Preamble We are the SOIL Sisters. From the SOIL we rise. To the SOIL we will return. In the meantime, let’s get dirty! SOIL Sisters’ Vision We are an order of 21st Century drag clown nuns who serve the queer community and beyond. We take our name from the land around us—that is, the soil beneath our feet and also the acronym for “Southern Illinois.” In doing so, we mark ourselves as a regional house, not tied to any one city but operating within an interconnected web of many small towns and communities. We recognize that such conditions present their own challenges to queer and minority identities. We acknowledge that not all such identities “escape” to a city; many stay closer to home and struggle to live their authentic lives in smaller, often insulated communities. We locate our work in the place we come from, honoring its history and the challenges of its current conditions. This is where we are planted; this is where we give our labor to acts of service for others. We dare to imagine our region as a network of communities, large and small, caring for and accepting one another, seeing everyone as valid, necessary, and loved. Dirtiest Hoes’ Mission We celebrate the joy of getting dirty while tending our fields. We understand the ground beneath our feet is an economic and spiritual base. From agriculture to mining, our rural communities have grown by getting down in the dirt. And so, we take on two symbols of our connection to this region: the farmer’s hoe and the miner’s hat. We also recognize that dirt is often treated as a metaphor for shame and guilt. We ain’t having none of that! We expiate guilt and shame in all its forms. In tending our fields, we dig deep and turn the soil. We sow seeds of joy wherever we go. We offer service to our community in the form of charitable acts and educational efforts. We fight the blight of stigma and shame. We see our queer visibility, like flowers in the field, as brightening up the place and offering a ministry of presence so that others may bloom with us. We know that we grow and flourish when our communities grow and flourish. Our work is for our communities, not for personal advancement or resume building.
Sacred Heartland Diversity A region’s health is represented by its diversity just as soil is more sustained by biodiversity than monocultures. The Sacred Heartland is, likewise, made up of diverse populations. Tending the sacred heart means opening it to beautiful difference and advocating for the most vulnerable among us. We are a region of many races, many immigrants, many ethnicities, many sexualities, many genders, many abilities, many socio-economic classes, many traditions. They haven’t always gotten along very well. Our land is soaked in the blood of transgressions and oppressions, from genocide to gang violence to enslaved labor to forced removal. Our land is also marked by awareness of this past and makes constant efforts to move beyond it, to heal old wounds and lift people up. We commit ourselves to care for one another; indeed, this is the best way to expiate guilt and spread lasting joy! Part of opening our hearts to diversity is recognizing we do not and cannot do this work alone. We are proud to join with other organizations doing similar work, including: Rainbow Café, Equality Illinois, The Southern Illinois University LGBTQ Resource Center, Metro East Pride of Southwestern Illinois, The Center for Empowerment and Justice, The Carbondale Warming Center, and hopefully many, many more.