Not long ago, Jim Kent returned from a fabulous three week visit to the Philippines.
He traveled with his mother, who works at Minnesota State University now, but means to retire to an 80-acre piece of land with a main house and several guest cottages that she recently purchased, “very cheaply,” says Jim. She hopes to provide for her family and to harvest coconuts and mangoes for sale. To Jim the trip was a welcome and highly instructive break from regular life. He visited relatives he hadn’t seen since the age of ten. His mother’s native land is, he says, a “dystopian country,” though one of great natural beauty. Especially fascinating, and disturbing, he says, were the “Western ideas of progress side-by-side absolute poverty, political construction and roads half done. It’s as though they took a great leap but skipped the necessary in-between steps.”

Back in Seattle, scheduling complications are the hardest part of Jim’s life just now. After the Philippines, “my stomach dropped and turned into the tightest knot,” he says. Life as an independent artist of many talen