Commentary

Thu
20
Jun
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Eating Without Agendas, Reprise

Over the last couple of essays, I’ve written about public spaces that unify our communities. I’ve also written about the need to overcome the social divisions in our communities (whether those divisions are obvious or latent). If our communities are to grow, then they need to grow in a way that benefits the community at large, not just certain factions or segments.

Funnily enough, I was thinking about community unity about this time last year, too. As such, I would like to re-share that essay from last year. Community unity is of the utmost importance to me and it requires open, honest, raw conversation. Last year, I wrote about unity through food. I quoted the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who once said that a shared meal can “break barriers, challenge assumptions, and build bridges.” Bourdain said there is no better way for people to understand each other than over a meal together.

Thu
20
Jun
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Social security terms in plain language

Some of the terms and acronyms (an abbreviation of the first letters of words in a phrase) people use when they talk about Social Security can be a little confusing. We are here to help you understand all you need to know.

Social Security employees strive to explain benefits using easyto-understand, plain language. In fact, The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to communicate clearly in a way “the public can understand and use.”

If a technical term or acronym that you do not know slips into the conversation or appears in written material, you can easily find the meaning in our online glossary at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/glossary.

Thu
20
Jun
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Governor signs disaster-related legislation

STATE CAPITAL HIGHLIGHTS

Fri
14
Jun
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Faces & Places

“Sometimes a short walk down memory lane is all it takes to appreciate where you are today.” ~Susan Gale

When someone in our family is ill, the word spreads quickly, and people show up empty handed but with lots of opinions. Usually, I end up cooking for a platoon, well maybe not entirely, but a minimum of a dozen. I’m always happy to see everybody, but I also know from past experiences, there are still those who enjoy stirring up trouble by digging up the past. There are also the ones with big, pompous attitudes and bellies who like to wave their personal political flags, and I dreaded that the most. My family is strange and unpredictable, and that’s putting it as nicely as I can.

Fri
14
Jun
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Rising Tides

Essays from West of 98

Last week, I wrote about swimming pools as unifying public spaces. Our rural communities don’t have a large number of spaces that are truly public—open to anyone and everyoneand truly unifying, placing everyone on the same level. But why does that matter?

Whether we like to admit it or not, our communities have divisions and fissures. Sometimes, these divisions are very apparent and raw. They might stem from issues like racial tensions, political decisions by local leaders, controversy at the school, or a significant criminal incident. One community becomes multiple communities, living separately within the same city. Those divisions might heal, but it might take years. Maybe the division was decades ago, but it has never fully healed.

Fri
07
Jun
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Faces & Places

“We’re all flawed heroes. Responsibility is power. Take responsibility for the consequences of your actions, and the world is yours. Everything is a choice.” ~ Tom Hiddleston

If you knew me, you would know that I have zero tolerance for people who are too lazy to work, who stand in the hot sun, and the rain and cold, holding those stupid little signs with overused words like: Homeless. Hungry. Anything helps. God bless. I once saw a man who possessed some creativity and a lot of humor. His sign read, “Ok, what I really want is a damn beer.” As much as I hate to admit it, I have rolled down my window on occasion, and shared the good news with them, that McDonalds and Wal-Mart are hiring and wanted them to apply. Can you believe that not one panhandler has appreciated that bit of information? Shocker!

Fri
07
Jun
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2 Cents Worth ood morning to all

Good morning to all my friends let set awhile and visit. Joe and I got more rain during the night last night. His garden when we got up yesterday morning was flooded once again so he went after we got our of church and broke his dams around the garden. He put them up around it because we never get enough rain and he wanted to hold what we could get. Well this year everything is flooded, the tanks are

full and running around, the lakes are 100% full, isn't that wonderful. Joe and I went to Sweetwater Friday and got the oil changed and when they got through he said, "Let's go see if water is in Billy and Lenora's yard at the Sweetwater lake, so we went. All of the roads are paved to it so we knew we could get to it, and sure enough the water is about 5 foot from their back porch.

Fri
07
Jun
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Good, Clean Fun

Essays from West of 98

It’s no secret that Stamford’s city pool is important to me. I’ve discussed it several times in social media posts. At city council meetings, we have worked on both short-term improvements to the pool as well as a long-term improvement plan. But today, I want to discuss why I find it so important. The city pool is not just a random city service that I have fixated on. City pools, especially in rural communities, stand as something very meaningful.

As we talk about revitalizing rural communities, the conversation inevitably involves “quality of life.” If a community wants to keep its current residents and attract new ones, the community must have amenities that make the community an enjoyable place to live. Moreover, these amenities should provide quality of life for everyone in the community, not just a partial segment.

Fri
31
May
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Faces & Places

“Ultimately, we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.” ~ Marilyn Ferguson

Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. "he is prey to irrational fears." F.E.A.R. is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. There's no genuine threat of immediate physical danger, no threat of a loss of someone or something dear to us, actually nothing there at all.

Fri
31
May
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Men and Women of Action

On Memorial Day, I think of the war dead. Memorial Day arises out of the ancient custom of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers. A variety of celebrations emerged in the United States, after the American Civil War, to decorate soldiers’ graves and honor the war dead. The details and dates varied, but each of these celebrations centered around remembering those who gave their lives in service to America. These myriad celebrations coalesced in the 20th century into the tradition we know as Memorial Day.

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