Increase in subvention essential to effective functioning – Councillors

first_imgLGE 2018To effectively function in their roles and provide acceptable services to all communities, Councillors of some Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) are calling for an increase in the yearly subvention that is disbursed through Central Government.Councillor and Constituency Four (Zeelugt) Candidate Poorandai SukhuIn an interview with some of the candidates who will be contesting the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE), Councillor Poorandai Sukhu told Guyana Times that this is one of her requests as she continues to represent Constituency Four (Zeelugt) on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD).According to her, the local organ body is given a $4 million per year to conduct works in the community and most officials of the Council feel this amount should be amplified.Judging from the previous years, the subvention did not suffice to meet all of the needs of the villages, since in most cases, the Council would have difficulties in carrying out its functions.“The subvention is $4 million and it don’t actually benefit all the Local Authority Areas (LAA) and the residents. Usually we don’t get more than that and it is hard for the Councillors to monitor that so that it can assist all of the constituencies,” said the Councillor and LGE candidate.Another issue of concern is the number of workers that were placed to work for the Council to clear drains and conduct small maintenance projects. It was revealed that 15 persons were appointed by the Government, but this number has been reduced to seven.“We are only left with seven so as Councillors, we are asking that they have more workers to the LLA. They would usually clear the burial grounds, drains and thick vegetation. If we don’t have workers, then those works can’t get done.”In the upcoming election which is slated for November 12, Sukhu reminded that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, which she is representing during her re-election, is against any increases in rates and taxes.“Our main issue is the vote against tax. If there is any tax to levy on any property, we are voting against that because of the economic situation and people are out of jobs. It would be a pressure on our people at this time and the whole region at large.Along with that, she is trying to combat the high crime rate in her community by introducing training for women and youths. This will also assist in providing jobs to unemployed individuals.Better drainage, roads and utility services are also on the agenda if she manages to capture the win for the district. While there are no candidates from the A Partnership for Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), two persons from the United Republican Party (URP) are among the list of contesters.“I will try my best to get better drainage for the area so that we don’t have any flooding. Not much of our roads in Zeelugt are completed and some are in a deplorable state. I would have asked for materials to fix it and I want to ensure that it is better after the elections as well.” (Rupadai Seenaraine)last_img read more

Veterans’ CoI recommendations to be implemented

first_img–President at Remembrance Day ceremonyPresident David Granger has pledged to work through the Guyana Defence Board, which he chairs — and with the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the Guyana Veterans’ Legion (GVL) and civil society — to ensure that recommendations emanating from the Commission of Inquiry that was launched to investigate the living conditions of veterans are effectively reviewed and implemented.The Head of State made these remarks on Sunday at a Remembrance Day ceremony hosted by the GVL at Coghlan House on Carifesta Avenue, where asPresident David Granger laying a wreath at the Cenotaph War Memorial on Main and Church Streets patron of the Legion he handed over a cheque worth $1million.“Today we look to the future, and we are all concerned about the fate of young persons who joined the defence and security forces to serve their country. The plight of veterans has not eluded the Government of Guyana. When I was in Opposition I promised, and when I took office fulfilled, what I called an obligation to investigate the conditions under which our veterans live and work; and this has been done,” the Head of State said.Speaking of the contributions and bravery of Caribbean nationals who served in the Second World War, President Granger said that not only did some make the ultimate sacrifice, but many of those who returned were highly qualified and had inculcated a strong spirit of nationalism and pride. So much so that many of themMembers of the diplomatic corps in Guyana also participated in the traditional wreath-laying ceremony  took on leadership roles in their respective countries.Among the Caribbean volunteers and recruits that returned, one became Prime Minister of Jamaica and another became the Prime Minister of Barbados. Guyanese Royal Air Force recruit Cecil Henry Ethelwood Miller became Chief Justice of Kenya; while Victor Crane, another recruit, became Chancellor of the Judiciary in Guyana.President of the Guyana Veterans Legion (GVL), Lieutenant Colonel (ret’d) George Gomes, said it is the responsibility of all to ensure that future generationsSome members of the security forces during the march past on Main Street on Sunday morningare taught of the significance of observances like Remembrance Day, and of the sacrifices made by those who had fought in World Wars I and II.According to a statement from the Ministry of the Presidency, Gomes informed that there is a total of 16 surviving members who served in the British Guiana Battalion of the South Caribbean Forces, all of whom are over 90 years old.He also noted that the GVL is a united front for all veterans, including those from the British Guiana Volunteer Force and the GDF. The GVL has compiled a list with a total of 85 veterans, some of whom he described as “total shut-ins”, while others have serious ailments and disabilities.“We continue to be thankful to the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League and the Royal Canadian Legion for the annual grants for our World War II veterans and the surviving widows (of veterans). We, however, need much more assistance…,” he said.The GVL also receives an annual donation from the President.  British High Commissioner Mr. Greg Quinn has said Remembrance Day observances do notThe War Memorial located at the junction of Main and Church streets honour war or death, but rather commemorate those who have given their lives in service of their respective countries. “Many of us here have lost friends, colleagues and family members in service, and it is important that we honour their memories. They have not died in vain,” Quinn said.High Commissioner Quinn also informed the gathering that a long-overdue war memorial has been erected in Brixton, London to honour the sacrifices of servicemen from Africa and the Caribbean, who served alongside British and Commonwealth forces in the First and Second World Wars.Similar sentiments were expressed by Canadian High Commissioner Ms Lilian Chatterjee, who said the fact that ordinary men agreed to fight in foreign lands for foreign lands speaks to their bravery.According to the Ministry of the Presidency, several individuals and organisations have on Sunday pledged generous financial support for the GVL.Prior to the GVL’s Remembrance Day ceremony, President Granger attended the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph War Memorial on Main and Church Streets, Georgetown. Several Government officials and members of the diplomatic corps also took part in that activity.In his Remembrance Day message, the President said the world is forever indebted to those who sacrificed their lives in the cause of peace and freedom.“We remember the Guyanese men and women who struggled for national Independence and who have given their lives in the service of our nation. We thank those Guyanese who continue to defend our territory and our patrimony. We are encouraged by their example to strengthen our resolve to preserve the Caribbean as a zone of peace and safety, now and for generations to come. We rededicate ourselves to the quest for peace for the Nation and for the happiness of our people,” he said.Remembrance Day is an international memorial day observed within the British Commonwealth since the end of World War I to remember members of the armed forces who died in the two World Wars. More recently, it has been expanded to include those who have died in conflicts after the two World Wars.last_img read more

Built-in charitable donation is raising concern

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champIn many cases, charities and their corporate partners are unwilling to discuss the specifics of their embedded-giving programs, declining to answer questions about how much is raised and even where exactly the money is going. Sometimes charities do not even know they are supposed to be receiving donations. For instance, some beneficiaries of an embedded-giving program in a holiday catalog from Barneys New York found out they were listed only after they were contacted by The New York Times. The World Wildlife Fund, a major charity that works to preserve and protect animals and the environment, was among them. John Donoghue, its senior vice president, was disconcerted to learn that his organization was among a number of charities named as beneficiaries of items purchased from Barneys’ “Have a Green Holiday” catalog. “Unfortunately, just like Barneys shoppers, we’re in the dark as to how or if Barneys and the manufacturers will fulfill their commitment to donate a portion of the proceeds from these products to WWF,” Donoghue said. Experts say such loose arrangements mean that donors cannot be sure where their money is going. Shopping has become virtuous, especially at this time of year. Buy a “Better World” scarf at American Eagle Outfitters, and the retailer says $10 of the $19.95 price will go to one of three charities. Buy or lease a BMW this month, and participating dealers say they will give $25 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Consumers these days can benefit a wide variety of charities with their purchases. Or can they? Increasingly, nonprofit experts are beginning to question one of the fastest-growing sectors of giving, the practice of building a donation into the purchase of everything from fine jewelry to Always feminine products. They point out that such giving is unregulated and, in most cases, unaccountable – and no one knows who, if anyone, is claiming a tax deduction for it. “It’s virtuousness as a marketing gimmick run amok,” said Lucy Bernholz, founder and president of Blueprint Research & Design, a consulting firm for nonprofit organizations, who has coined the term “embedded giving” to describe the phenomenon. “The potential for it to be a scam is huge.” “In most cases of embedded giving, the donors will have even less idea of where their money goes than they do when they give to many large charities,” said Timothy N. Ogden, chief knowledge officer at Geneva Global, a philanthropic-consulting firm. The start of embedded giving can be traced to the early 1980s, a time when American Express developed an effort to raise money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island by donating one penny for every purchase charged to its credit cards, generating $1.7million. But some worry that embedded giving could end up eating away at larger, more direct charitable contributions. Donors, they say, will feel they are making donations all the time and be less likely to write out big checks at the end of the year. Probably the most successful program of this kind is (Product)RED, which was created with the backing of Bono, lead singer of U2. The organization raises money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria through the sale of items designed specifically for that purpose by such companies as Apple, Gap and Motorola. It has pulled in some $51.7million since it began in 2006. Unlike many other programs, however, a detailed contract exists between the seven companies that have signed contracts to use the (Product)RED brand. Typically up to 50percent of profits go directly to the Global Fund, and buyers can see how much the effort is raising on the Web. But in most cases, embedded giving raises more modest amounts. The World Wildlife Fund garners $2million to $3million a year from such programs done in partnership with 22 companies. Its seven-year relationship with Build-A-Bear Workshop, for instance, has raised $1.5million, according to the fund. Donoghue said the benefits of embedded giving can reach beyond money. For instance, he said the fund can influence the use of more environmentally sound commodities and products through its choice of partners. And the deals can vastly expand the group’s reach. “For us to have 100,000 cool girls walking around wearing panda-branded T-shirts that have appeared in a circular that goes to 50million people and is paid for by a corporate partner has a communications benefit we could never afford on our own,” he said. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommends that charities participating in embedded-giving programs ask that retailers spell out how much of the money in a purchase will go to them.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Wilshere picture in West Ham kit as a child as he reveals ‘special bond’ with Hammers

first_img smart causal What every Premier League club’s fans dream of this Christmas targets possible standings Wilshere: “It feels good, it feels special. People will have seen the picture of me in a West Ham shirt and I’ve got good memories of my childhood supporting West Ham, watching them at Upton Park. My family and a few of my friends are West Ham fans so everyone’s buzzing.”— West Ham News (@whufc_news) July 9, 2018 The average first-team salaries at every Premier League club in 2019 Where every Premier League club needs to strengthen in January revealed gameday cracker REVEALED Alternative Premier League table based on expected goals – lucky Spurs? BIG PRESENTS UP TOP Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won Every current Premier League club’s best kit from the past decade Jack Wilshere has finally completed his transfer to West Ham, with the former Arsenal midfielder penning a three-year contract with the east London club.Wilshere, 26, joins the Hammers after 17 years with Arsenal, progressing through the north Londoners’ academy to establish himself as one of their key players. “People will have seen the picture of me in a West Ham shirt and I’ve got good memories of my childhood supporting West Ham, watching them at Upton Park. It feels good and of course my family and a few of my friends are West Ham fans so everyone’s buzzing.”The picture of Wilshere wearing a West Ham shirt has come to light recently in the wake of the midfielder’s impending transfer to the Hammers, and you can see it below… Our new midfielder has arrived… #WelcomeJack— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) July 9, 2018Times have been harder for Wilshere in recent years, with a spate of injury problems keeping him from making an impact on the pitch, and the England international announced last month he would be leaving the Emirates this summer.West Ham have won the race for Wilshere’s signature on a free transfer, and they have managed to sign a player who grew up as a Hammers fan.His father and brother also support the Irons, and Wilshere told the West Ham website upon the confirmation of his move: “It feels good, it feels special.“Many people know that I’ve had a special bond with this Club growing up. sad day How the Premier League table could change after the Boxing Day fixtures ANALYSIS Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? Tributes to ‘complete gentleman’ Martin Peters following England legend’s death REVEALED Boxing Day fixtures: All nine Premier League games live on talkSPORT Latest West Ham newslast_img read more


first_imgA cross-party delegation of Irish MEPs met yesterday evening with the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz to discuss the absence of an Irish language version of the European Parliament website.The delegation led by Ireland North West MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher also included Gay Mitchell, Emer Costello and Martina Anderson.The President listened to the case put by the delegation and agreed to support the establishment of an Irish version of the European Parliament website. In practical terms, he will recommend to the Bureau of the European Parliament (comprised of the Vice-President’s and Questors) for this to be approved at its next meeting in early June. The European Parliament website is currently produced in 22 out of the 23 official languages of the EU, all with the exception of Irish. Moreover, all other EU institutions including the European Commission and Council of Ministers have a website in Irish.Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP stated today: “I very much welcome the decision of the President and I am confident that the Irish version of the website will be up and running by the end of the year. The decision by President Schulz is a manifestation of his commitment to bringing the EU institutions closer to all its citizens. This is a major breakthrough and will reverse what was simply a matter of discrimination against the Irish language.”In conclusion, all MEPs were high in their praise for President Schulz for his positive and pragmatic approach.  PAT THE COPE LOBBIES FOR IRISH LANGUAGE VERSION OF EU WEBSITE was last modified: May 22nd, 2013 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:PAT THE COPE LOBBIES FOR IRISH LANGUAGE VERSION OF EU WEBSITElast_img read more

Squandering good will

first_imgEven as the American labor movement has shrunk to a third of its once-robust size, public-employee unions in California have thrived and come to wield enormous political power. Unfortunately, these unions all too often have forgotten their root concerns for workers everywhere. Through their greed, they have burdened the state with an unwieldy cost structure that may actually hurt large numbers of working Californians. Three recent examples come to mind: The union representing Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers objected to plans to install cameras on buses because it wanted its members to be guaranteed the jobs, even though that could mean delays in installation. Evidently, public safety is less important than public-employee job security. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 The state engineers’ union opposed a plan for expediting construction of a car-pool lane on the northbound 405 Freeway that relied on private contractors. Under intense union pressure, the Legislature failed to approve the plan, and now the state could lose $130 million in federal highway dollars. In its last session, Democrats in the Legislature – strongly encouraged by the electrical workers’ union – doomed the governor’s solar-power energy bill. The legislation had the support of practically everyone as an environmentally friendly break to regular folks who wanted to go solar. But Democrats poisoned it with an amendment that would have required that all installation be done by workers paid union wages. For decades, public-employee unions prospered on the good will of the public. But these unions, with their lavish benefits that threaten the state’s future, no longer serve anyone but themselves. They gobble up tax dollars even as the quality of life in California gets worse, the infrastructure deteriorates and the burdens of the disadvantaged mount. It’s a shame that public-employee unions no longer seem to care about protecting workers or helping to build a healthy and stable economy that benefits everyone. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

SA one step away from mining accord

first_img5 July 2013 Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is confident that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), a key player in South African platinum, will join the other stakeholders in signing a groundbreaking pact to bring stability to the country’s mining industry. Amcu was the only party to this week’s industry talks – bringing together the government, organised labour and business – that did not sign the Framework Agreement for a Sustainable Mining Industry, saying that it needed to consult with its members. The agreement sets out key steps and processes that will see all parties working together to ensure the stability and sustainability of South Africa’s mining industry. As part of the agreement, parties will desist from provocation, violence and intimidation, and will actively discourage their members from taking the law into their own hands. The government, for its part, will act decisively to enforce the rule of law, maintain peace during strikes and other protests relating to labour disputes, and ensure the protection of life, property and the advancement of the rights of all. Amcu and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have been at loggerheads over membership at the Lonmin Mine in North West province. Addressing the media after the signing of the agreement in Pretoria on Wednesday, Mothlanthe said he hoped it would bring about change for the better in the mining sector. Mothlanthe, who had been tasked with leading the talks by President Jacob Zuma, expressed confidence that Amcu would, after consulting with its members, come to the party and sign the agreement. “We are expecting Amcu to get back soon,” Mothlanthe said. Those that signed the agreement were the NUM, the Chamber of Mines, the Federation of Unions of SA, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, and Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu. Also present at the meeting was Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe, and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant. SAinfo reporter and read more

Gerfen brothers competing for top proficiency awards

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Brothers Nole and Clay Gerfen from the Ridgemont Chapter are both finalists for National Proficiency awards. Nole is a finalist in Diversified Livestock and Clay in competing in Diversified Agricultural Production. Their projects are separate but there is quite a bit of teamwork with the brothers that are both competitive at the highest level of the national FFA proficiency competition.Here is more from the brothers.last_img

Resiliency, Mindfulness and Community Capacity Building — Musings from the Mickelson Trail

first_imgThis post was written by Sara Croymans, MEd, AFC, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, and member of the MFLN Family Transitions team. Family Transitions provides education, resources and networking opportunities for professionals working with military families to build resilience and navigate life cycle transitions. Engage with the MFLN Family Transitions team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter. by Sara Croymans, MEd, AFCI loved riding bike as a child … feeling the wind blow through my hair, experiencing independence and having the opportunity to interact with my environment in new ways. Last summer my husband, David, and I hauled our bikes (the old fashioned pedal type – not the Harley type) out to western South Dakota for a week long ride on the Mickelson Trail, a rails-to-trails bike path through the heart of the beautiful Black Hills. We planned the trip to have some respite from our careers and enjoy the outdoors. It is important for me to disclose up front that David and I are slightly on the north side of 50 and not super fit. Earlier in the spring we had purchased our bikes and slowly began accumulating miles on the rural roads of the west central Minnesota plains.Now, many months after the trip as the seasons change as I am experiencing the urge to spend time outdoors and have allowed my mind to wander back to that ‘happy’ time and place. My reflections connect how our experience relates to the resilience, mindfulness and community capacity building concepts our Military Families Learning Network team addresses.Our family is a military family. David is a Veteran of the South Dakota Army National Guard, serving for 22.5 years with two deployments (Desert Storm and the Iraq War). Our daughter, Kristen, is an officer with the Nebraska Army National Guard and our youngest son, Jesse, and son in law, Jared, both serve in the South Dakota Army National Guard.Our plan was to ride 64 of the 109 miles of the Mickelson trail over three days with a day of rest in the middle. We left west central Minnesota on a Saturday with our bikes in the back of the truck for a short four and half hour drive to Pierre, SD. David is from a large family so we were able to spend the night with his sister Susie in South Dakota’s beautiful capital city of Pierre. Sunday we drove the remaining three hours to Deadwood where we would begin the trail. Dave’s youngest sister Paula, her husband Barry and daughter Sophie helped us move our vehicle to Custer where we planned to end the bike ride. Paula had been deployed with Dave in Desert Storm. She joined the Guard while in high school, went to Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training right after high school, arrived home just in time to pass on her Snow Queen crown and was immediately deployed. Barry serves in the SD Army National Guard and works full time for the Guard. Sophie had just arrived back home from participating in a weekend multi-state Regional Military Teen Summit where she was able to network and build relationships with other military-connected teens and gain knowledge and skills to use in South Dakota to support other military youth. Five of the seven siblings in Dave’s family have served in the military. Family is truly an important supportive factor to building resilience and a key part of our supportive community.Monday morning we began the 16.2 mile ride from Deadwood to Dumont where we had a primitive cabin rented. I wasn’t too worried about the ride as we had been doing 5-7 mile rides in the evenings back home. However, I should have been listening to Dave’s instructions on how to read (& understand!) the Elevation Profile on the trail map. The Mickelson Trail is rated ‘easy to moderate’ with a majority of the trail not exceeding a 4% grade, but parts of the trail are considered ‘strenuous’. We started our trip at the higher end of the trail and travel to the lower end. However, we climbed a bit the first day, and our practice on the occasional rolling hills in west central Minnesota hadn’t prepared us very well. We found ourselves struggling a bit. As with most challenging situations we figured out how to adapt and be resilient. We allowed ourselves to walk our bikes occasionally and we stopped whenever we saw a bench to rest, have a snack and drink water. We also supported and encouraged one another along the way. We successfully arrived at our destination midafternoon, so overall, we did pretty well! We were pleased to see the hot showers and comfortable beds, and were impressed by the hospitality of the owners of Carsten’s Cottages where we stayed, as they had filled our grocery order so we could cook supper that evening! Never underestimate the value of a good plan and a strong support system!The Mickelson Trail was built on the abandon railroad tracks of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad. The original railroad track, built in 1890-91, took trains from Edgemont to the northern Black Hills and the gold mines of the Deadwood area. The track was abandoned in 1983 and a group of outdoor enthusiasts recognized the trail’s potential and worked to establish the first ‘rails to trails’ project in South Dakota. Governor Mickelson was a champion of the project and utilized many community capacity building strategies to garner support for the project, including the principles of being good neighbors, good stewardship and creating partnerships for improvement. However, there was controversy about the trail development between local landowners and trail supporters. When Governor Mickelson passed away during the middle of the project many people feared the project was stalled. However, the new Governor, Governor Janklow, supported the momentum of the project and the ten year trail plan was completed in five years. One of the compromises to the controversy was to utilize wood fences as a “buffer” to protect private land owners. The project was extremely successful due to the cooperation of multiple agencies, volunteer groups and individuals. The trail is open four seasons for hiking, biking, equine, snow shoes, dog sleds and a portion for snowmobiles. Annually, over 60,000 people use the trail. The co-creation of the trail by so many is a great example of a successful community capability building effort.As we reflected on our first day’s ride we were pleased the most difficult stretch of the trail was complete. Forever evaluating and critiquing, I started my mental list of what we might do different ‘next time’. We realized quickly that we had over packed our panniers (bike saddle bags). Of course, we needed the water bottles, lights, helmet (I wore one, Dave did not), air pump, tools, spare tire, extra clothes, etc. But we realized we didn’t need as much clothes as anticipated, and we never did use the hammocks that took up precious space. We also reflected on our ‘training’ prior to the trip. Perhaps we should have added some practice on hills to the miles across the prairie.On the Tuesday morning, Day 2, Dave made us a delicious breakfast. An important part of my personal resiliency plan is to surround myself with a strong network – one of which is a great cook! Despite the rain, we got an early start. We were thankful that we had packed our rain gear! A significant portion of the 32.5 miles to Hill City was downhill with one section going uphill. Because of the early morning, the light rain, and the secluded trail we saw a lot of wildlife including white tail deer, birds, squirrels, rabbits, buffalo as well as cows and horses. Granite and shale rock formations were an ever constant and it was amazing to see how the vegetation grew in the area. Throughout the week we marveled at the  Ponderosa Pine, the Black Hills Spruce (which appeared on the shadow side of the hills), Birch, and Aspen. We also saw daisies growing on the side of the hard trail, trees surprisingly growing out of rock formations, and areas with burnt trees due to wild fires; all evidence of the region’s resiliency.The trail has 15 trail heads, 100 converted railroad bridges and 4 rock tunnels. While on the trail, the sounds were amazing. The crushed limestone and granite trail surface contributed to the steady tempo of our wheels. The tempo changed when the trail surface changed, especially when we rode over the wooden bridges. Multiple birds contributed to the sounds, including the occasional screech of a hawk. The soft sound of the rain on the trail and on our rain gear added to the feeling of being in our own little world. The sounds of water running in the creeks, some with rapids, added to the experience. At times, sounds of civilization interrupted the tranquility as we occasionally heard chain saws or traffic on nearby roads.While on the trail, it seemed that all of my senses were working overtime. The great outdoors offered many scents from nature, including the smell of the rain, cow and horse droppings, and the whiff of smoke from fires at nearby campgrounds. The unique smell of the treated wood on the converted railroad bridges and the decay-type smell from the four tunnels will forever trigger memories of the experience. In addition, the smell of sweat reminded me that hard work was necessary to make progress towards our goals.Prior to the trip I had participated in a six week online “Mindfulness at Work” course through the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing. The course explored key mindfulness traits and identified how they relate to essential workplace skills, such as presence, emotional regulation, resilience, cognitive flexibility, and communication, all of which are critical skills for thriving at work. While on the bike trip I found myself applying some of the mindfulness skills to this non-work experience. Merriam-Webster defines mindfulness as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” In addition to being aware of the sights, sounds and smells I was experiencing I found myself concentrating on what I was feeling. The rain was wet. The mornings were cold. The afternoon sun was hot. I felt the wind blowing on me. I felt exhilaration when going downhill and felt the burn when I had to pedal uphill. My ears popped with the elevation changes. I had sore muscles. My mind was simply focusing on my surroundings and my interaction with them. I did not think about work or family responsibilities, challenges, joys or worries. I found myself being ‘in the moment’ and concentrating on the trail, what I was doing and where I was going. I found I had to balance my focus on identifying and avoiding obstacles on the trail (rocks, washed out portions of the trail, deer, watching for mountain lions and snakes) with simply being in the experience and enjoying the scenery and our surroundings. (BTW – we were thankful we didn’t see any mountain lions or snakes!)We felt a major sense of accomplishment as we rode our bikes down into Hill City. We felt much more confident (and proud) about our biking abilities at the end of Day 2 than we had at the end of Day 1. We spent two nights at the historic Alpine Inn, enjoying the beautiful facility and delicious food. It was nice to park our bikes for a full day to allow us to see the local sites – we walked around Hill City, rode an old time steam train to Keystone, and splurged on a helicopter ride around the faces of Mount Rushmore.Thursday morning we left Hill City and rode 15.1 miles to Custer. This included approximately 8 miles of incline and 7 miles of decline. We were happy we had planned for a day of rest, which allowed us to more successfully navigate the uphill stretch of the trail. We utilized some of the same resilience strategies from Day 1 — allowing ourselves to walk our bikes occasionally, stopping whenever we saw a bench to rest, have a snack and drink water. We admired some really good athletes on the trail and saw others who had to work hard, similar to ourselves. We realized that each person was having their own unique experience, and it wasn’t necessary to compare ourselves to others to measure our success. We arrived in Custer where our vehicle was located in time for lunch. It is amazing how much better food tastes after being in the outdoors (I had the best BLT served with blue cheese spread instead of mayonnaise)! As a treat I was able to secure a massage after lunch (self-care is important) while Dave caught a nap.We didn’t have plans for Friday before we headed home. I felt really good that morning so decided I wanted to attempt to finish the last 45 miles of the trail, which was primarily downhill. Dave agreed to drive the vehicle, connecting with me at three trailheads along the way and then finally picking me up in Edgemont. I was fortunate to meet a young man on the trail from New Jersey who became my riding partner for most of the day. We talked occasionally, but often rode in silence. It was nice to have someone to ride with and share the experience with. I was ecstatic when we arrived in Edgemont and I could say I rode the entire 109 mile trail!!Our bike trip on the Mickelson Trail was nearly nine months ago, but I continue to reflect on the experience. I think about what is necessary to build my personal resilience and my family’s resilience. I strive to be more mindful of what is happening in the here and now. I intentionally make plans and seek out relationships and build networks to increase our resilience. I admire the capacity of the communities around me to support their members and seek opportunities to contribute to those efforts.We are making plans for another bike trip this summer …Please share your stories. How do you build your personal resilience? Do your networks increase your resilience? How have you had success with mindfulness strategies?last_img read more

Anti-quota group to contest M.P. polls

first_imgSAPAKS, an anti-reservation organisation in Madhya Pradesh, announced on Tuesday that it is entering electoral politics and would contest all the 230 Assembly seats in the year-end elections in the State. Former IAS officer and patron of SAPAKS, Hiralal Trivedi, has been made president of the new party, it said. “On Tuesday, we formally announced formation of a political party — SAPAKS Party. It will contest all the 230 seats in the State. We will soon announce our candidates,” Mr. Trivedi told reporters. The party’s organisation general secretary Suresh Tiwari said that former IPS officers Vijay Wate and Veena Ghanekar, former State Health Department Director K.L. Sahu and Betul-based industrialist Rajiv Khandelwal have been appointed vice-presidents.SC/ST Act changes “Our main plank in the Assembly elections would be opposition to the recent amendments to the SC/ST Act which are against the Supreme Court verdict. We are also against reservation in promotion of government employees. We are also demanding reservation to the economically weaker section instead of caste-based reservation,” Mr. Tiwari said. The party would also contest Lok Sabha elections next year, he said. A section of government employees in M.P. had formed ‘Samanya, Pichda, Alpsankhyak Kalyan Samaj Sanstha’ (SAPAKS) two years ago to agitate against reservation in promotions.Protests galore The outfit recently staged protests in the State against Parliament’s amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. After the apex court inserted certain safeguards regarding immediate arrest under the Act, the amendment restored the original provisions.last_img read more