City Buddha Launches 30 day Buddha’s Bowl Food Drive

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Larry Collins
(216) 397-5862
larry@citybuddha.com

City Buddha to launch Buddha’s Bowl Food Drive Monday November 24th

CLEVELAND OH: Cleveland Heights boutique City Buddha will launch a 30 day Buddha’s Bowl Food Drive beginning Monday, November 24, 2008. Customers who bring a nonperishable food item to City Buddha, 1807 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Monday through Friday from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Saturday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00 PM, beginning November 24th through December 24th will receive a 5% discount on their purchase, with a matching 5% donation given to the Cleveland Foodbank from City Buddha.

City Buddha owner Larry Collins said that he set up the food drive in response to the increased number of northeast Ohioans going hungry and the dwindling resources available during the holiday season. “We’re so grateful for City Buddha’s partnership this holiday season, especially as the need in the community continues to increase.  Now that high heating bills are about to hit households, lots of working families are going to have to make a choice between food and heat, food and medical care, or food and rent.  We’re doing all that we can to get food out the door to those in need so they don’t have to make those difficult choices.” Said Karen Pozna, Communications and Events Manager at the Cleveland Foodbank.

Only nonperishable food items will be accepted. The following items are preferred: peanut butter, tuna fish, canned vegetables, canned soup, cereal and beef stew. Donations will be collected at City Buddha, 1807 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, Ohio Monday through Friday from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Saturday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00 PM, beginning November 24th through December 24th. All donations will be packed and delivered to the Cleveland Foodbank by City Buddha.

Grim Statistics – Taser Death Toll

This week brought yet another death after tasering of an unarmed person. On August 10th, Kiethedric Hines, 31, of Rockford Illinois died after being tasered by police. His death is the 2nd death after tasering in the City of Rockford in less that two months* and that has some people (finally) questioning the city’s use of tasers.

Interestingly even though the preliminary autopsy results did not establish that a heart attack killed Hines Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia raised the taser safety issue.

The two recent taser-related deaths have some wondering if tasers are the answer. “If it was only one this year, you might’ve thought it was just the person.” That’s why she thinks the department should really think twice about using the weapons to slow people down. “I think they need to reassess the thing as to the strength and what it’s doing to people.” Rockford Man Dies After Being Tased By Police, WREX

Given Taser International’s successful legal challenge to an Ohio coroners finding linking tasering to death one wonders whether the coroner’s opinion was affected in any way by the threat of litigation from giant Taser International.

The Death March

Since Ohioan Kevin Piskura’s tasering and death on April 25th, in North America alone, 6 9 10 11 14 20 27 (updated August 12th), more people have died after being tasered:

340. April 24, 2008: Kevin Piskura, 24, Cincinnati, Ohio
341. April 24, 2008: Dewayne Chatt, 39, Memphis, Tennessee
342. April 27, 2008: Paul Thompson, 24, Greensboro, North Carolina
343. April 28, 2008: Jermaine Ward, 28, Jackson, Tennessee
344. May 4, 2008: Joe Kubat, 21, St. Paul, Minnesota
345. May 6, 2008: James S. Wilson, 22, Alton, Missouri
346. May 28, 2008: Ricardo Manuel Abrahams, 44, Woodland, California
347. May 31, 2008: Robert Ingram, 27, Raceland, Louisiana
348. June 5, 2008: Willie Maye, 43, Birmingham, Alabama
349. June 6, 2008: Donovan Graham, 39, Meriden, Connecticut
350. June 8, 2008: Quintrell T. Brannon, 25, Vincennes, Indiana
351. June 9, 2008: Tony Curtis Bradway, 26, Brooklyn, New York
352. June 23, 2008: Jeffrey Marreel, 36, Norfolk, Ontario
353. June 24, 2008: Ernest Graves, 26, Rockford, Illinois
354. June 27, 2008: Nicholas Cody, 27, Dothan, Alabama
355. July 2, 2008: Isaac Bass, 34, Louisville, Kentucky
356. July 4, 2008: Othello Pierre, 23, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
357. July 8, 2008: Samuel DeBoise, 29, St. Louis, Missouri
358. July 8, 2008: Carlos Vargas, 42, San Bernardino, California
359. July 14, 2008: Marion Wilson Jr., 52, Houston, Texas
360. July 14, 2008: Deshoun Keyon Torrence, 18, Long Beach, California
361. July 22, 2008: Michael Langan, 17, Winnipeg, Manitoba
362. July 23, 2008: Richard Smith, 46, Dallas, Texas
363. July 26, 2008: Anthony Davidson, Statesville, 29, North Carolina
364. August 4, 2008: Jerry Jones, 45, Beaumont, Texas
365. August 4, 2008: Andre Thomas, 37, Swissvale, Pennsylvania
366. August 2, 2008: Lawrence Rosenthal, 54, Hemet, California
367. August 10, 2008: Kiethedric Hines, 31, Rockford, Illinois

via Truth Not Tasers

Why you should care

In the future, in lieu of a boarding pass you may be given, and required to wear, a “safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device...” Yes you read that correctly – you, your child, your elderly parent, your teenager may be required to wear a stun device to fly.

Have you, or someone you love, ever been agitated or upset or frustrated at the airport? Consider the newly released TSA guidelines on search of electronic devices without cause for suspicion and consider that some TSA person could, without cause, grab your laptop, phone or ipod, and NEVER give it back. You would be upset yes? Maybe you would start walking towards them in an angry upset manner.

Before you do think.

There is, on average, a death a week in North America related to the use of tasers/stun devices. Given the potential that you may have to wear one to fly – are you really comfortable that they are safe, excuse me, less lethal?

I’m not.

* Ernest Graves, 29, died on June 2 (less than 2 months ago) after he was tasered by police responding to a domestic disturbance.

Eroding Freedoms

“New DHS policies allow customs agents to analyze the contents of laptops without any suspicion of wrongdoing.” via MacWorld

Americans are willingly sacrificing their freedom in the service of an amorphous war on terrorism. Fueled by fear we blindly accept unthinkable and unwarranted intrusions into our privacy, thinking by doing so we are protecting ourselves from harm.

History tells us otherwise.

Once the precedent is set for the government’s seizure of our persons and property without cause we are vulnerable to that action forever. Today the target is ostensibly terrorists or pedophiles, but the DHS policies treat all of us as suspects. The travesty of internment of American citizens of Japanese decent during WWII raises it head as a specter of what can happen to innocent people when the government is given unbridled power.

In simple terns – it is not what you did but who you are that triggers suspicion.

MacWorld reports on the continuing insidious erosion of our Fourth Amendment Rights*:

Travelers beware: US agents now have the authority to seize and retain laptops indefinitely, according to a new policy detailed in documents issued by the US Department of Homeland Security.

As part of border search policy, government agents are now authorized to seize electronic devices and inspect documents in them, the document states. The electronic devices might include laptops, cell phones, portable music players or storage devices such as portable hard drives. US border agents can seize iPods, iPhones, laptops, Agam Shah, August 4, 2008.

Tip of the hat to @billfishkin for the link

*Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. LIT, Cornell Law Information Institute

Instructions from the Cook – Review

During the arms race that dominated the 70’s and 80’s a friend of mine remarked something to the effect that “to accomplish change requires the intellectual ability to both accept that the situation is hopeless at the same time you believe it can be changed.” This statement haunted me for years, because if I focused on the gravity of the world’s problems, I immediately became overwhelmed and doubtful of my ability to make a difference. I felt powerless, and, if the cynicism and apathy of my generation is any indicator, I was not alone.

We regarded making change a difficult and complex task. We ordered studies, studies that took years before they told us what we already knew, things needed to change. Oh, and they also told us that change takes years and lots of money.

But what if we were wrong? What if change is as simple as making soup?

Instructions from the Cook, says it is.

Instructions from the Cook

Instructions from the Cook

Beautiful it its simplicity, Instructions from the Cook, offers relief from over intellectualized studies that use double speak and diagrams to explain the depth of our problems before offering expensive solutions that seem out of reach. Inspired by the work of Peter Block, authors George Nemeth and Jack Ricchiuto offer a model for action based upon community building through “improbable collaborations” where people come together from diverse groups to join in new models of conversation. In their words:

When a community is vital, people know each other, look out for each other, connect each other, barter with each other, and engage each other. We don’t need to order complex studies to notice; they are obvious just living in the community.

When a community is vital, people don’t wait for institutional or political leaders to make this happen. They continuously take and share responsibility for being the kind of community they Dream to be.

A vital community – one that accepts that what appears to be reality, is only one view of it, that things happen in their time, that there is more than one possible solution, and that no matter what our reality is now, we can still achieve what is possible – is a community open to new conversations free from negativity and burdened expectations. These new conversations exploring our collective best future, small experiments on incremental change towards that best future utilizing the resources, talents and assets members bring to the table, as well as inviting new partners who share our goals, replace old conversations of victimization and problems.

The model is explained through recipes. Much like making the Stone Soup recounted in the book’s first page you start with the pot, your community, add your dream, then add a small experiment of that dream along with member resources and the contributions of others who are inspired to contribute to your creation. Recipes such as “Boarded Up Solar Houses” show how small steps build change, small change to be sure, but with each step more of the community is engaged, connected and cared for through open hearted sharing of resources.

Reflecting upon some of the community groups and nonprofits I have been involved with in the past, I have deep appreciation for anything that teaches possibility and, more importantly, respect for the diverse talents people bring to the table.

Nemeth and Ricchiuto are not naive; underlying the simplicity of their prose is a deep recognition of the magnitude of the problems we face. They show us how to start, where we are right now, and that makes this little book a gem.

Instructions from the Cook is available from Designing Life Books.

Support Chef Annie Chiu’s (Sun Luck Garden) Recovery

Chef Annie Chiu, who has delighted Cleveland with her wonderful restaurant Sun Luck Garden, had to undergo emergency heart surgery.  Cleveland’s culinary rock starts have come together to support her recovery and to make it possible for Sun Luck Garden to reopen when Annie is well.

Join the delicious fun of doing good where you live with Friends of Annie on Monday 7/28 at Sarava in Shaker Square.

Our local chefs and their restaurants not only feed us, they give us a place to celebrate our special events, often at the expense of their families and their health. Chefs work long and grueling hours in an industry where margins are small and excellence is demanded – please join me in making sure that Annie knows that the community is grateful for her years of dedication.

Poverty, Compassion and Advocacy

The greatest gift of poverty is compassion – this is something I know and carry in my heart. No one had to teach me. I have always known that “not having” does not mean “not worthy.”

My mom immigrated here. She has never been one prone to excess, except in the area of hard work. My father was ill, a lot, and with mental illness, which in the 50’s and 60’s (not so much unlike today) was not something openly discussed. My birth coincided with one such collapse which resulted in his hospitalization at a state hospital where he received electroshock therapy (without anesthesia) while she tried to keep body and soul together with a 6 year old, a 9 month old and an infant (me). I must have absorbed her sadness and desperation through my pores, because I cannot remember a time when I didn’t understand with every fiber of my being what it meant to be poor. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t feel the drive to make a difference.

Over the past months I have been seeking employment that combines a passion for advocacy born out of my childhood experience with my unique educational background. One of the things they tell you in law school is that if you don’t want to practice law, you can do anything. A law degree opens doors. This may or may not be true – I remain optimistic. I must comment, however, that being a lawyer does not equal being employed.

And notwithstanding all the job advertisements seeking creative problem solvers, being an outside the box (sometimes, even an outside the building) thinker doesn’t necessarily open doors. Which is odd, because everyone agrees that the same old approaches aren’t working. Recently I applied for a job for which I am well suited, if I must say so myself, which I must since they didn’t call. The reason I am told, through intermediaries, is that my skill set is not “exactly” on point. I don’t have the exact experience. The position, so says the ad, requires team building, problem solving, decision making, persuading, public speaking – all skills I have honed through years of legal practice, volunteering, parenting and living.

I am an advocate; it is what I do. I know the stories behind the faces and I can feel, and communicate, what needs to be said to move people to action. But getting in the door is proving difficult. No doubt the folks who have these jobs are well qualified but I wonder, do they really know the difference between policy and action, and how urgent a need there is for change.

I do, intimately.

Statistics and Stories Behind the Financial Crisis

The statistics are staggering, but they reflect only a part of the unemployment picture. Self employed consultants, lawyers and other professionals dependent on one or two important clients do not qualify for unemployment benefits when they lose those clients, thus do not factor into most unemployment statistics.

Counted or not, they are no less unemployed. And for the very marginally employed, especially if you are single, there are few bright spots. Assistance is not available where you have even a tiny source of income. They don’t call it the poverty level for nothing.

The cost of looking for work, especially professional or managerial type positions, is substantial. Networking costs money. Trying to look good costs money. When you are living on a shoestring the cost of a haircut, a cup of coffee or parking at downtown networking event is often out of reach. When you factor in the cost of keeping a roof over your head, the utilities on, food for your family and gasoline for your car – staying afloat is a daunting task.

Each day of unemployment generates more debt. Late fees on car payments, phone bills and the like are astronomical; each month a bill is not paid adds to debt. This is why Bill Callahan’s post on the flaw in the foreclosure compromise bill is so important. If you are lucky enough to get a job after a prolonged period of unemployment the amount of debt can overwhelm what is most likely a lower salary. Bankruptcy offers the possibility for a fresh start. The importance of keeping your home in rebuilding a life cannot be overstated. But the Bankruptcy Court cannot offer you restructuring or deferment on your home mortgage. If you have a second home or a boat you could get that – but not for the home you need to live.

This is insanity. McCain made a statement intimating that the need for foreclosure assistance is the result of borrowers acting irresponsibly. When you have a job and buy a house you can pay your mortgage. When you lose your job and have to choose between food and the mortgage, you most likely will choose food and not pay the mortgage. This isn’t irresponsible – this is having no choice.

Bankruptcy and credit reporting reform is essential to solving the foreclosure crisis. Unless you have lived through long term unemployment you have no idea of the hardship encountered when you try to get back on your feet. Credit dictates everything – banking, insurance and sometimes even your search for a job. Almost to a person those in government, democratic or republican, have never experienced what many Americans are living through in this economic downturn. If they were challenged to live on the income available to the average unemployed American for a month of two, maybe they would begin to understand. It worked to bring awareness to hunger.

For middle class professionals the stigma of job loss and poverty is profoundly isolating. Drive through any suburb. What you see may look affluent and stable, but I guarantee you, behind those doors are families in crisis. Families struggling to pay their bills, put food on their table and gasoline in their cars. They don’t go to sleep fearing a 3 AM call to the White House about terrorism; they worry about the grinding noise in the driveway (is their car being repossessed) or the power surge that makes them think the electricity is being turned off.

People need to look at what is happening in their neighborhoods – I live in an upper middle class suburb. Many of my neighbors are hanging on by a shoestring. There are five houses empty on my block – their owners moved suddenly. What do you think happened? I think job loss and foreclosure.

People need to tell their stories, without shame.

The Statistics

CNN Money.com

The Labor Department now estimates that the economy has shed 232,000 jobs in the first three months of this year.

The revisions are the real surprise in the report,” said John Silvia, chief economist for Wachovia. “If we had known it was anything like that, there would not have been any debate going on about whether we were in a recession. It’s pretty stark.”

The job losses were widespread, with the battered construction sector losing 51,000 jobs and manufacturing employment falling by 48,000. But there were also losses in key service sector industries. Retail employment dropped by 12,000 jobs, and business and professional service employers cut staff by 35,000. …

The unemployment rate jumped to 5.1% from 4.8% in February. The new reading is the highest level since September 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Economists had forecast that unemployment would rise to 5%.The unemployment rate is based on a separate survey of households, rather than the employer survey that produces the closely watched payroll number.

The household survey gave an even grimmer view of job losses. It found that the number of Americans saying they were unemployed soared by 434,000, the biggest jump in that reading since October 2001, right after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bloomberg.com reports

— The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly increased last week to the highest level since just after Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. Initial jobless claims climbed by 38,000 in the week that ended March 29 to 407,000, the Labor Department said today in Washington.

The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure, rose to 374,500 last week from 358,750, Labor said.The biggest housing recession in a generation, coupled with mounting losses in financial markets, is prompting companies to sack workers and consumers to slow their spending.

The Stories Behind the Statistics

America’s Money: In Their Own Words

For Laura Martin-Wilson it is summed up in 3 words – “No Jobs Anywhere.”

I sold my house in Atlanta (at a small loss) in 2006 to move to Sarasota for a new position. In the process, I met and married my husband. He works in Tampa, and since my job was in Sarasota, we bought a brand new house halfway in between.

While the cost of living in Florida is much higher than in Atlanta, we were making a comfortable living and were able to pay the bills with no problem. Until January — when I lost my job.

As this is being written, I am awaiting the payout on my 401(k) – what remains after taking the 10% down payment for our house. After night after night of tossing and turning, it seems to be the only solution to paying the bills, and hopefully not having to foreclose on our home.

I am sending resumes daily, and am even looking in other states for a job. In our part of Florida, the job market is practically non-existent. I am 39 years old and have managed to maintain great credit. I feel like I may be going into a downward spiral, beginning with the distribution of my 401(k).

Rust Belt Blues – My Job is Gone Gone Gone

Youngstown author Christopher Barzak, sounds a warning to the rust belt linking to media about “Caught in the Middle,” the recently released book by Richard C. Longworth, senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former writer for the Chicago Tribune.

In an interview on Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview program Longworth talked about the impact of globalization on the cities, small towns, farms and factories, politics and future of the Midwest.

Cleveland got a mention and it wasn’t flattering. He says we have our heads in the sand, talking about bringing back what is gone forever. But, he understands why we do what we do. In response to a question of why the Midwest is still upset about NAFTA, he makes a critical and compassionate point; when we talk about NAFTA and its impact, we are really talking about globalization and how it has hurt the lives of the people of this region.

He also makes the point that just because we don’t want to face it doesn’t mean it will go away. It is the elephant in every public square in the Midwest, so we better start talking, and fast. Longworth points out that even though some of the potential answers to globalization’s problems are in their infancy, we are already behind.

Longworth doesn’t give answers. Some of what he says makes this environmental/activist/tree-hugging liberal wince, but he has got me thinking. Thinking about what needs to be done, both in the long and short term.

Education, collaboration, less worry about immigration and more attention to adaptation, nanotechnology and bio-science are his buzz words for action.

More information about Richard Longworth and the Chicago Council

If Poverty is Poison Story Telling is the Antidote

Research presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science documents the neurological impact of childhood poverty on children’s brains, especially in language and memory pattern development. In his New York Times op ed “Poverty is Poison,” Paul Krugman, links these findings to the vicious cycle of poverty evident in America.

Living in or near poverty has always been a form of exile, of being cut off from the larger society. But the distance between the poor and the rest of us is much greater than it was 40 years ago, because most American incomes have risen in real terms while the official poverty line has not. To be poor in America today, even more than in the past, is to be an outcast in your own country. And that, the neuroscientists tell us, is what poisons a child’s brain.

Krugman points out that we seem to have given up LBJ’s “War on Poverty.” Rates of childhood poverty dropped until

American politics shifted to the right, attention shifted from the suffering of the poor to the alleged abuses of welfare queens driving Cadillacs. In 2006, 17.4 percent of children in America lived below the poverty line, substantially more than in 1969. And even this measure probably understates the true depth of many children’s misery. Emphasis added.

Krugman’s observation that the “official” measure of poverty “understates the true depth of many children’s misery” is the most important sentence in the entire article. The “poverty line” is nothing but an artificial mathematical construct applied to a family’s earnings; by calculating how much a family must spend on food, versus their income, the government had a line for determining aid and developing policy. What Krugman intimates is that policies based upon these statistics ignore the larger picture.

Stated a different way, statistics, not the real life stories behind them, drive public policy. Had we looked at stories of life at the poverty line, we might have noticed the extreme stress caused by childhood poverty many years ago. Knowing the full range of impact, we may have been moved to more resolute and effective action.

Stories illuminate another critical fact; the stress of childhood poverty is evident far above the official poverty line. It is axiomatic that it takes 2 incomes for most families to make ends meet. If one parent loses a job, or either suffers even a small set-back, current banking and lending practices insure that economic stress will grow at an exponential rate. A child’s family life will change in an instant. It may look the same on the outside. The poverty of the working poor is often invisible, however, behind closed doors, the poisoning stress created by its isolation and fear is no less noxious.

And working hard has nothing to do with escaping poverty; it never has. Krugman states:

Mainly, however, excuses for poverty involve the assertion that the United States is a land of opportunity, a place where people can start out poor, work hard and become rich.

But the fact of the matter is that Horatio Alger stories are rare, and stories of people trapped by their parents’ poverty are all too common. According to one recent estimate, American children born to parents in the bottom fourth of the income distribution have almost a 50 percent chance of staying there — and almost a two-thirds chance of remaining stuck if they’re black.

That’s not surprising. Growing up in poverty puts you at a disadvantage at every step.

Krugman doesn’t offer solutions. He notes that European countries do more for the “poor and unlucky” with some success, however, rather than to urge similar action in this, an election year, he seems to excuse current presidential candidates from taking the issue too seriously.

… governments that set their minds to it can reduce poverty. In Britain, the Labor government that came into office in 1997 made reducing poverty a priority — and despite some setbacks, its program of income subsidies and other aid has achieved a great deal. Child poverty, in particular, has been cut in half by the measure that corresponds most closely to the U.S. definition.

At the moment it’s hard to imagine anything comparable happening in this country. To their credit — and to the credit of John Edwards, who goaded them into it — both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are proposing new initiatives against poverty. But their proposals are modest in scope and far from central to their campaigns.

And there’s the rub. By our collective inaction we are creating a new level of intractable poverty. We must speak up and goad our politicians to take action on banking, bankruptcy, and credit reporting reforms which will have an immediate effect of reducing the economic stress on families.

Overcoming the prevailing belief the poor somehow “cause” their condition, and that a lifetime of poverty is acceptable is a daunting task. In “Strategic storytelling and social innovation” Michael J. Margolis points out that reason alone cannot overcome entrenched cultural beliefs and move people to action.

A well-crafted story becomes the platform that allows people to See, Feel, and Believe in what you are doing. By starting with the right story frame, you accelerate the pace at which people will be able to locate themselves and feel drawn into your story.

To argue change, don’t rely on statistics; tell a story. Tell your story. Tell the story you see every day in any suburb. The story of a child who sees her parents only at the end of a work day. A child who watches while her parents agonize over whether there is money enough for groceries. A child who watches her parents place call after call to get car insurance only to be turned down because of bad credit, or charged such an exorbitant amount that the choice is pay the mortgage or get the insurance. Watch this child internalize the stress day by day as she sees parents’ frustration as they fall further and further behind.

This is the story many Americans are living, stories, not statistics. Hard working men and women whose stories need to be told.

This isn’t rocket science, this isn’t even widespread economic reform. This is asking our elected officials to open their eyes and look beyond the statistics to utilize more effectively the policies already in place and to take action to prevent corporate abuse of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

Make your voice heard. Tell your story.