can’t imagine anyone walking off stage thinking they did absolutely the best they could ever do — I just don’t think that’s a possibility. Whoever the greatest guitar player in the world is walks off stage sometime saying, “Wow, I sucked tonight,” because that’s just the way it is. I think as people, we tend to only focus on what we did wrong and not what we did right. But I think that makes you better because it’s those people who were like, “Wow I’m great” that are not going to get any better, that are not going to peel off layers of discovery and find something new. I’ve had nights that I thought I played really good and somebody came up to me and said, “I’ve heard you better.” And there are times I’ve walked off stage thinking, “Wow, I didn’t do anything new tonight, I didn’t create anything that I haven’t been practicing my entire life, and somebody will come up to me and say, “That’s the best I’ve ever heard you play,” and it kind of freaks me out a little bit and eventually I realize it’s because everything I did was tried and true, it was all stuff that’s made the grade; that I’ve made as part of my vocabulary. I’m happy when I’m finding something new some new territory. That doesn’t mean someone listening is going to think that way.

The way all the projects that I’m involved with and the way I approach music is from a conversational standpoint and so the more conversational it is the more musical it is and the more dimensional it is, from my perspective. We always walk on stage and do something we call rumble where in a symphonic way we make little musical noises just to get our bearings — like a two minute improvisational thing that happens before the first song and on a good night the very beginning of that falls into place. The beautiful thing about playing with great musicians is that everybody’s listening so intently and that’s one of the hardest things for musicians to achieve; how to listen and perform at the same time; how to play what’s coming into your mind and also be influenced by what you’re hearing from across the stage coming from someone else.

I always tell people my favorite band is probably Miles Davis with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. That quintet. Everything they played sounded like a musical conversation and no one knew what they were going to play next until they heard what somebody else played and what they played was the response to that. That’s the most rewarding way to play music for me.

If you’re playing with the right musicians you can play forever. If you’re playing with the wrong musicians it’s over really quick and that’s just the way it is because what I’m playing depends completely on what I’m responding to.

It has to be an equal playing field onstage. When I joined the Allman Brothers in 1989, even though I wasn’t an original member and an equal member so to speak, musically we were all equal because we wanted the music to be the best it could it could and there had to be that quality on stage.

Linda: That’s one of the reasons why Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen was such a success. All of us, the kids, the nannies, the roadies, the friends, the girlfriends everybody, we were all treated as equals. And sometimes Leon would have the house lights turned up so that everybody would feel part of it all.

Warren: That opens up a whole other sense of a kind of communal connection it’s an energy you can tap into from a different source. That’s why I think trying to do as many different projects as I do has always worked for me because I learn from every experience. People ask me why do I do so many different projects and the reason why is so that I don’t get stagnate. Each project brings fresh energy.

Linda: Warren, we better let you go prepare for the concert! Thank you so much for taking so much time tonight.

Warren: We can do this again sometime, I really enjoyed it.


Ashes and Dust 2016

Other exciting news from TTC:

Upcoming Teen Talking Circle Facilitator’s Trainings:
August 25 – 28th in Oregon
September 22 – 25th on Bainbridge Island

TTC in Cuba with Taj Mahal

Stay tuned for our next blog interview with the legendary Jim Keltner





The Athena Award

Athena Award

In 1998, K. Wind Hughes and Linda Wolf received the Athena Award for Excellence in Mentoring  for their work with teen girls and for their book, Daughters of the Moon, Sisters of the Sun: Young Women & Mentors on the Transition to Womanhood. (website for the Athena Award)

The nonprofit they founded, Daughters Sisters Project, now known as Teen Talking Circles started in 1993 with the first Girl’s Talking Circle. Today, there are talking circles around the world. TTC has been a pioneer in the development of talking circles for teenagers.

This June, Linda Wolf will lead a 4-day training for new adults who would like to learn how to facilitate a talking circle. Scholarships are available and a hotel on Bainbridge Island has offered to donate a double occupancy room to help defray the costs for two people who would be traveling from out of town.

For more information go to the registration page and/or call 206.842.3000.

Imagine you had a safe space each week where you could speak your truth with a supportive group of friends without fear of judgment — where you could see how the issues you face are connected to global issues — where you could discover you are not alone — where you could see your gifts and feel your self-worth. Now, imagine you are 13 years old and have this in your life… This is what teen circles offer.

Check the TTC website to listen to teens talk about why circle is essential to their lives.

Free hotel room for TTC Facilitator Training

A quick jot to say that the TTC Facilitator Training has a couple scholarships and a free hotel room for 2 people coming from out of town. June 16 – 19th, Bainbridge Island.

Register and contact our office, info @ teen talking circles dot com and let us know you want the room. It’s a double, so you would be sharing it with another participant of the training.

We only do 1 training per year… If you’ve wanted to do the training, start a circle, have better relationships with teens, learn Compassionate Listening, be a mentor and be mentored in return; this is the time! And you can’t beat this offer!

Go here to register:  www.ttcsummer2016.eventbrite.comlinda and heather--3

International Women’s day Shout out!

i am woman

Look into our eyes: I AM A FULL WOMAN





Are you for or against us?

Are you in or are you out?

Feminists come inside all genders…


  • In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
  • In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’.
  • In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
  • In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

Violence and Young Women

  • Worldwide, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16.
  • An estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone.
  • The first sexual experience of some 30 percent of women was forced. The percentage is even higher among those who were under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation, with up to 45 percent reporting that the experience was forced.

Harmful Practices

  • Approximately 130 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
  • Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.3 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million). Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife.


  • Women and girls are 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually, with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation. Within countries, many more women and girls are trafficked, often for purposes of sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.
  • One study in Europe found that 60 percent of trafficked women had experienced physical and/or sexual violence before being trafficked, pointing to gender-based violence as a push factor in the trafficking of women.

Sexual Harassment

  • Between 40 and 50 percent of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.
  • Across Asia, studies in Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea show that 30 to 40 percent of women suffer workplace sexual harassment.
  • In Nairobi, 20 percent of women have been sexually harassed at work or school.
  • In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.

Rape in the context of Conflict

  • Conservative estimates suggest that 20,000 to 50,000 women were raped during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were targeted in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
  • Between 50,000 and 64,000 women in camps for internally displaced people in Sierra Leone were sexually assaulted by combatants between 1991 and 2001.
  • In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996: the actual numbers are believed to be far higher.

(The Facts: Violence Against Women & Millennium Development Goals (compiled by UNIFEM, 2010). Available in English, French and Spanish)

What are we living for? TTC Interview with Chiara Rose D’Angelo


Hey friends,

It’s about time for a new blog post interview. This one, long in coming, is with Chiara Rose D’Angelo, a youth activist I admire greatly. But before we get into it, you should know that we’ve scheduled our yearly Teen Talking Circle Facilitator’s Training. Check out the dates. Would love you to be there. The more circles we have going, the more youth will unlock their voices… And we need them unlocked!!! Youth activism comes from the discovery that we need not be diminished by our fears or issues, we are not alone, and we can empower each other to take action for what we care about. Upcoming TTC Training

I’ve always considered myself an activist. And an optimist. When faced with the shocking statistics, horrors, and dire consequences of our collective greed, lack of spiritual connection, global unconsciousness and self-centered aims I’m stricken, but my basic instinct is to be positive, imagine solutions, create something, and believe that we’re smart enough to figure this thing out. It’s people like Boyan Slat and Chiara Rose, two youth activists, who keep my spirits up.

Both Boyan and Chiara are great examples of what Joanna Macy, calls “The Great Turning.” The Great Turning is the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization. Joanna says the Great Turning is happening right now in three dimensions: Holding Actions, Analysis, and a Shift in Consciousness. Check out The Great Turning

If you look back at previous TTC interviews, you’ll read about photographer/filmmaker, Chris Jordan’s documentation of the albatrosses on Midway Island, dying en mass due to plastic consumption. Yes, the mothers feed the babies plastic. Boyan is a Dutch student who has come up with a brilliant concept as to how to clean up those garbage patches of plastic in the ocean and it seems it is working…


About Chiara Rose D’Angelo

Last summer, on May 22, 2015,  Chiara Rose D’Angelo attached herself to the chain of the anchor of the Arctic Challenger as it moored north of Seattle. The ship was among those that Royal Dutch Shell intended to use as they drilled for oil in the in the remote and dangerous Chukchi Sea, the Arctic Ocean, off northwestern Alaska. Chiara stayed up on the chain for 66 hours contributing to a wide-scale protest heard around the world, $hell No, a massive activist effort to call attention to the insanity of drilling for oil in the Arctic Reserve and produce actions to stop any vessels from getting up to Alaska. Thousands of kyactivists took to their kayaks to block Shell’s rigs from moving up the waterways. The idea was that if the vessels were detained Shell would lose the critical time (weather) window they needed to have the rigs in place before winter.

Chiara Rose, a 20-year-old student at Western Washington University, set out from Bellingham, Washington, in the dark of night. She paddled through choppy waves until she reached the anchor, and then jumped onto the chain. She fitted a hook through the links, dangled a harness down, and pulled herself up. “I thought to myself, ‘Oh my god, I actually did it!’” Rose said. “I’m actually on the chain!”

The guts it takes to do something like this is inspired and inspiring. It is a flagrant, empowered action that screams in the face of the powers that be, “NO, not in our names” – and a powerful, positive force that can only be spurred on by life affirming values.

In an interview with Yes Magazine Chiara described the physical effects of being strapped in a harness for three days and nights as, “Unbearable.” She said there were moments that helped push her through, like seeing her friends boating up with supplies for her or a school of fish underneath her feet. “I was on Lummi historic fishing grounds,” referring to a local Native American tribe. “Being on a toxic site that used to be such a thriving site, knowing that it would happen to the Arctic, helped me push through.”

Linda's shot

This was not the first mind-blowing act of heroism I’d seen Chiara do. A year earlier, in the pre-dawn hours of August 18th, 2014, she climbed 70 feet up to a platform, clandestinely built by friends of hers, and began a tree sit in protest to a controversial shopping development that would eliminate 800 trees in a forested area on her native Bainbridge Island. The aim of her tree sit was to create more time for the community to move into action and voice their opposition to the project. As more and more island residents learned of her action, a vigil formed at the base of the tree where one by one community members voiced reasoned arguments or simply anger and sadness at the idea of another shopping center on an island where there were already too many local vacant storefronts and no need for another pharmacy, let alone the proposed Walmarts.

Chiara eventually was convinced that she had accomplished her goal and descended two days later. The minute she came down armed officers hired by the developer, Visconti, cordoned off the site and began to bring in the bulldozers. In the months that followed, the shopping center was constructed and is finished now. One afternoon, just as the construction was coming to an end I noticed a captive deer running back and forth confused as to how to get out of the fence blocking off the construction site. Clearly, this animal’s habitat had been the forest that was no longer there.

My first interview with Chiara was directly after she came down from the tree sit in 2014. Let’s start there.

August 20, 2014:

L: Chiara, why did you climb that tree?

C: I wanted to create a platform for our community voices to be heard. I wanted to reawaken people’s sense that their own truth was more important than the truth that’s given to them to follow. I did the tree sit so that people could recognize that we are not the circumstances we are given, we are the vision we create.

L: You mean we are disempowered by the truth fed to us but empowered by having strong voices and speaking our own truth. I agree with that. How did it feel to be up in that tree and seeing everyone congregating below it? I was there in the morning but by afternoon it was a pretty big crowd. People taking the microphone and with each person speaking out it gave courage to others to come forward and express themselves.


C: All sorts of emotions came forward for me. It’s pretty incredible to be with those kind of trees that are slightly degraded in the sense that they have lots of invasive species at their trunks, but they’re still there, still vibrant, and have so much energy. And it was really great to see so many people on the ground coming and speaking and using the opportunity I created to let their voices be heard.

L: How does it feel to see those trees being cut down right now in front of you, just 3 days after you were sitting in one?

C: When I came back here and I first saw the trees being cut I started balling. It was really painful, and now it’s just another day. I think part of the reason I didn’t want to come back is because I’ve gotten numb to it. When things happen over and over again, it’s no longer painful. When you go to war, and you kill someone it’s probably traumatizing the first few times, but it begins to get more and more normalized. That’s what cutting trees is; it’s normalized for us. It’s really exhausting to think that’s the human condition — that’s what we’re up against — thinking all the things around us are so normal, when they’re not. This isn’t normal. This is pushing our lived environment to its max.


L: What prompted you to become a youth activist in the way that you are? What was the turning point?

C: At a young age I heard a story about a tribal nation in the Midwest that chains themselves to trees and that if their prayers are virtu

ous then they are released, and if they are not they are held forever. I realized that most of my prayers are virtuous; I just don’t ever actualize them. And at that point in time I was like, ‘alright, I’m going to go to school and be an oceanographer because my dream is to save the Puget Sound.’ I got two years into that plan and I realized I haven’t done anything, nothing; I’ve only contributed to harming something that I love so deeply. Eventually, it just clicked, and I started taking action. I really, really encourage people to think about what is that wish that you have, that one wish you could wish for that is not about yourself, but is about something you can see and feel and empathize with. What is that? Find it, and do something about it. Activate. That’s really where we need to go. That’s the path.

L: Do you ever feel hopeless?

C: Rarely. I’m not a big person on hope. Hope is too often something people proclaim and then not do anything about. But rarely do I feel hopeless. I have a lot of love. I used to feel hopeless, before I did things. But as a full-time activist it’s hard to feel hopeless these days. There are so many wins these days. A coal terminal in Boardman, Oregon just got shut down. Oregon is now coal terminal free. We have two left here in the Lummi Nation. Up in Bellingham, where I’m going to school right now, the Lummi say they are opposed to it, they are a sovereign nation, this has happened too many times, they’ve had their watershed destroyed too many times, and it is not happening. The chairman of the Lummi Nation just declared that. I am blessed to see so many wins. There is so much happening all the time. I am honored to be a part of these movements, because that is where the hope is. If people feel hopeless, it’s time to do something. Doing something is not a hopeless feeling – it’s the most hopeful feeling you’ll ever have.

L: What do you want young people to know?

C: What I want young people to know is the right now you have the most energy and power you’ll ever have, as far as being able to wake people up. You’ll never be able to touch peoples’ hearts as deeply as when you’re young. The wrong people might make fun of you, but the right people will have to open up and have to open their eyes. And if you start talking about your future and what you want in your future, there is something there that people can’t ignore anymore. It’s time that we all started speaking our truths, because we won’t be silenced anymore.


The next interview with Chiara took place a few months after her $hell No action. And it should be noted that Shell Oil pulled out of drilling in the Arctic – news we were all beyond relieved to hear! The official reason for pulling out was that Shell did not find enough oil once they put their drills down to assess to make the project viable.


L : You went through such an intense experience on that anchor? What was it like?

Chiara : Physically unbearable. It’s crazy because I’m telling it now as a story, but I still have the body memory of the unbearable fatigue and I can feel the stress points still where the harness was hitting me. The inability to move a muscle up there felt like I simply stuck in my body. But, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally, I was clear, full, and felt this infinite energy. So much was happening in the moment; everyone wanting to talk to me – the Coast Guard, reporters, family… What was amazing was how clear my words were and how in even all of that pain and stress and intensity, I was able to speak so clearly.

The first two nights another protester came up and sleep underneath me. He was in a much more uncomfortable situation than I was in. His presence was so helpful in calming me. I had someone to talk to. But I didn’t sleep. There was no sense of night; the Coast Guard had their lights shining on us all night long and the chain felt so cold and sterile. Spiritually, I could feel everybody’s support, as if they were right there saying, “Go Chiara!” So, I didn’t feel so alone. Then, there was these floods of moments where people boated out to me, to drop off gear, food and water.

During the day I could see my friend’s sailboat on the horizon with a banner saying, “75% chance of spill, WTF?!”, and that was just like this beaming light of truth which I could hold onto. Every time I spoke with my mom and she told me that everyone was supporting me, I felt so blessed.

Right: Debra D’Angelo (Chiara’s mom)

L : So, Miss Chiara, what’s life like now?

Chiara : Interesting…. It’s a mix between my desire to find community and normalize and keep working to protect waterways. I started my activism at sixteen; I was eighteen at the tree sit. When I was in high school, I thought I could either wait to start being active; go through college and then get a job doing something good, or just start now. I decided to start in high school. The more I did, the more I realized that the youth voice has this different kind of power — this potent truth. When you’re really young and you know what you believe in, people listen.

L : So, now what?

Chiara : I’m going be down to Evergreen College to study about women’s indigenous work and the untold stories of indigenous women fighting for justice. I’m going to be immersed in a very serious and rigorous classroom program, which is what I’m looking for, with people that take it seriously. Then I’m heading back to Fairhaven College. I feel set and on path. I’m going to spend the summer advocating for the Salish Sea Marine Sanctuary, which would designate the Salish Sea as a protected zone. This would create an agreement between Washington, British Columbia, and the 200 plus coastal Salish tribes to bring animal populations back up to 50% of historic levels and restore the ecosystem so that it actually functions.


L : As an activist you have to learn facts and face so many tragic realities. What do you do with your grief?

Chiara : I feel it.

L : Do you ever get just despondent – feel things are just futile?

Chiara : I get angry, but I’m getting pretty skillful at making action happen out of grief and going through the process. Joanna Macy has this really beautiful thing she calls The Spiral. (http://www.joannamacy.net/theworkthatreconnects/the-wtr-spiral.html) It is about four successive stages or movements that feed into each other — opening to gratitude, owning our pain for the world, seeing with new eyes, and just going forth. I have my own spiral, my own process. It hits me in a big wave. I feel the pain for the earth and I hold it and I know it, I don’t run away from it. I feel the grief in my body and then go and connect to what is beautiful about the earth and allow it to inspire me. Once I feel inspired, visions of what I can do come and once I have a vision I jump into it. I like to joke, when I go for swims in the Salish sea, I know it’s toxic, but I swim in it knowing it’s toxic. I feel the grief about that but my process brings me back to action.

Chiara: I have a question for you, Linda. How do you hold space so sacred? When I’m with you I just feel the good vibrations. How do you hold that?

L : I don’t know. I don’t try to do anything more than be authentic and be as kind as possible. I do my best to listen to my intuition and follow her lead! I am still learning to set boundaries and strike a balance for myself in every way. I’m very sensitive to vibrations around me. I play life by ear and think musically.

Chiara : How do you go about setting those boundaries?

L : I just energetically do my best to honor myself and my space. I’m an only child and most likely that helps and hinders me at the same time. When I was young, I didn’t listen enough to myself and learned from very uncomfortable feelings that I did not enjoy going along with things if I didn’t jibe with them…I also experienced early the rewards of being an activist and standing up for what matters to me. It helped that I was part of a strong 1960s movement as an activist. Strength in numbers so to speak. So, I’ve developed a strong response mechanism that reminds me to follow my feelings. If I don’t feel it, I excuse myself, or I speak my mind and usually that ends the conversation. Boundaries can be achieved gracefully – they also can be created with an energetic that causes broken relationships – so one has to choose the consequences one can imagine.

Chiara : How do you hold that? I come from a long line of women that were mistreated, so there’s this sense that just historically that’s the energy that I come from.

L : If you mean that you have patterns stemming from your family constellation, I know what you mean. That’s also a big part of my work to be more empowered. I felt “less-than” (others) when I was a teenager. Less pretty, less popular, less important, less liked… it stemmed from being different, feeling different, not being able to go along with the statis quo. I was very angry with the world of adults. They were in the dark ages and I was bursting at the seams. It was the beginning of a groundswell of change. When I discovered other people who felt like I did it was such a relief. Knowing I was not alone gave me the fuel to come out more and more – and of course, it was happening for a lot of people back then… it was the beginning of the realization of a generation gap, which was more like a generation paradigm shift. We were leaving the 1950s behind. LSD blew the lid off. Music also blew the lid off. Protest blew the lid off. With LSD people used to say it was like forcing the pedals of the flower to open rather than with meditation allow them to open organically and naturally. LSD and meditation were coupled for a good while, and yoga became popular in the West. It was almost like transform or die! I think my generation is the ageless generation in so many ways. I think what happened in the 1960s in terms of my solidifying my values and what I fight for, believe in, stand up for is the same now as then.

Today, the way I continue my personal transformation process is much gentler and slower and more basic. To encourage myself not to revert back to unkind ways of treating myself, I have a morning ritual. It’s very simple: I go to the sink in the bathroom, turn on the hot water and put a washcloth in the sink. Then I look up at myself and talk to myself as if I was just meeting a friend who had spent the night. I smile at myself and say with authentic loving feelings, “Good morning, Linda. I love you.“ If my monkey mind starts saying, “My God, you’re looking so old and wrinkled?” I push the thought away and smile at myself and say something like, “Linda, you are so beautiful. You are so talented. You’re doing great. Keep going, I’m with you all the way.” I want to speak to myself in the morning the same way I would speak to a child I was greeting first thing in the morning. I wouldn’t do it thinking judgmental thoughts, thus sending out downer vibes! I’d do it with love and positive regard. So, I give that to myself. It helps me start the day off knowing it is about uplifting my soul and spirit and hopefully, I remember to keep that attitude throughout the day. It is the only way I can contribute my best to the world and the only way I can trust I’ll treat others with the same love and respect. Doesn’t always work. I can fall into self-denigrating thoughts that stem from my family constellation, or get frustrated, tired, at the end of my rope and lose it –but essentially, I really do love life and people –and as long as I don’t allow myself to buy into any of the very misguided messages that we older women are over the hill, I’m fine. In fact, we older women are changing the world! And younger women, and feminists and activists and educators and spiritual guides… we are simply NOT alone!!!


Thank you Chiara, for your generosity and your deep love of life. Thank you for putting yourself on the line and for your strength and conviction. I love having you in my life!

February 15, 2016. Addendum:

Chiara is currently in school and will graduate this Spring with a degree in Ethno-Ecological Justice and is working on preparing for her hearing for her $20,000 dollars in fines she received from the US Coast Guard.