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Health Beat: Find Your Bliss With Community Acupuncture


Updated Dec. 2. 2012 at 6:15 a.m.

By Ann-Marie Mesquita, Staff Writer

WINDSOR —  The two-inch needles are thin like spider legs sticking out of human skin, seemingly harmless.

But many acupuncturists consider them potent remedy for stress and other ailments that disrupt the body’s balance and well-being. As the holiday approaches, those acupuncture needles may be one way to boost immunity and calm nerves–so you can get on with gift-buying, or party-planning.

To attain mental bliss during the holiday season, you can find low-cost and high-quality havens right here in Greater Hartford.

Many Rivers Community Acupuncture in Windsor is a 20-minute drive from Hartford worth your time. If only to lay comfortable on a reclining leather chair, while listening to the sound of the ocean’s backwash along a sea shore, albeit through a speaker box.

Founded by Carrie Sawtell, Many Rivers offers treatment sessions for a sliding scale fee of $15 to $35.  For anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours, you can sit with needles at various pressure points to de-stress.

You pay what you can afford. Sawtell doesn’t ask for income verification. But there’s a $10 paperwork fee for new clients to go over your health history and a treatment plan. Many Rivers will offer an open house on Nov. 30 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Acupuncture involves using needles to ease pain by stimulating the body.

It has been practiced in China for over 3,000 years. When this ancient Chinese tradition moved to the Western hemisphere, acupuncturists offered one-on-one sessions in private rooms. One session costs up to $100. That’s because you are paying for the acupuncturist’s time. Within this nation-wide network of community acupuncture centers, it’s high volume for low cost. So you may be in a room with up to four people. And you can stay as long as you want until you feel better,  Sawtell said.

Sawtell, who discovered acupuncture in college when she had digestive problems, said she couldn’t afford private sessions. Then she purchased a book and used the  methods described to apply pressure to certain areas of the body to treat specific ailments. Since then, she has been hooked on the tradition.

She also lived in China for three years and studied the craft. When she returned to the United States, she moved from her home state of Massachusetts to open her practice with her husband in Windsor. Many Rivers is part of the community acupuncture movement with a mission to help make health care affordable and accessible in the United States.

Sawtell was keen on having an affordable practice to attract friends, family, other struggling college students and those with limited discretionary income. So patients who don’t mind the company of up to four strangers can find, if not anything else, a moment away from home or work to relax without the distraction of children, husband, wife or other factors that hamper concentrated moments of peace.  In the winter time, it is an alternative to a walk in the park.

So the cost is relatively low and it reduces stress. But can one session cure other ailments? No. Like any treatment, you need a series, which varies and is based on the ailment. According to Sawtell, acupuncture can treat many ailments: colds, flus, infertility, menstrual cramps, inflammation, headaches, among other things. But it cannot treat cancer. It can, however, help with the side effects of radiation and other cancer treatments. Acupuncture can also be effective for all kinds of pain, including back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain, and heel pain.

From a western medical perspective, the practice of acupuncture is changing the way the body perceives pain.  A recent study showed that acupuncture reduces levels of a specific protein that is elevated when a person is stressed, Sawtell said. Acupuncture may also release endorphins that decrease pain. In addition, it helps to reduce inflammation and open up the flow of qi (pronounced chee) to let your body heal itself.

So … heal thyself.

Throughout the months of December and January, The Hartford Guardian will introduce you to low-cost remedies for a better well being and mental health in the Greater Hartford region. This is the first of a series on low-cost treatments for Mental Health and Well Being. 

Also check out this daylong workshop of experts with resources and practices that demonstrate how to be more productive and healthy in our lives. Topics covered include calming your mind, using yoga techniques for stress reduction and mindfulness training. The event will be at Kabbalah House at  1023 Albany Ave.  from noon to 5 p.m. It is free and open at the public. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a blanket for floor work.

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Chris Murphy v Linda McMahon


On January 2, 2012,  I was driving to my office in Downtown Milford with my husband when we saw Congressman Chris Murphy walking along Broad Street with his small son Owen. Concerned that they were alone and perhaps even lost, we pulled over to offer help.

“Owen likes trains,” Chris explained, “So every once in a while we take a train to a new town, get out and take a walk, and have some lunch together.”

I was struck by this encounter because here was a very busy Congressman, in a campaign for US Senate, commuting weekly between Washington, DC and Cheshire, CT, taking the time to be with his son. He had a new baby at home and felt it was important to be alone with the older child, and he knew that a (then) 3 and a half year old “likes trains”.

And Linda McMahon? Yes I saw her briefly walk the same sidewalk at the Oyster Fest. Last time I saw her she came to have a rally on City Hall steps and had her handlers indiscriminately cut the limbs off our trees in Doughboy Park to enhance the media’s camera angles.

I know who I am voting for on Nov. 6th.

Tessa Marquis, Milford

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“The Hidden Truth” in the Hartford Classrooms


By Danielle Roberts, Op-Ed

It is no secret that teachers in an urban environment, like Hartford, face challenges.

These challenges come in the form of low test scores, environmental issues, stubborn students and apathetic parents.  But, what exactly, is at the root of these challenges?

Many are quick to blame teachers for not doing a “good enough” job, while others are quick to blame parents, for not being on the same page as teachers and fully supporting education.  But very few people point the finger at the students themselves.  And as a substitute teacher in the Hartford school system, I think it’s only fitting that in a discussion on urban education, one must first look at the students.  What type of mindset do the majority of these students have?  How do they feel about education?  Do they come to school ready and willing to learn?

The answers to these questions, as it applies to the majority of Hartford students, are a big, resounding “NO”.  I am in no way generalizing all Hartford students, but focusing on the ones who do not revere education and exude it in their dispositions.  If a student comes to school with an intense hatred towards learning, a hostile attitude, accompanied with a willingness to be disrespectful to school administration…where does that leave the teachers, both permanent and substitute alike?

It is grossly unfair to blame teachers for underperforming students when the students have made it up in their minds that they don’t want to perform in the first place.  The job of the teacher is simply to educate.  It is not to transform the mindset of students, but work on instilling knowledge in the minds of students.

So if it’s not the job of the teachers to transform the mindset of students who have a negative mentality towards education, whose job is it?  It is the job of the parents to make sure that their children enter school with the ‘right’ mindset; one that is focused on education, ambition and ultimately setting and achieving some professional goals.  Now that we have defined the roles of teacher and parents, it’s time to define the roles of the students.

It is the job of the students to have internal motivation and ambition so that they will want to make the most of their educational experience…and so they will want to do more for themselves, not just in school; but in life as well.  This internal drive should develop naturally in a child, but it should also be honed on a continuous basis by their parents and their families of origin.  Because after all, if a child is naturally passionate about school and excited about their future–but they are living in an environment where school is downplayed and education is not revered–it should only be expected that this child will begin to lose their passion and excitement towards school.  They will begin to take on the persona of the parents (who are very influential in the minds of the kids), regardless of how they initially felt.  I have experienced this firsthand.

As a substitute teacher, I often found myself trying to motivate students to complete assignments left by the classroom teacher, only to be shocked by their retorts.  “Miss, when am I going to need this stuff in real life?” and “I don’t want to be here, and my mom said that if I get bored to just call her, and she’ll come get me…so can I call her?”  This is why parents and their kids must work together; it must be a continuous, joint effort so that students enter school with a positive mindset, thus making the job of educators much easier.

If parents and students took control of the parts that they play in shaping a student’s mindset towards education, teachers would have a slightly easier job, with less unreasonable expectations placed on them.  And that’s the hidden truth.

Danielle Roberts is a substitute teacher in Hartford Public Schools and an intern with The Hartford Guardian.

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Condo Bill Passes Connecticut Legislature


By  Ann Diamond, Commentary

HARTFORD — On the last day of Connecticut’s 2011 legislative session, condo and common interest owners received another nod of support in the form of the passage of HB 6234: An Act Concerning Elections of the Executive Boards of Directors of Condominium Unit Owners’ Associations and Changes to the Common Interest Ownership Act.

The bill represents a composite of previous bills, introduced to address the many complaints legislators have received from constituents over the management and governance of Connecticut condos.

Throughout the year the Connecticut Condo Owners Coalition (CCOC), a newly formed organization of volunteer members whose mandate is to work to protect the rights of condo owners and the health of their financial investments, has provided testimony before committees and to legislators through its membership’s personal accounts of horror stories, designed to demonstrate the need for new legislation that would ensure the enforcement of the current condo laws.

This effort to give condo owners the assistance they need was, also, initially led by Attorney General Blumenthal several years ago; and this year, Attorney General Jepsen agreed with his predecessor by re-submitting the proposal to establish within the Department of Consumer Protection an Office of Ombudsman, where condo owners could go for help in resolving conflicts with their association boards and management companies.

During this legislative session Rep. Jack Hennessy (D-Bridgeport), Rep. James Albis (D-East Haven) and Rep. Robert Megna (D-New Haven) worked to craft legislation that would provide some support and relief for condo owners.

Their efforts were met with great resistance by lobbyists of a nationally-connected organization that represents the interests of management companies and attorneys who litigate against condo owners on behalf of their associations.

Some of these attorneys were even members of the Judiciary Committee who succeeded in shooting down the efforts to establish an Office of Ombudsman.

When an attempt was made to follow the examples of Nevada and Maryland and to at least provide for mandatory arbitration of disputes, they blocked even this effort by saying that it isn’t possible to require associations to engage in arbitration.

In the end, they agreed to provide owners with a mechanism for gaining a hearing before their condo boards “before bringing an action or instituting a proceeding against an unit owner….”

While this is a long way from providing the kind of help with enforcement that is needed, it is an acknowledgment that boards have, in too many cases, acted unilaterally and without providing members with even an opportunity to engage in any discussions or attempts to resolve these disputes.

Connecticut is reported to have approximately 250,000 condo units.

This not only represents a tremendously important lifestyle choice–often made by the elderly, but the problems found within those communities have great and long-term implications not only for the individual owners, but also for their communities and for the cities and towns in which they exist.

Currently, the property values of condos vary and many have plummeted, not only as a result of the economy, but also as a result of poor management. More and more owners are leaving and are renting out their properties, which has had a negative impact on the up-keep and climate of those communities.

While attorneys and management companies have prospered at the expense of individual owners and condo communities, they appear to be unconcerned about the long-term ramifications of continual discontent and unresolved conflict.

The pressure of the economic problems facing Connecticut was, also, effectively manipulated by opponents to an Office of Ombudsman in their favor. Funding for this office would have come from a $4/unit/year fee much as has been done in other states and is done in Connecticut to protect consumers who hire contractors for home improvements or clients who use health clubs.

Even this nominal fee was held to be too great a cost, while all the time legislators and lobbyists continued to claim that any disputes between owners and their associations and/or management companies should be funneled through the State court system–a system already over-burdened by pending litigation and a system that is many times more costly to the taxpayers to run than an Office of Ombudsman could ever be….

The CCOC will continue to work with legislators to find ways to protect condo owners and their property. It is critical that owners with problems contact their legislators to educate them of their need for support. Without a mechanism to enforce condo laws–other than expensive, time-consuming and attorney-dependent litigation, the values of these properties and the quality of life are going to continue to decline.

It has been said that all that is needed is a little more time and some education of board members. For many too much time has already passed and no amount of education will change the attitudes and conduct of association boards who feel entitled and unaccountable to anyone for their actions and decisions.

The CCOC is a grassroots organization that solely represents condo owners from 103 cities and towns in Connecticut. There is no membership fee to join. If you are interested in reading more about the CCOC you can go to our website (which is under development) www.ctcondo.org and for more information on joining email ctcondoowners@yahoo.com.

 

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Why This Story, Not Real Civil Rights Issues?


To The Editor:

I cannot believe that the story about East Hampton Police is newsworthy , while the NAACP is on life support. The state of Connecticut NAACP has been losing membership and branches for the past several years and support for the organization continues to dwindle in large part because its focus is not on real civil rights issues.

The East Hampton issue of sending e – mails shows that the focus of the organization is not where it should be. Sure there maybe a need for sensitivity training and maybe there needs to be reprimand; however,there are no civil rights violations or actionable consequences. This stuff has been covered in civil rights 101.

Everyone has a right to free speech. Instead of focusing on the inequities in our political, legal and economic systems the NAACP is making appearances to make it seem relevant.

There was a time when we had over 20 active branches. Now we are down to 16 or is it 14 and does that really reflect active branches. As we speak, the Hartford branch, just like the Waterbury branch, is in a state of flux.

Branches throughout the country have been render dysfunctional because of incompetency. Our neighborhoods, which we serve, are losing hope due to budget crisis, tax increases, gasoline prices and high unemployment in disproportionate and disparging numbers. And we are dealing with memos and accusations of alleged racism without complete evidence, or necessary legal standing.

What are we doing? Let’s tackle real civil rights issue and stop the photo opportunities. We must move pass civil rights 101.

Russell Williams

Russell Williams works at the Washington-based Center for Economic Justice. He is challenging the current president of the state NAACP, Scot Esdaile.



 





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Letter To The Editor: Enforce Existing Condo Laws


Dear Editor,

Ours is not a ‘horror’ story but does show the insidious and costly nature of unenforced condo laws.

Existing condo law must be ENFORCED by a neutral agency. The Condominium Act came about because regulation became necessary to protect owners of these ‘new communities’.

However, because the state cannot directly enforce the law, associations have managed to circumvent it.Our association is comprised of 32 units that pay equal common fees.  In our association, 24 units are townhouses, with awnings, fireplace chimneys, basements, extensive brick sidewallks with railings, trellises, and lawn sprinklers.

The other eight units are ranch style units that have none of the mentioned items of the other 24 units. The 24 can out vote the eight on almost everything. The common fees used to be fractional but because the intent of fractional common fees and voting was misunderstood and/or hard to cipher by the once owner-management, ‘equal’ common fees were instituted.

The eight subsidized amenities for the 24. Regardless, the association is in clear violation of the “Condominium Act 825 Sec. 47-74 Rights of unit owners” which states, “(b) (1) Each unit owner shall own an undivided interest in the common elements, in the percentage expressed in the declaration.

Such percentage shall be computed on any of the following bases, or a combination thereof, provided that the declaration shall fully set forth the manner in which the percentage appertaining to each unit is ascertained: (A) The fair value of each unit at the date of the declaration in relation to the fair value of all the units having an interest in the common elements; (B) the size of each unit, as shown in the plans filed with the condominium instruments, in relation to the size of all of the units having any interest in the common elements; or (C) that the percentage appertaining to each unit, or to each unit within separate classifications, is to be identical.

Even if the eight owners had the money to fight, we’d be paying for both the association lawyer and our own. If the eight water thier lawn, they pay for that water plus the water for the sprinkler system across the street for the 24 units over there. In effect, a minority is subsidizing the majority. The fact that none of this is made clear when purchasing a unit is deplorable.

The kicker? Our condo association lawyer is also a lawyer for a group fighting the proposed legislation.

Ruth Van Anden, East Windsor



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Hartford School Board Should Start New Superintendent Search


FEATURED LETTER

It’s unfortunate that Christina Kishimoto had to face the news that her celebratory evening had to be canceled because Mayor Pedro Segarra called for a national search for a new school superintendent.

Hello! There is a reason Segarra did that. He found out that [David] Medina was engineering news coverage to place Kishimoto in a glowing light. If that is true, how is that fair to the other candidate—or would-be candidates who already read about the apparent pick?

I think the mayor had to step in.

The school district’s press guy was advocating for Kishimoto to the press, calling her  the best qualified. Then you had parents who were supposed to be watching out for things like this, repeating the phrase “best qualified” like puppets.

By the way, those are code words. And most people who know the business of human resources understand that phrase means they had an excuse to skip affirmative action hiring procedures.

The board of education should know better. And Kishimoto should also know better and accept that the process was tainted.  That’s not how anyone should fill a vacancy in a tax-funded entity.

It’s unclear where we should put the blame. But with conflict of interest on almost all sides of this process, side deals and perceived pay offs and only two candidates available in the selection – this search deserves to be upended.

In a system filled with cronyisms and political appointments, the board should have considered the implication of having only two candidates for this important job.

That is a dangerous message to send, no matter who feels Kishimoto was the best qualified. And stop talking about the economy and the need to skip corners. The board found $15,000 for a proposed nonprofit parent group. Saying the search would be cost-prohibitive is only an excuse to skirt the long established process—put in place for a reason.

The Hartford school system is unique in that it is segregated from its suburban counterparts with more than 95 percent black and Latino students. It’s also the home of the school desegregation case, Sheff v. O’Neill. It is notorious for turning away qualified black and brown teachers and administrators, including me.

The whole process needs to be scrapped and start over again. The school board should forget perceptions at this point and really think about the students, who include my nieces and nephews.

Arlene B., East Hartford

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Letter: Union Stresses “Safety and Quality” For MDC Hiring Practices


April 14, 2010

Dear Hartford Guardian Editor:

I am replying to your recent [March 29 2010] Featured news article entitled, “Hartford Blacks Question MDC’s Minority Hiring Practices” discussed a group’s inquiries into how the MDC is hiring labor for the Clean Water Project.  As business manager of the Connecticut

I would like to thank MDC Chair Adam Cloud for meeting with the group and providing the necessary information and updates.  As he noted, there was a self-admitted “informational gap” by the group that has been filled by the recent job fair and Jobs Funnel graduation at the Laborers’ Local 230 offices.

Charles LeConche

However, the news article should have noted that the hiring of workers and companies is not whatsoever a union vs. non-union  issue.  Engaged contractors hire workers based upon their experience, training and the nature of the work.  In fact, since the MDC project began over a year ago, over $43.8 million has been spent with non-union, open-shop companies.

But there is still another question the news article overlooked — How many of these non-union, open-shop companies are providing the proper training and apprenticeship programs for its workers?  None.  While we spend our hard-earned tax dollars on this important regional water project, safety on the job and the quality of the work must come first and that is why the regulations are in place to ensure these standards conform with existing laws.

As the news article noted, a properly trained individual that recently graduated from the Jobs Funnel program was hired by one of the MDC contractors.  This individual sat through the classroom training and spent hours in the field to earn his apprenticeship status.  In fact, new laws have been put in place to make sure all apprenticeship laborers’ that will work on pipe projects with a P6 license need to graduate from a bonafide industry training program.  Workers without the proper licensing and training cannot be hired.

So, regardless if a contractor is union or non-union, the only real issue here is safety on the job and the quality of the work.  Because this is a critical issue, I would like to request that you continue your news coverage about MDC’s hiring practices by reviewing the compliance measures of these nonunion companies for four critical factors — minority placement, worker training, approved apprenticeship program and licensed P6 workers.

We need to make sure our workers are safe while on the job through compliance on behalf of all Connecticut taxpayers.

Sincerely,

Charles LeConcheConnecticut Laborers’ District Council

Hartford

 

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