Home Grown, Guest Post: Jagati Olson

Scan_20140203 (4)Today’s guest post is from a good friend of mine, Jagati Olson.  She’s from my hometown of Seattle (Go Hawks!).  I’ve known her since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until India, years later that we realized we were traveling the same path.  She is a woman of the people, known for her life-long, dedicated community service, and I am proud to have her here with us today.

Home Grown 

Thank God, the Black community raised me
Gave me a steel-rod backbone
A strength so deep, so steady
Can’t nothing destroy my spirit.

Lula Belle Carmack, poised in her bleached apron
Regal on her spotless Yesler Terrace floor
Giving guidance to a motherless child
About how to use suffering as fertilizer

Thank God, the Filipino community nurtured me
Filled my belly and warmed my veins
With lumpia and chicken adobo
Evidence of love and family devotion

The Salvadors, Cordovas and Batayolas
Big, loving Filipino families
Church of Immaculate Conception
Lighting the dark alleys at home

Thank God, the Irish nuns educated me
Soaked my head, thirsty like a sponge
With elevating concepts and noble principles
Giving me a path to a wide world

Sister Mora Noreen, standing up to Mother Superior
To keep this tattered ten year old
Whose family didn’t pay tuition
Who just showed up after a 3-month disappearance

Gracias Dios, the Latino community adopted me
Fused my head and heart with the fire of revolution
History and economic analysis married music and poetry
Blazing my cause in a grand design

Roberto Maestas, Tyree Scott, Bernie Whitebear
A school building takeover
Marches for Indian fishing rights and union jobs
Trips to Cuba and Nicaragua Libre

Thank the Great Spirit, Native Americans grounded me
Planted my feet in the Earth herself
Sweat lodges purged my pores
Of ancient fears past and future
Beaver Chief and Vi Hilbert
Kayak journeys to misty wooded islands
Orca dream visits and my own whale rattle
Put my ego in its proper place
Beneath Eagle, Orca, and Grandmother Cedar

Who am I?
A spark molded
In a particular place at a particular time
Home grown in Seattle
This sacred land of Chief Sealth



website2Jagati Olson works to include multi-cultural and low income folks in affairs that effect their lives.  She runs a business, Emerging Design Consulting, supporting diverse nonprofits and people to build community, equity and justice.




featured image of Mt Ranier via www.therainiervalley.com

About the author

I am a King without a Kingdom, in a world with many masters, wrapped in the spoils of a jealous heart, and my people’s callous laughter.


  1. Beautiful poem Jagati…..and so powerful. I appreciate the opportunity to learn so much more about you and your history.

  2. You’ve given a heart warming description of so many communities. Your poem brings out the reassuring message that there’s kindness everywhere in the world.

  3. What a beautiful poem this is….you are very fortunate to have had so many wonderful influences in your life to help make you who you are today!

  4. “Put my ego in its proper place
    Beneath Eagle, Orca, and Grandmother Cedar”

    This really stood out to me. Air, sea, land. More people (myself included) ought to be more reverent.

    1. thanks for all your appreciative comments. Life is so rich, all around us…Thanks Jack for your insight…I hadn’t even realized that – eagle, orca, cedar – air, sea, land. Our lives are all a grand pattern, we just have to step back far enough to see the beautiful design!

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