Defining Homes • Super (re)model

Remodeler Chris Sandlin says slow your roll before that redux

Wingren-Kitchen-5By Jonanna Widner

As a third-generation homebuilder and remodeler, it’s no surprise that Chris Sandlin opted out of a journalism career and instead chose the family business. He made the change in 2005 and with such a history of the industry in his blood already, Sandlin brings a fairly unique perspective to the market.

“I’m 30 years old, which is relatively young compared to others in my position,“ he says. “But I put a lot of time and energy into the right team of workers and sub-contractors to customers’ homes so the end result lives up to what the homeowners deserve. As a gay business owner, I’m happy in providing stellar home services to the community.”

Before moving forward with that remodel, Sandlin says to think before demolishing.

Wingren-Master-Bath-2Know when to remodel: “I commonly work with homeowners to determine whether it makes more sense to remodel or move. I approach each situation openly and honestly, and try my best to suggest what I think would be best, even if that means I don’t win the job.”

Remodel before selling: “This is usually the case with older homes that have not been remodeled recently. Homeowners accept my guidance for what sells. I have a good combination of experience in the homebuilding and real estate industry.

“There is a catch-22 here. If the house sells quickly, homeowners in won’t have time to experience the finished remodel project which tends to be the kitchen or master bath.”

“This can happen very easily. Most $250,000 homes do not need a $50,000 bathroom redo, nor does a $300,000 home need a $100,000 commercial grade kitchen. A wide variety of factors need to be considered, including how long they plan to stay in the home, what’s the budget, how it adds to the home’s value.“

Budget help: “When in the budgeting/planning phase with homeowners, research the values of nearby homes, especially with remodels. This has been helpful in concrete figures regarding their remodel, as well as experienced conjectures about how the remodel will affect the home’s future value.”

Don’t rush the details:  ”Too many homeowners want to rush into their project without a clear vision. Step back, assess the project and come up with a plan. With that, the end result will be everything the homeowner wants. Rushing into it without a plan will only result in more time, money and headaches.”

Going green: “This is an area I take pride in. As a certified green professional through the National Association of Homebuilders, I integrate green philosophies and I want to minimize waste factor and landfill component as much as possible.”

“I started making many green features as my standard a long time ago because I feel it’s the right way to build and remodel. I’m happy to see more homeowners interested in these options.”

DIY:  “I’m happy to help prepare homeowners for what they would encounter if doing it on their own. Sometimes it works out just fine, with small jobs that don’t require licensed tradesmen or city permits. When it comes to larger jobs, people need to know if they honestly have the time to do this in addition to the day job.”DH

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.



















—  Kevin Thomas

“The Better Person” Standard For Marginalized Peoples

Teaching moments are wonderful, but I think that no marginalized person is obligated to swallow justified hurt and anger to better “teach” the privileged or “squash” the mess or racism. That people of color are nearly always asked to do so in the face of prejudice is spiritually wearying and a tyranny.

I wrote this over on Love Isn’t Enough in response to a parent who wondered how to address the impact of his aunt’s racism on his mixed-race family. But, you know, it’s not just people of color who are constantly expected to show extraordinary compassion when faced with bias. It is women, gays, lesbians and transgendered persons. It is the disabled, the obese, immigrants and the poor. Ask any marginalized person and it is a safe bet that they have been told “have a sense a humor,” “don’t be so PC,” “that’s just how so-and-so was raised,” “here’s a great teaching moment, “you have to understand some people won’t be comfortable with x, y, z,” “he didn’t really mean it.”

Today, when an “ism” shows its face, too much public sympathy rests with the offender and not the offended. As I’ve written before, in these times, hearing someone branded a racist is likely to upset more folks than encountered racism. Stick any bias in there-sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia…and the result is the same. It is, I think, the way the status quo defends itself when it gets tired of treating certain people equally.

That’s how Tami at Feministe began Marginalized Folks Shouldn’t Always Have To Be “The Bigger Persons”. It’s a smart piece that’s well worth the read.

How many of us have experienced the arguments that in essence are designed to silence or derail. The Derailing For Dummies website lists several ways that marginalized people experience silencing and derailment:

If You Won’t Educate Me How Can I Learn

If You Cared About These Matters You’d Be Willing To Educate Me

You’re Being Hostile

But That Happens To Me Too!

You’re Being Overemotional

You’re Just Oversensitive

You Just Enjoy Being Offended

Don’t You Have More Important Issues To Think About

You’re Taking Things Too Personally

You’re Not Being Intellectual Enough/You’re Being Overly Intellectual

You’re Interrogating From The Wrong Perspective

You’re Arguing With Opinions Not Fact

Your Experience Is Not Representative Of Everyone

Unless You Can Prove Your Experience Is Widespread I Won’t Believe It

I Don’t Think You’re As Marginalised As You Claim

Aren’t You Treating Each Other Worse Anyway

But You’re Different To The Others

Well I Know Another Person From Your Group Who Disagrees!

A In B Situation Is Not Equivalent To X In Y Situation

Who Wins Gold in the Oppression Olympics?

You Have A False Consciousness

You’re Not Being A Team Player

You’ve Lost Your Temper So I Don’t Have To Listen To You Anymore

You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry

You’re As Bad As They Are

Surprise! I Was Playing “Devil’s Advocate” All Along!

Tami ended her piece this way:

I am all for humor and compassion, but I reject the notion that, as a woman and a black person, I need be extra compassionate and jovial in a society that often affords people like me neither of those things. I reject the notion that we ought to spare more empathy for the homophobe than the gay men and women her bias hurts. I believe in using the most effective means to change, but I also believe in calling “isms” for what they are and not coating them in equivocations and wishy-washy language that lets oppressors feel good about themselves.

Sometimes, someone else needs to be the “bigger person.”

Image: Bayard Rustin; Link: Bayard Rustin's Book 'Time On Two Crosses'Which leads me back to the Bayard Rustin quote from From Montgomery To Stonewall I’m so fond of quoting:

[T]he job of the gay community is not to deal with extremists who would castigate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us. The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment.

To which I’d add another Bayard Rustin quote:

When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.

Sometimes being the better person doesn’t mean being stolid and unemotional; unwilling to point out inequalities and injustices in a tone-filled voice. Sometimes being the better person does mean standing up and being emotional about freedom, justice, and equality.

And, not just for one’s own freedom, equality, and justice, but for the freedom, equality and justice of a community of one’s peers, and for the future generations of that community of one’s peers as well.  
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

In Maj. Witt’s upcoming DADT trial using the ‘Witt Standard,’ ‘facts are not on the government’s side’

Excellent editorial in the Tacoma News Tribune about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell with two key points: 1) the U.S. Department of Justice won’t be able to meet the “Witt standard” in the upcoming DADT trial of Major Margaret Witt — and it couldn’t meet that standard against Victor Fehrenbach and 2) DADT has to end.

On Witt:

A federal judge, in a trial set to begin Sept. 13, will apply a new standard to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. This time, the burden will be on the military to prove not that Witt is a lesbian – her sexual orientation is not in dispute – but that her homosexuality is harmful to her unit’s cohesiveness.

It will be the first judicial application of the so-called “Witt standard” established by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Obama administration let pass a May 3 deadline to appeal the 9th’s decision to the Supreme Court, setting the stage for the trial in U.S. District Court next month.

The facts are not on the government’s side: More than a dozen of Witt’s colleagues have given sworn declaration objecting to her dismissal; one was so angry that he refused to re-enlist.

Should the Witt standard blunt the don’t ask, don’t tell policy as expected, it could prove a boon to gay service members who have been waiting on Congress – to date, in vain.

Waiting in vain for Congress — and the President.

The conclusion:

But the Witt standard is a stopgap measure and no more. It provides limited relief since it applies only to cases in Western states that make up the Ninth Circuit. And it isn’t preventing people like Jonathan Hopkins of Morton – a West Point graduate who led three combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan – from having to leave careers they love.

Don’t ask, don’t tell needs to go, and it’s up to the Senate to finish the job when it returns next month.

The Senate needs to finish the Defense bill in September and get it to conference ASAP. Delay hurts the chances for passing the compromise bill this year. Opponents of DADT repeal know that and will do everything possible to cause problems. Our allies, starting with the President, have to make sure that nothing interferes with the process of getting the compromise DADT bill signed into law..


—  John Wright

The “Witt Standard” and Pending DADT Cases

By Sher Kung, Perkins Coie Legal Fellow, ACLU of Washington

Last week, Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach filed a high-profile lawsuit arguing that the Air Force should be forced to meet the "Witt standard" if it attempts to discharge him from military service under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).

The "Witt standard" comes from a significant 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision (PDF) in an ACLU of Washington case, Witt v. U.S. Air Force, in which the court ruled that the Air Force must prove that dismissing a specific servicemember under DADT is necessary to ensure “good order, morale, and discipline” within the unit he or she served, rather than simply proving in a more general way that DADT broadly advances military readiness. With that requirement of proof, the “Witt standard” was born.

We filed this lawsuit back in 2006 on behalf of Maj. Margaret Witt, who was discharged from the U.S. Air Force on the grounds that she engaged in homosexual conduct. Maj. Witt is a much-decorated flight nurse and operating room nurse assigned to McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma. In 1993, she was selected to be the “poster child” for the Air Force Nurse Corps recruitment flyer. In 2003, she was awarded an Air Force Commendation Medal for saving the life of a Defense Department employee who had collapsed aboard a flight from Bahrain.

The lawsuit sought to reverse the decision to discharge Maj. Witt. The military provided no evidence that her sexual orientation had caused a problem in the performance of her military duties. The district court initially dismissed the suit.

We appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. In 2008, the 9th Circuit ruled that in order to pass constitutional muster, the Air Force must prove discharging Maj. Witt is necessary for purposes of military readiness within her unit. While the 9th Circuit’s decision did not overrule DADT, it made clear that the military must make this individualized determination before it can discharge LGBT service members.

Lt. Col. Fehrenbach’s case, which the New York Times says "rests heavily" on the 9th Circuit’s Witt standard, is pending before the federal district court in Idaho. (Rachel Maddow interviewed him and his lawyer on her show. Previously, then-Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan discussed the significance of the Witt standard in her confirmation hearings.)

In the meantime, Maj. Witt’s case will be back before the U.S. District Court for Western Washington for trial, scheduled for September 13. The ACLU will prove that it was Maj. Witt’s dismissal — not her presence in her unit — that was bad for morale.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright