Posted by: Roger Vincent Jasaitis | 06/23/2015

CHARLESTON SOLIDARITY VIGIL and CONVERSATION on RACE IN AMERICA

Sunset Rainbow, photo by Roger Vincent Jasaitis, RVJart.com, Copyright 2015

CHARLESTON SOLIDARITY VIGIL and CONVERSATION on RACE IN AMERICA

Centre Congregational Church, 193 Main St., Brattleboro, VT

Wednesday, July 1 @ 5:30 pm

All are welcome. We will honor the lives and memory of the nine people who were murdered at Immanuel AME Zion Church in Charleston, SC. Rev. Bert Marshall, interim minister at Centre Church, will facilitate a conversation on race in America. All thoughtful viewpoints, presented with regard for everyone, will be respected. Afterward, those who are interested will walk up to Brooks Memorial Library for the Frederick Douglass reading at 7:00 pm. Call 802-254-4730 for more information.

Posted by: Roger Vincent Jasaitis | 06/16/2015

New England Yearly Meeting Sessions Registration Open!

DEAR FRIENDS,

Online Registration for NEYM Sessions 2015 is now open!unnamed-2
Click here to register

We look forward to welcoming you to the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends’ 355th Annual Sessions in Castleton, VT, August 16, 2015. Our theme this year is: Living Into Covenant Community.

For more information, visit neym.org/sessions.

in faith and service,
Kathleen Wooten
Events Coordinator
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends
(781) 640-1269
events@neym.org

Posted by: Roger Vincent Jasaitis | 06/11/2015

Stop the Gun Riders!

Friends, GunsenseVT

First of all, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who made it out to our celebration this past weekend. It was fabulous to see everyone, celebrate our accomplishments and look forward to our next steps as a growing and influential grassroots movement for commonsense gun laws in Vermont.While our work has primarily been focused on Vermont-based policies, I am also writing to bring your attention to something that is happening in the US Senate right now.

Recently, the House of Representatives approved their version of their CJS Appropriations Act for FY2016 (H.R. 2578).  In the process, 11 so-called “gun riders” were added to their bill, and today, the Senate Appropriations Committee is taking up this piece of legislation.

If approved, the riders would:

  • Terminate the long gun reporting program which the ATF is using to prevent gun trafficking in those four states bordering Mexico.
  • Prevent the ATF from regulating dangerous armor piercing ammunition.
  • Prevent the ATF from strengthening the regulations on gun trusts so that local law enforcement can determine who in their communities is able to obtain fully automatic machine guns.
  • Reinstate a program ended by Congress over 20 years ago that allows formerly convicted violent felons to obtain dangerous firearms.

These gun-related riders have been added to the House legislation without open debate. Unless the Senate hears from you, these dangerous provisions will make it into the final version of the law, threatening community safety, here and around the country. We need to make it easier, not harder, for the ATF to do its job!

Our colleagues at the Center for American Progress and the States United to Prevent Gun Violence have made it easy for GunSenseVT supporters to speak up on this issue — particularly since Senator Leahy is a key member on the Appropriations Committee that is considering this bill. Simply contact Senator Leahy using this form and ask him NOT to include these bad gun riders in their CJS bill. These riders will only benefit criminals while tying the hands of law enforcement trying to reduce gun violence.

Thanks for taking a minute to speak out on this important subject. I hope you are enjoying this beautiful early summer weather!

Ann

GunSenseVT · PO Box 2533, Brattleboro, VT 05303, United States
Posted by: Roger Vincent Jasaitis | 06/10/2015

Meet Hubert J Hirwa

Friends,Hirwa

Brattleboro Worship Group with the support of Putney Meeting has provided support to Hubert J Hirwa to attend SIT.  He is now here in Brattleboro.  HIs study was sponsored by the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams..   He is currently working in Rwanda.

El Dearborn, Clerk of Ministry & Counsel Committee, has invited Hirwa to lunch at the Meeting House Wednesday June 10th. Anyone available is welcome to join them at about 1 pm.

He will also speak to Meeting at the rise of late Meeting, this Sunday, June 14th.

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about his work in Africa.

To find out more go to; African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams

Posted by: Roger Vincent Jasaitis | 05/27/2015

“And They Lynched Him on a Tree” a documentary film

 

LynchedPosterV5Dear Friends,

I wanted to let you know that my documentary film will be shown at the Putney School this coming Sunday Evening at 7:30.

The film is made up of interviews with white and black performers of the William Grant Still piece “And They Lynched Him on a Tree” (composed

in 1940) which tells the story of an already convicted black man who was lynched by a white mob

for whom justice was too slow. The white chorus sings the part of the lynchers and the black chorus sings the pats of the lynchees.

Despite the graphic poster, no violent imagery is included.  Embodying the lyrics

through singing brings the experience of the story (and our shared history) home in a very visceral way and forms the foundation from which

the interviews were drawn. I was interested in how this experience might be different for the performers from reading about this aspect of

our history or seeing it portrayed in dramatic films and what deeper reflection it might inspire.

In the time between when the performance of the piece was first conceived a year ago by

Cailin Manson, the choral director, and the time it was performed (Martin Luther King day this year) the

endless news of police shootings colored much of what was said in the interviews.

It has a dramatic arc, interspersed with rehearsal clips and final performance and has much to give us hope

that further dialog might be possible. (51 minutes)

Hope to see you there-

christopher

 

Posted by: Roger Vincent Jasaitis | 05/20/2015

Memorial Day Meeting for Worship

Dear Friends,

Clover, photo by Nancy Jane Lang, copyright 2015For the past few years, we have honored Memorial Day with a Meeting for remembrance of friends and family. The Meeting will take place  4 – 5 pm, May 25th at the Meeting house.  Francie Marbury will anchor this Meeting, worship sharing time.

Please join us.

Posted by: Roger Vincent Jasaitis | 05/11/2015

Use your words not your teeth

The Day's Eye, photo by Roger Vincent Jasaitis, RVJart.com, Copyright 2013Right after the deciding vote in the Vermont House on public safety bill,S.141, I hopped on a jet for a weekend training in Tucson, Az. at the National Institute for Civil Discourse(NICD). The legislation that restricts firearms possession for violent felons and mentally ill individuals adjudicated as a threat, was on it’s way to passage, and I was on my way to join a small group of state legislators from across the US, to look at ways to promote more civil discourse.

Even before the shooting of US Rep. Gabby Gifford, in Tucson, the NICD, housed at Arizona State University, had begun efforts to bring more civility to public discourse. Rep. Gifford’s shooting galvanized those efforts.

Tragic shootings like Tucson’s or  Newtown,Ct, are not entirely why I voted for S.141, but it was part of my reasoning. I agree with the many who felt we can’t wait to address a changing national and state landscape. A landscape where Elie Wiesel’s words , “When our language fails us, violence becomes our language”, were becoming all too accurately prophetic. It was time to take a stand and do something.

It’s also time nationally, to take a stand, and act on the belief that civil discourse was becoming less and less prevalent. This is a threat to the the heart of our democracy ( or our republic version ) at a time when our democracy would do well to take an evolutionary step forward.

Civil process to address conflict ,even acutely sharp conflict, are a prime function of
government and our justice system. Yet, from sitting members of Congress calling our President a liar during his State of the Union to online bullying, heightened rhetoric has shaken our sense that conflict can still be addressed in productive ways.

The group that gathered in Tucson, was selected to be geographically and politically
diverse. East, West, North and South were represented, as were the two major national parties, and left, right and center of each. What we had in common was the shared belief that the status quo needed improvement.

As we got to know and share with each other, it was fascinating to hear what was going on around the country. In much of the West and Southwest, drought and water shortages are growing more acute. Water in Colorado feeds several of the states in that area and until this year, interstate water agreements precluded Colorado residents from collecting the rain water falling from their own roof. A bill passed this year now allows that, but the concern is other states will challenge it in the courts.
Minnesotans are equally challenged as we are in Vermont, to grow their telecom/ broadband infrastructure out into rural areas. And, in West Virginia, a legislator shared passage of a bill that can provide school children with three meals a day to address childhood hunger.
What I shared about Vermont, are stories are of civil debates on budgets at Town meeting, or whether to buy a new fire truck. However, on issues like Civil Unions/ Marriage Equality, and updating public safety laws around guns, the rhetoric can sometimes turn ugly. In most instances, we practice using our voices, and our ears, as well as our hearts and minds. In those other instances, though, sometimes the rhetoric can get away from us.

Alongside the issues, and the desire to do better, we also shared the sense that we are acting as a counterculture response to the status quo. A status quo we also agreed, that was fostered significantly by a media, hungry for sensation, as well as party affiliation that can get stuck beyond practical purposes.

While many decry the negativity in our social and political discourse, fact is, it can work. And, as any traveling salesman will tell you, as long as folks are buying, they’ll keep selling.

Challenging the political status quo and the media are daunting tasks, but we are convinced if the escalation of rhetoric continues, our political system is unsustainable. (An example of media skewing a story is how the local Tucson TV station featured our workshop, with the storyline, “Political Dysfunction!”). Bottom line is, we feel we can better get our work done for the American people without getting stuck on personalities, polemics and sensationalism.

So what does more civil discourse look like?
Here in Vermont, I remember stories of our own Republican Senator, the late George Aiken and his daily breakfasts with Democratic Sen. Mike Mansfield of Montana. That simple act of breaking bread can go far in bridging political divides. As important though, are opportunities to share our personal stories. As the old adage goes, the quickest way to build a bridge between two people is to share your stories. And, indeed, it works.

Our stories of struggle and triumph reveal our common humanity and can stop the demonizing of the “unknown other”. Whether it’s a difference because of race, color, creed or political persuasion, we are the same species and our survival depends on getting along better than we have.

Civil discourse doesn’t mean we agree on everything but that if we disagree, it isn’t taken as a threat to our very being. It’s also having both sides of an issue accept that disagreement doesn’t mean the other side isn’t listening – they just don’t agree.

Whether we think taxes should be raised or cut, we would do well to accept that both
perspectives rise up from a place of belief of what’s best for the state or nation.

We’re losing that sense. Left, right, conservative or liberal, our fears and labels are getting us stuck in place and are limiting our vision of helping our nation continue to evolve. Of being able to “see beyond our own backyard”.

We don’t have to let go of our core values or beliefs to accept another way of thinking. In the political arena, if compromise is needed to move an idea forward or
even part of an idea, it can be worth it. From my perspective, the key is helping things move forward and not staying stuck.
Now, those efforts to nurture the foundation of our nation and return civil discourse in the public arena are being organized by Tucson’s NICD (along with other groups in the US such as No Label). 26 State legislators, from around the country (including myself) have now been trained to offer workshops at state legislatures on keeping it civil. We will meet with seemingly disparate groups to sit, talk, break bread and share our stories about our common humanity. Finding common ground and appealing to ,as Lincoln stated, “…the better angels of our nature”, we will also remember our common love for democracy and this great experiment in democratic principles.

We can also put into practice the lesson I learned from the kindergartner I spoke with at a recent school visit. He shared that a practical lesson for the day he learned was, “Use your words not your teeth.” A good lesson for all of us, especially in the political arena.

Warts and all, I believe these United States still hold the greatest hope for how to move forward, in a civilized manner, into the 21st century. The NICD is laying out the intention and practice for how we can do better, starting at the state legislature
level and hopefully, feeding upwards to the US Capitol.

With those intentions and subsequent practice of these ideals, we can hold fast in the belief that democracy is still the best hope for the future. And, that civil discourse is at the heart of that path forward.

For more info about the National Institute for Civil Discourse, check out their website:
www.nicd.arizona.edu

Mike Mrowicki
Vermont State Representative
Windham4 District- Putney, Dummerston, Westminster
www.windham4.net      mmrowicki@leg.state.vt.us

Posted by: Roger Vincent Jasaitis | 05/06/2015

Friends of Woolman Hill

Hello Woolman Hill friends!

The Baltimore orioles are back in the maple trees, the pear trees have just begun blooming, and the daffodils are still holding forth. Spring is in full bloom!image003

As many of you may already have heard, Woolman Hill lost our dear friend and long-time Hill resident, Juanita Nelson, in March. At the end of this month there are opportunities to celebrate her powerful and inspiring life. More information about those opportunities and about Juanita can be found here: http://woolmanhill.org/2015/05/02/celebrating-juanita-nelson/.

It seems fitting, in conjunction with Juanita, to mention opportunities for joining efforts on three upcoming Woolman Hill volunteer workdays. We’d love your company and extra elbow grease on May 6, May 20 and/or June 20. There’s more information here:

http://woolmanhill.org/volunteering/.

The glory of spring will soon be turning into the abundance of summer… And the Hill has its own special beauty in each season… Come experience it for yourself… As always we welcome you for individual retreats, programs, group gatherings, midweek worship, or just a leisurely walk on the Ridge Trail…

Hope to see you here on the Hill soon!
Margaret

Margaret Cooley

Executive Director

Woolman Hill Quaker Retreat Center

107 Keets Rd, Deerfield MA 01342

413-774-3431

margaret@woolmanhill.org

www.woolmanhill.org

www.Facebook.com/WoolmanHill

Posted by: Roger Vincent Jasaitis | 04/30/2015

How to Help in Nepal

Greetings Friends,

Many of us would like to help the folks in Nepal, and are wondering just how best to do it???

Coincident to the earthquakes, there happened to be members of Friends Peace Teams running Alternatives to Violence Workshops (AVP) as the earthquakes were occurring.   I’ve been copied on several messages from an AVP acquaintance John Michaelis, a very active AVP facilitator from Australia , who was on the 5th floor of a shaking building when the quakes were occurring.  Fortunately he and the workshop participants were not injured.   John has been sending daily reports of the devastation and conditions in Katmandu.  John and others were scheduled to fly home last week, but are now dedicated to staying to offer whatever assistance they can.

The message below outlines the need.  While we individually may not be in a position to personally participate in relief efforts, Contributions to Friends Peace Teams http://www.fpt-awp.org/ are greatly needed and are a way in which Quakers and others might be able to directly help.  The lower right of their web page outlines ways of donating.

Peace

Alan Taplow Nepal


Below is the most recent communication from John:

I am still in Kathmandu where Subhash and I have been struggling to find most effective way Friends Peace Teams Asia West Pacific might further respond to the ongoing tragedy here.
We have discussed four different approaches:

  1. Choosing one badly damaged community that is disadvantaged such as an Untouchable or Dalit caste village or region, send volunteers there with immediately needed support such as food, water, clothing and materials for temporary shelter.
  2. Offering psycho-social counselling using AVP facilitators and others here who have that training..
  3. Providing support for finding homes for orphans
  4. Using our trained facilitators to offer Trauma Workshops for the many who have been traumatised.

After discussion we have narrowed our recommended focus to 1, 2, and 4. While the need for psycho-social counselling is real, it is relatively expensive because it is a one-on-one process. Trauma workshops on the other hand are effective and reach many participants. We have previously held trauma workshops in Nepal and have a number of trained facilitators here.
Supporting a community is the most urgent and we would like to act on this immediately. If funds are pledged we have limited money available in Nepal from concerned individuals so we can begin before the money transferred to Nepal.
We spoke today to Ram Paudel, one of our AVP lead facilitators and the the executive director of Children Nepal, our partner in the Pokhara district of Nepal. For the past twenty years, a primary mission of theirs has been to find new families for orphaned children . They target a maximum of three months to find permanent homes for each child.
Trauma workshops are cost effective although we must compensate facilitators for time and travel because they must take leave to go to the areas of need.Â
As we better understand the most immediate needs we may need to adapt to accommodate new information.
The life changing work done here and the relationships established in the past two months has been effective and greatly affirmed and appreciated and must continue. We will report separately on these events. We pray that the urgent support need for the earthquake tragedy does not detract from this.
We hope the need here will lead to significant empathy and financial support.
We would welcome your thoughts and suggestions a.s.a.p. If our approach is affirmed by FPT-AWPÂ we will send out letters outlining the need as soon as we can.
In friendship:

Subhash and John in Kathmandu

Subhash Kattel
John Michaelis
FPT-AWP Coordinators

Posted by: Roger Vincent Jasaitis | 04/26/2015

Community Conversation on Homelessness

Homelessness-Community Conversation 042315

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