Monday, March 19, 2018

#176 Town Hall

Dear all,

Well, I finally got rid of my two-month cough, which turned out to be pneumonia (again!).  What a pleasure to feel healthy!  A sweet moment was when my colleagues at our big two-day annual work conference sent me home to bed in no uncertain terms.  I keep learning more about noticing and taking in the love and help that is available around me.

Some of you contributed to the project of a young man I know in Northern Uganda who was raising money to make a documentary on the environmental impact of charcoal-burning.  His 16-minute video is now available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPz2g18DLxU&feature=youtu.be

On the eve of the first day of spring arrives, a winter storm is headed our way.  Yet we know that spring will prevail.

Love,
Pamela





Town hall

When we arrived at the neighborhood rec center for the town hall   More and more chairs were brought in to accommodate the growing crowd, and still people were left standing.  Clearly the topic of cash bail hits a nerve in this neighborhood.

The town meeting was hosted by two progressive-minded city  They had invited our new District Attorney, the head of the Defenders Association, a Mayor’s representative on criminal justice reform, and representatives of several community organizations that are working to end cash bail.

The feisty determination of both the new DA and the Public Defender to change the system was heartening.  I kept being surprised at how neither of them (a white man and a black woman) sounded like politicians or bureaucrats; it was more like they were zealots on a common mission.

The crowd was certainly with them, ready to be led and ready to pull them ahead even faster and farther.  It was this crowd—and my part in it—that really caught my attention.  I’m still puzzling over how I could have remained so deeply ignorant of the impact of this issue for so long.  I remember disagreeing with the policies of an earlier DA with a reputation for being “tough on crime”, but now I was hearing from a mother in the row directly behind us about her son who was locked up at age 15 by this DA many years ago and has been in jail ever since.  She is my neighbor.  How could I be so insulated from her pain?

In this room, only a mile from home, I was finally experiencing the raw reality of the weight of mass incarceration in my community.  It was the difference between having information about wrongs and being witness to them.  Three mothers spoke, clearly in a never-ending and passionate quest for justice for their sons.  How had I failed to be under the weight of this injustice, failed to take into my heart how families are still being ripped apart by a system that started with slavery and morphed almost seamlessly into mass incarceration?

I remember the shock of learning several years ago how towns like Ferguson, Missouri fill their coffers by extorting traffic fines from their minority neighborhoods.  I am embarrassed that I have only recently educated myself on cash bail—a system where the innocent poor can languish in jail for months waiting for trial while the guilty rich simply buy their freedom.  But this evening we learned together about another layer of injustice; we learned that 30% of all posted bail is kept by the city—whether the person is taken to trial, proved innocent or not.

I was present as the reality of this outrage took shape and gained weight before our eyes: the meager resources of those who have the least are being pillaged to support the system that oppresses them.

We didn’t know.  Even the City Councilman, a guy who said he might have ended up in jail himself if somebody hadn’t offered him another path, didn’t know.  How could we not know these things?  What forces have allowed us to accept such a system as inevitable?  Are those who have been victimized by it too inured to oppression and injustice to speak up?  Are those who haven’t been personally touched by its horrors too buffered from inconvenient truths, or too invested in not knowing?

Learning and knowing hard things can be painful.  But we don’t have to learn or know them, or act on what we have learned, alone.  And choosing to not know is way worse.  The opportunity to be with my neighbors as we looked squarely at this system together, and united in an intention to change it, was a gift.





Welcome and farewell


Welcome the tiny crocuses
new sprouts of green
astonishing warmth of sun
on my cheek.

Farewell the clear line
of tree branches
against the sky.

Love of what is
giving way to
love of what is to come.





Imagine:  A New Economy is Possible!
Reclaiming Public Services

Cities and towns that want well-run water and sanitation services, low-cost access to the internet, and affordable housing should keep those operations public or run by local nonprofits, or “re-municipalize” them if necessary, a new report from the Netherlands has found.


Based on research involving 1,600 cities in 45 countries that have chosen public ownership over corporate ownership, especially of their energy and water systems, “(re)municipalisations generally succeeded in bringing down costs and tariffs, improving conditions for workers and boosting service quality, while ensuring greater transparency and accountability”.  Both Hamburg, Germany, and Boulder, Colorado, for example, are making their electric power enterprises public in order to shift to green and renewable energy sources.

https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/reclaiming_public_services.pdf





Some things that have made me hopeful recently

The declaration of Colombia’s Constitutional Court that the Atrato River basin possesses rights to “protection, conservation, maintenance, and restoration”, challenging the assumption that nature is “property” that is right-less under the law (as has been the case with women and enslaved people).
https://celdf.org/2017/05/press-release-colombia-constitutional-court-finds-atrato-river-possesses-rights/?utm_source=Press%20Release&utm_medium=PowerMail&utm_campaign=PR

The growing interest (among former debt collectors and TV personalities) in buying up people’s medical debt at pennies on the dollar, in order to forgive it.
http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/tv-stations-follow-john-olivers-lead-in-the-movement-to-forgive-medical-debt-20180301

The energy in my city, from the grassroots to the District Attorney and chief Public Defender to members of City Council and the Mayor for addressing the terrible injustices in our court and prison system.
http://www.philly.com/archive/samantha_melamed/krasner-cash-bail-philadelphia-reform-district-attorney-20180319.html

The new movies, Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time, which offer widely accessible and impactful corrections to deeply-held and damaging stereotypes about black people and women.





Resources

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.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

#175 In focus

Dear all,

I had a lovely time in the days before Valentines Day sending out our annual love letter to many many friends.  With each name I felt the connection and was grateful to have that person in my life.  (If you’d like to read it, just let me know.) 

This has been an intense month of writing for me, following through on my summer speaking adventure in the Southwest with three projects on faith, economics and community. Winter is a great season for writing, but I’m hoping to wrap them up soon, since my mind/heart is beginning to turn toward the spring.  So I wish you, as well, the joys of winter and the pleasures of anticipating spring.

Love,
Pamela





In focus

There is something about being in a very different culture that gives the connections one is able to make—across great differences in life experience—an extra sweetness and poignancy.  My relationship with one young man in Northern Uganda stands out. Somehow we were able to find each other.  You could call it a miracle.  None of the host of forces that can so easily block one human being’s access to another was able to prevail.  Without the distractions and assumptions of daily life at home, I was reaching for connection and ready to see.  After years as an orphan, being treated as an inconvenience and a burden, he was more than ready to be seen. The love in two hearts found a way to flow clear and unobstructed, as refreshing as good water in parched earth.

I believe it was a miracle, as it continues to be.  And I am starting to believe that such miracles are waiting to be found at every turn.  Just as this young man came into such clear focus for me, in all his goodness and worth, I think this is something we would all want and choose with everyone.  The key is to bring our loving attention to the challenge of focusing in on the reality of another human being.

So, what does it mean to see people in focus?  Perhaps the better question is what gets in our way?  Sometimes we just don’t see at all.  Our attention may be focused so far out, on the great mysteries or evils of the world, that the people close in around us are just a blur.  Conversely, it may be focused so deep within, on our own internal state, that we can’t really see anybody outside of ourselves clearly.  In neither case is our focus on the people in our midst, and we catch glimpses of them only by chance.

Sometimes we are ready to focus at that range but, rather than putting attention to what is actually happening for the person in front of us, we look to see a reflection of what we want or need.  This often happens with babies.  In our eagerness to take in a vision of precious innocence and sweetness that nourishes our souls, we may totally miss seeing that individual human being and what they are showing on their own behalf.  Or we look at a potential romantic partner, not as he or she actually is, but as a reflection of our own hopes and dreams.

We may know that there’s a real live person in front of us whom we could theoretically look at, but just not be able to face what we would see if we looked.  Maybe they are hurting too much for us to know how to take it in.  Maybe we feel inadequate in response to their needs.  Maybe they remind us of our failings, or call out anger that we don’t know how to control.  So we blur our vision intentionally or turn away.

Sometimes, our intention is to be present and have the other person in focus, but we’re trying to do other things at the same time.  This can easily happen to parents, trying to catch enough of the drift of what a child is doing or saying that we can respond appropriately, as we try at the same time to attend to another task.  Or we converse with somebody while our minds are being tugged by our cell phones or our worries or by somebody else who is in the room.

All of these are real challenges.  But I’m finding myself taken by the power of what can happen when we choose to not be limited by them, and dare to put our full attention to the person in front of us.  Being seen that way, in full focus, will surely be a gift to them. For some it will be another always-welcome affirmation that they have been seen.  For others it may be life-changing, like the water on dry earth that allows a struggling plant to bloom.  

But perhaps more important, really seeing others is a gift to us.  (I remember going into cataract surgery with vision in one eye so cloudy that I couldn’t distinguish faces and coming out to find the world crystal clear.  Talk about miracles!)  Though it may be painful, and may require us to grieve, ultimately seeing calls out our love.  And that means more love, not only out in the world, but at our disposal in our hearts.





Catching the wind

Far from the daily cares of home
Beauty all around
A hard task to do, but do-able
Loving people gathered round.

The wind fills my sails
I lean out
Balanced, intent
In motion
At rest.





Imagine:  A New Economy is Possible!
Investing locally

The City Council of Preston, in northern England, inspired by the work of The Democracy Collaborative in Cleveland, Ohio with the Evergreen Cooperatives, has returned almost £200 million to the Lancashire economy and supported more than 1,600 jobs by using the town’s anchor institutions and local government contracts to keep money in the local economy and develop worker-owned cooperatives.

Preston council's local economic development strategy includes:
    • Becoming the first Living Wage employer in the North of England (in 2012);
    • Setting up a credit union to compete with payday loans companies;
    • Persuading six large local public bodies, or “anchor institutions”, to commit to buying goods or services locally wherever possible;
    • Helping to set up worker cooperatives to provide goods and services to public bodies.

In 2013, the six local public bodies spent £38m in Preston and £292m in all of Lancashire. By 2017 these had increased to £111m and £486m respectively, despite an overall reduction in the council’s budget. 

https://democracycollaborative.org/content/democracy-collaborative-joins-jeremy-corbyns-new-community-wealth-building-unit-advisors




Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee’s rejection of a permit to build what would have been the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.
https://earther.com/washington-governor-shuts-down-gigantic-fossil-fuel-pro-1822527972

The Uruguay Care Act, under which all children, persons with disabilities and elderly persons, have the right to get care, with the state not only providing care services but also guaranteeing their quality by providing training and regulations.
http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2017/2/feature-uruguay-care-law

The action by the French parliament to ban all production of oil and gas by 2040.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/20/france-bans-fracking-and-oil-extraction-in-all-of-its-territories

A wise, funny and compassionate open letter to Louis C.K. on sexual harassment by a NYC theater artist.
https://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2018/01/03/youre-my-sexist-dumbass-louis-c-k-and-heres-what-i-need-from-you-now/





Resources

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.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

#174 Stories

Dear all,

Well, here is a glimpse of our trip to Uganda.  There may be no way to fully invite people in, but I’ve given it my best shot.  And, after a not-so-easy transition and a too-quick pivot to holidays and holiday travel, I’m very glad to be home, without plans to go anywhere for a while.
 
I was pleased to be at the Philadelphia women’s march today with a sign that reads:  “TAKE HEART — We are more POWERFUL than we know!”  It got lots of attention and appreciation, and was a wonderful way to offer a little of my perspective to a lot of people.

I just saw the first tiniest sickle of moon this evening.  There is something about that cycle that I love being part of.

Love,
Pamela





Stories

Home from two intense and rich weeks in Uganda, I wonder what is my story to tell about that time?  We are often encouraged to support safety in groups by maintaining confidentiality, ensuring that nobody’s story leaves that space.  Yet I’ve been helped by a friend’s reframing of that advice—to tell only your own story.  You don’t just repeat another person’s story—which is basically gossip—but if it has changed you in some way, you may have something new of your own to share.

Somehow that advice seems relevant here.  I am pulled to describe the poverty I saw, but telling the story of someone else’s poverty is a poor substitute for grieving that injustice, claiming my role in it, and acting to make a difference.  The countless stories of resilience in the face of that poverty are not mine either, though the hope they bring me shapes my experience.  So I’ll just mention that I love the creativity with which people name their businesses, and their readiness to include God in the mix.  “God is Able Food Market” is a place I’d like to shop.

It could be argued that the story of the school that we have been supporting for decades is mine to tell. It has been reeling from the death of its beloved and charismatic founder, and we came with her son whom we’ve known for decades in Philadelphia.  He has taken over the school’s leadership at his mother’s request, valiantly trying to solve thorny and systematic problems from a distance in the hours around his more-than-full-time regular job here.

But the details of family members’ complex relationship to the school, of the efforts to sort through multi-layered relationships and probe for solid ground on which to rebuild, are not really mine.  I can say that I loved how hard and well we worked together.  Day in and day out we met with members of the school community, listened hard, strategized together, prioritized tasks, followed up.  We were in such good communication that it was like functioning as one larger organism, three hearts and minds working as one.  I was inspired to suggest that, at the end of each day before dropping exhausted into bed, we take a few minutes to appreciate each other.  This turned out to be a precious time together.  And slowly, slowly, we saw the shape of a new and healthier culture beginning to emerge.

We were staying in the compound where many of Abitimo’s grandchildren still live.  The complexities of their lives are not my story, but I can say that one evening after dinner, we hosted a family dance party out under the stars.  There were probably twenty of us, ages 6 to 69, and we let loose together, moved our bodies, and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Of course we know that it is people, and our connections with each other, that make up our ultimate resource and wealth.  And there are so many people there to respect. I loved how Abitimo’s driver has become a near and trusted friend, how, as we drove north from the airport the first day, we asked for his advice on approaching the school project, and then how we followed it. We left with many things undone, but there are also many very competent people there who can move the project forward.

When we weren’t working on the school project, we were leading two peer counseling workshops, one in our Northern Uganda home of Gulu, and the other in the capital in the south.  After being with loved ones in the north, I wasn’t anxious to get to know a whole new group of people, but of course I fell in love.  In our little support group, women told stories of incredible hardship growing up as girls, but we rejoiced together in our strength as women.  Then, when the children showed up in the middle of the weekend, Chuck and I got to demonstrate the kind of active play that can get a whole group of little ones running and squealing with delight—opening up a whole new world of possibility for everyone there.

I organized a breakfast table where teachers told wonderful stories about how they are sharing their understanding of listening for healing at their schools.  I had to remember that my role of gathering them together and encouraging them to share those stories more widely had its own value.

We thought hard about where outside money could help, and where it might just muddy the waters.  The nursery teachers’ request for wall charts, however, was a straightforward one.  Following a young driver we had just met, we ventured deep into the maze of Kampala, through a warren of tiny stationery shops, to find a business with four square feet of floor space and great rolls of charts, and emerged with fourteen for less than ten dollars!  Then, at a craft market, we found balls made of banana leaves, and this young man got excited by the idea of making more himself, and has promised to send a photo of his first effort.

The last day and a half I had time to be with two of the young adults I’ve grown closest to in Uganda over the ten years we’ve been coming.  Again, their stories are not mine, but my love is, and I try to remember that love can make a difference.  My heart aches for the hands they’ve been dealt, I want more than anything to have things be right for them, and I know that’s beyond my powers. So I’m stuck loving in the midst of heartbreak—not assuming that I have solutions for anybody else, but not withholding—and maybe that’s exactly where I need to be, for their sake and for mine.




Tech match

I can bring the paper goods by bike—
plates in the basket
cups and plastic ware in the big blue pack.
Without a car, it’s awkward
but I’m glad to make it work.

The guys at the farm are busy
prepping for the festival.
Errand run, I turn to go,
much lighter now.

One young man with food
to carry home to cook
prepares to bike.  No car for him.
And I can help!
My big blue pack is perfect for this task.

I pedal home in gratitude
that, car-less, my tech level was a match
for his.





Imagine:  A new economy is possible!
Fair Food Program

In 2005, after the Coalition of Immokalee Workers boycotted Taco Bell for almost four years, the company agreed to sign a Fair Food Agreement, committing to pay a “penny more per pound” on its tomatoes, to be passed on as wage bonus to tomato harvesters, and to work with CIW to improve conditions in the fields. The CIW then targeted McDonald’s for two years; in 2007, McDonald's signed a Fair Food Agreement with CIW, and other fast-food chains and food retailers soon followed suit.

Despite the Florida Tomato Growers threat to fine farmers if they passed through "penny per pound" monies, two of the nation’s largest producers signed on to the program in 2010, effectively ending the industry boycott. The Fair Food Program has now expanded to tomato growers’ operations in Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey.

The Fair Food Program has six major components: a wage increase supported by the “penny per pound” price premium that participating buyers pay for their tomatoes; compliance with a code of conduct, including zero tolerance for forced labor, child labor and sexual assault; worker-to-worker education sessions; a worker-triggered complaint resolution mechanism, with potential  suspension of a farm’s Participating Grower status; health and safety committees on every farm; specific changes in harvesting operations to improve workers’ wages and working conditions; and ongoing auditing of the farms by the Fair Food Standards Council to insure compliance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Food_Program 





Some things that have made me hopeful recently

New York City is taking on the oil industry on two fronts, announcing a lawsuit against the top five oil companies for contributing to global warming and saying they will sell off billions in fossil fuel investments from the city's pension funds.
https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/01/10/us/ap-us-fossil-fuel-divestment.html 

The city of Los Angeles has moved beyond legalizing marijuana to supporting those who were criminalized by drug laws in the past to have a role in new marijuana businesses.
http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/with-marijuana-now-legal-la-goes-further-to-make-amends-for-the-war-on-drugs-20180118 

In a growing wave of sentiment against gerrymandering, an all-volunteer group of activists in Michigan has defied the odds by collecting hundreds of thousands of voter signatures for a 2018 initiative to overhaul redistricting.
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/michigan/articles/2017-11-20/anti-gerrymandering-group-defies-odds-with-2018-ballot-drive 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has delivered a decision that offers a chance to fully empower the state Constitution’s long-suppressed Environmental Rights clause:
“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
http://thephiladelphiacitizen.org/guest-commentary-life-liberty-and-environmentalism/ 





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.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

#173 Heartening

Dear all,
We are back from a rich and intense two weeks in Northern Uganda, struggling a little to pivot into holiday season at home.  There’s tons I could say about our trip, but it will keep.  The message about heartening is the one I want to share this month.
For those of you who get a winter break, I hope it is nourishing.  I take hope in the passing of the winter solstice and our hemisphere turning toward the light.
Love,
Pamela


Heartening

I work with Karen on a hot fall morning to save a witch hazel, growing in what used to be a rock pile in the community garden.  It was planted too close to the paw-paw tree, and it’s dying, probably because its roots can’t deal with all that rock.  Karen has taken over responsibility for this area, which was planted as a pollinator garden.  But she is discouraged.  It is overgrown, too closely planted, full of weeds.  Part of me would choose to be elsewhere, but I’ve been absent from a string of garden work days.  And there is the witch hazel, dying before our eyes. So we prune it way back, then work and work to dig the roots out of all that rock.  After struggling and sweating for a long time, we succeed in getting it loose.  We transplant it into a great pot filled with rich compost, and give it a good long drink.  It’s got to be happier now, and Karen feels joined, ready to put renewed effort into this little spot in the garden that welcomes the butterflies.

This little episode gets me thinking.  It’s so easy to lose heart.  Yet it’s our heart, coeur in French, which gives us courage.  Having Karen heartened, encouraged, matters.  (And though the monarchs who have been gracing our garden with their presence may not engage in matters of the heart, being part of supporting their survival does seem like something that’s worth doing.)  Other examples of heartening pile on each other in the weeks that follow

At Mill Creek Farm, we find the row where the beans and squash had earlier been now totally covered with weeds.  And it is a long row—a discouraging prospect for an overworked farmer.  I am glad to start the process—steadily uncovering a wide swath of rich earth.  I don’t have time to do the whole row.  But that start is heartening to our farmer.  Now that the job is begun and the progress visible, the task of completing it feels more possible.

A group of child care workers want to highlight the critical economic importance of the work we do by closing down together for a day.  We can’t get enough buy-in to all close, but I keep the idea alive, raising it at meetings, then setting up a call with a few advocates from across the state.  The folks in Pittsburgh are heartened by that reminder of continued interest, and come up with a creative, potentially impactful and doable alternative to completely shutting down.  That concept, in turn, heartens others.

One morning, my two-year-old grandson chooses to stick close to me while playing with little cars and animals.  I find hand work to do that helps me stay present, offering ongoing warm and loving attention to his play.  I have to believe that he is heartened by that attention, that the roots of his connection deepen, and his place in the world becomes a little more secure.


An older man recently joined our religious congregation.  Single and handling significant health issues, he nevertheless maintains a positive attitude and perseveres in thoughtful work in the world.  I make a point of greeting him, joining him, offering opportunities for him to be included and supported, thanking him for all he does.  My intention is to give him heart.


I pick a bouquet of flowers for an activist who is facing grievous personal loss.  I take time over cards for others, hoping that the note I write will add to their courage.  And I listen, knowing how good attention can help drain discouragement.


There are so many things I don’t know.  I don’t know if the witch hazel—or the monarchs—will survive.  I don’t know if the time I spent transplanting it—or weeding that row at the farm, or hanging out with my grandson—could have been spent with greater impact elsewhere.  I don’t know if discouragement will overtake people I’ve sought to encourage.  But I have to believe that offering my attention and joining in the effort of another person in a way that heartens them—that gives them courage—is work worth doing.



Blanket

After a long balmy fall
cold swoops in
Overnight the gingkos
drop all their leaves.

In the morning
sidewalk and street
are covered
with a thick soft blanket
of green.



Imagine—A new economy is possible!
Municipal services

According to the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute, cities and towns that want well-run water and sanitation services, low-cost access to the internet, and affordable housing should keep those operations public or run by local nonprofits. Research involving 1,600 cities in 45 countries that have chosen public ownership over corporate ownership, especially of their energy and water systems, shows that these (re)municipalizations “generally succeeded in bringing down costs and tariffs, improving conditions for workers and boosting service quality, while ensuring greater transparency and accountability.”

Both Hamburg, Germany, and Boulder, Colorado, for example, are making their electric power enterprises public in order to shift to green and renewable energy sources.  In France, 106 cities and towns have taken over their local water systems in the past 15 years, in spite of the fact that France is home to some of the world’s largest private water companies. The movement for (re)municipalization is growing and spreading, despite the continued top-down push for privatization and austerity policies.

https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/reclaiming_public_services.pdf





Some things that have made me hopeful recently

Successful ballot initiatives in the state of Maine, that in 2016 boosted the state’s minimum wage, raised taxes on the wealthy to fund education, and introduced ranked-choice voting—and a plan for the 2018 ballot: universal home care for the elderly and disabled, paid for through taxes on the salaries and investment income of the state’s wealthiest residents.  https://inequality.org/great-divide/taxing-wealthy-pay-universal-home-care/

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s plans to divest state and city pension funds from coal, oil and gas companies.  https://www.ecowatch.com/new-york-fossil-fuel-divestment-2518904580.html

A compelling and deeply human TEDx talk by an Israeli man, Ran Gavrieli, on "Why I stopped watching porn”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRJ_QfP2mhU. 

Ecosystems and natural communities on eight acres of land on the island of Kaua’I now possess legal rights to exist, thrive, regenerate, and evolve, the first Rights of Nature conservation easement on the Hawaiian Islands.  https://celdf.org/2017/12/press-release-first-rights-nature-easement-established-hawaii/




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. 

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.