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Why does Chris Brown provide a free meal on Fridays for anyone who wants it?

 

By Kareena Maxwell

Chris Brown quotes Stephen King, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Every Friday at 6:30 PM you can go to the Concho Valley Community Church in Concho, and eat for free at the Concho Community Kitchen. The number of people that show up is about 30 and he does it because “I care, I see the best in everything, and food is a healer and a bond,” he says. “Use what you have, do the best with what you have,” he continues, and he sees that Concho has resources and talent and all we have to do is pull it together and believe that it is possible to do well because Concho indeed can. “I need to be purposeful…I crave it,” he says. Chris Brown is busy living.

Under the umbrella of his devotion to God, Chris Brown follows a path that things happen with faith and sweat and a, “Just do it,” attitude. He decided to put a food theme to healing and its working. “God has a purpose for me. I am not a bench warmer. I have a god driven life,” he says. When he and his wife decided to provide the free weekly meal they went after donations, leaving the laborious 501 c 3 application out of the plan so that it could happen immediately. That’s when the idea of having fundraising events for weekly meals became a solid idea in his head. This included last October’s Wing –off, and this past April’s dance, meal and community event at the San Rafael Church in Concho that drew in almost 400 and raised $1,500 to support the Concho Community Kitchen meal program. It was bigger than they expected as the line was out the door into the parking lot.

Chris Brown is a big guy with big ideas. His well-defined features reflect an intellectual sort. His words during any conversation are carefully chosen but when he puts his hand under his chin you know the reflective Chris, and soul of the man is about to surface. The whole time, though, he fearlessly looks at you, into you and without hesitation keeps his big ideas and recent agenda for Concho, Arizona, at the core of his purpose.

Sitting recently during a dog day of summer in Concho, he said “I love it,” when I made reference to the heat and the ants that were crawling up his legs. He can’t stop thinking about ways to make life better for people, as he shooed off the insects.

He doesn’t ask that we do what we don’t want to, but that we fulfill ourselves in ways that make us happy. “Enthusiasm is a force multiplier. I like to get people to stand up and do what they can do. I don’t need to control everything.” He wants to get Concho “up and moving,” he says. A turning point toward his own happiness was when he decided to stop drinking alcohol, for good, and take off almost 200 pounds on his own. Back in Ohio, where he lived and worked in a liquor store, before his drive to Concho, his life changed when his future wife, Cori Rutherstrom, walked into the store and the rest of their story has been pure poetry in motion. They moved here in 2011, when he and Cori went traveling from Ohio with a wonder about the world and the idea that they wanted to come to Arizona. ”There was a calling here,” he says. They lived in a Chevy, Tioga camper 14’ long by 8’ wide, had no running water and hauled 5 gallon buckets of water and had 230 watts of solar for electricity.” Cori researched and they wanted to build an earth ship in Concho.

Inertia and apathy are things he would change in people. He enjoys the passion of ideas followed by creating them doing the work and believing that he, Cori and God are at the top of his beliefs. “Luke warm is not admirable,” he says.

His calendar from day-to-day involves being the community liaison and a para pro at the Concho Elementary School, the co-creator of a hot sauce, a board member at OCAC, co-organizer of the Concho Community Kitchen, as well as his ministry at the Concho Valley Church. This is a fulfilled life that he changed from less than fulfilling because he wanted to. It took months for Brown to pull these fundraisers off, “We have to do better he says.

“Concho has a superior pepper that has almost been forgotten. “I want the world to see the talent we have in Concho. All we need to do is to be us. Planning is good, but sometimes you got to get up and just move, Brown says.

Kareena Maxwell is an eight-time award winning author of seven books including “The Granny Chronicles: Learning to Speak Leopard,” “Meth Moon: To Hell & Back,” “The God of My Shoes,” and four other novels. Her books are available on Amazon.com. kareenamaxwell@aol.com.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

 

 

Influential women of Concho

Three iconic and influential women of Concho

By Kareena Maxwell

Cori Rutherstrom Brown (in photo above), Marie Rhodes, and Ronda Sharp haunt me.

They provide, donate, share, problem solve, and provide for the hungry minds and bodies that could easily go unnoticed. The thing about these women is that once they know someone is in need, they move forward to make a difference in that life. As I spoke to each one, it was easy to understand why they do what they do and why they are influential in Concho.

Cori Rutherstrom Brown, First Grade Teacher, Concho Elementary School, giggles at the thought that she is somehow making a difference. She lives in the space of making modifications by incorporating what she needs in her life and sharing that healing mode with others. She’s a flute with the breath flowing through the mouthpiece without covering up the holes. Her music is not quite atonal but free form with strong goals and a clear objective, “Do the best you can with what you have,” she says.

We sit together in a Concho Elementary School classroom where she teaches first grade. Every day she works to make a difference in the lives of the children. Varied learning needs and styles fuel her to show up in their lives as the transitional adult who will float them into the pride of learning. She’s been all over the world, is a tireless creator and values Concho. Her life journey from being named after Corrie ten Boom, who rescued Polish Jews from Nazi, Germany. She is reflective and absorbed in memory from making a handbag in 2004 from a recycled flight suit and the current life she shares with her husband, Chris Brown. Her accomplishments from co-creator of a hot sauce, to the Cori Company she established from products she created to heal herself, to the Concho Kitchens United that she co-operates with Chris Brown. Mrs. Brown’s inspiration to Concho holds tight to feeding the hungry, teaching special children, and for molding life on the mountain into a better place to live. “Laugh more, love more, and fight less,” she says.

Marie Rhodes, co-owner of The Sugar Shack, wife, mother and grandmother moves around the restaurant with her face forward and mind on the future. She exudes warmth, a nurturer by design, she dreamt as a child of having a big house with fields around it and everyone coming to the homestead to eat. The manifestation is real. Everyday her life is spent preparing to feed others. Occasionally, cash challenged travelers are overlooked when the lint in their pockets offer little payment, after all nurturing and caring is the dream that pushed her forward from watching her grandmother when she was a child, who went between families and cooked. Marie’s days off are spent baking cakes, cookies, pies and hamburger buns. “When kids aren’t doing well it breaks my heart,” she says. Her influence is her predictability, her kitchen that feeds people, and the depth of her dependability that could almost seem simple until she reveals her most thoughtful answer that in this country kitchen, “A lot of older people have a good time.”

 

Ronda Sharp, Title l Coordinator, Concho Elementary School refuses to use a potato peeler ever again. The low cost food would be packed into the family car when she was a kid, “As many as we could get in there,” she says, and then for hours she and her family would peel. From humble beginnings, to being the first one in her family to get a high school, bachelors and ultimately a master’s degree, her life as an educator is fitting. Her accomplishments fireball into a life of providing students and her family with options. There is charm and vibrancy to her presence. Like a steady motor she speaks by watching and then takes action by accessing thereby problem solving for the most vulnerable of the vulnerable…children. Her credits also include, the McKinney-Vento Liaison for homeless services, the annual Clothe-A-Child program, the school back pack program that feeds children over the weekends, and recently on the team to provide a clothes washing program, Three Colts and a Tub, that will begin next school year. Her beliefs are firm and within the framework that we help children especially if their home lives are challenged. Take care of their basic needs, she notes. “Feed them, show them you care and then you can reach them.” She continued, “We need to understand the needs of children. Some don’t want to help because they think they are enabling the parents, but they forget about the child.” She lived for a year as a child in a renovated school bus with her mother, siblings and grandfather. “It had three-tiered bunk beds, and we worked on it together.” For the children she encourages she says, “We almost make it seem like they have equality but they don’t. How are we supposed to educate kids if we don’t see them as people? I lived their lives, I relate to their struggles. This is their reality now,” she says, “but they can break the struggle.”

Kareena Maxwell is an eight-time award winning author of seven books including “The Granny Chronicles: Learning to Speak Leopard,” “Meth Moon: To Hell & Back,” “The God of My Shoes,” and four other novels. She moved to the White Mountains 4 years ago from New York City with her husband where she lives in a World War ll-style Quonset hut. Her books are available on Amazon.com. kareenamaxwell@aol.com.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

 

Remembering on Memorial Day the meaning of freedom

by Kareena Maxwell

Concho, Arizona—It always seems like some people do all the work and I get to show up and enjoy their efforts. Today was no different. I showed up at the Lions Park in Concho, Arizona, on this Memorial Day Monday celebration and got to make the rounds. After caretaking for my mother, I didn’t want to rush. I thought about taking her with me but in the last minute was grateful that she was distracted with sorting through her clothes and I went by myself. It was a guilty pleasure as I got to roam around looking for the two I met yesterday at the Concho Valley Community Church, Lesa Ward and “Skip” Higginson, but somehow I missed them. And this is Concho. We never run out of ideas and interesting lives to listen to. So, on this warm afternoon, in a town where the elevation is about 6,300 feet above sea level, under an ominous sky, I found two kids who I have worked with at the Concho Elementary School as an Instructional Aide. They too were roaming and after saying they were thirsty, we sat down together and while they ate hamburgers, and potato salad, I wanted to know how they felt about this day.

“It’s a day that you congratulate the veterans who fought for our country when they were young,” one said. “They fight for your country,” said the other. How could those answers be wrong? They aren’t … and soldiers and veterans do exactly that. As I looked around, at the tables where folks like me and the two girls sat and talked and ate the food that was prepared by volunteers and genuinely good people, I wondered if they thought like me. That they show up and someone else has done the work. I didn’t ask. I looked instead into the two faces that were in front of me. Little girls who have things done for them, for the most part, in this town in America. Some, veterans and military people, don’t go abroad and have things done for them while they get to scout the park, or even look for stories. I get to do that. I can and do make contributions to needful situations anonymously. But I can engage in freedoms because someone made my world better. In fact, many soldiers who went to battle far, far away and never came back home to sit at a table or to watch others enjoy Memorial Day, ironically the day they are part of. They got to do the work and again I got to enjoy my life and the lives of others because of their sacrifice. Today, in the peace of my world, I honor those whom I will never meet and silently say thank you for all you have done and my students have it right…you fought for this country and we thank you  and applaud you for that.

Veterans in Concho share their history of military service at local church

by Kareena Maxwell

Veterans from different times and wars abroad were honored today at a Memorial Day weekend event at the Concho Valley Community Church in Concho, Arizona. I went to meet a local named Roughsedge “Skip,” Higginson but he had to leave. The look in his eyes and the devotion to his family told me he was a special sort so I told him I would catch up to him tomorrow at the Lions Park or the parade for Memorial Day. In the meantime, I met Lesa Ward, President of the American Legion Auxiliary District 6 in Concho, whose husband was a POW MIA. In the ritualistic arena of life where we remember what we went through as a country, it’s the stories of each one that stand out. Today, the congregants and the considerate members of Concho, who could make it to the memory of wars, medals, deceased people they loved dearly and a gentle fusing of Jesus, they listened, laughed and allowed moments of gratitude and vulnerability to take them back.

Colonel Hunsacker was the voice of recall and history. “It’s a new beginning at this church as today we honor a Memorial Day Celebration for men and women who paid the price for somebody like me to stand here,” he said. The room was softly filled with men who seemed bigger than usual in clean suits and deep voices. Perfume permeated the cool, white room as the veterans who are still with us, accepted the words of wisdom and gratitude from the Colonel. I appreciated every minute of it. He reminded us that it’s the responsibility of veterans to “Keep the tradition going.” We were also told that uniforms were basically borrowed from the Romans, and Memorial Day began in 1868 by General Logan. The 31st of May was picked because there were no battles or war on that date. The important part of remembering soldiers was enhanced by informing us that, “Soldiers wear medals because they earned it, and to represent the men and women who have served.”

It was a celebration with humor, history and a lot of heart. A commune of veterans being valued for protecting the United States of America that provided safety to their homes and families back home. Some veterans come back able to continue with their lives. Others are not so fortunate. I leaned forward on the edge of my seat listening to the subtle cry of a wife as her eyes lead the story. The end of May always brings the memory forward. I will meet up with Lesa and “Skip” tomorrow. The sharing helps.

 

Philosophy Café in Concho where words bring neighbors together

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Philosopher, Jay Warren Clark in photo above, conducts the Philosophy Café every second Tuesday of the month in Concho, Arizona.

By Kareena Maxwell

I took two philosophy classes in college and as a communications major it was the perfect infusion of how to listen to what someone else was thinking. With topics like ‘just’ and ‘good’ a seamless match to my idealistic thinking I was on a roll. I took notes and imagined a world where we could talk to each other and keep the conversation flowing without judgment, be respectful, and keep an open mind that perhaps we can meet on common ground where life could be so much better for all of us.

On a recent Tuesday evening I met up with Jay Warren Clark who would like for us to talk to each other. The retired Philosophy and Religious Studies Professor sat at the Bull Market Café in…

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Philosophy Café in Concho where words bring neighbors together

Philosopher, Jay Warren Clark in photo above, conducts the Philosophy Café every second Tuesday of the month in Concho, Arizona.

By Kareena Maxwell

 

I took two philosophy classes in college and as a communications major it was the perfect infusion of how to listen to what someone else was thinking. With topics like ‘just’ and ‘good’ a seamless match to my idealistic thinking I was on a roll. I took notes and imagined a world where we could talk to each other and keep the conversation flowing without judgment, be respectful, and keep an open mind that perhaps we can meet on common ground where life could be so much better for all of us.

On a recent Tuesday evening I met up with Jay Warren Clark who would like for us to talk to each other. The retired Philosophy and Religious Studies Professor sat at the Bull Market Café in Concho as the participants walked over to his table. He was sharp with the generous presence of an accomplished philosopher who asked questions to engage us. He repeated the questions in a rephrase way with clarity and listened as one-by-one the group contributed to the opening topic, ethics and trust. The discussion went forward with the possibility that what we perhaps wanted to do was to define the theme with other ideologies of self-governing modes of behavior like, “do no harm,” or “global behaviors that result in death, internal and external, the existence of consciousness, or what is nature? Viktor Frankl and his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” was mentioned as a deeper way of living with horrific conflicts, and in the case of Frankl he was a concentration camp survivor from Auschwitz.

Mr. Clark mentioned the principles of philosophy by Aristotle and as I reflected a day later on the way the evening’s meeting went, I went back and researched and found that a good interpretation of the discussion would be Principle #3, “The Mean” by Aristotle, where “Moral thinking is steeped in sharp dualities: Good v evil, God v Satan, and right v wrong.” The goal to talk to each other, to listen, to share and no matter what to be tolerant to the way others think flowed that evening from the Philosophy Café at the Bull Market in Concho.

I believe it’s most likely true that if we speak to each other, and not at each other, the world we share could be a better place to live. A communications concept that is thousands of years old is like new with Mr. Clark and his gentle way of embracing a philosophical discussion prompted by the words: Ethics and trust.

The Philosophy Café meets every second Tuesday of the month at 6:00 pm, at the Bull Market, #7 County Road 5100, Concho, Arizona 85920.

St. Patrick was a noble man worth celebrating

by Kareena Maxwell

Green beer? Shamrocks and the intrigue of finding a three-leaf clover? St. Patrick who has been celebrated in parades every March 17th, (the date he died in 461 A.D.), is an American and an international tradition in many countries. The first parade was in America in New York City in 1762 and by the mid 1800’s Fifth Avenue was the place to be for St. Patrick’s Day. The writings by others have revealed some common threads of history about St. Patrick’s life and reputation. For one, that he was originally from a wealthy family in England and taken as a slave and kept in Ireland for 16-years until he escaped. “Patrick was a nobleman born in about 370 A.D. in Britain and kidnapped by Irish pirates at the age of 16, said Philip Freeman, author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography,” is noted by First Coast News.

Cities like New York City love parades. It brings out the celebratory nature and the comradery that busy people miss in their daily lives as they rush to their next goal. So a parade forces the locals to slow up a bit, gnarl at the traffic at intersections, and to fill the bars with St. Patrick’s Day revelers who think they know who he was. Being of English heritage and Irish influence is just part of his importance. He brought ritual of what he knew about Christianity to the Irish. This was a wise and peaceful man. Instead of fighting and trying to destroy a system of beliefs he, “Used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish,” according to “Who was St. Patrick?” on the History Channel.

At that time in Ireland the Christians were few and many practiced Paganism a belief that has its roots in nature. The Irish culture is known to center its traditions on stories and wonderful myths. All in all, telling tales, sharing dreams and even visions of angelic visits was probably what happened. “When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick’s life became exaggerated over the centuries—spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.”

The research, or the myth of St. Patrick is pretty much the same. He wasn’t from Ireland but was enslaved there for six-years as a sheep herder. He had two significant dreams in his life. One was to return to England. The second one was when an angel appeared and told him to return to Ireland as a missionary for the Christian faith.

Adrian Hado in his blog article, “The Psychology of a Holiday,” shares the following: “Dr. Linda Papdopoulos, psychologist, says that holidays are absolutely vital to our psychological and even physiological wellbeing – and that there’s a good reason that holidays are inbuilt into every single culture in the world.

“We need to remember that we are human beings, not human doings”, she comments. “We need time to relax, to unwind, to get out of a routine. While people are creatures of routine, they need a period of time where there aren’t any ‘shoulds’, or ‘have-tos’ or ‘musts.’ People that take regular breaks and time out to spend with their partners, or children, are likely to have better self-care skills – to eat better, to sleep better.”

According to various sources, St. Patrick was a sweet guy who went with the flow when he was captured and held in a different world from what he knew as a teenager. It is believed by many that he was placed in Mount Slemish in County Antrim. “He worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)”

It is known that St. Patrick was born in England to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. “Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity.” Eventually, he was able to escape and, “According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God’s—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.”

He walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, it was believed that he had another vision in which an angel in a dream told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, “Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.”

In the St. Patrick’s Confession he wrote, “My name is Patrick…I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many.”

Traditions and stories are many about this man who lives on in legend and if his message holds true it would most likely be that we can be with different belief systems, religious or otherwise, and still get along.

So, if we look at the St. Patrick’s day symbols of the color green, and shamrocks, (that he used to remind his followers about the holy cross), his legend has continued worldwide to encourage us to think about a gentle approach to discussions about differences in religion and, at minimal good conversations at the local pub about life, humility, and service to others.

Kareena Maxwell is an eight-time award winning author and a journalist with a poet’s heart. She is the author of seven books including “The Granny chronicles: Learning to Speak Leopard,” ”Meth Moon: To Hell & Back,” “Finding Juanito,” and “The God of My Shoes.”, and three other novels. She moved to the White Mountains 4 years ago from New York City with her husband where she lives in a World War ll-style Quonset hut. Her books are available on Amazon.com. kareenamaxwell@aol.com.