Thursday, April 30, 2009

BCC fund raiser in Calgary on Sunday May 24

Jan and Keith will be back in Calgary for Bolivia - Canada Clean Water Network's first official fund-raiser. The BCC Clean Water Fiesta will be held on Sunday, May 24th at La Pachanga Latino Restaurant (918-12th Avenue SW) in Calgary.

Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. Funds raised will support the work of local partner organizations in implementing affordable and lasting water and sanitation projects in rural communities of Bolivia. For more information on BCC's projects, please visit

Keith had the wonderful experience of visiting Trevor, Janaki and their crew - Roberto, Angel, Philippe and Bertalina - in Bolivia at the beginning of their project back in May 2007. Since that time, BCC has constructed and installed household water filters for more than 300 families.

If you wish to purchase your tickets online, please use the donate button on our How to Help Page to pay $41.50 and send us a quick note letting us know that you wish to purchase tickets to the event on the screen that appears after you have entered your payment information. BCC will send you the tickets electronically.

The link is here : .

Please come out and support this wonderful project - and the recipient of the 2008 YMCA Calgary Peace medal award.

Hope to see you all in Calgary on May 24!

PS. The photo shows Trevor, Roberto, Philippe and Angel pouring concrete into the mold to prepare the filter casing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Building Peace in Independence

What a difference a plane makes! Earlier this month, it took two full days of driving across endless prairie, punctuated by several mountain passes. Today it took about 12 hours - 4 hours by car, boat and bus to get to the Vancouver airport and the rest in two flight segments. Vancouver to Denver followed by Denver to Kansas City. Of course, this time includes several hours waiting around in airports.

Nevertheless, I am safely back in Independence. Tomorrow I will start an intensive 2 day course on inter-personal peace building. Otherwise known as conflict resolution.

Sounds like a tall order. Most days I am in need of intra-personal peace building!

And then there is our family...........

Whatever I learn in the course, I should have plenty of chances to practice once I get back home!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tour at OUR ecovillage - KJ's 1st weekend!

There is lots to write about my visit to Koinonia - but today there was a very interesting parallel experience in our own backyard. Kailee started her internship at OUR (One United Resource) ecovillage on Wednesday. Coincidentally our British friends, Mike and Fiona - who are near the end of a 7 month tour of the US - and who we first met at Koinonia last December - were able to attend a tour of the ecovillage today. This made for quite a large number of parallels. Just last Saturday, I was helping with the Koinonia garden team. Today, Jan was helping with the OUR garden and I got a tour of the green houses. Separated by more than 3000 km, one being in the SE USA and the other in SW Canada, one founded as a radical Christian experiment in racial and economic equality and the other founded to demonstrate that people live in harmony with the earth, yet both communities share a great deal in common.

Most obviously, permaculture is forming the backbone for both. While the climate is very different, the farming techniques are amazingly similar. Community issues - all revolving around people - are central to both. There are incredible similarities in the type of people and general atmosphere.

I need to write much more detail about both places. There is a lot to share.

But tomorrow there is a work party at the ecovillage. Need to get some sleep, Jan is making something for pot-luck, and Kailee is making lists of all the things she needs to take for next week at the eco-village. Details will have to wait.

PS. the photo is the eco-village healing sanctuary. This is where KJ is staying until it is warm enough to pitch her tent. It also happens to be one of the most energy efficient buildings in all of Canada - and the world.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Home at last!

Well, it was quite an adventure. Fourteen days, almost 10,000 km round trip, 1 Lakota pow-wow in South Dakota, 2 wonderful days in Independence Missouri, 3 stations of the cross with Bhuddist monks and Hispanic immigrants on a pilgrimage walk in Atlanta, 4 incredibly intense days (some only part days) at Koinonia and an incredible 3 day return trip through 12 states pulling a 38 foot trailer. Dropped the trailer at a dealer in Langley yesterday morning, picked up some Koinonia-connected friends in Vancouver who will be staying at our place caught the 1:00 ferry and was back home by 4:00. From Wednesday April 1 to Wednesday April 15. Back in time to celebrate Kailee's 18th birthday at OUR ecovillage.

It is good to be home.

The trailer is in Canada for warranty repairs and hopefully a fast consignment sale.

There is lots to write about - from the incredible blossoming of perma-culture farming at Koinonia to economic devastation in the SE USA. It will take some time to think, process and then write.

For now, it is just good to be home.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Koinonia -

It has been a long drive!

Last night I was invited to stay in Atlanta and today I participated in a pilgrimage walk in support of immigrant rights. It was a wonderful opportunity and a powerful statement about the worth of persons - regardless of their nationality. The march was centered on the stations of the cross and it was very fitting to consider the fate of the oppressed and marginalized on this Holy week.

I left Atlanta about 12:30 and arrived at Koinonia about 3:30. It has been a really emotional time reconnecting with old friends and reliving powerful memories. Tomorrow should be an interesting day.

Monday, April 6, 2009

On Temple Mount - in Missouri

Almost exactly 19 years ago today I stood on Temple Mount in the old city of Jerusalem. It was my first visit to the Holy Land and I was struck by how the most sacred sites of the Western monotheistic religions were all crowded into such a small space. Islam's Dome of the Rock literally sits on the ruins of Herod's temple. Judaism's Western Wall, where all prayers pass through on their way to G-d, seems to be part of the foundation for the Mosque above. Then there is the Christian Quarter with it's Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian sectors. Newer faiths struggle to be close to this most Holy ground. For example, Mormonism is represented by the BYU Jerusalem center which sits on the Mount of Olives and overlooks the Old City from across the valley. It is as close as they could get. All the more sacred real-estate was already taken.

Today I felt that same experience - in Missouri.

On April 6th 1830 a group of about 30 young men and women gathered together in a cabin in Fayette, New York to organize the Church of Christ. This is the official start of the Latter Day Saint movement, so today marks the 179th anniversary of the church. In July 1831, Joseph Smith Jr. traveled to Missouri and felt inspired to write the following:

"Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse. Wherefore, it is wisdom that the land should be purchased by the saints, and also every tract lying westward,"

Soon after these words were recorded, every effort was made to acquire land to build the temple and the city of Zion. Unfortunately, the other citizens of the area were not inclined to accept these new Northern neighbors and the "Saints" (who not entirely blameless themselves) were forced to leave. While that original temple was never built, the 63 acres of land that had been purchased by the early church in Independence has taken on a monumental importance to most followers of the Restoration movement.

Today the original 63 acres are owned by three of the Restoration churches. The Community of Christ owns the largest portion - which totals about 40 acres. Church headquarters, a 1994 temple which is "dedicated to the pursuit of Peace", and the Auditorium- where President Harry Truman signed the UN charter on behalf of the United States in 1945 - are located on this site. The LDS church owns about 20 acres which contain a meeting house and a visitor center. The most highly coveted 2 acre plot - which is claimed to be the site originally dedicated for the temple - is owned by the Church of Christ (Temple Lot). Every square inch of the original 63 acre plot is highly prized by the respective churches, and more recent offshoots of the movement (there are now over 500 churches who claim Joseph Smith Jr. as their founder) are crowded as close to this site as possible. Across the road you have the Remnant church, down the hill are the Cutlerites, Restoration branches are about a block away and so on.

So it seems to be with Faith movements. The same pattern of geography exists between the three Western monotheistic faiths in Jerusalem. Even among the various Churches in the Christian quarter.

Why does it happen? I think it's something like this. In a lonely and barren spiritual environment, God breaks through to someone's consciousness. That person's life is immediately changed and they share their new insights with others. This new consciousness grows and persists among the followers for a period of time - at least until all the original group have passed on. Over years, it becomes increasingly difficult to bring others to that same changed consciousness that occurred in the early group and followers begin to construct an institutional organization to preserve the newly discovered "truths". Unfortunately, the followers can't agree on which "truths" are most worthy of preservation and the organization begins to fracture along line of human understanding.

This pattern has happened within Bhuddism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It has also happened to Mormonism - and in this case, it all occurred in the past 180 years.

Unfortunately much is lost through these divisions. In the Restoration movement, the Community of Christ retains the mysticism of the early Seekers movement but lacks the organizational skills of the Utah Church. Church of Christ (Temple Lot) exemplify faithfulness to a sacred trust - and so on.

Today was April 6th - Conference time for restoration churches. Over these past few days parking lots were full from Temple Lot to Salt Lake City - Bountiful BC and beyond.

Perhaps we are not as far apart as we sometimes think.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Interesting Pow-wow in Vermillion today. Still not sure what to think about a Lakota pow-wow grand entrance led by people dressed in combat uniforms and carrying the American flag. I don't think that people carrying that same flag (with a few less stars perhaps) and dressed in blue coats would have been very popular at a Lakota pow-wow 100 years ago. I have to think a lot more about the whole pow-wow experience before I can even decide what I think about it.

Overall though, it was good to visit with my friends in Vermillion. Lots of good drumming and dancing too.

A snow storm was forecast for South Dakota today. It covered the Western side of the state by this morning and prevented several pow-wow participants from coming to the event. Fortunately the storm avoided Vermillion until the 5:00 dinner break. Then as if on cue, the wind changed from East to North, temperatures dropped about 10 degrees and it started to seriously snow.

I decided it would be a good idea to continue my trip in a Southerly direction!

It's about 6 hours from Vermillion to Independence Missouri. For most of the drive I kept crossing weather fronts with major temperature changes and storms. Fortunately, while there was lots of lightning and rain, the temperatures stayed above freezing and the weather finally cleared at the Missouri border.

Independence is a suburb of Kansas City and lies at the far mid-West corner of the state. When I was a kid, many of the old-timers at church would talk about how we would all go to Missouri some day. Maybe would even have to go by hand-cart. This vivid image made a strong impression on me - and up to this day, Independence Missouri has a special place in my heart. It's good to be here, and I'm glad I had the luxury of driving. At least this time.

Community of Christ prophet/president Steven Veazey is giving a major address to the church tomorrow that will be broadcast on the internet from the Independence Temple. Looks like I can attend.

If you would like to check it out - it's at 6 PM MDT. The link is

If the camera pans by, I'll be sure to wave.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Vermillion South Dakota

Long drive through South Dakota today. Started North of Rapid City and then drove through the Black Hills. Weather was pretty good all day, but there was a constant threat of snow on the forecasts. Arrived in Sioux Falls around 5 PM to meet my Lakota friends, Billy and Jerome. Jerome teaches Lakota language and Indian studies courses at the university in Vermillion, SD. Both Billy and Jerome are from the Pine Ridge reservation.

Tomorrow there will be a big pow-wow in Vermillion. Jerome, his nephews and grandsons will be singing and drumming for much of the day. I was privileged to sit in on the rehearsal and this took priority over the sweat lodge for this weekend. Hopefully the next time I come through South Dakota!

Montana is one BIG state!

It's not Ontario, but Montana does seem to go on forever!

Left Spokane this morning. Hit the first blizzard going through Northern Idaho near Coeur d'Ilene. Second snowstorm was the mountain pass going into Butte and the third was in the mountains coming into Billings. Amazingly, the weather was good going through the mountains in the Powder River basin. It was pretty late at night though.

Couldn't decide what time to stop for the day and decided to press on past the turn off at the Little Big Horn battlefield. Who would have imagined how long and empty that stretch of road is between the interstate and South Dakota? Finally had to stop about 1 hour West of Rapid City.

Started in Washington, clipped Idaho, covered Montana and a corner of Wyoming. Tomorrow will be South Dakota - staying overnight with Lakota friends in Vermilion.

PS. Just learned from Google Maps that the GPS took me on a rather scenic back-road to get to Belle Fourche SD. Could have stayed on the interstate and gone through Sheridan as I originally thought. Google says it is farther, but ends up being 20 mins faster if you stay on the interstate.

Must check that GPS!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Road trip to Georgia

OK - this is a bit out of step with the rest of the blog stuff, but I'm now on a solo road trip to Georgia to recover our trailer. While trailer dealers are folding in the Southern US and trailer sales have collapsed in Alberta, it seems like the West Coast dealers are doing record business. A dealer in Langley has offered to do the warranty repairs and sell the trailer for us.

So - I'm off to Koinonia to get the trailer. Hope to keep the blog updated on the way.

If all goes well, I will stop in South Dakota to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony with Lakota friends and attend a pow-wow on Saturday. Sunday I'll be in Independence Missouri to hear Community of Christ President Steve Veazey address the church. Monday or Tuesday I hope to be at Koinonia to visit friends, see the progress on the permaculture side of their farm - and get the trailer.

So far, all isn't going well. I was late for the ferry, hit a major traffic jam in Seattle, experienced a blizzard in the Cascade mountains and another snow storm before I got to Spokane Washington. In between the snow storms, I drove through endless miles of flat desert with sage brush vegetation and a few volcanic outcrops. Never expected that kind of scenery in Washington.

Anyways, must get going if I'm going to make Rapid City tonight.

Forecast is for more snow!