Ruth Garland-Dewson Receives “Power of One” Award at Jenesse Center’s Silver Rose Gala

San Francisco Businesswoman Honored for Using Her Personal Power to Change Lives

April 28, 2008 – Beverly Hills, CA – Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry and the Jenesse Center presented San Francisco businesswoman Ruth Garland-Dewson with a “Power of One” award at the Beverly Hills Hotel on April 27, 2008.

Mrs. Dewson, the Founder and Executive Director of the Western Addition Foundation for Girls in San Francisco and the owner of the Fillmore Street landmark shop, Mrs. Dewson’s Hats, received the award for her efforts to secure the release of Flozelle Woodmore from prison, long after she had served the time required for killing her abusive boyfriend when she was only 18 years old.

Mrs. Dewson brought this case to the attention of prominent California politicians and leaders of the legal, religious and social activist communities, as well as the media. Mrs. Dewson’s championing of the Flozelle Woodmore case ultimately led to Woodmore’s release from prison and allowed her to be reunited with her family.

Mrs. Dewson’s “Power of One” award was presented by California State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas. The senator was instrumental in working with Mrs. Dewson on the Flozelle Woodmore case.

“Ruth Dewson is a doer, a change maker, a one-woman show and a force of nature,” said the senator.

“I have dedicated my life to helping others,” Mrs. Dewson said to a sold-out ballroom that included Hollywood stars like Berry, Jay Leno, Jennifer Hudson and Wanda Sykes and prominent civic and political leaders such as Gloria Allred, public defenders Michael Judge and Jeff Adachi and Los Angeles city council member Bernard Parks.

To a standing ovation, Mrs. Dewson concluded, “People said to me, you didn’t know Flozelle, how could you help her? I said to them – I know her and you know her. You see her in the eyes of your children and your grandchildren. And you say to yourself, they ain’t heavy, they’re my brothers.”

Out4Immigration / Through Thick & Thin Fundraiser

Out4Immigration will hold its first fundraiser of the year Tuesday night, April 29 at the East/West Lounge in West Hollywood with special guest, filmmaker Sebastian Cordoba, the visionary behind the award-winning documentary, Through Thick & Thin.

This is a chance for those in the Los Angeles area to get together over drinks and meet other Out4Immigration members and those in same-sex binational relationships and our supporters. There will be 2-for-1 drink specials, and Sebastian will show clips from his film (which is screening in LA on Wednesday night, April 30 at the Egyptian Theatre). There’s even a promise of Sebastian serving up some of his especial homemade empanadas — an offer I believe good enough to get even the most over-extended of you through the door!

Out4Immigration is a non-profit group that fights to end the discrimination gay and lesbian Americans with foreign partners face in trying to keep their families together here in the US. Through Thick & Thin eloquently follows the story of seven such couples and their struggles to have some semblance of a “normal” life in spite of challenges that are simply off the charts. Remarkably, the couples are committed, “through thick and thin”.

The fundraiser is from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the East/West Lounge in West Hollywood, 8851 Santa Monica Blvd. Please give what you can at the door. All donations are tax-deductible. For more information, contact Doug Haxall at Out4Immigration.

Preservationists Sue UC Over Proposed Demolition

On Monday [4/21/08], preservationists filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court against the University of California, because of the University’s plans to demolish UC Hall, the oldest remaining major hospital building at UCSF’s Parnassus campus. The 1917 UC Hall includes the historic Toland Hall containing murals by Bernard Zakheim a student of Diego Rivera that tell a history of California medicine and spotlight the founding and early development of UCSF itself. Preservationists argue that the new construction project of the Institute of Regeneration Medicine (IRM) will replace functions currently handled at UC Hall, including a new auditorium designed to replace Toland Hall, and that recent documents approved by the UC Board of Regents failed to address the impact of the IRM/auditorium project on this historic building.

According to David Tornheim who filed the papers (and who also in 2005 filed an appeal of a similar environmental document that–at least for now–saved the Harding Theater), said “UC Hall reminds us of the history of the campus and is a visually stunning Beaux Arts style building by the remarkable architect Lewis Hobart, who also designed the Grace Cathedral, Steinhart Aquarium and the Del Monte Hotel in Monterey. I’d hate to see it demolished.” (read more)

Community Activist Ruth Garland-Dewson To Receive Power of One Award

This Sunday, April 27, community activist Ruth Garland-Dewson will be honored at the Jenesse Center’s Silver Rose Gala and Auction at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. Ruth will be receiving a Power of One award for her tireless efforts in helping a victim of domestic violence, Flozelle Woodmore, who killed her abuser in self-defense, secure her release from prison, long after she had served her time and been recommended for parole five times. KazzaDrask Media has been working with Mrs. Dewson to meet all of the photo requirements for the Jenesse Center and affiliates. Ruth is extremely honored to be receiving this award from the oldest domestic violence intervention program in South Central Los Angeles, and also extremely excited. Sunday’s event will feature not one, but two Academy Award-winning actresses. Halle Berry is the event’s chairperson and Jennifer Hudson is slated to deliver a show-stopping live performance! Some tickets to Sunday’s Silver Rose Gala and Auction and Monday’s Halle Berry Celebrity Golf Classic at the Mountain Gate Country Club may still be available. They’re certainly for a worthy cause — contact the Jenesse Center at 323-299-9496, ext. 103 for information.

Spam Stories

Working on a Sunday — let alone one of the most beautiful Sundays of the year in San Francisco — I’m having trouble getting started. While cleaning out my “Bulk” mail, I came across some Literary Spam, which got a lot of attention on its initial breakthrough of spam filters in mid-2006. Spam Stories explains the phenomenon behind emails that read something like a vague literary classic you think you recall, a second-rate Barbara Cartland romance novel and some cutting-edge new fiction you just don’t get.

People are far too prone to exaggerate the shortcomings we
should certainly meet the big water again. And a deadly
tiredness at first …. And then is he? Toni, pulling off
her flannel blouse, spoke and let them stew till they be
ready to be eaten, by the fire and tries to read. But the
book he bioiikomhhgs me very plainly that you resented her presence
horses’ heads, we saw a large body of spanish ago. It was
affection for the dead: that arthur his handkerchiefs and
wipes the pistol with which to look sharp, i’ve a car waiting.

Spam Stories doesn’t like to see great art like this wasted. So, they’ve dedicated their website to making literary works out of such cunning text samples like the one above. These “works” include poems, stories, dramatic scenes and more. Kudos to these guys for cleverness — and if you’re working on a weekend, take a break and clear your Bulk folder; then try your hand at making “Paradise Lost” into “Paradise Found”.

Save the Beaux Arts UC Hall

San Francisco is fast becoming two cities in one. Downtown and waterfront development over the past 10 years would make the city virtually unrecognizable to someone who hadn’t been here in a decade. Yet, move beyond Moscone Center, AT&T Park, the Embarcadero and the “loftiness” of SOMA and the city’s old charm lurks at virtually every corner. The San Francisco Preservation Consortium is an outlet for those of us in the city who want to preserve its charms, one building or landmark at a time. The Beaux Arts UC Hall is a building subject to current controversy. The University of California’s first medical teaching hospital, the Beaux Arts UC Hall was built in 1917. It was designed by renowned architect Lewis P. Hobart and is the oldest building still standing on the Parnassus campus. Since the 1960s, the building has housed the celebrated Zakheim frescoes by WPA muralist Bernard Baruch Zakheim, who studied under Diego Rivera. This building is eligible for the California Register of Historic Resources, but there’s talk of demolishing it before that ever happens — perhaps as early as 2009. If you find yourself in San Francisco any time soon, why not take a side trip to see this building, located at 533 Parnassus Avenue, then contact Chris Creighton to find out how you can help preserve this Beaux Arts beauty.

Photo Shoot with Community Activist Ruth Garland-Dewson

Community activist Ruth Garland-Dewson asked me to take a series of photos of her for her upcoming “Power of One” award that she will receive from the Jenesse Center in Beverly Hills, April 27. The photos will be used in the awards program and various ads promoting the event. It was an honor (and a lot of fun) taking these shots of Ruth at her landmark San Francisco business establishment, Mrs. Dewson’s Hats on Fillmore Street, which really does (as I’ve written here before) serve as a bully pulpit for a variety of causes as well as an old-fashioned community meeting place. People dropped by all afternoon to chat with Ruth, check out the photo shoot and admire the gorgeous hats for both Misses and Misters. Ruth’s “hatted” a lot of big names over the years, like former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, opera singer Luciano Pavarotti and actress Sharon Stone. Believe me when I say I am not the first person who has taken photos of Mrs. Dewson. Among the hundreds of hanging hats, the walls of her shop are covered with photos of her and her famous clients.

But Ruth Garland-Dewson isn’t all about hats and celebrities. For years she’s been giving back to the community. More than 20 years ago she started the Western Addition Foundation for Girls, a non-profit that offers scholarships to help girls achieve at every level of education, beginning with elementary school. The Power of One award Ruth will receive later this month is in honor of her efforts to get Flozelle Woodmore released from prison, long after she had served her time and had been recommended for parole. The well-documented Woodmore case represented “everything that is wrong with the fusion of politics and parole policy.” Woodmore was being used as an example by California governors — both Democrat and Republican — to show they were tough on crime and would never parole a convicted murderer, no matter what the circumstances. Ruth used her connections with the famous, the well-connected, the clergy and the press throughout the state of California to raise awareness and secure fair treatment for Flozelle Woodmore.

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Clinton Says She Supports Federal Law Changes to Help Same-Sex Binational Couples

Clinton Says She Supports Federal Law Changes to Help Same-Sex Binational Couples

Presidential contender recognizes disparity in state marriage, civil union and domestic partner laws that bar LGBT citizens from equal immigration rights

Democratic presidential contender Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) said in an interview today that the lack of federal protections for LGBT couples, particularly where immigration rights are concerned, are “one of the biggest problems that we’ve got to contend with.”

In a ground-breaking interview with Philadelphia Gay News reporters Mark Segal and Sarah Blazucki, Senator Clinton was asked point blank what she would do to improve the immigration policy for same-sex couples in which one partner is American and the other is from another country. Heterosexuals in this situation typically take advantage of federal marriage laws. By legally marrying, the American can then sponsor the foreign partner for a green card. Because immigration rights are part of federal marriage provisions, gays and lesbians, barred from federal marriage are also barred from equal immigration rights. (Read more)

‘English Is Dead’

English is Dead

Annalee Newitz writes a weekly column in the San Francisco Bay Guardian called “Techsploitation”. She takes a look at the changes going on around us — thanks or no thanks to technology. This week’s column focuses on something anyone who works with words, particularly English words, has been aware of for awhile. The Internet is killing the English language as it is written and spoken by its native speakers. There’s nothing we can do about it. But it’s not the end of the world, or even the end of English, really. You see, by 2010, it’s estimated 2 billion people on the planet will be communicating in English, but only 350 million will have a clue about tenses and dangling participles. Will that matter? Will anyone besides a few random bloggers even notice the difference? (Read more)