Praxis makes perfect! Or at least better, which is about the best perfect!
September 16, 2014
After reading "Soul of a Citizen", I have a few thoughts about "learned helplessness". If you look at my movement slideshow, you will see that as I went objectively through my day, I noticed that there were problems that I had been ignoring, simply because I was busy, used to them, or it seemed like too much trouble to fix them. I was waiting for an emergency to get my attention. I think a lot of us are busy and feel that we only have enough time for the necessary, but this is not true. I found it was easy and rewarding to solve my problems. All it required was that I actually DO SOMETHING! Sometimes in my life I have solved problems against great odds and in the face of danger. There is something heroic and motivating about a situation like that. But great changes don't have to be heroic. Sometimes they are just unusual. Unusual solutions can be the most beautiful.
We found this tree near the ruins of Bury St. Edmund. The church is very old and rather than tear it down, the locals decided to build the road around it. The roof caved in and filled the church with light. This allowed a sapling to grow in the rotted floor. The tree grew to it's ultimate height with the church as its planter.
Plants do not experience learned helplessness! I have a pear tree in my yard that was planted next to a broken sprinkler. We did not know there was a problem until the grass turned brown and the pear tree's leaves started to fall off. We watered and watered to see if we couldn't save it. All of the leaves fell off. All of them. We gave it up as lost and purchased a new pear tree. When I went to pull the old one out and plant the new one, I was surprised to see what looked like leaf buds. Was the tree regenerating? I waited and the tree put out 3 leaves the next day, then 6 the day after that. I joyfully took the new tree back to the nursery and we are watching to see how it will do. I love all my trees, but this one especially. We are alike. We've both experienced drought and decay and we have both rebounded as soon as it was possible because we both want to live, thrive, produce, and create beauty!
PEOPLE ARE LIKE PLANTS. IF YOU GIVE THEM THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT, THEY CAN GROW, HEAL, AND OVERCOME.
We talked this week about Professor Goldsmith's Artspace project- how they started with nothing and created wealth, affordable housing, opportunities, and beauty. It made me think about two good things in my own life- my family and my garden. My flower garden because as dirt and weeds. I cut out beds and cleared the soil. I was lucky enough to get to take starts from my friends perrenials and ground covers. The great thing about these was that they spread. I planted them and when they got bigger, I split them again until finally, they filled in the space. This took years- it wasn't until our renters moved out and we moved back in that a lot of things had actually fully matured.
I had a vision in my head. I knew what I was going for and I knew how I wanted it to end up. My husband couldn't see it, though. He thought it looked like a baren mess and wondered why I was wasting so much time on the garden. This was really frustrating, not being able to share my vision with my partner. He knew I liked doing it and he put up with it, but I didn't really have his support until finally, one day, he said he thought it looked nice and started making suggestions. Then he didn't mind so much my spending money to make it really nice.
Once I had proven myself in the flower garden, we started the kitchen garden. I started this time with a little more. We spent a lot less than most people will on raised vegetable beds, but plenty for us. We repurposed some old stage floor-boards as planters and mixed up large batches of planting soil (that was the expensive part) and ended up with a large planting space. You should have seen us! I was out there, 8 months pregnant, elbows deep in mud, and having the time of my life! Then we added raspberries, blueberries, strawberries,blackberries, grapes and nectarine, peach, pear, cherry, apple, apricot and asian pear trees. So, I started with nothing but determination, motivation, and a willingness to work hard. Once I had accomplished something noteworthy, it was a lot more smooth sailing from there.
As for my family, I did have a little more there. I had learned to cook, clean, can, sew, etc. That stuff decreased my overall learning curve, but it did nothing to prepare me for life with a spouse and children! There, I started with nothing. It took time and a lot of work and it is an ongoing process, but I can help 5 people with their projects and homework and get dinner ready. I can turn a couple of potatoes and a can of tuna fish into a meal that will feed 6. I can get a four year old to wear a clean shirt instead of his dirty spider-man t-shirt and I can even get a sixteen year old to clean his room. They say that, when it comes to work, having one boy is like having a boy, having two boys is like having half a boy and having three boys is like having no boy at all. This is true! But I'm a crafty old mommy now. I can get three boys to work together on a large project with a minimum of time wasted and/or yelling. I agree with Professor Goldsmith that, even if you start with nothing, you can accomplish your goals if you have enough true motivation.
September 23, 2014
After reading "Soul of a Citizen", I keep thinking of the ways that people in the many communities I have lived in have solved their local problems together. I will add some of those stories to my stories page, in my personal story map section.
I have also been thinking about repurposing as a citizen. One of the ways that I live as a citizen of this world is to recycle/reduce/reuse. One of the ways that I do this is to share with my neighbors and to purchase items that are new to our household from second-hand stores whenever it makes sense to do so. I add that caveat because there are times when only new will do!
I have repurposed items and purchased second-hand almost all of my life, but not quite all. When I was a kid, I was the 7th of 12 children. My parent's neighbors would bring around their hand-me-downs and I don't know what my mother would have done without them! But while the adults may have had great intentions, their kids didn't necessarily share them. It was embarassing to be called out for wearing C"Amber's" pants or "Cindi's" blouse. I remember once being surrounded by all of my grade on the playground as they chanted about how poor I was and that my clothes came from DI (a local thrift store). This was a terrifying experience at the time and you may well understand why, as soon as I turned sixteen, I got a job and why, as soon as I had a job, I bought myself new clothes. It was new, fun, and exciting! Not only did I buy new clothes, I dyed my hair, and I got acrylic nails. It was great! I looked like the other girls. I expected this to be fullfilling, or accomplish something- but it was kind of anticlimactic. The clothes were nice and they felt special but after I washed them for the first time, they lost that "new" look. I had worked hard to earn the money for them and they had cost me so much of my work that I was stressed about getting them dirty or wearing them out. My hair looked funny if I didn't dye it regularly and the dye had ruined the texture of my hair and made it less healthy. My acrylic nails actually disabled me! I couldn't play the piano, guitar, or organ and simple things like answering the phone and typing became difficult. As for picking up a sheet of paper that had fallen on the floor? Impossible!
I had become a slave to these things. I had to ask myself if I really wanted to work hard to pay foe nails and hair just so that I could then work hard to maintain them. The answer was easy- NO!! I cut off my dyed hair and had my nails removed (btw, my nails looked hideous until they had fully grown out).
I continued to buy all new clothes until something happened. I was at the mall, just minding my business, when my consciousness yelled "Hello!". I suddenly saw how much MATERIAL was for sale in this little shop- fabric, leather, glass, metal, stone, wood. ALL NEW. I can't explain fully what it felt like, but I have included a picture that I found on retrostar.com.au to give you a general idea what I was looking at.
There was so much tucked away in that little shop. And it was an eclectic shop, too, not mainstream. I realized that I was in one little shop in a very big mall and that that mall was only one of about eight in the area where I lived- totally insignificant in the scale of the state I lived in, my country, and the world. It was one of those mind-blowing moments when you see the size of the machine you operate in. When I thought about the gears and wheels of production, and all the resources needed to keep them moving, I was impressed. But the amount of waste I knew must be produced scared me- all the trucks carrying away all the packaging, packing materials, disposable eating products and food, cleaning tools, cleaning containers, and cleaning waste away from those malls. The hypothetical and conservative guess in my mind scared me.
I went back to the charity shops. I dont know if I expected comfort, or even expected anything. I just wanted to take my little portion from reclaimed materials if I could. I was astonished again by how much material was for sale there. At least it wasn't being thrown away. It scared me to think how much was.
Now, don't get me wrong. There are things that really work about our system. I want people to have jobs, to create, and to have choices. I think commerce is great, but there is something wrong with a system that produces that much waste! There is something wrong with a system funded, in part, by the idea that you can buy status, happiness, and the image of wealth. I know a lot of people believe this but I do not! The idea I was taught and that I teach my kids is that their ethnicity, gender, age, wealth, clothing, and "toys" do not define them but their choices and actions do. If my choices define me, I choose not to give all my financial support to a system that scares the hell out of me. I choose not to support a system that says you can buy happiness, self respect, or status. If my choices define me, I choose to share kid's clothes with family and friends. I choose to buy milk from my neighbor. I choose to buy locally made cosmetics and skin care. I choose to use less so that I can afford to buy locally. I choose to make for myself what I can and learn how to be self reliant in case of a disaster. I choose to purchase many things second hand. And I choose not to identify people by what they own. I choose not to buy brand-labeled clothing because I refuse to pay a premium to do a company's advertising for them!!! I like the old adage, "You can never get enough of what you don't need because what you don't need will never satisfy you". So I try not to waste time or money buying my way into some kind of social club organized around the things I own and wear. If I don't feel like I belong to my community, a new product isn't going to fix that. When I started looking like the other girls my age- girls that had ostracized and bullied me- it didn't make me fit in. No, they just said things like, "Look who thinks she's hot stuff" and "You'll never be anything but a Martmanure" (my maiden name was Martineau and we had cows, hence the nickname). I didn't start fitting in until I found kids with similar interest that I could interact with. And here's the key I learned- interaction is the key to social interaction. I know that sounds ridiculously obvious, but it takes a long time to learn that when you have been elbowed out of the interaction from a young age.
There will always be bullies. There will always be people who want to be considered better than their neighbors- that is why wastefully expensive clothes and toys exist and why fanatical groups can be found within every religion- but we can opt out of that race if we want to. We can use our wealth to benefit people by providing fair and generous employment and we can choose to live a simpler lifestyle- one that keeps us interacting with and understanding the other members of our communities.
... a gardener...
My many identities...
Identities that have fallen to my lot...
7th of 12 children
Full of Creative Energy
Daughter of an idealist and fanatic
Sister of a crazy and vindictive person
Identities that I have chosen...
Seeker of Truth wherever it can be found
Onion and Garlic lover
Someone who learns something new everyday
Strong work ethic
Decorator of my home
Chimney repair woman
Practiced weight loser
Mother of five boys
Gluten Free Baker
Inventor of Gluten Free Recipes
Practiced weight loser
Self-Sacrificer when necessary
Exposed to religions, lifestyles, and ideologies
Concealed weapon carrier
Runaway at 14
Homeless- kicked out by parents at 17
Essential oil user
Middle Eastern Studies Arabic Major
Identities that I have had and hated (even if I love some of them now)...
Bull in a China Shop
Square Peg in a round hole
New kid in town
Too smart for a girl
Sister of a crazy bitch
Daughter of a zealot
Ultra white in an ultra white community
Overly Active sense of Responsibility
Distracted by grief
Asked for advice by warring parties
Identities that I aspire to...
Good Mother in law
Successful curriculum developer
Doctrine based religion practitioner (vs. social norms based)
Husband's best friend
Successful executor to in laws
Active when elderly
Sharp when elderly
Kind when elderly especially if I have dementia and require care
World Languages Masters of Art recipient
Fluent in Arabic, Spanish, French and Hindi
Map of my community
The first thing that I notice when I look at this drawing of my community is all of the refineries, industrial areas, railroads, and the steel plant. I did a pretty rough sketch so you don't see that there are actually four separate refineries and a large portion of the industrial area is both to the left and the right of the picture. My first thought is that my city must be very industry friendly in its laws and taxes.
The next thing that I notice is that there are a lot of areas devoted to schools and churches. There are a lot of little churches that I did not draw because of the scale of the picture. I saw at least one church for every denomination that I am aware of except for a mosque or a krishna temple. We have a very religiously diverse community. The predominant church is the LDS church but considering the local history, that is not surprising.
I notice the parks. There is a parkway nature trail, and a railroad that has been converted to a bike trail. There are lots of city parks. One thing that bothers me is that my city is not dog friendly. There are a lot of city parks, but there are no dogs allowed at all, not even on-leash. There is a nature trail but dogs must be on leash. Even in the mountains, the dogs are required to be on leash. From my home, the nature trail is almost two miles away. The mountain trails are at least five miles. In order to take my dogs on a walk off road, I have to have a car. I have been hit by a car as a pedestrian while in the sidewalk area and I do not like to walk my dog through the neighborhoods. I would like to see that change.
My city is very exercise friendly. There are all kinds of houseing- single homes, row houses, condos, apartments. The tallest housing building is 5 stories high. The tallest business building is 8 stories, I think.
In addition to the elementary schools, the junior high and the high school, there are a lot of daycares. The business districts are lumped together and the neighborhoods are lumped together. This makes it a little safer for kids to play around their homes, which is nice, but that is only a problem because the business areas have such large streets because there are so many cars.
September 23, 2014
This link will take you to a video named "The Battle at Krugger"
This film was really interesting. I expected to see the baby water buffallo eaten alive. It was injured and perhaps even partially eaten, but its herd saved it from the lion. A few thoughts- if the herd hadn't stepped in, no one would have. The herd took what seemed like a long time before they stepped in and I wonder if they weren't communicating their intentions and voting, or something like that. This made me think of Alice Elliot's "Larry the Garbage Collector". I tried to find a link to that video, but could not. In a nutshell, Larry was a mentally retarded adult who's parents had passed away and whose uncle, his last remaining support system relative, was experiencing failing health. His community stepped in and set up a trust for him to see that he would be provided for. They met in council, expressed their intentions and voted and then they went and saved Larry from the lions. Their empathy and protectiveness save their baby. They never would have acted without it.
In class, some concern was felt for the lions who asses got kicked because now the lions were out of their meat and SOL. It is great when everyone can benefit from a scheme or plan, but it isn't always that way. In Larry's case, however, the lions in his life would not actually benefit from his suffering. The lions in his life were his landlord- who would get a renter either way, his loneliness- and everyone benefitted when Larry wasn't lonely be cause of the crazy things he did when he was lonely, economy- when you consider how much Larry contributed financially to his community through activism, things definitely evened out in the end, and his self-doubt- which no one benefitted from at all!
Real lions will either eat or starve, just like us. I have empathy them. But the lions in our lives usually do not actually need to eat us. I feel no empathy or the lions in my life that are just broken elements of the system I live in. I do not feel empathy for the lions in my head that lead me to doubt myself or sabotage myself. I feel enough empathy for the lions that want to take advantage of me to rehabilitate them, but not enough to let them get away with it.
My empathy for real lions is limited. It does not extend to a willingness to be their dinner, or to provide them with dinner on a day to day basis.
September 27, 2014
Is There an Ecological Consciousness?
Response to The New York Time's January 31, 2010 article, "Is There an Ecological Unconscious?" by DANIEL B. SMITH.
I have also experienced solastalgia. I know it is real. I grew up on a little farm in a small town. I married a soldier and we have moved 14 times in 17 years. It was wearing. People have often asked me how I did it, sure that they couldn't have.
When I did my movement slideshow (another page on this site), I realized that I have been subconsciously settling myself down with deep roots since we stopped moving.
I now own a home in the same small town I grew up in.
I own 2 dogs, 1 cat, and 10 chickens (my husband objects to pets in cages, so we've got all the ones we're allowed that don't go in cages)
In the last year, we have planted 9 fruit trees, 6 berry patches and a large vegetable garden complete with composting scheme
At first, I thought I was just trying to recreate the exterior home of my youth because that is where I was happiest. This made sense. But I WAS TOTALLY WRONG!!
I found this image on showerofcurtainrings.blogspot.com. This reminds me of my mother:
Do they look totally different to you? Notice the similar, but muted, color scheme- gold, cream, and pink. Look at the old fashioned details. Look at the swags.
This may sound coincidental to you, but I can assure you that it is not. When I realized what was going on, I felt immediately how comforted I am by the connection I have created to my childhood home. I thought, "Mirror mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all". Then I wondered how all of this works out for my husband. I'll have to ask him.
My mother's style has evolved over time, but when I was a kid growing up in her home, her style was old fashioned by about 10-20 years. So, whereas she had mod podged puzzles on her walls and plastic philodendrons in a basket on her dresser in the 90's, I had antique pickle jars and wall shelves. Whereas my mother had full length lace curtains, I trimmed my curtains with old fashioned lace and ribbon. Whereas my mother wore a lot of dusty pink fabric, liptstick, blush and even eye shadow, I have a pink couch, a pink wing back chair, and pink flowers. The antique furniture is something that we have in common. I learned to love antique furniture at home where my mother took excellent care of her great-grandmother's piano, dressers, secretary and vanity.
I really thought that I was selectively recreating my outdoor home because the memories of inside were not always so great, but I have realized that the similarities are comprehensive.
As for solastalgia, I have kept it at bay in each new home by taking elements of my previous homes with me and by recreating my first home. Unpleasant memories seem to carry no weight here. I still needed the comfort of my native environment, as a human being. I keep and love many family books and heirlooms. When I was estranged from my family and living overseas, I still held onto them and I have them still. I don't just have them- I know the stories and relate my ancestor's experiences to my own present circumstances.
When I think of the people in this article losing their native environment against their will and after everything they could do to prevent it, it makes me feel terrible for them. It would be so much worse to not have a voice in the process. If I were to lose everything that makes me feel like I belong, it would be terrible. If I were to have it willfully taken from me, it would be devastating.
Then there are my curtains:
Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees...
September 29, 2014
When I was asked to be a flaneur, I had a stodgy reaction.
This is me:
(found on lost100punds.wordpress.com)
Okay, maybe not quite. But I'm kind of a hermit. That is what most excites and worries me about this class. Take blogging, for example. It's way out of my comfort zone. It seems a little narcissistic to me, actually. Not for other people to do it. Just for me. Who cares what I think? I know I do, but I can think to myself. But I have to admit, I get my head wrapped around ideas more completely when I blog them.
So, this stodgy hermit took herself out on the town to watch people. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my phone and there is no way that I will be able to recreate what I saw, so I'm afraid there will not be any visual aids.
I saw adults using the road for their bikes and kids using the sidewalks- except on the main roads where there are large bike lanes. I saw people walking their dogs on the street. I saw kids and parents playing at the park. I saw teenagers playing volleyball in the volleyball pit. I saw a lot of people driving their cars. I noticed a lot of people being considerate on the road- stopping to let people turn on a busy street, or to let pedestrians cross the road. I noticed kids and teachers taking a field trip along my street- I'm not sure what the goal was- and the kids all asked me to honk my horn for them (this was when I was in my car). I noticed kids at a busy intersection (without a control signal) freaking out because they weren't sure if they should cross or not. I noticed that there was very flow within the neighborhoods. Everyone was traveling out of the neighborhoods to the busy sections of town where all the commerce is. I noticed that for people to get to any businesses, they either had to go under or over the freeway because there are no conveniences on our side of the freeway. To get to the centers of activity you really need a car, for safety's sake, if you are elderly or have kids.
I did not experience joy on the street. I don't really know how I would promote it. I know people have sometimes set up neighborhood parties in the cul-de-sacs. A lot of people here don't know eachother. I gues if I really wanted to promote joy in the streets, I would block off a minor street and set up a party there for people to meet eachother. Maybe we would let people decide if they wanted to join a traveling game night so people could meet eachother in their homes and have a good time. For a short time, we had a farmer's market at our park, or so I am told. I wasn't living here then. But it fizzled out because no one made any money and it was a lot of trouble to go to for a hobby.
The time that I have experienced joy in the streets here was the fourth of July. This city really knows how to celebrate that. There are people everywhere, local singers singing, there is a foot race and a bike race, a chuck-wagon breakfast, a parade, a carnival, and there are fireworks after dark. All this is done on our side of the freeway, which makes it feel like it's really us.
There is a street in our town that is full of historic homes. They are beautiful. I'm trying to think whether or not there are any streets in town that could be closed to vehicles and opened to pedestrians. It would be awesome if we could close the main street where the city hall and elementary school are, but then how would people access their homes with their cars? Every one of these families own a car. There is the area by the theater where all of the apartment buildings are. It has not yet been developed. If the city were to buy a section of this lot and devote it to a splash pad, a playground surrounded by benches, a fenced-in dog run complete with doggie bags, and a large area devoted to tables and seating, it would attract a lot of people. It would attract even more if there were a 1/4 to 1 mile track surrounding the plot. This area could support local cook offs and other contests. Currently, these sorts of things are limited to congegrations and the members of different congregations don't congregate except on the fourth of July. I think this scheme would be very successful, especially because this area is less than 5 minutes from two freeways, a parkway trail, shopping, theaters and the neighborhoods, and it is on the west side of the freeway.
Know when you're beat!
It will save you grief. Like right now. I'm beat and I know it so I'm gonna quit trying to make like I'm not. I apparantly did this blog site all wrong and I lost so much material- so many freaking times that I am going to have to quit using dates for a while because I have no idea what came from where. I am all discombobulated. The good news is that I understand what I was doing wrong and I have learned how to use the system more effectively. So there is hope for my blog.
Where do I even start? It's interesting, I have come so far along in this process that I can't even remember what ideas I had when- when certain impressions emerged and how the ideas I now have formed from them. I just know what I know now and I guess I'll have to be happy with that. And I am.
Below is a map that I drew of my city and the improvements that I feel would bring delight and joy to the streets. Actually, I live in a city-quad. Bountiful is the main city and there are three small cities that surround it- woods cross to the west, west bountiful to the northwest andcenterville to the north. I have numbered the improvements. And now, the main map.
The * symbols are for parks in our cities that I would like to see allow dogs on-leash. I asked the park maintenance head why they do not allow dogs in any of the parks in Davis County and he said that people do not clean up after their animals. He was very snarly about it. My answer to that is- put in dog pop bag dispensers like every other city, post a large fine for not cleaning up after the animals and let the park maintenance clean up after the occassional offender, whether they like it or not. Let the city submit to the crabby maintenance crew a list of their duties and let them choose between their jobs and early retirement.
And now for the numbered improvements. I will post pictures that correlate to these numbers explaining them in detail. Improvement #1:
This is a megaplex, apartment complex, and office building- All new. People do use the megaplex, but they come and leave in their cars and that is all that they do. If people want a social experience, they are not going to choose this area. I think that the investors would like to see all of the lots sold for businesses, but I don't think they are really thinking smart. If this were my property and I wanted it to be successful, I would put in a park and probably a nickelcade. I would advertise to mobile food carts and let them try it out free for the first month to see if it took off. They have a captive audience in the apartment buildings, after all.
Okay. Improvement #2:
West Bountiful is such a family town that a mini golf course and arcade are a no-brainer!
I wrote a little paper about what I would like to do on this corner. It is not very well written, more like I spewed out ideas without time to make them pretty. So it's like a room with clothes on the floor, but it does get the idea across, if nothing else:
West Bountiful is a small town that is almost entirely residential. It is west of I-15 except for a small portion that is over an overpass to the east. It is not a very safe crossing. This means that, in order for a person to purchase something for use in West Bountiful, residents have to travel over the freeway in to Bountiful at the south end or under the freeway into Centerville in the middle where business are always dying or over the freeway into Centerville at the north end. Both the North and South commutes are dangerous and crowded- the North one cannot be completed by foot, and the South one is pedestrian unfriendly.
I would like to see that change. There is a derelict business center just north of my neighborhood that holds about 15 business spaces. It contains a Tae Kwon Do school, 3 fabrication business, a storage bay strip, and a few other indistinguishable businesses. About half of these spaces are empty. I counted 6 for lease signs along this strip. I think that is a shame! But it is also an opportunity. I would like to see a small convenience store come to West Bountiful and I think that this would be an ideal location for two reasons. First, it is embedded in the neighborhoods and second, the space is available. That the space is already built and available is an obvious perk. The fact that it is in the neighborhoods is great because it would not require a zoning variance, and because mothers like myself could just send their kids down the street to go pick up whatever they ran out of! How great! No mother in her right mind would send her 10 year old to pick up some diapers on a 3 mile round trip walk over the freeway in heavy traffic, but she would love to be able to send him on his bike or on foot to get some exercise while picking up a loaf of bread, a bag of sugar, or some infant’s Tylenol.
Speaking of Tylenol, it would be so great to have a place close by where we could get some Nyquil or where the kids could safely walk to blow their allowance on candy.
I would have to find out the price for rental, estimate the cost for painting, signing and setting up the store. Then I would need to write up a proposal and apply for a loan. I would hire my brother in law, who needs a new job, to manage it, and hire my nieces and nephews to run the shop. When it becomes successful- which I’m sure it will- I will sell it to my brother in law and he will reap the benefits for the rest of his life!
It will require a bike rack outside as well as some benches and tables with chairs. It will need a deli and ice cream counter, an icee machine, a drink fountain, restrooms, storage area, and shelving for products. It will carry all of the things that you make a quick run to the grocery store- notably bananas, diapers, baby wipes, over the counter medications, condoms, pens, pencils, notepads, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, chocolate chips, vanilla, candy, anniversary birthday and get well cards, flowers, bread, butter, milk, eggs, coffee, tea, newspapers, glue sticks, tape of all descriptions, Sudoku and crossword puzzles, paper clips, safety pins, needles, thread, some cleaners, paper towels, weed whacker line, toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and gum. In fall it will carry rakes, in winter it will carry snow shovels, sleds and ice melt, in summer it will carry water balloons and water guns and in spring it will carry umbrellas and kites. It will be boutique style and distinctive, friendly and neighborly. We will have chess, checkers, and Othello games outside for people to hang out and play with along with buckets of sidewalk chalk for people to get creative on the south wall which will be dedicated for people to color as they will. There will be flower pots and baskets… and the hideous, hideous, hideous corner of Porter and 600 West will be both beautiful and useful.
Improvement #4: See these orange flags for crossing?
We really need some on this intersection:
I took this picture pretty early in the morning, so you can't see the traffic I am talking about, but this intersection is used pretty heavily by kids getting to and from school and their friend's houses. This is a main road and drivers tend to speed on it. Kids always look frightened when it comes time to cross and you can always see both child and car stopping and starting in a dangerous tango, unsure who's going o make a move. It would be an easy solution to paint crosswalk lines on each side and install buckets with a few orange flags in each on each corner like so:
Improvements 5, 6, 7, and 8: This is the most involved improvement in West Bountiful. It was a little hard for me to visualize on paper but here it is with the before on the left and the after on the right:
As I see it, one of the problems with West Bountiful is that citizens really only interact in their churches and at the park on their soccer and baseball teams. Also, all business goes across the freeway into Bountiful, Woods Cross, Centerville, and North Salt Lake.
The Beautiful Historic Homes on the North side of the intersection (I forgot to draw the one to the right of the elementary) are not very well looked after. The one I forgot to draw is residential and used to be extremely well taken care of but the owners are now elderly and the house and yard are becoming a little unkempt. The historic home across the street from it is a family home, but it has not been kept up, the front yard is unsightly and the back yard is used as a chain-linked, asphalt-paved towing yard. It is an eyesore and that is unfortunate because the home has so much potential. Both of these are original pioneer homes. I think that the home by the school would make an amazing museum of West Bountiful History with the ample grounds used either as a community garden space or as a re-creation of a working pioneer farm. The "towing-yard" house would make a beautiful corner salon and spa. With the addition of flower beds, hammocks, and seasonal bougainvillea, it would make a breathtaking change. The business would be sure to succeed with gift certificates most likely the biggest seller. People love giving gifts like that here.
The historic homes on the left are a similar story. Many of the the historic homes in West Bountiful are prized and kept up to date by families who are proud of their heritage. The historic mansion on the far left end has fallen into a bit of disrepair due to its occupant being elderly as well. Behind this old mansion is a row of derelict cheap housing. Between the mansion and the school are a couple of older homes, not mansions. The one on the left is quaint, with quite a bit of character but still unattractive and the one on the right is better cared for. If the families were willing to sell out to the city, they could be removed and replaced with a splash pad. If the quaint home on the left weren't torn down there would still be room for a splash pad and the home would make a unique cafe with perhaps a picket fence and hollyhocks. Everyone that I have spoken to wants a splash pad and says that they would use it all the time. The area is big enough to provide for a great splash pad with ample seating as well as seasonal food trucks. It think it would be a good idea to contact vendors and let them try the space tax-free for the first year, to see how things go. The mansion and apartments would convert nicely to a beautiful historic bed and breakfast (another thing that people have been mentioning when I ask what they would like to see in West Bountiful). The apartments could be torn down (hallelujah!) and replaced with a petting zoo/working farm- as in, all of the foods for the bed and breakfast table come from the working farm. People could reserve the bed and breakfast for a family get-away and learn how food is produced on a farm, help milk the cows and goats, collect eggs, and then walk over to the museum for a little more history then have lunch by the splash pad or the new park (which I will detail in a minute).
The old tow yard and the broken down houses on the bottom could make way for a beautiful park area with trees and flower beds as well as seating. This would be an ideal place to hold outdoor movies and concerts, as well as swap meets- city swaps of things like books, furniture, clothes. This would make an excellent farmer's market spot. The city tried it over at the main park, but this is a much more mainstream and visible part of town and it would be much more likely to succeed if there are already people milling around. All of this would attract West Bountiful citizens to commerce and activities within their own city limits and increase the amount of mingling. It would also preserve our heritage and add a great deal of charm and fun to the town. The historic homes on the bottom left could be left as residences or turned into a preschool and gift shop- something of the sort. But they are already well preserved. If all of these ideas were put into place, it would be possible to close the road- for this small section- and open it up for pedestrian traffic only with ample seating, perhaps a fountain, Christmas lights, and live music. This would be so amazing! The school bus could pick kids up on the south end of the school and there would be no crosswalk required on the west side anymore- it would already be safe. Many more parents would be inclined to pick their kids up on foot from school and walk home with them.
I also have an idea about splash pads. People love them, but they are not usable all year. I think splash pads should be made dismantlable and converted into free ice-skating rinks in the winter. The drainage for the splash pad would help drain the ice skating rink in the spring. It would take some engineering- yay! Finally the city engineers would have a challenge worthy of their talents! To increase usefulness, when it is converted from ice-rink in the spring, it could be covered and used for a Saint Patrick's day celebration- perhaps a brewing contest, too? West Bountiful is predominantly Mormon, but there is a significant non-mormon population that is not very well represented, so it might be appreciated. It could at least be used for an Easter egg hunt. In the fall when it is being converted from a splash pad, it could be used as a pumpkin patch and spook alley. Different organizations- United Way, church groups, etc- could apply to run the spook alley as a fund-raiser.
This improvement is in Bountiful City, along it's historic main street district. It is a pretty complex idea and I am not an artist. I feel that my picture is a poor representation of the plan, so I will elucidate with photos and words. First of all, this is a google earth shot of main street. I have highlighted the areas I will be talking about.
So here is my drawing of the first section. This is Main Street Bountiful between 400 North and 500 South. I'm a bit frustrated because this picture took hours and hours to research and draw and it is nothing like I had hoped. I'll do my best to explain.
I hope that it is obvious from the pictures that Bountiful City takes pride in preserving its heritage. The city has done a lot of work to beautify the street already and to update it. The shops with housing above them are all newly redone. They were hideous aluminum and glass businesses a few years ago. The street is REALLY wide and there is only one traffic signal on Center Street. There are a few reasons why this would be an ideal place to close to automobile traffic. First, every block has a back access. Take the wedding reception center, for example. It is the beautiful white building in the gallery. This is its back access:
All of the businesses but one, a law office, have a back access and some kind of parking. As you can see in the pictures below, these lots are currently empty.
In addition to the empty parking lots, there is an incredible amount of unused parking on all of the side roads. There are sixteen side roads in all in this section and here is what I found:
HARDLY ANY CARS PARKED ON VERY WIDE ROADS WITH A LOT OF AVAILABLE PARKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sounds ideal, right? The Traffic light visible in the last photo is the only traffic signal on this stretch of road and it is located on Center Street, just about in the middle. Not to beat a dead horse but there are five things already in favor of my plan to close the road to cars: 1) 1 traffic signal 2) lots of available parking 3) Bountiful City already invested and engaged in creating social spaces and beautifying the city 4) all blocks have a back access and 5) this is already a low-traffic area. There are 2 things against it: 1) funding 2) part of a bus route
So I have talked to a lot of people from my area and asked all of them what they would like to see in their city or what would benefit them and I get a lot of similar answers regardless of whether I am eating dinner with someone, at a baby shower, at a family party, talking to a neighbor, or at a place of business. The common answers are:
A natural foods store
A splash pad
A successful farmer's market
More local community events
A community garden
A good bookstore
Kid friendly businesses
A bike route
A dog park
All of these have three common themes- health, safety, and stress relief. My plan combines all of these ideas. Here it is in a nutshell:
Close the road from 400 N to 500 S and use the space for a variety of purposes. Dur to the large scale of the project, I have separated it into three sections of three city blocks each as follows:
400 North to 100 North
This is how it currently looks:
Lots of sidewalk, a wide street and many businesses, none of them too successful because people don't shop here much, excepting the old timers. This is how I envision it changing:
Remove the sidewalks, put ampitheater style seating at the north end next to the antique dealer and music shop for open-air estate sale auctions and concerts sponsored by the music store. Add some outdoor seating in front of the italian bistro increasing its ability to serve customers and help it to survive (this is the 5th bistro or deli that has tried to make it here but there is no where to sit). The old mansion that is now a restaurant could use some outdoor seating with lighting. If this place were made exciting and new, people will come and local businesses will be successful. Let the mortuary, who is noted for their beautiful flower bed, take the space in front of it and turn it into a "mortuary garden" with places to sit, read, or chat off to the south. With more room, the book and fabric stores might have sidewalk displays and sales which would add a lot of local color- we have a lot of excellent seamstresses and quilters here. It would be so great to have storytime outside in good weather in front of the bookstore in the aforementioned seating area. In front of the reception center would be a nice place for a shallow fountain with seating all around. A food and drink cart and some seating would be very useful here.
Section 2- from 100 North to 200 South
This is how it looks now:
And here is how I envision it becoming.
In front of the Apple Art Gallery would be a great place to have art shows, contests, and competitions. It would be a great place to teach face painting lessons or have face paintng, caricature drawing etc during street carnivals. Yes, I envision street carnivals. Every year, Bountiful has a sidewalk chalk painting festival called the Chalk Walk and now it would be even better, with more available drawing space and a safer perambulation. Tabernacle square has a great big lawn with beautiful trees but no seating. It would be wonderful if there were some chairs and benches put in along with a couple of waste baskets. Across the street from the Tabernacle is the Post Office square. This is a new post office with a beautiful fountain and flower planters. The planters are too high to sit on, but there is viable seating around the fountain there. I have noticed that people accumulate there in good weather already. This is the area of the street with the most spontaneous activity. I think that this block would be a great place to have that splash pad that everyone is talking about. The lawn of the tabernacle would be a great place to get some sun or dry off. I think there should be fixed seating all around the splash pad for parents and grand-parents etc. Fixed, so that it doesn't end up in the water or create a hazard. I think that some trees would go great between the art area and the splash pad to create a boundary and I forgot to draw it but I think there should be a tree boundary between the splash pad and the next section- the community garden space that people are asking for. Trees on the north end would create a boundary but would not shade the gardens. This last block would be the beginning of the community garden space.
This is the third and last section as it is:
And this is my vision:
It begins as a continuation of the community garden space. A couple of things- the garden must be attractive! I think the outer foot on either side ought to be maintained by the city as it maintains the flower baskets throughout the street and the post office gardens and let it be floral. Bountiful is a big place so I do not think that a little bit of garden will really serve the purpose. This plan calls for two and a half blocks of gardening boxes. They should be elevated for easy maintenance, cleanliness, and pest deterence- and beauty, of course! Between boxes could be paved to eliminate the need for maintenance beyond sweeping. I think a community composting project would be awesome, but it will have its critics. And enclosed and tumbling system just up the street at the U of U extension grounds would be close at hand and would not irritate sensitive nosies. Here is a picture of the spot.
It would fit right in by the kiln but this would not work well if this space continues to host the Farmer's Market. I propose that the Farmer's Market- which is already overcrowded on this tiny spot- should be moved to the soccer field behind the bank or to the back lawn on Tabernacle Square. The first two block of this section hold a lot of derelict businesses south of the bank. They are hideous 70's aluminum and asphalt creations and would be better as an old time cinema- which we no longer have, and a history museum, which we also lack. We have a lot of history and a lot of enthusiasts! The street space in front of the musem could be a museum garden with statuary and the space in front of the restaurant could have a few outdoor tables. The intersection could house some food trucks. The last block is predominantly food places now and an optometrist. If the optometrist could find it in his heart to relocate- even on the same street- this could become "dining square" with tables throughout the street and various food choices creating a food emporium!
And that is my idea for Main Street Bountiful from 400 North to 500 South.
That was idea 1. Now for ideas 2 and 3. I'll repost the satellite picture for clarification.
Both 2 and 3 are on Main Street before it bends westward but not in the section that can be closed off. They are a part of the city complex that includes the library, the senior center, the police department, the city hall and courts and a lot of parking. Number 2 is across the drive from the senior center and adjacent to a historical monument. Here are 2 pictures- one of the plot in question and one of the historical monument that it is adjacent to:
I went to the senior center and spoke to the ladies there about this parcel and they had a few things to say:
"We don't want all of the empty spaces to go away. It makes us sad to see everything eaten up by homes and businesses."
"We do wish we could use it. A pergola, a couple of trees, some covered seating would make it possible for us to take advantage of what is right outside our center dooors."
"We would love to use it in good weather for outdoor yoga classes."
After speaking to them, I had an additional idea. What if they were able to design, plant and maintain a flower bed around said pergola? I wonder how they would respond to that idea.
Number 3 is in the same complex, where the police station was before they tore it down. It struck me as pretty barren. It is significantly bigger than the last plot.
I think this would be a great place for my splash pad/ice rink idea! And no, I do not think that it would be overkill to have 2 splash pads in same city. With the overwhelming response I had to the splash pad idea, one would not be enough for the demand. It would be important to make sure that there is enough seating for people watching, mingling, eating, drinking and socializing. I love this idea!
And there you have it. My ideas for Bountiful with all objectives stated by the user group met:
A natural foods store
A splash pad
A successful farmer's market
More local community events
A community garden
A good bookstore
Kid friendly businesses
A bike route
A dog park
Okay, all the objectives excepting the dog park and the bike route, which would be completely different projects.
NOVEMBER 11, 2014
What a day, what a day, what a day. It all started with a conversation I had after class with my professor after class last week. I had just watched an interchange between him and Hannah about her Capstone Project and heard everyone ooh and ahh about what she had accomplished but the amazing thing to me was the way that, with just a few words in the right place, Professor Goldsmith had enabled the whole thing. I feel like Dr. King when I say that I have a dream. I really do. It is an audacious dream and a dream that I never thought I would be able to do anything about. Not really. When a problem is as huge as human tafficking, it seems impossible to do anything to change it. But I think that my dream can become a reality.
I learned that human slavery still existed around the world and in the US about 10 years ago and it floored me. Since that time, I have wanted to do something about it. Over time, I came up with an idea- a self sustaining, safe community to support victims of human trafficking. I'll go into that in a minute, because it has evolved a great deal, chiefly because I've learned a lot since that time regarding what problems exist and what definciencies exist in the current solutions. Our response is woefully inadequate and effective support is needed.
Today, I went to a lecture that Professor Goldsmith suggested I attend. With a word, he enabled me to proceed with my dream, like he had with Hannah. Lesson learned- there truly is the power of life or death in the tongue. The lecture was called, "NOT MY LIFE: THE HUMAN COSTS AND RIGHTS CONSEQUENCES OF TRAFFICKING". It took place at Westminster College.
The lecture was sponsored by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, which I joined. I met a Public Relations officer who pointed out all the people that I needed to meet.
The lecture hall was completely packed. So packed, in fact, that I was ushered to the front where I sat between Dr. George and a state legislator- which led to an amazing conversation and his pledge of support and offer to provide any help and information that he can provide. The lecture was packed with great information and I was given a short film called "Not My Life" for a donation.
The lecture was given by Dr Ericka George, Professor, College of Law, University of Utah. She specializes in law and social justice. Her legal (versus emotional) perspective was great.
I met Laurin Crossen, trafficking survivor and founder of Rockstarr Ministries. We are having lunch after the semester and she is going to teach me the lingo, how not to offend trafficked persons with my verbage and just what victims need. She was supportive of my idea and promised help. I particularly look forward to the crucial information that she can provide because I have never been exposed to the prostitution trade and would be entering this world blind.
I met Elizabeth Hendrix of the Asian Refugee Center. We are having lunch in December and she's going to show me the ropes. I can't wait!
All in all...
Time well spent!
NOVEMBER 12, 2014
I would like to take a moment to say, with gratitude, that this course is forcing me out of the dark ages. I knew how to use Microsoft Office- for crying out loud, I managed a chiropractic office for a couple of years and created all of the flyers, cards, pamphlets, excel spreadsheets, and business reports. I learned how to use the medical billing software and learned medical billing. I processed all of the x-rays. I've had umpteen million kinds of jobs and enjoyed all of them (excepting telephone sales). I love powerpoint. Heck, I can even photoshop (after a manner of speaking). I love learning new things but when it comes to technology, I really only do it if I have to and I hate to admit it, but new technology is more scary than sexy to me. Well, I have to do this blog. I feel like my grandma talking about how easy it is for "the young set" and it is embarassing. So I am glad to say that my "old timer's" is a condition that has a cure and that I am currently undergoing treatment.
Now that I have that off my chest, I would like to talk about my plan. After last night, I envision a support network that mainly addresses issues relating to prostituted persons and provides support for employment and housing- apparantly the two most urgent issues- and additional help for physical, mental, and emotional health and healing.
Laurin was explaining to me that we do not say "prostitutes" but "prostituted persons" because a large part of the problem is perpetuated by the way that we look at victims of prostitution. They are typically fraudulently coerced into the situation and kept in it by fear, fraud, and violence . The situation is self sustaining because a prostituted person has a sex offender status. This means that they can not find work and often can not find housing. Their past follows them and pimps stalk them. Prostitution can become their only viable option for survival. So we need safe beds, we need better laws, and we need employment options.
I had originally envisioned an enclosed community with housing, a bistro, a restaurant, a doctor's office, an OB/GYN, a massage therapist, a salon, exercise classes, a therapist, a cleaning staff, a community garden, a library, a grocery store (to supply the shops and for snacks and drinks), art classes, a bakery, a coffee shop, a laundry, a bike shop, ESL classes, a social worker, a financial counselor, a GED tutor, an immigration counselor, accountant, and a lawyer.
This would create the following career paths:
Bike Store Manager
Medical Billing Specialist
Group Fitness Instructor
Coffe Shop Manager
Grocery store manager
So, initially, we would find people within these disciplines willing to work within our system. People coming into the system would have time to heal and simply be taken care of. They would eventually start to be responsible for themselves, incrementally. They would be given a stipend that they would have to learn to manage- with the help of counselors. They would choose which career path attracted them, and they would be apprenticed into it by the current position holders. We would hook them up with whatever education and benefits they require and support them through the process. Once finished and ready to work in the real world, they would agree, in exchange for their apprenticeship, to work for the system until they are replaced by the next person.
There are a couple of problems intially with this idea. I still think that it is ideal, but they are the same problems that made me feel like it could never happen. First- funding!!!! Housing is not free. Second- funding!!! Is there financial aid available? For healthcare? Food? Etc? I need to know! I think that Elizabeth Hendrix and Laurin Crossen and the state legislator will be able to help me learn what I need to know about that.
I'm thinking that, at least in the beginning, it will be enough to create a network (not a closed community) of employers who agree to hire our folks. This makes me nervous because if they know our client's status and if they are slime-bags in human clothing they could very easily take advantage of our fragile wards. This is not safe. What makes me more nervous is the housing issue. It needs to be safe. It needs to be secure. It needs to be stable and consitently available. It needs to be decent, it needs to be in a good area, and it needs to be as invisible as possible. Those we will serve will be very vulnerable to predators and their pimps will be looking for them.
I think that churches might be my best bet when looking for that kind of support. I will need to make an appointment to speak with local church leaders.
As for laws, there are "Safe Harbor Laws" that allow a prostituted person under the age of 18 to have their record expunged. There is even a ten year statute of limitations, because the difficulty of escaping prostitution is better understood. It used to be understood that prostitutes were criminals. They would do jail time, they would get the sex offender status, they would be fined, and their pimps would get their hands slapped and sent back out to do it again. There is now a federal push to reeducate the police force about what it is that they are seeing when they see prostitution. But none of this helps people like Laurin, who was trafficked for twenty years before she broke free. The laws do not apply to her. What we need is a law that would allow any formerly prostituted person to have his/her record expunged after so long within the rehabilitation system- and rehabilitation and work education ought to be mandatory.
November 18, 2014
For the last couple of days, I have been keeping track of the light in my environment and my reactions to it. it has been an interesting assignment.
I prefer lamplight to overhead light.
I prefer soft light to bright.
I do not like flourescent light.
I do not like bare LED light.
I like to have a light available to turn on right next to where I typically sit- which is probably why I prefer lamps to overhead light. When you are usually holding a 20 pound baby who is hopefully asleep, it is nice to be able to reach right across and turn on an light.
I love sunlight- I love morning light because it makes me feel clean. I love noon light because it make me feel energetic. I love afternoon light because it make me feel warmed. I love evening light because it makes me feel mysterious. I love lamplight because it makes me feel comforted and comforting and I love moonlight because it makes me feel like a wild creature in the dark.
Here are some pictures of the lighting in my home. As I looked through pictures I have taken of my environment, I noticed that a lot of what I had liked about the pictures had to do with the light.
Two kinds of light in this picture. The entry light which takes 7 bulbs! The are covered with a gold shade that creates a powerful yet soft light All of these face upward and shine on the ceiling which spreads the light to the neighboring room, which has no central light. Then there is the lamp. I use UVA/ UVB bulbs for the plants. It is a cheerful light. I think it is too bright for my peace lily which is burning. Time to figure something out.
Look at that beautiful muted sunlight coming through the curtains! It feels like privacy and freedom.
I love the filtered light in front of the house that encourages the moss and violets, even in this desert climate.
Another light we love. I noticed that candlelight puts everything else in the background and enhances the people. It creates a sense of intimacy and it feels special. I guess that's why the kids love it so much. But we'd better have another light on somewhere or we'll have grape juice n the carpet!
I love the light shining off of the low sheen of the plaster on the walls and I love the light shining off of the mirrow, but I hate the painfully bright light shining from the vanity light in the bathroom. We all hate it when someone forgets to turn it off. Not only is it an energy hog and too bright, but the bulbs are outlandishly expensive and relatively short lived.
Look how dark it is going down into the oubliette, I mean, the basement. In summer it is awesome because it is a good ten degrees cooler down there. I guess I could open the blinds, but it is kind of nice to have a hidey-hole,
So much of our home is wood. I love the soft glow of wood. This picture is a good example of what I mean. It feels comforting.
All of the places I don't like t go in the house are crowded and have bad overhead lighting.
Throughout the house there is light reflecting off of the various metal, glass, and stone surfaces. It beautifies the home. I think this is why I do not like chrome. Its light is not appealing to me at all. Even aluminum's light is more attractive.
The dappled light under my tree creates a lot of variety and is a haven for birds and my sneaky cat who likes the birds. I get to try out a lot of different plants here that I couldn't put anywhere else. It feels very peaceful in this light, even if I am sweating like a pig.
Ah, the lamps. I really love lamps. Look at that light. It was when I looked at this picture while I was putting my movement slideshow together that I realized how soothing this soft glow is to me- especially as a migraine sufferer.
And here we are trying to get rid of the light by darkening the windows. We are making a cave.
The dark corridor between rooms with windows. I like this space, it is like a little bit of mystery between what is known. Where will I go from here? Will I go to the living room , the bedroom, or the stairs?
I love full sun and I love the plants that love it- especially lacy gaura!
There is a lot of sunlight that comes in the southern windows. In its own way, it is even brighter than the lights from the vanity= the lights that we all hate because they are too bright. But sunlight is not garish and can be bright and beautiful and soothing at the same time- just don't tell that to someone stuck wandering the desert.
Funny story. So I was driving a friend to the airport early in the morning this week. Well, I was driving along and needed to change lanes. I turn to check my blindspot and it the darkness of my van, it looked like there was a person sitting in the far back corner of my car. It freaked me out. My heart started racing, I started breathing funny, the whole thing. Turns out it was just the headreast and the seat belt bracket. I guess that's why the light makes us feel so safe- we can tell what's out there! It made me think of this assignment.
November 25, 2014
I was really impressed with today's readings about the bike routes in Copanhagen, Denmark. I think it is true that if you make bike riding convenient, fun and safe, then people will ride their bikes.
I think that we really need a biking path here! Everyone here loves biking, but everyone here has kids and we are not going to try to take our kiddos out in their bike trailers on the road. No Way! So that means that a HUGE number of potential bike trips will only occur on the Legacy Parkway Trail. We come back to the same problem- people having to commute to exercise instead of taking their exercise on the way to things they have to do anyway.
I've been thinking about it and I think it would be possible to get a bike path up 500 south behind the first layer of businesses on the south side of the road. Even just that would be great because it is a terribly busy street. It could just be an asphalt trail. It could hook up with the other main roads. I would use it!
Not only do we need a bike path throuh Davis County, but we need a bike path from North Salk Lake to The Capitol area. I keep hearing about ideas to create a road from North Salt Lake over to the City Creek area but I have a bone to pick with that. Yes, we do need greater access from Davis County, but why reward drivers? If we are trying to decrease the number of automobiles in the valley, or at least slow the growth why create more auto paths? What we need is a safe bike access from Davis County into the inner city area of Salt Lake City. It is not currently safe to make that commute by bicycle. Legacy Parkway Trail will not suffice. That is too far out of the way and it is not long enough. I would totally use it!
As a mom, things do become more difficult. Instead of going for a walk, we are taking people for a walk. Instead of taking a nap because we are tired, we are getting other people to take a nap so that they will not be tired and then they start to wake up before we can fall asleep. Instead of just taking a bike ride, we are hooking up a trailer to the back of our bike and lugging it around- and guess what is inside it? Unbelievably precious cargo. Are we going to take it on the road? NO WAY! There are too many idiots out there on the road thinking they can do anything they want because they're zipping around in their metal sleeves. I've been hit by a car as a pedestrian and it was on purpose. I was minding my own business, holding my two year old and getting ready to put him in his car seat when this kid swerved off the road to hit me. It took two years to walk normally again and my son has oppositional defiance syndrome as a result of the trauma. True, not every idiot driving does crack or meth, but it only took one to change my life forever. There is no way in hell I'm going to take my kids on the road in nothing more than a bike trailer. All things considered, I think it would be poor parenting on my part.
Another thing that is difficult for me is getting enough exercise. Before I had kids, I just worked it into my schedule. I always rode my bike to work. I wish I could do that now. I wish I could ride my bike from Davis County to the University of Utah. That would be incredible exercise each day. But there is no safe path from Davis County into Downtown Salt Lake City. There are a lot of people who feel the way that I do. If we were to create safe bike highways, a lot of things would improve- health, stress levels, obesity levels, diabetes, heart disease. It's a good idea.
November 27, 2014
I totally loved the video about lights in the city. I can't believe how much affect light pollution has on the sky. It made me think of my friends from Morrocco, who don't really believe me about the snow here. They are living in Monterey, California, and they never get that kind of weather. I suppose it is hard to imagine that there can be snow less than 24 hours away by car.
The boys in the film were so amazed to see the night sky. It was fun to see. I loved the new concepts in lighting- the lighted hand rails, the capped street lights. What an elegant solution- to create the safety of lamplight, the intimacy of candlelight, and to preserve the night sky all at once! I hope this idea really takes off!
December 1, 2014
I spoke with my counselor today. I made an appointment with her a couple of weeks ago when I was deciding what classes to take for Spring 2015 semester. I thought to myself- can I relate my Praxis Lab project to my honor's thesis? I decided to ask for guidance fromt he Honor's College and I'm really glad that I did. My counselor through the Honor's College happens to be the head of the Master's program that I mean to pursue. I have been asking for her guidance since I met her and she has steered me a straight course. It is important for a non-traditional student like myself to make good decisions about what classes to take, and not waste time or money.
We met and discussed the Arabic Proficiency Test that I will be taking in a couple of weeks, which was really helpful because she is extremely familiar with the test. Then we talked about the thesis. I explained what I am trying to do with my Praxis Lab Project and she said liked the idea. She offered her support and network. Because I am a Middle Eastern Studies major, I have to relate my project to the Middle East. This makes me wonder if Elizabeth Hendrix was an Asian Studies Major.
My thesis has to answer a couple of research questions that relate to the Middle East. I have brainstormed and this is what I have come up with:
Compared to all of the regugee support centers that I have found (by ethnicity), what supports are and are not available to refugees coming out of the Middle East?
Based on a rubric (undeveloped), how healthy are refugees from the Middle East compared to refugees from other geographical areas (upon intake into the system)?
Based on a rubric (undeveloped), how prepared are refugees from the Middle East to function successfully in our society? If prepared, why? If less than prepared, is there any evidence to support potential solutions to this problem?
Are all of the basic human needs being met (rubric borrowed- probably WHO) by refugee support centers that handle trafficked persons? If not, which are not and what could be done to meet them?
This may be too much material to start with but it is what I have come up with so far. Including the issue of human trafficking will create a new dynamic and complicate the rubric, I think, but it is an issue so relevant to Middle Eastern Studies that I would hate to lose that element.
December 2, 2014
For Thanksgiving, we went out to the west desert for some fun. I don't think that I could really apply Whyte's principles to the desert landscape- it was perfect as it was. The place that got my attention was the newish Maverick station in Delta. It had a lot of good elements. Access to water- lots of water in lots of different flavors! Access to restrooms, clean ones at that ( once, in San Fransisco, I nearly died needing to use the toilet because the public restroom were actually SCARY enough that I could not use them). There was access to food- not the healthiest food, mind you, but it would keep you alive. There was even access to nature, after a manner of speaking. There were a few trees and a lawn.
What was really missing was seating. There was no place to sit, gather, mingle, or enjoy your food and beverages. Not even for the good old boys who came to the Maverick to get the news and shoot the breeze. That was all done standing up or leaning on the counter. Very awkward and uncomfortable. I thought, why is it this way? The best I can figure is that Maverick doesn't WANT you to stick around. They want you to buy gas, they want you to buy food and drinks and convenience items and they want you to leave. I've started to notice this about a lot of places. Some of them even post "no loitering" signs. To quote Professor Goldsmith, they are places to consume. I'm sure there are a lot of good business reasons to get people out as fast as possible, but I think that businesses really have this backwards. If a business gives you a better experience and really has you, as the consumer, in mind, then that is where you will go- provided that you can afford it. Here is a picture I drew of the place:
I drew, in pen, the things that were already there, then I added in pencil what I thought would make it a better place for people.
As you can see, there is a building, there is food, water, bathrooms, grass, trees, and some lights over the entrance.
I think the addition of some benches in front of the store and on the lawn, a swingset, a running trail around the lot and some lights around the perimeter would make this an excellent place for people who are sick and tired of being in a car and need to move their human bodies. I refer to both adults and children. There isn't reaally room inside for seating, but the benches in front would be great for locals! Who knows, maybe even the locals would use the running trail to stretch their legs and the swingset to fall in love?
December 7, 2014
I spent a lot of time looking at things this week. My house is a wreck and my kids have fed themselves and my sister is having to look elsewhere for help with her cancer-related needs-and I'm totally okay with it. This is how the weeks before finals go at my house anyway- alhough, it is different (read harder) with a baby.
Speaking of baby, I've learned how to empty a room at the library. All I have to do is quietly and covertly start nursing my baby. Next thing I know, I've got the room all to myself. No one wants to listen to him fuss, but they don't leave for that. They only leave when they know, but cannot see, that he is nursing. In the past, I have nursed my kids in a bathroom stall when there was no facility available. But I refuse to leave my seat in the downstairs corner of the library and lug me, my baby, his stroller, my computer and backpack all up to hide in the bathroom to take care of this little guy's most basic (and immediate) need when the solution is right there with me and carefully concealed beneath clothes and a blanket. If there is a nursing/study room available for students/mothers of infants, I am not aware of it. But it would be awesome. I will call the non-trad office and ask them if there is such a thing. If there is, great! If not, I guess I'm gonna have a room to myself in the library whenever the little guy is hungry.
Back to looking at things. I really enjoyed looking at Candy Chang's work. It was very unlike a typical art gallery! She took her projects to the open, out in the community and made them interactive. It was really cool. I particularly appreciated her talent at story-telling. It made her work more immediate and important to me. I don't know if it is okay to put any of her photos on my web-site, but her site is and it is worth looking at.
I also went to see the "no fixed address" exhibit at the Leonardo Museum. It was a pretty small exhibit, but it was powerful. I asked if I could take pictures and they said yes.
Once again, I really appreciated the artists' ability to tell a story. The exhibit started out with a video of a little homeless boy from California telling his story and it was moving- partly because he was so young and partly because the things he said he wanted were pretty standard issue for most of us- like a room and a house and a bathroom. Here are some pictures of things that really struck me:
This was a roll of pictures showing typical places where homeless folks might live. I guess this means on a bike? But where does this bike rider sleep? I often saw a guy in Monterey, California who had only a bike. He rode it around collecting everyone's soda cans out of their recycling bins to turn them in for cash. I guess he bought a box of garbage bags with the profits and used that to hold the cans. I never did find out where he slept. Shame on me.
I'm guessing this is supposed to be a construction site. I guess that would be an available place to hole up. I never thought about it. I know that when my husband was working construction, they had to be really careful about leaving tools unlocked because they would always get stolen. Maybe that is why?
Looks like an old storm drain under the street. I used to play in one of these as a kid. Of course, there was a creek running through it and it was always wet and full of lovely tadpoles. It wouldn't have made a good bed. But neither does this, really.
Looks like someone holing up in a drain again. Aren't these places famous for rats, etc? Doesn't sound like a good place to be unconscious. I guess what concerns me about having a safe place to sleep is the face that, when you are asleep, you are at your most vulnerable.
The railroad. Very loud, very dangerous. My friend's father lost his legs at the railroad yard and he knew the place well and what he was doing.
I've heard of people living in their trucks before, mostly truck drivers who get divorced and can't afford a new place while they figure everything out- child support, alimony payments, stress, heartbreak, etc.
Boat yard. Old boats. A lot of people don't use their boats but once in a while I guess you could do that. Seems kind of risky, if you don't like being arrested.
I knew a family in Monterey that lived on a boat. Family of five. This was because the rent prices were astronomical. Since they were only going to be there for less than a year, they bought a boat and lived on the wharf. My husband and I considered it but with small and hyperactive children it just seemed like a bad idea. We still plan on it though- selling our home and living on a boat for a year, traveling the world. When our kids are grown, of course.
Makeshift shelter. This looks reasonably waterproof. Somehow this stikes me as a lot less dangerous than living at the railroad or in a city ditch. Give me the country everytime. You have to worry about wild animals but they might be a little less scary than the city.
Home Sweet Home
Not only did these pictures tell a story, they got me telling my stories! I enjoyed the section where there were pictures of the faces of many different homeless people. I was surprised by some of the pictures. I thought to myself- where do these people bathe? Where do they get dressed? Do they use an alarm to wake up? Where do they keep it? Do they have a phone? How do they survive?
This is a pictureof the fig tree in Fig Tree Park:
The plaque by it said the following: "Tthis tree is the site of a groundbreaking 2008 ruling by Justice Stephen Stone of the California Court of Appeals. A homeless man wanting to register to vote gave Gif Tree Park as his address. The state's registrat denied his application. The plaintiff took his case to court and lost. His lawyer went on to appeal the case and the decision was reversed. Justice Stone said in his ruling, "...a dwelling or shelter is a subjective term since it can mean entirely different things to different people". He goes on to say, "...It is patently unjust that society ignores the homeless and yet also denies to them the proper avenues to remedy the situation. Even more compelling, the denial of the vote to the "homeless" denies them electoral power. Powerlessness breeds apathy and apathy is the greatest danger to society."
GO JUSTICE STONE! Good point.
This exhibit was especially moving in light of a couple of things that I saw this week- a video of a homeless man being beaten to death for nothing, the demolition of a makeshift homeless city in California and my homeless cousin. It has been a lot of food for thought.
I think that both Candy Chang's work and the exhibit were powerful because of their ability to tell a story and get the viewer engaged in that story.
I appreciated that at the end of the exhibit, there was a place to answer the natural question: "What can I do?" It was built to look like the framework of a house and the studs were filled with plaques referring viewers to agencies, etc, that support the homeless population. This isn't a very good picture, but you'll get the idea.
December 10, 2014
In class, we talked about our projects and made commitments. I was really excited about our group project. One of the girls, a big-time smarty-pants, came up with idea, and I love it. Her idea was for a traveling exhibit. I love the idea because it can tie in with all of our individual projects. We all have strengths, skills, and resources that we can bring to the table. I commited to creating an employment and housing network for vicytims of human trafficking.
SInce I joined Rockstarr's facebook page, I have really had my eyes opened. I have lunch next week with Elizabeth Hendrix (we had to reschedule), I am waiting for Laurin Crosson to get back in town, and I have had an email from my advisor about my thesis questions. It was very cut and dry. She is so good at getting straight to the point. It made me think about where I am going with all of this and what questions can and can not be asked or answered. I think I had better get my research questions completed before the beginning of the Spring semester. That is my new short-term goal.
We all agreed on parameters for our projects and we all had great ideas. That's awesome because there is so much to be done. Between all of us, I think we will make a big dent for positive change around us.
January 16th, 2014
Ah, a new semester. As per usual, a lot has changed over the break. Due to health complications, I ended up changing my school schedule which has changed the time frame for some of my goals. I am no longer taking the Writing in a Research University class until next semester, so that is when I will develop my research questions for my thesis. For now, the Middle Eastern portion of this project is on hold while I figure out what I am doing at all.
My phenomological response to the sliders we saw in class- and they are worth looking at (icq.ou.edu/2014/12/60yrsmidwest/)- was fairly strong. I felt sorrow that so much real life was destroyed and replaced with waste. I felt like we are ants. We can't really see the big picture as we plug along. We just do what we do, thinking we've got to because that's how it is done. But these pictures pointed out the falseness in that philosophy. This is NOT how it has been done. This is new, this is unnecessary and it is only benefitting a small number of people, really. It felt destructive and senseless.
Later in class, we discussed bold moves and I am thinking today of my sister's artistry. She has carved out a niche for herself making very unique belts and bags. It took a lot of guts for her to do that- to fly in the face of what was expected of her and to do what she loves. Not only have her life choices been bold, but so is her art. Here are her latest efforts- belt buckles that she just finished glazing:
She uses unusual materials such as vintage bobby pin decorations and jewelry, hard drives and old silverware. She makes something awesome out of what is already there. Just like the earth, the galaxy, and the universe. Yeah, she's pretty awesome.
To see more of her work, go to this address and look at her photo album.
I've been thinking about how to start my abstract and my critical path I feel like I need to give a name to my project. I've come up with some good arabic ones:
but I don't need those names yet. I need an english name. Time to brainstorm.
Something about returning. No, that's perhaps a little condescending.
Empathy, no. Empathy alone keeps them down.
Restitution? The Restitution Project.
Dignity? The Dignity Network. But it does not refer to the idea of independence. The Dignitiy of Independence? How about the Freedom Network?
Safety? In the Arms of Safety. But this does not imply independence. In the Arms of Independence might get both points across. But it sounds vague. The Independence Project.
Reintegration Nation. Perhaps a little condescending.
Provision- Milk and Honey?
Fear no More.
What is the point? What is the catchphrase?
Empowering victims to become survivors who thrive as independent women. Empowering survivors to find and empower victims.
Empowering our community to make it possible.
Yeah, that's about right.
I was thinking about the traveling exhibit and what I would like to do. I thought an art exhibit created by survivors themselves would have a big impact. I thought maybe masonite boards with bright colored handprints and names along with their story.
Sayings like, "I was not a prostitute. I was prostituted." "Sex-work is not about choice. It took my choices away." "Do you really think I wanted to be in that room?" "How much should a ticket to rape you be worth?" "98% of porn stars are victims of human trafficking. Porn is NOT a question of freedom of expression. Stop supporting pimps." "Prostitution is not how we earn a living. It is how our pimps earn a living and how we lose everything." "There are women who chose to earn money this way, but they are rare. Make sex-work illegal." "When you view pornography, you make human slavery lucrative" "Slave owners can not enslave blacks anymore so they enslave vulnerable men, women, boys, and girls." "Which slavery industries do you support?" "Make sex legal to sell, illegal to buy. Stop criminalizing victims and rewarding criminals!" etc with a facts board.
I was checking to see if my project names were already taken and found a good link.
March 4, 2015
I was just remembering a conversation that I had with one of my sisters back in October of last year, when I was at the genesis of this whole thing. It shocked me to remember what was said and what it says abut how far I've come in this process. At the outset, my idea was an enclosed and self sustaining community dedicated to helping victims of human trafficking. All of this was still hypothetical and I was building castles in the sky, describing to her what I was hoping for and she pointed out to me that what we were talking about sounded like a life work, really, and she wondered if I shouldn't try to start with what was already there. This was a major duh! moment for me- she's always talking me by storm with her clarity- and it became immediately clear that I had a coice to make: do I chase my ideal and have an easily abandoned plan to show for my efforts at the end of spring semester, or do I "work with what is already there" and have my project morph into something entirely different, but concrete and useful and finished with the semester. A hard question to arrive at, for some reason, but it was easy to answer. So I got all flexible and I've been going wherever this project has taken me ever since. I haven't loved every step of the process- that is for certain. I have seen the darker side of people more frequently and I've had a peek into true madness- that was a little terrifying, and it will be necessary to be careful what I say about that. But my faith in people has had a shot in the arm.
I remember telling my sis that I thought women ought to be able to do sex work if they want to. This made sense to me. Why should government regulate this? I thought prnography was an art form, a form of expression, and that it should be protected as such. While not interested in pornography myself, I thought that the people who objected so strongly to it were nut jobs or fanatics. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. My sister gave me what almost amounted to the fish eye (she can be very supercilious as necessary), and then proverbially slapped me upside the head with her reasoning. She went on about how prostitution never benefits women ever. At all. Which is fundamentally true. Even if A woman here and there manages to benefit from it, it is still to the detriment of women as a whole. She talked about about how it is a man-made institution designed to benefit men. Which is also true. And about how a person with stockholm syndrome will always defend the person or the institution that has taken them hostage. Which is also true. The manner of her delivery may have put a few hairs up down my spine, but it really made me think. I kept remembering her statement as I spoke to survivors of human trafficking and directors who work with this problem and learned the statistical facts of the case. My sister was right and I was totally out there in left field!
Many people defend pornography as an art form, and most of us are concerned about the over regulation of our lives- but this is a little bit like seat belt laws. A person may object to being required to wear a seat belt- but it is not all about him or her. It is about the other people in the car that he will hit and kill like a loose cannon in the event of an accident- regardless of whether or not they put their belt on. It is like car seats- parents are required to put their kids in them- not to protect the parents, but the idea is that as a helpless citizen of our country, children deserve protection from our institutions- even protection from their parents. This is very much the case with prostitution. It does not make sense- in terms of justice- to protect the rights of 2 women to do sex work and ignore the suffering of 98 others.
So, this is what I have learned about prostitution (and some of it surprised me):
1- 98%, the overwhelming majority, of prostitutes do not want to be in the industry. They have been brought into the industry either by a)coercion b)legitimate death threats c)parents who don't give a damn about them d)fraud or e)vulnerability in a system that gives them no acceptable alternatives
2- The average age of prostitutes is 13- we are talking 5-18 here (yes, 5)
3- The average life span of a prostitute is 7 years
4- The most common cause of death is fatal gunshot, and the most common murderer is the pimp- with the johns as a second
5- Prostitutes are literally locked into the system as there is no way for them to survive without turning tricks, unless they are blessed with a miracle.
6- A prostitute loses. Everytime. She loses her life- she is forced into a new and terrible life. She loses her family- they typically will have nothing to do with her after this, and she does not tell them what is going on because she is protecting them from the threats her pimp has made against them. She loses her peace- there is no space that is hers, no safety. She loses her credit- pimps do not ruin their own credit, they ruin their hoes' records. She loses her sanity- the war is 24/7 for years on end. She does not end up with PTSD, she ends up with multiple personalities instead and this seriously screws her for the rest of her life. She loses her freedom- she doesn't get to make meaningful decisions for herself and she has to make her decisions either at gun point or at the risk of gun point. She loses her self- respect and dignity- being raped 20 times a night, being forced to act like she wants it, having to take money for it (so the pimp isn't liable for the transaction) then having to turn the money over to him. Wow. She loses her credibility- nobody will listen to her. She says she was raped- the law says it was consentual. She says she wants out- organizations say we know you will just go back. She says I'm not a criminal. The law says you are the only criminal party in this situation. The John gets a $50 fine, the pimp gets off scott free, the prostitute gets $2,000 in fines (which she will have to make commitments in order for the pinp to cover), jail time, and a 99 year sex offender status.
7- The only thing that will fix this situation is to reverse that model. Make selling sex legal- we have to decriminalize the victims, and make buying sex illegal. Swap the consequence, but with modifications. If the prostitute is 18 or older, make it jail time, and a $2,000 fine, and a 99 year sex offender status. It is only fair that the consequence be equal. But if the prostitue is under 18, call it what it is. Convict the offender of child rape. If the child was beaten, as often is the case, convict the offender of child battery. If the prostitute was murdered, convict the offender of murder. Give them the standard punishment and then add to it punishments for child rape and battery, and murder. Personally, I think that sterilization should be the consequence for a first offense- to prevent them impregnating a completely helpless child as they have already proved their willingness to do so, and the ruination of a new life. This may sound crazy but it is fair- and it would solve the problem pretty quick. The things that these men do to young girls is beyond comprehension. They hire the time with the girl(s)/boy(s), and live out their sick fantasies with her/him/them, including all kinds of violence, torture, and even murder. In Thailand, it is common for this treatment to last for a month at a time. In all places, it is not uncommon for their fantasies to include murder. Then they hire a replacement. These girls are literally expendable. The pornography industry feeds the problem by creating these violent and cruel fantasies that johns then want to act out. As long as the consequence is minor, this will continue to be a huge problem.
8- The pornography lobby is the second most powerful lobby in the US, only second to the tobacco industry. The current laws make selling sex illegal and buying sex legal. Why, you might ask? Because lawmakers want to protect prostitution and pornography because they are users. Recently, South Carolina made it legal for lobbyists to buy sexual favors for politicians. This is so clearly a bad idea on many levels. Not only are they legitimizing the slavery industry by insisting that paid for sex is consentual- regardless of who the money goes to- but they are also setting the stage for unparalleled corruption due to blackmail, We are on the wrong side of history here. Prostitution is the US's new slavery. Literally. It is HUGELY profitable and the risks are nominal to the slave traders.
9-Most porn stars are human trafficking victims too. They have better living conditions if they are highly profitable, but they suffer from every other problem associated with human trafficking. There has been concern over a porn star's right to pursue this career, but you can't protect the rights of two people against the wholesale torture of 98 people! Come on, really?
11- Pornography needs to be an illegal industry. Completely. Not because it has no artistic merit, but because it is the source of misery and suffering too great to be ignored. When people fund the pornography industry, they fund human trafficking. The two industries are actually two separate parts of the same industry. Porn stars are usually pulled ffom the pool of trafficked prostitutes.
10- Pimps are sociopaths. In every sense of the word. They are charismatic men and women who are comfortable commiting murder, torturing children and adults, and profiting from their suffering. They understand exactly what they are doing to the point that they write books on how to better subdue, nullify, and strip their new slaves of their identities, and enjoy celebrity status for their ability not to give a damn about anyone. So long as capital punishment is a part of our legal system, it should be the consequence for a convicted pimp. It is only fair to the dignity or their victims for pimps to be given the fullest extent of the law because they are guilty of any and all crimes ever associated with capital punishment. When the height of legal punishment is altered, then that should be their consequence.
11- Women are pimps too, not just men. Just like in the old west where it was the women running the brothels, there are still women running prostitution rings. One might like to suggest that women pimps must be more concerned about the welfare of their "girls" but that is not necessarily the case. It's all about the money. It always is.
12- Prostitution and unequal pay for women are linked. If you keep women underpaid and helpless, then there will always be a source of cheap sex.
Perhaps you have to speak to survivors of human trafficking to understand the scope and the tragedy of the situation. But evil exists. And this is where you find it. This industry is very similar to a terrorist organization in the way that it operates and in terms of the kind of people who can successfully run it. ISIS's Baghdadi is about as good a person as the pimps that I have heard of- to include pimps' personal descriptions of themselves and their life's work. I have the same opinion of pimps, terrorists, and rotten fish in a hot car. Get rid of them.
I heard a firsthand account of a pimp who pretended to love a vulnerable girl without any support system in her life, and with serious emotional problem (he scouted for that). He swore fidelity and provided for her and kept this ruse up for months, thinking of it as an "investment" in what would be a lucrative "product" for him to market. After he had won her gratitude, her passion, and her loyalty, he told her he needed her help. "Of course, baby, anything" she says. Then he tells her he needs her to have sex with a man who will pay for it- "We really need this money, baby. I'm in trouble and this will save me". She says no, and he says, "haven't I done everything for you, I gave you everything I had. You're my one and only and I took the bullet for you" Then he beats her within an inch of her life. Literally. He tended to her recovery, like a lover, and said "'m so sorry baby. You I know I love you. I need you so much. It just drove me crazy when I thought you didn't love me back. Made me jealous." She forgave him, she promised she loved him and swore there was nobody else. She agreed that he would do anything for her and she swore the same. After her recovery, he asked her again and this time the look in his eye told her that she had better be careful. She was still entangled in a love relationship with him, and she was too screwed up to work that out, but she knew then that she was part of a very dangerous game. She knew that this choice was about whether or not she remained herself. She said no. He buried her alive. He buries everything excepting her eyes and her nose. Then he asks her again. Something independent inside her willed her to say no. Then he covered up her face with dirt and sprayed it with water. He left her choking and suffocating until she knew that she was dying, then cleared away the mud. Unable to move or defend herself, she looked helplessly at him. He looked at her coldly and said, "This is the last time I will ask you. If you every refuse me anything again, you will die." The choice was no longer about remaining herself. It was about remaining alive. She said yes. They always say yes. This is how the game works.
He branded her with his tattoo.. She went to work for him. The expensive part of his investment in her was now over and she was thrown into the mix with his other whores. She was broken inside, and he kept her desperate for attention, for acknowledgment. He gave her a gift or a smile often enough that he became her source of self-esteem. Her gave her special tasks to perform for him, praised her for loyalty to him- so loyalty to him became her source of self-esteem. He continued to have sex with her so that the real sexual relationship in her life was with him. He was thoughtful about this process- this is how the game works. This is how the money is made. He gave her a daily quota to meet which required her to sleep with about 20 people a night. He beat her if she did not meet this quota. He told her that he would kill her if she used drugs- all of the money was to come to him, not a dealer. She was to recruit new prostitutes for him, but he was sly to break her in. He told her that there was a young mother at the park with two little ones and it was getting cold and dark. He said to her "there are already men with their eyes on her, you know what is going to happen. Go save her! Go save those babies! Here is some money, go and take her to dinner!" She ran to save this girl who reminded her of herself. She ran to protect her from the gang rape in the park that was forming. She took the girl and the babies to dinner and received a text, "I know where you are, I see you. Bring the girl to me now or I kill you both" And she knew he meant what he said. He had executed other girls for less. She brought in the girl. Now she felt guilty, worthless. But she was driven to survive. He acknowledged her "success" and allowed her to buy herself a dog or a cat. This animal became her all. It also became the leverage that he needed to continue to control her. This is how the game is played. He told her that if she ever ran away, he would kill her dog. She knew what he was capable of. She knew that he dealt in very young girls too. She knew that if she ever squealed on him, he would hunt her down to the ends of the earth, relentlessly. This is how the game is played. He had taken her ID. He had taken all of her other possessions. He told her she would become a porn star. She said, "Of course I will" , knowing that the alternative was death. Then she cried to herself. She became a very famous porn star and people thought that she was living the high life, that she had arrived. She lived in his hell for years, until he deemed her no longer lucrative. Then he shot her in the head and threw her in the ocean. She miraculously survived and floated over the border into Mexico.
In the moment, seeing the havoc that he had intentionally wreaked in her life, the sorrow, and the torture that would never really leave her or let her function as a normal human being, I burned with rage. Later, I learned of a mass grave of dead girls in his area.
People speak sadly of the treatment of women in the Middle East and Asia and sorrow over their situation, and there is merit to what is being said. Men and women there do, as the Arab author Ghada Samaan said, ask themselves, "Is this a home, is this a society, or is this an institution dedicated to brainwashing women? What about the tragedy of a generation that retains only the useless portions of its inherited traditions? " She speaks also of the need for affirmation of the work that women do, whether inside or outside of the home- that the work that women do is not viewed as legitimate work and that they recieve very little remuneration for it. It is a problem in the Middle East. But it is no less a problem here, though the dynamics are a little different. In spite of the fact that prostitutes never get holidays off and work 6-7 days a week under terrible and unregulated working conditions, this is not considered legitimate work and there is NO legitimate remuneration. Even other women fear prostitutes, and consider them a danger to their husbands. Yes, there is a danger but, dammit, the danger rests with her husband! If I am fat, I am not going to blame the chocolate industry for making truffles! If her husband has sexual intercourse with a prostitue, how does she manage to direct her anger at the child who was tricked into prostitution and raped by her husband? Why not be angry at the man who brokered the rape and ended up with the money? Why not be angry at the idiot she married? Why, in territories where prostitution is legal, are the prostitutes regularly given exams to protect the johns? Why are the johns never tested? It is because these women are expendable. To everyone!
Last October, I was talking to my sister about protecting the right of a woman to be a prostitute if she so chooses. And she gave me the fish eye! As I said, there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. Muddy water. Septic, really. And I have just gone along with the process in hopes of finding the most useful thing I can do. I think that is the difference between a pinprick of change with big results and a castle in the sky with mere theoretical value.
March 5, 2015
I have looked over my critical path and laughed. Ah, sometimes I think I know something. Sometimes I make plans. And they really are just a rough draft, aren't they? People need love, someone needs a bandaid, people get hungry between meals, baby needs a diaper, there's an emergency or a traffic jam, the car won't start, or sometimes the plan just needs an overhaul. The final product will be beautiful and it will be worth it if the plan changes shape with the emerging picture of what we really need, and I've had to make adjustments at every step of the process. As a musician and a writer, it seemed at first that I was working backwards from the way that I usually work, but upon closer inspection, it is the same. As I write a song, I follow the emerging shape of what I am creating in order to pain the emotion or picture that I eventually find- but I always have some idea in mind when I start, even if it is only a key to start in. As a writer, I begin with an idea and I have to go where inspiration takes me, because if I didn't, it wouldn't be art. I want my project to be a work of art, beautiful and powerful.
Here's my critical path as I wrote it at the beginning of the semester, with notes about the current state of affairs.
15 weeks left
Week 1- Get the ball rolling on non-profit “The Safety Net”, find a dentist in Erie Pennsylvania and a dentist in Provo, UT who are willing to treat Laurin and Jamie on a pro bono basis ASAP. Ask dentists for advice about long-term solutions. (so, Laurin has had her teeth fixed and is out of pain. The dental council in PA has not returned my call and I have had no takers in Erie. At all. I even got hung up on once- not by a dentist, just a receptionist who had apparantly worn tight shoes to work and wanted to take it out on the world. As for long term benefits, I have discussed this with the Department of Workforce Services and it is true, in spite of what I had been told by survivors, that you can get disability and medical benefits if you are willing to get diagnosed with DID. When I last talked with Laurin, she confirmed that she refuses to be certified disabled. She said, certainly it is a solution if you are willing to go that route. Yes, it is. And I hope that she won't prevent people from getting the help that she isn't getting for herself by withholding information that she is not using.)
Week 2- Discuss with Laurin and Legislator Cosgrove what elements must be included in informational flyer. Begin flyer. Follow up on dentists’ advice to find dentists who will work with survivors. Point out that there may be benefits available to them but that relationship is not yet clear. (Had a bit of an upset here. In talking to Laurin for the first time, I got the feeling that she might have a need to remain a victim. I'm not saying I know anything, but I got that feeling. After negative response from dentists, I turned my attention to mredicare. Surely these women qualify! I called the Department of Workforce Services and it was immediately apparant that a mere informational flyer would not suffice. There was already so much relevant information that it would require a directory of some kind. And the information has continued to accumulate. I have not fleshed out my relationship with Mr, Cosgrove at this time because it has not been necessary, and he is a very busy physician who moonlights as a legislator)
Week 2- Pursue education about the relationship between Medicare and prostitutes. Continue work on flyer. (Discovered that medicare is potentially available to victims of human trafficking under the following circumstanced- they have a qualifying disability, they are pregnant, they are blind. Now, injuries from a gunshot to the head qualify, Dissociative Identity Disorder ought to apply. There is a 30-90 waiting period for this to go through and for disability to start, so that leaves us with a 90 day period of vulnerability that needs to be addressed. It is the issues related to obtaining housing, medical care, and income that keep people in. It is also the difficulty associated with obtaining identification. The Department of Workforce Services has a Federal program housed in its builing called the Life Program. It is funded by a Federal Grant under the Workforce Investment Act. It has a great deal of wiggle room and if a qualifying person (at risk youth, unemployed adult) comes into their program, they will help that person obtain their ID, they will help them earn their GED or diploma, they will help them find work, and they will reimburse their employer wages during their training period. This is amazing. This program can do the work of many. But hardly anyone knows that it is there, and I found it by luck and persistence)
Week 3- Share info with Senator Wyler, Legislator Cosgrove, and Laurin and discuss either implementing or creating resources. Talk to Laurin about the art project for the campus exhibit, agree on a project. Discuss with Laurin whether or not it will be necessary to have a second city to operate out of for survivors who are not safe in Utah and if so, what city already has some of the resources that we need. Continue work on flyer.(Sticking with just Utah for now, and definitely not creating resources. I am not building a community anymore, I am building a referring network- increasing the dissemination of available information. Once I learned how much was already out there, it became a waste of time to try to develop it)
Week 4- Talk to hotels about vouchers for shelter in the meantime. Handle the immediate need. (Did not do this yet, as son was very ill. It is beginning to look unecessary- Rock Starr Ministries has started a fundraiser to build a retreat for their girls, and HOUSE is a group working on a similar project. Anything I tried to do will only duplicate what they are doing, will not get done any faster, and they know what they are doing, whereas I do not. In the meantime, I found a place called South Valley Sanctuary that has available beds, does not require ID, does not ask questions about a person's legal record and only has one admission criteria- that the woman be in imminent danger. The 90 day vulnerable period is not a problem. Their Director told me that they love success stories and women (yes, just women) are allowed to stay as long as they need the support system. BOOM! As for the guys, there is a male survivor who is running a for boys and men shelter. It just got off the ground. This issue really is at its genesis and every solution I have heard of that is actually geared toward human trafficking is at its inception or still on the drawing board)
Week 5- Talk to UTA, Greyhound, Jet Blue, Delta, and American Airlines about vouchers for travel to get survivors to their safe beds. (Currently, Rockstarr Ministries and funding their travel. I still plan to make this relationship)
Week 6- Pursue education about the relationship between federal financial student aid and prostitutes. Make appointments with the LDS church, Catholic Church, Episcopalian church, and the Unitarian churches to discuss safe beds. Finish flyer. (This is one of the points where I laughed. Best laid plans. Safe beds being built, did figure out about federal financial student aid and the process. No flyer. I am working on compiling a directory instead)
Week 7- Meet with refugee center director and discuss operations issues. Meet with one church- take flyer. (I ended up conducting most of my meetings over the phone after several reschedulings. It was a lot easier for everyone and just as beneficial. I did call some churches and find out what awesome programs they already have)
Week 8- Pursue education about the relationship between SNAP benefits and other welfare benefits and prostitutes. Meet with the second church. (So, disability is a longer term program, but a person can get unemployment benefits and food stamps for 90 days without having to verify income. After that, they have to have a job of some kind for the benefits to continue. This is great. It covers that critical 90 period (excepting the time it takes for it to get going) This progra is truly dedicated in every way to helping and encouraging people who can work to get and hold down a job, and to provide help to those who can not work)
Week 9- Find program for prisoners re-entering society and learn what benefits are available to convicted criminals. ( I have left messages with the department of correction's public relations officer, but I have not heard back. I'll call again and see if I can't get her)
Week 10- Determine which, of the resources we need, we already have access too, and which we are starting from square one. Meet with the third church. (Have done this as a gap analysis, as per my teacher's request. In order to do this, I created all the categories of support that a person would need and then filled in the blanks. The gaps were the spaces left blank. The gaps I found were advocacy, safe and immediately available jjhousing, connection to benefits, and safe employment. I'll address these in a future blog)
Week 11- Meet with the last church. Contact the medical societies in Salt Lake City and the other city to discuss finding Dr.’s/ OBGYNs who will agree to work with survivors. (Unecessary as those who are willing to get disability can do so, and those who are not can go to the fourth street clinic.
Week 12- Find out how to discuss the same info with psychotherapists and chiropractors and start that conversation. (Fourth Street Clinic has behavioral health services, medicare pays for therapy, and no one has expressed any interest in chiropractic)
Week 13- Begin work on employment opportunities. Identify high turn-over fields that can hire sex offenders and begin discussions with employers. (This is handled by the WIA program that I talked about earlier- The Life Program. There is a website that directs people to convict friendly employers. It is . You choose the state that you are in and it will tell you who hires felons. Some chain businesses will have felon restrictions depending on the location, some will have restrictions as to type of felony, for example, violent felons restrited. Others have no restricitons. I was actually surprised how many there are. This is a good resource and needs exposure because no one, victim or not, that I spoke to had heard of it unitl I talked to the Life Program. This program is awesome)
Week 14- Talk to Savers and other charity shops about clothing, shoes, bags, housewares, and linens for survivors. Work out details for accounting. (I was waiting on hearing back from the department of corrections so that I could just piggy back off of their relationships. I still haven't heard back from them. I did not include this issue in my gap analysis, it is still unresolved whether or not this is provided)
Week 15- Talk to food vendors- maybe Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, and Smith’s Marketplace about gift certificates for food.
(Unecessary. The food is out there and it is available. The issue is getting that information to the hungry, and whether or not they are willing to be helped in that way. No one can decide that for them)
Okay, aside from the fact that I made two week #2's, it was really just a best guess of how things would go.
March 6, 2015
I was working on how to help someone obtain an identification card. Many shelters and programs require ID. This is a problem because a child who was abducted will usually not know their social security number, and prostitutes generally do not have ID- their pimp took it to disable them. In order to get an identification card, a person must have a birth certificate, a social security card, and an address verification. In order to get a social security card, a person must have a birth certificate and proof of residency. Residency can be established by a letter from a shelter, so the critical piece is the birth certificate, right? But in order to get a birth certificate, a person must have two forms of identification. So it is technically impossible for a person without their social security number, a birth certificate, an ID card, or a home to get an ID, a birth certificate, or a social security card.
This was a face palm moment. But there is always a solution. When I was living in Oklahoma, I found myself in a similar situation. I had let my driver's license expire and I couldn't get my driver's license renewed without a safety inspection on my car (that was the law there). When I tried to get the safety inspection performed on my car, I was told that they couldn't do it unless I furnished them with my driver's license. I went back to the licensing office and they said, no, you must have a safety inspection. No exceptions. Same story at the inspection shack. I finally found a guy who was willing to help me out and give me an inspection, just to be nice. That nice guy solved my problem. You really just need someone who will have mercy. The mercy office for birth certificates is housed in the State Office of Vital Statistics. They are willing, in exceptional cases, to help a person get their birth certificate.
Something interesting happened while I was calling around. It was this guy at the driver’s licensing office. I was calling to find out requirements and I gave him a typical scenario one of these girls will find themselves in and asked him if he knew of any resources that would be helpful. He kept trying to refer me to immigration, and then saying that they would have to establish nationality first, etc. I had tried to explain to him that I was referring to Americans, not immigrants, but he couldn't get it. When he realized what I was trying to say, he was incredulous. It seemed ridiculous to him that American girls are being trafficked- that was a problem for Asians, Mexicans, and Arabs. This made me think- if people don't think there is a problem around us, then they do not know what they are looking at. Why would they? If he thinks some black Californian babe isn’t a victim of human trafficking, he will probably consider the transaction “consentual”. If he thinks it's impossible for some smoking hot white girl with a southern drawl to be a victim of human trafficking, then he would have no idea where his money is going. And he's not likely to want to know, either, if he likes the service.
March 9, 2015
Regarding the kiosk in the Marriot Plaza, there is a plan now to have a victim of human trafficking work the kiosk, selling fruit and possibly coffee. Professor Goldsmith seems to like this idea a lot. It has taken my project in yet another completely unforseen turn but it could actually make the difference in someone's life. That is cool. Also, it is highly visible and that is important for the University, I suppose, to continue to justify programs like this. I just hope that after it is all in place that there will be no reference to her as a victim of human trafficking without her consent and involvement. Professor Goldsmith instructed me to call the 13th Street Market and see if I could get them involved- bring their name on campus and give them exposure as well as provide the source of produce and coffee either at wholesale, or as the employer.
I called the 13th Street Market and spoke to the Operations Manager. She was unable to give me the owner's phone number, but she thought the idea was a good one and she gave me the owner's email. Her name is Jennifer Zemp. I sent her the following email. I found it difficult to come up with the right wording but this is what I came up with:
My name is Marie Groberg and I am a U of U student working on a special project with the Honor’s College- and an offshoot of our project could involve your business, if you are interested. Over the next several weeks our group will be building an interactive art kiosk in the Marriot Library Plaza. It will be attractive, novel, and will engage the many people who pass through the plaza. There is a demand for fresh produce, coffee, and other healthy foods on campus. Through the Honor’s College, we recently brought food trucks into the Marriot Plaza that serve healthy meals and they have been very popular and successful. Now, the only missing commodities on the plaza are the fresh produce and coffee.
I would like to propose that, together, we work out a way to bring the 13th Street Market name to the University of Utah, and employ a victim of human trafficking at the same time, selling fruit, vegetables, and coffee at the kiosk on the plaza. The final product would depend on how involved you prefer to be.
I propose one of two scenarios:
· We use your name and you get exposure on campus, you would sell items for resale at wholesale pricing while I arrange a micro start up loan for her and help her get licensed, and she lives off of the profits of her sales or
· You hire her as an employee, determine hours (we can furnish you with the heaviest traffic times) and pay her a wage- and I provide you with information regarding significant financial benefits available to employers who hire victims of human trafficking.
These are the scenarios that I have come up with, but I am open to any and all options. Will you let me know if you are interested in discussing this further?
I am awaiting her response. Looking over it (again) I see that I took out the sentence about there being an emphasis on helping victims of human trafficking in the first place. Dang. I'll save that for if she responds.
March 10, 2015
I have been working on the organization of my directory. I think I have the categories down, and I just need to finish inputting the infor so that I can decide how to formalize it and make it attractive, accessible, and effective.
After class, I got a reply from Jenny Zemp. She was very enthusiastic! She replied:
This sounds like a fantastic cause and a great opportunity. I'm very interested in discussing further. When can you meet? I'm in the market 10:30-3:30 tomorrow and Thursday; Friday I'm open after noon.
Thanks for contacting me!
We are meeting on Friday at 1 PM to discuss things further.