Readers' Forum

Readers' Forum is a place for your feedback and ideas. We welcome you to use this space to share your thoughts, inspire us with your personal stories, and challenge our thinking and that of our readers.



Thank you for doing an issue on education

(Winter 1998/1999). This is a critically important topic for those of us concerned with creating a positive future.


My family has embraced the idea of “unschooling” after being highly influenced by the writings of John Taylor Gatto and others. I would encourage you to delve into this even more in future issues.


I'm reminded of something Gandhi said – if we're going to change the world, we have to start with the children. After all, if the world we see now is not what we want, we must face the fact that what we prepare for is what we get.


Michael Fogler
Lexington, Kentucky

Kudos and corrections

I wanted to tell you how gorgeous your recent issue on education looks (Winter 1998/1999). The front cover is beautiful and unusual, and the rest of the magazine is wonderful.

I am actually writing for a very specific reason – to correct an error in Chris Mercogliano's article, The Albany Free School. The photo on page 28 was actually taken by Laura Bennett, not Ginna Drahan.

Thanks very much for all of the work that you do!

Ellen Bennet Becker
Albany, New York

Restorative justice

Greetings from the great state of Texas! I am an inmate at a correctional facility in Texas. I felt compelled to write after reading the Fall 1998 Peace Makers issue of your magazine. Sarah van Gelder's editorial column let me know that your staff and contributors are kindred spirits. Thank you for what you are doing.

I was amazed when I turned to the article by Tag Evers on “Restorative Justice.” David Doerfler and the Victim Mediation/Dialog program are people I consider to be kindred spirits as well. David and his colleague Lisa visited a group I'm involved with here on the Ellis Unit. It's a group sponsored by the Substance Abuse Treatment Program in which we are working on making amends to all the people we have harmed. As we were going through the process of making amends, I started a dialogue with David and Lisa. That meeting resulted in our group volunteering to act as surrogates in any cases where a victim sought to heal wounds from the past, but the perpetrator didn't want to participate.

I am in awe of the work that David and Lisa do, and I appreciate you giving them some time and attention.

I want you to know that there are many men in this prison making a sincere effort to change their lives, and in all the cases, part of that change is spiritual. Some realize the change through religion, others through teaching, with a common theme of nonviolence, abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and pursuit of our own form of spiritual connectedness. It's an unusual perspective for all of us, who for most of our lives have dealt with life in a violent or institutionalized manner.

We are doing things in a manner that really goes against the predominant mentality in prison. Yet in our hearts, there is that feeling that the position we hold today is leading to our own healing, as well as the healing of our local and global community.

May you, the contributors, and all of your readers be blessed with the wisdom it takes to maintain your own spiritual growth.

Tom Dodson
Huntsville, Texas

Beyond despair

A week ago, a friend brought me her new copy of YES! because it had an article on Leah Green's 1998 journey to the Middle East, skillfully using Compassionate Listening to guide her participants through the almost insurmountable difficulties of asking them to listen compassionately to those some considered enemies.

I had been nurturing the Compassionate Listening program, mostly in solitude, since 1980 when the idea came to me. Leah has done some magnificent, ground-breaking work, and the American program is growing through the care of Jim Cummings. The article was thrilling – I was so happy to see Leah recognized for her work in your article.

Also, you can't know how thrilled I am with your magazine and your phrase, “A Journal of Positive Futures.” YES! is the magazine I wanted to find – one that describes the difficulties of today and presents possibilities.

I am sending the article “Aussie Apology” (Fall 1998) to a local radio station. They are having a dialogue with me, because I asked that they not leave us in despair by telling us only of the horrors in our world, but give examples of what people are doing about these problems. They wrote to me that they are excited about my recommendation and asked for some examples. “Aussie Apology” feels like one they will appreciate.

Thank you for your remarkable vision and work.

Gene Knudsen Hoffman
Founder, Compassionate Listening
Santa Barbara, California

More insecurity

I have to agree with Donella Meadows' sentiment regarding nuclear production in the US and how it affects countries like Pakistan and India. (See “Building Insecurity,” YES! Winter 1998/1999.)

Besides possessing the most nuclear weapons in the world here in New Mexico, we also have Los Alamos Laboratory, and the city of Carlsbad is slated for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. A geologic depository, WIPP is touted as the solution to nuclear pollution as it would be accepting waste from all the Department of Energy's nuclear facilities.

Transporting nuclear waste through 22 states poses serious safety issues in and of itself, let alone that
geological features make the repository unsuitable for hazardous waste storage. Activists have been working to keep WIPP closed for the past 20 years.

What does this have to do with India and Pakistan? Simple. While the DOE claims that WIPP is for cleaning up America's nuclear waste, 70 percent of the waste slated for the WIPP repository has not been manufactured yet. In other words, WIPP is being saved for what is to be manufactured in the future. If WIPP opens, so does the nuclear industry's confidence that they can produce more, as they could then claim that nuclear production is OK since the waste can be “safely” stored.

WIPP, in essence, is the green light for more nuclear production and, therefore, more testing (and more insecurity). WIPP is not just a New Mexican problem – it has worldwide implications, which Meadows' editorial, unbeknownst to her, so aptly described.

Lotti Abraham
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Gaviotan inspiration

I was considering squeezing YES! out of my tight budget, but after I read the article on Gaviotas (Fall 1998 and Winter 1998/1999), I felt so hopeful and inspired that I decided to renew.

Thanks for a great journal!

Jaime Morales
(Native Colombian)
New York City, New York

Internet spirit

Thank you so much for your Web site ( It helps my mind and spirit!

Dirk Ouellette
Portland, Oregon

Shouting and dancing

I have just gotten hold of issue #7 (Peace Makers) and am so inspired by it that it really is too much. By that, I mean I simply cannot contain the energy in it. I have to leave it and jump up shouting and dancing. It is taking me a long time to get through it, because it seems to be so concentrated and powerful.

I want to copy so many articles in it and send them in different directions. I thank you all for your tremendous contributions, and I will do my best to spread them.

Karen Evans
Oldwick, New Jersey

Go for it!

Congratulations on the Internet display. It's great!

I was interested to read Sarah van Gelder's article on the United Religions Initiative. It gives me special pride as an Episcopalian to see that Bishop Swain was instrumental in the formation of the group since it became worldwide. I say with all my heart, “Go for it!”

I say congratulations, too, on the continuing success of Positive Futures . . . YES!

Merl Carlstedt

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