Social Justice

Regional summit at Union Station Feb. 19
February 16, 2008

Feb. 15, 2008 -- The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is conducting a series of regional summits designed to convince local educators to start drug testing students - randomly and without cause. This policy is unsupported by the available science and opposed by leading experts in adolescent health. The final summit of 2008 takes place on Tuesday, February 19, 2008, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel & Conference Center at Historic Union Station, at 8:30 a.m., downtown Indianapolis.

February 9, 2008

In the grand scheme of things, 40 years is not much more than a blip on the historic radar. However, in terms of an individual life span, 40 years is quite a long time. The other day we were reflecting upon some of our personal experiences over the years and observed what has changed and what has seemed to remain the same.

Four decades ago we were a strikingly different pair. One of us was a university student, an ardent feminist, an antiwar protestor and civil rights activist. The other was a university student who left academics to become a marine in what was then a manifestation of idealistic patriotism with a desire to contribute to society.

While one was advocating on behalf of women, blacks and everyone being discriminated against, as well as marching and organizing against the Viet Nam war (and no, we did not jeer the non-volunteer returning soldiers), the other was carrying 80 pound packs on forced 20-mile marches at 4 a.m. in preparation for defense of country and nation, to death if necessary.

February 9, 2008

The staff at the Monroe County United Ministries (MCUM) not only help the local community, they are also environmentally conscious.

MCUM is a non-profit organization that provides social services for primarily low-income Monroe County residents. Since 2005, the agency has had a fund-raising drive through which citizens give them old cell phones, and MCUM raises money by recycling them.

"It's really a common thing to have cell phones sitting around (people's) houses," says Rebecca Stanze, MCUM development coordinator. "So this industry has sprung up where nonprofit organizations can collect those phones and then turn them around and give them to recycling and refurbishing organizations, and then the nonprofit gets paid per phone."

February 7, 2008

The public is invited to attend the Women of Color Symposium, which will take place Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008, at 6pm in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 401 N. Morton St.

Hosted by the City of Bloomington Black History Month Committee, this symposium will examine some of the issues that impact women of color on a daily basis and explore how this impact varies depending on a person's age and stage of life.

Presenters will offer advice and resources to help attendees make appropriate and informed decisions about finances, health, entrepreneurship, and the impact of language.

February 2, 2008

It's a basic horror story: due to an unfortunate episode, you find yourself in need of urgent medical attention. You are throbbing with severe pain, the worst you've ever felt, and you don't know why. All you need is help.

The problem is you're in a foreign place where no one understands what you are saying because they do not know your language. You can't explain what is wrong, where it hurts, how it happened, and the frustration and fear -- in a world where no one understands you -- deepens.

The Latino and Hispanic population in Indiana grew by 31 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to a study in the July 2007 issue of InContext. Among the most recent Latino immigrants to enter this country and live in Indiana mentioned in the study, 57 percent either speak English "not well" or "not at all."

February 2, 2008

Elizabeth Hannibal's at-attention posture softens slightly as she puts into words why she chose her line of work. She sits in the dimly lit consultation room, which has seen countless women and children jarred by domestic violence. Their pain and possibilities splayed across the worn armchairs and children's toys have only Hannibal's calming voice to guide them.

Hannibal, the 24-year-old crisis intervention services coordinator at the Middle Way House, cannot imagine another occupation. Her multi-tasking role for the nonprofit domestic violence shelter is always evolving. From taking calls from rape victims to organizing volunteer orientation programs, more can always be done toward creating social change.

Hannibal doesn't see the job as overwhelming. For her it's the little things that matter most.

"The progress we see in the children we serve," she says, "the mom who gets a job, who moves into her first apartment for the first time in her entire life, those are the everyday things that make my work worthwhile."

January 19, 2008

The two Crothersville youths who claim they savagely beat a 32-year-old man to death last April over an alleged homosexual advance will be free in less than 15 years.

On Jan. 15, Jackson County Circuit Judge Bill Vance accepted a plea agreement from 18-year-old Coleman King that called for a 30-year sentence. In Indiana, that means King would serve 15 years, with credit for the time he has already served since his arrest last April.

Twenty-year-old Garrett Gray accepted the same deal on Jan. 8. Vance has scheduled his sentencing for Jan. 30.

January 19, 2008

Monroe County Jail Commander Bill Wilson has faced the same challenge every day for the past nine years -- jail overcrowding.

According to Wilson, this issue is not unique to Monroe County or to Indiana. "Probably a majority of jails across the country" are facing this challenging situation, he said.

Wilson's challenge affects his job, his staff, his inmates, his department's budget and all of the citizens of Monroe County.

"It is an entire system problem that is going on," he said.

January 13, 2008

One of us is a realist and the other an optimist, although we both tend to flip-flop a bit between both philosophies when it comes to decision making and future planning. Suffice it to say that neither of us is a pessimist, and we try to keep the “stiff upper lip” that is necessary to maintain a positive attitude and prevents us from screaming with frustration.

However, upon yearend reflection we must confess to finding ourselves a bit dismayed about the civil rights “victories” for the LGBT community during 2007. Some think it was an eventful year and full of promise for the community, and we would like to celebrate right along with those folks. But when the facts are reviewed, we come up with a slightly more negative result.

We are well aware that some think it is a serious no-no to be negative, but we think it’s more realistic to evaluate what we’ve achieved and where we need to go with a critical eye and not just accept a passing handout that doesn’t really improve image or circumstance just because it feels good at the moment.

December 29, 2007

When asked how many boards and commissions she serves on, Charlotte Zietlow says she doesn't know. "And I don't really want to know," she adds with a laugh.

Short, gray hair frames her lively eyes, which peer kindly from behind small glasses. She offers coffee, leaves and quickly returns with a steaming plastic foam cup and two kinds of Coffee-mate creamer.

Zietlow is the economic development coordinator for Middle Way House, a Bloomington nonprofit that provides housing and support for domestic violence victims. Her newest task is to raise funds for Middle Way's New Wings Community Partnership.

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