Archive for ‘Boundaries’

April 1, 2015

A home for homeless women in East Los Angeles

Homelessness in Los Angeles is a significant and chronic problem.  It is so much more challenging for homeless women to find safe shelter for themselves, their children, and away from addicts, violence, and sexual predators.  The new Guadalupe Homeless Project Women’s Shelter in Boyle Heights is a facility designed for exclusive use of homeless women.  The following article by Maya Sugarman of KPCC (89.3 FM) provides an excellent write-up of the shelter itself, and insight into the challenges facing homeless women in East Los Angeles.

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For more than six years, Vickie, a 63-year-old homeless artist, did most of her sleeping on Los Angeles’ public buses.

“Nobody’s going to rape me on a bus,” says Vickie, who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her privacy. “It’s the safest place for a woman to be. The only problem is you never get to lie down flat.”

Fear of rape, violence and theft had kept Vickie off the streets at night. But she says that fear also kept her away from homeless shelters, where she could have gotten a bed.

“Some of them have bad reputations,” she notes. “The ones that have outstanding reputations are always full.”

What finally coaxed Vickie off of buses was the opening of a women’s-only shelter in Boyle Heights, one of a very few in Los Angeles, and the only one to cater to older women like her. The Guadalupe Homeless Project Women’s Shelter has 15 beds arranged in a converted classroom that used to house an after-school program. It’s run by Proyecto Pastoral, a nonprofit under the auspices of East L.A’s Dolores Mission. Most of the women are in their 50s and 60s. The oldest is 80.

Raquel Roman, the shelter’s director, says the need for a women’s shelter in East L.A. became clear last year, when the body of a 36-year-old homeless woman named Lorenza Arellano was found floating in the lake at Hollenbeck Park. Arellano had often eaten dinner at a men’s shelter that Proyecto Pastoral has run in the community for decades, recalls Roman, but because its beds were not open to women, she slept in the park. Police said she died of a drug overdose, though how she ended up in the lake remains a mystery.

“Her tragic death was a shock to all of us,” Roman says, “and I was really compelled to say, we need to provide services to women in our community that are in the same situation.”

Amy Turk, program director for the Downtown Women’s Center, a day center for homeless women, says that other than the new Boyle Heights shelter, she knows of only two other women-only shelters in Los Angeles, totaling roughly 300 beds.

Yet the need for them is great, she adds, because the fear of violence often keeps women away from traditional shelters, much as it did with Vickie. A majority of homeless women recently surveyed by the center reported being victims of sexual abuse or other violence. A vast majority said they preferred women-specific homeless services.

And yet “we hardly ever see any funding geared solely toward unaccompanied women who are experiencing homelessness,” Turk says. Women trying to escape abusive partners have more options. So do homeless women with underage children, but they tend to be younger, and overall the population of homeless women is getting older.

As they age, Turk notes, they’re getting sicker faster than the housed population, which makes it harder for them to stay on the streets.

Those challenges are evident among the women at the Guadalupe Homeless Project, where each evening they do daily chores before being taken by van to a nearby school cafeteria where they’re served dinner.

Carlette Luka, a 59-year-old from Hawaii, has an easy smile and a jovial demeanor, but suffers from high blood pressure and a bad hip. She uses a walker. Before arriving at the shelter, she says she often slept in a graveyard to avoid trouble.

Another 59-year-old, who sings in her church’s gospel choir and asked not to be named, treks out on foot every morning to look for work but is slowed down by plantar fasciitis and pre-diabetes. Several women are getting treatment for mental health issues.

The goal of most of these women is to eventually find a job and an apartment, a task made difficult by the reluctance of many employers to hire older women, according to Roman. Some of the women at the shelter face the added complication of being in the U.S. illegally.

But some of the women are starting to get back on their feet. At 53, Eva Gonzalez is among the shelter’s younger residents. She once had a business designing and selling dresses for quinceañeras. For reasons she’ll only hint at, she lost the business, and then her home. She stayed in hotels and with friends, then finally heard about the shelter and secured a bed there.

For weeks, she struggled to find work.

“They told me I was too old,” she recalls. Gonzalez finally found work selling dresses in downtown L.A.’s garment district, adding that she’s saving money and plans to get a place of her own.

Unlike some of the women living with her in the shelter, Gonzalez says she still has time to start over.

http://www.scpr.org/news/2015/03/31/50656/after-a-homeless-woman-is-found-dead-a-shelter-for/

March 22, 2015

Quote of the Day

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

~Theodore Roosevelt

March 20, 2015

15 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone (Even Though You Think You Do)

From http://higherperspectives.com/15-things/

1. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your living situation.

It doesn’t matter what kind of living situation you’re in, whether you have housemates, live alone, live unmarried with a partner, or live with your ex still. You don’t need to explain to anyone why you live the way that you do.

2. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your life priorities.

Want to open a business? Become a pastor at your church? Sell all your belongings and backpack through India? Go for it! And remember, you don’t have to explain your priorities to anyone. They are yours, and you don’t have to try to impress people with them.

3. You don’t owe anyone an apology if you are not sorry.

If you’ve done something that someone else doesn’t like but that you don’t regret, you don’t owe them an apology. An apology is to try to rectify a mistake and the impact it’s had on others.

4. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for requiring alone time.

If you need alone time, you’re not being rude, introverted, or unfriendly. You just need time alone. You don’t have to explain your need for that. Just enjoy that precious time alone.

5. You don’t owe anyone your agreement on their personal beliefs.

When people share their personal beliefs with you, it’s often a sign of trust that should be cherished. It’s a window into their souls and the way they think. But just because someone has shared their personal beliefs with you doesn’t mean you have to nod in agreement. Also, see #3.

6. You don’t owe anyone a yes to everything they say.

I know it can be hard to say no to the hard ask, but just know that you don’t have to say yes to everything everyone asks of you. Know your limits and what you’re willing to do for others.

7. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your physical appearance.

If you’ve lost weight, gained weight, changed your hair, grown a beard, or done anything with your physical appearance, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for it. You’re just doing you. They can deal with pink hair.

8. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your food preferences.

We all like different types of food. If someone tries to judge you over it, don’t engage. You don’t have to explain what kind of food you like to eat. You just eat what you want to.

9. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your sex life.

Whether your sex life doesn’t exist or does with another consenting adult, it’s no one’s business but your own. People will try to judge you for who you sleep with or what your sexuality is, but what they think generally doesn’t matter.

10. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your career or personal life choices.

When it comes to the direction you’re going in life, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your career or the direction you’ve opted to go. Just go for it! The people who truly care for you will back you up.

11. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your religious or political views.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Catholic, Protestant or Muslim, it’s your choice and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for it. If someone wants to have a fun, candid discussion with you and you also want that, have at it! A good debate or exchange of ideas is a lot of fun.

12. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for being single.

It doesn’t matter if you’re single by design or by accident – you’re single! Chances are, you’re pretty happy with it too. You might get pressured to go find a partner and get married, but you march to the beat of your own drum.

13. You don’t owe anyone a date just because they asked.

This is such an important thing to remember. You don’t have to say yes just because someone asked you to go out with them!

14. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your decision about marriage.

Want to get married at 18? Don’t ever want to get married? As long as you’re an adult making decisions of your own accord, your decision about marriage is yours alone.

15. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your relationship choices.

Did you forgive a cheater? Did you get back together with your ex? Did you say no to a marriage proposal? These decisions were made by you for your own set of reasons, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for that.

March 4, 2015

Love: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations

Yes, I stole I.D.I.C. from Star Trek, but it most certainly seems to apply with regards to the greatest and most unfathomable human emotion: love.

February 4, 2015

More Calif. Kindergarteners Under-Immunized

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The lack of vaccinations for children under five years of age is atrocious in California.  The article ”

More Calif. Kindergarteners Under-Immunized Than Unvaccinated” from CaliforniaHealthline.org has an excellent summary of vaccination rates statewide, and the appalling lack of vaccinations within Los Angeles County.

Quoting from the article:

While about 2.5% of California kindergarteners’ parents have opted out of vaccinations via personal belief exemptions, nearly 7% start school under-immunized.

According to Amy Pine, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department’s immunization program, under-immunized children still are “vulnerable” to contracting and transmitting diseases.

The rate of under-immunized kindergarteners who are admitted to school on a conditional status varies across the state. For example, the rate is:

  • 12.28% in Los Angeles County — nearly double the statewide average;
  • 11.62% in San Francisco; and
  • 9.68% in Alameda County.

Few counties have taken steps to stem the number of “conditional entrants,” but some stakeholders have made recommendations to the state to improve the tracking of such students (“State of Health,” CHCF Center for Health Reporting/KQED, 2/2).

 

This is really a setting for an epidemic of previously eliminated childhood diseases, such as mumps, measles, rubella, and perhaps even polio.  Only time will tell!

http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2015/2/3/more-calif-kindergarteners-underimmunized-than-unvaccinated

January 22, 2015

A Metaphor About The Disposal of Our Humanity

September 30, 2014

Since 1970 We’ve Wiped Out Half the Population of Animal Species :(

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This is so very sad.  A report by the World Wildlife Fund notes that we’ve lost 52% of the population from all species since 1970.  I feel like my children and their children will not know the kind of diversity of species that I had the privilege of encountering in nature as a child.  And the shows which brought us the wonderful expanse of nature, will have so much less to document and record.  It seems to me, as nature goes, so do we humans.  And right now that direction is not looking good.  Let’s change it.

From the report:

The conservation group’s Living Planet Report, published every two years, said humankind’s demands were now 50 percent more than nature can bear, with trees being felled, groundwater pumped and carbon dioxide emitted faster than Earth can recover.

“This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live,” Ken Norris, Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London, said in a statement.

For more about the report, go to this link:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/29/environment-wildlife-idUSL6N0RU48D20140929

September 24, 2014

Why We Still Have Bullying in America :(

September 19, 2014

Occupy activists abolish $3.85m in Corinthian Colleges students’ loan debt [theguardian.com]

by  / theguardian.com

Rolling Jubilee activist group buys student debt at knockdown price to inspire Americans to ‘exert collective power’

Over the last few days, over 2,700 Everest College students woke up to find that someone had paid off their private student debt.

This was no act of goodwill by the government, which is currently suing Everest parent Corinthian Colleges for its predatory lending practices. Nor is it a gift from Everest itself, which is expected to shutter its doors and possibly leave 72,000 students out of their time and tuition.

Instead, the disappearing student loan debt is the second major piece of financial activism by a group of Occupy Wall street activists.

To inspire Americans with student debt to unionize, the Rolling Jubilee Fund, a project of Strike Debt, has purchased and abolished a portfolio of private student loans issued to Everest students.

Strike Debt is also launching a new initiative – The Debt Collective, which will “create a platform for organization, advocacy and resistance by debtors”.

“Solutions are not going to happen if we just wait for Congress to do it,” says Thomas Gokey, one of the organizers. “We need a social movement. We need debtors to unite to exert collective power.”

The portfolio was valued at – to be exact – $3,856,866.11 in student debt.

In the vast scheme of things, $3.8m is barely a drop in the bucket as the student debt owed by Americans has now surpassed $1tn.

The gesture, however, is meant to be symbolic as it proves that debt can be conquered – and at a discount. Rolling Jubilee bought the $3.8m worth of student loans for a total of $106,709.48 in cash. That’s about 3¢ for $1 of student debt.

“The Rolling Jubilee doesn’t actually solve the problem. The Rolling Jubilee is a tactic and a valuable one because it exposes how debt operates,” says Gokey.

“It punches a hole through the morality of debt, through this idea that you owe X amount of dollars that the 1% says you owe. In reality, that debt is worth significantly less. The 1% is selling it to each other at bargain-based prices. You don’t actually owe that.”

The 1% in this scenario are the companies issuing private student loans and the debt buyers, who often purchase student loan portfolios like the one purchased by the Rolling Jubilee.

This is not the first time that the group has shown that consumer debt can be purchased for cents on the dollar.

Last year, the group managed to buy $13.5m of medical debt owed by 2,693 people as well as $1.2m of other personal debt for a total of $400,000.

The funds that are making these purchases possible came directly from the US public. For little over a year, from November 2012 to end of December 2013, Rolling Jubilee was accepting donations from its supporters. The campaign was able to raise about $700,000.

“It’s really a crowdsourced project,” says Laura Hanna, one of the members, noting that majority of contributions were quite small.

Click on the link below to continue reading the article:

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/sep/17/occupy-activists-student-debt-corinthian-colleges

 

September 19, 2014

The Strange Case of An 18th-Century Sex Change Surgery [newrepublic.com]

by Alice Robb / newrepublic.com

One day in 1779, a London couple, seeking treatment for their seven-year-old daughter, showed up at the Soho Square Dispensary for the Relief of the Infant Poor. The first doctor thought she might have a hernia. The second had a different idea.

“I shall not trouble the reader with the surprise into which the parents were thrown when I first told them their child was not a girl, as they had supposed, but a boy,” wrote the second doctor. The case was recently discovered in the archives of the University of Kansas and written up in the latest issue of the journal Sexualities.

mistakenIn the early 2000s, Carol Warrenthen a professor of sociology at the University of Kansaswas researching the history of electricity in the college’s rare books library when she noticed an old pamphlet with an eye-catching title: “The case of a boy who had been mistaken for a girl; with three anatomical views of the parts, before and after the operation and cure,” by a surgeon called Thomas Brand. “I was looking through a bunch of materials that had been shoved together, and this one appeared,” recalls Warren.

According to Brand’s report, published in 1787, he noticed an “irregularity” in the patient’s “external parts.” After further examination, he concluded that the child’s “part, which had the appearance of the labia pudenda, was in fact the scrotum,” and suggested an “operation to free the penis from its confinement.” He went ahead and made some alterations, enabling the childwhose name is unknown“to urinate standing up, wear trousers, and enjoy the privileges of being a male.” Brand, who practiced at the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, was “not a quack,” according to Mary Fissell, a professor of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins who I spoke to on the phone.

Eight pages long, with three illustrations of the child’s anatomy, the pamphlet may describe one of the earliest instances of sex-change surgery. “The first case that I found (in America) was in the 1840s, and it was received quite critically by fellow physicians,” writes Elizabeth Reis, author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex and professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Oregon, in an email.

Brand saw the operation not as sex change, but as a means of returning the child to his “proper” gender; Brand seemed to believe that only two distinct sexes were possible. He denied the existence of hermaphrodites, although he was familiar with the concept: “The term ‘hermaphrodite’ is properly understood as an animal that has both the male and female organs equally and perfectly formed,” he wrote. “But,” he goes on, “There is no reason to believe that such a case ever had existence in the human subject.”

Brand’s attitude toward sex and gender was consistent with the predominant view of his time; according to eighteenth-century norms, sex was a medical fact that had nothing to do with choice or personal expression. In fact, neither the patient nor his parents seem to have even been consulted. “Gender wasn’t conceived of as a form of identity,” says Warren. “It was conceived of as a form of body.” The idea of a person being “transgender,” of course, is not something that would enter common conception until about two centuries later.

Click on the link continue reading the article…

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