CVIndependent

Sat05272017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Know Your Neighbors

28 Jan 2015
by  - 
Those who have been in the desert less than 15 years or so don’t remember when the anniversary of Roe v. Wade prompted anti-abortion and pro-choice counter-demonstrations along a major intersection in Palm Desert every year. Or the 1992 Desert Lights for Choice candlelight vigil along Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs, when pro-choice supporters lined up three deep from Tahquitz Canyon Way to Alejo Road. Or the besieged abortion clinic in Palm Desert where local activists walked women through shouting protesters and helped keep the doors open. Many of us have become blasé about the right to decide for oneself whether and when to birth a child. Some 42 years after the Supreme Court decision in Roe, it seems unthinkable that the constitutional right to own your own body, including whether to end an unwanted or problem pregnancy, could be revoked. Statistics indicate that about 50 percent of…
14 Jan 2015
by  - 
The horrific massacre in Paris at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine that generated much of its reputation via provocative cartoons, has united much of the world in standing against terrorism, saying, “Je suis Charlie!” (“I am Charlie!”) Our outrage at terrorist tactics by radicals, of course, is justified. However, using a broad brush to stereotype all members of a faith is unjustified and, in my view, un-American. We pride ourselves on being a “melting pot”—more specifically, a Cobb salad, where everything retains its own status, but is thrown together to make something bigger and better. Yet immediately after the events in Paris, we heard exhortations against all followers of Islam, claiming they are inherently murderous and dangerous. Remember, we’re talking about more than 1.5 billion people in countries all over the world, including 2.6 million in the U.S. It’s the fastest-growing religion in America. Characterizations of Muslim immigrants are often…
31 Dec 2014
by  - 
This Christmas Eve, I went to the service at Palm Desert’s St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. The following Sunday morning, I attended First Baptist Church in Palm Springs. I was born into a Jewish family. My mother was the descendant of Russian gypsies, some of whom came to the U.S., while others—who managed to escape the Holocaust—landed in Israel and participated in the fight for independence. Mom always had great antipathy toward any organized religion, but she would say, “The world will always consider you a Jew, so you must be proud of your heritage.” And I am. My upbringing left me with agnostic doubts and no desire to affiliate officially with any organized religion. That being said, I’ve always enjoyed attending different religious services—particularly at holiday time, when church leaders tend to put their best foot forward. St. Margaret’s offers an impressive edifice, the embodiment of Christmas-card images: high-beam ceilings,…
17 Dec 2014
by  - 
In the wake of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “Torture Report” on the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the Central Intelligence Agency in the wake of Sept. 11, I was reminded that I once had the privilege of meeting one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” at an event in San Diego sponsored by Survivors of Torture International. I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t remember his name. However, I’ll never forget his story. That lost boy of Sudan trekked barefoot almost 1,000 miles with his young sister to escape to a refugee camp after their parents had been slaughtered. He was then kidnapped and forced to soldier under horrendous and torturous conditions until he was rescued. He was only 10 when that journey began. It’s challenging to even think about torture at a time of year when celebrations are focused on peace, love and giving. It seems so…
03 Dec 2014
by  - 
Back in 1968, when the feminist movement was in full swing, a significant protest was staged in Atlantic City against the Miss America beauty pageant. The protest was organized by author Robin Morgan, who attacked “the degrading mindless-boob-girlie symbol” so prevalent in the media, and the “ludicrous ‘beauty’ standards we ourselves are conditioned to take seriously.” I was part of that feminist movement, concerned about the objectification of women—paraded in bathing suits and awarded crowns based on little more than whether they met the then-common standard of “beauty,” meaning long-legged, tiny-waisted, barely talented and white-skinned. (No black woman had ever made it even into the finals.) While I did not take issue with the women who willingly participated, many of whom went on to enjoy interesting lives, I sympathized that there were so few opportunities based on anything other than superficial beauty to which they could aspire. There are concerns…
19 Nov 2014
by  - 
One is a banker; another is a Nobel Prize-winner, a third a teacher, yet another a writer. Many are happily retired. Some are well-informed on the news of the day; others are interested in exploring new ways to approach old problems; all are willing to engage with their neighbors for some good old-fashioned “exchanges of opinion.” (That’s what my mother used to call “arguments.”) The Sun City Palm Desert Forum Club is one of the many organizations that cater to the interests of Sun City residents. The Forum features monthly facilitators on current topics with participants seated at large round tables, each with a designated discussion leader. Their format has the facilitator give background information about that meeting’s topic for up to 40 minutes. Each table then considers various questions related to the topic for about 30 minutes, and then offers their table’s conclusions and/or suggestions to the whole group.…
05 Nov 2014
by  - 
How do you start up something new? No matter how worthy the cause, you need individuals who see a need and are willing to volunteer a substantial amount of time to satisfy that need. A local coalition has cropped up committed to creating a “Dementia-Friendly Coachella Valley,” composed of individuals who represent local nonprofit organizations, those diagnosed with or caring for someone with a dementia-related disease (like Alzheimer’s), medical professionals and interested citizens. The DF-CV group recently sponsored the first Dementia-Friendly Café as a way to expand awareness that those living with a diagnosis of a dementia-related disease are still able to enjoy life, socialize and be in a public setting without fear. They wanted to create a “safe space” in which people could come together for a purely social event. What is a safe space? To me, it’s a place where one can be truly oneself, relaxed and able…
22 Oct 2014
by  - 
The members of the “You Don’t Have to be Hemingway Writers’ Group” gathered in the clubhouse at Las Serenas, a Palm Desert apartment complex for seniors, to showcase their talents and share the results of their weekly efforts. The event was announced as the “first annual writers’ recital.” Seven women and one man were seated at a long table at the front of the room ready to share some of their writing. The 25 to 30 people in the audience represented the community well—the “tan guys,” the long-long-married couples, the attractive widows and so on, with everyone ranging in age from their 60s to their 90s. Helen Klein, 92, began the writing group more than three years ago, and most of the participants have been involved since the group began. “If you can talk it, then you can write it,” says Helen. Introductions of the writers by Helen came first:…
08 Oct 2014
by  - 
I take elections seriously. I read the election booklet, prefer to go into the polling booth on Election Day, and have not yet gotten so cynical that I think it doesn’t matter. I’ve voted in every election since I was able to register to vote at 21. (The legal age, thankfully, is now 18.) I think of the right to vote as something sacred. The one time I ran for office, I knew going in that I had no chance of winning, yet I still remember the feeling on election night of seeing the number of voters who trusted me to represent them. I was overwhelmed. I’ve written before about my frustration with the open primary process here in California, which has led to the State Senate’s District 28 seat—representing everyone from west of Temecula through almost all of the Coachella Valley, and going all the way to Blythe at…
24 Sep 2014
by  - 
The new development in Orange County featured lovely homes, wide streets and lots of families. Block parties were common in the neighborhood, and everyone seemed to know everyone else. The couple on the corner socialized—always as a couple. In fact, the wife didn’t even drive: Her husband took her to the market. They seemed inseparable and always appeared happy. The other wives were jealous. “My husband would never go to the market with me,” they would say, enviously. It wasn’t until much later that we found out he was beating the crap out of her behind their lovely drapes. Perhaps that explained why she never socialized by herself and often would not be seen for several days at a time. With the recent high-profile stories of “domestic” abuse—named as if were somehow tamer than other violence—I’ve been thinking about that woman, and how isolated she must have felt. In those…