Recent CommentsVera Haddan on The Day Renny Skäraosten Saved the North CoastYesterday, February 19, 2017, my son took a wrong turn and we "accidentally" ended up at Tillamook Cheese Factory. The cheese samples and ice cream were wonderful. The featured flavor was strawberry lemonade. Today, I ran across your story, timely huh.Are you related to us, or what?I sent my son the link indicating a righteous vocabulary handout attached.Priceless, absolutely priceless!Rob Gourley on What RemainsYes, stimulating essay, thanks. Black Elk Speaks!BillieJ on Jesus We’re Cold InsideVery nice. Glad to see you're doing this. Had no idea. Billie (Hyder) WWatt Childress on Baby Gramps and the Geechee GooThank you Rob. Here's to good medicine.Rob Gourley on Baby Gramps and the Geechee GooDelighted to read this. I'm appreciating how you wove various yarns to compose the essay -- Spiritual Baptists, Baby Gramps singing & playing in Tolevana Arts Colony concert, Billy Hults, Geechee rhythm of the Gullah people, and St. Lucia interactions with the two elder women singing, the mountain farmer, the stone ax.Totally agree that "music is medicine."Watt Childress on The Stars Still Shine BrightOne of your best, Bob. Many thanks..B. Laszlo on The Stars Still Shine BrightEvocative. Thank you.Watt Childress on Time to Turn the Clocks BackThanks so much Bob for this retrospective from a third-party point of view. We would have a better chance of breaking free of the two-party monopoly if the presidential debates included third-party candidates. It was a procedural low-point in 1988 when the League of Women Voters withdrew its sponsorship of the debates in protest of a memorandum between the two major party campaigns. That memorandum decided which candidates could participate in the debates, which individuals would be panelists (and therefore able to ask questions), and the height of the lecterns. A written statement from the League said "the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter." They were right.Watt Childress on Running DownhillSo pleased to see your comment Lisa and Ann's reply. This is why we revived the Upper Left Edge -- to provide a place for wordsmiths to inspire meaningful action in the world. Thanks to both of you!Ann Ornie on Running DownhillHello Lisa!Thank you so much for your kind words!Though I won't be able to make this meeting in Astoria, you are more than welcome to feature this piece on your website. But it would be lovely, when doing so, to reference or link Upper Left Edge!Thank you again!AnnLisa Arkin on Running DownhillI'm very moved by your writing, so glad I stumbled upon your site. Your family history in the world of commercial timber gives you a unique, grounded perspective to understand the scope of the problem. Aerial herbicide sprays are an anathema to forest care and sustainable timber harvesting.I'll be speaking on the topic of forestry and sprays in Astoria this Thursday, 10/20 at KALA. I'd very much like to meet you! Would be excited to feature your story on our website. Thanks,Lisa Arkin, Beyond ToxicsJoe River on Ballad of a serial malcontentWelcome ! We need all the socialists of your kind and talent we can get. You have a nice writing "voice" and I look forward to more.Joe WebbAstoriajwebb67239@aol.comRabbi Bob on Running DownhillTo answer that last question, because it's working for those it was meant to, the timber companies, but I'm sure you knew that.Thanks for this post, Ann. I hope we can figure out a way to live amongst the incredible Pacific Northwest coastal rainforest, and keep it somewhat intact. The sad truth is that this land long ago was sacrificed to (and for) timber, and if we didn't live here at all, it would be completely gone, because no one would be around to worry about it, as you do, and do something about it.bob-goldberg on Rabbi Bob’s 2016 Democratic Party Primary Ballot GuideSo it's a little convoluted on my iPhone, but I didn't need to remember any passwords in order to login and post this comment. All happened magically through Facebook and OneAll!Coming up soon is Rabbi Bob's Guide to Voting in the General Election, sure to be a thriller!bob-goldberg on Bernie wins Indie vote while Dems boost HillaryStill don't know why Gary Johnson polls better than Jill Stein, especially among youth.Rob Gourley on IF THE FOREST COULD SAY…"Sss, grr, Raccoon here. They finally loaded those noisy machines that belch stinky fumes, and took them away. Waddling through this open place where they've destroyed the Forest, there's too much light. My partner and I know we have to migrate on, find another place with trees to climb and food nearby. Shame really, this was a mature, well-balanced community, and now it's ruined."Thanks for reporting so eloquently in your essay the impact of the damage they've wreaked in those Forest tracts.Vinny Ferrau on Angels from EverywhereThanks Watt. The part you speak of, where they visit Salvation Mountain and get a tour from Leonard, was totally unscripted. Adds authenticity and depth to an all ready gritty and profound film.Watt Childress on Angels from EverywherePoignant musing, Vinny, deeply personal yet full of haunting reflections that are applicable to human culture. I've never seen this movie, but your post prompted me to look at a few clips on Youtube. I really like the scene where the two youths meet and then walk together to visit the old man at Salvation Mountain."You really believe in love then?" asks the young man."Yeah...totally," the old man answers, eyes focused with gentle conviction. "This is a love story that is staggering to everybody in the whole world -- that God really loves us, a lot."Then the elder tells them in earnest how much he loves living by himself in the desert.Knowing the outcome of this true story, the scene tugs at my emotions in a way I can't find a good word for. "Melancholy" is as close as I can get, but it just doesn't do it justice.Watt Childress on Bernie wins Indie vote while Dems boost HillaryHaven't seen that projection. If there's a link feel free to share it here. Sounds far-fetched at this point, but also compelling because I'm a fan of Stein. Also wonder if the modeler factored in votes for Gary Johnson, who beat Stein in the IPO ballot.Judging from Hillary and Bill's history (and her choice for VP) I'm guessing she's going to focus more of her campaign on attracting more moderate Republicans like Kasich, But she'll try to keep Bernie supporters on board as well. It will be interesting to see how she manages this balancing act. The person who may have the most to lose is Bernie, if he engages in high-profile stumping for her while she courts the centrist corporate base.Rabbi Bob on Bernie wins Indie vote while Dems boost HillarySubstitute Jill Stein for Bernie, and the results are similar for a nationwide model put together by someone I saw on Facebook. In this model, Stein wins the electoral college vote over Trump, with Clinton way behind. Very interesting.Watt Childress on Endless PossibilitiesThank you Catherine for sharing your gift of carefully considered words. Most creative work is unnoticed by mainstream corporate culture. Yet choices by little-known artists are essential to life in community.Catherine M. Gardner on A Flickering HeartbeatReally enjoyed your poem! Beautifully written. Loved the way you ended the poem with a poignant question.Thanks!Rabbi Bob on no podemos respirarBummer on missing classes, but it sounds like you're getting a great education on politics anyway! On our leaders, I agree. Systemic. Not only the leadership paradigms, but the whole electoral process. Time for a good look at electoral systems around the world, and for us here in America and elsewhere to update ours. Hope to see you here in the upper left edge this summer!Vinny Ferrau on Missing W.S. Merwin and ValhallaWatt, your mead is indeed impressive. My auroch horn runneth over...I would gratefully trust in Freyja's wisdom, perhaps even more so than the sorting hat at Hogwarts. W.S. is a mountain unto himself, His poetry handholds for vertical ventures, or cordage for hammocks and insightful ponderings. Dining is like Dying, we don't do it once...at least that's what the Buddhist's tell us...Vinny Ferrau on SusieImpermanence touches us all. The compassion we show those it hits hardest, speaks volumes in the book of the Heart.joy on no podemos respirarFantastic post. I remember many years ago you when you were a little girl asking me about Sunshine laws and Nixon. I should have known back then that you were going to blow me away with political analysis.Watt Childress on no podemos respirarAnd please know, Willa, that this post moved me in ways that go so much deeper than electoral politics. It worked to connect the thread of political discourse with the fabric of culture. Something important has unravelled in our thinking, and your words help weave it back together. Bless you.Willa Childress on no podemos respirarI agree, Clinton's foreign policy is scary. Yet I've noticed the ease with which people hop back and forth between sexist, pithy critiques of her and genuine, hugely consequential ones. We've lost our ability to discourse coherently if we risk losing sight of human rights violations in a din of bad jokes.You ask why we always elect neoconservative women to office, and it's a question close to home for me—Argentina's just over the mountain, and I haven't had classes in weeks here due to widespread student protests over president Michelle Bachelet's "too little, too late" attempt to address the súper high cost of education here. And these ladies are the supposed left-wing! It's a complicated question you ask, but here's the thing: there are a lot of neoconservatives in high offices across the world, period. I could question why so few women leaders have prioritized women's rights issues—but hell, so have leaders since the dawn of time. To me, all signs point to systemic malady: we've gotta start changing our leadership paradigms, for todos.Watt Childress on no podemos respirarAmen! Your words expose our deep human need for shared remorse, Smog is the result of our greed and disrespect for creation. It also serves as a super-metaphor for our oppression of each other. You remind us that to dispel this toxic suffocating stuff we must be able to apply nuanced thinking. AND you show that such thinking wields a sharp edge. Your admonition regarding Hillary Clinton, por exemplo, is perfectly pitched to defend her personhood while condemning her apparent duplicity. I hope everyone will read the article you linked that addresses her actions as Secretary of State with regard to Honduras. Truth to power!Here's a link to a song by an awesome band that came into my mind after reading this piece by an awesome writer. Not sure if the meaning runs parallel, but there is some emotional connection in there for me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9kqoD1t4lwVinny Ferrau on no podemos respirarWilla, sometimes i read a nugget of someones experience and am blown away. I am so filled with emotion that i find it hard to fashion a worthy response. This is an amazing piece. Something precious, faceted, and heavy. You are an amazing writer and i truly find myself all in when i read your postings. Like the peeling of an onion to get to deeper levels of consciousness and core. Your writing reminds me of one of my kids photography, he is a master of the inner city, inner worlds, that only seasoned inhabitants may know.Often in my travels people would wonder why someone from New York would want to come to Siberia, rural Ecuador, Pine Ridge. My response would be not to say too much, but instead to share with them through being and action, how much i value the land, spirits, ways, culture, and people.On so many trips people would ask, "How can we help? How can we ""fix"" this?" The wizened answer would come back, "Fix Yourself."I have also noticed tons of sexism and misogynistic terms applied to Hillary Clinton. This further exposes a very ugly underbelly, both conscious and unconscious, of fear and blatant disrespect, but really, it's all fear... What i dislike in HRC, i dislike in Barrack or Bush, or countless others. Their policies. Not what they say, but what they do (or don't do). Military Industrial Complex, TPP, Fracking, For Profit Prison System, GMO's, Wall Street, Inequality, etc, etc,etc...,I think the wizened answer remains the same, "fix ourselves" and keep sharing and enlightening in the ways in which you are.... thank you.Rabbi Bob on no podemos respirarWe are so lucky to have the next generation here to at least try to understand the world. That was wonderful writing, Willa. Keep trying to help, and learn.I don't agree with the Hillary thing though. Her foreign policy is awful, and it would be awful (and is) if it was a man. She doesn't get a pass on this because she is a woman. Why do we always seem to get neocon women in high office around the world?Anne Gurney on Show Me A SignSo glad you've preserved this story for us and so glad we went. I'd love to be back in that Beetle, breathing fresh cut grass breezes.Scott suppressing a smile is like The Tin Man lacking a heart.That crossroads on Route 11 has been a recurrent image for me over the years. The tent revival was held in a vacant lot across from Dillow's market and cupola barn. The vista there, looking out over plowed fields and hay bales toward Whitetop Mountain later became the subject of many of my paintings: Cedarville II, III, etc.Let's have a revival revival!Watt Childress on Show Me A SignQuoted from with permission from a follow-up email sent by Scott:"Here's what's really really crazy. I taught motorcycle safety for 10 years outside of VFW post. These wonderful old Marines, Army, Navy characters would come by to mow the lawn and do general landscaping. They took great pride in the place. Occasionally lawnmowers, weedeaters, even blowers would not start.Sarge is a big barrel chested silver hair marine with a handlebar mustache and a sideways smile. He was struggling to get a weedeater started. I told him of my gift and the history of it. And he said "OK lawnmower Jesus let's see what ya got!"I put my hands on it – and I prayed. Even when I did it the very very first time in Virginia many years ago I decided to actually pray. To envision it running.Today – I've done this to over a dozen small engines at that VFW location. You would think that when i do this that it would absolutely blow these guys away – but they only produce a hearty laugh, shake their heads, and get to work taking care of the grass."Watt Childress on Show Me A SignTestify!! Bless you Brother Scott for laying your art on our small engine and sharing a masterful story from the hills. Spirit grins big when memory drinks from that deep stream. It snuck through the sarcasm of the early 1980s, even though I barely appreciated it then.In a separate conversation you shared a postscript about your ongoing work bridging the mechanical and spiritual worlds. May I copy it from your email and paste it here?Vinny Ferrau on Hollywood DreamsWonderful slice of life Catherine...i enjoyed the read.Watt Childress on Paris BeatCheck out this great photograph!Watt Childress on Indie ExodusThank you so much Greg for passing along the idea for that framing. Ideas freely given can flow like lava through our culture, transform the landscape of our collective mind.Registering Independent doesn't prevent us from voting for the candidate of our choice in the general election -- Democrat, Republican, Green, etc. It merely signals that we are doing so from a separate political vantage point. In Oregon, that's an especially potent position because the IPO is a third major party.Gregory Zschomler on Indie ExodusI really like the writing of this piece. I'm glad you found good use of the Mt. St. Helens framing.Good job Watt. It's idealist to be sure. I really wish it could work. Maybe one day with enough effort by the dreamers of this world it could make a difference. So, don't give up.BTW: I agree with Joe and Vinny both. I tried it with Ross Perot and all it did was hurt the next best choice. I wish we had more say, but it's rigged.Watt Childress on Indie ExodusAmen Vinny. Reverend Billy and Uncle Mike were fond of saying there are three rules in life: 1) nobody hits; 2) everybody eats; and 3) there is no third rule.From our conversations I figure we may end up voting for different people in the general election if Bernie does not win the Democratic nomination. Regardless, I absolutely respect you and know you will vote your conscience. Whether one votes for Jill Stein (Green Party) or Hillary Clinton (assuming she's nominated), it will boost our chances of leveraging reform if we cultivate common ground outside the two dominate parties. In the general election Independents can vote for either of these candidates, of course. It will strengthen our position as reformers if we move in mass to become Independents following the primaries.Vinny Ferrau on Indie ExodusI like Indie books, Indie music, and Indie choice in politics. Nice piece Watt. I like choice. I'm not a big fan of being encapsulated or boxed. I've boxed my way out of boxes most of my life, how do u think i got such a pretty nose :P. Well now i just sit back and smile most times. Muster compassion when i can. A left jab usually inspires a counter punch, and even if u win, they just sign u up for another fight. The only way to illicit serious change is to find some common ground (like the Heart) and work with each other. H.G. Wells said "The first man to raise a fist is the man who's run out of ideas." Seems like there should be more choices than the low brow breast beating we've been force-fed all these years. Just because they do it, doesn't make it right. Viva le Integrity...Watt Childress on Indie ExodusBy the way, if Oregon's primary were open, odds are good from what we've seen that Bernie would have secured even more delegates. If Kentucky's primary were open, I believe he would have won that state. This election gives us a lot to think about.Watt Childress on Indie ExodusGreens are definitely good for us, yes siree Bob.The word "Independent" has a meat-and-potatoes attraction that is similar to "Democratic" and "Republic." Americans have identified as Independent for a long time, usually with pride in not being attached to dominant brands that often provide more packaging than contents. This may have something do with why the Independent Party has grown so rapidly in recent years, when that packaging has been especially disappointing.My interest in the Independent Party is functional. I believe it offers us the best chance of adding a third major force to electoral dynamics and improving the democratic process. A third major force can open up opportunities for Greens and other minor parties to gain traction with American politics. Consider registering Independent for a while, get to know people, and help steer the movement forward."New song" is used in a deep metaphorical sense, but your postscript sent me in search of a pop anthem for this post. Here you go.https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Exodus+Bob+Marley&view=detail&mid=227B75A7AC8D4E37415D227B75A7AC8D4E37415D&FORM=VIREWatt Childress on Indie ExodusIndependents and non-affiliated voters can fully participate in states that hold open primaries. Oregon currently has a closed primary. I aim to be part of a coalition that opens it.You love Bernie, but you're sick of Independents? I hope you get better if you want a decent candidate to win in November. Cause here’s the thing, Joe: when the final decision is in front of us, you and I might be voting for the same person. From a practical standpoint — if for no other reason — we might as well get along.Joe River on Indie ExodusWhy not cut off your noses at the same moment, to really make a statement? Stamp your foot and shout real loud. That's all you'll accomplish by following this advice. I'm sick of "Independents". Grow up. You whined for years because you couldn't vote in Primaries, because, ... well, that's what a primary is: the election for members of a certain party to choose their candidate. Independents can't vote in them for the same reason they can't vote for members of the College of Cardinals or the board of the Stock Exchange: They ain't members. So now they've convinced the Sec of State to add their name to the ballot, and they still whine, because they have no candidate. Waaah. I love and support Bernie Sanders, but this kind of crap does not help the Democratic Party, the State, or the Country.Rabbi Bob on Indie ExodusIt seems to me, Watt, that the Independent Party is the moderate version of the Green Party (or the Pacific Green Party - PGP - in Oregon). Both are considered small i independent parties for the purposes of the data floated around that over 40% of us Americans are independents. I'm not sure why the Independent Party has flourished in Oregon and the PGP is barely hanging on. The platform of the PGP, like all Greens, is pretty much progressive heaven, with the most important thing, in my mind, being its foreign policy, which is pacifist, empire-unbuilding, and engaging.I will be going back there, from where I took a short break to vote for not only Bernie, but other progressive candidates challenging the establishment. The Greens and many parties, including the Dems, also use technology and outreach to get their members' opinions on candidates, policies and even strategies. I think what we really need is a way to get all the idealogical viewpoints into the pot for our elections. The best way to do this would be for the parties to select their candidates however they want (without public assistance), and then have publicly funded elections between the parties' candidates and anyone else (true independents) that wants to run independently of parties. (With instant runoff or ranked-choice voting, we could select a candidate that many more of us could be happy with, without the spoiler effect.)You know, the way it's done in every other somewhat democratic country in the world.P.S. What song did you have in mind????Libby on Bringing Birth HomeI am a student midwife and an apprentice. After each prenatal home visit and home birth, I have this feeling as I leave. It's a mix of contentment, excitement, and gratitude, and it bleeds into every piece of my life. I work at the Co-op in Astoria, and every so often someone will comment on my 'good attitude' or my 'happiness.' The truth is that being a part of something I'm passionate about fills my whole heart and affects my whole life.I don't ever want to forget how sweet life is amid all of the challenges as a student-midwife right now. It's the peaceful and unrushed births that make me cry every time, but it's also everything else. It's the home visits that last at least an hour and a half. The excitement of new moms figuring things out. The magic that is breast milk. The palpating of bellies to feel sweet baby feet, tiny bums and backs that haven't yet been born. I savor the hour drive down the coast along the ocean. The hugs and kisses when coming and going--from the three-year-olds, the one-year-olds, the moms and dads, and the family dogs. The driving to the births with butterflies in my stomach and the grounding I have to do within myself before I walk into space of a mom in labor. The driving to appointments with my preceptor when I get to ask, learn, listen, share, laugh, cry, and everything in between. The understanding and trust of the body's absolutely incredible design. And, my God, the sweet sweet baby smell of the tiny babies after they come earthside.Gratitude. Every single day. I can't imagine it getting any sweeter than this.Watt Childress on Rabbi Bob’s 2016 Democratic Party Primary Ballot GuideYour sermon is at odds with our actions. If Oregon had a more entrenched primary system, you and I would not be able to easily switch parties so we can vote for the candidate(s) we like most.Bernie Sanders is right to object to primary restrictions that exclude independent and non-affiliated voters. Thank goodness we live in Oregon, rather than New York, where the primary is more tightly closed. Here we have more flexibility. I look forward to the day when we have a fully open primary in Oregon and elsewhere.Rabbi Bob on Rabbi Bob’s 2016 Democratic Party Primary Ballot GuideI got the same advice, Watt. I tossed the Green ballot (just the non-partisan races), and will be using the Democratic ballot to vote in the primary.The whole system is actually quite screwed up, as evidenced by the ease with which I can change parties back and forth. People who are not entrenched in a party should not be able to pick the party's candidate for any office. The goal of primary elections is to nominate candidates to participate in the general election. Our screwed up public primaries for Rep, Dem, and Ind (with this last one just implemented this year) parties in Oregon are a complete travesty of politics. The expense, rules, and administration of primary elections should be borne by the parties, and everything should be equal. If anything, the smaller parties should receive pubic help to run their primaries, since they have so much less resources.Instead of the absurd system we have here in Oregon and in most states, or the even more ridiculous top-two systems in WA and CA, primaries should be out of the public eye, and each party should choose one candidate they support in the general election. In those general elections, in addition to party candidates, individuals (i.e. Donald Trump) could run, and the election season would be short (6 weeks is the amount of time most elections around the world have for campaigning) and publicly funded. The winners would be chosen by instant runoff voting.Instead of the above system, which most of the world uses, we front-load our elections, especially for president, with primaries. This leaves minor parties and individuals (unless wealthy) with little chance of winning. Considering that minor parties (along with unaffiliated voters) make up about 45% of the US electorate these days, it seems to me we need a better way of electing our representatives and leaders.End of sermon...I'm pretty disappointed that no one has replied with their ballot choices, or even has commented on mine. I'll be sending in my ballot early this time, breaking a habit of submitting my ballot on the final day. Even though no one has replied, maybe some folks have read the guide, and hopefully used it to help in their choices. Voting, like most else, should be a group activity.Watt Childress on Rabbi Bob’s 2016 Democratic Party Primary Ballot GuideThanks for posting this Bob.I also switched to Democrat from another party (Independent Party of Oregon) in order to vote in the Democratic primary. Like you, I received two ballots in the mail -- one for the IPO and one for the Dems. The Tillamook County Clerk's office instructed me to vote in the party in which I am currently registered (Dems) and void the other ballot.Watt Childress on Note from the Cottage with Roof ReplacedYou're in good company. Thanks for prompting me to look for this cross-border reading.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA3fxKBldywRob Gourley on Note from the Cottage with Roof ReplacedThe rhyme scheme of this piece is an improvisation on that of Robert Burns' "To a Mountain Daisy" (1786).Catherine M. Gardner on A Village Called HomeThanks for your spot-on article about what is happening to our "friendly informal setting," that we call home (Cannon Beach). It is certainly understandable why so many people want to share in the natural beauty of our community, but the ensuing crowds and noise are certainly changing the flavor of the town. It's going to call for more patience and respect on the part of everyone, locals and tourists alike.Watt Childress on Home/LessIt is joyous when unsung heroes break through the ranks of mainstream acclaim and share a common genius of heart with the world.While distributing the Upper Left Edge in Beaverton I stopped by a 7-11 to ask directions to the library. A helpful young woman set me on the path. In gratitude I ran out to my car and got her a paper.“This is why I’m going to the library,” I said, “to deliver a stack of these papers. Check out this piece in the middle, written by a homeless person who works behind a counter in Manzanita.“I really look forward to reading this,” said the woman. “This is my first job. I'm homeless.”It is gratifying to move in the flow of words. Lead the magic, Sister Gambele. I will follow.Watt Childress on Note from the Cottage with Roof ReplacedBeautiful poem, Rob. I look forward to reading more of your work.Thanks for contributing!Watt Childress on Leaving Smog-iagoExcellent rabbinic clarification!Rabbi Bob on A Village Called HomeThanks for writing about yourself, Nancy. It's a beautiful story, from a beautiful person.So, yes, the conundrum of how to keep a place that you call home from changing because so many others want to call it home, or even visit. This is one of the biggest conundrums of peacetime. May it always be the toughest thing we face.Rabbi Bob on Leaving Smog-iagoI both liked and listened to a lot of The Police. Just listened to a few songs by hitting that link, Watt. That brings back memories... Sting has made quite a career for himself after The Police broke up, in many different genres. He's a true talent. I really liked the reggae-like beat of The Police. Some important lyrics; some not so. But the music was great.We're probably spirits in a spiritual world, by the way.Watt Childress on Leaving Smog-iagoHey Willa!After pouncing on your last post I wanted to prove that even the most enthusiastic of dads can show some restraint. So I waited for nearly two weeks to respond, thinking about your beautiful insightful words. What comes to me is a question: is the experience of swimming in another culture a reflection of a larger immersion?Every day people go about our routines, exchanging words with folks who generally reaffirm whatever views we have of the world. It's easy to become complacent if we stick close to what is familiar, never wonder whether these exchanges are just tiny approximations of what's really happening around us.Earlier today I sold someone a memoir by Sting, lead singer for The Police. Been in the shop for a year. Not a group I listened to a lot in my youth, but I've always liked them.While musing on your post I've been remembering one of their hit songs from 1981. I recall walking on the sand at Myrtle Beach, late one night with a high school friend whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Paraguay."Do you believe we really are spirits in the material world?" he asked in earnest, a welcome departure from the usual party banter."Si," I said. Over time, with practice, we discover our common language.Love!DadRabbi Bob on Leaving Smog-iagoYeah, ocean acidification policy for Tevan this summer in D.C. Sounds cool! (or hot and humid actually). Your courses sound really interesting, as well as the project. How's campus life? Must be a great adventure. Study abroad is cool! I got to study abroad, sort of, when I was an undergraduate. I spent a summer in Israel, and did some projects at the Weizmann Institute of Science. It was awesome!!Willa Childress on Leaving Smog-iagoThanks for the kind words! Bob, I'm here until mid-July. I'm taking two classes at the University of Chile: Sociology of the Environment and Collective Memory after Political Violence. They're both fascinating and very difficult in Spanish. I'm also doing a research project while here, on the effects of polarization and economic stratification on urban reforestation and activism. Oh, and I've got a Spanish grammar class in which we're reading a book for "kids aged 8-88."I saw that Tevan will be interning with NOAA this summer—y'all must be excited for him!Vinny Ferrau on Leaving Smog-iagoWilla, i'm loving your writing!!! Thank you for the scope, the fun, the truth in your words. Their is a beautiful ease, like a master calligrapher with a sword or brush, creating word scape in the breadth of a breath. I'm all in.... Thank youVinny Ferrau on The Day Renny Skäraosten Saved the North CoastGreg, you've managed to spill the banks of English on a quite odiferous subject...I applaud your extensive research on such a fumey matter. I look forward to another installment, perhaps Ren's harmonica prowess after too much yoghurt, with the harp positioned a bit more southerly than we're used to seeing...Rabbi Bob on Leaving Smog-iagoGreat writing, Willa, and I saw some of your photos of the trip on Facebook. So, what classes are you taking? How much longer do you get to stay there? My advice -- do as much traveling as you can; traveling to new places is great education!bill on The Day Renny Skäraosten Saved the North Coast"Funny" does not capture it, Greg. It had me laughing out loud helplessly as you blew out each new and outrageous synonym for flatulence !! The tears of laughter in my eyes made it hard to see the screen ! You've made my day !Gregory Zschomler on The Day Renny Skäraosten Saved the North CoastBloon away. Funny. And sick picture. LOLWatt Childress on The Day Renny Skäraosten Saved the North CoastMy goodness, Gregory. You have elevated flatulence humor to an exquisite new literary height. You did it without using the word "fart." Not even once. I'm blown away.Watt Childress on EcotoneThank you Nancy for gifting us with another beautiful poem. It was good to see you at Jupiter's over the weekend, good to restock our supply of "Oregon Pacific" -- your wonderful collection of poems. Highly recommended!judith on Chilean MusingsWilla! So great to read of your first impressions of Santiago and YOU! Each individual has the ability to recreate themselves in a new place with such a different set of variables.I will definitely be reading your accounts and I am excited to experience it vicariously through the wonderful eyes of such an adventurous,bright shining spirit, and beautiful human that you are! I feel confident that other shining stars are out there waiting to make your acquaintence..such as the happy subway dog .;) xoxo JudeRabbi Bob on Chilean MusingsAnimal Farm and now Bear Story -- we do need another animal allegory book/film/video to let us Americans know our history better, Willa (and Watt). Without that knowledge and perspective, we're doomed -- not to repeat it -- just doomed.I'm grateful for technology so that we can stay in touch with Tevan and follow his escapades in real time. I must agree with your dad, Willa, that we are proud of our young folk going out into the world, expanding their horizons, and hopefully helping to heal and restore the planet.Have fun!!Beth G on Chilean MusingsI figured out how to follow your wonderful journey. I'm looking forward to your posts.Watt Childress on Chilean MusingsDear Willa,Your mom and sister and I watched “Bear Story” last night. If not for you, this amazing work of art would have gone unnoticed amid our routine screenings. From the other end of the hemisphere you bring fresh perspective to our world.It was hard for my family when I left home to attend college, many miles away. I didn’t realize how hard until it happened to me as a parent. At first I felt like I had lost one of my limbs, thinking you were still there beside me, invisible yet present. Over time that sense of loss was replaced by the knowledge that the tribe had expanded our range.Being in Chile, you magnify that understanding. As I watch “Bear Story” it is bewildering to imagine life if one of us were to disappear entirely, as has happened in so many families south of the U.S. border. The artists at Punkrobot Studios convey that reality in a way that honors the magic of Latin America.I pray for that magic to grow as we flash back and forth across the continents. What can we learn, comparing cultures on our screens? Here in the States we’re subjected to a political choice between street-smart meanness and manicured deception. The mainstream media hammers Trump for his raw appeal to racists. They spotlight his Republican challengers, yet barely cover Democrats -- especially the candidate (Sanders) with the longest track-record fighting for economic equality.Meanwhile, Hollywood commissions an alpha black comedian to ritually whip itself over a lack of melanin. In years to come, perhaps the film industry will hire legions of nonwhite actors to tell the story of how a Goldwater-turned-Goldman-Sachs girl beat a lifelong advocate for social justice in the 2016 Democratic primary. If Spike Lee produces and directs that movie, it might win an Oscar for Best Picture.Who knows what the future holds if Clinton and Trump face off in the general election? Either way, it would behoove all U.S. citizens to watch “Bear Story.”Tell new friends that we named you Willa because we are fans of Willa Cather and we just like the sound of it. I'm voting for you and all the amazing sola venturers who are figuring out what life means.Please extend our gratitude and solidarity to your host family.Love!DadWatt Childress on Missing W.S. Merwin and ValhallaThere are holes in human culture that we try to patch with words. I imagine W.S. Merwin leading this effort while tending his palm forest atop a dormant Hawaiian volcano. Nearing 90, he has achieved a long life in paradise. When I visited him in my mind just now he was musing aloud about the restorative relationship between poetry and poi.Or maybe that wasn’t Merwin. It could have been the shape-shifter Loki. Either persona might step inside one’s head after sipping your mystic concoction of verse. Thanks for filling our flagons, Vinny Ferrau!Many rock star bards have toasted the majestic hall where Odin assembles battle-slain heroes. Valhalla has been heralded enough times for the word to now connote any vaunted place of honor and glory. Earlier today I learned something while roaming the old Norse quarters of Wikipedia. Only half the heroes go to Valhalla. The other half go to Folkvangr, a rural haven hosted by Freyja. One source I read suggests she gets first choice.What connotations should Folkvangr conjure for wordsmiths? Holes need patching in our cultural struggle to keep and share wisdom.Gregory Zschomler on The Church of Comedy: Adam Sandler and FriendsRick, you remind us that God is everywhere if we only look. And even when we don't He is very present.Watt Childress on Lunch with DavidDavid Bowie's death hit me much harder than I want to admit, given his status as a global pop star. When I first learned of his passing I felt like I'd been hit with the sudden loss of a close family friend.He was a prophet of creative spirit, an explorer of the open aesthetic frontier. With a light that bright I figured he would be innovating for decades to come. His exit from the stage reminds us that life is precious. Heaven help all to create whatever good we can while we're here.Watt Childress on AmenAmen, indeed! To commune with greater being we must express our grief in earnest. Niceties are superficial when they stifle lamentation.Watt Childress on The Church of Comedy: Adam Sandler and FriendsMister Bonn. The Rickmeister. Posting good words. Gospelrama Lama -- holy man of Hollywood.Folks should give up artistic and religious snobbery for Lent. As you communicate so well, it’s cool to witness God from the couch of pop culture. Thank you dude for reviving my memory of some bad boy comics who cut their chops on the absurdist stage of 90s SNL.Interesting tidbit: Sandler and Schneider are rumored to be Republicans. Methinks it would be awesome if they would collaborate on a faith-based film that parodies the politics of current candidates for President. How about some righteously silly satire? It could be a sequel to “Little Nicky,” wherein the title character gets caught up in a battle between the forces of Good and Evil, ultimately restoring cosmic balance to Washington.I would pay hard-earned bookshop cash to see such a movie, especially if it’s produced with a mega quirky dose of Millennial swagger. Maybe the Von Trapps would agree to do the soundtrack. Jennifer and I saw them at the Sand Trap Pub. Destined for deep goodness, them youngsters!Rick Bonn on LeapThis is beautiful. And amazing. And freshly spun, which is, perhaps, more important than the other two.Vinny Ferrau on ODF and Boise Cascade Agree: Clearcut is “sustainable forestry”Thank you Gwendolyn for your Deep Commitment, Passionate Resistance, and Artistry. I would luv to get together one day, and explore the avenues of heart-centered relationships with ALL of Nature, and how we best might heal the rift of consciousness between the the "bottom line" mindset, and the expansive, interconnected heart. BlessingsVinny Ferrau on Primal FriendshipsThey, (meaning the wee little ones) not far from Source, remind us, that's all we have. This Present Moment. It's all we can be certain of. How we live it, spend the precious currency we call time, determines our lives, one sacred breath at a time... Thank you Carol for the wonderful reflection and sharing.Jennifer Childress on Final Plea to Save the Homesteader ForestThank you Gwendolyn for continuing to speak for the forest. And I'm glad to know that we can still make our voices heard. I hope that something will stir the hearts of those making these decisions.Rabbi Bob on Final Plea to Save the Homesteader ForestYes, Gwendolyn, we are also addicted to the idea of destroying our forests for its wood products and money. We are addicted to logging, at least here on the rural Oregon coast.And it strikes me that the very officials trusted to maintain our forests are those we're appealing to not to cut them down. Something has gone very wrong. I think you have the solution, as least part of it, in setting up your own forest, and making sure it doesn't get cut down. I think we need to do more of this, individually, and in small groups. Government has turned out not to be the answer on this one.Rabbi Bob on AddictedThanks, Sue, for joining the conversation. Good point about the local beef vs. tropical plant products. Robin, got a comeback?I kind of think that Taibbe has it right. If we tune out a bit more, maybe we could live our lives a little more like you describe, Sue, in your last paragraph. Let's all do what we can to make life better, at least around here. I predict that the future will be quite different than we think it will. I'm pretty optimistic about our kids. And like Tevan said in an article about upcoming elections, the old guard does eventually die.Peace to you and to all a good night.Rabbi Bob on AddictedI was directed to a great article by Matt Taibbe by a friend today, and it says we're addicted not only to commercial activity, but in a deep way, to fear. Give this one a read, Watt (at www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/this-christmas-tune-it-all-out-20151223). I think it's quite brilliant. Taibbe's perspective changed when he had a kid, and I think they are our true salvation. In their innocence, they aren't yet addicted to fear.sues on AddictedInteresting comments. Thanks, everyone!Sugar production in fact, does require the destruction of massive swaths of land in the tropics and subtropics. And it has to do with the continued use of slave labor to harvest and manufacture. So, the creation of the refined product, packaging, transporting, and use of sugar is very much associated with accelerated climate change. It could be argued that eating meat from animals who are born and raised and slaughtered here, and fed pasture and perhaps some grain from east of the Cascades, have a considerably smaller "carbon footprint" than soy products, or coconut oil, almond milk, rice milk, or manufactured B12, to name just a few examples, that are often highly processed, and must be transported from many hundreds of miles away.I have to agree with Bob that there while there is always hope, and perhaps even divine intervention, the "climate talks" which need, indeed, MUST be, an examination of the cold, hard, fact that we can not continue living in the manner to which we have become accustomed, fostered more skepticism and continued Cornucopianism, than any concrete way to action. .And that, in my opinion, informed by Monbiot, Englehardt, and a bunch of other writers I can't remember the names of, is exactly what the "climate talks" were meant to do. We Feel Better because someone is "doing something", while we ALL continue to live in a world completely dictated by the overuse of fossil fuel.It's not "negative" or "being cynical" to believe that humans may be no more capable of changing their behavior than wolves, moose, monkeys, and other animals, who we have much more in common with than we are often led to believe. And it's not to say that this is because other species are "less intelligent" than us. It seems like more an epigenetic imperative, a "fatal flaw", if you will. We humans likely will gobble up the resources available to us, with the willing help of our corrupt governments and corporations, and then whoever remains will have to figure out what to do in the ensuing privation. On a global scale, now, most unfortunately.I attempt to share the enthusiasm of Naomi Klein, even as I am disappointed with her cheerleader-style approach in regards to what humans can do to slow down climate change .Bill McKibben has been pretty much completely zombified by government and corporate interests. And Derrick Jensen reminds me of Proust, talking apocalypse, whilst eating madelines and living at his moms house..For me, I reckon I intend to live as joyfully as possible, doing work I love, and endeavoring to help save as many trees and help as many families as I can. And to remember that Mother Nature always bats last, and that the destruction wrought by humans is just a blip on the geologic radar, soon to be stopped dead in its tracks by just a few volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, a couple big earthquakes. That ought to do it..God Bless Us, Every One..Sue S .Watt Childress on AddictedI thought of this post again when I watched an interview with literary virtuoso David Foster Wallace. He pointed out that the Latin root of the word “addiction” means “religious devotion.” Wallace links America’s moral backslide with commercial addiction -- the idea that life’s central purpose is to gratify individual desires through our total immersion in the consumer economy.This is a poignant reflection at Christmas, when people are bombarded with themes of evangelical tradition and zealous shopping chores. It’s illuminating to consider how these themes are fused together by churchy public figures who are devoted to the de-regulation of commerce.Case in point: last week Congress stuck a foul rider in their Christmas spending bill that removes a forty-year ban on exporting America’s crude oil. Republicans led this maneuver, and Democrats complied, fearing their own spending priorities would be ditched if they didn’t.Just because Satan plays a killer Santa doesn’t mean progressives should stand in line to sit on his lap. What we need is a blend of transcendent spirit and sober reason. In synch with the season’s higher ideals, I offer a couple of prayers.First, I ask God to help our nation’s leaders put creation’s care above profits for fossil fuel cronies. When pitching to the populace, right-wingers often claim concern for energy costs and national security. Yet their true motives are on display when they open up America's dwindling oil reserves to the global market.Second, I ask God to help climate leaders honestly critique a movement’s progress without dashing the hopes of participants. Perhaps our chances of avoiding mass extinction don’t improve much by simply rejecting the XL Pipeline, or passing the Paris climate deal. Yet it took a lot of political work to make these things happen. We need to recognize incremental gains and build on them.Thanks again Bob for giving your voice to this effort!Rabbi Bob on AddictedThanks Robin, both for the comment, and for joining us at the Upper Left Edge. I suggest you write a post about meat and resources and submit it for posting on our site. The topic deserves more space than a comment.When I first read your comment, I was eating breakfast, and I'm glad to say, it was vegan – muesli with various add-on plant products. I had a phase of going vegetarian, when I was at Brookhaven National Lab. Learned a lot about food then. I do eat meat these days, but rarely beef.Yes, I believe that we each can do something to make a better world, and we can join together to make an even bigger difference. My point in the post is that we can't necessarily leave it up to governments and their partners, the corporations.Robin on AddictedYou know, Bob, the sugar comment doesn't have anything at all to do with climate change. But there is another food item that does, and its mention was sorely missing in Paris these past couple of weeks: animal agriculture. Yes, that is another addiction, one that plays a huge role in anthropogenic climate change, as much as the world's transportation sector, or more.I want to tell you there IS something you and everyone can do, every day, three times a day, about climate change. Eat less meat and fewer animal products. Animal agriculture is a huge emitter of GHGs, including methane and CO2 and nitrous oxide. Please consider rainforests being cut down to make room for grain crops (to feed livestock) and pastureland for grazing. Please consider water usage (it takes 616 gallons of water to produce one 1/4 pound burger patty). Please consider loss of biodiversity (wolves hunted down to protect livestock, as well as loss of species due to rainforest destruction). Please consider world hunger (it takes 16 times more grain to produce beef than it does to produce crops to feed people directly). Thanks for listening, and considering.Carol Vanderford on I WonderedThank you Watt for your "Michael Burgess-ness" kind of encouragement, and for providing a heart-warming and stimulating gathering place for a writing community of many hues. I feel welcomed; blessings to you!Rabbi Bob on AddictedThanks for playing Bob Cratchett to my Scrooge, Brother Watt. Perhaps I will be redeemed from my cynicism this holiday season...To be sure, the high priests of the climate movement – Bill McKibben, George Monbiot, James Hansen and others – all roundly poo-pooed the agreement, some in elegant words, and others not so much. Thousands marched in Paris as the agreement was being released to show their disdain at the process and the result, and the French government for not letting them march before the conference opened. And if it comes up for a treaty vote in the Senate anytime soon, it will be vetoed.But do I have hope? Of course I do. Even if one of the buffoons running for president on the GOP side gets into office, there's still a lot that can be done to avert catastrophic climate change by us regular folks, and even by big business.It's really hard to beat a powerful addiction like fossil fuels, or sugar, or cheap stuff. But as evidenced by you, Brother Watt, and so many others I've known, it is possible. It won't be pretty, and it will take a long time and a lot of work, but we can do it.The first step is realizing we're addicted. After finishing the 12 steps, we should be good.I have faith that we can do it. Yes, We Can Can. (I tried to link to a Pointer Sisters video of this song, but WordPress thought it was spam, so please, readers, look this up. Classic!)The miracle of life never ceases to impress me. Happy Holidays, Brother Watt, to you and yours, and to all, a good night (and the great new year)!Watt Childress on AddictedEvery who’s who in the climate movement hopes to build on the deal made in Paris. Some like it a lot. But the contrarian looking down from his hill in Astoria – apparently, he does not.So soon after Hanukkah, and already your faith in miracles is flickering? Do we celebrate this season just to stuff our pie-holes?Perhaps we should remind ourselves of this post every time we eat together. Our non-indulgence in sweets can ritually compliment our weaning from fossil fuels. Baby steps are good. It would be cool if more people switched from high fructose corn syrup to pure cane sugar. But it’s also possible to quit both. I did, ten years ago. Others can too.The Paris climate accord is a global step in the right direction. It sets the stage for us to change the way we measure economic health, shed our dependence on depletion and pollution. I’m hearing more talk of this change in the news, partly driven by what happened in Paris. More mainstream folks are expressing interest in reducing carbon footprints.Faith fosters good acts, Brother Bob. We should kindle whatever hope we have, keep the flame burning. And even when all our mitzvahs fall short of the mark, miracles do happen.The holidays can bring warmth and light during dark times. Blessings to you and your family!Watt Childress on Big SeedsTrue words, well spoken. Yes indeed.Watt Childress on I WonderedThis poem is perfectly made for dark times when we are reminded of the crucial human need to empathize with others. Trauma can make anyone feel small and incapable of handling life's big challenges. Wonder is an amazing equalizer.Bless you, Carol, for sharing your writing here!Watt Childress on Spirit of the WindsThank you for your beautiful words, Gwendolyn. This evening after sunset I walked along the stormy oceanfront while looking out at the dusky presence of Haystack Rock. The winds were galloping around me, just the right amount to invigorate without making me feel like I needed another layer of clothing on. What a gift!Watt Childress on Critics Join Meteor in Missing The Good DinosaurI haven't seen Spectre either. In fact I can't remember the last James Bond movie that I watched. My interest in the studly Brit action-hero started to wane after "Live and Let Die." (Fun factoid: when I was a lad, during a family trip to New Orleans for a funeral directors' convention, I danced on the sidewalk with the same jazz-funeral band that's featured in the beginning of that film.)Jennifer and I recently rented "The End of the Tour" from Nehalem Bay Video. She loved it as much as I did, even though she's never read anything by David Foster Wallace. I would be very excited about watching a new James Bond flick if it were suddenly discovered that Wallace had written a secret script. Peace be upon him.And peace be upon all of us, living and dead. May we humans learn to be less violent during this and every holy season.Rick Bonn on Critics Join Meteor in Missing The Good DinosaurI haven't read it, Watt. I don't think I could now. And, no, there are no kids featured in the film, but because of the type of family the lead character had it made me think of my own childhood with similar in-laws. The other 'kid' comment was in relation to the Good Dinosaur and other great kid-centric films. Happy Holidays to you and your family! Any movie you're excited about? I still haven't seen Spectre!Watt Childress on Tres HaikuI love your poems, Vinny. Here's a ditty from a dude named Basho, who's probably the patriarch of haiku.Autumn moonlight-a worm digs silentlyinto the chestnut.Did Basho say to himself, while chewing on his brush - "that's just perfect, but crap, the first two lines don't follow the 5-7-5 rules?"No doubt the rules apply differently in Japanese than they do in English, but it shouldn't matter much. Digging carefully, the silent worm need not fuss over sound units.Vinny Ferrau on Tres HaikuOk, so the first one isn't a Haiku, it's got 6 syllables in the 2nd line....I can't even follow simple directions 😉 Lets call it a "Myku" and go get some soup....EnjoyWatt Childress on Critics Join Meteor in Missing The Good DinosaurGreat idea for a film class!Have you read Kesey's novel? It's in a whole different league than the movie, though Newman gave it an earnest shot. Both are dark, yes -- the book is even more so.Now that I think about it, there aren't many children in it. In fact I can't think of any, except troubling flashbacks to youth for adults in troubling situations. But it's an excellent read, if you get the chance.RedSpiralHand on Dawn’s dictionary of local-isms and geek speakHere's another one.Frenemies: Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and BEWARE of your FRENEMIES!!!Rick Bonn on Critics Join Meteor in Missing The Good DinosaurThanks for your comment, Watt! That might be an interesting film class for Tolovana Arts Colony: watching kids films and using that as an exercise to write and/or talk about our own childhood natures and how adulthood has changed them.PS I finally watched the film 'Sometimes a Great Notion.' Makes me want to buy that Matt Love book in your store window. Can't wait to talk with you about it. But, oy vey, what a depressing writer! He could very well be the antithesis of narrative art for me!Watt Childress on Critics Join Meteor in Missing The Good DinosaurGood work, Rick. This post make me miss the days when my family frequented children’s movies. Watching films in the company of fresh sensitive viewers can be a profound experience.We’re all children, of course, though most of us forget over time. Buried beneath layers of critical adult thinking is a memory-center of childlike consciousness. Art can take us to that center if we’re willing to embrace a greater context.Watt Childress on Open Letter to the Cannon Beach Fire DepartmentWell said, Tracy! Thank you for penning this letter and posting it here for the public.Your call for civility is needed in Cannon Beach. There is a pattern of hard endings to relationships between local volunteer boards and staff. This dynamic calls to mind something my friend Michael Burgess said during a promotional interview for his book "Uncle Mike's Guide to the Real Oregon Coast." When describing north coast residents, the sagacious CB writer adopted a tone similar to that of a teacher commenting on the behavior of certain students."They're not like the other children," Mike observed.He was being witty, in keeping with the spirit of his satirical guidebook. Yet Mike's humor still points to a challenging truth -- we have a hard time playing in groups.csmith on Women Talk ForestThis is emblematic of the ongoing state forest management issue.The interest from the conservation community is in the unique characteristics of the Homesteader stand. Ms. Dent notes that "we have designated 30% of the forest to achieve older and layered forest conditions." But, this stand is already older/layered/complex. Why, if you are trying to get 30% of a burned and logged forest to be old/layered, would you cut down one of the rarest parcels that is already in the condition that you want it to be? I think the easiest answer to this question is: money.The stand is well over 100 years old. There are cohorts of trees between 115-125 years-old. When Ms. Dent says, "this area has been designated for a young age class," she is referring to the future plan for that area, not the current condition. So, ODF plans for this particular spot on the map to be clearcut, regrown as a tree farm (essentially), clearcut again, etc. etc...ODF has already built a new road into the sale (see the picture) and does seem intent on proceeding. However, whether these trees are eventually cut or not, fighting for them is valuable for the entirety of the forest in the broader picture.To reiterate, ODF is following a management plan set by the Board of Forestry. However, they have enough flexibility within that plan to hold off a disastrous sale such as Homesteader. The biggest issue of course, is that the management paradigm needs to change to account for the unique value that this type of forest provides.Watt Childress on Legacy of a playful local resistanceYes! Thank you neighbor. This is a spiffy design for a secret door between the kite store and bookshop. We'll need to shrink down folks who want to go through it. Let's offer a package deal to tourists: show them the secret door, shrink them down so they can wander back and forth, then offer them little grab bags full of tiny kites and books. Plus wee packets of sand. All for a pittance, of course. Think of it -- when people become smaller, they can marvel at the narrow strip of bamboo between our shops. It will look like an old growth forest to them!Billowy blue curtains would be great on the kite store side of the passage. On the bookshop side, I envision a beaded curtain like the one going into Greg Brady's room.Watt Childress on Legacy of a playful local resistanceI imagine when John passed by he was equally impressed by your tandem recumbent bike with toddler-trailer in tow. You are a good person to speak about creative vehicles!We look forward to seeing you and your family in the village again soon. A big empty space needs re-filling with playful resistance.WindFisher on Legacy of a playful local resistanceI'm thinking something along these lines. Maybe with blue curtains instead?Vinny Ferrau on Back to the HomesteadLove this Vision, Honor this Vision, Support this Vision.... Months on the road and the thought of your carrots still makes me smile.!!!!! Shared this story just a day ago. I was having a ruff day, pretty high up on the ruff scale. i was quiet n moody, and than i arrived at the farmers market in Manzanita. I couldn't hold it back, who would want to... your carrots made me smirk, eggplant, a little giddy, tomatoes and arugula, flat out bloody ecstatic. Yes, they are visually beautiful, and i swear you are in league with hobbits, but it is the energy i feel behind them, infused, inseperable within them. Love. Thank you Ginger for the love you coax, the community you co-create, and the dust, dirt n paint chips you're willing to bear...Vinny Ferrau on A View From the First PeopleNames and words have power, so the choosing of them is deep and reverent. This story is medicine Roberta, the words touch my face, like the wind and rain we love....thank youVinny Ferrau on Cover CropsI love this Travis, bound in everyday and Light, with a hint of despair. The whole of the poem reads like a sip of wine, cherished, swished, arriving. Fragrant, with a bitter, blossoming note... Sometimes Tricksters take us Home, and it's always a sacred journey.Vinny Ferrau on November FloodBeautiful, sensual saga Nancy, i'm all fins how it plays out.....Watt Childress on November FloodReaders should spend some time with "Oregon Pacific." Exceptional poems are gathered there, including one I deeply enjoyed titled "Cold Snap." Nancy Slavin will read with poet Wendy Willis at Three Arch Inn in Oceanside, Sunday, November 15 at 3 p.m.Watt Childress on The Seeds of the Stormy Weather Arts FestivalLooks like Frank and I will meet up at Jupiter's Books tomorrow at 4 pm for conversation, poetry, and a cave-man saxophone ritual to open Stormy Weather weekend. Come join us. I'll give a free copy of Frank's book of Beat poems to the first person who shows up and mentions this comment.Watt Childress on The Seeds of the Stormy Weather Arts FestivalWhat's the ideal relationship between art and commerce? How do the hearts that beat for our community stay connected with the brains that direct our tourist economy?Frank is right to recognize Fort George Brewery. The company does a good a job of integrating youthful public ethos with profitability. I'm also a fan of Bill's Tavern and Warren House Pub (where they serve the best craft root beer in the world).It’s a long-term challenge here at the coast -- balancing cash-flow with creativity and conscience. Yesterday I happened upon a pertinent piece of writing by Evie Alburas in a print edition of the Upper Left Edge (Nov. 2001). The following passage is an excellent companion to Lisa’s comment."The Stormy Weather Arts Festival is, in essence, a wonderful thing that supports local artists. They're able to share their work with neighbors and anyone else who loves art and in the most romantic way it can be perceived as a buttoning down for winter. The Festival takes place in November, when the nights are longer, the weather's turning lousy and people are spending more time inside. So, after the splendor of summer, artists are forced inside and have more time to express themselves in ways they know best. They create art while passing a stormy and boring Tuesday night. However, the festival is hugely commercial and is designed as much to bring in tourists as to display our local talent."Here's a photo of the Red Snapper sharing a talent at the Beachnik Cafe. Word has it Red will visit Cannon Beach on Friday, Nov. 6th, during the opening of Stormy Weather. Maybe he'll stop by Jupiter's Books in the afternoon. Maybe I'll bring the sax to work. Maybe we'll help summon the muse, re-seed the weekend with a little grassroots livelihood.Rabbi Bob on The Seeds of the Stormy Weather Arts FestivalWell the weather is certainly getting us all ready for this year's festival!Frank Milan on The Seeds of the Stormy Weather Arts FestivalAnnual events like the Stormy Weather Arts Festival usually have a life of their own, and change over time. It is common that the commercial aspect becomes more dominant, and then if the event becomes somewhat static, someone takes the initiative to bring in something new. Bringing in a new activity in partnership with an existing event is a resourceful way to not have to do all the promotion!With the opening of two new brewpubs in Cannon Beach in the next year, this will be an opportunity to expand the festival's involvement in social culture and invigorate the younger crowd. How and what? This is a good question. Fort George Brewery in Astoria has done this very successfully.I also want to thank Watt Childress for bringing back the Upper Left Edge as a media for thoughtful viewpoints on coastal life, and Lisa Kerr for - snap, snap - the Beachnik Cafe last February. Encore!sweetleo on The Seeds of the Stormy Weather Arts FestivalI feel like Stormy Weather has become more of a commercial venture than a grass roots community arts celebration--but that's just my two cents. i would love to see more community based activities like the Beachnik Cafe that I put together with Tolovana Arts Colony. The idea was to re-create the smoky (sans smoke) poet cafes of the Greenwich Village of my youth and I felt like, thanks to the help of Watt and Mark and the Cannon Beach Arts Association--we came close to recreating the open feeling and creative energy of that time. i long for more of that!Lisa KerrWatt Childress on The Seeds of the Stormy Weather Arts FestivalThank you Frank for sharing this glimpse into the genesis of a wonderful fall festival. You first mentioned this story to me last February at the Beachnik Café, a kick-off event coordinated by Lisa Kerr on behalf of the Tolovana Arts Colony*. It would be cool if that poetry event were to become an annual arts happening, similar to Stormy Weather. If so, your coastal Beat poems a la “Red Snapper” will have played a formative role in launching another local tradition.Successful events are often started by folks who are overlooked when things get rolling. Reflecting on those beginnings isn’t just a way of giving credit where credit is due. It invites us to pay closer attention to endeavors that are now being seeded. It spotlights the civic value of the creative process.* Hats off to the TAC board members who helped with the first Beachnik Cafe, and the people who read at the event, and Mark Mizell for conducting his Beat workshop. Also big thanks to the Cannon Beach Arts Association for providing their beautiful gallery space.Margaret Hammitt-McDonald on Legacy of a playful local resistanceThank you, Watt, for this beautiful tribute to John. My first encounter with him was with one of his fantastic car-cum-art-projects. i was riding home one night and in my rear view handlebar mirror, I saw a ton of pink flamingoes sticking up from a car's hood. I nearly rode off the road when I turned around to watch the car pass. I didn't think I'd see that unique car again--I thought it belonged to a tourist--but I was thrilled to see it parked near the kite store a few weeks later. Since then, I've enjoyed seeing John's latest project tooling around town.John, may pink flamingoes always accompany you in a playful, raucous, and always genuine flock!Margaret Hammitt-McDonald on A View From the First PeopleThank you, Roberta, for this exquisite and ecstatic celebration of this beautiful land. I'm honored and inspired to read your words!Rick Bonn on Crossing the BridgeMerci beacoup, Rabbi Bob. I'm sure you would have a hearty inner dialogue with this film were you to see it. I won't write about this, but it's an interesting companion piece to STEVE JOBS, which I saw last night. Two different worlds. And yet both telling us something about greatness. Or what's worthy of giving one's life for. I was interested by Jobs, but I'm haunted by Bridge and may go back to see it again.Rabbi Bob on Crossing the BridgeAnd question not only who we are, but our leaders, the book, honor, why our enemies are such, and the very concept of America. That is also our job. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I hope Spielberg got that in there also. That said, I must say, Rick, that was an amazing "review". Your writing keeps improving, and that was just for the opening shot! Great job!vicky on A View From the First PeopleThank you Roberta Basch for your inspiring words. Swalalahoost shares its gifts with all, welcomes all, and continues to bless our lives for centuries. Thank you Roberta. I feel truly blessed by your writing.Lianne Thompson on Life in the Upper Left EdgeMy dear friend, Linda, you are discerning and quick-silver to evolve to a newer and better reality. I'm delighted you've linked up with Watt's clan of writers. Welcome.Linda on Life in the Upper Left EdgeYour writing is extraordinary. I hope to read more. I can picture your beautiful place and it's close connection to nature and what I CALL heaven. I could not help but think of Jackson Browne's song, "life in the Balance". As a society, we are teetering on the balance. I spend more time alone now....in nature but I make damned sure I am part of a good day for all who I encounter rather than the negative energy. I believe YOU have found that place too. Thank you for pointing us in this "nourishing" publicationMichael Manzulli on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachTonight at 5:30 pm Ecola Creek Watershed Council and the Surfrider Foundation will be having a brief discussion regarding water quality and the sewage spill with the Cannon Beach City Councilors at their work session. The public is welcome to attend. City hall is located at 163 E. Gower Street.Angi Wildt on The Gravity of Choosing Our Experience in RelationshipsHello Vinny, I love the water analogy too! I make lots of references to boats and water in life. "The water we swim in and the water that drowns us," poetic and true.I remember thinking years ago that I was moving forward when I made NEW mistakes! It was practically a circumstance worth toasting. I have learned something from every relationship regardless of the nature. We see ourselves reflected through other people and that is another interesting way of exploration. It is interesting to ask, especially when a relationship isn't working what it is that we are gaining. There must be some attraction to it, something to learn or experience. Sometimes I think we may be or have been attracted to the devil we know how to navigate over the extremely wonderful people who are fresh new baffling territory.Thank you for taking the time and sharing your thoughts.Angi Wildt on The Gravity of Choosing Our Experience in RelationshipsThank you! I'm not certain of the actual statistics for this. I've heard that if you add physical, sexual and critical abuse along with neglect, it's about 80%. I believe that is probably true for men as well as women. There are difficult women as well as men in life, so though we were talking about men, it isn't gender specific.We need to consider that there aren't a high percentage of people who will light our fire on a deep level and sometimes it only happens for one and not the other, which is frustrating. We can't get too caught up in trying to make the other person get it when they don't feel it. I personally love when women friends have said, he just isn't there yet. He hasn't learned to appreciate. That is probably the most damaging advice one could give another. If the connection isn't there, thank God! someone is being honest. Too many people get together and one doesn't feel it and then there is forever this emptiness, unfulfilled longing. I'd rather know.Your analogy of spokes on a wheel is wonderful. Truly a broken spoke will weaken the wheel, disturb the ride if one can even still make a journey. All of our focus goes to that broken spot and the need to stop and repair it before we go on. It takes all of our focus and energy even though we have these perfectly strong spokes. If we get rid of the broken one, we make way for another strong spoke. If we try to function using the broken one, it will eventually break the rest of the spokes, which is what you said. I love that analogy.As far as our broken-ness, we probably all have something that we guard, work on or struggle to understand about ourselves, to understand about our experience. Realizing our impact on other humans is important. Even if we are broken, we have the choice to be graceful in the world. Sometimes we falter. I say we, I know I have. Self reflection is the key to growth, to moving beyond a state where we are oblivious. We have probably all encountered the person who is a wrecking ball of destruction while viewing themselves as a victim.Interesting about the stats of men and women reading in the different categories. Do you think any of that has to do with demands of jobs or life choices? I'm not being sexist, but curious if opportunity plays a role? It might have something to do with how children are raised and what parents think are important based on gender. This in itself is another interesting discussion.Thank you for the opportunity to be having this conversation here. I'm looking forward to reading everyone else!Vinny Ferrau on The Gravity of Choosing Our Experience in Relationships"Relationship" is such a powerful word. One of my favorites because we are constantly in it. It is the water we swim in, and we are aquatic. It can also be the water which drowns us. So yes, awareness, consciousness of the relationships we forge, intend, bring into our fields, is so important. I believe everything holds within it the seeds of knowledge or wisdom. All experiences. There are some we are happy to repeat, and those we are grateful to leave behind. All of them offer lessons and potential growth. It's up to us to decipher their meaning. Osho once said, "Make all the mistakes you want, but make them once." A feat i can't say i've mastered, but i continue and remain hopeful. Thank you for this piece Angi, and honoring the power of consciousness and choice.Vinny Ferrau on crows in a wheat field (for Vincent)Wow, 2 Watts!!! 🙂 Thank you brother for your profound words, support and encouragement, you've been a true friend and i am grateful for who you are and what you do. Watt, welcome the the Upper Left Edge, would love to hear more of your piece. This is a great place to share, inspire, ponder, retort, all that fun stuff. Community in Communication is a wonderful thing...Watt deFalk on crows in a wheat field (for Vincent)"Where Black is the color, where None is the number." — Despair, loss, and want. I agree, experiencing art is a haven and creating it is a medicine. (My first post!) Part of a longer piece on mental health care:You've got to want...to feel better, you're told you have to want,as you're put down by their admission,brought into some Other conditionwhere you want,as you will knowwhen you come to assume the position.Watt Childress on I saw a terrible crashWow. This poem re-opens my senses to that fresh clean awareness of new experience.Many perceptions get grimy with years of driving through life. Over the long-haul it becomes habitual to compare passing scenes with memories of things I’ve seen before. Such cross-referencing offers insights, yet it can also keep me from feeling the raw impact of what’s happening in the moment.Thank you Tristan for this stunning reminder!Watt Childress on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachThis post and thread of comments models the kind of conversation we aim to cultivate here at the Edge. Many thanks to Mike Manzulli for leading the discussion. He also notified the Cannon Beach Gazette and was responsible for prompting coverage of this issue in the local press. I’m equally grateful to others who have weighed in here, including Dan Grassick, director of public works for the City of Cannon Beach.The sewage spill spotlights a choice for our community. Will Cannon Beach uphold its reputation as a natural treasure, a place where leaders go beyond the status quo to protect the environment? Or do we want to simply do what is necessary to keep from getting into trouble with state and federal regulators?There is a difference of opinion as to how much of the brown material in the spill area after the clean-up was algae and how much was fecal matter. But one thing is certain: both Enterococcus and E-coli levels were high after the clean-up. Why not continue testing for both? I’m told the City tested for Enterococcus up until July of this year. Continued testing for both bacteria would provide us with more complete information about public health at this highly-visited beach.Concerns have also circulated regarding the location and protocol for disposing of the sewage-contaminated sand. We need to be certain that clean-up of one area does not result in potential health hazards elsewhere.Surely everyone can agree that damage control is not the same thing as problem solving. I’m grateful for what has been done by public works to reduce the chances of another spill happening due to dysfunctional or inadequate equipment. Yet repeated problems over the years at this location point to the need for greater public scrutiny. It would be a big step forward in addressing recurrent concerns if the City would enter an agreement with Surfrider Foundation to continue monitoring.Apparently the State of Oregon has sufficient trust in Surfrider to rely on the civic support of its volunteers when resources are stretched thin. Cannon Beach would be wise to develop a similar working relationship with Surfrider. As chairman of the local watershed council, Mike Manzulli is in a position to foster that relationship. Hopefully someone will step up on behalf of the City to do likewise.Watt Childress on The Gravity of Choosing Our Experience in RelationshipsBravo, Angi! Relationships are key to every challenge in life. It takes good relationships to solve civic problems, forge business deals, have fun socially, and build healthy fulfilling lives at home.Are 80% of men really as troublesome in relationships as your friend alleges? That’s an interesting number. Many times I’ve heard a statistic quoted that 80% of the people who read fiction are women. If that’s true, it means only 20% are men. Maybe people who love books have some advantage in navigating relationships. As an avid reader and bookseller, I like to think so.Perhaps it was a book that first prompted me to think of each individual person as the hub in a wheel, with our relationships like spokes radiating outward toward people, places, and other parts of the world. When our relationships are good, we are able to move forward with our lives. What you point out is that sometimes a particular spoke may be broken beyond repair, at least for a given time. If that happens, it can take a toll on all our other relationships.When do we know we’ve reached that point of broken-ness? How do we keep trying, up until then? It does help to share stories -- through conversation, books, and whatever other means we have of doing so. Fiction gives us the freedom to turn the wheels of our imagination in many directions, to investigate what might happen under varied circumstances. Of course, non-fiction helps too. Men tend to prefer non-fiction, yet women take the lead on that front as well (reading 60% of all non-fiction).Whatever the truth, I'm grateful to be exploring it here with you. I enjoyed our first chat in the bookshop, when you sold me a great batch of gently-used metaphysical books. Glad we’re continuing the conversation here. Good words help expand and strengthen the circle!Dgrassick on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachBob: Here is an event summary that has been sent to various parties from the week of 20 July as the event progressed. I also provided similar information to the local press on Tuesday 22 July with daily updates throughout the week and into Monday the following week. DanGWhat follows is what is actually factually known about the Pacific Street sewage lift station failure and subsequent sewage spill onto the beach at the Gower St outfall at Cannon Beach:- On 20 July at approximately 0530 hours the internal power supply to the Pacific Pump station computer controller failed causing the lift station to go off-line and discharge sewage onto the beach via the Gower Street storm drain outfall.- Approximately 11,000 gallons of sewage discharged onto the beach before staff discovered the spill at 0730 hours and switched the lift station into bypass mode stopping the spill.- City crews immediately cordoned off the affected spill area with barricades and cones and stationed individuals at the beach entrance to warn people to avoid the contaminated area.- The City’s heavy equipment contractor was dispatched with a track hoe and two dump trucks to assist with sand cleanup actions along with the City’s own road grader.- Contaminated sand was graded into long rows, picked up by the track hoe, deposited in the trucks and removed from the beach - approximately 3 to 4 inches in depth was removed over the contaminated area. Cleanup was completed at approximately 1300 hours.- The site was regraded to reform the natural storm water channel across the beach from approximately 50 yards beyond the outfall to the end of the contamination area that was well above the high tide line (the spill nor the storm water flowed out to the surf area)- At this point the determination was made that with the clean-up actions and the warning signs deployed, and the fact that the contamination had not reached the surf nor had it or the storm water been close to the high tide line, that the beach did not warrant a closure notice - rather a notice of contamination was posted on the barricades along with a warning to avoid contact with the stormwater.- Wastewater staff began sampling immediately for E-Coli - the fresh water test standard for Oregon State Bacteria Criteria.- Warning signs were deployed at the outfall along with caution tape and at approximately 25 to 40 yard intervals along the stormwater flow channel along the area of contamination - Additional barricades and signs were deployed on Tuesday at 1300 hours at Mr Manzulli’s request to the City Manager.- Those signs will remain in place until City staff test results show definitively that E-Coli values are below the threshold value of concern and continue to trend downward - staff estimates the signs will be removed Friday afternoon 24 July.- The spill was communicated to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Monday morning by wastewater treatment staff as soon as they determined the cause and resolution of the operational issue with the the City's contract electrician.- The spill and City response was also communicated to the Ecola Creek Watershed Council at their bi-monthly meeting on Monday evening 20 July held at Cannon Beach City Hall.- Detailed information was provided to the City Council on Tuesday 21 July as well as the news reporter for the Cannon Beach Gazette.- Tuesday mid morning, Mr Manzulli and an associate went to the site where water samples were collected from the stormwater outfall and the stormwater on the sand - plus apparently some marine water samples from the near surf line.- Those samples were tested by Surfrider for Enterococcus bacteria - an indicator bacteria that is used for establishing Marine water quality issues where aquatic recreational activities occur in the near ocean environment - not Freshwater quality. Oregon uses E-coli as the indicator bacteria for freshwater samples.- Enterococcus bacteria standards are 158 MPN (most probable number) for marine water samples. E-coli bacteria standards for fresh water (storm water) are 406 MPN. Both of those are single sample values - there are long term, multi-test, multi-day values that are different.- Mr Manzulli communicated the results of the tests taken by his associate (along with his comments and concerns) to a variety of outlets including those addressed in this email.- Mr Manzulli’s reference to brown matter as being fecal matter is in fact a common form of algae that proliferates in the warm water just beyond stormwater outfalls for 50 to 100 yards and grows very fast and well in the warm sandy environment - his referenced picture is a very good representation of that common algae - it is NOT fecal matter.- Surfrider staff have provided Enterococcus bacteria values for the stormwater on the beach from the Gower outfall based on their Tuesday mid-morning samples. Enterococcus bacteria is known to quickly replicate in certain freshwater environments - and to not degrade quickly in marine environments - hence its preference for marine water quality sampling.- Wastewater staff has continuously sampled the site for E-coli. The Tuesday 21 July sample was above the 406 MPN threshold value and the decision was made to continue to deploy the warning signs and barricades until the values declined below the threshold value and a definite downward trend was established.- E-coli values for Wednesday 22 July were 344 MPN - well below the threshold value - results are pending for Thursday’s sample.What Has Been Done To Prevent Recurrence:- Control of all site alarms and the alarm dialer have been removed from the operational control of the lift station computer and placed on their own power supply with a back-up UPS device. (this was the reason for no alarm notice/call-outs when the computer power supply failed)- An additional high-high float discrete alarm has been added that will trigger independently of the above alarm process should the above system fail to activate for any reason.- The power supply unit that failed has been replaced with a new unit.- A redundant monitoring and alarm reporting system will be included as a project for all lift stations beginning in 2016.Of Note:- Nearly all sewage lift stations have permitted/approved emergency overflow connections that will eventually discharge sewage to waters of the state (rivers) or the ocean environment (across the beach).- Pacific lift station is typical of this permitted design - its overflow connection is near the Gower Street stormwater outfall at an elevation that is over 5 feet above the normal operating elevation for the wetwell.- This system, including the emergency overflow connection was inspected and reviewed by Surfrider and City staff together during a tour of the City’s treatment and collection system several years ago.- Pacific lift station capacity has been designed for ultimate build-out population of Cannon Beach including existing and potential commercial hotels that may be added to its service area in the future. The design value includes a conservative volume estimate and a generous design factor of safety.- Two new non-clog pedestal-mounted variable speed pumps were installed in 2013 with capacity to meet design flows.- The City discontinued its stormwater sampling program primarily because there was no definitive program or project to effectively reduce or eliminate the occasional enterococcus bacteria excursions at the stormwater outfalls and because the City established that those excursions were in fact not sourced from the sanitary sewer system.- Additionally enterococcus is not the freshwater indicator bacteria standard for Oregon State Bacteria Criteria - and the Beach Act focus for our area is on coastal recreation waters - beach warnings and closures are based on enterococcus numbers from marine samples.Update 24 July:- Thursday E-coli test results for Gower stormwater outfall is 144 MPN - all barricades and warning signs have been removed from the site effective 1000 hours this morning.Rabbi Bob on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachSounds like Mike is asking for a public statement from the city telling everyone what happened, not just those individuals who can and choose to contact you, Dan. I'll second that request. Please go ahead and tell Upper Left Edge readers the details, and I'm sure we'll get the word out to others. Thanks Dan for your offer and for joining our community!Rabbi Bob on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachIf ever there was a Like for a comment on the Edge, I would give it for this one, Jennifer. Let's do this!Michael Manzulli on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachThe City of Portland's Sewage Response Plan requires public notification and media advisories of any sewage overflow to surface water that is greater than 40 gallons. Any overflow that does not affect surface water, but is suspected to be over 400 gallons requires public notification. Furthermore, if the spill site has potential for public access and a potential health risk exists, Portland requires public notification for amounts less than 40 gallons.Notifications are sent to the Oregonian, Associated Press, Daily Journal of Commerce, Portland Tribune, KATU, KGW, KOIN, KPTV, KXL, KPAM, KEX, KINK, KOPB, City Council members, and Public Health offices.The City of Cannon Beach spilled an estimated 11,000 gallons of sewage into the Gower Street Stream which lands on one of the busiest beach entrances in the State of Oregon during a hot summer morning and did not make a single public announcement.We deserve better.Dgrassick on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachIf anyone would like to know what actually happened during the sewage spill, or how the City responded and what was done as follow-up, or if there are questions about ending the stormwater sampling, feel free to contact me for discussion. I am available via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone: 503-436-8066, or I can make time to meet in person. - DanGWatt Childress on crows in a wheat field (for Vincent)What do we do when black skies flap down to eat brightness from our lives? Some days crows are brilliant tricksters, strange balancing agents who spread somber fertility with their crap. Other days they are thieves, mobsters attacking the remains of honest hard work, battling for control of the horizon.I don't know why this was the last scene Vincent memorialized before he killed himself. I do know how much he gave the world before he died. Maybe that's the best we can do in dark moments -- paint, sing, pray, write...Bless you, Vinny, for taking time amidst the battle to make and share your art.Watt Childress on Make Good DealsAnd another thing, Bob. I agree that tariffs can be useful, if and when they are calibrated to protect or achieve a public good. For example, a science-minded friend tells me that the U.S. now has data to link pollutants in the Northwest to industrial production in Asia. It would be perfectly fair, and good trade policy, to apply a tariff to all Asian goods that contribute to this pollution. After all, someone will need to pay to deal with the consequences. And those costs should not be shouldered by the American public.Watt Childress on Make Good DealsPeace and prosperity be upon you, Brother Bob.We humans are fiercely social critters, eager to belong. Sure, loners walk among us. But most of us cleave to some tribal identity based on religion, ethnicity, race, region, generation, brand, sexual orientation, gender, profession...it could be anything. Heck, I’ve watched tribal bonding occur over astrological signs.Such fellowship can be beautiful, educational, ecstatic, and fun. Expressions of tribe can result in cultural traditions that help people live in harmony with each other and the land. Yet tribalism can also turn sour when status-hungry members seek to use it for personal gain. I’ve witnessed this happen with my native clan of White-Christian-Straight-Male-Southerners. Some loudmouth cousins apparently mistake tribal membership for cultural supremacy. They seem to think we don’t need to abide by the same rules of engagement we expect of other people. The caramel-corn word for this mindset is “exceptionalism.”The WCSMS tribe has bonded quite forcefully with some outspoken Jews in defense of Israel. I suspect this political bond persuaded President Lyndon Johnson to sell fighter jets to Israel without requiring that Israel sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (as Johnson had initially proposed). Such hawkish exceptionalism seems to drive much of the positioning coming from leaders like Lieberman, Cruz, Cheney, and Netanyahu.I yearn for a deeper fellowship that counterbalances that militarist bond. Brothers like you have helped point me in a good direction. The original Star Trek is an excellent metaphor for that cross-cultural connection. Both Captain Kirk and Spock were played by Jews. Gene Roddenberry, the show’s founding writer, was raised a Southern Baptist. The underlying themes of the show celebrated peace, justice, exploration, and inclusiveness. The United Federation of Planets was not an empire.We’re talking about a very old contrast between two overarching worldviews that are expressed within most tribes. I found a wonderful little parable that illustrates this contrast between two rabbis.“Once there was a gentile who came before Shammai, and said to him: 'Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.' Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding. The same fellow came before Hillel, and Hillel converted him, saying: 'That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.'" - Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a”Rabbi Bob on Make Good DealsIt's kind of sad to see some prominent members of my tribe saying they will vote against the Iran deal, supposedly because it doesn't work in Israel's favor. Some of these same folks have voted to give Obama fast-track authorization in other international deals that have minimal benefits for us regular Americans, and no benefit to Israel I know of.Maybe I'm missing something in the Iran deal, but to me, it's about as simple as you imagine, Watt. It's two leaders getting together and working it out so that their countries can move on. It's trust but verify. It's a way to get some goods and people flowing between nations again. It's a cautious return to normalcy, a little like our opening to Cuba. And it's about time.The litmus test of support for Israel may have made sense 60 years ago, but not today. Myself and many others of the 12 tribes are sick and tired of blanket support for Israel. How many other nations are considered this highly when international deals are negotiated? We have many agreements with countries we are more or less enemies of. In a world with nuclear weapons and such horrible misunderstandings, it is necessary. I find it incredible that so many regular folks would like to scuttle the Iran deal. How will going back to what we are currently doing benefit anyone but the weapons guys?I'm personally against free trade between countries. I think tariffs are a good thing, keeping trade on a more local basis. And putting transnational corporations into the mix muddles it to the point of absurdity. I like your picture of negotiators sitting around the table and ironing out morally defensible treaties that help their people, but also help other nations as well. Hell, I'll volunteer to be on the team! We Jews are well known for our arguing and yapping tendencies, and insert good food into the mix, and you have a recipe for great agreements (amidst disagreement).If he were still alive, in fact, I think we could do a lot worse than Leonard Nimoy as chief negotiator. He'd be a constant reminder of the Star Trek premise that mankind somehow overcame their differences and were able to send spaceships out to space with representatives from most major countries. And a reminder that a warlike race could turn to logic and save their own planet. Live long and prosper, Brother Watt, the Upper Left Edge, and all of us!Watt Childress on Make Good DealsThank you Vinny. I really appreciate your words of hope.For humanity to survive, our economy needs to shift from depletion to sustenance. It's easier for me to envision that shift at the local level -- through direct trade at farmers markets, for example. But I know change needs to happen in the global marketplace, too.Most governments claim to represent people. To the degree that democracy is nurtured, this claim is true. Yet problems can also arise when we equate nations with personhood. Something greater defines us as human beings, something that can be easily lost in the flurry of nationalist fervor. It’s good to keep that in mind, even as we participate in government to uphold the common good.Jennifer Childress on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachI agree wholeheartedly, Tracy. Cannon Beach and other coastal communities have such an opportunity for leadership with environmental issues. If visitors were to come (from all over the world) to our beloved communities and witness us actively working together to protect this place that we love, imagine how inspiring that could be. Imagine the innovative projects we could be implementing and teaching about!Cannon Beach has a wonderful history of this kind of environmental stewardship. We need to revive that spirit!Vinny Ferrau on Poem for IraqThis is a goo goo eye poem Tricia, where i'm completely speechless and captivated by the beauty of your words...Masterful!!!Vinny Ferrau on Mythos, Pathos, and a Lotus FlowerAfter the Post Beat gathering on Monday night, ( Thank you Watt, and Mark, and All the Amazing Souls who attended ) i was thinking about a poem i started writing when i was 23. Dedicated to Sylvia Plath, it was titled, "The shark in your Garden" and was born out of a story of a storm i had heard her mother relay during a documentary. I tied together the deep and tumultuous aspects of her life. The sharks who sometimes found her, or were circling. The fruitfulness and fecundity of her Garden, so ripe with words.I have a title and about eight lines i really like, but 28 years later, it's still not close to being finished. It sits in some notebook, somewhere, with a lot of other hopefuls, waiting. So yeah, sometimes wordplay happens in 45 minutes. Other times, 28 years later, with no sign of contractions, it remains a cool idea.tracy on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachToday I read the headline in the Cannon Beach Gazette, "Cannon Beach keeping an eye on water demand" Due to an abnormally dry summer the city has not been able to keep the reservoirs full. The city reported that demand is high on the weekends because more tourists are in town, but that the bulk of the demand has been irrigation. There have been talks of implementing a water conservation plan but the city claims that it is not necessary at this time. Is it going to take another disaster like the sewage spill to begin to make us become more pro-active than re-active? How can we look at the drought in California and current climate changes and think that NOW is not the time for water conservation? One public works employee said he is "very prepared to stop irrigating if asked." Shouldn't we be asking? Are we paying attention?"Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret MeadVinny Ferrau on Make Good DealsMasterfully written Watt, and spot on, i couldn't agree more. Much like what Bob stated in his commentary on Mikes piece, "Summer Sewage" i believe much of the onus lands on us, All of US, to make good, fair and sustainable trades where ever we be. I think it was de Tocqueville who said, " In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve." While i'm not quite sure democracy is what we have anymore, i do believe that our actions have consequence. And when those actions tally up in the billions, it's hard not to notice. As we as a populace steer away from the notions of," what can i get, or take," and embrace "what can i give, what can i offer, how can this sustain us all," governments change. (I mean they're just people right?) I am with you man, 100%. Lets all of us mirror the change we want to see and make good trades, good friends, and good neighbors.Vinny Ferrau on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachBob and Watt, you've kind of said it all, so i will simply thank Mike for posting this. I walk the beach often as well. Knowledge is power that offers us the impetus to make choices in alignment with sustainability and common sense. Thank you Mike for honoring community and inter connection.Rabbi Bob on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachYou probably had Mike in mind for this advocate position, Watt, but I would take it gladly. I've thought about just that for Astoria as well. Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and many other larger cities have sustainability or environmental departments that advocate for the environment, and all cities and towns need this. It's probably the same in Cannon Beach -- in Astoria, when there's a conflict between the natural environment and public works, guess who wins.All of this is yet more fodder for why we need to move away from government implementation of public works and such, and do it ourselves. Small steps towards this ideal should be taken whenever possible. Things like reusing water, solar panels, rainwater collection, energy efficiency, and probably most important -- working together in small communities to get it done.All this while continuing to monitor government and contractors, and advocating for the environment whenever possible. Thanks Watt and Mike for doing all you do in this regard!Watt Childress on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachGood on you, Mike! Many thanks to you and other members of Surfrider for your advocacy.I served on the local public works committee when Cannon Beach built our new wastewater treatment facility. The project was deemed necessary to expand capacity for more tourists, vacation homes, and residents. I was concerned as we moved forward that the expansion would feed the illusion that crowds could continue to swell without us thinking in a more integrated way about resource management.One of the best ways to encourage stewardship is through economics. On the public works committee I promoted consumption-based rates in conjunction with the new wastewater facility, arguing that those who put the greatest demands on the system should shoulder the greatest weight in paying for it. I convinced the committee to recommend a stair-stepped approach in which higher-volume utility users would pay higher rates. Some of those higher-volume users had been getting sweet-heart deals for many years. Alas, the city council rejected our recommendation.This outcome echoes a common problem with public policy. Dominant players exert political control so that our economy is tilted to privatize profits while socializing the associated risks and costs. Case in point: vested interests successfully lobbied state government so that much of the lodging tax revenues that are collected in tourist locations must be used for promotion and marketing. As a result, a chunk of that public money is now earmarked to attract more tourists rather than fund the services that are required to host them.Cannon Beach once prided herself on managing resources in a way that protects the natural assets that make this place special. It’s a clear sign we’ve lost our way when shit like this happens. How do we get back on track? One suggestion is for city hall to make room for an environmental advocate on staff who will work with various departments and make sure we’re living up to our green brand. Also, independent watchdog groups like Surfrider Foundation deserve support. I’ve donated money in the past, and will continue to do so when I can.Rabbi Bob on Summer sewage at Cannon BeachThanks Mike, for a thorough analysis of water quality on the beach at Cannon Beach. Having worked at the Dept. of Ecology in WA, I'm not surprised by your findings. I think it's a symptom of how we deal with our wastes that causes these sorts of problems. Basically, we rely on government and their contractors to take make sure that our wastes are handled correctly. We pool our wastes and attempt to treat this pooled waste in centralized plants, and we don't really know what we're doing. To make matters worse, as you explain, we often don't really have the resources to make sure that these systems are always working.So, as you tell it in your post, we rely on watchdog groups and folks such as you to make sure things work correctly. Again, as you point out, this is not full-proof -- many times the best that can be done is to make something bad a little less bad.So, my suggestion, made as a chemical engineer and environmental engineer that has been working in this field and thinking a lot about it, is to treat our wastes as close to the source as possible, and incorporate monitoring into the treatment process that will avoid as many problems as possible. The idea is to spread out the risk, and also lessen risk by using more appropriate technologies. Finally, education of the generators (that's us!) to produce less is worth every penny. I just got back from a fiddle camp where we were instructed to pee in the bushes if possible, not flush toilets after peeing, and generally use as little water as possible, because of the drought. We can practice these sorts of things at home, and be aware of the wastes we produce, treat them at home (there are some great aerobic treatment systems that don't require drainfields), and get together with folks in the community to figure out solutions.Please write more of this kind of stuff in the Upper Left Edge, Mike, and thanks for all you do for our communities here on the coast!!Vinny Ferrau on Mythos, Pathos, and a Lotus FlowerWatt, thank you for your words, and for tilling the soil so that so many of us have some fertile Earth with which to sprinkle a few creative seeds. Yes, it actually started as an open letter concerned with local events. It acknowledged the weight and responsibility of public service, expressing both gratitude and discontent. I wished to speak for the Trees, to channel Salmon voices. I wanted to rail against pavement and surveys with compassion, yet not sacrifice conviction or common sense..... It got away from me bro. It just got Too Big!!!!! I had the Mongol Horde in there, and the Iroquois notion of 7 Generations. Dharma, Karma, and Big Pharma all made their appearances. It was heavy, weighty and pretty hard to handle, so i put it down.... Two weeks later i penned this piece, feverishly, without pause, in about 45 mins.( the exception being the last few lines, which needed a bit more cajoling) It is my hope that what needs to flow out of us, does. Forms may morph, words may shift and change, but the prayer is, the heart's behind it, with love, care and conviction. A small testament for the curious passerby.Vinny Ferrau on Mythos, Pathos, and a Lotus FlowerGreg, mucho thanks for your kind words. As to where the soul comes from? maybe one part bayonne, one part bayou, and whole lotta late nite dinner food 🙂 I am always down to delve deep into good conversation, i might know a good used bookstore..... Thanks again bro.Watt Childress on Mythos, Pathos, and a Lotus FlowerEpic word-paint, Vinny! I feel like I’m standing before a surrealist mural in the middle of an indigenous village where resistance to empire remains strong. Much of the meaning eludes me, yet the colors and contours and music convey magic. I’m sure the feeling will be even stronger when these words are spoken by you, hopefully at Jupiter’s Books sometime soon.It amazed me to learn, during a recent conversation, that this poem had it’s origin in an open letter you began writing to a Cannon Beach official after crossing paths near city hall. I think readers would be interested in hearing about your process. Bookshop talk has taught me that many people thirst for free-form communication. How can we pour life's wild connections into writing?Gregory Zschomler on Mythos, Pathos, and a Lotus FlowerVinny, Vinny, Vinny, this is awesome! I read it in my mind and in that reading I loved the rhythm and rhyme and wordplay. Then I read it aloud and appreciated the cadence and sound s all the more. This is master poetry and my MFA wife agrees. I'm still reading it for all it's deep meaning. I'd love to tear it apart and examine each and every nuance in light of the author's eyes. Let's do that sometime. Such beauty, my friend. Where does this soul come from?Watt Childress on BirdmanI love this flashback from across the Pacific: witnessed on a Malaysian atoll; retold on the Oregon coast; now published here for the first time. The map of human experience spreads out like a vast wild ocean. Stories navigate that distance of time and space so we can join the primal encounter.Gregory Zschomler on Eulogy for a GoldfishLove it! Funny but sorta fishy.Watt Childress on Eulogy for a GoldfishBless you Melissa for sharing this tribute to a little aquatic companion. Some readers may think it silly to grieve over a goldfish. Having done it myself, I can't be counted among that emotionally retentive crowd. Has it been two years since Princess stopped eating and then floated to the edge of the filter? I've lost track of time. Now our tank sits empty in the basement, waiting to be cleaned so I can welcome that beautiful fish vibe back in the house.Watt Childress on SentencesThank you Vinny. Your mention of Lazarus prompted me to explore other literary references. Something led me to this exquisitely disturbing poem by Sylvia Plath, who killed herself within a year of writing it.Some days humanity feels entombed in tragedy. We need miracles, so desperately. How do we live healthy productive lives as creatures who turn the world into words (and vice-versa, perhaps)? How do we serve?I'm grateful to seek answers to such questions with good friends like you. Look forward to reading more of your work as part of our conversation.Vinny Ferrau on SentencesLazarus approved and appreciated... nice weaving Watt.Vinny Ferrau on Remembering Steve McLeodBeautiful, Heart-felt Remembrance K 🙂Watt Childress on All Things Must Change — EventuallyWell, well! Them Dems blocked a secretive corporate trade deal today on first vote in the House. No doubt big business has recalibrated their marching orders for Obama and his GOP team. Another vote is expected to be taken up next week.Does this crack open the door a bit wider for real change? Let's pay close attention to how candidate Clinton handles the question of trade policy in the coming days. Bernie Sanders' stock could rise if Hillary is silent, or speaks in favor of this secretive trade deal.Watt Childress on All Things Must Change — EventuallyGood on son Tevan for backing the best candidate in the big cage match for POTUS. I'm of the same mind, though I confess I've become a little Rand Paul curious. Paul impressed me with his willingness to stir up the status quo with NSA spying.In the end, alas, such stirring from players like Paul and Sanders have yet to alter the outcomes of major votes. The cynical devil who sits on my right shoulder says such political plays are scripted so as not to risk their relationships with central casting. "If Bernie Sanders wants to be a real contender for change," whispers that cynical devil, "why doesn't he run as an Independent? Surely that would put real fear into the neo-liberal hearts of the Republicrats."I try not to let such cynicism drown out the encouragement that comes from the hopeful angel on my left shoulder. As I write these words, the U.S. House of Representatives is voting on whether to trade away more of America's sovereignty to multi-national corporations in the blatantly non-transparent Trans-Pacific Partnership. We'll see if Obama and his GOP team are able to weasel the same corporate power-grab that Clinton and his GOP team did in the 90s.Rabbi Bob on All Things Must Change — EventuallyYeah, I read that article about Bernie the mayor. Gave me more respect for him. Did you know that Tevan is a leader of the College Students for Bernie group? They're the official college student arm of the Sanders' campaign.Vinny Ferrau on Three Stones and a PipeThank you Sharon 🙂 lets make sure of it, Music would be so welcome and relevant...Sharon Amber on Three Stones and a PipeThanks, Vinny. Love this. Simple and sweet & powerfully poignant - hope there will be music at his soiree as he also danced well.Watt Childress on All Things Must Change — EventuallyBernie Sanders provides a good model for political change. I was inspired by this biographical post about his efforts as Mayor of Burlington during the 1980s. Imagine if our region had that kind of leadership. The last sentence stands out to me."Creating more livable cities requires nurturing a core of activist organizations that can build long-term support for progressive municipal policies."Rabbi Bob on All Things Must Change — EventuallyBelieve it or not, Watt, there's a little feature on the Magic Toilet in the latest edition of Harpers magazine! It's designed to use very little water, separate waste and treat it nearby. Maybe just a dream of the author, but it hits the spot! I hope to follow up soon.As for Hillary, we could do so much better. Yes, symbols are sometimes dangerous.And yes, Obama has been a disappointment. Some great talk, but little action to back it up.I'll stick with the Greens for most, and Bernie for prez. He seems a lot more genuine. I don't think we'll get much political change, for reasons stated above, but I hope we can move ever so slowly to a better place.Jennifer Childress on Marching for Monsanto to Change their WaysThanks for raising this issue here, Sharon. I believe that this may be one of the most important issues of our time.Watt Childress on Three Stones and a PipeA memorial soiree for Steve will be held on June 24, 6 pm at the American Legion in Cannon Beach.Watt Childress on All Things Must Change — EventuallyOn the way to work yesterday I listened to an update on the civic response to drought in California. Sounds like many people are altering their daily routines. Utilities are reforming their ways. If your dream toilet doesn’t already exist, Bob, I bet it will soon!Change can happen quick when people focus on the game. Yet one pitfall with society is we tend to substitute symbols for the real thing. Many Americans are hoping that Hillary Clinton will become our first female president, for example. If elected, will she lead the world toward a future that’s a better place for women, where our public policies value human life above corporate profits?Maybe. But many people were equally hopeful when Barack Obama became president. As I write these words, President Obama is lobbying Congress to weaken a provision in the proposed trans-pacific trade pact (TPP) that would firm up our opposition to slavery. In electing an African-American man to lead us, it appears our country hasn't come nearly as far as we believed.And at this time of this writing, candidate Clinton has avoided public comment on this major trade policy that smells a lot like the one pushed through by her husband (NAFTA). Is she real change we can trust, or another symbol that packages more of the same?Watt Childress on Waddling toward JerusalemThanks, Bob. Best we can do is learn from our mistakes and take better care of the life around us. Death is a hard teacher.Watt Childress on Strawberry Fields: Seems Like ForeverWell done, Greg! Deftly chosen words to describe a formative part of your youth.When I did field work in the Caribbean, just out of college, we rose well before sunrise in order to get a jump on the heat. I learned from the islanders that dawn was a sacred time -- "first light," they called it.Thanks so much for your illuminating contributions to our writing community.Rabbi Bob on No-see-ums, the entropy effect and non-linear timeI'm really tempted to write a viola joke here, but will resist...RedSpiralHand on No-see-ums, the entropy effect and non-linear timeSweet Success! Finally, after suffering every year since being here on the coast (7-years of itch, indeed!) I came up with a salve that quells the misery. My "Blessed Relief" salve still uses a variety of the plantain weed but combined with comfrey (for quick healing) and white bentonite clay all in coconut oil with a bit of beeswax.I changed the way I was infusing the herbs into the oil and VIOLA!So, I've tested this formula on a bunch of other no-see-um targets and all experience the same relief from the itch and also the bites heal up in a few days. As an added benefit the plantain seems to be a repellent...something I didn't expect.And yes, I'm selling jars of it. Four ounces for $25. Good for itches, stings, burns, scrapes and rashes. (I'll give a jar free to a poison ivy or poison oak sufferer who wants to be a test subject.)Vinny Ferrau on Indie Strum at Jupiter’sSo many wonderful, interesting folks, you just want to support Everyone's Passion and Gifts... I am grateful to Watt, and Greg and All the Artists in attendance, and Pachamama for a Glorious Day!!!Jennifer Childress on Love in the Wrack ZoneThis is such a beautiful tribute to Steve. I'm missing these characters today. They've been a big part of my life here on the coast.Watt Childress on Three Stones and a PipeThis scenic moment serves as a beautiful tribute to Steve. Thank you, Vinny. He respected you and was grateful for your company.It took some work to coax Steve into the bookshop to meet you, not long after you moved to town. Socially, he was more caterpillar than butterfly. Yet I assured him it would be in the spirit of the afternoon soirees he enjoyed with Michael Burgess and Billy Hults. I knew he'd appreciate the chance to engage in deeper conversation.Steve and I became closer after Billy and Michael died. The will to connect can be strengthened in the wake of loss, as we experience the mystery of human contact. Let's pass those stones around at a memorial soiree for Steve, soon to be announced.Vinny Ferrau on Soil of My Souli Absolutely LOVE this piece Erin, Thank You.....Rabbi Bob on Waddling toward JerusalemWow, Watt, this is a powerful piece. It's an animal-eat-animal world out there, and we can't always prevent the natural thing from happening. I remember when we lived in Seattle, an Abyssinian cat we "owned" died from what we thought was a run-in from a car, but what I suspect to this day might have been a deliberate antifreeze poisoning from a disgruntled neighbor. The breeder we bought the cat from said to not let the cat outside, because they roam and often are hit by cars. Did we heed this? Can we be blamed for Squeaker's death?I know that farm life has these things happening all the time. Still, it hurts. We can give our pets and livestock the best life possible, and hope they live long enough to enjoy it. By the way, I think this way about plants too...Gregory Zschomler on Indie Strum at Jupiter’sI read your vibe, Watt. It WAS groovy. Thanks for everything. You are awesome. I'm sharing this with all the authors.Erin Hofseth on Soil of My SoulThanks Jennifer. You've been one of those soft voices helping me along in my journey to finding that gritty Me. Happy Mother's Day. I love you.Jennifer Childress on Soil of My SoulI am in love with the gritty you. Both the words and the reality that those words represent. Thank you Erin as always for taking the time to express such truth.Watt Childress on Travel LightNext time you're in Cannon Beach, Tony, let's hoist a couple of frothy pints to Engineer Hults. Readers are fortunate to have this well-crafted prequel to your Paris Beat. What a slice of life!I find it both inspiring and humbling to reflect on life's turning points. Thank goodness for the folks who help us learn how to steer. You pass along that gift when you write about it.Vinny Ferrau on Some thoughts on us, the Wheeler clearcut, and exiled Chilean poetsThank you Gambele. i think the only answer is Love. We've exhausted all the other hollow roads that lead to impoverishment of Earth and Soul. It must be Love, Love that leads us to proper Relationship,.. one that nourishes and gives back... One that knows we are a part, not apart.One that lead us home....Watt Childress on Some thoughts on us, the Wheeler clearcut, and exiled Chilean poetsFor years I have delighted in our conversations, Gambele. You lift spirits with your beautiful inspired observations of life. Recently you told me how you are always composing, arranging words in your mind, preparing for that next exchange with a kindred soul.You and I are alike in that we speak a lot more than we write. Yet when the magic flows through our talks, I often wish it could be recorded and shared with more folks in our community. How many times have we ended a conversation with me urging you to write something down?And so you have. THANK YOU for planting your voice in this little forest of words. May it grow.Watt Childress on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonI've often wondered about that book, Bob. Perused it in the shop today. Hope we have the opportunity to read an astute no-spoiler review from you.Judah Benjamin also figures into the civil war novel "All Other Nights" by Dara Horn. She's an excellent author who's received the National Jewish Book Award for her fiction. I loved her novel "The World to Come," and try to keep her work stocked at the shop. Yet the passages I skimmed in "All Other Nights" presented a less scholarly view of Benjamin and the Jewish South than did Robert N. Rosen. Perhaps it's unfair to compare fiction and non-fiction, but I think Rosen offers important insights that have been overlooked by dominant narratives on the civil war. I'm really looking forward to sharing his "Jewish Confederates" with you.Here's the end of Benjamin's final address to the U.S. Senate, quoted from Rosen's book."What may be the fate of this horrible contest, no man can tell, none pretend to foresee; but this much I will say; the fortunes of war may be adverse to our arms; you may carry desolation into our peaceful land, and with torch and fire you may set our cities in flames...you may, under the protection of your advancing armies, give shelter to the furious fanatics who desire, and profess to desire, nothing more than to add all the horrors of a servile insurrection to the calamities of civil war; you may do all this, -- and more, too, if more there be -- but you can never subjugate us. An enslaved and servile race you can never make of us -- never! never!"After which the whole gallery burst into loud uncontrollable applause. The presiding officer attempted to clear the galleries, but the crowd was "wild with enthusiasm."Some label this uncontrollable force nativism. I prefer to call it nationalism, since the word "native" is often used in reference to indigenous communities. Whatever we name it, however, this human emotion is common to all people. Dangerous blinding stuff, as history has shown us.Vinny Ferrau on What Jesus smells likeThank you Margret 🙂Margaret Hammitt-McDonald on What Jesus smells likeVinny, thank you for this exquisite poem. I love the immediacy of the sense of smell and the way it deepens a reader's idea of incarnation. Smell is our most earthy, bodily sense, and it's also the one most closely linked to memory, as smells are processed directly in areas of the brain associated with memory and emotion. It brings new meaning to Jesus' request, "Do this in memory of me."Margaret Hammitt-McDonald on In Search of Sacred Love: A Review of “Jesus Loves Women” by Tricia Gates BrownIt's so painful when readers, or listeners, don't "get" what you're trying to convey. Some of the most embarrassing moments of my life, the ones I recall ruefully when I'm in a gloomy mood, involved people misunderstanding not just what I'd said or written, but giving the most negative interpretation to what I'd hoped was a positive statement. These experiences have made me cautious, particularly when writing (since readers can't hear my intonation or see my expressions and gestures), and sometimes that saddens me, since some things need to be said boldly!Margaret Hammitt-McDonald on In Search of Sacred Love: A Review of “Jesus Loves Women” by Tricia Gates BrownTricia, I'm so glad that you enjoyed the review, and thanks for being my soul sister! 🙂Rabbi Bob on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonFunny you should mention Judah Benjamin. I'm reading Philip Roth's The Plot Against Anerica, and Benjamin is mentioned. A fantastic story of an alternate history of America during WWII, and the relationship of Jews and Christians is stressed, along with the different natures of Jews. I'll report more to our readers when I finish the book.Watt Childress on Rabbinical Reflections on the Season“Yahu” seems a more fitting nickname for Israel’s prime minister. He’s their gun-totting version of George W. Bush, pitching to the same right-wing audience that gave Shrub two terms in the White House. Recently Netanyahu took the national stage to undercut Obama’s negotiations in the Middle East. He did so at the behest of a Republican Congress ruled by hard-line Christian hawks. A scattering of Jews were also present to hear Yahu’s political grandstanding in Washington. All but one were Democrats, many who objected to the context of the speech (Bernie Sanders skipped it).There are many different manifestations of slavery in the world. Kill the masters? No. Not a good idea, unless one believes it’s OK to fire lethal rockets on people from the subjugated zones of Palestine, or hijack planes and crash them into the World Trade Center. I do not, and I know you don’t either. Let’s agree that question has been firmly answered.I do think it’s useful to focus on the two turning points in history you mention -- the civil war and the civil rights movement. Maybe not in the way you were imagining.My understanding is that the Confederates States of America seceded for economic reasons, and that slavery was one of several economic factors that led to the civil war. My family fought on both sides of that conflict. So did many Jews. In fact one source says America's Jews were split in the war, with a slightly greater number fighting for the Confederacy.I know that seems out of step with our assumption today, which anchors Jewish influence in the urban North. Yet the South hosted early waves of Jewish immigrants in cities like Richmond, Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans. In 1820, the largest Jewish population in the United States was in South Carolina. The state boasts the first constitution in the world to guarantee religious freedom to Jews.I’d like to loan you a copy of “The Jewish Confederates” by Robert N. Rosen. Replete with scholarly research, the author argues that prior to 1860, anti-Semitism was more common in the North than the South. Rosen claims historians of the American Jewish experience reached a consensus long ago that Jews were more accepted in Dixie. Our nation’s first Jewish congressmen were Southerners. A U.S. Senator from Louisiana, Judah Benjamin, became attorney general of the Confederacy.Rosen argues that such loyalty was not based on the support of slavery or the idea of succession. Many Jews accepted the South as their new homeland, a place where they found freedom that was denied them elsewhere. This fortified their sense of patriotic duty.Of course demographics changed following the Civil War and continued to transform throughout the 20th century. Fast forward to the Civil Rights movement, when Jews and Christians in the North joined forces with Southern reformers to challenge social injustices. When I listen to recorded speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, my heart rumbles with a feeling of exodus that surely inspired those brave leaders.These two points in history illustrate different potentials for collaboration between American Jews and Christians. During the time of the Confederacy, Southern Jews and Christians sought to secure their political interests by fanning the flames of nationalism. By contrast, shared conscience between American Jews and Christians helped to support the Civil Rights movement. I believe the latter effort mirrors current work to foster peace and freedom in the Middle East.All people are rooted in a common way of being that preceded national identity. It is human nature to nurture and provide for our families while participating in community. Most of us feel good when we engage in good acts, mitzvot that help care for the whole. Most of us feel bad when we hurt others. This commonality has been diverted by politicians who serve commercial masters while capitalizing on national egos.Here’s a beautiful video shared by a Jewish sister who believes we can overcome those politics with music.Rabbi Bob on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonWow, Watt, you brought us up to the present quickly, tying the Bible stories to present-day politics and war quite nicely. I've yet to see Bibi's halo; he doesn't seem divinely inspired to me. But maybe that's your point, and what we're discussing here -- what is the nature of the Jew, the Christian, the Muslim? I'm having enough trouble with the first of these monotheistic groups, my own. I can't fathom the nature of the Christian or the Muslim. I leave that to others.As for the Jewish nature, we display the gamut. My former neighbors and friends from New York that I see Facebook posts from seem to have the warlike nature of Bibi and much of the Old Testament. Certainly if you read the stories in the bible, and reflect on them during holiday gatherings, you get the idea that we are a special people, protected by God, and constantly being harassed, enslaved, deprived, and destroyed (needing that protection). Lashing back at our enemies (and we have many) is nothing new.I'm going to focus here on the Passover story as an example of what we're talking about, and hope that someone out there has some answers. Let's take a modern analogy -- the enslavement of Africans. In America, it was necessary to fight a civil war to get the South to give up official slavery, but it's also been necessary for the civil rights movement to lose many people continuing the fight for freedom. Here's the question: Is it OK to kill the masters to free the slaves? Is it necessary? What's the Jewish theological view on this? The Christian view? The Muslim view?I can see why Jesus might have gotten some followers from among the poor and oppressed, and I can see why Bernie Sanders has his followers from the same sets of people. I can also see how folks could use God to further their agendas. I'd like to think, though, that God is more like the George Burns character in the movie, basically saying, "I got you started. Now it's up to you. Stop bothering me."Margaret Hammitt-McDonald on Jesus as a young Muslim’s spiritual exampleAamir, thank you for sharing this beautiful, insightful piece!Margaret Hammitt-McDonald on Encounters with the Jewish JesusMe too! What's the use in being fully human and fully divine unless you can have fun with both states of being? (And that goes for all of us...)Margaret Hammitt-McDonald on Encounters with the Jewish JesusYay, Vinny, I'm so glad my piece--and my picture of Jesus--resonated for you!Wouldn't it be cool to arrange a Jesus-Buddha soccer match? The fans go wild...Margaret Hammitt-McDonald on Encounters with the Jewish JesusWatt, this is a perfect description of the "converter" mentality that I find challenging, from both sides of the conversation--when talking about an issue I feel passionate about, such as the natural environment, I work on listening and speaking with mindfulness so I don't turn into that conversation-stopping zealot!Perhaps the key is to speak from the heart but not to turn one's heart into a bulldozer, flattening all other hearts on its drive to salvation, transformation, or whatever else the person is looking for, spewing the airborne pollutants of judgmental words as it goes. It's one thing to love, to be devoted, to some cause; it's another when one's devotion gets in the way of loving one's fellow beings--loving them enough to allow them their own truths, as flawed and groping as any human truths can be.Thank you for the beautiful words and the chance to reflect.Vinny Ferrau on JesusWow!!!! Lets keep the inquiry and questions and appreciation rolling... There is always someone amazing me with their revelations and connections that make sense to my soul. Lets see how deep the rabbit hole goes, and what each of us may do, in our own way, to dance with it...Watt Childress on JesusOur Jesus Edition was picked up by Nancy and Joe Pearl, a couple who came to Cannon Beach for a recent literary gathering. Nancy is a renown connoisseur of books and the only librarian on earth with an action figure made in her likeness. After perusing our paper, they recommended a NYT op-ed by Kevin M. Kruse, author of “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America” (just published by Basic Books).The op-ed convinced me to order the book as soon as I can get it from my distributor. Kruse talks about how business titans lobbied Christian clergy in order to revive America’s faith in capitalism following the Great Depression. Apparently that effort spawned the fealty many conservative Christians express toward unregulated commerce and free trade in general. If you would like to review the book for the Upper Left Edge, Erin, let me know and I’ll hold a copy for you.Vinny Ferrau on Encounters with the Jewish Jesus" I imagine him stepping around curls of wood shavings,"or" playing a first-century form of soccer with the neighborhood children" is an image of Jesus that i love to come back to, and Always makes me Smile...Vinny Ferrau on JesusRight On Erin, beautifully said!!!Erin Hofseth on JesusThank you Watt for your insights and comment. Having grown up steeped heavily in the Americanized culture of Christianity, I find my self cynical and reactive to Christianity as a religion because of the hypocrisy that I've observed and experienced. Yet, when you look at Christ's life historically, you see a big difference between the way he lived his life and how most practicing evangelical, American Christians choose to live theirs at present time. Of course, this is not applicable to all those who follow Christ in beliefs and lifestyle, but many of the Christian leaders in our nation promote a culture of capitalism, violence, and extreme judgment towards people and lifestyles that are unknown to them or misunderstood. This unfortunately trickles down to many, even most, of the Christian churches in our country. The political perspectives of those leaders who claim to follow Christ contaminate the fundamental principles of a religion supposedly rooted in the life of a man who was anything but a war-seeking, judgmental, capitalist!There are so many Christ-followers doing amazing things in this world...I see this often. These people give me hope and inspire me to keep looking to Christ as an example of steadfast love, compassion, grace and humility.Watt Childress on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonYes, epic myths full of insights into man's perceptions of God, often revealing how man has adapted God for our own action movies. I don't mean "myths" as falsehoods, but as sacred stories that hold historic, cultural and spiritual value even at those points when they aren't literally true. Of course there are also deep truths within these stories. The difference must be sorted out in the hearts of readers.Watt Childress on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonA fiddler on the roof? Sounds meshuggah, no? Yet in our little village at the Upper Left Edge we try to make and share our music. Keeping our balance means being as sure-footed as goats. The muse moves through you, Rabbi Bob. I’m grateful for our brotherhood.Surely the rabbinic tradition offers more room for questioning and debate than did my southern Christian upbringing. Many in the Bible-belt accept what’s said between the leather as the literal inerrant word of God. And mass murder isn’t the only malevolent plot element that’s thought to be divinely inspired. Go back and read the whole passage about the tenth plague. After all the other awful tribulations, Pharaoh finally decided to do the right thing. He was going to let God’s people go. But then God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so God could prove his supremacy by killing every first-born boy in the land who’s parents hadn’t smeared lambs blood on their door.No doubt some religious reasoning is offered by Bible-belt preachers who whip such scripts into the psyches of their congregations. Yet here’s a lesson that soaks into the subconscious minds of literalist readers, regardless of any theological context. The Judeo-Christian God can make you do the wrong thing, then kill your children as punishment. So be extremely afraid. Do whatever God and his spokesmen order you to do. Because if you don’t you could suffer unthinkable consequences.That same God has told hardened patriots of a Christian nation to unconditionally support hardened patriots of a Jewish nation. And hardened patriots of an Islamic nation are probably building nuclear weapons so they’ll be as capable of mass murder as we are.What script will leaders use to determine how to proceed? I’ll never forget reading an op-ed published in the New York Times, six years ago, shortly before President Obama had his first meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When asked to gauge Netanyahu’s bearings toward Iran, an advisor answered “Think Amalek.”Those words touched a deep nerve in me. Amalek was the king who attacked the Jews during the exodus from slavery. In retaliation, many years later, God ordered Israel’s leader to exterminate the descendants of Amalek – every man, woman, and infant; every calf and kid; all crops and property. 1 Samul 15:3. Divinely-ordained genocide.This is apparently the mindset of a prime minister who governs one of the few nations that owns a functioning nuclear arsenal that was developed in secret without ever signing the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. I suspect Netanyahu's nationalism is religiously shared by southern Christian politicians like Ted Cruz. Will the next president of the United States be guided by the same violent stories that apparently guide Netanyahu?Stories have a huge influence over human actions. Time to reveal and heal the damage that's done when men shape stories about God to suit our nationalist purposes. Perhaps there's some deeper significance in the fact that the first word for "nation" in the Bible is "goy."Watt Childress on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonIt was a cold spring night. I actually put on long underwear after the alarm woke me from a deep sleep at 2 am. The first time I visited new mama and her kids, the two larger ones were up wobbling around. But the runt wasn't moving much. Lotus (the mama) was licking the larger kids, still cleaning them up. She wasn't paying much attention to the little one, though, which worried me. I put all the babies close together and gave mama some more hay.Around 4 am I went down to the barn again. The larger kids were sleeping next to each other, but the runt was all by herself in the middle of the stall. I got a little grain to give Lotus, to keep her in one place. Then I picked up the runt and carried her over to see if I could get her to nurse. She felt very weak, and I was worried she wouldn’t have enough energy to find the teat. But she tried.After a few minutes, I could hear nursing sounds. Something was happening, but was the baby getting anything? Just a small amount of colostrum (a mother’s first milk) is packed with vital nutrients. I knew that if she got just a little, her chances of living were good.After a while she seemed to lose interest in the teat, so I pulled her away and looked carefully into at her face. My heart swelled with contentment when I saw a band of white foam at the edge of her mouth. As much as anything I experience in life, such moments affirm the presence of God. The affirmation was especially potent this time because of where my mind was, writing that first comment.We named the little one Chavalah, of course. Tzeitel and Lazar Wolf are her sister and brother. The kids are all thriving and Lotus is doing fine. Praise God!Rabbi Bob on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonFinal thought of the night on this topic: I'm thinking that the Old and New Testament and the books in between can be thought of as an epic tale of the Jews and the Christians. Same epic battles, epic family histories and explanations of natural events as other epics such as the Iliad. Less gods, but similar themes. Great fodder for movies...Rabbi Bob on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonAnother example of the miracle of renewal on Earth that gives me inspiration that the bad done by us humans can be overcome. Perhaps God is this renewal. Maybe not to follow blindly, but certainly worth marveling. Go God! Here's hoping that mama and kids are doing great!Rabbi Bob on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonAs always, Brother Watt, a thought-provoking give on my take. I should explain that the thumbnail on this post is the Ten Commandments as shown in the movie by that name that I looked forward to every spring when I was a kid. Written in ancient Aramaic script, the sixth of these commandments in English says something like "Don't murder." Seems like there should have been a disclaimer added - something like "except when I tell you to."When I attend Passover Seders, like the one coming up this Friday, as well as other holiday services these days, I am struck by the references to mass murder, hatred, and destruction of our (Jewish) enemies. Most of these are quotes from the bible. The ones most relevant to Passover are the ten plagues. Talk about mass murder. And with the final plague, even children.I take some solace in the possibility that these stories were written to explain natural events that were unexplainable with the science of that time, or that they are fables that teach us some morals. But I'll admit that like most of my friends and family, I didn't do much thinking about these passages, and sort of accepted their message - in order to free the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, it was necessary to kill enormous amounts of Egyptians. The lesson - don't mess with the Jews.This is borne out in present times by the policies of the U.S. and Israel towards the Arab countries in the Middle East. The murder continues, clearly violating commandment #6, but sanctioned by many rabbis more prominent than me.I wonder if it all comes down to those memorable words from the Shalom Aleichem stories sown together in a play that I've seen in several venues (including the Sydney Opera House) and had the great honor of sharing the stage with you, Brother Watt, performing in it: "Without our traditions, life would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof!"Shaky perhaps, but maybe a little less bloody.Watt Childress on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonAfter posting that comment I went out to the barn to find triplet baby goats. First kids of the season, born to a new mom. Will set the alarm to check on them during the night. The runt may need bottle-feeding before dawn.Springtime!Watt Childress on Rabbinical Reflections on the SeasonThat’s a right smart reflection on life in the vernal moment, Bob. Todah rabah, rabbi! Thanks so much for this budding weblog.Sounds like you’re having fun with the thespians in Astoria. I’ll never forget our first chats when we were acting with our kids in Fiddler on the Roof. Huddled back stage at the Cannon Beach Coaster Theater, I felt like we were in our own little yeshiva. We’d start out whispering, but soon became loud enough to get shushed by the stage manager.I offer this little memory so readers will know you and I are practiced at picking topics to fire each other up. The subject of patriarchal violence, for example, has often entered our conversations about cultural roots. Indeed the founding act of faith for Jews, Christians (and Muslims, I’m guessing) was a patriarch’s willingness to obey the order to kill his child. The official script doesn’t offer much back-story for that order. Yet the archeological record shows that child sacrifice was practiced in ancient times throughout the Middle East, as it was throughout the world.Apparently that kind of faith was more common back then. Mortal men wrote about it in the story of Abraham and Isaac, and believers were instructed to accept the story as God’s truth. That’s the way men elevate our ranks to deity – with words. Even if we’re careful not to spell out God’s name, we've conveyed his character as an almighty authority who often demands obedient bloodshed. Such religious compliance is especially useful when men are ordered to kill women and children.Here’s how it’s done. The prophet Samuel wasn’t God, right? But he was a star prophet. Thus IT IS WRITTEN Samuel spoke with God and God told him to order the king to command his men to do certain things. As in: go and kill every member of a certain tribe of people. Kill them all, including the infants, because their leaders did something bad a while back and God wants every last one of them exterminated. If any are spared, even one baby, God will be very pissed.I’m not making this up. The dudes who wrote 1 Samuel 15:3 did. And sure enough, God's chosen folks didn’t fully obey, and that sin piled up with others that had to be punished. That’s where Christian patriarch's fit Jesus in. According to some written accounts, Jesus became the perfect sacrificial lamb who’s blood could wash away all sin. One could infer that Jesus’ death was the very best thing that could have happened. God killed his child to redeem us from our sins of disobedience.I know such thoughts seem far too dark for a season of quickening sunshine. This is a time when folks celebrate resurrection and release from slavery. Yet the flip-side is also true. Now is when many re-enact the murder of an innocent man as if it were a ritual blood sacrifice. It's also when many remember the collective killing of first-born sons as an act of divine might.Beyond such violence I believe there is real divinity – in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other religions. I also think men have brutally twisted traditions to justify our own ends. Time to untwist our hearts so we can help take care of all God's children. God is love.And now the stage manager is asking me to be quiet.Watt Childress on Jesus as a young Muslim’s spiritual exampleAssalamu 'alaikum, Aamir! Thank you for this beautiful testimony. Sounds like you have long served as a cultural ambassador for Islam, even if you didn’t experience an orthodox upbringing. Bless you for contributing to our community of words.Often the first question raised about Jesus in cross-cultural conversations is what title he should have. Christians commonly use titles like Christ, Messiah, Savior, Lord – basically anything that places him in the central position of cosmic authority. Islam reserves that place for God, yet I’m learning that titles such as Christ and Messiah are used for Jesus by some Muslims.What do these words really mean in our hearts? Theological debates over titles seem hollow if debaters don't put the basic teachings of Jesus into action. Some folks I’ve met who seem to have the clearest grasp of those teachings don’t use any titles for Jesus. Some just say “Jesus is my guy,” or simply call him “friend,” or don't talk about Jesus much at all.Maybe by building cross-cultural friendships, we prepare for his return.Vinny Ferrau on Return to the scene of our baptismWho's the natural poet ? 😉 Nice words man, and thank you for sharing a little of the poems inspiration. I like the current title very much, the idea of returning, being washed anew of the parch and dust of our wayward journeys. I appreciate also the conversation we had yesterday, about the importance of community participating in the fostering of EACH of our creative journeys, be it bricklayer or nanny, cook or poet, words shared can be the sustenance and nectar that allow us to walk, a little further... BlessingsWatt Childress on Return to the scene of our baptismThank you Vinny. It's gratifying to receive encouragement from a natural poet.I woke in the wee hours one morning with the idea of sneaking into an old spring-fed pool -- a sacred spot, once open to creation, that's now fenced off for exclusive religious rituals. The poem's first title was "Splash" because I heard spirit stir in that water. It was a crystal-clear sound that affirmed life's independence from hierarchic fraternal orders. Made me wish I could free the ripples it made in my mind.Still wishing.Vinny Ferrau on What Jesus smells likeTricia, thanks so much for your words, " heart-opening" is one of the highest compliments i could ever receive. 🙂 I think it's almost always why we write, to open ours, and potentially invite others to do the same.. I am grateful for the way the muse moves through you, with artful depth and inspiring introspection, Blessings....Barbara McLaughlin on Forgiveness and LightLorraine,What a heartfelt, well written piece and I so appreciate your sharing it. Your courageous effort helps to connect us in our imperfect humanity. Acceptance (forgiveness), of ours or others' warts and wrinkles is an important journey for all of us. Perhaps one of the most important of all. I used to think that forgiveness was the same as condoning and now I understand that forgiveness is about love and condoning is about judgement. May we all stay as focused as we can on the path of light and love.Vinny Ferrau on What Jesus smells likeRick, you've made a poem of a poem 🙂 I LOVE IT !!!!! Lets keep it going, the madness and the muse, the openness to appreciation. I am grateful, TYVinny Ferrau on Myths and misunderstandingsI've always liked the notion that, when one is secure in their way, they may hear about All ways without being offended, or feeling the need to defend. I love this piece Tricia, it is so Heart-Centric and Deep. I find the need to read it over and over again, marveling at the many pearls that come. So Thank You.The idea that, " the best antidote to a dangerous myth is a healthy myth." and the coaxing of Everyday/Every Moment Consciousness, YES.... It took me sometime to view negative thoughts as fateful opportunities to reseed our minds with fertile, fruitful ones, those that might enrich the Cosmic Garden..I am very grateful for what you have shared.....Vinny Ferrau on Return to the scene of our baptismWatt, this poem is Amazing!!!! Evocative, sacred, syrupy sweet, full of remorse, hope and reflection...What a way to craft a tale of historical hammering and coppery flashing, whose sheen's a glimmer still waiting to shine..Maybe it does shine, as you have so aptly said in "clear dawns when the spring spills calm, birds sing psalms" " beyond man's will to power" I believe man, i believe....Jennifer Childress on Forgiveness and LightThank you for writing this Lorraine. I have many points of connection with your article. My mom used to go to the Abbey when she was living and loved Brother Martin. She had a special connection with Brother Mark as well.Recently I was in the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's office with my step-mother awaiting our appointment when I noticed a beautiful life size statue. I wondered who it was, and wandered over to check her out more closely. It was Kwan Yin! Within days I read your article for the first time and realized more deeply why she would be protecting the space for those who are working through their lives with cancer.I am grateful to know you a little better through the words you've shared with the Upper Left Edge.Vinny Ferrau on Hollywood JesusRick, it's nice to have such esteemed and sacred company in the "weirdo bin" 🙂 Wow, Yes, Pentacostally YES....What if we all dared to live those moments of fear and healing? Stepped beyond our comfort zones and mental noise into the loving embrace of compassion, beyond reproach? I ask myself this question, revisited, thanks to your marvelous sharing....BlessingsWatt Childress on JesusYour poetry and prose hit the mark, Erin. Many Americans talk as if our nation was founded as a New Jerusalem. Yet how do we know what that looks like? Have we ever known a Jerusalem -- metaphorical or otherwise -- that isn't ruled by empire?Jesus went into a Jerusalem controlled by Rome, where imperial power held sway over the city's government, economy, and religious hierarchy. With him he brought a worldview that was steeped in the culture of the surrounding villages and wilderness. As such, his actions and teachings drew from a spiritual taproot that preceded Rome.I bet the religious leaders of Jerusalem at that time did not think of themselves as imperial flunkeys, any more than many Christian leaders in America today. But what Jesus brought to town was utterly different from what the hierarchy had in mind. And in order to preserve their position, they murdered a wonderful brilliant Jew who knew the difference between love and empire.Thank you for re-affirming that difference here, Erin. Bless you for inspiring me to think and write on Easter morning.Vinny Ferrau on Jesus as a young Muslim’s spiritual exampleAamir, i love this piece of verisimilitude. ( i've been dying to use that word all week 🙂 ) Like a slice of life with the Christ wrapped in a beautiful perspective, i am grateful for your words....Thank you.Vinny Ferrau on Encounters with the Jewish JesusOh Margaret, i so love your writing and i so love this piece. " I imagine Jesus as a feistier brother of Buddha", it's honey, pure honey...Thank you for this beautiful perspective and the weaving of your words....Tricia Gates Brown on Jesus as a young Muslim’s spiritual exampleSo happy you contributed this essay, Aamir. With this and your awesome short film, "A Muslim Christmas," you demonstrate well that Jesus appreciation swells beyond the bounds of Christian tradition.Tricia Gates Brown on What Jesus smells likeYour poem is heart-opening and evocative. I adore it--every time I read it. "Love keeps you punched in overtime" is a phrase that I feel at a cellular level in my life right now.Tricia Gates Brown on Myths and misunderstandingsThank you, Watt. It was certainly a pleasure to work on this issue with you, and I too hope we can further the discussion in thought-provoking, fun, and helpful ways.Watt Childress on Encounters with the Jewish JesusWhat a lucid and compelling story!Many of us have been smacked in the face by religious zeal. Sometimes the zealot seems driven by a desire to share their spiritual discoveries. Other times they’ve been trained to recruit converts to a particular faith, or soldier some theological doctrine. Maybe some believers are extroverts who’re prone to leap at any topic that enables them to assert their personalities. The impulse could ride on anything, I suppose -- maybe their favorite rubik’s cube strategies, or the best way to make caramel apples, or the coolest set designs for hobby railroading.Whatever the reason, this habit sucks the air out of our conversations. We need breathing room to kindle real relationships.Here’s a little tale about a turn-around. Recently a customer in Jupiter’s Books started to pick up a new print edition of the Upper Left Edge. Then he saw the cover and backed away. He recounted an experience when some “Jews for Jesus” infiltrated a weekly Talmud study group. When they finally came out, guns blasting, it wasn’t pretty.I encouraged him to read your piece, Margaret, and asked him to please let me know if anything in our paper smacked of that kind of assault on spiritual sensibility. We exchanged some ideas and information, and he bought a book. Hopefully he'll come back to visit the shop, and over time we'll become friends.Watt Childress on Myths and misunderstandingsWell done, Tricia. It’s been a pleasure working with you on the Spring 2015 print edition of the Upper Left Edge. Our little civic endeavor offers a contrast to your experience with the institutional world of publishing. Your title challenge with "Jesus Loves Women" illustrates a dynamic that has hobbled public discourse for at least forty years.The problem is well-summarized in a paraphrase from a book title crafted by Jim Wallis, publisher of "Sojourners Magazine." Basically, when it comes to Jesus, the left doesn’t get it and the right get’s it wrong. Many liberals treat the mere mention of Jesus like critics at a lowbrow art show. At best, patient nods are given before hustling off to venues where real hip insiders maintain a strictly secular protocol. On the other hand, conservatives have largely re-branded Jesus as a law-and-order judge who’s here to separate bleeding-heart sheep from red-meat patriots. His moral teachings have been subverted by saber-rattling and unregulated commerce.Left, right, liberal, conservative -- of course few of us really fit into these boxes. We’re all mixed up, and in need of regeneration. Can we learn to converse about Jesus in the same way we speak of Mahatma Gandhi or Rabbi Hillel -- as a great human being who showed people how to live in community? Hopefully our endeavor here will help move the process along.Rick Bonn on What Jesus smells likeVinny, I so love this poem. Thank you for giving it flight. It surprised and delighted me in print. Now, deep in the night of Maundy Thursday, it has stained my cheeks. Jesus smells like that, like tears and low tides and fresh baked bread. Like fish and strolls on swells but not always swell for us with upset stomachs. Jesus smells like that. The sea and the sand and me wanting him so. And your poem opened that up. Thank you.Rick Bonn on Hollywood JesusI always appreciate your comments, Watt. It has me pondering if the description of Hollywood is much different from where the rest of us live? Thankfully, the Spirit can flourish anywhere because we, while showing the Kingdom of God in us at times, can make any town or environment we inhabit into an image of hell with our untruth and selfishness, can't we? But it's good to hear your affirmation of the dream palace which still CAN make movies that inspire hope. Let's hope they make more.Watt Childress on Hollywood JesusI've always felt there must be a great deal of spirit in Hollywood. How else could my heart be deeply stirred by so many motion pictures? It takes huge teams of inspired and dedicated souls to make good movies.At the same time, I've imagined that living and working in Hollywood must be it's own version of hell -- a glamorous fake set full of cut-throat egotists who kiss or kick people simply to advance their place in the game. How can spirit grow in such environs?Your lovely montage helps show us how. Many thanks!Watt Childress on Adventures with author Charles de LintThank you so much Rod! You are the North Coast's resident expert on Charles de Lint. I'm savoring every step as I journey through his worlds. Readers can be sure I will keep his novels stocked at Jupiter's Books.Tricia Gates Brown on In Search of Sacred Love: A Review of “Jesus Loves Women” by Tricia Gates BrownThank you for the beautiful review, Margaret. You are a soul sister. I thank you for embracing the book so wholeheartedly, and "getting" it. Peace.Gregory Zschomler on Celebrating 60 Years of Disneyland and the Spiritual Undertones of Walt’s KingdomThis just in: New Stuff at Disneyland for the 60th: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-disneyland-60th-anniversary-20150128-story.htmlGregory Zschomler on Celebrating 60 Years of Disneyland and the Spiritual Undertones of Walt’s KingdomThanks for your comments, Rick.. I appreciate your thoughts.Watt Childress on Speech to Neah-Kah-Nie High School National Honors Society: ServiceWish I had a video of Michael’s speech. His earnest words to young leaders were filled with tender fortitude, spoken in a way that clearly resonated with everyone in the room.Our resident musician-educator praised a human trait that’s broadly respected in today’s world. Yet there was a time, not that long ago, when the connection between “service” and “honor” was more narrowly recognized. A hundred years ago, to say someone served with honor was an accolade most likely reserved for wealthy patrons, ruling officials, or soldiers who toted the tragedies of war. We get a glimpse of that time watching the TV drama “Downton Abbey,” wherein footmen and maids speak of how fortunate they are to be “in the service” of aristocratic lords.Social tides are still shifting, after a century of change. The ethic of service continues to expand to celebrate the goodwill of common people, beyond the narrow confines of class or status. By rejoicing in the act of service itself, Michael gives tribute to a vital force that grows at humanity's core.Good words for us all, young and old.Rick Bonn on Celebrating 60 Years of Disneyland and the Spiritual Undertones of Walt’s KingdomGreat article. I only WISH I could go to Disneyland every year for I, too, share your perspective on its spiritual and creative rejuvenation. I can't complain, however. I owned an 'Annual Pass' for several years while living in California. I even spent one year attending twice monthly with my toddler daughter! And that long quote of Disney was revelatory! I've never heard him speak that directly of his faith and perspective on prayer. Thank you for digging it up. How I admire his boldness in not hiding shadows from children and his openness to people of all faiths. Thanks, Mr. Z!Michael Simpson on Facing AbsenceWhat a sweet ending!Michael Simpson on Portland pays an old debt of gratitude to Billy HultsI love this! I wish I could've been there, but this piece (along with my own experiences) helps put me right there in the center!Nancy Slavin on Unmoored Souls: A Review of Moorings by Nancy SlavinMargaret - Thank you so much for this lovely review - I loved the "the primal longing for connection," point, which is part of what I learned in writing Moorings about children who do not know their biological parents (that aspect, by the way, is not my personal experience - that part is actual fiction, researched and imagined). That longing for connection is also the fundamental motivation for why I write anything at all. Your own writing is quite lovely, and I'm honored to see this review in ULE!. Happy 2015.Gregory Zschomler on A Review of “I’m Samson,” Said Sydney by Gregory Zschomler, illustrated by April BullardThank you Margaret for the nice review. I'm glad the two of you enjoyed the book. If you have the time and wouldn't mind wold you post this to Amazon as well. It's easy, just copy, paste, submit. Thanks. Here's the link:http://www.amazon.com/Im-Samson-said-Sydney-Said/dp/149755571X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420922369&sr=8-1&keywords=i%27m+samson+said+sydneyRick Bonn on Christmas for All MankindThank you for the comments, Gregory. I'm glad to find another believer in the parabolic potential of film. The Matrix trilogy is astounding spiritually-speaking. So is the recent Interstellar. I look forward to 'snowballing' religious ruminations across UpperleftEdge with you.Gregory Zschomler on Christmas for All MankindRick, I've not seen this film nor am I likely to do so. Not my cup of tea for several reasons. However, I do like the kind of film that opens one's eyes to questions of faith and the human condition. On occasion I will brave the "content" of an R-rated film and join others for a viewing simply for the possibility of discussion. "Blade Runner" was the first R film that spoke to me in parable. The last one I viewed was "The Matrix" (series) for that purpose. Engaging culture is not always "safe" or comfortable, but Jesus calls us to be IN the world and not OF it. The balance is an individual calling. Thanks for sharing.Watt Childress on Politics and Generation YThanks for this excellent piece of writing, Tevan. Seems like just yesterday your dad and I played proud papas of cute pre-teen progeny in Fiddler on the Roof. Now you’re in college, for heaven's sake, launching yourselves into the world!Modern tradition divides society into age-groups, each with our own tendencies that are presumably shaped by respective birth rates, acquisition of new gadgets, economic prospects, and our formative exposure to headline news. My own transition into young adulthood occurred during the late 70s/early 80s, when the generational spotlight was still focused on folks who came of age during the 60s. The baby boomers were a tough act to follow, in part because they kept playing center stage. But it was gratifying to sample their elder counterculture, especially their music. Between '78 and '81 I acquired an impressive collection of vintage Donovan albums.Sure, I listened to new stuff too. Not Loverboy, no. Some punk, here and there, and often I smiled at new wave. In college I became enthralled with art-house aces like David Byrne and Laurie Anderson (both boomers, by the way).A decade later some of my cohorts felt ready for some reason to release our own generational label. The 90s were going to turn the 60s upside down, or so we heard, and society needed a fresh post-boomer brand name. The need was filled by way of Douglas Coupland's novel “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.” As the Gen X label started to stick in the media it was lifted by Kurt Vonnegut to make a point that's as cogent now as it was then."Now you young twerps want a new name for your generation?” asked G.I. Kurt during a 1994 commencement speech at Syracuse University. “Probably not, you just want jobs, right? Well, the media do us all such tremendous favors when they call you Generation X, right? Two clicks from the very end of the alphabet. I hereby declare you Generation A, as much at the beginning of a series of astonishing triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago."I yearn to be part of a Multi-Gen movement that prevents humanity's global fail, steers us away from the abyss, back toward Eden. Here’s a fiddle tune to coax us forth, straight from the heart of my freshman dorm.Roan Childress on Facing AbsenceI'm glad you enjoyed my piece! To answer your question: this was simply a school assignment. I may come back to it at some point, but for the time being, it's a short story.Dorothy in Seattle on Facing AbsenceRoan, I loved your story. You pulled me in right away, so that I wanted to know more about each person and wanted to read what was coming next. It was a moving story. Your descriptions were engaging and brought me pictures of the people and situations -- your personal knowledge of Paris brought added color! I'd read your writing any time.Jodi on Facing AbsenceRoan, I agree with Rabbi Bob that this story is like a pincushion, bristling with potential for a novel. Yet it also stands alone as a complete narrative -- with vivid characters, a convincing setting and evocation of the past, an interesting problem, and significant growth in the protagonist -- all in a remarkably small nest of well-chosen words. You've got the mojo, Roan! All I can say is keep writing because that's what real writers do. Plus, selfishly, I'd like to read more.Rabbi Bob on Facing AbsenceGreat story, Roan!! Give us some context - is this a chapter in a book, a short story, something exclusively for the Edge, or part of a larger project? Whatever the context, I hope you continue to post your writing. I'm eager to hear what happens next in this story!