Monday, September 09, 2013
Monday, April 08, 2013
79 Prospect St
Greenfield, MA 01301
Text about my last street retreat
Photos of my last street retreat
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Buddhist Precepts (Zen Peacemaker version)
|Benjamin Franklin's Virtues|
|1. non-killing||8. Justice|
|2. non-stealing: be satisfied, give, ask for and accept||??|
|3. chaste conduct: dignity, give and accept friendship and love without clinging||12. Chastity|
|4. non-lying: listen and speak from heart||2. Silence, 7. Sincerity|
|5. not being deluded by use of intoxicants||1. Temperance|
|6. not talking of others faults||??|
|7. not elevating self and blaming||13. Humility|
|8. not being stingy: use all ingredients||5. Frugality|
|9. non-anger, suffering-> wisdom||11. Tranquility|
|10. Honor my life as instrument of peacemaking||??|
|Franklin Virtues with no clear Buddhist pair|
Franklin's virtues with no clear Buddhist pair seem to me to exemplify the "Protestant Work Ethic" that Max Weber believed made American culture so unique. While the Dharmic tradition includes karma yoga in the Bhagavad Gita and the Bodhisattva ideal in Mahayana Buddhism, I am not familiar with any strains within the Dharma traditions that place as much emphasis on the nitty gritty of daily self-management and work as do Franklin and his heirs. Instructions to the Cook comes close, though it focuses more on a Dharmic perspective on organizational life than on personal work. Perhaps because I was born American, I find the American tradition of pragmatic wisdom very refreshing and inspiring. It certainly compliments the Eastern tradition which I hold so dear.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Technology enables some people:The low cost of producing and distributing digital messages and the relative anonymity that comes with them will invite some passives to become more active complainers, particularly those who have high "customer technology readiness." We see this with the viral spreading of the United Breaks Guitars video and the Yours is a Very Bad Hotel Powerpoint presentation. Cyberbullying, online dating and blog comments all elicit behavior that is different from their face-to-face equivalents. However, as I discuss in an article I wrote about online community, there is much debate as to whether digital content about social issues enables behavior that wouldn't have otherwise taken place (such as protests in Burma, or more recently in Egypt) or whether it becomes just another form of passive consumption and distraction.
Technology use changes:While banner ads had grown to a $9 billion per year business in 2004, by that time click-through rates had already dropped in effectiveness from 10% to .025% over the years (Services Marketing: Integrating Customer Focus Across the Firm, Ziethaml, Bitner and Gremler, 498). There were similar changes in the decreased effectiveness of telemarketing. New media makes it easier to reach more people at a lower cost, but the ability to instigate action may become diluted with time. The virality of online complaints and their detriment to sales will most likely fluctuate as both technology and our use of it change and adapt.
Implications for digital service recovery:From the side of the firm, we need to create effective online venues that invite and respond to feedback from customers who are digitally oriented (just like we provide telephone venues for those who are phone-oriented). By providing a pressure valve that gives them voice, we channel them to share their complaints with us instead of complaining about them to others. We see a similar phenomenon is society at large. As Samuel Huntington points out in Political Order in Changing Societies, it is necessary for a democratic society to provide a legitimate arena within which to redress grievances in order to avoid violence, rebellion and revolution.
ConclusionIt is important for a company to be responsive to our customers just as it is for a democratic government. But what would it mean to apply the same type of responsiveness to other stakeholders who are not currently customers?
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I started my first online course today in Marketing. It is with mixed feelings that I dive into the world of e-learning. On the one hand, I am excited by new possibilities created with technology. Intriguing both the educator in me and the computer geek in me is curious about what features they use to fascinate the learning experience. At the same time, I feel a bit of nostalgia. I miss the classroom experience- meeting other students and the teacher. Also, even though I enjoy spending my entire workday in front of a computer, I also love highlighting books. That being said, it doesn't make sense for me to print out many pages of course readings. We'll see how this goes. So far, there are several power point presentation "lectures." That certainly feels a bit more distant than a face-to-face lecture, which could also very well include a power point.
I'm also studying for my yoga finals. Guiding her through some asanas, I explained some basic anatomical concepts to my girlfriend, identifying various bones and muscles in her body. This is perhaps the other end of the spectrum from online learning. I reviewed various muscles, including their location and actions. It is astounding how many muscles there are and how they are intimately woven into each other. We looked at various reasons why it is difficult to maintain an erect back in seated poses like dandasana. In my case, it is from tight hamstrings, which run along the back of the leg and wrap up around the hip bone I think that maintaining an erect (or actually slightly curved) back can also result from weak back muscles or some tight muscles in the back itself, perhaps the erector spinae or latissimus dorsi.
I also learned today that my Zen Teacher Eve became was promoted from sensei (teacher) to roshi (a teacher of teachers). I don't see this as necessarily having a major impact as she was already teaching independently and doing a phenomenal job. Next week, we start the winter intensive. I've been maintaining 10 minutes per day of sitting, while joining the zendo schedule once or twice a week. Its been hard to attend while balancing yoga class. I often find myself rushing from Zen to Yoga and back. That's pretty funny.
Monday, January 10, 2011
When I learned about the farm's fate as well as layoffs, I felt disillusioned. The developing Montague Farm Zen House and the Symposium on this campus were dreams come true. Everything was coming together. And after the Symposium in August, the thing I feared most was suddenly happening. It was hard to avoid getting wrapped up in worrying about the significance of the daily twists and turns of a relatively high period of uncertainty in an uncertain universe.
Returning to the Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat in November, I felt comforted by the feeling like I was part of something much bigger than the campus I live on. I reflected on the reason I came to Montague in the first place: to be part of a Zen House, a dharma center where service to the community is viewed as a spiritual practice on par with meditation. I asked myself what I still lack to be part of such a center?
I decided to sign up for a business school class so that I could further develop practical tools to implement my beloved vision. I switched from listening to podcasts on social media marketing to listening to audiobooks on business development.
While the recent past has felt worrisome, there has also been excitement of possibility amidst change. To be part of something new means standing out on a limb. Uncertainty is good training.
What do you think is necessary to make this dream viable?
Friday, January 07, 2011
My girlfriend wants me to stop holding my cell phone by my face. Valley Advocate says they cause cancer. Cell phones could be the cigarettes of the future. The industry will certainly fight for them. Maybe its killing me or maybe these are anti-technology rumors spread by organic farmers. Everybody has preferences and everybody thinks others would be better off if others shared their preferences (including me). Sometimes, we say others will die if they don't follow our preferences. Sometimes they will. Eventually everyone will.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
I ignored my to-do list today and enjoyed the luxury of focusing my whole work day on designing a web page and e-mail for Bernie's 2012 India tour. I love looking at the final version and tweaking and looking and tweaking. My strategy is to develop content that is tied to registration for a specific event, but also inherently interesting (both to me and readers). Thus, I plan to launch a virtual pilgrimage to India. This is where the old social studies educator in me comes forward.
I feel a tension between perfectionism and the drive to get more things done quicker. For example, I would like to start working on the budget management. I feel like this is an important skill that will help me be able to make the type of contribution I want to make in the future. After stepping away from my comic book for several months, my newly web-design-trained eye realized that I could say more in my comic with less words.
Is Facebook evil?
Even though Social Network portrayed him as a socially inept jerk, I left the movie with a growing admiration for Mark Zuckerberg. I felt defensive about the movie's anti-geek agenda and wasn't surprised to learn that writer Aaron Sorkin is not on Facebook. That is fine, except for that about half of Americans are on Facebook, so it is no geeky minority. I've felt a tension lately, on the one hand inspired by Silicon Valley capitalism and on the other hand, skeptical.
I think designing web content is fun and it has allowed me to reach thousands of people cheaply with messages that I think make the world a better place. I visited Silicon Valley for the Wisdom 2.0 conference last year and I've been listening to podcasts from the Valley as part of my business self-education (ever since my organization faced layoffs and pending loss of our property, my home, because we couldn't pay the bills, I've been much more attentive to money matter.) I admire the fact that these are folks doing what they love, influencing millions and being successful. I was pleased to see Zuckerberg join Bill Gates in pledging to donate half of his wealth to charity.
But, as I experienced at the Wisdom 2.0 conference last year, I am troubled by what seems to be a superficial embrace of social enterprise. I'm not convinced they are doing a thoroughgoing analysis of the effects of the cycle of production and consumption on every level. I just can't quite buy into the "invisible hand" dream that if I just do what's most profitable for me, it'll actually be more profitable for everyone.
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
I'm trying something new today. Instead of writing in my journal, I'm going to blog. I'm going to dust my old blog off the InterWeb and dive in. After all, this is "just my personal blog," not my professional, important Socially Engaged Buddhist blog....which I've been neglecting lately. Blogging is funny for me. I love doing it and I also hate it. I feel such a strong drive to share and yet I get so hung up on perfectionism. So I'll just blog instead of journal tonight. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow as well.
Overcoming the fear of offending
I assisted in Yoga class today. As a member of the Teacher Training, I have to do 10 classes assisting. I really don't like assisting. I feel embarrassed to touch people who I do not know. I feel less embarrassed with my fellow teacher trainees, but even one of them told me "Just get in there! You know what you are doing. Don't be afraid." At least I am feeling less and less afraid every time I do it. I also felt some anxiety because I bluntly told a business associate why I don't think they are doing what they need to do in order to move their web traffic to the next level. I thought it had to be said, but it was still difficult.
Monday, October 04, 2010
I have raised $1250 to cover my plane ticket, expenses in Krakow and part of my registration fee. Please contribute towards the remainder of the fee!
Why do I want to go to Auschwitz?
Two years ago, I came to Montague, MA to train at the headquarters of a group called the Zen Peacemakers. After my training, Bernie Glassman hired me on as staff. To put it simply: I love this place and the people here. I cherish the practices and teachings and want nothing more than to plunge in more deeply. While many Buddhist centers focus mainly on meditation, founder Zen Master Bernie Glassman has lead the Zen Peacemakers into the streets and social services as a sphere of active practice, bearing witness to all of society and taking actions to heal it. The deepest fuel for this work comes from witnessing humanity's greatest atrocity: Auschwitz.
What happened last time I went?
As I explain in a series of blog posts at Elephant Journal, attending the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz last June was very powerful for me. It opened my heart and clarified my vision.
What is special about the next trip?
This November, we are initiating an innovative element of bringing together young adults to bear witness together at Auschwitz from Israel (both Jewish and Arab), Palestinians, Poles, Swiss, Italian, Americans and others. Bernie asked me to serve as Young Adult Coordinator for the retreat, but because there is no funding to cover this roll, I am raising money to participate.
Frequent Flier Miles: Do you have frequent flier miles with an airline or partner that flies to Poland? If you would be willing to donate them to help me get to Poland, you would take a significant chunk out of how much I need to raise.
Why should you support me? (Here's 10 reasons)
10. Join me: I will take you on the journey with me by naming a bead after you on a 'mala,' or prayer bracelet, that I will create and bring with me on the retreat. A $300 contribution will be represented by a large bead and a $50 contribution will be represented by a small bead.
8. Receive updates: While it took me several months to edit my journals from the last retreat into blog posts, I will send close friends and sponsors correspondances during the retreat itself. I see this as a relationship. Not just a donation.7. Support young adults: My experience teaching high school for two years and directing a residential teen summer camp will inform my role as U.S. Young Adult Coordinator in caring for the emotional well-being of young adult participants.
6. Inspire me: Participating in the Auschwitz retreat last June had a profound and beneficial effect on me. It opened up my heart and deepened my presence in working in service.
5. Invest in my future: I value this path deeply: from starting Seminary two years ago to working the past several months as founder Bernie Glassman's Assistant to my current role as Marketing and Communications Coordinator. I am comitted to this work as a vocation and know that the practice of bearing witness at Auschwitz will move me further along that path.4. Get the word out: As the editor of the Bearing Witness Blog and regular contributor at the Elephant Journal, I will eventually share my experience with a wide audience.
3. Heal society: Registration fees support the charity work of the Zen Peacemakers, including building future retreats and offering free community meals and wellness offerings for low-income families.2. Innovate fund-raising: I hope to use this experience of online fund-raising as a pilot to create a new scholarship-raising structure for Zen Peacemakers program participants.
1. Build a future of peace: As Zen Peacemakers staff, I hopes to apply lessons learned on the retreat towards building future retreats with a greater number of young adult participants. I believe that bringing together Israeli Jews and Arabs in the practice of Bearing Witness and listening to each other could contribute to a more peaceful future.
Want to learn more?
Watch the video below to learn more about the retreat or read the reasons below to learn why I invite you to support me. Thank you. View Retreat web page to learn more about it.
$800 = plane ticket to Poland
$1,000 = retreat registration fee (includes all buses, food and accommodations at the Dialogue Center in Oswiecim and operational expenses)
$60 = paypal fee
$100 = hostel in Krakow
$1,960 = TOTAL
Don't want to pay via paypal?
Please call me at (413)367-5269 with any questions.
You may also write a check to Ari Pliskin and mail it the following address. If you do this, please notify me by e-mail as soon as possible.
177 Ripley Rd.
Montague, MA 01351
Disclaimer: Unless otherwise requested, funds not used for this retreat will be donated to support the humanitarian work of the Zen Peacemakers.
I would like to share a message with you from a $10 donor who means just as much to me as the $100 donors:
"You do not know me, but I just received an email from my uncle Ike that explained your need for your trip. Though I am a Christian and do not share in your religious beliefs, I did make a small donation as I support your efforts and the humanitarian work that you are doing. I hope that you raise enough money to cover your expenses and I will be praying for safe travels for all of you as you make your way to Poland and back."
This process is about getting diverse groups involved and creating peace.
Monday, April 05, 2010
When I lived in New York, yoga was part of my fitness routine that I did once a week. With my membership at the New York Sports Club, I also did boxing once a week and lifted weights twice a week- one day for chest and arms, the other for abs and back. After a few weeks of suffering from a cold, I decided to cut out the “rigorous” lifting and boxing to let my body rest and recuperate. Not able to break my gym habit, I kept going several times a week and just did yoga (I later learned that the persistent cold was actually a sinus infection).
After a week of frequent yoga, at one moment, I noticed something was different. A stressful thought came up, heart speeding up, pressure welling up in my chest. And I breathed. The rush of anxiety passed through me. I calmed down. I felt a tinge of distance and perspective- a moment of choice. It reminded me of the feeling of holding an asana, feeling the desire to flee or give up and just holding it and breathing. My mind was trained to have a better automatic response to stress. It felt lovely.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The first reason why comics serve as an effective tool for foreign language acquisition is because of the combination of words and pictures. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, the images in a comic provide the reader with a critical base of information. Once the images provide the reader with a context of setting, atmosphere and character, they must complete the essential task of interpreting the text. While school typically focuses on verbal learning, using a medium that combines verbal and visual information supports verbal learners to develop visual intelligence and vice versa.
The second reason why comic books are an effective tool is because they increase student engagement, which manifest in careful reading and lively conversation. Because many learners find comics more exciting then typical school materials, comics facilitate increased attention and engagement. Unlike watching a movie or listening to a song, readers can pace themselves at the appropriate speed and reread passages until understanding is achieved. Because most text in a comic book is dialogue, the comic book format facilitates reading out loud and developing conversation skills.
The final reason why I have found comics to be an effective tool is because my passion about comics and personal experience with Latin American cartoonists inspires students to because enthusiastic about engaging with another culture. Comics served as a powerful gateway into Latin American culture for me and I enjoy sharing that with students. While traveling through
In conclusion, there are several reasons that I have found Spanish-language comics to be a powerful tool for supporting student learning. The combination of words and pictures provides an appropriate scaffold for language learners. The format of comics facilitates engagement in a variety of forms. Comics also provide a rich and fascinating window into other cultures. As an added bonus, students also discover how kids like them around the world are using self-publishing in print and on the internet as a low-cost means of personal expression.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Back in Buenos Aires, I visited a class taught by Cristian and his colleagues to children and teens. I also met the other cartoonists in the publishing collective to which Cristian belongs. Following in their teachers' footsteps, the students create their own comics and publish them with photocopiers and on the web. One of the students illustrated a script that I wrote about the Holocaust (page: 1, 2, 3).
After leaving Buenos Aires, I visited various cartoonists along my route, contacting friends of Cristian. I met an autobiographical cartoonist in San Luis, Argentina. In Chile, a cartoonist explained the status of publishing there and I attended a museum exhibit. In Bolivia, I attended Vinetas con Altura. In contrast to Montevideo Comics, this convention focused entirely on artists from Latin America.
Inspired by the Bolivian gathering, cartoonists in Buenos Aires organized Vinetas Sueltas, presenting independent comics from Latin America and also inviting four European artists. Through these travels, I met a variety of talented cartoonists, all of whom present their works on the web. One of the most exciting books I found was the first Chilean graphic novel, which I translated and reviewed.
Back in the States, I seek to develop the power of comics as a gateway of intercultural exchange. I guided kids in Spanish class through translating some Bolivian political cartoons. I translated Destino Invisible, also about the Holocaust, by Gervasio, another of Cristian's colleagues. The first few pages of which now appear as a free webcomic. I also created a Spanish-language blog in order to help latino cartoonists navigate the American market.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I used the following Bolivian comic strips while teaching a Spanish class in Ohio. The high school students translated them into English with me. After translating the strips and some songs, the girls presented to the rest of the camp. The strips are by Joaquín Cuevas of Bolivia from the collection "Unoffensive".
The first strip caught their attention because it deals with something close to home.
The final comic comments on the Bolivian movie "America Visa" in which a Bolivian tries to get the proper documentation to enter the United States. The girls were surprised that it is so hard to immigrate into our country. We also translated Manu Chau's song Clandestino about a wanderer who left Africa for Europe struggling to seek work without papers.