Picture Perfect

December 18, 2009

Alice Anderson found this painting during a Web search and we decided it would be a perfect fit for our thank-you card for our donors. The painting is by Filipina artist C.P. Adorio and she gave us permission to use it. We're thrilled.

Alice Anderson is in town for the holidays. Alice is a board member and a college student at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. I’m refreshed by and grateful for Alice’s energy and perspective.

We had lunch at our local favorite McMennamins and trolled the Web looking for images of textiles from Africa and the Philippines, trying to find colors and patterns that would represent the countries and women we hope to serve with our scholarship program.

Alice discovered this blog: http://cesandherdishes.blogspot.com/. It features the work of a Filipina artist, C.P. Adorio. When we found the painting of the three women in traditional attire in a rural setting, we thought it was perfect for our purposes.

Oh, the power of technology. We sent the artist an e-mail and explained the mission and work of Isis Initiative, Inc. and asked if she’d be willing to let us use her photo on thank-you note for our donors.

The next day we received an enthusiastic response from Ces, the artist. Today I received a large jpeg file. And I learned she lives in Houston. We had imagined she was in the Philippines. I’d like to meet her and see her work in person.

Thank you, Ces. Thank you, Alice.

A Good Question

November 14, 2009


It’s stated with the upsweep intonation of a question.

“What are you doing back at the GT?

I’m sitting in Francesco’s gelato cafe in downtown Corvallis. I sometimes sit in a comfy chair by the window in the evenings and write my blog entry, taking advantage of their free wi-fi and the lively atmosphere.

I look up and toward the direction of the voice.

Karl  Maasdam. With his wife and two lovely daughters.

Good question. He’s the first to ask it directly since I returned to the Gazette-Times on October 28, 2009.

I have answers. None are easy. Or short. None that can quickly respond to a man with his family waiting by the door to exit.

“My non-profit,” I say.

Karl worked at the Gazette-Times as a staff photographer after I left a position vacant when I went to graduate school. He eventually left the newspaper to start his own successful photography business in town.

I had asked myself the same question before I accepted the job. Why return? There were many reasons not to return.

Yet, I wanted to write again and I wanted a steady income stream–to help nourish and support the growth of Isis Initiative, Inc. For two years, Isis Initiative has been my passion and my focus–on my time. I made those volunteer hours work by working independently–and sporadically.

I wrote freelance articles. I received a Writer-in-Residence appointment from Fishtrap. Inc. last spring. I taught high school journalism and photography in Condon and Fossil, Oregon. I did public relations and media consulting.

I had freedom–time to focus on my health and my nonprofit. I loved those years of liberty–and I struggled in them.

I chose a time of solitude and healing.

Now I’ve chosen to use my time and talent in service to my local community while I build a nonprofit that serves women worldwide.

I get paid to write. I have the privilege and sacred trust of listening to people’s stories and sharing them with others.

And, I have a stable income that grounds me as I grow the nonprofit. (It would be great if President and First Lady Obama would respond to my letters and donate some of the Nobel Peace Prize award money to Isis Initiative.)

I’m working locally and making a difference globally.

I put my cameras down. I didn’t want to carry them anymore–nor carry the burden of the events and images I’ve photographed over the past two decades covering breaking news and war.

I photograph now when I write. I see details and capture them–write them down. I arrange vignettes of a story as if I were moving slides on a light table to prepare a slide show.

I am still a visual storyteller. And I dig it.

Dear President Obama

October 30, 2009

When President Obama announced that he’d give the $1.4 million from his Nobel Peace Prize award to charity, a thought flashed through my mind.

Write him a letter. Ask him to consider donating a portion of the money to Isis Initiative, Inc.

I wrote him. And I asked my friends and supporters of our work to write him a letter, too. If you believe in what we’re doing, please write him a letter.

I believe. I believe the request will reach his ears. And I believe he’ll respond. Join me in making an appeal and making a difference for women around the world.

Below is the text of the letter I wrote him on October 22, 2009


Dear President Obama:

I walked into a 7-Eleven the morning the Nobel committee announced you had received the Peace Prize.

“You like President Obama,” the cashier asked. “Yes, I do,” I said.

“I can’t talk to you,” she said, handing me my change. “Why?”

“Why does he deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?” she responded.

“Because he took a stand,” I answered.

“Against what?”

“Not against something,” I said. “He took a stand for something.”

I am inspired by and proud of the way you’re leading our country: with dignity and civility, vision and strength. I am heartened by your commitment to improve the quality of life for all on our planet.

I am writing to you, Mr. President, because you said you would donate your $1.4 million ward to charity. I ask with the same humbleness with which you acknowledged the Nobel Peace Prize, that you consider donating some of that money to Isis Initiative, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit I created. www.isisinitiative.org

We are a small, grassroots organization that promotes healing, connection and communication through education and the arts. We are particularly committed to offering scholarships to women overseas who have the desire but not the resources to pursue a college education.

For more than a decade, I worked to make a difference as a photojournalist. I covered the aftermath of war and its devastating affects on women and children. I used to hope that my photographs would change the world. www.isisphotos.com

In 2003, I chose not to cover the second Iraq War. You can read the complete story of how an accident in a jungle in the Philippines inspired me to create Isis Initiative, Inc. https://isisinitiative.wordpress.com/leahs-story

I now believe the real power for change exists in the relationships and good will between individual human beings. We change the world one person at a time.

President Obama, I believe dedicating some portion of the money you’ll receive from your Nobel Peace Prize to Isis Initiative, Inc. will go a long way to creating new opportunities for women, and thereby, for all of us.

Thank you for your attention and consideration. And thank you for the fine example you set with your leadership.


Cheryl Hatch


Form and Substance

September 6, 2009

I promised myself I would give myself a rest from the Internet at least once a week. Sunday is the day I picked. And here I sit, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, in the public library, writing a blog post.

Blogs, it seems to me, are like gardens: they need regular attention and tending. If I neglect my blog, in doesn’t get choked with weeds, it’s ignored. It becomes a flat line, those African savannah stats I mentioned in an earlier post.

To post a blog, I feel I need to have something to say…and I need access to the Internet. I don’t have either on a daily basis. Since I don’t have Internet access at home, I go to the public library or Francesco’s, the local gelato shop, or Allan Bros cafe, all within walking distance.

I made a deliberate and thoughtful decision not to be tethered to the Internet in my home. Just as I made a deliberate and thoughtful decision not to be on the Internet every day, especially not on the weekends, particularly not on Sundays. A commitment to my self. And here I am.

There’s discipline and a commitment involved in either component: in maintaining the blog and in maintaining some distance from the nonstopness of the Internet.

I had an e-mail from Samanda, our treasurer. She tried to file IRS Form 990N, the e-postcard that a nonprofit organization may file if it has not received more than $25,000 in donations during the fiscal year.

Sam went online, pulled up the form and got an error message when she tried to file. We have a Tax ID number; we don’t have an official acceptance letter from the IRS yet.

Here’s the error message:

When you enter your organization’s EIN, our system verifies that the EIN is on the IRS list of organizations eligible to file the e-Postcard. If you are certain you entered your EIN correctly, the IRS may not have your organization listed as a tax-exempt organization. This does not mean that your EIN is not valid. You will need to call IRS Customer Account Services at 877-829-5500 for assistance.

If your organization is a subordinate organization that is not included on the parent’s group return, your parent organization may have failed to list your organization on the list of subordinates provided to the IRS annually. The best way to resolve this is to have the parent organization ask the IRS to update its records by writing to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
1973 North Rulon White Blvd
Ogden, UT 84404-5402
ATTN: M/S 6273

If the IRS must update its records, it will be approximately six weeks before you can file your e-Postcard. You should not be concerned if your organization’s filing due date is imminent as there are no late filing or delinquency penalties associated with the e-Postcard.

The e-postcard. “E” for electronic? “E” for easy maybe?

I still like to send postcards with stamps.

And I like to receive postcards.

After Midnight

February 3, 2009

The moon is framed in the top right pane of glass. It’s bright, a half-moon, titled slightly, with its diagonal running from 2 to 8. I’m up way too late.

There are petty things I could rant about…like laundry room etiquette…and yet I’ve had a grand day. I find myself going to bed happy and waking up happy. And there’s this bright moon in the sky keeping me company.

The swim-a-thon garnered $335 in donations thus far. I spent my morning hand writing…funny I need to specify “hand” writing, since most writing is done on computers now, via e-mail, or blogs, or Facebook. I’m learning the beauty and benefits of these modern tools.

Yet I adore a handwritten note. With a beautiful stamp, paying homage to someone or something. A piece of art on the envelope. I smile when I open my post office box and find a note, a personal note, with human handwriting, among the mass-generated machine labels on credit cards offers and solicitations.

I’ve traveled the world and I’ve sent postcards from some crazy places, from the anarchy of Somalia once, just to see if the my thoughts and writing would reach the intended destination. From war zones and moonlit beaches. From forests and deserts.

I love writing and sending notes, cards, letters. I look for special paper, the right card, a fine stamp. I put time, care, thought, energy into my personal correspondence. And it makes me happy, truly happy, to send my cards and letters. 

I sent more than 50 e-mails telling people about my swim-a-thon. I got a handful of responses. It seems a few people still write checks and mail them; however, I received inquiries about online donations.

So, I opened a PayPal account.

You can now donate through our Web site.

Or you can send me a check and a note in the mail. Thank you.

Good night moon.