Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Oakland Front Yard

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I live a few of blocks above MacArthur Blvd and Fruitvale Avenue, a little house with lots of trees, huge Eucalyptus trees in the back. A couple of stories high they make creepy creaking sounds in the wind. We can’t afford to remove them or the 30 foot dead stumps so I plant vines on the stumps. We put the exercise bike in front of the bedroom window, it looks out the back of the house on the trees and stumps and the backside of the houses behind us. With the light off in the bedroom the dirt on the window glass is hardly noticeable, and you can watch the light change in the trees and street behind the house.

Fifteen minutes into my very brief very slow work-out an owl swooped down and landed on top of a stump and peered down toward my compost pile. OK, I might have a slight rodent problem but I also apparently have a biocontrol strategy.

Amazing the things we don’t see in Oakland, particularly the politicians. We have some seriously low vision or quite possibly blind politicians. Oakland has epidemic levels of violence spreading like the flu through our community and I’m getting emails from my council person about the next festival and great Oakland eats. Whatever the Oakland City council is smoking I want some. Even Chip Johnson (Chronicle journo and Don Perata lapdog) has noticed.

The fear, the frustration, the uneasiness, the denial, the grief, the pain and the physical damage touches us all we just deal with it differently. Anyone who thinks they can live in the middle of this much murder and mayhem and not have it touch their life lives, lacks either vision or conscious or in the case of our local leaders, both.

Politicians can build walls or bridges and Oakland seems intent on building walls, it’s an “us and them” approach. More police, more prisons, more condos, more yuppies and less poor people. Why fix the schools when we can subsidize luxury housing. Why take care of minority teenagers when you can attract people who can send their kids to private schools. Don’t fund the county hospital; have the hospital fund the County Government so they can put up prisons and billboards.

So what causes this type of “social epidemic?” How do you propagate such violence and despair? This isn’t a virus and it’s not spread by spinach, or birds or even dirty needles; the greed, the arrogance and the corruption of the Oakland City Council and the County Board of Supervisors fuel this decay. What we have is what you get when City and County government refuse to build and support schools, hospitals and community services which meet the needs of children, families and working people.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chiori Santiago Benefit

Chiori a Bay Area writer, artist and someone with a real talent for bringing people together is fighting cancer and medical bills. Insurance is not enough these days. She babysat my brother and I, her family lived across the street from us. Every boy on the block had a crush on Chiori and most still do. Come help an artist, a family and a community.

Sunday October 22
5-9 pm La Pena Cultural Center
3105 Shatuck Avenue Berkeley

Check or cash donations 10 dollars and up sliding scale

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Today's News

More on Highland's new infusion center, from Rebecca at the Tribune

Yesterday's News

Creating new services and expanding healthcare access is hard in good times. In spite the County Supervisors sucking revenue out of the Medical Center like swarm of hungry mospquitoes the Medical Center was able to upgrade and expand services for cancer patients.

The new face of the uninsured is well, middle class, middle income and middle aged. Your HMO has a plan and it doesn't include paying for comprehensive cancer care. The Medical Center's leaders have decided not to hide from the chronically and expensively ill. In a great show of moral as well as operational leadership they have upgraded and expanded treatment options for cancer and other chronically ill patients.

Read all about it in the Tribune

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Barbara Selfridge

Dear fellow victims of election-thievery,

I thought you might be interested in what I'm doing to try to fix the November election. I'm looking for future fertile grounds for impeachment, big-time.

1) I went to Act Blue, a web-site that lets Democrats craft their own little PACs. I gave money to a bunch of Democrats and progressives who each have a shot at flipping some Republican seat. I started with a list of recommendations from Barbara Boxer -- Jim Webb, VA; Claire McCaskill, MO; Bob Casey, PA; Jon Tester, MT; Sherrod Brown, OH; Sheldon Whitehouse, RI; Jack Carter, NV -- and then added Ned Lamont in Connecticut, Jerry McNerney in Stockton (the big show-down race in northern CA), and a bunch of other progressives I read about on the Act Blue web-site.

It was awfully easy and I suspect that the $5 I gave each of those candidates will put them in my pocket for the rest of their political lives.

2) I'm going to do my crib sheet early, disseminate it wide, and also widely disseminate the crib sheets of my friends (Nathan!). I really believe in this and wish that the pre-election period could be full of us sharing personal knowledge and debating political issues -- that's not the campaigning that needs to be reformed: it's what the big-ticket campaign financiers are drowning out. People have confused voting booths with closets -- we should all be OUT.

3) I'll sport an election bumper-sticker/yard sign. When I was a kid, my parents pointed at any car that had bumper stickers from rival candidates: "the battle of the sexes," they laughed, and maybe now couples don't share bumpers any more, but I think it's sad that people don't share their predilections Is this a democracy or a police state? (yeah, yeah, yeah)

4) I'll work on a campaign. My friends Melody and Stan are spearheading an "election sesshin" in which Buddhists and non-Buddhists (like me) move in together and use meditation and mutual support to sustain each other during the intensive get-out-the-vote work of the last two weeks before the election. Last year I joined them for a few days as they campaigned for Darlene Hooley in Oregon. This year they're closer to home, campaigning for Jerry McNerney against Bush-lackey Richard Pombo in Stockton, and I plan to join them for a couple of short stretches within that last stretch.

If you're interested in joining us, let me know. I'll send you a copy of the invite with all the contact info.

5) I'll vote. I signed up for absentee voting, which I don't really like because I like going to the polling place with Wendy and her dog and seeing other neighbors and inciting riots when I ask people if they expect a paper ballot, etc. But election day phone banking is really useful, especially for people who put off thinking about the election/reading the voter guide and then feel like they don't deserve to vote. YOU DON'T HAVE TO VOTE IN EVERY RACE, I tell them. (I'm so politically savvy!)

I humbly invite you to join me in all these activities. It's possible that as my friend Mike says, fascism has already arrived and we'll feel stupid looking back at all the work we did for an election we couldn't have won anyway. But that's like believing Richard Nixon when he said he was watching the superbowl and couldn't be bothered paying attention to the protesters and then twenty years later you find out that those protests stopped a planned nuclear assault. The Republicans are campaigning with a "Stay home -- Don't vote!" strategy and I think it behooves us not to agree.

----xxoo yr electioneering Bárbara

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Movie Night

New Documentary
"The California Healthcare Solution
California OneCare"
Grand Lake Theater
Thursday October 5th
7:00 pm
Invited Guests
Barbara Lee ( she speaks for me)
Ron Dellums Oakland's Next Mayor
& more politicos