Work to Ride: Polo that’s not just for mad dogs and englishmen

When you fall of the horse you HAVE TO get back up!  is what Karen Hiner says to kids that come to “Work to Ride”  ‘Even if you’re not gonna keep riding immediately, you MUST STILL  get back on the horse!’  Getting back on the horse, ‘doing the work’ and ‘staying with it’ are part of the mantra at “Work to Ride” a program in Fairmont Park, Philadelphia.  Founded in 1994, at the Chamounix Equestrian Center.  It’s a  non-profit community-based program that aids disadvantaged urban youth.

Not everyone comes from the mean streets, but some of these youths do.  In 1999 Lezlie Hiner invited them to come and muck out stalls, turn out the horses, exercise them.   If the kids learned to take care of, and Shepard the animals properly of course, then she would teach them to ride….and more, maybe even develop a Polo team.    Lezlie did just that. but  she also helped  the kids get to and from practice and helped them with their homework.  Lezlie designed the program as a long-term commitment for  7 to 19 year-old youth who must commit to a minimum of one year of participation.  The kids must remain through high school graduation, and return to Chamounix to mentor new participants. Most of these kids have never played a sport or even mounted  a horse, so fear is a common obstacle for new participants. “When you first start, it’s scary because everything is new. Once you fall off once, that’s scary. It takes you awhile to get over it, but you eventually move on,” star Polo player Kareem Rosser said.

Today these gifted young Polo players compete in the national interscholastic polo division, and regularly play teams representing Yale, Cornell and the University of Connecticut.Hiner, never having had kids of her own, is the “mother” to all these kids, she’s happiest about keeping them off the streets, giving them something positive to do, helping them create some self-esteem.  Caring for animals and mentoring others does a world of good for people. “When the kids are at the barn they can lower their street antennae and just be kids,” she says. “They don’t have to look over their shoulders and worry.”Although the barn has become a second home to many of the kids, they do eventually have to return to their neighborhoods. This past October 14-year-old Mecca Liles-Harris, a starter on the polo team, was murdered, along with her mother and mother’s boyfriend, in her West Philadelphia home. The crime remains unsolved.But with the persistence, tenacity and belief in the dreams of these kids, Hiner and team  have given youth a chance to branch out and discover a sport that once seemed closed to them because of race and economic barriers. Those barriers shouldn’t exist for kids or anyone, and Work to Ride succeeds in tearing them down.

If you have the dedication, the tenacity required to play polo (oh and you clean alot of stalls and help out at "Work to Ride" ) there are alternatives to Philly's mean streets. Polos isn't just for mad dogs and Englishmen!

Work To Ride Accomplishments & Acclaim

  • 1999 Work to Ride made history with the first African-American Polo team in the nation.
  • 2003 Work to Ride was featured on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
  • 2004 Work to Ride was featured in Sports Illustrated by acclaimed sports writer Gary Smith.
  • 2005 & 2011 & 2012 Work to Ride Eastern Regional Interscholastic Polo Tournament Champions
  • 2005 Work to Ride’s Jabarr Rosser was voted #1 National All Star player.
  • 2006 Work to Ride was featured on HBO’s Real Sports for an update on the 2003 airing
  • 2007 Work to Ride featured on MSNBC’s “The Today Show.”
  • Work to Ride included in The Horse exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History , NY, NY
  • 2008 –  2012 WTR team compete in the Unicef Cup & Emir of Katsina Charity Shield, Nigeria, Africa
  • 2009 Most Caring Coach Award, USA Today
  • 2010 Sydney Rutledge and Teeny Jeannie win DVPTP  small pony championship
  • 2011 Cowtown/WTR wins National Interscholastic Polo Championship becoming the 1st African American team to do so
  • WTR’s Kareem Rosser and Daymar Rosser #1 and #3 National Interscholastic All Stars
  • WTR’s Kareem Rosser awarded Polo Training Foundation Male Interscholastic Polo Player of the year 2011
  • WTR’s Kareem Rosser featured on ESPN’s E60 October 2011
  • WTR’s Kareem Rosser selected for the Team USPA 2012
  • WTR’s Kareem Rosser plays for USPA in Junior Tournament at Metropolitan Polo club, Tianjin, China
  • 2012 WTR’s Daymar Rosser, Brandon Rease and Julia Smith make SE Regional All Star Team

Face Time With Gil Franco – (Post humous post: “A Nuclear Free World”)

Just yesterday I was agonizing about what issue to focus on and write about and subsequently post for “The Trouble With Milk.” There are literally so many political and social issues swirling around in my head that I have probably written ad nauseum about them on Facebook.  My friends and I agonize over a particular political event or bill and it’s very existence, then ostensibly verbally castrate the offending politician in a manner of comments below a status in a lexicological way we find ourselves clever, jovial but mostly “united’ under a cause or idea.  Ultimately we ruminate on ‘the way things SHOULD be and this process usually ends up in a  call to arms to create facebook page that underlines our point.  Two such pages were recently bourne this way, “Hey G.O.P., Get OUTTA MY VAGINA!”  and also the “Todays GOOD news!.”

The first one was a result of Republican party backing of rhetoric that spawned a bill poised to take away the medical benefits for contraception for working women.   The later came from a rant that fostered a virtual tidal wave of people tired of bad news, depressive stories and shock reporting.   One pal and I posited that surely there are more ‘good and hopeful’ stories in our lives than the media cares to highlight, so maybe WE SHOULD MAKE A PAGE!!! of course! of course!  that’s what we do!!!  We are page making activists!  This page would tell the world about all these good things that happen in our world!  I Posted about some photographers’ kind and species accepting encounter with a family of wild mountain gorillas,  My friend posted about the failed abduction of a small girl and the eventual capture of her would-be kidnapper.  I have to say, it did (and does) raise one’s spirits reading all the ‘good outcome stories’ on that page.    As I was looking inward at all the prosaic clutter in my gut and the angst I carry for this world, I actually  heard someone whisper my name in  my ear.  It but a breathy sound and very near.  I’ve been conditioned to disbelieve such things but something told me this was quite possible actually audible!  But who and why would someone say my name?  I did not recognize the voice.  I was all alone and  shrugged  it off not wanting my mind to wander into all things “paranormal” because this would no doubtb ilicit a frantic call about ghosts and hearing ‘sounds’ in the house’ to my poor husband concerned with fighting traffic on his way home.  I picked up my iphone and to my mild surprise it was lit up with the screen  open to ‘Favorites” (I have never seen that screen) it was on the O/S of the phone in the Contacts section.  It read “Gil Franco”  Well, this was my father’s email address!

We used to trade articles via email, messages of hope and status on his condition and mine on the kids and family.   Maybe these were serendipitous happenings meant to put me on a path to think of him i thought.  My father died from A.L.S. better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  In a weird way after he was diagnosed I thought , ‘Gee, one of the biggest craziest baseball fans,  was God was an extremely black humored chap so dedicated to his schtick that even in these dire circumstances we would care to pin such an ironic moniker to this poor man? Anything for a joke.  Or was he an angry god thinking of some earthly misstep my father may have taken? Either way my father looked at this disease as that terrible thing that got him, but at least he was in the company of Lou Gehrig.  I touched the lit up line with my father’s name and email address. The sun had just set and the blue glow set off the entire room.  I selected ‘facetime” just for a lark, half wondering if i’d hit the roof if his face would appear.  What if I actually talk to him!   I stared at my own face as the phone reflected back the words, “calling Gil Franco” and the phone attempted to  resolve for about two minutes, and I let it.  I even posited what  I’d say ” Hi dad!  Did you hear about Mitt Romney and can you believe that Rick Santorum?  Wow!  It’s been one really reprehensible primary hasn’t it!” What do you think about Geraldo Rivera’s remarks on Treyvon Martin?   I was sure my dad wasn’t missing a thing.  He was quite possibly the most well written arm-chair activist in his tiny his corner of Central California penning a column called “Left in America” for The Tule River Times.  Politics were a drama, a game and constant fodder for jokes, but also ideas for change and peace.  He wrote till his heart’s content.  That is until his body lost control slowly and he became a locked in soul.   I turned off the phone and swallowed that little lump in my throat that had begun to form. Immediately I knew what I was supposed to write or at least had an idea.  I had a picutre more like it. Of the box that was the only thing I was given when he died.  I received all of his writing.  His entire library of rants, prosaic letters to the editor that spawned full op ed articles that clearly won him liberal fans in the area.  I retrieved a few of the articles and re-read the first five.  I settled on one about A Nuclear Free World.   I have never been able to supply the familiar friendly word flow that yet can gently turn on a dime and cite facts suporting one or another statements as my father could. while I have a great personal remembrance for political events and their place in our American timeline, my father’s recollection was unparalled.  He also had a photographic memory, a love of metaphor and a passion for a better world.  For these reasons I selected this particular article.  At the time of my father’s writing career, it was just he and an underwood typewriter and although computers came into our homes, he preferred to tap out his ruminations and drive them down to The Times’editor.  Receiving a computer from me a couple of years before he got sick he quickly learned the world of email but still refused to pen his articles on keyboard. Nudging him into cyberspace, and one of his professor friends wrestled some of his better rants from his clutches and  posted them on his “progressive writer’s bloc” website,

where one article remains today, with a note about his passing.   But now, dad…welcome to my blog. I hope everyone enjoys this piece.  Even though it was written in 2002, it is strangely applicable for this time. It is as timeless as you are.


The recent revelation that North Korea, has violated agreements with both the United States and South Korea by failing to end its nuclear program is being interpreted by some as strengthening the hand of the Bush administration to attack Iraq.  These rogue, erratic states that comprise the infamous “axis of evil” obviously cannot be trusted, some say, so let’s stop messing around and just knock ’em out.”

But rather than making a compelling argument for a military solution (or solutions), the new complication in North Korea actually points out the absurdity of seeking military solutions.

The U.S. military is well aware of the horrendous costs of a war with North Korea, and this has, in the past, tempered the military option.  Perhaps this is also why the immediate U.S. response has been measured and reasoned.  Seeking help from our allies in the region to find a peaceful solution.

But what sense does it make to have a foreign policy that says we’ll negotiate with North Korea, a state that is conceivably more of a threat because it already has such weapons, but we’ll preemptively strike Iraq because we THINK it MIGHT be developing these weapons?

Unfortunately, many countries around the world have or are developing weapons of mass destruction.  We can’t possibly go around the world waging selective preemptive strikes against them.

That would, without a doubt, not only signal perpetual war, but also global destruction as attacked nations unleash their deadly weapons not only on our allies but on us as well.

We must also remember that our goal right now should be to break up the terrorist network that attached us on September 11 – not be the unilateral global vigilantes.

The only way to deal with Iraq and North Korea is to use diplomacy, regional pressure and the United Nations as ways to press for disarmament.

In addition, we cannot ask countries to selectively disarm.  In areas of intense , such as the Middle East and East Asia, there must be regional disarmament.

Finally, we can’t continue to say that other countries must not develop weapons of mass destruction while we, by far the mightiest military power on the face of the Earth, continue to refine these deadly weapons.

In fact, we are now developing more ‘useable’ nuclear weapons and have outlines a scenario for their use against Iraq.

To make the world safe from weapons of mass destruction, the United STates must begin to live by the same set of rules we would like to impose on others and seriously embark on a course that will truly lead us to a nuclear weapons-free world.

(Page 4, THE TULE RIVER TIMES, November 7, 2002 )

Get Mugged.

IT’S NOT FOR THE SOC’S…or even the slightly entitled.  It’s the new TROUBLE WITH MILK mug! Don’t say you don’t want one.  Be the first on your block to sport this swag and swag it is.  Just fill out the accompanying form and your info will be sent to the editor for ordering and rapid delivery.  The mugs are $19.00 each and that includes shipping. Stay crunchy my friends.

  We will ship the mug(s) when we confirm payment.  Credit cards are not accepted, neither is cash.  Please pay by check or moneyorder.  Now we haven’t figured out the high tech thing…we’re too busy writing these swag articles!! but we’ll grab some technology soon enough.  Until then…IT’S ANALOG BABY!!!

It's Official here's 'The Trouble With Milk mug. "It's Not for the soc's"


My Story of Retribution and The “You Pissed me Off You Bastard” Blog..

My Song of Retribution via The “You Pissed me Off Blog”

Last week in my car whilst waiting for a spell for my children to return from their math tutor, a large black rolling living room pulled up along side of me.  The first inhabitant sitting in the backseat leaned toward their window, and threw all of his 60 lbs or so, of tutor-weary-angry-tiger-child right into throwing open that door right into the side of my car!  Big as a Mexico quake (too soon?..sorry), my car shook this Mexigringa right into next Tuesday and forced my shaken hand to load a screwed up Instagram photo. Okay, Hey! I was not done profusely editing my mediocre photo! ! I took a breath actually feeling sorry for a probable overwhelmed tiger-child who was obviously arriving to ‘tutoring’ at dinner time and I knew that must suck…when…a second door (this time the driver’s side) whipped open with wreckless abandon with ANOTHER CRASH RIGHT INTO MY CAR!! this time the driver’s door!  

The little snark’s mother now repeated his event right into my passenger side door!  Now I was done, fried, livid, seeing red and not about to sit there and ignore it, I got out of my seat and into the rain.  The sky had really opened up, but paying no mind to the rain, the heat traveled up my neck to my face and the top of my head, as I neared the snape who was exiting her door and grabbing her purse as I came around and yelled at her, “I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!!  I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!!…AGAIN…I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!!  YOU SEE THE TWO DENTS? YOUR LITTLE SCHOLAR SLAVE  DID THE FIRST ONE AND I FIGURED KIDS MAKE MISTAKES, BUT NOW YOU DO IT TOO?  I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!  she just looked at me wet hair, getting wetter, glaring with angry green eyes, my finger still pointing to the dents, she stared at me righteously,  collecting up her Juicy Couture overly patented bag, as her kid bounded past us into the tutoring center leaving his mother to deal with me. After what seemed like an eternity, she uttered,  “not my fault, sorry” as she pushed past me.  This woman did not offer to pay anything nor did she offer to help me.  I then yelled to her as she turned her back, I WAS GOING TO SELL MY CAR! BUT WHAT DO YOU CARE? YOU’VE GOT A ROLLING LIVING ROOM!  YOU SNAPE!  KEEP PLAYING SPONGEBOB UNTIL YOUR KID ROTS HIS MIND!”

She looked at me blankly over her shoulder. I was most certainly grabbing at straws.  I got back into my car, my head was hurting by that time, sorry that I used Spongebob in a negative manner, cuz I really love that guy.  I really do.  At least I said my peace. Later my boys got in my car, My hair all curly and ruined.  It was obvious I was out in the rain.  But why? The kids wondered. ‘Mom what happened?” “snapes” I said, “Snapes happened,  big rude, entitled uncaring snapes a whole family of them.” I continued, “now we’ve got two big dents in the side of the car !”  “‘who did it?”  my son Cameron persisted.  “A woman driving a Behemoth gas guzzling Suburban with multiple kid- stunners (movie screens), rolled up in all of her superiority and crushed the side of the honda’s doors!”  Cameron was livid. I had unknowingly transferred my anger to my freshly tutored “A” student who is taking criminal justice and was in the law and government program at his high school. I felt a little bad for synopsizing the event in such a railing way.  Maybe I should have just NOT told my kids?  Naw…the truth is always the way.  Of course Cam wanted to run recon and get pictures of the woman’s license plate once she returned to pick up her little uber-scholar-demon. Of course…. I let them.  I needed that plate anyway to litigate.  We actually waited for an hour after tutoring was done, (was I being a little maniacal?)  I wondered for a hot second but was back to my anger the next.  Later I posited that there must be a website where you can tell your story, and publicly shame someone.  Vindication!? was it to be had? at least online in a public forum before I did all the footwork to make her pay? Well I never found that site but tonight I sure found something funny called “you pissed me off you bastard” Click on the link under the title of this blog, and enjoy the restless griping within a well written blog.  This gentleman hails from  the UK and talks about things that piss him off in general.  The gripes are both large and small but the laughs are big.  Just what I needed to let off some of the steam!  Cheers!

Some things don’t belong in a uterus…

Some of the things that don’t belong in a uterus are religion, Misplaced moral outrage, The G.O.P’s hankerings to limit access to contraceptives.  In our great country a woman can have control over her sexual life, her decision on when to have children.  We have choice. It is afforded us by law. The G.O.P.’s agenda asserts, though in a convoluted manner, that they ‘just trying to give employers the option to ‘not pay for contraception if they do not agree religiously.’ is hogwash.  Let’s call it what it is. It’s attempt to limit access, to control women’s lives, to invade their privacy.  At the 30,000 foot level, it seems to me to be but another step in a plan to bring church and state closer into alignment.  Do we really want to blur those lines?  How blurry does the G.O.P. want them? As blurry as  Iran? and Afghanistan?  Seems Ironic. It is very important to separate church and state.  In our great country, we have freedom to have religious expression, to bind ourselves with it, if we so choose, yet also the guarantee that our great country will not bind us with it. Allowing employers to decide whether we can or cannot have control over our uterus’s is absurd, and NOT what our forefathers wanted when they specified the need for separation of church and state.  If a company has the choice to forego contraceptive benefits based on ‘moral conviction’ then are we saying that further objections to sanctioned coverage can upend more women (and men’s) rights in our country.  This picture is about women right now, but the bigger picture is the blurring of church and state and potential loss of rights for all people based on ‘moral convictions.Image‘ 

The Cause is real. FIND KONY NOW

Is Invisible Children a sham? I don’t think so. This group was born out of the extreme desire to change a horrible human ongoing tragedy.  Out of it some pretty well connected and creative people ideated a way to get the extreme latent power of The American People moving as a massive force for change.  I call this an amazing social experiment that if it works will not only show common folk America it’s extreme power but hopefully move a specific tragic situation to a better outcome.  I.E., taking a ruthless killer out of business. The Invisible Children do alot with their money.  Building schools, re-building communities and making children  safer is not cheap.  Let’s not kid ourselves. Setting up communication venues so that incidents can be reported and hopefully acted upon quickly cannot be cheap either.  Collecting data about these atrocities is essential should Mr. Kony finally come to trial at The Hague.  They are hoping he eventually will.  He has too much blood on his hands for America to look away and conclude that “it’s all fine, it’s not happening anymore.”  How many families remember? How many families hurt everyday for their lost loved ones? How many have body parts that are missing and have to deal with an extreme handicap in a very unforgivable setting such as some of the remote villages they live in?  I say DO NOT FORGET ABOUT KONY.  America won’t go back to sleep.  We don’t always need to fight for money or for our claims, or just when we are directly threatened.  We can spare some of our vast resources to capture Kony for the ICC.  We can do this because it is right.  I believe that Invisible Children will pay for the capture of Kony as best it can contribute.  I can’t believe in my heart that the money they collect will go spent selfishly.  It’s ridiculous. America won’t let that happen!  That being said,  I totally “get” the girl from Uganda that made the video about Kony not really being a problem anymore and Uganda not being this ‘terrible place’ and that with all this media attention and money being spent on awareness kits, that other charities may lose funding.   I get that her Uganda is not this place of 24-7 horror where these atrocities are happening.  But that is her Uganda and yes Kony is moving, but that is what these criminals do!  they need to feed and feed they do, they move when the grass has been eaten! We know that Kony has moved from the area into Congo and is probably lying low as The Great Giant is now on his tail and more aware of his atrocities.  Last of all there is reason he’s number one on the ICC’s Most Wanted list.  When Hitler vacationed in Bergdorf he wasn’t done wreaking havoc on mankind.  He was just on vacation fathering a child.  Egregious things followed. Please follow the LRA Tracking app   that was set up to bring this entier process into the 21st century and keep the abuses on our radar.  Day by day the LRA is still active in Uganda and still rapes, murders and maims people.  It is only a matter of time before Kony ramps up and continues his disgusting plan.  He can’t be let off the hook and Americans can make a big thumping noise and move our government to see a positive end to these tragedies.  We’ve seen the power or Tunisia, Egypt, and the unrelenting belief in the power of the people in other nations in the area.  America still has the Occupy movement but this is different.  You don’t mess with Children.  ANYBODY’S CHILDREN.  FIND KONY NOW!! 

America must trust and act.