Sunday, November 29, 2009


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Kinfolk x Carnival.
August 21, 2009


As an emerging bike-brand, Kinfolk looked to one of Japan’s most respected and established Keirin bike builders in Kusaka to produce and manufacture the brand’s frames. With few possessing the necessary knowledge, patience and understanding required to build a bike of this quality, Kinfolk’s offerings are undoubtedly something that won’t easily escape your mind. Teaming up with another respected entity in bike shop Carnival Tokyo, together the two release a co-branded fixed gear bike featuring a Kinfolk frame and Carnival Tokyo components.

Via Hypebeast.
Kinfolk Bicycles.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My White Male Friends

Electoral politics in USA and especially in the state of Washington, is a white male game. I am a consummate player, even as my entry was not by the usual rules, I self selected myself. My politics is based on passion, I was inspired to run, not chosen by the body politic, and ran as a Democrat against a Democrat. For that reason, I will be forever respected, never trusted. So, I do my own thing and this willingness to take a risk, learn the rules of the game and then expand them to include me an African American female keeps me politically active.

I have been visible again on the political scene, a requirement of supporting President Barack Obama. It is his campaign that placed me back in organizing and campaign mode; which is human connection, persuasion and follow through. Beyond the election is the work at a local level that supports his campaign. Then there was the Mayoral Campaign, I entered this to assure that Greg Nickels was not re-elected. He wanted to build a palace to incarcerate those who needed liberation not incarceration. I need time to put more people on the path of liberation, so if he built the jail, I know that the truism, "build it and they will come," would occur. So, build a jail Nickels had to go. The snow removal was a non issue for me.

This is a good time to be clear about my political and public relationships, sometimes they become personal, along the way mutual admiration occur. I am an easy female friend to males. I am safe, their wives or girlfriends find me to be one of the guys and non threatening, and the men find my husband to be a "man's man." My husband knows that the only man, he had and has to compete with is my father, who passed away a decade ago, and still directs my thinking and being. I said this, because it allows me to be very much in the political game an in the company of males without any problem on either side.

I am again in the presence of many white males. I find most of them confused about their current place in human development American style. But recently, I have been with white men I like and respect, and one I realize that I do not like. Some, I have known for years, some I have just met. Four of them are: Pete, he is a quiet unassuming giant. He is very political but from any outside appearance, he could be overlooked, or discounted. Hell, if he stood too long on one of Nickels and Allen's corners he could find himself being told "move along buddy, or you could find yourself a first occupant in that jail we are building." Pete, likes people, is comfortable with himself. His relationship with African Americans accepts the mutuality of relationships across racial lines. What I once told a legislative colleague, there are times that I will need to send a white male to get something, and there are times when he will need to send an African American female. I entered politics clear about what can occur when this is understood,

My other favorite is Stu Jacobson a self made man, very much the Anti-Christ to all that is white and male. He is Jewish by birth and up bringing, I went to his son Adam's Bar Mitzvah. His dad, who today can not remember much remembers dancing with me that day. Stu is a child advocate, I do not mean, he gives money to children's causes. He gets up thinking about the safety of children in child care, he talks about it and he cries when a child is harmed or dies in the care of others because of lack of legislative oversight. Men, do not care this much about kids, especially those they are not paying child support for. Now, that might be unfair, but none have proven me wrong, other than Stu. I am sure men think him weak, he is not it takes a giant to care about children, because children can not repay the favor. Stu was once a New York Fashion excective,yesterday he had on an American Flag US Polo Association sweater, he brought from Goodwill. Stu is not broke, I wills stop there.

My new friend is Ralph, he is driven by the demons associated with that very male invention; guns. He is also my new champion, until this week I thought he was against guns, it is not the guns, it is all that they stand for, they kill people, who should not be killed. Each life means something to him. I must say, I do not like guns because my dad did not have one, nor my uncles. So, they taught me by example how to live without owning one and I was not attracted to gun guys. I developed good Karma, no one seems to want to shoot me. So far so good. Ralph,has no use for weakness, he is a guy, Italian American. I think he is very disgusted with weak men and women, I have met his daughters and woman friend, they are not wimpy women. Ralph and I are getting along just fine, we are a great team and he does his work, and I am learning alot from him. Today, I will introduce him to one of my friends, he is African American but succeeded in the white male world of Police work, worked his way to the be a top cop. I need Harry in this quest to ban assault weapons, he knows about guns and crimes they are used to commit.

I met a new person this week, Frampton, he is interesting, wants to influence politics, I may or may not see him as having what it takes to be in a mutually respectful relationship, I think he has money, something that does not move me. It is a tool only a tool, and I likewise have tools that allow me to never be imprisoned. And it is this term that prompted today's blog. Ralph gave me a beautiful book about President Obama, a photo journal. Stu, gave me an autographed book "Brother West, Living Out Loud" Cornell West. In this memoir, he writes:

"I have foudn prisons to be both liberating and depressing.... One of the most moving moments,.... was when a prisoner asked me,"What was the source of hope for someone with a life sentence i prison? I replied, we all have a death sentence in spalce and time and there are many outside the prison walls who hearts, minds and souls are in profound and permanent bondage." He goes on to tell us that a courageous man can be free with a life prison sentence, just as others can be unfree walking the streets of New York City. He says, " My fundamental aim is to touch the souls and unsettle the minds f people be they in prison, classroom, church, or on the block."

Thank you Stu for the thinking of me, for seeking freedom from the imprisonment of being "White Male," and all it demands, for being a better model for your sons, than most fathers. Thank you to all of my white male friends who are struggling each day to self define, to be free.

I supported Joe Mallahan (That makes me a Mallahamster) there still remains something about Joe that resonates as a white male who is working on being free of the arrogance of white male privilege. He really worked to get Obama, an African American elected. For that I am grateful. I wish he had worked as hard to get himself elected. But there is still a place for him in my vision of a better humanity. We will see.

Thank you Helen, Nancy and Shannon for sharing your husbands with me, supporting them in being real men, no matter what the race or any other false definitions.

There is just something about Mike McGinn that gets under my skin, in politics, instincts are a tool. He has an arrogance about him, I can smell it. He rose to top of that enclave of white privilege, the Sierra Club. It will be interesting to see, if he can learn to work with diversity in mutually respectful ways. We will see.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

An Inspired Movement for Peace

Sunday, September 27, 2009
3:00 – 5:00
New Holly Gathering Hall
7054 32nd Ave S., Seattle WA
You are invited to this free screening of one of the most powerful films of this decade.
Please come to this the screening of this powerful film and support Women United for Peace Through Prayer and their vision for a more functional society.
Thousands of women – ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim – came together to pray for peace, then staged a silent protest outside the Presidential Palace. Pray the Devil Back to Hell honors the strength and perseverance of the women of Liberia.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fried Fish Dinner

My Signature Meal

I do not remember when my fried fish and greens became my most requested dishes. I do know that feeding people good food is as important as any gesture of love and friendship. Knowing how to cook food that tastes well is something I learned to do at an early age.

When 10 years old, I learned to cook a dish my Aunt Bea referred to as cream potatoes. Not to be confused with mashed potatoes which are sometimes called cream potatoes. This dish was mearly boiled potatoes then be covered with a basic flour, butter and milk sauce.
This was my signature dish then and then it was the curry chicken and apples that ccaptured rave reviews from others.

Now it is the fried fish. In the photo I show a meal of fried talapia filets, steamed rice, collard greens and corn bread.

My Fish Fry the 2nd Wed in July is held every year. It's not too late to hold the date.
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Language that perpetuates.

 I possess an inability to hear or express anything but good about African people and  as I grow older this has become almost an extreme position. There are no people more loving, accomplished, brilliant or healthy than we of African ancestry on the continent and in the Diaspora,. If there are who are they and how do they present a human development greater than that of African people. 

At the gathering of the Diasporian People in Seattle, I attended only a short segment and then was with the attendees for dinner which was a wonderful filling of the Pettigrew home with good energy, hungry stomachs and an expanse of interesting conversations.  It ended for me with passing out on the floor and awaking to find my keys had been given to Joye.

I was alarmed at the language and words used by these people who are custodians of Afrikanisms. I even  found myself pushing back against and verbally rejecting phrases in conversations such as  "we are like crabs in the barrel."  "White people do not allow us to be in developmental phase only survival. ,  "we are just survivors" "our leaders don't..."   

We know for an assurance that if anything is said long enough and with conviction it becomes a reality and controls thinking and observations. If someone tells you you can not get to the other side of the river and with conviction because they do not want you to get to the other side of the river and you listen long enough your conversation will be filled with reasons you can not get to the other side. Man, that is the widest river in the entire universe (even if it is not untruths get uttered as truths) Hey, I'm not crossing that river, I can not swim. (forgetting that you can learn to swim.) Don't use those boats, they are leaky, and hard to steer. (The boats are state of the art) Fifty years ago, a woman tried to cross that river, and they were attacked by sharks (even though sharks do not swim in rivers and time has passed and actually people have crossed safely)  We as a people must not look to the other side of the river they are using those new fangled things over there, we need to be happy where we are.)  They will not let us on shore even if we make it across the river and those on shore really are not doing what needs to be done. (Even as we see people building great communities and the children thriving.)  Even as these words are uttered the majority can swim, saw boats to get those who can not swim across, when arriving at the other shore though may not have been greeted with great acclaim, they were not stopped from using space, or doing what people want to do on the other shore. 

Actually most will cross the river in the boats that have always been lined up in the shore, or learning to swim, build bridges, some will take a long time on poorly build rafts and we will see the buzzards hoovering, then others when getting tn learning how to swim with precision and how to use personal energy, others built boats, and trained their young to build boats, to learn about the  tides.

Everything about the conference presented these African people as more than just survivors of the ills perpetuated by whites. I would say it was the indication that Africans are in the realm of developmental.   The location of the conference at Antioch U came about from  developmental thinking not survival thinking. Did we build the campus, no but we are not stopped from using it as our own, what would we have done different if Antioch was built, attended, and run only by African people? It is a school filled with whites, but none came to bother or interfered with the work of

The intergenerational attendance from 2 years to  92  with all age groups represented demonstrated the knowledge of keeping our families to.  former and current State Rep. to greet and feed you in a beautiful home that is always open to guests and conversation over god food, we cook.  this is reality more often than we might want to express and we know we still have those who suffer great indignities.

But I would think that the nature of the work this conference and gather exists to accomplishment, such negatives would cease to be. How do we elevate our young with words of "the white man will not allow" allow what and how is this accomplished?  They sent a message and a messenger centuries ago with so much intent that, without even being present in a stately home of a State Representative, and in the midst of some of the most brilliant minds in the world, we hear such a phrase as "The White Man will not allow us to move into the next phases of development as a people."    My God, what language is this to use in the presence of our young?  

I reject such language and this does not mean that I reject any of the wonderful messages expressed in my short time with you.  I loved getting to know each of you and to be in the collective energy of the conference. Thank you for acknowledging my accomplishments and for the compliments on the greens. Not a leaf was left uneaten, we are pleased.

On Sun, Sep 13, 2009 at 12:28 AM, wrote:
Hello Honorable PADU Elders,

i am michael bell;once recognized as a "New Jack Scholar" in 1995. i was
encouraged to attend the weekend events by our late brother C.J. Osandu
Farr. i am very glad that i yielded to his advice. i understand why he was
so optimistic about my attendance now; he saw the spiritual synergism of
 our dreams.  Please allow me to introduce to you
my dream & disciplined passion:

This stands for Afrikan Descent Youth Affairs (ADYA) and the effect we
seek to leverage is simple...Community raised above and leveraging economy
for the betterment of the Afrikan Descent Community.

The focus is our youth learning the nuances of finished goods (blue
jeans) this effects the micro & macro aspects of community.

The focus is our youth learning the nuances of strategic decision making
in an annually sponsored youth congress.

The focus is our youth learning to deconstruct the artificial boundaries
between them whereas alliances can be forged to stop foreign depletion of
our intellectual and natural resources.

The focus is our youth wielding technology in quarterly Global Online
Video Conferences to ensure the continuum of dialogue may be held
accountable to our Elder Advisors and provide those visible markers of
progress over time.

My PADU Elders...please take the time and see our blog as well  and let us know of your counsel.

GOD bless!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Dressing in White historically significant to protest and praise

My mind has been racing full of thoughts of how to turn the tide on youth violence, guns in the hands of children. Seeing footage of children soldiers in other countries, and not reflecting on the lives lost to gunfired in my own midst is foolish. So I take a look, precipitated by the death of Aaron Sullivan, so young 18 years old, so nice, so talented.

In Pray the Devil Back to Hell the significance of the women wearing white is a key element to this organizing. So in researching I find that the wearing of white by women in a unified and collective way is symbolic for many women. In the case of the Liberian women and women of African ancestry in the Mississippi Delta.

In the film "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" the women dress in white and pray and intervene. That is all I know but will know more after seeing the film on Sept. 27.  I will wear white and I will fight the forces that keep assault weapons in the hands of our children.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Civility, Walk around Mayor and gun violence

I have lived here in Seattle many years, I have fought for equal education, recruited good police and firefighters, helped raise millions of dollars for homeless children, promoted and support open housing, preventives to crime and neighborhood economic development. I have served in the legislature and retired after many years as a City of Seattle employee and I really liked the all kinds of people who live in Seattle. But...I am shocked at the level and tenor of conversation displayed in these comments. Who are these commentators? did they grow up in Seattle, go to Seattle schools?

There was once a move for civility in Seattle, well it seems to have failed for the lack of a second. The next Mayor Of Seattle needs to come in with a vision better than what we have been saddled with. He needs hire smart people to run the City and get out of City Hall and walk around and meet the residents, all of them. The loser kids on the corner should know him by first name he should ask and know why they are just hanging on the corner, why the preventives funded by the City now working for them? Ask them if they know who James Kelly is, what the Urban League does or any other who has money to turn their lives around. Just ask them they will tell you.

And next time the Mayor walks through if they are still there - yank the funding. Sound easy, it is. I talk to them all the time, I have to but I do not have or control public funds, just a caring for kids and mothers and the Rainier Valley. I did not build a home in Rainier Valley to "gentrify" though I did much to make it a better place than I found but it has slipped back and with each death, I feel sad. I feel say about the crass remarks the hate filled statements the lack of caring for the death of a young person who is a human being. I work with parents of young children, at a time when we can make the biggest difference. Yesterday I learned that one parent's two sons are now in vocational school.

Have to go now, I am off to a meeting to see if we can ban assault weapons in Washington, not the entire solution but a start in turning this very large ship called "Gun Violence"

Thank you for the space to vent.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Seattle has many black leaders

This is my response to Sable Verity's article on black leadership.

You write to a generation much younger than I, so I am surprised that there still exists a need for identified leadership. I came through the period of visible leadership and know that the good ones got killed. I  come from an African American experience a bit different than you describe. I was not born or raised in the south, nor were my parents. I am of the Northeast African American culture which was steeped in Black Nationalism. Garvey, Daddy Grace, Father Divine, Malcolm X, Moorish Americans, Pan African movement. A very different mind set than the preacher as leader. It was based in the leader within and a love for Black folks wherever and whenever, seeing and knowing all African people as brilliant and geniuses in the art of survival. We always land on our feet,sometimes battered and bruised but we always make it through our storms. That is because we have already survived the worst storm and are here today typing these thoughts. We worry and fret, but when we have a job to do we do it.
So if we need to put names to Black leaders, here are a few. Leadership is real and there are people who garner followers, and we admit you can not be a leader without followers and being effective. Jim Jones was a horrible leader, but a leader he got his followers to drink the kool aid. There are decoy leaders. James Kelly is a decoy. While others are saying he is our leader, and giving him access to our children’s money from public funds, and saying his name like people listen to James then those who are really getting the job done, can do it under the radar. That is why we love James Kelly he has allowed himself the worst leadership position the decoy.
Greg Nickels thought he could buy political favor by parsing out meager funds to correct a problem the systems have invested billions of dollars to create. We can not buy our way out of the mess our children and their families find themselves in. But if a group of market women in Liberia can end a civil war, we can reverse the violence our children, women and families experience. When a court says it is okay to brutalize a black woman and show the brutalization on national TV, all women are at peril.
So if you still need names and want to debate the issue of Black Leadership here are a few leaders you should know because you as a writer are an interface.
Dr. Doreen Cato who without fanfare or even much notice by the African American community, provides housing, social services and education for some of our most devastated families. A certified school sitting right in the Central District with Black Directors, Black students and Black Board President. She is a leader on the education of poor black children living with trauma. I would listen to and follow her leadership on this issue.
Yusef Cadbi is a leader, Somalian born he brings together other African born among us and yields political influence and works with leaders in the African American community. He is an expert in subsidized housing and knows issues of housing and how we get the short shift when it comes to housing in Seattle due to gentrification. I seek his lead and allow myself to be briefed by him.
Josephine Howell is a gifted vocalist, she heals with her voice and has been through hell in her life and came back to claim her victory over trauma and trouble. She goes to Kenya each year to teach songs of hope to children and here I call on her when a mother’s heart hurts. She knows what it is to lose a son. She is a leader in healing hurt hearts, and bringing peace through songs.
Dr. Maxine Mimms is 81 years old and not retired because she knows that there is a part that elders among us play as leaders. They help us remember why we are here, how we got here and gives us the education and knowledge we need to see our own visions and have the energy to move forward with them. She is a Washington Elder of Distinction, I follow her lead.
Liz Thomas retired and then committed her life to keeping the African American community healthy. She is a nurse extraordinaire, I go to her when I want to know what the blood test numbers mean or if a child seems to be failing to thrive though their parents take them to the doctor. She is our leader in health, as is:
Drs. Ray Lewis,John Vassell And Patricia Dawson are medical leaders not only for African American Community but for all people, they are running Swedish Hospital where so many of us get medical care. They are teachers of those who run the clinics in our communities. They are the best in their field and they have saved many Black lives of children and adults. They are leaders.
Dr. Kelly Washington a young wife and mother left here went off to Howard U, came home brought her father Dr. Michael Washington’s Dental Clinic she is second generation African American provider of oral health care and thus supporter of Black leadership in other areas. NO ONE CAN LEAD ANYONE WITH A RAGGEDY MOUTH.
Chukundi “Kun Luv” He is a trained leader trained by his Mother Harriet Walden who is a leader, always has been. He was sent off to SC to get an education, came home sent to me to teach elements of leadership, and then went and got his own experiences and ideas and is a clear leader for the emerged generation of 30 somethings. He is a communication genius. When I want generations much younger than myself to know something, I tell Kun Luv.
Marcia Tate Arunga is a leader. She is a professor who is influencing excellence through her students and the 70 African American women who have traveled with her to Kenya for Cultural Reconnection. We operate on collective action in that we lead with our best self, so each of us are leaders with a following.
I, Dawn Mason I lead by knowing who is best on the issue and supporting them in leading. The new issue is the ban on assault weapons. I was voted on by the people and take that seriously. Though no longer in office I maintain an ear for what is going on for Black children and families, and maintain the kind of relationships that allows me to get things done most often quickly and quietly. I am leading on legislation to ban assault weapons in Washington and will speak for all Blacks when I tell the powers that be, we want the weapons out of our community. No, I do not have one penny of they Youth Violence Prevention money.
Leadership brings with it some requirements:
An inspired self, it is the fuel that allows you to keep going when it gets difficult.
A following means you have influence (this does not mean you are a good leader, but s
An ethical self, honest and being held accountable for doing what you say you will do.
A principled self, living and leading with a set of principles that people can wrap their arms around
A love for the people you are leading all of our spiritual leaders expressed love of the people(Christ, Buddha, Mohammad, Moses) You can not lead a people effectively on anything if you do not love them.
An ability to pass the baton. A leader can teach others to lead.
Be an example, a model of success and effectiveness.
You speak of James Kelly by name, as are so many these days within a 24 hour period Dr.Mimms and I who were holding court yesterday, heard person after person bemoan the fact that the Urban League has our children’s money and they know that he will not make a difference. Is James Kelly a leader, he used to be. He used to be inspired. Black people are not stupid we are shrewd that is how we got to still be here and knowing how to use new communications. Obama won his election online and Greg Nickels lost his re-election online. Nickels gave public funds to James Kelly as a political ploy. He thought Kelly was the leader. I bet the next time a politician puts money into our community to divide us, they will think a bit clearer. The Black community did not divide over this appropriated administration of these funds. We just voted for anyone but Nickels.
The preachers are leaders in their church not outside of their buildings. You are correct, they used to be. But God is like that, He is in charge of his creation. Different times brings about different measures of need and leadership. A good name is worth more than gold.
In closing this very long response, to maintain my leadership I seek out leadership on issues, I am not looking for names, degrees, titles, looks. People who want a good name among us need to earn it, be a good voice, be accountable, be accessible, be humble, and speak to the truth of our situation. It is easy to be a Black or African American leader, it is very difficult to lead the African American people to excellence when they have no intent of being lead. We work against many forces when it comes to our people, negative messages passed down in families, negative messages coming from schools failure to education equitably, negative messages about our love for each other as males and females. Black men adore Black women, they really do. Black parents really suffer when their children do not do well in school, or get into gangs, or die, they really do.
So, Ms. Sable you are a leader, I see you, I read you and I applaud your application of the art of the written word to educate our community.
I write one thousand words a day, I think today you received all of them. God bless you and thank you for what you bring to the table

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tribute to Aaron Sullivan

Aaron Sullivan is a  recent victim of assault weapon and gun violence a person of peace taken from loved ones by a young man taught to handle strife with the finality of a gun shot.

A picture is worth a thousand words and I hope this presentation will comfort his mother, his family and friends to know that in the span of just 18 years Aaron's life brought together incredible human beings.  The people who come to memorialize a life is a the best testimony of that life. Those memorializing Aaron crossed generations, cultures, religions, interests, experiences, and social and economic stations. This is a better testimony of the value of this young man than any news article. Only the Medium News, which is our only African American major media in Washington, wrote about Aaron's shooting and the about the value of his life. 

Enjoy listening to Josephine Howell at the end outside of St. Therese out singing "Over the Rainbow" and not letting the Blue Angels cause her to miss her note.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

BINGO, the Game, its Players and is Social Structure

An Interesting look as socialization surrounding an Organized Bingo game.

Being retired gives me the privilege of time; a lot of hours to fill, several projects to fill them with. My wise friend Beverly, who died from breast cancer,  advised me to fill as many as I can with something that relaxes me. I am not and have never been athletic or physical. So like hundreds of thousands of other self respecting retired people, I play Bingo at BJ's a nicely decorated and friendly place. In some ways it is creative, there are game patterns; chevrons, goal posts, squares and lines, outside corners, inside corners. Most significant is it is time with people I would have never known and some I would not ever be in their presence for three hours. I have learned to really like this game that I used to think was extremely boring. You have to acquire an affinity for it if you are a busy active person. It is a perfect game for seniors who either need socialization or who need a time to be totally without responsibility, late night Bingo is a safe alternative for young adults. Those with physical challenges and there are plenty are cared for, they even have a whole set of BINGO cards in Braille and a special buy in line. At my church on two occasions with two different physically challenged people with walker and cane were left to tend to their immediate needs until I recognized their needs, others just passed them by. This would never occur at Bingo, ever. 

The game of BINGO is basically standard: There is a card with B-I-N-G-O across the top these 5 columns and 5 rows make up a card of 24 random numbers with a free space in the middle.  There is a caller who controls a globe with air circulating 75 balls; they call out numbers and the players mark their card if that is one of the 24 numbers on their card. When the caller has all the numbers in a predetermined pattern they yell BINGO and the game stops. This is BINGO as it is and has been since initiated. It is gambling as money is exchanged for a chance to win more money. But mostly it is a game that has been enjoyed historically by older adults but now has attracted younger people.

  There are no debates or arguments at BINGO either you win or lose and all are treated equally, no one short changed on a win because of who they are or are not, no organizing for change, it has been the same game since the Catholic church basement games of years ago my mother was a BINGO player, she won dishes and pots and stuff and if we drove her to Bingo and picked her up we could have the car for a couple of hours. Scientifically, research finds that keeping up with the numbers and patterns and socializing wards off dementia. I of course have engaged people in the charity work I do. Donna is knitting hats for the kids in Kenya, Shirley before she died contributed flip flops, Sharon donated a portion of her winnings, a few of the callers have had tragedies, the players responded with donations as they likewise do once a year for new coats for children. Gloria and I had back surgery at the same time so discussed therapies. My dearest of friend, the late Beverly Williams who died of breast cancer was a Bingo player. She told me just before she died that I needed to play Bingo, it was something in which I was not stimulated into action; not reading, not running campaigns, not writing letters to the editor, volunteering, studying or advocating. She thought me too "intense." Not sure It is not inexpensive but I do win. On odds more often than the average player, not sure why other than than there is this thought that out in the energy field of human kindness there are two BINGO Angels, my mother Helen and Beverly pulling out the right numbers from time to time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Walking Wounded

This is a term that God has placed in my head when I think of the mother's among us who have had a child die (for what ever reason) I say this because it matters not how or why a mother is never the same. I can not speak to fathers because none have ever discussed with me or shown me where it hurts.

My biological sister buried and reburied a son, she has never recovered his death at age 22, she never will. Hazel who is near 90 years old tells me there is no healing for a mother who has had a child die, here son died. And Gertrude repeats this and Elease says she thinks of her daughter everyday. I have known these women but until we brought Julia to Seattle because she could not function after burying Susan her daughter who was suppose to come home from work but did not, killed in a car accident. For a month a community of women nursed Julia to a place that at least had her able to get up in the morning. As a Kenyan Julia was much more expressive about her pain and loss than we allow here in Seattle a place where expression and truth are frowned upon.

But in the work of Cultural Reconnection we are getting back to a more natural human dynamic. We have been taught the importance of wailing that is the way that everyone in the community knows that we are bringing this body home to be buried. I have heard wailing both audible and spiritual expressions of it. I awoke today and heard the emotional and spiritual wail of my sister friend Deborah Sullivan.

On Saturday she will join a special society of women - she will bury her 18 year old son Aaron. Like with my sister Beverly, and Julia, I am personally responsible to help this mother weather this storm. She is now among the walking wounded. We can do a better job of caring for these women. Unlike those who do not know the pain, they do not make a difference of how the child died, it matters not they are physically separated from someone they brought into this world and or chose to mother.

We need to learn how to communicate with the walking wounded. When we approach them with our own small maladies and complaints, they can not hear us. As one of the mothers responded when a person was full of reasons for something she was too overwhelmed to do "You did not have to bury your child did you?" enough said.

When a mother chooses to bring purpose to the death of their child in whatever way they find to do, they elevated to wounded warriors the champion of whatever cause they pick.

My husband's aunt displayed the deep spiritual relationship between a mother and her child. She is an older woman and for reason not discussed here has been separated from her children for more than 30 years, no contact at all. This has taken a toll on her. Only my husband and I know of her children and we do not mention them to her. One of her son's died and she had a total meltdown, would not eat, or sleep, she said she was waiting for her son to come to take her to lunch. This lasted for weeks until she was placed in psychiatric care and medicated back to a more functional condition. We still have not told her her son died, we do not have to tell her she knows. This phenomenon and accepting the spiritual relationship between a mother and a human she carried in her womb allows me to be careful.

In this time of youth violence, shootings and suicides we must learn to care for those who are left behind. In the caring of Deborah the newest mother to enter this very select society, I will learn more of this culture of women in the world. The young people among us who are grieving have established a culture for burying their peers. They are instructive and I am without judgment, my generation did not have the experience of going to funerals of our classmates and friends before the age of 40. I have tried to think of who of my friends have died and what age they were. My children's fathers both died at age 40 they were no longer in my life. One of my dearest friends died in her mid 50's too young another in her late 40's we were devastated. So what must a very young person feel? In the case of Aaron's friends some of them went enmass to get tatoos, something tangible they all will have by the grace of God have many years to remember they had a friend a brother for a short time in their lives. They will never forget "Giggles" Friends will come and go, but A.Scully will be right there on their arm and back. I am impressed by this way that they care for each other show emotion, they have not been jaded by the epidemic of youth deaths due to violence or accidents or whatever reason.

Not sure what I am suppose to do with all of this I see and feel, but as always I will stay open to the instruction from a high place and yield without hesitation. Today my instruction was to write and so I have. I am now off to feed the young and the hungry; grief has increased their appetite in a way opposite from how it impacts the older who lose their appetite; interesting.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Elders engage in Cultural Reconnection

Dr. Maxine Mimms who resides in Washington State, and Mama Sarah Obama who resides in Kogelo village Siaya, Nyanza Province, Kenya meet and form a relationship as elders. Dr. Mimms is a Washington Elder of Distinction and Mama Sarah is the grandmother of Pres. Barack Obama. This was an historic and documented meeting of two women whose lives have contributed to making a significant difference in their communities, their countries and the world.

Dr. Mimms has been a teacher to thousands and is the founder of Evergreen State College Tacoma Branch and the Maxine Mimms Academy. Both are located in the Hilltop community which is home to diverse working class and sometimes struggling families. Mama Sarah Obama, who raised the father of Pres. Obama continues to live in the village where she raised Obama Sr. and has contributed to the lives of thousands of Kenyans.

Mama Obama is Luo and prefers speaking her native language Duluo, while Dr. Maxine Mimms an African American speaks only English both clearly understood the joy each other had in this initial meeting. The two met during a visit to the Kogelo home of Mama Sarah while on the 2009 Cultural Reconnection Delegation mission, the meeting was an official visit which has resulted in follow up meetings and visits based on a mutual desire to bring together for mutual benefit the CR Delegates and the women of Kogelo village.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Naptime and it is only 9 am

I was up this morning wired at 4 A.M. so I have worked for 5 hours. Enough! This is what I did. Read interesting stuff, sent to appropriate recipients. managed my Facebook page.

Answered some of the 100 questions Benita asked for the Retreat, she is as manic as I am. lol. I answered several of them before I realized I only had to answer Institute for CR inquiry.

Created a web page for Duonga Women because Petroline has earned this distinction, she is fired up and roaring.

Communicated with my son through his many ventures including the import and private label bicycles made in Japan, free lance illustration and Kinfolk Lounge a neighborhood pub in Japan. One of his friends just became a father, a scary thing for these laid back Kinfolk, who now are uncles. They work in collective action much the way that we do, they are brilliant human beings, fun and global.

Salah lives a life of leisure in Brooklyn in a brownstone with his business and art partner and his wife who is the only one who works, she is Japanese born thus the Japanese connection.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lessons for life

I am told these wisdoms were written By Regina Brett, 90 years old. My friend Stu thought I needed these lessons today, so I read them and thought I would hold on to them in my blog.

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick.

Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have do not know their journey.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. Don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone for everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34.God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile, and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

46. Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

kibera A Special Place, A special People

Kibera, Africa’s Largest Slum

The residents of Kibera are all financially poor, relative to Kenya and world economy. However poor is a word you do not hear in Kenyan conversation. Poor is word used for a person without family and all Kenyans have a family. The reports I researched invariably speak of the residents in ways that could leave the average person without hope for the children, their families or their future. Most who know of Kibera, know of it through the many photographs that are easily found in online web albums or attached to articles. This essay details a different view of Kibera. Admittedly, as described in an October 2002, BCC article, Life in Kibera, by East African Correspondent, Andrew Harding, Kibera smells; “Wood fires, fried fish, excrement, rubbish - the rich stench of 800,000 people living in a ditch.” The history of Kibera is the history of displaced people who despite the lack of government investments, and a physical environment that would render the majority of the world’s population hopeless. It is not a large area about one square mile with tin roofed, mud floor homes no larger than 12 feet by 12 feet. Ngong Road a major thoroughfare brings you quickly from an adjacent affluent neighborhood to the Kibera within a mere 10 minutes. Though in close proximity, I am told that a majority, guessed to be about 85% of Nairobi residents have never entered Kibera. It is a busy place, with several markets, Makini Market being the largest. The markets are tight clusters of boards and benches and small shops, with interesting names, many handwritten. Everything the residents need to survive can be purchased right within Kibera. The children attend one of many schools, large and small. Toi, Moi and Kibera Primary Schools are the largest most prominent campuses. The economy is based on the extremely low incomes of the residents.

The Community Service Group in Kibera website, speaks of Kibera as residents experience it, “ Kibera “ However, despite the demanding lifestyles we face in Kibera, we have created our own community – that is sound and functioning. Businesses of all sorts and driven entrepreneurs are found in all areas. Indeed, we are not unlike much of Sub-Saharan Africa, which receives 75% of its services through the ‘informal sector.’ In Kenya, we call this part of our economy the ‘Jua Kali’ sector (Or ‘Fierce Sun’ sector).”

Kibera Through A Different Lens

According to Dr. Julia Amayo, there are no experts on life in Kibera other than those who live there and work there. People who live outside of Kibera, or come once or twice thinking they will have a Kibera experience miss what makes Kibera a place of hope over dispair. When writing the notes for this essay, I wrote that Kibera was violent. She told tells me to remove that, “Kibera is not violent, though like in any community there might be those who violate.” Tell her that much of what I read is that Kibera is a violent place. She challenges me to see Kibera without a learned bias, or prejudice. Then reminds me that this is why we are writing about our experiences as we “reconnect to each other as African American and Kenyan women doing our work. Our writings need to be different than those published by the people who see through a different lens. I spent four days in Kibera and I saw no violence among the people, to the contrary, I saw and met some of the most kind, friendly, industrious people I have ever met. I was humbled by how safe and welcome I felt among them.

So with a swab of Watkins Menthol salve under my nose, to mask the smells that are unfamiliar and unpleasant for me, a stranger to Kibera, I traveled throughout Kibera with Dr.Julia Amayo as my guide and mentor. With Dr. Amayo I am able to view Kibera and the people in ways that Harding, either missed or chose not to report. Who she is and how she views humanity is key to my orientation to life in Kenya. She tells me that she did not pick Kibera, God gave it to her. She used to be one of the Nairobi residents who never went into Kibera. She is a caregiver to two grandsons. She has buried two daughters and granddaughter victims of the two primary takers of life in Kenya, AIDS and road accidents. They attend private schools, through hard work and smarts, she is a woman of independent means . She lives in Upper Hills Estate a 10 minute drive along Ngong Road, past Royal Nairobi Golf Club to Kibera and her SACODEN offices. Dr. Amayo established this NGO after being taken to Kibera by a friend and meeting an orphaned girl, Damaris, who had been abandoned by her family. She knew she could and needed to make a difference for her and the many children by her.

Being in Kibera with Dr. Julia Amayo was a privilege and gave me a different view of Kibera and the children and caregivers who live there. Feed the Children infomercials display images of Kenyan children with fly filled eyes, and women idle and helpless. These images help them raise millions of dollars. I was privileged to be in the homes, schools, shops throughout much of Kibera, on several occasions over a period of three weeks. During the many visits I saw children with faces full of hope and women working together to create self sufficiency for their families. I saw children who are in need of medical care, and women who are struggling, but I did not see any who were sitting idly waiting for anyone to arrive to save them. Dr. Amayo makes me understand that all Kenyans do not have AIDS, that the help from international humanitarian aid, some are living with AIDS not dying. A poster prominently placed announces that the majority of Kenyans are not dying from AIDS even though most Kenyans are impacted by HIV/AIDS in some way.

Organized Chaos

Kibera is noisy, I think of it as organized chaos. Jua Kali ( hot sun) It is the industrial areas where welders, electricians, carpenters, and crafts people work outside in organized work and training. Without the introduction, I might think Tom Onyongo, the man who sits outside a small shop, might be just an man sitting on a bench all day watching others work. Mr. Onyongo is the Chairman of the Makini Market, the go to person, nothing gets past his observation. On one day Dr. Amayo drives her car carefully and expertly through the narrow pathways (it is difficult to associate them with streets) the respect she has in Kibera is shown by how people move to the side and greets here as she passes. She returns all greetings in kind. It is a meeting of USAID/CARE funding recipients. The topic is the new Monioring and Evaluation (M and E) reporting system. Dr. Amayo is a clear leader among her peers who are all associated with NGOs responding to the travesties associated with HIV/AIDS pandemic. On another day, I met the women who are part of SACODEN’s GSL and IGA organizing project. All are caregivers, most are living with HIV/AIDS and each are contributing 50 KSH a week. They all dressed up for this business meeting, those with outstanding loans are paying them back with a small interest. Eunice Okoth and Mzee are relatives of Dr. Amayo, this commitment to Kibera is a family affair. The women run their own meetings, and both support and hold each other accountable for the funds they share for startups and expansion of micro businesses.

Kiberans are finding and applying solutions that have positive outcomes. An example is home testing and counseling. The lower cost and better outcomes than other more costly approaches has made the solutions applied in Kibera a replicable method for combating HIV/AIDS. In a Standard Newspaper report, we are told that while only 40% of the general population of Kenya knows if they are HIV affected, 85% of Kibera adults know their status. Dr. Amayo has written extensively about HIV/AIDS impacts and solutions including what occur for the girl child.

Investing in SACODEN is an investment into the lives of 200 Kibera children, a small number if you consider that Kibera is home to an estimated 400,000 children. There are no census takers in Kibera, so no one really knows exactly how many there really are. During our time there, we were able to review impeccable reports and documentation of the outcomes of every dollar donated to their various projects. Through SACODEN the children and caregivers in Kibera receive school uniforms, shoes, sanitary napkins, meals, sweaters and blankets all the things that make it possible for them to attend the free public schools. The caregivers receive free training in business management, micro loans, and child care. I possess no romantic ideas about Kibera and the people there. They lack most things that we in the United States take for granted and what human development researches say are necessary for all humans, such as space, clean water, toilets, medical care and healthy environment. Likewise we learn that people adapt to their environment, create civil societies within these environments. Kibera and its residents have existed until recently without notice by much of the world until recently. Some work their way out, most do not. The solutions will come from looking deeper into the abilities, the contributions and the resiliency of those who live and work in Kibera. Those who are privileged to form relationships within Kibera should seek to find mutually beneficial outcomes. I am a better person for seeing life as it is in Kibera through their lens