Archive for the 'Skills, Bills' Category


Support the Lilly Ledbetter and Paycheck Fairness Acts

All the details and links to contact your reps are up at my place at  Don’t miss the extremely depressing wage gap calculator, provided in my comment there at 9:51 a.m.  Ack.  (Links to bill content summaries are also in comments.)

Here’s a post I wrote last night about unequal pay and unequal work.  Here’s some AP coverage of the House bills introduced this morning.

Support equal pay and end wage discrimination!!


Friday afternoon news dump

Say hello to’s newest blogger!!  (No, over here!!!)

Yes, me!

I will be blogging about poverty in the U.S.

It’s expected to curb my personal blogging here, but stay tuned for details.

Many thanks I think to Feministe who originally linked to their job postings.  Many thanks to friends and fellow bloggers for thinking through issues of poverty with me here.



I’m in New Orleans for a meeting of non-profit recovery advocates.  Yesterday, I spent about 45 minutes talking to a local photographer, Christopher Porche-West, about the changes in the city since Hurricane Katrina and his particular challenges rebuilding his life.

Porche-West talked about how social boundaries and networks have really changed in the city since the storm.  Prior to Katrina, neighborhood identification and boundaries were primary; the city had about 450,000 people prior to the storm, but 73 formally designated neighborhoods.  In reality, New Orleanians tell me, there were about 200 neighborhoods in this sprawling city on the Mississippi River.  The appropriate question to ask New Orleanians to categorize them is what high school they attended.

Porche-West says now that given the disparity of the physical damage, and the displacement, dislocation and relocation of so many people to new neighborhoods, that neighborhood boundaries and identification just isnt’ accurate anymore.  This is particularly acute for African-Americans, as middle-class blacks and Creoles from Gentilly and New Orleans East have relocated en mass to other black neighborhoods that sustained far less damage; lower-income and former public housing residents are most likely to remain displaced, as rents are more than 50% higher than they were pre-Katrina.

The other major demographic change in the city is the influx of outsiders, who have flocked here to participate in the recovery.  (Non-profits are leading the way in housing redevelopment.)  There is even a social network bubbling up – Young Urban Rebuilding Professionals, or YURPs.  As you might imagine, the city is becoming whiter and more affluent.  Due to the extent of the physical damage, the average median housing value has risen 45%; the white population has grown by 5% and the African-American population has fallen by 7%.  In 2007, more than 1 in 10 New Orleanians were not living in Louisiana in 2006.  Transplants now make up 20% of a city that has lost at least 150,000 residents since Katrina.

Porche-West says the new dichotomy is whether you were living here when Katrina hit.  Go figure.  I put all this out here as you check out Gambit Weekly’s 11th annual “40 Under 40,” their “annual look at some of the young people who are making remarkable contributions to the New Orleans metropolitan region,” submitted via nominations.  I just want to point out that of the 40, 5 are African-American.  What I find particularly striking is that 4 of them are in the music industry (though in a variety of capacities).  I realize that Afro-American music, art, culture and history defines New Orleans and is a thriving business sector (and is also exploited by an extractive tourism industry), but really…does this strike anyone else as problematic?  Whites, Asian-Americans, and Jews are the social entrepreneurs, the do-gooders and the brain trust of the rebirth of the city?  While African-Americans are its cultural foundation and…its entertainers?

Not that I was wondering why tensions often abound in my network of recovery advocates where more than 6 in 10 of us are not only not from New Orleans, but about half of us are from coastal, liberal, elite, latte-loving, high-“capacity” cities.  (Mostly women and about even white and African-American/Creole, with small Latin@ and SE Asian participation.  Not that I’m keeping track or anything, in our post-partisan, post-racial world!)


What Now? A Call to Service

One of the best proposals of the Obama-Biden Administration is to create incentives and programs that expand voluntary public service and strengthen the non-profit and civil sectors.  My main quibbles are that bringing private sector financing to non-profits leaves the latter beholden to private sector demands and models, even when they don’t necessarily fit; and that public service should be mandatory for able-bodied residents and citizens.  But hey, they’re off to a great start.  My partner is a VISTA alum and I credit the Army as one key force in getting my dad up and out of poverty.  We like what we see from Obama-Biden.

This call to service is imperative after the disastrous Bush years.  It’s also feasible.  As one of the major organizers in the Obama campaign – the legendary Mashall Ganz – put it: a primary legacy of the campaign is a generation of mostly 20-somethings who now possess basic political organizing skills.  This is tremendous, and we need to channel this skill and commitment into sustained community activism now.

I’ve been debating with an MIT planning friend about Ganz’s emphasis on youth, organizing and their relationship to the Obama campaign.  Ganz was drawn to Obama’s campaign because it was “values-based” versus “issues-based,” including the candidate’s personal narrative.  This was one of the things I didn’t like about Obama, and I’m grappling with how Ganz proposes we now re-direct organizing capacity that was centered around a personal value narrative towards specific social problems in the U.S.  As he put it, it is “not clear” to him how Obama plans to govern.  That he nonetheless worked energetically to get this man into office slightly boggles my mind.

In a recent e-mail to said friend I wrote:

My concern…is the “what now” – i.e., how do we shift people’s foci from Obama to “issues.” I didn’t get from Ganz how that happens, given the organizing for BO was “values-based,” with the strategic “issue” being to get him elected.

There’s a real difference b/w electoral politics and advocacy re: equity or issues (e.g., environment, etc.). I’m curious about what kind of awareness exists among this young generation to take their apparent new found skills and keep fighting the good right re: poverty, green development, what have you. It’s not at all clear to me that this shift will happen…the Obama campaign both created AND extracted organizing capacity – from communities and issues where it is truly needed.

One of the things I like most about Obama is his call for service to the country. I am cautiously optimistic that he will continue to lead this generation of young people to serve either through Americorps, the military, or just by being more active citizens (which, from what I understand, that generation already is). But I also hear that young people today are more compliant and comfortable with the system, more of the “inside” gamers, if you will. So where does the pushback come from for Obama within our camp (rather than from the 46% who voted for McCain)?”

I’m reading through Obama’s urban policy proposals and his “Women” page at  I’ll spare you the critiques now during the Friday afternoon lull.  But as I go through them I’m thinking, how do we connect these young Obama upstarts to the perennial problem of poverty, rising social immobility, a chronic lack of affordable housing, and on-going oppression of the poor, especially women, people of color and the urban poor?  These are my issues, and I’d love a little army of Obama campaign alum to fight for economic justice and equitable development.  Remind me to send the transition team a note on this.


Memphis on Obama

I think the countdown to the election clock on CNN is overkill, how about you?

Over the weekend here in Memphis, I surveyed 7 African-American shuttle and bus drivers about the election.  (I spent A LOT of time shuttling between two hotels and riding around on buses with Amnesty International members.  As I texted my boyfriend last night Highways 40 and 55 are beautiful this time of year.)

Here’s what I found:

4 were excited and hopeful, if somewhat restrained in their expression.  A young man, probably in his early twenties, was the most energized, adding that he “knows” Obama is going to win on Tuesday.  The male bus driver of the two I talked was optimistic but added that he hoped “[his] president” didn’t get shot in office.

3 were ambivalent, resigned and/or pessimistic.  I wrote in detail about two men’s opinions here.  I spoke with a young woman, 35?, who didn’t care much for Obama or McCain.  She didn’t like Obama’s (lack of) experience and worried about McCain’s age.  She didn’t think either of them were all that qualified to deal with our “problems at home,” which she emphasized should be a president’s priority before they wandered off to stir up trouble in the rest of the world.  She added that she has never been all that impressed with Obama, which often caused arguments with other African-Americans.  Of the six people I spoke with she seemed the most circumspect, and was the only “undecided” to whom I spoke.  Three, IIRC, had already voted.  (39% of Shelby County voters voted early.)

As I ate at Onyx last night, a jazz club in Memphis’s South Main arts district, the band announced they had a new album out, with a title song “It’s time for a change.”  The majority African-American crowd (majority middle-aged, majority having date night) cheered.  At this great clothing store Divine Rags (across the street from the Church of God in Christ bookstore), they had an Obama t-shirt I’ve never seen before:


Yes We Can!

Obama ’08

made by American Apparel.  It was too long for my taste, sadly.  I own no Obama swag to sport on Tuesday night.  Guess I’ll have to go with my Hillary t-shirt.  Or my Ortiz jersey.  (Go Sox!)

Similar enthusiasm existed among the Amnesty crowd (AI is a non-partisan organization).

Continue reading ‘Memphis on Obama’


Apprehension and Resignation

Red Queen linked to this hilarious Onion piece, noting “It’s funny cuz it’s true!”  Ain’t it though.

I’m in Memphis for the weekend at the Amnesty International Southern Regional Conference, an annual gathering of the mostly white, mostly middle-class, mostly college age Amnesty membership.  Bookending last night’s uplifting opening ceremonies – an a capella performance, spoken word poetry, a talk by an historian of African-American history and U.S. human rights, and dancing to a hippie jam band in the beautiful and cavernous First Congregational Church – were two conversations I had with my hotel shuttle drivers about the upcoming election.

Continue reading ‘Apprehension and Resignation’


Layover Links: Final Election Week (!!) in Review

I’m headed to Memphis for the weekend for work.  The conference is at an airport hotel, but I’m hoping to get downtown on Saturday night. I traveled to Memphis for work a lot back in 2001-3, and loved it.  I’d like to see the place again – check out the downtown development that was underway 5 years ago.

Speaking of development, urban change, etc. etc., I finally tried to estimate if I was one of the 7.5M homeowners “underwater,” meaning my mortgage costs more than the value of my home.  The data suggests that I am; according to Mass. RE research firm The Warren Group, average condos prices in my boston neighborhood have fallen 5% in the last three years.  My income as a grad student-consultant fluctuates wildly, so I have not yet done the math to see if I might qualify to renegotiate my payments should I need to, should any of the various homeowner assistance programs out there darken my door.

At least I’m not post-disaster dependent on FEMA.  “Insensitive” and “foot-dragging”?  Bush’s FEMA? NO!  Surely you jest!!

In other news, like 20% or so of Americans, I watched the Obama mega-mercial the other night.  Quality and boring were my impressions (as someone so saturated in political coverage, I can’t believe that people still don’t know his major promises.  I’m getting to the point that I feel like I could recite them.)  Also, I was struck by the calm, soothing nature of the whole thing, designed to make those folks out there who need some getting used to the idea of a black President.  Though the log cabin Oval Office to me looked like the place where a professor hides out to finally finish her overdue book.  I said that night at dinner to an ardent Obama voter and volunteer who was worried about whether the commercial was “presumptuous” that as a former Clinton supporter, by now I absolutely trust the Obama’s campaign strategy.  Clearly they know what they are doing, whether or not we like it, agree with it, or respect it.  YMMV.

Certainly, preferences for Obama vary widely.  Most national polls put his lead at ~6%.  Turns out he squeaked out a victory among kids, winning Nickelodeon’s kids vote by 2%.  Why the right and left blogs are not deconstructing this outcome six ways to Sunday surprises me.  I know it’s only 2.2M kids (!!), but still…though what do we know about families who watch Nickelodeon?  Why hasn’t FiveThirtyEight crunched these numbers for us??  I demand answers!!

The world, on the other hand, supports Obama in a LANDSLIDE.  Landslide.  Like a gazillion to 300 or something.  Not even Iraq is “strong McCain” anymore.   Other McCain leaning nations?  Algeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  They’re splitting the Sudanese vote so far.

US kids split; world consumed by Obama-mania.  What does this tell us about Obama’s governing mandate?  Digby warns against centrist leadership, pointing out Obama’s bipartisan bookends.

Maybe these folks have some advice for Obama.  Congrats to brownfemipower!  I also have done some work with one of the people named here, so I’m feeling totally cool by association.

Happy Halloween everyone!  I’m not a fan of the holiday, so I’m happy to be traveling.  Enjoy & stay safe!

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