Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Posted: February 26, 2012 in stray threads

We had a wonderful launch on February 25! Photos, reflections, and what’s next, coming soon…..


Dear friends,

In an effort to consolidate and integrate the various life-threads of work/play/reading/writing, going forward I plan to only to my new blog, Daily Cup. There I’ll continue to share occasional stories and reflections on sex trafficking and ongoing, anti[sex]slavery work in Portland. I hope you’ll find me there, subscribe, and keep in touch!


Really? It’s that simple. That’s the hope for Sweet Notions, a social enterprise creating a franchise in Portland. Through Sweet Notions, volunteers collect unwanted fashion accessories and work with marginalized women to upcycle and recreate these accessories into items that people want to pay for. In the process, the women involved gain community, new skills, self-esteem, and a wider horizon for their lives. Every aspect of Sweet Notions involves transformation: transformation of discarded objects into beautiful jewelry, transformation of under-used space into pop-up boutiques, and transformation of women’s sense of self and future. As I’ve said on this blog and elsewhere, I believe the world can be saved by women getting together to make stuff. Why not start now?

I’m excited about an event on Monday, June 20, at Lucky Lab on Hawthorne from 6-9 pm. It’s a great time for prospective volunteers to learn more about repurposing with a purpose.

….even nuts, bolt, and washers

Posted: February 9, 2011 in stray threads

This necklace was made by a lovely woman who creates jewelry out of repurposed…well, repurposed everything. The tag-line on her business card reads: “Everything is made beautiful in its time…even nuts, bolts, and washers!” Her story is hers to tell, but her jewelry tells its own story of an amazing experience of liberation and transformation.

The Portland Bad Date Line

Posted: February 8, 2011 in stray threads

They may be the same person.
Featured here more than once.
Pulled large knife, kept money,
threw  stuff out of car.

White male, medium build, alcohol smell.
May be he’s the same person.
Got mad, opened door,
grabbed hair and bashed head against cement.
Stole her purse, coat, and shoes.

Looks young, muscular, good English.
He grabbed her throat, punched her face.
Maybe the same person.
Boasted he has raped at knife-point.

Gold teeth, early 30s, probably Bloods,
trades crack for sex,
HIV-positive but doesn’t tell you.
He may be the same person.

They may all be the same person:
White male, thirty, thin but muscular,
At the bus shelter, he grabbed her hair from the back,
bashed her head against stones.

Clean cut, goatee, forty-seven,
The same person, maybe:
muscular, new car, big tires, big muffler,
pulled her out by her hair,
threw her on the ground and drove away.

Poser cop, stocky build, clean cut,
Flashed badge, asked for it,
Maybe the same like all the others,
Or maybe he left when she refused.

Sixty, balding, met in parking lot,
Kept duct tape and rope on bed,
Offered crack, had a gun,
The same medium, muscular build. Maybe.

Dreds, mid-forties, paid extra for no condom.
Afterwards he pulled out a big knife,
grabbed her head and hair,
left her on the street.
Featured here more than once.

Since 1998, the Portland Bad Date Line has been a resource for sex workers to warn one another other about their worst experiences.

January 24: got bling?

Posted: January 28, 2011 in stray threads

What would you do with this jewelry? Peggy, who has attended St. David of Wales since she was in utero, dropped this off on my desk in a baggie with a note saying she’d be away on a business trip but hoped we could use this for Sweet Notions. There’s a pair of outrageous dangly clip-ons – the ones on the left – that I just want to put on right away. And some others I want to turn into clasps for yet-to-be-designed purses made from gorgeous fabric someone else dropped off next week. And the rest of it….can’t wait to hear what more creative people than me are imagining.

Recently it has been pointed out to me that our funky old church building is “not as nice” as some other churches for workshops and events. Nothing a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of new lighting, flooring, and furniture and a bunch of new rules wouldn’t fix. Our building was unloved and under-utilized for years and now gets used by a lot of people for a lot of purposes.  Keeping it “nice” is not as easy as it could be under more, ah, shall we say, traditional circumstances.

This has given me pause to do some thinking and rethinking about  hospitality, shared space, and mission. Although occasionally I get laminate-envy when I look at other churches’ shiny new restrooms, I’ve come to appreciate our building as a comfortable old pair of shoes–the more wear the better. “Lived-in and loved-in” is how I like my favorite clothes and my own house to feel like. Why not a big old church?

I want my church to be as comfortable to anyone who comes in–anyone–as their favorite old pair of shoes or jacket. I want the space, the activities, the people and the smells they find there to remind them of a time when they were well-loved and well-fed, not of a time when they were in the way, or outside looking in.

Over-crowded calendar? Noisy worship? Tired carpet? Messy kitchen? I’ll take it.

This is the time of year when those of us who work for non-profit organizations that build budgets based on projected voluntary giving get to sweat a little bit, caught up in a jumble of anxiety. (My friend Margaret Marcuson writes a lot about money and has some good things to say, especially this time of year.) The jumble of anxiety is typically a trinitarian concern about one’s own salary, about being able to meet the organization’s basic needs (like keeping the building warm and workable), and whatever it is we feel put on this earth to do as an organization with a mission beyond its (and our) own perpetuation.

Too often the jar – like this one – looks half empty rather than half full. But what if it’s the wrong jar? I’m not saying money doesn’t matter, but I am wondering whether we forget to list all the resources at our disposal that money can’t buy. What could we do if we said “yes” first and then figured out how to make it happen?

Yesterday I did an internet search for “how many purses” and found hundreds of surveys, blogs, articles, ads, and more. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks I might have too many, and who also labors under the delusion that if I just had the right one, I’d only need one. Or, according to the surveys, two: one tiny one for evenings and a larger one for daytime. Hm.

The photo represents my initial contributions to the Sweet Notions PDX effort which begins with a workshop on February 5. Sweet Notions is a social enterprise that transforms unwanted accessories into sale-able items and uses the cash to help transform women’s lives. (Who could ask for more?) And there’s more where that came from. It’s pretty embarrassing, actually, to so accurately represent my socioeconomic demographic: the typical middle class, middle aged American female owns about 12 purses. And how many do I used? About half. And at any one time? One. Ditto with the scarves, although having a bunch comes in handy when one wears so much black.

I give lots of things away: to church rummage sales, to friends, and to charity thrift stores. And, now, to Sweet Notions. Sweet Notions is its own kind of scarlet cord to freedom, through transformation, creativity, sustainability, and community.

Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is being disposed of and transforming it into something of greater use and value.

Think about marginalized women, women who own nothing, who are punished for gifts they receive, treated like slaves, or left for dead. Imagine all the ways that you and your accessories might participate in their transformation. Have you registered yet?

This famous icon by Andrei Rubliev, captured here by a wonderful free program called blockposters, is often referred to as the “Old Testament Trinity,” although its real name is simply “Trinity.” It is an icon of God’s presence in community and in hospitality. It was in the context of hospitality that Abraham was visited by angels and promised not only a son in his old age but also more descendants than there are stars in heaven or sand on the earth.

The most relevant thing I can say about the Holy Trinity comes from an ancient document that many Christians today consider most irrelevant, the Creed of St. Athanasius, written in the fifth or sixth century and attributed to the 4th Century St. Athanasius although he didn’t live long enough to actually write it. The Athanasian Creed, also called Quicumque vult (whomsoever would be saved) actually contains a bunch of stuff I don’t believe is absolutely necessary for salvation (shhhhh!). But right in the middle of this long, dense, rhythmically redundant text we read this:

And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.

Now that is a Trinitarian theology that speaks to me and, I hope, to all who come looking for a God present in community. It is that nugget at the heart of the Athanasian Creed that is a battle cry for many Anglo-Catholic churches on both sides of the Atlantic; these words are in fact etched into the stone archway of one of the several churches in London’s East End dedicated to being in community with the poorest of the poor in neighborhoods that includes numbers of sex workers ostracized by the rest of the community. Like the food that Abraham set before the three strange visitors under the oaks at Mamre, these are words of welcome and promise.