Cuba caravan

For the past nine years, Bloomington citizens have assisted an ecumenical activist organization, the IFCO/Pastors for Peace, by collecting and shipping humanitarian aid to Bloomington's Sister-city Santa Clara, Cuba.

The next opportunity for locals to help Cubamistad-Bloomington, Indiana's Cuba Sister-city organization, with this effort will be July 11 when a bus will come through town to pick up donated equipment, supplies and funds.

The bus itself is donated and will also be left in Santa Clara. The focus for this year's caravan is on material aid for Cubans with special needs, but all manner of contributions will be welcomed.

For a list of requested items, see the website www.ifconews.org.

This will be the 16th Friendshipment to Cuba by IFCO, the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization. Its members describe themselves as an ecumenical agency whose mission is to help forward the struggle of oppressed peoples for justice and self-determination.

The Pastors for Peace is a special ministry of the IFCO that was created in 1988 to pioneer the delivery of humanitarian aid to Latin America and the Caribbean.

A program featuring speakers, entertainment, info-tables and a pitch-in meal is tentatively scheduled for July 11 at Bryan Park.

Oil on ice

The Center for Sustainable Living (CSL) recently held a Caribou Baby Shower as part of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about the latest congressional attempts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) on the northern slope of Alaska.

CSL aired the film Being Caribou at the Monroe County Public Library and followed up with a letter-writing and phone-calling campaign, where participants contacted their government representatives and five friends who were in turn asked to inform five friends about the need to demonstrate the public's opposition to drilling in ANWR.

Being Caribou chronicles the migration of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, numbering some 129,000, from Canada to the northern slope of Alaska, where they birth their young. This is precisely the area where the Bush administration wants to drill for petroleum.

Some indigenous tribes in Alaska support drilling as an economic boon, but the Gwich'In tribe still lives a primarily self-subsistence lifestyle in the Refuge centered around the Caribou and the cycles of other wildlife. Contamination of the lands and ocean has already been a problem that travels up the food chain.

While drilling there is promoted as essential to lessening our dependence on foreign oil, much of the oil already pumped out of Alaska has been sold to Asia. Estimates vary, but a slight improvement in the fuel efficiency of autos using existing technology would save more oil than would likely be garnered from drilling in the Wildlife Refuge.

Congress recently passed a budget by a slim margin that contained back-door provisions that would pave the way for drilling in ANWR. But there will still be opportunities for the provision to be blocked later this summer.

To fill out an easy form online to oppose this measure, see http://savethearctic.org.

Urban organic gardening

The Organic Meals Garden Project or OMgarden is a project of the Shalom Community Center intended to provide healthier selections to the guests of its local soup kitchen.

Volunteers are needed to assist by working the organic plots at Hilltop Garden and Nature Center and in the Community Gardens that have been rented from Bloomington Parks and Recreation.

Folks are also encouraged to grow herbs on a windowsill or place planters and pots on their porches or patios or to donate produce from their gardens to help feed the hungry and homeless of Bloomington.

Organic plant starts can be obtained at the local Farmer's Markets now being held on Tuesday afternoons as well as Saturday mornings downtown on the Showers Civic Plaza.

Mylo Roze can be reached at neglectednews@yahoo.com