Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Documentary: Waging A Living

What is the American Dream? I don't think it has anything to do with a picket fence or 2.5 kids and a station wagon.

No, I think the Wikipedia article on the "American Dream" that references the following quotation by James Truslow Adams is a pretty good summation of what the dream should be:

The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.

This phrase was first used by Adams in 1931 in his book, The Epic of America.

The documentary, "Waging a Living," fully embraces that ideal expressed by Adams and exposes the harsh reality that a huge portion of Americans do not and will not attain this dream. The "dream" is altered by a seemingly inescapable loop of poverty that forces Americans to stay stagnate in their earning capabilities.

The movie, by filmmaker Roger Weisberg, follows four people over a period of three years. The featured individuals and their families share their struggles with job searches, limited or non-existent household funds, health insurance and health care, and job security and advancement. They become the physical embodiment of the poverty statistics that are peppered throughout the film.

The movie does a great job of illustrating how very difficult it is for someone to "pull themselves up by the boot straps" and step out of the darkness of poverty. The featured individuals are hard-working, goal-seeking people who attempt to gain more education and experience in the hopes of getting ahead in the workplace and in their place in life. These are full-time workers who do not have the financial means to cover their basic needs.

A single mother of five who works full-time and attends college part-time in order to earn an associates degree, utilizes the social services that are available to her only to discover that every step she makes to become more self-sufficient keeps her increasingly dependent on welfare aid. She says she is "hustling backwards" and that it seems the system is doing all it can to keep her a member of the working poor.

Filmmaker Roger Weisberg states that the term "working poor" should be an oxymoron. I'll go one step further and say it shouldn't be a part of the American lexicon.

I was raised with the edict that if one works hard enough, they will see their dreams come true and will live comfortably. The ironic part of that lesson is the fact that the members of my family quoting that line were themselves a member of the working poor.

Filmed in 2005, this documentary reflects the struggles still apparent in 2010. We still don't live in a country where every person can attain "the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." Yes, life should be richer and fuller based upon the ability, desire, and application of one's work ethic. Unfortunately, this concept is not a reality for the more than 30 million Americans who struggle every day just to keep their lights on and feed their families.

What is your state's minimum wage? U.S. Minimum Wage Rates

Are you making a living wage? The living wage calculator is a great site that breaks down information by your county to help you determine exactly what you need to be bringing home just to cover your basic expenses or to "meet minimum standards of living."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wings and Fences Crafts for Animals In Haiti

Just as I had sit down to design a new line of brooches, Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake. As fate would have it, the brooch design centered on the American Sign Language symbol for "I Love You." It only seemed appropriate to donate a portion of the profits from the sale of these brooches to the Haiti Animal Relief Fund.

I am a trained volunteer for United Animal Nations EARS Team – Emergency Animal Rescue Service. The UAN, as a participant in the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti, is helping to provide financial support for a mobile veterinary clinic that will provide emergency care to the animals injured and displaced in Haiti.
I encourage you to check out UAN, and if you've ever been interested in volunteering with an emergency animal rescue, you should attend one of their training workshops.

To find out more about the fund: http://www.uan.org/index.cfm?navid=670

So, from Jan. 18, 2010 - February 18, 2010 I am offering the following:

Etsy & Artfire Wings and Fences Shop: 

10% of the profits from the sale of my ASL "I Love You" brooches will go to the Haiti Animal Relief Fund.

5% of the profits from the remainder of the items in my shop will go to the Haiti Animal Relief Fund.

Buy Handmade

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

Bonanzle Wings and Fences Shop:

10% of the profits from the sale of all items in my shop will go to the Haiti Animal Relief Fund

One Pretty Thing, a highly addictive and beautiful site, is compiling a list of  "Crafters for Haiti" who are raising funds for assistance to Haiti.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Anna Karenina

Okay, so I've never been the biggest fan of Tolstoy, but I'm gonna give it a go. Sometimes you just need to put time and new experiences between yourself and an author or book to appreciate it.

So, while I don't follow Oprah's book club, I have heard rave reviews about the translators of the version she used for her club. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky are considered premier Russian translators, and I am excited to see what their English translation brings to the story.

Here is a reading guide for the book.

Of course, I'm also trying to finish up another book. From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain by Minister Faust is an interesting read, and definitely a book I never would have considered ten years ago. The older I get, the more I'm in search of a superhero.

Have a Shelfari Shelf? Link up with me! Wings and Fences Shelfari Shelf

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ode to the Funny People That Keep My Head Out of the Oven

How do I love thee?

It has been awhile since my last post because I've been battling a sinus infection that spread to my teeth and caused me to contemplate the removal of said offending teeth and just head straight into dentures. On top of this lovely mess, a filling replaced in November was done incorrectly, requiring additional dental work. Not a happy camper. Antibiotics and humor kept me sane over the holiday and through the healing period. Thus, a thank you to those keep me laughing and keep my head out of the oven.

Catherine Tate - My fellow red, you've taught me to not be bovvered by anything that doesn't make me laugh.

Matt Lucas and David Walliams - If ever I'm on a deserted island, I'm sorry, but you will need to accompany me. As individuals and a combo, I find you delightful.

King of the Hill
- As a native Texan, I'm tickled when I see or hear glimmers of images past in the words and actions of the Hill family. Sadly, KOTH went off the air in 2009, and Brittany Murphy, the human counterpart to Luanne Platter, died in December.

Ricky Gervais
- You slay me. You force me to watch your outtakes just to hear your silly laugh.

Graham Norton
- You are hilarious, and you've created a show that can be filed under "can't miss" with the combination of actors, comedians, and musicians you invite to your naughty couch. I love the interaction you have with your audience--note to self: be careful what you volunteer for when you attend a GN taping.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 - My BFF in high school raved about this show but I didn't have the cable channel that aired it and had not a clue what she was talking about. Now that I can find the episodes on the shelves of my local library, I'm quickly catching up on the series. Question for Laserblast fans, Why is Billy's face the only part of his body that turns green? And, "Are you ready for some football?" :)

Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist
- This is a series that I can watch over and over and keep laughing. I catch something new each time around. I love the relationship between Dr. Katz and his son, Ben. They are a sweet duo. Here is a great episode guide to the show.

Wanda Sykes - A little sass and a lot of fun. The social and political commentary in her stand-up comedy is spot on. I just love the fact that she isn't afraid to "go there" with her comedy.

French and Saunders - Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are two very funny ladies. I can't get enough of their "recreated" music videos. Wish there were more female comedic duos.

Who keeps you laughing?


Related Posts with Thumbnails