Sunday, December 23, 2007

The 100 Friends Project


I need a counter to my Holiday blues (which have been a long and hopefully transformative process this year) and I would like to introduce my friend Marc Gold, and his 100 Friends Project.

Marc is an amazingly energetic psychologist and teacher from El Cerrito, California, who now spends half of his year travelling around the world giving money to needy individuals and small organizations, and half in the U.S. fundraising. On his website, you can learn directly about the people who receive the funds people donate. In his own words, the project began in 1989,

"When I visited India for the first time. I met a Tibetan woman in the Himalayas who had terrible ear infections, and I was able save her life with antibiotics that cost about $1.00. For another $30 I purchased a hearing aid that restored her hearing. I was shocked to learn something so important could be accomplished with so little. I began raising money among my friends, as much as people were able to donate. Then, in 1992, I traveled to India with over $2,200 in donations, with the goal of distributing it as directly and intelligently as possible. The rest, as they say, is history. "

It's so important now, with the onslaught of despair and orchestrated fear in the media, to remember that there are many, many heroes like Marc, making a big difference. He's inspired me to travel next year myself, and I may be doing volunteer work or even starting a handcrafts business for women's products in the course of my travels. Thank you, Marc.

And as a further counter to the cynicism I'm too often guilty of myself, I copy below from the 100 Friends Website Marc's network page, in case anyone else may be inspired to do something similar to what he's done. So, wishing all of us a Global and Merry Christmas!


Tips & Hints from Marc Gold: How to Change the World While Traveling

How do you prepare? Get a lot of education about the place you're going to -- through reading, watching videos, talking to people, surfing web sites. Learn about the area's history, politics, and geography. Get there with as much knowledge as possible. Learn 20 phrases in that language. People appreciate that, and it goes a long way toward making connections. Do special research into the problems of that country. Find out what the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are doing. Meet with them when you get there.


How do you raise money? Talk to people. Write a letter (see sample letter) and send it to everyone you know. If you don't have 100 acquaintances, so what? Do you have 40? Start a web page. It's all about making the time and having the guts to follow through. Become a non-profit [this is actually more affordable than you might realize. Create a newsletter. Have photos to send, or to show on your web page. The most important part of raising money? ASK for it.


How do you know whom to donate to? You meet trustworthy people, and you keep going back to them. Meet with people at NGOs once you're in the country, and ask them to connect you to good people who are especially worthy or needy. Be cool. Hang out for a number of days. Get to know people before you start talking about money. Trust your instincts. It's easy for money to go into the wrong hands. One family member can keep it from the others, or it can introduce jealousy. You learn as you go. The longer you do it, the stronger your connections will be, the more you'll know whom to trust -- and they'll connect you with honest, reliable, deserving people in the community. Do a web search for NGOs or NGO directories in the region you're planning to visit. Visit the World Organization of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO) or Taking It Global.

Here are some links from other "Global Ambassadors" that are very helpful:

http://www.ethicaltraveler.com/profiles.php
http://www.intentional-traveler.com/index.html
http://www.theculturedtraveler.com/Archives/Nov2004/Lead_Story.htm
http://www.responsibletravel.com/Copy/Copy100061.htm
http://www.sustainabletravelinternational.org/ecodirectory/responsibletravel.html
http://www.adventure-life.com/travel_details/sustainable.html
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/columns/traveller_archive/2003jul30/index.htm
http://www.sustainabletravel.org/case_studies.htm
http://www.imaginative-traveller.com/planet/projects.asp
http://www.backpacknation.org/
http://www.studenttraveler.com/mag/05-04/scoop.php

(Marc's website is Copyright (c) 2004 Judy Wolf )


Friday, December 21, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

PAX GAIA


I'd like to share an upcoming conference I've just heard about, by a national group called "Sisters of the the Earth". They offer impressive speakers, including Dr. Mary Tucker of Yale, addressing the issues of earth-based theology, as well as presentations by artists and ritualists. The conference will be held this year at Los Gatos, California July 10th through the 13th, 2008.

SISTERS OF EARTH BI-ANNUAL CONFERENCE
July 10-13, 2008
Presentation Center, 19480 Bear Creek Road, Los Gatos, CA


2008 Conference Theme: PAX GAIA


Holding the vision for Pax Gaia (the Peace of Earth) is seen as the most compelling challenge of our time. Geologian, Thomas Berry, introduced this theme after 9/11 in an essay reflecting the urgent need to embrace a cosmology of comprehensive peace. It is a peace that transcends Pax Romana (the peace of an empire) and Pax Humana (peace among humans). We are called to the Great Work that engenders Pax Gaia. To this end we create and foster
deep cultural therapies that address the deep cultural pathology of our time that has brought about such ecological damage (T. Berry, Evening Thoughts, 2006). The 2008 Sisters of Earth Conference will provide ample opportunity to network and share stories, music, art forms,
ritual and prayer, etc. . all through the lens of our theme - Pax Gaia.


What can we imagine as the cultural therapies that will engender Pax Gaia? Is it through our teaching, art, music, dance, poetry, lifestyle changes . the outer green projects and the inner
transformational work? What is needed? Come and share your Pax Gaia stories, network with kindred spirits.


Key speaker: Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker is pleased to join our 2008 SOE Conference. She is co-founder and co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology. Since 1987 she has been a member of the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment at the UN Environment Programme
(UNEP). She served on the International Earth Charter Drafting Committee and is now a member of the Earth Charter International Council. Mary Evelyn is vice President of the American Teilhard Association and teaches Religion and Ecology at Yale. (www.yale.edu/religionandecology)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sig Lonegren and Geomancy


I ran across the Mid Atlantic Geomancy site while surfing the Web and was delighted to rediscover the mind, friends, and research of SIG LONEGREN http://www.geomancy.org/

I met Sig in 1982, when he serendipitously set me on a spiritual quest that ultimately defined my art's quest, and my religious affiliations. It's funny how we are led, in the most unlikely ways, to the teachers we need.

I was living at the time in Putney, Vermont. I had a little crafts business, and was specializing in bars, dancing, and drinking too much. One fine Saturday morning I headed down to the Putney Inn from my studio, and was amazed to see all kinds of interesting looking people wandering around the Inn doing interesting things.

Some of them had tables with books, and were from NEARA (the New England Archeological Research Association). Some had weird looking pendulums. On the lawn in the front of the building was a circle of people. I liked their energy, so I hung around, curious. Within 15 minutes or so, a van arrived, and a very energetic man in blue jeans with a pendulum (Sig) gathered the group, and without knowing I wasn't included, ushered me into the van with them, even though I had no idea what they were doing, or where they were going.

It seemed like fun, I thought Sig was cute, it was one of those beautiful Vermont days when the land was inhaling and exhaling an intoxicating, mysterious green breath, and I was hungover anyway. So I went.

For the next few hours we visited three different stone chambers around Putney, two hidden on Putney Mountain, one virtually in the back yard of a local resident.

If you've never heard of Barry Fell, or "America B.C.", or "America's Stonehedge" in New Hampshire, or read any books about ancient geomantic sites (like Earthmind by John Steele (who I later met at a symposium at Rutgers), or Manitou, by Mavor and Dix) - then you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.

There are over 500 prehistoric sites, from cairns and underground stone chambers very similar to sites in Ireland and Great Britain, to astronomical sites marked, like Stonehenge, with huge stones to mark the positions of the solstices, equinoxes, and other celestial events, scattered throughout New England, many concentrated along the Connecticut River. Barry Fell and others believed them to be the remnants of a long ago Phoenician/Celtic colony that preceeded the European, or even Viking, visits to the "new lands". Others, like Mavor and Dix, argue that they were religious and ceremonial centers for native Americans, some of them still maintained until well into Colonial times.

But archeology wasn't what this little group was exploring. We were exploring earth energies, and Sig gave us all divining rods ("L" shaped coathangers) to determine the location of the leys* to see how each site was built on a place of geomantic intensity. I was absolutely flabbergasted even though I had never done this before, and didn't even "believe" in it. It just worked, the rods bent and swayed when they were in my hand. In time, a good dowser can experience his or her divining rods much as antenna, as sensors.

To continue my story, a year later a group met (I put it together) at one of these very sites to watch the Solstice sun rise through a chamber that was aligned with it perfectly. 13 of us gathered, and although we knew nothing about ritual, we did know that this was a powerful and magical place, that we were sitting where ancient people once sat to watch the sun rise over the green mountains, participating in the significance of the event. That was my first ritual, long before I ever heard of Gaia, pagans, goddesses, shamans, or anything similar.

Who would have thought a chance meeting would lead me on a life long journey?
But sometimes it works out that way.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

George Carlin on Pace, Progress and Love




A Message by George Carlin was sent to me today. I found him eloquent, reflecting on my earlier entry in this Blog about "Pace, Progress, and Hecate"(November), and felt like copying it here.

A Message by George Carlin

The paradox of our time in history is that we spend more,but have less, buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We write more, but learn less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait.

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind. AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. If you don't send this to at least 8 people....Who cares?

George Carlin


Just the other day I was talking with a friend who had lived in Tempe, Arizona. Tempe is the home of ASU, a mega-university, and is part of the vast sprawling urban complex that Phoenix has become. She lived there in the early '70's - my memories go back to the '50's, when I was a child.


We were talking about the "Tempe Beach". Actually, I was doing the talking, because she never heard of it - but I remember the "Beach" vividly. Back then, Tempe was just a little college town, and in the '50's, only rich people (very few of whom lived in Tempe) could afford a private swimming pool. The Tempe Beach was a huge public swimming pool that took up a whole block, and in the summer, when it was too hot to swim in the day, as soon as the sun went down families arrived with towels in hand, to swim, and eat hot dogs and ice cream from stands at the "Beach". It was a riotous scene of kids in plastic swimming caps and boxer shorts leaping in and out of the pool, a legion of life guards, flirtatious college students posing for each other, and young families socializing at picnic tables.


The "Beach" is long gone, and public swimming pools like that are pretty much long gone as well. Private swimming pools are very common now, and people can swim with all the "privacy" they could want in their own back yard, along with spending a lot of time and money maintaining that privacy (not to mention the enormously wasteful water use all this privilege of "privacy" requires). But I doubt, even with the obsession Americans seem to have with insulating themselves thoroughly from contact with "strangers" - that there aren't many people like myself, who would take the color, fun, and crowds of the "Beach", if they could still get it.


The demise of the "Tempe Beach" reminds me of the demise of the "diners" my 90 year old mother still remembers fondly (at 90, she does a lot of time shifting, and I think the faces and tastes of a diner in New York 60 years ago are more vivid to her now than anything on her morning tv tray) - breakfast, for her as a young working woman, involved a whole community of people. A restaurant was a bunch of people, cooperating to share an experience called "breakfast". Her eggs came with a waitress, cooks, dishwashers, and the regulars she got to know by virtue of eating there regularly.


For me at least, a disposible egg mac muffin and a throwaway coffee alone in the car on the way to work.......is no good tradeoff. Not just environmentally, and nutritionally, but emotionally and psychically as well.

As I write, I sit in the Epic Cafe, with its free wi fi,. Most of the little round tables here have laptops on them and people emersed in cyber space (like me). Some of the people have earplugs on, and not a few have their cellphones on the table. They're doing business, schoolwork, whatever. I don't know how I feel about it. I suppose, because I'm here, I've given up and joined the parade.