All posts by jgerber123

I teach sustainable food and farming at the University of Massachusetts and try to contribute to my local community without causing too much harm....

Gleanings from “Widening the Circle”

The following is personal exploration into the first few chapters of the text, Widening the Circle of Concern: Report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change – June 2020.

This text is available free as a pdf. The following notes represent my own gleanings of statements that seemed important to me. Direct quotes from the text are indicated with quote markings. Other statements are adapted or paraphrased.

NOTE to the UUSA Board of Trustees…. I wonder if it might be useful to share these quotes in the weekly UUSA Newsletter, as proposed at the most recent Board meeting?

Gleanings from Preface

“Addressing the perennial problem of race in Unitarian Universalism is not broadly seen as a theological mandate.”

We need new definitions of multicultural competency for religious leaders (including lay leadership).

“Too few white people are engaged in intentional anti-oppression work.”

We need to articulate what a liberation theology could look like for UU’s.

Continue reading Gleanings from “Widening the Circle”

Was it cultural appropriation?

Boston Globe Front Page Story: November 21, 2021

She submitted a print featuring Indigenous ‘ghosts.’ He called it ‘genocide art.’ She claimed it was a white person acknowledging the pain caused by colonialism. Who is right?

Doris Madsen held her artwork “400 Years Later, no. 4” in Northampton. Artist and poet Jason Montgomery objected to the inclusion of Madsen's work in a popular juried show at the local library.
Doris Madsen held her artwork “400 Years Later, no. 4” in Northampton. Artist and poet Jason Montgomery objected to the inclusion of Madsen’s work in a popular juried show at the local library.ERIN CLARK/GLOBE STAFF

NORTHAMPTON — When members of this city’s arts council logged into a meeting in late September, few could have imagined a retired librarian’s artwork was about to torpedo their upcoming biennial, a popular juried show at the local library.

But then artist Jason Montgomery joined the meeting to voice his concerns about the upcoming exhibition, which was to showcase work by scores of artists from the four counties of Western Massachusetts. Montgomery, who is of Chicano and Indigenous descent, said he was particularly concerned about a print by Doris Madsen, whose work “400 Years Later, no. 4” portrays the Mayflower as it floats through a fog of spectral figures she’d previously described as Indigenous “ghosts.”

Continue reading Was it cultural appropriation?

Is it time to disown Lord Jeffrey Amherst?

Who exactly was Jeffery Amherst? (Joshua Reynolds)

Lord Jeffrey Amherst was a highly decorated military man and an advocate of biological warfare against Indigenous people

Extracted from Jordan Gill · CBC News · Posted: Apr 29, 2017

As an initiative to change the name of Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site on Prince Edwards Island in Canada. is being debated, a researcher weighs in on the history of Jeffery Amherst.

Mi’kmaq elders and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. have raised questions about the honouring of Amherst, by naming sites after him — arguing he was not only an enemy of Indigenous people, but worse.

To say Amherst was a decorated military man would be an understatement. He was a Field Marshal in the British Army. He served during the Seven Years’ War in New France or modern day Nova Scotia. He also held the offices of Governor of Quebec as well as Crown Governor of Virginia and was named a Lord.

But scholars have long debated Amherst’s actions during his service, including allegations he advocated the use of biological warfare, through smallpox blankets, to kill Indigenous peoples.

See an example of a scholarly document here.

Continue reading Is it time to disown Lord Jeffrey Amherst?

Our Sharing garden

There is a garden where you are welcome to come and sit, walk, meditate, pick blueberries when they are ready, cut flowers in season, and bring your kids to see the chickens…..

The entrance to the garden is through a gate between 132 and 158 Rolling Ridge Rd., right next to the walking path between Harlow and Rolling Ridge. This almost one acre garden produced vegetables, chickens and turkeys for my family for many years. Now that I am living alone, I would like to share the garden with neighbors.

Anytime the gate is open, you are welcome to come in and explore.

This garden is currently under development as I have done very little there for the past few years. I asked an ecological landscape designer to give me some advice and they produced a map as a guide to development, which will likely take several years.

I am not following the design exactly, but this gives you an idea of what it might be like someday.

This project is related to a study I did on our neighborhood last winter that may be seen here:

If you would like to be on an email list to receive notice when something is ready to pick, please send me a note at

Welcome to the sharing garden……

remembering phyl – One year later

THANKS to everyone who joined us on June 13, 2021  to remember and celebrate Phyl’s life, around the date of her Yahrzeit (the anniversary of her passing) at Look Park in Northampton, MA.

Here’s a video from the event.


If you are in Amherst, you are also invited to visit the gravesite on your own at any time. The grave is at the Wildwood Cemetery at 70 Strong St. in Amherst, MA. It is the only rose/pink granite stone at the far, north end of the cemetery. Here is a map….

Wildwood Cemetery, Amherst MA

And for those of you who live nearby…. the deck is open! You are invited to stop by to visit me…. and talk about Phyl, your pain and sadness, your happy memories, your love for her. And I’ll tell you about our grandkids! Be sure and text or call to make sure I’m home (413-687-7798)

Join me on the deck to remember Phyl…. please stop by!

Finally, you are also invited to help us with our final fundraiser for the Massachusetts Chapter of the ALS Association in memory of Phyl. The money that we raise will go towards a mission that Phyl cared about deeply – a world without ALS.  If you can, please donate!

Our last ALS Fundraiser in Phyl’s name

By the way, the ALS Association told us that Phyl-in-Tropics (which was the number one fundraising team in Massachusetts in 2019) has raised over $60,000 to support research and care services for ALS over the past few years. Phyl would be very proud of this work.

For the full story of Phyl’s illness, go to:

Her smile…..

Professionalism: 11 Important Workplace Qualities

The following article is taken from a web page called “FairyGodBoss”, a resource for women in the workplace offering advice on how to be successful. It offers interesting advice and tips on professional behavior, regardless of gender identity. Original Post


Professionalism is pivotal to career success, a recent study on Career Readiness conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found, with 97.5% of employers who responded calling it absolutely essential or essential. The workplace has certainly changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean professionalism is any less important.

What is career professionalism? 

Being professional might mean a variety of things, from how you dress at work to how you perform. Mastering professionalism at work is vital for success and happiness on the job. Contrary to what some believe, true professionalism in the workplace is not restricted to any industry. Whether you’re a waitress working a part-time job or a lawyer making six-figures, you need to practice professional behavior and be hard working. There are certain standards of professional conduct, and not meeting them could make or break your future at a company.

Continue reading Professionalism: 11 Important Workplace Qualities

britons are happiest when drinking tea, survey claims

After a lonely and separated 2020 due to COVID, Britons reported feeling most content when spending time with loved ones, having a cup of tea,  and sleeping, a survey has found.

Others feel content when laughing, having a clean and tidy house and spending time with their furry friends. 

Tucking into baked goods, having dinner cooking in the oven and simply finishing work on time also feature in the top 50 list. It also emerged more than half of those polled admitted to needing comfort more than ever this year, with many  feeling that the last 12 months have been mentally tough. 

Paulina Gorska, from Schulstad Bakery Solutions, which commissioned the research, said: “This year has been one of the hardest many of us have ever faced.

And in a time of turmoil and uncertainty, we turn to comfort and want to spend time doing things which leave us feeling content, happy and able to forget about the real world for a little bit.”

Psychologist and author of The Little Book of Happiness, Miriam Akhtar, said: “This survey reflects what we have seen over the course of the pandemic.

“When stress levels rise, people’s need for a sense of peace grows and we return to the simple, meaningful activities of life like hanging out with loved ones or engaging in absorbing hobbies and crafts.”

Your personal diversity and inclusion statement

As one of the assignments in STOCKSCH 382 – Professional Development in Sustainable Food and Farming, students are asked to write a Personal Diversity and Inclusion paragraph. This is becoming more common among employers as part of a routine job application package. This blog will help you to create your own D & I statement.

Why write a Diversity and Inclusion Statement

Writing a Diversity and Inclusion Statement of your own allows you to clarify your own thinking with respect to these issues in your life and in the work place or school.  Many employers are now requiring such a statement as part of a routine job application process.  In addition, you may find yourself on a team some day where your workplace is trying to create such a statement.  This is good practice! 

Continue reading Your personal diversity and inclusion statement

Why so many epidemics originate in Asia and Africa – and why we can expect more

Author: Suresh V. Kuchipudi

Clinical Professor and Associate Director of Animal Diagnostic Laboratory, Penn State – March 4, 2020

The coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19, is a frightening reminder of the imminent global threat posed by emerging infectious diseases. Although epidemics have arisen during all of human history, they now seem to be on the rise. In just the past 20 years, coronaviruses alone have caused three major outbreaks worldwide. Even more troubling, the duration between these three pandemics has gotten shorter.

I am a virologist and associate director of the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory at Penn State University, and my laboratory studies zoonotic viruses, those that jump from animals and infect people. Most of the pandemics have at least one thing in common: They began their deadly work in Asia or Africa. The reasons why may surprise you.

Continue reading Why so many epidemics originate in Asia and Africa – and why we can expect more