Sunday, December 11, 2005

This is Jackie's playhouse "watchtower". I be damned if I'm gonna let this Frank Lloyd Wright replica be sold for under its appraisal value! Who says you can't take it with you when you go!!!

You can do it!

Makin' my daddy proud

Ahh yeah, all you kids on the bikes, get the hell out da way, I'm comin' through!!!!

Moving is such an art, a special way of being, made more the special when you throw your back and you have a hard time standing up....nevertheless, the mover shall not be thwarted in his efforts to move.

Onward vo!!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Hey everybody! It's us again!

The Tracker: November 2005

* Kentucky ranks in the top ten poorest states in the United States.

* Rates of smoking are highest in states with higher poverty.

* Medicaid recipients have approximately 50% greater smoking prevalence than the overall U.S. population. In 2002, Kentucky was 1 of 15 states which did not include medication coverage for tobacco dependence treatment under Medicaid.

* In 2004, Kentucky had the highest adult smoking rate in the country at 28%.

* The local adult smoking rate (18 and older) is 26%. The local youth smoking rate (8th-12th graders) is 24%.

* From 2001-2003, the percent of adults that tried to quit smoking in Owensboro-Daviess County was 56%. The state percentage was 48%.

* In 2004, the number of local manufacturers offering smoking cessation programs to their employees was 52%. The state percentage was 48%.

* According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, during 1997-2001, cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke resulted in approximately 438,000 premature deaths in the United States, 5.5 million total years of potential life lost, and $92 billion of annual losses in worker productivity.

* In 2003, the percentage of local schools banning smoking on school grounds was 64%. The state percentage was 42%.

* In 2003, the percentage of local restaurants that were smoke free was 57%. The state percentage was 45%.

* In 2002, Kentucky had the fifth highest age-adjusted death rate in the United States. Out of 50 states, citizens in 45 live healthier and longer than Kentuckians.

* The four leading indicators of death in the Kentucky are 1) heart disease; 2) cancer; 3) stroke; and 4) chronic lower respiratory disease.

* Cigarette smoking is the single most common preventable cause of death for the four leading indicators of death.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hey everybody! Well, it looks like we will be closing on our new house in late December! We are so excited. This is a preliminary picture. Can't wait until you can visit us!

Friday, November 4, 2005

The Profound Role of Leadership: by Gary Hall

All of us have been positively influenced by leaders throughout our lives.

Whether they were a Little League coach, youth minister, an inspirational teacher or a wise grandparent, our perceptions and character are formed by these personal relationships.

We also have been affected by leadership. Think of how American's collectively feel when it is perceived no one is at the helm of the ship in Washington, D.C..

The challenge of leadership is to successfully bring a critical number of people to a unified conclusion resulting in support for action.

Research has shown that the critical number of people needed to cause community change is surprisingly a minimum of thirty percent. When Americans fought and won independence from the British, interestingly enough, it was not by means of unanimous support. In fact, the population was bitterly divided into three equal camps. There were the Tory's, those loyal to the crown, the Revolutionaries fighting for independence, and those who were neutral in the entire matter. Eventually, they all were benefactors of those few leaders who did not wait to gain the support of the majority but garnered enough support to accomplish what was right for the new nation.

In August of this year, a survey was conducted of registered voters in Owensboro/Daviess County revealing that sixty-five percent of respondents favored an ordinance restricting smoking inside many public buildings and businesses. This survey had a confidence level of 95% + 5%. Results were published in the Messenger-Inquirer on October 5.

One question surrounding the jointly written ordinance is, "Does passive smoke harm those who are exposed? Too many studies have repeatedly shown that second-hand smoke does have adverse effects on adults and especially children.

The issue of whether or not individual rights of smokers would be infringed is also important to consider. Does a smoker have the right to exhale smoke in an enclosed space shared also by nonsmokers and children? Many years ago, cities saw the need to pass ordinances to restrict snuff/tobacco chewers from spitting on city sidewalks. Why? Because it was smelly, unsightly with ambeer staining the soles of pedestrian's shoes.

Although not as visible, passive-smoke is inhaled clinging to the lungs of non-smokers.

Smoking restrictions do not infringe on the rights of smokers, it actually provides specific guidelines where one can smoke while also protecting the rights of the non-smoking population.

Dr. Howard Gardner, professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education defines leadership this way: "A leader is an individual (or, a set of individuals) who significantly affects the thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors of a significant number of individuals." Having verifiable strong community support, the next step is for our city/county officials to carry out their responsibility as duly elected leaders. With the authority their offices hold, they must move to support a comprehensive ordinance protecting as many of our members of our community as possible.

Gary Hall, 2415 North Stratford Drive, Owensboro

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Welcome Back!!

Did I fail to say "Welcome Back!" to everyone?! Yes I did, so this is your welcome back to a new academic year.

I encourage you to keep your sociological perspective sharp by accessing some new additions to this "stuff" I call my work.

Sociology Interest Links This webpage is an extension of my class website. I keep this pretty up-to-date with some very good resources for the field of sociology. Don't forget to check it out. It's a good resource from writing term/research papers in the field of the social sciences, and of course, sociology.

My RSS Feeds Keep up-to-date with the current news events from around the world by visiting my RSS feeds. Before learning more about RSS feeds, check out these resources I have collected. Another good source.

If you don't know what RSS feeds are, go here.

Got additional resources I should add? Should me an email at

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Tracker: September 2005

This edition's Tracker can be found by clicking here.

This edition of The Tracker will provide comparative data related to Global Economic Development. As Owensboro-Daviess County continues to weigh economic development approaches and strategies, data indicators are presented to give local citizens insight into the challenges of our world.

* In 2002-2003, the under five mortality rate for the United States was 8 per 1,000. The same rate in Israel was 6, and in the West Bank-Gaza the rate was 24.

* Using the nutritional status of children under five years of age in the United States as the baseline in 2002-2003, 47% of children in Ethiopia were considered malnourished, 35% in Pakistan, 34% in Vietnam, 10% in Nicaragua, 0% in Germany, and 0% in France.

* The incidence of tuberculosis per 100,000 in 2003 in the United States was 5. In Spain the rate was 27, in Somalia 411, in Sweden 4, in Iraq 157, in Costa Rica 15, and 102 in China.

* Life expectancy at birth in 2003 for the United States was 77 years of age. In the United Kingdom, the expectancy was 77, in Singapore 78, in Rwanda 39, in Peru 70, 77 in Cuba, 42 in Burundi, and 69 in Brazil.

* In 2002-2003, the ratio of female to male enrollments in primary and secondary school in the United States was 100:100. In Venezuela the ratio was 104:100, in India 80:100, in Niger 69:100, and in the United Kingdom 116:100.

* The percent of total seats in national parliaments filled by females in 2004 was 14% in the United States, 25% in Uganda, 45% in Sweden, 7% in Nigeria, 23% in Mexico, 7% in Kenya, and 12% in Italy.

* The unemployment rate for ages 15-24 in 2002 in the United States was 12%. In Argentina the rate was 32%, 36% in Colombia, 5% Austria, 26% in Greece, 29% in Panama, and 44% in South Africa.

* In 2003, the net percent of gross national income attributed to assistance in the developing world by the United States was .1%. The percent of giving by Denmark was .8%. Canada, Japan, Portugal, and New Zealand, portioned .2% of their gross national income to the developing world.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Public Life Advocate: The Tracker (May 2005)

This edition of The Tracker can be found in print publication of the Public Life Advocate at the website of the Public Life Foundation. Sources for this edition's Tracker can be found at the end of this post. Check back for additional information on an ongoing basis.

* Each year 32,000 older adults suffer from hip fractures—contributing to more than 1,500 deaths—attributable to drug-induced falls.

* Two million older Americans are addicted or at risk of addiction to minor tranquilizers or sleeping pills because they have used them daily for at least one year.

* According to the Fortune 500 in 2002, the drug industry ranked second among all business sectors in return on shareholder equity, with a rate more than two-and-a-half times the 2002 Fortune 500 median (27.6% compared with 10.2%).

* In the 1990s, the drug industry’s profitability grew to almost four times the Fortune 500 median.

* Vioxx (arthritis medication now off the market) was more heavily advertised in 2000 than Budweiser and Pepsi.

* Pfizer (maker of Benadryl, Celebrex, Cortizone, Lipitor, Neosporin, Rolaids, Sudafed, Viagra, Zoloft, Zyrtec, and other medications) had more profits in 2001 than all of the Fortune 500 homebuilding, apparel, railroad and publishing companies combined.

* Of the 50 most popular drugs discovered, 45 were discovered with taxpayer-funded research.

* Compared to all other industries, the federal tax burden on the drug industry is 40% lower.

* According to the National Institute of Health, taxpayer-funded scientists conducted 55 percent of the research projects that led to the discovery and development of the top five selling drugs in 1995.

Public Citizen: "Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts."

Friday, May 13, 2005

Break Time

Welcome all to the Blog that brings you exciting connections to items of sociological significance in our world. It's summer time here, and that means it is time for me to take a bit of a break. However, I'd love to hear any comments or suggestions you may have in my efforts to improve the offerings of this blog and its purpose useful. Send me a line at

See you in Fall 2005, with maybe a few sundry items between now and then....

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Peter Pan unveiled

Well, I guess it's most appropriate for me to now comment and capture my Broadway, er, my RiverPark Center debut in the production of Peter Pan.

Suffice it to say that I am very pleased that I got involved, and that my first role had more of a significance than I initially hoped.

Let me first summarize that this is my first ever appearance in a theatrical production on stage. So here I am, 33, never have acted much less "danced" on stage, and I'm playing in front of a nearly sold out crowd of say 1,000-1,500 people.

Ok, having got that out of the way, let me comment on my experience. I certainly recall entering the first day of practice that I was indeed out of place. I'm sure I was perceived as an area homeless man strolling in off the street, with my personally iconoclast frayed blue jeans and probably a New Orleans Jazz Fest shirt from 2002 or 2003. Those are about the only two t-shirts I wear out of the house. Everyone else was wearing leotards, dance shoes, and appropriate dance practice attire. I'm sure they perceived me to be the loser.

As if first day of practice dance attire malfunction in choice was not enough, need I mention the fact that this was a dance production, with minor acting involved? Hey, I got involved because I wanted to be the guy that would appear cool after the production because he did such a good job standing in the very, very, very back for 30 seconds of the two hour production!? Oh geez, that first day of practice illustrated that I was going to be the one that would have to be learned in dance moves and theatrical performance. Well, of course that's what I'm after in my theatrical career, but I did not want to achieve that in my first ever performance!

Practice, practice, practice. What I learned over the month or so of weekend practices was that it would all be worked out, very methodically, by practice. The first practice is the dump day, the dumping of all of the moves, lines, acting, etc.. into the empty skulls of the performers. Sure, let them sort it out over a month or so and then give the public what they want.

And we did. I was able to wonderfully, if I do say so myself, piece together the parts of the puzzle rather successfully. (Did I mention I did the worm dance move in the first scene at dead center frontstage?) The evidence presented by my 5 year old does not have to be proof enough, for even my third year law student wife was amazed by my, no, our production of Peter Pan. It must have been because I shewed away my traditional jean practice garb for a more acceptable presentation of dance attire: uh, well some black Starter jogging pants and black slip on shoes was as close as I could get!

It was nice doning a new identity for a while. I know I sought that by being involved in the production. It must be the essence of the creative, theatrical mind, in this case. How do you interpret your role? What value do you give to your movement, your dress, your demeanor, your blackened teeth? I'm so glad I decided to learn about the history of pirates prior to the show. Most importantly, I'm glad I found that listing of pirate quotations, and used the "Arghhh! Kiss me I got scurvy!" one. That went over well with a few of the moms in the crowd.

It was certainly a pleasure to be witness to a different kind of middle/high school extracurrricular activity. I was unable to do so at that age during my academic career, but saw something quite incredible as an opportunity for teens. From the crowd they are quite graceful, as I witnessed the Dance of the Oceanic Nymphs during rehearsal. Do they know how absolutely incredible their interpretation is? For on the back stage, they are the teenagers as you and I: searching for belonging, identity, acceptance. I'm intrigued about the perspective their dance gives them on that identity they strive to achieve.

Standing offstage during rehearsal at the RiverPark Center and during the performance was a treat. My what bright lights and appearance beyond the black curtain can do to someone's persona. And for the moment or moments you are on stage, you are the catalyst of entertainment for those seeking creative redemption. You, rather your portrayel of a role, dictates the link between excitement and boredom, love and hate, anger and joy. But just as in "normal" life the pinnacle of behavior, of normative action is not achieved. You give your character, as you give yourself, what you can. Sometimes it is the best, sometimes it is the most appropriate, sometimes it's not good enough. I try to leave it on the stage, as long as the interpretation lingers with the audience.

So that's how Tinker Bell flies!!! So that's how the stage feels under my feet!!! So this is what the 'backstage' looks like!!! So this is why I got involved!!! And this is why I'll do it again!!! Yes, I can mark this off my checklist of things I want to do. Hmmmm, I think I'll volunteer for the Theatre Workshop.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Social Class and the US Economy: The uneven burden of money's higher cost

By Ron Scherer

Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

NEW YORK – The cost of being a borrower is rising.

As the Federal Reserve raises interest rates - as it is expected to do again Tuesday - everyone from students to car buyers to anyone carrying a credit-card balance will start to notice that lenders are charging more.

To read the entirety of this article, click here

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

NPR : States Scramble to Solve High Medicaid Costs

Talk of the Nation, March 14, 2005 · Texas warns that Medicaid costs could leave the state broke. Florida is considering semi-privatization -- and in Kansas, the governor wants to extend coverage to more who need it.

Read and hear more about the national medicaid crisis from National Public Radio by clicking here.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Public Life Advocate: The Tracker (March 2005)

This edition of The Tracker can be found in print publication of the Public Life Advocate at the website of the Public Life Foundation.

* Kentucky’s median malpractice payout in 2002 was only half what it was in

* The total dollar amount of malpractice payouts in Kentucky declined 4.1% from 1995 to 2002.

* In Kentucky, there were five medical malpractice payouts exceeding $1 million in 2002, compared with six payouts in 1995. The average number of payouts of $1 million or more during the past eight years has been 3.2 annually.

* According to the Kentucky Medical Association, 819 doctors left the state during 2001 and 2002.

* The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure reports a decrease of 19 doctors for that two-year period.

* Of the 1,273 physicians who left Kentucky as of 2003, 31% went to neighboring states such as Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee, where insurance premiums are, on average, lower.

* Eighty-two of Kentucky’s 100 counties have no obstetricians – or just one

* Medical malpractice costs have risen an average of 11.6% a year since 1975 in contrast to an average annual increase of 9.4% for overall tort costs.

* A poll conducted by the Courier Journal in early 2004 found that 68% of Kentuckians favor a limit on malpractice awards.

* 78% of responders from Northern Kentucky favored limits; 77% in South central Kentucky; 70% in Western Kentucky and the Bluegrass area; 67% in Louisville and 56% in Eastern Kentucky.

* Kentucky’s ratio of doctors-to-residents has grown at a rate exceeding that of Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee – including some states that impose malpractice caps.

* An estimated 600 to 1,400 hospital deaths in Kentucky each year occur due to preventable medical errors – costing residents, families and communities $244 million to $416 million each year.

* The annual cost of medical malpractice insurance to Kentucky’s health care providers is $81.8 million.

* According to the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank, 4.7% of Kentucky’s doctors have been responsible for 49.9% of all malpractice payouts to patients.

* In Kentucky, 83.3% of doctors have not made a medical malpractice payout since
September 1990.

* As of early 2004, 12 % of Kentucky doctors (17 of 141) who made three or more malpractice payouts since 1990 were disciplined by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. Only 20 percent (11 of 55) who made four or more malpractice payouts were disciplined.

* On average, medical malpractice insurance comprises 2.8% of a Kentucky doctor’s income.

* Each year 32,000 older adults suffer from hip fractures—contributing to more than 1,500 deaths—attributable to drug-induced falls.

* Two million older Americans are addicted or at risk of addiction to minor tranquilizers or sleeping pills because they have used them daily for at least one year.

* According to the Fortune 500 in 2002, the drug industry ranked second among all business sectors in return on shareholder equity, with a rate more than two-and-a-half times the 2002 Fortune 500 median (27.6% compared with 10.2%).

* In the 1990s, the drug industry’s profitability grew to almost four times the Fortune 500 median.

* Vioxx (arthritis medication now off the market) was more heavily advertised in 2000 than Budweiser and Pepsi.

* Pfizer (maker of Benadryl, Celebrex, Cortizone, Lipitor, Neosporin, Rolaids, Sudafed, Viagra, Zoloft, Zyrtec, and other medications) had more profits in 2001 than all of the Fortune 500 homebuilding, apparel, railroad and publishing companies combined.

* Of the 50 most popular drugs discovered, 45 were discovered with taxpayer-funded research.

* Compared to all other industries, the federal tax burden on the drug industry is 40% lower.

* According to the National Institute of Health, taxpayer-funded scientists conducted 55 percent of the research projects that led to the discovery and development of the top five selling drugs in 1995.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Globalization and Health

Mexico's Minister of Health talks about the role that disease, violence, and malnutrition play in the dialogue over global economic development.

Read this article in its entirety by clicking here.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Talking Community Economic Development...

Discussion, rumours, even hearsay regarding community development reoccurs in our community in cycles. Nevertheless, it's substance has a tendency to leave us dumbfounded. Community economic development will always be an important issue to those communities that struggle economically and struggle with population growth. Work, the education that precedes it, and the socialization by our consumer culture to buy stuff are central tenets of our living. The economy as a social institution is primary to our existence in the westernized, global economy.

I would suggest that for the average Owensboro citizen community economic development is a frustrating notion of which most people feel they have no control. Most of us feel we are at the whims of those making decisions, and that our jobs and job opportunities are dependent on what "they" decide for "us".

Our local economy has passed through a wood chipper of change over the past two decades. We have moved from a tobacco based economy to a retail based economy, thus losing a strong foundation of economic activity and local market strength which supported jobs and a stable household income.
Do you, like I, sense that our community needs to fish or cut bait?

A recent article in the Messenger Inquirer illustrates the ongoing need to address community economic development. Jumping into those discussions without something to buoy our ideas and suggestions on improving the economic plight of our community would result in another vein, quick fix attempt to remedy a problem that has deep roots. We can decide to direct our course as this wave of change sweeps us up. Or, we can sit passively and let it take us wherever it is for us to go. If we are passive, we could very well end up in troubled waters.

To gain perspective on the direction that our community should take regarding community economic development, it is important to provide a foundation from which we can brainstorm and ultimately set forth a course of action for our community.

The traditional approach to community economic development has been to focus on human capital. Patrick Fitzsimmons provides a brief overview of this perspective on economic development.. Here, human capital is defined as the skills and knowledge that local citizens have to bring to the labor force. Do people in the local community have the education and knowledge base to perform the jobs in the community? Given the level of income and standard of living that people want to achieve, are the skills and education present with the people to attract the jobs that will meet these expectations? Our community approach has been in the form of brain gain initiatives(looking outward) and on increasing the education level and work skills of the local population (looking inward). Human capital theory suggests that a growing population forces the economy to grow, increasing the number of jobs, and increasing the amount of economic activity occurring in those communities.

An approach that has received critical acclaim is the social capital theory. Robert Putnam's New York Times Bestseller "Bowling Alone" has been tagged as best illustrating the dynamics to this approach. Social capital focuses on the linkages that individuals have to others through civic activity. Volunteer work and work that promotes the ties that bind citizens together serves as a fundamental basis for intra-neighborhood alliances, replicated across communities and between communities. Putnam has built on this work and continues to provide critical analysis of the role of civic life in community living. Much has occurred in Owensboro-Daviess County to promote civic capital, as is evidenced by the work of groups such as Community Conversations, the Public Life Foundation, and the Neighborhood Alliances. Community and economic development may or may not have been the intent or mission of these groups, but their work is an example of how providing opportunities for citizens to connect with neighbors and community institutions promote involvement, engagement, and buy in to those activities that make communities work.

The last perspective that has gained increasing popularity is the creative class theory championed by Richard Florida and illustrated in his work "The Rise of the Creative Class". Florida and his colleagues were able to identify the most successful communities by their capacity to achieve the greatest increase in economic development. (In terms of state's, Florida's group ranked Kentucky 45th out of 50.) Florida aptly illustrates how community economic development has been highly positive in those communities that he considers creative. Such communities possess higher rates of creative occupations, requiring employees to create meaningful new forms. These communities have knowledge based occupations ranging from scientists and engineers to writers and actors. For Owensboro, the caveat of this approach is that traditional notions of what it means to be a close, cohesive community and society tend to inhibit economic growth and innovation. If we were to follow the creative class theory to community economic development, would it mean that we need to encourage locals to not attend church, seek divorce, and become the individual that their creativity inspires?

Where do we go from here?

The most important effort we can do at this time is to simply have the conversation. We do not have to appropriate thousands of taxpayer dollars to any particular initiative. In fact, that may indeed be low on the priority list if we were to establish a sincere strategic plan to achieve development through the approach designed to achieve the greatest results in the 21st century: by promoting creativity. Individuals considered part of the creative class are not necessarily looking for a big payoff in the form of a salary. They are looking for a place to develop themselves, to engage in creative activity, and to live fulfilling lives.

In the spring of 2003, 47 cities convened in Memphis, Tennessee to hammer out a blueprint for communities looking to become creative, and looking to further enhance community economic development in the 21st century. The outcome product of that event was the Memphis Manifesto.

Utilizing their expertise, let us examine some potential avenues of growth for Owensboro by building on their principles, and by linking our past to our present, and ultimately our future. Below I comment on the Manifesto principles, and ask questions where we appear to currently be lacking.

1. Cultivate and Reward Creativity. Do we recognize the new economy, the knowledge based economy in our midst? How do we reward those individuals and organizations that are plowing the ground of invention and innovation?

2. Invest in the Creative Ecosystem: Owensboro has discussed the riverfront development plan, but it appears as the realization of this plan hinges on private and public investment. Do we have enough commitment to bring it to fruition? At the same time John Bays and Zev Buffman are looking for every avenue to increase entertainment, the arts, and to enhance public spaces. How else can we expand this creative ecosystem?

3. Embrace diversity: At current we have a smattering of events associated with racial and ethnic diversity. Do we value these events enough to make them institutionalized? Can they be grown and become defining events for our community?

4. Nurture the creatives: Can we rise about the alternative perception that those with innovative ideas, new thinking, and progressive action garner? How can we advance their energy to do new things, to make our community a better place?

5. Value risk-taking: Is it customary to challenge conventional wisdom? Can we transform the risk of being ostracized into an expected way of thinking, of acting?

6. Be authentic: Do we fully understand our own uniqueness, and how it relates to the region, the state, the nation, the world? We do not have to stray from what makes Owensboro-Daviess County particularly special.

7. Invest in and build on quality of place: Can we continue the efforts of parks and recreation renewal? Can we build on the efforts of the Greenbelt? Will the City Connections Bikeway Project be supported?

8. Remove barriers to creativity: Are we prepared to look inward and recognize patterns of expectations and policy that constrain creative energy? Are we prepared to do things differently?

9. Take responsibility for change in your community: Are we satisfied with mediocrity? What must happen for us to recognize that change is necessary for our communitys survival? When will we know we have achieved it?

10. Ensure that every person has the right to be creative: Will we move beyond community economic development being a function of the local elite? Will the creative energies of everyone have the opportunity to be expressed, to be realized?

We must not assume that we must gauge our rate of creativity based on that of larger or even similar communities. Each community has its own baseline of creativity, and must work to become more creative based on its point of departure. Thus our initial task is to determine where we are, enabling us to plot what our creative community would look like if we embarked on certain goals and objectives. At the same time, we must keep in mind that what we define as innovative or creative for us, may indeed be old news for another community. We must focus on what works best for us, and we must develop ourselves inward looking out, not outward looking in.

Lets assume that we all agree on the generalities posed by the three aforementioned theories of community economic development. We all agree that a stable, more importantly a growing population is key, along with residents feeling a sense of community, and that fostering and promoting creative energy at home, in the workplace, and in the community is a horizon that our community must begin to bring into its purview.

The bottom line is that residents in the most successful communities in this country are waking up to the reality that their lives are more than a steady job and paying bills. Residents want more out of life, and more out of their communities. They are, however, not expecting to get it all for nothing. In fact, they want to be a part of the creativity that makes their community flourish.

Owensboro-Daviess County could indeed be at the early stages of its own little renaissance. While the changes to our local economy have certainly become institutionalized, our reaction to those changes and our methods to move our economy to new niches and specialty has yet been fully implemented. This can be our enlightenment.

As previously mentioned, this certainly has the appearance of being an elite movement of the local aristocracy. We need to assure the citizens of our community that they will not be left out based on their ability to pay the price for the ticket, or whether or not they received an invitation to a private meeting. We can recognize this and work to assure that this new found energy and sense of purpose is at least provided as an opportunity for individual, organizational, institutional, and community growth for all that wish to get on board. This is why the social capital approach will be important for us to maintain in order to make this process inclusive and to make it impact widespread.

A big first step for our community would be to realize that there is not one single approach to community economic development. We simply cannot assume that only raising the level of educational attainment, or increasing the number of jobs, or strengthening the ties of citizens to their institutions of living, or nurturing systems that promote human creativity will single handedly solve or successfully address community economic development. At the same time, our community must come to terms with the very real need to promote community economic development, as a community that is a sum of its equally vital parts. The population in Owensboro-Daviess County is declining. Economic development has a lot to with it. We as a community simply cannot sit still and remain hopeful and optimistic that things will somehow change by the grace of God. Rest assured that things will change. The very harsh reality about our current circumstance, particularly relative to communities of similar size in our state, is that our community population (unlike theirs) is dying.Note: increases in retail sales and a growing market of housing construction, combined with a declining population should be a troubling, early sign of a coming ghost town.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Dialogue and Deliberation: Part II, National Issue Forums (NIFs)

The opinions of the NIF model are taking into consideration adaptations and additions that have been used in the Owensboro area. To learn more about the NIF model, visit the "National Issues Forums (NIF) website, the Kettering Foundation website, or the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation website.

"National Issues Forums (NIF)" is a nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally sponsored public forums for the consideration of public policy issues."

The NIF forum is characterized by the use of a NIF guide. The guide's primary thrust for a dialogue that yields a "successful deliberation" is the formulation of information and knowledge of the particular issue into at least three options. The premise is that to achieve critical thinking and in-depth analysis there must be more than a "yes/no" stance on a particular issue. Simply put, a minimum of three options on any particular issue, with pros and cons per option, places participants in a group setting where they are required at the outset to explore the topic in more depth.

Much of the NIF work has been facilitated by the Kettering Foundation.

The Kettering Foundation's work is guided by three assumptions:

1. Democracy requires citizens who accept their responsibility and are able to make sound decisions about the public's interest.

2. Democracy requires healthy societies of citizens in communities.

3. Democracy requires legitimate institutions that encourage healthy civil societies.

The NIF forums require participants "to make choices with others about ways to approach difficult issues and to work toward creating reasoned public judgment." The pervasive theme of NIF forums is participant involvement in "choice work".

The outcome for NIF forums is to have the group come to a common ground. The common ground is that gray area where participants can agree. After reviewing the pros and cons of each of at least three options on an issue, participants then are asked to develop a common ground statement about the issue of which each participant can agree.

Some issues to consider when using the NIF model are:

1. The NIF guides are usually very detailed and should be reviewed prior to the forum date by participants in order to have dialogue and subsequent deliberation on the topic.

2. Although participants do not necessarily have to read the material prior to the event, using the NIF guide presupposes a monopoly of opinion on the topic and can co-opt participant input even before the dialogue and deliberation begins.

3. If framing the topic is to capture all thought on the topic, the brief must indeed do that. Therefore local communities may be intimidated in framing local issues under the guise of the three choice model simply out of fear for "missing something".

4. Framing an issue for participants allows them to think publicly and to dialogue on the topic, which allows for easier transition into deliberation.

Friday, February 4, 2005

My brother Nick turned 38 this year. Because he is so old=so many candles=a cake that was more like the 4th of July sky at the river than a sweet, candyland like, cute lil' birthday cake. "Honey, where's that fire extinguisher?!"

Ahhh, ACTING!!!!

Meet the new Borishnikoff, the Fred Astaire of the theatre, welcome to the debut writing of my debut performance in the 2005 production of the Off Broadway/RiverPark Center Production of Peter Pan...... Ok, if I knew then what I know now, I may not be writing this!

Well, I've wanted to get on stage, in performance mode as opposed to janitor mode, for quite sometime. I'm taken back to my high school days like a return flight to New Orleans when I had the opportunity to act, but passed for fear of public reprisal....of my friends no longer being my friends, and from becoming one of the 'weirdos' in school.

But ahhh yes, how nice it is to be a weirdo. So I have finally grown up, to the point of a seventeen year old. Whaaa? You ask. It's nice to be taken back to replenish my need to be creative. All in the name of growth. Sometimes we must return to a previous time in order to find ourselves in the middle of that futuristic state that seemed unatenable.

Well, it's not like my role in Peter Pan is going to be improvisational. Well, improvisational at the least. Even though our choreographer, Marcus from Atlanta, let me choreograph the flag scene!!!

So this is a new thing for me, but something I've wanted to do for a long time. I have officially begun my rehearsals for my debut performance in theatre. Would you believe me if I told you I would be doing the worm at center stage during Scene 8??? I think that's the right scene. It's either 8 or 4. Geez there are lots of scenes in this show......

I so hope I don't forget those dance moves.

Crazy Wisdom

The following is a couple of paragraphs from "In defiance of gravity: writing, wisdom, and the Fabulous Club Gemini", by Tom Robbins found in the January 2005 edition of Harper's Magazine. I found it highly ironic that I found the courage to post the definition of wisdom to the Owensboro Blog, and found this definition shortly thereafter. Mr. Robbins offers insight on what Tibetans call "crazy wisdom".

"Crazy wisdom is, of course, the opposite of conventional wisdom. It is wisdom that deliberately swims against the current in order to avoid being swept along in the numbing wake of bourgeois compromise; wisdom that flouts taboos in order to undermine their power; wisdom that evolves when one, while refusing to avert one's gaze from the sorrows and injustices of the world, insists on joy in spite of everything; wisdom that embraces risk and eschews security; wisdom that turns the tables on neurosis by lampooning it; the wisdom of those who neither seek authority nor willingly submit to it."

Dialogue and Deliberation: Part I, An Introduction

I have been involved in exploring the dynamics of dialogue and deliberation in the Owensboro community proper for several years. I have also served as a facilitator in various forms, particularly as an adjunct instructor in sociology for close to ten years. There have been many opportunities for dialogue and deliberation in the Owensboro community for the past six to seven years, particularly led by Community Conversations and the Public Life Foundation.

As vice chair of Community Conversations, I know all too well the challenge of maintaining neutrality in addressing community issues, particularly with a focus on providing the opportunity for all voices to be heard. To develop this process and approach to individual communication, intra-group dialogue, community dialogue, and subsequent deliberation on each of these levels, it becomes important to establish a foundation of theoretical justification for initiatives to proceed. The dialogue/deliberative work in the Owensboro community for many years has been characterized as "an experiment". Suffice it to say, the experiment has yielded some positive results (e.g., national attention to the community, our efforts have been nationally recognized in a published book by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, substantial local media coverage for the ongoing Conversation Cafes, preliminary local media coverage on our immigrant Study Circle, commentary after the immigrant Study Circle had completed, coverage by the Kettering Foundation and National Issue Forums for the local work on race and ethnicity and our police forums, and others) for the community and for the participants in these efforts.

To provide more clarity on this perspective of dialogue and deliberation, I have decided to focus on the discipline, highlighting models and techniques, and the underpinnings that make such efforts failures and successes in our community and state. This will be an academic, as well as an applied exercise that will bridge theory with practice, and vice versa.

I begin part one of this project, which I expect to take several months, with some common definitions and perspectives on what is dialogue and deliberation.

From the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation:

"Someone who works with these processes of public talk might explain that dialogue is a process that allows people, usually in small groups, to share their perspectives and experiences with one another about difficult issues. Dialogue is not about judging, weighing or making decisions, but about understanding and learning. Dialogue dispels stereotypes, builds trust and enables people to be open to perspectives that are very different from their own.

They might then explain that deliberation is a related process with a different emphasis. Deliberation promotes the use of critical reasoning and logical argument in decision-making. Instead of decision-making by power, coercion or hierarchy, deliberative decision-making emphasizes the examination of facts and arguments and the weighing of pros and cons of various options."

Sunday, January 30, 2005 lucky can a small family like ours be. Look at these angels!!!! They are simply wonderful.....

Saturday, January 22, 2005



Pronunciation: 'wiz-d&m

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English wIsdOm, from wIs wise

1 a : accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : KNOWLEDGE b : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : INSIGHT c : good sense : JUDGMENT d : generally accepted belief

2 : a wise attitude or course of action

3 : the teachings of the ancient wise men




Pronunciation: 'wiz-d&m

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English wIsdOm, from wIs wise

1 a : accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : KNOWLEDGE b : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : INSIGHT c : good sense : JUDGMENT d : generally accepted belief

2 : a wise attitude or course of action

3 : the teachings of the ancient wise men


"You Say It's Your Birthday!!!"

Well, it's here yet once again. The day that some relish, the day that some long to forget. January 23rd for me is my birthday.

I'll be 33 years of age this year. I'd like to take a look back on the past year for posterity's sake.

This time last year the Louisville Cardinals were hot to trot. I remember watching them beat then #2 ranked Florida in Louisville. It was awe inspiring, especially since Franciso Garcia had lost his brother just about a week before the game. His brother was shot in Brooklyn. Francisco played with such heart, and motioned to the heavens at each opportunity. I saw the Cards play Tennessee today, and Francisco plays with his brother's memory heavy on his soul. However, instead of burden, he plays with his brother's memory as inspiration.

Right around the beginning of February last year is when my dad began his steady decline until he passed away in March 2004. I've spoken to this before, and you can read more about it by clicking here. The past year was obviously marked by my dad's passing, and the birth of my second child. I was trying to think about what I was going to write in this post earlier, and I had to look far back into my memory to recall much of anything besides those two things.

I also began a new job this year. The job I now have was originally offered to someone else, and then re-offered to me right after dad's passing. Then later in the year, I interviewed for the teaching position. That strangely did not work out, but things have been just fine with my new job, my new colleagues, and my somewhat new line of work. Shoot, I wouldn't be writing this post if I hadn't started my new job. I have been afforded a creativity that I have so long desired. It could not have come at a better time.

Susan is now finishing up law school. We were right in the middle of her law school this time last year. It's amazing how that time has passed, and for me it's not at all too soon.

Jacquelyn has come so far in the past year. Kids do indeed grow up too quick. Her and I have been through a lot the past several years, and we have only grown stronger for it. She's an extraordinary child. I know that sounds so cliche, but I enjoy her personality, her laughter, her effort at becoming herself.

So, I'm turning 33. I still find myself searching for myself. I guess we all always do, trying to get to know ourselves a little better each day. I noticed yesterday that Josie would look at me and laugh, and then spill into crying. I realized that when she looked into the soul of my eyes, she could tell I was still hurting because dad is gone. So I took her into my arms, and looked her in her eyes, and told her, "You know honey, it's ok. It's ok to have sadness in your soul. We are going to be ok." No, she did not completely understand my language. But I can now honestly say she understands my eyes and my soul. She is happier for it, and I could ask for nothing more than understanding.

Now Josie and I are together. Jackie and Susan have been with me the whole time. I feel fortunate to have learned through thought, reflection, and experience that happiness and sadness in the soul can coexist. You cannot run away from yourself.

Over the past year I'm happy to say I've become more centered, more prayerful. I don't pray a lot, but I'm settled in my soul and in my spirit. I try to bring a peace to my family. Yesterday Jackie told me she was my guardian angel. How can I not be at peace knowing I have the eyes of God watching me? Not waiting for me to take a wrong step, but to be there to catch me when I stammer or fall. Focusing on those that are dear to us is the most important thing that we can do. I'll never forget my dad telling me his only responsibility in his life was his wife and kids. What a fine world he and mom made for me. That type of security is needed in these times of disaster, war, and tribulation. Teaching a showing strength to others is something I carry forward in my family's name.

So I now smile. I hope if you have read this, you will accept a happy birthday wish from me to you. You, whoever you are, are obviously one of many reasons why my birthday to me is special. Not to mention that my wife Susan always does well by me for my birthday. Her buying me a keyboard, when I couldn't play it, was one of the most special things she has done for me. She is pursuing her dream by finishing law school. She knew I always wanted to play piano. She was saying to me, "Well, play!"

On my birthday, Happy Birthday from me to you, and thanks to all that play a little special part in my life.

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Sudan and Southern Rebels Sign Deal Ending Civil War: Social Conflict and Politics

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan. 9 - To cries of "God is great!" in Arabic and "Hallelujah!" the Islamic government of Sudan signed a peace agreement on Sunday with a Christian rebel group in the south that called for an end to one of Africa's fiercest and longest-running civil wars.

Click here for the entire article.

click here for sociological terms related to social conflict.

Deforestation paves way in Brazil: Global stratification and culture

By Jan Rocha

BBC News, Brazil

Soya bean farmers in Brazil are demanding that a 600-mile-long stretch of highway, which runs due north through the Amazon region, should be paved so it can be used in all weathers. But environmentalists are alarmed at the plans to cut through the country's natural assets.

Click here for the entire article.

click here for global stratification and culture related links.

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Letter From the Americas: Learn English, Says Chile, Thinking Upwardly Global: Culture and assimilation

SANTIAGO, Chile - In many parts of Latin America, resistance to cultural domination by the United States is often synonymous with a reluctance to learn or speak English. But here, where Salvador Allende was once a beacon for the left, the current Socialist-led national government has begun a sweeping effort to make this country bilingual. Click here for the entire article.

Click here for the related sociological terms on culture and language.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Long, hard road to democracy: Democracy and development

BANGUI, 6 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - Preparations for democratic elections and efforts to restore security across the country featured greatly in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2004. Despite setbacks of insecurity and human rights violations, events in the year indicated that after years of instability, the country could be on the verge of democracy. Click here for the entire article.

Click here for the related sociological terms on politics and development.

The shifting politics of global giving: Stratification and Natural Disaster

A NEW BRIDGE: With the help of outside aid, Sri Lankans are rebuilding in Galle.Rumors and false information are complicating the clean up efforts along the southern coast.

Click here for the entire article.

Click here for the related sociological terms on stratification.

Latin American development: Immigration, economic development

BORDER ORDER: These three Mexican migrants crossed into the United States last April. They're some of the more than 10 million Mexicans currently in the US illegally. President Bush wants to pass a guest-worker program this year.

Click here for the entire article.

Click here for the related sociological terms on immigration, population, and economic development.

China: Population

By Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING (Reuters) - China named the first baby born at a Beijing hospital Thursday as the 1.3 billionth person of the world's most populous nation, more than two decades after a one-child policy was introduced to keep its numbers in check.

Click here for the entire article.

Click here for the related sociological terms on population and demography.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

First hand account from Africa

Adventures in Africa: Saving the children

Part I of an ongoing series

Judy Lorimer has just returned from a month in Mali, West Africa, doing volunteer work for Save the Children. During her stay, she kept a journal, which we will run as a series of columns about Mali and Lorimer's work there. Her hope through this series is to educate our readers about what life in Rural Africa is like and to encourage you to consider sponsoring a child in the region, as she does, at the cost of $1 a day. Until last year, Judy was a teacher in Harvard. Now retired, she lives in Pepperell.

For the remainder of this article, click here.

For related sociological terms and concepts, click here.

Monday, January 3, 2005

The outsourcing of American jobs: a timeline

This is a quick and easy look at the history of how the outsourcing of American jobs has become a critical piece of our economic development strategy. Thanks goes out to a former student of mine for pointing this out! Thanks Wendy!!!

Click here to visit the site.

Click here to visit additional links related to the economy and global stratification.