Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How to Solve Every Problem the Earth Faces?

“The World Becomes What You Teach” asks: What if schooling prepared us to solve the most pressing challenges of our time, for ourselves, other people, animals and the earth? What if we educated a generation of “solutionaries”? 

To see the Zoe Weil's Ted Talk click, 'Zoe Weil on what school is for'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Texas Evangelicals Reach Out to Local Muslims

'Every day for five years, youth pastor Rich Reaves has arrived to work in the shadow of a cross and a crescent moon. There, at his Houston church, he and senior pastor Elliott Scott discuss ways they can live out “true Christianity” by loving their neighbors–in this case, members of a mosque next door.
Meanwhile, across town, a dozen religious leaders from the Islamic and Christian communities meet to find common ground and discuss ways to educate Houstonians on “true Islam,” in order to address growing concerns over Islamophobia.
While recent news reports focus on the ISIS threat, and verbal attacks made by Christians against Muslims, a less reported story is going on behind the scenes: members of the two faiths coming together in the name of peace.
For Reaves at Lifepath church, the step in reaching out to his Muslim neighbors was to make contract.  "I couldn't figure out how to reach them," Reaves said, noting that there was no signage around the mosque's gated complex to even indicate what the name of the mosque was.  "I finally called the phone number posted for deliveries."
To read more click, “Most people aren’t afraid of Islam itself. They are afraid of the unknown.”

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

One World

'Two months ago, Brazilian graffiti artist Kobra, 40, who lives in Sao Paulo, began working on a mural which was recently determined to be the world's largest mural completed by a single man.

To create the masterpiece for the Rio Olympics Kobrda used 100 gallons of white paint, 400 gallons of colored paint, and 3,500 cans of spray paint to transform normal walls into visions of color and beauty.

The mural, titled Las Etnias (Ethnicities) depicts the cultural diversity of the games.  50 feet (15 meters) tall and 30,000 square feet (2,782 square meters) wide, it features five faces from five different continents that represent the Olympic rings.

"These are the indigenous people of the worl," says Kobra on the Rio 2016 official website.  "The idea behind it is that we are all one.  We're living through a very confusing time with a lot of conflict.  I wanted to show that everyone is united, we are all connected."

Too bad there isn't a medal for masterfully painting murals, for Kobra would undoubtedly receive the gold.' 

To see more beautiful photos of the mural click, 'We are all one.'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Six All Time Inspiring Olympic Events

‘The Olympics are a time for athletic greatness - and also a time for truly inspiring feats. Sit back and take a look at some of the most inspiring moments from the past 90 years of Olympic Games.
One of them was Jessie Owens.  He was an Afro-American and was competing in track and field in 1936 Berlin.  Because of the color of his skin, Hitler’s Germany viewed Owens as a lesser athlete.  Owens took the prejudice against him as motivation and would go on to win four gold medals (in the 100 meters, long jump, and 4x100 relay.)'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

All Life is Sacred

‘John Malloy’s father was in Army Intelligence and assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Shanghai when Malloy was an infant. When Chiang Kai-shek fled China three years later, in 1949, Malloy’s family was the last one out of Shanghai on a plane. From there they went to the Philippines during the Huk rebellion. And then there was Java and Borneo and jungle living. By the time Malloy was seventeen, he had moved forty-four times. In his young life as a rolling stone, Malloy learned to rely on himself. Whatever allies and friends he might have begun to cultivate in one place were always torn away by his constant displacement. In schools in New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Oakland, as the new kid, he learned to fight. Every day was a trial. While living in San Francisco he ended up in juvenile hall. Later, he did time for assaulting the perpetrators of a rape. Being unprotected from bullies in school wasn’t so different from how it was in jail. The big eat the little. But Malloy was a warrior. It was during his time in jail that something crystallized for him. “I knew that I was going to clean up my mess and spend the rest of my life working in institutions to help take care of the people who no one else was taking care of.”
His resolve led to the creation of a school for young people who had been incarcerated, the Foundry School. Intuitively at first, and later in a more conscious way, he arrived at highly effective ways of helping young people whose lives had spiraled down into violence and crime. Word of Malloy’s integrity, courage, and effectiveness spread. It’s how he began to meet Native Americans who entrusted their at-risk children into his care. For Malloy, it was a pivotal event. In Native American spirituality he found a way of looking at the world that resonated most deeply with his own experience.’

The Librarian Heroes of Timbuktu

'On Friday morning, January 25, 2013, 15 jihadis entered the restoration and conservation rooms on the ground floor of the Ahmed Baba Institute in Sankoré, a government library in Mali. The men swept 4,202 manuscripts off lab tables and shelves and carried them into the tiled courtyard. They doused the manuscripts—including 14th- and 15th-century works of physics, chemistry, and mathematics, their fragile pages covered with algebraic formulas, charts of the heavens, and molecular diagrams—in gasoline. Then they tossed in a lit match. The brittle pages and their dry leather covers ignited in a flash.
In minutes, the work of Timbuktu’s greatest savants and scientists, preserved for centuries, hidden from the 19th-century jihadis and French conquerors, survivors of floods, bacteria, water, and insects, were consumed by the inferno.
In the capital city of Bamako 800 miles away, the founder of Timbuktu’s Mamma Haidara Library, a scholar and community leader named Abdel Kader Haidara, saw the burning of the manuscripts as a tragedy—and a vindication of a remarkable plan he’d undertaken. Starting with no money besides the meager sum in his savings account, the librarian had recruited a loyal circle of volunteers, badgered and shamed the international community into funding the scheme, raised $1 million, and hired hundreds of amateur smugglers in Timbuktu and beyond. Their goal? Save books.' 

To read more click, 'They all made it.'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Transgender God?

‘Religious arguments are often brought in to defend social prejudices – as in the discussion about transgender rights.  In fact, the Hebrew Bible, when read in its original language, offers a highly elastic view of gender.  The God of the three monotheistic, Abrahamic religions to which fully half the people on the planet today belong, was understood by its earliest worshippers to be a dual-gendered deity.’
To read more click, 'Not a matter of either/or'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California 

Wonderful Short Film of the Dalai Lama 'at Home:'

From Alive Mind Apr. 21,2016 - 'The daily life of the Dalai Lama is brought home with remarkable intimacy in Sunrise/Sunset. Granted total access to His Holiness for 24 hours, this is a day in the life of the Dalai Lama from when he wakes up at 3AM until his bedtime at dusk.'

To view click, 'Sunrise, Sunset'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Are We Missing Something?

'In 18th-century America, colonial society and Native American society sat side by side.  The former was buddingly commercial; the latter was communal and tribal.  As time went by, the settlers from Europe noticed something:  No Indians were defecting to join colonial society, but many whites were defecting to live in the Native American one.'

'Benjamin Franklin observed the phenomenon in 1753, writing, “When an Indian child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return.”
At the same time, many European settlers were taken prisoner and held within Indian tribes.  After a while, they had plenty of chances to escape and return, and yet they did not.  In fact, when they were “rescued”, they fled and hid from their rescuers.
As Hector Crevecoeur wrote, “Thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no examples of even one those aborigines having from choice become European.” '
Are we missing something?  To read more click, 'The American Indian Leap'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Paying It Forward

'A waitress who did a good deed for a pair of firefighters was overwhelmed when they returned the favor—for her father.'

To read more click, 'Your breakfast is on me today.'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Singing South African Firefighters in Canada

'Nearly 300 South African firefighters landed at the airport in Canada to inspire hope for a nation fighting against a massive wildfire, not only by their presence but with their voices as they broke into song before joining their Canadian brothers on the front lines.'

To read and see more click, 'Musical dance line helps them bond'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

The Wakhan Corridor

Beautiful, poignant photos from another world.

To see more click, 'Wakhan, An Other Afghanistan'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

A Zulu Drum and a Rugby Ball

From Lynne McTaggart, a mind/heart expanding story of South Africa:
'During his sixty-three trips to South Africa in the 1980s, Beck, a former professor of social psychology at University of North Texas, became known as a bridge builder between the country’s black and white populations; as a consequence, he played a behind-the-scenes role in helping to smooth the country’s transition from apartheid to democracy.

In his dealings with the business community, he began to realize that many of the pro-apartheid Afrikaners, the dominant white group, were unable to differentiate between various black tribes, while members of the African National Congress, the party led by Nelson Mandela, also had difficulty distinguishing between different types of Afrikaners.
Beck began delivering presentations all over South Africa to educate whites and blacks in the fine distinctions between the many different Zulu tribes and white groups.

“I was able to break up,” he says, “the definitional systems that fueled prejudice.”
It was Beck who first came up with the idea of using South Africa’s entry into the World Cup rugby play-offs in 1995, depicted in the film Invictus, as a means of creating nation-building euphoria, in order to unify a country emerging from apartheid. Beck had a special fascination with the psychology of premier-league games, and through his experiences working with the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints, he had developed a belief in the power of sports as a peacemaker.

This was a bold idea, given that the Springboks, the South African rugby team, were the very symbol of apartheid. Rugby was considered a white man’s sport. Virtually all players were Afrikaners, the white pro-apartheid minority; rugby coaches even shouted out plays in Afrikaans. English-speaking or black players seldom made the team, and consequently, the black population in South Africa actively boycotted the sport.
In 1995, Beck presented Kitch Christie, the Springboks coach, with a paper entitled Six Games to Glory, which detailed a series of psychological strategies that would help transform the team from underdog to world-class contender in the games leading up to the World Cup. Besides the strategies for winning the game, Beck’s paper included ways that the Springboks could stand as a focal point of pride for the fledgling country and connect the township blacks with the Afrikaners.
He suggested that the Springboks adopt a collaborative or common identity — the green and gold colors of the team shirts, and a sports crowd song, with a Zulu drum to lead the team and arouse the crowd.

Beck arranged for the team to visit Mandela’s tiny prison cell at Robben Island, in order to emphasize their larger role in their country’s destiny. Above all, his exercises were to help develop a sense that each member of the team faced a life-defining moment requiring that they pull together as one.
As the games progressed, Beck’s superordinate goal began to infect the country; young blacks from the township tore down anti-rugby signs and hung photos of their Springbok heroes. During the World Cup, which the Springboks went on to win, Mandela was persuaded to appear in a Springbok green and gold shirt — the colors that had always symbolized his oppressors — as a tangible sign of unity and forgiveness.

To Beck, creating a superordinate goal is one of the best ways to achieve peace in areas of political conflict. In his work, Beck often meets with both sides in an area of conflict and shows them a positive vision of future possibility, but one that requires that both sides work together and use their common geography and resources to create a solution for all who live there.'
To read more click, 'A Zulu drum'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Monday, August 1, 2016

Seeing a Need and Meeting It

                              To read more click, 'It May Seem Like an Ordinary Overpass'

Pope Francis: Believe in a New Humanity

'Pope Francis encouraged hundreds of thousands of young people at a global gathering of the faithful in Poland on Sunday to “believe in a new humanity” that is stronger than evil and refuses to see borders as barriers.  "God," said Francis in his final homily of the pilgrimage, “demands of us real courage, the courage to be more powerful than evil, by loving everyone, even our enemies.”
“People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centered or small-minded,” Francis told his flock, many of them in their late teens, 20s or 30s.'
To read more click, 'The courage to be more powerful than evil'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kindness During Conflict

'During times of conflict and political or religious civil unrest, the power of the human spirit’s capacity for non-violent protest and kindness still shines through.'

'This is the aftermath of a very sweet moment between a General and a protester in Brazil. Upon seeing what looked to be an impending conflict, the general made a simple request. “Do not fight, please. Not on my birthday.” How did the protesters respond? By not fighting, for starters but they went a step further and made the man a cake.'

To see more click, '35 Images of Kindness Found Within Conflict'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Can Money Buy Happiness?

'Six years ago, a landmark study found that money did improve subjective well-being, but only up to a point: Above an annual household income of around $75,000, found the Princeton researchers, more money wouldn’t buy more happiness.
But that doesn’t mean how people (of all income levels) spend their money is irrelevant. 
In fact, a recent wave of research suggests that money can buy happiness—if we spend it in the right ways. Dishing out cash for experiences rather than material goods can give us a boost, as can spending on other people. And we’ll get the biggest happiness bang for our (literal) buck if we indulge in many small treats rather than a few big splurges. 
Now, a new paper published in Psychological Science suggests that money can also buy happiness when we spend it on products that fit our personality.  Across more than 76,000 transactions, the researchers found that participants with a better match between their personality and their purchases were more satisfied with life. This link was even stronger than those between total income or total spending and life satisfaction, and it held even after controlling for income, age, and gender.'
To read more click, 'Money enables us to lead a life we want'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California
A Mindfulness  Practice Does Not Necessarily Equate to Mindful Parenting

'In a recent study, researchers at the University of Vermont surveyed over 600 parents of children ages 3-17 to see how mindfulness related to their children’s well-being. Parents reported on their trait mindfulness (how mindful they are in everyday interactions), mindfulness in parenting (how attentive, non-judging, and non-reacting they are in interactions with their children), and positive versus negative parenting practices (for example, expressing unconditional love and setting limits versus using harsh physical punishments). They also reflected on their kid’s typical coping styles—if they tended to become anxious or depressed or act out in disruptive ways, like hitting or yelling during difficult situations.
'Analyses showed that parents who reported more mindful parenting engaged in more positive and less negative parenting behavior, which was then linked to more positive behavior in their kids—meaning less anxiety, depression, and acting out.' 
But just because you have a practice that has increased your mindfulness and reduced your stress, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can apply these skills in more charged settings.  To read more click, 'Mindful parenting matters'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Thursday, July 21, 2016

More Empathic Judges?

Being a judge making decisions affecting other people's lives in profound ways is an extraordinary responsibility.  Some judges would hold the idea of allowing emotions to enter into their decision making in the cases they preside over as a violation of their integrity.  But judges are human beings and for human beings, whether we are aware of it or not, emotions are an integral part of our decision making process.  There is no such thing as pure impartiality.  We all have biases.  No fault there.  It's just part of the human condition.  But we do have a responsibility to become aware of them so that they don't run the show unmonitored.

Judges have to be allowed the room to imagine themselves into the shoes of the parties involved in the cases they preside over.  They can't begin to find their way to fair and just decisions without that. Trying to do that job relying only on mental constructs -laws written by people far removed from the situation at hand - is an inherently flawed approach.

We're a long way off from a justice system that really works in a fair and constructive way.  But in the long run what we need are judges who are fully developed human beings able to bring their minds and their hearts together in ways that allow for all the human dimensions involved in a case to be considered together in arriving at a decision that makes sense.

To read more click, 'Any of those experiences are going to make someone a better judge.'

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Monday, July 18, 2016

Nobody is Broken

William Kenover's son, Sawyer, was diagnosed at age 7 as being on the autism spectrum.  William and his wife, Jen were committed to doing whatever they could to not leave him isolated so when they learned about the practice called 'joining' from Barry Neil Kaufman’s book 'Son-Rise' they were ready to jump in and give it a go.  The results for Sawyer were dramatic and inspiring.  But there was something more for William.  In order to really do the 'joining' he had to let go of the notion that there was anything 'wrong' with anybody.  This led to a transformation of the way he viewed and interacted with life.

To read more click, 'Learning what it's like to be you'  

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Tales of Fantasy Instead of Text Books

Another case of science catching up with ancient wisdom.  New research in Head Start programs is showing that children are better able to take in and assimilate new information if they learn it in the context of fantasy rather than realistic mediums - i.e. fairy tales as opposed to cookbooks.  It's not conclusive from the recent research why this is.  It could simply be that kids find the fantasy stories more interesting and therefore pay greater attention. But a richer possibility is that maybe there is something about the nature of fantasy - thinking about impossible events - that engages a child's deeper processing.  Either way, it appears to be a more effective approach to learning for young children.  That's a break from accepted theories on education and, if we act on it, good news for the kids.

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Group Movement and Social Bonding

Every indigenous culture since the beginning of humanity's time here on the planet has known the importance of people dancing together.  We've lost some of that in today's world but we need the social bonding it brings more than ever.  Who knows, if corporate leaders were to get how it enhances teamwork and productivity we might see it become an integral part of the workday.  At any rate, it absolutely should be a part of every child's education so that we can all grow up knowing the experience of it.

To read more click, collective effervescence

Covey Cowan, San Francisco, California

Friday, July 15, 2016

Infinite Revolution

Making their voices heard through art.

Thank God some people are bringing sanity into our 'correctional' facilities.  What a gift for the young people who find this opening coming into their lives.
"Artistic Noise is a program designed to bring visual arts practice and entrepreneurial skills to young people who are incarcerated, on probation, or somehow involved in the justice system. An exhibition entitled 'Infinite Revolution', on view this summer, will celebrate the immense artistic talent of the individuals involved in the Artistic Noise community, and their bold spirits that refuse to be muffled. 
"So much of what we do and what we’re focused on is give kids who are often silent a way to have their voices heard and their stories told.  Whether they are physically removed from society or just don’t feel like they have a voice, through art they are making this visual noise.”
To read more click, 'The goal was empowerment.'

A Real Education

These two guys know something about real education:

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." - Albert Einstein

"Modern education with its focus on material goals and a disregard for inner values is incomplete. There is a need to know about the workings of our minds and emotions. If we start today and make an effort to educate those who are young now in inner values, they will see a different, peaceful, more compassionate world in the future."

To read more click, Not just a degree 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Small Moments of Connection

'The social fabric is tearing across this country, but everywhere it seems healers are rising up to repair their small piece of it. They are going into hollow places and creating community, building intimate relationships that change lives one by one.
I know everybody’s in a bad mood about the country. But the more time you spend in the hardest places, the more amazed you become. There’s some movement arising that is suspicious of consumerism but is not socialist. It’s suspicious of impersonal state systems but is not libertarian. It believes in the small moments of connection.'- David Brooks

To read more click, 'I have no idea how a person this beautiful can emerge from a past that hard.'

“I Am What I Am Because of Who We All Are.”

'In the Ubuntu tribe of South Africa, when someone does something wrong, they take the person to the center of the village.  There the tribe surrounds the individual for two days, while members of the tribe speak all of the good that s/he has done in their lifetime.  The tribe believes each person is good, yet sometimes people make mistakes, which are actually cries for help.  They unite in this ritual to encourage the person to reconnect with his/her true nature.  The belief is that unity and affirmation are more powerful to change behavior than shaming or punishment.' - http://www.susiehayesnow.com/ubuntu/

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Place That Honors Cats, Dogs, and Mother Earth

Misión Gaia, a jewel of an organization in a mountain village in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, reminds us of what is important.  Its founder and visionary Diana Benincore shares her path.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How Stories Live In Our Bodies

We know in our gut when we’re hearing a good story – and science is starting to explain why.

To read more click ‘Dragons can be beaten.’

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hidden Villa Sponsors Women’s Full Moon Circle Gathering

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Symbol of Religious Co-Existence

While religious intolerance is flaring up in much of the word there is a community in India where Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Jews live with a far greater degree of harmony and gender equality.  How does Kerala do it?  It begins with an understanding that "When the basic needs of life - food, water, sanitation, housing, education, healthcare - are denied, resentment against the 'other' can fester."

To read more click:  God's Own Country

The Wisdom of Insecurity

Alan Watts is as timely as ever.  A good quick read.

To read more click:  Crying for the moon

Global Compassion

It's a lot easier to have compassion for people who are like us.  The greater challenge is to have compassion for those who do not share our ethnicity, language, or culture.  But it's going to be a required course for us if we are going to make it through these next decades.  Paul Ekman has ideas about how it might be taught.

To read more click:  Stranger compassion

Saturday, April 23, 2016

What's Patience Good For?

We've been told since we were kids that patience is good for us.  If we are need of some scientific proof here it is.

To read more click:  The key to happiness?