Archive for September, 2009

I went to MCI-Norfolk prison today to start basic training in the Alternatives to Violence Program www.avpma.org there isn’t any pay, but there is a big payoff. I was hoping I would be able to work with women. However, Norfolk only houses men.  I’ve taught in the Dallas County Jail education program so I’m not freaked out by the work.  I find it sacred. I have seen inmates turn their life around and make positive changes in their lives.

The guys I worked with this weekend were armed robbers and murderers most would be rereleased in a year or so, quite a few were lifers and would never leave the walls of the prison alive. One an Asian  man 28 or so, entered the system at age 15 for murder;  others had killed brothers, best friends and wives.  My horoscope mentions Lion Tamer as a good profession for me.  I was thinking about that off and on today.  I believe in peacemaking  work.  I came from a violent home life, and propitiated the cycle of violence in my own life for many years.

Until my brother killed himself, then my Indian grandfather took his own life fifteen months later.  Two years after that, my business partner shot himself, the same year my childhood buddy hung himself.  My son’s best friend was shot in a drive by shooting in the neighborhood; my son was sitting next to him and held him until he died.  The kicker was the night a boy running from the notorious Cockerell Hill cops  ( you can see them on Dallas S.W.A.T  yep, that’s my old hood. )  but, once again I digress.  A parolee  ran from a traffic stop I saw him run past my window with three or four cops chasing him. The boy cut through the yard behind my house and hid in Tallmadge’s back porch two doors down.  The house looked disserted but the man renting Tallmadge’s place  shot him point blank in the face with a 45 cal.  Two days later, his mother  knocking on doors in the neighborhood was asking if anybody knew what happened because the cops wouldn’t speak to her about an “ongoing investigation.”  The boy was dead, and I was one of the last people to see him alive. That could be my son and may still become.

It’s choices, I tried to break the cycles of violence by not hitting my kid. I had no training in how to discipline. A smack with whatever was at hand or trapped bloody legs by  a lamp cord was  the only training I had as a child.  To make it crazier, my parents were JW’s at the end of the Mc Carthy era.  Violent  “spare the rod” fanatics.  But we didn’t believe in WAR or violence.  Just beating the sht out of your kids and arguing the moral dilemma of killing an intruder during a home invasion and a give no quarter/ martyr’s  path.

The message of the  60’s struck home with me as a pacifist. The puzzle piece I was missing is the gentler softer way of non-violence.   I tried for years on my own, to get it right. To put an end to the angrey patterns and break the cycles of violence in my life and  to influence my son.  I tried many ways . The  soft spoken questioning with the heart of the Quakers,  the inclusiveness of the Unitarian Universalist and the commitment to community building that I participated in at Richland college.  I even tried studying the ancient  goddess religions to find less violent answers.

I wasn’t the only person searching.  I read Gavin Debecker’s  Gift of Fear Debecker had come from a violent home, he watched his mother shoot his stepfather  and began to work with offenders in hopes of making a difference.  He wondered, as I have done, why two people with the same violent background can turn out so differently.

I was lucky enough to meet up with mediators and like minded peace makers.  It’s not easy to break these cycles of violence.  If you have a list or books to add to the list please put them in responses.

I’m listing books  on non-violence  community building:

Books on Conflict Resolution

A Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (Paperback – Mar 2008)    Paperback: 304 pages   Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (March 2008)    Language: English    ISBN-10: 0156033909

  ISBN-13: 978-0156033909

A Anger Management For Dummies (For Dummies (Psychology & Self Help) by W. Doyle Gentry PhD    Paperback: 384 pages    Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (December 6, 2006)   Language: English

  ISBN-10: 0470037156

  ISBN-13: 978-0470037157

A The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution : Preserving Relationships at Work, at Home, and in the Community — by Dudley Weeks; Paperback    Paperback: 304 pages    Publisher: Tarcher (January 4, 1994)    Language: English    ISBN-10: 0874777518

  ISBN-13: 978-0874777512

A The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner’s Guide — by Bernard S. Mayer; Hardcover     Hardcover: 263 pages    Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (May 15, 2000)    Language: English

  ISBN-10: 078795019X

  ISBN-13: 978-0787950194

A Conflict Resolution : Theory, Research, and Practice — by James A. Schellenberg; Paperback    Paperback: 260 pages    Publisher: State University of New York Press; 1 edition (September 29, 1996)    Language: English

  ISBN-10: 0791431029

  ISBN-13: 978-0791431023

B Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most
by Douglas Stone, et al (Paperback)Paperback: 250 pages Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); 1 edition (April 3, 2000) Language: English
ISBN-10: 014028852X
ISBN-13: 978-0140288520
A Dealing With People You Can’t Stand
by Rick Brinkman, Rick Kirschner (Introduction) (Paperback)Paperback: 208 pages Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies; 1 edition (August 1, 1994) Language: English
ISBN-10: 0070078386
ISBN-13: 978-0070078383
B Getting to Resolution: Turning Conflict Into Collaboration
by Stewart Levine (Paperback) Paperback: 226 pages Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (January 15, 2000) Language: English
ISBN-10: 1576751155
ISBN-13: 978-1576751152

From Conflict to Cooperation : How to Mediate a Dispute
by Beverly Potter, Phil Frank (Paperback – May 1996)

  • Publisher: Ronin Publishing; 1 edition (February 26, 1996)  ·  Language: English
    ·  ISBN-10: 0914171798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0914171799
A Getting to Resolution: Turning Conflict Into Collaboration
by Stewart Levine (Paperback) ·  Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (January 15, 2000)  ·  Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1576751155
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576751152
A The Conflict Resolution Toolbox: Models and Maps for Analyzing, Diagnosing, and Resolving Conflict by Gary T. Furlong (Hardcover – April 7, 2005)

  • Publisher: Wiley (April 7, 2005)  ·  Language: English
    ·  ISBN-10: 0470835176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470835173
A Interpersonal Conflict by William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker (Paperback – Oct 27, 2005) ·  Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; 7 edition (October 27, 2005)  ·  Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0073135542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0073135540

B Managing Intercultural Conflict Effectively (Communicating Effectively in Multicultural Contexts) by Dr. Stella W.C. Ting-Toomey and John Oetzel (Paperback – Jul 25, 2001)

  • Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc; 1 edition (July 25, 2001) ·  Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803948433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803948433
A Using Conflict Theory by Otomar J. Bartos and Paul Wehr (Paperback – Jul 15, 2002)

  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (July 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521794463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521794466

A Anger Management For Dummies (For Dummies (Psychology & Self Help)) by W. Doyle Gentry PhD (Paperback – Dec 6, 2006) ·  Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (December 6, 2006)  ·  Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0470037156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470037157

A Gift of fear    Publisher: Dell (May 11, 1999)  ·  Language: English
·  ISBN-10: 0440508835
·  ISBN-13: 978-0440508830
A essential books B good books

http://www.avpma.org   Alternatives to Violence Program
http://www.peacegames.org  Non violence in schools.
http://www.justicewithpeace.org   Nonviolent Peaceforce Training: Conflict Intervention Skills
http://www.corrymeela.org  helped broker peace in Northern Ireland
http://www.peaceabbey.org  nondenominational community in Sherborn, MA

more later ….


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Often my only solace was Misty, an alleged poodle, I was graced with her presents for 7 of her 14 years. She chose Russ. We had gone to the dog rescue compound.  I got her from a woman who kept far more than the 10 dogs allowed by city code. She skated on thin ice, but she was a rebel and she took good care of the dogs. If an inspector came by there were only ten of the 150 or so dogs in the yard at one time and it would take a warrant or 24 hr notice to tour the house. Time enough to scatter the dogs in her network of friends until it was safe to resume her rescue work.

It wasn’t a puppy mill just someone who spent their time income and risked another run in with the law to give more than a few dogs reprieves from the 7 day or die ruling at the Dallas animal shelter where puppies are often given only hours before they are euphemized and pit-bulls. They  just don’t take em. Like the  coal black 2 year old docile pit-bull I brought to them which  was refused on breed. Well that pissed me off. I waited in the parking lot and begged people to take her. Even gave them 20 lbs of food and enough for vaccinations. I expected to be arrested for the illegal selling of  a pit-bull. Finally, a great guy who loved pit-bulls and had a well behaved male he was bringing in for vaccinations took him and I felt better. I digress.

Misty was loving, smart and cagey. All attributes I love in a dog. She was able to follow multiple commands and work out issues on her own. She hated to go potty in the rain, so she figured out how to stick her butt out the dog flap on the backdoor on rainy days when ordered out of the house. Russ was gone most of the time for work. She knew, on stormy nights she would be able to sleep under the bed. Until, she got too fat to crawl  under. She then took to nudging in her head up to her shoulders. “a dogs’ gott’a do what a dogs’ gott’a do”

When I say, she chose Russ, I mean she watched us get out of the car. Russ petted her ear then ignored her for the manly dogs.  She didn’t care, he was her human. She paced him as the woman, herded the dogs past ten at a time careful to keep back dogs she knew we were looking for trying to give the “older and less adoptable kids” a chance. Misty refused to leave and stayed a few paces behind.

The terriers came, followed by the greyhound, afghan mix, and whatcha’call’ems. An un ending line of well cared for homeless pets. All well mannered and forgotten in shelters, card board boxes or just found wandering on the side of the road. Most were cast offs too old or just too much trouble to care for anymore. Some the products of vindictive divorces; You want the dog, can’t have him. Then dump em in the shelter just for spite.

Misty didn’t mind, she had time,  it was a no kill shelter, and she had picked her humans. Occasionally she nudged the back of my husbands’ knee and bowed her head for an ear scratch. We were allowed to see about 60 dogs. Then she cut us off and said “surely you can find a dog in all of these” Misty waited, and once when it looked like we had found a dog. She crossed paths with the one he picked and the bitch bit Misty. Russ shook his head no at that pick. Misty secretly smiled and took her place at his feet, just far enough to not be in the way.

Misty knew we were in the market for a dog and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Her early life was spent as a companion to an elderly woman who had died and like so many of her fellow thrown away dogs she found herself in tatters, begging for scraps. She would not mess this up. She would be chosen and have  a new home today. She could feel it. She knew it in her bones. Misty knew people words, sit, heel, lay down and those magic words “come here” when she heard them her heart leaped. She was Russ’s dog now.

In her later life she had developed a heart condition, and traveling four days across country was stressful for her. I was afraid she would die on the journey. Russ moved a month before we did leaving  Misty and I to close up the house in Texas.

And she could talk, If I’m lyeing, I dieing, she would chutter to herself like an old black woman in the supermarket back home. “Beans, peas, now why did I need peas” Misty chuttered, “na naghurd, graween” Dog language my Indian grandfather would have  said “and the smarter of you will learn the others language.”  So there you have it. My dog knew my words, and I didn’t understand hers.

 My husband traveled seven days at a time. Home on weekends. Misty the calendar counting dog knew what day he was to return. She would sit by the door on Friday morning on the off chance he could get an early flight home. When two weeks turned in to three and I started packing the house up for the movers she panicked. Refusing to eat, sleep and cried mourning the loss of her master. She knew, like the old woman she was homeless now. Her  master was  dead and frolicking along the rainbow bridge chasing butterflies eternally reunited with littermates and progeny. Never to be lonely again.

I realized she was morning Russ when I would find her in his closet laying among his shoes under his clothes hanging in the closet. Through the miracles of cell phones, I called Russ and ask him to “talk to the dog” placing the phone near her aging soft ears he spoke to her. I could she her eyes light up and she wagged her tail for the first time in weeks. He was alive! Then like any child given a broken toy for their birthday. She dropped her shoulders and a look of rage took over. I could just make out the visual cues. “you bastard! You could have called to let me know you were alright!” after that she chuttered, na, nawgnaa in dog language at me day and night.

When we got to Massachusetts she was as pissed and frustrated as I have been. But, life is funny. We are in the rat-hole of a place we are in because we had a dog,  no one would rent to us, then she dies. But, “a dogs’ gott’a do what a dogs’ gott’a do” it was her time in doggy heaven. I was gone to Texas, when it happened,  and she crawled under my chair and died. Russ found a dog cemetery a few miles off and got her a decent casket so she could play with the other dog spirits. Perhaps in my next life I will be so lucky to have her as a parent.

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moving right along…

well William John, I have stripped a few of the drawers on the bureau and as I thought found some lovely wood patterns in it. Russ has decided it’s better to let me take my frustration out on the furniture rather than him. all is good. here is the progress.

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Found a beat-up old chest of drawers on the side of the road that a mother tossed out today. The freeway was busy so I turned around and tried to zip in to the driveway. Just about the time the owner of the house was leaving for work. I made a safety maneuver into the front lawn of the neighbor waited for the driver to pass then snatched the furniture off the side of the road.
You see folks here in Mass just put unwanted furniture on the side of the road for free (most of the time) sometimes they ask money. Not today. view the video to see the movie I made.

it once belonged to someone named will John Conway,
I cleaned it up a bit and threw out the vestigial marijuana leaves I found. Head banger stickers a guitar pick and pot in the top drawer. I am so telling his mama! Makes me remember what I hated about being a parent…
Stick around for the update videos and photos. I can’t decide whether to strip or paint either way it will have to be sanded. “as the actress said to the Bishop”

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