Thursday, September 29, 2005

E-News & Links on Puppetmaking

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I just received a most wonderful question, do I know of any good online sources as well as books that give puppet making ideas and techniques to teachers.  I do love puppet making questions! If you are just starting to look around at Puppet Making, you are in for a treat.

I would start here:
Click here.
You can find almost anything you want on these pages, so many links that you could get lost except that they tend to categorize everything so well.

Puppeteers of America is also an amazing place to start.
Click here.
And their Links page is priceless.
Click here.

And of course there's Bread & Puppets. I am so in love with these guys!
Click here.
They have a downloadable catalogue, and towards the end of the catalogue there are puppet making instruction booklets for sale, cheap.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fourth Artist's Happiness Challenge: Gratitude Art

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Playing with old postcard of Korea.

The Artist's Happiness Challenge is an e-course consisting of six artistic challenges (lessons) based on the current research being done in the field of positive psychology. I am posting challenges here.

Here's the Fourth Challenge; Gratitude Art:

This one comes from Dr. Seligman's teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. He was trying to figure out an assignment for teaching "altruism vs. fun" and he asked his students to come up with a task that would be altruistic. One student suggested they have a "gratitude gathering" and that each student could bring a guest that they would then read a testimonial about, as a way of showing gratitude.

In "Authentic Happiness,"Seligman has simplified the task to a gratitude letter to the person of your choice and a visit to this person to read the letter.

So here's my idea, instead of a letter, create a small work of gratitude art for the person of your choice. Find ways to express what it is about this person that you are grateful for within your piece. Then give it to them, and explain the meaning of your work.

After you have done this, give these questions some thought:
1) How did you feel as you were planning your response to the exercise? How did you feel while creating your small work of art?
2) How did the other person react to your expression of gratitude? And how were you affected by their reaction?
3) How long did these feelings last after you presented your gratitude art?
4) Have you thought of others with whom you wish to share your gratitude?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Third Artist's Happiness Challenge - The Duchenne Smile



The Artist's Happiness Challenge is an e-course consisting of six artistic challenges (lessons) based on the current research being done in the field of positive psychology. I am posting challenges here.

The Third Challenge is ready when you are. It has three parts to it.
First, you need to go to: http://www.selfesteemgames.mcgill.ca/ where there are some short "self esteem games" developed by doctoral students from McGill's Department of Psychology: Jodene Baccus, Stéphane Dandeneau and Maya Sakellaropoulo, under the direction and supervision of Mark Baldwin, an associate psychology professor.

There are three games to choose from; EyeSpy, WHAM!, and Grow Your Chi. In these games you are given the opportunity to find DUCHENNE smiles (genuine, lit up from inside) from PAN AM smiles (false, based on airlines' hostess smiles) and even grumpy faces. Play any or all of these games. My favorites are Grow Your Chi and EyeSpy.

Basically these games teach you to look for the smiling/approving person in a crowd of frowning or bland faces, repeatedly and as quickly as possible. In order to successfully and accurately identify the smiling/approving face, you need to get in the mind frame of “Look for acceptance, and ignore rejection because it slows me down”.

(The web site also has some downloadable PDF's of their research. A very nice website!)

Now on to part two: Once you've played the game a little and are sensitized looking for the Duchenne smile, start making a small collection of these smiles. I don't think the rather giddy, self-involved, manic smile (does it have a name) you see in advertising is quite what we are looking for. What we want is the smile of your grandmother who hasn't seen you for a long time, or the smile of your best friend who is so glad to see you. It's a smile that lets you know that you are cared for, because you are who you are.

Now on to part three: When you have your little collection of Duchenne smiles, take one that you like the best and use it to create a small work of art, an Artist Trading Card (2 and 1/2 inch by 3 and 1/2 inch on card stock or heavy water color paper). Your next challenge doesn't come until Thursday, so you don't have to do this one all in one sitting.

Ysaye Barnwell of "Sweet Honey and the Rock" has a song called “No mirrors in my Nana’s house.” She had a friend who lived with her grandmother. There were no mirrors in her Nana’s house. "How did you know how you looked in the morning," Ysaye asked. Ysaye's friend told her, "I look into her eyes and I knew I look just fine, the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes. I never knew from her that my skin was too black, or my nose was too flat, or that my clothes didn't fit." Ysaye tells a related story in which a distraught child goes to her grandmother after being teased in the school yard. “Someone called me such and such” the little girl said. The grandmother responded, “If you want to know who you are you look into my eyes.” Ysaye suggests we should get our perceptions of ourselves from people who love us, by looking into their eyes, by listening to them describe us.

Your Duchenne smile Artist's Trading Card should give you that same feeling. Put it somewhere visible where you might need a little positive reflection. Have fun with this and tell me how it went. Also if any one knows the name of the self-involved, manic, giddy smile I'd be happy to know it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A compassionately fruitful idea


Collage by Lani


I joined a new listserv recently called Compassion Fruit (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/compassion-fruit). This is a place where ideas for creative altruism flourish and bring forth amazing fruit. It began as a joint adventure between Artella (http://www.ArtellaWordsAndArt.com) and Benevolent Planet (http://www.BenevolentPlanet.com) when the founders of those two sites wanted to create new ways to effect positive change, to celebrate inspiring and inspired lives, and to restore faith in possibility.

Yesterday this fruitful message came through:

Tonight's news had a story about a family of survivors that has been adopted by a community. Their family Bible and the family pictures saved as they were leaving their flooded home, was what they were most thankful to have. Many of the survivors have extended families who have also lost items like family pictures and Christmas ornaments. What if there is a way that we can help people began to make new keepsakes to be cherished? Some options might be:

~Books or albums for putting new pictures and treasures in. A kit that allows the giver to decorate the book. Maybe a disposable camera included to give with the gift. Good gift to give to a family.

~Boxes for collecting pictures or putting new cherished items in. The kit would have things that the giver could use to decorate the box with. What kid wouldn't love to get a special place to start a new collection?

~Picture frames. Kit to decorate the frames with a choice of paint, stickers, fabric, etc.

~Christmas ornament kits. Variety of different kits that could be made by both adults or children. Good gift for a child to give the parent. Grandparent gifts. It would be so hard to think of not having the ornaments that one has collected and used yearly and that contain so much of a family's history in them: Your child's first year ornament, the first ornament your child made, etc.

Kama

One of the responses read:

...I loved your ideas and I think that it is a wonderful and creative way to help these who have lost s much. I know that some child of any age would love to do something fun and creative..... I work with children and i know that they would love to be able to help put the creative package together. How do we go about it?

Art can transform the world.

To which Kama responded:

... If we can get commitments from people to make kits; someone to figure out the distribution; and someone to find a good source of glue, scissors, etc. Variety in the kits would give options of choice for giving. Maybe we could get them to distribution points before Thanksgiving weekend when the holiday gift season begins.

... I would be willing to commit to making about 6 to 7 dozen packages of fabric picture frame kits and ornament kits by Nov. 18. I have the materials already.

Yes, art can transform the world. And giving hearts can enhance the transformation with joy.

Art Therapists and Associations collecting for those working with Katrina evacuees.

Linda McCarley
North Texas Art Therapy Association
8340 Meadow Road
Suite 136
Dallas, Texas 75231

Joan Phillips
Art Therapy Center
123 E. Tonhawa, Suite 108
Norman, OK 73069

Attention: Susan Anand
Art Therapy Program - Hurricane Katrina
If items are shipped by UPS or Federal Express use the address:
Lutheran-Episcopal Disaster Response of Mississippi
Ascension Lutheran Church
6481 Old Canton Road
Jackson, MS 39236-2402
Supplies sent by the US Postal Service must be mailed to:
Lutheran-Episcopal Disaster Response of Mississippi
Ascension Lutheran Church
PO Box 12246
Jackson, MS 39236

To help in Florida please contact Craig Siegel
www.floridaarttherapy.org

If there are other Art Therapists or Associations willing to be involved in distribution, please let me know.

Friday, September 23, 2005

More thoughts on Mood and Creativity

Old Taiwanese Postcard Altered by Lani

Dr. Seligman was asked this question on his website (http://www.reflectivehappiness.com/): 'What is the relationship between happiness, depression and creativity?'

Seligman described some of Teresa Amabile's research, in which she either induced sadness or happiness and looked at creativity using routine psychological testing. She found that sadness reduced creativity and happiness increased it.

Seligman believes it's a little more complex than that sounds, that a positive mood jolts us into a neurologically different way of thinking from a negative mood. He uses over thirty years of psychology department faculty meetings as his research playground. I'm sure we've all experienced what he descibes, these airless, joyless meetings conducted in rooms without windows or redemption of any kind, full of people who would rather be almost anywhere else. Seligman describes the ambient mood of these faculty meetings as being on the "chilly side of zero." He believes this general mood makes everyone extremely critical. He observes that this negative environment causes the faculty to man their “battle stations," to focus on what is wrong with any new idea, any new suggestions, and any candidate for a new faculty position.

Seligman has observed that positive mood, in contrast, moves people towards ways of thinking that are "creative, tolerant, constructive, generous, undefensive and lateral." People are willing to look for what is right rather than find fault with everything. Rather than looking for sins of omission, people start to hone in on the "virtues of commission." His observations lead him to believe that these positive, creative ways of thinking are occurring in a different part of the brain with a different neurochemistry from the typical negative faculty meeting, with it's highly critical thinking with it's "chilly side of zero" mood.

He suggests you design your mood to fit the task at hand. So tasks that usually require critical, analytic, grumpy thinking (like doing your income tax, or deciding who you need to fire) can be carried on rainy days, in uncomfortable chairs, and in joyless institutional type rooms. Being miserable or grumpy may help you make better critical decisions.

Seligman believes that other life tasks call for creative, generous, and tolerant thinking. Most artistic and associational activities should be carried out in settings that will buoy your mood. Make sure your furniture is comfortable, your music joyful, and that there's enough sun light and fresh air available. If possible, for these activities at least, make sure that the people around you are unselfish and of good will.

In Keri Smith's blog (http://www.kerismith.com/blog/) there is an amazing story unfolding in Palm Springs. Her husband and his best friend created a film about dancing in the street, using a digital camera, put on the film clip setting. The film was entered in the Palm Springs Film Festival where it is doing very well, to everyone's surprise. As a part of their creative Palm Springs film festival adventure, Keri, her husband and his best friend started dancing on the street corners. The responses were wonderful, as you might imagine, but every day a particular woman stopped to tell them that they were making fools of themselves, that people don't do this sort of thing in Palm Springs. Then someone called the police and four squad cars of policemen came to talk to Keri, her husband, and his best friend. In the end they couldn't stop them because no law was being broken.

She concludes "... if you are passionate about what you are doing, tell your story as directly as you can, the world will respond to it. ... 'Use what you got.' don't wait until your situation is perfect (until you have the right space, the right equipment, enough money.) Begin now.

don't worry if people tell you you are crazy.

'We are fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.' -Japanese proverb"

Have a challenging but happiness filled weekend.
Yours,
Lani

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Second Happiness Challenge: Finding Flow


The Artist's Happiness Challenge is an e-course consisting of six artistic challenges (lessons) based on the current research being done in the field of positive psychology. I am posting the challenges here.

Here's the Second Happiness Challenge: Finding Flow!

This second Artist's Happiness Challenge has to do partly with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's research on "flow" and partly with "Grandma" Layton's contour drawings. I got the idea from their work, and from my own observations. One morning I had a slight headache while engaging in my morning routine of journaling and drawing. As I wrote my thoughts ("this headache is awful, I wish it would go away, etc") the headache intesified. When I began drawing a still life with one of my puppets in it, following the puppet's contours with my eyes, while my hands created the same contour on the paper, everything fell away. I was completely involved in the contours, and I had no awareness of time, headache, or anything else. It was definitely one of Csikszentmihalyi's flow moments. I paused, noticed how I was feeling, began to write it down in words and the slight headache returned. When I went back to the contour drawing, the headache disappeared. It was as if endorphins were being released in the process of contour drawing.

Then I remembered how "Grandma" Layton took up drawing at the age of 68 to help deal with her depression. She took a class in contour drawing. She believed that the process of drawing and looking hard at things as she drew them, caused the lessening of her depression and a change in her feelings about her life! She described finding drawing as a miracle. It seemed to me to be related to my own sense of endorphin release while engaging in drawing contours of puppets.

So here's the challenge. Find an object that has interesting contours, get comfortable with paper, pen, or pencil, but forget the eraser. This is about experiencing the process of eye seeing and hand drawing, it's not about judging if the line is perfect or not. If you have time constraints, set an alarm, preferably in another room, for 20 or so minutes. This will let your mind relax so that for this small amount of time you can become fully engaged.
(Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as intense experiential involvement in moment-to-moment activity, where attention is fully invested in the task at hand.) Then draw slowly and as carefully as you can, letting your hand create the contours as your eyes follow them. When you have completed a drawing, see how you feel. Does it seem like maybe it would be a good way to start the day, with a little contour drawing, or a 3 good things, piece of art?

To see some of "Grandma" Layton's contour drawings, go to: http://faculty.indy.cc.ks.us/jnull/introlayton.htm

And to read some of Csikszentmihalyi's work go to his website: http://qlrc.cgu.edu/research.htm

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Creativity Research



"Yes, there were fairies in China"
(old postcard altered by Lani)


Paraphrased from Harvard Business School's E-Newsletter "Working Knowledge"
July 29, 2002

Teresa Amabile has done some really thought provoking research for creative types who are curious about what they do, why they do it, and how they could do it better.

While she was working as a professor of psychology at Brandeis University, she studied professional artists who occasionally did commissioned work. She wanted to study the effect of extrinsic rewards on creativity. The situation was perfect because the artists received contracts specifying their monetary "reward" up front for some of their work, but did other work completely self-initiated, with no guarantees about sales. Dr. Amabile found that, overall, their commissioned artworks were rated by art critics as significantly less creative than their self-initiated work. The judges didn't know which works were commissioned, and they weren't familiar with any of the artists' work previously.

Also while at Brandeis, she did a laboratory experiment with creative writers. She wanted to see if their creativity would be affected by having them focus on extrinsic motivations for being a writer, such as getting rich and famous, versus intrinsic motivations such as enjoying the process of writing. After getting the writers to think about one or the other set of motivations, she had them each write a brief poem that was later judged by critics who didn't have the details of the experimental conditions. The critics found that the creativity of the poems was significantly lower in the group who thought about extrinsic rewards, than in the group who thought about intrinsic rewards. This supported one of the main findings of Dr. Amabile's entire research program on creativity: The Intrinsic Motivation Principle of Creativity. People will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself, and not by external pressures or inducements.

Thank you Teresa Amabile!

Monday, September 19, 2005

First Happiness Challenge




The Artist's Happiness Challenge is an e-course consisting of six artistic challenges (lessons) based on the current research being done in the field of positive psychology. I am posting lessons here.

Here's the first Happiness Challenge:

Andrea Scher of http://www.superherodesigns.com/journal/ paraphrased something she had seen at an art show of Creativity Explored in San Francisco that described Utopia as "a place where everyone has to look for things. And then they find them."

The happiness challenges will be just this kind of Utopia, we will be looking for things, and then we find them!

The first challenge is "The three good things challenge" base on Martin E.P. Seligman's research at the University of Pennsylvania with what he calls The Three Blessings (trademark, copyright). Seligman found that when his subjects wrote down three good things that happened to them each day for a week, there was an increase in reported happiness and decreases in depression and anxious thoughts. He retested his subjects and found that they were maintaining their observations of good things, and were also continuing to maintain their increasingly positive outlook.

Turning this into an art challenge was quite easy. During my morning art journaling, meditative time, I would incorporate 3 good things into my art work, sometimes drawing objects that would represent the things I chose and sometimes imbedding words into the drawing. I started to look for "good things" during the day, collecting things in my mind, a very enjoyable way to go through the day, I must confess. There are endorphins at play with this challenge, for sure.

A good example of this idea can be seen on Cynthia Korzekwa's website "CARDBOARD RETABLOS." She creates simple everyday art of things she's thankful for, easy things to be thankful for, like an umbrella when it rains or the smell of coffee, or the wag of a dog's tail. She uses basic materials, paint, cardboard, and simple thoughts.

So that's your challenge. Create a work of art that has three things imbedded in (or three works with one thing each) for which you are glad. If you do this every day for a week, I guarantee you will start to notice some shifts. Also, I'll be sending out a new challenge on Thursday. You can respond to that challenge, AND work your three good things into your response.

We all know that what I may have in mind, or the way I might solve this problem will be different from the way you might solve it. That's kind of a wonderful thing, especially if we are willing to look at how we solved things and learn from each other.

Any questions?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Today's Art & Inspiration Links


Does your Art Room need some strategically placed quotes?
http://www.artquotes.net/


Do you want some puppet theater directions and other practical fun projects?
http://www.parents-choice.org/full_abstract.cfm?art_id=72&the_page=editorials

More interesting art activities:
http://www.brightring.com/Fun%20Activities.html

Princeton's Art & Play stuff:
http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/

Kids Can Press - excellent web site, good publisher with lots of free stuff:
http://www.kidscanpress.com/
Art books for kids with down-loadable chapters for you to preview.
My favorite is the Jumbo Book of Art:
http://www.kidscanpress.com/kidscanpress/KidsCanPress_3/KCP/f_home.htm
You have to click on the search tool and either type in Jumbo Book of Art, or go down to category and choose art, and see what else is available.

From Diane AuCoin; Women's Art Links:
http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~sparks/wartlink.html
Great links. Thanks, Diane!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Keeping your soul alive in tough times


Altered Postcard by Lani



For Children:

"50 Tips for Keeping Your Soul Alive in Tough Times"

from SpiritualityandPractice.com

by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


1. ANCESTORS

We all have roots in the past and branches reaching for the future. Use the wisdom of your ancestors to help you enjoy the whole experience of being alive.


2. ANIMALS

Let animals be your spiritual teachers. They have plenty to show you about love, patience, and being yourself.


3. ARTISTS

God the Creator loves artists. Feel free to express your creativity at home and at school.


4. BEAUTY

The soul appreciates beauty and will see it in some pretty surprising places. Relish all its discoveries.


5. BODY

Listen to your body when it speaks to you. Remember it is a temple of God, and take good care of it.


6. BOREDOM

Banish boredom from your life. There is always something interesting to be seen, felt, or made known.


7. CARETAKING

Be a caretaker in your world. The Earth needs looking after and as a child of God, this is one of your responsibilities.


8. COMMUNITY

The soul flourishes when you share your adventures with a community. You are connected to others in more ways than you think!


9. COMPARISONS

Don't compare who you are or what you have to anybody else. In God's scheme of things, each of us is unique and totally irreplaceable.


10. COMPASSION

Your soul is compassionate. Allow your deep feelings for others to move through your words and deeds.


11. DEATH

We all encounter many little deaths before our last day. Study the lessons in these experiences, and they will help steady you.


12. DIARY

Keep a diary. It is one of the best ways of honoring your spiritual journey — the sights you've seen and the people you've met.


13. DREAMS

Pay attention to your dreams. They can be spiritually revealing. Try to unravel the images in your dreams and see how they unfold in your waking life.


14. ELDERS

Seek out men and women to guide you on your journey who show by their lives that aging is a blessing and not a burden.


15. ENTHUSIASM

Never put down the enthusiasm of another person, and don't allow anyone to do that to you. Your excitement and commitment are very precious resources.


16. EXERCISE

Engage in a regular spiritual exercise program by praying, meditating, and reading sacred texts. But don't show off your spiritual muscles.


17. EXPLORATION

Explore the wider world of other cultures and different spiritual traditions. It's amazing how much you can learn.


18. FEAR

Trust in God's love of you, and fear can never build a fortress in your heart.


19. FOCUSING

The saints have a secret: they give all their attention to whatever task is right in front of them. Stay focused and live in the moment.


20. FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness begets forgiveness. Once you've accepted the forgiveness of God, it's your turn to forgive others — no matter how much they've hurt you.


21. FRIENDSHIP

Have and be a good friend. Friendship teaches us about sharing, tolerance, and loyalty.


22. GRATITUDE

Every day be sure to give thanks for all the gifts you have received from God and others. Do it at every meal and in between, too.


23. HAPPINESS

Happiness usually comes in small doses. The secret of happiness is to be pleased with what you have and not to always be wanting what other kids have.


24. HELPING

Be an angel for others whenever you can. Angels have been there for you when you've needed them. Keep the gift moving.


25. HOSPITALITY

Be welcoming. Create an open house in your heart for all peoples and things, especially those that are different and strange.


26. IDEALISM

Find ways to spark your idealism. Put it into action, and it will become an eternal flame.


27. INTUITION

Trust your intuition. By tapping into your inner voice, you'll learn what makes you special and develop your character.


28. JOY

Joy animates all deeply spiritual souls. Plug into this divine energy, and the lights will never go out.


29. JUSTICE

Believe that justice can be achieved. Whenever you get angry at injustice, remember that you stand on the shoulders of prophets and whistle blowers who put their lives on the line for what they believed in.


30. MORALITY

It is always worth the effort to try and do the right thing. That is how we give our lives meaning.


31. MYSTERIES

The ways of the Spirit are mysterious. In a world created by God, we're all detectives looking for clues.


32. NEWNESS

Notice those moments when you feel brand new inside. Cherish and encourage that feeling in others.


33. OUTCOMES

Will this turn out okay? Will that person like me? Worrying about outcomes can stop you from acting in the first place. Give up worrying, and just do the best you can.


34. PLAY

Playing around is a good and holy thing. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. God loves people who can have fun.


35. PRAISE

Everybody needs a little pat on the back to keep going. Be lavish in your praise of others.


36. PRIVACY

Treasure your privacy and times alone. Silence is an oasis for your soul.


37. RELATIONSHIPS

Relationships are workshops for spiritual discovery. Classes start in the home and continue in school. Some courses may have to be repeated. Be loving and kind, and you'll graduate with honors.


38. RISK-TAKING

Taking risks is essential to spiritual growth. You need to test your principles and find out what you are made of.


39. RITUALS

Rituals feed the soul. Plan celebrations regularly to count your blessings and express your commitments.


40. RESOURCES

Make good use of the spiritual resources that are available as sources of strength, renewal, and transformation. They may be books, people, hard times, or breakthroughs.


41. SELF-ESTEEM

Cultivate self-esteem. This is inner wealth that makes you feel rich all the time. And no one can take it from you.


42. SERENDIPITY

Those times in your life when you come upon one thing while looking for another are magical moments of grace. Notice them.


43. SHARING

Share the spotlight with others. God appreciates solos, loves duets, and rejoices in choruses.


44. SIGHTS

Don't travel too fast — you may miss the best sights along the way. That goes for everything from walking to eating to studying.


45. SOULMATE

Look for a soulmate. Life is wonderful when you have someone with whom you can share your deepest secrets, fears, and pleasures.


46. SOUL-SAVERS

Faith and hope will always help you get through the day. Don't make them ride in the backseat. They are soul-savers who belong up front where they can see the road ahead.


47. SOUL-STOMPERS

Turn away from those who walk all over your soul. They'll never give you what you deserve or need.


48. SPIRIT

Spirit speaks through stories, movies, novels, paintings, cartoons, drama, and dance. Our souls are nourished when we pay attention.


49. TEARS

Don't ever hold back your tears or laughter. They are expressions of your soul.


50. WONDER

Keep wonder alive in your life by seeing the world with fresh eyes.


SpiritualityandPractice.com is a multifaith website on ways to practice spirituality in everyday life. You'll find book, audio, and film reviews; ideas and links for 37 essential practices; e-courses; online practice circles; teacher profiles; inspirational quotes; video and audio clips; articles; daily celebrations; discussion guides; galleries and art meditations; blogs; and more.

"When poisons get too heavy..."


Quote from Thomas Ashcraft, used with permission.


This is one of my favorite quotes by one of my favorite artists, Thomas Ashcraft, a creator of worlds, collector of astronomical sounds, (which you can listen to herel ), sculptor, designer, astronomer, poet and experimenter.



If you visit him at www.heliotown.com you can find amazing little sculptures like this and this wonderful story about his grandfather.

A m a t e u r W a r t H e a l e r

In the old country, my Grandfather was known as a "Puh -`sway-tah",
that is to say, he was an amateur wart healer.

He had an ability, a sort of innate sympathy and empathy, for connecting with the micro-cellular realms where viruses come into form.

People would seek him out and show him their warts. They would hold out their hands or turn their cheeks to him or show him wherever their warts were. He would simply look at the wart and say, " Bye-bye Wart." It wasn't too much more dramatic than this. And the people would be on their way.

Generally, they would just go about their business and over days they would forget about their warts. Then one day, they would remember and say, "What about that wart?" They would look and the wart would be gone. This is how it usually happened.

My Grandfather had a knack for this. He took no money. It was just something he could do.

( Perhaps he "un-formed" the virus? Perhaps he relieved a tension or a worry in the person that fed the virus? I'm not sure.)

I remember him saying, " And for the orneriest of warts, for the most recalcitrant ones of all, there is always the Remedy of Time."

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Happiness Challenge


For the last few days I've been developing two focus group e-courses that will be offered through Artella. Being focus groups means I'm working out the kinks but participants get the course material for free.

The Heroine's Journey; An Artists' Retreat e-course

The Heroine's Journey is an e-course designed for artists and art therapists working in palliative care, hospice, or with grief and loss. The caregiver often ignores his or her own needs for renewal and healing while taking care of others. It is possible (and necessary) to do both and this e-course will help the artist create their own meaningful and restorative journey with relaxing exercises in art making as well as the creation of healing metaphors and narratives.

The Artist's Happiness Challenge for Artists

The Artist's Happiness Challenge is an e-course consisting of six artistic challenges (lessons) based on the current research being done in the field of positive psychology. The course will begin with a few happiness quotient questions so the participant will be able to
evaluate his or her level of life satisfaction and joy, and after the art challenges and tasks there will be a follow up questionnaire so the participant will have a sense of growth in life satisfaction and joy.

The format for both courses will include two lessons a week for three weeks, sent out via a Yahoo group. I chose the Yahoo group because it allows for dialogue, questions and answers as well as a place to display art work.

At the end of the three weeks we will examine the possibilities for using either the Heroine's Journey or the Happiness Challenges in art therapy groups.

There will also be a brief survey to be filled out at this time.



Can there be too much happiness in this world?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More Katrina Information


Edward's Icelandic Poppies

While waiting for more art therapy specific donation information, I wandered over to Truth Out.
If you haven't been lately, I recommend it. They have a Mayday Mississippi Delta page which gets updated every day. It has a video clip of Aaron Broussard, which needs to be viewed!!! It also has an excellent article on 10 Great Ways You Can Help which I have included in its entirety.

10 Great Ways You Can Help
By Don Hazen
AlterNet

Wednesday 07 September 2005.

Let's not let our clumsy, uncaring government undermine our capacity to help those in need. Here are 10 outstanding endeavors that deserve our support.

In the absence of leadership and compassion from the White House and the entire administration, along with the unbelievable scope of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, there has been an unprecedented citizen response of money, goods, volunteers and technology creating a river of love and support to the more than a million displaced people. Simply stated, Americans are not going to let a clumsy, uncaring government undermine our capacity to support those in need.

It's clear that huge numbers of Americans don't agree with the Bush administration's philosophy and strategy of shrinking government and services. In downgrading FEMA and cutting funding for flood protection for New Orleans, while spending hundreds of billions of dollars to send hundreds of thousands of American troops and tons of equipment to Iraq, our country and our people have been left vulnerable. When big trouble happens at home, as it did with Hurricane Katrina, the fundamental cruelty of disdaining and downgrading government services is made abundantly clear.

As often happens in big disasters, huge enterprises like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army and others get the bulk of the money raised (the Red Cross has already raised over $350 million). Sometimes these big operations do not have the nimbleness or the understanding of the local community to apply the aid in the smartest and most strategic way. That's when we have to trust the people we know, and the local grassroots groups that have been serving their communities for decades.

What follows is one list of 10 great things happening in response to Hurricane Katrina. These are deserving places for your support, whether it is to give housing, use your tech skills, volunteer or give hard cash.

1. American Friends Service Committee (via veteran reporter Doug Ireland): "If you'd like to make a donation that will actually help the poorest citizens of New Orleans, Biloxi, and the many small Southern towns devastated by Katrina, you should do so through the American Friends Service Committee. They've established a special Hurricane Relief fund. The AFSC was founded by Quakers in 1917 to provide conscientious objectors with an opportunity to aid civilian war victims. It's still Quaker-run, and its sterling history of agitation and education for peace is matched by its long record, for nearly a century, of lean, effective, on-the-ground service to victims of war and famine. A gift to the AFSC won't be wasted."


2. NAACP disaster relief efforts. Juan Proano explains that the NAACP, America's oldest civil rights organization, "is setting up command centers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama as part of its disaster relief efforts. NAACP units across the nation have begun collecting resources that will be placed on trucks and sent directly into the disaster areas. Also, the NAACP has established a disaster relief fund to accept monetary donations to aid in the relief effort. The NAACP has chapters and members throughout the disaster area, and is intent on getting relief to those most in need at the grassroots level. "
Send checks payable to:
NAACP Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore, MD 21215
Donations can also be made online at: https://www.naacp.org/disaster/contribute.php


3. Cindy Sheehan and Veterans for Peace. From Michael Moore: "Join with me in bypassing the colossally inept and incompetent Bush administration and get help DIRECTLY to the people of the New Orleans area - right now. Many don't know who to trust. I have a way, though, for each and every one of us to do something that can affect people's lives TODAY. I've been working with a group that, I guarantee you, will get direct aid to the people who need it most. Cindy Sheehan, the brave woman who dared to challenge Mr. Bush at his summer home has joined The Veterans for Peace set up camp in Covington, Louisiana, on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. They are accepting materials and personally distributing them to those in need and are going to be delivering much-needed supplies." Needed now: paper plates, paper towels, toilet paper, baby diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, Pedialyte, baby items in general, powder, lotion, handy wipes, sterile gloves, electrolytes, LARGE cans of veggies, school supplies, and anything else to lift people's spirits. Visit VFPRoadTrips.org for instructions on shipping these things, or driving them there yourself.


4. Help ACORN get on its feet again. ACORN, the most influential organization in the U.S. in fighting for low-income people is really hurting. From Allison Conyers: "Our headquarters in New Orleans has been destroyed. Now we are fighting to relocate and aid the more than 9,000 member families we have there. We have members in Houston who are taking in many families and are now organizing a van tour that will pick up goods from cities all over the country. We need support to open a temporary national headquarters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and, when possible, reopen our offices in New Orleans. As we get up and running, we will gather together our displaced community members and work to help secure the housing, community services, and other relief they need. All of this will be expensive, so please consider a contribution to the ACORN Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding Fund."


5. Help people reconnect. PeopleFinder is a volunteer-driven database project attempting to compile all of the information currently found online - from official Red Cross databases to Craigslist lost-and-found postings - into one central repository, and to republish that information in a way that will be easily searchable and amendable to existing databases. From Zack Rosen, founder of CivicSpace Labs: "I was stunned by the response they received when the project was launched on Friday. By Saturday, we had around 100 developers working on the various pieces; by this afternoon, volunteers have processed over 60,000 records of information. I haven't ever seen anything like it." They're expecting to have the search functions finished by the weekend, and will be working with the Red Cross and FEMA to finalize some of the implementation.
A number of technicians at Community Wireless Rapid Response are putting together a low-powered FM radio network, and are in need of radio equipment donations. They need 10,000 radios and the batteries to run them ASAP. They're also working on setting up WiFi and other wireless communications, and are based out of Houston. Equipment and techies in that area are needed.
Air America Radio's Public Voicemail, 1-866-217-6255, is a way for disconnected people to communicate in the wake of Katrina. Here's how it works: Call the toll-free number above, enter your everyday phone number, and then record a message. Other people who know your everyday phone number (even if it doesn't work anymore) can call Emergency Voicemail, enter the phone number they associate with you, and hear your message. You can also search for messages left by people whose phone numbers you know. Air America Radio will leave Public Voicemail in service for as long as this crisis continues. You can call it whenever you are trying to locate someone, or if you are trying to be found. Air America Radio brings you Emergency Voice Mail in conjunction with VoodooVox.


6. Supporting local foundations and organizations. From Sara Van Gelder, editor of Yes Magazine: "Here are some local groups who need donations to enable them to provide immediate disaster relief. These groups come well-recommended by trusted sources as organizations with a long-term commitment to stricken areas and a strong track record of making a difference."


* The Enterprise Corporation of the Delta and the Hope Community Credit Union will use donated funds for immediate relief, and then help people rebuild their homes and businesses in the distressed communities in Louisiana and Mississippi where these not-for-profit organizations have been operating for a dozen years.
Enterprise Corporation of the Delta
222 North President Street/Suite 200
Jackson, MS 39201
Phone: 601-944-1100; Toll-free: 1-866-THE-DELTA (1-866-843-3358); FAX: 601-944-0808
Email: info@ecd.org


* The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is estimating that as many as half a million displaced people may be in Baton Rouge for up to six months. The foundation's Hurricane Katrina Displaced Residents Fund is seeking funds to assist with housing, food and basic necessities for these hurricane refugees. A second fund, Hurricane Katrina New Orleans Recovery Fund, will help those who return to the Greater New Orleans area get back on their feet. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is a non-profit community foundation comprised of over 300 charitable funds.
Baton Rouge Area Foundation
402 N. Fourth Street
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802
Phone (225) 387-6126
Toll-free 1(877) 387-6126


7. Housing offers. MoveOn has the largest housing network operation running so far, and the Louisiana state government has endorsed it on their site (note that all housing shelters listed for the state of Louisiana are listed as full). From Noah T. Winer: "In the face of the enormous tragedy unfolding in the Southeast, the response from MoveOn members and the general public to our volunteer housing efforts has been amazing and heartwarming. Since last Thursday, offers of over 150,000 beds have been posted at hurricanehousing.org, with over 50,000 of those spots in the Southeast. ...
Over 1,500 people have responded to the postings, seeking housing for 11,000 hurricane victims - even as most relief organizations are still focused primarily on saving everyone they can from the most immediate dangers. With over a million people displaced, we expect that the housing offered so far will be snapped up."


8. Preventing local non-profits from getting marginalized. From Drummond Pike at the Tides Foundation: "In the past, Tides has established Rapid Response Funds for emergencies (Hurricane Mitch, 9/11, and the recent tsunami). In each case, we have used the funds to fill in the gaps where progressive organizations, community groups or underserved populations are left marginalized by the larger relief programs. That is our intent here. We expect that the bulk of the funds will be used to support the recovery of nonprofits that have served the Gulf States for years. Once on their feet, these groups will be one of the best ways to aid displaced people in dire straights. Second, we will be looking for ways to help undocumented immigrants and others often left outside government and Red Cross sponsored programs.
Tides Rapid Response Fund for Hurricane Katrina Relief and Rebuilding has been established for our friends to easily make contributions. You can make an instant online donation to the fund by clicking the Donate Now button at www.tidesfoundation.org/RR_0905.cfm "


9. Supporting the AFL-CIO Union Community Fund's special Hurricane Relief Fund. Donations will be targeted to meet the most critical needs among working families. From the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center: Those of us fortunate to be outside the hurricane's path must help and we must help now. The AFL-CIO's Union Community Fund has established a special Hurricane Relief Fund that will target help where it's needed most by working families. We are working with the labor federations in affected states and with relief organizations to make sure your contributions help brother and sister union members whose lives have been turned upside down. Please click on the link below to make your tax-deductible contribution now: https://secure.ga3.org/08/UCF_Katrina_Relief
The Union Community Fund - "labor's charity for working families and communities in distress" - is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity. Donations to the Union Community Fund are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.


10. Supporting the local progressive union community coalition. From Van Jones, executive director, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights: "Community Labor United (CLU), a coalition of the progressive organizations throughout New Orleans, has brought community members together for eight years to discuss socio-economic issues. We have set up a People's Hurricane Fund that will be directed and administered by New Orleans' evacuees. The Young People's Project, a 501(c)3 organization formed by graduates of the Algebra Project, has agreed to accept donations on behalf of this fund. Donations can be mailed to:

The People's Hurricane Fund c/o The Young People's Project
99 Bishop Allen Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139

If you have comments of how to proceed or need more information, please email Curtis Muhammad, muhammadcurtis@bellsouth.net

**************************
If you want to find out how you can help in Florida please contact Craig Siegel
www.floridaarttherapy.org
***************************

And then this came in from Susan:

In Mississippi, we are beginning to work with people who are living
in the shelters. Many art therapists, groups and organizations have
indicated that they would like to help by sending art supplies. The shelters have been swamped by people bringing donations and due to lack of space they are now asking that all supplies and donations be taken or shipped to larger warehouses for
distribution. I would like to suggest that we use the following
address for the art therapy donations to Mississippi. I know the people in this program and they have agreed to accept the donations and will work with us to distribute art supplies to shelters and areas in need outside our area, including the coast. Currently, this organization

The preferred method of shipping would be UPS or Federal Express
because
delivery would be directly to the church building.
Please mark your packages or boxes -

Attention: Susan Anand
Art Therapy Program - Hurricane Katrina

If items are shipped by UPS or Federal Express use the address:
Lutheran-Episcopal Disaster Response of Mississippi
Ascension Lutheran Church
6481 Old Canton Road
Jackson, MS 39236-2402

Supplies sent by the US Postal Service must be mailed to:
Lutheran-Episcopal Disaster Response of Mississippi
Ascension Lutheran Church
PO Box 12246
Jackson, MS 39236

We appreciate your generous support and response to this disaster.

Yours,
Susan Ainlay Anand

**************************

If you are working with the hurricane relief effort, or you know someone who is, who might benefit from this information, please forward. If you are interested in using Crayola products in your work, like Model Magic for sculpture and puppets, Crayola says contact www.giftsinkind.org.
You can read about it here:
http://www.binney-smith.com/page.cfm?id=17&hasFlash=false
Crayola also has an interesting activities page:
http://www.crayola.com/helpingkids/

A story and art link




artwork by Rama Hughes, used with permission.

I was reading Keri Smith's blog Wish Jar Journal yesterday, and came across controversy and a story of sorrows and sweetness and a link to some art and more stories.

Rama was responding to the controversy arising in the comments section of the blog.


"wow, i can't believe the hubbub on your blog! i want to defend you but i don't think you need it. can i thank you instead?

when the twin towers were destroyed, i was working as a kindergarten teacher in oregon. it was a really sad day obviously. looking back on it though, i still remember it as one of the most beautiful days of my life. the parents of my students were mad with fear. most of them came immediately to the school to fetch their children. those of them that didn't leave right away to play in a park or treat their family to a movie, stayed in my classroom all day to build with legos, eat lunch, and nap with their children. i knew that i should be sad but i couldn't help but be happy. there is no accounting for emotions. it was BEAUTIFUL to see how much everyone loved each other that day and how simple pleasures were so deeply appreciated.

in my experience, you do this too. you help people see the good in the world. even the post that some people complained about was a reminder that there is ALWAYS beauty to be found. that is especially important when there is a tragedy. $20.00 will feed some people and a couch will help them out. you've been feeding people's hearts since i met you though. in the long run, that is just as valuable. And more rare in my opinion. thank you, keri."

And thank you Rama, for reminding us to love one another and share our simple pleasures.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Edith Kramer's Advice


Edith Kramer, one of the grandmother's of art therapy, had this advice for the prevention of burn-out, handed down from Red Cross workers at the end of World War II. The Red Cross workers said to do your best with everyone you meet, do your triage and what ever is needed, but in order to keep doing it well and to keep from burning out you need to pay close attention to one person or one family, following their unfolding story, giving them the extra investment. Looking at the details of one story will keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of all the sorrow. This struck me as very sound advice.

Texas artist, Jane E. Ward sent me this:

I live 25 miles from Houston - am currently helping a friend who's a local elementary school teacher, help a family of 6, maybe more as other relatives reunite with them, that landed here ahead of the buses and are at a motel on Interstate 10- We have found that it's very hard to connect with FEMA etc. if your not in the Astrodome or one of the shelters and don't have transportation. We found them a house and are gathering up household goods. Also my Artist Way group is gathering supplies for the Houston SPCA that's taking in misplaced pets and holding them until their people can be found and reunited.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Update on Art Therapists' Volunteering Wish Lists




Here are some responses from my three art therapy contacts:
Susan Anand of Jackson Mississippi wrote:

Yesterday was spent doing "social work" as the shelter where I had been working was closed down - don't know why, but I did hear that FEMA might want the space. GO figure??? Have been collecting more materials that people are donating and plan to begin visiting the shelters in the area to see how we can begin to set things up. Many of the shelters are in churches and this will be easier to work with children in groups as there is more space, staff, and hopefully some areas that are free of noise (tvs are running all of the time showing reports of the damage, etc) I also unloaded trucks and packed boxes last night with Vinnie at a church. Up till midnight. People are sending food and basic needs from all over the US - and it is the churches and Wal-Mart that seem to be getting to some of the hardest hit areas. There is a lot of frustration with the Red Cross here. On our morning news, we are hearing that there are many people in rural areas of the state who haven't seen anyone as yet. They don't have gas to go to the distribution points - many don't know where the distribution places are because of lack of communication. Lani, it goes on and on. Thanks again for your help.

Linda McCarley wrote:

Thanks to all for assisting art therapists who are working with Katrina survivors, by offering such great ideas for appropriate interventions, and by offering to make contributions. Anything at all in the way of art supplies, fabrics, etc., is needed and welcomed. I was at the Reunion Arena today working with children ages 3-12. I was impressed with their resilience but I expect some will need mental health support for months to come and perhaps years to come... My guess is that many of these displaced families are going to be at the Reunion Arena for several more months, until more permanent housing arrangements can be made. With so many folks, that may take quite a while.

So send fabric, and general art supplies to:
Linda McCarley
North Texas Art Therapy Association
8340 Meadow Road
Suite 136
Dallas, Texas 75231

And more from Joan Phillips of Oklahoma:

After communicating with art therapists in Louisiana that are working with the local arts councils Joan Phillips made up this "art kit" list of contents, for kids to have in shelters and temporary housing.

The "kits" she and her students will be making will be in the form of a 9-12 manila envelope that contains some art and expressive supplies. There should be enough there to let a child or teen have some chance to have a creative experience. They will be labeling the kits for preschool, K-6th and teen. EVERY kit needs to have a blank journal type book in it and
some writing and drawing implements (markers, crayons, pencils) as well as some collage pictures and a glue stick. Also there are modeling materials like Wikki Sticks or other "model magic" that comes in small containers. For older kids things to string beads on, or embroidery floss to braid for bracelets etc. They just have to be age appropriate and fit in the
envelope. Our target groups are: preschool, school aged (meaning K-6th grade) girls or boys, and teen girls or boys. Here is a more detailed supply list:

Recycled or unused donated supplies are fine if you have friends or family that want to help. OR just cut out pictures from magazines- colorful, preferably kind of happy or non-toxic

type images that kids might like and bring those pictures. also things
like string, yarn, beads, feathers, glue sticks, etc.
items to bring- choose from this list- not necessary to bring EVERYTHING
listed here- just what you personally can gather or purchase:
colorful paper
markers, large and small, variety of colors or sets
colored pencil sets
glue sticks
cut out images from magazines
yarn, string, beads
wikki stix
model magic
child safe scissors
hole punchers to help us as we make the journals
regular typing paper to use as pages in journals
stickers or other decorative things to glue on or use in kits
popsicle sticks for building and creating
baggies for packaging small items
9-12 manila envelopes
quotes or poems printed out in readable block letters- these can be
inserted into kits for use in their journals or just as support and
encouragement.
no religious ones as we must honor that we don't know the beliefs of those
that will recieve the kits

Do an internet for and print out things for kids to do. See sites like crayola.com or others. Coloring is an okay activity in the face of trauma- it is soothing and doesn't take a lot of thinking. That's fine for these
kits.

Joan and her students are going to make blank journals during class with colorful papers and decorations, to include in the kits.

These sound like wonderful kits! Lets make some and send them out!

Additionally, Joan has this to say:
I think we have enough stuff here- the students donate the supplies as their contribution as do art therapists and other friends here. I think the folks in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas have the direct access to using them with folks so should be first priority However we will have small efforts going in terms of a weekly support group for families at the Red Cross, and some work with families here, and could also get supplies to one encampment in Eastern Oklahoma that has 1400 evacuees housed in an old army camp- Camp Gruber. Supplies (general art supplies) can be sent to me at Art Therapy Center, 123 E. Tonhawa, Suite 108, Norman, OK 73069 Thanks so much. But mostly to those three states- we are pretty good about generating our supplies and donations locally.... joan p.s. Art Therapy Center is not a non-profit organization- the donation could be recorded at to the ATAO (Art Therapy Association of Okla.) if someone needs to document the charitable contribution.

Monday, September 05, 2005

More on NOLA




I had some luck today in finding art therapists working in shelters or working with the evacuees, folks who have been through what seems unbearable to me.

Linda McCarley from the Dallas area, says 30,000 evacuees have been relocated to the Dallas area. She says they can use general art supplies.

Send them to:
Linda McCarley
North Texas Art Therapy Association
8340 Meadow Road
Suite 136
Dallas, Texas 75231

Joan Phillips from Norman, OK says that Oklahoma will be absorbing about 12,000 evacuees into two large camps.
Her undergraduate students in an Intro to Art Therapy course will be creating art therapy packages including journaling and art supplies.

Susan Anand in Jackson Mississippi will be working with comforting, familiar materials, creating quilts, dolls, puppets, and story books as well as more traditional paintings, drawings, and sculpture. If you have any extra quilting material or Crayola Model Magic for puppet-making you can mail it to:

Attention: Susan Anand
Art Therapy Program - Hurricane Katrina

If items are shipped by UPS or Federal Express use the address:
Lutheran-Episcopal Disaster Response of Mississippi
Ascension Lutheran Church
6481 Old Canton Road
Jackson, MS 39236-2402

Supplies sent by the US Postal Service must be mailed to:
Lutheran-Episcopal Disaster Response of Mississippi
Ascension Lutheran Church
PO Box 12246
Jackson, MS 39236

Meanwhile I created a little zine for Susan and anyone else wanting to create simple dolls, bears, or little story books. You can find it here. It's a pdf file called Bear, Doll, & Story Book.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

NOLA's eyes


I looked and looked at this photo from http://www.nola.com/

I wondered what I could do at a very personal level, besides giving to the red cross, of course. Something more human-to-human is wanted here, when I look at this child's eyes. Living so far away from art therapists who are rolling up their sleeves and helping in the shelters in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, I think what if they had wish lists of art supplies and such, and what if those of us who are not near by had our own lists of materials that we could share, well, if the two lists could find each other, I think that would be about the best thing.

For example, I look at this child's image and I think about all of the little kids who no longer have anything, including dolls & teddy bears. What if an art therapist I knew were working with these kids, and I could send them easy to make doll and puppet patterns and materials. And they could help kids and parents to make their own transitional objects. Well I think that would be about the best thing that could happen.

I'm sure there are a lot of us that would be more than happy to help with wish lists especially when it's at a person to person level, so I'm doing some research. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A show in NYC

Here's a show I wish I could see in New York.

My friend, Kevin Maxwell, has been hard at work.

Casa Frela Gallery is proud to present the Subway Series by Kevin H. Maxwell.

Reception at 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM Saturday, September 10, 2005.

Casa Frela is an impressive, renovated Stanford White Brownstone in the Mount Morris Historic District in Harlem, a welcome addition to the growing Uptown art scene! Casa Frela's chief goal is to present a forum for talented artists denied access to the much politicized art establishment.


Casa Frela Gallery is located at 47 West 119 Street, New York, New York 10026, between Fifth and Lenox Ave.

website: www.casafrela.com

and to preview Kevin Maxwell's show:


Link

Relief from Banevolent Planet

Listening to the mayor of New Orleans, imagining all of the other mayors of all the towns hit by Katrina, feeling the sorrow, I look for relief.

I find it in the Banevolent Planet web site.

Link


It is filled with wise and generous ideas, like:

• Pool efforts with family and friends, or community, school or faith groups, to make disaster aid kits for Operation Blessing. Find instructions here.

• Give blood. When Red Cross teams are deployed to disaster areas, especially for extended periods, blood drives often take a back seat -- until the supply is critically low. Keep the help flowing by donating before it's a crisis.

• Volunteer time with your local Red Cross, animal rescue or other responding organization to free up staffers to go to the Gulf Coast or to replace those who are already deployed.

• Write a letter to your local newspaper calling for community participation via donations or a fundraising event.

• As soon as mail delivery is restored, send cards or notes of support -- and include notes and drawings from children -- to refugees staying at the Houston Astrodome: Astrodome, 8400 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX 77054.

• Contact your congressional representatives and let them know if you prefer your tax dollars to go toward the hurricane relief and recovery effort instead of a tax cut or war escalation. You can find other federal expenditures that you would like to redirect to relief efforts at Citizens Against Government Waste (click on 2005 Congressional Pig Book).

• Do your online shopping at BuyforCharity.com and designate relief organizations AmeriCares or Noah's Wish as your recipient charity; up to 26% of your purchases will go to your chosen organization, at no additional cost to you. Similarly, you can shop at GreaterGood.com to direct funds to America's Second Harvest.

• Check with churches, temples or mosques in your area to see if they are collecting goods or need help sorting. Also check with your area Lions Club.

• Identify people in your community who are trying to reach missing loved ones and do a kindness for them.

• Ask your community leaders to organize a candlelight vigil.

• Commit to conserving gasoline, at least for awhile. Share rides, consolidate errands, use public transportation, ride a bike, walk.