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Related Categories: Americas | Santa Cruz Indymedia
Coming Together to Honor Local Activists
by amanda
Thursday Apr 19th, 2007 10:32 PM
On Saturday, April 14, Santa Cruz activists crowded into the First Congregational Church to honor some of their own local heroes. The evening was filled with good food, laughter and inspirational words from a variety of community members. The common link among all attendees: a love and respect for all peoples of the Americas.
On Saturday, April 14, Santa Cruz activists crowded into the First Congregational Church to honor some of their own local heroes. The evening was filled with good food, laughter and inspirational words from a variety of community members. The common link among all attendees: a love and respect for all peoples of the Americas.

Not only did the event bridge the seemingly ever-present divide between young and old, it brought together people from north and south Santa Cruz County. Said event organizer Lois Muhly, "The pulling together of the two ends of our county was an especially gratifying part of the whole proceedings. The more we can do this, the better our north south relations will be." It has been recognized, as evident in the formation of the Monterey Bay Latin America Support Network, that numerous groups in the county are involved in similar struggles and that more can be accomplished if everyone works together.

In all, five local heroes were honored by their respective organizations, Bill Burtch from the Santa Cruz Cuba Caravans, Takashi Yogi of the Cuba Study Group, Ramiro Madrona from the Watsonville Brown Berets, Colleen Crosby nominated by Three Americas, Inc, and Oscar Rios nominated by Barrios Unidos. Congressman Sam Farr also spoke and presented the award to the winner of the Three Americas essay contest, the prize being a scholarship to go on this year's Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba.

Santa Cruz Cuba Caravans organized the event to raise funds for the purchase of a bus for this year's trip to Cuba.
§Sam Farr
by amanda Thursday Apr 19th, 2007 10:32 PM
§Takashi and Friends
by amanda Thursday Apr 19th, 2007 10:32 PM
Cuba Study Group hero Takashi Yogi and friends
§Oscar Rios
by amanda Thursday Apr 19th, 2007 10:32 PM
Honored by Barrios Unidos, Oscar Rios was one of the first Latino member of the Watsonville City Council and has served as a local community organizer for many years.
by amanda Thursday Apr 19th, 2007 10:32 PM
Surrounded by her Brown Beret compañer@s, Paloma Medrano presented the Unsung Hero Award to her brother Ramiro. "I would not be who I am today if it weren't for him."
by amanda Thursday Apr 19th, 2007 10:32 PM
Ramiro Medrano of the Watsonville Brown Berets
by amanda Thursday Apr 19th, 2007 10:32 PM
Santa Cruz Cuba Caravan members and event organizers Nancy, Chris, and Rebecca.
by amanda Thursday Apr 19th, 2007 10:32 PM
From left to right: Congressman Sam Farr, Sarah Crosby-Baker, daughter of the late Colleen Crosby, Ramiro Medrano, scholarship winner Rob Huffman, Oscar Rios, Takashi Yogi

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Takashi Yogi (repost)
Thursday Apr 19th, 2007 11:25 PM
I bicycle to work daily from Live Oak to BC Tech on the westside. The quiet stretches of my route along the San Lorenzo River and Delaware Avenue allow me to think about problems in my work as a medical electronics engineer. I often have to evaluate electronic circuits to determine why they are not working well and how they could be improved. This analysis typically looks at the arrangement and interconnection of components rather than separating good ones from bad ones. I often say to myself, "There must be a better way to do this." I have spent over 50 years examining failures in everything from toasters to computers. After repairing thousands of these, I have found that most failures are not random, but inherent in the design.

I tend to look at the world with my perspective as an engineer. I see tremendous waste of resources and human lives in hunger, poverty and war. As I pedal along, I ponder the failures and search for alternative designs for the world. I see the great blue herons in the San Lorenzo River and ask why our societies cannot function as well as this bird. I see people on River Street waiting for work and ask why this is so. I occasionally get stuck in my car on Highway 1 and have time to think about the colossal failure of this design. I read about school budget cuts that eliminate sports and music programs and ask why our children are not our highest priority. What makes me sad and a bit angry is that we have the material resources, the technology, and the people to find solutions to these problems. I am convinced that with innovative designs, we could eliminate poverty, hunger, homelessness, pollution, and war, and find solutions that will last forever.

I got a glimpse of possible solutions when I traveled to Cuba as part of group that took pianos to the schools and repaired the broken pianos. Cuba has difficulty getting new pianos due the US blockade. However Cuba has excellent schools where children can get free piano lessons or violin lessons. Cuba also provides free medical care for everyone. I visited a medical school that provides free education not only for Cubans, but students world-wide, including some from the US. So there are plenty of doctors in Cuba, and enough to send to needy regions of the world. I saw a psychiatric facility that was clean and cheerful, and the residents were engaged in sports, crafts, and music. Another example of innovative thinking comes from Curitiba, Brazil, where planners restructured the city to provide transportation, affordable housing, parks, and recycling. They converted a slum built on a flood plain into a park and moved the people to affordable housing on higher ground. Poor people are paid to do recycling and are given bus tokens for their work. Buses run on dedicated lanes and are so fast and frequent that the majority of the people ride the bus. All this was done with minimal funding and disruption.

Solutions to problems can be blocked by thinking that the process is a fight for power, where one side wins and the other loses, or a compromise is reached where both sides are equal losers. Marshall Rosenberg, who developed Non-Violent Communication, points out that we all have roughly the same needs, such as food, shelter, security, but our strategies for meeting those need are often in conflict. Once we accept the validity of each other's needs, we can explore many ways to satisfy those needs mutually.

When I encounter an electronic circuit that doesn't work, I sometimes abandon the design and start over. Radical changes may be needed instead of minor adjustments. Sometimes a faulty design causes a part of the machine to fail. Simply replacing the part will not solve the problem because the part will eventually fail again. Similarly, social problems call for critical evaluation of the results of our policies. Perseverance can work against us if we are headed down dead-end paths. If at first you don't succeed, perhaps you need to try something different.

The world is changing rapidly. Globalization, energy, poverty, and population are some of the issues that are imperative. Will we persist in traditional solutions: more weapons, higher walls, more police, better locks? Will we fight over the last barrel of oil? Or will we dare to try new ways to meet the needs of all people? We have tremendous resources available today. Will we continue to squander those resources as we have in the past, or will we use those resources to create an abundant and sustainable future for everyone?
by Rep. Sam Farr, Thomas Leavitt, posted by Nors
Friday Apr 20th, 2007 1:07 PM
A few weeks ago, I asked one of Congressman Farr's staff members to tell me what level of funding cuts to the defense budget the Congressman would be willing to support.

It appears that, from the figures below, Congressman Farr thinks we should cut the "defense" budget (which doesn't include expenditures for the "wars" in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a host of other programs) by $60 billion, from $400 billion to $340 billion. 15% (less, in reality).
Leaving us still spending as much or more than the rest of the world, combined, far more than any of our "allies", and far far more than any of our "enemies" (China being the most prominent example).

Funding "cuts" of this level do nothing to dismantle the war machine, the military industrial complex, or even reverse the level of expenditures to that of the former Clinton administration, prior to the Bush buildup (not that Clinton/Gore were dedicated Defense budget busters themselves)..


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Congressman Farr's Response
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 10:24:11 -0400
From: Representative Sam Farr <imaca17 [at]>
To: <thomas [at]>

April 20, 2007

Mr. Thomas Van Ness Leavitt

P.o. Box 7095

Santa Cruz, California 95061-7095

Dear Thomas:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Common Sense Budget Act (HR 1702). You will be pleased to know that I will cosponsor this important bill to shave $60 billion from the approximately $400 billion defense budget and uses the savings to fund important domestic priorities like education, health care, retraining workers, increase funding for homeland security etc.

Funding the Defense Department is important for our national security, but current funding for the DOD includes significant misallocation of resources. Approximately $60 billion still goes towards achieving military superiority over the Soviet Union. The Cold War is long over, and our defense budget should reflect new priorities to reflect the changing security challenges that we face in a post 9/11 world.

A budget document is a reflection of a nation's priorities. On Thursday, March 29th, the House passed the Democratic Budget Resolution (H Con Res 99) that adopts and implements funding priorities that reflect the core values of our nation and provides a responsible fiscal blueprint to lead our nation out of deficit spending. H Con Res 99 restores funding for Veterans' benefits, Education programs, and the Environmental Protection Agency among many other important programs.

Please be assured that I will continue to fight for budgets that support American families and communities and please always feel free to contact me again regarding the budget or any other federal matter.


Member of Congress

Please be sure to visit my website at <>.

This is an official correspondence from Congressman Sam Farr. If you have any questions please contact our office

NOTE FROM ROBERT NORSE: Farr, also has voted FOR the Supplementary Military Appropriation for Iraq this year (which in the past he's voted against).

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