Interviewsand Articles


Random Treasures

by Richard Whittaker, Mar 11, 2013



Welcome to issue #26 a small collection of random treasures. We begin with an introduction to Combat Paper. What’s that? From uniform to pulp; from battlefield to workshop; from warrior to artist—in a radical new version of “swords into ploughshares,” papermakers Drew Cameron, an Iraq veteran, and Drew Matott, an activist artist, have taught 100s of war veterans to slice up their combat uniforms and to transform them into paper. Papermaking is an art of transformation, but this takes the transformation of papermaking into new territory. Barbara Gates, editor of the Buddhist magazine Inquiring Mind, introduces us to the founders of Combat Paper and to the inspiring work they are doing.

    From there we leap to what Donald Schell calls “paperless singing.” Meet the rector of San Francisco’s St. Gregory of Nyssa Church on Potrero Hill who talks with Mary Stein about the risk of singing in person with others face to face without the safety of a crib sheet. What happens when we give ourselves over to that deep impulse to express ourselves in song this way with others? As Donald Schell puts it, “something actually happens in the space between us. It’s a form of communication that not only makes communication possible, but makes us possible.”

     Making another abrupt turn, we arrive at “Regarding Fencelines,” a conversation with photographer Eric Klatt about his book of photographs of the same name. His book is a strangely beautiful visual meditation on the ways we keep ourselves separate. As he says, I don’t know a lot of my neighbors and haven’t for years. Looking at his photos, he observes, the more you look at the images, the more you begin to see that there are many degrees of exclusion. We seem to fall prey to our tendency to isolate ourselves in other ways as well. Even without the photos this is a fascinating conversation.

      It would be hard to guess that next in line would be an interview with an aikido master, Jimmy Friedman. But the same Mary Stein who talks with Donald Schell above is also an aikidoist of over thirty years. Here’s just a small sample of the down-to-earth wisdom Friedman has to offer, “For me it comes down to the idea that you cannot have love in your mind and fear in your mind at the same time. Or love in your mind and hate in your mind at the same time. I have both of those in me, God knows, but I can't simultaneously be having compassion and love toward someone and also fear and hate. I tend to keep it very down to earth. All these thoughts are only momentary, after all.” 

     And finally, here’s something very different from all of the above, two poems from the cloud. What could that mean? I hope this piques your curiosity. Take a look at these. I think you’ll agree they’re a hard-to-define, but special treat.

About the Author

Richard Whittaker is the founder of works & conversations magazine.


A Man Impossible to Classify photo: r. whittaker One of my first experiences in San Francisco ... Read More 748903 views

The Dumpster       “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 161408 views

Say Grace I am deeply delighted to live on a planet that is so big and varied that I can ... Read More 12838 views

Cotton and Silk Vorbeck quilt, detail I’m working on the last panel of a pair of ... Read More 14257 views

A Conversation with Silas Hagerty photo: r. whittaker I met Silas, a young man in his twenties ... Read More 85447 views


A Man Impossible to Classify photo: r. whittaker One of my first experiences in San Francisco ... Read More 748903 views

Interview with Bill Douglass - Jimbo's Bop City and Other Tales At the time I'd first gotten to know the widely respected ... Read More 370786 views

Greeting the Light It was thanks to artist Walter Gabrielson that I was able to get ... Read More 325137 views

Interview: Gail Needleman Gail Needleman taught music at Holy Names University in Oakland, ... Read More 196462 views

The Dumpster       “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 161408 views