PeerSpirit Newsletter – The Owl and the Tree
December 2019


Dear Friends of PeerSpirit,

With this end-of-the-year tale, Ann and Christina offer some stories of heart and inspiration, of neighbors and neighborliness, of kindness and good will. Perfect for when the news seems overwhelming and grim. They remind us of the small acts of kindness and mercy that surround us every day.

Determined Goodness

by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea

The days are shortening here in the north. Rain and snow are sometimes illuminated by slanted bits of afternoon sunshine that shoot horizontally in that gap between the overcast heavens and the reaching points of the mountain ridge. Sunshine comes and goes. Mostly in our bioregion it goes.

We are comforted by the winter rhythms of filling the bird feeders and the wood crib. The last of the golden birch leaves cling to their trees in defiance of the gathering winter winds. Regardless of the hemisphere you live in or visit, what Nature delights you? Everywhere the Earth lives on, even as its systems wobble and shift. Let us pause and mark gratitude even in this time of profound change.

In many countries around the globe, autumn is a time of harvest festivals, giving thanks for the bounty of the summer’s work, for the food that is set aside for winter nourishment, and prayers for making it through the colder months. Thanksgiving in the US has conflicting stories of origins and overtones of intrusion and disaster for the native peoples but pausing to offer gratitude for harvest is fairly universal. “All is safely gathered in, ‘ere the winter storms begin…”

What we gather in is our friendships, our families, our sense of connection to one another. It is time to renew our ties with those around us at home and work. Neighbors. Co-workers. Friends. Folks we love and who love us; folks we can help and who can help us, folks with whom we can share little pockets of good news.

Ordinary folks are still taking care of one another. This IS the best news in our world. It rarely makes the headlines, but it is what keeps the world functioning.

So many stories of good news come into our consciousness every day.

Here is an international piece of good news.

Two young men who grew up on the Florida coast swimming, diving, fishing, and surfing went to Bali for the surfing trip of a lifetime after graduating from college. What they discovered were beaches littered with plastic. They came home and founded 4Ocean.

From their website: “Alex and Andrew decided to hire boat captains and other local workers to clean the ocean and coastlines full time. In order to make the biggest impact on this global problem, they launched their efforts in places like Bali where a lot of plastic and other garbage regularly accumulates.

Ann wearing 4Ocean bracelet

Inspired by successful lifestyle brands that were able to build passionate followings, they decided to implement a business model that would allow them to grow quickly so they could pay workers, fund cleanups, and spread the word about the ocean’s plastic crisis.

So, they created the 4ocean bracelet and pledged to pull a pound of trash from the ocean for each one purchased, using the profits to scale cleanup operations, make donations to ocean-related nonprofits, and build an organizational infrastructure to support future growth.”Since 2017 they have collected 7,192,443 pounds of ocean plastic. Ann and her 14-year-old grandson, Jaden, wear their bracelets daily and now one of Jaden’s friends is wearing one. Check out the website. It’s an easy thing to do in the great challenge of our plastic crises.

The community level of good people helping others

Many, many communities have volunteer organizations that raise money to help neighbors with everything from meals to medical help to school scholarships. One of many in our community is called Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund:

People who need help paying medical bills, purchasing medication, renting medical equipment, etc. need only call the organization for a phone conversation. There is an annual limit of payment for medically-related expenses, but the requests are handled via phone call and a minimum of paper work.

Pay it Forward

The Hurricane Coffee Company in Sequim, WA has a rotating wire stand with clothespins and 3 x 5 cards right by the register. It is a visible reminder of the Pay It Forward philosophy. The cards say things like: “For an elementary teacher, a free specialty coffee.” “For someone who just suffered the loss of a loved one, spend this $10 on yourself.” “For someone who just got diagnosed with something severe, have a coffee on me.”

A week ago, Ann was standing in line at our local grocery store. When she got to the register with her 10 items and pulled out her wallet, the clerk said, “The person in front of you has already paid for your groceries.” Looking around, Ann saw a gray-haired woman she did not know heading towards the front door. She was deeply touched and, of course, it changed the rest of her day.

Whether the place of business has an organized coffee card system or the customer in front of you has a generous streak, ordinary people love having ways to extend a helping hand. You, too, could be one of those generous patrons that helps to make the world round again.

Ask for What You Need

Recently neighbors fell upon hard times – a major illness, a lost job, the inability to pay their mortgage. The woman bravely launched a Go Fund Me for her family. Within a week they had over 60 donations of varying amounts and posted this update:

“We want to thank everyone who donated, prayed, purchased our groceries, sent us words of encouragement and suggestions of organizations who could possibly help with expenses. We are so thankful, blessed and humbled by your outpouring of love and support for us and our family. We were able, with your help, to catch up on our mortgage, pay off some bills and start to sleep through the night without anxiety or fear that we may lose our home. Your kindness has brought us to tears numerous times and even though at times we’ve felt like the world was against us, we’ve now also realized how many people are supporting us and holding us together. We will never forget your kindness and generosity. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!”

In the words of our neighbor . . . “even though at times we’ve felt the world was against us, we’ve now also realized how many people are supporting us.”

These acts of kindness, neighborliness, and helpfulness happen every single day – millions and millions of them around the world. In our eyes, these are the newsworthy events that form the lattice work that holds the world. What stories do you have from your own life? Write and let us know. Let’s help keep the world rotating . . . rather than focus on how it might be wobbling.