Archive for December, 2013

Miley Cyrus I Don’t Adore You

On Miley Cyrus, masturbation, racism, sexism, feminism, privilege and pop.

http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/3/post/2013/12/pop-op-ed-miley-cyrus-i-dont-adore-you.html

Quail Bell Magazine

Richmond Railroad Museum

New article on the Richmond Railroad Museum

http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/3/post/2013/12/the-richmond-railroad-museum.html

Hanover County Geography of Memory

Memoir tour of my childhood in Hanover County, on Quail Bell Magazine

http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/3/post/2013/12/hanover-county-geography-of-memory.html

 

Santa’s Cookie Scandal – on Quail Bell Magazine

Check out my latest article for the holidays on Quail Bell Magazine

http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/3/post/2013/12/satire-santas-cookie-scandal.html

Eating Vegan On The Cheap in Richmond

This was originally something I published as a zine. I just wanted to get the information out there more since I’ve almost run out of copies!

Eat Vegan

on the Cheap

in Richmond

Many folks I have talked to about veganism share a similar complaint/concern. They are worried about it being affordable.

And let’s be real- there are many ways that veganism is presented in a classist way.

Some examples:

I have a bunch of vegan cookbooks that call for ingredients that are just totally obscure. I’ve been vegan for 10 years and I’ve never used them. These sorts of cookbooks/recipes can make veganism seem really intimidating and inaccessible to folks.

Another reason veganism can seem classist is definitely the unchecked privilege often found amongst vegans. There are plenty of militant asshole white-dude vegans, for example, who give other people a hard time for not being vegan in shitty ways. These types of folks (though clearly not limited to just white dudes) give the rest of vegans a bad name.

There are some things about a vegan diet that can make it less accessible for low-income people. But there is also a ton of kind of urban legend/misconception type stuff around veganism. This isn’t going to be a total coverage of all info relating to these topics. This zine is for folks interested in eating vegan, and want to/ need to be able to do it on a low-income. I am totally into having these conversations with people though if you want! My contact info is at the end of the zine, let me know what concerns you!

First though, I do want to take a little bit to briefly touch on some of the (many) things that can make eating vegan difficult for folks.

Food Deserts:

“A food desert is a district with little or no access to foods needed to maintain a healthy diet but often served by plenty of fast food restaurants.” wikipedia entry on food deserts. Check out more about the significant and intersectional issue here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert

Living in a food desert basically means in this context that it is a lot more difficult for people to access vegan food. There are all kinds of transportation and expenses related to accessing a real grocery store if you live in a food desert, and believe me, the corner store does not provide all of the things a vegan needs to survive.

If you are vegan, and have the ability, (or even if you aren’t vegan), you can take action to try to get more fresh produce and food into food deserts. Simply creating access where there wasn’t access before is both an act of vegan activism and social justice. You can organize a Food Not Bombs meal, or just produce distributions in neighborhoods where people lack access to healthy food. Talk to people to see where the need is, and what the community wants.

Time is Money:

Even when vegan food is affordable and accessible, there is the further complicating factor of whether or not someone can afford the time it can take to cook much of their own food. The convenience of fast food, prepared foods etc. which are mostly available in non-vegan forms is something that folks working multiple jobs, busy with families and kids, taking care of elders, going to school while working, etc. can understandably want to take advantage of. Folks who are low-income, or any of the things listed above, or other things not listed, often are already pretty stressed out, busy, and might not feel like they have the time or energy to make home-cooked meals all of the time. And home-cooked food is certainly one of the healthier, cheaper ways to eat a vegan diet.

There are plenty of other challenges, and I might go into them more in a later version of this zine. But I am a procrastinator, and I want to have resources to offer folks tomorrow- so I’m going to start into the ideas for how to deal with the challenges and difficulties of being vegan on a low income! (more…)

Get Ready for More from Mo!! New Position at Quail Bell Magazine!

I’m super excited to announce my new position as Associate Editor of Quail Bell Magazine!

I will link some of what I write for the magazine to this website, but definitely check out Quail Bell on the regular for new posts and awesome stories!

 

12/9/13 City Council Meeting and Ordinances Related to Minor League Baseball Stadiums

The City Council Meeting for Monday December 9th, 2013 originally had 4 resolutions related to minor league baseball on the regular agenda. The text for all 4 ordinances is at the bottom of this article.

At printing time of the agenda, around 3pm, all 4 resolutions were either withdrawn or continued to the City Council Meeting on Monday January 27th, 2014 (Ordinances 2013-222 and 2013-R255). However, at the meeting, Ordinances 2013-221 and 2013-223 were brought up to be voted on. These ordinances are not directly connected to Mayor Jones’ Shockoe Bottom Baseball Plan, but it is pretty transparent that they are related.  In fact, Mayor Jones was the patron of all four ordinances.

Byron Marshall the Chief Administrative Officer for the City presented the two ordinances.  Marshall used careful language to paint a picture of necessity, and inevitability of the end of baseball on the Boulevard. The gist of the ordinances is that the City of Richmond wants to reclaim the properties associated with the baseball Diamond on the Boulevard from the Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA).

Marshall suggested that the content of these ordinances was such that the City of Richmond would only have the properties reverted into their ownership if or when (he used the word when, I use the word if) baseball was no longer being played on that property. However, the text of the ordinances as presented in the agenda does not contain information about timing or conditions of the property changing hands. It seemed that members of Council had not been presented with all of the legal documents surrounding these ordinances, and several members, including 3rd District Representative Chris Hilbert voiced concerns about not having all the information.

A public comment period was held, where around 15 folks spoke in opposition of these ordinances and in opposition of the City Council voting on the ordinances during that meeting. It was brought up that a series of public meetings were being held to gain public input about Mayor Jones’ baseball stadium development plan, and since these ordinances are connected to that plan, the Council ought not vote on them without input from their constituents. People also brought up that there is no urgency to these ordinances, and that the pushiness of the administration to get them passed was suspicious and irresponsible.

The people who spoke and held signs  in opposition represented a diverse group of Richmonders, residents of potentially affected neighborhoods, and included members of many organization including the NAACP, RePHRAME, Collective X, Virginia Defenders of Freedom Justice and Equality, Wingnut Anarchist Collective, Alliance for Progressive Values, and more.

The push to pass these two ordinances fell in line with the rest of Mayor Jones’ strategy around the Shockoe Bottom development. That strategy being to push for the development as if it were a done deal that had already been consented on. The fact of the matter is that the people of Richmond when polled are against a stadium in Shockoe Bottom. The development and decisions are not finalized, and there is still plenty of opportunity to prevent a stadium in Shockoe Bottom.

There was only 1 person who spoke in favor of City Council voting on the two ordinances at the meeting.

City Council President Charles Samuels (2nd District) explained that some Council members had wanted to push for these ordinances to be voted on at the December meeting, out of fear that during the General Assembly starting in January, some law would be passed which might hurt the City of Richmond’s ability to regain control over the RMA managed Boulevard properties. Samuels stated that he personally had no problems with the ordinances, but had wanted to have them continued to give the public better participation. Chris Hilbert made a motion to continue the ordinances until January 13th (other Shockoe Development ordinances have been continued to January 27th). Reva Trammell ( 8th District) seconded Hilbert’s motion. Parker Agelasto (5th District) suggested that the language in 2013-223 be altered to include the timing and conditions mentioned by CAO Marshall. Council then voted unanimously to continue the two ordinances until January 13th.

http://shockoebottom.blogspot.com/

In no particular order, the ordinances, with the dates to which they have been continued in bold after them:

2013-223 To declare a public necessity for and to authorize the acquisition of the parcel of real property owned by the Richmond Metropolitan Authority and known as 3003 N. Boulevard for the purpose of owning, maintaining or operating a stadium, arena, or sport facility. {Planning Commission – October 21, 2013} Continued to January 13th, 2014

2013-222 To authorize the Chief Administrative Officer, for and on behalf of the City of Richmond, to execute an agreement between the City of Richmond as lessor and the Richmond Metropolitan Authority as lessee to lease certain real property located at 3003 North Boulevard and real property adjacent thereto for the management, maintenance, and operation of the stadium commonly known as the Diamond and the provision of parking ancillary thereto by the Richmond Metropolitan Authority. {Land Use, Housing and Transportation – October 22, 2013} Continued to January 27th, 2014

2013-221  To accept from the Richmond Metropolitan Authority a release of easement for the purpose of parking located in the vicinity of North Boulevard, Robin Hood Road and Hermitage Road. {Land Use, Housing and Transportation – October 22, 2013}  Continued to January 13th, 2014

2013-R255  To express the City Council’s support for an economic revitalization and cultural heritage development project in the Shockoe Bottom area of the city at a cost to the City and the Economic Development Authority not to exceed $79,625,000, including a new baseball stadium; a Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site; private mixed use, commercial, retail, and residential development; and related public infrastructure improvements. {Land Use, Housing and Transportation – November 19, 2013 & Finance and Economic Development – November 21, 2013} Continued to January 27th, 2014 

Book Review of Better Days A Mental Health Recovery Workbook by Craig Lewis

http://profanexistence.com/2013/12/09/book-review-better-days-a-mental-health-recovery-workbook-by-craig-lewis/

I just reviewed Craig Lewis’ new book on Profane Existence – Check it out!

betterdayspic

Richmond Needs Community Not Cool

Big news for Richmond, making the Frommer’s 2014 list of 14 places to visit. I can’t muster up the enthusiasm about this that seems to be the mainstream response. 2014 is the 150th anniversary of many battles in the Civil War, and this history is one of the main reasons Richmond made the list.  Additionally restaurants and breweries and the rapids of the James are our selling points. I’m not buying.

And the part that everyone keeps repeating –  ” While you weren’t looking Richmond got cool” – really makes me mad.

I’m sorry,  but some old colonizing asshole “finding” Richmond in 1737 doesn’t make it cool, and neither does some out of town hipsters “finding” and gentrifying Richmond in 2013.

Shockoe Bottom, the controversial potential site of a bad public investment in a baseball stadium, is named from the Powhatan village which once was on this ground, Shocquohocan. And that area is full of historic sites of the slave trade which once dominated Richmond. We have history, no argument there.  We have so much history we haven’t processed it all yet.

My argument lies in the fact that Richmond’s history is completely intertwined in our present. Our history isn’t an object gathering dust in a museum for tourists to check out. Our history is a constant battle. It isn’t quaint, or past, or collectible. It’s struggle.

People who colonize ruin the things that make a place ‘cool’. Richmond has a twisted grim history and a future that is really up in the air right now. Don’t yall remember our poverty rate? How about incarcerated folks? How way too much money goes to the police? How money is spent on sports, not schools?

I mean honestly Richmond isn’t cool – its complex. If you blaze ahead with fancy lofts and art galleries while ignoring the people who live here already you will ultimately ruin everything that once drew you here. And aside from ruining the character of this place, you will cause harm to people who live here.

There is some potential for tourism or development to help alleviate suffering in Richmond. But within the context of capitalism and the institutional racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia etc. that permeates our culture I don’t see how. Bringing more people or money to Richmond won’t just trickle down automatically. Any attempt at drawing in tourists ought to be working closely with community organizations to make sure that impact is a positive one for the parts of our communities which need it the most.

I think that the people of Richmond are proud of our City. But there is something not right about attempts to be proud about gastropubs and new breweries and high end retail, which aren’t things that represent most Richmonders.

Stop telling people Richmond is cool. Why? Cool is attained with privilege. And a lot of folks who live in Richmond don’t have that kind of privilege. Bringing in fast development and fancy yuppie venues won’t help Richmonders.

Its not cool to be poor, hungry, homeless, without mental health care, without healthcare, stopped and frisked by the police based on racial profiling, without work, without living wages, without good public transportation and without engaging schools. These aren’t just generic issues, they are issues Richmond faces moreso than many other places.

Richmond has a higher poverty rate than surrounding areas. 25.3% is the official poverty rate in Richmond according to the Mayor’s 2013 Anti Poverty Commission Report. So 25.3% of our citizens living in poverty, which isn’t cool. We are twice as poor as the national average, and two and half times more poor than the state wide average.

One of my strongly held personal beliefs is that my life is only as good as the lives of the people around me. It is in my best interest for my neighbors to do well. Unfortunately I think some Richmonders feel this way, but think the best way to accomplish a good life is to push out the people who aren’t doing well and replace them with people with more money.

The Fast Food Workers Strike and VCU Living Wage Campaign are just two of the many campaigns in the works to make Richmond a better place. There are community organizations on the ground, doing grassroots work to alleviate poverty and suffering, and doing battle with the oppressive institutions. They need the spotlight, they need our support because they are doing work with and as the people who live here.

Don’t come here unless you are coming to help and stand in solidarity with the struggles around these issues.

The bottomline is – I don’t want to live in a place that’s cool. I have a lot of values, and cool isn’t one of them. I’d rather live in a place I could be proud of.

 

Photo Essay: First Fast Food Worker’s Strike in Richmond

The beginning of the march from the Hull Street Library to the McDonald's on Hull. I counted well over 50 people in the meeting room at the library, and more folks showed up as the strike went on.

The beginning of the march from the Hull Street Library to the McDonald’s on Hull. I counted well over 50 people in the meeting room at the library, and more folks showed up as the strike went on.

There were many hand made signs reflecting the passionate thoughts and feelings of fast food workers on strike.

There were many hand made signs reflecting the passionate thoughts and feelings of fast food workers on strike.

At the McDonald's people energetically chanted to demand $15 an hour. The rain didn't  dampen spirits.

At the McDonald’s people energetically chanted to demand $15 an hour. The rain didn’t dampen spirits.

Aside from Fast Food Workers and their families, members of other unions came out to show solidarity.

Aside from Fast Food Workers and their families, members of other unions came out to show solidarity.

There were multiple speakers, reflecting the diverse range of supporters. SONG- Southerners On New Ground a lgbtq organization in the south was there and gave an excellent speech. A local Reverend also spoke. The cohesiveness of the crowd was amazing.

There were multiple speakers, reflecting the diverse range of supporters. SONG- Southerners On New Ground a lgbtq organization in the south was there and gave an excellent speech. A local Reverend also spoke. The cohesiveness of the crowd was amazing.

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