labors of love and other pursuits hidden in plain view in the Florida Keys and beyond


Was copied with this email by its sender yesterday.
Hey Erika,
Great job on the Hidden in Plain View project, which I was turned on to  thanks to Sloan Bashinsky. Please pass on my kudos to Sheelman as well. I  put the clip up on my CPS facebook page with a push to take it viral.  (see link…and like us if you do )
Keep up the great work, chica and have a wonderful holiday season.  Merry Christmas & all the best in the new year to both you and Joel. If I  get down for the holidays I’ll give you a shout to see if we can catch lunch or  a cuppa something.

I replied to Vicki, with a copy to Erika:

Hi, Vicki – don’t see Hidden In Plain View opening youtube link on your FB page. I ain’t all that smart about FB, perhaps it’s hidden in plain view :-) .  Sloan


Viki replied:

Hey Sloan,
Sorry, I should have been a little more clear. I had only put it on my Coffee Party Savannah facebook page which is the one I thought would pump up the visibility. Check that out and like us if you do, tho, I’ve now added it to my personal page as well – which was sort of a no brainer, but there you go. ;)
Merry Christmas to you,
Vicki Weeks shared a link via Coffee Party Savannah.
Way to go KW One Human Family proponents Erika Biddle and Sheelman. This is one that DEFINITELY deserves to go viral – if you like, please take a minute to share!

Hidden in Plain View
Opening night of a stirring and poignant exhibit addressing homelessness in the ‘Southernmost City’ Key West Florida

I wrote this “like” on Vicki’s Facebook page:
Thanks, Vicki. Erika did a terrific job, Sheelman’s photos are riveting. A labor of love. They gave of themselves, asked for nothing in return. Sloan
Vicki has been on my email hit list since probably around 2003, when she wrote for Celebrate Magazine (spelling?) in Key West, a gay publication, and I was a homeless person living in a Florida Keys Outreach Coalition (FKOC) shelter, running for Mayor of Key West.
On a somewhat related front, received this yesterday on Facebook from Jonathan Horwitz, a ex-pat American shaman friend of Erika’s living in Scandinavia:
Dear People! Tomorrow 12.12.12 is my Birthday! PLEASE if you feel like giving a gift, give one to yourself by pledging some money to Lenore Norrgard’s film-project kickstarter fund. The film is called “American Ubuntu” – I know the “American” part of the title can be a turn-off for some – but Dear Ones, we ARE all connected and this film is about us -The 99% – and especially those of us who practice shamanism. So, if you are one of the many who want to see this film, you may never see it if you don’t pledge $1, $10, $100, $1000 – or maybe even be an associate producer! Go for it! And THANK YOU! There is only 24 hours left! Black heart (cards) Black heart (cards) Black heart (cards) Black heart (cards) Jonathan PS Click the link!! More
AMERICAN UBUNTU – a healing story for the USA
An FBI agent, his estranged daughter, and her Black Panther stepfather collide as they respond to the tragedies of September 11.

To which I replied:
In the video, Lenore says American Ubuntu is a gift to America. Does that mean Lenore and others who might particpate in producing it will not make money from it?
To which inquiry, I have not yet received a reply.
I Googled Jonathan Hortwitz and found:
“Jonathan Horwitz has studied  and worked with shamanism since 1972. For eight years he was on the staff of The  Foundation for Shamanic Studies, USA. Jonathan has an M.A. in anthropology, and  is a shamanic counselor (HMSC).”
I Googled Lenore and saw she also trained at the Foundation for Shamanic Studies.
I found this on another Lenore Norrgard Google link:
“I have known Lenore for years and I have deep respect for her work, her teachings, and for how many people she has touched. She is a brilliant teacher, and I am delighted she is sharing such profound work. Lenore is grounded in full integrity, and shares from the depth of her creative nature.” 

Sandra Ingerman, author of Soul Retrieval and Medicine for the Earth

Twice, I drove from Boulder, Colorado to Santa Fe, New Mexico to see Sandra Ingerman, hoping she would be able to help me. She did two soul retrievals, but I saw no effect and she herself told me what what I was into was beyond her range. She told me that she had trained under Michael Harner, at his Foundation for Shamanic Studies.

Later, I looked up Michael Harner and his Foundation for Shamanic Studies. Everyone involved in that shaman school had an official corporate title, including Sandra Ingerman. I felt they were a bit top heavy on the corporate ladder climbing and turning shamanism into a commercial enterprise.

My recollection is, Michael Harner did shaman training in South America, perhaps Brazil, and returned to the states and started his shaman school and charged his students $$ for his instruction. First time I’d heard of shaman apprentices having to pay money to receive shaman training, and am pretty sure, in pure form, shamen do not charge anything for their services. It came pretty darn strong yesterday that all involved in the American Unbutu project should do it without any profit, if they want it to reach its full potential.

When Erika Biddle first asked me if I was interested in participating in the Hidden In Plain View exhibition, the first thing I did was inquire about who was involved, and were they trying to further their own business interests? I said I would participate, if there was none of that, and no trying to save homeless people, and the only goal was to put on the exhibition. Erika said she was okay with that, and that’s how I became involved.


How I came to run for mayor of Key West in 2003 was Florida Keys Outreach Coalition’s CEO Steven Braddock and Key West Planning Board Commissioner Bill Verge, who  later would become a city commissioner, asked me to run for mayor because of what they’d heard me say about homeless people at city commission meetings. I said I needed to sleep on it. Then, I told Steve I was hearing that God wanted him to run for mayor. Steve said he had too much on his plate. Then, I was told in a dream it was okay for me to run. Steve and Bill gave me the filing fee, so I could enter the race. I filed to run.

That night I was told in my sleep, “If you know what’s good for you, you will do all you can to get Jimmy Weekly re-elected.” Jimmy was mayor, in maybe his 3rd term. He was the one elected city official who viewed homeless people as members of God’s One Human Family. I told Steve and Bill what I’d been told, and then I told Jimmy what I’d been told, but to let me break the news. He said ok.
Maybe two days later was the first candidate forum, hosted by the Key West Business Guild at the Holiday Inn, which is where Beachside now is at the top of Key West, where US 1 heads up the Keys. The Business Guild was started by Key West gays and was predominantly a gay organization. I arrived a little early and was told who went first would be determined by drawing numbers out of a hat. I was given the hat and drew out a piece of paper with 1 on it and was told I would go first. No other candidates had arrived yet.
After the preliminaries, the forum began.
In my opening remarks, I said I was the uncandidate, I dispised politics and hated cutting ribbons and kissing babies. I said I was only running because God had told me to run, in a dream. I said after being told to run, I was told in my sleep that if I knew what was good for me, I would do all I could to try to get Jimmy Weekley re-elected. I paused, looked around the audience, then asked them what were they thinking by talking about not re-electing Jimmy Weekly, after all the had done for their community? He was in their camp, had even gone to Washington D.C. to walk in a gay rights protest march. I said, sure, Jimmy had made some mistakes, but he was dealing with those mistakes and the gays should reelect him.
Back then, gays were about 30 percent of the Key West adults. I figured the mayor’s race was over right then and there, because I was mobbed and thanked after the forum ended. It went like that the rest of the campaign, Jimmy received 60 percent of the vote in a 5-candidate race, and there was no run-off therefore.
That was how I entered politics in Key West. That, and when Bill Becker interviewed me on US 1 Radio shortly after I filed to run, he asked me to tell the audience why I was running, a standard question, he knew nothing about me as far as I knew. I said I was running because God told me to run. God told me to run? Yeah, in a dream, God told me to run. I told Bill and his listeners the short version of a somewhat longer, more colorful story.
Also during that time, I had become friends with Buzz Dillion, Key West’s police chief. That came about after he heard me speak a few times at city commission meetings, and he came over to me and introduced himself and asked me to some see him at his office, he wanted to talk about homeless issues. I went to see him the next day, and thus began our friendship. That I was homeless was not important to Buz. He was tired of his police being used by the city to enforce its social policy against homeless people. He wanted his police to do police work.
Yet Buzz had two officers, as I recall, who were cowboys and loved making homeless people’s lives miserable, for sport. Between my missives and his embarassement over these two cowboys, Buzz reined them in, and there was a pretty good treatment of most homeless people for a while. The bad ones went to jail. Public showers were installed by FKOC at the police station, and Porto-lets. Homeless people got to shower daily. I cleaned the showers every night for FKOC, which was part of my job. The other part was running for mayor.
Then, Buzz was run off by City Manager Julio Avael. because Buzz had had Key West the Newspaper’s Publisher Dennis Cooper jailed for publishing information about an Internal Affairs Investigation while the investigation was still in progress. After that, the situation grew rougher for Key West’s homeless people, although I have to say, it was not Julio Avael’s doing, but was the City Commission’s doing.
Julio and Assistant City Manager John Jones mostly were sympathetic toward homeless poeple. Julio was a conch. John was orginally from Alabama and we became pretty good friends even though he had graduated from Auburn and said I had graduated from Bryce University, the state mental hospital next door to the University of Alabama.
It was Julio and John, in early 1994, who told homeless people, with winks and nods, that we could pitch our tents on the Bridle Path across from Smathers Beach, until the new homeless shelter was built on Stock Island. It was Steve Braddock, Sam Kaufman, Attorney at Law, and myself who convinced Julio and John, the City Commission and Mayor Jimmy Weekley that they and the city would be sued in federal court, if they did not let homeless people sleep somewhere.
So now you know why KOTS was built. But for Steve, Sam and me, the city would have put its homeless people in jail just for being homeless. If you don’t believe me, ask Julio Avael and John Jones, now in “retirement”, and Jimmy Weekley, now a city commissioner.
Every time I ran for office after that was because I was told in dreams to run. I still detest politics. I still hate cutting ribbons and kissing babies. That showed again yesterday afternoon at the School Board workshop at Marathon High School.
I was feeling poorly because of all of the above rumbling around in me, and arrived about 40 minutes after the workshop had started, but in time to hear School Board member Ron Martin, former Principal of Coral Shores High School in Tavernier, again make a pitch for the School District getting serious about beefing up vocational training in the high schools. I had known all day that was what I would address during citizen comments.
Ron was told by Superintendent Mark Porter that this year is not a good time to address vocational training, it will require the high schools going to 7 teaching periods a day, and there are not the funds for that, and other educational opportunities and programs will have to be cut to bring it off. Ron was told to wait until next year to press for more vocational training in the high schools.
I was fuming, because of the School District’s:
VISION STATEMENT: Graduates of Monroe County Schools are Responsible and Well Informed Global Citizens Who are College and/or Career Ready.
I also fumed while Board member John Dick talked about how important it is for the District to retain its top ranking among Florida school districts. John said it is good for businesses and Realtors to be able to tell clients that Keys schools are better than mainland schools, and if that means the District has to succumb to the FCAT and other school district testing coming out of Tallahassee, to get a top school district rating, then so be it. The District has to look good compared to other school districts in Florida.
Of course, new Board member Ed Davidson chewed that up. He said the District needs to focus on helping students become all they can be, so they have the best chance of doing well in life. Ed really went at it yesterday, and I don’t imagine School Board meetings are going to be nearly as drole and civil for the next 4 years that he’s on the Board.
The workshop ran out of items about 25 minutes early, and Board Chairman Andy Griffiths tried to end the workshop. I asked Andy if citizen comments would not be allowed, since it was a workshop? Andy said normally citizen comments are not allowed at workshops, back and forth is not part of workshops. I said back and forth is not part of School Board meetings, either – citizens don’t get to ask questions, be interactive. Andy agreed. I said this is a workshop, the public should be allowed to address issues raised in the workshop. Andy was not happy, but he said okay, if I was brief, and no long sermon. I said I would be brief, I wanted to speak to something that was raised during the workshop.
I went to the designated citizen speaker place and looked at Ron Martin and said he was right. Now, not later, is when the Board needs to move on increasing vocational education in the high schools. I said the argument that there is not ability to have seven periods is incorrect, because Coral Shores High School has seven periods, so it can have more vocational education courses. I said that was Ron’s high school. I said seven periods has been test driven, proven. The argument against it I do not accept. The problem lies in the other two high schools, the staff, the parents.  There is “racial prejudice” against vocational education there. The District’s vision is to have students college and/or career ready upon graduation from high school. That is a promise to this community, which the School Board has not kept. They got an F-minus grade on the career-ready half of the vision, although one of the high schools is doing better than the other two high schools.
The other citizen there was Larry Murray. He spoke choice words during the citizen comments part of the regular School Board meeting, which followed the workshop. As Larry said in his letter to the editor in The Key West Citizen, the other school board candidates, who were defeated this year, who went on about how interested they were in our schools, have not been seen nor heard from since they were beaten. As much as the School Board would like to see Larry go away, it ain’t gonna happen. I might not remain as involved as Larry, but I will remain involved. I remain involved in issues which concern offices for which I have run, as the Monroe County Commission and the Key West City Commission certainly know.
Sloan Bashinsky

About Sloan

That's what this website is about, also and If you can't get a publisher to take on your wacky musing, you do it yourself.
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