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Gregory Taylor, from East Oakland Police Officer to Taiwan Post writer, publishes book of his (non-gullible) travels as an adventurous drifter

He has worked as a police officer, a military officer, and a jazz pianist.

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Tales of A Drifter Book Cover

Gregory K. Taylor was born in Berkeley, California and attended public schools in Oakland, California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies with a minor in Asian Studies and a BA degree in Chinese. He has worked as a police officer, a military officer, and a jazz pianist. He has written articles for a Bay Area newspaper, conducted podcast interviews, and traveled extensively where he is currently a Covid-19 refugee marooned in Taiwan. He has a pilot’s license and a previous yacht and ship broker’s license. His hobbies have included piloting aircraft, sailing sailboats, scuba diving, horseback riding, tickling the ivories, and now nonfiction writing.

Tales of a Drifter is available for $9.99 on Kindle:  https://www.amazon.com/Gregory-K.-Taylor/e/B097K97K4Z/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Activism

‘Birding While Black’ Incident in N.Y.’s Central Park Brings Black Bird Wildlife Enthusiasts Out of Shadows

“For far too long, Black people in the United States have been shown that outdoor exploration activities are not for us,” Corina Newsome, who studies Seaside Sparrows, said in a video posted on Twitter. “Whether it be the way the media chooses to present who is the ‘outdoorsy’ type, or the racism Black people experience when we do explore the outdoors, as we saw recently in Central Park. Well, we’ve decided to change that narrative.”

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The organizers of Black Birders Week 2021. Photos from top, column 1: Georgia Silvera Seamans; Kellie Quiñones; Chris Cooper. 2: Ronnie Almonte; Deja Perkins; Ela-Sita Carpenter; Chelsea Connor. 3: Danielle Belleny; Tyler Jones; Yesenia Arroyo. 4: Earyn McGee; Akilah Lewis; Dara Wilson; Brianna Amingwa. 5: Sheridan Alford; Joseph Saunders. 6: Ayanna Browne; Rhamier Shaka Balagoon; Nicole Jackson
The organizers of Black Birders Week 2021. Photos from top, column 1: Georgia Silvera Seamans; Kellie Quiñones; Chris Cooper. 2: Ronnie Almonte; Deja Perkins; Ela-Sita Carpenter; Chelsea Connor. 3: Danielle Belleny; Tyler Jones; Yesenia Arroyo. 4: Earyn McGee; Akilah Lewis; Dara Wilson; Brianna Amingwa. 5: Sheridan Alford; Joseph Saunders. 6: Ayanna Browne; Rhamier Shaka Balagoon; Nicole Jackson

By Tamara Shiloh

Birdwatching is the observation of live birds in their natural habitat.

It’s a popular pastime and scientific sport developed almost entirely in the 20th century and made possible largely by the development of optical aids, particularly binoculars, which enabled people to see and study wild birds, without harming them, according to Britannica.

Many typically think of birding as a homogenous hobby, thus hearing the word “birdwatcher” rarely evokes images of Blacks enjoying the outdoors.

“For far too long, Black people in the United States have been shown that outdoor exploration activities are not for us,” Corina Newsome, who studies Seaside Sparrows, said in a video posted on Twitter. “Whether it be the way the media chooses to present who is the ‘outdoorsy’ type, or the racism Black people experience when we do explore the outdoors, as we saw recently in Central Park. Well, we’ve decided to change that narrative.”

In 2020, Newsome, along with a group of Black birders comprised of scientists, nature lovers, and friends came together to organize the first annual Black Birders Week, a social media celebration hosted by the Black AF In STEM Collective.

The birders group served as a springboard to shape a more diverse future for birding, conservation, and the natural sciences.

The third annual Black Birders Week ran from May 29-June 4 this year, according to https://www.blackafinstem.com, with the theme ‘Soaring to Greater Heights.”

Goals set for the Black Birders Week and the Twitter group are to:

  • Counter the narrative that outdoors is not the place for Black people;
  • Educate the birding and broader outdoor-loving community about the challenges Black birders specifically face; and
  • Encourage increased diversity in birding and conservation.

According to Newsome, Black birders encounter “overt hatred and racism in the field and are too often the only Black person, or person of color, in a group of bird or nature enthusiasts.”

Its formation came on the heels of the May 25, 2020, incident in New York City’s Central Park when Amy Cooper, later dubbed “Central Park Karen,” claimed she exhausted “all options” before she called 911 on Christian Cooper (no relation), a Black birdwatcher.

Christian Cooper has been an avid birdwatcher since age 10 and will soon host his own show, “Extraordinary Birder,” on National Geographic, according to NPR. He will take viewers into the “wild, wonderful and unpredictable world of birds.”

Cooper told the New York Times that he loves “spreading the gospel of birding. [I’m looking forward to encouraging people] to stop and watch and listen and really start appreciating the absolutely spectacular creatures that we have among us.”

Black Birders Week co-organizer Earyn McGee conducts research near the US-Mexico border. Her concern is encountering U.S. Border Patrol officers while searching for lizards.

“We all have this shared experience where we have to worry about going into the field,” McGee said. “Prejudice might drive police or private property owners to be suspicious of or antagonistic toward Black scientists doing field work in normal clothes, putting them in danger.”

To learn more about the study of birding, read John C. Robinson’s “Birding for Everyone: Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers.”

Image: https://www.birds.cornell.edu/landtrust/black-birders-week/

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Black History

Jan Ernst Matzeliger’s Invention Revolutionized Shoe Manufacturing

A cordwainer is a shoemaker who makes new shoes from new leather. Lasting is the part of the process that sets the final shape of a shoe and holds it in place so the outsole can be permanently attached. Designing a machine to perform the lasting was thought to have been impossible. But Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852–1889), was determined to automate this task. And with persistence, he was successful. He revolutionized the industry of shoemaking with his lasting machine. It cut the cost of manufacturing shoes in half, thereby making shoes more affordable.

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Jan Ernst Matzeliger
Jan Ernst Matzeliger

By Tamara Shiloh

The craft of shoemaking was at one time difficult and manual work. But with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, cobblers and cordwainers cut, sewed, and tacked shoes with machines.

The inner and outer soles were attached with machines and other devices were used to sew uppers to lowers. The final part of the process though, remained manual: the lasting.

A cordwainer is a shoemaker who makes new shoes from new leather. Lasting is the part of the process that sets the final shape of a shoe and holds it in place so the outsole can be permanently attached.

Designing a machine to perform the lasting was thought to have been impossible. But Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852–1889), was determined to automate this task. And with persistence, he was successful. He revolutionized the industry of shoemaking with his lasting machine. It cut the cost of manufacturing shoes in half, thereby making shoes more affordable.

Little is known about Matzeliger’s early life. He was born on the northern coast of South America in Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana (now the Republic of Suriname). By age 10, he was apprenticed in the machine shops. He had an interest in machinery and mechanics, and at the same time, desired to see the world.

At 19, Matzeliger went to sea on an East Indian merchant ship. When reaching America, he decided to stay in Philadelphia. There he worked odd jobs, one being a shoemaker’s apprentice.

Being a Black man limited his professional options; he struggled to make a decent living. By 1876, he would relocate to Boston. After a brief stay, he settled in Lynn, Mass., where shoemaking was an established industry.

Matzeliger was soon hired at Harney Brothers’ shoe factory, where he operated a McKay sole-sewing machine and ran a heel-burnisher and a buttonhole machine. He wanted to learn more about the craft, so he studied the hand lasters as they worked.

A hand laster pulls and secures lining uppers over lasts (a mechanical form shaped like a human foot) to form leather shoes of designated size, then trims away the excess material with a knife.

At night, Matzeliger began to duplicate the movements of the lasters. He secretly made drawings as he experimented with various materials. Six months later, his employer offered $50 for the unfinished machine. Matzeliger rejected it.

Four years later, after reconstructing the machine using iron, Matzeliger was offered $1,500. Again, he rejected it and continued to improve his machine. After 10 years, people began to laugh at Matzeliger and his efforts, but he refused to be discouraged. Eventually, when the time became right, he sought investors and was able to finance a patent.

In 1883, Matzeliger received a patent for his lasting machine. The first public operation of the machine took place in 1885, when the machine broke a record by lasting 75 pairs of shoes. He later received several other patents for shoe-manufacturing machinery.

Unfortunately, in pursuing his work, Matzeliger sacrificed his health working long hours and not eating for long periods of time. He died of tuberculosis three weeks before his 37th birthday, never reaping the profit of his invention.

Encourage your tweens to read more in Barbara Mitchell’s “Shoes for Everyone: A Story about Jan Matzeliger.”

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Activism

Play Based on 1954 School Desegregation Opens in Sausalito on June 12 in Honor of Juneteenth

As the Sausalito Marin City School District was ordered to desegregate in 2019, Brown vs. the Board of Education continues to be meaningful as the nation struggles with the need to be an anti-racist society.

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Stock photo courtesy of 13.org.
Stock photo courtesy of 13.org.

The City of Sausalito commemorates Juneteenth with a production of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown v. Board of Education,” a play written and directed by Dr. Cindy Acker, Ed.D., on Sunday, June 12 at 4:30 p.m. at Dumphy Park in Sausalito.

The play is based on actual events in the fight to end school segregation and captured the real words in the court cases that culminated in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that brought an end to the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine and led to desegregating schools. Trial transcripts of the five cases that were brought together in front of the Supreme Court and from Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs were used for the play, according to Rhythmix Cultural Works.

As the Sausalito Marin City School District was ordered to desegregate in 2019, Brown vs. the Board of Education continues to be meaningful as the nation struggles with the need to be an anti-racist society.

“Our recent awareness of the pervasive discrimination and otherness still present in our nation is a reminder that the work for equity and social justice is still crucial, and that we must recognize our own ideologies and deep-seated beliefs, which motivate our thoughts and actions,” says www.rhythmix.org.

A published author, playwright, and speaker, Acker is an award-winning educator who lives and works in the City of Alameda. She founded The Child Unique and The Montessori Elementary Intermediate School of Alameda (MEISA) and has served as its principal for more than 30 years. She has also been involved in public policy, representing Montessori schools in California.

The play is sponsored by the City of Sausalito, Sausalito Marin City School District, Friends of Marin City Library, and the Friends of the Sausalito Library.

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