Tuesday, November 20, 2007

rachel sterling

WE have to admit that it takes a good deal of courage to offer oneself for public office. We should remember that the great leaders we so revere, Alexander Bustamante, Norman Manley, Winston Churchill, Jawaharlal Nehru, Julius 'Mwalimu' Nyerere, were all politicians. Those of us with long memories will remember the brickbats borne by both Busta and Norman during their vigorous campaigns.

Lady Bustamante's Memoirs and Rachel Manley's Drumblair not only record the struggles of these two extraordinary leaders but the loving, supportive circles in which they moved. As thuggery became a part of our political reality, even people in the same political party grew unsure of whom to trust. In conversations with politicians from both sides, they speak of being strangely lonely even as they are constantly surrounded by fans and hangers-on. They grow to cherish even more a trusted spouse and other family members, people they can count on to be as frank as they are loyal.

The breakdown of the family must surely have had its effect on the individuals who have entered politics in recent years. Just as private sector employers are seeing applicants well-armed with myriad degrees and absolutely no knowledge of basic home-grown morals and mores, today's wannabe politicians could be suffering from some serious gaps in their upbringing.

Well aware of these realities and the heady effect of power, the more mature heads in politics should have developed a thoughtful, compassionate mentorship programme for these promising young leaders. The 'school for politicians' begins with the youth arms, where individuals are trained in the art of politics, and having moved through the ranks, emerge as the new 'flavour of the month'. What a dizzying experience!
Suddenly you are either junior minister, senator or government spokesperson. Photographers and reporters are in hot pursuit and you see yourself on television, hear yourself on radio and have scrapbooks filled with photographs of your wonderful self.

There is a saying, "be careful that you start believing your own PR. Politicians (as well as those who find themselves on top of the corporate pile) really need a solid circle to keep them grounded in reality, lest they become drunk on their own power. My friend Dr Tony Vendryes likes to remind us that "ego" is an acronym for "Edging God Out". People surrounded by yes-men and sycophants will morph into little gods, thinking themselves answerable to no man.

Call me a sop, but I have been very saddened by the recent reports on the light bulb and Trafigura issues. One matter is now in the hands of the police, so we are not hazarding any judgment. Suffice it to say that bright young men who could have been great hopes for Jamaica are now facing crises in their political careers. For most of their adult lives they have belonged to a political party that has enjoyed victory after victory. Did the older heads in the party tell them about those tough days when they had to taste the bitter gall of defeat? How much coaching did our young politicians get in ethics and due process?
The more mature heads in both political parties have a responsibility to the young people whom they have courted into their folds. In them are the hopes and dreams, not merely of party, but of country. From them we want to make new Florizel Glasspoles, Hugh Shearers, Rose Leons and other sterling leaders of pre- and post-independence.

The words 'smart' and 'clever' have become devalued, said in grudging admiration of people who have done well but acted unfairly. I feel excruciatingly embarrassed when expatriates are heard criticising the corrupt practices of some Jamaicans. They are aghast at what some of us have not only accepted as common practice, but as 'clever' moves.

It has been said that for every politician being publicly hauled over the coals, there are other Jamaicans in both the private and public sectors trotting around, nose in the air, their own sordid secrets well hidden. This light bulb debacle should be a signal that the country is not going to settle for "business as usual". No doubt the PNP opposition will be watching the JLP government to find a similar chink it their armour. Jamaica should be cheering, "Bring it on! Let them watch each other and make us honest once more!"

Dr Henley Morgan gave us a fascinating column last week, analysing the ebb and flow of murder statistics under succeeding Commissioners of Police, acknowledging that there was a 16 per cent reduction in murders under Lucius Thomas' watch, and calling for greater accountability from the next commissioner. He cited the example of New York City Police Chief of the '90s William Bratton who, without a budget increase, "turned New York from the deadliest into the safest large city in the nation". He likened crime to a Biblical Goliath and called for a David to free Jamaica. In fact, we need many courageous Davids and Davidias at Old Hope Road, at Jamaica House, and the PNP HQ.

To help us nurture these individuals, our churches need to synergise and intervene. The individual denominations and umbrella groups are doing tremendous work. However, the time is long past for all these groups to have representation in one religious organisation, keenly and actively focused on the nation's business. As powerful as our politicians may seem, no political party holds the compelling sway over their followers as most churches do.

Church and the mature heads in politics must join together to groom and guide our emerging leaders. We have failed our derailed young politicians. If they are hanging their heads in shame, the heads of their leaders and mentors, their 'shining exemplars', should be hanging even lower.

Norma Chang Daycare Centre

Last Thursday, Norma and husband Fred Chang beamed as the Daycare Centre at the Stella Maris Foundation in Grant's Pen was dedicated in Norma's name. The gentle octogenarians of the St Vincent de Paul Society have been like mother and father for over 20 years to many less fortunate residents in the area. They placed themselves at the disposal of these folks, even ensuring that they had their home phone number, which was well used and always lovingly answered. We salute these humble heroes Y más gift shop opens

A monogramming, jewelry and gift shop has moved to Roanoke County from Georgia.

Y más opened last month on Electric Road, inside the former spot of Bel Pasto, a gourmet food and wine store, at a retail center in front of Gold's Gym. "Y más" means "and more" in Spanish.

The owner, Rachel Swain, moved to Roanoke County with her husband and family about 212 years ago, but during that period, she commuted several times a year to oversee her store, Silver Selections by Rachel, in Tifton, Ga.

Swain later decided to move her shop to the Roanoke Valley, giving it a new and shorter name. Swain, who speaks some Spanish, said she chose Y más because, "I didn't want it to be something common. It had a nice ring."

Her store carries items for monogramming, engraving and other kinds of personalizing. The selection includes tote bags, picture frames and custom jewelry in sterling silver, stone and Swarovski crystals and pewter. Many of these items are used for gifts for a wedding party or as baby presents for expectant parents, Swain said.

This retail center houses several other stores, including Quiznos, Chocolatepaper, Pizza Hut, Valley Cleaners and U.S. Cellular.

Cave Spring Corners

Cave Spring Corners shopping center will include a new life insurance company in mid-December.

American General is taking a 1,600-square-foot space at this retail center on Brambleton Avenue in Roanoke County, said Stacy Slater, a spokeswoman for Centro Properties Group of New York, the company that owns the center.

American General will land beside Caribbean Tan.

Slater would not disclose other new tenants planned for the center, but said her company is in the process of finalizing additional leases. Kroger and Hamrick's are the anchor stores at Cave Spring Corners.

Ol Mule Hot Dog Co.

A Salem resident has turned his love of cooking into a hot dog business.

Lee Eubanks, who is retired from the construction industry, opened Ol Mule Hot Dog Co. in July at 203 Roanoke Blvd. in Salem.

The stand, which is inside a former dog grooming business, sells beef hot dogs at $2.50 each with a variety of toppings, including chili, relish and coleslaw. Other offerings are varied and include corn chowder, gumbo and chili beans, Eubanks said.

He also serves several kinds of desserts, such as bread pudding made with Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Ol Mule's location is built for takeout orders, though there are picnic tables outside the stand for warm weather dining.

Eubanks, who calls himself a cook focusing on Southern fare, said the stand is named for a mule, Old Pat, that his grandfather used for plowing fields in North Carolina. But Old Pat wasn't just a work animal. The mule was a family pet, Eubanks said.
When it comes to flea markets, craft shows and holiday bazaars, one person's age-old knickknack is another's find of the day.

Every weekend, hundreds of Bucks Countians scour vendors' tables from Bristol to Newtown to find a special gift, or just for the adventure of the hunt.

But whether it's personalizing sports paraphernalia for a pet, or meeting new people, shoppers and crafters both say they always find treasures.

Just ask Linda S. Radetsky. She turns some people's lost buttons into art ― glass salt sellers and sterling silver ink wells topped with layered button lids that cost $15 to $100 and can hold rings or even baby teeth.

"It's something for the person who has everything," said the Wayne resident who antiques everywhere to find different styles.

But, nowadays, Radetsky said, handmade items are as rare as the collectibles she crafts.

"Hardly anybody makes anything anymore," she said. "So craft shows and flea markets are a chance to find something unique, meet interesting people and see how creative people can get."

After all, where, other than flea markets like the one in the Levittown Fire Co. 1 in Falls, can someone find reindeer food, VHS movies, or snowman soup?

At the Village of Flowers Mill Community Clubhouse in Middletown over the weekend, customers like Helen Mintzes strolled through hand-knit scarves, doll designs and painted decorations.

"I'm a crafter," said the Middletown resident, a jewelry-maker who was checking out the techniques of others. "I admire other people's work."

Plus, a benefit at some of the shows is that a portion of certain merchants' or raffle profits go to various charities.

But while some crafters like Radetsky honed their hobby into an expertise after retiring, others sell as a second job.

By day, Liz Hocine is a hospital administrator. By weekend, she's a festival extraordinaire.

"This is my mental vacation and relaxation," said the Yardley resident who crochets bright flip-flops, hand stamps pieces and makes greeting cards. "There's so much stress from the wear and tear of life. But when people walk by my table and see all the colors, they smile."

And even if a gift costs more or less at a market than a shopping mall, Hocine said it means more to give or receive something handmade because there's so much more effort put into it.

"It feels more personal to have something that you can't find anywhere else," agreed Shelly Krocker of Downington, who enjoys spending his weekends leisurely walking the booths with friends.

"It's just fun to browse in nice weather. When something catches your eye, you'll know you want it."

And if not, the search continues next weekend.


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