152nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project
Big Changes Start with Little People
The price we pay for our free will is a blank slate. Unlike other animals that come with programmed instincts, each of us must start our journey on this planet knowing little more than how to suckle. And interestingly enough, just a few years later, we still have to be taught how to use a straw.
The blank slate or tabula rasa (for those with a high school Latin background) is a good thing especially when times are bad like now. Every day there are so many things challenging our stability we often wish for the “good old days” when the world was still a mess but we never heard about it. The internet, cell phones and instant communications are bringing all those negative images and thoughts right into our living rooms, our cars, our walks in the park and unfortunately, into our kids rooms, too. Nearly everyone is constantly connected to the good and the bad on this planet.
Since bad has few or no rules to encumber it’s progress and often looks like more fun than walking the line, a kind of chaos creep follows us around as we just go about out daily lives.
However, that blank slate we are all born with is really our one chance to evolve into a world that thrives on kindness. It all starts with the birth of a child and the parents’ resolve to only teach their offspring two things, tolerance and understanding.
Just the other day, Ari Kaplan, a best selling author and attorney in New York City, who has become a One Can A Week coordinator in his New Jersey neighborhood, sent me an email describing how he is helping his 6-year-old daughter learn to help others.
“Peter - just wanted to give you an update. We completed week four on Sunday and made our first delivery to the NJ Food Bank last week - 31 cans. We now have 12 homes participating.
“The best part is that I invited my 6-year-old daughter to join me in this endeavor. The first thing she did on her own was grab a pad and pencil to take inventory. At each house, she reads the can and writes down what it is -- then she signs her name on the 'one-can' (Thank You) note you provide on your website and we continue on. We walk and talk - it is a wonderful experience for us both. She is so excited when there is a can waiting (as am I) and was very proud to donate the bags of food that she personally collected. In fact, she often lets me know how much of the work she does -- cutting the notes, writing her name, leaving the notes, writing down the contents, etc. :) “
And that is my point exactly. Ari is doing his part to fill up his daughter’s blank slate with ideas that will make this a better world to live in, smartphones or not.
With the advent of cell phones, tablets and social media, the prospect of standing in line to vote every two or four years seems so disconnected and antiquated.
Stay-At-Home Community Activism
Four weeks into our One Can A Week program, I met Luis Gutierrez, the former City Manager on 13th Street who said he would participate because he felt the program showed respect. I came to his home to get his help. He liked that personal approach and the fact that he didn't have to get really involved in a time-consuming activity to help his community.
Seems Richard Fimbres, our Ward 5 Councilman has learned the same lesson with his vote-by-mail program. In his monthly email to his Ward 5 constituents, Councilman Fimbres wrote:
“This was the first election conducted solely through an all vote-by-mail process.
“My office brought this proposal to the Mayor and Council for consideration. In April of this year, the Mayor and Council discussed a proposal to change the hybrid system (voting by mail and polling place) of casting ballots in a city election to an all-mail ballot process. During these discussions, one of the points that I brought up was to have more people participate in the process by casting their votes.
“In addition, the potential question of reducing costs, in these hard economic times, through less poll workers, renting of voting equipment and locations, were other factors on why this proposal was brought forward. This proposal was approved by a 5 to 2 vote.
“This election showed that an all vote-by-mail process is a good start to get more people active, involved and casting their votes, and speaks for this system to continue to be used for future City elections.”
The numbers say it all. The average increase in voter participation was 18.35%. Amazing!
The next time you see Councilman Fimbres thank him for encouraging the Mayor and Town Council to help more folks to vote and to express themselves in their community.
Fruits Are Gaining Ground
Tis’ the season for harvesting fruit and it appears more and more folks are making it their business to donate as much as they can. Seventy-six pounds of grapefruits and bananas helped us cross the 200 lb. mark this week.
We collected a total of 230 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.00, a $25.00 check and $8.00 in cash.