Wade’s Journal – May 17, 2017

Now that I’m retired from cab driving, I’m more relaxed and look forward to a fruitful future.

My 50-year-old commitment to help organize “communities of faith, love, and action” remains intact. The language we’ve used to articulate the “faith” part has changed over time, but the spirit has not. For the first 20 years or so following that commitment, the spiritual values behind my work were implicit — until I decided to make those beliefs explicit. Since then I’ve stumbled along: researching, going to workshops, convening workshops, writing, talking, planting seeds, and looking for an open-hearted, compassionate, holistic community to join.

Now I think I’ve found one: Thrive East Bay, a community that’s led primarily — in a very non-hierarchical, “flat” fashion — by young people. As is the case with so many young people these days, the members of that community amaze me. They seem far more advanced than my peers and I were at that age. It definitely gives me hope for the future. The Thrive East Bay people I’ve gotten to know a bit personally have been impressive and highly committed to social transformation.

More than a year ago, I met the Thrive East Bay organizer, Joshua Gorman, at a workshop that he and I attended which was convened by the Center for Spiritual and Social Transformation (now the Ignite Institute). He invited the participants to an event sponsored by Generation Waking Up, a project that provides training, mentoring, and support to young people to help “bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world.” That event, which was open to people of all ages and whose participants were a diverse mix, was remarkably inspiring. It included poetry, music, and personal sharing from the stage as well as among the audience, who at times milled about and paired up to interact.

When Thrive East Bay began not long afterwards, I went to their first public event, which was held in a Lake Merritt apartment with about 20 people squeezed in. A similar format was employed and I again found it to be invigorating. But my working full-time interfered with sustained involvement.

After returning to one of their events last week, I’m heartened by their growth. And now that I’m free, I plan to participate fully once I return from visiting folks in Seattle and on the East Coast during the next several weeks.

The Thrive East Bay website homepage identifies the group as “a new kind of community” dedicated to “connect, grow, transform.” The About page states:

Thrive East Bay is a purpose-driven community of people committed to creating a flourishing world for all.

We are a new kind of community offering a relevant space for diverse people seeking meaning and connection in our rapidly changing world. Informed by modern science and ancient wisdom, our culture is both secular and spiritual, infused with a deep sense of purpose and interconnectedness, inspired by the arts, and focused on social change.

We welcome people of all ages and backgrounds as we engage in personal growth, shared learning, and collective action.

We host regular Sunday events, small group circles, workshops, and training courses in the Oakland, Berkeley, and wider San Francisco Bay Area.

We are inspired by the following core principles that guide our community:

  1. Thriving Lives – We support each other in overcoming personal challenges and injustice, and creating healthy lives filled with purpose, joy, and expression.

  2. Love In Action – We let love guide us toward compassion, gratitude, empathy, and community amongst diverse groups of people.

  3. Shared Learning & Practice – We seek to deepen our understanding of the world through conversation and critical inquiry, and to grow together through transformative practices and action.

  4. Systemic Change – We unite to build equitable systems where we can flourish as individuals, as communities, and as a planet.

I particularly relate to the fact that they identify “support each other” at the head of their first core principle. I also respond to the fact that in that principle they affirm “overcoming personal challenges,” which suggests a commitment to self-examination. I anticipate exploring with them whether and how they believe that effort includes “modifying harmful social conditioning,” a key concern of mine recently.

I’m also eager to participate in the “Holistic Movement Building” workshop with Kazu Haga and Sonya Shah June 26-29, which aims to

harness the power to change policies and institutions while cultivating the love it will take to transform relationships…. How do we dismantle systems of oppression without replicating those same patterns in our own relationships? How do we heal our wounds while transforming the systems that perpetuate them? How do we better cultivate the relationship between inner and outer transformation?

Kazu and I have had some rich interaction concerning those issues. I’m very encouraged to see that he, Joshua, and others are keeping the holistic-change fire alive!

Daily Reflection (7)

Danger Zone

If you saw a child drowning and there was a 10% chance both of you would die if you tried to rescue the child, would you try? What if the risk were 1%? If someone were throwing children into the water one after the other, would you stop him if you could even though doing so would sacrifice the children already in the water? What if he were stronger than you and you only had a 10% chance of being able to stop him? Would you still try? What if the only way to stop him would be to kill him with a hand grenade? What if killing him also resulted in the death of two innocent bystanders?….. Concerning the Open Letter to Bernie Sanders, I’m inclined to delete any reference to building a organization and leave the question of means more open-ended. So it would read:

An Invitation to Write “An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders”

You are invited to submit to [insert recipient] by May 1, 2016 “An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders” that begins:


Dear Bernie,

Once the nominating process is resolved, whether or not you win, we, the undersigned, urge you to promote the political revolution you’ve been advocating by making the following speech.

Jason A. Samfield via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Daily Reflection (6)

BernieI’m working on an invitation, which I may circulate widely, to submit an Open Letter to Bernie Sanders. The idea is that numerous such statements might be published in a booklet prior to the California primary. Also, some authors might collaborate to combine their statements into a joint communication.

I’ve already begun writing my Open Letter. The latest draft of the invitation reads:

An Invitation to Write “An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders”

You are invited to submit to [insert recipient] by May 1, 2016 “An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders” that begins:


Dear Bernie,

You’ve put important issues on the table. Now, whether or not you win the nomination, we need to organize the political revolution you’ve been promoting — that is, we need to build an organization that can stay together over time to transform this nation. Toward that end, we, the undersigned, urge you to make the following speech.

Daily Reflection (5)

jpbigmeal-articleLarge“The Director’s Note,” by Ryan Guzzo Purcell, for The Big Meal by Dan LeFranc, as produced by the American Conservatory Theater Master of Fine Arts Program of 2016 at the new Strand Theater reads:

In Molloy, Samuel Beckett says, “I begin to think, that is to say to listen harder.” It is this link between the depth of our thinking and the depth of our listening that is at the heart of Dan LeFranc’s The Big Meal. We can’t solve our problems without better thinking, and for that we need better listening.

We are being trained to listen more shallowly, to take in more information and process it as quickly as possible. Understand the sound bite and get to the point. But there’s a message behind the words that is screaming out for connection. Onstage, the difference between a character and a caricature is depth, and the same is true in life. But it’s not that people are shallow, it’s that we often don’t listen well enough to really know them. And until we really know, how can we help or change anything?

So I invite you to listen, and to enjoy the show.

Daily Reflection (4)

Julia CameronI learned early morning journal writing from Julia Cameron and her wonderful book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. She recommended spontaneous, uncsensored writing, not even worrying about spelling and grammar. With this journal, hoping that it will be of interest to readers (I do after all cherish connecting with others, for I do often feel isolated), I censor myself somewhat and review it before posting. But otherwise, I plan for it to be very spontaneous. Having recently learned that medallions are selling more slowly than I expected, I once again face the prospect of having to drive taxi until I am 80. So I really need to take care of my body, lose more weight, and lower my glucose level, which is currently 116. My doctor, who is adverse to drugs, is threatening to recommend that I take a drug if I don’t. So, on her advice, I’m switching from hot cereal for breakfast to eggs, eliminating one of my two daily fruits and substituting it with carrots, and eating garbonzo beans rather than eggs with my salad. And I’ll continue to tweak my schedule. Now that I’m driving days as I prepare to develop my Tours by Taxi business,for the first time in decades I’m setting my alarm clock daily so I can make more money. And tonight I hope to work on the treadmill at night rather than the morning. Yesterday I turned in my cover letter and resume for a job as Assistant Manager at Yellow Cab. Though I am confident I could do an excellent job, I don’t expect to get it, in which case I may send my resume to everyone on my Bay Area email list and tell them to let me know if they hear of any job openings. Hillary swept last night. Alas. I still suspect Bernie would be stronger against Trump. But who knows? If anyone is confident about such matters at this time, they likely are afflicted with arrogance. And if the Republican Party splits, even Hillary can win. But Trump is still a real threat. So I’ve begun writing “A Letter to Young Activists,” in which I plan to share my story with regard to political activism in case some young people can glean some useful lessons from it that could help them in what may prove to be a decisive moment in our history.

Daily Reflection (3)

heather_digby_parton_squareToday I am more fearful that Trump could be President.

Yesterday, Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” who won the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, in Donald Trump is now weaponizing the conservative id: Why the escalating violence of his campaign is so frightening concluded:

It may seem obvious at the moment that Trump is creating this violent atmosphere with his incendiary rhetoric and his policies of hate and division. But if he plays his cards right, a few months down the line he might very have succeeded in muddying that reality enough to have most Republicans blaming Democrats for what he started.

On March 12, Ann Coulter tweeted: “Reagan on violent protesters, April 7, 1970: ‘If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement.’ Hello Ted? Mario?”

And Reagan, with that approach, won re-election as Governor of California. Should protesters move beyond, “Shut It Down,” and adopt a more nonviolent tone? I think so.

Daily Reflection (2)

DSC02030Pulling back from taxi politics and instead returning to Fellowship Church has felt good. In the face of the Trump madness and the proto-fascist threat that he represents, it is heartening to connect with my Kingian roots. Rev. Blake and I had a good discussion about the mixed bag that the “shut it down” approach presents, the service was soothing, and we had a good dialog after the Social Hour film, “Forks Over Knives,” which addresses the health problems created by a meat-based diet. The Facebook dialog I had over the weekend with Karen Dolan and her Friends after she posted a comment about the demonstrations at the Trump Chicago rally venue was also reassuring. Though initially it seemed that most of the participants there were reluctant to criticize the demonstrators who allowed themselves to be provoked to violent actions, eventually a strong consensus seemed to form that we need to cultivate greater self-discipline. One commenter called for another “Freedom Summer” focused on fostering more nonviolence, which I seconded. And today, I am reassured that the Sunday talk show hosts and participants, including Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich, all criticized Trump strongly for his incitements, while Trump refused to apologize. That refusal will probably hurt him in November if he gets the nomination. And prospects for the Republican Party to split are now even greater, which relieves my anxiety about a possible Trump presidency.

Daily Reflection

Limits to GrowthMy plan is to post here once a day by spontaneously writing for 15 minutes, quickly editing what I write, and finding a photo that reflects my mood to include in the post.  I feel a tectonic shift occurring in this country precipitated by the Trump and Sanders campaigns. That shift may well lead to an earthquake. It seems like the late 60s all over again, with one difference. This time the Mainstream Media (MSM) is giving more voice to my opinions, especially as reflected in the fact that Van Jones is a prominent commentator on CNN. Leonard Frank’s death leaves me marooned. I could always call him or get together for lunch when I needed to connect with a like-minded spirit. No one has filled the vacuum left by his death. So I write here to overcome my isolation, hoping to engage with comrades at least from time to time. My thought is to approach it like an AA meeting, with no cross-talk. I don’t expect others to respond by posting a comment and I don’t plan to respond to every comment. But feel free to post comments to share with others. Later, I may invite others to share 15-minute reflections like this.

Reflections on 2015

Patti Smith

What is the purpose of your life?


When I came home at early this morning, I uploaded to Facebook a photo of the poster that was distributed to patrons as we left the New Year’s Eve concert, and added this comment: “At 69. Patti Smith is fighting for love more than ever. Her fire is even stronger than it was 50 years ago. Welcoming in the New Year with her at the Fillmore was inspiring. I will cherish this poster.” Then, with “Compassion” as the Subject line, I posted to the Yellow Cab shareholders’ forum and the TaxiTalk.info Announce list, “May the New Year bring in a world that is ever more rooted in compassion.”

Increasingly, it seems to me that lack of compassion is at the heart of our social problems. The results include harsh judgments of others, assumptions of superiority, chronic self-centeredness, greed, intellectualized scheming, and manipulation — all of which serve to divide and isolate people.

Patti’s repeated exhortations to speak one’s truth fearlessly resonated deeply….
To read more, click here.

Giving Thanks: 2015

I am thankful for:
Pope Francis, for cultivating compassion.
Bernie Sanders, for challenging inequality.
Rotary International, for its motto, “Service above Self.”
Brett Dennen, who said, “Until we treat one another as equals, there will be no peace.”
James Baldwin, who described the price we pay for fostering personal identities rooted in love of Empire and domination.
Buddha, who practiced Christianity.
Jesus, who practiced Buddhism.
Steve Sears, who understood me profoundly.
Gil Lopez, who helped me understand racism.
Richard Koogle, who invited me to Northaven Methodist Church.
Leonard Frank, who lived the life he wanted to live.
Mother, who taught me the Golden Rule.
Charles Hartshorne, who taught me that paradox is the essence of life.
Martin Buber, who inspired me to engage in authentic, mutual encounter.
Dick Price, who affirmed “increasing self-sufficiency while drawing on support as needed.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, who gave me my mission: to pursue truth, justice, and beauty.
Bob Dylan, who has led me through the stages of my life.
Michele Dayley, the only person with whom I cried convulsively after making love.
My many friends still living, who comfort me even in their absence.
Life itself, even though it involves dying.