Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Private Tests Find Formaldehyde Danger Widespread

If you live in the Gulf Coast, that is. This MSNBC article corroborates what lots of local activists and residents have suspected for a long time: that not only the travel trailers, but also the mobile homes (read: bigger, nicer) that have been provided by the government to Katrina victims are producing extremely high levels of formaldehyde--levels that are making the people living in them sick and sicker.

Just more proof that if the storm didn't kill you, FEMA just might.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Who Put the FUN Back in Fundraising?

WE did! My friends and I, that is. Last night, at a little spot called the Blind Pig here in Manhattan, my buddies and I hosted an event designed to raise a little money for the children of Renaissance Village, a FEMA constructed trailer park down outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I met a few of the kids who are living there (all victims of Hurricane Katrina) when I was down in the region this past summer, and never could get them out of my mind. Neither could Jess, and so, together with our friends Kerryann, Katie, Vanessa and Allison, we got together and made the decision to do something that might make these kids' lives a tiny bit better.

The plan was pretty simple, and it totally worked: convince our friends--all of whom get together all the time in bars and restaurants to have a little fun--to spend this past Tuesday evening partying w a purpose instead. And that's even what we called it: Party with Purpose. We got other friends to donate items to for silent auction, booked the bar (again through friends) and then sent out Evites and email invitations to our buddies in New York. And guess what? People turned up in droves and helped us raise about $5,500-- which we will now use to buy holiday gifts for the kids in the trailer park.

It's actually amazing to me how easy it was to put together, to get people to come out, and actually make a demonstrable (if small) difference in the lives of others. Working for a non-profit that is large-ish in size and therefore a complex system of yeses and nos, you can sometimes forget just how easy it can be to do something that has immediate impact. I'm so glad that I was reminded that it's something we all can do--maybe not alone, but with just a few friends by your side, change is possible. And, if you're lucky, really, really fun.

Friday, November 2, 2007

He's Baaaaack...

I suppose it couldn't have been any more predictable--you knew it, I knew it, even the family dog knew it: Don Imus has made it back onto the air. He's signed a deal with WABC Radio that will have him filling the morning drive-time slot (6 am to 10 am), and, we can assume, making a whole lotta money doing it.

It's amazing to think that a whole six months has passed since the brouhaha that got him booted from his last job took place, and I for one am struggling at the moment to figure out how much I care that the man has got his footing back. On the one hand, he certainly "paid a price" for his idiotic remarks; but on the other, his return makes it clear that the powers that be in the media really don't get why people were so upset in the first place. They slapped him on the wrist, sure, but now they've handed the mantle right back to him, giving him plenty of opportunity to continue his pattern of racial and sexual degradation, along with some general jack-assery.

So, again, the question isn't really (or only) about Imus; it's about the media culture. He's the symptom, they're the disease. It's impossible to imagine Don Imus coming back to the air being anything other than his same, old self, and I guess what his re-hiring tells us is that that old, mean self is cool with the guys at ABC, who are clearly psyched to keep the power in the hands of guys like themselves. It's all pretty gross, if you ask me... but why does the whole thing make me feel so utterly exhausted?