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Written by steveperaza on Apr 12, 2014

672 One Region Forward

An eclectic mix of educators, legal professionals, and community activists convened today at the Olmstead Center for Sight in downtown Buffalo to attend the first of four sessions in One Region Forward’s Citizen Planning School, an educational program designed “to empower citizens to plan for change in their community.” 

The session 1 program, "Sustainability--The Big Picture," included three brief lectures and an in-class survey. The lectures defined “sustainability,” delineated its challenges, and explained One Region Forward’s role in making sustainability a regional goal. The quiz surveyed attendees’ ideas about transportation reforms. One Region Forward filmed the session and will publish it online for those who were unable to attend. Three more...

Written by nicoleszucs on Apr 8, 2014

Street art and urban interventions come in different sizes and shapes, and with different purposes. Up In San Jose, Costa Rica in the framework of the International Festival of Arts, I encountered a group of young people, full of energy who  saw a need a couple of years ago and decided to create a project to tackle people’s need of good food. The project is called Huertas donde sea (Gardens anywhere). It is a collective started by four people from different professional backgrounds (a graphic artist, an architect, an agronomist and an anthropologist) that seek to teach people about home organic agriculture. They want to bring people closer to their food, and more aware of the source and the methods. They believe that organic agriculture is possible anywhere and at different scales. I talked to one of the founder members Diana Medina.

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Written by Sheila Murray on Apr 3, 2014

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Traces signifying the importance of education are everywhere in Costa Rica, and I don’t just mean the masses of uniformed kids you see loading the buses; I’ve also seen traces in the street art.

This symbol in particular, which I would call the "raised fist" of education, was grafffitied along the side of the road and were...

Written by chloeanne on Apr 3, 2014

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According to these statistics, in “no state can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom unit at Fair Market Rent, working a standard 40-hour week, without paying more than 30% of their income.”  Take a look to see how many hours are needed in your home state to be able to afford an apartment! (Click on the image to enlarge it.) In my home state of New York, you would need to work 139 hours to afford a two-bedroom apartment. This is pretty incredible stuff.  

Written by steveperaza on Mar 26, 2014

659 If you're going to do it, why not step outside?In my neighborhood it’s not uncommon to see drivers smoking cigarettes in their cars with young children in the backseat. According to a recent study, poverty has something to do with it. Whatever the reason, parents really should stop lighting cigarettes in the cars they use to transport their kids. 

I live in the low-income housing section of the Town of Tonawanda. Here you’ll find dusty duplexes of various colors—blue, peach, red, green, etc.—where the rent is cheap and the accommodations slightly cheaper. 

My neighbors like me are strapped for cash, cramming growing families into the tight spaces they can afford. This neighborhood...

Written by nicoleszucs on Mar 24, 2014

Costa Ricans are not necessarily known for their social/political commitment or their street engagement. Coming from Bolivia where we have protests and social uprisings every other day, the land of “pura vida” always seemed very calm. As I engaged in the Weave’s new project I started to look for every opportunity to find street art that manifested social struggle, political movements or environmental cries in Costa Rica. The perfect occasion appeared: the elections. As I had heard from my Tico (Costa Rican) friends, a lot of people, especially young, were not very happy with the current political situation. Laura Chinchilla came into power in  2010, winning the election as the candidate  of one of the traditional parties, the PLN ( National Liberation Party) . However, she had the lowest popularity in Latin America for two consecutive years with...

Written by steveperaza on Mar 23, 2014

654 The Ken-Ton School District LogoThere’s an eerie cheerfulness in the ways that some journalists report budget cuts. When the blade falls, they don’t bemoan the folks who lose their heads—they cheer the executioner and hoorah as the heads roll.

Such seems to be the case in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda (Ken-Ton) School District, where “looming deficits” have prompted school board officials to propose deep budget cuts.  Local journalist Naomi Spencer all but cheered for board members as they chopped off several hundred thousand dollars at a time. In all the revelry, not one sentence—one word—accounted for the impacts these cuts will have on workers, parents, and children in the school district…

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District is...

Written by alpalu10 on Mar 21, 2014

Human rights: Whenenever this topic is brought up in conversation, there is a tendency to paint an image of a far away land where inequalities and injustices are every day happenings. Yet, what about human rights specific to our community? We can point fingers at other countries and say what needs to be done abroad, but taking the time to reflect on our own American society seems to be a bit of a struggle. I am entirely guilty of this. Until recently, I fell into the trap of the dominant discourse of America, a democratic and free society, thus blinding me to injustices within our own country. Through dialogue and education, I became aware of the responsbility we as citizens have to our own communities. 

Northern New York is a hot-bed for prisons as the economy is also heavily dependent on these systems to provide jobs to community members. Working with a variety of...

Written by steveperaza on Mar 19, 2014

The fiftieth anniversary of the War on Poverty inspired renewed political debates concerning the causes, consequences, and possible solutions to poverty. Historians have heard the call and begun to (re)examine the history of poverty in America. 652 Along these lines, legal historian Elisa Minoff has begun an interesting conversation concerning poverty studies both past and present. Writing for Right On, a blog examining the impact of the War on Poverty on American society and politics, Minoff analyzed a bibliographical essay on poverty studies published in 1964 and suggested ways that these works compared and...

Written by Sheila Murray on Mar 15, 2014

"Raised voices are seldom heard, fights rarely seen, and Ticos will nod and say "Sí," even if they don't mean it, simply to avoid conflict. "

-This is an excerpt from “Cultural Values and the National Self-Image,” my first assigned reading during orientation classes at the University of Costa Rica.

 

Well, I thought, how does such a passive culture maintain the peace while also implementing forms of expression and social/political/environmental movements?  
What I've discovered so far is that no one seems to do it alone, and all movements seem to have deeply rooted principles of peace and community.  


I see my journey thus far in Costa Rica as a three-step process. 

One: In coming to Costa Rica, I hoped to witness radical movements for climate justice and equality, perhaps people flabbergasted when they  ...