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$1 for a change.


May 2010

The Lower Fillmore Farmer’s Market was colored with friendly faces of many ethnicities, mostly the black community, and the struggling homeless people within the rich yet little community on Sunday morning, 22 May 2010.
As part of the larger Organizing For America team, our local San Francisco neighborhoods volunteered to team up into one. Ours consist of the Marina, Nob Hill, and Pacific Heights districts that came together from our Community-Organizing Neighborhood Team Training event a little more than a month ago on April 24, and our neighborhood team planned to host a visibility tabling event down at the Farmer’s Market area, located at the at the cross streets Fillmore and O’Farrell.
As part of the California voters, San Franciscans will be nominating candidates for partisan offices statewide for the primary election on June 8, 2010, as well as votes on five states and seven local ballot measures. Voters from each political party nominate to run in November’s general election.
Our team has a goal to conduct this campaign to aid the voters’ registration process and mobilize them upon the election date so as to win the Congress, which is what the President needs right now.

As the event coordinator, I delegated for the past few weeks in making sure every one of our contacts stay in touch, and every data and information during our planning process upon our visibility tabling campaign followed through. We conversed in weekly e-mails to clarify the specifics of our event, including our team member shifts and reminding every one’s role in the team.“Let me give you a dollar for a change,” said Tatiana, a experienced political activist ever since Obama entered the office.

We were selling pins and buttons on our table, and Tatiana, being in charge during our morning shift from 9 to 11, challenged me to sell as many pins as possible – one for $2 – and a 50-cent for each pin I sold was given to me.

It was almost like being a sales representative for Obama.

We held up a life-sized Obama cut-out right by our table, another visibility item brought into our event with many thanks to Greg James, our data coordinator, who came up with the idea.

“You like the man?” said a passer-by pointing at the cut-out and walking lamely on the edge of the pavement, watching our table from a distance.

“Yes I do,” I replied. He smiled back at me, walking away from the registration paperwork we placed on our table.

More people walked by to see our table with a grim face.

“I don’t even have a home!” shaking an old woman’s head while talking to herself, looking up to the sky and facing away from us as she was dragging her big, baggy clothes away from the street.

Whether it’s social security or alien citizenship, not every one has the right to vote.

“You can always volunteer,” said Froilan Ramos, the community organizer during our training the previous month.

Two elderly Koreans were heading towards the Fillmore Auditorium when they saw the Obama cut-out. They took pictures of it, mumbling in Korean towards each other, touching and feeling the cardboard box as they took multiple pictures with it.

Without taking a second look at the ground of paperwork on our table, he spoke to me in fluent Japanese: “He is a good man.”

“Communications is everything,” said Randall Evans, an activist running around the neighborhood, talking to people on the streets.

Evans has set up breakfast programs for the unprivileged, uneducated black youth within the Fillmore district. Summer schools are closed, and he took advantage of the summertime to teach the children of the community the need to understand what President Obama is trying to give back to the country.

Randall walked into the market instead of walking away, signing his name on the Absentee Ballot Request. As an active participant of the local black community events, he walked by to and fro from a local stand nearby our table and greeted Mel Simmons, the “information guy” of the neighborhood and also another public advocate within the Fillmore area.





“Send me our pictures, and if you ever miss me, come again every Saturday,” said Simmons. Behind his sunglasses was his kindest smile.

“God bless you,” Randall shook all of our hands from across the table.













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The good news


May 2011


As delivered by Rev. Yohanes Indrakusuma, O.Carm and four Sisters from Putri Karmel (Click to download PDF)

Spring’s greenest grasses spread all over Pennsylvania’s small town Coraopolis along the 5-minute drive from the Greater Pittsburgh Airport to our inner healing weekend retreat at Gilmary Retreat Center, our facilitator housing us “in the service of Mary”. On the magical weekend of 14 to 16 May, many were healed from their innermost troubles as I myself reminisce upon our Lady standing right at the center of our commonplace – the heart of the Catholic faith.




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Newsflash: Suzy Menkes on fashion industry today



On May 6, 2010, San Francisco welcomes a special guest. It was early at 10am, and the Academy of Art University’s Morgan Auditorium was already jam-packed with students anticipating a live discussion with Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of Britain’s International Herald Tribune.

Executive Director of the School of Fashion Gladys Perint Palmer raised the big question in today’s fashion industry: “If fashion is for everyone – is it fashion?”

Having her background experiences in the Tribune since 1988, she has written over 1.7 million words on paper. Her spoken words flows like moving pictures as she talked about the colors, the ambience, and the surroundings of the high fashion industry in the Western world.

“The freshness of it is what I like,” commented Menkes on the “heritage” of journalism. She puts an emphasis on the need for aspiring fashion journalists to couple this freshness with an understanding and knowledge of fashion and its history, as with all the enthusiasm for new business models in today’s headlines and how it has affected the shopping behaviors of people all over the world.

The young and aspiring Academy fashionistas and journalists were scribbling their notes and shooting pictures of her across the hall, attending to what Menkes has to say.

She stated that there’s definitely an innovative transition from the old to the new media, and e-commerce has been huge in the past century, providing profitable revenue for start-up businesses and high-quality branded goods and services alike.

She also described how the general shopping experience of the wider crowd, not just for the people who treats it as a “retail therapy”, that the value of luxury goods is worth more for its price tags when people shop on flagship stores rather than online. “By the year 2020, am I going to see people sit at home all day long, doing it all online? No. The ‘bricks-and-mortar’ and the new online e-commerce must co-exist.”

As a self-proclaimed optimist by nature, she sees how the increasing availability of fashion goods and the speediness of world recognition today with all our mass media as a way to sustain the heritage of high fashion. When asked to define luxury, she pointed the quality of these goods and the materials that took longer to produce until it reaches its valued consumers.

Despite the “branding formula” she is seeing in the present fashion statements people all over the world expressed themselves, much as a logo made to be visible without any noticable heritage that defines the person underneath the clothing, she affirms: “And so, no, fashion is not for everyone,” she stressed her strong opinions with a punch in her accent.





– Image courtesy of Karen Tamblyn