On Making Things Better

It’s hard to fathom how the country went so wrong with yesterday’s election. I can’t say that things won’t be as bad as we fear. I’m afraid that they’ll be worse. So many, many people are going to suffer badly.

Our task is to figure out how to thrive given the circumstances.

One of mNkosi Johnson Sayingy favorite sayings is . . . “The best revenge is living well.”

That’s what I think we should do. Let’s not pretend that something horrible hasn’t happened. It has. But we should enjoy ourselves and our loved ones. We should work to create a better, happier world. We should work to increase well-being. What other people do certainly affects us, but they’re going to do what they’re going to do. And we can live well.

Which brings me to how we can do this. And, for that, I turn to Nkosi Johnson:

“Do all you can, with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are.”

That’s how we can make things better. Or, at least, that’s what I’m doing to increase well-being:

I’m going to do everything I can with what I have, in the time that I have, where I am.

Re-starting now.

Way more to come.

Why Aikido’Ka Won’t Be at this Year’s Fair or Why Elephant Rides and Respect Don’t Mix

African elephant photo

Elephants are not carnival rides. Image from Wikipedia.

An Open Letter to the Community,

My name is Frank Bloksberg. I have lived in Nevada City for about 18 years. I am a lawyer and run a martial arts school, in Grass Valley, called Aikido’Ka. At Aikido’Ka, we train in aikido – known as the “Art of Peace.” Aikido’Ka is different than other martial arts schools, because we are dedicated to peacefully resolving disputes and performing community service. For instance, we have raised over $13,000 and 6,000 pounds of food for the Food Bank.

Aikido’Ka has been open for 6 years. We’ve had a booth at every County Fair since we’ve been open. The County Fair is a huge outreach opportunity for us. We meet a lot of our future students there. Deciding not having a booth is a really big deal for us.

Aikido is based upon respect – respect for our fellow students, teachers, our training space. The respect inherent in aikido is a deep, profound respect. Without the support, trust and willingness of our fellow practitioners, we cannot practice the art and improve ourselves in the ways that aikido provides.

By design, the respect that we learn spreads to the rest of our lives. And for that reason, I have to seriously consider the respect/ethical implications of supporting a Fair that offers elephant rides to entertain children.

Elephants are intelligent, wild and very dangerous animals. The only way to help ensure that they are reasonably safe in unpredictable public situations is to use training techniques that are extremely powerful. We know that the training techniques involve some pain and fear.

Whether the training techniques are brutal or abusive doesn’t matter. One may be able to argue in good faith that abusing a creature is ethical for an incredibly important purpose. Or one may be able to argue in good faith that causing pain and fear in a creature is ethical for a really good reason. I might disagree with these arguments, but one may be able to make the arguments in good faith.

In my personal view, the value of entertaining children with an elephant ride is trivial, at best. In other words, what a child receives from riding an elephant is not worth putting the elephant through anything at all. It certainly cannot justify taking elephant babies from their mothers or putting elephants in fear or pain. It certainly cannot justify the risks involved in moving elephants around the country and placing them in unpredictable public situations where they can hurt people.

To me, the only ways to conclude that elephant rides are appropriate is to consider the rides of far greater value than I do or to completely disregard the elephants’ interests. Please do not think that I am placing the elephants’ interests over human interests. I am saying that we must consider the elephants’ interests to ethically decide what to do. And, here, where the value received from elephant rides is so small in comparison to the harms inherent in offering elephant rides, I cannot ethically support the rides.

Now that I have concluded that offering elephant rides at the Fair is unethical, should Aikido’Ka have a booth or perform aikido demonstrations at the Fair? If respect means anything, acting respectfully must include acting ethically.

If Aikido’Ka supports the Fair by participating and paying our fees, then we directly and indirectly support the presence of the elephant rides. We would support the rides directly because HTWT will not be paying the Fair anything at all. So we would, in part, be paying for HTWT’s presence. We would support the rides indirectly by letting the Board know that we will support their decisions even if those decisions are unethical.

We could have a booth and place a banner saying that we don’t support the elephant rides. We cannot do that, because that seems hypocritical to me. We’d be supporting HTWT’s presence, while trying to convince everyone that we didn’t.

For these reasons, and others, we won’t have a booth at this year’s Fair.

Each year at the Fair, we offer a “Fair Special.” The Special is always really good. Since we won’t be at the Fair this year, we’ll be offering a really good “Un-Fair Special.” Please watch for it. We’ll announce it soon.

How Safe is Your Child from Bullies?

Stop Bullies SignHow Safe is Your Child from Bullies?

I am absolutely thrilled to announce About Bullies – the Aikido’Ka Anti-Bullying program. About Bullies is about one thing only: Helping you keep your child safe from bullies. We’re going to make this program as great as possible. So, we’re beginning with a 4 question survey to make sure that we’re going to provide you with what you need.

When you complete the survey, you will be in the first group to know when our free program is available. You’ll also save 50% off of our first premium program.

We could really use your help, so please click here to go to the About Bullies website!

Frank Sensei

Hero’s Journey – One Year to a Heroic Life

Dr. Gideon Haimovitz at We Can Drive Through 2012

We’re starting a new program at the dojo that I’m calling Hero’s Journey. Since Hero’s Journey is at its beginning stages, it’s not fully put together.

But here’s basically what it is: Heroe’s Journey is an intensive 1-year long program to change your life for the better. We all know that we have the potential to live a heroic life and do amazing things. It’s time to start!

We have to decide to actually pursue our heroic dreams, organize and dedicate ourselves to living a heroic life. That’s what Hero’s Journey is. Goal setting, organizing, doing. And lots of accountability, aikido training, fitness and community service.

You’ll be seeing in our blog members of Hero’s Journey telling about their experiences, challenges and accomplishments.

Dr. Gideon Haimovitz is one of the first members of Hero’s Journey. He runs Grass Valley Chiropractic. Gideon’s very serious: He’s training in almost all of our classes, both aikido and kettlebells, and he’s helping with many of the youth classes. He’s also traveling to seminars to improve his aikido.

Gideon will be commenting to this post about some of his experiences so far and what he’s working to accomplish.

Testing is Thursday, October 25!

Our next rank demonstrations will be October 25 from 5:30 – 7:00 pm — during the regular Thursday night class time. We usually have our demonstrations on Saturday mornings, but with so much going on we didn’t want to delay. So earn your new rank next Thursday!

If you, or your child, will be testing on October 25, please be sure that you have fully completed the Intent to Promote form. The form is on our student website. The form has a place for the student’s teacher. So, please leave time to get that signature. If you are an Aikido’Ka member and have not registered for our site, please do. It has tons of important information and videos on it. If you’re not an Aikido’Ka member, sorry — the student website is private.

Also, to successfully perform a rank test, each student must complete his/her community service before testing. Participating in We Can Drive Through 2012 does count for community service.

If you are demonstrating for a stripe, then just show up and do your best. If you’re not sure what to do, or you haven’t been involved in testing before, then go for a stripe! Show up, do your best and have tons of fun.

Our classes and demonstrations are open to the public. If you’re not a member yet and you’d like to see what we’re up to, please drop by! Here’s a map to the dojo.

We Can Drive Through for the Food Bank

We Can Drive Through 2012 for the Food Bank

Helping the Hungry on Saturday, October 20
11:00 am – 6:00 pm

Photo of Food Bank Truck for Aikido'Ka food drive

Collecting Food at We Can Drive Through by Aikido’Ka

On Saturday, October 20, from 11 am – 6 pm (rain or shine), Aikido’Ka members will be at the corner of Broad & Union Streets for We Can Drive Through 2012. This will be the 5th Annual Aikido’Ka food drive for the Food Bank of Nevada County.

Drive Through is an amazingly easy and effective way for you to support the Food Bank and our community. Clean out your pantry and drop off your extra non-perishable food items at the corner of Broad and Union Streets in Nevada City. Just pull in on either side of the street, drop off your cash and/or food donation and drive away. We will be there rain or shine. It’s that easy!

I spoke with folks at the Food Bank on October 11. They emphasized how important this food drive is to them. In essence, by this time of year, the Food Bank is broke. They need to begin purchasing food for the big holiday season, but they really don’t have any money. They also have practically no food. Drive Through is their first significant boost going into the season. They said that Drive Through is critical to their success.

In early October 2007, we learned that the Food Bank was experiencing a tremendous increase in demand and had been running out of food. In fact, the Food Bank inventory was down to one case of cans. When the Food Bank runs out of food, children go hungry.

In emergency response, Aikido’Ka held We Can Drive Through. On October 27, 2007, at the bottom of Broad Street in Nevada City the community raised approximately $2,500 in cash and over 1,600 pounds of non-perishable food.

With We Can Drive Through, Aikido’Ka has raised approximately $11,000 and 5,750 pounds of food for the Food Bank!

The Food Bank does necessary work in our community and needs our support. The Food Bank provides food to senior citizens, single parents, working poor, families and homeless in our county. They are serving more families than ever before, on a budget made up of 80% donations.

Here is a partial list of the food items that the Food Bank needs (of course, this is not a complete list):

100% Fruit Juice
Canned Fruit
Dried Beans (any type)
Canned Tomato Products
Enriched Rice
Powdered Milk
Canned Fish and Meat
Enriched Pasta
Peanut Butter (plastic containers only)

Additional Child-friendly items:

100% Fruit Rolls
Raisins
Graham Crackers
Unsweetened Applesauce
Cheese and Crackers
Fruit Cups
Raisins
Pretzels
Trail Mix, Granola, Nuts
String Cheese
Dried Fruit

Please help us make this the most successful We Can Drive Through that we’ve had!

For pictures from previous Aikido’Ka food drives, click on the link:

Aikido’Ka food drives for the Food Bank of Nevada County.

If you have any questions, want to make donations or would like to volunteer, please contact Frank Bloksberg at (530) 273-2727.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Frank Sensei

Aikido Community Service in Nevada City/Grass Valley — Our Food Drive

As everyone probably know by know, Aikido’Ka held We Can Drive Through on October 8, 2011 in Nevada City. Here’s the tally for Satruday: $2,900 and 350 pounds of food.

That means in our 4 food drives, our Grass Valley martial arts school has raised $11,000 and 5,750 pounds of food for the Food Bank!

Click here for pictures of the food drive.

 

Helping the Hungry – Grass Valley/Nevada City Community Service

We held We Can Drive Through on Saturday, October 8. It was an amazing success. The day was absolutely gorgeous, happily sunny between rainy days.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated and donated.

The Food Bank hasn’t told me how much we raised yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I hear.

I have posted photos of our food drive in a few places. They are:

High resolution photos. You can have these professionally printed, if you’d like.

Community service photos here at the Aikido’Ka site.

Aikido’Ka Facebook gallery.

Please leave nice comments at the photos to show your appreciation for these folks efforts.

Helping the Hungry on Saturday, October 8

On Saturday, October 8, from 11 am – 6 pm (rain or shine), Aikido’Ka members will be at the corner of Broad & Union Streets, in Nevada City, for We Can Drive Through 2011. This will be the 4th Annual Aikido’Ka food drive for the Food Bank.

Drive Through is an amazingly easy and effective way for you to support the Food Bank and our community. Clean out your pantry and drop off your extra non-perishable food items at the corner of Broad and Union Streets in Nevada City. Just pull in on either side of the street, drop off your cash and/or food donation and drive away. We will be there rain or shine. It’s that easy!

Here is a partial list of the food items that the Food Bank needs (of course, this is not a complete list):

100% Fruit Juice
Canned Fruit
Dried Beans (any type)
Canned Tomato Products
Enriched Rice
Powdered Milk
Canned Fish and Meat
Enriched Pasta
Peanut Butter (plastic containers only)

Additional Child-friendly items:

100% Fruit Rolls
Raisins
Graham Crackers
Unsweetened Applesauce
Cheese and Crackers
Fruit Cups
Raisins
Pretzels
Trail Mix, Granola, Nuts
String Cheese
Dried Fruit

Please help us make this the most successful We Can Drive Through that we’ve had!

Please help us raise us many donations as possible by telling everyone you know about We Can Drive Through. Please invite all of your Facebook friends to the event. Here’s the link. Here’s the We Can . . . Drive Through link on the Aikido’Ka website.

If you have any questions, want to make donations or would like to volunteer, please contact Frank Bloksberg at (530) 273-2727.

Stuart’s Community Service

As you probably know by now, everyone at Aikido’Ka performs community service as part of their training.

Adult member Stuart is testing for his green belt this Saturday.  Here’s Stuart’s report on his community service:

For my community project, I volunteered with my son (also a member of Aikido’Ka) to work in his school’s garden. The Scotten School garden is still in its beginning stages. They have created a fenced section for planting and a greenhouse, and enlisted help to create planter boxes and to transport donated soil.

We arrived early on a Saturday morning and worked for a good two and a half hours shoveling, hauling and packing soil.

The wood for the planter boxes was donated by a local lumber yard, the soil donated from a student’s family, the tools from the teachers and the labor from all volunteers. It was truly a group effort.

Due to the rains this spring, the date for installing the sprinklers and drainage systems have not been set, but we have included our names for hopeful service.

Already the seeds that have been planted in the greenhouse have sprouted. It is truly wonderful to see the students getting excited and watering them by hand. Hopefully we can have them transplanted into the new planter boxes before the school term ends for summer.