Archive for January, 2010

In ’07 I read Jim Harrison’s Returning To Earth and liked it, so when his new The Farmer’s Daughter picked up review praise I thought why not try him again.  The book is a collection of three novellas beginning with The Farmer’s Daughter.  The joke was better.  The second is Brown Dog Redux.  The material is old and cold.  The last is The Games of Night.  The better part of kindness is to say nothing.  Charles Marlin

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David Malouf, prolific Aussie writer and literary star, has a new novel Ransom making the round of reviews.  Good news for those who know his work but I was a bit skeptical so I turned from the new novel to his 1993 title Remembering Babylon.  I bought a nice hardback on the secondary market for $9.23; however, a new paperback copy sell for $10.20 on amazon.com.  This is a treasure to stash away for a boring trip, a weekend visiting the in-laws, or a conference center located in one of Dante’s outer circles.

The story is tight and pure Aussie.  In the mid-1840’s, a gutter child from London is forced to serve as crew member on a British vessel.  He falls ill and is put adrift off of Queensland; and yes, he survives among the Aborigines.  As his memory of his white past fades, he seeks out a white settlement with the words, “Do not shoot!  I am a B-b-british object!”  So far I have given you only a small part of the first chapter so I will stop and not spoil the book for you.

Every character is given the attention and craftsmanship usually reserved for one leading character.  Each character walks the landscape.  The landscape walks and talks, remembers and avenges, surrounds and absorbs.  Only the Aussies and Icelanders seem to consistently accept the landscape in all its manifestations as an evolutionary persona.  A character can live with it but never against it.

This little book is one you will be delighted to share with a best friend.  Save yourself and your friend from airport trash.  Charles Marlin

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The following is the new Legacy Society policy for Clarion County Community Foundation approved on March 17, 2010.

I. Name  The name shall be Clarion County Legacy Society.

II. Organization  A. A Legacy Steering Committee under the authority of the CCCF shall be responsible for Society activity and report regularly to the CCCF Board.  B. The Steering Committee shall include volunteer Directors, former Directors, foundation friends, the Executive Director, and Society members in an informal manner expressed by attending meetings, volunteering for assignments, and being ready to assist on occasion.  C. A chairperson, selected by the Steering Committee and approved by the Board, shall serve for an unlimited number of two year terms.  D. Society membership is not a prerequisite for membership on the Steering Committee as we must recognize the timing and details of a planned gift are personal and delicate.

III. Legacy Society Membership  A. Donors join when they indicate to the Steering Committee they have made a planned gift.  B. Donors are not required to indicate the gift amount or type; however, if the information is volunteered it will become part of the Donor Record.  C. The donor may be listed as an individual, couple, partnership, or family.  D. The donor may always choose to remain anonymous.

IV. Donor Record  A. Individual donor records should include name and contact information, name and contact information of  the financial advisor, legal representation, and confirmation of the planned gift.  B. The donor record should include personal information such include personal information such as age, family, involvement with CCCF, and Steering Committee contacts.  C. The donor record should include a copy of the fund contract and other details affecting the gift.

V. Relationship Management  A. A buddy system of two Steering Committee members  should be assigned to each Society member with a record kept of contacts.  B. When a nonprofit or organization is participating in a legacy campaign, the relationship management should be coordinated with the Steering Committee.  C. The Executive Director will provide guidance in meeting IRS requirements when a potential nonprofit or organization does not initially qualify.  D. Potential Legacy Partners may include but are not limited to the following list.  1. arts organizations,  2. cemetery associations,  3. churches,  4. civic clubs,  5. community organizations,  6. environmental organizations,  7. historical societies,  8. human service nonprofits,  9. regional, Commonwealth, and national interest groups without a private foundation,  10. school alumni,  11. social advocacy organizations,  12. veteran organizations.

VI. Recognition Activities  A. Maintain an honor roll on the CCCF website.  B. Maintain an honor roll page on Clarion Friends.  C. Printed programs involving CCCF should include an honor roll of Legacy Society members.

VII. Donor Review  A. The first follow-up contact with a donor by the Steering Committee should occur on the first anniversary of the planned gift.  B. Subsequent contacts should be scheduled biennially to review changes and potential up grades of the planned gift.

VIII. Soliciting Donors  A. The Steering Committee should prepare and submit for approval by the Board a general legacy brochure for individuals who may be interested in making a planned gift.  B. The Steering Committee should prepare and submit for approval by the Board a guide for nonprofits and organizations preparing their own legacy brochure for members and friends to make a planned gift to their restricted endowment fund with CCCF.  C. The Steering Committee should offer writing and editing support to nonprofits and organizations in the process of writing a brochure.  D. The Steering Committee should prepare and submit for approval by the Board a follow-up brochure that explains the types of funds, memorial options, purpose statements, sunset provisions, fund committee structure, and other details.  E. Contact information on the brochures should lead with two or more Steering Committee members and their phone numbers followed by the Executive Director and phone number.  F. If a mail address is used it should be the Steering Chairperson’s Clarion County address.  G. The Steering Committee should contact nonprofit leaders to discuss the creation of a legacy society brochure and a fund contract for their nonprofit.  H. Maintain a Legacy Society appeal page on Clarion Friends.  I. The Executive Director will prepare all fund contracts in cooperation with the Steering Committee and the nonprofit leadership based on contact information and interviews when feasible.  J. The Executive Director and Steering Committee should collate all records.

IX. Honoring Deceased Donors  A. The Executive Director and Steering Committee should maintain contact with the family.  B. Offer the family the opportunity to receive CCCF minutes.  C. Maintain an honor roll on the CCCF website.  D. Maintain an honor roll page on Clarion Friends.  E. Continue recognition of deceased donors.  F. Keep an up to date description of the donor’s generosity to use in publications.  Charles Marlin

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The Clarion County Community Foundation met and approved the minutes of 18 November 2009, heard a brief report on finance from Steve Kosak, Executive Director, and another brief report on Clarion Friends by Charles Marlin.  We also heard a report on our Founders Day celebration on March 13th.  A memorial flower and ribbon will be placed at the graves of donors of community foundation trust funds.

Rhonda McMillen-Toth was appointed chairperson of the Nominating Committee and charged with putting together a slate of nominees for foundation officers and nominees for the 13 March 2013 class of Directors.

We elected Bill Kaufman and Jack Troese to fill partial terms in the 13 March 2012 class of Directors.

We approved a distribution from the Rimersburg Medical Center Fund of $1,000.00

Most of the hour meeting was spent discussing what we need to do to set up a legacy society for CCCF.  Steve Kosak distributed a working paper which we decided to develop at our next meeting.  Directors are encouraged to prepare changes and additions to the working paper and have them ready for discussion.

Our next meeting will be March 17th with two important items to consider.  First election of new officers and Directors, and second development of a legacy society policy.  Charles Marlin

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Sometimes a cake looks better than it tastes.  Sometimes a book’s title is the best part of it.  I wanted Stephen Post and Jill Neimark, Why Good Things Happen To Good People to be good so I could crib posts for Clarion Friends about the feel good advantages of charity.  The book did not shake my belief in the feel good advantages or that charity opens thoughts and feelings not otherwise in use, but the book was of no help.  It is hard to say what role Jill Neimark played in the writing as this seems to be the gospel according to Post.

If a reader took seriously the out of control list of admonitions, suggested projects, and recommended life changes, the reader would be dead of exhaustion.  Their behavior would be considered bizarre by everyone they approached, meaning friends, family, colleagues, and strangers in public places.  The reader would be a whippy, love pilgrim begging people for their time and attention.

The subtitle of the book is The Exciting New Research That Proves the Link Between Doing Good and Living a Longer Healthier, Happier Life, but no research  is presented with any detail.  Research accounts become anecdotal along with many feel good stories of the famous, unknowns he has met or read about, and the author’s personal stories.  Much of the research he cites has been financed by his own Institute for Research on Unlimited Love which is no more acceptable for the author than for pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

If all that he promotes is true, so easy to achieve and recognize by all participants, and has such lasting effect, there is no reason for the world to be in the mess its in.  The feel good transformation should be a world crusade or great awakening.  The Nobel Prize for Peace should not have gone to Barack Obama but to Stephen Post.  Charles Marlin

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If you respond to this free blog promoting the Clarion County Community Foundation by sending a check in the mail your gift will increase 45%.  The wonderful increase is very easy to achieve.  First you need to know that the Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau has revised part of its Standards for Charity Accountability.  They now say it is acceptable for fund-raising expenses to cost 45 percent of every charity dollar solicited, up from the previous 35 percent.

In contrast, Clarion Friends costs you nothing to read and costs CCCF nothing to sponsor.  If you send us a personal check the only expense is the 44 cents for your first class stamp.  When you find a gratifying opportunity like this, it is some kind of a shame to pass it up.

The check routine is easy.  Make the check out to Clarion County Community Foundation and on the memo line write Unrestricted Grants Fund.  Mail the check to CCCF, P. O. Box 374, Oil City PA 16301.  Make the check big enough and I may show up with a cake.

I found the news about this gratifying opportunity in a one paragraph news brief in the January 14th issue of The Chronicle Of Philanthropy.  It is good to know they are looking out for CCCF.  Charles Marlin

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Political memoirs are to be avoided except when they work, and this one does.  In True Compass: A Memoir Edward M. Kennedy went out in style.  Written in a warm, engaging style that often seems like conversation, he gives his take on events but more importantly he explains the Kennedy phenomenon as only he could.  This book along with the personal notes and papers he kept over the years will prove a cache for future historians.  You may think you know all you need to know about the Kennedys, but this book puts you on  shaky footing.  This is a call to future historians to get it right.

Liberals and middlers will have positive feelings for his many political accomplishments, but the basic requirement for enjoying the book is that you revere American democracy.  As an added benefit, if you like to hear about defending family values, then this book should be your bible.

EMK had the misfortune to be born into an ambitious family with an excess of Prince Charmings.  Each in high fashion charged off to seek fame and crown and met tragic deaths one by one.  Young Also Prince Teddy was left to compete against saintly myths.  He struggled to find his calling but longevity was with the Also Prince, and in time he proved that he was of stellar qualities, a leader even if the crown was never his.  He defied history and his sometime erratic performance to prove his worth.  The odds are that the first three might not have done as well, certainly not all three.

The three formative influences in his life were his father, his mother, and his maternal grandfather John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald.  There was of course the collective entity of the “Kennedy family.”  Religious belief and faith came from his mother.  Discipline, intellectual rigor, and dogged determination came from his father.  The myth of the Princely brothers forced him to find missions to serve.  It was, however, the life and spirit of Honey Fitz who taught him how to be a street politician who never stops campaigning until he  takes his pants off at night.  He learned politics was a game to relish and play with no time outs and no final quarter.

EMK was an Irish-American whose face told you that if he hadn’t sinned as yet he was going to in the near future.  If you didn’t see him stumble one day, just keep watching.  He learned if you can’t hide your weaknesses and mishaps, bring them out and use them.  As Honey Fitz would have told him, don’t tell voters a boring story, so EMK was many things, but boring he was not.  This was canny enough for the people of Massachusetts to love him from first to the last.  Every voter felt he knew a lot about this man, good, bad, and whatever.  He was as good as family, and you don’t vote against family.  Charles Marlin

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I have heard that one of the tests young Irish students must pass involves a proctor placing an irregularly shaped, sharp edged stone in the student’s palm.  The student is told to polish the stone until it yields a story.  It is further told that young Colum McCann kept returning for the exam even though he had repeatedly passed.  When questioned, he replied, “One stone is good, but it takes several to build a book.”

The stones that make Let The Great World Spin are polished to a warm touch but never washed.  They give the despair and loneliness of New York City without diminishing the allure.  There are no excuses with this writer.  He earns every page.

The historical point in time around which these stories spin is August 7, 1974, when Phillipe Petit walked a tightrope between the World Trade Twin Towers.  During that spectacular event, Petit crossed eight times plus performing a few tricks on the wire.  An estimated 100,000 New Yorkers watched.  Perhaps none absorbed as much from that performance as McCann, and he wasn’t there to see it.  The 2008 Oscar for Best Documentary went to Man on Wire which you can rent from Netflix.  Petit wrote and illustrated his own account in To Reach The Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between The Twin Towers.  Charles Marlin

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Jeffrey Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal in the January 6th paper wrote about the harmful effects of gossip.  Many people feel gossip  is the bread and butter of the WJS but let’s not lose our focus.  Everyone knows the harmful effects occur in every context from family to school yard to workplace to politics.  Gossip poisons the system.  Gossip poisons the victims and those who keep it going.  Remember the war slogan, “Loose lips might sink ships.”

There is a clear relationship between gossip and charity.  Charity is too difficult to fully describe but we know that it is personal and private.  Like being in love, it is sometimes easy and sometimes impossible not to hate.  We can be mean for the visceral joy of it.  When we have been mean we know, if we were forced to admit it, that it is not good for us now or in the future.  Being mean sours and shortens life.

The solution is not in trying to be a better person, really no one wants that kind of radical change.  What we want is a good version of ourselves.  Our clothes will still fit.  The dry martini will still be a wonder of civilization.  You can still be assertively successful or whatever you want to be.  A good version of you is all your mother ever asked for.

You get there by duplicating the process of kidney dialysis.  You apply the three filters ascribed against hateful gossip:  Is it kind?  Is it true?  Is it necessary?  You work those three filters into your thinking long enough to begin to feel a change.  When you have lowered the level of salts and impurities in your system you will feel better about yourself, and feeling better about yourself is a positive prescription for being charitable.

Being charitable is putting tone and buff back in your life.  Being charitable feels great.  Your charity effort and bucks are always a bargain buy.  Your stock picks should be so good.  Charles Marlin

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January 6, 2010, the winners of the World Funky Deviled Egg Plate 2010 Competition were announced by Clarion Friends.  The judge was Clarion County resident and prominent artist Mary Hamilton

The title of Number One goes to Ladybug Deviled Egg Plate submitted by Judie Vogus.  

The title of Reserve goes to Roadkill Deviled Egg Plate submitted by Rita May Raintree. 

The title of Number Three goes to Chicken Santa Deviled Egg Plate submitted by Stephanie Sawhney.

Congratulations to all the winners and best of luck to all those who entered the competition.  Charles Marlin

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