The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin

Tuesday, October 17

Our Local Art Exhibit - VanNess North, Washington, DC

It’s like woodworking. 

Check measurements twice and then cut. Three complete and lots of small ones yet to do. But of course, I don’t have the saw dust.

I’m huddled over my art table cutting mats for my watercolors. In less than a week, I’ll be joining 15 other artists in a Biennial Art Exhibit at VanNess North, my apartment building.

It’s a chance for artists in our building to show their works and maybe make a few sales. My sales will go in support of local charities and social justice work.

I haven’t had too many showings, so each one is exciting for me. I’ve selected three of my larger paintings for the main exhibit.

This one is entitled Just Goldfish. It evolved from one of my small paintings.

I’ve gotten into the habit of posting a watercolor on the door of my apartment. Lots of people make comment since it's on the way to our fitness center and library.

I like trying new ideas and techniques. A small goldfish turned out well and I decided to try a larger and more ambitious rendering. Here I learned a lot about tonal quality and blending colors. I think Just Goldfish captures movement and has gentle beauty.

Autumn Color is a composite from many photos. Recently, I’ve been taking loads of pictures – many more than before. My smart phone makes it’s easy. As they say, the best camera is the one you carry with you. So I click away.

Back at my art table, I sort through the photos becoming more inspired. Often I’ll combine aspects of one with another or two. When folks ask, “Where’s that from?” I say a little from reality and a lot from imagination. In the process I’m learning more about composition.

Here I emphasized color. I want to draw the viewers eye into the color both near and far. I played with reflections and gave texture to rocks and trees. My hope is that viewers will want to sit on one of those rocks and enjoy the splendor of autumn….

Who doesn’t love birch trees? 

One day I was clicking through images on Google and I found several that featured birch trees in the snow. I wondered if I could compose a painting of contrasts. Snow and shadows. “The darker the shadow and the brighter the light will be,” I thought.

Winter Shadows invites viewers to slide down the snowy hill and jump between light and shadow. Pick up a few branches of autumn color and notice the contrast on distant hills. Can you find the hint of a pathway?

In addition to the main exhibit, artists are invited to submit smaller paintings for the art bins. Many of my “door paintings” will reappear here. Here’s a sampling of those I hope to sell....


If you’re in the Washington DC area, come check out the exhibit. An opening receptions starts at 6:30 pm on Friday, October 20 and the exhibit stays open through Sunday.

Tuesday, July 4

Announcing - Leadership for Social Change

Ideas start in the mind. Along the way, many get forgotten or rejected.  But some ideas remain... growing stronger over the years until they are realized.

For me, this one started in 2011. 

I'm at the Peace Corps office in Kiev saying my goodbyes. After two years of serving in Konotop, Ukraine, I'm flying back to America tomorrow.

Jud, we're hoping that you'll record your 21 tips talk before leaving,” says Iryna, the PC training director.

My talk of practical ideas for community integration had been well received by Peace Corps Trainees. Iryna wants to use it in future trainings. Of course, I'm flattered and soon find myself sitting in front of the camera for my first ever video – 21 Tips for Community Integration.

I don't know it at the time but a new idea is forming.

Flash forward and I'm back in the Peace Corps.  This time I'm in Macedonia. Here I'm serving as an organizational development specialist helping young community leaders with management and leadership issues.

I learn a lot. I develop short in-office trainings, bi-weekly emails with “Leadership Tips”, and spend lots of hours coaching.

I don't know it at the time, but I'm organizing a body of content.

Moving into present time, I'm back in America again and missing my relationships with community leaders. I'm wondering how I can keep relationships and make new ones.

That's when the idea for a YouTube Channel crystallizes. 

 On YouTube, I can open a space for sharing and encourage community leaders in their work for positive social change.

I think to myself, “I can do this.”

But soon I discover that I can't do it alone. While I have inspiration and content, I don't have knowledge of how to make and post videos.

My son, Matthew, starts my learning process. He helps me map out a plan and shares some links for more learning. And just as importantly, his support motivates me.

Nesko and Ratomir, colleagues from Macedonia, help me solve technical problems. Other, like Sally, Bob, Fran and Barb, are a constant sources of support. When I'm about to give up, I'll talk with one of them.

Once again, I learn that ideas don't easily become reality. This one takes six years and six months.

Yet here I am on July 4th announcing a new YouTube Channel.

It's a place where community leaders can discover new ideas and adapt them into their own leadership.

I'm hoping that it will reach community leaders both in America and developing countries.

Maybe Peace Corps Volunteers and others who work with community leaders can pass-it-on.  

I won't be monetizing this project.  It's about helping others. 

So if you can, why not help me pass-it-on.    
Here's a couple of ideas to get you started.

1.  Subscribe yourself.  Leadership for Social Change. When a channel has more subscribers, it shows up more frequently on searches. 

2.  Post these links in your Social Media and tell people about Leadership for Social Change.  

By passing-it-on, you open possibilities for reaching leaders who might benefit a lot.  It's a "three degree of separation" thing.  


Thank you so much.  

Like I say in one of the videos, “We're in this life together. And we are leaders who are working for a better community at a time..

Monday, March 6

No More Anger and Fear

Since the November election in America, I've been moaning and groaning.  Like many, shock, anger and fear hung over me.  

But recently, there's begun a transition...It began happening with the Million Women March in Washington, DC.
NY Times photo

With my friends, Jan and Bruce, we're making our way to the Washington Mall. Soon we are caught up in the crowd, shoulder to shoulder.

I look around. Millennials, aging Baby Boomers, Families. Grandmothers with grandchildren. Grand fathers too. Gay families and straight couples. Veterans, Disabled, Women with pink hair and others wearing hijabs.

Jan wears her pink pussy-hat as do so many others. 

The organizers of the March had suggested that people knit these hats as a somewhat gleeful way to say “NO” to the ugliness of misogyny.

I step up on the curb to get a better look. As far as my eyes can see, crowds occupy the space from the step of the Capitol to the Washington Monument and beyond.
Maybe It's not a million, but it's more people in one place than I have ever seen and over the years I've been to more than a few marches.

Everywhere I see signs. “Love Trumps Hate; Dump Trump; Not my President.” 

Among the many jabs, there are others promoting core American values - freedom, equality, justice, and kindness to refugees.

My sign says, “No more hate and fear.” 

I didn't know it at the time, but these simple words became my harbinger for a more sustainable activism.

In the evening we make our way to All Souls Church.  About 800 of us are gathering to learn four part harmony to Leonard Cohen's Anthem. 

Candles are passed out and we perform it for one another. 

Volunteers with cam recorders circulate so that a YouTube video can be made

It's quite inspiring. 

Take a moment to see and listen for yourself.

(For a second 1:10, my friend Sally and I are on the stairs in a human chain from historic bell to singers below) 

The March activities are soon over and there's a nagging question. Now what? 

I continue attending All Souls. Along with so many others, we are discussing next steps and trying to figure it out.  I know we are not alone. The same kind of discussions are happening across the Nation.  

One Sunday the minister says with such a big bully in the White House, we need an even bigger love for one another. This begins a discussion about resistance.

Resistance is what you do when faith is tested by the “principalities and powers” of this world, says our minister. It's a response to core values being assaulted. 

It's a relentless effort to meet false tweets with truthfulness; intolerance with understanding; and hate with love.

Another Sunday, the minister gives some guidance for those, like me, who are struggling to find our way during these difficult times. She outlines five tips for resistance.

1.Seek some form of spiritual practice. “We need it to sustain us.” It's not that everyone should sit in a circle humming Kumbaya. No, there are many ways to develop spiritual practice. Find your own way to become more nourished in love for others and connected to God, the source of all being.

2. Take seriously what is being said by the “principalities and powers”. Recently Bannon, chief strategist for the administration, said, If you look at these Cabinet nominees, they were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.” Deconstruction of agencies and institutions?

Does that mean no more civil rights enforcement by the Justice Department; and no more clean water regulations by the EPA; and no more safety in food and drugs because the FDA has been deconstructed.

Is it the deconstruction of the Peace Corps too? Agricultural Department; Labor Department; Medicaid; Veteran Affairs and more? 

Pay attention. Amidst the clowning and tweeting distractions, they’re saying what they intend to do.

3. Stay close to the ones being marginalized. Some of us are fortunate enough to know people who are immigrants, green card holders, Muslim, Black, transgendered or other likely targets. 

What's our plan for supporting them if and when (we all hope never) their time comes?

All Souls and many churches are taking steps to become Sanctuary Churches. 

You can read more about it here in the Washington City Paper. 

People are organizing and preparing just in case. I begin thinking is there something I could be doing?

4. Be positive in our approach. Many Americans are struggling to understand the chaos since Inauguration Day no mater who they voted for. The minister reminds us “to keep kindness in our resistance.” 

As Martin Luther King practiced and St. Paul wrote, “Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) For me that means letting go of post election anger and fear.

5. Be relentless in our resistance. This is not a time to give up on democracy or a nation we love. 

I was so proud to be an American while serving in the US Peace Corps.  For two years in Ukraine and and another year in Macedonia, I served my Country. When I worked with people, I could tell that they respected America. But now?

It's not a time to destroy the social progress of the past decades. Immigrants and refugees are human sisters and brothers and children. It's not a time to compromise away bed-rock values.  Human rights belong to all.

We have a constitution, institutions and the rule of law. It matters.

A statue lifts a lighted torch over New York's harbor and speaks to me, America and the heart of humanity -

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

With the help of others, I'm looking for ways to support values that are true and dear to my heart. I've joined a new public policy and witness group at Church. Another group is working on voting rights. I'm attending their meetings too.

Whatever emerges, I realize that it's time for more justice work. No more moaning and groaning.  No more anger and fear. 

As Henry David Thoreau once said and still says to us, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” 

I guess it's time to get walking...again.