Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nov 1 Tip: Learn about "Day of the Dead" Celebrations

November 1 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Learn about "Day of the Dead" Celebrations

http://www.dayofthedead.com/

Day of the Dead in Mexico represents a mixture of Christian devotion and Pre-Hispanic traditions and beliefs. As a result of this mixture, the celebration comes to life as an unique Mexican tradition including an altar and offerings dedicated to the deceased.

The altar includes four main elements of nature — earth, wind, water, and fire.

Earth is represented by crop: The Mexicans believe the souls are fed by the aroma of food.

Wind is represented by a moving object: Tissue paper is commonly used to represent wind.

Water is placed in a container for the soul to quench its thirst after the long journey to the altar.

Fire is represented by a wax candle: Each lit candle represents a soul, and an extra one is placed for the forgotten soul.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oct 31 Tip: Attend Sufi Concert on Friday, November 16

Friends,

Oct 31 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Please attend a Sufi Sacred Music Concert on November 16 as part of the Festival of Faiths

We join our friend Muhammad Babar in inviting you to attend an evening of Sufi Sacred music and meditation during Louisville's Festival of Faiths on Friday, Nov 16 at 6.00 pm at Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, 1701 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Louisville, KY 40203.

This is a free event and as seating is limited, registration is required using following link:

http://festivaloffaiths.org/2012/08/sufi-sacred-music-and-dance/

Please make note that traditional middle eastern snacks will be provided during the event.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Oct. 30 Tip: Learn about Louisville's "Educational Justice" Program

October 30 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Learn about the powerful "Educational Justice" Program in Louisville

http://educationaljustice.org/Home.html

We aim to provide high quality supplemental education to students who would not otherwise be able to afford it; our goal is to equip every student with the tools to pursue high education, a successful career, and an academically enriched life.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oct 29 Tip: Watch Turkish Whirling Dervishes perform the Sema Ceremony

October 29 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Watch Turkish Whirling Dervishes perform the Mevlevi Sema Ceremony

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S45OJnQp6mI&feature=player_embedded

The Mevlevi Sema Ceremony

Mevleviye are known for their famous practice of whirling dances. At their dancing ceremonies, or Sema, a particular musical repertoire called ayin is played. This is based on four sections of both vocal and instrumental compositions using contrasting rhythmic cycles and is performed by at least one singer, a flute-player (neyzen), a kettledrummer and a cymbal player. The oldest musical compositions stem from the mid-sixteenth century combining Persian and Turkish musical traditions. The repertoire was continuously broadened, and the first notations were made from the early twentieth century onwards.

Dancers would receive 1,001 days of reclusive training within the mevlevihane, a sort ofcloister, where they learnt about ethics, codes of behaviour and beliefs by living a practice of prayer, religious music, poetry and dance. After this training, they remained members of the order but went back to their work and families, combining spiritualism with civic life.

Following a recommended fast of several hours, the whirlers begin to rotate on their left feet in short twists, using the right foot to drive their bodies around the left foot. The body of the whirler is meant to be supple with eyes open, but unfocused so that images become blurred and flowing. The Sema takes place in a large circular-shaped room that is part of the mevlevihane building.

As a result of secularisation policies, all mevlevihane were closed in 1925. In the 1950s, the Turkish government, began allowing the Whirling Dervishes to perform annually in Konya on the Urs of Mevlana, December 17, the anniversary of Rumi's death. In 1974, they were allowed to come to the West. They performed in France, for Pope Paul VI, and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and other venues in the United States and Canada - under the direction of the late Mevlevi Shaikh Suleyman Hayati Dede. Many practitioners kept their tradition alive in private gatherings, and thirty years later, the Turkish government began to allow performances again, though only in public. From the 1990s, restrictions were eased and private groups re-emerged who try to re-establish the original spiritual and intimate character of the Sema ceremony.

The Mevlevi Sema Ceremony is proclamated as an INTANGIBLE WORLD HERITAGE in Traditional performing art social practices themes by UNESCO in October 2005.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Oct 28: Work for nuclear disarmament; embrace "Mayors for Peace"

Oct 29 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

On this, the 50th anniversary of the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, learn about "Mayors for Peace" and work for nuclear disarmament

http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/english/index.html

What is the Mayors for Peace?

In August 1945, atomic bombs instantaneously reduced the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to rubble, taking hundreds of thousands of precious lives. Today, more than sixty years after the war, thousands of citizens still suffer the devastating aftereffects of radiation and unfathomable emotional pain. To prevent any repetition of the A-bomb tragedy, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have continually sought to tell the world about the inhumane cruelty of nuclear weapons and have consistently urged that nuclear weapons be abolished.

On June 24, 1982, at the 2nd UN Special Session on Disarmament held at UN Headquarters in New York, then Mayor Takeshi Araki of Hiroshima proposed a new Program to Promote the Solidarity of Cities toward the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. This proposal offered cities a way to transcend national borders and work together to press for nuclear abolition. Subsequently, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki called on mayors around the world to support this program.

The Mayors for Peace is composed of cities around the world that have formally expressed support for the program Mayor Araki announced in 1982. As of October 1, 2012, membership stood at 5,418 cities in 155 countries and regions. In March 1990, the Mayors Conference was officially registered as a UN NGO related to the Department of Public Information. In May 1991, it became a Category II NGO(currently called a NGO in "Special Consultative Status") registered with the Economic and Social Council.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Oct 27 Tip: Embrace, Release, Heal

October 27 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Read Leigh Fortston on Forgiveness: Embrace, Release, Heal

http://www.soundstrue.com/weeklywisdom/?source=podcast&p=6817&category=WW&version=full

The act of forgiveness is perhaps the most powerful medicine we possess. It’s also the most elusive. When we feel hurt, betrayed, deceived, abandoned, abused, dismissed, or disrespected to any degree, our immediate response is to fight or flee. Fighting is associated with courage, while fleeing suggests protecting ourselves. Forgiveness requires that we surpass the instinct to fight and redefine the meaning of self-preservation.

To rise above the understandable reaction to fight or flee, we are charged with making a deliberate choice. Ordinarily, we don’t exercise that choice. Instead, we tend to want to duke it out, to dominate, to win; or maybe we want to walk away enraged or victimized in order to justify and fuel the anger and resentment we wear like armor.

Being treated badly, regardless of how slightly or severely, insults the native and correct understanding that we are absolutely worthy of being treated with respect, kindness, and love. That we should be honored is inborn knowledge. When we are not, the ego goes wild and tends to engage with glee in the blame game.
Cancer gives us plenty of reasons to feel angry and victimized. It may be the diagnosis itself, the painful and debilitating treatment, or the loss of our normal lives. We may also feel hurt and outrage at the expectation, imposed upon us by others, that we will die.

Then there are the frustrations of dealing with the current medical system, complete with insurance companies that double bill us or numb hospital bureaucrats who charge such exorbitant prices that we end up having to sell the ranch. Regardless, the cancer industry has forged a nearly nonnegotiable road for those who get diagnosed.

If those feelings of anger, resentment, victimization, and powerlessness somehow contributed to the creation of the disease, now is the time to dig down deep and begin the process of releasing. Chances are good that we didn’t experience these feelings for the first time just after the diagnosis; these are probably old and familiar members of our inner emotional tribe.

To heal, truly and deeply, we are charged with somehow, in some way, bypassing the urge to retaliate, to cast blame, or to further ignite the justifications for remaining a victim. We must find the still and certain center of our hearts, the place that wants to release the grievances and find peace. It’s the deepest part of our heart that knows, without doubt, that we are divine and there is no need to fight or blame. When we feel a tug to be still rather than to fight or flee, then we’re closer to that center, a territory so subtle and sublime that it can easily be overlooked.

Giving up the battle is a hard concept in a culture that thrives on drama and adversity. Before I grasped this concept, I judged a friend whom I saw backing off from an argument with a coworker, a situation where my friend was clearly in the right and the coworker clearly in the wrong. I inquired why she was submitting, and she said, “I asked myself if I’d rather be right or at peace. I’d rather be at peace, so I’m letting it go.” The ferocity in her eyes showed that this wasn’t the easiest choice, but it was the best one. Plus, she was telling me in no uncertain terms that this was none of my business.

Each of us is responsible for finding the sweet spot where forgiveness dwells. Each of us is in charge of how deeply we let our upsets, anger, resentments, and sorrows run. We have the choice—always—to let those heavy emotions go. Forgiveness is the way.

It is essential to enact forgiveness with every grudge or judgment that surfaces, because in order to truly heal, we must admit once and for all that we are not victims. Rather, at our core, we are powerful, pure, loving, blissful, peaceful beings. Playing the victim keeps us bound to the laws of the ego. When we forgive, we sanction who we really are. We no longer need or want to be the victim, because forgiveness takes us beyond the rigid dictates of right and wrong. It delivers us to compassion and the acceptance that we occupy a complex world in which every point of view can be understood.


Oct 26:Tip: Read Report from Violence Prevention Work Group

October 26 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Read the new report from Louisville's Violence Prevention Work Group

http://wfpl.org/post/read-louisville-violence-prevention-work-group-report

From WFPL News:

Louisville should hire a full-time violence prevention coordinator, do more to address vacant houses and foster more economic development in west Louisville, according to a report commissioned by Mayor Greg Fischer to find ways to address violence in Louisville.
“This is not a mayor’s office program, this is not a police department program, this is not a parenting program. It takes all of us," said Fischer.
The 37-member work group was created after three people were fatally shot in broad daylight in the Parkland neighborhood in May. Since then, five subcommittees have met to discuss how community building, education, employment, heath and criminal justice all play a role in the city's violence. 
At a news conference after the report's release, Fischer said the common themes of the report are youth, families and social norms.
Each subgroup proposed various recommendations--nearly 80 in total--which Fischer's administration will review and use to create a long-term violence prevention strategy over the next six months.The report is just the beginning, said LaQuandra Nesbitt, task force chair and city health director.  But, she said, Louisville is moving in the right direction.
A leading youth violence prevention expert, Jack Calhoun, met with city officials to discuss the report. He said, "the report you have is a gold mine. Now the work is to shape that into an action plan of goals, objectives."
Also among the Violence Prevention Work Group's recommendations  are Louisville schools to implement violence prevention programs for children in pre-kindergarten to grade 12, more diversity training for teachers and intervention programs for young people who commit their first crimes, the report said.
Read the Violence Prevention Work Group's report here.
Fischer said Louisville has already begun addressing some issues related to violence, but metro government has yet to make a full plan -- and he called for community support in that process.
Here are the 37 members of the task force:
  1. Chair Dr. Blaine Hudson, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Louisville (stepped down due to health issues)
  2. Vice Chair Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness (Current chair)
  3. Darrell Aniton, Louisville Metro Office of Youth Development
  4. Merv Aubespin, retired Courier-Journal editor and author
  5. Reverend Pedro Basden, Quinn Chapel AME
  6. Col. Kenton Buckner, LMPD
  7. Dr. Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen’s Church
  8. Bob Cunningham, civil rights leader
  9. Raoul Cunningham, President of Louisville NAACP
  10. Ralph De Chabert, Diversity Director for Brown Forman Corporation and Chair of Ali Center Board
  11. Christopher 2X, community activist
  12. Judge Sean Delahanty, District Court Judge
  13. Waymon Eddings, Chair for the Parkland Community Advisory Board
  14. Judge Brian Edwards, Circuit Court Judge
  15. Tad Hughes, University of Louisville Southern Police Institute
  16. Dana Jackson-Thompson, Executive Director for Network Center for Community Change
  17. Councilman David James, who represents Old Louisville and parts of west Louisville
  18. Rev. Vincent James, Elim Baptist Church, located in the Parkland Neighborhood
  19. Dr. Ricky Jones, University of Louisville, Department of Pan African Studies
  20. Eleanor Jordan, President of the Parkland Neighborhood Improvement Association
  21. James Leavell, Urban League, Reentry Programming
  22. Dr. Renee Mapp, Executive Director for Wesley House Community Services
  23. John Marshall, JCPS Diversity Director
  24. Rhonda Mathis, Community Activist
  25. State Rep. Darryl Owens
  26. Troy Pitcock, Louisville Metro Police Foundation
  27. Neal Robertson, community and neighborhood leader
  28. Christina Shadle, Greater Louisville Inc.
  29. Councilman David Tandy, who represents downtown and parts of west Louisville
  30. Steve Tarver, President and CEO of YMCA Greater Louisville
  31. Sam Watkins, President of Louisville Central Community Centers
  32. Lavel White, Connected Voices youth leader
  33. Richard Whitlock, Getting All People
  34. Jack Will, Executive Director for Jefferson County League of Cities
  35. Aubrey Williams, Sr., attorney
  36. Sylvia Wright, Shawnee Weed & Seed
  37. Dr. Tony Zipple, President & CEO of Seven Counties Services
Louisville has already trained 60 people for a planned crisis response team, but the members still lack certification. 
Louisville Metro Police recently created a VIPER Unit intended to address the city's worst criminals. Chief Steve Conrad said that by arresting those worst offenders, communities will be able to change crime in their communities.
 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oct 25 Tip: View a video with Native American Wisdom about Compassion

Oct 25 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Watch a video with Native American Wisdom about Compassion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2HPEMfOz8I

Native American storyteller, Kenneth Little Hawk, shares his thoughts about compassion. Learn more about his new book, The Common Thread That Binds Us at wisdom of diversity dot com.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oct 24 Tip: Celebrate Global Oneness Day today

Oct 24 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Celebrate "Global Oneness Day" Today

http://www.global-oneness-day.org/

Humanity’s Team declared 24 October 2010 as the first Global Oneness Day – a day intended to inspire awareness, appreciation and celebration of life’s underlying Oneness, that we believe all of life is connected, in the same way that Earth Day is intended to inspire awareness, appreciation and celebration of the earth’s natural environment. And like Earth Day, Global Oneness Day invites people to bring Oneness into their lives in practical ways, not just conceptually.

Practical demonstrations of Oneness will give people tangible, experiential proof that living in Oneness works. This will, in turn, encourage us all to expand our hopes, beliefs and behaviors so that, a generation from now, humanity will finally realize a dream it has had since time immemorial of a world living in peace, harmony and happiness.

Oct 23: View "Compassion and Wisdom"

October 23 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

View the video "Compassion and Wisdom: A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life"
(available in Louisville at Wild and Woolly Video)

http://www.vajravideo.com/index.html

NARRATED BY PETER COYOTE"Compassion and Wisdom" is a groundbreaking Buddhist film which combines interviews with many of the world's greatest Buddhist teachers and scholars with rare and often never before seen footage of Buddhist architecture, painting and sculpture in India, Nepal, Japan and the United States. Produced and directed by James Zito, "Compassion and Wisdom" is a thought provoking documentary examining the ideal of the Bodhisattva which is central to the Buddhism of late India, China,Korea, Tibet and Japan as well as their continuation in American Buddhism today. The Bodhisattva is a being committed to helping all sentient beings reach relative and ultimate happiness. The film includes an indepth examination of the Bodhisattva path and its main components: compassion and wisdom. Also included is a discussion of the relevance of the Bodhisattva ideal to current issues such as pollution of the environment, stress, the care and treatment of the dying and other ways in which Buddhist ideas can have a bearing on modern issues. The film also profiles the great historical Bodhisattva figures such as Avalokiteshvara, Manjusri, Tara, and Jizo still revered and worshipped daily by Millions of Mahayana Buddhists throughout the world. Valuable to both beginners and experienced practitioners "Compassion and Wisdom" serves as a primer for ompassionate living and offers a valuable and beautiful expression of timeless Buddhist ideas.
"The careful editing weaves the themes so closely together and builds a beautiful collage of voices that reinforce and build on each other while continuously setting everything within the practical context of modern life. A masterpiece !" - Professor David Chappell: University of Hawaii.
"The film is excellent conceptually and technically. It deals with some extremely complex subjects in a way that makes them accessible to intelligent 'newcomers' and it's beautiful" - Jean Smith: Author of 365 Zen and other Buddhist titles.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Oct 22 Tip: Learn the Ways that Art Therapy Can Ease Suffering

Oct 22 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Listen to a Radio Interview about the Ways that Art Therapy Can Ease Suffering

http://www.cathymalchiodi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Art-as-Therapy-1-3.mp3

Part of viewing art is interpreting the artist's intent, figuring out what the creator is trying to say.  Because it can be so personal, is a physical form of expression, and allows communication of thoughts and feelings that might not be articulated otherwise, art makes for good therapy.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oct 21 Tip: Take a Poetic Spiritual Journey with Wendell Berry

October 21 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Take a Poetic Spiritual Journey with Wendell Berry

http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/

A Spiritual Journey

by Wendell Berry

 
And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.


 

Oct 20 Tip: Discovering the Nature of Your Spiritual Personality

Oct 20 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Learn to Discover the Nature of Your Spiritual Personality with Jonathan Ellerby

http://www.soundstrue.com/weeklywisdom/?source=tami-simon&p=1431&category=PP&version=full

Jonathan Ellerby: What is Your Spiritual Personality?

Having the ability to choose your spiritual path can be both exciting and daunting. How do you know which ones will be rewarding, engaging, and compatible with your learning style? Jonathan Ellerby has studied many traditions and how people operate within them, and has created a system for determining your unique spiritual personality type. Sounds True producer Mitchell Clute chose this selection from Jonathan’s audio learning course, Your Spiritual Personality: Finding the Pth that's Right for You. Here, Jonathan provides a map for figuring out which path to spirit might best resonate with your beliefs, experiences, and who you really are.






Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oct 19 Tip: Learn How Animals Can be Compassionate

Oct 19 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Learn from Fredericka Chambers Learn about the Love and Compassion Animals Show Humans



Compassionate Clients
by
Fredricka Chambers

As an animal communicator, I am constantly touched by the love and compassion animals show humans. I am privileged to work with animals on a very personal level and have many examples of simple, but great acts of kindness. 

Last year, I volunteered to help rescued elephants in Thailand and Cambodia. These beautiful beings had been viciously abused for many years, but the rescue teams placed them in sanctuaries with loving care givers to assist in their rehabilitation. I communicated with the elephants to get their back stories, i.e., what had happened to them before being rescued.

One female elephant, who was about 65 years old, had been so beaten and starved that she didn’t know what a pineapple was. That’s the equivalent of an American not knowing what bread tastes like. This elephant’s thoughts were confused and truncated due to her starved and beaten body, so it took a couple weeks to piece together her life story. One day during a session, my head started pounding because I was focusing so hard. I didn’t pay much attention to it, but the elephant said that we should stop and rest because she didn’t want me to be in pain. After all she had been put through-witnessing her mother being murdered in front of her, and then being taken from her family and being used as nothing more than a slave-she brought tears to my eyes. She was sensitive to my minor discomfort rather than being bitter about her treatment from other humans. 

There are so many other examples that I see daily, for example, the therapy dogs who take on illnesses attempting to relieve the humans they’re working with, cats and dogs who wake diabetics up in the night when their blood sugar drops, and the patient animals who assist in animal communication classes so that humans can learn to communicate with them. When we chose to see the compassion of animals, we can be inspired to open our own hearts to a greater degree. 



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Oct 18 Tip: Celebrate "A Day of Kindness" today

Oct: 18 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

SPAVA asks you to celebrate "A Day of Kindness" today




Thursday, October 18, 2012
Celebrate
A Day of Kindness
Sponsored by
SPAVA*

On “A Day of Kindness,” SPAVA is asking everyone to:
Perform at least one random act
of kindness for another person
&
Refrain from all violent behavior
(including violent communication)

*the Society for the Prevention of Aggressiveness and Violence among Adolescents

For more information about SPAVA visit:


Oct 17 Tip: Cultivating a Heart of Compassion

Oct 17 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

From Spiritual Master Ram Dass: Learn how to cultivate a 'Heart of Compassion'

http://www.soundstrue.com/weeklywisdom/?source=podcast&p=6727&category=AGM&version=full

Do you believe that every action you take, no matter how small, makes a difference in the world? Such a thought could be overwhelming, especially considering how limited our understanding of cause and effect really is. Yet Ram Dass, the author of the classic spiritual book Be Here Now, believes that this thought can also open us to a great sense of possibility for being a positive force in the world. In this audio clip, he explores what it might mean to make our every choice from a place of true compassion.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Oct. 16 Tip: Enjoy a Concert for Contemplation with Harry Pickens

Oct. 16 Compassionate Living Tip from Interfaith Paths to Peace

Enjoy a Concert for Contemplation on Sunday Night (and enjoy an online concert by clicking on the link)

Please join us  at 7 pm Sunday evening, Oct. 21 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 1960 Bardstown Rd. in Louisville, and enjoy a one hour "Concert for Contemplation with Harry Pickens."  

And sample a concert from 2008 by clicking here:


This year the concerts will have a special emphasis on the need for compassion.  

The concert is free, but contributions are always welcome...

A special word of thanks to Fred Whittaker and our friends at St. Francis of Assisi for hosting thisconcert

About Harry Pickens 
Peacemaker, Educator and World Renowned Jazz Musician   

 
Harry Pickens was born in 1960 in Brunswick, Georgia, a town on the coast between Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla. His mother played organ and sang at church. His grandfather, whom he describes as a "comprehensive musician," played tenor saxophone, piano, and violin; sang and conducted choirs in church; and also played the trumpet for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1914 and 1915.
Pickens began playing music when he was 5 or 6, "annoying his family," he recalls, with endless repetitions of the first few songs he learned to play at the piano. Soon, he was accompanying his mother at church, she on organ and he on piano, and his excitement for music grew.

As a young boy, Pickens says, he was a rather "frail and precocious child," prone to illness and shying away from athletic activities and the like. He preferred instead to spend time cultivating his own rich and fertile imagination, often retreating into this inner world. However, as Pickens grew into a young man, he found the life of an extroverted musician more comfortable. He declares that these two periods of growth and the subsequent combination of values he developed-the solitary and introspective within the bright and extroverted-remain the essential elements of his personal creative process.

Pickens' international career as a jazz pianist has taken him to 17 countries throughout Europe, Japan, and the Americas. He has collaborated with many legendary musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, James Moody, Milt Jackson (Modern Jazz Quartet), Don Braden (musical director for The Cosby Show), Bob Hurst (bassist for The Tonight Show) and hundreds of others. His performance credits include recordings on the Blue Note label, international radio and television appearances (including Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz), and engagements in top concert and club venues worldwide.
Pickens lived in New Jersey in 1979, moved to Southern California for 12 years, then moved to Louisville in 1999 to be closer to his family. He soon fell in love with Kentucky, finding the people warm, inviting, friendly, and open-minded, and discovering the beauty of the changing seasons in Kentucky's landscape.

Pickens enjoys teaching and working with several charity organizations, including the Kentucky Refugee Ministries program in Louisville. There he leads various musical ensembles in an effort to bring people from different nationalities and backgrounds together through the creative joy of making music.
In 2009, Pickens received the Education Award in the Kentucky Governor's Awards in the Arts program.