Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Connecticut part two: Where Do We Go From Here Where Do We Start?

The NRA takes down their facebook page.

            Our national sickness expressed itself once again in Connecticut and garnered national attention.  It expressed itself a few weeks ago in Cleveland Heights as the community met to deal with elementary school kids being forcibly robbed of school Ipads.  No one died but it’s the same issue.  Before that our sick country screamed out in pain through Anthony Sowell in East Cleveland, Ohio.  No one was shot but it’s the same issue.   Just recently again America screamed “I am sick!” through two deaths and 137 unanswered shots fired again in East Cleveland.  Trayvon Martin told us we have a problem some of us are comfortable not listening. 

            Mixed signals fill the airways with President Obama suggesting that he would do all with in his presidential power to effect meaningful action as the White House spokesman was not so quick to commit officially saying, “It’s complicated.”  This clearly suggests there should be no mass sigh of relief that gun control is handled at the presidential level.
We have to do it, start anywhere after you start at home in your own head, heart, spirit, and body.  What personal commitments will you, have you made as of today to perfect your internal world and direct it toward peace, whatever that means to you?
A few weeks ago Michael Dunn a 45 year-old gun collector and software engineer overcome by dis-ease felt obliged to shoot at least 8 shots into a car with unarmed black teenagers killing one 17 year old because their music was too loud.  He was standing his ground in Florida…
There should be a public outcry of 1968 civil rights proportions until stand your ground laws in Florida and elsewhere are change and politicians who support the law are removed from office and to court room on public endangerment charges.   “The Florida version of the law passed in 2005. While the legislation provides no clear definition of what constitutes a threat, it allows people to use deadly force if they feel threatened regardless of whether they can safely leave the scene,” according to Huh what, regardless of whether they can safely leave the scene?!  More people are going to die and fewer people will be brought to justice.
A study by John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, found that Stand Your Ground laws tend to track the existing racial disparities in homicide convictions across the U.S. — with one significant exception: Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings. In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person; in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.  What else can be done?
Close to home
I’ve personally seen all of the Godfather movies, CSI, my share of Law and Order Criminal Intent, Good Fellahs, my all time favorite, Revolver and I’m kinda found of mixed martial arts.  The harm I think it has done to me is desensitizing me.  It has not made me violent. I’d say it’s not in me but I think everyone has the capacity and my past media diet would take exception. 
I’ve made a commitment to not make gratuitous violence a major part of my diet and stopped watching television over a year ago. Even though I have seen a difference for many years I have many times made the determination that taking on the violence was worth it, for instance, like with the movie Revolver; possibly a pure justification.  I’ve changed my language to be more logical and less antagonistic, more exchange and less confrontation. I strive more to be heard and understood than to win arguments and make people see my way; respectively I seek to listen and understand others. I don’t always get it right.
As I direct attention internally I express it externally through interaction with others, through writing and through what I support.  I’m willing to go out. I will be asking groups I work with if there is something we can do short term and long term.  I will be asking writers I know what they think they should do.  I will be trying to sustain an effort of some sort for a year.
There have been over 30 shootings since Columbine in 1999.  Since 2004 when Mr. Obama took office he has resisted doing anything about the laws stating enforcing current laws was what was needed.  Now in the face of mounting pressure the president seems to be reassessing this stance.  Part of Australia’s fix was to buy back guns. What can be done to not only support any effort toward gun reform but to change the entire cynical malaise of this country?
Make plans, something you can start doing right now also and then something long range that may take preparation.  Join in with someone some group you may not have to reinvent the wheel. We need to walk each other toward a peaceful spirit and put pressure on local and national leaders.
The National Firearms Agreement of Australia -- reached among the political parties less than two weeks after a gunman killed 35 people and injured 23 at a Tasmanian seaside resort -- cut firearm homicide by 59% over the next two decades and firearms suicide by 74%, the report showed.

The law banned semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns and put in place a mandatory buy-back program for newly banned weapons.
The buyback led to the destruction of 650,000 guns, the Sunshine Coast Daily reported.  That would be like the US destroying 40 million guns.  Currently there is an average of 88 weapons per 100 people according to the Pew Research Center.
Embrace and Assert What We Already Do More Toward a More Civil Society- things we might consider, a list.
There are so many things that already happen if we could embrace them more and make them central to our everyday comings and goings I believe it will change things.
Specific to mass gun shootings social media mavens replace your profile pic with a no guns sign or the like once a month for the next year. 
You know a blogger or an opinion maker or someone like a musician who has access to lots of people?  Challenge them to cover gun violence, nonviolence, civil discourse, a kinder gentler work place or whatever once a month for the next year. 
Are you a community group or head of a school that could pass out statistics about violence and bullying to students and parents, show a movie that deals with the issue, make it a family night? Pass out stats about gun violence in neighborhoods door to door where resources are limited.
It is better to feel good than to look good. Many organizations have things in place they could perhaps turn toward our national illness such as the Cleveland Museum of Art.  They have a program in which you catch your colleagues doing something right and out side of what their job description says, report it and HR recognizes them.  Could your school or organization adapt and use this program? Find out more?  The Cleveland Museum of Art Director of HR Sharon Reaves;

Random acts of kindness and Pass it forward. Who can’t do these with a vengeance?
Practicing patience while driving
Changing one’s language from insulting to understanding.
Are there people who think this is a bunch of nonsense? Sure there are.  Let’s get their ideas.  Where do you stand? What are your ideas?

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the Sandy Hook school shooting. On April 28, 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania. By the time he was finished, he had killed 35 people and wounded 23 more.

Connecticut school shooting stuns the world.
However only days after twenty seven people including 20 elementary school children are murdered and a teary eyed response from the president the White House is waffling and side stepping a political solution.  White House spokesman Jay Carney stated, "it's a complex problem that requires a complex solution." Apparently these complexities elluded the small island of Australia where strict gunlaws were enacted following a 1996 mass shooting.  Australia reports it hasn't had a similar incident since.
I watched a city wide writing competition for middle schools recently. Prior to the awards announcements there was a talent show.  One young kid sang Luther Vandross’ Dance With My Father, there were a variety of other things and an audience participation on stage lip sync and dance of Gangnam Style.  There was so much joy watching these children cheering, singing along acting silly and as I say, fulfilling part of their kids’ job description being carefree.

So as Luther’s lyrics waxed sentimental and nostalgic wishing for one more dance with father many of us teared up thinking about 20 sets of parents who will never dance with their children again.
A question, I heard in an interview about Sandy Hooks “what do we tell the children,” forced its way into my mind.  We can tell them don’t worry pray and it will never happen to you, we live in a safe and predictable world, but these things are not true.  I looked at my daughter, and her group on stage bumbling through a dance routine then her screaming “woohooo thank you… “  yada yada at the microphone and I thought; honey I hope that was fun. I hope everyday you rise you fend off the evil and negativity of this world living side by side with goodness and mercy and find something joyful in your day, because tomorrow is a gift not promised.

Bill Maher says…
Sorry but prayers and giving your kids hugs fix nothing; only having the balls to stand up to our insane selfish gun culture will. I couldn’t agree more with Bill Maher. In other words faith without works is missing the mark.  Conviction without action is not conviction it is an idea and hot air. If these are real they produce… something.

Many of us say we believe this, but many of us have few convictions just ideas and hot air.
Is It Gun Culture or a Culture of Violence Flamed by Incivility, Insensitivity, and Intolerance?
Does gratuitous violence beget violence? A lot of us feed our appetite for many forms of violence constantly.  Each individual has to judge the harm things like this do or don’t do, I guess.
One can read all over the I-net that the subconscious mind does not know the difference between fantasy and reality so to the subconscious mind a movie killing is not perceived as fantasy.  I do not know if that is true; however there is research to suggest that in the conscious mind the line between fantasy and reality can be very blurry. According to the work of Donald D. Hoffman, Ph. D., in computational psychology, Department of Cognitive Science University of California, Irvine, reality affirms fantasy and vice versa.
So it could be that the reality is that violence is violent and it only matters in degrees whether one see’s it across the street or on CSI or whether one is a victim of violence.  It doesn’t matter if it is a racist, misogynistic or homophobic degrading joke, snide comment meant to damage someone’s ego, or the last straw body image comment or commercial that drives a young girl into anorexia.

Do you think a violent diet of living vicariously through media good and bad guys alike, enduring slights uncivil and intolerant behavior and language on a regular basis have a cumulative effect?  I think I channeled Rush Limbaugh once.  How much psychic damage does it take to push one over the edge?  How much psychic damage does it take to push one community over the edge or a country over the edge?

Maybe this is what Jesus the sage was eluding to when he said if you create an act in your mind you have committed an act in your heart (he chose adultery to speak about).  The one liberating thing about this maxim is that it must work both ways in the negative and the positive mustn’t it?

An idea making the rounds on the I-net attributed to Marianne Williamson, says,
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I used to roll my eyes at this but suppose most of us are willfully hot potato tossing the power and corresponding responsibility we have off on God by praying or by blaming the closest idiot?  How many of us say that pray, “God send me,” and then get up and go?

Suppose it is true if we have faith the size of a grain of mustard seed we can move mountains?  Gandhi did, Dr. King did. Dr. Paul Farmer did in Haiti.  As great as these people were and are none of them did great things single handedly.

Amit Goswami a renowned theoretical nuclear physicist Professor Emeritus Oregon University and featured in the movie “What the Bleep do We Know?” theorizes that consciousness creates mind and matter, subject and object, which dovetail quite nicely with “mustard seed” faith.

It could be exactly what would happen when “the woman with an issue of blood” healed herself without permission or even asking a god or anyone.  Her faith was not born in religion, she had no faith in doctors, she had already tested them as all faith should be tested, she had faith born out of desperation: a faith that caused her to focus on a solution that had no doctrine behind it, no orthodoxy just an idea and focused commitment to change her circumstance. How many of us have a focused commitment to change ourselves to change our world to change our circumstance?

So Bryan Fischer and Mike Huckabee proclaim the Connecticut Sandy Hook massacre, Columbine and other school and college related massacres happened because Gentleman Good God has been kicked out of the schools and doesn’t go where he isn’t wanted.  I find myself not wanting to dignify their ideas held by many with any kind of comment or acknowledge that it was even said.

The “Kingdom of Potential” is with in us, not in the act of public prayer but  into the single-minded action we embark upon when we hear ourselves pray and that is why everything that does not proceed from faith that does not proceed from conviction is missing the mark.

One definition of prayer is, a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.  Let us worship life and life more abundantly and let the life be the light of all people.  Let us walk in the life and the way that promotes abundant living and the truth that affirms a God whose definition is goodness and a universe that is sufficient.

I’m sorry Fischer and Huckabee choose to believe something so uninformed about the God they claim to know they are trying to make sense of the world too, just saying.  I guess as the poor shall always be with us so shall the ignorant.  In fact there are areas in which we are all ignorant and blind to what real is so let us mitigate damage as much as we can forgive and continue to press toward the mark not kick against the pricks.

We have such potential to change our world but we abdicate our responsibility though we know if everyone is not comfortable then we are thieves and leeches living at the expense of the poor. We hide our lack of action in words of outrage, and also in prayers and psalms as if in so speaking we’ve done our part. We point our fingers as if responsibility starts just beyond our reach.

When I hear an atheist quip, “thank you God for sparing the lives of 20 children in Connecticut… oh wait a minute, you didn’t, f*ck God,” I can understand the anger, though I was not angry I was deeply saddened by what happened in Connecticut; I can understand the question, if there is a just God then why?  However I can’t understand the misdirected rage in the midst of such a tragedy.

I must ask that person and all of us of that spirit of complaint and condescension, where is your faith? Was that misdirect the best you can do that’s it?!   Certainly your faith does not rest in your non-god but you must certainly believe in goodness fighting the good fight or you must be silent.  You must have hope in light of a non-existent god that especially together with others you have power to change things or you should have no part in this public showing of pain, dismay, an healing.

You must certainly acknowledge that without God it is of the utmost importance to have faith in yourself and humanity that your positive mindset and doings must endure if darkness is ever to be conquered if darkness is not to overtake all.

Darkness will not just go away it is apart of our world with which we must deal.  We must give our lives to fight it, if goodness is to triumph. If your dark side is to remain contained or better yet transformed, reborn.

I think if you are giving in to your dark side and self -righteousness, if you are putting some burden on others that you don’t accept you brother are a Pharisee; believe me you don’t need a god to be one. There is little difference between you and the religious person you hate and demean for being misguided, bigoted and myopic.

As misguided as you think religious people are, some of them lost their children Friday.  You may as well grab a picket sign and join Washington Baptist church you are both on the same side, crucifying folks for believing what you feel is clearly wrong.
Coming up: Where do we go from here?
See on

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Lessons about Change for Mr. President from Isaac Newton


Are the times a changin? Chilling is the idea that if Mr. Obama had no active resistance and was able to shift things at will we in America and world wide would still be up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  Until we common folk see the game for what it is and decide to exercise our will and grasp the power we have, morally, economically and politically; grasp the empowerment at our fingertips things will not significantly change. 

For example, economically why anyone who is not rich would side with "trickle-down" economics is beyond me maybe someone can school me here. It doesn't trickle down and do what it theoretically is supposed to folks.  The Reagan success wasn't necessarily a success.  I would even venture to question why many of the rich would think this is a good long range idea.  I guess the cynical answer to the question how much is enough is the reason.

According to Kimberly Amadeo
 If trickle-down economics worked [during the Reagan Administration], then lower tax rates during the Reagan Revolution should have increased the lowest income levels. In fact, the exact opposite has occurred. Income inequality has worsened. Between 1979 and 2005, after-tax household income rose 6% for the bottom fifth of income earners. That sounds great, until you see what happened for the top fifth -- an 80% increase in income. The top 1% saw their income triple. Instead trickling down, it appears that prosperity trickled up! (Source: Steven Greenhouse, The Big Squeeze, pp.6-9)
Much of our public and economic policy is driven by two things.  Firstly is the idea that you too can be rich and in the upper echelon, the top 5 to 1 percent and secondly is the idea that we don't want anyone getting anything handed to them.  "Why should I work my fingers to the bone and the "Blank" family get paid sitting at home watching All In The Family reruns?
They both lead to misguided public policy based on myth perpetrated by our American roots individualistic personality."
Come gather 'round people Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters Around you have grown
And accept it that soon You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you Is worth savin' Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin'

In which direction do we see change going?
"The researchers at Pew Social & Demographic Trends aren't holding back in their new report on the middle class. It calls the last 11 years, "the lost decade" for the country's middle class.
The highlight from the report issued today is that the middle class is poorer, earning less and shrinking."-The Two-Way, NPR news blog, Sept. 5th 2012
Many people who voted for Mr. Obama have voiced disappointment in the amount of change his administration hasn't enacted.  Perhaps many of these folks are single issue voters, perhaps they are unaware of the significant changes he has attempted to enact.  Many of us know his changes aren't new but what is new is that he has brought the power of the presidency to bear on issues many have been trying to change since before Mr. Obama was born.  Some may be unaware of what change he managed to enact and perhaps they were absent the day guest lecturer Isaac Newton taught PoliSci 101.  Attention class!
First Law:
·       A Situation, Policy, Object, Dilemma, Train Of Thought, or Malaise, (SPODTOTOM)
             [Which is] at rest remains at rest until acted upon by a force.
·       A SPODTOTOM [which is] in motion continues moving in a straight line at constant velocity until acted upon by a force.
Also called "Law of Inertia"

Accelerated motion
Newton's Second Law:
F = ma
Acceleration of a SPODTOTOM is directly proportional to the net force acting on the SPODTOTOM and inversely proportional to its mass.  Translation: the more force you apply to a, SPODTOTOM over time the quicker the SPODTOTOM will move or change direction.  The denser the SPODTOTOM the slower the change.

Newton's Third Law:
Whenever  New Ideas, Situations, Policies, Objects, Trains Of Thought, etc., exerts a force on a  SPODTOTOM, the  SPODTOTOM  attempts to exert at least an equal and opposite force on the first in an attempt to eliminate it and continue the status quo.

 The Times They Are A Changin- Bruce Sringsteen:

 Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Participaste in Non and Retroactive Flavors

In the last post, "I Post Therefore I Am," the idea surfaced that we can change ourselves by changing our language and by so doing work toward a country of civility through public discourse.  Many times this blogger challenges nonproductive language and discourse on social media and lords over his own arena of vocabulary, thought and spirit.  So we can still help this little guy keep "chugging along."  If you are not part of this you can do like Romney and retroactively hop on board... we know your heart was there from the beginning, we'll paste you in the roll call..
Often the greatest form of protest is revealed not aggressively in shouts and screams but by aggressively positioning one's self not to participate:

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Post Therefore I Am?

WWDD? (Rene Descartes by Frans Hals)

An article by Vibhu Norby entitled, Why Social Media Is Endangering Our Future, starts out saying “Everybody wants to be famous, Nobody wants to be nameless, aimless” "... Because to be searchable and indexed on Google is to be, we are in need of exposing our lives more and more on public channels to permanently plant ourselves in the memory of the Internet.
 Nobody wants to be forgotten. We are losing control over our content as well as how we are represented online. That power is entirely in the hands of social media and search companies".

Today a very good friend posted on facebook the following, "If you aren't writing to be immortal, you are wasting your time and ours."
Another friend and blogger  at Have Coffee Will Write  replied that he writes to understand what he thinks.  I then read a blurb about designer Philippe Starck at Design Within Reach.  In a video at the site Starck states what I believe that everything worth doing should start with mission and that mission informs goals and objects which in turn express the mission.  I think this can be and perhaps should be applied to just about everything. 

One of my clients has enlisted my services to market and advertise for their company.  Early on I learned the client had no defined company mission.  They had products but as far as I was concerned would have a difficult time reaching an intended audience/clientele, developing a niche and their brand without a reason for being.   In our initial meeting I inquired "why do you do this, what drew you into this particular realm, what services do you provide" and so on.

Perhaps ironically, I've never written a mission about why I write or more to the point of this muse why I post to social media.  I have a personal facebook and two fan pages, Google+ personal and biz, I try to stay on top of two blogs and I am leaving one or two things out.

 I do have a personally mission statement I pull out every now and again and peruse to see if I'm on track and if things have shifted,changed or expanded.  It is at the end of this piece.

Am I one of the everybody that wants to be famous of whom Norby speaks?  Do I not want to be aimless nameless?

I don't agree with Vibhu Norby that "We are losing control over our content as well as how we are represented online. That power is entirely in the hands of social media and search companies."
I believe that whatever control we don't have we have never had and that if nothing else John Q. and Alice P. Public have more access to the entire world than ever before.  A case can be made for the fact we don't know and do not exercise what control we have.  This stance may bespeak my ignorance in this area but perhaps it is more that Vibhu may not understand the significance of the fact that "anyone" has access to "everyone."  It certainly was not the case as I was growing up in the 60's.  If you were not associated with a powerful publisher whether it was McGraw-Hill or the Cleveland Plain Dealer not many would ever know your thoughts existed, the access did not exist.

For some time I've been thinking about things I want concerning work and employment and recently I have concluded that my ability to write and high order thinking can possibly pay some bills.  Thus far things I want from writing are basically in my personal mission.  I never want to be complicit in  an organization's actions  that don't have the goodwill of public in mind.  I don't really even want to work for organizations like this however I find this is very difficulty to avoid.  I've found no matter how good an organization is on paper it is given to those in charge and directed and informed by their ethics and morality or lack there of, there understanding of the world.  This is one issue that kept me out of advertising years ago that back then I feared I didn't have the integrity one really needs in advertising.
 Now I have the integrity and the experience if not wisdom to lay a foundation for everyone to glean and hold up to scrutiny for their own good and the good of the organization.

One organization was a bit dismayed because I sent a treatise of sorts concerning a project in which I might become involved.  After deciding to work with this organization and the organization deciding to work with me I received a call from the HNIC questioning my ability to communicate coherently in writing.

So as of recently one reason I write is because it will pay bills, but once again why social media write on a personal note?
I think writing to become immortal may be part of the equation.  If I want to write to understand what I think and I think too I do I would need less of an audience than I am trying to reach.  Do not we all think about posterity and legacy? Some people will leave property, money, goodwill in their name a legacy of community service and all of these can be comprehended through social media.  Some will leave an often used piece of art like a watch, a homemade recipe or literary legacy I think that is sublime.

Foremost in my thoughts however I use social media because I love to discuss and share and hear what others say that might inform and grow my world and social media satisfies this desire with immediate gratification.  As immediate as it is it also affords one the opportunity to go back to a discussion one may have been too emotional about to listen to initially.  You can come across discussion you didn't even participate in even weeks and months later after it was posted.

 I also believe that there is a process whereby folks including myself can continue to become or be thinkers about their lives, how they connect with a diverse world and what they can add to the planet.  One of my bents is global thinking toward a win-win in everything I encounter. It can't always be done but one can come closer to accomplishing it if one has it as a goal from the outset.

Civility is a huge issue with me and I believe incivility rules in these United States.  I think incivility and intolerance walk hand in hand down the path to the dumbing of America, prejudice, racism, poverty, add your own ism and are steeped in selfishness ergo no win-win.

  If we can change our language we can redirect our thoughts and actual talk to people toward consensus, understanding and a more sustainable and livable society.  The term "quality of life" comes to mind.  I'm not saying lets all hold hands and kumbaya.  I am saying there is a big difference between saying "if you are a Republican you are an idiot," and "I perceive Republican ideology to be thus and so and I disagree with it on points a,b,c for reasons e, f, g."

In the past I've tried to excuse myself and others for sensationalism because it is just a statement that gets attention and starts a conversation, blah, blah, blah but I think we should develop a distaste for such language in public forum and shy away from it. It may be that many who engage in this language have an aversion to truth and knowledge and a diverse points of view endeavoring to put themselves at the center of their universes and yours too....ergo no win-win..
How well am I doing?  I have a ways to go or I would have left out the HNIC comment.
So I perhaps said all of this to conclude that I write using social media to change things for the better and probably to leave my mark.
So I am waiting with proverbial baited breath to hear why you do social media voodoo you do so well.

Short Version: Mission
·     Congruency
·     To love God (the Divine) and my enemy
·     to be content to enjoy life
·     Breathe in/ Breathe out and let God Breathe out then Breathe in, so my soul does breathe in/ breathe out. 

·     Congruency for myself, for other people and for organizations and alliances.
·     To love God (the Divine) with all my heart by manifesting a passion for El Shaddai’s (Ultimate) truth, for compassion and for service to others.
·     To love God (the Divine):
o   with my entire mind by renewing it with eternal principles for living true to myself, by recognizing the win-win scenario that may exist in every circumstance I encounter.
o  With all of my soul by acting on what is on my mind and in my heart and by obeying that “still small voice” within me.
·     to be content to enjoy life by understanding that the living and praying into the journey is the key to real joy.
·     I will always be where I am supposed to be no matter what the circumstances may suggest. Circumstances are always subject to change that is to say that change is their master.

I have an adage that I keep in mind that; Breathe in/ Breathe out and let God Breathe out then Breathe in, so my soul breathes in/ breathes out.  For me Breathe in breathe out is more than a metaphor. I had this epiphany while meditating and playing my didjeridoo. 
We breathe in what the earth expels and the earth breaths in what we expel as toxic.  I remember when Art Modell, the owner of the Cleveland Browns moved the team to Baltimore and of course Browns fans were angry, to me short sightedly angry.  In a larger picture where Cleveland and Baltimore are a unit or connected what seemed bad for Cleveland was good for Modell and Baltimore and ultimately not bad for Cleveland.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The West Side Market and Spaces Mix Art, Gardening, and Healthy Eating

On Saturday, June 23, join SPACES’s artist in resident Alison Pebworth and local farmers from City Rising Farm, Erie’s Edge Farm, Gather ‘Round Farm, Let It Bee Gardens, and the Possibilitarian Garden at the West Side Market for an all-day Elixir Social.

This June, Pebworth has been in town with her traveling cross-country art exhibition, Beautiful Possibility Inspired by the 19th century American Traveling Show, Pebworth’s hand-painted posters use the elaborate graphics of Wild West show posters to re-tell American history.

At stops across the country, Pebworth has been surveying people on their thoughts about "Americanitis," a curious 19th century nervous condition resulting from rapid modernization. While in Cleveland, Pebworth has partnered with urban farmers to make an array of special "Cleveland Elixirs" for Americanitis, which you can sample all day at the Market.

@ The West Side Market Lorain Avenue Produce Entrance

8:00 - 9:00 am:
Stretch Your Roots Sunrise Elixir, with Erie's Edge Farm

10:00 - 11:00 am:
Journey to the Center of the Self Elixir, with Gather 'Round Farm

11:00am - Noon:
Full Sensory Elixir Experience, with the Possibilitarians

Noon - 1:00 pm:
Mulberry Thyme! With City Rising Farm

1:00 - 2:00 pm:
Tea with Ms. McGregor, the Real Master Gardener of Blaine Avenue

2:00 - 3:00 pm:
Community Service Berry Potent Potion, with Let It Bee Garden

3:00 pm:
Cap off the day with Alison Pebworth

For more information:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Grow Your Own is Making a Comeback in Cleveland

The Buckeye Area Family Garden Initiative

Saturday, May 12th I visited Benedictine High School on Martin Luther King Drive where the Buckeye Area Family Garden Initiative was kicking off its neighborhood gardening endeavor.  

According to the  Family Garden Initiative this is the first of its kind in Cuyahoga County; "We aim to bring healthy food back to the household through backyard gardening."   
This is a collaboration with the Buckeye Area Development Corporation.  The Garden Initiative itself is composed of Buckeye- Woodland Learning Farm, Body Age Project, Green Houses and Greenhouses, Garden Leader Network and Green Line.

At the center of this initiative, Garden Soxx a portable growing system that can be "planted" virtual anywhere.  The above ground Garden Soxx system is sponsored by filtrex land improvement systems a subsidiary of nonprofit 501c3 Filtrexx Foundation.  According to the filtrexx website the foundation was
 "created to promote educational programs centered on compost use, gardening, childhood, early development, and student programs."
2006 South Central Farmers Evicted Despite Daryl Hannah Efforts

Some may remember the 14 acres urban farm in South Central Los Angeles in California servicing around 500 mostly Hispanic families that no longer exists.  With all of the vacant warehouses in the area developers wanted the land supposedly to build a warehouse, yeah right.  The developers proffered the idea that if $16.3 million dollars was raised the farmers could stay.  Danny Glover and Willie Nelson were involved in the effort as were Daryl Hannah and Ed Begley Jr. who both lived in a tree on the property for 23 days.  The money was raised and the farmers were still evicted days later.

In sharp contrast to this travesty, six years later First Lady Michelle Obama visits the International Rescue Committee (IRC) sponsored gardens in San Diego in the City Heights neighborhood.  First Lady chose this site to promote her  own national gardening initiative.  Unlike the South Central garden this garden is 2.3 acres, is tended by, and services refugees from Somalia, Guatemala, Burma, Uganda, Mexico, Vietnam and several other foreign countries.

Like the gardens of the Buckeye initiative Michelle Obama tore up a portion of the south lawn and planted her own private garden; well as private as a garden can be on government property. 

 If memory serves me, as a child growing up in the Lee Harvard/Lee Miles area of Cleveland, Ohio many of the schools had community gardens as did many of my classmates' parents.  My parents certainly had a garden that yielded more than we could eat at harvest times.  We harvested, cooked and ate, gave food away, and canned.  I remember pear preserves, canned green beans,  tomatoes and other garden delectables and cherries.  Does anyone know what a Ball jar looks like?
Even through my high school years living in Woodmere it was not difficult to find gardeners.  I would laugh at the friendly competition as the Lards, the Rices, Mr. Burke and others would carry their best offerings to people, especially other gardeners with a, "let's see you top that smile," thinly veiled in the offering.

I remember my mother sending me to the garden in January to dig through the snow and bring in collard greens with leaves sometimes circling the center three feet in diameter.  In the fall we harvested our apples and passed them through a grinder and then into an apple press, ahhhh, immediate gratification as we would taste the cold apple juice squeezed through the cheesecloth running down the cast iron channel.

The one thing I don't remember are Garden Soxx.  The company states that this is the fast easy way to garden, not much harder than putting your plants in and watering; and it is about that simply.

Kristin Nix of the Filtrex Foundation and Garden Soxx
Buckeye Community Health fellow Vedette Gavin. Kristin Nix of the Filtrex Foundation
In one respect this is surely a sign of the times in our no fuss, no muss, prepackaged, prefab society but this is very pragmatic.  Garden Initiative started out with 150 of these gardens and I suspect a good many of them went to "once upon a time" gardeners as well as "I'm not going to dig and fertilize" gardeners.  It seems a great jumpstart idea.  it is wonderful that Buckeye Garden Initiative considered and opted for organic Garden Soxx; it is clear from the filtrexx site that non organic is an option possibly their primary ware, unless one asks otherwise.

Vedette Gavin explains how it works
The kick-off event was very well organized I found as I went from the logistics tables where friendly, knowledgeable staff proactively engaged people that arrived to the education table where very knowledgeable folks answered all of my questions.  So often one can go to endeavors like this, ask questions, and be met with, "Don't ask me I just work here."  I found none of that here.  Even the uninvolved Benedictine athletes there new what was going on.

If you would like more information on this initiative, even how to start it in your neighborhood, Vedette Gavin's name floated to the top the most.  Also visit the Buckeye Area Family Garden Initiative website.
Buckeye Development Area Corp staffer Radiah Douglas

Radiah Douglas and Garden participant

Volunteers from Cake Boys Cake Girls

Garden Initiative staff