I’ve been told I’m a pessimist by quite a few people. I’ll admit that when I smell flowers I do tend to look around for a casket. Isn’t a pessimist just an optimist with experience? I’ve just had one of those days where it is hard to be a pessimist. I talk a lot about the value of community and wanting a better world for my kids. Today I came out of my winter hibernation looked around and saw that community was alive and well. Sometimes if I squint hard enough I can make the bad look tolerable. I did not have to squint today at all. All I had to do was look around and see some great local heroes planting the seeds of community. The first seed sowing I arrived at today was at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown. This is a congregation that realizes deeds are actually more important that creed. Many of the churches members are involved in organizations to better our valley. They also open their doors for the church and church hall to be used for organizations that need a meeting place. For instance PFLAG met there for many years before finding their own site.
This weekend People Fighting Famine did a three-day vigil at the church. They had speakers, panels, discussion and a movie about Global Hunger. This quote tells what they are all about, “We are dedicated to telling the story of the famine afflicting our sisters and brothers who are starving to death in Eastern Africa.” Terry and Vicki Vicars and Dan and Peggy Eicher are our community heroes who started this organization. You can see Dan and Terry interviewed on WFMJ TV right here. We Americans are the largest market for products from other countries. We desire many products that are destroying the natural resources and environment of many Third World countries. Global corporations in places like East Africa have leased land and are growing food for Western nations while the people of these countries are starving. We need to wake up people in the USA to see the real price tag of our “wants” is the lives of other nation’s people. The best weapon against Global exploitation is to raise global awareness. That means we need to realize that the idea of community needs to be expanded to include the world. That is what I believe Terry, Vicki, Dan and Peggy are trying to accomplish. I bless them and wish them much success. To find out more about People Fighting Famine check them out at this blog or at this Facebook site.
The speaker I saw today at the vigil was local activist Staughton Lynd. Staughton along with his wife Alice can be counted on more than anyone I know in this valley to come to the rescue of those in need. They’ve helped steelworkers whose health care and pensions were stolen. A number of years back our valley’s economy went from steel mills to incarcerating men behind steel bars. The Lynd’s followed Jesus’ creed that asked his followers to visit those behind the steel bars. They are folks that know that creed means nothing without the deed. They are a couple of community building heroes of the highest order.
Downstairs in the Unitarian Universalist Church it was Saturday so it was Northside Farmers’ Market day. The market’s purpose is best summed up by its organizers as “The Northside Farmers’ Market exists to provide a regional market for area producers and to provide Youngstown and nearby localities a place to come together, rebuild community, and buy fresh regional produce.” The market has gone on for a number of years and it was started by Jim Converse, Pat Rosenthal and other church members. They are more local heroes working hard to build community.
Mrs. E and I went to lunch today at a fairly new restaurant. It is called, the Santa Fe Southwestern Cafe and is located on Mahoning Ave. in Youngstown. We went there today because of another one of my community building heroes. That is Karen Schubert who started, The Youngstown Cash Mob a year ago. Karen said this about founding the Youngstown Cash Mob, “We were inspired by the Cash Mobs in Cleveland, where people gather and instead of singing, as in Flash Mob, they pump money into a locally owned business, just by buying something.” My dad was a crafts person who had his own business for over 50 years. That means I can really appreciate an organization that wants to support local mom and pop stores. Come along with the Youngstown Cash Mob and support local businesses. Find out more here.
I also want to send a shout out to the local folks that worked hard to get signatures for a proposal that would make it illegal to drill for gas and oil in Youngstown. The group needed 1,562 valid signatures to place the proposal on the May 7 primary election ballot. They worked hard enough to get about 4,000 signatures. I was told that even some people who were for fracking signed the proposal. They stated that it was only fair to let the voters decide. When you have even a few of that type of fair-minded people you have a community to be proud of. Some of the folks in the group that worked on getting signatures were: Ray and Susie Beiersdorfer, Lynn Anderson, Diana Ludwig, Doug Fowler and many more. Whether the voters pass it or not these folks are community heroes because they used their time and effort to promote democracy.
I want to mention a couple who were set up selling birdseed at the Northside Farmers Market. When the market was over they rushed to take part in the Youngstown Cash Mob. That would be Jack and Sandy Slaina. Jack and Sandy are retired and spend lots of time volunteering for many community organizations and events. They are a couple of community heroes and Mrs. E and I only hope we have half as much energy to volunteer for things when we retire. Jack also runs a damn good valley site you can see here.
When I think of retired people I think of Tony Budak. Tony retired and became one of my community heroes by making his dream a reality. He has spent the last few years working tirelessly building community by establishing the TimeBank Mahoning Watershed. The vision of the TimeBank from their website is “At the TimeBank Mahoning Watershed our vision is a network of communities developing through reciprocity where individuals are using their assets in order to enhance their lives, neighborhoods, and communities.” It’s an organization where each member can be a community builder and it is much-needed in these hard economic times. Go on their website and become a member of a growing community that is making a difference in our valley. I’m also glad to have met a bunch of great activist from Occupy Youngstown, the Dorothy Day House and I love the gang at the Emerging Community.
The two-party system just doesn’t represent the working class anymore. That is where some more local heroes come in. That would be the members of the Mahoning Valley Green Party. I want to thank Jim Villani, Dennis Spisak and Howard Markert for running as Green Party candidates in the recent past. I also want to thank long time activists Terry Esarco and Susie Beiersdorfer for running for local offices in the next election.
Jim Villani is owner of Pig Iron Press in downtown Youngstown. Jim is trying to save his building and business from some real loan shark bankster types. I was proud to see the community rally to have a fundraiser to help Jim save his business. I was under the weather and missed the event. I now have a chance to attend another event for him and hope you can attend also. It is March 1, 2013 and here is more info.
I have just written about all the local heroes that make me feel optimistic now on to some of our valley’s zeroes. I was just thinking the name Villani reminds me of the word villain. One of the most anti-worker villains in our community is Warren Tribune Chronicle Editor Frank Robinson. Just today Frank took a shot at the good folks at the local Green Party. In his weekly “Orchids & Onions” column he included them in his onion to the local GOP. He said, “To the Trumbull County Republican Party for failing to produce a single candidate in the May primary. Even the Green Party produced two – probably in an attempt to stymie the oil and natural gas industry. Trumbull County’s Republicans must be completely satisfied with how county and local government is operating.” Frank is upset that the Green Party puts community safety ahead of corporate greed. The Greens actually care about the environment and don’t want Frank’s beloved fracking companies pouring toxins in the Mahoning River. The GOP doesn’t waste any money running area candidates as our community is smart enough to know the GOP hates working people. I will talk more about that in next week’s post.
The buffoon of the week is one of Editor Robinson’s personally chosen right-wing Community Columnists. That would be Teabagger Dan Moadus. Dan is a Girard resident and has served several times as a Girard councilman. The “Trib” has endorsed him in the past even though they called him a loudmouth. Dan was not happy with the last elections results. He then wrote a column that said there are people who shouldn’t be allowed to vote because he feels they are not smart enough. Dan is just one of those businessmen that has a real problem with democracy. I have proof that area voters are highly intelligent. That is the fact that Mahoning Valley voters rejected Dan as our next congressman. He is a Teabagger who fooled no one by registering as a Democrat and running in the primary against Rep. Tim Ryan. Dan’s most recent column went into great detail about an event he did not attend. I was at the event and was disgusted with his insinuations about people at the event. Dan is now angry about the proposal to ban fracking in Youngstown getting on the ballot. As I said Dan just hates democracy and the fact that citizens have a right to vote. I’ll speculate like Dan loves to do and say that if Dan had won Tim Ryan’s seat he’d have pushed for a Fascist government that would take away the right to vote. Dan’s latest column can be read here and in the comments section below the article I reply to him using the name Heartland. I end being very optimistic about living in our valley as the community heroes vastly outnumber the zeroes.
The Wallflowers: “Reboot the Mission”
also: “Love is a Country”
Area Band: The River Saints