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Common Ground: Books give us a glimpse into others

The yards of yellow police tape wrapped around a stack of popular books and movie titles at one library might have some a little confused. Iberville Parish librarian Elizabeth Haynes is giving readers a chance to celebrate the freedom to read once-censored books at the Plaquemine library’s Banned Book Read-out on Sept. 25.… Continue reading →

Mr. Mom and creamy red beans

Shortly after arriving home from work, my husband called me to the bedroom where I found him sitting in his recliner, eyes wide and glued to the television. “Boo, you’ve got to see this,” he told me as he pressed the DVR button and paused an image of Dr. Oz on the television. I… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Cancer can strike anyone at any age

Andreka S. Boyd

At age 12, Andreka S. Boyd was a carefree youngster who loved hanging out in the mall, riding her bike and dancing. Her only complaint was the uncomfortable pain she sometimes felt in her stomach. On Jan. 31, 2000, the pain grew unbearable, and Boyd called her parents to excuse her from her sixth-grade history class at… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Shopping for convenience mid-week

Everything in my refrigerator seems to disappear on Wednesday. If I’m looking for an egg, it’s gone. If I want a glass of milk, the jug is empty; cereal is out, and the bread bag is reduced to one crusty slice. Without a doubt, it is time to head for the convenience store near my… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Sidelined star just fine with Coach Mom

Following my son’s sports physical exam this month, the doctor gave our 9-year-old a bit of crushing news. “You cannot play football right now,” the doctor told him. My son’s eyes filled with tears. He’d already told his uncles, cousins and friends that he was playing an offensive position in tackle football and traveling with… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Summer ends with a splash

My family bypassed this summer’s water park crowds, speed slides, extreme rides and wave pools for something much more relaxing and off the beaten path. In our quest to find a kid-friendly park in a quiet area, a cousin coaxed us into taking a last-minute before back-to-school day trip to an 80-acre, freshwater lake and aqua park… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Colorful B&W breaks from gloom

After spending much of the summer overdosing on zombie raids, alien invasions and apocalyptic clashes, it’s no wonder I have switched to Turner Movie Classics and “The Andy Griffith Show.” It’s a nice break from all of the noisy and sometimes just plain ridiculous doomsday plots that inundate television and movies these days.… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Shopping for school can be stressful

Like it or not, the second biggest shopping season of the year is here, and back-to-school ads and store uniform displays are in no short supply. Parents, including me, are already feeling the stressful financial pinch and searching for ways to save money, whether it’s through comparative shopping or finding apps that deliver mobile coupons or even… Continue reading →

Common Ground: July focuses on minority mental health

I was shocked to learn that mental illness is a leading cause of disability in the United States. The illness affects about one in four adults and one in 10 children. And although the figures are the same among minorities and multicultural groups, there are some differences. I have relatives and friends who live… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Walk a mall in their shoes this summer

Thank goodness for malls. Shortly after bringing my children to their summer camps each morning, I head to the mall in southeast Baton Rouge to join the mall walkers. I made a switch in my walking venue after the weather turned sweltering. I used to exercise on park walking paths with my sisters-in-law and… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Drinking in the cool side of summer

It is hard to pass up a fast food restaurant’s cool drink special in July when every outdoor moment in south Louisiana can leave you drenched in sweat. If the sign advertises discounted drinks (I’m not talking alcohol) in many delicious flavors and for a limited time, I’m there. I cannot refuse a… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Family is still sticking together

It’s been about 50 years since my family on my father’s side held its first reunion in north Louisiana. As my Aunt Ruby, my father’s eldest sister and the family matriarch, always says, “reunions help keep us together.” Indeed, they do. Aunt Ruby recalled the first 1960s Warren reunion at a Shreveport park where… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Unpacking memories for children

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a box that I’d tucked away on a high shelf in the garage. I opened the box and found parts of my parent’s old wedding scrapbook, a few baby photos, my favorite church dress and a 1984 TV Guide with listings for “The Love Boat” and “Trapper John,… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Keeping the fear out of the water

It was Belinda Givens’ own childhood fear of water that convinced her to put her three children, a niece and a nephew into a swim and safety class this month. Givens, of Baton Rouge, recalled panicking in the water as a youngster and avoiding pools out of fear. “I don’t ever want to have my children… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Haven of love and security

Heather and Juan Andricain have some lessons to share about how they turned their house into a haven of love, laughter and security for children. Two years ago, the Andricains became foster parents. “I don’t think people realize what a challenge it is to go to work one morning with no child… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Learning how to make people smile

I’m normally in a rush to cross the Mississippi River bridge where East and West Baton Rouge meet. But if there’s an afternoon traffic jam on top of the bridge, I just might take a moment to look through my window and watch the river’s current or follow the paths of barges and tugboats.… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Paving road ahead with education

Growing up in a developing country, Beatrice Kariuki often worried about children who were dying of preventable diseases. She and her family moved here from Kenya three years ago for better opportunities. Last week, Kariuki graduated from Broadmoor High, earning her school’s second highest academic honor. Now, the 17 year old wants to… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Home from college to learn things

Last fall, my husband’s eldest son moved out of our home and into a college dorm. A couple of days ago, he finished his last final exam and moved back in with us — unloading everything into his old room and in the hallway. Small kitchen appliances, a flat screen television, a video game system, several… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Teens need to talk out big decisions

Scotlandville Magnet High School junior Ailiyah Goins uses creative methods to encourage her classmates to make wise choices. She distributes anti-drug messages on lollipop wrappers, posts colorful anti-drug/anti-bullying signs in the school’s hallways and encourages her classmates to think twice about their decisions. She stays involved. Last year, Goins became an I Care Advisory Board… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Muppets back for new generation

The Muppets appear to be back on top, and I can’t seem to get enough of the furry, wisecracking creatures. For a while it seemed the Muppets had fallen off the radar, relegated to old VHS movies and DVDs. Now they are in commercials and movies and their hits can be downloaded from iTunes.… Continue reading →

Common Ground: What’s in store for us in The Future?

If we thought that last century’s inventions, things like cell phones and space travel, were amazing, consider what’s coming. Driverless cars, computing implants that feed us digital information, custom-built body organs, changes to the DNA of prospective children and robots to care for the aged are just some of the technologies that a survey… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Students get field trip to Safety Town

Imagine giving kindergarteners the chance to drive on busy roads complete with railroad tracks, one-way streets and stop lights. “Vrmmmm! Watch me! Watch me!” said one small boy, as he zoomed across a railroad track and through a red light inside the miniature town. I was with a group of 5- and 6-year-olds on… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Listening to others helps us all out

Graduating senior Tammy Garner, 18, wears a hearing aid, reads lips, can use sign language and she talks. Her biggest challenge has been to show those who can hear that she is just as smart, capable and intelligent as they are. “Everywhere I go, it’s hard for deaf people to communicate (with the… Continue reading →

Common Ground: We’re all in this world together

Store customers carrying a handful of quickie items lined up behind my two packed carts in the checkout line at a neighborhood dollar store. Dollar stores are supposed to be places where folks can run in and run out with a couple of things. On that particular day, my cart was loaded with everything from cereal,… Continue reading →

Common Ground: There’s no substitute for experience

About a year ago, I wrote about my experience as a “very green” substitute teacher. In that column, I recalled the second-grade student who called me “that nice lady,” and the ecstatic expressions among her classmates who figured that they could pull my leg and twist my arm. I would be swarmed by students, tapping… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Writing on the wall seen more clearly

The first of my many visits to the optometrist began my kindergarten year in 1975 when I started squinting to see the letters on the classroom chalkboard. At the time, my eye doctor prescribed lenses made of real glass and I picked a whimsical frame that made me feel happy about wearing glasses. My… Continue reading →

Common Ground: In honor of our friend, the bridge

It’s nearly impossible to drive in Louisiana and not cross a bridge over a bayou, river or swamp. That is why many folks in my surrounding community are frustrated with the recent closure of the La. 77 bridge in Grosse Tete. A barge slammed into the swing bridge in late February, stopping commuters from… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Women’s history gains perspective

Both of my grandmothers were homemakers and deeply spiritual women who raised large families during segregated times in north Louisiana. They were women with fewer choices, who lived simpler lives. They weren’t employed or well-educated, but they worked with their husbands to care for their homes and educate their children. My grandmothers are long… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Better ways to succeed in the world

In his youth, Kevin Guillard made some serious mistakes. He stayed in the streets and in the clubs, neglected his schooling and eventually spent about eight years in jail. He’s not proud of that, but he has begun living differently. Now 28, Guillard writes books and talks to young men about rechanneling their lives away… Continue reading →

Common Ground: It’s not always easy to declutter

Spring cleaning is probably one of my least anticipated activities this month. It’s a mega-size chore that can take weeks, even months. And because I’m a pack rat, at least according to my husband and my mother, there are many layers of stuff that need to be excavated. I have humbly invited my mother… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Men needed to instill joys of reading

A unique literacy program is aiming to help young boys avoid the pitfalls of crime by encouraging them to pick up a book, dream and challenge themselves. Boys to Books Not Bars is heading up efforts in the Baton Rouge area next month to pair mentors and tutors with boys in pre-kindergarten through third grade.… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Winter blast taught us a few lessons

Last week’s record-breaking freezing temperatures and icy roads made us all take a second look at the power of wintry weather and its effects on the Baton Rouge area. We’ve all “hunkered down” in hurricane weather. But this season’s extreme winter forced us to pay even closer attention to the cold weather warnings and roadway traffic advisories.… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Warming up to the idea of camping

My 9-year-old son and I were clueless campers, ill-prepared to handle the frigid temperatures that beset us on our first camping trip together this month. Thankfully, well-seasoned campers from Pack 21 loaned us blankets, a portable heater and flashlight, hot food and a cozy spot by the campfire. Initially, I declined to go. “It’s… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Maybe you’ll be thanked some day

I enrolled my oldest daughter in an etiquette and cotillion program last fall, certain she’d want to go. Instead, she pouted, cried and begged me to take her out of it. Apparently, this program would be the worst thing that could happen to her. “Mommy, please,” she said. “I don’t want to do this.”… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Leadership is not bound by gender

A woman as the head of a boys leadership academy was a challenging role Tonya Robertson took on in 2005. Even when others said a woman couldn’t successfully be in charge of Young Leaders Academy of Baton Rouge, she believed the program’s mission to promote integrity, courage, perseverance and responsibility, superseded gender. She also knew she… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Still striving to be the best he can be

Four years ago, I wrote about a teenager who earned a perfect score on the ACT exam. Steven Olsen, then a 15-year-old Baton Rouge Magnet High honor student, was among a fraction of students nationwide who had accomplished the feat of acing a college entrance exam. These days, Steven rides camels in Africa, snowboards… Continue reading →

Set goals and stick with them in 2014

A couple of weeks ago following a workout, a fellow gym member caught me pulling a box of doughnuts from my trunk and eating one in the parking lot. She shook her finger and laughed. “I caught you,” she said. I tried to hide the doughnut, but it was too late so I… Continue reading →

Don’t miss meaning of Christmas

During past Christmas celebrations, my parents decorated our home in holly and wreaths, hung twinkling lights from the roof and placed a live fir tree in the living room. They filled the car trunk with colorful shopping bags and lined the tops of their closet shelves with presents wrapped in red, green and gold gift… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Coffee? Why yes, I’ll have another cup

There are about a half dozen bottles of coffee creamers in my refrigerator. Everything from those new holiday blends with pumpkin spice and cinnamon crème, to my favorite mocha, hazelnut and French vanilla. Before flavored coffees and lattes became the rage, I rarely drank coffee. These days, you can’t pull me away. A hot mocha… Continue reading →

“They’re hot!” I screamed, and pulled into the Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop on Plank Road. At the sight of the flashing “hot” light, I bounced in my seat, a lot like I did as a girl during my family’s occasional outings to the shop for those “melt-in-your-mouth” glazed doughnuts. “Mommy, I’ve never seen you… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Technology trumps nostalgia

Remember when you only had a telephone at home, the office and in phone booths? And for entertainment you drove to your nearest video store to rent movies?? Me, too. My children, however, are so young they have no idea what a phone booth is (other than the one on display at the Main Library), and… Continue reading →

Common Ground for Nov. 27, 2013

New Around Town column sig for Chante warren    00004474a

How important are the people who have helped make you who you are? I asked about half a dozen people about the significant people in their lives and how those relationships have contributed to make their lives more fulfilling. Several people said its was parents, family members, close friends, teachers or coaches who… Continue reading →

Common Ground: Universities risk dimming our futures

As Louisiana’s higher education board grapples with continuing remedial level college classes at four-year schools, the issue reminds me of my challenges during my first semester at LSU in the fall of 1987. At that time, I juggled two remedial courses, two or three college-level classes and a part-time student job. I wanted to become a… Continue reading →

Common Ground for Nov. 15, 2013

Shootings inside malls and schools and most recently at the Greater Baton Rouge State fair prompted questions from my children about their safety. My youngest daughter, who is 7, wants to be a school teacher. But when a recent headline flashed across our television screen announcing yet another shooting, this one at a Nevada Middle School, and… Continue reading →