Category Archives: Current Issues

Let’s End Ageism

In America there is a big elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge. All the talk of booming economy and reduced unemployment that completely leaves out a large segment of our society who have not fallen through the cracks but down a humongous sinkhole.

ProPublica did a report in December 2018 focusing on a big elephant: ” If You’re Over 50, Chances Are the Decision to Leave a Job Won’t be Yours.”

ProPublica and The Urban Institute analyzed date from the Health and Retirement Study that followed ” a nationally representative sample of about 20,000 people from the time they turn 50 through the rest of their lives.”  Their findings were “that between the time older workers enter the study and when they leave paid employment, 56 percent are laid off at least once or leave jobs under such financially damaging circumstances that it’s likely they were pushed out rather than choosing to go voluntarily ….only one in 10 of these workers ever again earns as much as they did before their employment setbacks.”

Here is another story about someone feeling the effects of the above reality and how the ‘gig economy’ is not such a wonderful panacea for us all, “Surviving on $3 a Day and Hope, the seven lessons I’ve learned living in poverty.”

Age discrimination is the parent of this elephant and I don’t think it helps to get new skills or a new hairstyle without efforts to change attitudes of employers and society toward older people. I do think policymakers need to take a realistic look at this and what policies might help like lowering the Medicare enrollment age so employers would not use the excuse that older workers will cost them more with their health problems, (which is an ageist stereotype), and people who are unable to find secure employment would not lose their health coverage.  While I was looking for programs offering solutions, I came across an article from American Society on Aging, “Ageism in Action! Ageism Inaction!” 

In it the author mentioned an organization, Boomers Leading Change, that states, “We mobilize, connect and empower Adults 50+ to utilize your skills, passion and energy to create positive, lasting social change.”  This organization based in Denver, Colorado, recruits people 50+ to utilize their skills to help their community.

“Our volunteers receive highly valuable education and training and then are connected with service opportunities in one of our programs – The Volunteer Program, our AmeriCorps Encore Program or our Boomers Advocacy Academy. In addition, our Connect for Health Coverage Guides help individuals and families learn about health insurance that fits their needs then find coverage through Colorado’s insurance marketplace.” (Boomers Leading Change)

The AmeriCorps Encore Program is probably the only paid position, and probably low paying, but I like their approach to volunteering for older adults, not just stuffing envelopes. Boomers Leading Change wants to “change the world’s view about aging.” We need more organizations dedicated to this.


We Are The World Blogfest, #WATWB, is a monthly series dedicated to shining some light into our world.

 

Image of Solidarity March for Immigrants and Refugees by Fibonacci Blue on Flickr.

Away From Home

My great-grandmother saw 4 sons leave their home for faraway lands never to return. The family would say no one knows what became of them. Well, I know some of what became of them. My grandfather and his brother emigrated to the US and settled in California. The two oldest sons emigrated to Australia. I have been able to piece together the outline of the lives of my grandfather and his brother. The brothers who emigrated to Australia may exist in a collection of government records, but so far I am unable to find them. The oldest went first then sent money for his younger brother to come by ship with a younger sister.  In the New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant  passenger list of the ship it says that Thomas was 28 years old, his mother Rachel in Tipperary, and he was going to his older brother Pat in Sydney. The New South Wales, Australia, Immigration Deposit Journal states that Patrick paid toward the passage of Thomas, 25 years old,a laborer, and Catherine, 23 years old, a domestic servant. Their prior address listed in the journal as c/o my great-grandfather in Tipperary, Ireland. I hope I can find what happened to them but I may never know.

The story of immigrants is repeated over and over. People traveling away from home looking for a better life. They leave behind part of themselves and families sometimes wondering what became of them. Immigration is a major topic in the United States once again. There must be better solutions for assisting immigrants and working to improve conditions in their home countries so they are not forced to flee.

I found an article by Marisa Peñaloza of NPR ‘A Guatemalan Village Tells The Story Of  Immigration To The US’ which describes a family’s situation and what motivated a man to try to get to the US.  There are many organizations in this country and international that are working to help immigrants. I just picked one, KIND, but I leave it up to you to decide which organizations to support. KIND works to provide legal representation for children appearing in court alone, children who have entered the US alone.

Another perspective in this article, ‘The Case for Getting Rid of Borders–Completely.’


Featured image Image of Solidarity March for Immigrants and Refugees by Fibonacci Blue on Flickr. We Are The World blogfest, #WATWB cohosts for this month are: Eric Lahti , Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Peter Nena, Damyanti Biswas.

We are the World Blogfest for Positivity on Social Media

 

Pink Perfection Camellia by Trish Hartmann

People Making A Difference

The title of this month’s blog for We Are The World Blogfest is from the Christian Science Monitor’s online section on people who are working to make the world a better place. I go to this site often to find stories for my monthly posts. This month I am sharing a story about a non-profit organization in San Francisco called Miracle Messages. It was founded by Kevin Adler who was inspired to create his non-profit to help homeless people make contact with family members because of his late Uncle Mark who had been homeless for 30 years. The story “He helps homeless people reconnect with loved ones through video messages,”  by Bailey Bischoff describes how he has been able to reunite 100 individuals with friends and family and helped some of them to secure stable housing. It is very touching to read some of their stories like Mr. Spires who had lost touch with his daughter when his wife moved away and had not seen her since she was 3 years old. Miracle Messages was able to locate the daughter and reunite them online.

Kevin Adler wants to eliminate the stigma surrounding homeless people.

“A big part of our work is reframing people who are homeless as someone’s somebody”…( Kevin Adler Christian Science Monitor)

He has a goal of reuniting 1 million people by 2023 and has a hotline set up, 800-MISS-YOU.

Miracle Messages.org for more information on this organization.


We Are The World Blogfest, #WATWB, “seeks to promote positive news. There are many an oasis of love and light out there, stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world.”

Cohosts for this month’s #WATWB: Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Peter Nena, Andrea Michaels, Damyanti Biswas.

Click on the We Are The World Blogfest link if you would like to participate.

We Are the World Blogfest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured image Pink Perfection Camellia by Trish Hartmann on Flickr.

 

Women Can Do Science

You may think I went a tad overboard this month, and I probably did, but I wanted to shine a big light on the issue of gender equity in STEM careers. I am sharing stories about women in science who have had to overcome stereotypes about their gender to pursue careers in science. I am in awe of these women who continued studying and working in spite of all the barriers in their path. Part of the problem besides outright prejudice and discrimination may be that we do not read about these women in the media as often as we read about male scientists. So I mentioned two journalists who decided to analyze and remedy the lack of gender equity in their reporting. And I included what some organizations and companies are doing to bring more women into careers in the sciences. The stories about women in science definitely demonstrate resilience of the human spirit.

Nancy Grace Roman was told women can’t be scientists. It is a good thing she didn’t listen to that opinion. Here is a short video about Dr. Roman’s story in her own words courtesy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Katrina Jackson.

In the video Dr. Roman states that people are often not interested in how things got started. I think because we don’t read or hear stories about women in science we assume they don’t exist. Ed Yong in his Atlantic article talks about gender imbalance in science reporting. He talks about how he realized he was leaving women scientists out of his reporting and how he made the effort to remedy that. He mentions an example of his own writing in December 2015 about a conference on CRISPER, where he quotes six men and one woman which might indicate a lack of women working in the field. He writes this was:

“…all the more egregious because the CRISPR field is hardly short of excellent, prominent female scientists. Indeed, two of the technique’s pioneers, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, are women, and both of them spoke at the same conference from which I reported. And yet, if you read my piece, you could be forgiven for thinking that CRISPR was almost entirely the work of men.”-Ed Yong

If we never read about women in science, it is like they do not exist. He mentions his colleague Adrianne LaFrance who did a study with the help of a computer scientist at MIT on the proportion of women scientists she had been including in her articles and found it was much lower compared to men. She says:

“These numbers are distressing, particularly because my beats cover areas where women are already outnumbered by men—robotics, artificial intelligence, archaeology, astronomy, etc. Which means that, by failing to quote or mention very many women, I’m one of the forces actively contributing to a world in which women’s skills and accomplishments are undermined or ignored, and women are excluded.”-Adrienne LaFrance

You might argue that more women scientists do not exist or are less qualified to be quoted. Yong found this was not the case he just needed to look in the right places.

“It is getting increasingly easy to find such people. The journalist Christina Selby, writing at the Open Notebook, compiled a list of tips for diversifying sources. The journalist Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato created Diverse Sources, a searchable database of underrepresented experts in science. 500 Women Scientists, a nonprofit, created Request a Woman Scientist, a similar (and larger) database. Both can be filtered by country, specialty, and more. Several scientists have compiled lists of women in microbiology, astronomy, physics, evolution, political science, neuroscience, and more. I keep a personal list of women and people of color who work in the beats that I usually cover. And if these all fail, the most basic journalistic method always works: Ask someone. Get people in the field to suggest names.”-Yong

Women in STEM sciences at NASA, web site has profiles and links to resources for girls and boys.

Women at JPL

And you may have heard some buzz about how women don’t belong in Tech or do well in Tech. Here is a bit about that:

GE announced the goal of having 20,000 women in STEM jobs by 2020.

This video is so inspiring, it made me cry. It is about a Pakistani girl who excelled in STEM and wanted to be an engineer:

And TED Talk by Kimberly Bryant founder of Black Girls Code. Ms. Bryant wants to encourage women and girls of color to pursue careers in tech and is helping with her nonprofit:

And what if a female scientist was treated like a superhero?


We Are The World Blogfest, #WATWB, hosted by Belinda Witzenhausen, Emerald Barnes, Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Lynn Hallbrooks, Mary Giese, Michelle Wallace, Peter Nena, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Simon Falk, Susan Scott, Sylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein. We Are The World Blogfest is a monthly blog occurring the last Friday of each month dedicated to sharing positive news of the world “stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world.”

*Featured Image at top of page: “Mary Van Rensselaer Buell (1893-1969), sitting in lab with microscope, reading paper” from Smithsonian Institute via Flickr. Creator/Photographer: Julian Scott Description: In 1919, Mary Van Rensselaer Buell (1893-1969) became the first woman to earn Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin. She carried on her extensive research on nutrition and physiological chemistry at University of Iowa, Johns Hopkins University, Washington University, and the University of Chicago.

 

We Are the World Blogfest

 

Quality Food For All

Trader Joe’s is a well-known and popular market in California and other parts of the US. Doug Rauch retired from Trader Joe’s after 33 years, 14 of them as president. He might have decided to enjoy his leisure time but he says he “failed at retirement.” It is good news for a poor area of Boston that he failed because he has succeeded in bringing quality foods to low-income people with his market the Daily Table.

“Since it opened two years ago, Daily Table has been a pioneer in its approach to food waste, food deserts, hunger, and obesity. It’s a nonprofit grocery store, selling healthy food at bargain prices.”-Christian Science Monitor

According to their website, Daily Table works to bring quality foods to people by working with  “a large network of growers, supermarkets, manufacturers, and other suppliers who donate their excess, healthy food to us, or provide us with special buying opportunities.” Learn more about Daily Table here.


We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB is a monthly blog hop where we share the good news stories from around the world. The co-hosts this month are: Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet Uppal, Sylvia Stein, Susan Scott, Andrea Michaels and Damyanti Biswas . You can check out We Are The World Blogfest site to see the rules for participation.

Information and quotes on my post are from The Christian Science Monitor article by Kathy Shiels Tully “A former exec at Trader Joe’s grows another kind of grocery store,” and from dailytable.org. Featured image from the Daily Table website.

We Are the World Blogfest

 

Hope For Some Homeless Girls

“As the first Girl Scout troop in New York designed specifically for homeless girls, Troop 6000 began in February as a modest effort to help bring a sense of community, if not normalcy, to the 100 families with children who lived in a Queens shelter…”-The Christian Science Monitor

Girls living in a homeless shelter in New York City have found hope and friendship through the creation of their own Girl Scouts Troop. It all started with one homeless mother, Giselle Burgess,wanting to create something positive for her girls and others living in a homeless shelter and now there is funding for Girl Scout Troops to be established in an additional 14 homeless shelters in NYC.

Troop 6000 appeared on The View and received some special support:


Featured Image of Girl Scout Troop 6000 via Council Member Jerry Van Bramer’s office from Christian Science Monitor Post by Harry Bruinius.

#WATWB We Are The World Blogfest co-hosted this month by Shilpa Garg, Sylvia McGrath, Mary Giese, Belinda Witzenhausen and Guilie Castillo