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The Graf Family mini-website has outgrown the MilwaukeeRenaissance.com greenhouse!

Projects that Bob Graf has started with other community members are still here on the MilwaukeeRenaissance.com, where growing conditions are so great for small, tender seedlings — see

Moving to our new wiki home, at NonviolentWorm.org:

Included below is the live home page of the NEW Diary of a Worm, on the New NonviolentWorm.org wiki website. Clicking any link below will bring you to our new site!

Nonviolent Cow : DiaryOfAWorm/Diary of a Worm browse

Welcome to the Journal of the Graf Family Growing Power Home Model


Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09



In January of 2006 I toured Will Allen’s Growing Power farm. Inspired by the Growing Power vision, my wife, son, a family friend and I constructed a home-based version of the Growing Power system in our sun-room.

We started by building an 8′ X 2′ box in our three-season room, and (with help of good persons at Growing Power and some worms) grew, with mixed results, salad greens and seedlings for the first summer’s garden. As the seasons change, our focus shifts back and forth between the sun-room and its evolving Growing Power Home Garden Project Box, and our Growing Power backyard garden, where we use the rich soil, worm castings and worms from the indoor box outdoors. Same system yet different.

Digging in the earth can uncover all kinds of things, and so can digging deep in ourselves. In my online journal, I have been recording daily reflections on the progress of our efforts in adapting the Growing Power model to our home and garden, mixed with my observations about life, peace, justice, faith, family, community and friends. Enjoy. Thank you! — Bob Graf


Click below to read any post in full — see the Archives for older posts.


Unconscious Cultural Racism - Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Tonight I went with two friends from our St. Vincent de Paul society to a talk at Mount Mary College about Racism and Catholic Church. Actually the talk was called “Unconscious Racial Bias and the Challenge of Solidarity: Catholic Social Justice Post Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and . . .” The unconscious cultural racism was important to me. In recent years I have become aware of racism around me, from eliminating the basketball rims when African Americans started to use the courts to racial discrimination of local St. Vincent de Paul Society that got me recently suspended. Once your eyes are opening it is frightening. Solidarity with African Americans becomes nature for what you are seeing is experience every day by African Americans.

Yes, racism has become a taboo word every time I brought it up at meetings about the basketball courts and the location of St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in white, high income neighborhood where it is not needed, rather than in black, low income neighborhood where it is needed.

Racism is deep in our society and will take more than change of laws and regulation to get out. We all need to dig deep in our hearts and soul and become aware of our own ‘unconscious’ racism. It will take heart to heart dialogs, which we got a taste of tonight, before much it done.

I hope I have courage to continue with message of racism, something people do not want to hear. I had one small victory today when after hours and hours of talks with Att we were able to restore her basic phone services. This struggle was a good example of the struggle to overcome ‘unconscious’ cultural racism


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Devices are Taking Over Our Lives - Tuesday, November 18, 2014


With record snowfalls and record cold reported across the country, I guess any thought of extending fall to make up for a cool summer is gone. Maybe next year we have some of the warm weather of climate change where each year the average world temperature rises. Extreme weather has become a hot topic and even here in Milwaukee where we only had a little snow and it has been a little colder than normal extreme weather eats up our news. Why people like weather reports so much I do not know. If I want to check on weather I just look at the App on my smart phone which is usually more accurate that radio and TV news.

I heard a freighting report on radio today how obsessive we have become with our devices like smart phones, tablets and computer. The story was about a young man who, while texting and driving, killed two men. At first he denied he was texting when the accident occurred, but when a specialist talkeed about how our devices distract us without us even knowing it he realized that he did kill these men because of texting. He is now an advocate of not texting while driving which most Americans agree with but many of them still practice it.

Checking on devices for texts, emails and information, like weather conditions, or diving instructions has become like a slot machine for many. Although most text and emails bring us not much new or exciting we keep checking, like pulling the lever of the slot machine, looking for the ‘good news.’ Science has shown how our devices have affected our brains.

I must admit I am guilty. If I sit in the living room to take a break or eat lunch I find myself turning on TV, flipping channels looking for news or sports or checking my phone or email. There are Apps for just about everything from checking the biblical readings of the day to doing speed check on passing cars.

The poor, elderly, ill, the people without a lot of devices are being left behind and we who have lots of devices are becoming more and more passive. We can hear or read about anything on our devices so why do anything more than send a text or email. I am guilty as the next person in allowing devices to take over my life.


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Overcome Evil with Good - Monday, November 17, 2014


Being banned from making home visits is a lost for me. But with the type of friends I am now developing there is no lost of ways to help friends, from driving someone somewhere to help getting a phone connected. The new world of technology, fast cars and computers, smart phones and twitter has left some people, poor, old and ill behind.

So that part of the Catholic Worker equation remains, works of mercy. The other part, resistance to injustice and violence, war and greed is also not hard to find. When one eye is open to the evils of racism and militarism they appear everywhere.

What is hard to do, these days, is when facing what you may see as evil to overcome it with doing good. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12: 21) When a Catholic institution that you love and respect, like St. Vincent de Paul, locally treats the poor badly and bans you how do you respond? When Marquette, a Jesuit Catholic University, ignores its own teaching and teaches war and killing what do you do? It is easy to criticize such things but how do you turn them around with love and respect.

I do not know what to do but to keep on speaking the truth and acting on my conscience. More prayer and silence will help guide me but more and more I am getting to understand St. Ignatius of Loyola when in a prayer in his Spiritual Exercises he says to welcome rejection, insults and being ignored when you are doing something in the name of Jesus. I am not sure what I am doing is in the name of Jesus but I certainly can follow his advice by taking the evil I see around me and doing my best to overcome it with love and goodness.

I hope I am not too old to overcome evil with good.


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Give to Needy Not Greedy - Sunday, November 16, 2014


Last night we had our first snowed, about an inch. The fear of a big snow never materialized here in Milwaukee but the bitter cold did. Hope of temperatures above 30 are quickly disappeared and we are in winter, like it or not.

All of our Wisconsin Sports team, Packers, Bucks, UW football and basketball won this weekend so maybe we will have some interesting sports games to distract us from the cold of this winter.

Today’s Gospel the parable of the ‘talents’ Matthew 25: 14–30 is a favorite of capitalist and greedy. It seems to condone making money on money and usury. But this is a complete misinterpretation since early followers of the Way, Jesus, considered Usury, making money from money, immoral and a sin. Many preachers, like ours in Church today, understand the “talents” talked about in the Gospel the same as what we would call talent in English language. It actually was a large sum of money and the people of Jesus’ day probably understood the servant who did not use his money to make money as the hero. If you read the rest of Matthew 25, especially the part about the “Last Judgment” where those who cared for the least were caring for God, the story of the ‘talents’ takes on a new meaning.

Jimmy Carter is attributed to have said: “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian values, because you don’t. The same sentiment of sharing abundance with those in need is expressed in faith Muslims, Hindu’s and others.

I heard a biological scientist once say that altruism is a natural generic value of creatures who survive throughout the ages. Besides humans he names, worms, bees and cockroaches are creatures that would sacrifice for the common good.

I believe this is why ‘usury’ was considered so harmful to early followers of Jesus, called later Christians. Being a man (or woman) for others, like St. Ignatius of Loyola urged the members of the Society of Jesus, Jesuits, in my opinion is natural. By being for others we really are defending ourselves.

Being for others is being for self. As followers of the Way of Jesus we give and live for the needy not the greedy.


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Machines and Humans Work Together to Wreck Havoc - Saturday, November 15, 2014


Yesterday I observed how communication technology leaves the poor behind and today I found out that humans can help or make it worst. I went back to my 86 year old friends home trying to restore her phone service. After a hour and half the other day we discovered that the problem was with the billing department. Someone had sold her a package she did not need or use. She even had wireless computer connection included although she has no computer. The phone company representative insisted she pay back bills for services she did not receive or want. He said, paying the large bill was option one. When that was impossible it came up with option two and switched me to person who he said would restore her old fashioned basic line service. This person was doing that until he came to the credit check. I told him what problem was but he tried and when he failed put us back on hold for the billing department where we had started. After being on hold for a very long time I finally hung up and called again and again to the smart robo phone person who said he understood complete sentences Clearly he did not understand my request to speak to a customer service supervisor but finally a human answered.

By now my cell phone cell batter was being depleted. The third person today seemed to understand our problem and came up with a way to bypass the system and restore basic phone system. It is scheduled for tomorrow morning but will not work if the technician who installed the bundle stuff disconnected the regular land line. I expect he did and if it is true will be back Monday to help my phone restore service.

So after over 3 hours of communicating which high tech machines and humans I am not much further than when I originally called.

Machines and humans teaming together wreck havoc on old, poor or ill or even “near normal” persons like myself.


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Communication Technology Leaves Poor Behind - Friday, November 14, 2014


Two events today reminded me how modern US communication technology is leaving the poor, outcast, elderly and ill behind. One was a friend of mine who has no computer or printer in her house. We made arrangements to go to a local university next week to hear a speaker. We both called for reservations since the new way of getting in on free talks for public at a university to public is to call. We both called and left messages on a phone. We got call backs that we were registered. However, than I got a call asking for email address since the admission tickets would be emailed to me and I could print it out. A little while I got another call from the same friend saying he could not reach my friend but asking for her email address so he could email her a free ticket. I explained that my friend had a smart phone but no computer and printer. He said he would email her ticket to me and, after a couple tries, he did.

An 86 year friend of mine was very hard to reach by phone, her only communication device with outside world. Finally she answered the phone yesterday and explained to me that her phone was only able to receive calls but not make ones. We made arrangements to meet the next day but when I called her back with a change of time I was greeted by an automatic message saying her phone number was changed and it was unknown. I went over to her house to check on her and found her with no phone service. The phone is important to her for many reasons, one, being her 114 year old mother in Florida would get help calling her at her number.

After spending over an hour with three AT&T officials I found out it had something to do with her billing. I said I would work on it with her today after we got back from our scheduled appointment. When we got back, however, my alarm on cell phone rang reminding me that I need to pick up my Goddaughter from school today. So I took some bills she had found and said I would be back tomorrow. It looks like someone, perhaps accidentally, ran up some big bills for services she does not use. She only uses the phone to make local calls and to receive local and other area calls like from her mother and friends.

I have ran across this same situation with my own phone and with phones and communication equipment of friends who are not technology acute and cannot spend the many hours of frustration it sometimes takes to get to human beings that can solve your problem.

It used to be and still is that lack of car handicapped the poor and ill. Now it is modern means of communications. Our world of communication technology, text, emails, tweets, internet connected computers and printed is leaving people behind and make it “harder to be poor.”


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Blessed and Valuable Beggars! - Thursday, November 13, 2014


Whatsoever You Do

Yesterday I saw a news story how Churches were encouraging members not to give money to beggars. It was suggested people give money to charities instead.

Today I read how the month of November brought both highs and lows to the sculptor, Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, of Homeless Jesus On the one hand his life-size sculpture depicting a barefoot, blanket-shrouded Christ, asleep on a park bench, was blessed by Pope Francis on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica following the Wednesday General Audience on November 20. On the other hand, another of Schmalz’ works, a statue of a beggar, called “Whatever You Do” was stolen from the Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields in Kensington Market, a historic neighborhood in downtown Toronto. This statue depicted Christ as a beggar slumped on the ground, holding out a nail-printed hand. Drawn from the Beatitudes, it spoke of how Christ is revealed in the marginalized among us—the poor, the hungry, the imprisoned. I guess when the statue of Homeless Jesus was blessed by the Pope the price of his others works increased in value. So if you see the sculpture picture on this page please report it to authorities.

Now if the pope blesses all beggars, following sayings of Jesus that “Blessed are the Poor” and “whatsoever you do for the least you do unto me,” I would hope the value of beggars will rise.

Many great saints, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of Jesuits and St. Francis of Assisi, founder of Franciscans were beggars. Somehow in our American culture beggars have gotten a bad rap, as thieves or marginalized people to be ignored. Jesus, as a homeless beggar, would have a hard time today, even with a nail-printed hand.

A beggar came up to me last Sunday as I was going to my car after Church. Normally I give money to beggars, the amount determined how I size them what. However, this person they did want my money even though he needed it for shelter. To keep his self respect he wanted to tell me jokes and thus earn any money I may give him. So I let him tell me three jokes as I walked to my car. They were Zombie jokes like: “Why do Zombies not eat clowns?” “They found them funny.” I gave him some money and he went on to earn more money telling jokes.

I heard one scripture scholar say that “Blessed are the poor” in Jesus’ time could be understood to be “Blessed are the blind beggar” since people with disabilities like blindness usually had no family support and were dependent on begging to survive.

Jesus was generous to beggars and so will I,for they are blessed and valuable.


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Three Rejections in One Day-Magnificat - Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Jesus, Rejected by his
own people in home town
of Nazareth Luke 4: 16-31

Today I received three rejections relating to my suspension from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. One was from our local conference President who I asked to attend local conference meetings and make home visits during the time of my appeal to Society was being processed. She said she had orders from local staff saying I could not do that.

One rejection was from the CEO of the US Office of the St. Vincent de Paul in St. Louis. I pointed out the injustice of suspending two of us before any notice to us of any violation and without letting us know who our accuser is and what the specific accusations were. We were found guilty. I made two request of him during the time of the appeal of our conviction, without trial or hearing. I asked him if I could continue make home visits to those in need and to request a full audit of the Milwaukee Central Office budget by an independent auditor. He said no to both request.

The third rejection was from a local parish priest who agrees with us that the SVDP in Milwaukee needs structural change but now that we have been suspended, unjustly as it is, says to give up and take on another ministry.

I was thinking how people I admire, like Martin Luther King Jr. Gandhi or Dorothy Day, would take such a rejection. Would they say well I have tried to correct these injustices to the poor but now that the authorities have rejected me I will give up?

Jesus says if you have a grievance with someone bring it to the person first before taking it to higher authority. Our legal system says you are innocent until proven guilty not guilty until you make a successful appeal. Our country prides itself in freedom of speech yet I have been guilty of is speaking of injustices to the poor. The St. Vincent de Paul Rules and manuals says any individual member can speak freely but not, unless authorize to do so, for the conference, council and US or International council. All my statements have been as an individual advocate.

Catholic Social Justice and Rule of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul says we should treat each other with respect, dignity and charity, even the least amidst us.

The vice president of the local District Council has told me many times that our Society is not hierarchical. The poor, who own the money of Society according to our rule, are on top. After the poor come the members, councils and staff of the Society. I have said that is the way it should be but not the way it is.

We can respond legally or nonviolently. I am not interested in a legal challenge and do not have money or resources to make one. However, I can nonviolently respond by taking the personal pain and suffering this action has cost me but continue to stay on message: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Milwaukee, despite all the good people that are members, been taken over by a few and have moved the society in a direction that harms the poor and discriminate against them, especially African-American and Hispanic minorities as other powers do in Milwaukee. Call it what you want but it is racism, perhaps the new Jim Crow, but still racism. If we, weak as we may be, do not stand up for and be the voice for the voiceless, in solidarity with poor. The local powers can marginalize a few of us all they want but if our message is true it will come out.

Today I feel more in solidarity with poor as I have felt for a long while. I feel privilege to be rejected by ‘powers to be’ not that I am any kind of martyr or seek dishonor or publicity but because acting on my conscience and doing the right thing I far as I can hear and see it, I can share in the grace and blessings, God gives to the weak, poor, outcast, sick and with Mary, Mother of God, pray the Magnificat: (below)


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Cry of Veteran to End War - Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Today, Veterans Day, in honor of Veterans of all wars, I would like to share an interview with a veteran of the Iraqi war, Paul Cappel in the Sun magazine. It is called: Fighting with Another Purpose. The interview may be long but so is the struggle to wage peace and end war.


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Fly Together - Monday, November 10, 2014


“The day will come when
the Eagle and Condor will fly
together in the same sky,
wing to wing, and the world will
come into balance.” Ancient
Prophecy

With all that is going on in my mind, like suspension from SVDP, with all I need to do around the house, with cooking, shopping and going to the Doctor not to mention the many phone calls I received today, I still went to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee tonight to hear two speakers on mining. Why?

One was a Mayan woman from Guatemala where her community has been blocking access to a mine for years and one was a Bad River Band member of the Ojibwe tribe who has been working against the fast-tracked Gogebic Taconite mining proposal in Wisconsin. Both are struggling with their communities to save the environment and the way of life of their people and who for all of us trying to save Mother Earth.

A friend who sent me the announcement said in an email: “There is an ancient Aztec Prophecy that says when the Eagle of North America and the Condor of South America unite; the spirit of peace will awaken on Earth.” I hope this prophecy is true and both did mention we are all one people and what we do for each other we do for ourselves.

What can we do about these two situations which are both struggles against greedy corporations and greedy politicians? They mentioned some letter writing but in dealing with people who do not care I do not have much confidence in that method.

I have visited mining areas and met with Mayans struggling against the mines with the delegation from SOAWatch. That felt good since we showing solidarity and support to persons in struggle. As Mayans are indigenous people of Guatemala the Native Americans are the first people in what we now call USA. They were first people here but are now treated as last. Treaties are made only to be broken when we want to take away more land and rights.

The Native American started off with a prayer in his native language. Although I did not understand a word I got the feeling it was a prayer deep from the heart. The woman from Guatemala spoke in Spanish but the translator could not translate the passion and spirit of her words.

People of the World who struggle for human rights need to gather and fly together like the Eagle of North America and the Condor of South America. It is only together we will overcome. Maybe that is a hint of why I went?


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Nobody or Somebody - Saturday, November 08, 2014


After Election Day a friend text me from Chicago asked me if I voted for Mary Burke for Governor. I said “No”. He then text me saying he did not think I would not vote for Governor Walker so who did I vote for. My answer was, once again, one word: “Nobody.” No more emails on this topic. So I wrote this brief essay on Nobody.

Nobody or Somebody

Once I was a nobody, just another kid playing on the block on the West Side of Milwaukee.
As a young adult I was somebody for awhile, a famous protestor from West Side of Milwaukee.
Now I am old and back to being a nobody, someone easy to dismiss, but still living on the West Side of Milwaukee.
I am just another nobody again on the West Side of Milwaukee who was a somebody for a brief while.
Nobody or somebody? Does it really matter? Being who you are, true to self and living on the West Side of Milwaukee is probably more important.


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Works of Mercy are Way to Revolutionary Change - Friday, November 07, 2014


Giving Drink to Thristy
Works of Mercy

People consistently try to separate the works of mercy, like feeding the hungry, from working for systematic change, making structural change in our society.

On one side we have people call the works of mercy, providing beds to those in need, as band-aides. Yet when the same person works on structural change they care call other names. This reminds me of a well know quote by Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara, archbishop in Brazil. “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.”

Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker faced similar criticism in the 60’s. In one of her letters she says: “We have heard this same word, a ‘band- aide to a cancer,’ from Boston and Milwaukee and even from the Australian bush within the last year. Perhaps it is only those words of the gospel about the corporal works of mercy, which in a way include the spiritual works of mercy, that has kept us going all these years. We are commanded over and over again by Jesus Christ himself to do these things. “What we do for the least of these, we do for him.”

Jesus in the Gospel brings us the Way to make revolutionary change, to make “the Kingdom of God on earth.” But His Way starts with change of one self, doing the corporal and works of mercy, spreads to communal practice like the St. Vincent de Paul Society and eventually brings a Nation to change. People forget that in Matthew 25 when Jesus was talking about doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy he was not taking about individuals but about groups, organizations and nations. Dorothy Day said: “The greatest challenge of the day is “how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”

In the Gospel and in life there is no difference between doing the works of mercy, visiting the sick, or making systematic change. We just do acts of kindness, speak the truth, do works of mercy and resistance and the world will change. When Frédéric Ozanam and a small group of students at the University of Parish started the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris by making person to person home visits to those in need who would imagine how this simple act would lead to one of the largest Catholic lay organizations in the world?

I tried unsuccessfully in the parable “Thy Kingdom Come on Earth as it is in Heaven to show how a simple home visit and works of mercy by Vicentians could make a major and sustainable change in the life of child and community. But no one had ears to hear and the money that could have made a radical and systematic change in the North Central Milwaukee community was hid away somewhere in a band for ‘future use.’

The Gospel of Nonviolent Love as well as many sacred writings points the way to make deep systematic changes to the our society and to world, ways to end poverty and violence.

Dorothy Day would say if everyone took in one homeless person we could end homelessness tomorrow. So we talk and talk big change and miss the opportunity to make change around us. The works of mercy are the way to revolutionary change.


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Death of Fall forAll Is Well - Thursday, November 06, 2014


Statue of homeless and
rejected Jesus

All is getting cold in the gardens around the house. I have a few more preparations for the winter to make and the gardens will be ready for the death of winter. It is easy to prepare for the death of winter. I raked up some leaves from the street, instead of putting leaves in the street for city pick up because I wanted them for the compost pile. On the worm compost pile I put wood chips with the leaves to offer a frozen hood over the earth pile where the worms can be warm and eat and get deep.

A friend today talked about the natural dying of our mind and body that seems to take place in the winter. The adjustment in the fall to slower and colder times tires me and by body but in death we believe there will be life.

Death came to me today in a letter from the National Office of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The staff and a few leaders of the local council have built over the years an agency that spends millions of dollars but few for the main mission of the Society, to serve person to person people in need. Doing the works of mercy is what drew me to the Society in the first place when we leaved in Madison. Pat, my wife, and I fell in love with the Society and once on a trip to Paris, France visited the grave of Frederick Ozanam, the young university student founder of the Society and went to the international office. The more I experienced the work of Society, the move love and respect I had for it, the largest lay Catholic organization in the world.

However, in 1995, when I moved back to Milwaukee and was given an administration job as Assistant General Manger of the three thrift stores at the time I became greatly disillusioned and depressed. I had been asked by the Expectative Director for find why the thrift stores were losing so much money. After working each job in the thrift stores I came up with, but that it was the structural of the Society in Milwaukee that was losing so much money and hurting the very mission of Society to serve those in need. Naturally that was not the answer he wanted to hear and now two of the employees he hired to build the social agency empire are now running the show.

The death was not in being excommunicated by the National Office, the very people I, as a last resort, tried to tell about what was wrong, maybe legal but wrong. I really do not care with people in central office in Milwaukee or national office think about me. I am disheartened that I cannot make any home visits to people in need. These home visits have brought me so much grace and blessings and the experience of people in need gave me the strength and inspiration to fight this injustice, transferring money given to poor to those who are not in need.

This is not the first time I have been rejected, fired, expelled, punished or banned from a group that I have, in conscience, tried to nonviolent change. Bur each time it happens it hurts. Like an injured tree I feel the lost. But one of lessons I have learned from being rejected is not to react but take the pain in internally and respond with love and graciousness. I pray for the courage and blessing to practice “love of enemy and friends” this time. I am not the only one that is being expelled for ‘speaking truth to power’ in local society. At least one more person, a devoted Catholic with deep love for those in need, has been excommunicated. He is talking about fighting this injustice legally. That is fine if he wants to do that but, for me, this is opportunity to fight injustice to poor nonviolently. I need to remember the death of fall will past and all will be well.


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Fine Print and Myth of Equal Opportunity - Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Today a couple legal questions came up in discussion like what is the difference between ‘and’ and ‘or’ in a legal title or filing a discrimination suit against County for racial discrimination in the County Park system. Once I was involved in a partnership legal suit that cost me a good chunk of money to counter sue the partner suing me but at the end made no real difference in the settlement of the case. A civil rights lawyer mentioned we might have case for elimination of backboards courts and rims when African American basketball players became dominate in the nearby County Park system, something he called ‘recreational’ redlining.’ But there are few lawyers that take civil rights case and, even if you win, they can be costly.

There are two ways, in my mind, to challenge human rights violations, legally or by nonviolent action. The legal action is becoming less available except to persons or corporations that can afford a good lawyer. Every time we click “I agree” on an App or Web site or sign pages of legalize on a form at doctor’s office we really do not know what we are agreeing to. We just trust the other person to truthful. But if we trust the other party being a computer firm or Doctor’s office what do we even need to sign or mark forms of small fine print. We need to it not for our protection but for the protection of the provider of service. It is their lawyers they pay to write all the fine print covering liability for the provider.

In last night’s acceptance speech the Republican Governor reelected said that in Wisconsin “We believe the opportunity is equal but the outcome is up to each and every one of us.” I would like to ask the Governor if two young 20 year men commit the same crime but one is white, coming from a wealthy suburban family and recipient of quality education and one is black coming from a low income family and receipt of poor quality education will there be same results. Most likely the white young adult, if caught, will have a good lawyer by his side in court and probably get off or with reduced sentence that may be removed from his record. The black young man has more chance of getting caught and less chance of getting his sentence reduced or removed. If both at 20 years are determined to get a good job and both apply for the same job, with the black young adult with criminal record and probably without a car and white person has no record, probably with a car would you call that ‘equal opportunity.’ The law might apply equally to both men but the application because of status, money and position will not be the same. The law might say an employer cannot discriminate against a person because he is black with a criminal record but we know it will happen. Unemployment for young men in largely low income African American neighbors in Milwaukee is around 50%. Unemployment for young men in largely middle or high income neighborhoods is very low. Check out the blue dots on the Unemployment map according to 2012 Census information on M.A.P.S.. The more you get out of central city where there is racial discrimination and poverty to the suburbs the less unemployment there is.

Opportunity is NOT equal Governor and no matter how hard one tries a young adult African American male with poor education, lack of money and vehicle with a police record does not have the same ‘equal opportunity’ as young white suburban adult.

Another famous Governor who was well known for his building the prison system in Wisconsin, in the 90’s, commissioned a special study group to report back how we could reduce criminals and crime in Wisconsin. They reported back saying, prisoners and prisons “are bound to grow as long as the root cause of crime—poverty, lack of education and lack of family support—go unaddressed.” This is not what the Governor or politicians wanted to hear so more prisons with more prisoners grew until Wisconsin now ranks number one in the USA in percentage of incarceration of young adult African America males. People who create the fine print seem not be able to read the large print. Equal opportunity is a myth.


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Vote But Do Not Want to Hear - Tuesday, November 04, 2014


“If liberty means anything
at all, it means the right to tell
people what they do not want to
hear.” George Orwell

Some people do not want to hear what they do not want to hear;
For if they hear what they do not want to hear they might feel the need to act,
And acting might bring them controversy and conflict, something they do not want.
If they hear what they do not want to hear and do not act,
They may feel guilty and uncomfortable.
So it is better not to hear or not to see,
Go on sleeping while awake, being silent and ignoring what they do not want to hear.
Thus than they can say, no matter what happens, they are not responsible.
If no one takes responsibility due to not hearing,
All, except those who break the silence, are responsible.
However, those who do not hear what they do not hear, vote.
Voting gives them coverage for not hearing, what they do not hear


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Election Special - Monday, November 03, 2014


Wells St. could use
more of this than new
narrower paved street

Today I received a phone call from the Mayor’s office about a letter I had sent him. It must be election time since I never sent a letter about this concern. Anyway I took my posting time tonight to write the mayor a letter back. I believe voting by word and action is more effective than voting in elections where we know most of the results.

Dear Mayor,
Today I received a call from one of your staff about the plans for reconstruction of Wells Street. She said she was responding about a letter I wrote you about the cul de sac for Wells Street between Hawley Road. I was glad to find out what the city plans for Wells street although I did not write you a letter about a cul de sac. In fact my neighbor, Mr. Penn, had gone around with a petition that I and other neighbors signed. However in talking to him after the call I found out that he did not send you a letter but had given the petitions to Alderman Murphy. Mr. Murphy told Mr. Penn as you aide told me that a cul de sac was impossible according to Department of Public Works.

However you aide told me what the plans were, something I did not receive from Department of Public Works or from Mr. Murphy. According to your office the plan is to narrow Wells Street between Hawley Rd. and 46th.

I explained to your aide that my and other neighbors concern has been for many years the speeding on Wells Street between Hawley Rd. and 46th street, a stretch of 10 blocks where there is no stop sign or method to slow down traffic. A narrower Wells Street only would make matters worse since it would offer less room to get out of the way of speeding cars and make it more difficult to back out of our driveways, especially during Brewer games where there are cars parked on both sides of Wells. Now there is one lane for cars each way and a narrower street would only increase the danger.

There are two schools on Wells in this stretch and one nearby on Bluemound. I have checked Story Hill and other Milwaukee neighborhoods near us to find that in residential neighbors there is a stop sign every other block one way or the other. At one of the many meetings Mr. Murphy had on this concern the head of DPW said Stop signs are not to slow down cars. (You could have fooled me) Yet other residential neighbors do not have a 10 blocks of residential street without a stop sign.

One of my neighbors told me that Wells Street was classified as a class B Highway. I do not know what that means but I felt I was moving into a residential block. I can understand Wisconsin and Bluemound to our south and State Street to our North being main streets but do not think Wells is similar. (State Street has two stop signs by Miller Brewery, as it should have).

In other neighborhoods wide streets have been made one lane for cars with a bike lane and a parking lane, something we could use.

Our street is busy with speeding cars because it is the main way for Wauwatosa residents to enter or exist Hwy. 41 and 94 East and West. The main DOT proposed plan for expansion of Hwy 94 corridor and Stadium exchange would eliminate exits and entrances for 94 at Hawley road and Mitchell Boulevard and thus make 44h street and 46th to Wells the main streets on and off Hwy. 94.

Also the DPW has told me that there will be no public hearing before the plans for Wells Street are finalized and that we would be paying for the reconstruction of street. Mr. Murphy has said he would call a neighborhood meeting but would support whatever DPW has approved.

Now that we know what that plan is, narrower Wells Street but no added stop signs, speed bumps or cul de sac to slow down traffic, I am asking you and Mr. Murphy to take action and order DPW to hold a public hearing where any plan to improve Wells Street addresses the safety concerns of residence.

If I seem on a crusade I am. A few years ago I saw an attentive mother stop her young child from running into the street just as a car was speeding by. Do we need to wait till a child, one of the residents of Vision Center or one of the residents is hurt before the city pays attention to our concern.

Personally I for one like to see the potholes in Wells Street continue than see a new paved narrower Wells street making it easier for cars to speed.

Like I did today, I hope to hear from your office, this time to a real concern for safety I have made. I have timed the cars going up and down Wells Street and around one in four, especially in drive time, are going 40 or more miles per hour on Wells street with no Stop signs. (Speed limit is 30 and 15 during school times).

Thank you for your concern,

Bob Graf


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Death Wrestler - Sunday, November 02, 2014


Dorothy Day and child

When I was a child I spoke as a child. Not I am elderly but would like to speak as a child. It is difficult since with all my education the child voice has been deafened. Education has lots of benefits and spells success but often wrecks our imagination.

Today, November 2, was All Souls day in our church, a day we honor the dead. A long list of dead from our parish was read off at the end of liturgy. Since I have not been a member very long I did not recognize many of the names.

Cornell West, in a talk he gave last November at Maryhouse, Catholic Worker House of Hospitality in New York city, talks about Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement and one of my heroes as a “death wrestler.” He quotes her statement in her autobiography, Long Lowliness, “I had to learn how to die in order to live well.” A person wrestling with death is not afraid to speak the truth as she or he sees it. If you are facing death, what do you care about being insulted, marginalized or being jailed?

We recognize the dead to bring home the reality of death in our lives not only at the end of life but in our daily lives. If we ignore death in our lives we live a superficial life not worth living. Yet facing death is hard, even with faith that only by dying we will rise to new life.

Death wrestlers, like Dorothy are people of strong beliefs yet very gentle and kind. Dying to live and finding new life in death seem like contradictions, and they are. Death Wrestlers take to contradictions like a child to imagination. It is only natural.


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Revival Delivers Hope - Saturday, November 01, 2014


Today, All Saints Day, we were invited by friends to an African-American style revival at a Catholic Church. There were some good Church choirs, and an excellent preacher calling us to Jesus and an environment of the spirit being present with a social afterwards. We both enjoyed the experience despite it been new to us. People were moved, laughed, cried, clap hands and sung with the choir. The revival leader was inspiring about how to trust God and flush away the things that distract us and bring us down into the ‘pit’ of life.

It is to be noted that a number of members of this Catholic Church, St. Martin de Pores, at one time went to our present parish, to church, grade school or high school. Our present church, St. Benedict the Moore located downtown was created for African American Catholics but now has a largely white population of people from around the city. You can read the history of the Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee to learn more.

Many members of the church tonight are low income African Americans and struggling and the Church, especially like this revival gives them hope to move on in life. Some would say this religion is “opium of people” and just keeps them from changing their life situation. I do believe religion brings the poor hope but that is a good thing. When someone is down hope can raise their spirit and help them ‘do the right thing’ despite hardship.

Religion, like we saw practiced tonight, can give hope, something we sorely need, especially in tough times. All day my spirits have been down and after the revival tonight they are still down. However, the revival has deliver hope that my spirits will be uplifted.


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Winning and Losing are Natural - Friday, October 31, 2014


State semifinal soccer
game today

My grandson’s soccer team was good this year but in the State tournament got hot and went all the way to the State semifinal game in Milwaukee today. My son and his wife with three children are all involved in soccer so this was a big event. However, last night at the motel eight players on the team, four starting players, committed inappropriate actions and had to be suspended from the team for this game. The other team was good and might have won anyway but it was sad to watch my grandson’s team loose after such a good run in the state tournament. It was a lesson in life that hopefully all the team will learn and grow from, especially the eight suspended players.

Sports have become a big part of many of our lives. I just finished watching on TV the Milwaukee Buck’s home opener in Milwaukee. Watching sports on TV, baseball, basketball and football have become a big part of my entertainment life. Sports can be good but if out of control can be harmful if you are a parent watching your kids or grand kids, participant or just a fan. If out of control sports and the big business it represent can tale a lot of time, money and be obsessive.

Sports can also be physically dangerous. The number of sport related injuries has seriously increased over the years. My other grandson plays football and is a quarterback who has taken a lot of major hits. Not being a parent of a football player but just a grandparent all I can do is watch and pray.

In sports “winning is not something but is everything” as the great Green Bay packer coach has said, or something like that. There is talk of sports for fun but nowadays only the most skilled get to play a lot and thus become better players while the others watch and do not sharpen their skills.

Winning being everything is to sports like killing is to the military or making money is in our capitalistic society. It is not natural and often not enjoyable but it is the way we are in the USA. Altruism, I believe, is in the nature of humans but winning, killing and making money are often in conflict with this natural bent of human beings. Winning and losing are natural.


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All Is Well - Thursday, October 30, 2014


Making connections in the brain

People who make connections between events that others do not see have been called all kinds of names throughout the ages, mystics, schizophrenics, prophets, marginal, insightful, crazy, poets and creative. Making connections between many things can be a curse or a blessing. For example, I can see a connection between the practice of racism in Milwaukee and the militarism of Marquette University. But I try not to talk about it since I already face so many stigmas and do not want more. For example, sometimes I see racism practiced by many around me in Milwaukee being the same lack of vision of all persons being sacred and our connections between all people. This, sense of superiority or ‘Exceptionalism’ leads to militarism. President Obama was talking on TV the other day about the USA being “exceptional”. This often means a person or nation does not need to conform to normal rules or general principles. For example we can build new nuclear bombs but some countries cannot. We and our allies can violate international law but our enemies cannot. Exceptionalism is the opposite of making connections.

People who make connections between many things are attracted to others who can do the same. My deceased son Peter and I were close I believe because of this curse or blessings we share. When I am at peace, relaxed, detached connections between events and things come to me.

Dreams, coming from our interior mind, are often making connections in our mind that seem to be random but in some strange way are connected. Making connections is a gift and a burden. Making connections is why saints can say “All is Well” in time of turmoil or order.


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Comments

kranthi — 02 February 2009, 00:53

Dear Bob
Your experiences in India during Pilgrimage of Peace , your photographs, your experimenting with Indian food cooking very interesting. Your growing green salads using organic manure in this summer is highly appreciated by me.

(:commentboxchrono:)

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