We had a great time yesterday at the Take Good Care Fest in Pittsburgh’s North Side. We asked everyone to draw us healthy selfies. “Draw us a picture of yourself when you are healthy, happy, and strong,” we said. The results were awesome!
Join us this Saturday, July 12th 2014 for the Take Good Care Fest in Pittsburgh’s Northside! We’ll be selling some limited edition 11 by 17 Healthy Artists posters. We’ll also have a table of activities for adults and kids alike, so stop by! Learn more and RSVP at Facebook.
3 – 6pm: In West Park by the National Aviary: Family friendly hands on crafts from local arts organizations, live painting, affordable refreshments, live music.
5 - 6pm: Interactive health and leisure stroll along the North Shore Trail to Manchester.
6 - 9pm: Join us at Bicycle Heaven. There will be food trucks, a beer garden, local artisans vending, raffle prizes, bike decorating, music, and dancing throughout the museum and its outdoor areas. $10 entry fee.
All proceeds go to benefit the Pleasant Valley Men’s Shelter and the Northside Food Bank. Event by Northside Common Ministries, an Affiliate of Goodwill of Southwestern PA.
Karl Hendricks is a hero and icon of Pittsburgh’s music/literary/arts scene. Maybe you’ve heard him play with his band The Karl Hendricks Trio, signed to MERGE, had a writing workshop with him at the University of Pittsburgh, or stopped by his record store Sound Cat. He’s also a father of two and one of the kindest dudes in rock ‘n’ roll you’ll ever meet. Consider making a donation to help him with the financial burden of oral cancer.
From the Technology Tell article by Joe Paone:
Like most indie rock musicians, Karl doesn’t have much to show financially for all of his great work. It’s always been pretty obvious that he hasn’t continued playing music all of these years for the money. He’s an artist to the core. He can’t help himself.
Karl’s friends are trying to raise money for his continued treatment. The great Jon Solomon of WPRB and Comedy Minus One Records is spearheading the effort, which has a GiveForward page set up for donations. Not only can you donate there, but you can also find information about some benefits that will be held on Karl’s behalf in Pittsburgh and Columbus.
If you’ve got a few extra bucks lying around and would like to help a true artist and a great person who’s in need of support during a difficult time, please give generously. For all the pleasure and enjoyment he’s given so many over the years, now’s a good time to give back to the man himself.
Article by Bill O’Driscoll published June 18th 2014 in the Pittsburgh City Paper
Between Oct. 1 and April 30, according to federal statistics, about 318,000 Pennsylvanians acquired private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Among them was Gabe Felice, one of the artists profiled by Julie Sokolow in her online video series Healthy Artists.
By spotlighting low-income artists, the series addressed the wider struggle for health-care reform in the U.S., the only developed nation without universal health coverage. At the time his segment was taped, Felice was thousands of dollars in debt after a bar fight landed him in the emergency room. (He says two guys jumped him.) The painter, then 32, hadn’t had health insurance since 1999.
But after Sokolow told him about the ACA, Felice signed up. Today, he says, “I have an insurance plan that’s a reasonable rate, which is nice.” While he still owes about $2,000 for the ER visit (“That’s probably gonna haunt me for a while”), he did avail himself of the free annual checkup the ACA provides for.
The ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare, is the biggest change in the health-care landscape since Sokolow launched Healthy Artists, in 2012. Sokolow, a musician and filmmaker, documented about 40 local painters, musicians and poets facing medical debt. She wanted to show how debt and health worries keep self-employed and underemployed people from realizing their creative potential and fully contributing to society.
The project, backed by the nonprofit Health Care 4 All PA, also aided the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, an advocacy group that promotes the ACA. “We’ve shared their [Healthy Artists] stories to keep generating awareness,” says PHAN‘s Erin Ninehouser. Healthy Artists inspired filmmaker Michael Moore to invite Sokolow to blog on his web site. And this past February, The New York Times ran an article about the Healthy Artists poster exhibition at ModernFormations Gallery.
While that exhibit and article capped phase one of Healthy Artists, Sokolow continues pursuing the bigger goal of single-payer health care. Meanwhile, despite its infamously botched rollout last fall, the ACA’s online health-insurance marketplace has been a balm for local artists, including Felice.
Take Daniel McCloskey, the comics artist who runs the Lawrenceville-based Cyberpunk Apocalypse writers’ project. After a face-plant bicycle accident last fall cost McCloskey three teeth, and left him with large unpaid hospital bills, Sokolow wrote about the uninsured artist on Moore’s website. The attention helped McCloskey, 27, exceed the Kickstarter goal for his latest comics project and pay down the bills.
Financially, McCloskey says, he caught a break when Allegheny General Hospital noted his low income and waived his non-dental bill: The price of one night in the hospital had exceeded his annual income of well under $20,000. McCloskey also patronized a reduced-cost AGH dental program staffed by oral-sugery trainees. (His titanium screws are in, the new teeth to come.) Had McCloskey been stuck with full-freight bills, he says, he could have lost his house, where he’s hosted residencies for some 40 writers and comics artists, and countless readings and other literary events.
Unfortunately, McCloskey didn’t acquire health insurance until after his accident. Having it now “makes me feel more secure,” he says. With ACA subsidies, he pays just $26 on a monthly premium of $160. “I don’t know that I would have been able to have insurance at all without subsidies,” he says.
In Pennsylvania, 30 percent of those who’ve signed up for private health insurance under the ACA were between 18 and 34 — the age of many artists struggling to launch their careers. But some Healthy Artists profile subjects are coping in other ways. Laurie Trok‘s main health issue is an autoimmune disease that had always ruled out affordable insurance. But while the ACA prohibits discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions, Trok, whose skills including jewelry-making and papercut art, hasn’t signed up. Instead, she says, she visits the East End Community Health Center, which charges on a sliding scale.
Trok, 31, wants health insurance; trouble is, she doesn’t know exactly what her income is. That’s a common problem for all sorts of freelancers, whose income typically derives from multiple sources and can vary wildly year to year.
Such coverage gaps — as with folks who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance — are why for Sokolow, the ACA is merely “a step in the right direction.” She backs universal, single-payer coverage, a la Canada.
That seems a long way off in the U.S. But Sokolow notes that Vermont has its own single-payer plan, set to take effect in 2017. In February, she blogged for Salon about Jon Stewart’s advocacy for single-payer, and she believes a lot of millennials favor single-payer, too.
Sokolow has also expanded her focus beyond artists. In May, her video about a UPMC employee who fasted to protest the low wages paid by the health-care giant was featured on the Huffington Post. And she’s allied with activist groups like Make It Our UPMC and Fight Back Pittsburgh.
“Health care,” she says, “is a human right. No one should be left behind.”
Images above from the Healthy Artists poster competition, held earlier this year at ModernFormations Gallery. Clockwise from upper left: Art by Doug Dean; David Bernabo; Andy Scott; Jasen Lex; Lizzee Solomon; Jenn Gooch; Seth Clark; Jim Rugg; Mundania Horvath; and Stephanie Armbruster
Help your PA friends and loved ones get health care. Sign and share this petition from the tireless advocates at PA Health Access Network by June 30th to expand Medicaid!
Poster by Draplin Design Co.
On Tuesday, May 6th 2014, Jonathan Kissam of The Vermont Workers’ Center will give a special talk about how to build grassroots community campaigns for social justice. The Vermont Workers’ Center has been at the center of the fight that won single-payer healthcare in Vermont.
The talk is free, open to the public, and brought to you by our outstanding friends at Fight Back Pittsburgh. It takes place on May 6th from 6:30-8pm at PNC Legacy Project Exhibit, 600 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. RSVP at Facebook, why don’t ya!
Background Info: In 2011, the state of Vermont passed the nation’s first true universal healthcare law, Act 48. The Green Mountain Care Board established by Act 48 has a mandate to create a statewide single-payer system by 2017. In the meantime, it is leading the nation with the most progressive implementation of Obamacare of any state, ensuring that the “exchange” is publicly run and equitable.
Jonathan Kissam of the Vermont Workers’ Center will discuss the remarkable campaigns that led to these victories: the Healthcare Is a Human Rights Campaign that led to the healthcare bill, and the subsequent Put People First campaign that has brought people together across party lines to win real victories. With the Vermont Workers’ Center, Put People First, and Fight Back Pittsburgh in the house, we expect one heck of an inspiring evening!
“The Faster” documentary short:
Video by Julie Sokolow
It’s Holy Week 2014 and Chaney Lewis is camping in a tent outside a skyscraper. Pittsburgh means snow in April, so he’s wearing two hoodies and a blanket. Visitors peek in his tent - college kids, ministers, fast food employees, and elected officials – huddling awkwardly near the heaters and issuing words of admiration. Some ask if the April 2nd New York Times coverage has helped the situation.
“We’re still waiting,” he says.
By the time I interview Chaney for our video “The Faster”, it’s been six days since he’s last eaten.
“Workers are willing to take a stand,” he says. “Extreme measures.”
Since 2012, a battle’s been raging between UPMC hospital workers like Chaney and CEO Jeffrey Romoff, who makes $6 million a year. Chaney’s worked at UPMC for over nine years, but still only makes $11.97 an hour. Consider this added offense: UPMC enjoys the status, “charitable nonprofit”.
Watch Chaney brave a week-long fast for social justice in “The Faster”. You can sign this petition to help Chaney and his coworkers achieve higher wages and unionization. A new infographic by the Make It Our UPMC campaign is pictured below, demonstrating an argument for boosting the base wage to $15/hour.