Sunday, November 5, 2017

#172 Free speech?

Dear all,
    I continue to learn lessons around connection.  We’re taught that independence is the highest good, yet I’m coming to see that ignoring the help that would be available if only we chose to access it is a blindness we can ill afford.  In that spirit, I offer a resource and a request.  Here’s a link to the text of the talk I gave on Money and Soul to a group of Quakers in New Mexico in June: https://westernfriend.org/media/money-and-soul-unabridged (It’s long, but I can’t put my hands on the abridged version...)  And I continue to be heartened and inspired by all that is growing at the little urban farm I serve, but pretty concerned about our financial situation.  If you would like to join in that effort, you can learn more at: https://www.youcaring.com/millcreekfarm-954583.
    A friend reminded me on Thursday night to go out and take in the full moon—I’m thankful for both my friend and the moon.
Love,
Pamela
  


Free speech?

Heading to hearings at City Hall, I was disheartened.  A right wing state senator and candidate for governor had teamed up with an opportunistic local colleague to support a challenge to a tax our city had passed a year ago that cut into the profits of big soda.  The roster of speakers was overwhelmingly from Pepsi and Coke executives and the drivers and corner store owners they had mobilized.

I anticipated a long couple of hours listening to misrepresentation and one-sided testimony in the service of political ambition and corporate greed.  Riding up in the elevator with two working class drivers, I was torn, both imagining how pleased they would be with the outcome, and wishing for an opportunity to talk together and look for common ground.

I was surprised to see the big hearing room already packed, and by the look of their signs and t-shirts, many of those present were supporters of this tax and all the city services it promised to support.  A feisty City Council woman, who had applied to testify and been turned down, was holding forth in advance of the formal start.  At least my perspective was getting a little airtime.

Then, as the hour arrived, a great noise started—chants and noise-makers and applause.  Again surprised, I thought, well, this would equalize the sides a little, and make it easier to sit through the rest.

But it didn’t stop.  When the noisemakers slowed down, the chants picked up, then the applause, and then the noisemakers again.  I realized that the folks in this crowd weren’t just wanting to make sure their perspective was heard.  They intended to keep the hearings from happening altogether!

My first reaction was straight out of my quiet, polite training: this wasn’t very nice.  After all, everybody deserves to be heard, don’t they?

But as the noise continued, and the hearing didn’t start, there was plenty of time to reflect.  Why was this out-of-town state senator challenging the legitimate democratic process of our city?  His party holds power in the state and conveys a tone of open contempt for us and callous indifference to our needs.

They complain that we’re always looking for a handout.  But now, when we’ve taken the initiative to find our own sources of revenue to fund preschool and parks and libraries and recreation centers, they want to come in and tell us we can’t?

Does everybody always have an equal right to speak?  What about those who have easy access to power, those who are mouthpieces for big money, those who can buy elections and media outlets?  Is it okay for them to orchestrate an event where they are in charge of who speaks and whose voice is not heard?  What about those who have been disrespected and silenced?  Should they be always required to listen without protest?

What about those who have overstepped, and are trespassing?  Do they deserve our respectful attention?  One of the chants was “This is our house!”  And it’s true:  we were in the room where the laws are made for our city, the room where we had struggled all last spring, amid intense controversy, to come up with a tax plan that Council could approve.  These two men had not been invited, or even welcomed, by our City Council and Mayor.

The most moving moment for me came at the very end, long after the state senators had given up, packed their briefcases and left the room, when the noise had finally begun to die down, and that feisty little Councilwoman led a final chant:  “Whose city?”  “Our city!”  “Whose city?”  “Our city!”  While the tactic of shouting down the opposition may never be mine, I do claim this city as mine, as ours, and that cry went straight to my heart.






Spider webs


The spook factor in spider webs is
near invisibility
You come upon them unawares
and then are caught
in sticky filament—
Made powerless by thinnest threads.

The wonder of the spider is her patience
in the weaving of that web
so deadly and so delicate.

The mass of stuff we stretch
on Hallowe-en
in strings and ropes and wads
cannot compare—

No patient craftsmanship
no fear, no awe—
an insult to the spider,
and creation as a whole.






Imagine:  A New Economy is Possible!

Municipal broadband

In 2010, Chattanooga became the first city in the United States to be wired by a municipality for 1 gigabit-per-second fiber-optic Internet service. Five years later, the city began offering 10 gigabit-per-second service, which has attracted dozens of tech firms.

When the city’s municipal power company, EPB, set out in 2007 to modernize the city’s power grid, they realized they could lay every customer’s home for fiber-optic cable at the same time. Offering gigabit connections at $70 a month and providing discounts for low-income residents, EPB now serves about 82,000 people, more than half of the area’s Internet market. It’s been such a success that dozens of other towns and cities have begun their own municipal broadband networks, providing faster and cheaper service than private companies.

https://www.thenation.com/article/chattanooga-was-a-typical-post-industrial-city-then-it-began-offering-municipal-broadband/





Some things that have made me hopeful recently

All the young climate change leaders across East Asia http://world.350.org/east-asia/camp2017/?akid=25525.1048214.HL1uDB&rd=1&t=7

Peruvian beauty pageant contestants substituting facts about violence against women for their “measurements” http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/peru-contestants-stand-violence-women-article-1.3604307

The vote by the Philadelphia Board of Pensions to divest from private prisons, since the civil rights and safety of people held in these facilities is in conflict with a profit motive. http://www.pionline.com/article/20171027/ONLINE/171029836/philadelphia-board-of-pensions-votes-to-divest-from-private-prisons

The decision by France’s largest listed bank, BNP Paribas SA, to no longer finance shale or oil sands projects, or oil or gas projects in the Arctic region.  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bnp-paribas-to-stop-financing-shale-projects-2017-10-11






Money and Soul
A transcript of a keynote address I delivered at a Quaker conference in New Mexico, June 2017
https://westernfriend.org/media/money-and-soul-unabridged


Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
Check out this new book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.

The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
    • offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
    • frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
    • suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
    • invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?

To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.


More resources

www.findingsteadyground.org

Resource from my friend Daniel Hunter, Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow; An Organizing Guide.  http://www.danielhunter.org/books/building-movement-end-new-jim-crow-organizing-guide

Recent posts on other web/blog sites:

In http://www.classism.org/gifts-american-dream/, Pamela Haines locates her family's homey DIY celebrations on a class spectrum of different connections to upward mobility.

            http://www.transitionus.org/blog/unlikely-suspects-–-deep-outreach-diverse-initiating-groups-–-pace-building-trust

        http://www.classism.org/demolition-derby

Muscle Building for Peace and Justice; a Non-Violent Workout Routine for the 21st Century--an integration of much of my experience and thinking over the years:  https://www.trainingforchange.org/publications/muscle-building-peace-and-justice-nonviolent-workout-routine-21st-century (or just google the title)

faitheconomyecology.wordpress.com, a website that I've contributed to often (check the archives)

www.ourchildrenourselves.com, a home for all the parenting writing I've done over the past 20 years.  NOTE THE NEW URL. 


Pamela Haines
215-349-9428

To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.

www.pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com

#171 Blessings

Dear all,
It’s been wonderful to have some weekends this month at home and to feel more caught up with my life.  I continue to puzzle over the question of how to fully enjoy the goodness of small and close-in things, while not turning away from all the big hard things that surround us? I think the two are somehow connected, more intimately than we realize. So I wish you the joy of small things as well as courage for the big ones.
Love,
Pamela


Blessings

When our oldest son asked if we could take in a friend of his, it wasn’t hard to say yes.  Joel was from the South, separated from his family for some reason, and needing a place to land.  We had a room.  He was thoughtful, warm, hard-working, ready to please, and we just folded him into our household. It wasn’t long before he had been folded into our hearts as well.

I remember one time when he helped with a big physical job I had to complete.  I said, “Thank you, Joel.  You saved my life.”  He said, “Well, you saved mine.”  I was surprised.  I hadn’t thought of that before, but considered the possibility that it might be true.

As the years went by we got to know each other better.  He practiced peer listening with us and became more open to talking about his personal life and feelings, though we never heard the full story of why he left home. He went through the job and relationship ups and downs that you expect in young adult years.  After a while, he got a steady job and met a nice young woman; the pieces of his life seemed to be falling into place.

So when he started talking about going home to Birmingham, we were taken aback.  We loved him and wanted him to stay.  But he was ready to reconcile with his family and finish the degree he had started down there.  How could we not support him in those goals?

He stayed in touch, came up and visited during the holidays.  Sarah moved down to Alabama to be with him.  When we got the invitation to his wedding, we knew we would go.  This might be our final act of surrogate parenting, seeing him finally established in a life of his own.


When we called to check in about hotel arrangements and were invited by Joel to join the family for the rehearsal dinner, we started to realize that this wasn’t just another wedding.  A storm and rerouted flight kept us from the dinner, but the warmth with which we were welcomed at the wedding was astonishing. His mother was the first in a series of relatives to greet us, and we were thanked, again and again, for taking care of Joel.  His stepfather, his aunts and uncles, his godfather, the mothers of his high school buddies all were warm in their appreciation of what we had done for their boy, for their family.


We were invited to come back and visit, and could tell they meant it.  His great aunt from Mississippi said with great energy that “NOBODY would treat us better than they would” and I believe she was telling the truth.  It had seemed such a simple and ordinary thing to welcome Joel with an open heart.  But now that we were receiving an equally open-hearted welcome from his family, it seemed precious, amazing, even miraculous.

The blessings seem endless.  We were blessed to know Joel, then to receive back in kind from his family what we gave to him, learning to better value both the giving and the receiving.  We were blessed to be welcomed to the South by people who have felt the weight of oppression but have not been kept down.  We were blessed, after going down to Birmingham to honor one young man, to return with a whole new extended family in Alabama and Mississippi, blessed with another place to call home.




Anchored

Arriving alone in the big city
at nightfall
public transit to master
everything strange
no reference point
no anchor

And then
above towering cranes
that glowing crescent
known and loved--
my hometown moon.





Imagine:  A new economy is possible!
Solidarity economy production chain

Justa Trama, in Brazil, is the largest production chain of solidarity economy producers. Farmer associations grow organic cotton to sell to workers cooperatives that make threads and textiles. The worker cooperatives sell the threads and textiles to urban cooperatives that produce and sell clothes, dolls, and educational games with these inputs. Justa Trama comprises more than 600 workers in solidarity economy enterprises in five states in Brazil.
https://blogecosol.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/marc3adlia_justa_trama.pdf




Some things that have made me hopeful recently

The Scottish government has banned fracking after a consultation found overwhelming public opposition and little economic justification for the industry. The Scottish energy minister said that allowing fracking would undermine the government’s ambitions to deeply cut Scotland’s climate emissions, and would lead to unjustifiable environmental damage. 
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/03/scottish-government-bans-fracking-scotland-paul-wheelhouse

The state of New Jersey is replacing cash bail, which penalizes the poor, with a system of judging risk that lets many who are accused of low level crimes no longer languish in jail for months awaiting trial.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/30/new-jersey-bail-reform-criminal-justice-bond-money?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Sweden has the world’s first self-defined feminist foreign policy, which means that all of Sweden’s decision-making – from aid allocation to diplomacy – is informed by its vision for women’s empowerment. The approach is grounded in a wealth of research showing that the more equal a country is, the less likely it is to endure war, food insecurity or political and extremist violence.
https://apolitical.co/sweden-flies-flag-feminist-foreign-policy/

After the Canadian National Energy Board told TransCanada that their Energy East Project's environmental reviews would look at the total life cycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project--extracting, processing, transporting, refining, and burning fossil fuels--TransCanada scrapped plans to build a pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to the east coast of Canada.
https://thinkprogress.org/transcanada-scraps-energy-east-9d45aa211463/





Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
Check out this new book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.

The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
    • offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
    • frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
    • suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
    • invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?

To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.


More resources

www.findingsteadyground.org

Resource from my friend Daniel Hunter, Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow; An Organizing Guide.  http://www.danielhunter.org/books/building-movement-end-new-jim-crow-organizing-guide

Recent posts on other web/blog sites:

In http://www.classism.org/gifts-american-dream/, Pamela Haines locates her family's homey DIY celebrations on a class spectrum of different connections to upward mobility.

            http://www.transitionus.org/blog/unlikely-suspects-–-deep-outreach-diverse-initiating-groups-–-pace-building-trust

        http://www.classism.org/demolition-derby

Muscle Building for Peace and Justice; a Non-Violent Workout Routine for the 21st Century--an integration of much of my experience and thinking over the years:  https://www.trainingforchange.org/publications/muscle-building-peace-and-justice-nonviolent-workout-routine-21st-century (or just google the title)

faitheconomyecology.wordpress.com, a website that I've contributed to often (check the archives)

www.ourchildrenourselves.com, a home for all the parenting writing I've done over the past 20 years.  NOTE THE NEW URL.

Pamela Haines
215-349-9428

To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.

www.pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com





Tuesday, September 26, 2017

#170 Remembering

Dear all,
What a summer it has been!  Ten days in the Southwest at a conference I was asked to keynote, a week paddling in southern Ontario, a week in British Columbia with our youngest son and his family, a wedding in Alabama.  It feels like my mind, body and heart have all been challenged to their limits, and I've received many gifts as a result.  As the summer draws to a close, I'm hoping to not just get caught up in busyness, but to take time to treasure and build on those gifts.
Love,
Pamela




Remembering

What do you do when it’s too painful to remember what happened in the past?  You  forget.  And keeping things forgotten becomes an important part of your ongoing survival strategy.  If you can’t totally forget and can’t afford to remember, you blur the edges of that reality, or create an alternative story to fit in that space.  

What do we, as settlers, do about our history of extermination of native peoples?  We bury it as deep as we can in the past.  The most convenient story to tell ourselves is that it is over, that there is nobody left.  If we do sometimes come across the existence of native Americans in the present, we need to find boxes to put them in—poor Indians on the reservation whose poverty is somehow inevitable, or noble and wise indigenous elders whose purpose in life is to save us from ourselves.

For those who have borne the brunt of genocide, the forgetting strategies are different.  Alcohol is one.  Suicide is another.

Neither of these sets of strategies will move us forward.  The hard truth is that we have to remember.  And to gather the strength to do that, we need each other.  Those with a settler past need to find others with whom to look straight at our bloody history and face the grief of it.  Native peoples need to find others with whom to grieve genocide and reclaim their heritage and strength.  And we need to come to know each other as peers in the struggle to forge a path forward that includes us all. 

I spent five days in late July paddling down the Grand River in southern Ontario with members of the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora) and others of settler ancestry.  I’d like to contribute to the process of remembering by offering up a handful of real, live, ordinary, wonderful indigenous people whom I would never want to forget.

L. is passionate about healing.  She left a well-paying job to reinvigorate local healing rituals and seek out other healing knowledge to bring back to the community.  Her seventeen-year-old daughter was in the community smoke dance, first in a traditional women’s dance with beautiful shawls spread out like wings, then in the “switch” dance, where she took on a man’s costume and stomped and twirled.  L’s nine-year-old daughter is a fearless athlete who is very interested in traditional music; at the opening ceremony, she offered a water song in a clear confident voice.

J. is proud of her Oneida heritage and is learning the language from her grandfather as she tries to pursue a living via her art.  She got her traditional name from her great grandmother, and could have taken another name when she came of age, but is happy with the one she was given.  She loves to sing.

MD.’s eyes pierce and twinkle at the same time. Wearing a skull-cap with a few feathers hanging down the back, he leads us in a simple chant one morning as we launch, and offers traditional teaching in the closing ceremony.  He is passionate about inviting youth to outdoor challenges as a path to a healthier perspective on themselves and their world.

B. teaches social work at a university and has teamed up with a non-native colleague to explore the dynamics and impact of the Two Row paddle, through both their own relationship on the water and the experience of others.  She exudes an aura of warmth and calm, and is a strong traditional singer. On the water one afternoon as we raft up to wait for stragglers, she, MD, and J sing for us.

M is in her forties, with bright blue highlights in her hair.  When she offers the Thanksgiving address in Cayuga, she asks us to remember that she is just a beginner.  Since there are only about 100 native speakers left, she feels a sense of pressure to learn.  Now that her mother is sick, she is moving into the position of an elder, but is not sure that she is ready.  She laments the loss of three people to opioid overdoses and a suicide in the past week.

R. doesn’t have much to say, but he clearly knows what he’s doing with a canoe.  He paddles with three small children in the front, and I learn that he is their foster parent.  I know that he speaks Cayuga from the way he responds when M. gives the Thanksgiving address.

J. is a spirited young woman who got a tattoo of great eagle wings on her shoulders last year.  This year she shows us a new tattoo on her thigh with a quote from John Wayne, one of her favorites.  She is fierce about respecting people’s right to their own beliefs.  A hairdresser, she hears a lot at work.  When things get too negative, she says she inserts something positive—or even stupid—to change the tone.

BL. is serious when he gives the Thanksgiving address (in Mohawk), then cuts up on the water, joking and teasing.  A teacher on the reserve, he has to leave the paddle for a few days because his daughter has a health crisis and he needs to care for his three granddaughters.

K. recently got a job at a cultural center.  She offers a very competent PowerPoint presentation on the local residential school, then chokes up as she reads an old letter from a student about the horrors there.  She apologizes for her lack of professionalism.

G. talks about his eleven years in a residential school—how they were given numbers instead of names, were always hungry, worked hard on the farm, scrabbled through the dump for candy or canned goods, never got a sign of affection, were robbed of language, culture and ceremony.  He left hating everyone and everything and turned to alcohol.  It was only after many years that he decided to organize a reunion of residential school students and found his calling in supporting the healing of others.

A woman with a health job offers us a tasty breakfast one morning of white corn and berries.  She is interested in promoting the health benefits of traditional foods, and says that some farmers are now planting a few acres of white corn to give away to anyone who wants some.  A man who offers an evening presentation on native history in the area is clearly a gold mine of information about his people.  Six young men lead us one evening in social dancing, one explaining the dances, while the others demonstrate and sing, in an endearing combination of pride and embarrassment.

E., the center of our group, grew up on the river, and used to paddle to school because the bus took such a long time.  She taught special ed for many years, and seems to know everyone.  Slim and strong, she is a no-nonsense leader with a delightful sense of humor, and is openly moved by signs of community and hope for her people.





Imagine:  A New Economy Is Possible!
Financial transformation in Ecuador

From 2006 to 2016, Ecuador’s poverty rate declined by 38 percent and the rate of extreme poverty by 47 percent while inequality also decreased.  These gains are due in part to a set of reforms instituted by a new president who broke with mainstream economic thinking. Ecuador’s government under President Correa:
    • re-nationalized the central bank
    • redefined the financial sector to include popular and solidarity-based economies fueled by credit unions, cooperatives, and savings and loan associations.
    • declared its international bond debt "illegal" and refused to pay some $30 million in interest on the country’s remaining debt
    • taxed capital leaving the country and required banks to hold 45 percent of their liquid assets domestically.
These new revenues were used to increase the government’s monthly payouts to its most vulnerable populations. It also removed financial institutions’ charges on checking and savings accounts an lowered ATM fees, and made substantial investments in public education and health.
https://thenextsystem.org/learn/stories/ecuadors-citizen-revolution?mc_cid=91a4b26f85&mc_eid=b2f3d85ae2





Several things that have made me hopeful recently

Thoughtful new conversation in the US about the role of our historic statues and heroes—what they teach us about our past and our present, and there they belong.  I found the Mayor of New Orleans particularly eloquent:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/opinion/mitch-landrieus-speech-transcript.html

The Cape Town, South Africa, mayor’s announcement of the city’s commitment to divest from fossil fuel assets in favor of more sustainable investments.
http://350africa.org/cape-town-commits-to-divestment/

Thirty Portland-area churches that have pledged to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants As ICE increases its arrests.
http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/sanctuary/4-things-to-ask-yourself-before-offering-shelter-to-immigrants-facing-deportation-20170725

All the caring, compassion and generosity of neighbors and strangers that become so visible in times of tragedy.





Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
Check out this new book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.

The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
    • offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
    • frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
    • suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
    • invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?

To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Signs and symbols

As we all try to come to terms with what has happened in Charlottesville and its aftermath, I am heartened by the outpouring of sentiment from many places condemning violence and extremism.  Yet I am not quite at ease with the amount of attention that has been focused on signs and symbols.  Both are real and potent of course, but they’re not the whole story.

I feel like we’re looking for emotional shortcuts.  If we say the right things, and get others to say the right things, we’ll solve the problem.  If symbols of hatred are gone, the hatred will go with it.  It’s like skimming the surface of a very deep pool.

While I’m getting my mind around the importance of not having public spaces dominated by statues that glorify the Confederacy, I also think those of us who are not from the South are looking for shortcuts around our past.  I may be wrong, but I was taught that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man of his time, caught in the coils of history.  Was he that different from slaveholders Washington or Jefferson in that respect?  Frankly, I feel more affinity for him than for the Union Generals Philip Sheridan and William Tecumsah Sherman who pursued scorched earth tactics in the Shenandoah Valley and Georgia, starving civilians without compunction.  Somehow I doubt that Lee, were he here today, would choose the side of the violent and hate-filled young men who came to Charlottesville.  I’m not so sure about those two Union generals.

I see an unsettling tendency here to fall into the easy habit of blaming the South.  Can we really be so glib about the Civil War in assigning good guy and bad guy roles?  After all, Northern industrialists were the ones who ran the slave trade, and the ones who profited most from the plantation-based cotton industry.  While the racism in the North was—and still may be—more hidden, I don’t see any place for moral superiority.  With the South as a convenient target, supporting the removal of symbols of the Confederacy seems like another easy out for those in the North.


It’s like we’re glad for other people to be so much more racist that we can feel good about ourselves.  We can point a finger out and away, toward those others who are the “real problem”.  But I don’t think this is a time when any white folks can afford self-righteousness.  After all, overt acts of racism are only the tip of the iceberg.

And while silence would be complicity, condemning is a pretty easy thing to do.  It’s harder to understand the roots of extremism, to see those perpetrators in a continuum of humanity that includes us, to be not just offended but curious about such people.  Even harder is to help create the contexts in which those who are consumed by hatred can be changed.  There is some public conversation about who has set the political tone that encourages the flaunting of such hatred.  But what about these other hard questions?

Clearly there’s a fundamental difference in moral authority between those who would intimidate and those who would stand up to intimidation. But if our response to such people—whose platform centers on excising those whom they hate from their midst—is to call for excising them from our midst, then I have to wonder.

Are we secretly glad for their anger, since it gives us permission to feel and air our own?  I think it would be more productive to pay attention to our grief and our fears, which often lie beneath the anger.   What breaks our hearts here?  What are we scared of losing?  What are those young white extremists grieving?  What are they scared of losing?  What would need to happen to make us whole, to make them whole again?  It’s the difference between trying to get the words, signs and symbols right and trying to get our hearts right.

Friday, July 21, 2017

#168 Good food

Dear all,
Chuck and I are off for a week's solidarity paddle with Native Americans and allies on the Grand River in southern Ontario.  Wish us well as we take on a big physical challenge and seek to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves.
I'm thankful this morning for ceiling fans, long Japanese cucumbers, the first tomatoes, open-hearted grandchildren, bee-keepers, community of all sorts, and much more.
Love,
Pamela



Good food

When a program was started at a local inner-city high school to have a little vegetable garden for the students, I was skeptical.  It was a lovely idea of course, but these were young people who had been fed a steady diet of junk food.  They had been shaped by the tremendous seductive forces of advertising, constrained by food deserts and poverty, enticed to sugar and salt addictions.  How could a few home-grown vegetables stand a chance against that powerful array of forces?  Who in such a situation would choose a carrot over a bag of chips?

It turns out that mine wasn’t the whole story.  These young people planted their seeds, tended their soil, watered, weeded and watched as their crops grew, then tasted the results—and sold them to their neighbors.  More than a few changed their attitudes and eating habits in a single growing season.  They had recognized good food and were ready for more.

There are several layers of lessons here.  First is the difference between tasty food, addictive food, attractively packaged food, low fat/carb/calorie/salt health food, cleverly advertised food, and good food.  And this is true whether we’re talking about food for the body, the mind, or the soul.  I’m not sure I could say exactly what the difference is, but these young people had no difficulty recognizing the real thing.

Second is the eagerness many of us feel to help others get more good food.  We try lots of things.  We explain, often in painstaking detail, the advantages of good food.  We point out all the dangers of the other kinds.  We try to explicate the big-picture context in which bad food proliferates.  We do our best to expose the ulterior motives of those who are peddling it.  While none of these are bad or wrong things to do—far from it—I seriously doubt if any of them would have had a bit of impact on the eating habits of these highschoolers.  The words and reasons and facts and arguments could flow over and around them endlessly as they continued to eat what they had always eaten.

We can also try delivering the product directly:  “Here’s some good food.  Try it; I think you’ll like it.”  Now this approach has promise.  We’ve increased the likelihood that someone will actually try—and it may even be effective at times.  But success rests less on the quality of the product than on the relationships between those involved.

If I like and trust you, I may accept what you have to offer with an open mind, and may even be changed as a result.  But there are a host of reasons I might brush you off, go through the motions without any intention of changing, or refuse point blank.  There’s something about power dynamics here.  Think about grown-ups trying to get children to agree to the healthier option, or people who think they know better coming at you with tidy solutions to your problems.   We sometimes resist.

But these high school students had grown the food themselves.  It was theirs.  They were able to experience and recognize its goodness while they claimed it as their own.  There was nothing to resist.

Then I’m thinking of the good food that comes in questionable containers:  a community that’s the real thing in a context of prejudice; the best in organic food that arrives class-segregated; a beautiful wilderness from which the native people have been removed; love from an alcoholic parent; new opportunities to stretch one’s mind at a university without vision.  In each of these situations, and probably many more, a hungry person who has recognized the nutritious food to be found there is likely to defend not only the food itself, but the context in which they find it as well.  If we would wish to challenge the container, we need to start by joining them in appreciation of the goodness of that food.

I think the news here is mostly hopeful.  People are likely to recognize good food when they can try it for themselves.  Young people are particularly good at this.  Probably the best bet for those of us who would like to share with others is to fully enjoy the food we have, be open about the joy we take in it, and look for ways to invite others into our experience.  



 Harvest

A great armload of greens
from the garden--
Swiss chard in the pot for dinner
Mint hung up to dry
enough for tea for months to come
Kale and basil chopped for pesto
so tasty and so easy to freeze
A harvest to nourish
body and soul.




Imagine:  A New Economy Is Possible!
Community resilience

A farm in Western Massachusetts is combining community-supported farming, a community land trust and a community currency, modeling what building sustainable, regional economic resilience might look like.

Indian Line Farm’s community-supported agriculture business model allows members to buy shares in a farm, improving access to high-quality produce, enabling farmers to stay out of debt, building a sense of community, and helping ensure the long-term financial viability of small farms. 

They encourage the use of a local currency, BerkShares, which can be exchanged for U.S. dollars at 16 branches of four different banks in the region. Users get a small bonus for exchanging into the local currency and a small penalty for exchanging back into U.S. dollars. Thus, buyers effectively get a five percent discount when spending at any local shop that accept BerkShares, while vendors have an incentive to source goods and services locally after they accept BerkShares.

They have also pioneered the community land trust Community Land Trust model, that  enables communities to use land for long-term sustainable goals like farming and affordable housing, while preventing profit-seeking land speculation that could jeopardize these efforts.

This farm and the town of Great Barrington show that by challenging existing notions of land ownership, currency, and consumption, communities can take the lead and be successful in creating sustainable and long-lasting social and economic systems.
http://www.shareable.net/blog/this-massachusetts-town-shows-what-a-sustainable-economy-looks-like?




Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

The 26 workers in Greece who have taken over a corner of their shuttered chemical factory and are modeling cooperative work structures and production for the needs of the community. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/18/cope-capitalism-failed-factory-workers-greek-workplace-control?

The 350 U.S. mayors who, along with 194 nations, have adopted the Paris Climate Accord, including the 10 largest cities in the U.S, and representing more than 65.8 million Americans. https://www.curbed.com/2017/6/1/15726376/paris-accord-climate-change-mayors-trump

South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, who came to power partly as a result of massive street protests against the previous president, and is challenging deployment on its territory of a U.S. missile system targeting North Korea.  https://www.vox.com/world/2017/6/7/15755278/south-korea-president-thaad-missile-system

Micro lending projects, where the value of a small initial grant can be multiplied many times over through a revolving loan fund, transforming the lives of thousands of poor women at a cost from the original grant of only a few dollars per person.  https://www.rswr.org/2017/07/celebrating-50-years-of-love-and-partnership/




Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
Check out this new book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.

The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
    • offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
    • frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
    • suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
    • invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?

To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.


More resources

www.findingsteadyground.org

Resource from my friend Daniel Hunter, Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow; An Organizing Guide.  http://www.danielhunter.org/books/building-movement-end-new-jim-crow-organizing-guide

Recent posts on other web/blog sites:

In http://www.classism.org/gifts-american-dream/, Pamela Haines locates her family's homey DIY celebrations on a class spectrum of different connections to upward mobility.

            http://www.transitionus.org/blog/unlikely-suspects-–-deep-outreach-diverse-initiating-groups-–-pace-building-trust

        http://www.classism.org/demolition-derby

Muscle Building for Peace and Justice; a Non-Violent Workout Routine for the 21st Century--an integration of much of my experience and thinking over the years:  https://www.trainingforchange.org/publications/muscle-building-peace-and-justice-nonviolent-workout-routine-21st-century (or just google the title)

faitheconomyecology.wordpress.com, a website that I've contributed to often (check the archives)

www.ourchildrenourselves.com, a home for all the parenting writing I've done over the past 20 years.  NOTE THE NEW URL.

www.startguide.org. START: a way to study and work together with others to create a better world.

For earlier columns, go to www.pamelascolumn.blogspot.com.  I'm currently posting at pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/where-dignity-is-part-of-the-school-day

Saturday, June 24, 2017

#167 Rethinking security

Dear all,

We're recently back from a wonderful ten days in northern New Mexico, where I'd been invited to deliver the keynote address at an annual gathering of Quakers from the southwest.  It was the perfect combination of visiting friends in Santa Fe, working my butt off to finish preparing and give an hour-long talk on money, integrity and community, getting great support from Chuck, being successful(!), meetings tons of wonderful people, and having plenty of relaxed time to take in the beauty of our surroundings and learn about local history and culture.  What a gift!
 
So now my task is to take in the reality of being somebody who can do that kind of thing.  It fits with an idea I've been pondering recently, that holding back from the influence I am capable of having implies waste--and I'm a person who really hates waste.  And I'm left with the wish that we all might take opportunities to stretch.

Love on this beautiful summer evening,
Pamela




Rethinking security

A few years ago, I had the opportunity through work to meet a lovely family who run an early childhood program in a poor part of the city west of where I live.  I liked them a lot and was glad they were interested in having some of the tomato seedlings I had brought to the meeting to share.  We talked a little about the garden they were hoping to start and later that month, I dropped some kale and collard seedlings off at their center.

I stayed in touch and arranged to have them host one of our early childhood meetings the following spring.  We had another long conversation about gardening, and they showed us the little raised beds they had built in a big empty lot down the street.  Seeing that expanse of empty space, I spent time over the next several weeks separating perennials in our community garden, and starting a little ad hoc nursery of flowers, vegetable starts and fruit bushes to share.

Then on a Saturday morning in May, I worked together for three hours with them, hauling dirt, arranging and planting vegetable beds in the sunny back, and putting all the flowers in a couple of beds out front where they could be enjoyed by passersby.

I came home with new friends.  He shared a jar of his famous homemade barbeque sauce with me, and I’m looking forward to going back and giving him a jar of my currant juice and a recipe for currant sorbet.  I’d love to see if we can get some hardy perennials to take hold in the vast rocky middle of that lot.  Mostly I’m looking forward to being friends together.

As I meditate on this experience that has given me so much pleasure, it occurs to me that it can also be seen as an investment in my long-term security.  In a neighborhood that was easy to think of as other, I now feel a deep point of connection.  My world is safer, my extended family had been extended and enriched—and I now have a source for fine barbeque sauce!

This is not money in the bank in the traditional sense, and by itself it won’t support me in my old age.  But there’s a way in which it may be equally valuable or more so.  It may make as much sense to put time into building these human assets as it is to working extra hours to save up money for an individual future.  These connections are a critical part of the picture as we struggle to find our way in this “now and not yet” world.






Riches

In my mailbox this morning—

A young woman at Standing Rock,
fellow paddler from last summer,
looking for places to donate medical supplies,

A young man from Spain
confirming his summer time with us
his plan to rest, connect with himself,
visit people he loves,

A dear friend from Poland
sharing news of her two small children
and spring, and marriage, and work.

A young man from Uganda
wondering if the video he made
in memory of a mutual friend has arrived,

A local new mother
sorry we can’t get together this afternoon
hoping for another time.

I am awash in riches.






Imagine:  A new economy is possible!
Farm to school

In New Mexico, a program that started out to support land and water rights for indigenous people now has the following integrated elements:
training for young farmers, to help keep their community's original land and water rights intact and provide work
creation of cooperatives to allow a group of farmers to develop more stable markets
state legislation to give school districts monetary incentives to buy local produce for school lunches
coordination of 24 cooperatives all over the state to take advantage of different climates and growing seasons.
As a result, over half of the school children in the state are getting local organic produce in their lunches, and a network of mostly indigenous farmers are securing a new livelihood off the land.
https://www.afsc.org/story/support-legislation-get-local-vegetables-hungry-school-kids






Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

A ruling by a judge in Argentina that a chimpanzee named Cecilia had legal rights and must be released from a zoo.
http://www.projetogap.org.br/en/noticia/cecilia-first-chimpanzee-released-by-habeas-corpus/

A grassroots process in Santa Fe that is moving steadily toward creating a public city bank, and all the other efforts toward public banking around the country.
http://www.publicbankinginstitute.org/pbi_is_on_the_move_in_santa_fe

Maryland’s ban on hydraulic fracturing, the second in recent months, as New York recently filed the final paperwork to ban fracking.
http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/243625-maryland-bans-fracking

Small towns in Utah and New Mexico that are electing town/county officials who are pursuing inclusive, environment-friendly and progressive agendas.
(no links--just conversations!)





Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
Check out this new book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.

The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
    • offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
    • frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
    • suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
    • invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?

To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.


More resources

www.findingsteadyground.org

Resource from my friend Daniel Hunter, Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow; An Organizing Guide.  http://www.danielhunter.org/books/building-movement-end-new-jim-crow-organizing-guide

Recent posts on other web/blog sites:

In http://www.classism.org/gifts-american-dream/, Pamela Haines locates her family's homey DIY celebrations on a class spectrum of different connections to upward mobility.

            http://www.transitionus.org/blog/unlikely-suspects-–-deep-outreach-diverse-initiating-groups-–-pace-building-trust

        http://www.classism.org/demolition-derby

Muscle Building for Peace and Justice; a Non-Violent Workout Routine for the 21st Century--an integration of much of my experience and thinking over the years:  https://www.trainingforchange.org/publications/muscle-building-peace-and-justice-nonviolent-workout-routine-21st-century (or just google the title)

faitheconomyecology.wordpress.com, a website that I've contributed to often (check the archives)

www.ourchildrenourselves.com, a home for all the parenting writing I've done over the past 20 years.  NOTE THE NEW URL.

www.startguide.org. START: a way to study and work together with others to create a better world.

For earlier columns, go to www.pamelascolumn.blogspot.com.  I'm currently posting at pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/where-dignity-is-part-of-the-school-day

Sunday, April 2, 2017

#165 Good job?

Dear all,
I've been feeling the paradox:  Much is terribly wrong and all is well.  We are called to turn our lives both toward all that is wrong, grieving and finding our place in the struggle for change, and toward all that is right, taking in every bit of joy, beauty and loving connection that we can find.  I am feeling both on this very cold and clear spring morning.
Love,
Pamela


Good job?

When is a compliment like an iceberg, with most of its mass and weight invisible?  When it is embedded in a power dynamic.  Though it may be meant sincerely, and may be taken that way, the position of the one who compliments cannot be wished away.

Think of that most generic of compliments, “good job”.  Consider how it is used at school.  However it has been said or meant, the reality remains: a teacher has judged your effort and rated it satisfactory.  You have passed this test and have only to be ready for the next one, and the one after that…  In the adult world, “good job” is work language, the kind you hear in performance evaluations.  When a peer notices that you’ve accomplished something well, you can take that information in with simple acknowledgment, gratitude or pride.  When a boss at work says the same thing, however, pleasure at the compliment always includes a component of relief.  Your position has just been made that much safer, your options, perhaps, expanded.

Perhaps hardest to get our minds around is the dynamic with our own children.  How could anyone have issue with a loving parent telling a child they had done a good job?  Yet even when it is said with no intent to wield power, as a simple delighted response to a beloved’s achievement, we cannot avoid that underlying dynamic.  We cannot escape our role of authority.  Our children are listening to us, counting on us for their interpretation of the world, depending on us for their well-being.  If our positive words are framed as a seal of approval, what are they learning about what is good and what is bad?  What are they learning about their own agency in evaluating their accomplishments?   

The trajectory is troubling.  If our children come to rely on external approval to keep their self-esteem intact, how will they react to situations in which it is not present, whether intentional or not?  Are our innocent “good job” compliments setting us up for the necessity of propping our children up with an unending litany of praise?


Luckily our choices are not limited to praise on the one hand and silence on the other.  There are endless ways of responding with loving feedback untinged by judgment.  The common theme involves noticing, connecting, being present in that moment:  I see you.  I see that you did that.  You were working hard on that, and look what you did!  Tell me more.  Look what you’ve figured out.  Did you notice what you can do now?  Do you remember when that was a struggle?  I love how you keep trying.  You just don’t give up!  How does it feel to have gotten so good?  Thanks for your help.  Wow—look at that!


All these variants on “I see you and I am with you” focus not on our evaluation of how “good” the job is (with the built-in assumption that it might have been worse), but on the process of mastery, and the connection we feel to the child in that process.  They nurture a strong loving connection while supporting the development of a sense of self-esteem that is firmly located within.


We don’t have to give up on one bit of our love or delight.  Our tone of voice can be equally warm.  We just need to pay a little more attention, to put in the effort to notice what it is that the child is trying and what challenges they may be working to overcome.


Challenging that easy and all-purpose compliment, “good job,” has another advantage.  It requires us to notice the weight of the iceberg, and the power dynamics that are often hidden below.  As we practice framing our responses from a sense of connection rather than rank, we may discover that we have more to say about school, about work, about all the hierarchies that inhabit and surround us, and diminish all our lives.





Line and space

I’ve come to love
the strong clean lines of winter
the structure of the trees
revealed against the sky
the interplay of light and dark
of line and space.

The color palette is so spare
it calls the eye
while at the same time resting it—
soft bluish pinkish grays
all etched in black.

Like a fine old
black and white movie
stripped to its essence
undistracted by the stimulus
of color.

I can’t begrudge the spring.
Who could?
Yet I will miss the skies of winter.



Imagine:  A new economy is possible!

Cooperative ownership

Picture a day like this: You wake up and head to your job at a small company you own and manage together with your fellow workers, doing high-tech, advanced manufacturing that’s too specialized for bigger factories. For lunch, you swing by a restaurant owned by another worker cooperative, this one a national-scale firm that serves millions of customers each year. Back at work, you’ve got a meeting with a local agricultural co-op that’s contracted your company to help design some more efficient processing material for the food they produce and export across the world. Afterward, you meet up with your partner, who works in a social cooperative jointly owned by caregivers and the elders who live and receive care there. The two of you swing by the local grocery store—part of a national chain owned by its millions of customers—and pick up a bottle of co-op-produced wine. This is a day in the life of the cooperative economy in Northern Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, where about two out of every three inhabitants are co-op members and co-ops produce a third of the region’s GDP.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/the-italian-place-where-co-ops-drive-the-economy-and-most-people-are-members-20160705?




Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

Georgetown, Texas, a conservative town in the heart of oil and gas country, is one of the first U.S. cities to be powered entirely by renewable energy.  http://www.npr.org/2017/03/08/518988840/wind-energy-takes-flight-in-the-heart-of-texas-oil-country

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) and the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) build on a deep sense of place in Appalachia to work for  a just transition in energy and agriculture. Watch the short film here.

After a New Zealand court granted unprecedented legal status to the Whanganui River, considered an ancestor by the Whanganui tribe of the Maori, a court in northern India, citing the New Zealand example, issued a ruling declaring that the Ganges and Yumana Rivers are “legal persons/living persons.”  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/21/ganges-and-yamuna-rivers-granted-same-legal-rights-as-human-beings

Greeks citizens have taken over a shuttered hotel and turned it into a self-organizing home for Syrian refugees.  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/06/greek-leftists-turn-deserted-hotel-refugee-homes-160629131217044.html





Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
Check out this new book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.

The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
    • offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
    • frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
    • suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
    • invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?

To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.


More resources

www.findingsteadyground.org

Resource from my friend Daniel Hunter, Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow; An Organizing Guide.  http://www.danielhunter.org/books/building-movement-end-new-jim-crow-organizing-guide

Recent posts on other web/blog sites:

In http://www.classism.org/gifts-american-dream/, Pamela Haines locates her family's homey DIY celebrations on a class spectrum of different connections to upward mobility.

            http://www.transitionus.org/blog/unlikely-suspects-–-deep-outreach-diverse-initiating-groups-–-pace-building-trust

        http://www.classism.org/demolition-derby

Muscle Building for Peace and Justice; a Non-Violent Workout Routine for the 21st Century--an integration of much of my experience and thinking over the years:  https://www.trainingforchange.org/publications/muscle-building-peace-and-justice-nonviolent-workout-routine-21st-century (or just google the title)

faitheconomyecology.wordpress.com, a website that I've contributed to often (check the archives)

www.ourchildrenourselves.com, a home for all the parenting writing I've done over the past 20 years.  NOTE THE NEW URL.

www.startguide.org. START: a way to study and work together with others to create a better world.

For earlier columns, go to www.pamelascolumn.blogspot.com.  I'm currently posting at pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/where-dignity-is-part-of-the-school-day



Pamela Haines
215-349-9428

To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.

www.pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com