Saturday, April 28, 2012

Crime. Could there be real answers?

For years, as I watch the news about all the crime happening across America,  I as others wonder what’s going on. Crimes committed by people suffering from every kind of dysfunctionality imaginable. Everything from extreme poverty, through multiple mental illnesses humans are often prone to.

It’s always made me wonder several things. With all our supposedly learned professionals in the mental health, economic, educational and law enforcement fields, how come no one, including all those brainiacs, has ever been able to come up with real, workable answers?
Answers that would somehow alleviate or at least help all the hardships, suffering and craziness human’s heinous record of crimes against humanity have and continues to cause.

One of the thoughts I’ve come up with (Opps, here he goes again.) has to do with the whole idea of self worth. As I see it, right or wrong, we all seem to get most of our self worth through our jobs. Only a lucky few have jobs they love but at the least going to work each day provides us with several important factors, including a sense of belonging to something larger than our private worlds, hopefully a sense of accomplishing a task that needs doing and if we’re exceedingly fortunate, enough money to pay life’s oft times rip-off bills, which gives us self-reliance.
So there’s that “Self” thing again. Somehow gaining self-worth and self-reliance, could they quite possibly be the answer to all that ails most of us?
I’m sure since the cave man/women days, humans have always felt better about themselves when they had only themselves to rely on for their day-by-day needs and desires.

So I’ve often wondered if solving a great deal of humanities atrocities against each other is as simple as providing jobs. Not just make work but real jobs of worth. So instead of folks facing what they see as insurmountable, unsolvable and worthless lives, which quickly turns into self-loathing, hate and eventually violence, they would instead have purpose, comradely with others along with the capacity to feel real joy and happiness.
How would we provide jobs for our neediest population, especially in these “interesting times” we find ourselves in right now, you ask?
My thought is, if there were ever a time for the Government to step in to help, this would be it.
WHAT? You scream. More Government? Where do I think they could afford one more penny with all the waste?

OK, lets examine that. Lets start with just one thing we’ve been wasting money on forever. Lets first admit the truth that our entire legal system with its continually growing prison system is a complete failure.
Here are the all important questions folks. Has our legal system or has it not come anywhere close ever to solving crime? Other than for murders, rapist and child molesters, (which I think should be put out of our misery) does continually stacking humans like cordwood in our prisons ultimately make them better citizens or does it just continue their education into more and better crimes when they get out?
How about taking the millions upon millions it takes to incarcerate the very people we should be helping, to instead spend it on real re-education, mental health services, job training and job creation instead?
OK, that’s just one revenue source we could and should use, we’re pissing down the drain right now.
Now I’m sure the readers can think of a dozen other wasteful expenses we could revert to job creation, providing those all important self-worth and self-reliance’s but right now I’d love to introduce one persons unbelievably creative, brave and real step into doing just that.

Her name is Teresa Goines. Goines is no starry-eyed do-gooder. As a juvenile correction officer in Southern California, Goines heard the same story over and over.
"It was the revolving door of jail and prison, the hopelessness," she said. "They didn't expect to live past 18 and in some cases it was 13. They told me, 'We need jobs and some place that feels like family.' "So on the corner of Third Street and Palou in the the bay area of California, she started a Café/Restaurant called Old Skool Café. Old Skool Cafe is a faith-based violence prevention program, providing jobs and training to at-risk youth in the heart of San Francisco.
Their 1940's themed supper club confronts the epidemic of violence by providing at-risk and previously incarcerated youth with a variety of career opportunities that would normally not be afforded them.
Old Skool Cafe's vision is to enable at-risk youth to exit the vicious cycle of crime on the streets by giving them what they need most: meaningful and gainful employment. By hiring youth as paid apprentices, OSC has a proven track record of helping the young people direct their talents and energies into a legal, healthy, and productive path toward adulthood as contributing members of society.

She chose this exact location with a purpose. This neighborhood isn't just troubled. It's flat out dangerous.
"We had homicides on this corner in 2009, 2010, and a fatal stabbing a month ago," says Bayview Station Capt. Paul Chignell. "In the last 10 months we've had 17 firearm arrests on this corner. Things have improved, but there is still an unacceptable level of violence."
So obviously what's needed is a jazz/supper club. There's an offbeat logic to it. At a time when Third Street is transforming, Teresa Goines' idea of the Old Skool Café was grand.
Old Skool is an elegant jazz club with red leather booths and zoot-suited waiters. The kicker is the chefs, waiters and performers are all at-risk kids from the neighborhood.
"Having a felony actually qualifies them for me," Goines says.
True, except the restaurant has to work on its own. The potential is there. From a quick sample of the gumbo, to the award-winning shrimp and grits, to the killer desserts, the menu is a winner.
The entertainment will be a work in progress, but neighborhood advocates like James Moore of the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center hopes the food, jazz and cool outfits will attract foodies and music aficionados from downtown.
"We want to make Third Street a destination," Moore said. "More businesses here with a commitment will help make Third safe and active."

Goines understands the neighborhood demographics. But she says this is a business, not a charity. Applicants are required to fill out a 16-page application and then make an appointment for an interview. The cafe got a $460,500 grant spread over three years from the city's Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, and makes up the rest with community donors that include Lennar, which is redeveloping Hunters Point.

Other businesses have already committed to hiring Old Skool-trained youths, said Maria Su, director of the city's Department of Children, Youth and Their Families.
The hope is that by the time the grant expires in June 2013, the business will be self-sufficient.
Old Skool has a difficult path ahead, but who’s going to be the one who says it won't work. Their motto is: Come hungry, leave inspired.
Most who’ve came, did.

Now these kids and the whole neighborhood for that matter have a real chance of changing the direction of their paths from abject poverty, leading to crime, instead to lives of self-worth and self-reliance, all this because of one women’s vision of caring instead of the normal ways of incarceration and abuse at the incapable and failed hands of our judicial system.
So, there’s another fine example of many folks with incredible drive and determination in these new times. Creative intelligent people not only thinking outside the box but sledge hammering the walls completely down, putting new exciting potentials in the clear, clean light of day for all with open eyes to see.


Again. PLEASE DO NOT E-MAIL ME. Take the time and effort to read the directions below and add to the conversation for all to enjoy. Thanks.... Now click on the "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog and add your response or thoughts for others to see when they click on the "Comments" link (TRY IT RIGHT NOW!). It makes it far more interesting if we make it a conversation, instead of just my bullshit. Thank you to those who take the time and effort to do so..... COME ON..........DO IT!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Holistic Life Foundation

Another wonderful story of folks out there doing amazing things.

This is about a group of guys who returned to the neighborhood where they grew up and they're helping the kids who live there find peace of mind in a way you might not expect.
They were asked to coach peewee football, but Andy Gonzalez, along with brothers Ali and Atman Smith, had another idea...
Yoga, offering an extraordinary experience to Baltimore kids who know nothing about inner peace.
Nine years ago they formed the Holistic Life Foundation, a nonprofit offering free yoga classes. They got the kids that had all the behavioral issues, anger management issues, emotional issues. They started with 15 students. Now they've taught more than 1,000.

Away from the yoga mat, these men are tutors and mentors. They've even gotten kids who once destroyed property to help build this neighborhood park. There haven't been a lot of studies on how yoga affects kids, especially inner- city kids like these in Baltimore, but early findings show this kind of exercise is helping kids manage their stress.

Brothers Ali and Atman Smith met Andres Gonzalez at the University of Maryland College Park, spending a lot of time reading books on spirituality, philosophy, religions and other related topics. They all saw some things wrong with the world but it wasn’t until Andres asked. “So, what are we going to do about it?” that they all knew they had to do something.

What that something was, they had no idea. During this time they also began their journey on the path of yoga practice. As young children, Ali and Atman actually grew up with yoga in their home, with their father having them meditate every morning before school. You see, their parents were big hippies. They were also into yoga, vegetarianism, and all the stuff of their parent’s generation.

One summer afternoon, after graduation, the three were watching TV when they saw a commercial about a book telling how to get grant money to help you do almost any type of work. The commercial said something like: “Doing what you want to do in life is like being on vacation every single day!”
They knew they wanted to help people and the planet, and now had some ideas on funding.

At the end of that summer, they moved back into the house that Ali Atman grew up in and immediately noticed the sense of family that was present in the neighborhood when they grew up there was gone.
The Smith brothers remembered when they were living there as children, the neighborhood was like one big family with the older guys there serving as mentors and big brothers to all the younger kids. They say that as important factors in their growth and development. They knew then that they had to try and do something to help bring that feeling back to their neighborhood.

During this time, they began the planning and development for the formation of the non-profit organization. They also began to delve deeper into their practice and study of yoga. After months of hard work, on December 19th 2001, the Holistic Life Foundation was officially incorporated.

The services they now provide include:


Providing trainings for teachers, administrators, and youth workers. Trainings help participants incorporate yoga mindfulness, breathing, centering and related techniques into their work to improve the deliver of the services they provide.


The Foundation facilitates workshops in many formats, including one-time workshops and workshop series. Workshops include yoga, holistic health, Tai Chi, games, discussions, role-play, interactive activities, lectures as well as holistic solutions for all problems.

They also provide Mentoring, Environmental Advocacy programs, Stress reduction and mindfulness curriculums, Healthy Seniors Programs and much, much more.
So obviously, these two brothers and their friend found unbelievably creative ways to put their collage degrees to work for the benefit of humanity with funding readily available in the form of grants and donations, forming a non-profit organization, which allowed all deserving participants free admission.
All it took was their intelligence, drive, hard work, determination and hearts of gold.

Once again proving beyond a doubt there are people out in the world who do care. Not only care but also make things happen. Every day, every moment, these things are out there happening.
Isn’t it about time we demand our news media’s start focusing on these angels instead of just the negative? At the very least do their duty to show us the truth with balance instead of just one sided?

Want to learn more?

Again. PLEASE DO NOT E-MAIL ME. Take the time and effort to read the directions below and add to the conversation for all to enjoy.

Now click on the "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog and add your response or thoughts for others to see when they click on the "Comments" link (TRY IT RIGHT NOW!). It makes it far more interesting if we make it a conversation, instead of just my bullshit. Thank you to those who take the time and effort to do so.....
COME ON..........DO IT!!!