The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Elders...and The Trib

What a group. Jimmy Carter, Bishop Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Mary Robinson, Kofi Annan, Richard Branson. These human rights superheroes have joined forces to form “The Elders,” which takes its name from the elders who lead some African village societies.

The Elders will seek solutions to what seem to be intractable world problems, addressing major issues that are not being addressed now. Issues like the guerrilla fighting in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger River delta or the waste and lack of coordination among aid agencies delivering health care, suggestions made by Branson and Carter.

In prepared remarks Mandela said "This group can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever actions need to be taken. Together we will work to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair."

Branson came up with idea after persuading Annan and Mandela to travel to Baghdad in 2003 to negotiate Saddam Hussein’s relinquishing power, only to have war break out before they could accomplish their mission. If only…

The Elders have not decided what issues they will address yet, they are in the mobilization and assessment stage. But to have world leaders like this who have individually worked for peace and human rights now banding together to seek solutions that are beyond partisan politics is something this world needs.


If you don’t live in Bessemer (and even if you do) you might be growing weary of news about the Bessemer Neighborhood Association, but my tradition of posting my Western Tribune columns each week continues, and this week the column is about the association. So hear it is:

If you live in Bessemer, you now have a voice that you didn’t have just three weeks ago. The Bessemer Neighborhood Association has formed, with a mission to improve the quality of life throughout Bessemer and its surrounding communities. Too broad, you say? That is purposeful, because with that as our mission statement we can address a variety of issues to make Bessemer a healthier and safer place to live.

This organization was not formed to replace any existing community groups; rather we will work with groups such as neighborhood watch associations, the City Council, the Board of Education, the Mayor’s office, the police department, Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association, local churches, Jefferson County Department of Health and others to improve our neighborhoods.

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association is for everyone. While we are currently strongest on the South Side of Bessemer, we anticipate growing and serving all of Bessemer and surrounding communities. We want you to be involved.

During our first meeting we assessed our community’s strengths and weaknesses, and we are in the process of developing an action plan to build upon those strengths and minimize our weak areas.

Among our goals are such things as increasing our active membership, fighting urban blight and working to beautify our community. Also we will seek to develop programs and activities that will give our youth alternatives to life in the streets and will work with law enforcement to reduce crime throughout our community. Another goal is to increase educational opportunities for all ages.

We even have our first specific objective and that is to work with the city to have the dilapidated building on 19th St. South between Clarendon and Dartmouth Avenues torn down. This structure has been an eyesore and a point of contention in the community for years. We realize the danger it poses to children and others who may try to enter, and that it is a public health hazard to nearby neighbors. Working with the city we expect to have this building torn down within a few weeks.

Other objectives are being planned and will be discussed at our next meeting on July 23 at Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church on Dartmouth Avenue.

This group is made up of neighbors who are intent on helping others in our community to lead a better life.

Learn more about us at Updates of meetings and current projects will be posted periodically.

I hope to see you on July 23.


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