Friday, March 30, 2007

I. and W.

I am feeling the desire to celebrate a couple that I visited with the other day.

I. and W.

I. is a painter and sculptor. I first met her at an International Women's Day event at which I spoke. "You remind me of my sister in Hungary," she said.
I meant to visit her studio but somehow never got around to it.
I did manage to go to her art show opening night. She gave me a large smile when she saw me.
Her art is real, visceral. It makes sense to me. It is the type of work that I made when I made art.

Then, nearly a year later, I saw her and W. at a talk about Palestine. I did not realize that they shared my other passion. I finally realized who the W. was who wrote the monthly letters to the editor.
I spoke out that night. A man was not understanding our country's involvement in the Palestinian, oh I do not have words for it, genocide, mass encagement, do you have better words? I reminded him of our military aid to Israel. I didn't even think, I just rose.

I put I. on my e-mail list when I went to Lebanon. Without even asking her. I just did it and when I received her first response, I asked her if it was OK.
She was very happy to be on it. And so was W.

Last month, I. came by where I work. We gave each other a big hug and I gave her a short story that I had been meaning to mail her for over a year, "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Her paintings reminded me of this story.

I put I. on my "to call" list after that. But she got to me first and invited me over to see her paintings when the light was good.
She just finished a series of paintings of prostitutes. Bright blue and deep red. The workers no one wants to talk about.
I remember a class I took years ago where I suddenly realized that sex workers were maintaining the "morality" of other women. Satisfying the insatiable sexual desires of man. "Wouldn't it be so much easier if men could just learn to control their sexual urges?" I thought. But then we wouldn't be divided into good and bad, sexual and virginal, would we?
Years later, I still often ask myself the same question.
Divide and conquer is really what it is all about.

We had coffee amongst all the same Middle East history books I have piled up around my nest with the visceral relatable paintings hanging around us on the walls.

I can think of no other ending.

Lacking Papers, Citizens are cut from Medicaid

I am going through a paper pile of articles that I downloaded from the internet and have been meaning to read. This New York Times article dated March 12, "Lacking Papers, Citizens are cut from Medicaid" is worth passing on to the blogging world if you haven't seen it. Please let me know if you can't link to it and I will figure out something.

Here are a few highlights:

Under a 2006 federal law, the Deficit Reduction Act, most people who say they are United States citizens and want Medicaid must provide “satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship,” which could include a passport or the combination of a birth certificate and a driver’s license.

Contrary to what one may think, United States citizens are being the most affected by this policy. The number of Medicaid recipients is dropping and this does not mean that people are finding health coverage elsewhere, they are just going without.

Do you have a copy of your social security card? Have you tried ordering one? They cost $60, by the way. This is alot of money to alot of people. Money and time a person may not have when they are in an emergency.

And so you know, a large number of those being dropped from the Medicaid rolls are children.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Films that make you think

This is so great! Do you like documentaries with substance that make you think and allow you to get a sense of what is really happening in the world? Are you unwilling to join Netflix because they are owned by a major human rights violater, WALMART?

Well , maybe the Film Connection is your solution.

I am so glad that I have discovered them. I am forming a group. That's it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sitting in Silence

I am sitting here in silence waiting, and listening.
Thinking about the memorable moments of my day:

A man gave me a nickel when I didn't have anything for the meter.
He said that he was glad that he could start his day off by giving.

I shared a few moments with my Monday morning coffee shop community.
My boss smiled this complicit smile.

Later, a dear colleague e-mailed me to tell me that she appreciates how much I care.
Another wondered why I wasn't bouncing off of walls as usual.
And a Madonna dishwashing dance was done in my name.

Can it get any better? Perhaps. When the phone rings.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Torbelino de emociones

I spent the weekend in Seattle. A new and difficult adventure, as I have already written.

These are some photos from this adventure. Not the first day along the cold windy beautiful yet grey skied Puget Sound, but from the second day when I took photos of the abundant green and blossoming nature of this wet city.
After this weekend, I am feeling very alive and whole in ways that I have never felt before.

At the same time, I am also feeling more exposed than I have ever been.

A raw vulnerability is what I am feeling. Perhaps this is the way my hands feel when I am determined not to use gloves in the middle of winter.
On my drive home between the repetitive playings of my one Dixie Chicks CD, I kept on thinking about Eve Ensler.

I am proposing that we reconceive the dream. That we consider what would happen if security were not the point of our existence. That we find freedom, aliveness, and power not from what contains, locates or protects us but from what, dissolves, reveals, and expands us.

- Eve Ensler

The thing is, I know how to live without security. I know how to push the envelope and I am sick of it. I want someone to care for me, nurture me, accept me for all that I am. That is the "expanding" that I need.
Despite my torbelino of feelings, I did stop and take these two last photos. What a geographically diverse state I live in. You can go from rain forest to high altiplano desert in a matter of an hour.

Good night.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Longest Day in the World

I took my copy of A People's History of the United States 1492-Present to share with one of the teens and inside I found that I had copied a poem by Joy Harjo that I had read on the subway when I lived in New York City.
It really suits my mood today as I am beginning to set off on a new adventure, one that is the most difficult I have yet faced.
Well, here's the poem. I hope it blows you away as much as it does me.
For me at this moment it's about living and letting yourself feel even if those feelings are frightening.
Let it speak to you however it does...

A human mind is small when thinking of small things.
It is large when embracing the maker of walking, talking, and flying.
If I can locate the sense beyond desire,
I will not eat or drink until I stagger into the earth with grief.
I will locate the point of dawning and awaken
with the longest day in the world.

-Joy Harjo
a : of, relating to, or given to walking
b : moving or traveling from place to place

I forgot how much I liked this word until a friend sent me an e-mail with the word in it. He used it to describe me :)
Thanks, B.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Women Won't Wait!

Press Release: New Report Finds: International Agencies Fail to Address Violence Against Women in HIV/AIDS Programs

New Report Finds: International Agencies Fail to Address Violence Against Women in HIV/AIDS Programs
New Coalition of Women's Groups Critiques Programs and Policies of U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Global Fund, UNAIDS, Others
Women Won't Wait, a new international coalition of women's groups, launched its campaign to end HIV and violence against women with a new report released today: "Show Us the Money: Is Violence Against Women on the HIV&AIDS Donor Agenda?"
Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and one of the speakers at the launch of the campaign, said that the twin epidemics of HIV and AIDS and violence against women cannot be disentangled.
"It is vital that the policies, programs and funding streams of national governments and international agencies transparently address the intersection of HIV and AIDS and violence against women," Robinson said. "At the same time, civil society must hold both governments and agencies accountable to promoting human rights and the self-determination of women, as this coalition seeks to do."
The new study finds that leaders in the fight against AIDS have failed to consistently and adequately address the relationship between violence against women and HIV. Recent findings from a 10-country study conducted by the World Health Organization confirmed that violence against women is widespread, and that between 13 percent and 61 percent of women in the countries surveyed had experienced sexual violence and coercion at the hands of husbands and intimate partners. Moreover, HIV-positive women face high levels of violence. For example, though many women contract HIV from their husbands, within marriage, they are often blamed for infections when their positive status becomes known. Violence is, therefore, a cause and a consequence of the rapid spread of HIV among women, who now represent at least half of those infected worldwide and more than 60 percent of those infected in sub-Saharan Africa.
The report evaluates the policies, programs and funding patterns of the major international agencies engaged in responding to the global AIDS epidemic, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM); the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID); the World Bank; and, as the key agenda-setting agency in the field, UNAIDS (The Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS).
The report's author, Susana T. Fried, an expert on gender and sexuality issues, said that while funding for HIV and AIDS programs has increased dramatically in the past five years, none of the agencies had successfully integrated efforts to address violence against women into their HIV programs. Meanwhile, programs to promote women's rights and to meet the basic reproductive and sexual health needs of women have been dwindling rapidly.
"For all of the agencies we examined, the scant resources for gender-based violence efforts are largely separate from, rather than integral to, programs to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS," Fried said.
Some experts interviewed for the report agreed with this conclusion. According to Mark Blackden, Regional Gender Coordinator/Lead Specialist for Africa at the World Bank, "Even among those who are on the frontlines of tackling AIDS in the worst-hit region of the world, gender is an afterthought."
For example, the report includes a critique of PEPFAR. It finds that while PEPFAR specifically allocates funding for violence against women and girls, the overwhelming emphasis on abstinence programs under PEPFAR'S "ABC" approach (Abstain, Be faithful, appropriate use of Condoms) fails to recognize that in certain countries where HIV is prevalent, faithfully married women are at highest risk of infection. The report further finds that, like other agencies examined, PEPFAR fails to translate its own policy rhetoric into concrete programming.
"The U.S. claims that it is promoting a 'comprehensive' approach to HIV prevention," said Jodi Jacobson, Executive Director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity. "Instead, however, programs on the ground promote 'abstinence-only-until-marriage' even in settings where the majority of women are being infected within marriage, and often fail to teach safer sex practices at all, even to sexually active older adolescents and married persons in their 20s and 30s at immediate risk of infection. To be comprehensive, strategies for abstinence, behavior change and safer sex practices have to be taught simultaneously to all individuals at risk."
"Women and girls of Africa are pawns within the ideological battle underway in the United States," said Lori Michau of the Uganda-based women's rights group Raising Voices. "We must demand that universal principles of human rights, scientific evidence, and common humanity guide the formation and implementation of U.S. government policy-not political and religious ideology."
Khuat Thu Hong, co-director of the Institute for Social Development Studies in Hanoi, added that in Vietnam, where sex work is legal, "Women are now more likely to contract HIV from their partners than through prostitution or injecting drug use."
The study is the first in a series of initiatives to be undertaken by the campaign to monitor the funding, policies, and programs of international agencies and national governments, and to push for the creation of specific, measurable, and transparent means to integrate the problem of violence against women into global HIV/AIDS programming.
To download a copy of the Executive Summary, visit

being ALIVE

don't ask what the world needs.

ask what makes you come ALIVE and go do iT.

because what the world needs is people who have come ALIVE.

Howard Truman

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My world, this weekend at least

Today's post is just about me in my world. I bought this cactus the other day because it reminded me of Jean Dubuffet's work.

Sh. told me that these are actually two cactuses put together, the name of this process is escaping me. They do it to trees too.

I was walking around downtown today and was drawn to a vintage dress I saw in a store window. I used to wear vintage dresses all the time back when they were super cheap and I was slightly thinner and could fit into most of them.

As I was feeling womanly, girly, and/or just plain female and as I get a paycheck, I splurged on two. This blue dress is one of them.

I am even showing my current face in one because I am fed up with anonymity, today at least, and any stalker or protester who attempts ill will with this self revelation will simply be malled. I am Zorro after all (long story :) )

I have also found a way to utilize my remaining mole jar containers and the paper I have been making over the years. Candle containers... Hip Hip Hourah!

I am off to check on my rue and to attempt to catch up on L's e-mails.
Good night...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Today's walk

I took a walk with the starting point being my front door. I haven't driven my car all day today. I prefer it that way.

Someone made rock art at the shore of the river.

This seemed like an odd spot to leave a broom...

I walked much further than usual. I followed a creek upriver underneath the interstate and railroad bridges until I was able to cross at a small bridge and walk back on the other side.

This blog has been turning into a photojournal recently. I like seeing how my focus shifts depending upon my environment and mood. For instance, I am rather unmotivated to write about politics these days.

Friday, March 16, 2007


This is me in 2000 when I was in Guatemala. I dug it up as it inspires me. I miss this woman. I want to experience her energy again. I want to wear muddy smelly clothes for weeks and eat tortillas, beans, or something comparable for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It will take some time to prep but I have a goal and will do it.
Thanks to G, A, and L for pushing me to look inside my heart.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Walk Revelations

I took a walk after work today and admitted to myself that I want to be living and working in an environment where I can be immersed in many other cultures and languages. Right now I am in a job that is challenging and that I love. It's just this travel bug that I have...I want to live somewhere outside of the United States. Women's issues are what stir me. Now I just have to figure out what jobs I would enjoy doing and what skills I need for them. I will also need to work on my French and Spanish, get them to fluency point again. I should work out a study plan for Arabic too. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of this. Do I have the skills? Can I develop them? Do I want to risk my stable job? Am I too old for this?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


The First US Social Forum Will Take Place in Atlanta, June 27-July 1, 2007
Can YOUR Organization Organize a Session?
The Deadline for proposals is April 27
Get more info, register and make proposals online at
This is an unprecedented opportunity to network with others from around the country, to share analyses, visions and strategies and to help strengthen the capacity of US social movements to make a better world possible. Proposals that are collaborations among organizations are encouraged
The USSF is seeking proposals from a broad array of movements & topics as:
Racial Justice
Immigration/Immigrant Rights
The Anti-War movement
Women’s Rights
Workers Rights
The Environment & Global Warming
Anti-Repression/Police Brutality
LGBT Rights
The Prison Industrial Complex
Health, Housing, Education& Much More!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Margaret Views of the World

I am enjoying sending images out into the blogosphere, especially if it inspires people to look more closely at the world that surrounds them. And so, here are more Margaret views of the world!

I found myself hugging this rosemary bush quite a few times this weekend. I loved smelling its oils on my clothes and skin.

I do have my need for my urban fixes.

This is an urban fix image. I love the moist paper texture. I can almost smell the wood pole and staples that keep the saturated, nearly disintegrating paper in place.

A Portland Spring:
I can't remember what D., the botanist, called these plants.
I tried to capture the various species she mentioned as well as my love of textures.
And I will continue to tempt any readers with my upcoming Sauvie Island photos. Will they live up to expectation?

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I went to Portland, Oregon this weekend. I really liked it. The city makes sense to me. Also it's warmer than home, thus nature is further along in the blooming process.

Besides seeing G and D, highlights have been the cherry trees, yummy Lebanese food, Sunnyside Plaza, Sauvie Island and this cute little neighborhood called St. John's.

I did the obligatory trip to Powell's and managed to leave without buying anything. I prefer smaller bookstores like St. Johns Booksellers. Bought a collection of Mahmoud Darwish's poems, The Butterfly's Burden there.

Later this week, I'll share my favorite photos from Sauvie Island.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Thinking about Louisiana...

PICO Louisiana is a group that is doing good work.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day. Seeing that I spend my days and evenings working towards a better world for everyone especially women, I want to acknowledge today. This year's theme is ending impunity against women and girls. Great concept- but how far are we really willing to go for this impunity?

I would argue that one way or another we are all complicit in perpetuating this impunity. It can be by buying a product where we know the person who made it, harvested it, or sold it did not receive a fair wage or price. It can be by closing our eyes to the poverty and lack of health care, education and affordable housing that many of our fellow women must endure. It can also be by supporting political leaders who are selective about how they support women.

For example, one of my Senators is considered a major supporter of women's rights. She has coauthored and supported legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and pushed for Emergency Contraception to be over the counter. And yet at the same time, she voted for the war in Iraq and in support of Israel when Lebanon was being destroyed. Are women in Iraq and Lebanon not as important as women in my own country? Should I be supporting a politician who is selective on which women she cares about?

This is what has been going throuh my mind this International Women's Day. This, and thoughts of a local International Women's Day event take over. In my community, the same group has been organizing an event for years. They are cool women who worked to get CEDAW acknowledeged by our city council and who opened the first femisist bookstore in town.

But the didactic banking system of education event that they organize provides the same information in the same format every year. There is no dialogue and while the women talk about bridging the generation gap, they do nothing to actually accomplish this. I would like to see people leaving the event feeling that they are part of a multigenerational group of women that listen and support each other and can make a difference in the world.

I did not avoid almost falling asleep today. I wanted people to see me. I am just self-confident enough to know that I could organize and facilitate a much more thought provoking and inspirational event. Getting people to attend is another issue entirely. Oh the politics of a small city with a small town attitude in which I do not belong :)...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

CSTI 2007

I have had a few friends either attend or facilitate a workshop at the Community Strategic Training Initiative (CSTI) and they rave about it. I actually recognize one person in the picture. I'm not saying who :) I am going to try and go this year and I recommend it to others as well. The descriptive statement that most resonated with me was this: It is at CSTI that progressives working in predominantly conservative areas find kindred spirits hundreds of miles away.

And so if you are in the area, check it out.

Here's the description from the Western States Center website:

Taking place annually during the summer, the Community Strategic Training Initiative (CSTI) fills an important leadership development and strategic convening role in the region. Through intensive all-day workshops, participants come away with an in-depth understanding of how to solve organizational issues from fundraising to working with the board to administrative systems. Programmatic workshops help groups expand and deepen their knowledge of issues in the region, and each year Center staff identify key trainers who have valuable expertise to share with participants.

It is at CSTI that progressives working in predominantly conservative areas find kindred spirits hundreds of miles away. For people of color working in overwhelmingly white communities, CSTI demonstrates that "critical mass" they feel is there, but often cannot see. Despite the conservatives' rise to power, CSTI reminds us that the movement for social justice is alive and well in our region, led by some of the most inspiring, thoughtful, and passionate individuals and groups in the country.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Int Women's Day

Can I be honest and say that this looks like it will be much more fun than the 80 year-old function that I will be attending? And yet I tell myself that I will gain something from my experience. Because I will go, it is my life, my career, my path for goodness sake. I wish I could shake shake all of the pieces of the puzzle in place all at once. I know I cannot, and so I will endure until my next step becomes apparent...

And amid all of this, red, blood red, stabilizes it all. What a beautiful color.

I have some ideas in my head for Int Women's Day. I will do my best to publish them before Thursday.

Oh and yes, marxist from Lebanon was the instigator of this gut level post.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

How Barack Obama learned to love Israel

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 4 March 2007

On March 2, Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama gave a speech that proved that when it came to supporting Israel he is "as strong as Clinton, as supportive as Bush, as friendly as Giuliani" in the words of one Israeli journalist. Obama blamed Palestinians for the failure of peace efforts and uttered no criticism of Israeli policies. Yet once upon a time Obama supported Palestinian rights and an even-handed US approach to solving the conflict. EI co-founder Ali Abunimah who has met the candidate half a dozen times over a decade analyzes the speech and traces Obama's path into the hardline pro-Israel camp.

You can read the editorial here.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

all at once

I was trying to hold off and share these tomorrow but I have no ability to pace myself. I'm an "all at once" gal.

These three photos were taken on a short walk today. It was an especially dreary grey day but I was able to find green, which make them a little more colorful than some of the other photos that I have been posting recently.

This one made me laugh. We had a shooting on my block this week. By an off duty police officer no less. Who knows, maybe there is another scandal in the works.
I heard two shots, lifted my head acknowleging them, and went back to sleep. My neighbor called me at the early hour of 7:00am to tell me that the police had blocked off our street. Another neighbor decided to post this sign afterwards.

Finished Dream Catcher

I spent Friday cleaning my office and our department's space and in the process I put my dream catcher on my office wall and photographed it. I never really did explain what the different parts represent. This is not a traditional dream catcher. This is one that my colleague and I crafted for the goals of our three day workshop.

The middle circle is my name. The four pieces that surround it are how I identify myself. Margaret, Margie, Maggie, Margarita, Marguerite,... Daughter and friend. Social worker, educator, and supervisor. A reader, someone who likes to cook, a very amateur photographer, and a Maya Portly cat lover.

The first set of triangles represent obstacles that may stand in the way of realizing my dreams. They are my fear of the unknown and of not being good enough, loneliness, depression, anxiety, a tendency to think and analyze things to obsolescence, a desire for stability, moodiness in cold weather, and financial limitations.

The second set of triangles represent my support systems and strengths. I have an amazing father and many friends including A.T., L., G., C., E., T., B., A.C., K., and P. I have a compassionate heart but am not afraid to speak out. I am bubbly, energetic, creative, and capable of using my brain upon occasion. And oh, yes, I am comfortable using words.

The feathers are my goals and dreams in life and I came up with five. I would like to be fluent in Spanish, French, and Arabic. I would like to be able to inspire people to work towards creating a better world for all. I would actually like to see a better world for all. I would like to travel and and live and work overseas, and finally maybe just maybe find a partner whose dreams compliment my own. I am not going to hold my breath on that last one.

This activity was alot of fun for me. I was able to use lots of materials and get out of my very analytical lifestyle for awhile. I recommend it. Let me know if you make your own.

Friday, March 02, 2007


What does this look like to you ?