“What a long, strange trip it’s been…”
I just finished a volunteer project for my church – a website called Christmas in Castle Rock. My idea was to invite others into the joy and creativity so evident in the Christ’s Episcopal Church community – an invitation particularly meant for people who are new to the Castle Rock area.
I vividly remember how homesick I was my first Christmas here, despite how many times we’d moved before. I loved Snoqualmie, Washington, where we’d lived before. I felt bereft at starting over once again. Meeting people at Christ’s Church helped me start to put fresh roots down here as well.
Creating the site took me back to my spiritual roots, and I found it a happy journey. So, I thought I’d share those.Read More
What: Music, food and fun in support of The Manasi Project
When: Sunday, October 19, from 11-3
Where: Festival Park, downtown at 300 Second St. Castle Rock, CO 80104 (Across from Daz Bog between Perry and Wilcox on Second Street)
Why: raise funds for school supplies for the children of Hopkins Village, Belize
How much: brown bag lunches for a suggested donation of $5.00; soft drinks and Krispy Kreme doughnuts available as well
More information: www.manasiproject.org; phone 720.364.6875; email (infoplease…at…manasiproject.org)
I’ve written about my son Nic’s experience with the Young Entrepreneur Academy of Douglas County, a program sponsored by the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce. It was transformative. In just 30 weeks, Nic created a not-for-profit to help children all over the world obtain educational supplies. He was mentored by area business leaders and Chamber personnel, which simultaneously strengthened his self confidence (“These successful business people think my idea can work!”) and made him aware of areas he might need to bolster his knowledge (“I really need to get organized.”)
It began with SCUBA
YEA brought an idea Nic had nurtured for a long time to vivid life. For several years, we spent every Thanksgiving in Hopkins Village in south Belize. We live in the very center of the United States, and I grew up on the Gulf Coast, so I miss my warm water and sugar white beaches. When Nic turned ten years old, we took him to a class at Planet SCUBA in Castle Rock and got him certified in SCUBA diving. Rob, whose approach to diving is as close to Zen as I’ve seen, taught us carefully and thoroughly, and we all three did our dives with him at the Blue Hole in New Mexico. (We’ve been on several trips with Rob and Planet SCUBA since, to Mexico, and they are world class. We are so lucky to know them.)
The first trip to Hopkins Village
For our first series of dives, Ryc had already found Hamanasi, in Hopkins Village, and we took Nic there for his first SCUBA trip in 2008. It was – also – transformative. The local divemasters took care of him like he was their own. They joked with him, initiating him into that wonderful brotherhood of men who love being on and in the ocean water. He felt like he belonged.
Floods damage the area
We came back each Thanksgiving for several years. One year, the area had sustained some ruinous flooding. Houses were profoundly damaged. The school had been affected. The roads, basic by nature, were rutted and washed out.
Nic asked about what we could do. The manager of guest services, Karina Martinez, suggested he concentrate on school supplies. Life intervened back here in Colorado, and we were unable to visit for awhile. But he never forgot. He stayed in touch with Karina.
YEA provides a welcome impetus
When Nic decided to sign up for the YEA, he opted for a not-for-profit to help those kids he so vividly remembered. We talked about what to name the organization he wanted to found. We discussed the idea of charity. Nic said that charity sounded nice, yet somehow condescending. He wanted something that emphasized the respect he felt for the people in Hopkins. So, he asked Karina for various ideas in the local Garifuna language, and she suggested Manasi, which means respect.
He put together a business plan; asked people he respected to serve on his board of directors – including Karina, because having a local contact in each area is integral to his concept; got his tax id and other paperwork in order, and his not-for-profit was born. Every step took longer than we thought it would.Every step, though, he met new people who offered help, expertise, encouragement and – once he is set up to accept it – money.
And now…we shall see what happens next
Finally, though, his first fundraiser is scheduled for Sunday, October 19. Nic is taking his first set of supplies to Belize in November. He is going to try to make a difference for people who were kind to him when he was so young. The local business people here in Colorado have also made a difference for him by encouraging his dream. Someday, the children he helps may make a difference for someone else. That’s pretty much what life’s about, when life is good, when we share our goodness, when love and respect abound. Manasi.
I have a friend, Pam Mazanec, who serves on the state board of education here in Colorado. She wrote an inelegantly phrased post on a Facebook group called SPEAK for DCSD about how the U.S. decided to end slavery. SPEAK is decidedly against the current school board here in Douglas County. Pam supports that school board. We’re having a locally lively debate about, among other issues, the high school Advanced Placement US History curriculum, as you may have heard. Our neighboring county, Jefferson, has seen teacher and student walkouts. Pam’s post was intended to support the idea that the US History framework should analyze the factors that make us great and the factors that weaken us as a country.
She said we ended slavery voluntarily, and at great sacrifice – and that we should teach about the nobility of our country’s intrinsic willingness to endure the necessary sacrifice to end a given evil. Her phrasing was understandably objectionable to those whose ancestors had no say in the matter. However, I am increasingly appalled by the way people who disagree with her political views are treating her.
Her casual post has offended the historical scholars (and grammar Nazis) among us. I am not sure why, since she was writing a casual post on a Facebook page that was clearly not meant as an historical treatise. I’ve not seen a single post that says, “Hey, I am having trouble understanding what you mean.” “Not sure what you’re thinking.” “Let’s talk.” But I have seen her thoroughly skewered by a media outlet that disagrees with her politics, and another is now linking with ironic disbelief to the first.
(By the way, if every Facebook post I’ve ever done is going to be subjected to a scholarly review, I am in so.much.trouble. Let’s just say that now. Go find those impulsive posts, or the ones with the magnificent typos, because I’m sure they exist.)
As for Pam, though, I understand what she was trying to say. Because I know her. She is intelligent, educated, compassionate and downright nice. She was calling out the heroism of the people of all classes, races, and walks of life who helped end slavery. She was saying that our country is, at its heart, wonderful. She was saying that, when the chips are down, she believes we do what is right. In this case, ending slavery cost our country as a whole millions of lives – black, white, slave, soldier, Union, Confederate. We persevered, even then, because we do what is right. And I still understand why the way she put it was not well received.
Because, in part, we don’t. We don’t rise to our best selves when we are not inspired to be exceptional. We don’t when all we want to do is sit in the stands and throw verbal popcorn at the people trying to make meaningful change happen. Most of all, we don’t when we are focused on scoring political points and increasing our polarization. So, the question we should each ask ourselves is whether we are on the side of mediocrity and polarization or we are on the side of dialogue, consensus and progress.
Moving apart, refusing to find common ground, belittling and insulting those with whom you disagree, leads to that sobering statement that Martin Niemöller made
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
My friend Pam is being called a moron and an idiot – by other people I consider friends, or at least friendly acquaintances – on social media. Pam is not a moron. She is, however, a conservative. An increasing number of people in social media think that it is fair play – productive, even – to insult and deride conservatives. I am not a conservative. I am somewhere between a moderate and a libertarian. That means I don’t support polarization on either side. At this point, if you’re engaging in the public vitriol, if you are coming for Pam, you are inevitably, eventually, coming for me. You either don’t understand history and consider yourself as someone fighting for the vulnerable – or you do, and you’re a political opportunist. As Joan Rivers used to say, “Can we talk”? Because, if we can’t, we’re in trouble.Read More
Censorship and the Jefferson County student protests
The quote that started it all
Whoever controls the narrative, controls history
Something to ponder
If you’ve studied history…
Real freedom is creative, proactive, and will take me into new territories. I am not free if my freedom is predicated on reacting to my past.
“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…”
I have recently been smitten by the desire to bake bread. (I use a bread machine, so I am no purist – just a lazy baker.) The welcoming smell of the baking bread, the magic when it rises, even the occasional despair when it falls…it all brings out a deeply felt, contented nest-making instinct in me.
I live in Colorado, however, at altitude – 7,200 feet or so. Therefore, baking of any kind is a challenge. My first loaf could have easily served as a lethal projectile instead of food to nourish body and soul. It was, simply, a cannonball made of flour. So, I went in search of help.
This list of handy tips from WikiHow has been invaluable. I’ve added liquid, reduced the amount of flour, reduced the yeast, and added salt. I can now make a reasonably good loaf of white bread, wheat bread, oatmeal bread, and banana bread. (I like substituting our dairy goat’s milk for regular and using maple syrup or honey for water or other liquids, but that’s purely for personal taste. None of it is essential to making a reliably elegant loaf.)
Over the weekend, my father, who was visiting from Alabama, made huckleberry jam. We could not find any tips about jam in a bread machine at altitude. The only guidance was to drop the temperature so many degrees per 100 feet of altitude, which was unhelpful when working with an automatic bread machine, since one cannot manually adjust its temperature.
So, after a first less-than-satisfactory batch, here’s what we did. We cycled our jam ingredients through the machine’s jam cycle twice. Even at high altitude, the huckleberry jam thickened into a sweet, sugary and wonderful treat for the tongue. I served it for breakfast with my homemade oatmeal bread during our first snow of the year – Friday, September 12. (That’s early snow, even for whimsical Colorado.)
Making bread and jam at high altitude in Colorado is a feast for the senses and a challenge for the mind. So, give bread making – and jam making – a try, wherever you are. You’ll be glad. And, check back here for recipes. I plan to publish a few as the autumn progresses.Read More
There is really no such thing as conditional love and unconditional love. It is just that there are conditions and there is love.
If you talk about love, it has to be unconditional. The moment there is a condition, it just amounts to a transaction.
Maybe a convenient transaction, a good arrangement. Maybe many of you have made excellent arrangements in life. But that will not fulfill you. That will not transport you to another dimension. It is just convenient.
Love need not necessarily be convenient ; most of the times it is not.