Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Blog

For all of you still out there in blog land-

switch up your blogrolls...

see you there!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Coming in 2009- new blog, new focus...

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I can’t sleep, yet all my body wants to do is rest.
My mind runs wild, yet my vision is blurred when I read.
I love to travel, yet am so glad to be home.
My hopes are limitless, yet my concentration needs grounding.

It has been a whirlwind of adventure & excitement with 26 days of travel to Washington DC, Los Angeles, Eugene, and Seattle since my last post 5 weeks ago. Got to see some great friends along the way, and hang with some pretty amazing people (including some pretty amazing middle and high school students).

Erin has been in Guatemala for two weeks now in the city of Xela and is leaving today for another week of living on a fair trade coffee plantation. She has been hanging with our friends Ruth and Christina from Santa Monica and has been working hard on her Espanol. Please welcome her back to the blogosphere by checking out her new & improved site here! I miss her terribly and am excited for our reunion in Portland next Monday. Side note: she has left me notes all over the house (cabinets, pillowcase, etc…today I found a note in a shoe- haha).

Life has been full of excitement on this end- our good friends Cole & Amy Billings have just moved into our house while they figure out what’s next. I am looking forward to communal living for who knows how long- I’ll keep you posted on the Werner/Billings co-housing experiment. Side note: Cole’s parents are staying with us right now too (full house of fun)!

August should bring about some pretty exciting moments with visits anticipated from my folks, Erin’s mom & sister, and Garret & Aubrey Shelsta. Looking forward to some end of summer camping ( I have never really been), the resurgence of a gym membership, biking more consistently to work, an Underground Art & Music Festival with Rise Up, and whatever else comes our way!

Hope this finds you all well, rested, and enjoying summer. As we move into Fall- let’s revisit the Bloggers Summit idea…would be great to kick it with all of you.

And finally, is it true? Has Banksy’s identity been compromised? What do you think?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tired In DC

Welp, I made it to Washington DC after a long day of travel yesterday that included a 3 hour drive to POrtland, run to my connector flight in SLC, screaming kids in front of me both flights (same family- what are the odds), and multiple Gin & Tonics...

I'll be out here staying with my friend Chris Perry from Az- CP when you read this...stop...and go get a blog! Today I'll be meeting up with a friend who just got back from two years in the Peace Corps in Peru (we grew up together as next door neighbors in New York since we were born), trying to catch my Oregon Senators on the Hill to advocate overturning a bill on torture, and trying to catch some cool places along the way.

DC Playlist: Wale- 100 Miles & Running Mixtape, Coldplay- Viva La Vida, Santogold- Self titled, Lil Wayne- Tha Carter III, Estelle- Shine, and N.E.R.D.- Seeing Sounds

Man, it has been too long....I feel like there is so much to blog about. Last week I started my new job with Rise Up- I'll be coordinating and developing both our volunteer and financial resources as to make us a more effective & sustainable organization as we seek to stop the exploitation of children.

My first day of work involved the President of the organization (Jesse) and I heading up to Portland for a vision retreat of sorts....capping the night with the Glow in the Dark Tour. If this tour has not hit your city yet...GO BUY TIX! It will change your life. All four performers (Kanye West, Rhianna, NERD, and Lupe Fiasco) killed it! Kanye's stage show was unlike any other I had seen...

I'll be in DC for a conference on grassroots organizing through Sojourners...starts Friday- should be fun..and I'll keep you all posted!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

For the BEND & PHOENIX heads..

RISE UP is hosting a few great events...

For the BEND folk this week:

For the PHOENIX folk all Summer long:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Barack in Bend

Hey everyone,

I am back on the Barack bandwagon.

Believe it or not- he came to Bend over the weekend. The last time a presidential nominee came to Bend was Bobby Kennedy over 40 years ago. This was my second time seeing him, the first being in Phoenix at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Three things stood out:

1... it was crazy to be no more than 100 feet from Obama (we were in a local high school gymnasium).

2... he took questions from the audience at the end. Speaking to us like we were adults- giving us long, hard answers as opposed to short rallying, sound bytes to please the crowd. This approach was very different from when Bill Clinton spoke at the local high school a few weeks back (which I went to as well)- he was slick with his sound byte-esque answers, seemingly speaking to us like we were children in need of coddling.

3... It was very different from Phoenix in January. Although the speech was similar, the whole morning with Obama seemed tired- I think everyone in the room including Barack felt as though it was ridiculous that the primary was not over.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

From Menos el Oso to Mexico City...

Last night was guys night- we drank left over beers & tequila from erin's surprise grad party in Erin's new Zen Garden (in our to come soon) was the perfect setting for conversation before we walked downtown to catch Portugal the Man and Minus the Bear. The evening reminded me of college...hanging with guys, drinking beer, going on a burrito run, and heading out to a concert...twas great!

On another college related note, I just found out that 77 year old Sue Johansen's late-night "talk sex" Oxygen network program has ended its run. I think the show used to come on at around 1am- my roommates and I would laugh hysterically every time...nothing like learning about sex from a grandma.

I am in the process right now of taking submissions for recommended Summer Reading. I have checked out the recommendations on Kelli's List, and am beginning to compile my own list. Please feel free to let me know what you think I should be far, I am planning on reading a few Vonnegut books (I need a late pass on this one), The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, and poetry from lend me your two cents.

And finally, a scholarship application came across my desk to go to Mexico City for the world AIDS conference. The scholarship is given by my church's denomination the ELCA (evangelical lutheran church in america). Here is the info:

If you are between the ages of 18 and 26 and interested in addressing the AIDS pandemic, then this is for you!

Attached is an application for a scholarship to attend the International AIDS Conference in Mexico from July 31 to August 9. The application is due May 23, so you'll need to act quickly if you'd like to apply. The program for this scholarship includes the pre-conference of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and a meeting with LWF youth. This and much more is explained in the attached application. If you have additional questions, you can contact Emily Davila at or 212-808-5360.

I have the application and will e-mail it to you if you are interested. I am considering applying myself...

Mucho love to you all on this Wednesday.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Recipe for a Sunday Afternoon...

It has been a crazy stressful week-

Sunday afternoon was much needed...

1 Part Celebration: Erin found out that she has been hired to teach Language Arts at Mountain View High School next year

1 Part great weather enabling deck reading

1 Part Gin & Tonic, 2 Parts Fat Tire for me
1 Part Margarita for Erin

1 Part Jim Wallis' The Great Awakening, 1 Part Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change for me
1 Part Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 for Erin

1 Part Minus the Bear's Menos El Oso, 1 Part Paul Simon's Graceland, 1 Part U2's War, and 1 Part Fugees' the Score

1 Pearl of Wisdom- changing the way the green conversation is framed... "environment crisis," becomes "overconsumption crisis." I think it makes it more personal.

Thanks again friends for the Obama & Wright felt very constructive, and enhanced my perspective for sure.

Have a great Week.

Friday, May 2, 2008

In a World of Sound Bytes...

In a world of sound bytes and limited time, below is a much more condensed response to everything Wright & Obama. To see my full response, read my post below this one. Cheers.

Truth is always going to be divisive- so it is, upon hindsight, understood that Barack had to distance himself from Wright politically.

I think I reacted strongly in light of my frustration with the failing church of today...a church I saw embodied this last weekend in Seattle (for more see below). Amidst my frustrations, I heard Wright speaking (in my opinion) truth to the shortcomings of our American society.

In light of this, I was angered by Obama's choice of words in his renunciation speech- "I didn't know the man," etc....sounded, in a Biblical sense a lot like Peter after the politically divisive Jesus was arrested.

Now I am not comparing Rev. Wright to Jesus, but...his message comes from the same prophetic tradition. Speaking truth to the powers, institutions, and privileged.

I think in these "accept or reject" times, I have just personally realized that I cannot endorse or campaign for any candidate. Rather, I can attempt to speak truth through my actions and campaign for the issues I am passionate about regardless of who gets elected.

Redefining Campaign (the Hopefully Wright Response)

First off, I want to tell you all how grateful I am for your friendship. Amidst difficult economic & social times, amidst sadness & anger at the policies of today, and amidst my own personal struggle to be an agent of change- I find myself thankful for a group of "digital" & "real-life" friends that will allow me to vent when at a loss for words, surround me when I am depressed, and spur me on to keep moving. For this I owe you all. Bear with me, as I set up the context for which I heard Jeremiah Wright speak.

This last weekend I was up in Seattle scouting out a week long service learning experience for my high school students- this will be the third trip that I have taken these students on. These trips are about 75% learning & 25% service...together we have tackled immigrant rights & myth in Los Angeles, HIV/AIDS in San Francisco, and now (I am still piecing it all together) Native American history, sustainability, and the growing disparity between the rich and poor in Seattle. It is my hope that students will see that as a matter of faith, we must not just be socially aware- but socially active...working for justice & peace as we seek to tread lightly on the Earth.

This last weekend was filled with many highs & lows- great conversations over alcoholic beverages, yet depressing church visits (we visit various churches in the city to see what kind of justice work they are doing). Most of these churches we visited had neglected their surroundings (from the urban poor to the university student), and became insular- serving members from their heyday in the 50's (folk now over 75). It was depressing to see these once thriving ministries (set in ginormous cathedrals) become isolated from the world- dwindling off into the sunset, refusing to listen to the cries of their neighbors. This just bummed out.

Upon our drive home, we recalled Jeremiah Wright's preaching from our drive up (from the NAACP night), and were thankful for his pastoral vision in the South Side of Chicago. Thankful, that he would not let his community become isolated from their neighbors. Thankful, that he would use his voice (and risk "pastoral standing") to speak to the margins, to speak against the powers that be, and make deeply "political" statements. We were thankful because this is who we know Jesus to be. This was a piece of what Christians, Jews, and Muslims call the prophetic tradition- a tradition that calls for justice from the margins, that speaks truth (despite opposition from the privileged of society), a tradition that is ancient, sorely missed, and yet much needed in today's world.

We all have frustrations about the leadership of George W. Bush- at some level or another, I have heard you all countdown the days 'til he leaves office. But, I ask this...are we just as frustrated with the American "fantasy?" The fantasy that, as columnist Paul Street (to see full article check out the comments section- thx Jesse for the forward) pointed out using Obama's own words..."America is the last best hope for the world." Obama, like any other politician that wants to get elected has sipped the syrup that is the American Dream. Many of you have pointed out that i shouldn't have had as high of hopes for Obama- that at the end of the day he is a politician. Yes, this is true- but Obama (unlike other politicians up until this point) has transcended the "either/or," "accept/reject," dualistic boxes that fuel the world of sound byte driven media. His "Race in America" speech was, for me the shining highlight of his campaign- when the media gave him boxes...he rose up and moved beyond them.

Here comes my frustration today (which was a whole lot more pissed on Monday), Obama did not transcend any boxes in his "renunciation speech." Rather, I think he just flat out lied. Making comments like "this is not the man I knew 20 years ago," "his comments contradict everything I am about and who I am," and finally "The fact that Reverend Wright would think that somehow it was appropriate to command the stage for three or four consecutive days in the midst of this major debate is something that not only makes me angry, but also saddens me." The truth is that Reverend Wright preaches like this every Sunday (my colleague Dave has seen him preach twice- and was the case there too), Obama definitely knew the man. Obama should know that this is the pastoral call- to speak, as Martin Luther King said, "as one trying desperately to be the conscience of all the political parties, rather than being a political candidate." By the way, MLK was also called a "spectacle," especially after speaking out against the Vietnam war.

If Rev. Wright's words contradict everything Obama is about- then where does that leave me? Before you all start to worry, I am probably still going to vote for Obama (but will not campaign for him whatsoever). After a few days of thought, multiple conversations, and the sonic infusion of the Roots' latest album "Rising Down," I think that I am going to follow the words of Wright (I will still be a Pastor on November 5th and January 21st)...the words of Dr. King that encourage people of faith to speak to the conscience of politicians, and begin to campaign.

Campaign not for a candidate, but for the greatest issues of our time. Campaign for an end to human trafficking, campaign for racial & religious reconciliation, campaign for immigrant rights (the sojourner/stranger in our land), campaign for children being killed by bombs all over the world, campaign for the end of arms trade (America arms 93% of all conflicts worldwide), campaign for downward mobility and the closing of the historic gap between rich and poor, and campaign for environmental stability- all of which are a direct response to my faith. The faith of the Hebrew prophets, Jesus, St. Francis, Martin Luther King, and Jeremiah Wright.

Thanks again friends for listening- know that I kind of wrote this as a "pep talk" for myself. To remind myself not to place hope in politics, institutions, or the top-down mentality.

Mucho hope from the bottom up...and peace be with you


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Barack is the New Brutus

Today I listened to Rev. Jeremiah Wright's address to the National Press in Washington DC in its entirety with my friend & colleague Dave (also a Reverend).

On Sunday, as I drove to Seattle (also with Dave) we listened to his speech to the NAACP in its entirety via CNN.

This morning, I listened to Barack Obama's response in its entirety.

My feelings have moved from depressed, to angry, to sad over the course of the last 12 hours. I want to make clear that as a vocational minister of a church, a student of theology, a Biblical studies major in college, and as an Obama supporter...that there was not one thing Rev. Jeremiah Wright said in either of those speeches that I disagreed with. Actually, his words represent the "different kind of Christianity" that I feel many of us "Christians" a part of this blogmmunity/vox de populi are a part of. On that note, I would be interested to hear your responses to Wright & Obama's words.

I cannot express how deeply disappointed I am in Barack Obama. I feel as though his denunciation of Wright is a political move- making him no different than any other candidate. Barack could have responded wonderfully as he did with his Race in America speech, instead he turned his back on the tradition that made him who he is.

Way to sellout Obama. I am now officially voting for the lesser of two bad choices. It remains to be seen which candidate I will vote for in the Oregon primary this month.

I would love to have some good dialogue about this- please comment, and look for many future posts about this. I understand that this is short, I hope to flesh out some more ideas once the conversation gets going. For now, I plan on walking around the block from my house where Obama just set up headquarters and expressing my disappointment.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just got my Tix...

I couldn't resist. June 3rd we come!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Food Justice ?!?

Hello blogmmunity!

I wanted to let you all know that over the last few months you have inspired me to take a deeper look into my relationship with food. For the first time I have extended my pursuit of justice to include environmental care, sustainable living, carbon reduction, slow food movement, farming, and other areas of "food-oriented justice."

In an attempt to hold myself accountable to this pursuit, I thought I would make some of my findings & struggles public via this blog. I know many of you have been involved in this pursuit for a long I hope you can lend some advice & encouragement as I seek to move ideology to praxis.

Here are a few of my hopeful ventures:

Erin and I have bought into a cooperative organic farming community. For $100 (pays for water & seed), we will join 10 other people (mostly from the Sparrow Bakery, including our good friends Cole & Amy) twice a week to work on an organic farm. Weeding, planting, tilling soil, and harvesting will be new to this "city boy," but the end result will be local, organic, farm to plate produce for the entire summer. Other perks include: a new trade (farmers look out!), new friends, and local produce (not dripping with the petroleum it took to get it into the supermarket- thanks to my friend Ivy for the imagery). I went to the farm for my first experience Sunday, and a crazy experience it to come soon.

On another food justice note, I am going to read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I attempted this once, but am going to try again. I know a few of you have read it already, but if anyone is up for a group read let me know!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

God & Country

I wrote this in response to the conversation on Kelli's blog after this post.

As a part of the Vox de Populi e-mail conversation community, many of you have already read this- but..I though I would post it here as a chronicle for my personal records.

The blur between God & country started at an early age for me when I quit the boy scouts. I didn’t get that learning how to tie knots & start a campfire were somehow supposed to help me do my duty to God and my country. The conversation moved again in Middle School when there was national debate about some children in public school abstaining from the recitation of the pledge of allegiance. And finally, once again when I was a freshmen in college and the twin towers were attacked.

While fired up, and more so sad about September 11th- it was our response that made it hard for me to pledge allegiance (not to mention I was beginning my collegiate journey of questioning everything I had been taught) to a flag, country, or worse...policy. Through a lot of reading and conversation (with mostly right & few left wing roommates), I came to the conclusion that our national borders were artificial. Made by wars, annexation, the false hope of manifest destiny, and loads of oppression (small pox gifts to the indigenous, African slave trade, etc)...I could not worship both God & country.

It was here in my journey that the material became unimportant, and that actions (played as a result of values) were what counted. I knew Christians who displayed the cross reverently, but were assholes to homosexuals...Christ followers who would not let their Bible touch the ground, but believed that war was the only way to solve the Muslim problem...children of God who got dressed up in their Sunday’s finest weekly out of respect for God, but though that global warming was a farce.

This deeply reinforced my belief that the material (or reverence for the material) didn’t matter, but that our actions (as a result of our values) showed our true character/allegiance.

For me, the same can be said about my country. There are Americans who deeply believe that the flag should never touch the ground, yet slew racial slurs at our immigrant brothers and sisters from Mexico...Good citizens who loud and proud sing the national anthem at every sporting event, yet pass tax cuts for the wealthiest percentage of the so-called privileged...Patriots who pledge allegiance to the flag, but have zero problem with calling the killing of Iraqi citizens “collateral damage” when at war.

After September 11th, just about every country was ready to support America in its time of mourning. What an opportunity to really make some headway for democracy & freedom (our supposed American values) by feeding the hungry, redistributing wealth, and cooperatively dealing with global disease (all of which terrorism is intrinsically linked to)...instead, in the name of God & country we resorted to the myths of redemptive violence as a means to an end.

Now there is no end in sight, other countries once ready to lend a helping hand are no longer behind us, and global poverty & disease are at an all-time high.

I propose that the material values of the “flag” and “book” are in desperate need of redemption thru creative and imaginative action.

Action steeped in hope, not flag...real freedom, not country... Creativity, not violence in the name of God...and imagination, not artificial borders.

Peace be with us...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

In Defense of Mr. West's Blog

Yes...I am a fan of Kanye West

Bought all three albums on day they came out: check
Seen him in concert: check
Really want to see his Glow in the Dark Tour w/ N.E.R.D. & Lupe Fiasco: check

And finally, added his blog to my blogroll links: check
He probably has the best "link-based" blog around...with new features on art, design, architecture, music (mostly indie), and such...updated a few times daily.

Check it out before you hate. The pics on this post were taken from two of his most recent posts.

If you are in Phoenix, See you all RISE UP style this weekend!