Friday, April 18, 2008


Billy Collin's poem "Some Days" has been set to animation by Julian Grey of Headgear and posted at YouTube. Watch it below.

Pretty good joke from this week's Prairie Home Companion:

Wife: Can we tap the neighbor's maple tree?
Husband: Well, I think we should ask first?
Wife: No, I mean syruptitiously.

John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory

The Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL) has an online source for you to join them in their quest to clean up America's grammar, spelling and punctuation errors in print. You can follow the 2008 Typo Hunt Across America, clicking on a city and then reading the blog about their efforts in that locale. For those of us still literate, it's a gratifying read.

I got notified yesterday that I successfully passed the online test to become a Jeopardy contestant this spring. I have been invited to attend the in-person contestant search in Dallas in May. Since I cannot travel, I can't pursue this further -- mostly, I just wanted to see if I could pass that online test, which was duly difficult. Nice to know.

(Willow Rosenthal at City Slicker Farms)

In an Earth Island Journal interview with Willow Rosenthal, the meaning and practice of working against environmental racism in this country are outlined. The introduction reads:

'The west side of Oakland, California is not known for its gardens and green spaces. Site of the sprawling Port of Oakland, the neighborhood is surrounded by the warehouses, rail yards, and truck depots that are vital to the workings of the global economy. The area is also home to some 30,000 people, 70 percent of whom live below the poverty line. It is because of these challenges – not in spite of them – that Willow Rosenthal adopted West Oakland as the home for her innovate non-profit organization City Slicker Farms. In just a few years, Rosenthal and a dedicated band of neighborhood residents and volunteers have transformed five formerly vacant lots into thriving gardens filled with annual vegetable crops, fruit trees, beehives, and chicken coops. In the process, Rosenthal has distinguished herself as pioneer in a growing urban farming movement.'

Later on in the interview, Willow states:

'In the African-American community, I hear people say: “My aunt just died of cancer. My uncle was diagnosed with cancer. My grandmother had cancer, and my mother has breast cancer.” And the next thing people say is, “I think it’s because of the chemicals.” There’s this perception, maybe, that the environmental movement is very white, and that people of color don’t understand what’s going on, and that’s absolutely not true. People of all different walks of life are very capable of understanding what’s being done to them, and what’s happening to them. And they see that our environment is completely inundated with toxins, and that in low-income communities there are more, because people aren’t as able to fight against industries that are polluting.'

She talks about the impact the U.S. Farm Bill has on food prices. Our government's subsidy of certain (lobbyist-driven) crops means the cost of what Michael Pollan would call "not real food" is very cheap, and their preponderance in the American diet is what actually accounts for our lousy nutrition and health issues related to what we eat. But those decisions are more driven by economics than by character or taste.

Ms. Rosenthal explains how their farm stand in West Oakland works:

'We have a farm stand, and it’s by donation only. We have customers from all different economic backgrounds, and we offer three different price categories. The first one is called “Free Spirit,” and if you look at that column on the price board, it’s all a row of zeros. Our next price category is “Penny Pincher,” and we have an explanation that says, “You’re waiting for your check to come in. You may have something, but not a lot.” And that’s essentially conventional food prices – 89 cents for a bunch of greens or something. The other column says, “Sugarmomma/daddy,” and that is for those who have enough to pay a little more and help subsidize someone else who can’t pay.

Q: Do you feel folks are fair and honest?

'Yes, I feel that they are, because they see what we are doing. The interesting thing is that people don’t like to take handouts. So for the most part, even people who are in the first category will give whatever change they’ve got. Or they’ll say, “I’ll catch you next time.” Which is kind of going back to the old days when people had kind of a line of credit at the local store with the grocer.

'We don’t recommend this strategy in areas where people are middle-income. We’re doing this because of the conditions we are in, because we want to make sure that the folks who really need this food are able to get it. This organic movement is wonderful, but it’s still leaving out people who are at the bottom economically. So I really want to see more – not just lip service paid to the idea of equity – but more actual commitments financially and in terms of resources.'

Giving poor people decent food in a dignified manner: This is revolutionary.

(The Farmstand at City Slicker Farms)

1 comment:

kat said...

yeah, but it's still a white lady going into west oakland and mouthing off about "the african american community"....there's something about her tone that bugs me.
the big developers are doing the exact same thing, albeit with much less benevolent goals....
West Oakland needs a lot of things, but I'm not sure that more sanctimonious white people is really one of them.

Cool that you passed the Jeopardy test. I was hoping that you would make it all the way, and somehow get to California so I could go to LA and cheer you on.....