Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Millennium Development Goals

On September 25th, world leaders are gathering in New York City to chart our progress on the Millennium Development Goals. These goals are eight goals that come out of the United Nations. 189 member nations of the UN, along with 23 international organizations, have signed on to achieve these goals by 2015. These goals are concrete steps to reduce and/or eliminate extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than ONE US DOLLAR per day.

The goals are:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental stability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

The book that has made the most difference for me, in terms of really understanding the Millennium Development Goals, is the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It describes the work that Mortenson has done over the past fifteen years in Pakistan and Afghanistan, building schools, promoting gender equality, and empowering women. As a side effect, Mortenson's work has also reduced child mortality, combatted disease, and fought terrorism in those areas.

Mortenson's organization The Central Asia Institute is doing amazing work in a part of the world where people live in extreme poverty and where access to education for all children is limited and for girls is often very rare. I have committed a large portion of my charitable giving to the Central Asia Institute.

I challenge readers to educate themselves about the Millenium Development Goals, to investigate organizations working to eliminate extreme poverty, and to commit themselves and their resources to working to make these goals a reality.

"The world now has the means to end extreme poverty. We pray that we will have the will to do so." -A prayer for ending extreme poverty written by Jonathan Denn.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sylvan Way

Michelle and I hike every Monday, on my day off. I've decided to document our adventures here. (Which also helps me to have some discipline about writing here more regularly!)

The Sylvan Way trail in Randolph both starts and finishes in the middle of the woods. In order to hike it, you have to get to it. We began at the Howker Ridge Trail, climbing for about a half mile, before we came to the trail intersection.

Sylvan Way is flatter than much of what we've hiked here so far, with only a 250' elevation gain. The trail is known for its number of waterfalls, passing five or six falls over it's 1.7 mile route. Some were quite spectacular, like Coldbrook Falls (second photo).

The end (or, perhaps the beginning if you start at some other trailhead, which we never could find) of the trail is at Memorial Bridge. Memorial Bridge is a gorgeous stone bridge, crossing Coldbrook Stream. It was a great place to stop for lunch. The first photo shows Michelle and Birdie on Memorial Bridge.

We're looking forward to exploring this trail again, in different seasons, and on snoeshoes. We're also looking forward to trying some of the other trails that criss-cross the area.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Some Thoughts on Home

I just read a blog post by my friend Michael (it's a great blog, click HERE to check out his adventures).  He is currently living and teaching in Mexico City, and he wrote a post about "home."  

As I read, and commented, on Michael's post, I realized that my sense of home has changed greatly in the last six years.  Before I went to seminary, I imagined that my home would always be in Western Massachusetts.  I loved the Pioneer Valley with its rolling hills, the Connecticut River, and my many many friends.  I loved The World Eye Bookshop, Greenfield's Market, the Farmer's Market, and all the good places to eat.  And when I left, it felt like someone was taking my arm.  When I return to Western Mass, I know that I have come home.

I arrived in Alexandria, Virginia, and slowly found new places to love - a great diner for breakfast dates, the Alexandria Pastry Shop, and a host of wonderful Thai restaurants.  I learned how to take the train into Washington, and took advantage of the Smithsonian museums on the mall.  And I made good friends at school, at church, and in the area.  And when I left, it felt like someone was taking my arm.  When I return to Alexandria, I know that I have come home.

I arrived in Northern Michigan, and after a short period of time, I knew that I was home.  I was welcomed by the wonderful colleagues with whom I worked.  I immersed myself in the beauty of that place.  I learned the best place to get good Thai food, where to go fishing, and how to get from Point A to Point B, all around the UP.  And when I left, it felt like someone was taking my arm.  I have yet to return to Northern Michigan, but when I do, I know that I will feel like I have come home.

I am now in New Hampshire.  We've been here just over a month.  The boxes aren't all unpacked yet, but we are making progress.  We are learning where to hike, where to shop, where the good places to eat are, and how to get from Point A to Point B.  

When  I look at the patterns of the last five years, I am comforted.  At some point, I will stop feeling like a guest or a visitor.  At some point, I will look around and realize that I am home.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Technology Woes

We chose our house because we didn't want to be in town.  It's true.  We wanted trees, nature paths, and no visible neighbors.  What we didn't realize when we made the choice was that we were, apparently, moving to the back of beyond.

At our house, we cannot get satellite TV, because the trees are too high.  There is no way to get high speed internet.  And today, the cable guy came out and had some sad song and dance about why it was the our cable could not be hooked up today.  

For years, I lived without TV and without high speed internet.  I'm not sure why this irks me so much, but it does.  That's all there is to it.  I'm annoyed beyond all measure.

It doesn't help that the copy machine at work is pathetic, too.  Sigh.