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In yesterday’s “insane asylum update” post, was this from Connie Gilbert, of Key West:
when you say “battered women’s shelter,” that’s the questionable Marathon DAS … Samuel’s House [in Key West] accepts all women in crisis and I honor and applaud their work. The DAS Marathon is little more than a scam to provide its director with a salary of (I know this is hard to believe, but it’s what I heard at a BOCC meeting) $160k.
Bob Kelly, of Key West, replied to that:
Robert E Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To: Sloan Bashinsky
Cc: Arnaud & Naja Girard
From: Robert E Kelly (email@example.com)
Sent: Thu 10/03/13 10:30 AM
To: Sloan Bashinsky (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cc: Arnaud & Naja Girard (email@example.com)
Good update today (10/3) , Sloan.
I had one brief contact with the DAS a year-and-a-half ago when closing down the BCCLT. We gave away all of the physical assets — furniture, equipment, supplies, etc. — remaining after the Housing Authority took ownership of the real property assets. We were required by our by-laws to offer everything to other non-profits. DAS was one of several who asked for and were given some things.
Connie’s observation interested me, so I did a quick on-line investigation. Here’s what I now know:
1. Domestic Abuse Shelter, Inc. is a 501(3) ( c) non-profit Corporation. It was formed in 1981 and has operated continuously It is governed by a Board of Directors. As recently as 2010, the chair of the board was Larry Kahn, Editor of the Keynoter
2. In 2010, DAS applied for a $40,000 grant from the Monroe County Human Services Advisory Board. The application required that certain information be supplied, including financial information.
3. The DAS proposal for the year ending June 30, 20011 showed that the organization would employ a total of 21.5 FTE employees and have a payroll of just over $716,000. In addition, payroll taxes and benefits amounting to just over $201,000 brought the total personnel budget to $917,625. $118,240 was the total compensation package for the Chief Executive Officer; another $66,883 was compensation for the Associate Director.
4. Primary sources of revenue were from two grants. The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence contributed $671,191. Another $351,903 came from a grant under the Victims of Crime Act. These two grants made up 84% of the total revenues. The remaining 16% came from a variety of smaller grants and other fundraising done by the organization.
5. In March of this year (2013) the organization changed its principal address from Marathon Shores to 301 Southard Street in Key West. (Its mailing address remains at Marathon Shores.) Larry Kahn remains on the board as VP. The President is Carolyn Cotter Ambler; CEO is Venita Garvin Valdez.
I’m keeping this factual for a reason. I draw no conclusions from anything I’ve written. I’ve seen first-hand what can happen when a non-profit organization falls under suspicion and some people reach conclusions about it that may or may not be justified by the facts. It can lead to destruction. I don’t want to be the kind who seeks to harm any group that provides a useful and/or necessary social safety net.
So, I just put the facts out there. As time allows, I’ll pay attention and see what else I can discover.
Keep on keeping on,
I sent Bob’s to Connie, with this note:
Bob Kelly did some digging into that domestic abuse shelter in Marathon you slammed. Do you care to elaborate on your earlier comment, Connie?
Please tell Bob I stand corrected and apologize for passing on rumor as fact. I admire his research. But I do have my reasons.
I wrote back to Connie:
What did you hear at the BOCC meeting?
What are your reasons?
It was an appropriations meeting in Marathon at which non-profits justified their previously submitted requests for county funding and the budgeted pot (maybe from the Sheriff’s impound fund?) was distributed. In the late 1990s DAS Director Garvin (she may not have been married then) was asked by KW NOW for a copy of their budget and service stats. We were desperate to get help for women in KW, and they were claiming to serve them.
I did the asking. She told me it was none of my business. My error was being intimidated and not searching further. But then Elmira solved the problem for us– with NOW’s full support.
Viki Weeks, of Savannah, who wrote for Celebrate when she lived in Key West, wrote yesterday:
I meant to drop you a note yesterday to say thank you for the news on the dredging win. Whew! That was some of the best news I’d heard coming out of the Keys in a long time. I think you should take a little bow for keeping the heat on.
Hi, Vicki – thanks, but if I take a bow, that exposes my flank more than it already is exposed, and, besides, lots of other people are taking bows for how the referendum turned out, and I’m being pounded, let’s see, I’m insane, a loose cannon, a wing nut, maybe I will remember more later.
How I see what happened on election day was, the voters put a stop to what already is terrible, cruise ships, becoming more terrible down the road – at least, stopped that for a while. As I see it, Phase 2 is to rid Key West of the dirtiest, worst possible cruise ships.
Hope all well with you.
I still say a very good start toward ridding Key West of those cruise ships is to bring in a new breed of tourists, who come down here and spend nights and far more money than cruise ship passengers and do not pollute Duval Street or the ocean. How you do that is designate the upper half of Smathers Beach clothing optional. No money will have to be spent advertising it. Word of mouth will spread quickly on the Internet around the world. But I repeat myself, I repeat myself, I repeat myself.
Erika Biddle, of Key West, sent this yesterday:
The essay was written by my friend Ray Jason. Ray was a KW taxi driver when we first met. He now lives on his sailboat somewhere in Panama. You might enjoy his insights and observations.
Perhaps you had a chance to read his essay “napalm girl” which I forwarded to the Blue Paper and Naja included it a few weeks ago.
THE SEA GYPSY PHILOSOPHER
Uncommon Essays from a Thoughtful Wanderer
IN PRAISE OF PANTHEISM
by Ray Jason
Deep ocean full moon
It has been 23 years since a mystical experience jolted my consciousness. But the memory of that event remains so vivid, that it could have been only 23 seconds ago. AVENTURA and I were Westbound in the immense Pacific. There was no land within a thousand miles in any direction.
Several dolphins had surrounded us, but they were behaving in a strange manner. Instead of frolicking in the bow wave as they normally do, they were repeatedly circling from bow to stern. I tried to decipher this, and guessed that they were pointing out the majestic full moon looming directly ahead. Or perhaps they were agitated by the
powerful rain squall that had just ended.
Suddenly, a particularly large dolphin approached to within a few feet, pivoted its body, and actually looked me in the eye. Mesmerized, I followed its path as it circled back behind the boat. And there, emblazoned across the sky in shimmering magnificence, was a moonbow! Bands of luminous silver, opaque white and misty lavender arched across the eastern horizon.
I shouted my thanks to the dolphins for alerting me to this phenomenon that very few people ever witness. And then a staggering awareness overwhelmed me. I realized that of the billions of humans on Planet Earth, because of my mid-ocean isolation, I was probably the only one witnessing this exquisite spectacle.
Soon the moonbow dissipated and the clouds dispersed. The universe dispatched its million twinkling messengers to remind me of its incomprehensible vastness. Lying on my back, on the deck of my tiny boat, in this gigantic ocean, on a small planet, in this immeasurable cosmos, I received my baptism as a pantheist. It was at that moment that I excommunicated myself from human-created gods, and embraced the sanctity of Nature and the glory of the Universe. This majesty – this mystery – this miracle – seemed truly worthy of human reverence.
And as I now peer at our world, 23 years later, the value of pantheism is even more evident, since humans continue to slaughter each other in the name of their multitude of “one true gods.” Whether it is muslims against christians or shiites versus sunnis or tamils battling hindus, our planet is awash in unnecessary bloodshed.
And yet it is all so easily avoidable. Name one war ever fought in the name of pantheism!!! But if I asked you to list some of the evils directly linked to human-spawned gods, the catalog would be long and horrible. It would include:
· Religious wars and crusades
· Persecutions of “infidels”
· Human sacrifice
· Fostering the terrifying myth of Hell
· Rejection of scientific discoveries
· Suicide bombers
· Demonization of our natural sexuality
· Claiming that innocent babies are born “soiled”
· Forcing unwanted children on poor, overburdened parents by threatening eternal hellfire
· Justification for slavery
· Reducing females to a subservient status to males
What a dreadful cavalcade of atrocities has been visited upon the world and its creatures in the name of organized religions. The defenders of these faiths often justify these horrors by claiming that churches are necessary because they provide a moral foundation for the world. The absurdity of such a claim would be comical if it wasn’t so tragic.
Look again at that litany of terrors and ask yourself this. “Could any of them be committed in the name of the love of Nature or in the name of basic human decency?” Of course not, but they ALL have been committed in the name of somebody’s favorite god. And this continues right up to this very moment. In fact, as I type this sentence, somewhere in the world an innocent child is probably being killed or mutilated because of religious fanaticism.
Let us consider the roots of religion. Our early ancestors were surrounded by inexplicable, terrifying forces such as thunder, lightning, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes. Because of their limited knowledge, they suspected that these horrors were caused by invisible gods. And in order to obtain the mercy of these gods, they paid homage to them in various ways. So the original “religious impulse” was a survival strategy.
But with the arrival of what I call Conquest Agriculture about 10,000 years ago, religion changed from a survival strategy to an “exploitation strategy.” Food surpluses eliminated the hunter/gatherer lifestyle, and led to social hierarchies, divisions of labor and the disastrous emergence of rulers and priests. These early religious tyrants realized that if they claimed to be intermediaries between the gods and the frightened people, that they could gain enormous power and wealth.
But when reason and science were able to prove that thunder, lightning, floods, etc were not unleashed by unknowable behind-the-scenes gods, but through very knowable natural laws, the priests should have disappeared. After all, there was no longer a need for human emissaries to non-existent gods. But the bishops and mullahs and rabbis were not willing to surrender their wealth and power. So, in order to keep the “con” going, they played the “enemy” card. As long as the people could be convinced that other religions were a threat, then the need for priests could continue. It is a vile charade forced upon us by power-junkie psychopaths.
Allow me to demonstrate how pantheism can break the spell of these conjurers. But first I will clearly define what pantheism is for me. It is not the “god is everywhere” version. On the contrary, it is the “god is nowhere, but Nature is everywhere” variety. It permits me to exhibit reverence towards something that is indisputably authentic and evident as opposed to worshipping a being whose existence cannot even be proven. Now let me describe its many positive and powerful aspects.
There is no “enemy” in pantheism. People don’t go to war over who has the most beautiful waterfalls. There is no need for all of the trappings of institutional religion. Who needs cathedrals and mosques on a planet lush with redwood forests and pristine shorelines? All of the money spent on such prideful glorification could be allocated to far more important needs such as universal clean drinking water or birth control that does not diminish pleasure.
Pantheists do not dictate how people should conduct their lives. There are no commandments from invisible sky bosses. Caring deeply about the planet and all of its creatures is a far wiser ethical foundation than rules supposedly imposed by a dictator in the clouds who is paranoid that his human pawns might worship false idols.
Pantheists enjoy fuller and richer daily lives because they don’t view this existence as a dress rehearsal for some heavenly paradise. This is it, so we embrace it with vibrant enthusiasm. We are also not obsessed with the “How did this all happen?” issue. The wonders of the Cosmos are no less magical and amazing just because we cannot fully comprehend them. They are still holy, and worthy of our reverence.
Pantheism also provides a fulfilling alternative for the many borderline atheists out there who recognize the absurdity and evil in organized religion, but are troubled by the lack of spirituality in atheism. Although Richard Dawkins is a pre-eminent atheist, when I hear him speak about the wonders to be found through the microscope and the telescope, he sounds to me like a pantheist poster boy.
Finally, let me revisit the title of this essay – In Praise of Pantheism. I have tried to convince you that pantheism is the ideal spiritual practice for our present, troubled era. It eliminates all of the horrors of institutional religions that I listed earlier, and yet it fulfills our need for something outside of ourselves that is extraordinary and worthy of adoration. At a time when human activities are destroying our very life support system, how can we not turn to a sacred path that reveres our great mother, the Earth, and worships her great mother, the Universe?
After finishing this essay I googled around looking for other insights on modern-day pantheism, and discovered what appears to be an excellent organization and website. I recommend www.pantheism.net
Hi, Erika -
Thanks, I did not read “napalm girl”, but did see the probably now eternal photo of the naked Vietnamese girl. I cannot find a search space at www.thebluepaper.com, to find that article by author or title.
This is Wikipedia’s introductory definition:
Pantheism is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God,  or that the universe (or nature) is identical with divinity. Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphicgod.
My view, there is only one God, with more names than the stars in the heavens, and everything emanates therefrom. My view also is, on this world, people invented religions, people try to make God in their own imagine, people believe what they want to believe, and some people actually have conscious direct experiences with something not of this world, which sets them apart from everyone else. What happened that evening with the dolphins and the moonbow certainly was not of the human world.
I twice have seen clouds suddenly part in storms, to allow airliners I was on to land, after just moments before the pilot told the passengers there would be a considerable wait circling until the storm passed. The clouds parted, in each case, after I told the passenger sitting next to me that something was going to happen, a demonstration, for that passenger. Once was over the old Denver airport, the second time was flying into Kathmandu.
Not all bad things are caused by religion, but a lot of bad things are. I wonder how Ray Jason would respond to direct contact with Lucifer? With Archangel Michael. With Jesus? With Kali? Some of the “personages” I have had direct contact with. They existed before there was any religion on this planet, before there were any people on this planet. I relate to them in their way, I relate to people in their way. Two entirely different experiences.
I once had a spectacular poem burst out of me, an eulogy to my long-dead son. Unaware me, it burst forth, later I realized, on the 26 anniversary of his funeral. In my cosmology, 26 is the number for God. I shared the poem with my next-door neighbor, who was blown away by it, as were other people, including me, and it truly erupted out of me. Had rainbows in it. A few days passed, the neighbor called early one morning, maybe a hour after dawn, and told me to go out in my back yard and look toward the mountains. I did that. Against a very dark storm over the front range of the Rockies was a spectacular rainbow, one end of which, the left end as I faced it, seemed to rise up out of the roof of my home.
When I see an eagle, I know great change is coming. When there is a power outage, I know great change is coming. When I see a man o’ war bird, I know spiritual warfare and very good soul fishing are coming. When I do a soul drawing, I know something is coming. There were 5 soul drawings in the recent series. I was almost sure they were about the referendum going the way it went, and there probably are other levels yet still residing in spirit not yet manifest in human sight. It that pantheism? I don’t know. I never considered pantheism in that light. To me, it’s just part and parcel of what is, and I am enmeshed in it, aware of it, while often being called various names by people who never had one direct experience such as the dolphins and the moonbow.
I have for some time felt, if you name your spiritual path, you kill its essence. That’s what happened to every religion, and pantheism seems to be a religion.
I just get up each day and do my best with what is in front of me, and receive the angels’ nudges and spankings, and whatever pleasantries and miseries they arrange for me to have. Had a really lovely one earlier tonight, straight out of hell. Kind of reminded me of my talk with Elliot Baron at the Green Parrot celebration of the death of the bigger cruise ship referendum, but I do not in the least feel inclined to publish it, because of what might be sacrificed if I publish it, something really important could be killed in the bud.
The new issue of Key West the Newspaper is viewable online –www.thebluepaper.com. Former Key West Assistant City Manager John Jones, also an Alabama native, tells the history of how KOTS, Key West’s current homeless shelter, came into being,
and his thoughts on a new shelter. I’m glad John weighed in, as my experience is very few people in Key West know how KOTS came about, and why it ended up next to the Sheriff’s headquarters on Stock Island, instead of next to the airport on Government Road.
Further down in today’s Blue Paper are some of my own two cents worths on that topic, which were published yesterday at this website.