ARCHIVED BLOG POSTS: YEARS 2017-2019

COMMUNITY / Activism / Social Justice

These are archived blog posts, in simple text form, from 2017 through 2019. Content, even if older, can be useful to us and I welcome you to peruse at your reading pleasure. Where needed, minor revisions have been made. Resources are included as they first appeared. If you would like to comment on or discuss any archived post, please contact me.

December 22, 2019

ACT OF REMEMBERANCE: OUR FIGHT AGAINST HOMELESSNESS

Elle Mott Blog

In a candlelight vigil, we named more than one hundred people who died in 2019 from the effects of homelessness. The youngest of these was only two years old. Cities across America observe the annual National Homeless Persons Memorial Day each year in December, the month with the shortest daylight hours. On the early evening of December 20, I joined others at Washington Park in Cincinnati. Led by The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, we remembered these people; people whose lives were cut short. 

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 this activist movement. A YouTube channel, Invisible People, has an ongoing vlog which shows the personal stories of people 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.

People who don’t know where they’re going to spend the night struggle to receive needed services like medical treatment or counseling. And they are often forced to stay in places that are unsafe or make their illnesses worse. As a result, the life expectancy of people facing chronic homelessness is far shorter than for those who are stably housed. This tragedy emphasizes our need to make further progress to end chronic homelessness and take additional steps to protect people and families when they are homeless.

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. 

Why are people and families homeless?

One strong claim is that our cities have a lack of affordable housing. In my commute home from work by bus a few days ago, I talked with a woman who has become a familiar face for me. She told me her housing takes 80% of her paycheck. She is not alone in this unfairness. Our cities need to make housing affordable for families who depend on low wages to survive. We need to prevent another death of a two-year old.

Other reasons that people experience homeless vary widely. Those of us who are securely settled in mainstream society, with a good income, home, and family or other support network have it easy. Others aren’t so fortunate. Loss of a job (many jobs are “at-will”), a landlord not renewing a lease or closing their apartment building and evicting everyone are realities which prove devastating. Natural disasters from tornadoes to floods can uproot people, leaving them homeless. These are but a few reasons; reasons which run the gamut.

It’s a community thing.

Looking at reasons why homelessness happens will help in our preventive efforts. And by helping those who are experiencing homelessness, we will open doors to viable opportunities for them. This support for each other helps our community as a whole. It’s a community thing and together we can make our communities a safe and secure place to live.  

A few ways we can 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.

When shopping, think of those who are without. When you have a coupon for “buy one-get one free,” donate that freebie. When you buy your tube of toothpaste or package of socks, grab an extra one—donate these or hand it to a homeless person. That toothpaste can help prevent tooth disease. Warm socks or gloves can make a life-or-death difference on a chilly night.

Take a friend with you and walk the streets where homeless folks are prevalent. Talk to these people—get to know them as people—and do what you can, whether it’s giving them a warm coat or clean dry socks, buying them a cup of coffee, letting them know where help is at, or offering to give them a ride to a free health clinic or a shelter. Maybe, they need a bus ticket home to family—can you help? Listen to them, as each homeless person is an individual with individual needs. 

Open Comments have been Closed.

RESOURCES

(Cincinnati area)
Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition at https://cincihomeless.org/
117 E. 12th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(513) 421-7803
This coalition has a wealth of information in how you can actively help the fight against homelessness as well as how to help those in immediate need.

Invisible People at https://invisiblepeople.tv/
This established vlog and website shares the individual stories of persons nationwide who are experiencing homelessness, as well as the policy changes that are being sought.   

News Clip of the candlelight vigil  (2 minute video), courtesy of Channel 9 News in Cincinnati.

Play Video
May 27, 2019

KEEPING OUR FAMILY LEGACIES ALIVE

Elle Mott Blog

Memorial Day is:

A time of remembering and to honor loved ones

A day off from work

The time to be with family over a barbecue

The weather is usually warm, as it is right before the summer heat. Some families visit grave sites with flowers for their lost loved ones. This time and these moments invite our stories and make us think about preserving our family legacies, some who had died in war or in service while safeguarding America.

FAST FACTS OF THE HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY:

The practice of a day of memorial started in ancient times, long before America.

Way back in 431 B.C., soldiers killed in the Peloponnesian War were honored with a public funeral and speech given by Greek statesman Pericles. It was likely the first communal ceremony of recognizing those who had given their life in war. Year after year, ancient Greeks and Romans hosted similar commemorations.

Early memorial celebrations in the United States….

One of the first “Memorial Day” celebrations in the United States was by newly freed slaves. On May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina, following the end of the Civil War, members of the U.S. Colored Troops and others honored the dead with flowers, prayers, and honorary moments of silence.

By the late 1860s, many Americans had begun hosting tributes to the war’s fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and flags. States and organizations stepped up in action to pause and remember those gone. In 1886, the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia resolved to commemorate the fallen once a year. This day of memorial became commonly known as “Decoration Day.”  

The Poppy Flower

In the spring of 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker, Moina Michael began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to all who died in war. Her action was in response to bright red flowers (poppies) being planted in the ravaged lands of France, war-torn by The Great War (WWI). The poppy remains a symbol of remembrance to this day.

The day of memorial becomes Memorial Day.

Later, in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. At first, it was but a three-day weekend for federal employees to pause in their work and honor those who died in war. Three years later, in 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday for everyone in America.  

*Historical facts above, in part, were retrieved 5/27/2019 from History Channel, online.

MEMORIAL DAY:

As we gather with family and loved ones this Memorial Day, let’s regard our family legacies with sweet remembrance and a moment of honor, carrying their stories through our generations to come. If we don’t tell our story and the story of our ancestors–and our own story–who will?

My father, Robert Wells (1943-2015) served a two-year tour in the Navy during the Vietnam War. If only I could remember him, however I am honored he fought for America.

I remember my maternal great-grandmother, Marie (1904-1987). My current writing project, a biography of Marie, involves research in archived newspapers which documented her achievements. Marie was an active participant in the American Legion Auxiliary. Her membership began in the 1940s and she served as Chapter President for her local community and later as District President for her greater area.

As the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, this auxiliary has many committees which voluntarily serve to help war veterans. One is the Red Poppy Committee. Only today, in preparing for this blog post, did I come to understand the correlation between my research discoveries of her and why poppies are a symbol for this national holiday.  

What is there for you to learn about your family legacies? For those who have read my debut book, Out of Chaos: A Memoir, you may remember my maternal great-grandmother, Marie, or Nana as I called her. When I was young, I struggled to live up to her standards, and am now, through my research coming to a better understanding of who Marie was.

There are many ways to keep your family memories alive, not limited to writing a biography as I am. I have a friend (his name is Andrew,) who, often writes a letter about his remembered loved ones, and passes it on to his many friends—I get his postmarked letters in my mailbox. I hope you keep these thoughts alive as we move past the day of Memorial Day.

Open Comments have been Closed.

RESOURCES
American Legion Auxiliary at
https://www.legion.org/auxiliary

History Channel, online at https://www.history.com/news/8-things-you-may-not-know-about-memorial-day

Moina Michael, American Humanitarian at http://www.greatwar.co.uk/people/moina-belle-michael-biography.htm

Robert Wells, my father, U.S.N.R. 1969. Visit my Dedications Page.

Marie, my maternal great-grandmother and Past President of American Legion Auxiliary, District 3. Visit my Page for Current Writing Projects.

February 10, 2019

V-DAY 2019: SPEAK YOUR TRUTH

Elle Mott Blog

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

FAST FACT:

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

Open Comments have been Closed.

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.

VIDEO Music by Randy Weeks. Find him at weeks.org

Play Video
December 23, 2018

HOMELESS PEOPLE ARE DYING EVERY DAY: CANDLELIGHT VIGIL

Elle Mott Blog

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. Together we can make a difference in our community and in the lives of the people in our community.

Open Comments have been Closed.

RESOURCES

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

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

Video recap of candlelight vigil in observance of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day, 2018.

Play Video
November 11, 2018

FROM REFLECTION TO ACTION: IDEAS IN HOW TO HONOR OUR VETERANS

Elle Mott Blog

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.

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.

Open Comments have been Closed.

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 donate. https://www.operationgratitude.com/

For more about my father, visit my Dedications Page.

 Video: My DAV Thank a Vet in honor of my father (45 sec.)

Play Video
September 10, 2018

NO LONGER IN CHAOS: AUTHOR PRESENTATION

Elle Mott Blog

Thank you to Tri-State Freethinkers (TSF) for asking me to share my journey at the September meeting.  TSF is a community involved, social, educational, and activist group. Speakers include local experts and organizations about the science of our world, experience of those from different backgrounds & causes that could use our help.  I was the first of four speakers on this night.

I discussed my debut book, a memoir: “Out of Chaos”.

Yes, my book is published and available for your reading. What is my book about? Well, that’s why I stepped up to the podium on this night at the TSF meeting. Through this group, I have had ample opportunities for volunteering. These volunteering commitments have given me a way to show my gratitude for life today, a life out of chaos.

A recent volunteer commitment took me to the Freestore Foodbank in downtown Cincinnati, near me, here on Liberty Street. It’s a choice pantry, laid out much like a grocery store. Volunteers are needed for keeping shelves stocked, bagging food, and helping customers. On that day, I was a runner. My job was to help load groceries into people’s cars or to help them gather their bags for their walk home. As we’d walk out together—me pushing their shopping cart to their car, it was easy to chat. One woman kept saying she was sorry for being so needy and for almost forgetting to get diapers.

I let her know there was no need to explain or be sorry. I’ve been there before, on the edge, wondering if I’d survive. I know what it is like—that raw empty feeling inside our gut, breaking down our mental and emotional cognition when having to depend on others for our very basics.

Yes, sometimes, I feel as though it’s an effort to choose to volunteer rather than hang out at home. But, I know that all I have to do is show up. From there, any inconvenience is uplifted as my happiness to get out of myself and be a real part of the community shows its face.

When we step up to volunteer, we make a difference in people’s lives. I know this. During the times I needed help, help was at times tough to find.  When I did get help; that help helped me help myself.

No matter what hardships we endure—or what mistakes we made—no matter where we go wrong or where society fails us, we can survive. And more than survive—by doing the action, we can make a life which gives us inner peace, a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning.

How about you? What difficulty have you faced and what has helped you to overcome such a troubling situation? Community is a “we thing.”

Together, we can and will make a difference, a positive difference! 

Open Comments have been Closed.

RESOURCES

For event information, visit my Events Page.  

For more about Tri-State Freethinkers, visit my Membership Page.
For more about my book, visit this Page: Out of Chaos: A Memoir .

June 30, 2018

COMMUNITY: GIVING = GRATITUDE

Elle Mott Blog

Community is Connection

As human beings, we need a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the many relationships we develop, and to our community as a whole. We find community though family or friends, work or organized sports, and through other activities.

Demographic, social, and economic status can bring a threat of alienation. Community involvement is the thread to bring people together to advocate and support each other in the fight to overcome such threats.

A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role.

Community is Social Justice

My memoir is aptly titled, Out of Chaos. My life was chaotic. I had made poor choices, was homeless at 25 years old and homeless again not long ago. No longer living in chaos, my life is good today.

Writing my memoir took time, lots of time. Lunch breaks at work, evening down time, and early morning wake-up calls got me through the first draft, which took more than a year.

During this year of my jumbled writing, life kept happening. When in my daily commute on foot, I’d see homeless folks and others struggling in the moment. When with friends, I’d feel their difficulties. And news reports would show effects of social injustices.

Giving back to my community is my way of showing gratitude for my life today. I do this through commitment to my library job, through volunteer work with organizations which help others, and through a listening ear for friends and strangers who I cross paths with.

It’s a matter of  working with others to make sure that good things happen. It’s about creating positive change. It’s a matter of avoiding contempt and embracing equality, support, and a sense of caring. So, for me, community is social justice.

What Does Community Mean to You?

There are many ways to get involved in the community through humanitarian efforts. I created an e-booklet, chock full of ideas, resources, and links, all to lead you with inspiration to your calling in your community.

I like to think of community as a collective effort for us to come together as one in celebration of, and not resistance of, our unique differences. Beliefs, goals, and identity may vary among us, but connection can be a constant attribute if we wish. Community has given me stability. It’s polar opposite to my old life; a life of chaos.

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RESOURCES
A video from me to you: Community Means A Lot.

Play Video
April 29, 2018

CREATING ART IN FIGHT AGAINST HUNGER

Elle Mott Blog

Teaming with the American Institute of Architects and other members of the construction and design industry, this charity drive offers a creative way to give back to the community, in many communities in America and beyond. Teams are responsible for purchasing their own canned food and creating their own structures. All food raised is donated to their local food bank(s).

Canstructures are made entirely from canned foods within a 10’x10’x8’ space. It easily takes several thousand cans, sometimes up to 20,000 cans to create a canstructure.

What ​is ​CANstruction?  

CANstruction is a nonprofit organization in the United States. This charity combines the competitive spirit of a design contest while meeting the needs to feed the hungry. This collaborative event is held in more than 100 cities across America, as well as in other cities, world-wide. It calls our attention to the pervasive issue of hunger in our communities.

It happens each year at about this time. This year, the designs were built on April 10 for display and public viewing all month, through today, April 29. By individual votes and an anonymous jury, the completed canstructures were judged for Best Design, People’s Choice, and other awards.

In my community, here in the greater area of Cincinnati, Ohio, seven downtown places participated. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County was one place. I’m both happy and proud to work alongside great coworkers here at this library, who are passionate in this worthy cause.        

What​ ​is​ ​the​ ​impact​ ​of​ ​CANstruction?

This event raises awareness of the need for hunger relief. Many families and vulnerable individuals struggle when it comes to eating on a regular basis. Children who qualify for and receive reduced or free lunches at school, often go hungry on the weekends. More than 13-million American children live in households with uncertain access to food which supports a healthy life.

After the competition and exhibition, the structures are deconstructed, and all canned food is given to community food banks.

Volunteering at the Freestore Foodbank’s distribution center.

In my community, all cans are donated to the Freestore Foodbank, which operates nationwide and is part of the Feeding America organization. Feeding America is the national association of affiliated food banks. It is the largest hunger relief organization, connecting community local food pantries in every state of America, bridging gaps.

While CANstruction is over for this year, there are other ways to help. Link to Freestore Foodbank and Feeding America for volunteer opportunities.

Open Comments have been Closed.

February 17, 2018

BRAVE TO SHARE: BRAVE TO CHANGE THINGS

Elle Mott Blog

Heartfelt words of encouragement from others gave me a level of pride, that yes, each of us can make a positive difference in our communities.

My personal experience with this issue comes from a dark point in my journey. As explored in my debut book, coming out soon, choices, and then consequences of those choices push me to the brink of changing my life for the better. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I’m faced with one more hurdle. When at this spoken event, I described this hurdle in my spoken prose.

An excerpt from “Living on a Fork in the Road”

I had no idea how to define [him] but had nodded anyway to their comment. I’d gotten my college degree in June [2010], then in April, still without a career job, I left Seattle with him. I had no family to help. We’ve traveled from Seattle down to San Francisco, east into Arizona and Utah, and west again, through Nevada. Six months out from Seattle, my goal now is to survive.

One woman at that campground had told me, “My husband and I can take you to a women’s shelter.”

Homeless shelters don’t keep people forever. That’s why I went with [him]— I believed it would lead to something permanent, unlike temporary solutions from agencies. He jumps another pothole, then swings his right arm towards me. I’m afraid in his reaction, but then he stops mid-air, damn-near hitting my face. “Ellie, why did you let me break the trailer door? Why?”

We bounce deep into a graveled stretch of road as he grabs his steering wheel for control.  I hadn’t noticed leaving pavement. Cacti and pine trees keep the world out. I can’t rule out he can pull over and kill me. He’s strong enough. And mad enough.

Dust kicks up. I grab my door handle for leverage, not that we’d crash into another car.  There aren’t any other cars [on our road].

He demands, “Stop that. Now, look—you’re upsetting Manny.” (Manny was his dog, at twenty pounds of white matted fur).

He swings his right arm again, this time pushing me deeper into my seat. He corrects his driving one-handedly, screeches to a stop, turns the ignition off and pockets his keys. “I hate you, Ellie…. I (expletive word redacted) hate you, Ellie.”

What difficulty has personally touched you? How can you share your story with others? What will you do to create positive change in our community?

Open Comments have been Closed.

RESOURCES

V-Day Organization: https://www.vday.org/
Women Writing for (a) Change: https://www.womenwriting.org/

January 21, 2018

WOMEN ARE CHANGEMAKERS: MY THOUGHTS ON THE WOMENS MARCH 2018

Elle Mott Blog

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.

In 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.

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-

Open Comments have been Closed.

RESOURCES
Please visit these Pages:
Current Writing Projects
Dedications

 

December 27, 2017

HOMELESS PEOPLE ARE DYING EVERY DAY: REMEMBERING THEM AND ADVOCATING FOR CHANGE

Elle Mott Blog

Over 500,000 people are without shelter each night, here in America. (More than a half-million!)

In memory of those who have died as a consequence of homelessness, cities across America observe National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on December 21, the day which has the shortest daylight hours.

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, here in my greater Northern Kentucky community were among those who observed this event.

We met at Washington Park on this evening for a candlelight vigil and remembrance, naming each person lost.

A video recap, broken into three videos is at the end of this post. My friend, Tommy starts the Open Comments, singing his heart out. And when the camera zooms in on the last person during open comments–that’s me. So, for my heart-felt spoken thoughts on this terrible problem, see Video 3.

As for the raw and cold hard facts, here’s some awakening news:

Those of us who are securely settled in mainstream society, with an income, home, and family or other support network have it easy. We have resources to prevent problems and to fix difficulties. Whereas, those living in poverty, and especially homeless men, women, and children lack these resources.

Think about the last time you caught a miserable cold. For me, I bought cold medicine at the nearest drug store, and took sick time off from work, then snuggled into my warm house, cranking the heat a bit.

Then, my friend called me and said, “I hope you feel better, get some rest, and know I’m thinking of you.” At least I know my cold is only a cold and not something serious, because I recently had my preventive health check-up at the doctor’s office.

Think about the guy living on the cardboard box in downtown, or the family in a tent in the undeveloped land behind the mall. They have none of the privileges which I have. They are vulnerable to worsening health conditions, from a cold to the flu, infections, and contracting a contagious disease.

Substance abuse and alcoholism, mental illness, and post-traumatic stress (PTS) are additional factors, found predominately among homeless people because they lack access to resources and a support system of family or friends.

Aside from illness and disease, homeless people are at greater risk for other life threatening circumstances:

*Criminal behavior.  Some homeless people resort to theft or robbery to get what they need. This puts them at risk of the victim fighting back, resulting in injury or death.

*Rape.  Homeless people—and not only women—are vulnerable to human trafficking and sexual assault, leaving the victim physically and emotional traumatized.

*Violent crime.  Reasons abound, not limited to intolerance, aggressiveness, and cruelty, which find some homeless people attacked, stabbed, shot, or beaten up.

*Extreme weather conditions.  When without shelter, people are at a greater risk to succumb to hypothermia in overnight plummeting temperatures under a freezing snow fall. And are at risk to heat stroke and heart attacks when facing skyrocketing summer heat and humidity.

Many people die from illness, disease, injury, and violence, even though our country has resources which can save people from succumbing. Yet, to connect people to these resources involves awareness of the problem, preventive action, and community involvement.

*Contact nonprofit organizations in the community which raise awareness of homelessness and make a difference. Many have events and fundraisers to take part in.

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

*Think of them when shopping. When you have a coupon for “buy one-get one free,” donate that freebie. When you buy your tube of toothpaste or package of socks, grab an extra one—donate these or hand it to a homeless person. That toothpaste can help prevent tooth disease. Warm socks or gloves can make a life-or-death difference on a chilly night.

*Take a friend with you and walk the streets where homeless folks are prevalent. Talk to these people—get to know them as people—  and do what you can, whether it’s giving them a warm coat or clean dry socks, buying them a cup of coffee, letting them know where help is at, or offering to give them a ride to a free health clinic or a shelter. Maybe, they need a bus ticket home to family—can you help? Listen to them, as each homeless person is an individual with individual needs. Offer help as they need it.

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

Please share with your friends and family of how you will help save a life. This could help us become more aware of other ways each of us can help.

Open Comments have been Closed.

December 10, 2017

RIGHT TO BE HUMAN: UNIVERSAL BILL OF RIGHTS COMMEMERATION

Elle Mott Blog

December 10 [2017] is the 70th Anniversary 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.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  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

Open Comments have been Closed.

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

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
Website: http://www.centeronhumanrightseducation.org/

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
Website: http://streetlaw.org/en/home

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.

Website: http://www.tristatefreethinkers.com/contact-us/

September 20, 2017

WE CAN DO IT!

Elle Mott Blog

Since the latest political shift in our American society, people are taking a stand in unprecedented numbers — this latest wake makes it difficult to remain neutral.

In January 2017, our Capitol’s front steps saw the largest political demonstration in fifty years, a plea for human rights and equality. Our country hadn’t had such a large turnout since the days of the Vietnam War protest, back in the days I was born.

Eleanor Roosevelt had written a daily column for a syndicated newspaper; these ranged from women’s issues to general humanitarian causes. She was not just another First Lady. She was a changemaker.

My great-grandmother penned an  advice column for women, “Dear Polly Potter”.

It ran in a  newspaper many years before Dear Abby. She was not just my role model. She made a positive difference in her community.

Likewise, we needn’t be just another concerned community citizen.

Through our chosen venue, we too can influence others.

As a Creative Nonfiction Writer and Memoirist, I see my passions include equal rights, advocacy for the homeless, and support groups which don’t isolate members. I’ve been adversely subjected to these problems in society yet overcame them through action. Not many people can say the same, but many people are affected by these concerns….

The neighborhood I work in is in the heart of a big city, saturated with homeless folks. I put this concern in writing and it is now published in the inaugural issue of One Person’s Trash Literary Journal, even without any journalistic experience.

Like Eleanor Roosevelt, I believe I am making a difference, and I see differences all around me, thanks to my writing.

How will you influence change?

What will you do today to make a positive difference?

We can make a difference in our communities!

Open Comments have been Closed.

RESOURCES

For more about my great-grandmother, visit these Pages:
Dedications 
Current Writing Projects