Category Archives: Make a Difference

Projects that are making a difference, improving lives, and building communities.

Faith and Humanity – ADR TRENDS 2019

Our humanity requires renewal given the divisiveness of our culture, boosted by the anonymity of online social networks. Powerful inspiration for reminding us of our spiritual mission towards our fellow human beings, and our inner strength to commit to that mission, come from our religious leaders and traditions.

“As we welcome a New Year many people follow the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. Others ponder what they would like to see happen to make the world a better place. In the movie ‘Miss Congeniality’ each contestant in the beauty pageant (or scholarship program) when asked what they want, all answer ‘World Peace’. I would agree with them, but how to go about it?

All major religions have the injunction, expressed in one way or another, to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This sentiment can be agreed upon by all people of goodwill. I pray that as more people take seriously in their daily lives this simple injunction, we will begin to experience a more peaceful and sane world.”

~ Monsignor Al Humbrecht, Knoxville TN Catholic Diocese, Soddy Daisy Holy Spirit Catholic Church

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Turning to the New Year – by Paul Raushenbush

The turning of a new year is as good of a time as any to be thankful, to kick up and dig in your heels, to celebrate freedom, to remember the ongoing struggle, to laugh and dance and get high in whatever way feels right and joyful to you and to love, love, love.

It is a good time to mourn as we lost many beloved people this year, some close to us, many more who were close to those whom we know not, yet we grieve all those who died from hunger, war, or hate. We take time to recognize our loss, and recommit ourselves to life, and to live so that those who are gone might live on with us.

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Freedom and Feudalism in the U.S. – by Debasish Majumdar

I just love the U.S. I have no desire to visit there, but I am thrilled by their homeland history where feudalism was eclipsed by the  American struggle for independence, where from slavery there was an elevation, to a capitalist economy which paved the way to become an epitome of Justice, Liberty and Fraternity.

But, of late, the essence of feudal vices being emanated from their very core of social life is a grave concern for all who love freedom and liberty. I am worried that it may lose their pristine essence of the land of liberty, for which many aspire to embark upon.

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Pandora’s Box of Hate – by Deborah Levine

Editor’s note: this article on anti-Semitism was originally published as an op-ed in The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Russian President Putin got my attention when he suggested that Jews with Russian citizenship might have interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. “Maybe they’re not even Russians,” said Putin. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship – even that needs to be checked.” Putin reminded me why my great grandparents made the harrowing journey from Russia and the Ukraine to the United States. My ancestors weren’t the only ones. Between 1881 and 1924, over 2.5 million East European Jews sought to escape the relentless persecution and ghettoization. The slice of history was captured in the movie Fiddler on the Roof, but while Hollywood entertained, it didn’t fully show the history of anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe, or its ongoing ripple effect.

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First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” – by Terry Howard

She knew full well that a lot of my waking hours are spent reading, writing, listening and reminiscing. Knowing that – and, I suspect, on a hunch – she picked up an extra copy of former first lady Michelle Obama’s soon to be best-selling memoir, Becoming.

The “she” I’m referring to here is “Shree,” a regular among our daily conversation crew at a local coffee shop.

Now on this particular Sunday morning, I was halfway through Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts’ excellent review of Becoming when Shree walked in and plopped Michelle’s book down in front of me. She saw the look of jubilation on my face and, Shree being Shree, refused my command to pay for the book and left in a hurry.

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Dismantling Images of Slavery: Interview with Ken Venable – by Terry Howard

Recently I sat down with Ken Venable inside a coffee shop in Staunton, Virginia, a city recently made famous when the school board – with Venable a member – voted to remove the name of the confederate general Robert E. Lee from the one high school in town.
Now it’s important to cast our conversation against an uncomfortable reminder; that being the complexity of race in small southern towns like Staunton where the specter of race remains ever lurking beneath the distinctive charm of many such towns. Strong feelings on both sides of the contentious debate – “Save the name” versus “The name still hurts” – about the image of Robert E. Lee is a contemporary example.

Here’s our conversation:
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Disability Awareness: Five Questions for EEOC – by David B. Grinberg

In case you missed it, October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). However, you may not have noticed due to several other monthly observances nationwide. NDEAM is sponsored annually in October by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, which says the observance dates back to 1945.

Did you know? The employment population ratio for people without disabilities (65.7%) was more than triple that of people with disabilities (18.7%) in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Get Back Out There & Vote! – By Terry Howard

Outside his immediate circle of family and friends, chances are that not too many will recognize the name “Bernard Strong.” But that will soon change because he’s working on a book, a collection of his life stories. Now unlike a growing number of those patiently waiting for his book (with credit cards in hand) a combination of the timing of next week’s midterm elections and his latest story forced my hand.

Here’s that story.

“21” was my jersey number. I chose that number because some said I had a running style like Mike Garrett of the Kansas City Chiefs. Unlike Garrett however, my football career ended shortly after the Lindblom Tech Class of ’71 march across the stage in caps and gowns.
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The Great Flood – by Lydia Taylor

In the early morning of October 16, 2018, I was awakened by the muffled voices of my parents who were scurrying around their home.  I could hear them speaking but did not know what they were talking about. Besides, I was interested in getting a bit more sleep.  At approximately 7:00am one of them appeared in the doorway.  She told me what time it was and that we were evacuating.  Initially I thought, is it that serious?  Nevertheless, I immediately got out of bed and put on some jeans and tennis shoes, grabbed my Vera Bradley duffle and put a few toiletries into the matching cosmetics bag.  I was visiting, so my bags were readily available.  It took very little time and we were out the door and into the driving rain.

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