“Love Thy Neighbor”

April 27, 2014

8 Mile Wall in Detroit, MI.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Last weekend was the Easter weekend, and no, this is not a post about religion as such.  The sentiment expressed in the above mural is, however, a virtue expressed in many religions in one form or another.  In this particular context, that statement is quite poignant indeed.

8 Mile Wall in Detroit, MI.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In 1934, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created and later came to be utilized to assist GIs returning from World War II with the purchase of a house-this program was the model for housing loans that is still in use today.  Written into the FHA code was a set of standards for determining which neighborhoods would be eligible and which would not.  Please be sure to read this link as it provides a concise history of the development and implementation of this program.  It is important to understand the degree of systemic racism that was built into the process, which came to be known as “red-lining”.  Walls were literally built to provide a point of demarcation to separate the red-lined neighborhoods from those determined to be more acceptable and thus supported by the program.

8 Mile Wall in Detroit, MI.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The photographs here are of 8 Mile Wall, and it is located in Detroit, Michigan.  It is also known locally as “The Wailing Wall”, and it now stands as a form of monument for remembrance of that era.

8 Mile Wall in Detroit, MI.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The wall is 6 feet high and 2 feet thick.

8 Mile Wall in Detroit, MI.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

One side of the wall contained the neighborhoods designated for whites (the “acceptable” neighborhoods) and the other side of wall was for people of colour (the “red-lined” neighborhoods).  Black GIs, who had also been relegated to serving in segregated units during WWII, were often denied loans when they returned home.  It is now illegal to openly, specifically, discriminate when it comes to housing.

8 Mile Wall in Detroit, MI.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

After all, how does one demonstrate care and concern and develop a sense of togetherness and community, if not love, for one’s neighbor when a literal wall has been constructed specifically as a means of separation?

Figuratively, such barriers remain and are reinforced in many ways in popular culture.  Just for a moment Star Wars fans, think about the clothes Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader wear.  Who is the “good” guy?

Take care.

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2014 Earth Week

April 24, 2014

Line of heavy storm clouds over a neighborhood house.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This past Tuesday (April 22nd) was officially Earth Day, which is designated to call attention to the impact humans are having on the planet.  This particular day ended with the first thunderstorm of 2014.

Piles of abandoned tires laying in the road.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The human impact on the planet was clearly evident last week while on an Alternative Spring Break trip in the city of Detroit, Michigan. This year we spent a week with Cass Community Services.  Please do take some time and review their website to learn about the history and the commitment this organization has to the community.  While there, we worked on a number of tasks, one of which was spending part of an afternoon picking up abandoned tires.  Apparently, unscrupulous tire dealers will accept the fees for tire recycling and then simply transport and dump them wherever convenient.  It is important to note that this is not unique to Detroit as I have seen piles of tires in Maryland as well, which was documented in a previous post.

Ripped tire that has been abandoned.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Unfortunately, I did not count the total number of tires left in this particular area.

A line of abandoned tires laying in the road.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

They did, however, appear to extend to forever.

A pile of abandoned tires.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

As it had snowed the day before, the water had to be drained from the tires before they were loaded into a truck and then taken back to the Cass Community Services campus.

Outside photograph of Cass Green Industries building.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Once there, the tires were unloaded at the Cass Green Industries warehouse…

 

Tire residue on floor after being cut into strips for matting.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

where they were cut into usable pieces…

Cass Community Services Mud Mats made from recycled tires.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

and transformed into Mud Mats by the Cass Green Industries employees. These mats are sold through the Cass Community Services online store.  Proceeds from the sales go toward sustaining other programs and services offered by Cass.

This is an organization truly worth supporting-both in terms of the kindness and care provided to the citizens of this part of Detroit, and also for their commitment to improving the condition of the planet.  It is difficult to imagine a better combination.

Take care.

Twilight

April 10, 2014

Black and white image of a maple tree at dusk.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

A quiet photograph for a quiet time of day.  The intricacy of nature is quite elegant at this time of year.

Take care.

Rwanda

April 7, 2014

It is now the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  Much will be said and written about this landmark, or perhaps not, but it is an important social, psychological, cultural, political, economic, and quite simply, unfortunately, human event. 

Paul Rusesabagina was recently interviewed on National Public Radio and it is worth listening to what he has to say about the genocide and history.  Here is a link to the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, which he started.

The New York Times this past weekend published “Portraits of Reconciliation” about the efforts made for individual perpetrators and victims to deal with their collective past.

National Public Radio aired this report about the role women are playing in Rwanda’s recovery.  Leadership is one of the issues Mr. Rusesabagina cites about the 1994 genocide, and that figures prominently in this report as well.

Finally, interestingly, National Public Radio also aired this interview with Sallie Krawcheck, in which she briefly discusses some of the differences between men and women with regard to dealing with negotiations and conflict.  This is a relatively small part of the interview, but it is important to note that much has been written about these differences with some reports citing a biological basis and others a cultural basis (the “nature vs. nurture” argument) as the fundamental rationale for the variance in behaviour.  As women continue to gain local, national and international prominence in political, social, and economic arenas, there will be more real-world evidence for researchers to study and the public to ponder. 

Throughout the history of genocide, men have been the main power brokers-will a women’s perspective change that dynamic as civilization moves forward?  (The validity of the second part of that statement may also be questioned, especially given recent world events.)  The role of leadership is certainly one of the main lessons the  world would do well to learn from Rwanda, as what happened then and there continues to play out in other countries today, as Mr. Rusesagabina points out.  

Leadership and power often dance together as one invariably comes with the other to some degree.  Would women be immune from Lord Acton’s famous phrase?  He, of course, was referring to men. 

We need to do more than remember Rwanda.

Take care.

The Clothesline Project

April 6, 2014

Clothesline Project T-Shirts seen from outside the building through a window.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The Clothesline Project is an organization that began in 1990 to bring awareness to, and make efforts to stop, violence against women.  This link is to their homepage and it is worth clicking on the “History” link once there to learn more about the formation and purpose of the group.

Clothesline Project T-Shirts hung from ceiling.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has cited statistics for intimate partner violence against men and reports that such violence against men is “overwhelmingly” committed in same-sex relationships.  It is important to read the “Why It Matters” information there because it explains the reasons for the under-reporting of males-as-victims of domestic violence.  Also included in the cited statistics is this one sourced from D.G. Saunders in 2002:

“Women committing lethal acts of violence against their male partners are 7-10 times more likely than men to act in self-defense.”

That quote would appear to mean that male aggression precipitated the subsequent lethal force employed by the female.

Yet another example is the amount of domestic violence that occurs in military families.  These effects are detailed in the “Army 2020:  Generating Health and Discipline in the Force Ahead of the Strategic Reset” report. Factors such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), other wounds suffered by combat personnel, as well the strain created by multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan have had exponential effects on family stability.  The U.S. Army recognizes the need to address and treat these issues.  This report states that referrals to the Family Advocacy Program for “…domestic violence increased  50% (4,827 to 7,228) while child abuse referrals increased 62% (3172 to 5,149) from FY2008-11.” (pg. 145)  That same section also indicates the role that alcohol use appears to have played in the rise of these cases.  The military has plans to provide services to reduce these numbers and assist those in need.

The totality of domestic violence discussed by these three sources is staggering.  Males are socialized within our culture to be strong and aggressive, and one needs only to look at popular culture.  (This is actually one of the reasons for the under-reporting of male-as-victim domestic violence:  being a male and being beaten does not fit the cultural expectation.)  Football, America’s favourite sport is, in part, so popular due to the level of violence required to play the game.  The National Football League has (finally) taken steps to reduce some of the more flagrantly violent hits due to concerns over the longer-term cognitive and behavioural consequences caused by concussions.  Ultimate Cage Fighting seems to be rising in popularity as well.  However, being subjected to verbal and/or physical abuse within an intimate relationship should not ever be part of the equation.

T-Shirts do raise awareness.  More, however, is required in order to deal with the level of poverty, drug use and abuse, mental illness, and other socio-cultural issues that are both associated with and resultant from domestic violence.  The sources linked in this post present recommendations and opportunities (in some cases) for individual, community, and governmental involvement.

Take care.