Celebrate Your Otherness

African Americans Allowed to Vote

The word Diaspora comes from a Greek word that means to “sow or scatter seeds.” A group of Diaspora has the special characteristic of attempting to preserve their culture and religious beliefs.

It’s this “otherness” within us that constantly attempts to recreate experiences validating pieces of ourselves carried from the past.  When I traverse North Carolina experiencing different cultural events I can’t help but marvel at the rich tapestry of varying cultural experiences responsible for the unique qualities making up North Carolina.

The amazing experience of seeing the Black Mambazo group in Clayton,NC  was surreal at best. Here was lil O’l me,  far away from my birth country experiencing a performance that was a symbol of hope. The group started spreading  the message of love when apartheid was the order of the day in South Africa. Now 52 years later and a bunch of Grammy awards  under their belt, the group still continues delivering  beaming smiles, lively songs interspersed with gravity defying leaps left everyone awash with gratitude at this once in a lifetime experiences.

Black Mambazo In Clayton, NC

10 Super Cheap Things to do In the Triangle

Super Cheap- Super EasyTHINGS TO DO WHEN RETIRED TO STAY ALERT AND AC...

Living in the Triangle has its moments. Proximity to Raleigh, Durham and Cary means that there are choices galore of things to do.  The choices however are easily narrowed down when one factor’s in cost. Cost is prohibitive, if like me money or lack thereof plays a role in determining your family entertainment.  Since I am determined to get out with my family, I have been working hard to find free family entertainment that is not cost prohibitive.  This week’s list of 10 things is based on all free activities that I found to attend with family and friends. Well, almost free but which is as close as one can get  in our great Capitalist society.

  1. Occupy Raleigh or Occupy Durham– We wanted to attend this free event, but stopped short when we realized that we didn’t really relish the idea of getting arrested and then having to ante up precious $$ to get out. So in the spirit of free speech and down with Corporate greed , I say “ Go Occupiers! Go Occupiers! If I wasn’t a jobless immigrant scared of getting arrested, I’d be out there with you!”  Watch this video as arrests are made in Raleigh http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d44nW5yQhaw
  2. State Fair– I am glad we went to this almost free event. I refuse to feel guilty about what I ate there. The funnel cakes were amazing…and that was only desert.  We lumbered down the maze of paths stopping frequently for an endless variety of entertainment. Great job NC State fair!
  3. Diwali Festival– We decided to be Indian for a day and went to the local Diwali Festival. The Indian culture was vibrant in this absolutely free festival that celebrated Indian New Year. Festivities included an Indian Dancing Group from Russia (huh?) who performed in authentic Indian costumes and kept the crowd enthralled with their fancy footwork and constant twirls.  I wonder……would anyone notice if I bought one of those outfits and wore them in the street? The event culminate with an amazing firework display.
  4. Halloween Festival in Cary– Cary did not disappoint. Friends and family came out for the Cary fest at the Herb Young Community Center. As with any free event of this magnitude, we (the parents) spent majority of our time lining up and administering veiled threats to keep kids in place. At least we were rewarded with a hayride through down town Cary.
  5. Trick or Treating at the Cary Town Mall– Greatest idea ever! All in one place. One stop shop. Although a wee bit too crowded, this was a wonderful idea considering it had been raining outside.  Some of the stores like ‘The Children’s Place’ managed to stay true to the economic times by tricking the kids and treating the parents. In true corporate fashion, they didn’t buy candy but opted for the lame discount coupons that they handed out with a sticker stapled on the back of it. I will never forget the  dismayed expression of my son who somehow managed  a hollow “thank you” and scuttled for other hopeful prospects.
  6. The trails in Apex- Apex Community Park has a gorgeous 50 acre lake surrounded with trails. All free for family entertainment.  Running in these trails puts you in a peaceful state of mind that sets the tone for your day. I highly recommend this free activity. Next stop fishing.
  7. Great for Picnicking Walnut Street ParkRecently upgraded the playground offers padded surfaces for little tykes to tumble safely and approximately 1 mile of mulched trail. It looks nice and new. Great for Picnicking while taking in the fall colors.
  8. MeetUp– Its getting colder and a great way to get of the house is to figure out what it is you are interested in and go meet others like you who have the same interest. The Triangle has a lot of meetup groups. It has so many in fact, that I have to find time to sort through the sheer volumes of spam that I now get as a result of joining them.  It looks like there are hundreds of people in the Triangle, wanting to meet and not go broke doing so.
  9. A Good Book never led you astray– The libraries in Wake County have been proving to be full of surprises. With lots of workshops, seminars and guest talks, we have found plenty to keep us busy on the odd evening when we just want to get out for an hour or so without too much prep work involved. I have my favorites but for different reasons. The Eva Perry Library is grand and gives that  libary’ish feel, the Cary Library is great for my son because all the kids books are in one area that is easily accessible and Cameron Village Library serves a dual purpose for when I should be working but want to buy coffee and people watch at the same time.
  10. Volunteering– I can’t say enough on this topic. I volunteer quite a bit and feel that the best way to be a critic of anything is to actually get involved in the process of changing the ‘thing’ that you want to see change in the first place. So get out and volunteer If you can. Make your mark in the world.

There is plenty of inexpensive things to do.  I know that members of the Diaspora have tremendous challenges to face while trying to adjust in the society they have found themselves and I hope  that will list of 10 Super Cheap Things to do, you too can find a way to get out into the community and be part of it without feeling like there is a financial barrier.

Doing Good for Others by Doing Good for Yourself

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

Mahatma Gandhi led India towards receiving Independence from Britain through peaceful protests

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Mahatma Gandhi

 

I moved to North Carolina in the summer. Once settled,  my mission was to  get involved in the community. I had done some volunteer work in Minneapolis and experienced the intrinsic value of getting up and being involved (albeit in a small way) in affecting change in the community. Once in North Carolina, I pulled up a list of non-profits in the area. A deliberate investigation into the philosophies of each of the non-profits educated me in the needs of the community and re-affirmed causes that I would like to get involved in.

Restorative Justice, Reentry efforts  are two such topics. Topics that address the needs of the Diaspora (and hence the birth of this blog). Women’s advocacy issues are also of interest to me. So many great causes, and little  o’l me. I knew I had to pick one and so I did.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” Mahatma Gandhi

 

I picked Restorative Justice. Crime has a way of indiscriminately affecting not just the individual but the family (women included) and the community at large. This is how I ended up at the doorstep of Community Success Initiative in Raleigh. It was not normal for someone to call out of the blue to volunteer because when I first called, the receptionist said they didn’t think there was anything they had for me to do there. I insisted that I be put through to the President of the organization and was not a little  surprised when I was. A short time later I found myself starting the journey towards volunteering.

Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.” Mahatma Gandhi

Someone once said that, most of us want to do good but we have no clear  idea how to get started. Getting started begins with just going somewhere and actually doing good. Thinking about doing good eats up the time you could actually be out there doing it.

In the Spirit of Doing Good, I have included a brochure to an event that I intend to go to and possibly blog about later. Proceeds from this event will be used by organizations in Raleigh to continue to help the community such as the youth.  See you there.

 

Do Good by Doing Some Good for Yourself

Diaspora Rumblings……10 Things in the Triangle

Fayetteville St Raleigh, NC

Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, NC

So now I am living in North Carolina and have taken to driving around occasionally to know the area. As I herd my car in the general direction of where most cars are headed I can’t help but notice the following 10 things thus far:

  1. There lots and lots of churches in North Carolina… Driving for a period of 15 minutes I counted 5 churches. Possible business idea?
  2. Lots of Lots of BB&T Bank terminals. Just one more try… you might get lucky and get some more money out.
  3. The heat in the summer tested my seasoned  Minnesota niceness. Time to move a little slower and take my time.
  4. Who in the world is planning the sidewalks? While running on the sidewalk,  I suddenly ran into a wall of trees, with nothing but highway to consider as an option. There was nowhere to go but back home.
  5. Why couldn’t the streets just be numbered? How am I supposed to remember all these names?
  6. Trees! Trees! Trees!  It’s so green! Oh wait what does that building say? Dangit, A tree is blocking the building name.
  7.  Taking a serene walk in the park, I ran into signs nailed to trees warning me of possible Copperheads in the area……Looks like my home is serene after all.
  8. Went to an African Festival in Raleigh last month. It was great! The Kenyan Group performing gymnastics was awesome. The African Children’s choir was inspiring too. Nothing but pleasure here.
  9. Had to go to court for some…uuheemm..personal business.. Not a lot of Diaspora here but a puzzling air of festivity…I learned so much in 40 minutes…mmhh!!
  10. Went to an Indian Restaurant  in Cary, and right in the middle of a meal, a Caucasian girl came out and belly danced awkwardly for the clientage for 30 minutes. Talk about a Jack in the Box moment!!

Looking forward to more exploration in my Diaspora adventures.