Sy has been going back over all of the posts on the blog and adding haikus to them. Ira Lieb suggested this quite a while ago, and with the help of mid-journey AI, we can add a little something extra to Sy’s Haikus. This one is based on the post “71 and Cyclone.” We’ll be posting more of these, depending on your comments! (SZ )

71 And Cyclone

A puppy horse—was Cyclone our gift of a horse—She gave us such joy.

Creating the Best Environment

Last night, at around 2 am, I woke up and began to think of “relationships and dialogue,” which led me to ponder the difference between the kitchen table and the office. 

Most offices are structurally formal, meaning there is usually a desk for the person who works within the office, chairs for others, and perhaps a couch. There is a hierarchy, implied or expressed, that is built into the very environment.

At the kitchen table in a functioning home, the very shape and structure of that meeting place serve to flatten the pyramid. Ideally, there is no greater democratic and relationship-building environment. I cannot overstate the value of significant relationships and the dialogue that takes place there. Of course, the kitchen table isn’t always a physical environment. It can be anywhere that people feel safe and listened to. 

As I’m sure you know, I consider dialogue and relationships the most essential conditions between people who are important to each other. I became a better person and leader because I was fortunate enough to have fostered a kitchen table environment for my own inner circle. Those relationships played significant roles in my life that continue to this day.

We all need to ensure we have a kitchen table, whether figurative or physical, and we need to make good use of it. All leaders, whether professional or familial, have the power to create environments, often being unconscious of their own influence. That is both the gift and the curse of being powerful. Recognizing the difference between environments that empower and promote authentic relationships versus those that foster submissive and fearful pawns is the hallmark of effective leadership.

The Kitchen Table—Do not take it for granted—It is powerful

More About the Kitchen Table

Over the last few years, I have written often about the “Kitchen Table” because it means a great deal to me. 

The table in the kitchen is the most democratic and informational place in our homes. It is where everyone sitting there should be acknowledged and listened to regardless of agreement. It is where each person has the opportunity to speak their own voice.

Ideally, the table is where everyone, including children, is treated as equals. This acceptance plays a meaningful role in each participant’s emotional well-being, including the all-important sense of belonging. To not be invisible, to speak one’s mind, ask questions, and give answers. All critical to growth and finding one’s own voice.

On the other hand, the kitchen table can also be where the suppression of voice begins with young children. They are told to be seen and not heard. This emotional damage continues into adulthood. How ironic that this happens at the most democratic environment in their homes! It is shameful that adults can do this to their children.

Lenette’s Memorial Celebration

Lenette’s passing on October 31 was a major trauma to me. I lost the girl I loved the moment she emerged from the crowd to ask about camp philosophy. I will always feel half-empty now that she is gone. I’m hoping you’ll be able to share her memorial celebration with me.

Although the venue remains to be confirmed, the date is set for the 6th of June in Reno. The event will include people who did not attend camp. However, there will also be a brunch the next morning (7th) only for camp people.

We’re hoping for a big turnout and need to know whether you can attend or not. Please let Merry know if you’ll come alone or with your significant other so we can get an accurate head count. If you can’t attend, please let her know also. We need your response by 

You can reach Merry by e-mail at: merrykogel(AT)me.com, or by phone at: four-o-eight-eight-nine-one-8326.*

*Trying hard not to make it easy for the bots to scrape personal info.

Current Events

I am working on the material that will be in my 4thbook. I’m brushing over all of my written essays to add a Haiku to each.

I love Haiku for obvious reasons. My intention is for them to capture the essence and point of the essay.

I admit to enjoying the process of making this so. When I’m finished, it will find its way to Amazon for printing and public purchase.

At this time, I think the title will be “The Kitchen Table.” I love the picture it paints.

As I’ve always maintained, Democracy exists there in its best form, where all who are seated are invited to freely be themselves. This is where participants acquire the tools that build relationships and where, ideally, genuine dialogue occurs. If not at the kitchen table, where else?


It is Wednesday, January 24 about 3:20 pm, and I sit at my computer. 

And my cat MEA sits on the desk watching me, nothing could be cuter.

She is my company, and most of the time, she cuddles with me.

She watches over me as Lenette once did a picture to see.

She knows I need her as company.

And I know this is true for both of us.

Although friendly and warm to visitors, it is me she trusts.

When in bed, she stays close to me.

That’s okay it is where I want her to be. 

She was close to Lenette and listened to her.

Not to me in the same way for sure!


I am working on my 4th book and like what I’ve written.

What I am doing is adding Haikus and none are like kittens.

They are, as Haikus should be expressed, lean.

They are naked as can be, and none are mean.

The sun is the sun, and the moon is the moon.

They express in so few notes the most basic tune.

I love its basic form and the lean use of words.

5-7-5 syllables are all that is written and heard.


He is “Danny” to me and the kids he grew up with. Yet, he is “Daniel” in the world he lives in now. After Camp Shasta, he earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Considering his work and achievements, he deserves the accolades others have given him. 

The program he started for girls in Nigeria, Africa, is now run by women from the region. The director is a “leader of leaders” and is developing and training leaders from within the population. These Nigerian women are expanding the program and are creating even more opportunities for young girls. To date, they have reached tens of thousands of girls, teaching them reading, writing, and mathematics. It has helped many avoid early pregnancy and enabled countless others to build small businesses. 

While the Nigerian women keep the process moving and growing, Daniel remains their mentor. Incidentally, he attributes much of what he has done to the things he learned at Purple Sage and Camp Shasta.  I couldn’t be prouder.

Now, technology offers me an opportunity to join Daniel in mentoring the Nigerian team. Daniel and I are going to do remote workshops with the inner circle of women who have already achieved so much. Everything about the program is extraordinary.

CNN recently featured the program in a photo essay on their website. Check it out. 



Nigeria, where something special is taking place.

Young girls are being helped to find their space.

To find, to know they can live a better life.

To hear from their teachers that they have choices better than strife.

To choose a better life, a future for their own sake.

They discover there is much more to life and decisions to make.

A freedom to be themselves and not another young mother.

They learn that they need not be smothered.

To chose for themselves what they want to be. To choose for themselves to be free.


I wrote of Nigeria in my last.

A story to tell all and one not past.

It continues its growth to reach as many as it can.

Money as gifts is a necessity within the plan.

We must be grateful to those who give.

For what they give many young girls live.

How good that this takes place.

An act of charity, an act of grace.

That there are people who do this and are one of this kind.

It is the overall love of people. This on their mind.

The world is better because of them, that by their giving they mend.

The Simple Rules of Good Leadership

I’ve written about these many times, but I think they are worth repeating.

A leader of any organization is ultimately responsible for the performance of those they lead.

First and foremost, they are role models, understanding that what they put out is what they get back. 

The rules are simple:

  1. Be fully present when with your employee.
  2. Authentically hear and understand what your employee is saying.
  3. Ensure they are heard and understood.
  4. Respond honestly, knowing agreement is not necessary. 

When these guidelines are followed, genuine relationships will flourish to everyone’s benefit.

A leader who does not see that their behavior is the key is either foolish or ignorant.