Thursday, March 9, 2017

Ford Foundation's Darren Walker: Generosity Generation

Darren Walker, president of Ford Foundation, was in Los Angeles recently to hold a public conversation with Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director of LA County Art Museum.

Sadly (to those of us working in the arts) they didn't speak about funding for the arts which are (once again)  facing a dismal, dare I say bleak, future with the folks in DC wanting to axe the NEA.

According to Walker, Ford doesn't have programming strength in the arts, health and even education and will not provide grants in this area. Ford seeks to promote its comparative advantage   in the "realm" of social justice with its fully focus on challenging inequality.

What he did emphasize was that he wants people to be more generous, not in that altruistic way. People need to give until the situation changes, not just when the nachas (prideful pleasure) overflows into the ego.

I couldn't agree more. 

When even the most seemingly unimportant situation has a profound blockage that cannot be penetrated, I will often query my inner HB as to whether someone is not being generous. It usually informs the situation.

Your humble Holy Beggar has discussed this in the past, but a refresher is always appropriate. According to Maimonides, the next to the highest form of charity is when the donor and recipient are unknown to each other. The highest form is that support provided until the recipient can move ahead on his/her own. (Note: Most institutional funders are not willing to support a project until the recipient is fully self-sustaining.)

Walker also wants the Foundation be a catalyst (my word) to reverse hopelessness and find ways to enliven, revitalize, kick-start (my words) a situation and let it flourish towards sustainability. He supports the notion that eccentric, even avant garde world views can and must dislodge the legacy of status quo if there is to be change.


Thank you, LACMA, for hosting this conversation.

And Remember ...

No matter what ...

Don’t forget to ASK FOR THE MONEY!


Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Dear Passers-by and FotHB (Friends of the Holy Beggar):

The national election in the USA has zapped all my attention. Instead of improving my begging sign, I have spent much time creating protest signs for the Women's March against the vulgar he-who-shall-not-be-named and his cadre.

I did not abandon my spot, although someone might come along and use it if I'm not working it.

In the meantime, I'm offering this review by Rebeca Solnit.

"From the new book by Sunaura Taylor about animals and disability and intersection, Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation, she writes: Animalization has long been used as a tool to segregate and police disabled people. We can see this in the “ugly laws” legislation that existed from the 1860s to the 1970s across the United States, which made it illegal for “unsightly” or “disgusting” people to be in certain public spaces. These laws were often intended to get rid of beggars, and at times overlapped with laws designed to clean the streets of stray animals. 

In her book The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public, Susan Schweik, a professor of English and disability studies at UC Berkeley, describes how anxieties about disability, as well as poverty, class, race, gender, nationality, and animality all intersected in these laws. In some instances, human beggars were compared to stray dogs or other animals, and Schweik suggests that “the threat of unsightly beggars who might spread disease or bite the hand that fed them got phrased at times as a problem of animal control.”

While I was not consulted about the begging sections, nonetheless, I trust the recommendation and hope that you will find it useful.

Remember, no matter what,

Don't forget to ask for the money.

Yours truly,