Let us be clear about the Grannies. We are totally non-violent, believe in only peaceful protest (with lots of laughter), work for the ‘many not the few’ (motto of the old Mechanics’ Institute) and see our work as the spreading green branches of a great tree, rising up to provide shelter and nourishment for those who will come after us.
Grannies are best equipped to make public, corrupt things that have been hidden (often for profit). Local toxic waste sites that no-one seems prepared to tackle, asbestos sites employing young people desperate for work, nuclear waste products being dumped outside an uninformed small town, laws that affect an entire community, passed quickly with no opportunity for study. The list goes on.
Grannies always check their facts before acting, discarding rumours, conspiracy theories and the agendas of others. They wait patiently till the whole picture is clear before hitting the street with their pointed, original and devastating songs, written by any old gran who feels inspired.
The delights of grannying include: dressing like innocent little old ladies so we can get close to our ‘target’, writing songs from old favourites that skewer modern wrongs, satirizing evil-doing in public and getting everyone singing about it, watching a wrong back down and turn tail and run, sharing a history with other women who know who they are and what they’re about. Grannying is the least understood yet most powerful weapon we have. Sometimes, looking back, we can see grannying was the only thing that could have met the need.
From the most ancient times, the strong, wise, older women were the ones who advised, mediated and fought for what was right. Belief in the Disir or Divine Grandmothers, the Mothers of Time, is ancient and runs through all societies. The Celts listened to their older spokeswomen since they believe that Kali-The-Crone had the power to create their mountain ranges. The Malay thought there were three grandmothers, the Kari-Under-The-Earth who would cause floods if not listened to respectfully. There were the Druids who believed that the souls of old wise women lived on in the trees that surrounded them. The Norse Nanna or Anna doubled as Earth Mother. And on this Turtle Island where we live (North America), the Iroquois teach that the Woman who fell down from the sky was the Mother of All. So their older women are the clan mothers who guide all decisions.
What an inheritance. And what a history of trouble-raising when not listened to. Even in our times, we grannies have raised a few mountains, caused a few floods.
What do you need to be a granny? A sense of humour and an ability both to be objective and to compromise when working with others. Willingness to make noise. An open heart to learn something new. No singing ability. Passion. Joy. Delight. No colour sense, obviously. A friendly disposition. Kindness. Scientific curiosity can’t hurt. Maybe a sense of history and our place in it. There is so much more to be written on being a granny by those yet to come.
— Rose DeShaw, Kingston Raging Grannies
And the Japanese version here: