Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Searching for alternate visions and possibilities in the world?
Come to Peoplehood -- this Saturday, October 1st in Philadelphia!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I'm sure all my many blogging fans have been missing my posts as it has been quite awhile now. I'm sitting at the SFO airport waiting for a flight home to Philadelphia. Not exactly looking forward to the flight, but really happy to get home. It's been a long trip and very very busy.

I was in Berkeley for work. However part of the work was a two-day staff retreat in Bodega Bay which was certainly more of a break than not. Plus, no birds pecked at my eyeballs and I did get to see some pelicans (this is not my picture), so that part of the trip was great!

Actually I realize that I did get another break last weekend when I went to Placerville to meet a writing project teacher with some colleagues, and then stop by to visit my Mom's brother in the San Ramon area. ... San Ramon is on the east bay, near Mount Diablo. Placerville is on the east side of Sacramento and in the foothills of the Sierras, it is a beautiful little town of about 10,000 people. It was a work visit, but a nice visit too, with stops at a winery and an orchard in the hills.

Quick Quiz: What are there 5 of in Placerville that might strike one as surprising?

On another note, one disturbing conversation I was in this past week was with a man from Baton Rouge who was in California for work. He started talking about New Orleans and how really things might be better there now because they can build expensive housing on the waterfront and make the downtown like Orlando. He said "the schools were crappy anyway." He was serious.

Also, this morning, there was apparently a small quake in the east bay. I wasn't conscious of it, but I do remember waking up around that time (my clock said 4:29) and noting that I have another 30 minutes to sleep before I had to get up for my shuttle, so I went back to sleep. I suppose the small shock of the quake did actually wake me up though now that I hear about it.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Support Spiral Q simply by doing your grocery shopping!
This Wednesday, Whole Foods market at 2001 Pennsylvania
Avenue will generously donate 5% of the store's net sales
to Spiral Q! Stop by and grab a month's worth of grub, a
big sack of organic produce, or even just a pint of your
favorite soy ice cream. Say “Hey!" as we represent Spiral
Q and share our puppets at our info table up front. Spread
the word, tell your friends, every purchase counts!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Over at Spiral Q, things are starting to gear up for Peoplehood -- the annual all-city parade and pageant that takes place in West Philadelphia. This is probably my sixth year maybe (is that possible?!) participating in Peoplehood -- I was even at the pre-Peoplehood event called Day of the Dead, inspired by the Mexico tradition. This year, Peoplehood is very early on the calendar -- October 1st instead of the last weekend closer to Halloween.

Last night I went to the open build at the studio and worked with a guy who is traveling around the country and has landed in Philly for about a month and came to the Q because it sounded like an interesting project. I wasn't there very long, so I just helped him get shoulder straps set up on these cardboard body forms for puppets that were originally thought to be peacocks. However, by the end of the evening we realized that maybe the peacocks need a different, slightly lighter and more eloquent design, and that these forms are really more for chubby owls. Beth said they looked like owls and she was right. So we are still trying to figure out the peacock costumes.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Quote from Lani Guinier, a Harvard University law professor in this commentary from the Washington Post.

[Poor black people are] "the canary in the mine. Poor black people are the throwaway people. And we pathologize them in order to justify our disregard."

But, she says, "this is not just about poor black people in New Orleans. This is about a social movement, with an administration that is bent on weakening the capacity of the national government to act. . . . I hope this is a wake-up call to all of America. To see this as the tip of the iceberg, the thin edge of the wedge. We ignored the early warning signals. But this is another early warning that we are ill prepared to function as a society."
One of the commentators tonight on the political commentary section of "News and Notes," an African American talk radio show on NPR (the only one?), is from Louisiana and she said she thought that it wasn't about race. She knew that would be an unpopular statment within her community (which I am assuming is also African American). She didn't have too much time to say too much more, except that many poor white communities were also left behind in this storm too but we just don't see them on t.v. This is probably true and it would be good to learn more. I'm not sure it would convince me that this isn't about race, but I am sure that this is also hugely about class and privledge.

Just watched the video posted on Truthout from the president of the Jefferson Parrish. Ugh. What the hell has been going on? It's really just amazing and depressing (sorry to keep repeating that, but it's true!).

This morning the women I work with came over to my house for a little birthday party for Marci ... and apparently me too (that was a nice surprise!). The most active conversation was about the reaction to what Kanye West said on t.v. the other day. If you saw it you know that he was very very upset, but maintained his tone and said things the way he saw them. The broadcast turned him off after he made his statement about Bush not caring about black people. So? Agree with him or not, but it's not like he threatened to kill the president or anything. They cut this part about Bush from the West coast broadcast.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What played out (is still playing out) in New Orleans continues to cause me moments of great despair as I go about my daily life here in Philly. The spin around us is amazing and the content is terrible and it is hard to listen for too long. I am afraid that the consequences of this are going to have reach far and wide and I don't think we really know what is ahead. However, more than the actual hurricane itself, the underlying core of this is rotten and that is what is so disturbing and upsetting. The total lack of leadership from those with the real power here is astounding.

The pieces that I've picked up in the news that give me hope are those from other countries where they share an alternative vision for how to prepare for disaster as a community. These aren't perfect governments by any means either, but there is clearly learning and collective wisdom embedded within the thinking behind these plans.

The first was an interview I heard on the radio show "The World" where a Bangladeshi BBC, Sabit Mustafa, is interviewed and shares what Bangladesh learned from a 1991 hurricane that killed hundreds of thousands. It can be downloaded here: Comparing New Orleans to Bangladesh (4:30) ... The second was an article that was sent to me through a list that I'm on that describes how Cuba dealt with a similar situation last September -- The Two Americas.

I'm interested in following up on this thread about evacuation as time moves along here. How are folks without cars factored into evacuation plans? I am, after all, one of them. Do I know anything about plans for Philadelphia in case of an emergency. Well, no. I don't. ... Here's what it says about evacuation on Philadelphia's Emergency Preparedness and Response plan. Reading this, I'll just say that I'm glad I have neighbors with cars and cash on hand. Reminds me though I should put batteries in this radio I have here just in case they really do announce what corner you should go stand on.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

My sister Kate and her husband Scott live in Austin and last night, after midnight, they went down to the convention center where 5,000+ evacuees [changed from "refugees" upon request] had just arrived. Along with them, reports my sister, were another 1,000+ volunteers, many from the university. She writes: "... it makes me proud of Austin, and mostly of all the young college kids who were there."

And then she reports that she heard that "women's underwear, towels, and sheets are still needed, and that money is needed more than anything."

We had a labor day block party out on Waverly last night and collected a couple hundred dollars that we took to Whole Foods because they are matching. Most of us had already given, so it was good to give more of the cash we had on hand too. The party was fun ... pot luck BBQ followed by summer slide show and movie on the neighbor's wall. People talked about what was happening in New Orleans, but I think also took a somewhat needed break, and didn't talk about it too. We have that luxury here, at this moment at least.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

It's a beautiful day here in Philadelphia. My neighbors are outside sweeping the small street we live on to prepare for a labor day BBQ this evening. I'm going to make dandelion salad (sort of like this, with no egg). Rich mentioned his mother went out into the backyard just recently and made a delicious salad, which is what inspired the idea. However, I bought the greens at the market.

Things are still dire in New Orleans. Red Cross is looking for blood donations -- especially type O. That's me. I don't usually give blood because I always pass out and/or it takes me a long time to recover. My father is the same way.

My uncle lives and works in Fort Worth for the housing authority. He said two days ago they were told they had 200 refugees on the way. Yesterday he found out the number was 25,000. ... Talked to my colleague Joye in Oklahoma yesterday and they are paying close attention to this as teachers. The influx of all these news students into the schools, in Texas and probably next, Oklahoma, is going to shift things significantly in those areas.

Friday, September 02, 2005

From my father:

Go to the Wall Street Jounal, the most conservative paper in the USA, and listen to the audio of the Mayor of New Orleans. The web site is www.wsj.com. He does not "pull any punches". xox Dad

(Direct link to the audio is here.)
An article from the Washington Post about the mayor of New Orleans. I don't know much about him beyond what I just read here, but it's probably worth learning more.
An interesting reflection from an American expat who is now living and working for a non-govermental organization in Cambodia. Granted, many people are pulling together in this storm that we do and don't see in the news right now. But it's important to pay attention to the weakest moments here too and see what they say about the times.
Woke up to a car alarm going off continuously in the parking lot behind our houses. Turned on the news to drown out the sound, and immediately was drawn back into the terrible failure that is currently being played out in New Orleans. I'm glad to see there are many editorials this morning about how unprepared and under-resourced the response is here in a situation that could have been predicted just so we have some documentation once we have time to really look back and figure out what happened here. ... On the radio they are reporting that the folks at the stadium got some food last night. I still personally don't know what to do except to send money from my credit card company that I will pay back later.

Here is a the most comprehensive list I've seen so far of places to donate.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Rereading my colleague Troy's email re: the power of Flickr (in response to photos posted re: Katrina), I realize that something he said I didn't manage to share in an earlier post, but I think it's really important. He asked us all to think about what a site like Flicker "could do to promote critical literacy and social justice for our students, if we were to harness it in the right way."

Interesting to think about.
What is going on here?! These stories are outrageous!
Moveon.org is calling for housing for folks displaced by the hurricane.
This was sent by my colleague Ann Dobie (from the Acadiana Writing Project) via the NWP Rural Sites Network discussion:

Dear Friends--

I have heard from NWP people all over the country expressing their concern for those whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. Many have asked how they can help. Of course the Red Cross and Salvation Army would welcome your contributions, but on the local TV news yesterday I heard an appeal for contributions that really touched my school teacher's heart. They were asking for help to buy school supplies, uniforms (yes, they wear uniforms here), and backpacks for children who have had to leave their homes and schools and enter schools that were not hit. Yesterday alone Lafayette Parish (where I live) registered over 600 homeless children as new students. They hope to have everyone in classrooms by Tuesday of next week. The parents of these children have no access to money to pay for school expenses since their banks are closed and ATMs non-functioning. Even if banks were available, many of the parents could not cover the expenses because they live in poverty. If you want to help these children, you can send a contribution to the Louisiana Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. (I didn't know such an organization existed until yesterday.) I called them this morning, and they say they are desperate for help. They used the word "crisis." Their address is:

P.O. Box 61112
Lafayette LA 70596

Checks can be made out to LAEHCY with a notation that they are to be used to assist Homeless Children.

Information about the storm and its impact are starting to be shared through our national teacher networks.

See my friend Pat's posting of our colleague Joan Anderson's email from Southeastern Louisiana.

Our thoughts are with you all.