Thursday, January 27, 2011

Homeless Census Luncheon, 1/27/11

Today, despite the snow and related cleanup efforts, Tri-CAP and the Tri-City Housing and Homelessness Task Force will host a luncheon and conduct its annual Tri-City Homeless Census. Many agencies and service providers are helping to gather the necessary data for the annual homeless census and street count.
It is important to count everyone for continued funding to provide essential services to homeless families and individuals.  This data is being gathered at the request of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of the Continuum of Care Application for McKinney-Vento funding.
The goal is to capture accurate, reflective, and meaningful data on homeless individuals and families. The data will be collected by many agencies throughout the nation beginning Wednesday, January 26th for a brief period. The census results help Tri-CAP apply for state and federal funds to continue to help eliminate poverty through education, housing and benefits advocacy, housing search, case management, mental health counseling, and substance abuse counseling.
Any agency or service provider that serves or works with homeless individuals or families can help by referring such individuals to a data collection site or event. One such event is the free lunch reception for homeless individuals and families that will take place on Thursday, January 27, 2011, between 12 – 2 PM at the Cyber CafĂ© @ Malden Square, 110 Pleasant Street, Malden. For more information, contact Fernanda Brito 781-322-4125 ext. 210

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day -- Northeast Finally Gets the Blast that hit everywhere else!

I took a few photos a little while ago, while the snowfall had lightened a bit.  But it started snowing more heavily again a little while ago.  Here are a few shots I took during the lull. 

Dogwood Tree outside our back entrance.  What might be mistaken for a fire hydrant in front of it is really a trash barrel.  It's hard to tell when it's buried in snow.

The fence is just over 5' high.  Everything is covered in snow.

The walkway beside the building has become a scenic tunnel protected by snow-laden branches.

Snow is even sticking to vertical objects; these fence posts look more like prison bars today.

I don't want to be standing beneath this tree when it drops its snowy load.   This is the park in front of Hormel Stadium.

At the very right of the photo is a lightpole and barely visible behind it you can see the wings of the wind turbine.

These two bushes look like a couple huddling in the snow -- reminds me of our homeless clients who do not use shelters; I pray for their safety in this type of weather. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Free Speech Carries Great Responsibility

Yesterday's shooting in Arizona is yet another wake-up call to America.  Our political rhetoric carries a grave responsibility to frame that rhetoric in fact and end the dangerous era of distortion, non-truths, vitriolic embellishments, and hate-based speech.

Regardless of your political beliefs, there is no need to vilify politicians, legislation, or programs because they are contrary to your own.  Fight against what you think is wrong - Absolutely.  Point out what you believe to be the flaws and mistakes - Absolutely.  But the language we use must accept the responsibility that accompanies the right to free speech.

Last December (2009), I blogged about the need for patience during the holidays.  The situation of that evening would have been aggravated by impatience because the woman I blogged about was dealing with a disorder that often controls her -- our patience helped her control it. Political discussions need the same measure of self-restraint. 

Between September and October 2009, I blogged several times about the debate over health care and in July 2009 I blogged specifically about Sarah Palin.  Did I contribute to the fray by calling her a whiner?  I examined evidence of her behavior and tried to frame it as to whether or not she was suitable to be our Vice President and even President.  Her behavior seemed to merit that label. 

In an August 2009 blog post, I had questioned whether Palin might be more accurately labeled a court jester.  I asked whether she was really working under the cover of being a fool -- one who is able to tell the king the truth without fear of harm -- or if she really were the fool.  I would sincerely hope that these questions and opinions would not lead someone to try to harm Palin.  There is a difference between raising questions about the intelligence and ability of someone to lead the nation versus vilifying that person.   

It is clear that I am not afraid to speak out about my beliefs.  The difference, I believe, is the tone of rhetoric.  I believe in reasonable debate.  Let's examine issues, based on facts, and skip the fictitious scenarios -- scare tactics -- that make reasonable debate impossible.

Recently, national attention has focused on hate-speech and bullying; just Google the topic.  While much of that discussion is framed in the context of anti-gay bullying, hate speech is hate speech no matter who is the target.  These incidents need to become the lessons through which we change our behavior and rhetoric.

My heartfelt sympathy goes to all those who were physically and emotionally injured or killed in yesterday's shooting.  While their families search for some solace, we need to put ourselves in their shoes and ask ourselves if we have become part of the problem.  

Update:  I just saw the Huff-Post (Huffington Post) article on Sarah Palin's map that has "gun sights" on  the Democrats she wants to unseat in the next election, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically injured in yesterday's shooting.  This imagery is part of the problem I blogged about earlier this morning.  Targeting people with gun sights on a map sends a very disturbing message to people who are already on the edge between reality and insanity.  While she has the free speech right to do this, it seems very close to shouting "FIRE" in a theatre -- it is not reasonable and sane.  Palin's statement over this tragedy -- "we'll pray for peace and justice" -- just rings false when she has sent such a vitriolic message to her followers.

We have seen, over and over again, that people can react as if they were merely doing what the messenger said and no one else would do.  So how sane is it to continue to in the very behavior that we know triggers such an insane reaction?  It is clearly immoral and unethical.

That's my opinion.  What is your opinion?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hello 2011 -- New Year, New Decade -- New Deal?

It's January 2, 2011, and that brings my mother to mind as today is her birthday.  My parents died in the early 2000s, but I was fortunate to have them around until their early 80s.  I still do something and want to share it with them, then remember they're not there to call.  So Happy Birthday Mom! 

I have no resolutions to share because I don't bother with those.  I do set goals for myself.  I review these throughout the year and don't have any attachment to a New Year's resolution list.  One goal I set for myself a few months ago was to change my business model around website design.  I'm pleased to say that I have two proposals out there that follow this new model; one which I wrote and submitted Friday. 

The need for this model was to make it easier to work with small organizations and businesses that don't have staff dedicated to these types of projects.  What I've found over the few years in these organizations is that decision-making is often sporadic and impulsive.  Rather than working closely with you to help create what they want, the decision-maker wants a quick meeting and for you to sort it out for them.  You spend time working through options and present them; only to wait and wait for a response.  Then they make another quick decision, often changing their original decisions.  Again, you wait and wait for a response.  The decision-maker sees something on the web and wants it, but has no clue as to how much they're changing the original design and your current execution.  It feels as if the project never ends.  What should have been a fairly quick project, for a set amount of money that the organization can pay, turns into never-ending small changes or even big changes that don't meet the criteria of the original project.

What I find particularly frustrating is that the original project would include features that staff and the decision-maker all agreed they wanted.  In the end, impulsive and sporadic decisions rid the project of most of these and the site becomes little more than an electronic brochure.  I hate to waste money, including my clients money.  I don't like stopping and starting these projects because it means using more time to go back in and review what has been done, how it's been done, what they asked for, what remains to be done, etc.  And when I review what they originally asked for against what they're now saying, they've actually reduced the functionality of their website. 

With the change in my business model, I'm really trying to change the executive model.  The problem with these projects is the executive in charge.  So that's where real change has to occur.  It means I probably have to spend a little more time with the executive during the process, pushing them a bit to either stick with decisions they've already made, or at least acknowledge that there's a cost associated with changing their minds partway through the project. 

It will be interesting to see if this better model works as well for my clients as it should for me.  Helping busy executives exercise a little discipline and consider the costs and consequences of sporadic and impulsive decision-making should be a good thing.  I hope they see it that way once we've gotten started!

Happy New Year -- I hope your year brings your goals and projects to fruition!