Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Responing to Uncertainity

So I have been having many conversations with different folks in my generation that are really unsure with what the future holds for them, I being one of them realize that many of us who are just graduating college, getting out of volunteer corp programs and whatnot face the daunting task of trying to figure out where we stand amongst the world of opportunities that are available to young people.

It seems that were supposed to have everything figured out when we graduate from college or soon there after, have a plan to attend a masters degree program or whatnot. Maybe get a job doing something that we hate, where do we fit in? With tons of money in college debt many of us our constrained to finding something that will allow us to alleviate that or defer it.

I am writing this to assure all of us who feel crippled by the multitude of choice that is available at this time in our lives. My mom, in a letter wrote that she want you to make sound decisions so that my life would be easier than hers, that she and my dad made mistakes and could have made their lives easier. But is that the real goal, is a life that is easy neccessairly the way in which we want to go? In life it seems like there must be some sort of struggle in order to survive. Last Sunday, my pastor told the story of a botanist who was studying the emperor butterfly attempt to escape from its cocoon to transform. Realizing the butterfly's struggle, the botanist assisted the butterfly by taking a scalpel and cutting open the cocoon. The butterfly opened its wings for the first time and immediately feel dead, apparently through the struggle of opening the cocoon produces the juices needed for a butterfly to survive.

I think a lot of things in life are like that, we learn through the struggle and without the struggle we never learn. Is there a right or a wrong path, who knows? Will the decisions that we make now ultimately affect the rest of our lives... yeah maybe... to some extent... but a path toward meaning does not come through an established path. If anything, it comes through a creative one.

So we must ask ourselves, which is the path that we are looking for? The easy one or the other one? Maybe a mix of both, maybe a little of each one... but in the end know that we will be okay and survive this time of liminality, that we will find meaning and it will be great!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good music you should know about

A couple of nights ago, Elizabeth and I went to go and see one of the most amazing shows that I have ever seen. Many of you who are probably really into music probably have already taken the Pabst Theatre for granted, but its got a beautiful light and Ora about the whole place. It seems that when the music starts, and the effects get going with the music that you could be at the gates of heaven in a celestial bliss.

Although, I have never written or read too much about music and would definitely not consider myself to be a proficient, you should still check these folks out.

We went to go see Jose Gonzalez and Mia Doi Todd on Tuesday. Together, they made one of the best shows ever. If your into very earthy folksy guitar picking music with beautiful ambient vocals this just might be your thing. Jose Gonzalez has always been one of my top picks and despite his name, he is actually from Sweden. With a classical guitar and very well thought out vocals it was definitely an amazing show.

The best kept ssecret of the whole thing however was a not as well known lady by the name of Mia Doi Todd who has been producing albums for about 10 years now. She began the show with this really amazing song called River of Life- the song, which was played with a foot organ, guitar and bongo drum sent my senses through bliss. I don't know if you ever had the feeling of so much emotion emulating from something that your body reacts and your cheeks begin to tingle, but that's what happened. Her new album Gea is amazing and if you get the chance to check her out make sure that you do. Her website is

If you really like these artists with a very organic, folksy feel, you may also want to check out these guys to:

Sun Kil Moon: soft and poetic, post industrial sounding-

Alexi Murdoch- my all time favorite

Laura Viers- beautiful- very down to earth

The Wailing Jenny's- women's folk band out of Winnipeg, Manitoba

Happy Music Listening!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Milwaukee's Movement for Social Change

I just thought that I would take some time to reflect on the movement towards social justice in the city of Milwaukee. One thing that is nice about the movement here in this city is because of its size, it is very easy to figure out the movers and shakers relatively quickly.

There are so many things going on that we have to be excited about in this city. Being the optimist that I am the movement has gotten tons of neat stuff going on, from voter registration drives, solid coordination amongst labor unions, rock shows featuring big artists centered around uniting the city for good jobs and opposition to immigrant raids, active student organizations at Marquette that say no to sweatshop labor, challenges to law that don't allow felons to vote, a Paid Sick Leave referendum that will give all workers in Milwaukee Paid sick time, an active sanctuary movement, a momentous presence against the war, a real attempt to bridge divides in racial disparity through free markets by students at UWM, to a hundred different union organizing campaigns, clergy mobilization by MICAH, Interfaith Conference and FCWJ. Things are happening right now and its good to be apart of it all.

Some good organizations that are apart of this that you should know about include some of the following.

9to5-Working Women's Association
Voces de la frontera-Immigrant Worker Rights Center
Students for a Democratic Society- Student anti-war group (UWM)
Progressive Students of Milwaukee-Student anti-war group (UWM)
The United Left- Leftists uniting!
Food Not Bombs- Radical food for the poor group
Milwaukee Free School- offering free classes for community
Arab Anti-discrimination committee- anti discriminatory group
LGBT Center- focused on issues facing the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and transgender community
Peace Action- City Wide Anti War Group
ACLU- Legal Action
AFT Local 212- Anti War Union
Veterans for Peace- War Veterans United for Peace
WISCOSH- Protecting and enhancing workplace safety standards
Justice 2000-Drivers License justice
Good Jobs Livable Communities- direct action focused around good jobs
New Hope- Program to help to ex-felons
Milwaukee Junior Cycling- Bicycle racing for underprivileged kids
Faith Community for Worker Justice- Workers issues from faith context
Lutheran Human Relations Association- focused around human right issues
Human Rights Coalition-pushing for human rights committee in city
American Jewish Committee-Looking at social justice from a Jewish perspective
Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council- Fair housing in the city
US Labor Against the War- Organized labor opposing the war
Milwaukee Area Labor Council- Central Labor Council for Milwaukee
Milwaukee Network for Social Change- Free Vans and Free Market promoting free culture
Peace and Justice Studies at Marquette- educational aspect around peace issues
Marquette Campus Ministry-promoting justice issues from religious stance
Catholics for Peace and Justice- Catholics working for a better world
MICAH- Milwaukee Inner City Congregations involved in making a difference
Interfaith Conference-Uniting people of faith around social justice
S.U.F.U.R-Students for Immigrant Rights
Milwaukee Fair Trade Council: united around Fair Trade issues in Milwaukee
Milwaukee Bicycle Co-op- bicycles for everybody
Milwaukee Housing Trust Fund: Affordable housing for people in poverty
ACORN- Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
Running Rebels- Inner City High School Students united around change
Urban Underground-United around justice in the streets
Citizen Action, WI- focusing on racial disparities in the city
Campaign Against Violence- working to make the streets of Milwaukee a better place to live
WISPIRG- Wisconsin's Public Interest Research Group
People's Book Co-op- radical educational bookstore
Cream City Collective- radical book store in riverwest
4th Street Forum- educational seminar informing people of Milwaukee about community issues
Urban Ecology Center- raising environmental awareness in the city
Broad Vocabulary-radical feminist bookstore in Bay View
Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin- supporting bicycle advocacy in the state

I apologize if I missed your group, there is so much good stuff going on it is sometimes hard to get it all down at once.

With all of this momentum and amount of organizations here in the city that are working toward positive social change, we all really have the opportunity and the obligation to get involved in our local communities.

Sometimes it seems arduous, I mean with all of these different groups here in the city working for change, it may seem like all of the bases are covered and their is nothing left to do. However, when we look at the state of our community when it comes to poverty, discrimination, environmental issues, and education, what we really see is that we are not winning as the people.

No matter what your political backing is, your beliefs are about the state of Milwaukee, there is something that we offer here that creates a better and brighter future here in the city that is working toward building a better Milwaukee.

Have some pride in your city and get involved! If any of these groups sound like they interest you, feel free to contact me and I'll put you in touch with the right people to get involved.

Together, even though we are fractured around our issues we make up the movement, the movement for change, the movement for optimism, and the movement for a better world! When we all do our part to get involved, we are doing our part "to be the change that we wish to see in the world"