Mic Check–We’re Still Here

Occupy Providence met in Burnside Park tonight for General Assembly. About thirty people of all ages, backgrounds and conditions attended. The weather had shifted back into unnatural warmth, but still. Getting thirty people to gather in January in the middle of Downtown, right after work and with no parking–that’s impressive.

I should know, because I used to do events. Getting people to assemble indoors with free food is not a sure thing.

There was a diversity of opinion on the impact of the decision to cease overnight occupation of the park. Some saw it as a surrender, others as letting go of an action that was drawing attention from the core issue– economic justice. The crowd that gathered around the statue of General Burnside bore witness to the impact of the recession. Elders and teenagers, all races and conditions of life, drawn to this action by a common sense that now is the time to act.

I was Downtown in 2001 when the Towers fell. There was a sense, then, of our common humanity. It seemed then like all the veils fell away, and we were all just Americans. And such a love and grief for our country. We all wanted to do something, but our leaders had no good word to give us. And soon we were herded into a war we never asked for.

I think the love of country that rang so true in 2001, lives. A potential energy ready to move us into the next phase. This is what Democracy looks like.

Occupy Providence can still be found in Burnside Park, in the person of some dedicated volunteers who keep a presence there in the day. And the Occupation will hold General Assembly at locations all over the city and state.

This Saturday, February 4 at 2pm, General Assembly will meet at Knight Memorial Library, 275 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, on the bus line. Free and open to the public.

Occupy Phase II

Thanks, Occupy

I stopped by Burnside Park yesterday with some coffee and took away some Occu-debris. Then I went to First UU, like Paul Revere (sort of). Get on downtown and join the cleanup!

Amazing what they did, working till 1:30am. The tents are down, materials in neat stacks. The ground is raked, the fountain clean.

All of us who support the call of economic justice for the 99% have our work cut out for us. Emmanuel House can use our support. General Assembly will continue to meet twice a week. The City of Providence has declared a ten-year plan to house all its residents and end homelessness. This can happen if we keep on track.

Follow Occupy Providence on Facebook for locations of GA.

Richard Salit from the Providence Journal covers the park cleanup and departure, not online yet- but on the front page of the print edition today.

Thank you to everyone who braved the cold and the uncertainty. You are an inspiration. The work is just beginning.


Today, Sunday 29 January, volunteers are needed at Burnside Park to pack up the tents and leave the space clean.

If you have a truck, even better.

Parking is awful. Bring your love energy. Providence has created the best Occupation nationwide– let’s show the world that we are ready for the next step– taking the General Assembly statewide, to hear the voice of the 99% in Olneyville, Central Falls, Woonsocket and all our cities and towns.

UPDATE: I went by about 7pm. Cleanup is still in progress, neat open space between tents being taken down. Lots of stuff still to move. I’m taking a load to Johnston Landfill tomorrow in my tiny car. If you are inclined to lend a hand, there’s still time.

UPDATE II: As of 8:30, looking good. One truck on site, tents mostly packed, some still there. I don’t know if Occupy will be able to complete the move by dawn, but much neater, more organized than even a couple of hours ago.

Book Sale in East Greenwich for St. Cecilia Choir

There will be a book sale on February 3rd from 9 am to 3 pm at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Greenwich. Proceeds from the sale will go to support the St. Cecilia’s children’s choir, of which my daughter is a proud member. While the rest of the world is obsessing over what snacks to serve for the Superbowl, you can be in East Greenwich browsing a great selection of books and scoring some deals. Hope to see you there!

This looks good….

food to glow

Recently, on a particularly dreary day, I found myself flicking wistfully through the  travel section of a broadsheet newspaper. As I sat on the sofa, slumped in my none-too-glam trackie bottoms and fleece-lined Crocs I tortured myself with page after page of unobtainable ‘bourgeois’ – which I believe is Russian for ‘jealous-making’ – holiday destinations. I ogled double-page spread after double-page spread of nut-brown bodies frolicking on pristine, deserted beaches, drooled over photos of towel-clad bodies being pummeled by tiny ladies with big muscles, and scanned ads promising, variously, views of the Northern lights, ‘big game’ and Alpine meadows in bloom. All while sitting listening to hail zing off the roof. And contemplating the wind shredding more twigs and branches from our scarily-close oak tree.

Well wouldn’t you know, all of this holiday lusting and tree-paranoia made me hungry.

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Amputations Bad–Public Health Good

If you spend a lot of your working time nagging people to keep their blood sugar under control and to take good care of their feet you will appreciate this. From the Centers for Disease Control…

CDC report finds large decline in lower-limb amputations among U.S. adults with diagnosed diabetes

The rate of leg and foot amputations among U.S. adults aged 40 and older with diagnosed diabetes declined by 65 percent between 1996 and 2008, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published today in the journal, Diabetes Care. The age–adjusted rate of nontraumatic lower–limb amputations was 3.9 per 1,000 people with diagnosed diabetes in 2008 compared to 11.2 per 1,000 in 1996. Non–traumatic lower–limb amputations refer to those caused by circulatory problems that are a common complication among people with diabetes rather than amputations caused by injuries.

The study, “Declining Rates of Hospitalization for Nontraumatic Lower–Extremity Amputation in the Diabetic Population Aged 40 years or Older: U.S., 1988–2008,” is published in the current online issue of Diabetes Care.

The study also found that among people with diagnosed diabetes in 2008, men had higher age–adjusted rates of leg and foot amputations than women (6 per 1,000 vs. 1.9), and blacks had higher rates than whites (4.9 per 1,000 vs. 2.9). Adults aged 75 years and older had the highest rate – 6.2 per 1,000 – compared to other age groups.

The study authors note that improvements in blood sugar control, foot care and diabetes management, along with declines in cardiovascular disease, are likely to have contributed to the decline in leg and foot amputations among people with diagnosed diabetes.

Awesome. This kind of progress comes from educating the public, engaging health care workers, and lots of government involvement. And everyone knows that it’s better to have legs than not. I see that up close all the time.

When I started out as an aide in a nursing home, back in the mid-80’s, bedsores were common and the general attitude was just beginning to shift from ‘nothing can be done’ to ‘we’d better do something or Medicare is going to whack us.’ It’s no longer routine or accepted that people get bedsores, and the people I see now who have them tend to be very immobile or paralyzed. It’s a terrible problem that is best prevented. But prevention required a big investment of labor and an attitude adjustment. The payoff comes later.

I gotta run to work, I have lots of people to nag. Have a nice day.

Some Historical Context on the Prayer Banner Controversy

My overall analysis is that the real problem we have right now in Rhode Island is not that the Cranston Schools had a banner hanging in an auditorium that had a prayer on it. The real problem is that our economy is sagging big time, and we need to figure out how to turn that around. But the prayer banner controversy does define an important distinction about what government can and cannot do. The thoughts of Oswald Krell also serve to give more historical context to the discussion:

[…]To begin: any sentence that contains “the founding fathers believed/thought/said/wanted/intended/were, etc is necessarily wrong.

Yes. wrong.

The founding fathers were not a monolithic bunch. Exactly the opposite. They were a group of men, many of whom had long years of experience in politics in some form. As such, as a group and for the most part, they understood the necessity of compromise. Not all of them; there were some doctrinaire ideologues, especially in the earlier days, but they were weeded out as time passed.

A great example of this is Sam Adams–whose father was a brewer, by the way. He played a major role in the early days of the protests that led up to the outbreak of fighting, but he did not have the political chops to play any role in congress during the war.