Homelessness in OKC: We Have Made Gains, But There is More To Do

Though Oklahoma City is known for its servant heart, our city faces surprising rates of chronic homelessness. The Homeless Alliance in Oklahoma City reported 1,300 homeless people in this year’s one-night census. While that is 1,300 too many, the number is an improvement.

The number of homeless people in Oklahoma City decreased by nearly 12 percent compared to 2014. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the number of homeless in our state decreased by nearly five percent from 2013 to 2014. By working together, Oklahomans are making a real difference.

One nonprofit organization helping our city realize positive gains in the fight against homelessness is City Care. This organization is dedicated to providing the homeless with transitional housing while helping them build the skills they need to get back on their feet. City Care, which would not be possible without the support of the public, also offers therapy services to residents and tutoring to inner-city children.

While there may be no single cause of homelessness, nearly one-fourth of homeless people have severe mental illnesses. Consequently, City Care has a therapist on staff at all times for its residents.

In addition to mental illness, 36 percent of Oklahoma City’s homeless struggle with substance abuse. As a result, City Care provides classes for those with drug and alcohol addictions while also requiring residents to stay clean.

City Care also aims to fight homelessness among children in at-risk communities. According to Homeless Children America, Oklahoma is 31st in child homelessness. The mission of City Care’s Whiz Kids program is to improve the well-being of inner-city children through academic tutoring and mentoring relationships. Whiz Kids is proactive and preventative in nature, targeting children reading below grade level.

While some may say the positive gains we have seen justify resting on our laurels, that simply is not true. The Homeless Alliance of Oklahoma City estimates that a community’s annual number of homeless is four to five times its one-night census. That means 5,200 to 6,500 people are homeless in Oklahoma City right now. Our city needs us to continue working together. One way the public can help City Care is through our annual ZeroK OKC Food and Music Festival. This year’s family friendly event begins at 5 p.m. on Oct. 17 at Crystal Lake near I-40 and MacArthur Avenue. It is a fun way for Oklahomans to sustain the positive progress we have made in the fight against homelessness.

Oklahomans can realize ambitious goals when we come together. We united and persevered after the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. Similarly, citizens have helped pick up the pieces with those whose homes were destroyed by tornadoes in the last two decades. I urge all of us to continue that same spirit in the fight against homelessness. We have realized great gains in the last few years. Let’s maintain that same pace and achieve an even greater future for our city.

Read Window: Loathing Women and Matrimony

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Rear Window (1954) is a sensationally written, well performed, and overall successful Alfred Hitchcock film. The unforgettable thriller reveals Jeff as an obsessive Peeping Tom who suspects his neighbor has murdered his wife. With the help of his girlfriend Lisa, he is able to invade the murderer’s private life and reveal enough evidence to prove him to be guilty. Seen from a different perspective, the mysterious Hitchcock thriller clearly underestimates the role of women as equally competent as men in the 1950’s. The women in Rear Window are nags rather than wives and regularly viewed from the male perspective in which their main purpose is to be appealing, less intelligent, or submissive to Jeff and simultaneously to the audience.

The majority of women tend to belittle their husbands, thus resulting in undesirable marriage. The first glimpse at an unhappy marriage is the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Lars Thorwald. Mr. Thorwald arrives home from work greeted by his bedridden wife. Though we cannot distinguish exactly what the troubled couple is discussing, we cannot deny the non-verbal body language between them. Mr. Thorwald is tense and even throws his hands in the air in despair just moments after greeting his wife. Meanwhile, Mrs. Thorwald is pointing and laughing at her husband that is overwhelmed in his frustrations. Her hostility and discernable disrespect towards her mate contributes to Jeff’s perception of marriage. Jeff fears matrimony, even if it is to the high-class fashion model Lisa Freemont. The Thorwald relationship is obviously violent. When examining another window, we see a preview of a typical newlywed couple emerging into a new home gleaming with excitement. As time goes on, the audience views from Jeff’s point of view as the delight of the newlyweds begins to dwindle, or as Toles puts it: “His now endlessly available wife clamoring in the background for the marital fulfillment the he owes her, has already been transformed into a second meaningless job”(231). This examination of the infancy of this marriage compares the grooms’ marriage to his bride to a job without benefits. Toles goes on to say, “The pleasurable image advertised during courtship becomes a standardized product whose mystique has evaporated”(231). The couple represents everything Jeff fears in furthering his commitment with Lisa. Toles evaluates the way the husband gazes out the window. He explains: “The husband’s periodic escapes to the apartment window are like a factory worker’s cigarette break: a harried ‘coming up for air’”(231). As we watch through Jeff’s eyes, we realize exactly why he has pessimistic presumptions about marriage. Despite the fact that it adds to the dramatic effect to the thriller, Hitchcock fails to show any positive aspects of the marriage relationship.

One of the opening scenes of Rear Window reveals young and vibrant sunbathers on the roof of the apartments and sets the motif of looking at women as objects. The girls carelessly strip their clothes off and toss them over the railing. Although this suggestive act is censored, perhaps the viewer assumes the sunbathers are completely naked. As George E. Toles states, “Feminist critics have referred to the appropriation of the female form for fantasy dispersals of our sense of human wholeness as the movement of ‘being’ to ‘being looked at’” (231). The sole purpose of the sunbathers is to be a pleasant view for Jeff, the overhead helicopter, and others who noticed them. One could argue that the careless shedding of clothes was not an act of seduction. The girls may have not been aware that they were involved in Jeff’s newfound hobby of voyeurism. Notice that even though the girls may have inadvertently done an innocent act, it still represents girls as oblivious, careless, and irresponsible. The scholar analyzes further: “The females

. . .are designated and chiefly differentiated by their capacity to hold – or repel- the male gaze” (231). The only distinguishable characteristic between many women in the film is the way men respond to their appearance. The women are fascinating to watch, whether they perform sultry dances or make a dinner for the date that will never arrive. The sunbathers and Miss Torso obviously captivated the male gaze by attraction, and Miss Lonelyhearts held the gaze with her peculiar ways of coping with her desire for a relationship. Furthermore, in another window, Miss Torso, as Jeff nicknamed her, is performing a sensual dance around the apartment. One scholar examines: “the fact that she is most often seen from behind, wiggling her bottom, confirms her identification with the darker, sensual side of Jeff’s desires” (Gordon 62). It is interesting to recognize the way she dances with her face away from the camera. By rarely revealing her face, Jeff loses the connection of seeing her as a person and views her as more of a fantasy. Jeff could more easily identify Miss Torso by her ballerina bottom than her face. Additionally, Toles reveals, “the principal function of her dance is to make herself into a creature of fantasy for Jeff” (232). As a professional dancer, Miss Torso may have been dancing to improve her ability. However, she was fulfilling Jeff’s needs of voyeurism and in return playing the role of the spectacle. This role of a woman as a spectacle is commonly reinforced throughout the film by constantly returning to Miss Torso’s window. Hitchcock presents an inaccurate representation of the women of Rear Window, in which their only shallow motive is to seek visual attention from male companionship

In addition to fantasy, Miss Torso and Lisa are exposed as less intelligent than the males in the film. Miss Torso is an obvious example of women of lesser intelligence. She dances absent-mindedly around her apartment as if she has no sense of logic. Jeff describes her as the “eat, drink, and be merry type.” Additionally, Jeff constantly questions Lisa’s logic. For example, moments after Lisa has graciously greeted Jeff, he begins to ask about her day. She enlightens him by sharing the minor details and Jeff seems to mock her as he presents questions such as, “Now tell me, what was Mrs. Hayward wearing?” in a sarcastic tone. Deeper into the discussion, an argument about the future of the relationship blossoms. As Lisa attempts to offer solutions, Jeff uses harsh responses by telling her to “shut up” and stop talking “nonsense.” John Fawell explains: “Jeff assumes that the urbane, glamorous Lisa Freemont does not have the moral fortitude or seriousness to share his life as a Robert Capa-like traveling photographer” (89). Jeff cannot treat Lisa as an equal because he assumes she could never understand his desires. He does not take her seriously because she dresses unsuitably in his eyes and holds an unrealistic expectation for the potential of their relationship. The conclusion Jeff has made about women is that no matter how perfect the woman may appear, she will not be suitable for him because the nature of women is not capable of handling the seriousness that is instilled in a career-oriented man. The sunbathers, Miss Torso, and Lisa all contribute to Jeff’s assumption of women as less intelligent.

Despite Lisa’s success, Hitchcock represents her as inadequate without a man. She has money, intelligence, breathtaking charm, and flawless beauty. On the other hand, she allows Jeff to hold her back. After Lisa and Jeff have a fierce quarrel about the future of their relationship, Jeff tells her, “It’s not you Lisa. You’ve got the world at your feet.” She desolately mumbles, “Not quite, it seems.” Jeff unsuccessfully tries to remind her of her socialite lifestyle to ease the tension. As Ruth Perlmutter points out: “The perfect girl, she is brought to life by Jeff’s refusal to notice her” (57). The money and the fame mean little to her because she cannot share her happiness with Jeff. She tells Jeff before she leaves, “I don’t care what you do, I’m in love with you.” Lisa is not concerned with the fame and fortune that she is wrapped up in. She needs Jeff to feel satisfied.

Miss Lonelyhearts and her neighborly artist are more obvious example of inadequate women. Miss Lonelyhearts acts out a fantasy of having the company of a male dinner guest. The sad representation of women shows that the missing man in her life will lead to depression and strange behavior. One scholar examines the work of the female sculptor in the film. Toles remarkably analyzes the art that the woman sculpts. He points out, “It is a spherical sculpture, with a hollow center, entitled (no doubt, jokingly) ‘Hunger.’ . . . Her sculpture reveals a preoccupation with signs of gender conceived as an emptiness rather than a fullness. Implicitly, it is the function of the unattainable male partner to fill the hole that has never been filled” (230). This subtle unidentified neighbor woman contributes to painting a picture of incompetent women. Women in Rear Window reveal a helpless nature without a patriarchal presence.

The female characters of the film display an overwhelming search for man’s approval because man’s acceptance is more important than female self-respect. Lisa goes to the extreme measure of staying the night with Jeff. Perlmutter describes, “Lisa brings an overnight bag to Jeff’s apartment and in showing its contents she executes a routine characteristic of strippers and beauty contestants. It is an overt seduction scene in which she shows her wares to the voyeur. . .” (57). The overnight bag shocked Jeff and likely shocked the traditional moviegoer. Although the petite bag is under the guise of staking out the killer, it suggests that Lisa is willing to compromise her virtue for the attention of the desired photographer. Lisa is flirting with sin to catch Jeff’s eye. Not only is she willing to expose herself to Jeff, but also put herself in danger to solve the Thorwald crime to appeal to him. Toles considers her overnight stay along with her fortitude in crime solving: “The goal of both of these emblems is to hold Jefferies’ gaze in thrall . . .”(232). Perhaps Lisa took the role of the hero to impress Jeff. She certainly won him over by taking risks that she normally would not have taken. She even dares to take fashion risks. The last scene of the film shows Lisa in her new wardrobe. She has ditched the ball gown and replaced it with more masculine, but nevertheless fashionable, attire. One scholar comments on her wardrobe change: “This tableau suggests that Jeff’s priorities have trumped hers, and that the negotiation of their relationship has proceeded on his terms” (Howe 32). Lisa’s submission causes her to compromise her character. Even though Jefferies is confined to a chair, he still manages to attain dominance over Lisa. Lisa shows a continuous struggle to impress him despite the expense.

The characters in Rear Window establish a negative position on marriage along with an outlook that women are the lesser competent sex by repeatedly making them appear less intelligent and submissive, however maintaining erotic appeal. Hitchcock portrays marriage as dreadful because of the nagging wife. The sunbathers and Miss Torso suggest women as objects of lesser intellect that are pleasing to the eye. Lisa Freemont, the artistic neighbor woman, and Miss Lonely-hearts seem empty without male companionship. The women of the film also desperately pursue male approval. In conclusion, women are underestimated in various ways in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Perhaps Jeff’s espionage opened a door, or window, to the way women are portrayed in the viewers perspective

Sources

Fawell, John. “Torturing Women and Mocking Men: Hitchcock’s Rear Window.” Midwest Quarterly: A Journal of Contemporary Thought 44.1 (2002): 88-   104. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.

Gordon, Paul. Dial “m” for Mother: A Freudian Hitchcock. Madison, N.J: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2008. Print.

Howe, Lawrence. “Through the Looking Glass: Reflexivity, Reciprocality, and   Defenestration in Hitchcock’s Rear Window.” College Literature 35.1 (2008): 16-37. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.

Perlmutter, Ruth. “Rear Window: A Construction-Story.” Journal of Film and Video 37.2 (1985): 53-65. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.

Rear Window. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Paramount, 1954. Film.

Toles, George E. “Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window as Critical Allegory.” Boundary 2:    An International Journal of Literature and Culture 16.2-3 (1989): 225-245. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.

The ASPCA’s Watered Down System

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Insiders with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals accused the organization of misusing funds last week.

IRS documents conflict with the ASPCA mission to provide efficient care to animals in the United States. ASPCA employees have made misleading claims about the way revenue is being distributed.

Investigators analyzed the ASPCA’s tax forms and financial statements for 2013 and contacted their corporate office to discuss an employees understanding of the way donations are spent. The representative falsely illustrated expenditures.

“Eighty percent of that donation will go for the animal,” the employee said. “Twenty percent of it will go to administrative costs.”

According to the 2013 ASPCA 990 form, about 10 percent of the revenue is allocated for grants, assistance to the government, organizations and individuals outside of the United States. This directly violates the ASPCA mission statement that states: “To provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

Additionally, nearly 40 percent of the revenue goes toward salaries, other compensations and employee benefits. None of the income goes towards supporters, as there are no benefits for members of the ASPCA.

This leaves 50 percent of the remaining revenue in the “other” category. Donors need to know where this “other revenue” is being spent. There should be confidence in knowing the money will go towards helping the mistreated Labrador with his ribs showing, and not necessarily for unwarranted expenditures.

The largest outlay for this miscellaneous category is fundraising. The organization spends $33.5 million on professional fundraising fees, which is nearly 20 percent of total revenue.

Additionally, 15 percent of the “other” revenue is spent on services such as accounting, investment management fees or legal fees. Only six percent of this category is spent on veterinary and medical services, while 19 percent is used for operating supplies. When compared to the total budget, that’s less than three percent of revenue going towards veterinary services and nine percent for operating costs.

According to feldentertainment.com, a run-in with the “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations” (RICO) revealed crimes the ASPCA committed in 2012 that subtracted a pretty penny from the budget. This instance may also be included in the “other” category of spending.

The case tells how the ASPCA paid Tom Rider, a former Ringling Bros. Circus employee, to claim he witnessed abuse toward their elephants. It was not until 12 years after the case when investigators discovered the ASPCA was soliciting money to Rider who never witnessed such abuse. This lawsuit cost them $9.3 million.

The ASPCA claims to spend 80 percent of revenue on the animal, but it doesn’t reflect in their federal tax form. They could claim the services, though not going directly to saving animals, are helping raise awareness and solving long-term cruelty problems.

For every dollar donated to the ASPCA, 39 cents of it is for employees, 35 cents is used for service fees, 20 cents is used for professional fundraising and only 3 cents is used for veterinary and medical services.

In comparison, the Animal Rescue Foundation in Bartlesville, Oklahoma spends none of their revenue on grants, salaries or fundraising according to their 2013 IRS form. Fifty-eight percent of each donation goes directly to the animal in this non-profit organization.

In contrast to the ASPCA, a breakdown of a $1 donation to the Animal Rescue Foundation reveals 42 cents is contributed to their veterinary care and animal supplies, while 36 cents is used to provide shelter for each animal. Only one cent is used for advertising, and the remaining 21 cents is used for insurance, depreciation and office expenses.

The exact percentage of the ASPCA’s money spent on helping animals is unclear and up for debate. However, lawsuits, uninformed employees and administrative salaries all suggest the ASPCA is not exactly altruistic in their mission to help animals.

A more sophisticated database would include a budget of spending on food, number of rescued animals in each operating facility and care distribution costs to compare how many animals they have helped per dollar. It would also include the amount of revenue brought in from fundraising to justify lavish spending.

Regardless of the actual dollar amount that goes directly to the animal, the leading budget percentages still raise suspicion about the distribution of revenue.

The good work the ASPCA does for animals should not be overlooked, but donors should be aware of the pocketbooks they are filling with the money they intended to save animals.

I’ll Have The Dirty Chai

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       Aspen Coffee Company stands out in the brouhaha of the city. The entire building is aligned in pane glass windows allowing you to see the chaos of the city, but remain in the serene atmosphere with smells of hazelnut and espresso. On a normal afternoon I will fidget with anxiety in the Edmond traffic and count the things on my to do list. However, on this afternoon, there would be no neurotic pessimism. My order of choice, recommended by the happy-go-lucky barista, was a “dirty chai” latte and a warmed cinnamon scone. As I sat at the bar overlooking the unbroken stream of vehicles and commerce, I realized someone has likely been in this exact seat and noticed my apprehension as I impatiently waited for the light to turn green. From the driver’s seat, the traffic and obligations seem unending. From the bar stool, those stressors seem petty. It is no coincidence that Aspen coffee is placed in the heart of Edmond. It is too easy to get lost in the headaches of work, school, and relationships. It is better to sit back and appreciate the moment while watching the traffic go by than to consider it a waste of time and fuel. Click here to read about more ways to enjoy the traffic. Aspen may not be able to be reality of every day life, but it sure is a nice refresher. Don’t just go with the usual. Step out of the monotony. Drink Aspen coffee.

Premium Roast and Serenity

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When I paint the perfect picture in my mind of my happy place, it resembles a coffee shop atmosphere. This does not include the corporate suppliers that thwart artists’ hope of enjoying a cup of coffee in an authentic environment. If I really wanted to sip my indulgence without acknowledging any tasteful surroundings, I would buy coffee at McDonalds. It would be a mistake for suppliers to think that the consumer pays that price for coffee just because of the taste. The only way to get anyone, especially college students, to open their wallets is to make them feel special. This must be done through careful design, an eye for discernment, and a genuine desire to provide a place for creativity and brainstorming. The Credo House is an undeniable archeological success in providing the ideal scholarly haven. The library is brilliantly stacked with theology and apologetics. The mood is warm. The coffee is just the right roast. The Credo House is somewhere to get lost in inspiration. It’s a place where writers will write, readers will read and students will learn. Pairing learning with the relaxing atmosphere reinforces the behavior. I believe that the perfect coffee house can stimulate not only the nervous system through caffeine, but also the mind through aesthetics. After all, a coffee lover is really just someone who knows they must do work, so they might as well enjoy the labor. Places like the Credo House disguise hard work as an opportunity to sit back and discover how to enjoy learning.

Oh! That’s What’s Missing!

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Perk Place Café is a new age type of classy. The modern atmosphere would be a great place to have a quick lunch with a colleague or meet for informal interviews. The employees do their job with a debonair attitude about them. The appealing coffee shop is kid friendly and inexpensive. This is a great atmosphere for families and friends to socialize. This may not be the preferred seclusion for the college student looking to acquire free Wi-Fi while sipping on a warm latte and listening to Norah Jones’ soft, calming voice in the background. Restaurants are for coming hungry and leaving full. Coffee shops are for relaxing, reflecting, and often revitalizing. Perk Place feels more like a restaurant. There is no art to admire, and there are no bookshelves to browse. Call me a coffee snob, but I prefer a more quaint and calming area to study. If I am unable to hear the background music, I will not be able to focus on the book I am treating myself to. Music in the background is one of the most important components of a coffee shop. Perk Place would make my list of excellent coffee, however as a college student, it will not be a favorite coffee shop.

The Starbucks Cup is Half Empty

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College students need coffee. We need coffee in the morning to get us through 8 a.m. lectures, we need it to get us through three-hour labs, and we also need it to stimulate our bodies in an arguably unhealthy amount the night before a mid-term. With that in mind, I was ecstatic to see a Starbucks within walking distance of my University. My happiness was instantly aborted when I went to have a midnight study session and noticed that the Starbucks closes at 9 p.m. It is a deceitful tease to have such natural energy restoratives so close and unavailable for purchase. As a local coffee lover, this misfortune perked my interest. I know there is something about a cup of Joe and a secluded coffee shop that inspires studying. Starbucks is often too crowded or too loud. If I can find the perfect coffee shop, I can only imagine the amount of homework I will be able accomplish. Coffee shops should beam with pleasant, bona fide luxury. I do appreciate the proximity and customer service; however, the inconvenient hours, crowded placement and universalized atmosphere exclude this particular chain of coffee shops from my favorites list. Other writers agree that Starbucks is overcome with corporate imitations. Starbucks will not make my list of ideal coffee shops.