Sunday, March 29, 2009

Art is for feelin'

We all know that Philly is not the only place Feelin' The Cuts. The current economic crisis is far-reaching, and cities all across the U.S. (and the world for that matter) are struggling to save important services for their residents while searching for creative ways to increase revenue (if taxes can be called creative...)

New York, for example, is facing a $1.2 billion deficit just on their transit system - the MTA. That's Philadelphia's 5 year budget deficit for the entire city that needs to be cut just out of New York's subways and buses. Now MTA is a lot more efficient than, say, SEPTA, so probably some service reductions will still ensure that the city continues to function. But during a recession, when many depend on public transit for an inexpensive and dependable means of getting around, some people are still going to be affected.

This article in the NY Times shows how two artists, Miranda Purves and Jason Logan, interpret the effect of the transit cuts on the MTA passengers Purves and her son have recently gotten to know. Instead of analyzing numbers, their simple drawing shows little details about the regular people who are being affected by the crisis in human ways, not huge economic ones.

I'm posting this here for two purposes: FIRST, to remind us that we are not alone, though our fight is still ours to fight! And SECOND, for inspiration - let's make art to show how and who in Philly is Feelin' it, to remind us that this is about people, not dollars.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Looking for youth to join the FTC Fam!

Hey guys! Just wanted to briefly touch base on what's going down in the next couple of weeks... We have some really cool events in the works, so stay tuned! But as of right now, we are looking for some creative, talented and passionate youth to join our team and help spread our mission--to encourage and educate youth and to provide an outlet for youth to share their voices. These times are particularly frustrating for youth and it is important to take advantage of our political rights and develop a youth perspective on the ongoing budget cuts.

One thing we're trying to put together is a type of youth forum, where we can discuss and debate issues concerning the current economic crisis and how this may affect the youth. We'll also be working closely with media, particularly blogging and film production. Tomorrow, Earla and I will be giving a presentation on Feelin' the Cuts and hopefully we can recruit some great people to help us achieve our goal.

Until next time!

Peace out xoxo

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Budget Cut Forums

Feelin' The Cuts went to two of the four budget cut meetings held last month: In the Northeast and in South Philly. People from the areas they were held in came out to speak their mind. These forums were different from the mayoral forums held in December because the mayor didn't attend any of them, which I can only imagine how relieved he was to not go to. The Mayor is catching alot of heat from every Tom, Dick and Rasheed over these cuts. It's understandable to be upset, but really, let the man do his job and try to help the cause instead of talking for the sake of talking. Nobody wants funding cut from whatever it is they do but it has to happen. It's crazy but that's how it is. Sometimes you have to sacrifice for the greater good, so at least try to be more understanding instead of raging about it... Sorry, I sometimes get off track, but it's cool because I always kill it with the funky-fresh perspective that knocks your socks off because of how right I am, lol.

But back to the forum...

Instead of the people voicing their opinions in the large group (which was roughly 400 people at both of the ones we attended), everyone was broken down into smaller groups. Once in the separate groups, we were asked to form our budget through discussing the issues on a paper that was given to us at the very beginning of the meeting. We were told that these would be taken into consideration while planning FY10 (Fiscal Year 2010). Even Michael Nutter said it! So if I find out otherwise, I will be deeply saddened by the people making the decisions. Who knows if I would ever be able to trust politicians after that? I surely don't. But, there were other ways to voice your opinion besides the groups. There was a video room, where you could talk abut what was on your mind regarding the budget crisis, as well as a "wailing wall," where you wrote out your thoughts on a small yellow piece of paper that was stuck to a board. So, if you really needed to get your voice heard, you had several means of doing so. Here's a link to the report given to Mayor Nutter regarding these forums.

Also, to explain how these forums worked, briefly, there were four categories:
  • Low-Hanging Fruit: Things that people could agree on being cut;
  • No Way, No How: Things that people could agree on NOT cutting;
  • Gut-Wrenchers and "Share the Pain" were things that were either tough to cut, but you cut them anyway (Gut-Wrenchers), or you were more willing to cut them ("Share the Pain").
The goal was to get to 100 points and cover all of the topics (in less than 2 hours), but alot of times it didn't work out that way. In the groups that I worked in, the first got to 40 and the second got to maybe 15. It was difficult.

My personal thought about these meetings, initially, was that it was going to be boring and really unproductive because people wouldn't get heard like they thought they would get heard... Especially the YOUTH(!!!), who were far and few in between at these things. If I may go off track for a minute... ("Yes you can, Cee!") young people need to be more involved in stuff like this because, basically, these politicians and such are the people that essentially run your life. If you don't get out and tell them what you need, they'll give you what they think you need. A lot of people say that children are the future, but honestly, I don't believe they believe that... But that's another blog for another time. So, to finish up here, I'm encouraging young people, wherever you are reading this, to get informed about your city government because if you don't step up, then you or your younger siblings/cousins/friends won't be at the pool in the summer, or playing ball in the rec center, or even going to the library to read Green Eggs and Ham and other Pulitzer-worthy literature. Definitely, if you're young and have any sort of ambition about what you do or want to do, you need to learn how it's done and what they're doing to make it possible (or not possible) for you.

There was also food to keep us happy!

The Awesome Feelin' The Cuts crew