Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To the Seattle City Council:

My name is Annie Searle, and I have been a Seattle Public Library patron for over 30 years. I use the Northeast, University and Green Lake branches of the library. I am a small business owner, and a board member of the Seattle Public Library Foundation.

I testify each year at these hearings because I believe deeply in the mission of the library, and because it serves so many of our citizens as the most democratic of all our institutions. In the last several years, because of the depressed economic conditions in which we still find ourselves, the City’s services have had to be cut across the board. In 2009, the Library’s budget was cut by $974,000. In 2010, the Library’s budget was cut by $3,000,000, which would have been much worse if the Council had not intervened to restore $860,000.

The previous cuts have already caused the Library to streamline its operations, and to restructure the services it can provide in reduced circumstances – even though library usage is up 20% in the last two years. We understand that times are still tough. The proposed 2011 reduction of 8.5% or $3.7 M in this budget will cause further painful choices to be made, which have been elaborated in the mayor’s proposed budget.

We urge you not to make any further cuts to the proposed budget. There is no more room to cut. If there is any flexibility in the choices that you make, we urge you to restore any branch hours possible at some level. The library is used for many purposes past reading. It provides a safe haven for many. It offers job seekers the technology tools they need to find jobs. It provides story hours and homework help to our children. I’d like to finish with a quote from the historian J.A. Langford:

“The only true equalisers in the world are books; the only treasure-house open to all comers is a library; the only wealth which will not decay is knowledge; the only jewel which you can carry beyond the grave is wisdom.”

We understand the complexities of decision-making that the Council faces this cycle. Thank you for your work on behalf of the citizens of Seattle.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why They Walk.

Carrying the "Victories" flag, Opening Ceremony, 2008.

My son leaped out to walk with me upon his return from Paris, Day 1 of 2007.

Me with two stalwart supporters of the walk, Day 2 of 2008.

Crossing the 5k finish line, "Inspiring Hope" walk, 2010.

It's the first day of the 2010 3 Day Walk with terrible weather so far. I hope that the rain holds off for the rest of the weekend, even though it will probably still be damp sleeping tonight in the tents. I am planning to go cheer friends and the entire Kindred Spirits team on Sunday mid-morning as they come through Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill.

Though I'm not walking this year, I'm thinking of the 15+ victims or survivors of cancer whom I honor even now with shorter walks. One of them -- Tracy Kudrna -- is herself walking for the second year in a row. It's a large commitment of time to train for such a walk, and the concurrent fund raising does not come easily to everyone. So my hat is off to each of the walkers this year, a very tough economic year. I've added some photos to this post from the 2007 and 2008 when I myself walked. No other experience in one's life is comparable to the pure energy generated by walking for a cause so much larger than any one person. Every one of these people walks because they care.

I'll close with an excerpt written into this blog by my son James after he had lunch with us on Day 2 of 2007:

Essentially, a large group of people (mostly women!) have devoted themselves to an idea, one that does not make claims for an ultimate truth or represent a political end but rather one that fully asserts the need to care for one another. Many people my age are quite cynical -- I at times certainly am -- yet watching this spectacle, I came to realize that many of the people throwing their legs forward, foot after foot, enduring tremendous pain, walk in the memory of lost friends and family, and quite a few themselves are survivors. They walk not only for themselves and their immediate circle, but for all threatened by a horrible disease, and no one could be a cynic in the face of such a diverse group of motivated and positive humans. This is the sort of activism and thinking we speak of in sad remembrance when talking about the civil rights movement (one that Annie was a part of), or the sort of energy we dream about when we talk about changing our future as a community or a country, but what Annie and all involved in this walk are doing shows that the times aren't so dark as they are serious. Today after eating lunch with my mother, father and Mary Gardner, I drove back along I-5 with a giant smile on my face and felt so so proud of my mother and honored to have sat alongside all of those who walked today.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

California sunshine.

I'm on Day 3 on antibiotics and my original (stronger) dosage of Advair. I'm here in San Diego for the DRJ conference, and hoping to get good doses of Vitamin D in between meetings and interviews with vendors. Here's a view from my 11th floor room in the Marina Tower. I'm off now for a reception, then a good night's sleep before I present tomorrow. I'm speaking on public-private partnerships and the work left to be done on them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mini Sabbatical

I'd lost track of an important blog, then found it again this morning, marveling at the wonders of the web once again. I spent a weekend last April in Santa Fe at a retreat called "Reboot Your Life," and it made a very big difference in what I decided to do after leaving JPMorgan Chase. The team of four women who led that retreat (and subsequent ones they've offered around the country) have finished a book on the same topic that should come out yet this year.

But back to their blog. Though longer sabbaticals are recommended, I ran across an entry on "mini sabbaticals," full of tips for what to do with either a one week or one month sabbatical. As usual, the tips are both practical and poetic. I've posted a link on this page to the "Reboot Your Life" blog.

I've worked hard this summer, through the summer, with really no breaks. So this weekend Leroy and I are taking a two day sabbatical with a train ride. I'm planning to turn off electronics, including Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. I'll have my netbook and kindle so I can read and work on my book manuscript. Best of all, I get to spend uninterrupted time with the most interesting man I know.