REFLECTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS – 2014 and 2015

This past year has been a spontaneous combustion. So much has happened, so much that I didn’t see coming. Thankfully, I have a solid base with a wonderful husband, and awesome son – who keep me humble. After teaching everything from Bilingual Kindergarten to Computer Skills in Spanish to people on Disability, to CPR in Spanish in factories for the Red Cross, to Adult ESL, and then back to teaching 6th grade Language Arts – I retired from full-time teaching. I have traveled around the country to conferences, libraries, universities, and Quaker venues on Book Tours for my book. My book, JONESTOWN SURVIVOR: An Insider’s Look is now in print, kindle, and audio – and now in the “Whisperer” status so that you can read and/or listen to the book on your kindle. And, I have had a number of on-line interviews on both university and religious Talk Shows. I have completed ten Oral History recordings of Peoples Temple survivors, which will be available in transcript/recording format early in 2015. Along with being a Board Member of the Communal Studies Association, I continue to be active with my Quaker, Occupy, ACLU, and Sane-Immigration-Policy friends.

I had a long-overdue insight this year. For the past thirty-six years, I tended to think of Jonestown and Peoples Temple from my own personal – and therefore limited – perspective. I was a survivor and I went through that calamity. Even now, I get five or more contacts every week from documentary-makers, scholars, students vying for the National History Scholarships, and many more from all sorts of backgrounds. Finally it has dawned on me the importance of the story of Peoples Temple, from beginning to end, for our world. The history of Peoples Temple can not be allowed to just fade away. There is so much to understand, and so much to caution us to look deeper than simply the appearance of things all around us. We can’t let bullies OR CON MEN get power over us. We must exercise our critical thinking. That is a lesson we can’t forget. The legacy of Peoples Temple has to be awareness. Awareness of things around us that keep us from being the best, and wisest, we can be.

The upcoming year looks to be just as full. In January, I will join with some other activist Quakers to go to an educational program in Mexico City. I will continue working on urging our government to create a sane immigration policy. Over the first semester of 2015, I plan to visit universities, libraries, and Quaker venues around the country, including Hawaii and North Alabama University. In June, I will be part of the Bay Area BOOK Festival, hosting an Authors’ Table. I will present a scholarly paper for the Communal Studies Association at Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, in October. I am contemplating writing a scholarly paper for the Utopian Studies Society European Conference. In my continued efforts to capture Oral History reflections of survivors, I will keep on recording interviews. As part of this collection of treasured archival first-person accounts, I will continue to work on a grant to allow about fifteen Peoples Temple survivors and family members take a final trip to Jonestown, Guyana, towards the end of the year. I will return to teaching as a substitute, since I love teaching, especially on my terms. And, that way, I can make my plans to visit Cuba as soon as the way opens. Part of my year is sketched onto my calendar. And the rest – tbd – “to be determined”