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...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )
 
   
 
 

Archive for the ‘Conversations’ Category

Dialogue to help create the change we want to see

Monday, May 21st, 2012

I’ve been thinking about getting more involved in the dialogues and projects on the Civic Commons. In my inbox today I received an e-newsletter inviting people to participate in a project by America Today. They want people to answer four questions: How did we as a nation get in trouble economically? Who do you blame? How do we as a nation solve our economic problems? What are you doing differently to get through the downturn?

What I really like about the Civic Commons is that the philosophy of the project involves polite dialogue oriented around making the change we want to see.

Here are my answers:

How did we as a nation get in trouble economically?

There are multiple factors. The situation that allowed the disparity of wealth to grow way out of balance was one major one. Military spending rather than focusing on developing our strengths through education and investment in people and small businesses was another one. The way Wall Street and the banks focused on nonproductive speculation was another.

Whom do you blame?

I blame lack of citizen involvement and lack of transparency and too much corruption in the system–people not using it properly. I blame the Supreme Court a bit. I blame apathy a lot.

How do we as a nation solve our economic problems?

1) Stop killing people–defund the military and instead get those soldiers working at home on infrastructure building for a green economy.

2) Believe in a better future–the power of belief is amazing.

3) Follow up words with action. Don’t just protest–do community projects to help change the situation for the better.

4) Work on making sure our business actions follow our ideals more and stop the cynicism.

What are you doing differently to get through the downturn?

1) I’m working on better business practices–making sure our business is doing business well, ethically, honestly. This does translate into more opportunities. Our business is actually growing through this period, and the latest news shows Ohio is recovering as well.

2) I’m investing time in educating myself on current trends in my business and also am reading books on how to grow the business.

3) I buy locally whenever possible–“vote with your dollars.”

You can post your own answers to their four questions here…

 

Being at Peace in Community – Introducing Ourselves – Thoughts

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

I was very calm and happy yesterday during our meeting, “Introducing Ourselves: Being at Peace in the Community.” Only a couple poems per se were read—the rest of the time we were wrapped up in intense, interesting discussion. I followed the discussion where it led, not wishing to impose too much of the initial kernel of the idea (meeting with police to stop violence) on the group but rather seeing where the community need is greatest. It seems that people are most concerned about children and community issues with children. At first we talked about the need to help stop bullies—we theorized that bullies are bullies because they have been bullied at home. So we discussed the need to create safe, kind role models who kids can emulate if they do not have that experience to draw from at home.

And we became very concerned about the perception of kids—like, for instance, if we were to just perform at a school one time and then move on to the next event somewhere else, what kind of expectations have we set up for the kids? Have we really helped things or have we just done something for the name of the project rather than the project’s mission?

So there was this sense of wanting to hunker down and really understand how to set the pathways to change even after we’ve gone to the next location (if that’s what we’ll do). And definitely the thought of following up and also preparing people – like meeting a week before hand and just kind of chilling with and meeting the community, then the next week doing the actual creative event, and then the following week (as an example of a time scale) doing some kind of follow-up action.

Then we really started learning more about the scale of issues in some parts of the community. I’ve not lived in a particular neighborhood where I’ve had to worry about being shot much. Some have. One person came in to the meeting and discussed the project with which he’s involved, the Community Greenhouse Project. This project is setting up in a neighborhood where there were multiple killings. I like the idea of the garden as a healing and integrative experience and hope that the project succeeds and helps people in the neighborhood.

We also talked about the need for people who have good heart to learn more rather than impose a mission ignorantly. So it was posited that some initial events could involve a kind of “we’re here, listening; please inform us and help us understand” message. Rather than broadcasting something “from above” it would be a mission of extended community building that is respectful.

Some talked about the existence of gangs—something that I hadn’t even considered, hadn’t even hit my radar of consciousness. I mean, I’ve read about gangs a small bit but didn’t really know that there were gangs in Cleveland. I really think that even if someone identifies as belonging to a gang that doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is bad. (My inside belief: no one is actually bad—it’s only the circumstances and the actions that might be bad.) So it is important to me to think about people in terms of them being people with families even if gang members, but to not ignore the reality of the issues involved with gangs.

There was the discussion of the need to explicitly identify core principles as a group and as perhaps individuals acting on our own or with other projects, and how this can focus collective vision.

We talked a little bit about how to get kids and parents more interested and perhaps slam poetry might be a means of doing this, as it is fashionable and involves diverse participants of various backgrounds.

So, lots of interesting talk, and I was calm (I’m an introvert), and I think that it might be a slower process than I thought but that’s OK. I mean, it could be a kind of organic, long term activity. I don’t want to overcommit anyone, though! There was also the thought that we need to keep the involvement fun and lighthearted to an extent so that we don’t get burned out. I really enjoy intense activity but also I don’t want to be tired all the time, so I am hoping to help keep it fun and productive and that it actually helps things.

I’ve attached some photos I took of my kind of unconventional notes jotting down of some of the ideas bounced around in the group.

My notes:

GREEN SOUP

PUSH KINDNESS, GENTLENESS & OPTIMISM

SMOKED SALT, SMOKED PAPRIKA & SHREDDED BEETS, HIJIKI WITH AVACADOS AND TOASTED SESAME OIL

REGAIN SOCIAL SKILLS

CLEVELAND, A GOOD COMMUNITY

RELATIONSHIPS

VISION

LEARN & LISTEN

WHAT’S GOING ON?

STOPPING BULLYING; STOPPING THE BULLYING OF KIDS WHO ARE BULLIES

THINK ABOUT THE PPL, PARTICULARLY KIDS AND WHAT THEY ARE THINKING AFTER THE EVENT

BE ABOUT THE PEOPLE, NOT THE “PROGRAM”

FOLLOW UP

REFINDING OPTIMISM

ASK PPL IN AREA ~ REC CENTERS ~ HOUGH

WRITE A PAGE & LET THAT PAGE COME OUT OF U

CONNECTEDNESS

BUILD A MODEL ON CERTAIN PRINCIPLES ~ WHAT WOULD BE OUR CONNECTION TO THE COMMUNITY?

“THE LONGER WE TELL THE TRUTH THE MORE IT WILL BE THE TRUTH”

SHYNESS

CREATIVITY & COMMUNITY

“WE WANT TO TAKE THIS TO YOUR AREA ~ TODAY WE’RE AT THIS PLACE IN CONJUNCTION WITH ____”

COMMUNITY CAN BE LIKE A GARDEN

OUTREACH

PEACEMAKER ALLIANCE

COHESIVE GROUP OF PEOPLE ~ POETRY COUNCIL

AFFECT INDIVIDUALS: GO DO THE POETRY, GO OUT THERE AND SPIT SOMEWHERE

REVEREND BILLY, PERFORMANCE ARTIST

U.S. SOCIAL FORUM IN DETROIT, WORLD SOCIAL FORUM

DETROIT URBAN GARDEN COMMUNITY

RON SCOTT, BOGG CENTER

COMMUNITY RELATIONS BOARD OF CLEVELAND

ALLIED MEDIA CONFERENCE DETROIT

“TRANSFORMATIVE SOCIAL CHANGE DISCUSSION”

SCATTEREDNESS, BUT HAPPY, OPTIMISTIC, CHILDREN BIGGEST CONCERN

EDUCATION

HOW DO WE GET PPL ENGAGED B4 PROBLEMS HAPPEN, 2 STOP PROBLEMS?

“ME & YOU”

PRINCIPLES, PEOPLE WITH PRINCIPLES OF ENGAGEMENT

UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE

GETTING ENGAGED

LEARNING ABOUT PEOPLE

CARING

THE VALUE OF TEACHING & ARTICULATING

TRUTH

BEING MORE CIVIL

REMEMBERING OLD VALUES AND REAPPLYING TO NEW CONTEXTS

~ Lady

 

Menu Order for Reality: Dec. 15, 2011

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Hi God/Goddess/Universe/Whatever-You-Are,

With utmost respect, I’d like the freedom to talk with You today as though You are expecting me to order from a menu–I pray that this is OK.

I am really glad that some troops are returning back home to the United States. In a way, they are being “detained” back home. What I would like to see is for all of these troops to be integrated into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as laborers. The first project I want to see them build is high speed, affordable rail such that people from everywhere in the United States can easily get around to see their families who might be living in other states without having to use airplanes, cars and buses. I would like to see the system work such that it is coordinated with local rail systems much like those I have seen in Europe, but of course, again, a lot less expensive to use.

I’d like for all the troops and all the military contractors to also return home and be integrated into similar projects such that rather than having oppressive employment, these people are employed in ways that do not oppress.

I’d like for all those who have been needing work who happen to be in the United States to be able to easily obtain work that is very high paying. One particular large project I have in mind is converting the monoculture crop swaths to organic farms with varieties of crops–this helps feed bees better. I’d also like to see a highly-paid beekeeper on every farm.

I want the subsidies for corn and soy to be diverted to all organic produce such that people can afford to buy the produce, and I want to see a lot of tasty vegetarian recipes that are easy to prepare.

I’d like to see a sliding scale for healthy food such that people who need food stamps receive food stamps to the extent that the food stamps are needed by these people. But I’d like for us to also think about the obesity and population problem and for us to use our foods mindfully so that we are not consuming too much of the Earth’s resources.

I’d like for people to limit their consumption of other animals by at least half, if not more. I prefer that homo sapiens become vegetarians because it is more ethical and kind to be a vegetarian, but I understand that our cultures have tended to foster acceptance of eating other animals so of course I understand the eating of other animals.

 

smith’s Wake-up Dream – Dec. 14, 2011

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

smith relaying his dream to Lady this morning:

it was a big old house, many many floors. all the people had been turned against each other, so they were misusing each other, abusing each other. and we convinced them to work together.

one bad guy even apologized to the rest of us for bullying. then the people who had turned everybody against each other–the controllers–came, and we pretended that it was discordant like before, and we fooled them.

but somebody had left a note on the banister on one of the stairwells that would have given us away. the bad people stopped by and were checking us out. we fooled them; they thought everything was normal.

but they were walking up the stairs and we were afraid they were going to see the note and find out, and that’s when I woke up. it’s the wake up dreams you remember the easiest.

– smith & Lady

Personal disclaimer by Lady: I do not believe that bad people exist. I believe that the situations have sometimes been such that we sometimes have perceived some people as bad.

 

Dear God-It-Ess-Universe

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Dear God-It-Ess-Universe,

Of immediate concern in the vicinity is the flooding that’s happening in the U.S.

And of course, the tornadoes.

I am writing to let you know that I am concerned. I do not wish suffering for people. But of course I choose biosphere over people, if that choice has to be made in that way.

Perhaps extreme weather events are the only way we’re going to change, and perhaps people in the U.S. in particular need to be awakened to extreme weather events and their cause.

I think the best thing we can do is stop driving cars unless necessary, stop eating meat, unplug everything we can, and live within the rhythm of sun, moon and birdsong.

It’s reputed that meat, the desire for meat, is the cause of much suffering on this planet, both to our biosphere and to massive amounts of people and animals.

It takes so much more water, fertilizer, land space, vegetable matter to raise a pound of beef than, say, an equivalent amount, calorie-wise, of asparagus.

Forests are being clearcut in the Amazon to grow things to feed cows and to grow biofuel so that people can have luxurious lifestyles. The Amazon is the greatest area of lung on this planet. Please help us cease this clear-cutting by making wiser choices as ethical people and by creating better, more ethical opportunities for the people doing the clear-cutting as a vocation.

I am making incremental changes in my lifestyle to try to consume less, eat more locally, eat less meat, etc. Three weeks ago I bought four bags of magic beans. Two weeks ago I cooked two different things in the oven at the same time to save on energy consumption. The week before I learned how to make a healthy, inexpensive and tasty variant of hummus. This past week I’ve started to make my own bread.

I’m buying cage-free eggs from local farmers. The vendor at the West Side Market showed us pictures of the chickens. They are beautiful. They laze about in tall beautiful expanses of green grass. The egg yolks are bright, rich yellow, and I swear they taste extra fine.

I am soon getting half a share of produce from Geauga Family Farms. Pick up points are not limited to Geauga. There are points in Cuyahoga and Lake County as well.

I have doubled up duty on car rides. The two days I commute to work, I also do something special with Grandma. And I’m doubling and tripling up other car trips as well. I’ve started to consider only going to entertainment and poetry events in my local community as much as possible. My near goal is to commute with friends to get to events that are further out to minimize our impact on the environment and pocketbook. I aim to do everything I can do, within reason, yes, yet stretching my idea of reason to something that can effect change and help me live in a more joyful and reverent manner.

So what I’m asking you is to ease up on the floods and tornadoes, Universe. Have some faith in us and help us keep the faith by making immediate changes where we can perceive possibility for change.

Other prayers of note:

I pray for moderation, yet I pray to be possessed when I should be possessed.

I pray that I am ethical, calm, joyous, productive, and the same for Smith.

I pray that a certain family member starts writing a poem every day.

I pray that I finish my commitments so that I can feel more free to follow through on commitments to myself.

Thank you for the many, many blessings and miracles I receive daily from you-me-It-Universe.

Some private thoughts, hopes, thanks, prayers as well…

Love, Awomen and Amen,

Lady

LADY’S HUMMUS RECIPE

1# chickpeas, soaked overnight, rinsed, boiled in lightly salted water 1-2 hours until soft.
2 heads of garlic, roasted at 350 degree Fahrenheit 1/2 hour.
1/4 – 1/2 cup of your favorite vegetable oil (olive oil is a hoax perpetrated on the masses)
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Squeeze roasted garlic out of its skin and mash in large bowl with fork, then blender. Squeeze cooked chickpeas between fingers as much as possible and put in the bowl as well. Add the other ingredients. Mix as much as desired (I like little chickpea bits left in mine.)

 

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Smith’s telling me all kinds of stuff this morning…

I’m thinking of Sunday Morning Coming Down right now and it’s quiet, it feels like Sunday morning.

Kris Kristofferson was a Rhodes Scholar, which means you have to be pretty fricking smart. After he graduated in England, he came back to the U.S. and with all this college education and everything, he chose to get a job at Johnny Cash’s recording studio as a janitor because he figured he’d get a chance to slip Johnny Cash a copy of his songs he’d written.

And one of the the songs he slipped to Johnny Cash was Sunday Morning Coming Down which is one of the saddest, most heart-evocative songs I know.

Johnny Cash was gonna sing the song on his show. His TV people came to him and said, “We don’t want you to say this line On the Sunday Morning sidewalk wishing Lord that I was stoned/ cuz there’s something in a Sunday makes a body feel alone.” We don’t want you to use the word stoned on TV.”

And Johnny Cash turned to Kris Kristofferson and said, “How do you feel about this? You wrote the song. What do you want me to do?”

Kristofferson said, “It’s your TV show. I would totally understand if you don’t want to use the word stoned.”

Everybody left it at that. And Johnny Cash went out there and sang it the way it was written.

I can’t believe Smith has all this shit in his brain, but I sure do enjoy it.

Sunday Morning Coming Down by Kris Kristofferson

Well I woke up Sunday morning,
With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes,
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
An’ I shaved my face and combed my hair,
An’ stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I’d smoked my brain the night before,
On cigarettes and songs I’d been pickin’.
But I lit my first and watched a small kid,
Cussin’ at a can that he was kicking.
Then I crossed the empty street,
‘n caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken.
And it took me back to somethin’,
That I’d lost somehow, somewhere along the way.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

In the park I saw a daddy,
With a laughin’ little girl who he was swingin’.
And I stopped beside a Sunday school,
And listened to the song they were singin’.
Then I headed back for home,
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’.
And it echoed through the canyons,
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

Do do do do do do do do,
Do do do do do do do,
Do do do do do do do do,
Do do do do do do do.

To fade…

 

Open Sesame

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The bottle of sesame oil spilled in our cupboard and it smells like Planet Sesame. Seems good luck to have so much sesame open.

“Must take a lot of sesame seeds to make sesame oil,” said Smith as I wiped it up.

“I’ve always been curious how they make it. Maybe off-world? Planet Sesame?”

“God made it,” said Smith. “That’s all you need to know.”

“Does God have hands? Does God have people?”

“God just has this giant replicator. He picked it up after Star Trek cancelled.”

“I don’t know. You might be right,” I said.

Lady

 

Everythingis part of ALL

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Communication is slightly confusing to me sometimes; I can accept rain. Breeziness was felt on my left air, right side of face a little numb. Left ear the hum of Reality.

The commentary of the toilet lid in a bathroom, the soberness of morning. Mandy asked a question along the walls.

Everythingis part of ALL. I believe everyone is forgiven, and I do. Everything seems better, and I want it to be so. I do not want you to feel that you can’t talk candidly but sometimes I do.

Take care, take care, and have a great day.

I always want my ears to ask, and perceive answers.

Lady

 

On Libya: Let the amount of deaths be minimal. Let it be so.

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

We are changing perspective and recognizing that air strikes are not humanitarian aid.

The UN is going to investigate the violence in Libya (http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article1505727.ece), and it seems possible that Muammar Gaddafi (alternate spelling Moammar Gadhafi) will step down.

I say this because the opposition in Libya seems to be having some success. Take a look at this article: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/03/01-8

It is possible, based on the information I’ve read of the opposition so far, that Gaddafi will step down from internal pressure. It will be interesting to learn more about El-Senussi and his perspective, and the history of Libya and social movements in Libya.

According to the article, Pro-Gaddafi militiammen were repelled by the opposition supporters when they tried to overtake Zawiya on March 1st. The article also says, “The cities of Misrata east of the capital and Gherian to its south also appeared to remain in opposition hands, as was virtually all of the east of the country, including several key oil fields.”

I spent some time trying to learn more about the opposition forces, and who they really are. Marc Ginsberg, the former ambassador to Morocco (appointed by Clinton), wrote an article on the subject. He says that there’s a fear the fighting could revert into a “Spanish Civil War” stalemate with Libya disintegrating into factions and tribal regions divorced from a central government. I disagree with his assessment (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amb-marc-ginsberg/who-is-in-charge-of-the-l_b_830647.html) based on the fact that he was appointed by Clinton, has contributed to Fox News, and is very business oriented. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Ginsberg)

There IS one part of the opposition movement that gives me hope, and with which I can agree fairly fully. The group’s name is “The Libyan Islamic Movement for Change.” What I really like about this group is that it is unarmed, and is composed of “communists, socialists, liberals and partisans of democracy in the country and civil societies making various activities.” This group aims to change Libya by peaceful means. Let it be so.

The movement, which includes members of religious movements and members of previously arrested Islamic groups, is calling on the Libyan people to join them, peacefully. Let it be so. (http://english.sunnionline.us/Articles/Articles/2551-who-is-who-in-libya-the-opposition-and-islamic-movements)

The exiled crown prince of Libya, Mohammed El-Senussi, who seems to have some stake in the situation (and sympathy from the West as he’s been living in London since 1988), says that military intervention should NOT happen. I agree very strongly. Let it be so.

“Let me be clear. There is a difference between a no-fly zone and military intervention and the Libyan people do not seek external military involvement on the ground. That will not bring about the peace and freedom that we crave,” said El-Senussi.

Let the amount of deaths be minimal. Let it be so.

Not only is the UN planning to investigate, but EU leaders are going to gather on March 11 in Brussels for a summit to deliver a response to the crisis in Libya and the Arab world. However, the EU might have an economic stake in the outcome. So a resolution provided solely by the EU is not sufficient for action. A resolution provided by the UN, if supported by a lot of the Arab nations, might be sufficient for a better course of action. And please remember to take into account Libya’s own crown prince’s words–that he feels military intervention should NOT happen. I agree, and I also want Gaddafi and Gaddafi’s forces to cease killing people immediately, and I do not want foreign (US) intervention in Libya at this point, save for possibly, UN peacekeepers.

Also, we must take into account the relatively higher standard of living Libyans enjoy and the relatively high life expectancy. The information we’d been receiving in popular media outlets in the West about Libya and Muammar Gaddafi (a.k.a. Moammar Gadhafi) was incomplete.

By the way, I find this wikipedia article very interesting:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Gaddafi_International_Prize_for_Human_Rights. Here is the list of recipients:

1989 Nelson Mandela
1990 “The children of Palestine”
1991 The indigenous peoples of the Americas
1992 The African Centre for Combating Aids
1993 “The children of Bosnia and Herzegovina”
1994 The Union of Human Rights Societies and Peoples in Africa
1995 Ahmed Ben Bella, Francisco da Costa Gomes
1996 Louis Farrakhan
1997 Gracelyn Smallwood, Melchior Ndadaye, Melba Hernandez, Manal Younes Abdul-Razzak, Doreen McNally
1998 Fidel Castro
1999 “The children of Iraq”
2000 Souha Bechara, Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Evo Morales, the Movement of September, the Third World Center
2002 Mamado Diaye, Roger Garaudy, Ibrahim Alkonie, Jean Ziegler, Nadeem Albetar, Ali M. Almosrati, Khaifa M. Attelisie, Mohamed A. Alsherif, Ali Fahmi Khshiem, Rajab Muftah Abodabos, Mohamed Moftah Elfitori, Ali Sodgy Abdulgader, Ahmed Ibrahim Elfagieh
2003 Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria
2004 Hugo Chávez
2005 Mahathir bin Mohamad
2006 ?
2007 Libraries of Timbuktu.
2008 Dom Mintoff
2009 Daniel Ortega
2010 Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan

Lady

 

Man-cat vignette

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Mandycat circulated back and forth from the living room to the dining room hinting at the kitchen.

“Like Lassie, she’s trying to lead us to the food,” Smith said.

“She thinks it’s that time again,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “I put down my footstool and put down my slippers and she assumes I’m going to feed her.”

“It’s the dance between cat and man.”

“And the man always loses.”

“But is it a competition?” I asked. “Or is it a dance?”

“Both, both. With the man losing. It’s a metaphor for man vs. woman; man always loses.”

“So, kitty cat, are you happy now,” Smith asked Mandy, “or do you want food?”

 

 
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