Friday, March 18, 2011

Planning Interviews - Do You Have a Suggestion?

The struggle for a sustainable, equitable world produces a mosaic of projects shepherded by visionary, energetic groups and individuals. Much happens behind the scenes and doesn't necessarily get seen by the broader community. And sometimes we get so focused on a particular tile in the mosaic that we don't always see the whole beautiful pattern.

I'm planning to use this space for a series of interviews of visionaries, activists and social/political change leaders in our community. I'm looking forward to getting to know people a little better. I'm hoping to learn more about all the projects unfolding here in Ithaca (and surrounding areas) and make connections between them. What are the shared ideas and ideals that make seemingly disparate people/projects part of the same mosaic?

Finally, what can we do to support/sustain each other without sapping the energy needed for each endeavor?

I have some ideas for a start - and I'm hoping that you will send me YOUR ideas for people and projects that you would like to learn more about.

Monday, March 14, 2011

“What Can Be Done in the Face of Heart Wrenching Truths?” An Exploration in Quotes

 What can be done in the face of heart wrenching truths? What can I do?  Complacency and willful indifference just doesn't work. Ignorance was never bliss, just one of several deceptive ways to keep me from my brothers and sisters suffering - distracted and removed from my own humanity to care. - Jemila Sequeira

Jemila wrote this on Facebook today and it really resonated with me. Sometimes world events can be like an undertow that pulls you down into the depths of anxiety, anger, even depression – and yet becoming “blissfully ignorant” is not a viable option for people who pay attention.  How do we stay compassionate and keep our balance?

Gloria Steinem said “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

"Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change." -Malcolm X

How do we use painful emotions to generate effective action rather than ulcers? How do we tell the difference between right action and reaction?

Siddartha Gautama: "Rage is a powerful energy that, with diligent practice, can be transformed into fierce compassion. However much we disagree with our enemies, our task is to identify with them. They too feel justified in their point of view." Is this really our task? Sometimes it seems naïve or trite. But there have been times when being able to find the kernel of humanness in someone who is acting in a way that I abhor has helped me to make a human connection and have them hear me.

And then there is Martin Luther King, Jr, who has another perspective on compassion when he says, "True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." This opens up the whole idea that helping individuals may not be enough. Does true compassion require us to address systemic change and, if so, how? Or does system change happen one person at a time?

It is easy to feel hopeless and lose energy. “Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn't filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear.” - Naomi Klein - and that is just what our adversaries do. "Hope is essential to any political struggle for radical change when the overall social climate promotes disillusionment and despair." - bell hooks

We must use all the tools at our disposal to resist the lethargy or unthinking action of despair. How? Music, shared celebration, attention to our needs (rest, good nutrition, recreation, introspection, love), art, mutual support, collaboration and connection. And balance – finding ways to place all the suffering that we see in a “bigger container” that also includes the daily progress, small victories, kindnesses, wonders, and joy of the world.

Malcolm X:  "We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity."

Thank you, Ithaca community, for your light!
Your Neighbor


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wisconsin Farmer's Rousing Speech

Tony Schultz speaks up for farmers and workers March 12, 2011. "An injury to one is an injury to all."

New Calendar Feature!

This blog now includes a calendar page that can be updated with community events (look to the right for list of pages)! Feel free to add information. If you can't access the main google calendar view to add,  you can post the information below the calendar and I will add it.

I'm looking forward to seeing what resources and links others find useful for advocacy and inspiration. Please post anything interesting on the related page and I will add it to the permanent lists.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Your Suggestions Needed...

As I set up this information center, please help me build it by posting suggestions for links to websites for:
  • Organizations that work for progressive political/social change
  • Resources for factual information to use in letter-writing and online commenting.

Coming soon -  a calendar to use for posting events.

Your Neighbor