Last week I heard that 500 teachers were being let go in Cleveland. The heartache of the superintendent had me in tears. My beloved Waldorf-inspired Novato Charter School is dangerously in the red because of budget cuts for the first time in its 14 year history. My position as middle school art teacher was cut, at the same time that Arts & Ethics Academy was denied the continuation of its charter because of ugly backroom politics. I won’t be teaching art to those beautiful, young, at-risk high school students next year, either. Some of them will be attending high schools with 3000 students where the first thing waiting for them will be severe beatings if they don’t join a gang. My job loss is a small blip compared to the prospects of violence facing my students, and virtually nothing compared to the shrimpers and fisherman in Louisiana who may see their livelihoods changed forever. The European airline industry is in terrible risk because of the impact of the Icelandic volcano combined with the recession. Israel and Gaza are deadlocked into a deadly lose-lose relationship where the odds seem to be beating everyone into the ground, every day.
Surrounded by so much bad news, I always turn to Nature. An Irish poet on PBS last week said just the words I needed to hear. Looking upon the harsh coastal landscape of Ireland in the cold months, he said “What the barrenness of winter shows us is that bleakness is never as bleak as it looks. Deep down in the freezing stillness, there is new life waiting to be born. And we see it every spring.” My spring is growing a non-profit, which has laid dormant for nine years, Unity Through Creativity. It’s mission is to help make the world safer through the power of creativity and community, no matter what the odds. I and others have been doing the work of it, including the Singing Trees, and now people are coming forward and the organization is taking on a life of its own. Water self-organizes into clouds, rain, rivers, oceans and reforms again, when needed, into clouds. When the odds are beating us, we know it’s time to re-organize into new clouds, new forms, new life.