An opportunity to change the community conversation

Recent news has rocked our world. We don’t know where it is headed. We don’t know how it will affect our future. We don’t know when it will end. We simply know that this is not normal. Yet, even right now, I see at least one clear possibility for channeling this into positive energy. Yes, this crisis is an opportunity. Right now we have an opportunity to change the public conversation, we have a rare opportunity to come together in our communities in a unified voice, to show our true human strengths, and seize this a unique opportunity for progressive change toward our shared goals.

My business focuses on sustainable business redevelopment in a rural community at the New Jersey bayshore. This field is typically divisive and partisan. I have regrettably become notorious as a divisive force for progressive change over several decades. I’ve made plenty of conservative enemies. My community activism even triggered death threats that snowballed into an attempted political assassination fourteen years ago. Recovery from those injuries cost me many years in recovery. The risks of political fighting within the community are all too real for me. My family and I certainly have good cause to fear politics and activism.

Yet despite this bitter experience, six years after the attack we were forced to learn an entirely new lesson. Superstorm Sandy wiped out my home and business in late 2012. In that time of community crisis, we all set down our weapons and come together for our own survival. Partisan bickering disappeared. We worked side by side to pull ourselves out of the mud and gradually rebuild out community. Our community of Money Island eventually rebuilt from within with virtually no support from government, even in the face of obvious FEMA fraud and maligned government forces working against us.

Over the past few days, I see signs that we will repeat many of the same social patterns. Even our normally impotent in Washington DC proved this weekend that people can come together for the common good. Rahm Emanuel is credited for saying “You never let a serious crisis go to waste”. The line gained notoriety. But over time we have learned that the ‘crisis management approach’ to community action has proven to be the most effective method we have available to unify our diverse communities. Those who can see this opportunity hold the keys to moving our communities forward. I urge each person reading this to recognize the opportunity, to take a lead role, and be a positive force in leadership through the crisis.

Someday this crisis will be over. But we have good reason to believe that positive measures adapted in an emergency become part of the mainstream of our lives going forward afterwards. Namaste.

Refuze Bees Wing

“I was nineteen when I came to town
They called in the Summer of Love
They were burningbabies, burning flags
The Hawks against the DovesI took a job in the STeamie
Down on Cauldrum Street
I fell in love with a laundry girl
Was working next to meShe was a rare thing
Fine as a beeswing
So fine a breath of wind might blow her away
She was a lost child
She was running wild, she said
As long as there’s no price on love, I’ll stay
And you wouldn’t want me any other wayBrown hair zig-zag round her face
And a look of half-surprise
Like a fox caught in the headlights
There was an animal in her eyesShe said, young man, O can’t you see
I’m not the factory kind
If you don’t take me out of here
I’ll surely lose my miindShe was a rare thing
Fine as a beeswing
So fine a breath of wind might blow her away
She was a lost child
She was running wild, she said
As long as there’s no price on love, I’ll stay
And you wouldn’t want me any other wayWe busked around the market towns
And picked fruit down in Kent
And we could tinker lamps and pots
And knives wherever we wentAnd I said that we might settle down
Get a few acres dug
Fire burning in the hearth
And babies on the rugShe said O man, you foolish man
It surely sounds like hell
You might be lord of half the world
You’ll not own me as wellShe was a rare thing
Fine as a beeswing
So fine a breath of wind might blow her away
She was a lost child
She was running wild, she said
As long as there’s no price on love, I’ll stay
And you wouldn’t want me any other wayWe was camping down the Gower one time
The work was pretty good
She thought we shouldn’t wait for frost
And I thought maybe we shouldWe were drinking more in those days
And tempers reached a pitch
Like a fool I let her run
With the rambling itchLast I hear she’s sleeping out
Back on Derby beat
White Horse in her hip pocket
And a wolfhound at her feetAnd they say she even marriend once
A man named Romany Brown
But even a Gypsy caravan
Was too much settliing downAnd they say her flower is faded now
Hard weather and hard booze
But maybe that’s just the price you pay
For the chains you refuseShe was a rare thing
Fine as a beeswing
And I missher more than ever words could say
If I could just taste
All of her wildness now
If I could hold her in my arms today
Then I wouldn’t want her any other way”

  • Richard Thompson performed this at Philadelphia Folk Festival. I don’t remember what year.