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Morgan’s Moves: See you in 2014!

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

By Edith Morgan

The holiday season began on Halloween this year, with Christmas decorations crowding the witches, ghouls, pumpkins, and costumes on the shelves. Advertisements and various other enticements to buy, buy, buy and layaway if you don’t have the cash now, crowd my mailbox, fall out of the newspaper, and shout at me from TV and radio.. And so begins the mad race toward the New Year, with its promise of a respite – even if only because of the cold and snow….and the yearly task of making resolutions.

This year has been quite unusual for me: for the first time since 1888, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah came very early – starting on the eve before Thanksgiving. Never before have I lit the candles while preparing the Thanksgiving turkey. And never before have we had matzo ball soup and latkes (potato pancakes) with our sweet potatoes, stuffing, pies, and whipped cream….But as the eight days wore on, it was a great transition heading toward Christmas and the new year. For some time, I have been feeling that the time between Halloween and the new year was one of constant rushing around, and I have even joked that we ought to move one or both holidays father apart so we who host family gatherings can get a breather in between, and stop to think and plan at a more leisurely pace.

By the time you read this, it will all be pretty much over – but perhaps we can learn something for next year. Maybe we can begin to reclaim the holidays from the commercial interests, and return them to being family-centered, neighborhood celebrations, without having to go broke buying so many things we do not need or want. Perhaps we can think about which gadgets we really need, or even just want, and use our money to better purpose. And perhaps those of our family members who work could have the holidays off so they can spend some time becoming re-acquainted with each other, engage in the lost art of good conversation, share ideas and experiences – or maybe just think and plan for the next year.

Would the economy tank if we made things ourselves, recycled things we think others could use, and gave of ourselves and our time throughout the year? Could we spend time getting to know our neighbors, reconnecting with those who have moved away, and keeping in touch regularly in person, rather than via the impersonal and public media ? I still rejoice far more over a card or letter, that someone took the time and effort to think through and write, than the hundreds of e-mails, facebook, tweets, and other machine-messaging, that pass for communication today..

And so, I will be spending time between now and the New Year, sending out cards, letters and pictures, handwritten, with personal notes, to as many as I can . At my age (83) it will take a little longer, but I hedge my bets by sending “Season’s Greetings” in case I can’t get it all done before Valentine’s
Day.

But to all of you who are readers of InCity Times, I wish the happiest, most peaceful and healthy holidays and the greatest year in 2014!

Circus animal abuse …

Friday, December 27th, 2013

click here to learn more …

- R. T.

Ron’s urban diary: Merry Christmas, Worcester Police Officer Thomas Daly!

Friday, December 27th, 2013

By Ron O’Clair

I am pleased to have spoken with you yesterday outside the “ground zero” property that I have managed for the last decade as the Building & Property Superintendent of 703-711 Main Street. I had been watching activity from the front seat of my vintage 1995 Chevrolet full size van with 56,565 original miles when you had passed by my block on your way around to end up coming down Charlton Street, where I motioned you to a stop as I was exiting my vehicle.

I thought at first glance that you were Officer Jon Kachadoorian, whom I have come to know from my route, and who is an exceptional example of Worcester’s finest. I authored him a nice letter of commendation for the assistance he provided to me when my other vehicle, the 4X4 GMC pick-up with the minute mount plow had been broken into and I caught one of the crack whores that frequent my neighborhood asleep inside what had been a locked vehicle until I caught her inside and yanked her out by her feet. The story was in one of the 4 editions of the InCity Times that I gave you to read for your enjoyment.

I was pleased that you took a couple of minutes out of your busy day to speak with me, and I truly enjoyed the experience. It is refreshing to note the recent change of attitudes displayed as regards me by the various members of the department that I have been trying to enlist as allies in my crusade to retake the streets in my area from the criminal conspiracy to traffic narcotics that has been an ongoing problem here for the entire decade of my responsibility as the building superintendent, and seven more years that I was a resident of the rooming house before that.

It was not always so, and I have the chapters to prove it.

We are all in this together, and need to work together to turn the tide for a better future for the City of Worcester, which I hope to make the first community in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to be able to succeed where so many others have failed utterly to maintain the peace, restore civility in the streets, and make the streets safe for all to use and enjoy without fear as they go on about their legal and lawful business.

It is my plan to bring the different factions that are working very hard, each in their own unique way to lead the lost sheep that despoil my neighborhood back into the fold, in a united effort to combine forces and work together towards the common goal of rehabilitation and treatment of the drug and alcohol addicted who are a continual drain on the resources of the various agencies, yet repeatedly relapse back into the same old routine after incarceration or treatment for their addictive behaviors.
The majority of these people pick up the needle or the crack pipe the very same day they are returned to the streets of our community after a period of forced withdrawal via arrest and detainment for one violation of the law or another in the long list of crimes they commit daily to support their drug habits.

The way it is now, all these factions are pulling in different directions, and it is as if we were in a round lifeboat in a sea of anarchy, with everyone pulling away from everyone else in chaos, getting the boat nowhere fast. The plain and simple truth of the matter is that the addicted take the handouts meant to help them, and find ways to use the assistance to further their addiction, rather than get clean and sober. Whatever they receive in the way of well meaning help is turned into revenue to buy more drugs.

The only way treatment will ever work, is that you have to get the addicted to want to change, and to better themselves with an invasive program of recovery aimed at enabling them to see that there is hope for a better future, and that they are all worthy of redemption.
It is a multifaceted enigma that has boggled the best minds in the business as to how to go about the task. I have spent the better part of my life studying the human condition, and have much knowledge acquired at great cost to me in personal sacrifice. Having over thirty years in the fellowship myself, I have seen and heard every excuse there is for why people continue to destroy themselves with alcohol and drug abuse.

I will safely estimate that over 85% of the crime that goes on daily in our City of Worcester can be laid squarely on the doorstep of drug and alcohol addiction, and the continual struggle to feed the habits of the drug addicted. There is a vast underground economy that revolves around stolen goods and services that are bartered for drugs.

There has emerged a counterculture that is so wrapped up in the throes of addiction since the introduction of crack cocaine to the mix of available drugs being sold on the streets of our fair city. I see them each and every day and night from my perch here with the birds eye view at ground zero. It does not take a rocket scientist to know what they are doing, and they have become so brazen that you can not only see them in the act, you can hear them making the deals out in the open with no fear of being apprehended. Click to continue »

Animals are sacred

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

By Deb Young

The origins of animal worship have been the subject of many theories.
The classical author Diodorus explained the origin of animal worship by
recalling the myth in which the gods, supposedly threatened by giants, hid
under the guise of animals.
The people then naturally began to worship the animals that their gods had
disguised themselves as and continued this act even after the gods returned
to their normal state.
In societies, families would name themselves and their children after
certain animals and eventually came to hold that animal above other animals.
Eventually, these opinions turned into deep respect and evolved into fully
developed worship of the family animal.

Animals played a special role in Native American cultures. They did not
worship animals; they honored and respected them. Animals were seen as
teachers, guides and companions, as well as being their key to survival.

Native American’s existence was dependent upon animals for everything from
food, clothing, and transportation, to signaling seasonal changes and
assisting with agricultural pursuits. They prayed over the body, only took
what they needed, used every piece, and did their best give back, aiding in
repopulation, and provided balance to Nature.

Many Native American legends relate their reverence for the animal kingdom,
which lead to the creation of symbolic “power animals.” These power animals
possessed strengths and characteristics that were adopted by families,
clans, or entire tribes who possessed similar human attributes. Many Native
Americans believed that there was a direct ancestral kinship to specific
animals, making them their emblem, or totem. They would “claim” the power of
the chosen animal and identify with the aspects of its natural spirit.

Individuals would also lay claim to one of the power animals. The animal
would become a totem, or symbol, of that person’s identity. The animal’s
spirit could be invoked through prayer, meditation, and visions. The person
would connect and communicate with the animal, internalizing its traits, and
gain the knowledge, wisdom and strengths it possesses.

Today, the world seems to be stacked against the animals. Views perpetuate
the idea that animals can be eaten, experimented on, and generally used for
whatever purposes humans have. In a broader way, views perpetuate the same
idea about the environment; the environment is ours to use in whatever way
we see fit.

Is “mainstream Christianity” is a “problem” for animals: it denies that
animals have souls, says that humans are made in the image of God, and says
that humans have dominion over animals. It thus provides the ideological
support for a view of animals and the environment that allows humans to
abuse or exploit animals and the environment as much as we want.

If you believe that something is sacred, then you have an interest in
spirituality.

Whether with regard to the animals, to the environment, to the huge gap
between rich and poor, the pervasiveness of political violence, or anything
else, society cannot recover its equilibrium until the world recovers its
sense of the sacred.

Our downtown: Worcester’s doughnut hole!!!

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

By Phil Stone

To anyone who works or passes through Downtown Worcester, it’s obvious that things could be better. I often describe Downtown as the “hole in the doughnut.” Worcester has many strengths – strong neighborhoods and the many colleges being among them. But there are many people who live, work and study in Worcester who rarely venture Downtown.

“Why should I? There’s nothing to do,” is what I hear when I ask people if they’ve been downtown lately. Perhaps the most telling comment came from my daughter, who had a dentist appointment when a movie was being filmed downtown. The location scouts had decided that the buildings on Main Street looked like something out of the ‘70s. After modifying the facades of a few businesses, they had the perfect movie set. Some classic cars were trucked in, and the second unit filmed them driving up and down Main Street while the extras walked around.

“Main Street looks really good. Is that part of the Master Plan?” I had to explain that what she had seen was a movie set. The sad thing was that she was right; Main Street did look much better.

Now a year later the Central Hub is up and running, and new sidewalks are being constructed around City Hall. But where are the people, that essential ingredient to a vibrant urban area?

More to the point, how did we end up here? Who made the bad decisions that led to such a predictable outcome?

In my last column I referred to Worcester’s “civic and political” leaders. There are plenty of organizations and individuals involved in economic development efforts, including Downtown revitalization – perhaps too many.

They include the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, Destination Worcester, the Central Massachusetts Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc., the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiative, Inc., the Worcester Business Development Corporation, and the Executive Office of Economic Development.

Some of these, such as the Worcester Redevelopment Authority and the Executive Office of Economic Development are public/governmental bodies. Others, such as the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce are strictly privately funded. Still others are a hybrid, receiving some public funds for operating expenses and seeking private and foundation support. Others are legislatively created, such as the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiative, Inc. and the Worcester Business Development Corporation, and have the ability to obtain financing on advantageous terms.

Looking at this, the overlap and resulting inefficiencies are obvious. Missing are clear lines of accountability, and most important, an opportunity for folks who do not identify themselves as “civic and political leaders” to have opportunities to share their thoughts and suggestions before decisions are made, and money is spent.

Help ban exotic animal acts from Worcester! Sign this petition to let Woo City Councilors know how you feel!

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

By Deb Young

The Worcester City Council is considering a ordinance that would ban
circuses and traveling shows from using animals in their performances.

The law would bar all shows featuring “exotic animals,” including elephants,
monkeys, big cats such as tigers, and others.
Ringling Bros. makes one or two trips to Worcester each year.

Although the issues regarding circus cruelty have gained much-needed
attention in recent years, circus animals still suffer from lives of
confinement, social deprivation and violent methods of training.

In many circuses, animals are trained through the use of intimidation and
physical abuse. Former circus employees have reported seeing animals beaten,
whipped and denied food and water, all to force them to learn their
routines. Animals are taught that not obeying the trainer will result in
physical abuse. In the United States, no government agency monitors animal
training sessions.

Traveling from town to town is also stressful for circus
animals—they are separated from their social groups and confined
or chained for extended periods of time with no access to food, water, and
veterinary care. It’s no surprise that many animals suffer psychological
effects. Swaying back and forth, head-bobbing and pacing are just some of
the stereotypical behaviors associated with mental distress displayed by
animals in the circus.

Large animals such as elephants, lions and tigers need a large amount of
space to be able to move around and to socialize with their own kind. In the
wild, elephants may travel 40 kilometers a day, mud bathe and live in social
groups. In a circus, elephants are chained or confined to a small space and
are only able to stand up, lie down or shuffle a few paces backwards and
forwards. Lions and tigers are shut in their beast wagons for over 90% of
the time. They, too, need to be able to socialize and roam freely.

I’m sure you are wondering what you can do to help circus animals. Talk to
our mayor or city councilors and ask them to ban the circus because of
the animal abuse.

*****************

Sign this petition!

The Sheppard King Neighborhood Association meets on the second Thursday of each month at Gilreins on Main Street at 5:30 p.m. …

Friday, December 20th, 2013

By Ron O’Clair

… It is generally well attended with concerned neighborhood activists, City of Worcester Police, City Councilors, former Councilor Barbara Haller, and other notable citizens who meet each month to discuss issues affecting the quality of life in the Main South area.

It is open to all, and I urge those residents of the area that are fed up with rampant lawlessness to attend future meetings and speak out about injustices that they see on a daily basis in their own neighborhoods. The SKNA meeting is one of many meetings held throughout the city that are open to all concerned residents.

Issues brought up at these meetings receive immediate attention from the Worcester Police Department. A case in point is the SUN meeting, which stands for: Sycamore United Neighbors, which meets on the first Wednesday of each month, and is relatively new, having met only 5 or 6 times so far. That one meets at Centro Las America’s at 11 Sycamore Street at 6:00 P.M.

At the last SUN meeting, the issue of drug dealers using Sycamore Street, and a section of Main Street from Compare Foods to Wellington Street as a base of operations and as a place to trespass on private property to use & sell illegal drugs was discussed at the meeting held on the 6th of November. That meeting had Sergeant Campbell and Officer Hurley of the Worcester Police in attendance. As a result of information provided to the police at the meeting, action was taken the very next day to combat activity that every decent citizen knows is illegal and has been allowed to go on far too long.

Activity such as people going onto posted private property, urinating, defecating and/or shooting up heroin or smoking crack cocaine in the privacy of the property that they have no right to use as if they owned the place. These people have come to believe that they are immune to prosecution because even when the property owners threaten to call the police to report them in the act, the criminals laugh, knowing that the response time to the complaint will still allow them time to do their thing and leave before the police are able to come and arrest them for it. Click to continue »

Joey’s Holiday Spice Cake with cream cheese frosting!

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Our friend Joey is a most excellent chef! Here’s a great holiday cake recipe from him. Go ahead!  Indulge! – R. Tirella

Holiday Spice Cake with cream cheese frosting

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger …  1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 sticks (1/2 pound) of butter unsalted room temp
1 cup granulated sugar 1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup milk or cream or buttermilk for a denser cake

Frosting
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. molasses (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 and butter and flour 2- 9 inch pans (or whatever pan you decide – bunt is always fun too).

Sift the cake flour, salt and baking soda together with all the dry spices.

In a separate bowl add butter and whip until smooth add sugar and vanilla and mix well for a few minutes to aerate the mix, add eggs one at a time and mix, then add molasses last. Add some flour mixture, then some of the milk alternately, ending until well mixed and smooth (do not overbeat) pour into prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes until brown and cake springs back when you lightly press it.

Let cool for 1/2 hour then remove from pans to cool completely.

For the frosting mix the butter and cream cheese together add the sugar and then the vanilla and molasses. Frost according to the cake style your created – for a layer cake spread frosting on one layer and top with the other layer frost the top and then the sides.

Thank you, Library of Congress: ‘Roger & Me’ to be added to National Film Registry!

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

A note from filmmaker Michael Moore:

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Friends,

This morning it was announced by the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board that my first film, ‘Roger & Me’, has been placed on the National Film Registry — the official list of films that are, according to an act of Congress, to be preserved and protected for all time because of their “cultural and historical significance” to the art of cinema.

It is, to say the least, a huge honor that for me ranks right up there with the Oscar and the Palme d’Or at Cannes. The National Film Registry is a slightly rarefied list of movies in the history of cinema. Of the tens of thousands of films that have been made since the 1890s, only 600 are on the preservation list. Today, in addition to ‘Roger & Me’, the films that were announced selection to the preservation list include ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’, ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Forbidden Planet’, ‘The Quiet Man’, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and ‘Judgment at Nuremberg’.

These films plus ‘Roger & Me’ now join ‘Citizen Kane’, ‘The Graduate’, ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and a host of other classics that make up the National Film Registry.

The news comes at just the right moment for ‘Roger & Me’. The upcoming year, 2014, is the 25th anniversary of the film’s debut. But last year I learned that there was not a single print of ‘Roger & Me’ in existence. Anywhere. I was stunned. I had received a call from the New York Film Festival asking if I knew where they could find a 35mm copy of the film. They were told there were no usable prints in North America — all of them had been damaged or destroyed or had faded in color. How could the largest grossing documentary of all time in 1989 just have vanished? Poof. Gone. And if this could happen to ‘Roger & Me’, what kind of shape are other films — especially documentaries — in?

I called up the good people of Warner Bros. to help me fix the problem — and they did. In the end ten new prints were made and are now being donated to archival vaults at UCLA, the Motion Picture Academy, the Museum of Modern Art and the George Eastman House.

But now, with the protection offered by the Library of Congress, ‘Roger & Me’ will be in good hands and around for a long time to come.

You should know that there is a serious film preservation crisis afoot and I’ve volunteered to help do something about it. I often hear of other films whose prints are all gone. I have personally paid to have new prints made for a number of films (‘Hair’ by Milos Forman, the old Roy Rogers classic ‘Don’t Fence Me In’, etc.) where not a single print exists. I have donated them to one of the above archival houses and I plan to keep doing this for other movies (Next up: Dalton Trumbo’s ‘Johnny Got His Gun’).

As for ‘Roger & Me’, if you haven’t seen it, check it out on iTunes or Amazon or (for a few hours for free) here. This movie, as most of you know, was my first chapter in a series of eight films that, in part, explore (often satirically) the crazy stupid thing we call “capitalism” — a never-ending quest by the wealthy to take as much as they can, while leaving the crumbs for everyone else to fight over. Today, according to the polls, more young people say they favor the ideals of socialism over capitalism. I hope to God I played a small role in making that happen, and I look forward to the day when the rich are forced to share the wealth created by their employees. It will happen. In our lifetime.

I thank the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board for this honor. And I encourage all of you to watch my film, a film that, sadly, is every bit as relevant today as when I made it 25 years ago.

I hope all of you are well and enjoying this holiday season. There is much work to do in 2014!

Yours,

Michael Moore
MichaelMoore.com

 

FYI, local schools and local organizations! A message from Mass. Farm to School Project

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Mass. Farm to School Project works to build sustainable local foods purchasing relationships between food service directors, farmers, and distributors. This relationship-building is a cornerstone of our work, but we also consult and partner with a number of organizations, advising about the implementation of farm-to-institution practices and educating about the challenges and opportunities in a particular industry sector or geographic region.  If your organization is interested in working with us please be in touch.  As we wrap up 2013 here is a look back at a few of this year’s partnerships:

Healthcare – Through our involvement with the Eastern Mass. Healthy Food in Health Care Work Group (coordinated by Health Care Without Harm), we are excited to explore opportunities to bring Harvest of the Month to the health care sector next year, where dining directors are interested in the clear and concrete steps the campaign provides for increasing local foods in their cafeterias and in patient meals.

Regional Procurement – We helped develop a new toolkit for institutions interested in sourcing local foods through a distributor.  Written with partners in the Farm to Institution New England group, this resource is designed to assist institutional purchasers in communicating with a current or potential distributor about meeting the institution’s need for both product and tracking reports that document local and sustainable purchases. You can download the toolkit for free here. It includes:

  • Contract negotiation tips specific to local food procurement
  • Points to keep in mind when considering what you want from a local food distributor
  • A guide to conversations with a distributor including sample questions
  • A sample letter requesting locally grown foods from a distributor
  • A directory of New England produce vendors known to source local and regionally grown foods

Mass in Motion - We have worked with a number of Mass in Motioncommunities across the state.  Simca Horwitz, our Farm to Cafeteria Director, has worked with Salem Mass in Motion to help expand school gardens throughout the city’s elementary schools and provide professional development opportunities for school garden coordinators.  Lisa Damon, our Farm to Cafeteria Coordinator, has a strong partnership with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition (NBCC) through their Mass in Motion programming.  NBCC contracts with Mass. Farm to School to help strengthen local procurement relationships within schools throughout the northern Berkshires and expand the availability of, and access to, healthy local foods throughout the region.

Food Corps - We are also able to provide trainings to on-the-ground service organizations. Simca recently provided training services toConnecticut Food Corps Service Members and supervisors.  She gave an overview of school food procurement and tips for how service members can best support local foods procurement in the 12 Connecticut districts where they are based.

Planning Commissions - In December we joined the Pioneer Valley Food Security advisory committee, organized by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.  This committee, comprised of a broad range of stakeholders from throughout the region, has just published acomprehensive assessment of the region’s current food system, and outlines strategies for achieving food security.  We are looking forward to sharing ideas about how institutions like public schools and colleges can positively impact the regional food system.

School Wellness Committees – We are happy to advise districts concerned about healthy school food about how to use wellness policies to encourage local procurement.  Mass. Farm to School’s Erika Zekos recently participated on the Amherst Regional Public Schools’ Wellness Committee and contributed to the revision of the district’s wellness policy to include a provision for incorporating locally grown produce into school meals.

AgComs – Local Agricultural Commissions (AgComs) are a fantastic resource for farmers in towns across Massachusetts.  In December, Lisa Damon attended the Western Mass. Winter Gathering of Agricultural Commissions in Berkshire County.

Lisa talked with the group about avenues for AgComs to support farm-to-school efforts in their communities (for example, in the Berkshires, the Lanesborough AgCom helped build raised bed gardens at the public schools and continues to give garden based lessons with younger students).  AgComs can also support farm-to-school by contacting school administration or food service to inquire about their use of local foods and offering assistance connecting them with area farms; encouraging their members and other farmers to evaluate schools as possible profitable customers; encouraging town officials to serve local foods at town events; and by drafting and promoting a preferential purchasing ordinance for the city or town.