"I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides"

Christine Vernon

"There is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi I've always liked, “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”

I love that quote but I would have finished it differently. Instead of “...I refuse to be blown off my feet by any” . I would have said “I am often blown off my feet by many” . Then I would add “I want the best of all cultures to be in my life and adopted in my home.” Respectful apologies to Mahatma Ghandi whose quote inspired me and got me thinking of this subject of the beauty of the world's varied cultures once again.

From the time I was a child, before travel in today's world got to be tedious and tense, before airport security became an ordeal, before the challenges of aging presented themselves, I chronically longed to see the world and other cultures for myself. As time and opportunities became more limited, I compensated by having guests to my home from around the world, mostly young students but sometimes adult student visitors and guests, more than twenty-four. The experience made me feel connected to the larger international community. I learned so much from these visitors - a woman from Italy; a Russian bookseller here to learn about publishing from the largest publishing company in North America; a French traveller on holiday; a Turkish businessman; an Indonesian working on his Master's; a Japanese man who became an executive with a major auto corporation; the son of the largest frozen food manufacturer in France; German boys here with a church group to see the U.S., as well as a Swiss girl who spoke five languages fluently. Meeting and getting to know these people and their culture was a priceless part of our experience as a family.

Some of the guests from abroad stayed with us and some, like the Canadian Gilles Gagnon, whose piece “What Matters...” is here online, we visited for only an hour or so. Such is the case of a serendipitous meeting one Saturday morning in a coffee shop with Gilles. My husband and I met Gilles and had a long conversation with him about many things. When he heard that our computer was acting up, he volunteered to walk home with us and take a look at it. Sure enough, he fixed it. This was at least ten years ago and he and I have stayed in touch off and on. He begins his new website, “The Wisdom Speakers” as I begin mine, and we find that we still have a bond after all these years. We share the same sense of purpose, determination, and enthusiasm for what we are doing. Once you finish reading “The Dream of Democracy” , that would be a good time to read Gilles piece on gratitude.

Ann Stewart Anderson, our featured artist, is from Louisville, Kentucky. When I first met Ann in 1969, she was painting and in administration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Listening to the stories of her rich childhood seemed like tales of the household of “Little Women” , where something of consequence was always happening. Her two sisters, her mother, her father and her aunts, were gifted and accomplished. In addition to being creative in every aspect of her life, Ann was resourceful. She was the first person I ever met who made her own mayonnaise! She was, on every front, creative.

Ann was the woman I worked for when I graduated from college. She was a diplomat, an advocate for students, a gifted artist, a good cook, a world class networker, and a faithful friend among other wonderful attributes. Working for her as her assistant and being in her office was to be in one of the best and finest classrooms of my life. I am so happy to share her work with you on the occasion of this, her celebratory retrospective.

As we put this site together, our staff is committed to the idea that Women's International News is open to all. There is no political ideology here. It is not specific in terms of religion or spirituality. Our purpose is to learn from and be inspired by all, regardless, or maybe sometimes even because, of ethnic origin, color, gender, social and economic status, and sexual orientation. We seek inspiration wherever we find it, whether it is Mahatma Ghandi or Mary Baker Eddy, whose quote is under the section, SPIRIT. (Mary Baker Eddy is one of the few women to start and enduring religious tradition which, as a testimony to her goodness and wisdom, has many men as followers, The First Church of Christ Scientist.)

Women's International News is a place for us to be connected and to listen to the voices of women in the world, their thoughts, their concerns and their experiences. This initial “issue” of Women's International News has three articles involving children, fitting for the month of Mother's Day. Our purpose here is to provide an unprecedented opportunity for women to speak with one another about the things that matter to them and the things they love, just as they have since antiquity when they met at the well, or in recent times talk over their fences to one another. This is a place for men to speak to us about the things that matter between us. We all have fathers and some of us have husbands and sons as well as daughters. This is a place where women have the opportunity to have an international forum on the things that are meaningful in our lives. It is one more place for women to have a voice in the international community. In that spirit, together with our staff, I welcome you to our new site, Women's International News. Make yourself a cup of dandelion tea, described under “Health” , relax, and make your way around our website.

Christine Vernon

Christine Vernon is the founder and editor of Women's International News.