Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Empty Bowls Event

Join us for the Empty Bowls event on Saturday, December 6, 2008 from 10:30am to 2:00pm at Oakton Community College, 1600 E. Golf Rd., Des Plaines, IL 60016.

This event is sponsored by the Ceramics Club at Oakton. Empty Bowls is a non-profit, global movement that has raised millions of dollars for food banks, soup kitchens, and other meal programs. Their philosophy, quite simply, is that no one should have an empty bowl.

Here's how it works. Stop by on Dec. 6th between 10:30am and 2:00pm. For a $12 donation, you can choose your favorite bowl from among hundreds of beautiful bowls, lovingly made by local ceramics artists, and share in a meal of soup and bread.

The bowl you have chosen is yours to keep as a reminder of the need for food throughout our area.

Last year, the Niles Township Food Pantry received $4,700 from the Empty Bowls event. This year, additional food pantries will be receiving funds, reducing the funds we will receive unless there is a significant increase in attendees and donations.

Please support our raffle of unique ceramic artwork. Tickets are $3 each or four for $10. Come to the Empty Bowls event to bid on additional silent auction prizes. Entertainment will be provided by Patchouli (, an acoustic duo whose songs about healing and compassion inspire the human spirit.

Please make time for this wonderful event for this wonderful cause!

Monday, December 1, 2008

2008 World AIDS Day

The 1st of December, World AIDS Day, is the day when individuals and organisations from around the world come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Here's an excerpt from a press release about the history of the day off of the website for World AIDS Campaign. Click on the link for the full article.

World AIDS Day marks 20th anniversary of solidarity
Sara Speicher 19/11/2008 1:09 pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 19 NOVEMBER 2008 For Eric Sawyer, the late 1980s was a “war time situation”. “People with AIDS were fighting for their lives and for their friends”, says Sawyer, an AIDS activist and co-founder of ACT UP New York.
By 1988, seven years after the first case of AIDS was reported, AIDS was causing more deaths in the US then there were in the Vietnam War, and between 5 and 10 million people were estimated to be infected with HIV around the world. Yet governments, media and society in general were not giving AIDS adequate attention. So, “people with AIDS had to literally take to the streets and block traffic and take over government buildings”, Sawyer recalls.
]Sawyer had been on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic since developing his first HIV-related symptoms in 1981, before AIDS was officially identified. For him and for thousands of other activists around the world, the formation of World AIDS Day in 1988 was one of the few moments in the year where the growing tragedy of AIDS would finally get attention around the globe.
Now at its 20th anniversary, World AIDS Day continues to be the focus of global solidarity for a pandemic that has led to over 25 million deaths with an estimated 33 million people currently living with HIV worldwide.

World AIDS Day was reportedly the brainchild of the late Jonathan Mann, at the time the director of the Global Programme on AIDS (GPA) at the World Health Organization. After positive reactions to the idea of World AIDS Day by over 100 health ministers at the January 1988 London gathering focused on AIDS and at the 1988 International AIDS Conference in Stockholm, the World Health Organization declared 1 December 1988 as the first World AIDS Day, which was recognised and supported by the UN General Assembly in October 1988. “We wanted to provide a platform so that people who were working on the issue at any level could get involved”, says Tom Netter, who worked with Mann as the head of the GPA’s public information office. Fostering a sense of solidarity was paramount, says Netter, “so that people could do things at the grassroots level and feel part of the global response at that time.” Netter recalls that in 1988, despite the short planning time, an event was held in every member state. “That was eye opening”, he said, “It showed that people wanted to have something that they could grab on to, to feel part of the overall response.” In the World Health Organization itself, panels from the AIDS quilt were displayed. “People found that very moving . . . it showed the individuals affected.” Within three years, the activities around the day “became something that was going to happen spontaneously…People on the ground took off with it”, says Netter.

Unique momentum

The energy behind World AIDS Day, and the activism that has characterised the response to AIDS among civil society, is unique.
Prior to AIDS, Netter states, “there wasn’t really so much of an advocacy movement regarding diseases or people who were ill. AIDS really was the first that mobilised people.” It was the people most affected who brought the urgency, passion and accountability to the movement. Sawyer recalls, “Early on the most significant leadership was actually done by people with AIDS themselves”. Whilst early activists targeted authorities’ slow response to AIDS, that didn’t mean that scientists and activists were on opposite sides, says Professor Lars Kallings, the first president of the International AIDS Society, also founded in 1988. “If you think from the beginning, before there was any treatment, the doctors felt very helpless. They suffered by not being able to help their patients. Therefore, even scientists have been on the front lines, on the barricades, very often against the authorities, the government.” World AIDS Day has been a symbolic focus for this activism. It “gave people a sense that they were part of a larger movement than what they were involved in individually and locally”, Netter states.
But this doesn’t mean that one day is enough. “For me”, says Frika Chia Iskandar, a young woman from Indonesia working with the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+), “it doesn’t seem like ‘World’ enough, it is not public enough”. For activists now, she reflects, the day itself doesn’t make a difference when “our days are filled with AIDS”. Yet, she emphasises, “For the public, though, it is at least one day where we think about AIDS, and it is still needed.”
Greg Gray, an APN+ advisor who also carries a supporting role for the NGO delegation to the UNAIDS governing board agrees, “World AIDS Day has real value for raising awareness with the broader public. But when you are working with the grassroots community affected by HIV it doesn’t connect as much. When you do it day in and day out, it becomes the norm. World AIDS Day is trying to get a bit of that message home to a much broader community.”