Let’s look at this logically: Coal Dumping and the Environment

So this morning, I heard something about the president signing a bill killing the “stream protection rule”, which restricted coal companies from dumping mining waste into streams and waterways. 

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about coal mining.  The only coal mine I’ve ever been in is the replica coal mine at the Museum of Science and Industry.  The story caught my eye for 2 reasons:  My mind immediately registered “dumping mining waste into streams and waterways”, and I recently met a woman who was born and raised in Appalachia.  In a conversation, coal mining came up and she mentioned how horrible it was when it was discovered that you could blow the tops off mountains to get to the coal…and the detrimental effects it had not only on the aesthetic beauty of the area, but also on the environment.  Here’s an article on the topic from Wired Magazine:

Blowing The Top Off Mountaintop Mining

But if you just stop and take a step back, objectively, you have to ask the simple question, “Is that healthy?”

So what is coal?

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Talking Social Justice, Human Rights, & Hot Topics

I posted this on my Facebook and it sparked a lot of discussion. Thought I would share it here as well. 

Good morning friends,

  So, I’m not one to withhold my opinion, and sometimes, a thought weighs so heavily on my mind, I just feel a need to share it. So let me say that this post is NSFW and could possibly be perceived as offensive.
So, I’ve seen a lot of discussion as of late about France, and Nigeria, and Kenya, and Beirut and I’m sure a list of other places. I’ve seen some interesting conversations, and criticisms, and they’ve had me thinking. That’s what I love about social media, it allows you to aggregate a lot of thought, and that thought informs my thinking, and often gets me to think and look at things from different perspectives. 
So, of course the events of France are on everyone’s mind, and tongue. And that sparks things like the French flag profile pic thing. And I think that’s great. I think it’s great when people want to publicly espouse that they’re feeling for someone else in need. I’m always overjoyed when I see that out of Americans particularly, because we have to be honest, that’s just not the norm of our society anymore. I always use 3 days after 9/11 vs. 3 years after 9/11 as an example of that.  
So I see the picture thing like everyone facing in a direction, and that is great. You’re facing in a direction, with your heart and mind in the right place. So, my next natural question is “how far are you going to walk in that direction?” When I say walk, I mean something that’s considered quantifiable action. “Are you donating money? Time? Making phone calls? Writing letters? Espousing thoughts and support on social media is great, but we have to remember that in reality, it’s effects are minimal.  
So a few days ago, there was a candlelight vigil at the French Consulate, as there were in many other cities, in support of the people of France. I went, and I only went for one reason; because I knew there would be French people there. I wanted to be sure that my face was one of the faces that they saw, offering a smile, perhaps a handshake, or a hug, and saying to them “Hey…I feel your pain. I can empathize with what you’re going through, and we want you to know that we’re here for you” whether that means just that hug, or coffee, or a floor to sleep on, or whatever. And with all the talk and discussion, and dismay focused around the events in France, I was sure I would see at least 1 familiar face in that crowd. But I didn’t. But, what I found funny, was that as I logged onto Facebook from the vigil, I saw people who lived anywhere from 5-20 miles from the place I was standing, actively talking about France. Now that shit just blows my mind…that’s just fucking maniacal.  
So, my mind just takes a natural step back and asks “Well, how far have you walked for human rights, or social justice, or the plight of foreign peoples recently? Every day I see people facing in various directions over the ills of others, but how far are you walking for them? 
And I get it. We get wrapped up in ourselves. We live in a “me” society, and if it’s not about me, then why should i give a shit, and honestly, that’s ok. But just say that. 
It just strikes me as odd…and truly as disingenuous. I often feel like a lot of people are living out other peoples consciousness’ and reacting in ways that are expected, and that’s what truly irritates me. As I always tell people “Be who you are, and live accordingly.” I can recall on several occasions saying something tantamount to “I don’t give a shit about the indigenous people of wherever right now, I’m trying to get mine.” And that doesn’t make me a bad person…it makes me honest. And anyone who knows me knows that I am many things, and I’m not the most egalitarian, or politically correct, or caring person in this world, but I’m honest, and if I don’t give a fuck about you, I will tell you I don’t give a fuck about you. There’s not need to pretend or put on airs. 
And of course, my mind shoots back to where I live, because in all reality, I don’t live anywhere near Paris, and while I feel for those people, my attention is always supremely focused on what is most immediate to me. Daily, I see people talking about Chicago, and what’s wrong in Chicago, and what’s going on in Chicago…so how far are you walking for Chicago? Writing letters? Making phone calls? Having group discussions in your home? Joining demonstrations and gatherings? Talking to elected officials?  
If you’re going to stand staring…that’s completely fine, but know that you’re standing and staring, and know that there are people out there who are running. Someone I talk about frequently is a woman named Alaa Basatneh…we are friends on here, but I’m not going to tag her because I don’t want to intrude or embarrass her. But, she is half my age, and does 5 times the work I do for the people of Syria. Google her. She has sacrificed her youth, at a time when she should be working a part time job at the mall and enjoying school and having late night coffee with friends, to support the people of Syria, and she’s sacrificed her own personal safety. (and there’s actually a documentary film about her doing so…yes, it’s on Netflix) She’s running a marathon at a sprinters pace. She utilizes social media to get the word out, and get attention to the problem, but she knows that real people have to get into real motion to create and sustain change.  
So how far are you walking today? 
Todays song mirrors the mood that this topic and thinking over it puts me in. I listened to it about 5 times on my job into the office. Enjoy.

https://youtu.be/LZwiIDOOk6U
https://youtu.be/C0h4HtIAIko

For Ms. Idella

So 2 days ago, a dear friend of mine said “You know, you haven’t blogged in forever.  I checked.” It struck me as a super sweet sentiment that she cares.  I promised her I would blog last night.

Promise broken.

I’m blogging now, before I head to bed.

So, I started this blog 2 months ago.  It originally was titled “Heartbreak and Lullabies”.   Continue reading

Wednesday Morning Thoughts

Was watching the video exchange between Donald Trump and Jorge Ramos, as well as the exchange between Ramos and the gentleman in the hallway. I then sat and thought a minute about conversations I’ve had recently about how popular Trump is, and what exactly that means for America as a whole. It immediately made me think about conversations I’ve had with adults and students alike, both in and out of the classroom, about former politicians who’ve run on platforms of hate and hate speech. Most notorious of course being Adolph Hitler. I know I’ve often found people finding it extremely hard to understand how platforms of prejudice, racism, xenophobia and hate reach national status. Well, now we’re getting a glimpse. It starts small, and subtle.

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The Unforgotten

I’ve been thinking of posting about this exhibit for some time now, but following the horrific event in Charleston South Carolina, I figured this was probably an appropriate time.

The Unforgotten is an amazing piece of art, that transcends what it actually is, into something much more. As I heard the news emerging out of Charleston, I knew 2 bits of information would be inevitable to cross the television.

1) The number of victims
2) The name of the murderer

And that is all people will really remember.  That is the train of thought behind the exhibit The Unforgotten.  In these events, we always remember the name(s) of the killer(s), and yet we reduce the victims to numbers, perhaps ages…but ultimately statistics.

So a group of people decided that they would attempt to change that.  They would make sure that the victims of gun violence would remain “Unforgotten,” by celebrating them as people.  The best way to make that impact…is to have them there, at least in spirit, and more poignantly, in a physical form.  It is that point that makes the Unforgotten so genius.

Now, I’ve had the occasion to see this exhibit twice.  It’s amazing striking…powerful.  I hate using that word “powerful”….it feels so cliche…but in this case it is so appropriate.  The first time I saw them, I immediately teared up.

The statues are, in most cases, wearing the actual clothes of the victims.  The statues were also built to scale, in terms of height and size of the victims.  I also had the occasion to be present when the families of the victims saw the statues for the first time.  Overwhelmingly, you heard the repeated refrain “That’s him.  That’s her”. The creators spent time to try and get the feel of the people, down to the way they stood, the character they would present if they were standing or sitting out in public.

Which is what makes this particular exhibit so very sad, because they aren’t sitting or standing out…and they never will again.  Most of the victims in this exhibit were teenagers, teens being the group most disproportionately affected by gun violence, although the oldest victim was one month away from retirement, and a police officer no less.

This exhibit will be on display yet again at the Annual Saint Sabina End of School Peace Rally and March tomorrow, June 19th.  If anyone has the opportunity to go see it,

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I also encourage you to go the Unforgotten website and read the stories of the victims represented in the exhibit.  Spread the video, the site and information to others.  Then, sign the accompanying petition on the site.  It will help to combat illegal gun use and gun violence.

Finally…in the upcoming days, you’re going to hear a lot of news coming out of Charleston, concerning the shooting.  And you will hear the name of the shooter…over and over.  Make sure that you take some time to see and/or hear the names of the victims.  In this situation, they are the ones who are truly important.  They lost their lives to a senseless act of violence, and we owe it to them to remember them, and to make their deaths stand for something more than just a senseless, horrible act.  We need to make sure that they too, remain #Unforgotten.