“They helped us in our darkest moments, when the food ran out” – Mayor SvanteMyrick

Media preview

My local Mayor Svante Myrick was on Meet the Press yesterday morning. Pretty big deal,I suppose but it actually just reminded me that I never posted this incredibly moving video he made for the area food bank.

Myrick grew up poor, raised by a devoted mother but the family was forced into poverty because of his father’s drug addiction. For a time, they were homeless and his meals often came from a food pantry. In this video, he shares his personal story growing up poor and what it meant to him to be helped by safety net programs and the food bank. “It’s not charity, it’s an investment.” He points out that without food programs, children can’t succeed.

Because of his experiences, he has overwhelming gratitude and is passionate about ending food insecurity.

More about Svante Myrick here.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s okay to not be okay

 

via  inspirational collages

 

Today, I’m not 100% okay.  My Grandma is dying and my oldest son is now officially homeless. The former is ,in a way, a relief since she’s not been the woman who helped raise me for a very long time  but it’s still a difficult passing. The latter… I don’t even know what to say about that. He’s safe and has a few people who can give him a couch to sleep on during these cold NY spring nights. I didn’t even know he was on the verge of being homeless. When I asked if everything was going ok, “Everything is okay, Mom.”

I’m someone who will usually say , “I’m okay” no matter what mess I’m going through at the moment. I’m learning to admit when I’m not a-ok,though. It makes it harder to get support when you push people away who are genuinely concerned about how you’re coping with whatever crap you’re going through. If there’s someone who might be able to help, just admit that you might not be okay and get the help you need.

 

 

3.29.14 Link Love: More support for Shanesha Taylor

News and thoughts from around the web….

 

If there were negative feelings about Shanesha Taylor’s situation the other day, the majority chose to keep it to themselves and spare me their vitriol on my own social media. The support and love for Shanesha was plentiful. There was only one woman who commented that, ” No job is worth endangering your children.” It’s that simple,right? When I asked if it was better to not try to get a job and live in a car with children, she just restated that opinion.  Some people just have judgement and no really constructive solutions. She went on after that to say she would have taken the kids with her ( good luck getting hired that way) or CHURCH.

Somewhere in the Middle of Everything addresses the church idea….

“What about a church?”

They charge tuition. Some ask for an “in kind” donation, meaning that they expect you to work for them…for however  long they see fit…in exchange for their generosity. I’ve explained before how insidiously churches can treat people who they know are vulnerable. Yes, there are some good churches out there, but unfortunately, most of them who offer services do so at the cost of your (or your children’s) souls.

Aside from that, you get job interview calls at the last minute, you don’t always have time between the call and the interview to fill out all the paperwork or jump through all the hoops needed for child care.

Again, and above all, you have no idea what this woman did and did not consider ahead of time before she made this decision.

 

My thought on the church suggestion was, “churches offer free babysitting now?” . I can’t think of a single church in my area that has a drop in childcare,anyway and there’s a helluva lot of churches around me.

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“I Love Being A Mommy!!!” On Shanesha Taylor & Black Motherhood in the Age of Mass Incarceration – On the stigmatization & bigotry against black women and who Shanesha is as a mother.

The mugshot photo included in every single article,petition,fundraiser for Shanesha just made me cringe every time. That’s not who Shanesha is. As I said the other day when I shared Jill’s story, many women sent me private messages and emails telling me about the hard choices they’ve had to make like Shanesha. One comment on Shanesha’s photo: “I know that look. It’s suicide. It’s thinking about how your life means nothing.  It’s failure.”

As Prison Culture says: I look forward to Shanesha’s release from jail and her reunification with her children. I’ve been told that she is expected to be released on Monday and that her family has already posted bail. I look forward to replacing the mug shot photo that surely doesn’t capture who Shanesha is with a new one; maybe one like this…

Shanesha Taylor

 

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Teen Mom NYC ( @GloriaMalone ) storified her tweets from the other day on Shanesha, her own experiences as a single mother, and the appalling daycare situation out there (I’m quoted about “shitty daycare” )

Read all the tweets ~HERE ~

 

 

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On a related note:

AZ House budget has $900,000 for private-prison costs, but no child-care subsidies  

 

Lunchtime Links: Eat for 40 cents a day, use up those broccoli stems, and alternative recipes to boxed foods…

All the good foodie stuff around the web today…

The Prudent Homemaker has a decent  series on frugal cooking that covers all the areas. Not everyone can do all of these but if you’re able to put a few bits into practice, it can help.
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Introduction
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part One: Eat More Meatless Meals
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Two: Buy in Bulk
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Three: Make it From Scratch
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Four: Only Buy Food When It is at Its Lowest Price
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Five: Grow More in Your Garden
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Six: Glean
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Seven: Eat In Season Produce
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Eight: Eat More Soup
Eat for 40 Cents a Day: Part Nine: The Price Per Pound, or in Other Words, Comparing 

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Use up those broccoli stems – can’t wait to try broccomole.

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Something asked frequently here is what to use all the tortillas you get with WIC (besides the obvious) . There’s some good inspiration here : 5 Ways to Make a Tortilla Into a Snack

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Corporations are working to convince us that cooking from scratch is hard. Not. So.

I know,I know… sometimes the box is cheaper.Sometimes the boxed stuff is all you can get.  You all know that I know this . So, no shame if you can’t get your hands on the ingredients but if you can and you have the time, here’s some great ways to get the boxed stuff off your menu. Make It At Home

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Garden Pool | A nonprofit organization to develop and teach sustainable ways to grow food.

 

How cool is this?  A family bought a home with a rundown pool and converted it into THIS:

Garden Pool started as one family’s blog to document converting an old backyard swimming pool in to a closed-loop food-producing urban greenhouse and has evolved in to a non-profit organization.

The GP (short for Garden Pool) was a one of a kind creation invented by Dennis McClung in October of 2009. It is truly a miniature self-sufficient ecosystem. Rather than keeping our creation to ourselves, we have decided to share it with others. Garden Pools are being built all over the world offering an easy and sustainable solution to current food production challenges.

What a great use of space. I love it.

via Garden Pool | A nonprofit organization to develop and teach sustainable ways to grow food..

Jill’s Words: “I died that day as my family was ripped apart”

This picture showed up on my tumblr dashboard right after I’d finished reading all the new things in my inbox this morning. It feels like it belongs here. Today, I woke up to a few stories from women who have been in similar situations as Shanesha Taylor. In every story, if someone had offered help and a real solution the outcome would probably be vastly different.

This is Jill’s story:

 

  Several years ago when I lived in NC with my 3 kids, ages 6, 8, 11, I was working 11p-7a. My live- in boyfriend worked 3p-11p.(at the same place)We had one car. The kids were in school through the day and I would drop the bf off at work at 3 and come home to do supper homework and after school activities. Kids went to bed around 9 or 10. I then left the kids alone while I went to work and boyfriend drove home. They were alone less than an hour. My neighbor knew this and would watch the house.

But one night when I was working my boyfriend called me to say that police and CPS were already at my house when he got there and were taking the kids. I was devastated and my life hasn’t or will ever be the same. I died that day as my family was ripped apart. I left work and lost my job. I fought with the boyfriend and he moved out, taking the car. There I sat in my 1 br house ,brokenhearted and broke. Kids went to foster care but eventually went to my mothers because the judge said I was unable to care for them with no job and no transportation.

I started using drugs and attempted suicide multiple times. I fell down a huge black hole and only recently pulled myself out. Today I realize that I should have taken the kids with me to work, or begged the neighbor (who was the one who actually called CPS) to stay at my house until the boyfriend got there. But I didn’t. At the time it seemed like the only choice I had and it had been working for over a year. But it wasn’t enough. If only I could have afforded another car or a babysitter, or could have worked another shift. But I couldn’t and that’s what happened. I did the best I could with what I had and CPS ruined my life instead of attempting to help find a solution.

This story doesn’t have a happy ending. I never got my kids back and they don’t even speak to me to this day. And our lives will never be the same. We used to be a close loving family. Now we are broken souls living miles and miles apart because of a decision to go to work. So, fuck CPS and fuck poverty.

 

I was an Early Childhood Educator for years and therefore, a mandated child abuse & neglect reporter. I was required by law to document and report when neglect and abuse was suspected. Clear cases of abuse went unfounded while struggling poor families, often headed by single mothers, faced scrutiny from CPS on a regular basis. Sometimes, the report was made by someone whose goal was to be vindictive. Always, there was something that could have been done to help the family. Many times, poverty is mistaken for neglect. The system of poverty…that IS most definitely child abuse, but not at the hands of parents who are just trying to do the best with what they have and making hard choices.  Blame is always put on the parents making the hard choices. People will always have a solution that starts with,”She should have done…” or “If it were me, I would have….” , which are never real solutions, just judgements. I can’t be outraged at the choices poor parents feel forced to make while living in poverty. I’m more outraged at a system that ruins families and people’s lives.

Shanesha Taylor Needs Support ,Not Jail

 

Prison Culture» Action Needed: Shanesha Taylor Needs Support Not Jail -
Shanesha Taylor ,a homeless mother with 2 children, is currently in jail after leaving her children in a car while she was in a job interview. The children were taken by CPS and are now with family. A fundraising drive has been started to raise money ,first for bail and then  hopefully enough to help Shaneesha & her children.

Melissa McEwan  over at Shakesville has perfectly summed up the entire problem with the” bootstrap”mentality and how damaging it is for people like  Shanesha …people who are unsupported and don’t have help.
I’ll just leave this part here. I don’t know that there’s much else I could add.

The bootstrappers will argue that she should have found someone to watch her kids. Everyone has someone they can ask to watch their kids. No. Not everyone does. That’s what really having no help from anyone looks like.

People who don’t have family they can ask usually have neighbors, but Taylor is homeless. Or co-workers, but Taylor is jobless. Or someone they can pay, but Taylor has no money. With whom could she leave her children? There is no free daycare offered by the government—the same government that is trying to force women to have as many children as possible.

She and children need food and shelter. She needs a job to provide food and shelter. She needs to go on an interview to get a job to provide food and shelter. She needs to leave her children somewhere while she goes on an interview to get a job to provide food and shelter.

She doesn’t have anywhere to leave them. She leaves them in the car, because it is her only option. And she is arrested and her children removed from her care.
 

Nothing makes sense about indefinitely separating Taylor from her children, as punishment from her leaving them for 45 minutes. But criminalization is the only solution we have. We offer jail, instead of help.

~~ Full Article ~~

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UPDATE from Prison Culture:

 It always helps in such cases to increase public support and to gather our voices so that we are more powerful collectively. To that end, here are some suggestions for how we might proceed in support of Shanesha.

1. Sign the following petition to Bill Montgomery who is the County Attorney for Maricopa County. Share the petition with everyone you know. Can we gather 10,000 signatures by Saturday? Let’s try.

2. After you have signed the petition, directly EMAIL Bill Montgomery to ask that he DROP THE CHARGES against Ms. Taylor.

3. It’s always great when Prosecutors also receive phone calls. Please call the Maricopa County Attorney’s office to ask them to drop the charges against Shanesha Taylor. Be polite about it but suggest that resources would be better spent providing Ms. Taylor and her children with help over punishment. They have already suffered enough.

Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
Phone: (602) 506-3411
Hours: 8am – 5pm Mon-Fri

4. Are you on Facebook? Post a message on Bill Montgomery’s Facebook Page explaining why he should DROP THE CHARGES against Ms. Taylor.

5. Most importantly, Ms.Taylor and her family need funds. I was able to learn that her bond is $9,000. Donate to her Fundraiser and ask others to join you.


Re-grow your salad

 

instead of throwing them away you can plant them into soil and they’re sprouting again

that's the thing we need

first cut it out from the leaves

then cut a little from the edge but not too much

then cut it into a cube-similar - cut as less leaves and material away as possible but leaves do get moldy and then the whole heart will get moldy too and die

put it in wet soil so that just the tip looks out

put on a plastic cup or something similar to get a high humidity around the sprouting meristem

put the pot to a warm location and wait after a few days - 2 weeks the new plant will sprout

 

 

This is via passion4plants  , who also adds to the lovely photo tutorial:

  1. first cut it out from the leaves
  2. then cut a little from the edge but not too much
  3. then cut it into a cube-similar – cut as less leaves and material away as possible but leaves do get moldy and then the whole heart will get moldy too and die
  4. put it in wet soil so that just the tip looks out
  5. put on a plastic cup or something similar to get a high humidity around the sprouting meristem – don’t forget to give it fresh air here and there like every 2-3 days
  6. put the pot to a warm location and wait
  7. after a few days – 2 weeks the new plant will sprout

 

enjoy your new growing salad plants :)
I’ve tried it and it works with iceberg salad, romaine lettuce, butterhead, lollo rosso salad actually with every lettuce/salad with a heart

The nice thing about this is you only need a windowsill (or something near a window ). Even though you’re obviously not going to get high yield and put a major dent in your grocery bill just with this, I feel like it helps my mood to have something edible growing. If you have kids, it’s also a great science activity and if you can’t have any other type of garden space, it’s nice to give kids an opportunity to see how food grows.

3.25.14: The Republicans want MORE food stamp cuts

News,thoughts, and going-ons…

 

The Republicans have the balls to be asking for more cuts to SNAP. Yes,really.

In this 5 minute segment, Bernie Sanders lays out the picture of poverty in the U.S. right now and the insanity of the Republican party’s agenda. “It’s ugly”, he says. There isn’t a better way to put it. Inequality is widening and the immoral Right just push their class warfare deeper and deeper.

Al Sharpton  touches on the gross suggestions that poor kids work for their free lunch ,too.

These people are so disgusting. They purposefully are causing the media vilification of poor people. They actually pay trolls to create the focus on blaming the poor and distract from the true issues. 10 red states are also the poorest and have the most people who need food stamps.

I just can’t even….

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Fullscreen capture 3252014 104025 AM

 

Tell it, Prof.

via one-mandrinkinggamess

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Rising inequality forever? Thomas Piketty’s sweeping account of the “central contradiction of capitalism” nyr.kr/1dp847C
I
t’s a long read but worth it. An excerpt:

Piketty believes that the rise in inequality can’t be understood independently of politics. For his new book, he chose a title evoking Marx, but he doesn’t think that capitalism is doomed, or that ever-rising inequality is inevitable. There are circumstances, he concedes, in which incomes can converge and the living standards of the masses can increase steadily—as happened in the so-called Golden Age, from 1945 to 1973. But Piketty argues that this state of affairs, which many of us regard as normal, may well have been a historical exception. The “forces of divergence can at any point regain the upper hand, as seems to be happening now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century,” he writes. And, if current trends continue, “the consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying.”

In the nineteen-fifties, the average American chief executive was paid about twenty times as much as the typical employee of his firm. These days, at Fortune 500 companies, the pay ratio between the corner office and the shop floor is more than two hundred to one, and many C.E.O.s do even better. In 2011, Apple’s Tim Cook received three hundred and seventy-eight million dollars in salary, stock, and other benefits, which was sixty-two hundred and fifty-eight times the wage of an average Apple employee. A typical worker at Walmart earns less than twenty-five thousand dollars a year; Michael Duke, the retailer’s former chief executive, was paid more than twenty-three million dollars in 2012. The trend is evident everywhere. According to a recent report by Oxfam, the richest eighty-five people in the world—the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Carlos Slim—own more wealth than the roughly 3.5 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population.

Eventually, Piketty says, we could see the reëmergence of a world familiar to nineteenth-century Europeans; he cites the novels of Austen and Balzac. In this “patrimonial society,” a small group of wealthy rentiers lives lavishly on the fruits of its inherited wealth, and the rest struggle to keep up. For the United States, in particular, this would be a cruel and ironic fate. “The egalitarian pioneer ideal has faded into oblivion,” Piketty writes, “and the New World may be on the verge of becoming the Old Europe of the twenty-first century’s globalized economy.”

What are the “forces of divergence” that produce enormous riches for some and leave the majority scrabbling to make a decent living? Piketty is clear that there are different factors behind stagnation in the middle and riches at the top. But, during periods of modest economic growth, such as the one that many advanced economies have experienced in recent decades, income tends to shift from labor to capital. Because of enmeshed economic, social, and political pressures, Piketty fears “levels of inequality never before seen.”

djlineEven NASA is concerned that the rising inequality gap

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system

 

Now excuse me while I go pack my bug-out bag and go hole up in the woods.

 

Revisiting the affordability of “Grow your own food!” ….

[previously on this topic : "Why "Grow your own food!" might not be so easy for poor people" ,Part 1 & Part 2 . Also: The Privilege of Real Food ]

 

My friend Amanda was nice enough to share this photo of her sweet new backyard mini-homestead .

Here’s what Amanda had to say about this:

So. Telling poor people to grow their own food. Nine chickens $55, coop $255, gardening soil which I mixed with 50% Florida dirt aka sand $15 on sale at Lowe’s. Three large bins (I had the others and I know people think I shouldn’t use plastic) 2 bell pepper plants, 2 zucchini, 2 cuke, 2 cantaloupe, 2 basil, 1 each oregano, rosemary, thyme, dill $91 all from walmart. I’ve got $150 in feeding/caring for the chickens so far as I had to buy feeders/waterers. I’ve ordered fancy ones now, but that cost is only the basic plastic ones I started with. The kind you refill by hand every day from tractor supply. I can’t expect eggs til June/July. I had on hand: a drill (tub drainage holes), shovel, truck to move things, easy outdoor water access, garden hose and space. Unless someone has easy access to basically all that stuff for free, there’s no way even feeding the chickens seems worth it if we are looking it at this like the “food stamp police” do. I’m in love with my little side yard, but as I’ve been working on it I’ve been very aware that there is NO WAY IN HELL I could have done this when we were on SNAP. Also, that low fence is needed to keep the dogs from stressing out the chickens and peeing on my plants. It was the cheapest option that would work for my big dog and was $85. That total space is roughly 17′ square.

I forgot the $80 in concrete from the trench I dug and filled with quickcrete to hopefully avoid that) or some virus or the plants die…. I mean, it’s in no way a sure thing (as y’all know)

 

I am so frustrated that I have to have this same conversation over and over again about poor people and gardening. It blows my mind when someone shares their story of food insecurity right now,real time ,”There is no food in my house”-stories and the best words someone can offer is, “You should start a garden.”

Right. Because when you literally have NO money to buy food, you can go buy seeds/plants, gardening tools,dirt,etc etc etc. And then when do you get to eat? I mean…if you even have a place to grow stuff. “But you can buy seeds and plants with food stamps!” Uh,yeah….you can but when you’re trying to budget $1.25 per meal because that’s all the food stamps you have for a month, you’re not going to add seeds to your budget.

I’ve had this conversation enough (at least once a week for the past 2 years, I swear) to know that the counter-argument is that gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. Well, right. It can be inexpensive but that’s usually if you’re been doing it for awhile and have accessibility to some things that make it easier.

I just like to reiterate all this because it’s important for people to acknowledge this is not a solution to hunger for everyone. If you’re a fan of growing it yourself, think outside your own box before telling a poor person to grow their own food. Maybe ask some starter questions. “Is it possible for you to garden?” If no, don’t be pushy. That person knows the reasons they can’t garden. All of your suggestions is not going to make their situation any different. It’s just going to make them feel like crap.

I mean,dude…that one time I wrote about having no food and weighing 85 pounds? Someone actually said : “If only you had a garden.” When I said I wasn’t able to then, they told me, “If you’re hungry enough,you’ll make it happen.” For real.
I lived in a basement apartment underneath a liquor store with a parking lot as my “yard”. If only I had the magic of the fairies or whatever those things were in Fern Gully!  But honestly, it’s an incredibly insulting thing to suggest that maybe I wasn’t hungry enough or maybe I should have tried harder and I just wouldn’t have been hungry.

Now, if someone says “yes” to the “Can you garden?” question… ask them what they need. Do they need seeds? Do they need book recommendations? Do they need advice?  Do they need money for gardening tools? Are they close enough that you can lend them tools or supplies or even some actual physical help?

If they can ,support and encourage that. If they can’t leave them the hell alone and start looking around your own community to see what can be done to foster a better local food system for poor,disabled, and elderly people living there.