S.O.F.I.A. Celebrates Five Years of Service

You know someone in an abusive relationship. Yes, you do. We all do. And as Mr. Rogers always told us in times of despair, “Look for the Helpers.” One of the organizations that has been a “Helper” for the last five years is Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates. And in May, S.O.F.I.A. will be celebrating its five years of advocacy by honoring three people who represent three different aspects of its work.

SOFIA galaAssemblyman Thomas Giblin is being honored for his profound and passionate support of S.O.F.I.A.’s programs and events to empower survivors of domestic violence. Ms. Joanne Paul, whose daughter Monica was shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend, is being honored as a representative of family members and friends who resolve to move forward while reaching out to others who have lost loved ones to domestic violence. Mrs. Karla Wheeler-Suliman is being honored as the face of domestic violence survival and an active volunteer and supporter of S.O.F.I.A.

Please consider joining us on May 14th, 2015 at the Richfield Regency in Verona for dinner, community, and helping to raise funds toward the S.O.F.I.A. Safe House and the continuation of our programs. Sponsorship opportunities are also available!

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Women’s History X

X is for Women Whose Names We Don't Know

Congratulations, Stephanie! You (or the recipient of your shout out) will receive a copy of Rad American Women!

A friend (Thanks, Amy!) recently posted a link to this post on Dangerous Minds about an ABC book called Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries.

I love the look of it. I love the highlighted women. I love that it used the Oxford Comma the way I do. I love the graphics. Sloppy, happy love all around.

I especially love the X page. We all know women (and men, yes I know! but this is March for one day more) who remain in the shadows — either by choice or otherwise — and show amazing strength, creativity, care, and just plain stellar power in ways that don’t make them (in)famous for their 15 minutes or longer of fame.

I’m going to ask anyone who knows a woman like that to shout her out in comments. I’ll pick one comment randomly, and that person will receive a copy of this AMAZING book! This is not sponsored, no one else is paying for it or asking me to post this. I just really love it. (Don’t believe me? Re-read the second paragraph.)

If you want to go ahead and buy the book on your own, please do so at a local bookstore and not on Amazon. Please? Pretty please?

Comment away!

Continental USA only, please

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Glad I Saw It: Newark Over NYC

Ellis Island MuseumMy cousin was here visiting last week, and we took the boat out to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. We decided one was better from afar, but we got off to explore the stories of people who had experienced a time that seemed terrifying and incredible to us. As someone who has no direct ties to Ellis Island, I can tell you that visiting the museum there is well worth your time (and the cash) no matter your lineage. Don’t be shy about going up to all the floors and peeking into all the rooms. Truly a moving experience.

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PARCCing in Moderation: A Discussion

THINK before you speak

Random Image I try to keep in mind during discussions.

My friend Eugene Stern, who is pretty good with Mathematics and stuff, asked me to have a public discussion about some of the issues surrounding the Common Core and PARCC. In our neck of the woods, it feels like there are only two polarizing camps, but since neither one of us felt suited to those discussions, we thought there might be others who’d want to read something hovering closer to the middle. I was reticent, but the nastier the other public discussions became, the more I wanted to put this out there too. So, here you go. I’m cross-posting with Sense Made Here, and the fantastic mathbabe has agreed to cross-post as well. Enjoy.

ES: PARCC testing is beginning in New Jersey this month. There’s been lots of anxiety and confusion in Montclair and elsewhere as parents debate whether to have their kids take the test or opt out. How do you think about it, both as a teacher and as a parent?

KW: My simple answer is that my kids will sit for PARCC. However, and this is where is gets grainy, that doesn’t mean I consider myself a cheerleader for the exam or for the Common Core curriculum in general. Continue reading

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Glad I Saw It: Style

IMG_0716I’m extremely grateful to people who have an eye for style. I definitely don’t have it. And I’m okay with that. But it sure is nice to stumble into spaces created by people with the kind of style I’d like to have.

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Make Art Like No One Is Watching


Same model. Same tools. One of these was drawn by a woman with an art degree. The other is mine.

I recently took a drawing class with the Bloomfield Art League, and it was so much fun. I’ve always been a joyful, but simplistic, artist – lots of smiley faces and stick figures with wild hair. The class I took was more serious, but also very gentle in its technique and teaching.

Interested in trying out some art you’ve never attempted? Or just want to brush up on skills you haven’t practiced in a while? Stay connected with the Bloomfield Art League on Facebook, and take the plunge!

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Guest Sonnet: The Fate of Fur and Feathers

Jessica Almy, the brain and brawn behind Vegbooks, joined the yeah write February Poetry Slam with a sonnet. I offered this space, assuring her that opinionated sarcasm would fit right in. Also, since I’ve defaulted on my participation in the challenge, this allows me to participate vicariously. But it’s not too late for you! Want to try sonnet writing? Go here. Now.

The Fate of Fur and Feathers

In our fair city, we hate these friggin rats–
The kind that run, the kind that fly and crap.
We curse bedbugs and mangy stray tomcats.
Yeah, but we love toy dogs who yap and yap.

We take our dogs on horse-drawn carriages.
They wear their Sunday best, decked out in fur.
Some even plan lil doggy marriages.
Dogs kiss on cue. Good matches we assure.

Elsewhere, we know that people love their birds–
Bright birds, smart birds–the type that say hello,
The ones who talk, who know a ton of words.
We like birds too: prepared with a nice Bordeaux.

Yeah, some are free. Others we prefer confined.
The birds and beasts should be to fate resigned.

by Jessica Almy

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Glad I Saw It: Random Crap from Here and There

i have mood swingsI do love the colorful and quirky windows in our local shops. This stopped me on a day when I had to agree with the statement. See it for yourself while it lasts at the Essex Fine Arts Gallery.


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Glad I Saw It: Curiosity and Art

photo copyWe were waiting at a local barber shop as my son was getting a close-cropped cut, when my daughter tugged at my sleeve and pointed towards the door. A man was sitting near the front, by the door, and he had a drawing pad out. “He’s drawing a cowboy!” she whispered. She stared and stared as the drawing took shape. Finally, I suggested she go over and let him know she like his drawing. She agreed, but I had to come too.

Her bravery dissipated as soon as the gentleman’s attention went from his creation to her presence, and I was left to explain that my six-year old had been admiring his cowboy picture. “She’s an artist too,” I explained. Oh! Wonderful! And a fresh sheet of paper came out.

Soon the man was sketching my little girl’s giraffe hat with a thick, black marker. And as it took shape, he told jokes and stories that felt like familiar friends. “Children are so great with art, so open,” he began. And then regaled us with micro stories about a child drawing God, despite being told it was impossible, and why he always brings a sketch pad to pass the time, and that he was glad my daughter had asked about the artwork.

In the end, we had a great conversation and got to take home a sketch of my daughter with her giraffe hat. At the top he wrote “A Happy Girl” then hesitated for a second and continued “is a Happy Person.”

If you want to see some of this gentleman’s work, visit Chuck Hayden’s art here, or stop in at Jacklyn Kling Distinctive Framework on Walnut Street in Montclair.

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Keep Dancing Like No One Is Watching: Katy and Missy

534733851JF00009_Pepsi_SupeI thought Katy Perry did a great job at the half-time show for Superbowl (insert number here). I was very happy to watch Lenny Kravitz sing Katy Perry’s breakout hit with her. And because I’m not tuned into music industry rumors, the Missy Elliott guest appearance was a total surprise. I was already seat dancing from the first “I can name that tune in six notes” teaser of Get Ur Freak On.

But to hear Twitter commentary during and after the show, Katy Perry was a total asshole for even being on stage with Missy Elliott. There was making fun of Perry’s dancing, how she didn’t have talent or skill compared to Missy Elliott, and so on and so forth. Because, you know, sharing isn’t caring when the Judgy McJudgersons are in town. Never mind that Missy Elliott was amazing in her responses. Never mind that people are always saying “Female artists need to help each other” and “If you’re on top bring someone with you.” Oh, and there is the “Dance like no one is watching” thing too.  See how far that goes?

But that’s okay. It’s all right. I’ll just made sure to take a good listen to Missy Elliott’s Gossip Folks, followed by Katy Perry’s Firework — or maybe This Is How We Do, just to piss people off. Because if you can’t see from their respective videos that Katy Perry was influenced by Missy Elliott’s in your face style as she started out, you are blind.

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