Sunday, October 30, 2016

Casa de los Amigos, el libro: poco a poco

Muchos saludos amigos y amigas, friends, readers and fellow Pickett Endowment grantees. I have enjoyed reading updates from other projects, you do get a sense of these journeys.

My own project is a book about Casa de los Amigos, a Quaker Center for Peace and International Understanding in Mexico City. The Casa turns 60 this year and it's been exciting Quaker peacework, so there's a lot to write about, research, and understand. There are a lot of people to interview. I've been working on this book for just over a year.

an interview with Orfila Vidal de Flores, a Casa volunteer from 1967, in the Biblioteca Jorge Fox.  
I wrote a post on this blog in July, introducing this project. At that time, I still hoped to be finished by the fall (e.g., now), and I've since extended that date to the spring of next year. Things are moving along wonderfully, slowly and surely...just a bit more slowly than I had imagined they might. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it turns out. I recently wrote a bit about my decision to extend the project finish date on the book's Kickstarter campaign page here. The support that I have received in response to letting folks know about this decision has been very affirming for me.

Last weekend, at the Casa's 60th anniversary celebrations, I was able to speak with a large group of people about the project and about my own process. It was a fun chance to talk about what I'd been doing during the last year: research in several archives, interviewing many people, reading, collecting and organizing documents, photos and personal histories, writing a grant, running a Kickstarter campaign, and yes, writing.

kind of a weird picture of me talking about this project at the Casa last Saturday night 
It was also a great opportunity for me to hold up some of the myriad distractions I've succumbed to since leaving the Casa in April of last year (after over a decade of living and working there). Such as attending Pacific Yearly Meeting, traveling and spending lots of time with my 9-year-old, moving (twice), being involved in my Meeting, working for several months to help coordinate an AFSC delegation to Mexico, and adjusting to life outside Casa de los Amigos...things like that. It's helpful for me to look at this list, both to see that I've been very busy, and that I've not been entirely successful in resisting temptation and stripping my life down mostly just to creating this book (and hanging out with my kid, of course).

On a deeper level, Writing--as a full-time thing--has been more challenging for me than I thought. I was quite sure that I had learned how to work hard and long at the Casa, and I had. I'd also had to write, pretty much every day. However, the discipline of daily, solo writing was (is) nothing like the fast-paced, multi-tasking teamwork of the Casa, and I had to shift gears on several levels to get into it. I have done that, but I didn't give myself the time I needed. I slowly reconciled myself with the decision to extend this project and continue working on this book until its properly done. The finished product has to be where I want it...for me, and for all the Casa community. If the book is some months behind my schedule, nobody will recall this in ten years. It is more important that the book is an accurate and effective statement of the Casa's amazing history and impact.

A Casa piñata. Many people have responded to my ongoing call for Casa de los Amigos photos.
I have a few outlets to talk and write about this project and this process, so I have wondered exactly what to publish here. I've felt the temptation to use the Pickett Endowment Blog as the "support group" blog, as I've read other grantees who share news about their projects but who are also very honest about their trials and challenges along the way. I've certainly felt my share of those, but the sense of relief upon extending the timeline was re-inspiring, and I'm still feeling it...I've gone back to focusing on the project and not the deadline. Hope to post more frequently to this blog. Thanks again to Pickett Endowment folks and other grantees for reading, and for your great work.

¡Saludos a todxs!

This photo seems appropriate: here's a note to then-President Lázaro Cardenas about an upcoming, 1939 meeting with Clarence Pickett at the National Palace in Mexico City. This document is in the Archivo General de la Nación, where you have to wear gloves to look at anything...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post, and how wonderful to hear about your writing journey thus far. Please do continue to keep us informed. It is wonderful to see the amazing work that Pickett Grantees go out into the world to do. I also love the photo you sent of the letter to President Cardenas about Clarence Pickett's upcoming visit, very cool! - Sandy Laber (Clerk, The Pickett Endowment and great granddaughter of Clarence Pickett)