Red Egg Jewelry

Red Egg prayer beads and jewelry

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Red Egg is a center for art that deepens our connection with wisdom traditions around the world. Read more


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On the road – Atlanta

So we’re off. Our journey has begun. And this time it’s not just a preliminary jaunt to British Columbia.

“Has it sunk in?” I asked Debi on the plane.

“No. Not really. How about with you?”

“A little bit. I imagine we’ll only realize it in fits and starts.”

The final weeks at home were such a whirlwind of activity that we’re still carrying some of that whirlwind as a personal weather around our heads. And how do you say goodbye to so many people you love? The night before our flight –- that is, the night before last -- a few friends stopped by to say goodbye and share a beer or glass of wine.

In the morning we couldn’t find Ana Maria anywhere. Her room was already locked up from the outside. She told us today by phone that she deliberately left her room early because she couldn’t bear to say goodbye. She watched us leave secretly instead – from a window across the street, as she cried.

There was sweetness and irony in saying goodbye to Nate and Caitlin at the airport. This time it was they who stayed and waved and waved until we rounded the last corner and passed out of sight. This time it was the parents who left a mess behind that their children would have to figure out what to do with.

“It’s like you guys are going off to college this time,” Caitlin said.

We’re in our friends’ Allison and David’s loft in Atlanta, not far from Ebenezer Baptist Church and the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We’re listening to Bill Evans as I type.

Tomorrow we drive to Gee’s Bend, Alabama, to stay with Mary Ann Pettway and to visit with her and other Gee’s Bend quilters.


“Disaster capitalism”

(For today, a voice quite different than what’s come before.)

You don't have to plot a disaster (although sometimes that comes in handy, too). You just have to be prepared to exploit it. When the moment comes of that glazed, traumatized look in the victim's eyes, your focus isn't on how to provide some compassionate relief – but rather what you see is the exact moment for pushing through your whole agenda.

At the heart of the problem is the fiction/idol of a "free market." My God, how successful that brainwashing has been. I can't think of one more successfully virulent. I suspect most people "believe" in it without even asking themselves what they're believing in. They think it's just another law of nature.

And since it's a law of nature -- not arrangements worked out by hardscrabble boys on a playground, not humanly composed at all -- there is no ethical dimension to it. And since it's not humanly composed, entities within it, like corporations, are just bounding billiard balls following laws of nature. And the one central law is profit, or greed. This isn't a humanly decided value; it's not something composed and inculcated into an institution -- and thus no one is responsible. Of course, your company profits (as much as possible) from a disaster. This isn't anyone's personal decision. It's a law of nature.

Step 1 is to assume that a company has no moral responsibility towards the commonwealth within which it is embedded and dependent.

Step 2 is to assume that the government doesn't either. That in fact it twins the corpocracy.

"Disaster capitalism" becomes more than piecemeal corporate greed when the government becomes its unifying focal engine. That is, when instead of protecting the commonwealth, it makes the most penetrating assaults upon the commonwealth itself, opening the body so that the smaller predators can have more intimate access to the flesh, organs, and marrow.


In the whirlwind – San José

Ok. So the whirlwind’s finally hit.

I keep telling Chris, “You know, we’re leaving in two weeks…”

Maybe this confuses you. You might be thinking, “Hey, wait a minute. I thought you guys had already left.” (Or like our friend Dave likes to say, “How can we miss you if you won’t go away?”)

I know.

But our three week trip to the Pacific Northwest was preliminary to our final cut-this-damn-boat-from-its-moorings departure. And we’re back in the Bay Area with a million things to tie up and get in order before we leave.

We’ve moved Ali up to Eugene for her sophomore year at the University of Oregon. Caitlin is slowly – I mean, slowly – moving into her own apartment in downtown San José. Our car got hit. We’re getting some immunizations tomorrow. Visas on Wednesday. We’re packing and storing stuff. We’re renting our house to our son Nate and two friends (“Really?” you innocently ask.) We thought we had finally gotten rid of our two damn cats (the girls are taking them). But now Nate’s bringing two new ones back.

I’m reading The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau. He explains how different a vacation is from a pilgrimage. In a vacation, you know where you’re going, more or less where you’re going to stay, and when -- and to what -- you’re going to return. If you’re lucky, you have a few side-adventures along the way.

In a pilgrimage, all hell breaks loose.

And just before you’re about to leave – right on the threshold of your adventure – the dragon suddenly rises up. Every possible obstacle appears. All the reasons why it would make more sense – just for now, mind you – to hover a little nearer home. Your mettle is tested. Or rather, your intention is.

But I’ve managed to finagle a year off work. So I’ll be damned if I’m stopping now.

And so I keep telling Chris, “Hey, do you even get it? We’re leaving in two weeks.” And “Yes, we ARE going to Cape Dorset”!

He nods serenely from his writing desk. (It’s either that, or he has a full-blown panic attack). But maybe (I’m crossing my fingers now), just maybe, it’s finally beginning to sink in.


Maiwa – Vancouver

I hate to shop. I really hate to shop. In fact, I’m not even sure what the verb “shop” really means. But whatever it means, Debi is a master at it. This is just one of the ways we contradict – erh, I meant to say, complement – each other.

But here I am thumbing through these fabrics – luxuriating, really. I’ve just bought a shirt best worn by a camel-driver coming into a caravansary just ahead of a sandstorm. A nomad just whispered sagely in my ear, “Brother, pray to God and tie your camel to that post.”

And I found this place. Not Debi. Me. I wandered in here while avoiding shopping.

It’s Maiwa Handprints. And I started to get it as soon as I wandered through the door. Here and there amid the textiles, I find a book subtly perched. Each book describes a traditional weaving culture from around the world. And each cloth I pick up is handwoven, naturally dyed, beautiful. My hands understand everything at once.

Debi arrives. She understands even more quickly than I.

I pick up a brochure from the counter. “Craft is the language of a culture,” it reads.

This is our last day in Vancouver. Maiwa Handprints has established Maiwa Foundation as a non-profit organization dedicated to “eradicating poverty in rural villages by promoting the economic self-sufficiency of the artisans living in such villages.”

Charllotte Kwon, the founder of Maiwa, is leaving the next day for an exhibition on the Sunshine Coast. No matter. We ask if we could talk with her, and suddenly she appears and whisks us upstairs into offices that are more like the textile archives for someone wanting to research the resilience of artisanal weaving around the world.

She takes out handcrafted textiles almost too beautiful to bear. I’m scribbling madly. It takes me awhile to realize we’re learning a business model here. Charllotte spends six months of every year in India. Maiwa holds workshops every year, and symposia every other year, bringing artisans from rural villages who learn how to present their own work, teach a class, and give an exhibit.

A recent Maiwa symposium brought together weavers from a rural village in India and quiltmakers from Gee’s Bend in Alabama. The women couldn’t understand the others’ spoken language. That was no impediment. They understood the weaving. A Hindu woman took a quilt from a Gee’s Bend quilter’s hands and began working on it herself. The Gee’s Bend quilter took up the Indian weaving in turn herself. It went on and on that way.

“The whole point of Maiwa,” Charllotte says, “is to help people fall in love with the other.”

Visit Maiwa's website.