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23 August 2012

Book Review: On My Honor by Shannon Henry Kleiber

 I was a Junior Girl Scout from 4th to 6th grade. It was a ton of fun, but there wasn't a troop available after we transitioned to middle school. It also did not seem like a very cool thing to keep doing. Yet the further and further I got from my Girl Scout days, the more I cherish them. OK, I don't cherish the day my mom made me wear my uniform with knee length argyle socks, but hey, the girl time was great. The camping, the crafting and yes, even the cookie sales were filled with wonderful memories.

That is why I started the ball rolling to start a Girl Scouts troop for my daughter and try to be the best volunteer I can be to support the leaders. It is also why I jumped at the chance to read Shannon Henry Kleiber's book on the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, On My Honor: Real Life Lessons From America’s First Girl Scout.

The Girl Scouts have been the site of controversy over the past year. Conservatives have questioned the radical direction of 100 year old organization. Yet, just a few pages into On My Honor, it is clear that the Girl Scouts have been fairly radical since its inception. While there has always been a focus on home economics, Juliette Gordon Low also experienced one of the most feared things for women -- being a divorced woman without financial support. Thus financial independence is at the root of the cookie sales. It was her way of having the girls learn how to manage money without fear. For many years the Girl Scouts could be said to be a place of stealth feminism. Luckily, today's leaders are bringing the feminism out in the open. And you know that I do with my daughter's troop.

I was lucky to ask Shannon a few questions about the book, Juliette and Girls Scouts:

1) I love that Juliette was so flawed. Have you found or do you think that discussing Juliette's flaws has/would lead to some questions pointed towards us? I can see my daughter responding to Juliette's flaws asking me what my biggest failure has been, what boy did I date that I wish I hadn't, etc.

Juliette Gordon Low was flawed, like any real person. She was a terrible speller, was almost completely deaf, and was incredibly stubborn—which could be both a flaw and asset. I think it’s important to young girls to know that none of us are perfect, and that failing is a part of life. We learn so much through failure, from how to approach things differently next time, to how we react to certain situations. I think it’s great for girls to ask their moms about these things, and the conversation will be meaningful.

2) On page 142, you talk about how handbooks promoted needlework as a way to calm the mind or refocus. Have you taken up any needle/yarn work since writing the book?

No, I haven’t taken up needlework. But, I find yoga to give a calming focus that I think might be similar.

3) What do you think Juliet would say about the fact women are still fighting for equal/fair pay?

I think she’d encourage girls to go after more rewarding and better paying jobs. She’d most likely focus on how the girls could change things for themselves.

4) Do you think that the fact Juliet wandered for so long gives today's girls a freedom to explore or increases anxiety about "creating a life plan."

One of the things that surprised and interested me most about Daisy was how she was able to reinvent herself and find a new passion in her early fifties when she founded the Girl Scouts. Her life is really an example of every American woman, who must make choices and change and reinvent along the way. A life plan can be a good guideline, but as Daisy found, and as most women do, unexpected things happen. People get sick, relationships change, jobs begin or end suddenly. Daisy is a great example of how it is never too late to find yourself, especially if you are open to a new challenge.

5) If Girl Scouts is a feminist training ground, what would you like to see as the result?

I’d like to see an increasing number of women excelling in careers in many fields—science, business, academics, the arts and more, who are paid well and who are respected for their work. At the same time, these will be women who have an unusual understanding of leadership, sisterhood and service to others. These women are our future generation.

As we prepare for Back to School, it is also time to prepare for a return to troop meetings. So get yourself a copy at Powells or Indiebooks.

Disclaimer:  I received this book via a publicist, which is also how to managed to obtain an interview with the author.

* Book links are affiliate links. If you buy your book here I could make a very small amount of money that goes towards this blog by helping me purchase books for school. Thanks! 

21 August 2012

Earthtalk Tuesday: Will Mt. St. Helens become a national park?

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What ever happened to the idea of turning Mt. St. Helens into a national park?
-- Esther Monaghan, Boston, MA

Mt. St. Helens, one of the less prominent yet massive peaks of Washington State’s Cascade Range, made history on May 18, 1980 by erupting with the force of 500 atomic bombs, devastating 230 square miles of formerly verdant forest and killing 57 people. After considerable debate about what to do with the decimated landscape in the aftermath, Congress sided with scientists advocating it be left alone for research and education. In 1982 Congress created the 172-square-mile Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to be managed by the U.S. Forest Service, which had already been overseeing the forests on the flanks of the mountain as part of the surrounding 1.3 million acre Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

But in 2007 federal budget cuts coupled with diminishing visitation led the Forest Service to close one of its two primary visitor centers at Mt. St. Helens and scale back on its interpretive and management services. At that point, representatives from surrounding communities and environmental groups and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell came together in an effort to convince Congress to switch Mt. St. Helens over to a national park, which would ensure a larger funding pool for visitor services and amenities and ideally spur more visitation, which would in turn mean more business for struggling local communities.

Instead of pushing for national park status, however, Cantwell and her Congressional colleagues asked the Forest Service to detail how they plan to protect Mt. St. Helens while expanding visitor services and recreational opportunities. The Forest Service subsequently put into place a new plan which, with help from the recently formed Mt. St. Helens Institute, would expand services and explore new options for overnight visitation. Tourism has since grown, but many still want to see Mt. St. Helens a national park.

Indeed, recent research by Michigan State University shows that national parks are huge economic engines, pumping nearly $13 billion in economic activity into gateway communities while supporting 250,000 jobs. “For every dollar spent on national parks, four dollars are returned to the economies of gateway communities,” says Sean Smith, policy director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “More than seven million people visited Washington’s national parks last year alone and national parks nationwide received near record-breaking visitors, despite one of the toughest economies in decades.”

But perhaps more important, says Smith, is that Mt. St. Helens “is likely the most iconic American landscape currently not in the national park system [with] natural, cultural and historic wonders on par with other parks such as Olympic, Zion, and Crater Lake.” He adds that national park status would better protect Mt. St. Helens’ natural treasures from potential housing developments and even a proposed open pit gold mine that would be visible from the main visitor center and would decimate one of the most remote and pristine parts of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest adjacent to Mt. St. Helens’ lower flanks.

While the debate continues, Mt. St. Helens remains an amazing example of Mother Nature’s fury and her restorative powers. Whether it’s a national monument or a national park, it’s well worth a visit.

CONTACTS: Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, www.fs.usda.gov/mountsthelens; National Parks Conservation Association, www.npca.org; Mt. St. Helens Institute, www.mshinstitute.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

De los Redactores de E/La Revista Ecológica

Querido DiálogoEcológico: ¿Que sucedió con la idea de convertir el Monte. St. Helens en un parque nacional? -- Esther Monaghan, Boston, MA

El Monte St. Helens, uno de los picos más masivos pero aun menos prominentes de la Cordillera de las Cascadas en el Estado de Washington, hizo historia el 18 de mayo de 1980 al eruptar con la fuerza de 500 bombas atómicas, devastando 230 millas cuadradas de bosque anteriormente verde y matando 57 personas. Después de considerable debate acerca de qué hacer con el paisaje diezmado, el Congreso adoptó el punto de vista de los científicos que recomiendan lo dejen tranquilo con fines de investigación y educación. En 1982 el Congreso creó el Monumento Volcánico Nacional del Monte St. Helens de 284 km cuadrados, a ser administrado por el Servicio Forestal de EEUU, que ya había estado supervisando los bosques en los flancos de la montaña como la parte del Bosque Nacional Gifford Pinchot de 526.000 hectáreas.

Pero en 2007 reducciones presupuestarias federales asociadas con menos visitas hizo que el Servicio Forestal cerrara uno de sus dos centros primarios para turistas en el Monte St. Helens y redujiera también sus servicios de interpretación y administración. En ese momento, los representantes de comunidades circundantes y grupos ambientales y la Senadora Maria Cantwell se unieron en un esfuerzo para convencer al Congreso para cambiar la clasificación de Monte St. Helens a parque nacional, lo que aseguraría una fórmula más grande de financiación para servicios de visitantes y amenidades e incitaría idealmente más turismo, lo que a su vez significaría más comercio para comunidades en apuros financieros.

Sin embargo, en vez de presionar por el estatus de parque nacional, Cantwell y sus colegas del Congreso pidieron al Servicio Forestal que detallase cómo planeaba proteger al Monte. St. Helens, al expandir al mismo tiempo su nivel de visitantes y oportunidades recreativas. El Servicio Forestal implementó subsiguientemente un nuevo plan que, con ayuda del recientemente formado Instituto del Monte St. Helens, expandiría servicios y exploraría nuevas opciones para visitas de noche. El turismo ha crecido desde entonces, pero muchos todavía quieren ver al Monte St. Helens como parque nacional.

En efecto, una investigación reciente por la Universidad Estatal de Michigan demuestra que los parques nacionales son motores económicos inmensos, inyectando casi $13 mil millones en la actividad económica de comunidades de entrada, y sosteniendo 250.000 empleos. "Por cada dólar gastado en los parques nacionales, se retornan cuatro dólares a las economías de las comunidades de ingreso," dice Sean Smith, director de políticas para la Asociación Nacional de Conservación de Parques. "Más de siete millones de personas visitaron los parques nacionales de Washington solamente el año pasado y los parques nacionales por todo el país recibieron una cifra récord de visitantes, a pesar de una de las economías más malas en décadas".

Pero quizás más importante, dice Smith, es que el Monte St. Helens "es probablemente el paisaje más icónico norteamericano actualmente fuera del sistema nacional de parque [con] maravillas naturales, culturales e históricas comparables a otros parques como el Olympic, Zion, y Crater Lake". Agrega que el estatus de parque nacional podría proteger los tesoros naturales del Monte St. Helens de urbanizaciones potenciales e incluso de una mina de oro abierta propuesta que sería visible del centro principal de visitantes y diezmaría una de las partes más remotas y prístinas del Bosque Nacional Gifford Pinchot adyacente a los flancos más bajos del Monte St. Helens.

Mientras continúa el debate, el Monte St. Helens sigue siendo un ejemplo asombroso de la furia de la Naturaleza y sus poderes reconstituyentes. Ya sea como monumento nacional o como parque nacional, bien vale una visita.

CONTACTOS: Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, www.fs.usda.gov/mountsthelens; National Parks Conservation Association, www.npca.org; Mt. St. Helens Institute, www.mshinstitute.org.

EarthTalk® (DiálogoEcológico) es escrito y editado por Roddy Scheer y Doug Moss y es una marca registrada de E - La Revista Ecológica. (www.emagazine.com). Traducción española de Patrice Greanville. Sírvase enviar sus preguntas a: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Suscripción: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Pida un número gratis: www.emagazine.com/trial.

16 August 2012

What aren't I allergic to? CHOCOLATE! (Possible TMI)

Today I finally went in for allergy testing.

I've suffered from seasonal allergies since I was in the first grade. As I have gotten older, my allergies have only gotten worse. Somewhere in my twenties, my allergies turned into a touch of asthma. Really cold weather is my big trigger, although heavy exercise does as well.

But this spring I had a few weeks where my allergies were seriously killing me. I felt like they were aggravating, if not triggering migraines. Because I kept showing up at my doctor's office begging to be squeezed in, I saw a few different doctors. One, the man, diagnosed me with a deviated septum. This is something I have suspected for many years. When my allergies get really bad, I can feel it in the same spot on the left side of my nose. So he sent me to see an ear & nose specialist.

That specialist said my deviation wasn't impacting my allergies very much. It wasn't helping, but fixing it wasn't going to do a lot for me. Instead she strongly suggested allergy testing. And yes, this was so we could see if allergy shots would be a benefit for me.

So here are my results:

Allergy Testing
Right Wrist: Positive for Cottonwood & White birch

Allergy Testing
Left forearm: Positive for White Ash (Top-left: do you see how awesomely bad I reacted? The nurse practically gasped), White Oak (Bottom-left) , Ragweed (Top-right) and Pigweed (Bottom-right)

Allergy Testing
Right forearm: You can see the slight reaction to dog & cat. The cat is worse than the dog reaction.

I was tested for about 36 items and came up positive for 12 items. TWELVE!

*drum roll*
  • Aspergilius (mild)
  • Cat
  • Dog
  • Cottonwood
  • White Birch
  • White Ash
  • White Oak
  • English Plantain
  • Lamb's Quarter
  • Ragweed
  • Pigweed
  • Western Waterhemp

I wasn't tested for any food allergies, but there are a lot of foods that could be causing my allergies due to cross-reactivity like apples, cherries, potatoes, peanuts and a whole lot more that I pray I don't have to cut out of my diet. Cause seriously, bananas and chamomile?

Today isn't the end of my journey, but it was something I thought would be fun to share. Cause as awful as my photos look, it was pretty damn cool to watch the process. If you are thinking of allergy testing, it doesn't really hurt. It felt like getting pricked by thumb tacks. And believe me...I have fainted from getting a flu shot. I would not lie to you!

Book Review: Your Voice, Your Vote by Martha Burk

The biggest complaint I hear from my friends around election time is that they just don't understand all the issues and what candidates are arguing about. Who is right on Social Security? What really will jump start our economy again? Is there really a War on Women?

Luckily for us Martha Burk, co-founder of the Center for Advancement of Public Policy, has written Your Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman's guide to Power, Politics and the Change We Need.

As we enter the final days of Election 2012 and with the conventions [DNC/RNC] just days away, this is a must have for every voter, not just women voters.

Burk spends the first six chapters painting the political landscape and why it is important to have women in leadership positions. Chapter three dissects the gender gap -- the phenomena
where women tend to vote Democrat over Republican.

But the heart of this book is Burk's explanation of the issues. Taxes, health care, reproductive rights, war, the military, pay equity, Social Security, and many more. All issues that few of us are comfortable explaining to a friend. As much of a policy wonk that I am, there are issues where I learned a lot from Burk's explanations.

Burk spends most of the book drilling home the message that women must go out and vote. And to vote for our rights:
If your incumbent "brings home the bacon" in road and bridge projects but votes against your basic rights on abortion, you can't look the other way. If a candidate promises to solve the mortgage crisis but stands against woman's access to paid family leave, child care, or fair pay, don't ignore it. (p13)
While Burk claims that the book is nonpartisan, it is clearly feminist. It does not hold back from criticizing the Democrats for their stances, but those of us who follow political news know that the Grand Old Party wins hands down on legislating against women's rights.

If you are someone who is undecided and still trying to figure out who to vote for at the national, local or state level, you need to get a copy for yourself. Please head over to Powells or Indiebooks. Read the book and then share with the women in your life. Or buy a few copies and start an election discussion group.

Disclaimer:  I requested this book from Martha Burk for review.

* Book links are affiliate links. If you buy your book here I could make a very small amount of money that goes towards this blog by helping me purchase books for school. Thanks!  

15 August 2012

EVENT: Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk!

You’re Invited!

Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk!

This Annual Event Supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention!

Walk to Save Lives! Walk to Support the Cause!

Walk to Raise Awareness! Walk to Honor a Loved One!

Saturday, September 29th
Check In at 8 am | Event Begins at 9 am
At Independence Grove in Libertyville

Register Today at

Help Spread The Word!

Post Walk info to social networking sites and around town.

· Walk Tear Off Flier: http://www.afsp.org/files/Field_Staff/Chi_Tear_Off.pdf

· Flier: http://www.afsp.org/files/Field_Staff/Chi_Flyer.pdf

· Leaflet: http://www.afsp.org/files/Field_Staff/Chi_Leaflet.pdf

14 August 2012

Earthtalk Tuesday: Why are some countries still whaling?

De los Redactores de E/La Revista Ecológica

Querido DiálogoEcológico: La pesca comercial de ballenas fue prohibida alrededor del mundo hace años, pero algunas naciones continúan cazando ballenas. ¿Por qué sucede esto y qué se hace al respecto?                                                                                                          -- Jackie O’Neill, Hershey, PA

Lamentablemente para nuestro mundo y su biodiversidad, las ballenas todavía son matadas a pesar de una prohibición internacional de la pesca comercial de ballenas. En verdad, la pesca de ballenas desenfrenada a través de los últimos dos siglos ha diezmado casi todas las poblaciones de ballena alrededor del globo. Según Greenpeace, muchas especies de ballena están ahora a alrededor de un uno por ciento de su abundancia anterior antes de los días de la pesca de comercial.

Catorce naciones que pescaban ballenas se reunieron en 1946 para formar la Comisión Ballenera Internacional (IWC) para administrar la población de ballenas y recomendar límites a su caza cuando fuese apropiado. Pero el descenso continuo de la población forzó a la IWC a instaurar una prohibición total de toda la pesca comercial de ballenas en 1986. Pero Japón, Noruega e Islandia continúan desafiando la prohibición, cada uno de ellos capturando anualmente centenares si no más de ballenas.

"Los japoneses inventaron el concepto de la pesca "científica" de ballenas en 1987 como una manera de evadir la moratoria de la pesca comercial de ballenas," informa Greenpeace. "Tal investigación no es realmente investigación. Es una excusa para conseguir carne de ballena para el mercado japonés". La investigación consiste, entre otras cosas, de análisis del contenido del tracto digestivo. Los datos de lo que los animales comen entonces se utilizan para afirmar que las ballenas comen demasiados peces comercialmente importantes y que las poblaciones deben ser reducidas para salvar los pescados, indica Greenpeace, y que los japoneses selectivamente publican datos sobre ciertas especies e ignoran datos con respecto a otras.

Noruega reasumió la pesca de ballenas en 1993 "como una tentativa del partido en el poder en aquel momento para ganar popularidad en el norte de Noruega," dice Greenpeace. "Para justificar su caza, los científicos noruegos hicieron un cálculo de la población cetácea, que se vio después ser sumamente exagerado".

E Islandia aumentó su pesca de ballenas dramáticamente en los últimos años. "En 2010 solamente los balleneros islandeses mataron cientos de ballenas—inclusive rorcuales (ballenas aladas) en peligro—y enviaron más de 750 toneladas de carne de ballena y productos a Japón, cuyo mercado ya está colmado de carne de ballena proveniente de su propio programa de "pesca científica de ballenas," reporta el Consejo de Defensa de Recursos Naturales (NRDC), un grupo no comercial.

Varios grupos verdes inclusive NRDC peticionaron recientemente la administración de Obama para tomar medidas contra Islandia bajo la Enmienda Pelly de la Ley de Protección a la Pesca.  "La Enmienda permite al Presidente imponer sanciones comerciales contra un país que 'disminuye la eficacia' de un acuerdo de conservación—en el caso de Islandia la moratoria de la pesca de ballenas y otro tratado internacional que prohíbe el comercio en especies en peligro de extinción," dice NRDC. La petición denomina varias empresas de Islandia—inclusive compañías prominentes de mariscos con vínculos a la industria ballenera de Islandia—como objetivos potenciales de sanciones comerciales.

Greenpeace ha estado presionando al Japón no sólo para terminar su propia pesca de ballenas pero también su apoyo a la pesca de ballenas por otras naciones que no respetan la moratoria del IWC. "Trabajamos alrededor del mundo para aumentar la presión sobre Japón por gobiernos participantes en el IWC que toman seriamente la conservación para cerrar las lagunas legales políticas que permiten que siga la caza despiadada," dice Greenpeace, "y para subrayar la compra de votos que mantiene estas lagunas legislativas en existencia".

CONTACTOS: IWC, www.iwcoffice.org; Greenpeace, www.greenpeace.org; NRDC, www.nrdc.org.

EarthTalk® (DiálogoEcológico) es escrito y editado por Roddy Scheer y Doug Moss y es una marca registrada de E - La Revista Ecológica. (www.emagazine.com). Traducción española de Patrice Greanville. Sírvase enviar sus preguntas a: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Suscripción: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Pida un número gratis: www.emagazine.com/trial.

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Commercial whaling was banned around the world years ago, but some nations continue to hunt whales. Why is this and what’s being done about it?            -- Jackie O’Neill, Hershey, PA
Sadly for our world and its biodiversity, whales are still being killed despite an international ban on commercial whaling. Indeed, rampant whaling over the last two centuries has decimated just about every whale population around the globe. According to Greenpeace, many whale species are down to around one percent of their estimated former abundance before the days of commercial whaling.

Fourteen whaling nations came together in 1946 to form the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to manage whale stocks and recommend hunting limits where appropriate. But the continuing decline of populations forced the IWC to call for an outright ban on all commercial whaling in 1986. But Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to defy the ban, each harvesting hundreds if not more whales every year.

“The Japanese invented the concept of ‘scientific’ whaling in 1987 as a way around the moratorium on commercial whaling,” reports Greenpeace. “Their research is not really research. It is an excuse for supplying whale meat on the Japanese market.” The research consists, among other things, of analysis of the contents of the digestive tract. The data on what the animals eat is then used to argue that whales eat too much commercially important fish and that the populations should be culled to save the fish, argues Greenpeace, and that the Japanese selectively release data on certain species and ignore data on others.

Norway resumed whaling in 1993 “as an attempt by the political party in power at the time to gain popularity in northern Norway,” says Greenpeace. “In order to justify its hunt, Norwegian scientists calculated a population estimate, which was later found to be much higher than the data supported.”

And Iceland increased its whaling dramatically in recent years. “In 2010 alone, Icelandic whalers killed hundreds of whales—including endangered fin whales—and shipped more than 750 tons of whale meat and products to Japan, whose market is already glutted with whale meat from its own ‘scientific research whaling’ program,” reports the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Several green groups including NRDC recently petitioned the Obama administration to take action against Iceland under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Protective Act. “The Amendment allows the President to impose trade sanctions against a country that is ‘diminishing the effectiveness’ of a conservation agreement—in Iceland’s case the whaling moratorium and another international treaty that prohibits trade in endangered species,” says NRDC. The petition names several Iceland firms—including major seafood companies with ties to Iceland’s whaling industry—as potential targets for trade sanctions.

Greenpeace has been pressuring Japan to not only end its own whaling but also its support of whaling by other nations not abiding by the IWC moratorium. “We are working around the world to increase the pressure put on Japan by conservation-minded governments at the IWC to close the political loopholes that allow the reckless hunt to continue,” says Greenpeace, “and to highlight the vote-buying that keep these loopholes in existence.”

CONTACTS: IWC, www.iwcoffice.org; Greenpeace, www.greenpeace.org; NRDC, www.nrdc.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

09 August 2012

Summer of Feminista: Action from Dissatisfaction

This week Summer of Feminista welcomes Dior Vargas. 
You can find her at her blog: diorvargas.tumblr.com 

I am also including this as part of Viva la Feminista's contribution to the Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice 2012.

Last election I was so hopeful about the idea of having Obama in office as did a lot of people. It warranted a completely different feeling than the one I have now. This time I’m disillusioned and not excited about what’s coming. The system is flawed and I don’t know if one candidate over the other will ensure the freedom and equality that we all deserve. If the Occupy Movement is any indication, people are not content with the way our country is being run. I’ve had to reexamine the country that I grew to love because democracy, the governmental structure that was supposed to work, has been corrupted.

Sure the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare, as it is now being referred to, is great. There are so many benefits for women. However, not all of it is true. Every woman cannot gain access to ALL birth control like it’s been advertised. If you have insurance, you have to wait for it to renew and then you can get generic birth control for free. Of course, if the one you’re taking has a generic. If not, then you’re forced to go to the doctor and find one that is equivalent to the one you’re using currently. That can be extremely difficult for some women. In addition, if you don’t have any insurance then you don’t benefit at all. What about all the people who don’t have health insurance? Most of them are women of color. This war on women has to stop. There have been numerous attempts to disenfranchise women. We are called sluts for taking charge of our own bodies and wanting the right to do with them whatever we want. We shouldn’t have to pass certain examinations or tests to get an abortion. Why? In order for them to deem our situation sufferable enough or deemed acceptable in their eyes? We can’t even use the word “VAGINA” or “MENSTRUATION” in certain venues. What happened to our freedom of speech? The government spends so much money on wars when we could be spending it on improved infrastructure, more educational opportunities, decrease the violence against women, and so many more worthy causes.

I want the candidates to sincerely care about the people who are going to elect the next president. I don’t want them to feign interest in the Latino population for their voting power. I want them to raise money for causes that help others. Not tear each other down to win a race that I think is not worth winning if they are not genuinely interested in the improvement of our country.

In the end, one thing that I am grateful for is the grassroots organizing that has come out of all the dissatisfaction. We aren’t going to let this continue without some type of action. I don’t have faith in the system but I have faith in the people who care about this country and who want equal rights for everyone. I have faith in myself.

Summer of Feminista 2012 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts about Election 2012. Viewpoints can be liberal, moderate or conservative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

07 August 2012

Summer of Feminista: President Obama's Immigration Policy Threatens Campaigns in Battleground States

This week Summer of Feminista welcomes

Jacquie Marroquin, a feminist advocate who's worked in the violence against women movement for over 10 years.

You can find her at her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

At the end of May I began to receive phone calls from a Washington D.C. area code and some private numbers. At first it was just in the evenings, then I began to receive calls throughout the day. I don’t normally answer calls from numbers I do not recognize and they did not leave a voice message. Curiosity finally got the best of me in early July, so I answered a couple of those calls and learned it was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and President Obama’s reelection campaign that had been calling me.

The call from President Obama’s campaign went something like this: An overly enthusiastic voice asked, “May I speak to Jacquie?” Jacquie, I am calling you because we are in urgent need of your support.” I patiently listened to the caller as she explained how crucial the November election was and how valuable my financial support would be to take the House of Representatives back from the Republican majority, keep the Senate majority and to ensure President Obama is reelected. I listened to her entire, well rehearsed, and urgently delivered script.

When she finally paused to ask how much I would contribute to President Obama’s reelection campaign, I politely explained that in spite of the President having my absolute support, I would not contribute financially to his campaign. Not because I was financially unable to (in fact I recently got a nice raise), but because I refused to financially support an Administration that has utilized the failed ‘Secure Communities’ (S-Comm) program that has normalized an indiscriminant mechanism for putting a record number of immigrants on the path to deportation with virtually no oversight from Congress and an ever increasing and unquestioned budget.

Since the federal immigration program S-Comm secretly began in 2008, the Obama administration has deported more undocumented people than President George W. Bush did in his eight years in office. Originally designed to detain and deport immigrants who commit serious violent crimes, it has ballooned to one of the most costly, inefficient and dangerous immigration enforcement programs we have seen.

With over 1 million people deported, at a taxpayer cost of $23,000 per person and thousands of immigrants detained in for-profit detention centers across the country at a taxpayer cost of $5.5 million per day, this program is easily and unquestioningly funded by Congress with little to no oversight in spite of report after report of its massive failure. It’s a failure because, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s own numbers, 70% of people deported do not fall under the original intent of the program. Instead, they are the immigrants who are arrested for minor crimes: misdemeanors, traffic violations and minor citations. It is important to note that the people arrested were not always convicted in a court of law as the U.S. Constitution guarantees. These are our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, students and victims and witnesses of crime. They are hardworking people who are the fabric of our communities—people, who, for all intents and purposes, are as American as any one born on U.S. soil.

For the last couple of years I have been receiving heartbreaking e-mails, text messages, tweets, and Facebook appeals asking for $5, for $10, or any possible amount to help bail out Undocumented and Unafraid DREAMers arrested for publicly denouncing S-Comm. Arrested for publicly saying what I believe so deeply at my core, “Stop separating families! Stop the destroying our communities! End S-Comm and 287(g) programs NOW!” To date I have contributed over $150 dollars to the organizations working to defend arrested DREAMers. Unfortunately there is no doubt I will continue to contribute more money as long as President Obama’s Administration continues to implement S-Comm across the entire country next year. And as long as that is the case – those are my hard earned dollars the President’s reelection campaign will not receive from me, no matter how many “urgent” phone calls and e-mails I receive.

As an immigrant there is no question where my financial contributions will go. Before I support a political reelection campaign, I will support my family. I will support my brothers and sisters on the No Papers No Fear tour whose goal is to travel through states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia to bravely “come out” as undocumented while on their way to the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina on September 3rd.

I will offer financial support to bail out the undocumented protesters arrested during Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Federal trail in Arizona that alleges he and his department have institutionalized racially profiling Latinos in their jurisdiction.

I will share the stories of undocumented youth who infiltrated detention centers after being arrested and are gathering and distributing the stories of countless other detainees who are supposed to be a low priority for detention and deportation.

There is no end in sight to these nightmares because of the insidious link between for-profit detention centers and federal immigration enforcement programs that funnel millions of taxpayer dollars into businesses that profit on the backs of detainees housed in their detention centers.

I have my own urgent message for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and President Obama: Until my family stops being the target of your failed immigration enforcement programs, I will not send you a dime. This is a message that the President and his advisors should take seriously because although you might take my vote for granted in California, you need my financial contribution for campaigns in battleground states like Florida, Nevada and Ohio where every dollar matters. While I firmly believe a Mitt Romney presidency would be a disaster to this country—the larger disasters are communities terrorized by immigration enforcement programs that deport innocent people. Therefore, defending my family will always be my first priority.

Summer of Feminista 2012 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts about Election 2012. Viewpoints can be liberal, moderate or conservative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

06 August 2012

CFP: Intensive Mothering: The Cultural Contradictions Of Modern Motherhood

Demeter Press
is seeking submissions for an edited collection
Intensive Mothering: The Cultural Contradictions Of Modern Motherhood
Editor: Dr. Linda Ennis

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Sharon Hays' landmark book, "The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood", this collection will revisit Hays' concept of "intensive mothering" as a continuing, yet controversial representation of modern motherhood. In Hays' original work, she spoke of "intensive mothering" as primarily being conducted by mothers, centered on children's needs with methods informed by experts, which are labour-intensive and costly simply because children are entitled to this maternal investment. While respecting the important need for connection between mother and baby that is prevalent in the teachings of Attachment Theory, this collection raises into question whether an over-investment of mothers in their children's lives is as effective a mode of parenting, as being conveyed by representations of modern motherhood. In a world where independence is encouraged, why are we still engaging in "intensive motherhood"?

Topics can also include (but are not limited to):
Reconciling early childhood theory with intensive mothering; the impact of Sharon Hays work; comparing intensive motherhood today with that of the 90s; motives behind intensive mothering; independence and dependency; working/stay-at-home mothers and intensive motherhood; empty nest and intensive mothering; the mommy track and intensive mothering; intensive mothering throughout the life-span; fathers and intensive mothering; economics of intensive motherhood; self-centeredness, perfectionism and intensive motherhood; ambivalence, guilt and intensive mothering; career success and intensive mothering; education and intensive mothering; the role of the school in condoning intensive motherhood; the decline of the family unit and intensive mothering; the use of technology to maintain intensive mothering; single mothers and intensive mothering; immigrant mothers and intensive mothering; grandmothers and intensive mothering; intensive mothering from a distance; intensive mothering and medical well-being; depression and intensive mothering; stories about intensive mothering experiences; intensive motherhood, as portrayed in literature.
Submission Guidelines

Abstracts: 250 words. Please include a 50-word biography
Deadline for abstracts is March 1, 2013
Please send submissions and inquiries directly to: Dr. Linda Ennis lrennis@rogers.com

Completed manuscripts not exceeding 20 pages will be due September 2014,
and should conform to MLA guidelines.

Acceptance is contingent and will depend upon the strength and fit of the final piece.
Demeter Press
140 Holland St. West, PO 13022
Bradford, ON L3Z 2Y5 Tel: (905) 775-9089

Disclosure: I am getting a complementary membership to MIRCI and subscription to the journal in return for posting these updates. It is, however, something I would have agreed to do for free because I think their work is so wonderful.

03 August 2012

Summer of Feminista: Strength in numbers vs. diversity: can we have both?

This week Summer of Feminista welcomes KJ Sanchez.
She is participating in the Yo Solo Festival
KJ is the founder/ CEO of American Records. 
She has produced national and international tours.

I’m in Chicago, preparing to open my play, Highway 47, as part of Teatro Vista and Collaboraction’s Yo Solo Festival, a festival Pan-Latina/o solo performances. As I’ve been watching my colleagues rehearse, the upcoming election has been much on my mind and one question has been nagging at me all week: How do we take advantage of increasing political leverage as the “Latino Vote” yet continue to make progress helping our fellow Americans – and our elected representatives – understand the diverse mosaic that is the Latina/o community?

Let’s look at the Yo Solo Festival as a microcosm of this issue: The festival has six performers, six VERY diverse shows. We are culturally diverse – we come from a wide range of cultures – Cuban, Mexican, Colombian, Dominican, just to name a few. Myself, I come from a crazy mash-up of Sephardic Jews and Pueblo Indians who settled in New Mexico in the early 1700’s and never left. As I explain in my show, “We never came to America, America came to us.” We (the Yo Solo Artists) are philosophically diverse as well - what we have in common is that each show is incredibly personal and comes from a vital issue in our own lives, but what that issue is and how we tackle it in our shows is very different. And last, all six shows are aesthetically diverse – from spoken-word dance, to direct address narrative, to hilarious and heartbreaking character study, to a landscape of poetry and imagery – it is remarkable how very unique each artist is.

And so it is with every Latino/Hispano/Chicano/Spanish speaker/non-Spanish-speaker/immigrant/non-immigrant/upper class/middle class/lower class/working class/intellectual/and any other “ism” individual in the US that would be lumped together as the “Latino Vote.” I have no answers here, but just one question to start the discussion:

How do we help our politicians understand that seeing us as a block, all with the same values and needs, is the worst kind of pandering and will, inevitably, be counter productive and how do we do this without loosing the most powerful tool we have: our strength in numbers?

Summer of Feminista 2012 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts about Election 2012. Viewpoints can be liberal, moderate or conservative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

01 August 2012

Summer of Feminista: The Latina Vote – Neither Beast nor Savior

This week Summer of Feminista welcomes 
Maegan "la Mamita Mala" Oritz, 
of Mamita Mala: One Bad Mami Blog 
and owner of VivirLatino.

It's that time a year again. Time to revive stale metaphors of poking napping mythical creatures from their dens. Time to dust off the old book of stereotypes and pandering, the one that makes it logical to parade around a Cuban in order to win the votes of Mexicans all while playing reggaeton in the background. Time for non-profits to have their own race about who will register more people, hold more twitter chats, and out message with celebrity cameos. I'll see you an America Ferrara and raise you a Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony.

It's presidential election time, 2012 edition.

During the last presidential election it was easy to caught up in the excitement. There was a man of color running who actually stood a chance. People were desperate and ate up slogans and promises of hope and change and believed that yes we can except now 4 years later, regardless of who we voted for, we are ALL left asking, did we?

At a forum claiming to represent what women wanted out of the 2008 race, I told people not to vote, especially if that was all they were going to do. Don't vote if they didn't consider how they had that right to vote and especially not to vote if they didn't consider the people in this land of the free, home of the brave who had to live under its laws but couldn't vote themselves. I was thinking of the incarcerated. I was thinking of the people of Puerto Rico. I was thinking of the undocumented. I haven't been asked to make any speeches this presidential election cycle and in a way I'm glad because I may end up stopping my speech after saying don't vote.

I am completely uninspired by this election. Electoral politics have never been my favorite thing because as I have written numerous times on my blog, electoral politics is not going to save our lives. It sure as hell hasn't hasn't stemmed the rising deportation, unemployment, poverty, or school crowding numbers in our communities. Violence, at the hands of the state like in Anaheim, or at the hands of individuals like in Aurora, hasn't been lessened. I don't feel safer, secure or any other s word that is attached to policy I am supposed to rally around. I, like many other Latinos are just tired.

Here's the thing, while Sofia Vergara is on the cover of Forbes playing up her Latin Stereotype Woman to prove to other people that they should be fighting for the Latino dollar, no one is really fighting for the Latino vote in a meaningful way. Instead what we have are references to us as sleeping giants and statistical possibilities as if apathy in and of itself is not a political choice. And really how many choices do we really have. We are asked to choose from the lesser of two evils or else. Is that really the best this political system can offer us? While more of us struggle to put food on the table and figure out how to keep ourselves healthy – because many of us still aren't sure if and how health care reform will help us and many of us will not be able to access it because of immigration status or work status- we are expected to rally behind an option that will hurt us less? No wonder people aren't lining up if this is the extent of political imagination.

Let me be clear. I will vote in this presidential election. I was mentored by a Young Lord who exemplified using every tool at our disposal to get what we need for our communities. In his memory I vote. But I am not a beast that needs to poked with a stick, provoked into action. I am not a playground amusement to be swung around once every four years only to be left rusting in the in-between times. I will not engage in zero sum games because I know better and I trust that my vecinos know as well when they choose to vote or they stay home in November.

Summer of Feminista 2012 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts about Election 2012. Viewpoints can be liberal, moderate or conservative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.


This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

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