Archive for September, 2004

birthdays and voting

Monday, September 27th, 2004

Today is my brother’s 18th birthday. I am rather jealous that he gets to vote in a presidential election within two monthes of turning 18, whereas I had to wait two years. So actually my brother and I will be voting at the same time for the same election for the first time. It’s kind of exciting.

I’m planning on taking the bus home for the elections. Some people have been asking me why I would bother doing this when I could just send in an absentee ballot. I am voting in Massachusetts, where one more vote for Kerry is unlikely to make a big difference, so the questions seems to be why I’m bothering to vote at all. I believe that the reason you vote is not just about the power of the vote itself. It’s about being the kind of person who votes. It’s about being the kind of person who puts in the effort to be an active citizen. So wouldn’t it be more useful if other people knew you were the kind of person who voted? The benifit doesn’t just come from what you do when you check the box, but from the conversation you have with the little old woman who crosses off your name, the people you see walking to the polls, and the local state representative standing outside the townhall who says hello to you. Thats the reason I want to go home to do it. It just seems like it will matter more then.

Of course this is an idea that I picked up from my dad, so I don’t get all the credit for it, but I still think it’s important.

In other news, one of the slogans we’re using on campus to try and get out the vote is: “I can vote naked” which is true if you vote absentee.

public characters and social capital

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

It’s been rather a long time since I last posted, and as I’m nursing my sore throat with a cup of tea and some Indigo Girls, I figured I would write something.

I read a section of Jane Jacob’s last week for a class. In her book she talks about “public characters,” or people who publicly known in a community. They serve the purpose of communicating information within that community and thereby making the community safer and tighter. One of the things she says is that public characters serve a very limited role, and they must be willing, and they must not be over taxed. You can not use a public charcter too much or they will be unable to do the central role of their position. This idea resonated very strongly with me. I think it may be a little self inflating to consider myself a public character, but it’s an interested connection. On the flip side it seems that these public characters seem particularly apt at using social capital (my other favorite new vocabulary word). Social capital is the ability to use your relationships with other people to get things done. Using social capital creates more social capital.

I feel as though this idea fits really nicely into my other ideas about life and getting stuff done. What better way to affirm life and relationships between people than by acknowleging that those relationships are the most powerful way to accomplish things? I love it. So, I’m gonna go out and cultivate my social capital.

A friend of mine thought I said social capitalism this morning…. I’m not quite sure what that would be, but it’s an interesting idea. Another friend of mine, when I explained social capital to him responded with “Where I come from we call that using people.”

almost roadkill

Friday, September 10th, 2004

Today I almost ran over a squirrel with my bike. You know how squirrels do that think where they seem to pick the last possible moment to run into the street and still not get hit my your car?? Yeah, well, I think this squirrel was a trainee or something, because first of all, he picked my bike rather than a car. My bike is not that intimidating, compared to a car (especially since it’s pink). So, he runs out, and as my brakes squeek, and he gets within 2 inches of where my tire will be, he doubles back on himself. Honestly, I think he bent his entire body in half, and ran back into the bushes. So… no road kill, but it was close. And I have a feeling if I had hit him, I might have been just as damaged as he.

welcome to the police state

Thursday, September 2nd, 2004

I can hear sirens outside my window. Besides that campus feels idealic as usual. But just a few miles away in New York City things are far from idealic.

Roughly 1100 people go to my school… not that many, and this first week is all registration (a complex process of talking to all our professors and creating a personal program). This first week also happened to be the Republican National Convention, and being a politically active campus, that was a big deal. I know lots of people who have been in an out of the city all week for protests and such, and the stories that come back are getting uglier and uglier.

Yesterday 2 people I know (friends of a friend) didn’t come back from the city because they were arrested. We were told that they didn’t have ID on them when they were arrested, which made things worse. That was yesterday…. they’re still not back. Today I ran across a woman I know who had been arrested and been released. She was on her way to the deans office to try and get her hands of a list of the students who were in detention so she could get them connected with legal help. She said it’s estimated that 15 to 25 students from our school were in custody. The hope is if the school threatens to press charges, the police will let them go. The rumor is NYU succeeded with that.

Meanwhile, one of Annie’s dance professors told her about a march where the police baracked off the last 75 people in the peaceful march, closed in on them with motorcycles, and arrested people.

I don’t know how much of this is true, because there doesn’t seem to be any reliable news. Only one article of barely a dozen paragraphs in the New York Times. I do know that my friends haven’t come home, and that scares the shit out of me.

What kind of country am I living in that I am more scared of the police than anything else? A place where I have been frightened out of exersising my freedom of speech. It makes me sick to my stomach.