Hi Everyone! #91 — The Rift I’m Counting On


Seth Godin

Seth Godin

I’m reading Seth Godin’s “Small is the New Big: and 183 other riffs, rants, and remarkable business ideas” ( Because he is brilliant about how to create things in the real world that fundamentally depend on capturing the attention and imagination of groups of people. Which is what I’m doing.
Walt Disney: Problematic

Walt Disney: Problematic

I just read his riff / rant about rifts: Walt Disney found three rifts (significant changes in the rules of the game) — he found three rifts and made the most of them — Movies would change the way families got their entertainment, and he made Snow White (etc.); The automobile would change the way families travel, and he made Disneyland (etc.); Television would change everything, and he made The Mickey Mouse Club (etc.). Steve Jobs and Seth’s mom also recognized rifts and made the most of them.
Engaged Citizens

Engaged Citizens

That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m working feverishly to be prepared for this rift: a significant upsurge in citizen engagement and understanding.

A tipping point is coming. A critical mass of people will come to realize:

The people we elected to represent and protect us have sold us out – lied to us about climate change to the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars and it’s just beginning. And lied about so very many other things.

A critical mass of people will come to realize:

That major life destruction occurs through: Income inequality, Voter Suppression, Wall Street, Guns, Racism, Bad Treatment of Women, Loss of Net Neutrality, the Spread of Impoverishment to ever larger swaths of the population, and a host of other realities.

You can feel the beginnings of it, with #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, Occupy and Bernie. Candidates who are actually progressive actually winning elections.

We’ve spent a few generations being convinced we don’t need to ask or answer questions like this. That’s not going to last forever. It’s starting to unravel ever more quickly.

I’m sure this rift will happen. It will be one of the most significant rifts in history, the stakes are enormous, and the future is unwritten. I’m dedicated to being there and helping out.


(extra bonus material)

Seth Godin’s a marketer, so his main focus is increasing sales. But the principles are the same if the primary goal is not capitalist success. Which is not to say there’s not plenty of money to be made.

You know, and so it goes. What are we, actually, going to do with all our nuclear waste? Was it really okay to spray water on peaceful praying protesters in subzero weather? Just what is going on in Yemen and Niger and dozens of other nearly invisible destinations for our violence, or, for the matter, Afghanistan and Iraq? Can we really afford tax cuts for the already obscenely rich and skyrocketing money paid for “defense” but not education, health care, food, some arrangement so everyone can live indoors?

We’ve spent a few generations being convinced we don’t need to ask or answer questions like this. That’s not going to last forever.

While we’re at it, here’s another rift: an internet not under the control of enormous telecommunications companies. It’s not a huge technical hurdle — call it the mainstreaming of the dark net. Communication that doesn’t run through that one telephone closet in San Francisco or wherever it’s supposed to be, that’s not under the same 100% surveillance of *all* our other communications channels.

Cider Salon #10 – I Love the World and All the People in it (January 10th, 2018)


Very wide-ranging and insightful conversations. You had to be there, but. Here’s some highlights.

Documentary on first-hand experience of life in Palestine: “Seeing Through the Wall: Meeting Ourselves in Palestine and Israel.” IMDB says: “This film follows 18 Americans Jews to Israel and Palestine, as they seek to understand what life is like in the Occupied Territories and in East Jerusalem. The journey becomes an intense encounter not only with the people they meet, but also with their own preconceptions – an experience that for many of the travelers is transformative.” Check it out here:

So many lies of omission – The Palestinian situation is a deeply important one.

Directed by Anne Macksoud who also, by the way, directed “The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism & Community,” which we showed at Ossining Documentary and Discussion Series:

Steamboat House

Where We Stayed: The Steamboat House

Katrina. The whole family spent Christmas in New Orleans in the Lower Ninth Ward. The Lower Ninth ward was the hardest hit by the flood, and I found myself haunted by it. Things look pretty good, but knowing something about the experiences of the people in the neighborhood was intensely emotional. Watched most of Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke: A requiem in four acts” and “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise” when I got back. You can watch them here: (parts 1 & 2) (parts 3 & 4) and here:(Da Creek)

Did you know right after Katrina Iraq and Vietnam Veterans marched together from Mobile to New Orleans? They started with 70 and ended with 700. Some 20 vets stayed and live together in the Lower Ninth Ward.

We have to learn to talk to each other. Jonas Gahr Støre, the Foreign Minister of Norway, gave a TED talk called In Defense Of Dialogue. You can watch it here:

There’s so many things some people know the reality of, like serving in Iraq or Vietnam, that no one else understands. How can we those who want to help teach others? Trying to teach the real thing in an environment that doesn’t have the real thing is very hard. You can’t really know if you haven’t walked a mile – a sexually harassed woman, a transitioning transsexual, a veteran, so many others …

What’s it like to see the same event reported in different news outlets all over the world. What’s it like to see an event reported that you have personal knowledge of?

Some people have the experience of really wanting a real and caring community, and have found it in religious groups of various kinds in various places. Pentacostal. A person could go through being Catholic, Jewish, Wiccan, Presbyterian, and Mormon. People want that. Even if people disagreed with or hated each other, no one would consider not showing up if someone needed something.


Seeing Through the Wall

Seeing Through the Wall

Iraq, Vietnam

Iraq, Vietnam

When The Levees Broke

When The Levees Broke

If God is Willing

If God is Willing

Being There for Each Other

Being There for Each Other

Cider Salon #9 – Whither Peekskill (January 3rd, 2018)


The Cider Salon Cares About Peekskill

The Cider Salon Cares About Peekskill

Here’s a recap of the last Cider Salon. Our dynamic discussion kept us warm despite the Arctic Vortex!

We talked a lot about Peekskill, how things are now, and how we might imagine a Better Future. Every suggestion had at least one advocated, some had more.

Areas of concentration: The arts, building bridges between different cultures, and creating better circumstances for the young people of Peekskill.

We need sustainable programs – more, and better maintained, green areas; businesses pitch in to do more to maintain the city, maybe something along the adopt-a-block model; some kind of neighborhood watch, looking out for each other.

Destination Peekskill: If Peekskill is ever going to become more of a destination, we’re going to need to have a lot more retail shopping opportunities.

Small businesses: Peekskill would benefit from having a lot more small businesses – we should provide incentives and supports to get more of them.

Teaching, Mentoring – it would be good to teach art, to mentor, to give the young people of Peekskill a sense of broadening possibilities.

Progressive – It would be good for Peekskill to more welcoming, particularly toward LGBTQ, Millennials, Disabled.

The Arts – the arts can provide much more increase of well-being and engine of positive growth.

Here’s the next Cider Salon Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 at 6:30. McDonald & Peacock Cider House (38 N Division St, Peekskill, New York 10566)

Cider Salon #3 – Sources, Methods, and Musings (October 18th, 2017)


Maybe you'd like to watch a documentary about the Wrecking Crew ...

Maybe you’d like to watch a documentary about the Wrecking Crew …

You don’t know what will happen at a Cider Salon. Put interesting, engaged people together with other interesting, engaged people – there’s no way to know what will happen.

How was the third Salon? Very high percentage of musicians, including a jazz saxophonist was taught anthropology for years.

We talked Little House on the Planet, we talked the Wrecking Crew, we talked local politics. We talked leadership of the Peekskill Arts Alliance. We talked about communication across political divides and a new LHOP storyline.

The Wrecking Crew is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Denny Tedesco.

“Music lovers will be astonished at the influence The Wrecking Crew wielded over rock and pop music in the 1960s and early 1970s. These unsung instrumentalists were the de-facto backing band on hit records by The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Sonny & Cher, Elvis, The Monkees and many more. These dedicated musicians brought the flair and musicianship that made the American “West Coast Sound” a dominant cultural force around the world.”

Maybe you'd like to read "A Colony in a Nation"

Maybe you’d like to read “A Colony in a Nation”

Over the weekend I read a book we talked about at the Salon by “a journalist who talked to people in Ferguson other people wouldn’t have talked to.” A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes

“America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a postracial world, yet nearly every empirical measure–wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation–reveals that racial inequality has barely improved since 1968, when Richard Nixon became our first “law and order” president. With the clarity and originality that distinguished his prescient bestseller, Twilight of the Elites, Chris Hayes upends our national conversation on policing and democracy in a book of wide-ranging historical, social, and political analysis.”

Maybe you'd like to read In Search of the Primitive ...

Maybe you’d like to read In Search of the Primitive …

In Search of the Primitive by Stanley Diamond

“Anthropology is a kind of debate between human possibilities-a dialectical movement between the anthropologist as a modern man and the primitive peoples he studies. In Search of the Primitive is a tough-minded book containing chapters ranging from encounters in the field to essays on the nature of law, schizophrenia and civilization, and the evolution of the work of Claude Levi-Strauss.”

Maybe you'd like to read Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture ...

Maybe you’d like to read Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture …

Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture by Marvin Harris

“One of America’s leading anthropolgists offers solutions to the perplexing question of why people behave the way they do.
Why do Hindus worship cows? Why do Jews and Moslems refuse to eat pork? Why did so many people in post-medieval Europe believe in witches?”

Maybe you’d like to read Culture against Man … (notice how there’s USA in colored letters, right in the name of the book!)

Maybe you’d like to read Culture against Man … (notice how there’s USA in colored letters, right in the name of the book!)

Culture Against Man by Jules Henry

“Culture Against Man is a 1963 book-length ethnography by anthropologist Jules Henry of his native United States culture. The book is presented in three parts: American life and its institutions, discussion on child-rearing, and discussion on nursing homes.”

Hope To See You at the Screening of “13th” Thursday Night, July 20th


Don't Miss It!

Don’t Miss It!

I am very proud of Our Better Future’s work in recommending the film and recruiting the panel for this important event. (

It’s hard to comprehend: Our country has more people in prison than any other country on earth. China, repressive as it is, imprisons fewer even though they’ve got four times more people. Other countries with fewer people in prison: (well, all of them, which includes:) Russia, North Korea, Syria, Egypt. And it’s not because we’re a big country — we’ve also got the most people in prison as a percentage of our population. We don’t think of our country that way. Though, that’s a particular “we” — there are millions of people in this country who understand this perfectly well, and have for generations.

Why is this true? How did it happen?

Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13th” explains. After slavery was made illegal by the 13th Amendment, lots of people didn’t want to give up the advantages of having slaves work for them. So, slavery was made illegal except as “punishment for a crime.” That’s one of many ways it happens. Chances are good you’ve received goods or services created by American citizens who are slaves.

Come to our free screening and learn about America’s mass incarceration and slavery situation. After the film listen or participate in the panel discussion with: A pastor and activist who spent 9 years behind bars; an educator and author dedicated to young people of African descent including those currently in, or recently released from, prison; and the Director of the Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Rev. Dr. Darren Ferguson, Kahlil Koromantee, Shannon Wong

Rev. Dr. Darren Ferguson, Kahlil Koromantee, Shannon Wong

Hi Everyone! #90 — Go See The Book of Will

The First Folio

The First Folio

I spent a moving evening in the theater this week attending the opening night of Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s crowd-pleasing production of The Book of Will. ( You should, without delay, make plans attend a performance yourself. (I’ll tell you why it’s worth the price of admission soon. I’ll tell you now that, given the challenges of filling the theatre for an unfamiliar play, especially at the beginning of the run, HVSF is offering a two-for-one ticket deal – just type the code OPENTHEBOOK when ordering your tickets.)

The play is directed by Davis McCallum, one of the most valuable recent additions to the Hudson Valley as artistic director of HVSF, who’s done so much to open the Festival up to Hudson Valley communities. He’s also a stage director of rare power and taste. (You may remember my unabashed enthusiasm for his production of The Winter’s Tale.

The play, by America’s most produced living playwright, the talented and modest Lauren Gunderson, tells the true story of the production of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, a project conceived and accomplished against impossibly long odds by two actors from the Globe’s theater company and their fiercely supportive wives (and one captivatingly vital daughter). If their project had not succeeded, nearly all the plays would exist today only in wildly distorted and diminished form, if they were not lost entirely. Interest in the plays would probably be confined to the occasional graduate student.

Nearly all the characters are based on real-life historic personalities. Their labour of love is set against a vividly Shakespearean portrait of their times – a story of passionate intention, doubt, love, loss, that even includes a somewhat ambiguously villainous old man, a short and stirring turn by Richard Burbage, “the first great actor of English theatre,” and a larger-than-life Ben Jonson.

You might think such a play best suited for Shakespeare buffs and English majors, but it’d be a great night in the theatre even without Shakespeare. The characters are vivid and appealing, the story, even if you know the outcome, is exciting and suspenseful. It’s a story that reminds us that it’s possible for heroic perseverance to be anchored in a world permeated with loss and the passage of time.

The Book of Will

The Book of Will

It’s not a widely appreciated story, even among those who know about the First Folio. It’s one of those pivotal moments in history, where different choices by a small number of people would have made an enormous difference.

There’s something vertiginous in considering how close the collected works of Shakespeare came to being lost or severely compromised. How many lives would be different, how impoverished our language and understanding of the human condition? One can imagine the Potterville of a world in which Shakespeare had been lost.

I have a strong attraction to stories of heroic efforts to save irreplaceable cultural treasures. For Father’s Day this year I received a copy of The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer, in which a band of librarians pulls off a brazen heist to save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda. And I’ve always deeply felt the heroic efforts of young linguists traveling to remote corners of the world to preserve at least the outline of languages before the last native speakers succumb to old age.

And, as long as we’re talking, there’s the heroism of wildlife biologists doing everything they can to preserve the last surviving mating pair of a nearly extinct species.

Anyway, go up to Boscobel and see the play. And we took a picnic before and that was a really good experience.

Another Little House on the Planet (LHOP) Scene


  • [if you don’t know what LHOP is, or who “Nationwide” Ned and Lucille are, look at the end of the post – it’s all explained!]

Look at the DemEntors!

Look at the DemEntors!

A scene between “Nationwide” Ned and Lucille, Hostess with a heart of gold. He’s early for the weekly Solidarity Salon.

(Crowd sounds, band doing sound check)

Nationwide Ned: Lucille, Lucille, sucking on a lemon peel!

Lucille: Are you making fun?

NED: Of your poetess with a heart of gold schtick? Yes, yes I am.

Lucille: Want a hard cider?

NED: How hard? Yes.

LUCILLE: You look like you’ve been through it and back.

NED: I just got back from Voice of the People.

LUCILLE: I heard you were going.

NED: Well I did, and boy oh boy.

LUCILLE: Is there hope for the Republic?

NED: First of all, I kind of get Kansas City is non-elite and all, but climate change or whatever, it was miserable hot. Second, schism, schismatics played bass for Plasmatics.

LUCILLE: Did you all have a Kum Ba Won’t moment?

NED: What wasn’t? The Green Party hates the socialists, the DemExits hate the DemEnters, the Hillarybots and BernieBros will savage each other long after the Apocalypse, and everyone’s like your praxis ain’t nothin’ at all.

LUCILLE: That last was a little esoteric.

NED: Really, I’ve had it. I don’t even care anymore. Praxis Schmaxis, who’s fooling who?

LUCILLE: You’re depressed.

NED: Very astute. Though I got a pretty big laugh with “Hermoine, look out! Those aren’t DemExit’s! They’re DemEnters!” And were there any non-depressing developments here?

LUCILLE: Remember how we used to complain that we’d put up 75 flyers and be lucky to get three people at the Solidarity Salon? Well, last week we got 20.

NED: 20, wow. Now we can have a banner after all.

LUCILLE: Well, it’s a quality 20. And trending. Plus, I took your advice and booked the Resistance Quartet.

NED: Barbershop is the vanguard of the Revolution.

Gulf War Song - Moxy Früvous

Gulf War Song – Moxy Früvous

LUCILLE: And I got them to learn that song you wanted?

NED: The Gulf War Song? What a fricking heartbreaking song. But, you know, it’s such a Why We Fight anthem.

LUCILLE: Greg, can you guys do the song for Ned?

Greg: Check check. Yeah. Guys …

(Quartet sings the haunting Gulf War Song, which can be heard here (

# # #

What it’s all about: LHOP tells stories of characters working for transformation in a place slightly more amenable to change than Northern Westchester. It’s a radio serial podcast.

Many characters are based on real people already working here. All are created, written, and performed by a team, often including the model for the character.

And yes, you can play too. And yes, there are lots of different ways to participate. And yes, we’re going to have real advertisers and generate real revenue.

Every episode includes the “Chris in the Morning” radio show featuring a phone interview with an actual famous transformation worker (Michael Moore! Eve Ensler! Adam McKay!)

Learn more here ( and here (

“Nationwide” Ned is a grassroots organizer finding his way. One of his projects includes Reality 101 – at a regular time and place a couple people show up with a two-minute video, free coffee, and just the facts on Climate Change! Income Inequality! A program he’s already got up and running locally and is working to deploy – wait for it – nationwide. Lucille, the hostess with a heart of gold, a poet and therapist, runs a coffee shop that hosts a weekly Solidarity Café – a gathering of activists, with music, poetry – everything but a bongo, and sometimes there even is a bongo.

Hi Everyone! #89 — There Should Be Less Cheating …


Political Mentors

Political Mentors

My Mom gave me my early political education: It’s good to sing songs; Be skeptical of what they’re saying; Power doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

Here’s a couple Chad Mitchell Trio songs I learned at her knee. They’re catchy and fun and easy to remember even decades later. John Birch Society and What Did You Learn in School Today? (written by Pete Seeger and she would have been so glad to know I eventually sat and talked with him.)



I’ve spent a lifetime verifying and building on her lessons. I got a little older and realized there were Republicans. I thought of them as boosters, bank vice-presidents, Elks. It was good there were people involved who were dedicated to order, making things work, following the rules (yes, the letter and even the spirit). Who passionately believed in being even-handed and practical. Knowing that without that there will be chaos and people will suffer. Does anyone really want Janis Joplin running the Coast Guard?

But those were different Republicans. Republicans who would be ashamed to be caught cheating. Along the way they became Crusaders, battling for self-dealing and for a twisted theology dressed up like an ideology – since God is on our side, our Ends justify any devious Means our sneaky minds can come up with. Maybe it was Roger Ailes who got those balls rolling.

Noam Chomsky: The Republican Party Is the ‘Most Dangerous Organization in World History!’ Outlandish? Well, no. “The party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand.” Learn more here (

So, now it’s now. As I’m sure you’ve noticed. And all politics is local. Here’s what William Barber says about cheating:

Don’t you understand how afraid they are of our unity? Think about it:

    If, in order to win,

  • they had to lie almost every other ten minutes,
  • they had to find a way to put pornographic sums of money into the electoral pot,
  • they had to spend years pushing voter suppression,
  • they had to use fear against Muslims, against immigrants,
  • they had to be helped by the media that played too long with Trump,
  • and they had to go all the way over to Russia to get help …

We are not weak. Somebody fears our unity.

People only cheat you
when they can’t beat you

in a fair fight.

We’re stronger than we realize and it’s our time to stand up and be the moral dissenters, the moral defibrillators, and the moral dreamers and to make it through this moment and use it to change the course of history, to change America. And, if we work together, to change the world.

Chris reports real events for a fictional show …


Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

Our Better Future (here ( recently hosted the first annual “Celebrate MLK’s Beyond Vietnam & Gather Our Tribe” (here (, and has been producing the podcast Little House on the Planet (LHOP) (here ( since the beginning of the year.

LHOP tells stories of activated citizens in a lightly fictional Northern Westchester. Many of the good things depicted in the podcast can happen in real life – with some effort, ingenuity, luck, and a receptive population. I have faith that some ideas actually will.

Little House

Little House

Vanessa Agudelo reads MLK, photo: Alan Haywood

Vanessa Agudelo celebrates MLK. Photo: Alan Haywood

And sometimes good things in real life can be included in the LHOP universe, and the MLK event was a perfect example. Every episode of LHOP contains an excerpt from the Chris in the Morning internet radio show. One of the talented podcast performers could have reported on the event and interviewed the participants.

To enjoy all the Little House posts, visit here (

Our Better Future is dedicated to working with and supporting activated citizens in Northern Westchester. Learn more about OBF here Visit our Crowdfunding and Awareness Campaign, and consider donating (and earning some high-quality incentive rewards) here

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Beyond Vietnam speech

In 1967 MLK delivered a prophetic speech. I want you to help commemorate the 50th anniversary.

Moral principles should provide a foundation to the choice of what to actually do

Moral principles should provide a foundation to the choice of what to actually do

Our Better Future is organizing three events commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam – A Time To Break Silence” delivered in NYC exactly one year before his assassination. (Links to read and hear the speech can be found in the final section.) The National Council of Elders has encouraged people to create events commemorating the speech – gatherings of local people to hear the speech and spend time together. Our Better Future has taken up the challenge for Northern Westchester and is organizing three separate events for May 21st, 2017 – one in Peekskill, one in Katonah / Bedford, and one in Ossining.

Learn all the details here (

These events are just one manifestation of multiple OBF projects intended to find new ways to work together for transformation in Northern Westchester. You can learn more here here ( or here ( You can support OBF here (

Varieties of American Experience

Varieties of American Experience