tideshift

Monday, August 07, 2006

Excerpts from My Journal

This is an imaginary journal, entirely written on August 7, 2006. I hope that some of the things will come to pass, when the dates have been and gone. We'll just have to see. - KW, 8/26/06

August 8, 2006 – Read at the peace fair in Cranford this past weekend. Lots of fun. I also tabled for FUSP – gave out a bunch of brochures for the Think Globally, Act Locally Potluck & Lecture Series. I hope people come to the lectures.

September 16, 2006 – Holy cow. There were like 200 people at the first lecture. They brought all kinds of food: lasagna and Indian food and a couple pots of different kinds of lentil soup. Rashid Burney had great things to say. Turns out Plainfield has received a $6 million grant, solely for the purpose of creating a functional network of bicycle, walking, skateboarding and roller-blading paths in downtown Plainfield. The grant application said we’d have technical support from the Mayor of Bogota in Colombia, and that guy, Enrique Penalosa, is already scheduled to come for the groundbreaking ceremony next week!

September 25, 2006 – Been quite a few weeks. There was some citizen consternation after the first lecture. People wanted to know how folks in wheelchairs and with walkers were supposed to get from place to place, if cars are going to be banned from the four central square miles around the intersection of Park Ave. & Front St. They wanted to know about getting to work.

But it was interesting. Instead of just yelling at each other, people started having organized discussions. One group decided that there are going to be electric-powered golf carts available for those with limited mobility – all they have to do is call and it’ll be someone’s paid job to come pick them up and take them where they want to go.

Another group started making a list – more like a computer database, of all the residents in central Plainfield, their education and work experience, their top three job skills, and the top three projects they would LOVE to work on, if they could do anything in the world with those skills.

A third group started making another database. More like a wish list, I guess. Everybody could put in the projects they’d like to see done, and the will be able to go to City Hall and put in their ideas anytime in the future too.

Like one person said: “Solar panels on every single building in downtown Plainfield.” Another woman wanted weekly knitting circles. A couple of kids put down a skate park. A really old man wearing a weird, pointy purple hat with stars and moons all over it said he wanted to see the Strand Theater refurbished for community productions and open mike nights. Somebody else said she wanted to start a community newspaper, printed completely on 100% recycled paper, with 100% soy ink.

And a whole group of nurses got together and put down something about setting up assisted living and nursing homes in some of the old, abandoned houses, with up to 10 patients in each house, plus a live-in, full-time, salaried cook, a live-in, full-time, salaried cleaning person and three nurses.

The list is fantastic.

Turns out, there’s this great computer program that takes the information from the skills database and matches it up with the projects wish-list, so after a few days of this brainstorming stuff, we printed out a giant three-year plan on a HUGE piece of paper. And everyone’s project got on it, and everyone got good jobs to do – all the things they love to work on, all within a mile of the intersection of Front Street and Park Avenue!

October 10, 2006 – We broke ground today on the first of about 400 community gardens. Part of that big project was to do a walking tour of downtown and find every available plot of sunny land at least five feet by 10 feet large. They even looked at parking lots and did some digging, and sometimes found that it wouldn’t be too hard to rip up the concrete to get to the good topsoil sitting underneath it.
The walking tour team marked off all the garden plots with Popsicle sticks and this hot pink yarn some grandma had too much of. Almost every yard and overgrown abandoned field and parking lot has a crazy hodgepodge of little pink fences, at all angles and tucked into every sunny spot imaginable. No trees will be cut down, and there’s only about twelve plots in parks, so there’s no problem with kids finding places to play.

Then it turned out there’s this old retired farmer who took a master class on sustainable organic urban agriculture living in the Park Hotel, and he’s willing to supervise the WHOLE thing. Over the winter, he’s going to train everybody who wants to learn all about buying seeds, planting seedlings, turning over the plots, setting up compost piles, weeding, non-chemical pest control, organic fertilizing, harvesting and seed saving. Then he’ll help out with the planting next spring.

He kicks butt.

He even wears these beat up denim overalls and a John Deere baseball hat sitting too high up on his forehead.

As for me, I got a great part-time job at the new community newspaper, writing and editing articles, helping with layout, the works. I’m at the office from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

October 21, 2006 – Holy cow again. There were like 300 people at the second lecture. It was Frank Ingargiola, the Principal of Plainfield High School. Most of the crowd was parents, plus some teachers, and a sprinkling of business and civic leader types.
Ingargiola has great ideas. The school district is already working on a plan to create five sort-of pods within two high school buildings, allowing kids to track themselves into Arts, International Affairs, Business & Technology, Health Care & Science and Vocational programs.

But he said the state suddenly found a huge stash of money, hidden away by Christie Todd Whitman in an account everyone forgot was there. All the Abbott school construction projects are going to be finished within two years, using recycled materials to cut construction costs, and specially setting aside 25% of the jobs for young apprentice construction workers who want to learn the trade.

Then he talked more about the different pods, and said each one is being designed around sustainable, ecological principles. All the cafeterias are going to serve organic vegetarian meals. All the non-play areas around each school are going to have a few of the community gardens with compost piles, planned and tended by the kids.

The Health Care and Science Program is going to link up with Muhlenberg Hospital and some of the new, 10-bed nursing homes, to train student nurses, do internships for kids interested in being doctors, and offer free walk-in clinics that will do vaccinations, sick child check-ups, blood pressure checks, diabetes screenings and other basic primary care services.

The International Affairs program is going to link up with the Carter Center, to train kids in world history, world current events and non-violent conflict resolution techniques, including exchange programs where kids will spend three to six months in a foreign country doing diplomatic work, while the kids from those countries come here.

The Vocational School is going to move its emphasis away from auto mechanics, now that there’s so much public transportation and so many bike and walking paths, to a new program called Re-Use Engineering, where the kids will learn about and invent new ways to repair or transform old throw-away stuff into attractive, safe furniture, building materials, and other home and office things.

The Business & Technology program is mainly an ethics curriculum, teaching kids about ethical and sustainable non-profit business practices, and about how to evaluate and manage the ethical implications of new computer and other technologies. The business kids work with the Three-Year Plan, adding to it, analyzing the way people’s skills are matched with other people’s needs, and doing their own small pieces of that project. The technology kids go out and repair and install computers in the elementary and middle schools, and in the new branch libraries popping up in empty houses every few blocks.

The Arts Program is the one that really got me excited. It’s more like a crafting guild, where the kids are learning to make pottery, wooden utensils. They do weaving, knitting and sewing, soap-making and candle-making, and, my favorite, mural-painting. Each class, each year, will be assigned an empty wall of some industrial building around town, to design and paint with huge, colorful murals. One of the first classes to do it made an Amazonian rain forest scene, with the canopy of the trees right up at the top of a four- story cinder block wall, and the trunks stretching right down to giant roots at the sidewalk level. It’s beautiful.

October 28, 2006 – We took the kids out for a walk today. It’s Saturday. We went to the opening of the new farmer’s market in the giant office building along Park Avenue, where there used to be a Dunkin Donuts. In the morning, the farmers from about an hour’s radius around drove their biodiesel trucks into the parking deck and started hauling the vegetables and fruits, and meats and cheeses, and breads and pies, and flowers, into the first floor of the building.

It’s a big, open space, with stalls along the outer walls and kids running around in the middle. The windows open really wide, so there was a fantastic gentle cross breeze, just starting to be a little cool for the fall. Mostly today they had apples, and pumpkins, and potatoes of all shapes and colors. And next year, all the produce from the local gardens will be brought here for selling or bartering with the new Plainfield Dollars – a barter currency meant to keep the wealth of the community circulating here, rather than jumping out into the bank accounts of the financial wizards on Wall Street.

On our way to the farmers’ market, we saw three different beat cops, and I recognized all of them! The police department started that about a month ago, getting the police out of their cruisers and walking around the neighborhoods on foot.

It reminded me of when I was little, when I really did think police were good guys, and I had forgotten that since I learned about police brutality and racial profiling and all the rest of that garbage. Turns out, most police are really decent guys, who haven’t had time, for a long time, to actually get to know the people they want to “serve and protect.”

Now they do.

We also stopped at one of the new coffeehouses on Somerset Street in North Plainfield. The owners, Lucia and Pablo (she’s from Italy, he’s from Colombia), have lined both side walls with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with donated books and toys from anyone who had a box in their attic full of stuff they didn’t want anymore. You can take what you like, leave what you’ve read or played with already, and there are four old squishy couches – in blue, green, a lighter green plaid, and a deep, dark plum – to sit in and drink coffee and read. There are also two or three scuffed old coffee tables, with chess boards and Parchesi boards tucked underneath, and a fantastic sound system piping in all kinds of eclectic music.
God, I love that place.

The kids each ate a biscotti and my husband and I had plain coffee.

November 8, 2006 – Thanks be to God, Allah, Yahweh and whoever! The Democrats re-took the House and the Senate yesterday! Linda Stender beat Mike Ferguson 61%-39%!
Democratic House: 384 Democrats*, 25 Republicans, and, miracle of miracles, 26 Greens! Democratic Senate: 61 Democrats, 37 Republicans, 2 Independents. Senator Bernie Sanders! Karl Rove had a heart attack. He’s in the hospital recovering, but plans to retire and take up golf when he goes home.

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid made a joint statement that their first order of business, upon taking office in January, will be to commence an impeachment investigation of the actions undertaken by President Bush and Vice-President Cheney in prosecuting the so-called “war on terror.”

November 18, 2006 – Last night was Robert Edward’s lecture, about learning how to motivate political leaders to help people take care of each other in their communities.

Everybody is getting really excited about this stuff. For one thing, they can see things going on. The new high school construction is well underway, with good jobs building it. The whole top is going to be covered with solar panels, and there will be three windmills on it, so it won’t use any electricity from the grid for heating, cooling or lighting. There’s a great theater going up at the school, plus they’re renovating the Strand Theater, and production companies are forming to rehearse and put on plays, puppet shows and concerts by local writers, artists and musicians.

Last week, renovations were finished on the building that will house the last remaining homeless family in Plainfield, a family of immigrants from El Salvador – mother, father, mother’s sister, father’s mother, and three children. The dad helped build the house, when he wasn’t cleaning at his client’s businesses, and the mom’s sister did almost all the interior painting, when she wasn’t teaching bilingual pre-school. They were living in the basement of their church until the house was done, and 20 or so local families each pitched in a few old household supplies – kitchen gadgets, crockery and whatnot - to get them started.

November 23, 2006 – So, Robert Edwards mostly talked about where debate happens and decisions get made in cities and towns like Plainfield, and how regular people can get plugged in to get their issues heard and, more importantly, solved. Since his speech, there’s been one City Council meeting, and there were four groups of 15 to 25 people at it.

One group was parents and teachers of elementary school students, who said they were sick and tired of the standardized testing and rigid curricula and large classes. They had already gotten a giant grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates & Warren Buffett Foundation, including funding for more teachers, supplies and renovations of abandoned buildings to create new, smaller neighborhood schools using creativity-driven curricula designed around fostering each individual child’s development, not fitting all the kids into one mold. The parent-teacher group had already written a municipal ordinance exempting the Plainfield School District from No Child Left Behind. They spoke a little bit about the timeline for the transition, gave copies to the council members and sat down. The council said they’d read it and vote on it within 14 days.

The second group was family members of victims of gang and domestic violence. They spoke about the grief when the victim was killed, and the terrible problems coping with new medical costs for victims injured and paralyzed by shootings and beatings. They told the council they’d already had a meeting with six gang leaders, leaders of People’s Organization for Progress, and the head of the new police foot patrol program.

Two of the gang leaders had come to the meeting with the group. They said about a third of their members were working on the new high school building, and in their time off, they were working to fix up the houses they’d been given, mortgage and rent-free, for them and their families to live in.
The rest of the gang members were sort of confused about what to do. Some of them spent a lot of time hanging out with the high school kids, painting the murals. A bunch of them were pitching in to dig the community gardens. And the rest were basically sitting on their stoops all day, talking to each other and listening to music.

The group as a whole wanted a commitment from the city council to explore ways of connecting victims of violent crimes, and their families, back to the community, and ways to help them get the medical care and psychological counseling they need.

The third group was a bunch of mothers with children. They said they were fed up with cooking meals for each individual family every night in every kitchen, and that they had found a vacant restaurant on 4th Street, owned by the city because of some kind of lien or eminent domain situation. They had already raised money from other neighborhood women to repair the stove, sinks, and refrigerator, pay for electricity to get the kitchen functioning again, and paint and fix up the chairs and tables.
They had already worked out a tentative schedule for group cooking fiestas.
They asked the council to sell them the building and land for a dollar.

The council had already heard about this project through the grapevine, and after a quick huddle, they voted unanimously to sell the building, for one dollar, to the Plainfield Mothers’ Cooking Cooperative.

The last group to speak up was made up of elderly men. The just wanted to announce that they had been involved in some of the most important events of the 20th Century – the Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and a few other things, and that, at the request of their grandchildren, they would be offering weekly classes and discussions to talk about what those experiences meant to them, what they’d learned, and so forth, in the community room at the YMCA across from City Hall.

It was a very interesting meeting.

December 6, 2006 – It snowed about four inches last night, and it looks magical outside. All the snow is still white and fresh, because there are no cars and plows scraping up the streets. Some people actually cross-country skied along the road to work, but most people shoveled their walks and then walked to get where they were going.

December 17, 2006 – A couple of nights ago, the lecture speaker was Stephen St. Hilaire, from the U.N. Association of New Jersey. Another good speech. He talked about the intersection of poverty and law, in terms of how state, federal and international laws protect workers from exploitation and attempt to provide all people with the means to meet their basic needs. There’s a new pro bono legal aid office opening in Plainfield to help people bring these types of suits – I’m going to volunteer my paralegal skills there once a week to help out the lawyers who have been linked up with that work through the big database.

But the thing that got my attention most was the bit about the economic contribution of women who raise children. I am one of those! Mr. St. Hilaire said that many cross-cultural studies have assigned a dollar value to the work of raising children in a home, commensurate with the cost of placing children in child care centers.
He said a main focus of the United Nations for 2007 is to draft and begin getting nations to adopt a Convention for the Financial Compensation of Parental Caregivers, and that the United States Congress, now that it’s in Democratic hands, is poised to adopt the convention. If passed, it would require the U.S. government to pay people who care for children, whether it’s their own kids in their own home, or other people’s children in a home or school setting, a Caring Stipend of $30,000 per year for the first child, or one half the median income for any given nation, plus $7,000 per year for each additional child.

St. Hilaire also referred to the studies about the connection between poverty and motherhood, basically saying that the Caring Stipend program, in combination with full funding of microlending programs, could lift up to 70% of the people living poverty worldwide, out of poverty.

It makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

Another interesting world event: the Iranian Oil Bourse opened last week, including producers from Iraq (which is peaceful, finally, after working out a three-part federation government with proportional sharing of oil revenues), Venezuela, Russia, Nigeria and a few other countries.

It’s being very well-managed - traded in petroeuros rather than petrodollars - to drive world oil prices up just fast enough to stimulate production of solar panels, wind farms, biodiesel, sustainable local and regional economic development (especially in the agricultural sector) and public transportation, and just slow enough to stave off global recession.

January 1, 2007 – Happy New Year! Work at the community newspaper’s been going well. We put out one issue per week, of 20 to 26 pages. There are no advertisements; the whole thing is funded by subscriptions because the information is so useful, and because we run good fiction and poetry pieces every week too. There is a huge community events section, though, which is kind of like ads, except nobody has to pay for them and all the events are being run by locally owned non-profits.

January 19, 2007 – First community pizza party tonight at the church. Should be a good time. I’m bringing all our board games, just in case people want to stick around and play afterward.

February 2, 2007 – Bitter, bitter cold. I went to visit some of the garden plots while they winter over. It should be neat, uncovering them in the spring and loosening the soil and sifting in the compost. I have to think about things like that to get through the icy cold winters.

February 17, 2007 – Last night’s lecture was Robert Spiegel from the Edison Wetlands Association talking about Environmental Justice. He picked out three industrial sites – giant buildings along the railroad tracks with yards full of junk and soil full of toxic sludge –and talked about the EPA funding to clean them up, and how we’re going to do that.

Part of his speech was a slide show of another site that’s already under construction. First, there was a picture of the building – a full city block of a four-story brick structure, with the windows all smashed out and violent graffiti all over the place. (I like some graffiti: the artistic, colorful, political kind. But this was just mean messages in almost illegible writing.) The second slide showed the yard, with mounds of rusted metal parts, and there was a major oil spill next to the parking lot.

The third slide was of the EPA trucks coming in to dig out the contaminated soil and replace it with clean soil – not topsoil, just fill dirt.

The next slide was the architect’s schematics of what was coming next: a co-housing development, using, of all things, reclaimed bricks and glass from the original structure to rebuild three sets of six row houses each, plus a community building on the fourth side of a grassy courtyard, with a play structure made out of recycled plastic in the middle. Around the outside of the housing structures were, predictably, a couple dozen small garden plots, surrounded by young to middle-aged oak trees lining the sidewalks on all four sides of the block.

Then there were a bunch of slides of the demolition – done by hand over about three weeks, by about fifty volunteers who had already signed on to live in the new houses. All the bricks were carefully stacked up in a staging area. All the good wood was stacked up nearby, and anything else that was useable from the factory furnishings.

Then there were a few slides of the foundation being dug, and the delivery of the solar panels and solar hot water heaters and biodiesel furnaces and composting toilets and water reclamation barrels and all the rest of the stuff. That’s where it stands right now; they’re starting to frame up the houses and will plant some of the trees in the spring.

Mr. Spiegel said one of the other sites going to be made into a park. Another one, with really large windows and brickwork in good condition, is going to become a block of studio apartments with an indoor public swimming pool in part of the building. The third site is either going to be a nursery for growing trees, or an outdoor amphitheater.

March 2, 2006 - There was another terrorist attack, on U.S. soil. Early this morning, suicide bombers took out all the car and rail bridges between Newark and New York City. No nuclear bombs, no chemical weapons, no biological attacks, and the only people killed, amazingly, were the bombers themselves, because they timed the bombs to go off at about 2:30 a.m., and they had accomplices dressed as road crews set up road blocks on both sides of each bridge to stop traffic before they blew up the bridges.

Osama bin Laden took responsibility very, very quickly, through a video released not only to Al Jazeera, but also to NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN and C-SPAN. All six networks have fired their coiffed talking heads and “military experts” in the last few months, and replaced them with actual foreign policy scholars and grassroots democracy activists from America and around the world.

Bin Laden said the attacks were designed to cripple the American “economic juggernaut” without causing loss of human life. He said American actions in other countries have regularly crippled their local and regional economies, and that he hoped, by Al Qaeda’s non-lethal actions, to help American citizens understand the consequences of their government’s actions and take responsibility for changing the course of U.S. foreign policy.

March 15, 2006 – I can’t make it to the lecture tomorrow; I’ve got the flu and feel wretched. But Leigh Davis sent me a copy of her speech. It looks pretty good. She’s talking about international organizations, like Non-Violent Peaceforce, that go into war-torn countries to work alongside human rights activists, and the Carter Center, that trains mediators to do high-level conflict resolution.

But mostly, she’s talking about local groups, like Union County Peace Council, Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War and New Jersey Peace Action, and how their membership and budgets and visibility have grown so much these past few years. It’s commonplace to see local vigils in support of the Israeli Peace Force and their Palestinian and Lebanese counterparts, who are occupying white tents in the demilitarized zones along the borders, fed by the women of all three states, and protected by only their lack of any weapons and their commitment to working together to share the water and other resources of the region, and emphasize the commonalities in their religious beliefs.

It’s even more common to find members of these groups on the boards of municipal civic organizations, and on town councils, zoning and planning boards and boards of education. They are bringing their considerable understanding of global politics, history and human behavior to bear on local decisions, with very good results, for the most part. Other towns are, like Plainfield, transforming themselves into more livable places, and weaning themselves from fossil fuels.

And the public response to the most recent attack, where they blew up the bridges, shows what a HUGE change has happened since 9/11. This time, public officials stated clearly that there were reasons for why our bridges were attacked – historical reasons that personally motivated the suicide bombers. People are trying to understand; they are taking their time and thinking things over; they not immediately reaching for revenge. Many are openly questioning U.S. military bases in the Middle East, Asia and South America, and several legislators are preparing bills to cut funding for these bases and bring the troops home.

It’s different in other ways too. People are starting to cope with the loss of the bridges by telecommuting, and changing jobs to work closer to home. The giant financial center of Wall Street is getting less and less important as the days pass and international business becomes more about trading goods and services we have, for the ones that we don’t, and less about generating fortunes for a handful of families.

March 20, 2007 – Feeling much better. People have told me Leigh’s speech was great, and that there were about 250 people there. Most of them stayed afterward to ask her questions and find out more about getting involved.

The seeds are being planted in little trays, filled with soil from wherever they are going to be planted in six weeks. They’re sitting in warm, sunny windows of apartments and houses all over the city, getting ready to sprout.

In Washington D.C., the Democratic Congress has impeached President Bush and Vice-President Cheney; both are going into exile. Nancy Pelosi will be sworn in tomorrow as the new President until the election in 2008.

Besides the impeachment, the House of Representatives has also all but finished a workable national health care plan, to take the burden off of workers and business owners, finally, and put it where it belongs, as the responsibility of the whole society. It will be funded by a new 85% tax on corporate profits, aided by a new, simpler documentation and oversight system that will make it possible for the IRS accountants to keep the money from going offshore.

The Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce are totally on board: they don’t have to worry about rising health care costs screwing with their financial projections anymore, and they’re getting a healthier, happier workforce in exchange.
Plus, Congress has made a good start to a guaranteed pension package, expanding Social Security to keep everyone over 65 getting between 100 and 110% of the living wage level, but no higher than that. So the companies aren’t worried about bankrupting themselves to pay for pensions, and the shareholders aren’t worried about making huge profits to fund their retirements. No one cares about profits anymore, except as a source of tax revenue to get churned back into social program budgets every year. Who knows? Workers may be more motivate and more productive than ever, with those kinds of incentives.

April 4, 2007 – Went to an outdoor public movie screening last night. They put a film projector so it would beam Honeydripper, the new John Sayles film, onto the side of a building off of Madison Avenue. Good film.

April 21, 2007 – Steve Hatcher and Jeff Hitchcock from People’s Organization for Progress spoke last night. There wasn’t much to say about police brutality and gang violence. The brutality and racial profiling stopped within a few months of the beat cop program, and the gangs pretty much disbanded when the men in them found they could earn decent livings and tremendous community respect through something other than fear.

They built the new high school and renovated the old one; both projects were finished in late January. Then a bunch of them went back to school themselves, so they could teach in the schools and get ready for other leadership positions. They can support themselves and their families; they don’t need the gangs, or the pain-relieving drugs, or the drug-dealing income anymore.

So mostly Steve and Jeff talked about their work improving the local affordable housing stock, which is well under way, and the national movement to end the death penalty. The New Jersey State Legislature banned capital punishment on April 17, after years of hard work by New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and many other groups. There’s a case in the Supreme Court, slated for oral arguments next week, to declare the federal death penalty “cruel and unusual punishment” outlawed by the Constitution.

May 18, 207 – And the last lecture is tonight: Deborah Jacobs of the ACLU.

She’ll be talking about how communities have responded to the Patriot Act, illegal wiretapping, torture of detainees in U.S.-run prisons, the suspension of habeus corpus for prisoners designated “enemy combatants” and other civil liberties violations and expansions of executive power enacted by former President Bush.
At the beginning, town councils didn’t have much help. They had to pass municipal ordinances forcing their local police forces to comply with extra protections for civil liberties when asked to participate in federal terrorism investigations.
But when she took office back in March, President Pelosi immediately rescinded the most abusive orders. She and Congress banned torture, again, but with no contradictory signing statements, and she ordered the Justice Department to begin prosecuting those who ordered and carried out torture during the previous Administration.

She placed NSA surveillance and all other search warrants back under the supervision of Congress and the courts, and disbanded the Total Information Awareness program, permitting data collection only on individuals who the government had hard evidence to support allegations of criminal activity.

President Pelosi also ordered that all prisoners in U.S.-run prisons, including those in the no-longer-black sites in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, be immediately released, or properly charged and brought to the U.S. Penitentiary in Hazleton, West Virginia, with free access given to their attorneys, family members, the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the UN Commission on Human Rights. So probably that’s some of what Ms. Jacobs will be talking about during her speech.

June 22, 2007 – We had the second pizza party last week. It was raining, but everybody went outside to run around in the rain after they ate their pizza, and splashed in the puddles, and looked at the gardens. The peas and beans and tomato plants are already getting big, the squash leaves are huge, and the plots are totally weeded all the time, because anyone who goes by and sees a weed stops to pull it out.

August 5, 2007 – Today is the Fourth Annual World Peace and Friendship Fair in Cranford. One year ago today, I finished writing this journal entry. I’ll be reading again soon, and sitting at the table under the tent, passing out information for the Plainfield Justice Center, opening next month in the building next door to the church, and the new lecture series, and lots of other things. Lots to do. More later.

*Originally, I wrote 410 Democrats - thanks to an alert reader for the correction. - KW

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