New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Ending Violence

March 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Continuing the Status Quo Is Not Acceptable

by Robert C. Koehler

“The status quo in Chicago is no longer tolerable,” Andy Willis said, summoning the violent headlines of the past year and the past week.

This was Palm Sunday, in a church basement in a big-city neighborhood, and the time had come to stand for something enormous. My God, a six-month-old baby, Jonylah Watkins, was shot and killed this month in Chicago, as her father held her on his lap while sitting in a parked van. That was just the latest shocker. Violence is the norm, in this city and so many others. The death of children is the norm.

“We can’t live with a status quo like that,” Willis said. “We know things are breaking down . . .” (more…)

Closing Cages

March 15, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Victoria Law

People Power Helps Stop Youth Incarceration

by Victoria Law

While Illinois is closing two youth prisons as a cost-cutting measure, other states are not. Washington State’s King County recently passed a $210 million renovation and expansion of its youth jail. Undeterred, activists work to halt the jail. In Baltimore, organizing against a youth jail proves that popular disapproval can derail supposedly done deals.

With the number of youth behind bars at an all-time low — dropping 41 percent from 107,000 in 1995 to under 71,000 in 2010 — are more youth jails really necessary? Research has shown that community-based programs that keep youth connected to their families are more likely to succeed than jails or prisons. So when Dede Adhanom learned that King County was proposing to renovate and expand its current youth jail in Seattle’s Central District, she was outraged.

On April 5, 2012, King County Council members held a public meeting at Seattle University to introduce Proposition 1, a $210 million tax levy to renovate the dilapidated King County Youth Services Center to include a youth detention center with 154 dorms as well as ten family courtrooms. “It was at 1 PM. A lot of people can’t make 1 PM meetings unless they work at a job that pays them to be there,” Adhanom noted. Undeterred, she and several others attended. “We shouted them out of there. That they’re having the public meeting at 1 PM shows their intentions.” (more…)

Life Story

March 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

A Woman Struggles with Poverty, Race, and Education in America

by Pat LaMarche

I had lunch this week with a woman who was homeless for a number of years. She’s in Section 8 housing now with a slumlord who doesn’t fix what breaks and has ignored the cockroaches that move from rental unit to rental unit easier than a breeze on a cool night. No surprise there, as breezes don’t have legs and the ability to seek out moisture and food.

She’s found two prospective places and hopes to move, but the federal housing inspectors haven’t given her the okay yet, so she struggles to tolerate her home. She reached out to me because she’s in a bit of trouble and she needs some help. (more…)

Homeless Students

February 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

EPIC Journey Does ‘Reality Check’ with Next Generation of Teachers

by Pat LaMarche

{Editor’s Note: NCV Contributor Pat LaMarche is on a journey to explore homelessness and poverty in the U.S. NCV will post updates from her travels…}

Austin, Texas (home of the University of Texas) gave us the opportunity to speak to scores of social work students about the rapidly rising number of folks with nowhere to live. Our visit early in the week to New Mexico State University likewise gave us an opportunity to discuss two-on-seven with a handful of education doctoral candidates, the world in which they’ll be teaching.

It’s not that every one of the students in either school was hell bent on working with the homeless. But with the number of homeless school children in the nation at more than a million (according to the U.S. Department of Education) and poverty on the rise, if these scholars want to work in the United States, they’re going to be working with the homeless. (more…)

Incubator for Peace

February 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Gaining a Foothold in the Forgotten Neighborhoods…

by Robert C. Koehler

You’re young and prone to trouble. You get triggered quickly. Someone tells you that you’ve screwed up and you’re about to lash back. Then, instead, you think:

Restorative Justice1. Look at the other person.

2. Say “OK.”

3. Stay calm.

This is what you do. And nothing happens, except that the moment passes and life goes on. Got it?

This column is another dispatch from Chicago, murder capital of America. How many of the murders — 506 of them last year — were committed by people who had no grasp of this particular social skill (accepting criticism or a consequence), or any of the dozen or so others tacked to the bulletin board in the peace room at Fenger High School? (more…)

Save the Children

December 15, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Family, Randall Amster

Sadness and Hope from the Connecticut Tragedy

by Randall Amster

My eyes filled with tears as I heard the news of the mass shooting in Connecticut, where most of those killed were elementary school children. As a parent with children of similar ages, I can only nullimagine the grief of those who suddenly lost the most precious thing in their lives. And as a person concerned about the well-being of all peoples and the tenuous future of our species, I keep hearing myself think: What will it take to end the madness?

I am loath to use yet another tragedy to point out (again) the inherent violence and brutality of our society, from the exploitation of individuals to the decimation of nations. I am not eager to connect it back (again) to the human-initiated violence toward the balance of life on the planet, that vast interconnected web on which our very existence depends. I take no solace in preparing to rant (again) about the culpability of the media, the profligacy of corporate profiteers who put their wealth above everyone else’s health, or about the profound alienation and emptiness of modern life. (more…)

Living, Loving Meaningfully

August 21, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Windy Cooler

The Revolution Will Not Be Anti-Social

by Windy Cooler

I have been ruminating lately on how much I am looking forward to school starting up again for Ob, my six year old son, because of how deeply I enjoy my time with other parents picking up their kids after school; how meaningful, powerful, and frankly, political, much of that time is.

Most of us are women. One is a grandfather and one is a stay at home father, married to the only woman he ever dated. We are very different people, religiously, in age, in personality, in class background and country of origin, to some extent, racially. We talk about everything and we have a huge impact on each other’s lives.

We jokingly call ourselves, after the suggestion of one of us, a poet and homeschooling mother, the “Playground Coven.” I usually write for activists, and I am doing it here, despite myself. I think of us sometimes, in that light, as a kind of Bughouse Square. (more…)