Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Category: Gatherings

Share the Wealth with Carrie Niswonger: Share the Wealth with Carrie Niswonger: Life Through a Lens

Photography is another way to view the world around us as well as using our eyes. While photography  has many uses, numerous people popularly use it as an artistic medium to capture moments, emotions, and memories, all collectively showing a different way to view life. Photography is also one of the very few things that defies impermanence– moments are forever captured in time to show and teach others.

As a sixth grader, I was fascinated by that idea– to capture a past moment. So, I received my very first camera for my 11th birthday. Almost 9 years later, as a sophomore in college, I have yet to put down the camera as well as take a formal photography class. 11 year-old me was determined to teach myself and learn along the way. Despite my status as an amateur-photographer, sharing my photos and showing others how I see the world brings me great joy, although I rarely have a chance to do it. Therefore, I am delighted to talk about one of my passions and share my photos.

Join us!
Sunday 23 July 2017
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Carrie will share at 6:45
At the home of Christine Wallach and Carrie Niswonger
5 East Lake Road
Fenton, MO
63026

From Chris: Directions from Google will take you to the mailbox at the end of my gravel road. Follow the gravel. When you see a three car garage (my mother’s house) look to the right for a right turn. Follow that down to the bottom of the hill and you will arrive at my house.

Share the Wealth with Ben and Liz Burkemper: The Hidden Ground of Love: Exploring the Writings of Thomas Merton

Ben and Liz Burkemper, father and daughter, are fascinated by the figure of Thomas Merton — a prolific writer, Trappist monk, poet, prophet, peace and civil rights activist, theologian, and mystic. Fresh from the latest general meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society at St. Bonaventure University, where Merton taught English in the early 1940s, Ben and Liz are set on fire and ready to share their reflections on this enlightened monk through the lens of the meeting’s theme of “Pilgrimage, Prayer, and Prophecy.”

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

A lawyer by trade, Ben is encouraged by Merton’s endless spiritual journey and quest for inter-religious dialogue. Liz studies peace and justice as an undergraduate in Washington, DC. She looks to Merton as a prophetic voice on her path towards contemplation-in-action, using thoughts in solitude to ground her as she seeks a world aware of its interconnectedness through social justice.

Join us!
Sunday 16 July 2017
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Liz and Ben begin sharing at 6:45
At Sophie House
4547 Gibson Avenue
Forest Park Southeast 63110
Please park at the west end of Gibson or on Taylor Avenue, or on the 4400 block of Chouteau.

Share the Wealth with Lizzie Corcoran

Did you ever invest a lot of time and energy doing something you loved? Do you still do that thing? For the first 18 years of my life, I was trained in classical ballet and modern dance. I want to reflect on the years of my life that I spent learning the discipline of dance and the purpose of creative outlets in our lives.

Lizzie is a recent graduate of Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, transitioning her life from St. Louis to DC to work as a fellow for the de Beaumont Foundation. Lizzie’s favorite things to talk about are as follows: public health, behavioral science, stand-up comedy, racism, white people, community, and which is the best St. Louis brewery.

Join us Sunday 4 June… Potluck diner begins at 6:00 pm, Lizzie begins sharing at 6:45, at her home 4561 Shenandoah, Saint Louis 63110.


This pic is from when I first started dancing. I was 6 years old and we lived in Ireland. That photo was taken right before my first recital.

Wednesday 10 May: Share the Wealth with Magan Wiles — BECAUSE MY HEART IS HUNGRY FOR YOURS: My Torrid Love Affair With Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango developed in the late 19th century in the working-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, which were teeming with lonely young men from Italy and Spain who crossed the ocean to seek their fortune, never to see their families again.  From this solitude and heartbreak grew the Tango: an improvised social dance with a technique born from the need to create and hold a warm embrace between 2 people.  We’ll talk about the history of Tango; the fascinating particulars of Tango culture; and its practical applications for performers, feminists, practitioners of mindfulness, and anyone interested in becoming better at partnership.

Magan is an actress, tango dancer, and small business owner whose passions all dovetail in an obsession with human connection.  She attended Saint Louis University as a theater undergrad 2004, and begin her professional acting career in St. Louis after graduation.  After completing an MFA in acting at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 2012, she moved to New York City where she was miserable for 2 1/2 years.  There she started Hustle Creative, which provides bookkeeping and business management for creative entrepreneurs; booked some decent acting jobs; and began casually dating tango.  She didn’t really fall in love until she moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and began taking classes with Oxygen Tango School that fall.  She frequently visits St. Louis to do plays and will appear in Small Craft Warnings with the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis starting May 3.

Join us
Wednesday 10 May
Potluck supper begins at 6:00 p.m.
Magan begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Jessie and Savannah
714 Limit Avenue
Apartment #1N
Saint Louis, M0 63130

Share the Wealth with Cami Kasmerchak: The Hidden World of Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier’s work was first discovered about 10 years ago when a man named John Maloof purchased a trunk full of negatives at a Chicago storage auction. Maloof did not know it then, but he had stumbled upon a small portion of Maier’s more than 100,000 film negatives. This previously unknown prolific body of Street Photography mostly captures life in Chicago and New York where Maier worked as a nanny. Her mastery of photography and the brilliance of her work have been recognized only recently. We will view some of Maier’s work, and discuss Maier, photography, and what our own “100,000 negatives no one knows about” might be.

Cami Kasmerchak is an amateur photographer fascinated by Maier’s near perfect exposure and focus in her work. Selfishly, she wants your take on some of her own questions about Street Photography and is excited to talk about one of her favorite photographers with others.

Join us
Sunday 30 April
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00
(please bring something to share!)
Cami begins sharing at 6:45
at 5305 Delmar Boulevard
Apartment  401
Parking on  Savoy Court
Saint Louis 63112

The Good News of the Barakats, 4.6.2017

Last night, Sharifa Barakat and I had dinner at Central Cafe (along with Imman Musa and Dania Saffaf Atienza).  Sarah Dwidar introduced me to Sharifa her freshman year at SLU on  sunny day on West Pine.  Later, she took a Social Justice  class with me, and we were part of SLU Solidarity with Palestine.  I have long been impressed with her humor,  love of literature, and keen sense  of responsibility.

After dinner, we walked to Left Bank Books to hear author Ibtisam Barakat (no relation to Sharifa) share her philosophy and read from her new book, Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine.  Someone asked her a question about the political solution to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian people, culture, and land, and she said point-blank, there’s no solution politically, there can only be a “soul-lution.”  Accordingly, her contribution is to tell the story of her life as a Palestinian in Palestine and the Diaspora.  She has  published two books so far, and she mentioned at least three others to come, insha’allah.

I was struck by Ibtisam’s clarity, calm, and compassion. Her presence is her message.

It was an intense, gentle, and inspiring evening.

Sunday 9 April — Share the Wealth with Marilyn Vazquez

I came to the U.S when I was five months old, and attended public schools, made friends, and played sports my whole life. I will be speaking about the two key issues facing the integrated and undocumented population of immigrants in the United States: health and education. I love this country, and it has always been my home, and I feel a great deal of patriotism for America. However, I realized, even though I blended in with my friends, my undocumented status created barriers to my future of pursuing a higher education. I will also share about my mother’s fight with an invasive and vicious breast cancer and how her undocumented status eliminated her chances of survival. As the election looms over our everyday lives, I believe the fear and anxiety among some communities must be shared with everyone.

I graduated from Saint Charles High School in 2016, and am attending Maryville to study Biology. I hope to pursue a career in medicine, and eventually work with the Peace Corps or Doctors Without Borders. I’m grateful and blessed for my friends and family I’ve built at Maryville and throughout my life. Without them, I wouldn’t have the life and opportunity I do now.

Join us
Sunday 9 April
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Marilyn begins sharing at 6:45
At the apartment of Kine and Puck on Maryville’s Campus
650 Maryville University Drive, 63141 St. Louis
Hilltop Apartments (far north end of campus)
Apartment number: Pine 15

The Good News of a Play, 3.31.2017

Playwright, clown, musician, and mensch Colin McLaughlin has invited friends over this evening to do a collective reading of his new play, Jailbird, about Eugene Debs. Colin asked me to read Debs’ famous statement to the judge at his trial for sedition, which includes the following: “Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”  May Colin’s retrieval of Debs eventually spread light and spark determination all over the U.S. and beyond.

The Good News of Monthly Mutuality, 3.29.2017

Since this past September, Cami Kasmerchak and I have been visiting monthly, taking turns to come up with an agenda to explore topics and themes of mutual interest, such as photography, politics, poetry, traveling, teachers, and, through it all, creativity.

Share the Wealth with Natalie Long–Abogados Descalzados: or, How Latin America Taught Me to Be a People’s Lawyer 

From the period of September 2009-January 2012, I was a law student, a law school drop-out, and a pupil of revolutionary Latin America. I eventually finished my law degree and became a licensed attorney…but only after spending time learning at the feet of communities in Mexico and Guatemala, where people taught me what it means to struggle (and to be a lawyer accompanying those in struggle).

It gives me joy to share the stories of the people who welcomed me into their homes and the lessons they taught me. Please join us for an evening of storytelling, reflection, and fellowship.

Join us
Sunday 26 March
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Natalie begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Marty and Jerry King
830 DeMun Avenue, 3rd Floor
Clayton, MO 63105