Sunday, January 24, 2016


Cecile Pineda will be talking about the Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World project and signing books during the month of February:


February 1 S.F. Occupy Forum at 6 PM
                        Global Exchange
                        2017 Mission St. at 16th Street 2nd floor
                        San Francisco
February 13 - PEN WEST at 3 PM
                        home of Margret Schaefer
                         1 Quail Avenue, Berkeley
                        RSVP & directions:

 February 25 – Ethnic Studies Library at 5:30 PM
                        30 Stephens Hall (downstairs)
                        University of California 
                        info: 642-3947
To create peace in the world, how radically would we have to change our thinking?
Whenever I talk about Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World, I find new ways of approaching a complex subject, and new approaches to my audiences. January 24 addressing an audience of peace activists, I asked for a show of hands: how many folks have volunteered for various kinds of peace activism? And of those folks, how many are convinced that by nature, humans are irredeemably warlike, making conflict a “done deal?”

The good news is that humans have not always been warlike, but to support that view we have to search before history, before HIS story, to a time before patriarchy overtook the world.

I love talking about this book, how I started with a question, and an intuition, and how more and more my research took on the character of a detective story, an investigation of a crime which took place some six thousand years ago, and whose consequences are still being felt throughout the entire world today.

Links to some of the interviews I have given so far include:
Kate Raphael on “Women’s Magazine” on KPFA: starts at 12:00 minutes in

Lisa Savage interviews Cecile Pineda for Went 2 the Bridge:


This month, I’ve happened on three places in the world where people have allowed themselves new (and very old) ways of thinking:

Kalamazoo, Michigan: In 2005, anonymous donors initiated a program called Promise, that guarantees any high school student with acceptable grades free college tuition at a public, in-state school. Of Kalamazoos students, 44% are African American, one in three falls beneath the national poverty level, and one in  twelve is homeless. The program has re-vitalized a hollowed out community where most of the large business have shut down, been outsources, or acquired by larger corporations. But since its inception, the program has changed the spirit of Kalamazoo. It has motivated students, teachers, and families. It has prompted teachers to revise their teaching schedules to provide students with remedial work in math and reading, increasing grade proficiency by at least one grade.

But most impressive is the systemic change it has brought to the entire city, extending to the nearby suburbs. From the long-range returns to the community by an educated, innovative work force, a higher tax base and a more energized business environment.  Fringe benefits have included better nutrition for children, better housing, medical care, and universal pre-kindergarten programs.  It has stopped urban flights,  and fostered the construction of new schools both in Kalamazoo itself and in surrounding suburbs. It has attracted more students, and with each new student, guaranteed another $7,250 a year from the state. New teachers can be hired for every additional 25 students, and hundreds have been hired so far. The district has been able to upgrade existing facilities, and passed bond issues to finance the construction of new schools.

A high dropout rate persists despite these changes. One-third of students failed to graduate, and a disproportionate number of them are Black males, a phenomenon which suggests that such students still find school programs irrelevant to their lives. But the good news is that Kalamazoo’s Promise program has spread to at least 25 American cities, among them Pittsburgh, Denver, Peoria, and Ventura to name a few. For more background go to  

Albuquerque, New Mexico: In 2015 the City of Albuquerque initiated There’s a Better Way
a program to reduce homelessness. The homeless policy of many other cities, San Francisco and Berkeley among them, seeks to penalize poverty, an archaic holdover from Plymouth Rock, and of the Puritan legacy in American culture that upholds the belief that if folks are poor, it must be because they deserve it; and if people are rich, they don’t need to share. But a few cities, Albuquerque among them, has a mayor, Richard Berry, who thinks that housing people makes more sense than citing and jailing them, and sending them to the ER in  health emergencies. What’s interesting about Albuquerque’s program is that the city partners with a program already in place, St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, the non-profit that connects folks with housing, employment and mental health services. It pays the salary of Will Cole, a van driver, who trolls the city’s streets once a week, looking for homeless folks who may prefer working for a day tidying up the city at $9.00 an hour to panhandling on the streets. But most remarkably, a video shows Cole, who is Black, shaking hands with all the folks he meets and treating them with consummate courtesy and respect. 
Blue and white signs have been posted at major intersections listing a 311 number and website where panhandlers can connect with services, Not only: motorists can visit the website, too, and donate to local shelter, food bank, or the employment fund that pays for the day-workers’ wages!

Bayt Ghazy, Yemen: “I would carry him over my back and run amongst the people.” So said the brother of a man soon to be released after 13 years from imprisonment at the age of 17 in the hell-hole of Guantanamo back to his small village in Yemen. I have saved the best for last: a visit to Fahd, and to a paradise-on-Earth, a village in the country Saudi Arabia, with the complicity of the United States and Britain, is bombing back to the stone age 
"Waiting for Fahd:One Family’s Hope for Life Beyond Guantanamo." Your visit to this village will be a short one (no more than 10 minutes) but to those who have lived there all their lives, truly there is nothing closer to paradise on Earth. As his waiting wife says: “God will bless him because he will be released and we can live on Earth together.”

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