Project Warm

6 Dec

Warming more than your heart this holiday season


For the Nunnellys, volunteering is a family affair. Chris Nunnelly has worked with Project Warm since 1982, serving as a board member for 19 years. And his kids teamed up on the Project Warm weatherization blitz in middle and high school.

“I’ve known about it all my life,” Anna Nunnelly said. “I got involved with the annual fund-raising auction in 6th grade, and then in 8th grade I came out with my brother and his team from St. Xavier.

“I’ve been doing the blitz every year since.”

The Project Warm Energy-Saving Blitz – Project Warm’s biggest community service event – is an annual two-day service project aimed at getting the homes of as many elderly and disabled Louisvillians as possible weatherized before winter arrives. The blitz began in 1992, and last year’s event saw 600 volunteers install plastic sheeting and plug air leaks in the homes of 300 elderly and disabled people.

Trained volunteers carry out energy audits and install weatherization materials, and low-income volunteers learn weatherization skills and receive free materials. Project Warm began in 1982 in an effort to augment the local government-run “Weatherization Assistance Program.”

Nunnelly got his own kids involved and encourages others to get involved in community service as well.

“(Project Warm) teaches young people the importance of community,” he said. “Of being hands on and not just writing checks.

“You get out and meet people (in your community). It’s always been neighbor helping neighbor.”

The “small-scale weatherization,” like installing plastic on the interior of windows, being completed during the blitz saves homeowners an average of 15 to 20 percent on utility bills, Nunnelly said.

That kind of savings makes a big difference for low-income seniors and disabled people in the community.

“I’m on a fixed income, and I can’t work because I have a disability,” said Rosetta Robinson, a West Louisville resident receiving weatherization assistance from Project Warm volunteers. “It means a lot, this is a great help.”

Robinson fell and injured her back a few years ago, and is unable make the necessary fixes to her home to lower her heating bills and conserve energy.

“I just lived with it,” she said.

But she stopped having to live with it last year after a group of Project Warm volunteers came by to fix the air leaks and install plastic sheeting on the windows. Robinson said she heard about the program from a neighbor who had a volunteer group weatherize her home.

“I knew it would be a really great thing,” she said. “It keeps me from having to spend more money and using more energy than I really need.”

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The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

18 Nov

A meeting between Occupy Nashville protesters and Mid-South Tea Party members went surprisingly well, considering the disparaging views many members of each group take of the other. They may have more in common than they think.

Occupy Wall Street protesters


Bismarck, ND Tea Party Protest

By the end, the Occupy Memphis members and their audience — made up mostly of whites over 40 years old — reached common ground on some issues, such as their perception that the government and politicians no longer listen to and serve the people they represent.

They also found some agreement in their stances against taxpayer-sponsored government bailouts and “crony capitalism,” the idea that close ties between lobbyists, businesses, and other self-serving interests can influence government officials and the exercise of capitalism.

“We all want the same form of government, which is one that listens to its constituents,” said Tran, a business and American history student who said he served in Iraq in 2009 and 2010 with the Army.

(“Occupy Memphis, Tea Party Members Meet,” Associated Press)

You can read the article here. And see a discussion on the excellent NPR blog The Two-Way here.


International Round-up

15 Nov

Here are some interesting and eye-opening articles I’m reading. These are stories that are big and small, funny and serious, but all things that are on my radar.

From the New York Times:

Telling Americans to Vote, or else (William A. Galston)

The New Progressive Movement(Jefferey D. Sachs)

From Foreign Policy Magazine:

The Qaddafi Family Scrapbook

America Really Was That Great (Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum)

And check out the rest of the The America Issue

WikiLeaked (a blog about the State Department’s leaked cables)

In a fight against a bull, you’ll be the one to lose

4 Nov

The Occupy Wall Street movement is oft derided for having no “message,” or for being disorganized, useless, lazy, or delusional. Anyone that has taken the time to get a closer look would soon see that the protest, at its heart, is about corporate greed in America and the ways in which lobbyists have hijacked our government and our country. People regularly talk badly about politicians and how they are worthless, only in it for the power or money, or are corrupt. These things, for many politicians, are true.

But the real issue is not the puppets, it is the puppet masters.

CITIGROUP is lucky that Muammar el-Qaddafi was killed when he was. The Libyan leader’s death diverted attention from a lethal article involving Citigroup that deserved more attention because it helps to explain why many average Americans have expressed support for the Occupy Wall Street movement. The news was that Citigroup had to pay a $285 million fine to settle a case in which, with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust.

– Thomas Friedman, “Did You Hear the One About the Bankers?”

I heard someone say that “Occupy Wall Street is against capitalism because they don’t want corporations.” Occupy Wall Street is not expressing a blanket mandate to end the American economic system. It is a movement against corporations run amok that have no responsibility to anyone; corporations, instead, who claim authority over the voices of politicians, the shape of public policy, and the lives of the American people.

There are corporations that take social responsibility seriously, that don’t bleed the public dry to turn a profit and fill their own coffers, that aren’t out to ensure a big bonus at the expense of homeowners, the poor, or the education system.

Unfortunately these corporations are not the ones with their hands in the pockets, and their words in the mouths, of most American politicians. If you don’t take my word for it, take it from Adam “Invisible Hand” Smith:

The interests of manufacturers and merchants “…in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public…The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.”

This article by Thomas Friedman, from the New York Times, is something every American – Republican, Democrat, liberal, and conservative – should read.

Commence outrage, and hopefully, action.

International Revoluntionary leaders as Halloween costumes

26 Oct

I thought, given the proximity of Halloween, I would use this opportunity to offer a few inspirational costumes of international figures for those of you that haven’t chosen something yet. I am going as Tinkerbell. No, she isn’t specifically “international,” but Never Never land is definitely not in the United States.

Che Guevara

You need: a sweet black beret (this one includes hair!), a cigar, a button-up shirt from an Army surplus store. (Bonus points if you have a beard and mustache. Beards and mustaches always look good, whether you are wearing a costume or not.)

Also, you can team up with a friend and make that person be Che’s less romantic comrade Fidel Castro. Double the communist fun! Keep in mind: it is clear in order to be a Latin American Communist Revolutionary, facial hair (and a beret) is essential.

Kim Jong Il

You need: BluBlocker sunglasses and a sweet polyester pantsuit that has a zip-up jacket. (Bonus points if you’re very small).

Mohandas Gandhi

You need: A white sheet, white linen pants, round glasses. (Bonus points if you are able to continuously look and act serene.)

Michael Collins

You need: a suit. (Bonus points if you have an Irish accent).

Occupy Wall Street goes GLOBAL

18 Oct

Above: Occupy Wall Street.

Occupy Wall Street, a self-described “horizontally organized resistance movement employing the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to restore democracy in America,” is going global. Protests in cities around the world, and in Louisville too, are ramping up in the fight to gain justice, equality, and importantly, a voice, for the “99%.”

Above: The Occupy Milan protest.

Above: Protesters in front of European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt.

Louisville’s own Occupy movement began at the beginning of this month. The protesters are camped out at Jefferson Square Park, and look to be in it for the long-haul. Or at least until December 31st when the permit expires. Hopefully this movement can really get the momentum going and create concrete and significant change in the ways in which wealth is distributed in America and the world.

Above: Occupy Louisville protest.

Tibetan monks sacrifice their lives for freedom. And a meditation at DGI dedicated to that cause.

13 Oct

The Tibetan Government-in-Exile issued this statement regarding the increasingly critical situation in Tibet and the self-immolation of seven Buddhist monks in Tibet this year so far:

Since the 2008 uprising in Tibet, the situation in Tibet has been deteriorating. Particularly, as of March this year, it has become ever more tense and urgent with the increasing cases of self-immolation by young Tibetans who find China’s occupation and repression of Tibet intolerable.

Tibetans in Tibet are driven to these drastic acts to resist political repression, cultural assimilation, economic marginalization and environmental destruction.

From the seven young Tibetans who self-immolated this year, the following succumbed to their injuries: On March 16, 2011, Lobsang Phuntsok (age 21), a monk of Kirti Monastery in northeastern Tibet. The second reported case, on August 15, 2011 was that of Tsewang Norbu, (age 29), a monk at Nyitso monastery in eastern Tibet. The third and the fourth cases were Khaying (age 18), and Choephel (age 19), both former monks of Kirti Monastery. They self-immolated on October 7, 2011 and died on October 8 and 11 respectively.

The conditions of the three others, namely Lobsang Kelsang (age 18), Lobsang Kunchok (age 19) and Kelsang Wangchuk (age 17) are still unknown.

The Central Tibetan Administration is deeply concerned about their whereabouts and well-being. We express our solidarity with all those who lost their lives and with all other Tibetans who are incarcerated for their courage to speak up for the rights of the Tibetan people.

We appeal to the United Nations, freedom-loving countries and people around the world to show their support and solidarity with the Tibetan people at this critical stage.

Given the undeclared martial law in Tibet and the increasing cases of self-immolation, the international community must press the government of People’s Republic of China to restore freedom and resolve the issue of Tibet through dialogue for the mutual benefit of the Tibetan and Chinese people. In this light, we urge the international community and the media to send fact-finding delegations to ascertain the situation on the ground inside Tibet.

The Kashag and the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile have jointly planned activities in India and the world-at-large to highlight the deepening crisis in Tibet.

We call upon all Tibetans and Tibet supporters in the free world to join efforts and organize activities in their respective regions. These events must be peaceful, respectful of local laws and dignified. On October 19, 2011, the Central Tibetan Administration will offer day-long prayers and encourage all Tibetans to fast on that day as a gesture of solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet.

To our brothers and sisters in Tibet, we stand with you in fulfilling our common aspirations, and we share the pain of your sacrifice.

Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile                    The Kashag

The Drepung Gomang Institute is dedicating its Wednesday, Oct. 19 meditation to the people of Tibet. If you would like to attend it will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can find more info, like the address, here.

Tibetan monks visit a Louisville Tibetan Buddhist Institute

11 Oct

A group of Tibetan Buddhist monks from Labrang Tashi Kyil Monastery in India are visiting as guests of Louisville’s Drepung Gomang Institute. The original monastery in Amdo, Tibet was destroyed in 1958 during the Chinese cultural revolution and occupation of Tibet. In 1967, a group of exiled monks rebuilt the monastery in Clement Town, Dehra Dun, India. The seven monks that gave a cultural performance last night at DGI are traveling in the area to teach Dharma, educate the public about the culture and religion of Tibet, and to raise money for much-needed improvements to their monastery.

The monks put on a varied and exciting performance including giving the traditional blessing to the Dalai Lama. If the Dalai Lama is not physically present (would that he was!), the monks display his portrait to symbolize that he is nevertheless the chief guest of the gathering and all in attendance give a Mandala offering in which they offer all they value in the universe by reciting prayers and visualizing that they are giving these to the lama.

The monks also performed scenes from the life of Milarepa, a Tibetan saint, and Lha Tsering, who represents Life and also the “clown” who entertains and offers happiness.

I also got the opportunity to interview a resident monk about his experience fleeing Tibet and coming to the United States to teach Tibetan Buddhism at DGI. It was incredibly moving to listen to Geshe Kelsang Rapgyal speak about his experience fleeing Tibet as a refugee, traveling only at night and hiding during the day, and being constantly aware of the consequences if captured by the Chinese. I highly recommend visiting DGI for a Sunday teaching or Wednesday meditation, which you can find out more about here. They are very welcoming and warm, and always happy to help people new to Tibetan Buddhism learn more about it.

Women activists receive Nobel Peace Prize. And change the world.

7 Oct

Three women activists will share the Nobel Peace Prize, the committee announced today. The women – Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, activist Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and rights activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen – are being honored for their critical leadership in achieving peace in their respective countries.

It is a momentous day for these women, and the world. In countries that have historically denied women many basic rights, they have found the strength and courage to face down oppressors and dictators to achieve peace and change for themselves and the people of their countries. They are all models to emulate.



Osaka. And a new sushi location.

5 Oct

I wanted to make a quick note about one of my favorite sushi restaurants, Osaka, and also mention that another great Highlands sushi establishment is moving.

Osaka is delicious. We had a Groupon there and it is always a good deal. The sushi is excellent though, and I think this is true of a lot of the sushi restaurants I have eaten at in Louisville, they don’t have a whole lot of raw options. The fried sushi that I have tried at Osaka is good, but not really the way I like my sushi.

And Oishii Sushi, formerly on Bardstown Rd. near Douglas Loop, is moving to 2810 Taylorsville Road, next to Queen of Sheba, an incredible Ethiopian restaurant. I highly recommend trying both. Oishii is the best sushi but the atmosphere at the former location definitely left something to be desired. Fluorescent lights – ick. Hopefully, the new place will have better ambiance.

I recommend trying all three!