Name: Mariano I. Avila

Age: I’m XXXVII, born in MCMLXXVIII–that’s dead language for “getting old.”

Location: On the left (as usual) of the white sofa in my living room, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Occupation: Dad, Husband, Writer, Activist, Language Teacher

Where did you come from? Mom. We were in Mexico City that day.

A Fear: The bear that licked me some years back–long story.

A Goal: Nonviolence. More of it.

A Memory: The first summer I took a group of students to the Holy Land, an Israeli soldier wouldn’t let me into Bethlehem and had me stand in the noon sun (blazing at 100 ºF) because he was convinced I was Jewish–the middle “I” stands for Israel. It also didn’t help that one of the Dutch dudes in the group was Aaron Zachariah. I demanded to speak with the checkpoint commander when the soldier implied that he’d check us for circumcision if we didn’t convince him. After an hour they let us go without demanding more than paperwork.

A Mistake: This year, my friend and brother, Ben Bufford, woke me up on my birthday. It was 8 a.m., I had decided to sleep in. He sang his best rendition of Happy Birthday Mr. President complete with his Marilyn Monroe impression. I’m pretty sure he was in his cubicle at work. We talked for almost an hour. He said some very affirming things, assured me that God had plans for me, and suggested that we meet up very soon, but I was too busy for the next few days. A week later, at 1 a.m., I rushed to the hospital because he’d fainted, but when I got there he had passed away–he was 36. The last time I talked to him wasn’t in person. I will always regret that.

A Hero: Right now, Foucault.

A Fault: Whichever one shows up that day. Seriously, I think I’ve hosted most by now.

A Talent: I used to do a killer Christopher Walken impression, then my accent started reverting to Philly and now when I try it, folks say I sound drunk or tired. I don’t do it anymore.

A Prized Possession: The rollerball Meisterstük pen that my wife, Kate, gave me when I got accepted to Warren Wilson’s MFA, but a close second is the Olivetti Valentine (typewriter) that my friend, Brent, found for me in Portland.

A Need: Wisdom to raise my daughter to fight the patriarchy, practice nonviolence, love herself, love others, love God, and hopefully me too.

I want More: Time to read and write

I want Less: Stuff in general or at least the need for it.

What would you change about the world? Violence, I’d do away with all forms of it–verbal, physical, systemic, economic, cultural. But, I’d settle for a general ban on war and having all international conflicts solved either through extreme Jenga matches or Angry Birds (the latter because my six-year-old nephew, Luisito, would soon become supreme commander of the known universe) .

What do you love about yourself? The space I tend to occupy in relationships I value. I can’t think of a better way to say it. It’s not so much who I am on my own, or achievements, or habits. Rather, in my relationships with others, I tend to be given a space in their set scheme of social roles, needs, or wants.



Your Name: Dustin Davis

Age: 32

Location: St. Louis, MO

Occupation: Part Stay-at-Home dad, part freelance designer

A Fear: My family does rely on my freelance work. In the past, were times when I feared about finances. But really, in the end, I knew that God would provide all of our needs and that fearful thoughts were not something I should entertain.

A Goal: To manage my business and parent my child as best and as efficiently as possible. It’s hard juggling both especially after a long day with a crying baby.

A Memory: The moment my daughter was born. Still brings tears to my eyes – happy tears of course. It really was the happiest day of my life.

A Mistake: I’ve made a lot of them in my life. But I really think they shaped me into who I am today. I regret a lot of them, but in the end they ended up being lessons learned.

A Hero: I wouldn’t really say I have a hero. But my dad would be close – especially now that I have my own child. Looking back on how he influenced my life gives me hope in how I will influence my child[ren].

A Fault: Hoarding the parenting role (if that makes any sense). Ugh. I hate it and my wife does too. And sometimes I loose patience, especially in the middle of the night when there’s a screaming baby.

A Talent: Oh gosh. I hate talking about myself in this way. HA! My wife says I’m great with people, great photographer and designer, and great with problem solving. Not sure if those are talents or skills

A Prized Possession: Probably my camera[s]. I love documenting life, especially now with our girl.

A Need: Hmmm. I can’t think of any NEEDS. A lot of wants. I would love for a way for my wife to be able to stay home too so we can just all be together all the time.

I want More: Patience. I really think if there’s anything specific to my life, it’s that. And more date nights with my wife.

 I want Less: Sometimes I think I want less stuff. Sometimes I want to just simplify my life. But it would be a shock and would be so hard to do that.

What would you change about the world? Why can’t we all just get a long? I feel there is so much hatred in the world. It sounds hippy, but we need more love.

What do you love about yourself? I love that I’m so awesome. Seriously though. I feel I am a leader – and I really like that. I think that it’s really helped me in a lot of my life, especially my life as a husband, father and with my business.