10/13/2003

 

Local Heroes

 

First a follow-up on my last column on the “Patriot Act”. After that column was submitted, the New York Times reported on 9/28 that the act is already being used for all sorts of investigations beyond terror, from illegal drugs to white-collar crime. So, the extraordinary powers in the act are already spilling out of their intended area of use, as was only too predictable.

 

Today's subject is on a more positive note, though. Prescott is full of charities, good causes, and the many people that make them happen. Some are high-profile events. Some are just the work of dedicated individuals that not many people are aware of. There are enough of these angels in our midst that chances are you know some. I'm fortunate to know some too. From time to time I'd like to introduce you to some of them. Today, it's Pawl Katan (yes, with a "w").

 

Pawl is one of the most relentlessly positive people I know. He applies that positive attitude to a seemingly endless series of local charitable causes.

 

He is a key member of Food, not Bombs, a group that reclaims food that would be thrown away and turns it into nourishing meals for anyone who needs it, or simply for anyone who wants to join in. Meals are provided three days a week on the Courthouse Square. About 90 meals a week are served that way. It's all vegetarian, and comes from goods that otherwise would go to waste, from sources around town such as New Frontiers over on Iron Springs, and Biff's Bagels and Pangaea Bakery behind Whiskey Row. Food, Not Bombs reviewed their plans with the downtown partnership, the sheriff’s office, and the Health Department before initiating meals at the square because Pawl always tries to do things in as cooperative a fashion as possible.

 

Another project is Bike 2000. Its intent is to encourage bicycling in Prescott by helping people have good, useable bikes. The Salvation Army is making 1000 sq. ft. of space available for a shop to rebuild and repair bikes. Space, tools, and expertise will be on hand to help those who need to fix or build a bike. Recycled bikes are reworked and, among other things, given to others deeply involved in volunteer work in Prescott.

 

Pawl was also key in launching the skate park project. Having an ear to the ground he knew there was a need for one, so he organized a meeting to explore the idea. Among those he brought in were Michael Fann, Gordon Maddox, and Jim McCasland. It was out of this start that Mr. McCasland made park space available for the project.

 

Another project is FLOWERS (Fuel Liberated Of Waste Energy Resource Systems), which aims to develop a consistent system of gathering local deep-fryer fat and other oils that can be used in local bio-diesel vehicles.

 

In his spare time Pawl does free coverage of various political and related events, and documentaries, which air on local access channel 13.

 

Pawl has lived in Prescott off and on since he was 12 and moved back here in 1999. His positiveness is not just some pie-in-the-sky blind cheerfulness, though he is cheerful. Rather, even in a contentious situation he finds some practical positive aspect and works with that. That's why he focuses on galvanizing coalitions to address some practical problem without actually putting himself at the center of it.

 

If you'd like to get involved in any of these causes, or talk with Pawl about his other activities or ideas you may have for community involvement, he'd be glad to hear from you. You can contact him at pawlkat@yahoo.com.

 

Tom Cantlon’s column appears every other Monday. www.tomcantlon.com