My panel discussion on Quaker leadership at @esrquaker

“Mind­ing the Mes­sage” was the sec­ond speak­ers pan­el at the Quak­er lead­er­ship con­fer­ence host­ed by Earl­ham School of Reli­gion this weekend.

My_panel_discussion_on_Quaker_leadership_at__esrquaker_-__martin_kelley

Four of us were asked to talk about our work in mar­ket­ing our Quak­er orga­ni­za­tions. We rep­re­sent­ed a mix of orga­ni­za­tions. In addi­tion to myself rep­re­sent­ing Friends Jour­nal, there was: Chris Hardie, founder of a Sum­m­er­sault LLC, a tech­nol­o­gy and web host­ing busi­ness; Mar­garet Stark, direc­tor of mar­ket­ing and admis­sions at Kendal at Ober­lin, a con­tin­u­ing care retire­ment com­mu­ni­ty “in the Quak­er tra­di­tion”; and Tom Far­quhar, head of of Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Oth­er record­ed talks include ple­nary talks from Ian Joyce and Thom Jeav­ons, and the first speak­ers pan­el that includ­ed Nor­val Reece, Bar­ry Cross­no, Bet­ty Ton­s­ing, and Christi­na Repoley.

Georges And Trayvons

Over on Mobtown­blues, Kevin Grif­fin Moreno cops to being George Zim­mer­man. Thank­ful­ly, he’s not: when feel­ing threat­ened in a recent sit­u­a­tion with racial over­tones, he chose to walk away, but it is worth ask­ing how dif­fer­ent we are from the char­ac­ters of this tragedy.

I nev­er had much expec­ta­tion that the tri­al of Trayvon Martin’s killer would find him guilty. A good team of lawyers can con­jure up rea­son­able doubt over most any­thing. As as Alafair Burke writes on Huff­in­g­ton, much of what Zim­mer­man did was pro­tect­ed by Florida’s insanely-crazy “stand your ground” laws. 

But even with­out that, high-profile court cas­es get so politi­cized so quick­ly that they rarely pro­vide any kind of cathar­sis, let alone jus­tice, when stacked against hun­dreds of years of racial injus­tices. And just as Zimmerman’s judge­ment was col­ored by his racial his­to­ry and bias­es, so too are ours: our opin­ions about what hap­pened that evening in San­ford, Flori­da, are much more a reac­tion to where we fall in the con­tin­u­ums of priv­i­leges than we might care to admit. 

Martin and Zimmerman, swapped races, via Whileseated.org

Priv­i­lege is unearned oppor­tu­ni­ties con­ferred by how close­ly we fit a par­tic­u­lar stereo­type. When I was in my ear­ly 20s, I was once pulled over by a police­man when I was dri­ving aim­less­ly through a sleepy town at 3 am (no good sto­ry I’m afraid: I was sim­ply bored, with insom­nia). He vis­i­bly eased up when he saw I was white, and he got almost avun­cu­lar a minute lat­er when he saw the Irish name on my dri­vers license. I know that almost-forgettable instant could have played out quite dif­fer­ent­ly if I had been black, with a Mus­lim name, per­haps, and a chip on my shoul­der because this was the fifth time that month I had got­ten detained for no good reason. 

No mat­ter what I do to edu­cate myself, I will always be George Zim­mer­man to (many) strangers on the street, just as Trayvon Mar­tin will always be a sus­pi­cious house bur­gler for being a black stranger in a hoodie. 

The work that needs to be done – or con­tin­ued, for we need to remem­ber the many times peo­ple have done the right thing – couldn’t be answered by a crim­i­nal tri­al any­way. What’s need­ed is the edu­ca­tion of soci­ety at large. 

One step is all of the con­ver­sa­tions tak­ing place on Face­book and around water cool­ers this week. Let’s talk about the fears that sub­con­scious­ly dri­ve us. For Zimmerman’s gun was only one of the trig­gers that killed Mar­tin. It was fear that gave us Sanford’s gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty and its town watch, along with our nation’s per­mis­sive gun laws and dra­con­ian legal con­cepts like “stand­ing one’s ground.” It was that potent mix of sus­pi­cion that set in motion a sit­u­a­tion that left a sev­en­teen year old kid with a pock­et­ful of Skit­tles lying dead face down in the grass. 

Can we learn to under­stand the ways we live in fear? Can we get to know one anoth­er more deeply in that place that breaks down the gates in our hearts?

Summer project: making Goop!

From 1,444 Fun Things to Do with Kids comes goop. Start with 8 ounces of white glue, food col­or­ing, water, and borax.

Com­bine glue, three-fourths cup water, and food col­or­ing in one bowl. In anoth­er bowl, mix one-fourth cup water with one table­spoon Borax, and add this to the first bowl, stir­ring until it forms a Goop ball. Remove the ball. Again com­bine one-fourth cup water with one table­spoon Borax and mix it into the glue mix­ture, stir­ring until anoth­er Goop ball forms. Keep repeat­ing the process until the glue mix­ture is gone. Then knead all the Goop balls togeth­er. Now you’re ready to play by pulling and pat­ting the Goop into strings and unique forms. Store the Goop in an air­tight container.

We only real­ly man­aged one-round of Goop (see video). We also couldn’t find any food col­or­ing on-hand and so made white Goop.

Fifteen years of blogging

Even I’m a bit shocked by the title of this post. Have I real­ly been blog­ging for fif­teen years? I keep double-checking the math but it keeps adding up. In Novem­ber 1997 I added a fea­ture to my two-year-old peace web­site. I called this new enti­ty Non­vi­o­lence Web Upfront and updat­ed it week­ly with orig­i­nal fea­tures and curat­ed links to the best online paci­fist writ­ing. I wrote a ret­ro­spec­tive of the “ear­ly blog­ging days” in 2005 that talks about how it came about and gives some con­text about the proto-blogs hap­pen­ing back in 1997.

But I could arguably go back fur­ther than 15 years. In col­lege, my friend Brni and I start­ed an alter­na­tive print mag­a­zine called VACUUM. It came out week­ly. It had a mix of opin­ion pieces and news from all over. Famil­iar, huh? Columns were made up from a dot matrix print­er and past­ed down with scotch tape, with head­lines scrawled out with a sharpie. The ethos was there. Next April will mark its Sil­ver Jubilee.

What’s most strik­ing is not the huge leaps of tech­nolo­gies, but the single-mindedness of my pur­suits all these years. There are cross-decade echos of themes and ways of pack­ag­ing pub­li­ca­tions that con­tin­ue in my work as edi­tor of Friends Jour­nal.

Mike’s Precision Carpentry

Mike's Precision CarpentryMichael Oliv­eras is a long-time union car­pen­ter mak­ing the entre­pre­neur­ial jump and start­ing his own busi­ness: Mike’s Pre­ci­sion Car­pen­try, serv­ing the New Jer­sey, Penn­syl­va­nia and Delaware from his shop in Ham­mon­ton, NJ. He came to me look­ing for a web­page to adver­tise his new enterprise.
It’s a sim­ple design, a typ­i­cal small-business site of half-a-dozen pages. The col­or scheme match­es his busi­ness cards for a bit of brand­ing. Oliv­eras faced a prob­lem typ­i­cal for new busi­ness­es: a lack of good pho­tos. The work he’s done for many years is not tech­ni­cal­ly his own (per the employ­ment con­tracts) so for now the pic­tures are a mix of the few jobs he has done on his own and a few stock images. I’m sure he’ll have a well-rounded port­fo­lio before long and we’ll be able to fill out the site with his own work. In the mean­times, he added a cou­ple of great pic­tures of him and his fam­i­ly on the “About Us” page to give it that per­son­al touch.
See it live: www​.mike​s​pre​ci​sion​car​pen​try​.com