Monday, 19 July 2010

if it's monday...there must be a quote

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.  
The second best time is now. 

-John Wood

In reading this fantastic (and FREE!) downloadable e-book:  What Matters Now, edited by my new guru (well, cyber-guru, I haven't actually met him) Seth Godin, I found this quote.  Its truth is irrefutable.  A twenty year-old tree will give you a lovely shade over your house, but if you didn't plant it, it won't.  Iif you continue to not plant it, you could wake up twenty years from now, still wishing you had a bit of shade.

And let's be clear:  we ain't just talking trees, here.

What I love most about this crazy time of the world, the insanity of changing and shifting economies, of the new frugality, of the funny fear that we won't have the continued panacea of purchasing to inoculate us from living, is the response I'm seeing daily in people.

Over and over, I realize that I know amazing people.  Smart people, people with vision, people who won't lose their senses of humour just because times are bad, and people who are reaching out further than ever both to help and to receive help in helping.

Two examples:

Maura and Chad.  Wanted to have a baby the regular way.  Tried having a baby the medically enhanced way.  Ended up choosing adoption.  When suddenly they were given thirty days notice for their dream of having a baby girl to adopt, they were elated, panicked and financially short.  Medical procedures are expensive.  Adoption costs.  Here's their dream calling - to have their own baby, and, simultaneously to give a child a better life than she might be able to get with her birth parents - and they have 30 days to come up with the equivalent of her first year's college tuition.

What did they do?

They decided to send out their needs into the community.  They are doing their own version of micro-finance, asking for a $10 donation from anyone who feels they can.

Maura and Chad  are regular folks with regular jobs, and artists on their own time.   The standard 9-month birthing process has been truncated here into one month of frantic baby prep.

Yet, through inviting their community to participate in the process by donating, they are also building the community they will need as parents and as a family.  They are including us in on their process - however rushed - and though we don't have pictures of the sonogram peeking at us from a Facebook page, we are creating a net for this baby, due to their  openness and their commitment to become parents.

The baby's room with mural by Chad DiPrince

Julie is a single mother.  Julie has raised her daughter by herself, somehow also keeping a creative career going.  Not only that, but she's taken to going to Guatemala to help other mothers and children.  Through a group called Safe Passage, Julie and her daughter will go help women living in very poor conditions. Along with other great women, they will build bridges in these communities and inculcate a spirit of service in the young girls coming from the U.S. as volunteers.

In order to fund the trips and the good works they do, Julie has asked for micro-donations from her community.  Like Maura and Chad, an example of not only generosity, but of letting us receive the gift of practising generosity in assistance of her goals.  Everybody wins.

Don't wait another twenty years --  plant a tree right here right now.

Donate if you can.

Julie's trip with Safe Passage - The link takes you to PayPal.  Email donation to julie.titus(at)

Seeing people reach out to their deepest passions and embracing community on a larger scale at a time when there is a feeling of so much uncertainty is inspiring.  I appreciate being mentored by the actions, openness, invention, and heart expressed in these journeys.  Activism can be so much simpler and more direct than we allow ourselves to believe.  It can be a daily practise of a basic commitment to humanity - yours and others - and the persistent belief in that humanity.  

If you plant a seed where you can't see it, does the tree still grow?

With a little luck, light and water, yes it does.  Someone, twenty years from now, may silently and anonymously thank you for the shade.

(Credits -- thanks to Kevin Molloy for the cyber-introduction to Seth Godin!)

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