Good morning, and happy 11th day of March - here's my monthly newsletter, The Eleven - welcome long-time readers and new folks!  


Service is on my mind lately. It's something I've been thinking about and doing for years and I thought I'd share some of my thinking on this important topic. I think the greatest teacher I ever had on Service was Jamshed Storer, a friend and mentor who lived for many years at Breitenbush. Jamshed led many of the "service weeks" I participated in over the years. These were times where we'd discuss service in the morning and then clean cabins, move rocks, shovel snow, and do any other labor that needed doing. The work jived well with my upbringing in Habonim, a labor zionist youth group - where I spent summers at Camp Galil in Ottsville, PA and the mornings included an hour of "Avodah" - hebrew, for Work. 


Our capitalist economic system encourages us all to work within the system for pay as our reward. Service has a hard time getting peoples' attention and seeming like something good to do for its' own sake. Some of the service I'm attracted to is community work that leads to a lot of great benefits for all concerned, including me. Something like the tree planting that we had last weekend in my neighborhood leads to - a day spent with neighbors getting to know one another; a more beautiful neighborhood; a chance for young and old to learn new skills; an opportunity for people unable to do the hard work of digging holes other ways to give - serving food, welcoming participants or performing music to entertain everyone. a planting event looks and feels a lot different from work that I do for pay - there is a lot more joy, the age range is much wider and the participants are a greater reflection of society's make-up overall - racially, class-wise, gender-wise, etc.  More pics here.

young people serving

I realized during the tree-planting on Saturday that I have been organizing and participating in activities like this since I moved to Seattle in 1995. Perhaps it's helped build my character. I know it's led to more beautiful neighborhoods (and forests). I often think of Karl Marx's axiom that when you add labor to something it makes it yours. Perhaps it's also why I encourage people to show up early to parties - to help the host, but also to take more ownership of one's experience. 


An opportunity for service on the horizon!


One of the things that makes Portland so Portlanderrific is the place-making that's been going on here for years - led by The City Repair Project.  When you see an intersection that's been beautifully painted in a colorful spiral or a cob bench or other structure, that's likely the work of City Repair. City Repair's main event where all of this happens is the Village Building Convergence and this year it's May 24th to June 2nd.  If the idea of service sounds exciting to you, this is an event that I'd recommend. You can learn new skills from leaders in the permaculture world; make some new friends; and continue making Portland an interesting, colorful and fun place to live. There is also a program for anyone coming from out of town - home-stays, project work for the whole week and tons of instruction. Write me if you'd like more information.

vbcI hope this has inspired you to think more about service and your relationship to it. I've only touched the surface of service - of course there are many more ways to serve and reasons to, as well.  My sense is that it's a key wedge in ending our isolation from one another and breaking capitalism's stranglehold on our time and energy. Please help me celebrate those who serve the community and join in when you can. And, if you serve infrequently, I encourage you to take a look at that. I'd be happy to help you find a way to serve that works for you. If you have a story of your own service, please share it with me, I'd love to hear it.


My next Facebook class is this Friday @ 10am. If you are curious how to make better use of Facebook, please join me.  I also had my first Constant Contact presentation last Friday and it went very well. I'm looking forward to doing more of those. If you'd like to be kept informed about that side of my work - please go down below, click on "update profile/email address" and add yourself to my "client" list.  


I'm continually amazed at the world we live in. The flowers and trees are all starting to bud out here and the daphnae are blooming and filling the air with a wonderful fragrance. 


Have a great Winter => Spring,




Albert Kaufman

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Village Building Convergence 2011 - Maze of Love

Albert Kaufman
Portland, Oregon  | 503-358-0029 |
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