The Latest Edition of Voices of Central Pa


Voices of Central Pennsylvania September 2015
In This Issue: September Public Meetings Calendar | Moral Hazard and Big 10 Climate Commitments | Superlatives overtake the airwaves | Yemen a hotspot in US-Iran power struggle | LAGuide to PetEuphoria | Jewelweed - A Gem in the Marsh | Poet of the Month ~ Julia Spicher Kasdorf | Musician Profile: Tyne Palazzi | Winter Outlook | Local Home-Scale Photovoltaic Solar | Finding Made-in-USA products | An Uncommon Fall Visitor | Advice to agripreneurs | PSU Should Apply Whole Systems-thinking | A Tale of Two Nittany Theatres | Ways Ferguson Township Can Protect Water

Too Many Zoos doing some Brasshouse

Pennsylvanians for Safe Access medical marijuana rally in Altoona

PENNSYLVANIANS FOR SAFE ACCESS: Medical Cannabis Support Rally

Friday October 23rd, 2015, Rally from 4-7, Press Conference 5:30
Heritage Plaza, Altoona PA

After 88 Years of cannabis prohibition, which was led by a gentleman named Harry Anslinger from Altoona, a broad spectrum of Pa. citizens are tired of not having safe access to safe natural medical cannabis. Medical cannabis legislation is further along in the legislative process than it has ever been in PA, and should pass by the end of the year or beginning of next year.

Pennsylvanians for Safe Access is coming to Altoona to have patient advocates and patients that would greatly be helped by medical cannabis tell their stories. Through stories of personal triumphs and education about what medical cannabis is, we will help break the stigma and negative associations of this plant. We encourage all to attend, those for, against, or on the fence. Over 300 people have indicated that they are planning on attending.

Pennsylvanians for Safe Access to Medical Marijuana


Photo: Harry Anslinger Source: Wikimedia Commons

Important letter from the Voices Editor-in-Chief to the Nittany and Penns Valley communities, includes her resignation.

Given the low participation and level of interest expressed by people at the Facebook discussion and in private conversations I've had over the last few weeks around town, I’m recommending to the current Voices Board of Directors - Elaine Meder-Wilgus, Art Goldschmidt and Chip Mefford - that they hire an attorney to begin the process of closing Voices of Central Pennsylvania, paying off remaining debts and disbursing remaining assets.
There are not enough community members willing and/or able to do the work required to fund and operate the newspaper in an effective way. The current model of scrambling for content, working without sufficient staff, and worrying whether money is available for publication is not sustainable.
Effective immediately, I'm resigning as editor-in-chief, and will be exploring possibilities for launching new citizen-media structures under the auspices of either New Leaf Initiative's 501(c)3 or Spring Creek Homesteading Fund's 501(c)3.
The closure of Voices is not an isolated predicament, nor is it a blameless one. There are individuals who could, but probably won’t, be held responsible. Around them stand multiple ranks of individuals who could have, but did not, step up to support the paper’s efforts with their labor as leaders, reporters, donors, distributors, photographers, or advocates.
It’s also not a victimless predicament.
People need accurate, timely, contextualized, public information about what’s going on where they live, and they need civic leaders empowered by knowledge and citizen support to successfully confront and stop power abuses. Privacy helps abusers to get away with their abuse. Exposure helps victims organize and resist.
That information and civic leadership is not being provided by the Centre Daily Times, the Daily Collegian, the Gazette,, WPSU or any of the other media in town.
As a result, the whole community suffers from collective, ongoing traumatization as power-abusers repeatedly get away with abuse. It's as bad for bystanders who witness the abuse and are helpless to stop it as it is for those who endure the abuse personally.
It's fostered a profound learned helplessness: deeply ingrained habits of denial and willful blindness that enable dysfunctional, destructive individuals and organizations to occupy crucial public spaces, at the tremendous cost of foreclosing possibilities for healthy individuals and organizations to get a foothold.
If you are are interested in exploring possibilities for developing a healthy civic culture in the Centre Region, contact me at
It's important work, but not for the faint of heart.

Thanks to our sponsors!

A first-hand account of the Baltimore protests

Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers and local law enforcement watch protesters gathered in front of City Hall, Baltimore, April 30, 2015
Photo by U.S. Army National Guard Sgt Margaret Taylor WIKIMEDIA COMMONS



David Flores saw community members line the streets of the Western District of Baltimore 24 hours after Freddie Gray died. “There was a lot of deep tension, anger, pain, and raw emotional energy that was coming out,” Flores said. “People were calling out black police officers for protecting their own instead of protecting the community. Some of the police officers started crying. It was stunning to see.”

The story of Freddie Gray’s arrest and death has had a widespread impact. Gray, a 25-year-old black man living in Baltimore’s Western District, was arrested on April 12, 2015. Police officers claimed that he was in possession of an illegal switchblade, although a later investigation showed that his pocket knife was legal. Between 8:39 a.m. and 9:24 a.m. that morning, the police van carrying Gray made four stops, not one of them to a medical center. Yet Gray suffered a critical neck injury. News of Gray’s mistreatment and subsequent coma spread through the community, and hundreds of Baltimoreans protested outside of the Western District police station. Tragically, Gray died on April 19. Read more »

Local programs assisting sexual assault victims


Penn State has been rocked by a large number of sexual assault reports since the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke in November 2011. The college has taken initiatives to address this issue, offering services to those affected by sexual violence.
According to The Daily Collegian, President Eric Barron created the Task Force on Sexual Assault and Harassment in July 2014. The task force was asked to make recommendations to wipe out sexual violence. 
On January 29, 2015, the task force presented a list of 18 recommendations, including hiring a full-time Title IX coordinator and creating an office to handle Title IX violations. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Eleven of the 18 recommendations are set to be handled by the office tasked with investigating these violations.
According to, Barron accepted the entire list of recommendations on February 17, 2015.
Penn State and the State College community offer an array of existing services to help survivors.
Read more »

Whistleblower intimidation at Penn State

Penn State Old Main Bell Tower. 

Photo by George Chriss//WIKIMEDIA COMMONS 



Corporate Penn State’s fortress of secrecy and whistleblower intimidation is starting to crack. It’s an excellent development. 

In a June 4 letter to the Centre Daily Times, Barry Fenchak wrote about an incident at the June 2 Penn State Town Hall meeting. An audience member “raised the issue of university employees’ fear of retaliation for reporting wrongdoing. In his response, Vice President of Finance and Business, David Gray, acknowledged what the recent university-wide employee survey confirmed: ‘that particular issue — sadly — was most deeply rooted within finance and business. ” 

Fenchak pointed out that Gray is responsible for several programs in addition to F&B, including the Office of Physical Plant (OPP), Human Resources, Diversity and Ethics. Gray is perfectly positioned to support and encourage whistleblowers. 

“Fear of retaliation for reporting concerns is also real and justified for

staff and faculty — non-tenure line and tenure line — across the university.” He concluded: “At Penn State, retaliation is not isolated; it is systemic. It is part of a suite of condign ‘management tools’ that are deeply embedded in this very hierarchical institution's DNA." - L.S. Finn 


But instead of acting decisively to set up and enforce whistleblower protections, he simply laments the sad situation for which he is primarily responsible. It brings to mind the maxim attributed to Albert Einstein: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice.” 

Further evidence for the malice theory of whistleblower intimidation is the February appointment of Margaret Gray, David Gray’s wife, as Penn State’s new Director of Local Government and Community Relations. Between the two roles, they personify Penn State’s corporate strategy: control institutional revenue streams from student tuition, public subsidies, donations, and endowment investments, and stifle or manipulate all attempts at public oversight by local governments and civilians. 

Read more »

Voices of Central Pennsylvania July-August 2015 Arts Festival Issue


IN THIS ISSUE: 10 Reasons to visit the Bellefonte Ar t Museum | A closer look at local Arts Fest artists | People are a work of art | Fast, sustainable pasta from Fasta & Ravioli Co. Read more »

Local Woman Honored With UNA-USA Lifetime Achievement Award

Charles Dumas's photo.

Norma Keller Recognized for Her Commitment to Strong U.S.-UN Relations

  Read more »

FERGUSON A Historical Perspective

Ferguson, Day 4, Photo 26

By Charles Dumas


         We were invited to a class taught by Courtney Morris, Asst. Prof. Anne Marie Mingo, Prof. Paul Taylor head of the African-American Studies Department. It was a workshop on the events around Ferguson.  Several police chiefs and Penn State officials also attended. The students had examined various aspects of the events in Ferguson, MO, focusing on: the police, the media, state officials,demonstrators, etc.


            Much attention has been paid to white police officers, killing unarmed African-American men.  Relatively little attention has been focused on the community reactions to the incidents after they have occurred. Thousands of people in Ferguson and across the nation participated in demonstrations,die-ins, and other expressions of community action. Almost all have been peaceful, the people exercising their Constitutional rights to assemble to petition the government about their grievances.  I believe there is no activity that better exemplifies the American character and spirit. It is part of our DNA. But, how do the demonstrations in Ferguson and elsewhere measure against similar instances of collective community action? Read more »