Oct 302013

November 9 talk at Wild Fig Bookstore

By Janet Tucker

On November 9, Jakobi Williams, a former faculty member in UK’s history department who is now an Associate Professor at Indiana University, will speak and sign from his book From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago at the Wild Fig Bookstore (1439 Leestown Road).

With the fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, there has been a renewed interest in the history of the Civil Rights and other race-based social movements.  Williams’ powerful book tells another and often overlooked part of that national racial history: that of the Black Panther Party in Chicago and the long history of racial segregation in Chicago. From the Bullet to the Ballot focuses much of this story on Fred Hampton, a charismatic, highly effective and visionary leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party (ILBPP) whose life was cut short by a brutal murder by the guns of police on December 4, 1969 at the young age of 21. (Hampton was shot while sleeping in bed.)

Speaking of the legacy of the ILBBP, Williams stated, “the story of the Illinois Panthers is a multifaceted one. So too is the chapter’s legacy, touching on race, poverty, and politics in Chicago and the nation.  Fred Hampton’s conviction that the Panthers had to ‘unite with as many people as possible’ as Jose Jimenez puts it, lay behind the three most significant elements of this legacy: the ILBPP survival programs (free breakfast, medical clinics, etc.); the influence on racial coalition politics (particular through the Rainbow Coalition), and its ongoing effect as a catalyst for 21st century racial and political conflict in Chicago.”

The talk is sponsored by Central Kentucky Restoration of Voting Rights Campaign (ROVRC).  Kentucky is one of only four states that choose to punish convicted felons by taking their voting rights away for life. This has led to a quarter-million Kentuckians who have lost their right to vote, including one in four African American Kentucky men.

This is a huge insult to our democracy.  As we work toward building a broader and better functioning democracy, these are important discussions to have. Let us come together and discuss this rich history and what it means for our democracy today.

Williams’ talk and book signing will take place at 4:00 pm, November 9, at Wild Fig Bookstore. Wild Fig is located at 1439 Leestown Road in the Meadowthorpe shopping center.

Oct 212013

On Tuesday September 17, NoC editor Danny Mayer unveiled design plans for an urban commons across from LexTran. Organized under the theme #FreeLexTran, the plans represented an amalgam of ideas generated through the Mayor’s Challenge, a Lexington-based urban design challenge announced in March. Mayer was granted 5 minutes of time by his District 1 council member Chris Ford to show-and-tell the idea to city council and mayor. The following are the text and images of his power point presentation, lightly revised.

Free-LextranCouncil-A-WEB Continue reading »

Oct 162013

An undiscovered gem in Eastern Kentucky

Patty emerges from Dawkins Tunnel. Photo by Dave Cooper.

Patty emerges from Dawkins Tunnel. Photo by Dave Cooper.

By Dave Cooper

The Dawkins Line Rail Trail, in Johnson and Magoffin Counties in eastern Kentucky, officially opened in June – but many Kentuckians still have not heard about it.

This 18-mile-long trail is a little gem in the mountains of eastern Kentucky: it’s our commonwealth’s longest rail trail, it’s in a beautiful and remote area, it’s very peaceful and quiet, and it is in pristine condition.

I first rode this trail solo in late August.  I enjoyed the trail so much that I went back the following weekend with my friend Patty and we rode it on a beautiful late summer day with just a hint of fall in the air: the ironweed and the Joe Pye weed along the trail’s edge were in their full glory, and the wooded sections of the trail were nice and cool and shady.  The trail is quite beautiful in spots, and it’s a low-key and enjoyable ride that is suitable for families and even small children. Continue reading »

Oct 092013

Saturday October 12, 2pm at the Robert F. Stephenson Courthouse plaza

"If they control seed, they control food." Vandana Shiva. Photo courtesy of April Browning.

“If they control seed, they control food.” Vandana Shiva. Photo courtesy of April Browning.

By April Browning

Monsanto, the world’s largest pesticide producer, is a multinational agricultural-based biotechnology corporation that has its sights set on nothing short of complete control of our seed—and, therefore, of total control over our food supply. To help it assert control over our food supply, the multinational company that already controls a large percentage of the world’s food supply has engaged in a number of nefarious practices.

Monsanto has made a habit of suing small time farmers out of business for what it (and a friendly court system) has called patent infringement:  the act of seed saving (something humans have been doing for thousands of years) or the natural act of pollen drift, which farmers have no control over. It has an overwhelming number of documented examples of unethical practices, of creating products that cause potential health risks, of contributing to mass deaths to livestock, of poisoning much of the world’s soil and the plants that grow from it, of Bee Colony Collapse Disorder, and much more. Its influence is underscored by the “revolving door” between the global food corporation and many government agencies here and abroad, which effectively allows the corporation to write its own legislation, mostly to the detriment of the common good of our people.

At 2:00pm on Saturday at the Robert F. Stephenson Courthouse plaza, Kentuckians Against Monsanto will host the Lexington version of the World Food Day March. In contrast to the global food giant, we will advocate the vital need for seed sovereignty, diversity, and control of our own life providing seeds. The march is a part of our mission to spread awareness and educate, while simultaneously to work on petitions and legislation to ask the Lexington city council and Kentucky state legislature to stand behind provisions that advocate for the labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs), which poll after poll consistently suggests a significant majority of Americans want to see labeled.

This is only the beginning in the fight against Monsanto and we fully intend to continue to demand that our representatives represent the desires of their constituents over their corporate owners. Whether you like it or not, chances are Monsanto contaminated the food you ate today with chemicals and unlabeled GMOs. Our movement is dedicated to empowering citizens of the world to take action against Monsanto and other agriculture-based corporations like Sygenta, Bayer, and Dupont.

Monsanto is a company that thinks it can get away with putting profits before people. According to Philip Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible.” They claim to be a company supporting sustainable agriculture, but their products have led to the exact opposite. After 20 years of GMOs and chemical fertilizer, people have decided enough is enough!

Please, join with us on Saturday at the courthouse. We will have a number of dynamic speakers and entertainment at the kid-friendly event. We hope to see you there.

Join us on facebook for updates and info.

Oct 042013

By Danny Mayer

Last month’s September publication will be North of Center’s last. Over the coming weeks, some unfinished and previously-planned articles will continue to be published to the website and Facebook page. Notwithstanding those backlog pieces, from here on out NoC will begin to fade away.

Oct 012013
"Earth/Text/Wood/News, study 4," a multi-media collage by Danny Mayer.

“Earth/Text/Wood/News, study 4,” a multi-media collage by Danny Mayer.

A story of the late Holocene

By Danny Mayer

“This is the only story of mine whose moral I know. I don’t think it’s a marvelous moral; I simply happen to know what it is: We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

Kurt Vonnegut


July 8, 2012, the day the story broke, it was hotter than shit.  103 degrees in Lexington, 15 above the historical average, the last of an 11 day stretch of day-time highs exceeding the norm by over 10 degrees. Continue reading »