Sunday, March 29, 2009

Amnesty International PSA by Leo Burnett /Lisbon

Not much to say about this public service announcement except I doubt that you will see it on American television or any of the new digital channels. Might interrupt that infomercial flow.



Then again, you would need to know a little something about history to understand the point of the PSA. A lot of the context of the PSA was not listed as a questions on the No Child Left Behind tests.

For more info on what you can do to make the world a better place visit Amnesty International.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Walking and the F-Cell Hydrogen Car

The sun is coming down but it is still a good day. I walked around town and took a few photos. I really miss walking around and seeing stuff. It is and therapeutic for me. I was walking around Pasadena and across the street from the Pasadena Museum of Art there was this car:

Full Cell Car by Daimler
Naturally I stop and check it out. I like the size and the fact that you can park it anywhere, which in the L.A. area is no small thing. I don't know much about cars and even less about hydrogen fuel except what I was exposed to in science fiction movies.

I was snapping some shots when the owner came out of the gym around the corner from the museum. He was very nice and we started talking about the car. The owner said that he gets about 120 miles before he has to refuel. That's is ok for small condensed areas but not for bumping all over Los Angeles. This is a prototype car and it might be another six years before they are ready for the market place.

He gave me a flyer and we said our goodbyes. If you want to know more about the car and hydrogen fuel you can go to the F-Cell web page where you can download a .pdf and read up on the vehicle.

Now not to pick a scab or anything but if I were them I'd move this research to the head of the line. Yes, I know gas is cheap right now but I know it isn't going to stay this artificially low forever.

Mainly cuz we don't have a lot more dinosaur juice left in the ground. Ok, I know petroleum doesn't come from from dinosaurs. Wait, I don't know if that is true or not. I don't know anything about petroleum except for very limited examples in my home.

My point is keep the alternatives and the prototypes coming. Give me transportation options designed for my area and for the world as a whole. Yeah. That is what I wanted to say. Innovation, keep it coming.

Hey, somebody in the neighborhood has lit up their BBQ grill. Naw, car first and hydrogen BBQ grill later.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young on the Finally Friday Freakout

Reality isn't what it use to be. It never was. One time my reality was of things and people that did not exist. They kept me sane until I could step out on my own. Batman, The Monkees, The Avengers. If there were super powers involved I was good to go.

Sometime a person can be fed up to here with reality that they seek illusion. This week two scenes from an movie illusion posing as reality. Once upon a time there was a movie called Streets of Fire.  It came out in 1984 and got it trashed by the critics. It also had the misfortune of being released at the same time as Star Trek, The Search for Spock.   It didn’t do very well in the U.S. and hit the vapors quick.

Many years later I’m in a record store or maybe it was Woolworth’s and I see the cassette selling real cheap. I take a chance because I recognized some of the names. Damn fine soundtrack.  Later on I see a chopped up version on local TV but I still haven’t got a clue.  Here is what I know. I know I wore that tape out, especially on long bus rides home from dead end jobs in the dark of night.

This is a movie with a kick ass soundtrack. It is a movie by Walter Hill with excellent visuals and a great cast. I won’t know if it is a good movie or not until I get the DVD later this week. This is the scene from the movie – SPOILER ALERT - if you plan to watch the movie stop here and I’ll catch you next week.

Reality – The actress is Diane Lane.

Illusion: She is lip syncing to a vocal performance by Holly Sherwood. The name of the song is Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young.

You might have know the name Dan Hartman. Number of hits in the 1980’s.  One of his songs “I Can Dream About You” in also in this movie.

Reality: The actors who portray The Sorels dance but do not sing.

Illusion: Neither does Dan Hartman. In the movie, the vocals were handled by Winston Ford.

Reality: The commercial released version of the song is recorded and performed by Dan Hartman. I can’t embed the video but you can check out the and pay your respects to Dan who passed away a few years ago.

If you would like more info on this cult film that will probably be hail as an under appreciated classic you can check out the Wikipedia page. Now I’m not saying the movie is great. The television station chopped it up so bad I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on.  On Roger Ebert’s site you might find the only positive review of the movie from a movie critic at that time.

The music? Might-y fine, with a special shout out to Maria McKee’s Never Be You.

Later, Gater.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sister Aimee, Demon Rum and Finding Our Way– Part 3

Aimee Semple McPherson was a woman that is a cultural touch point to the future by reflecting her time and place in the world. Looking through the lens of Women’s History Month Sister Aimee provides an interesting way to look at survival during the Great Depression and what a determined woman can do if she is called to her purpose and follows it full steam.

18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – Prohibition and Depression Don’t Mix

Prohibition was the law of the land. The intent of the amendment was honorable. The execution of the law was unenforceable. 

I can safely speak for a relative or two in my family, mainly because they are dead. The Revenue man on the job has also been permanently retired. I can almost hear the conversation on the back porch; “What? Leave cash money in ground when we can set up a (Moonshine) Still for next to nothing?” Sister Aimee knew what she was up against. This is a brief video of her feelings and beliefs about prohibition before she leaves on a trip:

Making liquor was risky, dangerous and, depending on the recipe, it could kill you if you got the wrong batch of hooch.  But there was money to be made selling, sneaking and delivering liquor to Americans during the depression. By land, sea and basement Moonshine Still Americans were trying to take the sting out of being busted broke.

In 2009 parallels can be seen in the growth of hydroponic marijuana farms in upscale neighborhoods, state parks and federal land. I am not condoning this type of activity but I’d be a fool not to acknowledge that for some people who are financially desperate marijuana distribution is a dangerous means of acquiring money.

Casey Gain-McCalla posting at Jack and Jill Politics writes about legalization and advertising of marijuana as a means to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Of course people can talk about the affect marijuana will have on the country. Will it become a zombie state like reefer madness? A nation of Beevis and Buttheads? While I have seen several of my marijuana smoking colleagues become doctors lawyers, stock brokers and politicians, it is true that several people I know turned to burnt out weed head couch potatoes. If marijuana was legalized people could have open and honest discussions about marijuana with counselors and doctors.

Mountain Girl hipped me to a Time magazine article about the possibility of California considering legalizing marijuana as a tax base and cash crop and She read a statement before a judge as to why marijuana should be legalized. One of her reasons is:

I contend that the risk of marijuana use is equal to the risk of alcohol use and should be treated in the same manner.

Personally, I really don’t want to ride a Metro bus with an overly relaxed driver. Some of the drivers are crusty and non-customer service orientated. However they are the most skillfully alert drivers in some of the most challenging motoring on this side of the Pacific.

Now if we could get our heads out of the sand about Hemp, I think we’d have safer and more interesting product choices. I think on a personal and industrial scale this could be a viable growth industry. For example, Bryanna Clark Brogan writes about making Multi-Grain Hemp Pancakes” for her vegan blog Notes from the Vegan Fest Kitchen.  Clara at Earth Day gives her pitch as to why growing Hemp is environmentally the right thing to do.

Women Entrepreneurship from the Ground Up

In the Great Depression as now crime does pay; if you are rich enough, don’t get caught or shot dead first. Not everyone was on the take but people did what they had to do.

Women like my paternal grandmother provided “Fish Fry” sandwiches and dinners. For example, if juiced party goers got the munchies after attending a dance or Speakeasy they needed someplace to go for good cheap food. My grandmother provided that meal for a price.

Yes, she indirectly benefited from illegal activities but committed no crime. She also put food on the table and a home for her family. Other folks in need of income had sliding scales of ethics on what they would and would not do to survive.

So what do women do now? Certainly we write, blog and create a variety of products, good and services. Many women such are doing what Green is the New Black is doing, selling her unwanted/unused items on eBay in order to build up her emergency fund. Budgets Are Sexy is thinking about selling T-shirts that promo her blog? I think the point of her post is that from a creative activity like silk screening she was inspired to start thinking about how she could apply it to generate interest to her blog and possible money flow.

Crafters and the people that love buying one of a kind crafts are hanging out at Etsy or marketing their goods and services on websites and blogs.

Using Technology to Enhance Communication and Networking

Sister Aimee was one of the first women to implement a mega-church concept. She built & created the Angelus Temple church in Los Angeles. Aimee understood that she was selling salvation and for that you needed a 5,000 seat church designed as a theater.

Sister Aimee was also one of the first women to apply for an FCC radio license. Sister Aimee was one of the first televangelists to broadcast her program. McPherson also marketed publications for sale and made use of every available media to reach the un-holy, downtrodden and any sinner that drew a breath.

Sister Aimee was an early pioneer of women creating and self publishing their own work. Aimee McPherson had her own distribution network and could also tap into her network of worshippers and volunteers. For more information about Aimee Semple McPherson visit her page on the California Trails site at the California Museum.  The University of Virginia also has a great deal of information about the 1930 on their American Studies page.

What We Can Learn From Aimee Semple McPherson?

  1. Believe in yourself and your crazy ideas.
  2. Stay true to your beliefs. For Sister Aimee it was spreading the Word and not being swayed by popular opinions. She followed her internal compass. Sometimes her compass was faulty and got her into trouble. Sister Aimee usually found her way back to her center point.
  3. Take advantage of the resources that you have before you. For Aimee it started with her using voice. Later it expanded into revival meetings, radio, interviews and creating and distributing her publications.
  4. Technology rock! Learn as much or a little as you need but be willing to try something different. It can literally transform your life. And by technology I don’t necessarily mean all things electronic. There may be an old technology that might suit you just fine or can be adapted to the 21st century.
  5. Network with other people and ladies, please fill out your BlogHer profiles! Some of you have blogs we’d love to visit but we can’t find you. 

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Float On on the Finally Friday Freakout

Ah, yeah… the jam of jams; the one that get the arm wiggles woggles to sway in time with the music. It has been a week of anger both symbolic and justified. Then again I see the positive that whole sections of the country did not take to the streets but make their collective distaste known. This is a good thing. AIG and Congress knows we are beyond pissed.

Other corporation are starting to decline government bail out money. Not enough to count but it is a start. I’m ticked that I couldn’t see the Prez but I couldn’t get behind the Orange Curtain and I didn’t know where in L.A. he was gonna speak so, hey another day, another AIG dollar.

The weekend is in sight. We have to let it go. Put the anger aside; it will be stinking fresh on Monday when the new outrage will occur. Or not. So I had to find something that I could dance to sitting in the chair or on my feet.

I present to you The Floaters and their timeless classic, Float On

I loved this song because there were choices. I am not for the dude that wants his woman quiet. Forget him and moving on to candidate #2, #3 and #4. And although it is the short version it does take the sting out of a tiresome week when women are disrespecting other women in order to gain national prominence. It is one of sadness that a moment in time can change or end your life.

Seems I have have the need for one more golden dusty. Let me see, ah yes, this will do. Couple lads that used to hang out around Broad & Columbia for a bit of time. A dandy tune Rich Girl that could be converter into a protest song,

"Your a rich corp, and you've gone too far

but you know it don't matter any way.

You can rely on Old Sam's money,

you can rely but it sure smells funny... “

Well, I got to work out the rest of the parody lyrics, I might get around to it after I dance to a couple more songs.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shhs Don't Tell TJ - Tribute by Carl's Fine Films

There is a Whole Paycheck store and a Trader Joe's near me. Now I do like some parts of Whole Paycheck aka Whole Foods. It is a big store. It has lots and lots of food. Lots of very expensive food. Some of it tasty. If I can get out of there with 5 or more items under $20 it is a good day. I stop in about once every three months or so.

Then there is Trader Joe's. Two Buck Chuck (for the time being, there are rumors) Indian food in a box for $1.99 and that cool Greek Yogurt with the Honey (not the store brand,sorry TJ).

Anyway, why type the praises when you can watch the video, not mine because TJ does not allow cameras in the store. Not that it would stop me if I was so inclined.

No rules were broken because the unauthorized but inspirational commercial was shot on Palm Treo, which is a PDA and a cell phone and might have other stuff on it. I don't know.



Dear retail store managers, Sometimes your customers really like your store. Sometimes we tell others that we really like your store. I know that you have been burned by TV news crews in the past. I also know that if someone records something that should not be sold for consumption then attention must be paid. Fair is fair.

Anyway, if you could ease up on being freaked out if you see a camera/camcorder in the store us creative types would really appreciate it. You might get a nice tribute video like this one. Target has some cookies on it shelf that rock and I'd endorse those suckers in a heartbeat. Not naming names because this is about TJ and not Target.

Yo, TJ could you please stock up on cases of Blood Orange soda? Oh, and bring back that non-alcoholic Ginger Beer? That was the best ginger ale I ever had and it has been long gone from the shelf.

Hey, almost forgot. You had a Lamb Mediterranean meal for that was the bomb. It seems to have been replaced by the non-meat Mediterranean which is still cool and I'll eat it but the Lamb one was very tasty. I know times are tight. I'm noticing some changes in the pot stickers but all in all no complaints.

Ok, some of your customers have got to learn how to drive in the parking lot but that is not your fault. Anyway keep the Basil coming and I'll be in soon.

Open Video Conference - NYC June 19-20

As we prepare to step into our futures you should know that folks are working on ways to make creating video content easier, open and accessible. I have to tell you that DTV ain't doing it for me. Every time I give it a try I have 60 channels of infomercials and weather.

Bah! Collectively we can and have made better content.

Now there are multiple approaches to this from the technology itself, not using commercial/licensed software, the ability to share across video platforms (DV, computer video formats, operating systems, cell phone video and yadda, yadda yad-da.) and devising ways to make the process easier for the average creator.



If any of this is ringing your chimes check out the video by Jay and Ryanne:

Some day it will be as easy as opening and closing a refrigerator door. Until that time people are talking, thinking and creating tools and systems to move closer to that day.

For more information about the conference you can visit http://openvideoconference.org

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Finding Women Voices in the Depression/Recession – Part Two

It is Women’s History Month. One thing that is absent from the financial discussions of the past is how did women cope? I think of that time with images of flappers dancing, bread lines and hundreds of men on Wall Street looking solemn. Yet there were women in America in 1929. They are invisible on a surface level but our great-grandmothers and grandmother do have information for their children’s children.

How Did Folks Know What Was Happening?

Well it was hard to hide the fact that 25% of the population was unemployed or displaced. Between the environmental problems of The Dust Bowl and the failure of at least 4,000 or more banks word got around. What jobs there were paid low wages. Some business exploited workers by working them excessive hours.

In 1929 there was newspapers, radio and movies, President Roosevelt made use of both radio and the newsreels to convey his messages. You can listen to him explain in 1933 what the government was doing about the banking crisis or watch a 1933 newsreel video about moving forward toward fairer wages and labor. 

I have to be honest here, there was a lot of propaganda swinging both ways in most public media, the journalistic ethics thing had not fully kicked in yet. The citizens at the time would have behaved as we did. Many ignored the warnings or thought it was partisanship at best. Some stood by their current President,  Herbert Hoover, who expressed Republican beliefs of capitalism, meaning that government should not be involved in the process of commerce any more than necessary.

Perhaps Herbert got a partially bum rap. He felt that charities and the private sector should have step in to assist Americans. Some did, most did nothing or could not handle the amount of people needing assistance.  Hoover did act and implemented assistance programs to help farmers, businesses and public works projects; the same as Roosevelt.  There were limits to what he felt he could do. He honored his beliefs but at what cost?

In 2009 we no longer have movie newsreels but 24 hour TV news networks, the Internet and social media. Yes there is radio but it is no longer a unifying source of information.  What has remained the same is only when the crisis came knocking on an American’s specific door did most Americans paid attention and start to ask questions.  What has also stayed the same is the consistent carping on the role of government to aid or impede the recovery process. Well enough about the men folk.

How Did Women Adapt and Cope 1929?

According to the U.S. Census in 1920 there were 123,202,624 people in the country. The earnings of the average American were low to begin with and most were just making it before the depression. In 1935 the majority of Americans made between $250 and $2,500 a year. They weren’t big spenders.  By necessity most Americans were already frugal. They were now being joined by portions of the former middle class. People had to be resourceful or go hungry.

If you were already broke or poor it made living more difficult but you probably had the basic skills to handle the situation. David Griner’s great aunt keep a daily diary of her life as a teenager during the depression. He has transferred it into a Twitter feed. Genny Spencer seemed to have lived a normal life on the farm. Writer Errol Ury has a page on his website of young people who did and did not survive the Great Depression easily. There is a collection of photographs and historical text about how rough the road and rails were for teens.

At the Norfolk Women’s Oral History Project you can read an interview of a “Senior Citizen” who speaks honestly of what was really going on in her life at the time.

Interviewer: Umm -- What kind of clubs or social gatherings did you go to?

Senior Citizen: None. No. No. Well, I'll tell you. My first husband was very active in the Republican Party and he participated in things like that. But when President Roosevelt was running, I think the first time. No, that's right. Because it was in '32. He wanted me - Mrs. Roosevelt was coming to a place not to far from where we lived. So, he wanted me to meet her. And I did. And she was absolutely a lovely, most charming person that one could ever meet. Gracious. And she made you feel like she had known you which is a marvelous, marvelous quality in a person. I only said, "How, do you do? I'm so glad I had this opportunity to meet you", and she said, I'm so glad you are here With -- you know -- and consider my husband if your going to vote. By the way, that was the first time and last time I voted. Of course, I voted Hoover.

Interviewer: You didn't vote for him (FDR)?

Senior Citizen: MMm-hmm!

Many women were traditional homemakers, or if single, lived with the family. Some, like Mayme Reese took comfort in quilting or crafting activities. When the depression hit everybody did what they had to do to survive. Some women couldn’t wait for their husbands to get around to it. Elizabeth Miller needed to have a butchered hog moved inside to be salted. You can read and hear a portion of her interview. Alice Caudle was a mill worker who was interviewed in 1938 by the Federal Writer’s Project. In the recording that is also transcribed at the web site, she talks about how she loved her job.

At the Library of the City University of New York there is a web slide presentation. It explains some of the ways that women survived such as:

  • Buying day old bread
  • Relining coat with old blankets
  • Feeding your family on $5 a week, if you had that much.

Jobs, food and shelter were the main focus of living but keeping your family and yourself entertained was jus as important. The radio was the lifeline. The film industry concentrated on producing products that lifted the nations sprits, such as musicals or gangster movies that you could immerse yourself in just bit of the good life before justice or the next day of looking for work caught up with you.

How Are Women Adapting and Coping 2009?

Thirty Five By Nine has a post up on collecting and using depression era cookbooks. You might have to re-adjust your thinking. I’d lean toward eating vegetarian before I’d eat a squirrel. I’ve seen the squirrels in my neighborhood and they just don’t appeal to me. The cookbooks also assumed a certain level of cooking skills that many modern women do not have; such as canning. For a slightly more contemporary approach it seems that everybody is paying attention to Clara on her YouTube Channel on Depression era cooking.

Over at Mommy and Mami are counting blessings. One has lost her job but can survive in a low rent and dicey neighborhood. She loves Oakland but has an opportunity to move to a new area for the same costs of her current place.  It is networking and having connections you did not know you had. Do you take the chance or do you stay put with what you know?

Some bloggers are reaching back and forward at the same time. Uppity Women08 has images of the signs or marking the hobos used to mark on a fence or road sign to let others know to knock on the door or keep moving. She also has an open post on “poverty recipes” contributed by her readers. Some real recipes and some well, seem to be politically inspired in the opposite of left direction.

I’m guessing by the image at the top of the post that Uppity and some of her visitors do not care for the current administration. That’s fine, I dang sure did not care for the prior occupation. But just so they know, there are no more paper food stamps. It is now an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) process.

Employment support or emotional un-employment support is very important. Keeps folks from thinking really bad thoughts. Coleen Canney has some tips to offer the ex-worker. Mrs. Mordecai’s husband is taking a pay cut but is still working and they are grateful. Molly Mac is a writer who is getting to know the unemployment office a little too well for her taste.

I guess we are doing the same things, passing on what we know, helping when we can and relieving the pressure with a bit of humor or a touch of music. 

Gena Haskett is Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Videoblogging Week Is Coming - We Need Women!

Yes, it is almost that time again when vloggers do their thing for 7 straight days. Anything goes and usually does. Josh Leo has the Videoblogging 2009 vlog up. But something is missing. Actually someone has been missing in large numbers.

Videoblogging 2009 Poster

Women! I don't have time for my usually long winded rant but we need more women with cameras, camcorders and whatever you got to tell your stories. I'm off to the Salt Mine but when I get back I'll have more info for you on how to jump in and at the very least claim your day to post a video. One, just one and if you like it maybe another one or two or twenty.

Emotional Rollercoaster on the Finally Friday Freakout

Yes, indeed life can turn you into confusion central. You think you got it scope out. You are clear on your intent and words. Bam, up jumps the reality you cannot turn away from. It is in your face, in your eyes and your back is up against the wall. No room for lies or self deception. This is it.

I mention no celebrities or people in the news. I mention no woman who was just found dead caused by a spouse or domestic partner. I ain't even talking about the women who have learned to be silent in order to keep the peace in the household because it is easier than catching the back hand of hell. Not that it will stop it from coming. It is a delay tactic at best.

Before I get rolling on this topic you should know that the performer in the video is Vivian Green and this name of the song is Emotional Rollercoaster.



So long as there is a foot on the throat of a single women we will all be damned. What shames us is that so many have asked heart breaking questions like, "What did she do?" or "You know those skirts were kinda short, she was asking for it?" or "She should have just shut up, she took it too far and this is what you get."

And no fellas, I'm not leaving you out of the picture. I know that some of you have been assaulted by women as well.

Educated women have said these things. Hood Rats have said these things. Women who have been beat within an inch of their lives have said these things. Women who don't know just how the use of power can blind a woman to her rightful nature as a human being. It is not love if he beats you like an enemy combatant. True love does not leave bruise marks on your soul.

There is an old line that Black men use to say to Black women. " I do you like I do you cuz I thought you could take it."

In the old days that line was sometimes met by Black women with hot grease, oatmeal in the lap or the ringing chimes of a cast iron skillet. I am not advocating violence, except in the case of self-defense. I'm just telling you what was tolerated and what was not. Let it be know, that I have two cast iron skillets, a really big one and a small camping one.

I know my history. It will not be repeated.

I write this not for the victims. But for the people that asked the questions that hurt. They do not understand the deadly seriousness of domestic and partner violence. For people that are taking up sides when in fact this is a multi-layered problem. I write this for people who think it is a man's prerogative to make a woman suffer because it is his god given rights.

No. it is not. It is a crime when the first slap, punch or kick is delivered.

I write this for those misguided and misinformed people that believe that a woman should be punished if she did something wrong is acceptable.

No. Never. It is and always has been wrong.

If you know somebody like that read them a page of two from one of the resources listed. Start to move the conversation away from dehumanizing to coming to consciousness. Save a mind. Save a life.

Resources:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Queen Rainia on Educating Women

Sometimes all you have to do is convey your words plain and simple. It will take me a life time to be this succinct. One day at a time. In the meantime, no matter where you are on the planet do your best to insure that women continue to have access to education.



Don't be smug if you live in a western country. We have functional and non-functional illiterate people. The costs to the society is immense. Covertly or overtly teach or share what you know.

It is Women’s History Month. One thing that is absent from the financial discussions of the past is how did women cope? I think of that time with images of flappers dancing, bread lines and hundreds of men on Wall Street looking solemn. Yet there were women in America in 1929. They are invisible on a surface level but our great-grandmothers and grandmother do have information for their children’s children.

How Did Folks Know What Was Happening?

Well it was hard to hide the fact that 25% of the population was unemployed or displaced. Between the environmental problems of The Dust Bowl and the failure of at least 4,000 or more banks word got around. What jobs there were paid low wages. Some business exploited workers by working them excessive hours.

In 1929 there was newspapers, radio and movies, President Roosevelt made use of both radio and the newsreels to convey his messages. You can listen to him explain in 1933 what the government was doing about the banking crisis or watch a 1933 newsreel video about moving forward toward fairer wages and labor.

I have to be honest here, there was a lot of propaganda swinging both ways in most public media, the journalistic ethics thing had not fully kicked in yet. The citizens at the time would have behaved as we did. Many ignored the warnings or thought it was partisanship at best. Some stood by their current President, Herbert Hoover, who expressed Republican beliefs of capitalism, meaning that government should not be involved in the process of commerce any more than necessary.

Perhaps Herbert got a partially bum rap. He felt that charities and the private sector should have step in to assist Americans. Some did, most did nothing or could not handle the amount of people needing assistance. Hoover did act and implemented assistance programs to help farmers, businesses and public works projects; the same as Roosevelt. There were limits to what he felt he could do. He honored his beliefs but at what cost?

In 2009 we no longer have movie newsreels but 24 hour TV news networks, the Internet and social media. Yes there is radio but it is no longer a unifying source of information. What has remained the same is only when the crisis came knocking on an American’s specific door did most Americans paid attention and start to ask questions. What has also stayed the same is the consistent carping on the role of government to aid or impede the recovery process. Well enough about the men folk.

How Did Women Adapt and Cope 1929?

According to the U.S. Census in 1920 there were 123,202,624 people in the country. The earnings of the average American were low to begin with and most were just making it before the depression. In 1935 the majority of Americans made between $250 and $2,500 a year. They weren’t big spenders. By necessity most Americans were already frugal. They were now being joined by portions of the former middle class. People had to be resourceful or go hungry.

If you were already broke or poor it made living more difficult but you probably had the basic skills to handle the situation. David Griner’s great aunt keep a daily diary of her life as a teenager during the depression. He has transferred it into a Twitter feed. Genny Spencer seemed to have lived a normal life on the farm. Writer Errol Ury has a page on his website of young people who did and did not survive the Great Depression easily. There is a collection of photographs and historical text about how rough the road and rails were for teens.

At the Norfolk Women’s Oral History Project you can read an interview of a “Senior Citizen” who speaks honestly of what was really going on in her life at the time.

Interviewer: Umm -- What kind of clubs or social gatherings did you go to?

Senior Citizen: None. No. No. Well, I'll tell you. My first husband was very active in the Republican Party and he participated in things like that. But when President Roosevelt was running, I think the first time. No, that's right. Because it was in '32. He wanted me - Mrs. Roosevelt was coming to a place not to far from where we lived. So, he wanted me to meet her. And I did. And she was absolutely a lovely, most charming person that one could ever meet. Gracious. And she made you feel like she had known you which is a marvelous, marvelous quality in a person. I only said, "How, do you do? I'm so glad I had this opportunity to meet you", and she said, I'm so glad you are here With -- you know -- and consider my husband if your going to vote. By the way, that was the first time and last time I voted. Of course, I voted Hoover.

Interviewer: You didn't vote for him (FDR)?

Senior Citizen: MMm-hmm!

Many women were traditional homemakers, or if single, lived with the family. Some, like Mayme Reese took comfort in quilting or crafting activities. When the depression hit everybody did what they had to do to survive. Some women couldn’t wait for their husbands to get around to it. Elizabeth Miller needed to have a butchered hog moved inside to be salted. You can read and hear a portion of her interview. Alice Caudle was a mill worker who was interviewed in 1938 by the Federal Writer’s Project. In the recording that is also transcribed at the web site, she talks about how she loved her job.

At the Library of the City University of New York there is a web slide presentation. It explains some of the ways that women survived such as:

  • Buying day old bread
  • Relining coat with old blankets
  • Feeding your family on $5 a week, if you had that much.

Jobs, food and shelter were the main focus of living but keeping your family and yourself entertained was jus as important. The radio was the lifeline. The film industry concentrated on producing products that lifted the nations sprits, such as musicals or gangster movies that you could immerse yourself in just bit of the good life before justice or the next day of looking for work caught up with you.

How Are Women Adapting and Coping 2009?

Thirty Five By Nine has a post up on collecting and using depression era cookbooks. You might have to re-adjust your thinking. I’d lean toward eating vegetarian before I’d eat a squirrel. I’ve seen the squirrels in my neighborhood and they just don’t appeal to me. The cookbooks also assumed a certain level of cooking skills that many modern women do not have; such as canning. For a slightly more contemporary approach it seems that everybody is paying attention to Clara on her YouTube Channel on Depression era cooking.

Over at Mommy and Mami are counting blessings. One has lost her job but can survive in a low rent and dicey neighborhood. She loves Oakland but has an opportunity to move to a new area for the same costs of her current place. It is networking and having connections you did not know you had. Do you take the chance or do you stay put with what you know?

Some bloggers are reaching back and forward at the same time. Uppity Women08 has images of the signs or marking the hobos used to mark on a fence or road sign to let others know to knock on the door or keep moving. She also has an open post on “poverty recipes” contributed by her readers. Some real recipes and some well, seem to be politically inspired in the opposite of left direction.

I’m guessing by the image at the top of the post that Uppity and some of her visitors do not care for the current administration. That’s fine, I dang sure did not care for the prior occupation. But just so they know, there are no more paper food stamps. It is now an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) process.

Employment support or emotional un-employment support is very important. Keeps folks from thinking really bad thoughts. Coleen Canney has some tips to offer the ex-worker. Mrs. Mordecai’s husband is taking a pay cut but is still working and they are grateful. Molly Mac is a writer who is getting to know the unemployment office a little too well for her taste.

I guess we are doing the same things, passing on what we know, helping when we can and relieving the pressure with a bit of humor or a touch of music.

Gena Haskett is Contributing Editor at BlogHer, where this post originally appeared.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Comparing Facts About 1929 Great Depression and 2009 Part 1

Rick Santelli’s rant on the floor of the Stock Exchange made me mad. The cultural and media switch from blaming institutions, corporations, regulatory bodies and all manor of greed mutating has now morphed into branding individuals and and families as “losers.” Yes, there is a lot of anger and frustrations. It is easier to be angry than to find answers.

Yet it is not that easy to explain. This is a complicated issue. It is not just the Sub-Prime loan crisis. It is not just the Pyramid investment schemes.  It is not just the price of oil, food or other commodities.  And, most important, it is NOT solely an American problem. This is a global financial disaster. 

What I would like to attempt for my next series of posts is to help you find facts; you can make up your own mind and act accordingly.  This first attempt might seem a little dry but it is important to understand the facts before you can understand what people had to do to survive, then and now.

Question 1 – If this is a depression how is it similar or different from the one in 1929?

The financial crisis has not officially been declared a depression. To me, this recession has many of the features of a depression and apparently so does Fox Business News. There are many complex reasons why the 1929 Great Depression happened. These are the some of short answers:

  • There was an agriculture/environmental problem called “The Dust Bowl” that removed viable top soil from farm land. This affected farmers ability to grow crops and to repay the loans. The banks foreclosed on the farms, sold to the highest bidder and evicted the families.
  • This was the age of industrialization. Workers put in long hours for little pay. Businesses not only produced but over-produced commodities. There wasn’t enough customers to buy the products. Yet manufactures kept producing. You also had overseas competition as well.
  • There was limited or no regulation regarding the practices of the Stock Market. It was the good old boy club and any money obtained was great for the club members who had no regard whatsoever for their actions, either legal or unethical.

Question 2 – What are the similarities?

1929 – Investors were able to purchase stock on a “margin.” This meant that a person could buy 10% of the value of the stock and owe the rest payable at a later time. Some folks borrowed from the bank to make stock investments. Others took their savings from the bank to purchase stocks. Most Americans had their money in the bank, the same as now.

Now many of the stocks were tied to legitimate companies. Others had purchased a certificate of stock ownership tied to a company no one knew anything about, especially those that were selling it. Millions of shares were being bought and sold for 10% of the value. Then came the day when the banks and financial institutions called in the margin. When they did that the investors around the world panicked.  Everyone was trying to sell. No one was buying. The market crashed.

Those that were smart and just had their money in the bank? If the bank did not have the funds to return your deposits you lost them.  Your money was gone. There were 4,000 bank and financial institutions that disappeared. This is why some of the great-grandparents are or were extremely fearful of putting money in the bank.

2009 – There were individuals buying and selling mortgages then repackaging the loans and selling them to the next sucker, I mean buyer. In the meantime,  institutional investors such as teacher unions, state retirement boards and other companies were buying money market and other types of fund investments to help grow their retirement funds for workers.  Some of the bad loans were interwoven into those packages. 

Let’s not forget about how easy it was for people to get credit and adjustable rate mortgages. Or that the housing market also inflated home prices. New construction was booming as was the companies that serviced the construction market. Now mix in the marketing campaign to people with less than stellar credit and charging higher interest rates for that population to purchase a home without documentation of income or ability to pay. Common sense did not matter to the borrower or lender. Get the loan, sell the mortgage. There were warnings that were ignored on the local, state and federal level.

Like 1929, at some point the call for the full value of the loans was requested. There was not and is not enough money to pay for the houses, the loans or to compensate investors. Enter that magic word “panic” followed by fear, rumors and business collapse.  Sound familiar?

Question 3 – What are the differences?

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission is charged with keeping an eye on the Stock Exchange and financial institution. In the past eight years attention has been lax and the office was understaffed. Hopefully that will change in the future.
  • Each bank in the country is now required to have Federal Deposits Insurance for each account up to $100,000. That has been temporarily raised to $250,000 until December 31, 2009. So, theoretically, if your bank goes belly up you would not lose any money by being a depositor. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has an information page on exactly what happens when a bank fails. I should tell you that a number of banks have failed and there will be others. Be prepared, check out credit unions as a back-up financial storage space.
  • There are a number of federal agencies that help with agricultural concerns. There is a different problem. Many of the small famers were driving out of business by competition with large agribusiness. Their interests are not the same as the one or two family farms. Many of them received subsidies that were intended for other kinds of farmers. That really needs to be looked.
  • The government has stepped in and given the banks money to prevent the larger ones from failing. It also gave the money to release into the general population so that small businesses, vendors and employers can conduct their normal business activities. The banks haven’t shaken loose a dime.

There are reliable sources that can explain more in plain English. If you don’t like the ones cited or linked to drop hints in the comments. I don’t have instant answers that sound good in a sound bit. I am not a financier or historian. What I can locate sources that give a better picture of our past and current situation. I think that we can find our way out of this mess if we learn to work together across party lines and be willing to educate each other without hostility.  Leave that to Rick.

Next time, a look at the women and men who endured the Great Depression and their great-grandchildren in 2009 coping skills.

More Resources

Chitra at Poor Kid's School of Finance has her explanation of the mortgage meltdown. If you are 20-something you are gonna want to watch this. If you are older you are gonna need to watch this to explain to your teenagers. John Bird and John Fortune are a comedy duo in the United Kingdom. This is a comedy routine. It is also one of the best plain English explanations of the Sub-Prime lending fiasco.

For more information about the The Dust Bowl you can visit Living History Farm.org  There are oral histories in QuickTime format that give you a sense of the power of the event. The PBS website The American Experience has a section called “Surviving The Dust Bowl” and there is a timeline that shows how the events intersected with the 1929 Depression and how long it took for areas of the United States to be restored. Nan Patience has a nice 2008 retrospective with photos about the 1929 Great Depression.

This American Life did an excellent job of explaining the Sub-Prime mortgage crisis and have just created a new version to help you understand why the banks won’t let go of the money that the U.S. government has given them.  I strongly urge you to listen to the banking  explanation because I don’t want you to stand in line trying to get some of your money out of a particular bank.  You should also hang out at the NPR Planet Money blog

This post was originally written for BlogHer where I am a Contributing Editor.

Friday, March 06, 2009

I Will Survive on the Finally Friday Freakout

This is a video of Miss Diana Ross and RuPaul performing I Will Survive in West Hollywood in 1996. We will survive. We survived the rush and we will survive the downturn.



We will survive ignorance and hate. We will survive the lies told in our name and lay them at the feet of the perpetrators. We will pray or affirm for our sisters and brothers who are lost in the grips of ancient forces who are now being exploited for profit. We will act with integrity or at the very least from a position of truth. Now is not the time to mess around. We have restoration work to do.

For this week that was and will be pass it on, we will survive.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Stimulating Yourself to Financial Literacy and Education

There are multiple reasons for this financial mess.  There are many of us that did nothing wrong and yet are suffering at the hands of the greedy and the unconscionable. I have been asking “How are we going to solve this problem?” I’m asking liberals and libertarians. I’m trying to read conservative blogs for answers but I quickly learned that there is a lot of anger in that part of the blogosphere.  We are faced with the equivalent of cleaning King Augeas' stables.  We have nasty work ahead of us. It can be done.

So I thought about it. What are some of the factors that contributed to this crisis? One of the factors is the lack of financial literacy. Because of the lack of literacy we use credit cards, pay day loans or cash advances as our personal money; it is not, we are borrowing money. This ignorance is generational. Many of our parents and grandparent had no financial education. This is not impossible to fix.

Time to clean out the muck and start planting new seed of prosperity. These are just a few suggestions. There is no one way learn this so I’m focusing on personal financial bloggers who are providing literacy and educational assistance.

BlogHer Resources:

Now if you haven’t already done so you should read our in-house folk like Jennifer Openshaw, Paula Gregorowicz, and the category on Money and Finance. There is informational gold in their posts so if you have been slacking now is the time to hit the archives.

Attitude Adjustments and Emotional Support

Suze Orman gets a lot of heat because she talks about the need for women to be mentally, spiritually and emotionally ready for prosperity. Now for some of you that is “woo-woo” talk. I get where she is coming from. You can wail about your lack of money.  You can pray or affirm to the heavens “I want more money.”

Until you believe and internalize that you deserve more and that you have a right to a better standard of living it ain’t gonna happen.  Belief without action is just as pointless. This is a two-fer folks, you have to do both.  I am a big fan of JD at Get Rich Slowly, he has a post on How to Build Confidence and Destroy Fear:

Without self-confidence, we have a tendency to make poor decisions. We make choices based on fear instead of what is best for us. If you lack confidence, you might fill your life with self-destructive behavior. You’re might work at a job you hate. You may allow yourself to get deep in debt. You may find yourself moving from one bad relationship to another. Without confidence, you don’t allow yourself to pursue your dreams.

Girls Just Wanna Have Funds is a meet-up of women who get together with a financial advisor to help each other get out of debt. NBC did a report about the Washington, DC group. According to the website:

Girls Just Wanna Have Funds is dedicated to the woman that wants to take charge of her personal finances. We value budgeting, investing, frugality and remain mindful of our spending habits. Move over and make way for women who are in control of their financial destinies and not afraid to say it. We’re armed with a positive net worth and not afraid to flaunt it while breaking financial ceilings one stiletto at a time!

Nicole at Career Girls knows that young adults and in particular divas in training are getting nervous. In her post on Resilience in Times of Economic and Career Crisis she responds to a friend who is feeling the pressure:

So why is resilience so important? Resilient people bounce back and don’t quit or give up easily. Their ability to keep going will eventually lead them to success. Resilient people can thrive and progress in difficult circumstances, and tend to get ahead when less adaptable people won’t.

Big Whoop – How Do I Begin with No Money?

You might want to do more research on that attitude part. You see you might have money in front of your eyes and not be able to see it. If you have kids that drink soda for water either that has to stop or you are redeeming cans and bottles. Changing your perception of what you have is a part of wealth building.

I know what you want. Easy answers. There aren’t any. But there are seekers and pathfinders you can pay attention and learn from.

The late Carla Emery called it back in 2004 when people were going crazy over adjustable rate mortgages. Carla gave a detailed explanation on What Frugality Means.  Emily at Remodeling This Life has a nice post on rethinking simplicity living. A Modern Gal has thoughts on what does redefining frugality really means to her:

When thinking of it from the resource standpoint, I have to admit, although I need to be mindful of spending and be prudent with cash, my biggest resource constraint is time.  Thus, it doesn’t make sense for me to spend hours and hours on something that might yield only a small amount of savings.  Sustainability also means the ability to continuously carry out good habits day after day

On the other end of the spectrum is Living Almost Large, she doesn’t want anything to do with frugal living. She does want to save money and plan for retirement but she also wants to spend money and enjoy life. Well, to each their own.

By her own admission Living Almost Large is in her 20’s and if you read the post she isn’t gonna win any love with the crafting community. I also think she has a narrow view of what frugality is; there is a range of people from those that peel toilet paper to those folks that plan for purchases and recycle when possible. Ryan at Uncommon Cents presents a good case for When Spending is Frugal.

Applied Financial Ed – Women Working Their Way Out of Debt

These are the folks that know how to stretch a dollar around the corner and around the block. Barbara Stanny has a good article on How to Respect Money. It is also a speed course on what you have to do to get out of debt.

Financial independence does not come from what you earn. It comes from what you do with what you have. No matter how sizable your salary, the money will slip through your fingers if you bypass this step.

Ms. Micah at Finance for A Freelance Life is using the month of February 2009 as Where Is My Money Going Month? Ashley at Wide Open Wallet has Five Tips To Help You Save.  Ashley has another post about helping to support schools via shopping at stores like Target, that give 1% back to the schools on purchases. I' don’t have kids but what if I did that and designated it to a school in need across town? What if we all did that?

Kristin at Turbo-Mom has a blog called Guide To Saving Money Without Wasting Time. All are welcome and you can partake of the goodies such as how to wrangle coupons, how to work Baby stores  to save money and the only legitimate place to actually get a free credit report.

Single Ma at Fabulous Financials was in debt and she shows her readers her process for the key to paying off debt. You can also check out her net worth status, it proves you can go to zero to your heart’s desire. Crystal at Brunette on a Budget is a financial writer/blogger. She mixes financial education with merchant credit card gouging and how to look good in high waist pencil skirts. Um, I’m thinking that for those of us who don’t have major bumps in the back.

I’ve got more but I’m running out of space. My point is do something, if nothing more than pass one of these folks along to a friend in need. Each one, teach one out of the darkness.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer and this post originated under the Academic, Research and Education category.