Social Justice

Helping the Women of Assam, India

women weavers

Yesterday I cooked Indian food for my good friend Mili who has been raising money to help impoverished children and women in India with her annual fundraiser. This year they are supporting women in Assam (the part of India she is from) to purchase and use more efficient looms and to have better access to markets to sell their wares at fair wages. If you can help by donating something (anything really – even a few dollars), it would mean a lot to me and to Mili and to the women of Assam!

Here’s a link to one of the dancers at the fundraiser last night.

Those who wanted to come and support and could not make it, it is still not too late… You could still help us by writing a check to AFNA (Assam Foundation of North America) and send it to Mili Dutta, 3233 Columbus Ave S, MN 55407.
She wanted to raise $5000 and so far they have raised $4309.

So, if you would like to support her and help her to reach her goal, then PLEASE send a check or use the following paypal link…

Thank you to all who believe in social justice and helping the underserved…


It will only make a few minutes of your time and could make the difference in the life of a woman.

“Internet Decorum” or How the Anonymity of the Web Brings Out the Worst in People

Recently a reader read a blog post that I had written and came back with some very sharp, harsh, critical and judgmental remarks about my parenting and about the type of child I was raising. This was all based on a few pages that I wrote. She does not know me personally; we have never spoken; and she does not know my child. Although it bothered me, I also knew that I couldn’t let it get to me. The Internet is a wide open public forum where anyone can read and respond.

Regardless of the commonplace nature of such behavior, I still find it perplexing as to the kind of behave that people feel comfortable displaying and engaging in on discussion forums, Facebook, blogs, text messages, email. There is a certain sense of freedom that comes along in these electronic forums which results in some very negative behavior. I wonder about future generations. I wonder how this is going to affect future generations of young people who are growing up in a world where such behavior seems to be considered acceptable.

I believe in argumentation. I believe in the importance of disagreement. It is through disagreement and argumentation that new ideas come about and that new awareness is born. Through discussion we discover and learn.

Although the personal attack caused me to sit back and think a lot about human behavior, as well as attachment parenting practices, I am still left with the nagging sense that boundaries must exist, that one must restrain from making personal attacks, and that there are must be rules in place to protect a readership and authors from unnecessary hurt and criticism. Given the freedom of speech, I hesitate to “Reject” any response that a reader has to what I have written. The reader may not hold the same opinion I do, but he or she has the right to his or her opinion. It is not my job to censor comments and to only those through that are in alignment with my thinking.

However, I have made a decision based on my personal values around respecting others. On my blog I will not accept responses that come in the form of personal attack. I’m all for criticism; I have no problem with disagreement, but please do not make any personal attacks on anyone. Attack the idea, not the person. One can disagree with the ideas and support one’s disagreement with good argumentation and evidence.

So please, play nicely with one another. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Follow the rules of good behavior and manners — and in doing so demonstrating the same virtues and values that you are hopefully striving to instill into your children. Model for them the path you would like them to take. No criticisms of a specific person. No name calling. No attacks on one’s parenting skills or on one’s children. Let us strive for a higher level of being and for a demonstration of good Internet decorum.

Thank you,


Related Posts:

One of the Best Things a Business Can Do for Parents

Install one of these in the bathroom! They are the bomb!

(Safe-Sitter: Wall Mounted Child Seat)

I will never forget when I was in a grocery store (it was either a Rainbow or a Cub Foods) with my baby and I had to use the facilities. I walked into the bathroom and saw one of these seats. It was a God-send!

Think about it. There you are, in the store, with a baby and a grocery cart. Suddenly you have to go…What do you do? You can’t put your child down on the floor. You can’t push the cart into the bathroom and even if you could are you supposed to leave the door open with the baby hanging out in the cart? 

The only thing you can really do is to either strap the child into the changing table or hold the baby on your lap, which is EXTREMELY inconvenient, to say the least.

Please, for the sake of mothers and fathers shopping with their babies, let more businesses install a seat of this nature! Mothers and fathers around the world will be singing your praises!

From the promotional materials of this product (randomly selected because I happened to take a picture of this brand while in a restroom):

  • Wall mounted Safe-Sitter keeps child safely restrained with a three point Safe-Strap harness belt
  • Unit complete with head and side supports for added protection
  • Seat extends just 12.5″ from wall, and folds up for convenient storage when not in use
  • Easy to clean plastic construction

In my opinion one of the best things a business can do for parents is to install one of these seats in the bathroom (right next to that changing table they undoubtedly have!). It looks like they cost around $85.00. Not a bad investment for happy parents.

I would return to a store with one of these seats if I still had a baby, wouldn’t you?

Related Posts:

No Changing Table at Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream Cafe (Or at Starbuck’s)

Changing the World: One Changing Table at a Time

Changing the World: One Changing Table at a Time

Note: This isn’t only about changing tables. It’s about making a difference in our world.

My quest to change the world one changing table at a time started when I went into a Starbucks in Duluth, MN when my daughter was about 18 months old, had a messy diaper, and I wanted a decaf, no-foam latte. Alas, when I entered the oversized bathroom there was no changing table. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that Starbucks would fail to install a changing table at a location in the middle of a large city.

I did then what I consistently do now when I don’t see a changing table. I said to the staff,

“I see that you don’t have a changing table. Where would you propose I change my child? On the floor?”

They looked at me blankly and shrugged their shoulders.

I then proceeded to change her on one of the cushy oversized armchairs in the middle of the coffee shop.

Now don’t get me wrong. I realize it is not the staff’s fault that there is no changing table. But what I hope is that word will get back to the manager that a disgruntled customer changed her messy child (read poopy) in the middle of the coffee shop.

This was my first course of action.

When I got back to town and went into my local Starbucks I again found no changing table. I called the manager, wrote several emails and persisted until I was able to speak to a district manager. I asked her what Starbucks’ policy was on changing tables. She looked into it and found out they had no policy. (If you do a web search on Starbucks and changing tables you will find that I am not the first to notice this problem.) She explained that I was catching them at the right time. They were doing a remodel and would be sure to install a changing table. I was also offered a free coffee drink of my choice the next time I went in. Bonus!

Here’s a blurb from a quick web search for “starbucks changing table.” Apparently this woman’s successful method was to use Twitter.

“Speaking of Twitter, that’s actually where I finally started to get somewhere with this whole situation.  I followed @Starbucks and (with the help of @JetWithAnya) asked them to put me in touch with the people who could hear me out.  After an email back from Starbucks Coroporate Communications that *didn’t* tell me to waste my time by entering it on the L-A-M-E webpage, I learned that I needed to contact my local District Manager. So the next time I was at my local store I grabbed her business card and shot her an email when I got home.  I explained my frustrations (and made it clear that I would be blogging and Tweeting about all of this, one way or the other).  To her credit, she has been extremely responsive and friendly, and after only two phone calls, put in an order for changing tables for my local store.”

Recently, a similar messy diaper situation occurred at Sebastian Joe’s, a very popular ice cream parlor in the Twin Cities. In this instance, I Facebooked Sebastian Joe’s until I got a response. The owner asked me to email him. I emailed him and a few weeks later got a phone call from explaining that they were going to be adding changing tables to their two locations. (I also got an offer of a free cone.)

If you want to make a difference in your community in some way here are some ways to go about it: 

  • While you are in the location ask to speak to the manager
  • If no manager is available, ask for the manager’s email address or phone number
  • Call and ask to speak to the manager
  • Write a letter, (here’s an example letter that I wrote to an icecream parlor) mail it and follow up with an email or a phone call
  • Ask in your letter that the establishment respond with a plan of what they will be doing to rectify the situation
  • Post a message on Facebook
  • Post a message on Twitter
  • Be persistent

The need for change is highlighted when you have a young child and are forced to meet his or her needs, oftentimes quite urgently. I was recently in a grocery store deli seating area by myself and was thinking perhaps my daughter and I might go there together to eat one day. I took a look around. Lots of chairs, lots of tables but not one high chair or booster chair.

Hmmm..perhaps my toddler and will pay them a little visit. After an hour of her running around the deli they are going to be racing out to buy a high chair!

Good luck in your endeavors whatever they might be!

No Changing Table at Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream Cafe (Or at Starbuck’s!)

Starbuck’s is not the only establishment that doesn’t have changing tables. An icecream parlor near my house didn’t have any either. I persisted with letters and Facebook messages and the owner put in changing tables at both of his locations. Here is the letter that I wrote.

Christina Robert

Sebastian Joe’s
1007 Franklin Avenue S.
Minneapolis, MN

March 12, 2012

To whom it may concern:

Today I visited your establishment for some ice cream with my two and a half year old daughter. During my visit I need to change my daughter’s diaper. I was very disappointed to find that there was no changing table in the women’s bathroom. (I am assuming there was not one in the men’s room either.)

Because there was no changing table I was forced to change my child on a freestanding object that looked like a filing cabinet. The cabinet was on wheels. My daughter (being 2 ½) was crawling around and attempting to stand on the cabinet it while I changing her. It was not a safe place to change her but it was my only choice. The next possible choices would have been the floor (would you lie down on the floor in a bathroom?) or on the chairs in the main area of the restaurant (not a pleasant for the other customers).

The amenities you have for mothers of young children and not only unacceptable (in being non-existent) but are also dangerous.

There is ample room for a small changing table in the women’s room. Given the fairly recent renovations of these restrooms it seems that there would have been the opportunity to install a much needed amenity. Given that men often care for young children as well, it would be appropriate to provide a place for them to change those in their care.

Sebastian Joe’s is a family friendly business. I’m assuming that I do not need to point out the fact that an ice cream store naturally draws customers with young children.

I do not understand why measures have not been taken to make changing a young child easy in a family-friendly environment.

In addition to a changing table, a small step stool for young children to stand on while washing his or her hands would also be greatly appreciated.

I will be anticipating a reply with a plan for how this situation will be rectified. Thank you very much.


Christina Robert