“Like most people, my own family has a caregiving story. When my grandfather became ill and needed more support, my family didn’t have a plan for his care, and he ended up spending his last days in an isolating nursing home. The thought of it still haunts me. But my grandmother, who is still living and thriving at the age of 92, is able to live at home and be active in her community, in large part because she has the support of a devoted home care worker. She makes it possible for my grandmother to live on her own terms.
Their vastly different experiences inform my work to elevate caregiving. I began organizing with domestic workers in New York City in the 1990s, and saw how critical their work was to the families who employed them, caring for the most precious elements of their lives — their children, loved ones with disabilities, parents and grandparents, or their homes. Care work makes all other work possible. Yet in far too many cases, these women were undervalued and vulnerable to abuse. It’s a workforce that works hard and struggles to make ends meet. Their economic insecurity is not only a profound moral dilemma, it makes it hard for the families they support to be secure. People like my grandmother, and someday my parents and myself — we will all need a strong care workforce to live well as we age.”
~ Ai-jen Poo is executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the co-director of the Caring Across generations campaign.
Family Leave, Work-life Balance
“The United States remains one of the few countries on earth—along with Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and Tonga—with no national paid family leave policy, despite the fact that a majority of women and mothers work outside the home, that a majority of children are being raised in families where all parents work, and that an aging population is increasing caregiving demands on working age men and women.
With families under intensifying time pressure and stress, growing economic inequality, and widespread public support for paid family leave, more policymakers on the federal and state level and individual companies and organizations are grappling with how to craft paid family and medical leave policies that will support individuals and families, and work for businesses and the economy.
But how long should those leaves last? How much time is enough? And for whom?”
Dance, Arts in Small Communities
I recently read about this dance school/program in my hometown newspaper. I wish there had been a business like this in Tell City, Indiana, when I was a young girl. Small communities across the country should embrace arts programs. It is one way to revitalize them. Dance Haven looks like a success story. Congratulations, Heather Cross.
“Classes at Dance Haven started last August with three teachers and just the one classroom at their Main Street Studio. But word spread quickly, as Cross said “our phone was just blowing up,” and the second classroom was in service by October.
Cross said that when they opened shop they hoped to have about 75 participants, but “blew that out of the water” with about 115.
This fall, when classes get back into full swing, there will be six instructors on hand, guiding the footwork in everything from jazz to ballroom, and adding gymnastics and acro dance.
Cross went on to explain that the longstanding Main Event gymnastics program will shift into The Dance Haven studios, making it a “one stop shop” for such training.”
“There are no well-ordered, state-run refugee camps in Lebanon; everything is haphazard. The tent encampments are built on private land, placing the refugees at the mercy of landlords, and scattered at random across the eastern Bekaa Valley, making it difficult for humanitarian organizations to coordinate support. Many of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the country live in conditions like this. It is as if an entire nation deposited itself in an area where one would expect to find nothing but agricultural land or the odd farmer tending his sheep.
A cluster of buildings, the largest of which is perhaps the size of a small barn, sits on the edge of the tent camp surrounded by a chain-link fence. This is the Kayany Foundation’s Telyani School, where children 6 to 13 attend classes in subjects such as English, Arabic, and math. The outer walls are adorned with cardboard cutouts of pink, red, and blue flowers. “Welcome Spring” reads a rainbow-colored sign. Children line up excitedly each morning outside the classrooms, a cheery contrast with the drab life outside the school.”
“Today, only a few cities besides Aspen have achieved 100 percent renewable electricity or energy: Georgetown, Texas, Burlington, Vt., Greensburg, Kan., and Rockport, Mo. Kodiak Island, Alaska, is 99 percent renewable energy but uses small amounts of diesel as a back-up fuel source.
In Aspen, that's still a challenge.”