On Conflict


“The organizer’s job is not to create conflict, but to expose the conflict that already exists. Conflict exists any time a landlord fails to maintain his property but collects rent, any place where children pass a drug house on the way to school and on and on. When this conflict is exposed it creates a new situation, because it requires that the parties in conflict sit down to figure out a way to resolve the problem. The old rules don’t apply anymore. When conflict isn’t exposed, those in power continue their behavior. They are comfortable and no one’s complaining, so they keep treating the rest of us like crap.”

–Shel Trapp

“Dynamics of Organizing: Building Power by Developing the Human Spirit”


“Still The One” Took My Breath Away


Mary Ann Zeppetello, longtime CNY activist who asked the question “when are we going to recognize those women activists older than dirt?” that led to this exhibition.

Saturday was opening night of the exhibit entitled “Still The One” by the photographer Douglas Lloyd at ArtRage Gallery, and it was standing room only.  At least 200 folks jammed into the one big room of the gallery, noshing on pastry and finger foods, sipping wine and chatting while looking at the pictures and mingling with many of the subjects of the photos.

I am not generally a patron of the fine arts. However, this exhibit was special– a tribute to the activism and life work of twenty-six women, all over the age of 80. These women define exactly what it means to have commitment, dedication and love for our community and its people.

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Back to school

It’s the beginning of September—families are pulling together the binders, backpacks and pencils their children will need to go back to school. At the same time, students with disabilities and their parents will be celebrating two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that will be incredibly helpful in advancing the rights of the disabled in the classroom.

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Ehlena Fry and her service doggie Wonder

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“Would you like a Coke with that accessibility?”

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Cases before the Supreme Court often result in widespread changes to our society. Issues such as school segregation, abortion and the right to bear arms have all been the subject of famous landmark decisions. But whether the case is well known or obscure, all Supreme Court decisions have one thing in common — they started because an actual person had a specific problem they wanted solved by the courts.

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Memo: re the solar eclipse

Date: 8/21/17

To: All madmen, drummers, bummers, Indians in the summer, teenage diplomats, all-hot half-shots, fleshpot mascots, young Scotts with a slingshot, bloodshot forget-me-nots, brimstone baritone anti-cyclone rolling stone preachers from the East, new-mown chaperones, fresh-sown moonstones, silicone sisters, manager’s misters, Go-Cart Mozarts, Early-Pearlies, hazards from Harvard, backyard bombadiers, dudes with a calling card, shooting stars from Zanzibar, avatars, boys who laugh too soon, kidnapped handicaps and mousetraps.

Remember, Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun. Don’t give me any of that nonsense about how that’s where the fun is! Do you wish you were blind? (although that’s another song entirely . . .)

“I’ll have an order of anxiety, with a side of existential panic.”

I’m not a potential criminal, but I can’t help feeling like the psycho killer in the song of the same name by the Talking Heads:

I can’t seem to face up to the facts
I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax
I can’t sleep ’cause my bed’s on fire
Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire

I’ve been hospitalized three separate times in the past month–once for a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in my lung) and twice for cellulitis–a bacterial infection in my leg. The infections were likely caused by a combination of my chronic lymphedema (swelling and inflammation caused by a badly damaged lymph system) and the procedure I had done for the embolism–which utilized a tube inserted into the leg to administer clot busting drugs.

Anyway, I can’t help but think the worst. My appointment with the hematologist to determine if I have a hereditary predisposition to clotting has led me to daydream about all the terrible diseases my body is harboring. After thinking about my symptoms, I self-diagnosed myself with one disease and I am STILL only partially reassured after some google research showed I have about a one in 250,000 chance (0.04%) of having that condition. (My medical degree is apparently from WebMD.)

So, breathe, let yourself get stronger, walk the dogs everyday and truly believe that every little thing’s going to be alright.