News Press v Sports Press

I have been musing in the late night hours of newborn awakedness about many things.
As the election progressed, I kept being reminded that we have become a very insular country, and have stopped getting really good reporting from the rest of the world. We thus don’t always understand what is going on elsewhere, and this lack of understanding certainly contributes to some wacky positioning by candidates vis-a-vis foreign policy.
I am especially reminded of this when I visit other news sites from outside of the US (particularly the BBC & Al-Jazeera). I know that Al-Jazeera has had correspondents on the ground all over the world (including in Northern Mali throughout the rebellion up there).
Our large papers, radio & tv stations / wire services used to have correspondents based in other places around the globe – people who knew what was going on and had local contacts. When stories needed to be told and conveyed with depth & nuance and in a way Americans could understand – that could be done. These people have been brought back stateside, or those positions converted to stringer positions where folks on the ground hustle and sell stories to whatever media outlet wants them.
Contrast this to the explosive growth of sports media. 15 years ago there was not much in the way of sports coverage – certainly not in the way we know it now. Now – our news organizations all send multiple people to major games in many major sports all over the globe – even for sports Americans are not traditionally fond of watching. I’m sure there are probably at least 10-20 reporters for American outlets at major European soccer tournaments.
What does that say about our willingness to be distracted by sport? Are we willing to pay to be distracted, but not pay to be informed? How do we expect to stay ahead of what is going on in the world if we don’t pay professionals to dig out stories and tell them to us in ways that help us better understand the world around us?
Being now in a data frame of mind – I’d love to get real numbers around these things – how many foreign positions existed 5/10/15/20/25/30 years ago? How many new sports journalist positions have been added by US outlets in the past 5/10/15 years? Did this shift happen only in the US – or are other markets affected similarly?

Elena Cleo Ross Ludwig

If you haven’t heard – we had a baby! Elena Cleo Ross Ludwig was born September 25, 2012 at 9:22 pm.

Alli & I are so proud and honored to welcome Elena!

She is the:
Great-great-grand-daughter of Lona Cleo & Arthur, Dorothy & Frank, Giuseppi & Ugolina, Margaret & George, Mildred & Arthur, Rachel & Max, Anna & Barney, Rebecca & Abraham.
Great-grand-daughter of Edith & Charles, Florence & Jules, Helen & Corwin, Gina & Milton
Grand-daughter of Ann & David, Betty & Charles
Daughter of Alli & Erich
Elena – a popular Greek, Spanish, Romanian and Italian version of the ancient Greek name Helen/Helene, meaning “light” and “beautiful”. Also used in Bulgarian, Macedonian, Croatian, Slovene, Lithuanian, Swedish, Russian, German, and Medieval Slavic cultures. The Elena variation of Helen dates back to the 12th century.
In these various cultures it means: the bright one, light, mercy, torchlight, sun ray, shining light…
Elena – Helen & Edith (and E is for all the other E names in our families)
Cleo – Helen & her mother Lona (both of their middle names), C is also for Charles & Charles, Corwin and all the other C names in our families)
Elena Cleo was born on Kol Nidre of the Jewish Year 5773. Kol Nidre is part of the “10 Days Of Awe” during the most holy part of the Jewish ritual year, and signals the start of Yom Kippur – the most holy day of the year. In our reading, an aspect of these holidays includes asking others to forgive us for any wrongs or offenses from the past year. It is also when we invoke that divine internal light to bring us into the new year.
As we know that she has already brought huge amounts of light into our life in just a few short/long weeks, our wish for Elena is that she carry on the strength, light and wisdom of the women in our lineage.
If you’d like to see some pictures I am posting them on Flickr and they are viewable ONLY to those who are my contacts on Flickr – if you don’t know how to make that happen – please let me know and I’ll walk you through the simple process.

We are blessed with abundance in our life in many ways. We are also blessed with privileges we’ve not earned. Elena will benefit from these privileges and our abundance. And she is already benefitting from the generosity of friends and family who have given us and her so much.

While we LOVE and are THANKFUL for all that has been given to us – we also recognize that not everyone in the world is as lucky, as blessed, or has access to the same resources we do.

So we would ask that if you are thinking about getting us/her a present – that you do us the honor of donating to a group working on issues concerning women and/or children instead.

While we have our thoughts as to what those organizations are – we’re sure you have a favorite organization close to you.

Some causes we hold dear:

  • Batoumas Girls Fund – Our dear friend Sophie relays this story of heartbreak in such a way as to make us cry each time we read it. We know that birth is not easy – and that in many places it still is a life or death experience. We also know that Sophie will ensure that these wonderful girls get the full advantages of education.
    • Update on this from Sophie – “When I sent that email, it was after days of nervousness, and I worried that my goal of $1500 was too high. In just one week, I raised over $5000. This will pay for all three girls’ schooling for the next 10 years. I have set up a savings account in their name and will continue to accept contributions – maybe one day, they will go to college. But for now, I just want to hug everybody. It means so so much to me to remember Batouma this way. The support is overwhelming.” – to see a picture of the girls in matching green dresses on their first day of school in fall 2012 click thru this link.
  • Planned Parenthood – An organization that continues to do great work under serious pressure and politicized scrutiny.
  • Somerville Homeless Coalition – local group working on an issue that disproportionately affects women and children.

With much love & such beautiful new light.

-E & A & e

UhuruAfrika: Everything You Need Is In This House

It often takes me a bit longer than others to process things and really get to the heart of my own understanding. I often also let things “age” in my own mind – which I hope/think leads to something akin to wine or whiskey – betterment with aging.

Such is the case now, as I return from 10 days with the Urban Bush Women at their Summer Leadership Institute in New Orleans (well – here is another symbol of that long processing – SLI was July 19-29, and I started this post 2 weeks ago). At the point of starting this post, things really started to synthesize for me around a few particular thoughts. And writing this and synthesizing that have also brought forth some really old thoughts.

My original example of this long processing was that at UBW SLI we had to complete the phrase “I come from. . . ” for homework one night, and then the next day at the end of one session say a brief bit about how we completed that phrase. I went with “the earth” to reference my two grandparents and six great-grandparents that grew up on farms, and thus the connection we have to the land (as we were charged with researching our personal history and connection to the land prior to arriving in New Orleans). It also for me referenced the multitude of geographical spaces inhabited by my recent ancestors (counties, states, countries). Other folks in my Cohort came with much more nuanced and poetic depth, with two of them literally reciting breathtakingly beautiful original poems about where they come from. I came away feeling like a bit of a shallow crunchy hippy. But also determined to really continue to examine more of where I come from, and where we are going. At the same time, I felt safe and un-judged (by others), as we were working hard all week to create a space “Full of Value, Free of Judgement” to let us each process and be in our own work.
Such is an example of my delayed processing.
Another example has to do with the work we were doing with the Tekrema Community Center. When we had our initial walk through of the space I saw a sign up high on one of the shelves for “Gibbons Feed”. The space was formerly a neighborhood hardware store, and was filled with reminders of that past. This sign struck me because of our local DJ/Promoter/Activist Adam Gibbons, who has been throwing UhuruAfrika parties for the past few years in Cambridge. 
As a group we created a piece over the next 5 days and performed it / presented it to the rest of the UBW SLI crew and the Tekrema community.
Throughout the creative and performative process, I kept thinking about the Gibbons sign.
One of the phrases (both in words & movement) that we incorporated into the performance/offering was “Everything you need is in this house” which referred to the house of the Tekrema center itself, as well as the house of our bodies. This idea of self-sufficiency and self worth is staying with me as a powerful reminder.
It, and the sign, also bring up some feelings I’ve been meaning to write about UhuruAfrika, and the power of that community for a while as well – another of the aging of my thoughts.
UhuruAfrika is a unique party, a unique community gathering. It is a space filled with joy, acceptance, light, history, and a space full of value, free of judgement. If you haven’t been, you must go. Regularly held in Cambridge, the UhuruAfrika crew (Adam + Max, Sidy, Jay and Andre) also regularly perform/hold-space in Miami, Mexico, and New York. Wherever you find them, you will find the travel worth your while.
To describe the Cambridge happening in brief – you arrive and were greeted at the door (until his recent retirement) by Brother Andre Edwards, who holds down the door with grace, strength, and dignity. You enter a room decorated with love, a space that on all other nights may be dingy, dirty, and otherwise unremarkable. On these nights, the physical shortcomings of the space are present, but through the vision and love of Adam are made much less visible. Adam & Max Pela hold down the decks, spinning songs bringing people to estatic places. Jay Medina creates a visual score for the music and space via projections.
At some point in the night, Sidy Maiga will bring out his djembe and start accompanying the mix. I’ve known Sidy the longest of any of the UhuruAfrika crew (since 2001), and had the priviledge to play at some ceremonies in Mali with Sidy – ceremonies where people were put into trance for healing and for communication with the other worlds and planes of existence. So when Sidy starts playing, I know that he has the power to help people move into a healing space. It has been a very powerful thing to watch Sidy adapt his learning and skills from a traditional space into a new realm. Initially I’m not sure he really knew what he needed to do – but in the past couple years he has adapted and grown his craft to help people transcend. The adaptation to a new culture, a new space, a new music – but maintaining the power to safely transport and transform people and energy – has been a joy to watch.
Some club nights are a place to pick up someone and have a grand adventure. UhuruAfrika is not that space in the traditional sense. By and large you won’t see young women in tight black dresses nor will you see men grind up on women. What you will see is bodies on the dance floor, moving to the music, with the music. There are no wallflowers in the room. It is a house party – house dancers, breakers, african dancers, capoeiristas, and beautiful movers. The space IS inhabited by a variety of people expressing a variety of desire – but that generally is being expressed in a safe and respectful way.
The space is also inhabited by a slice of Boston that doesn’t often come together – all shades of skin, all sorts of gender expression, all sorts of ages. While house music often brings out a great diversity of people – UhuruAfrika somehow manages to take this all to another level.
So – as you can by now imagine, as I’m sure you’re quicker than I – the other night I had this revelation that everything that I need is in that house, and is fed by one Mr. Gibbons. That deep soulful house of UhuruAfrika, the space created by Adam, Sidy, Max, Jay, Andre and the rest of the UhuruAfrika crew.
So – THIS Saturday, the 25th of August, you need to come out to Cambridge, and get down. For, as you might imagine, everything you need is in this house. The last party before UhuruAfrika moves on from the aforementioned AllAsia, and a party blessed by the fabulous Rich Medina as a special guest – I’m sure the energy will be simply gorgeous.
And in one more shameless plus – please PLEASE support the Urban Bush Women as they approach 30 years of movement, research, community building and research. I have not seen such a combination of amazing effective art + amazing effective activism ever. The movement *is* the movement. Join the movement.

And so it begins…

Great first night here in NOLA for the 2012 UBW SLI. Awesome people, great vibe.

Our cohort (of ~30 people) will be working with what appears to be a pretty awesome community partner.

They are the Tekrema Cultural Center in the 9th Ward, a vibrant community space founded by SLI alumna Greer Mendy.
We will be spending time and staging our performance there.
Check them out:
More soon – we visit them tomorrow.

Resolutions

  1. Walk or bike to work every day.
  2. No email, text, web, or social media while walking to work.
  3. Minimum 1 hour of non-computer time every day at work.
  4. Maximum of 2 hours computer time outside of work every day – including weekends.
  5. Return to physical medium for all GTD work – bring back the calendar!
  6. Weekly Digital Sabbath / Shabbat – 24 hours of unpluggedness.

Wealth: Reclaiming and Reframing, A Festival of Art Place and Ideas in New Orleans

If you live near NOLA – come check out what should be an awesome day on Saturday, July 28 – all day long. The entire UBW SLI will be performing throughout the city. Check the schedule below.

Wealth: Reclaiming and Reframing, A Festival of Art Place and Ideas
Saturday, July 28th from 9:30 to 6:30

Performance 1 & Prayer Breakfast
9:30-11:30am
Christian Unity Baptist Church, 1700 Conti Street
(Treme)

Performance 2 & Community Sing
12:30-4pm
Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard
(Central City)

Performance 3 & “Moving Stories”
5-6:30pm
Tekrema Center for Arts and Culture, 5640 Burgundy Street
(Lower Ninth Ward)

Admission to the festival is free!

UBW’s SLI is supported by Surdna Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Tulane University’s Gulf South Center, Junebug Productions, Ashe Cultural Arts Center, Tekrema Arts Center, Christian Unity and Golden Feather.