The Interrupters


I watched a documentary last night called The Interrupters. It follows a few members of a violence prevention organization in Chicago. What makes this organization, Ceasefire, special is that most, if not all (?) members are former gang members/drug dealers/street people. They have had the fortitude and drive to turn their lives around, and they are working in their former neighborhoods to prevent as much violence as they can.

Within the first ten minutes of the film, I had a box of tissues at my side. How can you not be moved while watching an 8-year-old cry in a classroom because she is scared by the shootings in her neighborhood? How can you not be moved by the deaths of children who were in the wrong place at the wrong time? How can you not be moved by a 17-year-old just released from prison for bank robbery, who goes to the business he robbed to apologize?

Children growing up in violent neighborhoods are caught in a vicious cycle of violence. It’s all they know. There is so much violence that they don’t know if they will live to see tomorrow. The members of Ceasefire are trying to prevent acts of violence by going out into the community and mediating conflict and spending time with young people who are heading down a bad path. It’s a dangerous and frustrating job, but if they save lives, it’s worth it.

This was an eye-opening, educational, and emotional film. If you rent it, have the tissues ready.

Peddocks Island


I volunteered on one of the Boston Harbor Islands today. I was excited to be going to Peddocks because I hadn’t been to that island before. Peddocks is interesting because there is a fort and a lot of historical buildings dating to the early 20th century. Some people also live on the island; they are called “cottagers.” They are descendants of a Portuguese fishing community (maybe settled in the early 20th century? I don’t remember.) On top of living on an island, the cottagers don’t have running water or electricity.

Almost all of the buildings are boarded up because they need to be renovated. There are yurts being built for the public to use for camping, and there also campsites being built or renovated. It is one of the biggest islands, so it will be a wonderful destination for campers in the future.

This is a chapel right by the dock. It’s not open to the public at the moment, but they hope to be able to have weddings there someday. What a great venue for a wedding!

Pink Ribbons, Inc.


Another day, another rant!

I saw Pink Ribbons, Inc. the other night. It’s a documentary about breast cancer and its “cause marketing” explosion. See this movie if you want to get freaked out and pissed off. The main points I took away from it are:

Corporations that jump on the bandwagon and make special “pink ribbon” products are not really raising much money for breast cancer research at all. Many of these corporations actually sell products that CAUSE cancer. They are called  “pinkwashers.”

Millions of dollars are being raised for breast cancer research, but independent research groups around the world are not really collaborating with each other = some research may be duplicated.

A very small percentage of research funding is allotted to prevention. Yes, finding new treatments is important. But how about spending a little more time and money to find the cause of cancer so deaths can be prevented??

Estee Lauder was mentioned throughout the film because of its pink ribbon fundraising. Pinkwasher! I have heard before that some cosmetics are toxic, but this drove the point home. You can look up cosmetic products at this site and see what hazard levels they fall under. I learned that the lotion I apply to my face daily is not too safe…

After watching the documentary, I was reminded of this website. Charity Navigator rates charities based on their transparency and financial health. As a donor to a few charities, I’ve found this site enlightening.

That’s all for now from heat wave central!

Reason to Be Childfree #4


I am childfree for quite a few reasons. One of them revolves around the fact that I think the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Yes, that may be an extreme view, and I am half joking when I say that. But I really don’t like where things are going with the environment, technology…and how these developments are affecting children. There are so many more ways for kids to bully each other these days; it’s appalling. And I think kids today are just nastier. I know I’m generalizing; there are plenty of great children out there (all of my friends’ kids, for example đŸ™‚ ).

Here is my reason for the above rant:

I was shocked to learn that a recent story from my hometown has gone international: A group of middle school boys tormented their bus monitor a few days ago. One of the boys videotaped it and posted the video to YouTube. The video has since gone viral. I only watched a few minutes of it and I could not believe my ears.

Just to refute my bleak claim about the world, 11,000 thoughtful people have donated money for Karen to go on a vacation. It would be nice if she could quit her job and never have to deal with nasty brats again!

If you can bear to watch it, here is the video.