Welcome to the Journal of the Graf Family Growing Power Home Model


Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09



In January of 2006 I toured Will Allen’s Growing Power farm. Inspired by the Growing Power vision, my wife, son, a family friend and I constructed a home-based version of the Growing Power system in our sun-room.

We started by building an 8′ X 2′ box in our three-season room, and (with help of good persons at Growing Power and some worms) grew, with mixed results, salad greens and seedlings for the first summer’s garden. As the seasons change, our focus shifts back and forth between the sun-room and its evolving Growing Power Home Garden Project Box, and our Growing Power backyard garden, where we use the rich soil, worm castings and worms from the indoor box outdoors. Same system yet different.

Digging in the earth can uncover all kinds of things, and so can digging deep in ourselves. In my online journal, I have been recording daily reflections on the progress of our efforts in adapting the Growing Power model to our home and garden, mixed with my observations about life, peace, justice, faith, family, community and friends. Enjoy. Thank you! — Bob Graf


Click below to read any post in full — see the Archives for older posts.


No Matter What: An Easy Essay - Thursday, November 23, 2017


Republicans cannot vote for Democrats
No Matter What
Democrats cannot vote for Republicans
No Matter What
Voting for a third party is a waste
No Matter What
Voting for no one is non-acceptable
No Matter What.

Voting in America means little
The person with most money usually wins
This is what we fight and die for
No Matter What.

When a politician, Democrat or Republican,
Votes for something we abhor
We are loyal to the person
No matter what.

When other governments leave you no choice
We call it totalitarianism
When we get no good choices
We call it Democracy
No Matter What.

We are told to vote for the lesser of two evils
But lesser evil is still evil
No Matter What!

In this system nothing changes by word, petitions, phone calls, email or even votes
History tells us that all change comes from nonviolent direct action.
But the “powers that be” say conflict is bad.
No Matter What.


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How to Stop Militarism - Saturday, November 18, 2017


F-35,the most expensive weapon
in history of world

How to Stop Militarism in the USA? A Reflection

A Nation/World news Brief in today’s paper(Nov.17) may provide a clue. It simply said that “Congress on Thursday sent President Donald Trump a bill authorizing a $700 billion budget for the military.” This is the Congress that represents us, liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats. This is the Defense Budget, significantly higher than Trump proposed, that all but eight Senators voted for, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. When I explained Senator Baldwin’s major role in supporting militarism friends say “oh well she is good on other issues.” Does not excess military spending that hurts the poor most of all and promotes endless wars and killing of human beings all over the world trump some of these other “issues.” I know these good people will vote for Senator Baldwin no matter how immoral and wrong she is on military spending. The same could be said in reverse for Republican and conservatives, they will be loyal no matter what their candidate or party does.

This reminds me of the first Army value which is to be “upheld above all other values an individual may have.” It is “Loyalty. Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other Soldiers. …” In contrast the first Gospel value and value of many faiths is “Respect for the Life and Dignity of Each Individual” The Army says to kill “reflexively to stimuli—such as fire commands, enemy contact, or the sudden appearance of a ’target’”, without use of conscience. Loyal liberals and Democrats, loyal conservatives and Republicans say, no matter what, I must be loyal to party or movement, even when it is wrong.

So how do we stop militarism in the US? It is to stop supporting or voting for people like Senator Baldwin and other Democrats and Liberals who vote for arms to kill. President Trump and Senator Baldwin say Military Spending Brings Jobs. Actually the money between Trump’s proposed military budget and the one Senator Baldwin and others voted for is enough to put every young person through college in the USA. Would that not produce more sustainable jobs?

It is strange that the Defense industry and liberal groups both financially support Senator Baldwin. When during the Bush area the US was giving 6 million a day for the military of Israel some Democrats and liberals were outraged. Last fall when President Obama raised it to 10.5 million dollars a day in military aide to Israel there was not a whimper from the same group. The same could be said for Republicans and Conservatives. Militarism will only end when we (US) say no to candidates of left or right who support this immoral and crazy military spending.

So the answer to stopping militarism is simple: stop supporting, finically or by vote, candidates that support militarism. Otherwise we will keep getting ‘endless militarism” and the wars and killing necessary to feed its growth. Petitions, Letters and Phone calls do not work. We need nonviolent action now. As Albert Einstein said: “insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”


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Racism Is - Monday, September 18, 2017


In a city in the South a statue of a Confederate General is torn town but racism continues.
In a city in the North a memorial to Confederate soldiers in a cemetery is removed but racism continues.
No destruction of memorials or Statues will remove the structural racism of our society.

Racism is taking money from public schools to fund segregated voucher and charter schools.
Racism is using zoning laws to keep housing segregated.
Racism is moving jobs out of city but not providing public transportation to the jobs.
Racism is no affordable housing in nicer white areas.
Racism is not replacing lead water pipes in racial segregated neighborhoods.
Racism is supporting Militarism, the Military Arms Industry.
Racism is supporting war, destruction, famine and ethnic cleansing in countries of ‘people of color’ around the world.

We need to tear down the structures, not statues, of racism.
Visit the County zoo, Universal Studios or Disneyland, go to a professional sports event or a performing arts production and the faces you see will be predominately white.
Black and brown faces are barred from these places not by race but by money, status and privilege.

Racism is real when my friend’s grandson is killed and there is hardly a mention of him in the media.
Racism is real when two African men are shot in a few days by police and information is withheld from the public.
Yet if a white man is killed or shot the media will be full of the story, who the person was and the suffering of his/her family.

We live in a society where white privilege is taken for granted and politicians do not talk about it.
Overt racism is condemned but structural racism goes unnoticed.
We live in a society where the Humane Society is to provide dogs and cats with health care, food and shelter
But do not live in a Humane Society where all humans have rights to health care, food and shelter

If we open our eyes and really see the hunger, despair and illness around us we would need to do something.
But we hide it in our cities and do not hear the cry of the poor,
We are quick to volunteer or donate to causes but do not hear or see people in need.
We need to stop being “colored blind” and see people of color.

The cure from Racism starts with each one of us looking into ourselves to see how this evil has crusted over our heart.
Than we need to join together rich and poor, black and white, Republican and Democrats and see the structures of racism in our city, state and USA. Working together we need to tear down the structures of racism be it in war, funding, housing, education, health care or criminal justice.


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Give No Air To Hate - Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Anti:Anti Fascist counterprotestors
in Charlottesville

What would happen if the white supremacist, Klu Klux Klan and neo Nazi’s held a big rally
And no one but them showed up?
The media probably would not give the rally much attention.
And unless the hate groups broke the law the police would have an easy time.

What would happen if Trump tweeted and the media and Democrats did not respond?
The Tweets would become less meaningful.

During the last election President Bush was asked about an issue Trump was squawking about.
Though his spokesperson he said he had spoken about the issue during his presidency
And “won’t be weighing in anew now – or commenting on
Or giving oxygen to any of Trump’s bluster.”

I hate it when persons marginalize me by ignoring my words and message
But this might be the right tactic for “hate groups” or blusterers.

When I was a community organizer back in the 70’s I used to be glad and my job became easier
When a politician or official would publicly attack our leaders cry for justice.
They would organize the group better than I could.

Anti-hate groups give more coverage, creditability to the message of haters.
Reaction to hate gives the haters more say.


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St. Ignatius of Loyola and Military at Jesuit Catholic Universities - Monday, July 31, 2017


St. Ignatius surrenders his sword
before the statue of Black Madonna
at Montserrat

Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus

In 1989, after teaching a semester at Loyola University in New Orleans Father Daniel Berrigan S.J. wrote to the president of Loyola that he wouldn’t be back due to his opposition to the Loyola ROTC program. The University’s president disagreed, replying that “given the reality of the military, it is better to have officers who have the benefit of a Jesuit education.” Berrigan wrote back: “I love your logic. It seems to be that, given the reality of abortion, Loyola should sponsor an institute for abortionist, and given the reality of capital punishment, you should sponsor an institute for executioners.”

This kind of logic was what the Jesuit Catholic universities used for years to justify military training. With the emergence of military training that prepares young men for modern warfare and teaches them how to kill ‘reflexively’, without use of conscience, this type of justification is no longer heard. Presently 24 Catholic Universities, 17 of them Jesuit, host Department of Defense military training centers on campus.

To understand why they teach war and killing, a clear violation of the Gospel teaching of Jesus one can look no further than the Spiritual Exercise of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, “Two Standards” of two commanders in chiefs.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a soldier in the Spanish court seeking military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. During his recovery he had a conversion, surrendering his weapons and fine cloths to become a became a beggar seeking to follow Jesus in poverty and shame. In his own words he became a soldier of Christ. In the Spiritual Exercises which he wrote shortly after his conversion he has a meditation on the Two Standards (SE 136): one of Christ the Commander in Chief and the other of Lucifer the commander of the enemy of humankind. The standard or strategy of Lucifer is for persons to seek riches, honor and pride. The strategy of Christ is for persons to seek the opposite, poverty, contempt and humility.

In hosting Department of Defense military training centers on campus, ROTC, NROTC and/or AFROTC, the Jesuits profit. The three departments of military science by the Department of Defense on campus bring with them great financial and staff resources (riches). Electing to be a University the US Government has chosen to host military training for colleges and universities in the area is a source of honor. Teaching young men and women the ways of war and killing in service of the USA is a source of pride, pride to be a US military school.

Calls for an explanation, dialog, and to be Faithful to the Gospel have, for the most part, gone unanswered by Jesuit university administrators. Perhaps the above is a too simple an explanation of why Jesuit Universities host Department of Defense on campus but due to a lack of of reasoning by Jesuits, this is a logical explanation.

In another part of the Exercises (SE 98) Ignatius has a prayer to Jesus: “I deeply desire to be with you in accepting all wrongs and all rejections and all poverty, both actual and spiritual—and I deliberately choose this, if it is for your greater service and praise.” If the seventeen Jesuit Catholic Universities elected not to host the military on campus they could still keep all the Federal education monies for other areas of education but would loose military money to teach war and killing, be shamed by the military establishment and be humbled by the government. But Why Not? St. Ignatius and Gospel say so.


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Be Not Color Blind! - Thursday, July 06, 2017


My wife used to complain she did not like looking out in the backyard because there was too much brown. I said the wood chips I get from the dump and place in the walkway and around the deck were brown but in the summer there was much green and other colors. However, the green, kale, tomato plants, mint and eggplant grew but brown was the dominate color. One day I saw that red cedar wood chips were on sale at the store. I brought three bags and placed them on the walkways. Then I asked her to look at the view of the backyard and she liked it.

When I was young my goal was to be color blind in seeing black, brown and white persons. As I grew up I realized those who said they were color blind were reinforcing barriers that discriminate against black and brown persons. I started to make a point of noticing the color of a person around me. In South America I found countries that persons intermixed. Persons were a rainbow of beautiful colors ranging from black to white. As I grew older I noticed that the environment I was in dictated the predominate color of the persons. Check out a special event at the zoo, a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game or Disney world in Florida. People there are mostly white with some Asians and Hispanics but few blacks.

In Milwaukee and elsewhere segregation of people who say they are color blind and treat all races the same has brought on deep poverty, poor housing and education, high rates of incarceration and homicides in the predominately black neighborhoods. The Mayor and white officials deny racism in Milwaukee but blacks know it is there and experience it.

Be Not Color Blind. Be aware of your environment and look around you for the color of people.


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Saying No To Those Who Think They Know Best - Wednesday, July 05, 2017


Damage done around the Al-Nuri
Mosque in Mosul’s Old City.

I recently read in the newspaper names of more homicide victims. According to Mothers against Gun Violence, who tracks all homicides in the City of Milwaukee, there were 78 at the end of June. In the newspaper I also read how the US Air bombing has intensified in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq. More civilians are being killed because unlike previous, aerial bombardments, citizens were not evacuated.

The killing of African American young adults in Milwaukee and the killing of civilians in Mosul remind me of what a Major in the Army said to a reporter after American bombs, rockets and napalm obliterated much of the South Vietnamese town of Ben Tre — killing hundreds of civilians who lived there. He said: “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

In the City of Milwaukee City officials believe by capturing, imprisoning and punishing more young men they are saving the city from more crime. When it does not work they hire more police and do more of the same. Yet they ignore the known cause of crime and criminal, poor housing and education, extreme poverty and high unemployment. After 14 years of bombing and killing to “save Iraq” there is more death and destruction with no end in sight.

Why do some Americans believe they can capture, punish kill and destroy their way out of any situation when it fails over and over again to work.

We can say: “When will they ever learn?” or we can say they are smart persons and know but do the same for power, money and glory.

The belief that we know better or are exceptional drives the American mentality into more violence, more war and killing and more homicides. The better question is when will the people of America, right and left, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, rich and poor come together to say No to the politicians who think they know best.


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Illogical Politics - Sunday, April 16, 2017


The Director of the FBI interfered with results of 2016 election
When he reopened the email case of Clinton right before the election
Now the Director of the FBI is leading the investigation of how Russia may have interfered with 2016 elections.

Some of the liberal media are criticizing and marginalizing Wiki Leaks,
Where a short time ago they were praising and honoring Wiki Leaks.
In his first public statement the new Director of the CIA is criticizing and marginalizing Wiki Leads

Some on the left are blaming and criticizing the Presidents of US, Venezuela, and South Africa
For all the woes the people in these countries face,
Where before these US Presidential election they were not blaming presidents of these countries for same woes.

Bennie Sanders got support of left in the presidential election of 2016.
But after being dumped on by the Democrats and Clinton,
He supports the Democrats and Clinton in pushing for militarism, and other toxic things he spoke against.

Senator Tammy Baldwin won the election in 2012 as peace and justice candidate.
Now she is supporting militarism and more arms
And she is still the candidate of most on left and liberals in Wisconsin.

Some on the left and liberals say President Trump is not their president
The will not allow politicians to corporate with President or Republicans
Yet for eight years with a Democratic President they were sleeping on evils done.

The 1% has gained 99% of wealth in world
While the poor and middle class, republicans and Democrats
Are pitted against each other for a share of 1% of wealth.

The Wall Street and Defense contractor Presidential Candidate lost
Big money did not win
Yet Wall Street and Defense contractors are still winning.

Some on the left and liberals blame Trump and conservatives for everything bad that happens
Some on the right and conservatives blame Obama and Democrats for everything bad that happens
Yet it is US, United States, or us, we the people, that are responsible for US.


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Mother of All Bombs - Thursday, April 13, 2017


Mother of All Bombs

Today the US dropped the Mother of All Bombs on Afghanistan,
This 21,600 lb. pound bomb is equal to 11 tons of TNT,
Obliterates everything within a 1,000-yard radius.
The war in Afghanistan has been going on for 15 years
The more Afghans we kill the more they try to kill us
The former President in Afghanistan, someone we helped to power,
Condemned the attack and accused US of using his country
As testing ground for new and dangerous weapons.
This act of terror by US, as we know from past experiences
Will only create more terror and hatred against US
The Arms Dealers and Terrorist rejoice
With more money for killing and more recruits for terror.
I used to think that the powers behind the use of these types of weapons
Just did not know history and how they are contributing to hate of US
But now I believe they are smart and know exactly what they are doing.
They will not be stopped by anyone except US, US being us
Who believe the propaganda and think killing makes our country safe.
When will we ever learn?


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Drop Food Not Bombs! - Saturday, April 08, 2017


In retaliation for an alleged Syrian chemical attack that killed human beings, including children,
The US drops 85 million dollars of Cruise missiles on a Syrian air base killing human beings;
If the US would have dropped 85 million dollars of food on Syria
Many adults and children would have been saved from starvation and grateful to the US.
The US sells Saudi Arabia millions of dollars of weapons to bomb Yemen,
Killing people, including starving children.
The millions of dollars for destruction could have been used to rebuild Yemen and fed the children.
US gives 11 million dollars a day of military aid to Israel,
Used to suppress Palestinians and promote unrest in the Middle East.
11 million a day of food and supplies could bring peace and harmony between peoples.
The US Defense budget grows bigger and bigger every year,
So the US can drop more and more bombs each day destroying crops and people,
While more and more children go hungry in the US and around the world
When will we, US, ever learn to drop food not bombs?


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Divide and Conquer - Wednesday, April 05, 2017


In 2008 the Democrats won the Senate, House and Presidency.
Republicans on the right promised not to work with Democrats;
And if one did they would run someone against him or her.
In 2016 the Republicans won the Senate, House and Presidency.
Democrats on the Left promise not to work with Republicans;
And if one did they would run someone against him or her.
Divide and Conquer says the 1% who gain in power.
As the people become more divided the “powers that be” get stronger.
The people divided weaken all except those who thrive on a divide and conquer.


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Divide and Conquer the People - Monday, April 03, 2017


In 2008 the Democrats won the Senate, House and Presidency.
Republicans on the right promised to not work with Democrats;
And if one did they would run someone against him or her.
In 2016 the Republicans won the Senate, House and Presidency.
Democrats on the Left promised not to work with Republicans;
And if one did they would run against him or her.
Divide and Conquer says the 1% who gain in power.
As the people become more divided the “powers that be” get stronger.
The people divided weaken all except those who thrive on a divide and conquer.


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Black Lives Matter: Three Men Shot in Car - Saturday, March 25, 2017


About a week ago I heard on the radio that a young man was found shot to death in a car on the North side of Milwaukee. I felt sad for the young man and his family. No name was given to the young man and there were no suspects in the homicide. I remembered there was another man found shot in a car recently on the North side. Later I found out both their names. Not much was reported about these two young man. Due to the lack of media attention, the lack of suspects and the location of the two homicides I thought they were both young black men. They were.

The other night in the TV news I heard about an older white man who was found shot in the car, also on the North side. His name was identified on the report and the Mayor, Police Chief were on the scene to talk about this tragic death of a city worker. The next day there were five suspects in custody, although none of them had been charged. A newspaper article had family and friends testimony of what a wonderful person he was.

Three deaths of human beings shot in a car on the North Side. One, the older white man, got proper remembrance and was presented as a true tragedy. The other two, young black men, were mentioned in passing. All three were a tragedy and maybe if we gave as much attention to the two black lives we could slow down the killing of young black men.


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The Power of Nonviolence Rest in Suffering - Monday, March 06, 2017


Before we can understand the power of nonviolence we must first understand what nonviolence is not. It is not a movement to be passive or silent in face of injustice. It is not a movement against a person, be it a friend, enemy or politician.

Nonviolence is a movement, by word and action, for something just and peaceful. For example, the civil rights movement of 50’s and 60 was not against anyone but for the ability for all races to sit anywhere on the bus, at a lunch carter or to use a public bathroom. Nonviolence is based on values and beliefs, be they Gospel values or human rights, for shelter, clean water, food or health care.

Nonviolence fights wrong and evil not with violence or more injustice but by absorbing the violence and evil and returning it with love and goodness. A nonviolent person knows no fear or hate in the struggle for justice or truth. A nonviolent person struggles with nonviolent word and actions for what is just and right, their “opinion of truth” formed by conscience.

A nonviolent person does not judge other persons words but judges actions of person. “Judge not the sinner but the sin.” For example, our former President talked about achieving a world free of nuclear weapons but in realty built new nuclear weapon plants and new and more usable and deadly nuclear weapons. Our present president talks about nuclear superiority but has not done, to my knowledge, anything new about it. Yet many blame or fear him for the nuclear build up. Pope Francis talks to US Congress about arms dealers having “blood on their hands”. The President and Congress listened and praised him. Yet the USA keeps on being the biggest arms dealers in the world. People killed in Yemen or Palestine with American weapons are killed by us, Americans. We need to take responsibly for these actions and struggle nonviolently to commit this sin no more. We teach in our Catholic Universities the equality and dignity of all life, yet teach war and killing, killing without conscience.

Our reluctance to adopt a nonviolent way of life and action seems to be our fear of sacrifice, being marginalized and suffering loss. An author, Judith Brown, defines Gandhi’s nonviolent struggle as “striving nonviolently to the point of sacrifice rather than fighting to attain one’s vision of truth.” Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham jail, talks about how “disciple nonviolence totally confused the rulers of the South”. “They did not know what to do. When they finally reached for clubs, dogs and guns, they found the world was watching, and then the power of nonviolent protest became manifest.” St. Ignatius of Loyola when praying for the grace of God in his “Spiritual Exercises” prays for the “desire to be with you (Jesus) in accepting all wrongs and all rejections and all poverty, both actual and spiritual.”

This essential element of nonviolence, sacrifice, accepting suffering, inconvenience, insults or injury while still struggling for justice, equality and peace is at the heart of nonviolence power.

Power, for our government and the military/industrial/education complex, means having the ability to inflict punishment and violence on people it considers a threat to the American Way. Power for people of nonviolence means taking responsibility for the violence the USA directly or indirectly imposed on people of Somalia, Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and other countries around the world. People of nonviolence need to fight racism here in the United States be it overtly or structurally, as it is in Milwaukee, with the lack of urgency to remove lead water lines that are poisoning our children, predominately in African American and Hispanic neighborhoods. Christian nonviolence chooses the Way of Jesus, even when it means choosing poverty, suffer and a cross over the American Way of power, money and honor.

Nonviolent persons first must be aware of their own sinfulness, participation, by word, deed or silence in evil like segregation or “killer drones.” Then they can condemn the sins and evils around us. Then by word or action, suffering and loss if necessary, they can strive without violence against this evil, not looking to blame anyone, but to root out the evil. Only then we work together to exercise the power of nonviolence, to change the world, to make society “an easier place to be good.”

Fear is at the heart of violence and war. The sign about the cross of Jesus declared his crime, treason. It read “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Although he was innocent of this crime, he suffered the punishment of death on the cross. The cross is a symbol of nonviolence. If we practice the power of nonviolence in a world that values war, violence, profits, pleasure, greed it is inevitable that we will suffer being insulted, marginalized, ignored or even jailed.


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No Room In Hospital For Ill? - Wednesday, February 22, 2017


New Asylums are Jails and Prisons

(Based on articleAre Health Systems Failing a Moral Test? (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017)

No Room in Milwaukee Hospitals for the Ill!

In Milwaukee County the County government plans to privatize the treatment at the Mental Health Complex,
Which now is the only place poor and marginalized persons in a major mental crisis can go outside of jail
Over the years, mainly due to a lack of funding by the County for persons with major mental illnesses,
Conditions there have deteriorated and numbers served have declined to where jail is home to more ill persons.
There are three major health care systems in Milwaukee County, Aurora, Froedert and Ascension,
Not one of them these three major health care system wants to treat these poor and marginalized ill.
All three non-profits are profitable, with profit margins of 7.5% to 16.4%.
There is money to be made according to the Director of Milwaukee County Department and Human Services,
But there is money to be made by these non-profits in treatment of persons with commercial insurance.
Aurora, the clear choice, plans to invest 40 million in the Athletic Performance Research Center at Marquette University,
Tied into its nearby Aurora Sinai hospital that used to house a major treatments center for ill with brain illnesses, but no more.
But has no interest in running hospital for persons with major mental illnesses.
Although there is not enough money for the three major Health systems in Milwaukee County,
Two out of State for profit companies are interested in providing the services to Milwaukee County,
One of them is being investigated by the Federal Government for fraud at 20 of its behavior health hospitals,
The other one provides mainly medical and behavioral health care in prisons or sick to prisons and jails.
One wonders how out of state for profit companies can find profit for treatment of those ill with a major mental illness,
While local non-profit health care systems cannot find enough money to care for these poor and marginalized ill persons in community.
There is a sign in Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Centers of these three large hospital that says:
“If you have a medical emergency you have a right to receive treatment at this place”.
But added in smaller print is “within the capabilities of this hospital’s staff and facilities”.
By ridding themselves of psychiatric and mental health treatment and staff
They can now refuse the poor and marginalized in mental health crisis
The three local health systems say: “there is no room in the inn or hospital for persons with major mental illness,
We only take those ill when we can make more money. Got to Jail”


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When Will Milwaukee Start Replacing Lead Water Service Lines that are Poisoning Our Children? - Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Last Friday I attended a Common Council Water Quality Task force and asked this question, which I thought was the goal of Task Force and community groups. This letter to Mayor, which was ignored by him and city officials, sums up their response.

Dear Mayor,
Last weekend I met a young father who had done what he could do to protect his young son from lead poisoning. He had a lead free of paint house, had a water filter for lead in kitchen and used bottled water; yet when his son was tested the child was found to have over 5 micgrograms per deciliter, dangerous amount of lead in his blood. As you know up to 20% of children, 6 and under, tested in predominately African American zips had dangerous amount of lead in blood.

I was present last summer when Alderman Hamilton formed the water quality tax force of Common Council to come up with a comprehensive pan, over time, to replace all lead water pipes. I was disappointed in the City of Milwaukee when there was no funds City 2017 budget to replace lead water pipes in residential, except for some day care centers and broken or leaking lead water service pipes.

So at the public hearing portion of the Water Quality Committee meeting today I asked the simple and direct question: When is the City of Milwaukee going to develop a plan and fund it to replace lead water service lines? The chairmen said there was no dialog with committee but nevertheless he would answer my question. After some back and forth he said that you, Mayor, would present a 2018 budget to the City Council next September that would have some money in it and Common Council would review it. When he saw the expression on my face he said that perhaps I did not understand the process and to wait till next September. The expression on my face was not due to not knowing the process but to the fact this was that this was the same answer that in 2016, Alderman Hamilton, you and others had given us, about the 2017 City Budget. Some had even given specific suggestions to you and Council Members of how the City could finance over about a 20 year period the replacement of all lead lateral water pipes. Yet there was no money in 2017 budget to begin this process for the nearly 70,000 residential homes, mostly in African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods. All the time, I read in the newspaper about city property taxpayer money going for economic development in the predominately white neighborhood of downtown Milwaukee. No one tells developers seeking profits to wait till the next budget year.

So now I ask you Mayor and the Council Members:
When will the City of Milwaukee develop a comprehensive plan and fund it to replace all lead lateral water pipes in residential homes? I have attached a “racial division” spreadsheet showing the connection between lead water pipes in racially divided neighborhoods and the relationship to high lead blood levels, Homicide, poverty and unemployment rate, city TIF investments and educational achievement.

Ignore or marginalize me the messenger, the problem will not go away until City Officials stop talking, blaming, crying poor and spending money on PR and turn around (repent) the direction of this city and do something it.

I have done other research, have maps and contacts to share. Just let me know if you are interested or care.

Bob Graf

Comments

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Failure to Admit Racism - Sunday, February 12, 2017


Last Sunday in the Crossroads section of the local newspaper there was an opinion article called “Most Segregated Metro Area,It is Just Not That Simple”. In my opinion this editorial represented of a fundermental problem in Milwaukee, refusing to admit racism and segregation and justifying it. Here is my Letter to the Editor that was not printed.

Dear Editor,
Mr. Gurda’s essay in Sunday’s Crossroads, “Most segregated” Yes, but….” Illustrates the real problem we have with segregation in Milwaukee, failure to acknowledge the problem. He compares Milwaukee’s African American to immigrant communities, German and Polish that once were the majority on North and South side. Many African American ancestors were brought to USA as slaves and did not enjoy the rights of German and Polish Americans immigrants. He calls for more jobs in the African American community, which all can agree. However he fails to mention while the city of Milwaukee invest $3.85 million dollars for economic development (TIF) in two predominately white Zips 53202 and 53203 it only invests $1.5 million dollars for economic development in two, 53206 and 53210, predominately, African American zips. If city was aware of a toxic poison affecting children in predominately white neighborhoods do you think the city would hesitate to solve it? But there is such a problem in the African American neighborhoods with lead water pipes yet the city has no money in 2017 budget and no plans to replace residential lead water pipes. There is a reason why Milwaukee is the worst city to be a black person and to raise a black child. It is! Failure to admit segregation and institutional racism is the problem in Milwaukee.


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Right or Left? - Friday, January 13, 2017


Left or Right? Does it matter?

The Right won the Presidential Election in 2000
And we had endless wars, bombed countries, violence and terrorism, spying of citizens and disparity between poor and rich.
The Left won the election in 2008.
And we had more endless wars, bombed more countries, more violence and terrorism, more spying on citizens and more disparity between poor and rich.
The Right won the presidential election in 2016
And fear is growing of more war, more bombed countries, more violence and terrorism, more spying and more disparity between rich and poor.
When will learn that it does not matter, left or right, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative?
It is the “rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system”,
That continues to grow until we say No!

(Quote is from Dorothy Day, “Catholic Worker”, September, 1956)


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Fear Not Trump, Together We Can Overcome! - Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Gulf Residents Arrested
Telling Obama: More Drilling
Equals More Floods

Dear Friends,
I too was surprise that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. I understand how upset some of you are. However, I do understand the reaction some are indulging in, the name calling, the fear and hatred, the blaming of the President Elect for present problems, the extraordinary effort and money being put in to overcome the election results and all the energy to protest the President Elect now and in January, the President.

Where were you and all this energy the last eight years when we have seen the number of countries being bombed by the United States increase from four to seven; when the present administration was building three new nuclear bomb plants and a new small but deadly nuclear weapon; when public lands and water rights were being given out to fossil fuel companies; when the gap between the rich and poor widen; when poverty in African-American community got worst; when the president administration was approving record sales of arms, including cluster bombs and sophisticated planes to terrorist states like Saudi Arabia; when the assassination list drawn up at the White House once a week became the norm? This list can go on but your silence was overwhelming and heard by many of the oppressed here and around the world.

This is not true for many of you but for some, particularly those now screaming out of fear of Trump it is sadly true. Even on the local level Democrats ignoring the poor, failing to provide clean water to our children, investing property tax in white areas and ignoring minority neighborhoods has been met by silence. Yes, you have met, discussed, talked about some of this issue but where is the action or protest that you are now showing in fear of what might be with President Trump?

I do not mean to scold or shame any of you. However, I do not get all the anger and hate some of you have shown since the election. My understanding of nonviolence is that it is built on love, not hate, even love of enemies.

Some years ago, at the beginning of the Obama presidency I was at the School of Americas Watch (SOAWatch) event at Fort Benning in Georgia. One of the workshops was conducted by Colombian Union workers who had been deeply suppressed by the US backed government of the time. Someone attending the Workshop ask the workers if they had more hope of better treatment now that President Obama was in office. An organizer said he saw no major difference major between Republicans or Democrats administration in the USA in terms of what they did to oppressed people. He said the Republicans are more overt and loud about all the harm they are doing and the Democrats more indirect and quiet. But the results were the same. In the USA the old Jim Crow of overt racism and the new Jim Crow of mass incarceration are equally evil and destructive.

So I say to all friends struggling against injustice and for peace the last eight years in silence or by action, let us work together. Recently by a bipartisan majority, “The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” was passed by the Senate and House working together. President elect Trump has talked about taking resources for war and diverting them to infrastructure and about dropping out of the new Pacific trade agreement that was a fast tracked and done in secret. Yes we must protest war and injustice and stay awake and alert. However, let us not personalize it as was done by some on the right to the left. Our values, our consistent life ethic for some, must continue. Hate and fear cannot overcome hate and fear. Only by faith, even when we despair, only by hope, even in dark times, and only by love, even of our enemies we can, in word and action, overcome.

Fear not Trump friends, together, left and right, Republican and Democrat, conservative or liberal, we can overcome. We are the ones we are looking for.

In Justice and Peace,

Bob Graf


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Flowers Forever - Saturday, December 03, 2016


Flowers come and go in our rain garden but a variety of flowers have been blooming since mid-March through mid-November this year. Now, hopefully flowers from the garden that we have dried out will last is till next March when the fresh flowers appear again.

Drying fall flowers is no great task but it gives the feel of flowers throughout the cold and snowing winters of Wisconsin. These dried flowers offer some hope that spring and flowers will return.

Perhaps better than taking D Vitamins these flowers offer a ray of sunlight and hope on dark winter days. These flowers smash the myth that you cannot have flowers in vases of the house in the winter.

These dried flowers are a reminder that there is always something to be grateful for, which I need in dry winter days. Perhaps, like these flowers, we can keep the spark of beauty in us when the days are short and nights are long.

In our hearts we need to keep some dried flowers of beauty when all seems lost. We can, as healthy flowers, retain our beauty, when life becomes ugly.

We need flowers forever, be they alive or dried, to keep us going.


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Comments

kranthi — 02 February 2009, 00:53

Dear Bob
Your experiences in India during Pilgrimage of Peace , your photographs, your experimenting with Indian food cooking very interesting. Your growing green salads using organic manure in this summer is highly appreciated by me.

(:commentboxchrono:)

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