President’s Corner – July 2020
It seems an eternity since I wrote my last President’s Corner article for the newsletter. I submitted it just as we were receiving news of the untimely death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, due to the use of excessive force by police officers. The subsequent protests and unrest underline, yet again, how much needs to be done to root out systemic racism and begin in earnest addressing inequality and issues of social justice. I am hopeful that this time we will see the beginning of meaningful change.
Some of you may know that I recently returned to work on a short, part-time assignment for Johns Hopkins University. Every Friday, since the beginning of the pandemic, a member of the Pathology Department Leadership Team has sent out an email reflecting on the current situation, providing words of wisdom and encouragement. These messages have been even more poignant since the beginning of the protests following the death of George Floyd and I decided share a few of these thoughts with the hope that you will find them inspirational too.
Stay well, stay strong and take care!
“We must stand together with those who we do not look like, with those who we do not agree with, and recognize that we have more in common than we have that separates us.”
We are saddened by the tragic deaths of George Floyd and others, and we would like to express our utmost solidarity in standing against racism and inequity. We must be willing to look squarely in the face of such actions and stand together to support one another, even during this time of physical separation. Let us work together to be a light of respect, healing, connection, support and service to each other and to our community, as we continue our mission of patient care, research and education.
Ralph H. Hruban, M.D.
Baxley Professor and Director of the Department of Pathology
For those who might be feeling lost in this moment, I myself don't know what it's going take to achieve justice. To enact change. To begin to dismantle systemic racism in this country. The country is falling apart around us. We cannot go about our days pretending nothing is wrong. The system is broken. Society continues to fail black people. Many of us are part of the problem. But we can also all be part of the solution. I’d like to believe every step taken, however small, is a step towards progress. Educate yourself. Read, “The American Nightmare,” by Ibram X. Kendi. Look at the diversity of the authors, topics and characters in your home library, including the books on your children’s shelves. No child is too young to learn about racism, white privilege, inequality, inequity, activism. Finding children’s books with black female or male protagonists does not happen by accident. We must all make an effort. Ask questions. Be an ally. Engage. Do something.
Ashley Cimino-Mathews, MD
Associate Professor of Pathology and Oncology
Overall 2020 Census Timeline
Counting every person living in the United States is a massive undertaking, and efforts begin years in advance. Here's a look at some of the key dates along the way, as they are currently scheduled:
• January 21: The Census Bureau started counting the population in remote Alaska. The count officially began in the rural Alaskan village of Toksook Bay.
• March 12 - March 20: Households received official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.
• April 1: This is Census Day, a key reference date for the 2020 Census—not a deadline. We use this day to determine who is counted and where in the 2020 Census. When you respond, you'll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020 and include everyone who usually lives and sleeps in your home. You can respond before or after that date. We encourage you to respond as soon as you can.
• Starting mid-April: The Census Bureau mailed paper questionnaires to homes that had not yet responded online or by phone.
• July 1 - September 3: Census takers will work with administrators at colleges, senior centers, prisons, and other facilities that house large groups of people to make sure everyone is counted.
• August 11 – October 31: Census takers will interview homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.
• December: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.
• March 31: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to the states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.
Congratulations to Barbara and Roger Williams, LWV of the Space Coast’s (LWVSC) volunteers of the month. Barbara and Roger are originally from the Maryland/Washington DC area and moved to Florida for work opportunities. Barbara served as LWVSC President from 2017-2019 and used her presidency to raise the profile of the League in the Brevard community. She continues to serve on the Board as our website specialist. Roger provided encouragement and support for Barbara in her role as President and has always been a willing volunteer, ever ready to help with tabling and voter registration events. Together Roger and Barbara are a committed team. Next time you see them, please thank them for their continued contribution to the work of LWV of the Space Coast.
Maryem Ahmed is our new student intern. She is a student at Eastern Florida State College pursuing a BAS in Sales and Marketing. Maryem has had an interest in social work since she was a teenager and would like to be a therapist one day.
Maryem believes everyone should strive to be an informed citizen and actively engage with their local and national governments for both their own benefit and for the greater good of society. This is why she thinks organizations like LWVSC are important. Maryem hopes her participation assists the League in continuing to achieve its goals of encouraging informed and active participation in government.
Maryem’s primary focus here at the League is on using digital media to reach young adults. Using her skills and knowledge of Facebook and Twitter, Maryem has already posted League items on Twitter with a more individualized focus as well as completed her orientation to our League.
Important Voting Information
Submitted by Diane Callier and Donna Morris, Co-Chairs of the Voter Services Committee
Governor DeSantis has shown interest in increasing capacity to handle in-person voting for the upcoming general election by possibly allowing state employees the day off in exchange for working at the polls. However, he has yet to support expanding early voting in Florida.
Given recent experiences with in-person voting in the States of Georgia and Wisconsin and other recent events there may be an increase in voter participation in this year’s elections. While this is a good trend it could extend wait times for voting. Considering this and the continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic you may wish to avoid potential risks of voting in person. Consider voting by mail for the upcoming primary and general elections to be held August 18 and November 3, respectively.
If you intend to vote by mail you can request your vote by mail ballots for both the primary and general elections now by using the Brevard Supervisor of Election (SOE) website at www.votebrevard.com or by calling the SOE office at 321-290-8683. The SOE vote by mail website is user friendly.
One of the best ways to ensure that your vote by mail ballot is counted is to assure that it arrives at the SOE Office before the election date. Send your completed and signed ballot in the mail before August 10 for the primary election and before October 26 for the general election. The vote by mail ballots will not come with prepaid postage on the return envelope so you must also remember to put postage on the return envelope when you mail in your ballots.
If you do not wish to mail your vote by mail ballots for the primary election, the SOE will provide drop-off boxes at polling sites for you to submit your vote by mail ballots only for the primary election, not for the general election. For the general election you must mail your ballot to SOE Office well before the election date so that they receive it by or before the election date, or deliver your ballot to the SOE Office by election day.
If you opt to vote in person please follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. Wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and wash your hands.
There has been a lot of misinformation circulating about potential risks of voting by mail. The SOE has also hired cybersecurity staff to help ensure the integrity of voting in Brevard County. The LWVSC Voter Services Committee is working on content to disseminate through social media and via printed cards to inform people of the key dates for requesting and sending in vote by mail ballots and also for registering to vote online for those people who aren’t registered, want to change their party, or have changed their name, address, or signature since they last registered. We are also working on content to correct some of the myths and misinformation circulating about voting by mail. This information will soon be posted on the LWVSC website and Facebook page. We ask your help to further distribute this information via your individual and community social media platforms during this time when our in-person efforts are limited by the pandemic. Help get out the vote!
LWVSC Awarded Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Grant
By Sue Ebersberger
At the end of May, LWVSC was one of 50 Leagues given an opportunity to participate in a National League Pilot Program: Leaderosity. The pilot program, focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), recognized the League’s historical failure to welcome women of color. The program sought to expand our understanding of Equitable Leadership and to move us to a new place of equity and inclusion. Upon one person completing the program and the submission of a local League DEI plan, LWVSC was to receive a one-time $500 grant to be used to further our DEI efforts. Jo Shim asked me to complete the program on behalf of LWVSC.
The request was intriguing because I was a training manager for 15 years at the beginning of my career. As a young training manager at Hughes Aircraft Company, I helped design and teach what was then called “Diversity Training”. Since then, I’ve had lots of opportunities to examine my life for my own biases. Like most of you, there were times when I’ve handled them well… and times when I’d rather not admit what I did or said. Who would know that as I picked up this class years later on diversity, equity, and inclusion that our nation would burst into flames about our societal racial and systemic inequalities sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. It is within the context of our nation being confronted with these issues that I began the class.
Throughout the course, we were challenged to examine our own biases, to consider our League’s composition and our work in terms of DEI issues, and to think about societal issues that compel and prevent equitable participation by people of all kinds of differences in non-profits in general and the League in particular.
LWVSC has one of the most expansive definitions of diversity I’ve ever seen. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are a part of our local and national organizations’ key strategies to move into the future. LWVSC’s Diversity statement reads:
There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, native or indigenous origin, age generation, sexual orientation, culture, religion, belief system, marital status, parental status, socioeconomic status, language, accent, ability status, mental health, educational level or background, geography, nationality, work style, work experience, job role function, thinking style, personality type, physical appearance, political perspective or affiliation and/or any other characteristic that can be identified as recognizing or illustrating diversity.
Regardless of whether you’re new to the topic of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion or an “old pro”, we all have something new to learn. Here are a couple of things we’ll examine in more detail in conversations and future newsletters:
1. The Principle of Equity is not that same as the Principle of Equality. When equality is present, everyone gets “the same”. But in equity, people get what they need to do the work at hand. For example, if learning is equal, all students get the same book in the same format. But when the principle of equity is applied, a blind student would get the book in Braille, while an average student would get a written textbook … and a learning disabled student might get a written and audible text. EQUITY levels the playing field so that all might participate as fully as possible. Where does the Principle of Equity come into play here at LWVSC?
2. Everyone has conscious and unconscious biases that effect our assumptions about other people. Biases are the things that we believe to be true about a particular group of people. “Our biases are the stories we make up about people before we know them.” (Verna Myers, TED Talk) Biases fall away when we are in relationships with people who are different than we are… when they become a part of our family and friends. But biases are funny things… our heads can say one thing (“It’s great to have a woman pilot.”) but our emotions may cry out another (In the midst of turbulence in the sky, “Does she really know how to fly this plane?” you might wonder.) What are some of your biases?
3. Microaggressions: “Psychologist Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as ‘brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership’. The persons making the comments may be otherwise well-intentioned and unaware of the potential impact of their words.” (Wikipedia)
o “Some of my best friends are gay or black or single parents or… you name it”
o “All _fill in the group look alike.”
o Assuming a woman working in a hospital setting is a nurse when in actuality she is a doctor
Listen for some microaggressive statements today.
The easy parts of the grant--completing the Leaderosity Course and submitting a Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity plan--have been completed. The hard work is now before us. “Making DEI a part of our DNA,” Dr. D.A. Turner, a National League of Women Voters Board member, says “is essential to making the League relevant and effective for the next 100 years.” It will take time and energy. It will require thoughtful work and soul searching. Sometimes it will be uncomfortable. But as we claim our unconscious biases, listen to each other with open hearts, and risk speaking words of our own truths, we will grow and change to be more inclusive and open.
If you have a story to share, a question to ask, or an idea to suggest related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, please contact me. I’d love to chat with you.
Article by Fran Baer, Chair of Education Committee
The Education Committee continues to meet on Zoom throughout the summer months addressing the significant issues of how and where we educate our youth. The decision was made at our June meeting to invite the Superintendent of Brevard Public Schools to be the League’s guest speaker at the September 12, 2020 Hot Topic. Dr. Mark Mullins has agreed and we invite League members, guests, and interested community to join us as we explore the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closings have affected the system.
Before September, the District will have decided how and when our schools will open and what was learned from the experience that will substantially alter the way we deliver public education in Brevard County. What were the pitfalls? Were there benefits and did they reach all of our students? As the mission statement says, “To serve every student with excellence as the standard.” We look forward to welcoming Dr. Mullins, either remotely or person-to-person, depending on the recommendations regarding the numbers of people allowed to assemble safely. Watch for the update as we move through the summer months.
Since we are talking about the operation of the BCPS, it is time to pay attention to the School Board elections which will be held in the primary, August 18th,since Board members are elected non-partisan. Two of the five incumbents are running for another four year term from Districts 3 and 4. Each has a challenger. The League has once again joined with Florida Today and Eastern Florida State College to bring candidate forums to the voting public. The SchoolBoard forum will be held July 29th in a virtual format. Exact time is yet to be decided. More information will be forthcoming and posted on the League’s web site. These are important positions as we place in their hands educational decisions that affect us all.
Please join us at our July 15th Zoom meeting beginning at 10a.m. Civics Education will be on the agenda among other important topics covering our Program of Work.
Human Trafficking by Sybil Shepard
The International Relations Committee met via Zoom to discuss the Great Decisions topic Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. We discussed laws, corporate policies, and ways an individual could deter human trafficking.
The International Labor Organization estimates there are 40.3 million victims worldwide. The ILO estimates that trafficking in humans is a 150 billion dollars a year criminal enterprise. Because most media platforms focus on sex trafficking there is broad misunderstanding and ignorance of labor trafficking. A major issue of effectively combating trafficking is lack of public education and awareness.
In 2000 the United States passed the law Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The TVPA is the first comprehensive federal law that provides victims greater protection through prevention, protection, and prosecution. According to the Thomas Reuters Foundation, in 2018, worldwide prosecutions numbered 11,096 resulting in 7,481 convictions.
An example of positive corporate action is Mars Wrigley, a private family owned company. They produce familiar products such as M&Ms and Pedigree pet products. In 2019, the company launched Next Generation Supplier Program. It is a set of ambitions to enable one million people in their supply chain by improving their working lives.
Here at home in Florida, Governor DeSantis signed legislation in 2019 that makes it mandatory for hospitality and medical employees to receive training on spotting and reporting human trafficking. This law took effect January this year. Businesses that do not comply face fines up to $2000 per day.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody recognized January 2020 as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month by highlighting resources and how to spot and report it. Her office maintains a website: YouCanStopHT.com where you can download and print informational posters.
National Human Trafficking Hotline
Text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE)
Report to local authorities or call 911.
Sustainability by Terry Mott
🌴The recent senseless death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement has caused a firestorm of protests throughout our country. Americans are angry and demanding that the problems of systemic racism and social injustice issues for Black and Brown communities throughout America be addressed.
And there are other prior indicators that suggest additional systemic problems in America.
🌴America's Rate of Suicides:
According to a January 30, 2020, USA Today article by Alia E. Dastagir, entitled "More and more Americans are dying by suicide, What are we missing?" the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that month the following statistics regarding America's suicide rates:
o 48,344 people died by suicide in 2018, up from 47,173 the year before.
o Since 1999, the suicide rate has climbed 35%.
o Death rates in 2018 increased for only two of the 10 leading causes of death: suicide and influenza/pneumonia.
o Suicide is the nation's 10th-leading cause of death, with 14.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
o In 2017, 10.6 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted it.
In response to the statistics, April Foreman, a clinician and board member at the American Association of Suicidology, noted "That's not acceptable. We need to start treating these deaths seriously and respecting these survivors by upping our game in public health."
The article further stated that "Some experts say reducing the suicide rate won't occur without examining the environments people live in or larger societal ills, such as economic insecurity and discrimination that may drive people to despair. "
And Dese'Rae L. Stage, a suicide survivor and founder of Live Through This, agrees. She stated "It's not like someone is just broken. There are all these things that happen in their life that break them. Abuse, poverty, homophobia, marginalization. Are we too focused on the individual and not enough on the systemic causes of suicide?"
🌴 America's Standing in the World Happiness Report
Just how happy are Americans? Here's another indicator that evaluates how citizens feel about their overall well-being. The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries. Experts from around the world review a variety of data to determine how a country's social, urban and natural environments combine to affect a citizen's happiness. The most important source used is a global series of surveys/life evaluations conducted by the Gallup World Poll.
It may surprise Americans to learn that we didn't make the list of top 10 happiest countries in the world. America was ranked a disappointing No. 18. See the link below for details regarding the Report.
🌴 So how can we fix the problems in America?
Identify the facts: This quote by John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers and the second US President, may provide the first clue:
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
A problem must be identified before it can be fixed. And while these days determining all the facts of a situation may be a difficult task, it must be done. And facts need to be openly shared, regardless of how uncomfortable we may feel throughout the process.
Determine whether you have a linear or a systemic problem:
Simple (linear) problems are ones where the cause can be easily identified and fixed. You've determined that your car has a flat tire. The simple solution is that you fix the tire.
However, since most of America's problems are complicated in nature, problems arise when simple (linear) solutions are applied to complex, systemic problems, which require more innovative and creative solutions. By not simultaneously analyzing the problem and using a systems-thinking approach to create a solution, one can easily fix one aspect of the problem while creating additional problems in the process.
🌴 Sustainability can provide the road map for transformative change
Systems thinking is the core foundation of this emerging field of study. We learn that having an understanding of sustainability management requires one to adopt a multidisciplinary systemic lens capable of appreciating the inter connectivity of three pillars: environmental, social, and economic. By simultaneously analyzing the dynamics of these three pillars, we can create policies that ensure the best possible quality of life for those living today and for future generations.
🌴 The Challenge
In sum, today we frequently hear the sentiment: "We're all in this together, and together we'll get through it." And as our history dictates, we will ultimately get through the myriad crises currently facing America.
However, since we are a country perhaps more divided today than ever before, it's going to take a heartfelt commitment from each of us agreeing to tackle the difficult work needed to fix our country's systemic problems.
And for many people, the real challenge will be learning how to shift from having a linear- to a systems-view of the world. It won't be easy, but if we can approach the challenges together, we will be able to transform America into the nation that our Founding Fathers had envisioned for us: one that is--indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
FAMOUS LAWYERS - John Adams
USA Today, More and more Americans are dying by suicide, What are we missing? by Alia E. Dastagir, January 30, 2020
New Billion Dollar Toll Roads You May Be Paying For by Maureen Rupe
Now that Florida has very little taxes coming in and tolls are way down with less people driving, why is the state pushing forward to build three toll roads only the developers seem to want? I read an April 9th article in Florida Phoenix by Craig Pittman, titled “Does Florida still need that trio of billion-dollar toll roads?” It pointed out that that two of the toll roads are supposed to go through Lee County which just voted they don’t want the toll roads. Another down side is they all run through prime Panther habitat. Without help, Panthers will become extinct probably in our lifetime.
But the developers and legislators are using septic tanks and broadband internet jobs as reasons to build these toll roads. They say the sewers that will be built will get people off septic tanks. They also say since rural residents use more mail order, they need the toll roads for faster deliveries, and broadband can help rural areas that don’t have good internet now. The only way I see it is as a pyramid scheme. Right now, there’s no planned route for the roads. But the general idea is to extend Tampa’s Suncoast Parkway to the Georgia Border through Jefferson County, lengthen the Florida Turnpike west to connect with the Suncoast Parkway, and build the Heartland Parkway to run from Polk County down to Collier, near Naples. If more homes are built, it means more property taxes, more construction jobs, sewers for all the new homes (to spread out more bio-solids), and broadband will be installed because they have all these new homes. Florida Legislators have the ultimate pyramid scheme, and somehow, they make it legal.
They keep taxes low by getting rid of our environmental protection for air and water by paving over paradise. It is something like Brevard County did with the St. Johns Heritage Parkway. They said it was for hurricane evacuation, but it just opened up a lot of land for development, and now it is slated to have so many homes, it will never speed up hurricane evacuation except for the new homes along this new road. The St. Johns Heritage Parkway will probably cause a lot more evacuation issues as Highway 192 doesn’t have the capacity to handle all these cars.
We now have monthly Social Media Zoom Meetings scheduled for the third Saturday of each month-10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Expanding our Messages' reach through
According to The rise of social media article in the Our World in Data, social media has changed the world. Social media platforms are used by one-in-three people in the world, and more than two-thirds of all internet users. Facebook alone has 2.3 billion users, followed by YouTube (1.9 billion) and Instagram (1 billion). In the US, an average of 69% of social media users across all ages access Facebook. Among the younger crowds, Instagram is more popular and used by 67% of 18- to 29-year-olds (Pew Research Center).
That tells us that in order to have our message reach a large part of the population, local or otherwise, it is important for our League to have a good social media presence.
Social Media Virtual Meetings
If you are interested in social media, have questions about using the different channels and would like to help with the League's online presence, you are welcome to join us in our monthly virtual meetings.
From 10-11am on the third Saturday of each month, we will be having our Social Media Virtual Meeting for members interested in learning more about our social media channels and in getting involved with our group. Meetings will be done using the Zoom platform. To receive the Zoom connection information prior to our meetings, visit the League's online calendar of events and register for the LWVSC Social Media Virtual Meeting events of your choice.
If you have any questions, please email our Social Media Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
LWVSC July Zoom Meetings
- Tuesday, July 7th Board Meeting 5:30 to 7:30
- Thursday, July 9th Natural Resources Committee Meeting 10:30 to Noon
- Wednesday, July 15th Education Committee Meeting 10:00 to Noon
- Saturday, July 18th Monthly Social Media Group Meeting 10:00 to 11:00
- Monday, July 20th Social Justice Committee Meeting 6 pm to 8 pm
Please check our website calendar for additional events during the month of July 2020
ATTENTION: We're Having A Silent Auction
Who can remember the last time League members and guests gathered together in person? The answer is December, 2019, six long months ago. Since then we have “met” remotely via Zoom and phone conferencing to conduct the League’s business of promoting democracy through active engagement.
Isn’t it time we renew our friendships, raise some needed funds, declutter our homes, and have some fun, safe from the pandemic that continues to isolate us?
With your help, we believe a silent auction can accomplish all of the above. Spending so much time at home we have seen items which are no longer used, but still in good condition and useful to someone else. July 6th through the 29th, we ask that you email a description and photo of the items; set a starting price; and ask TWO of your non League member friends to participate as well. The items will be posted on Club Express for the bidding to begin, August 1st through the 14th. After the bidding process the FUN begins.
On August 15th, we will have a celebration, announce the highest bidders who will then pay directly to the League and receive the contact information to arrange pick-up with the donor.
Further rules and information are available on the LWVSC Club Express. Our goal is to raise $2000 to promote the League’s Mission of influencing public policy through education and advocacy. As always, working together, we can do it.
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
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