Spending the Day with My Granddaughter

Thursday is my day to spend with a child
Two hours gliding through morning haze
Muting the blazing colors of fall;

Passing the hills I know too well
From last week’s ill advised bike trip,
I descend to cross the Connecticut,
Majestic river, bold enough to separate states.

The view from the bridge:
The bend in the river, the slopes and hills
Aglow from the smoldering seasonal flame –
Glorious.

I arrived to find an umbrella fairy house.
It was inhabited.
I could hear the squeals of laughter inside.
I thought I had been invited to a garden party,
But the party was for the garden, silly, not you.

Which more colorful?
The trees?
The double rainbow on the drive home?
Or the mind of a child?

The two hours spent in the morning mist
Had enhanced my entrance into the mystery
Of her world.

I don’t count seasons anymore,
Change goes only one way.
But Thursday’s change was special.
It is not cycles I seek, but tasting each day.

And being thankful.

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Emptiness

Last Month Tanya Marlow invited me to participate in her fall Tuesday series: Suffering and God.  I was very pleased to be asked and wrote the following refledtion.

My brother died last May of a sudden heart attack. He was a builder. He died lifting a log. Everyone said it was good he didn’t suffer.

Yes, he didn’t suffer. But his loved ones did.

He didn’t have to endure being immobilized in a hospital, being dependent on others. That would have been very hard for him. That’s what every one said. It’s a good thing he didn’t have to go through that.

But his daughters, and wife, and best friend suffered the consequences. Suddenly he was gone. There was a big emptiness where his presence had been. They are still suffering.

This emptiness is the suffering.

When we lose those we have loved – when they die, or move, or we move, or we break up, or are cut off – there is a loss: an emptiness. Part of ourselves is gone.

for the rest of the article, go to Tanya Marlow

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At Last

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I left Boston on September 23rd to spend a week in California with my 101-year-old mother. When I called home the next day, Barbara said friends had told her I had sent a facebook message saying my book had been published and that I had won an award! I had been waiting for months for the design features of the book to get settled, and then it all happened when I was away. I got home yesterday.

So here is the scoop. My book is named Normal: Stories from My Life, by W. Newell Hendricks, OutSkirts Press. OutSkirts is a print on demand publisher, so I was told that it will take 5 to 15 business days for my order to be printed, plus delivery time.

Here is how you can get a copy of my book.

– Order it at Barns and Noble, or other bookstore. It will probably take them the same amount of time to get it in. The bookstore price is $22.95. (It is 403 pages long)
– Order it through Amazon. $19.96. It will say temporarily out of stock, which means the 5 to 15 day wait for it to be printed. With shipping it is about the same as the bookstore.
– You can purchase it from OutSkirts for $20.66. 10 or more copies are $12.48 each.
http://outskirtspress.com/bookstore/147873244X.html
– If you live in the Boston area, you can come to my book signing party either October 25th or 26th, and I’ll have them available for $15. I’ll let you know the details of the party when I know.

The Book

When I began writing four stories about my life in 1970, I didn’t know I was writing a book. I was writing stories about my life in the ‘60s. (culturally, 1970 was in the heart of the ‘60s.) I had just returned from a delegation to Nicarabgua with two other members of my church, and Esther Emery, in particular, encouraged me to write down some of the stories I had been telling her about my life. It was also a time when I knew I wouldn’t live too many more years. I had cancer in my bones, but did not yet feel the effect of the cancer. So it was the perfect time to write about my life. I knew there would not be any new big chapter, and I had the energy and motivation to pour myself into the task. I wanted to get my version out there while I had a chance.

Once I started writing the first four stories, which I put under the heading “Isla Vista: 1970,” I knew I wanted to keep writing, but wasn’t sure what form to use. Writing about my life chronologically didn’t seem right. My life didn’t have a dramatic turning point – a crisis resolved – a major accomplishment achieved. I had always just been me.  But in just being me there had always been a tension between the normative culture and myself, and this was the stuff of stories. Before I had finished the fourth story of “Isla Vista, 1970,” I created the outline for at least twenty-five more stories in six more sections: House Building, Travel, Major Compositions, Family Vacations, Nicaragua, and Activism.

I wrote most of the stories in my head walking around – about two every month. Writing these stories was such a good way for me to process the reality that my life was coming to an end. It was also wonderful for me to go back to a daily routine I had developed in my years as a composer – spending most of the day wandering around thinking and then in the afternoon and evening, writing down what I had come up with.

The last four stories were written in bed between my back surgeries of May and August, 2013.

It took me a while to realize I had a book and then to figure out what to do with it.

In this process I had a tremendous amount of help from family and friends: from my Daughter Clara, my wife Barbara, and my friend Mathew Abbate, in editing and proofreading the book. And in the final stage, Tom Briggs, who is my granddaughter, Vita Luna’s, other grandfather, gave an incredible amount of skill and time to the design of the book: both the cover and interior design. It is a very good looking book.

In the blurb on the back of the book I wrote “I was not a rebel; I was an idealist who found resources within myself, in the natural world, and in the dumpsters of society to not only exist, but flourish.”

This book is a testament that a normal person, you, just being you, can live a full, fascinating life, maybe one that will inspire others to do the same.

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Peace Prize

I don’t think I had ever heard of World Vision until this year. The first time I heard about it was last March when they reversed their decision to recognize employees’ same-sex marriages. Then I heard a lot about it.

The next time I heard about World Vision happened shortly thereafter. I was looking for an old friend from my youth, the daughter of a missionary I had stayed with in 1964.  I stumbled upon the obituary of her father. It was written by someone I had known on that mission trip to Guatemala in 1964. I remember the conversation when the missionary, John Shackleford, had talked to Don about coming back to Guatemala and devoting his life to a camping program there. He did.

Don helped me get in touch with Pep, the daughter. Barbara and I visited her in June, and I will see her again this week on a trip to California to visit my mother.

I believe Don’s work, and much of the work of Pep and her husband, were supported by World Vision.

We all live in boxes and are unaware of much of the world outside us. It is good to occasionally have a door opened to the world outside ours.

And so it was with a greater sense of context that I received an email last week from an old friend announcing that our mutual friend, Ricardo Esquivia, and his organization, Sembrandopaz, received the International Peace Prize from World Vision.

Here is the announcement from World Vision:

Congratulations to 2014 World Vision International Peace Prize Winner, Sembrandopaz grassroots peacebuilding organisation in Colombia

prizeRicardo Esquivia Ballestas, the Executive Director of Sembrandopaz, said:

“The armed conflict and war have robbed millions of children the opportunity to live their childhood.

“Colombia is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that has not made it out of its armed conflict. For these reasons peace is very important for Colombia.

“We are much honored to receive this award and we will gladly accept it on behalf of all members of the community and community leaders with whom we work. It is their work what really moves us towards peace in Colombia.”

I met Ricardo on a Witness for Peace delegation to Colombia in 2002. It was an interfaith delegation, of about thirty people, representing a variety of churches. We met Ricardo in Bogota, and I was in the group that went to Sincelejo with him.

(The following are excerpts my book: NORMAL: Stories from my Life. The last section of the book is called “Activism” and this story is called “Economic Justice: Part 1. Colombia and the FTAA”)

The initial part of the delegation was a two day conference in Bogota with leaders from the various Christian denominations in Colombia. Ricardo Esquivia had put the conference together. He was a man who was respected by all. One had to respect him because of the incredible work he had done negotiation between rural pastors, the various paramilitary organizations, and the ELN and FARC. Most rural areas of Colombia were not under the control of the government, but under the control of the other armed actors. In these rural areas, the minister of the local church, usually an evangelical church, was the only authority that the armed actors could use to communicate with the population. When there was a change in power the minister would be executed for having cooperated with the opposition force.

Ricardo had personally gone to the headquarters of all of the armed actors, at considerable risk of life, and had created a code of conduct which all parties agreed was permissible for a minister, so that the minister could cooperate with the prevailing force without being seen as aiding them in their cause. It was heroic work, and saved the lives of hundreds of ministers. So when Ricardo called all of the denominations to a meeting with religious leaders of the United States, there was impressive attendance.

As we sat around talking, Ricardo picked up some ripe mangoes that had fallen from the tree under which we were sitting. He passed them around to our group. People didn’t know what to do with them. When one came to me, I peeled it and stuck my face into it and ate the wonderful sticky fruit that dripped down my front. I’ll never forget the smile on Ricardo’s face when he saw me eating that mango.

Years later, his son, Daniel, needed a place to stay in Boston in order to receive a scholarship for a summer course in art. My wife and I gladly volunteered to host him. He stayed with us for two summers and we helped him a bit with tuition for his masters degree at an art academy in New York. We went to Daniel’s master’s exhibit and had dinner with him, Ricardo, and Ricardo’s ex-wife. We also dined with Ricardo at Daniel’s wedding. But I know that Ricardo mainly remembers me from eating that mango.

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Thoughts on life and money

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About ten years ago, my eldest daughter, Anna, produced a “zine” about her thoughts on money and her life. I am reproducing it here for this month’s “Spirit of the Poor” discussion. I will convey any comments to Anna that come my way.

A note from me:
I originally wrote this as a letter to some friends and family but decided to distribute it more widely in zine form because
1) I noticed a lack of zines about race and class at the Boston Zine Library and
2) 2) I love to make easy projects into major summer endeavors. 

Enjoy this zine! Write your own and send it to me! And please be in touch
Xo anna

Dear Friends and Family,

I’ve wanted to write to you all for some time now to share with you some of my ideas and ponderings about money and privilege. I realize as I get older how important family and friends are and want to continue to build my relationships with al of you (even folks I haven’t spoken to in years!). What I’m hoping for, as much as to update you on my life, is to hear your thoughts and responses. I know many of you have spent more time than me thinking about and making decisions based on this touch and taboo subject and I am hopeful and eager to begin ongoing dialogs with any of you who are interested. Also, if you just want to write back and say hi I’d love that too.

I am going to begin by setting the stage: giving you a little overview of who I am, where I come from, and a few of the events that have impacted me and decisions that I have made in the past few years.

Then I will reflect a bit on privilege and social justice work.

Finally, in typical Anna fashion, I’ll put out a billion questions and a few conclusions (which will probably even change as I write this letter).

I grew up in Cambridge, MA, known as one of the countries most liberal, “multicultural”, and di verse cities. I grew up around kids from many different ethnicities, races and class backgrounds. This, of course, along with the multi-cultural murals throughout my town, lead me to believe that in Cambridge everyone was equal, and that I did not benefit from a racist system nor did I possess any internalized racism. (I like to think about internalized racism and classism as the ways in which our (my) very culture as people with privilege is steeped in assumptions of superiority.)

I even went so far as to believe that I had experienced racism because, being a white kid in an often majority people of color school setting, I had often experienced prejudice against me because of my white skin, (this is often referred to as reverse racism). In addition, I grew up believing my family was on the lower end of the economic spectrum because my parents were musicians, and had little yearly income, spent money thriftily, and did not value material things or wealth.

My experiences leaving home and attending three different private institutions: first Idyllwild Arts Academy and then Smith and Oberlin Colleges, opened my eyes to the race and class privilege I had grown up with and never recognized. At Oberlin I remember crying at the financial aid office when they told me I was un-eligible for any aid. I only really realized my family had money when, later that afternoon, my dad told me on the phone, (and he had been telling me this since high school), “Anna, don’t worry about it, we’ll figure out a way to pay for it.” My family had always made it clear to me that taking out big loans was not a necessity. Most cannot afford to pay $25,000/year for college without going into extreme debt. At the same time, my professors and fellow classmates, specifically classes taught by and attended by people of color at Oberlin in the African-American studies and Women’s Studies departments, made me realize, that no one is exempt from engaging in, experiencing or benefiting from racism.

And in fact, that race is inextricably linked to class mobility in this country.

I began to look into the money my family had. It was very confusing to me as I’d grown up thinking not only that we didn’t have much money but also that money (and people with money) were pretty much no good. Here’ what I found out. My mother’s parents were first generation Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. After growing up in a working class Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, my grandfather entered the army in WW2 and, upon discharge, benefited from the GI bill, which eventually lead him to become head of the biology department at U.C. Santa Barbara.

My father’s family, since their early migration to the US from Western Europe, were small farmers in the mid-west (and later California). My dad’s dad also benefited from the GI bill, went back to school and became an engineer, moved to an all white suburb outside of LA, and became middle class.

Later on, my grandparents inherited a bunch of stock from my great great-aunt who had married a man who started an electric company, which eventually “went public” meaning entered the stock market. The stock my grandparents inherited has now been passed down and divided among my dad’s entire family (including to my sister and I). Both sets of my grandparent’s experiences huge class mobility within their life times.

As a result; my parents both having PhD’s, all of our family friends are will educated and upward from middle class, my family owns a house worth $500,000 in Cambridge, and thus far I have inherited a bout $120,000.

These resources give me access to an unlimited amount of money, jobs, loans, grants and connections. And all of this access and money is available to me, in large part, because my family and I are white and live in a world where w are systematically rewarded simply for having white skin, a “white” way of speaking, “white” mannerisms and “white” interests.

It is not easy for a 19 year old who grew up believing money was evil to figure out what to do with $70,000. I realized that ignoring the money, something many young folks are told to do, was a privilege and that in fact the very idea that money is evil is a privilege I could afford to have because I grew up with a sense of economic security.

Most of the money I had was in stocks. Thankfully, I met an awesome person named Donna who ran a socially responsible investment business (Rainbow Solutions) to talk through my options with. Through my discussions with her I realized that my most basic beliefs and values would not allow me to conscientiously participate in the stock market at all.

Donna told me about alternative to Socially Responsible investment like share holder activisms and community investment. I decided that using the money for “community investment” would make the most sense to me. When the question of interest rates came p (there was a option of choosing a 5%, 2%, or 0%) I decided that for me to charge any interest and thereby make money off of low income folks merely because I had money to start with was totally out of line and for lack of better words, (messed) up.

In the end I looked around and saw that my own community needed investing in. My friend was in considerable debt from a high interest student loan. Loan companies have started targeting low- income families like hers with children looking to go to college offering them huge loans at exorbitant interest rates that leave folks paying off debt 30 years after graduating. I approached her about the loan and after much discussion we wrote up, signed, and notarized an agreement for me to loan her the money to pay off her debt at 0-% interest rate. She is now putting money into a bank account at whatever amount/month she works out with the intention of paying the loan back in 10 years.

So on to the activism…

Since entering college I have been engaged in a lot of activism around foreign policy, global economics, and labor rights. For most of that time I worked mainly with other privileged students and adults to support movements in Latin America, to pressure congress about international policy, to support strikes, to organize protests against war and free trade. We talked of the oppressed and the oppressors and fought desperately to place ourselves on the side of the oppressed.

It was a rarely spoken truth that most of us were rich and white, and when this was spoken it was with a sense of guilt, shame or failure. Differences between us, when there were class or race differences, were never talked about. Even in groups where fighting racism, classism and sexism were integral to the mission of the work, we were so action oriented that we were always to busy organizing other people to sit down and talk about our own race, class and gender experiences.

At some point I began attending “antioppression” tranings (trainings developed by activists for activists for activists about recognizing oppression and privilege within the movements we were a part of.) These trainings helped me realize that my identity as a rich white girl could not be separated from my activism but instead must inform and shape my acitivism (and all aspects of my life.) The message I got was that change needs to happen not just in oppressed communities but also in all communities including my own, and that I am best equipped to change my own community.

So, my community … who/what is my community? I consider you all to be party of my many communities. You are my family, biological or chosen. The young college bound or college graduates. Radical dropouts, (or folks that talked about dropping out but never did). Hippies and punks. Artists. Queer folks. White people from urban areas. People with money who aren’t proud of it. Gentrifiers who know they are gentrifiers.

And what issues do we struggle with? Well, shit, I can’t speak for you all, but here THIS is what I struggle with. Guilt. Internalized racism and chlassism that won’t leave me alone. The looming question of what to do with mhy money (and my life.) Being part of a dominating culture of silence, avoiding conflict, keeping order, and repressing emotions. Depression.

In June 2004, (a year ago), I stopped working t Jobs with Justice. I needed a breath of air from the activist world; time to really think about my class, race and gender and how from my life and experiences, to be most effective at creating change in the world. I started talking to folks from an organization called Resource Generation; a group that works with young people who self identify as privileged to help mobilize their resources and address issues that come up in communities of wealth. I am currently helping to organize an annual conference called Making Money Make Change. The conference will bring together 60 young people with wealth to talk about privilege, money, and how to better engage in and be an ally in the movement for social justice.

In this work and in every aspect of my life I continue to struggle with many questions. Some questions I have found at least temporarily satisfactory answers to, and others remain too complicated to even attempt to solve. The following are some of the conclusions I have come to. Please feel free to challenge them and be challenged by them.

CONCLUSIONS?
1. I think that for people with privilege, socially responsible investment, if that is the end result of what you choose to do with an excess of money, is an easy way to be a capitalist and feel you are doing good in the world without actually re-distributing any wealth.
2. I think that as people with privilege, it is our responsibility to challenge the notion of interest: Why do we expect that if we have money we should be able to make more money off of it? Isn’t it just a recipe for widening the wealth gap?
3. Finally, while I do think that giving away money is an extremely important part of being an activist with wealth, it also feels like just a tiny contribution to the movement for social justice, after all, many of us got this money in not so nice ways, re-distributing it is the least we can do.

And then there are those questions, perhaps the bigger questions that continue to buzz through my head.

When and how do I give away the money I have?

How can I give away money without gaining more power for myself in the process simply by choosing how and who to fund?

What would being a real ally look like?

How can I balance being a responsible person and being engaged in activities I love?

How can I best use my resources to make change? Is it by giving away all my money and working like everyone else? Getting a degree/profession to use? Being a full time un-paid activist and living off my wealth?

I want to know about decisions you have made based on money and privilege, jobs, life style, organizing and who those were/are influenced or based on your class or race (or gender). I respect each and every one of you and am excited to hear your thoughts, responses, stories and anything else you want to share.

For now, these are the things I plan on doing; I am going to create a giving plan to strategically give away all the money I have inherited. I am going to practice real solidarity by engaging in local struggles. I will be upfront and honest about who I am. I will try to see all situations and interactions with a race, class and gender analysis. I will continue organizing in communities of privilege. I will continue to talk about and work out my own internalized racism and classism. I will work to recognize and stop the cultural appropriation and the tokenization of people of color and poor folks. I will stop feeling guilty for the privilege I was born with that I can’t give away, take back or reverse.

Whew, I think that’s it 🙂 thanks for reading this absurdly long essay/letter/zine! Please take your time writing back! No pressure. And again, if you just want to write and say hi, that’s totally wonderful for me.

Much love to all of you
Anna Hendricks

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Yesterday was wine making day

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Yesterday I finished making my wine. I had put up almost 3 gallons last week, and once that fermented, I transferred it to a 3 gallon glass jug and began my second day of winemaking.

I have one vine that is on the border between my yard and my neaigbor’s yard.  The main branch travles along the split rail fence, then climbs a post and spreads out over a 6′ x 24′ arbor.

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I climb a ladder with a plastic shopping bag in one arm and pick the grapes with the other hand.  2wine 037

 I can usually fill the bag with the grapes betwen two joists.

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The grapes go in the sink to get washed and then I seperate them from the stems and put them all in a lobster pot.

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With a towel and basin next to the pot I am ready to stomp on the grapes.

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I pour the stomped grapes into a collander over the plastic bucket.  I always have to put knives or spatulas through the handles of the collander to make sure it doesn’t fall into the bucket.

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I put all of the pulp in a plastic bag and let the end hang over the table so that the weight of the pulp on itself squeezes the last bit of juice from the grapes into the bucket. 

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11:00 p.m. I have another 4 1/2 gallons of juice.  If you look closely at the bucket you can see that the juice is at 4 1/2 gallons.  In the morning, another 1/2 gallon of juice had collected from the draining pulp.

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Today I put sterilizing tablets in the tub.  Tomorow I’ll put 5 cups of suggar, some nutritional yeast, a little acid, and some wine culture and put the top on the bucket.  Soon the fermenting will make the bung bubble and pop.  When that stops in about a week, the wine is fermented.  Then I’ll transfer it to glass jugs.  I’ll fill up the one I started last week, fill another 3 gallon jug, and one more 1 gallon jug.  In about 2 months the wine will be clear enough to bottle up.  I have a root cellar where I store it.

A lot of the grapes dried up in July, so next year I will need to water more, and also do more pruning to make sure that the new leaves aren’t taking the water from the grapes.  But I should get about 35 bottles of wine by mid November, soon enough to give some away at Christmas.  Send me your address if you want a bottle.

Newell

 

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The Place we call “The Land”

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Thirty-three years ago my wife and I, along with three other families, bought some property in western Massachusetts. We called it “The Land”, because that’s all that there was. Now there is a house with a big screened in porch, a tool shed, a gazebo, and another cabin which I call my “Hermatige.”  There is also a garden, a small orchard, and there has always been a stream. Last week we spent several days there, the weekend of the Cummington Fair, with our daughters and their children. It is a precious place for us, and I thought I’d share some of the images with you.

The main house:

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The tool shed was the second structure to go up, then the screened-in porch:

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Stitched Panorama

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The outdoor shower on the side of the house has been a recent luxury.

The Gazebo provides a quiet screened-in place to think, converse, read, or write.  It also is a wonderful extra bedroom in the hot summer months.

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The Hermatige was added four years ago.  It is 10′ x 12′ with a loft; about 500′ from the main house.  It has it’s own water barrel, fireplace, and outhouse.

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But it is still the land which defines the place.  Here is the clearing with a garden and orchard with 6 fruit trees, raspberries, and a grape arbor.

 

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The garden wasn’t weeded last year, but in May I was able to clear a few beds and now have butternut squash, potatoes, garlic, and a few summer squash and kale.

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The stream has always been there.  I once encountered a bear at this swimming hole.

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Nearby is the Plainfield pond where we can pick enough blueberries from the canoe to make a very full blueberry pie.

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And the fourth weekend of every August is the CUMMINGTON FAIR.

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