Take care of your home and make friends with neighbors
“It may be agreeable for certain people to live a retired life in a quiet place away from noise and disturbance. But it is certainly more praiseworthy and courageous to practice Buddhism living among your fellow beings helping them and being of service to them.”
-- Walpola Sri Rahula
As I sit here at the ripe old age of 71 contemplating almost daily retiring to live a life of quiet solitude, this statement stares me in the face. As it should stare every one of us in the face. People who state, “It depresses me too much to go into problem areas” or “my husband won’t allow it.” (Really, I have had 2 women say that to me.) Oh, “We have to move our business-agency-etc. to another area; it’s getting too dangerous, or our audience will no longer venture into that area!” I recoil.
The flight of the middle class and even some of the lower economic venues is one of the biggest destructive forces in urban decay. Stay, take care of your own strip of land, make friends with your neighbors. Petta’s has been doing that for almost as long as I have been alive. Look at Morette’s Steak Sandwiches, Ferrari’s… the Japanese Restaurant on Van Vranken Avenue, and all the Stewart’s who thrive in those odd dangerous locations. Bravo.
And yes, I frequent them, I buy pizza at Newest Lunch for QUEST. I shop at the local dollar store, and Fabio’s. When we shop small, shop local -- shouldn’t that include some of these neighborhood places as well as upper Union Street? Dunkin' Donuts on State Street where all the homeless hang is an inspiration to all of us. When the non-profits start fleeing the very areas they are supposed to help I am ashamed. I think that funding for anyone who flees urban blight should be reduced.
Why is SCCC in downtown Schenectady when most of it’s students come from the poorer areas of our community? Social services should have their buildings right in the center of its clients, not in an inaccessible area of Broadway. And almost all the patrons of Bow Tie Cinema are from the Hill. Now we have D.J. after-hours clubs opening up closer to the center of the city and, well, they are quickly being closed down by the city. Violent, yes, and I don’t condone that, but Bomber’s has had its share of bad things happening; the Labor Temple just behind City Hall, as well as the restaurant/bars on Erie Blvd. also.
We need a mixture of class genres as any major city will tell you. We need a youth nightclub downtown, not in Woodlawn. Where is the funk, the excitement? Arts are a growing explosive investment. Arts are not geared to only middle class families. Most great art starts in poverty and chaos, not happy family values. All right if that’s what we want to call it what it is. A nice middle class family venue, not art.
We might as well put up a sign that says -- “Attention -- you will be safe here!” We even have modest quiet tasteful Christmas Decorations. Where’s the dancing downtown bear who donned the tutu every Christmas? And the city tree? Fully onme-half of it is a giant box bearing the name of the bank who pays for it. Is there any place downtown where kids can visit Santa daily? Saratoga has a little house for a street Santa. Proctor’s Arcade is the perfect spot to have a Mr. and Mrs. Santa in residence. A popcorn vendor would be nice.
Legitimate cities have food vendors everywhere. And, oh yes, we don’t even have a museum anymore. Schenectady Museum just folded and became a “science” spot. Who goes and why not? Do we still say yes we have an arts district? I hope not because we do not. We have become officious and prissy right out of a 1950s movie. Numbers don’t work for me, vibrance does, excitement and discovery. This was once a city of moving forward, pushing our way, leading the way into the future. NOT. We keep trying to return to “Father Knows Best.”
And thanks to Jim O’ Connor and his wonderful response to my blog -- the last line gave me a much needed chuckle.
“One hopes the job coach is unable to return a call because they are out cultivating prospective employers, not sitting reading help-wanted ads.”
And pertaining to that quote, Christina is still without a job. And pertaining to that, a national education program came up with this. “Certificate programs are a waste of time and money, unless you already have a degree and want to add a little glitter to your resume. Otherwise you will find yourself on a treadmill going from certificate program to certificate program. And getting nowhere.”
And this one -- a laugh out loud one. Four experts speaking out about experiential education.
“There was an important study done in Brazil about mathematic skills on the middle school level. Children of middle school age attending school and children of middle school age who have dropped out of school. Tests showed (SURPRISE) the dropouts had better basic math skills than those still in school. REASON -- those dropouts were on the streets running their own businesses; gee, I wonder what kind. And using scales and pricing and selling. Products had to be precise or they folded and/or maybe even were shot.”
Which leaves us with the axiom:
“What I hear -- I may listen to
What I see -- I may remember
What I do -- I understand”
Hands on folks -- hands on
“Things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.”
-- Carlos Castaneda
It’s funny but on Facebook, as soon as the issue of crime comes up, the gun guys come out. I say gun guys because I have yet to see a woman’s voice raised in praise of deadly weapons. All these macho men speak out and brag how they would handle deadly situations. The one is particular raising their ire, was the triple stabbing in Troy. All these honchos stated if personal guns were more freely allowed no one would have died. Maybe. But picture 3 of women, pulling out pistols to shoot the assailant, with a knife. Maybe a better outcome after all. We will never know. But maybe a better outcome with stronger domestic abuse laws, and orders of protection with real teeth.
It’s not all about the bullets, it’s about the property issues of men owning their women -- it’s about slavery and possession. It’s about mental health, and the idea that a woman’s place is wherever her man tells her it is. It’s about servitude and attitude and it’s about children who come from abusive families and grow up to be abusers. It’s about walking away from what is seen and heard. It’s about saying “not my problem.”
Well, someday maybe it will be your problem. Bullying -- it starts there and ends there. And often it ends with death. Thank you sports broadcaster Bob Costas for speaking out on national TV about gun violence and death. After the murder-suicide? Of (who was this) a major domestic violence scene. Those of you who think guns are great, fine, it’s your opinion, but don’t try to justify to me, instead come down to pistol land, places I work in and out of, and lend a hand.
'Cause by golly, by letting me and my staff, who are all female, do it alone, you are hiding behind women. Voice your opinion but do the work too, you are needed. By the way, how many guns came into the gun buy-back program? And how many were BB guns or air rifles? How many were still usable or were tired old malfunctioning pistols? How many were working semi automatics? And are we taking rounds of ammo too. Just an enquiring mind wanting to know. Numbers please, we have to give them for everything else. Gun control, violence control -- personal responsibility -- it’s an issue whose time has come.
And then there are those who never-never- ever answer, you know the ones who don’t return your phone calls, the ones who say they want to help- who glad hand you and pat you on the back and never show up to volunteer. Who say, “Oh, I am so glad you called, I’ll call you after Thanksgiving or Christmas, or New Years, or the second coming. You know you are. Don’t waste my time, because I will keep calling you and reminding you because we all have a responsibility in this world. If you can’t come out and be straight forward remember this German Proverb.
“No answer is also an answer.”
I leave you with this lovely statement, if only we all could live up to it. Each and every one of us should make a resolution as we move into a new year to became a lover as JoAnne A. says -- it’s the most important.
“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peace makers, healers, restorers, story tellers and lovers of all kinds.”
-- Dalai Lama
And I remind you I am a master story teller. I have traveled the world over telling tales. And I am for hire. The money you pay me will go to support QUEST.
HAPPY HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
It is now officially December