I have it from a number of reliable sources: Trouble Ahead: Dangerous Missions with Desperate People is a fascinating read.
I’m a fairly harsh judge of my own work, but I’m proud of this book because it’s so … different. How many people do you know who’ve worked in Darfur during the genocide, visited a half-dozen slums in Nairobi, Kenya, and braved the incendiary politics of Oakland CA, to bring safety and respite and tools to women excluded from the wealth of their communities. This is the history of Women’s Centers International and the Women’s Centers Movement –– living, breathing stories of unusual and compelling people and events.
Buy HERE. I’ll love you best if you leave a review.
The work is not a ‘noble’ undertaking or a ’cause’. It is necessary initiative. How long will you hesitate to jump in bringing on the full power of women who’ve been excluded?
We’re certain of this path, but we need more allies: Board members and, as always, donations – preferably with at least three zeros following the first digit(s).
The work cost money; it’s time we respond with our wallets to the reality that women are assets requiring investment. And so are we. Support WCI today.
Amazing, the response I’m getting to my new book Trouble Ahead: Dangerous Mission with Desperate People.
One colleague said he picked it up and never stopped reading. I do like to tell a good story.
This book was one of the most demanding writing projects I’ve done. I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished in my many missions in Africa, with the tools I could marshal at the time. Of Particular note is the wonderful vibrancy of Baraka Women’s Center, the first Center WCI created in Nairobi, Kenya, and worth every trip it required.
Read my book! 25% of sales support the important work of Women’s Centers International. And please review on my book site. Every good word helps!
Navigating life is a daunting challenge most of the time, to say nothing of the considerable regular effort required to behave like a competent, contributory human being.
I do not have a television, having abandoned the device and the medium ten years ago in an effort to firewall my thinking, to improve my experience of a day. Avoiding the mawkish, trite, corporate free-for-all of advertising relieves me of some anxiety. If I feel a need to escape, I watch movies without commercials.
Without the clutter of factoids about shootings and disasters, money- or sex-related scandals, political embarrassments and rumors delivered by TV news, which is sandwiched among depressingly un-nuanced dramatic shows and unfunny comedies, I’m able, on more occasions, to be more attuned to observing and listening to the lives and life around me. It’s never boring.
Oakland, California where I live:
Plagued by a volatile racial divide. Some days it cools and softens with the balm of open relaxed conversations or random acts of humanity.
Too many people wandering across busy streets against the light and with no fear. Suicide by random passer-by. John George, the psychiatric facility where adults experiencing severe and disabling mental illnesses may commit themselves or be committed, has patients sleeping on mats on the floor in a dorm, unsheltered from each other, medicated but unhealed.
The upcoming Women’s March, spending an obscene amount of money on an events that is unlikely to produce any timely or tangible assistance to swelling ranks of women on the margins of our community, where domestic violence shelters are always full, too many women have not completed high school, do not know how to use computers, and virtually stagger through their days under the burden of traumas rooted in their poverty.
The City’s infested with the cheap scooters that expose riders without helmets to head injuries and pedestrians without warning to vehicular assault.
The losing battle in West Oakland against graffiti and random trash piles. Not much sense that this is a neighborhood worth valuing. We need to change that.
On the plus side:
The Yuba River still flows with enormous power; a hike in the forest in the riot of furry mosses and spritely fungi and elegant ferns and nude oaks that have lain down rugged brown carpets on ochre clay – that resets a weary soul.
Women’s issues steadily are gaining traction in the public conversation, suggesting more action to correct the inequities and predations on women that are inherent in our society.
WCI and I survived and rebooted after soul-busting betrayals by trusted women. New strong allies are arriving with reassuring regularity.
Several extraordinary women I know through Oakland Women’s Center have become wonderful friends. I cherish my connection with them. Black and white women have more than they usually realize to offer each other.
My next book is coming out in January: Trouble Ahead: Dangerous Missions with Desperate People
It’s a compilation of journals – commentary from my numerous missions in East Africa and the birth stories of Women’s Centers International.
Publication announcement to come.
After the holiday slack-off, I’ll be ready again to advance WCI in serving the women who need it most.
When my daughter left home for college, she asked me to promise not to move anywhere for at least a year so she could come “home” if needed. I was willing to make this commitment, knowing that at the end of it, I would be ready for the move I had been dreaming of for several years. I wanted to live and work in Africa.
With her departure, the minutia of parenting evaporated. I no longer kept to a meal schedule, or did laundry every other day, or needed to monitor her comings and goings. This was both a liberation and a great loss. I cherished having her around, with her friends dropping by, listening to and/or spectating the dramas of teenage life and loves. No one could excoriate an errant boyfriend with more vitality than her friends, a loyal group of talented, funny young women. Our home was a haven for that energy.
I filled the empty space with work that fed my passion. For four years, I’d been riveted by the escalating chaos in Sudan. As the genocide in Darfur shifted into gear, I sought ways to replace my outrage with meaningful action. I could not tolerate the unanswered brutality, kept pinching myself that, in spite of all the “never agains”, a full-blown premeditated mass slaughter was happening on my ‘watch.’ To be a conscious adult in such a time meant having to do whatever it took to make the killing stop. I grieve that it does not, but I don’t give up.
The reason that many people don’t change their lives when “hole in the fence” presents is that takes a concerted work to jettison the accumulated trappings of adult life. We’d managed to buy a house. I finally had a collection of decent furnishing that didn’t previously belong to someone else. I’ve saved my daughter’s artwork and baby clothes, the sports gear, the miscellaneous tools and home-care devices, the photos, books, CDs , the files of tax returns and once-important documents, and all that weird stuff you save to cleverly craft into some artistic statement … one day. In the end, it’s mostly baggage that sucks you in place like uber-gravity.
Fairness and justice seemed to have lost ground on our watch in our global village, and we still don’t have a clear line on what the hell we’re doing here. When the irrationality of it begins to weigh you down, get yourself promptly into something you consider important. You can transform the world one life at a time – and that’s really the best most of us can hope for.
What do you carry forward?
Turn off the TV. Its purpose is to distribute anxiety. Make your own news.
Never lose the capacity for outrage, but learn how to channel it productively.
What do you need?
To give – mentoring, resources, service, the wisdom of experience – at any age.
It takes a lot of persistance to make a ripple of change, and you might not live long enough to enjoy the eventual wave. But life is short and you’ve gotta get to it.
Day 25 as a non-smoker. After many previous attempts, I’d decided to try a different approach (hypnosis) on a day (May 1) that encouraged easy calculation of how far I’d made it.
I truly have no desire for a cigarette, but pings of anxiety are not receding quite as fast. I’m leaving behind this habit at a time when I feel I’ve ‘lost my place’ in the world, or maybe it’s that I’m not entirely sure how to reinvest my considerable energy after four years of Oakland Women’s Center. I’ve been living solo all month as Dave does his migrant cameraman gigs in DC. May weather mostly bleak and overcast from the nippy dawn to 4pm-ish, when an outbreak of sun may occur for a hour or two, then low grey clouds reclaim the sky.
It’s a compelling process to leave behind a habit as demanding as smoking, I’d had to fill the ‘void’ with something useful and satisfying. Gardening and mosaic art – both of which soothe me. Friends are inviting me over to spring clean their yards, an activity I find splendidly entertaining.
I read all the time – pretty much anything that draw my interest. To me, libraries are sacred places.
Slowly I’m returning to writing. Working two major projects: a nonfiction book almost finished; and the VOG (the muse dazzles me with the one) just beginning.
Meanwhile, I drifted for five twilight-zonish hours in the DMV to replace a license plate that was stolen or jolted off the car. Florescent glare; cubicles in circle-the-wagons array; clots of numbers streamed in an automated voice over a loudspeaker, flashed on large screens shared with assorted news, propaganda, and the weather; people of all sizes, shapes, colors, and afflictions shuffling to windows, the State raking in fees; everybody resigned to waiting. I was intrigued by one fine proposal from a fellow queue-stander on how to eliminate the choke points.
Overall, a week of hideous self-doubt that I’ve beaten back out of cheer cussedness. Giving up is not an attractive option.