Sunday, July 31, 2011

Discovering the Quakers

Event: Sunday, July 31, 2011; Updated: 17 Sept 11
Front Gate to Quaker Meeting House in Santa Fe

After visiting Spanish Market I drove to Canyon Road to visit Dominique's and Phyllis's galleries. Looking for a parking place I noticed a space just in front of a sign to the entrance of Community of Friends meeting place. It was 10:45 A.M. when I noticed that their regular Sunday meetings were at 11:00--just fifteen minutes later, so I decided to enter. I'd never attended one of their meetings and had wanted to for years.

Since their normal procedure is to worship in silence, I sat with the gathering of 30 to 40 in pleasant, quiet surroundings. The lady who met me at the door as I came in explained that after about 45 or so minutes participants were invited to speak if they felt "led by the spirit".

An attractive woman was the first to stand, urging the gridlocked Congress get their act together to make a decision on behalf of the country. One or two others spoke identifying themselves as visitors. Then, I was shocked to find myself standing to share my most recent visit to San Ildefonso Pueblo where I learned about the nature of Indian pot making, that "One does not repair pots" and how illuminating that simple statement became for me.

Before long, others in the group stood to talk about their experiences with Native American pots, including a lament by a resident Quaker that their valuable collection of Indian pots had been recently stolen, recovered from a nearby museum and stolen again.

The woman just in front of me announced proudly (while remaining seated) that she made and repaired pots. Another, a retired school teacher, spoke of having spent much time on a local pueblo learning how to make pots the Indian way and how profound the experience was for her. Another lady expressed her grief up to that morning that one of her most cherished pots from Santa Clara Pueblo had developed a crack in it, but now she was at peace with that development in the life of her treasure.

 A man then stood to tell of having had a successful career in producing and selling ceramic pots made in Japan. At the end of his career he had taken a young Indian boy under his wing to teach him his business and to learn the Indian way. He was dismayed at the boy's lack of discipline and what seemed a sloppy work ethic. But when it came time to produce something for an upcoming festival, the boy spent over 100 hours the week before to make one pot, which sold for more money than the man had made in months of his own labor!

To top all these comments off, someone spoke of an upcoming discussion on the theme inspired by poet Leonard Cohen about "Light through the cracks"!

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There's a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in."

 When a lady announced an upcoming social potluck, I couldn't resist cracking (no pun intended) that I'd never be able to hear the word "potluck" again without remembering this experience. All laughed.
Quaker Meeting Room in Santa Fe

Quaker Announcement

I was invited to return and think I shall.

Hispanic wood carvers at Spanish Market

Event: Sunday, July 31, 2011;  Updated:  August 7, 2011

Coming to the annual Spanish Market at the suggestion of Gregory Schaaf, I met several men who impressed me as possible contributors to the carving project. One in particular caught the vision of the Tree of Transformation Project. He has organized and facilitated large competitions such as the Albuquerque Balloon Festival as well as being a master wood carver. It will be interesting how this evolves....

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oviedo Ranch and Gallery showing

Event: Saturday, July 30, 2011; Updated: 11 August 2011

Birgitta and I attended a showing at the Oviedo Gallery ranch on Saturday evening after having had dinner with the Oviedos at Rancho Chimayo the week before, where Pat and Marco agreed to join our LADDOF board of advisers.
(Click to enlarge)
Art by Marco Oviedo and Dominique Boisjoli 

Birgitta fell in love with a horse sculpture by Marco and we left having put down a deposit. I took photos of the guests and Birgitta out in the rain during a thunder and lightning and heavy rain storm. Fortunately, there was a water-tight canvas covering over the patio to protect the musicians and guests.

Birgitta and the storm

Dominique, Phyllis and Birgitta

Musicians and guests

Pat took a photo of Birgitta's newly purchased treasure.

Spanish Horse by Marco Oviedo

Friday, July 29, 2011

Third visit to San Ildefonso Pueblo -- Artist Sa Wa Pin

Event: July 29, 2011; Updated: August 1, 2011

(click on image to enlarge)

I learned an important lesson today in my third visit to Alfred Aguilar in San Ildefonso Pueblo. I watched him as he crafted a pot and graciously answered my many technical questions. 

His answer to one question took me by surprise. How might he repair a pot that had lost its sheen or gloss? Without missing a beat he answered simply, "But then it would loose its value." It wasn't until he walked over to his card rack and showed me a poem that I began to understand. 

(Click on poem to enlarge)

One does not repair a pot! To "repair" is to deny the life of a living thing. To think thus is to miss the meaning and purpose of this creative work. Even when it is broken or marred....

And then I understood even more. The life of this pueblo and its people stands in stoic, silent and dignified witness to a greater, deeper, wider reality. It is well beyond the advent of the Bomb and its aftermath....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Second Visit to San Ildefonso Pueblo

Event: Monday, 25 July 2011; Updated: 27 July 2011.

Birgitta and I again visited San Ildefonso on Monday morning, July 25, arriving early enough to witness a dance by four men and four women in traditional costumes. It was a very hot day and the dancing took place on the bare ground of the plaza well beyond any shade. Four men chanted facing each other head to head while another beat the drum, as the dancers performed various stylized movements.

We also visited the Governor's office and learned that new Governor Perry Martinez had been governor once before in 2000. I wondered if this governor had been in office when LADDOF adviser Geoff Rodgers had been Los Alamos County Council chairman a decade ago, when he had had personal contact in county-pueblo negotiations. In a subsequent phone call Geoff informed me that Martinez had just retired from his first term and a new governor had just come into the office. He also told me that there are apparently two kivas (family communities) who lead this pueblo, which provide alternate leaders every two years.

On our way out of the plaza Birgitta and I visited Alfred Aguilar once again. Birgitta bought one of his exquisite miniature pots.

(click on image to enlarge)
Artist Alfred Aguilar at work

Alfred Aguilar Miniature Pot

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Meeting Professor Gregory Schaaf, Constitutional Law Historian

Event: 26 July 2011; Updated: 27 July 2011

Entering the beautiful home of Angie Yan & Dr. Gregory Schaaf on Tuesday morning (26 July 2011) was like encountering a living museum. Their home features a collection of Native American art important to the world. Greg's life-long devotion to helping Native People and promoting Native artists began when his grandparents told him at age 5 that some of his ancestors were Choctaw and Cherokee. Angie grew up in Hong Kong and worked as a Graphic Artist for the County of Los Angeles for a decade. When she moved to Santa Fe, Greg met her at the Santa Fe Design Center, and he hired her as a book designer. They fell in love creating the "American Indian Art Series," an encyclopedia of Native Arts. Over 15,000 Native American artists biographical profiles have been published so far. See

Below are a few photos of my visit to their Center for Indigenous Arts & Cultures.:

Holding Totem Pole. Masks in background

His book about pots and many examples.

Holding Carved Stone and Silver Poles

Holding Prized Wood Carving

Prized Painting on Fireplace & Schaaf's book about it

Dr. Schaaf graciously invited me to visit him in his home during the precious time he needed for meeting a deadline for his latest book. Among an astonishing range of topics, we discussed his personal relationships with prize-winning Native American carvers and artists, the governments of the local pueblos and the attitudes necessary to gain their attention and trust.

Dr. Schaaf suggested building a circle of private supporters to help promote our non-profit organization. Some patrons will share our vision and support our positive projects. Recently, Native American Artists for Japan requested donations of art which were sold by the group on ebay, raising almost $50,000 for Japanese disaster relief via the Red Cross.  

Many Native Americans are especially concerned about recent reports that the three damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan . . . ARE STILL MELTING DOWN . . . hot as ever, and no one on Earth knows how to stop it! When Hopi leaders learned that without their permission the US Government had taken yellow-cake Uranium ore out of their land to develop the atomic bomb, they were greatly disturbed that they had inadvertently contributed to the disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They recited Hopi prophecies warning that one day there would fall upon the Earth a "gourd full of ashes," this they interpreted to be atomic bombs. They traveled four times to the United Nations to warn the world and finally, their prayer for world peace was narrated by the Secretary General to the UN General Assembly. Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Schaaf spoke in the United Nations on "American Indian Peacemaking Traditions." 

As a result of this visit, I realized that LADDOF needed to reconsider its title for the "Totem/History Tree" project. The new working title "Tree of Transformation" is better, because the project must include not only totem images from the Northwest, but also a history statement of our local Indigenous, Hispanic and Anglo traditions, plus a vision for the future.

Furthermore, it became abundantly clear to me from our discussion that the Los Alamos Deep Democracy Open Forum project should NOT be located on San Ildefonso land, as originally considered, but within current Los Alamos community boundaries. 

I left Dr. Schaaf's home with two of his many books: The U.S. Constitution and The Great Law of Peace (based on his doctoral dissertation for the University of California at Santa Barbara) and Franklin, Jefferson, & Madison: On Religion and the State (from newly discovered original historical narratives).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dinner with the Oviedos at Rancho Chimayo

Event: Saturday evening, July23, 2011; Updated: 21 August 2011

Birgitta, Eugene, Marco and Patricia

Birgitta and I met with Patricia Trujillo-Oviedo and her scientist-artist husband Marco at Rancho Chimayo for dinner and talk. My purpose was to recruit them into an advisory role with LADDOF. The conversation could not have gone smoother!

Jim Bradbury and I had worked with Pat Trujillo years ago (1993-94), when we worked together in the Stakeholder Information Office (SIO) at LANL. SIO had the responsibility of interacting with the public to find common ground and dealing with anti-nuclear activists.

Marco caught the idea of the intertwining spirals and suggested the practical strategy of creating miniature models of the tree to test preliminary designs and incorporating suggestions for change in the process. This would be an effective way to explore ways of working together towards a final design. As a bronze sculptor, perhaps he could design a preliminary working prototype.

Of particular interest to me was Pat's mention of having had a dream of me shortly after I had called to arrange to meet at dinner. Her candor in sharing this allowed us to get beyond superficiality. I was amazed by her dream:

as for the dream,what I remembered then and what I remember now is I was for some reason with some Austrian friends of mine who were with their grandchildren.  They needed help of some kind and had asked you, Eugene, to help them.  I advised them to be careful because you were some kind of an ex-KGB agent or something.  The dream then faded out.

 Then I told them about Birgitta's and my recent meeting with a British documentary film. My specialty in those long ago (1955-56) days was the KGB! Something in Pat had sensed something important and relevant!

Before leaving the restaurant that evening I discovered my car had a dead battery just in time to catch Pat and Marco before they drove off. They gave us an emergency jump start. Did that bode well for the future? Click here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

First visit to San Ildefonso Pueblo

Posted: Saturday, 23 July 2011; Updated: 

Jose Alfred Aguilar business card

After leaving the long postponed LADDOF board meeting in Santa Fe on Friday morning, July 22, Birgitta and I dropped by the San Ildefonso Pueblo on our way home to Los Alamos in mid afternoon. We intended to visit its gift shop and administration building before closing time. The LADDOF board had met to set new strategy due to the unavailability of Arny Mindell, author of The Deep Democracy of Open Forums or Max Schupbach,  director of the Deep Democracy Institute in Portland, Oregon, to come to a Los Alamos Deep Democracy Open Forum anytime this year. Making direct contact with this pueblo now became a first action item.

When we arrived at the pueblo, the Visitors Center was closed and the area seemed deserted. Furthermore, there were signs posted for visitors to stay on the main road and to keep their vehicles out of the Plaza area just across the street. Therefore, we parked on the main road under the shade of a tree near the Center. Leaving Birgitta in the car to relax, I walked into the Plaza to look around.

One of the first things one notices is a huge cottonwood tree, which dominates the bare plaza ground. Under the shade of this tree a pickup truck was parked. As I approached a nearby building, a tall slender distinguished old man got out of the truck and asked if he could be of help. He was Alfred Aguilar, owner of the gift shop in the building. He invited me to inspect his wares.

Inside the shop I asked how his pueblo had been affected by the recent Las Conchas Fire. He said they had been spared this time, although the Santa Clara Pueblo just to the north had been heavily hit. His San Ildefonso pueblo had been hit during the last fire eleven years earlier (Cerro Grande Fire of 2000) and it had received federal aid to recover. This time, however, although there was no structural damage and no similar aid available, the fire had driven wild animals down to their area to find food and one of his cows had died.

I looked at his pottery on display and asked him when he had begun to create such pieces. He said he began his work after being discharged from the US Armed Services after the Korean War. He'd been drafted and spent his service in Europe. Since I was a Korean War veteran myself and had served in Berlin, we discovered we were about the same age. He had just turned 78, which made him four months older than I. He showed me a book documenting the work of local artists and was proud to show me a picture of his father. He then pointed to a paragraph mentioning his own work.

I asked him about the source of images his people use in their art and he mentioned three main animals: bear, buffalo and turtle. He acknowledged that there were no buffalo nearby, but in past years their territory extended to the Midwest. Did he know much about totem poles?, I asked. No, that was what tribes in the north did. Did his people do woodcarving of any kind? No, but the nearby Hopi did and their language was similar, but they speak faster. Until the early part of the last century many different local tribes were in conflict and the Hopi often raided them. All that changed after the Second World War.

He gave me his business card and phone number and I wrote down the name of the book he had showed me. He also suggested that the best time to contact the pueblo administration would be next Tuesday, the day after Monday's upcoming celebration of Saint James Day. The new governor's name is Perry Martinez, who is in his mid 40s.

When I got home I called Gregory Schaaf, the author of the above mentioned book, who lives in Santa Fe, and left a message. A few hours later Schaaf returned my call and that is another story! We agreed to meet next week, possibly during the Saint James Day celebration at the pueblo.

New LADDOF strategy and action items

Event: 22 July 2011; Updated:

On Friday morning, July 22, the board met at Jim Bradbury's home in Santa Fe. There were four of us: Jim, Birgitta, Ed Storms and myself. This was adviser Ed's first appearance and his contribution was brilliant. As we focused on film maker Paul Ratner's "Totem Tree Proposal" (TTP), which I'd forwarded to board members a few days earlier, Ed had an alternative suggestion to the design.

Instead of imagining the bottom third of the tree to be the responsibility of indigenous carvers, the middle third that of  Hispanic artists and the top third that of "Anglo" (Manhattan Project) artists, Ed suggested three intertwining spirals telling three parallel, on-going and unfinished stories. That struck a resonant chord with all of us.

Furthermore, as we discussed approaching the San Ildefonso pueblo people, Ed took on the role of negotiator in their behalf. We quickly arrived at what seemed a generously fair position.

Armed with these insights, new approaches and potential negotiation points, I felt new confidence to visit the pueblo later that afternoon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

We are Official! The IRS has blessed us at last...

Posted: 18 July 2011; Updated: 19 July 2011

On July 11, 2011, having just received the hard copy from the IRS approving our 501(c)3 status, I sent an email to friends of the corporation.

Arnold Mindell, author of The Deep Democracy of Open Forums (which inspired the formation of LADDOF, Inc.), and Max Schupbach, Director of The Deep Democracy Institute in Portland, Oregon, both responded within hours:

Looks just wonderful, thanks Eugene, best to all, amy and arny

Congrats, fantastic, great work !!!!
Much love

Here is the email notice:



On June 28, 2011, the IRS accepted LADDOF, Inc. as a 501(c)3 corporation.

DIRECTORS and ADVISERS, please let me know ASAP your availability next week in Santa Fe for our next board meeting (which was postponed because of the Las Conchas Fire). It will be a strategy meeting to include:
1. Totem Tree Project (see attached proposal by Paul Ratner) 
      a. publicity and marketing strategies 
      b. approaching the pueblos 
      c. approaching activists groups 
      d. approaching area citizens 
      e. approaching Sarov-Los Alamos Sister City community 
      f. public screening of Paul Ratner's "The Caveman of Atomic City"
2. Eldering Group dream workshop 
3. Dreaming Parents of Dreaming Children (six to ten week seminar) 
4. UCLA (Unitarian Church of Los Alamos) Dream workshop on May 8, 2011
5. Eugene's report on Denver World Work conference last April with Arny and Amy Mindell.

All the best,


(click on letter to enlarge)
IRS Approval Letter