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I am posting some brief comments at my travel page at

December 15, 2009, I attended a presentation by Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea” and the recently released “Stones Into Schools”.  Greg’s work documents his efforts, first in Pakistan and now in Afghanistan, to bring education to the isolated villages scattered through-out the two countries.  

During his presentation to a packed gymnasium at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Greg recalled Martin Luther King who said Even if the world ends tomorrow, I will still plant my seed today.”  In addition, Greg shares that “In Africa, they say, ‘Educate a boy and you educate an individual. Educate a girl and you educate a community.'”

As I listened to Greg speak of his efforts in Pakistan, I found myself thinking of what Martin Luther King had said.  Taken another way, one might interpret that it is “never too late” to strive to make this world we call home a better place.  Granted, we can’t all do what Greg has done, but the point is that we do what we can and that cumulatively it can and will make a difference. 

As I stood in line waiting to enter the gymnasium, I spent some time talking with those close to me.  A comment was made that it is unfortunate we can’t all be like the Greg’s of the world, to which I responded that being different is fine, as we can all choose to contribute in our own way.  Greg has dedicated his life to actually building the schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, my friend Sybille as part of her work and also as a volunteer spends time in refugee camps in third world countries teaching refugees how to use computers, and many others write checks.   Whether the volunteer time is one week or four, or the check big or small, it all adds up.  And that is what makes a difference – and it is never too late to start.

When I first read in “Three Cups of Tea” about the difference between educating a boy and educating a girl, I did not immediately fully comprehend the importance of what was being said.  Having read further, and having spent time thinking about it, I get it.  In hindsight, it seems so simple.  It does not matter whether we are talking about a small town in Ohio, a large city such as Los Angeles or a village in the mountains of Afghanistan, the role of women in our communities is undeniable.  But without education, women are denied those opportunities.

It seems clear that we can learn much from Greg Mortenson.  Many of our elected officials appear to be listening, and it is apparent our military in Afghanistan and elsewhere is listening.  Based on the reaction of those in attendance at Seattle Pacific University, members of our communities are also listening. 

In writing this, I encourage you to remember what Martin Luther King said and think about what or how you may contribute.  For starters, a few thoughts:

  • If you haven’t already done so, purchase or borrow a copy of “Three Cups of Tea”.  Read it, and I suspect you will soon be seeking a copy of “Stones to Schools”.  If you have already done so – great!
  • Many of us already support our favorite organizations.  If you don’t, find one and start today.  It does not matter whether you choose to volunteer your time at the local YMCA, tutor a student, become a Big Brother or Big Sister, or write a check.  It does not matter whether the time commitment is large or small, or the check is for few or many dollars – what matters is that you are one more person giving to those less fortunate.  Cumulatively, it does make a difference!

For more information on Greg Mortenson and his work, you may visit his website at


A few of my favorite organizations:

Windermere Foundation

Sound Experience and the Schooner Adventuress

Housing Hope

Center for Wooden Boats

Monroe/East County YMCA Invest-In-Youth

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If you are wondering what art, Snohomish, and John Denver have in common, you needed to look no further this past Saturday evening than the Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater in Snohomish.

On a whim, and having seen an article in the Herald advertising “John Denver – A Tribute Concert”, Sally and I decided to enjoy a little bit of the arts Saturday evening. I must confess – I have been a fan of John Denver most of my life, even enjoying one of his concerts at the Puyallup fair in the summer of 1986.

As anyone that had the opportunity of seeing John Denver perform, the concert in 1986 was great. His voice, the lyrics and music, and his interaction with the audience were superb. So when I saw the concert advertised this past Saturday, I called Sally and we decided to go.

The concert was presented by Bryan Stratton, a Sno-Isle library employee and John Denver fan. Not only a fan, but a fan that is blessed with a great musical talent, a great flair for story-telling, an accomplished guitarist, and an outstanding vocalist who does John Denver well.

It was definitely Bryan’s show. The stage, however was shared with Bryan’s special guests, including but by no means limited to Tim Noah and Cyndi Elliott (aka Cyndi Soup).

Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater is a non-profit organization housed in a converted church in the historic district of Snohomish. As stated on their website, the organization is dedicated to offering “children and adults a creative outlet to experience various levels of musical theater with their peers through acting, singing and dancing. Classes and performances encourage empathy, appreciation and recognition of our own and each other’s unique gifts and talents.”

Needless to say, Sally and I were impressed and we will go back!

The evening also got me thinking about local efforts to further the arts in Monroe. Over the years, we have attended various stage and musical performances in the Monroe community. I know there has been a consistent effort by the local arts community to “find a home” so that art in the community may continue to flourish. Perhaps some day we will be so fortunate to have our own version of the Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater.

Until then, and with or without our own theater, I encourage everyone to support arts in the their community by attending local performances, and if interested, getting involved. One never knows, they might be the next Bryan Stratton, Tim Noah, or even John Denver!