Sunday, January 31, 2010

some things not very farm-ey

Today I'd like to share something that makes my heart swell with pride. It might at first blush seem as though this post is off-topic here, but in fact it's simply another, somewhat different expression of the overarching beliefs we hold here on our farm. The following is from my uncle, Greg Engle who, probably unbeknownst to him, has always been something of an "absentee" mentor to me. He and my aunt Maureen played a significant role in the cementing of my character. They (and others) taught me to hold fast to my values, put my money where my mouth is and advocate for what I know to be good and right, no matter how it may make me look in others' eyes. To them I am profoundly grateful. I urge you to check out what he's been working on here, which I think is really amazing.

Dear family, friends and colleagues,

Several years ago, a senior official at the U.S. Department of State (an addressee on this message) asked me to leave my ambassadorship in Lome, Togo -- the strategic hub of U.S. Government activities in the north, central Bight of Benin -- to serve at our Embassy in Baghdad. Another State Department official, in moving to seal the deal, suggested that another ambassadorship was a distinct possibility following my service in Baghdad, but I demurred. I advised the stunned official that the State Department's diplomat-in-residence position at the University of Texas at Austin was my heart's desire...I had a plan...

With the release of my debut album, "Take it Personally," I have achieved my objective. I invite you to visit to find out about the album and my rewarding collaboration with superb (and sage) Austin producer Stephen Doster, James Stevens and his assistant Kyle Ratcliff at EAR (the studio), and some of Austin's finest musicians -- Donny Wynn, Chris Maresh, Rolf Ordahl, Brian Standefer, Joel Laviolette, Nick Classen, Erin Ivey, Devon Guliford, and Donna Lipmann. I proud to say that the beautiful CD cover art, photography and design, some of which you will see on the website, is the work of my daughter, Jessica Engle. The website itself, which just went live two hours ago, is the fantastic work of Ryan Engle, my son.

I've tried to make this labor of love an opportunity to give back, in this case, via sales-based donations to A Glimmer of Hope ( for the construction of schools in Ethiopia and the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund USA (, which is interested in putting the first song on the album, "Nelson," on its website. You can hear that song and one other in full at Partial clips of all of the songs, as well as complete lyrics, are on the Music page of my website. I would also encourage you to take a look at the Giving page, which, in addition to citing the two organizations above, highlights a few others, with which I have a personal connection, that are doing special things to make the world a better place.

My good friend Michael Jones did the most amazing thing: A couple of days ago he produced a YouTube video that features my song "A Simple Prayer" (something I wrote for my children last year) with stunning streaming pictures from his trip through the Grand Canyon. Please watch the video and be inspired by Michael's work and his kindness.

The website provides information about the purchase of the CD or downloading the album or songs online, for those who are interested. If you would like a signed copy, the easiest thing to do is send me an e-mail with your snail mail address, and I'll get one in the mail for you and send you a response with additional information.

My best to all of you,

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