Saturday, September 22, 2018

#181 Knowing more

Dear all,

I’ve spent time this week with three wonderful people in my wider circle who are having a hard time--the single mom of a toddler, facing the pain of separation and less-than-ideal child care options; a young adult caught in the grip of addiction, trying hard to break free; a 98-year old struggling to come to terms with diminished abilities. I love them all deeply. Even as I grieve over their pain, and over my inability to change their life circumstances, I’m thankful to be part of a community that is holding them up.

Just in the last couple of days the season is turning, from summer to fall. I never tire of the wonder of that change.

Love,
Pamela






Knowing more

The urge to give advice is a strong one. We all want to help, and our suggestions seem so likely to be able to fix the other person’s problems.  Yet the results are rarely what we hope. Recipients of such advice are often surprisingly ungrateful. They can even be downright hostile (think teenagers). It seems that people just don’t like unsolicited advice. We don’t like others thinking they know more about how we should run our lives than we do.

On an individual level, this assumption of knowing more can be irritating. Played out on a societal scale, among whole groups of people, it becomes deeply problematic: men who think they know more than women, professionals who think they know more than working class folks, colonizers who think they know more than native people, passionate adherents to a religious belief system who think they know more than everyone else.

The results of “knowing more”, when accompanied by societal power, can be disastrous. Those on the receiving end of this attitude have been oppressed, coerced, humiliated, and silenced. At the extreme, when one group’s confidence that their knowledge/beliefs are superior enough that the humanness of the “other” is called into question, we face religious/racial/ethnic cleansing and genocide.

No one comes through this process unscathed. Those who are convinced that they know more have damaged or destroyed the feedback loops that would allow them to stay in touch with reality, leaving them separated and diminished in their humanity. As those with less societal power, taught that they know less, are silenced, not only are lives and whole cultures destroyed but wisdom that is critical for our common survival is discounted and relegated to the margin.

People who are arrogantly confident they know more and wield their power intentionally to gain advantage are easy to fault. It can be harder when we are oblivious—trying to do the right thing, but unable to see our blind spots. When we can’t see what we don’t know, what we know fills up all the space.  What if we see forested land and know things about agriculture that the native people don’t know.  Our intentions may be good.  We may even feel an intoxicating high in having the power to help the “less fortunate” with our resources and greater understanding. But we can’t see what they know about forests. We are laying our experiences over the very different situation of others, and crippling our ability to learn from them.

What if we are painfully aware of the blind spots of our forebears, struggling to rectify the injustices that have resulted, all the time worrying about having blind spots of our own in the present? How do we find our way?

One thing we do is listen—hard. We develop the respectful relationships that allow us to learn about the experience of others—about what they know. We may then be able to ask probing questions if something seems inconsistent, rather than making assumptions. We don’t give up the best thinking we have gleaned from our own experience, but we humbly assume that the best thinking of others will be part of the picture and that we may be proved wrong. This is a hard discipline for an individual. It is even harder institutions, where “knowing better” can become rigidified and critical feedback loops be closed off, but the work is the same.

At the core of the way forward are two simple truths. First, none of us know more. If we keep our hearts and minds open to the world around us, we may accumulate insights and understanding. We may even become wise. But that’s a far different thing from knowing more. If anything, it grows our awareness of all that we don’t know.

Second, all of us know something. We know from our own experience, and—regardless of how it conflicts with the opinions, theories, systems and facts of those who dominate—what we know is true.

If we can listen with fierce intention and great humility for the truth of others, while never forgetting that our experience of truth is a critical part of the whole, together we may know enough.






Stand?

I’m offered a seat on the trolley
more often these days.

I could take offense
refuse to be consigned to elderhood
stand up for my ability to stand.
This defiance
this refusal to be labeled as unable
resonates.

Yet who am I to stand stiff-necked
against the kindness of strangers,
assert my lone fortitude
against community?

I am disarmed.
I sit
and am glad.







Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!

Hospital solar
Like all hospital systems, Kaiser Permanente facilities are huge consumers of energy. In early 2015, Kaiser Permanente concluded two major renewable energy deals in its home state of California. Together, these two clean energy projects will produce 50 percent of all the electricity the organization uses in California (roughly enough clean energy to power 82,000 homes) and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 percent, allowing it to achieve its GHG-reduction goal three years ahead of schedule. Kaiser Permanente’s renewable energy model avoids emitting 215,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually.

The deal makes Kaiser Permanente one of the top users of renewable energy in the country and the largest solar energy user among healthcare providers nationwide. How does this improve health? Renewable energy reduces air pollution that contributes to asthma and chronic lung disease, while reducing the potential impacts of climate change that can spread infectious disease.25

https://democracycollaborative.org/content/can-hospitals-heal-americas-communities-0






Some things that have made me hopeful recently


The ruling by a high court judge in Pakistan, on a legal challenge brought by a farmer, that Pakistan’s federal government must start implementing its climate change plans.
http://www.climatechangenews.com/2015/09/20/pakistan-ordered-to-enforce-climate-law-by-lahore-court/

High school students from Jajce, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who successfully defeated a local government plan to segregate their school based on ethnic identity.
https://wagingnonviolence.org/2018/07/bosnian-students-school-segregation-win-prestigious-award/

A Manhattan Supreme Court ruling that quashed Monsanto’s attempt to chill dissent by requiring the activist group Avaaz to hand over all documents, emails, and correspondence in their possession related to their fight against the weed-killer, glyphosate.
http://thegreentimes.co.za/us-court-quashes-monsantos-undemocratic-plea-to-avaaz-to-hand-over-internal-documents/

The Republic of Ireland’s decision to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, the world’s first country to do so.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/12/ireland-becomes-worlds-first-country-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels  They join almost 900 cities, universities, and governments that have divested over $6 trillion from the fossil fuel industry.
https://otherwords.org/if-ireland-is-getting-out-of-fossil-fuels-your-town-can-too/






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 

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, August 4, 2018

#180 Healing river

Dear all,
Well, July was a whirlwind of a month, like a great Thanksgiving feast with way too much to eat and no time to digest. As problems go, it’s a good one to have, but I’m feeling very thankful for what looks to be a much quieter August.  As I slowly unpack and digest, you may hear more about solidarity of all kinds, public banking, investing with integrity, allies to men...
Our big family news is that Andrew and his family are moving from British Columbia to Ontario, not far from where we were just paddling with a community of folks who are becoming steadily more important to us—what a blessing!
And the garden news is that we had a spectacular peach harvest, shared by many in the community, and the tomatoes are finally starting to come in.
Love,
Pamela




Healing river

Our first day on the river was a magical one. Closer to the source than we’d ever been before, our long lines of canoes and kayaks slid between wooded banks, pulled gently by the current at times, rushed along by little rapids at others. Great blue herons stood at attention on the shore or glided from bank to bank.  A bald eagle swooped low over us, then three others soared and circled high above.

This was the Grand River in southern Ontario, long-time open sewer for the industrial towns to the north. One old-timer talked of how it had been fifty years ago, with raw sewage in the water and scant wildlife to be found on the shores.  But dedicated conservationists have worked tirelessly with public officials and farmers to plant trees, improve municipal waste-treatment facilities and reduce harmful agricultural runoff; closure of heavily polluting industries has eased the burden on the water as well.

The river and its banks are coming back to life. Not only herons and eagles, but trout, otters, beaver, badgers and barn owls are back. And an indomitable Mohawk woman wants her people to partake in the healing.

She was inspired by a great paddle down the Hudson in 2013.  Led by the Onondaga Nation, in what is now central New York state, hundreds of indigenous people and allies paddled down the Hudson from Albany to New York City in two rows—to commemorate the first treaty between natives and settlers in 1613. The two purple rows on the white wampum belt signified a shared promise to live side by side, each respecting the other’s ways and rights.

She and two others from the Six Nations reserve and two allies who had all been on the Hudson dreamed together of a Two Row paddle on the Grand, to honor the treaties and protect the earth.  Members from the reserve, plagued by poverty and social ills, could get out on the water, reclaim their natural environment, discover inner strengths, and experience the healing of the river. Though she was thinking mainly about her people, the Two Row paddle would be an incredible gift for the allies as well.

The first year, 2016, a small group of teachers from the reserve and a few others who were committed to bringing back life-affirming traditions were joined by a larger group of eager allies. The second year, folks working in mental health came in, along with some of their youth. This year, the health department was out in force, with more youth.

And so we paddled together, indigenous and settlers.  We watched out for each other going down little rapids and doing the heavy work of portage. We pointed out birds to each other, shared snacks, jumped in at times for a swim. When our arms protested that there was nothing left, we kept going.  We ate and camped and huddled together under a tarp in the rain.

The healing that happens on the river is hard to pin down.  When every stroke of a paddle moves us forward, our worth is made visible.  Our motivation to be our best is nourished in a group that values every member. Strengths are discovered that we didn’t know we had.  The isolation of lonely lives is cracked open.  A way across the chasm that separates settler and indigenous lives opens up. I know of a few broken lives that are healing in this process; I’m sure there are more.

Giving thanks for this healing, I see all that is left to do. While bacterial counts are way down, one elder spoke with pain of the heavy metals that remain in the bottom of the river, endangering the lives of his grandchildren and those to come. While individual connections are strengthened; the great wrongs of land theft and oppression can’t be righted by paddling alone. Once the Six Nations had treaty rights to the Grand and six miles on either side, from its source to Lake Erie. Now they are left with just a fragment of that land. As the western mode of mastery and exploitation that decimated the native population now threatens the very fabric of the ecosystems on which we all depend, we need healthy indigenous communities more than ever.

So, as we open our hearts to the water and to each other, we create the conditions and commitment to do the hard work that lies ahead. Love for the ecosystem strengthens us to face the heavy metals. As people become real for us, issues of injustice come alive. As the river is being healed and healing others in return, who knows how far that healing power might spread?





Crab grass

The heat had been intense.
We longed for cooling showers
some relief.

Early morning and a hint of moisture
on the ground.
I contemplate the lawn
as I have done each morning
through this week—
lush and lovely
save for crab grass here and there.

I long to pull it out
as we did when we were children
living in a helter-skelter house
where nonetheless my mother
had us pull out every weed
that marred the lawn.

It was a restful task
and one that satisfied.
We did it bit by bit
and left each little bit pristine.
Here was a place where perfect order
lay within our reach.
It just took time.

My eyes rest on this crabgrass once again
wishing it away
when I notice drops of water
lying on each blade.

The fine dark blades of lawn grass
stand upright and unadorned.
The ugly crabgrass
squatting low and fat
spreading sideways
mars the beauty
holds the jewels.

There’s a moral
hiding in this lawn
among these drops of dew.
I’ll have it out.  





Dare to imagine:  A new economy is possible!

Low income housing and solar

In Denver, Colorado, affordable housing got a solar boost when investments made through a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) were used to provide a 15-year loan of $2.45 million to the Denver Housing Authority, to build a 10-acre community solar garden. The solar garden will provide enough electricity to reduce energy costs by around 20% for more than 500 homes. It’s the nation’s first community solar project owned by a housing authority, and the largest low-income community solar garden in Colorado.

The goal is to: provide renewable energy choices and lower energy cost for affordable homes; provide hands-on solar job training and employment opportunities for Housing Authority residents; and help meet the City of Denver’s 2020 sustainability goals
https://ofn.org/articles/cdfi-story-bringing-solar-energy-power-affordable-housing





Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

Climate activists in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, https://350.org/action-days-spotlight/?akid=45425.1048214.67h5FX&rd=1&t=10, climate activists in Africa,  https://350africa.org/break-free-2018-heres-what-happened/, and the Pope’s pressure on Exxon Mobil, Eni and BP to make a faster shift to clean energy, http://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/06/09/pope-francis-tells-oil-chiefs-keep-ground/

Ranked Choice Voting, which allows voters in rank their preferences among the candidates: first, second and so on, followed by a simulated series of runoff in which the last-place candidate is defeated, and ballots for that candidates go to their next choice until someone wins with a majority of the vote. A recent study indicates that it is working well, as it spreads to more cities and states across the country. http://www.fairvote.org/ranked_choice_voting_s_midterm_report

An article in our local paper on emotional intelligence among construction workers. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/emotional-intelligence-construction-workers-roofers-union-20180619.html

Philadelphia’s decision to end a contract which allows ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) access to the city’s arrest reporting system—a big win for immigrant rights activists.
http://aldianews.com/articles/politics/immigration/philadelphia-announces-decision-end-pars-contract-ice/53468





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 

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, July 14, 2018

#179 Right relationship

Dear all,

I still find myself disappointed when summer doesn’t bring great expanses of open time as it did in my childhood.  But I’ve had the time to finish a wonderful book on climate solutions (Drawdown, www.drawdown.org), and I’ve certainly had my share of blessings: the garden in the cool of the early morning; the sound of wonder in a three-year-old’s voice when he makes a discovery about his world; a native woman from the midwest who not only brought great richness to a series of workshops at a Quaker conference but was able to use the space for her own growth.

The issue of right relationship has been much on my mind, and I hope you find this reflection helpful.

Love,
Pamela




Right relationship:
The  Poor People’s Campaign; a National Call for Moral Revival

I was among fifty thousand people who gathered on the National Mall in Washington DC in late June for a teach-in, march and inauguration of the 21st Century Poor People’s Campaign. Built on the tradition of the US civil rights movement, and reflecting Martin Luther King’s growing clarity in his later years about the links between racism, poverty and militarism, the campaign boldly seeks to bring poor and working people together to transform society. Led by Reverend William Barber, the DC event marked the culmination of forty days of action in forty states around the country, and the launch of a National Call for Moral Revival.

It was a wonderful personal experience, as such occasions often are. Our bus from Philadelphia held a heartwarming microcosm of the diversity of the city, and people were incredibly good to each other—a deeply hopeful sign of what is possible when we come together. It was moving to witness the contingent of steelworkers at the rally—as the white working class can be so easily divided from others who struggle in this country. I loved the shared covenant that demands nonviolent discipline, including a commitment to “never wear a mask, so I can tell my story… in a manner that promotes honesty and trust”. The signs quoting MLK, “We are a new unsettling force,” and Frederick Douglass, "Power concedes nothing without a demand,” framed a stirring challenge.   

The goals of the Poor People’s Campaign are broad, to unite people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality, lifting up the leadership of those most affected. The commitment to building unity across lines of division is palpable. Everybody is included. Nobody is out.

Thus far, the focus has been on building up groups in individual states that can come to their capitols with a show of strength and a willingness to face arrest for their values. What will happen next? I don’t think anybody knows for sure. But this is an opportunity to be on the right side of history. The long and short of it is that I believe each one of us needs to be in right relationship with the 21st Century Poor People’s Campaign.

It’s easy to be moved by the passion and prophetic words of Reverend Barber, but right relationship has to be two-way. There are many possibilities, differing for different people in different circumstances. We can throw ourselves in fully, deciding that this is the movement of our times. Perhaps some of us with greater experience can identify decision-makers and offer insights on what will make the work most effective.  Or we can find a group that has committed to the campaign and support that group’s engagement in any number of ways. We can find one other person who has chosen to be involved, and offer them consistent encouragement, backing and support.  We can make a point of following the campaign and doing what we can to amplify its message.  We can hold the campaign, its goals and its leadership in our hearts. We can stay informed enough to know if/when our relationship might need to change. The one choice that I believe is not available to people of integrity, those who are grateful for the Civil Rights movement and want better for our country, is to stay disengaged.

Being in right relationship requires discernment. What is a role I can play that is a fit for my circumstances, my gifts, and the situation and needs of the other?  Do my reasons for being involved or not involved stand up to testing? Whatever level of engagement we choose, being in right relationship also requires being an open-hearted peer, neither needy nor patronizing, ready to both give and receive.

We may have to try different things in the process of finding our way. We can start simply by joining up (https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org). I’m not sure yet what my right relationship with the campaign will be. Going to DC in June was one step in finding my way. Writing this is another. I’m confident there will be more.





Neighbors

Our neighbors have been acting strangely
as of late
No cheerful singing
They seem snippy and suspicious.

What’s got into them?
When travel seemed to be their thing,
they’re always close to home.

All becomes clear one day.
They were expecting.
Three little baby mockingbirds
in Denora’s great old rosebush.

We are delighted for them, of course
and eager to see the tiny babes.

Our interest is not welcome.
They hover, call out
rush at us with flapping wings.

It’s easy to judge:
Not the best spot to raise a family
on the main garden thoroughfare.
What could you have been thinking?
And why aren’t you more welcoming?
We only want to look, would never hurt.

I have to shake myself.
New families need their privacy,
try to protect their children.
lWhat could be more human?





Dare to imagine:  A new economy is possible!
Biomimicry

According to Dr. Janine Benyus, if you want to build a better world through technology, you simply crib the notes nature has written over millions of years. She lays out four amazing technologies that directly mimic the natural world.

One company has started using trehalose (the sugar that allows brine shrimp to remain in a dehydrated state) for vaccine preservation, which would eliminate the need for refrigeration.  Another has applied the pattern on the skin of Galapagos sharks that reduces bacterial content, to hospital equipment and other products; with no anti-bacterial solution, there’s no risk of creating superbugs. The chemical recipe of coral is being used to make concrete out of repurposed CO2, reducing the carbon footprint of its production significantly. CO2 is also being transformed into low cost plastics, mimicking the enzymes of plants.

https://innotechtoday.com/4-nature-inspired-sustainable-technologies/





Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

This year, for the first time ever, U.S. corporations must disclose the ratio between their CEO pay and the pay of their company’s median worker, a potential game changer in the struggle against inequality.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2018/02/21/as-companies-reveal-gigantic-ceo-to-worker-pay-ratios-some-worry-how-low-paid-workers-might-take-the-news

The Uttarakhand High Court in India has declared the animal kingdom as possessing rights, according the status of "legal person or entity" to animals in the state.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/uttarakhand/uttarakhand-hc-declares-animal-kingdom-a-legal-entity/615099.html

Care workers in women-dominated industries will get pay rises worth up to a $5000 a year after a historic settlement with the New Zealand government, in recognition that some jobs pay less because they are done mainly by women.
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11840364

By ruling to leave in place a lower court decision mandating that the state of Washington replace salmon blocking culverts with passable ones, the Supreme Court upheld the treaty rights of tribes to have sustained access to their First Foods: salmon.
http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/supreme-court-affirms-native-american-treaty-rights-to-harvest-salmon-20180611





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 

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

Sunday, June 3, 2018

#178 On bail

Dear all,

At a workshop I went to in May, I got a clearer picture of the relationship between looking squarely at our earliest childhood defeats—which often involved settling for disconnection—and reclaiming our ability to act on our full power in the present. I’m excited about moving forward with a vision that more is possible.

And I had a lovely conversation with our five-year-old grandson the other day about what makes a family and how you can decide that people are part of your family. I give thanks for family that has extended beyond biology—through our neighborhood to other parts of the country and across the ocean.  There’s more potential for loss of course, but overall, what a blessing!

Love,
Pamela





On bail

As one small step in the long journey to end mass incarceration, several of us ventured through a metal detector and down a flight of stairs to the small basement room in our city where bail hearings take place. There we found the court players separated by a glass wall from a few benches for observers. Each of them works with a long computer list of names, with access to the nature of the charges. There are tall stacks of thick reports as well. People who have been arrested appear via a video screen from where they are being held at different police districts around the city.

Many of the individual hearings take less than a minute. The bail commissioner, or magistrate, verifies the person’s name, reads the charges, lets them know their court date and warns that if they don’t show up a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Then comes the question of bail. Sometimes this is done with minimal consultation. With a simple DUI or drug possession case, the person is often now released on their own recognizance—signing for bail without having to pay anything.  Sometimes the commissioner wants more information and enquires about previous arrests or detainers (requests that a person be held in relation to another charge). Sometimes it’s more complex. The DA’s representative suggests a bail amount, the Public Defender counters. The commissioner may ask for their reasoning. Then s/he decides, announces the amount of the bail, and the next person in line is brought in.

We learned from a fellow observer at the second session that the hearings are held every four hours, 24 hours a day, with different court personnel rotating in and out. With such a steep learning curve, all we could do at first was try to follow along. By the end of the afternoon, however, we had gotten our bearings and could start to reflect on the nature of what we were witnessing.

Everyone was focused on “just the facts”, as the conveyor belt on their assembly-line job brought an endless stream of human misery—oppression, straitened circumstances, addiction, poor judgment. The one sign of shared humanity we witnessed was with a veteran charged with DUI and damage of another vehicle. The commissioner probed to learn that he had served in Afghanistan, made a point of telling him about court programs for veterans, and thanked him for his service. 

It was hard to watch people attempting to dispense justice in the midst of such an unjust system. There was no uniform treatment here. The commissioner and DA’s rep in the second session were both much more punitive than those in the first. At one point, the latter recommended a bail of $300,000! That the commissioner came down to $50,000 was probably of scant comfort to the guy on the screen. The $5000 required up front was clearly beyond his reach or the reach of anybody else we saw that day. Even the challenge of finding $500 for bail of $5000 would keep most of these folks in jail or send them straight to the bail bondsmen and their extortionate rates.

Did any of the thirty or forty people we observed need to be behind bars before their arraignment? Maybe the guy who had missed 23 of his last 26 court appearances.  Possibly the two who had threatened family members. If so, then why not just say that those few are too much of a danger to society, rather than using a bail system that punishes the poor and lets the rich buy their way out? In the bigger picture, the people who are seriously endangering us and eroding the quality of life in our country have fat wallets, work in high places and would never be caught by this system.

I carry the weight of what we witnessed with me. How can those of us who have some protection from this part of our penal system (I hesitate to call it criminal justice) take in its enormity?  How can we face squarely the incredible injustice and pain that permeate it, and acknowledge how we have acquiesced to its existence? In a situation where silence implies consent, what needs to happen for us to speak out?






Scorning fear

The shirt in the pricey store window
was designed to jar the eye.

Did its creator feel a flutter of fear
in making that bold choice?
Was it sweet to scorn the fear
and forge ahead?

We need our courage.
If only it could be harnessed
to a higher good
than fashion.






Imagine: A new economy is possible!
Carbon neutral steel production

Producing one ton of steel generates 600 kg of other materials – including carbon, slag, dust, sludge, heat and gases. ArcelorMittal Tubarão, a Brazilian steel plant is now leading the industry in selling and reusing internally around 90% of what was previously categorized as waste. 

Both new production and recycling of used steel requires significant energy. The use of charcoal in steel production is common practice in Brazil. However, badly managed timber extraction can rapidly increase the rate of deforestation, with its many damaging environmental impacts. ArcelorMittal BioFlorestas has been cultivating renewable eucalyptus forests, rebuilding soils, and improving the overall health of the ecosystem, while using the charcoal to create ‘carbon neutral steel’; the carbon sequestration during the growth of the forest matches or even exceeds the carbon released during combustion for the steel production process.

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/case-studies/new-entry






Some things that have made me hopeful recently:


The European Union’s agreement on a total ban on bee-harming pesticides
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/27/eu-agrees-total-ban-on-bee-harming-pesticides

American Samoa’s success in finally getting their own full-service bank — and renewing energy for public banking in the United States.
https://www.americanbanker.com/news/american-samoa-finally-gets-a-public-bank-and-us-states-are-watching

New Zealand’s ban on all new offshore oil exploration as part of a 'carbon-neutral future'
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/12/new-zealand-bans-all-new-offshore-oil-exploration-as-part-of-carbon-neutral-future
and New Jersey’s ban on offshore drilling.
http://observer.com/2018/04/phil-murphy-signs-bill-banning-offshore-drilling-new-jersey/

An indigenous town in Mexico that banned outside politicians, so they could address their own issues in their own ways.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/03/mexico-indigenous-town-banned-politicians-cheran 






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 

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.


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.