I am grateful for the goodness in people’s hearts. I pray that we have the strength to see each other and that love and respect for life motivates bold and courageous action. May we experience the power of large numbers of people acting from a place of love and protection.
An Evening of Poetry, Music and The Spoken Word at The White House May 12, 2009.
“We’re here to celebrate the power of words and music to help us appreciate beauty and also to understand pain. To inspire us to action and to spur us on when we start to lose hope.” President Obama tells the crowd as he opens the evening.
“It is one thing for people to tell their stories in their own spaces and quite another for those stories to be welcomed in this space. Barack is president today because many people who thought their voices didn’t matter or wouldn’t be heard decided to show up on election day and vote anyway.” Michelle Obama
“Abuela, how did you pray before someone told you who your god should be? How did you hold the earth in your hands and thank her for it’s fecundity? Did the sea wash away your sadness? How did you humble yourself before your architect? Did you lower yourself to your knees or rock to the rhythm of ocean waves like I do? “
“To be able to go in the White House and to represent my grandmother and my ancestors, it really means a lot. It’s a generation of women that don’t often get heard, you know, these old Puerto Rican women that no one ever really thinks about. To be able to use my voice to represent them on this kind of platform is really powerful.” Mayda del Valle
- I was participating in Seattle’s Martin Luther King, Jr., March and Rally this year with some of the faculty, students and parents from the school I work at. During the march one of our first graders looked up at me and said, “Oh, I know why you’re here today, Ashley.” “Why?” I asked. “Because this is all about friendship… and you’re the friendship teacher.”
(fyi: I host Friendship Groups, a class that all the students in the class participate in just like math or reading. The aim is to help students deepen their ability to connect with and understand themselves and others. It’s all about friendship… with ourselves, others and the world around us!)
- During Obama’s presidential inauguration Rev. Joseph Lowery was talking about love,
“And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.”
I looked in front of me as a Kindergartner was staring down at his little hands, shaping them into a heart. That image summed up where my hope for our future lies… in love.
- After the inauguration we hosted an Open Space with the 3rd graders. One child’s closing remarks, “I learned that when everyone pitches in just a little bit, it can make a giant difference.”
- Words of wisdom that a 2nd grader told me over lunch one day that I am practicing and trying to better embody, “Just listen until your mind gets deeper and then you’ll understand.”
I am so grateful for all the gifts that are bestowed upon me by these wise humans who are so willing to share their world.
The spirits of the civil rights movement–and movements for social justice everywhere–were with Obama on this historic Inauguration Day. Artist John Mavroudis imagines the occasion –one witnessed not in flesh and blood, but in the bonds of justice and peace.
The historical figures that helped make Obama’s inauguration possible. The site includes a key to who all the people are. This is really remarkable… and I’ve got some learning to do about who many of these people are. I’m just a typical white girl with a long way to go.
And a beautifully touching video by Amy Dixon-Kolar:
I feel blessed and thankful to live a life that includes so many opportunities to be inspired. On January 20th, 2009 after President Obama’s Inauguration Ceremony I had the opportunity to spend my day hosting 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders in Open Space.
The idea was birthed in a planning committee with 3 third grade students. They decided the questions that would guide the our time together:
What is something that you think is important
in our school or in our world that you would like to discuss?
The planning committee opened the space with a poem and a story.
The opening poem by Mila Kopp:
Once you get older it’s harder for people to change your mind so you’re not as much of a help to the community when they’re trying to think of something to do or when something’s wrong and they need help and are deciding what to do. For instance, with my grandfather, it’s really hard for people to change his mind because he just thinks one thing is right and if something else is right and someone tells him, because he’s older, it’s a lot harder to change his mind and it might not even happen.
You can read more about the topics they discussed, their notes, and their closing remarks at Educating For Wholeness.
Here are a few of my favorite comments:
- STOP Globle Warming (happy voice) in ten years (Deep Voice)
- make a complante to the president
- Invent vical that runs on trash or sun, rain
- Nicely tell others to be nice
- Help stop war by traiding reciorses
- If you are shy talk
- If you are a chatterbox let others have a chance to speak
- I agree with (another student) that you don’t need that many people, you only need like 5, you don’t need like 15 or 20 or 50. You don’t need huge numbers like that.
- I learned that when everyone pitches in just a little bit, it can make a giant difference.
- I discovered how pollution can make the air dirty and hurt people and animals
- I discovered a lot of people have ideas too.
- I discovered that once you think about it, there is a lot more waste
- I learned it can actually be pretty fun to work with other people
- Teacher: I learned that you all can have important conversations by yourselves and that you don’t need the adults there. I also learned that you can self-organize what you want to talk about.
- I discovered there is a lot of things to change and like President Obama, we should start.
A comment I left at Change.gov this morning… and now I’ll share it with you:
Last night, December 31st, 2008, I was out walking the dog with my friend. The new year turning point was approaching. My friend said to me, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Obama released a short, inspiring expression encouraging people about what is possible in this new year. We dreamed together for a bit about how inspiring it would be for Obama to evoke such optimism and potential at this transition time that is celebrated by so many Americans.
I replied, “Maybe he could say, “I know there are many things that you would like to hear me talk about right now (Gaza being one on my mind), and yet at this moment I would like to invite… (and then inspire us with words for 2009).”
My friend and I then marveled at what a new reality it is that we genuinely believe it is possible that our president would publicly say something that is transparent, authentic and inspiring. How different it is to be excited that my president might speak and to believe that he has the power to influence and inspire people’s attitudes towards creating a more just and sustaining world that works for all.
There is a long way to go and I believe it will require great effort on the parts of many to actualize the change we believe in… and I am so incredibly encouraged by the amount of potential and possibility that is ready to be activated by the inauguration of our new president… and the social responsibility that us citizens can begin actualizing under his leadership.
“The story of the campaign and this historic moment has been your story. It is about the great things we can do when we come together around a common purpose. The story of bringing this country together as a healed and united nation will be led by President-Elect Obama, but written by you. The millions of you who built this campaign from the ground up, and echoed your call for the change you wanted to see implemented by the Obama Administration – this process of setting up that new government is about you.
This transition is about selecting a new staff and agenda that will help reclaim the American dream and bring about positive lasting change to this country. In order to do that, we want to hear from you.