All posts by ajmcle1

Here’s some advice.

A few nights ago, I was wasting time on the internet and stumbled upon this class blog. I realized that the course was starting anew again and a got a little reflective. This, in all honesty, is sad because I was a student in the Spring 2017 semester. Being reflective about something that ended a few weeks ago is a clear sign of boredom. That said, when I look back I wish I had a few pointers about this course.

That’s what led me to write this blog. I wanted to pass out a few tips that could make your semester easier. I mean, this course is still going to be hard, but it won’t be impossible. As far as my tips go, use them or don’t use them. It’s up to you. It won’t affect me either way as I’ve already passed this course. This won’t be a road map on how to get an A. I can’t help you there. Try David Lightman for that. My main goal is to get you all to start thinking about the group tasks at hand.

Think About What’s Easy and What’s Hard

I imagine by now you all have picked organizations to help. I’m writing this with the assumption that there’s blogs, videos, and tweets at the very least you all will have to create. My advice is to break down tasks into two categories: easy & hard. Then get working on what you think will be easy tasks. That way you’ll have some momentum and time into going into harder tasks.

I’m not going to tell you what’s easy and hard. To me, it seemed that every team is different, so “easy” is a kinda subjective. But do what you can to figure out what’s easy for your groups as soon as possible.

Use Slack!

Slack is going to be your best friend if it isn’t already. My group used Slack to share drafts of blogs, talk about video shoots, share videos, give advice, and generally complain about our work. That last one was a true bonding experience. I’ve done group projects before that were a real effing drag because not everyone could get on the same page. Slack is hands down the easiest way to clear that hurdle.workplace-1245776_1280

Schedule Often

One of the things our group could have been better at was scheduling. Sometimes it seemed like due dates would pop up out of the blue and it’d feel like an “all hands on deck” panic situation. We would have prevented that feeling if we scheduled what we were going to do and when we were going to them weeks ahead of time. I know it sounds so effing simple, but hey, we didn’t do it consistently and we made our lives harder because of it.

Consider Other Editing Software

Hey, if you want to use Final Cut Pro to edit your videos, that’s your business. If you’re confident or know what you’re doing, go ahead. What I’ll say is that the consensus in my class was that it was a pain in the ass. If you end up feeling the same way, do yourself a favor and look at editing software that’s out there. The best video my group did was off a cloud based editing software. I’m glad the person that put it together was smart enough to use that and not give into the Apple’s promise of “user-friendly” software.

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What Public Transportation Means to Me

In recent news, the Minnesota House of Representatives introduced a bill that will dramatically cut funding to public transportation. Early estimates from the Metropolitan Council are that all 151 Metro Transit bus routes will either face reduced service or elimination. To get a scale of that that would mean, the Met Council noted:

In 2016, the Metropolitan Council provided more than 100 million trips. More than 82 million of those rides were Metro Transit bus, light rail, and Northstar commuter service. Ridership has continued to grow, with an average of nearly 300,000 weekday rides.

80 percent of riders are going to work or school; nearly 40 percent of downtown Saint Paul and Minneapolis workers use transit. More than 15,000 Park & Ride spaces across the region serve commuters who ride a bus.

My Relationship With Public Transportation

I have to admit something to the general public. I’m 31 years old and I don’t know how to drive. Part of it a general fear of driving. It’s one of the few things that makes me really anxious, because I know driving safely is a huge responsibility. At least it is to me. That said I’m working through it and hopefully will learn soon. Part of it is that I’m an adult with a full time job and goes to college on the side. It’s hard to find the spare time.

Not being able to drive has never been a huge issue for me. I’ve gone to high school, work, college, and dates just fine. I’m lucky enough to have a wife that’s been incredibly loving and tolerant, while taking over the lion share of driving. I have  great friends that drive me around to hang out and not making me feel ashamed. Oh yeah and Lyft…WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!

Most importantly, I’ve always been able to depend on our bus system. It’s how I get to work everyday. I use it going across St. Paul to go to college. I also take pride in the fact that I’m doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint. Its not a perfect system, but the positive outweigh the negatives for me.

What Cutting Service Would Mean

If the estimates the Met Council produced are correct, a lot of Minnesotans will be affected. Cutting service would change my daily commute to work for example. I’m one of the lucky ones because I have flexible hours, so I could work around it. But there are plenty of people that don’t possess my luck in this respect.

For many Minnesotans, public transit is crucial to keeping a steady job. If their service gets reduced, that could mean the difference between being paid or not. Once your employment gets affected, larger consequence will loom. It affects people’s ability to hunt for job or housing. Moreover, it’ll take away their freedom to live their lives as they see fit. There’s no reason in my mind why someone’s ability to see family and friends, go to school, or even enjoy a park is to be threaten, just because they use public transportation.

What To Do Next

Luckily, legislation has not been approved in either the Minnesota House or Senate.  Find your local representative and call them immediately! Remember to be respectful. There’s a near 100% chance you’ll speak to a volunteer or an intern. They’re not getting paid and likely have college loan debt. They have enough on their plate. While being respectful, let them know why public transportation cuts are a bad idea. Ask when the next town hall is scheduled then attend. The goal is to make sure they know how critical public transportation is and hold representatives accountable they don’t.

We Need to Talk About the Eviction Crisis

Why is This a Crisis?

Evictions are a nearly unreported threat to Americans, but an increasing population are experiencing them. It’s long been the standard that people should spend no more than 30% of a person’s income on housing. But a recent Harvard study found just over 21 million households spend more than 30% on housing. 11 million people were reported to be spending more than half their income on housing.

When families spend more on housing, they are forced to spend less on other items. Spending more than 30% on housing makes paying for basic needs like electricity, groceries, and clothing like buying a luxury item. Children and seniors are impacted more from this reality as they are the most vulnerable.

It makes other items we tend to take for granted, like internet access or cars, practically impossible to possess. While that may sound like less of a “need,” consider applying for a job. In this age it’s nearly impossible to apply for a job without the internet. It’s equally as hard to go to multiple interviews without a car.

Matthew Desmond wrote a book called “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.” In the video linked here, he talks about the how big of an effect evictions have on American families.

Of that 1/4th that receives housing funding  that Desmond mentions in the video, they have to endure long waits to actually receive that help. The remaining 3/4ths will likely continue on dangerous eviction cycle, which could last for the rest of their lives.

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A Milwaukee eviction of Ara Sprakman

What Can be Done Right Now?

A problem as big as the eviction crisis can’t be bundled up in one solution. That said, there are many promising efforts. Desmond mentioned that people are at a disadvantage in eviction court, as they either don’t show or can’t afford a lawyer. New York City passed legislation to afford legal assistance to tenants. The move resulted in an 18% drop in evictions within a two-year span. The legislation has recently been picked up by Rep. Keith Ellison as a house bill (H.R. 1146), but not much has come of it the current congressional session.

In Desmond’s book, he championed the expansion for Section 8 voucher program. While I fully support that, there are serious issues. The biggest issue is that landlords can legally reject Section 8 voucher funding. This is a form of discrimination, plain and simple, but there still is hope. The Minneapolis city council passed legislation that prohibits landlords from rejecting Section 8 funding. This legislation need to be expanded on the state or federal level. City laws are a short-term fix as they can be overruled by the state law or  withholding federal funds.

How to Take Action

First, there are many groups that have been doing great work in this effort. On Just Shelter, there are links to both local and national resources supporting the cause. Consider volunteering with a group to either assist families or spread the message in your community.

The biggest work that can be done is through our government. Long lasting and sustainable efforts will have to be done through policy. Find your local council-members and mayor and call them. Once you’ve done that, consider calling your congressional representatives, both in the U.S. House and Senate. Remember to stay calm and respectful. Chances are you going to speak to a college intern. They already have enough on their plate. That said, make sure you stress how important affordable housing is to you.

Lastly, we need to do what we can to convince the greater public that housing is a basic human right. People have the right to have a consistent place to sleep, eat, and live. Children and seniors have the right to a place that offers security from harmful elements. Housing doesn’t need to be lavish, but it does need to be there.

Hey Democrats…get your shit together.

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Pick a day. Could be today. A week from today. Hell, even a few weeks from now. At some point, it’s best that we stop caring about the effects of the damn 2016 primary. I don’t care about Bernie Sanders’ revolution. I don’t care about defending the Clinton legacy. Party members are dragging the people into these factions of “Bernie Bros” vs. “Establishment Democrats.” With as much crazy stories that comes each day from Trump’s presidency, my interest in liberal in-fighting wanes.

My tipping point was a recent story in The Root about the recent lovefest that was the DNC unity tour. The story is a good read; that’s not what pissed me off per se. It’s more so reading how the tour became noticeably awkward and left Democrats more confused than before. This quote from the article gives a good reflection on the shit hitting the fan.

Sanders came out stomping hard for Heath Mello, a Democratic mayoral candidate for Omaha, Neb., despite the candidate’s pro-life stances. Then the DNC chair called Sanders out for his stance, then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called out Perez and then Sanders told them all that you have to make ideological compromises to win. This coming from the same Bernie Sanders who screams, You shall not pass” to any Democrat who isn’t progressive enough for his tastes—despite not being a Democrat.”

Awesome.

In my opinion, rehashing the primary is a political crutch for party members. It seems like we’re in a time where people are eager to define themselves and what path they’re against. In the end, it’s not only about identity politics, women’s rights, or speaking to white working class. It’s a combination of all those things and more. I’ll be more at ease when more Democrats are brave enough to speak about progressive positions that move the country forward. I don’t need constant railing against the elites or a regurgitation about “putting hope on the ballot.”

Democrats have some serious questions to answers to America’s problems. It’s been four months into Trump’s presidency and I still don’t know how the party plans to tackle criminal justice reform, the eviction epidemic, and work automation. These are some serious issues that seem to touch various wings within the Democratic party. Don’t you think it’d be reasonable to, I don’t know, talk more about them? Maybe I’m being whimsical.

And hey, if you happen to be a Democrat in power and read this, here’s another thing on my wish list. MAKE IT SIMPLE TO UNDERSTAND! It seems like every good idea gets put through some machine that make it sound twenty times more complicated when it gets talked about. I get it, this shit is hard, and I certainly don’t have the answers. Yet Republicans have mastered this art (see: death tax & religious freedom) for some dubious things. It’d be nice if Democrats could have a reasonable counterbalance to that. Say what you want about Bernie Sanders, but he was heading in the right direction in making policy relatable. It seems reasonable to start there.

I don’t want to rant more than I have already. All I want is the party to advance past 2016 and state it’s case. People don’t care about internal party politics. They care about actual plans to improve their lives.

Trump’s Cuts Affect Arts & Culture in Rural America

IMG_20170427_192242_030When news circulated about Trump’s budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, I’m not sure the immediate thoughts where the effects to the south. My thoughts at least weren’t going there at least. As with anything as complicated as the American budget, there are far-reaching effects that may be hard to recover from.

Take the cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for instance. Had those type of cuts occurred within the last few years, we may have never had the podcast S-Town, one of the most critically acclaimed podcast so far this year. S-Town tracks the life of John B. McLemore (no relation), and his personal connections within his town in Alabama. S-Town does have legitimate criticisms, but on the whole it gives a rare glimpse of the struggles and unnerving realities of living life in rural Alabama.

With the National Endowment for the Arts, my immediate thought was Broadway plays and art galleries in major metropolises. Yet an interesting CBS story highlights how the endowment affects the opposite of that narrative. The story covers Appalshop, a non-profit arts center located in Letcher County, Kentucky. It shows how Appalshop’s important not only to the county’s economy (They have 18 full-time employees and five part-time employees and have a million-dollar payroll annually according to program director and fundraiser Ada Smith), but also capturing the culture of Kentucky. They’ve filmed movies that exposed audiences to Kentucky’s musical legacy to black families who recently moved from Alabama.

Sadly it takes the possibilities of budget cuts to understand importance of things like S-Town or Appalshop. There’s been a recent narrative that we need to listen more to the rural working class. While I think that’s an overblown solution to a complicated problem, its just wrong to cut off an opportunity for their voices to be heard. These cuts would do just that, and that’s the most frustrating part.

I’m not sure what type of difference saving Appalshop or funding for future projects like S-Town will have. The hope is that people realize that things like the art and public broadcasting does more good than harm. This an even greater goal in rural America. I’ve read a ton of articles and listened to a bunch of “experts” about this very topic. The general consensus is that shit like that is hard to do. Hopefully highlighting stories like those two will makes it easier.

 

Ted Cruz’s Lie About Democrats

Sometimes I’ll read the news and find something so insane and stupid, that I shut my eyes and gather my sanity for a moment. Ted Cruz inspired such a moment for me this morning in this Washington Post article. He claimed that Democrats are rooted deep in racism. Since it’s Black History Month, I thought the most festive thing to do was debunk his garbage claim.

Cruz takes a pretty hard stance against us Democrats by extension of his apparent stance against Dixiecrats. They were a splinter group of southern Democrats that obstructed racial progress through the 1940s to 1970. Cruz said:

“You look at the most racist — you look at the Dixiecrats, they were Democrats who imposed segregation, imposed Jim Crow laws, who founded the Klan. The Klan was founded by a great many Democrats.”

On the Ku Klux Klan

I’ll start with the KKK lie first. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups in America, made it very clear that the KKK wasn’t or isn’t some left-wing creation. The Klan originally started as a social club of former Confederate solders. There was an association between the KKK and Democrats during the 1920’s, but those members weren’t threatening black people with lynchings and social security. They were a group with dangerous and extreme right-wing stances using modern standards.

Cruz shoddy wordplay makes it seem like the Democratic Party is the KKK’s mother or father. In reality, the Klan is more like a distant cousin who’s awkward and creepy in conversation, lives in the woods to be “off the grid,” then doesn’t get invited to any reunions. Am I happy about my party’s association with the KKK in the 1920s? Of course not, but the Democratic platform today is not even the platform of the 60’s, let alone one from the 1920s or even the during reconstruction. To say otherwise is misleading.

Cruz and Dixiecrats

Cruz’s newfound hatred for Dixiecrats is odd seeing that he praised Jesse Helms in 2013. Helms was a staunch Dixiecrat who, after failing to block the Civil Rights Act, switched to the GOP in 1972. His switch to the party of Lincoln didn’t discourage his efforts to block Martin Luther King Day as a federal holiday or use Affirmative Action as a wedge issue in his 1990 senate campaign.

 

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Jesse Helms

On Helms, Cruz said in a Heritage Foundation event:

“And you know what? It’s every bit as true now as it was then. We need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”

I’m certain Cruz hasn’t walked this statement back to this day. Honestly I’m not too surprised about Cruz talking from both sides of his mouth on Dixiecrats. From lying about Obamacare to his back-flip on Trump, Ted Cruz says anything to advance his own agenda.

Saying Democrats are the party of racism is disgusting. Covering his lie up with hypocrisy is even worse. We need keep holding Ted Cruz accountable and expose his lies so we don’t have to hear more of him past the 2018 elections.

My small introduction

Hey, I’m Adam McLemore. Outside of my short-sighted decision to join this class to escape cleaning, I also wanted to learn how to write in different mediums. I’m not sure at the end of the class that I’ll be a good writer. That said, I’ll do my best to come out of this expierence a better one.