Before the music

This Monday at Petit-Château was about as dismal at a November afternoon in Brussels can be. A friend came with me who had wanted to experience our poetry and songwriting for a long time. I am always nervous on these occasions because I want them to have a positive experience. My first snafu was nearly…

Give me a chance to live

Our 28 October Monday afternoon poetry and songwriting session at the refugee center was intense and deeply meaningful. It was a moment where many people came together and expressed the joy of being able to share a creative moment in a world of uncertainty.   We began as usual by cleaning up our poetry wall….

You are always here with me

This Monday the weather was grey and cool, and it was quiet at Petit-Château. Sarah and I arrived and had a friend already waiting to visit with us. We posted printouts of refugee songs on our poetry wall and then posted the song from the previous week with the intention of singing it together.  …

Leave us be the way we are

This past Monday was the last day of a three-week visit by my mom and our friend. They traveled to Brussels from the east coast of the United States. From there, we flew to Prague, took the train to Vienna and Budapest, flew the Amsterdam, and took the train back to Brussels. It was exciting…

The greatest gift

I had a falling out with a dear friend and music partner several years ago when we made the attempt to turn our creative, musical partnership into a financial one. We had co-developed a method of songwriting together, which was born of the seeds of a songwriting method that my colleague and friend had called…

What gives you hope?

Monday at the refugee center was hopping. When I first began volunteering in January 2017, it had been a residential center. There were residents who have been living there for years, waiting to hear if they would be able to stay in Belgium. Over the past nearly three years of volunteering, I have seen the…

We could try it and see

This Monday at Petit-Château marked the third week in a row we have been working on a new song. it is a song that raises questions that are universal concepts for the human experience: freedom, nationality, identity, fear, violence, acceptance, judgment, power.   We filled two large sheets of paper the first week with words…

Free like a smile

Every Monday I visit the Fedasil Petit-Château Klein Kasteeljte is an opportunity to capture a moment in time in both poetry and song. My co-volunteer Sarah and I often take a bit of a pause in the summer months. It has been increasingly hot in Brussels, and it is important to allow for some downtime…

Hakuna Matata

Without fail, this week’s visit to the refugee center was one, which offered an opportunity for the exchange of culture, experience, and language, as well as the creation of something beautiful.   Sarah and I arrived at the entrance to the center at the same moment, so we entered together and went to sit on…

This magic moment

Sarah and I often talk about how we really never know what will happen on each Monday visit to the refugee center. There are times where we sit and chat on the bench by our worksite, with only each other and the pigeons in the courtyard for company.   We decided long ago that even…