December 29, 2010

2011 Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award honors Craig Gilbert

Craig Gilbert sporting his topi hat
and Nepalese doko basket

An appreciation for and kudos to Craig Gilbert, my friend, mentor, sounding board, and Atlanta Bhutanese Refugee Support Group volunteer. And, tzadik (Hebrew: righteous person).

Emory University School of Public Health and Goizueta Business School will honor Craig and other recipients at The 2011 Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award ceremony on Thursday, January 20, at 4pm. The event will be in the auditorium of the Claudia Nance Rollins School of Public Health (1518 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322); a catered reception will follow.

The 19th annual MLK Jr. Birthday Celebration theme this year is “Reinventing Communities: Turning Misfortune into Opportunity.”

This prestigious award recognizes Craig’s accomplishments since the beginning of the organic food movement, and for helping people in the refugee community to earn fair wages for honest work, to access educational opportunities, and to preserve and transmit along the generations cultural heritage and ethnic identity.

At the event, Craig will speak briefly and share photos to highlight the Bhutanese Kudzu Basket Project and the Gardening Project among enterprises he has initiated, championed, and given to with energy, imagination, and love.

Craig’s friends and family and the Atlanta Bhutanese community and its allies, advocates, and supporters are warmly invited to join in honoring him.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired America to grant human rights to all people using nonviolent means, a philosophy that Mahatma (“great soul”) Gandhi, a son of India, pioneered. It is fitting that an Atlantan is recognized for upholding Dr. King’s ideals by helping to resettle refugees from Bhutan (on the Indian subcontinent) whose homes and fields were stolen and whose lives were put on hold in refugee camps twenty years and longer.  
— Craig Gilbert

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Cross-posted at Bhutan>Atlanta

    December 20, 2010

    James and the Giant Christmas Concert

    James has turned nearly four-years-old since I first published this post in 2008. This year, he and his parents will celebrate Christmas with baby Grace. While the world James knows will keep changing, some things will remain constant, among them sacred time and humans' search for meaning.

    Watching 22-month-old James at his first Christmas concert, I got an inkling of what my Christian friends might hold so dear especially this season: A child well loved as an embodiment of wonder, innocence, sweetness, light, hope, trust, confidence, and faith.

    Fully present, James listened intently to the oddly pleasurable sounds, probably making sense of their relation to the performers on the dais. Paying perfect attention with his whole body, the elfin concertgoer sometimes moved his arms and legs in response. During one uninterrupted minute, I captured him sitting upright, crayons clutched in both hands, transfixed by the magic.

    Watch the video (1:15 minutes).

    James ... Christmas Concert

    My related posts

    December 11, 2010

    Green light to Christmas Eve in Bethlehem

    Janet Reed: "Outside the Church of the Nativity
    with our backs to the wild party in Manger Square"

    I first published this post December 12, 2008

    We often experience sacred time by retelling sacred myths and stories. So when my friends the Reeds joined their friends (two families) on a ten-day trip from Atlanta to Israel last winter, Janet Reed's real-time diary of their interfaith journey brought me endless joy and fascination, which I chronicled in Bethlehem bound: Is it safe?

    Their holy caravan of three families (six adults and seven children) traveled as one throughout Israel. In Jerusalem, the Reeds participated in their friends' children's Bar and Bat Mitzva ceremonies, and on Christmas Eve, the Reeds took a short security-conscious journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. So, when Dori called me from Illinois to find out how she and her fiance, Josh Gomes (a pro basketball player scoring points for Israel), might worship in Bethlehem this Christmas Eve, I knew which pro to ask.

    Guest Blogger Janet Reed Writes

    "Janet Reed is an FOT (friend of Tamar) whose family exploits are sometimes featured on this blog. Janet is a writer and the chief herder of two adorable girls and one fabulous husband who has introduced Janet to many of her best friends (such as Tamar!). Janet likes to read, cook, and travel, and especially enjoyed planning a trip to the Middle East last year, which included Christmas Eve in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity. The journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity service we attended, and related experiences in Manger Square were spectacular in every way. You will have so much fun. We loved every minute of our trip.

    "Here is an excerpt from an email we sent Tamar and others:
    Greetings from Jerusalem!! We are having a GREAT time and are loving our trip. We made it to Bethlehem last night — a total zoo. A massive (NYC Times Square-ish) crowd in Manger Square, which we had to navigate with the girlies. Then pushed through the barrier into the Church of the Nativity through the labyrinth of that amazing church to a tiny Greek Orthodox chapel where we had Lessons and Carols (a cappella) with Mahmoud Abbas (super security detail included) and about 90 other "pilgrims," mostly English-speaking but lots of Arabs and Arabic speakers as well. Made it into the Grotto (where Jesus was born) for a quick touch, then back through the throng. Exhilarating and scary, but glad we did it.

    About the Church of the Nativity
    Three Christian denominations “share” the Church, and they hold services independently. (There are no restrictions on photography inside churches — so odd to us! — we took pix everywhere!)

    We wanted to get to Bethlehem and back in one evening, and to attend a service in the Church. As far as I could tell, the only group that could help us accomplish this easily was St. George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem.

    About St. George's Cathedral
    Nablus Road 20 Phone in Israel 02/627-2133; Fax 02/6276401. Outside Israel 972+2/627-2133. The Tickets are required, and only the Cathedral sells them.

    From the Cathedral, we boarded buses that took us to and from Bethlehem — only seven miles away, twice crossing through a large Israel Defense Forces checkpoint.

    2008 schedule

    Key: (A) Arabic, (E) English

    24 December
    • 4 pm Carol Service in Shepherds Field (YMCA) of Beit Sahour (E, A) 
    • 7 pm Buses depart St. George's Cathedral for Bethlehem 
    • 9 pm Service of Christmas Carols and Lessons in the Church of the Nativity (E, A) Buses return to Jerusalem after the service. 
    • 11:30 pm Eucharist of the Nativity in St. George's Cathedral (A, E) 
    25 December
    • 10 am Christmas Day Eucharist (A, E) 
    • 6 pm Solemn Evensong (E)
    26 December
    7.30 am St. Stephen's Day Eucharist (A, E)

    Other travel options
    You can go to Bethlehem for a wild Christmas Eve party in Manger Square (no kidding — that’s what it’s called!) and you can Google “Christmas Eve in Bethlehem” for schedules of various services and activities. If you want to visit Bethlehem any other time, that’s pretty easy. If you’re feeling highly adventurous, you can drive or go by taxi — not ways I’d go, but maybe you know your way around and will feel comfortable with this.

    Questions for Janet?
    I’ll be happy to answer any questions on our journey. Just ask in a comment at the end of the post. 

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