Saturday, February 20, 2021

#211 Taking and Joining

 Dear all,


In the midst of a very cold and snowy February, I’ve found myself cultivating and harvesting some unexpected fruits. 
  • The seed of a reflection on dandelions grew and ended up being published in Friends Journal, https://www.friendsjournal.org/dandelions-and-domination/ . 
  • A conversation with my friend George Lakey about the importance of tending to vision grew into an article in Waging Nonviolence, https://wagingnonviolence.org/2021/02/envision-or-perish-why-we-must-start-imagining-the-world-we-want/. 
  • And a conviction that those who care about climate need to understand economics has generated an online class series for our peer counseling community, starting with a robust and well-received intro with folks from across the world! 
I’m reminded of all the different kinds of seeds that are out there, just lying in waiting for the right conditions to sprout and grow. 

And here is a reflection that I’ve been holding for a while, as our collective attention has been riveted on the national scene.

Love,
Pamela





Taking and joining

I may have heard of the Navajo in my childhood. I undoubtedly saw images that got lodged in my brain. I do remember, as a young adult, driving through a reservation in the Southwest, and feeling uncomfortably like a voyeur. My most substantial introduction came with a series of mystery novels set in Navajo land. They were well-written, sympathetic, full of details of daily life, and I was captivated.

I had picked up a critical overall perspective on our country’s past and present treatment of its native population as a young adult, but was well past middle age before I decided that more was required of me in this area. I began reading in more depth. Following my sister, I took steps that eventually grew into rich connections and real relationships with members of the Haudenosaunee nation. I started the painful work of confronting my settler identity. I looked for and found ways to engage in the struggle around Standing Rock.

During this time, I picked up a book of short stories set on a native reservation, by an author whose name was familiar, prepared to deepen my experience in yet another way. When something about the tone didn’t sit well I looked him up, to discover that he was of European descent and had chosen the genre for its market appeal. The feeling of violation was visceral. The people whom he claimed to be representing had been used, in a way that turned my stomach. My trust in the integrity of the storyteller had been violated as well. The painful shock of this up close and personal experience with Native cultural appropriation helped me to recognize it in other places and be clear about the harm it caused, whether as a punch in the gut to a Native person or through the insidious distortion of history and reality for the rest of us.

Finding myself with all my pores open to Native experience, a news item that COVID was spreading on the Navajo Nation, and that they were struggling to contain the flow of outside traffic through the reservation, went to my heart. This was at the same time that my partner and I were working our way through an archive of Native films that a friend had shared with us. Three were about the Navajo—a girls’ basketball saga; a coming-of-age story told by a woman who was returning to the reservation in search of her roots; and one with a rich mix of the experience of acting in old westerns, losing a child to missionaries, and the health impacts of uranium mining. Though I could no longer enjoy those well-plotted mysteries set by an outsider in the Four Corners, I was finally getting to see through the eyes of trustworthy sources.

And then two more things happened. I had been getting to know a lovely and passionate young woman, and just as I had found a way to invite her into even closer connection she said that she was heading back to the Navajo reservation to be with her grandfather who was dying of COVID. Within a week I got a message out of the blue from a rabble-rousing friend from my young-adult years who had gone into public health and adventured in Cuba and Guatemala along the way. He was now at the federal Center for Disease Control, working on containing COVID with the health department of the Navajo Nation.

For so many years, my relationship to the Navajo had been all about me. From a mixture of incomplete history, fragmented and romanticized images, and tales of questionable authenticity, I had constructed a story that satisfied my needs for some kind of safe familiarity. While I wasn’t engaged in cultural appropriation for fame or profit, I was essentially a taker.

Now, having immersed myself in Native voices, done some work, and gained the benefits of relationship building closer to home, I was finding my way toward more solid ground. Through the people who shared themselves in those videos, my new friend and her grieving family, my old friend and the health care workers he is getting to know, I could connect with real people, with their love for a real place, with real present-time joys and sorrows. I could hear the echoes from the past, and glimpse a place for me in a future that includes us all.






Kind and nice

Nice is a coating, an armor
It tends to outer things, can soothe or scare.
Who knows what lies beneath?

Kind has a power source deep inside
It pushes out from inner realms
Can pierce through nice.






Dare to Imagine:  A new economy is possible!
Zero Waste


The roots of Zero Waste in Europe were in Capannori, a town of 46,700 in Northern Italy. After a successful citizen-led movement against a proposed incinerator, the town committed in 2007 to send zero waste to landfills by 2020. Residents were consulted door to door; bins, bags and composting kits were provided; a new tariff on measured waste was introduced; composting, recycling, reuse and upcycling were encouraged; disposable diapers were subsidized; milk was provided direct from farmers with almost all customers providing their own containers; cloth shopping bags were distributed to all households; the use of disposable cutlery was halted in schools and other government settings.

With this proactive, holistic approach and the involvement of residents in all stages of policy development, the municipality now has one of the highest waste segregation rates in Europe, with 82% of its waste sorted. The money city council has saved on waste recycling has been spent on a reduction in waste tax per capita and building a composting plant, and new workplaces have been created in the region. Everybody benefits: the cheapest waste for buyers, municipalities and the environment is that which is never created. Today hundreds of European municipalities are following the example of Capannori.

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/waste/ten-zero-waste-cities-how-capannori-inspired-other-european-municipalities-on-zero-waste-68623






Some things that have made me hopeful recently

The city of Paris, France, is launching a new participatory budgeting project that will allow 25% of the city’s budget from now until 2026 to be decided with citizen input. https://citymonitor.ai/government/civic-engagement/how-paris-participatory-budget-is-reinvigorating-democracy?

Tribal biologists have confirmed that chinook salmon are spawning in the upper-Columbia River system in Washington state for the first time in 80 years.
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/salmon-spawn-again-on-colville-tribes-sanpoil-river/?

In a global first, women will make up half the constitutional convention to write Chile’s new constitution.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/10/30/chile-voted-write-new-constitution-will-it-promise-more-than-government-can-deliver/

Illinois is poised to become the first state in the country to completely end the use of cash bail, with a law passed by the state legislature that is expected to be signed by the governor into law.  
https://inthesetimes.com/article/money-bond-pretrial-fairness-freedom-incarceration-jail-illinois






Resources 

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

Other resources from my friend Daniel Hunter
Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow; An Organizing Guide.  http://www.danielhunter.org/books/building-movement-end-new-jim-crow-organizing-guide  
Climate Resistance Handbook, or I was part of a climate action. Now what? https://commonslibrary.org/climate-resistance-handbook-or-i-was-part-of-a-climate-action-now-what/
Leading Groups On-Line. https://www.trainingforchange.org/training_tools/leading-groups-online-book/ 

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

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

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance  
A book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.
The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
• offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
• frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
• suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
• invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?
To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.


More resources

Posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

Muscle Building for Peace and Justice; a Non-Violent Workout Routine for the 21st Century--an integration of much of my experience and thinking over the years:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)



Sunday, January 24, 2021

#210 Coarse and smooth

 Dear all,


What a time we’ve been through! Now that the inauguration is behind us, we’re no longer waiting to exhale, and are breathing some better air, I’m looking forward to being able to turn our attention to other things. But I think it might still be too early. So I’m going to wait till next month to share some thinking about settler relationships with indigenous experience, and go with a brief reflection on the transition we are currently in.

I’m continuing to love being out in the mornings when darkness turns to light, and am thankful for all the points of goodness, hope and connection that are there to be found when I put my attention in their direction.

Love,
Pamela





Coarse and smooth

With a new administration, many of us are feeling great relief in the break from unrelenting coarseness and constant abrasion in our public discourse. Yet I can’t help but reflect on the reality that many others among us actually found this tone attractive. As I wondered what there could be to love about coarseness, I began to consider that its opposite—smooth—can be problematic as well.

Think of those slick politicians whose oily speeches cover real issues with a slippery coat of fine-sounding words that leaves no place to get a grip. Or think of the smooth surface of a carefully crafted, but ultimately false, pseudo-reality that provides its inhabitants with no way to see, much less challenge, its lies. Or just think of an icy sidewalk, the ultimate in smoothness, and how good it would be to have a little grit beneath your feet.

As someone who has done my share of wood repair, I know that sometimes you need to first abrade the surfaces you want to join before applying the glue. Two smooth surfaces cannot easily come together in a strong bond. Those little wood fibers need to be sticking out, to give the glue something to hold onto.

Now make no mistake. I am thrilled to be free from the unrelenting coarseness that was the hallmark of our last president. The continual abrasion was painful, like having one’s elbows and knees freshly scraped each day, constantly raw and unprotected. I rest deeply in a new tone of civility and kindness. And I have a great respect for the power of courtesy in helping the complex mechanisms of social interaction to function smoothly. Yet I’m not prepared to give up on grit, or on the people who would choose it over smoothness.

What would it mean for all of us who are feeling such relief on the departure of Trump to commit with equal intensity to cutting through nice words to expose painful truths, to challenge a smoothness that chooses comfort over justice, to willingly follow anger to its source? Maybe there’s something to be learned about the abrasion of the sandpaper as well as the smoothness of the glue that together create the conditions for a stronger mend. 





Community service
 
When COVID came
the only reading source nearby
was the tiny free library box
at the corner of the park.

Our house was stuffed with books
we’d never read again
so every morning on my walk
I took three or four to share
all through the spring.

I loved to see them gone,
knowing they’d been chosen,
adding value to a stranger’s life.

By June I finish culling every shelf,
begin to look for free books on my walks,
to save them from the rain 
and from the trash, for higher use.

All fall I bring my little offering
each early morning, straighten shelves
notice what has come in
what has gone.

Then one day, deep in winter,
I see a woman stop, consider
choose a book, walk on—
a human face to this need I have served
for all these months.


 


Dare to imagine: a new economy is possible!


Battery recycling

With the demand for batteries soaring, especially in the growing electric car market, and more than 500,000 tons of lithium batteries being tossed worldwide, we need a “circular” system that builds the next generation of batteries from the materials of the last.

Start-up, Redwood Materials, currently handles all the waste materials and defective batteries coming out of the nearby Tesla Gigafactory, using proprietary processes involving a combination of burning batteries to melt their contents and submerging them in liquids that leach out desired elements, recovering 95% to 98% of the nickel, cobalt, aluminum, graphite, and more than 80% of the lithium. Much of those materials are sold back to make new Tesla batteries.

Another start-up, Li-Cycle, collects batteries at local “spoke” facilities, which shred them into three components: plastic casings, mixed metals (such as foils), and the active materials like cobalt and nickel at the battery’s heart — a dark dust known as “black mass.” Li-Cycle can sell these materials directly or ship the black mass to a central “hub” factory and immerse it in liquids in a process that extracts the metals, including lithium, at 90% to 95% efficiency.  

A more efficient route may be to recycle batteries at a level of renovation rather than demolition, salvaging their larger molecular structure as opposed to their atoms. In the case of lithium-ion batteries, this means replacing the lithium, a little bit of which gets stuck to the battery’s molecular scaffolding during every charge and discharge until the battery runs out of freely flowing lithium. OnTo Technology, a battery research firm, has disassembled recalled Apple batteries, and soaked their active materials in a lithium-rich bath to restore them to pristine condition, with the final product marking the first full fuel cell re-assembled from an industrial source.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/12/amazon-panasonic-preparing-for-demand-of-battery-recycling.html




Some things that have made me hopeful recently. (This month I find myself thinking of groups, rather than events)

The Public Banking Institute is the umbrella under which a remarkable movement is taking place, for reclaiming our public resources from private profit-maximizing financial institutions back to public use for public good.
https://www.publicbankinginstitute.org/

Friends Peace Teams, Asia West Pacific, supports peace workers in areas of conflict and suffering, seeking to restore and nurture peace, share stories of nonviolence, healing and reconciliation, discover our common humanity and celebrate our rich cultural diversity.
https://friendspeaceteams.org/awp/

Ekta Parishad, a mass-based Gandhian peoples' movement for land rights in India, with an active membership of 250,000 landless poor, promotes nonviolence as a way for the struggle, dialogue, and constructive actions towards building a peaceful and just society.
https://www.ektaparishadindia.org/oursuccess

Germantown Residents for Economic Alternatives Together (GREAT), a grassroots and visionary group of neighbors in Philadelphia sharing common interest in working toward cooperative ownership, resource/skill-sharing, and active citizenship where people of the community shape the development that occurs. 
https://www.greatgtown.org/

 


Resources 

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

Other resources from my friend Daniel Hunter
Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow; An Organizing Guide.  http://www.danielhunter.org/books/building-movement-end-new-jim-crow-organizing-guide  
Climate Resistance Handbook, or I was part of a climate action. Now what? https://commonslibrary.org/climate-resistance-handbook-or-i-was-part-of-a-climate-action-now-what/
Leading Groups On-Line. https://www.trainingforchange.org/training_tools/leading-groups-online-book/ 

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

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

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance  
A book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.
The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
• offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
• frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
• suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
• invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?
To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.


More resources

Posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

Muscle Building for Peace and Justice; a Non-Violent Workout Routine for the 21st Century--an integration of much of my experience and thinking over the years:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)


Saturday, December 19, 2020

#209 Well-being and the commons

 Dear all,


I’ve been surprised by how unsettled I’ve felt since the election. Maybe it’s like the lull between storms; you’ve made it through a big one, but are feeling a little battered and not quite ready to face what’s surely coming next. We’re all so tired. It’s been very good for me to start my day with an early morning walk, being present to the world as it turns from darkness to light. And here we are almost at the solstice, another opportunity to celebrate!

As many of us head into winter holidays, I wish us all good nourishment and refreshment, and times that help ground our spirits for the year ahead.

Love,
Pamela 





Well-being and the commons

A young woman I know is deeply engaged in the climate struggle. She has found a home, and increasing responsibility, in a youth movement that is playing a significant role in pushing climate issues toward the center of our political conversation. It’s hard. She works long hours. The stakes are high, there are many setbacks and it’s easy to get discouraged. She misses her family who live far away. She wonders if she’s doing the right thing, worries that she’s not doing enough.

Her therapist tries to steer her toward greater attention to her well-being: Think about yourself for a change. Don’t work so hard. Close your computer at 5:00. Do things that bring you joy. This all has the sound of good advice, yet she feels unheard somehow, dissatisfied.

As I listen to her explore this sense that something has not been acknowledged, the theme of individualism begins to rise to the surface. Everything the therapist has suggested assumes that the solutions will be personal: You are having a unique and separate problem of overwork and accompanying depression. We need to find ways that you, as an individual, can craft decisions and actions that will address this problem and make you feel better.

But what if the problem is not individual? The underlying reason that she is working so hard and feeling so badly about not doing enough is the threat of the climate emergency—the threat to the future of human life on earth. In the face of this threat, many people have responded by resolutely looking the other way, willing themselves to believe that they have no role to play, and pulling their attention away from the reality of what is unfolding around them through pleasurable distractions.

I imagine the therapist wasn’t suggesting that this young woman give up the work altogether. I imagine she was just trying for balance. But in her emphasis on finding a set of individual solutions, she was missing an obvious alternative perspective. If the problem is one that is widely shared, maybe the solution lies in community as well.

It may make sense for this young woman to do all the things the therapist suggests at times. It certainly wouldn’t be good for her to just put her head down, ignore the signs and continue down a path toward deeper depression, burnout and abandonment of the goal altogether. But there’s a third path, a way between endless lonely work for the public good and endless pursuit of private pleasures. It’s not well trodden, but her group is working in that direction, and it may be the one with the most promise for enduring happiness. This is the path of working together for a compelling cause, agreeing to long hours together during stretches when the stakes are particularly high, making shared agreements to rest deeply at other times, helping each other recognize what brings individual joy, and backing each other to do those things, all with a shared eye both on the goal and on each other’s welfare.

This is a path where everyone in a group effort is encouraged to stop and breathe, to share the tiniest successes widely, to leave no possible appreciation of someone else on the team unspoken; where small halts are called for everyone to pursue a private pleasure before getting back to work; where there is enough perspective to discern when longer breaks will add to the overall effort rather than hold it back; where everyone celebrates with abandon at times.

People used to work together to bring in the harvest. We now have a different form of common work to ensure our future. Not all of us will be full-time climate activists. But we could all benefit from bringing more of our work and our pleasures back into the commons. As we find our part in that work, we can sweat together through the crunch times, then dance and sing together in the lulls, gathering strength for what lies ahead.

  



 Crescent

The waning crescent floating low at dawn
fills me as I start my day.

To hope to see her one more time
before she turns away seems bold.

Braced for a moonless morning walk
I almost miss her

Such a tiny sliver, hung so low
my breath is caught.

New moon, then turn my sights to sunset
chafe at all that keeps me in.

Next night I plan an evening walk
timed for after dark, before moonset.

Heading west, I scan for gaps in buildings
knowing she’ll be low.

Press on and on, then find her
hanging beautiful

Serene and constant, steadying
a treasure to behold.

 



Dare to imagine: a new economy is possible!
Cooperative Energy

Cooperative Energy Futures is a Minnesota-based community-owned for-profit clean energy cooperative that focuses on developing renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other clean energy solutions while building community wealth. CEF has financed and developed 6.9 megawatts (about $16 million) of low-income-accessible community solar arrays that are cooperatively-owned-and-operated across urban, suburban, and rural Minnesota, offsetting the utility bills of over 700 Minnesota households for the next 25 years.

As the co-op generates profit, whatever is not reinvested is distributed as dividends to members through a combination of cash and equity. For equity, we invest in new activities that preserve and grow the wealth, for example by financing home insulation and other home upgrades to our members. The co-op creates a democratic process of deciding how much net profit we want to reinvest together versus distribute individually. We also pay community-based organizations for the service of helping us find subscribers, require all of our installation contractors to use at least 50 percent minority labor, and support partner organizations who provide solar workforce training by helping place trainees.

CEF is creating a model where teams of people in every community are working to produce, manage, and wisely use the energy that they need to thrive. We strive to give people and communities agency, power, and decision-making authority over the energy systems that sustain their homes, their communities, and their economy.

https://ips-dc.org/a-minnesota-cooperative-shares-the-wealth-while-advancing-a-clean-energy-future/?utm_campaign=ipsnews-120420&emci=d1f78969-5536-eb11-9fb4-00155d43b2cd&emdi=12d4c45d-5f36-eb11-9fb4-00155d43b2cd&ceid=4288612





Some things that made me hopeful about the election:

How Native American voters helped swing crucial states in the 2020 election.
https://www.colorlines.com/articles/native-american-voters-helped-swing-crucial-states-2020-presidential-election 

Orange County, Florida, the largest municipality in the United States, where voters overwhelmingly approved a "rights of nature” initiative,, recognizing rights of the county's rivers and streams, along with a right to clean water for its residents. 
https://bioneers.org/orange-county-fl-voters-overwhelmingly-approve-rights-of-nature-initiative/?mc_cid=fba9ad1555&mc_eid=862e32f332

Louisiana voters, who rejected a new corporate tax break in a landslide, after their lawmakers earlier this year voted overwhelmingly to ask voters to add a new tax break to the state constitution that would allow manufacturers to negotiate lower tax bills with local governments. Almost as many Louisiana voters rejected the proposed amendment as voted for President Trump.
https://www.theadvocate.com/content/tncms/live/ 

The vote in Portland Oregon’s county, Multnomah, to tax wealth to pay for childcare, including a pay raise for childcare workers.
https://inequality.org/research/tax-rich-school-children-pay-teachers/?






Resources 

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

Other resources from my friend Daniel Hunter
Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow; An Organizing Guide.  http://www.danielhunter.org/books/building-movement-end-new-jim-crow-organizing-guide  
Climate Resistance Handbook, or I was part of a climate action. Now what? https://commonslibrary.org/climate-resistance-handbook-or-i-was-part-of-a-climate-action-now-what/
Leading Groups On-Line. https://www.trainingforchange.org/training_tools/leading-groups-online-book/ 

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

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

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance  
A book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.
The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
• offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
• frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
• suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
• invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?
To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.


More resources

Posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

Muscle Building for Peace and Justice; a Non-Violent Workout Routine for the 21st Century--an integration of much of my experience and thinking over the years:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)



Saturday, November 14, 2020

#208 Fear, love and leadership

 Dear all,


What a time we’ve been through! What an uncertain future we face together! I hope everybody is breathing deeply, finding ways to cherish connections, and taking joy in small pleasures.
I wasn’t sure what I had to offer this month till this came to me as I was waking up. It will be available to be shared on my blog site: http://pamelalivinginthisworld.blogspot.com/2020/11/fear-love-and-leadership.htm

And if you’re looking to pay attention to something else entirely, here’s an opportunity to learn about and contribute to the urban farm that I have been working with for many years, Mill Creek Farm. If anybody would like to contribute to this fundraiser in my name, I would be honored!

Love,
Pamela





Fear, love and leadership

In the wake of this stormy election, and as the waters continue to swirl, what I can’t stop thinking about is how scared we all are. In a bitterly divided country millions of us have been scared that the other side would win. We are so separated, and the more separated we are, the easier it is to demonize. Our deepest fears get projected on the “other”.

I know this is an issue that has caused bitter conflict and divided families. So it was enormously heartening to hear from two people I know with family members who are solidly in the category of “other”. But these two women simply refuse to be divided. They decided that love could win over fear. They dug deep to stay grounded in their love, to stay confident that we are all good, to hold to a belief that ultimately we all want the same things. They decided not to try to convince their family members about the rightness or logic of certain beliefs or points of view, but to tend deeply to the relationships.

This is what I want for all of us. It requires a lot. When we’re scared, it’s easy to feel like victims, to feel jerked around by others who have more power, or are led by people who have more power. And when we feel jerked around, it’s not easy to stay grounded in love. It’s certainly not easy to practice new forms of leadership—to lead in places where we’re not used to leading, or to follow leadership that we’re not used to following. Yet our times are calling out for the courage to try.

In this process, we’ll have to give up some assumptions about “the other”. To lead well, we have to like people. We have to hold out a vision that includes them. We have to have some compassionate and respectful understanding of the ground on which their beliefs have grown. We have to cultivate the humility to be open to learning from them, even as we may continue to hold out a different perspective.

To be led may be even harder. What would it take to listen for truth in someone we’ve never considered as an equal, or have learned to despise? Can we face the possibility of being changed? What would it mean to be genuinely curious to learn how someone ticks—either from a position of trying to lead, or trying to follow? Can we imagine finding a heart connection with somebody we had thought was outside the fold and lost to us forever?

I have to believe that whatever we might be required to give up in this process is something that we would be better off without. No matter how closely we have clung to it, no matter how central it has seemed to our definition of who we are, if we approach this project of “de-othering” with integrity. nothing of enduring value will be lost and we will emerge more fully human.

This doesn’t mean everything else has to stop. We get to continue to mobilize around policies we care about. We get  to share our thinking as clearly and compellingly as we know how. We get to strategize about how to win. But ultimately, this deeper work of the heart may be what saves us as a people.





Election Day evening 

After that great storm of effort
comes a lull. Nerves are jangled
nothing left now but to wait.
The color of the sky calls out.
Another storm? I step outside
into a sunset so intense
it takes my breath away.
A man around the corner stands and looks.
I had to come outside, he says.
All around the block
beauty greets me every way I turn.
Heading west into its glowing fire
a stranger stops me, calls a blessing.
Touched, I take it in
and then continue, drawn on by the light.
Another block, another greeting
What goodness has this night called out?
The color slowly fades.
Back in the dark to neighbors on their porches
all amazed, connected, moved
by such a gift from earth and sun.
I breathe, then go inside and settle in to wait.






Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!
A citizen’s right to food

Belo Horizonte, a city of 2.5 million in southeastern Brazil, has pioneered a food security system that has effectively eliminated hunger in the city. In 1993 Belo Horizonte enacted a municipal law that established a citizen’s right to food. Today, twenty interconnected programs connect food-producers directly to consumers; offer healthy, fresh food at fixed, low costs at public restaurants; provide food directly to schools, childcare centers, clinics and nursing homes, shelters, and charitable organizations; establish farmers’ markets and stands to allow farmers to sell directly to residents; regulate food prices for 25 specific items, which must be sold at 20-50% below market price; create food banks to distribute unused produce from those markets; and establish community and school gardens, in addition to providing nutrition education. The entire program requires less than 2% of the city’s annual budget.
https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2020/11/09/covid-brazil-food-security/

 

 

Some things that have made me hopeful recently

The overwhelming vote in San Francisco to tax companies whose CEOs make a hundred more than their lowest paid workers—or more.
https://inequality.org/great-divide/san-francisco-ceo-pay-tax/

How co-ops are showing resilience and community spirit as the pandemic goes on. 
https://blog.equalexchange.coop/pandemic-resilience/

The world’s largest seagrass restoration project, where 600 acres planted in waters off Virginia have grown to 9,000. 
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/largest-seagrass-meadow-restoration-in-the-world-in-virginia/

After months of organizing that included the establishment of two protest encampments, Philadelphia’s unhoused people successfully pushed the city to agree to provide housing through a community land trust.
https://truthout.org/articles/philadelphia-agrees-to-provide-community-housing-amid-unhoused-activist-push/
 



 
Resources 

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

Other resources from my friend Daniel Hunter
Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow; An Organizing Guide.  http://www.danielhunter.org/books/building-movement-end-new-jim-crow-organizing-guide  
Climate Resistance Handbook, or I was part of a climate action. Now what? https://commonslibrary.org/climate-resistance-handbook-or-i-was-part-of-a-climate-action-now-what/
Leading Groups On-Line. https://www.trainingforchange.org/training_tools/leading-groups-online-book/ 

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

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

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance  
A book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.
The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
• offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
• frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
• suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
• invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?
To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.


More resources

Posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

Muscle Building for Peace and Justice; a Non-Violent Workout Routine for the 21st Century--an integration of much of my experience and thinking over the years:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)


Fear, love and leadership

 


Fear, love and leadership

In the wake of this stormy election, and as the waters continue to swirl, what I can’t stop thinking about is how scared we all are. In a bitterly divided country millions of us have been scared that the other side would win. We are so separated, and the more separated we are, the easier it is to demonize. Our deepest fears get projected on the “other”.

I know this is an issue that has caused bitter conflict and divided families. So it was enormously heartening to hear from two people I know with family members who are solidly in the category of “other”. But these two women simply refused to be divided. They decided that love could win over fear. They dug deep to stay grounded in their love, to stay confident that we are all good, to hold to a belief that ultimately we all want the same things. They decided not to try to convince their family members about the rightness or logic of certain beliefs or points of view, but to tend deeply to the relationships.

This is what I want for all of us. It requires a lot. When we’re scared, it’s easy to feel like victims, to feel jerked around by others who have more power, or are led by people who have more power. And when we feel jerked around, it’s not easy to stay grounded in love. It’s certainly not easy to practice new forms of leadership—to lead in places where we’re not used to leading, or to follow leadership that we’re not used to following. Yet our times are calling out for the courage to try.

In this process, we’ll have to give up some assumptions about “the other”. To lead well, we have to like people. We have to hold out a vision that includes them. We have to have some compassionate and respectful understanding of the ground on which their beliefs have grown. We have to cultivate the humility to be open to learning from them, even as we may continue to hold out a different perspective.

To be led may be even harder. What would it take to listen for truth in someone we’ve never considered as an equal, or have learned to despise? Can we face the possibility of being changed? What would it mean to be genuinely curious to learn how someone ticks—either from a position of trying to lead, or trying to follow? Can we imagine finding a heart connection with somebody we had thought was outside the fold and lost to us forever?

I have to believe that whatever we might be required to give up in this process is something that we would be better off without. No matter how closely we have clung to it, no matter how central it has seemed to our definition of who we are, if we approach this project of “de-othering” with integrity. nothing of enduring value will be lost and we will emerge more fully human.

This doesn’t mean everything else has to stop. We get to continue to mobilize around policies we care about. We get  to share our thinking as clearly and compellingly as we know how. We get to strategize about how to win. But ultimately, this deeper work of the heart may be what saves us as a people.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

#206 Wood chips, elections and miracles

 Dear all,


As we continue to be battered by bad news, back-to-school challenges, and growing fears around the election, I wanted to share a perspective on staying active and grounded. A gift for me recently has been the opportunity to get out each evening for over a week to greet the moon as it has steadily grown from the thinnest crescent on its way to fullness.

I wish you all the best as we find ways to stay upright, connected, and alert to the joy and beauty that is there to be claimed.

Love,
Pamela




Wood chips, elections and miracles

It’s a small dilemma. An enormous pile of woodchips has been dumped in the lot by the community garden, and needs to be moved quickly. We’re urged to all come out on Saturday to weed and haul loads of chips to mulch the paths and common areas. I want to do my part, but am not eager to work in a crowd. On a morning walk I look at the front garden. I know that garden better than anybody. I could come early, commit to finish weeding before the crowds so it would be ready to mulch. I breathe a sigh of relief. That’s the part of the job with my name on it.

What if we all could do the same on a larger scale? As we approach a momentous election, I keep being reminded of a message from theologian Walter Wink—that our job in this world is to listen for what is ours to do; do it faithfully, no less and no more; and then wait in quiet confidence for a miracle.

If we don’t take the first step, our plates can easily be filled with activities that ultimately have little meaning. If we listen but hold back because of our fears and do less than what is ours to do, then we are settling for a version of ourselves that disrespects our inherent power. If we try to do more, we are likely to end up vibrating to the siren of urgency, or laboring under the weight of guilt or obligation, which not only damages the quality of our lives, but limits our effectiveness.

The last step—to wait in quiet confidence for a miracle—seems hopelessly na├»ve yet somehow profoundly right. If we’ve done our best, then what choice do we have but to wait? And what more powerful way to wait than in quiet confidence? And why settle for anything less than the possibility of a miracle?

So let’s take a stand against the grip of helplessness and hopelessness, and stay open to the reality that there is always something for each of us to do. Hold on to the fact that what we do matters, even though it may be a small part of the whole. Then do it. Be willing to try hard things. Welcome the feelings of fear, loss and outrage that are loosened free as we push against old limits. Do more than we thought we were capable of.

But if we begin to be caught up in the whirlwind of urgency, or pulled down into the quicksand of burdened obligation, it’s time to stop and take a breath. We have entered into the territory of too much. Whether it’s too much work or too much unprocessed emotion, it’s a sign that we need to stop, get some attention, and listen freshly for what belongs on our plate.

I spend about four hours a week helping to ground a handful of climate activists in Sunrise who are mobilizing thousands of young people around the election. Rather than doing direct electoral work myself, I committed to actively sharing opportunities with people who were casting around for something to do. I’ve stayed in close with a diverse circle of friends, and when one shared her plan to encourage voting in a poor urban neighborhood, I did a little fundraising campaign to support her efforts. I decided to prioritize a weekly check in with a friend who is teetering on the brink of overwhelm in her youth work. I invited members of a class I teach to listen to each other on the stupidest things they could do this election season, and things that might be smarter. I decided to respond with an unqualified yes to a dear friend’s request for my thinking and writing support for his project on preparing for a possible coup.

All of this has a rightful place on my plate. It fits my unique circumstances and strengths, and it is not too much. Everyone’s plate will look different; everyone’s work will count. And I really believe that if I do what is mine to do, cheerfully, fully, and to the best of my ability, grounded and alert to the possibility that there may be something else with my name on it, there’s nothing left but to wait in quiet confidence for a miracle.

The pile of wood chips did not disappear that Saturday, despite the good intentions and hard work of many people. So I have had more opportunities to consider my part. The latest came early this morning when I was happily hauling mulch and reflecting on this question of what is ours to do. As phrases—about no more and no less, about the sirens of urgency and the weight of obligation—started coming into my brain, I realized that what was mine to do right then was to stop, go home, and write.

 



Hemlock cathedral

Step out of the bright hot sunshine
busy with sights and sounds
into the cool cathedral hush
of hemlock gorge
tall ceiling of green filtered light
quiet forest floor.





Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!

A People’s Economy in Toronto: 

The Parkdale People’s Economy is a network of over 30 community-based organizations focused on building just local economies and community wealth in the Parkdale neighborhood of Toronto. During the pandemic, members of Parkdale’s People's Economy have been active in the fight against evictions in their neighborhood as they continue their long-term work to build a local solidarity economy ecosystem with participatory planning, community land trusts, community food distribution, local currencies, and more. Get policy tools to advance a People’s Economy in your own community.
http://parkdalepeopleseconomy.ca/ 
 

 


Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently announced plans to ban sales of gas cars by 2035 in a state that has the fifth-largest economy in the world.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-to-ban-sales-of-new-gas-powered-cars-starting-in-2035-11600882738

How one small stretch of Italian coastline went from a hotbed of drug smuggling to a model of ecological restoration, with the fishing community playing a critical role
https://www.yesmagazine.org/environment/2020/08/24/how-to-save-the-ocean-fishing-community-lessons/

How one small cemetery in Ohio preserved a natural prairie habitat that has allowed for the preservation of vital prairie species.
https://trekohio.com/2016/06/30/bigelow-cemetery-state-nature-preserve/

The statement of China’s President Xi at the UN General Assembly, that committed his nation, the world’s largest carbon emitter, to reaching net-zero emissions by 2060.
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/china-s-push-puts-end-of-fossil-fuels-in-sight-20200925-p55zbv.html

 


 
Resources

NEW:  #ChooseDemocracy

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

Other resources from my friend Daniel Hunter
Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow; An Organizing Guide.  http://www.danielhunter.org/books/building-movement-end-new-jim-crow-organizing-guide  
Climate Resistance Handbook, or I was part of a climate action. Now what? https://commonslibrary.org/climate-resistance-handbook-or-i-was-part-of-a-climate-action-now-what/
Leading Groups On-Line. https://www.trainingforchange.org/training_tools/leading-groups-online-book/ 

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

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

Toward a Right Relationship with Finance  
A book that I co-authored on Debt, Interest, Growth and Security.
The growth economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth.  However our institutional endowments and individual retirement are dependent on that same growth economy.  This book:
• offers background on our current economic system--how it is based on unearned income on the one hand and debt on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economy inequality and ecological overshoot;
• frames the conversation within the context of our deepest values and beliefs;
• suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system, particularly with regard to financing retirement; and
• invites everyone to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
With many people now counting as never before on the performance of Wall Street for retirement security, how can this system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness?  Can we break with our dependence on financial speculation and build up new structures of security in a transformed, life-centered economy?
To order the book, or read it on line, go to http://www.quakerinstitute.org/?page_id=5 and scroll down.


More resources

Posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

Muscle Building for Peace and Justice; a Non-Violent Workout Routine for the 21st Century--an integration of much of my experience and thinking over the years:  New link: https://www.peaceworkersus.org/docs/muscle_building_for_peace_and_justice.pdf (or just google the title)