Two things about this election

There are two things I’ve thought before the election and remain committed to as we wait for more votes to be counted.

1. Georgia needs to change our Constitution to require a Secretary of State to resign if running for a different office. Changing the Constitution shouldn’t be the path to solving every problem, but it is the only way to address the less than above-board election this year, and protect future contests.

2. Yes, Nancy Pelosi has raised lots of money for Democrats, and yes, she corralled Democrats during difficult issues (Democrats say Pelosi has eyes in the back of her head, knows who is in the room, and how they will vote at any given moment). When do we make room for a new leader like this if not now? Could Pelosi be an interim Speaker with a transition plan to pass the gavel, as suggested by my friend and former Congressional candidate Carol Miller of New Mexico? With a wave of newly elected “firsts” across the country, it is time to pass the role of Speaker to someone with solid knowledge of the House and Congress. There is a role for Pelosi, but it shouldn’t be as Speaker of the House.

Hear the candidates with your own ears!

Early voting is underway across Georgia with hotly contested races for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Insurance Commissioner, and of course Congressional districts. Being an informed voter requires doing the homework, and one of the best ways to do that is to listen to the candidates themselves. I love political pundits and editorial columns more than most people, but someone else’s coverage of what a candidate says isn’t the same as hearing them yourself (or reading their policy positions on their web sites).

Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta Press Club are hosting multiple candidate debates that are free and easy for the public to access online. Watch live or find them later on demand, or do both to go back and make sure you are clear on what was said, or just as important, what wasn’t said.

Whether you’ve made up your mind or not, these debates are good opportunities to learn more about the candidates. Time consuming? Sure.

But Georgia state senate and house members, and US House members, have a total of 17,520 hours on the clock during the two years as your representative. Four year representatives are in for 35,040 hours. Invest a little of your time over the next few days to know the candidates better.

 

“The little voice in your heart must guide you”- my daughter’s letter to her children

The Friday Photo
January 20, 2017
reposted with permission from my daughter McKinsey Cummings

photo credit McKinsey Cummings, Macon, GA, Martin Luther King Jr, Day, January 16, 2017 Chase, 8.5 years old, Ella, 10 years old

An Open Letter  to My Children on MLK Day

4 days prior to the inauguration of He Who Must Not Be Named: I’m sorry. Sorry that the world you were born into is about to change. Sorry that the value I raise you with: honesty, kindness, and fairness to all will not be the values reflected by the head of government in this country. When all this is over you will be teenagers and trying to find your place in the world. You will have heard and witnessed things I would have never thought possible for your generation. I promise I will show you the path of generosity of spirit and deed. And that the little voice in your heart must guide you in the face of overwhelming animosity that is sure to come. #notmypresident #bluedot #notthis

Being Present Redux

I thought the hardest day of 2016 was going to be the morning of November 9th. My eight year old grandson, who said a woman ought to have a chance at being president, called to ask me who won the election. I couldn’t choke back my tears. I guessed the worst thing I would do in 2016 was tell him that I was seeing a world I didn’t want for him.

I was wrong.

Less than a month later my 10 week old grandson, Brayer, suddenly stopped breathing, and his 26-year-old parents made the hard decision to remove him from life support.

Brayer
Brayer (the morning after waking his parents up every hour during the night)

There aren’t many hours left in 2016, but after putting part of  Christmas dinner in the oven on Sunday and walking down to the cemetery to find my daughter and son-in-law sitting by their infant son’s grave, well, 2016, I don’t have anything more to give, and those two young parents don’t either.

As November’s disappointments settled in, and the month of December has crept along, I find myself returning to a commitment I made in 2012, which was a promise to myself, and others, to Be Present in 2013.

As the election season sped up this year, I knew there would be lots of work ahead.  I didn’t think the work would be bare-knuckled battles against the Twitter-length ideas of a man with a really bad comb-over, scary illusions of his abilities, the temperament of a tired three-year old, and a failure to understand that facts are facts, regardless of whether they go along with what you believe or want for yourself.

My calendar has dates marked for Being Present. Events are easy because they require setting time aside in advance. The bigger challenge for me is Being Present in some capacity every day. It means living my values every day, and holding businesses, community leaders. elected officials, and their supporters, responsible for theirs. This is not the time to look away from hate, racism, intolerance, violence, and so many isms.

On November 9th I told my grandson Chase I will do my best to build a better world for his generation. I have to Be Present every day in 2017 to do that work. And in doing so, my hope is that the ragged edges of my heart will begin to mend too.

 

Van Jones put his finger on it last night

Last Thursday I drove to Hendersonville, North Carolina for an annual event called Life Is A Verb Camp. On the way home Sunday afternoon I opted for less interstate and more two lane roads.

In addition to the fall-colored leaves I saw lots of Trump/Pence signs, which really didn’t surprise me as a fellow Southern rural citizen. What had been floating around in the back of mind for a long time began to move more to the front of my thoughts; how are the polls capturing the rural voter? Are they getting to us at all? Am I underestimating the urban turnout?

Last week Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight polling and punditry kept setting aside the poll numbers at a certain point in his figuring, which dogged me about who people say they will vote for and what they will do in the privacy of the voting booth.

Last night Van Jones put his finger on what I was thinking: white-lash. It has been a large and unspoken element in the room on top of the anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Semitic, anti-woman, my version of Christianity is the only one, anti-choice, denying access to affordable health care, putting profits before our natural resources, loosening gun control laws, and the list goes on and on.

I live among the voters who showed up in force at the polls and elected Donald Trump and Mike Pence; white rural Americans.

It should not be a surprise to readers of Rural and Progressive that I write from a perspective that there are two Americas, an urban and a rural America. Many rural Americans harbor some level of racism. I’ve heard it and seen it. For some people that has been the unspoken driver behind opposition to all-things Obama. And it brought people out in force to elect a TV personality whose favorite line is, “You’re fired.”

Yesterday white rural America told Donald Trump and Mike Pence, “You’re hired.”

I may live in rural America, but the not so subtle racism and divisive values espoused by Trump and Pence are not my values. And they aren’t the values of every rural American.

I’m no less proud of being a Hillary supporter today than I was yesterday, because I believe in a country where diversity is valued and celebrated. That’s the country I will continue to help build.

Try this on for size

Trump supporters, male and yes, female, are burning up Twitter with the hashtag #repealthe19th. The 19th Amendment gave women the vote. Multiple polls show that if only women voted in November, the slam-dunk for Clinton/ Kaine, and probably most Democratic Congressional candidates, would be deafening.

I have a suggestion for men and women who think repealing the 19th Amendment is a good idea: sit this election out and see how that feels.

Fitting for a Monday

David-Bowie_Chicago_2002-08-08_photoby_Adam-Bielawski-croppedThe last way I wanted to start my day was learning that music/acting/fashion icon David Bowie died yesterday just two days after releasing a new album, Blackstar.

This song, Under Pressure, pairing Bowie’s voice with the equally talented Freddie Mercury (whose talent was also gone too soon) and Queen, is appropriate for a Monday.

Is R&P suffering from writer’s block?

Yesterday two people I respect talked with me about politics, their work, and Rural and Progressive. Conversations like that make me miss the work I have done that is immersed in politics (but not miss it so much that I’ll go back. It is very hard).

I explained that the recent horrors coupled with American politics, have left me unable to wrap my head around the constant hate so prevalent in the world. Two days after the Planned Parenthood clinic shooting in Colorado, I wrote in circles about women’s health care, legislation, and the violence raining down on innocent people who pass through clinic doors. Finally at turned off my computer and moved on to something else. 

This might be an ideal time for others, who can get their thoughts collected and on paper (or a screen monitor), to submit posts for Rural and Progressive. The writer will get full credit, of course. If you are interested, or know someone who might be, have them contact me at katherine@katherinecummings.net  

Plays with matches

The Friday Photo
March 20, 2015

FullSizeRender (2)

This pendant was made for me by Life is a Verb Camper Jen Land. I wear it everyday as a reminder to be invested and to speak up. And to choose carefully when using matches.

Declaring Victory

Goal Met

I had no idea what the response would be to launching a Go Fund Me campaign asking people to help me go to a camp for grown ups. The time was just too ripe for me to get to this camp led by Patti Digh, and so I decided to be my own advocate. I’ve asked people to sign comments  to support clean air and water, marriage equality, access to health care, and other issues, but IU’ve never done a “help me personally” type of ask.

This has been a humbling experience for many reasons. I’ve not told my story for myself, and for that purpose alone the experience is valuable. As a participant in other campaigns I have been amazed at people stepping up because there was value in the need and ask. I wasn’t sure that would happen for me, and every time it did I had to catch my breath.

I’ve got a lot to do between now and the time I leave for Life Is A Verb Camp 2014. Right now I am letting such unexpected generosity soak in. I am appreciative of the what everyone did to make this happen, from sharing the link to the campaign to actually typing in a donation amount.

Thank you.

 

I already have a recipe for potato salad

The Friday Photo
October 10, 2014

Life Is A Verb camp

Last summer a guy posted a satirical Kickstarter campaign for a potato salad recipe. He ended up raising $55K. Fortunately I have a couple of good potato salad recipes, including the slightly spicy one from the Vortex in Atlanta (no fundraising required).

What I realized I don’t have in my cookbook is a recipe for finding my way to whatever my next job will be. I’ve got a lot of ingredients but what I don’t have is a way to find the right recipe.

Some friends suggested I step outside my comfort zone and make an ask for help to go to Life Is a Verb Camp in early November. The Camp Director, my friend Patti Digh, has planned teaching and learning sessions that include poets Naomi Shihab Nye and
Ellen Bass, nonprofit leaders that span the spectrum, an Ambassador for the Alzheimer  Association, artists, writers, and health leaders. I’m not going because I want to learn how to write poetry, but rather because I need to figure out how to think differently about the ingredients I already have.

Wednesday afternoon I got two unexpected gifts outside my Go Fund Me campaign, one that included a message, “Do not put this effort down.” As Progressives know, much attention and money are focused on heated campaigns across the country, not exactly the best time to launch a smaller one like my camp campaign.

After I let the unexpected generosity soak in overnight, I was able to cut my goal be more than half. Now I’m really close to going to my first ever sleep over camp on November 6th and I need your help to top the $500 mark by Monday.

This campaign isn’t  beholden to a bunch of PACs, but I am offering to work with donors on their own marketing/nonprofit projects as a return on their investment. If you make a donation of any size, of course I’ll be grateful. If you can share the link with your friends, that will help a lot.

I’ve stretched way beyond what I thought possible. It is scary, but a good campaign requires a candidate that is willing to make The Big Ask. This camp candidate is asking for your help and support now.

 

When you are among Friends

If someone says, “I went to UGA” or any large college or university, most people can readily identify something about that school (football, agriculture, technology, etc). When someone asks an alum of a Quaker school where they went to school, sometimes the person asking the question looks kind of lost if they follow-up and ask what type of school that is and the answer is a simple, “Quaker”. (I have on a few occasions extolled about one benefit of being an alum of a Quaker school is the lifetime supply of free oatmeal. I should not prey on the innocent.)

Quakers are not Shakers (but they can and do shake things up sometimes), or Mennonites, or Amish. Quakers are Quakers just like Methodists are Methodists. They come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and varieties. Flaming Liberals-yep. Middle of the Road-got plenty of those. Conservative- there are some of those too.

If you are wondering who Quakers are and what they do, The Huffington Post ran an article in June, “4 Things We Can All Learn from One of America’s Oldest Religious Communities” which does a good job of explaining some of the ways Quakers work together as a faith community (and as a result in their communities beyond their church).

There is a new family living in Ragsdale House, where the President lives at my Quaker college alma mater, Guilford College. The search to hire our ninth president was unusually transparent when compared to how many schools hire their administrative leaders. When the College announced that Jane K Fernandes had accepted the offer to join the Guilford community, there was a huge outpouring of genuine and heartfelt excitement. Jane said she truly felt called to Guilford, and her passion for the values of Quakers, a Quaker-based education, and Guilford are palpable.

Why am I calling Guilford’s Ninth President “Jane” instead of “Dr Fernandes” or “President Fernandes?” Rule 5 of  22 things only someone who went to a Quaker school would understand, written by a Guilford alum, explains it (slight NSFW language).

Rule 1 about bumper stickers? So true, as a Friday Photo from Rural and Progressive a few years ago demonstrates:

Guilford Alum, Class of 1961, leaves no doubt about her politics
Guilford Alum, Class of 1961, leaves no doubt about her politics

 

 

 

 

 

In the wee hours this morning

A couple of months ago I began posting links to news items on Rural and Progressive’s Facebook page. I was sleepless in the wee hours of the morning so I skimmed the news and found some interesting things that I shared there.

If you are on Facebook please like the page, and share or comment. If you aren’t on Facebook, you can check my Twitter feed @kghcummings I also post there, and the two platforms don’t always overlap.

Here’s what I found at o’dark thirty today:

circular firing squad

you can’t make this stuff up 

Republicans complain to state ethics commission they eviserated 

A year’s worth of happiness

The Friday Photo
January 24, 2014

20140123-222816.jpg
I don’t keep a diary or journal. As 2012 was winding down a friend suggested collecting the high points throughout the course of the year, writing them down, and keeping them in a container. At the end of the year it could serve as a reminder of happy moments that were worth writing down. This is what my 2013 container looked like.

On January 3rd I recorded my first contribution for 2014: New Year’s Day with Brenda, Diana, Maia, and Karrie (close in my heart).