Critical Mass NYC Bike Ride Tonight

critical mass I am hoping for nice weather this evening, as I am planning to attend my first Critical Mass ride in Manhattan / NYC this evening. Sponsored (as much as these sort of things can be sponsored) by Time’s Up, it is an opportunity to reclaim the streets for bikes, people, and the joy of community (with a little social and environmental activism in there as well, it seems). We pay taxes, and as there are a lot more people in Manhattan who are not driving in cars, it seems we can enjoy the streets, too.

I know, bikes are always on the streets, freely riding to and fro. The difference? It is dangerous to ride on the streets along. Like so many things in New York, we celebrate the right to be alone and independent, though we often like to do that together. Ironic, but this is what we so love about NYC!

Like many informal groups, Critical Mass is a bit difficult to track down online. Wonder how many people attend these things?

times up Regardless, I am looking forward to attending my first event, as informal as it may be, from my new environmental group (which I joined, btw, and have a nifty new hat to show for it!), Time’s Up. What a cool logo they have.

I only wish I would know somebody, or have somebody to attend tonight’s Critical Mass ride with . . .

Perhaps I should rather hope it stops raining and clears up – I am still too new to bike riding to want (or be able) to do it in the rain!


The Time Has Come

Political Party Change

The Republican Party, my party, is no more. It has left me. Its focus on Guns, God, and Gays as exemplified in its looking back at a history we never really had, is opposite how I perceive the world. While I do not think the Democrats have everything completely in order (who does, after all?), they do seem a little more forward-thinking and progressive.

How better to meet the current and future challenges we all face?


Facebook’s Flip-Flop / Protest

So, facebook is back to its old and safe (really??) self. The NYTimes reports today that After Protests, Facebook Withdraws Changes in Data Use.

Facebook has changed before (remember their advertising model?), and with so many people using it, they will undoubtedly change again. As I asked yesterday, is Facebook really any different from the NSA, employers, the phone companies, etc.?

Perhaps better questions (just, perhaps)  is why did Facebook so quickly change because a bunch of people complained online, though other recent protests  did not stop the war in Iraq, the issues around VP Gore’s missed election, or even the bank bailouts that only seemed to promote publicly-support massive bonuses  for the same bankers who did not show any support for struggling individuals losing their homes?

Perhaps mob protests and their effects are fickle? Perhaps online protests work? Perhaps people care more about their social networks than NIMBY social, national, and economic problems?

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps . . .


Barack Obama, the Hope We Need Today

Let us wish the best for today’s inauguration and for the new US President elect, Barack Obama (especially for those who have not drunk the Obama Kool-Aid). If ever we need hope for a better future, today is the day.

Barack Obama

Given the crowds and the almost unending positive attention today has in the media, workplace, and general conversations, I think the change Obama has promised is already happening.


Expecations and Barack Obama

Tomorrow is the day when the 8 years of the second Bush administration finally comes to an end. The torture, elimination of civil rights and privacy, unfocused war on 2 fronts, banking and economic meltdown, increasing global climatic change, systematic elimination of ecological habitats, lack of international respect and pride, increase in reliance on imported oil and countless other products, increase in unemployment, explosion in debt, larger government than we have had in generations, and more disatrous social policies to name, will not be a quick or easy fix for the next administration.

Nevertheless, Barack Obama is more popular than any incoming president in years.

Moreover, there are almost impossibly high hopes for him to affect the very change he has promised.

Will Obama’s “Hope We Can Believe In” live up to expectations? Perhaps the question should instead be reveresed–how horrible if it cannot.

I wonder if the consensus is so dire that any improvement will be welcome, even if only a few minor steps? I wonder if things have gotten so bad that the American people will forgive Obama for taking longer on fixing the nation than we would with others, partly because he seems to be such a good person, partly because we have so far to climb, and partly because everything seems so broken that where else can we go but up?

This may be a singulalry unique political opportunity, one that we may not see again for some time. Whatever the case, my experience shows it is easier to get into debt than out of it, easier to put on weight than take it off, easier to become self-righteous and intollerant than to collaborate and focus on inclusion. I wonder if the same may be true for this large and complex country?

Barack, we do put our hope and trust in you. At this point, we are nearly out of any other options, and only hope it is not to late.

Then again, by the fact that I am freely writing and publishing this blog post, it seems hope may still be alive.


What Educators Can Learn from Barack Obama

barack obama

So, Barack Obama won the presidential election. While we will  undoubtedly speak about him in many ways in the times ahead, I am focusing on what we can learn from him right now.

So, what can we (or at least I) learn from Barack?

  1. The mantra “Yes We Can” is positive reinforcement. Decide something, and then keep plugging away at it until it is accomplished. Students are unsure of their abilities? Anxiety over a new teaching responsibility? Lessons challenged by people with different worldviews? Teach we shall – Yes We Can!
  2. Don’t let people tell you what you can do. If you believe you can be president, then work to make it real. Color or race are no longer barriers. There is nothing that cannot be done if you work hard enough. Yes, this is lofty and a stretch goal, but what worth accomplishing is not?
  3. The slogan “Change We Can Believe In” may be scary at times if there is a politics of fear, but it is also common sense. If what we are doing now does not work as we want it, then change. Not getting the grades? Do not understand something? Disagree with some framework? Change happens by changing methods and approaches—only we can fully change our own perspectives. And, this is not easy and it may leave us alone at times, but change is the only thing that helps us move forward.

I expect to think about this more in the weeks ahead, and am interested in what learning others may have around this . . .