Archive for category Context

Lots more work to do – Jobs & Regulation -Moyers/Galbraith

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Bill Moyers and James Galbraith talk about the need for jobs and the need to get to the heart of the underlying problems

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Food Banks – An Opportunity for Reinvention?

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Here is a snip and link to a great post by KERA on the North Texas Food Bank – As more people are stretched why not start to think of the Food Bank as the possible centre of a local food system where the system expands from a donation model to a local supply model where people learn also how to grow and make food for each other?

The North Texas Food Bank is working to expand its reach to meet the growing demand and is in its second year of a campaign to narrow the gap between available services and demand by expanding annual access to 50 million meals.

Last year, it provided access to 37 million meals.

The nonprofit agency was created in 1982 to pull together efforts to feed hungry residents of 13 counties, securing donations of surplus unmarketable, but wholesome, food and grocery products to distribute throughout its network. Last year, the agency distributed more than 39 million pounds of food through partner agencies in Dallas, Denton, Collin, Fannin, Rockwall, Hunt, Grayson, Kaufman, Ellis, Navarro, Lamar, Delta and Hopkins counties.

Food collected by the North Texas Food Bank is distributed through 291 agencies, supporting 1,146 feeding and education programs.

Is this an idea that is ripe for Public Stations to add to their work on FTMC? Would it not be the same kind of work – helping glue the community together – telling the stories etc?

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Pub Camp – The Virus Spreads – What will you do?

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Nearly 250 people attended Pub Camp in Washington recently to talk about how best to use social media in Pub Media

Here is a great summary by Andy Carvin with film footage by John Proffitt

PubCamp Sampler from John Proffitt on Vimeo.

Many stations will be having their own local Pub Camp soon

PubCamp 101 from John Proffitt on Vimeo.

What will you be doing?

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Frontline – The Warning

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Frontline have just put on a very important show, The Warning, that gets behind the regulatory screen. The informed citizen needs to be more skeptical.

The full details and context for the show is here.

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In Mass it is now the rich who are hurting

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WBUR is seeing a new story in Mass – the crisis is now affecting everyone.The crisis is growing in intensity and has momentum. The key is employment.

Also when you look at the end of the story, it also raises a new issue – the mega banks are protected but the local crisis is putting intolerable pressure on the local banks. It is the smaller banks that are failing.

The reason for these auctions is not the crazy interest-rate mortgages. It’s the recession. Nowadays, people are losing their homes the way they used to before the sub-prime crisis.

“Historically, people lost their home when they lost their job, they lost their health or they lost their spouse,” says Nick Retsinas, a housing market economist at Harvard University.

Unemployment is to blame again today. The number of foreclosure proceedings in Massachusetts has jumped an alarming 150 percent. (My emphasis)

In fact, people under foreclosure I talked to in Sudbury didn’t want to be interviewed for this story. They said they’re ashamed — to have lost their jobs; to have run out of savings; to not be able to make their payments.

Whitney Tilson, a Harvard Business School grad and money manager, said, “the number of distressed homes coming through the pipeline has actually never been greater than right now.”

Tilson says Sudbury is a good example of what this coming wave could do to the market. Only seven homes above $1,000,000 have sold in the town this year. Last year it was 43, and that was a bad year.

“The listed prices appear to show that prices are holding up, but that’s phony,” Tilson says. “So what breaks the logjam? The wave of foreclosures working their way through the pipeline.”

Foreclosed properties priced to sell will push housing prices down and push more homeowners under water and into foreclosure. And that could really hurt regional banks.

Unlike the sub prime mortgage crisis — which hammered national mortgage companies — in this instance, local banks carry more of these loans. When Massachusetts banks stand to lose as much as a few hundred thousand dollars a pop, they get more conservative about lending. Tilson says that will suppress economic recovery.

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More than Content – Connection and Impact – What we are doing FTMC

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CPB have put our project on the front page of their site – Here is the link to the letter that Jack Galmiche sent on your behalf to Pat Harrison. In a quiet way, I think that we are making history. Proving to others and to ourselves how we can become a powerful agency for good in our communities.

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Stephanie’s Guide to Keeping your head while all about you are losing theirs

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Stephanie Walker blogs about her own experience here – she has become one of the most powerful voices in the movement to avoid being helpless. Here today she guest blogs on another new and powerful voice Magpie Girl (aka Rachelle Mee-Chapman ). Here is her Manifesto about how to keep your composure and spirit going when your life is falling in around you.

*8 Things that Helped Us
Turn Our Personal Housing Crisis into an Opportunity
By Stephanie Walker

Last year at this time, our house was on the market, our bank account was negative and my husband Bob and I were both unemployed. Things were not quite going according to plan. The plan, when Bob’s high-paying contract got cut short, was to sell the house, pay off our debts, rent and start over again. We didn’t want to sell our house, but it was the only way out. We were sinking way too fast. We needed a new plan. The new plan, we agreed, was to turn our financial disaster into an opportunity. Somehow. You know, the whole idea of never letting a  good crisis go to waste. Our crisis, we firmly believed, could be an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to learn, to re-prioritize. A challenge, indeed. But a worthy challenge. We may lose it all, but what we would gain in the process could be something more valuable than any house.

With that new thinking, we moved through our foreclosure story. Yes, it became a foreclosure story. We defaulted on our loan and received the “Notice of Intent to Accelerate” from the bank the week before Christmas 2008. In the end, to make a very long and exciting story short, we ended up selling the house in a short sale, narrowly avoiding foreclosure. We sold 90% of our possessions and moved to the suburbs of Chicago to live with my family. We’ve been here for three months. And in less than a week we will be moving to the San Juan Islands where we will be house-sitting for two years and living rent-free. Yes. From a $5,000 mortgage to rent-free. From Los Angeles, California to an island in the Pacific Northwest.

Here are 8 Things that helped us turn our personal housing crisis into an opportunity

1. Talking: I know, this is easier said than done. But now is not the time to keep your concerns, fears, resentments or pain to yourself.  Talk about how you’re feeling. Share. Be vulnerable. Does this sound trite? Well, it’s not. Bob is not one to automatically share openly his darkest thoughts. But when he did, it helped not only him but me. It was helpful to know what he was struggling with internally so that I could be more patient or give him the space he needed. And he found that saying it out loud lessened the hold these fears had when internalized. Express it and let it go.

2. The pact: Bob and I made a pact with each other to turn our crisis into an opportunity. We promised each other that we would view every hurdle as an opportunity for growth. That this could be the perfect chance for us to learn how to be happy in the face of any circumstance. We promised to be at our best. And to be there for each other. This pact worked because we were both so profoundly committed to it. We understood that without this pact, our chances for happiness were slim. So we respected the pact and held to it. You can make a pact like this with yourself, but I recommend sharing it with another person so that they can help you keep it in existence.

3. Allowing Others In: Of course we were embarrassed about our situation. We felt like dummies. Idiots. Failures. But we trusted that our friends  and family would not judge us as harshly as we were judging ourselves. And we let them in. I’m not saying we showed them our budgets or our credit report. But we did tell them what was happening along the way. We told our friends and family and eventually our neighbors. And then I started writing about everything on “Love in the time of Foreclosure.” We held nothing back.

When our bank account was overdrawn, they brought us homemade lasagna. When I was stressed, they took me out for happy hour. When we just needed to talk, they listened. When we had our estate sale, they were there first thing in the morning running the show. Our friends were amazing. Amazing. The best part about allowing them in on our financial problems, we didn’t have to pretend anything. I don’t know how we would have been able to actually hide our financial disaster, but I can imagine how stressful that would have been. This one requires letting go of your pride. To let others in means to truly be vulnerable. To say, like we did, We screwed up and are in big financial trouble. This is what’s going on. We’re committed to turning this into a good thing some how. We let them into our lives and into our “plan.”

A huge benefit to allowing others in? They have really good advice. Things you wouldn’t think of on your own, necessarily. They send you links to articles that have a wealth of information you need. They put you in touch with people who can help. They share their own stories about their tough times that not only allows you to feel better, but give you hope that if they made it through, you will too.

4. Have Fun: Just because you are facing losing everything, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. This is so important. Yes, we were working our butts off. I had two jobs at one point. We were doing everything we could think of to market the house which included constant cleaning. We didn’t have discretionary funds. But we still had fun. We went for walks. Discovered new parks. Bob competed in the Grilled Cheese Invitational . We watched shows on Hulu. We went to the beach. Hiked in the mountains. Sat by the fire. Had friends over. We had fun. We were committed to being happy even in foreclosure. In this kind of a pact, fun is a key ingredient.

5. Exercise: I am prone to anxiety. When I was a kid I used to think I had a breathing problem. At  least that’s what I would tell my parents when it felt like my lungs were incapable of fully expanding: “I think I have a breathing problem.” Well, I discovered that ‘breathing problem’ was actually anxiety. The best cure for anxiety – in my experience- is exercise. It’s hard because the more stressed I get, the less time I have for exercise. But if I don’t, I am only setting myself up for anxiety. Exercise helped me so much through one of the most stressful times of my life.

6. Daily Checkpoints: Every morning when we walked the Pug we would talk about what we would do that day. What we were committed to accomplishing and what we were going to work on personally. Some days I’d wake up so overwhelmed I didn’t want to have this conversation. Luckily on those days, Bob was on the other side (and vice versa.) He would talk me through it. We’d start with ‘clearing out the cobwebs’ before we would talk about our goals for the day. Then, at the end of the day we would recap. How did it go? Did we do what we said we would do? If not, what was in the way? What did we learn and what can we be grateful for? This might sound like it would require a very long conversation, but we were actually able to go through this in about ten minutes. The days we did this always went better than the ones we didn’t. You can create a pact, a vision statement so to speak, but it doesn’t live on its own. It requires constant re-presencing or it will die. Our pact to be our best, turn this crisis into the opportunity of our lives and be happy in the process needed daily care to thrive.

7. Make a Difference for Others: Have you ever noticed that when you have your attention on the well-being of others, you’re less worried about yourself? Well, I have. Bob and I met doing a 500-mile bike ride for charity. On that ride we both talked about how much easier the ride was when we were cheering others on. We’d be at the top of a hill before we realized how difficult the climb was when we were cheering other riders up the hill. The same is true in life. We’re all in this together. And there are so many with great need. In the midst of our foreclosure battle, we collected donations and went on a bus trip down to Mexico to visit an orphanage with a non-profit organization Corazon de Vida. Getting outside of ourselves and focusing on others made such a huge difference. It really puts things in perspective!

8. Believe: (insert cliche here.) I don’t know how to bring this point home without sounding completely cliche. But in the midst of a crisis, you must believe. Believe in your own strength to pull through. Believe that things will improve. Believe that you’ll be stronger for surviving. Believe that you are not alone. I voted for Barack Obama. I was inspired – and still am- by his stand for humanity. By his willingness to stand for and speak about belief and the power it holds. As he said during his campaign: “I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about change in Washington… I’m asking you to believe in yours.”

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A Manifesto for the Unemployed – A Call to action

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I found this via KERA who found this via NPR and the Washington Post – Ann Powers is finding the voice of the people who aren’t going to take it any more.

“We are more than 15 million individuals in the prime of our lives who have lost our place in the world of work. We call upon our representatives on Capitol Hill to help us directly, rather than assisting our institutions first in the hope that their recovery might also bring us along.

We declare ourselves too big to fail. But we are being pushed by circumstance from the comfortable middle-class to the terrified middle-class, and from the working poor to the hopeless poor. We have lost our savings, retirement, and, in many cases, our monthly income to sustain our lives. We fear homelessness and a loss of stability as we struggle with rebuilding our assets.

We can and will help ourselves. We take jobs for which we are over qualified. We work longer hours. We work odd jobs. We downgrade our lifestyles. We deny our children their birthday gifts and vacations. We try to educate ourselves to the options for cure and take positive steps every day.

But still our financial standing degrades, and we feel the journey of recovery will be long, and we will cry and stumble.

Despite the names chosen by officialdom to describe us, we are not displaced, dislocated, discouraged, disadvantaged, disaffected or disgruntled.

Instead, we are disappointed and disillusioned that the financial condition of our households is of secondary consideration to the economic stabilization of huge Wall Street financial firms, curiously declaring their own recovery just months after calling themselves near death.

In August, six of the seven biggest financial institutions reported quarterly profits that surpassed expectations, despite deteriorating loans on many of their balance sheets. Many of us, however, teeter closer to foreclosure, find ourselves in distressed sales or evicted from our homes.

We are distressed that the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has money to keep us unemployed for longer but not to get us back to work. In July, one in three unemployed individuals were jobless for 27 weeks or more. And, the number of workers who have stopped looking for a job rose to 796,000, up 335,000 over the past 12 months.

We feel disrespected that our government has committed trillions of dollars to get the nation moving again. Yet, we can see no change in our own daily lives.

Has any of this $1.5 trillion bought a single Happy Meal for an unhappy family? Has it sent the creditors that hound us by telephone into silence by making a mortgage or credit card payment for us? Has it bought us groceries or paid the utility or insurance or tax bills? Has it paid for our health insurance?

We declare that we are lost, lonely and forgotten, but that we vow to become loud, united and forceful so we will claim our rightful place at the center of the political debate. The body politic is seriously diseased if those of us who have been the very backbone of U.S. prosperity can be left without direct assistance when we are facing the loss of our homes, careers and all the possessions we need to maintain a safe home for our children.

Patience is no longer the order of the day. There is a rabble to be roused, virtual signs to be made and held up, marches, petitions, visits, phone calls and every manner of communications used to say to the public authorities now it is our turn. Now you must save us.”

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Jobs? The 1930′s surely offer us a pointer

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Where might the jobs come from that will be so essential to our future? Here is Bob Herbert’s conclusion in his Op Ed today:

“The past,” as William Faulkner told us, “is not dead. It’s not even past.” The lessons of the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s are right in front of us, ready to be studied, analyzed, updated and applied to the present-day needs of the country.

If we’re serious about getting the U.S. back on track economically, we will have to take our heads out of the sand at some point with regard to the nation’s infrastructure. America has to be rebuilt, modernized and re-energized — from its water and sewer systems to its schools to the smart grid and the alternative energy sources that so many are talking about and beyond. That’s where the jobs are for the long term, and that’s the only route to a truly flourishing future.

These investments would be costly and require vision. Seeing them through would take an enormous collective effort by politicians and the public alike. But some variation on these themes is absolutely essential if the U.S. is to pull itself out of the economic quicksand and its long-term, potentially very tragic consequences.

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Survival – Not just being local but being vital to your community

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Here is a find by Mark Ramsey – whose opinion I value more than most:

It’s Not About “Being Local”

When you can’t compete with the same headlines folks can get everywhere else, you focus on the local stories they can’t get anywhere else.

That’s how they did it at this small-town newspaper.

It’s not about “being local,” my broadcasting friends. It’s about mattering to your local community because what you do there is essential and irreplaceable.

Never confuse the two.

Here’s the video from the NBC Nightly News. Click the post title if the embed is invisible.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

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