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Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

110218-VOTE

California graphic designer @lenawolffstudio printed lots of these Vote posters, with help from a Kickstarter campaign, and sent them around the country. If you want a few for 2020, contact her or email suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com.

Why is it that some Americans don’t take advantage of the greatest right and duty of living in a democracy — the vote?

Some people say one vote doesn’t count, but that makes no sense. Millions of votes are made only from many, many one-votes. And many races are extremely close.

Others don’t see anything on the ballot — candidate or ballot question — that they care about. But just showing up is important. It increases overall turnout, which shows we care, and you can always write in a name. I’ve done that in races where only one candidate was on the ballot.

Some people fear election results will get hacked, but at least one expert, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, says so much work has been done since 2016 that the polls are now the most secure they have ever been. Read his op-ed.

Then there is the question of getting registered (having automatic registration for those getting a driver’s license would really help) and then getting to the polls. Volunteers from your party will give anyone a ride who needs one, you know. And many states let you choose your day by having absentee voting (generally by mail) and early voting (staff waiting for you at your town hall). In addition, you could support those who are trying to make Election Day a national holiday so fewer people are tied up at work.

The biggest concern to my mind is vote suppression. There have always been groups trying to keep some people from voting. This year we are seeing restrictive laws in North Dakota preventing tribes from voting by requiring all individuals to have street addresses, which Indian reservations don’t usually have. And in Georgia, where the man in charge of voting wants everyone to vote for him to be governor, we see massive vote suppression for inconsistent punctuation and challenges to recent naturalization. These kinds of tricks are similar to those that were still keeping African Americans from voting in the South in the 1960s.

People died for your right to vote.

Since voter suppression will probably always be attempted by unscrupulous people, the best thing someone who believes in democracy can do is to keep donating to organizations that take such people to court, like the American Civil Liberties Union. There will always be people who don’t want every eligible citizen to vote — the bedrock of democracy — but you can fight back. Even small efforts count. In Kansas, for example, the Dodge City polling place was moved a great distance from where voters lived, but many ordinary folk stepped up, and now there are enough volunteers to drive everyone to the distant polling place.

One and one and 50 make a million.

New York City subway mosaic: She voted.

102318-I-voted-subway-mosaic

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Photo: Walker State Prison/Times Free Press
Holly Mulcahy, left, and Mary Corbett perform in front of 128 Walker State Prison’s Faith and Character Based inmates.

When I read about some of the crimes that send people to prison, I do have trouble experiencing empathy for the perpetrators. But then I remember that not everyone in prison is unreachable. That’s why I find stories like Barry Courter’s at the Associated Press hopeful.

He writes about a music program in a Georgia State prison: “Holly Mulcahy stands with her violin, her back to the wall of the gym at Walker State Prison in Rock Spring, Georgia. Next to her is Mary Corbett with her violin. Between them and 128 inmates serving time for a host of crimes big and small. …

“The men are seated in chairs fanned out in a semicircle facing the stage, quiet and staring at the two women, who are smiling and relaxed.

“The place is so quiet, Corbett steps to the microphone and says with a laugh, ‘Talk amongst yourselves. We have to tune up.’

“It’s a relatively simple moment, but it sets the tone for how the rest of the evening will go.

“Walker State Prison, home to about 400 inmates, is unique among Georgia prisons. In 2011, the facility became the testing ground for the Georgia Department of Corrections’ new Faith and Character Based program, which focuses on accountability, responsibility, integrity and faith.

“Inmates in the Faith and Character Based curriculum have all requested to be there and have gone through a vetting process before being allowed to participate in the two-year program. …

“ ‘Half of the men there are lifers, but to be there, they must be eligible for parole,’ says Alan Bonderud. He’s been volunteering there since 2010 and was involved in mentoring new mentors when the prison added the [program]. …

“The goal is to give the men skills that will help them increase their chances of reacclimating into society upon release and to reduce the chances of the men ever returning to prison.

“Education is a key component as the men take a variety of classes — a few have earned Master of Divinity degrees, for example — but so is character development.

“Mulcahy first visited Walker State about three years ago after a chance meeting with Bonderud at a Chattanooga Symphony & Opera-sponsored gala. When Mulcahy, the CSO concertmaster, learned that Bonderud mentored at Walker State, she expressed an interest in performing there.

“ ‘I didn’t want to just go there and perform,’ she says. ‘I wanted to do more.’

“Bonderud says the recitals ‘have been very effective. They continue to increase the numbers of men who attend, and reports from the men are that they now share their programs with family members, and it gives them something new to talk about. It encourages them with their families. Some even have had family members take up the violin.’ …

“The program begins with ‘How Majestic the Expanse’ by Shawna Wolf, then Mulcahy opens the floor for discussion. Two inmates move around the room delivering hand-held microphones to prisoners who have raised their hands to speak.

“No one speaks except for the inmate with the microphone.

“ ‘I pictured it reminded me of icicles,’ he begins. ‘I could hear the sound of light coming through the trees and birds chirping. I heard the pulse in the music.’ …

“Mulcahy doesn’t try to lead, correct, judge or in any way influence the discussion, except to encourage the men to say what they think.

“ ‘There are no wrong answers,’ she says. …

“[Inmate Scott] Reed says he did not attend the early recitals, but he couldn’t help but be surprised at what he heard in the dormitories (the men live in bunk beds in large open rooms rather than cells) after the performances.

“ ‘I heard grown men talking about their feelings and their emotions that they felt hearing the music,’ he says.

“ ‘These are pretty hard guys from the streets.’

“Says inmate Garrett Anderson, ‘I’ve never heard this kind of music before. Never. And I never thought about how something made me feel. I never talked about it.’ ”

More.

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Photo: Steven Senne/AP
New England Patriots 23-year-old rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell joined a suburban women’s book club when he was at the University of Georgia.

Here’s great story that John sent me. He had been to an event at Life is good and heard a young football player talk about the sequence of events that followed his joining a women’s book club.

Emmett Knowlton wrote about the football player at Business Insider.

“New England Patriots 23-year-old rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell is perhaps the biggest book lover in the NFL and, now, a published children’s-book author — all thanks to a chance encounter in a bookstore.

“In a fun story in The Boston Globe back in May, Mitchell said that when he was a junior at the University of Georgia, he decided to join a suburban, all-women’s book club after a serendipitous meeting with one of the members in the stacks of a Barnes & Noble.

” ‘I was there picking up “Me Before You,” the next book for the club,’ Silverleaf Book Club member Kathy Rackley told The Globe. ‘Malcolm walked up to me and said: “Can I ask you something? Can you recommend a book?” ‘

“Rackley had no idea that Mitchell was a star receiver on the Georgia Bulldogs, but the two got to chatting. When Rackley revealed that she was in a book club, Mitchell asked if he could join, and the two exchanged contact information. …

“Two days later, Mitchell showed up to the meeting. From The Globe

‘ “I didn’t mind [inviting him] at all,” [the hostess] recalled. “Because I didn’t think there was any way he’d show up!” But he did and [impressed] the group with his thoughts and opinions — and his own life experiences. …

“Mitchell continued to participate in the club, and he became a real book lover. According to The Globe, he was often found reading at his football locker, and when it was his turn to recommend a book he made his new friends read Marcus Luttrell’s ‘Lone Survivor.’

” ‘The book club helped me grow into a better individual, a person who learns and grows throughout life in general,’ Mitchell said.

“Mitchell’s current lifestyle has made it difficult for him to regularly attend the club. But he remains an avid reader, and he recently published a children’s book, ‘The Magician’s Hat,’ about the magical powers of reading. He started a foundation, too, called Read With Malcolm, that encourages childhood literacy.” More here.

I love the openness and enthusiasm of a guy who would ask a stranger for a book recommendation and then ask to attend the book club!

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Sam Borden at the NY Times had a cool story yesterday about a jack-of-all-trades performer who never got much attention — until his ability to mimic the sounds of nature turned him into an overnight sensation.

According to Borden, Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh, 52, finally got attention in March.

“That was when, while sitting at a cafe [in Berlin] checking his smartphone, he saw that Miss Arab U.S.A. — who is a 22-year-old Brooklyn-born Syrian named Fabiola al-Ibrahim — had, for some reason, posted to her Facebook page a video of Mr. Tkachenko-Papizh competing on a talent show in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. ‘This will take you to another world!’ she promised of the link, which leads to about three minutes of Mr. Tkachenko-Papizh vocalizing the sounds of crickets, bird wings rustling, water dripping and hyper-dramatized operatic chanting.

“The show, ‘Georgia’s Got Talent,’ is about what you might expect from spectacles like this anywhere … Yet Mr. Tkachenko-Papizh’s performance, which he began by solemnly intoning, ‘Let us try to feel what the Mother Earth wants to tell us,’ resonated more deeply. …

“The video on Miss Arab U.S.A.’s page has logged more than 70 million views and inspired more than 102,000 comments — mostly unbridled encomiums.”

Despite the change in Tkachenko-Papizh’s life, says Borden, he is not becoming a prima donna. “He lives here with his wife, Larissa Porkhimovich, who is a financial auditor, and their two young children (he also has an older son from a previous relationship), and he said that he is most interested in simply harnessing ‘this gift I have, which has a magical effect.’

“It has taken some adjustment for his wife. ‘I think he really likes testing, trying things,’ she said. ‘It can be a little strange — sometimes I am in the house and I will just hear sounds, like a bird flying, but it is inside. But that is who he is.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Gordon Welters for The New York Times
Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh said he hopes to travel to London soon to work on recording an album. 

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I am happy that the Wall Street Journal kept its front page human-interest stories after all when Murdock took over. Today’s feature opened up a side of the U.S. Marines I knew nothing about — protecting endangered species.

Ben Kesling writes from Twentynine Palms, California, “U.S. Marines are taught to overcome obstacles with a minimum of help. But when some Marines prepared to charge a hill in a training exercise here a few months ago, they were forced to halt and radio the one man who could help them advance: Brian Henen, turtle expert.

“The troops were ‘running up the hill and firing at targets,’ Mr. Henen said. ‘Some of the tortoises like the hill also. The Marines don’t want to hurt the tortoise, so they call us and we go in and move it.’

“Mr. Henen, who has a doctorate in biology, is part of a little-known army of biologists and other scientists who manage the Mojave desert tortoise and about 420 other threatened and endangered species on about 28 million acres of federally managed military land.

” ‘There’s a lot of people who don’t recognize the amount of conservation the Marine Corps does,’ said Martin Husung, a natural-resource specialist on the base. ‘A lot of people think we’re just running over things.’ …

John Brent, base environmental manager at Fort Benning in Georgia, says, “‘It’s a well-kept secret’ that biologists are drawn to work on military bases … There’s a chance to do terrific work.’ ”

More.

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