Friendship and Friendshipology: Interview with Billy Lee by US-CHINA BETTER RELATIONS COALITION – 2021

“Show real interest in who they are as fellow human beings,
and be not too judgmental by one’s own idealism. Cultivate
each other’s good qualities, and intrinsic goodness.”
Billy Lee

Interviewers: Inin Fan and Jackson Barkstrom
Editors: Emily Zhang and Jackson Barkstrom

In today’s interview, Billy Lee shares his thoughts on the importance of
global friendship and cross-cultural bonding, along with advice on how
to establish these cross-cultural bonds. As an individual who has worked
and participated in different projects connected with friendship, Billy
tries to promote mutual understanding and tolerance with an emphasis
on positivity and goodness of the self and others. The Friendshipology
website is one of Billy’s valuable projects where he helps share
meaningful stories and insights about friendship with the world.

To learn more about the Friendshipology website, please visit:


Billy Lee is a retired architect who worked early in his career with I.M.Pei. A graduate of Phillips Andover, he received both a BA and MA in architecture from Yale. Through an invitation by C.B.Sung in the 1970s, Billy joined an American delegation of architects lecturing at Tsighua University. Inspired, he ultimately established a scholardhip for young Chinese architects.

He is best known for numerous youth exchange programs through his Children, Art and the Environment Program, where he impacted over a million children. is proudest moment was the launching the World’s Children’s Mural Painting Park at the China National Children’s Center in 2008. An annual event, this program was proven to be an effective way to build Xin Xin Jiao ( Heart to Heart Bridges ) among children from different countries, backgrounds, and Cultures.



When and how was the idea of starting the blog about Friendship and Friendshipology born? 

I joined the US-China People’s Friendship Association South Bay Chapter in 2006, and was elected membership director in 2012. That started my serious inquiry on what friendship really means, and how it can be initiated, nurtured, sustained, and maybe recovered after some gross misunderstanding.

In 2015, I was invited to conduct a workshop on “Good Feelings” at the
International Child Art Foundation World Children’s Festival on the Great Mall in Washington DC, on a July 4 weekend. There sprouted the idea on guiding a group of international students to define friendship, write an declaration of interdependence, and propose an ideal cross-cultural institute on Friendshipolgy.

An amazing opportunity to start a project that may eventually lead to the ultimate ideal was a proposal to connect Stanford University’s and Peking University’s psychology departments to do a 3-year joint research project at both ends of the Pacific. The study was named “The Role of Emotional Values and Expression in the Development of Cross- Cultural Friendships in the US and China.” Our hope was this would initiate a momentum towards global engagement subsequently.

Although that proposal fizzled due to fund-raising difficulty, my dear 1990 Institute colleague Dr. Marsha Vande Berg, advised me to keep telling this story to my friends – To keep the idea alive! Surprise! Out of the Blue, a young friend, Yi-lu from Beijing, wrote to me and said she had set up a website (recently changed to, and had recruited three other young friends (Yihua, Wenmo, and Tingting) to help manage this bilingual website. I
started to post a few of my own articles onto the website but very wisely decided later to involve many of my close friends.

It is sometimes hard for people of different backgrounds/nationalities to establish a solid friendship with true bonding. There can be a wall between us that stays hard to break.  How can we build true and emotional cross-cultural friendships? 

I think we start with showing our own convictions and commitments, and make a real effort to reach out. Be kind, caring, empathetic, and respectful. Be patient, open-minded and appreciative about diversity. It always takes time to transcend from artificial to natural relationships. To start by reaching out mindfully. Show real interest in who they are as fellow human beings, and be not too judgmental by one’s own idealism. Cultivate each other’s good qualities, and intrinsic goodness.

You came to the U.S. for the first time at the age of 15. Can you share an early cross-cultural friendship experience and what you learned from it?

During my second year at Andover (for boys only then), I attended a tea dance at the neighboring Abbot Academy (for girls only then). Abby Emmons first reached out to me and taught me how to catch the rhythm and move step by step. She was kind and joyful. We have stayed friends after 72 years.

One year, I was invited to teach architectural design at Ningbo University, Ningbo – my ancestral home. The host professor warned me to keep apart one male student from a female student as they were in a romantic relationship. As I did not pay much attention to this particular warning, the professor was obviously very displeased. However, his attitude towards me totally changed one afternoon, as I saw his shoe
lace on his injured leg was loose and I knelt before him to tie the shoe lace for him. Before leaving Ningbo, he asked if I would consider serving as their honorary department head. This shows “paying proper respect” is especially meaningful in certain cultures.

You are a founding member of the 1990 Institute, and an active member of the US-China People’s Friendship Association. You initiated the C2C (Children to Children, Connecting 2 Countries) Exchanges, via The 1990 Institute –in collaboration with All-China Women’s Federation, China National Children’s Center, and China’s Environmental Protection Ministry. Do you see any progress in cross- cultural communication since the time you began working on this?

What I accomplished in China via the 1990 Institute, were most gratifying, but I really regret that 1990 did not follow up to support the International Students Mural Painting at China’s National Children’s Center. I think we needed just a few more years before CNCC understands the long-term historic significance of that project – annual gathering of international students to paint together in Beijing about
building friendship and protecting our common environment. Cross- cultural collaborative projects unfortunately grow or wane with political situations. Timing is important, but to allow enough time is also important.

Do you think that the pandemic affected cross-cultural friendship?

The pandemic certainly affected cross-cultural friendship. It should be viewed as an opportunity to confront our common cause instead of a convenient excuse to cover up one’s own weaknesses or a vehicle to promote fear and suspicion for political advantage. 

What are good ways for young people like us to promote global friendship?

 I am really glad that you emphasize global friendship instead of just US-
China better relationship. I urge you to consider this challenge a long-term commitment and a global challenge. I think you should do some checking on how similar youth organizations sustain for the long term. Obviously, climate change still needs youth support. Just a

few miscellaneous ideas here: Connecting students globally with a global journal, how about fight bullying together, learning each other’s most endearing songs, etc. Creating an indicator for measuring improvements, strategize on how to influence the influencers – youth, teachers, parents, activists, media, entertainment industry, and enlightened leaders everywhere. 

Important note:
Billy Lee and the Friendshipology website welcome more stories on how
Community Spirit affects individuals and how individuals can affect the
larger community. The website hopes to collect more inspirational and
educational case study examples and ideas which induce Friendship,
Bonding, and Good Feelings. If you have an article or an idea for a story,
please email Billy Lee at . With your email
please also provide a short vita and at least one of your favorite photos.


GOOD FRIENDS PASS ON UPLIFTING STORIES TO ONE ANOTHER“ A friend sent me these and I thought you might like them too.” wrote Anne Gates – August 2021

Short stories that make us think twice about the daily happenings in our
lives as we deal with others:

Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class.  When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said,  “Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you


Today, after my 72-hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the Grocery Store and gave me a hug.  When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her.  She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said,

“On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”
Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying.  And just before he died,

He licked the tears off my face.

Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed.  About 5 seconds after he passed,

I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy

Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling. I chuckled and asked, “Why?”  She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.” I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?”

Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” she said.

Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for me.  He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he was leaving he said,

“I hope you feel better soon.”

Today, I was feeling down because the results of a biopsy came back malignant. When I got home, I opened an e-mail that said, “Thinking of you today.  If you need me, I’m a phone call away.” 

It was from a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years. 

Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe  He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. I offered him a sandwich I was carrying.

The first thing the man said was, “We can share it.”

The best sermons are lived, not preached.
I am glad I have you to send these to.


Anne Gates, Correspondence Secretary for Abbot Academy Class ’51, and I met at our zoomed virtual joint Andover-Abbot 70th Reunion recently. Although we had met before, we connected more sentimentally this time. She said very kindly, “ I like to be your new Friend.” Indeed, I embrace her dearly as my new Beautiful Friendshipology Friend, 友学 学友 , in our pursuit of deeper bonding and the Art and Science in Building and Promoting Friendship.



Snow was expected


Grodon L. Hammond Jan.2021

– – – during the night. However, it did not happen. It started to rain, and the train whistle blew three times. That meant the bridge had fallen. The engineer called for everyone to run. I got off and ran as fast as I could run through the trees. I saw a hobo camp and recognized 4 hobos. They offered me a cup of coffee. They were my uncles, and one was my father. He had abandoned his family and I didn’t recognize him. I asked him if he could repay the 5 dollars he had stolen from my piggy bank. He took up a collection from his brothers, and he repayed me. He died a month later.

I could see the Interstate highway and traffic was moving at 70 mph toward the river. I knew the road shared the bridge with the train. I tried to stop the traffic, and I knew there was a catastrophe ahead. So, I just sat down and watched and listened and prayed. The sound of train cars tumbling over and over, and the screams of car passengers, made me doubt the power of prayer. However, I saw people and children climbing out of the ravine and toward me. I helped some children to get into the cars that had stopped and turned around.

I recognized 2 young girls, they were hand & Hand and crying and their clothes were badly torn. However, they were my neighbors ! I could not find their parents. The girls said their father was using his cell phone. I don’t use a cell phone. Many people with cell phones can not remember the number for 911


Gordon is my first and best friend from Phillips Academy Andover as we were both assigned in 1947 to stay at Green House, Mastered by Mr. Harold Howe III, a history teacher who later became Secretary of Education in President Lyndon Johnson’s cabinet. I consider Gordon one of my best friends, for he, indeed, helped me prepare my homework while I was struggling desperately with the English language. Gordon also invited me to spend Thanksgiving at his home – my first Home Stay Experience in the United States.

Upon my request to write something for my Friendshipology website, he sent me this short essay with a newly published book called , “ A Run-Of-The- Mill Yankee Scientist “. Below is the cover of that book with a photo of “ That Handsome Dude.” The book is actually a Condensed Oral Interview of Gordon by Sanlyn Buxner in 2016 for the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Historical Astronomy Division.

The interview succinctly captured very personal family history as well as Gordon’s professional achievements and hobbies. I did not know that his father abandoned the family when he was ten years old. I am glad that he enjoyed and did well in Golf, Riflery, and Sports Car Racing. Wow, I am fascinated and impressed by his White Dwarf Stars Explorations.

I am particularly grateful that I am one of only five Friends he has so far shared this personal story book. His essay is still a puzzle to me, but I also can not remember why and when I started to address him “NODROG” in my letters to him. I think it was after his visiting me at Camp DeWitt at Wolfeborough, New Hampshire, before he departed to fight the Korean War.


Gordon L. Hammond

Prof. & Scholar/Research Scientist
Astronomy Program, University of
South Florida, Tampa, Florida 1986-


“ LOOKING ON “ by Dede Hammond – Published by Purpose – 2009

   Joshua Carpenter was saddened as the angry voices of his young friends and neighbors reached him through the open windows. Lori and Peter had only been married two years, and it sure sounded like the honeymoon was over.  Joshua knew money was tight for the young folks, but he wished they would pull together instead of blaming one another. It just made things harder for both of them.

   He so wanted Lori and Peter to grow and work together, as he and his wife had done.  He was 82 and his wife, Jenny, would have been 80 next week.  If only . . . Joshua’s thoughts drifted  back.  Times had been hard for them during the years, but they’d made out. He wished he could do something to help the young couple.  He wished he could tell them to be kind to one another, to cherish their time together.

   His gaze rested on the garbage can lying on its side by the street. Joshua got up from the porch rocking chair and walked slowly down the steps.  He quietly righted the can and picked up the things that had spilled. Then Joshua headed back to the porch.

   “You promised to help around the house, Peter. That’s all its been–promises!”  Lori’s voice came clearly to Joshua and his heart was heavy as he settled back in the rocker. “I took on that part-time job to earn extra money and I don’t have as much time as I used to. I’ve been trying to help.  What didn’t I do now?” Joshua could almost hear Peter sigh.

   “That garbage can!  That’s what.  That stray dog knocked it over and you promised to clean it up.” Joshua saw the curtain move as Lori came to the window. “Just look at that mess. ”  Lori’s voice trailed off. “Oh, Peter, you did clean it up.” “But Lori,”  Peter protested as he joined her at the window. “I’m sorry, Peter.  I’ve been so tired and worried lately and here I am taking it out on you. Please forgive me.”

   Joshua could see their shadows merge through the curtain.  He smiled as he watched them hug each other.  Their voice became a murmur as they slowly moved away from the window.




Dede is wife of my good friend, Gordon Hammond. They both love to write and

belong to a Writing Club in Zephyrhills, Florida.


FROM THE FF BULLETIN : Bro. Mike King, Sister Karen( near 60 ), and Bro. Ryan Pei ( near 30 ) brought orchids to present to Sister Linda Tsao Yang ( near 90 ) on behalf of FF Fraternity for her recent presentation at our FF Strong Webinar. She cooked them a really tasty & nutritious lunch.

Her elegant furnishings, a touch of Shanghai and Jiangnan in Davis, Ca.
Sticky rice, braised tofu and an assortment of Chinese vegetables

Sister Linda also shared a classic poem in a glass case. She suspects it may have inspired FF’s Chinese name. From what she described it seems very plausible.



This is really a story about KINDNESS – doing good deeds in helping others who need help ( Mike’s helping Linda at the Zoom ), Gratitude -expressing heartfelt thanks with open embrace ( Linda’s inviting Mike to enjoy her home cooking ), Adding Meaning to the occasion ( Mike’s idea of having FF Fraternity present flowers to thank Linda and introduce one of our younger FF Brothers to join the occasion and share the FF Family Spirit. ), Earnest Respect (shown by Ryan’s travelling all the way from Stanford, while pursuing his MBA, holding a part time job, and buying flowers for Linda with his new bride’s help ), Making Everything Worthwhile ( Linda’s providing a special culinary treat, sharing lessons from her own life challenges, and showing unique Chinese Cultural treasures like that Orchid Poem which may have inspired FF’s Chinese name . As Ryan reported,” Linda also shared with us her Family Principles (家训), written 30 years prior in 1991, which included the following notable excerpts:

  • “Be thrifty and hardworking. Don’t be greedy or vain. Neither arrogant nor meek, you must
    conduct yourself with honor and integrity.”
  • “In the real world of work, you’ll do well when you commit yourself to learning as a lifelong endeavor, to enriching your experience and expertise and to holding yourself accountable for what you do.”
  • “Human relationships are more often than not, the most challenging to deal with as you make your mark in society.”



There is such Special Warmth in this Elder’s Caring and Sharing with the younger generations.

There is such Earnest Focus in learning from the Elder’s Wisdom by the Youngest member.

There is such Delight for the Middle Aged in seizing this rare opportunity- and allowing Magic to happen.

Billy further gathered some Post-event Thoughts & Sentiments from each of the participants:

The Yougest felt truly embraced and encouraged. Ryan wrote: ” Perhaps the most
memorable sharing that Linda gave was admitting to failing accounting at Columbia Business School, where she graduated with a master’s degree in 1948. As an economics major, she admitted to feeling unprepared for the world of business. Despite this modesty, her many accolades in public and private life proved just the opposite. From her appointment by President Clinton to serve as Executive Director to the board of Asian Development Bank in Manila from 1993 to 1999, to her run as Chair of the Asian Corporate Governance Association in Hong Kong, Linda didn’t let one bad grade keep her from reaching unbelievable heights. I can’t wait for the
next visit. Hope to visit Linda again before the year ends. “

The Middle Aged wrote about Linda : “We were treated like Family. Karen and I were struck by her lifelong commitment to public service, while maintaining a very strong adherence to her principles and integrity. Her courage in the face of adversity throughout numerous times of her life was truly impressive. She’s not physically a tall woman, but she is a true giant in spirit! We will always remember and treasure this visit.” Indeed, Karen told me emphatically again at the FF Picnic last week , “ I wish more Young Women will have an opportunity to meet Linda. “

The Elder truly had the Future Generations and F.F. Family in her heart and mind. Linda wrote :

Dear Billie,
Mike, and Ryan are Yuelin’s FF brothers; Karen his FF sister.  All family to him.
So family to me too. Very happy they liked my simple home cooking.

I appreciate their generous compliment of me.  But whatever I achieved in my life, I owe it to my mother. She gave me my life. She also taught me and taught me well that it’s not wealth nor fame  but what I make of my life that counts.  She encouraged me to commit myself to learning as a lifelong endeavor, to hold myself accountable for what I do . Above all, I must conduct myself with honor and integrity. No excuses.

My mother’s teaching has done well for me. And this is what I would like to pass on to our younger generation. 

BILLY CONCLUDED: It’s so important that we encourage each other to make special efforts to Promote and Nurture Cross-Cultural & Cross-Generational Relationships and Friendships which we shall forever remember as “ WONDERFUL GOOD FEELINGS TO BE TREASURED “.


“ARCHITECTURE & COMPASSION” A SUBJECT THAT TRULY CONNECTS ” Billy Lee from Portola Valley, Ca. connected with Sophie James from Plymouth, UK. Via DEZEEN DAILY

Billy approached Sophie on July 17, 2021

Dear Ms. James,

I was impressed by your The Astronomer and The Sea project in

today’s issue of Dezeen.

I am an 89-yr-old retired architect who still has naive questions

occasionally about what our goals are in our professional pursuits..

Lately, I have posed a question to myself: ” Can Architecture induce

compassion ? ” I find that your The Astronomer and The Sea “

seems to have a certain quality that inspires.

I love to hear your thoughts if you can spare the time to write to me.

Cheers and thanks !

Billy Lee


promoting Friendship

Sophie James repied on July 30th :

Dear Billy,

Thank you so much for getting in touch, it is amazing to know that my work has reached so far! I am so glad that you enjoyed the sample of my project – The Astronomer and the Sea – it is a project that brought me a lot of joy to work on. I have attached my final presentation in its entirety if you would like to have a look.

Throughout my three years of studying architecture, I have been amazed by its ability to open up conversations and questions such as the one posed by yourself. Compassion became a key theme in The Astronomer and The Sea – how could architecture begin to evoke an emotional response to the climate crisis? The project itself took inspiration from my dissertation essay in which I explored how events are remembered and commemorated and how spaces take on the memories of their traumas. The spaces can then become an emotional tie for those affected or a truthful insight for generations to come. This line of enquiry lead me down the path of Daniel Libeskind and his use of voids in the Jewish Museum Berlin. Bringing this thinking into my project, I incorporated void spaces which stripped back all views to focus the visitor’s eye and mind towards the sky.

A similar thread has run through many of my projects, dealing with notions of history and memory – whether that be locational or sociological memory. A previous project of mine dealt with the idea of storytelling as a means of remembrance. In short, people visiting the proposal were encouraged to write notes and memories on seeded paper which could then be ‘planted’ on a communal wall. Once the seeds within the paper had flowered, a live wall of the people’s memories and stories would appear – In a way I feel like this approach begins to induce compassion through architectural proposal, maybe the compassion is encouraged through the collective nature of remembrance. I would hope that seeing the communal live wall and the memories that had been shared would encourage others and make them feel comfortable enough to add their own memories, engaging withe the remembrance process. Whilst this maybe is not purely the architecture encouraging the compassion but rather the activity within it, the act of storytelling and the collection of memories were so integral to and embedded within the architecture that I feel one would not exist without the other. The project named ‘The Photosynthesis of Memory’ is included in my online portfolio – – I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sorry for my delayed response, I felt I needed to give your question the time it deserved. I look forward to hearing from you,


Sophie James

3rd Year Architecture Student
Plymouth, UK


” The Power of Friendships ” by Edward Mazria – July 2021

Edward Mazria
 FAIA is founder and CEO of the nonprofit Architecture 2030 and is an internationally recognized architect, author, researcher and educator. Over the past four decades, his research into the sustainability, resilience, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of the built environment has helped redefine the role of architecture, planning, design, and building in reshaping our world. He was awarded the 2021 AIA Gold Medal for his “unwavering voice and leadership” in the fight against climate change.


The Power of Friendships:
When the UN Race to Zero asked for signatories and support from the architecture and planning community it was not out of friendship – they received few signatories
When Architecture 2030 asked for signatories and support for the 1.5 degC Communiqué from the architecture and planning community, we sent out a personal note to each of our friends and colleagues in our community, and every one of them signed up to demonstrate their support (see the 1.5 degC Communiqué and signatories here).  Warm regards,Ed

Edward Mazria, FAIA FRAIC Architecture 2030
p  505|988|5309 w



When I wrote to congratulate Ed yesterday, I also asked if he could write a few lines about Friendship in his Architecture 2030 experience. He responded instantly.

The key words in his comment were ” We sent out a personal note to each of our friends and colleagues in our community.” The POWER was indeed from PERSONAL CONNECTIONS or FRIENDSHIPS.

Ed and I were colleagues at Edward Larabee Barnes, Architects, NYC.near fifty years ago. We kept in touch only on rare occasions – last time we met was almost 20 years ago when he came to lecture at Stanford University. I have always admired his ambitions and his dedication to higher achievements with HIGH PURPOSES. It’s not at all surprising to me that he was awarded the 2021 AIA Gold Medal. My sincere congratulations to him.

The POWER in our Friendship comes from MUTUAL RESPECT and continued GOOD WILL towards each other. His ARCHITECTURE 2030 definitely provides me inspirations, and I in return will promise to help promote his Most Urgent Global Mission: CCC – Control Climate Change.


“ WHAT IS FRIENDLY ARCHITECTURE ? “ by Billy Lee – July 2021

I have been doing informal research on Friendship & Friendshipology for quite a few years now.  At the same time I tried to arouse interest among my friends and people who frequently connect with me in different situations. I thought long ago that I must challenge my professional colleagues to think more about Friendship & Friendshipology as we design buildings and spaces that effect people’s daily lives. I came up with the idea on asking ourselves, “ What is Friendly Architecture, and Can Architecture Induce Compassion ? “.

From my research so far, I can show many samples on Friendly Architecture, butI have not yet found any sample of Inspiring Architecture that can for certain induce Compassionate Actions. Induce Compassionate Feelings maybe. I thought of Germany’s Cologne Cathedral’s feeling of exaggerated verticality with pointed gothic arches and the colorful stain-glass window atop the sanctuary. I thought of  Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul. I thought of  the Zen Garden in Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan. – as well as Lou Khan’s Salk Institute’ outdoor plaza in La Jolla, California

With my professional colleagues, we mostly focus on the “HOWs” as “How to Design Friendly Architecture” after first identifying  “ What is Friendly Architecture”.  In whatever we do in life, the “HOWs” are what ultimately determine the Resultant Impacts.

For this essay, may I ask you to join me in analyzing just two photos below :

May we first agree that these photos show  “What Seems To Be Friendly Architecture ? I think what makes them look friendly is first their CALMNESS – Peaceful , Non-stressful. Then I think it’s their OPENNESS.  They seem to Welcome and Embrace You. They are CLEAR, easy to understand and to build trust together.  They seem to be DIGNIFIED yet INTERESTING.  It stirs our own Imaginations. They are GRACEFUL. You feel Comfortable entering into their space.

I leave the real challenge on the “HOW” to you – especially on HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS and promote FRIENDSHIP & FRIENDSHIPOLOGY .  Cheers with Best Wishes !


“ BILLY & FLAG “ by Kimberly Carlisle – 6.21.21 – for Billy and the World : Searching for Essence in Knowledge and Goodness “

Kimberly & Flag ( Photo by  Dominique Renda )

Kimberly Carlisle’s experience as an international swimmer for the United States, including the 1980 Olympic Games, informed her humane and global perspective from a young age, as did her deep sense of racehorses as fellow athletes. She is a passionate advocate and activist for human awakening to our impact on animals, the planet and each other. Through writing, speaking, photography and filmmaking, she tells stories that restore understanding, respect, compassion and empathy among all beings. Kimberly is a graduate of Stanford University and lives on Flag Ranch (, a sanctuary in northern California that is also home to a herd of more than 50 horses, 11 hens, three cats, two dogs, two roosters, a large and loveable spotted pig, and one very sunny goat. 

Kimberly Carlisle is the Co-Founder (with Flag, of course) and Executive Director of Flag Ranch. , a horse + human collaboratory in California.

Synergy Studios   A creative + strategic collaborator
Flag Ranch Media  Check out our new film:


Cross-Species Friendship: A Goat Who Loved His Herd (of Horses)

Five years ago, we had to move our herd of 27 rescued horses as the property we were leasing had been sold. It would prove to be a harrowing, multi-stop journey until we finally found home, but we picked up a few gifts along the way. One of them was a remarkable black-and-white goat named Billy.

Billy had been left behind at the ranch that was our first stop, along with a few chickens and a llama. Whether it was his fear or his choice, no one could catch nor touch Billy. Our first horse to arrive was Flag, along with our blind mare, Caramel, and her mother, Tessa. No sooner were they settled into their paddock than Billy came around a corner and made a beeline for Flag and became an instant guardian to Caramel.

Billy feeling safe under Flag

As more of the herd arrived, Billy made his rounds, reaching his small nose to their large muzzles, nudging his forehead to their chests. As the days and weeks passed, he stayed in the herd at his will, eating what they ate, standing under their bellies when it rained, with clearly no need nor desire for human care or interaction.

When it was time to move, I called the woman who had left him behind. “If he gets on our trailers, he’s coming with us.” “Okay” she replied, “but he won’t.” And he did. He wouldn’t get on the first trailer with Caramel, but when it was time to board Flag, Billy hopped in alongside him.

At our next way station, the herd would be separated into two groups – the younger more able-bodied members would be in a rugged pasture that sat below a plateau where Flag, Caramel and a few others with physical challenges would be housed in temporary paddocks. When the trailer door opened to the lower pasture, Billy ran out to greet each herd member. Then he followed Flag and me up the hill and chose to stay in the paddock with Flag.

A few weeks later, our new home finally appeared and it was time to move the herd. Once again Billy boarded the trailer with Flag. A short ride later, Billy and Flag were exploring their new pasture together. This property was large – 100 acres – with old cattle fencing that Billy could have easily wriggled through and gone anywhere he wanted. He could come and go from the barns and paddocks at will – we offered him shelter and special goat feed, but he refused it, choosing to live 24/7 on the land with the herd.

Billy and Raven at Sunset ( photo by Susan T. Blake )

We knew the horses were protecting him from the coyotes who frequented our pastures at night, but we didn’t know how until one day two rogue dogs trespassed our acreage and began to chase Billy. We ran after the dogs who were running after Billy, but before we could reach them, the horses went into action: half the herd surrounded Billy while the other half chased off the dogs.

One day last fall, Billy came to the pasture gate uncharacteristically out of sorts – he wouldn’t eat, he was bloated and visibly in pain, and he had chosen to leave his herd. We rushed him to UC-Davis where they discovered he had a tumor larger than his heart sitting right next to it. With broken hearts, we had no choice but to help him transition. The vets estimated he was just shy of 10 years old, a good life for a goat.

We ask ourselves often – did we do right by Billy? We’ve been told goats must have shelter from the rain, they must have special supplements, they must not eat (much) alfalfa (we feed our horses primarily grass hay), or they will die. For his five years with us, Billy lived as naturally as a domestic goat can, entirely at choice. He would eat hay with the herd, and he would come up to the barn most days with some of the elders to share their buckets of mash. He was fine, until he wasn’t. And when he wasn’t, he let us know.

We have a new goat now, Sunshine, who came as a companion to another one of our blind horses. Sunshine is a goat of a different color, truly, with unique preferences and needs. He is clear, too, with whom he wants to be and what he is here to do, which affirms Billy’s choices and our support of them: he lived a life true that was true to him, on his own terms.

Flag passed on a few years before Billy did, at the age of 34, an extraordinarily long life for a horse. It comforts me to know he and Billy might be together again.



Summer 2004, via The 1990 Institute, I arranged for a delegation from Hillview Middle School from Menlo Park, Ca. to visit CNCC ( China National Children’s Center ) in Beijing to paint a Mural together with Chinese children. We called the project “Xin Xin Jiao” or “ Heart to Heart Bridging”.  Kimberly, a Hillview parent , joined the traveling delegation and returned with amazing video shots that impressed everyone.  One part showed the students’ from the two counties first lined up opposite each other. Then they closed their eyes, with hands stretched out while moving slowly towards each other. This deeply moved and emotionally effected both the Chinese as well as the U.S. parents . Some were all smiles. Some were immersed in deep thoughts. A few were in tears. They all seemed  to be imagining a Possible Better World for the Next Generation. She truly captured a Magic Moment.


“ Keeping In Touch & Nurturing Rapport “ Billy on Tim Prentice – June 2021

Hello Billy,
I love the fact in this age of high tech we can live
 on opposite coasts and stay in contact for decades..
Good luck with your Friendshipology project !
Tim    Jun 16, 2021


Tim Prentice and I may both be described as the sociable and amicable type of guys among mostly serious intellectual classmates at Yale’s School of Architecture in the late 1950s. We were the Happy Go Lucky fellows who enjoyed making friends as well as learning from esteemed professors. We had genuine rapport and always wished each other well.

Prentice and Chan and Copelin and Lee were both upstart Architectural firms in NewYork City – college buddies suddenly became keen competitors. Both firms were Included in the 40 Under 40 Exhibit by the Architectural League of New York.. But Prentice and Chan was always half a step ahead of us in terms of getting significant commissions in the New York Region.

Most sincerely I want to express deep gratitude to Tim, for his showing true Friendship and Support during our firm’s growing years. Tim recommended several Architectural commissions to Copelin and Lee ( including the prestigious new Air France’s Sales Headquarters in NYC ). On a personal level, he also recommended me to become a Member of the American Arbitration Association.

I am drawn to Tim’s wonderful Happy Personality. He seems to be always so Happy & Free in Spirit. He is most creative in his kinetic sculptures.

Look at this photo showing him imagining himself gliding through the wind.

And look at his “Flying Carpet :

He has created many versions of Reflective Metals Dancing in the Wind, so
I have called him a Choreographer.
BTW, Tim is also an accomplished guitarist with a golden voice. He wrote :
      During the sixties the State Department sent Marie and me around the world with banjo and guitar to perform American folk songs and bring back songs of our host countries. In Bangladesh India we learned a boating song in Telegu from a couple of schoolgirls. We loved the song and on the way home we sang it for my cousins in Switzerland.

       Years later while working in my shop in Connecticut and listing to a favorite radio station located in Paris that specialized in American Jazz and folk music I heard the boating song again for only the second time in fifty years. It  is performed this time by a full choir.  How could this happen?

       One of my cousins had moved to Philadelphia and was now a music teacher. She had arranged the little boating song for her choir and the recording of it was picked off the air in Paris.   

       After a zigzag trip to India, Switzerland, Philadelphia, Paris and Connecticut, I have to wonder where it has been since our day and is it still drawing people together as it goes.

Tim Prentice Bio. :

Tim Prentice, kinetic sculptor, received a Masters Degree in architecture from Yale in 1960 and founded the award-winning architectural firm of Prentice & Chan in 1965.
        Ten years later, he established a studio in Cornwall, Connecticut to design and fabricate kinetic sculpture. His corporate clients include American Express, Bank of America, Mobil, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Wells Fargo, Astra Zeneca, Samsung and Nokia.  In the last few years he has completed installations in Japan, South Korea, Northern Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Cameroon. He currently shows with Maxwell Davidson in New York and is represented in Europe by Miklos von Bartha in Basel.
        He has served on the boards of Hartford Art School of the MOMA Committee on Architecture and Design from 1968 to 1969.  An Adjunct Professor of Design at Columbia University from 1975 to 1980, he is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and President, New York Chapter, A.I.A. (1973-1974). From 1974 to 1978 he was President of the Municipal Art Society of New York.