V-Day 2019: Speak Your Truth

FACT: One of every three women world-wide will be or has been a victim of physical or sexual violence (United Nations).

MYTH:  This is normal. (Common belief, worldwide).

ACTION:  It is time we get informed, get involved, stand up, and speak out. That is what we did last night – 18 of us and an audience of about 50 people with music and spoken monologues: *WWf(a)C V-DAY 2019: SPEAK YOUR TRUTH.

* WWf(a)C is the acronym for Women Writing for (a) Change.

Since 1998, each February, V-Day has been honored and recognized through innovative gatherings, films, and campaigns to educate and change social attitudes towards violence against women and girls.

I’m honored one of my blog followers showed up to the event, leaving with a greater awareness of this social concern through a heart-felt connection.



This event wasn’t free and some folks didn’t attend, expressing it was a steep ticket price. Yet, I say, this price is not as high as the price women and girls pay each day as victims. Proceeds from this event, both here in my Cincinnati area, and in other communities worldwide, fund programs, local to each community, that work to end this violence.

WHAT IS V-DAY?

V-Day, is a non-profit 501c3 corporation and as stated on their website, “V-Day is a global movement of grassroots activists dedicated to generating broader attention and funds to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sex slavery.”

In essence, V-Day is an artistic uprising meant to serve as a mechanism to move people to action.

This involvement has educated communities, raised social consciousness, and has changed laws to protect women and girls.

It reaches, inspires, and transforms people. It brings lasting social and cultural change.

VIOLENCE IS OUR CONCERN

Poverty, racism, environmental conditions, and war are often key factors in the ignorance or defiance concerning the safety for all people. Violence against women and girls occurs in the home by entrusted family members; it happens in the streets by strangers; it is created by acquaintances, and it is found in every economical class, from suburban family homes to inner city streets to homeless camps to the White House.   

RECAP OF WWf(a)C V-DAY 2019: SPEAK YOUR TRUTH (Cincinnati/Silverton)

I was especially touched by a message shared through a personal essay, in which it was emphasized we mustn’t remain silent when victimized, otherwise, the violence will be deemed socially normal. We must speak up and say, “No more.” That piece was shared by a woman who dedicated her story to her teen-age daughter.

Another moving piece was a song written and sung by Randy Weeks. It is found at the end of this post.

At my turn, I shared a memory from my childhood; a story which is found in Chapter 3 of my published memoir. Here is an excerpt from my monologue, “Alone in the Dark without my Candy.”

Ebony brown branches from the camellia bush lunged forward, overpowering my sidewalk stride. I put my arm up in reaction. It was too late. Heavy. Dark. A tall lanky guy; tall to my four-foot-one stature was on top of me. I was down. On the sidewalk, butt first. His head at my face. His head is covered with a knit black hat. I close my eyes at the sight of his eyes piercing through two holes in his hat. A hot stench of air reels from the mouth hole in his hat.
He grabs my arm with one hand and my clenched fist with his other hand. I’m holding tight on to my bag of candy. My fight to keep my pride isn’t strong enough to ward him off. With one yank, he has overpowered me. I yell, “Stop!”



STOP THE VIOLENCE

I believe this V-Day movement and the events in honor of it, such as the event I was a part of last night, is our call-to-action. What can you do?

  • Get informed
  • Get involved
  • Stand up
  • Speak up

Please share in the comments of what you can do or are doing to end this violence.  

FAST FACT:

The ‘V’ in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.




RESOURCES:

V-Day: An organization with a global movement to end violence.

Women Writing For (a) Change. This was the venue for last night’s event and is the venue for many support writing circles. Link to WWf(a)C.

Blog Post, “Brave to Share, Brave to Change Things” – Feb. 17, 2018. Link to the post which shares last year’s event: WWf(a)C V-Day 2018 Hometown Monologues, Rise Resist Roar.

Music by Randy Weeks, below. Find him at weeks.org

Music by Randy Weeks


If you like what I post, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts, at a few times monthly.

-Elle-



         

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Homeless People are Dying Every Day: A Candlelight Vigil and an Excerpt from my Memoir.

Cities across America observe the annual National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on the day which has the shortest daylight hours. This year it was Friday, December 22. It is in memory of those who have died as a consequence of homelessness.

Led by The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, we met at Washington Park in Cincinnati on this evening for a candlelight vigil and remembrance, naming each person lost. No less than 109 Cincinnatians experiencing homelessness died during 2018.

Over 3 million people are without shelter each night, here in America. These statistics –numbers behind real people— are alarming. It is also unnecessary. For comparison sake, that is a close approximation to how many people live in Los Angeles. Picture that many people homeless!

Lack of affordable housing is one obstacle which pushes people to live on the streets. In Cincinnati, nearly 10,000 people lack a stable, permanent residence. These are individuals and families with children. These are hard-working adults who either go to work each day, yet don’t earn more than minimum wage, keeping them from affording housing. These are also hard-working adults who can work yet are currently unemployed; without money to afford housing.  

Here in Cincinnati, advocates are joining forces through grassroots efforts, lobbying, and educating the public, all with the ultimate goal to eradicate homelessness. Housing should be available and affordable to everyone.

Cincinnati is not alone in these problems and efforts to make a viable change. A YouTube channel, Invisible People, has an ongoing vlog which shows the personal stories of people all across America; people who either go to work or who are looking for work and who do not have a place to call home. They are living out of their cars, in tents on the streets, or in shelters one night at a time when available.

In my job at the public library in downtown Cincinnati, it seems at times that we are overrun with homeless persons who hang out in our lobbies. Often, I catch myself wondering why they don’t use our library’s resources to pull themselves up. Then, I stop myself from judging. Some are not only homeless but also mentally ill or suffering from substance abuse and addiction.

Residential treatment centers for those caught up in the unending cycle of homelessness and substance abuse are limited in their availability. And many treatment places are a for-profit business, with an expense which can bar people from seeking help. Those who are both homeless and mentally ill can easily be unaware of their risks on the streets. They too could be helped; even if moved into an assisted care home facility.

And I see that a few people do use our library computers and help from the tech center. Librarians make themselves available to help people learn how to use email, how to write a resume, how to complete an online job application, and so much more. With the influx of people experiencing homelessness who turn to our library for shelter during the daytime, it is my daily reminder of why I am grateful today and that it is up to me to build upon my life.


An excerpt from Chapter 22 of my memoir, “Out of Chaos”….

I moved into a boarding house in downtown [Klamath Falls] at a flat rate of $350 a month, with no move-in deposits and that month prorated. For a little more than one hundred dollars, I was in my seven-by-ten room to figure out my next move. It came furnished with a twin bed, the headboard at one wall and the foot of the bed butted up to my jimmy-rigged pantry shelf. The shared bathroom was right next door to me, so the toilet wasn’t far, but the shower-head sucked so I bathed in another floor’s bathroom.

The location was perfect. I could walk to the State Career Cen­ter or the public library in under ten minutes. A laundromat and my morning AA meeting were a little farther away, but doable. Fred Meyer’s was the nearest grocery store, which wasn’t so close. I became a regu­lar at the library where I checked out DVDs [for my seven-inch portable DVD player] so I could take a break from my Lost reruns.

Express [temporary employment services] finally called me one afternoon at 2:00. “Can you be on assignment at five?”

It was for two nights, dinner shifts, washing dishes at the hospital.

Mid-shift on the second night, the kitchen supervisor asked me to join him in his office. Even his office seemed bigger than my apartment. He grabbed a dish towel and wiped away a bead of sweat from his forehead where dreadlocks fell forward. His dark brown eyes captured my attention. He said, “Thank you for coming in on such short notice. Our regular guy is out sick, and we can’t go with­out a dishwasher.”

I said, “You’re welcome. I’m glad Express called me to help you.”

He tossed the dish cloth in a dirty rags bin. “Most people could care less about washing dishes.”

“It feels good to work,” I said.

“I see that,” he said as he sat down on his desk. “You’re handling those pots and pans without any complaining.”

“I’ve been looking everywhere for work. I’ve got a college de­gree, but I can’t even get a fast food place to hire me,” I said.

“Yeah, in this town, sometimes it’s a matter of knowing the right person. If you didn’t go to school here or aren’t in someone’s hood, then people don’t know you,” he said.

“Working tonight is a nice change from looking for work,” I said.

“Check in at our personnel office. I haven’t heard of any open­ings at all, but if there is something, they’ve got my word that you’re a good worker.”

“Thank you. I was in here last week, and a month ago. You all have a hiring freeze.”

He grabbed a binder and a pen and got up off his desk. As he walked me out of his office, he added, “Yeah, that’s the recession for you. Keep up the good work. I’ve got a meeting to catch.”

–end of excerpt–



Although it felt good to work those two nights, I still didn’t have a real job and no earthly idea how I was to come up with $350 for the following month’s rent. I was at risk for becoming homeless again.

For us as a community to connect with people who are at risk for, or are experiencing homelessness, our awareness of this issue and our preventive action will help in the fight to eradicate homelessness.

A few ways to make a difference:

*Contact nonprofit organizations in the community which raise awareness of homelessness. Many have events and fundraisers.

*Volunteer where you can, from soup kitchens to shelters.

*Donate. Community organizations which help the homeless most often accept monetary gifts, food, clothing, and hygiene items.

Being homeless is not only an uncomfortable situation, it is also risky. Many people die from lack of shelter. Here is a video recap of the candlelight vigil in observance of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day, 2018.

It was not the first year that my friend, Tommy and I participated. For those of you who have my book, “Out of Chaos: A Memoir,” this is the same Tommy from page 476; my acknowledgements.

Link here for my blog post, Homeless People are Dying Every Day — Remembering Them and Advocating for Change. (December 27, 2017).

Statistics from above were retrieved from https://cincihomeless.org/about/education/fact-sheet/

Resources:
Invisible People: a vlog documenting the lives of homeless persons across America.
Affordable Housing Advocates (Cincinnati)
The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless

Please share in the comments how you will make a difference today. Together we can strive to eradicate homelessness.

If you like what I post, please join my reading community by subscribing to get blog post updates. Link here.

-Elle-


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From Reflection to Action: Many ideas in how to honor Veterans

Examining our past and learning from it means seeing not only our achievements, but our failings. Observing our country’s current issues demands action from each of us, as we come together to make our society a better place for us and for future generations. Accountability to our communities involves not only creating a society which makes us proud, but also recognizing and then changing dark impulses which have marred or are currently marring our country.

Dear Veteran-Friends,

The dedication that you—our men and women fighting for our country—is indelible. Your fight on the front-lines and commitment to public service enables us to learn compassion and grow intellectually. Freedom isn’t free. Those who are willing to pay the price, the time away from their families, and the endless dangers of the battleground are our true heroes. Our hearts and minds are changed forever, and we are grateful for your service of yesterday and today and going forward.

Dear Friends, here are some ways to remember our Veterans:

REFLECTION

  • Read something a Veteran wrote about their experience.
  • Write in your journal how thankful you are for the service of Veterans.
  • Take a private moment to be proud of your country.
  • Observe a moment of silence with family and friends.
  • Take a moment to reflect on what it means to live in America.
  • Hang an American flag in your yard or at your apartment entryway.

    SAY THANKS
  • Write and send a letter to someone who’s currently serving in the military.
  • Thank a Veteran co-worker for their service.
  • Video chat with a Veteran who is servicing oversees.
  • Use Social Media to #THANKAVET!
    GIVE THANKS
  • Donate time or money or supplies to local Veterans Day drives.
  • Volunteer to help a Veteran’s service organization.
    ACTION
  • Shake a Veteran’s hand.
  • Teach a child what it means to be a Veteran.
  • Send an email to the people on your contact list that tells a Veteran’s story.
  • Attend a Veterans’ Day event.
  • Go to a Veterans’ Day parade.
    HONOR A VETERAN
  • Add their photo and your personal thank you to the DAV Thank A Vet Mosaic.
  • Make and share an interview video through the StoryCorps app.

 BE IN THE MOMENT WITH A VETERAN

  • Ask a Veteran about their time in the military, and really listen to the answer.
  • Visit a home-bound Veteran in their home.
  • Visit a homeless Veteran under a bridge.
  • Take a Veteran out to dinner.
  • Take dinner in to a Veteran.
  • Buy a homeless Veteran a cup of coffee.
  • Mark on your calendar a day each month to do one of the above listed—even though Veteran’s Day will have passed.

Please share with us how you have made a difference today in the life of a Veteran. Below are some resources for you.

If you like what I post, and haven’t yet subscribed to my newsletter, please do! Link here.

Resources

DAV Thank a Vet. Here, you can add a picture to their mosaic. (Link here).

DAV Website/Home Page: https://www.dav.org/

StoryCorps App (Link here).

StoryCorps Website/Home Page:  https://storycorps.org/

Operation Gratitude. Here, you can sign up to volunteer or make a donation. https://www.operationgratitude.com/

This post is in memory of my father, who I came to know and love only after he died. Dedicated poem and more are on my Dedications Page.
(Link here.)

-Elle-

 

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Women are Changemakers: My thoughts on the Women’s March, Jan. 20, 2018

March 3, 1913, one day before the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, was the dawn of a new movement for women. On that day, more than 5,000 women descended on Washington D.C. to fight for legal rights for all women. Following activism spurred by this demonstration, it was seven years later, in 1920, that Congress passed the 19th Amendment, extending voting rights to women, nationwide.

xxIn 1913, my maternal great-grandmother was a little girl with choices to make in growing up to become a woman. By 1920, she was 16 years old, and likely saw opportunities unheard of in generations before her. She went on to become active in any community she lived, and then influenced my childhood.

Managing a transitional home for unwed pregnant women, writing an advice column for women, and owning a business were among her contributions. She instilled self-confidence, perseverance, and rightful thinking in me, thanks to the women who influenced her.

In 1970, my great-grandmother was in her sixties and a successful entrepreneur, when one of the more noteworthy rallies took place. It was the Women’s Strike for Equality, where an estimated 50,000 women marched in New York.

January 20, 2018 saw another large turn-out in fighting for women’s rights. My great-grandmother has since passed away. Her birthday had been on January 20.

Many cities nationwide participated in marches yesterday. In Cincinnati, more than 10,000 people marched. Different from the marches of 100 years ago, men too are coming out in droves to support this fight. 

xxx

Yesterday, those who marched and those who supported marches did so for a variety of reasons.

Some are fed up with sexual misconduct. Some were hoping to create an enduring political movement that will elect more women to government office, and some want to encourage voter participation. No matter what our reasons are, it all means one thing: we demand equality.

If my great-grandmother were still alive, she’d be outspokenly angered by our current American politics, and so very proud of those who are fighting to make a change, to ensure women are treated respectfully, fairly, and with equality.

With a belated wish, Happy Birthday to Nana, my maternal great-grandmother, Marie (Conner) Schmidt, nee Gosney. -Elle-

xxx 

 

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Right to be Human (Universal Bill of Rights Commemoration)

Today, December 10, is the 70thAnniversary
of our Universal Bill of Human Rights,

recognized by many countries, yet not all.

 

Resulting from a shared revulsion against the horrors of the Holocaust and other wars which came before, these rights have become the single most important statement of international ethics.

It is the moral backbone of more than two hundred human rights instruments that are now a part of our world. The result of a truly international negotiating process, this document has been a source of hope and inspiration to thousands of groups and millions of oppressed individuals.

Citizen action, humanitarian efforts to help others, and increasing our awareness are our calls to action today—  and going forward. Join in the perseverance to safeguard our human rights.

xxxx
Resources: 
Amnesty International USA Human Rights Educators’ Network
An independent, worldwide, voluntary movement that works to prevent violations by governments of people’s fundamental human rights.
Contact:
Amnesty International USA Human Rights Educators’ Network
53 West Jackson Boulevard, Suite 1162
Chicago, IL 60604
Telephone: (312) 427-2060
Fax: (312) 427-2589
Web Site: http://www.amnesty-usa.org/education
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Center for Human Rights Education
Economic, social and cultural rights advocacy through research and education.
Contact:
Center for Human Rights Education
P.O. Box 311020
Atlanta, GA 31131
Telephone: (404) 344-9629
Fax: (404) 346-7517
 xxx
Street Law, Inc.
Global, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that helps advance justice by empowering people with the legal and civic knowledge, skills, and confidence to bring about positive change for themselves and others.
Contact:
Street Law, Inc.
1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 870
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: 301.589.1130
Fax: 301.589.1131
xxx
Tri-State Freethinkers
Community involved, social, academic, and activist group for those in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. Equal Rights activism from community to national level, with an international presence.
 xxx
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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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 1. Right to Equality
 2. Freedom from Discrimination
 3. Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
 4. Freedom from Slavery
 5. Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
 6. Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law
 7. Right to Equality before the Law
 8. Right to Remedy by Competent Tribunal
 9. Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest and Exile
10. Right to Fair Public Hearing
11. Right to be Considered Innocent until Proven Guilty
12. Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, and Correspondence
13. Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
14. Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
15. Right to a Nationality and the Freedom to Change It
16. Right to Marriage and Family
17. Right to Own Property
18. Freedom of Belief and Religion
19. Freedom of Opinion and Information
20. Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
21. Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections
22. Right to Social Security
23. Right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions
24. Right to Rest and Leisure
25. Right to Adequate Living Standard
26. Right to Education
27. Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of Community
28. Right to a Social Order that Articulates this Document
29. Community Duties Essential to Free and Full Development
30. Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights
xxx
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