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October, 2007: Taking Time Out

            What a busy month October is!  We need to take time to have time!
            We’re finally really in autumn and the days and nights grow colder.  Leaves turn wondrous colors and fall to earth.  Pumpkins are on your stoop or in your window.  It’s just harvest time.  But we need moments to savor, don’t we?  How do we ensure those?
            Let’s talk about how to recognize our good fortune - first, in terms of harvests, even with the current wheat shortage.  This year on October 16, 2007, we celebrate World Food Day.  Log onto the day’s website - - to see what you can do to ensure all of us on this bountiful planet are well fed and not just those who can afford it.  With global warming, we must look beyond our own lifespan to protect the next generations.
            Now that everyone is back at school, including collegiates, October 21-27 is National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week.  Let’s ensure our young adults drink responsibly if they are of age to do so and that they celebrate good fortune by savoring food and drink together.
            While we are this busy, how about “Take Back Your Time Day”?  October 24th is the date – a Wednesday – and we can stop to smell the autumn air!  Log onto either or to see what you can do to keep the “time famine” away from you and your loved ones!  Here’s an example of what the website found – Aussies get 4 paid weeks of annual leave GUARANTEED; Europeans get between 4-5 weeks; even the Japanese take 2 full weeks annually.  This is about challenging time poverty:

  • Millions of Americans are overworked, over-scheduled and just plain stressed out.
  • We're putting in longer hours on the job now than we did in the 1950s, despite promises of a coming age of leisure before the year 2000;
  • In fact, we're working more than medieval peasants did, and more than the citizens of any other industrial country;
  • Mandatory overtime is at near record levels, in spite of a recession;
  • On average, we work nearly nine full weeks (350 hours) LONGER per year than our peers in Western Europe do; and
  • Working Americans average a little over two weeks of vacation per year, while Europeans average five to six weeks. Many of us (including 37% of women earning less than $40,000 per year) get no paid vacation at all.

Those of us at SUNY Downstate or working in public service usually get some minimum time off based on union contracts.  But you may have a spouse, significant other, family member or close friend who does not have this in their workplace.
            Finally, the entire month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and National Crime Prevention Month.  We know we care about one another.  But sometimes, in urban settings, it is hard to take a risk.  If you know someone is being abused, help them.  Direct them to resources  ( is just one website) either national or local.  And do report criminal behavior to the authorities.
            Which brings us to October 27th – MAKE A DIFFERENCE DAY!   This is all about “the neighborhood” – and you might qualify, depending upon your idea, for a grant to help you effect your idea.  Check out the information at  - (there’s a cool ‘idea generator’ link that helps you decide what would be a great way to help your neighbors) - and choose your way to make someone else’s day this fall!  Take time to savor October!