Back in mid-2006 I created a wiki to document a community effort to restrict formula businesses (aka-chains) in Ojai, California. We were ultimately successful on November 27, 2007 with the passage of Ordinance #798. A few years later I shut down the wiki because it was requiring too much effort on my part to maintain and I felt like we had enough years with the ordinance regulating formula businesses. Now with a potential revision to the ordinance before the City Council again, I’m finding myself wanting to review the background. The purpose of this post is to simply document the work we did along with a timeline. It will be cross-posted on the Ojai Post.
This type of ordinance has been passed in many cities and towns (must read!) and been upheld in court. See the June 2003 California Appeals Court decision upholding Coronado’s formula business ordinance. Ojai community members began working on an ordinance in December 2006. The final document was called Formula Retail and Restaurant Establishments and it was submitted to the City of Ojai on April 9, 2007 and signatures have been collected from approximately 700 Ojai voters; enough to be placed on the ballot.
I recently came across the Google for Nonprofits program and thought it might fit the need for a local nonprofit called Ojai Valley Green Coalition. At my 7pm appointment with their Executive Director and another volunteer, we had a great time talking about utilizing Google Apps for the organization. Originally, they came to me with a need to integrate document sharing, conversation, and calendaring. One of their biggest challenges as an organization is communication – making it sophisticated enough to be practical and easy enough for most people to use. Many things have been tried over the years. With the Google Apps option, this organization can integrate it all under their domain name and provide organization accounts to the key players. The added components for nonprofits are a bonus.
Based on past experience with Apps, I thought setting up the Google for Nonprofits would be a breeze. Though it was very simple to complete the application (contact information needed only), we then discovered we’d have to wait up to 30-days before it was reviewed and approved. This was only 5-minutes into our scheduled meeting! Fortunately, not all was lost, we discovered we could move forward by setting up a regular Google Apps account and later link it with the nonprofit component.
It took about an hour, but we setup and configured our domain to be hosted on Google Apps with a handful of users. Explaining as we went along, the two members seemed to understand the options provided by Google. Possibly the most challenging piece we’ve yet to resolve is that they are using .com for email right now but everything else is on .org – I think they should transition the email to .org to keep it all consistent (and then redirect).
Two key steps remain:
Editing the CNAME and MX records for the custom URLs and the mail.
Explore the Sites component to build an integrated environment for the organization’s committees – this is what they asked! Here’s an example of what it might look like. I’ve actually never used Sites, but I’m optimistic about this type of solution.
I had a great time teaching and learning more about these free tools. We have a month to tinker while we have Google review our nonprofit status. A fun Friday evening.
Saw this flyer on the light poll in an Ojai parking lot. Seemed pretty cool, especially with Char-Man – a legendary ghost from Ojai’s Creek Rd. The flyer is for the long awaited opening of the Ojai Skate Park.
Do you believe in religious freedom? It is something we almost take for granted in our nation and in our world. However, there are places where religious freedom is a precious gift that must be struggled for to make a reality. This is the case in Vietnam.
For 39 years Nobel Prize Nominee and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) has lived in exile in France because he challenged the status quo of violence in his Motherland. Even after the “American War” ended, Thay was not allowed to return. That all changed in 2005 when he returned home to tour the country and give talks and share the dharma. He returned again in 2007 and 2008. I was honored to be a part of the initial delegation in 2005 and experienced the elation and joy of the Vietnamese people and the apparent opening up of the nation to new ideas and newfound religious freedom.
It has been eight years since the last time I fasted – it was in late 2001 – and for that fast I practiced in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters by fasting from sunrise to sunset for a couple of weeks.
Recently I was sharing about a personal relationship issue with a monastic friend and teacher and he suggested I start with a period of fasting. I was not completely clear on how this could help or be related, but I trust my friend and know that fasting is a common practice in the monastery. The intention here is not a detox fast, but one of a more spiritual nature. I started practicing with the fast for a 1-2 weeks by fasting for dinner. It wasn’t too difficult to eat two meals a day, the most difficult time being late afternoon. This did raise my confidence and understanding in fasting.
The predominant player at ALA Midwinter Meeting, at least from my personal angle, was Twitter. Though I have been using Twitter for two years, I continue to find more useful applications for this free tool. It does seem that Twitter is reaching a more critical mass, based on the meeting tag (#alamw09) activity, and so there is more conversation on the feed. In fact, I picked up about 50 new followers just over the weekend. I see two positive outcomes from the heavy usage of Twitter at ALA.
First, it made for a more inclusive and broad environment for discussions to occur. On more than one occasion, meetings being held in person were enriched by tweets from afar. Bringing in those voices make ALA more open and accessible – especially for those who cannot attend. Secondly, since there are so many overlapping meetings The Twitter helped attendees to be at more than one meeting at once. So yes, you can be in two places at once. In the LITA Town Hall meeting I sat at a physical table with eight other folks. We decided to hold our conversation on Twitter so we could easily log the conversation. Two things happened: more people joined virtually and, when I had to leave, I could continue participating from the next location. This provided for rich content and open participation. Also, see LITA’s well known Top Technology Trendsprogram as it unfolded on Twitter. Continue reading →
Today is Blog Action Day 2008 and our focus this year is on poverty. It is a day when bloggers around the world can unite together to highlight an issue. I’m happy to participate and hope that it contributes to global awareness around poverty. Despite the fiscal crisis taking place in the United States, we still have one of the highest standards of living in the world. It is easy for us to grow distraught about our own personal finances, but most of us probably have clean running water, employment, housing, clothing. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes to wear, a roof on your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than the 75% of the people who live on this Earth. If you have money in your bank account and your wallet and some loose change in some little box, you are one of the world’s 8% well-to-do population. And yet, even here in the United States we have many that live in poverty. Here in Ojai, I typically spend time in the winter staying at the Ojai Valley Family Shelter once a week with the two dozen people who choose to stay in the shelter. Check out some of the other resources put together on the Blog Action Day Web Resources page. Or, you can watch the following video if you haven’t seen it already:
What are you doing for those with less? What is your experience with poverty?
Established in 2002 1982, today is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. As a lifelong pacifist and peace activist, I see today as another opportunity to take action. Being peaceful in the time of war and turmoil is a very courageous act and often counter to how we are told to act and to respond. Being a pacifist does not mean being passive – it requires action and courage to stand up to violence. One such group that I support is the Nonviolent Peaceforce, an international organization that trains civilians to go into conflict areas to prevent death and destruction and protect human rights. Other groups, such as Fellowship of Reconciliation and Christian Peacemaker Teams do similar work.
Perhaps the easiest route to peace is to find peace within yourself. My teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay), is well known for his statements and actions on peace. He tries to keep things real simple by encouraging us to come back to ourselves and learn to live in peace each moment of daily life. I have been honored to practice with Thay for the past decade and to learn the practice of true peace. As a spiritual leader in my community, I have been asked to share a few minutes at an InterSpiritual Service that is part of Living Peace in Ojai. Instead of talking about peace, we will practice peace by using the following exercise. As Thay has said, “Even in the midst of suffering, it is possible to bring our awareness to the good qualities within yourself and allow them to manifest in your consciousness. Practice mindful breathing to remind yourself of your Buddha nature, of the great compassion and understanding in you.” Continue reading →
Unbelievable that it has been three weeks since my last post here on misc.joy, but some of you already know that the Fall semester has begun and I am teaching two extra classes this semester. It has been a blast to teach the San Jose State class again, though the work load is high. I’ve also been working on several volunteer projects that have occuppied time. Namely, volunteering for the Ojai Green Tour on October 4, planning a Benefit Concert for the Ojai Library on October 11, organizing Bike Valet for Ojai Day on Ocober 18, presenting at Internet Librarian on October 19, planning Gold Coast Library Network Professional Day on October 24, coordinating an Education Forum at ALA Midwinter, and helping with the Thich Nhat Hanh 2009 Tour. You may have also noticed the Peace One Day icon on the web page and I will be giving a brief (5-minute) talk on peace and Buddhism at a multifaith event here in Ojai. Yes, it is too much and I am learning how to delegate and ask for help – Leslie has been a life saver on several fronts – but as you can see I still don’t say no. One thing I have learned though is to look for the joy in each of my activities and be fully present when engaged. The March 2008 post 12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk is helpful to read again.
Despite all the above, I’ve still had time to try and keep up with my Friendfeed and play with new tools like 12seconds.tv, Twine, Chrome, and Ubiquity. What’s most promising? What am I finding most useful?