Friday, September 19, 2008

IT IS OUR DUTY

We must be the change we wish to see in the world.
~Mahatma Gandhi


Whether you are from a blue state, red state, purple state, BIG state or small state... it is our duty as American citizens to VOTE. We owe it not only to ourselves, but to future generations to get out there and make our voices be heard this election.

If we truly want to see change it is up to us to make it happen. We can not get complacent and think to ourselves "my one little vote doesn't matter" I live in a fairly small community and in my precinct alone, there are over 300 eligible unregistered voters! Those are 300 voices that will not be heard, if they do not take action.

I urge those of you who are registered to double check your status. Have you moved recently- is it updated? You can find out easily here. If you are not registered, you can go here and do so. Most states require you be registered at least 30 days prior to an election that means OCTOBER 4th! To check your individual State requirements, check here.

If you have time find a local event where you can set up a table and register people to vote. It is one thing we have control over- our vote. The more voices we have out there taking action the more likely that change will happen. Talk to your neighbors, donate money if you can, wear a button, put up a yard sign. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!










Thursday, September 18, 2008

How will you end global poverty?

Please visit this website to urge the moderator of the first Presidential debate to ask the candidates a question regarding how they will deal with global poverty. This is something we, the United States, pledged to eradicate by 2015 as part of the Millennium Goals. Global poverty affects us all, rich and poor. This is too important of an issue to not take action on.

Thank you.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Community Organizers Fight Back!

Thank you, to everyone who works from the ground up to make this world a better place. Community Organizers DO have a responsibility and a great and noble one at that.

Visit this site, and support those that are making a difference in our communities:

http://organizersfightback.wordpress.com/


* I know I've been a bit lacking in my posts lately, I hope to be back to posting regularly soon.


Friday, August 29, 2008

America, we cannot turn back.

Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise -- that American promise -- and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.
~ Barack Obama 8/28/08

Friday, August 8, 2008

Standing Up and Speaking Out

There is something wrong. Seriously wrong.

There is something wrong when 38.8 million people stand up in solidarity against poverty across the world in one day, and it's nowhere prominent in the major U.S. press. It's wrong that of those 38.8 million, yes 38.8 MILLION, North America only contributed 109.828 to that number (www.standagainstpoverty.org)

I don't claim to be a political activist, in fact, far from it. I have my views, but don't ask me to stand up and be able to eloquently and convincingly debate them. I also don't claim to have the answers...did I contact the press and try to get the word out? No. (To my defense, I had only heard about the Stand Up world-wide event less than 2 weeks before it was to happen, and did, on short notice, organize a small 14 person event in my community.) That again, to me means something is wrong. How come I hadn't heard about it? Moreover, how did I not hear that last year 23.5 Million people stood up for this same cause and broke a world record? I watch the news, read the newspaper every day. I may not be an "activist" but I do consider myself pretty well informed on world events, and a strong advocate of social justice.

I probably sound like a broken record you've all heard before. But if something's broken, shouldn't it be fixed? All too often we on the nightly news and in the newspaper of the casualties of war, the killing of kids, by kids, in our own neighborhoods. It leads a person to want to turn off their television and tune it all out. There is too much violence, too much hurt, too many crooked politicians. The list goes on and on. But you know what? There are also a hell of a lot of people out there combating every one of those issues and trying in their own way to make this world a little better. And the more we hear these stories, the more hope there is that one day we'll overcome these issues.

So why is it, when 38.8 Million people Stand Up and Speak Out for something as important as extreme poverty - something 189 world leaders pledged to eradicate by 2015, including our very own United States, it's not a MAJOR story?

The point of Stand Up and Speak Out was to show how many people DO care, and hold the governments responsible for the promise they made. But if 38.8 MILLION people stand up , and it's not deemed newsworthy, then something is wrong. Something is wrong when you go to Google News and type in "stand up against poverty" and you have to dig 4 pages deep before you come to an article published by a U.S. news source.

I don't believe in the "Ugly American" any more than I believe in the "Islamic terrorist" or the "lazy illegal immigrant." Individuals are terrorists, individuals are lazy, and yes, some American's behave very ugly. What I DO believe is that humans are generally good people. 38.3 Million of them proved that yesterday. But unfortunately millions more don't know that because apparently it's not newsworthy.

*****************

The above is a letter I wrote (and sent) to every major local and national news agency I could think of on October 17th of last year. And no, I did not receive any kind of response from any of them.

As I mentioned in this post, meeting Greg Mortenson profoundly changed my life. When he came last September to speak on Bainbridge Island, he mentioned the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): 8 goals for improving the lives of the world's poorest people that 189 world leaders promised to accomplish by 2015. The goals are:
ø eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
ø achieve universal primary education
ø promote gender equality and empower women
ø reduce child mortality
ø improve maternal health
ø combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
ø ensure environmental sustainability
ø develop a global partnership for development

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that prior to hearing Greg speak, I had never heard of the MDGs. But, I was so in awe and inspired by the things he spoke about and his desire to educate girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan that the next day I immediately googled "Millennium Development Goals" in hopes of learning more and seeing what I might be able to do. That is how I learned of the world-wide Stand Up event which was taking place in just two weeks. As I did with the penny drive I said to myself "heck, I could plan one of these, why not?!" And so I emailed a handful of people who had been involved with the penny drive asking if they would like to participate. I immediately ordered white wrist bands, printed out a bit of information to hand out about the MDGs, and hoped for the best. 2 weeks later, at a local coffee shop 14 people showed up to Stand Up and Speak Out. Not an earth shattering number by any means. But 14 people more than would have stood up had I not been inspired by Greg's words and learned about the MDGs myself.


So, did my event, with a mere 14 people make a difference? I like to think so. The 14 of us became more aware, and if each of those 14 people told just one person about the event and the MDGs that means others are becoming aware and possibly taking action, and that I think is making a difference. One guy who attended was someone who walked up to me at the grocery store a week earlier (I had never met him before) and said "I think what you did with the penny drive was very cool!" and so I told him about the Stand Up event. Today I consider him a friend, and he has already volunteered to help with this year's event. A woman who was a tremendous help with the penny drive brought her two children to the event and they read the pledge to all of us. I still will often see a gentleman who attended on the ferry and he is still wearing his white wristband, as am I. In fact, the other day I had someone ask me what my white band symbolized and I enthusiastically told the person about the MDGs!

So sure, we didn't save the world that night, we didn't achieve any of the goals, and we didn't even write any letters to world leaders that night but we did come together for a common cause and became more aware. That is important. It may not be huge, but important nonetheless.

This year I have a bit more time to plan the Stand Up event (Oct. 17-19) and I hope to get more people involved, hopefully help out some local organizations who are fighting poverty and see more press coverage. If you live on Bainbridge Island and would like to get involved, please email me and leave a comment. And, if you are in another part of the country/world and want to organize your own Stand Up event please leave a comment and let me know. I think it would be wonderful if we had a whole list of bloggers out there Standing Up! I'd love to list them on here as well. Please don't think "oh, I couldn't possibly organize such an event, that's too big" because really, the size of the event doesn't matter. If just one person shows up, that is one more person aware and making a difference.


I hope to hear from you, and hope you too consider Standing Up and Speaking Out.

To learn more, and see pictures from last years event around the world please visit Stand Up Against Poverty.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
~ Margaret Mead



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Traffic Update

No, this isn't a post about the state of traffic in Seattle. It's an update on the run I am participating in this Saturday to raise awareness about human trafficking. There was an article in this morning's local paper about how it is increasing worldwide.

Something really struck me in the article. My state, Washington, became the first to pass a law making it illegal...in 2003. This shocked me on a couple of levels. 2003 was only 5 years ago. That means prior to that, human trafficking was legal here. Really? It's one of those things I guess you just take for granted...you assume "of course it's not legal to sell another human being into slavery." What's even scarier is that since Washington passed the law, only 28 other states have followed suit. Hello?? That means that today, in 21 states, it is STILL LEGAL TO SELL ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. I thought this was the United States of America...land of the free. It's heartbreaking. And something I don't think too many people think about on a regular basis.

I haven't had the chance yet to research which states have enacted the law and which ones haven't but plan to do so this weekend. After the run there are booths and live music...I am hoping to gather more information then as well. I will be sure to report back with my findings, and hopefully ways we can work to put an end to this in all 50 states. Stay tuned.