HAZEL WARD BACKSTORY
Hazel Ward was previously known as Tom Ward. You will find some archival writings authored by Tom. Hazel has been showing up since the 1990’s but mostly in local contexts. Tom Ward remains a brand name, familiar to old friends and family, recognized by the state. Hazel goes by a whole basket of pronouns, but identifies as fifth gender, working with women and familiar with women’s work, but also competent in men’s skills. Hazel’s favorite pronoun is the Quaker traditional plain-speech “Friend”.
Hazel has had the good fortune to be raised up with both women’s and men’s skill sets. In the context of village and Quaker culture, they learned from Grandfather Ted Fish to garden and work wood, from father Tom who taught extreme discipline and electrical wiring, and through training and experience facilitated by the Boy Scouts of America. Continue Reading. .
Three summers working in a brutal heavy-metal pigment factory in Glens Falls taught hard labor, stamina under stress, and eventually injured the lower back. Decades of yoga fixed that and moving to the west coast taught herbal medicine and organic farm-direct eating.
Hazel learned house holding from mother Trudy who kept a strict clean home with lots of chores, food processing, cooking, hand crafts, music, reading, and seasonal rituals, until she became disabled when Hazel was 11. As the oldest child, Hazel was bonded to Trudy and helped out with shopping, budgeting, health care, meals, and house keeping coordination. Dad Tom had several part time jobs as well as working full time at the pigment factory. Dad entered cognitive decline in his mid-fifties and Grandpa Ted in his early fifties, most likely from lead and other heavy-metals exposure. Hazel is a high functioning survivor.
An International Harvester truck named Beulah carried Hazel and friends all over the continent and up and down the west coast for over three decades. Beulah taught mechanics, with five engine-maintenance rebuilds and endless repairs and tinkering. After being blacklisted in the seventies by government and academia, elders in Berkeley Friends Meeting advised having construction and repair skills as a way to be paid cash and manage to survive as a conscientious outlaw. Hired off the street to teach at Laney College, and struggling to establish legitimacy with the state, through the teachers union, Hazel was saved from nearly terminal despair, and found a way to interface with the empire while building a counter culture.
The back to the land communes, healing fairs, farmers markets, natural foods stores, free clinics, organic farms, and culture building conferences, taught social progress, business organization, non-profit web building, publishing, presenting and media skills. Thus Hazel has learned by the seat of the pants and the lap of the skirt to fix things, build, cooperate, survive, and serve within the vision of a new way of acting ecologically and culturally, appropriate to the goals of earth and social repair. Hazel appreciates all the help and collectivism that guided and built the ways of Ecotopian culture.
With all this intersectional experience came lots of resistance and challenge from the dominant empire and from the social chaos of changing times and ideas. With this learned wide skill set, Hazel has managed to thrive and be productive in very diverse cultural assignments and in teaching and mentoring generations of progressive social-change artists and activists. We Ecotopians have built real alternatives to the imminent collapse of industrial consumerism and extractive ecocide. Hazel has immense gratitude for all the lessons and stretches that life has presented.