Saturday, January 15, 2011

West Side story?


I left the following comments on the Open City Hall site. I thought I’d share it with you in the interest of “Writing for Change.” What do you think? Am I city council material? Read, enjoy, and be inspired to “Be the change you want to see in the world.”


I receive regular e-mail invitations to comment on current proposals on the site Open City Hall. Here is a recent response to a proposed redevelopment plan for Salt Lake City’s West Side. Visit the site and register to comment on current issues that may affect you. it’s a great way to stay up to date, put in your two cents, and maybe even be inspired to get involved. What do you think? Am I future city council material? Please comment, and maybe even follow or subscribe.

“I have resided in Salt Lake for 26 years, lived in several neighborhoods, and was twice homeless, for a total period of five years.

Local and state officials say they want to create walkable, sustainable, green communities, and have recently been better about asking us what we want. Still, I'm concerned that much input is often ignored, and the will of the few takes precedence over the people’s rights when it comes to issues of widespread consequence, such as proposed redevelopment plans for the West Side? I offer the following ten suggestions, based upon my experience and observations over more than a quarter of a century here:

Any development/redevelopment plan should include:

1) Government transparency and frequent dialogue with residents of affected communities, resulting in…

2) …a responsible plan based on full consideration of sincerely solicited public input.

3) Retention and support of small, local businesses which have enhanced and sustained the community for decades.

4) Preservation and rehabilitation of unique historic buildings, rather than demolition, especially when there are neither allocated funds nor any solid deal to redevelop the “blighted” property.

5) Local government commitments to stop pandering to interests whose motivations are not congruent with the best interests of the city as a whole.

6) Affordable housing; better opportunity to own a home.

7) Preservation, creation, and improvement of parks and green spaces.

8) Conservation of natural resources, especially water and air quality.

9) Better, around the clock, public transportation.

10) Constituent education, empowerment, involvement, and stewardship.

Let me expand upon these suggestions and add a few additional points.

Don’t use eminent domain to impersonally condemn active, profitable businesses, or occupied residential properties.

Tax consistently and fairly. Give relief to those who support this city, love it, and want to maintain its unique appearance, small town feel, and quality of life. Don’t tax small businesses out of business.

Eliminate the sales tax on food.

Regulate financial institutions more stringently, to assure predatory practices and excessive fees aren’t bleeding people dry.

Hold corporations liable and responsible for their impact on communities and the environment. Many companies need to address and solve the problems they create, such as increased waste, pollution, and traffic, and sub-standard labor practices.

Become less dependent on federal government. Don’t defend state’s rights while begging Uncle Sam for money. Use our “Rainy Day Fund” and other revenue surpluses.

Don’t slash essential social services, education, and arts in a crisis. Instead, look for “porky” programs that can survive a trimming of fat.

Hold all citizens to consistent standards of ethics and law.

More accessible and frequent transit means a greener city, with cleaner air and water. Transit improvement to outlying areas should not reduce service for residents of Salt Lake proper. UTA officials collect the largest salaries compared to similar positions in this country, while customers pay more for less. Elimination and changes often seem to occur at their whim. Walking is often quicker than taking the bus or light rail. For example, the only day I have time to shop–Saturday– there is no bus service near my residence to my preferred stores. Similar inconveniences have almost convinced me to buy a car again.

The most convenient or most profitable solution is not always the best.

Give citizens information and offer opportunities. Challenge us with responsibility. Then we will produce and implement solutions.

History has proven that we cannot rely on higher powers to do what’s right, at least not until we compel them to do so. Grass roots government, with the help of all citizens, need to make those changes that the world needs now.”

J Phillip (John) Wilkes


SLCC-Community Writing Center volunteer/Trained Writing Assistant/Co-mentor of “Gay Writes,” a DiverseCity Writing Series group.

MrW’s blogs:

Mister Write

The Rio Grande Report

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What do the numbers say

On Saturday January 8, 2011 Jared Loughner, carrying a semi-automatic Glock 9 mm, with an arsenal of two extended clips and one standard, and a knife, shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords in the face before opening fire on a crowd of people gathered for a political meet & greet. The poem says everything else I wish to say about this tragedy.
What do the numbers say? (an epitaph)
J. Phillip Wilkes
for John, Dorothy, Phyllis, Dorwin, Gabe, “Gabby,”and Christina
Thirty-nine explosions launch thirty-nine missiles.
Just when some youngsters stopped killing themselves
One young man planned to kill at least one woman
On the corner where his neighbors shop.
One first, singular launch, once perhaps the only one,
Pre-empted Saturday’s agenda, interrupted functions,
Shattered her skull, splayed slivers, like her splintered door,
Someone had smashed some months before.
Twenty-three semi-automatic rounds slashed ripples through
The atmosphere between those gathered in hope, who gave a shit.
Sixteen projectiles met sixteen bodies. Six slugs slaughtered.
One bullet killed that girl, born on a smoke-darkened morning nine years hence.
Less than half your leaden soldiers achieved their targets.
Less than half from less than half produced the desired result.
Fifteen percent. You won’t get back into community college
Without better scores, and a note from your shrink.
Twenty-two seems young for an assassin.
Had you heard, “Don’t retreat, instead – RELOAD”?
Could nothing but this “Second Amendment solution”
Satisfy the voice(s), the ticking, the echoes, the itch?
Six remain dead. One came back. A fraction of
Her splintered skull still separate from her molested mind.
No one can repeal your decision; her wound cannot be postponed.
Will she ever race around the oval on two wheels again?
Immigration? Education? What issues bore your motivations?
Do you drink coffee or tea? Why don’t we ever see it coming?
Why does it still come, where does it come from, and who or what
Will come from it to heal us from our shameful self-inflicted terror?
Seventy-five rounds, three clips, one reload, thirty-nine gunshots,
Two days, thirteen minutes, five charges (two threatening death),
Later, denied as yet any plea, we still know nothing.
“When will we ever learn?” “How many deaths will it take ‘til…?”
Will Death just always just keep dropping in, out of the sky?
Six Saturday. How many Sunday? How much more murder?
Two thousand more years, two more million. Too many in any case.
Six too many died Saturday. Too many die each and every day.
© 01/10/2011 J Phillip (John P) Wilkes; “MrWrite”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Street news in Salt Lake City now a reality, CWC volunteer official vendor

Well, The Salt Lake City Mission finally got a street newspaper off the ground. I'm an official vendor. The second best thing to starting my own. I was on two local news stations, channel 5 and channel 4. It's called Salt Lake Street News. City Weekly also did an article. Shari (pictured at left) is our top vendor right now. Contact the Mission for subscription and advertising rates. Mention me,  John Wilkes,  Official Vendor #009, and I'll benefit from your ad or script. Contact Brad or Pamela at the Mission about that. New issue coming out in July 2010, but you can still get the premiere May/June 2010. If you see us on the street, please buy a copy. That is the most immediate way to help. Also, if you want to purchase quantities of the paper to distribute to the socially conscious clients and customers of your organization or business, email me ( I'll deliver! [photo courtesy of Salt Lake City Weekly].
If you would like to submit writing on the subject of homelessness, or if you are a homeless or formerly homeless person and would like to tell your story or submit original work, call The Mission and speak to Brad or Pamela.
John Wilkes
Community Writing Center volunteer
DiverseCity Writing Series GLBTQ group co-mentor

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pride essay

Wanted to share my submisson to Q Salt Lake's "What Pride Means to Me." If I'm chosen as one of the top five, you'll see this printed in Q's upcoming Pride Issue. Wish me luck. If anyone else would like to submit, you have until Sunday May 23 at 12 noon. Submit to .


Day Without Pride

The first Pride I attended - let’s just say several years ago, and leave it at that - was in Sunnyside Park. There were no booths, no beer garden, no corporate sponsors; just softball, watermelon and soft drinks. It was a way to come “out” a little farther than I was at the time. I’ve tried to stay directly or indirectly involved in Utah Pride every year since. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s almost always a good experience.

I have my favorite Prides, like the first year there was a parade. I marched front and center with some of the proudest fags I’ve ever known, carrying the huge rainbow flag you still see in the parade today. Another year a friend and I marched with a banner for Radio City Lounge. My absolute favorite is the year Tyler (an “ex”) and I walked down State Street holding hands.

Opinions regarding Pride are mixed in GLBTQ communities. Its relevance and effectiveness are being challenged. Some think it has become too political; others not political enough. Many think Pride presents queer people in a frivolous light, and do not want to be represented by flamboyant fairies or quixotic queens on colorful floats. Still others think Prides have become too commercial, and are suspicious of how funds are used. Sadly, too many have been indoctrinated to believe they have nothing of which to be proud.

Most just find it a great excuse to party.

Dissent is to be expected when trying to affect progressive change. Sometimes egos or agendas get in the way, personalities clash. Still, every year, a dedicated team of volunteers makes Pride happen. That’s one testimony to the relevance of Pride – Teamwork: overlooking differences to promote a common goal.

It’s much more, too. Freedom: to kiss, hold, love whoever you wish, wherever you like, without fear. Visibility: having the courage to be out, establish our right to exist, and show the world we are not ashamed of who we are. Diversity: gathering people of different ilks – race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity – under the same umbrella to forward the same cause – the most important reason for Pride - our struggle for Equality: a day when queer folks will be treated like everyone else under the law.

On that day, there will be no need for Pride.

But we’ll do it anyway – for the party.

photo courtesy of Utah Pride

Friday, April 23, 2010


I love the writing group I mentor. The members are diverse and interesting, as is their writing. I'm glad I volunteered, and I'm glad I've stuck with it to watch it grow over the last nine months or so. I wasn't always sure of its success. Thanks all of you who are behind it and who participate regularly. You inspire, motivate and encourage me. Thanks to my co-mentor Doug for his input and assistance.

At the request of the writers, I've set up a private blog for the group to share writings. It's off to a slow start, but I want to encourage all the writers to view and contribute to it more regularly. It is private: you can post, comment, and view only by invitation, so there's no privacy issue. C'mon. give it a try.

Unfortunately, I have decided to quit, at least temporarily, two regular blogs I've been writing weekly for about a year. Time and other considerations, such as lack of interest, really wore me down. So Mister Write and The Rio Grande Report are no more, but their purpose will live on.

I'm really having a hard time picturing the CWC without Tiffany. I wish her the best, and hope she'll come check in on us once in a while. She has always been there, as long as I've been involved. It will be great to have Andrea step into her spot, though. I"m also looking forward to participating in the Utah Arts Festival literary events again this year. Last year was awesome. I also plan to volunteer at more community events such as Farmer's Market, People's Market, Avenues Street Fair, and perhaps the center will be able to swing Pride Day this year.

Well life is constantly changing, some for good, some for not so good. It's keeping me on my toes, and constantly reminding me that change means growth.

John Wilkes
DiverseCity Writing Series
LGBTQA Writers Group co-mentor

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Secret DNA of Writing Essays

The Secret DNA of Writing Essays gets right to the heart of successful writing. NewView method provides a new way for thinking about writing and for creating new ideas to write about – one that will help struggling writers improve, while also enabling more experienced writers to take their work to the next level.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Don't Let 'Em Getcha Down

Go HERE to check out a little writing pep talk.