Wednesday, December 16, 2009


This video by Voices of Hope Productions illustrates the difficulties many ex-prisoners encounter after paying their debt to society and release from prison. Incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders in New Jersey prisons to the tune of $39,000/inmate per year is not making our communities safer. The film also addresses several unfair and unjust practices that make it impossible for ex-prisoners to become productive citizens causing a revolving door of incarceration. We cannot simply continue to do nothing.

Watch the video and become informed on the simple math and compelling logic of proposed legislation that will cost virtually nothing, yet will create millions of dollars of savings to New Jersey taxpayers. Additionally, they will also provide equitable solutions to the recidivism problem in our state.

We need your help now to ensure that the prisoner reentry reform bills pass in this legislative session. After watching the film, please contact your Senators to support the following six bills, which will enhance our public safety and save our taxpayer dollars: S11, S12, S13, S502, S531, and S1347.

Please take a short survey
after viewing the film as it would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, November 30, 2009


To: The Governor of NJ, The NJ State Senate and The NJ State House

A sweeping bill package sponsored by six Assembly Democratic legislators, lead by Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, to improve rehabilitation in New Jersey prisons and to save taxpayer dollars by cutting recidivism and giving released inmates an improved chance of success was advanced Monday November 22, 2009 by an NJ Assembly panel. Make sure that needed criminal justice policy changes take place under this administration!

Show NJ Legislators the support for YOUR Public Safety and Prisoner Reentry Bills:

A4197 – Strengthening Women and Families Act
A4198 – Post-Release Employment Act
A4199 – Administration of Correctional Facilities Act
A4201 – Reduction of Recidivism Act
A4202 – Education and Rehabilitation Act
A4203 – Criminal Penalties Act

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


A traveling exhibit by clients at 180 - TURNING LIVES AROUND, INC.

180 Turning Lives Around is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to ending domestic and sexual violence in our community. The shoes represent each clients journey. The process of creating these shoes has touched many women, men, and children. Telling their story of abuse is one of the first “steps” in healing from the devastating effects of domestic violence. Art provides a safe and non-threatening way for survivors to speak out and release the pain that has been part of their lives. These shoes are their way to break this silence and share their story with you in a safe and confidential way.

The hope is that the powerful messages in this exhibit raise awareness of the affects of domestic violence and abuse within our community.

The SHOES will arrive at CARLA GIZZI on DECEMBER 3rd with a WINE AND CHEESE RECEPTION. All are welcomed, please bring a friend. The exhibit will be on display till December 10th. A portion of all sales at Carla Gizzi will be donated to SHOP FOR THE CAUSE!!

LOOKING FOR EXTRA HOLIDAY CASH?? Do you have any old or outdated jewelry just taking up space in your jewelry box? Earth Treasures will be present to buy your old Gold and Silver jewelry at its weight value and you will be paid CASH ON THE SPOT! Earth Treasures will also donate a portion of each transaction to 180.

Don't miss it!!!

Step Up—Help create awareness for domestic violence in Monmouth County.

Step Out —Visit this powerful exhibit.

Carla Gizzi - Jewelry & Home Decor
169 West Front Street ~ Red Bank NJ 07701

Thursday, November 19, 2009


~Frank Talk Panel Discussion Series~
Arrested Development: Prison vs. Education, Who’s Footing the Bill?

Friday, November 20th @ 7:00 p.m.

163 Shrewsbury Avenue, Red Bank, NJ

• 95% of those incarcerated will be released

• $1.2 billion/yr. on corrections with a 67% re-arrested within 3 years of release (costing $39k/inmate)

• People of color comprise just 28% of th
e population but account for 83% of the prison population

• The average person in NJ prisons functions at grade 6th reading level and grade 5th math level; only 2% of corrections budget is spent on educational programming

• NJ ranked 44/50 US States in a national report card for the number of barriers to successful reentry/reintegration

• 50% are nonviolent and New Jersey has the highest proportion of nonviolent drug offenders in the nation

Such alarming statistics should be enough to arouse your interest.
This is a very important topic in righting societal ills. Learn about how you can
help support legislation that is being put forth to aid in the re-entry process for inmates. A coalition to reform our prison system starts here. Short film to be screened with community discussion to follow.


• NJ State Senator Jennifer Beck, District 12, Judiciary Committee

• Vincent Baker, Owner, Jennies Restaurant

• Lori Ersolmaz, President, Voices of Hope Productions


Friday, November 20th @ 7:00 p.m.

163 Shrewsbury Avenue, Red Bank, NJ
Where art, culture and good conversation are always on the menu

Snacks and refreshments to be served

Call (201) 320-4920 or email
to get more information and to RESERVE YOUR SEAT

Sponsors: Frank Talk Art, Bistro and Books and Voices of Hope Productions

Illustrations by: Todd Hyung-Rae Tarselli

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


After years of work, Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman has put together a comprehensive package of bills, which reflects the tremendous outpouring of information, experience, expertise, and recommendations that were made by citizens across the state at the “Counting the Costs” public hearings.

These bills simply cannot make it through both houses of the Legislature without your help! To ensure that the bills get passed, you need to take action now by doing two simple and immediate things:

1) The legislative leadership needs to hear from you directly. They will be the first to see these bills and so it is critical for them to know the level of strong support behind the bills. Therefore, it is urgent that you call your local legislators and soon as possible and tell them: “Please support the following six bills, which will enhance our public safety and save our taxpayer dollars: A4197, A4198, A4199, A4201, A4202, A4203.”

Find local legislators in your municipality.

An attached handout has detailed information about the bills as well as speaking points that can be used to educate others.

2) Forward this information to as many of your colleagues, friends and family as you possibly can, including placing in list servs, newsletters, blogs, fliers, meeting agendas, etc.

Read what some people who participated in the Counting the Costs public hearings had to say.

Proposed Bills
Strengthening Women and Families Act (A4197)
Post-Release Employment Act (A4198)
Administration of Correctional Facilities Act (A4199)
Reduction of Recidivism Act (A4201)
Education and Rehabilitation Act (A4202)
Criminal Penalties Act (A4203)

For more information visit the Second Chance Campaign website.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why Does New Jersey Hate Formerly Incarcerated People?

On Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 7:30 pm Michael B. Jackson will begin a series of broadcasts asking that question. “The NJ Corrections budget is $1.2 billion a year and still 65 percent of the people who get out of prison are back within 3 years,” says Jackson. “The average person in prison reads on a 5th grade level yet only 2 percent of that $1.2 billion is spent on education programming. NJ ranked 44 out of 50 US states in a national report card for the number of barriers to successful reentry. What’s up with that?”

The series will commence with the NJ Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC). “The Juvenile justice Commission promotes, tolerates and encourages discrimination and human rights violations against it’s employees with prior convictions or incarceration in their backgrounds, by virtue of it’s policies and failure act against, speak against or even acknowledge, such behavior within the JJC, time and time again”, stated Jackson. “ I will begin the series with my own current personal situation of injustice and workplace hostility as a formerly incarcerated employee.”

PNR will also unveil the historic “Counting the Costs”: Public Safety and Prisoner Reentry Bills, that will be introduced and moved for committee and floor votes during the upcoming “lame duck” session of the NJ legislation. “People who care about improving public safety and reducing the costs of incarceration will be excited about these bills,” says Jackson, with a big smile on his face. “Getting these bills through is something the people can rally behind and get done.”

Michael B. Jackson, Founder, Executive Producer and Host of Prison Nation Radio says the broadcasts serves a public service by giving incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people and the prison-affected community a voice and point of view rarely offered in traditional media. The weekly talk formatted broadcast includes guest interviews, listener call-in, news/information updates and art & entertainment with special attention to issues important to the Prison Nation audience. Jackson also covered the entire Counting the Costs hearings which can be heard on his website. Jackson is the Publisher and Author of three books; "How to Do Good After Prison: A Handbook for Successful Reentry," "How to Love & Inspire Your Man After Prison," and "Como Cumplir Con Tus Obligaciones Al Salir De La Prision: Guia practica para una vida mejor."

PNR can be accessed at The mailing address is PMB 104, Postnet, 621 Beverly-Rancocas Rd, Willingboro, NJ 08046.

The program call in phone number is 1-347-215-8904.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is Victorious! Their successful campaign to persuade Disney to give refunds to parents who purchased Baby Einstein videos has become a huge international story. Media coverage includes a front page story in The New York Times ("No Genius in Your Crib? Get a Refund"); stories on Good Morning America and the CBS Evening News; and articles in hundreds of newspapers throughout the United States and Canada. Parents in other countries are now demanding their money back.

Many, including | THE EYE |, have virally spread news about commercialism for babies and children—on blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Screen time for babies and more recently Disney's deceptive marketing has become a hot topic, especially on parenting blogs and listservs. Pediatricians are also planning to distribute information about the refunds in their offices.

The message? Baby Einstein DVDs are not educational. The New York Times called the refunds "a tacit admission that [Baby Einstein] did not increase infant intellect." Now parents will be able to rely on honest information and solid research - not marketing hype - when making important decisions about if and when to let their youngest and most vulnerable children watch screen media. One mom said, "It's great that parents will now have one less thing to worry about. No longer will they feel the pressure to have their babies watch so-called educational videos or risk falling behind."

For a refund go to CCFC's website where there are instructions for how to get a refund, more about CCFC's campaign, a fact sheet on baby videos, and links to all the press coverage.

Monday, October 26, 2009



The 7th Annual Outdoor Art Exhibit Celebrating Diversity Call for Art and Quotations from around the Globe.
Cash Prizes.

A Juried Show of 39 Billboard-Size Selections on display April and May 2010 in Sarasota and Sarasota County

Submission Deadline: Saturday January 9, 2010

The mission of Embracing Our Differences® is to use art as a catalyst for creating awareness and promoting, throughout our community, the value of diversity, the benefits of inclusion and the significance of the active rejection of hatred and prejudice.

The Embracing Our Differences® exhibit features 39 billboard size images (16 feet wide by 12 feet high) created by professional artists, art students, and school children from Florida and around the world. Their creations reflect their interpretation of our message: "enriching lives through diversity."

An interesting and inspiring feature of the exhibition is the inclusion of the quotations that accompany each image. These quotations were chosen from entries submitted by members of our community and speak of the value of respecting the differences of others.

Since 2004, the exhibit has been viewed by more than 700,000 visitors. During that same period, over 50,000 students and teachers attended the exhibit for firsthand observation and discussion concerning the importance of diversity in our lives.

What does the theme “embracing our differences” mean to you? What message would you like to share with our community?

A Juried Show of 39 Billboard-Size Selections on display April, 2010

Island Park, Sarasota Florida and May, 2010 South Sarasota County
Submission Deadline: Saturday January 9, 2010

See official submission form for more details


Embracing Our Differences
A Project of
Coexistence, Inc.
P.O. Box 2559
Sarasota, FL 34230-2559
Visit the Website



2010 National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY)

NFFTY has become the largest and most influential film festival and support organization for filmmakers age 22 and under. Founded by 2 teenagers in 2007, NFFTY occurs each spring in Seattle, Washington and includes 100+ film screenings, filmmaking panels, concerts by youth bands, and opportunities for young filmmakers to network with industry professionals and each other. NFFTY filmmakers have ranged in age from 7 to 22 and represent broad cross sections of ethnicity, geography and socio-economic backgrounds. Young filmmakers from throughout the U.S. have submitted films, as well as those from 12 countries around the world. The NFFTY is the largest and most prestigious youth film festival in the country, consisting of 4 days of youth-made films, industry panels and workshops, as well as concerts and parties taking place April 29 - May 2, 2010 in Seattle WA

Early Deadline is October 31, 2009
Regular Deadline is December 15, 2009
Final Deadline is January 15, 2010
To submit, please visit the website
Still have questions after reading the Rules?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


"Witnessing and experiencing the apathy and ignorance of American youth towards the world and the people that govern it has become an astonishing aspect of the “American Lifestyle.” Growing up in a third world country, traveling the world and really seeing both sides of the picture made me question the capability of the future leaders of our world. America for Dummies is my quest to uncover why we are so apathetic about the world, let alone our nation, especially in our post-9/11 atmosphere."Niaz Mosharraf

Winner of the Youth Voice Award from the 2009 Media That Matters Film Festival.

Friday, October 09, 2009


Here is a creative and effective video/lecture by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig. Author of numerous books including Free Culture he simply explains the economy of how the U.S. government works. The lobbying industry is now a 9-12 billion dollar business. "Every single issue that you care about is fundamentally affected by this corruption of the process of government. That corruption leads to a complete collapse of trust...88% of people believe money buys results in Congress leading to an extraordinary level of cynicism of that institution." All good reasons for citizen lobbyists to push back. Solutions are provided...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


If you live in New Jersey, this documentary series on the Sundance Channel shouldn't be missed. BRICK CITY is a five-part documentary series that fans out around the city of Newark, New Jersey to capture the daily drama of a community striving to become a better, safer, stronger place to live. Against great odds, Newark’s citizens and its Mayor, Cory A. Booker, fight to raise the city out of nearly a half century of violence, poverty and corruption. In the five one-hour episodes of BRICK CITY, the lives of Mayor Booker, citizens on the front lines, and key figures re-making the city – from developers to ex-gang members - intertwine in a portrait of a city at a critical moment in history. Produced by Forrest Whitaker. Airs every night this week, 10 pm - Sundance Channel. Also available on demand. Don't miss it.

Monday, September 14, 2009


A lot of people are under the impression that in order to impact the life of a child in foster care, they have to become a foster parent. Raise Me Up wants to show people how easy it is to dramatically change the life of a vulnerable child in foster care with just a small commitment of time. Get the facts.

The message of the Raise Me Up campaign is: “You don’t have to raise a foster child to raise them up. You just have to raise your hand and say you’ll help.” New Jerseyans will be invited to visit the Raise Me Up Web site through powerful television, radio and transit advertisements where they will learn about a variety of ways to
volunteer and help youth across the state and right in their own community.

Goals of the Raise Me Up campaign:

• Strengthen families and improve the lives of millions of children.
• Inspire action and engagement.
• Focus people on the real challenges facing children in foster care.


Find opportunities nationwide

For more information contact:

New Jersey Department of Children and Families
Office of Communications and Legislation
222 South Warren Street – 3rd Floor
P.O. Box 729
Trenton, NJ 08625

Phone: 609-262-0422
Fax: 609-777-0443
Web site:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


President Obama has said that the challenges America faces are unprecedented, and that we need to build a new foundation for economic growth in America. The President has also announced a new program called United We Serve that is designed to encourage Americans to volunteer more. The Administration has already begun work with dramatic new investments in education, health care and clean energy, but it cannot be done alone.

Consider volunteering in your community even if it's only an hour a week. With all the cutbacks to nonprofit organizations with the recession and the Madoff scandal, your community needs you more than ever. And it's great work experience for the resume! Consider the ways you can use your talents to help in your local area. It will surely be worth it.

Find volunteer opportunities in your area with this great resource:

Monday, August 31, 2009


Reading Rainbow, a children's reading show hosted by LeVar Burton ended broadcast on Friday, August 28, 2009 due to lack of funding after a 26 year run on PBS. The multi Emmy award-winning show had not produced any new episodes in the past three years due to a $210,000 per episode price tag. Not only was funding support unavailable to renew the show's broadcast rights, through research the Corporation for Public Broadcasting found that a shift in educational television programming had taken place in recent years. Reading Rainbow's concentration was initially based on teaching kids why to read as opposed to teaching them how to read through phonetics and spelling. This recent policy change seems to have smothered the idea of inspiring children to read just for the love of it as well as for the sake of enjoying and understanding storytelling. The affiliated Reading Rainbow website will also cease production in December. The program was popular for use in the classroom setting and will continue to be available for screening in schools.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Carrying on a Legacy - Representative Patrick Kennedy

I first met Congressman Patrick Kennedy a few years ago at a hearing in Trenton. At that time he was traveling around the country meeting with ordinary citizens to hear their mental health and addiction-related stories as well as their difficulties in getting appropriate healthcare treatment. The Congressman was the chief sponsor of and reintroduced a bill named The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, a landmark legislation that became law in 2008. The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act ensures that mental health benefits are offered at parity with medical benefits, providing access to mental health services for approximately 113 million Americans. This legislation sought the breakdown of discrimination in insurance coverage for mental health compared to physical health care. No small feat. Especially since it took over ten years to pass the legislation.

Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat of Rhode Island saw the bill as a civil rights issue and openly described his own drug dependence and depression as a mental illness and felt fortunate as a Congressman to get the best healthcare treatment for his own problems and wanted to make sure every American could receive the same level of healthcare. This sounds quite reminiscent of his father Edward Kennedy.

The media eulogies abound this week for Senator Ted Kennedy, rightly so. However, repeatedly we are being told that the Senator is the last in the line of the Kennedy family legacy. Why do they not refer to Patrick Kennedy? If anyone will continue the work of Senator Teddy Kennedy it will be his son, Patrick. Patrick Kennedy sits on the Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; and on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. He is also a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has introduced several bills which would strengthen laws regarding handguns. He may not have the same dynamic personality as his father, but I can say he was very warm and kind when I met him.

The next time someone in the media acts like there is no one left in the Kennedy family to continue the legacy or replace Edward, let us consider Patrick Kennedy and recognize that he has the political where-with-all to continue empathetic and realistic work on healthcare reform and other social issues. But the values and principles of Senator Ted Kennedy can-and-should be realized in each of us as American citizens, as well.

Friday, July 10, 2009


City of Newark waterfront urban planner and artist Damon Rich developed a visual playground for adults, called the Red Lines at the Queens Museum of Art. Calling it an experience of the United States mortgage crisis, Rich mapped neighborhoods in dire circumstances using the 1964 World's Fair Panorama of the City of New York.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Edward Martins, a Portuguese photographer living in London has had his photo essay about the U.S. mortgage and real estate bubble removed from The New York Times online slide show due to digital cloning and manipulation in photographs that were promoted as manipulation-free. A blogger initially noticed that three of Martin's photos were indeed digitally enhanced and manipulated in Adobe Photoshop. Photo District News an industry tabloid paper picked up on the story.

Although the manipulations might appear as a minor indiscretion, when understanding the nature of cloning, unfortunately for the New York Times' special presentation of an historical event in this country, an artist making aesthetic corrections to enhance journalistic photographs poses a major breach of ethics. It's bad enough when ordinary readers often don't recognize a construction for what it is, especially when dealing with issues like women's representation and body image, where a great deal of human flaws are removed or repaired. That's advertising. But Martin was commissioned to take photographs that were meant to serve as a historical document of our economic times. Good thing someone was paying attention and deconstructing the images.

See the manipulated photos.

Read Simon Owen's interview with the blogger who exposed the manipulations.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Inside Out: Voices from New Jersey State Prison

A powerful collection of poems, stories, memoirs and commentaries by 43 inmates who took part in a creative writing workshop. Compiled and edited by Kal Wagenheim, who directed the workshop, similar to one he directed for college students at Columbia University in New York City.

Friday, June 12, 2009


On Wednesday, as a legislative leader for Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG), along with peers who did the same statewide to their legislative districts, I delivered a package and postcards to my district office (11) in Monmouth County to Senator Sean Kean, Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini and Assemblyman David Rible. The legislators where not in the office when I arrived, but I spoke with their Chief of Staff, Ryan Sharpe. He listened carefully and respectfully as I explained about friends of mine who had sons who died while trying to access addiction treatment, and another who had no access through their own health care policy and had to pay for treatment out of their own pocket. They ended up sending their son out-of-state for treatment. Ryan Sharpe said that Assemblywoman Angelini was supportive on the issues.

The package I delivered held NCADD-NJ’s new primer detailing the state’s addiction treatment gap and the savings the state would see by providing more treatment. Also included were individual cards from other citizens who support increasing a small tax on beer distributors—just 5 cents a gallon to raise over 7.5 million for treatment. The money would go into the dedicated Alcohol Education Rehabilitation and Enforcement Fund (AEREF). With the Closing the Addiction Gap proposal, not only will lives be saved, but New Jersey would save money in its budget by reducing health care costs and the criminal justice system.

Advocates in photos: Alice Silverman visits Assemblyman Jack Connors (top left) Sue Foose, whose son Brian died due to lack of treatment resources (middle right) and Jeanette Grimes with Senate President Dick Cody's staff (bottom).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

DONATE A USED BIKE | Pedals for Progress (P4P) Bike Drive

Saturday, May 30th
12:00 to 3:00

The Grove West
Shrewsbury, NJ
exit 109 off the
Donate and Enter to win
a *new* Beach Cruiser


What a great idea! Pedals for Progress is putting unused bikes to good use in the developing world. For many families in developing countries, a bicycle is as important to their well-being as your car is to you. Too often, though, these families don’t have a bike and must walk everywhere. A bike from P4P changes this almost overnight. Instead of walking at three or four miles per hour, someone can pedal a bike at 10 to 15 miles per hour. Destinations that were once hours away are easily within reach. These could be new opportunities for employment, schools, health facilities, markets—just think about all the places you need to get to in the course of a week. With no public transportation and no car, what would you do? Bikes have been sent to Nicaragua, Ghana, Moldova, Sierra Leone and Guatemala to help people take part in their local economy. Over 118, 000 bikes have been donated since 1991.

Please donate only 2 wheelers, without rust and no tricycles. Flat tires and in need of some repair are accepted. Pedals for Progress also collects sewing machines, which have been distributed in El Salvador, Uganda and Jamaica, as well. Only sewing machines in working condition are accepted.

Pedals for Progress is a nonprofit organization based in High Bridge, N.J., that has collected bikes to send overseas for the past 18 years. David Schweidenback, president of Pedals for Progress, referred to the recycling chain of the bikes as a "transfer of wealth between nations." Learn about the NJ Based non-profit charity, Pedals for Progress, the world's largest recycler of used bicycles. Bikes and donations are tax deductible. It takes $28 to ship one bike overseas, so please include a $10 donation to defray shipping costs.

Summer Collection Schedule for bike drives around the state.
Review their current partner locations
Organize a Pedals for Progress Bike Drive in your community.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Lens is the photojournalism blog of The New York Times, presenting the most interesting visual and multimedia reporting — photographs, videos and slide shows. A showcase for Times photographers, it also seeks to highlight the best work of other newspapers, magazines and news and picture agencies; in print, in books, in galleries, in museums and from around the Web. And it will draw on The Times's own pictorial archive, numbering in the millions of images and going back to the early 20th century.

Go to Lens

Friday, May 08, 2009

Clay Shirky: Wikipedia and Seeds for Transforming Capitalism?

I just finished reading three chapters of Clay Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. I think Shirky just might gives us a possible site to think about how capitalism can be altered through the Wikipedia model of doing good — just for the sake of it. No monetary remuneration. He makes a compelling argument for exactly why Wikipedia is revolutionary and human beings have the power to be the same. He goes on to explain that we are living through the most "human expressive period in history." The potential to alter life as we know it through collective action, participation and organization that in turn gathers knowledge, distribution and speed to make change. Group action.

Shirky explains that wikis are only worth their salt if people care about them, and that "a wiki is a hybrid of tool and community."Experts, professionals and amateurs alike make additions and corrections to Wikipedia out of the pure love, enjoyment and for betterment of everyone who uses it around the world. I repeat. They don't get paid to do it. Isn't that the old adage we've all heard— to do great work you have to do what you love? Somewhere in Shirky's book is a balance between working collectively, making change, doing it in a nearly effortless manner and loving it.

Protest Culture -- Ad Hoc vs Institutional, and What it Means (Event Video/Audio) Clay Shirky joined an intimate group at the Berkman Center for a deep dive discussion on one chapter of his book, Here Comes Everybody, which deals with protest culture -- ad hoc vs institutional, and what it means.

Friday, May 01, 2009


Today, May 1st at Union Square in NYC at noon.

It's crucial that everyone; immigrants, trade unionists, youth, the unemployed, the foreclosed and all progressive forces come out in support of May Day to demand humane immigration reform end of raids and deportations, and money for people not war, prisons or
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detentions.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


In light of recent news about the suicide of David Kellermann, 41, acting Chief Financial Officer for Freddie Mac, this morning ABC News also reported that phone calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline had increased in the past months.

Considering this, please save-the-date for The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Central New Jersey Chapter who will be hosting their 6th Annual Central Jersey/New Brunswick Out of the Darkness Community Walk on October 4th. Registration is now open for the event— taking steps to help save lives. Walk to raise awareness and to honor a loved one.

Visit the web site for the Out of the Darkness Community Walk

If you have any questions email

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Capping Carbon...

What Is Cap and Trade?
It's the policy that stopped acid rain. The Environmental Defense Fund's goal is to apply the same principles to stop climate change:

Cap: Limit carbon emissions
Trade: Get environmental results at lowest cost


The "cap" sets a nationwide limit on emissions, which is lowered over time to reduce the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere. The "trade" creates a market for carbon allowances, helping companies innovate in order meet, or come in under, their allocated limit. The less they emit, the less they pay, so it is in their economic incentive to pollute less.

Find out more about carbon capping

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


A short video produced by FedEx took top honors in the first annual Corporate Citizenship Film Festival organized by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship in coordination with their Corporate Citizenship Conference, Leading Change, Finding Opportunity held March 29th to the 31st in San Francisco. The FedEx video demonstrated how the company uses its transportation and logistical skills to meet the needs of communities around the world. The video powerfully demonstrated the value of moving vital relief supplies into communities following humanitarian crisis such as the Chengdu earthquake. The film also featured community groups and a broad range of FedEx employees working together with the common goal of making a positive impact during difficult situations.

Rose Flenorl, FedEx’s manager of social responsibility, accepted the award for the company at the 2009 International Corporate Citizenship conference in San Francisco and said “As a corporate citizen, we are committed to building stronger communities through volunteerism, corporate donations, charitable shipping and sponsorships with major charities. Our story is a salute to the amazing work of nonprofit organizations and our FedEx team members who are making an incredible impact in the lives of people worldwide.”

This is the first year of the Boston College film festival, and there 15,000 votes cast in the competition. Judging by the comments, it was apparent that a good percentage of the voter were cast by “average citizens” who came across the film festival through a variety of paths and were simply gratified to see companies’ good works in their communities. Companies that entered their work in the film festival were: Accenture, Aetna, Allstate, Amway, AT&T, Bank of America, Best Buy, Campbell Soup Company, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, Hitachi, Intel, Mars North America, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Pitney Bowes, PricewaterhouseCoopers, UPS, Western Union and Whirlpool.

The videos can be viewed online at the Boston College Center website. Each video is between 1 and 3 minutes in length and captures each company's positive impact, typically in partnership with nonprofits, customers and employees, on social and environmental challenges.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


"Advertising wants to become the air we breath. It wants us to not be able to find a way outside of the world it creates for us." ~~Mark Crispin Miller, Media Critic ~~

The producers of the film "Merchants of Cool" developed the film "The Persuaders" which outlines how consumers are now being sold on products through the use of emotionalism, narrow casting and niche marketing. In order to cut through the tremendous media clutter, companies and advertising agencies are scrambling to find ways to get us to purchase things...anything and everything. Very much like Steven Baker's book, Numerati, this film explains the future of selling and advertising and how companies seek to differentiate, not just the brands but the audience. By playing on individuality, companies are inducing Americans to consume while reinforcing their emotional attachment to the brands. This film was made several years ago prior to the current economic crisis but it surely illustrates the direction that political and consumer advertising will be taking in the near future. Concepts discussed in the film range from product placements, creating brands as cultural meaning systems to language decoding and testing—all to sell us on political ideas or material consumption.

Watch the Frontline film online.

Printed Interviews:
Mark Crispin Miller

Naomi Klein on Brands

The future of marketing and advertising

Stay abreast of the issues of commercialism

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Will NBC continue with Brian William's 2 minutes worth of good news?

Hallelujah. Have you caught this? It's been a week and it sounds like they're getting millions of responses from ordinary people who are doing good things around the country in what appears to be random acts of kindness. Apparently the idea came from William's wife and in blog-like style for the past week, at the end of the 6:30 broadcast up pops a little blue "making a difference box" with a few good things that Brian Williams reads. They send out a camera crew for some stories in an effort, I HOPE to finally perpetrate good, rather than the usual bad that we see on the evening news. Of course it still needs to be constructed within the subject of the "economy," but I think it's a good start. Do you think they will keep this feature at the end of the broadcast for longer than a week?

Here's their request: We are always looking for good news, especially in this economy. Specifically, here's our request: nominate people who are doing good things where you live or work...perhaps a random or regular act of kindness in a cruel economy.

Add your story and keep good news alive on television!

Friday, February 20, 2009


The New York Times recently ran an article, What Convergence? TV's Hesitant March to the NET, about how we aren't going to see the Internet on television screens any time soon. This boils my blood. Ok, I'm probably one of the few who is chomping at the bit to get the Internet on the fabulous flat screen TV we have in our family room. Since we purchased and installed the TV sometime last year I have been dismayed over the fact that although the TV is great with high definition (HD) content, anything produced prior to HD is blurry and low quality at best. Albeit it's large and we can see the TV from a great distance, but three fourths of all content is not HD, so the quality is mediocre. Ok so I'm getting used to this fact. The public has been sold on how great the TV's are, but we also have to purchase other media devices, all which don't work together. And according to the New York Times article, spokespeople from SONY and Sharp basically think people don't care to get the Internet on their televisions. I'm pretty sure that people would like to be able to multi-task, and search the Internet to gain a multitude of media at the same time as watching the broadcast programming.

The TV manufacturers don't want to deal with all the problems that come with the concept. According to the New York Times article, mainly viruses. These companies have made money from the multiple devices that we have in our homes. If we have one large screen at home that does it all, that will begin to cut out the need for multiple devices like stereos, movie download devices, DVD players, etc all which will cut down profit. But, that seems like short term thinking. With media the opportunity for innovation and profit is wide open. So what's the problem? According to Convergence Culture, Where Old and New Media Collide, by MIT Professor, Henry Jenkins, "Delivery technologies become obsolete and get replaced; media, on the other hand, evolve. Recorded sound is the medium. CDs, MP3 files and 8-track cassettes are delivery technologies."

Media is a cultural production and a business. Every type of media whether we see it on a hand-held device, a PC or on a large screen television will continue to evolve. As Jenkins explains, "The perpetual tangle of cords that stands between me and my "home entertainment" center reflects the degree of incompatibility and dysfunction that exist between the media technologies...The old idea of convergence was that all devices would converge into one central device that did everything for you (a la the universal remote). What we are now seeing is the hardware diverging while the content converges."

Media content is growing and can be found everywhere. In window displays, digital billboards on the Turnpike, digital displays in elevators, at the grocery store and in train stations. We are watching a redefining of culture that is shifting all around, us every day. We are inside and outside of it, whether we are producing or consuming it. Media never stops converging, regardless of the devices available to incorporate the media we want to produce and consume. While the device manufacturers and technology companies try to sort it all out, consumers will continue to seek and use the media they want and work-around the devices. Anyway, a few months ago we were at a friend's house who had a device that allowed Internet browsing on a flat screen TV. I was very disappointed to realize that the text was so tiny it was impossible to read unless you were a foot away from the screen. Images were great, text not so great. I generally sit about 9 to 14 feet away from the TV. Oh well. I'm fine with my large computer screen.

Monday, February 09, 2009


For many of us, Scholastic's book clubs played an important role in our childhood by providing the opportunity to purchase low-cost, high-quality literature in schools. We remember the excitement of thumbing through the monthly flyers to make our selections and the thrill when our orders arrived.

But something has changed. Scholastic's book clubs have become a Trojan horse for marketing toys, trinkets, and electronic media-many of which promote popular brands. A review by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) of Scholastic's elementary and middle school book clubs found that one-third of the items for sale are either not books or are books packaged with other items such as jewelry and toys.

CCFC reviewed every item in Scholastic's 2008 monthly Lucky (for grades 2-3) and Arrow (grades 4-6) book club flyers. Of the items advertised, 14% were not books, including the M&M's Kart Racing Wii videogame; a remote control car; the American Idol event planner; ("Track this season of American Idol"); the Princess Room Alarm ("A princess needs her privacy!"); a wireless controller for the PS2 gaming system; a make-your-own flip flops kit ("hang out at the pool in style"); and the Monopoly® SpongeBob SquarePants™ Edition computer game. An additional 19% of the items were books that were marketed with additional toys, gadgets, or jewelry. For example, the book Get Rich Quick is sold with a dollar-shaped money clip ("to hold all your new cash!"); the Friends 4 Ever Style Pack consists of a book and two lip gloss rings; and Hannah Montana: Seeing Green comes with a guitar pick bracelet.

The opportunity to sell directly to children in schools is not a right. It's a privilege - and an extremely profitable one at that. Last year, Scholastic's book clubs generated $336.7 million in revenue.

It's bad enough that so many of the books sold by Scholastic are de-facto promotions for media properties like High School Musical and SpongeBob. But there's no justification for marketing an M&M videogame or lip gloss in elementary schools. Teachers should not be enlisted as sales agents for products that have little or no educational value and compete with books for children's attention and families' limited resources. If Scholastic wants to maintain their unique commercial access to young students, they need to do better.

In the past Scholastic listened to the concerns of parents. When 5,000 wrote to them demanding that they stop promoting the highly sexualized Bratz brand in schools, they discontinued their Bratz line. It's time to consider the danger of Scholastic's marketing and promotion practices in schools and voice your concerns.

Visit the CCFC website to let Scholastic know it's time to return to selling books - and only books - through their in-school book clubs.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Embrace Change: Redesign the Oval Office

Have an interest in designing President Obama's Oval Office? Here's your chance. Ikea the Swedish furniture company has created fun drag and drop furniture to place inside an illustrated Oval Office. The site actually allows you to change color and rotate the furniture too. You can even share your email with a secret service man. I'm not sure a canopy bed, piano or bunkbeds make sense in any office, but certainly Ikea's great design and economical DYI prices may not be a bad way to help "Embrace Change."

"We have never had an opportunity to do anything surrounding the message of change from a national standpoint," says Ikea PR manager Marty Marston, "[Obama's] notion of change and his commitment to fiscal responsibility match the Ikea philosophy of practical and affordable home furnishings for all."

Gotta love the little dog and mat. Very creative!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Exploiting Media-George Monbot's Way

For the last few months I've been working on an advocacy video. I thought it was especially ironic that today while reading a guide for using media and research for advocacy: low cost ways to increase success, that I happened to find a case study from George Monbiot. I wasn't familiar with Monbiot's work, but he certainly has produced a succinct and straight-forward activists guide to exploiting the media.  He should know. He started his career in the BBC's Natural History Unit as a radio producer and he's a contributor to the Guardian with a series called Monbiot Meets. Here's the ironic part. Just as I'm reading Debra Efroymson's media and research for advocacy guide with Monbiot's case study, up pops an email with my daily digest from the Real News Network. The subject header: George Monbiot Challenges Chief Executive of Shell. Well of course that made me curious. The activist/journalist/producer is doing exactly what he tells others to do. Get up and act. Although Shell Oil is happy to advertise their commitment to renewable energy they are not terribly transparent about exactly what that commitment is. Monbiot finds Shell exploiting the media for their own selfish interests. Advocates take heed. As Mobiot explains in his activist guide it's all part of  'news management.'  See Monbiot in action.  

Do download Using Media and Research for Advocacy:  Low Cost Ways to Increase Success. It's one of the best and most comprehensive guides on the topic that I've read.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire: Mesmerizing Story and Film

Writing. One writes when they get inspired. I've been inspired by Slumdog Millionaire. What a fantastic film. I loved it. I think it's also a terrific film to break down and analyze. I'm not going to do that now, but I think this is the kind of film that would be very good for teachers and the classroom.

Just in case you haven't heard critics talk, or read anything about Slumdog Millionaire, here's the basic story-line. Jamal Malik, a young man from the slums of India appears as a player on India's version (which looks exactly like the US version) of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. We see Jamal as a boy growing up with his brother Salim and true love, Latika—all orphans who make their way from the slums into adulthood through thievery and gang activity. The brother's mother dies early on in Muslim raids, leaving her children to fend for themselves. But, they turn out to be very scrappy kids.

The story creatively unfolds through torture, then dialogue with a local police inspector who has been told by Millionaire's host that he believes Jamal cheated in order to win. Slowly we see that Jamal's answers came from his youth-filled experiences as he and his brother tried their best to survive without parental guidance. Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire's director was interviewed by Gotham Chopra and I was struck by a simple thought he brought forward. It was the same thought that struck me after my visit to a Zambian community. Humans can do much with very little. In fact, we don't need to have much more than the basics. Food, clean water, a roof over our heads and safety. Our Zambian driver told us exactly that. As Americans we often forget that we don't need much to be happy.

Slumdog has many elements that I personally enjoy in a film. Beautiful cinematography and an interesting story—one I've not seen or heard before. Well developed, real, human characters. A culture that is especially exotic and exciting. I am so interested in visiting India now. This film is full of eye-popping symbolism and metaphor that can keep you thinking for days after watching it. It reminds you that life is not easy no matter who you are, where you live or how much money you have. It is impossible to go through life without challenges, problems, and the ups-and-downs of daily living. We all go through it. But, this film shows us the possibilities for happiness. With all the negativity that we see daily, on screens of every size, it is refreshing to witness an upliftingly positive story. We need to be reminded often.

"India has an "upward energy...moving toward happiness."
Danny Boyle