Archive for the ‘One Planet’ Category

MLK Day 2009

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Words to remember as the Bush era finally comes to an end and we hope for a better day.  President Obama can’t wave a wand and solve all our problems.  We have to be right there with him, encouraging him and pushing him and willing to roll up our own sleeves, work hard, and take risks.

Since we only got the short version at yesterday’s inaugural concert, here’s “We Shall Be Free” in its entirety.  Enjoy.  And be inspired.

We Shall Be Free (video)

Do Unto Others…

Friday, November 21st, 2008

The line is wrapped around the block this morning. Hungry, frightened people wait in the freezing cold, hoping that this time they will get one of those coveted numbers that will yield a bag of groceries to help feed their families through the next week. Maybe two, if they really stretch it.

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The Sun Will Come Out

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

I was horrified, as I know all of you were, by the shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Knoxville. There will be time, somewhere down the road, to contemplate the level of hatred that could motivate one human being to attack and murder others over a difference in political philosophy. Right now, I’d like to share with you a first-person account written by Bekitty, a regular at Shakesville.

Bekitty is a member of the TVUUC and was present during the shooting. She lost two fellow congregants, one of whom was a close friend. Her story is powerful, conveying the terror of the moment, the dreadful pain and loss, and the wonder of a community that has and will continue to come together to care for each other and work toward healing.

Read it here.

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ETA:  If you’d like to help, click here.

Public Service Announcement

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I know this isn’t a news flash to anyone here, but when the economy goes bad, the people who suffer first and most are those who didn’t have much to start with. The Birmingham News has a feature today detailing shortages and financial struggles at food banks here in town and around the country. Those come at the same time we all face increasing costs for food, gasoline, utilities, health care. More and more people are finding it impossible to make the proverbial ends meet, and they are turning to food banks and other social service agencies to help them feed their families.

One thing the article doesn’t mention: summer will be here before we know it. That means parents who are already struggling will have to find a way to feed kids who qualify for free or reduced-cost breakfasts and lunches during the school year. It’s also the time of year when donations to local agencies and congregations are typically low. We tend to focus more on others in need around the holidays, but poverty doesn’t end on January 1.

So — next time you go to the grocery store, pick up a few extra non-perishable food items if you can. Save them till you have a nice-sized pile and then take them to your service agency of choice. Have your kids outgrown clothes that are still in good shape? Have you, perhaps, done the same…? Or maybe that New Year’s resolution paid off, and you have some things that are too big. Pack those up and take them with you.

My local favorites are Greater Birmingham Ministries and Urban Ministry, but there are many others that do great work with very limited resources. Feel free to list yours in the comments, with links/contact information if possible. They don’t have to be local; in fact, it would be great to have a comprehensive list. You never know who might see it and be inspired to give.

Oh, and remember that gifts of any size are much appreciated. Small or large, they add up when we all do what we can.

Here endeth the public service announcement.

Music for a Good Cause

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

(Proud mom says, “We raised her right!”)

On iTunes, there are two albums out that I know of that you can buy to support really great causes.

The first one came out this summer, and it is Instant Karma. It is a bunch of really good modern artists doing remakes of John Lennon songs. The proceeds of this album go to Amnesty International, which is an organization that helps a lot with the crisis in Darfur. I can personally say that this is a REALLY good album. There are three versions of it: $11.99 for 23 songs, $19.99 for 34 songs, and a new one which is the complete recordings. It is $34.99 for 66 songs & 4 music videos.

The other album is Serve2 with 25 songs for only $11.99. The proceeds of Serve2 go to the WHY (World Hunger Year) campaign which helps fight world hunger & poverty. These are mostly songs by their original artists. I actually only previously knew one song from this album, but I like what I’ve heard so far.

These are two really great causes, so check these albums out, and I hope everyone gets at least one of them!

How Can We Help in California?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Wolfrum at Shakesville has listed contact information for agencies that are providing assistance to victims of the California wildfires.  They can use our help.  Head over and check them out.

Yet More Good News

Friday, September 28th, 2007

I meant to include this in the previous post, hence the “Other Good News…” title. Oh well. Life distracts me sometimes.

Mychal Bell, the only one of the Jena 6 to remain in prison, was freed yesterday on reduced bond after the district attorney gave up his quest to try the teenager as an adult. Bell, who was 16 at the time of his arrest, was tried and convicted of aggravated battery as an adult and could have faced 15 years in prison, but the conviction was overturned by the Circuit Court of Appeals because of his age. He still faces retrial as a juvenile and could be held till he turns 21 if convicted.

This seems like a reasonable outcome to me. Yes, I know he had a juvenile record, which apparently influenced the DA’s decision to try him as an adult. How I know is problematic; aren’t juvenile records supposed to be sealed? The initial attempted murder charges smacked of gross overreaction, and the disparity between those charges and the ones faced by a white kid who jumped and beat up a black kid at an off-campus party sure smelled like racism. The DA’s insistence on trying Bell as an adult just ended up wasting resources.

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Thousands March in Jena LA Today

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Protesters from around the country gathered in the tiny town of Jena LA today, marching in support of six black teenagers who were initially charged with attempted murder after they beat up a white classmate — who was badly bruised but still able to attend a school function the same night. The beating was the culmination of a series of confrontations that began in August 2006, when black students at the local high school received permission from school administrators to sit under a tree where white kids usually gathered. Some of the white students retaliated by hanging nooses from the tree.

Just pause and take that in for a minute. In 2006, black students had to get permission to sit under a tree because it had been reserved for whites only. And because they did so, white students responded by hanging nooses, the symbol of lynching, in the tree.

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Happy Labor Day!

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

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Katrina Aftermath: Report from Bay St. Louis

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

[Proud mom's note:  I asked 14YOD to write this as we remember those whose lives were touched by Hurricane Katrina.]  Two years ago today [8/29], Hurricane Katrina hit the Southeast. One month ago this past Tuesday, I got back from a mission trip in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi where there is still damage.I was in Bay St. Louis with the junior high of my youth group, and this mission trip was different from any other we had ever been on.  The regular set-up for Group Work Camps Foundation is this.  All the youth groups stay in a high school, sleep on the floor of the classrooms, eat in the cafeteria, and have worship services in the gymnasium.  The first night that you are there, Sunday, you meet your crew of four or five youth and one or two adults, who you will be working with for the rest of the week.  There isn’t anyone from your youth group in there, so you don’t know anyone at the beginning of the week.  You are staying in an impoverished community, and you and your crew are assigned someone’s house to repair.  This is your resident.  Most of the time, you are painting, caulking window frames, boarding up parts of houses that are falling apart.  There are bigger things that you do too, like building wheel chair ramps, re-shingling rooftops. (more…)