Saturday, September 30, 2006

L'Appel de la Terre

I thought I'd share Laure's response to a comment I left her:

je suis bien contente d'avoir réussi à te faire penser au liban et à vouloir venir après 26ans,
j'ai l'impression que c'est tous les jeunes qui sont partis n'écoutent plus la voix de la nostalgie ni celle des souvenirs ,ni l'amour de la terre. Si tu viens vraiment, fais-moi signe je serais heureuse de serrer la main de quelqu'un qui se souvientdu liban même en temps de crise. cette invitatiuon au voyage, n'est autre que l'appel de la terre
laure ghorayerb

Friday, September 29, 2006

L'Invitation au Voyage

I like Laure Ghorayeb's work. You can see more of it on her blog, Witnessing (again), or click on the image.

The words that accompanied the image made so much sense to me, considering my hopefully upcoming trip to Lebanon(I will buy the ticket on Monday).

l'invitation au voyage
voyager sans peur
voyager pour le plaisir et
non pas pour fuir et trouver
un abri sûr
voilà le summum de la joie
ce voyage a un goût spécial
cette mer,ce ciel et cet

espace sont à nous, comme
nous les souhaitons

30 septembre 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Policies of Exclusion

Corporate globalization destroys local and national economies and the livelihoods and jobs that domestic economies generate in the pursuit of corporate profits and financial growth. This creates insecurity. Insecurity breeds fear and exclusion and provides fertile ground for the emergence of politics based on narrow cultural identities and ideologies of exclusion. Representative democracy in this context becomes increasingly shaped and driven by cultural natonalism. Cutural nationalism emerges as the twin of economic globalization.

Vandana Shiva,
Earth Democracy

Hmm... "politics based on narrow cultural identities and ideologies of exclusion."

Could this possibly relate to our current politics in the United States and elsewhere?
Is the cultural nationalism of Hizbullah and Hamas a response to the lack of domestic economies and the fear and exclusion that this has bred? If you lived in daily fear of waking up to your house being shelled or with the anxiety of trying to provide for your family in a place where unemployment is extremely high (45 to 65%) could you possibly understand resorting to violence and fanatic nationalism?

If you think not, I disagree.

What about the George W. Bush phenomena where at the same time that people in the United States are struggling more and more to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, and health care, they are nonetheless voting against their own economic self-interest.

They are instead voting out of fear. "We must protect ourselves from the terrorists," they say not realizing that they are subsequently supporting policies that are "terroristic."

Other policies of exclusion include divisive and polorizing issues such as gay marriage, immigration, and reproductive rights.

Is this what we really want? Can exclusion really create democracy and economic sustainability for all?

Vegetables, Chicken, and Spices

I love my crockpot. I can just throw things in it without thinking about what order I do it in or whether or not something is going to burn. Plus, I can forget about the concoction for hours. This does not work so well with stove or oven cooked creations.

Earlier this evening, I threw together big chunks of organic green eggplant, a few juicy red tomatoes, a sliced carrot, a chopped onion, lots of chopped garlic, a sliced fuji apple and some free range chicken drumsticks. Then I added, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, coriander, cloves, mustard, ginger, salt and black pepper and poured apple juice over the whole mixture.

I'm not sure how it tastes yet as it will be a few hours before its ready. Enough time for me to forget about it and do some reading, blogging, or something else. I'll have to report back on how it tastes.

Hibernating in my nest

I've been hibernating in my nest for the past couple of days with what I think was the flu. I haven't slept so much in years. I felt like one those stereotypical professional female television characters who end up working so hard that they have a heart attack or collapse. The break was nice even though I will probably need to work this weekend to make up for eveything that I did not get done this week.

No matter, now that am feeling better I may just spend my evening blogging around unrelated thoughts . . .

Social Workers Rock!

Our local free weekly poses a question to passerbys once a week. This week's question was:

Should we stay the course in Iraq?
After two "yes" statements from two poor souls headed for basic training, I read this:
No. We should have pulled out long ago. I don't agree with the war. I don't think we should have gone in the first place. We're just wasting money that could be spent on social services.
She was then asked by the reporter what kind of work she did.
I'm a social worker.
My heart gleamed with pride. I would have said it the exact same way.
I too am a social worker, and am very proud to say it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What if It’s (Sort of) a Boy and (Sort of) a Girl?

I found this article, "What if It’s (Sort of) a Boy and (Sort of) a Girl?" by Elizabeth Weil in the New York Times, about assigning and surgically altering the genitals of intersex babies and children fascinating.

Cheryl Chase, the founder of the Intersex Society of North America, has been arguing against doctors and parents performing surgery on intersex babies. She contends that we must become more comfortable as a society with ambiguous gender and genitals, assign a gender, but allow the individual to make their own decision about their genital surgery when they are older.

This makes sense to me. What is so strange about having an enlarged clitoris anyway? One family decided that they wanted their 2 year-old to have surgery when they saw her masturbating. This is one of Chase's points, that parents often feel awkward about sexuality to begin with. Chase, who is intersex and was born with an enlarged clitoris, said that her mother had told her that she had never looked at her own genitals and did not even know what a clitoris was! No wonder she let the doctors cut it off.

As a society, we are too worked up about categorizing people into genders anyway. At this point in time, I will go along with Chase's belief that children should be assigned a gender (without surgery) that they can later change if they want to. I wish a specific gender didn't have to be assigned but unfortunately this won't be socially accepted in my lifetime.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Short Hike

I took a short hike today.

These are the glimpses that I took with my camera. Unfortunately, it could use a telephoto lens but it is great at getting me using a digital camera. Thank you, Keke!

The red dots are lady bugs by the way. Don't know enough about lady bugs to explain their clumping. Are they mating and preparing for hibernation or winter death?


Que seunes con los angeles!

My Decision

I will be going to Lebanon in December. My dear prof Evelyne offered me a place to stay when I arrive and that was the only catalyst I needed.

My mind is already buzzing. I want to listen and see. I want to take pictures and write. And if I can do something small but practical such as help clean the coast, I will.

When I come back, I will share what I witnessed.
Look at the destruction our tax dollars caused.
Wave it in people's faces.

Evelyne's brother has been sheltering refugees from South Lebanon. I have asked how they are now and I will keep any readers that I may have updated.

I am not planning to tell my dear papa for awhile. If he happens to read my blog, I imagine that I will get a frantic phone call. Just remember my dearest, that your daughter is pretty smart and careful. She is doing this because the conditions in which she will be traveling are logical. She has a friend and people she can ask for help in an emergency. And she has done enough stupid things in her past to know what she must avoid doing.

I love you, Dad. I will be fine. I promise to avoid driving on streets with known snipers present.

Please support my decision and relax.

I love you,

Easy Silence

When the calls and conversations
Accidents and accusations
Messages and misperceptions
Paralyze my mind
Busses, cars, airplanes leavin'
Burnin' fumes of gasoline and
Everyone is running and I
Come to find refuge in the
Easy silence that you make for me
It's the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for

The way you keep the world at

Monkeys on the barricades
Are warning us to back away
They form commissions to try to find
The next one they can crucify
And anger plays on every station
Answers only make more questions
I need something to believe in
Breathe in sanctuary in the
Easy silence that you make for me
It's ok when there is nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for

The way you keep the world at

Children lose their youth to soon
Watching war made us immune
and I've got all the world to lose
But I just want to hold on to the
Easy silence that you make for me
It's ok when there is nothing more to say to me
And the
peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for
The easy silence that you make for me

It's ok when there is nothing more to say to me
And the way you keep the world at bay for

The way you keep the world at bay for

The way you keep the world at

- The Dixie Chicks

Oh by the way, she snores!

Evening Journal

I had a nice evening with someone who reminded me of complicated Lebanese politics.
While I have yet to sit myself down and update myself on these politics,
I must say that 80% cacao rocks!

Gordon Brothers' sauvignon blanc from Pasco on the other hand, is mediocre.

I have come closer to a decision.
If my dear prof Evelyne is still "de accord,"
I will be spending my vacation in Lebanon in December.

Oh my dear, J., it's time to do a ritual on me.
To keep me safe?

Safety is my last concern.
It's when to tell my dear padres.
After I have actually bought my tickets?

I must admit that I do not understand their concern,
or that of my colleagues and friends for that matter.
Lebanon is a place
Just like many others that have lived through both war,
And peace.

Are people more afraid of the stories I bring back than my actual journey?
Or maybe it's the energy that will accompany me.

I could fall into a spiralling depression.
It has happened before.
And if so, I welcome it.

Because, my depression is always followed by production.
Productive production.

Watch me jinx everything.

Madre mia,

Friday, September 22, 2006

Not Ready to Make Nice

I am not feeling super this afternoon. I came home early from work to rest. Between naps, and phone chats with A., I have been listening to one song over and over again, "Not Ready to Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks.

This is a shout out at the top of your lungs song. Here's an excerpt:

. . . Can't bring myself to do what you think I should.
I know you said
Can't you just get over it.
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it.
I made my bed and sleep like a baby.
With no regrets and I don't mind sayin'.
It's a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger.
And how in the world can the words that I said
send someone so over the edge
that they'd write me a letter
sayin' that I better shut up and sing
or my life would be over.
I'm not ready to make nice.
I'm not ready to back down.
I'm still mad as hell and
I don't have time to go round and round and round . . .

For those that may not know or remember, in 2003 the Dixie Chicks blasted the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq. Perhaps the song makes more sense now.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Package and a Letter

My friend B. sent me a package today. It was a pleasant surprise. He sent me a beautiful little book by Amos Oz, how to cure a fanatic, and a DVD about Howard Zinn.

He also sent me a handwritten letter, something that I just love receiving. With e-mail, I rarely receive letters and they are so personal. I feel much closer to people when I see their handwritting, better yet have to decipher it and rely on contextual clues at times. Plus it's just nice to sit in a cozy place by a reading light and with Maya curled up beside me, feeling the paper between my fingers that you know the writer handled and receiving the gift of a small glimpse into a friend's life.

It is nice to receive gifts from people who understand my passions. Most of all, I appreciated one remark: "Thank you, you were always good at shaking things up." I love knowing that that is what people remember about me. I am making an impact on people's lives.

Thank you, B.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Times Square, Palestine, and Beyond

As I look at the photos below of projected images in Times Square, I feel conflicted. These images, depicting the Palestinian reality, mean more than a mere great deal to me. However, they are being viewed in what is most likely the location in the world that I have the most negative feelings towards. Having lived in New York City and having visited Times Square within the last year, I can safely say that for me Times Square makes me at the very least, claustrophobic.

I remember going to see a film below Tower Records at Times Square. It was a Japanese film with the main theme being basically "anomie." I entered when it was light and I departed at night. Eventually that is. The theater was many floors deep underground. After several levels of escalators and then floors of loud music, through the late night most recent and hip popular
T-shirt, thick leather silver studded belt and dark strech and stonewashed blue jean clad music shoppers, I finally found the exit.

Rejoice! It was night. Now if only I could see the sky. Unfortunately, there were billboards up, down, over, and around as far as my naked eye could see. Until eventually, . . . was it true? . . .I believe I saw a sliver of sky. No stars or moon, just pure sky.

This past April when I visited New York for a conference for work, I purposely walked through Times Square at night. All I felt was the desire to escape.

Now that I write this, I may understand. In the Occupied Terriorities, especially Gaza, there is hardly any horizontal space, only vertical. Just like Times Square. Sure there is horizontal space for the right price. You can have whatever you want at the right price.

But the images of trees that so soothe me and cover my blog? I have never been to Palestine and so I cannot say for sure, but my understanding is that they hardly exist. I recall a conversation I had this afternoon: "Are there still olives to harvest?"

Images of the Palestinian reality make too much sense at Times Square. Claustrophia and chaos in both locations. What about projecting them onto the mountainsides of the great Ponderosa pine of my side of the Northwest? The dry soil, the smell of pine. We could dream of thyme growing and blooming in the dry wild. We could even plant an olive tree. I have no idea if it would grow. But this is what hope is all about.

I smell peace in the smell of fresh olives, pine trees, and thyme.

Imagine [life] TV

OK. I'm on a roll. Check out these PSA's on Imagine[life] TV. I'd love to see one of these on T.V. where I live. Hmm . . . I wonder how much it would cost.

Mobile Street Projections

Human creativity never ceases to inspire me.
What a great way to raise awareness.
Check it out on the Electronic Intifada.
If we can make things like this happen,
Eventually we will be able
To create a just and peaceful world,

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Living Economies

Today I sat on the porch, watching the sun poke through the trees. I finally finished the first chapter of Earth Democracy by Vandana Shiva and wanted to share a selection of quotes and reflections from this chapter, "Living Economies."

The globalized free market, which dominates our lives, is based on rules that extinguish and deny access to life and livelihoods by generating scarcity. This scarcity is created by the destruction of nature's economy and the sustenance economy, where life is nourished, maintained and renewed (pp.13-14).

What is nature's economy?

Nature's economy consists of the production of goods and services by nature--the water recycled and distributed through the hydrologic cycle, the soil fertility produced by microorganisms, the plants fertilized by pollinators (p. 16).

What is the sustenance economy?
In the sustenance economy, people work to directly provide the conditions necessary to maintain their lives . . . The sustenance economy is the economy of two-thirds of humanity engaged in craft production, peasant agriculture, artisanal fishing, and indigenous forest economies. The sustenance economy includes all spheres in which humans produce in balance with nature and reproduce society through partnerships, mutuality and reciprocity (p.17).
The poverty of the Third World has resulted from
centuries of the drain of resources from the sustenance economy
In my opinion, this is one of the most important things that Vandana Shiva has to say because she debunks a popular western myth that many people in the "Third World" are living in poverty because they are lazy and because they live inareas that do not have any natural resources.
If I am understanding Vandana Shiva correctly, these areas did indeed have natural resources. People were able to sustain themselves from the land they chose to live with. This changed when some economies changed from sustenance economies to market economies where capital became the resource that drove the economy.
In this type of economy, more resources are necessary to sustain people. European economies are an example of this. These economies eventually needed more natural resources than their land provided. Hence, colonization and later, globalization.
Enclosure of the Commons
Vandana Shiva uses the example of the enclosure of the British commons for sheepherding in the early 1600s as an example of what happens when people no longer share natural resources and only use what they need for sustenance.
While one acre of arable land on the commons could produce 670 pounds of bread, it could only maintain a few sheep. In terms of food and the sustenance economy this was a loss, since the sheep could only produce 176 pounds of mutton (p.19).

When people can no longer survive from their land, they are forced to work outside of the home or away from the land to sustain themselves and their families, and often as we know even today, people cannot sustain themselves through their work.

This is why many minimum wage workers here in the Unites States must work two jobs with at least one if not both being fulltime (40 hours a week).

This is why people are forced to cross borders under dangerous circumstances and live in other countries without documentation (or as they like to say in the U.S.A., "illegally").

In today's world, the privatization of our natural resources such as water or intellectual property laws claiming rights over peoples' ancestral seeds and medicinal plants are examples of the commons being enclosed.

And when the commons are enclosed, resources are developed and used by multinational businesses until they no longer yield any market benefit at which point they are discarded and left to the local population to unsuccessfully sustain themselves.

The introduction of unsustainable cash crops in large parts of Africa is among the main reasons for the ecological disaster in that continent. The destruction of the ecological balance of the rainforests of South America is the result of agribusiness and cattle ranching in the clearcut areas. And with no obligation to rehabilitate the ravaged land, agribusiness just moves on to consume other resources and other sectors to maintain and increase profits when the productivity of the land declines. The costs of the destruction of Africa's grazing lands and farmlands, and of Latin America's forests, have not been borne by multinational food corporations but by the local peasants and tribals. The costs of ecological destruction and damage to the sustenance economy are borne by the local populace alone (p.53).
I saw this in Guatemala. Coffee is not an indigenous crop, the Spanish introduced it and now the price of coffee is dropping and dropping. . .

Genocide and Overpopulation

Vandana Shiva believes that the fact that people cannot sustain themselves from eroded land and are subsequently starving contributes to genocide. The need for more land and natural resources for a select few to make a profit is another reason. Think about Rwanda, Guatemala, and many other countries. It makes sense.

Shiva also explains that overpopulation is the direct result of the scarcity of resources. This is another common misconception that I hear, that if people could only get affordable access to birth control, overpopulation would be solved. Access to family planning services is a human right, I agree. However, in many cases, impoverished "Third World" families are actually engaging in family planning, just with different goals and results. In some cases, in order for a family to survive they must "plan" for a certain number of children to contribute labor. In addition, with the absence of adequate health care and social security, "an Indian woman has to produce six children to ensure at least one son will survive to take care of her and her husband when she is 60." This is not unique to India.

There are Solutions

For Vandana Shiva and many others, Earth Democracy is the solution. "Earth Democracy movements are struggles of the disadvantaged and excluded at conserving nature's balance to preserve their survival." It is Earth Democracy that will actually ensure our survival as opposed to the democracy we do at the polls when we vote for someone just because they are not as bad as the other candidate even though they may vote for things that we do not believe in such as the war on Iraq or the attack on Lebanon. Businesses that depend on military spending such as Boeing sustain us afterall.

Shiva believes that Earth Democracy has to happen locally. She describes a group of women in India who began hugging trees-chipko to protest the destruction of forests. Finally, when the trees helped stave off a flood, the government understood why the forests were so important to the women and legislated their survival.

As I read through this book, I will have many more examples to share. At this point, I do want to make sure that my Western readers also consider Shiva's message of acting locally. Here are some ideas:
  • Support your local farmer's market.
  • Buy local produce and home products. Many farmers have programs where you can put a flat amount of money down when seeds are being planted and they will give you fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the season.
  • Shop at your local coop.
  • Find socially responsible e-businesses that sell produce and more.
  • Avoid buying fruits and vegetables that have been flown in from other parts of the country or world.
  • Explore the many sustainable opportunities in your community.
This is a very small list. I invite any readers of this blog, to contribute their ideas on how to create earth democracy in their community.
I leave you with a few websites that you may want to explore as you think through creating an earth democracy.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Wall

"The Wall" by Mary Ann Lederer

I went to a talk tonight given by a local family and emergency room physician who has been to Palestine several times. What most struck me is that Israeli military control and violence is not decreasing violence. In fact, when your home is bulldozed in the Gaza Strip or nurses are shot while in a hospital clearly labeled "Hospital" and you feel no hope or solution, I can see resorting to violence.
I myself claim to be nonviolent but I watch myself when I grow impatient or when I feel I am being treated unfairly, and I am vicious. If I had a tank or bulldozer outside of my door, what would I do?
Or what if I see that the land that is supposedly mine is systematically being settled and walls are being built to separate me from my family despite supposed peace talks?
Violence, fear, and control only breeds violence, fear, and control. Why not try another solution?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Large Maya Photo

Large Maya photos always manage to cheer me up.

Another Mood

Now, I am in another mood.

I have been writing a letter of support for a grant for a local homeless youth shelter. My letter is making me cry.

Did you know that there are youth that have never experienced any kind of healthy relationship, even from their parents?

Did you know that there are youth that cannot even count the number sexual partners they have had in a given week in a vain attempt to dull the pain?

And agencies that try to veer them in the right direction are scrambling for funds, accepting crumbs while others have face lifts and breast jobs.

This world is so screwed.


After returning from a retreat with the teens on Sunday afternoon, I sat around moping and cuddling up in a ball with Maya.

It was an intense retreat. We did alot of energy building, trustwork, and "activating material" a la
Michael Rohd. My cofacilitator concentrated on Rohd's Machine while I concentrated on Boal's Image Theater.

The themes that came out were intense for the teens. Not just for the teens really, for me too. I worried that we had gone too far. That they had felt too pushed, that they were damaged for eternity and that it had all been my fault.

After one day and a half of moping, I went to work and read the process evaluations. They were overwhelmingly positive. Everyone is so psyched for this year and all the potential we have as a group.

Now if only I can handle this "potential," and not drive myself crazy in the process...

Monday, September 11, 2006

O.K., So Here's My Story...

I wasn't going to participate in the 9/11/2001 remembrances today as well as those that have been occurring for the last week. I haven't listened to Bush's speeches, read the newspaper, listened to NPR, watched any of the T.V. specials, or any of the Hollywood movies. But I visited a kindred spirit's blog today and realized that there are still people in the world that do not know my story and it is also a story that needs to be told.

First of all, I want to make it known that I was very lucky. I did not lose any relatives or friends on September 11, 2001. Not any that I am aware of anyway.

I had moved to New York City two weeks before. It had been a draining decision. I had returned from doing human rights accompaniment work in Guatemala in April and had spent the summer unsure what my next step would be. By August, I had decided that I would stay in the Northeast so that I could be near my family. The members of my community in Guatemala were constantly asking me about my family. Seeing their relationships with each other, I felt that it was important to spend time with mine. Plus, my father had expressed concern about the danger my wandering spirit could have experienced in Guatemala. I decided to spend time in the safety of home.

If I am remembering correctly, September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. My new job required me to go to an orientation that lasted Monday through Thursday. The agency was not based in NYC but in Brewster, NY. I stayed in a cabin in the woods owned by the agency. It was green and peaceful.

Tuesday morning came around and I was feeling fidgety and a little bored. I remember one of my fellow coworkers went to the bathroom during the cultural competency training. She returned whispering in my ear that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I remember nervously laughing and the instructor giving us a questioning look. We told him what we had heard and he disbelievingly turned on the television.

We spent the rest of the morning watching the television. Maybe the whole day but I can't quite remember. At some point, I remember my coworker and I talking a walk around the farm that was part of the agency. She was the good social worker and listened to me.

I was full of a plethora of emotions. I was upset. People had died. They were basically massacred. I also knew that by chance, I was not taking my usual subway below the World Trade Center that morning. Funny, and my father was so worried about my safety in Guatemala. The real danger was coming home. I also remembered that hundreds of thousands of indigenous Guatemalans were massacred in the eighties and early nineties too with the international community paying very little notice. That is why I had been there. I was also hopeful. I felt that now that U.S. citizens knew what such numbers of loss and grief felt like that they would stand in solidarity with the people of Guatemala and all of the world that were dying and suffering. And we would finally stop trying to solve our problems with violence. I had such hope. There was a reason why I was in a cultural competency training when the plane crashed into the tower. We were finally going to feel empathy for one another.

When my cell phone started working again, I had lots of phone messages to answer. Luckily, my parents knew that I was safe. It felt so strange being in a peaceful cabin surrounded by trees every evening.

I came home to the sound of ambulances and smoke. My office was near Bellevue Hospital and I went to see pictures of all the missing loved ones. There were so many of them. I took the subway, a different train to Brooklyn, and as we crossed the bridge we, all the passengers and I, looked over at the gap that had been the towers and the smoke rising from it. We were a unified "we" on that train. We all looked each other directly in the eyes in a way that I had never done before and would never do again on a subway car in NYC. We all experienced the horror together.

Friday night, I went to a vigil in Brooklyn. I wanted to mourn for all those who lost their lives, for all those who were missing, and for all of the loved ones who waited to know. I poured all of my empathy into that candle that I held. I remember signing songs, beautiful songs as I looked over the water at the smoke.

And then someone started signing the national anthem and everyone joined. Everyone except me. I could not open my mouth. At that point, I did not know why I could not open my mouth, I just couldn't. It remained closed and silent amid all of the voices. I felt very alone and confused.

The next week, I spent every evening after work at Union Square. I listened to Buddhist monks sing and watched the flickering candles as it became dark.

One night I could not stop crying. I sat on the bench and just cried and cried. A woman I did not know put her arm on my shoulder. I looked into her eyes and knew why I was crying. I was crying for everyone who lost their life but I was also crying because I knew we were going to war.

I also understood why I hadn't been able to sing the national anthem. I wanted to mourn people, fully mourn people. I also wanted to understand why this tragedy had occurred. Why would people feel compelled to lose their lives for this? What suffering had contributed to this? The national anthem, and the patriotism and vengeance that accompanied it obscured these questions for me. With the sound of patriotism in the background, I could not feel and I could not understand. I doubted that others could either.

our grief is not
a cry for war

I still have the poster taped to my kitchen door. We were encouraged to wear white. By the time we got there the planes had already been sent to Afghanistan.

The whole year that I lived in New York, the banner "An Eye for an Eye Leaves the Whole World Blind" hung from the A.J. Muste building.

I had hopes that those who died, did not die in vain. Instead, my country has continuously been at war and the Bush administration has done all it can to increase its own agenda by encouraging a culture of fear instead of dialogue and compassion.

I left New York and went to graduate school. I dealt with my confusion by interning with Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation.

The people I met had loved ones murdered. While they were grieving, people came to them encouraging them to seek the death penalty. Hate was what they were encouraged to feel. But they felt no peace and closure. Finally, one woman decided to meet with one of her daughter's killers. It took a year of preparation for both this woman and the young man but finally they met. She learned that he had gone from foster home to foster home. She learned that he and the other man had escaped from their group home that afternoon. She sat and listened to every awful detail of her daughter's murder and she finally found peace. Later, she decided to start an MVFR chapter in Houston, Texas.

I still do not know why the events of 9/11/2001 occurred. I wish I did. Instead, I have unintentionally contributed to at least two wars and am concerned that there will be more in the near future. Let it be known that I do not believe in violence, ever. I just want to understand. Violence and death are not helping me understand.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

More Maya Photos

I am feeling blah today,
but taking photos of Maya
always seems to cheer me up.

Friday, September 08, 2006

We Belong to the Earth

I just started reading Vandana Shiva's Earth Democracy. I am planning to read it slowly and so I will probably include multiple reflections on my blog.

I thought tonight that I would start by sharing a part of a speech made by
Chief Seattle in 1848 that she quotes.
How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.

If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the tree carries the memories of the red man.

This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites our family. All things are connected.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Request and Quote for the Evening

As I made a decision not to go to Palestine this November with the Quakers, a group I whole- heartedly respect, I felt the need to send them a genuine and heartfelt response.

I just ask that anyone who happens upon this blog does their best to be intentional. Please, think about your influence on the world and do your best for your footsteps to have positive ripples.

I will leave you with a quote for the evening from a card that my dear friend Andy sent me years ago and now dwells on the wall above my altar.

This is the way of peace...

Overcome evil with good

Falsehood with truth

and hatred with love.

-Peace Pilgrim

Monday, September 04, 2006

Despite the white capitalist patriarchy, or perhaps because of it, I am obsessed with my cat, Maya.



As they flex their political muscle, right-wing Christians increasingly reveal their condescending view of women as moral children who need to be kept in line sexually by fear. That's why antichoicers will never answer the call of prochoicers to join them in reducing abortions by making birth control more widely available: They want it to be less available. Their real interest goes way beyond protecting fetuses--it's in keeping sex tied to reproduction to keep women in their place.
-Katha Pollitt

In northern European countries such as Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands, sex among at least older teenagers is generally accepted, and there is little, if any, societal pressure to remain abstinent. But with that acceptance comes strong cultural norms that emphasize that sexual activity should occur within committed relationships—married or otherwise. Teenagers in these countries have longer-lasting relationships and therefore fewer sexual partners than do their peers in the United States, even though they begin having sex at about the same age.
-Cynthia Dailard

There will always be those for whom sex is a snack or a sneeze, but let us leave room for sex as communion, sex as spirit made flesh, sex as a brush with the feathered glory of Leda's swan, a brush with the divine.
-Christina Nehring

"What's the big deal anyway? Just let teenagers have sex when they are ready, when they have all of the information that will keep them safe from pregnancy and STI's, when they know what a healthy relationship looks like and are in one,and when they are aware of how wonderful and special sex is." This is what I usually say to myself in reaction to the abstinence-only and anti-choice verbal and legislative machinations.

The deal is that it is about sex and women having control over their own sexuality. Sex is a forbidden fruit, even if people are practicing safe sex and are in committed long-lasting relationships. If we are not "married to a man" we quite simply should not be having sex according to the right wing voice who so happens to be making decisions in the United States of America right now.

This is about keeping a
system of privilege intact, nothing more.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Kites rising from the Rubble

Just so you know, serious topics such as Lebanon haven't been out of my mind just because I have been writing about beans, music, traveling, and theater.

Here's some art in Beirut that Arofish did. You can find more images there. I recommend taking a look. I found out about his work via the Wooster Collective.

Dahyeh, August 25, 2006.

One of the most bombed out areas in Beirut. I was asked by local people to paint something happy, to reflect the spirit of the community. Consider that at the time of writing, there are still whole streets of indiscriminate wreckage. Shops, apartment blocks, houses:- rubble. The dust is thicker than a London fog and the machines have barely started to scratch the surface - under which there are still sure to be some of the dead. If I wasn't invited to do this then I wouldn't have.

Before starting I banged up a piece of explanatory text on the wall, for which thanks go to Ghassan for the translation into Arabic. It reads: "When Ramallah, in Palestine, is put under curfew by the Israeli Army, nobody goes outside for days. The streets look completely deserted. But from a tall building, if you look out over the city, you can sometimes see hundreds of many-coloured kites, flown from the roof-terraces by the children of Ramallah. The children you can see here are flying kites to celebrate the spirit of the people of Dahyeh. Some kites you can see are flying away. These are for the children who are no longer here; they are no longer held down to the Earth".

If you live in a place with wind, fly a kite this weekend for all of the people killed by war and injustice.

Black Beans

I made Carribean Black Beans tonight using a recipe that my friend Ben introduced me to in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.

I don't really have to open the cookbook anymore. Here's what I do:

Chop an onion.
Chop at least three garlic cloves.
Grate some fresh ginger or use powdered.
Cut a few sprigs of thyme.
Soak and fully cook black beans or use canned ones.

I start by sauteing the onions in olive oil. Then I add the garlic. After a few minutes when the onion looks translucent but not carmelized, I add fresh thyme, ginger, and allspice. I stopped measuring amounts long ago. I just add a bit.

I stir it all up and add the black beans, black bean juice, and then finally at least a cup of orange juice and let it cook on medium heat. The beans are especially good and thick if you squish them a bit.

I either eat the beans with rice or with couscous. Both are good. The latter is much faster to cook and I don't seem to occasionally burn it like I do rice. I'm easily distracted.

I was also going to make green salsa with these green tomatoes I got at the farmer's market but I didn't. As this is a long weekend and I have no plans, I'll probably make the salsa tomorrow.

Ben, you may not realize this but I think of you every time I make these beans.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Clumsy Lovers

I saw this band tonight that was pretty good, The Clumsy Lovers. They have a great fiddle player and are fun, danceable, and all age friendly. They did some polka, some reggae sounding beats, and much more. It was a nice surprise. I succumbed to listening to two songs but then didn't want to leave. I assumed that they were going to be cheesy. I was wrong. I have to admit that the fact that they were from Vancouver, B.C. made me like them even more.