Archive for May, 2012

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Fashion With a Conscience


Photo by Esther Havens

Growing up in Alaska, my family owned some of the first videos stores in the state. In the early 1980s, my family pioneered the way for the future and they were the predecessors to the now soon-to-be-defunct juggernauts, Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. My older brothers, who had a passion for the silver screen, saw the opportunity to help redefine what home entertainment looked like in the Last Frontier known as Alaska.

My brothers, who opened these first video stores, were highly influenced by our late grandfather Dallas. In the early 1950s, Dallas sold everything our family owned at that time, including a successful family diner that he and my grandmother ran in the Lower 48, to chase his dream of finding gold. Grandpa loaded up my grandmother, my aunt, and my mom and began the long trek up the ALCAN, headed for Alaska. Though our grandfather never became wealthy from mining gold, in the years to come his mining adventures became very profitable to us through the vivid stories he retold to his family. Grandpa infused in his grandchildren the passion to take risks without the fear of failure.

Surrounded by a family of shrewd entrepreneurs, the desire to create was stamped into my DNA long before I ever escaped the womb. Honestly, I attribute this family trait as the reason for my perpetual fascination with new start-ups and why I, personally, became a church planter.

There seems to be something magical about the entrepreneurial spirit. The entrepreneur is a special breed of humanity who needs to make their mark upon the world; they are driven to introduce that something that has yet to be experienced. The only way I know how to describe it is this: that being an entrepreneur is almost like having a sickness — a feverish, insatiable drive to make the world a better place. In many entrepreneurs, one of the common threads that I see is the ability to not compromise the creative dream they posses. There are always compromises to make that dream happen — but never are these compromises to the core dream itself.

Take for instance Fangfang Wu. According to Fast Company magazine, Wu, the founder and CEO of the hottest childrens clothing line in China right now: Greenbox. Wu originally said no to Disney when they approached her about designing a clothing line for their new Disney resort launch in Shanghai. Who says no to Disney? Wu did. In a paraphrased summation of Wus interview, she alluded to the fact that she did not want to lose the identity of Greenbox by only having Disneys name on the label of her clothing. After many months of negotiations, Wu and Disney came to an agreement without Greenbox losing its identity and the project was set into motion.

Wus unwavering compromise of her dream for her company makes me think of another fashion company based here Texas: Good Fair. Granted, Texas is known more for its good ol right-wing evangelical boys who dabble poorly in politics than it is for its trend-setting fashion. However, Shelton Green, the founder and CEO of Good Fair clothing thinks that should not be the case.

Shelton, like me, is an Alaskan-grown-Texas-transplant who not only has a dream to put Texas on the map for its fashion, but to change how the world of fashion makes and produces its products.

With an industry that is plagued with unfair paid wages and slave-driven labor, Good Fair seeks to change the ethos of the fashion world by putting out a quality product as a certified fair trade company — clothing that is slave free.

Before you start envisioning burlap sacks littered with pearl snaps and fugly free shoes sent overseas to kids, let me recalibrate your thinking of what Good Fair clothing is. Good Fair is a high quality fashion line; it is not an ethical knock-off to make you feel better about what you are buying … this is not contemporary Christian music we are talking about. Shelton, risking everything for his unwavering dream, has created a line of fashion that both looks great and is conscious of the people who have created it.

Shelton, since your background is not fashion, how did you get into the fashion business?

It has been quite a journey into the fashion business. The short answer is passion. Passion got me into the fashion business. But not in the way most people are passionate about fashion, design, and the latest look. I discovered slavery exists today and one of the ways it manifests itself is in fashion. In the worst cases, child and slave labor were used to make the clothes I wear everyday. It was passion to do something about the supply chains that churn out fast fashion, change it and support ethical treatment of cotton famers and garment workers.

Your clothing line is called Good Fair — how did you come up with the name of Good Fair? And what does it mean?

I didnt want a name people had to figure out. I wanted to tell our story right from the start. Its our mission. To do good and be fair. Good to the earth and fair to people. It came from the simple idea no one should be hurt for the sake of our fashion and we should take care of the earth when farming the cotton used in our clothes.

Almost like a page from a personal journal, Good Fairs website retells of your fast from buying clothes for a year. Fasting, the stopping of something (like not eating chocolate for Lent), is more of a religious or diet concept — what lead to your decision to the fast from buying clothes for a year?

It was very much like that. I was thinking about new years resolutions as 2007 came to a close and 2008 was about to begin. I had all this stuff in my head about supply chains that treated people horribly, stories of people who had survived modern slavery, stats about a third of the world living on less than 2 dollars day (at that time), millions of slaves all over the world, and I simply wanted to take a break from buying things I didnt need, specifically clothes, and rethink the choices I make as a consumer and what those choices mean for the people who make my stuff.

How difficult was the fast from buying clothes for a year? And how did it influence the creation of Good Fair?

It was a massive factor in starting Good Fair. During 2008 I would go to my favorite shops and clothing stores. Not able to buy anything, I began to look at labels and noticing where things were made. More education ensued. I looked up brands, production in different countries, and deepening my understanding of child and slave labor abuses.

Can you flesh out for us your initial dream for Good Fair? Outsourcing to a fair trade manufacturer for the production of Good Fair products was not part of your original plan. Does your initial dream for Good Fair still stay with you — in other words, do you still have that dream?

The big idea I started with was to create my own production facility in Austin, Texas. Lease a warehouse, connect with skilled garment makers, source organic cotton from Texas farms, ship fabric to Austin from around Texas and the US, and start my own clothing company based on a set of principles where people came before profit. One of the things I was most looking forward to doing was training people to sew and give them a job making Good Fair designs. Connecting with vulnerable local populations and if they wanted to learn how to sew clothes, we would train them. I was mainly thinking about refugees, homeless, and those coming out of various addictions or abusive situations. With everything I have come to understand, I want to make a real difference in the lives of people who are on the margins.

Yes, I still have that dream. I ran into lots of setbacks and into lots walls. I kept adjusting the plan in order to get Good Fair off the ground. The most straightforward way turned out to be equally beautiful as my original vision. I connected with a fair trade certified farmer cooperative and fair trade garment production in India to make Good Fair designs. Now we are part of a growing community of ethical fashion using third party certified fair trade production. I actually live blogged my first trip to India where you can see the farms, farmers, workers, and the factory we use.

What is one of the ways you have seen the effects of working with a manufacturer who pays its employees a fair wage?

We have to continue to tell the stories of the lives we are affecting. The children of the cotton famers we partner with get to go to school because Good Fair and other companies are committed to buying their cotton at a fair trade price. They used the fair trade premium to build a school.

At the present Good Fair specializes in t-shirts and undergarments for both men and women. What was the thought process behind releasing these particular products, instead of, say, a line of denim jeans?

Ha. If I could go back and tell myself to start with different items of clothing I would. I didnt start with jeans because my fair trade supply chain didnt make denim fabric. There are limitations when a company is committed to only sourcing from suppliers who share your ethical ethos. However, it would have been smarter to start with higher margin items that can complete with the market. It is very hard to compete against the boxer market when we sell one pair for $28. The margins are simply tough when you start with fair trade and organic cotton and production. We are rethinking our product line and where we need to put our energy while designing new fair trade fashion.

Shelton, in your opinion, outside being a fair trade clothing company, what sets apart Good Fair from the rest of the clothing industry?

Good Fair exists to change the world of fashion. I want my closet to only be filled with clothing that has not hurt anyone. And I want to offer that same dream to everyone else. Good Fair is a dream, a vision, and a mission to treat people with dignity, respect, and ultimately, love. We offer a better story, a story that can change everything if we let it. A story that will recalibrate how we think about the things we buy and how our everyday decisions can make a difference in the lives of people all over the world.

Who is Good Fair clothing marketed to currently? And do you have any plans to expand that market?

Our goal has been to market to people want to join us in telling a better story. The design and style of our tee shirts and ladies hipster undies are geared towards men and women 18-35. The boxers are pretty ageless, just a classic American style boxer. As we begin to think about new items to bring into production we are rethinking our target market. Plus we would love to appeal to consumers purely on the style and design of the clothing with the ethical and do gooder side being a secondary attraction.

What do you believe is the main source of depravity in the fashion industry? And how can we as consumers help change that depravity?

Clothes are artificially cheap. We consumers have become used to the clothing market and we want it cheaper all the time. That sets off a chain of events and clothing companies have to react or they simply lose business. Clothes should cost more because the vast majority of garment workers and cotton farmers should be paid more. You and I are the problem and the solution. Most companies simply want to fulfill customer demand. If there is sufficient consumer demand for ethical fashion the industry will change.

Help support change: visit, purchase, spread the word about Good Fair products at

Event review: Dogwood Festival delights


Editors Note: Last year, INtown partnered with the freelance writing class at SCAD-Atlanta to create our July issue. This year, students are contributing articles, video and photos for our website and social media portals. Malee Moua live-tweeted from the Dogwood Festival and brings us this review of the weekend.

By Malee S. Moua
SCAD INtown Takeover 2.0

The possibility of rain didn’t stop thousands of mothers, sisters and cousins from packing the trails of Piedmont Park for the annual Dogwood Festival. The breeze wafted the savory smoke from Shane’s Rib Shack into the crowd. I was delightfully overwhelmed by my gastronomic options. Around every corner was the prospect of enjoying a sugary funnel cake. The Deadfields, a local country band, sung to the audience, “dot your t’s and cross your i’s.” There was a lively melody of rich conversation, good music and lots of laughter.

Inside the Friends of Dogwood Pavilion, chefs from some Atlanta’s favorite restaurants showcases their signature dishes. Barrelhouse served up a savory watermelon dish, and it was a new concept for me. The honey basil vinaigrette drizzled over the top balanced out the sweetness of the watermelon. Then – the bacon. It crunched in my mouth, and I got another combination of sweet and salty.

I wasn’t sure how I would get around to all of the vendors, but I tried. As I enjoyed one small plate of food, I was at another table grabbing a new delectable dish. The ladies at Five Napkin Burger finished off their sliders with caramelized onions and a dollop of rosemary aioli sauce. I thanked them and sunk my teeth into the juicy burger. The aioli sauce had the perfect texture: creamy and smooth. It was bursting with flavor, and I wondered if they could add a little more just to satiate my new addiction.

I tagged on to the long line for Morelli’s ice cream. From the choices of ginger lavender, chocolate Guinness and salted caramel, I asked for the salted caramel. The salt was rich and pleasantly strong in the dish, helping to bring out the sweetness of the caramel. I was sad to see the bottom of the cup.

Outside of the pavilion I caught the tail end of Stevie Monce’s performance on the acoustic stage. He did a heartfelt rendition of Damien Rice’s “9 Crimes.” It was true to Rice’s version, but Monce’s voice was sweeter and more subtle.

Along one of the artist market paths, the work of Joyce Stratton caught my eye. The rectangular panels looked lacquered in some spots, and then I noticed strips of paper with Chinese characters. Stratton spoke passionately about her art. It takes about three months for her to create a small piece. She uses paper, ink, charcoal and other mixed media and begins a process of addition and subtraction directly on wood panels.

Waiting in line to get a funnel cake, I started talking with Charisse. She’s lived in the metro area for more than 20 years and has never been to the Dogwood Festival. She said, “I like wandering through the booths and seeing all of the unique artwork. They each have their own story.”

I could attest to that when I met John Booth. I had to talk to him when his large painting of Scrabble pieces immediately entranced me. I had to ask, “Who are your influences?” He replied with, “Man Ray, Kadinsky and Warhol.” I could definitely see the Warhol aspects of his work. There was a compelling painting of man in a suit, but where there should have been a head, it was an iPhone. I was in awe of the hyper-realism in his paintings.

As the day wound down, I was in the mood for something refreshing. King of Pops was down to their last few popsicles. I was relieved when there were still some strawberry lemonade pops left. I found a spot in the middle of the field between the carnival rides. The skyline I know and love was outlined behind me against a soft gray sky. Children ran and played in the grass as I took another bite of my popsicle, savoring the cool morsel of strawberry as it melted in my mouth.

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Pet rehab helps transform four-legged survivors


LOS ANGELES — Snarf was underweight with a heart murmur and a possible ulcer when he was rescued from a Kentucky puppy mill. He had hookworm, fleas and ticks, infections in his eyes and ears, red skin and patchy hair.

The 10-year-old Japanese chin wasnt house trained and didnt know how to play with people. He hardly seemed like anyones idea of a pet.

But thanks to several months of rehab, he is.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals set up a rehab center for Snarf and the other 117 dogs rescued in October from a Kentucky puppy mill.

The ASPCA is the only national animal welfare organization with a behavior team dedicated solely to rehabilitating cruelty and disaster victims. Last year, the anti-cruelty behavior team coordinated rehab for more than 1,200 cats and dogs.

Many pets who end up in rehab are victims of abusive owners who have been arrested for dogfighting, hoarding or puppy mill violations. Other animals survive natural disasters.

Snarf had been crated, isolated and used for breeding all his life before he spent six months in rehab.

His medical conditions were treated and he was taught how to socialize and play with humans and animals, how to walk on a leash and to urinate outside of his crate.

Hoarded or mill dogs have been trapped in small spaces and denied human contact so they lack social skills and are often afraid of sights, sounds and experiences, said Pamela

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When In Rome For the Carnival


With origins dating back to the Middle Ages, the present-day Roman Carnival, promoted by Roma Capitale, is an 11-day calendar of highly varied cultural events for all age groups, in which horses still play such an important role that it is the equestrian event with the largest audience in Europe (600,000 attended in 2011).

The program was inaugurated by a huge opening parade (with more than 100 horses, coaches, performers in period costumes supplied by the Eternal City’s Teatro dell’Opera, and reenactment groups) and, although other world-famous locations—Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Navona, and Castel San’Angelo—hosted key events, Piazza del Popolo (once the starting point for the Berber races) was the main center of attraction. This year, the square hosted an arena featuring a series of spectacular equestrian events, with high-impact HD video projections on the façade of the gate leading into the square and on its famous Neptune Fountain. Called in by Zètema-Progetto Cultura, the company that organizes all the events for Roma Capitale, Unità C1was responsible for the projections and the show arena’s highly suggestive lighting. In addition to the fanfare of the 8th Regiment of Lancers of Montebello, the 4th Regiment of horseback Carabinieri, and horseback groups from Italy’s National Police and Forest Rangers, there was also an exciting show by the Maremma butteri, Italy’s horseback cowboys.

Unità C1 project manager Lorenzo Lopane says, “For the projections and lighting, we interacted with our client, Zètema, the equestrian program’s artistic director Marco Lepre, and the directors of the shows alternating in the arena during the Carnival, Gianluca Coppetta and Umberto Scotti.” The video content projected on the gate consisted of HD recorded images with green-screen footage of Res Extensa dance company’s Elisa Barrucchieri and Anna Moscatelli wearing period costumes. 2D and 3D graphics were added to form an eight-minute show repeated during the evening projections. Live coverage of the arena events was also screened on the gate. Two Christie DigitalRoadie HD+30K DLP® digital projectors were stacked on a scaffolding tower at a height of 6m (20) for the bottom part of the gate, while a single Christie Roadster HD18K projected on the upper part, installed 8m (26) high on the same tower. The tower was set up 75m (246) from the center of the gate and also hosted the control room. Content was controlled via two coolux Pandoras Box Media Server Pro 5.0 systems. The concept, storyboard realization, recording, mapping, warping, and executive production were by Unità C1 staffers: Gianni Stabile (graphic production manager and media server programmer), Roberto Santoro (video director and graphic producer), Eugenio Laddago (cameraman), Ezio Antonelli (storyboard and artistic direction), Andrea Mordenti (production manager), and Lopane.

Loud Professionalgear, supplied by Gianchi Srl, handled the sound reinforcement system for the projections’ soundtrack. This included eight VH Layer 112H line array systems stacked on a platform at a height of 3m (10) and four floor-installed VH Sub218R subwoofers, powered by Lab.Gruppenfp series amps and digitally processed via XTA Electronics DPA 448 units. For the fountain projections, a pair of Christie Roadster S+16K SXGA DLP digital projectors, side-by-side for edge blending, covered the base of the fountain, and a SanyoPLC-XF47 XGA unit handled the group of statues on its summit. All three projected from an angled position on the lighting towers at the corners of the performance arena, at a distance of approximately 63m (207), and the setup was controlled by three Dataton Watchout 4.0 Display PC systems. Video hardware was supplied by Elettronica ‘83 Se.Di.Co. Srland Gianchi Srl.

For the lighting of the performance arena, an area of the square 50m long and 30m wide (164x 98) covered with a layer of compacted earth, Lopane explains, “The design submitted to us by Zètema, based on their experience in previous years, featured a scaffolding tower at each of the four corners of the arena, 40m (131) of tiered seating on the long sides, and two curtains also on the long sides through which performers and their horses entered from the zones hosting backstage dressing rooms and stables. The short ends of the arena were marked off by the Egyptian obelisk, brought to Rome in 30 BC, at one end and the fountain at the other. We integrated the design with scenographic projections on the fountain’s wall and statues, creating a more compact visual front, and added four bars of ACLs and ten Clay Paky Alpha Wash 1200 units on the trussing supporting the curtains. Using the lighting and architectural video projections on the fountain, we created a large trapezium front with the road up to the Pincio gardens as a backdrop, framing the equestrian shows to great effect.” The snow that arrived was unusual for Rome, and the shows had to remain outdoors for two weeks in February, so additional bracing, roofing, and “packaging” were necessary for the scaffolding towers, supplied, as was all the rigging, by Hathos.

The arena lighting rig had to ensure a high color impact, with no compromises or dark zones. Lopane continues, “I chose a highly effective Italian architectural product with a 2,500W HMI lamp, Griven’sKolorado MK3, and installed eight on the four towers and four on the ground. They did a great job, also providing ‘arena-style’ white light. Over this base, we used 20 Martin MAC 2000 wash units for the white and colored cues, and 20 MAC 2000 Performance plus 10 MAC 2000 Profiles for gobos, effects, etc.” Conventionals included four bars of ACL and 16 DeSisti Leonardo 2kW Fresnels. Atmosphere was added by two Proelhazers and a pair of SGMsmoke machines. There were also four 2,500W HMI followspots, and control was via two Avolitesconsoles: a Pearl 2008 and a 2004. The arena’s sound system, provided by New Sound Service(also the lighting contractor), comprised 24 Electro-Voice XLC DVX systems, a YamahaLS9 console, and a NetMax control system. After the event, Lopane enthuses, “Apart from the extremely positive feedback from spectators and media for our projections, as far as the lighting was concerned, the challenge was to limit the use of floor-installed fixtures, which are very widespread and often requested for this type of show, to color the arena. We managed to accomplish this with the combined use of the Griven fixtures and the wash units, ensuring very effective visual results without disturbing the horses.”

Mike Clark, ex-sound engineer, road manager, radio personality, and club DJ, is a UK-born journalist residing in Italy and specializing in entertainment-related technology. He has contributed to LD under its four names for 15 years, and he also works as a technical translator for audio and lighting manufacturers.

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NCAA and ESPN refine communication of plays under video review


TAMPA, Fla. In a meeting on Thursday before the broadcast of the national semifinal games, NCAA officials and ESPN production staffers met to improve communication about replays and agreed on a method to let the broadcast crew know what was being reviewed.

Weve actually taken some steps here at the Frozen Four to make sure that the ESPN timeout coordinator, whos at ice level, gets kind of a quick, Hey, theyre looking at whether the net was dislodged, or what have you, Ty Halpin, NCAA associate director for playing rules administration, said during Thursdays USCHO Live! broadcast.

Halpin was joined on the program by members of the ice hockey rules committee: Steve Piotrowski, the secretary and rules editor for the NCAA mens and womens ice hockey rules committee; Frank Cole, NCAA national coordinator of mens ice hockey officiating; and Ed McLaughlin, Niagara athletic director and chairman of the rules committee.

Joe Taylor, producer for ESPNs Frozen Four broadcasts, explained what was decided.

The way it will work is that I can talk directly to the replay official, but what will probably happen is that I will talk with the timeout coordinator, who will know what the officials are looking for, said Taylor. If theres any doubt at what the officials are looking for, I can let the announcers know.

That way were all on the same page and the talent can let the audience know exactly what the officials are looking for, Taylor added.

ESPN has been good at telling their announcers not to guess, because that changes things for fans listening at home saying, Why would they be looking at that? They need the right information, said Halpin.

NCAA replay officials are continuously rewinding and reviewing plays during the game. The NCAA has set up almost a TV truck of our own, Halpin said. So were completely separate from ESPN. We have nearly the same amount of equipment as they have on our own.

During the NCAA regionals, announcers at times speculated on what referees were looking at on video replay. Piotrowski said that broadcasters need to understand what is and is not reviewable.

The criteria thats established to allow video replay is in our rule book. Its just a matter of opening up the book and doing your homework, said Piotrowski, who did note that ESPN producers are committed to educating their announcers. If youre going to make a comment, whether its in print or on television, make sure you have rule knowledge, particularly on what youre broadcasting.

Section 60 of the NCAA ice hockey rule book lists 11 replay review situations:

a. A puck crossing the goal line;
b. A puck in the net before the goal frame is dislodged;
c. A puck in the net before or after expiration of time at the end of a period, a whistle, or referees determination that play has stopped;
d. A puck directed into the net by a hand or a distinct kicking motion;
e. A puck deflected into the net by an official;
f. A puck hit into the net by a high stick;
g. To correctly identify individuals who participated in a fight or committed an infraction;
h. To establish the correct time on the clock, or to determine the correct location of a faceoff;
i. To determine if an attacking player was illegally in the goal crease and physically or visually prevented the goalkeeper from defending the goal when the puck entered the goal cage;
j. To determine if a goal was scored as the direct result of a hand pass or high stick by an attacking player to a teammate, initiated or completed within the goalkeepers privileged area; or
k. To determine if a goal was scored, as a direct result of the puck deflecting off of the protective netting above the glass, by the first team to gain possession of the deflected puck.

ESPNs Barry Melrose may find himself commenting on replay in Saturdays championship game. Melrose would like to see the replay process sped up. Its tough when youve had a tying goal and its an unbelievable play and youve got to wait 10 minutes to find out if its a goal or not, he said.

But the NCAA is not likely to support a rule change that would impose a time limit. Cole said, Our objective is to take as much time as necessary to make the call correct.

Replay and other rule changes will be looked at during this offseason.

A free copy of the NCAA ice hockey rulebook may be downloaded at

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How I Got My Groove Back


Im a late bloomer. Ive always been a late bloomer. Its ironic but I figured out I was a late bloomer way back when I was 12 years old.

The realization that I was plagued with arrested development came to me during a 1986 grade-school girls basketball game. During a sweaty crush of gawky, leggy tweens vying for a rebound, I found myself far shorter and far less, um, developed than a majority of my teammates. I looked down and knew in an instant, I would always be just a bit behind the curve.

Im a military spouse and as we all well know, war has been a constant over the past decade. And since I met my Marine soon after college, I barely secured a toehold into my career when the deployments, the moves, and more deployments consumed our life. Its not an excuse but rather the reality — and although plenty of military spouses work during deployments and plenty of military spouses maintain their thriving careers, plenty of us live in far-flung towns with few career choices and higher op-tempo. My resume was pockmarked with bullet holes: a job here, an internship there, and a clear spot last in line for any real opportunity. And mind you, I did take time off to have my children so I wasnt exactly pounding the pavement for work. Regardless, it was decidedly difficult to find work in my chosen field and I found myself, again, in the wake of my peers successful careers.

After several tours in an operational AV-8B Harrier squadron, my husband and I received orders to The Pentagon where my Marine would fly a desk, as they say. And while we were spared from deployments for the duration of the two-year tour, he worked, much to my chagrin, endlessly. Once we were settled into our home, I steeled myself and began to job hunt. My parameters were simple: I wanted to work with military families and almost immediately I discovered an organization called Blue Star Families. Blue Star Families was a young nonprofit dedicated to supporting military families and was run largely by military spouses. I fired off my resume offering to help with web content, newsletters, and press releases, and within a few minutes, I received an enthusiastic response.

There are countless intangible benefits from volunteering, including the feel-good factor. And particularly during this hum-drum economy, having such glaring gaps in a resume is foolish, especially when volunteer opportunities are abundant. And Im not alone in the belief that true volunteer work in your chosen profession is worth mentioning. LinkedIn has a field for members to share volunteer positions and loads of employment organizations laud volunteer work — paid or not — as valuable experience. Blue Star Families seemed like a perfect match for my skills.

Just weeks into my volunteer gig, Blue Star Families demonstrated, with further responsibilities and assignments, satisfaction in my work and while I have held jobs before this, it had been years since I felt so successful. With each compliment or accolade, my confidence blossomed. I found my groove.

From then on, my relationship with Blue Star Families continued to develop. I was a military spouse intimately aware of my communitys plight and could offer insight, extend suggestions, and truly engage with the companys leadership. I began to write more and actively pursue freelance writing with a focus on the issues affecting military families. After a while I asked my new colleagues for editing assistance and screwed up the courage to send out query letters. At first the responses were mostly rejections, but at least they were being read — and now I can happily say, those letters are fired off with more frequency and much better results.

And then after a year of volunteering with this rapidly growing and obviously influential group, Blue Star Families offered me a job.

The Blue Star Families team is spread across the nation and we come from all walks of life. We are lawyers, veterans, mothers, writers, and executives and I am lucky enough to now call this group of people my friends.

Our lives are invariably shaped by our experiences. And one day Ill write more about my past — much to the chagrin of my parents, Im sure.

But for today, Ill write about what it means to be a military spouse and what its like for many: the unemployed and the over-educated. The women, like myself, who are dealing with multiple deployments, children, and life aboard bases strung across the United States. Today, Im happy to share their voices and remind folks about the one percent who are serving.

Molly Blake is a freelance writer and Marine Corps spouse. Her husband, Lt. Col. Peter Blake, is currently deployed on his fifth overseas tour as the Commanding Offcer of VMA-311. Molly is the web editor for Blue Star Families, a nonprofit organization representing military families. She is also a freelance writer interested in issues that affect military families. Her work can be found at

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Places to know in Tucson: The Grey House


It’s not just stuff.”

Karen Spencer says what she believes any of her co-workers would say about the old tiaras, upholstered chairs, French teacups and the hundreds of other antique items that make up The Grey House.

An American flag flies in front of a small, gray-blue building shrouded by foliage in midtown Tucson. The western wall is mostly covered by a large sign advertising “The Grey House: Antiques and Home DÃcor.”

Co-owned by five women who all have a passion for antiquing, each of The Grey House’s separate rooms is owned by a different woman who is responsible for the items and presentation in their respective spaces.

“It is one business, but we each respect each other’s area within the building,” Spencer said.

Spencer co-owns two rooms in the Grey House with her friend, Sarah Scheerens. One of the reasons the Grey House is unique, Spencer said, is that the committee of owners makes all the decisions.

“There’s more of a sense of ownership amongst all of us to make it successful,” Spencer said. “You sit behind that desk and you’re not just selling your stuff, you’re selling the store.”

The business originally began in 1996 on Fort Lowell Avenue, but moved in October 2008 because the building owner did not want to lease it again.

Stacy Van Dyke owns four rooms inside the Grey House and sells her antiques under the business name “Niche.” She said she really got into the antique business because she collected too many paintings and didn’t have enough walls.

“Everybody has a different look. You can kind of tell from each room what they are attracted to,” Van Dyke said. “I’m fairly eclectic. I like bold pieces and European antiques.”

Indeed, Van Dyke’s rooms are assembled with marble busts of famous leaders, oil paintings, leather chairs and crystal chandeliers. In one room is a 4-foot Mexican statue of St. Francis, dressed in a blue robe and adorned with glass eyes.

“He came from a church, where he was probably on a side altar. Probably in a niche,” Van Dyke said, laughing.

Van Dyke also owns the National Violence Prevention Resource Center in Tucson and picks up a lot of antiques for the Grey House when she travels for work. Four of the women, including Van Dyke, have other full-time or part-time jobs.

“We do it for … Gosh, why do we do it? Because we’re obsessed?” Spencer said.

“For fun?” Scheerens offered.

“We all start this because you start buying things and then you have too many things, and you have to do something with them.”

Scheerens and Spencer met when their sons were both 5 years old. The two women discovered they shared a passion for antiques and started selling antiques at an antique mall in Tucson around 1998, then began renting space in the original Grey House in 2004.

The two display their antiques in the Grey House’s kitchen and back bedroom. Light floods through the kitchen window mid-afternoon, illuminating a flowered stoneware fondue pot, tinted blue teacups and other 1970s-esque items displayed on the tables and shelves.

The floor of the room is painted a black and white checkered pattern on the concrete to make it look like tile, a feature that was original to the house before the business moved in, Spencer said.
The partners try to keep to a mid-century theme with the items in the kitchen, from an old metal ironing board, to a full set of plastic orange plates.

The room is embellished with turquoise and orange, although Spencer said she and Scheerens try to change up the color scheme often.

“Orange is a real hot seller right now,” Spencer said. She and Scheerens tend to buy a lot of turquoise for the room. “Sometimes we look at ourselves and go, ‘OK, we need to branch out’ because if your kitchen isn’t turquoise, you’re not going to be shopping in here.”

The second room the two women own houses miscellaneous items as well as antique wedding dÃcor. A large, glass cabinet harbors dozens of vintage cake toppers and wedding china.

One of the rooms next to Van Dyke’s is run by Linda Manley. Manley used to own an antique store called “Antiques and Fine Things,” on Sixth Street and now rents space in the Grey House.

Manley’s room boasts many foreign antiques, such as French limoge china, Italian purses and a big, red book with “Paris” embossed on the cover. She also has several foreign books and re-upholstered lounge chairs in her room.

“I love textiles,” Manley said. “I like to buy used furniture and have them slip covered.”

One of the largest items in Manley’s room is a framed poster of the Ralph Lauren launch model for “Safari” fragrance released in 1990. Manley said she found the poster interesting because of Lauren’s alleged affair with the model.

Lynn Bell and Gina Judy own the remaining rooms in the Grey House. Bell’s rooms in the back of house are garnished with a wide variety of items, such as chandeliers, oil paintings, varnished end tables and pewter tea sets. Judy carries a girlish theme to her room, filled with vintage tiaras, Vogue posters and racks full of old fur coats, evening gowns and classical accessories a 5-year-old girl would go crazy to play dress-up with.

The Grey House has many regular customers, as well as some new people just stopping in to look around.

“There are antique shoppers who want to hunt for things and who want to dig around in remote corners,” Spencer said. “And then there are other people who walk in and want it presented to them.”

Due to the repeat customer base, the owners often make an effort to change things around in the rooms.

“People have a tendency to shop at eye level,” Spencer said. “Even if it’s the same stuff; if you move it around, people see it differently.”

Each of the owners works at the store one day a week and they rotate who works on the weekends.

“Whoever is working here is excited about what’s in our store,” Spencer said. “It’s not just stuff. We all like it.”

For more info

The Grey House is located at 2301 N. Country Club Road and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm Call 325-0400 for more information.

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AIS Expands Its Open HMI Operator Panels for All HMI SCADA Software Applications


IRVINE, Calif., Apr 02, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) –

–AIS will support and ensure that their skilled HMI SCADA Software Ecosystem partners are delivering highly productive solutions to end-users, by utilizing their wide range of industrial panel pc solutions.

–AIS’ highly qualified engineers can ensure that your HMI product is packaged to withstand rugged, harsh industrial environments, while considering all user interfaces.

American Industrial Systems Inc. – AIS, is an ISO 9001:2008 certified
supplier and manufacturer of high-speed and reliable Intel
Atom Industrial Panel PCs with integrated, multilingual Windows
Embedded 7 or Windows XP Professional operating system. They start
quickly and reliably without any download from external drives for all
HMI SCADA software applications in manufacturing environments.

AIS industrial
panel PCs powered by Microsoft Windows embedded standard operating
systems, promote economic deployment of Human-Machine Interface
solutions in manufacturing environments. HMI terminals feature visual
computing interfaces with the performance and reliability for industrial
automation and control systems. The dynamic visualization of AIS HMI
panel PCs also provide stable real-time operating system support,
increased processing performance, and a wide range of network and
communication interfaces, along with a rugged compact size and
energy-efficient design.

AIS offers Intel
embedded processor-based panel PC systems as an open platform to
develop HMI and visualization solutions. AIS industrial embedded panel
PCs are designed to increase performance, provide real-time connectivity
and interactive touch screen functionality for industrial automation and
process control industries. The AIS rugged touch screen panel PCs
feature an easy-to-use user interface, color TFT display, and HMI
interactivity which improves operator productivity by enabling effective
visualization of plant operations and efficient controls.

AIS relies on industrial
HMI SCADA ecosystem partners to provide the expertise and experience
for successful implementation of industrial automation, process control,
machine, instrumentation and manufacturing solutions for their
customers. With the HMI and SCADA software builder, you might face the
challenges of combining complex operator interface hardware technologies
in a rapidly changing business environment. To bridge the gap between
complex integration demands, AIS has constantly developed new ways to
serve its software partners.

About American Industrial Systems, Inc.

AIS is a leading global designer and manufacturer of specialty digital
signage, industrial
panel pc, industrial
display and rugged
tablet pc solutions for customers in the commercial, industrial,
defense and aerospace applications. AIS specializes in designing and
manufacturing cost-effective LCD and embedded computing products for the
industrial market, as well as ODM/OEM applications worldwide. Whether
your vision involves off-the-shelf displays, or highly customized
embedded computing solutions; AIS can supply the experience, technology,
and resources you need to build it right and get you to market first.
For additional information on AIS products and services, please call AIS
toll-free at (888) 485-6688 or visit: .

SOURCE: American Industrial Systems, Inc.

American Industrial Systems, Inc.
Alan Wong, 949-681-7461

Copyright Business Wire 2012

Financial Glossary

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Does giving antibiotics to animals hurt humans?


WASHINGTON The bacon you had for breakfast is at the center of a 35-year debate over antibiotics.

Thats because the same life-saving drugs that are prescribed to treat everything from ear infections to tuberculosis in humans also are used to fatten the animals that supply the chicken, beef and pork we eat every day.

Farmers say they have to feed the drugs to animals to keep them healthy and meet Americas growing appetite for cheap meat. But public health advocates argue that the practice breeds antibiotic-resistant germs in animals that can cause deadly diseases in humans.

The US government moved to ban the use of some of the drugs in animals in the 1970s, but the rule was never enforced. Then last week, the Food and Drug Administration outlined plans to phase out the use of antibiotics in farm animals for nonmedical purposes over three years.

The US, the biggest global consumer of meat by far, follows Europe and other developed nations in restricting the use of penicillin and other antibiotics in animals. The issue has moved to the front burner as documentaries such as Meet Your Meat and Food Inc. have led Americans to focus more on what goes into their food. Sales of antibiotic-free meat, for instance, are up 25 percent to $175 million in the past three years.

Consumers are beginning to understand the cost of eating cheap meat, said Stephen McDonnell, CEO of Applegate Farms, which markets antibiotic-free meats and cheeses. As people really understand what it takes to create a healthy animal they will probably eat less meat, but they are going to eat better meat.


Antibiotics have been hailed as one of the greatest medical discoveries of the 20th century since their first use in humans in the 1940s. Theyve enabled doctors to cure deadly bacterial diseases like tuberculosis, typhoid fever and meningitis.

The FDA approved the use of antibiotics in livestock in the 1950s after studies showed that animals that got the drugs in their feed put on more weight in less time than animals on a traditional diet. For example, pigs that got an antibiotic were shown to need 10 to 15 percent less feed to reach the same weight as pigs on regular diets.

Since feed can account for as much as 70 percent of total animal production costs, the discovery was a windfall for farmers. It meant they could produce more meat for less money, resulting in fatter profits.

But by the 1970s, researchers began warning regulators that routine use of antibiotics was contributing to a surge in drug-resistant germs, or superbugs, that render antibiotics powerless against deadly infections. Professor Stuart Levy of Tufts University conducted the first study in 1976 showing highly-resistant e. coli E. coli bacteria could pass from chickens to farm workers who worked with the animals in just a few weeks.

The study contributed to the FDAs decision to ban nonmedical use of penicillin and tetracycline in farm animals a year later. But farmers and drugmakers pushed back, and the FDA rule was never enforced.

Why did no one act on it? Because there was a strong lobby, said Levy, who is co-founder and president of the Alliance for Prudent Use of Antibiotics, a nonprofit advocacy group that favors restrictions on the drugs. They said, Well, show us the deaths. Show us the real problem. Otherwise, this isnt so terrible.

But its difficult to link the overuse of antibiotics to deaths. Its tough to find the source of bacteria-resistant germs, which can spread from animals to humans through a number of ways, including undercooked meat and drinking water contaminated by animal waste. And bacteria mutate when passing between species, meaning that the same strain of drug-resistant bacteria in chicken can take on a different form once it enters the human body.


While the issue mostly was tabled in the US, it was gaining momentum elsewhere in the world.

In 1999, the European Union backed a ban on penicillin and other human antibiotics for growth in farm animals. Within four years, the use of antibiotics on animals fell 36 percent in Denmark, 45 percent in Norway and 69 percent in Sweden.

Levy, the Tufts University professor, and his colleagues had hoped that the EUs ban would bolster the case for restricting the use of antibiotics in the US But instead, the data has been used to argue both sides of the issue.

US farmers have seized on reports that cases of diarrhea among young pigs increased in the first year after the EU ban, suggesting that animal health had declined. But public health advocates say that the outbreaks among pigs decreased once farmers improved the sanitary conditions by cleaning feedlots more frequently and giving animals more space.

US groups like the National Chicken Council warn that restricting use of antibiotics will result in sicker animals, increasing costs for farmers and the price of meat and poultry for consumers. Some industry groups have projected costs for farmers would rise by $1 billion over 10 years, though those estimates have not been backed by outside groups.

Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian of the National Pork Producers Council, said the modern farming system is designed to keep animals healthy and produce large quantities of meat.

The bottom line is that if these products go away, it may result in sicker pigs, more expensive food, and we dont think it will improve public health, Wagstrom said.

Meat prices in Europe have not risen dramatically since the EUs ban. Danish authorities estimate the total costs for pig farmers increased by just 1 percent, or about $1.35 for every pig slaughtered far below food industry estimates.

US health experts suggest the increase here would be modest, too. The Institute of Medicine, a non-partisan nonpartisan group of medical experts who advise the federal government on public health issues, estimates the average US consumer would spend between $5 and $10 more per year on meat if antibiotics were restricted.


Farmers continue to argue that antibiotics are necessary to have a steady supply of low-cost, disease-free meat for Americans, who eat about three-quarters of a pound per day roughly twice the global average. They acknowledge that antibiotic-free animals can be raised by small, organic farms but say large-scale meat production requires antibiotics to keep animals healthy.

Were pretty darn committed to our cattle, and our goal is to not have them get sick, said Mike Apley, a cattle farmer and professor of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University.

Farmers like Apley also point to a handful of studies that conclude the risk to humans is extremely low. One 2004 estimate conducted by scientists consulting for the meat industry, for instance, placed the likelihood that antibiotic would not work in a human due to animal use at 1 in 82 million.

And, they argue, its the overuse of antibiotics in humans not animals thats causing a rise in drug-resistant bacteria. Indeed, for decades, doctors have prescribed antibiotics for common ailments like the flu and sinus infections that are not caused by bacteria. Studies show doctors often feel pressured to prescribe the drugs.

The problem is not an animal or human issue per se, said Dr. Tom Chiller, associate director for epidemiologic science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its about using the antibiotics as judiciously as we possibly can in situations where they are needed.

Some Americans are becoming more aware of the issue. Liza Greenfield, 33, said she will only buy organic, antibiotic-free meat at farmers markets because she doesnt think animals should be given antibiotics for growth.

A cow is supposed to eat grass, said Greenfield, an administrator at the New York University. I want to know it was out on the pasture eating grass.

As Americans show more interest, so are companies. Some of the largest restaurant and grocery chains including Kroger and Safeway now offer antibiotic-free meat. And last month, executives from companies such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Bon Appetit food services that offer antibiotic-free meat and poultry gathered in Washington to lobby for restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animals.

The FDA last week said it would ask drugmakers to voluntarily stop marketing antibiotics for non-medical uses on their labels with a goal of completely stopping the practice in a few years. Animal drugs can only be legally prescribed for uses listed on the label, so the change is expected to have a major impact on how farmers use them.

Some public safety advocates complained that the FDA, which worked with drugmakers on the proposal, should have mandated the change. But the FDA said a formal ban would have required individual hearings for each drug, which could have taken decades.

We think the science is very solid in showing that largely indiscriminate use of antibiotics contributes to resistance, said FDA Deputy Commissioner MichaeI Taylor. I dont think theres really any question about it.