Posts Tagged ‘empowerment’

I was walking through Copley Square recently, past the homeless folk, and I thought of Trump and his seemingly extra million dollars he has in-hand. And I wondered would that be enough money to create a transitional housing center with an edible garden … I could see the nasturtium trailing over walls … with maybe a greenhouse and lending library and clean bathrooms with showers and staff who could help people get on a path for finding employment, health care, insurance, etc. But I stopped daydreaming. I don’t have a million dollars. Nor do I need to. Each day I learn, re-learn, and hold tight to the knowledge that anyone can promote positive, immediate change. How?

Give. Learn. Act.

Give: How many times have I written of the importance of teachers in my life. They shaped who I am and what I do. They are often poorly paid and under-resourced and that’s why I love donorschoose.org. Through this site, you can help individual teachers as they are making change one classroom at a time. It does make a difference. The site is easy to navigate. You can select classrooms near you or you can select a classroom where you grew up or you can pick a region that you know is economically distressed, e.g. a Detroit, and select a classroom there. It is a well vetted program. A little bit of money goes a long way for some of these classrooms. It is not a solution to our national education problems but it is an avenue for change on the ground level.

Learn: I’m human. I know I am  fully capable of stereotyping and judging people and places as well as anybody else. So that’s why I appreciate, as someone living on the East Coast in a major metropolitan city, chancing upon Daily Yonder, a multi-media news source about rural America. I think one of things that became clear during this past presidential election is that the U.S. is a big country. While I would love to pull a Charles Kuralt and travel around this nation, visit all of its states and territories, to learn firsthand about the people and cultures that make up America, that’s not going to happen. So a publication like Daily Yonder is essential reading to simply glimpse people and places I know little about, to learn both of their struggles and what they celebrate, as part of the American fabric.

Act: Don’t wait for someone to make change. Be the change. That’s the philosophy that came across to me when I first learned of The Philanthropy Connection. Its mission is to inspire, teach, and enable women of all generations to engage in collective philanthropy. Through extremely engaged philanthropy, members provide grants to charitable organizations that improve the quality of life for low-resource individuals and families living in Massachusetts. It’s Boston-based but similar models can be found in other communities. Or created.

And act some more: Well if you weren’t sure of my liberal biases before you will be now … buy Penzey’s Spices. Give a little Love, nurture somebody’s Soul, show a bit of Kindness at the table even if you sit with someone you disagree with. In fact what better way to get to know people then through a shared meal. And if you sign up for the Penzey’s newsletter you’ll get a sense of how founder Bill Penzey is putting his money where his mouth is, putting his business on the line by vehemently and vigorously calling out this administration and all who are trying to sow seeds of hate in this nation.

This is my short list of the moment. Good stuff is happening. We just have to seek it out. Do our parts as it makes sense. If you have a million to give, wonderful. If you have one-hour to volunteer, wonderful. It all makes a difference.

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I recently met a man who was rather wizened. His hair and beard were white as snow. He was bent over and not just from the bulging back pack he wore.  He leaned heavily upon a cane.  Still, there was a youthful air about him especially that twinkle in his eyes.  He entered the place where I was working and asked to use the bathroom.  Now even as I prepared to utter the standard words often uttered in the heart of Boston, he stopped me.  “Yes, yes, I know. You don’t have a public restroom.  But this is an emergency.” Isn’t it always, I thought.

But then he proceeded to share the nature of his emergency and so after making a quick call for coverage, I helped the gentleman to the bathroom.  It was a circuitous path down several small flights of stairs and around some corners. He moved slowly and so he and I had time to chat. And as he talked I could not help but remark, “Sir, you do have a way with words.” He laughed.  “Well, I should. I’m a writer.” As we eventually made our way back up the stairs, we talked some more. Once again I remarked upon his way with words.  He chuckled, that youthful gleam awful bright.  “Have you ever heard of The Pilgrim?” I hadn’t. ” Thumping his chest, he said, “Well, I write for The Pilgrim.”

I saw him to the door. We wished each other well and that was that. I forgot about our encounter until today, for some odd reason, and decided to look up his magazine.  I was not completely surprised but still a bit startled to see that it is a publication written by the homeless.  It’s edited by Atlantic columnist James Parker and published out of Boston’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul. You can read more about the publication via this link: http://www.thepilgrim.org/#!about/c69s

After reading several entries on the Pilgrim Blog, I almost titled this blog post “hard reading.” The writing is intense. Of the pieces I’ve read so far, one of the most moving passages, Adam Staggering, was written by someone who is no longer homeless but still adrift.  And then there’s The Bed Lottery by Ricardo.  The print publication must be filled with so much more and that is available through subscription.

I’m glad my path crossed with that of the wizened little man. I only wish that I had asked his name so that I might know which pieces he had written.


Image Source: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Head of an old man.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47db-ca87-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99


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