Friday, May 31, 2019

Sacred Sites Update--Howland Stone Store Museum--OPen House June 1, 1-4

The following is my post from LIfe in the Finger Lakes. The Howland Stone Store is listed as a sacred site in Sacred Sites in North Star Country: Places in Greater New York State (PA, OH ,NJ,CT,MA, VT,ONT) That Changed the World


Saturday’s Open House is a chance to experience a noteworthy spirit in the history of the Finger Lakes and meet those looking to keep that spirit alive.

One of the Finger Lakes’ prominent Underground Railroad sites, the Howland Stone Store Museum in Sherwood (Aurora) will be having an Open House this Saturday, June 1, 2019, from 1 to 4PM. Visitor’s will not only have a chance to peruse the Stone Store but also get an early glimpse of how the restoration of the Opendore home is progressing.
Slocum Howland (1794-1881) was a business man and lawyer that was part of a vibrant Quaker community in the Aurora area. He built the store in Sherwood in 1837.
Slocum was an ardent social reformer and conductor on the Underground Railroad. His business of buying and selling goods afforded him the opportunity to transport Freedom Seekers on the Underground Railroad; it also provided him with the means to help people settle in the Sherwood area. Two of the better known Freedom Seekers to remain were Herman and Hannah Phillips who had three sons serve in the Civil War.
It is believed that passengers on the Underground Railroad would stay in the cellar of the store, or at one of the other buildings that the Howlands owned. There were also many other Quaker homes available nearby. The hamlet of Sherwood is listed on the National Register of Historic places because of its advocacy for social reform.
Slocum’s daughter Emily (1827-1929) actively involved with Women’s Rights and with the education of African Americans. She was also a major benefactor to those efforts. It is believed that she funded over forty schools across America, the majority focused on the education of African Americans. Visit to learn more.

The Opendore Project

The Opendore House a few houses north of the Stone Store Museum was purchased by Slocum Howland’s son William (1826-1905) in 1853 who had married Hannah Letchworth. Upon their death it was transferred to their daughter Isabel (1859-1942.)
Isabel embraced the Howland family tradition of social reform. She was an important figure in Women’s Suffrage, serving as the President of New York State Woman Suffrage Association at least once. The National American Woman Suffrage Association honored her on several occasions. To learn more, visit

The Museum

In 1988 the Friends of the Howland Stone Store reached an agreement to purchase the store from Cayuga County with the formal transfer in 1991. In 2008 Cayuga County offered the Opendore House to the Howland Stone Store Museum for payment of back taxes.
It is expected the Opendore house restoration will be completed by next year.
The Howland Stone Store has many Women’s Rights posters. There is also an Underground Railroad Pass carried by two Freedom Seekers who came the Slocum’s store in 1840. Upstairs is the “Cabinet of Curiosities” that contains memorabilia and artifacts purchased by the Howlands during their trips around the world.
The Opendore home is under restoration, but the drywall is up and you can see the rooms. The once extensive gardens only have some walls and walkways up. More is planned.
The Howland Stone Store Museum is located at 2956 State Route 34B, Hamlet of Sherwood, NY. Phone, 315-345-3210, or 315-364-8158.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Robins are Back

The following is my blog post to Life in the Finger Lakes.

For the last few years a pair of Robins has been nesting in my yard. While that’s not unusual, the fact that they have been doing so in the same place is; above the floodlight in the patio of my backyard.

I don’t believe that it’s the same pair of Robins, but are most likely from an extended brood. In other words, descendants from that first pair and their descendants who also nested above my floodlight keep coming back.  That said Robins can live to be fourteen years old. Although the mortality rate is high. Cornell estimates that only forty percent of nesting birds produce young robins and that the population of robins turns over every six years. 

The Robins usually come in May. But last year they came late in June. When they had not arrived by Memorial Day I thought that the trend was broken. The NYS DEC says that Robin’s nest from March to July in upstate New York and have two, to three broods. 

Back in 2016 there were pairs of Robins nested in both my front and back yards at the same time. The nest in the front yard was above the light on my front steps. When I realized that Robins had made their nest there I left them alone. The only disturbance was a daily visit by the mailman.

The most challenging time is the Nestling period when the chicks have hatched and have not left the nest. I have two dogs and am always concerned that they may harm the young Robins that have left the nest and still can’t fly and are wandering around the yard. So I always check the yard first before I let them out during the Nestling period. There is also the concern that a neighbors’ cat may get to them.

Two years ago the young Robin’s bolted quickly. One jumped out way too soon and I put it back. The next day the robin left again. Within a day the others were gone as well. One year a Robin stayed in the nest and seemed not interested in leaving. But then I guess hunger got to the Robin.

Robins are loved around the world and there are many tales associated with them. One holds that the Robin’s redbreast comes from the blood of Jesus whom a Robin visited while he was dying on the cross. Several drops of blood from Jesus’ crown fell upon the Robin’s breast and no matter how hard the Robin tried to wash it off it never could. 

I regret that I did not take more pictures of the Robins over the years. I have kept a few of the nests. I take a nest down not long after the robins have left. Sadly nests often contain the accouterments of our modern society such as pieces of plastic.

Patterns and habits are a funny thing. Most of us look forward to seeing Robins in the spring thinking that spring has sprung. To me it is wondering if a pair of Robins will return and nest above the flood light in patio. Some may think that some sort of imprint or memory lingers above the floodlight in patio, or a young Robin’s memory of nesting there is behind this phenomenon. All I know is that the Robins are back.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Tubman Nixed from the $20 Bill

The petty and prejudiced Trump administration nixed the picture of Harriet Tubman for the $20 bill. Postponing it until 2028 citing security concerns. What bull. This is purely a political and petty action. Shame on you Donnie.

Harriet Tubman is an American hero. Known for her courageous work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. She was also an ardent Women's Rights Activist and patron for Senior citizens building a Senior's home in Auburn, NY.

Harriet's home is located down the street from the William Seward home in Auburn, NY. Both contain Fields of Consciousness and are listed as sacred sites in my book Sacred Sites in North Star Country: Places in Greater New York State (PA,OH,NJ,CT,MA,VT,ONT) That Changed the World

The three objects mark the high points of a a Field of Consciousness in the front yard of Harriet Tubman's home.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Robins Eggs Finally Hatched

Robins have returned to nest above the floodlight of the patio in my backyard. I believe that this is the fourth year this has happened. You can see some of the pictures, I did not take pictures every year, by clicking ROBINS.

I will post an article with a link to the article I wrote for Life in Finger Lakes about this in few days.

This more I was happy to learn that the eggs did hatch. I was concerned because the mother Robin has been nesting for three years.

The question is whether the Robins are the same pair, part of an extended family of the first pair or were drawn by an imprint forged over years. We leave an impression of all that we think and do at a place. If we feed with the same pattern of behavior the influence of the imprint becomes stronger.

Some pictures from Sunday.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Letter on Violence

My friend and spiritual leader Ralph Singh who has been leading prayers and talking at our vigils at the Peacemaker's Sanctuary after mass shootings had a Letter to the Editor published today in the Syracuse Post Standard.

We must vaccinate our children against hate (Commentary)

Ralph Singh, of Elbridge, is chair of Wisdom Thinkers Network. The nonprofit creates training workshops for schools, religious educators and corporations to use stories in developing a more compassionate, inclusive and ethical culture. 
In this Oct. 3, 2017, file photo, Ralph Singh speaks at a sunset candlelight vigil held along Onondaga Lake's West Shore for victims of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Singh writes in response to recent shootings at schools and houses of worship. (Michael Greenlar |

By Ralph Singh | Special to
Following 9/11, people came together in solidarity, not simply to stand together, but to pledge that hatred and fear could not tear this nation apart. No doubt the focus was that the fabric and resiliency of our great Union was stronger than any external terrorist threat – existential or real. But what we didn’t recognize and are still not willing to come to grips with, is the enemy from within. The hatred and fear that continues to gain momentum, not just in our country but around the world. For once given air, once allowed to see the light of day, its power grows exponentially. Even more basic, is the need to control the anger and hatred that lies within each of us.
I spoke as part of the post-9/11 memorial in Clinton Square, and at another in Fulton, calling forth the light in each of us to overcome the darkness, and I was among the first group of spiritual leaders who prayed together on the wooden “bridge” that was extended next to Trinity Church overlooking the gaping hole that had been the World Trade Center. The air was heavy not simply with the dust which still clogged the streets and fogged the night air, but with the souls of the martyrs.
They were crying out: “Is it enough? Was our martyrdom enough to stop the hatred and war?”
The answer came “Yes!” But there was a condition: that we, the living, not forget – and stand against hatred. It seems we are not living up to our part.
But the attack also triggered a string of hate crimes, killings and arsons, which continue to today. Sikhs with our distinguishing turbans and beards were made the first visible target. Gobind Sadan, USA, our spiritual center in Palermo, N.Y., was the first victim of an arson attack on a house of worship in the country following 9/11. Four teens got drunk and torched the place, but instead of hatred, we responded with a powerful prayer of forgiveness from H.H. Baba Virsa Singh ji and embraced the teens as part of our family. They wrote to us from prison, “If only we’d known your story, we never would have done this.” To this day, some say that our response transformed their lives. And it brought the broader community together in love to transcend the darkness. Strangers were calling, “This is not the America I fought for.” We are with you.
It is out of that attack that the seeds of Wisdom Thinkers were sown.

Hate and its derivative, fear, have always smoldered beneath the surface. It erupts from time to time whenever and wherever it gets air. So while spiritually we can forgive and embrace others, we cannot allow hatred in whatever form to be given free reign. We have created the climate for hatred to breed and it has become rampant.
The hatred and intolerance contained in what is termed the white supremacy movement is undeniable. It cannot be ignored. And it is incumbent on our leaders from the top down – not only to condemn it, but to take the necessary steps to curtail it. All people should be welcome, as long as they leave their hatred at the door.
While the measles outbreak has garnered well-deserved attention as a major threat to public health, how do we vaccinate our children and others against hate? It is my firm conviction, that sharing each other’s stories and gathering to love our neighbors, no matter where they are from or what they look like, provides some simple first steps.
Wisdom Thinkers and wisdom thinkers of all ages have always called on humanity to rise above our baser instincts and forge a path to peace. Let us all follow that story.

Monday, May 6, 2019

IPBES--One Million Species Face Extinction

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’
Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

Current global response insufficient;
‘Transformative changes’ needed to restore and protect nature;
Opposition from vested interests can be overcome for public good

Most comprehensive assessment of its kind;
1,000,000 species threatened with extinction

The Report notes that, since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius – with climate change already impacting nature from the level of ecosystems to that of genetics – impacts expected to increase over the coming decades, in some cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and other drivers.

Despite progress to conserve nature and implement policies, the Report also finds that global goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors. With good progress on components of only four of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, it is likely that most will be missed by the 2020 deadline. Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems will undermine progress towards 80% (35 out of 44) of the assessed targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, related to poverty, hunger, health, water, cities, climate, oceans and land (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 13, 14 and 15). Loss of biodiversity is therefore shown to be not only an environmental issue, but also a developmental, economic, security, social and moral issue as well.

“To better understand and, more importantly, to address the main causes of damage to biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people, we need to understand the history and global interconnection of complex demographic and economic indirect drivers of change, as well as the social values that underpin them,” said Prof. Brondízio. “Key indirect drivers include increased population and per capita consumption; technological innovation, which in some cases has lowered and in other cases increased the damage to nature; and, critically, issues of governance and accountability. A pattern that emerges is one of global interconnectivity and ‘telecoupling’ – with resource extraction and production often occurring in one part of the world to satisfy the needs of distant consumers in other regions.”

Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. On average these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.
More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.
The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300% since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45% and approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and nonrenewable resources are now extracted globally every year – having nearly doubled since 1980.
Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of the global land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.
In 2015, 33% of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% were maximally sustainably fished, with just 7% harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished.
Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.
Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones’, totalling more than 245,000 km2 (591-595) - a combined area greater than that of the United Kingdom.
Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the Report, except those that include transformative change – due to the projected impacts of increasing land-use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change, although with significant differences between regions.