Indiana Youth Group is a social advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth that has been around since 1987. They provide lots of important services to help young LGBT people in Indiana, including counseling and social services for at risk youth, advocacy on their behalf in schools, and health education. IYG has been a big part of the lives of several generations of LGBT folks. I was a part of IYG when I was young, as was Zach Adamson, our esteemed city-county council member, business owner and the first openly gay men to be elected to public office in Indiana.
IYG’s executive director is Mary Byrne, a pillar of the LBGT community for decades. She was the producer of the National Women’s Music Festival for years, and also owned Outword Bound, the LBGT bookstore where Stephanie and I met. Mary was also my landlady for five years, which is why I have personal reason to know IYG is in strong, safe, competent hands. The organization has done good work in Indiana for decades, and like other youth advocacy non-profit organizations, they seek out important sources of fundraising from the community.
A few years ago, IYG applied for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles Specialty Plates program. This program is a win-win for the state of Indiana and for non-profit organizations. They produce specialty plates at a low cost, and members of the non-profit and their communities can promote the plates and receive part of the revenue, with the rest of the profit benefiting Indiana. Specialty plates have become an important part of fundraising for non-profit organizations, and an important revenue source for Indiana as well.
IYG had to fight to get accepted into the program – they were initially denied entrance into the program by arbitrary changes in the requirements and a lack of transparency about what the requirements were, and IYG had to go to court to get accepted. It became clear during the legal fight that the BMV’s lack of transparency and arbitrary rule changes were based on homophobia. IYG’s acceptance into the program ended up making national headlines.
Unfortunately, IYG’s new specialty plate didn’t sit well with homophobic people in Indiana, and especially not with homophobic members of the the Indiana State Legislature, who immediately began seeking ways to prevent plates from being issued beyond the first year, and began drafting legislation to alter the way that specialty plates were issued, hoping exclude IYG in future years. Homophobes eventually struck gold, canceling IYG’s ability to issue plates based on another lack of transparency in the rules – organizations were not allowed to issue number plates to organization members who had given them support; something that is a regular practice among non-profits. In addition to canceling IYG’s plates, two other organizations, The Indiana Greenways Foundation and the Indiana 4-H Foundation also had their plates canceled for the same reason. Both organizations believe they were just caught in the homophobic crossfire. Karen Bohn, head of the Greenways Foundation, said she believed the real target was the gay youth group. “I think we were just collateral damage,” she said. “Unfortunately it doesn’t seem very fair.”
All three organizations were in negotiations with the BMV to have their plates reinstated when this past week, those negotiations were abruptly canceled by the BMV, who cited the state legislature’s new licensing commission, run by the state legislature, who will be the final approval for specialty plates. Under the new commission rules, Greenways and 4-H will probably get their specialty plates back, but even state legislatures admit that IYG will be denied due to homophobia:
“It depends on the committee makeup,” [Valparaiso Republican Rep. Ed] Soliday said. “I’d be disingenuous if I didn’t say there are some legislators who are very, very anti-IYG. I tried to separate the legislation from IYG for two years, and there were other folks who constantly wanted to drag it back in.”
It’s official – Governor Pence signed SB 621, the bill that drastically reworks Indianapolis city government to take power away from the Indianapolis City-County Council and hand it over to the Mayors office. If you want to understand a bit more about what this bill does, read more about it here: [The Brutal Republican Power Grab of Indiana Senate Bill 621 (SB 621)]
Congratulations, folks. We now have a Mayor King. You don’t need to worry about what’s going on in city government, because you won’t be able to change it anyway. Your council districts are so gerrymandered that only Republicans can get elected in Marion County, and so much power has been redirected to the Mayors office that the city council and other public offices are rendered impotent anyway.
Also, the rules about how long you have to live in Indianapolis before running for office have been relaxed drastically – so it’s now easy for the white folks who live in Carmel and Fishers and rural areas to “hop the line” and “reside” in Marion County just long enough to get into office and control politics, without actually having to live for very long next to the poors and the blacks and the Mexicans. Because god forbid rich white folks might have to mix with the great unwashed. Rule them via imperial fiefdom – yes. Live next to them? Certainly not.
Speaking of Indianapolis infrastructure – here is some news on a public works project that actually creates a positive impact on a large chunk of the city – The Indianapolis Cultural Trail “officially” opens on Saturday, May 11, with a round of celebrations called “Get Down On It.” (cute!) The celebration includes a pretty massive list of events at various locations around the trail, so click through to see your options for various live music events, outdoor theater, food venues and public arts projects, or download a handy map. Should be a fun celebration.
For those of us who have been enjoying it the past few years, the “official” opening is good news, the trail has been completed and you can now walk and bike all around downtown, enjoying public art and visiting retail and cultural attractions without dealing with parking and without the fear of getting creamed by cars. For folks who haven’t explored downtown, the cultural trail is a great way to see a lot of the major sites in Indianapolis. Again, without getting creamed by cars. It needs to be emphasized how awesome that is.
In a Wish-TV news story on a fatal hit-and-run car/pedestrian accident, Mayor Greg Ballard was asked why there are no sidewalks on those streets where there is considerable foot traffic and where this accident and several other pedestrian fatalities have occurred over the years. In response, he said that we need about $800 million dollars worth of work on sidewalks in Indianapolis, and that the city “just doesn’t have enough money to put sidewalks everywhere we want them.”
As I mentioned in a previous post [Mayor Ballard wants cricket venue in Indy, but can we afford it?] Ballard is diverting $6 million dollars from the Department of Public Works funding that fixes broken bridges and crumbling infrastructure to build a cricket facility on the eastside of town, despite the fact that the Indy Parks system has failed repeatedly to maintain basic maintenance on the public parks we already own. But this cricket thing has been a fixation for Greg Ballard since he originally took office, so it’s not surprising that what the Imperial Mayor wants, he gets.
According to the Indy Star, contracts have already been awarded to begin building the controversial park.
In today’s “We Are City” newsletter is this little gem that appears to be promoting this cricket park:
Four? Six? or Out? Even though this is how most Americans view cricket, there are an increasing number of people who view cricket a little differently, and even as an American sport. Perhaps that’s why the Indianapolis Board of Public Works is moving ahead with plans for a 50-acre world sports complex on the far eastside. The complex would eventually include facilities for gaelic football, rugby, hurling, and cricket. / tag: sports, international / JB
That little write up gives me pause about “We Are City” and makes me want to take a closer look at who the folks involved in that group are, and how their bread is buttered.
Excellent TEDx talk on Gender Violence and why it’s a men’s issue by Jackson Katz.
Why you should listen to Jackson Katz:
Jackson Katz, Phd, is an anti-sexist activist and expert on violence, media and masculinities. An author, filmmaker, educator and social theorist, Katz has worked in gender violence prevention work with diverse groups of men and boys in sports culture and the military, and has pioneered work in critical media literacy. Katz is the creator and co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, which advocates the ‘bystander approach’ to sexual and domestic violence prevention. You’ve also seen him in the award winning documentary “MissRepresentation.”
To learn more about TEDxFiDiWomen.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
Indiana Landmarks calls your attention to the 2013 list of Indiana’s 10 Most Endangered historic places. Jeopardized by neglect, deterioration, and lack of development prospects, these irreplaceable landmarks face imminent threats.
Included on this years’ list:
Anderson Athletic Park Pool, Anderson
Bowen House, Delphi
Brookview-Irvington Park & State Boulevard, Fort Wayne
Eagle Cotton Mill, Madison
Flanner House Homes & Phillips Temple, Indianapolis
Harmony Way Bridge, New Harmony
Kingsbury Ordnance Plant Employment Office, Kingsbury
Old Clarksville Site, Clarksville
Pantheon Theater, Vincennes
Walkerton Church, Walkerton
Rita Moreno and Bill Cosby deliver a bottle of milk. I had forgotten what this skit was about; all I remembered was Rita Moreno shouting “Hey, you guys!”
When I was a little kid, we still had milk delivered to a box on the front porch. Now the “Milk Man” is one of those obsolete occupations that kids today won’t recognize.
I was looking up street names in London to update this page on funny British place names, and as I was playing on Street View, I found myself inside a London pub. Pop into this pub yourself, if you’d like.
No one was there to give me a drink, so I left.
Apparently this is a feature that has been around awhile, because people were writing about it in 2011. I missed that story.
Here’s how you can find buildings that you can enter – while you’re in street view, pick up the little yellow guy on the map, and you’ll see orange circles appear. Those are the stores you can enter.
That makes me a little bit nervous, given my previous interaction with Google Street View. Hey, what are you doing with that camera?
You’ll have to pardon me, I’m going to spend the morning popping in and out of shops in London. This was the place I was looking for when I stumbled into a bar…
If you go to Wikipedia’s page for American Novelists, you might notice something strange: Of the first 100 authors listed, only a small handful of them are women. You could potentially blame this on the fact that there simply are more famous male authors than there are female (a-whole-nother can of worms), but the real reasoning is much more intentional. Wikipedia editors have slowly been moving female authors to a subcategory called American Women Novelists so that the original list isn’t at risk of “becoming too large.” Bad luck, ladies. They need to make room and someone has to go first. Why shouldn’t it be unimportant literary folk like Harper Lee, Harriet Beecher Stowe or Louisa May Alcott?
Novelist Amanda Filipacchi was the one who — very recently — first cottoned on to what Wikipedia was doing. The edits, she noticed, have been happening gradually and mostly alphabetically by last name though in a few special cases the editors jumped ahead because they just couldn’t wait for R and T to get Ayn Rand and Donna Tartt off the list. Filipacchi herself was one of the authors to get booted to the subcategory.
More reporting on this:
Wikipedia’s Sexism Toward Female Novelists [New York Times]