Category Archives: blog

Responsibly Photographing Our Homeless

When I took a photo of Michael, aka “Dreadlock Mike” a few years before he was murdered by a hit and run driver – I asked him for permission, because I knew how impactful his photo would be in my life. What I mean is not so much the photograph itself. It is the connectivity we have with each other in all our conditions as humans.

Michael, 2012 Fuzzytek Photography

Michael, 2012 Fuzzytek Photography

I’d seen Michael around the streets plenty over a decade or more, and he had come to recognize me as well. I had changed from being employed at Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan (roughly 1986 – 2004), to taking up being a freelance photographer, and subsequently from 2011 known more as a community activist. I was fascinated by a photographer’s exhibition at the Russell Industrial Center which contained a lot of photos of  Michael, this was after taking this single photo. I suppose my fascination was that I had a barrier to cross for a single photo, and I was encircled by many.

Not long after going into photography (2005) I saw the website Lightstalking.org and became engaged reading about photographers working in so many ways helped me immensely. There were war correspondents, fashion photographers, and so much more connecting through the site. It seemed many were traveling from place to place and connecting through the site for a temporary place to stay while on assignment. You might imagine the perks of coachsurfing to stay with another person sharing your passion and having equipment they might offer use of on the trip. Additionally you get localized during the stay and that can carry so much depth into the photos taken when you are familiar with the issues.

A photographer contact shared this post “Let’s Think a Little Deeper Before Photographing the Homeless” from the website Lightstalker.com. I admit to being tripped by the similar name for the blog and Lightstalking community website.

Lessons from Occupy Detroit

When I wrote the following blog post September 20, 2012 at Occupy This Blog I used the photograph of Michael above:

There are so many issues being faced by Detroit and it seems everyone wants to offer advice into the situation. It gets rather difficult to understand the stands around the issues until you look at the level of personal investment and capability of support had by those speaking and taking a stand.

Who Holds An Invested Interest?

  • City of Detroit residents
  • Workers in the city
  • Metropolitan are residents
  • Workers in metropolitan Detroit
  • Employers in the city
  • Employers in the metro area
  • People that formerly worked in Detroit or in the metro area
  • People considering coming to Detroit or the metro area
  • People who may invest in Detroit’s future in some manner
  • Curious bystanders – oddly this may be one of the largest populations if you follow comment posts made about Detroit that somehow seem to think it should be removed from the face of the planet
James Cole is a lawyer and activist

James Cole is a lawyer and civil rights fighter

I think that covers just about all the angles, and I’ll say that the weight of personal investment runs highest from the top of the list to the bottom. Those that are at the top of the list quite often have a tough time hearing solutions from people with what is perceived to be a lessor personal investment. That’s common in every community – those impacted directly are undeniably affected the most.

How To Occupy And Support?

Every position has the ability to learn through listening prior to (or while) proposing solutions to issues. Sometimes it will seem like a lot of venting going on with little solution. People just want to see change happen and positive results, be that in the removal of issues or growth of opportunities. Personal accounts can be valuable lessons to those whom haven’t had to deal with them.

Michael, 2012 Fuzzytek Photography

For example, today I was in a meeting regarding public transportation and we had several handicapped members attending. I mentioned that many of us don’t personally encounter the difficulty these people do daily until we “break a foot”, then we experience it for a brief spell and can go back to how we’ve known access. We have to consider with some handicap situations there is no “brief time” in the concerns raised. Things won’t just get better unless we do something that makes it better for us. In doing that for ourselves, are we then making it more difficult for others or improving for everyone?

Coming up with a least common denominator (LCD) solution is going to be the answer, however even that can be troubling or difficult to implement. Moderating a discussion to find that LCD can be difficult with a wide number of personal encounters and opinions. This is where consensus building enters and that is one area Occupy movements have championed worldwide. Everyone has a stake in creating a position and taking actions on it that unify. 

Can A Revolution Be Consented?

Jasahn Larosa from This Hood Of Ours

Jasahn Larosa from This Hood Of Ours

One of the concerns is that radical measures may be tough to get passed by consensus. We may be able to inspire a revolution, but personal risks and encounters can stand in the way of being in the active wave of revolution. It takes radical and passionate action that sometimes sees the consequences and is willing to accept that being revolutionary is dangerous. Those that see they can’t take the risks may choose to stand aside or offer support with limited involvement. All of these positions are helpful and needed for revolutionary action and should not be discounted. They are a reflection of personal investment in the situation and may end up changing the allies in your life as you mount an assault on society’s standards.

I’d like to ask people reading to support the world you’d like to see and be as active as you possibly can. You’ll meet people along the way, listen to new ideas, hear testimony, and hopefully be able to offer testimony yourself providing encouragement.


Becoming The Change Desired

I wrote the above two and a half years ago and the conditions at the time – Emergency Manager and Detroit Bankruptcy – have passed, but the impact of these hasn’t changed what intended above. I can say that I’ve been going through personal evolution myself and seeing the power of full and complete dialogue.

Living As a Peace Maker

The only way to get to complete dialogues is through healing and consciousness. We have to connect with the essence of human life in its individual experiences – being mindful that each of us has had encounters that shape the reality we are living. There’s going to be a lot of hurt and denial. Some dialogues bring up pain that we end up healing over and over. Even the notion of going through that path again leads to stress. We avoid confrontation with stress as much as we can. We bond with and circle our selves with those whom we’ve had the most healing and find unity of perspective with.

There’s a problem that happens when highly active people and their communities push back and deny confronting difficult dialogues in our lives. The potential for great work to be done starts to limit how it can occur. The willingness and conditions we place on making progress take on monumental proportions because community acceptance is integral to the respect we carry. This is why consciousness raising for communities is critical and the ability to continue to accept and respect outlying perspectives from community members as a path for evolution.

Consulting “the Elders”

Quite often acceptance has to be sought from elders in the community, those whom we honor with wisdom from their experience of perspectives changing through life and it’s encounters. Those with many encounters and great variations in perspective truly do carry wisdom and age can be inconsequential.

Community status is carried and the gateways for acceptance can be guarded by the elders. You can risk much when proving something outside what is accepted.


I’m going to leave “the chase down the rabbit hole” for another series of posts on consciousness. Bringing this post full circle back to responsibility as a photographer.

Overstepping The Triggers For Social Concern

There will be times that a photographer oversteps the boundaries which society finds comforting. Photographing the homeless, destitute, least privileged, our youth, our elders, the infirm, and those dying or dead – these are triggers for societal concerns. I can even say there are lifestyle choices that are hard to photograph.  Some will ask why didn’t the photographer move from observing to being involved. Finding consent sometimes isn’t just with the subject or society, it rests in the photographer’s psyche. As a photographer, my experience is that we carve out what we are comfortable with and how we work with that subject material. Our perceptions are also evolving and that may influence our comfort as well. Some photographs bring thoughts that trigger self-healing and the journey of life – they can raise our consciousness. This can also happen communally.

Clarification: PROTECTORS not protesters

There are some fine points in how people relate to the activities of those whom are engaged in social justice. Unfortunately many people are listening to the mainstream media news calling people protesters. When protesters are active on negative conditions it creates a double negative, leading to a positive intent. Those approving of negative conditions are deserving of protest when awareness does not lead to creating a solution.

Can we go through some definitions — Protester1)protester. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved May 15 2015 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/protester

pro·test (prə-tĕst′, prō-, prō′tĕst′)

v. pro·test·ed, pro·test·ing, pro·tests
v.tr.

  1. a. To express a strong objection to (something): protest a job assignment.
    b. To participate in a public demonstration in opposition to (something): Thousands protested the election fraud. See Synonyms at object.
  2. To promise or affirm earnestly, as after being doubted: “He continually protested his profound respect” (Frank Norris).
  3. Law To declare an objection and reservation of rights of (a claim being made) while taking an action that would otherwise imply consent or agreement.
  4. Archaic To proclaim or make known: “unrough youths that even now / Protest their first of manhood” (Shakespeare).
v.intr.

  1. a. To express a strong objection.
    b. To participate in a public demonstration in opposition to something.
  2. To make an earnest avowal or affirmation.
n. (prō′tĕst′)

  1. A formal declaration of disapproval or objection issued by a concerned person, group, or organization.
  2. A public demonstration or organized effort to show disapproval about something, especially a governmental policy or practice.
  3. Law A declaration of objection and reservation of rights, made when action would otherwise imply consent or agreement: payment under protest.

[Middle English protesten, from Old French protester, from Latin prōtestārī : prō-, forth; see testari in Indo-European roots).]

pro′test′er n.
pro·test′ing·ly adv.

Protector

In contrast the definition for protector2)protector. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved May 15 2015 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/protector:

pro·tec·tor

also pro·tect·er  (prə-tĕk′tər)

n.

  1. One who protects; a guardian.
  2. A device that protects; a guard.
  3. Protector
    a. A person who rules a kingdom during the minority of a sovereign.
    b. The head of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1653 to 1659.

pro·tec′tor·al adj.
pro·tec′tor·ship′ n.

Contrast in Terms

The contrast is fairly obvious with protester carrying negative weight and protector seen as benevolent (in terms of our social constructs). However when our society has suffered egregious harm from those assumed to be protectors through the passage of laws, enforcing policy / procedures that cause suffering to the public ~ the need for guardians of the public interest is needed. 

Ready To Protect by Alais Clay
Stephen Boyle speaking at March Against Monsanto rally 2013-10-12.

Stephen Boyle speaking at March Against Monsanto rally 2013-10-12

How we act as protectors is by listening to the public as peers seeking to assist. We research the issues. We bring the voices of those not heard up through rallies and in what we write. We seek mainstream media coverage, we rally and organize. We realize many of those channels are controlled by the companies and government that is profiting from business continuity.

Industrial Capitalism and It’s Waste

Marathon DHOUP 2014-06-18

Marathon DHOUP 2014-06-18

We’ve seen Detroit and SouthEast Michigan targeted for industrial capitalism, and there really hasn’t been any relief offered by those who claim to protect. Our region of the State of Michigan has the most pollution, including the 3rd “dirtiest zip code” in the nation 48217. Industry upon industry emitting into a toxic soup of air and water pollution has made it difficult to point a finger at where the problem lies. It truly does lie with the policies of environmental regulators who continue to allow nonattainment areas to exist with new Permits To Install (usually adding pollution). If you head to the bottom of the Michigan chart on this Green Book from the EPA you’ll see Sulfur Dioxide in Wayne County has not been within limits the entire monitoring period since 1992 on the chart. IMG_0883Sulfur dioxide in concentration or over an extended time burns the skin. When it mixes with water it creates sulfuric acid. There are a number of environmental justice groups here and they are doing their best to be protectors, however harm still heads our way destroying the health of families and environment now and into the future. When you speak negatively about negative conditions – you’re stating a positive.

We’d like to see solutions in our dialogue, but first it is going to take mainstream media and our government (failing to be protectors) correcting the language used around the public PROTECTORS and guardians of our commons — the air, water, food, shelter, and education we need. There is a healing process involved and it shows up when perspectives are shared, heard, understood and taken into account.

References   [ + ]

1. protester. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved May 15 2015 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/protester
2. protector. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved May 15 2015 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/protector

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org and hosting

wordpress-logo-hoz-rgbSometimes the notion of WordPress can simply be confusing. Just a little disambiguation can help quite a bit.

  • Consumer version at wordpress.com that offers very basic posting. There’s no plugins and limited theme support. The good thing is that it is free. Another good thing is that posts through this tend to swim in a stream of other wordpress.com sites that might end up bringing you additional following and sharing of your posts. You can bring these sites over to a custom domain that can be purchased through either wordpress or by a reseller (such as myself, read below).
  • Developer version at wordpress.org is what I’m most familiar with. It requires website hosting, look below for more about that. The beauty for a developer is being able to work with a vast array of plugins, themes and site settings that can enable richer content, better sharing, and features that are only open through wordpress.org and similar development resources.

I started this post through WordPress.com and came over to my hosted administration panel because I wanted to include an image in the post that I knew I had in my library already. Access to those pre-existing images wasn’t easily possible through the wordpress.com editor’s interface. If I knew the address for the image I could include it, but I get better accessibility over on my hosted admin editor. 

Website Hosting Services

As a hosting reseller I can setup a site for you, simply buy a domain, or turn over a CPANEL (Control Panel) that lets you go about hosting in a number of ways. So the first step is to consult with you about what your interests are and how to best serve those. WordPress isn’t the only solution I can assist with – there are many website tools that can be worked with and I can discuss what I’ve worked with and why I’ve made choices along the way.

  1. “I just need a domain and to have it pointed at an existing site” – this usually isn’t too much work to get the website named as you wanted. What is missing here is the conversation about email service using that domain. Since you own the domain, why not the email for it too?? There are additional conversation topics like subdomains and such that can be approached as needed – which few people consider.
  2. “I need a website setup with some basic graphics” – the assumption here is that you’ll be writing your own content or are trying to move a site from another host to something you’ll have more control over.
  3. “I’m not sure what a CPANEL is but I think I want that” – this is where consulting with you about the interests shows up and being truthful and revealing helps a lot in meeting your needs. If you’ve got one site or fifteen to be hosted there’s obviously going to be a little difference in what we’re talking about. It gets down to some training, guidance and support.
  4. If you are a skilled website developer, getting a hosting account through me does allow you to setup multiple websites and buy additional domains. One perk is advertising coupons that might be used to reimburse expenses that you’ve paid to me. My costs are very reasonable and I do my best in being fair and reasonable with pricing. If we’re both succeeding that’s what brings me joy.

If you’re interested in working with me, give me a call at 313-757-2619 or send an email to info@fuzzytek.com

UN Human Rights Council review of United States of America

The live broadcast of the Universal Periodic Review of the United States of America has just begun in Geneva Switzerland. 

This is the second UPR of the United States since the UPR process began in 2006 for each member nation of the United Nations. The troika – or three country delegates assisting the U.S. review – were selected in January 2015 (Botswana, Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia).

Webcast via UN Web TV

Archive link for video

USA UPR Adoption – 22nd Session of Universal Periodic Review

Clarifications to the recommendations through the trioka reviewing the UPR of the United States of America on May 15, 2015. 

Addressing 346 recommendations. Oral amendments were agreed upon and reviewed. A preliminary response from Ms. Kathleen Hooke, Assistant Legal Adviser for Human Rights and Refugees at the U.S. Department of State. In her statement she indicates due to the number of recommendations and work involved a detailed response will be coming in September 2015. The recommendations will be grouped by topic and worked on by at least 12 federal agencies, and experts outside the government. There will be an outreach to civil society and take into consideration their views.

Working draft of the recommendations, from UPR-Info.org (update expected May 29, 2015)

Please note this post at Fuzzytek.com will be updated!


United States Response and Interaction with UPR

President Obama addressing the United Nations General Assembly:1)Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly, Whitehouse transcript, September 26, 2014

We welcome the scrutiny of the world — because what you see in America is a country that has steadily worked to address our problems, to make our union more perfect, to bridge the divides that existed at the founding of this nation.  America is not the same as it was 100 years ago, or 50 years ago, or even a decade ago.  Because we fight for our ideals, and we are willing to criticize ourselves when we fall short.  Because we hold our leaders accountable, and insist on a free press and independent judiciary.  Because we address our differences in the open space of democracy — with respect for the rule of law; with a place for people of every race and every religion; and with an unyielding belief in the ability of individual men and women to change their communities and their circumstances and their countries for the better.

In 2010 a number of recommendations were offered through the UPR, today a review of the progress the country has made on these and more. While the State Department offers its response to the recommendations, it does not provide the requests which were rejected. The United States Human Rights Network has provided these rejected requests.

United Nations Responses and Requests

Each country’s embassy to the UN has the ability to offer verbal comment today – however due to the number of requests for comment these are limited to one minute five seconds each. 

Updates While Live Coverage Watched

Additional References

References   [ + ]

1. Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly, Whitehouse transcript, September 26, 2014

WordPress Updates

Many people using WordPress may not explore or fully realize the wonders of keeping the software up to date. Wordpress-Update-Recycle-474pxVersion updates may seem to fly through so rapidly there’s no hope of keeping up. That’s where working with someone like myself becomes a huge bonus in productivity.

WordPress 4.2 Update

This video from WordPress describes some of the new and revised features in this most recent release. If you are a bit apprehensive about making the update, give me a call at 313-757-2619 and schedule a maintenance consultation appointment for $25. I keep my rates flexible, because the power of your website rests in your hands as the content creator.

TSU Invitation – Mindful acceptance of your invite!

tsu-logoI have had close friends ask me to accept the invitation to join Tsu through the Detroit Water Brigade link. I should have used THAT link rather than search Google Play and finding the TSU VIP Invitation app (by UTDsoft.com). I setup a profile on TSU using this invite app and I don’t believe I’m in the “family tree” desired. I’m realizing the mistake made by using the wrong invitation into the online community.

My tsū invitation to you!

mistakesThis is my tsū invitation link: http://tsu.co/fuzzytek. I can be referred to as @fuzzytek in posts. I’m working on setting up profile presences and family trees related. We’ll see how it goes. My “parent in my tsū family tree” supports the #DetroitWater cause which I truly have passion for, and wish my content to contribute toward.

Getting Paid to Post Content on Tsū

This video from @DrLupo helps clarify the revenue sharing model tsū is using.

My invitation link is http://tsu.co/fuzzytek

Consumer Experiences Are Growing More Remote

The Detroit area is seen by some as a bellweather for a number of conditions. Shopping malls sprouted up in upwardly mobile suburban destinations pulling consumers to experience “a day shopping at the mall”. They have been a common destination around the holidays for buying presents for everyone on your list.

However there’s been a remarkable shift in our buying habits. Online shopping has become more common place. As the internet bounced to life in the 1990’s consumers were extremely wary of putting their information online. Many cautiously created pseudonyms and kept our financial transactions offline. During the 2000’s confidence grew. People were finding jobs online (for example through Monster) and realizing if they practice some simple security and held online vendors to account. In roughly 20 years since the birth of the graphic internet the amount of online sales escalates daily and “offline” shopping experiences are fading as a result. Amazon reported $243.8 million in daily sales in 2014. 1)Marketwatch, annual financials for Amazon

Dead and Dying Shopping Malls

A handful of metro Detroit’s dying malls were demolished in the past decade and redeveloped into open-air big box retail centers, such as the former Livonia Mall, the Universal Mall in Warren and Wonderland Mall in Livonia.2)Detroit Free Press, Aug 5, 2014 – “Metro Detroit malls that once thrived now fight to survive”

Summit Place Mall

Dave Hills, Waterford building inspector, left, places a condemnation sign on one of the eastern main entrances of the Summit Place Mall as John Phebus, Waterford Regional Fire Dept. lieutenant inspector, looks on. 1/5/15 Photo by Carol Hopkins, The Oakland Press

Summit Place Mall in Pontiac now has a condemned notice posted. The mall spans nearly 2 million square feet at the intersection of Telegraph and Elizabeth Lake Roads. 3)Oakland Press, Jan 6, 2015 – “Condemned: Waterford officials post notices on Summit Place Mall”

Northland Center Mall

Macy’s is one of those “anchor” stores that malls seek out… however the retailer is making the shift away from brick-and-mortar to embrace online sales. 4)Huffington Post, Jan 9, 2015 – “Here’s A List Of All The Macy’s Stores That Are Closing In 2015”170 sales associates at Northland Center Mall are seeking work now as the store prepares to close next month. Another anchor store, Target, closed earlier this month.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Wendy Potts said she saw few alternatives to closing the shopping landmark, as the mall is losing nearly $250,000 a month and will lack any anchor stores once Macy’s leaves

Northland’s court-appointed receiver will soon begin issuing 30-day eviction notices to the remaining 70 or so stores.

Northland Mall was deemed in receivership today and its tenant stores notified they would be forced to close. There are three potential parties interested in the mall, including the City of Southfield.

Northland Center opened in 1954 and was expanded and enclosed in the early 1970s.

After years of decline, the mall fell into receivership last fall after defaulting on a $31-million loan.

The property has been owned since late 2008 by a subsidiary of New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition, which also owns Eastland Center mall.

It would take an estimated $6 million or more to restore Northland to a “functioning shopping mall” due to the extent of the building’s deterioration. The mall also has $3 million in unpaid bills, including $700,000 in overdue water bills. 5)Detroit Free Press, Feb. 25, 2015 – “Judge approves plan to close Northland Center mall”

#DetroitWater – Corporate vs Residential

Detroit residents face the very real possibility of having the water on their homes shutoff if their balance is $150 or more for more than 2 months. Upwards of 300,000 Detroit residents have had their water shutoff since the aggressive shutoff contract with Homerich was approved. This contract was brought before the Detroit Bankruptcy court proceedings and Judge Rhodes ruled it as a fair and legal process by the City of Detroit.

However the same manner of treatment for corporate customers doesn’t exist. Northland Mall hasn’t had a day when the water was shutoff for non-payment of the outstanding water bill now at $700,000, which isn’t likely to be collected.

References   [ + ]

1. Marketwatch, annual financials for Amazon
2. Detroit Free Press, Aug 5, 2014 – “Metro Detroit malls that once thrived now fight to survive”
3. Oakland Press, Jan 6, 2015 – “Condemned: Waterford officials post notices on Summit Place Mall”
4. Huffington Post, Jan 9, 2015 – “Here’s A List Of All The Macy’s Stores That Are Closing In 2015”
5. Detroit Free Press, Feb. 25, 2015 – “Judge approves plan to close Northland Center mall”

Michigan Dreaming of Education Nightmares

State of Michigan is pursuing an overhaul of the education system. These plans appear to exclude public involvement and serve an agenda that education is where the money is (but don’t tell anyone that).

Public schools are crucial in educating toward a successful future. Anything else is catering to private interests. Learning in a closed environment dictated by state and large corporations limits results and miseducates through avoidance. Public Schools develop minds with open parachutes.

The Detroit News article states “first identify the problem”. 30 people selected through Skillman Foundation – wouldn’t that mean a focused source for who is included? There are two advisors who will filter what they hear when working with Governor Snyder on suggestions by end of March.

This entire approach is the problem! There is a view by the journalist, and apparently supported by The Detroit News that State management limiting access and control of public schools us key to success. Detroit has had State management of Detroit Public Schools for several generations of students, roughly 25 years. This is enough to create a permanent cultural shift in the city. One which has a massive truancy problem and entices students with gifts for coming in on Count Day. More parents see homeschooling as required.

Funding PUBLIC Education

Why is there a $285 million surplus in Student Aid fund? Could it be real needs in the existing system were not met? Perhaps underfunding set the stage for this restructuring activity. If you can prove things aren’t working you gain listening toward changing the system.

NoEAAschools-logoLgMore restructuring to wipe out the existing elected school board simply says the voice of the people is being squashed. The School Board meets in public and has forum for all voices to be heard. Allow the local board to work with this “portfolio of schools” and demonstrate fiscal responsibility publicly. How transparent are charter schools or the State’s EAA district?

Michigan is targeting more experiments in its education system. Don’t forget the “Skunk Works” project following Snyder’s education vision. It was scuttled quickly and evidence lost.

Education working from a real world example is VITAL for Detroit resurgence and the State economy. Why should we consistently hear business saying they need to import skilled new staff?