We often get asked to donate gift baskets and/or gift certificates to auctions for good causes and when we say yes, we sometimes find ourselves wondering if our donation really makes a difference and if our gift will have an impact on the person who ends up with it. One Saturday a while back we got a visit from a really lovely person and her equally lovely child and they had come to spend the gift certificate mom had won at an Our Family Coalition event.
They LOVED the store and we had a great conversation about why we started Reach And Teach, what we were trying to achieve in the world, and suddenly Shannon (that's Mom) said "I'd like to give your store a gift!" She showed me her amazing artwork and I had to say YES, PLEASE! The sign you see above (with Shannon and me) and below on our door is that gift and we LOVE it.
You have to read it correctly. Yes, WE ARE
(NOW YOU PAUSE FOR A MOMENT).
Think about it. Ah, the lighbulb lit. Yes, we are.
We are what? Well.... It all depends on which "we" we're talking about. If the "We" refers to Derrick and me, well.... Yes we are gay. Yes we are small business owners. Yes we are worried about some things. Yes we are in love. Yes we are curious about the world around us. Now if it were you and you had to finish the line "Yes we are......," how would you fill in the blank? Whoever and whatever we are, we hope that those with whom we meet will be open.
Being open is one way of spreading love and working towards peace. And, that's Shannon's mission, spreading love and peace one note, sign, symbol, hug, word at a time. She launched LoveYou2.org based on a very simple idea that has now become a passion for finding, documenting, installing and sharing love notes. It all started with a note to her kids and the rest.... well, you can visit her wonderful web site to learn more.
Then, we're guessing you'll want to join her in changing the world one love note at a time. Visit our shop in San Mateo where we have little love note kits from Shannon that you can buy and start spreading your own love notes, including a love note to yourself!
Meanwhile, check out this beautiful video of Shannon and her kids out on the streets of San Francisco spreading the love!
And... if you'd like to start spreading the love one note at a time, check out this notepad now available from Reach And Teach.
Our Green11 Filling Station
Reach And Teach now offers a Green 11 Filling Station at our shop in San Mateo at 144 West 25th Avenue - San Mateo CA 94403.
Bring your own container to fill up on hand soap, dishwashing liquid, and laundry detergent. All of our products are good for your body, good for the environment, and good for your budget. Jack Benny would be green AND cool if he were with us today (for those young folks who have never heard of Jack Benny, take a look at the YouTube at the end of this article).
On this page we'll provide you with comprehensive information about each of the products we offer in our shop. We're partnering with an amazing team from Green 11, a company launched in 2009 with a store in San Francisco. They will soon be opening a second San Francisco shop, a shop in Berkeley, and we are their very first filling station partner and the only place on the peninsula where you can get these products in bulk.
Ecos Laundry Soap
The first customer to walk into our shop the day we started filling soaps took one look at the laundry soap and said "That's the brand I already use. It's wonderful." Ecos has created a fantastic line of earth-friendly laundry soaps that do a great job of cleaning laundry using LESS soap that most traditional detergents. Rated for HE (High Efficiency) machines, the soap also works well in older washing machines.
We offer four varieties of laundry soap. Here are the ingredients for each:
The second customer to walk into our shop thought we were selling BYOC (Bring Your Own Container) Olive Oil. Yes, we sell olive oil through our friends at the Rebuilding Alliance, but their oil comes already bottled or in tins. "What else do you have?" our visitor asked. We showed him the soaps and he said "Well, my wife expected me to come home with something so I'll try the dish soap." He filled his container with our Earth-Friendly Dishmate Pear dish soap. We offer three types of powerful hand dish washing products that are naturally hard on grease and not your skin. We recommend that you squirt only a small amount into your sponge for cleaning dishes so you can experience the power of this concentrated formula. Dishmate also acts as a great cleaner for hand washable clothes too.
Our friends at Green 11 cooked up a wonderful hand soap that we're so thrilled to have in our shop. Our third customer, who happens to run a car window repair shop, walked over to the refilling station and poured a dab of the hand soap into his hands, coated both hands with it, took a deep whiff and said "This is really nice!" I asked if he wanted to wash his hands off and he said "No way! This is the best my hands have felt all day."
The ingredients will make you feel good too! We offer two types, Lavendar and Lemongrass. Ingredients are Aqua (Water), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Coco Sulfate, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Glycerin, Lavendula Augustfolia (Lavender) Oil*, Phenoxyethanol, Linalool.
*N.O.P. Certified Essential OilBiodegradable and non-toxic.
At just 12 cents an ounce for laundry detergent, 13 cents an ounce for dish soap, and 26 cents an ounce for hand soap, these soaps are not only great for your body and good for the planet, they're also pretty good for your budget. Frugal meets green meets healthy! As young Drew Durham likes to say "Sweet!"
Jack Benny - Frugal, Green, and COOL!
Of course the Reach And Teach team is aging itself by talking about Jack Benny at all. So many of our partners in peacemaking are too young to know him. But, we're wondering... did anyone recognize the guy delivering the telegram? (And if you dare to ask "What's a telegram....!!!"). That man was Mel Blanc, the voice of:
So to close this article with soapy style...... That's All Folks!
Operation Marriage - Marriage Equality through the Eyes of Children
June 26, 2013: Reach And Teach is thrilled to share the news that the Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and also decided that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have standing to contest a lower court's decision that it too was unconstitutional. With those two decisions marriage equality returns to California and the federal government will recognize marriages in states that have legalized same-gender marriage. Yay! Still lots of work to be done but today is a wonderful day.
March 21, 2013: As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the issue of marriage equality, the team at Reach And Teach was thrilled to get news from our friend Amy Jussel at ShapingYouth.org that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has concluded, after four years of research, that "Scientific evidence affirms that children have similar developmental and emotional needs and receive similar parenting whether they are raised by parents of the same or different genders. If a child has 2 living and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the best interests of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation."
As publishers of Operation Marriage, we applaud the AAP's policy statement and are grateful to the many leaders from across the country, from all professional fields, and from the across the wide diversity of religious and political identities, who have come out in support of marriage equality. We published the book, in part, because we wanted to show the impact if inequality on the lives of children, through the eyes of children, and having the AAP both confirm that impact while also lifting up the benefits of marriage equality, is wonderful.
Click here to buy a copy of Operation Marriage and give one to your pediatrician now!
Moonbeam Book Award 2012: Operation Marriage has received a Gold Medal in the annual Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, in the Spirit/Compassion category, for dedication to children's books and literacy and for inspired writing, illustrating and publishing.
About the Book: Eight-year old Alex has a fight with her best friend, Zach, who says he can no longer be her friend. Why? Because "her parents (both women) aren't married." Set in the San Francisco Bay area, months before Proposition 8, a ballot measure banning gay marriage passes, this picture book looks at what it takes for Alex and her younger brother, Nicky, to convince their mothers to get married while they can. Their love as a family is contagious as their neighbors begin to accept them for what they are: a normal, affectionate family.
Based on a true story, the book shows the real implications of the struggle for equality, with beautiful and captivating illustrations, by award-winning illustrator, Lea Lyon, and words by Cynthia Chin-Lee.
Award Winning Team: This is a hardcover, full-color, beautifully illustrated children's picture book, written and illustrated by an award winning team of Cynthia Chin-Lee, writer and Lea Lyon, illustrator. It is based on the real lives of a family in Palo Alto. The book is published by Reach And Teach, through its imprint with PM Press and distributed worldwide by IPG Books.
Marriage Equality through the Eyes of Children: Marriage equality has been and will be hotly debated for a long time to come. What hasn't gotten much attention is the impact that inequality and prejudice have on children. Operation Marriage shows the pain felt when some families aren't given the same respect and dignity as other families. Not only are the children of GLBTQ parents hurt, but other children around them get dragged into what ends up being an unwelcoming environment created by adults.
People often ask, why should this be brought up at all? Aren't these children too young for this? A teacher answered that question at a community forum on October 20th by saying "We're too often forced to deal with teasing and bullying after the harm has already been done. Isn't it better to avoid the problem in the first place? I think so!"
One of the earliest group activities in a typical pre-school or kindergarden classroom is for each child to draw a picture of his or her family. With the wonderful diversity of families out there, with mom and dad, mom and mom, dad and dad, uncle & aunt, mom, dad, brother, grandma, foster-mom... it's important for children to be able to proudly draw whatever their picture should look like! Teachers and parents need tools to help talk about the many faces of family, letting children know that while families may look different, they are ALL families, deserving of respect and support.
People Are Talking - Praise for Operation Marriage
Operation Marriage is a well-constructed, age-appropriate story with an appealing cast of characters. Spunky Alex doesn't let her best friend's abandonment get her down; instead, she enlists her brother in a campaign that is filled with humor-blasting wedding music throughout the house, making a fake wedding program-things that will ring true to all children who've found creative ways to beg their parents to do something for them. -- Lyn Miller-Lachmann, author of Gringolandia a 2010 ALA Best Book for young adults. Click here to read the full review.
In Operation Marriage Cynthia Chin-Lee has shown the gay marriage debate through the eyes of the children effected. A simple, but powerful story that should be in every classroom from preschool on up. --Sharon Levin, Founder, Bay Area Children's Literature List
Operation Marriage is a visually beautiful and warm book. The topic, marriage equality, is handled in a sensitive and child-centric way, helping readers of all ages to understand why recognizing all types of families is important to the growth of our children and the resilience of our society. Offering opportunities for discussion between children and the adults who care about them, Operation Marriage opens doors for sharing, compassion, stretching ourselves and seeing how even children can impact their worlds in a meaningful way. The power of love over fear is at work here, in the story and in the project that made the story into this winsome book. --Mika Gustavson, MFT, Gifted Matters
Operation Marriage is an honest, insightful, and touching story illustrating the many ways that lack of marriage equality impacts kids' lives. Its messages--perseverance, trusting oneself, facing adversity and standing up to it--are universal, but its approach to the particular social challenge of marriage inequality fills a void in the children's book world. There is power in seeing a problem from a child's perspective, and much that we grown-ups can learn from looking at the world through a child's eyes. This book belongs in every school library and on every public library shelf. --Sarah Hoffman www.sarahhoffmanwriter.com
"Cynthia Chin-Lee very sensitively deals with the subject of same sex marriage by telling the true story of one couple and their children. Children are very ready to start talking about the civil rights issues of our time and this book is a great jumping off point to get those conversations started."-- Jacinta Bunnell, author of Girls Are Not Chicks and Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon
For those who believe, true love does conquer all! -- Terry Hong, Book Dragon Review, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program
I have been involved in Civil Rights issues since college days when I served a 30-day jail sentence for sitting at a lunch counter with three other whites and two African-Americans....and asked for a cup of coffee! Here we are now having to dig through the weeds and briar patches of another civil rights issue: marriage equality. The beauty/emotion of this book flows from its presentation through children's eyes. The simplicity of children's thinking can effectively pierce the rough hewn edges of adult logic!! Every school library should have this book and be proud!!! --Mary Bentley Abu-Saba, Ph. D.
Children need a permanent and secure nurturing family to help them thrive. Decades of research have shown that children's social, academic, and emotional development are similar whether they have two mothers or a mother and a father. Their parents' marriage gives children the security and the legitimacy they need to dispel stereotypes and to thrive in school and society. Ellen C. Perrin, M.D. Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Floating Hospital for Children Tufts Medical Center Boston, MA
Operation Marriage is a touching delightful book telling of a family with two moms. It positively confirms that marriage between two loving adults of the same sex is wonderful and legal! This book also touched on bullying which is so common in schools and how a parent can help their child who is the bully to understand and change the negative behavior. --Monique Kane, MFT
As parents, we want children to learn about the real struggles and joys of families different from ours. This book tells a true story simply and compellingly. When children learn empathy through stories like this, we can stop bullying and create understanding and compassion. --Carol and Charles Spring, Virginia
"Even 3rd-graders know that commitment ceremonies are not weddings and domestic partnerships are not marriage. Operation Marriage shows how important marriage is to children and that they understand that anything less, is less than equal."-- Dr. Davina Kotulski, Psychologist, Motivational Life Coach, and Author of Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage (2004) and Love Warriors: The Rise of the Marriage Equality Movement and Why it Will Prevail (2010)
Check out the book launch at Keplers Bookstore in Menlo Park.
As the book was nearing publication, Outlook Video did a story about it. Check it out!
About the Author
We've loved and promoted Cynthia Chin-Lee's books for a long time and are honored that she chose us to help get Operation Marriage published and distributed!
From Cynthia Chin-Lee's Web Site: Cynthia Chin-Lee is a children's book author and an accomplished speaker and workshop leader. Her easy rapport with her audiences and ability to add humor to her presentations make her a compelling speaker for all ages. She is available for presentations to elementary through high-school students, key-note speeches to adults, and a variety of workshops that both engage and challenge the participants.
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a graduate fellow of East-West Center in Honolulu, she is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
About the Illustrator
We have been huge fans of Lea Lyon for a long time and we are absolutely elated to have her working with us on this wonderful project. Click here to read an article about her on the Reach And Teach web site.
From Lea Lyon's Web Site:
Lea Lyon is an award-winning children's book illustrator, painting teacher and portrait artist who has made a childhood dream come true.
Lea loved to draw and paint as a child. She took art classes from a tiny white-haired artist who had converted her garage into a magical children's painting studio. Lea graduated to oil paints when she was 11. And - she wanted to be a children's book illustrator when she grew up. But life, as it often does, got in the way; College, raising a family, running a small doll and puppet business, then back to school for an MBA and into the corporate world. Now, at long last, Lea is a children's book illustrator. She is an active member of The SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.) Her illustration portfolios won awards twice at SCBWI National Conferences. As the Illustrator Coordinator of the San Francisco region of SCBWI she coordinates events for Bay Area illustrators.
With millions of children living in households led by GLBTQ people (according to the 2010 Census), parents, guardians, teachers, administrators, faith-leaders, and children need resources and support to thrive. Below are just some of the resources we want to highlight on our site. If you know of others that should be promoted, please click here to email us.
Publishing this book would not have been possible without the support of many people. We give huge thanks to the following people and organizations:
Sonia Azevedo, Maggie and Andy Anderson, Cynthia Chin-Lee, Joshua and Peter Ching, Martha Clayton, Don and Margaret Ann Fidler, First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, the Flora Family Foundation, Steven Garrett, David Mineau and Diana Gibson, Mitzi Henderson, Daniel and Sarah Holden, Eleanor Hiles and Bob Topor, Dick and Sarah Johnson, Bennet Marks and Kim Harris, Marion MacGillivray, Joseph Robert Martin, Dianne McKay, Julie McDonald, MicahsCall.org, Polly Moore, Sally and Craig Nordlund, Christine and John Ritz, Joan Roy and Gordon Craig, Paul Seever, Joy Sleizer, Steven S. Thomas, David and Mary Alice Thornton, James Wilczak, Peter and Evelyn Wong, and Marisela Blasini Young.
Happy Earth Day Green Toys!
When Jakey comes a calling, you'd better watch out! He's a five year old bundle of energy who comes to visit our shop with his mom and baby brother at least once a month. For the next hour you'll find Jakey flying around the shop with one toy or another in his hands. Vroom Vroom....... CRASH........ bang...... ZOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!! He's a one boy QA department and only the best of the best toys stand up to the Jakey test. Never in the two years Jakey has been visiting our shop has a Green Toy failed the Jakey test.
On Earth Day we want to lift up our friends at Green Toys for the great toys they manufacture, right here in the Bay Area, out of recycled milk jugs. We've loved their toys from the first time we got our hands on them and have only grown to love their toys and the company more as the years have gone by. For Earth Day we'd like to share a short video documentary about the company so that you can get to know them a little better. Then, why not come by our shop in San Mateo or visit our web site and get your own hands on a few of their toys and give them the Jakey test. You won't be disappointed!
We LOVE Green Toys for so many reasons, not the least of which is that they are an absolute joy to work with, which is a direct result of the company being a great place to work, which is a result of having co-founders who truly walk the talk. Happy Earth Day Green Toys and thank you for being great partners in transforming the world through teachable moments.
Here are some of their products from our web store. Go ahead, buy some. They're already recycled!
Yom HaShoah: From Bystanders to Upstanders
As part of our ongoing series, Not Invented Here, we share reflections about peacemaking and social justice from friends of Reach And Teach from around the world. Today's powerful reflection comes from Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, an Associate Professor at Iowa State University. We are grateful that Dr. Blumenfeld gave us permission to share this moving writing.
From Bystanders to Upstanders by Warren J. Blumenfeld
As we approach Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day on 27 Nisan (Jewish calendar), April 7 this year (Gregorian calendar), I reflect upon my familial history: two scenarios with somewhat varied outcomes.
When I was a young child, I sat upon my maternal grandfather Simon Mahler's knee. Looking down urgently, but with deep affection, he said to me, "Varn," (through his distinctive Polish accent, he pronounced my name "Varn"), "you are named after my father, Wolf Mahler, who was killed by the Nazis along with my mother Bascha and most of my thirteen brothers and sisters." When I asked why they were killed, he responded, "Because they were Jews." Those words have reverberated in my mind, haunting me ever since.
We later learned that Nazi troops forced Wolf and nine of his siblings into the desecrated Jewish cemetery in their village of Krosno and others to the woods surrounding Krosno, shot them, and tossed their lifeless bodies into mass unmarked graves along with over twenty-one hundred other Jewish residents. (Bascha died in 1934, thus sparing her of the Nazi onslaught.) The Nazis eventually loaded the remaining Jews of Krosno onto cattle cars and transported them to Auschwitz and Belzec death camps. The handful of Krosno Jews who survived liberation of the camps attempted to return to their homes that had been confiscated by the non-Jewish residents. When they returned, however, Polish citizens who had taken their property refused to relinquish it back to the Jewish owners. No Jews reside in the area today.
More recently, on a snowy February morning in 2002, while in my university office organizing materials for that day's classes, I received an email message that would forever poignantly and profoundly change my life. A man named Charles Mahler had been looking for descendents of the Mahler family of Krosno, Poland, and he had come across an essay I had written focusing on Wolf and Bascha Mahler.
Charles informed me that he had survived the German Holocaust along with his sister, parents, and maternal grandparents and uncle, but the Nazis murdered his father's parents (Jacques and Anja Mahler), sister, and her two children, and other relatives following Hitler's invasion and occupation of Belgium, their adopted home country.
My cousin Charles related their story in hiding from August 1942 until the final armistice in Europe. His father, Georg, altered the family's identity papers from Jewish to Christian, and they abandoned Antwerp for what they considered the relative safety of the Belgium countryside. During their plight, members of the Belgium resistance movement and other righteous Christians shepherded them throughout the remainder of the war to three separate locations as the German Gestapo followed closely at their heels. On a number of occasions, they successfully "passed" as Christian directly under the watchful gaze of unsuspecting Nazis.
Though the majority of Jewish inhabitants of Antwerp ultimately perished, many survived. However, at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel) one will observe "Krosno" chiseled into the glass and the stone walls listing towns and villages where Nazis and their sympathizers decimated entire Jewish communities.
I have learned many lessons in my studies of genocides perpetrated throughout the ages. Strong leaders whip up sentiments by employing dehumanizing stereotyping and scapegoating entire groups, while other citizens or entire nations often refuse to intervene. Everyone, not only the direct perpetrators of oppression, plays a key role in the genocide dramas.
On a micro level, this is also apparent, for example, in episodes of schoolyard, community-based, as well as electronic forms of bullying. According to the American Medical Association definition: "Bullying is a specific type of aggression in which the behavior is intended to harm or disturb, the behavior occurs repeatedly over time, and there is an imbalance of power, with a more powerful person or group attacking a less powerful one."
Dan Olweus, international researcher and bullying prevention specialist, enumerates the distinctive and often overlapping roles enacted in these episodes: the person or persons who perpetrate bullying; the active followers; those who passively support, condone, or collude in the aggression; the onlookers (sometimes referred to as "bystanders"); the possible defenders; those who actually defend the targets of aggression; and those who are exposed and attacked.
One piece of my family puzzle met a tragic end, another partial segment survived. In both instances, the bystanders determined the balance of power: in Krosno, they conspired with the oppressors, while in Antwerp, they dug deeply within themselves transitioning from bystanders into courageous, compassionate, and empathetic upstanders in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
Each day we all are called on to make small and larger choices and to take actions. At a homecoming dance at Richmond High School in California on October 27 last fall, for example, up to ten young men grabbed a 14-year-old young woman who had been waiting outside the dance for her father, dragged her behind a building, and gang rapped her for over two and one-half hours with approximately ten witnesses observing. Some even cheered on the attackers. No one notified the police. The perpetrators left the young woman in critical condition.
Which side are we on? This question brings to mind civil rights activist Eldridge Cleaver's call to action: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
Today as in the past, no truer words were ever uttered, for in the spectrum from occasional microaggressions to full-blown genocide, there is no such thing as an "innocent bystander."
Warren J. Blumenfeld is associate professor in the School of Education at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. He is author of Warren's Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense).
Note from Reach And Teach: One of the books about the Holocaust that has touched us the most over the years is the Boy Named 27091, written and illustrated by the grandchildren of one of our dearest pair of friends and advisors, Peggy and John Law. Bailey and Laura Griscom wanted to take a story that had been written for adults and make it more accessible to younger people. They did a great job!
Congratulations to Ivy Author on Richmond Tales Play
Reach And Teach's Ivy Homeless in San Francisco author Summer Brenner invites you to the premier of a play based on her wonderful book, Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle. It will be performed starting May 17th 2013 at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts. Having read and loved the book, we highly recommend you attend and enjoy! Congratulations Summer for bringing such an important story to life, helping to get it into the hands of tens of thousands of children, and now for helping to bring it to even more people in a new and dramatic way.
About the Play:
East Bay Center for the Performing Arts has commissioned a dramatic script of Richmond Tales - a magical novel about everyday challenges, unlikely friendships and the coming of age questions that every adolescent asks about why the world it is the way it is. In this case the growing up takes place in Richmond's Iron Triangle neighborhood. Both the book and the play touch on the broad historical forces and waves of immigration that have shaped the neighborhoods and trajectory of greater Richmond as well as the imagination of two children who envision a future for themselves by traveling back (and forward) in time.
Genesis of the work:
In the national adult reading program -" One City, One Book" - libraries choose a summer reading book each year for a local community, hoping to engage widespread conversations about literature and reading. In 2007, Author Summer Brenner was asked to advise West County READS as they selected a children's book for summer reading in Richmond. However, when she and a children's librarian tried to find a narrative that reflected the rich, complex and critical experience of local children, they were stymied.
In 2008, Brenner made the decision to write that book: collecting stories from local youth to weave a tale blending adventure and historical discovery with the realities of Richmond life; and connecting young readers to a pride of place, knowledge of the past, and hope for the future. In fall 2008, Brenner received a grant from the Creative Work Fund of San Francisco to support the writing, illustration, design, and production of Richmond Tales, Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle.
The book was published in spring 2009. Over 4,000 free copies were distributed to middleschool students for summer reading in Richmond and throughout the district. Several thousand additional copies have since been printed and distributed, but a whole new generation of youth - and parents - have yet to discover this poignant Wizard of Oz like story, with bittersweet journeys through time, of how things are set in motion.
Production Partnership with Richmond Rotary:
In 2011 Richmond Rotary and East Bay Center forged a partnership to stage "Richmond Tales" with the full production values of East Bay Center and its newly rebuilt facility, the historic Winters Building in Downtown Richmond. Local Rotary members have engaged State and International Rotary clubs to participate. Both local and regional Rotary members have remained busy organizing project volunteers, working with families of youth participants, and will be providing assistance through out the production period with every thing from transportation and set building to audience development and financial underwriting.
Details:WHEN: May 16, 17,18, 24,25, 26, 2013 (shows times 7pm) (Preview performance Wednesday, May 15 at 8pm)
WHERE: East Bay Center for the Performing Arts 339 11th Street Macdonald Ave, downtown Richmond, CA
PARKING: Secured lot across the street from venue, $4 for the evening
COST: $10 ($5 children 12 and under & Seniors)
TICKETS/INFO: East Bay Center 510-221-6353 box office or visit our website by going to news and events and click on purchase tickets, or purchase tickets at the door.
Dolores Huerta: From young and brave Latina, to change agent, to empowering elder.
Reach And Teach ace reporter Drew Durham attended a talk by Dolores Huerta and offered to share his reflections on her work and that event. Thanks Drew!!!!
Dolores Huerta gave rousing speech on March 14th at a theater in Belmont. Report by Drew Durham
Public school textbooks ignore many civil rights leaders. Dolores Huerta, a pioneering community organizer since 1955 is one of them, but she is a transformative force for social justice and progressive civil change. Huerta gave a powerful stream of consciousness talk at a Bay Area theater on March 14th, 2013.
Huerta, now 82, has been an active advocate for justice and civil rights, for over 50 years. Huerta spoke of her main influence, Fred Ross, Sr. and her partner in the United Farm Workers leadership, Cesar Chavez. From Ross Sr. she learned that "Your power is in your person, and within yourself is all the power you need." From Chavez she learned the power of nonviolent action.
As a result of the United Farm Workers organization and their nonviolent civil disobedience and getting out the vote, a number of California and national laws were passed in favor of the United Farm Workers including the 1986 Amnesty Bill, which removed the barriers to citizenship for over one million undocumented immigrants.
Huerta also spoke of her foundation (www.doloreshuerta.org) and how along with her organization, she now raises money, trains organizers and empowers them, including undocumented immigrant community leaders. Part of the empowerment strategy of her organization is education, particularly teaching about the social policies that create and maintain the school prison pipeline in the United States. In California's central valley, Huerta said there have been 17 prisons built since 1965 but only one public university built during that same period. The prison-industrial complex is a major source of injustice, even for the taxpayers. Huerta pointed out that it costs the taxpayer more each year for someone to go to jail than to send a student to Yale.
Huerta had strong words to say to the "far right, racists, and the Tea Party" including, the "scientific fact that we are all African, so get over it!" She also said that labor unions are not special interests, for the only interest they have is their own well-being not any stockholders.
Huerta quoted Cornell West, "Justice is love on legs, spilling over into the public sphere."
In 1972, Huerta came up with the slogan "Si, se puede" (translated by the UFW as "Yes, it can be done"), which became a powerful chant during the struggles and victories of the United Farm Workers in the 1970s and has been adopted by many other progressive causes. When Huerta was talking with President Obama after winning the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom, Obama asked her, "I stole that from you, didn't I?" Huerta replied without hesitation but with a smile, "yes, you did!"
Huerta is also a strong feminist, and spoke of how men can be feminists too. She ended with encouraging words. "Build your own power and don't let anybody get in the way of your destiny." Then she led the audience in several chants, including the finale "Si, se puede!"
Oh... Wondering if you might be able to find a book about Dolores Huerta here at Reach And Teach? Yes you can. Click here.
Not Invented Here
Derrick Kikuchi, co-founder of Reach And Teach, started out his professional life as an engineer at Hewlett-Packard, back in the days when Bill and Dave used to walk around looking over people's shoulders and asking "Are you having fun?" Derrick always believed that most any code that needed to be written probably already had been written and just needed to be found and applied in a new way. He was never a fan of "not invented here" mentality that figured that if you didn't create something yourself from scratch then it couldn't be all that good.
No one in the picture above has anything to do with Bill and Dave and Derrick, by the way... We just thought this was a great picture to represent this new series of articles we're about to share.
We've carried Derrick's philosophy to our work here at Reach And Teach, where we consider ourselves "treasure hunters" for peacemaking, gender equality, and sustainable living. We've got over 1,000 products in our shop and we only invented around eight of them.
We're launching a new series on our web site called "Not Invented Here" and we hope to use this space to share really valuable ideas for making the world a better place, empowering our social justice movements, creating safer and more inclusive environments for our children, and discovering new ways to better live out and enjoy our own lives.
This last Saturday Derrick and I and and around 5,000 other people engaged in a direct action concerning climate change. We surrounding the Federal Building in San Francisco while 50,000 compatriots demonstrated in Washington DC. Someone recently asked me why it is so hard to get involved in "direct action" these days. "Where are the leaders" she asked. Fortunately, we got to see some of them in San Francisco and Washington DC. They're out there, but we need a lot more of them... or WE need to be them!
How do we do it? Let's learn from the best! To kick off our "Not Invented Here" series, I turned to my old friend George Lakey who posted a fantastic article about direct action groups on Martin Luther King Day in his Waging Nonviolence column, Living Revolution.
Here now, with permission from our friends at Waging Nonviolence, who just celebrated the launch of their new and improved web site, is George's post:
Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders marching in Selma, Ala., in 1965. (Wikipedia)
Some people feel inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr., to do service projects. But the U.S. civil rights movement that he led was not about days of service, it was about days of confrontational action. Think about the hundreds of action groups that grew in the North as well as the South, many winning campaigns against racial discrimination. They mobilized and radicalized people; that movement gave me my first experience of civil disobedience.
Some of those early groups, of course, flourished, and some fell apart quickly. Since then we’ve learned a lot about how to start action groups in a way that increases their chance to thrive, wage a campaign, learn from it and grow. To celebrate King’s holiday, I’ll share some of the wisdom that has accumulated, often through trial and error.
The steps for beginning a group are not really as simple as a food recipe, but I’ll take the risk of writing this in a recipe-kind-of-way. Remember that every situation is always unique. You’ll need to think with friends through each step, adapting to your circumstances.
Ask who can hold the vision. Maybe it’s you who can picture what the group will be like when it is up and running. That makes you the “holder of the vision.” But maybe that’s not your gift. Find someone who can do that for the group. The vision-holder doesn’t need to be the iconic “leader.” In fact, it’s probably best to drop the idea of the leader, and instead look for the gifts that, brought together, provide the team-leadership your group will need to move forward.
The visionary you want doesn’t get lost in detail, doesn’t spend a lot of time reasoning things out, doesn’t focus their efforts on helping people feel good with each other, and doesn’t get impatient when there’s not action right away. The vision-holder is someone who can imagine what the group needs to look like and feel like and sound like when it’s up and running, and beyond. If you’re lucky, you’ll find more than one person with the gift of holding this kind of vision (and hopefully they’ll agree on what it is).
Ask who can analyze the situation and place it in context. Once you have a broad vision, you’ll need to assemble the relevant factors, list the considerations, get the statistics together and track the history of action efforts on the issue. Find the person who can research the oppressive structure you’re targeting, who can identify the various forces that are contending with each other and assess their strengths. Maybe you’ll be lucky, again, and find more than one analyst to divide up the work.
Ask who can “make the rubber hit the road.” A group may have a vision and an analysis and never become an action group because it gets lost in generating options and doing cost-benefit analyses! To pull off a successful action, you need someone who can mobilize others to decide on a plan — not endlessly debate it — and then implement it. You’ll need to find one or more people who bring that gift. You’ll never be an action group without the sort of person who led her basketball team to victory, or who convinced his high school friends to jump in a car and head to a nearby city for a demonstration or a rock concert.
Ask who can tune in to the feelings of others. There are plenty of groups that have had the analyst and visionary and in-charge activist but have gotten demoralized and split because they had no one to provide glue, to notice the underlying conflicts that needed to surface, to pay attention to the individuals on the margin who were being overlooked in the excitement. It’s as true in the Internet age as it has always been: Every successful group has at least one person who keeps track of the membership as a whole, a shepherd who looks after the flock and resolves conflict before it blows up in everyone’s face. If you don’t have this gift yourself, find a couple of people who do and explain to them their importance. For some reason shepherds often undervalue their own importance; let them know they have a key part to play.
Groups come and go; the more successful ones include (usually by luck) the four roles of visionary, analyst, driver/warrior and shepherd. Keeping these roles in mind from the outset can save you the time and disappointment of relying on hit-or-miss approaches like assembling a random collection of your friends in a room and hoping you can get a successful group out of it.
Once you know that the people in the room include all four of the gifts that successful groups need, then take some time to consolidate. One metaphor in the field of organizing is the snowball: If you pack it tight, it will attract other snow when you roll it down the hill and you’ll end up with an amazing snowperson; if you don’t pack it tight, it will attract very little and go nowhere. Here are some of the challenges of successful group-building that you may face next.
As prospective members of your group are getting to know each other, beware of letting friendship be the tail that wags the dog. Some groups start by placing such a high priority on inclusiveness that they fail to accomplish anything important. They don’t achieve the clarity or focus to be edgy or consequential. So, as the people you gather together do their elaborate and subtle dance with each other, expect that some may leave, and they should. It’s better that your group should stand for something than that it should stand for anything.
Leadership and decision-making are on people’s minds whether they mention it or not, so you might as well raise it to the surface. Talk about what processes will support the vision for the group. Consider what will empower certain group members for certain tasks, and the kinds of members you want to attract. Try to avoid simplistic polarizations or the kind of political correctness that prevents later effectiveness. Although I’ve had great successes with consensus decision-making and shared leadership, I’ve also started successful organizations with defined leadership roles and the possibility of taking votes. It depends on whom I want in the room, what their backgrounds are and what expectations I encounter. Ironically, consensus decision-making can disempower and even exclude some people, depending on cultural factors. Chapter 5 of Grassroots and Nonprofit Leadership describes eight models that movement groups have used for their structures. Easy answers don’t work for a diverse group; anticipate having to think each situation out carefully, consider options and constantly touch base with your mission.
In the group, clarify your mission. Do you want to be all things to all people? (You’ll fail!) Do you want to work in a way that shows the connections among a number of different issues, or do you want to focus first on a particular issue and make a difference there? Do you want to add an ingredient that’s missing in the array of organizations now working on the issue? Make your mission clear enough that you’ll know whether you’re gaining or losing ground. With a clear mission, also, a group can readily reject some supposedly bright ideas because they don’t happen to fit into the mission — thus saving itself a lot of time.
Map your first campaign. One-off protests are okay for bonding, but the way for your group to develop a learning curve and actually make a difference is to create a campaign — or to join, as an ally, a campaign underway. Put your analysts to work and identify some relatively easy options to choose among, because, for a new group, nothing succeeds like success. A goal may qualify as easy because public opinion is already on your side, or because strong organizations already in the field are working on it and have done a lot of the research and action experimentation needed, or because the injustice is so outrageous that even some of the other side’s allies are deserting their cause.
The choice of the first campaign is critical to the success of your group, so it often pays to call in a veteran organizer/trainer to facilitate a strategy retreat. She or he will help you think about the target, the strengths of your constituency and other considerations for maximizing your clout this first time out.
Take a risk. It’s amazing how many excuses seven politically-correct people can find for talking instead of acting boldly. Build a culture of resistance by yourself taking a risk, and explain to your friends that inspiring each other to act requires a lot of risk-taking on everyone’s part — while recognizing that different people can take different risks more or less easily. Watching a movie together like Danny Glover’s Freedom Song, about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee entering Mississippi Klan country in 1961, can help build your action group’s resolve. That was one of Dr. King’s greatest contributions to the young activists of his day: He showed through action how people inspire one other to organize and act in turn.
Project Ivy: A Project of Reach And Teach
One in 45 children in the United States will experience homelessness for some period of time each year. These children represent the hidden face of homelessness. Help may be available for these children and their families, but that help is often not accessed due to many reasons, leaving children to suffer when help could be right around the corner. Plus, with the issue of child and family homelessness being less visible despite the problem being quite significant, too little is being done to make systemic changes so that fewer children and families become or remain homeless.
Project Ivy is designed to make a significant impact on child and family homelessness in the United States.
In 2010, Reach And Teach, a peace and social justice learning company, published Ivy Homeless in San Francisco, an award-winning children's novel about an 11 year-old girl and her father, forced onto the streets after they were evicted from their loft apartment. Ivy is a fictional character but she represents nearly 1.5 million children who will experience homelessness each year in America. Children who read Ivy Homeless in San Francisco are moved to learn more about homelessness and take action to make a difference. Project Ivy will help children do just that.
How will children learn about Ivy (and homeless children like her)?Ivy Homeless in San Francisco is available through Reach And Teach as well as through book distributors, independent bookstores, and libraries across the country. Classroom packs of the book can be ordered which will include a comprehensive chapter-by-chapter language arts curriculum, mapped into the Common Core standards, so that a teacher can fit Ivy into any 5th/6th grade language arts program with all the tools for doing so ready to go.
What if we could talk to Ivy? One of the best ways for children to learn more about an issue like homelessness is to ask questions about which they are curious. Project Ivy will be powered by an interactive web site where children can communicate with Ivy through the voice of the book's author, Summer Brenner, and through the knowledge of national and local organizations working with homeless people. Children will be encouraged to learn more about homelessness locally and nationally and to take action to make a difference.
How can we measure the impact? Learning and action will be tracked and rewarded through an online point system. The more children learn and the more they do the more points they'll be able to earn. Those points can be redeemed for materials and direct financial aid that will be donated to organizations and programs that support homeless children and families locally and nationally. Examples of activities for which children will be able to earn points include:
Asking Ivy questions and reading her answers
Identifying local places where homeless people can get hot meals and food supplies
Locating shelters that support women, families and children in their communities
Writing to elected representatives about the issue of homelessness
Visiting a homeless shelter (with parents or other adults)
Volunteering for a local organization
Writing a letter to the editor of a local newspaper or web site
Tutoring a homeless child
Organizing a food, clothing or book drive
Creating art or poetry about homelessness for the Project Ivy web site
The Web Site and Apps (Crowd-Sourcing / Kid-Powered Support):
As children interact with the web site, its contents will grow exponentially, eventually providing an interactive map of communities across the country. For each community touched by one of these children, finding available assistance for homeless children and families will be easier. The web site's map, created by the children who get involved with Project Ivy (and vetted by Project Ivy volunteers and staff) will show where hot meals, shelters, counseling, medical attention, job training, and other services are available. Those maps will also be made available to users of smart phones and tablets through interactive apps, so that eventually, when someone encounters a homeless person, knowledge of the nearest assistance is only a few finger touches away.
For example, imagine if a child could simply find the nearest hot meal for people in need in his or her neighborhood, enter it into the Project Ivy web site, and after another Project Ivy volunteer verifies the information it could show up on a map like this. (This map represents hot meals and shelters in the Silicon Valley area.)
See how easy it can be for anyone to get involved! Click here to visit a sample Project Ivy page where you can let the world know about a hot meal, bag lunch, or food pantry program in YOUR community.
The Leadership Team:
Project Ivy will be led by the award-winning educational / multimedia team of Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi, co-founders of Reach And Teach. Both have been deeply involved in the world of distance learning since the 1990's, developing interactive educational web sites and CD-ROMs for companies including Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, IBM, Northern Telecom, and Motorola. In 2004 they launched Reach And Teach, dedicated to transforming the world through teachable moments with a focus on peacemaking, gender equality and sustainable living. Wiesner and Kikuchi have long been recognized as leading-edge innovators in education, in corporate, government, and non-profit circles. Beyond their business experience, they have worked directly with homeless people for over a decade through the "Breaking Bread" meal program in Palo Alto, California.
Award-winning Bay Area author Summer Brenner came up with the idea for Ivy after working at a shelter that housed women and children. Her incredible ability to connect with children, and spark a passion for reading, learning and getting involved in civic action, was recognized by organizations that wanted to make a difference in children's lives in Richmond California. Brenner was awarded grants to write a book about the most poverty-stricken area of Richmond known as the Iron Triangle. The results of children reading Richmond Tales were so powerful that the city of Richmond now celebrates Richmond Tales day every year, distributing thousands of books to children. Brenner has now received grants to write a book about children in Oakland California.
Patty Page is an award-winning multimedia artist who has worked at the forefront of television and film production for two decades. A poet, artist, and film-maker, Page will provide artistic direction for the project. Her first contribution to the project is a 2-minute video about Project Ivy which is now available on YouTube and will be used for initial fundraising to "kickstart" the project.
Within one year of the launch of the Project Ivy web site, Reach And Teach expects to have 10,000 children across the country access the site, learn about homelessness, and take at least one action to impact their community. Within three years we expect to reach 250,000 children, and believe that if each of those children takes action to make a difference in their own community, over half of the children who experience homelessness during that year will feel the supportive touch of their neighbors and will see some improvement in their own situation.
A stretch goal would be that within 5 years, because of the visibility of child and family homelessness, and advocacy for policy changes and legislation, the number of homeless children will be reduced by half.
How You Can Help:
We are now ready to start seeking help to make this project happen. Here are ways you can get involved:
Buy a Copy of the Book - Whether you get a copy of the book for yourself, someone you love, or gift it to a school library, getting the book into the hands of children AND adults will help shine a light on a struggle that 1.5 million children face every year. Plus, $5 from the sale of each copy of the book sold through Reach And Teach will go towards kickstarting Project Ivy. Ask a local teacher if he or she would like a classroom pack and the curriculum and gift it to the class!
Outreach and Communications - Help us introduce Project Ivy to communities across the country, connecting with agencies, organizations, and individuals already supporting homeless children and families plus teachers/administrators responsible for implementing the McKinney/Vento law (providing services to homeless children)
Programming - Help us create the platform through which children will communicate with Ivy, learn about homelessness, and take steps to work in their community and across the country
Partnership- Become one our our nonprofit partners
Donations - We will soon begin to collect donations to build Project Ivy
Spread the Word - Help us get the word out about this important project
Simply fill out the form below and join us! We'll be in touch with specific information about how you can get started. Remember that our big goal is to cut child and family homelessness in half. As Linda Alepin, founder of the Global Women's Leadership Network encouraged us recently, this is a movement millions of people can get behind, because millions of children need our help. Join us now!
January Local Newsletter
No! It Isn't Seinfeld, It's Making Contact (National Radio Project)
Da Da Dum.... Perhaps you hear the program on your favorite public radio station or you listen online, but those first few notes they play just before they say "This week on Making Contact" are almost as iconic as those first few notes they had on Seinfeld. Reach And Teach is honored to have the team from Making Contact at our shop in San Mateo this Saturday January 12th from 2pm to 5pm and you're invited. See below for details. This month we'll also be doing a field trip to the Bay Area Environmental Educators Resource (BAEER) Fair. See below for info on that great annual event in Marin. AND... Reach And Teach will be the bookseller at the annual Orion Children's Book Festival in Redwood City on Saturday February 2nd! Check out news about that below.
Da Da Dum...... This Week on Making Contact
Now that the silly season of election politics, the frenzy of the holidays, and recovery from nearly falling off the so-called fiscal cliff are behind us, it's time for us to get together, have fun, be inspired, and OCCUPY 2013! The team at the National Radio Project's Making Contact program, a syndicated radio show reaching 200 stations in 39 states, wants to connect with the progressive community on the peninsula, share their plans for 2013 programming, and get ideas from YOU in a fun, low-key, open house. Meet on-air reporters and producers working on focus areas including women, prisons, globalization, the environment, and labor movements and let them know the kinds of topics you would like to see covered in the coming year. Leaders from Reach And Teach, the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Peace Action San Mateo, and Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice will also be on hand to share their plans for 2013 and beyond. Internationally renown and wanted in several states, Folk This will lead us in folk-songs both radical and silly. There will be great food and interesting people (if you show up) and a chance to kickstart 2013 away from the center and straight (or gaily) to the left.
Join us on Saturday January 12th from 2pm to 5pm (music somewhere in the middle) at 178 South Blvd. (@16th Avenue) in San Mateo. Call 650-759-3784 if you need more info. Plenty of free parking on the street. If you plan to join us please RSVP by email or via Facebook at but even if you don't RSVP, just come! There will be opportunities to support the hosting organizations and performers (buckets and boxes but no begging).
On Saturday January 19th from 10am to 4:30pm Reach And Teach will be at the BAEER Fair at the Marin Civic Center, with over 70 resources and numerous workshops for educators and parents with a special interest in wildlife, ecology, adventure and much more. Discover the latest in classroom materials, environmental education programs, and field trip sites. Join in the fun and attend workshops introducing conservation and wildlife education, school gardens, and strategies for fostering environmental awareness! The event is specially designed for teachers, community educators, students, families, and all concerned about the environment we share.
We'll be there along with our friends from Youth Community Service who will be leading one of the workshops using lessons from their fantastic new curriculum (click here to see their fantastic new curriculum.... did we mention that it was fantastic???).
Orion Children's Book Authors and Illustrators Festival Saturday February 2nd
Meet some of your favorite children's book authors and illustrators at this fun and free event on Saturday February 2nd from 10am to 3:30pm at the Orion Alternative School in Redwood City (click here for address and other information). Reach And Teach will be on hand with books from these amazing authors and illustrators: Elisa Kleven, Sue Fleiss, Ashley Wolff, Dave Keane, Jeri Chase Ferris, and Joanne Rocklin. The authors and illustrators will give presentations, meet fans, and sign books. In addition to meeting the authors and illustrators you'll get to see the incredible gift the students at Orion create for the love of reading, illustrating gigantic and beautiful posters / artwork representing each author and illustrator's work.
That's all the news from Reach And Teach for January 2013. We're grateful to all of our partners in peacemaking for making 2012 a good year and we hope you will keep tagging along with us in the year and years to come. And finally.... if you're feeling the love and want to share it, please forward this message to a friend, colleague, parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, that person you met at a cocktail party who said something about someone that made you think that maybe she'd be interested in Reach And Teach. Click here to forward a link to this message to a friend, or two, or three......