Friday, February 26, 2010

Ugly All Around Makes Beauty Glow

Was it just that it's Friday, the last day of the shortest month, and the news media are winding down, or is today just a sewer-story day?

It started with me getting my shorts in a knot reading a story about Angel Food Ministries, an Atlanta area (supposed) nonprofit where the CEO is getting something in the neighborhood of $1MLN for a salary, plus perks including a corporate jet. Others are apparently upset, so I'll let this be someone else's problem.... but I can assure you my salary/perks for HEAR US don't quite hit this benchmark.

Then the shit-splattering story of NY gov David Paterson's demise. His wanton disregard of any good sense, much less legal behavior, re: his aide's alleged domestic violence incidents make me, a non-New Yorker, want to scream for his head on a platter. The competition between NY and IL on bad governors has heated up considerably.

Perhaps I'm suffering from a serious Health Care Summit hangover. I sort of watched yesterday as I slogged through other tasks. Considering this was a last-ditch opportunity to cement some decent deal for the American people, I'd say it was a little too polite and a little light on impassioned focus. Imagine standing on the shore, watching a bunch of people drowning, with a lifeboat nearby, and pointing to the poor suckers going down for the last time, "gee, looks like they might be having hard times..."

All that ugly makes Beauty glow. Last Friday morning I met with Starkville, MS Mayor Parker Wiseman, a new, young mayor in one of the poorest areas in Mississippi. He and Alderwoman Sandra Sistrunk sat and had a sincerely compassionate discussion with me about how the tragic fire that killed 3 women and 6 little children at the end of December has spurred their concern that others might, without intervention, suffer the same fate. They promised to convene local agencies and leaders to examine the current safety net and repair if necessary. Here's a quick little petition to thank them for caring. 

And, I took the above photo while in Las Cruces, NM last month. I had met with the mayor there, screened our new documentary, now called "On the Edge" (working title), and connected with some like-minded people there. Mayor Ken has called to let me know he's still working on some short and long-term solutions.

Much to my delight, I learned about another woman traveling the country to raise awareness of homeless children. Agnes Stevens, 75, who started and ran the nonprofit "School on Wheels"  that tutors and provides school supplies for homeless kids, is now traveling the country exploring and encouraging efforts to help this mostly invisible population. Check her blog for a delightful change from all the ugliness.

Seems to me it's getting way too easy to get caught in the mud-slinging, greedy grabbing, business as way-too-usual of power-mongers. That's why the people I meet along the road, and new-roadies like Agnes brighten my day. They're real, they're trying to do good despite the sewer-swirl around them, and they remind me that, as a button from folk singer Anne Feeney reminds me every day, "There's a whole lot more of us then there are of you!"   

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