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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.


Dorothy Day’s Worst Nightmare - Tuesday, May 26, 2015


There have been a few essays working around my head. I decided to first use this Diary of Worm to first record them. Where else I send to publish them except on www.nonviolentcow.org remains to be seen This one will be also be available at Catholic Workers and Military Training on Catholic Campuses It is about Dorothy Day, co-founder of Catholic Worker movement and her view of military training (ROTC) on Catholic Universities campuses.

Dorothy Day’s Worst Nightmare

When Dorothy Day died in 1980, the US military was still in the process of moving away from the selective service draft system to the militarization of the education system and installing therein bases for recruiting. Also, it was still perfecting the teaching of killing based on reflex action, aka killing without conscience. Today, the military has perfected the militarization of our education system and quietly installed this reflexive killing into its training programs.

In the April 1948 Catholic Worker Dorothy Day wrote the following: “Some of us at THE CATHOLIC WORKER have been going to the colleges and distributing a leaflet against UMT (DMS) [Universal Military Training & Departments of Military Sciences]. And most everyone to whom we gave the leaflet has expressed acceptance of UMT (DPS), has thought it a good thing. There are no antiwar organizations in the colleges these days, at least not in the Catholic colleges. There is a sense of the inevitable, that war is to come, that morality has nothing to do with it, that it is a question of licking Russia (or terrorists) before she gets too strong, before she gets the atomic bomb.”

In the above quote if you substitute DMS, Departments of Military Sciences for UMT Universal Military Training and terrorist for Russia you get a view of today’s Catholic Universities and Colleges, with no antiwar organizations and a sense of the inevitable, endless wars. However, the military training in Catholic colleges and universities is not that of Dorothy Day’s time … and therein resides the nightmare.

Dorothy Day was one of the early resisters in the struggle to remove military training from Catholic universities and colleges. Many Catholic colleges and universities desired to bestow awards and honorary degrees on Dorothy Day during her life time. She respectfully refused such honors from Catholic universities. Among her reasons for not accepting honorary degrees was her strong opposition to US military presence and influence on campuses. To Father Leo McLauglin S.J. of Fordham University she wrote: “The existence of ROTC in the colleges and universities makes it impossible for me to accept. To the President of the Catholic University in April 1971 she wrote: I have had to refuse seven colleges and universities for the reason they had ROTC and in one way or another were closely allied to the Federal Government. In many areas they receive research grants many that have to do with war and defense.” (See What is the story behind Dorothy Day accepting the Laetare Medal from Notre

After the Vietnam War, many colleges and universities, both private and public, refused to have military training on campus. The Department of Defense developed a new strategy for the militarization of education. For 4th −8th grade students the DoD developed the Starbase “youth outreach program for raising the interest in learning and improving the knowledge and skills of our nation’s at risk youth so that we may develop a highly educated and skilled American workforce who can meet the advanced technological requirements of the Department of Defense.” The program provides students with 25 hours of stimulating experiences at National Guard, Navy, Marine, Air Force Reserve, Army and Air Force bases across the nation.

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Program (JROTC) was greatly expanded after Vietnam. There are now over 3000 JROTC high school programs for Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force to foster leadership, patriotism, appreciation, training and recruiting for the US military. For example, in Chicago there are over 40 military academies or JROTC programs in high schools, mostly in areas where low income people of color reside.

The Department of Defense took a different direction in officer military training programs (ROTC) in colleges and universities. During the time of the military draft, 80% of officers were trained at military academies and only 20% in colleges and universities. Due to the reluctance of universities to have military training on campus the select universities, called host schools, had their programs enhanced. Other universities in the region, called partner schools, had recruiting offices on campus but sent their students interested in military scholarships to the host school for classes and training programs. Even at this low level of participation, universities and colleges both large and small from Harvard and Stanford to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee were reluctant to have military recruiting on campus. This was corrected by an act of Congress in 1996.

The 1996 Solomon Amendment is a federal law that allows the Secretary of Defense to deny federal grants (including research grants) to institutions of higher education if they prohibit or prevent ROTC or military recruitment on campus. The law was challenged by law schools in colleges and universities opposed to the presence of military recruiters on campus. In 2006 the Supreme Court upheld the law on recruiting.

Many Catholic colleges and universities became partner schools and sent recruited students to host schools like Marquette University. For example, the Air Force ROTC program at Marquette hosts students from 13 colleges and universities. As of 2012 there were only 23 Catholic Universities and colleges that still had a military training on campus. Only two Catholic Universities host all three DoD departments, Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force. This reduction of Catholic universities hosting military training might seem like a victory for Dorothy Day and other ROTC resistors, until one looks at the content of the military training.


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Cold, Wet Dandelion - Monday, May 25, 2015


Dying, wet dandelions

This morning when I work up in the basement bedroom of his house I noticed outside the window some tangled, dying dandelions that had fresh drops of rain water on them. I meant to take a picture as soon as I went upstairs but a delicious breakfast that had been made, distracted me for awhile. When I got outside I noticed that the rain drops on the dandelions were gone but still took the picture. There was a strange beauty in these dying wet dandelions.

Today was also the birthday of my deceased young son, Peter. Peter was a good looking young man with a great sense of humor till he got ill in his early twenties. As many persons with mental illnesses he got beat up a few times and his noise was crooked. He was possessed with demons of the brain suffering some very low moments. Yet he survived for quite a wild creating some interesting artwork along the way. When he was 39 he became more aware of his great suffering and one day took his life.

When my wife, other son and I think about him it is usually the moments before his illness where he was creative and with a great sense of humor. In his illness he kept the creative part of himself but, except for rare moments, lost his great sense of humor. He showed great courage by surviving as long as he did with such great pain.

Like the dandelions this morning outside the window Peter’s life was not very good looking after he got sick. But he kept the beauty that was him and we were many times blessed as we now have with our older son and his family. The dandelion might be cold and wet, dying, but keeping its beauty.


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Oscar Romero, Risen in the People - Saturday, May 23, 2015


Archbishop Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of El Salvador, who was assassinated while he celebrated Mass in 1980, was beatified by the Catholic Church today. He was a true hero of the poor in El Salvador and Latin America and was killed for his concern and passion for the poor.

The article below describes this blessed person. When I was in El Salvador I met with some young people, although they were not alive, were inspired by Oscar Romero. They were living proof of something he said a few weeks before he was killed: “I have often been threatened with death. I must tell you, as a Christian, I do not believe in a death without resurrection. If am killed, I shall arise again in the Salvadoran people…You may say, if they succeed in killing me, that I pardon and bless those who do it. Would, indeed, that they might be convinced that they will waste their time. A bishop will die, but God´s church, which is the people, will never perish.”

The Tablet (UK) / 21 May 2015

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/features/2/5595/raised-to-the-altars-one-who-fell-for-the-poor

Raised to the altars: one who fell for the poor

by Robert Ellsberg

A champion of the poor or someone mixed up in politics? A man who died for the faith or because he was a political inconvenience? Archbishop Oscar Romero’s beatification today confirms his stature and illuminates his model of holiness

The beatification of the slain Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, in his own city today, moves him one step closer to receiving the title long ago bestowed by the acclamation of his people: “San Romero de los Americas”. The honouring of the man comes 35 years after he was gunned down as he celebrated Mass in the chapel of a hospital, having preached a sermon the day before in which he called upon Salvadorean soldiers, as Christians, to stop carrying out the Government’s repression of the people, and spoken out continuously about the abuse of human rights and the plight of the poor.

As the first bishop murdered at the altar since Thomas Becket in the twelfth century, Archbishop Romero would seem to have an easy claim on most definitions of martyrdom. For Romero, who clearly anticipated his fate, there was never any doubt as to the meaning of such a death. In an interview two weeks before his assassination, he said, “I have frequently been threatened with death … Martyrdom is a great gift from God that I do not believe I have earned. But if God accepts the sacrifice of my life then may my blood be the seed of liberty and a sign of the hope that will soon become a reality … A bishop will die, but the Church of God – the people – will never die.”

There are inevitably symbolic or even political considerations involved in any canonization, extending beyond the selection of saints to the interpretation of their lives: what is the gospel message that this life proclaims? What significance does it hold for the Church of our time and for the future?

Within days of Romero’s death, there were different messages about Romero. The crowd of 250,000 at his funeral was seen by some as a demonstration; Cardinal Ernesto Corripio y Ahumada, the personal delegate of John Paul II, said at the funeral that Romero was a “beloved, peacemaking man of God” and that “his blood will give fruit to brotherhood, love and peace”.

No doubt since then there have been expli¬citly political considerations at play in the long delay of his beatification. Many influential prelates in Latin America and Rome felt that the canonization of Romero would be “utilized” by the Left, that he would be the poster boy for liberation theology, and thus promote div-isions in the Church. There were also supporters of the cause who insisted that Romero was wrongly identified with liberation theology, that he was in fact a traditional bishop, a man of prayer, and that these features – and not the circumstances of his death – should be emphasized. But there were also theological issues at stake. These concerned the particular criteria for martyrdom, which indicate that a martyr’s death must be prompted by “hatred of the faith” – odium fidei.


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More Pictures, Less Words - Friday, May 22, 2015


Working Together We Can Do It.

Tonight I was sorting through the pictures of the two St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) Thrift stores and contrasting them. Wow, the pictures say it all. The store in Milwaukee, where the poor live and shop lacks variety and quality of items. The SVDP Thrift Store in the suburb is full of variety and quality of items. So much for purpose of SVDP thrift stores is “to serve the needy.” I will publish these pictures on this site soon.

I was reminded that I have used a lot of pictures, in the past, on this web picture. I have not updated my own photo gallery, Bob’s Photo Gallery since 2013. My articles and posting have become wordy and not used pictures. Pictures cut more to heart than words. New summer resolution: Use More Pictures and Less Words on www.nonviolentcow.org

Here is one sent to me via Facebook that you might have already seen. The picture says a lot more than about ants.


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News We Can Live Without - Thursday, May 21, 2015


Although these days I try to be positive the news brings me down. Here is some news we can live without.

Pentagon sending 2,000 anti-tank weapons to Iraq These anti-tank-weapons are needed following the rout of U.S.-backed forces in Ramadi by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The fleeing Iraqi forces once again left weapons, like US supplied tanks behind to be used by ISIS. Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that as of April 9 the U.S. had spent 2.1 billion since it began bombing in Iraq in August.

Israeli settlers reportedly chop down 800 Palestinian olive trees. There are over 500,000 Israeli settlers living in settlements across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Wisconsin is the 7th “drunkest” State in the United States. Total alcohol consumed per capita: 3,010 gallons, Beer consumed per capita: 1,450 gallons, Wine consumed per capita: 380 gallons, Spirits consumed per capita: 1,180 gallons

Website ranks Wisconsin as ‘worst state for black Americans’ This includes Wisconsin with the highest rate of incarceration of African American males.

Wisconsin’s black children remain trapped in poverty, study says The state ranks last in the country in the overall well-being of African-American children based on an index of 12 measures that gauge a child’s success from birth to adulthood, according to a new report being released Wednesday by the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families.

Wal-Mart Selling Sacramento Municipal Water At Huge Mark-Upin California worst drought. Also Nestle continues stealing World’s Water During Drought in California.
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Respond Not React to Air We Breathe - Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Today I overreacted when I went to a Common Council committee meeting that was supposed to be a routine approval of a reconstruction of our street. The alderman who was representing the view of the majority of homeowners gave a half hearten approval of the proposed plan and the one residential homeowner who opposes the plan gave a statement opposing the road renovation for now. I felt compelled to talk but the chairman of the committee kept asking me if I supported the proposal or not. I said yes and kept going but finally ended without saying what I wanted to say. I stood up to leave the chair and immediately the meeting went on to another issue. I asked why they did not vote on the proposal and the chairman said they did and in a blink of the eye it had been approved. I went it to the hallway and found the homeowner who opposed the plan talking with our alderman. I patiently waited for him to finish and went to ask him a question as he rushed back to the meeting room. I shouted out if this was the final obstacle to obstacles put in our way on this reconstruction. He shouted back ‘No’ and went out the room. Later his assistant cleared up the matter by saying the proposal had to go to Common Council. I knew this and also know that approval is automatic if the reconstruction is in the budget and alderman in the area wants it. Our alderman is also chairman of the Common Council and thus has more power.

One remark he made during the hearing gave me particular concern. When talking about his original idea that people rejected and the one he, with approval of people was making, was that he was recognizing democracy. I believe democracy is not what happened in getting this proposal for our street so far. The alderman was pushing his own plan while pretending to be responsive to us. He still was today. This makes me fear the plan will somehow get sidetracked as the lone opponent asked for today.

I would love a world that working together, even with our conflicts and different opinions, we could get together and struggle to achieve the best for everyone, even the least. This would be a world where despite our difference we love one another and work together in government for the common good. But this is not the air we breathe. The air we breathe in America is full of pollutants, competitiveness, exceptionalism, power and glory.

I allow this kind of air, like this morning, bother me. I am getting better at just saying what I have to say and doing what I have to do and letting things go. But I have a ways to go. I cannot let the air we breathe take my life over and control me. I need to respond not to react.


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Tale of Two Stores, No Bread for the Hungry - Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Free Bread for Well Off,
No Bread for the Hungry.

The largest Catholic lay organization in the world is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP). “Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering in the tradition of its founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul.”

Over the years the Milwaukee Society of St. Vincent de Paul has wandered greatly from this mission. Thrift stores have been created to help the local members provide clothing and other necessities to the poor. “Serving Christ’s needy is the primary goal of all St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Stores.” In Milwaukee the Society of St. Vincent de Paul had one thrift store, in the south central part of the city, the second neediest neighborhood. However, where a store is really needed is in the North Central side of Milwaukee, the poorest area of Milwaukee, the most racially segregated, (African American) with poor education system, a high rate of unemployment, a high rate of incarceration and children in poverty, there is no thrift store.

The select central leaders of the Milwaukee SVDP, a small group of white suburban people, decided to invest 3.2 million dollars to purchase and build Thrift Store in a suburb of Milwaukee, an area that is mostly white with a household income twice that of areas in North Central Milwaukee. The promise was that the suburban store would eventually make a profit that could ‘trickle down’ to the poor.

Today I decided to take a trip to the two stores, one located in Hispanic neighborhood of South Side and one located in a middle class suburbs. Both stores are called St. Vincent de Paul Thrift stores and both stores had about the same number of customers shopping in them when I visited. However, that is where the similarity ends. The area around the suburban store is full of thrift stores, with a private one right next door. Where a new store serving the poor is really needed, North Central Milwaukee, there are only a few thrift stores. The store in the suburb is much larger, wide open with an abundance of available items. For example, in the very small men’s department of the South side store there was about 12 pair of jeans on sale. In contrast there was a very large rack of jeans available for the white suburban shoppers in the new store. Another example was there was a tidy section of knickknacks in the South Side store where the suburban store has rows and rows of shelving for knickknacks. The same could be said for other items, toys, electronics, furniture, children clothing, books and other items. The prices were similar in both stores but the variety and quality of items was so much greater in the suburban store.

The new store has an extremely high operating cost, with around 40 employees and large debt, while the South side store is owned by the Society and has about 12 employees. The new suburban store will have an extremely difficult time making its operating cost each month, let alone paying off its debt of 3.2 million dollars. Chances of any ‘trickle down’ money are poor or impossible.

The central leaders of the Milwaukee Society are quietly conducting a fundraising campaign on behalf of poor but the majority of money raised will go to pay down the debt of the new suburban store that is not even sustainable. The select leaders are doing this despite the Rule of the Society in the USA that “all money belongs to the poor” and “Funds donated to the Society, however, must be used only for works that involve the personal service of Society members.”

Some of us have tried to express our concern that donations and money given for the needy are being used to serve the not needy. All our appeals to officials in the Society have been ignored and has led to our characters being attacked and, in my case, suspension from the Society which I so love and respect for its commitment to works of mercy.

Maybe pictures of both stores will work to make the point about the hypocrisy, racism and immorality of the Milwaukee society represented in these stores. I will publish them soon but for now I would like to share with you one picture that represents the sinfulness of the actions of the small group controlling the Society in Milwaukee. As you leave the suburban thrift store there are racks of free bread and bakery for the people who do not go hungry. At the SVDP thrift store in an area full of hungry people there is no such rack of free bakery. Bread for the well fed not for the hungry tells the Tale of the two thrift stores and how the Society in Milwaukee has lost its way.


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Change of Heart Starts with Self - Monday, May 18, 2015


The police chief and mayor have been in news pleading with parents, church ministers and citizens to change the young men in our community who are committing senseless acts of violence. We can preach giving up violence to young men all we want, but children and young adults learn more from what we do than what we say. When a young African-American male is stopped in car because the policeman thinks he is suspicious or a an African-American man is arrested by 8 police officer for begging, a long Christian tradition, on the Marquette University campus they learn more about how others think of them than from any words preached to them.

A long time ago human beings learned that they cannot effectively change other people but can really only change themselves. John the Baptist called for a “change of heart” to prepare for the Way of Jesus. Ammon Hennacy, a Christian Anarchist and Catholic Worker probably said it best in his book “Book of Ammon”. “We really can’t change the world. We really can’t change other people! The best we can do is to start a few thinking here and there. The best way to do this, if we are sincere, is to change ourselves!” In the same book he says: “Too many of us dissipate our energy by being “for all good causes,” attending meetings and passing resolutions, organizing and presenting petitions — all this effort to change others, when if we really got down to it we could use this energy to change ourselves… We become tired radicals because we use our weakest weapon: the ballot box, where we are always outnumbered, and refuse to use our strongest weapon: spiritual power.” Ammon lived before the digital age which has intensified this false sense of change.

Now, if we ask ‘how do we change ourselves’ Gandhi has a simple statement: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Now living in a world spinning with information, a world of radical individualism, where right and wrong is not very clear defined, where some lives matter more than others and where the gap between rich and poor is widening. There are just so many distractions. Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement showed us the way to revolution. “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?”

Today I helped a friend who lives in poverty help another friend get the medication she desperately needed. It took my friend all day to help her friend. It took me just a little while to get the money for prescriptions. As the lady was leaving the pharmacy she thanked me for my little help. My friend who lives in poverty also profusely thanked me. I told both of them to pray for me as I have been blessed by God via them. I ask God to apply the grace and blessings I received to a “change of heart” for myself.


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Violence Begets Violence - Sunday, May 17, 2015


Nonviolence Begets Nonviolence

Yesterday in the news the USA reported that with 100 Special Forces it had invaded Syria and killed an important ISIS leader and taken his wife into custody. Today the news in USA reported that despite intensive airstrikes by the US, ISIS had a great victory in Iraq taking over the key city of Ramadi, with over 500 civilians being killed.

The Mayor of Milwaukee announced Sabbath Ceasefire for this Sunday. There were nearly a dozen shootings in the 24 hours leading to this Sabbath Sunday. The Mayor asks “how do we change this?”

I know doing more of what we are doing in the Middle East is not making the situation better but worst. In Milwaukee I would answer the mayor’s question with something like I wrote on Facebook tonight in response to article on shootings.

“Milwaukee has created a horrible environment in North Central Milwaukee where unemployment is over 50%, young black man are incarcerated, mostly on nonviolent action including probation and parole violations, imprisoned and released in same area, poorest area in second poorest city in USA, housing stock is bad, hunger is great, public education is underfunded, guns a plenty, people lack basics like stoves and refrigerators, children are taken from parents and breakdown of families, the most racially segregated area in most racial segregated city in USA. I am not saying we should not hold people accountable for actions but I am saying we can change the neighborhood environment. Governor Thompson’s task force on prisons and prisoners said long ago: 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.” Or as Peter Maurin,co-founder of the Catholic Worker, said” “make that kind of society where it is easier for men to be good.” “The answer Mayor “is blowin in the wind.”

I do not know all the answers for violence in Middle East and Milwaukee but I do know that doing more of what we are doing only will increase the violence. When will we ever learn that violence begets violence.


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The New American Ozygen - Saturday, May 16, 2015


I am not a fan of American Pop music but tonight I saw, on TV, Rihanna perform a song called “American Oxygen. The lyrics were simple and repetitive. They could be taken as just another patriotic song. An example of words is below. However, the images flashing on the screen behind Rihanna gave a deeper meaning to the song. Check it out for yourself on YouTube, American Oxygen. In this case the images speak million times the words.

Lyrics of American Oxygen.

Breathe out, breathe in
American oxygen
Every breath I breathe
Chasin’ this American Dream
We sweat for a nickel and a dime
Turn it into an empire
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American oxygen
American oxygen
Breathe in, this feeling
American oxygen


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Killing Leads to More Killing - Friday, May 15, 2015


Today Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was given the death penalty in the Boston marathon bombing in 2013. There was no doubt he was guilty of the crime but who gives the State, via the jury, the right to take human life?

The Catholic Church and the Consistent Ethic of Life is committed to protection of human life which is threatened in today’s world by war, abortion, poverty, racism, the death penalty and euthanasia. For some the life ethics only applies to certain threats to life, like abortion. Some Anti-abortion people claim you are taking a human life in an abortion yet are willing to support the taking of an adult human life. When someone authorizes the bombing of house of suspected enemy in Pakistan they are killing whoever is in the house, the person they seek or innocent children.

To be consistent in ethic of life is difficult but one you realize that every human life is sacred and precious in eyes of God, no matter how small the person is or if the person has committed a terrible crime, you really have no choice. There might me a question of is this human life, but once you claim it is, being an unborn baby or the ‘enemy’ on battlefield you must respect it and protect it. There may be some cases of self-defense when taking a human life is justified but when the alternative to death penalty is life in prison without any chance of patrol the consistent life ethic says we must choose life over taking of life.

The Catholic Church used to justify death penalty when it was the only way to protect society. But we not have a more effective and less expensive way to accomplish this goal.

However, the urge for revenge or making people pay for crimes, some even call it justice is strong. We want an ‘eye for an eye’. Mahatma Gandhi said: An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. Politician, victims or family members often say they want ‘justice’ for the person that committed the crime or who they suspect. Often what they are saying they want revenge or punishment to the person who did harm to them, family or government.

In this day and age of ‘instant results’ many people carry a gun so they can shoot someone they feel is a threat to them. Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun and prominent opponent of the death penalty, testified on Monday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the convicted Boston Marathon bomber, had expressed sympathy for his victims. She believes he was genuine in his remorse and sorrow. Her testimony did not matter since us as a society must have our ‘pound of flesh’ for this heinous crime. Will the death penalty stop others from killing? He has been shown not be a deterrent any more than life in prison. Will the killing of Dzhokhar Tsaraev motivate others to take similar action, out of revenge or just hate of America? Probably. The “War on Terrorism” has created more “terrorist” than there ever was before 9/11 and the “War on Terrorism”.

The killing of human life just leads to more killing of human life.


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Talk, More Talk and Stigma - Thursday, May 14, 2015


Stop Talking!

This morning I got an email from a local peace group reminding me about 5 events: a screening of movie called “Inequality for All”, about the threat to democracy disparity of wealth brings; a discussion on “Alleviating Poverty, Who Is Responsible?”; a prayer service on “Healing the legacy of Segregation”; a talk on “A Catholic Response to Global Warming”; and another talk about “Poverty in the Milwaukee Metro Area/What You Can Do About It”.

I realize all the events are well intentioned but I am old enough to know all the talking about poverty, segregation, and inequality has not changed anything. If fact, I believe the situation in Milwaukee has grown worse over the years. Now people in need not only need food, but a stove to cook it on, a refrigerator to store it and bed to sleep on. I am tired of talk, more talk and no action.

This relates to the racism I was talking about in the posting last night: “white people doing things they think will help the poor people of color while doing just the opposite.”

A friend sent me a copy of the Lawyer’s guild report on shooting in Madison of unarmed biracial young man who was suffering a mental health crisis. My response, below, says something about we can do to change ourselves so we can facilitate real change in the city.

If a person has a car crisis and is injured the person is automatically taken to the hospital, conscious or not.
If a person has a heart attack crisis the person is taken to the hospital, conscious or not.
If a person has a stoke crisis the person is taken to the hospital conscious or not.
If a person has a brain breakdown, mental health crisis, the person is taken to jail or killed by a police officer.

If a person has cancer the person is not called ‘cancerous.’
If a person has a mental health illness the person is at times called ‘mentally ill’.

The former police chief in Milwaukee was working on having every police officer in Milwaukee go through Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training. CIT training consists of specialized training in dealing with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The present police chief came into office and eliminated CIT training which had been proven in other cities, like Memphis to reduce police killings of person with mental health illnesses. It was only after the tragic death of Dontre Hamilton and call for justice and the nonviolent and consistent actions by Coalition for Justice and Hamilton family he reluctantly agreed to some training.

The present police chief said recently that 911 should not be the default call for persons in mental health crises as it is for heart attacks, strokes and car accidents. What should it be?

The present police chief believes in “data driven policing” which leads to more stops and frisk of African American males which leads to more arrest, which leads to more African Americans being incarcerated and released to the same environment and more stops and frisk and more arrest.

Maybe the Chief has learned from the massive data breakdown of hard drives on police computers that even non-humans can fail. If the city and police department would spend as much money on African American males as it is paying for computers and the major recovery of the lost data we would see some change.
Stigma Stains the Soul of the individual and the community doing the stigmatizing and the stigmatized. What are we going to do about it, more talk or take action?

Will you help bail me out of jail if I get arrested from the freedom of speech, or better yet for a nonviolent action?


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The New Face of Racism - Wednesday, May 13, 2015


“Racism is not over, but I am
over racism.”

St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP) of Milwaukee continues to discriminate against poor people of color. If you are one of the few persons in need in the white middle class suburb of Greenfield you are liked to get help from this society dedicated to serve people in need by one to one visits. However, a person of color living in the North or South Central area in the city of Milwaukee is most likely to get the message from SVDP central office we are not serving your area at this time. The new suburban thrift store created in Greenfield, not serving the needy, is not making its monthly operating expense let alone deal with the over 3 million dollar debt to purchase and outfit it.

A few of us have tried to point out to the small group of white persons controlling the Milwaukee Society but no dialog was allowed. When we appealed to local, regional, national and international Society we were ignored and accused of doing the opposite of what we were doing, organizing outside the society. Although the Milwaukee Society was demonstrated to break many Rules and Spirit of the Society, the white powers of SVDP have ignored our protest and not responded to our facts, while punishing some of us by suspension for speaking “truth to power”. What do we do now as the Milwaukee Society continues to raise money in name of poor to keep the new suburban store not serving people in need?

What is happening with SVDP represents the new face of racism in Milwaukee: white people doing things they think will help the poor people of color while doing just the opposite. For example, reducing money for public school education, breaking the teacher’s union and using money for public education to fund voucher and charter schools has left a number of public schools in poor neighborhoods in distress. Instead of funding poor performing public schools the State is considering a bill that would take away these public schools and turn them over to County Executive to be privatized.

The public transportation system in poor neighbors of people of color,living in high unemployment areas, is deteriorating, leaving the poor usually without cars, no way to get to work. The city’s response is to build an expensive trolley system in the downtown area where the wealthy are returning after removal of the poor. The State’s response is to build bigger expressways so tourist and suburban people can get in and out of city faster.

This type of racism, the imagined superiority of white and people of power, dictating what is good for the poor in central city, like “data driving police” rather than reducing police stops without justification of black and brown persons, is the new face of racism. How do we change this type of racism without resorting to violence of those who do not have a voice?


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Tulip Time - Tuesday, May 12, 2015


The time for daffodils has past and now it is tulips time. Tulips are in full bloom, maybe not for long, but long enough to be the flower sensation right now. In Holland I have seen field of tulips that last awhile. Here tulip time is short lived but is one of beauty.

Tulip time is when we feel the spring of hope. Tulip time is when we believe that we can change things. Hope is in the air at tulip time. Tulips come in many colors but are all a similar shape, diversity in unity. Tulips return year after year. Plant a bulb in the fall and it will keep coming back in the spring. Tulips are easy to like. They come for a short awhile, are pretty and are low maintenance plants. Tulip Time is back.


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Outside Agitators in the USA? - Monday, May 11, 2015


“Outside Agitators” in Ferguson, MO

When Baltimore recently experienced a night of violence over racial tension resulting from an African American man dying in police custody, the Governor of Maryland blamed the violence on “outside agitators”.

On the news tonight there was a plea by a community leader for no protest tomorrow when the District Attorney in Madison, Wisconsin announces if he will press charges or not for a police officer’s shooting of unarmed African American male. Concern was expressed that “outside agitators” might come to Madison to stir up trouble.

Watching a NBS basketball playoff game on TV the other night the home team crowd started chanting “USA, USA”. I presumed they were cheering for their home team although the other team was also from the “USA”.

When I was at a Special Olympics soccer tournament last Saturday the person asked to warm up the crowd encouraged everyone to chant “USA, USA”.

I detect a pattern here; the bad guys are the “outside agitators” and the good guys are the “USA”.

In December over 70 of us were arrested in protest for justice for Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed black man shot 14 times in a county park by a white police officer, as we were Trapped on the Ramp. A group of us were placed in a small holding cell and one young white person kept being called out of the cell for integration. He was a young man from Northern Wisconsin who had just lost his job at a Wal-Mart and in a last minute decision decided to catch a ride with some friends to Milwaukee for the protest. He was not from Milwaukee and thus he was suspected of being an “outside agitator.”

Chanting “USA, USA” at an Olympic event is understandable but what does it mean at a Special Olympic soccer game in a small town or at an NBA basketball playoff game? When racial tensions break out in a community why does it have to be “outside agitators” causing it? Do you know of any “outside agitators” in the “USA”?


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A Dog’s Life! - Sunday, May 10, 2015


Our Godson h

Mother’s day for us was one of great joy and sorrow. We were watching over our three grandchildren, or they were watching over us, while our son, accompanied by his wife, was away having surgery. Today he returned home to rest after a successful operation.

During the weekend we noticed that their family dog of nine years was not herself. She would not eat and was just lying around with no energy. A family friend of my son and his family took her to a Vet hospital yesterday and tonight driving home we learned that her stomach was full of cancer and she was coming home to die.

Tonight I was reminded what a Native American told me that we, human, animals and all life, were united. He said Native Americans prayed to an animal before killing it to have the Great Spirit forgive him or her for taking the life of an animal in order to eat and survive.

I doubt if this thought offers much consolation for my grandchildren but for me it helps. The once hyper dog that always wanted to go on walks and runs was constantly searching for human food and full of life in the present would be no more. My ten year granddaughter has lived with this dog for nine years.

The weekend was full of life events like track meets, an indoor football game, taking the grandchildren out for a Friday Fish Fry, the Special Olympics soccer tournament and my oldest grandson’s high school prom.

We came home on a sad note, that their family dog was coming home to die. But if we really believe that all life is connected we believe the spirit of this dog, always ready to play and eat, will still be around in Spirit. This dog’s life touched a lot of people and brought great joy, as well as frustration, to many lives.


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Prom Still Happens - Saturday, May 09, 2015


Prom 2015

Proms in high schools still happen and that is good. In a world full of tragedy, distorted values and busyness it is good to take time out for a high school prom.

My grandson, a junior in high school, attended his prom tonight with a friend. Living in Brown County they had their pre-prom pictures taken the atrium of Lambeau Field. My grandson spend most of the day playing in the band for the Special Olympics and being a referee for their soccer game. He came home changed his clothes and left for prom.

His prom brings back memories of high school proms I attended in the 60’s. We did not have to rent a tux and had the prom in our high school gym. But nevertheless I remember feeling awkward but enjoying the prom.

Watching too much news and sports I could use a ‘prom’ in my life today. It would mean my wife and I doing something for ‘fun’ which we talked about after her recent retirement but have not done much of. We are talking about biking, fishing and swimming, enjoying nature, this summer around Milwaukee.
In light of today’s the world in USA where everyone is so busy working, making money, on their ‘digital devices’ or taking in more and more information fun takes out a new meaning. Is watch TV or playing video games ‘fun’? I guess so for some but for us, at least, fun consist of just being and not doing.

Reading a book, as my wife is good at, can be fun just as much as watching TV shows or news and sporting events on TV.

At least we can say Proms in high schools still happen and that is good.


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Blessings and Woes of the Central City of Milwaukee - Friday, May 08, 2015


Eviction of Blessed Poor
in North Central Milwaukee

Blessed Be the People of the North and South Central City of Milwaukee,

Blessed Be the People in the Central City who struggle for food, when food stamps are cut for the elderly, ill and unemployed.

Blessed Be the People in the Central City that have the courage to stand up for human rights where there right are violated.

Blessed be the People in the Central City who live with children poverty and death, which is rising in USA and in poor cities like Milwaukee, the second poorest in USA.

Blessed be the People in the Central City who have landlords that no longer provide stoves and refrigerators and do not eliminate beg bugs.

Blessed be the People in the Central City who live with abandoned or vacant houses on the block owned and neglected by absentee landlords, private or city.

Blessed Be the People in the Central City who are constantly profiled, stopped and check by police.

Blessed Be the People in the Central City who lack transportation, cannot find work or work at low paying jobs.

Blessed Be the People in the Central City who are often blamed for the violence and crime that results from a breakdown of neighborhood and families.

Blessed Be the People in the Central City who live with increasing underfunded public educational system that does not give children the opportunities other children enjoy.

Blessed Be the People of Central City who watch the City move them away from downtown to spend millions of dollars on trolley and improving the lakefront to serve the rich who now can only afford to live downtown.

Blessed Be the People in Central City who act out nonviolently for justice and peace in an extremely neglected environment.

Blessed be People in Central City, especially the young adults, Black and Brown, who face increasing criminalization and incarceration.

Blessed Be the People in Central City and their victims who, in anger and frustration, act out with senseless acts of violence.

Blessed Be the People in Central City who provide food and health care for the hungry and sick.

God gives all his blessings and grace to poor and marginalized.


Woe to you landlords in the Central city who in the name of profits neglect the people who live in your houses.

Woe to you Societies and Organizations that raise money in name of poor but who do not invest in the people of the central city.

Woe to you who profile and isolate people in the Central City.

Woe to you politicians who develop areas of the city but not in the Central City.

Woe to you that call people in central city names and blame them but who not offer opportunities or friendship.

Woe to you who create an ugly environment in Central City and blame the people for the mess.

Repent you sinners and set straight the Way of Jesus and do the Will of God.


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Fence Fixing Friend - Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Part of our fence in the backyard was falling. The middle part of fence was leaning. I did not want to put up a new fence like I did on the other side of the yard when the fence fell down so I called my friend Joe. Joe is an all around handy man, like my father was before he suffered Alzheimer. He can fix plumping, built fence waterproof floor and a number of other endeavors that can be expensive. With one store to Home Repair store and about an hour of work I now have a strong fence, not falling or bending.

One of the neighbors who supported the reconstruction of our street which took us three years to come up an acceptable plan wrote today that he had a change of heart after our public meeting and was now circulating a petition to stop the reconstruction. He said he could wait another five years to start the discussion again that took us three years to do. My response was that I am too old and the street is in terrible shape and unsafe to wait another five or eight years for possible money to be there. In five or eight years I will be near eighty and maybe have great grandchildren rather than grandchildren.

Maybe, like my father, I will have Alzheimer by that time and all the hassles we went through these last three years will no longer be remembered by me.

I have a friend whose memory is slipping and he, despite the concern of all his friends, is driving. I feel helpless in this situation. I saw with my dad what a role memory plays in everything we do, even driving which we had done for many years.

My wife says I say ‘I forgot’ a lot these days when remembering or am reminded of things I said I would do and did not. So I have replaced ‘I forgot’ with ‘I remember’. Problem solved.

What was this posting all about? I remember. It was about a fence fixing friend.


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Lesson of the Rain - Tuesday, May 05, 2015


Rain slowed down work on the garden today but rain is a blessing to the garden. It often rains in our own life but how we deal with it makes it a blessing or curse. Today I discovered that two good friends, both who have suffered greatly with illness had a setback. One is in the hospital with a stroke and the other one learned today of the death of her younger brother. Both friends are known for taking suffering, illnesses and death and turning these calamities into something positive. I feel blessed being in the present of these two women who can turn darkness into light.

One of my new favorite sayings has a similar sentiment “The really happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour.” At one time a reporter writing a story about me headlined it by saying I turned ‘curses into blessings.” I think I have lost some of my ability to do this. Tonight when an absentee landlord and a resident of Wells Street wrote an email to many residents, not me, encouraging residents to vote no on street reconstruction that greater majority wants I felt discouraged and like I had to respond. My response was measured by probably be used against me and the message neighbors have expressed on street reconstruction.

When it rains, let it rain and turn the rain until something good. Do not react to rain but take it in and have it come out positive. I used to be called a very positive person but lately been asked why I am so negative. I have been negative since I forgot the lesson of the rain that can make plants grow out of the dirt.


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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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