Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Reader's Comments

Following are responses to recent posts. Except when the authors posted on public platform (Facebook, Wade's Wire, or the Wades' Weekly website) or asked me to identify them, the comments are anonymous.
Re: Escaping Xmas

"Santa Claus does not belong in Bethlehem." Wade, Wade, Wade. What does that mean? This note my daughter sent me today, as to how I explained Santa Claus to her and my son, also explains why I would take the stress of Christmas with my loved ones vs. spending it in a gambling joint, uh, hotel.


"Mom and Dad,

The attached letter reminds me of how you responded to the "Santa" question all those years ago. Not exactly the same, but similar sentiment.

Love you both,..."


But to each his own Wade. Life is about choices I guess.

Merry Christmas,
NOTE: The attached letter referred to above beautifully explained who actually put the gifts under their tree and affirmed certain nonmaterial values. In my reply, I commented on how I have no children, grandchildren, or any real community -- and how Xmas has taken Christ out of Christmas.


hey Wade - that all sounds great. You sound renewed, revitalized, yes?
As for Santa, I never really cared so much for Christmas or Santa, but I'm feeling it a little different at the moment. Went to a talk at the Fellowship last week (your friend will be presenting there in January on MLK) and a great symbologist/mythologist talked about how the themes of Christmas are so Universal. there is something about this time of year... That there may be a universal human experience makes it more compelling to me. She had many relevant pieces of art including one that was very provocative -- Santa Claus holding the baby Jesus - something about pagan Santa coming together with more traditional religious stuff -- who knows...I always liked Jerry as Santa...Thinking about the difference between archetypes, deities, and saints.


interesting political times - so many people thought the mid terms were another catastrophe but instead Obama seems freed (in some ways - not all), i.e., Cuba is cool. The demonstrations across the country seem significant - very grass roots - I heard that when Jackson and Sharpton went to St Louis the people turned their backs on them..


Liked your post Wade!
--Sara Colm


The more I know about "living in the Now" the more I understand its practical application. There are profound spiritual implications that I get fleetingly and yet settling in to be satisfied with what is is a recently new one for me. As fast as we've grabbed life and lived consciously, I had the illusion that it would always be so. Guess I actually never made any serious plans for getting older and although I've had health challenges off and on all my life, I've lived through them and adapted each time to whatever needed adapting. None of us anticipated the economic downtown 2008, so I was feeling pretty proud of myself with my savings, good health, and eagerness to continue to work. Didn't happen. Won't happen now in any of the forms I had imagined... so now, I'm taking it a day at a time and pondering about the REALITY of truly "letting go" and TRUSTING that Spirit/God/the Divine is active in my life to the degree that I am not overwhelmed. Glad you wrote about how
you are
dealing with one of those "quick turns" that you've now encountered. And, yes, you ARE a writer... Blessings of Grace and Comfort this season, Wade.


We stayed at the Nugget this past summer and have done so before, too. We also enjoyed the big, round hot tub. In Reno, we enjoy walking along the river.

In terms of eating, our fav place there is the small, funky, veg Pneumatic Diner, though we also really enjoyed the hip, mixed Laughing Planet.


Sounds like a nice plan. Have a Merry Happy Holiday!


I‘m glad you’ve figured out a way to survive in the face of the Uber horror, Wade. I was worried about you.

And I’m glad you’re thriving despite the holidays, an annual challenge.

For good things in the New Year,


Re: Evolutionary Revolution

I wholeheartedly agree with this, Wade. A lot of talk about "revolution" is usually just empty rhetoric. Plus, from an organizing point of view, if people don't see concrete results, the activists will just drift away.

Didn't Saul Alinsky say something similar to what you wrote here? That in order to build a movement, people have to see some successes?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Evolutionary Revolution

For thirty years, I affirmed a “radical” activism and rejected “liberal” piecemeal reform. Then, one day, while listening to some recordings of speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one comment struck me like a lightning bolt. Dr. King’s point was simple: movements need to focus on winnable demands. I concluded that we radicals had been wrong when we attacked Dr. King for compromising.

Mahatma Gandhi, who influenced Dr. King profoundly, adopted a similar approach. He called it  “evolutionary revolution.” This visionary pragmatism acknowledges the value of short-term reforms that improve the quality of life for people who have been oppressed -- as part of an ongoing, never-ending process that can eventually lead to the fundamental restructuring of our entire society. This evolution involves change in our way of thinking: a change of paradigm.

This perspective is not “either/or.” It integrates both liberal reform and radical transformation. It balances the short-term and the long-term, giving equal importance to each. Gandhi and King were neither radical nor liberal. They were both.

In biology, species are defined by their ability to reproduce themselves through interbreeding. Over time, biological evolution produces new species that become so different they can no longer breed with their predecessor species.

In a similar way, human societies evolve in ways that constitute a “revolution,” or transformation -- a sudden, fundamental change in how we live, work, or govern ourselves. These transformations produce societies that are so different they feel “new.” They change the composition, structure, outward form, and appearance of a society.

Transformation, however, can also be taken to mean “to change (something) completely.” The butterfly emerging from the caterpillar is commonly used as a metaphor for this type of change. This definition of transformation is dangerous.

New species remain similar to other species within the same genus, including their predecessors. They are distinct, but they are not totally different.

Sustainable revolutions do not create new societies (or individuals) that differ from their predecessor as much as butterflies differ from caterpillars. That metaphor suggests change that is total, complete, not lacking anything, having all necessary parts, not limited in any way, not requiring more work, entirely done or completed, fully carried out, absolute, perfect.

This attitude is prone to totalitarianism, black-and-white thinking that demonizes opponents and attempts to use physical force to impose its will.

When we speak of transformation, we need to avoid language that implies “total” change. Individually, when we are “reborn,” we may feel like a new person, but we are not completely new. When we transform a community, it may look new, but it is not totally new. Transformation does not destroy. It builds on what preceded.

Gandhi and King were more than willing to compromise. Reconciliation and community were their ultimate goals. They saw revolution as a never-ending process. For them, “shut it down” was not a goal in and of itself -- a reactive outrage against an injustice that would somehow spontaneously lead to revolution. Rather, such actions were part of a calculated, proactive strategy for specific improvements in living conditions.

Their long-term vision was the beloved community. Their short-terms objectives were, respectively, independence and desegregation.

We need to update their vision by articulating it in contemporary language, and unite behind concrete, winnable demands concerning public policy that help us steadily transform our global society. To be winnable, demands must be measurable. It needs to be clear when we have achieved our objective. Movements build momentum with victories.

As I see it, the primary shift our society needs today is to move away from a selfish commitment to climbing the social ladder to a commitment to the common good of the entire Earth Community -- the entire human family and all life. And we need to achieve that vision by democratizing our entire society with new public policies that establish new structures.

This transformation would discourage both selfishness and self-sacrifice. It would affirm that we can both love ourselves and love others. It would not reject ambition, the desire for economic security, and getting promoted to further one’s career. Rather, it affirms a balance between both self-interest and the common good, solidarity rather than isolation.

What specific reforms can best help us achieve that vision is another question. The list of demands forwarded by Ferguson Action  in response to the death of Michael Brown is suggestive. For instance, with regard to the use of deadly force by police, they call for “the development of best practices…, [including] the development of specific use of force standards … [and] a Department of Justice review trigger when continued excessive use of force occurs.”

When an officer feels threatened by someone who is 8-10 feet away, can the use of deadly force be justified? Aren’t there other options?

Thus far, most of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations are primarily a cultural phenomenon that enhances awareness of important realities, as did Occupy. Hopefully consensus behind specific demands will soon help that movement develop into an effective political force.

Briefly blocking traffic and shutting down business gains publicity. But if that tactic becomes used more widely without a focus on winnable goals, it will backfire as resentment builds. Potential supporters want to know: what do the protestors want and how do they plan to get it?

Rejecting the need for incremental reforms is divisive and undermines unity. One correspondent, for example, recently told me:

The policy making process .. has rarely done anything good for [the marginalized]. ...It has been curtailed, crippled, and suppressed into ineffectiveness. I do not think that we make sustainable progress with piecemeal policy change. What ever policy changes that are done to make liberal amendments to the current system are not sustainable because the whole structure and foundation is riddled. The whole house is burning; integration with that won't get it.

Alas, however, in the foreseeable future, integration is inevitable. We cannot escape so long as our society does not completely collapse. That catastrophe may happen eventually, and we need to prepare for it as best we can. But to wish for it or try to help precipitate it would be morally irresponsible, due to the greatly increased suffering that would result.

In the late 1960s, we demanded “no more business as usual” and tried to achieve our goals by inflicting widespread inconvenience. Our primary accomplishment was the Reagan Revolution.

I would prefer to learn from those mistakes and push for specific reforms that steadily lead to the transformation of our global society into a compassionate Earth Community dedicated to preserving and enriching all life.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Escaping Xmas

Santa Claus does not belong in Bethlehem. So, dodging the stress and madness of Xmas in the Naked City, I find myself on the 23rd floor of the Nugget Hotel in Sparks, Nevada, just outside Reno, for $38 per night.

I like the solitude. It’s convenient. My room has free Wi-Fi and a desk. The fifth floor has a gym and a large glass-enclosed, tree-lined pool with birds flying around and the best Jacuzzi I’ve experienced (it has several different kinds of strong jets). And the food in the lobby is adequate and affordable.

Being away gives me distance and perspective, which leads to new insights. Better yet, being forced out of my routine helps me break bad habits and develop new ones that I hope to carry over when I return, such as: more exercise; stretching; writing at least 1-2 hours in the morning; avoiding late-night snacks; doing my late-night meditations; and, six days a week, staying sober while avoiding both caffeine and sugar.

In addition to forming those habits, I plan to use my time here on special projects, like reading real books, emptying my Inbox, posting my autobiography, and working on the budget for the rest of my life. In addition, of course, now that I’ve adjusted to the altitude and largely rid myself of a chest cold, on days the Warriors don’t play basketball I expect to win some money at blackjack (I did win $75 in ten minutes in an experiment on my way in, but haven’t yet been in shape to play seriously).

I had planned a road trip, including Canyon de Chelly, Joshua Tree National Monument, and New Year’s Eve on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. But I like it here so much I may stay until I return home early next year. The less time I spend driving and getting settled in new locations, the more time I’ll have to be productive.

This approach may help me deal with my post-Uber life. Previously, my monthly check included at least several hundred dollars from my share of our co-op’s net profits. Now those profits are virtually zero. Moreover, when I drive, I earn 20-30% less per hour.

According to my latest calculations, when I move up the first-come, first-served list and get a Section 8 rent subsidy in about five years (hopefully), I can sell my medallion, invest the proceeds, and have enough money to manage until I’m 94, while slowly consuming my capital.

With this plan, until I sell my medallion, I’ll have to drive taxi 40 hours a week eleven months per year for the first time in my life, which means I’ll have to stop trying to save the world. I can take the weight of the world off my shoulders.

Going back and forth to the airport in my taxi can be a bit boring, but it’s not all that hard. I can still work on my devices while I’m parked at the airport waiting for a fare (more than an hour on average) and take home enough money to make ends meet.

I should be grateful I’m as well off as I am and have been able to do as much as I have with my life. So unless someone offers me a part-time job doing social-change work, my goals will have to be much more modest.

My inclination is to focus on writing, with a priority on Wade’s Weekly. The 120 or so subscribers to that blog is not a huge number. But writers like to have readers, and I very much appreciate the feedback I receive, and hope to put more time into engaging in dialog with my readers.

Who knows? Maybe I plant an occasional seed that blooms somewhere. Or maybe we just bolster one another in our resolve to contribute to human evolution as best we can.

Regardless, I have numerous ideas for essays on my mind that I really want to write. They say if you have to write, you are a writer. Maybe I am.

So, unless some miracle happens with the Residents’ Council while I’m away, or “Changing the System: A Proposal for a National Conferencedevelops in a way that involves me, I’ll once again try to drop my self-identity as a “community organizer” and fade away into the sunset, alone, pen in hand.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

“They Treat Us Like Children”

When I reluctantly agreed to serve as President of the Western Park Residents’ Council, I sensed the Council would have to be assertive to develop a real voice with management. The deeply ingrained, widespread paternalistic assumptions of superiority that I discussed in “Comments on ‘It’s All for Your Own Good’ are manifest here. I often heard residents complain, “They treat us like children,” or variations on that theme.

But I never guessed that our managers would refuse to engage in any dialog with the Council. I was shell-shocked when at our monthly Council meeting with more than forty residents in attendance, three managers walked out after merely giving a pro forma report and refusing to respond to questions, including questions that had been submitted to them in writing.

The whole experience has been painful and mystifying, leading to many sleepless nights, countless hours trying to figure out what to do, and neglecting other priorities.

Now I feel I’ve finally settled on how to proceed. Rather than resorting to the old notion of leadership and trying to rally “followers” to do what I want, which was my first impulse, I will try to facilitate the Council finding its mind on the matter. I need to practice what I preach and trust the “wisdom of crowds.”

Some residents accept our current situation. Perhaps most do, more or less. We have a beautiful, newly rehabbed building, with affordable rents and a good location. The nonprofit owner, Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services, has good intentions. Our managers are kind, competent, and hard-working. Residents can offer input into management decisions as individuals. If an objective study were done of all of the complaints and suggestions made by residents, it may well be that management has generally responded in a reasonable manner.

So why rock the boat? Why ask for collective input from the Council as a whole? Why not just accept that management will come to Council meetings and engage in dialog if and when they choose to do so? Why create more tension by trying to persuade management to promise to briefly engage in dialog when requested? Why alienate the building managers by going over their head to their supervisors and/or the Board? Why should residents risk receiving a less favorable response to their individual requests, or maybe suffer retribution, because they supported efforts to restructure the Management-Council relationship? Why not be submissive and accept that we are dependent on management? Why not accept that we have a good thing going? Why risk ruining it?

Given those considerations, yesterday I circulated to the 200 residents who live here (except for one who has requested not to be informed about Council activities) a proposal that the Executive Committee place on the agenda of the December 9 Council meeting the following item:

Do you believe WPA management, when invited, should engage in dialog with the Council on issues identified by the Council?
    1. No. Not at all important.
    2. Yes. It would be nice but is not very important.
    3. Yes. It is a very important goal that we should aim to achieve.

It will be interesting to see how folks respond.

Reflecting on all this, it struck me that this struggle hit a nerve with me because it is part of a lifelong pattern: the refusal on the part of people with power over me to dialog, starting with early childhood experiences with my mother and high school teachers who punished me because I was a “freethinker.” No wonder Martin Buber’s I and Thou blew me away with its affirmation of mutual encounter. And no wonder that for fifty years I’ve endorsed the critique of disabling liberal paternalism.

After the Council had been dormant for more than a year, some residents called a meeting to revive it. I went to that meeting and presented some proposals for how to conduct the election in a more democratic manner than had been the case before. Those proposals were accepted and implemented. Old-timers predicted about ten residents would come to our membership meetings, but more than forty have participated each time.

When no one else would serve as President, I agreed to do so. More than 60 percent of the residents cast their ballot in support of the slate of candidates. Great enthusiasm filled the air. Many residents expressed to me passionate appreciation for my efforts. I became hopeful that a great, warm sense of community would emerge here, leading to this place being a great place for me to spend the rest of my life. Since I believe that residents having a meaningful, collective voice in decisions that shape their environment helps foster that sense of community, I’ve worked hard to establish structures to help make the Council democratic, and have sought a commitment from management to engage in dialog with the Council. We were on the verge of a productive partnership. I felt it was just around the corner.

Then the staff threw cold water on all this good spirit by walking out of our meeting. Their action threatens to undercut the Council and diminish participation. If they had simply engaged in a brief dialog with us, we could have been off and running with a marvelous collaboration. Why they walked out is a mystery to me. I can’t read their minds. But it hurts, and it leaves the future uncertain. Only time will tell if we bounce back.

In the meantime, I hope to return to posting to my blogs, posting My Search for Deep Community: An Autobiography chapter by chapter, working on “Changing the System: A Proposal for a National Conference (10/17/14 Draft) ,” and perhaps writing a memoir that would focus more narrowly on my efforts to nurture community and fundamental social change.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wade’s Journal and Readers’ Comments

In addition to watching Giants’ baseball, most of my free time lately has been devoted to the Residents’ Council at the 200-person complex where I live, Western Park Apartments. Having been recruited to serve as President, it’s been a rewarding and challenging experience. The more I get to know my neighbors, the more I get to like and respect them. Reinvigorating the Council by establishing some new structures that reflect what I’ve learned over the years seems to be working. Prior to our first meeting, an old-timer predicted fifteen participants, but forty came. And the next week we had nineteen at a Coordinating Committee meeting.

Historically, my pattern has been to start a new project and then move on after two years or so. But I’ll be in this apartment for the rest of my life, or most of it. So I may as well make the most of it. With the vibrant community of residents that we have here, I look forward to it.

I’ve also been posting chapters of My Search for Deep Community: An Autobiography to the Web at http://deepcommunity.org. As I go along, I’ll make corrections that have been pointed out to me by readers who’ve sent me comments on the print edition. I hope to step up the pace of posting chapters as I get a handle on Council responsibilities. I also envision a much shorter book eventually, with key moments in my life in chronological order, that I would distribute to the general public, perhaps after finding a publisher.

In My “Ego Trip” I look back on my motivation for writing that autobiography. In addition to the motives that I discuss there, I now realize more clearly that one reason is that I wanted to circulate it on my 70th birthday as a gift to dear friends. And I just wanted the full historical record available, just in case unknown others might find it of interest or value at some point in the future. After all, I was in the midst of a number of historic events. Whether I will be able to afford to make the upcoming, slightly amended version available to the general public remains to be seen, after I learn what it would cost.

David Marshall, a Vive-President at Berrett-Koehler Publishers (BK), replied to my proposal that BK convene a national working conference on “Changing the System” with the following Facebook post:
Super reader Wade Hudson advocates for a “Changing the System” National Conference in 2015. It’s cool to see such leadership from somebody in our the largest BK stakeholder group: readers. This may fit with three of our five initiatives from our 2014-16 Strategic Plan: Connect with Customers, Build Our Brand, and Commit to Diversity and Inclusion. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
He also tweeted about it and @BKpub retweeted his tweet.

In addition, Mike Larsen, the literary agent who organizes the San Francisco Writers Conference and the Writing for Change Conference has expressed enthusiasm for the proposal and said that he will inform BK that he and likely some of the volunteers in his network would help with the conference.

These developments are encouraging, but the task is a formidable one. So though BK seems like the ideal sponsor for such an event, I am making no assumptions.

Otherwise, I continue to drive taxi part-time, read some of The New York Times daily, and read about half of the articles in The New York Review of Books my favorite publication. Recently, I’ve begun posting to Wade’s Wire reflections on some of the New York Review's essays that I find most interesting.

In Comments on “It’s All for Your Own Good," I reflect on the essay’s argument that well-meaning, kind-hearted individuals can undermine others’ self-respect with condescending attitudes and paternalistic practices. As one who has struggled with my own arrogance, it is an issue with which I still struggle. With its comments on Why Nudge? by Cass Sunstein, the review also felt relevant to my situation here at Western Park Apartments, which is owned by Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services, a church-related non-profit with a noble vision rooted in spirituality.

In Comments on “Divine Fury: A History of Genius,", I remark on “Wonder Boys,” a thought-provoking review of Divine Fury that explores the nature and history of human consciousness, its relationship with the cosmos, or God, and the notion of “genius.” What is different about the human mind? How did it evolve? What does all that mean about how the universe works? Though I don’t agree with every wrinkle in the piece, the author, Tamsin Shaw, offers me some helpful clues.

I’ve appreciated the following responses to recent posts:

Re: Uber Attacks Taxis

Richard Keene: I'm with you on this.  Seems tech is causing major disruptions everywhere.

Michael Shaughnessy: I would encourage you to edit this and seek publication in a more widely distriibuted source. The personal sharing is appropriate for your weekly entry, but you analysis of the economic situation (in a tighter form)  would be great on Alternet or HuffPo.... Thanks for your work.

Yahya Abdal-Aziz: Much to reflect on, as usual!  If I haven't said so recently, let me say it again now: Thanks for your writing.  I find it well worth reading and thinking about.

And occasionally very informative; I had no idea of the parlous state of the taxi-driver's lot in SF until I read your piece below.  I hope you and your colleagues find an effective and speedy resolution of the problem.

And certainly educational: I'd read the phrase, "the tragedy of the commons", before now, but from its context thinking of it as an historical curiosity, had never bothered to explore its meaning.  I see now how wrong I was, and how relevant this economic phenomenon is today and may well be at any epoch of human history.  It applies, for instance, as an operative cause, to the loss of sovereignty of native peoples worldwide in the face of colonial aggression by the Western powers of the last half-millennium.

But rather than comment on every issue canvassed below, I decided to reply, wanting to let you know this:

You can stop paying for massages; all you need is a willing partner and the knowledge of how to do massage effectively and safely.

That knowledge can come from a good book on massage techniques.  I saw such a book just last week in my local "cheap books" store, for around $14.  Of course, it takes time and practice to become good at massage; but since most of the time you spend doing so includes actually giving the massage, you and your partner can benefit equally.  You'd both probably consider it a good investment of your time.  It also requires some patience and sensitivity of the student, but given these, one can soon learn to become more aware of the texture and condition of the fibres under one's finger-tips: a requisite skill.

While we were living in Malaysia, my wife and I had the great fortune to learn the basics of "urut jawa", the Malay deep tissue massage techniques, from a friend and more particularly from his father, a renowned "Tokoh" (master) of the art.  These have stood us in good stead during the last forty-some years, more so as I had a painful condition of the spine which plagued me until I reached my mid-30s.  I believe it was my wife's constant care that helped it to finally abate to more tolerable levels.  So I'm certainly an advocate for the considered and careful use of massage on medical grounds; but of course its therapeutic benefits are far wider than the physical treatment of disease.

There's something else I've been meaning to say, and will take this opportunity to do so: I think of you often, and wish you all the very best in your efforts to transform both yourself and the wider world.

My best regards,


Re: [wadesmonthly] Recent Posts on Wade's Wire

Bob Anschuetz: I always find things of interest in your Wire--in the latest, especially, the anecdote about Robin Williams and the 50 recommended essays. That literary genre has always been my own favorite, though the work of particular poets runs a close second. I'm also curious about a matter connected with your own literary output. Have you decided yet what, if anything, you're going to do further with your book? I'd love to know, as it was the source of my own principal work engagement for almost three months, and I was deeply impressed by its human authenticity: both the honesty of your self-revelation and the seriousness of your commitment to deep community as a way of life and the foundation of effective social activism. I wish you all best in choosing the right course for the book and the right life for yourself.


Re: Many Activists Need An Intervention

Roma Guy: Interesting….regarding listening and hearing from activists you encountered. Their being in motion (act) apparently doesn’t include listening….lots of that around and not only from activists.


Re: Changing the System: A Proposal for a National Conference (10/17/14 Draft)

Clinton McDowell: Received ..always amazed at yer steadfast ,Eal in undertaking this challenge.
Keep on keeping on!

Richard Moore: Here’s my take on a realistic step-by-step plan: Building the new in the shadow of the old

Friday, October 17, 2014

Changing the System: A Proposal for a National Conference (10/17/14 Draft)

By Wade Hudson

The system is broken and we know it. In the short run, our social system appears to work for a few, but their gains are superficial, the system is not working for most Americans, and in the long run the system may collapse as it becomes increasingly top heavy.

The percent of voters who believe the government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves increased from 29 percent in 1964 to 79 percent in 2013. Almost four in five Americans are dissatisfied with the political system. That same percentage is convinced that corruption in government is widespread. Two-thirds are dissatisfied with the state of the economy. Most Americans report they’re so upset they “would carry a protest sign for a day” if they could. Strong majorities favor major changes in national policy and believe grassroots pressure is needed to achieve that.

To build popular power, we need broad agreement on a long-term vision rooted in shared values and a realistic, step-by-step plan for achieving that goal.

Given those realities, concerned individuals must increase and broaden understanding of how the system functions and how we can reform it fruitfully. Toward that end, I have proposed to Berrett-Koehler Publishers (BK) that they convene a national working conference focused on the following questions:

  • What is “the system”? How can we best describe and analyze it?
  • How do we need to change it?
  • What organizing strategies are needed to build a popular movement pushing for those changes?

A careful, deliberate, collaborative process could pull together the best ideas available about how to restructure our society. That plan could help motivate a massive number of individuals to work together toward that end. Using the “wisdom of crowds,” the efficiency of the Internet, and careful collaboration, we can change the world in a deep and sustainable manner.

BK is a logical candidate to organize a national conference whose participants would consider written proposals for action that had been posted online and discussed extensively beforehand. BK’s best-sellers include Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, The Serving Leader by Ken Jennings, Leadership and Self-Deception by Arbinger Institute, and When Corporations Rule the World by David Korten. Their books fall within three categories, “BK Life” (the personal), “BK Business” (the social), and “BK Currents” (the political). With this broad perspective, BK is dedicated to “systems change” and adopts a holistic approach to the world.

Their current strategic plan affirms:
We seek to abolish class systems (wherein one group has an enduring structural advantage over another group) in all areas of organizations and society, including ownership, wealth, belonging, power, accountability, compensation, and access to information and resources.
Given their credibility, connections, and commitment to systemic change, I believe BK could initiate a process that would engage readers, authors, and activists in developing a plan for how to improve our world fundamentally. BK could contract with a diverse set of prominent writers to draft brief responses to the questions posed above and invite those writers to dialog with one another and then consider modifying their original statements. That dialog could be posted on the Web for review and comment by the general public. The writers invited to participate could include individuals such as Alice Walker, Cornel West, Van Jones, David Brooks, Fritjof Capra, Robert Reich, Naomi Klein, and others whose prominence would help elicit strong participation.

The conference could be loosely based on “Open Space Technology,” with a variety of proposals presented for consideration. Participants would “vote with their feet” and participate in breakout groups focused on those proposals that most appeal to them. Space could be provided at the outset for new last-minute proposals from participants. If no unanimous consensus emerged concerning a specific proposal for action, after the conference different groups could implement those proposals that most appealed to them.

If you support this proposal or have suggested amendments, please comment at http://www.wadeswire.org/?p=1232. As this proposal is amended, the latest draft will be posted there.
NOTE: Though I do not assume that the conference organizers would select it as a focus for the conference, my own suggestion for the kind of statement that could be considered is “Changing the System with Love, Wisdom, and Power: A Declaration for Action.” I also welcome feedback on that statement.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Many Activists Need An Intervention

To turn this nation into a compassionate community, Americans must unite as never before to change national policies. To achieve that unity, political activists need to improve how they operate.

Yet most activists, habituated to their traditional methods, fail to engage in serious self-examination, honestly evaluate their strategies, admit mistakes, and evolve. Our efforts are commendable. At least we are trying. Overall society is likely better off than it would be if we did nothing. Nevertheless, we need to do better, much better.

The Occupy Central demonstrators in Hong Kong offer inspiration with their deep, disciplined commitment to nonviolence. A recent interaction with David Harris, the renowned 1960s’ draft resister and author, offered me encouragement. The response to the “A Meditation on Deep Community” that I presented to my Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples heartened me. I was pleased that my minister, Rev. Dorsey Blake, liked a draft of a “declaration for action” that could be the focus of an action-oriented national conference and said he would ask Jakada Imani, head of the Center for Spirituality and Social Transformation whether his center and our church might co-sponsor such a conference. A dialog about that draft declaration with Ronnie Dugger, the writer and activist, was reassuring. The feedback I’ve received to my limited distribution of print copies of the first edition of my autobiography, My Search for Deep Community has been encouraging. And my organizing with the Residents’ Council at my 200-unit, non-profit apartment house has been rewarding. On the other hand, certain encounters with activists recently have been less positive.

The other day, while walking home from the store, I saw an old friend with her back to me talking to two people. I walked up to them and joked, “Don’t believe a word she says.” The two strangers informed me they were canvassing for the upcoming election. They asked me how I felt about two ballot measures and I told them I was supportive, but when they asked me about David Campos’ campaign for Assembly, I replied, “I’m not sure. I just heard that some friends of mine are supporting David Chiu because he offered more support to them on the domestic-violence controversy surrounding Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.” The male canvasser replied, “Campos merely wanted due process,” and proceeded to talk for almost two minutes about the two officials’ positions on other issues. Having been unclear about the facts in that case, suspecting his statement was inaccurate, and truly wanting to discuss the dilemma, I replied, “I do not appreciate you lecturing me rather than engaging in a dialog with me about my concern.” He answered, “Well, I’m a school teacher and I can be pedantic.” “That’s a problem too,” I said, and everyone laughed. My friend then hugged me and told them about how we first met and the second canvasser asked me where I lived, after which we learned that I do not live in the district they were working. I commented, “Well, I guess I wasted your time,” and walked off, irritated because none of them engaged me in that dialog that I told them I wanted. Afterwards, I realized my alienation may have led me to be unduly rude. I expressed no appreciations, did not even say goodbye to my friend (who also failed to engage in a discussion about my concern), and walked away too quickly. But I knew the canvassers had probably been trained to avoid wasting their time.

A few days later I received a phone call from the same campaign on the same three issues. The caller immediately started reading his script at some length. When he finished and asked me his question, I said, “I have a suggestion. In the future, when you reach someone, first ask them if they have a minute to talk about your issue.” He replied, “OK,” but proceeded to read me the rest of his script without asking me if I wanted to talk. He was reading from a written script, but most activists have a script in their head and repeat it endlessly, like a tape recording. Their understanding is that “leadership” involves mobilizing people to do what the leader wants, a notion that is reflected in President Obama’s attitude about “American leadership.”

On September 30, I drove down to Stanford University for an opening reception for a new exhibit of incredible documentary photographs from the 1960s taken by Bob Fitch, an old friend. The event, titled “Movements for Change,” featured a panel of activists from the 60s, including Harris. The panel made opening statements and engaged in a conversation with the audience for about 90 minutes.

When none of the panelists offered any reflections on lessons learned from the past that could inform the future, I tried to get the floor to pose that question, but was unable to get recognized. No one from the audience raised the issue either. Before we adjourned, Bob suggested that the audience circulate and engage in dialog with one another.

In line with his suggestion, I approached a Stanford student who had spoken eloquently from the floor about his activism and asked him, “Have you noticed any weaknesses in past movements that need to be avoided in the future? Mistakes that we can correct moving forward?” He replied by talking about how activists’ intellectual frame needs to shift toward a more transnational focus. I responded by commenting that his remarks were outer-directed and I was more interested in how we relate to each other and the general public. He then said we need more face-to-face interaction. I agreed and asked if any other points come to mind. He said none did. I half-expected him to then ask me about my thoughts, but he didn’t, so I thanked him for his responses and moved on. I was amazed that this elite student of activist movements had apparently not been prompted by his professors to reflect more deeply on that issue, and that the panel would engage in a 90-minute conversation about their activism without reflecting on the question.

I then connected with Harris and asked him the same question. He replied by talking about how “the movement” fell into drawing an ideological “line in the sand,” which undermined its original openness to various perspectives. When I asked him for other examples of weaknesses, he addressed how “ego” is often a problem and that activists tend to “stop learning.” I found his comments very astute and reassuring.

The informal reception that followed was unsatisfying. I approached a few people, including another old friend, but experienced no substantive dialog. (I need to find some new ways to deal with “cocktail parties.”) And my ride home with my friends was also lacking. In the car, I reported on my interactions with the Stanford student and Harris, hoping it would lead to an exploration of the issue. But it elicited only one brief comment, and the rest of the ride involved no real evaluation of our past and ongoing efforts.

So I resolve to be patient. I’ll continue with our Residents’ Council and maybe expand to some neighborhood organizing. I’ll remain active in Fellowship Church (including our October 19th 70th Anniversary) and work to enrich that experience, participate in the October 18 “Soul of Work” workshop, and post to my blogs more frequently, where I hope to plant seeds that will somehow bear fruit someday. I’ve begun posting a Web-edition of My Search for Deep Community: An Autobiography. I envision a new book, which may be a brief memoir focused more narrowly on deep community. Perhaps a strong, inclusive committee will eventually organize a national conference to launch a holistic project that integrates the personal and the political, as I suggested to Rev. Blake. I invited Harris to participate in a public dialog concerning how activists might be more effective, perhaps using a yet-to-be-defined format that would foster rich dialog among all participants. And perhaps I can make some new connections by posting this October 23 Meetup.com event:
San Francisco Personal-Political Mutual Support Workshop
Let's explore how political activists can be more effective.
We'll explore developing one or more models that political activists might use to support one another in their efforts to become better human beings and more effective activists. One option is for each member to confidentially report on their efforts and their plans, with no unsolicited feedback. We may experiment with various other models at future workshops.
We shall see. I can only do what I can do, while taking care of myself and others as best I can. In the meantime, as Kathy Kelly’s Iraqi friend advised her, I try to remember to “love the Universe.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Uber Attacks Taxis (and Readers’ Comments)

Gas-guzzling Uber cars are killing San Francisco’s energy-efficient taxi industry. San Francisco needs to protect and improve its publicly regulated taxi system.

Prior to Uber, which uses smartphone apps that allow customers to get rides from drivers using their personal cars, San Francisco limited the number of taxis. That policy enabled drivers to make a decent living, so they stuck with it, became more knowledgeable, provided better service, and had a relatively good attitude with tourists. We were called “ambassadors of tourism,” the City’s biggest industry. Many passengers visiting the City told me they were impressed with San Francisco cab drivers. Cab companies made enough money to buy new cars frequently, so the City requires all new taxis to use natural gas or electricity.

The City also requires drivers to service all law-abiding people and accept paratransit vouchers for seniors and the disabled. And the City requires drivers to undergo background checks for egregious criminal activity and requires cab companies to carry substantial insurance to cover accidents whenever the cab is in operation. None of these regulations apply to Uber. So as Uber grows and taxis decline, the City will suffer.

But the California Public Utilities Commission ruled that Uber vehicles are not “taxis,” even though the dictionary defines that term as “a car that carries passengers to a place for an amount of money that is based on the distance traveled.” So Uber enables several thousand cars to illegally operate as taxis and take business away from taxi drivers, which adds to air pollution.

Uber, which means “over” in German, considers itself above those regulations. The word “Ubermensch,” or Superman, was central to Hitler’s philosophy. Why a company would brand itself with that word boggles my mind. I take it to be a reflection of Uber’s arrogance, and the elitism of the tech world.

This development is another example of worshipping the “free market.” Uber declares its intention to break up the “taxi monopoly.” To see that what future will look like, take a taxi in Washington, DC, where there has been no limit on the number of taxis, and observe the condition of the old, run-down vehicle.

Salon.com has covered the issue well. A search for “uber” from their homepage reports many excellent articles, including “Why Uber must be stopped.” That article begins:
What is Uber? A paragon of free market efficiency and technological innovation serving the greater convenience and comfort of the general public? Or living proof for why capitalist societies require regulation?
On September 23, the San Francisco Chronicle featured a page one article titled, “S.F. taxi owners, cabbies join forces against Uber, Lyft, others.”  That article begins:
Taxis, badly losing the battle on San Francisco’s streets, are finally fighting back.
After seeing 65 percent of their business migrate to ride services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, taxi drivers and company owners, at odds for decades, have joined forces — not only with one another but with their overseer, the Municipal Transportation Agency.
Their common goal is to save the taxi industry — highly regulated by the city as part of its transportation network — from extinction at the hands of the largely unregulated upstarts... .
“The Tragedy of the Commons” has hit the San Francisco taxi industry. As defined by Investopedia, that phenomenon is:
an economic problem in which every individual tries to reap the greatest benefit from a given resource. As the demand for the resource overwhelms the supply, every individual who consumes an additional unit directly harms others who can no longer enjoy the benefits.
Yellow Cab, the City’s largest company, used to fill all of its available shifts. Last month, it filled only two-thirds. That means fewer hybrids on the street and more air pollution, thanks to Uber.

As I told the California Public Utilities Commission at a hearing last week, when I was thinking about switching the Uber, I asked Uber if they have a limit on the number of Uber drivers. They told me that they do not, and have no plan to establish a limit.

This development is reflected elsewhere in the emerging “sharing economy.” As Jon Taplin wrote:
the average 30 year old might be holding down four or five jobs simultaneously in this brave new world–driving an Uber car while renting their spare room on Air BnB and raising money for their video on Kickstarter while doing odd jobs on Taskrabbit.
Taplin quoted an unnamed mentor:
for better or worse – the sharing economy has to lower the GDP and at least currently would speed up the demise of the middleclass and push more onto the long tail of minuscule incomes that in turn accelerates the sharing economy since that is the only way these folks can survive. This all has many unintended consequences and in the long run may not enhance sustainability.
And he reported:
The writer Venkatesh Rao makes the basic point that the so called sharing economy is designed by the 1% to help the 90% destroy the livelihoods of the 9% who make up the small business middle class.
Whether “designed” for that purpose or not, Rao describes the Internet-facilitated impact precisely: another reason for growing inequality.

I rode in a few Uber cars and learned from the drivers that they must drive six ten-hour shifts each week in order to make a non-poverty income. As the number of Uber drivers increases and it becomes harder to make money, Uber drivers are going to be more stressed out and will drive more recklessly.

One reason I’ve driven taxi half-time is that I could make enough money to live simply and have time to do my community-service work as a volunteer. Then I got on the first-come, first-served list to get my own permit, or medallion, for a small sum, and did after twelve years. Since then, I no longer have had to rent my cab and, through the company, I collect rent from others who use my taxi when I don’t drive.

Then the City changed the system to require new drivers to buy medallions from current owners for $250,000. After the City takes 20%, if I sold my medallion now, this policy would leave me with $200,000 before taxes. And I could sell my Yellow Cab stock for $30,000. So I’ve figured that once I’m no longer able to drive, that would be enough for me to live on for the rest of my life. (Since I lived on “movement wages” before switching to cab driving, my Social Security retirement is minimal and I have no savings, so I feel the need for some cushion.)

Now, however, I fear that my medallion will soon be worth much less. Already my income has taken a big hit. My monthly share of our co-op’s profits has declined by almost 50%.

So I’ve devoted long hours to evaluating different options and developing an emergency, barebones budget in case I become disabled prematurely. And for the first time in my life, at the age of 70, I’m getting serious about saving money.

I also drove more taxi to see how much I can earn now that City streets are flooded with Uber vehicles (and Lyft cars, another so-called “transportation network company”). So I was driving more and writing less than I would prefer, which was frustrating. Fortunately, I’ve finally developed a good plan for how to proceed.

The breakthrough was discovering that seniors in San Francisco have access to free and low-cost food. Monday I paid $1.50 at the Salvation Army for a good meal and walked away with five granola bars and four apples. And next week I’ll start getting one of the bags of free food from the Food Bank that are delivered to my building. And I’ve learned that the maximum food stamp allotment is $179 per month. So I now realize I won’t have to worry about going hungry.

And here at my residence, when I move to the top of the list for the Section 8 subsidy, my rent will only be 30% of my income (after counting 2% of my assets as income). At that point, my rent may be only $300 per month. So if I have to, once I stop driving taxi, I figure I can manage if I stop paying for massages, concerts, and movies, and get the cheapest cable, Internet, and phone services.

In the meantime, however, I’ll still indulge in my middle-class comforts and travel two months a year. But that reality check has prompted me to now take public transit home at night and limit myself to one restaurant per month (except when I travel). My current budget indicates that I can do that and still save $500 per month by driving taxi 20 hours a week.

This plan will enable me to get back to my real work, which will include posting more here.



In response to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Fostering a National Movement:

From R:
Interesting. I've been wrestling with this for some time. I'm afraid I'm becoming very cynical and for the most part feel the majority of Americans don't give a damn. Where I'm at in my thought about all of this is: if the American people keep voting in incumbents and turn the senate republican does it affect me? Yes and no...psychically it is very difficult but economically it doesn't as I have my own business and I'm on Medicare now. Mind you the air, water and environment will be worse but hardly worse than it is now under a so called democrat. The rich will get richer, there won't be unions and everyone will be policed in their bedrooms. So if the people want to vote against their best interests...fuck'em. R

My reply:
I do not believe that most Americans do not give a damn and I do give a damn about them.



What you write is important, valid and of hopeful spirit.  I know from the experience of being retired and not having the same work community that nourished me in the banter of staying true to myself while listening to others opinions is deeply missed.  And, I find there is a community divide within the labels we once gave, such as, "lefties", progressives, liberals, moderates, conservatives.  It is more difficult today to organize within a local community around local issues nonetheless national or international issues.  Unless the community is organic, it is difficult to sustain.

I applaud your many attempts, your consistency, your hope, your creativity, your thoughts and words.  Everyday I try and make a commitment to be involved and each day that commitment is softer than the day before.  If there is anything I need more at this point in my life is a quiet, contemplative arena to rid myself of the cynicism of today's politics and my aging.

Thank you always for trying.  Thank you always for your faith and hope.

With respect and friendship,

My reply:
Thanks for your kind words and best of luck finding that arena that will enable you to deal with cynicism, which certainly afflicts me from time to time.


From Richard Moore:

You explore here the most important questions of our time: Is it possible to transform society in line with what people really want and need, and if so, how might that be accomplished? These are questions I too have been studying and thinking about for more than ten years.

As part of my research, I looked in history at examples of revolutions and of mass movements, both those that succeeded and those that failed. And I have noted the differences between conditions then, and the nature of our regimes today, which include sophisticated means of mass propaganda and mind control.

My negative conclusion from these studies is that a mass movement, where deep community comes from being a member of the movement, is not a viable approach in our modern societies. If they are not suppressed, they will be co-opted. In the domain of mass persuasion, and with it’s ability to ‘create conditions’, the state cannot be overcome.

My positive conclusion from these studies is that a decentralized movement, where deep community comes from belonging to an engaged local community, does show hope for bringing about transformation. Among other advantages, such has not having a vulnerable center, a community-oriented movement can be inclusive, while a mass movement is always divisive, particularly in its early stages.

How to build such a movement, however, has eluded my grasp so far. My latest ideas are here: Building the new in the shadow of the old.


My reply:
Evading the system is impossible. Co-optation is inevitable and is problematic only if it leads people to be satisfied. We need to steadily restructure the system step-by-step, while keeping our eyes on the long term. Local efforts are valuable, but eventually they must unite to change national policy. Otherwise they reinforce those policies.


From Roger Marsden:
Hi  - yeah - I like the idea of linking up - formalizing a community grfoup with a representative. Kinda obvious really -- integrating grass rfoots into the "system." It requires the representative to be responsive. it would be nice if there was a way for it not to be only depedndent on each community to create it for themselves but in concert with a national movement.

My reply:
Good to hear, Roger. Might you want to meet with one or more close friends to experiment with one or more models for how to structure such a group?


From Yahya Abdal-Aziz:
Great idea!  I'll be listening out for anything that may help you in this search, and for any insights you gain or any such tools you create.

And try this one on for size: AA have the archetypal 12-step program, and it's their best-known tool.  And it's user-friendly, except for two sticking points:
that some people don't want to admit that there is a higher power;
that some people don't want to submit to any power whatsoever.

Because of these points, people have been experimenting with various non-theistic, non-submissive versions of the AA approach.  Which is fine if it works better for them.

So bearing in mind those difficulties, can we craft a step-by-step program that:
is as inclusive as possible
helps people with the learning you describe
helps unify their efforts at bettering the lot of all the disadvantaged in your [or my (*)] society

That would be one suitable tool, wouldn't it?

(*)  Australia is not the USA, although we have many similarities - some of which we tend to blame you for! ;-)


My reply:
Yes, I agree AA is suggestive, but limited. I also think it's 12 steps are too complicated. I hope to continue to experiment with developing a model or models and to suggest to others that they do the same. I'm particularly interested in doing it with people interested in impacting national policy.


From Michael Larsen:
Write on!

My reply:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Fostering a National Movement

A friend recently asked me, “What is missing in your life?” I replied, “I would like to participate in a massive grassroots movement to impact national policy.” She replied, “That’s a tall order” and changed the subject. Her response is typical. Interest in building a national movement is limited.

Nevertheless, I persist. From time to time, certain events encourage me. One example was the August 17 op-ed in Time magazine by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar @kaj33, the former basketball star. Titled “The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race,” the essay argued, “Ferguson is not just about systemic racism — it's about class warfare and how America's poor are held back.” The sentence that struck me most strongly was the following (the key phrase was emphasized with italics): “If we don’t have a specific agenda—a list of exactly what we want to change and how—we will be gathering over and over again beside the dead bodies of our murdered children, parents, and neighbors.”

Precisely. That is what I was trying to get at with “A Meditation on Deep Community,” which I presented to the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples on July 14. In that piece, I stated:
• Relieving suffering requires addressing root causes, getting deep. • Addressing root causes requires correcting national policies that are the source of so much suffering. • If we see a child drowning, we don’t tell her to pray. We change her environment.
The most problematic element in Abdul-Jabbar’s formulation is the “how.” One barrier that any such strategy must address is the social conditioning that has been embedded in each one of us. This dehumanization divides us and undermines our ability to work together effectively. To unite, we must unlearn this “internalized oppression.”

Different individuals have different issues. Trying to tell others how they need to change is counter-productive. Each individual can make their own decisions. But we can support one another in these efforts, if only by listening to one another report on our successes and challenges.

Growing a unified movement will be enhanced if we develop user-friendly tools, like Alcoholics Anonymous did, that concerned individuals, without going through any elaborate training, can easily use to meet the unmet need for deep connection. I would like to experiment with such options that could be easily replicated, and learn about other such efforts.

We also need to develop new structures that will facilitate broader political engagement between elections. The other night, a disturbing dream woke me up in the middle of the night. It involved a double murder, the first of which was a mistake. The dream left me with a sense that my dream of a national movement was dead. I had trouble going back to sleep.

But I woke up with a wrinkle on an old idea: get a group together to engage in a series of open-ended, problem-solving discussions with their Congressperson’s office about how the Congressperson and the community might work together to build that movement. One option that could be placed on the table at the outset would be monthly Congressional Community Dialogs, the carefully structured forums I’ve been proposing for some time.

Regardless, we need to keep on pressin’ on. If we do, eventually we can fulfill that dream that Abdul-Jabbar and so many others have articulated.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brandon Visits SF (plus more)

Brandon Visits SF

Brandon Faloona, my soul mate from Seattle, visited San Francisco for 48 hours last weekend and slept on my couch. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The most rewarding moments were our quiet times alone, when we engaged in rich dialog. As I’ve said before, he’s the best listener I know. There are many understandable reasons why most people (or so it seems) are so reluctant to speak from the heart and interact openly and mutually. I’m constantly trying to better understand and accept those reasons. Nevertheless, it is refreshing when I experience greater authenticity....

[Read more.]


Meditation Idea: 8/20 Draft

NOTE: Following is a Meditation that I may give at the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples.

The sermon that Rev. Yielbonzie Charles Johnson offered on August 3rd was very thought-provoking. He recommended cultivating “intimate direct action” by traveling “Four Roads to Intimacy.” The first road is to move away from self-deception and “know yourself better than anyone else.” The second is to utilize “solitude.” The third is to establish strong “kinship,” or a sense of community. The fourth is to then experience “intimacy,” or “the uncircumscribed engagement in the world,” without fear....

[Read more.]


Comment on MSC Transformative Practice Survey

This fall the Movement Strategy Center (MSC) plans to release a report, tentatively titled “Love with Power,” on organizations that are bringing “transformative practices” into their work. I await this report with great interest.

As described in “Tell Us!! Does Your Organization Do Transformative Practice?,” MSC is inviting individuals to complete a three-question survey about their interest and/or efforts with regard to bringing “individual transformative practices, such as meditation, martial arts, gardening, and spiritual practice” into their organizing.

Particularly encouraging is that the survey explores interest in eventually sharing “peer exchange/case studies on how other organizations are actually doing it.” If MSC discovers and shares user-friendly tools that can be easily replicated (without extensive training), this project could help spread (rapidly) the use of methods that nurture personal and collective development rooted in mutual support among peers.

The survey opens with a very helpful definition: “Collective practice is intentional and continuously repeated action undertaken as a group to cultivate new ways of being and thinking in that group and beyond it.” The phrase “intentional and continuously repeated action” hits the nail on the head.

“New ways” strikes me as too ambiguous, however. Some phrase such as “more compassionate” would work better, it seems. “New” is not necessarily an improvement.

As I discuss in “A Meditation on Deep Community,” I believe that if activists really get in touch with their compassion, they will naturally strive to correct root causes by changing national policies. Then we can turn this nation into a compassionate community.

I applaud MSC for helping us move in that direction.


My Robin Williams Story

Like maybe half of San Francisco, I have my own Robin Williams story. In 1996, after watching the Independence Day movie at the Coronet Theater on Geary Blvd. Steven Shults, Richard Gross, and I went to the Toy Boat Dessert Cafe on Clement Street. The store featured Double Rainbow ice cream and displayed on its walls children’s toys for sale. While waiting to be served, Williams got in line behind us. Steven had seen him at an event the night before and struck up a brief exchange with Williams about it. After Richard, Steven, and I sat down at a table to eat our desserts, Williams joined us and engaged in conversation for several minutes. He often came to the cafe to buy toys for his children. He was remarkably unpretentious and warm. After a few minutes, Richard said, “I’m sorry but I have to ask you this. How much of being famous is great and how much is a drag?” Williams immediately replied, “90% is great and 10% is a drag.” I figure the 10% finally got to him. May one of the greatest San Franciscans ever rest in peace.


Transform Workshop Evaluation

I just offered the following responses to a survey from The Center for Spiritual and Social Transformation concerning their four  Transform: Spirituality and Social Change sessions that were held last month....

[Read more.]


Fellowship Church: “Intimate Direct Action”

Rev. Yielbonzie Charles Johnson, a semi-retired Unitarian Universalist minister currently engaged in doctoral work on “The Transformation of Shame” at the Graduate Theological Union, presented the August 3 sermon at the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples. He opened with a quote from Vincent Van Gogh letter to his brother Theo:
…It is better to be high-spirited, even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent. It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done.
[Read more.]

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My 70th Birthday and Fellowship Church

Birthday Reflections 2014

Many thanks to the more than twenty individuals who participated in the July 26 Open House celebration of my 70th birthday and the release of My Search for Deep Community: An Autobiography, as well as the many more who were unable to attend and sent me good wishes....

Late the next night David Marshall, a Berrett-Koehler Publishers (BK) vice-president who participated in the party, offered the following feedback on the book:...

After reflecting on David’s comments, my current inclination is to seek co-authors for another, more focused book. The working title is What We Want: A Commitment to Compassion. The idea is that the co-authors would collectively write the opening chapter, a declaration, and individually write chapters elaborating on why they affirm that declaration. The declaration might invite readers to endorse the declaration, commit to certain initial actions, and pledge to participate in one or more larger projects if and when enough participation is elicited to launch those projects. My current draft of the declaration begins, “Chances are, you want what most people want. We want to:…”

But first I’ll wait for more feedback on My Search for Deep Community.... [Read more.]


Fragmentation: Fellowship Church, July 27

The theme of the July 27 worship service at the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples was fragmentation.

Following the opening piano prelude by Dr. Carl Blake, the Gathering of Community began with Expressing a Sense of Awe, during which Dr. Kathryn Benton affirmed, “All that is given us is our life. It is more than enough.”... [Read more.]


No Time to Think
Posted on July 28, 2014 by Wade Lee Hudson
Posted on The New York Times at: