Friday, July 6, 2012

The Wire: The Musical

Make Minimum Wage a Living Wage


Norman and Walter agree! The living wage is determined based on the hourly rate an individual, as sole provider, must make to support his or her family. If you are not sure why a living wage is important, take a look at this post from the Economic Justice Coalition.

You can visit the
Living Wage Calculator to see how cost of living in your area compares with the minimum wage. In Ithaca, the living wage is $8.88 while the minimum wage is $7.25. In Ardmore, people making minimum wage fair better: a living wage there is only $7.14. People in large cities, as you would expect, are in the worst positions. The living wage in New York City is $11.86, in San Francisco, it's $12.65, and in San Diego, it's $11.68. In Ithaca, a local organization, the Tompkins County Worker's Center, among many other programs, certifies businesses who pay a living wage.

Here's an interesting lesson plan for high school students from PBS in association with the film Waging a Living. It has a segment related to the film, but the activity on calculating a living wage can be used independently.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

This Land Is Your Land

I challenge you not to smile when you watch this video! While Pete Seeger, shown in this youtube video filmed during President Obama's inauguration, has probably performed "This Land Is Your Land" more than anyone else, the song was originally written by Woodie Guthrie, a native son of Oklahoma, in 1940. Most people don't realize how subversive the lyrics are. One stanza often omitted from popular renditions goes:
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."But on the other side it didn't say nothing, That side was made for you and me.
NPR did an interesting story on the origins of the song in 2000. I think it's brilliant!

"This Land is Your Land" Lyrics

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Trash Walks

Walter and Norman

When Walter, Norman, and I take our twice daily walks, we usually find and pick up lots of litter along State Street. Some of it is from careless drivers and pedestrians who throw trash along the road, but other comes from inefficiencies in the waste management system. (I found a piece of mail we'd put in recycling down the street the other day.)

During IABS in Asheville, I spent an afternoon working with Asheville Greenworks to help clean Hominy Stream with a few other IABS volunteers. Some of us helped remove invasive plants; others walked the stream to take out trash. Embedded in the creek bed, we found a carburetor, part of a car's bucket seat, and a plastic raft along with numerous aluminum cans.

One of the volunteers, Melissa, had once lived in Cincinnati, and she said that she had on occasion taken her sons on "trash walks" in the city. The walks served a number of purposes: they got to spend time together, they engaged in physical activity, they learned about the city, they saw the negative effects humans can have on the natural and urban landscapes, and they contributed to a solution. While I don't think Walter and Norman get the same philosophical perspective on our trash walks, we do try to make a small positive impact.

Remember not to litter, pack up your trash and recycling well before putting it out for collection, and take your kids, dogs, or friends on trash walks in your area!

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