Honoring Desmond Tutu by Diane Baum

Desmond Tutu

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we remember Archbishop Desmond Tutu who died at 90 years of age on December 26, 2021. Like King, Tutu was an honored civil rights activist, working for the liberation of his black community, as well as a man who worked for human rights world-wide. Like King, Tutu was a writer and theologian who stressed the principle of non-violence. And as with King, radicals thought Tutu was too moderate while moderates thought he was too radical. In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Prize for Peace – in 1984, twenty years later, Desmond Tutu also won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Desmond Tutu was born in South Africa in 1931. He was married and had four children. He trained as a teacher, then joined the clergy, studied theology in England and eventually became archbishop in the Anglican church, and the first black man to hold that position in the city of Cape Town.

Tutu never stopped working to bring his principles of justice to reality, nor did he shy away from controversy. He struggled for years to overturn the system of apartheid, and after Black South Africans won their freedom and got their country back, he critiqued corruption in the new government.

Archbishop Tutu then became the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He criticized his own denomination for its stance on women in the clergy as well as homosexuality and worked to relieve the AIDS crisis. Tutu launched a global campaign to end to human trafficking. He honored victims of the holocaust and recognized Israel, but at the same time, he criticized Israel for collusion with apartheid South Africa and for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. He worked for the liberation of Tibet. He protested the war in Iraq. He was against capital punishment and worked to help political prisoners such as the Sharpville Six. These were just some of his passions.

Desmond Tutu was awarded over one hundred honorary degrees and won many prizes for his humanitarian work. He is the author of seven collections of sermons and many books and articles.
Before his death, Archbishop Tutu directed that he should have a non-ostentatious, earth-friendly (“green”) funeral, using the process of aquemation. Thus Desmond Tutu was buried as he lived, according to his principles and a teacher for us all.

Remembering Judith Buchman


10 May 1948 – 19 October 2021

Judi is survived by life partner Richa, siblings Wayne, Sandee, Robert, and Dan and their spouses, many other relatives including Sandee’s child Sarah and Sarah’s two children, Ramona and Eleanor, all of whom Judi was particularly close with, and countless friends.

Judi was brought up on a farm in Pemberville, Ohio, by loving and hardworking parents. Graduated from East High School, where Judi was a class and student body officer, then in a compressed three years graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree.

Wanting to be a teacher from an early age, Judi then took their first teaching job in the public school system. That job lasted only a year due to disillusionment. Following that job Judi moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan with friends met at a camp in Michigan.

With a special passion for children, Judi decided not to have biological children, knowing there were already plenty of children who could use a supportive adult or another supportive adult in their lives.

Judi lived in several cooperative households in Grand Rapids, spending considerable time doing home schooling and daycare work, among other things.

Learning a lot about the war then being waged against people in Vietnam, Judi decided not to pay federal income taxes that were known to help fund that war. Judi’s method was to live below the income level that would require such tax payment. That proved entirely at one with Judi’s desire to “live simply that others may simply live”.

Judi was a strong supporter of all three main progressive “alternative” pre-internet newspapers published in Grand Rapids from the early 1970s until the late 1990s: The Root, New River Free Press, and The FUNdamentalist.

In the early 1970s Judi was part of a group that served meals to street people; an effort that grew into what became God’s Kitchen, which continues serving meals today to those in need.

Also in the early 1970s, following the sexual assault of a close friend, Judi helped start and worked with the group that established a local rape response group. That group evolved into the sexual assault support system that continues to operate today through the local YWCA.

After about ten years outside of formal school systems Judi resumed teaching, first at Climbing Tree School, then continuing when that school reorganized as a charter school and renamed itself New Branches Charter Academy. That job lasted about 15 years.

For many years Judi was a stalwart presence at the Grand Rapids based Institute for Global Education, and for a long time probably did more than anyone to keep it going and relevant.

In 1990 Judi brought trainers from Children’s Creative Response to Conflict (now Creative Response to Conflict International) to Grand Rapids to train interested people in their innovative methods. Shortly afterward Judi brought another program, Circles of Peace, to Grand Rapids. Circles of Peace promotes discussions and commitments to seven basic principles that embody how Judi lived: Respect Self and Others, Play Creatively, Listen, Communicate, Forgive, Respect Nature, Act Courageously. Judi took those programs to schools, neighborhood groups, parks, and elsewhere in Michigan, with emphasis on teaching others to become facilitators.

In 1986 Judi and life partner Richa decided, as a challenge to Kent County and the City of Grand Rapids, to divert property taxes to neglected and oppressed people and groups both locally and globally. In 1995 that resulted in loss of their home of about 20 years.

Upon losing their home Judi moved to Well House, a homeless shelter operated by a long-time friend, and became a staff person there. Several years later Judi became the director, leading Well House’s transition from emergency shelter to permanent supportive housing before finally retiring in 2010.

In 2000 Judi was one of a dozen people who signed off on recommendations for basic justice in Grand Rapids as part of the Mayor’s Justice 2000 Task Force. It was the most comprehensive blueprint for establishing justice – that is, basic fairness – that had been compiled in the City’s recent history, if ever.

Judi was never one who wanted to stand out, and always worked in collaboration with others.

Early on in Grand Rapids Judi found a spiritual home in the Grand Rapids Society of Friends, later becoming a member formally. That remained an important part of Judi’s spiritual community and a steady source of spiritual support for the rest of Judi’s active life.

Judi’s greatest legacy is not in the numerous accomplishments that can be easily listed, but in the goodwill and positive energy that Judi spread to virtually everyone they came in contact with personally: children and adults, rich and poor, women and men and otherwise, all manner of ethnicities, ”liberal” or “conservative” or whatever political stripe…even those who were initially antagonistic – as often was the case, for instance, with traumatized people who came to Well House. Judi brought hope to many such people and helped them feel good about themselves.

Judi had an incredible ability to identify with, empathize with, and make friends with virtually everyone. And virtually everyone grew in positive ways, large and small, from whatever relationship they had with Judi. A lifelong peace activist, that natural, personal interaction with others was surely Judi’s greatest contribution to peace in our community and our world.

Judi’s last few years were diminished by dementia, the disease which finally claimed Judi’s life. But Judi had loving care at home through that time and was blessed with a good quality of life even with that life-draining illness.

For those who wish to make financial contributions in Judi’s name, checks may be made out to “Grand Rapids Friends Meeting” and sent to:


Grand Rapids Friends Meeting
P O Box 1274
Grand Rapids, MI, 49501


Perhaps the best memorial gift you can give in Judi’s name is to carry on, as best you can in your own life, Judi’s legacy of peacemaking and deep caring.

IGE Movie and Discussion “Crip Camp” for Ability Awareness

Crip Camp movie on Netflix or Youtube

Event: Movie: ” Crip Camp ” –  This is a documentary about a summer camp
for teenagers with disabilities, transforming their lives and igniting a landmark movement.
It was nominated for an Oscar as best documentary for 2020.  Duration is 1 hour 43min.
Where:: Institute for Global Education
1118 Wealthy Street SE.
Grand Rapids, Mi 49506
When: September 29 ,2021
Time: 6:30 pm-9 pm Please come early so we can
start the movie on time. Zoom discussion after the movie at 8:15 p.m.
If you decide to do zoom, please watch Crip Camp on Netflix or Youtube.
* RSVP to confirm your attendance in the office. IGE will only take 12 people
in the office.  Please wear a mask! To confirm please call 616-454-1642.

DNGR Advocating to Decriminalize Naturally Occurring Entheogens


DNGR Advocating to Decriminalize Naturally Occurring Entheogens

Press Release June 9, 2021

For Immediate Release:

Decriminalize Nature Grand Rapids (DNGR) aims to educate the Greater Grand Rapids community about the therapeutic potential, history of indigenous use, and approaches to safe and responsible use of entheogenic plants and fungi. These include psilocybin mushrooms, Iboga, mescaline-containing cacti, and ayahuasca.

Research from several reputable medical and/or scientific institutions, such as The Johns Hopkins University and the US Food & Drug Administration have demonstrated that compounds in entheogenic plants and fungi can be significantly more effective than existing therapies in treating depression, end-of-life anxiety, substance use disorders, and other ailments. Because of these health benefits, DNGR is part of a movement of cities across the country seeking to decriminalize natural plant and fungi medicines.

The education and advocacy organization has recently begun meeting with city officials to discuss a resolution decriminalizing these plants. The resolution is similar to resolutions passed in other cities (of note, Ann Arbor, MI) and hopes to pass this resolution via the approval of the Grand Rapids City Commission. Kurt Reppart, Commissioner in Ward I, is leading the effort on the City Commission.

“According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention1, Grand Rapids residents’ rate of depression is over twenty percent. At the same time, The Food and Drug Administration has granted psilocybin (found in entheogenic mushrooms) a ‘breakthrough therapy’ because of its success in treating depression. The time to explore alternative community health approaches to effectively treat depression has come,” says Chad Beyer, one of the founders of Decriminalize Nature Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids is poised to become a leader in this movement to improve the health and well-being of its residents.

For more information, contact Chad Beyer, Co-founder of Decriminalize Nature Grand Rapids, at email hidden; JavaScript is required or visit https://www.decrimnaturegr.org/.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. BRFSS Prevalence & Trends Data [online]. 2015. [accessed Mar 13, 2021]. URL: https://www.cdc.gov/brfss/brfssprevalence/.

Mike Franz’s Celebration of Life will be July 9, 2021

Mike Franz

The Celebration of Life for Mike Franz, postponed since September 2020,

has been planned.  Please mark your calendar for Friday, July 9, 2021, at 11:00 am.

This will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church, 2600 East Fulton St. in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

There will be visitation with family at 10:00 am and a service will be held at 11:00 am,

immediately followed by lunch.  There will be time during the service for reflections.

There will be two speakers from IGE to share about Mike.  Please respond by July 1, 2021, to Kim McKeon at email hidden; JavaScript is required

if you would like to attend.

Thank You,

Kimberly McKeon, IGE Co-chair 

IGE has lost another great devoted worker for our cause, Mike Franz.  Mike taught English and Film at the  Grand Rapids Community College for 37 years, inspiring many students. He became interested in Educators for Social Responsibility and then Institute for Global Education in the mid 80’s.  Because Mike was so charitably minded and had many friends, he worked for many peace and justice causes and organizations such as Move On and Senior groups.  His great love was his Lutheran Church where he was a  musician for many years. He took “loving our neighbor” seriously and realized that  that it is necessary to strongly and loudly advocate for justice and peace and   get into the streets to do it. He organized many educational programs, media and protest events in the spirit  of educator he was,  advocating for the values of peace and justice.   He was an Executive Board member at IGE for many years and a wonderful guiding presence in our work. Thank you, Mike, we will miss you greatly!  

Mike is survived by his lovely wife Mari of 40 years, his daughter Renae, son, Sean, grandchildren, Helena and Armen and brother Robert. Due to Covid, a memorial for Mike will be held in the spring and we will inform you then of the date.

Memorial Donations can be made in his name to Institute for Global Education. igegr.org