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Global IMC Network

Fear Mongering on Police Modernization

November 1, 2015 by pegjohnston

It’s election season so no one should be surprised that partisans are throwing fear of crime into the mix.  The Police Modernization Bill, initiated by the Binghamton Human Rights Commission, would codify documentation of police encounters by ethnicity, would create training in cultural sensitivity, and encourage for diversification of the police force. It is similar to legislation in other cities where the relationship between police and minorities has created inequities. Even top cop YC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has favored the esentials called for in this legislation.

The police union opposed the bill and spread disinformation that police will no longer be able to respond to information provided by the victim of a crime and will no longer be able to present suspects to crime victims for identification.  According to Sean Massey of the Human Rights Commission, “These statements are completely false and this memo appears to be an unfortunate scare tactic intended to shift public support away from passage of the law.”

Support for the police is the third rail of GOP politics and also a handy bludger to scare the electorate.  An eleventh hour mailing by Joe Mihalko illustrates this perfectly, calling supporters of the bill “special interests” even though it has enjoyed widespread community support. “Bad policy”, “handcuffing the police” are other phrases employed to scare people.

Massey and Democratic council people have acknowledged that the bill may need tweaking to be sure that it doesn’t hamper police, but the opportunity for fear mongering was too convenient.

Sadly, fear mongering has had great success nationally and locally. The best way to prove that it doesn’t work is to not be frightened of legislation that hasn’t even been written.

Recycling Opportunities: What do we need to know?

October 27, 2015 by imc-editor

Throughout every community, in the US and the world, there are individuals, commercial enterprises and industries that service segments of the many recycling activities. These segments are called niches.

With 7.2 billion people on the world there are tens of millions of people actively involved in some aspect of recycling. Those willing and able to actually perform recycling services come in many guises. They are scavengers, finding value in items put out on curbs or tossed in garbage bins. They are independent garbage haulers, cherry picking worthwhile items their clients toss away or providing recycling services for individuals, commercial enterprises or industries who want to save money disposing of unwanted materials.

They can also be people who work for municipalities or counties providing garbage or recycling services, picking up garbage and recyclables transporting them to landfills or transfer stations, where the easy stuff is collected into separate piles, to be transported to scrap dealers or intermediate processors.

Scrap dealers come in all sizes, from the little guy who handlers $100,000 or so a year to multi billion dollar operations like Weitsman who is buying up scrap yards all over the east Coast. Scrap dealers sell to intermediate processors or refineries who separate materials into higher value and more pure categories.

Metals are ferrous and non ferrous. Non ferrous are aluminum, brass, copper and many other types; these are sold as “clean” and “contaminated.” The same is true of other materials, primarily plastics and glass, which have markets although glass is more limited.  There are many materials that could be recycled if they were separated into more homogeneous, cost effective piles that industry could use and if primary materials suppliers could depend on a continuous supply.

“That's what I hope to do in this area,” says Les Platt. “Identify and put in place mechanisms that will give the general public a vested interest in accumulating cost effective lots of recycled materials.”

There are currently many pieces already in place. Individuals, organization's and churches have rummage, lawn and garage sales. Many non profit and profit making operations have thrift or second hand stores. Used equipment and vehicle enterprises are prevalent in every community. Clothing collection often involves donation bins; some of these pay clubs, groups and organizations to help promote them.

It's easy to see from all this the many jobs, occupations, careers, business opportunities, and industries currently involved with recycling enterprises. Less obvious are the obstacles to more effective recycling.

It's human nature to take the easy road. So it's no surprise that that's what happens with recycling. From the scavenger on up the chain the more visible, profitable, easy stuff is recycled.

Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle are buzzwords that encompass everything from battleships to paperclips, and yet we need a rhetoric that average people can  relate to.

In general, nearly everything is made of materials that can be reused. In reality most products are made of a variety of materials in too small quantities to be cost effectively recycled. Broad categories are excess production, overstock, used products, ferrous and non ferrous metal, plastics, glass, wood, and composite materials. These, in turn, break down to undamaged or damaged goods, clean or dirty materials, mixed or pure materials. Most of these have market values that reflect their usefulness or value.  With the exception of finished goods these values are some percentage of  virgin materials. Virgin materials are those materials supplied directly from the mines, refineries, lumber and textile mills, petrochemical producers or composite manufacturers.

“We need to set up a system that highlights the opportunities and helps interested individuals perform the services necessary to optimize recycling. To do that we need to understand the processes and economics involved, which is why I am calling for students and community members to create study groups to understand the economics of recycling,” states Les Platt.

Les and others are planning a meeting to discuss a Recycling Study Group. Watch this space for details.

Beyond Recycling

October 21, 2015 by pegjohnston

Local resident Les Platt, who has extensive experience promoting  recycling and creating opportunities for re-use, is working with BU students to explore new possibilities for the Southern Tier and solve the unequal marketing problems for recycled materials and used products.  According to Platt, “The overall goal here is to get as many people as possible studying different aspects of recycling, the obstacles to them, and possible solutions. The ultimate goal is to create realistic cost effective jobs at all levels, from basic labor through management. In the process we will become acquainted with the hundreds of business and professional opportunities available.”

Recycling is, for the most part, very popular with the general public. The more convenient a project is the more cooperative people will be. However, municipal recycling projects are usually not very cost effective for a variety of reasons. Prices of selling recycled materials is variable due to global demands. The recycling infrastructure is inadequate for a variety of practical competitive reasons. Study groups need to understand these dynamics and find productive cost effective ways of addressing them.

For instance, there are many non-profit institutions who collect clothes, household goods and furniture as a source of income to help pay for their good works. What most people don't know is that a percentage of these donated materials go to landfills because the non-profit does not have markets for all of them or because they need repairs that the institution is not set up to deal with.

Most people are also unaware that there is a national and international multi billion dollar infrastructure set up to handle these goods and their constituent materials. One aspect of recycling that is seldom mentioned is that recycled materials displace demand for virgin materials.  Therefore there is a vested interest with virgin materials producers to resist using recycled materials. Recycled materials are underpriced in most cases.

By involving both students and community members, Platt says, “I believe we can do all this by studying recycling processes, materials systems, how their accumulated, and utilized. I believe we can create incentives for these studies by setting up recycling projects or interfacing with existing ones.  I also believe we can give the general public a vested interest in our activities by using fundraising mechanisms to accumulate recycled materials and create a labor force of at risk youth, ex offenders, and other marginalized people. We can adapt whatever incentives we discover to their needs and improve their chances in life.”

If you are interested in being part of this study effort, contact Les Platt at platt21@ hotmail.com or watch this space for events.

Photo: "Plastic is Forever" water fall made from plastic water bottles byt Peg Johnston and Shawna Stevenson.

 

Public Art Encourages Voting

October 18, 2015 by imc-editor

The Dept. of Public Art is using art and scraps of wood to remind people to vote Tues. Nov. 3rd. "We encourage civic engagement in our public art, so this is a natural extension to remind people of their civic duty," said Peg Johnston, one of the organizers of the volunteer group. The odd shaped pieces of wood, left over from Mural Fest 2015, were brightly painted and the words Vote Nov. 3rd inscribed. The DPA intends to use the signs on social media and as lawn signs, or wherever people want to display them. Anyone wishing to post one --or paint more-- please contact the DPA at binghamtonbridge@gmail.com.

A public art group in Philadelphia paired art with voting in their "Next Stop: Democracy" project. They recruited 60 artists to create vibrant signs to mark polling stations, and to engage citizens in the voting process.

Their statement:  "Can public art increase voter engagement? This is a question that hasn’t been answered, so we’re getting Philadelphia’s best creatives together to help us find out. Election Day should be one of the most exciting days of the year, but to many people, it seems like a chore. Finding your polling place, finding the entrance, and waiting in line can be complicated and frustrating. Plus, the signage required by the city to identify a polling place is nothing more than a few pieces of paper taped up on the wall outside the door. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you wouldn’t give it a second glance. It doesn’t have to be this way! What if we could transform Election Day from something frustrating into something fun? Our idea is simple. Election Day should be an experience. Instead of boring, confusing signs, let’s use bright, vibrant artwork to identify our polling places. Can artists and performers make Election Day in Philadelphia a little more colorful? We vote yes!"

Less than 50% of voters turn out for elections, even in years where there is a Presidential race. On so called "off election cycles" the turnout is often even less, yet, local elections may affect individuals on many more levels.

Futuristic View of Binghamton's Downtown

October 14, 2015 by imc-editor

Air and Water: Clark and Thomson

October 10, 2015 by pegjohnston

Otter Creek by Aubrey Clark

This First Friday the Cooperative Gallery 213 will open an exhibit by Aubrey Clark and John Thomson titled: Air and Water. The exhibit, which will run from Nov. 6th to Nov. 28th  includes oil paintings, monotypes, and solar etchings by Aubrey and small sculptures by John. A reception, open to the public, will be held at the gallery on First Friday, November 6, from 6-9 pm.  The artists hope to lead a lively discussion on Third Thursday, November 19 at 7 pm about the challenges artists experience to create their work.

“My work in this exhibition was inspired by visits to Vermont, giving me time to see the movement and changes in the landscape, in particular Otter Creek,” said Aubrey Clark about her work. “I have continued to reflect on these experiences, to appreciate the visual ambiguity in nature, between earth and sky for instance. The work is elemental, moving past a single object or moment, suspending time.”

John Thomson talks about his art work, “I’ve had a lifelong intense interest in design, drawing, and structure, probably the result of designing and building hundreds of model airplanes and ships as a kid, and sailboats as an adult. I’ve been teaching design and drawing for forty years at Binghamton University. Recently I’ve been doing drawings and small sculpture expressing a lifelong interest in the natural world and more recently, digital imaging.”

The Cooperative Gallery, a popular stop on the First Friday Art Walk, located at 213 State Street in Binghamton, is open on Frist Friday 3- 9 pm and regularly Fridays from 3-6 and Saturdays from 12- 4 pm. Find us on Facebook at Cooperative Gallery 213 and sign up for our weekly e-newsletter on our website at  www.cooperativegallery.com or on our Facebook page.

 

 

Vote Smart New Tool for Democracy

October 1, 2015 by imc-editor

We have all had the thought that if people voted on the issues that are important to them, instead of gotcha games and bought elections, our democracy would be a lot stronger. Well, that reality is a little closer with Vote Smart a non partisan resources listing all federal and state candidates with their complete records in an easy to access database. It was completed by thousands of volunteers who combed records for every vote, position, speech, article, etc of every candidate. Amazing! Check it out:

Ignore the self-serving nonsense of this year's Presidential candidates with our awesome new interactive tool allowing citizens to find their perfect presidential match.
http://votesmart.org/voteeasy/
 
Simply state your position on an issue and watch to see which candidates agree with you. If you question the accuracy of their positions, just click on the candidates' yard signs and get into their factual record.
 
VoteEasy enables voters to do side-by-side comparisons of current presidential candidates on 13 national issues -- and then compare the politicians' stances with their own.
 
"Hundreds of students from across the nation have created this exciting tool that cuts to the facts, the truth, the reality of what these people are likely to do for you or to you if elected president" said Jamieson Bates, Vote Smart's National Director.
                                             -----------------------------------------
Vote Smart (formerly known as Project Vote Smart), founded by Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, is powered by more than 8,000 students and volunteers of both major parties, third parties and independents. It is the nation's premier non-partisan, citizen-driven organization devoted to voter education.

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