Pay it Forward Day

My high school friend Kathy sent me a Facebook invitation to Pay it Forward Day, apparently the second annual Pay it Forward Day created by David Del Mundo of Santa Cruz California.

Back in August I posted that Greg and I had never seen the movie, and thought we should rent it. We still haven’t done it – but it doesn’t mean that the concept has escaped us.

I haven’t been on Facebook all that much the past couple of days, so I didnt’ really look at the event page Kathy sent me until this evening. Its a cool idea, and its encouraging to read the comments from people…. on the event wall. Several people pre-paid for coffee for those in line behind them … one picked up an older woman and gave her a ride home … and another pointed out that its not only about purchasing something, rather its an attitude – a way of life based in kindness and gratitude. Someone else started a new Pay it Forward Every Day Facebook page, where you can share your random acts of kindness every day.

Some may say that telling people about the nice things you do for others somehow negates those acts of kindness. And I have to admit, bragging is not flattering. But part of spreading the the idea of doing good things in the world has to involve telling these stories – whether we tell what we did for someone else, or what someone else did for us.

I say tell it, spread it, watch it grow…. pay it forward.

– bev

Spook Handy’s Canadian Border Crossing

Here’s a fun story from New Jersey-based folk singer Spook Handy.  Spook had a house concert tour scheduled in Canada recently that had been set up by a non-profit group called Home Routes, and his story affords a first hand look at border crossing as an event between two people, rather than between two faceless countries.

We belong to several email discussion lists for musicians, music presenters and others sharing issues from working in new media to touring. A few weeks back, Spook asked for help on the Folk Alliance list, because he wanted to make sure he had is ducks in a row with right paperwork to take his CDs into the country. There are specific rules for taking product for sale into Canada – and most countries in fact.

We’ll, Spook got a lot of advice on the list – and a couple phone calls from friends who actually knew what they were talking about. The bottom line was, no matter how big or small your operation, you need to get the paperwork in order. And the next word of advice was to  just be honest. Don’t try to scam anything, its not worth it.

This was right up Spook’s alley – he’s a pretty straight shooter.

Spook’s  most recent release, Whatcha Gonna Do is all about encouraging individuals to make a difference in the world. Check out Spook’s Whatcha Gonna Do page and send him your suggestions… as he says,

People all over say they want to live in a better world. I believe it is up to us as individuals to make a difference and not depend on someone else to do it for us.

Back to the story. Spook obviously walks the walk. In this case, he walked it right into Canada. In a time when we see and experience fear all around us – especially at our borders – we just loved  Spook’s account of his Canadian border crossing, used here with his permission:

I successfully crossed the border but not without trepidation.  I told the guard I was here to work – to play house concerts and she sent me into immigration.  There, an unhappy fellow asked me the purpose of my visit.  I said to play house concerts.

“What’s a house concert?”

“People gather at someone’s home and sit around listening to and singing songs.”

“Are you doing this for money?”


“Do you make a living doing this?

I didn’t know how to answer that.

“What’s your definition of making a living?”

He was not amused.

“Where are you playing this concert?”

“In Mississauga”

“Where in Mississauga?”

“At a friend’s house.”

“What’s their names?”

“Umm, I don’t remember.”

“How do you know them?”

“Well, I don’t really.”

Just being totally honest.

“How come your playing music at their house?”

… and on the questioning went.  I told them about Home Routes and the folk music scene.  The fellow asked for my tour book and contract which he read thoroughly.  Then he asked,

“Why would people want to do this?

I paused for a moment.  Do I tell the honest truth?  “Well, we’re a subversive anti-government movement out to brainwash the public with left wing propaganda.”

I decided to tell a slightly different version of the truth:

“Beats me”  I said.

The fellow looked me up and down, handed me my papers and said, “Enjoy Canada.”

We’d love to hear how Canadian songwriters like John Wort Hannam have been treated coming into the US on similar ‘business.’

Building community through music in Santa Barbara

Music has the power to pull people together in community. Ask anyone who has hosted a house concert or volunteered for a music festival or coffeehouse concert series.

In fact, ask Roy Donkin.

Roy remembers the magic of the Eighth Step Coffeehouse in upstate New York – now in its 43rd year. Roy is a musician himself so he knows first hand that music is powerful stuff. Roy is also the pastor of Cambridge Drive Community Church in Goleta California, which has a wonderful commitment to opening its doors to the community.

And if you asked Roy how music can build community he’d probably invite you to to see for yourself, at the first acoustic music event in the Cambridge Drive Concert Series on October 1. We’re incredibly honored to kick off this new concert series in the Santa Barbara area.

Cambridge Drive Concerts presents
Bev Barnett & Greg Newlon
Rebecca Troon opens
Friday Oct. 1, 2010
Cambridge Drive Church
550 Cambridge Drive, Goleta Calif.
Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door
Call 805 964-0436 for reservations

Follow the Cambridge Drive Concert Series on Facebook

Stewart and Colbert March Together – or Against Each other?

Ok, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have our attention. We’re all about looking at the world from a place of love, not fear, so Colbert’s mission to bring people to Washington DC for a  March to Keep Fear Alive is just too much for us to take sitting down. We all need to stand up and listen to Bev Barnett & Greg Newlon sing Love Can Change World. You can watch the video right on this Web site.

Her’es what Colbert says on the March to Keep Fear Alive Web site:

“America, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear — that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our Fear — forces with salt and pepper hair and way more Emmys than they need. They want to replace our Fear with reason. But never forget — “Reason” is just one letter away from “Treason.” Coincidence? Reasonable people would say it is, but America can’t afford to take that chance. “

We’re not sure if Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity counter measure is the answer, but its worth thinking about. We might be too busy to actually do anything about it, but then again, that seems to be the whole point behind the movement.

The Huffington Post pulled it together with an analysis of these these two video clips from each satirist’s recent shows, saying either way, to expect lots of  Stewart and Colbert fans to show up in Washington on October 30.

We can’t be there though, we’re too busy.

Everyday heroes in San Bruno

We were in Central Oregon for the Sister’s Folk Festival last week when we heard the news about the gas explosion and devastating fire in San Bruno California, just up the freeway from our home in Campbell. It felt surreal to watch the news from far away, knowing that when we returned to the Bay area it would feel a bit different.

In times of crisis, the human spirit always shines through.  Stories of every day heroes come out… the off duty fire fighters, EMTs, doctors and others who head toward the disaster instead of just heading home… the friends and neighbors who act out of compassion. Its inspiring.

SF Gate reports that several of the first responders on the scene of the San Bruno tragedy gathered together near the blast site today and told their stories.

The first responders made a point of saying they were awed by the response of ordinary people who helped. Some offered to give over their vehicles – or their garden hoses – if needed.

In one instance, San Bruno Police Sgt. Mike Guldner said he was able to leave a burned man in the care of an off-duty doctor and paramedic who appeared before him.

“We had everyday people running into houses helping us,” said San Bruno Officer Scott Rogge. “Those are the true heroes. We chose to do this. We do it every day. But those people really stepped up.”

Read more:

What makes someone a “gentleman”?

Two of our friends have made their transition in the past six weeks. Both cancer-related. Both long before the rest of us were ready to let them go.

Chuck McCabe left us on July 23, 2010 – Kenny Edwards passed away on August 18, 2010

Kenny Edwards, Chris Kee, Bev Barnett, Greg Newlon

Both were good friends, stellar musicians and songwriters, incredibly giving souls and true gentlemen. We were talking the other day about our personal reactions to this loss.  We realized that its not really an emptiness we’re feeling… its more like we’re carrying around something extra. Not a burden. Its more like a bundle of memories.

Among those memories are the house concerts we hosted – both performed in our living room to a full house several times – and the Acoustic Fridays Songwriter in the Round shows we did at our home base coffee house, Mission City Coffee in Santa Clara California.

But what really stands out in our memories are the countless stories of Chuck’s and Kenny’s helpfulness to other musicians and songwriters, including us.  Both taught and nurtured budding songwriters – Chuck held works in progress sessions at Keith Holland Guitars in Los Gatos and Kenny was a mainstay at the Summer Songs West camps in Southern California.

Chuck McCabe, Bev Barnett, Greg Newlon

That word, gentleman, keeps coming to mind in describing both Chuck and Kenny. Gentleness… kindness… patience… maybe that’s a small change we can all try to make in our dealings with others.

What did you learn from your father?

Its Father’s Day weekend, and yesterday on KGO, our local talk radio station, the topic was “What did you learn about life from your father?” Radio host Gil Gross said “don’t over think this, just call in with the first thing that comes to your mind.”

The calls were inspirational. You can listen to the podcast of Gil’s show here.

Most of the calls were from people with great dads who taught them important keys to life either through words or actions.

But one call came from a man who didn’t have such a great dad. He and his siblings were abused by their alcoholic father, who was abused by his alcoholic father. He said that although his father wasn’t such a great guy, he can still be thankful for what he taught him… that he will never, ever treat his own children the way he had been treated.

Now that’s a positive way to look at a horrible experience.

The Child Help Web site reports that about 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the cycle of abuse – so stories about breaking this chain and overcoming the cycle of abuse are encouraging.

That’s definitely love at work in the world.

Worst Case Thinking

If you look around you can find all sorts of very sane people looking at this issue of fearful thinking not only as a limitation, but as a real danger.

Bruce Schneier is a renown security blogger. His latest missive, published on but better read on his own blog because CNN stripped out all the links, is all about the fallacy of worst case thinking. It almost like its the logical case for the Law of Attraction.

There's a certain blindness that comes from worst-case thinking. An
extension of the precautionary
, it involves imagining the worst possible outcome and
then acting as if it were a certainty. It substitutes imagination for
thinking, speculation for risk analysis, and fear for reason. It fosters
powerlessness and vulnerability and magnifies social paralysis. And it
makes us more vulnerable to the effects of terrorism.

Bruce makes several great points as to why worst case thinking makes for bad decision making. 

  • its only half of the cost benefit equation
  • its based on flawed logic
  • it can be used to support any position – or its opposite
  • it validates ignorance
  • worst of all – it leads to hasty and dangerous acts

This is just an overview —  read the entire article to get the full flavor.

And there is a line between being hopeful yet realistic, and being fearful and negative. We live with reality, but we can choose not to create negativity.

Can Yoga Change the World?

Reduce, recycle re-use… 40 years ago these were not every day concepts. But today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and in one generation we've become conditioned to head for the recycle bin instead of the trash with our paper, plastic and aluminum cans. 

Every time we make that effort, we show our love for the environment … and we help to change the world.

Some of us, like Recycle Your Mat founder Stephanie Stano, take that one step farther and look for ways to help the environment and change the world through programs that have a direct effect on people's lives.

Recycleyourmat Stephanie's goal for Recycle Your Mat is simple:

1) keep yoga mats out of the landfill

2) create a system for yoga mat recycling

3) recycle and up-cycle mats in a ecologically conscious

… but what she's done goes much further than that…


There are Recycle Your Mat drop off locations all over the country collecting mats that are sent to Stephanie's Eugene Oregon location. Our closest location is the We've Got Your Back store in Los Gatos. Many are redistributed for use in a unique program called Street Yoga. Here's a synopsis of the program from their Web site:

Street Yoga offers free yoga, wellness
and meditation
classes to homeless youth, and youth at risk of
homelessness. We hope to offer to the youth a chance to create sincere,
lasting wellness in their own lives, and at the same time give them
tools to help themselves meet their own core needs.

We're often asked Why Yoga with
Homeless Youth?
Don't they need food and shelter first? We've
gone through much searching after this. At it's core it's a matter of
respect and dignity. Why do we brush our teeth? Because, at best, it
helps us feel more healthy, whole and hopeful. Yoga provides that, and
so much more.

You might wonder about giving away Yoga sessions to street kids, when other organizations are giving them food, shelter and jobs. There's a very thoughtful article on this subject here, but basically, the Street Yoga folks explain it this way:

We've gone through much searching after this. At it's core it's a matter
of respect and dignity. Why do we brush our teeth? Because, at best, it
helps us feel more healthy, whole and hopeful. Yoga provides that, and
so much more.

Love can change the world in so many ways. Love has so many faces.The willingness to work with kids who have backgrounds of abuse, neglect, drugs and homelessness shows an incredible example of looking at the world from a place of love rather than fear. And providing a chance to interact with positive adult role models in a Yoga practice focused on self-growth and empowerment gives them something no one can ever take away… ownership of their own sense of self worth. 

And that's a great way to change the world.

Pay it Forward

Think of an idea to change our world – and put it into action.

That was the assignment that Kevin Spacey's character Eugene Simonet gave to young Trevor McKinney's seventh grade class in the 2000 movie Pay it Forward.

Can you believe, we've never seen the movie? We just don't go to the movies very often. I think we'll rent this one.

— Bev