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Archive for February, 2010

Massachusetts Hates on the Homeless

Massachusetts Hates on Homeless Families

http://homelessness.change.org/blog/view/massachusetts_hates_on_homeless_families

by Josie Raymond

Starting April 1, Massachusetts will deny shelter to homeless families through a number of draconian new rules. If families have been evicted or left public housing “without good cause” in the last three years, they’re out. If they have earned above the poverty level for three straight months, they’re out (the current rule is six months). If they don’t work 30 hours per week and save 30 percent of their income, they’re out. If they are absent from a shelter for two nights in a row, they’re out. If a family’s only children are between 18 and 21 and aren’t disabled or in high school, they’re out.

Massachusetts is sheltering more families than ever before this month, 2,700 in all, which makes it a strange time to introduce regulations limiting who can get shelter. The rules will save the state an infinitesimal amount of money over the next two years — $11 million out of a $28 billion budget — 0.0004 percent. A bigger goal is to push families out of the state’s 59 shelters so that families who’ve been waiting in motels paid for by the state (about 25 percent of all the homeless families) can move in. (Does no one see the coming cycle of being pushed out of shelters, struggling, winding up in motels and then back in shelters?)

In what was either a serious judgment lapse or a display of her naivete, the commissioner of the Department of Transitional Assistance, Julia E. Kehoe, told the Boston Globe, “Given our limited resources, we wanted to encourage people to find housing or stay where they are, rather than encouraging them to come into the system.” I assure you, Ms. Kehoe, no one comes to a shelter because it sounds like fun.

I suppose I should add something to this, but as is so often the case, commenting on a homelessness.change.org article is a bit above my pay grade. I am only the signpost. Good work as always, peoples.

 

Homeless News – Lubbock

Lubbock City Council votes against committee on homelessness

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A marginalized group of people left the Lubbock City Council meeting Thursday morning feeling what they describe as hopeless. In a four to three vote, the council rejected a resolution to form a committee to study the issue of homelessness in Lubbock. Advocates of the homeless community say their most recent count shows more than 600 people living on the streets in town, and they feel today the council turned a blind eye to the problem.

“One was seen at the library with a child 10 years of age, sleeping on the grass,” said Dale Milhauser at Citizen’s Comments Thursday morning. One after another, about a dozen people spoke, each asking the council to form a committee to study Lubbock’s homeless problem.

Some members of the council agreed based on principal. “We’re gonna build a Taj Mahal for our animals, which we should take care of our animals, but we don’t see that as a big service that we’ve got homeless people in our community. Aren’t they important too?,” said Councilman Floyd Price. He, Todd Klein, and Linda DeLeon voted for the resolution.

Only plastic between Haiti homeless and storms

The rainy season begins in earnest in early April and the hurricane season in early June, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Both can be deadly.

“If a hurricane hits Haiti head on, the loss of life will be severe and every temporary housing camp will be wiped out,” Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of non-profit design and building group Architecture for Humanity, wrote in a blog.

There is no talk in the Haiti aid community of building enough durable housing before the storms start and no mention so far of evacuation plans in case of floods or mudslides.

Tim Burgess Introduces His ‘Get Scuzzy People Out Of the Downtown Shopping District Act of 2010’

Tim Burgess couldn’t really have landed a better photo on the front page of the Seattle Times today if he’d supplied it himself. There he is, the ex-cop, now city council member, sternly looking out on the rough downtown streets that have gone un-cleaned-up for too long.

The story was part of a new publicity push for Burgess’s campaign to address “street disorder” [pdf]–specifically by outlawing “aggressive panhandling.” Burgess reintroduced his constitutionally questionable ordinance this morning. But this time he’s repackaged it with a bunch of other bells and whistles, which–as the Times story completely fails to point out–are more like smoke and mirrors.

Burgess “has attracted broad support for his proposal [this time] by combining it with a plan for police on the streets, better outreach to the homeless and city-funded housing ” the Times reports. That sounds great. Except when you look at Burgess’s “plan”, you’ll see it consists of simply re-recommending what the city is already doing. It’s like recycling your Ethos water bottle before you’ve even drunk from it.

A place to call home | In local program, property owners offer land to help the homeless

Eugene businesswoman Sue Scott has let homeless people live in trailers and motor homes on her property for two years. And she hasn’t regretted a minute of it.

In fact, she recommends that other business owners do the same thing.

“I had all the fears that most people do,” she said. “What about the trash that may be left behind? What about the old car that may be left? And all that stuff. But I said OK. And you know what? I’m glad I did.”

Scott, an owner of Scott & Sons Towing, is one of 12 Eugene business owners who participate in the city’s homeless vehicle camping program.

 

Pan & scan

h/t Gary Farber

 

Circle of Blue; Tehuacan Valley, Mexico

Tehuacán Valley, Mexico Remains Resilient as Nation Faces Worst Water Crisis in Decades

Severe water scarcity is a daily reality for many in Mexico, particularly the people of Tehuacán Valley. Facing a dwindling supply compounded by development, drought, and pollution one organization models a solution.

By Andrew Maddocks
Circle of Blue

There’s no water distribution infrastructure in Mexico’s San Marcos Tlacoylaco, and clean freshwater has been scarce as well as prohibitively expensive to buy for decades. But help is on its way to San Marcos, a town of about 10,000 people in the upper Tehuacán Valley, because new rainwater storage tanks and sewage-recycling systems in individual homes are making water more accessible to families.

A Mexican non-profit group, Alternativas, is at the sources of this economic and social change in San Marcos. Alternativas has developed a two-pronged approach aimed at residences and farms that involves water management systems for residences coupled with a campaign to replace corn with amaranth as a staple crop. This ecologically-based water conservation model, tested in San Marcos and 200 other towns, is seen as a potential strategy for solving the uncertain future for all of Tehuacán Valley’s increasingly troubled water supply.

Indeed, a prolonged drought last year that damaged the nation has made water scarcity in Tehuacán worse. The already limited supply has also been compromised by population growth, funding shortages and pollution. More people than ever—from every class and background—have lost access to clean water for days at a time. Facets of Mexico’s economy have been severely damaged as its deepest aquifers have been drained.

Good long article.

 

The Healing – Okay, how do we fix this?

Srsly. So far, we’re not doing so good with this healing thing. The part that involves enough of the populace to be sustainable…votable…whatever.

(crosspost from The Healing – okay, how do we fix this?

So, how do we fix it? I know; already diaried. But we still haven’t fixed it, or gotten even close. So I figure we need to keep talking about it.

What’s broken? Who is different? How? How much does that matter?

What are the best questions to ask? How do you talk to people who have really different mindsets?

Where do you start; where do you end? How do you frame it?

We live in a country where large groups of people have very different ideas about what is going on, and what is in their best interests, from each other.

It’s not just Democrats vs. teabaggers…it’s really much more complicated than that. Down in the general interstate region where I live, there are large Chicano groups who would probably like to become political groups that could run their own lives, with regards to their own best interests.

That’s likely just one example.

This sounds like meta, but really it’s not. Meta is about us, usually. This is about everybody, everywhere.

How do we effectuate the healing? What part can Kossacks play in it?

I know, I know. Old discussion. But we have to keep having this discussion. If people don’t want to have this discussion on my blog post, they will wind up wanting to have it on the blog posts of other bloggers here. Because it is the most important discussion to have.

Sure, you can talk about the environment, and how we need to have fewer humans. Ain’t gonna work.

We need to work on the humans, first and foremost. Because we ARE the most highly evolved species on the planet, and it’s up to us whether we trash everybody else, or get it together and bring it all back home.

I don’t mean to say anyone should not work on preserving any other species (including beneficial bacteria). I would never do that bad work of discouraging anyone from working on preserving any life form.

I’m just sayin…we have to fix us, as fast as we can; and trust ourselves to continue on the help and the healing.

We have to trust our own species.

It’s kind of the hardest thing in the world, since we have done so much damage.

But I don’t think there is any other way out, or any other moral or ethical thing to do.

We must trust ourselves, love ourselves, and test ourselves. We ARE the dominant species on the planet. Wow! What an amazing accomplishment!

So, we should just roll, peoples. All of you. Trust yourselves, and just roll. Find your new friends. They are there.

 

what happens tomorrow

okay, it should warm up up a bit after all this more snow.

It’s still wet and muddy, a bit.

Last summer looked like this:

Tithonia rotundifolia with butterfly

Work list: I start to go through the book inventory and box up those belonging to my largest consignee, in preparation for returning them to him.

I cart more water around. I find more stuff with which to fill up the trash can.

I take a book I sold to the post office, to mail.

Trashpick boxes and packing material; smaller boxes for books sold; larger ones for books to be retrieved by clients. Beer boxes are great for the latter. They are a good size (about 25# including books) and have built-in handle holes..

This is a relatively free day. Thursday I think I have an appointment, for the trees.

It should be about in the 50’s or so tomorrow. It should warm up soon, other than the El Nino precipitation.

Later tomorrow: I should list more books on Ebay. Some of the photos weren’t so great. I may have to redo some of those.

The camera does not always tell me reliably what is a good photo.

I am only now starting to experiment with offering international shipment for the smaller books. I don’t want to get stuck with pricey returns.

It’s not a fast nickel, selling books on the net.

It’s eleven or so and I’m really tired and sleepy. That’s good, because I’ve been working some today and I should be tired and sleepy.

 

Freecycle Redux

I’ve been working on giving stuff away via Freecycle in Carlsbad, New Mexico. I would never have guessed we even had one here, if a blogger friend elsewhere hadn’t inclined me to look.

So, props to blogger friends!

narrative below the fold.

What have I given away lately? Well, first I started with books, because I am an Internet book dealer and I want to move to the Pacific Northwest, and I have a lot of books that I don’t want to ship or even keep.

I posted on the carlsbad freecycle site about southwestern history books, because those are hot around here. I figured I’d get some contacts that way when I do some more book culling.

Five people responded and four wound up coming over for books.

The first was a war vet with back problems. I didn’t meet him, though he did send a lovely email of thanks. He doesn’t live quite in Carlsbad. A friend of his picked up his military and southwestern history book boxes while I was unavailable. I got back this email about “Thank you so much for working with Freecycle, and especially giving books!” I felt thrice-blessed.

The next person was a woman who wanted a variety of books; southwestern history, other history, Christian books, other metaphysical, art. I garnered up a bunch of stuff for her. She showed up with her daughter, a determined child who had no interest in me, but gazed intently at the books on the screen porch, and set upon them immediately.

Mom was a nice lady, a bit shy. I pretty much left them to have at it, and they carted off their portion of the booty. It was nice.

The next person was the historian guy, who wrote me and said he was an avid reader of non-fiction and had a cadre of historian friends. Very organized email. I got him together about nine boxes of history, biography, war history. I didn’t connect with him, but he came and got it all and sent me an email about how he’d NEVER seen anything like this, and so happy!

Ironic for me, because these are just the leavings of my book business. Or perhaps, more fairly; ironic for books.

But I am happy that he is happy, and I will continue to keep him on my list for freecycle, because I like it when people say thank you, especially when they do it in style.

Meanwhile, I moved on to my gardening freecycle contact resources. The Carlsbad Community Garden sent a rep today; very neat woman who came to get many of my used pots, my seed collection, two boxes of horticultural books, and a goodly bag of vermiculite. She came with her little daughter, who was very determined to help move the stacks of plastic pots. I gently pointed out that I wasn’t entirely sure that I hadn’t gotten the widow spiders out of the pots (they like stacks of plastic pots in the shade, here) though I didn’t think there were any there, because the webs are so obvious, and I did find one and took her out..Mom said “If she gets bit, I may leave fast, but I won’t sue you!” and “She’s used to being outside.” (the little daughter)

Wow. I wasn’t even thinking about being sued. I said in return; “How ’bout we just skip all of that?”

Meanwhile, the little daughter kept stalwartly running the pots. I figured what I needed to do was point out to her (not Mom; Mom was obviously way up on the uptake) that sometimes there are critters in the holes of plastic pots; you should be aware of that.

Little daughter just went on, and I’d bet real money she heard and processed everything I said.

When we all got the pots and grape starts and the artichoke set and the seeds and everything outside the fence, I let my border collie out, because he DOES like to knock over little kids, and this was a little kid. I know, she would have liked it, but I have to be careful; sometimes there are rocks or cement.

I talked to Mom some more; that was really cool. Daughter, meanwhile, brought up to me a tennis ball she’d found, that was in a container I’d given them, to give back to my dog.

I did. Daughter is VERY quiet, all three feet four of her.

Mom isn’t too pushy, though.

I thanked daughter; I know Casey missed that tennis ball! Mom and I had some more nice conversation about our dogs.

Daughter pointed out that Casey wanted me to throw the ball!

I sort of ignored her, because I didn’t see that Casey had the ball again. I figured he’d lost it, like he loses balls a lot.

Talked to Mom some more.

Daughter pointed out AGAIN (but very subtley) that Casey had the ball.

I threw Casey the ball.

Mom and daughter finished putting all the pots and stuff in the car.

Mom and I talked some more.

&&&

Later, another Freecycler. She came for the apricot tree and the fig cutting. I gave her some Echinocereus cacti and an Hesperaloe.

Really upbeat, kind of shy woman, but nice. Black veil in a shawl over her head. Long skirt to her shins. Awkward speech.

We talked for some time about horticulture. She told me some things I had not heard about, about fig tree propagation.

Some kind of religion with the dress? I don’t know. She knew her plants, though. And she’s involved with the community garden here too, she said.

Well, how do you like that? Not too shabby, Miep!

 

Claude’s Tree

Claude's Tree

http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2010/2/19/193346/440/11#c11

Used to be, we called it a “free store” (2+ / 0-)

Recommended by:
yella dawg, Miep

but it is nice to be able to personally pass on the stewardship of something, rather than just set it free in hopes the right person would find it. We didn’t have that immediate a communication system.

I gave away 40 acres of California land back in 1971. It was land that had been liberated under the aegis of the diggers. Removed from commerce, not to be sold. I found the right people, too. That land is still free, now protected by an official 503-C status, or whatever the acronym is.

In a certain way, it is still mine; I am free to be there anytime I want.

This tree is on it. It takes 6 people to hug it.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/2/19/838820/-Freecycle-Redux

Freecycle Redux
by Miep
Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 05:02:32 PM PST

I’ve been working on giving stuff away via Freecycle in Carlsbad, New Mexico. I would never have guessed we even had one here, if a blogger friend elsewhere hadn’t inclined me to look. So, props to blogger friends! narrative below the fold.

What have I given away lately? Well, first I started with books, because I am an Internet book dealer and I want to move to the Pacific Northwest, and I have a lot of books that I don’t want to ship or even keep.

I posted on the carlsbad freecycle site about southwestern history books, because those are hot around here. I figured I’d get some contacts that way when I do some more book culling.

Five people responded and four wound up coming over for books.

The first was a war vet with back problems. I didn’t meet him, though he did send a lovely email of thanks. He doesn’t live quite in Carlsbad. A friend of his picked up his military and southwestern history book boxes while I was unavailable. I got back this email about “Thank you so much for working with Freecycle, and especially giving books!” I felt thrice-blessed.

The next person was a woman who wanted a variety of books; southwestern history, other history, Christian books, other metaphysical, art. I garnered up a bunch of stuff for her. She showed up with her daughter, a determined child who had no interest in me, but gazed intently at the books on the screen porch, and set upon them immediately.

Mom was a nice lady, a bit shy. I pretty much left them to have at it, and they carted off their portion of the booty. It was nice.

The next person was the historian guy, who wrote me and said he was an avid reader of non-fiction and had a cadre of historian friends. Very organized email. I got him together about nine boxes of history, biography, war history. I didn’t connect with him, but he came and got it all and sent me an email about how he’d NEVER seen anything like this, and so happy!

Ironic for me, because these are just the leavings of my book business. Or perhaps, more fairly; ironic for books.

But I am happy that he is happy, and I will continue to keep him on my list for freecycle, because I like it when people say thank you, especially when they do it in style.

Meanwhile, I moved on to my gardening freecycle contact resources. The Carlsbad Community Garden sent a rep today; very neat woman who came to get many of my used pots, my seed collection, two boxes of horticultural books, and a goodly bag of vermiculite. She came with her little daughter, who was very determined to help move the stacks of plastic pots. I gently pointed out that I wasn’t entirely sure that I hadn’t gotten the widow spiders out of the pots (they like stacks of plastic pots in the shade, here) though I didn’t think there were any there, because the webs are so obvious, and I did find one and took her out..Mom said “If she gets bit, I may leave fast, but I won’t sue you!” and “She’s used to being outside.” (the little daughter)

Wow. I wasn’t even thinking about being sued. I said in return; “How ’bout we just skip all of that?”

Meanwhile, the little daughter kept stalwartly running the pots. I figured what I needed to do was point out to her (not Mom; Mom was obviously way up on the uptake) that sometimes there are critters in the holes of plastic pots; you should be aware of that.

Little daughter just went on, and I’d bet real money she heard and processed everything I said.

When we all got the pots and grape starts and the artichoke set and the seeds and everything outside the fence, I let my border collie out, because he DOES like to knock over little kids, and this was a little kid. I know, she would have liked it, but I have to be careful; sometimes there are rocks or cement.

I talked to Mom some more; that was really cool. Daughter, meanwhile, brought up to me a tennis ball she’d found, that was in a container I’d given them, to give back to my dog.

I did. Daughter is VERY quiet, all three feet four of her.

Mom isn’t too pushy, though.

I thanked daughter; I know Casey missed that tennis ball! Mom and I had some more nice conversation about our dogs.

Daughter pointed out that Casey wanted me to throw the ball!

I sort of ignored her, because I didn’t see that Casey had the ball again. I figured he’d lost it, like he loses balls a lot.

Talked to Mom some more.

Daughter pointed out AGAIN (but very subtley) that Casey had the ball.

I threw Casey the ball.

Mom and daughter finished putting all the pots and stuff in the car.

Mom and I talked some more.

&&&

Later, another Freecycler. She came for the apricot tree and the fig cutting. I gave her some Echinocereus cacti and an Hesperaloe.

Really upbeat, kind of shy woman, but nice. Black veil in a shawl over her head. Long skirt to her shins. Awkward speech.

We talked for some time about horticulture. She told me some things I had not heard about, about fig tree propagation.

Some kind of religion with the dress? I don’t know. She knew her plants, though. And she’s involved with the community garden here too, she said.

Well, how do you like that? Not too shabby, Miep!

 

Monsanto and Microsoft Get It On for Africa

Pioneer, Gates to give African farmers biotech seed

Washington, D.C. — Pioneer Hi-Bred is joining with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help scientists in Africa develop genetically engineered corn varieties that would allow poor farmers increase their yields with less fertilizer.

The aim of the project is to increase corn yields by 50 percent over the average now reached by African varieties, said Paul Schickler, president of Pioneer, a Johnston-based unit of DuPont.

The project represents the latest effort by U.S. seed giants to promote their products as being potentially beneficial to small-scale farmers in Africa, a continent with chronic food shortages but where countries have been reluctant to permit genetically modified crops.

Corn is a staple food throughout eastern and southern Africa, but yields are typically only a fraction of what they are in the United States because of the poor soils, insufficient rainfall and farmers’ lack of access to fertilizer, insecticides and high-quality seeds, experts say.

Um, well then maybe they should be doing something for food other than growing corn, which is a pretty heavy feeder? Especially hybrid GM stuff like Monsanto comes up with?

For some reason, the phrase “setting fires in order to have something to put out” comes to mind.

Well, Bill; much of teh Internet hates you for Microsoft; now they can hate you for Monsanto, too.

What do Microsoft and Monsanto have in common? Historical obsession about proprietary issues maybe?

Match made in hell.

In Africa, many poor farmers use little or no fertilizer already because of its cost.

And, as we all know, you can’t just grow plants sustainably. Fertilizer only comes from God – er, Monsanto and Bill Gates.

 

Gifted People

Interview with Stephanie Tolan

Stephanie S. Tolan writes novels for children and young adults, is co-author of the book “Guiding the Gifted Child”, writes about giftedness for Advanced Development Journal, is a contributing editor of Roeper Review, and a consultant about highly gifted children.

Great article. h/t Allison In Seattle.

It was really working as a consultant about children that I suddenly realized there was this vast population of gifted adults. We were working to avoid damage to the children, and it was very clear to me that one of the problems the parents were having trying to advocate for their kids was that they had never dealt with these issues themselves.

It took us many years to put together the truth about ourselves, and of course in the meantime there was no way to take adequate sorts of measures to see that our child was getting what he needed, because, first of all, we didn’t know how different he was, because we didn’t know how different we were, and we didn’t know that what seemed normal for us didn’t seem normal for everybody else.

And second of all, we believed all those myths about gifted people, and didn’t know we were, and we had all these hangups. In both our cases, it was denial. It really was an inability to know who we were, and an unwillingness to admit it. Denial was such a major thing with me, because it was just bloody dangerous to be very bright, so you had to not be, so there were always these reasons.