Saturday, July 11, 2020

#203 Free and bound

Dear all,

A wise Black friend has advised me that, however I respond to this great wave of protest against brutality and injustice, the important thing is to not change. So, if I am compelled to respond without changing who I am, then somehow I need to be more fully myself. I’ve been sitting with this, trying to live into its implications, ever since. Hopefully there will be fruits, and they will show.

In the meantime, I am doing my best to settle into the heat, trying not to be overcome by a growing weariness, glad to have an ongoing role supporting young climate activists, thankful for grandchildren and for all the people I can love via my computer and phone.

Love,
Pamela





Independence Day 2020:  Free and Bound

I wake up before sunrise on July 4, with freedom on my mind. The temperature was 97 degrees yesterday with hot muggy weather forecast for a week, so I am glad to get up and outside in the cool of the morning. I am free to choose when I will be outdoors, bound by weather over which I have no control.

I head out on my usual walk to the park, this time with a jigsaw puzzle under my arm. I had been methodically clearing out our oversupply of books, by taking an armload down to the little free library box at the corner of the park every morning. After three months, however, I was down to a core collection, so I started on the puzzles. It seemed like a small contribution to make to my community during this stay-at-home time, but something that I was able and glad to do. I am free to choose my way of involvement with my neighbors, bound to the community where I have put down roots.

Then I go to the community garden, where I water tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and sweet potatoes, and harvest rhubarb and currants. I had been offered some of the rhubarb by my neighbor; I’ll offer him a jar of marmalade in return. The currants make a delicious sorbet—perfect for this hot weather. A fellow gardener is on the lookout for a food dryer for me, so dried currants (and cherries!) might be in my future. I am bound to the earth on which I depend for this food, bound by agreement and affection to others in this shared space. At the same time, I am free from complete dependency on the supermarket, free to do what I will with my harvest. (Each Wednesday I contribute what is ready and extra to the little church food pantry with which our garden is connected.)

When I get home, I chop the rhubarb and start the marmalade. I am free to make—and enjoy—it, bound by the need to do so before it goes bad.

Later, I spend time on the phone with a couple of friends. I am free to choose who I claim as friends, bound to show up for them in their need and to show myself enough that they can do likewise.

With some blessed unscheduled holiday time after that, I am free to choose my activity (I choose to write!), bound by my belief that I am in this world for a reason. The words of an old folk song by Phil Ochs come to mind: “For I’m only as rich as the poorest of the poor; only as free as a padlocked prison door; only as great as my love for this land; only as tall as I stand.”

We take a walk after sunset in the cool of the evening in search of the full moon. It doesn’t show itself, but we are surrounded by the sound of unseen fireworks. When we get home, in an attempt to unlock this double mystery, I go up on the roof. There I discover the moon, just rising, and can see fireworks shows in every direction. It’s one big party, spread out this year in neighborhoods all over the city. I am free to participate in this party in any way I like, soaking up the quiet serenity of the moon, or taking in the bright sparkle of fireworks—or both. Regardless, I am bound—to this country where so very much is wrong even as much is right, and to the moon and the planet it calls home.





 Plowing the prairie

Leaning into the plow—
an enduring symbol of virtuous work
Pioneers breaking virgin ground,
bent on mastering the prairie
whatever the cost.

The harder the work
the more noble the cause.

And subdue the prairie they did—
along with all the beings
that called it home.

The prairie, we are learning,
was the keeper of our soil.
Washed to the gulf
we wish it back.

The dead substrate
that’s left behind
cannot nourish on its own.
We pour in more and more,
for less and less return.

If we could listen
to the natives of the prairie,
now gone like the soil,
what might we learn?

Maybe they would tell us
that some work
though it seems so masterful
is better left undone.





Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!
A Community Development Credit Union


Hope Credit Union, founded in 1995 and first run by volunteers in a church in Jackson, Mississippi, is now a hybrid of a credit union and a nonprofit loan fund. It opened new branches in New Orleans the year Katrina hit, then expanded in the Mississippi Delta during the Great Recession, and now is the size of a community bank, with $307 million in assets. The loan fund has another $150 million in assets, mostly loans to economic revitalization projects considered too risky for a credit union. The credit union has more than 35,000 members, more than 70 percent of whom are black, located all up and down the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans, and Memphis, and has had positive net income every year since 2011.

The non-profit loan fund and credit union were founded as separate organizations at first, both looking to use finance to support communities that were devastated by check cashers and payday lenders, facing structural barriers compounded over generations of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, and continued discrimination. Paired, they provide a means for outside investors and depositors to put their wealth to use in places where wealth has been extracted for generations, dating back to before the Civil War.

The loans they are able to make, like the credit union itself, are small compared to the trillions of dollars in wealth in the financial sector. But every dollar grown is that much more wealth taken back by the communities that own Hope.

https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/community-development-credit-union-that-grows-every-time-there-disaster





Some things that have made me hopeful recently

This month they fall into two big categories—challenges across the country to the fossil fuel industry and to oppressive policing systems:
               
Oil And Gas Pipelines Look Like Increasingly Risky Bets
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/oil-pipeline-risky-bet_

Climate Campaigners Respond to Cancelled Pipeline: ‘The Future Does Not Belong to You’
https://inequality.org/research/atlantic-coast-pipeline/

Minneapolis City Council members announced their intent to disband their police department and invest in proven community-led public safety.
https://theappeal.org/minneapolis-city-council-members-announce-intent-to-disband-the-police-department-invest-in-proven-community-led-public-safety/

As nationwide protests over police brutality continue, cities across the US are cutting and reallocating police funding.
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/06/12/nationwide-protests-over-police-brutality-continue-cities-across-us-cut-and?


 


Resources

Finding Steady Ground
If you need reminding of some simple ways to stay grounded in challenging times, I recommend this website, which I helped a friend develop following the last presidential election. 
www.findingsteadyground.com   

Other resources 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  
Climate Resistance Handbook, or I was part of a climate action. Now what? https://commonslibrary.org/climate-resistance-handbook-or-i-was-part-of-a-climate-action-now-what/
Leading Groups On-Line. https://www.trainingforchange.org/training_tools/leading-groups-online-book/ 

Money and Soul
My new book (based on a pamphlet of the same name) available via QuakerBooks or other on-line distributors.
("If money troubles your soul, try this down-to-earth Quaker perspective on economies large and small.") 

Money, Debt and Liberation
A video of a talk I gave at Pendle Hill in January, 2019
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7nP8eJ5vy8

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance  
A 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

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:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)


Saturday, June 13, 2020

#202 The gift

Dear all,

What a world we live in! It’s a challenge to stay grounded as great waves of change sweep in and engulf us. I’ve struggled to find my footing in this newest wave, the national uprising around racism and policing. I’m not content with making statements, but not prepared to risk infection by joining protests in the streets. It’s been good to take the time to learn about the history of police systems, and humbling to acknowledge that I’d never done so before (check out mpd150.com). I realize that what I most want for white people is to tend to ourselves and our relationships in the light of racism—to feel the heartbreak, dare to make mistakes, decide to stay. When we have practiced going through that fire, we’ll have so much more to offer the world around us. And so I come to realize that the piece I decided not to share in March, just as we had been knocked off our feet by the wave of COVID, may be my best offering as we work to ground ourselves in this next great wave.

Love,
Pamela




The gift

Building on dual passions, for urban agriculture and for connections across barriers that divide us, I joined the board of a local urban farming project years ago. The farm, then a white-led initiative in a black neighborhood, was full of everything that is right and everything that is wrong in our society. It has been a rich and wonderful experience, and nothing about it has been easy.

As we struggled with the problems of any small non-profit, with scarcity on all fronts, we also found ourselves dealing with gut-wrenching staff issues centered around gender and race, all within the context of an unfulfilled vision of local leadership, and ever-present second-guessing about the appropriateness of white people like me being involved at all.

I had to look hard at the ugliness of racism as it affected all of us in so many ways. Several years in, I found myself leading the board because no one else would do it, and we all knew I could. I felt the weight of the farm’s survival heavy on my shoulders as I tried to nurture new board members and staff of color, follow the leadership that was there, and hold everything together in the face of unrelenting challenges.

Our commitment to grounding the farm back in its neighborhood led to a shared decision a few years ago to not make a new administrative hire till we could hire locally, which led to more work for our one farmer, greater burden on the few remaining board members, and an increasingly stressed context for both program work and fundraising.

We’ve done amazingly well under the circumstances, made good decisions, survived. The potential remains enormous and I’ve never regretted the choice to put so much time and energy into nurturing this jewel of an urban farm. I’ve loved being around all the people who love it, and have known that it was a gift in my life. One fellow board member, who clearly values me but just doesn’t reassure or comfort my whiteness, has shown a light on parts of me that might otherwise have gone unexamined. Life just would have been so much more comfortable if I’d looked away and settled for smaller challenges!

Months ago there was a turnaround—with new local board members of color, some very successful grant-writing, and a vision on the part of this friend, now our board leader. to transform to a cooperative model based in the black farmers movement. That first newly-expanded and energized board meeting brought more unexpected emotional work for me. Now, rather than feeling overwhelmed by just trying to keep the farm afloat, I was overwhelmed by feelings that I was no longer needed—clearly the wrong color, in the wrong place.

I fought my way, slowly and painfully, to the perspective that it’s not my job to act preemptively on the assumption that I’m not welcome, even if I’m white, even if it would feel easier to give up and disappear. It’s not mine to make assumptions about how others perceive me. That’s their job. My job is to keep showing up as fully as I know how, despite my feelings, and to let others take the lead in evaluating my contribution and working out the racial composition of the board going forward. At some point, everything I’m doing now may well be adequately and more appropriately done by others, but I can still be fully present till then. I can continue to treasure the relationships that have been built through struggle over the years. I can even make new ones.

In the midst of all this hard work—emotional and otherwise—I had the opportunity to support a young climate activist friend. His vision, commitment and initiative had put him in the center of the national climate movement, with all its contentious issues around turf, leadership, and direction, and with opportunities to make race-related mistakes at every turn. He was engaged in a delicate racially-charged alliance-building project and glad for the opportunity to get some attention.

What became abundantly clear was that living through the challenges in my own little corner of the world had set me up to understand experientially the challenges he was dealing with. By bringing my own hard-won experience to the table, knowing in my bones something of what he was going through, he could rest in feeling seen and understood. He could use the space I was able to offer to look at his hardest feelings, regain perspective and think freshly about next steps. As I stretched to bring everything I had to support this man I loved, doing work that mattered deeply to me, I was thankful beyond words for the gifts I had been given by the farm.





Slipping the leash
Good human.
Stay inside.
Walk with a mask.
Don’t consort with strangers
(or anyone else).
Do your work safely.
Wash your hands.
Follow the rules.

Life can be good
indoors and on a leash.
Pleasures can be sniffed out.
There can be rewards.

But, oh to run free!

Escape far into the woods.
Leave life on a leash
far behind.
Take in deep and fearless breaths
Cavort, play, run, explore
in exquisite freedom.

Till the time comes
to return
and submit once more
to the leash.  





Dare to imagine:  Another economy is possible!

Many worker cooperatives around the world are responding to the pandemic by producing personal protective equipment. In Spain, a cooperative of the Mondrag√≥n group is adapting its production to manufacture 60 million masks over a six-month period. On a smaller scale, members of the largely-female worker coop Ipiranga in Brazil, the Tejiendo Paz Cooperative in Colombia, Cooperative Home Care Associates sewing coop in the US, twelve Italian coops, 17 Bulgarian worker coops employing people with disabilities, the French worker cooperative SCOP TI, the Polish Social Cooperative “Centrum Aktywizacji Zawodowej” which reintegrates people with disabilities in the job market, and the Druchema coop in the Union of Czech Production cooperatives have all adapted their production to personal protective equipment and disinfectant products.

https://www.cicopa.coop/news/covid19-how-cooperatives-in-industry-and-services-are-responding-to-the-crisis/





Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

All the courage, civic-mindedness and commitment to justice that has been evident over the last couple of weeks, among so many people all across our country.

The decision by the Minneapolis City Council to switch to investing in proven community-led public safety rather than traditional policing models.
https://theappeal.org/minneapolis-city-council-members-announce-intent-to-disband-the-police-department-invest-in-proven-community-led-public-safety/

The success of a three-year campaign to stop a major fracked gas pipeline in New York City has been stopped for good thanks to a 3-year Stop Williams Pipeline campaign, sending a signal across the U.S. that we don’t need more fossil fuel infrastructure.
https://350.org/williamspipelinevictory/?akid=121761.1048214.Pogdjn&rd=1&t=6

A federal judge’s ruling against the Bureau of Land Management’s recent approval of oil and gas leases across staggering swaths of Montana’s public lands, a victory that protects local groundwater and the climate for Montana landowners, farmers, and conservation groups.
https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2020/news-rural-landowners-farmers-and-conservation-groups-celebrate-court-victory-halting-risky-oil-and-gas-giveaway




Resources

Finding Steady Ground
If you need reminding of some simple ways to stay grounded in challenging times, I recommend this website, which I helped a friend develop following the last presidential election.
www.findingsteadyground.com 

Other resources 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 
Climate Resistance Handbook, or I was part of a climate action. Now what? https://commonslibrary.org/climate-resistance-handbook-or-i-was-part-of-a-climate-action-now-what/
Leading Groups On-Line. https://www.trainingforchange.org/training_tools/leading-groups-online-book/

Money and Soul
My new book (based on a pamphlet of the same name) available via QuakerBooks or other on-line distributors.
("If money troubles your soul, try this down-to-earth Quaker perspective on economies large and small.")

Money, Debt and Liberation
A video of a talk I gave at Pendle Hill in January, 2019
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7nP8eJ5vy8

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
A 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

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:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)

Saturday, April 18, 2020

#200 Breaking free

Dear all, 

What a month! Scary, stunningly beautiful (at least in this part of the country), on our own, yet all together as never before, full of despair, loss and possibility. I have been incredibly fortunate to have been spared—thus far—the sharp edge of loss, and I focus here on possibility.

I’ve added a few new resources which I hope may be helpful. I’m thankful for all of you, and wish you connection, joy in small things, and resilience on the road ahead.

Love,
Pamela





Breaking free

One of the more pernicious consequences of this pandemic is how it aligns with and amplifies the voices of isolation and helplessness from our childhood: Though we may want to make things better, the external situation is way too big for us to influence. We are separate, small, scared and alone. The best we can do is try to keep ourselves and our loved ones intact and get through our days.   

So for me, and I imagine for many others, I have been focusing on what is within reach. I sanitize knobs and switches and handles in the house. I wash my hands. I reach out to others who might be feeling lonely and even more vulnerable. I keep the tiny free library box at the corner of our park stocked, from our overabundant supply of books. I do my paid work remotely, lead my classes on-line, and work in the garden (where things can seem blessedly normal). I take in what I can of the larger situation, staying in touch with friends in Northern Uganda whose food supply is insecure and a man I know who has the misfortune to be in jail.

Yet there is a way that I have remained deep in crisis-response mode. While doing what is there to be done, my mind has been caged within this new and overwhelming reality. It has been taken up with survival, with strategizing how to process new information, how to handle fears and unknowns, how to make it through. This, too, has the ring of the constraints of childhood.

But I want more! As my mind struggles to slip the cage, what come first are the questions. What would it mean to think big about how to make use of this new window of opportunity that COVID-19 has offered?

How can we elevate the conversation about what is possible, drawing on things that are now happening that nobody believed could ever happen here? There are so many! The government is finding money to give almost every non-wealthy citizen $1200, no questions asked. Coronavirus testing is being offered whether a person has insurance or not. Cities are finding ways to give all children computers and make internet available, when this seemed unaffordable just weeks ago. Government is requiring private businesses to respond to public needs. We are learning how much work can actually be done remotely, and how many events can happen effectively online. In the process, we are discovering how much travel is unnecessary, and the corresponding importance of local resilience.

In a similar vein, how can we elevate the new conversation about who is an essential worker in our society? Front-line workers in health care, grocery stores and trash removal, to name just a few, are being recognized widely for the critical role they play. What can we do to ensure that this perspective is lasting?

How can we translate these new possibilities and understandings into an effective movement for change? How can we harness the new energy in all the mutual support efforts that have sprung up around the country? How can we link an abstract idea—that this is a window of possibility—to a grassroots movement that could actually impact policy? (And how can we do that from the isolation of our homes?) The youth climate movement and what might remain of the Sanders campaign have extensive on-the-ground capacity and a big vision. Is there a way the energy of those movements can be harnessed to more fully take advantage of this window of opportunity? What would need to happen to make that possible? 

I am excited about more and more of us breaking free from that cage and using our minds in as big a way as we can—then following up with action. I look forward to thinking freshly together, and backing each other in acting as effectively as we can.

 



Celebrating Easter during a pandemic

The sunrise service that I love,
in a meadow overlooking the city skyline,
putting our gathered attention
to the end of night
and the coming of a new day,
was not to be.

Instead, I climbed to our roof—
moon to the west, over the Catholic church
sunrise to the east, through the skyline—
and settled in to witness
the coming of the light.
And it came.

Back down, my early morning walk
led me round the park
and to the city garden that we share.

Under the peach tree
that I planted years ago
and has yielded so abundantly
I found a tiny seedling poking up—a peach!

As I looked, I kept on finding more—
life in abundance,
unexpected and unearned
ready to grow, to nourish and delight—
an Easter gift to warm the heart.





Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!

We are seeing it all around us these days, as economic policies and practices to serve the public good are being implemented that seemed impossible just weeks ago. The challenge now is to find a way to hold on.




Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

The hundreds of mutual aid networks that are popping up across the country, introducing many thousands to values and possibilities of the solidarity economy. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/people-fighting-coronavirus-mutual-aid-efforts-help-each-other? 

A victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota on Wednesday, in a federal judge’s ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving federal permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline. 
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/25/huge-victory-standing-rock-sioux-tribe-federal-court-rules-dapl-permits-violated-law 

A call by ministers from 10 European countries for coronavirus recovery to be based on a Green Deal, and not come at the expense of people and planet.
https://350.org/#updates

Rent, utility, and debt Freezes by the government of El Salvador in order to provide economic relief for those hardest hit by COVID-19.  
https://nationalpost.com/pmn/health-pmn/el-salvador-to-offer-relief-for-those-hit-by-coronavirus? 

The Spanish government’s position that not only would universal basic income payments be implemented, but that they would become a structural and permanent instrument. 
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/coronavirus-spain-universal-basic-income-europe-a9449336.html? 





Resources

Finding Steady Ground
If you need reminding of some simple ways to stay grounded in challenging times, I recommend this website, which I helped a friend develop following the last presidential election. 
www.findingsteadyground.com   

Other resources 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  
Climate Resistance Handbook, or I was part of a climate action. Now what? https://commonslibrary.org/climate-resistance-handbook-or-i-was-part-of-a-climate-action-now-what/
Leading Groups On-Line. https://www.trainingforchange.org/training_tools/leading-groups-online-book/ 

Money and Soul
My new book (based on a pamphlet of the same name) available via QuakerBooks or other on-line distributors.
("If money troubles your soul, try this down-to-earth Quaker perspective on economies large and small.") 

Money, Debt and Liberation
A video of a talk I gave at Pendle Hill in January, 2019
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7nP8eJ5vy8

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance  
A 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

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:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

#199 A break

Dear all,

I was setting up to send something about an experience of being deeply challenged by an issue of oppression and getting a gift from my willingness to face it squarely. It was going to be a break from COVID-19. But as I took a walk this morning, I concluded that putting attention to a different serious thing may not be the break that people need. A woman in our Quaker meeting (which has suspended gatherings for the forseeable future) has been sending out some of her quirky little poems, and people have been receiving them with great appreciation. So, as I think of and value you all, here are some poems that have given me pleasure, as well as some hopeful things.  (If it’s a disappointment not to get more, please let me know, or feel free to browse through old posts at www.pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com.)

If you need reminding of some simple ways to stay grounded in challenging times, I recommend www.findingsteadyground.com, which I helped a friend develop following the last presidential election. I wish you many moments of deep appreciation for the people you know and love—and bottomless creativity in finding ways to connect—as we journey through this great unknown.

Love,
Pamela





Enough

He doles out the little plastic animals with care.
We each get two, then five, nine, eleven.
He counts each time to be sure.
We each have eleven. Now we can start the game.

He considers his pile.
“Eleven is too many. Let’s each just have four.”
We choose which ones to keep.
He counts again. “Now we’re ready.”

Our animals surround the ramp
begin to jump and play at our command.
He stops. “Four is too many. Let’s just have two.”
Now he can settle and enjoy the game.

A small miracle. This child, in this culture,
resists the soul-sucking pull of more,
sees his self-interest in downsizing
to enough.





Boardroom rumble

The measured words
about audit
and fiscal prudence
float above
a clattery rumble
as a distinguished elderly banker
with large hands
pulls chips
one by one
out of a small
foil
bag.





Sighting

As a species
the mail carrier
is a loner
marking his own territory
making his rounds
in solitary self-sufficiency

Yet here was a pair
male and female
each marked with that distinctive
uniform and bag
moving side by side
down the street
up steps together
and back down
as if inseparable

A remarkable sighting
An invitation
to turn what we know
on its head--
imagine the impossible.





Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!

National Recycling
After two years Lithuania has a recycling rate of 91.9% for all bottles and cans and 74% for plastic packaging—44% higher than the EU average. When the consumer buys a product packaged in a returnable recyclable container, they pay a €0.10 tax which is held in trust until the consumer returns the packaging to a special reverse-vending machine, whereupon the ten cents is repaid. Consumers are paid in vouchers that can be redeemed in store as cash or credit toward their shopping bill. According to the EU’s Circular Economy platform, 97% of the country’s consumers were satisfied with the deposit-return system, which has collected over 2 billion returns and 56,000 tons of material since its deployment in 2016, a figure of mass equal to 6 Eiffel Towers.
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/lithuania-steals-crown-for-best-european-recycler/





Some things that have made me hopeful recently

166 million tons of coal and 4.5 gigatons of CO₂from Latin America’s largest open-pit mine that will stay in the ground, the fruit of a partnership between climate justice groups in Brazil, a local Indigenous association, and others.
https://350.org/coal-goliath-has-lost-2/?akid=114669.48046.uARLHD&rd=1&t=8

Students in Ottawa, who will now read Canadian indigenous authors in their literature classes.
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/grade-11-students-in-ottawa-are-ditching-shakespeare-for-canadas-indigenous-authors

The news that Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd. has withdrawn its application to build a massive oilsands project in northern Alberta, citing the ongoing debate over climate policy in Canada.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/teck-frontier-1.5473370?

An integrated effort in Hawai’i to educate and empower youth, fight hunger and injustice, improve health and nutrition, and grow a local, organic and fair agriculture industry.
https://www.maoorganicfarms.org/our_valueshttps://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/20/dutch-supreme-court-upholds-landmark-ruling-demanding-climate-action?CMP=share_btn_link





Resources

Money and Soul
My new book (based on a pamphlet of the same name) available via QuakerBooks or other on-line distributors.
("If money troubles your soul, try this down-to-earth Quaker perspective on economies large and small.")

Money, Debt and Liberation
A video of a talk I gave at Pendle Hill in January, 2019
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7nP8eJ5vy8

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
A 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.com  

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 

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:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

#198 Right to repair

Dear all,

My big news is that I’ve cut down my hours at work—a just-right-sized step toward retirement—and am feeling the spaciousness of time. So far it’s been easily filled by  long-delayed visits with friends, time with a grandson I've seen too rarely this year, and relaxed, connected social change work. I’m heartened by developments in the public banking campaign, glad to offer emotional support to organizers in the youth climate movement, Sunrise, and helping my congregation be more active in the movement to end cash bail.

Once again we celebrated Valentines Day by sending a love/news-letter to our widespread community, and receiving a shower of love-notes in return. If you didn’t get a copy and would like one, just let me know.

Love,
Pamela





Right to repair

Last fall the European Union passed groundbreaking new “right to repair” legislation. Major appliances must now be produced to be repairable and recyclable. What a concept!  But there’s more. As of last spring around twenty states in the US had considered right-to-repair bills to protect consumers’ ability to fix their electronic property—whether through parts, software, independent repair shops or skilled friends. The goal is to break the grip that companies have on unnecessarily expensive repairs, that are tipping us toward dumping the old one—whether washer or cell phone—in the landfill and buying a new one instead. What a sea change it would be to claim our right to repair!

I know what it’s like to make a good repair and extending the life of something that has value through my time and skill. Sometimes it’s as simple as sewing back a button on a shirt or a favorite pair of jeans. Stitching up a seam to make a beloved stuffed animal that is losing its stuffing as good as new can take just a few minutes, but bring joy to a child. We found an old chest on the street—wobbly and falling apart in many ways—but glue and clamps were really all that were needed to make it a lovely and desirable piece of furniture again. Our grandchildren are entranced by the possibility and the process of fixing broken toys. They are clear about the joy and power of repair.

I know what it is like to find a good repair person who can pick up where my skills let off. I place great value on these relationships, and am never quite comfortable with a new appliance till I find someone who can keep it going. It was a pleasure to visit with and get to know the man who was so good with our washer, dryer and stove, resting in the knowledge that I was in the very best of hands. I’ll never forget the sewing machine repair man who once sent home not only my repaired machine, but another one that he had on hand and thought I could use! I have a deep respect for their skills, and my life is better for knowing them.

I also know the frustration of being unable to make a repair. Those crappy plastic toys that came into our house when the children were small, and broke soon thereafter used to drive me crazy. (I’m sure the manufacturers count on adults preferring to buy new ones than having to handle the big upsets of small children!) But it’s not just children’s toys. Last fall my computer’s battery failed. Even our tech-savvy friend was unable to install a new one. The computer was more than a couple of years old, and intended for obsolescence; making people buy new ones is so much better for the company’s bottom line.

What would it mean to have a right to repair?  We could call on manufacturers to have the integrity to produce with the sustainability of products and the planet in mind. This would not only cut down waste, extend product life, and support a cadre of skilled repair people, but reorient our whole culture to one of valuing what we have rather than focusing always on the next new thing.

Maybe it would invite us to think even more broadly about repair. Just as those who are already skilled in repair take pride in their craft, maybe we could become a whole culture of repairers.  What if we believed that we could build the skills to repair other things that are broken—broken relationships, broken communities, broken economic systems?

Of course, some things should never be produced in the first place, and some are simply beyond repair. But maybe if we set our sights higher than just getting better at recycling plastic bottles, we can expand the categories of things we don’t throw away—to include phones, washers, computers, small towns, marginalized people. To repair assumes agency and power. What if we claimed it as a human right?





Misinformation

The automated voice on the el
Is seriously off track.
As we travel east
below the city center
stopping at 15th, 11th, 8th
she announces neighborhood stations
heading west:
Huntingdon, Dauphin, Berks, Girard.

We have to shut that voice out
focus on what we see and what we know
trust ourselves to find our way.

It’s disorienting to exist
within a narrative so false
spoken with such authority.
At least here, on the subway
we’re a savvy bunch.
We don’t get fooled.






Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!
Municipalization of private ownership

(Re)municipalization is redefining public ownership in the 21st century, offering a new route towards community-led, climate conscious and gender-sensitive public services. With more than 1,400 successful (re)municipalization cases, involving over 2,400 cities in 58 countries, resistance to privatization has turned into a powerful force for change:

Philippine cities Binalonan, Caloocan and Lanuza are recentering their public services to prioritize the needs of the most marginalized people in society. Other cities, such as Paris, Terrassa and Wolfhagen, are sharing decision-making powers and opening up ownership models to representatives of users, workers, civil society and research institutions.

(Re)emunicipalization efforts go beyond the most common sectors of water and energy, to include waste management in some countries in Africa, the many new public pharmacies in Chile, and the call of the UK Labour Party to provide public internet access as a human right.

https://www.tni.org/en/publication/the-future-is-public




Some things (among many!) that have made me hopeful recently:

The Saugeen Ojibway Nation’s decision to forego $150 million to prevent a nuclear waste facility from being built on the shores of Lake Huron.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/02/04/saugeen-ojibway-nation-has-saved-lake-huron-from-a-nuclear-waste-dump/

Twenty-four cities in Turkey, representing 25% of the population, announcing a “Cities for Climate Action” declaration; and also in Turkey, a Living Soil, Local Seed initiative that provides livelihoods for Turkish women and Syrian refugees, while also working toward climate-proof local agriculture.
https://350.org/press-release/24-turkish-local-authorities-say-we-are-in-on-the-paris-climate-agreement/?akid=109855.1048214.j88VgK&rd=1&t=5
https://truthout.org/articles/this-turkish-chef-is-fighting-climate-change-with-the-help-of-syrian-refugees/

A second decision by a federal judge ruling in favor of faith-based volunteers who were prosecuted for providing aid to migrants traveling through the dangerous Arizona desert.
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/02/04/rejecting-profoundly-disturbing-logic-criminalizes-empathy-judge-reverses?cd-origin=rss&utm

Put People First-PA, a group of Pennsylvanians from rural, small town and urban areas who bring people together to find solutions to the problems we all face—in the school system, in the workplace, or in the effort to make ends meet.
https://www.putpeoplefirstpa.org/who-we-are/






Resources

Money and Soul
My new book (based on a pamphlet of the same name) available via QuakerBooks or other on-line distributors.
("If money troubles your soul, try this down-to-earth Quaker perspective on economies large and small.")

Money, Debt and Liberation
A video of a talk I gave at Pendle Hill in January, 2019
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7nP8eJ5vy8

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
A 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.com  

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 

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:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)




Saturday, January 18, 2020

#197 Inclusion

Dear all,

After a busy holiday season and a busy stretch at work (while dealing with a nasty cold) I feel like I’m finally rested and well and ready to face a new year. What an interesting and challenging year it’s shaping up to be! I wish us all the best as we reach for a relaxed sense of power and possibility, and confidence that what we do can make a difference.

Love,
Pamela





Inclusion

Who are “we”? And how does that sense of identification affect our world view? When we ask who is inside and who is outside of our circle, of course there are many answers that are accurate, depending on the context. But the question of who gets included or excluded, and on what basis, is worth considering.

Sometimes the narrowness of a “we” is quite circumstantial. We just haven’t been exposed to others in a way that makes them real, but if we met them we might feel an immediate sense of connection and easily include them in a larger “we”. Sometimes there is a thin layer of difference over an easily-recognizable commonality—a distinctiveness of culture or style that is interesting and enriching to explore. At other times, circumstance joins with systemic ways we have been divided from each other, to make that sense of commonality harder to see or claim. And other times, we may think we’ve included everybody, but just haven’t looked closely enough.

I thought about this question a lot on our recent trip to Uganda. Africa is a continent that is not included in many people’s “we”. In it are a lot of countries that few of us know anything about. Some can name Uganda, some may even place it in East Africa, and a few may have heard of the airport at Entebbe. But who can picture the town of Gulu far in the north, almost up to South Sudan?

This is already an enormous stretch, yet there is more.  If we picture a bustling primary school in Gulu, the teachers and administrators are likely to be the easiest to include in our circle of “we”. They are responsible adults, doing work that many can recognize and value. In this case, they are an articulate, generally passionate, accessible and likeable group. But what if we zoom in a little farther?

The teachers have been invited to a two-day training on global citizenship, and are working in groups on how to translate UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into projects that students can take on as a part of their education. Also invited—in a momentous first—have been other members of the school community. At one table, an old man who works as a guard at the school shares materials with a tiny 11-year old girl as they and several teachers prepare to explain one of the SDGs to the larger group. A young man who works on maintenance, the man who is in charge of sanitation, and the students are all eloquent in their presentations on possible projects they could take on.

 The old man struggles to complete a written assessment at the end of the training. I listen and offer encouragement, then ask what he would like to contribute to enrich the curriculum of the school. He says that he’d love to teach the children Swahili—the trade language of East Africa that few people in this part of the country know. I had no idea. This training would have been great with just the teachers; he and the others could easily have remained invisible. But if all we see is a guard, and he’s left out of the circle, who knows what riches we will miss?

Later, in an animated discussion among a group of deeply committed and articulate leaders from the board and PTA of the school, the men dominate. I have to assert to create space for the one other woman in the room. A sturdy quiet farmer, she is not likely to push her way into a conversation. Yet she was the founder of a local women’s dairy cooperative and has run it for years; her business sense and practical experience are as valuable as gold.

Many people are trying conscientiously to expand their “we”. Yet there can be traps, even in our most virtuous intentions. I think of a warning that has stuck with me: “We are not a homogeneous community struggling to become diverse; we are an incomplete community struggling to become whole.”

As I spend time in this community I have grown to know and love in Northern Uganda, I am acutely aware of my incompleteness, and of the blessing of having this opportunity to try to become more whole.






A world awry

We tramp around his little farm
millet, ground nuts, cassava, maize.
In our eyes all is new
to him the yield just disappoints.
Too much rain, he says.

The talk is all of rain.
It has outstayed its welcome.
The dry season is long overdue
and yet the clouds keep
opening, day after day.
We cannot will the rain away.
It cools, but all is wrong.

We come to where his sim-sim—
sesame—is stacked in racks to dry.
He pulls a sheaf to show the grain
Instead of clean white seeds,
there’s mildew. All the crop is lost.

One good man who works the land,
one mildewed sheaf of grain,
and the weight of what we’ve done
to sky and sea, to this good earth,
to all who tend the soil
is more than I know how to bear.





Dare to imagine—a new economy is possible!
An alternative to the GDP

Created in 2008, the Happy Planet Index examines sustainable happiness on a national level, ranking 143 countries according to three measurements: how happy its citizens are, how long they live, and how much of the planet’s resources they each consume. The HPI multiplies years of life expectancy by life satisfaction (as measured by the Gallup Poll and the World Values Survey), to obtain “Happy Life Years,” which are then divided by pressure on ecosystems, as measured by the ecological footprint. (The ecological footprint, in turn, measures how much land and water it takes to provide for each person.)

The Happy Planet Index,” says New Economics Foundation researcher Saamah Abdallah, “measures what goes in, in terms of resource use, and the outcomes that are important, which are happy and healthy lives for us all. In this way, it reminds us that the economy is there for a purpose—and that is to improve our lives.”
https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/climate-action/why-costa-rica-tops-the-happiness-index-20190131






Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

Over 160 cities in the Ukraine have signed up to make the transition to 100% renewable energy, and the momentum is growing.
https://gofossilfree.org/a-huge-win-in-ukraine/?akid=109855.1048214.j88VgK&rd=1&t=3

Ducks are being used in rice paddies to keep them clean, eliminating the need for artificial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/food/the-plate/2016/09/want-cleaner-rice-paddies--consider-ducks/

When Pacific Gas and Power in California cut off power in Humboldt County to reduce the risk of wildfire last fall, the Blue Lake Rancheria tribe’s solar micro-grid not only met their own needs but also served more than 10,000 people in Humboldt during the outage — including some who were critically ill.
https://microgridknowledge.com/blue-lake-rancheria-microgrid-outages/

Scientists have created an edible honey bee vaccine to protect them from deadly diseases.
https://www.foxnews.com/science/scientists-create-edible-honey-bee-vaccine-to-protect-them-from-deadly-diseases






Resources

Money and Soul
My new book (based on a pamphlet of the same name) available via QuakerBooks or other on-line distributors.
("If money troubles your soul, try this down-to-earth Quaker perspective on economies large and small.")

Money, Debt and Liberation
A video of a talk I gave at Pendle Hill in January, 2019
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7nP8eJ5vy8

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
A 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.com  

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 

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:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)

Saturday, December 28, 2019

#196 For love of the land

Dear all,

We are now back from three weeks in Northern Uganda, where we dug our roots back into a community we have come to know and love, deepened relationships, made new friends, and, in the midst of great oppression and resilience, took on hard challenges together. I may have more to say later. In the meantime, if you would like a copy of the letter with updates on the school we support, please let me know.

As we enter a season where the minds of many of us are turned to giving, I wanted to share what was perhaps the biggest gift I received this year.

Love,
Pamela





For love of the land

I’ve loved this bit of land for over fifty years. Coming up over the hill, my heart always opens anew to the jewel of a valley spread out below, part of the rolling farmland and woodlots of central New York state. My father bought an old farm here in the 60’s, preparing for a job move that didn’t work out. But my family loved the land. The old farmhouse became a focal point for a group of young adult Quakers, a gathering and landing place as we attempted to shape lives that aligned with our deepest faith values. Our community loved the land.

Then my mother moved up there in her retirement and it became the center of family gatherings for her six children and growing extended family. My sister, Liseli, lived across the road on adjoining farmland, and dug her roots in deep. When my mother died, it took us some time to decide that we needed to sell the house, but none of us wanted to sell the land. How could we ensure that it would continue to be loved as we loved it?

My sister and her partner had been on their own journey, building ever-closer relationships with members of the neighboring Onondaga nation, and coming under the weight of our country’s history of broken treaties, stolen land, and destruction of whole indigenous nations. Living on traditional Oneida territory, Liseli had started exploring the idea of a land trust with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (who used to be known as the Iroquois) of which the Oneida are a part. But as time passed with no visible progress, the outcome seemed increasingly uncertain.

Then, last fall she met an Oneida woman who was working with others in Wisconsin and southern Ontario to rekindle a shared traditional identity—a challenge, given that the only tiny remnant of their traditional homeland was now given over to a casino and entertainment complex. This meeting was the opening my sister had been waiting and hoping for. Over the next nine months, they worked together to create a nonprofit organization, my sister consulted with her siblings, and we joyfully agreed to return that thirty acres to these Oneida women.

At a ceremony in July, the three groups of Oneida women gathered on the land to mark its return. They sang to the land in its home language. They squished their toes in the wet earth. I can’t imagine any better resolution, any better future for that land that so many of us have loved over all these years—and so many Oneida people had loved long before.

I was already struggling to take in the terrible injustice of our nation’s treatment of native people. But being able to be part of one tiny thing that was so completely right has opened me up in a new way—both to the heartbreak and to the possibilities of healing.





Late harvest

The weather has turned cold.
The sweet potatoes wait, still in the ground.
I seize an unexpected daylight hour,
take old coat, old gloves, a fork,
a shopping cart of leaves,
go out to dig—
and step into an ancient rite.

It’s true I tucked in little slips last spring.
Vines have grown and leaves have multiplied
but who knows what has happened underground?
Now, vines stripped away,
all that’s left to see is barren ground.
What magic has been working down below?

And so I dig.
Each time I turn the earth
there’s treasure to be found.
I straighten to a stunning sunset
spread across the sky
(I would have missed it from indoors).

My harvest grows
the colors shift, then fade.
I pile the leaves as cover for the soil,
fill my basket, head for home
Darkness settles.
All is well.






Dare to Imagine: A new economy is possible!
Free Public Transit

Lawmakers in Kansas City, Missouri have voted to make public transportation in the city free of charge, setting the stage for it to be the first major U.S. city to have free public transit. They will set aside $8 million to cover the costs, with hopes that the effort will have a positive impact on economic inequality and boost the overall economy.

Estonia is the world leader in free public transit. In 2013, all public transit in its capital, Tallinn, became free to local residents (but not tourists or other visitors, even those from other parts of the country). The new national free-ride scheme with extend this model even further, making all state-run bus travel in rural municipalities free and extending cost-free transit out from the capital into other regions.

https://portside.org/2019-12-06/kansas-city-missouri-approves-free-public-transit-all
https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/05/estonia-will-roll-out-free-public-transit-nationwide/560648/





Some things that have made me hopeful recently

A female chief in Malawi who has broken up more than 1000 child marriages so girls can go back to school.
https://www.lifegate.com/people/news/theresa-kachindamoto-child-marriage-malawi

The decision by the lending arm of the EU, the world’s largest multinational lending institution, to become first ‘climate bank’ by ending financing of oil, gas and coal projects after 2021.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/15/european-investment-bank-to-phase-out-fossil-fuels-financing

A determined Indian farmer who proved the government wrong by planting trees in an area known as “uncultivable”.
https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/farmer-plants-trees-desert/

(There was one more, but my computer deleted everything as I was trying to send, and these are the threeI can remember… Look for it next time!)





Resources

Money and Soul
My new book (based on a pamphlet of the same name) available via QuakerBooks or other on-line distributors.
("If money troubles your soul, try this down-to-earth Quaker perspective on economies large and small.")

Money, Debt and Liberation
A video of a talk I gave at Pendle Hill in January, 2019
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7nP8eJ5vy8

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance 
A 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.com  

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 

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)