“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.


“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



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 ~





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 ~~


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.