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Joan Levine – Portland, OR USA (English)

Hi! My name is Joan Levine, living in Portland, Oregon USA, on the west coast of the United States. Oregon is a green, beautiful state just above California. I was born in New York City but have spent 36 years in Oregon. I am 67 years old, with 3 grown children and 1 grandchild plus 1 on the way from my own children plus 4 grandchildren from Yehudah Winter’s children, since he and I are a couple. We share our home with 2 renters, which helps to pay expenses and creates community. We will be traveling to Indonesia for the first time for 2 months beginning late December, 2016.

Yehudah & Joanie

We live in a private home with a large garden, both ornamental and edible. We grow lots of vegetables, fruits and berries, so that keeps us pretty busy in three seasons of the year. I spend quite a bit of time marrying couples both in our home and backyard plus at many gorgeous places throughout Oregon and Washington. Our business is called “Your Personal Ceremony” and we are called “wedding officiants.” We are also both Compassionate Listening Facilitators and conduct a monthly practice group plus we hold trainings several times a year. Compassionate Listening is all about listening and speaking from the heart. We have facilitated trainings during our travels to Rwanda, Uganda, Israel and Palestine. We particularly enjoy traveling to new places – and Compassionate Listening provides a way to more closely connect with people in meaningful ways. I have also taken a class on the Alternatives to Violence approach plus we presented a workshop on Compassionate Listening at last year’s AVP yearly gathering, where I attended several presentations and met many people involved with AVP. Compassionate Listening draws its focus on Reflective Listening from AVP as Gene Knudsen Hoffman, one of the founders, was Quaker.

For everyday exercise, we swim, walk and bicycle. I attend an Authentic Movement peer group twice a month and weekly a dance improvisation group. In my earlier years I studied Dance Ethnology, the study of dance in comparative cultures, and danced Balinese, Javanese, South Korean and South Indian (Bharata Natyam) among many dance styles from countries all over the world. I taught multicultural and creative dance in the schools for about 15 years. Dance continues to be an important part of my life as it is the way I feel that I can best understand myself and others.

Most recently, after visiting Israel and Palestine with the Compassionate Listening Project (compassionatelistening.org) I became very passionate about helping others see this conflict through the transcriptions of the people we listened to, so I developed Conversation Cafes where we show a slide show of the journey, share verbatim vignettes and lead people through a process of sharing in small groups so everyone in the room is able to share opinions and perceptions. Most recently I was invited to be on a panel on “Hate Speech and Violence” at the Northwest Parliament of All Religions day-long event, which provided the opportunity to lead some meditations focused on heart-centered listening.

I am a member of the P’nai Or (“Faces of Light”) of Portland Tikkun Olam (“Healing the World”) Committee and currently serve as both Treasurer and organizer of a donor fund that supports about 20 students from pre-school to college in both Rwanda and Uganda, especially among the Abayudaya community, a Jewish group in southeastern Uganda. This year we bought bicycles for 10 high school students as well as solar reading lights so they can study at night. The fund also helps people by providing loans for starting small businesses, for health crises and food shortages.

I try to be a good listener in my daily life – for friends and family as well as to anyone I might meet. My friends are people who share similar values. They tend to be creative, empathetic, engaged, politically aware with a zest for life, appreciation and deep connection with their children and elders.

I, personally, have a deep appreciation for the world of nature. I love being in the forest, by the ocean, hiking up hills and enjoying the trees and flowers. In our travels I always meet very kind, thoughtful people, who make me appreciate the kindness that can be extended to a stranger, and so I do this in return whether in our own city or far away. My hope, I suppose, is that regardless of all the challenges we face globally, I still have faith in the essential goodness of people and therefore see us as being able to slowly but surely deal with issues and evolve our consciousness soon enough not to simply extinguish ourselves from the face of planet Earth. It might be that I am too much of an optimist!

November, 2016