posted Sep 08, 2005Thanks for the Hope
I have read your latest issue on media from cover to cover and am convinced that this country, despite the rhetoric we are getting out of Washington, is still in good hands! I am especially heartened by the articles telling of the ways our youth are changing the perspective that most Americans have about them, and challenging the corporations that try to mold their lives for profit.
More Youth Media
In your resources for the Spring 2005 issue, you listed three great youth media organizations, but there are many more throughout the country. Visit www.soros.org/initiatives/youth, www.listenup.org, or www.ymdi.org to find a youth media organization near you. Please call your newspapers and television stations to request more youth-produced media.
More Steps for Media
I'd like to add to Jeff Chester and Gary Larson's “10 Steps to More Democratic Media” (Spring 2005).
1. Support public and cooperative libraries as the primary means of non-current media distribution. Materials there are free to readers.
2. Create regional funds to support decentralized media production organizations.
3. Organize local dialogue groups for candid discussion on issues, not for the purpose of organizing, but for the purpose of understanding the ways that issues are connected to other concerns.
4. Encourage listeners and viewers of broadcast media to be aware that they are hearing an opinion or a presentation, rather than a fact, regardless of the source.
We have a responsibility, not only a conspiracy against us. We participate in the creation of the power structure that exists by our own work or lack of it.
I was surprised that your issue on media did not include articles on Indymedia, which is fast becoming the most accessible and usable tool for media democracy worldwide. Since the founding of Indymedia at the protests against the World Trade Organization talks in Seattle in 1999, Independent Media Centers have sprouted up all over the globe—at last count, there were more than 150.
The idea? To make it possible and easy for people to publish their own photos, audio, video, and writing for a global audience, without editors, administrative hierarchies, or spin. A current list of all the local sites is available on the global site, www.indymedia.org.
Give NPR Credit
Amy Goodman's outstanding work investigating stories we hear little about in depth is to be commended. I was glad to read more about her in your Spring issue.
However, I don't think Carolyn McConnell enhanced Amy's stature by putting down NPR in her introduction. I don't think it is fair to compare a “top headline” with a program like the one Amy produced on the same day that had arranged to have guests and an in- depth look at Social Security. I have heard many stories about Social Security from many points of view on NPR and as I write (February 22) they are beginning a three-day series on the subject.
Used Cards for Down Home
In your Spring 2005 issue you said St. Jude's is no longer accepting used greeting cards. However, Down Home Ranch in Texas, which ministers to those with special needs, needs them. See www.downhomeranch.org or write Down Home Ranch, 20250 FM 619, Elgin, Texas 78621.
Forget the Two Parties
I'm stumped by the turn David Korten takes in the last sentence of his contribution to “The Work Ahead” in your Spring 2005 issue.
When he wrote that we need to build “a non-party political movement with a long-term agenda grounded in a vision of a just and sustainable future for all,” I said, yes, yes, yes. But then he suggested that, in part, the way to build the movement is to “rebuild the Democratic Party and support moderate Republicans in wresting control of the Party of Lincoln from the far right.”
The stagnation of centuries will not allow new life to be breathed into the two parties. We must remember that the deaths of these organizations do not mean ours or that of the pursuit of justice and sustainability. We all must continue to do our part to birth the future and lay to rest that which no longer serves our common good.
Mia MacDonald's article on Dr. Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, neglected to mention that Dr. Maathai founded the Mazingira Green Party and was elected in 2002 as a Green member of Parliament in Kenya's first truly free, multi-party elections since independence. Why the silence? Can it be that we mistakenly see a need to separate the purity of activism from the applied science of politics?
It is unfortunate that political corruption and partisan maneuvering have so tarnished the image of politics that, in the U.S., many qualified people remain sidelined, when they could not only organize demonstrations, but also run for office. Many races, from local to Congressional, are not even contested because someone has decreed that those seats are “not competitive,” a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one.
I ran for county election commissioner to draw attention to the need for verified voting and instant run-off voting. To my surprise, no one else filed, and I became the first Green elected to public office in Mississippi. Electoral politics can be another tool in the activist's toolbox, as Wangari Maathai knows.
John M. Wages, Jr.
Readers Take Action: A Joyful Protest
One morning this spring, I participated in my first protest. I jumped out of my Colorado College dorm room bed at 5:30 a.m., put on rainbow earrings, colored a rainbow and safety-pinned it to my back. Then I ran down to meet my friends to gather in support of local Palmer High School students who wanted to start a gay/straight alliance club. Fred Phelps, a minister who created the “God Hates Fags” website [see “Debating Hate,” YES! Summer 2003], had come with a group from Kansas to protest.
They held signs that read, “God Hates Fags,” “Thank God for 9/11,” and “God Hates the USA.”
We held signs that said, “For God so loved the world . . .” and “Gay or straight we think you're great!” and “LOVE.” We sang and waved peace signs and ate cookies and doughnuts. Hundreds of people from the college and the town of Colorado Springs gathered in support of gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual friends, family, and lovers, while only a couple dozen gathered in opposition.
I was lucky to be able to gather with friends and stand up for something I believed in. I was suddenly hit with a wave of patriotism. America has its faults, but we have the right to speak out against them. We sent a message of support to the kids at Palmer High School, we sent a positive message to the community, and we were there for each other.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
We are sorry to report that Dirk Koning, a contributor to the YES! media issue and executive director of the Grand Rapids Community Media Center, died this spring. Dirk's last project was the acquisition of Wealthy Theatre and the expansion of the media center to Grand Rapids' southeast side. The media center is about one-third of the way to its goal of raising $2 million for the expansion. The Center's organizers invite those who remember Dirk's contributions to help fulfill his final vision.
The Spring 2005 issue failed to credit the source of Thich Nhat Hanh's “Remain Firm, Clear, Compassionate,” which appeared as part of “The Work Ahead.” Thich Nhat Hanh's contribution was reprinted with permission from Plum
Village Meditation Center, France.
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