Posted in Inspiration

May 24, 2010

Poetry and Space That Matters

sun

|Photo by cat's_101|http://www.flickr.com/photos/danseprofane/4349608/|

On the heels of a very rich Whole Measures training last week, along with a beautiful weekend spent largely outdoors, I have been reminded of the power of poetry and paying attention as means of creating individual and social shifts.  As part of our opening during last week’s training, we invited pairs to read a selected poem to one another, paying attention to any feeling they had in their bodies while doing so, and then speaking to their partners and then the whole group about the impressions with which they were left.  The exercise was a great illustration of how we can tap into the different dimensions of social space to open people to new ways of seeing, being, and doing, and to what really matters most.  So what better way to start off the week than with a little poetry that speaks to what is simultaneously obvious and often missed in our lives?
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March 19, 2010

Spring Ahead

|Photo by dixieroadrash|http://www.flickr.com/photos/dixieroadrash/2514971744/|

|Photo by dixieroadrash|http://www.flickr.com/photos/dixieroadrash/2514971744/|

I believe New Years Day ought to be celebrated on the first day of spring.  It just doesn’t seem right to start a ‘new’ year in the dead of winter as we do.  In fact, prior to 1752 (more or less), most European countries (and their respective colonies) celebrated New Years Day on or about March 25th rather than January 1st.  Thus, until New Years Day was shifted to January 1st, one went to bed on March 24th in one year and awoke the next day on March 25th in the next year.  Pretty crazy, eh?

That the New Year used to be marked on March 25th makes total sense for a number of reasons, most obviously because the spring is the beginning of the planting season.  It is a time to sow the fields and start again.

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February 19, 2010

Poetic Justice

One of my passions is related to what happens when two of my passions fuse together:  art and social justice.  I thought I’d share some justice-related poems, and ask you to share some of yours – artists (whether poets, musicians, painters, actors, dancers, or others) that inspire you, or movements for change you know of, in a social-justice-kind-of-way.

February is Black History Month, so I’ll share two poems of the great  Langston Hughes (b. February 1, 1902 – d. May 22, 1967).  A  poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist,  Hughes was one of the earliest innovators of a new literary art form: jazz poetry. The poems that follow reflect justice issues of his day. Read More

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February 11, 2010

Question Box

Question

|Photo by Mikl Roventine|http://www.flickr.com/photos/myklroventine/2372327933/|

My wife and I recently missed one of our favorite church services of the year – The Question Box Service.  For a few weeks leading up to this particular Sunday, parishioners are typically invited to submit questions for the ministers to respond to.  These questions can be of any number of varieties – philosophical, ethical, political, personal, whimsical – and tend to be very wide ranging.  The answers to selected questions become that day’s sermon.   As interesting and entertaining as it is to hear the clergy offer their spontaneous reflections (they dress down for the occasion, doffing their robes and sitting crossed-legged on stools in front of the pulpit, a la talk show hosts), I find the questions themselves fascinating, especially when artfully phrased.  Just the reading of the card can elicit a ceremonious “oooh” or “ahhh” from the listeners.

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February 10, 2010

Government of the People, By the People, For the People?

I’ve been thinking a lot about why people love to hate government, and why I just can’t bring myself to hate it, too. I hold tightly to the notion of government “of the people, by the people and for the people” and want to hold it accountable to serving its role to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

To the people who say (as I heard recently on the news) “I want government out of my life and out of my pocket!”, I say, see how far you get without roads, bridges, schools, water, sewer, fire and police forces, courts, public transit, public parks, libraries, and the like.  To those who say (as I also heard recently) “I was raised that if you see something that needs to be done you just do it. No whining. No waiting for government. You just do it.” I have a few questions. Does that include paving a pothole? Educating a neighbor with special needs? Making books available to children and adults doing research? Building an extension to a road or transit system? Ensuring that the air and waterways are not polluted? Providing shelter, health care and other safety net supports for people in need? Making sure that everyone does their part to avert a climate disaster? You get my point. As a tax payer, I’m getting a pretty good deal for what I pay. It would take more than 80 years of paying our property taxes to exceed just the cost of educating three sons in private schools!

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February 1, 2010

Howard Zinn

Last week one of my heroes died. The first time I remember being with Howard Zinn was at an anti-war meeting at Boston University in 1970. Even then his strong presence guided so many of us by providing a deep historical perspective on activism and resistance and their rightful place in a healthy democracy.

He figured large in my life in the years since then. Through his writing and speaking he articulated a thoughtful rationale for an alternative point of view to traditional mainstream media analysis.

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January 19, 2010

Thoughts from MLK Day

Having attended a community MLK Day celebration and listened to several radio programs today, I’m more convinced than ever that we’re missing the point about the meaning of Dr. King.

One student, to his credit, spoke of Dr. King’s opposition to discrimination and linked that to what he saw as injustice in our present day health care system. No one should be discriminated against – and everyone has a right to access health care. Right on! This young man got the point. But, sadly, he’s the only young person I heard today who spoke of justice or attempted to connect Dr. King’s legacy to current day justice issues. I heard several other middle and high school students say things like, “No one wanted to resist Jim Crow until Dr. King gave them inspiration,” or “He opened the doors for hope and then people walked through.”

Not quite. Read More

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January 19, 2010

Refresh Your Resolution

Martin Luther King has been on my mind over the last few days.  I’ve been contemplating his prophetic voice, and how every age needs its prophets.  I’ve been contemplating the relationship between his belief that “the vision of where we’re going is the reality we have to claim,” Joseph Campbell’s work on the power of myth, and @EmergentCulture’s recent tweet proposing that “we need a new myth for our time, a story that will serve us as we encounter a time period unlike any before.”  It is all coming together in ways I’m not fully ready to define. Read More

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January 5, 2010

Movement and Art

I am just returning from two weeks in Europe, the longest I’ve spent there.  If you’ve ever been to Paris you know how strikingly glorious it is.  Geneva and Amsterdam are also special places, with their own distinctive beauty, their own way about them.  While there I had the opportunity to visit some amazing museums and I’m truly moved by the experience.

I’m struck by the thought that so much of the intentional beauty that I witnessed emerged out of social movements, intentional social projects – they were proposals for looking at the world, for ways of being in it.  Paris seems to have evolved through multiple story lines about its destiny and its place in humanity.  The shift from the art of the Louvre to the modern art of the Pompidou, and the biographical development of Van Gogh’s art all make movement very obvious.  We can see the developmental shifts, the exploration, the experimentation and the provocation, the passionate search for meaning or definition, the eternal question. Read More

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December 16, 2009

What’s the Word?

In the wee hours of the morning, I came across an amazing new project Seth Godin‘s been working on.? He pulled together 60 thinkers from around the world to answer the question “What Matters Now?” and created an e-book with their responses. Each person took a single word (sleep, re-capitalism, enrichment, nobody, meaning, ease, etc.) and used it to frame a short piece describing what they’re thinking about and working on for the coming year. And he’s hoping it will spread far and wide.

I thought I’d pass along a few short excerpts from this amazing piece.

One thing Elizabeth Gilbert describes in writing on the topic of ease:

“My radical suggestion? Cease participation, if only for one day this year – if only to make sure that we don’t lose forever the rare and vanishing human talent of appreciating ease.”

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December 16, 2009

What's the Word?

In the wee hours of the morning, I came across an amazing new project Seth Godin‘s been working on.? He pulled together 60 thinkers from around the world to answer the question “What Matters Now?” and created an e-book with their responses. Each person took a single word (sleep, re-capitalism, enrichment, nobody, meaning, ease, etc.) and used it to frame a short piece describing what they’re thinking about and working on for the coming year. And he’s hoping it will spread far and wide.

I thought I’d pass along a few short excerpts from this amazing piece.

One thing Elizabeth Gilbert describes in writing on the topic of ease:

“My radical suggestion? Cease participation, if only for one day this year – if only to make sure that we don’t lose forever the rare and vanishing human talent of appreciating ease.”

Read More

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December 7, 2009

Confused or Enlightened?

HafizIt is our tradition at IISC at the beginning of every year to send out one of our “classic” postcards to all of our constituents reflecting on the year past and the year to come as well as to announce our upcoming training schedule. As I was writing the introductory paragraph for this years’ I happened to stumble across what I had written last year. With the exception of last years’ reference to “renewed hope for reinvigorating civil society” (this was before the inauguration), I was struck by the similarities and the focus on the ultimate paradox. Read More

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