I have much to update you on including the Drum Major Institute’s Gala (6/22), Salman Ahmed’s performance (6/26) and a conference I was at last week in DC on emergency management and special needs issues (timely considering we are in hurricane season and I’m not sure what our government has done to prepare for it).
Drum Major Institute Award Gala
I attended the Drum Major Institute’s (DMI) award dinner on June 22 and got to hear Wynton Marsalis give one of the best speeches I have heard in quite some time. I have often lamented to friends and family that we have no leaders left to inspire and move us, but I was proven wrong at the award dinner. Wynton spoke of coming together rather than dividing, of the importance of solving the problem of poverty and race this country faces, and changing the discourse. What I loved and respected the most about his speech was that he did not read from anything, it came from his brilliant mind and shinning heart, and he was unabashedly honest – so powerful, instilling hope.
After the gala, a group of bloggers came together to celebrate Markos’ award and to talk about the underground Internet revolution. It’s been some time since I really felt like I was in my tribe, but indeed I found my fellow bees. It was refreshing and exciting to be sitting in a room of fellow bloggers, innovators, writers, and those truly dedicated to challenging the current state of affairs – let’s not be so isolated and afraid to speak out and know that the more we do the more chance we have of changing the direction we are headed in. I have to admit that it sort of felt like the underground of some sci-fi movie; god forbid we openly admit we are progressives, speaking up about poverty, race, and the miserable Iraq war, lest we be seen as “Un-American” (or commie-bastards as the term once was). We sat, ate, discussed in a basement of the now chic Lotus on 14th street (an area that was once full of prostitutes and drug addicts, now full of Steve McQueen and Stella McCarthy designer boutiques – hey, when did that happen?).
I must give props to my professor, Micah Sifry, who introduced (or more accurately forced me) into blogging for my Writing Politics class and pushed me into “finding my voice,” something I thought I lost for a while. It was great seeing him at the gala and the bloggers committee meeting. So glad he forced me and indeed I have found my voice. Thanks Micah!
When you’ve been beat-down and marginalized, it’s nice to meet people who value what you have to say. Let’s keep the dialogue going for Christ’s sake! There’s too much at stake.
Salman Ahmed at Joe’s Pub
If Rumi were alive and a musician, he might sound like Salman Ahmed (from Junoon) did on June 24th at Joe’s Pub. Seeing Salman perform was everything I anticipated it would be and more. You experience Salman, you don’t just listen to him; his music moves your soul. Conscientious without being preachy, Salman balances his message of peace and unity with fierce and masterful guitar rifts and vocals that sounded like a hundred Mosques at call to prayer. A diverse and friendly crowd, we had a blast. I even pretended to be able to sing in Urdu (thank god the music was loud enough that no one heard!).
Salman ended his set with a version of John Lennon’s Imagine, who Salman proclaimed was a modern day Sufi. A fitting ending given the times we live in. Let’s remember to be moved by the music, the message, and take action to do the right thing. Thanks Salman.
Well, there has been a lot going in DC including the Supreme Court’s scolding of the administration on Guantanamo, but here’s a quick report on my corner of the world. I attended an invitation-only conference, Working Conference on Emergency Management and Individuals with Disabilities and the Elderly, which was sponsored by US Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and run by EAD & Associates. The purpose was:
“[T]o bring together Governor-appointed State teams to connect State emergency management officials with key disability and aging experts to work toward integration of efforts within their jurisdiction’s emergency management framework; to facilitate cooperative planning with senior officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency regions; and to identify and institute measurable outcomes and systems for tracking results.”
It was actually an intense and highly productive conference because it was outcomes-driven rather than the usual gathering of talking heads who get to massage each other’s egos and spend their per diem. We had a lot of work to accomplish in a short period of time and especially in light of last year’s disaster. Most important to note is that this conference specifically looked at the most vulnerable populations in the US: people with disabilities, the elderly, and otherwise disenfranchised (immigrant, non-English speaking, low income). Although advocates have been screaming for years for these issues to be dealt with, we finally got our forum. Unfortunately it comes off the heels of last year’s debauchery, Hurricane Katrina. As experts, we have the answers and know how to better manage human services issues and needs during and after a disaster and to take care of our vulnerable populations. This conference was completely forward-looking and provided the opportunity for us to push the issues and create solutions. Each state delegate developed key issues and recommendations to bring back to their respective agencies and governors, and each region collectively established consensus, or commonalities, of issues they continue to deal with and need support from the federal government on. An “after action report” (in emergency management lingo) will be written and hopefully fed up the federal food chain. The question then becomes who will listen?
Once the conference website has gone public and the report finalized, I will post both. The findings and recommendations should be interesting.
Hey folks, Happy 4th of July. On a somber note on America’s day, check out Steve Clemon’s blog today on the GI rape and murder case by clicking here. Below is a blog my mother wrote on the same issue.
By Mickey Mincin Op-Ed
The soldiers who committed the atrocities, raping an Iraqi woman and killing her and three members of her family, my guess, never should have been accepted into the military. I have great respect for the military, but I am beginning to wonder if the best and brightest are no longer joining. A lack of numbers has allowed the entrance of men who lack the moral integrity to represent this country in combat. I ask a provocative question: is the military attracting a less desirable membership more suited to mercenaries and less suited to soldiers and warriors. Would a draft cut the number of men and women committing acts of violence against innocent people and open the military to a new pool from which to choose? What about the men and women who choose not to fight? Why not create a military that allows these men and women to serve at our boarders, serve during disasters such as Katrina, and become involved in Habitat for Humanity or any other endeavor that would benefit this country and the world. What a military this would create. It is the responsibility of military leadership to recruit soldiers worthy of the uniform no matter the division of the armed forces. We not only lack the individual responsibility in these instances of violence, but the military lacks the responsibility to reject those with personality “disorders” (Cloud & Semple, New York Times, 7/4/06). Let’s not forget those soldiers who do not commit acts of terrorism and serve with distinction. The few bad apples reflect poorly on everyone: our country, our military, and the world. Perhaps it is the eagerness of recruiters not being prudent, but focusing on getting enough men and women to sign up without discretion. After all, military enrollment is low, support of the war is waning, and we have a Defense Department run by a layman who has never seen battle.
- Five Years Later….And There’s Hope
- Ready.gov Not Quite Ready
- DMI, Salman Ahmed (if Rumi were a musician), and What’s Happening in DC
- An Observation of Responsibility and Accountability in the Military
- NARAL Meeting July 12
- Junoon Front Man Salman Ahmed to Play at Joe’s Pub
- Drum Major Institute to Honor Kos, Marsalis, Burger, Heuvel
- Slowly Surfacing
- I May Disappear For A Few Days
- Saving FEMA
- Could There Be Common Sense in Our Government?
- Wake Up Part II
- Micah Sifry
- The Washington Note
- Bush v. Choice
- Taqrir – US -Muslim Weekly News
- EAD & Associates
- The Sunlight Foundation
- National Organization on Disability
- Cyber Chocolate
- David Kos
- Ridor Live
- MS Friends
- Feminist Bloghers Network
- Culture Kitchen
- Homeland Security Watch
- Drum Major Institute Blog
- Capitol Hill Blog
- Non-profit/DC Watch
- The Agonist
- Huffington Post