Archive | March, 2011

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 31

31 Mar

Honoring Michelle Obama

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to First Lady Michelle Robinson Obama. Obama is the first African-American First Lady. Obama’s family has been in the US since before the civil war. Her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was a slave in South Carolina–all the more embarrassing for the racist behavior of much of the Tea Party.

As in keeping with the role of a First Lady (to adopt a cause), Obama has become an outspoken advocate for the poor and the prevention of childhood obesity. Unfortunately, Obama has been attacked for her advocacy work by Faux News and even with racist cartoons. Yes, just imagine the socialist plot to make Americans healthier and thus less dependent upon the health care system–sounds like complete heresy!  Obama’s Let’s Move movement works to set back the 21st century trend of childhood obesity.  Practicing what she preaches, the Obama family planted a vegetable garden, the first one to be planted since Eleanor Roosevelt.

Upon first becoming First Lady of the United States, Obama immediately became and advocate for the poor, visiting homeless shelters addressing the issue of poverty head on. I, for one, am excited to see what more First Lady Michelle Obama will accomplish. Click here to learn more about Michelle Robinson Obama.

Cracks in the Teapot

30 Mar

One of the many Cracks

Yes, for those of us that are pro-women, pro-equality and anti-hate, have been long aware of the many many cracks within the Tea Party– can we say Paul LePage, Michele Bachmann, Christine O’Donnell, Sarah Palin, and the many other nut jobs. Thankfully, a new study reveals that 51% of self-identified conservatives do not strongly identify with the Tea Party.  As we learn more and more about the Koch Brothers funding many of the Tea Party candidates and the paranoia of the Tea Party itself, let us all hope this will be the last Teapot Dome Scandal and that we will start learning from history, despite the anti-intellectual stand of Bachmann et al. Any bets that Palin, and the majority of the Tea Party have no clue what the Teapot Dome Scandal was?  Do we need a literacy test for elected officials? Click here to read the full article.

Building Momentum for Marriage Equality: A Civil Rights Issue

30 Mar

Love is Love

On the heels of TSM article from March 18, my friend James Russell, from Truthout, gives us more good news. Perhaps we will see full marriage equality within my lifetime. Click here to see James’ article from Truthout. What is especially encouraging are the new ads on television from Basic Rights Oregon.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 30

30 Mar

Honoring Eleanor of Aquitaine

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor was at one point the most powerful and wealthiest woman in the world. Eleanor lived for 82 years, most of the entire 12th century. Eleanor was a determined woman and an awe-inspiring politician. Upon returning from the Second Crusade with her first husband, Louis VII, she demanded a divorce. Louis was amenable to the divorce, for there was no heir, only two daughters. Quite funny now that we know that was Louis’ fault, not Eleanor’s.  Interestingly enough, Louis got custody of their two daughters and Eleanor retained custody of her lands. Later, Eleanor, at age 30, would marry the 20-year-old Henry II.  Within two years, Henry II would become King of England. For those that enjoy the chronicles of Arthur, Eleanor was the patroness of such literary scholars as Wace and Chretien de Troyes.  Eleanor would pass on her love of the arts to her son Richard, who would later become Richard the Lionhearted.

Eleanor and Henry had eight children, two of whom would rule as King of England. Young Henry, heir apparent, died in June of 1183. Richard would succeed his father as King. Eleanor becomes Richard’s regent and goes on the Third Crusade. How sad that the very land rich Eleanor and thus the Plantagenet House, would lose much of its territory to the incompetent King John. John was Eleanor’s youngest son, also known as John Lackland, although he did give us the Magna Carta.

My fascination with Eleanor of Aquitaine started in the 7th grade when I saw the movie, The Lion in Winter. It is difficult not to conjure up the fiercely independent Katherine Hepburn’s face as Eleanor. Click here to learn more about the independent and strong Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Wednesday Word of the Week: March 30

30 Mar

Repair The World

This week’s word is: CHARITY.

public provision for the relief of the needy – Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

In the wake of a tragedy like the Japanese tsunami, the interests of the American people turn to charity. Seeing horrors on that scale summons up a strong desire to help, to provide some form of relief. It happened during the Haitian earthquake, the Indonesian tsunami, and hurricane Katrina as well, at least to some extent. It can be wonderful to see this instinct to provide aid manifest itself.

If you’re like me, you may want to help but be unsure of the best way to make your contribution. With each disaster, a new flurry of websites, tweets, Facebook pages, and text-your-dollars options materialize. How can you know how that money will be spent? The best option for those inclined to give is to participate in a community of giving. Find a place that meets your goals and values and channel your contributions through that resource.

There are many ways to donate and contribute. A wise donor will plan in advance rather than waiting for a crisis. Knowing your options before-hand will prepare you to contribute in the most beneficial way when the time comes. When looking for an organization to serve as your charitable partner, there are a number of things to consider.

  1. Why do you give? If you have specific causes that you support, you should direct your giving accordingly. If you have a more general sense of charity and want a trusted partner to push your money in the right direction, totally different organizations will be appropriate. For most people, a mix of the two might make the most sense.
  2. What is your capacity for giving? Budgeting may not be fun, but it is very important. Have a sense of how much money you can give over the course of a year and develop a donation strategy that fits. This will help keep you from overextending yourself, force you to focus on the giving that is most important to you, and allow you to politely turn down solicitation calls. If an organization that appeals to you is not in your plan, you can always adjust or collect their information for another giving year.
  3. Who can support your intent to give? There are thousands of charitable organizations of all sizes, missions, and services. Finding the best match for your goals can be daunting. Do some research to find the best partner for your giving. Charity Navigator is a great resource for getting information. Your workplace may also have giving and matching programs; talk to your human resources officer. Your local library should be able to assist you as well.
  4. How much of your donation goes to your intended causes? No organization can give 100% of donations to the causes it supports. Running a strong charity requires staff, facilities, and fundraising; all of this costs money. From my quick research, any organization that returns 85% – 90% to the cause you support is doing well. You should also be aware of the status of your charitable partner. If it is not a certified not-for-profit organization, the 10% that doesn’t go to the cause may just be lining someone’s pocket.
  5. How do the values of your charitable partner align with yours? This is very important and not always apparent. Many charities are associated with religious organizations or other groups which may not share your values regardless of how well their official cause matches your donor intent. A great example is the Salvation Army. Although the work they do is valuable, they are virulently anti-equality toward the LGBT community. The United Way, for example, is much more open and supportive. That makes a difference to me in who will get my donations.

The best advice from most experts – both financial planners and charitable organizations – is to donate a comfortable amount regularly rather than make sporadic, responsive donations. This gives your charitable partner cash-on-hand to respond immediately to a disaster rather than waiting for money to flow in. Most reputable charities will have a way to donate additional money to a specific cause as needed. (The Red Cross is a great example.) Increasing your contribution to a trusted partner is a better option than impulsively clicking on any donation link that you might see. Sadly, many miscreants exist who would love to reroute your donations to their own pockets.

COMPASSION

sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress with a desire to alleviate it – Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary

Compassion is a wonderful human trait. When we respond emotionally to a crisis, however, it is worth stepping back and being sure that our giving has value.

  • There is always need. Find ways to give regularly to important causes.
  • When a disaster strikes, give in a smart, informed way.

Remember, too, that you can give in ways that don’t cost money. Give of your time and energy as well. Tikkun olam: Repair the world. Each of us should do what we can to make this a better world for everyone.

Boston Teens Demand Sex Education

29 Mar

Promote SAFE SEX

Thanks to my friend Jenn Locket for pointing me to this story. Near the Boston area, students are uniting and demanding sex education–the power of young voices!! Bravo! This area of Boston experiences an unusually high teen pregnancy rate, and has a Chlamydia rate three times higher than neighboring areas. These students are wanting condom availability and wanting to learn about SAFE SEX–isn’t this the type of responsible behavior we should applaud? The students have enlisted the help of Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley.  Side note here: Planned Parenthood provides all of these services!  The students here are quite candid and are not satisfied learning about sex by watching porn.  I applaud these teens and Ayanna Pressley. Click here to see the video.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 29

29 Mar

Honoring Madeleine Albright

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Madeleine Albright. Albright was the first woman to become Secretary of State in the U.S. under the Clinton Administration. Rather sad that it was not until 1997 that we finally had our first woman Secretary of State. Let’s hope we see the first woman President in my lifetime.

I know the right wing hate anything that smacks of intelligence, given the anti-intellectual platforms from the Tea Party and our former President, so I imagine Albright, who is fluent in five different languages, has many detractors on the far right. Albright is an alumna of  Wellesley College, where she was on a full scholarship.

Albright has a great understanding of how we are all connected and how we must see our selves as global citizens. Albright is even critical of the UN and of herself regarding the genocide in Rwanda:

My deepest regret from my years in public service is the failure of the United States and the international community to act sooner to halt these crimes.

Even now, Albright is a diplomat for social justice. She currently serves as an Honorary Chair for the World Justice Project. The  World Justice Project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.

My hope is that as a nation we will see the value in having intellectually superior leaders in the US representing us on the world stage and not someone that shows great disdain for the power of intellect.

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