Wednesday, February 26, 2014

but I'm a person with compassion

"I'm not an activist; I don't look for controversy. I'm not a political person, but I'm a person with compassion. I care passionately about equal rights. I care about human rights. I care about animal rights."
-Ellen DeGeneres

Sunday, February 23, 2014

our individual choices, used collectively for good...

If you are in Boise, Idaho this Tuesday at 11:45am, please join Mercy for Animals as they gather outside the State Capitol for a silent demonstration protesting Idaho's proposed "Ag-Gag" bill, SB1337.

The proposed law would ban undercover filming on farms, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine (the same as convicted animal abusers). The dairy industry claims this law is needed to protect dairies from animal rights advocates who lie on job applications so they can gain access to farms for filming. The bill's sponsor, Twin Falls Republican Sen. Jim Patrick, has compared the animal rights groups to terrorists.

The ag-gag bill passed the Idaho Senate on Friday, February 14th (23-10*) and is awaiting a hearing in a House committee. The bill stems from a 2012 undercover video in Idaho's Bettencourt Dairy ("Warning: Graphic Video Taken at Bettencourt Dairies). The video shows cows being beaten, sexually abused, dragged, and stomped.

So… that's the back story of meeting on Tuesday.

Here's my take …
Cruel and destructive food products and farming practices should be boycotted if not illegal.  I make choices daily in what I buy, do, and watch. I don't believe in protecting the economic well-being of Bettencourt Dairy at the expense of animal welfare and my own beliefs. Bettencourt's mistreatment of their dairy cows is tragic, attributable to a misdirected company culture, and the video of the abuse has raised awareness of the challenges facing the integrity and transparency of our food providers.  I believe economic pressure and boycotts have been and continue to be a vital and reasonable tool in addressing unjust actions when those charged with protecting the vulnerable fail to act. As a citizen of Idaho, I am not required to do business with everyone.  One of the joys of living in Idaho and the United States is the freedom of choice.  If a business wishes to build loyalty it must state what it believes and then act in a manner that reinforces those beliefs.  Bettencourt Dairy is welcome to win back trust and loyalty but trying to shield their misdeeds by proposing laws that discriminate against animals and the public's desire for transparency reveals itself as a vote for special interest.  

"In a consumer-driven society our individual choices, used collectively for the good of animals and nature, can change the world faster than disingenuous laws."

I hope to see you Tuesday.

*Ultimately four Republican senators--Meridian's Clifford Bayer and Russ Fulcher, Sandpoint's Shawn Keough and Nampa's Curt McKenzie, joined six Democrats in voting no. Pocatello Democratic Sen. Roy Lacey joined 22 Republicans in voting yes, moving the bill to the Idaho House.

What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can't be trusted—?

I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and loved it. Since it is my turn to choose the book for my book club, I am choosing The Goldfinch, and I hope everyone loves it as much as I did. Theo Decker may be to The Goldfinch what Holden Caulfield was to Catcher in the Rye. And how awesome is Boris?

The Goldfinch, a painting by the Dutch master Carel Fabritius and the protagonist of the now best selling book, was on display at The Frick museum in New York this winter drawing record crowds.

This is one of those books that will reaffirm your love of literature… if you need reaffirming. 

It's powerful and brilliant and astonishingly perfect.

There are so many amazing parts to this story and it covers so much ground… but this is my absolute favorite:

“I look at the blanked-out faces of the other passengers--hoisting their briefcases, their backpacks, shuffling to disembark--and I think of what Hobie said: beauty alters the grain of reality. And I keep thinking too of the more conventional wisdom: namely, that the pursuit of pure beauty is a trap, a fast track to bitterness and sorrow, that beauty has to be wedded to something more meaningful.

Only what is that thing? Why am I made the way I am? Why do I care about all the wrong things, and nothing at all for the right ones? Or, to tip it another way: how can I see so clearly that everything I love or care about is illusion, and yet--for me, anyway--all that's worth living for lies in that charm?

A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don't get to choose our own hearts. We can't make ourselves want what's good for us or what's good for other people. We don't get to choose the people we are.

Because--isn't it drilled into us constantly, from childhood on, an unquestioned platitude in the culture--? From William Blake to Lady Gaga, from Rousseau to Rumi to Tosca to Mister Rogers, it's a curiously uniform message, accepted from high to low: when in doubt, what to do? How do we know what's right for us? Every shrink, every career counselor, every Disney princess knows the answer: "Be yourself." "Follow your heart."

Only here's what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can't be trusted--? What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight toward a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster?...If your deepest self is singing and coaxing you straight toward the bonfire, is it better to turn away? Stop your ears with wax? Ignore all the perverse glory your heart is screaming at you? Set yourself on the course that will lead you dutifully towards the norm, reasonable hours and regular medical check-ups, stable relationships and steady career advancement, the New York Times and brunch on Sunday, all with the promise of being somehow a better person? it better to throw yourself head first and laughing into the holy rage calling your name?” 
― Donna TarttThe Goldfinch

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Enjoy! genießen sie es!

Last weekend I was in Germany. I was visiting an inspiring friend and educator, Sonya terBorg. She knows about my love of books, my passion for literacy, and my fascination with the Public Space Library movement. 

So, as a gift, she gave me copies of The Fault in our Stars by John Green and copies of Wonder by RJ Palacio translated into German to give away. Amazing!

My usual book plate was lovingly translated into German as well:
my usual book plate

German translation

We started in Starnberg, Germany. Walking the promenade along lake Starnberg and the Maximillianstraße, we left a trail of my two favorite books.

My favorite sight came upon our return stroll along the lake. A copy of Das Schicksal ist ein Meiser Verräter (The Fault in our Stars) left on a bench was found by this couple...

They had their lunch set between them, and while eating his sandwich he was reading: Late in the summer of my seventeenth year…  

And I was so happy!

Thank you, Sonya, for such an amazing gift.

Monday, February 10, 2014

see yourself in others

All beings tremble before violence. 

All fear death, all love life. 

yourself in others. 

Then whom can 
you hurt? 

What harm can you do?

– Buddha

You may have heard of the baby giraffe named Marius who was killed at the Copenhagen Zoo over the weekend. If not, you can read about it here, here, or here
The email of the zoo is if you feel inclined to write.

RIP Marius

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Do you believe like I do?

Have you ever noticed that your kids are always watching what you do? 

They watch how you handle stress. They see how you treat other people. They look at how you deal with your feelings. They’re very observant and they soak in all that information like little sponges. 

It may not feel like they ever listen, but they are definitely watching.

I have recently been in knots over the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. As described by the Oceanic Preservation Society:
Each year from September to May over 20,000 dolphins are slaughtered in Japan. Fishermen round them up by the hundreds using sound barriers to disorient and herd the frantic pods out of their normal migrations into hidden lagoons like the one featured in The Cove. Bottlenose dolphins, especially ones that look like Flipper, are pre-selected by trainers and sold off for upwards of $200,000 to marine mammal parks around the world, where they will remain in captivity performing as circus acts. After the trainers and spectators have left, the rest of the dolphins are inhumanely killed in what can only be described as a massacre. 

My distress has been visible; my feelings have been heart broken; my children have been watching.

So the other day, H shows me this:

I am a big fan of Nintendo. For my birthday this year, my dad and I flew to Tokyo so that I could go to a Pokémon Center. I really liked Japan and I think that Tokyo has become my new favorite city. However, I am so sad and angry that the dolphin slaughter continues in Taiji. It makes me so mad that I don't want to support any Japanese companies until a law is passed to spare the slaughter of dolphins and whales.
My question to you is: Do you know about this in your country? If kids around the world quit buying your products until dolphins were safe, would you help make it stop?
I'd like to know that the Nintendo company that I am a big fan of believes that killing dolphins and whales in Taiji is inhumane and must stop. Do you believe in ending the suffering like I do?
Your Fan (until further notice), Harry Northrop age 11 

It's a letter he's written to Nintendo, a Japan based company that he adores.


And, here's the reply he received from Nintendo:

Hello Harry,
Thank you for writing and for your patience for our response. I appreciate your taking the time to write to us with your feedback regarding the events going on in Taiji, Japan. I can certainly understand your thoughts on this matter and want to assure you that your comments will be added to our records so that the appropriate departments at Nintendo are aware of your position.
I was glad to hear you had the opportunity to visit a Pokémon Center when you visited Tokyo with your dad. It's also great that you are aware of events going on elsewhere in the world. As a global company, we at Nintendo always appreciate hearing what is important to all our fans, young and old alike.
Thank you again for your email. I truly hope that you can continue to support our games and systems in the future.
Nintendo of America Inc 
Brendan Johnson-Dong 

If you want to help, below is a list of popular Japan based corporations. 

I'm sure you have purchased from one of these companies in the past. Perhaps a letter from a loyal fan could turn the tide, so to speak.

  • Bridgestone
  • Canon
  • Fuji
  • Hitachi
  • Honda
  • JAL
  • Kawasaki
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nikon
  • Nintendo
  • Nissan
  • Olympus
  • Pentax
  • Ricoh
  • Sanyo
  • Sega
  • Sony
  • Subaru
  • Suzuki
  • Tomy
  • Toshiba
  • Toyota
  • Uniden
  • Yamaha

the reader

I owe a big "Thank You!" to everyone who participated in the Learning Lab Idaho's Lunch for Literacy! I so appreciate your support of a nonprofit community where adults are empowered by literacy skills to be self-sufficient and to participate in the workforce, education and civic affairs. THANK YOU!

As a special treat, watch this commercial for scotch… you'll be so glad you did.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

do you dare to dream?

The Learning Zone is my favorite place to be. 
Perhaps I need to venture into the Magic Zone.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

off the planet

The new TED list of speakers came out the other day. TED 2014 will be in Vancouver, BC March 17-21. This year marks the 30th anniversary of TED and the theme is: "The Next Chapter". The list of speakers is amazing, but the most endearing to me is astronaut Chris Hadfield. Having spent six months off the planet, he has tremendous perspective on the meaning of life. Watch this interview excerpt to see what I mean...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

you are beautiful

“What you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful.” 
― Scott WesterfeldUglies

I was part of the KickStarter for A Decade of You Are Beautiful book. My book came last week, and it is awesome. It came with 2 big packs of you are beautiful stickers. Fun!

There are many wonderful parts to the book, but my favorite chapter is chapter nine titled, Be Open and my favorite bit starts on page 92…
"I was attending a leadership conference to hear Seth Godin speak. Sitting among 7,000 people, with over 150 thousand teleconferencing worldwide, I was rather excited. Seth was speaking on the subject of gifts when I unexpectedly heard him say, 'Matthew Hoffman put an idea into the world.' My mom, who was sitting right next to me, gasped out loud. (Yes, I was there with my parents).
Pictures of my work and You Are Beautiful installations began to stream across the massive projection screens. It was the first time I had ever been publicly linked to the project. I realized I had just been outed by an idol." 


Here's what Seth Godin said that day:
"Giving gifts. Going to someone and saying I am doing this for you, I am doing this with you, hoping you will spread it. Matthew Hoffman put an idea into the world. A very simple idea. Suddenly, it started spreading, it started changing people. And if you can give something to people to believe in, just give it to them, magical things start to change." 

Matthew Hoffman has done a beautiful thing with his stickers, and the final page of his book brought tears to my eyes…

Check out You Are Beautiful and Matthew Hoffman; you'll be glad you did.