TALE OF A TRUE CHAMPION 
FORTY YEARS OF SUNSHINE
MAYOR HOSTS MINORITY AND WOMEN'S BUSINESS NETWORK 
UPDATE ON STATUS
OF AFGHAN WOMEN 
WomanScope NewsMagazine • September 2011
Rhea Feikin, The Epitome of Class By Rebecca Jones
ersonable. Creative. Stylish. Compassionate. All adjectives used to describe Rhea Feikin, one of Maryland’s most well-known faces. And yes, Feikin, the always-smiling local television personality, is exactly how she is portrayed--and more.
To sum her up, Feikin is the epitome of class. An integral part of Owings Mills-based Maryland Public Television (MPT), Feikin admits that being on television had always been her dream. She began her television career, somewhat unexpectedly, in the early 60’s, when she was a speech therapist for the Baltimore City Department of Education. Holding her degree in speech therapy from The University of Maryland, Feikin said that when the opportunity to do an in-school program through WBAL came her way, she jumped at the chance. The show, Betty Better Speech, gave Feikin the opportunity to be on television and use her speech training. “It was my first taste of being on television and I knew it was where I was supposed to be,” Feikin said. Shortly thereafter, Feikin was offered a full-time gig with WBAL. Enter, Miss Rhea and Sunshine. Fiekin, or Miss Rhea, partnered with giant dog puppet, Sunshine (created by Cal Schumann), to provide morning entertainment on WBAL. Sunshine, who years later evolved into J.P. Puppet, accompanied Feikin to present Channel 11’s
weather during the evening news. Upon leaving WBAL in the mid-70’s, Feikin began freelancing at MPT. And the rest, they say, is history. With an energy that emulates through the screen, Feiken is adamant about the importance of MPT’s pledge drives. “They are one of my favorite things to do at MPT,” Feikin said. Feikin is also the proud host of Chesapeake Collections, an MPT show that explores the history of the Chesapeake Bay Region. “It is so interesting to hear the stories, see the treasures and of course, interact with the people on the show,” Feikin said. She added that expert appraisers determine what is and is not considered to be a collectible. Feikin added, “Every episode is a treasure to me.” And, yes, to answer the question that everyone asks, she is just as personable and welcoming as she is on television. With a constant smile on her face, Feikin does not hesitate to stop what she is doing to share a friendly “hello” to each person she passes in the hall. Always ready with a hug, Feikin says that she has, “the best job in the world” because of her co-workers. “Every person that works here has something special to offer. Working together as a family is the secret to the success of any business.” And now, what lies ahead for the future of the class act we know as Rhea Feikin? You will have to stay tuned.
Rhea Feikin, who began her career as a speech therapist, has been a familiar face on televisions across Maryland for over four decades ON THE COVER Photography by Cory Donovan
September 2011 • WomanScope NewsMagazine
From The Publisher’s Desk… By Janet Davis-Leak, Publisher/Editor-in-chief Dear Friends, When I decided to start WomanScope News Magazine (WSNM, I asked myself the question, “why did I want to start a publication geared towards women?” Is it because of my love for women and girls issues? Is it because of my media background, having worked as promotion and advertising director for a major local radio station and learning that women are not always given as fair an opportunity for advancement as their male counterparts? Was it starting my former churches newspaper, Spirit, some years ago, from which the seed for the idea of eventually launching my own news publication was originally planted? Or could it have been because of a desire to present a forum for which women could freely network and dialogue, community groups could get the word out about their activities and where businesses could reach this very important demographic? Well, there may be a number of reasons for why I may have wanted to start WSNM, but the most compelling one is that with all that is happening in our world today, especially as it relates to women and girls, I felt the need to create a venue of some sort that speaks to their concerns, needs and interests. I envisioned giving these women and girls a voice, one that would be listened to; a voice loud enough to be heard. I began by forming The WomanScope Media Program, the nonprofit umbrella under which WSNM functions as one of its projects. WSNM endeavors to present news and information as it impacts women locally, nationally and internationally. In our inaugural edition of WSNM, we covered a sundry of women-based topics. Our cover story, written by national veteran editor and writer, Rebecca Jones, focuses her article on the inspirational and always engaging, Rhea Feikin. Locallyknown fitness expert, writer and trainer, Jason Bosley-Smith, shares his encouraging words and knowledge, while fitness guru and trainer, Tonya Wigfall, tells part one of three of her journey to fitness and good health. Writer, Lisa Davila, gives tips about the importance of getting regular check-ups and maintaining good health, while Eileen Gabbey, Executive Director of the Maryland SPCA, shares the mission of her organization. International writer, Adi Elbaz, updates us on the status of Afghan women while our book reviewer, Medallio Green, reviews The Help a novel by American author Kathryn Stockett. Need answers to some questions regarding life and relationship issues? Stop by our Woman to Woman advice column hosted by Dr. Renee Parks for some guidance. Our Mom Central page will lend some light to moms on a wide array of topics including how to raise a reader. On a personal note, a little “shout-out” to my editors, photographers, writers, graphic persons, sales staff and advisors including Nancy Taylor, financial advisor and bookkeeper, “Thank you.” Thank you for all of your hard work. Thank you for giving above and beyond what any publisher could ever wish for…. your open minds, hearts and giving spirits. But, most of all, I would like to give thanks to my God above for inspirationally guiding me through this project. So, dear friends are you intrigued? Good! Sit back, relax and enjoy!
Contents Woman of the Month ...... 4
MWBD Event.................. 12
Mom Central .................... 5
Health & Fitness.......... 6, 7
Off the Shelf .................. 15
Move of the Month .......... 6
Political News ................ 16
Community News ............ 8
International News ........ 17
Wired ................................ 9
Pet Care ......................... 18
Car Care ......................... 19
The Healing Place ......... 10
Arts & Entertainment .... 20
Travel .............................. 11
Finance .......................... 21
Green Living................... 11
Editorials ........................ 22
WomanScope NewsMagazine • September 2011
WOMAN of the MONTH
DiPaula Stevens By Erin Frost, Managing Editor/Staff Writer Since 1997 successful women-owned businesses have increased by 50% despite dismal reports from the National Federation of Independent Business' Education Foundation that 30% will break even and 30% will lose revenue. Suffice to say, taking a vision of owning your own business and making that dream come to fruition is not an easy feat; but with 8.1 million current businesses being owned and operated by successful, goal driven women one thing is clear: entrepreneurial women are here to stay. And if there is one local woman who knows about the hardships, dedication and commitment it takes to start and make a business successful it is Janine DiPaula Stevens. Mrs. DiPaula Stevens owns Vircity, a company that originated with her vision in 2003 and became a reality in 2006. Vircity is a business resource center that works with small to mid-sized business owners and non-profit organizations to provide cost-effective solutions to achieve their objectives. Among the myriad of services Vircity and its staff provides is printing services, word processing, data entry and administrative/bookkeeping support. In a unique twist, this savvy business owner recognized that many entrepreneurs begin their businesses out of their homes and thus lacked a “physical location” that could provide such resources and basic necessities such as faxes or a location for packages to be picked up and delivered, particularly business owners who travel frequently and are not always available to receive them. “Vircity can essentially be your virtual office” says DiPaula Stevens. “A business can utilize our address as the address of their company where packages can be delivered, and you can have peace of mind that it will actually be here when you return from a trip or meeting with a client.” Need a fax sent? She explains that a client can simply email the document to Vircity and the staffs will then scan and fax it for you. If you are expecting a fax, simply give Vircity’s fax number. Once it is received they will convert that fax into a .pdf document and email it directly to you. Responsible for the daily operations and marketing for the company, DiPaula Stevens helps businesses realize and achieve their potential by providing cost-effective ways to integrate marketing, assist in accounting and bookkeeping responsibilities and other administrative needs at a competitive rate-and only when the client needs it, therefore lowering the cost of an otherwise needed fully staffed office. In April 2006, her husband, William Stevens, joined the company to enhance the
Dipaula Stevens and her husband, William, help women-owned businesses thrive; WomanScope NewsMagazine being one of them.
business’s services. Mr. Stevens brought his financial expertise which when combined with DiPaula Steven’s vision and marketing experience, catapulted the administrative aspects needed for business growth. Vircity is a 100% woman owned business that has doubled in revenue every year since its creation. While the services have changed to meet their growing client’s needs, the level of professionalism and customer service has remained constant. “Doing everything you can to not say no to a client has been a key to Vircity’s success” says DiPaula Stevens. Indeed, while some businesses struggle to maintain stellar customer service, Vircity and its staff believe it is pivotal. “Often, clients will come into our store with questions about how to do something, or where to find something. If we don’t provide that particular service, we are here to guide them and offer resources. It’s all about helping out the community and working together,” says DiPaula Stevens. A native of Baltimore, DiPaula Stevens strongly believes in the importance of giving back to the community and currently serves as President of the Baltimore Regional Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and also serves on the Board of Directors for St. Casimir Catholic School and The Tyanna Foundation. She is the founder of the annual NIC&U event benefiting Mercy Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit and an active member of Network 2000, a Baltimore woman’s leadership program dedicated to mentoring and promoting women in business, and co-chair of the organization’s annual Women of Excellence event. In 2008 and 2010, Ms. DiPaula Stevens was recognized as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by the Maryland Daily Record. In 2009 she was awarded SmartCEO’s BRAVA award and the Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise Award. In addition to Vircity, she is also an adjunct professor at Notre Dame University of Maryland, where this fall she has created the program for and is teaching an accredited course, “Entrepreneurship”, where she can share her wealth of knowledge and solid business background and successes with undergraduate students interested in entrepreneurialism.
September 2011 • WomanScope NewsMagazine
even babies love. Get to know the librarians. They are a great resource for new books, and can make recommendations as they get to know you. Before you know it, your little one will be heading off to college and making her way in the world. And when that time comes, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you have raised not only a strong, independent adult, you have also raised a reader.
Raise a Reader
The National Center for Education Statistics (www.nces.ed.gov)
By Leslie Orndoff, Staff Writer
Reading to your child can be one of the most pleasant parts of your day. You settle in and enjoy the calm that comes from reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the fiftieth time. Your little one gets to bask in the glow of your undivided attention while developing a life-long love of books. Instilling a love of reading is one of the most important things you can do for your child. The benefits are many: increased vocabulary, a more active imagination, and a higher level of readiness for the rigors of school. By the time children reach school age it is clear which ones have had the advantage of being read to versus those who have not. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, children ages 3-5 who are read to are more likely to be able to count to 20, write their own names, and can read or pretend to read. Setting your child up for reading success can be easy and requires minimal effort. First, don’t wait! Reading to your infant, even newborns, ensures greater success down the road. Board books are always a favorite at this age, as well as books with bright
colors and pictures of other babies. As your child grows into a toddler, she’ll have opinions on a lot of things, including which book she’d like to read. She will most likely select the same story over and over. It is your job to grin and bear it, as repetition is one of the hallmarks of toddlerhood. Once your child is able to read for herself, don’t stop reading to her. Often children are able to comprehend complex storylines but are unable to actually read them. Pick a book that is a few grade levels above hers and continue the pleasant bonding time you have created. Once your child is reading confidently on her own, it’s a great time to establish a family reading time. Set aside a time each week to sit together and simply read. It’s a great way to start a conversation about a new idea or an interesting plotline. This helps create a reading culture in your house and will keep your child interested in reading for fun, even when she’s required to read for school. Don’t forget about the library. Establishing a weekly trip can be fun and most libraries have a story time that
WomanScope NewsMagazine • September 2011
HEALTH & FITNESS
Tips on How to
Hire the Perfect Personal Trainer By Jason Bosley-Smith, CSCS, FDN http://twitter.com/JasonBosleySmth
Years ago, hiring a personal trainer would have been considered something done by only celebrities or professional athletes – not anymore. Now, as more and more individuals seek guidance with their health and wellness, personal trainers are sought after to deliver assistance, coaching and instruction. A recent industry-wide survey conducted by the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, an organization for fitness professionals, showed that personal trainers provide a wide variety of clients with an extensive list of services, including nutritional guidance, fitness assessment, lifestyle management advice, weight control programs and many more.1 In the quest to hire the perfect personal trainer, consumers should consider a variety of factors and conduct an interview with their prospective personal trainer to gain a sense of skills, personality and overall philosophy before making their decision.
Education and Certification As with any professional service, one of the primary considerations is to determine the potential practitioner’s education and certification. In the fitness industry, educational backgrounds may vary, but most reputable certification bodies require at least a college-level degree. Personal trainers will often possess a degree in Health & Fitness or Exercise Science/ Physiology. In addition to this college education, a qualified personal trainer will also hold an active certification from one of the main certifying organizations that are nationally recognized and accredited by the NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies). Certification programs that receive NCCA Accreditation demonstrate compliance with the NCCA's Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs.2 Some of these personal training certifications include those from The National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine, and The American College of Sports Medicine. Maintenance of these certifications requires that the fitness professional complete continuing education credits annually, helping them stay on the forefront of new information and methods.
Experience Even with a certification, a personal trainer who is new to the field may lack the practical experience you desire. While the education and certification ensure a basic level of knowledge, newly certified trainers may not have had time yet to develop hands-on skills.
For generally healthy, beginner exercisers this may be perfectly fine, but for those with special considerations such as a prior injury or health condition, greater experience may be needed. Ask your prospective trainer about their years of experience and particularly about the success/results they have achieved with clients that held similar goals to your own. Personal trainers will often have portfolios or client testimonials that they are happy to share with you.
Personality & Rapport The final, and perhaps the most crucial, element in hiring your perfect personal trainer lies in establishing a solid rapport. The success of your personal training program hinges upon the development of an interpersonal relationship with your trainer. You don’t have to share the same hobbies and interests, but you do want to feel comfortable with the trainer and feel confident that they will be a good instructor, listener, and motivator. Research, interview and evaluate your options before making your final choice when hiring a personal trainer. For additional resources and a comprehensive database, search IDEA FitnessConnect (http:// www.ideafit.com/fitnessconnect) the largest directory of personal trainers and fitness instructors, with the most verified profile information from the most trusted certifications in fitness. References IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. 2011. How to Choose The Personal Trainer Who's Right For You. http://www.ideafit. com/fitness-library/how-to-choose-a-personal-trainer. Institute for Credentialing Excellence. 2011. http://www. credentialingexcellence.org/NCCAAccreditation/AccreditedCertificationPrograms/tabid/120/Default.aspx
MOVES OF THE MONTH - Jason Bosley-Smith, CSCS, FDN
SQUAT JUMP Squat Jumps are a great low to moderate intensity level plyometric exercise to perform. They increase lower body power and work the hips, legs, and glutes. INSTRUCTIONS: • Stand with your feet at shoulder width and raise your hands straight up • Dip your legs, drop your hands and pull your elbows back • Immediately jump and reach your hands up as high as you can • When you land, absorb the impact by bending your legs and dropping your hands • Then immediately go into the next jump, repeating for a specified number of reps PRO TIP: • Keep your knees apart (don't let them cave in) MISTAKES: • Not throwing the arms up to assist with the jumping • Letting the knees cave in during the landing • Landing too hard and abrupt (instead of bending the legs to absorb)
DEAD BUG The “dead bug” is a great exercise to develop and strengthen the core while protecting the low back. INSTRUCTIONS: • Begin lying on your back (supine) on the floor or a mat. Create a pelvic tilt so that your lower back is flat against the floor. Raise both arms straight up over your chest and shoulders. Lift both legs up straight over your hips. From this position, slowly lower the arm and leg of the same side towards the floor, keeping the opp site arm and leg elevated. Once the lowered arm and leg are nearly parallel to the ground, slowly raise them back up to their start positions. Repeat the same movement with the opposite arm and leg. Alternate between the 2 sides, ensuring that your lower back remains secure to the floor as each arm and leg lower. PRO TIP: • Only lower your leg to the point where you can still maintain contact between your lower back and the floor MISTAKES: • Allowing lower back to lift off the floor • Using momentum and swinging the arms/legs • Holding your breath
TRICEPS PRESS ON STABILITY BALL The lying triceps extension is a great exercise for building strength and tone in the upper arms while incorporating use of the hips, glutes and core. INSTRUCTIONS: • Lie on your back on a bench and hold the dumbbells over your chest with straight arms • Bend the elbows and lower the dumbbells toward the top of your shoulders • Keep your elbows pointed to the ceiling • Return the dumbbells to the top by straightening your arms PRO TIP: • Keep your elbows facing the ceiling and don't let them swing MISTAKES: • Allowing the elbows to swing forward or backward • Not bending the elbows to at least 90 degrees • Not extending the elbows straight
September 2011 • WomanScope NewsMagazine
HEALTH & FITNESS
Make the Commitment! By Tonya Wigfall, Staff Writer / Fitness Trainer / Instructor Your current level of fitness has little to do with heredity but it helps when families incorporate fitness into their everyday lives. Me? I come from an active family. Growing up both my parents exercised and took part in various activities. Although there was never any pressure to exercise, my dad, now 60 years old, has al-
ways been physically fit. It’s funny though I’m not quite sure how my dad stayed fit because I don’t recall ever seeing him actually exercise. I do, however, recall one summer during my teenage years, my cousin and I were up late eating ice cream. My dad passed by my room and asked, “Should you be eating ice cream this late?” Back then we never thought about the consequences but clearly now as an adult eating ice cream late at night is a definite no-no. Still, regardless of how we answered him, our answer resulted in being told that we would be getting up early to run with him around the neighborhood block. I hated that run that morning. It was the lon-
Why make the time when you feel just fine? By Lisa M. Davila, Staff Writer Even with your busy schedule, you probably find time to see the doctor when you’re sick. But what about when you feel well? “One of the best things you can do for your health is establish a relationship with a primary care doctor,” says Dee-Dee Shiller, D.O., director of the Women’s Wellness Center at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, Md.“You need someone to act as your ally andwho will ensure that you get the care you need.”
If you had a crystal ball Although your doctor can’t predict the future, he or she may help you avoid a major illness down the road. “Regular examinations may reveal signs of a medical condition long before you have symptoms,” Shiller explains. According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, most people who have high blood pressure aren’t aware of it. Likewise, diabetes and heart disease typically do not produce noticeable symptoms until the disease becomes advanced.“Deaths in the U.S. are related to many preventable conditions such as obesity and heart disease,” Shiller says. “Early treatment is absolutely essential for you to stay healthy and active.” Having a good relationship with your doctor can be particularly beneficial if you need to discuss a sensitive topic such as sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).“If you
are sexually active, you should be screened regularly. Many STDs have no symptoms, and they can significantly damage your reproductive organs,” Shiller explains. If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a doctor, you may also need to update your vaccinations. Many women think they don’t need shots because they received them as
gest what seemed like farthest run of my life. Today, I am happy to say that is no longer the case. Not too long ago, the phone rang and it was my dad. “So, how you doing kid? I wanted to ask you if you want to do the Army 10-miler with me this year,” he said. Well, this call was an absolute surprise, yet his question surprised me even more. My dad has been in the Army National Guard ever since I can remember, which would explain his physical fitness, but never has he asked me to participate in the race. So, I thought to myself, “Now why on earth would I want to do the Army 10-miler?” It is no secret that running is a great cardiovascular exercise and can burn anywhere from 500 to 1000 calories. Although I have run races, I run as a means to an end. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been running consistently
these past couple years but I also thought to myself that if I make this commitment then I definitely would be forced to begin training. So, my answer was, “Sure!” Hence, I made the commitment! Is running your exercise of choice? If so, I recommend that you start off gradually. While it only requires putting one foot in front of the other you should definitely have the proper shoes. Mix in walking and running until you can run without stopping. There are several things you should know about running and I’d like to take you on my journey over the next three issues of WomanScope. Together, we can get through any health and/or fitness commitment you have made but you have to make one, so make your commitment!
a child. But some vaccinations need to be given periodicallythroughout your life to remain effective.It’s also necessary to get a flu vaccine every year. “Along with your basic health needs, your quality of life is very important and your doctor can be an excellent resource. Aside from regular screenings and exams, I talk with patients about sexual function, incontinence, mood, weight and nutrition,” Shiller says.
may be able to help you obtain free or lowcost services such as blood pressure screenings, cholesterol checks, or vaccinations. Other services may also be available in some areas.“The Baltimore City Health Department offers free testing and treatment for STDs,” Shiller says. “And Planned Parenthood has health centers throughout Maryland that provide inexpensive contraception options and other family-planning services.” Health fairs are another option. Look for these free events in your community, at health care facilities, or at malls and shopping centers. Along with blood pressure and cholesterol checks, some health fairs offer heel scans to screen for osteoporosis (a disease that results in thin and weak bones). “You should not, however, rely on heel scans alone to determine your osteoporosis risk,” Shiller cautions. She adds, “The best things you can do for your body are to eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, practice safe sex, and see your doctor regularly.”
Where to find preventive health services Access to preventive health care is not easy to find in some communities, especially if you haven’t yet found a primary doctor. Your local health department or hospital
For more information The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office on Women’s Health offers a wealth of useful information including an interactive chart to help you determine which screenings and immunizations you need. Go to www.womenshealth.gov or call 800-994-9662 The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Family Health Administration offers many programs for uninsured residents and their families including screenings, family planning, nutrition, and dental health. Go to http://dhmh.maryland.gov/fha/ or call 410-767-5300
WomanScope NewsMagazine • September 2011
Touring the Nursery By Jeffrey F. Barken, Staff Writer Showing parents of a perspective student around the Bolton Hill Nursery, Louie Wilder admits, “Our asset is not our space.” The Baltimore-based school is limited to a single floor above a church, and it houses only three small classrooms, a cubby-hole office, and a closet library. Still, Wilder, school director, need not apologize. “Our asset is our staff,” she elaborates, revealing the secret of Bolton Hill’s success in early education. Today many schools are technologydependent to compensate for overcrowded classrooms, and educators are under pressure to produce favorable results on standardized tests, sapping the idealism and individual drive of good teachers nationwide. Parents today must balance a child’s early schooling with their own demanding work schedules, while striving for an educational experience that is both enriching and nurturing for their child. Bolton Hill offers a remarkable alternative. A deeper look into its classrooms, where children ages 2-5 years are cared for, reveals how a uniquely talented and diverse staff is employed and allowed the freedom to develop a curriculum that suits their own particular style. For Bolton Hill employees the game
What the school lacks in space, it makes up with staff energy and enthusiasm
RIC GUY/PHOTO Bolton Hill Nursery allow students to explore and learn in a flexible, nurturing environment meant to spark a life-long love of learning isn’t “pay for performance.” Instead, it’s about finding one’s niche, sharing creativity, and fostering interests in a young child. Mr. Yutaka Houlette, a graduate of MICA, brings his love of film and music to the school. He introduces the children to stop-frame movies, shadow scenes, and other digital media, as well as to a variety of children’s songs and instruments in weekly classroom performances. In the three-year olds’ room, Ms. Kelly Applefeld and Ms. Heidi Ostendorf, prepare elaborate, themedriven backdrops, while in the two-year olds’ room, Ms. Melissa Talleda, a Gouchereducated dancer, teaches movement and yoga. Other staff members augment the school’s curriculum by writing weekly newsletters, taking on administrative roles, constructing large-scale play areas, and art projects. The result is a school-wide sharing of human resources and an efficient method of delegating tasks and responsibilities. The energy and enthusiasm at Bolton Hill among students and staff, stems from the director’s bottom-up strategy of challenging teachers to excel. The school is introducing an “emergent” curriculum in which teachers are at liberty to probe their student’s curiosity and adjust lesson plans accordingly. A simple bird whistle might prompt further exploration of a unit on bird watching. A space shuttle launch might inspire a school-wide lesson on exploration of the solar system. The Bolton Hill program is flexible. There are no rigid parameters for a lesson’s length or material mastered. Teachers simply have to jump on the bandwagon with their students, find an
optimal way to delve in to the subject matter and make it come to life. The school seeks to build student independence and confidence. Concluding a parent tour, Wilder often shows an illustrated comic book scene that depicts the school’s model classroom. In the picture, children occupy different areas, the room is messy, and the children are loud and busy. The punch line to the comic is delivered when the final door to the fourfive year olds’ room is opened, revealing the remarkable nature of this model classroom. Indeed, the room is loud and busy, but the staff in all the classrooms quickly can demonstrate the qualities, values, heightened imagination, and learning that they have instilled in their young students. Teachers need not speak for the children; throughout the year student work is chronicled in journals and class projects. The Yearbook, is most revealing of student character. In 2010, the children were asked a series of abstract questions. “How do we think? What will the world be like in one hundred years? What is nothing?” The children’s answers to these and other open-ended questions shocked everyone. There was wit, depth of perception, and eloquence in the way they expressed themselves. One student even had the capacity to turn such questions around. When asked, “How many minds can you hold in your brain?” The child answered “A lot, like 100. I know because I have a lot of questions. Each question is a mind, right?” Such introspection and developed reasoning would go unnoticed and un-encouraged, without a talent-
ed staff, ready to urge students to articulate reactions to stimuli and able to offer creative methods to engage students avidly. There is, of course, another element that balances the equation: parents. At Bolton Hill, parent involvement makes all the difference, resulting in a true community school. Families generously and enthusiastically support the school’s program. During a voluntary “spring cleaning,” parental attendance was high. Parents eagerly helped repaint the classrooms and chairs, and even repaired the bathroom plumbing. Other parents took time off to give special presentations to the children. This year, one father performed a comedy act. Another dad brought in several exotic animals. Other parents volunteered to assist on field trips to the communal garden in Druid Hill Park, as well as to the aquarium and zoo. Their hard work bolsters the Bolton Hill program and provides teachers with the strength and stability of outside resources. The day-to-day routine of any school presents challenges, but the Bolton Hill Nursery niche organization and flexible curriculum makes it possible for the right teacher to always be teaching the right group of students at the right time. Though the walls are covered in old-fashioned black chalk paint instead of fancy touch screen computers, it is clear where the Bolton Hill community has invested. The school board and director endorse the belief that the best staff makes for the best children and program, and parents echo this philosophy with their support and volunteerism. As a result, the school is bursting with energy and character.
September 2011 • WomanScope NewsMagazine
To Click or Not to Click… By Rita Engdahl, Staff Writer Keeping up with the Internet and all of its continual technology can be overwhelming. Properly understanding words including: malware, firewall and security software are sometimes enough to make even the most seasoned Internet user dizzy. That’s what happened to me the other day. At the time, I was in Starbucks sipping my favorite Toffee Nut latte, working on this particular article. Suddenly, the little white arrow displayed by my mouse pointer began moving frantically over my computer screen. As I was considering whether or not it was the software that I had downloaded onto my computer the other day, I thought to myself, “Wow, what a coincidence… I’m writing an article on the dangers of down loading malicious software and now my mouse-pointer is under attack.” Just then, as I looked at my tilted mouse-pad sitting on the table, I realized something. There were napkins underneath my mouse-pad and when I moved the napkins my mouse pointer became stable again. “Well,” I thought, “that was simple.” Oh, if only all computer problems were that easy to understand and fix. The Low Down on Downloading Although the risks of downloading software have been well-publicized, let’s face it, it’s difficult to know what to do when faced with certain “click it or not” decisions. Don’t think you’ll always see a “Download” button before downloading. When you transfer a file to your computer you're downloading it. The act of downloading something can also include opening a picture, clicking on website links, clicking links in emails and even copying music files, MS Word files, etc. What is often forgotten, or not understood until now, is that downloading falls under the umbrella of Malicious Software. There are several threats lurking under the category of “Malware” and one click in the wrong direction can wreak havoc on your computer. What is malicious software? Malicious software (malware) is any software that gives partial to full control of your computer to do whatever the malware creator wants. Malware can be a virus, worm, trojan, adware, spyware, root kit, etc. The damage done can vary from something slight as chang-
ing the author's name on a document to full control of your machine without your ability to easily find out.1 Malicious software generally finds its way to a computer as a result of someone downloading the software or clicking something which downloads malicious software to a computer. This ‘bad’ software can install things on your PC without your consent and even without your knowledge. Helpful Solutions A helpful solution is to keep your security software up-to-date and then use your security software on a regular basis. Scan files for viruses before downloading them to your computer. It’s best to scan all files and attachments but be particularly careful if you do not recognize who sent the file or the file type. For example; music, pictures, and text files with names ending in .MP3, .JPG or .TXT are less likely to be harmful. However, files with names ending in .EXE, .COM, .BAT, and .VBS have more potential to damage your operating system. The best defense is a firewall. Most employers provide great firewalls and protection to aid you in keeping your computer safe. It is important for you to take those same precautions while at home. One of several precautions which will give you a big bang for your buck is spam filtering which means blocking those unwanted messages. One that same note, consider an antivirus program to scan all incoming e-mail attachments and files before they are opened. Next, make every attempt to keep your protective software current and up-to-date with the latest patches and security releases. Although there is no science to keeping your computer safe you can start by decreasing your computer's vulnerability to outside risks. The bottom line is this: Don’t be in a rush when opening unknown e-mails, downloading photos or installing software. Remain informed and continue using security products to protect your computer and your data. And do yourself a favor: make sure you’ve done your due diligence before making the decision to click or not to click. http://www.seas.ucla.edu/security/malware. html 1
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NOW, LET’S PLAY
[AT YO U
TO CLICK OR NOT TO CLICK… 1.) You receive an email from a stranger that says you’ve won the lottery and all you need to do is click the link which takes you to your millions!
DON’T CLICK! 2.) There’s a pop-up ad which says you will win a free music download if you click the link.
DON’T CLICK! [UNLESS YOU BELIEVE IN THE TOOTH FAIRY]
3.) You’ve stumbled upon a pop-up advertisement. You know it’s not a good idea to click on anything. You see a button that says “Click OK to close this window”.
DON’T CLICK! [CLOSE THE POPUP WINDOW BY PRESSING ALT+F4]
4.) You’ve received a large strangely named picture from your favorite cousin. You would really like to view the picture since you haven’t looked at a swimming pool with empty chairs in quite some time now. What should you do?
DON’T CLICK! [OR OPEN THE PICTURE YET]
Before opening the file to view it, save it to your hard drive. This way, your antivirus software can check the file and remove it or quarantine it if it detects potentially damaging code.
WomanScope NewsMagazine • September 2011
ADVISE / THE HEALING PLACE
Woman to Woman By Dr. Renée Parks, Staff Writer
Dear Dr. Renée, I’m a single mom of a five year old, with a very busy career. How can I date, without compromising my son's comfort and my busy schedule? I figured I could kill two birds with one stone by seeking romantic endeavor at the office. Is dating on the job considered taboo? - Newbie Mom
Hello, Newbie, It is not necessary to put your love-life on hold just because you are a single mom. It’s okay to enjoy yourself and give yourself permission to have some grown-up fun time. Consider giving yourself a date night (with a great babysitter staying behind). I do not recommend office romances as this could interfere with your career if there are ever problems in the relationship. Try venturing to places where like-minded people are and make a bet with yourself to start at least one conversation before leaving. Remember, the happier you are, the happier your child will be.
Dear Dr. Renée, As a single woman, I enjoy going out to clubs. I have become much more open to one-night stands as a way to address my need for male attention. Can a quality relationship come from a one-night stand? - Standing Single
Hi, Standing, Going out to a club to enjoy yourself is far better than sitting at home with the remote control being a couch potato. However, onenight stands do not usually lead to the long-term satisfaction that you are seeking. Use these experiences to have good clean fun rather than having the expectation that you will find a long-term mate. Try going places where the singles are like singles groups, bus trips or other social events. The more fun you have the more attractive you will be to Mr. Right and he will come along when you least expect it.
CALLING ALL WOMEN OF FAITH!! Are you a Woman of Faith? (Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim ~ ALL faiths) Pastors, ministers, lay persons share your ministries, programs and visions with our WSNM readers! Have your activities and events showcased here! Worship members, recommend a Woman-of-Faith to be ~~Spot-Lighted ~~ In this very special section of WSNM!
Email your information to the publisher at: firstname.lastname@example.org Or fax to: 410-522-5889 (Send by second Monday of each month for inclusion in an upcoming issue)
Dear Dr. Renée, My wife and I have been married for five years and we are pretty happy together. The only problem is that she becomes really cold towards me during sex and she sometimes wears clothes to bed to avoid me. I feel guilty asking what’s wrong but when I do, she says that everything is fine. What can I do to help my wife open-up again? Is there something that I'm not doing right? Please help. - Prudish Confusion
Hello Prudish, The only thing that is ever missing from any relationship is what we aren't giving. You are only responsible for your half of the relationship so if you want romance, bring the romance. Bring more compassion and understanding to your relationship. Tell your wife what you want and give her time to come around. Buy a few books on how to be more intimate and read them together in bed at night. If the problem persists, insist that she seek professional care. Dr. Renée is wellness practitioner and the author of Pathways to Self Healing. She can be reached at 888 869-8881. Submit your lifestyle questions to: Advice@AskDrRenee.com
WomanWords... “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
The Healing Place A Painful Decision By Anne Louise-Burton, Staff Writer Domestic violence is all around us. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime (Tjaden, Patricia et al., 2000), and females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk for intimate partner violence (U.S. Department of Justice, 2006).2 Domestic violence is about domination and power. In 2005, 389,100 women and 78,180 men were victimized by an intimate partner. These crimes accounted for 9 percent of all violent crime. (Shannan M. Catalano, 2005).2 Domestic violence does not discriminate. Victims can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. Although both men and women can be abused, most victims are women.3 I am a survivor of domestic violence. My personal struggle in staying in a highly abusive marriage rests in my belief in God and the Bible. However, after attending a service at a church in Maryland, the Pastor happened to preach a sermon on marriage. I will never forget that moment because his message enticed those who were married to make the marriage exciting and to work diligently to have a dynamic and flourishing relationship. I felt great comfort in this Pastor’s ability to cite, with deep conviction, “that no woman should be abused and
if you are in an abusive marriage, by all means, leave”. I will never forget those words. And although I stayed in the abuse for all of the wrong reasons, I finally decided to make the leap of faith and leave my abuser. One night, while my little boy lay fast asleep in our bed, thankfully oblivious to the trauma being inflicted upon his mother, I called out for help. Upon calling the police, the officer simply said that since the crime was not witnessed, he could not force my abuser to leave the house. My question to him was, “When do I leave? On a gurney when I am dead?”At that moment, I made a life or death decision. I opted to leave while I was still alive. And while the memories of my tragic experience will likely stay with me for the rest of my life, it will in no way confound my future, cloud my judgment, affect my self-esteem or define who I am as a woman. If you are in danger, please call 911, your local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224. http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName= DocumentViewer&DocumentID=323472 http://www.domesticviolence.org/who-are-thevictims/ 3
September 2011 • WomanScope NewsMagazine
Women in Transit By Jenna Swartz, Staff Writer Today, more women travel domestically or abroad by themselves or with their girlfriends. Recession-driven low prices make it prime time to whet your feet and wander solo (one ticket is cheaper than two no matter the season). And while you might be entertaining the idea of travel, knowing where to begin your travel plans can be overwhelming. Luckily, many travel services are making it easy to pack
your bags and get away—unaccompanied or with friends. For beginners, try a city where friends or family reside before purchasing that ticket to Morocco. In “The 50 Best Girlfriend Getaways in North America” Marybeth Bounds writes, “today’s women travel as they live: they push themselves to try new things, visit new places, and spend money on themselves.” What makes for the best destination? Proximity to restaurants, attractions, other hotels, and the-
Paths to Sustainable Living By Lindsay Stroh, Staff Writer Among all life’s varied creatures, human beings are the only ones with the power to significantly damage the life systems that support our shared existence. Toxic chemicals in toys, plastics, household cleaners, pesticides, cosmetics are not only detrimental to human health—they also harm our wildlife and vegetation. We have the ability to heal this destruction through sustainable living, choosing lifestyles and public policies that reduce the use of our planet’s limited resources and respect our symbiotic relationship with the Earth’s ecology. What we do (or fail to do) today to protect the environment will affect the well being of our neighbors around the globe for generations to come. The first path to sustainable living involves altering our individual methods of energy consumption and the choices we make when shopping. In her book, Do One Green Thing, Mindy Pennybacker suggests affordable, everyday choices. Focusing on food and drink, healthy homes, personal care, apparel and transportation, the author pro-
vides simple suggestions and shopping tips. The science behind each suggestion is explained—why it is better for your health, the planet, and for social justice for farm communities and worker welfare. A good first step is to measure your own ecological footprint. Go to www.myfootprint.
atres is key. Look for areas that don’t require expensive cab rides or complicated public transportation. Quaint bed and breakfasts and hotels in safe neighborhoods with character are great options, and are generally more reasonably priced than big name resorts. The internet is a well-versed guide for trip planning. Travel agencies now recognize women as the powerhouse market they are, offering more single and girlfriend packages than ever. Finding the ideal retreat means knowing exactly what you’re looking for. The Women’s Travel Club offers diverse packages for spa weekends and island getaways, while Women Only Worldwide shepherds travelers through boutique hotels and unique, interactive agendas—picture visiting Mother Teresa's orphanages in Agra or learning the art of Kolam painting in Kumbakonam. If going it alone isn’t your style, join an organized tour tackling everything from gourmet cooking classes to rock climbing. Group tours offer the best of both worlds: the excitement of brand new faces with the security of traveling companions. Regardless of your destination, peruse JourneyWoman where you will find savvy secrets from welltraveled women on what to wear, how to eat alone, and the best way to respond to a local.
When exploring abroad, always research the language, dress code, transportation options, and government climate of your destination to ensure a safe journey. Single mom? Consider trips where two adults are not necessary and double occupancy rates are less problematic. Car trips, camping, theme parks, and even European destinations–where the hotels are priced by number of beds—are better single parent options than cruise or resort packages. Singleparent.net is a valuable travel resource for single parents, with tips on budgeting everyday expenses, traveling with infants, and vacationing “out of the box” with kids. Be aggressive when pricing hotels and car rentals. Investigate other major booking engines and quote lower rates from competitors for the best deal. Always ask about specials for automobile club members or Entertainment Guide holders. The trip you’re dreaming about is right around the corner. It will be researched and booked soon enough, but don’t forget the most important agenda item on the list: savoring it. Indulge in a change of scenery— with your friends, your children, or gloriously, just with yourself.
GREEN LIVING org and find out how your individual consumption and pollution compares with the Earth’s capacity to regenerate. In 1990, John Javna’s bestselling book, “50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth,” launched a green revolution. By the mid-90’s, the author became discouraged by the enormity of the problems, feeling that his book had lulled readers into believing that their individual energy-saving habits could address huge issues like water and air pollution and the squandering of natural resources. His children challenged his cynicism, and with their help, he released a completely new edition of the book along with
a website, www.50simplethings.com, that encourages people to partner with organizations that can effect lasting change. BEING HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR When singer-songwriter and environmentalist Margie Roswell brings her guitar to a Baltimore City Council meeting or the Maryland State House, you can be sure she will raise the consciousness of the people in power. Her songs do more than rhyme all the things we can recycle—they also suggest workable solutions. She proves that testifying to a committee doesn’t have to be boring! “In my songs about ecological issues and in my lifestyle, I follow a dual path.” Roswell explains. “I make individual life choices, and I partner with environmental advocacy groups that can gain the attention of the power brokers.” This, then, is the second path to sustainable living: learning how to influence environmental policies through grassroots action. Power plants, the mining industry, the factories that irresponsibly use our natural resources, all are being held accountable by advocacy groups. Eventually, even the most recalcitrant authorities will understand that responsible ecological choices are in their best interests. To make that happen, let’s work together in harmony, singing along with those who advocate for the Earth.
PEOPLE AND PLACES
MINORITY & WOMEN'S BUSINESS NETWORKING EVENT J U L Y,
B A LT I M O R E C O N V E N T I O N C E N T E R RACHEL LEA JOHNSON/PHOTOGRAPHY
Debbie of Debbie’s Cuisine Catering speaks with an employee of the Mayor’s oﬃce Valerie Stewart (L) of the Department of Housing and Community Development listens to the Mayor speak
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (L-R) Exchanging business cards Tiﬀany James Special Assistant/ Public Relations Manager of Parking of Baltimore City Authority, Kumasi Vines Special Assistant Economic and Neighborhood Development for Oﬃce of the Mayor, Allison Tran Owner EmbroidMe
(L-R) Rosalind Howard Manager of the Mayor’s Oﬃce of Employment Development, Natalia Luis Vice President of M. Luis Construction, Susan Tagliaferro Business Liason of the Mayor’s Oﬃce of Employment Development
(L-R) Dwauna Maura Dream Coach of The Visionary, Darlene Bharath Escalation Specialist of The Network
(L-R) Jeanette Glose Partlow President Maryland Chimcal Company, Wendy Meyeroﬀ Marketing/Web Wizard WM Marketing Communications
WomanScope NewsMagazine • September 2011
Tatyana McFadden The Wheelchair Workhorse By Ingrid Floyd, Staff Writer
McFadden trains hard to maintain her status as the number one female wheelchair sprinter in both the United States, and internationally, earning the nickname "The Beast" Tatyana McFadden, age 21, from Clarksville, Maryland, pounded down on her wheelchair. Her body sweated, her heart pumping. She held up her head and elbows focusing straight ahead. Every muscle in her body wanted to win the female wheelchair division of the 2010 New York marathon. She thought of nothing else, yet it was hard. She was cold. The wind whipped, but it did not stop her. McFadden won with a time of 02:02:22. McFadden is well known as the number one female wheelchair sprinter in the United States and internationally. When she was 15-years-old she was the youngest member of the USA track and field team at the 2004 Athens Paralympics and won silver in the 100m and bronze in the 200m. Since then the list of winnings has become long. In the 2008 Beijing Paralympics she won four medals: three silvers in the 200m, 400m and 800m and a bronze in the four times 100m relay. In June she was nominated for the ESPY Award (the Excellence in Sports Performing Yearly Award). Now McFadden tackles marathons, winning the female division of the 2009 Chicago Marathon, too. She said, “The marathon is the 400 meters 100 times,” the 400m being her favorite race. That is her spirit; Go after new ground with a positive perspective, attitude and passion. Her track and field teammates at the University of Illinois call her “The Beast” because of the pounds she can lift and her inner strength. McFadden lifts a maximum of 185 pounds, more than her weight. She needs the ability to climb the hills in a marathon and to build speed and endurance. Her marathon career does not interfere with sprinting because marathon season runs from September to December. Sprints happen after January. Some say her strength comes from training for races while others theorize McFadden’s childhood played a role in her competitive drive and strong muscles. McFadden for the first six years of her life grew up in an orphanage in Russia. Tatyana, continued on page 15
WNBA: 15 Years and Growing By Keith Henry, Staff Writer Time has passed quickly and naysayers didn’t give it five years; however, as we turn the corner into its 15th year anniversary, fans of The Women’s National Basketball Association certainly have something to cheer about. In the beginning, most of the men I spoke with and listened to on the radio didn’t give this league a fighting chance because they largely discounted the women far too prematurely. There were questions about a high enough percentage of fanfare to sustain a woman’s league and the players themselves were doubted. Debates ensued. And while any new league is sure to encounter hurtles, the WNBA met those challenges with stamina, determination and confidence. Says Connecticut Sun guard Kara Lawson, “You know, I think there is always going to be pessimistic people surrounding something, especially when it is new. We have people around the country that support our league and our players and we are just trying to build on that. It will take time. These other leagues have been around for more than fifty years; we are still in our infancy.” For the ladies of the WNBA being a team player serves not only as in inspiration to themselves, but also to young girls who hold their own dreams of stardom. Indiana Fever guard Tamika Catchings thinks it’s amazing and a dream come true. “My goal as a little girl was to play in the NBA, so when the WNBA came about it was an opportunity.” Lin Dunn, Indiana Fever’s fourth head coach in the team’s history and a success story in her own right, is “honored to be part of the WNBA. I have so much respect for this league, its growth and what it has done. It’s
only fifteen years old. Someday, I will be looking down when it is seventy-five years old and I’ll be able to say, I was a part of that.” The success of the WNBA has not come unscathed though. Back in 2008 when one of the WNBA’s original franchise teams, The Comets announced that they were bowing out of the league “indefinitely” many worried that in a time when a young league should be flourishing and expanding, the WNBA was losing momentum and possibly fans’ interest. The WNBA’s low scoring games coupled with less than stellar economic conditions and the NBA losing too much money invested sent up red flags. But failure was not an option for those whose blood, sweat and tears were intricately woven in the WNBA’s foundation. “I can just think about my first couple years in the league versus now” says Sue Bird, Seattle Storm’s guard. “It’s tougher and the game itself is better. I think when you have a product that continues to get better, the longevity is kind of endless and all that other stuff will come. We’ve had teams fold and move. It’s just about finding what works. It’s a work in progress.” Only time will tell the fate of the WNBA, but for now this league is holding steady. Veterans continue to shine and teach upcoming hopefuls, marketing endeavors are on the rise and dedicated fans continue to fight for this franchise. Adds Dunn, “for 15 years I have had the privilege of watching some of the best players lace up their boots and play in the league.” So have we Ms. Dunn.
ESPN/PHOTO The Washington Mystics face off against the Chicago Sky, both teams are in the Eastern Conference of the WNBA
September 2011 • WomanScope NewsMagazine
OFF the SHELF
The Help By Kathryn Stockett Reviewed by Medallio Green, Staff Writer Whenever I listened to my grandmother’s stories of her growing up in southern South Carolina in the early 1940s she would rattle off racial comments while she picked cotton for Caucasian families. The remarks were biased and something you’d find in fiction novels of today. Feelings of how African Americans felt during those times never seemed to be a major opinion in our history books. I always assumed she was over exaggerating and remembering a time that was forever going to be in the past. After reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I have come to realize that the feelings of yesterday are still raw to anyone growing up during those times. The Help takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in the 60’s where a large number of African American women were maids to Caucasian families; raising their children and cooking their meals, all the while enduring the day-to-day challenges of their own lives. My grandmother and my grandfather lived similar lives to these maids: they were unable to advance in education because they
Tatyana, continued from page 14 She was born in St. Petersburg with spina bifida, a condition of an underdeveloped spinal cord causing her to be paralyzed below the waist with a hole in her spine. It is rarely life threatening if surgeons operate right away, but McFadden did not receive surgery for 21 days. Only her inner strength kept her alive. The orphanage had no wheelchairs. McFadden scooted around on her hands dragging her atrophied legs behind her. The director saw her immediately as a fighter in a poor orphanage with dismal conditions. In 1994 Deborah McFadden, the Commissioner of Disabilities for the United States Health Department, visited and immediately her soon-to-be adoptive daughter and she felt a bond. In fact Tatyana told the director that Ms. McFadden was her mother even though at the time this was not the case. Tatyana followed around Ms. McFadden. Soon the two left for America. McFadden was grossly underweight and anemic. Doctors felt she would only live a short time, but McFadden recovered and participated in sports. She learned to swim and joined the Bennett Blazers, a Baltimore, Maryland, adaptive athletics program for youth 18 and under. McFadden loved sports and tried any she could do, but wheelchair racing was her choice. At age 15 she amazed the world with
had to earn money to support their families; they needed to help raise their younger brothers and sisters, and ultimately go on to having babies of their own. Another similarity is that they had to fight racial violence half their lives just to make the world a better place for generations to come. My grandparents lived through the most pivotal moments in our history and I never knew how
her victories at the Athens Paralympics, but while Para-teams opened their doors to her, windows of non-disabled teams closed. When McFadden first entered Atholton High School in Howard County, she was promised endless opportunities in school activities. Instead the school track team did not give her a uniform and had meets stopped to have her race alone. It hurt McFadden. She knew her times would be different than those with legs, but she still just wanted a chance to race along side of her teammates, not against them. Her mother remembers one time at a regional competition out of the county when McFadden joined the others in a mixed heat for the 400m. She did not know she was not on the roster. The confused official sounded the gun. Off went McFadden with the others. Ms. McFadden sat on the bleachers listening to men near her talking about her daughter. “Look at those guns,” they said. McFadden was at first behind, but at the 200m mark she was catching up. Ms. McFadden said, “At 300m the fans were stomping and cheering for Tatyana. It was exciting. At 400m Tatyana wheeled ahead and won. Everyone later came up to Tatyana and congratulated her.” Ms. McFadden explained that hypothetically if wheelchair competitors and those with legs did go against each other, the 400m race would be the most equal and exciting race for them because the two would be neck and
they felt until this novel. With the sit-ins, the marches, the boycotts, and the riots we lose ourselves in what the African Americans accomplished for us. I believe the most astonishing aspect to the history of civil rights is that Caucasians risked their lives as well. I was completely taken aback while I read the point of view of Skeeter in The Help. Stockett put pen to paper and slowly drew out how this Caucasian woman decided that she wanted to make a difference using the talent she wanted to excel in-- writing. Not only did Stockett have Skeeter making a difference by writing a novel full of “colored” women’s stories, Stockett noted the others who were there at the civil rights stands as well. My father told me that his mother worked for a Jewish man at his vegetable factory in New York from the forties to the day she couldn’t stand any longer. He asked her why she cracked her back every day working for that man, standing for eleven hours every day for minimum wage. She told him that that man paid her rent, gave her money for clothes for herself and her 6 children, and he made sure she never had to want for anything because she practically raised his children. After his death and her retirement, he made sure that his son kept her comfortable.
These are the stories that are kept from us while we’re learning the ways of the past in our history books. We’re paying so much attention to the issues of today and we’re forgetting that the issues of yesterday weren’t that long ago. The Help reminds me of the reasons why I am able to freely write my opinions and live in a house in a good neighborhood. The novel reminds me that fifty plus years ago my grandmothers and grandfathers weren’t able to sit at the lunch counter without having mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, and other condiments thrown at them. Fifty plus years ago Caucasians were beaten because they decided they didn’t want to go along with the tradition their ancestors instilled in them. The Help brings tribute to its readers and helps them remember that there can be a happy ending.
neck; otherwise, any meters less, legs would win, anything more, wheelchairs would win. The event made McFadden want to race along her teammates more than ever because she did not want to race alone. She would have raced other wheelchair competitors had they come forward, but they were not allowed on their high school teams. She and her family sued the state of Maryland for equal access to school athletics for people with disabilities. The lawsuit lasted one year and then was implemented four years later. They won after the judge for the case was appalled at the blatant discrimination of the school. “Immediately coaches began recruiting wheelchair sprinters”, Ms. McFadden said, “People get it now.” A year later with McFadden’s petitioning and lobbying, the Maryland legislature in 2008 passed the Fitness and Athletic Equity for Students with Disabilities Act, the first law in the country to encourage students with disabilities to be part of the schools’ sports programs. McFadden said that 11 states now have the law and Ms. McFadden said, “Many people now call it Tatyana’s law.” In 2008 McFadden received the Advocates for Disability Award. “Sports are my passion. Paving access for others is my purpose,” she said. She also teaches others about wheelchair sports. McFadden wants to race in the London and Rio de Janeiro Paralympics. She had a
scare in 2007 before the Beijing Olympics when blood clots in both legs traveled up to her stomach and threatened her life. Her fitness saved her life. McFadden is a survivor. In April 2011 she visited the orphanage. The director and staff hugged her. McFadden thanked them for their share in her victories. Just like a champion, she gave them her New York marathon medal.
Smart women read
Never one to let her disability get her down, Tatyana wants to inspire others to reach for their own goals
WomanScope NewsMagazine • September 2011
Time for U.S. Senate to Act on U.N. Women's Treaty By Linda Tarr-Whelan, WeNews commentator
Editor's Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women's eNews. (WOMENSENEWS)--Today is an important 30th anniversary for women's rights. On Dec. 18, 1979, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW, making it a watershed day for women around the globe. This international agreement was Eleanor Roosevelt's dream and is one of the pillars of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The global community went on the record to challenge every government to protect the human rights of women and girls by working together. In those heady days, I was deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter for women's concerns. We expected speedy action after
he sent the treaty to the Senate. That wasn't what happened. CEDAW--the only international instrument that comprehensively addresses women's rights within political, civil, cultural, economic and social life--is still unfinished business here in the United States, but not in the rest of the world. As a former ambassador in the late 1990s, I was often challenged on the United States' failure to act. We rightly see ourselves as champions of human rights, but for a generation we've neglected to become full partners in the global movement for gender equality. Accountability is why the treaty makes a difference. It provides activists with a set of agreedupon benchmarks to use when they press for
change and monitor their governments.
Helping Activists Win In Ukraine, Nepal, Thailand and the Philippines pressure on their governments to live up to the treaty provided the backbone for laws to curb sexual trafficking. India developed national guidelines on workplace sexual assault. Nicaragua, Jordan, Egypt and Guinea have seen increases in literacy rates. San Francisco, the only U.S. jurisdiction to adopt CEDAW as part of its local legal code, now has more streetlights to decrease sexual assault and newly gender-balanced boards and commissions. It's time to get our house in order, because CEDAW isn't just for far-away women. It also matters to women here. Adopting the women's treaty would provide a spotlight on progress, a self-assessment tool and the incentive to do better. Eightythree countries have proportionally more women in Congress than we do. The gender wage gap saps the family purse. Paid family leave, standard practice in the rest of the industrialized world, remains out of reach. With CEDAW in place, U.S. women's rights champions could face our government with a new level of accountability.
Virtually every other country has joined this global cooperative effort. Activists and governments on every continent use this universal women's treaty to advance and empower women. The United States, however, stands shoulder to shoulder with the only outliers who have not ratified CEDAW--Sudan, Iran, Somalia and a few small island nations. Internationally, although we "talk the talk" and sometimes "walk the walk," our absence as partners on gender equality shortchanges women. Our forceful voices and strong support are needed by women whose rights are routinely trampled in far corners of the world. America's clout matters to women struggling for basics like owning property or going to school, or where girls are trafficked or face rank discrimination every day.
WomanWords... “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less” ~Susan B. Anthony
September 2011 • WomanScope NewsMagazine
Update on Afghan Women By Adi Elbaz, Staff Writer A Thomson Reuters survey released in June 2011 has named Afghanistan the worst place on earth to be born a woman. The survey, which uses yardsticks like sexual violence, lack of resources, and health threats, reported that the staggering maternal mortality rate (an Afghan woman dies in childbirth every thirty minutes), total lack of economic freedom, and 87% illiteracy among Afghanistan’s women undermine the so-called “progress” the nation’s women have seen in the ten years since the Taliban’s ousting. Afghanistan’s women have been waiting— and fighting—for a long time for the reformation that would bring them their freedom. Long before the Taliban, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) sought to emancipate women from the illiteracy, poverty, arranged marriages, and damning cultural traditions of its tribal rulers. While the Soviets and Americans battled it out in Afghanistan, American-backed Wahabi fundamentalists stormed in, killing tribal leaders and leaving the country’s entrenched systems of tribal governance in chaos. The Western armies’ departure left a vacuum for extremist Muslim clerics and commandoes to institute ever more repressive conditions for Afghanistan’s women; when the Taliban conquered Kabul, the nation’s capital, in 1996, Afghanistan’s culturally-mandated misogyny became the stuff of nightmares. The Islamist militia demanded that private residences paint their windows black to protect women from men’s prying eyes, and publicly beat to death women who mistakenly showed a hint of ankle or wrist under their burkas. Arranged marriages for girls as young as 12 became the norm, and women’s shelters were banned under suspicion of prostitution. When American Operation Enduring Freedom overthrew the regime in 2001, a harsh global spotlight pushed Afghani women to the forefront. Indeed, the years after the fall of the Taliban saw a dramatic improvement in women’s rights; the Afghan Constitution of 2004 codified these social strides into law when it guaranteed women’s equality (Article 22), women’s education (Articles 43 and 44), the right to health care (Article 52), and women’s representation in both houses of Parliament (Articles 83 and 84). In March 2005, Governor Habiba Sorabi became Afghanistan’s first-ever female provincial governor; as of July 2011, ten percent of the nation’s judiciary is female. The Afghan National Army, backed by the US military, hosts 300 female soldiers, 29 of whom have graduated from the prestigious and rigorous Officer Candidate School. Despite having only graduated a few hundred female cadets, the Afghani Police Academy plans to have trained 5,000 female police officers by 2015, who can frisk female criminals with impunity. And though many policewomen claim that their job elevates their lowly status in a tradition-bound society, others report an increase in harassment and threats. (The death toll for police officers in Afghanistan is three times as high as for Afghan Army soldiers.) Perhaps most hearten-
ing, the number of girls in school has risen from 5,000 under the Taliban to 2.4 million today. And yet: with a barely functioning central government led by President Hamid Karzai, an entrenched Taliban presence in the eastern provinces and parts of Pakistan, and foreign armies slated to come home as early as 2014, many claim that Afghanistan simply is not ready to implement the equitable laws it penned so hopefully in 2004. The weak Afghani government is seeking reconciliation talks with the Taliban in the wake of its 2006 revival; though the peace council promises women that “safeguards” exist to protect their rights, activists are less than hopeful. “If this conflict is not winnable…we need a political settlement,” says Orzala Nemat, who set up secret literacy classes for girls under the Taliban. It is difficult to imagine what kind of deal the Taliban will cut, particularly when RAWA decries the current, US-backed “moderate” leaders of Afghanistan as “brutal and misogynistic,” alleging that the gains made on paper in the past ten years are being undermined daily by the facts on the ground. In 2011, the average woman’s life expectancy is forty four, one in three women experience some form of abuse, and up to eighty percent of women are forced into teenage marriages, usually to settle a dispute. Certainly, the presence of Western armies does not necessarily indicate an improvement in women’s status: a senior American official was recently quoted as saying “Gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities…all those pet rocks in our rucksack were taking us down.” British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed, stressing “we are not there to build a perfect democracy, still less a model society…we are there to ensure that al-Qaeda can never again pose a threat to us from Afghan soil.” Though Western armies trumpeted the plight of Afghan women to drum up support for the post-9/11 war effort, “gender issues” have now taken a backseat to Western military considerations, with dire consequences. In 2010, the Afghani government reported that 28% of the nation’s women suffered from acute depression. (This statistic is much lower than the Physicians for Human Rights’ 1998 estimate of 97%, with a 42% rate of PTSD.) The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission registered 184 cases of self-immolation in 2008 (up from 106 in 2006), possibly prompted in part by The Ministry of Women’s Affairs plans to begin regulating the women’s shelters that are often a last resort for desperate women fleeing with their children. Islamic custody law favors the father, and a woman who flees her husband automatically loses her right to her children; without the safe haven of a shelter, many women will choose suicide over staying with abusive spouses. In 2009, the Afghan government attempted to pass the Shia Personal Status Law, a brutally repressive document that regulates marriage, divorce, inheritance, and even marital intimacy for the country’s Shia minority—in direct con-
tradiction of the country’s constitution, which forbids discrimination against women. The law was eventually amended and has not yet passed, thanks in part to the waves of outrage it sparked among Afghanistan’s women, who took to the streets in protest. As for the number of girls in school: statistics look better on paper than they do in real life, an Oxfam representative says. Of the 2.4 million girls in school, 1.9 million are in elementary school, indicating a steep dropout rate once the girls reach the sixth grade. Worse, in 2009, Afghani girls had an estimated truancy rate of 22%, for reasons as varied as poor infrastructure, tribal pressure, extreme poverty, ill health or arranged marriages. Twenty girls’ schools were destroyed between March and October of 2010, and at least 126 students and teachers were killed in the same period, with many more threatened by Taliban-written “night letters” that threaten to “cut off the heads of your children and set fire to you.” Though Afghanistan receives billions of dollars in foreign aid annually, much of the development funding has been funneled into projects that are doomed to fail—or worse, into corrupt officials’ coffers. (According to Transparency International's corruption perceptions index 2010 results, Afghanistan was ranked as the third most-corrupt country in the world, though the US government shares the blame, having “misplaced” some $56 billion in development funds.) As a result, infrastructure is shoddy, and the strict tribal customs of rural Afghanistan means public enthusiasm for girls’ schooling is waning. But women don’t need governmental edicts to be mistreated. The radio show Afghan Woman’s Hour, which commenced in 2005, recently interviewed a 24-year-old woman named Wazma, whose husband abandoned her and refused to allow her to see their baby daughter when she lost half her right leg to a rocket attack in 1998. Abuse of women in Afghanistan is systemic and ingrained; men are allowed, if not encouraged, to treat women as disposable once they have outlived their use. It is this universal devaluing of female life that leads some families to engage in a practice called “bacha posh,” in which Afghani families cross-dress their little girls as little boys. Reasons for this practice—which occurs at an unknown rate—are varied: some families need the money that a little boy can bring in, some seek to give their girls more opportunities, and some believe the practice will eventually lead to real sons. In fact, Azita Rafaat, who represents the Badghis Province in Afghanistan’s 298-member Parliament, was the “bacha posh” of her own family; today, her six-year-old daughter, Mehran, carries on the practice, which ends when the girl enters puberty, prompting a lifetime of social awk-
wardness and a return to a crippling lack of freedom. (One bacha posh girl interviewed stated emphatically “For always, I want to be a boy and a boy and a boy.”) Startling in a country that so rigidly defines gender roles, bacha posh evolved out of desperate necessity, a condition that sadly appears to be unrelenting for Afghan women in 2011.
China vows to guarantee women's participation in politics, stresses gender equality English.news.cn
BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- An official document released on Monday said that local governments above the county level should employ more women in leadership positions to ensure that the country's women are properly represented in political affairs. The Outline for the Development of Chinese Women (2011-2020) issued by the State Council, or China's cabinet, said that the central government will continue to boost women's participation in the management of state and social affairs, stressing that the number of female leaders should be gradually increased over the next decade. The document said that the government has set a target of enshrining the concept of gender equity into more laws over the next ten years. "At least 30 percent of the members of any given villagers' committee should be female, and at least 10 percent of the heads of villagers' committee should be women," the outline said. For members of urban neighborhood committees, the proportion of women should be around 50 percent, it said. The document promised to gradually increase the number of female officials in the leadership of China's central, provincial and city governments. The 30,000-word document outlined goals, policies and measures to ensure women's legitimate rights and interests regarding health care, education, employment, social security and participation in state affairs. The outline aims to ensure that women equally exercise their democratic rights in accordance with the law, participate in economic and social development and enjoy the fruits of national reform and development. The outline also vowed to eliminate gender discrimination in employment. "Women should account for at least 40 percent of the employed population," the outline said. It also stated that departments at various levels should create conditions of education and training programs for women to ensure that they account for 35 percent of senior professional and technical personnel over the next ten years.
WomanScope NewsMagazine • September 2011
An Open Invitation By Aileen Gabbey, Staff Writer
As the Director of the Maryland SPCA, it is an honor to write for WomanScope News Magazine. The focus of my columns will be based around animal issues, something many people care deeply about. Located in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore, the Maryland SPCA has been on the scene for over 140 years. Most recently, the Maryland SPCA opened a new building that is bright, welcoming, and comfortable for the thousands of animals who need our help every year. Thanks to the Gorn and Colvin families, the Maryland SPCA was able to begin a campaign that was completed with an official opening in late February of this year. The new Morton Gorn Center for Animal Adoption is a pleasant surprise for visitors to an animal shelter. Many people associate shelters with dark or gloomy spaces. Our new adoption center dispels that myth by featuring open spaces and lively colors. In fact, instead of feeling
sorry for the animals in our care, some have commented that they look too comfortable to leave. It is our goal to keep our animals in a wonderful atmosphere until they pick their new owners. I invite you to come and visit us and tour our newly completed building. Pictured here, Thelma and Louise are good examples of how the new space improves the animals’ well-being. These two sisters were abandoned and we were determined to keep them together. They were housed in one of our spacious new cat apartments. Pairs of cats have special cubbies to hide and sleep in (as Thelma and Louisa are in this picture), as well as cat trees to climb and lounge upon. For all you cat lovers, you know how much kitties like to sleep in cozy spots and perch up high to survey their space. The ex-
The Maryland SPCA has worked hard to find good homes for animals for over 140 years tra room really helped Thelma and Louise feel at ease while they awaited their forever home. I am happy to report that these two lovely cats were adopted together after several weeks in their apartment. The dogs are also happier with the improvements. New doors and sound absorbing panels have made the entire environment much better. Shaman, pictured here, was transported in from the city shelter, BARCS, as part of our alliance partnership to save animals’ lives in the community. Since Shaman was older and bigger than most, we knew it might take him a while
to find his forever home, so he stayed in a newly-widened dog kennel. There is no time limit for an animal’s stay at the Maryland SPCA, but, we still want them to be as comfortable as possible. We could tell Shaman loved the wide space! He has also been adopted into a loving forever home. Every day, we are seeing how much more at ease the animals are. The special attention to their needs has made a huge difference. There is nothing better, in my opinion, than a napping kitty or smiling dog. We, and the animals, are very happy with it! And we all look forward to your visit!
September 2011 • WomanScope NewsMagazine
7 Car-Care Tips for Women Posted by SheKnows Living Editors
early 9 out of 10 female motorists are at least somewhat involved in the decision-making process for their household's vehicle maintenance and repair, according to a study by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. However, how much do women truly know about what's under the hood of their vehicle--and the care it requires?
According to a recent survey by Jiffy Lube International, 35% of women wrongfully believe that balancing the weight of people in your car will help your tires last longer, and 28% erroneously thought using premium gas all the time makes your car run better. Ladies...! Time for a crash course on how to better take care of your automobile. Here are 7 carcare tips courtesy of Jiffy Lube.
Care-Care Checklist for Women
CREATE A PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST Have a car-care expert perform preventive maintenance services on a regular basis, such as topping off fluid levels, inspecting belts and hoses, checking tire pressure and the engine oil, and making sure all the lights work.
CHECK YOUR ENGINE AIR FILTER The engine air filter is like the vehicle’s lung. Refer to your owner’s manual to see when it should be swapped out to ensure your car is breathing clearly.
CHECK YOUR ENGINE OIL AND FILTER Engine oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. Check the oil level regularly and check your owner’s manual for when to change the oil and which grade to use.
KNOW HOW TO CHECK TIRE PRESSURE AND CHANGE A TIRE Having a flat tire is never fun, but learning how to change it yourself can save a lot of time. Ask a car care professional to show you how. Make sure your tires are filled to the proper tire pressure as well. You can find the proper tire pressure in the vehicle owner’s manual or on a decal in the door jamb or glove compartment. Be sure to check and fill the spare tire as well.
CONTROL YOUR GAS CONSUMPTION To help your gas mileage, be sure to observe the speed limit and ensure your tires are properly inflated. Removing the extra weight from your trunk or back seat can also help.
CLEAN AND REPLACE WORN WIPER BLADES Wiper blades should be swapped out about every six months. Check for cracks regularly, and clean dirty wiper blades with a wet paper towel.
STAY CALM IN AN EMERGENCY Make sure your vehicle emergency kit is restocked. If you don’t have one, create one with items such as bottled water, a flashlight, flares, duct tape, an extra cell phone, energy bars, a blanket, phone number for roadside assistance and a can of Fix-a-Flat. For more car-care tips visit: www.JiffyLube.com
WomanScope NewsMagazine • September 2011
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Artrageous: A Subtle Rebellion By Jenna Swartz, Staff Writer
Top: Art on display changes frequently Below: Owner, Lisa Butz, at her salon
ERIN CHANEY/PHOTO A great hairstyle is a lot like art; something to be admired. Just ask Lisa Butz, owner of Subtle Rebellion, a hair salon and art gallery in one. “It’s the best of both worlds,” Butz said. “My two creative passions have collided, right here in Abingdon,” Butz said with a chuckle. She added, “It is also a reflection of me… creative and business-driven, with a little bit of mischief added in.” This Bel Air- born gal grew up in the then ‘burbs of Rock Spring. “There was not too much to do then, and my best friend and I would spend time learning about art and styling. I always tried to be one step ahead of the norm.” And as you can see, she still is. Butz said that the concept of an art gallery and funky hair salon was an idea born out of creative need. “So much has changed in this area over the years and I felt that it was time to bring something fun, funky and in my opinion, needed to the area.” Butz added, “I longed for a space with an edge. Something that would go against the grain, be a little rebellious.” Hence, the cultivation of Subtle Rebellion. Today, the salon gallery offers a diverse collection, from handmade jewelry, pottery, sculptures, and paintings to Butz’s personal
favorite piece of art—a wall-mounted dress fashioned from sink strainers and copper wire. The piece is on loan from Donna Livingston-Smith and hangs above the shampoo area, an apt location to gaze up at the creation. Visitors to the space may be art lovers, style seekers, or both, which makes for a fun atmosphere that is constantly changing, similar to the changing art on the salon walls. Artists showcase their work on commission, and the exhibits are free to the public. Butz believes exposure to thought-provoking art in an amazing space helps her, and her fellow stylists, shine. The salon hosts private artists as well as community shows, displaying a range of talent levels. The exhibits often have themes, so that various parties can interpret them. Subtle Rebellion continues to learn more about local artists and community flavor, and they are interested in hosting more charity events in the future. The current exhibit, “Summer in the City” is filled with media inspired by the beloved season. A jury of employees decides what to display next on the salon walls. How has the community responded to an art gallery salon in the neighborhood? Many are shocked that such a visually interesting space is right at their finger tips. While Subtle Rebellion loves the wow factor, the ultimate goal is to make people feel good about themselves, and facilitate an appreciation of beauty inside, out, and around them. Butz explains, “Art really affects people when they see it…after they leave the salon, they have something to reflect on.” It’s that something to reflect on that’s making people return. Butz’s passion for art and expression is a lesson, especially for aspiring female entrepreneurs. “Do what you love and love what you do,” Butz said. Talk about a thing of beauty.
WomanWords... “If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” ~Maya Angelou
September 2011 â€˘ WomanScope NewsMagazine
Five Financial Fixes for Tough Times By Candace Bahr, CEA, CDFA and Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP When the stock market is unpredictable, it's hard to stay the course. Here are five things you can do to ride out the storm and stay on track.
WHEN THE SURF'S UP, RIDE THE WAVES Dramatic fluctuations in the stock market allow you to "buy the dips". With stock prices so volatile, prices may be down next payday when you contribute to your 401(k) plan. This means that you'll be getting more shares for your money. Let's say that you contribute $500 into a stock fund in your 401(k) each month. If the market is down on payday, shout "Hooray!"-you'll get more shares for your money than if the market were up in the clouds. It's like going shopping and finding that everything you like is on sale. BUY HIGH, SELL LOW We have a natural psychological tendency to want to invest in the winners. In reality, economic cycles show that you
should take the opposite tack. If bonds and real estate have already gone up, and stocks have gone down, maybe it's time to buck that trend. Will real estate go higher? Possibly, but it's unlikely you'll see a strong surge similar to what we've experienced over the past few years. So real estate will probably level off, and stocks are poised for recovery. For the long-term, stocks may be a better long-term investment right now. DON'T RUN FOR SHELTER Hunkering down is a good idea when a tornado or hurricane is approaching, but it's bad advice for a long-term investor. If you sell, you may miss the party later. Stocks tend to go up rapidly at the beginning of a market recovery. So, generally it's more important to be in the bull market from the beginning than it is to avoid the bear markets. For example, for the 10 years 1992 to 2001, the S & P 500 returned 175%. But if you were on the sidelines and missed the five best days out of that ten-year period,
your returns would have been 117%-- a difference of 58%! And if you missed the 10 best days during those 10 years, your return would have dropped to 79%. STASH CASH You don't want to be cash poor and have to sell assets when they're down to fund your needs. A bear market rarely lasts more than three years, so keeping three years of liquid funds is wise. If you need cash to supplement your income, buy a house or send a child to college in a year or two or three, stay in liquid money market accounts or CDs. To pay for short-term needs, you should be more concerned with return of your money than return on your money.
STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN Stop worrying, look at where you are now, and listen to the advice of a trusted financial advisor. Coming up with a sound financial plan is just the thing to get you on track and moving toward the future when you feel you've lost your way.
ACCOUNT EXECS! Looking for a great career opportunity? Contact WomanScope NewsMagazine at email@example.com
WomanScope NewsMagazine • September 2011
On Her Mind:
Swiddening By Emma Matthews, Staff Writer
I could feel the vibrations of the drums in the air as we walked up the path towards the celebration. Sunset was nearing and my kids ran off to play as soon as they saw the others in the yard. I sat down to join the drummers in their circle straight away. The beat was fast and eclectic; so many hands pounding, it felt like a hundred different voices moving through my body all at once; tap tap tap… boom… rapatat, rapatat tit tit rapatat… boom, bababa… boom, bababa… shhhshhhshhshh… Dancing and singing inevitably ensued. Falling for the rhythm and the oneness of the moment, I swayed with the beat and struck the skin of the drum-head melodically along. For a moment, it was everyone’s song. After the drum circle, the kids came up and each family was instructed to sit down in front of a small copper bowl. They taught us a mantra to recite. We smeared cow dung with some opaque white substance and then set them in a triangle. Then we lit the triad on fire. At the sound of the last phrase of the
incantation we threw special rice into the fire and then meditated quietly over our offering. It was a transcendent experience. This was a summer solstice celebration that I was invited to involving Vedic Agnihorta (the part with the fire). As a visitor, I was humbled at the graciousness with which I was received and was surprised to learn that these fires, Agnihorta, have been lit at sunrise and sunset around the world for centuries and are said to have healing properties. THE HILL TRIBES OF THAILAND Swiddening is a process where a plot of land is cleared by cutting down the trees (which are usually used for timber) and then burning the remaining vegetation. The ash that results is rich in nutrients and a variety of plants are usually cultivated there. The practice is an age-old subsistence farming method called shifting cultivation. The plot of land in question must be abandoned after only a few harvests for many years in order to recover, but during the fallow periods, small trees and some-
times berry bushes are planted there to help the soil recover. This process has been used successfully for generations by the hill tribes of Thailand. Done carefully, it can be very beneficial in creating biodiversity that reflects the needs of the human inhabitants that use it. Not done carefully, it can ruin a plot of land for generations. In the 1960’s, the Thai government, in an effort to weed out opium production, create a presence in an area that they believed to be sensitive to communists insurgents, and generally to support its own economic expansion, started encouraging poor farmers to go up into the hillsides and begin using this process of swiddening to grow cash-crops. Roads were built into the hills where previously none had been. Paddy fields were carved out of the forest by these inexperienced farmers to be used for rice production. They began importing things into the hills for use and exporting their crops. Banks and other organizations were set up to encourage this government development and capitalist expansionary effort. The results for the highlands of Thailand: much of the land was ruined. Fires were not properly controlled and many more acres of land were destroyed than needed. Plots were set-up adjacent to each other and soil erosion (on the mountainous areas) ensued creating mudslides and ruining the landscape. The farms quickly became unsustainable and even destructive. The Thai government still blames the hill tribes for this catastrophe. COMING BACK TO EARTH In 2008, Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, wrote in a ‘comprehensive framework for action’ (PDF) by the UN High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security Crisis: “What we are facing today is an unprecedented challenge. In part, it is a humanitarian emergency, that demands urgent food and food-related assistance for the world’s poor and vulnerable. But soaring food prices are also emblematic of a larger structural crisis that will have an even worse impact on the world’s food supply if immediate measures are not taken to stabilize global food markets, and to increase investment in agriculture in a sustained way. Global demand for food will only grow in the future and we must be prepared for that.” And according to the latest scientific knowledge, we now face a world where our capacity for production (using our current, most common and wide-spread agro-industrial methods) is far exceeding the earth’s ability to sustain that production. At our current rate, we would need 1.5 earths to sustain ourselves. Maybe I should add that food prices around the world have hit record levels in the last several years. America’s at-home long-term solutions to food price inflation due to possible short-
Swiddening has been used for centuries as a way of adding nutrients into the ground for future crops ages have usually been lead by government subsidy programs. It is widely argued that subsidizing agriculture has been used to further the industrialization and capitalization of our agricultural practices and resources, in the United States and around the world. Since the beginnings of America’s industrial revolution, we have moved relatively swiftly from family run farms to corporate globalized cash-crop production and trade. This has decreased the diversity of our resources, (therefore putting the quality of our food supply and soil at risk) and created a large population of people in need, yet we continue relentlessly forward in our quest for the capitalization of our resources? As the numbers of indigenous people and their practices have been nearly wiped out of most every country, under the pretext of industrial expansion and cultural inclusion, so have their sustainable practices. How do we regain such indispensible public knowledge and put it to constructive use? How do we continue to develop the knowledge that we already know works and adapt it to the changing situations that we face? Many of the problems we face today are a result of rapidly expanding global populations that do not always understand each other’s ways and motives. The conflicts that result are when old practices and new ideas meet; details need to be sifted through, priorities need to be reassessed, and values and motives reviewed. If we clamor heedlessly ahead with our eyes closed surfing on vague idealist notions, we might miss the minor details that really matter. We need to keep our ear to the ground and listen to the vibrations of change for clues as to how to move forward, carefully and deliberately; respecting the needs and concerns of those around us and the concern for us all as a whole.
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