All kinds of animals in and around Indianapolis need your help - check out the links in this short list for volunteer info from local rescues and shelters in need. And remember that no matter your skill set or interests, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities beyond scooping poop; just ask how you can help (or make it easy and just donate something from their wish lists!)
If we left anyone out, please leave your favorite Indy-area animal-welfare group in the comments below.
And remember: If you want a certain kind of animal, there are breed rescues for pretty much every domestic animal. Check Petfinder or Google (for example, search for "bulldog breed rescue") before you buy a pet from a pet store or breeder: Most out-of-state breed-rescue groups are more than willing to transport a rescued animal to you, or at least meet you half way.
After nearly two years of preparation, Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN) celebrated its kick-off convention Tuesday at Light of the World Christian Church. More than 1,700 people packed the main hall, leaving only standing room for the late arrivals struggling to find parking.
A procession of clergy from more than 28 participating congregations opened the convention, followed by an opening prayer, interfaith reflection, and personal narratives of social and economic hardship that IndyCAN wants to address.
Introductions and financial pledges from participating congregations followed and were met by emphatic cheers from supporters in the audience. IndyCAN is adamant in being nonpartisan, but that didn't stop an energetic crowd from reworking President Obama's campaign slogan into the organizations own "yes we IndyCAN" chant.
As each speaker arrived at the podium, IndyCAN's agenda became clear: collaborate with policy-makers to remove barriers to employment, emphasize family sustaining wages, and dramatically reduce violence. The organization is not overwhelmed by its broad vision. Instead, it views its mission as an excellent opportunity for the city to capitalize on the success of recent public-private partnerships.
Mark Miles, president and CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, spoke briefly on public transportation, unemployment, and the importance of targeted career training.
“Some say the Super Bowl was historic,” said Mark Miles, who also served as chairman of the Super Bowl Host Committee. “Well I’m here to tell you that IndyCAN is historic.”
In maybe the most emphatic speech of the night, Carolyn Higginbotham of Central Christian Church aroused several standing ovations from the ethnically diverse crowd. Ms. Higginbotham touched on a number of hot-button issues, including the DREAM Act, inner city violence, and employment laws for Hoosiers with criminal records.
A lull in the excitement arrived following news that the event's honored speaker, Mayor Ballard, was not in attendance.
“Mayor Ballard’s hallmark is building collaborations,” his representative declared. The irony was not lost on the crowd amidst unenthusiastic applause, hushed whispers and scattered boos. IndyCAN leaders will meet privately with Mayor Ballard on March 20.
Following this, City-County Council President Maggie Lewis took the stage.
“I am excited to learn that the City-County Council's priorities — crime, education, transportation, and jobs, jobs, jobs — are in line with those of IndyCAN,” she said to a roar of approval.
Paul Ciesielski, Chief of IMPD, attended in support of creating a safer Indianapolis. Operation Ceasefire, a key part of IndyCAN’s effort to reduce violence, is operational in cities across the country and has proven to reduce violence by as much as 60 percent. The program has strong approval from Public Safety Director Frank Straub.
In the coming months, IndyCAN plans to talk to an additional 10,000 people connected to its congregations. What its members learn from these conversations will be directly relayed to public officials through eight public forums, as well as individual meetings with Mayor Ballard and Director Straub. In doing so, IndyCAN will begin looking for concrete methods to increase civic engagement and bring about long-term measurable change for struggling Indianapolis families and citizens.
Tags: IndyCAN, Indianapolis Congregation Action Network, Frank Straub, Maggie Lewis, Mark Miles, Super Bowl, Mayor Greg Ballard, DREAM Act, inner city violence, employment laws, Feature, Image, Feature
A local action group founded by Innovative Indy Summit aims to create a local currency for Central Indiana. Their philosophy comes from Bernard Leitear, former president of Belgium’s Electronic Payment System and current fellow at the Center for Sustainable Resources at the University of California at Berkeley.
Leitear believes, “Money is like an iron ring we've put through our noses. We've forgotten that we designed it, and it's now leading us around. I think it's time to figure out where we want to go — in my opinion toward sustainability and community — and then design a money system that gets us there.”
Members of this currency group wonder why so many people remain homeless and starving, and why so many people struggle to find employment and stay out of debt. Money creates these problems and in order to find a solution, they believe people must first define their goals and then find a currency system that works within these goals.
The goal should be creating sustainability within the community, and this group believes a local currency will allow Central Indiana to achieve this goal.
Katherine Boyles Ogawa, the group’s leader, says, “I’ve been fascinated by the possibilities of local currencies for a long time. If there were one thing I could do to really make a fundamental improvement in my community, it would be to create a viable community currency.”
On March 5, Innovative Indy and members of this local currency group will host an event at the Chase Near East Side Legacy Center from 6:30-8 p.m. The group asks the public to attend this event in order to receive feedback from the community about their vision of a local currency.
Rhonda Baird, a Permaculture Design teacher and co-founder of Bloomington Community Exchange, will kick off the evening with an informative talk about currency, which will be followed by a moderated discussion where the public can sound off about their concerns for the future of Central Indiana’s economy and offer their opinions about a local currency.
This feedback will be integral to the action group’s efforts to design a currency that will best serve the needs of local residents.
Plenty of people are volunteering to deliver Thanksgiving meals to people in need, but organizers at the Mozel Sanders Foundation say they've received less than 50 percent of the total cash donations needed to fund the annual dinner.
The foundation has about $36,000 to fund their annual Thanksgiving Day dinner delivery for about 25,000 people in need across the city. It needs about $77,000, Stephanie Sanders, a foundation co-chair, said in a phone call Friday.
It's always down the wire," she said, noting that some corporate donations are beginning to come in.
"If every volunteer would just give a dollar, we'd be alright."
The event is volunteer driven, with people delivering meals from satellite locations all around the city.
The foundation and its Thanksgiving dinner are named in honor of the Rev. Dr. Mozel Sanders, who became pastor of Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis in 1959.
The Thanksgiving Dinner Event has served more than 25,000 dinners to families each year for the last seven years, according to the foundation website. For more than ten years, in addition to the Thanksgiving hot meals, the MSF has also given thousands of pounds of staple groceries each month from Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church.
Donations to support the Mozel Sanders Foundation's delivery of hot Thanksgiving meals to people in need may be sent to:
The Mozel Sanders Foundation
709 N. Belmont Indianapolis 46222
Professor and activist Beverly Greene specializes in studying the roles that oppression, marginalization and privilege play in identity issues.
"[G]rowing up we were free to question a lot of things, and we weren't given this message that there are these fixed things in the world that always are and you always have to think this way, or people are always this or always that, but that people are complicated," Greene told interviewer Max Chewinski in Psychology's Feminist Voices Multimedia Internet Archive.
This background, Chewinski observed, formed a "critical view of human behavior" resulting in Greene's attraction to absorbing "narratives about how people became who they are" as well as "what they do with that information" and using psychology to frame these narratives and "using feminism within psychology to broaden that lens".
Greene teaches psychology at St. John’s University and practices clinical psychologist in New York City. The award-winning author has written nearly 100 books and articles covering topics such as religion, social marginalization and same-sex marriage and the legacies of racism and sexism in the lives of black mothers and daughters.
“Greene is a huge literary figure in psychology and activism,” said Ekta Kumar, a fourth year doctoral student in psychology at UIndy. She helped organize the lecture and invite Greene to the university.
“We were amazed she’d come out to Indianapolis from New York for us,” Kumar said. Greene will discuss “What Difference Does Difference Make?” in a talk scheduled from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Oct. 6 in UIndy’s Schwitzer Student Center Hall A. A reception with refreshments will follow.
Kumar said that students are often reluctant to discuss diversity and don’t think it’s still a prevalent subject but Greene will be addressing that topic in depth.
“She will be giving a general talk of why it’s important to talk about differences between one another and social privilege.” Kumar said.
The lecture precedes a continuing education workshop, “Intersections of Identities in Psychotherapy; Ethical & Clinical Challenges in Addressing Sexuality and Religious/Spiritual Beliefs in Psychotherapy,” from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 7 at UIndy’s Schwitzer Student Center.
In addition to her lecture, Green will present at the workshop.
The workshop is focused toward clinical psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers and; graduate students, but anyone interested in the research topics is welcome.
Greene has received 27 national awards for her publications and contributions to the field, including the American Psychological Association’s 2009 Senior Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest. In addition to her many awards, she also received APA’s Laura Brown Award for "outstanding contributions in advancing lesbian and bisexual women’s psychology in the areas of scholarship, teaching, practice, and/or activism in 2010."
Her visit is funded and presented by the Katharine Ratliff Memorial Conference on Ethics, Values and Human Responsibility and co-sponsored by UIndy’s School of Psychological Sciences and the campus chapter of Active Minds.
The registration deadline for the workshop is October 4. Registration may be available at the door as well if space permits for an additional $25 fee. Lunch will be available as well.
Call (317) 788-6134 for additional information about the events and to register for the workshop.
Indiana's outreach efforts to victims of domestic and sexual violence do not adequately address the needs within the state's growing Latino community, according to a report released Tuesday.
On an A-E grading scale, Indiana received an overall grade of D, indicating recognition of the state's growing Latino population, but lack of a prioritized response to the special needs experienced within that community.
The State of Cultural Competence in Indiana, conducted by the Indiana Latino Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, assessed the services of 81 domestic and sexual violence outreach centers across Indiana. Despite the state's low grade, the authors commended the organizations that participated in the study for their across-the-board willingness to cooperate with the effort.
"Each and every organization displayed a desire to increase their understanding of cultural competency in order to help all victims," said Marlene Dotson, the coalition board president and founder, in a news release.
"The Latino Coalition recognizes the struggles that victims face when seeking help, and we simultaneously understand the hurdles that service providers must overcome when working across cultural barriers."
Since completing the assessment in December 2010, the coalition has provided cultural competence training to 78 outreach workers.
Report authors noted that in the Latino community, "abusers often use the victims' unauthorized or non-citizen immigrant status as a means of control, threatening deportation, hiding important documents, or refusing to file immigration papers."
In addition, they noted, "lack of transportation and childcare are also barriers, as more than 60% of Latino victims arrive to shelters, support groups, and appointments with no means of personal transportation and with their children."
Extreme examples of domestic violence in the local Latino community cited in the report include a 2004 case where a 22-year-old estranged husband stabbed his 4-year-old son in front of his mother, then committed suicide, and a 2009 case where a toddler witnessed the stabbing of his mother by his father. The report notes that the families were Mexican immigrants that did not speak English.
The report authors offered several recommendations for ways in which shelters can improve cultural competence.
Most outreach providers do not prioritize the hiring of bilingual or bicultural staff, even when the position is charged in dealing with the Latino community, or use Latino media to advertise open positions, the report noted.
It concludes such deficiencies can be addressed, in part, by creating partnerships within local Latino communities and organizations, including the cultivation of a Latino volunteer base.
"For cultural competence to take root, board members and leaders of these organizations must make (it) a priority," authors note.
Marion County is home to nearly 70,000 Latinos. After Lake County, it has the largest Latino community in the state. In the nine-county central Indiana region, the Latino population is nearly 93,000.
The study found 16 organizations providing outreach services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in central Indiana. Of these organizations, the report found that 38 percent did not have any Latino staff and 25 percent were unable to communicate in any language other than English.
The region received an overall cultural competence grade of C, meaning "the participating organizations are beginning to talk about how to become culturally competent in serving Latino victims and will need support in order to reach higher levels of cultural competence."
But in some assessment areas, the grade slipped to D.
"Currently, these organizations do not seem to be working with the local Latino communities to develop a better understanding of the needs of Latino victims," the authors note, adding that the groups could benefit from better use of Spanish-language media and providing incentives to staff with bilingual or bicultural skills.
A fact sheet produced by the Urban
Institute shows that the number of Hoosiers who are receiving Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance — also known as food stamps — has increased by
39 percent from 2007 through 2010.
That's higher than the growth in Kentucky
and Illinois but significantly lower than in Ohio and Michigan, where the
economy has hit hard.
The number of food stamp recipients grew
by 49 percent in Ohio and by 47 percent in Michigan during the three-year
The highest growth was in Nevada, where
the number of recipients grew by 128 percent. The lowest growth was in
Arkansas, according to the Urban Institute.
the number of food stamp recipients is up roughly 69 percent to about 45
The above is one of an ongoing series of reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.
Bil Browning, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Bilerico Project, is an honoree in the annual National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association media awards. Browning won first place for Excellence in Online Journalism.
Established by NLGJA more than a decade ago to ‘foster, recognize and reward excellence in journalism related to the LGBT community,” The 'Excellence in Journalism Awards' are given for news writing, feature writing, opinion writing, network television, radio, online, photojournalism, HIV/AIDS and student journalism. Additionally, the organization recognizes a Journalist of the Year and a Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT media.
Browning won for his reporting on the plight of HIV+ Haitian immigrant Betsie Gallardo which began with a December 23, 2010 blog entitled “A Christmas Miracle for Betsie Gallardo":
Betsie Gallardo was a dying HIV+ Haitian child when missionary Jessica Bussert adopted both Betsie and her sister, Germaine. Betsie grew up in one of Haiti's worst slums where she was regularly sexually abused by a local policeman. Jessica brought the two girls home to America and Betsie responded well to treatment and has grown into a beautiful young woman - a ballet dancer.
Betsie moved to Florida recently and was in a car accident. When the emergency responders arrived, she flashed back to the horrendous abuse she suffered at the hands of that Haitian policeman and resisted arrest. She spit at a cop. The state of Florida sentenced her to five years in prison for battery on a police officer using spit as a deadly weapon - even though it isn't possible to transmit HIV through saliva.
Betsie has now been diagnosed with stage four cancer and is dying. After she didn't contact her family for over a week, her family traveled to Florida to check on her and discovered that doctors had discovered an inoperable bowel blockage. Betsie is unable to take in any food and is slowly starving to death in prison. The state has decided to refuse Betsie IV nutrition saying, "She's going to die sooner or later."
The Broward Correctional Institution warden has allowed her family to visit with her twice in the infirmary but was notified yesterday that there will be no more "special consideration." Since Betsie is too ill to have visitors during normal visiting hours, her family has been barred from seeing her. Their request to be at her bedside as she died was also denied.
As a result of Browning’s blog and the ensuing response by readers of Bilerico and other media outlets that picked up the story, Florida officials released Gallardo to a hospice on January 6, where she was allowed medical treatment and the company of her family before dying on January 31, 2011.
The tragic story of Betsie Gallardo is but one example of the type of social justice reporting Browning and other writers at Bilerico have become known for over the past few years, and the recognition for the important work has not been in short supply.
In 2009, the Advocate named Bilerico the ‘Top Political Blog’ and the Washington Post called Bilerico a ‘must read.’ NUVO readers will remember that the blog as a winner in both the 2010 and 2009 Best of Indy Readers Poll, for best local blog. Nationally, the blog most recently won the NYC Anti-Violence Project's Courage Award and the LA Stonewall Democrats' Bob Craig Media Award.
Congratulations, Bil! Keep up the great work.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a request for an injunction against SEA 590, an immigration reform bill signed into law by Governor Mitch Daniels on May 10.
The lawsuit is on behalf of three Indiana residents in particular. A report Wednesday by The Indianapolis Star identifies the plaintiffs as Ingrid Buquer, a Mexican citizen living in Franklin; Berlin Urtiz, a Mexican citizen who now resides in Indianapolis and has been a U.S. citizen since 2001; and Louisa Adair, a Nigerian citizen who is also living in Indianapolis.
In a press release circulated Thursday by the ACLU:
"For these three plaintiffs and many others in similar situations, this law would allow their arrests simply because paperwork - perhaps even paperwork supporting their routes to citizenship - had been issued by an agency sometime in their lives, even if they have committed no crime," said Kenneth J. Falk, legal director of American Civil Liberties Union - Indiana, the lead counsel in the case. "The law also will put police officers into positions for which they have not been trained and in fact are the province of federal immigration authorities."
As The Indy Star report details:
Major provisions of the legislation passed this year included penalizing businesses for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and denying in-state college tuition aid for undocumented students who live in Indiana.
At issue in this lawsuit are provisions that allow state and local police to arrest persons based solely on a "removal order" from an immigration court, a "detainer or notice of action issued" or if they have been convicted of one or more aggravated felonies — even if they have served their time and been lawfully released.
At the core of the ACLU's complaint is the assertion that the grounds for arrest outlined in the new lar would "violate the constitutional protection against arrests without probably cause and conflicts with preemptive federal immigration law."
The complaint says that, for example, the Nigerian plaintiff would be subject to arrest under the new law because a removal order was issued against her 15 years ago. She has valid work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security and a pending request to reopen the removal proceedings.
In the case of another plaintiff, a Mexican citizen with permanent resident status, a years-old theft conviction could make him subject to arrest, even though he served his sentence and his crime was later reduced to a misdemeanor.
The third plaintiff is also a Mexican citizen who has applied for a special visa because she was a victim of and witness to a violent crime. The fact that the United States Citizens and Immigration Services issued a "notice of action" to her indicating receipt of her application could make her subject to arrest.
If the suit fails in court, these new provisions will begin affecting tens of thousands of residents July 1.
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