Sunday, October 26, 2014

Getting Ready for Another NaNoWriMo!

I've decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, once again this year. And this time I'm determined to complete a first draft within the time allotted! I'm in a much better place for that than I've been in past years,because lately I've actually been doing writing exercises!

A 3 year old friend of Henry's gave me a set of Rory's Story Cubes a bit ago. Lately I've been using them I as a daily writing exercise! The story cubes, if you don't know, are essentially a set of 9 picture dice that are meant to inspire story telling games. The set I have is the 'voyages' theme so it has lots of unusual objects and creatures.

I've been hand-writing these exercises, and I intend to hand-write during NaNoWriMo as well. I used to always hand-write my first draft and then type the second one. I feel a return to that habit well get my creative juices flowing better.

And I also have a kick-as fantasy plot ready for this second novel if mine. I can't wait to get started!

Related posts:
A Novel Accomplishment
My Goal for NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo 2013 Wrap-Up (A Little Early) NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up and More! (2012)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Let's Talk about ALL THE THINGS!

Lots of things on my mind to share today, so I'm just gonna get to it...

Marriage Momentum
Can you believe the awesomeness that is #MarriageMomentum?! Same sex marriage is becoming legal in so many places! Even in KANSAS! I mean, what!? It's so great! Missouri is at least recognizing same sex marriages performed in other states, but I'm shocked that Kansas beat us to fully granting them. Happily shocked. And jealous!

Blog Action Day
For the first time in I-don't-know-how-many years, I missed posting on Blog Action Day. But you can check out the bloggers who did write about inequality on the Blog Action Day site.

Young Feminist Leaders
It's fantastic seeing young women at the forefront of social change being represented in the media in such positive ways! Kudos to Emma Watson for her work with the United Nations and to Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai for her tireless activism!

It's On Us
FINALLY a campaign that addresses the source of rape and assault issues. FUCK YEAH! I'm stoked about this campaign and the way that dialogues about feminism are changing in our society. It's about damn time ^_^

Parents as Teachers
I'm loving this program! Henry just started it this semester. Not only do we get a monthly home visit, but we also get access to all kind of special free events (most recently the Zoomobile, and there's a pumpkin patch event tomorrow), special toys and books, play dates and more. It's such a great resource.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
Through Parents as Teachers, I discovered and enrolled Henry in the Imagination Library, which sends KC-area kids, ages 5 years old and below, a free book each month. Henry's first one just arrived earlier this week. He received "The Little Engine Who Could." He really likes it and I love seeing the pictures that I remember from when I was a child. (But the story is way more repetitive than I remember. I admit, I leave out quite a bit when I read it to him.)

Royals Going to the World Series
WAY TO GO ROYALS! This hasn't happened since I was like 3. Which is probably why I lost all interest in baseball... But I'm still glad they're winning for a change. 

Related posts:
Love and Civil Rights
Blog Action Day: Stop Forced Evictions in Kenya
Lawrence Lessig on the Problem with American Politics
2 Must-Read Posts on Steubenville

Monday, October 6, 2014

Kansas City Regional Equity Network's 3rd Annual Summit

On Saturday, I attended the 3rd annual summit of the Kansas City Regional Equity Network. The summit's focus was Social Equity & Transportation. I'd never heard of the Equity Network before, but seeing as I'm deeply interested in the topics they would be covering, I thought I'd go and see what happened. I'm so glad I dids!

The KC Regional Equity Network is a group of "change makers" pulling together to make our region a place where everyone can connect to the resources and opportunities they need to learn, grow and prosper. The Equity Network is concerned with the following issues: education, housing, environment, land use, development, healthy communities, transportation, and workforce development.

As I mentioned previously, this summit was focused on social equity and transportation. There was a keynote speaker, followed by a panel discussion, and ending with break-out groups. Some of the issues raised included:

  • youth culture's preference for walkable communities
  • potential changes & upgrades to public transit
  • the need for a regional transit plan/system
  • the need for community voices in transit planning
  • potential policy changes esp. re: low-income housing and tax abatement
  • connections between jobs and transit opportunities
  • the need to re-invest in city areas that have been abandoned
  • the need for mixed-use communities and mixed-use housing
So many ideas were flying and people were so energized! I was really glad I attended.

I think the Equity Network really has a good thing going. I appreciate how their focus on equity covers so many problem areas in our region. I feel like this is an organization that I can get behind 100% and expect to see results!

I plan to attend their quarterly meeting in November and see how I can say involved from there. This is a group I DO NOT want to lose touch with!

Related posts:
I Want to Ride My Bicycle
Vintage Transit (Video)
How I Fell In Love with Alternative Transportation
How to Live Car-Free in the Midwest

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Today is Bisexual Pride Day!

Today (September 23) is Bisexual Pride Day - a day to recognize, celebrate, and honor bisexual individuals. According to Huffington Post's article "Bisexual Visibility Day: 22 Reasons We're Celebrating," 'Bisexual people make up more than fifty percent of the LGBT community, yet are often invisible because we're perceived as straight or gay, depending on the gender of our partners.'

Speaking from my own personal experience, identifying as bisexual was one hellish encounter after another as straight and gay folk alike would mock and belittle my sexual identity. Sex with women "didn't count" or else I was "selling out" or "passing/pretending" by being with a male partner, etc. Even in the LGBT support group at my college, I was so mocked by the leadership that I stopped attending meetings and began avoiding nearly every person I'd met there.

As the years went on, I started to HATE the term bisexual because it became a symbol of all that hatred and judgement others put on me, so I now identify as queer. And I'm not the only one. According to a new study on bisexual American youth released by the Human Rights Campaign, many bisexual youths surveyed defined themselves as either "queer" or "pansexual," rather than bisexual.

You can increase your awareness of the struggles bisexual persons face by:


If you're interested in learning about famous bisexual persons, check out Huffington Post's slideshow on 28 bisexual celebrities.

Related posts:
Where's the B in LGBT?
A Step Forward for Trans Persons' Equality
Spirit Day for LGTBQ Youth

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Event Pics: 2014 Kansas City Chalk & Walk Festival

I finally got around to editing my pics from this weekend, so get ready!

My gal pals and I had decided to all draw Thomas Hart Benton paintings, in keeping with the "What Makes KC Great?" theme - one of three the festival had this year. And, like I said before, I chose "Romance," which I kind of regret ONLY because there was a lot of brown in the image that was nearly the same color as the bricks! It was hard to make it POP like I wanted it to.




Henry came with me Saturday, and stayed from 9 AM-4:30 PM with barely a fuss. It was awesome! At first he enjoyed "helping" Mama draw...




...but then he decided to hop around and enjoy the wide open space. He spent the rest of the day either playing with Angry Birds on my tablet, Pre-K apps on my phone, or running and hopping about being adorable.





Despite the gorgeous weather and Henry's cuteness, I was not really into drawing on Saturday. Maybe because 2 of my girlfriends who are usually there were out of town. Or maybe because I started off coloring the brown parts which didn't look at all exciting. Either way, I perked up when my Older Brother #2 showed up and helped me start laying down the sky colors. I felt much cheerier about my piece after that.


This is what I had at the end of the day, plus dirty knees, and a very tired toddler.




Sunday was another beautiful day. I got started adding more shading and color over what I'd done the previous day, before moving on to finish drawing the figures, etc. My friend Darcy came by to help and hang out, but I somehow managed not to get any pictures of her! :O



Sooner than I expected, I was all finished up!


I was pretty happy with the results, but everyone else liked it better than me, I think.

After I finished, I got to see my friend Stacey making balloon animals for kids, and visit the Typewriter Oracle who'd write you a poem after you asked her a question.



 And, of course, I went around looking at all the other chalk drawings. I didn't get a lot of good pictures of other people's drawings, because by then it was that magic hour where the shade and sun were competing and lots of my pictures turned out just plain BAD. But here are the ones I managed to get (the first 3 are the Benton pieces my friends made).






















Below are the featured 3D artists. I was jelly that they got to work on concrete instead of brick. It's so much easier to get vibrant color on concrete!





Oh, and I got a mention in the KC Star.

Did you make it out this weekend? If so, what did you think?

Related posts:
2013 Plaza Art Fair (Event Pics)
2013 KC Chalk & Walk Festival (Event Pics)
Event Pics: KC Chalk & Walk Festival (2012)
Event Pics: Chalk Walk in the Historic Northeast (2012)
Event Pics: SlutWalk / Chalk Drawing Demo
Event Pics: 2011 Chalk & Walk Festival

Friday, September 5, 2014

Don't Miss the 2014 Kansas City Chalk & Walk Festival!


Tomorrow (9/6/14) and Sunday are the Kansas City Chalk & Walk Festival at Crown Center! You won't want to miss it! I'll be re-creating "Romance," a painting by Thomas Hart Benton (and I hear there will be 7 other Bentons this year), which you can see below.



Lotti, the festival organizer, emailed me this great info on the painting:

A simple, yet charming, painting of a young couple in love. Be aware that when Benton painted this in the early 1930’s, public displays of affection between African-Americans were often illegal because of Jim Crow Laws. It was considered disgusting and shocking. But two people holding hands while walking in the moonlight has always occurred, and Benton recognized this. The original painting was owned by the author James Michener, who later donated it to the University of Texas Art Museum. 
Hope to see you there!

Related posts:
2013 KC Chalk & Walk Festival (Event Pics)
Event Pics: KC Chalk & Walk Festival (2012)
Event Pics: 6th Annual Chalk Walk in the Historic Northeast

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We Need to Talk... About Race

I haven't talked about the murder in Ferguson of Michael Brown, mostly because it's part of such an enormous issue affecting our country that I felt utterly overwhelmed. I was happy to receive an email from my friend Janet, linking to the New York Times opinion piece by Charles M. Blow, "Constructing a Conversation on Race", because it gave me a mental starting point for thinking about all this.

For those who won't click through to read the entire article, here are some excerpts:

A true racial dialogue is not intra-racial but interracial. It is not one-directional — from minorities to majorities — but multidirectional. Data must be presented. Experiences must be explored. Histories and systems must be laid bare. Biases, fears, stereotype and mistrust must be examined. Personal — as well as societal and cultural — responsibility must be taken.

And privileges and oppressions must be acknowledged. We must acknowledge how each of us is, in myriad ways, materially and spiritually affected by a society in which bias has been widely documented to exist and in which individuals also acknowledge that it exists.

...

Understanding this fundamental inequality, one that trails each of us from cradle to grave, is one of the first steps to genuine, honest dialogue, because in that context we can better understand the choice that people make and the degree to which personal responsibility should be taken or the degree to which it is causative or curative.

And while acknowledging the inequality, and hopefully working to remedy it, we have to find ways to encourage and fortify its targets. I often tell people that while I know well that things aren’t fair or equal, we still have to decide how we are going to deal with that reality, today. The clock on life is ticking. If you wait for life to be fair you may be waiting until life is over. I urge people to fight on two fronts: Work to dismantle as much systematic bias as you can, as much for posterity as for the present, and make the best choice you can under the circumstances to counteract the effects of these injustices on your life right now. 

Next, understand that race is a weaponized social construct used to divide and deny... [W]e have tuned our minds to register this difference above all others, in the blink of an eye. As National Geographic reported in October, “A study of brain activity at the University of Colorado at Boulder showed that subjects register race in about one-tenth of a second, even before they discern gender.” This means that racial registration — and responses to any subconscious bias we may have attached to race — are most likely happening ahead of any deliberative efforts on our part to be egalitarian. (Source
I know that I certainly process race first when looking at strangers. We were at Independence Center with Henry last week and I noticed that when I scanned the crowd, I processed information on people in this order: race, age, and gender. It was the first time I'd been so conscious of how I mentally categorize people, and it shocked me.

On the other hand, I've been aware of the privileges afforded me based on having white skin for many years. I've seen first-hand how local cops will harass law-abiding black men, and every time I see 3 or 4 cop cars parked on the side of the road, I know I'll find a black man handcuffed and sitting on the curb somewhere in the midst of it. Meanwhile, if a white guy gets arrested, it's a one cop operation. My uncle used to say, sardonically, "Who likes being white?" when a white person would talk about issues with the cops that they got out of for "no apparent reason." Prisons aren't filled mostly with African-American men by accident...

In her email to me and others, Janet, after linking to the NYT piece, stated:

At one time in Kansas City there were four organizations of which I was aware that offered such interracial conversations during what Charles Blow calls “dormant” times: Panel of American Women, National Conference of Christians & Jews (later known as National Conference of Community & Justice or NCCJ), Project Equality and Harmony In a World of Difference (later known as Kansas City Harmony). After attempting to shift to becoming all volunteer, the Panel of American Women closed its doors shortly after Harmony In a World of Difference began in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s. The original Project Equality closed its doors in 2007. In 2005 NCCJ and Harmony merged to become Harmony NCCJ and then ceased to exist a few years later 2009 (?).

Except for consultants in private practice, I know of no organization whose specific purpose it is to help folks engage in interracial dialogue. High on my list of favorite ways to spend my time is facilitating folks to talk and engage across lines of difference and educating in ways to do so. I even got to do that in South Africa for a week ten years ago. Yes, there are folks who are doing projects “for”/”with” one another (such as gardening, cleaning up vacant lots, etc.) which is one valuable way to connect across lines of difference. My mantra about this is that facilitating and having interracial dialogue is a highly valuable component of healthily relating, one culture with another, and if not done up front can undermine what would have otherwise been good work.

If there are any folks out there who want to work to bring about such a program to provide dialogue and learning venues in the KC area, please contact me. (Personal email, 8/21/14)
You can get in touch with Janet regarding an inter-racial dialogue through her email at janetbridgeworks AT gmail.com.

Personally, I'm looking forward to taking part in an upcoming group reading of The New Jim Crow, which Janet is putting together.

I refuse to believe that these injustices cannot be righted. I believe future generations will look on back on these times as being a type of dark ages, and I'm doing all I can to bring on the Enlightenment!

Related posts:
Tony's Take on Racism in the Kansas City Area [Guest Post]
Racism in the Kansas City Area: 1900s - Present
Racism in the Kansas City Area: Western Expansion - 1800s
Racism in the Kansas City Area
Perception and Reaction to Racism Not Equal
Continuum of Acceptance
Black Inventors and their Inventions