Saturday, August 19, 2017

Signs and symbols

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

#168 Good food

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



Good food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



 Harvest

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




Imagine:  A New Economy Is Possible!
Community resilience

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

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

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

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

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




Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

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

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

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

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




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

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

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


More resources

www.findingsteadyground.org

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

Recent posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 24, 2017

#167 Rethinking security

Dear all,

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

Love on this beautiful summer evening,
Pamela




Rethinking security

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

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

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

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

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

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






Riches

In my mailbox this morning—

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

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

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

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

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

I am awash in riches.






Imagine:  A new economy is possible!
Farm to school

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






Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

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

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

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

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





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

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

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


More resources

www.findingsteadyground.org

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

Recent posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

#165 Good job?

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


Good job?

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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





Line and space

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

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

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

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



Imagine:  A new economy is possible!

Cooperative ownership

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

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




Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

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

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

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

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





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

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

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


More resources

www.findingsteadyground.org

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

Recent posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Pamela Haines
215-349-9428

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

www.pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com

#164 Finding Steady Ground

Dear all,
Well here we are, all doing our best in hard times.  A good challenge for me is to find something every day that is fun, or that gives me joy.  Grandchildren help.  Yesterday it was the adventure of grafting a bit of our big old apple tree onto some new root stock in the community garden.  Catching glimpses of the moon always makes me smile--and now there are the crocuses.  My offering this month is also something that has given me joy. 
If you'd like to catch up with my life in more detail, let me know and I'll be glad to send a copy of the family letter we write every Valentine's Day.
As always, I send my very best.
Love,
Pamela




Finding Steady Ground

I doubt that I’ve been alone recently in wondering how best to respond to a rapidly changing and very troubling political situation.  The needs and possibilities seem endless!  I found myself wishing that somebody would look me in the eye and say, “Pamela, I know you.  I know your life situation and I know your strengths.  Here is a piece of work that needs doing that is just the right match.”

Well I mentioned this to my friend Daniel as we were catching up earlier this month, and he said, “I have something for you.”  His attention had been very much on the many activists he knew who were struggling mightily to keep it together in these hard times. He pulled out a draft of a project he was working on, an idea for helping to keep such people grounded.  When he said he could use some help with the writing and follow-up, I knew I had my answer.


We get so many messages these days with a common urgent tone: “The situation is dire; if you don’t act now, all will be lost!” The groups that send them out have mastered the art of playing on our fears.  They dangle small acts of resistance or solidarity in front of us, building their mailing lists on our response but doing little to nourish our sense of agency or well-being.  Daniel wanted to offer an alternative, a handful of regular sane practices that would help folks stay both grounded and in motion:  Think about where and how you get your news.  Have face-to-face contact with others who care.  Reflect on your love for people who are vulnerable.  Take in stories of courage and resistance.  Stay creative.  Limit your screen time.  Share what you learn.  What if tens of thousands of people got invitations like that instead?


So I helped Daniel write the invitation and the seven commitments to weekly grounded practice, and he launched a Finding Steady Ground FB page and website.  As we worked our networks, the views and likes started growing.  Clearly this approach had hit a nerve.  Then, what a thrill to open one of those mass e-mail messages, this one from 350.org, and read about Finding Steady Ground!  (The fact that Daniel is on their international staff helped, but he was equally thrilled that they agreed to do it.)


By this time, 90,000 people had taken a look, with thousands signing up to get on-going encouragement.  We decided to start with the first commitment, about limiting over-consumption of “news”.  What could we say that would be useful to all these people looking for help?  I just wasn’t sure. Then one morning I had an idea about addiction, and how consuming bad news was kind of like consuming junk food--with that continuous pull to take one more bite.  So I wrote a draft, Daniel created a larger frame for the message, I edited, and he worked the technical end.  Then when responses to that follow-up message started coming in, he gathered, I winnowed, and he set the time-line for the next step.  And so it goes.


He runs the project and sets the pace, countering the tendency toward reactive and frantic urgency with a relaxed intention that it be good for us as well.  I follow his lead, offering my skills, and companionship on the journey.  He has given a great gift to me as, I have come to realize, I am giving to him.  I am reminded of how essential these simple acts of friendship and solidarity are as we work together on mending the world.

www.findingsteadyground.com




Pine barrens

A bird calls out—two clear whistling notes
I whistle back, trying to match those tones
as clear and pure and strong as I know how.

A pause, he calls again, I whistle back
Three more times we call those two clear notes
first from above and then from far below.

Coincidence perhaps, or maybe not.
I choose the miracle—astonished joy.
That tiny heart and mine alive as one.




Imagine:  A New Economy is Possible!
Paid Leave

Washington, D.C. has passed one of the country’s most generous paid leave policies, guaranteeing eight weeks of paid time off for new parents, six weeks for those caring for sick family members, and two weeks of personal sick time.

The D.C. law will use a “social insurance model” funded through a 0.62 percent payroll tax on all private sector employers. This tax will amount to just $186 per year for an employee making $30,000.

The formula for employee reimbursement is designed to help reduce racial and economic disparities in the District: the lower an employee’s weekly pay, the higher proportion of that pay he or she will receive.
http://inequality.org/narrowing-paid-leave-divide/




Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

Seattle City Council recently voted unanimously to terminate a valuable city contract with Wells Fargo because of the bank's investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline. The city will consider “socially responsible banking and fair business practices” as a factor in its decision on selecting a new bank.  http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/seattle-just-divested-billions-from-wells-fargo-over-dakota-access-pipeline-20170207

After thousands of Polish women went on strike in October over a proposed ban on abortion, effectively shutting down government offices, universities and schools in 60 cities across the country, with an estimated six million people across Europe joining their protest, members of the Polish government stated that they will not pursue legislation further restricting abortion access in Poland.
http://www.care2.com/causes/success-polish-protestors-block-proposed-abortion-ban.html

The many, many examples of people standing up against atrocities and for vulnerable people in our country.

The massive demonstrations in Korea last fall that brought down President Park Geun Hye.
http://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/other/south-korean-president-impeached-over-corruption-scandal/ar-AAlkBOd




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

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

Recent posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Pamela Haines
215-349-9428

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

www.pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com




Sunday, January 29, 2017

#163 Drainage ditches

Dear all,
Since we've all been saturated with politics this month, I hope this offering is a welcome break--its randomness makes me smile.  Though it has been good to be in the streets (twice with grandchildren), and I'm excited to be thinking with a friend about strategies for nurturing the spirits of activists in hard times--stay tuned.
I continue to be thankful for good health, and it's been a blessing this month to catch up with some old friends and be present to a couple of brand new babies and their parents.
Remember that our strength lies in our connections.
Love,
Pamela



Drainage Ditches

What, exactly, is the lure of agricultural drainage ditches?  It started out as simple curiosity, an itch.  A group of religiously based environmentalists, whom I respect and try to follow, were doing a series of workshops at a conference and I couldn’t make the one on drainage ditches.  What had I missed?  What did ditches have to do with earth stewardship?  It was weeks, or maybe months later when I found that enigmatic note on my desk and decided to scratch the itch.

Searching the internet, I found the connection.  Traditional commercial agricultural practice in this country calls for getting excess water out of fields by diverting it into ditches.  If they are lined and straight, they can carry a lot of water quickly and efficiently.  But, as we are learning on so many other fronts, quick and efficient often has a down side, particularly when we’re talking about highly complex and interdependent life systems.

Water that might otherwise soak deep into the soil gets carried away from the fields.  Pesticides and topsoil are carried away with it.  Receiving streams become more flood prone, polluted and over-enriched in a way that chokes out native water life.

So people are beginning to experiment with alternatives to the traditional drainage ditch.  If the water flows more slowly, less runs off at the beginning, reducing flooding. If it can meander, unlined, through a more natural habitat on its way to the stream, it can be cleansed, mimicking the seemingly-miraculous ability of wetlands to transform water quality

I’m glad to learn this.  I feel that I’ve made up for missing the workshop, and am on to other things.  Yet when I find myself, in a time of meditation, hearing the phrase “a channel of God’s peace” inside my head, I have to wonder. Being a channel requires maintaining a flow, so it makes sense to put attention to clearing away obstructions.  But should my goal be efficiency, on the model of those modern agricultural drainage ditches?  If I work to get my channel straight and well-lined, will God’s peace flow through more easily and quickly?  Or would I be of better service as the meandering kind, with more slow-moving opportunities for peace to soak in around me?

Somehow I doubt if I’ll find the final word here.  But following this thread of curiosity and wonder has made me smile more than once.  And I do trust the wisdom of eco-systems—which may be all the answer I need. 





Jeans

I scratch my head
at holes in jeans.

First to go for me is the left knee
always.
It comes from kneeling,
bending, honest work.
(I’m always sad to feel that rip,
a sign of the beginning
of the end.)

But these jeans I see are new
with matching holes—
in thighs and shins
as well as knees.
What work is here?

What have we come to?
Paying others
to create the illusion
that we work?
How can we survive
the battles ahead
if we can’t even
wear out our own jeans?




Imagine:  A New Economy is Possible!
Organic farming, scaled up

The Balbo sugar business in Brazil produces 75,000 tons of organic sugar, 34% of the world market, from a crop of about 1.2 million tons of cane. The transformation from traditional agriculture has taken 27 years, but cane production has improved, energy use has fallen by half, bio-diversity has increased, and all Balbo employees now have access to welfare, medical facilities, and low-cost housing. http://www.wired.co.uk/article/post-organic

Leontino Balbo has designed a new harvester that spreads the leaves and other waste from the cane, providing cover to protect the soil and control weeds. Waste from the distilling of sugar into ethanol is turned into a potent fertilizer.  Tens of thousands of tiny wasps that infect a type of caterpillar that can be deadly for sugar cane are raised and released.  Beneficial species, such as earthworms, are protected by using tilling and harvesting methods that do not compact the soil. By returning some of land to woods, wildlife that had not been seen in the region for decades has come back, while erosion has been reduced.  The most advanced technology is combined with the traditional ways of natural farming, treating the farm as a living organism, and giving nature an opportunity to participate in the stewardship of the soil.  http://wormdigest.org/content/view/252/2/





Some things that have made me hopeful recently

The City Council of Portland, Oregon, which has passed a zoning ordinance that effectively bans all new fossil-fuel-export infrastructure within the city’s limits—including new port facilities for shipping coal, and holding tanks for oil and natural gas—and prevents existing facilities from expanding.
http://www.ips-dc.org/%ef%bb%bf-city-just-banned-virtually-new-dirty-energy-infrastructure/

Teams of African masons trained in the Nubian Vault (NV) technique, who build safe, sturdy, well-insulated vaulted roofs of mud bricks, and train local apprentices on-site, modifying ancient Egyptian technology and making roofing accessible to poor people, by avoiding imported building material that must be paid for in cash.
http://www.lavoutenubienne.org/en/understand

A community land trust that is helping transform an informal settlement around a polluted and flood prone river channel in San Juan, Puerto Rico into a sustainable community. It provides a new model for improving informal settlements in cities without them then becoming unaffordable for the original residents.
https://www.bshf.org/world-habitat-awards/winners-and-finalists/cano-martin-pena-community-land-trust/

The women's march, with over three million people (and counting) in the U.S., and how hopeful it made so many people.
https://women2017numbers.wordpress.com/





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

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

Recent posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Pamela Haines
215-349-9428

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

www.pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com