Friday, October 21, 2016

E-Takoma: 50 Online Groups in Takoma Park

Please note, this is my personal update to Jim Buie's 2004 listing of Takoma Park neighborhood listservs. The original can be found here: 50 Online Groups in Takoma Park.
To get an idea of the digital footprint of Takoma Park, try try a Google search.This is a listing of the neighborhood listservs and some of the community groups in Takoma Park.
 Takoma Neighborhood Listservs and webpages
  • Aspen-Cherry-Colby - For residents of the Aspen-Cherry-Colby Neighborhood in Takoma Park. - Inactive since 2012
  • BF Gilbert (Elm Avenue) - Announcements list for the B. F. Gilbert Citizens Association of Takoma Park. This is a one-way list for timely notices of urgent neighborhood safety issues and meetings. This is not a discussion list – just a few, timely messages – so it won’t fill up your inbox.
  • Boyd/Carroll - Boyd-Carroll Neighborhood Association
  • Carole Highlands - located near Langley/Takoma Park crossroads
  • Circle Woods - Annexed into Takoma Park from PG County in 1997, Circle Woods surrounds a wooded area called the Circle Woods. Information about public safety and other community concerns are posted through this group.
  • Forest Park - (Generally, though not exclusively, surrounding Forest Park proper between Elm Ave and New Hampshire Ave - including Belford Dr, Belford Pl, Circle, Conway, Elm, Ethan Allen, Prince George's and Woodland Aves.)
  • Hillwood Manor - For the Hillwood Manor Neighborhood Association. This group is used to share information among members of and friends to the Hillwood Manor community.
  • Hodges Heights - Discussion group for people residing in the Hodges Heights neighborhood.
  • Langley Park - Langley Park is in the Maryland suburbs outside of Washington, D. C. It is predominantly immigrant and working class. World War II era garden apartments with streets of single-family home bungalows.
  • Long-Branch-Sligo - This neighborhood listserv is one of the oldest, with about 160 members, and about one message per day. More announcements than discussion.
  • New Hampshire Gardens Citizens' Association
  • New Hampshire Gardens - Inactive since 2012 - The New Hampshire Gardens neighborhood is located in Ward 6 of Takoma Park, Maryland, in the "horn" of the City along the western border of the Takoma/Langley Crossroads District. Bordered by Carroll, University, New Hampshire and the Long Branch Trail.
  • North Takoma - The northern section of Takoma Park, MD, this community includes homes from virtually every decade of the 20th century.
  • Pinecrest - Ward 3
  • Pinecrest-Woodmoor Citizens - for members of the Woodmoor-Pinecrest Citizens' Association in Silver Spring, Maryland
  • Rolling Terrace Neighborhood
  • South of Sligo - The SOSCA neighborhood is bounded on the north by Sligo Creek Parkway, on the east by New Hampshire Avenue and the triangle of Kentland, Hopewell and Larch, on the south by Woodland and Conway, and on the west by Jackson Avenue and Prince Georges Avenue. Includes the Hampshire Knolls and Wildwood subdivisions.
  • SS Carroll Neighborhood - Residents of the Samuel Sprigg Carroll neighborhood in the "Generals" area (Grant, Lee, Sherman, Hancock, Lincoln)
  • Sycamore
  • Takoma DC - For residents of the Takoma neighborhood in Washington DC. The area was originally developed as Takoma Park. When the District of Columbia was formed, the part of Takoma Park that landed in DC became known as Takoma and the part in Maryland, Takoma Park. 
  • Takoma Overlook Tenant Association  - Next to the city's recreation center, at 7333 New Hampshire Avenue.One tower is a condominium, and the other is apartments.
  • Westmoreland - for the residents of the Westmoreland Area Community Organization (WACO) neighborhood, Takoma Park, Maryland.
Listservs For Families
School Listservs
Listservs for Takoma Civic Groups
 Takoma-Wide Discussion Groups
Takoma Media
Takoma Community Groups
Takoma Library Civic Group Page

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why Scouting?

I encourage you to remove the parent supplement from your son’s handbook and read it. I also encourage you to read the first fifty pages of your son’s handbook. The single biggest element to a Scout’s success is the support they get from their parents.

I am an Eagle Scout. Most people think that the Scouts are about camping, but what they really do is teach problem solving, self-reliance, leadership and vocations. When they were founded, they were seen as a progressive organization, and they have been on the forefront of many issues. Not many people realize this, but the Scouts were founded to help inner-city youth get out to the wilderness in what we now call “outdoor education.” They’ve been doing it for more than 100 years. 

The BSA has had a number of problems throughout the years. Most of them are self-inflicted. I don’t agree with the BSA stance on not allowing “avowed” homosexuals to participate in the program; I do however agree that private organizations should have the right to set membership criteria. Very few people at the local level agree with the national policy. 

The BSA is like McDonald’s in that it franchises the program to whoever wants to use it (i.e. Elks, Rotary, PTAs, churches, etc.). It’s the Mormon and Roman Catholic churches that are driving the anti-gay policy (as a practicing Catholic it drives me nuts). To understand the problem, you have to understand the finances. The national office of the BSA gets all its money from the membership fees, $15 per year per kid. I think the current membership is 6 million youth. 40% of that is LDS or Catholic. That’s a $36M hit each year if those two organizations left the program. The BSA is has seen a 15% decline in membership I the last decade, but that’s less than the hit it would have taken if they had gone the other way.

As a kid whose dad died when he was nine, the BSA gave me opportunities I may have otherwise missed. I have been a volunteer now for more than twenty years. I have worked with more than 500 kids directly and probably another 1000 indirectly. Our current troop is ninety-two years old, and the pack is seventy-two. Our chartering organization recently issued a letter criticizing the national policy:

Most people who disagree with that national office do so by leaving. So the second thing I will recommend is that you sign-up as a Member of Committee. Send a letter to the national leaders telling them that you disagree with the policy.

The bulk of the problems with the child abuse occurred more than 20 years ago. The policies since then have become a national model. That doesn’t mean that problems don’t occur, but hopefully many more are prevented and those that do are treated much more quickly. The fact that the BSA kept such meticulous records is because they were trying to deal with those issues in a society that wasn’t dealing with it much better.

To quote Will Rogers, “The only problem with Boy Scouts is, there aren't enough of them.” The Scouts have a great program, and great volunteers at every level, trying to help kids. Support your son (and your daughter too if she is a Girl Scout). Get involved, even if it’s only giving moral support. Your son will one day thank you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What America has become

Someone recently forwarded to me the Commentary made by Ken Huber in the Iosco County News-Herald last June, entitled “What has America become?” I feel for the author. In these times of economic insecurity and global change the world does seem to be an unfriendly place. However, the mixed up arguments, false analogies and outright falsehoods put forth in this small piece are deceptive. It’s no wonder that the piece has gone viral in the conservative blogosphere.

Let me address the letter piece by piece. First:

Has America become the land of the double standard?

No, there has always been a double standard. We were founded with a portion of our country in slavery and women did not have equal rights with men. The rich always had more advantages than the middle class, working class, or the poor.

Let’s see: if we lie to the Congress, it's a felony and if the Congress lies to us it’s just politics;

Let me cite another quote:

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance." John Philpot Curran, 1790

People in power lie, they always have and always will. The responsibility of a free citizenry is to keep informed, and to hold their leaders accountable.

if we dislike a black person, we're racist and if a black person dislikes whites, it’s their 1st Amendment right;

This mixed up article is wrong on so many levels. There is no constitutional protection on being liked, there is however the protection of speech. There is a lot of hate speech out there; it is all protected - whether it is the KKK or the Black Panthers. This statement speaks to the level of vitriol in our society. Mass media bombards us with this all the time. Hate speech should never be acceptable. It is protected, but it is not acceptable.

the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims;

We as a society do not do enough for the victims of crime. That said, locking up criminals and doing nothing to rehabilitate to them doesn’t help us either. Using my home state of California as an example, if you look at all the prisons built under the leadership of George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson - they aren’t working. The state is going broke and its prisons are part of the problem. Crime prevention and rehabilitation are cost effective especially when compared to the cost of incarceration.

in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not use the word God in the process;

Another mixed up argument. No one should be afraid to express themselves because of the sexual orientation, or their faith. As an adult, I look back on to some of the things my peers and I did to each other growing up and I hold regret in my heart. We picked on people for everything and I wish that we had been called on the carpet more often. We need to be a more tolerant society, and this needs to be taught in the schools. This extends to all aspects of our life.

you can kill an unborn child, but it is wrong to execute a mass murderer;

Flip is around to get the other perspective:

you protect an unborn child, but it is okay execute a mass murderer;

My Christian faith teaches that both are wrong. I think consistency is important in this point. I don’t think you can reconcile many people to the inconsistency in these two positions. There is value in all life. We need to focus on the issues that bring us to the point that a woman in a clinic faces a horrible decision; or the point where someone is sentenced to die.

we don't burn books in America, we now rewrite them;

This is nothing new. This country has a long history of banning, burning and editing books.

we got rid of communist and socialist threats by renaming them progressive;

What on earth is he talking about? International politics? Certainly not. Domestic politics? Does the writer know of all the abuses done in the 20th Century to people by naming them as communists or socialists? This kind of argument rings of fascism. Does the writer realize that? Fascist. Domestically, the most progressive President in the last fifty years was Richard Nixon. If you look at his policies from then now, he would be a Democrat.

we are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea;

This is another false analogy. You can’t compare our border with Mexico and our patrolling of the DMZ in Korea.

if you protest against President Obama's policies you're a terrorist, but if you burned an American flag or George Bush in effigy it was your 1st Amendment right.

If you advocate killing the President or overthrowing the government by force, yes you may be a terrorist. Burning the flag, or an effigy falls under protected speech.

You can have pornography on TV or the internet, but you better not put a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas;

This one bugs me too, but the author is mixing up arguments, again. Don’t put the nativity scene on public land. That’s the simplest answer.

we have eliminated all criminals in America, they are now called sick people;

Do I have to really refute this one? This is simply wrong. Wrong. Wrong Wrong.

we can use a human fetus for medical research, but it is wrong to use an animal.

Says who? Show me one organization or person that says both. I don’t think you can. Many say one, but I know of no one who advocates both.

We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don't want to work; the land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs;

These were not originally grouped together, but I did for the sake of argument. Who exactly is the money being taken from and who is it being given to? Are we talking about people receiving Medicare, SSI, or social security? Are we talking about those receiving unemployment benefits? Are we talking about those receiving WIC or food stamps, perhaps welfare? Perhaps the author is describing corporations that get subsidies or loan guaranties? Please tell me who is getting that handout and who doesn’t want to work?

I’m all for tax fairness. Everyone should pay according to their ability to pay. I like what Warren Buffet said about taxing the rich more. Taxes though, won’t solve the problem. We have to reform our economy and bring home many of the jobs we have exported overseas. Let’s not fight a war on a credit card.

we all support the Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology; we still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct;

Examples please? Political correctness and the “talk radio” mentality abound. It’s easier to shout someone down than to listen to what they are really saying, or trying to understand their problem.

parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games;

Yes, we all need to be better parents and invest the time in our children.

the similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill is that neither president did anything to help.

This too is factually wrong. Both Presidents did something. Bush did too little too late thinking that this was a state issue and not a federal issue. Obama relied too much on the private sector to clean up its own mess; but there was a significant federal response. As a nation we need to be better prepared for emergencies of all types.

And how do we handle a major crisis today? The government appoints a committee to determine who's at fault, then threatens them, passes a law, raises our taxes; tells us the problem is solved so they can get back to their reelection campaign.

This is a good place to end. We get the government we deserve. In the end, we need to become a more active electorate; more educated and we need to hold our leaders accountable. Stop going for the simple fixes: term limits; constitutional amendments; arcane budgeting rules, etc. We need to fix our budgeting and fix our economy.

We need to recognize that we as a nation share a common weal and that by working together we can fix whatever problems plague us.

What has happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?

It’s here, but it needs to get off the couch and get back in shape.


Friday, September 23, 2011

The value of work

Recently, I defriended someone because after tolerating years of their right wing rants, they went over the edge and started harassing people who didn't agree with them. In the same week, I limited access to my wall to someone else who was bashing immigrants, and was proud of it. This week I was appalled when someone thought it okay to criticize day care workers who might want to organize. They were surprised when I disagreed with them. Let me be clear about a few things, so I don't have to continually argue the same points over and over again on my wall.

I believe that our faltering economy was caused by corporate greed and is now being balanced on the backs of workers. The GOP is driving the car over the cliff and the Democrats are too afraid of their shadows to truly challenge them. The American public is inexplicably unable to discern the truth.

Our nation depends on the low wages of undocumented workers. Anyone who eats fruit; eats at a restaurant; lives in a new home; hires a gardener; etc., etc. has probably reaped the benefits of an undocumented worker.

Most of us descend from immigrants, yet this nation has persecuted immigrants almost as long as there have been immigrants. If you don't believe this, ask the Welsh, Irish, Germans, Italians, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, etc. This doesn't include forced immigrants from Africa. Demonizing immigrants isn't the answer, to any of our nation's problems.

Anyone who doesn't believe in organized labor, or the value of unions, hasn't been paying attention to the assault on workers orchestrated by the corporate class. Worker protection laws exist only as long as people care. If you look at what happened in Wisconsin earlier this year you'll see that the GOP stripped workers if their rights as soon as they thought no one was looking. Today is different. People have forgotten the struggles that won the protections for the workers. I invite you to sit with me for day here at the Department of Labor and answer some of the heartbreaking calls we get from people who people who need help. Many of them could use a Union.

Someone has to pick up the garbage, pick the fruit, take care of small children, etc. Not everyone can be a surgeon or an investment banker - but everyone deserves a chance to make a living with dignity and the ability to have a better life.

I’m fed up with the b.s. of people arguing on my FB wall. So, today I'm throwing down the gauntlet. Please, find a way to disagree with this: Proverbs 14:23 “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” If you do disagree, how would you work to make things better?

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 Story

Ten years ago at this time, I was driving west on the Schuylkill Expressway and was near the Conshohocken Curve when news of the first airplane crashing into the World Trade Center was reported on WHYY. Like most people, I wondered what was going on. Could it have been an accident like the plane that hit the Empire State Building in the 40’s? That thought was quickly dispelled when I heard about the second plane striking.

I pulled over to call my office and was told that they were being told to evacuate the federal building I worked in. I called home to check on my wife and my two week old son. After talking with my wife, I decided to continue driving to Scranton to meet with the company officials for my onsite inspection. They were going to be there working so I thought I should be there too. I made my inspection and went to find some road crews working in the Pocono Mountains that had been told I would be there to interview them. We all talked about what was happening, but the events in New York and Washington seemed very far away. I drove home from the mountains having made my appointed rounds listening to the news all the way, but I was stunned by what I saw on the television.

To this day, I regret not going home and being with my wife and son. I felt I had a commitment to be were I said I would, and nothing seemed to be happening in Pennsylvania.What I saw that day was people working, and trying to get their jobs done. I went out the next day to finish the inspection and I saw those same people, but the look in their eyes was the different: some how the world had changed.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives that day, and to the first responders. I pray for the families that lost loved ones. I pray for all of us that the world is a better place. I hope that some good comes from this tragedy that we all shared.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Public & Private in the Blogosphere

Someone's research project

Public & Private in the Blogosphere

you can contribute here:

Bloggers, stand up and be counted! Take the “Public and Private in the Blogosphere” Survey!

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wal-Mart and its treatment of Pennsylvania workers on trial in Philadelphia.

Today, in a completely random situation, I heard that there is a class action suit against Wal-Mart going on here in Pennsylvania claiming that the company failed to pay hourly wages for all time worked. The case, Michelle Braun & Delores Hummel v. Wal-Mart Stores, went to trial at the beginning of the month in the Court of Common Pleas. There appears to be more than 70 similar lawsuits filed nation-wide in both federal and state courts.

In California, employees won, a $172 million verdict last December, and in New Jersey the employees lost and the case is on appeal. The Bloomberg news service reports that the next trial is in Massachusetts in October.

There has been no local press about this! According to a Arkansas Democrat Gazette:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. boosted profit at the expense of employees by pressuring store managers to cut payroll costs, a lawyer for two former workers said at the start of a trial in Philadelphia.

Hourly workers at Wal-Mart’s Pennsylvania stores were forced to skip more than 33 million breaks and 2 million meal periods between 1998 and 2001 because of the focus on cost cuts, attorney Michael Donovan said Friday in state court. His clients are suing Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, on behalf of about 186,000 current and former employees in Pennsylvania.

The missed breaks and meals, mandated by Pennsylvania labor laws, added up to about 9 million hours of employee time, he said.

Michelle Braun and Dolores Hummel are seeking $ 300 million in damages in the lawsuit, one of more than 70 filed in federal and state courts that claim Wal-Mart failed to pay hourly wages for all time worked.
Why aren’t we hearing about this in Philadelphia?

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