One of my favorite annual Seed traditions started years ago and continues to this day. Each year Changing Hands Bookstore donates a gift card to each of our Seed graduates, and the school matches the amount on the card. It’s an arrangement that originated with Gayle Shanks, co-founder of Changing Hands, whose son, Michael, and grandson, Hayden, both attended Awakening Seed. Gayle and I are the same age, and our lives have been parallel and intertwined. We’ve each devoted our lives to a business that is close to our hearts, a business that is devoted to serving the community and the planet. We’ve supported each other over the years and both cherish the friendship and collaboration.
One of the most touching times with our graduate gift card arrangement was in 2020, when the pandemic shut down both Awakening Seed and Changing Hands for awhile. I hesitated asking Gayle for the gift cards and offered to purchase them outright, knowing that the bookstore, too, was facing financial hardships. I was deeply touched by her response that they wanted to support our Seed grads, that it was a priority to keep traditions like ours going, even through dark times. During that period, I intentionally purchased as many books as I could through Changing Hands. Once each order was ready, I’d drive over to the Tempe store for curbside pickup. In that small way, I happily supported the bookstore through the pandemic.
The kind of respect and valuing Gayle and I have shared for each other’s mission has sustained us both personally and as community members for more than four decades. Although our roles in our respective organizations have shifted somewhat, we are both most definitely still actively serving our communities. Social justice and planetary stewardship are deeply significant for both of us, and though our expressions look different, the passion and commitment are quite similar. I am personally grateful to have someone like Gayle in my life to keep me on track to keep doing the work, whatever it may be.