Left Justified: Brickbats and flowers

It is a pleasure writing for The Rock River Times. I don’t get monetarily reimbursed, but I do receive acknowledgment from the community. No fortune, but lots of fame. And every now and then, I receive a little grief.

Oftentimes, it’s for the views that I hold; sometimes it’s for the way that I express those opinions, and every now and then it’s because I printed a mistake.

For example, when I invited people to walk in the 20th Annual Rockford CROP Hunger Walk (Sunday, Oct. 15, 1 p.m. registration, 2 p.m., step-off from the Riverfront Museum Park, 711 N. Main; pick up your sponsor records at JustGoods, the new fair trade store at 201 7th St., open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), I forgot to mention that walkers can get sponsors for almost any overseas relief organization, including Heifer International, Baptist World Aid, and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Church World Service is the umbrella organization that covers a number of relief programs, and they even send money back here to Rockford for the food bank and pantries.

The grief comes from my more controversial stands. I used to be called a communist; now I’m called anti-Semite because of my support for peaceful solutions between Palestine and Israel (I oppose violence from either side).

Gun lovers haven’t scolded me lately, mainly because I don’t want to express anti-gun sentiments in an armed society. Discretion sometimes is the better part of valor, though there are some nasty gun dealers in town who are making a killing off the recent shootouts.

The joy of writing for this rag manifests itself at checkout counters and church parking lots where people greet me warmly and thank me for my commentaries. I used to duck when folks said, “Are you that Stanley Campbell who writes for The Rock River Times?” Now I say “yes,” and nine times out of 10, I am congratulated.

And congratulations all around with the grand opening of that new fair-trade store called JustGoods (201 7th St., see above for hours). Mayor Larry Morrissey will cut the ribbon at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 10. And we’ll have a formal blessing by the District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church Saturday morning, Oct. 14 (the place was the former site of the worst liquor store in town and needs all the blessings it can get!). And you can get a sneak preview this week as the new art gallery opens during ArtScene, Friday and Saturday, till 9 p.m.

The store is a miracle. If you had seen the place two months ago, you would not have believed this was possible. Too many volunteers helped, but let me mention these two businesses: Floor Seasonings and Visions of Lighting. It is now a beautiful store offering fair-trade items from around the world. Local artists will be previewed in the gallery, and a little education is offered just from shopping. The all-volunteer staff perform miracles, and we received many donations from this wonderful community.

I am grateful that this newspaper prints the good news along with the bad.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Oct. 4-10, 2006, issue

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