Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Often Awesome Army of Heroes

I have been heartened by the incredible coming together of friends, family and the larger community in Greensboro, NC to support a young man stricken by ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). The Often Awesome Army produced an award winning web series focusing on Tim LaFollette's spiral into the disease and how people came together to be with him and Kaylan.

A hometown friend has beautifully described his relationship to Tim and what community means to those who survive him. His blog is here along with links to learn more about Often Awesome and their work.    

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rural Georgia Just Can't Help Itself

I saw this via Twitter and blog post  last night, did some checking around, and unfortunately it seems to be what Grace Baptist Church in Hazlehurst intended for their sign, not a photoshop effort. I agree that the intent of this sign is not just a "vote him out" message if you read the fuller version of this passage in the Bible. Wishing any child to be fatherless, or a woman to be a widow, goes beyond the bounds of civil engagement.  

This church is known for controversial, and often hurtful, language on their signs based on what I have read. it reflects so poorly on all Christians, and Baptists in particular who do not share such mean-spirited and narrow views.

The church's email address bounces but the minister's does not. It is funbap@aol.com. The church didn't answer nor have voicemail when I called to confirm the email address.

I agree with Georgia Politico that the local leaders should respond to this. It reflects poorly on their community. I suppose it would be a stretch to hope that any Baptist organization might come forward and denounce this type of hate speech.

At the very least, the church should lose its non-profit status based on improper political action prohibited by 501 (C) (3) guidelines. Perhaps there is also some value into a little "look see' by the FBI or Secret Service for making threats.    

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Civics Lesson

Last night people from across Georgia came together to comment on an air permit for Plant Washington, a proposed coal fired power plant which would be built near Sandersville, my rural home. The opponents of the plant outnumbered the pro-plant speakers, with only 2 of the 24 supporting the plant.

Two doctors ran through a long and scary list of illnesses and diseases resulting from exposure to a coal plant. Many of these include the horribly damaging impact of coal on pregnant women and their developing babies, as well as young children. Dr. Yolanda White said that because the plant toxins settle in the lower layer of the air, children are exposed to more toxins because of their height and because they breathe faster and more often (which makes sense but I had never thought about it).

At the close of what had been a vey polite two hours, someone from Milledgeville spoke. He began by praising everyone for doing their homework and about a project that will have permanent effects on our community's health and natural resources. He thought the community had set a real example of civic engagement.

Then he cautioned us that we are bargaining badly if local leaders continue to support the
plant. Because he lives near Plant Branch he spoke from experience as an educator and
concerned citizen.

I am proud of the way students, friends and neighbors, strangers, and national leaders in protecting rural communities and their natural resources from environmental injustices worked together to make case after case on the reasons the state should not issue the permit. I hope the elected officials, business leaders, and EMC board members took our comments to heart.
It takes courage to stand up and be among the few who are willing to put their community's health and safety above profits and power (literally and figuratively). I am stand with them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Speaking out is risky. Not speaking out can be riskier.

In the middle of July between work and my mother's health crisis, someone in my community asked me if I had read the weekly column written by the owner of "The Sandersville Progress." When I got a copy my hair stood up.

The column, which appeared in the July 19 edition in my hometown, was run in all Trib Publications
(approximately 40) and is online via a Fayette County paper Tribble owns. Read the full column here.

I sent the column to some friends to make sure I wasn't just experiencing a knee jerk response. Their responses were thoughtful but in agreement; name calling and intolerance of the very things that make our country unique merited more than a letter to the editor.

With their help, I launched a petition asking Tribble to apologize for name calling and narrow-mindedness. A few folks have suggested asking advertisers to boycott the paper until an apology is issued. In the end, these small town merchants need to use what they can to promote their businesses in a tight economy.

My response is intended to encourage others to speak up and say that they also disagree with Tribble's narrow-minded bullying language. Folks in my community are used to me speaking up, and I have won friends and made enemies as a result.

I hope that you will sign the petition and share it. If you want to send a full letter please send it to me and I will get it delivered. Tribble doesn't use email, but I am willing to work a little harder to share your response if you help.

Please check back. This isn't over. If we don't speak up, the name calling and verbal bullying won't end. Ever.