Amazing Technology of Today and Tomorrow

Posted by Al Hathaway Sunday, August 2, 2015 0 comments

I overheard a person saying yesterday, I don't use email or technology, call me.

It is amazing how rapidly our lifestyles and patterns are being affected by technology. We are way past what many may said is the technological revolution. We are firmly in the technology era. To not go along, means you are being left behind like any ancient relic from the past.

Applications are being produced at an alarming rate. They are all designed to make getting information, or preforming some task easier. I'm always downloading some new application and trying it out.

Surprising many of the good ones are free or have a modest cost attached to them.

Some basics you need are a desk top computer, a laptop, an iPad, and an iPhone. These devices comprise the Apple garden. Some of you may like other brands, and there are many.

Whatever product you use, you will never be able to fully operate it functionally. It can do far more than you can think. But if you learn to master a few applications you will discover a brave new world of technology that is sweeping the world and making it far smaller.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Posted by Al Hathaway Friday, July 31, 2015 0 comments

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. coined this title when asked the question regarding the Civil Rights struggle, "where do we go from here."

 This question is very relevant in Baltimore given the events of April 27, 2015. When a major distrubance erupted and 400+ business were looted and burned, 175+ police officers were injured, over 300 people arrested, and more than $50 million in property was damaged. Baltimore received a black eye as a result of the international, nation and local media coverage. In many ways this distrubance highlighted the effects of many years of instutitional and structual racism, disinvestment in certain neigborhoods, and benign neglect on the part of many to the conditions that were breeding disfunctional men, women and children. Study after study was identifying the effects, but very few were facing up to the sources of the problem. Mountains of bandaids have being used without any diagnosis for treatment and a cure.

Maybe after the Freddie Gray distrubance, it is time to hit the reset button.

We have many assets within out city with amazing capital and human resources. Maybe its time for government to get out of the way and listen to the institutions and individuals who make up the City in determining, where do we go from here?

Our City is home to the 7th per capital largest urban city that houses colleges and university. We have no shortage of intellectual talent. We have research capacity that is second to very few cities. We have world class medical instutions that have on its staff some of the world's outstanding physicians. Clearly the wherewithal is here to solve the health care disparities that is adversely affecting our community and the improve the education outcomes of our local residents.

Ponder this thought, UnderArmor is a 15 year old business that was developed within this community and it is now a billion dollar world wide enterprise. Clearly the business acumen is here to develop, sustain, and grow enterprises. Circling over our economy is old money because Maryland was one of the thirteen colonies. We have access to capital, unforunately the distribution is inequitable, and the wealth gap is widening.

Baltimore is home to the great religious movements in America: Roman Catholism and Methodism. We are also home to the second largest Jewish community outside of New York. A.M.E., A.M.E. Zion and the African American Baptist Movement all have strong roots within this community. The Greek Orthodox movement and many other faith movements are located within our boundaries. There should be no lack of spirituality to lead us out of this malise.

What's missing? Trust, common values and vision are key ingrediants needed for progress and transparency. Shared leadership is necessary to propel us to another level.

If the population of Baltimore City is around 600,000, we need the active participation and consultation of more than 60,000 people to turn as Congressman Cummings would say, "this moment into a movement."

No More Jail

Posted by Al Hathaway 0 comments

Yesterday, Governor Larry Hogan annouced that the Baltimore City Detention Center will be closed immediately. That was wonderful news, but the reason was somewhat depressing.

The basic reason was the facility has been a cesspool for coruption, substandard penal practices, and an ancient and decrepit building. For a building that was built in the middle 1850's, while modern for its era, it was solely out of date for today. It should have been retired, decommissioned, and/or closed long ago. Unfortunately, the facility not only was continued in use, it was overcrowded to boot.

Instead of our society addressing the underlying issues that created the need for a jail of this size, we continued the fail practise of inadequate education, inefficient job preparation and training, discrimatory housing, and a system of public subsidies that created a class of people who were dependent versus being empowered. Layer upon this prescription for disaster was the wholesale importing, distributing, and selling of drugs to a population of people. It didn't help that the social fabric of intact families were at risk as well. The Baltimore City Detention Center sybolized every thing that is wrong in our society.

Wouldn't it have been wonderful if the reason for closing the facility had been it was no longer needed because violence had subsided, criminal activity had been replaced with productive actions; criminal lawyers were changing their careers to other areas because they were no longer needed, grand juries were disbanded, and respect, moral character, and dignity was the order of the day.

Wouldn't it be marvelous if we had successive record years of no murders, no robberies, no mischief; because we have learned to live as neighbors and become the model for the world as a harmonious society.We no longer needed the jail because people were no longer engaged in criminal activity.

The challenge of demolishing this facility, is that maybe in the not to distant future, there will be a call and a need to build a modern larger facility because the ever increasing patterns of crime will mandate the need.

A Love Supreme

Posted by Al Hathaway Wednesday, July 29, 2015 0 comments

In a conversation today with Avon Bellamy, we reflected on the impact of John Coltrane's "Love Supreme" album.

It was recorded in Decemeber 1964. America was in the midst of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights struggles, Dr. King, Jr. and Malcom X, Muhammed Ali, and the brewing racial distrubance in the air.

America needed a calming influence to, at least, temporarily release tension and, focus people's minds on the higher order of life. John Coltrane delivered with this amazing album of sound, spirituality, and resonance.

Without any need for herbal or pharmaceutical stimulant, Coletrane is able to lift your mind and spirit to another plain. If love is the essence of God, Coltrane dips you into the soothing balm of love supreme and allows you to touch the hem of God's garment.

If you need a spiritual lift and want to reflect and relax, go to your uncle's closet and pick up his copy of this album, gather your family, especially your children, and expose them to John Coltrane at his best.

Over 50 years later, this recording is as fresh and stimulating as it was when it was first released.

Yes, a Love Supreme, a Love Supreme!!!!

Praying for Cissy

Posted by Al Hathaway Monday, July 27, 2015 0 comments

During the late 80's I was the Executive Director of St. Pius Housing, an innovative community development organization in West Baltimore. It was one of the early affilates of James and Patty Rouse's Enterprise Foundation. I was proud to call them my friends and mentors. While many of our efforts to transform a neighborhood were idealistic, it was an eye opening experience for my understanding of how public policy, institutional racism, and disinvestment impacts a neighborhood and discriminates against its residents. Nevertheless, I was proud to work with a cadre of community, foundation, and public officials who were willing to at least try to make a difference.

A colleague recommended to me that I consider hosting a concert as a fundraiser and feature a gospel artist, Cissy Houston, as the guest talent. It was at that time a bold idea for a community based development organization. I accepted the challenge and began working with Ms. Cissy Houston as I made the arrangements to bring her to the Harlem Park community. As I reflect deeper, the year was 1985.

I would call Ms. Cissy Houston and talk with her about the logistics, songlist, and accompanying artists. I had a limited budget and was using as a venue the former St. Pius V Roman Catholic Church on the corner of Edmondson Avenue and Schroeder Streets. Through those conversations, I became a casual friend of Ms. Houston. Her husband, who she later divorced, was a housing official in New Jersey. Her daughter was a budding singer who after an early career in modeling just signed with Clive Davis as a soloist, Whitney Houston. Unbeknowst to members of the community, if the contract with Mr. Davis had not just been signed, Ms. Cissy Houston was going to bring her daughter, Whitney and her son along with her to back her up at the concert.

The Cissy Houston Concert was a big hit in the community and she performed before a packed church in West Baltimore. From those early conversations with her I became intrigued by this beautiful woman who sang as back up on major records throughout her career. Elvis Pressey confided in her to add soul to his songs and she with a background group sang on many of his hit records. He was so close to her that he gave her $40,000 to purchase her home in New Jersey, an amazing amount of money in those days. When Luther Vandross wanted the soul sound on his recordings he contacted Ms. Cissy Houston and the rest is history.

Ms. Cissy Houston was grounded in her church in New Jersey. She was an amazing woman of faith with talented children, talented relatives, and surrounded by talented friends. Her talent took her to places unheard of for an African American women of her time and era.

She was very proud of the solo career of Whitney Houston. Her daughter lived the life she dreamed of and commanded top dollar for her performances.

I join Cissy Houston in her sorrow. Losing her daughter, Whitney, too soon, and now her grandaughter, Bobbie Kristina Brown, at an early age as well.

I'm no longer close to her, so many years have passed. I'm unable to call her at home to express my sincere and deep sympathy. Cissy Houston has lived much of her life in the public arena and now her pain has to be played out in the public arena as well. This amazing woman who I befriended years ago, also introduced me to Lionel Hampton who planned to do a concert with me as well.

I grieve for Ms. Cissy Houston and pray that God will provide her some modicum of peace during this period of unspeakable pain.

I will never forget her generousity and willingness to support the cause of providing affordable housing to residents of West Baltimore a long time ago.

Pondering Moments

Posted by Al Hathaway Saturday, July 25, 2015 0 comments

There are moments in life that causes you to pause, step back, and think things through.  

It's good to take time "to count to ten." So much of life is kinetic action: thoughtless, mindless, continuous, endless movement, and non stop grinding.

Taking a break allows you to put things into perspective. Taking a break distinguishes between ought to do's, must do's, what others say you should do, why do's, and have to do's.

Taking a break places the onus of life upon you and God and takes it off of humankind.

I love pondering moments because they allow my thoughts to fully develop without interference.

Driving through a foreign country

Posted by Al Hathaway Friday, July 24, 2015 0 comments

I had the pleasant and intriguing experience of driving the roadways of Costa Rica. I drove over 300 miles round trip. What was their highway we would call a country road. The scenery was lusciously green and reflected the tropical climate of the area. It's their rainy season so periodically I had to use my windshield wipers to clear the glass of rain. Drivers are aggressive and if you want to make progress you have to be aggressive as well. 

My drive was a metaphor for our Christian journey in a foreign land. We are travelers on a round trip. We come from God and after our journey we return to God.  

About to have breakfast

Posted by Al Hathaway Thursday, July 23, 2015 0 comments

Waking up in the morning and getting breakfast seems like fairly routine. For many that is the case. A pot of coffee or tea, some eggs and bacon, some fruit and juice, or some toast and jam is as regular as turn the page of a newspaper. Unfortunately far too many children don't know this routine and for them breakfast is not their reality.

I'm happy to know that The Beloved Community Services Corporation, an affiliate of Union Baptiat Church, will begin feeding breakfast and lunch to 75 children daily beginning this Monday who live in the Upton community.

Join us and witness the smiling faces of young people being fed, encouraged and affirmed.

Traveling Mercies

Posted by Al Hathaway Wednesday, July 22, 2015 0 comments

I often reflect on the blessings of God, particularly when I pray for traveling mercies. The world is an amazing place. Clearly a person who ventures beyond their normal travel patterns has been granted traveling mercies. From my balcony I see portions of the Pacific Ocean and reflect upon the first time I viewed it from the shores of California. I thank God for traveling mercies. To think of the role of the Wright Brothers in air travel and now with increasing frequency to board an airplane and to travel to places never seen before is nothing short of traveling mercies. To be welcomed by new people in new places is God's grace sprinkling in with His mercy.

On second thought a simple drive to the grocery store is traveling mercies as well.

Thank you God!