Saturday, November 20, 2021

#220 Efficiency

 Dear all,

Well, a lot has been going on in our house since my last post. Chuck got diagnosed with a cancerous tongue/throat tumor, so we’ve been thrust headlong into a big and intense health journey. Fortunately, it’s a type that’s very responsive to treatment, and the supportive communities around us are both wide and deep.

At the same time, I get to announce two writing milestones. My book of reflections, That Clear and Certain Sound; Finding Solid Ground in Perilous Times, is now available for purchase, and I’ve learned that there’s a non-Amazon small business option. I hope you keep it—and my poetry book—in mind during this season of giving. And just yesterday I learned that an article I wrote on public banking for Waging Nonviolence got picked up not only by TruthOut, but by YES Magazine. I’m very pleased!

Then there is the full moon, and harvesting my sweet potato crop with our local grandchildren, and being part of the 50th reunion of the founding of the social change community we came of age in. In the midst of everything, it’s not hard to count my blessings.

Love,

Pamela





Efficiency

As I harvest my little crop of black-eyed peas in the community garden—inefficiently, I’m sure—I think also of the time I recently spent weeding an invasive and persistent weed out of a tiny section of the big flower bed in front. Considering all the other projects that should perhaps have a stronger claim to my attention, I can’t help but wonder about the choices we make about our time.

I was raised on the value of efficiency—doing things with the least possible steps, time, or money: don’t expend any extra when there is an alternative. I’ve lived my life by this rule, cleaning without wasted motion, choosing the shortest route for travel, always on the lookout at a meeting for how we can wrap up a conversation and move on.

It’s good to have the ability to do these things, but as a rule of life, I’m discovering that it has its flaws. Limiting the number of times I go up and down the steps as I clean also limits my exercise. Always taking the shortest route cuts out unexpected beauty and adventure. Keeping the group moving along means lost opportunities to stop and really hear everyone, or share the informal stories that will bind us together and make everything go better.

On a larger scale, the problems with efficiency are just compounded. With cost-cutting division of labor come mind-numbing assembly jobs. With the standardization of products and “economies” of scale, delightful local quirks are squeezed out by behemoth monocultures. A focus on efficiency seems to favor pyramids, with money and power rising from the wide bottom to the tiny top.

The costs and distortions are great. If I am in a position to organize others around a goal of my own choosing, yet have never fully considered what constitutes a meaningful life, how can I design a life-supporting system?  If I have not invested time, energy and love in the caring economy—cooking, cleaning, tending to children and the elderly—how will that work be valued in the places where I wield power?

I can see the lures of being too important for the little things. Looking back to earlier periods of my life I realize that, as I’ve increasingly discovered my ability to have a wider influence, I’ve spent less time on cleaning and repair and general attention to the calls of my immediate environment. Why prioritize such “low-level” work when I could spend the time writing a piece that might impact the lives of others?

While I could argue that I’m using my skills and talents for the common good, if I’m too busy to tend to the needs right around me, there’s a way that I’m fundamentally off-balance—and contributing to imbalance in society at large. And, ultimately, if my skill with words leads me to spend all my time writing, when do I live the life that gives me something to say?

Efficiency—at its heart a way of maximizing return on investment—may have its place, and may be useful in organizing us around small tasks and windows of time, but it simply lacks the breadth or depth to help with the big questions. There’s just too much we don’t know, too much that gets left out of the picture—and I can see no way to be efficient about caring.

Reflecting on all of this, I’m inclined to defend my very inefficient black-eyed pea harvest, welcome extra trips up and down the stairs, enjoy the scenic route, and clean with greater appreciation. Perhaps I can organize myself around a simple intention to show up to the world as fully as I know how. Realizing that what this looks like will shift as I find ways to show up ever more fully, I can keep in mind that my significance may have less to do with measurable returns and more with my capacity to do small things with great love.





Moon behind clouds

Stepping outside to morning clouds
I wonder if I’ll glimpse the moon.
Looking up to where I saw her yesterday
I follow the arc of that day’s journey in my mind,
pick a spot where she might be.

I see a rounded light spot in the shifting clouds.
I hold my gaze and wait, entranced.
Could this be my moon? I think it could.

Seen or unseen of course she’s there
radiant, whole in the heavens above
and will be there far on beyond my time—
and yet it’s good to lift my eyes and look
in love and hope.





Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!
Worker-owned cooperatives creating their own funding networks

Seed Commons is a national network of locally-rooted, non-extractive loan funds that brings the power of big finance under community control. Because of their unorthodox ownership structures, cooperatively owned businesses don’t fit neatly into most lenders’ boxes. So one group decided to build their own source of funding. Founded by a coop that was struggling to find financing, Seed Commons has grown to bring together worker co-op incubators and loan funds in cities across the country. Loans of as little as $15,000 or $20,000 can be transformational in getting a new co-op up and running; they have now made loans as large as $1 million. Seed Commons can also offer technical advice and training, and access to networks of resources, that are critical to the health of the co-op sector. Seed Commons has now invested over $15 million in a national network of worker-owned co-ops that are building their own non-extractive funding streams.
https://www.yesmagazine.org/economy/2021/02/12/worker-owned-cooperatives-investment-network?
 




Some things that have made me hopeful recently: 

NYC taxi drivers who organized to take on predatory lenders and won, paving the way for future debt relief.
https://inequality.org/great-divide/nyc-taxi-drivers-hunger-strike/?

New banking services that are offered by post offices, testing the possibility of a wider system that could benefit the unbanked.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/return-postal-banking-postal-service-tests-new-financial-services-rcna2502?

Uruguay’s journey from dependence on fossil fuel imports to becoming a renewable energy pioneer, with nearly 100% of its power now coming from renewable sources.
https://www.dw.com/en/uruguay-leads-green-energy-charge-in-latin-america/a-59492982

The move by the Biden administration moving to bar federal oil and gas leasing around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, siding with tribal heritage against economic interests.
https://www.santafenewmexican.com/content/tncms/live/

 
 


Resources

Alive in this World
A book of poetry in three parts: A Home with the Trees, Commuter Encounters, and A Home with the Earth
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alive-in-this-world-pamela-haines/1139506943.

That Clear and Certain Sound; Finding Solid Ground in Perilous Times
A book of essays, many from this blog, available for pre-order till late November
https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/christian-alternative-books/our-books/quaker-quicks-that-clear-certain-sound.

The Financial Roots of the Climate Crisis 
Link to a talk I gave at a church in Houston 
https://vimeo.com/showcase/7910215

Envision or Perish; Why we must start imagining the world we want to live in

An article I co-authored with George Lakey
https://wagingnonviolence.org/2021/02/envision-or-perish-why-we-must-start-imagining-the-world-we-want/  

Money and Soul
My newish 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.


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/   


More resources

Posts on other web/blog sites:

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

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

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

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



Thursday, October 21, 2021

#219 Fragility and healing

 Dear all,

The seasons are finally changing, and the different parts of my life—so many parts!—seem to be fitting into a workable and satisfying whole.

I’ve been struggling with my identity as a writer. Having to market myself—and now having two more book contracts (yikes!)—is really requiring me to stretch. It feels like I’m stepping into alien territory or crawling out of an old skin—facing vulnerability, unknowns, untested strengths. It’s more important than ever to remember that I’m not alone.

I’ve had a precious opportunity this past month to spend several days at the shore with family, immersing myself in a wonderful ecosystem that is full of new delights and mysteries. And the moon is full.

Love,
Pamela



Fragility and healing

There are contexts in which everything will go better if we honor fragility—the special plates or glasses that will break if not handled carefully, but that signal a time of great celebration; a delicate plant that must be carefully nurtured for its full beauty to be enjoyed; the medically fragile humans who are complete treasures just as they are. I’m sure there are many more contexts and occasions to honor fragility and tend to its needs, with love, respect and gratitude. This is an important lesson for me as I struggle with the ripples from life-long training to see just about any kind of fragility as problematic.

Yet there is also learned emotional fragility that drains our lives of possibilities and burdens those around us, and there are wrongly assigned assumptions of fragility that just sow confusion and disempowerment. While we don’t want to lay burdens on our children that are too heavy for their small shoulders, for example, treating them as fragile and trying to protect them from all risks brings its own peril. What if we could see this kind of learned or assigned fragility as separate from our true nature, and keep our sights on building our strength and resilience?

There is a peculiar set of dynamics here among men and women. We live so intimately together—we love and need and hope and despair and hate so openly, and in such close quarters. The story line in the West is that it is the women who are fragile. There may be some biological base in the vulnerability of women who are giving birth and caring for infants. Yet the life that has been pumped into this narrative of feminine fragility seems to be less about the true nature of women, and more about the emotional needs of men to have a counterfoil to their felt need to be strong. Where is the real fragility here?

In the US, in the context of our history of slavery, there is no space for Black fragility in any amount or any form. So we find white men needing white women to be close in and fragile, white people needing Black people to be apart and strong, and Black people experiencing whites as oppressively fragile.

There are compelling indications that nobody who is steeped in oppression—at either end—can grow up without being deeply wounded by it and forced into unnatural shape. The wounds of those in oppressed groups are deep and open, kept raw in the present by pervasive systems of injustice and daily acts of intentional or unintentional belittling. The wounds of those in the dominant or oppressive role can be more hidden—at least to those carrying them—covered over by protective layers of privilege and misinformation and insulation from reality.

As we engage together in the great work of healing, there are different needs. Those whose wounds are raw can be helped by some protective bandaging, by relief from constant abrasion. Those whose wounds are deep and hidden need to start with the kind of painful lancing that exposes the pus that must be drained away for true healing to occur.

We can use each other’s thoughtful help in this healing process: understanding how seemingly small things can affect unprotected nerve endings; seeing the depths of the hidden wounds that may be invisible to those who carry them; making the not-always-welcomed offers of help with lancing. It helps to remember that none of us can be fully healed until the systems of oppression and domination are dismantled, and that all of us have the seed of wholeness within.

Willingness to accept fragility that we can’t control is no easy feat in a culture that worships the bursting health that manifests in youth. At the same time, we are challenged to combat false messages of fragility that needlessly limit us—the assumptions that we are dependent for emotional care on women or Black people, or that the trait of fragility assigned to us, as white women for example, has anything to do with our true nature. Those understandings are the solid foundation for doing the hard emotional work, both individually and together, that will result in true community healing and resilience.





Portal

Sun after rain, the puddles
on this wooded trail are irresistible.
Jump in, jump over, wade through
test the depth of the biggest ones.

The six year old is captivated—
jumps and splashes, but sees more.
Look, he says, and points to a reflection:
It’s a portal to the sky.





Dare to Imagine: A New Economy is Possible!

Just Banking

Triodos Bank, in the Netherlands, is one of the world's leading sustainable banks, and one that gets a high rating from Ethical Consumer. Its mission is “to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change.”


It has extensive ‘minimum standards’ for companies that it invests in, which cover areas such as health and safety, governance and human rights, and screening for involvement in conflict minerals and human or labour rights abuses, and arms-related activities. In 2017, 38% of its loans went to environmental projects, including renewable energy, organic agriculture and other projects across the agricultural chain, recycling, and nature conservation. It ranks at Ethical Consumer’s top for transparency. Not only does it have a clear policy for its investments and lending, it publishes a full list of the companies in which it holds shares.

https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/company-profile/triodos-bank-nv




Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

All the environmental rights struggles—and successes—across the country that are documented in The World We Need.
https://thenewpress.com/books/world-we-need

How the mineral rich Indian state of Chhattisgarh is moving away from mining, and giving fair prices for forest produce and creating more jobs.
https://www.goodgoodgood.co/articles/indian-mining-state-shifting-from-coal-to-forest-fruits-and-flowers?

During the pandemic and recession, farmers are realizing they have more in common with immigrant meatpackers than agribusiness CEOs.
https://otherwords.org/farmers-and-meatpackers-are-teaming-up-for-pandemic-safety/

The growth of bee populations by 73% in Maine, and 14% nationwide in the last two years, as reported by the US Department of Agriculture.
https://mymodernmet.com/bee-colony-increase/




Resources

Alive in this World
A book of poetry in three parts: A Home with the Trees, Commuter Encounters, and A Home with the Earth
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alive-in-this-world-pamela-haines/1139506943.

That Clear and Certain Sound; Finding Solid Ground in Perilous Times
A book of essays, many from this blog, available for pre-order till late November
https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/christian-alternative-books/our-books/quaker-quicks-that-clear-certain-sound.

The Financial Roots of the Climate Crisis 
Link to a talk I gave at a church in Houston 
https://vimeo.com/showcase/7910215

Envision or Perish; Why we must start imagining the world we want to live in

An article I co-authored with George Lakey
https://wagingnonviolence.org/2021/02/envision-or-perish-why-we-must-start-imagining-the-world-we-want/  

Money and Soul
My newish 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.


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/   


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)

Friday, September 24, 2021

#218 Knowledge

 Dear all, 


I think all of us are finding it hard to keep our balance these days as we step into the fall. With both vaccinations and the delta variant, how do we balance new possibilities with caution? With signs of both progressive movement and strong backlash in our country, how do we balance hope and fear? 

In my personal life, I’m faced with balancing on-going commitments with new projects, including moving from deeply intuitive writing to deeply non-intuitive book marketing (and I just signed two more contracts—yay/yikes!) I’m proud, though, of how I’ve been asking for help, and thrilled with what I’m receiving.

It’s been a pleasure to have two young grandchildren join me in our shared love for the moon, as we watched it grow this month from a sickle to stunning fullness. It reminds me of the constancy and beauty and power that are always there to be found.

Love,
Pamela




Knowledge

My daughter-in-law was reading a challenging text for a course she was taking—a philosophical treatise on white supremacy, full of long complicated words and longer more complicated sentences. As she vented about the challenge, I was a little surprised at the intensity of my response. I got mad. I was ready to throw all philosophers and all their stupid long words and sentences into oblivion. But she held out for the validity of philosophy, and I was called to think through my position a little more clearly.

I realized that it wasn’t the field of philosophy that offended me so deeply. After all, there is nothing inherently wrong with “love of wisdom”! It is the weaponizing of wisdom that gets under my skin: presenting knowledge in a way that demonstrates how much more you understand than the deficient masses; protecting your vulnerable sense of self-worth with a show of importance; publicly claiming your membership in an elite superior group. It smells of domination, seems full of the seeds of oppression.

The field of economics has a similar story, where self-proclaimed “experts” created a complex mathematical system to explain the workings of the markets, then built a wall around their new discipline and required those who would enter to master the intricacies of their creation. Those on the outside came to feel that they just didn’t know enough to understand, that they had no choice but to cede the whole territory to the “experts”. Yet “economics”, from the Greek for “household management,” is something anybody can think about. It’s full of values and common sense that those who claim expertise have obscured rather than clarified. Everybody has the capacity and right to engage on this territory.

So, am I saying that there’s no place for expertise in this world? That putting in the effort to master complexity is, at its heart, suspect? Well, that couldn’t be right. We certainly wouldn’t want to hold out an expectation that nobody should know more than anybody else. But there is something about our attitude toward knowledge that needs closer examination.

If we see it as private property then it’s logical to use it to our own advantage, to prop up our egos, to keep it scarce so its value stays high, to hoard and to deploy it for mastery over others. Some may approach it privately, but pursue knowledge for the sheer joy of personal discovery—like my eight-year-old grandson. Others may be on a quest to uplift humanity. Theirs may be the hardest job, because their goal extends beyond the personal. They would choose to serve, yet if an idea is presented in language that blocks understanding it’s like giving and taking back in the same motion. If you really believe you’ve come across something important, then you either need to learn how to communicate it in words that people can understand, or you have to acknowledge that it will be useless unless somebody else does that job for you.

I would argue that, in the process of pushing the edges of human understanding, there is no place for ownership. Our knowledge is part of a shared cultural heritage, a common wealth. Everyone of us who has explored a new idea is standing on the shoulders of those who have come before. Our minds are our own, it is true, yet we do not exist in isolation. And for our thoughts to matter to anyone else they have to find a pathway not only out of our heads but  into the heads of others. For that to happen, they have to be accessible.

Perhaps my passion here grows from the reality that I too have a love for wisdom. I am committed to seeking it and sharing what I find. So the text my daughter-in-law was reading grew from something that I love, but had been twisted into another shape, sharpened and misused. I think the way forward is simple—abandon the lures of private property, claim all our knowledge and wisdom as part of the commons, and keep access at its very heart.

 



Strand of the web

As I weeded at the trolley portal
he would come by on his little city sidewalk vacuum sweeper
and we would say hello—
a small human moment to cherish
as we both tended to beauty in the neighborhood.

Years pass, those public beds make way for other city plans,
our paths no longer cross.

Then, deep in the winter of pandemic,
I see him on my morning walk, closer to home.
Perhaps his route has changed.
Bundled and masked, I smile and wave.
He waves back, but does he know it’s me?
The months go by. I see him now and then
look for a chance to catch his eye and say hello.

Then one day the stars align—
maskless and present, we connect.
His cheerful greeting warms my heart—
a strand in the web of life reclaimed, restored.





Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!
Solidarity investing club supports coops


The Vermont Solidarity Investing Club, with 27 members, has invested all of its more than $60,000 specifically in cooperatives. Each member owns a portion of the LLC, to which they contribute $20 to $200 on a monthly basis.

The largest of VSIC’s current investments is in the Cooperative Fund of New England, which loans money to co-ops, democratic worker-owned businesses, and community organizations. VSIC also invests in other cooperative funds, existing coop businesses and new cooperative ventures, supporting the network of coops throughout the region.

https://www.shareable.net/solidarity-investing-club-helps-plant-a-new-crop-of-co-ops-in-vermont/  






Some things that have given me hope recently:

Locals are interrupting violence in Minneapolis, by sitting in lawn chairs at dangerous corners.
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/minneapolis-nashville-and-baltimore-violence-interrupters/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_medium=weekly_mailout&utm_source=22-09-2021

Farmers have been teaming up with meatpackers, realizing they have more in common with these immigrants than with agribusiness CEOs.
https://otherwords.org/farmers-and-meatpackers-are-teaming-up-for-pandemic-safety/

With Tunisia facing both climate and economic crises, a group of women have started cooperatives and small businesses to protect the environment and create a sustainable livelihood.
https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/saving-seeds-and-lives-tunisian-women-on-the-frontline-of-climate-change-49799?

And a handful of fossil fuel victories!

Indigenous resistance has staved off 25% of U.S. and Canada’s annual emissions, the pollution equivalent of approximately 400 new coal-fired power plants.
https://grist.org/protest/indigenous-resistance-has-cut-u-s-and-canadas-annual-emissions/

Student pressure on Harvard, the world’s richest university, to divest from fossil fuels has finally succeeded.
https://www.thenation.com/article/activism/harvard-fossil-fuel-divestment-won/

After intense grassroots pressure,15 insurers drop the Trans Mountain Pipeline 
https://truthout.org/articles/15-insurers-drop-trans-mountain-pipeline-after-grassroots-pressure/

A federal judge’s rejection of a huge Alaska oil drilling project is the latest reversal of Trump policy and a win for Indigenous and environmental activists.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/20082021/alaska-willow-oil-project-biden-trump/?





Resources

Alive in this World
A book of poetry in three parts: A Home with the Trees, Commuter Encounters, and A Home with the Earth
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alive-in-this-world-pamela-haines/1139506943.

That Clear and Certain Sound; Finding Solid Ground in Perilous Times
A book of essays, many from this blog, available for pre-order till November
https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/christian-alternative-books/our-books/quaker-quicks-that-clear-certain-sound.

The Financial Roots of the Climate Crisis 
Link to a talk I gave at a church in Houston 
https://vimeo.com/showcase/7910215

Envision or Perish; Why we must start imagining the world we want to live in

An article I co-authored with George Lakey
https://wagingnonviolence.org/2021/02/envision-or-perish-why-we-must-start-imagining-the-world-we-want/  

Money and Soul
My newish 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.


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/   


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, August 14, 2021

#217. In common

 Dear all, 


After moving a much-anticipated in-person work event online earlier this month, my mind is on new COVID challenges—how much we don’t know, and how hard it is to re-pace ourselves when we thought we were almost home. I’ve also had the opportunity this month to listen to a group of passionate childcare workers sharing stories about their frontline work in struggling communities, then to assemble a newsletter for work with a focus on race and equity in childcare, another opportunity to interact closely with wonderful people’s stories of injustice, humanity, perseverance and hope.

In the midst of these compelling stories, I also want to make space for my own voice, as we prepare for my book/birthday celebration this coming Friday evening. If you didn’t get an invitation and would like to be present, just drop me a line and I’ll sent a link.

Love,
Pamela





In common


To focus on what we have in common seems like a radical notion these days. In a hyper-individualized and divisive culture, most of our energy is divided between amassing and protecting what we can claim as our own, and sharpening the lines between us and them. Yet giving up what we have in common is a tendency with far-reaching and damaging consequences.

The enclosure of the English commons—a town’s shared meadows and grazing lands—for private ownership and profit was a fateful step toward landless wage labor and urban poverty in the industrial west. Current battles around the enclosure of the commons are being waged on equally far-reaching and ominous fronts—the privatization of our waters, the pollution of our air and oceans, the claim of rights to ownership over cyberspace and even our shared genome. This is a time like no other to vigorously claim a shared right to that which supports all life.

How do we stake a claim to our common rights even as we are experiencing a great surge of othering? Perhaps this is a job of building critical muscles, but in two very different kinds of exercise. On the one hand we practice flexing our muscles of courage, voice and solidarity as we work to ensure common control over the air, water, soil and communication space that support life in our common home. On the other hand we practice relaxing our muscles around the differences among us—disarming our protections and letting down our defenses against the “other” as we reach for a shared humanity.

On the relaxing front, I was struck recently by a story about a couple of men who started up a business that catered to veterans. They chose products that would appeal to that conservative base, and used political humor to market their brand. They supported a man for president that I find depraved and dangerous—in part with an eye toward their own gain.

At this point in the story, I was ready to write them off in disgust. What could we possibly have in common? But adopting this easy and obvious choice as my go-to strategy comes at a cost. If that’s my best tool for handling behavior that I don’t like, and I use it with full-blown righteousness in the direction of these people, what habits am I developing? Who else do I write off? Where do I draw the line?

I think there is a line. Some behavior is so damaging to the commons that it just has to stop—like seeking power or profit from fossil fuel extraction, whipping people up into a frenzy of hate, mass incarceration, voter suppression, worker exploitation. But that’s not these guys.

As I read on, I learned that these are also men who have reached out with consistency and compassion, and at considerable personal expense, to offer returning veterans an alternative to the open pipeline to militarized police work, a pathway to a decent livelihood in the context of caring and community.

We have something in common here. If I want it to grow, uncomfortable as it might be, I think I have to love them. There are lots of things you can change without love, particularly if you have a habit of righteousness and a taste for domination. You can change people’s outer shape and their public face. You can stunt personalities, feed fears, manipulate behavior and oppress whole groups. You can certainly destroy ecosystems. But you can’t get at that internal place that allows for transformation. This requires an openness to touching the heart of the other, and to appreciating the mystery of what we can’t understand.

There is much that is mysterious to me about angry white men, but these guys invite my curiosity. What is it like to come home traumatized from war, to witness the disappearance of your traditional means of livelihood, to have your people’s central place in a country’s history slipping away? What allows some people to hold on to their humanity in the face of great adversity? How can we find each other and fight together for the commons, for our common humanity, for our shared interest in a livable world?

 




Sing

A simple pleasure lost to the pandemic—
gathering round the piano to sing.
In May, with vaccinations
comes a seed of cautious hope.
Would it be irresponsible?
Could we be safe?

Just to be inside another house
seems bold, but we don’t linger there—
push the piano out the open door
onto the deck, bring out kitchen chairs.

Sing through the twilight, sing with the birds
Sing to the neighbors (who clap unseen in the dark)
Sing up hope.






Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!
Community Land Trusts and Racial/Economic Justice

The Community Land Trust (CLT) model was first created and implemented during the late 1960s by African American leaders in rural Albany, Georgia, who were responding to the harsh reality of oppression, violence, and eviction endured by Black tenant farmers across the American South. The goal was to support African American families to own and control land, achieve greater economic security, and fully exercise their legal voting rights without obstruction. Modern CLT organizations are part of a broader shared-equity housing sector typically developing, selling, and stewarding affordable homes that provide security and stability for low- and moderate-income families.  CLTs are most impactful when they can steward land on behalf of the community for the uses desired by a majority of local residents. Examples of CLTs partnering with cities to vision, plan, and implement revitalization strategies that prevent displacement are evident in areas such as 
Buffalo and Houston.

https://housingmatters.urban.org/articles/how-community-land-trusts-can-advance-racial-and-economic-justice






Somethings that have made me hopeful recently (all domestic this time):

The state of Maine is leading the way both in banning “forever chemicals” in an effort to stop climate change, and in shifting costs of recycling from taxpayers to companies.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/15/maine-law-pfas-forever-chemicals-ban?
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/maine-becomes-first-state-to-shift-costs-of-recycling-from-taxpayers-to-companies/2021/07/13/aa6fbe44-e416-11eb-8aa5-5662858b696e_story.html

In a dramatic victory for the American labor movement, last fall1,800 nurses at Asheville, North Carolina-based Mission Hospital voted by 70% to be represented by a union, National Nurses United, and this summer they celebrated ratification of their first ever union contract. The victory is the largest at a nonunion hospital in the South since 1975, and is the first private sector hospital union win ever in North Carolina. 
https://www.nationalnursesunited.org/press/largest-hospital-union-victory-south-1975
https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hr/mission-hospital-nurses-approve-1st-union-contract.html

Local heritage seeds are now available to anyone in Tuscan with a library card.
https://www.yesmagazine.org/environment/2018/04/06/how-tucson-preserves-its-native-food-heritage/?
https://www.library.pima.gov/seedlibrary/

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, started in 1981 in citizen outrage around tax and property laws that favored coal companies, continues to organize for a new balance of power and a just society in Kentucky.
https://www.kftc.org/about-us/our-history






Resources

Alive in this World
A book of poetry in three parts: A Home with the Trees, Commuter Encounters, and A Home with the Earth
Available in paperback and e-book at barnesandnoble.com and Amazon.com.

That Clear and Certain Sound; Finding Solid Ground in Perilous Times
A book of my essays, available via QuakerBooks or other on-line distributors

The Financial Roots of the Climate Crisis 
Link to a talk I gave at a church in Houston 
https://vimeo.com/showcase/7910215

Envision or Perish; Why we must start imagining the world we want to live in

An article I co-authored with George Lakey
https://wagingnonviolence.org/2021/02/envision-or-perish-why-we-must-start-imagining-the-world-we-want/  

Money and Soul
My newish 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.


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/   


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)

Friday, August 6, 2021

#116. In motion

 Dear all,


it was a blessing to be in the midst of woods and water with family members last week, and to offer a set of workshops at a national Quaker gathering earlier in the month on “muscle-building for peace, justice and an earth restored”. Now my attention is turning to getting the word out about my new books (more in the Resource section). I’m planning to introduce them at an online birthday celebration (72—a good strong number) on Friday evening August 20. Save the date if you’d like to participate, and stay tuned.
Love,

Pamela




In motion

When a pond is still, the filamentous pond weed and the tiny dots of duckweed on the surface will multiply and take over, ultimately filling it in. When there is a strong enough current, however, they are washed through the outlet and the pond clears. While I don’t have the power, as one individual, to clean this pond, I can keep unclogging the outlet. As I free up the currents that would naturally be there, the weed flows steadily through. The motion that is critical for ongoing cleaning has been released.

The metaphor between pond weed and the world’s ills is not precise, but there is something about motion that I find compelling. Water in motion has the capacity to clean. Molecules in motion have the capacity of change their structure. People in motion have the capacity to transform—both themselves and the world around them. 

Yet the forces in our society that push us toward immobility around big social and environmental issues are immense. A competitive and individualist culture focuses our efforts on personal goals. With extreme economic injustice, the energies of a few at the top go toward protecting the status quo, many at the bottom are putting all their attention to just getting by. As unrelenting and escalating bad news collides with our culture’s deep-rooted narrative of inevitable progress, we find ourselves disoriented—shell-shocked even—and desperate for relief. This narrative provides little space for engaging with loss and fear, leaving us vulnerable to the ever-growing lures of consumption, distraction and addiction—anything to numb us to emotions too painful to feel.

So what can we do to encourage motion? Water metaphors keep coming to mind. We can start by mining through those layers of consumption, distraction and addiction to the cool clear water of caring—in ourselves and others around us—and be refreshed by this good life-giving water. We all care. Each of us has stories about connection—to the natural world of which we are part, to the communities that nurture us, to a desire to align with justice. Scared by the depths of grief and fear, we can also look for ways to stick our toes in these big waters as a first step. Admit to a little fear. Pay attention to a little loss. Hold hands as we take another step.

Then we can start imagining the possibility of something being better, more whole. If we can’t imagine anything different, we’re stuck where we are. But the “what might be” calls forth motion from the “what is”, creating the beginnings of a current. (Imagining the apocalypse is a different story; though it may be easier, there is no agency involved and if there is any current it leads only to despair.)

We need a vision to hold in our mind—like that clear lovely pond—and we need some sense of ourselves as actors, as part of what creates the current. I think this may be at the heart of the work I am called to—inviting people to motion. Breaking through the story line of the permanence of what is, and holding out a vision of what could be—communities building their own wealth, non-extractive social relationships, regenerated soil, rewoven webs of life. Reminding others of their goodness and capacity. Staying in motion myself, both in ongoing efforts that call my name, and shorter-term calls to action too compelling to be ignored. Listening for what calls out to others and encouraging them to take the first step, knowing that one will lead to another. Broadcasting different possibilities of action linked to vision, hoping that some will land on fertile ground. Celebrating every tiny bit of new motion, while also tending to the well-being of those who have stepped out into the roughest currents, providing an anchor of solidity, a place to unload fears and losses and reconnect to possibilities.

I love freeing up that current at the pond. In a very similar way, I am passionate about helping each other out of the sticky immobility in which we have been ensnared, back into our true nature and in motion toward a world that rings true.





Canoe on a still pond

Eight year old in the stern,
radiating concentration
as the feel of navigation
finds its way into his bones

Five year old, too scared
to venture in just days before
now gamely paddling in the bow

They wobble
circle
straighten

The universe breathes in
exhales
and is glad.

 


Dare to imagine: A new economy is possible!
Divine Chocolate in Ghana

The cocoa farmers of the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative in Ghana own 44% of their Divine Chocolate company. Their cocoa is not grown on plantations, which may require clearing of rainforest trees, but on individual smallholder farms which have been in farming families for generations. Cocoa grows best in the shade of the rainforest canopy and the humid environment the rainforest creates is best for the midges that pollinate the cocoa. This is a major reason why these farmers are actively conserving the tall forest trees. They are replacing old cocoa trees with new seedlings, and actually planting new hardwood trees. Divine chooses not to use palm oil in any of their products because of its destructive impact on virgin forest and its wildlife.
https://www.divinechocolate.com/us/divine-story




Some things that have made me hopeful recently

The passage of a law in San Jose, California, requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/06/30/san-jose-california-gun-owners-liability-insurance/7822623002/

The pledge by the European Central Bank to inject climate considerations into its decisions, the first central bank to do so.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-07-08/ecb-pledges-to-inject-climate-considerations-into-its-decisions

A new law in Maine making it the first state to require its public employee pension fund and state treasury system to divest from fossil fuels. 
https://www.sierraclub.org/maine/blog/2021/06/maine-becomes-first-state-pass-law-divest-fossil-fuels

The Welsh government's suspension of all future road-building plans.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jun/22/welsh-government-to-suspend-all-future-road-building-plans?
 



Resources

Alive in this World
A book of poetry in three parts: A Home with the Trees, Commuter Encounters, and A Home with the Earth
Available in paperback and e-book at barnesandnoble.com and Amazon.com.

That Clear and Certain Sound; Finding Solid Ground in Perilous Times
A book of my essays, available via QuakerBooks or other on-line distributors

The Financial Roots of the Climate Crisis 
Link to a talk I gave at a church in Houston 
https://vimeo.com/showcase/7910215

Envision or Perish; Why we must start imagining the world we want to live in

An article I co-authored with George Lakey
https://wagingnonviolence.org/2021/02/envision-or-perish-why-we-must-start-imagining-the-world-we-want/  

Money and Soul
My newish 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.


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/   


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)