(part of a series from the “Shipwrecked Project”)
There are many definitions of a hard childhood. By any definition Mario had a hard childhood. A childhood shaped by deprivation and struggle.
Mario did not have a complete understanding of the reasons his father abandoned his children and his wife. Though his father at one time served as part of the Nicaraguan President’s guard, his sense of obligation to his children was washed away by his alcoholism, along with his favored political position. Not long after his father left, Mario’s mother abandoned her children as well. …
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
One of our early Houston founding families supported the creation of settlement houses and community centers, because, as he said, “neighbors should live as friends”.
I just recently returned from Germany. A country leading the struggle to welcome newcomers, to make a place for over a million Syrian refugees. German leaders have stepped up to say, this needs to be done and we can do it. This decision to do the work of welcome has provoked the rise of ugly sentiments and threats. And even among the most generous leaders, there is worry.
(We’re sick of this damn virus)
In the aftermath of disaster there are discernible patterns — stages of thought, behavior and emotions. Fifteen Years ago I began to map them. To document — from the experiences of people who’d faced the unthinkable — those patterns and stages. You can read some of what I’ve written about them on my website. This is not a plug. I’m just trying to avoid writing it all over again here.
The earliest stage is Survival. We seek safety — higher ground. If we’re helping it looks like rescue. Keeping people alive. Then we…
My appeal to Mayor Sylvester Turner and Judge Lina Hidalgo.
Dear Mayor Sylvester Turner and Judge Lina Hidalgo:
Let me be frank. If you step up and lead — call upon sector leaders to join you in navigating this unthinkable twin disaster — you will win the resources and support needed to have a more effective and orderly recovery. If you don’t do this, you will find yourself managing a rebellion.
People despise being treated like children. Especially in this region, given all we have been through together, we will not tolerate a passive role. If you don’t give sector…
I am thinking of some of my most treasured relationships. People in Louisiana. Friends and family.
Many Louisiana friends are “storm friends”. We came to know one another in the aftermath of Katrina. We’ve seen horrible stuff. We’ve hugged in a street surrounded by wreckage, when everything was gray dust covered, with the smell of salt and mold in our noses. While birds were still away — wherever they’d blown to.
When the world was quiet with loss and death.
I’ve seen my storm friends heartbroken and out of their minds. I treasure them. I trust them.
I have relatives…
The Oath Takers
Some of us are in professions that require the taking of an oath. We ask it of doctors, of soldiers, of public servants. Of those we elect to represent us. Of people we entrust with power.
Our doctors swear to ”respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk… and apply for the benefit of the sick all measures required… to remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug…to prevent disease wherever I can for…
March 22, 2020
I slept badly and woke up with a sense of dread. A few moments during which I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what. And then I remembered. #COVID-19
I am filled with dread because we have been told that it will get much worse before it gets better. Much much worse. Italian health workers and ordinary people around the world, with nothing more to gain or lose, are warning us, even begging us, to pay attention to what happened in their communities. To what they did and didn’t do. In this region…
FERAL HOGS in Disasters
We woke up today to a story about the people we elected using their knowledge of what was coming — a potential pandemic — to enrich themselves. In every disaster there is the “betrayal stage”. That’s the moment when the realization comes that some part of this suffering could have been avoided. And that the people we imagined were tending to our business were, in fact, rooting around for profits.
I like to think the best of people. In fact, I’ve disciplined myself to notice where you seem to thrive, excel, light up. That’s how…
AND WHAT HAS SHE BEEN DOING SINCE BAKERRIPLEY?
…answering all the questions I am most often asked about what I’m doing...
YOU WERE WITH BAKERRIPLEY FOR A VERY LONG TIME. DO YOU MISS IT?
I miss the people, not the position. I was ready — like a baked cake — it was time to get out of that particular oven. I had begun to feel keenly the call to the work I am doing now. People often confuse position and purpose. I had a purpose long before BakerRipley found me. For decades, my purpose intersected with an agency with a…
When I desperately wanted to save my family from the ravages of the disease of alcoholism, I would have gone to any lengths to force solutions, would have said anything, done anything. And I tried in all the ways I knew how, to adjust, to shape shift, to mitigate what was happening in our lives. The utter destructive power of the disease gave us not a moment, not a generation of rest. It’s still shredding our serenity at times. It’s a powerful disease and it often wins. How do I know? Witnessing slow deaths. Funerals.
Whomever/Whatever we love…