Practicing Resurrection – Planting Trees Helps Girl Survival In India

Photo by Matt Freer - used with permission

Photo by Matt Freer – used with permission

Last week I received a link to an article from my friend Steve Goode reminding me:

In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide”.

Girls who survive infancy are often subject to neglect, and many grow up to face extreme violence and even death at the hands of their own husbands or other family members.

This is an issue that I have always been passionate about and I am always frustrated by how complex it is and how difficult to eradicate. The needs so overwhelming and our ability to make a difference seems so limited. I was delighted when I came across this article by Lindsay Tanne:

In Bihar, India—where the bride’s family traditionally pays a dowry—residents are planting the seeds for women’s progress.

Families in Dharhara village have started a new tradition: planting 10 trees whenever a girl is born.

But the gesture is not just symbolic—when it comes to marriage, the benefits are as sweet as the lychees and mangos that will grow.

Subhas Singh, the father of a 19-year-old daughter who is set to marry this month, describes the trees he planted as “our fixed deposits.” He explains that he sold off the fruit three years in advance to pay for his daughter’s wedding. Read the entire article

The planting of trees is not just life giving to those women whose families sell the fruit to provide for their weddings. It is also life giving for the environment.

This story reminds me of one of my heroes of the environmental movement- Wangari Maathai  who started teaching women to plant trees around their villages in Africa. Her actions started a movement that spread around the world. May the planting of these trees too start a movement that spreads and changes lives.

 

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Igniting the Divine Spark

Cindy Todd at Fledge welcome

Cindy Todd at Fledge welcome

Last night Tom and I attended the welcome for the new cohort of Fledge: A conscious company incubator. Up there on the stage was MSA’s own Cindy Todd.  We are so proud of Cindy and all she is doing.

“You are my hero” Tom told Cindy at our last MSA team training day. The launch of the Snohomish Soap Company, inspires us with a unique business model that is exciting the attention of many who like us think Cindy’s entrepreneurial approach is brilliant.  She has been featured in TED talks(fast forward to 1hour-4min. for Cindy’s part) and PCC’s promotional flyerand now the Fledge conscious company incubator. Her dedication to helping those at the margins by empowering them to develop small businesses, incentivizes all of us to apply our God given creativity to new entrepreneurial models that will sustain us in our volatile world.

The next event on the MSA calendar is Cindy Todd’s workshop, Igniting the Divine Spark. We are all looking forward to hearing more about what has ignited her divine spark and inspired the creativity that lay dormant for many years of her life.

A Hidden Wholeness – A Great Read by Parker Palmer

A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer

A couple of days ago I mentioned how a story in Parker Palmer’s book A Hidden Wholeness changed my perspective of the seasons. This book has been very helpful in other ways too.

As many of you know, here at Mustard Seed Associates we have adapted the Quaker discernment process as the way to run our meetings. Palmer’s book is the most helpful I have read in recent years in relation to this. It is a book written for schools and businesses on the creation of circles of trust. It brings together many of Palmer’s popular themes which I will summarize here is some simple quotes.

  • the shape of an integrated life: Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life
  • the meaning of community: Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; rather it means never losing the awareness that we are connect to each other….we need solitude and community simultaneously; what we learn in one mode can check and balance what we learn in the other. 
  • teaching an learning for transformation: When you speak to me about your deepest questions, you do not want to be fixed or saved; you want to be seen and heard, to have your truth acknowledged and honoured. 
  • not violent social change: imagine the heart broken open into new capacity…into greater capacity to hold more of my own and the world’s suffering and joy, despair and hope…. broken open to a largeness that holds the possibility of a better future for us all.

I think this is a must read book for any follower of Christ seeking to develop healthy community minded ways of interacting with their colleagues, friends and even families (which I think should be all of us). A Hidden Wholeness  is I think my best read of 2012.

More Insights from My Parish Collective Friends

Toward an architecture of place

Toward an architecture of place – via project for public spaces

It is easy for me to get distracted and I must confess that since the Inhabit conference I have found it even easier. My friends at the Parish Collective keep posting such interesting articles, examples of what creative ordinary people are doing in their communities. It is both inspiring and energizing so I thought I would share some more of what I have learned this week.

Continuing the Conversation: Toward an Architecture of Place and Toward an Architecture of Place are two articles well worth reading.

We believe that the  iconic design movement, which defines our architectural era, must integrate a sense of place into its work. When the bold idea of place takes hold in modern design, cities will become more livable, sustainable and authentic.

Now it is time to watch Paul Spark’s video on Land and the Baptized. produced by Work of the People. Paul is always an inspiration to me and his insights are well worth reflecting on.

OK now download this great resource from the New American Dream.

New American Dream Guide to Sharing

And finally this is a very inspirational video to watch too. I love the comments she starts with: There is no failure – creativity comes out of chaos. Gratitude trumps fear.

And Paul Spark’s comments:

The only stories of heroes most people have in common are the ones they watch on TV. But in our neighborhood a lot of us have stuck around long enough to see the characters who deserve to be called “hero” because of the way they live their lives, and what they’ve overcome. In our town stories are told about their lives, about their character, about their courage, and about how their acts of imagination bring power to the people. My friend Patricia Lecy-Davis is one of those kind of heroes.

Milenko Matanovic Helps Communities Prepare for the Future.

I just heard from Inhabit co-ordinator Paul Sparks that the renowned Visual Artist and Community Builder Milenko Matanovic will be inspiring and training Inhabit Conference 2012 participants in the art of creating community gathering spaces. He started the Pomegranate Center 25 years ago to make this happen.

This fascinating video is a great introduction to him, his work and his passion for community building through the use of art. I love his core principle – “consult the end users from the beginning”. I look forward to meeting him at the Inhabit conference.