Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Outrageous Outrage

So we have outrage over the killing of the gorilla (Harambe) at the Cincinnati Zoo. We have outrage over the child’s mom for apparently looking the other way and losing track of her child for a moment. We have outrage over bathrooms. We have outrage over the outrage and over so many things.

But it doesn't seem like we have outrage over children fending for themselves while their moms and dads work two jobs just to barely make ends meet.

We don't have outrage when children live in substandard housing because their parents pay predatory interest rates for their mortgage or pay rent to landlords who don't fix leaking roofs.

We don't have outrage when children go to bed hungry (or when Congress votes to cut school nutrition and SNAP programs).

We don't have outrage when a parent battling addiction, often due to drugs prescribed by their doctor, can't get the treatment they need to be healthy and sober.

The dangerous threat to our children is not a gorilla. It is not a stranger using the bathroom in Target.
The real threat to our children and their future is our system of policies and systems that leave too many of our children (and their families) out in the cold.

Instead of blaming each other and being outraged at the most recent sensational headline, it's time we enact laws and public policies that remediate child and family poverty. It’s time that we increase efforts to meet children’s basic needs. It's time that we develop partnerships with families and respect culturally diverse practices. It’s time that we address our flawed systems of racial and socioeconomic disparities in this country.

It's time that we build public will and grow social norms that encourage giving of ourselves to benefit those less fortunate. It’s time that we offer help when we can give it, and it’s time to ensure that we get help when we need it.

It's time that we stop pointing fingers and start lending a hand.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

More Biscuits. Fewer Guns.

I am so dismayed at the news that there has been yet another mass shooting earlier today. This time in San Bernadino, California. It has been almost 3 years since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, and our collective response has been to ignore the problem and pray for the victims.  It is a national disgrace.

Opponents to gun control say the answer to this violence is more guns. Even though the United States has more guns than any other nation in the world and not surprisingly has the highest number of deaths involving the use of a firearm. Other countries have fewer guns and fewer deaths. We have more guns and more deaths. The availability of guns is not making people safer.

To illustrate just how ubiquitous guns are in our state, I took a look at the directory of Federal Firearms Licensed Dealers in my home state of West Virginia. Did you know that there are 1,182 licensed dealers? Thats more than 11 gun shops and gun dealers for every McDonald's in our state and more than 23 dealers for every Tudor's Biscuit World.

There is something very wrong about this picture.

We need more biscuits and fewer guns.

#GunControl #355 #WV #ProtectChildrenNotGuns #SanBernadino

Dear Santa Claus...

A photo posted by Emily McDowell Studio (@emilymcdowell_) on
#endgunviolence ‪#‎notonemore‬ ‪#‎sanbernardino‬ #protectchildrennotguns

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Thoughts on the Aquapocalypse

I am still organizing my thoughts about the chemical leak that has poisoned the water for more than 1 in 6 people living in the state of West Virginia. But I wanted to express at least a small part of my feelings here.

Since learning of the chemical leak and subsequent "Aquapocalypse", my emotions have ranged from rage to despair, and everywhere in between.  

The cost to our public health is staggering.  The impact on our environment is incalculable.

And yet, I am also beginning to feel a sense of hopefulness that is unexpected and hard to explain. 

I am encouraged by the hundreds and even thousands of people who are standing in solidarity to take action and ensure that this never happens again.  The sense of community and common purpose that is evident as neighbors assist neighbors overcome the challenges caused by this negligence.

People are connecting to one another and demanding change.  People are organizing. People are developing solutions.  People are working together to challenge the status quo.

I am beginning to see a glimmer of hope that this tragedy can be catalyst for transformation for our state.

I asked the following question on Facebook, but I want to ask it here so that it can serve as a call to action.

Are you ready to make West Virginia the best place in the country to raise a family? 

Seriously, are you ready?

The way I see it, there is no reason why our state can't be the best place to raise children.  We have great scenic beauty.  Our state is blessed with rich natural resources and some of the most intelligent, caring, creative, talented, hard working people in the world.

There is no reason why we can't develop innovative solutions that propel our state forward.

There is no reason why we can't create the strongest early childhood system and best schools in the country.

There is no reason why we can't improve our public health system so that our people are healthier and live longer, happier lives.

There is no reason why we can't have a robust and diverse economy that promotes shared prosperity for all.

There is no reason why we can't have clean drinking water, clean air, and the most pristine natural beauty.

There is no reason why our children shouldn't have the happiest childhoods supported by loving, nurturing families and communities.

There is no reason why West Virginia can't be the best place to raise a family.

But it will take more than prayers and hopes to make that vision a reality.  

It's going to take a whole lot of hard work. It's going to take a whole lot of people working together. It's going to take every one of us working together in small and large ways to make it happen.

But, you know what? We can do it. If we all work together, we can do it. 

We WILL do it.

Let's do it... together. 

Who is with me?

Illustration from "The Barefoot Guide to working with organizations and social change." See: