Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “KQED”

I HAVEN’T died on schedule.

I’ve been holding off on this one for a while, primarily because of my close friend, Rebecca, who passed away 10 days ago. But she, like so many, defied the doctors and statistics, to go on living far beyond what was expected of her.

“I haven’t died on schedule.” So begins a beautiful article by Mark Trautwein from San Francisco in The New York Times.

Mark Trautwein

I have now met a couple of people who have lasted longer than they thought, or rather than they were told by their doctors. My grandmother lasted several years more than anyone expected. Anyone, that is but her. She announced that she would see all her grandchildren have their barmitzvahs. Mine was still several years in the future and some in the family raised eyebrows. She passed away shortly after my barmitzvah – when she was ready, people said.

How do you live under such a cloud, a death sentence, really? Where do these people find the strength not just to survive, but live. My friend, Rebecca, lived her life in full until the end, helping people as she had all her life.

My heart is full of admiration for those people who live in such conditions. They seem so brave, so strong. I think how much the rest of us can learn from their example. Please take a moment to read the article. You can also follow Mark’s blog.

It has occurred to me that unless we are living under the same roof as that person, it is really difficult to keep their struggle in our minds or to normalize it. Probably, we only see them when they are feeling good, certainly not when they are having treatment or lying awake in the middle of the night. Often, they don’t want to dwell on their struggle when you visit, preferring to hear about your life (don’t your problems seem so insignificant at that moment?) or discuss what they crave for – normalcy.

Do you know someone who is fighting a life-threatening disease, illness etc.? Maybe it’s time to go round, hang out with them, be in the picture. If you can’t, give them a call. It’s Labor Day weekend coming up. You have time, not that you can measure time. Ask these people.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

——————————————————————————————————


Darfur and The Stove From Berkeley

Five years ago, the US Government sent a scientist from Berkeley to Darfur to try to find a solution to a grave problem facing families in displacement camps. Here is the amazing story of Ashok Gadgil and the Darfur-Berkeley stove. While the KQED story is a bit dated (they have succeeded in distributing several thousand stoves) it explains the whole story so well.

The women have to walk for up to several hours a day, three-five times a week, just to collect enough firewood for cooking. During these treks they were often subjected to sexual assault and abuse.

Ashok Gadgil and his colleagues collaborated with a group of women to design the Berkeley-Darfur Stove. It is a simple fuel-efficient stove that enables the women to make considerably less dangerous journeys. Instead of going out 4-5  times a week, they were now going to just once a week. It also helps prevent exhaustion and allows them to spend more time with their families.

In addition, the stove saves money and food rations that are often sacrificed to buy fuel because the stove uses half as much firewood as traditional cooking methods. Moreover it limits the harmful emissions that contribute to global warming, as well as toxic pollutants that cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.

Using the stove will save an estimated $150 per year in fuel costs, with the lifespan of the stove being approximately five years.

Each stove is made from sheet metal pieces that are stamped out in India. These flat-kits are shipped to Sudan where they are assembled by the Sustainable Action Group, a Sudanese non-governmental organization affiliated with Oxfam America.

The total cost to fabricate, ship and assemble each stove is $20.

For more details and to learn how to help, please visit their website
——————————————————————————————————-

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

 

 

People Making A Difference: Peter Allen

Peter Allen will stand for Attorney General of California on November 2nd. He is the Green Party candidate and, in the interest of disclosure, a friend of mine.

As a college student in London, I crossed the line from the Labor Party to the Green Party. The Ecology Party, as it was known then, was just forming. I was met with derision from my fellow left wing students and smirked at by students who supported the Conservative Party.

In the end, it was all my fault that Labor failed to win a working class constituency back from the Tories (They actually doubled their majority). It had nothing to do with the fact that the Conservatives had bribed the people renting government houses by offering them the chance to buy their houses even though many could not afford the costs. Sounds familiar?

There is a lot that makes sense on Peter’s website. As I made my way through it I couldn’t help feeling that there is little in his agenda that people would disagree with. The main challenge is making the decision to vote outside of Democratic/Republican lines. It is a tough one and I can offer very little.

However, at some point, we need to send a message to the main parties that their complacency is what is breaking the system, and keeping it broken.

More on Peter’s policies in future posts, but for now, might I suggest you check out his blog at http://peterallenforag.blogspot.com/.

Hear Peter on KQED along with all the other candidates except the Republican who declined to be on the broadcast (Kamala Harris gets the first half hour and is also impressive). Whatever his reason, I wish to share my admiration for Michael Krasny as a moderator. I have listened to radio moderators all over the world and Mr. Krasny stands head and shoulder above the rest.

Finally, for those of you wondering if you are brave enough to leave the two party system (and everyone else), enjoy this song from Billy Bragg (the song begins at 1 minute 20 seconds if you want to skip the intro).


——————————————————————————————————-

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: