Plenty International at 35 Years
by Art Goodtimes
Jan 14, 2010 | 851 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print

THE FARM’S FOREIGN AID … I was in San Francisco back in the Sixties when Steve Gaskin started giving his Monday Night Talks, and drew a large following of hippies disenchanted with city living. When he took a caravan of folks to Tennessee to found The Farm, I almost left with them. I didn’t (which is another story), but I did stay in touch with Peter Schweitzer and the small person-to-person foreign aid program that was founded by Farm idealists. I’ve never given much to Plenty International, but I’ve been a consistent supporter over the years. It’s a charity I believe in. And I’ve received their excellent bulletin, with its stories of its soy milk project in Guatemala, its kitchen for the homeless in New Orleans, a medical clinic in Liberia and an organic farm on Pine Ridge – among just some of the good things they do … If you have a few dollars that you’d like to see get directly to people in need, send a tax deductible check to Plenty, P.O. Box 394, Summertown TN 38483, or email <> or check out the website <> … Below is an edited verson of Peter’s intro to the latest bulletin, plus a poem as this week’s Talking Gourd written by Plenty board co-chair and founding member, Karen Lynn Goeppert Heikkala of Austin, Texas, who passed away this summer after a life of amazing social action and environmental justice.

PETER SCHWEITZER … “Plenty turns 35 this year. That's kind of a milestone for a small independent nonprofit and we're just incredibly grateful to all our generous and faithful supporters who have made this possible. You are the reason Plenty continues. It's that simple. Certainly the need has not lessened. UNICEF says 25,000 children die every day due to poverty, which means these deaths are preventable. The frequency of natural and man-made disasters never seems to slow. Humankind apparently still believes war is a necessary means to solving problems. These realities also keep us going, along with the knowledge that we are making a difference, however small in the greater scheme of things. Differences must be made. Doing nothing is not an option … In 35 years Plenty has been involved with projects in at least 20 countries on five continents. We've been working in Guatemala since 1976, on Pine Ridge Reservation since 1981, in Belize since 1985. Kids To The Country started as part of Plenty's project in the South Bronx in the early 1980s. After awhile, people we're working with become like family. We start getting invited to their weddings and birthday parties, graduations and funerals. When one of our Plenty Guatemala soy project volunteers returned to Guatemala 15 years later to do more soy demonstrations she noticed that the little kids she used to hand out soy ice cream cones to were now the young mothers attending her classes and their kids were getting to eat the ice cream and other soyfoods … In this new Bulletin you will read about a family reunion that was held in April in California with Plenty Guatemala volunteers and the original Mayan Soyaria managers, Agustin and Elena Xoquic … I remember that in the year of Plenty's 25th anniversary we said it was time to do a Plenty book. Well, no sooner did we make that pledge than ten years elapsed. Whew. That was fast. So now we have gotten more serious about that book and a long-time Plenty volunteer and former editor at the Farm's Book Publishing Company, is on the case collecting the memorable stories of Plenty volunteers from over the past three and a half decades. Some of these stories make my hair (what's left of it) stand on end when I realize how many bullets (some literal) volunteers have dodged. I also get chills remembering how truly courageous, resourceful and talented Plenty volunteers have been. Many were teenagers and twenty-somethings when they joined projects in distant lands. Most had never done anything like this before or had any formal training. What they had going for them was a compassionate nature, fearlessness and, I would have to say, some kind of resolute faith in their ability to do heavy things they had never had to do before. Unsung heroes all. We want to tell their stories because their stories are the clearest evidence we have that everyone is already qualified to make a difference. We sometimes even surprise ourselves.”

WEB FAV … You’ve probably already heard this great joke circulating the internet about a woman in a hot air balloon who realizes she is lost. Lowering her altitude, she spots a man in a boat below and shouts to him, "Excuse me, sir. Can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am.” … The man consults his portable GPS and replies, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground, at an elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. Thirty-one degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.” … She rolls her eyes and says, "You must be an Obama Democrat." The man nods. "So I am, but how did you know?" The balloonist smiles. "Well," she answers, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me.” … The man in the boat smiles back, "And you must be a Republican." Surprised, the woman replies, "I am. How did you know?” … Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault." (Thanks to John Mansfield of Norwood)


Pay Attention

Life is pure energy

Wield it as you may

Keep it at bay or embrace it in full

Be prepared to open your eyes

And grab the strings that go by

Swinging from gift to gift you can fulfill the pact

That you came in with

And will later retract

To a place we don't know where

But a place of beauty if you cared

-Karen Heikkala


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