Arab Spring Meets Occupy Wallstreet

We have watched and applauded the demonstrators who oppose tyranny throughout the Middle East. Doubtless, these demonstrations have significantly impacted events throughout that Region.

Now we are faced with demonstrations in U.S. Not since the 60′s have we seen anything like this: Occupy Wall Street. Focused on claims of corporate greed and corruption, the movement labels itself as focusing on the 99% who do not share the wealth and opportunities of the financial elite.

This movement is garnering increased national attention. To date there has been no loss of life. Hopefully, that will not change. Whether Occupy Wall street is the beginning of a new political movement is uncertain.

At least for the moment, the movement and the response to it is building and changing on an ongoing basis and is shifting the national dialogue. With no tyrants to depose can it, is it, in any way entitled to comparison to the Arab Spring. Time may tell.

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Community Gardens Enhance Kansas City Neighborhoods

Community Gardens Enhance Kansas City Neighborhoods
10-28-11

It is mid-October. The end of the harvest time at many community gardens. The last of the tomatoes are still green, there are still rows of lettuce but gradually the beds are switching from vegetables to fall flowers or simply put to bed for the winter. The gardens, though winding down, are still lush and green. They add beauty in the neighborhoods where they are situated.

Urban gardens represent fresh, locally grown food. But they also represent the shared experience of working the soil–interacting with neighbors in planting, tending and harvesting produce. Community gardens offer families and communities healthy food produced without the financial and environmental cost of transporting the food. Looking forward, community gardens provide low-cost food to those with limited resources, opportunities to use abandoned properties to enhance, rather than detract, from the desirability of a neighborhood. These gardens can provide opportunities for individuals, neighborhoods and organizations to have a source of income from the sale of locally grown produce. Some sell food for profit to neighbors, restaurants or through farmers’ markets. A few donate all their produce to Harvesters or provide it to families of student “farmers”. incorporate gardens as part of community ministries.

There are easily 40 such gardens in metro Kansas City. They are located on main streets and quiet streets. They are on church property and school property. They are planted, maintained and harvested by students, church communities and restauranteurs. A very few local gardens include chicken and tilapia—yes, the fish—others offer berries and herbs, in addition to, or instead of traditional vegetables.

Many of these gardens are neighborhood gathering spots. A few have benches, fountains, and even tables. Live music is often a part of the weekend activities. There are also cooking and nutrition classes.

While the new breed of ccommunity gardens focus on fruits and vegetables, Kansas Citians cannot ignore the classic beauty of the Kauffman Gardens across the street from the Kauffman Foundation and the lovely garden adjacent to the New Reform Temple on Gregory.

All these gardens enhance the lives of neighborhoods and the overall life and health of the community. They help shift the balance toward healthier neighborhoods.

A year and a bit

A YEAR AND A BIT

It has been an eventful year with both joys and challenges as our lives change and grow. First, Meg and Jake were married on a beautiful May evening, at a lovely vineyard in Sonoma California.

Meg’s last semester of school was packed. She completed her research project for Brush Creek Community Partners, interned for Mid America Regional Council and served as co-director of the IRS Tax Clinic that assists low-income individuals prepare and file their federal and state income tax returns. She was also President of the environmental Law Society. Meg graduated from UMKC Law School in May. I got to “hood” Meg. That was really special for me.

Jake travelled back and forth between Kansas City and Northern California from March until July 1, when he relocated to a mid-sized town in Sonoma County, just an hour from San Francisco. Meg stayed behind to take a Bar prep. course and the Bar. In August she was sworn in as a member of the Missouri Bar and the Bar of the Western District of Missouri. Jake, Meg, and their two dogs, Lily and Cousteau, are now happily at home in California. Terry and I, and our dog, Casey, remain in Missouri.

Meg and I developed the blog as a way to stay connected by writing about matters of interest to both of us. We both like “shifting the balance” because we find that our family discussions often focus on balance in national and personal financial priorities, balance in maintaining health life styles, balance in our use of time, balance in terms of learning from and respecting the views of people across the national spectrum. We believe balance is an important part of individual lives, family lives and the lives of communities. Shifting the balance is necessitated by the constant change that is part of our lives–we grow, we change jobs, move across the country. We deal with almost constant changes in technology, individually and collectively we shift our lives to accommodate recessions, seasons, life stages. Change is constant, balance requires constant accommodation to that change.

Welcome to our blog.

Shifting the Balance

Meg has a J.D. in Urban, Land Use and Environmental Law. She focuses on maintaining the balance of community and environmental health, healthy lifestyles, and encouraging sustainable living.

My mother and I have decided to start a blog. For as long as I can remember, we have talked about everything going on in the world. Naturally, our conversations trend toward identifying problems and then brainstorming possible solutions. Overall, our primary objective has always been to visualize the world in balance.

Now, the tricky thing about balance is that you constantly have to readjust for change. That seems to be one thing people forget. Things are always changing. Ideas. Technology. The DOW. Politicians. People also change in the process. We grow up. We go to school. We start taking the ideas and theories talked about growing up and we learn how to implement ideas into action. First, we have to find the balance in the world, and then we have to figure out how to maintain it.

So here’s where we usually wind up. Our conversations tend to circle around the same things, the environment, politics, community, the economy. We also talk a lot about our dogs, affectionately referred to as “the kids.” Our family (dogs included), our community, healthy foods, excercise…these are all important components to maintaining a healthy and balanced self. The same things are important to a healthy and balanced community. Here, we will continue to brainstorm our ideas for how to maintain, or rather, how to shift back to the balance.