Saturday, March 16, 2013

Texas is at a crossroads

A new initiative is launched to turn Texas from red to blue. The following was found on the Battleground Texas website:

"The Lone Star State is changing – and with its size and diversity, our state should be a place where all elections – from local elections all the way up to the President of United States are hotly contested.
To do that, we need Texans in every corner of the state – from Amarillo to Brownsville and El Paso to Beaumont – to stand up and say that they’re tired of not being heard, tired of not being represented in Austin and in Washington, DC, and tired of the same Republican playbook which is failing our communities and ignoring the needs of countless Texans.
Change will take time – but together we can make Texas a part of the national discussion.
Grassroots voices are changing this country on a scale that was unheard of just a few years ago.
Over the next several years, Battleground Texas will focus on expanding the electorate by registering more voters – and, as importantly, mobilizing those Texans who are already registered but who have not been engaged in the democratic process. And we’ll use the data-driven, people-focused approach that has helped win grassroots campaigns around the country.
From top to bottom of the ballot – we can change the face of Texas politics together.
Battleground Texas is a local effort with national implications.
Texans are carrying this movement and its success could change the face of presidential politics in this country as we know it. With 38 electoral votes at stake, a blue Texas would be a surefire road to the White House.
Change does not come easy, but taking the harder road for a better future is what our state is all about.
Texans are ready.
Our organizing strategies will work in Texas.
Battleground Texas will be a people based, metrics driven organization that is dedicated to the idea that volunteers, in their neighborhoods, can and do significantly impact local, state and national elections.
As a people based organization, we are focused on leadership development, training and empowerment. We work with volunteer leaders to ensure they have all the skills they need to successfully recruit new volunteers and register, persuade and turnout voters.
As a metrics driven organization, we understand the importance of accountability. We regularly measure our progress and hold ourselves to the goals we set. We also use data extensively to ensure our programs are having an impact."

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Wonderful Work by "Dos Pueblos" in Nicaragua

A Great Sense of Community in Tipitapa and Environs
Dos Pueblos-Tipitapa/NY
Feb 17, 2013
paul b. martin, ph.d.

¡Bienvenido a Tipitapa a la delegación de jóvenes de Dos Pueblos!

A January 2013 delegation trip to the Tipitapa area of Nicaragua was well-organized with excellent representation from the communities in and around Tipitapa and New York, and with a good mix of structure and free-rein.  We were well-informed orally and through a handy folder* about the people, projects, communities, and areas we were visiting.  Events always began on time and had solid meaty participation from Nicaraguan and North American representatives.  Our leader, Executive Director Lupe Ramsey was always calm and in control and Program Development Manager Helen Shannon was a great go-to person for everyone.  And I was struck by the sincerity, integrity and realness in all the participants and participant communities.

Highlights for me were:
  • A very productive community meeting with heart-felt, truly informative presentations by ca. 11 new water committees on a lovely Sunday in Chiamaltillo.
  • The warmth of so many of the people of Nicaragua with whom we worked!
  • Seeing first hand the productive potable water wells whose development, protection, and maintenance was facilitated by Dos Pueblos.
  • Interacting with youth who dug up doodle bugs/antlions for me, and taught me their local Spanish name, chanchito.
  • Experiencing beautiful Nature out in the countryside.
  • Witnessing the expression of support for Dos Pueblos by Tipitapa Mayor César Vásquez, Hospital Administration, MINSA representatives and numerous other dignitaries.
  • Building the adaptive-designed structures together as a community; facilitating the insect ecology activity.
  • Director Lupe’s ribbing me about talking too much.
  • La comida muy deliciosa prepared by Luis Alberto Areas at Entre Rios.
  • Sharing good food with new friends and having great discussions before and after meals!
  • Talking about cattle and animal husbandry with Dolkar.
  • Learning about local fruit plants from Andres and Elmer.
  • Listening to the life stories of David, Steve, Dr. Amy, Sarah, Helen and Director Lupe.
  • The wonderful staff of Hoteles Entre Rios y Con Corazon.
  • Visiting with artists.
  • Luis’ maintenance man’s professional preparation of handles for my insect sweep nets.
  • Having Adriana, one of the Arco Iris team members complement me on the insect ecology presentation, and bid me despedida.
  • Hearing Rosa Lilliam requesting that “el Tejano” return someday.

Dos Pueblos and collaborating entities are functioning well at the community level with excellent community organizers … (1) to provide stop-gap and long-term solutions to:
  • quality water needs,
  • basic health care (including maintenance of a health center and development of a birthing center) and low-cost physical therapy aids (from scrap cardboard),
  • solid supplemental/continuing education for youth (including the maintenance of a library) and adults,
  • community gardens and good nutrition, and
  • low-cost transportation/bicycle needs (in collaboration with Wisconsin Partners),

as well as (2) to facilitate the microfinancing of clothes-sewing enterprises and other women’s businesses.  Our delegation’s week-long involvement in the efforts of Dos Pueblos indicates that this wonderful Nicaraguan-New York collaboration should continue in its notable work in facilitating the process of accessing potable water for the “colonias” around Tipitapa and continue working with these local communities, leaders, and local government toward enhancing the physical, economic, spiritual, and ecological wellness of their citizens.

I like what Dos Pueblos is accomplishing, the way it is doing it, … and I love the people who involved in its efforts.  Therefore, my family and I will continue to support Dos Pueblos and be involved in its activities in Nicaragua, … and in New York and in other parts of the world in any way we are able.

What is wonderful about life are people    people like lovely community organizer Rosa Lilliam Gomez, Marina Garcia Hortado, Estella, Elena, Karen, Jonathan, Elmer, Andres, Dolkar, Marcia, Lidia, Esmeralda, Alvaro, Herman, Maritza, Noemi, Dennis, and artist Miguel Angel Abarca … and other Nicaraguans who empowered us, educated us, and gave us energy and love during our visits to communities around Tipitapa, Nicaragua.  And people from New York like Director Lupe, Polyglot Helen, Principal Steve, Special-Educator Sarah, Historian (Inquisitive) David, and Community-Health-Physician Amy from New York, all who were also enabling, informative, invigorating, and warm-hearted.  What we saw was real people with an attitude of “Sí, se puede” and “Yo, sí puedo”, who may be facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, but who are happily living life to the fullest extent possible in the moment, but also working hard, and attempting to do so smartly, in order to make life better and of higher quality in the near and more distant future.  Moreover, what was particularly rewarding for all, is that they make life richer for us all—in the moment and into the future.

What can be a drag about life are also people.    Some individuals and sectors in our world systems have an inordinate amount of power which they are unwilling to redistribute to those who barely have enough to survive.  Many are not willing to redistribute, regenerate and conserve toward quality life for all.  As Chicano humorist, Jose Burciaga states, somewhat tongue in cheek, in a little essay I read while on this trip, “The great majority of people regardless of class, color, or creed, are pendejos … .”  This makes it very difficult to realize anything near universal quality life (including for other species), even when there is an attitude of “Sí, se puede”.

A significantly more perfect world obviously does need revolution and holistic, systemic structural change--with a very positive and powerful legacy--toward:
  • more justice, equity, and humaneness,
  • ecological literacy,
  • world-wide individual, community, and ecosystem wellness,
  • sufficient land and basic resources for all (including other species), and
  • more of us who are intimately involved in positively ethical applied agroecology, with an emphasis on ecology.
I do wish for a prosperous move up for those who suffer with an ecological footprint of less than 1 acre and with energy consumption of less than 20,000 kilocalories per day, and a “Prosperous Way Down” for those of us who have an ecological footprint of over 10 acres  and energy consumption of more than 100,000 kilocalories/day.

In this world of conventional capitalism, most money and power end up in the hands of relatively few who have been fortunate to tap into the power of a corporate world, including fossil-energy transnationals, industrial agriculture, big real estate developers, and large banks.  Some how we must work to:
  • hurriedly provide for basic needs of quality water and food, fiber and shelter to the truly poor and disenfranchised, and
  • to get some of the economic power transferred from the few who have so much, to the many with so little.
To this end, in addition to the current efforts, at some time in the more immediate future Dos Pueblos might consider helping the communities of Tipitapa to develop cultural-, agri-, and ecotourism.  This could perhaps result in significantly more financial/economic power in the pockets of the members of these communities.

Of course community change toward a substantial increase in quality life and the degree to which a community is sustainable, is generally a challenging undertaking—
  • Status quo desires/attitudes/mindsets are difficult to budge.
  • A functional, comprehensive, multifaceted and progressive education system which facilitates realization of ecological literacy, critical and creative thinking, and sustainable livelihoods is needed for long-lasting and significant change.
  • Barriers to financial and spiritual empowerment must be removed.
  • Organization structures, holistic knowledge of local/other resources which are available, goal-setting, strategic planning, policy development, taking action, measuring, evaluating and analyzing result and replanning are necessary.

*I particularly appreciated the article in our Dos Pueblos trip folder which stated  “… I would make the case that every physician in America should be salaried, because we have to get financial incentives out the system. …”