We are returning for another Point A trip to NYC. We in this case is Belladonna Took, Aster, Gpaul, Angelica and myself, all from Acorn or Twin Oaks. On the way up i am reminded of our recent trip and the tales tangled with it.
One of my favorite stories is the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It has a contemporary Alice through the Looking Glass feel to it where figures of speech become characters in the story and a fair morality is woven among amusing chapter long vignettes. If you have a kid you read to and you have not read this story to them, you should share this together. Central to the story is the idea that main characters have a secret which they are not telling Milo, the hero of the story, and they will only tell him when he returns from his quest.
When Milo returns from his harrowing quest they reveal the secret about his mission which is “It was impossible”. But he could not be told this at the beginning of his quest for it would discourage him. Our experience of NYC is sort of the other way around. When we explain the Point A project to people some excitedly tell us “That is fantastic, you really should do it. And it is completely impossible.”
i am only beginning to understand this mentality. It comes in part from long term urban activists seeing all the wonderful institutions they love vanish with time. At the front line of chronicling the demise of the city is Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York. This blog‘s subtitle is The book of Lamentations: A bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct. This blog is also one of the best sites i have found describing gentrification (which is actually dead) and hyper-gentrification (which is the current genetically modified version of the problem).
When i asked one of our NYC allies what this meant, they briskly proposed this translation. “It means they are not going to help you.” Further elaborating they said “They don’t want to be discouraging you, but they are presumably busy with ideas which might work, so they won’t be wasting time on your plan, which won’t.”
We are definitely outside agitators. i find myself taking a crash course in New Yorkers. They often show up late, they have crazy busy lives (i have heard people – including myself – saying they were “double booked”, it was not til i spent time in NYC that i heard someone say they were quadruple booked), they have complicated housing situations. Many identify as artists and a surprising number express interest in having more community in their life.
Any insights into this crash course in urban culture i find myself now taking are appreciated. The best place to talk about them is this excitingly unfolding Community Matchmaker event in Brooklyn on Oct 18th.
Okay, this is just too cute
Originally posted on Running in ZK:
While I was working at our warehouse on one of the last muggy days of the year, I heard a noise that I assumed was someone’s cell phone going off. It sounded like an ice cream truck, though. I turned to Arlo and said, “Haha, that person’s cell phone sounds like an ice cream truck. When we looked outside, however, the noise was coming from an “ice cream truck” that Summer, Tim, and Anya constructed out of a golf cart and cardboard. They had ice cream available in coolers. It was suck a treat for everyone to take a break from working to eat ice cream on a hot day, and we were all impressed with the creativity of the project. Twin Oakers are great at executing clever ideas.
The Facebook thread was incredulous. Several people were completely convinced it was a joke. How could a group fighting breast cancer be taking money from a company which sells fracking fluids and services (an activity known to cause cancer)?
But not only is it not a joke, it has been going on for a couple years now and until recently no one was paying attention. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is this nations largest breast cancer fighting organization. They have been happily taking $100K per year from oil extraction company Baker Hughes.
But for those who have been tracking the Komen Foundation’s political evolution, this should be no surprise. In 2012, Komen chose to stop funding Planned Parenthood (PP), because they were “under investigation.” This was a thin rouse, which was quickly revealed for what it was, an effort by the conservative leadership of Komen to strike at PP because it provides abortion services. The investigation consisted of trumped up charges by similarly motivated House Republicans, and it went nowhere.
But Komen’s plans to defund PP exploded in their face in a stunning way. Individual contributions to Komen dropped dramatically. In the fiscal year in which they made this mistake they lost $77 million over the previous year’s funding, representing 22% of their total income. Komen reversed its choice to defund PP after only 3 days, but the damage was already done.
There are other problems with Komen. Specifically, only 20% of the donations they receive go to breast cancer research. Over 50% go to educational programs. If you know the non-profit world, it is far easier to hide bloated salaries and bogus programming under the “education” category than under research. And many critics think research is more important than education at this point.
And thus we add “Pinkwash” to our vocabulary. As Baker Hughes produces 1,000 pink drill bits to promote their campaign, there is now a petition to get Komen to reverse their choice, as they did so quickly with their PP foolishness.
Perhaps Komen has outlived its usefulness or is unreformable as an organization, and like Monsanto and Siemens nuclear division, it is time for it to die.