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…

I want to live

This past Monday, we met several residents at the center. Since we have found that beginning by playing music can help to draw people in, Sarah posted the song we wrote the previous week, The hand that hurts can also heal.   As people came to join us, Sarah brought a blank piece of paper…

We want to live in peace

There are themes that seem to resurface time again in the time I have spent, volunteering at the refugee asylum center. When I worked with a woman from Macedonia on her song, I asked her to tell me her greatest desire. She responded, I want a peaceful life for my children. In several songs, people…

We are bound together

After volunteering at the asylum center now for nearly two years, the repertoire of songs has grown tremendously. Periodically, I spend about a day going through photos and voice recordings. I try to keep everything organized by putting all of the photos and song files for each song in its own folder. This way, I…

I’ll meet you there

This past week, I visited the Petit-Château on Monday for poetry and music and Friday for a special songwriting workshop for Women’s Week. Monday began with sunshine and ended with grey sky, but the music we created warmed my spirit tremendously. At the start of the Monday session, there were just a few folks in…

We sing together

My third visit to the Fedasil Petit-Château refugee asylum center was literally stormy and creatively dynamic. Rain, hail, thunder, and lightening swept through the open courtyard as our little group sang our hearts out to a melody shared by one of the participants. The poetry volunteer had written two lines from an ancient Chinese poem…

Semaine no. 2: Tension and Transition

Week number two of in proximity entrepreneurship dawned sunnier and warmer than week number one. One of Malcolm’s first comments upon arriving in Arizona the week before was that he had not expected to be cold. Just as this expectation was different than the reality, so too has been our time together. There is certain…

In the light of justice

I have been incorporating songwriting into my day job in every and any way that I can this past year and a half. Recently, the word went out through the National Park Service for park sites to find creative ways to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington for the 50th anniversary. In a conversation with…

Let’s play ukulele!

I gave my first official ukulele lesson this evening. My pupil—I will call her Lily—was a spritely five-year-old who is a regular at the family programs we offer where I work. She was just fantastic—full of energy, life, and stories to share. I learned about cats named after various kinds of cheese, a dog that…

An unexpected meeting

I have never been one to rely too heavily on ideas like destiny or fate, but discovering the ukulele may very well be one of those indescribable phenomena that shapes our lives ever after. I was attending a writing workshop in Eastern Oregon when the fateful moment occurred. Two musicians, Kate Power and Steve Einhorn,…