Monday, November 29, 2004

'Tis the Season ... to slow down.

‘Tis the season to be jolly. And the season to be frantic, over-busy, on automatic pilot and, not surprisingly, often depressed. The rush to the next event, the lists of obligations, a pace of stressed out “getting things done” and all we miss in this hurry is….. our lives.

What about going against this cultural trance and considering now ( not after New Years) the alternative of devoting a day a week to slow and meaningful living for the whole family.

Just imagine: one day a week free of the car, fee of the television, free of the computer. Egad! What would that leave? A walk to and up the Overlook Trail. A bike ride to the Sonoma Garden Park. A walk over to the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. A conversation with the whole family. Old fashioned entertainment: musical instruments, cards, a tea party, a book discussion, a board game. Some time in the garden. A stroll to a neighbor’s house. Practicing some wintertime carols. Tossing a Frisbee or a ball around. Watching the ducks in the Plaza. Writing letters on real paper.

We all want the same things: to love more and to be happy. Perhaps one day a week is not too much to devote to what is most important in life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Thanks for Life, Thanks for giving

Thanks be to Life and to any and all Creators, for gift of life and the fabulous, fun and amazing Marlie, my partner and friend; thanks for the wonders of hills and sky and water and dirt and soil and seed and the miracle of plant, tree, meadow and forest; thanks for the marvels of Sonoma, the Plaza, the bike path, the Overlook Trail, the community garden, Sebastiani Theater, Reader’s Books, the Community Center; thanks to all those who voted for me, and all those who considered it; thanks to the genius of Moshe Feldenkrais, to family and friends, and the freedom demonstrated by all of us when we come into the moment.
Chris Elms

Friday, November 05, 2004

Letter of thanks and thoughts, post-election

Hi All,

Well, it looks like I didn’t get as many votes as I would have wished, though with the absentee, I should get a batch more. All that walking the mobile home parks.

But, my idea of not making signs was not useful in getting the people who didn’t know me to vote for me. Live and learn.

Great though was the response to the message of slow down traffic, slow down building, involve ecology in all decisions. I think within a year we’ll have the first two accomplished, by going door to door again, to set up ballot messures. The speed slow down could probably pass council, and they might do it, but door to door would give people a chance to sign their names as committed to the idea of driving slower in this town and that would be step toward the calming down of our habits and our town.

I'm also thinking of a ballot measure to limit the amount the polical action committees can give to a city council candidate, and this idea of Marlie's: to have city council candidates, match dollar for dollar, everything they spend over $3000 with a contribute to a local non-profit. Which means, if a candidate spends $7000 on themselves, they have to contribute $4000 to local non-profits. Help stem the me, me, me aspect of campaigning, though, like I mentioned above, I was a little too proud in my refusal to join the sign game.

Ah, next time. But I do like homemade signs, don't you?

I loved talking to so many people, meeting so many people. My feet got sore, and sometimes I got tired of talking about me, but basically, the campaign was about my ideas, and that stirred and interested people and I enjoyed that.

I’ll start going to the meetings and join a commission and we’ll see if running again is in the cards. I certainly think I made an impact on this election and have a nice feeling of companionship with almost all of the people who were running. I have a nice relation with Stanley, who has already talked of learning a lot from me, and Joanne, who has some kind of interesting bond with Marlie and I. The one difficult one, ah, let’s say nothing there. La, la.

As for the national election, here’s the bright side.
1) the Wall Street Journal and others were talking before about whoever gets elected is going to inherit an economic mess of huge proportions. Better Bush watch it crumble and have to take the blame.
2) The war in Iraq is unwinable, and Kerry was painting himself into a corner with his more macho than thou, stuff. Let the quagmire go another two years. Then there are elections again.
3) Kerry showed that someone who doesn’t like people doesn’t make that good a candidate.
4) We need to learn, ala the Byron Katie work, to do what we wish the “narrow minded Christians” would do: learn how to reach out, connect with, and find common ground with people who think differently than we do. We need to learn to connect, in a human, not proselytizing way, with narrow minded people, instead of following them into their trap and being narrow minded about their narrow mindedness. This is what we need to ask: What makes us that way, sometimes? What do we have in common with them, the people in Kansas, and Utah, and Texas. We can’t write them off. How to reach out to them. Everyone started as a genius, learning to walk and talk are amazing feats. Somewhere this brilliance gets smothered. How to get it back, for ourselves and others. That’s part of what Feldenkrais and the Byron Katie work are all about: finding our own stuck habits, and working free of them. Fixing others is such an undoable thing.

Hopefully, I’ll get a radio show back. I’d like it to be about politics and ecology and happiness and love. The whole shebang. I’ll let you know, and about upcoming Feldenkrais and Byron Katie work.

What else for me? More time to get back and help at the garden. Time to get back to writing, a screenplay and a book on wonderful relationship. I'm switching from the relationship heaven/ relationship hell title, to this : Touch, Truth and Fun, which I think are the bedrock of a great partnership. What do you think?

I'll be posting more essays on a philosophical, spiritual and Feldenkrais nature, as well as keeping up my ideas on the local political scene.

Now, nature and love cured me when I had the great heartbreak of my life. The same can help us out of any bad feelings we are going through now. Some things we can help. Some things, for now, are out of our control. Let's do the best to come back to where we are grounded, literally and figuratively, knowing we are alive and enjoying all our fellow creatures.

Love and huge thanks for all your support and kindness and encouragement and enthusiasm to create a more sane and wonderful place in which to live,


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Speeding in Sonoma letter to I-T

Letter printed in the November 5, Index-Tribune

Do we have a speeding problem in Sonoma?

Let’s see. At Wednesday’s City Council meeting we learn that the police/sheriff is yielding us a little more than one speeding ticket a day in the town.

Over the weekend I talk to people on West MacArthur, Fryer Creek, East Napa, all of whom have horror stories about speeders. At other times both 5th streets, both 2nd streets, Bettencourt, and Spain get mentioned as drag strips.

On Monday, I talk to a mother on Newcomb, who sees so much speeding out of the high school ( once when she called to tell them of someone going 70 mph, the sheriffs told her to “call the school”) that she is afraid to let her children play during school’s getting out times in her yard, BEHIND A FENCE. She’s afraid at the speeds they drive, one day they’ll come crashing through her fence. And then Monday night at a public traffic gathering 30 people from my Studley, Curtin, Oregon Street neighborhood all said the same thing: too fast, too fast, someone’s going to get hurt.

So: what I say is: pay for extra enforcement out of tickets given to speeders. Give 10 ( or 20) tickets a day instead of one.

And first, get an agreement that we want to slow the whole town down. Reduce the speed limit to 18 or 20 mph, and take it as a matter of pride to become a town that doesn’t treat the car as one more way to waste our life in a rush, and to create space for walkers, bike riders and children to once again be safe. Who runs our lives anyway, our hearts and intelligence, or our watches and schedules?

Chris Elms 996-1437

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