Monday, September 30, 2013

There will be another dream..

In my Newark building store after a beautiful day.  Listening to YouTube, watching local news. God Bless Donna Summer for all the joy she brought to us and me for so many years. Donna began for me as a gogo boy on Manhattan cable to Donna's "Bad Girls"in 1977; endless clubs /moments all over US and Europe in the 80s/90s. and always the Christopher Street pier. what is more inspiring to our world than (@3;51): "There will be another song for me.., there will be another dream for me"...

I never thought I would see a day like today... the CIA, Feds, NGOs, all the media and tech companies recruiting folks at the lgbt career fair today. It is another generation and time. I am quite proud to have played parts in the work of thousands to change our world for over 40 years. How often I heard that usual putdown of having higher expectations of myself than others do, Times change! I laugh with my brother remembering Mom who confidentially told him I "needed deep therapy" (what is that?); Dad is just confused. 

Today, I saw another world unfolding and presenting dreams most of my peers never thought possible. My friends dead of AIDS like Tede and Frans live on in my head, and I am proud to be part of their legacy this day! Both blessed and humbled to know others have them in their hearts.. a wonderful tribute to Tede in SF earlier this year.  So beautiful to see remembrance of Frans in a photo in the campaign video of an indefatigable advocate, Gale Brewer, in NYC.  Def that I am part of an ocean of dreams.. even in the YouTube video is reference to 3:50 as a distinct memory of the poster. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Breaking Bad on Saint Michaelmas

Happy Saint Michaelmas! I could write the history of America at this juncture in my life. The life of my Mom and Dad, and family. Certainly no Breaking Bad story although our family did have its Rocky Mountain span but we lived in more diverse worlds over time. 

Never saw "Breaking Bad" until this weekend.  I doubt the current erudite show about the breakup of white privilege is all that ultimately although it is about white people talking among themselves as usual. The world has already changed.  Much of White America may mostly vote Republican. Christian zionists are busy formenting hate in Africa now Russia. Tel Aviv may be the most exciting city on the planet at the moment, but Israel is a lost cause until the right wingers die out. Sheikha Moza has probably one of the most dynamic faces of humanitarianism today. White liberals still lament what would Hillary do, but Valerie Jarrett the senior aide to our President Obama got the social workers into the White House. There are parallel Americas. 

watching BreakingBad.. spinning as the most wonderful show ever written and produced on tv. Did not think so and def know now that it is not. Alb,NM as another Anglo version of America. My Newark neighbors all had no comment but that it is a show making money and is particularly liked in the Midwest and Southwest. In short, Skylar is no Carmela. I remember when my parents moved from Colorado to NJ and hearing that the worse ethnic group in America were Italians.  We had moved from Chicago to Colorado, so my Mom/Dad had no comment and my Mom never really liked Colorado.  Breaking Bad as the latest cultural  commodity spun as the "best.", Def no Sopranos.

In watching the usual dramatic violence, I thought of "Kill everyone now!"  a statement from another time and by the brilliant star, That was revolutionary drama in the 1970s.

This Saint Michaelmas 2013, I think of other lenses of America, like "Razor's Edge" (1945) with Tyrone Power, a cousin of my Mom. The book on my parents' bookshelf.  I like the NAACP post today to remind people of the amazing real Walter Francis White, now that is a story I care about. My Mom and a sister dead today, my Dad is almost 87 years, "Breaking Bad" never was to them. In the sweep of our lives, I think BB was interesting but mostly a vapid rehash of perceived loss of white privilege trying to make sense of their illusions.  

A story of my family could also include the fact that I first heard of "Breaking Bad" from my 70something year Uncle. He was enthralled from the beginning. On his recommend, I watched an epiode but was bored. My Uncle has generally had singular tastes in the family such as living in Cali and his favorite Aunt. I had no clue he was part of the fiercely devoted au courant fan base of the show. 

Best Saint Michaelmas 2013 and the harvest of visions.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

beautiful evening! thought of my shadow as I took the elevator down to watch network news and to email in the store. Very chatting night!  introduced 2 of my cute, maybe 30yrold, energetic Jamaican neighbors and a date is on! a buddy on the verge of selling almost all got a new gig going on in DUMBO, $$$ ahead! that sadsack 17yr old runaway was here, i told him to go to therapy, then told him to make friends with the teen sons of my philosophe Dad buddy. l'philosophe was there reading Kabbalah, au'jourdi. (I told him to read Gershom Scholem, the master of Judaism mysticism). TY Walter Benjamin and all of my angels for a fun amazing night of listening to dreams and hopes, in the basement cafe of my building in Newark, NJ.

40 anos despues Pueblo, Colorado State

Keep running into visitors from Pueblo and Denver, Colorado, spoke with my own Columbia alumni recently. I read that the school will host Daniel Hernandez, jr., a hero in the shooting of Tucson CongressMember Giffords, to speak.   Feeling bliss at having had such wonderful adventures in life. Wanted to get my thoughts from 40 years ago out to Pueblo:

Best wishes for the Colorado State alumni homecoming events. I follow the college activity on Facebook (alumni, football).  My Facebook friends include people from Colorado including Pueblo. This summer, in my Newark NJ apartment building, I have had frequent talks with a recent Pueblo graduate. I wanted to share some of my activity although I am not an alumni.

It is 40 years since I left Pueblo after my freshman year of college (1972-3). I graduated high school in Colorado and then my parents moved to New Jersey. I did not return to Pueblo  but lived with my parents and moved to Brooklyn, NY. In 1978, I graduated Brooklyn College, went to Columbia University for my Masters then started Phd at Columbia (comparative social policy). I am a social worker as well as an adjunct professor for decades with a range of college populations (international, lgbt, immigrant, first generation, primarily urban). I primarily teach Methods of Research to graduating seniors, and field instruct/advise graduate social work students. I am also an alumni of the International House, NYC where I had a fellowship whilst working on my Master's degree.

I loved my year at Pueblo although sometimes it may seem more romantic than it was (of course). I lived in the dormitory, volunteered on a crisis hotline, pledged Tau Kappa Epsilon, loved the sunsets and landscapes, and focused on being fluent in Spanish. I remember how so many of us were supporters of Native American organizing at Wounded Knee, SD that year. Students were going there in solidarity. I dated a Jewish woman and attended my first synagogue services in Pueblo. I visited the homes of various classmates during breaks and several actually visited me in New Jersey and Brooklyn. An endless array of stories to share far away from Pueblo which adds to the romance of those memories.

More recently, I helped a Colorado high school friend who was born in Pueblo with her crime novel set in Pueblo. This summer I met friends of a neighbor. The friends are all living in Denver,many are immigrants from Cote d'Voire. One of them is a Pueblo graduate and I have shared my photos and memories with her. She hopes to be accepted in Master's program in a New York City school. I have had over a 1000 students to teach and/or mentor, and she is certainly among the most ambitious. It has been a joy to hear her stories of CSU-Pueblo: international students, transgender students, her major (business), the environment, as well as how the campus has changed. No doubt I would be visually lost with all the changes. 

My year in Pueblo was particularly fascinating in my studying Spanish which is perfect to have in my social work practice. I recently had a graduate social work student who came to NYC from Los Angeles to be more fluent but I think my Pueblo year was better! I had a number of friends of Native American heritage and although we have the wonderful American Indian Community House, there was certainly a zeitgeist in Pueblo that year. I did not have the specific idea of being a social worker at that time, but I was particularly influenced by the kindness and intellectual lens of Professor June Hearn. One of my peers was active in organizing for lesbian rights in those early seminal years, she later became a lgbt lobbyist in Washington, all part of a 40 year history which now   includes marriage equality, etal in the past year(s).

 Thank you very much for reading through my email. I am not an alumni yet certainly have a rich diverse memory from just one year at Pueblo. I am also sending to the Social Work department to share my thoughts.

I look forward to following the college activities on Facebook.

All the best and thanks for your work!



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Caregiving revisited

In my bibliography:

Memoir is in the content analysis family and is an unobtrusive generally qualitative method of research. Qualitative meaning that the data is essentially non numerical in data collection and analysis. The variables are predominately nominal.
"The  Caregiver's Tale" is in my bibliography as Dr. Burack-Weiss was one of my Columbia University professors. She volunteered in a program that I helped to initiate, a shelter for homeless women who were non-compliant with psychiatric treatment.  She created a weekly group for women to talk about whatever. I am totally biased in terms of the researcher.  Dr Burack-Weiss has had a long history of helping through her work at the Jewish Home for the Aged, and being among the first volunteers at the Gay Men's Health Crisis. 
In her project, Dr. Burack-Weiss created the independent variables of caregiving situation and relationship out of an inductive process of reading through memoirs. I knew several of the memoirs and a favorite author Paul Monette was included in her sample. She has that heuristic sense of what works from the breadth and depth of her experience.  The hypothesis is that these variables inform the caregiving situation. The variables are nominal: how can one rank alzheimer's or AIDS, or a child with a neurological disability. They could be ranked perhaps in terms of cost, years to caregive, other variables, but as a distinct variable, the situations and relationships have no order. The memoirs have a detailed highly individual quality to them that gives meaning to caregiving and to the paradigm.

Homelessness, power of ethnography

Working on my online Methods of Research course. Teaching about ethnography and using homelessness as a paradigm to explore. A source in my bibliography:

I attached four pages about the Baxter and Hopper (1981) ethnography report. The first two pages are from the text. One can look in Google Books for more on the report. The third page is copy of a meeting to which Ms. Baxter and I attended to talk with NYC government about this phenomena. Lastly, copy of a journal request for an article about why homelessness was then a problem.
These are some of the issues on the importance of research. The ethnography study changed ideas on homelessness creating a whole new paradigm on homelessness. The Coalition for the Homeless was started. Government began systematically looking at homelessness. It continues to be a major issue. This report shows how dynamic and forceful research can be in changing the world!
You can post your thoughts in discussion if you would like.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

synchronicity .. Mary Daly

Thoughts of Boston...

So love Mary Daly.. when I was a doctoral student I spent so much time reading her works as part of my intellectual life. Her ideas actually run through my mind everyday. I loved her notion of time of the day having some meaning and those times that seem to come up all the time. Def have several time of the days that kind of give me a sense that I am in the here and now, doing what I should be doing at that time! Thanks Mary Daly!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2013 reunion of our Vrboska, Croatia forebears!

Honorable Milanka Opacic
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Social Policy and Youth
Republic of Croatia

Dear Minister Opacic:

It is a pleasure to follow policy developments in Croatia. I am in the 5th generation of Vrboska, Hvar immigrants to the United States. II am a social worker and adjunct college professor with training in comparative social policy (masters degree and doctoral study at Columbia University, New York).

A friend and social work colleague does strategic planning for the Open Society in New York City. I follow the Open Society Mental Health Initiative on Facebook. I was impressed by the posting today. While a doctoral student, I spent much time in Zurich, Berlin and Rotterdam visiting agencies working with people with AIDS, substance use and mental health services immigrant and lgbt services. Open Society finances a number of initiatives on drug policy in particular.

 My undergraduate students  and my graduate students in NYC come from a broad swath of nationalities and comparative social policy is important to them. Students of mine have done internships in the Dominican Republic, Peru, Pakistan and London.  I am happy to share the website of your Ministry with the current cohort.  It is a joy to have undergraduates from Dalmatia in recent times.

This summer the family of siblings, cousins etal of my maternal grandmother  held a reunion. There are so many pages in the online family history book from the reunion showing much love and caring. I cannot imagine the voyage of our great-great grandparents with 7 children taking the boat to the United States and starting a new life in Chicago, Illinois. The family males made money diving in Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, some were musicians, and some ran a tavern (with a live bear). There are so many cousins which includes a Chilean branch, and a popular contemporary musician in Chile. What a legacy from little Vrboska!  For multiple reasons so many emigrants from Hvar, named "heaven" in a recent BBC series, into the world. 

I am happy to share an interest in policy and advocacy on mental health issues with my Mother. She was the mom of 9 children and found time to advocate for people. On her death she was given a memorial by the State of New Jersey for her advocacy. I made a short video on YouTube about her life.  The link is:  My undergraduates critique the video as a memoir qua method. 

Thank you very much for reading through my email. It is a pleasure to see the development of good services and know of the spirit of advocacy in your ministry. Thanks also to your many staff and colleages who are making a difference in the lives of others. It makes me proud of my Croatian legacy (25%, 75% Irish). 

Best wishes.

Sincerely yours,

Brewer for Manhattan Borough President 2013

dear Friends:

On my own initiative, I have to ask you to volunteer and/or contribute to the campaign of Gale Brewer for Manhattan Borough President. It has been a joy and a privilege to know Gale for several decades. Her enthusiasm, commitment, good ideas, follow through, leadership and love mark her as the best. In the sweep of time, I have had a life due to a meaningful lens knowing Gale

Decades ago as a Columbia CUSSW student intern, I negotiated a placement with the pioneering social worker in politics, Ruth Messinger. Gale was the Chief of Staff. Nowhere else could we have organized such an inclusive coalition and had actions such as sitting-in a local tavern marked for a massive rent increase, or doing laundry on the street to support another business. I think of the spirit of my social worker buddy, Hannah of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, who always showed for a demo. She would be so thrilled to know Gale imagined and created zoning to protect some small businesses. This community organizing took place whilst college senior Barack Obama was in the neighborhood and I somehow just feel he signed one of our street petitions.

In my 9 years working at Citibank, it was a pleasure to hear the thoughts of Gale during her graduate work at Harvard, and at City Hall. Those late 1980s/ early 1990s were tough years since so many of my friends were dying from AIDS. I look at the photos of parties and see the faces of men I loved who are now dead. Gale was always at my parties and I see the face of my wonderful friend Frans from Rotterdam who is now dead and how he loved her. A photo of him is in one of her campaign videos. From the 1980s, we all advocated for civil rights first routinely denied, In my 1990s doctoral study, some of my research on lgbt families was received well, but my advisor oft decried there are no such families. Thankfully, in the spirit of my friends and their families, Gale has always been part of the advocacy with marriage equality in New York shining as a beacon to the world today.

When I moved to Newark in 1999/2000, I still campaigned for Gale in her first race for New York City Council. It was incredible to meet so many interesting people as well as to witness her natural rapport with people on the street. On election day, 9/11/2001, my first thought was to phone Gale as all transit was stopped due to the WTC attacks. For years I would share that "where were you moment" at the start of each of my college classes in Manhattan. My moment included being blessed to have had Gale and my Mom to purposefully phone that scary and significant day in our history.

I do not know all the issues particularly since I am such a Newark person now. As I think about Barack Obama, I may even disagree on some points, but they make tough decisions, have a heart, and I trust their judgments. Gale is one of those rare people who always has something positive to share about others. I know of her caring from many shared friends and experiences with Ellis, Susan and Gail, Wayne, Muriel, Hans, Ann Schwalbach, the Hunter Scholars, some of my siblings, and others just in need. What a wonderful life so many have had knowing the spirit of Gale.

As you can read, I no doubt have total bias. I love the spirit of her campaign and know that she will be the best investment. Perhaps you can volunteer just to meet fun, involved folks with passion for our future.

Thank you so much.

thoughts on how research happens

Paradigm and paradigm change are integral in research. In my Methods of Research bibliography is an Open Society Institute video on their drug policy advocacy around the world. 

As ever one's  personal experience is just that, one's personal experience.  Most of my interest in drug policy has been in terms of clinical social work since 1982 with clients having substance abuse concerns. Caregiving as presented in the work of Ann Burack-Weiss has so informed my practice. I routinely refer to mindfulness as per Buddhist thought.

Policy is another lens. In my experience, luck has had it that I have known several drug policy advocates who are also tied to the Open Society. The first is a Swiss legislator who I visited in Zurich in the early 1990s and was then involved in the work presented in the Open Society video. I also observed the experiment to allow drug use in a Zurich park. My trips were in the time of my doctoral study in cross-national social policy, and I visited social work programs in Berlin and Rotterdam. 

Secondly, I have known the strategic planner for Open Society programs throughout the world and heard about initiatives since the 1990s. Third, I have done recent consulting with a drug policy organizer in San Francisco whose program is funded by the Open Society.

The work of these advocates as well as my lens as a social worker qua researcher are examples of how research can and does happen, and is utilized. The Zurich project initiated as action research  for real life social welfare activity and is presented as a case study video (case study is a method of intense focus on a case, group, community,  program or policy).  My friend at Open Society has put together resources around the world about drug policy, i.e, meta=research. The San Francisco activity is  case study and action research: the process of needs assessment and implementing solutions with real time evaluation feedback.

Thinking from the lens of Kuhn, paradigm shifts. Drug policy is changing as data analysis shows best practices from real life activity. There are many ways of knowing.