Each day I wake to a picture of Mother Earth that hangs on a wall across from my bed. Her colors are the shade of Salmon as they fight upstream waters to mate. Her blue shades are those of the oceans that buoy up thoughts of how deep does it go? The russet sands of windswept deserts. The white color is the home of Polar Bear and Penguins and the wonderment of what is beneath the ice flows.

There is another Picture of Mother Earth with the name Global Warming. Since I have not and will not be alive a millennium (1,000 years) I’ve not ventured into this quarrel. Yet, there are a few things I’ve noticed on the matter.

Since Mother Earth is a sort of Globe I would think that all governments would get on board with how to fix this critical dilemma that supposedly intends to obliterate humankind and any and all specie that consider Earth home. I do see wars—for whatever cause—high on lists. I see people wearing masks as winds share their caustic air. I see poverty that stores trash until the rains come and the rivers send it to the oceans. I see immigrants on capsized boats drowning in the seas and wonder how that changes the salt waters of Earth. And I see people with placards who hold responsible one another for The Cause.

Yet, each day that I glance over at my picture of Mother Earth I’m certain of one thing: Until humankind lives up to its name – HUMAN KIND – we the collective will miss treat one another. Then I get curious and wonder: How long will Mother Earth tolerate her errant children before she says ENOUGH!



The Ship Hector Ledger, 1773

Inevitably, spring arrived and the warmth of the sun brought forth new life. As people worked together, communities formed and began to prosper, creating new opportunities for the future generations to come.

Stories—lived or told—of yesterday’s immigrant porches are of generational gathering places where the past and the present were inseparable: an assembled sense of place.

My mind’s eye recollects a childhood in Corazon de Trinidad (Heart of Trinidad) where Italian and English emigrants gathered on our concrete porch. The elders rocked in wooden chairs and talked quietly (not always) in their native tongue. The women, in turn, exited a squeaky screen door near the kitchen: a warning to every wayward child that the guards were on duty. The men—their hands stained yellow with nicotine—leaned against the two red brick pillars that supported the porch or sat on the four crumbling concrete stairs that led to the front door. It was here they verbally wrestled one another—sometimes all at once—over the politics at the coal fields where they worked.  

Me… Well at seven I finally left the security of those red pillars wearing new tap shoes that clicked and clacked as I danced down the four concrete stairs and onto the red brick that lined our streets. My mother had determined: “Tap lessons might just cure your shyness.”

Today, black-and-white photographs suspend my immigrant family in time without end. And yet, to this day, I measure my sovereignty by the immigrant voices on our porch.

So I ask: “Might we, in some way, find our Immigrant Porch once again in the integration of family and values somehow lost as we all tapped away from our past?”

The American Dream

Is it still possible to achieve that elusive American Dream?
Article first published as The American Dream on Technorati

James Truslow Adams coined the term American Dream in his 1931 book: The Epic of America. “…That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. …It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are…”

Ah… The American Dream!  It’s been around quite a while; certainly earlier than Adams’ 1931 interpretation. It arrived on our shores in the hearts and minds of millions of immigrants looking for those elusive streets of gold.

These days we hear the American Dream tossed about by: we who pursue instant wealth in lieu of thrift and hard work; we who no longer believe in its premise; we who exploit it; terrorism that begrudge us its assurance; educational systems that debate or debunk it; immigration policies that don’t address it; politicians who guarantee it; religions that give no voice to it, and those quiet fears spoken in America’s neighborhoods that warn “…it is dying.”

At the core of the American Dream are its immigrants, our forefathers and mothers who wanted to escape religious, racial and political persecution, or seek relief from a lack of economic opportunity or famine. In the beginning contract labor agreements offered by recruiting agents drew immigrants to fill a need for workers in coal mines, steel plants and all trades: America’s Melting Pot. I grew up in a large family of English and Italian immigrants, all coal miners. My grandparents informed me; more than once, “…We work hard to make a better life. This is our legacy to you.” Each of us shares in this generational legacy begun by hardworking immigrants who for centuries  carved out their place in the American Dream.

Maybe, instead of our political system of two opposite elements that like tungsten when it reaches its highest melting point, no one dares to touch it. Not unlike politics really, rhetoric and promises heat up but consensus is never reached… And another election cycle begins. Ah, if only there were something called the American Dream, you know the one: the one that comes down on the side of the people.

Or, perhaps like our other dreams, upon waking we no longer hear the voices of our immigrant ancestors who ask: “What happened?”