George "Elfie" Ballis – Smiling Seriously. He has left for another reality. . . but he will be in our hearts forever.
Few residents of Fresno County earn freestanding obituaries in the Washington Post, as did George Ballis when he died last month. That obit recounted an interesting but odd career, with moments of pronounced prominence—high school football standout, photographer of social justice stars (like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez), collaborator on iconic works of art (such as I Am Joaquin) and instigator of a historic legal challenge to the water thieves of …[Read the details]
[Editor: This article was originally printed in the October 2004 Community Alliance newspaper.]
If you are a progressive political activist in Fresno, you have seen him with his video camera at your event. You may have watched his video docu-poems edited by him and his wife, Maia, at the SunMt film festival; caught a glimpse of their work on Channel 49, Free Speech TV or IndyMedia; or even visited SunMt’s 1,200+ page Web site www.sunmt.org. George (Elfie) Ballis and Maia Ballis are recognizable figures in the community, their work and reputation traveling way beyond the Central Valley. In …[Read the details]
In recent months, the Fresno Chapter of the ACLU has become involved in the struggle by community members to have a middle school built in Southwest Fresno. A funny thing happened on the way to that new school, which the school district now plans to build. We became thoroughly confused.
First, we discovered that the ACLU has a position in favor of “equal and integrated education” with local schools spread throughout a school district. But the ACLU is opposed to “neighborhood schools.” Why? It turns out that “neighborhood schools” is a code term for re-segregating public schools.
Then we …[Read the details]
News broke last month that the U.S. government purposefully exposed hundreds of men in Guatemala to syphilis in ghoulish medical experiments conducted during the late 1940s. As soon as the story got out, President Barack Obama phoned President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala to apologize. Colom called the experiments “an incredible violation of human rights.” Colom also says his government is studying whether it can bring the case to an international court.
The revelations came about through research conducted by Wellesley College medical historian Susan Reverby on the notorious Tuskegee syphilis study. The two former U.S. government research projects, in …[Read the details]
The City of Fresno has abandoned the homeless who live in tents on the sidewalks near the Poverello House. Trash was allowed to pile so high last month (see photo) that it began attracting rats and flies and became a health hazard. Big Sue, a homeless woman who lives in the area, told me that a couple of years ago the city allowed a similar situation to develop. She said, “When the city finally cleaned it up, thousands of rats ran out of the garbage pile, across the freeway and into the city. …[Read the details]