Jurich: The shutdown won’t shut us downWritten by Stacy Jurich | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As an activist for almost a decade, I have gone through ups and downs emotionally, energetically and spiritually specific to this calling. There are countless and ever-unfolding efforts that need change, help and awareness and so many wrongs to make right. Even the short list of social justice, environmental justice, animal and human rights, economic justice and equality comprises thousands of specific cases and types of calls to action, all around the world. Conscientious people deal with the moral questions of “How can we make good around us? What is my role in a just and peaceful world? How can I better my community?”
It has been a challenge to maintain a balance between the quest for righteousness and a stress-free existence amid my feeling of responsibility to participate in revolutionizing every aspect of our zeitgeist. I have seen activists burn out and have felt it myself. I have been seeking a sustainable path to personal happiness and a clear conscience with a healthy body and living environment (a blessing to be able to pursue). At the same time, I aim to release the mindset of struggle, fear and distrust of the natural order and entropy.
In the midst of this process, I have pulled away from various forms of activism such as protesting, petitioning, attempting to influence a stale political culture and walking into Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates’ office asking for exoneration for Danny Brown (whose DNA has proven him innocent of a crime for which he was wrongly convicted and imprisoned for almost 20 years).
I also choose not to spend my time reveling in popular culture (f**k Miley Cyrus) or reading most news sources. The coverage of selected and filtered world and national affairs is depressing and uninspiring at best. I do not want my daily breaths to be polluted with news about car crashes, home fires, gunshots, rapes and consumer alerts.
Similarly, the government and wars and our nation’s actions in international affairs are so unbelievably ignorant and corrupt that I no longer see the point in tallying up their every move; my reactions to them are the same. While before I might have wavered between laughing or crying, I have become somewhat numb to these customs.
When I heard of the government shutdown through Facebook posts, I did not even bat an eye. I had no interest in reading more about whatever story they want us to believe; it’s a game and it will change again soon. Next month it will be something else; all the while the government is funding wars and continuing unthinkable human and civil rights violations.
I was, however, prompted to pay attention to the shutdown when a friend called and updated me on some of the local effects of the shutdown. Kristin Kiser, owner of Black Kite Coffee in the Old West End, is personally distraught over the shutdown’s inclusion of the funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
WIC, run locally through Lucas County, is a “special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children. WIC provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support and supplemental foods.”
Kiser is appalled that the shutdown could ultimately leave babies without formula, their only source of nutrition if the mother is unable to breast-feed. When she heard the news, she immediately started collecting donations of money and infant formula. She designated her coffee shop as a drop-off location for formula and made arrangements for distribution.
I spoke with Clark Allen, Lucas County WIC program director. He explained that WIC’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1; when the shutdown occurred the 2014 budget that included funding for WIC had not yet been approved. Ohio is able to “spend forward” leftover money from 2013 through the end of October with the hope that a budget will be approved before the reserve is gone.
There are food dollars to last well into November, but staff funding for Lucas County WIC will only last until the end of the month, according to Allen. “We’re operating as normal; the schedule is the same and we’re open for business. The WIC vouchers are issued three months at a time. If someone came in today they’d get vouchers to last October, November and December. If we got to November and the WIC office wasn’t open, there’d be no new vouchers issued.”
Allen said he’s cautiously optimistic that this will come to an end very soon. “We’re not eliminated. Once they approve the budget, the funding will come through.
“WIC has been around for almost 40 years. If it were to end, it would catch us all really off-guard. I surely hope that we’re around for another 40 years,” he said.
Kiser’s collection of money and formula may not be needed immediately, but unless the funding for WIC is approved sometime this month, it will be crucial to the survival of babies in Lucas County. As a community, we need to be able to support those most in need, as well as each other. The initial support generated by Kiser’s outreach is a strong indication that there is an element to America that can’t be shut down. There will always be instability and uncertainty, so it is crucial to create systems and support networks that can mobilize when needs arise.
For more information about Lucas County WIC, visit www.co.lucas.oh.us and type “WIC” into the search box.
Black Kite Coffee, located on the corner of Collingwood Boulevard and Delaware Avenue in the Old West End, is an independent drop-off location for donations of infant formula.
Email columnist Stacy Jurich at email@example.com.