A Plate at the Table: There’s Enough Food for All

The poster for the documentary A Place At The Table. Let us be united

Let us speak in harmony;

Let our minds apprehend alike.

Common be our prayer;

Common be the end of our assembly;

Common be our resolution;

Common be our deliberations.

Alike be our feelings;

Unified be our hearts;

Common be our intentions;

Perfect be our unity.



What’s “inspiring” about the film A Place at the Table–a documentary about poverty and hunger, a film calling us to action in regards to a lack of nutrition for one in four kids in the USA?

I saw it last weekfeaturing actor Jeff Bridges, Ph.Ds, social workers, and ordinary people struggling to feed their children–or attend school without feeling hungry.

This film shows that “being hungry” doesn’t always look like the protruding bellies we’ve seen on television, children from sub-Sahara Africa or Bangladesh. There is hunger nearby, and it’s often kept hidden because people feel ashamed. Hunger in the USA often occurs at the end of the month, and obesity often results from poor nutrition.

Not only is it upsetting to know people go hungry in our wealthy country, but when kids don’t get enough nutritious food at a young age, their cognitive abilities are damaged. Continue reading “A Plate at the Table: There’s Enough Food for All”

Citizen Scientist: Ann Kastberg Counting Frogs

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”

Emily Dickinson


annkastbergAnn Kastberg is another person living into the wonder. She’s one of those born-agains, but not in the way you might think: After a career as an accountant and years raising kids, she chose a new husband, and then she chose frogs. Russ is a great guy. As for the frogs, few people get more excited about these thin-skinned critters than does Ann.

With waders strapped high, she points to a slimy egg-mass, “Another one! It’s a Red-legged!” she hollers, and someone on the crew will squiggle a line to the tally of record.

When I met Ann years ago I wondered what drove her. I wondered how someone gets so dedicated, becomes an amateur-expert engrossed in the lives of frogs and salamanders–learning about the lifecycle of amphibians and tallying egg-mass-sightings for the use of scientists–as if earning her own Ph.D.

She says she has always loved frogs and tadpoles. As a kid with a backyard swamp in Portland, Continue reading “Citizen Scientist: Ann Kastberg Counting Frogs”

Yuta’s Visit & Daffodils Smile

“We just can’t know what we don’t know”

Words of the journalist


Since I’m not quite done with the frogging-story I’d promised to share this week, I’ll tell you about our time with Yuta. His  stay with us reminds me of my own years of roaming and the people who allowed me into their homes when I didn’t know much about being a guest or hanging out in other cultures.

I made my first trip to live in Glasgow for a year when I was the same age as Yuta, 20. The Chinese grad-student who sat next to me on the flight from Vancouver, British Columbia to London was kind: She let me ramble. She answered questions. She never turned away or made me feel like the lost-kid I was.

The stuff I said and thought back then should be embarrassing, and I used to grit my teeth at the memories. Continue reading “Yuta’s Visit & Daffodils Smile”

As Long As It Takes — a poem

“They always say that time changes things,

but you actually have to change them yourself.”

— Andy Warhol

As Long As It Takes

Frogs 2 not listening
Coming next blog: Meet a passionate frogger–but not the sort who spears anything:  Dedicated to leading Amphibian Surveys, Ann Kastberg’s enthusiasm gets people out and into the wonder.

As long as it takes
As long as voices need to speak
As long as people feel unheard
As long as someone’s history
lies buried under other’s dreams
As long as someone in the room keeps moving
won’t pause or open eyes
to see us waiting
As long as some in the room stand in charge
make demands
without listening to raised hands
As long as Russia wants and wants
and the USA, too, and soil
blows into dust
and muscles in the young man’s arm
fail to move Continue reading “As Long As It Takes — a poem”

Donna Roy: Following a Thread


The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

William Stafford


Donna's return-visit to Korea, in front of Palace
Donna’s return-visit to Korea, in front of Palace

Though Donna Roy grew up Catholic on a farm in Maine, from a young age she felt there must be more than a single way to view life.

“People do it differently all over the world,” she thought. “‘All those babies in China are not going to go to hell just because they haven’t been baptized,’ I can remember thinking–and I would cry at night sometimes.”

This gentle, inclusive view has informed Donna’s work in Korea and Bangladesh with locals, from coast to coast in the United States supporting newly-arrived refugees, and now as a therapist and teacher in Portland, Oregon.

At age 10, Donna heard John F. Kennedy’s famous speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?”

“That’s when I decided to someday join the Peace Corp.” That’s also when she began to dream of becoming a doctor, traveling the world and helping people. Continue reading “Donna Roy: Following a Thread”