Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Apple Picking Time in Ruidoso

By Julia Price

During the month of October, staff and volunteers from the New Mexico Alliance for Children took advantage of beautiful weather conditions to organize some fall harvest activities and apple picking/applesauce making with the children of Lincoln County Head Start.

In mid-October, the preschoolers of Capitan Head Start enjoyed picking apples at Smokey's Garden at the Ranger Station on Mechem Drive in Ruidoso. They learned how to make "cowboy-style" applesauce on an outdoor fire, explored the garden, made apple tree art, helped wash and prepare the apples for the sauce. They had the opportunity to sample several varieties of organic, locally grown fruits and veggies with their applesauce and warmed apple cider, as they learned about making healthy food choices. Smokey Bear made a special guest appearance, and afterwards the children ate lunch in the garden before heading back to school.

Thanks to all our staff and volunteers who helped make this a special day for the kids, and thank you to the Forest Service for hosting the event! Our Head Gardener, Roger Allen, and his father Bill Allen, demonstrated applesauce preparation on an outdoor grill. NMAC Program Coordinator/artist Patsy Blasdell guided the children in making a mixed media collage of an apple tree. Ranger Dan Ray helped the children reach apples from the upper boughs of the tree, made warmed apple cider, and assisted Roger in giving a guided tour of Smokey's Garden. Several volunteers helped us prepare a delicious, healthy snack, and the Head Start teachers and parents prepared an outdoor lunch for the kids. The Fall Harvest Celebrations are the culminating event of the year for all of our children at several sites who have spent the last several months learning about healthy eating and creating an organic, environmentally friendly garden space.

Plans are already underway for our next Spring Literacy Project in 2013, to provide ALPHA Literacy for the children of Lincoln County Head Start, along with teacher trainings and parent-child family literacy activities. ALPHA Literacy provides a hands-on sensory integration approach to better reading through music, art, and building active listening skills.

(The author is executive director of the New Mexico Alliance for Children).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

100 Catholic Theologians, Academics and Ministers Advocate for the Protection of the Common Good

A group of 100 Catholic theologians, academics and ministers from universities around the nation have developed a document spelling out what they see as threats to The Common Good. As a Roman Catholic, I appreciate the clear message in the document, which is very compatible with the Circle of Protection campaign. The document, which is entitled On All Our Shoulders: A Catholic Call to Protect the Endangered Common Good, is especially applicable during the current electoral season.  Here are some excerpts.
We write as Catholic theologians, academics and ministers concerned for our nation and for the integrity of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.  We write to hold up aspects of the Church's social doctrine that are profoundly relevant to the challenges our nation faces at this moment in history, yet are in danger of being ignored.  At a moment when the ideas of Atlas Shrugged influence public debate and policy, we write to proclaim the Catholic truth that the stewardship of common good rests upon all of our shoulders together.  This is a responsibility we dare not shrug. 
America is at a tipping point where the traditional commitment of our government to protecting and advancing the common good is in very real danger of being dismantled for generations.  Members of the "Tea Party," libertarians, Ayn Rand followers and other proponents of small government have brought libertarian views of government into the mainstream; legitimating forms of social indifference.  After decades of anti-government rhetoric and "starve the beast" tax cuts, some even appear to exploit predictable fiscal problems to establish a privatized, libertarian order that reduces society to a collection of individuals and shrinks the common good to fit the outcomes achievable by private, for profit firms.

Legitimate disagreements with the Obama administration must not lead the Church to edit the fullness of its teachings for political expediency. Our political obligations as Catholics go beyond choosing a candidate for which to vote.. In the words of Faithful Citizenship (U.S. Catholic Bishops statement on voting), our participation should help transform the party to which we belong."  Ours is a moment that demands the fullness of the Church's teachings as few others have. To be truly prophetic, the Church—bishops, clergy and lay faithful—must proclaim the fullness of its message to all parties, movements, and powers.
Click here to view the full document. 

The list of scholars and ministers who signed the document is very impressive. It includes clergy and lay persons; Dominicans, Benedictines, Franciscans, Maryknolls and Jesuits; Catholic scholars for worker Justice; Catholic workers; and faculty from LeMoyne College, Andover Newton Theological School, Santa Clara University, and the University of Notre Dame. I recently had a chance to met one of the theologians who signed the document Rev. Thomas Massaro, Dean of the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA. I actually met him before I knew that he had signed on to this document. In my conversation with Rev. Massaro, I discovered that he is a strong supporter of Bread for the World. I did recognize one other name on the list: Bill Quigley, who teaches at Loyola University-New Orleans School of Law. And there was one other person from my alma mater, Alex Mikulich of Loyola's Jesuit Social Research Institute.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

UNM Lecture Series: Food and Culture Around the World

Food truck in Napa, CA Photo by Carlos Navarro
The International Studies Institute (College of Arts & Sciences) at the University of New Mexico will be hosting a very interesting lecture series this coming week, entitled Food &Culture around the Globe.  

The series, which features presentations on various aspects about food and culture, is free and open to the public. All the lectures will take place in Dane Smith Hall (DSH).

Here is the schedule: 

Monday, October 29, 12:00 pm (DSH 123)

Food and Everyday Life in the Postsocialist World,” Melissa Caldwell, Professor of Anthropology and Co-Director of the Multi-Campus Research Program on Studies of Food and the Body, University of California Santa Cruz

Tuesday, October 30, 5:00 pm (DSH 125)

Indian Ocean Cuisine?" On the Limits of National Cultures,” Krishnendu Ray, Associate Professor of Food Studies and Chair of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health, New York University

Wednesday, October 31, 12:00 pm (DSH 123)

Cannabis and/as Food: Excavating Food–Medicine–Drug Linkages in the Atlantic World,” Chris Duvall, Assistant Professor of Geography, University of New Mexico

Thursday, November 1, 5:00 pm (DSH 229)

Belize and the Globalization of Food in the 19th Century,” Richard Wilk, Provost’s Professor of Anthropology and Program Director for Food Studies, Indiana University

Friday, November 2, 12:00 pm (DSH 125)

Food and Nationalism in Japanese Food Comics,” Lorie Brau, Associate Professor of Japanese and Program Director for Asian Studies, University of New Mexico

Lecture Series Co-Sponsors: Anthropology, Foreign Languages & Literatures, Geography & Environmental Studies, History, Latin American & Iberian Institute, National Security Studies Program.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Circle of Protection Campaign-Office Visits: Voices Beyond the Vote

(Editor's Note:  Participants in the Circle of Protection Vigil on Oct. 11 signed letters to the candidates for the First Congressional District and the Senate urging them to protect funding for programs that affect poor and hungry people in our country and overseas.  On Wednesday, Oct. 24, a handful of  anti-hunger advocates delivered those letters to the campaign headquarters of First Congressional District Candidates Janice Arnold-Jones and Michelle Lujan Grisham and Senate candidates Martin Heinrich and Heather Wilson.  This was the action that followed our evening of  reflection and prayer Here is a piece from Bread advocate Ellen Buelow about those visits).

Front: Joan Brown, Karen Golis, Annie Olsen (Heinrich staff), Loretta Sanchez, Betty Drobnik. Back: Will Drobnick, Ellen Buelow
The Voices Beyond the Vote
By Ellen Buelow

A meeting with Rachel Hadland of the Arnold-Jones' campaign
Voting as an advocate for those who struggle with hunger carries a heavy responsibility. Listening to the Voice of God's Spirit and allowing that Spirit to speak in the midst of the present political turmoil is no easy task.

When our small group decided to visit the candidates for the New Mexico First Congressional District and the U.S. Senate, we came equipped with the fruit of our city wide prayer vigil and letters of petition with 25 to 30 signatures each. 

Strengthening our commitment was a bond of JustFaith formation and supportive prayer, but most of us were new to Congressional visits.

With Bryce Dustman of the Wilson campaign
Sister Joan Brown, a Franciscan, executive director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, is a frequent advocate for environmental justice, and she encouraged us to share our stories.

Betty and Will Drobnick are JustFaith Coordinators for the Santa Fe Diocese. Betty shared her past work experience with clients applying for food stamps emphasizing the majority were working families. Will related his volunteer work at St. Felix Food Pantry in Rio Rancho.

Karen Golis mentors women leaving prison, and recently participated in Family Promise, a safety net for recently homeless families organized by Albuquerque churches. Holy Rosary Catholic Community, home parish for three of us, is part of this ministry.

With Dominic Gabello of the Lujan Grisham campaign
Loretta Sanchez, a member of the Holy Rosary  social justice group, volunteers with Albuquerque Interfaith. Loretta shared AIF's Work Force Ready, where immigrants attain skills needed in the workplace: GED, computer training, and filling in a job resume.

Ellen Buelow volunteers with Catholic Charities Refugee Relief Services and the School Readiness Program. Ellen related her observations of a Somali teenager who suffers from early malnutrition that led to retardation. Climate change in Africa, drought and food shortages combine to uproot African refugees.

Larry Buelow, a volunteer with Catholic Charities who tutors refugee teens in science and math, shared his experience as Congressional liason with Lockheed Martin. Larry noted that advocacy for poor and vulnerable people has traditionally not carried the same weight as providing jobs.

As we shared the stories and voices heard in our ministries, we realized synergy and strength of the voice of God’s Spirit in this witness. Although the impact of this witness isn’t apparent now, we wait expectantly for our Candidates to use our stories and create positive change for the people of New Mexico.

(Photos Courtesy of Ellen Buelow)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NCC Campaign Proposes to Preserve Funding for Human Needs Programs by Reducing Subsidies for Fossil Fuels

The National Council of Churches (NCC) is promoting the Faithful Budget, Faithful Stewardship campaign, which urges Congress to place a priority on human needs. 

But the effort, led by the NCC's Climate Change and Energy Campaign, also recognizes that we have to address our budget deficit,

To attain both objectives, the campaign proposes that revenues could be obtained by reducing subsidies for fossil fuels to energy companies (which currently total about US$10.7 billion) and using the money for five important programs: The Childern's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Head Start and local water infrastructure projects.

What are the examples of subsidies that would be cut? There are $46 million in direct subsidies for oil, gas and coal; $4.13 billion in targeted tax breaks;  $6 billion in general tax expenditures, and the rest in external subsidies.  Reducing the subsidies would result in minimal costs to the consumers and help provide revenues for much-needed human-needs programs.

There is more specific information in a booklet that the NCC published to promote the campaign. (Click here to download)

Here is the introduction:
Faithful Budget, Faithful Stewardship: Budgets are moral documents and Christians are called to advocate for an allocation of resources that protects all of God’s people as well as God’s creation. This analysis lays out the current subsidies being given to unsustainable fossil fuel production, and describes the opportunities for improvements in assistance for low income people, health insurance for children and water infrastructure if the subsidies for destructive and polluting industries ended
The NCC has put together information about how the campaign affects different states.  Below is the information for New Mexico.

Faithful Budget, Faithful Stewardship: The Impact of Federal Poverty Assistance Programs in New Mexico

In Faithful Budget, Faithful Stewardship 10.17 billion dollars of fossil fuel subsidies are revealed and contrasted with the cost of maintaining poverty assistance programs at their current levels. New Mexico taxpayers account for approximately 55.5 million dollars of subsidies, or 27 dollars per person. (1)

If the proposed budget cuts to various poverty assistance programs are passed this is the impact it will have on New Mexico:
  • CHIP: In New Mexico, 15.5 percent of children are currently uninsured (2). New Mexico has received performance awards for increasing chip enrollment in all three years that they have been available: 4.97 million dollars in 2011, 8.53 million dollars in 2010, and 5.37 million dollars in 2009 (3)
  • WIC: New Mexico’s WIC program served 64,304 people in 2011, at an average benefit of 59 dollars per month (4). According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, New Mexico would have to turn away 4,700 people from its women, infants, and children program if the House cuts were to go into effect (5).
  • LIHEAP: New Mexico is facing a cut of 7.45 million dollars from 2010 levels of funding. To make up that gap New Mexico could either cut benefits by 32.2 percent or turn away 24,131 families (6).
  • Head Start: New Mexico would face a cut of 7.57 million, resulting in 1,000 fewer children being enrolled in Head Start if the 14 percent cut voted for by the House of Representatives were distributed evenly across the states (7). The average salary of a Head Start teacher is 21,000 (8).
  • Water Infrastructure: The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that New Mexico needs to spend 54.1 million a year for the next 20 years to update its water infrastructure. (9) 
(1) Based on New Mexico’s percent of U.S. population (0.67 percent) and income level (81.5 percent). Source: U.S. Census Bureau
(2) from Children's Defense Fund
(3) from statehealthfacts
(4) Enrollment data from WIC and funding data from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service 
(5) from Center on Budget Policy and Priorities
(6) LIHEAP 2012 funding:  2010 Funding
(7) Based on data from Department of Health and Human Services
(8) Article from National Institute for Early Education Research
(9) from American Society of Civil Engineers

Monday, October 22, 2012

Foolishness to Believe We Can Make a Difference

"Why stand we here trembling around, calling on God for help, and not ourselves, in whom God dwells, stretching a hand to save the falling man?"          - William Blake
May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, hunger, homelessness, and rejection, so that we may reach out our hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in the world so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.

(Quote from Sojourners Verse and Voice  Prayer adapted from Education For Justice)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Some of the Money You're Raising in Today's CROP Walk...

Today is the day when several community and church volunteers will hold the CROP Walk in Albuquerque, and organizers have set a goal to raise $30,000 (along with attracting 300 walkers and 30 communities of faith).  Some of that money stays here in Albuquerque to help agencies like Project Share and The Storehouse.  But the lion's share goes to projects sponsored by Church World Service.  Perhaps you might want to know where a portion of the money goes. This video tells you about one such project. 

Children who don't receive adequate nutrition before their 5th birthday run the risk of developing life-long problems like stunting, blindness and cognitive disabilities. CWS fights chronic malnutrition with micronutrient powders: tasteless additives to food mothers are trained to give their children.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Joan Chittister and Richard Rohr Speaking from Wall Street to the Albuquerque North Valley

On the weekend of November 9-11, Sister Joan Chittster and Father Richard Rohr are featured participants in the Trinity Institute's 42nd Annual National Theological Conference entitled Radical Christian Life: Equipping Ourselves for Social Change. The Trinity Institute is a continuing education program founded in 1967 as an outreach of Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal parish in New York City. 

On Friday evening and all-day Saturday, plenary addresses and interactive sessions with Sister Joan will interweave with small group creative work sessions where tools will be shared for contemplative discernment, personal and communal spiritual practices, and faithful engagement. 

“Our task is now to be radical Christian communities in the here and now, not fossils of a bygone reality, not leftovers from an earlier golden age. Now we need new wisdom and a new kind of struggle to determine what we must be and do in the midst of these changing times,” said Sister Chittister.

On Sunday, Father Rohr will preach at the conference Eucharist and celebrate our commitment with a ritual of commissioning. Here is the full schedule for the conference. 

So now you're thinking..."Sigh..This is really great, but I can't get to New York City..."   

Have no fear. If you live in Albuquerque, you will be able to view most of the the conference via a taped webcast on the following Saturday, November 17, at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 601 Montaño Rd. NW (in Albuquerque's North Valley), 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande's Mission to the Homeless is a lead sponsor.

Other churches around the country and some international locations will also be hosting a live or taped webcast of this conference. Click here to find a site.

Registration Information for Albuquerque Webcast

If you would like to participate in the Albuquerque webcast on Saturday, November 17, please register by sending the following information along with a check for $30 to the address listed below. Deadline to register is Thursday, November 8.

Email Address
Dietary Restrictions
Childcare Needs

Cost is $30, payable to St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church. Scholarship Assistance is available. For more information, please contact Kathryn Ravenwood at 345.8147. 

St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church
601 Montaño Rd NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107