by Taki S. Raton
Urban fiction writer and journalist James E. Causey will be featured for a presentation and book signing this Saturday, December 15 at the Ayzha Fine Arts Gallery & Boutique in the Grand Avenue Mall, 272 West Wisconsin Avenue.
His first book, “The Twist” was proclaimed “a great debut novel” by an online book reviewer. The sequel “Twisted” has recently been published in 2012. Causey is an editorial writer and columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. His novels are available for sale and will be signed by the author.
Causey was a 2008 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. In 2011, he received a first-place award for sports writing from the National Association of Black Journalist and a National Headliner Award for commentary. He additionally received numerous Milwaukee Press Club recognitions for his writings. Causey is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University in Fox Point and serves as president of the Wisconsin Black Media Association.
The Nieman Fellowship is an award given to mid-career journalist by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. This fellowship allows winners to reflect on their careers and cultivate their skills. The Nieman is awarded to reporters, editors, photographers, producers, editorial writers, cartoonists, and Internet specialist with at least five years of full-time professional experience in the news media. The fellowship home is at the Lippman House in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ayzha Fine Arts opened its doors October 19 in observance of the October city wide “Gallery Night” festivities. The gallery represents original works by local, regional, national and international artists for sale, as well as prints, jewelry, cards, books, CDs and organic hair products.
Ayzha is located on the second floor of the Shops of Grand Avenue across from the elevator. The Causey book signing presentation is free and open to the public. For additional information on the author or Ayzha Fine Arts, please contact the gallery at (414) 220-4355.
Actress Alfre Woodard attends the 2012 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar Night Celebration at the 21 Club on February 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
by Marquise Francis
The Screen Actors Guild Award is an accolade given annually by the Screen Actors Guild, or SAG, to recognize outstanding performances by its members.
This year actors Alfre Woodard and Denzel Washington received nominations for their acclaimed performances on film and television.
Woodard received a nomination for her role in the TV movie Steel Magnolias, in which she played Ouiser, a grouchy, two-time widow who shares a bond with five other women in the parish of Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Washington received a nomination for his role as Whip Whitaker in the hit film Flight, in which he plays a gifted pilot with a substance-abuse problem who has the challenge of landing a crippled plane.
On January 27, 2013 the 19th Annual SAG Awards will take place in the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center and will be aired on TNT and TBS at 8 pm (ET).
Milwaukee Public Schools’ Milwaukee High School of the Arts is now the first school in the Midwest to benefit from a new GRAMMY Signature Schools partnership between the GRAMMY Foundation and the Hot Topic Foundation.
The Signature Schools Community Award includes a $2,000 grant to be used to assist in maintaining the school’s high-quality music program.
Milwaukee High School of the Arts was selected in part because its students have been chosen through a rigorous selection process for the All Star GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles in the past, including Felix Ramsey, who was selected last school year.
“Many here in Milwaukee already know about the high-quality arts offerings at our Milwaukee High School of the Arts – and we’re grateful groups around the country are taking notice as well!” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said.
Milwaukee Public Schools is Wisconsin’s largest school district, serving nearly 80,000 students in more than 160 schools across the city. U.S. News and World Report named MPS’ Rufus King International School and Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School the two best high schools in the state and among the 200 best in the country in 2012. In the past year, Milwaukee Public Schools posted a growing graduation rate 17 points higher than the rate for 2000.
On Saturday, December 8, the Terry McCormick Gallery of Contemporary Fine and Folk Art hosts Blanche Brown: Celebrate Obama–Forward America Exhibition & Sale with a reception from 12 Noon through 5 pm. The location is 2522 North 18th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Also being exhibited is artwork by Kevin Boatright, Shana R. Goetsch, Ras `Ammar Nsoroma, George Ray McCormick Sr., Jacqueline A. Richards, Anwar Pruitt, Mikal Pruitt, and Evelyn Patricia Terry. Enjoy art, vegetarian and vegan refreshments, with of course raw green juices, vegetables, nuts, and fruit. Free and open to the public. Other times by appointment only.
by Mariko Oi BBC News, Japan
Japan’s era of shoguns and samurai is long over, but the country does have one, or maybe two, surviving ninjas. Experts in the dark arts of espionage and silent assassination, ninjas passed skills from father to son – but today’s say they will be the last.
Japan’s ninjas were all about mystery. Hired by noble samurai warriors to spy, sabotage and kill, their dark outfits usually covered everything but their eyes, leaving them virtually invisible in shadow – until they struck.
Using weapons such as shuriken, a sharpened star-shaped projectile, and the fukiya blowpipe, they were silent but deadly.
Ninjas were also famed swordsmen. They used their weapons not just to kill but to help them climb stone walls, to sneak into a castle or observe their enemies.
Most of their missions were secret so there are very few official documents detailing their activities. Their tools and methods were passed down for generations by word of mouth.
This has allowed filmmakers, novelists and comic artists to use their wild imagination.
Hollywood movies such as Enter the Ninja and American Ninja portray them as superhumans who could run on water or disappear in the blink of an eye.
“That is impossible because no matter how much you train, ninjas were people,” laughs Jinichi Kawakami, Japan’s last ninja grandmaster, according to the Iga-ryu ninja museum.
However, ninjas did apparently have floats that enabled them move across water in a standing position.
Kawakami is the 21st head of the Ban family, one of 53 that made up the Koka ninja clan. He started learning ninjutsu (ninja techniques) when he was six, from his master, Masazo Ishida.
“I thought we were just playing and didn’t think I was learning ninjutsu,” he says.
“I even wondered if he was training me to be a thief because he taught me how to walk quietly and how to break into a house.”
Other skills that he mastered include making explosives and mixing medicines.
“I can still mix some herbs to create poison which doesn’t necessarily kill but can make one believe that they have a contagious disease,” he says.
Kawakami inherited the clan’s ancient scrolls when he was 18.
While it was common for these skills to be passed down from father to son, many young men were also adopted into the ninja clans.
There were at least 49 of these but Mr Kawakami’s Koka clan and the neighbouring Iga clan remain two of the most famous thanks to their work for powerful feudal lords such as Ieyasu Tokugawa – who united Japan after centuries of civil wars when he won the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.
It is during the Tokugawa era – known as Edo – when official documents make brief references to ninjas’ activities.
“They weren’t just killers like some people believe from the movies,” says Kawakami.
In fact, they had day jobs. “Because you cannot make a living being a ninja,” he laughs.
There are many theories about these day jobs. Some ninjas are believed to have been farmers, and others pedlars who used their day jobs to spy.
“We believe some became samurai during the Edo period,” says Kawakami. “They had to be categorised under the four caste classes set by the Tokugawa government: warrior, farmers, artisan and merchants.”
As for the 21st Century ninja, Kawakami is a trained engineer. In his suit, he looks like any other Japanese businessman.
The title of “Japan’s last ninja”, however, may not be his alone. Eighty-year-old Masaaki Hatsumi says he is the leader of another surviving ninja clan – the Togakure clan.
Hatsumi is the founder of an international martial arts organisation called Bujinkan, with more than 300,000 trainees worldwide.
“They include military and police personnel abroad,” he tells me at one of his training halls, known as dojo, in the town of Noda in Chiba prefecture.
It is a small town and not a place you would expect to see many foreigners. But the dojo, big enough for 48 tatami mats, is full of trainees who are glued to every move that Hatsumi makes. His actions are not big, occasionally with some weapons, but mainly barehanded.
Hatsumi explains to his pupils how those small moves can be used to take enemies out.
Paul Harper from the UK is one of many dedicated followers. For a quarter of a century, he has been coming to Hatsumi for a few weeks of lessons every year.
“Back in the early 80s, there were various martial art magazines and I was studying Karate at the time and I came across some articles about Bujinkan,” he says.
“This looked much more complex and a complete form of martial arts where all facets were covered so I wanted to expand my experience.”
Harper says his master’s ninja heritage interested him at the start but “when you come to understand how the training and techniques of Bujinkan work, the ninja heritage became much less important”.
Hatsumi’s reputation doesn’t stop there. He has contributed to countless films as a martial arts adviser, including the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, and continues to practise ninja techniques.
Both Kawakami and Hatsumi are united on one point. Neither will appoint anyone to take over as the next ninja grandmaster.
“In the age of civil wars or during the Edo period, ninjas’ abilities to spy and kill, or mix medicine may have been useful,” Kawakami says.
“But we now have guns, the internet and much better medicines, so the art of ninjutsu has no place in the modern age.”
As a result, he has decided not to take a protege. He simply teaches ninja history part-time at Mie University.
Despite having so many pupils, Mr Hatsumi, too, has decided not to select an heir.
“My students will continue to practice some of the techniques that were used by ninjas, but [a person] must be destined to succeed the clan.” There is no such person, he says.
The ninjas will not be forgotten. But the once-feared secret assassins are now remembered chiefly through fictional characters in cartoons, movies and computer games, or as a tourist attractions.
The museum in the city of Iga welcomes visitors from across the world where a trained group, called Ashura, entertains them with an hourly performance of ninja tricks.
Unlike the silent art of ninjutsu, the shows that school children and foreign visitors watch today are loud and exciting. The mystery has gone even before the last ninja has died.
The Black Child Development Institute of Milwaukee (BCDI Milwaukee) hosted its 6th Annual Recognition in Community Service Banquet on November 8, 2012 at the Hilton Garden Inn on Milwaukee’s northwest side.
In prior years, BCDI has recognized individuals in specific service categories such as Education, Advocacy, and the Arts.
This year, it decided to recognize the Child Care Profession. Because this profession has received so much negative publicity over the past four years, BCDI Milwaukee decided to showcase and celebrate those who have done so much for so many children and families.
The goal was to have 100 providers at the Banquet. To accomplish this, BCDI Milwaukee provided scholarships through corporate sponsorship from the following organizations: 4C-For Children, Johnson Controls, the Supporting Families Together Association, US Bank, and YoungStar Consortium. Many
of these organizations also had tables with valuable information. Tables were also provided by the UW-Milwaukee Center for Early Childhood Professional Development, and the MATC Early Childhood Department.
Throughout the evening, many words of expression let the child care professionals know they are supported.
Earl Ingram, Jr. of WMCS 1290 was the emcee, and Erica Lofton the youth soloist. BCDI Milwaukee also introduced three pioneers of the child care profession to the group: Pam Boulton, Bessie Gray, and Peggy Hardy.
Each provider also received a gift bag that included resources they will be able to use in their child care programs.
The Banquet was videotaped by Keith Stanley, who in turn was being taped by a crew from PBS’ “Frontline” with Bill Moyers. Look for segments of our event on Frontline in spring of 2013.
The evening was a tremendous success. And BCDI Milwaukee is looking forward to its 7th Annual Banquet in 2013, and the opportunity to recognize others who continue to make a difference in the lives of children and families through advocacy and education.
Place article and photo under Local news/business
Bader Grants to address Milwaukee Jobs (Photo: hbf.jpg)
The Helen Bader Foundation (HBF), a leading philanthropic Milwaukee-based foundation, announced today its Board of Directors has approved $855,000 in funding for 20 Milwaukee workforce development organizations. Of these 20 grants, 15 specifically address populations in Milwaukee facing unique employment barriers that are often overlooked, such as adults with disabilities, those with vision impairments, and low-income minorities.
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) recently reported the metro Milwaukee area unemployment rate stood at 6.9 percent for September 2012, however, some segments of the local population have unemployment rates more than four times this rate.
According to Eric Grosso, Senior Economist at the DWD, the most recent unemployment statistics from the 2011 American Community Survey estimate that, in metro-Milwaukee, unemployment among the labor pool of adults with disabilities is 25.8%, for those with vision impairments is 22.4%, and among African American males is 29.4%.
HBF recognizes that while there are current unemployment initiatives and services that assist the general population, there are segments of the population that need a different approach in order to bridge the unemployment gap. This is one of the primary reasons HBF is concentrating its current workforce development efforts on serving populations within Milwaukee that face unique barriers to employment.
“We all know that people are unemployed, but the system treats unemployment as a one-size-fits-all situation and that’s not the reality of it,” said Jerry Roberts, program officer and manager of HBF’s efforts to address workforce development. “We need to address the many, many barriers to employment in our community in order to fully address the unemployment situation as a whole.”
The United Cerebral Palsy of Southeastern Wisconsin (UCP) is just one of the 15 organizations HBF has chosen to fund for its direct services to the unemployed. With nearly a quarter of Milwaukee’s disabled adults unable to find work, UCP plans to expand its existing program that targets six of the city’s poorest zip codes, to help job-seekers who have a range of disabilities find and maintain employment. As sole supporter of this expansion, HBF is taking on a unique opportunity to reach out to Milwaukee’s disabled population and focus on identifying those individuals who want to work, but for whom the traditional work search channels are not effective.
Similar to UCP, Wiscraft, Inc. provides workforce development programming for a population with a major barrier, Milwaukee County’s blind and visually impaired adults. Wiscraft’s “Beyond Vision” program provides skills training and personal development through its light manufacturing, machine shop, and other operations. The new HBF grant will enhance Beyond Vision’s approach to providing marketable, transferrable skills to these adults by expanding its call center and customer service operations, which provide contract services for a number of local corporations.
While many of the 15 programs that HBF is funding address specific populations that may have some job experience, Operation DREAM’s “Learning to DREAM” program attempts to reach Milwaukee’s African American males, ages 11-17, during the crucial stages of preparing and entering the workforce. This program provides education, mentoring, job training, placement and college visits. It also offers a safe haven for many of the youth and implements positive motivation through their development of skills and exposure to employment.
“It’s important that we reach youth well before they enter the workforce,” said Roberts. “The basic skills and positive attitudes they develop will not just prepare them for their first real job, but also help them build a solid career path.”