Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Afterthought #23 - Quakers on YouTube

A year after organizing what likely was the largest Clearness Committee in the history of Quakerism to discern a direction for his work, Quaker singer/songwriter Jon Watts has announced where the fruits of his labor led. In collaboration with Friends Journal, Friends General Conference (FGC), and Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS), Jon will create a Quaker-themed YouTube Channel. This brief teaser has me looking forward to Jon’s new ministry.  I expect the adjectives used to describe it are apt: Succinct. Exciting. Informative.

You can join the project’s Quaker Speak mailing list to be notified when the first videos air.  Stay tuned!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Voices of Peace and Social Justice

My remote, island community doesn’t have the best cellular service, so I have yet to acquire a smart phone; the pay-as-you-go flip phone I bought years ago for travel serves just fine for phone contact on the road.  But it doesn’t do all the things its more high-tech cousins do, so when I bought my new laptop a few years ago and those nice folks at Apple threw in an iPod Touch just for the price of sales tax (about $25.00), the offer was too good to resist.  

It didn’t take me long to begin to enjoy many of the features this device offers. It now serves as my calendar, address book, and note pad.  And I never imagined how much I’d enjoy downloading and listening to podcasts; I now have quite a library stored there including food programs, author interviews, news analysis, short stories read out loud, and comedy. 

One of my favorite podcasts is offered through Northern Spirit Radio (NSR). Since 2005, Mark Judkins Helpmeet, along with the support of Eau Claire Friends Meeting, has prepared Northern Spirit Radio’s programs to “promote world healing by broadcasting inspirational voices of peace and social justice using the language of personal story, music, and spirituality.” Though Mark is a Quaker, he talks with people from a wide range of faith perspectives on his two shows, Spirit in Action and Song of the Soul. The program’s website gives a flavor for the topics Mark and his guests tackle. Over the years I’ve had some great companions on walks as I’ve listened on my iPod to people responding deeply and intimately to Mark’s questions about the ways the Spirit is at work in their lives. 

As is true for many people who are led to spiritual work, Mark has a day job to help support his broadcasts.  A recent fundraising letter from NSR nudged me to take out my checkbook to help with those efforts.  It’s a small price to pay for some regular doses of inspiration. 

Where do you find voices of peace and social justice?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Kids on the Literary Block

Over the past two weeks, I’ve transferred a little magazine from my backpack to nightstand to kitchen table to desktop.  Its corners are curling, and its white cover is smudged, sure signs of well-appreciated reading material. Each time I pick it up, I’m glad I’ve subscribed to this new literary magazine,  The First Day

Published by Jana and Mike Llewellyn of First Day Press, The First Day is a quarterly print magazine that features in-depth articles, essays, and creative writing related to the arts, culture, and faith. Although The First Day is guided by Quaker principles and values, it strives to offer stories of hope, inspiration, journey, and discovery for people of all spiritual traditions and beliefs.

The inaugural issue does just that. Its pages are full of thought-provoking essays such as Chuck Fager’s personal look at racism in “Playing the Lottery,” and Kody Gabriel Hersh’s essay, “Queer Lessons for Spiritual Life.” There’s also fiction by Elizabeth Spencer and Quaker minister J. Brent Bill, and a dozen poems.

One of the issue’s highlights for me was interviews with writers Tracy Chevalier and Amy Brill.  Both authors have written novels with Quaker women as the main characters (Chevalier’s is The Last Runaway and Brill’s is titled The Movement of Stars), and the interviewers explore with the writers the books’ spiritual themes. Another delight was reviews of two television shows, Orange Is the New Black and Breaking Bad.  Even though I haven’t watched either program, I’ve heard plenty of buzz about both and appreciated the reviewers’ examination of the moral questions the shows raise.

In her introduction to this premier issue of The First Day, Jana writes of the uncertainty she and Mike felt of whether they would receive “well-written and poignant submissions.”  It’s clear from Volume 1, Issue 1, that there are plenty of writers out there who, as Jana found, “…show the deeper truths beneath stories of personal journey.”

While this slim volume supplies reading to occupy me for many hours, I don’t have to wait for Issue 2 for more offerings like these.  I’ve also subscribed to the press’s The First Day Blog for regular online posts about a wide range of personal spiritual experiences.

Jana and Mike Llewellyn bring considerable experience in writing, editing, and publishing to this endeavor, and it shows.  As a result of the couple’s faithfulness to a call to merge faith, culture, and creativity, people of all faith traditions, as well as those seeking a spiritual home, will find a welcome refuge at The First Day.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Afterthought #22 - More Good Spending (or Not) Ideas

Recently I wrote about US government spending on war (Just a Minute).  Today I’m thinking about the buying and spending mania that starts to pick up just after Halloween.

I bypassed “Black Friday” store sales the day after—and in some cases the afternoon of—Thanksgiving, designed to help businesses put their earnings in the black. And I won’t be shopping online on “Cyber Monday,” either.  I know I’m not the only person who’s fed up with these tactics to entice us to spend.  Twenty years ago, Adbusters Magazine organized Buy Nothing Day, encouraging people to refrain from purchasing for one day – a full 24 hours – on the last Friday in November, which is generally the busiest shopping day of the year in North America.  This year, I’ve learned about two other activities to counter this shopping frenzy:

Cider Monday - Shelf Awareness reported that on the Monday after Thanksgiving, often called Cyber Monday because so many people shop online from work that day, The Toadstool Bookshops in New Hampshire are inviting people to Cider Monday. They’re offering free cups of cider and “promise no crashing websites, and our 'servers' won't be overloaded.”  Other bookstores in the Northeast are doing the same; maybe there’s one near you.

Giving Tuesday - #GivingTuesday™ http://community.givingtuesday.org/Page/FAQ
is a campaign initiated in 2012 to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season.  In my community, the Lopez Community Land Trust is a partner in this initiative that celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support non-profit organizations.  Maybe there are #GivingTuesday™ activities where you live, too.

Am I a Scrooge?  Do any of you participate in alternatives to the spending season?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Just a Minute

Numbers ending with more than two or three zeroes baffle me. When I hear statistics, I often forget whether the figures cited were in the thousands or hundreds of thousands; dollars, whether hundreds or millions.  Can’t even imagine billions and trillions.

So, a recent mailing from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) challenged my comprehension.  The AFSC letter opens with this astounding number:

“The United States budgeted $653,110,000,000 of your tax dollars on the military this year.”

That’s way more zeroes than I can grasp.  To help number dyslexics like me, the AFSC’s letter breaks down the calculations to the expenditure per minute:

“$1.2 million spent every single minute for war and so-called defense.”

Now that the realities of the amount come a little closer to numbers I can fathom, the digits of my blood pressure start to climb.  I agree with the assessment of the AFSC—“That’s too much money.”

Based on President Obama’s 2013 federal discretionary budget request

The source the AFSC cites for this federal spending breakdown is the National Priorities Project, a 30-year old organization that “opens the federal budget door for people to understand how and where their tax dollars are spent, and how and when they can influence budget decisions.” With this information, the AFSC has launched a new campaign, One Minute for Peace. The organization knows that while peace isn’t easy, or free, investing in peace costs far less than making war. The AFSC has been doing just that in times of war and times of peace for nearly 100 years, and they have some good ideas about how to sow the seeds of peace in the U.S and throughout the world.  Their letter asks me to help them raise the equivalent of just one minute’s worth of the federal military budget (that $1.2 million) to programs that help people in need.

Here are some of the ways the AFSC would use that one minute’s worth of military spending:

·        $285,000 for trauma healing and livelihood-restoring assistance to women in Burundi through counseling, micro-loans, and training.
·        $200,000 to help Somali refugees in Kenya through post-traumatic stress counseling, peace and reconciliation workshops, and simple necessities like fuel-efficient stoves.
·        $207,000 to support peace initiatives for youth in Indonesia to counteract rising intolerance.

I rounded up some of the numbers to make it easier to deal with all the zeroes, and they add up to just under $692,000—about 33 seconds worth of the annual U.S. military budget.  AFSC asks us to imagine how much more they could do if they had a full minute’s worth.

Someday, I hope organizations like the AFSC won’t have to spend their time and resources organizing fundraising campaigns like One Minute for Peace.  But until that day comes, I’ll write checks, most with just a couple of zeroes, to groups like the AFSC. It’s money well spent.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Saturday Bread

It’s become a Saturday ritual. We huddle inside a small building, our hats and gloves giving off that scent of damp wool, our chilled hands cupped around mugs of fresh-brewed coffee.  Thanks to our friends Sage and Nathan, soon we’ll be nibbling apple or pumpkin scones­—or maybe one of each—still warm from the couple’s wood-fired oven at Barn Bread Bakery. 
The caffeine and sweets fuel us to decide which of their artisan breads to buy. Will it be Pain de Campagne, Flax Sunflower, Raisin Coriander, the twisted baguettes called Tordus, or the naturally leavened gluten-free round? I savor the smells, have a mental debate about which variety to buy, and end up unable to settle on just one.
Sage and Nathan moved to Lopez Island, WA a couple of years ago from Berkeley, CA where Sage apprenticed with baker, Eduardo Morrell, at the Marin Headland Center for the Arts. Eduardo taught her to use simple ingredients and traditional techniques to make naturally leavened bread and baked goods and then bake them in a wood fired oven.  When Sage and Nathan arrived on Lopez, Sage continued to bake bread in a tiny home oven; within a few weeks she was baking more bread than she could give away to new friends, so she painted a sign and took her loaves to the Farmers’ Market. One customer, Ken, loved the bread and offered the use of his wood-fired brick oven.
After that first summer, the couple launched themselves wholeheartedly into a baking business and made hundreds of loaves of bread for Lopezians. The owner of the farm where they live in a converted granary offered them space on his land to build their own brick oven and bakery.  You can read more about that process and their successful Kickstarter campaign at Wood-fired Bakery on Midnight's Farm. Oh, and along the way, Sage and Nathan gave birth to their daughter, Eden.

On Saturday mornings, Sage and Nathan make it look easy, but I know much happens behind the scenes.  Sage mixes dough, lets it rise, weighs it and shapes the balls into rustic loaves, often with Eden overseeing from her perch in a backpack.  A couple of hours before baking time, Nathan gets the wood fire going in the brick oven. He’s mastered the art and science of maintaining the right temperatures for whatever is baking. Conversation pauses every time Nathan slides the long-handled wooden paddle into the oven and pulls out scones, golden loaves of bread, or pizzas bubbling with melted cheese.

Pizza? Yes, after the scones and breads bake, Sage and Nathan weigh out more dough and shape it into pizza crust.  While you wait, they top it with organic tomato sauce and ingredients like kale, roasted peppers, mushrooms, onions, mozzarella, pepperoni, and sausage, and slide it into the oven. 

Condensation forms on the bakery windows as we linger, adding to the lore that’s already developing around this hand-crafted business.  Like the bicyclists who didn’t even make it to the end of the driveway before they turned back to get more scones. Or the locals who stop in early to get scones fresh out of the oven, then return at noon for pizza. And the unanimous opinion that sharing Saturday bread with neighbors is a ritual worth repeating.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Afterthought #21 - One Hundred Posts

I don’t follow the stats for this blog, even though blogger.com collects all kinds of them.  Like how many pageviews each day, the number of comments posted, and the number of people who follow my blog.  Those numbers don’t mean anything to me, but one recently got my attention—the number of posts since I began the blog on May 9, 2010.  I’m creeping up on 100 posts (I think this one will be 99).

It took some convincing for me to begin to blog (I've Been Convinced to Blog), so reaching 100 entries is noteworthy.  My original plan to post once a week lasted, well, three weeks.  Just took three times for me to realize a weekly, 500ish-word essay didn’t work for me, so I revised my goal to post twice a month. I did pretty well with that through the rest of 2010 and 2011.  By then, I was on a roll (most of the time), and added a third posting the last day of each month (like today) that I call an Afterthought, after a Quaker practice of sharing a brief reflection after silent worship.  That brought me up to 3 posts per month, which I’ve maintained pretty consistently since Jan. 2012.

So that’s how I got to 100 pieces of new writing, and I’m celebrating.  Celebrating some meaningful interactions with readers on the blog, through e-mail, or in person; new connections with other writers; and a body of work that, until I started blogging, I never would have believed I could have created.

Here’s to the next 100.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Reducing Gun Violence

I sat in the Head Start classroom reviewing policies and procedures and came across the program’s guidelines about what to do in the case of a drive-by-shooting. I gulped as I read the instructions to teachers to grab the orange whistle hanging by the door and to blow it to signal to the children to huddle together in the middle of the room, away from windows and doors.

I had come to this program in Los Angeles having left Stehekin, my tiny community in Washington’s North Cascades, to be part of the team conducting a review of how well the program met Federal Head Start standards.  I knew I was in unfamiliar territory the minute I got in the rental car and weaved in and out of traffic on the multi-lane freeway; in Stehekin, the maximum speed on the valley’s single paved road was 25 mph.  But learning that teachers here had developed the drive-by shooting procedures after shots had been fired in the neighborhood, I felt I had traveled to another planet.

That was nearly twenty years ago, four years before names like Columbine and later, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, began to call up images of terrified students and teachers threatened by people wielding guns in their classrooms, hallways, and on their campuses.  Now, on the rural island where I work as a school nurse, a red sheet of lock-down procedures is posted on my office wall, and the administration periodically conducts drills to prepare students and staff for the possibility of an armed intruder.

I think of those places every time I hear about another school shooting, like the one just this week at Sparks Middle School in Reno. Those memories and images also came to mind last month when Steven Aldrich, a lobbyist for Friends Committee on Washington Public Policy (FCWPP), gave his report at our annual fall Quaker gathering (see 4-30-13 post about Quarterly Meeting gatherings).  Steve started his report this way:

“If I were a convicted felon, here in Washington I could buy a gun online or at a gun show without having my background checked.” 

He reassured us that he isn’t a convicted felon, nor does he own a gun, but he made his point about a flaw in our state’s firearms sales regulations.  Steve held up a stack of petitions for signatures supporting Initiative-594, a measure to change the law.  I took a handful.

WA Alliance for
Gun Responsibility
Support for the initiative is being organized by the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility. As of this week, the alliance needed just 10,000 more signatures to reach the 325,000 required to get the initiative before the State legislature.  If that happens and the legislature passes the initiative, it becomes law.  If they don’t, it will go on the ballot for the November 2014 election.

Here’s what I-594 addresses (full text is at  Initiative Measure 594).  Current law requires criminal and public safety background checks before purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer; the initiative would change the law to extend this requirement for checks to most firearm purchases and transfers in Washington, including gun show and online sales. According to the Alliance, an estimated 40% of gun transfers in the U.S. take place without going through a licensed dealer. In 2012, 6.6 million guns were sold with no background check for the buyer.
I-594 supporters with petitions

I’m putting my signed petition in the mail today, and I hope that readers in Washington who haven’t yet signed will go to the website to find out how to add their names to the list. Even if this initiative passes, I know it won’t put an end to all gun violence.  But perhaps it will decrease the chance that those drive-by-shooting and lockdown procedures in schools and Head Start programs will ever be needed.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Friendly Water

This morning when I filled my electric teakettle with tap water, I didn’t think of that liquid as anything but friendly.  I know, though, that in many places, what pours from faucets, sits in reservoirs, or pools in streams is full of harmful organisms; for 900 million people around the world, the water they drink, cook, and wash with is unfriendly.  A few Quakers from Olympia, WA, are trying to change that through an organization called Friendly Water for the World.

The nonprofit’s mission is straightforward: to expand access to low-cost clean water technologies and information about health and sanitation to people in need of them. The organization grew out of collaboration between theologically diverse Quaker congregations in two Washington communities—Olympic View Friends Church in Tacoma and Olympia Friends Meeting, Olympia. Although Friendly Water for the World is committed to Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality, it is non-denominational and welcomes individuals from other faiths and traditions. Its approach involves partnerships among individuals and communities, working and learning together.

And work and learn they do, in Kenya, Burundi, India, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Uganda, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Honduras, and Haiti.  The learning begins in North America, with week-long workshops teaching volunteers how to build and teach others construction techniques for BioSand Water Filters.  This simple, affordable technology uses local sand and gravel in a small container suitable for people’s homes. For about $50, a household can have a system that lasts 30 years.

Courtesy - Center for
Affordable Water and
Sanitation Technology
Here’s how it works. Contaminated water (from any source, including rivers, wells, and rainwater) is poured into the top of the biosand filter at least once daily. Water slowly drips through a diffuser and flows down through the sand and gravel. Treated water flows by gravity out of the outlet tube. Disease-causing organisms (95-99% of them) are removed through biological and physical processes that take place in the sand, resulting in 12-18 liters of filtered drinking water per hour.  To add to the filter’s effectiveness, Friendly Water also works with local leaders to promote personal and community sanitation practices to assure filtered water isn’t contaminated before use.

As I pour water over my freshly ground coffee, I’m aware of how privileged I am to do so with such ease. I’m grateful to all the folks helping to make this a more friendly process in many places around the world. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Afterthought #20 - Musical Essays

September here seems to be taking some cues from the month of March, but in reverse—in like a lamb and out like a lion.  All day, just as I thought it was time for a walk with my lab, Buddy, squalls of sideways rain interrupted sunbursts. The scrubbed sea air and the color wheel of green in the Madrones, firs, and cedars should have been incentive enough to get outside, but I kept waiting for the clouds to disappear. Finally, I motivated myself to risk a drenching with the reward of listening to a recent podcast of Song of the Soul on Northern Spirit Radio. On this particular segment, host Mark Helpsmeet interviewed Gretchen Wing, a former high school English teacher-turned novelist/singer-songwriter/baker.

Gretchen Wing

I have the good fortune on most Thursday afternoons to sit around a writing table with Gretchen, critiquing her young adult novels and receiving her wise feedback on my personal essays and memoir.  Every now and then she brings in some lyrics to a song she’s working on, and she’s got writing chops there, too.  As I listened to Gretchen talk about her recent ventures into songwriting and heard the results of her work, I realized she’s doing the same thing in her songs that I do with my essay-writing—trying to make sense of some of the big questions in life.  During the radio program, Gretchen talked about her unexpected turn to writing lyrics and sang some of her “essays” about strength in the face of adversity, lessons from Emerson and Thoreau, injustice, and peace. Several times on my walk, raindrops sputtered on my hood in rhythm to the music.

Whether you’re in the rain, snow, or in a balmy climate, I encourage you to listen to Gretchen’s inspiring songs and her thoughtful responses to Mark’s questions about her soulful work. You can read more of Gretchen’s writing at her blog: Wing's World-Will Backpack for Chocolate.

Oh, and she makes a mean pie, too.

Beginning in January 2012, I instituted posting an “Afterthought” on the last day of each month, fashioned after a practice in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, some groups continue in silence for a few more minutes during which members are invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning's worship. I’ve adopted the form here for brief reflections on headlines, quotes, comments overheard, maybe even bumper stickers.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Marathon – Not a Sprint

Thirty years ago, a friend and I took our toddlers to watch the first Olympic Time Trials for the Women’s Marathon.  With babies in backpacks, we hustled to various points along the twenty-six mile course to witness the field of 238 women make history. Two-and-a-half hours after the starting gun, we cheered Joan Benoit as she crossed the finish line.  Three months later, she’d shave seven minutes off that time to win a gold-medal in the first Women’s Marathon at the Olympics in Los Angeles.
1984 - Joan Benoit
Getty Images / Tony Duffy / Allsport

At the time, I was a nursing graduate student at the University of Washington and was parenting a twin son and daughter.  Often I felt as though I was running a marathon and wasn’t sure I could maintain the pace of both of these arduous endeavors.  Like Joan Benoit at the time trials, though, I couldn’t quit. There was too much at stake.

Kate Gould, lead lobbyist on Middle East Policy for Friends Committee on National Legislation (FNCL), knows about marathons, too.  She ran her first one a year ago in Baltimore, MD as a fundraiser for FCNL's work to prevent war with Iran.  Over that 26-mile course, Kate and six other FCNL runners spread the message that successful diplomacy requires patience and perseverance—just like running a marathon. The back of their t-shirts carried the slogan, "Diplomacy—It's Not a Sprint, It's a Marathon."

In early September, as President Obama and the U.S. Senate planned military action in Syria in response to chemical weapons attacks there in August, FCNL urged people to ask their Senators to take a different approach and to adopt the motto on Kate’s t-shirt. Other peace groups around the world put out the same call, and thousands of us answered. By the second week in September, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would postpone the first vote on the Syrian strike resolution.

A few days later, FCNL organized a conference call to update supporters.  Kate Gould and other seasoned lobbyists made comments like this about the changed U.S. strategy away from the brink of war in Syria:

Historic victory
Something to celebrate
Never seen anything like this.

Then came the reminder:

Diplomacy is a marathon, not a sprint.

As always, FCNL has tools for this work ahead, such as a tally on where lawmakers stand on Syria.  Those from my state are still undecided, so I’ve written again to my Representative, urging him to support the slow, deliberate pace of negotiators like U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.  I’m working on similar letters to my two Senators.

It’s kind of like the cheering on that my friend and kids and I did for Joan Benoit and the other women who trained for years and persevered with the hope they’d someday run at the Olympics.  That’s what friends and family did for me when I juggled parenting and studies. Unlike the marathon, though, we don’t know how long this run will take, so I continue to hold all the leaders involved in this marathon of diplomacy in the Light. There’s so much at stake.

FCNL website 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Taking Action in Syria

At the end of worship in my Quaker meeting, we take a few moments to offer names of people we’d like others to “hold in the Light.”   In some faith traditions, the request would be to pray for someone. What I’m hoping when I hold someone in the Light is that he/she/they will listen for wisdom, both within and outside of themselves, and will feel a supportive, loving presence to guide their actions.

Last Sunday, I asked that we hold in the Light the 535 members of the United States Congress as well as President Obama and his cabinet as they seek ways to respond to the chemical weapons attacks in Damascus in August.

My hope is that these leaders, as well as others around the world, WILL act, but that they will choose nonviolent approaches rather than a military response.  Late last month, Yes! Magazine editor Sarah van Gelder succinctly spelled out "Eleven Reasons Why We Should Not Attack Syria."  It’s worth reading her entire article, but here’s a list of the reasons:

1.     We don't actually know who is behind the chemical weapons attack.
2.     A military strike would be illegal under the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution.
3.     It would violate international law, too.
4.     The American people oppose it.
5.     Violence begets violence.
6.     There are no logical targets.
7.     It will be impossible to control who benefits from Western intervention among the rebels.
8.     Civilians will be killed and maimed.
9.     There is no apparent exit strategy.
10.  There IS a better way.

Courtesy, Yes! Magazine
In fact, there are LOTS of better ways, and van Gelder spelled some of them out last week in another article, Six Alternatives to Military Strikes. Here’s a summary:

  1.    Bring those guilty of atrocities to justice through the International   Criminal Court (ICC).
  2.   Stop the flow of weapons from around the world into Syria through a United Nations embargo on arms and military supplies.
3.   The U.N. Security Council should hold an international peace conference such as those that resolved the wars in Southeast Asia through the Paris Conference on Cambodia, and in the Balkans through the Dayton Peace Agreement.
4.     Offer aid and support to the nonviolent movements within Syria.
5.     Provide desperately needed humanitarian aid to the millions of displaced people.
6.     Live within the rule of law by refraining from launching into a war that violates international law.

These are actions that I believe offer the best hope for peace. Fortunately, organizations like the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) make it easy for us to not only hold our leaders in the Light but also to contact them to let them know we support these better ways to act in response to the attacks in Syria.

I’m heartened that my own U.S. Representative Rick Larsen e-mailed constituents asking for help in his decision about how to vote on the authorization of military force.  I was happy to respond.  And according to the latest FCNL Action Alert, as well as President Obama’s speech on Sept. 10, leaders are listening.  It does appear that our country has moved, at least for now, a few steps back from military action and toward diplomacy as a response. Staff at FCNL are working hard to support this effort and remind us that “diplomacy is a marathon, not a sprint.”  They’ve organized a conference call for tonight, Sept. 11, to talk about the most recent information from Capitol Hill and what the U.S.'s decision to back away from bombing Syria means for prospects for peace. To join the call set for 8 PM Eastern Time, dial (712) 432-1500 and then the access number 380565#.

I plan to call in.  In the meantime, I’m continuing to hold in the Light world leaders and the people of Syria.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Afterthought #19 – Working Hands on Display

Hands at Work
What started as a casual comment almost ten years ago (“We could do a book together!”) resulted in a gratifying collaboration with photographer Summer Moon Scriver and a couple dozen people who work with their hands.

Now, many of those hands, and excerpts from their stories, are featured in an exhibit at the Washington History Museum in Tacoma, WA.  Thanks to the commitment and organizing skill of Stephanie Lile, the museum’s Head of Education (and an alum of my MFA writing program), the support of Redmond Barnett (Head of Exhibits), and the artistry of SueSan Chan (Exhibits Designer/Project Manager), framed images and printed excerpts will grace the walls of a small gallery in the museum through May 2014. 

If you’re anywhere close to the area, it’s worth a visit to Tacoma’s  Museum District that includes the History Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, and the Museum of Glass. You can go to all three for one low price with a Tacoma Museum Pass, and on the Third Thursday of each month, the History Museum is open until 8pm with FREE ADMISSION from 2-8pm.
Hands at Work at History Museum

Look what a bunch of hard-working hands
can do!

Beginning in January 2012, I instituted posting an “Afterthought” on the last day of each month, fashioned after a practice in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, some groups continue in silence for a few more minutes during which members are invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning's worship. I’ve adopted the form here for brief reflections on headlines, quotes, comments overheard, maybe even bumper stickers.