Crafting Gentleness

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Crafting Gentleness blog is moving to Tumblr

Come and join me at I will keep this site live, if only because there are hundreds of posts archived here.

bua agus beannacht,

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Education: My Partner & Vehicle for a Revolution in Midwifing Nonviolence."

Patch Adam's 2009 keynote talk, "Education: My Partner & Vehicle for a Revolution in Midwifing Nonviolence," free online. Patch's talk drew over 700 attendees and received rave reviews. Scroll down the page and it's at the bottom ...

This is a powerful talk. For those who aren't familiar with Patch Adam's work, check out or watch the Robin Williams movie about his life, 'Patch Adams'.

The Cultural Work of Corporations

"The Cultural Work of Corporations argues that corporate culture—the values, customs, and conventions of a business organization—has altered how workers conduct themselves both inside and outside the workplace. Brown demonstrates that corporate culture, an idea celebrated by business magazines and books, human resources departments, executives, and management theorists, is really a means of extending and strengthening work's presence in all aspects of workers' lives, even aspects generally categorized as private."

“Despite its pervasiveness and power, few nonspecialists take corporate culture as seriously as it should be taken. Brown is an excellent exception. Her important book reminds us that corporate social norms shape how people behave and the dizzying bubble and bust cycles of postmodern capitalism. And she also shows that behind the crunchiest New Age talk about flexibility and diversity lies the old Social Darwinism in snazzy disguise, a crucial bit of truth-telling that the flacks don't want you to hear.”—Doug Henwood, editor of Left Business Observer and author of After the New Economy

The Gesundheit! Institute

"The Gesundheit! Institute is a project in holistic medical care based on the belief that one cannot separate the health of the individual from the health of the family, the community, the world, and the health care system itself. Gesundheit’s model is designed to protect care as the core of the medical interaction. Our model is organized around these principles:
Care is free. Patients are treated as friends. Ample time is given to the care interaction (e.g. initial interviews with patients are 3 hours long). All complementary medicine is welcomed. The health of the staff is as important as the health of the patients. Care is infused with fun and play."


"HAND/EYE is an independent, international publication which explores the nexus between design and development, culture and commerce, art and craft, and environment and ethics. HAND/EYE’s goal is to engender intelligent debate among artisans, exporters, designers, artists, wholesalers and importers, retailers, and consumers so that all may make smart, ethical, and inspired decisions about their activities."

The School for Designing a Society

From their website:

There are no more than a handful of schools, in any country, based on the desire for social change; this school proposes in addition, that social change be based on desires. In no other school are the desires of its students given such a high priority.

This school is organized by people who make a point of knowing how to accept an invitation.

There are no administrators.

Unusual stress is placed on performance; but, performance understood in a particular way. Not athletic performance, bottom-line year-to-date economic or competitive scholastic achievement award winning performance. Performance, rather, in the sense of having an intent and choosing, from alternatives, a preferred way of presenting that intent. Thus, this school emphasizes performance not only in the sense of practicing music, movement, speech, the "Performing Arts", but also in the sense of daily performance, the performance of social roles, the performance of our identities. And further, the interest in performance is not academic, reporting the way things are, but active: performances, including the daily seemingly natural ones, are treated as changeable and choosable. There will be many opportunities in this school to have fun with, to play with, to experiment with ways of presenting intent.

"We want to address language: how we speak and how language speaks us. Inherited linguistic patterns form one of the strong arms of a social system, often hiding and justifying oppressive structures while ruling out the creation of alternatives to these. This strong arm is frequently left unexamined or considered to be of minor importance. In this school, while studying a subject, discussing an event, making a decision, we will squint nervously at the language used, prodding each other into moments of created eloquence."
-- Susan Parenti

What might I like my kids to learn about life?: in search of “tradition” (excerpt)

What might I like my kids to learn about life?: in search of “tradition” (excerpt)
Anthony McCann

(Full version to be published in the conference proceedings from Local Knowledge and Open Borders: Creativity and Heritage, University of Tartu, July 30 - August 4, 2009.)

I was living the dream. There I was, 1997, sitting back in my chair in a café in Galway city, the sun (unusually) streaming through the window, me playing the role of music journalist. I was working part-time as a writer for a local free-sheet newspaper as a way to pay the bills while doing a Masters at the local university. This writing thing all happened somewhat by accident – I had written a short promotional article about a local songwriters’ collective that I was involved with, and the editor liked it. He asked me if I could write him more, so I did. I soon found myself with a regular spot in the paper. One day I was asked if I could write about Irish traditional music. I hadn’t any experience doing so, but why not? thought I.
So there’s me, an Irish traditional music journalist, working away, interviewing one of the local music entrepreneurs about a show she was producing down at the Town Hall. The interview had gone well, and I had all I needed for a one-page feature on the forthcoming show. All being well, it would be published by the weekend. I switched off my tape recorder and relaxed a bit. What follows is a half-remembered rendering of the conversation that ensued.
“So, where is it you’re from,” she asked.
“Warrenpoint, Up North, over in County Down. Along the coast, not too far from Newry. Up a bit from Dundalk.”
“Oh. Did I not hear a bit of the South in your accent?”
“My accent’s more than a little weird, all over the place. I grew up in New Zealand when I was a kid, then we spent a while in Dublin and Meath before settling in the North.”
“And were your parents into traditional music?”
“No, not really. There wasn’t much Irish music in the house, mainly just Dubliners records or The Clancy Brothers. I think there were a couple of Gallowglass Céilí Band records lying about, but they didn’t get played much.”
“Oh.” A pause. Her tone changed, perhaps resting somewhere between disappointment, betrayal, and disdain. “I thought you came from a traditional family.”

“I rhyme to see myself, to set the darkness echoing” (Seamus Heaney, ‘Personal Helicon’, 1966).

My father passed away last year. As I think on his passing, I find myself reaching out to understand what it has meant to be a son. What it still means. I find myself searching for words to express what I learned from the man I loved as a friend and mentor. I look for ways to speak about those things that I hold dear. I try to find better words to talk about the helpful things I have learned in the company of my parents, my family, my friends. I wonder how to think more clearly about the things I love about life. I wonder how to make sense of those ways of being human that I would hope any future kids of mine to learn about. I find myself looking for ways to speak of learnings, unlearnings, and relearnings. I find myself looking for ways to speak of the connections and the distances that persist between me and others, the play of influences in our lives, the ways we can always-already make a difference. It seems to me that "tradition" is a notion that may well be suited to speak of such things.

I remember talking to the accordion player Billy McComiskey about his sense of tradition, about why playing his accordion with those tunes, in those ways, was so important to him. "It gives me strength against oppression,” he said, “It keeps me warm at night". That made sense to me. Another time I was chatting over a drink with a couple of women from County Clare about the bitterness of a copyright dispute over tune ownership in Irish traditional music. The elder of the two, likely in her seventies, got very emotional, almost to the point of tears, as she struggled to express how wrong it all felt to her, saying, "It bites to the core of what it's all about." That made sense to me, too. These are people for whom the notion of "tradition" means something. I want it to continue to mean something for me. Or, to put it another way, there are people, values, and things in my life that mean something, that are important to me, that strengthen me in my sense of who I am and how I relate, and I think "tradition" is one of those words (among many) that can allow me to speak and think more clearly about this. "Tradition" is a word that can open up conversations I want to be part of.
Or is it? As much as "tradition" feels right to me on a deep, emotional level, I am aware of the shadowy, grappling gravities of certainty, ritual, obligation, belonging, memory, community, blood, and nation that come with my own and others' understandings of “tradition”, and they leave me suspicious. “Tradition” can wield considerable emotional power; I have learned to identify those places of strongest emotion within myself and to start my questioning there. I have come across uses of the term that make me angry; "tradition" and "traditional" can be easily deployed as ways to sanctify, segregate, categorise, denigrate, and exclude. I have come across uses of the term that leave me cold, satisfying the exigencies of academic analysis, allowing for grand, abstract statements that seem to have little connection to the lives of real people. I have come across uses of "tradition" that satisfy the bluster of rhetoricians, meaning little beyond the demands of a soundbite.

With all of my suspicions and misgivings, though, I keep coming back to "tradition". I keep returning to clarify, to re-articulate, to grapple with meanings of the term, because I have a feeling there is something valuable there. The notion of “tradition”, at least in the English language, tends to be deployed academically in the company of verbal shadow-play concerning, among other things, identity, everyday life, customs, community, intergenerational relationship, and social change. That said, how has the notion of “tradition” become so marginalised within the social sciences and humanities? How has it happened that notions of “tradition” have become so profoundly depoliticized that they are frequently considered to offer little of relevance to social and political thought? How is it that folklore studies and ethnology are not explicitly considered co-extensive with sociology? Is there something inherent in the notion of “tradition” that leaves it ill-suited as an analytic term for social and political analysis? I would think not, but it seems to be a bit of an uphill battle.


In this essay I am “in search of “tradition”.” I am exploring the notion to come to an understanding that for me will be personal, meaningful, and analytically helpful. I want to be able to work with an understanding of "tradition" that allows me to make sense of my relationship with my father and his death as much as it helps me to make sense of the conversations, communities, and contexts of, say, "Irish traditional music". I want to be able to think of the notion of “tradition” as a way to ground myself in socially responsible action, as a way to facilitate thoughtful analysis and political engagement. I am not interested in what “tradition” is. I am interested in what “tradition” can mean.


I don’t want to find myself in a situation where I champion “tradition” as an unqualified good, and neither do I wish to denigrate “tradition” as an unqualified bad. In any particular context of use, I’d like to lift up the term and look underneath it, to gauge the attitudes and meanings experienced by the people concerned. I’d like my understanding of “tradition” to remain context-sensitive. Another way of saying this is that I’d like my conversations about “tradition” to remain always-already “peopled”, with a wish that they would actively let me work against depeopling abstractions.


I want to work with an understanding of “tradition” that leaves me nowhere to hide. I want to work with an understanding of “tradition” that challenges me to remain transparent to myself in my specificity. Can it invite me to consider the quality of relationships that I experience with others? Can it support me in considering the ways I or others influence each other or always-already make a difference? Can it sink me deep into conversations about consequences and effects of power? Importantly, can it make visible aspects of life that I or others might wish to suppress, deny, denigrate, or silence?

I want to work with an understanding of “tradition” that keeps conversations open enough to encompass the whys and wherefores of “traditions of hate”, “traditions of prejudice”, and “traditions of killing”. It is important that the more toxic possibilities of being human get included in the discussions that “tradition” can open up. Does it make sense to celebrate such practices (e.g., militarism) because they are “traditional”, and thereby inherently good? Should we treat them with a casually descriptive empiricism, and bask in the glow of academic self-satisfaction? I don’t want my understandings of “tradition” to immunize me against consideration and critique of our most toxic possibilities. We can do better. The notion of “tradition” is of little use to me in scholarly analysis unless it can prise open the cans of worms, provide a GPS-location device for the elephants in our rooms, and support and encourage the wisdom of the child who proclaims the nakedness of the emperor.


There are two workaday approaches to “tradition” that I will remain cautious about. The first is the dominance of discourses of resource management in descriptions and explanations of “tradition” and processes of “tradition”, where discussions become more about stuff than people. The second is the common characterization of “tradition” as prescriptive invariance, ways of thinking or doing that do not change, and that become rules that we feel obliged to follow. For me, these approaches to “tradition” do us few favours, ... fostering and facilitating damagingly reductionist stories about what it might mean to be human.


We have archives, histories, institutions, and communities of academic discourse and academic practice to support the apparent adequacy of resource-management thinking. We have doctrines, texts, rules, institutions, and systems of formal schooling to support understandings of “tradition” as prescriptive invariance. But understandings of “tradition” that would reduce my experience of learning and withness to discussions about things, transactions, conduits, texts, and obligations, just don’t feel right to me. There’s a sense of missing, of not-enough, and significantly so. There’s a strength, a robustness, a relational substance to what I think about when I use “tradition” as a gateway to reflection. I lose that with resource management and prescriptive invariance. The poetics don’t fit.


Resource-management or prescriptive-invariance models of “tradition” leave us with reductive stereotypes about the learning we experience in the company of others as we bear withness. But they are not to be summarily dismissed, for, as Nigerian writer Adimanda Adichie has said, speaking of “The Danger of the Single Story”; “the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story” (Adichie 2009).


People often reach for notions of “tradition” to speak of ways of thinking and ways of doing that were and continue to be important to them, especially when they feel that the persistence of their ways of life may be under threat by particular kinds of unhelpful social change. At such times, many people would like to speak about feelings of encroachment, a sense of injustice, anger about misrepresentations of what they believe and stand for, or maybe express their sense of deep relational connection with those who have gone before and who are yet to come. These deeply felt, profoundly emotional ways of thinking about “tradition” are nor readily articulable when the main ways of speaking about “tradition” centre on resource management or prescriptive invariance. The temptation is great, however, to accept the terms of discussion, and to join a reductionist dance that does violence to the experiential richness of what we can and do learn from those around us, both helpfully and unhelpfully. Fundamentally, dominant understandings of “tradition” leave little room for heart, for love, for people, or for hope.

Models of “tradition” based in resource management and prescriptive invariance leave hardly any room whatsoever for legacies of learning where questioning and critique are actively encouraged. They leave little room for us to speak of the courage that we learn from others to speak up and speak out, to face up to uncertainties, to challenge oppression. They do not easy facilitate conversations about agency, about uncertainty, about challenges, about learning to make sense of life for yourself. They don’t allow us to account much for the considerable differences that might develop between the lives of our most influential teachers and our own lives. Sometimes our greatest learning from another becomes the least visible. Sometimes what we get from somebody else is a learning about what we don’t want to do, what we don’t want to think. Those people are our teachers, too. Understandings of “tradition” as “that which is handed on” or “that which we must do” don’t in any way encompass those conversations.

Resource-management and prescriptive-invariance understandings of “tradition” leave us none the wiser in the face of aggressively intensifying social and environmental changes such as accelerative commodification, aggressive corporate industrialization, or climate change. They offer little room for voices of resistance or discontent. Understood as the transmission of single units, the units themselves do not contain their alternatives. Understood as aspects of people’s lives, they might. Understood as prescriptive invariance, thinking of “tradition” as the foundation for radical political alternatives becomes simply ridiculous. The mere acceptance and collation of “tradition” as “that which is given” can over time constrict the social imagination of other possibilities, of other ways of thinking, of other ways of being. Little wonder that people, particularly people of younger generations, often think that the only possibility to effect some sense of agency in the context of conversations about “tradition” is to radically separate themselves from what has been pre-sent, from the already-given. There are few stable conversations, few developed discourses, available for people who would like “tradition” to serve as a term that speaks of meaningful yet non-oppressive forces for personal and social transformation in our own lives and in the lives of our children. Surely there can be more helpful ways to think about “tradition” in the context of the social, political, and environmental challenges we face?


I thought a lot about that moment in Galway during the final months of my father’s life. Here was a man who had been my mentor and my friend, a touchstone for my thinking, a sounding board for my philosophical explorations. My Dad. Here we were, in the space between here and gone. Sitting with my father I understood a little better some of the emotional realities that these terms allow us to signpost for ourselves and others. For me, if the term “tradition” is to mean anything, it is to help me make sense of the question, “What have I learned from my Dad?” and, in turn, to open up the question, “what might I like my kids to learn about life?”

After many months of reflection, I finally decided that I was happy that the following understanding of “tradition” might allow me to open up the kinds of conversations I want to be part of:

“Ways of thinking, ways of doing considered within a learning context of relationship or community.”

This isn’t offered as a definition. I find definitions tends to reduce authorities for meaning, and establish hierarchies of knowledge, position, and perspective. Instead, it is offered simply as a positioning. For that positioning I shall remain accountable and responsible. This is what I would consider a helpful understanding of “tradition” in my own life. I may change it as I go along, but for the moment, I’m happy to work with it.

This understanding allows me to foreground and privilege people and their practices. I have not mentioned “things” in my understanding of “tradition”, primarily to leave a conversation open about reification, commodification, and thingification, considered as practices and particular (and peculiar) qualities of relationship.

This understanding invites me to consider conversations about “tradition” as also being conversations about learning. For a while I used the word “educational” in place of “learning”. I default to “learning,” as conversations about “education” tend to be dominated by discussions about formal, institutional learning, sedimented with hierarchies of knowledge and authority, and saturated with resource-management models of transmission. This isn’t necessarily the case, but I find that “learning” opens up a relationship-privileging, and agency-privileging perspective. It can also easily include both institutional and informal contexts of learning.

The inclusion of “context” is to invite me to specificity. I want my understandings and analyses of “tradition” to become always-already “peopled”, always-already relational. In this way, a conversation about “tradition” can become for me a series of challenges and questions about what it might mean to be human. I want to work with a notion of “tradition” that invites particularist analysis, that draws me down to the specificities of people’s lives, and thereby to the specificities of my own:

"If we are ever to remember what it is to be human beings, and if we are ever to hope to begin to live sustainably in place (which is the only way to live sustainably), we will have to remember that specificity is everything. It's the only thing we've got. In this moment I'm not abstractly writing: I'm writing these specific words on this specific piece of paper using this specific pen, lying on this specific bed next to this specific cat. There is nothing apart from the particular. Now, I can certainly generate abstract notions of writing or humanity or cities or nature or the world, but they're not real. What is real is immediate, present, particular, specific" (Jensen 2004:60).

By giving context due weighting in conversations about “tradition”, I remind myself that I am interested in the always-already hereness of relationship. I remind myself that casual abstractions can easily distance me from the nuances and subtleties of relationship that would otherwise challenge me any time I felt abstraction was a helpful way to proceed.


If I understand my own “traditions” as ways of thinking, ways of doing, considered within a learning context of relationship or community, then yes, I could consider myself to have come from a traditional family, indeed, anyone could. I don’t get any sense of status or superiority after claiming this for myself, but it does feel like the beginning of a whole range of exciting conversations. How have I learned in the company of both my parents? How have I learned in the company of my siblings? My friends? My lovers? How do I happen to be how I am and not some other way(s)?

And, crucially, what might I like my (future possible) kids to learn about life? What emotional climate and learning context would I work to provide for them? How might I encourage them to think about authority, about questioning, about working things out for themselves? How might I invite them to think about different qualities of relationship? About friendship? About love? About family? About relatives? How might I open up questions for them about their relationship to conflict, structural violence, oppressive systems, and social injustice? How might I encourage them to remain considerate of people that have passed on and of people who are yet to be born? How might I invite them to consider their role in social change and helpful social and political transformations? How might I encourage them to dream?

“What might I like my kids to learn about life?” invites a positioning, not only about which kinds of “traditions” of learning might be possible, but which might be preferable, which might be more helpful. Which in turn invites the questions, “more helpful for what?” and “according to what criteria?” I can continually return to clarify both what has become important to me, and what I would like to be important to me, being careful who I pretend to be for that is who I may become, and who others may learn from. I can become more accountable and responsible for my place in lives of interpersonal and intergenerational learning, holistically considered ...

"Calling All Clowns: A Creative Project and Personal Journey"

by Linda Ann Elizabeth Cripps.

"The beginning of this journey was the creation of a large (120 inch by 40 inch) mask for the first Educational Foundation Fundraiser with a Mardi Gras theme for Delaware Technical & Community College, Newark, Delaware. The work continued as part of my First Year Creative Project for the Creative Pulse program with the study of the Commedia Dell’ Arte and the performance of Commedia characters. The 2nd Masks of Transition convention at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, in the fall of 2005 was a natural segue into the next phase of the project: preparation for professional clown school in the summer of 2006. The prime point of the plan was to study mask by doing, and making, in addition to traditional reading research. It was harmonious coincidence throughout the two years as the opportunities that presented themselves for study led through a similar path as formal Lecoq study. The first year of the Lecoq study begins with work with the neutral mask and expands through multidisciplinary experiences and experiments in basic materials and poetry, to animals to larval masks, which would include masks such as the Basel masks, to study of character, situation and emotion, and music. The second year of Lecoq study includes gestural language, melodrama, commedia dell’arte, bouffons, tragedy, and culminating in clowns (Lecoq, 2001). Without planning it or realizing it, the steps of my personal odyssey of study followed much a similar course, although much abbreviated. It is the journey of a broken-down dancer, who simultaneously discovers a new art and a mission."

Change The World Without Taking Power

Change The World Without Taking Power

"John Holloway’s book, Change the World Without Taking Power (London, Pluto Press, 2002) has provoked wide-ranging debate on the left in Latin America (where Holloway is based) and beyond, and particularly in the global justice movement. We have brought together here a number of documents which reflect this debate – articles and speeches by some of Holloway’s critics, with replies by him."

Change the World Without Taking Power or Take Power to Change the World?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The problem with Big Green

"How do we cut through the chatter to reach people with strong values-based messages?"

"Do small steps actually lead anywhere? We all know the theory that small steps lead to bigger steps, which lead in turn to real change. And there are certainly a lot of small steps on offer these days, from the latest home energy tracker to the solar bikini. But it's not at all clear that the ready abundance of small steps is actually making any difference. Indeed, between greenwashing and green fatigue, emphasizing little behavioral changes may actually be hurting."

Green Living Makes a Difference

"Sure, “going green” around the home makes us feel good about the environment, but does it actually do anything? The answer is yes, according to research published this week in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"In the study, scientists found that even small actions around the house can reduce U.S. carbon emissions by more than 7% over the next decade, even before low-carbon energy technologies are developed and national cap-and-trade regimes for emissions are enacted."

Life After Poo

"When we debate with farmers and growers about the need to give up meat and dairy, many can hardly wait to deliver the coup de grace to our arguments. “You can’t grow things without animal manure!” You can almost hear the triumph in their sniggers. They’re wrong and a couple of organisations have been proving it for a number of years now."

Life After Poo

"When we debate with farmers and growers about the need to give up meat and dairy, many can hardly wait to deliver the coup de grace to our arguments. “You can’t grow things without animal manure!” You can almost hear the triumph in their sniggers. They’re wrong and a couple of organisations have been proving it for a number of years now."

RMIT (Australia): Think Green at Home, at Work

Think Green at Home;ID=c7nhmvf1eqpl

Think Green at Work

Easy Ways for Teens to Go Green

"Today's teens are more wired up, plugged in, worldly and savvy than ever. Many care deeply about the threats facing our environment, and are committed to making difference. But it's not always easy to know exactly what to do. Here are some suggestions to get started. ..."

Saturday, January 16, 2010


The International network of Cultura21 aims to bring together organizations and individuals across the globe striving to advance social, economic and ecological justice. Cultura21 stands for Cultures of Sustainability, allowing human social systems to evolve in harmony with one another and with their environment. See the Concept page for more details. The network gathers information on organizations and projects, identifies synergies, highlights 'best practice' cases from its members and facilitates the build-up of joint-projects and international events.

Michael Pollan's latest book ...

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual.

"Eating doesn't have to be so complicated. In this age of ever-more elaborate diets and conflicting health advice, ... this indispensable handbook lays out a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely, one per page accompanied by a concise explanation. It's an easy-to-use guide that draws from a variety of traditions, suggesting how different cultures through the ages have arrived at the same enduring wisdom about food. Whether at the supermarket or an all-you-can-eat buffet, this is the perfect guide for anyone who ever wondered, "What should I eat?""

The Americanization of Mental Illness

The Americanization of Mental Illness (New York Times)

"Americans, particularly if they are of a certain leftward-leaning, college-educated type, worry about our country’s blunders into other cultures. In some circles, it is easy to make friends with a rousing rant about the McDonald’s near Tiananmen Square, the Nike factory in Malaysia or the latest blowback from our political or military interventions abroad. For all our self-recrimination, however, we may have yet to face one of the most remarkable effects of American-led globalization. We have for many years been busily engaged in a grand project of Americanizing the world’s understanding of mental health and illness. We may indeed be far along in homogenizing the way the world goes mad."

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders

Médecins Sans Frontières is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Smith Farm for healing and the arts

"At the core of our work is the belief that each of us harbors enormous powers of healing within. We also recognize that there are both new and time-tested techniques to enhance health and well-being- even in the midst of crisis. Our integrated approach of stress reduction and inner quiet, art-making and telling your story, supportive listening and loving community, healthy lifestyle choices and state-of-the-art medical care can birth simple yet profound changes that radically transform the experience of illness.

"Our Cancer Help Program Residential Retreats provide one of the foundations of our work. Nestled in a lodge setting amidst the rolling hills just beyond Washington DC, participants and caregivers explore, educate, nourish, renew and reclaim their inner resources for healing. These weeklong residential retreats—designed in partnership with the internationally recognized Commonweal Cancer Help program developed by Dr. Michael Lerner and Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen—offer a spectacular year-round environment for integration, reflection and healing transformation.

"We also offer range of day retreats, programs and workshops at our City Center in Washington, DC. These ongoing programs— easily accessible to residents of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia— offer therapeutic yoga and meditation, cooking classes, support groups, book clubs, healing arts gallery events, workshops for healthcare professionals along with health, creativity, and nutrition programs. Our city location allows you to easily integrate the programs into your weekly schedule.

"Our artist-in-residence programs in major medical centers foster healing in clinical settings for thousands of adults and their caregivers. Through music, movement, poetry, storytelling and writing artists work alongside individuals and families in infusion centers, waiting areas and hospital rooms to foster hope, encouragement, laughter, deep healing and renewal."

The Nature Institute

"Nature around us is whole and interconnected. Though we are part of nature, we do not yet fathom her depths, and our actions do not embody her wisdom. A fundamental shift in our way of viewing the world is necessary if we would contribute to nature's unity rather than dissolution. At The Nature Institute, we develop new qualitative and holistic approaches to seeing and understanding nature and technology. Through research, publications, and educational programs we work to create a new paradigm that embraces nature's wisdom in shaping a sustainable and healthy future."

"The Nature Institute, founded in 1998, is a small, independent not-for-profit organization in upstate New York with a proven track record for incisive and thoughtful research studies, publications, and education programs. The Institute serves as a local, national, and international forum for research, education, and the exchange of ideas about the re-visioning of science and technology in an effort to realign humanity with nature. Biologist and Institute founder and director Craig Holdrege, senior researcher and publications' editor Steve Talbott, associate researcher Henrike Holdrege, and affiliate researchers Michael D'Aleo, Johannes Wirz, and Ronald Brady (deceased) have authored books and articles while also speaking at conferences, leading workshops, training teachers, and lecturing widely."

The Future Does Not Compute (Full Text)

Full text of Stephen L. Talbott's excellent book, The Future Does Not Compute. Stephen was one of the 'pioneers' of the Internet. He went on to establish The Nature Institute, which I'll post next.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Backstory café

"Backstory is a business venture that eschews capitalism; social change is our true bottom line.

"We believe stimulating public spaces play an important roll in fostering positive social change. Through our programming, we aim to become a hub for creative cultural activity and collective learning.

"Situated between the disparate neighborhoods of Woodlawn and Hyde Park, we serve as an inclusive gathering space where people from diverse backgrounds can meet, interact and build meaningful relationships. Please contact us if you have a community event you'd like us to host!" (Thanks, Tessy.)

The EYES Project

"The EYES Project, founded in 2004, is a Canadian not-for-profit organization committed to promoting environmental and sustainability education. Through the design and delivery of innovative professional development initiatives for educators and engaging learning experiences for youth, we believe sustainable living practices can emerge.

"Our Mission is to foster a more socio-ecological consciousness in today's society through promoting the values, knowledge and skills of sustainable community building as priorities in the education of youth.

"Our Vision is to empower young citizens to embrace a triple bottom line imperative, in which environmental, social and economic well-being become pillars of a sustainable future.

"Our Approach, through a collaborative spirit, is to work at a bioregional, 'on the ground' level with practicing educators, students, and existing environmental education organizations to provide a meaningful context to emerging provincial, national, and international sustainable development education policies and curricula."

Free e-book: Cultural Borrowings: Appropriation, Reworking, Transformation

Scope: 10th Anniversary Special Issue and e-Book

"Scope is a fully peer-reviewed online journal edited by staff and students in the Institute of Film & Television Studies at the University of Nottingham. It is published three times a year, in February, June and October. Established in 1999, the journal changed to its current format after five years of continuous publication. All issues dated between May 1999 and November 2004 are now available in our Archive. The first issue of the new series appeared in February 2005.

"As our title suggests, Scope provides a forum for discussion of all aspects of film history, theory and criticism. Given contemporary film studies' varied concerns, it is our belief that we can best serve our readers interests by promoting as wide a range of approaches and critical methodologies as possible."

Green is Sexy website

There's a straightforwardness and personability that comes with this site that I need to learn from as I think about redesigning my own (which is way too wordy at a time when I'm becoming less so). Fun, friendly, and smart environmental awareness is hard enough to achieve but they manage it effortlessly :)

"green is sexy came about when three friends realized that exchanging quips & tips on ways to make an impact on the environment was becoming daily conversation. They decided that, with a bit of research and some help from their friends, they could spread the word to all sorts of people and really make a difference. green is sexy is about tiny changes, big impact.

Why sexy? Because being informed is sexy. Being responsible is sexy. Being eco-friendly is sexy. Making a difference is sexy. Green is sexy.

We invite you to become part of the green is sexy community by helping us change the world one day at a time."

Anxiety, Panic Attacks caused by Hormonal Imbalance

Natural responses to anxiety attacks? Thankfully it's been years since I was anywhere near such a thing, but I know how distressing it can be. Helpful stuff here.

Cold weather, cold hearts?: Iris Robinson and ordinary cruelties

I've been feeling very uncomfortable about the mockery of Iris Robinson. For those of you who don't know anything about her, she has been a member of the Northern Irish assembly, and is married to the Northern Irish first minister, Peter Robinson. Recently she has been in the news on account of an affair she had with a 19 year old son of a deceased friend. Before the revelations she was best known for her very public homophobic stance on homosexuality, drawing the attention of the international media for her bibilically sustained vitriol in that regard.

As much as I'm certainly not a fan of hers or of her opinions, I'm still feeling uncomfortable. When the news of the affair broke within the Robinson household, Mrs. Robinson (yes, I know) attempted suicide. This was quite a while ago, back in March 2009. A couple of weeks ago she resigned her position apparently due to long-term depression. Right now Iris is reportedly undergoing 'acute psychiatric treatment'.

If Iris was someone I knew personally, I would be being particularly careful about how I talk to her, and how I talk about her to others. I would be making a concerted attempt to not make the situation worse.

Apparently that doesn't seem to make sense to many people in Northern Ireland at the moment. Iris Robinson has become something of a punching bag in the last week. Distasteful jokes are flooding the system, a parody of Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson may be a credible contender for the top of the Northern Irish charts, and Facebook is awash with groups emerging from the feeding frenzy. The international press are having a ball.

I'm going to come right out and say it - I think the badgering of Iris Robinson is irresponsible, possibly harmful, and very possibly in the spirit of what she herself was criticized for in her condemnation of homosexuality - spiteful, targeted villification.

I saw something similar happen with George Bush - apparently classifying another human being as a 'stupid chimp' can be excused in some circumstances. Why so? Human history is littered with humour that denigrates and demeans, but how is that helpful?

If Iris Robinson were to kill herself, and I hope she has enough support so that she doesn't, anyone who has fed the frenzy would play some part in the outcome. Our treatment of her is becoming inhumane, cold, and cruel.

I watched this week on Facebook as one person after another laughed with glee as some poor man in a video clip slipped and feel on ice on the streets of Dublin. That's not slapstick, that misfortune.

Laughing at other people's misfortune is something we could do without.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

European Summit for Global Transformation

TorrentFreak: Pirate Party Gets Second Seat in European Parliament
Pirate Party Gets Second Seat in European Parliament
Written by Ernesto on November 04, 2009

With the Lisbon Treaty being signed by all European Union member states, the Pirate Party has gained another seat in the European Parliament. The second Pirate Party seat will be occupied by the 22 year old Amelia Andersdotter, who will become the youngest Member of the European Parliament.

With more than 7 percent of the vote, the Swedish Pirate Party secured a seat in the European Parliament in June, and the possibility of gaining another if the Lisbon Treaty was signed by all member states.

The Lisbon Treaty was ratified yesterday by Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, who was the last to sign the document.

Ironically, The Pirate Party was against the Lisbon Treaty, which has now doubled the number of seats the party has in the European Parliament.

The newly gained seat will be awarded to Amelia Andersdotter, who will become the youngest Member of the European Parliament. In order to free up time for her political career, Amelia recently decided to quit Economics and Spanish at Lund University in Sweden.

Besides fighting for fairer and more sensible copyright legislation, she will also spend time on education and the development of Europe’s knowledge economy.

“The Parliament needs to be going for a sustainable knowledge economy, and that’s where I come into play,” Amelia told TorrentFreak.

Amelia will officially take her seat in Brussels on December 1st, where she will be joining Christian Engstrom. The two will have plenty of work to do in the years to come, countering the growing influence from pro-copyright lobby groups.

Youthink - Engaging Students Through Art

youTHink utilizes the power of art to foster critical thinking about local and global contemporary issues.

youTHink works to empower youth to find and use their voices to take action for positive social change.

youTHink brings students from different walks of life together, creating just and inclusive communities.

youTHink helps students learn about the legislative process and the active role youth can play.

To fight aloud is very brave - Emily Dickinson

To fight aloud is very brave,
But gallanter, I know,
Who charge within the bosom,
The cavalry of woe.

Who win, and nations do not see,
Who fall, and none observe,
Whose dying eyes no country
Regards with patriot love.

We trust, in plumed procession,
For such the angels go,
Rank after rank, with even feet
And uniforms of snow.

Emily Dickinson

Stevenson High School officials halt publication of student newspaper,0,1175320.story

Administrators at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire spiked Friday's edition of the school's award-winning newspaper because of concerns about stories on drinking and smoking by honor students, teen pregnancy, and shoplifting, the editor said.

Advocates of press freedom bashed the decision to halt publication.

"It is irresponsible to withhold this information so they can protect their fantasy image of Stevenson as a place where no one has ever gotten pregnant or shoplifted," said Frank LoMante, executive director of the Virginia-based Student Press Law Center. The paper's faculty advisers, Matt Lockowitz and Lisa Lukens, as well as the school's spokesman, Jim Conrey, did not return phone messages.

The ban is the latest rift between administrators and student journalists for the Statesman, regarded as one of the premier student newspapers in Illinois and the nation. Concerns about content last year led to the resignation of the paper's faculty adviser, Barbara Thill.

The Charter for Compassion

"A call to bring the world together…

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community."

The Charter for Compassion on TV

Montessori School Of Dentistry Lets Students Discover Their Own Root Canal Procedures

NEW YORK—Inside the Montessori School of Dentistry, you won't find any old-fashioned cotton swabs, or so-called periodontal charts, or even any amalgam fillings. That's because at this alternative-learning institution, students are being encouraged to break away from medical tradition and discover their very own root canal procedures.

"At Montessori, we believe dentistry is more than just the medical practice of treating tooth and gum disorders," school director Dr. Howard Bundt told reporters Tuesday. "It's about fostering creativity. It's about promoting self-expression and individuality. It's about looking at a decayed and rotten nerve pulp and drawing your own unique conclusions."

"In fact, here at Montessori, dentistry is whatever our students want it to be," Bundt continued.

Disobedience Makes History

Disobedience Makes History

Led by the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination

Saturday 23 January 2010, 10.30–17.30
Saturday 30 January 2010, 10.30–17.30

In 1989 thousands of citizens defied the law and brought down the authoritarian regimes that were already crumbling under economic burdens across Eastern Europe. Many of the seeds of these revolutions were planted by artists and subcultures who devised forms of civil disobedience and opened up a space for dissent.

Twenty years later we are in the midst of an unprecedented economic and ecological crisis not unlike that which swept across the east in 1989 and yet voices of dissent are being increasingly repressed. There has never been a more urgent time to develop new forms of creative disobedience and artists have the skills and imagination to do this. This workshop will explore the history and practice of creative disobedience and will culminate in a co-created intervention.

No arts or activism experience necessary.

Tate Modern Level 7 East Room
£50 (£35 concessions), booking recommended
Price includes refreshments

For tickets book online
or call 020 7887 8888

Many killed in Phillipine elections

Any work on gentleness is of little value to me unless it allows us to stand in awareness of events like this, and reaffirm that there can be an otherwise, that other ways of being are already possible. But also that such as this are not 'outside humanity' but very much 'of humanity', part of the possible, how particular people make sense of their lives in certain circumstances. These killings made sense to those who carried them out. How did that happen? How can we work to lessen the possibilities of it happening again, and maybe closer to home?

Twelve journalists were among 24 people murdered yesterday in the Philippines in what is thought to be the greatest loss of life by news media in a single day. Several of the victims were beheaded in the massacre carried out by a huge force of gunmen.

The journalists were among a group of about 50 people travelling in a convoy in Maguindanao province, on the southern island of Mindanao, to register candidacy papers for a local mayor planning to stand in a governorship election.

As the convoy reached the village of Masalay it was ambushed by a 100-strong armed gang said to have been led by a politician and a police inspector who opposed the candidacy of Esmael Mangudadatu.

The group, which included his wife and other relatives, were kidnapped and then systematically murdered. Mangudadatu, who wasn't travelling with the convoy, said female members of the group were raped before they were killed.