Monday, April 20, 2009

Love your MOTHER!

We have many Mothers. No one knows this better than women - especially women who have given birth or realized children in their lives because as soon as this happens (in reality or in a spiritual sense) there is a keen awareness that we are not and will never be "alone". Many women have come before us. We are but spawn, essentially, of an accumulated experience of women. Like Chief Seattle stated,
"The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth" it is with our Mothers. We sometimes refer to the Earth as our Mother. Replace the words The Earth with the Our Mother in the quote above and you begin to feel the weight of it. My word of the year is value. In these terms, I find myself contemplating the value of all of our Mothers these days.

I can hardly turn a blind eye to the opportunity these times are offering at every bend for our reinventing the economy. Not with a word like "value" wending it's way into my daily thoughts. So lets take a look at what we commonly buy for our Mothers on Mother's Day, shall we? Florist flowers and potted plants that have been genetically altered to last 48 hours longer than the plant you bought last year. A dinner at a restaurant, perhaps? There are any number of things that might be a tradition. I want to explore outside that tradition here for a moment and look at the bigger picture.

We all are beginning to understand that we have a responsibility to learn new ways to get where we are going, whether it is opting to taking a bus or biking downtown or sending a message that actually speaks from our hearts. I am thinking now of gift giving - shopping, if you will - that is an act of supporting Motherhood while honoring our sisters and womankind and, while we are it, the earth as well. Shopping as a political act?

As I stated in a previous post, I blew through Portland town in March and had the good fortune to visit with my friend Kristi Jo Lewis. KJ is a new mother of a beautiful baby girl and the creator of a business that she shares with her sister and associates called Global Sistergoods. KJ is a woman of conscience and when she imagined her ideal job she did so with her compassion for women of the world and alternative ways of economics firmly in mind. Recognize a woman's talent, support it and let her support her family. Yes she can! ...and she did. Basically KJ and Global Sistergoods fences finely crafted goods made from artisans who are Mothers and Sisters themselves....are you following where this is going?

From "About Us":
Global Sistergoods was founded in 2006 by two sisters, Beth Kapsch and Kristi Jo (KJ) Lewis, who combined their professional backgrounds in living wage issues, international development, public policy and women's equality and their personal love of beautiful, handmade goods to create this marketplace for women artisans from around the world.

We provide a living wage to economically disadvantaged women in fragile economies by supporting entrepreneurship, self-reliance and microenterprise development through fair trade. We partner with international non-government organizations who provide resources to women, governmental trade associations who support women's economic empowerment, women's cooperatives/collectives, and individual women artisans. We sustain traditional craftmaking techniques, provide high-quality products and educate consumers about women's issues in the countries our partner artisans live in.

I am suggesting you take a few minutes and take a look at what Global Sistergoods is offering. I'm suggesting, as well, that we all begin to realize that our spending habits are essentially a political act. When one trades with Global Sistergoods, this is what happens: You get a superior gift for your Mom made by women who are Mothers and you support a woman who is supporting her family. When you choose to trade with conscience, perhaps forgoing the florist's forced attempt at beauty, you are supporting much more than some strange person 1000 of miles away. You are engaging in an alternative way of doing business that gets you what you want while supporting the people that you want to help.

Kristi Jo and her sister are people who are dreaming of a better way and giving birth to it everyday. Love your Mother and hold your sister close. They just might be able to show us how to heal our economy by trading in new, alternative and exciting ways. These are brave and intelligent women who are teaching a new meaning of value. I am learning that conscious action coupled with value has a strange and powerful positive implication, while tacit in its employ, it is dynamic in its execution. Making a conscious choice is one of those things that requires doing to understand. I'm suggesting you try it and see how it feels.

The best way to spend time with your Mother on her day is to sit with her and ask her who she is on her own terms. Perhaps go for a walk with her or enjoy the outdoor market with locally supported goods on display. Or even go to an independently owned bistro for lunch. Whatever you choose to do make it an active choice with intention and love at it's a Mother's love.

Photo credit: blawk359

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Let us converse about the elephant in the room

I wish I had someone to talk to in conversation about all the turmoil that everyone is experiencing in the room, in the workplace, at the University and in the country. It is a load.

I have just finished reading a book I wish my co-workers would read and we could join in conversation about. The book is called, "Crossing the Unknown Sea; Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity". If I hadn't stumbled upon David Whyte's work through the back door of my own personal troubled voyage, I would run like hell from that title myself, likewise I don't suspect many will be thrilled at the prospect of reading it. I urge you to move past that because I must say that it has helped me immensely to understand - if ever so slightly - how I might have an opportunity to play a positive role in these horrendous changes that are underfoot. After ordering the title through ILL, I got 30 pages into it and knew I had to go buy my own copy if I was going to make it through these "interesting times" at work and in the world at large. It resonates quite loudly within me to seek some sense of this situation to which I have opted for. Finding a place to stand and function at one's best abilities seems to be the order of the day at work. At least for me, I am finding a welcome if tenuous solitary grip within these writings. It occurred to me this morning that others at work might also find strength here.

It is the business of poets to live and examine the edges of things and when a poet with the vision and scope of David Whyte says the game has changed forever for business, I have to pay attention. I am reading something everyone senses, of course, and he goes one step further. He gives tools for facing disease, the unknown and really, really bad weather endemic to these types of changes that we all feel are coming but really do not know how to acknowledge well. We are on the threshold of what will be and hurling towards the essence of our work in a very different work world from whence we entered. In this book, I realize, if we take the time to understand the language of these changes, we can move this troubled situation from invisible ideas onto welcoming and sustainable shores. It is a journey we could do better with wise council. I haven't found better than Whyte:

"In order to get a real conversation with the world you have to drop artificial language, you have to drop politics, and you have to drop an environment based on fear and hiding. People must be encouraged not only to know their craft, their products, their work and the people they serve, but to know a little of themselves. In order to respond to the world of wants, they must know something of what they want themselves. Just as importantly they must know what they do not want. They must also look at their inherited fears around conversation, particularly the conversation about their own gifts. This personal conversation can be very frightening but it is an increasingly necessary one, especially for those who have any leadership role in the organization."

If you have already read it or you read it as a result of this posting, I would be interested in your thoughts.

"Good work is grateful surprise." ~D.W.

...and why not?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oh, What you will see!

Every year in the spring my family and I meet in Bandon, OR for a reunion by the sea. One of the pleasures of this journey is my annual visit to my friend David Lewis and his family in Portland, OR. on my way down. They have been very gracious in hosting me for years. Portland is exactly half way to my destination.

This year's visit featured my official introduction to the newly arrived member of the family, Linden (named for the marvelous trees in the park near their home) and interesting conversations on business with David's wife, Kristi Jo, who has a fantastic on-line concern called "Global Sistergoods" (more on this later). David was busy setting up for a show at the Attic Gallery , 206 SW 1st Ave., Portland, OR on April 2 through May 2 2009.

I want to tell you about David's show at the Attic Gallery opening this Friday, April 3rd, 6 pm to 9 pm. I've included here a few of the paintings that will be featured at this show as a taste but it by no means covers what you will enjoy should you see his work in it's entirety. This show will also feature the intriguing plien aire paintings of Nathaniel Praska.

Please stop by and meet David. Tell your Portland friends and have them tell David Cile sent them and I'm sure he will be mortified ...impressed rather...with my omnipotent reach through the inter-tubes to the public at large. When you go, whether you drop by for the reception on Friday or just stop in the gallery for a look during the month, you will be in for a real treat - as the sampling in this posting implies. David's work just gets more spectacular and vivid with each year. As an added plus, he's a really interesting person and a nice guy! You will want to meet him.

Pictures shown: "Logging Road" (above) and "Neighbors".

Yet another bonus: David be BLOGGING! and AllTheArtOutThere Woot! ...become a follower....