Tag Archives: Flash-Back

Flash Back: Thinking About Real Estate

A while ago I picked up the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It got me thinking and one of the big things I had a dilemma with, particularly as it relates to real estate, are these thoughts below:

When I think only about the financial side of the real estate business, it’s quite tempting to try and jump in. And that’s when I step back and think about some of the social implications.
I’ll start with a typical example. Pick up your average ‘Make millions in Real Estate’ book and one of it’s tips will be to go to the bankruptcy office, or look for foreclosure notices, those are places to get houses for dirt cheap. Never have I seen in ANY book or tape or information anything that addresses the needs or situation of the person that is bankrupt or foreclosing. If anything it might mention that they’ll be glad to have the money, but I highly doubt they are glad to lose their house. “Your misfortune is my fortune,” that’s basically what it is, and that just doesn’t sound right to me.
The other major problem with real estate that I see is the power it has to push people around, particularly poor people. Gentrification is somewhat of a buzzword, but it’s happening and it’s frustrating and sad. Pick any major city and what’s happening is people with low incomes, but people who had a stable home, are being pushed out of their residence and left to move somewhere else. Now that the city has become popular again, those with money are forcing (I’ll explain in another post) out those without money. This includes housing projects (Cabrini Green of Chicago is now condos). This troubles me.

It didn’t get many comments then, but maybe someone could chime in now…

Flash Back: Sexist Assumptions At Relevant Mag

I just posted a few weeks ago a bunch of the articles I’d written for Relevant magazine. Not saying this had anything to do with my lack of writing in the following year, but my post concerning Relevant’s new women’s mag, Radiant, got some interesting attention.

Basically I posted this advertisement from Relevant’s website:

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And I wrote about the trouble with the assumption behind “It’s Our Turn Now.”

Radiant Magazine as you can see from the site is geared towards women. What’s so terrible about a magazine geared specifically towards women? Nothing; the terrible thing is that it implies, that Relevant was/is geared toward men. I am not saying Relevant was, or is, a men’s magazine, I’m saying their choice of wording implies that it was.

Take a look at the ad for Radiant on Relevant’s homepage. It says, “It’s Our Turn Now.” Does this mean that Relevant was the “men’s” turn? Clearly the approach towards this new magazine does reveal that assumption (just like so much of our culture). Why wasn’t Relevant a level place for men and women? Why can’t guy’s learn to take turns in the same place, rather then forcing women to go off on their own to have a voice?

If Relevant is a magazine for 20-something males it should say MALES outright. Personally, I don’t think they had any intent for Relevant to be a ‘male’ mag, it’s their choice of wording that hint at the sort of assumption that ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ means male or oriented towards men.

Conversation ensued, including comments from Anna and Kyle of Relevant. Go ahead and hop over to the original post and comment, there’s a handful of people still subscribed, we might stir up some new and interesting conversation.

Comment Here. 

Flash Back: Why I don’t Shop At Walmart

Below, in it’s entirety, is something I wrote a while back about why I don’t shop at Walmart. With all the CRM posts and everything I felt this was probably a pretty appropriate time to post this up again and hopefully garner further discussion on it. If your going to link to the article, please link to the original, Why I don’t Shop At Walmart:

This topic always draws a lot of feedback. The thing is from the moment someone starts to talk, or write, you usually have a good idea what side of the fence they are on (it’s the same as when you listen to someone talk about Kanye West’s statements and racism). I fear-and I’m speaking about myself too-that too often we are choosing what side of the fence we want to be on, and then just finding evidence to back it up. Maybe it’s cause you had a bunch of liberal friends, or you hung out with the grunge crowd, some external pressure just decided for you that you hated Walmart, and since then you’ve found all kinds of reasons why this is true. For others it’s their republican upbringing, their support of “Christian” values, or their love of low prices that swayed their decision and now they’ve found all kinds of reasons to support that choice. Honestly, I probably fall into one of those categories, but give me a minute to share with you why I personally avoid Walmart.

At some point in my movement towards maturity, I recognized the significance of personal responsibility. I realized that with any situation, regardless of the reasons behind it or circumstances concerning it, my involvement (or passive silence) would show my support for it. If something is against the rules, and I say nothing about it, I show my support for it. If my government, of which I am a part, makes a decision and I say nothing about it, I support it. I need to take responsibility for those things. If I am ever confronted on those things (and I have this strange feeling I might be), I will not be able to pass blame like Adam did, I will be held accountable for my decisions.

I’ve definitely made poor decisions in the past. I remember being in high school and seeing a sign posted above a drinking fountain in the hallway. Walmart and Sweatshops was the topic, and I passed it by without a second thought. Interesting that I can remember that now, but it had no bearing on me then. For a number of years I had been aware of this, and I did nothing.

At some point later, maybe after I had been exposed to some facts, seen some video, and been confronted a few more times, I realized that important lesson on personal responsibility. Suddenly, the weight of the responsibility was heavy on me. I never went through a research project of weighing the Pros and Cons of Walmart. To be honest most of this debate about whether Walmart is good or bad seems to miss the point for me. I’m not saying it doesn’t have significance, but it gets us into a balance game, and I’m not interested in that.

This is the one fact that disturbs me. Close your eyes. Think about the shirt you are wearing. Trace it back through the store you bought it from, back past being packaged, past being shipped, and to the place it was stitched and sewn together. I’m terrified when I do that and I see a small child, dirty and weary from 18 hours a day of labor, looking into my eyes and awaiting an explanation. What will I say to that little girl? What does taking responsibility mean for me there?

I cannot in good conscience buy from a store where I am aware that that is where the items came from. Does Walmart employ sweatshops? I’m not sure, but I’ve heard evidence of it, and the mere possibility scares me. Do other Stores employ sweatshops? Probably many other stores do, and as I become aware of them, my purchasing decisions and opportunities will become more and more difficult; But that in NO way allows me to disregard my responsibility. Do ALL stores employ sweatshops? I do not believe so. I know of a number of fair trade clothing stores whose goal and focus is to be sweatshop free.

I’m not advocating a boycott; I don’t know enough about economics, etc to make a strong decision on that. I do think that when a company like Walmart is in the news for bad practices, it should affect our spending habits. When Martha Stewart goes to jail our continued purchases send the message that we don’t care about her breaking the law. When we read that Coca-Cola has been polluting the water in India, our continued purchasing sends the message that we do not care. I long for someone with much more brilliance then I to come along and give me a plan for making choices and organizing in a way that will affect change for the good. Are you that person?

I leave you with this. As a friend, I want to admonish you. I am aware of some facts that might or might not be true about Walmart. Please stop shopping there until you have examined the facts.

Link to Original


Flash Back: Writing for RelevantMagazine.com

In 2005 I had the opportunity (multiple ones) to write articles for Relevantmagazine.com. I really enjoyed it and it was a chance to see what writing on deadlines and for a professional media company was like. I enjoyed the discussion that came from the articles and the audience that had the chance to read them.

I’ve had problems with Relevant magazine, but I feel like the audience they are reaching is the same audience I would like to reach, so as they gave me opportunity I wrote. Below is links to the images of each article, and below that are the links to the actual articles. If you want feel free to take some time to read the articles. Hopefully you find they stay true to my passions and not just me catering to the Relevant crowd.

Getting published

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In Order: What Would it Take, Poor College Students, Remembering 9/10, Crisis in Darfur, Earthquake in Pakistan, Fair Trade at the Supermarket, New Year’s Resolutions. (click on the image for an image of the page, they are no longer available on the relevant website).

The year concluded with another exciting development, my article (edited by Jesse Carey) about New Year’s Resolutions was the featured article on the email newsletter, 850 words of Relevant.

Flash Back: Considering Church

A great series I enjoyed writing that I wish I continued was about the church. And it started with this post, Why a Building?:

I think my initial hesitation about the whole building thing came when the church building craze started my last year of high school. My church decided we need to add a $2.5 million addition on to our building. I didn’t realize we were outgrowing the original building in the first place, and now they wanted to add on. And in adding on they wanted it to look really nice, which is understandable since the current building looked quite nice. But I thought to myself $2.5 million is a whole lot of money, and it just doesn’t seem necessary.
Little did I know over the next few years practically every church I went to was doing a building campaign. Some of them really needed it, others I wasn’t so sure. We attended one church for a while and then they started a building campaign for a second building and they where putting an indoor waterfall in it. That was it, I was gone.

Then at some point I started thinking… Why the heck do we need a building anyways? I mean we all live somewhere, why don’t we meet in our homes? It seemed to me that’s mostly what the early church did. I mean, it’s true we couldn’t all pack in to hear the really good preachers, but since when is that what it’s all about? Some would say that’s what small groups are for, to meet in smaller communities in our homes and stuff (I’ll address this later).

I’m not saying church buildings don’t have a purpose, I’ve just started questioning if they are really necessary at all. I mean is it feasible to do the things we do in a church building in our homes instead? And what about bigger events? Is it possible to do those in a place other than our own building?

One of my main concerns about the building is that seems to be all we spend our money on, or talk about spending our money on. The main time you hear about making tithing pledges in most churches it seems is usually related to a building campaign. And then the church goes into debt to purchase the new building before they even have all the money.

That was just a rant of sorts, I really should fine tune it a bit, but there it is raw.

The conversation that began from that post was great and it continued into a brief series entitled, Considering Church.

Flash Back: Do Not Resist… Further Discussion

A while back I entered into a great discussion on the topic of war and pacifism. It sort of fizzled out, but the dialog is still there to continue. I think Brain has since left the readership of this blog, but maybe a comment or two will stir him back. Below is a quote from the blog post I wrote, but please stop by the old one to read the further discussion on the topic of Do Not Resist…

38″You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. -Matthew 5:38-42

The idea of not resisting an evil person has got to be the most counter cultural concept I had heard in a long time. We’d certainly heard the “turn the other cheek” passage, but usually it’d been flaunted as a weak and cowardly thing to do to avoid further punishment. Growing up I can only think of one example of this being carried out in real life: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. I later learned about Gandhi, Mandela, and others, but initially I had heard of nothing but the occasional reference to the Civil Rights movement. It’s no wonder I and many others didn’t take this passage seriously at all.

Read further comments on the topic of Do Not Resist…

Flash Back: Remember Kanye’s Comments?

I’ve been blogging fairly regularly now, trying to do a once a day posting schedule, and it seems to be going pretty well. I hope you feel the same way. This is a new weekly post I’m gonna do. Seeing as most folks seem to take Saturday’s off and aren’t reading as much I figure it’s good chance for me to peek back and pull out some old posts for your enjoyment. Now, the plan is to simply write a new post highlighting the old posts and maybe providing a brief update if necessary. Feel free to go back and comment on the old posts or just post more thoughts on this one. If folks are subscribed to comments by email they might even get back in the conversation if it picks up again. So here goes.

“George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People.”

Whether you agreed with him or not, Kanye started a conversation that I think might have at least opened some people’s eyes a little to the issue of race in our country. Here were my thoughts back then.

September 3rd, 2005:
I’d like to offer a brief defense. First, I hope you folks have paid attention to some of the good things Kanye has been doing. Speaking out against homophobia and gay-bashing, writing a song and music video about Conflict Diamonds, and many here might appreciate his Grammy award winning song Jesus Walks.

I think maybe we all need to have a long talk about racism. I think Kanye spoke from a place of hurt and frustration during those concerts. I’ve heard some say that he is wrong, that this is not a racist thing, and there is a possiblity you are right. At the same time there is a possiblity he is right, and I think it comes from many other times when he was right, when there where situations he or others he knows faced that were inherently racist.

I’m done. I just want everyone to know there is a Nashvillian out here who understands Kanye a little and does not hate him for speaking what was on his heart.

As for those upset with the possiblity that it cost some donations I couldn’t have said it better than Aunt B on Sharon Cobb’s post:

“I mean, I don’t know if Bush hates all poor people or just black poor people, but I do know that if you’d withhold money from a charity because you don’t think how a black man behaves himself is “proper,” you’d better look long and hard at your own soul.”

Video of the Controversial statement:

And then further thoughts on September 9th, 2005:
My original post on Kanye West was written before I saw the actual video footage of what he said. From the description and summary I had heard from many many other blogs and news articles I thought Kanye had gone off yelling and screaming, insisting Bush “hates” black people. Well, I finally found the clip here. And this is anything but a outspoken rant. Why didn’t anyone mention the fact that Kanye was stumbling over his words? Why didn’t anyone mention that he didn’t sound angry, but distraught and disturbed, nervous about speaking but concerned about sharing what was on his heart? Does anyone else see that in this video?
Just my opinion, but I feel like this supports my original post that Kanye was speaking out of pain.

Now to address a few of the comments:

Anon: Kanye did not say Bush “HATES” black people, he said Bush doesn’t care about black people. And as far as evidence goes I think the evidence he was referring to (at least recently) was the Hurricane and New Orleans. You obviously don’t agree with him though do you. What if (I know another one of those “what if’s” you don’t like me asking) Kanye was a close personal friend of yours. What if in a conversation with your close friend, he got choked up and stumbling over his words expressed his hurt and emotions and said, “Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Would you ask him where his evidence is? Would you try and see things from his perspective a little?

Mr. Strong, I don’t think the fact that 2 of the people on Bush’s cabinet are black is really a case against Kanye’s statement, do you?

Brian and Jon and Stephen, I’d like to suggest that you try a different approach if you are really actually curious where the feelings that Kanye expressed come from. You see the way you post some of your comments, they sound argumentative, not like open and listening ears. If I was Kanye, or someone who shares his feelings, I don’t think I would want to share with you my hurt and emotions and the stories and evidence that make me feel the way I do. I’d be afraid you’d just rip into and discredit everything I just vulnerably shared with you. If your really interested though, and willing to listen, I’m sure you can find a person on Wheaton’s campus, or maybe in your church or neighborhood who would share with you some of their feelings, you just have to look.

Finally I couldn’t leave the topic without posting links to a few other inflammatory celebrities.