Month: January 2014

A Letter to a Pre-Missionary Googler

To the innocent wanderer who happened upon my blog after Googling “I want to go to Haiti to be a missionary”: I’m sorry. I hope that your original search did not provide any answers and you Google it again to be directed back to this post. I remember days of searching things like that on the internet myself only my search was for Mali, not Haiti, and I never used the M-Word for myself, but I would have probably been worried to death if my first search led me to some of the posts here on this blog. If you have been trying to discern your path in this world, probably even with lots of prayer and guidance from respected mentors of yours, and you finally felt this week like you received a calling to be a missionary in Haiti, and your next step in trying to make that possible led you here, then I’m sorry. Please disregard whatever you read and come back in a year or two to continue reading again. (Unless all that you read were the fashion rules, then please, print them out and read them every morning after waking up in this beautiful country.)

There's plenty of hope and brightness on the horizon in Haiti. Focus on that for now.

There’s plenty of hope and brightness on the horizon in Haiti. Focus on that for now.

I’ve said it before that my intention with this blog is certainly not to discourage those who are seeking for their own place in this crazy world of mission work. It takes time for everyone who chooses to embark on that path to find out the appropriate way for themselves to make it work. Too many people enter into it recklessly and with the wrong motivations for their seemingly good intentions, which is one of the many reasons why I write, to try to avoid the messes that those situations make. But for you, I feel an authenticity in your Google search term that suggests you’re already trudging through those tough decisions and have made the very noble choice to commit long term to a life here. If so, then many of the things that I write about you’ll learn yourself with time, but they are certainly not things that you need to be worrying about as you start out your journey. You deserve to start out this journey with a fresh optimism towards all that awaits you as you delve into service with the people of Haiti. Keep your heart in the right place, but keep asking your head the tough questions too so that you will grow along that journey. Down the road you may come to experience things that would make you read this blog with an understanding that will allow you to engage in discussions on such topics with passion and concrete reasoning. You may not ever come to agree with everything that is written on this blog. I hope that you don’t because differences of opinion will keep the conversation going and that’s what the future of foreign intervention needs to improve here, dialog. But whether you come to agree with some of what is said or whether you just are able to provide more real life examples contrary to the opinions expressed here, you’ll be able to contribute to that dialog. And in that case, I look forward to welcoming you into the circle that involves truly all types, and that’s when the conversation is the most effective tool at leading us into new levels of understanding each individually and as a community.

But that is not what you need now. You need an introduction to this country that allows you to develop your own sincere desire to follow through on a long-term relationship. Haiti needs you to believe in your potential to help it right now. Haiti does not need you reading a thousand reasons why helping here usually ends up causing more problems than solutions. If you start off on that foot in your experience in Haiti, then it will only make you seem like an arrogant bitter jerk to the Haitians that you need to like you in order to effectively collaborate with you and an obnoxious little punk to the expats who have already been here for years and will have to help you learn the ropes. You don’t want to be that newbie missionary, trust me. You want to be the newbie missionary with the humble attitude that makes all of the Haitians want to get to know you and willing to work with you as well as the open-mindedness that makes all of the other expats believe that you are ready to learn and adapt to whatever you encounter.

The truth is that you don’t want to come in thinking you have all of the answers, you want to come in asking the right questions. I know that the way I write on this blog sometimes come off as if I’m pompously spouting all of the answers from a place of perfect humanitarian sovereignty, but the truth is that I write about all of these things because I still have many questions about them myself and am searching for more ways to open up the dialog on the issues. Those who are looking at the issues from comparable levels of experience as I are able to see the uncertainty within the writing because it sometimes breeches territory that many are afraid to step into. We have to start making statements on these issues if we are ever to truly find the best way about them and the truth that’s underneath the questions. No one would have ever given a crap when Plato said the earth was round if someone else hadn’t first stated “The earth is clearly flat!” There would have been no dialog for Plato to enter into. I may be stating that the earth is flat with some of the things that I state on this blog, but the truth is that in the world of aid and mission too many people have just been watching the sun come up and go down each day thinking that it revolves around them without ever questioning what shape the earth beneath them is in the first place.

So, if you are just now starting to take steps to enter into this world of good-doing, then know that it is an exciting time to be a part of it because people are starting to ask more questions about the way we do things and the tides of how things are done are really starting to change. There is a movement of better practices being preached and more and more of the old methods are being ditched in favor of more dignified solutions. And we need new fresh thinkers to be a part of that movement. So welcome. But step in with an excitement for what is to come and don’t worry about being frustrated with what is past. Hopefully you won’t have to experience much of that old way, much of which I spend my time criticizing on this blog. Hopefully you will have the chance to be a part of something better. Much of that will, of course, depend on what else your Google search led you too. What other blogs did you read? What organizations will you contact to see if they are accepting new missionaries to Haiti? What individuals will you seek out for advice and direction as you make this decision? I pray that you are able to find an organization that will truly realize your value and be able to utilize your gifts to the greatest extent possible to guide you towards becoming a very effective missionary in this place. I pray that the links you click on show you the Haiti that waits for you, not to save it, not to love on it, not to solve its problems or show it who God is, but to share with it, live with it, and journey with it as you struggle alongside it to discover God in the sacred moments of everyday life with it.

And know that The Green Mango will still be here struggling, journeying, and living the whole time too. In the meantime, if you feel that your Googling was unsuccessful and are looking for more ideas, feel free to email me directly and I could provide you with some suggestions of organizations to contact as well as a couple to avoid. And then, when your experiences are ready for more dialog, come on back to the blog and read on. We’ll be waiting for you to join the discussion. Until then, good luck, God bless. Kenbe la.

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6 Myths about Water Filters in Haiti

I’ve been thinking a lot about the water problem in Haiti and specifically water filters, mostly because I’ve had several mission teamers ask me my opinion about them lately. And I wanted to address the issue here on my blog because Haiti’s water problem is something that I care about deeply and actually have some experience with here. I’ve researched multiple different approaches to addressing getting my community better water because if you ask anyone here what the number 1 problem in their community is, they will say “water”. In Living Media we did several projects addressing the issue and they continue to do so, including water filters. However, from my experience, I’ve come to have many opinions on this issue and I wanted to do so here by pointing out these 6 myths about water in Haiti. Before going into them, I do want to point out that these come from my very specific experience within my community. You could ask 10 different people from around the country their opinions on the water problem, and they would all give you different responses because that’s how diverse this problem is in this little land. That is exactly why I think anyone wanting to come to the country to work on helping with the problem needs to realize that it is so diverse and no solution is a one size fits all sort of silver bullet.

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1) Clean Drinking Water is the #1 problem in Haiti.
It is important for us to differentiate between water potability and water accessibility, because both are large problems in Haiti but both cannot be addressed in the same way. Water filters only address the potability issue which does affect many people in the country, but for the rest, accessibility is the much greater issue. And yet, water filters are the much more common form of intervention provided while people continue to ignore the larger picture of water access. Much of this attitude from outside helpers comes from the knowledge of the cholera epidemic that Haiti has struggled with, which is a very real problem, but anymore it is reckless to paint the whole country with the “cholera victim” brush and think that giving out filters is going to solve the problem. We need to be aware of the specific causes of the epidemic and the way that it spreads as well as the current status of the illness before intervening. Cholera comes from unclean drinking water, but for the people of my community and many others in today’s Haiti, it’s much more important that they can find water in the first place than it is that they have a filter for that water. Filters are no good if you don’t have any water to put in them.

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2) All water in Haiti is contaminated and unsafe to drink.
Once again, hearing about a problem that affects Haiti and then applying it to the entire population, is unfair to those individuals that we as foreigners hope to help when we arrive here. We need to do our research first, especially when it comes to water, because everyone in this country gets their water from different sources. Haiti 594Before we think of giving filters out in Haiti, or any other sort of water project, we first need to take the responsibility to do the research on our particular location of work to see whether or not the sources where they get their water locally are, indeed, unsafe or not. In many places the problem is not that their sources are unsafe, but that they are too few and far between. They are too inaccessible. In Mizak, for example, the population is around 20,000 people. For all of those 20,000 people, there are only 7 natural water sources and a handful of wells. Of the natural sources, at this exact time after months of no rain, only 3 of them haven’t dried up. Most of the wells that have been drilled are on school grounds or private property. The ones on school grounds can only be open when school’s not in session and the ones on private grounds are used as tools to exploit the population to make money off of their need for water by making them pay in order to use them. So for these 20,000 people who are all spread throughout a large physical area of the mountains, some more than an hour’s walk away from one of these available sources, which will probably be dry, or closed, or overrun with people when they get there, what are they supposed to do with the fancy filter that they just received from a bunch of foreigners? Probably use it for storage.

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3) A high tech filter is cost effective.
If the water that you can get from your local water source is already potable, then the 5 gallon bucket that the filter is attached to becomes more valuable then the filter itself. Some of these filters that I’ve seen teams bring in cost $60 or more but most of them get handed out to families who have never actually had major health problems from unclean drinking water so they just keep using the bucket as a vessel to carry and store the water from the source without ever filtering it. So if we’re able to find out that local sources, including wells, are already potable, then we really need to do the math before handing out expensive filters to see if that money wouldn’t have been better spent either drilling more wells or rehabilitating natural sources. In Mizak, this week alone, I know that over 140 filters have been handed out to families in the area by two different teams. Now, I do not know the exact type of filter that those teams handed out, but if they were costing $60 apiece, then that’s $8400 just on filters this week. In my community, a local water source can be rehabilitated for $4,000 – $6,000 and a well can be drilled for $6,000 to $8,000. And a bucket can be purchased for $2.50. Those estimates would vary depending on different locations in the country. Wells are cheaper to drill at lower elevations and nearer to population centers and the cost of rehabilitating a natural source depends largely on its proximity to a road. But the math suggests, that in almost any case, its worth at least considering using those funds on longer term sustainable efforts to bring greater access to water than just handing out filters. But again, this requires prior research on your specific area of involvement to determine which is more important.

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IMG_60574) Local technologies are not available to treat water.
When we decided to distribute water filters while I was working for Living Media we looked at a lot of different options but ended up going with a local option called Filter Pure which is made locally, a relatively simple technology that requires minimal maintenance, employs local Haitians to fabricate them, and has been proven just as effective as imported filters at removing contaminants from the water. It was also about $27 only for each filter. So, although it was still debatable about the real need for filters in our specific area, at least we were supporting a group that employed Haitians and were giving out as many buckets as possible for the money. And most of those filters still got used at least at first, because they were simple to use and still effective. They didn’t require any tricky maintenance with new tools. Even though most teams that bring in their foreign filters train the recipients on how to keep them in good condition, I know that the majority of them still never try to change the carbon, flush out the tubes, or any of the other kinds of things they’re supposed to do. They abandon the filter long before it ever needs upkeep. But if it is something made locally, with local materials and technologies, by a company full of people that speak their language that they can ask questions to if they have problems, then they trust it a lot more from the start.

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5) All Haitians need water filters.
If not for #2, this might have been true about 4 years ago before the cholera outbreak. But since then, there has been such a flood of filters into this country by different organizations that it’s hard to find a household that doesn’t have one, if not several, in their house already. This might not be true in some more remote areas that are less touched by NGO activity, but I know in my area it’s definitely true. One of the teams that I recently spoke to who was handing out filters remarked how many homes they noticed that already had filters in them from other groups. When we did our distribution with Living Media, we at least consulted with the other stable organization in the area that we knew had done filters to make sure not to double up on the list that they’d already given to, but that still didn’t account for all of the orgs that have swooped through with filters and given them out without consulting anyone else. Buckets are a valuable commodity here so whenever someone gets a chance to get their hand on one, they’ll take it, regardless of whether or not they already have 7 filters at home that they’ve never used. The family that I eat with here in Haiti has at least 3 filters themselves, none of which have ever been used for more than a week or two at a time. But none of us ever get sick when we don’t use the filters, so why would we waste our time with them?

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6) Wells are for Africa, filters are for Haiti.
Although I’ve never heard anyone say this outright, I get the unusual sense that a lot of mission agencies hold on to this strange idea. I’ve met plenty of groups here in Haiti who have told me about the wells that they’ve drilled in Africa before and now in Haiti are doing something completely different, not even considering wells as an option. It’s just part of their water resume. Haiti 1372Part of this comes from the faulty assumption that wells can’t be drilled in more mountainous areas and part of it still comes from the whole stereotypes derived from a defining cholera epidemic. And I’ll admit that I used to not be a well fan myself until I started living the benefits of two wells drilled nearby my home here in Haiti by UNICEF and Save the Children. I had bought into the myth of them being too expensive and too difficult to drill in the mountains until I came in contact with the local company that was responsible for drilling these two and heard the nuts and bolts of what it takes, realizing that they really are quite practical and efficient. They have even been tested for potability and, although it seems to vary slightly throughout the year, presumably from the level of water based on rainfall, they have been shown to be safe for drinking. I’ve been drinking the water and never had problems as well as enjoying the well’s accessibility for bathing and other uses when my cistern is dry. I, however, am fortunate that these two wells were both dug very nearby my house, cutting down the distance we’d have to go for water greatly. There are still thousands of people in our area who haven’t been as lucky and still are hours away from a source.

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Okay, so this has been a long post, but I want to wrap it up with a few suggestions for anyone thinking about providing water filters to a community in Haiti:

  • Do the research ahead of time to determine whether or not local sources are actually unsafe.
  • Do the math to see if for the cost of filters it wouldn’t be better to either rehabilitate a natural source or drill a well with a local drilling company.
  • If you do decide to give filters, please consider local companies and filters made with local methods and technologies.
  • If you give filters, survey the population first to determine who hasn’t received filters before and what type have been given.
  • No matter what, sit with community leaders to discuss long term sustainable solutions to their water problems in their community.

I know that this requires more work than just dropping off some filters and then patting ourselves on the back and going home. Sorry but we all know that the easy way isn’t always the best way. I do believe that it is important for groups to get involved with the water issue here in Haiti and want to encourage it through informed intervention. No matter what issue we are trying to address, generalized aid is always dangerous and often leads to wasted resources and disappointed communities. Let’s be committed to smarter involvement. Life really can be more beautiful with clean water and better access to water. But it can just as easily turn ugly with reckless charity. Let’s work towards the prior.

Baby Birds and Other Thoughts on Nonprofit Management

A couple weeks before my time as executive director expired I had to sit my local staff down and have a big kid talk with them. I say it this way not to diminish their intelligence but because change is scary and it can sometimes make us doubt our own capacity making us act more like children. And the moment that we had to directly address my eminent absence was one of those times for my staff. For the last four years I’ve been working with them to empower them as leaders and help them figure out how to run an organization like this themselves, and even for the last few months we’ve known this was coming and have been preparing together for the transition. However, when I pointed out to them that I only had one more meeting left with them, all of a sudden the reality hit and they started acting like their daddy was abandoning them.

“But there’s gotta be a reason you’re quitting.” One of them said, “what’s the problem? You hate us, don’t you?”

I looked right back at him and responded, “Yes, clearly I hate you. Now shut up and put on your big boy britches cuz that’s life.” Then I took a breath and had to explain to them very gently how when you give birth to a baby and watch it grow in this world, there always comes a time when you have to let it go and let it live on its own. You can’t hold its hand forever. Then there were some relieved nods from the staff. I even threw in the little birdie metaphor that they’ve got to be pushed out of the nest in order to fly. Although I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure if that was the right metaphor because there have certainly been days that I’ve been tempted to push them off of a cliff rather than out of the nest, but I guess you’ll always have that with coworkers, so I kept the mood positive.

But I’ve since been thinking that I didn’t really push them out of the nest either, I’ve flown away and left the nest in their hands to do with it what they want. But I guess that’s what I get for using little birdie metaphors, they’ll never be exactly right.

This system can only last so long.

This system can only last so long.

The point is I was trying to get them to understand that they don’t need me anymore. But that’s hard to do here because dependency is such a normal part of life but I have to be careful of what I say because Haitians never want to hear that they’re dependent. No one would want to, really. It’s not a compliment. I’ve broken up other groups in Haiti before for even suggesting the idea that they’re too dependent on people from the outside. There are people in this community who refuse to work with me anymore because I told them that they couldn’t depend on me for anything beyond any advice I could give and a general positive attitude. But that always strikes a nerve because the expectations have become that foreigners just give give give to help the poor Haitians whether or not that’s really what will help the Haitians in the long run. It feels good for the Giver and takes care of the Receiver’s temporary need, but for those like me who have made their life here, it is a constant struggle to try to encourage different systems of aid that don’t involve so much dependency. It seems to work in the moments, but causes more problems in the long run. But sometimes you have to be here for the long run in order to see that.

And if seven years counts as the long run, then I’ve seen those problems be created in a number of organizations, and they can actually be created very quickly. The gestation period for dependency isn’t that long. All it has to take is one promise or one gift or even one misinterpreted good hearted suggestion. But it can also happen unknowingly through weeks and months and years of working towards a completely different independent goal. This country is full of projects that have found themselves in that situation whether they realize it or not, staying alive only as long as the person in charge stays in charge and keeps things afloat by making more and more sacrifices each day. This only leads to burn out and bitterness on the one side and disappointment and a feeling of betrayal on the other.

This is why helping people can be such a dangerous business. I can’t say that I did it all completely right in my 4 years of being a nonprofit executive director. I certainly made plenty of mistakes that I learned from along the way. And even now only time will tell if I made the right choice to step down at this point, bit it’s really the only way to find out. So I’ve flown out of the nest, passed the torch, cut the umbilical cord, and pushed them off a cliff. I’ll still be watching to make sure they land on their feet. And when they do then at least they’ll be able to say they did it their own way. And maybe in the nonprofit business that’s how we should define success: that when the organization succeeds, as a leader you’ve done things in such a way that you don’t get any credit for it. Let the little birdies get the credit. Besides, we’ve all got other eggs to hatch and other nests to build.

4 Years of Words

We’ll, it’s that time of year again, when anyone with a Google news alert for “Haiti” starts receiving a flood of articles about “4 Years Later…” Sunday will mark the 4 year anniversary of the earthquake that has defined this country’s identity from the moment that it struck. And that means that all sorts of journalists and humanitarians will be throwing around their analyses of what has happened since. The progress that has been made and problems that have been born and lived will all be evaluated and discussed in an effort to show the world how disaster relief should, or more commonly, should not be done. It has happened for the last 3 years and will probably continue to happen every year until some other natural disaster comes along and wipes more than 300,000 people off this planet. Because that’s how we qualify a disaster, by how many people it kills.

And every time that this happens I feel like I’m back in grade school when the teacher would bring the naughty kid to the front of the classroom to make an example of him. “Okay kids, now did everyone see what Danny did there? Now we don’t want to be like Danny, do we, class?” And the entire class shakes their heads in fear while Danny hangs his head in shame. Then the teacher sends Danny back to his desk, now very aware of what he did but still very unaware of how to do differently in the future. Danny sits at his desk doubting himself and his potential to do good. And a week later when some other kid misbehaves they might get reprimanded but they can always say, “at least I’m not as bad as Danny.”

And so here sits Haiti just waiting to be made an example of once again by the loads of onlookers and researchers with the pure motives of wanting to do better next time. There will even be those who were personally touched or even present for the event that will take the opportunity to try to say something meaningful just because they know more people will be paying attention at this time. I know I, for one, will be posting something on Sunday. It’s like posting what you’re thankful for on Facebook for Thanksgiving; it just has to be done, as cliche as it may seem.

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Sure there’s still rubble in my front yard after 4 years, but behind and within there is growth and life that is what defines the present.

However, what I’m feeling at this moment leading up to Sunday is much like what I wrote in my book, The Grinder, that there have been enough words spouted at this situation already. And there will probably continue to be words spouted at it every year for the rest of our lives until the last survivor’s memory fades or Haiti surpasses all other countries in terms of development. Whichever comes first. For some people it’s their job to spout those words and we have an obligation to continue searching for ones that express ideas that are new somehow but eventually we have to honestly look at what those words are accomplishing.

On the day of the quake I was told that words broke my house and ever since then I’ve tried to be more conscious of what my own words are doing. Are they breaking or are they building? Are they enriching or are they depleting? Are they enlightening or are they adding confusion? Are they even necessary in the first place or are they just adding to the noise that surrounds us?

Unfortunately as I start to see these different articles pop up, although there’s truth in the reporting and sincerity in the stories, I struggle to find words that are capable of building, which is what this country needs now. Building up in its faith in itself. Building up in the resources it needs to move forward on its own. Building up in the strength to not be affected by what all of the outsiders say or write.

This post in itself is not those words but a call to other writers more talented than me to search for those words as we write our “4 Years Later” articles. It’s also a reminder to readers to look for the all of the real life being lived beyond all of the analyses of “what went wrong” “where’d all the money go” and “there are still tent cities”. Danny already knows he’s a failure and rest assured he’ll continue to make mistakes as he grows but let’s help him find a reason to believe that that’s not all that defines him. Let’s give his classmates a reason to forget about his screw ups too and have a reason to want to be his friend and walk alongside him through the good and the bad. Let’s make it a new day for Danny!

Stepping Down, Moving On

It’s January 7th and I feel like I should have something profound to say. If not profound, then at least kind of funny or relatively offensive. But I’ve been having trouble coming up with something. For a week now I’ve been having trouble coming up with the right words to describe the change that I made January 1st and the transition that I’m currently making my way through. I have already found the words to talk about it with my family and friends and I sent that email out weeks ago. I found the words to inform all of the donors and volunteers for Living Media International and I sent that letter out around Christmas time. But I still haven’t received the epiphany that I’ve been waiting for as to how to write about it here on the Green Mango. The Green Mango requires other words. Those other letters about it were all diplomatic and professional, although still completely true, not the complete truth. They were written for very specific audiences for very specific reasons. But here on the blog, I have very different reasons for writing and a larger audience, although there’s some overlap.

Yet I feel like I still need to address it here because ever since I started this blog, part of what has given me even a little credibility in addition to my past experience, on the issues that I write about, was the fact that I was the executive director of a fairly successful nonprofit organization that had figured out some creative ways to serve the people in our communities here in Haiti without being jerks. Every day working in that position I was learning things that I transmitted into many of the writings on this blog. A week ago, however, I stepped down from that position after having led the organization that I had founded for four years. I stepped down for a lot of reasons, some of which are very positive, those reasons that I shared in the previous letters to donors and family and friends. And then there are the other reasons, the ones which my roommates are probably tired of hearing me complain about and are looking forward to me being able to move on from. But I know that I don’t need to make a “List of 10 Reasons I Stepped Down” post because all those reasons will probably show up in one form or another in my upcoming blog posts. I’ve learned  a lot from the experience and there’s plenty that I want to say about it, but those things will continue to come out as I write on other topics.

So, for now, I guess I just wanted to let my readers know that I have stepped down, in case that changes the way you interpret what you read on here in any way. I say “step down” because I didn’t really quit. It was part of a collaborative decision with the staff and board of a new direction that we want to take the organization in. I’ll still be serving on the Board of Directors for Living Media International and supporting their work in various ways. I just won’t be the head hauncho anymore. And I’m really excited about that. Sure, I can’t deny that it was nice being the one in charge sometimes, but it came with a lot of pressure which I’m not going to miss. Also for work that was never supposed to be about me in the first place, sometimes its necessary to mix things up a bit to make sure that everyone understands what its truly about.

Moving forward, I’m not quite sure what my next steps will be but I’m taking some time for myself to figure that out. I know I have a problem, a sick addiction to this nonprofit stuff and the first step to recovery is always admitting your problem. The other night I was out at the club having a drink with my oldest roommate, Nicodem, when two of his friends came up to our table and talked for a while. They’re all three young, intelligent, men who are involved in their community and easy to get along with. As I sat there and chatted with them about different activities they had going on, in my head I was thinking “Man, these three guys would make great staff members for…” and then I had to stop myself before I even finished the thought. “No, Lee. Settle down. You don’t need to go dreaming about what other organizations you could start here and who could be involved. Just enjoy your beer and stop trying to create new social movements!” It’s actually a conversation I’ve had to have with myself in my head a hundred times in the last couple of months. Like I said, I have a sickness.

So like I said, I’m forcing myself, to take some time. During that time I will continue to write and work on my own art. It’s the first time since I moved to Haiti seven years ago that I will be officially unaffiliated with any group but will be able to focus more on my own work and just continue to be a positive presence in this community as I do. I’m sure that that lack of affiliation will affect the things I write and the art I create a little more. I have a few drafts, in fact, that I’ve been holding on to for this blog that I never wanted to publish for the sole reason that I didn’t want them to negatively impact the organization that I worked for. But they are still things that I think are important to discuss and now I may be freer to open up those discussions with people that are involved and interested in this type of work. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to read Jillian Kittrell’s posts this week about “Being a Crutch” over on her blog, Jillian’s Missionary Confessions. You know its a good blog post when the writer has to start off with a disclaimer saying, “Don’t hate my organization for the things that I’m about to say.” Although I can’t say its exactly what I’m feeling now, I certainly agree with much of what she says and some of the same reasons that she has for writing those entries contributed to my decisions to step down and move on, while still helping to find ways for the organization to stand on its own.

And also, if you get a chance, please head over to Living Media’s website and make a donation to them as well. Now that I’m not working for them, I can say that because I really believe it and not just because it’s my job. They’re still doing really good work in this community and need the support. Hell, without me they’ll probably even do better work. I’m excited to see what they’ll do and you should be too. But until then, I’ll still be here, writing, ripening, being. Thanks.