#SOL17: ETHNN Transportation Committee Talk about Austin conference

I spoke at the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN) Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 28th. The focus of my talk was the Transportation Works conference in Austin by Texas Society of Independent Living Councils (TX SILC) that I attended at the start of March. I was a one of 30 selected as Consumer Advocates in Transportation, or CAT. I had already written a 1 3/4 page article about the conference on my Word Press. I was glad to see Leroy Sparrow, the VP of Tyler Transit in attendance, as well as our Transportation Committee Chairman, Kristy Range, who had formally invited me to speak, and of course, Christina Fulsom–the Director of ETHNN.

I started my talk by mentioning my day’s earlier errands and the bus routes that I’d taken. My day had begun with a visit to my University of Texas at Tyler counseling intern at the Andrews Center–a Blue SW (south) drop point after a Green North run to the Downtown Bus Hub. Then I took Blue SW (north) ride back until I reached S. Broadway at the Downtown Square. After a bank visit, I caught the Red South to Bergfeld Center, where I picked up my Asthma-COPD drugs from CVS Pharmacy. Bergfeld Center is the second bus hub in Tyler. I caught the Yellow SE bus to ETHNN Headquarters on Hightech DR near Shiloh & Paluxy. Yes, I took four out of five lines–all but Purple–and rode the bus five times. Alertly, Christina made notes of the time my errands actually took in addition to the lengthy time involved. I pointed out that I ate during wait times.

My focus was on the need for sidewalk repair; a transit trip needs to be “enjoyable, not just possible,” to cite a speaker at the conference. Since the conference, it was revealed that the City of Tyler made a sidewalk survey in 2010–in stark contrast to some city employee’s belief that the nearest landlord was supposed to repair sidewalks. Leroy brought up that a new sidewalk study had begun, but it could take a year to complete. Furthermore, the City of Tyler hired an agency to help with photographing the sidewalks after I’d suggested a cheaper, grass roots “foot soldier” report by citizens. I saw a video on Facebook after the conference, in which a lady complained about no sidewalks on well-to-do Rice RD, where she walking her dog.

One of my sidewalk suggestions was to remove the “no asphalt” law, especially in cases in which one sidewalk block becomes slightly raised–and easy to trip over. Moreover, sidewalks sometimes shrink because of the land–such as on Beckham at the bridge where Ferguson ends. Sidewalk crumbling isn’t always due to giant tree root growth.

We need to install bicycle racks at the two main bus hubs and next to Neighborhood Services. Moreover, a previous Tyler Transit director stated that the city had won some bike racks in a grant, so they must be in storage somewhere. It would be so easy to plunk a bike rack in those few key places while sidewalk repair could take quite a while. The Bergfeld Center’s bus stop bench has ample concrete-paved space behind it.

Eventually, we’ll schedule bus strips for the two remaining bus lines. In April, we’ll plan a Red South bus trip to the Broadway Mall for lunch at Chipotle’s (probably) and wander around a bit. Later, we’ll shoot for a Green South bus trip to restaurants in the UT-Tyler area. Hopefully, we’ll expand the trips to include more committees of ETHNN, and maybe head a different direction on the lines. Riding the bus represents a cultural change. Some acquaintances expressed fear of riding the bus–wondering if a poor, often minority crowd would attack. I responded that plenty of us are too old and disabled to cause much trouble. After the meeting, I told Kristi about folks visiting each other on the bus.

#SOL17: Tyler Spoken Word Returns on International Women’s Day & a Ruist (Confucian) Response

by J.D. Meyer
Tyler Spoken Word returned after a two year absence. Now it’s at El Guapo Records on S. Broadway between W. Front and W. Erwin in the new Off Downtown commercial block–west side of the block only! East Texas Brewery is another store on the block. Tyler Spoken Word used to be at Cafe Bhojana Java until it closed. This event gives participants a chance at entertaining public speaking. You could do poetry, singing, rap, stand-up comedy, etc.

In my case, I discussed how Confucianism (Ruism) could benefit International Women’s Day, March 8th. I began by stating that it’s International Women’s Day, and that Iceland has achieved gender equality–something I’d read from the “On This Day” section of Facebook. But the real purpose of my talk was to discuss some Confucian concepts I’d discussed at Friends from Afar, a relatively new closed Facebook group. Now I can comment and discuss articles of relevance with others of our spiritually pan-Chinese orientation. We have an open Facebook group also–the Ruism Discussion Group.

By the way, we prefer to be called, “Ruists,” because it pertains to the sage-scholar nature of the government officials, who passed civil service exams based on the Classics. Confucius is not only the Anglicizing of his real name, Kung Tzu, but the philosophy he founded was never named after him in the Far East. I didn’t give this disclaimer at last night’s event because I wanted to focus on gender equality.

Let’s start by looking at two of the Five Virtues. Jen (benevolence) is revealed through its presence, or lack, in expressions of propriety (li). Propriety is the externalization of humanity. The etymology of jen is a person next to the number “two,” a four-stroke character. Thus, being mean to women or anyone represents a failure in this connection. on another note, my explanation of the Chinese character for benevolence was the only Chinese footnote that I gave in my talk–unlike this article. Later I even joked that I was glad not to be providing Chinese footnotes for the concepts.

Here’s a similar argument. Sincerity (ch’eng) requires the presence of inner reverence (ching)–another inward–outward connection. Furthermore, making sincere the will (ch’eng-yi) is virtually identical to extending authentic conscience (chih liang-chih). In other words, you can’t honestly tell us that discrimination against women is an honest practice.

In a discussion at Friends from Afar, Dr. Bin Song reminded me of Wang Yang-ming’s assertion that broken rocks sadden him because of the pervasive, all-encompassing nature of jen (benevolence)when one truly chooses to embody it. That brought me back to my impending crusade for local sidewalk repair. At the Texas State Independent Living Council (TX SILC) Transportation Conference, we learned about developing collaborations and partnerships in order to get things done. What better expresses the externalizing our humanity in propriety, as well as showing appropriate-assertiveness (i).

Let’s hope that my discussion of some relevant Ruist (Confucian) concepts helps in the quest to bring about gender equality. Obviously, progress has been made over the centuries, but improvement is needed. It’s well-known that women in the USA only make 80 cents for every dollar that men earn. In past decades, we heard that women’s place was in the home, and only a few professions were even open to women, such as elementary education teaching. A just society is a more productive and respected society.

#SOL2017: The Texas State Independent Living Council Transportation Conference (TX SILC) Austin, TX: 2-28 through 3-2.

I was one of 30 people chosen statewide as a Consumer Advocate in Transportation (CAT) for the Texas State Independent Living Council’s (TX SILC),”Transportation Works: Identifying and Removing Barriers Through Innovation” conference in Austin from February 28th through March 2nd. Four of us from Tyler attended: two Cigna Health Spring employees, the city’s taxi cab director, and myself. I took a Greyhound Bus from Tyler to Austin that made a detour in Dallas, so that was a relevant adventure in itself.

One of the Cigna representatives, Kandee Franklin, nominated me for the event. I taught for 20 years before getting on disability for asthma & COPD. Then I started volunteering for the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN), especially the Transportation Committee. We have five bus lines in Tyler, and I’ve organized three or four bus trips with lunch. (One was poorly attended…lol). I’ve written several articles about the Tyler Transit on this Word Press site–including why the two bus hub structure works in a rectangular city, a good introduction to local bus riding. I’ve also written about Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome, dealing with a severe COPD exacerbation at home, and low saturated fat and sodium foods at Family Dollar. Thus, I’m still a researcher and now an event planner.

The conference began with several speakers from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Then there were speakers from various City of Austin organizations. Austin is well-known for its rapid recent growth, as well as its very progressive image. We heard from local Centers for Independent Living. Tyler has the East Texas Center for Independent Living (ETCIL), but there were no speakers from our local organization. I’m one of their clients; they helped me transition to an efficiency subsidized by the Tyler Neighborhood Services back in 2012. Cab companies, parking violations, share a ride, Uber, and Lyft were discussed. I met Brian White, the Director of TX SILC.

My favorite speech topics usually reflected my renewed goal of sidewalk repair and bike rack installation. Thus, “Accessible Transportation Collaboration and Developing Non-traditional Partnerships” program were among my favorites. I met Brian East, the Senior Attorney for Disability Rights Texas, before he gave his talk, “The ADA and Transportation Advocacy.” He thinks that I may have good chance of getting my street’s sidewalks repaired since it’s the east-west street that runs to the northern boundary of the Hospital District! Our newest bus line (Purple) runs down East Houston Street too.

I asked some questions during the conference and wrote 20 pages of notes. When I asked how to increase bus rider volume, the answer included “to make the bus trip not just possible but desirable.” Later I asked our city taxi cab manager, Jamal Moharer, to discuss their natural gas powered cars and other vehicles using it in Smith County.

I attended a Pulmonary and Cardiac Education (PACE) luncheon on Friday, March 3rd at Trinity Mother Francis hospital in Tyler. The organization used to be called The Better Breathers. We heard a lecture from a local doctor and got information on Advanced Planning. It turns out that our moderator nurse once tripped over a sidewalk block and broke her hand, tore her clothes, and spilled a drink on herself!

To summarize, I had a great time at the Transportation conference and met a lot of people. We stayed at the beautiful Midtown Holiday Inn in Downtown Austin. The meals were outstanding. Next year’s conference will be in Waco. When I got home, I found the most relevant page about sidewalk repair at the TX SILC website and emailed it to a bunch of people.