Month: May 2016

Check Off Another One!

My goodness, it has been a busy week of travel! Attend the Main Street Now 2016 conference on Monday and Tuesday in Milwaukee and get energized by all the work going on in downtowns across the country – check. Stop by and visit the amazing Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory Domes in Milwaukee – check. Catch a bad head cold and endure a 4 1/2 hour flight from Chicago to San Francisco – unplanned, but check. Have lunch in Carmel with one of the elder statesmen of preservation – the indefatigable Knox Mellon and his wife Carlotta – check. Celebrate the beginning of the construction phase of our work at Cooper-Molera historic site with more than 100 people from the city staff, California State Parks, our local stakeholders, and our development partners in Monterey – check. Over a wonderful dinner celebration in Monterey, talk baseball with the wife of one of our partners at Cooper- Molera, who has the perfect marriage…she’s a Red Sox fan and her husband is a Giants fan…so on the west coast …

I Do Love a Good Historic Hotel!

After a long week of travel, it is good to land in a wonderful historic hotel for a couple of days of family time with Claire.  This beauty is the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, one of my personal favorites where I’ve stayed in the past when in Southern California. Have a great Memorial Day weekend.  As you kick off the summer, take the time to remember those who have sacrificed for our country. More to come… DJB

Look Beyond Borders

Amnesty International has posted a powerful video experiment to help all of us think about refugees as people, and not just as someone different from us. The video “is based on a theory that four minutes of uninterrupted eye contact increases intimacy.”  The theory, developed by psychologist Arthur Aron in 1997, was applied by Amnesty International to the refugee crisis, sitting refugees from Syria and Somalia opposite people from Belgium, Italy, Germany, Poland and the UK, with overwhelmingly positive results.  Here’s how the group describes its work: We decided to conduct a simple experiment during which refugees and Europeans sat across from each other and looked each other in the eyes. We recorded these very human encounters and the short film speaks for itself. Indeed it does speak powerfully for itself.  Do yourself a favor and watch these four minutes.  It is a good reminder of our common humanity, which seems to be in short supply in this political season. More to come… DJB

Cheerfulness

I was thinking about cheerfulness recently while putting together a long to-do list – which is how I feel prepared, if not always cheerful.  Garrison Keillor – the soon-to-be-retired host of A Prairie Home Companion – has written that, “Cheerfulness is a choice, like choosing what color socks to wear, the black or the red. Happiness is something that occurs, or it doesn’t, and don’t hold your breath. Joy is a theological idea, pretty rare among us mortals and what many people refer to as “joy” is what I would call ‘bragging.’…Euphoria is a drug.”  Keillor suggests that cheerfulness is a…“habit you assume in the morning and hang on to as best you can for the rest of the day….that spiritual awareness that Buddhism holds up as enlightenment, in which one does not covet more than one’s small lot, one is free of animosity, and one lives in the immediate present, day by day, without dread of what might befall.” That sounds about right to me.  And while I’ve written this as a reminder to …

A Blessing for our Children

It was Thanksgiving Day, 1982. Candice and I were spending our first married Thanksgiving with my parents. After the meal, Dad gathered us all together and gave the following blessing to his children, daughters-in-law and son-in-law.  (He later expanded it to include his grandchildren.) The blessing was read at his funeral last Wednesday, and it was hand-written in my father’s Bible that we brought home with us. It says all you need to know about how my parents thought about their responsibility in raising children and their release of us as adults to find our own path to grow into the people we are. Blessing for our Children Your mother and I give you: Unconditional love, and to each one of you we give all our love.  Love expands to meet the need. Unconditional acceptance based on who you are – our sons and our daughters – our sons-in-law and our daughters-in-law and our grandchildren. Not on what you do or don’t do. Release to be the person God intends for you to be.  Release …

My Favorite Tom Brown Stories

We celebrated my father over the past four days before his burial next to my mother in Evergreen Cemetery.  Tom Brown was well-loved, and over those days we heard many stories full  of love, support, and humor. In the four-hour receiving line on Tuesday evening, the family was strategically stationed so that Joe and Carol – who live in Murfreesboro – could introduce people to my older brother Steve who lives in Sarasota.  Then Debbie and Mark, also from Murfreesboro, were at the end of the line so they could give Candice and me a heads up on who was on the way.  The grandkids (especially the older ones) then set up another receiving line near the casket. Every person from First Baptist Church (it seems) came, along with a good number of people who worship at my brother Joe’s church and my sister Carol’s church.  (These are Baptist – they are never content with just one church!)  The entire Murfreesboro Water Department, where my sister Debbie has worked for decades, came (leading me to …

A Good Measure of a Life

Last week I was fortunate to join the most remarkable retirement celebration I’ve ever attended.  Paul Herman, the Head of the Lower School at St. Albans here in Washington (where my son is an alum), was celebrated for 44 years of service.  There are many wonderful things I can share about Paul, but I’ll stick to one example.  Each day he stands outside the school and greets every student by name, gives them a firm handshake, looks them in the eye, and offers up an encouraging word (or a reminder to tuck in a shirt tail).  If he doesn’t remember a name after the first week, he pays the student a dollar.  Suffice it to say he rarely has to pay.  Candice and I hadn’t seen Mr. Herman in at least four years, but as we were next in the receiving line he looked up and said, “Great, here come the Browns” and gave us a warm greeting.  He has an amazing gift to make people feel included and welcome. The center nave of Washington …