Bruce D. Ario

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Bruce D. Ario
ariowrite@earthlink.net
CREATED: 6/15/03
MODIFIED: 8/19/05
This site is dedicated to viewpoints expressed about an important societal issue. It seeks to create a dialogue between different ideas that are out there and to give equal opportunity to all views. The views are of the writers and not necessarily my own.

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Supported Employment Works
Level the Playing Field for Those with Mental Illness
- By Bruce Ario

Did you know?
People in the field have found a strong desire for employment.
Takeaways
Depression is the leading cause of disability.
Disabililty accounts for 16.1% of the Social Security payments.
Supported employment does work.
     Major mental illnesses account for 4 out of 10 leading causes for disability with depression being the number one cause. Disabled workers and families pull in 16.1% of the Social Security payments in any given month or 7.6 million recipients of SS are the disabled who often are disabled by a mental illness. With payouts in 2004 of $487 billion dollars; with current concerns about the viability of SS for the long term; with an unemployment rate of about 90% for those with major mental illness; with a strong desire to work as reported by many in the field; it makes sense to look for other options besides a SS Disability check each month. Supported employment is one of the best options out there. 
     Let an example illustrate. In Minneapolis, a non-profit agency called Tasks Unlimited has provided employment services for those with serious and persistent mental illness for over 25 years. They currently serve about 175 clients half of whom work full-time with a growing contingent all the time. If these 90 persons were institutionalized the cost would be at conservative numbers $9 million a year. Instead, through supported employment, they are costing taxpayers about $90,000 a year or 1% of the institutional costs. On top of this, they are paying taxes.
     Clients at Tasks Unlimited report high levels of satisfaction with their jobs and lives and are almost hospital-free. In addition to the job, Tasks offers housing, rec programs, an in-house pyschiatrist, and many other amenities designed to improve the conditions of those with major mental illness.
     Yet Tasks Unlimited runs into major opposition when it has tried to replicate similar programs around the country. Most opposition seems to come from the idea that either the mentally ill can't work or that they should work like everyone else, both ideas that Tasks has blown out of the water.
   Tasks has found that through a powerful medium of peer support and the addition of a job coach, that this population can indeed have success with employment. What it has done is to level the playing field for those with the illness to a reasonable level where despite devastating illness in many cases, the people can still work and be productive. It's pretty powerful when your co-worker understands rather than ostracizes you which is what happens so often without the support there.
    So, financially, supported employment is a win-win. The workers end up with more money and satisfaction in life and society is relieved of a big burden. There is just no excuse for not taking supported employment forward in this new century.


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Don't Let the Seniors Be Forgotten
Keep a Marginalized Group Involved
- By Bruce Ario

Did you know?
You'll be a senior some day.
Takeaways
Seniors need us and we need them.
They hold life experience.
There is a collective wisdom that is daunting.
     I drive the senior bus at my church. I consider it a much greater blessing for me than them although they would probably argue that knowing them. We've created a community onto itself on Sundays, and I am sure each week we're one step higher towards heaven.
     My life was very uneven before coming back to church some 20 years ago. I'll just admit that I had fallen away. When I got to church, I found out that it would be a good idea to get a ministry. I fumbled around until my church bought a new Ford van and asked me to drive on Sundays for the seniors.
     Having grown close to my grandparents before they died, I had an inkling of what was ahead of me. Now after many years, I know how little I know about this population. It's been said that Western Society does not respect the experience of its senior citizens. This is most certainly true. Many if not all of my riders would not be in church on Sundays if it wasn't for the bus. Their children either don't live nearby or don't have time or have some other reason for not being there. These folks, although fiercely independent for most of their lives, must now rely on someone.
     It's a shame society doesn't rely on them. The sage wisdom and experience with life that I encounter every Sunday has got me dependent. I'd feel like a limb was cut off if I was separated from this group. Not only have I found acceptance, I've found a ministry that holds deep meaning. Lately, I've been sharing my poetry with them. I've cornered an audience. Futhermore, an audience that will share their honest feelings. Old people just have no reason to lie.
     Most of the time we just ride quietly down the freeway to and from church, but in my heart, I know the love we hold for one another. They're not Confucius or Socrates but I sometimes think that collectively  they hold even more wisdom. It takes time to get to know them, but in return, I've found they have a lot of time to share back. Do yourself a favor, get involved with the seniors.



LOSING
THE
ROSEBUSH
Bruce D. Ario
1994
 
Rosebush, Ario - 2
 
Looking Away
The rosebush was planted in the spring
quixotic flower protected by thorns.
In my narrowed garden I sing
replacing grief with a physical thing.
I am a dog without a tail, ox without horns;
the rosebush was planted in the spring.
I cared for it and watched its fling.
The flower is life and my awkwardness scorns;
in my narrowed garden I sing.
A delicate plant with zing.
The flower looks at me and hears my mourns.
The rosebush was planted in the spring,
a gentle emotion pretty thing.
My heart remembers a child and forlorns,
in my narrowed garden I sing.
The flower stands to take me under its wing
over my body and feet with corns.
The rosebush was planted in the spring;
in my narrowed garden I sing.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 3
 
Untitled
A brook runs in silence through the woods
moving ever slowly, curvously.
It's pretty in its diminutive state.
Somewhere and sometime
the brook will encounter a larger stream
losing its separateness to a broader power.
I am sad for the brook, and sad for me
we are microscopic to the whole.
But the direction of life leads me toward more,
Becoming a grander scheme of life.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 4
 
Untitled
Unmitigated rain swells...
Water is all that can be seen
For miles and miles...
All that the moisture
Brought to life at first
Is now drowned.
My tears flow in a stream down my
Face into the ocean.
The problem. A contributor.
I'll remain in sorrow.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 5
 
A Kind of Connection
Your eyes held a different truth
Than the one in my mind.
Your eyes wide and alert
Determined and full of questions.
We could not even find compromise
Nor could we find relief.
Your eyes were summoning me
But too cautiously.
I could not penetrate them.
Your eyes were restrained
Yet held a good vigor.
You reached out for my hand
But your eyes stunned me.
I had to temporarily turn away.
Your eyes were strong.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 6
 
So You've Been to the Cross
So you've been to the cross have you?
And you saw my Lord up there too
His pain and anguished screams.
What did you gather up there my friend?
Moments? Lifetimes?
When you were done you closed your eyes
Didn't you?
You could see no way to go on,
Remember
He died for us.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 7
 
Promise
I didn't keep a promise I made to you.
Things got tough.
I would like to say it doesn't matter
Perhaps you'll never know.
I tore it all up in my heart;
It's too late.
Changes already felt.
Truly I waited a long time
Biting my lip.
I'll make a new promise;
A new committment is in my hand.
It was mostly hype anyway,
A lot of hard looks.
Don't look away!
A solution is...
 
Rosebush, Ario - 8
 
A Taste of Honey and a Taste of Vinegar
After you were there I got a signal
Which eased painful retreat.
I wasn't interested in the fight anymore
Because the harshness of battle had distorted my eye.
It wasn't you I was fighting anyway was it?
I tasted honey.
Four sleepless nights I scattered
Thoughts recklessly around the world I had come to know.
You - out from all else that I could see,
I wanted you to know that I cared.
There was the other, the unfinished business -
Clearing my eye torn apart by pride.
A taste of vinegar soothed the throat.
A taste of honey and a taste of vinegar almost like out of a
brochure.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 9
 
Again Dylan
I had to go out and get a needle for my stereo
Because I hadn't listened to Dylan for a couple of weeks
Because my stereo had broken down from playing Dylan too much.
Dylan Thomas?
No, Bob Dylan.
You have to know my life..
He was there when nearly all else fell
He sang my mind
He knew the blow to my heart
So again Dylan and again and again.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 10
 
Dusk
The evening sun kisses the sky goodnight
With a farewell of rose colored brilliance.
The bus I'm riding heads east away from the display
So I must look over my shoulder
And back towards the West
As I think about the earth rotating.
The darkness moves in over the streetlights
Suspended somewhere between here and the moon
While children quickly ride their bikes home.
It's Friday night and another week passes.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 11
 
Floor
I've been working on floors
After I took that fall
From the sky.
I've been shining them
While I was there
And since I had the time.
I know what it means
To be on
The bottom -
To touch cold ground.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 12
 
Grandma
I talked to you last Friday night
And then you were gone.
The snow looks so white;
It's chilly outside.
No more phone calls...
]
No more
admonitions, stories, or worries...secrets.
All of my thoughts trail off
From a loving memory.
You were there when I needed you
You are where you need to be now.
It isn't goodbye
Because death turns to a new relationship...
You are 98 years old and growing
 
                                                          upward.
                                                      touch
                                             light
                                         your
                                     trace
                                 I
Your gentle ways pass on...
 
Rosebush, Ario - 13
 
Memory: Grandfather
Cantankerous yes. Stubborn yes. Proud yes
You held me in abeyance
While I drifted down time's course
In the recesses of your mind.
I needed your signature in my life
Because we were flesh and blood
I wasn't sure...
So many things...
I had something to say;
You cautioned me against saying it.
Now you are gone
Except in my memory.
Did you learn from me, or did I ever help you
Over that hill which I was climbing?
Silently you went that night in the hospital
Like a sea lion swimming out to sea.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 14
 
I'm Lodged In
Roof overhead, carpet underfoot -
No more free wandering.
The river is a
Tap water stream.
The poison of shelterless ideas
Dissipated - stray glances into the air.
Comfortably
Like a hundred-ringed tree.
The only thing is...
I can't forget open skys or endless highways.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 15
 
In Brief
The brevity of life
Ticks in my watch
Slapped on my left wrist
And I pick up the pace
Then slow down
To see the Phillips screws on the machines.
Somewhere a cat meows
Longing for attention.
I stand unadorned
Ashamed and half-broken-hearted.
Before I die I must go back,
Back to a spot which may never have been.
Clearly it is a time of warning
For me who dreamed endlessly.
The rosebushes are covered;
It's winter out there.
Someone's telling me,
"Live for today."
I must collect, always collect
Myself who spins like everyone else.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 16
 
In the Palm of God's Hand
Through fields of grass and water
Over meadows, streams, and floods,
I have come.
Reading texts, singing hymns, and reciting prayers
Walking down lonely streets under the glow of a light
Rest in the palm.
I've searched, sought, swept clean
And still fought battles
Until I really heard
God's hand.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 17
 
It's Over
The way it ends
It sears through skin and bones
LIke they're paper.
It enters the realm of the soul
Where demons
Could pervert my natural way.
Then like golden droplets,
There is a new beginning.
If it goes somewhere
It's all O.K.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 18
 
It was You
The way you look at me it's like spikes
Going through my eyes.
No not you...
Someone that looked like you,
Who fell down, fell under, fell over.
The way you look at me it's like spikes
Going through my eyes.
No not you...
Someone who cared, someone who dared,
Someone with whom I shared.
The way you look at me it's like spikes
Going through my eyes.
Not not you...
Someone I made love to.
It was you wasn't it?
 
Rosebush, Ario - 19
 
I've been a Word
I've been a word in a poem
A song in the air
And a whisper at night.
The thinness of my soul at times
Has caused me to look
Enviously at handrails or trees.
Don't bump me
While I dissolve;
Give me more time...
Another way to last.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 20
 
Just as I Looked
As I looked out on trees,
Sunshine, grass,
And everything else
Outside my hospital window,
I knew I released
The Spirit
To a far better fate
Than to be trapped
Painfully
Inside this confined body.
Why then did I cry such bitter tears?
I kept my mouth shut.
I had let go a gentle friend
And released a kind voyageur
Who had proven too strong
For any fleshy incarceration.
It must really have been God
Who I was witnessing
In that religious experience
Prior to this moment at the window
Because He left me so softly
Like a tear.
Then I knew He wasn't leaving me at all,
A loving Spirit, He was showing me a new way.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 21
 
Lofting it into Friendship
I may have had designs, I don't really know.
It's all unimportant now
Because she just wants to be friends.
I've heard the words before -
The sound of a yellow light blinking
Its warning.
Friendship, though, that's not bad.
It could have taken worse turns.
I could be thankful.
Friends is where it ends.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 22
 
Looking Inward
I've gotten a sanctuary
Still as the night
Which precedes the dawn.
I am found there
About fifteen minutes before work
In a philospohical twirl
Between sleep and the day
In a building sanctuary room.
With a can of Coke
I unwind and wind.
Hollow walls, hollow lights
You are a pal;
Keep me in your sights.
...knowing I have a place.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 23
 
My Coffee and I
At five o'clock I'm off work,
And by five-thirty
I meet my cup of coffee downtown.
I'm on the skyway sipping
From my cup -
So warm and good.
The people I watch below from above
Look like they're part way -
More than nothing, but less than full.
My cup and I finish with a heavy gulp.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 24
 
No Sleep
They were up with me last night -
Those who line up in their cars on the highway this morning
With their black-ringed eyes and uneven smiles.
These people have eyes as big as the moon
That they were howling at
Like a fenced in junkyard dog.
People this morning who last night
Stayed awake in their dreams
Staring madly at the ceiling
Until it fell down with the ringing alarm clock.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 25
 
Past and Over
I'm just glimpsing at the sights
Out of either corner of my eyes
As I walk through.
It's distinctly buried -
What I tried to bring to the surface -
Like a treasure in heaven.
I'd like to escape if you would
To a new picture...
A ring of life
That's sharp like a surgeon's knife.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 26
 
Putting on the Brakes
I saw men twisted turning,
Women looking up
But seeing no sun.
I saw myself on a mountain
Of power
With no top on my head
So I put on the brakes
And saw men smile,
Women breathing relief
The time I put on the brakes.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 27
 
Remorseful
Shedding tears over it all
As if to drink
By raining down on the parade.
Marshmellow man realizing somehow
To pay dues
Must mean you have to say you're sorry.
His haircut looks like a bowl
And white sox.
It's a release to believe
Something so evident could fall.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 28
 
Sweet Release
I'm looking for sweet release
Like the pitcher's hand
Releasing the ball to the batter.
Alone and stymied
With a mural of sadness
I can barely see the sun and moon.
Flight from my shadow
And beyond the view of the window
Is where I'd like to fly -
Somewhere I'll never ever die.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 29
 
The Pink Closet
Walking home I see
The bent branch on the tree -
Looks like a pitcher's arm
About to release a curve.
Waiting for the bus -
The building downtown
Walks up eight or ten floors...
And I am gone.
I think back to my youth
And my secret secrets
Of my younger age
With my sensitivities invested
In rich riches and sweet sweets...
And how I tried to void the pink closet
When I grew older, wiser, sterner.
Then I lay grasping for the pitcher's branch...
I gasped my way through strange buildings.
Just like the pitcher's strike -
As tall as any ten story building -
The pink fell out of my eyes like sand,
And I walked on as a man.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 30
 
The Tightrope
High above the artist walks
The thin path over the rope
Miles above the crowd.
Impressive the view,
But dangerous the height,
Still clasping a bar for balance.
Just the purpose
Is as far from his mind
As cats and water
Because he finds himself lost.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 31
 
Trickle of Ice in July
There still is a trickle of ice in my bones
Even though it's way past winter and into July.
It just hasn't stopped raining for so long
That I haven't gotten a chance to warm up and enjoy summer.
Winter left a trickle of ice in my life
Causing me to shiver and my soul to quake.
I'm not uneasy or panicky -
Just a little cold because of winter and all.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 32
 
You
You, you, you,
I want to say you.
Seems so hard not to say me
Or mine or I got...
I want to say you!
 
Rosebush, Ario - 33
 
Gone Away
Beyond a grasp I could contain,
A feeling of greatness and snap.
Too many roses on the bush
Now a single bud.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 34
 
My Soul
Wonderment at the roots of life;
To find the eternal flame
What a joy and surprise.
I am exasperated by the search
Especially because it is just begun.
What is found there must be sorted out
Like a pile of laundry ruffled but clean
To be separated individually
And folded or put neatly on hangers
In compartments of my dresser or closet
Like the shelves or rooms of my soul.
I walk through life showing just so much
Of what my life is about
Mostly because there is so much I don't know myself
I go on faith and courage.
Peaceful be my journey
Taking the thorns off the path
Before venturing a walk
Out into the light and open areas.
 
Rosebush, Ario - 35
 
The Dog in Heaven
Confronting the contradictions in the Bible
Was quite a proposition
For me - a wannabe Christian.
I didn't like to see
Anything left out of something
So beautiful.
I'm referring to Revelations.
I was O.K. with leaving out
Murderers, idolaters, even the sexually immoral,
But somehow I just couldn't agree with leaving out the
dogs.

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Creating Creativity by Bruce Ario
Many opportunities and rewards are lost because creativity in the workplace is absent. Instead of having a productive and stimulating environment, workers are faced with boredom as a result of relentless routine.
This translates into absenteeism and low morale. It should be the job of the manager to reverse this phenomenon to create a positive and invigorating atmosphere.
The biggest pleasure for a worker is to participate fully in their job. They need to be completely present in order to achieve satisfaction. This means workers need to have the freedom to be the best they can be.
All the tools a worker needs to deliver a quality product must be made available. A worker who feels underemployed is not happy and productive.
This is where creativity comes in. As humans, we are creative beings. It is a fundamental quality we have and it is also necessary in the workplace. Creativity which is harnessed - if that's an oxymoron, it still is true - can be linked to higher productivity and a more positive workplace. It is a well that never dries up.
In their book, Corporate Creativity, authors Alan G. Robinson and Sam Stern skillfully argue creativity is essential to the workplace. They accept that as so obvious they spend little time to justify it as indispensable.
They go one step further and focus on the fact that in most companies, potential creativity far exceeds creative performance. They claim most creative acts are unplanned and come from and out of situations where it would least be expected. The real power of creativity then lies in the unexpected. The manager must set up an environment where creativity flows.
How do we go about that? One big step is to realize creativity probably got a bad rap from many sources along the way. "Johnny must know the nuts and bolts," "Suzy must hide those silly ideas." From our teachers on into adulthood, much of our influence has been to conform. Do the safe thing. Don't take risks. Do what everyone else is doing. We can view our lives as one long effort to tow the line.
What a joy then when we can see another side. It's like a precious gift. Allowing and even promoting creativity is like that. For once we can be out of the box. We can bring our most fundamental instinct to bear and, at work, no less. Won't everything fall apart if everyone is going willy-nilly around doing their own independent thing?
No, it doesn?t mean that. Creativity is not equivalent to anarchy. It is different in an essential way. Creativity is an instinct to produce. Anarchy is an absence of any structure. Creativity can bring home the bacon. Anarchy at its best is a passing fancy under a corrupt system. If you link the two together, you are making a blinding mistake. I know managers want and need to maintain control, but the real issue is, how much are you producing? It's tough for your workers to work under a whip. We need to let them be their best. In the long run we will see how this really helps the company. It's more than just "a happy worker is a good worker". It's more "a happy worker is the only kind of worker". Allow them the freedom to be creative.
This involves letting go of a little control. Your workers will seize control back whether you sanction it or not. They will call in sick. They won't work 100 percent. They are many little ways they can silently revolt. However, it you let them know they have some latitude, you have immediately circumvented the control game.
Besides, an opportunity for creativity is not a path to bedlam. The employees still know the work must get done, but now they have a chance for their input to make a difference. Different jobs allow varying degrees in how much the individual can do things his or her way. Some jobs require strict adherence to a systematic method. Nevertheless, there is always room for some input into the process by the workers.
In many situations, a common occurrence is a worker will discover a new way of doing a job clearly superior to the method previously used. Workers who are "hands on" have the best perspective on how to do a job. Their suggestions can end up saving a company a lot of money. In addition, the worker with the idea gets a lot of satisfaction from the implementation of his or her idea.
How then do we go about facilitating creativity in the workplace? In Corporate Creativity, the authors laid out "The Six Essential Elements of Corporate Creativity":
1. Alignment
2. Self-initiated activity
3. Unofficial activity
4. Serendipity
5. Diverse stimuli
6. Within-company communication
Alignment is about ensuring the interests and actions of all employees are directed toward a company's key goals. Self-initiated activity is allowing an employee to pick out problems they are interested in and feel able to solve. Unofficial activity occurs in the absence of direct official support and with the intent of doing something new and useful. Serendipity is the chance for fortunate accidents. Diverse stimuli happen in the course of everyday work, and it is important workers discuss the possibilities they encounter, which is the final element, within-company communication.
This ground-laying for corporate creativity that serves to benefit the company, is also relevant to workers' creativity. There are at least three elements which are needed for this type of creativity.
1. Workers? ownership of their work.
2. A flexible workplace.
3. Managers who are directors and not taskmasters.
Workers, who spend a large part of their day at a job, need a connection between the work they do and their own ideas. They are not puppets but free agents who have agreed to do the work. It is a two-way street between bosses and workers. The boss cannot place him/herself in the seat of power and ignore the needs of the workers. Both parties have a legitimate stake in the work at hand. Both sides need understanding.
The workplace must allow for variances in the personalities and work styles of the employees. We are all a little different. That's why the workplace must adjust to meet the needs of its individuals. This Is not to say personalities dominate.
It is the exact opposite. The workplace must be a melting pot of individuals who bring their talents to contribute to the production of a good.
When these workers can be allowed to express their own sense of creativity, that?s when work gets done.
It is the manager's job to direct this scenario. A person is needed to guide the workers through the production process. Always open-minded to new possibilities, the manager becomes the one who sows the seeds and reaps part of the harvest.
The manager must be ready to reap a varied harvest. It may be a harvest that is not anticipated - this is fine and maybe even optimal. If the manager is directing for production, then he or she must allow their producers to produce. Give your workers the opportunity to adapt the job to their style.
Some employees will be more creative than others. These employees will be most effective for you when they are given a chance to use their input.
A skillful manager will not cramp their style. You've got to believe in your workers - they are mature, responsible and reliable.
More than that, they can excel when given the opportunity. Using the six elements of corporate creativity or some variation of them can guide workers along an uphill path and can bring the profit curve pointing up.
As for the workers, they will enjoy their jobs more when they feel an increased level of their own input.
The satisfaction of hands-on involvement has been consistently recognized by companies in the last few decades. When you give the staff their freedom, you are saying, "You are a valuable employee."

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