Disappointment and hope at the same time…

January 19, 2015

I attended the Dr. Martin Luther King Day March Down Main Street today in Milford, MIchigan. This was the 10th annual celebration of the King Holiday in Milford and I have to say that it was a disappointment on one level, but holds out great hope at MLK image over DOwntown MIlfordanother level. The disappointment is at the relatively low turnout and the obliviousness of the local population to this event. Several people stopped to ask what was going on when they saw the small crowd gathered in the Prospect Hill parking lot and when they saw the march kick off.  That is unfortunate testimony to the lack of press coverage in this area and the general lack of appreciation and understanding of the work that Dr. King did and the importance to every community of diversity and acceptance of that diversity.

The hope that I saw for the future was the in the faces of the youth in attendance. There are people who were not there so much to honor Dr. King; after all they were not even born when he was leading the fight; they were there because they believe in the message that he delivered and the causes that he worked for – diversity, peace and non-violence. For them, this day was about believing in concepts as much as celebrating the life of one of the champion’s of those concepts. These are young people who are still willing to get out and march for something and against the prejudice and discrimination that they can still see all around them. These are the young who are willing to say that the job is not yet done and who are willing to take the baton and continue the fight.

There was disappointment at those drivers who were annoyed and impatient that they were inconvenienced and slowed by marchers through the downtown area; but, there was hope in the fact that those who marched and carried signs and listened to the speakers get the message that Dr. King lived and died to deliver. The “I have a dream” speech that Dr. King delivered on the Washington Mall was played as the parade progressed and one couldn’t help but believe that many of these youth share that dream. Because of that the dream will not die. The work is unfinished, but the dream is not over. Tomorrow is the official Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, but for today the dream lives on in Milford and the Huron Valley.

Unfinished business…the MLK Day March down Main Street

January 18, 2015

Even though Monday is the official Martin Luther King, Jr, holiday, the organizers of the recognition event in the Huron Valley area have chosen today for the annual MLK March down Main Street. The marchers will begin gathering at the MLK image over DOwntown MIlfordProspect Hill Shopping Center at 516 Highland Ave., Milford, MI 48357. (where Kroger is located) beginning at 12:15. The march is scheduled to step off at 1 PM. The march will begin with a brief speech and National Anthem. 2015’s March on Main Street is from Prospect Hill to the Susan Haskew Art Center (SHAC) on S. Main Street (instead of to Central Park as in the past).

The Huron Valley Dr. Martin Luther King Day Committee is an all-volunteer group made up of adults and students in Huron Valley schools. The committee has added several ancillary events, such as a writing contest and an art contest to allow local students and residents to express what this day and the work that Dr. King did mean to them. The committee also has a web site – www.hvmlkday.org , which offers the following:

Reasons to March – Adapted from Raleigh, Carolina’s 26th consecutive year Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

  • You should march on the King Holiday if you understand and appreciate the sacrifice and contributions of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • You should march if you too have a vision and desire that one day the King Dream will become fulfilled.
  • You should march if you have benefited by the economic, educational and social remedy which resulted from King’s life.
  • You should march if you have a sense of obligation to help others understand, by your presence, that the King Holiday is important to the Triangle, North Carolina and America (Ed. – Add here that it is important to the Huron Valley area, too).
  • You should march if you acknowledge that the King Memorial March is not a protest march, but rather, an assembly of citizens, from across racial & denominational lines, in a confirmation of solidarity with others who recognize the challenges still facing society.
  • You should march if you wish to set a positive example for young people, of all creeds and races, by participating in a civic event which helps reinforce your values of economic justice, peace and respect for all cultures.
  • You should especially march if you’ve never marched before.
  • You should march if you know…..deep down inside…. that you could/should do more to help inspire and provide a sense of aspiration for our youth.
  • You too should march on the King Holiday if you and your family, civic or church group come to grips with the realization that it is not “uncool” to show support publicly for a message which is still shaping the moral fabric and future of our nation.
  • You should march on the King Holiday because it is an appropriate and honorable response to today’s realities and opportunities.

I would add to the list that you should march because this represents unfinished business about diversity that we still need to work on. I’ll see you there!

Get ready to vote…

January 17, 2015

The polls open at 8 AM Monday morning, Jan 19, for voting on the grants that the Huron Valley History Initiative is vying for against four other communities. Voting continues until 5 PM on Jan 25th. As they like to say in Chicago politics “vote early and vote often”, only in this case it is perfectly OK to vote and many times as you wish.

There will be multiple ways to vote. One way is by clicking on the graphic below, which will take you to the Clarke History Library web site and the voting station that they have set up.

vote graphic

The second way to vote on-line is to post a Tweet or to Re-Tween a post that has the hashtag #DigMilford in it. That’s our unique hashtag for this competition. I’ll be posting a tweet Monday morning with a link to another blog post about this contest and with the hashtag embedded; so, you could just Re-Tweet that post.

postcardThe third way to vote is to send a postcard in to the Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI  48859. Postcards don’t necessarily have to come from within Michigan, but they do need to have a Michigan theme or picture on them and they should also have the hashtag #DigMilford written on them somewhere.  If you can’t find a Michigan-themed postcard, get a blank one and draw a left handed mitten on it and label it “Michigan”. That should work. Postcards count as 100 votes, so we’d love to get lots of them sent to Clarke Library.

As I’ve mentioned here before, the Huron Valley History Initiative is made up of about 8-9 museums, libraries and historical societies and groups. The goal is this group is to digitize and make available on–line the various collections of historic memorabilia that the historical societies and museums have collected. The project that will kick this off is the conversion of the microfilm libraries that the Milford Historical Museum and the Milford Library have of back issues of the Milford Times weekly newspaper. Those back issues go back to the beginning of the paper in 1871. The Clarke Library grant that we are vying for will facilitate that conversion from microfilm into a digital format and allow the indexing of the issues to create a searchable database.

Look for my kick-off post on Monday, but get ready to vote next week. Dig through your old boxes of pictures and stuff to see if you have an old postcard off something from Michigan that you could send; otherwise stand by to Tweet. Have a great weekend.

Not counting the money…

January 15, 2015

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this post – “Without money we’d all be rich.”  (Unknown)  Squirrel pelts once served as money in Finland; copper crosses in the Congo; cheese in Italy; knives in China.  Workers in Greece were sometimes paid in salt.  The word, salary, comes from that. 

money paidMoney was invented s a convenience for all. After all, how many squirrel pelts or punds of salt can we stuff into our wallets? In the beginning money was used only as a means of facilitating the exchange for goods, not as a scorecard. These days with the advent of the credit card and now electronic ways to pay for things money has become almost more a concept than a physical thing. The ultimate conceptualization of money is the BitCoin, which really has no physical manifestation at all. One seldom gets to see reallymoney tumbling down big amounts of physical money; although, if you watch poker on TV at the end of every big tournament they have lovely ladies dump the grand prize money on the table in front of the final two contestants. – it’s quite impressive if the prize is over $1 Million.

Money is used more and more these days as a scorecard of success in life – how much you have demonstrates how successful and important you supposedly are. That has been true for quite some time, going back to the invention of the word Millionaire to describe someone with lots and lots of money. These days a Millionaire might be considered to be a piker in the Billionaires club. Once the numbers get that high it is impossible for most “normal’ to really grasp that amount of money. Of course, unless they pour it in the casket with him, no Millionaire has yet taken it with him when he dies.

Back to the little saying for the day; what would we have that would make us all rich without money as a scorecard of things? People without money often look around them and observe the riches of the land, the wonder of the birds in the air, the fish in the seas and natures abundance in the forests. These are usually people who are so far removed from “civilized societies” that they have yet to be corrupted by the concept of money. It cave manis easy to imagine that one could feel “rich” if one lived I an environment that supplied all that was needed to live close at hand, like the cave man. Hungry? Go pick that fruit over there or catch that fish out in the water. Need clothes? Use that animal skin or weave cloth from the fibers of that plant over there. That is a simple, subsistence way of life that thankfully we have moved beyond. As we did we also lost most of the ability to see the riches that are all around us. Perhaps that s part of what the saying for today is alluding to.

But, living a rich life means more than just taking care of one’s basic needs to survive; it means having one’s health and it means having meaningful and rewarding relationships with others. It means appreciating what you have and not coveting what someone else has. It means finding joy in the simple pleasure of peaceful moments alone and great happiness in those moments shared with others. It means stopping to smell the roses and to appreciate all of those things around you that add shape and color, or smells or tastes or sounds to your environment and make it vibrant and interesting. Mpuppyoney can’t buy the feelings that you get laying on your back in the grass on a warm day and starting up at the clouds as they float by. Money can’t buy the wonderful smell of puppy breath from your new puppy or the soft touch of the skin of a new-born baby in its mother’s arms.  Those are riches that have nothing to do with money.

So, take some time to think about and appreciate all of the things around you and in your life that money can’t buy – the things that Nature supplies and the loving relationships of which you are a part. Once you do, you will have identified the most valuable things in our life. We are all rich indeed, if we just know how to look at our lives and we don’t need money for that.

It’s Wednesday – What day is this for you?

January 14, 2015

There’s an ad running on TV right now about people yelling, “Hey Camel, what day is it?” at camels at the zoo, much to the consternation of the camels whocamel have heard the hump day line way too often.  For too many of us Wednesday is “hump day”, meaning we have made it over the hump and more than half way through another dreary week. For those people the thought is, “Thank God, only two more days to endure until the weekend.” For them the glass is now more than half empty. These are usually people with a relatively pessimistic outlook on life.

For people who live their lives with a positive mental attitude, Wednesday isn’t hump day and they are thinking, “Thank God, I have two more days left this week to get things done and make a difference.” What kind of difference? Maybe it’s just finding another opportunity to greet someone with a smile and a cheery hello. Maybe there really is something that they can do for someone else that will make that person’s life easier or happier. Maybe it’s just their own lives that they are changing and they can use the next two days to make progress on those changes – maybe two more trips to the gym or attending two more classes or getting two more chances to continue reading the book that they bought. For these people the glass is half full and each day is greeted as an opportunity, not as something that one must get through somehow.

The most recent issue of Bloomberg Business Week opens with an article on the impact of the power of positive thinking on the economy. The article sites studies and concludes that positive thinkers get ahead more, get elected to office more, live longer  and are way happier than people who are pessimists. Being a business oriented publication they even go into some of the positive business aspects of positive thinking, linking it to entrepreneurship and business success. There were even statistics at the macro level for entire nations that showed that the more happy and upbeat the population is the better the nation does in the competitive international economy.

So, which type person are you? Is today hump day and you’re resigned to having to slough through two more days at work before you get to have any fun on the weekend or do you see two more days of possibilities ahead of the weekend. And what about those weekends? Do the pluggers for whom Wednesday is hump day really enjoy those two weekend days the way that they think they will or do they turn out to be disappointing and wasted time, too? Many of them spend their time sitting in front of the TV watching sports shows and drinking beer; while the upbeat people are out playing sports or doing things with friends and family?

The good news is that you don’t have to be stuck in the pessimists’ rut. Short of a miraculous and spontaneous conversion to optimism, there are lots of things you can do turn your outlook on life around and start enjoying it more. You can start by changing what you initially look for in any situation. Rather than looking for the dangers or risks or downside to whatever you are contemplating, try looking for the positive results that will come about when everything goes right and then go make that happen. Don’t wait to say, “thank you”, to someone else for doing something kind for you; rather, pay it forward and do something kind for someone else, then you’ll be the one saying, “you’re welcome”, and it will make you feel great. Make this Wednesday the day that you get over the hump of pessimism and on your way to a better more positive life.

camel faceHey camel, what day is it? The camel replies – “The first day of the best of your life.”

Voting for Huron Valley history…

January 13, 2015

I’ve mentioned this here before and your will see it again before next Monday. I’m the President of the Board of the Milford Historical Society (MHS). We run a small museum in Milford that is open 8 months of the year. The Milford Historical Museum, like many small town museums across America focuses upon local history, in our case the history of the area surrounding Milford – The Huron Valley area. The museum houses memorabilia of various sorts that have been contributed by local residents. It also houses a unique collection of microfilmed copies of the local weekly paper – The Milford Times – going back to its beginning in 1871. The Milford Times like many small town weekly papers, is a great source for historical material on the life and times of Milford and the surrounding area. The ads alone would make a great graduate degree study in the changing tastes of mid-America.

microfilm readerWhen this archive was conceived and created back in the 1970’s the most logical medium to use was microfilm, which is what it is recorded upon to this day. Microfilm has a very long life, but the technology has been supplanted by newer, faster and certainly more useful technologies. The microfilm library that we have is not indexed (other than by start and stop dates on the film reels) and cannot be searched. It is a tedious process to find a specific issue and an impossible task to find all mentions of a specific subject. We hope to change that and make the files searchable, while at the same time moving to a newer technology that will last long into the future.

Our Museum and the Milford Historical Society has joined forces with the Milford Library, the Highland Township Library, the White Lake Township Library, the Commerce Township Library and Historical Societies from Highland, White Lake (and Fisk Farm), and Commerce Township (and Byers Farm) in a project that has been named the Huron Valley History Initiative. This group has joined together to facilitate the project to convert the copies of the Milford times that exist on microfilm in the Milford Historical Museum and at the Milford Library into a searchable database that will be house on a server that will be accessible to the group members. The resulting database will be indexed and searchable. The groups have also committed to the digitization and addition of other of their records and memorabilia, such as old photos, cemetery records, tax records and such. Once done the resulting database will allow a very rich search environment for historians and genealogy researchers.

The tasks that must be completed to realize the vision of having all of this history on line are formidable, but they start with getting the current microfilm library scanned in and converted to digital format. To that end, the group has applied for a grant from the Clarke Library, which is associated with Central Michigan University. Clarke accepts annual grant requests for history-oriented projects from around the state of Michigan and then chooses one request to fund. The choice involves letting the communities that will be impacted by the grant work vote on the importance to the community of the proposed work. The Huron Valley History Initiative is one of the five finalists for this year’s Clarke Library grant. The voting is done within a one week window, from Jan 19 until Jan 25.

vote graphicBeginning Jan 19, members of the community (or anyone for that matter)  may “vote” for the project of their choice by using Twitter to post a Tweet with a unique hashtag (in our case the hashtag is #DigMilford) or they may send in a post card with some Michigan theme or content (a picture of something in Michigan) addressed to Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Clemens, MI  48859. The postcard should contain the hashtag DigMilford on it to identify it as a vote for our project. You can click here to view the poster that we’ve created and which will be in store window in Milford and in the libraries mentioned. The Huron Valley History Initiative has also created a Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/huronvalleyhistory ,which you can visit for more information. The Clarke Library also has a web page that will allow you to vote, just remember that our hashtag is #DigMilford.

I encourage all of my readers to Tweet or re-Tweet during the voting window using the hashtag #DigMilford. Admittedly, this is a “cause” that doesn’t pull at the heartstrings like most of the health and welfare causes that we are all bombarded with all of the time. The needs in those areas are great all around the world and I encourage you to do what you can for them and give what you can. In this case, we aren’t asking you for any money, just a few moments to Tweet or re-Tweet something with the hashtag #DigMilford to support our project. Of course, if you do happen to have a Michigan-themed postcard and want to send it in to vote for us, that would be great. Postcards count as 100 votes, so that counts as a lot of Tweeting. Send your cards to – Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Clemens, MI  48859. For my international followers, perhaps a postcard from your country to the library with something historic in your area would be counted – just make sure to put the hashtag #DigMilford on it.

I’ll post a reminder on Monday, Jan 19 when the polls open. Thanks for your support.


January 11, 2015

One of the most overused words during the last holiday season (and actually all the time) was the word Believe. Put that word next to a sports team logo and you have an ad for the fans. Put it next to a picture of Santa Claus and it becomes a Christmas message and put it under a picture of two people and a baby standing in a stable with a star shining above and it becomes a religious message.  It is abelieve favorite of motivational speakers everywhere. Believe in the product. Believe in the program. Believe in the company. Believe in yourself! There’s even a popular T-shirt with “I believe” on it.

What does it mean to believe? According to the dictionary to believe is to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.  Certainly, most those who run around all year with “Believe” T-shirts (or sweatshirts if one lives in the North) on for their favorite sports team believed in their team. Some still do and think that they got robbed of the chance to go all the way to whatever final playoff game or context exists for that sport. We all go through a time in our young lives where we believe in Santa Claus, some more than others out of hope in their desperate situations as much as belief.

thinking womanWe all, at some time or another, also need to take stock in what we believe in the religious sense. I have a hard time fathoming how those who claim to have no religious beliefs at all reconcile the inevitable end of life. They may state that what they believe is that when you die, that’s it, that’s the end, there is nothing else. Wow, talk about a dead-end belief (pun intended). Having no religious beliefs at all also leaves big questions unanswered – the How and Why type questions about life.

The concept of religions almost seems to be an innate human characteristic, something that is inevitable as human beings everywhere and anywhere cope with trying to understand the world that they live in. While I don’t have time here to go into a deep dive on that thought, I will someday. What I would present temporarily, as proof of that statement, is the spontaneous and autonomous rise of world religious symbolsreligious beliefs and the creation of rather complex religious ideologies that grew up around the world within totally isolated groups of humans.

When the first explorers arrived to the New World in North America they found a native population that had developed a complete religion around the concept of The Great Spirit – maker and keeper of all things in nature. To the south the Spanish and Portuguese explorers found very complex and ritual-oriented religious worship of the Sun god (note, not the Son) in place. Obviously those religions grew out of a common need of man to explain things beyond his comprehension and control. Other religions in other parts of the world sprang out of the same need, some creating elaborate hierarchies of deities, but all aimed at the same end – to provide an explanation for what man could not understand or explain himself. Most of these praying in different religionsreligions also had provisions for the concept of a soul or spirit within man and some form of existence after earthly death or even rebirth. People involved with all of these “religions” believed; because to not believe leaves one with nothing – no explanations, no sense of underlying order and no afterlife.

What things do you hold to be true, even though you cannot prove that to be so? It’s OK to have beliefs and even to share them with others.  Joining other people with similar beliefs in organized worship is both a reinforcement of your beliefs and comforting.  We all need to believe in something, because the alternative is unfathomable and frightening.  Every week in my church service we recite a creed that states our beliefs. It starts, “I believe in…”

So, what do you believe in?