Blue Sky

March, fickle, left last night.

She blew a kiss and was gone.

I’ll love her still though   — ava wood

 

(And ya know what that means…National Poetry Month is here  :~)

Poem, Day 1

‘The Face That Launched a Thousand Days’

On the last day of Women’s History Month, it’s fitting to pay tribute here to the magnanimous muse of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists, my great aunt Dora—now 96 years old and as vibrant as ever. The piece below, The Face That Launched a Thousand Days, is about Aunt Dora and was first published by Indiana University the year I was named “Lake Distinguished Visitor.”

♦♦♦

25,000 words

392 manuscript pages

76 quotes from the ages

200 narratives on what it means to give back

180 portraits of everyday Black philanthropists

4 centuries of an American legacy rooted in Africa

999,999 reasons to give

1 book that reframes portraits of philanthropy

Dors Atlas

Great aunt Dora (maternal)

Muse seems a fitting description for Aunt Dora. Hers is the face that launched a thousand-day odyssey and twenty-five thousand words. The generosity of my 92-year-old great-aunt inspired me to embark on developing the book Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists. Giving Back is a 400-page hardcover publication filled with revealing stories and artful photography about traditions of giving within Black communities. In prose, poetry and portraiture, my great-aunt’s philanthropy and that of 199 other benefactors of African descent fill every page.

When the idea for the book took hold of me, little did I know that seeing it through and publishing it would require a high-wire walk of faith, spanning four-and-half years or one thousand days—well, 1621 days to be exact. With each day that passed, the vision for Giving Back grew so clear it haunted me. The pathway, however, grew obscured by episodes of frustration and weariness from setbacks.

On those clouded, dark days, brightening my steps like bursts of light from a beacon were the narratives and biographies of the people I was chronicling. In a twist, the volume of stories that I was inspired to start writing had come to speak volumes to me and thus supplied inspiration to complete the book. Being immersed in accounts of “lovers of humankind”—their aspirations, motivations and tribulations—compelled me to push on.

Fittingly, the story of my original source of inspiration and great-aunt, Rev. Dora Atlas, opens Giving Back. After reading “Rich Aunt,” indeed, you will see that she is a great aunt in deed. The book’s collection of stories and photographs forever altered my thinking and my work in philanthropy, and I expect it could have the same effect on you.

Shared here is a TEDx video of my faith-fueled story of philanthropy, identity and epiphany that produced Giving Back.

VIDEO: A Picture Reframed | http://youtu.be/CZ9k18BzDV8

‘Windows of My Soul’

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One of the messages composing the chandelier of The Soul of Philanthropy.

Take heed and make this a great week! 

— VF

VF: C’est moi

visionary farsightedness
voraciously fascinated
vibrant force
values family
vehement friend
voluminous friendships
vocalized free-spiritedness
voluptuous feelings
vivaciously fanciful
voyaging fanatic
vanity foibles
vivid fails
various faults
violence free
very faithful
vast freedom
verbal finessing
veritable foodie
vintage fullwood
valaida forever
 A birthday ode to me from me.

Wondrous Women

I paid tribute to the women of my family tree who sprouted me and help keep me rooted, nourished and strong. I cherish and love them everyday!

Excellent Example

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Meka Sales honors her mother’s philanthropic legacy

“What are you doing to serve?”

In celebration of Women’s History Month, a tiny question with huge implications is shared from Giving Back. The question is from a story by Meka Sales in memory of her mother Shirley Oliver Nelson—an excellent example of generousness.

Read Meka’s full story: “An Excellent Example,” Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists (pp. 148-149).

Birth Month

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Sweet March has landed.
Winter is MIA and
spring is on the way!

— ava wood

(I know National Poetry Month arrives in April but can’t help myself. Spring excites me.)

Wonder Woman

Happy Women’s History Month! 

To celebrate, women from Giving Back, from my giving circle and from my life will feature here throughout March. The month’s first post is excerpted from Giving Back and spotlights my cousin Britt and my great aunt Annie. Read it below.

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Britt Brewer Loudd and her grandmother Annie. Photograph by Charles W. Thomas

ANNIE BREWER  |  W o n d e r   W o m a n

Growing up I honestly believed my grandmother was a superhero. She has long been known both for model good looks and model goodness and she is more wondrous than ever well into her eighties.

Granny’s house was just doors from ours during my childhood so I saw her every day. Awestruck by her ability to handle just about everything, I was her shadow and saw up close how she was always going and doing for others. The little things she did are what I remember most. So many times I watched curiously as she reached into her bottomless basket of greeting cards when somebody needed lifting up and for folks to know they were not forgotten.

My fondest memories are of how she would cook and bake for everyone. Since Granny didn’t drive, Papa would load up the car with pots and dishes and then my grandparents with me in tow would deliver food to people who were sick or going through something. Even through a child’s eyes, I could see the impact of her generosity in each person’s face. Though she was not a wealthy woman in terms of finances, Granny was doing what she knew to do best. Fixing a home-cooked meal or whipping up a cake was my grandmother’s way of sharing her riches.

I still walk in her shadow today. Sometimes between picking up kids at school, assembling prizes for the youth choir raffle, hauling Girl Scout cookies across town and organizing my precinct meeting I pause and think, just like Annie Brewer, and a little smile comes over my face.

BRITT BREWER LOUDD   Connection: Granddaughter • Channel: Member, Greenville Memorial AME Zion Church • Cause: Social justice

Coming To See Philanthropy Differently in Portland

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“Drawing with light” is both a literal and metaphorical description of photography. The Soul of Philanthropy draws inspiration from that definition as well as from the root meaning of philanthropy: love of what it means to be human. Each a potent concept on its own, combined, these ideas have fueled the design and programming for our exhibition. This exhibit illuminates the human impulse to show compassion, to improve, to progress, to connect and to love. We have composed an experience where the images glow, the stories enlighten and passions are set afire. In reframing portraits of philanthropy, we want viewers to embrace and act on the fact that we each have the capacity to give more and wiser.

From the Artist Statement for the exhibit “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited”

Photography from the exhibition opening on January 20, 2017, at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. And brought to the community by MRG Foundation.

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