The Curious Autodidact

May 5, 2017

Prison Visiting: Mother and Daughter

Filed under: prison reform,social justice — Honilima @ 11:40 pm

Image result for mother daughter prison visit

If you have ever been to a prison waiting room you will relate to the woman in this video, preparing hours ahead for her visit to prison. This powerful short video shows this brave woman’s quest to  keep her daughter connected to her father and to sacrifice so much to allow them time together. Her little checklist; making sure there is no metal on her undergarments, putting her daughter’s needs in a see-through bag, it all rings true.

Children are expected to behave like adults in a prison waiting room not like children. Visitors are not supposed to interact with other visitors and even smiling a child, which comes naturally to most, is frowned upon. Most prisons have limited coloring books and toys for children, some are purchased by the guards because there is no budget.

What is wrong with our country that we will allow any connections between parents and children in the visiting rooms to be so strained and so damaging to children? We need prison reforms in so many areas this is just one. Many families cannot afford to make the trip to visit loved ones in prison they are so far away, and others are not granted permission to visit.

90% of people who are imprisoned in America will get out and become your neighbors. We need to be sure they are treated as though they are someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, or someone’s dad or mom.

This is too important for the relationships of children who are damaged by parental absences.

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March 25, 2017

Axe Files: Rising Star Kamala Harris

Filed under: book related,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 1:32 pm

If you want to hear some intelligent discussion tune into Kamala Harris talking with David Axelrod on the Axe Files.  She is highly driven and intelligent and will give you hope in troubling political times.

The Axe Files is a podcast out of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and has had some fabulous guests. If you enjoy the Harris episode take time to listen to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on episode #126.  Girl Power!

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March 20, 2017

How Broken is our Mental Health System?

Filed under: book related,social justice — Honilima @ 8:48 pm

While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness

The brutality that took place on a summer night in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood is a horrific incident no one will soon forget. Stranger writer and Seattle native, Eli Sanders, won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the story and resulting trial and crafted his work into this amazing book While the City Slept.

Certainly, it is the story of a crime but more it is the story of the broken mental health system, in Seattle’s King County, and in the wider country. Sanders has incredible respect for the surviving partner which is handled with nothing short of grace. He also carefully dissects the steps the perpetrator went through, on his journey into brutal madness, and into the criminal justice system. If there is finger pointing it is a system that allowed this man to go improperly treated and monitored.

The book is so well-crafted and so compelling written you will want to read it in but a few sittings.

The bravery of the courtroom testimony, about the crime, and the compassion to see that this young man barely had a chance, from his humble beginnings ,will move readers way after the book is closed.

Read it and realize we have a mental health crisis in our country that spawns neglect, horrific crimes, drug abuse, and prisons bursting at the seams. Read the book and work for mental health parity and more resources to help those who suffer most among us.

“Inspiring . . . From a harrowing crime, it draws powerful lessons for our mental health and criminal justice systems that can’t be ignored.”

Sister Helen Prejean, bestselling author of Dead Man Walking

 

March 15, 2017

Homelessness in the Richest Country in the World

Filed under: helpful hints,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 8:43 pm

Image result for google image homeless camp seattle

 

Tom Ashbrook’s radio program, On Point, out of WBUR in Boston is national treasure.

We are all puzzled how to make a difference when it comes to the problem of homelessness, particularly in big cities. There is no one-size-fits-all and it is sometimes difficult to think of what one person can do to make a difference. I began volunteering at a homeless tent city weekly. I hard boil eggs and take down 4-6 dozen every week with other items I collect such as warm clothes, magazines, toiletries, paper goods, crayons for the children, and tampons. Boiled eggs are a good source of protein are easily kept and easily consumed. Most weeks I remember to bring salt and pepper too which is also much appreciated. Delivering them warm just out of the water is appreciated particularly in the colder seasons.

I don’t just drop these items off and drive away, most weeks I take an hour or so, to talk to people I have come to know there, and ask their names, and treat them with the dignity I would anyone in my home. I don’t make my usual hundred suggestions, I just listen actively, and give them an caring ear. I have heard some amazing tales and have also received amazing appreciation that I care and will take time to stop my busy life to regard their struggles.

I have concluded that when you are homeless you want to be treated with dignity but being on the street changes you immensely. It is almost as if you have been living on another planet and everything is topsy turvy in your life. It is terribly stressful just getting the activities of daily living taken care of to stay healthy and clean, never mind find a place to charge a cell phone, or find a safe place to sleep.

Here is a short video featuring a Real Change vendor in Seattle, Shelly Cohen, that is worth a viewing. Real Change started in Seattle over twenty years ago and has over 300 vendors. It has influenced the lives of many with the advocacy in the social justice arena. It has over a million dollar a year impact on the community of homeless and low-income.

Tom Ashbrook hosts an interesting discussion about Tackling Homelessness we could all benefit to listen to and think for a moment how you could lend an ear or a meal for someone who has no permanent housing. It’s not that hard and there are a million ways to make a difference in someone’s life with very little effort on your part.

February 20, 2017

Krista Tippett: A Gem

 

Krista Tippett is a National Treasure. She lived in Germany and was a foreign correspondent for the NYT. She went to divinity school and has become an expert in creating spaces for civil conversations in a time of too little of this.

She hosts a show called “On Being” that books fascinating guests. She was the recipient of the  National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2014, and has won a Peabody Award. I am surprised more people aren’t aware of her work and her great show.

She most recently is the author of Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living which she has issued a great discussion guide for each chapter to encourage people to share their thoughts about the book.  She explores the materials for a meaningful life:

Words — The language we use to tell stories to ourselves and others;
Body — “The body is where every virtue lives or dies”;
Love — More than something we fall into or out of, love is “the only aspiration big enough for the immensity of the human community.”;
Faith — “Literal reality is not all there is.”;
Hope — Hope has nothing to do with optimism or wishing, rather it reflects reality and reveres truth. Hope is a habit.

She has also written Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit and Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters—and How to Talk About It. 

Her interview style is intelligent and almost always enlightening. She features guests you are familiar with a some that you will not be. Also interesting is the fact that she releases the one-hour edited show and also the raw version.

Some of my favorites of her podcast include Rep. John Lewis, Pico Iyer, Parker Palmer with Courtney Martin, David Isay, Maria Popova, Ruby Sales, Mary Karr, Gordon Hempton, Isabel Wilkerson, Jimmy Wales, and Pauline Boss.

Here Krista is interviewed by the talented Debbie Millman.

 

August 17, 2016

In the Words of Jessica Mitford

Filed under: social justice,women heroes,Word Related — Honilima @ 9:00 pm

Image result for google images jessica mitford

You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.
Jessica Mitford, author, journalist, and civil rights activist (1917-1996)

July 14, 2016

Take a Position

Filed under: social justice,Word Related — Honilima @ 11:46 pm

Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’

Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’
Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’
But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’

And there comes a point when one must take a position that is
neither safe, nor politic, nor popular,
but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that
it is right.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

June 5, 2016

Updated: One Person Can Make a Difference: Denise “Cookie” Bouldin

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 10:19 am

Image result for detective cookie seattle

Some posts deserve to be refreshed and reposted. This is one of those that needs a new airing as people making a positive difference in the world around them should be recognized and their good deeds shouted from the mountain tops.

Detective Denise “Cookie” Bouldin of the Seattle Police Department is just such a woman. She is a role model as a police officer but also as the founder of the “Urban Youth Chess Club” based in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, encouraging kids to get off the streets, channel their energies, and learn to think critically through chess.

I have supported this club for many years and was thrilled to hear of this publicity they received on the local news station about the new art with Cookie in mind, brava!

There was an interview with Eric Lui on the Seattle Channel and a great article that appeared in 2011 urging support of her organization that appeared in The Stranger by Pulitzer Prize winner Eli Sanders.

You can listen to the segment from the local NPR station here.

Those wanting to support this terrific endeavor are encouraged to donate on line thought Seattle Neighborhood Group by clicking here.

Stop for a moment and ask yourself: What have you done this week to make a difference in your community?

June 1, 2016

Justice Ruth Rocks!

Filed under: helpful hints,social justice,women heroes,Word Related — Honilima @ 12:00 am

“Women’s rights are an essential part of the overall human rights agenda, trained on the equal dignity and ability to live in freedom all people should enjoy.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

May 27, 2016

Point of View: The Return

Filed under: cool internet stuff,media related,prison reform,social justice — Honilima @ 12:15 pm

It’s summer, the time of year to suspend the Netflix account and spend more time outdoors when there is ample daylight. But if you are having an inside night don’t let educational opportunities to learn pass you by when there’s so much quality free content on-line.

Point of View (POV) is a showcase for some stunning documentaries that are shown on your local PBS station. Many people don’t realize that you can watch these marvelous independent films online or stream them onto a larger screen with a  device such as a $30 Chromecast (you can find them on sale for $25). As of this writing there are over 100 selections to choose from and trailers for many of the offerings to access.

The other cool thing is that the website provides interviews with the film makers and other educational resources to learn more on the topic. A major bonus for those thirsty for knowledge.

I watched The Return and Neuland both of which follow the pattern of the POV series by taking you intimately into other worlds. Each give viewers a “you are there” perspective which I find to be helpful to learn new viewpoints.

I have been a prison advocate for decades. Most who are paying attention are unable to grasp how we wound up imprisoning so many people and treating them like animals, instead of encouraging them with education to make the best out of their potential, from a young age. We should educate not incarcerate.

Along comes The Return, a film by Kelly Duane De la Vega and Kelly Galloway, an eye-opening look at what it is to be released from prison after thinking you would be there the rest of your life. Not only that but how your family and community might accept you after thinking you were going to be behind bars for the duration.

California was the first to adopt the three strikes law and their over-crowded prisons and incredible cost caused them to consider releasing those who were given unreasonable sentences if they were convicted of nonviolent crimes. This wise documentary follows several men who are released to see what life is like after being behind bars for years. This is one of those films that you will watch and think about weeks or possibly years later. For me, there weren’t major revelations because I am so familiar with struggles of integrating back into society but it was sobering to see Ken, with so much family support in place, wander about like he was visiting from another planet. This film will inspire you to work for prison reform and possibly to hire one of these former prisoners or provide support for families of the incarcerated, especially the children who are so impacted by this separation.

For me, there weren’t major revelations because I am so familiar with struggles of integrating back into society but it was sobering to see Kent, with so much family support in place, wander about like he was visiting from another planet. This film will inspire you to work for prison reform and possibly to hire one of these former prisoners or provide support for families of the incarcerated, especially the children who are so impacted by this separation.

Neuland, takes viewers into a Swiss classroom to learn what these young new refugees must deal with as foreigners in a new land. The emotion in the room is highly charged. The teacher is passionate about helping young people. It is interesting to see his approach compared to those you might see in America. His students have fled all kinds of tragic situations at home and he is trying to get them integrated into his culture and help them to set their goals realistic whilst understanding the feelings of home-sickness and agita that are in the hearts of his students.

These are films that have staying power and remind you that your burden may be heavy some days but others have different struggles and it is best we understand we all have room to grow and understand one another’s days.

 

 

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