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Articles by " Bev Scott"
21 Jun
2017

Is the U.S. Facing the Same Risks as Ancient Greece?

 

The Ancient World of Greece

I recently returned from a fascinating and educational trip in Greece. We traveled to Athens and four of the islands in The Cyclades–Mykonos, Delos, Paros and Santorini– plus Crete. We also traveled through time back 4000 years as we visited antiquities and ancient excavations of the Bronze Age.

Blue Mediterranean Sea as viewed from Santorini, Greece

Another view of Santorini, coastal hillside dwellings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I am not a historian, I will not go into detail about these ancient civilizations. However, as we visited the ancient sites of the Minoan civilization (2000-1450 BCE), I was impressed by their architecture and expressive culture and the art which decorated their palaces. In these sites on Santorini and Crete we saw “well-appointed, monumental structures with large courts, colonnades, staircases, religious crypts, light-wells, drainage systems, extensive storage magazines and even ‘theatre’ areas for public spectacles.” Amazing architecture created 4000 years ago!

What Can We Learn for Today?

Sign pointing to site of Akrotiri in Greece, destroyed by eruption of volcano Thera in ancient times.

Unfortunately, these magnificent cities were either destroyed by the eruption of the volcano Thera which destroyed Akrotiri on Santorini between 1650-1550 BCE or by the more aggressive and militaristic Mycenaean culture. And, according to our guide, Minoan culture was more creative and expressive, perhaps even advanced. I found myself asking, as we in the U.S.  struggle with our definitions of “greatness” and the role of our leadership in the world, what can we learn from these cultures that have risen and fallen in the past?

Natural disasters, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, have eliminated flourishing civilizations and advanced cultures for millennia around the world. Aggression and militaristic invasions by stronger cultures have undermined societies providing cultural, social or economic leadership, and set back cultural advancement for centuries. During the period we refer to as the “Dark Ages,” European cultures retreated and lost the benefit of many Roman innovations for centuries.

Will We Wither and Fail?

Ancient Greek artifacts, remnants of furniture

Do we face these risks in the U.S now? We are divided about our definitions of “greatness” as well as what our leadership role means. Global warming threatens our planet. Yet, if we don’t take action or don’t take action fast enough, “natural” disasters are likely to weaken and destroy cities and towns in our own country, or bring out international aggressive pursuit of water rights where drought threatens. Or, the mixed signals of the US role in international agreements, diplomacy and world leadership, might result in the use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East or the Korean Peninsula. Many other issues can also be listed. Will the U.S. also wither and fail to maintain our democratic, technological and political leadership in the world?

What is your definition of “greatness” for the U.S.? Will we go the way of other failed or weakened civilizations? Or, will we be able to salvage our leadership and establish a better and more progressive role in the future?

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10 May
2017

Interview with “Sarah Martin”

“Sarah Martin” is the key protagonist of my novel. Some readers have posed questions wanting to learn more about Sarah. Curiosity is good, and I’m pleased that readers are engaged enough in the story to wonder a little more about my character’s background.

To answer the questions raised by readers, I’ve conducted a “virtual interview” with Sarah, whose story is based on my real grandmother’s life. I hope this interview will reveal some of the back story and satisfy readers’ curiosity. Sarah’s answers below are as close to the real-life situation as I know.

Since this is historical fiction, you can choose to think of other ways that the character Sarah could have answered the questions! When you read the interview, imagine someone like Sarah and see if you think my interview captures what such a person might say in reply to my questions. People were much more private back then, and it was easy to hide secrets. Of course, this was a key premise of the book!

——————————-

Grandma Scott, portrait

The real Grandma Scott served as inspiration for “Sarah Martin.”

Imagine Sarah Martin at seventy, petite, dressed in a cotton house dress, with a shawl over her shoulders. She takes each step with care and caution as she moves toward the rocking chair. Her gait is uneven as she favors one knee. She wears special shoes to accommodate her crippled feet. Before she looks up, she lowers herself into the chair and smooths her skirt over her knees.  She looks directly at me with a tentative smile and then she looks down.

I begin:

BAS: “Thank you, Mrs. Martin, for agreeing to be interviewed. The readers of “Sarah’s Secret” have asked questions about the background of the story and what happened in your life after the story in the book ends. Do you mind answering a few questions?”

Sarah Martin (SM): [She pulls out a lace trimmed hankie from her sleeve and fingers it in her gnarled hands.] “I’ve never been interviewed like this before. I’m nervous.” [She takes in a deep breath, lifts her head, and smiles.] “Please call me Sarah.  What would your readers like to know?”

BAS: “Let’s talk about Sam. What attracted you to a man who was so much older than you were?”

SM: [Leaning forward in her chair and rocking slowly, her hands quiet in her lap, she smiles.] “Well, he was a very handsome man and I was a spinster school teacher. He was very kind, interesting and a good conversationalist.” [Pausing as if she might be considering her next words] “Of course, now, I don’t know how much he was pulling my leg sometimes.”

BAS: “What do you mean, ‘pulling your leg’”?

SM: [With the firm confidence of a teacher] “That is an expression we use when someone exaggerates and tells stories.”

BAS: “So he didn’t tell you the truth about his life before you met? What did he tell you?”

SM: [Sarcastically] “Not much that was true”.

BAS: “And you accepted enough of what he did tell you to marry him?”

SM: [Slumping in her chair and lowering her eyes, toying with her hankie] “Yes, I trusted him. It turned out I was naïve. I thought he would be a good husband and father. I wanted children of my own. He did give me five wonderful children.” [She stops rocking and straightens her back. With wide eyes and defiance] “I have never told them the truth about Sam. And I don’t want you to either. I want them to feel positively about their father.”

BAS: “Don’t worry your children aren’t around anymore. They won’t find out. But, why didn’t you want them to know the truth?”

SM: [Sounding defensive] “I didn’t want my children to be as embarrassed and humiliated as I was.”

BAS: “Did you know he came from Indiana? And that his father died when he was four? His mother died in the poor house with no one to support her. I think Sam had essentially abandoned his mother to the poor house.”

SM: [With sarcasm] “Abandoning women in his life seems to have been a habit!” [Rocking again in an even voice) “He never mentioned his roots, only that his family was gone and he wanted to create his own family with me. I wanted children too. He was a good husband. My family approved of him although they wondered why he had never been married before.” [Her eyes wide and she lets out a short laugh.) “It turns out there was reason to wonder.” [Suddenly sharp and irritated] “I don’t want to spend time talking about him anymore.”

BAS: “You were left destitute when your husband died. How did you manage?”

SM: [Patiently explaining] “I had hoped to get the Widows Benefits from Sam’s service but that didn’t happen. I went back to teaching. I had been a teacher before we were married. Of course, the older boys helped to support us and we lived very simply.  I have few needs.”

Old-time Classroom Scene

BAS: “But I thought school boards frowned on hiring married women. How did you manage to get hired?”

SM: “Well initially, I was a replacement for my nephew who went into the army. Also, because Sam was gone they accepted me as a single woman. It helped that my family had homesteaded the area and my father was a respected judge. Of course, he died before I could get back to Nebraska. So, he wasn’t any help in dealing with some of the hostile town folk”.

BAS: “Why were they so hostile?”

SM: “There was one man in town who was angry with my family because of a disagreement over water rights.  He vowed to get even so he spread rumors about me and Sam.”

BAS: “Does that have anything to do with why you didn’t get Widows Benefits?”

SM: [Offended] “No, that was a government decision.”

BAS: “But why didn’t you get them? What reason did they tell you? And why didn’t you ever tell anyone”

SM: [Sharply] “That is something I have never discussed with anyone. It was too humiliating.”

BAS: “You were school superintendent of Thomas County. Are you proud to be possibly the first woman school superintendent in Nebraska?”

SM: [Frowns and looks confused] “Proud? I was proud that I did the best job I could. I made some mistakes. I learned how to deal with the problems…but I don’t have any thoughts about being proud to be the first woman. That would be unseemly to feel that way.” [Pausing before she continues] “I had to leave after a few years because my illness got worse. I took my two youngest children to live in Wyoming near my middle son who homesteaded there. They graduated from high school. I am very proud that they went on to college and ultimately graduated. They each supported themselves working to pay for school so it took a few years. All of my children were very good to me and helped support me into my old age. I am proud to have sixteen grandchildren.” [Wistful] “I haven’t even met all my great grandchildren.”

SM: [Quiet, seemingly lost in her memories. Then, abruptly] “That’s enough.  I don’t want to answer any more questions.”

END

Blackboard "History"

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28 Apr
2017

Independent Bookstore Day

Independent Bookstore DayWhere do you buy your books?  Your local independent bookstore?  Or online?

You may have heard that bookstores are going away. But that is not true. They are growing and expanding. They actually increased more than 20% between 2009 and 2014. The American Booksellers Association reports an increase of 8% a year. Among other reasons, this growth has been helped by the buy-local movement that has helped many small business owners.

Independent bookstores are more than a store that sells books. They are community centers in their neighborhoods holding and promoting events unique to their communities. They are celebrated landmarks, anchors for shopping districts, neighborhood performance spaces and quiet retreats for a rainy afternoon. They are run and staffed with passionate readers who are fonts of information to help you find the right book.

Saturday, April 29 is Independent Bookstore Day

Independent Bookstore Day Logo

Bookstores will have parties to celebrate with authors, balloons, refreshments, games and fun activities for adults and kids. Independent bookstores are vibrant community resources and they deserve your support. This is an opportunity to celebrate and support your neighborhood bookstore.

If you live in San Francisco, here is a list of the The 12 Best Independent Bookstores in SF.  Don’t live or work in San Francisco? Here is a map to locate your an independent bookstore near you.

Support your local independent bookstore.

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14 Apr
2017

Launch, Crunch, Oh My! Introducing Sarah’s Secret to the World

Airplane banner Sarah's Secret

A Time to Celebrate

The room was bubbling with conversation, laughter and congratulations. The book cover was fabulous and everyone loved the title. I felt energized and pleased. When I read suspenseful excerpts from the story, the audience wanted to know what happens next. Many of my guests engaged me with questions about the story and my journey as an author. I had finally held my very first book launch event, in January 2017.

Despite several guest cancellations due to a winter rain storm of epic proportions, I had an overflow crowd. I autographed and sold many books which was gratifying. Thus, I looked forward to the second launch party in February. But that was not to be. On the last day of January, I tripped and fell, breaking my arm near my wrist.

 A Time to Step Back

Since I needed to have surgery on my arm, I was forced to cancel a week’s vacation in Hawaii and the second book launch party. I solicited help to complete the publication on Amazon Kindle and Ingram Spark; friends came to visit and brought me meals. I had to learn to let go and let others take care of my needs. Once I accepted this slight twist of fate, I felt deep gratitude for the supportive community that surrounded me.

Journey of Independent Publishing

I’ve experienced quite a journey of research, learning how to write historical fiction, writing many drafts and deciding how to publish. Although this was my first novel, writing and editing were familiar from my prior work in non-fiction. But I had no idea what was in store when I decided to self-publish. I joined the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) and learned a lot from the generous and experienced members. Publishing tasks and promotion tasks piled up on my to-do list. Even so I didn’t know about the promotional advantage of scheduling the “Cover Reveal.” I missed understanding about fixing the launch date far enough in advance to have time to send out advance reader copies for review and to set up a pre-order process.

Who’s Coming to the Party?Plan A B C

As I planned the book launch, I was thrilled to have a friend offer a venue for a second launch party. So initially, I sent out invitations via an online event management program for guests to choose one of two dates. That turned out to be complicated and some people overlooked the need for an RSVP to get the venue address resulting in much confusion and frantic emails.

This reminded me that coordinating any sizable event, with RSVPs, is still a big undertaking despite the software and apps that supposedly “simplify” the process. I learned that many people still do not respond to or are a bit baffled by e-invite systems. I had to keep updating my “e-list” manually and respond to emails sent to me directly. I felt anxiety because my invitees were good friends, colleagues and family members. What if I inadvertently had left someone out or forgotten to follow up?

Lessons Learned

Still, despite the challenges and the weather, the first launch party was a great success. Now as we begin to re-schedule the second book party, I look back on what I learned about launching my book:Magazine with Sarah's Secret

  • Most importantly, given my goals for the book, I don’t need to rush to meet anyone else’s expectations or schedules. Stressful deadlines are not worth it. I have enjoyed my slower pace.
  • It is important to plan extra time for key first time tasks that are likely to take longer than expected.
  • There are many ways to promote and launch a self-published book; and all of them don’t necessarily fit for my book.
  • Simplifying the invitation process makes it easier on both the guests and the host.
  • Appreciate colleagues and friends who provide support and laughter for the milestones.
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28 Mar
2017

Women’s History Month: Sarah and Grandma’s Inspiration  

“Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less.” 

Myra Pollack Sadker*

Women's History Month

Grandma’s Inspiration

My grandmother, Ellen Russell Scott, inspired and motivated me as I was growing up. She was in constant pain from rheumatoid arthritis, yet she seldom complained. She shared a smile with everyone she encountered. As a former teacher, Ellen valued education and encouraged me to get good grades and do the best I could.

I agree with the National Women’s History Project, (NWHP) that “We draw strength and inspiration from those who came before us.” My hope in writing a story based on Ellen’s life, “Sarah’s Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness,” was that others would find inspiration in her courage and her strength.

Sarah

The character of Sarah is devastated by the loss of her husband Sam, as I imagined Ellen must have been when my grandfather H.D. Scott died leaving her a widow with five children. Here is an excerpt from the book.

Immediately after his death, she steps outside…

”I felt myself shiver.  The wind was unusually still for New Mexico, but the air was crisp and cold. I went back inside. I wanted to feel the heat from the fire in the stove. I wanted to be warm, really warm.  I sat down in my rocking chair rocking slowly. The coldness inside moved up my back and tingled at the nape of my neck….

“’I’m, a widow.’ I said aloud. I was alone, completely responsible for the children, not just for a few weeks or the winter season until Sam returned. I felt cold, flat. I opened my Bible, hoping for solace. I began to survey the landscape of my mind, much as I had the landscape outside. My mind was a closed book with all the memories of my life with Sam shut away.  ‘I am alone’…”

But Sarah, like many women alone today, pulls herself together, finds the courage and fortitude to take her five children back to Nebraska.

Sarah Finds Strength and Confidence

The back story of Sam, a fictional character, is based only on limited information about my grandfather, a man not as Sarah experienced him nor what the reader expects. Sarah must face the betrayal of her trusted husband. Like many women who face adversity, Sarah finds through the humiliation of betrayal and her struggle to hold her family together, the strength and confidence within herself to take a position as the first woman school superintendent in the state of Nebraska.

Women’s History Overlooked

Without knowing about the women in our history or in our family stories we lose the opportunity to find role models, be inspired and dream about our future. As we know, women in our diverse American cultures are overlooked in mainstream history. Yet, as the NWHP website states, “they are part of our story, and a truly balanced and inclusive history recognizes how important women have always been in American society.”

I am grateful to the National Women’s History Project founded over 30 years ago in Santa Rosa, CA. NWHP serves as a catalyst, a leader and a resource in promoting women and their role in our American history. In 1978, they initiated a week of celebration of “Women’s History.” Congress ultimately declared March as Women’s History Month in 1987. This month is in recognition of the importance of women in our history. A balanced and inclusive history must not make the mistake of ignoring the critical role and contribution of women.

The Power of History and Inspiration

Knowing the stories of women from our own families, acknowledging the contributions of women in our cultural heritage and giving recognition to the historical achievement of the women overlooked in our history books, helps us know who we are. Then we can feel the power of inspiration and ignite our dreams.

What stories do you know about the women in your family history? What women in your life have inspired and motivated you?


*Quoted on the website of the National Women’s History Project.

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15 Mar
2017

Calling Fans and Friends

Sarah's Secret on metro building

“Sarah” and I need your help.

Self-publishing authors like me depend on word-of-mouth and social connections to help sell books. In addition, breaking my arm and having surgery put me behind in my marketing efforts. As a friend or a fan of “Sarah,” would you be willing to help spread the word?

Team Sarah Needs Your Help

I’d love you to join “Team Sarah” to help in any of the following ways.

• Identify bookstores where I could do a reading from Sarah’s Secret. Finding out the name of the person who schedules readings would be really helpful. With the book now available at IndieBound, it’s a good time to reach out to bookstores.

• “Think outside the bookstore.” I can do a reading at a different venue, such as a private “book party” for friends, at a writing class or library.

• Order Sarah’s Secret from your favorite independent bookstore. Talk to bookstore staff who are interested in local authors and new titles.

• Publish a review on Amazon.com, I-Books, Goodreads, or any other retailer or book readers’ website. Thank you to all who have already posted a review.

• Go to Goodreads.com, add Sarah’s Secret to your “book to read list” and make me your Goodreads friend.

• Post a question for me on my Goodreads.com author profile: Ask the Author! I promise to post an answer.

More Ways to Help

• Ask your book club to read Sarah’s Secret this year. A book club reader guide is available in the book. I am willing to come for the discussion for local groups or use Skype if the groups is too far away.

• Refer me to local hiCalling Fans and Friendstorical or genealogy groups. I would love to talk about my genealogy research journey, women in the West, homesteaders in the Great Plains, or similar topics from Sarah’s Secret.

• Connect me with blogging sites focused on history of the West, genealogy and family research, women in U.S. history or other related topics. I’d love to get your ideas and referrals.

• Post a recommendation of Sarah’s Secret on your social media sites, e.g. Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest and Twitter. Re-post announcements from my sites or use my website link to refer your friends.

• Recommend me as a presenter or speaker for special events or conferences. Let me know who to contact.

• Introduce me to print, radio or broadcast reporters covering books, lifestyle features, local interest or similar topics willing to do an interview or short feature.

• Ask your local library to order Sarah’s Secret.

• Include an announcement in your own websites, newsletters and blogs about Sarah’s Secret with a link so people can sign up for my updates: http://sarahssecret.subscribemenow.com

Send me your ideas for marketing Sarah’s Secret. Be creative.

Contact me for background info, descriptions and announcements. bev@bevscott.com

Sarah and I thank you for joining the Team!

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9 Feb
2017
Posted in: Book Reviews
By    No Comments

Book Review: “Colorado Dream” (The Front Range Series) by Charlene Whitman

 

Reviewed by Bev Scott

Colorado Dream by Charlene Whitman, book reviewed by Bev ScottMy first book by Charlene Whitman kept me engaged through most of the story to the happy ending.  The writing is excellent and the story line is unique, a young Italian girl comes from New York to commission a violin from an exceptional violin maker in Greeley, Colorado in 1877.  Of course, Angela meets a handsome cowboy, Brett.  Although she is drawn to him she rejects him as uncouth, uncultured and dangerous.  Brett falls hard for her but believes she is too sophisticated and cultured to care for a cowboy.  He is sure she rejects him and will return with her new violin to New York.  A sweet romantic story, but I found the constant description of the physical and emotional attraction between the protagonists as way over-done.  Consequently, I lost interest toward the end.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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3 Feb
2017

One Week Later

I am in shock. My head is spinning. I am sick. I am terrified! As a life-long member of the “glass-half-full” club, I keep looking for an optimistic approach to all of the damage to our democracy. There must be a small streak of light behind these enormous dark clouds.

It has been a week!! The man, who shall not be named, along with his Cabinet nominees and the Republican Congressional leadership have taken collective unprecedented action. He and they have frozen, denounced, gagged, lied, censored, defunded, threatened, arrested, discriminated against and destroyed people and programs which serve the vulnerable, defend civil rights, protect our environment, safeguard our Constitutional freedoms, conduct investigative journalism and cooperate with long-time US allies.Dear Mr. President, a Week Later Jan 2017

Then I remember last Saturday. I felt a sense of unity, respect, courtesy, camaraderie, diversity, dedication, enthusiasm. The experience was uplifting and heartwarming…a bright light shining through the clouds. The numbers of cities and towns around the country and even around the world. The latest numbers are between 3.5 and 4.5 million marchers in the U.S. alone. It was a Women’s March. But it wasn’t just women. There were a high percentage of men, and children too,…people of all ages. It wasn’t just white. There were many hues of black, brown and tan. This march suggested, organized and led by women is an expanding streak of light in those dark clouds.

The energy we felt, that we needed to lift our spirits, to focus our resistance and to encourage our actions, is beginning to move us forward. The Women’s March on Washington is encouraging ten actions for the first 100 Days, beginning with sending postcards to our senators. In an effort to mobilize and change the majority in the House, Swing Left is asking us to get involved and organize in swing districts. Senator Warren and Congressman Cummings  of Maryland led an effort to get an audit of T’s finances by requesting emails be sent to the General Accounting Office. The GAO has reportedly responded stating they have accepted the request and will “conduct the work in the same non-partisan, fact-based approach we take with all Congressional requests.” I am sure there are many other efforts underway propelled by the energy that poured into the streets across the country.Women's March Jan 2017 NYC

That streak of light I was looking for is much bigger than I hoped. It is not just in reaction to “him” but he has been the spark that lit the fire that has brought us together in ways we haven’t seen in decades. Winston Churchill said that, “The United States is like a gigantic boiler. Once the fire is lit under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate.” The fire has been lit.  We must continue to add fuel to the flames. Let’s use the power of that fire to transform on our country to a more participatory, egalitarian democracy that provides opportunity, education, health care, choice, freedom, protects our environment and respects all of us regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age or disability.

That vision may be a long way in the future, but it is the future I hope for my grandsons and their children. I am going to follow Robert Muller’s advice when he said, “Use every letter you write; every conversation you have; every meeting you attend, to express your fundamental beliefs and dreams. Affirm to others the vision of the world you want.”

I am going to take action, speak out, write, march, stay informed and continue to look for the expanding light to drive the dark clouds away and move toward my vision. What will you do?

(Originally written the week of January 23, 2017, after the Women’s March)

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20 Dec
2016
Posted in: Book Reviews
By    1 Comment

Book Review: “Role Montage: A Creative New Way to Discover the Leader Within You” by Jan Schmuckler

 

Reviewed by Bev Scott

Role Montage by Jan Schmuckler, Reviewed by Bev ScottLearning how to be a leader is a challenge for newly appointed managers or supervisors and finding a mentor to help is often not possible. Jan Schmuckler has provided us with a clear and helpful process to find our own leadership style within ourselves. How I wish I had such a guide when I was a new, young manager! With an emphasis on self-awareness which is key to becoming a successful leader, the reader is guided through the steps of identifying the qualities in others both real and fiction that we admire, and creating the “montage” of the leader we would like to be.

This is a must have guidebook for every new or developing leader.

Author information: Jan Schmuckler.

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13 Dec
2016

The Season of Sharing or the Season of Taking Back?

“What matters nowSeason of Sharing or Season of Taking Back

in these dimmer days

when gloom and doom

conversations occupy the tables

in every corner of concern?…”

(From: What Matters Now by Minx Boren)

It is the “season of sharing” and the “season of hope.” Hope for peace and a better future. Yet, I find myself, like many of those around me experiencing these as days of “gloom and doom.” This year of blame, name calling, fabricated lies and divisiveness is coming to an end. I would like to feel optimistic and confident about next year, about our future. But it is hard.

In the research for my novel based on the lives of my grandparents, I was inspired by the grit and determination of the pioneer homesteaders who lived in lonely isolation on the prairie, daring to find hope, support and community. They held values of generosity and sharing, even among those with very little themselves like my grandparents. Giving to those most needy was a common practice. For homesteaders who often lived miles from their nearest neighbors, Christmas was a time of sharing and  gathering in community. I imagine my grandparents and their children dressed in their “Sunday best” traveling by horse and wagon or by sleigh to visit with neighbors. Perhaps they gathered at the small community church to meet for religious services, share potluck meals and sing carols around a piano or accompanied by a guitar or a banjo.

This is our heritage of the “season of sharing,” remembering those less fortunate and sharing what we have in community. In the analysis of the election results, we are hearing that the messages which tapped into hunger and nostalgia for our past were successful. Minx Boren captures some of the longing in the next stanza of her poem…

“What counts now

when countless folk

feel harried and hungry

for the richness of more

fulfilling times

when gold stars of hope

are needed to illuminate

their heavens and give weight to

their wishes?…”

baby-203048_640Unfortunately, that nostalgia reflected in the election results is for a past where the “richness of more fulfilling times” offered narrow benefits primarily to the privileged who were mostly white and male. Many of us do not want to return to that past. We believe in the advancement of our human rights and we appreciate our health care and our creature comforts. I have no nostalgia for my grandparents’ life in an underground dugout, traveling by horse and wagon and suffering illness and the early death of loved ones. However, I do find myself longing for the prairie heritage of community, willingness to share and to offer freely given support to those in need. That heritage contrasts with the individualism, meanness and greed… what seems to me to be the “season of taking back.” Looking for the “gold stars of hope,” described in Boren’s poem, is very challenging as I listen to the pronouncements of our new President and the appointments he is making to his cabinet.

He is taking back hope, dreams, protection, human rights and probably jobs, too. No wonder we are discouraged and dismayed by what this picture of the future suggests. However, I believe that we must not succumb to numbness, depression and despair that will keep us from envisioning the opportunities of what a brighter future could be. We must not normalize greed, meanness and bigotry. The future I want for us is a future that requires us to get involved, take action, build community, keep the vulnerable safe, speak up for individual rights and in the spirit of giving, be as generous of heart, soul and material goods as we can be. Boren says it well.

203109085159854.qYotWm8aebebBJhG5fmT_height640“…What matters and what counts

are imagination and inspiration…

and a roll up our sleeves movement

of such magnitude that the future

can hear us coming

with our heads held high

above the cloudy predictions

and our knap sacks filled with

our gumption and our grit

our gifts and our gratitudes –

the building blocks of new

cornerstones of possibility.”

Let’s create our brighter future!

(Poem excerpts from What Matters Now by Minx Boren, poet and author.)

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