Paid Family Leave — Are you feeling sandwiched?

sandwichSandwiched…squished. Pressed between two things. Perhaps more than two things. Sound familiar? For women today, we can feel pressured by the need to take care of our children, of our aging parents, and God forbid, other members of our family.

Finally, the Oregon State legislature may just help. It is considering legislation that will provide $300 a week for up to six weeks if you need to care for your children, parents, spouse or any member of your family.

This week, you have a unique chance to make a difference, and help pass a law that may actually have a huge impact upon your lives. Wednesday, April 8, the Senate Commerce and Workforce Development Committee will be holding a hearing, and they need to hear from you! You can either go to Salem (meet at 2:30 on the capitol steps) or call your legislator.

In the meantime, go here for more info. And watch one of the great videos that the Time to Care for Oregon coalition has produced…

Ada Lovelace Day! Kiss a girl scientist!

08-and-09-395So maybe you’ve heard about this, all around the world today folks are getting together to write about women in science who’ve done profound things to change the world from a tech point of view.  Hats off and kudos girlfriends, first round is on us!

Here’s the general idea…

Recent research by psychologist Penelope Lockwood discovered that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones. That’s a relatively simple problem to begin to address. If women need female role models, let’s come together to highlight the women in technology that we look up to.

and folks behind the movement took up a pledge drive looking for 2,000 blog posts about women in the sciences… if you’d like to check out other posts (of depth and grammatically sound!) check out .  All of this makes sense to me and I think that men and women could benefit from a healthy dose of perspective.  There were a lot of great folks to choose from and I thought originally about posting on Sally Ride, who influenced me a lot as a young woman, but then it hit home…

Our first role models are our parents, my mom got her degree in microbiology and went on to run a company which serviced water filtration systems utilizing reverse osmosis technology.  Our dinner conversations usually centered around the family business, which didn’t completely enthuse me, but I had a great respect for.  When I was very little 3 or four, my mom was a lab tech at a medical office, when I was sick she took my throat culture and she would bring me home petri dishes to grow things in and empty tubes to play with.  Strange things sat on the tops of desks and shoved in the back of drawers, having a real working microscope to play with wasn’t a “planned activity” but just something which was available.

That’s what resonates with me- my parents left stuff about, paint brushes, typewriters, books and calculators, they made time for my questions.  Growing up there was never a question of what I could or couldn’t do, had sciences been my passion, I would have been indulged completely.  I remember my mom coming in to judge the 6th grade science fair at my school, even though I didn’t enter.  I was so happy to see her that day, she talked to my friends and really took their work to heart.  It was important for me to see that she valued these things in my peers even if they weren’t things which I took a personal interest in, she was raising not just a child but a community.

She was here last week and playing with the beloved grandchildren who have a dinner place-mat of the periodic table of elements,  “Grandma what’s lithium plus chloride?”…” it’s a battery sweetie, now eat your peas..” and it all sounded so familiar and so perfect, my first science teacher giving another lesson, as for keeping her lunch in the cadaver drawer in the morgue, that’s another story for another time…

Get on the Good Foot- Happy Birthday Dr. King

Looking for a way to be involved, the kids and I will be heading down to Salem for the Stand For Children Rally at the state capitol.   The event is NEXT MONTH and a great way to involve kids in something which has a direct result in their lives and the community around them.  With the onset of a couple head colds this isn’t sounding like the most responsible plan for today.  Stand for Children is an amazing grass roots organization and we’re planning on being more involved with them in the future.   Here’s a blip from their vision statement…

Stand for Children exists because children in communities across America do not have the power to influence our democratic system to meet their fundamental needs. We seek to make children and their needs a higher political priority.

We envision a society where all children receive the education and community supports that will enable them to live successful, fulfilling lives, and where parents and other concerned citizens are engaged and vigilant in ensuring that elected officials make decisions in the best interest of children and families.

One of their main goals in Oregon is to advance tax reform and defeat dangerous ballot measures.  Last year the organization was key in defeating the wacked out measures  56 , 57 , 58, 59, 60 generated by Kevin Mannix and corrupt “political” hack Bill Sizemore.

For today though, the peeps and I will be armchair activists- So far we’ve watched “Mighty Times: The Children’s March” by Hudson and Houston.  The film took an Oscar in 2005 for best documentary and is a stunning retelling of the student demonstrations which took place in Birmingham Al. in 1963 which paved the way for national desegregation. The Children’s March highlights a week of demonstrations where over four thousand CHILDREN  were arrested with interviews and archival footage.  I’ve shown the film at a number of children’s film festival programs and I still can’t get through it without getting weepy.  It is absolutely chilling to see images of four and five year olds behind bars.  One woman interviewed was arrested when she was nine was asked, “Weren’t you scared you were going to get hurt?” She said, “as a black child born in Alabama, there was no way I wasn’t going to get hurt”.  It was the first time my daughter, who is five had seen it and of course she had a lot of questions.   I have fantastic  teacher’s guide which came with the film, which has helped us explore the material further and look at ways at ways our lives are affected today.  Childrens March comes from Teaching Tolerance an educational resource project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Teaching Tolerance website is a wonderful resource with lots of great activities for families and in the classroom.  The films they produce come with educator resources and they also have an outstanding newsletter.  The activities are broken up into appropriate grade levels and  materials for teachers including films and books  are free.

Wanting to do something meaningful today, but stuck indoors, each of us is planning to write a thank you note to a volunteer whom we admire.  Lucy has made a birthday card for Dr. King, she said, “even though he’s not here anymore, I think he got his wish”.  I’m sending a letter to my father-in-law who is an elections observer and helps seniors and native Spanish speakers with their taxes.  My son is sending a note to his Grandpa who is a community organizer extraordinaire for environmental and political causes in Northern Colorado, and was a motivated general handy man in New Orleans.

We’re also going to catch a couple great videos courtesy of youtube including MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech and kid made shorts from Media that Matters including Children of Birmingham

Oh NO! Not Gay Marriage!

Really. Everybody needs to chill. The world will not end if people who love each other continue to gasp, love each other with tax benefits and some cake. Really.

Thanks to Bob Cesca for the image.


A Quick Education on Rahm Emanuel

rahmIn the rank of days of my life, it goes like this 1) and 2) the births of my two exceptionally amazing children, 3) marrying my sweet, totally awesome husband and 4) drum roll please….

November 4, 2008.

My children will now spend at least 4 years living in a country led by, without a doubt, the most exceptional individual to be elected to political office in recent, or even distant, memory. And perhaps to banish the inexperience and memories of chaos of the Clinton years, he has already chosen, as his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.

So who is this guy? First, let’s chat about what the chief of staff does. Generally, this person corrals the Cabinet secretaries and keeps them in line with regard to the over-all agenda of the president. He or she (actually, unfortunately, this person has never been a “she”) also frequently is a key leader of the team that represents the executive branch to the Congress, pursuing votes and admonishing malcontents in the party. Think Leo in the West Wing. Essentially, the administrative version of the president.

Rahm Emanuel is the two term congressman from Illinois and is a tightly wound ball of hyper-kinetic energy. Since 2007, Emanuel has been the chair of the Democratic Caucus (kind of a big deal). He was head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an instrumental force in taking the House of Representatives back from the Republicans in 2006. He worked for Paul Simon and was a chief advisor of Bill Clinton.

He is a young guy – 48 – and the father of three children. He has a 100% voting record on choice, supported the initial war resolution on Iraq but has since become a strong and vocal opponent of the war, has been great on the environment and is very well known for being a huge personality to that advocates tenaciously for a progressive agenda.

On paper, it all looks good. Now, let’s back up for a second. One of the key reasons that Obama won Virginia and Indiana and stood a chance in states like Montana and North Dakota, was because the Chair of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean (known in our house as Saint Dean), implemented a strategy of targeting each and every state, regardless of electoral history, as a potential Democratic site of victory. Brilliant. Exceptional. Pure genius.

While Dean struggled to implement this strategy, his most vocal opponent was Rahm Emanuel, who clung to the older strategy of pouring all of the resources into the states most likely to secure victory. Because of this, Emanuel has lost favor with some aspects of the Democratic Party.

In the end, though, the Obama campaign became a combination of both strategies …  Dean’s was used to get through the early part of the campaign, and when it came down to the final days, Emanuel’s older strategy was favored to target resources in key states (that’s why Obama never made it to Oregon during the general campaign).

Given this past feud, it looks like there might be some tensions between the party machine and the White House. But you know what? Never before have I trusted a leader to manage disputes, quell unproductive discord and listen to both sides of an argument more than I trust Obama.

Bring on the constructive debate.

KID-FRIENDLY Election Night Party

You are invited to an entirely kid-friendly election night party at the BackSpace Cafe (renamed the BarackSpace Cafe until Nov. 5th) at 115 NW 5th on November 4, starting at 5pm.

The BackSpace Cafe is huge, with lots of room for kids to run around and a full menu of vegetarian/vegan food for sale. It also has a big parking lot across the street.

 It’s being hosted by Poligots, as well as Activistas and MOMocrats. We’re so excited!

The party will have:

**** Maps to color as the results come in (with LOTS of blue crayons :))

**** Balloons

**** Pin the tail on the Democratic donkey

**** Other games and kiddo diversions

**** Of course, lots of other great kids to play with.

And, it’s FREE. We just want you to come and celebrate what we hope will be a fantastic night for Oregon and our nation.


Yes, and Green is Red, too. Vote NO on Measure 64.

The Republicans and those on the Right have always been incredibly good and turning and twisting words to make everything sound better. Global warming became climate change. Homophobia and sexism became family values. For those things they hate, they twist words just as well (think partial birth abortion.)

Now, in Oregon, Bill Sizemore has done it again, this time, in support of Measure 64.

Let’s chat about how this works. There are a number of organizations, including the Oregon Food Bank, the United Way, the Black United Fund of Oregon, and my former employer, the Equity Foundation, who give their donors the option of getting a contribution to the group deducted from their paycheck. These donations are entirely and completely voluntary – what it amounts to is simply a convenient way to give. No stamps or check writing…just a quick form at the beginning of the year.

Measure 64 would ban this.

It would ban something else. Every year, some of these groups set up tables to educate employees about their options. They hand out balloons, stickers, etc. It’s a friendly way to educate folks about ways they can give. Nope, says Bill Sizemore. Somehow this is a threat to our way of life. Yikes! Balloons! Scary.

Now, instead of calling this what it really is – an attempt to limit funding for organizations doing good, Bill Sizemore is calling Measure 64 a campaign finance bill. Uh, right.

Please vote NO on Measure 64. It’s a ruse.

Oregon voter resource

So we’re off this morning for our eat pie fill out our ballot election moment.  It is such a great tradition and I think this morning a mimosa is probably in order too.  Bo and I have been reviewing the initiatives. It’s a given that anything Bill Sizemore sleazed onto the ballot should be disregarded, but the others needed further consideration.  I’ve mentioned it before but here’s the link again to Ballotpedia, a non-partisan wiki which has information on all the issues with handy hyerlinks, newspaper references, endorsments and compendium of published materials, genius!  From their site…

Ballotpedia is a free, collaborative, online encyclopedia. It focuses on ballots, ballot measures, ballot access for initiatives and candidates, petition drives, the supporters and opponents of initiatives and, in general, all things ballot.

“Ballotpedia is a wiki, which means that anyone–including you right now–can edit any article by clicking on the “edit this page” link that appears on every article on Ballotpedia. By helping to edit, add information, any fix any mistakes you see, the quality and depth of the information steadily improves and grows over time.

The Sam Adams Alliance became Ballotpedia’s sponsor in March 2008, sponsoring two paid editors and underwriting the server space and other expenses. Ballotpedia was originally sponsored by the Citizens in Charge Foundation. The project commenced on May 30, 2007. As of March 15, 2008, Ballotpedia had 4,030 pages and 238 registered users.”

Bryan Collier at the Central Library

Uptown by Bryan Collier

Uptown by Bryan Collier

Multnomah County Library puts on some great programs for kids, we feel very fortunate to have access to such dynamic library services.  This Thursday, chidren’s book illustrator Bryan Collier will speak at the Central Library followed by a book signing.  Bryan’s art is a lush combination of paint and collage which captures not just his subject, but the moods of moment.  His illustrations for Rosa, a biography of Rosa Parks, and Martin’s Big Words, about Dr. Martin Luther King, were both given a Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award.

Bryan spends a great deal of his time working with children and young artists and was the director of the  Harlem Horizon Art Studio for twelve years.  In interviews he seems as encouraging for his audience as he is passionate about his subject matter. In an interview with Reading Rockets, Collier said,

“1992 and 1993, I would go to the bookstores in the children’s books section, and I never really saw books that looked like me. And this sort of set me on the quest of wanting to illustrate and tell stories and do stories that sort of sounded and felt like me, where I would paint people of color, mainly, and sort of tell our stories. And there’re so many wonderful and diverse ways to do that, and I just think that that’ll be wonderful as an artist, to sort of use your artwork to sort of do something like that.”

He has a new book which he’s illustrated, which is a biography of Barack Obama.  I’ll let the kids each pick out a book to get signed, the Obama book will be for me.  For more information about his Thursday talk and exhibit which runs through November 6th, check out the library’s website here…

Yes on 26-94

Today, like a number of other organizations in Portland, we’re urging you to vote YES on measure 26-94, also known as the Portland Children’s Levy.  Every five years Portlanders have the opportunity to approve funding which goes to local early childhood education, programs in child abuse prevention and intervention, and services for children in foster care.  The Oregonian, Willamette Week, Portand Tribune and Portland Mercury have all endoresed the levy as well as dozens of other businesses and individuals. By supporting the levy we are ensuring a healty community which is proactive in the lives of our young children.

In it’s endorsement, the Portland Tribune writes,

“This proposal, referred to voters by the Portland City Council, deserves support for two reasons: It’s a program that already exists – and it’s a program that works to improve the lives of Portland’s neediest children.

The success of the Children’s Investment Fund has been based on its partnership with nonprofit agencies. This isn’t a case of government creating new programs or bureaucracies. The funding – aimed at early childhood education, preventing child abuse and providing after-school options – is directed toward nonprofit groups that are skilled at providing such services.

Among the dozens of recipients of Children’s Investment Fund dollars are such groups as Albina Head Start, Morrison Child and Family Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Friends of the Children. Due to these investments, children are receiving the help they need to be ready to start kindergarten. They are getting tutoring, and they are being assigned to mentors. Their health is being monitored and they receive therapy for abuse.

In the time since the investment fund was created following the November 2002 election, the project has been evaluated by objective researchers, including a comprehensive 2005 study by Portland State University. The evaluators found that the 16,000 mostly low-income children being helped by the fund are hitting key benchmarks and that their prospects are being improved.”

At best we can remember that the children who will benefit by your vote are individuals who are too young to advocate for themselves.  They are our future and our now and today they’ve asked for our help.

Make sure to fill out your ballot completely, this is the last item and on the back side.  For more information about the Children’s Levy please see their website