Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Yet while love is experienced very differently, there is a consistent, common, connected constant. Attention. Where there is love, there is attention. The true lover of humanity has no choice but to see the disheveled vet on the street and the hollowed-out eyes of the homeless....the smog that hovers over all will sear both the eyes and the hearts of those who love the earth....while undetectable by many, an child's painful whimper is becomes a screech in the ears of loving mothers....and, unbeckoned, caring clans know when one of their own needs a hand, a conversation, an ear.
I pray for so much and so many! For myself, I pray for a sound mind and reasonable health. But most of all, I pray that I will love all those that I should and, even more, those who would lay claim for my attention. Who need to be seen. Heard. Felt. Encouraged. I pray for the patience and focus and perception and stillness and commitment...to pay attention. To love.
Here's wishing you an attentive holiday season!
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
As an organization of member foundations, SECF has to determine when and how we best communicate the vital role of philanthropy in society. How much do our members know, want to know or need to know about policies affecting our sector? How do we build critical, sustainable relationships with executive and legislative branches of government? How do we think and speak and act in a way that honors our members' interests and intent? How do we present distinct and sometimes opposing member perspectives on issues that affect the communities we are committed to serve?
Not unlike the topic of religion, policy conversations -public action, advocacy, politics - make the hairs on the back of our neck go up. Yet as individual foundations and as a cohort, can we afford not to have them? Can we authentically claim to seek a better society without understanding, deliberating, debating and engaging in how that society functions?
If you believe the conversations are necessary, there's no time better to begin than now. What do you think?
Saturday, October 29, 2011
For the past five years, I have served on the board of the Southeatern Council on Foundations (SECF) a membership organization of more than 350 private, corporate, family and community foundations in eleven states. I confess that I took on this role hesitantly...after 21 years in Georgia and six at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, I had chosen to have limited exposure and connection to the larger region, more comfortable dashing across the world from Hartsfield-Jackson than taking a road trip. I claimed southern roots through both my parents who migrated from their birthplace in south Georgia to the north in the 1940’s. Yet I knew in my heart my move to metro Atlanta was less about returning home and more a choice to move to what was then dubbed "The Black Mecca".
Weather lore has it that "When the wind is blowing in the South, it brings food over the fish's mouth". I've given a lot of thought to this sentiment as I've passed the quarter century mark in my new home and finally branched out into the region, a journey that I have taken in tandem with SECF. In 2006, I stepped into a boardroom filled with folks from our southern states...folks who loved their communities. I felt truly an outsider. As I’ve shared, I am more city than country.
Secondly, all were CEOs and so, despite being senior staff of one of the biggest community foundations in the country and managing many and assets, much of my reality and experience was different. Third, I am an African American woman, at that time one of two on the board, and while Atlanta may have been my "Mecca", the south's formal philanthropic sector was not. I confess, I couldn't figure out what I could offer this group nor what they could give me.
Yet as I look forward to gathering on Amelia Island in November for SECF’s annual conference, "Celebrating Wisdom, Demonstrating Value, Cultivating Hope", I know that, as the southeasterly wind feeds the fish, my SECF experience has fed me. Another quote by the timeless Seuss, summarizes it perfectly,
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too."
I've seen places. I've seen closed rubber plants whose owners, long gone, still support the local community. I've seen hurricanes strike beaches at night and residents cleaning and repairing by the time the sun rises. I’ve watched ducks march in line and boogied to blues til midnight. I’ve shuddered, feeling the ghosts of my ancestors in renovated plantations and shared hot tea and biscuits with colleagues who have grown dear. I’ve come to love beignets, dry rub, crepe myrtle, wide spaces, green pastures, majestic mounts and washboards that turn into musical instruments. I’ve run past painful statues of black jockeys and given standing ovations to talented, gutsy kids from “the other side of the track”. But, most of all, even despite its resistant and oft frustrating cling to the familiar and fear of the new, I’ve come to love the resilience and grace and potential of the South.
In short, I’ve grown. And so has SECF. With each year and each other we are becoming smarter, more effective, more relevant. We are listening to our constituents – those who have been with us for decades and those whose attention we have drawn – as we seek to cultivate and embrace the huge power of philanthropy to make a difference in our shared space of this big country. To collectively create a stronger, better region in which everyone can thrive.
To feed the fish.
Look forward to seeing you next week!
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Most of us are familiar with the wisdom, "It takes a village to raise a child". For Atlanta in this time and this place, this requires our understanding that public schools are, indeed, our schools. They do not belong to the superintendent, elected officials, or even parents. They belong to the community. Right now, kids are hurting, parents are worried, civic leadership is embarrassed, teachers are scared, funders are concerned, and the broader community is dismayed. The scandal is being discussed all over the community in groups as small as 2 and as large as the number of "friends" or re-tweets possible. And many of these are atypical stakeholders, reflecting the city's changing demographics, and they are linking via ever-expanding social media networks. Many are teachers. Many are students.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
|Shrimp Plant--attracts Hummingbirds :-)!!|
|Veggies-tomatoes, peppers, cumcumbers and strawberries|
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Although I signed up for Facebook (two pages), Twitter, and LinkedIN, and started a blog on Blogger, probably not surprisingly,
my personal Facebook page has been the most accessible and is where I most interact. It's been fascinating: an international society page; inter/intra cultural forum; motivational seminar; newsroom; classroom; want/help/complaint resource; concert; comedy show (staged and impromptu); high school, college and family reunion; therapy; prayer service and more... all in one convenient click.
Truly, I have not yet figured out who i am in in this world nor how important it is that I do. However while going through some old emails sent by helpful colleagues as i embarked on this quest. One in particular- The 12 Most Annoying Types of Facebookers (http://articles.cnn.com/2009-08-20/tech/annoying.facebook.updaters_1_facebook-users-friend-online-social-networks?_s=PM:TECH) may be "old" news to many but as a newbie, I resonate with the descriptions, and have seen in myself more than one type.
Ouch! Can anyone else relate?
(CNN) -- Facebook, for better or worse, is like being at a big party with all your friends, family, acquaintances and co-workers. Facebook can be a great tool, and an occasional annoyance. What kind of Facebooker are you?
There are lots of fun, interesting people you're happy to talk to when they stroll up. Then there are the other people, the ones who make you cringe when you see them coming. This article is about those people.
Sure, Facebook can be a great tool for keeping up with folks who are important to you. Take the status update, the 160-character message that users post in response to the question, "What's on your mind?" An artful, witty or newsy status update is a pleasure -- a real-time, tiny window into a friend's life.
But far more posts read like navel-gazing diary entries, or worse, spam. A recent study categorized 40 percent of Twitter tweets as "pointless babble," and it wouldn't be surprising if updates on Facebook, still a fast-growing social network, break down in a similar way. Take a CNN quiz: What kind of Facebooker are you? »
Combine dull status updates with shameless self-promoters, "friend-padders" and that friend of a friend who sends you quizzes every day, and Facebook becomes a daily reminder of why some people can get on your nerves. Watch as Facebookers reveal bugbears »
Here are 12 of the most annoying types of Facebook users:
The Let-Me-Tell-You-Every-Detail-of-My-Day Bore. "I'm waking up." "I had Wheaties for breakfast." "I'm bored at work." "I'm stuck in traffic." You're kidding! How fascinating! No moment is too mundane for some people to broadcast unsolicited to the world. Just because you have 432 Facebook friends doesn't mean we all want to know when you're waiting for the bus.
The Self-Promoter. OK, so we've probably all posted at least once about some achievement. And sure, maybe your friends really do want to read the fascinating article you wrote about beet farming. But when almost EVERY update is a link to your blog, your poetry reading, your 10k results or your art show, you sound like a bragger or a self-centered careerist.
The Friend-Padder. The average Facebook user has 120 friends on the site. Schmoozers and social butterflies -- you know, the ones who make lifelong pals on the subway -- might reasonably have 300 or 400. But 1,000 "friends?" Unless you're George Clooney or just won the lottery, no one has that many. That's just showing off.
The Town Crier. "Michael Jackson is dead!!!" You heard it from me first! Me, and the 213,000 other people who all saw it on TMZ. These Matt Drudge wannabes are the reason many of us learn of breaking news not from TV or news sites but from online social networks. In their rush to trumpet the news, these people also spread rumors, half-truths and innuendo. No, Jeff Goldblum did not plunge to his death from a New Zealand cliff.
The TMIer. "Brad is heading to Walgreens to buy something for these pesky hemorrhoids." Boundaries of privacy and decorum don't seem to exist for these too-much-information updaters, who unabashedly offer up details about their sex lives, marital troubles and bodily functions. Thanks for sharing.
The Bad Grammarian. "So sad about Fara Fauset but Im so gladd its friday yippe". Yes, I know the punctuation rules are different in the digital world. And, no, no one likes a spelling-Nazi schoolmarm. But you sound like a moron.
The Sympathy-Baiter. "Barbara is feeling sad today." "Man, am I glad that's over." "Jim could really use some good news about now." Like anglers hunting for fish, these sad sacks cast out their hooks -- baited with vague tales of woe -- in the hopes of landing concerned responses. Genuine bad news is one thing, but these manipulative posts are just pleas for attention.
The Lurker. The Peeping Toms of Facebook, these voyeurs are too cautious, or maybe too lazy, to update their status or write on your wall. But once in a while, you'll be talking to them and they'll mention something you posted, so you know they're on your page, hiding in the shadows. It's just a little creepy.
The Crank. These curmudgeons, like the trolls who spew hate in blog comments, never met something they couldn't complain about. "Carl isn't really that impressed with idiots who don't realize how idiotic they are." [Actual status update.] Keep spreading the love.
The Paparazzo. Ever visit your Facebook page and discover that someone's posted a photo of you from last weekend's party -- a photo you didn't authorize and haven't even seen? You'd really rather not have to explain to your mom why you were leering like a drunken hyena and French-kissing a bottle of Jagermeister.
The Obscurist. "If not now then when?" "You'll see..." "Grist for the mill." "John is, small world." "Dave thought he was immune, but no. No, he is not." [Actual status updates, all.] Sorry, but you're not being mysterious -- just nonsensical.
The Chronic Inviter. "Support my cause. Sign my petition. Play Mafia Wars with me. Which 'Star Trek' character are you? Here are the 'Top 5 cars I have personally owned.' Here are '25 Things About Me.' Here's a drink. What drink are you? We're related! I took the 'What President Are You?' quiz and found out I'm Millard Fillmore! What president are you?"
You probably mean well, but stop. Just stop. I don't care what president I am -- can't we simply be friends? Now excuse me while I go post the link to this story on my Facebook page.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
So I took off to a foreign land with a foreign tongue -- and my lack of Spanish and limited knowledge of the country did indeed keep me on the periphery. All people knew of me was my willingness to help-carry, type, serve-accompanied by an omnipresent smile (BTW this "condition" may have finally been cured: having never hung out in the jungle before, I ate quite a few bugs before learning to keep my mouth shut!).
I went into this experience trusting anonymity would bring me quiet and invisibility, freeing me from the responsibility to join the crowd without a need to avoid the crowd. I learned that when anonymity is a choice it is a right and an opportunity.
I was struck by the clarity of perspective and perception that I experienced as an anonymous voyeur. I gained heightened meaning from tones, physical gestures and actions. I became a relentless observer. I laughed, not because I got the joke, but because I wanted to be in on the fun. My humanity had to be expressed through my eyes and touch. I intuited and synchronized my moods to those around me. I noticed much more quickly who was in pain...who had got beautiful eyes...who led and who was being led.
I recognized the attitude of adolescence worldwide and the grace that comes with age. I inhaled weird smells, notice interesting foliage and hear strange sounds. I got to know - and if I was lucky, understand - my own thoughts. All of this I was able to share via my blogs, even as I struggled to articulate in person.
Being anonymous also meant that no one missed me when I was not there; my inclusion and input were not germane. I saw how, if anonymity were not a choice, its evil underside can be isolation and illegitimacy.
I guess you might think that I could have gained this clarity and perspective without going to Central America. You're right.
I guess you might remind me that in every room there is always an anonymous person who's thinking and feeling and watching much as I have described. Again you would be right.
I guess you can tell that I have gotten used to being known and am usually somewhere near the center of things. You're right. Yet I knew that right here, right now in my life, I needed to experience the realities of silence and obscurity. I needed to be on the sidelines.
I'm home now, rested and grateful. These lessons were poignant, and with the help of my friends, I hope to remember them. And to always look -- and look out for -- the anonymous among us.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
and earth and of course that's where vision lives.
All good stuff.
Today, flying home from Nicaragua, I can't wait to get to just 10,000 feet so that i can pull out my IPAD and play (you see at 10,000 Delta offers wireless internet). At 7000 feet its beautiful looking down. At 9000 the ground's getting hazy. And by the time we reach 10K, I can't see a thing but clouds. It makes me realize that the flaw in this analogy is that we can be as sightless in the big picture as we can be on the ground. The key is actually the balance- between theory and practice; thought and work.
This is a great challenge in the world of formal philanthropy (grantmaking foundations) because with some exceptions, we aren't the ones who ever practice the work. So we have to deliberately put ourselves into situations that expose us to real world, on the ground work- and in settings other than when we are invited to a presentation/site visit or for the ¨privileged few¨we invite in.
While this takes effort, it's necessary. At 30,000 feet, we miss the dynamic realities of the people and places we exist to help. We become satiated with our comfortable seats (its no coincidence they call it "cruising altitude"). We relax. We forget. We fall asleep. Our communities can't afford philanthropic institutions to develop solutions and hypotheses for scenarios we can't see, hear, or experience. It's unrealistic and can lead to elitism at best and at
it's worst, sloth. And it can damage.
So while thinking big picture, let's stay grounded. If we want to make a difference, it's the best seat in the house.