Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ripples from the other side of the world

Wherever you are in this world, you can make a difference! Today, I want to tell you some stories from Singapore because I was very moved by them myself. Singapore is a very young and diverse country with many languages, religions, and cultures. Although English is commonly spoken, so are Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and a number of other Chinese dialects, including Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese. The video I want you to see is in English. Click HERE to watch.
 
I love seeing programs where folks do good things for others.  If you noticed at the end of the video, there was a link to an organization in Singapore called Care and Share, a national fund-raising and volunteerism movement led by Community Chest.  There are some heartwarming stories on the Community Chest website at http://www.comchest.org.sg that I hope you will check out.  There is also more about Care and Share HERE.  Share this with your friends too (especially on twitter or facebook).
 
If you are just reading along and did not watch the video I mentioned above, I urge you to go back and take a look at it.  In it, a family struggles to pay for their purchases. A young man is reminded then of his childhood and does something quite remarkable.  Watching it warmed my heart.  It's right HERE - you can have your heart warmed too!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Walking across the country for equality

One of the most incredible people I have ever met is Helene de Boissiere-Swanson, Founder of Katrina's Dream. There are so many things that make Helene the amazing woman that she is. I suppose the top of that list is love. I never have met anyone who is so full of love. I haven't known her for that many years, so I don't know how much might have come from her late husband or from her in-laws. I do know that the entire family is one where love has always been present.

I first met Helene's father-in-law, Father George Swanson, an Episcopal priest serving in New England, many years ago. Father George's late wife Katrina, was also an Episcopal priest. In fact, as one of the Philadelphia 11, she was one of the very first women to be a priest in the Episcopal Church back in 1974. So perfect too for her to be among the first because justice and equality were so important to her. When I met George and Katrina's son William, I could see immediately that he was from that family. He was full of love and commitment. Meeting William's wife Helene was an almost magical moment. The passion and the love were so visible! After Katrina's death from cancer, her husband with son William and daughter-in-law Helene founded Katrina's Dream.

Now I could spend a lot of time telling you amazing things about Katrina's Dream and about things that all three of them have done. I could tell you about Olof’s Brothers’ Love Feast and some truly inspiring things in Sausalito, California. There are many stories to tell though and I want to get back to Helene, so please check out some of the facts yourself by visiting the Katrina's Dream website at http://www.katrinasdream.org/ and consider making a donation to them too (which you can do through the website).

Last year there was sadness once again when William died in an accident, leaving Helene with the whole weight of an equality mission that she had been working on since long ago conversations with Katrina. Father George Swanson is in advanced years living on the East Coast, and still cares deeply about their mission too, but isn't physically able to do as much as he once did. Now Helene seems to be superwoman! Nothing slows her down and she certainly has had some obstacles in her way. She has also had a lot of supporters. Right now she is walking across the country!

Some people might not realize it, but the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was never passed! On March 8, 2014 Helene launched her cross country pilgrimage for the ERA on International Women’s Day with a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Since then she has been going from town to town and from church to church and politician to politician and an effort to FINALLY get the ERA passed.

If you would like to give her a hand (and there are a number of ways you can do that), click HERE.  You can also follow her remarkable journey at http://deboissiere.wordpress.com/

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Meanwhile, back in Hong Kong

We ended last month and began this one by writing here about what has been going on in Hong Kong. Democracy would be dearly welcomed by so many there, but the movement that was capturing world-wide attention just a few weeks ago, seems less popular now. Just yesterday, some government officials hinted that there might be room for maneuvering over how a committee that nominates Hong Kong's leader is selected, and that changes to elections could take place after 2017. Will this be enough? Of course even this might not happen.
 
Freedom is such a wonderful thing and many in the United States and Canada take it for granted.  Hong Kong of course has it much better than many parts of the world, to be sure, but when the British left there were changes and there continue to be changes.  That is at the heart of what this is all about.  The people of Hong Kong are not making the decisions, the Chinese government is making those decisions.
 
For a while things looked peaceful and there was hope that something positive was going to happen.  People around the world were dressing in yellow and holding up their umbrellas in solidarity.  Much of that worldwide support though seems to have faded.  News coverage was very light all along, although for a few short days it seemed to be increasing.
 
The bottom line is this:  Hong Kong is still under Chinese rule, communist rule.  It is not a democratic state.  People who live there, like people everywhere, deserve to be free.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

G is for Gullicksen

You might have thought from his thick Boston accent that Ted Gullicksen, leader of the San Francisco Tenants Union, was an outsider, but you would be so wrong. Although this was not the place of his birth, San Francisco very quickly became a place he loved and a place that loved him. As news came late yesterday of his unexpected death, great sadness came too in this place he has called home for the past 30 years. 
 
With his little dog Falcor, you would see him at meetings and protests in support of tenants rights and working hard on campaigns like Proposition G.  Ted was an organizer and a leader and he was so skilled that even those who disagreed with him, respected him.
 
Urging voters to Yes on PROP G  and stop the Ellis Act evictions was the big thing Ted was working on when his life ended yesterday.  Even though the letters assigned to propositions are assigned in order and have nothing at all to do with the subject matter, it seems somehow appropriate that Ted Gullicksen's last campaign should be Proposition G.  That G could easily stand for Gullicksen.  There will be news reports and testimonials today about Ted and likely there will be some memorials in the days ahead.  He will deserve all of the praise because he was truly a hero, but the best tribute we can give him is an overwhelming passage of Prop G.
 
Rest in peace Ted.  Nobody will evict you from heaven.  Thanks for fighting for the little guy and for all of your love.
 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

an abundance of things to write about

There is an abundance of things to write about these days. I suppose I should simply pick one thing and go with it, but I can be a bit difficult when I see so many wonderful things happening. I want to tell you more about Dan Choi's exciting energy and his plans for the future and I want to tell you the very latest about marriage equality where there seems to be new information every single day and I want to write more about many people who are making a difference every day like a woman who is walking all the way across the United States to promote the Equal Rights Amendment.  That is just a tiny bit of the huge amount of things I want to say.
 
I'm a pretty optimistic person.  I'm very sure the San Francisco Giants are again headed to the World Series, for example.  Still, there are times when the negativity in our world can be not only depressing, but almost overwhelming.  The situation in Hong Kong and the Ebola outbreak and the continued fighting in the Middle East and the hate crimes that keep being committed are all very depressing.  "Where is the good in this world?" some might ask.  Well right now I am seeing an abundance of it, and that makes me very happy.  Some of the things I want to comment on might be days away, but I'll get to them.  In the mean time, help us out by commenting on some of the good news in our comments section below.
 
There really is such an abundance of wonderful good things happening right now here locally and around the world.  That is so very encouraging!  Go out and do some wonderful things yourself and maybe I'll write something here about you too!

Monday, October 13, 2014

the importance of voting

Some places on this earth do not let the people have a say in pretty much anything. Then there are countries, like ours, where the people do have a voice, but sadly don't always use it.  It's not Election Day just yet, but most places allow for early voting, either by absentee ballot or by voting in person at the elections offices.  Just a few short weeks from now will be Election Day itself.
 
Why does this matter?  In the United States, the people decide who holds office.  The people choose their mayors and governors and legislators and sheriffs and of course we the people decide who will be our president.  We have the power!  State and local propositions are there for our consideration too.  There are important things for us to decide on.  Sadly, some folks never even register to vote and of those who do register, many don't even bother to cast a ballot.
 
It's sad when we have this incredible right and we ignore it.  To be able to shape our towns and states and our country is a great privilege that, as I said, folks in many parts of the world cannot do.  Let's all step up and let our voices be heard!  VOTE!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pink Ribbons

You may have seen an increase in pink ribbons during the past week or so. Perhaps as a regular reader of this blog, you remember the Octobers in the past in which I have written here about breast cancer. Perhaps you have noticed that Ellen DeGeneres has been devoting time to it. If the pink ribbons are setting off an alarm in your brain, that's a good thing. This is breast cancer awareness month and the whole idea is to make people more aware.
 
Women should certainly be more aware.  Early detection can and does save lived.  Also, did you know that breast cancer can occur in men. Over 2,000 men are diagnosed each year. Find out more at http://1.usa.gov/1pMJvou

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in eight women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.  This isn't something we should be afraid of though.  If breast or ovarian cancer runs in your family, talk with your doctor.  Get the facts.  Stay informed.  Get regular checkups.
 
What can we do to wipe out breast cancer?  Well the good news is that this is very treatable and, as I have said, early detection is so very important.  Still, research and treatments are ongoing and organizations like the American Cancer Society can always use volunteers and donations.  They are also an excellent source of information.  Wear a pink ribbon this month and stay aware!