Old Chatham Friends Meetinghouse
539 County Rt. 13
Old Chatham, NY 12136
November 15, 2015
A memorial service for Ellen Flanders, a long-time member of both Old Chatham and Albany Monthly Meetings, will be held on Sunday, November 15, 2015 (see above). People are asked to bring finger foods that do not require cooking or heating, for a Friendly potluck after the service. Please do not bring beverages containing alcohol. There will be music and recordings that were meaningful to Ellen, as well as photo exhibits of events in her life.
Ellen was raised as an atheist, but came to Quakerism during the Viet Nam War, hoping to find like-minded people. She and her son first joined Old Chatham Meeting, and she stated then that she felt she had finally "come home." She came to Albany Friends Meeting to take part in the Sanctuary Movement for Central American refugees. She then became heavily involved in the Alternatives to Violence Project in the prison system, and was a founding member of this valuable group. She was very supportive of the Pro-Life Movement, and spoke out against abortion. She was opposed to the death penalty, and worked hard to bring this issue to the forefront of the political scene. Ellen played the violin and sang, in her beautiful voice, at many Quaker events and gatherings. We hope that many will attend her memorial service, not only to honor her memory, but also to express our gratitude for her activism, which has done so much good for so many people.
Auburn Prison workshop, 1975.
Second AVP workshop ever.
Left to right: Ellen Lindop, Janet Lugo,
Bernard Lafayette, Helen Stabler, Gary Eikenberry, Larry Apsey.
From Ellen, in her own words:
At the request of Albany Friends, Ellen recorded herself speaking about her work with AVP. A transcription is included in our
Spring, 2011 newsletter, p. 4
From Faithful Fred Feucht:
I first met Ellen at the AVP New York Annual Meeting in 1983. Ellen and Janet Lugo were inseparable and they were the core of the Education Committee. At first these two heavyset ladies seemed like rather frightening and formidable women to me. But in time I got to know them and appreciate them. I learned to love them.
Ellen and Janet were two of the founders of the AVP program. They organized the second AVP workshop. (The first was in Green Haven Prison, the second in Auburn Prison, both in 1975.) Ellen helped the program evolve from a series of talks and simple role plays to the introduction of a series of experiential exercises and other new material that makes the program that it is today.
When I joined the Education Committee in about 1985, they were working on the second edition of the Basic Manual and the revised Basic Manual was published in 1986. The next project was to revise the Advanced Manual. At that time, the Education Committee Team was Ellen Flanders, Janet Lugo, Nancy Nothhelfer, Allison Dench, Mary Gray Legg, Marge Zybas, Joe Paquette and myself. We met once a month at Nancy Nothhelfer's house in Greenwich, CT.
I remember Sunday evenings sitting in front of the blazing fireplace at the Nothhelfer home. The Education Committee was the heart of AVP at that time. Ideas flew around like a swarm of bees, papers littered the floor like snowflakes and the committee was like a herd of cats. The chief herder and clerk was Ellen Flanders. We workshopped together and shared ideas. We created exercises, built agendas, wrote copy and edited manuals.
Janet Lugo was an excellent copy editor. She worked as a layout person and typesetter for Time Magazine in New York City. Since Time came out on Monday, Janet was very busy on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. However, she had free time on Monday and Tuesday and she was able to typeset the Basic and Advanced Manuals at Time Magazine.
To read more of Fred's piece on the Education Committee, click
From Amazing Grace McGrath:
Ellen Flanders and Janet Lugo were very important to me in my early years of AVP in the 80's. After taking the Training for Facilitators workshop with Steve Angell in Massachusetts, I struggled with how to start a program near my home.
I went to New York Yearly Meeting's Summer Sessions at Silver Bay and wondered around until I saw a woman with the name tag "Janet Lugo" which I recognized from the manual. After I spoke to her, she went to find Ellen and the three of us had a long conversation.
Both were helpful to me in co-facilitating community workshops and T4Fs so that I could get a group of facilitators for the program at Washington Prison. Both also facilitated at Washington with me many times, mentoring me.
Ellen brought a depth of experience, having been present at the second-ever AVP workshop. She spoke of wanting to get involved after seeing the disrespectful way that the police treated young men.
She, Janet and I served together for many years on the Education committee, along with many others. I learned much from them as they were among the people who wrote the original manuals.
Ellen was a force to be reckoned with, especially in response to people abusing their authority. At the AVP Conference at a college in Oxford, England in 2000, we were told that breakfast was served from 8 to 9. The staff was used to hungry students who obediently showed up at 8. Ellen showed up at 8:45 and was told breakfast was over. Oh dear, the staff didn't hear the end of it when she demanded to be served some kind of breakfast.
I also heard her at times supporting someone who was taking a position that went contrary to the general feeling in the group. "This person is supporting his own conscience," she said, which was the end of the story.
I think often of the gentle and loving way she cared for and supported her friend Janet at the end of Janet's life when her dementia was becoming more problematic, a wonderful model for all of us. And of course, anyone who has ever heard Ellen sing one of her "story" songs with their endless verses will never forget it.
From Thoughtful Tom Martin:
At various prisons Ellen visited for workshops she was sensitive to how hard a Correctional Officer's job was. However she reminded them in careful and direct words, "As a taxpayer I pay your salary."
Ellen encouraged the AVP Board Council to invite the inside AVPers to participate in deliberations even though they were still behind bars and to lay over some decisions until they could be consulted.
She told us that at the early workshops COs were invited and allowed to be in our circles. If not directly in the Circle they would often be in the room, and clearly within earshot.
When she served on the Board Council, she was particularly faithful and was present for every meeting. We counted on and frequently sought her guidance. If there were a concern about who made decisions of the Board Council and how they were made, she counseled, "All those AVPers present are empowered to make the decisions." Since our corporate bylaws required a quorum, we were careful to assure and to minute a quorum of members present first. Then we sought the sense of the meeting of all those present in the Circle for decision making.
Wow, what a woman she was, our Earth Mother.
From Peaceful Pat Beetle:
Ellen facilitated one of my first AVP workshops in the early 80's. In addition to the totally new experience for me, I remember particularly that she shared with the group some of her own dilemmas in dealing with the attitudes of her own teenagers. Also for a young man who couldn't bring himself to be part of the group, she suggested that he go back to the dorm and sort out what was bothering him and come back the next day which he did, settled in with the group and completed the workshop.
Ellen and Janet were an awesome combo over the years. The Education Committee did some amazing work with their guidance and perseverance. Ellen was very supportive of Janet as she lost ground toward the end. It's hard to say where AVP would be today without Ellen's energy and steady hand in the early days.
From Mary Eagleson:
Ellen was always interested in how our adopted twins were doing. She met them the few times we took them to Silver Bay, in their young teen years, and afterwards whenever we met, she'd ask how they were doing.
From Simply Susan Wolf:
I met Ellen Flanders at New York Yearly Meeting's Summer Sessions. She looked to be a formidable person. She was tall and large, though a bit bent over with age. She would stride across the Silver Bay campus, intent on her direction, and she looked most unapproachable. I was in awe of her.
Then one evening, at Cafe Night, she took the stage holding an autoharp. She announced, in a voice filled with fun, that this autoharp was her "newest little musical toy." She launched into a song, strumming the autoharp, and clearly having the time of her life.
I later knew her as part of the band that played for contra dances. Like me, she played the fiddle. So I found that Ellen was one of the loveliest people, and most approachable after all.
It wasn't until my first AVP gathering that I discovered Earthmother Ellen was one of the people who helped create the AVP program and make it the success it is today.
She will truly be missed.