Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Putting poor people to good use

Today Liz and I went to a hearing held by the Dept. of Housing and Community Development on the new HomeBASE program, which is supposed to help eligible families avoid homelessness.  The hearing focused on the regulations themselves, and how they might be fine tuned; we were there mostly to talk about the implementation end.

To put that in human terms, when a young woman with a baby (apartment lost in the tornado, didn't know about FEMA, staying for 2 months with a friend in subsidized housing whose own housing is now at risk because of her presence) goes down to the Dept. of Transitional Assistance to apply for Emergency Assistance (necessary before you can apply for HomeBASE) and is twice told she is not eligible and turned away with no written explanation, then something is wrong with the implementation picture.  It was not until she came to Arise with her story and we gave her a flyer (thanks, Mass Law Reform) about HomeBASE, with certain key parts highlighted, and sent her back down to DTA, that she was able to get help.

The hearing today wasn't huge.  Some advocates came, and some agencies charged with administering some aspect of the program, and a couple of poor people.

One of the testifiers (this was an official hearing) is the head of a local housing agency.  Among other things, he spoke about how the housing rate is set too low, and may, through the law of unintended consequences, concentrate poverty in particular areas.  I've heard him speak about the need to have our neighborhoods economically diverse before; and while I agree with some of his analysis in theory, it's really a much more  complicated scenario.  So i thought i knew where he was going.  But I was wrong.

"Poor people should be able to live in more affluent neighborhoods," he stated, "because they need people to hire for the low wage jobs."

My mouth fell open.  I could not believe what I was hearing.  And he went on later to speak about how many homeless families are coming from out of state, and shouldn't these scarce benefits be preserved for the people on his long housing waiting list, a point nicely countered later by someone else who said that studies show a statistically insignificant difference between the needy families who come to our state and our needy families that go some somebody else's state, which also has long waiting lists., etc.

I've been pondering  his remarks all evening.  Let me get this straight: at least a few of us (not too many, mind you) should live in affluent neighborhoods so we can do their dirty work?  Can we all get hired to become maids and gardeners?  Can we wander their snowy neighborhoods with shovels?  (Actually, we do that already.) Work in the convenience  and mega-drug stores?  (We do that already, too.) And wouldn't affluent people really prefer we commute rather than live next door?

As classist, serf-like and  preposterous as his idea is, it also belongs to an era long gone, never to come again.  This isn't the Fifties. Most people's fortunes have been rolling downhill for decades. Sure, we still have a few affluent neighborhoods in Springfield, but they're ragged around the edges, and in a city where nearly thirty percent of us live below the poverty level, there just aren't enough affluent people to go around-- not here, not anywhere.  

Even the HomeBASE program, rotten with good intentions and riddled with  regulations, is predicated on the belief that, starting basically from zero, a homeless family can turn its life around in just one year.Do these policy makers and administrators read the same news that I do?  Is anybody predicting the economy will recover in just one more year?

I have a lot more I could say about we what we, as poor people, need to do, but that's another post. Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Getting old and facing pollution - forum


What do clean air, water, and soil have to do with aging?  Why should be concerned about our environment as we get older?  What does the recent tornado clean-up have to do with our health?

A Community Discussion with:
Chris Rogers, UMass School of Public Health
Patrick Sullivan, Director, Springfield Parks, Buildings & Recreation Management
Lynn Rose, City of Springfield, Air Quality Specialist
Mike Florio, WMass Coalition on Occupational Health & Safety
Nick Fyntrilakis, Chair, DevelopSpringfield

Wed., Sept. 28, 1 to 3:30 p.m.
Springfield Hobby Club
309 Chestnut St. 
(off Franklin St., behind YMCA)
Information: Mass Senior Action, 543-2334 

This event funded and supported by the Healthy Environment/Healthy Springfield CARE project, a US EPA-funded Environmental Justice Project
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No One Leave Tag Sale - date change!

DATE: Sunday and Monday: October 9 & 10
PLACE: Breckwood Circle/Breckwood Blvd
TIME: 9:00AM-3:00PM

If you would like to volunteer/or for more info contact:
Candejah Pink 347-385-8049; Jean Jones 413-363-2738
 To donate items to the Tag Sale contact:
Deb LaFleur 413-209-9845
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Troy Davis vigil; Strange Fruit

AFSC organized a vigil yesterday evening in Northampton
From Color of Change: At 11:08 pm, the state of Georgia killed Troy Davis. Just before he was executed, Troy maintained his innocence, urged people to dig deeper into the case to find the truth, and said "For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls." It's a tragic day for Troy, for his family, and for equality, fairness, and justice.
It's hard to know what to say at a time like this. In this moment, and in the days and weeks before Troy's execution, we've felt all kinds of things — anger, sadness, inspiration, hope and hopelessness. This is a time to mourn and remember Troy, to contemplate the profound loss we're facing, to send love and support to Troy's family and friends. It's incredibly important to take the time to spiritually and emotionally care for Troy's family and the amazing community that has arisen to support Troy — and it feels hard to muster the energy to do much more than that.
But before he died, Troy told us that this was about more than him — and he called on those of us who have fought against his execution to continue fighting for justice, even if we weren't successful in saving his life. Now is also an important moment to take stock of what's brought us to this point — the criminal justice system that allowed this to happen, and the movement we've built to fight for Troy and others facing injustice and oppression at the hands of that system.
Race, the criminal justice system, and the death penalty
At every stage of the criminal justice system, Black people and other minorities face inequality and discrimination. We all know about people who've been treated unfairly by police or by the courts. When the entire system treats Black people unequally, it means that the death penalty is applied unequally too. Troy Davis' case underscores the way in which this systemic inequality can lead to a tragic miscarriage of justice.
In most cases, people who've been treated unfairly or wrongly convicted have some chance to correct the injustice. People who have been mistreated by the police can sue them. People who are wrongly serving time can be granted new trials, can be released from prison, and are sometimes entitled to compensation. As we all know, the safeguards that can correct abuse by the criminal justice system often fail, and rampant inequality persists. Usually, people can at least keep trying.
But there's no way to correct a death sentence. If Troy Davis were serving a sentence of life in prison without parole, he could continue to press the legal system to grant him a fair trial — but because the death penalty exists, he will not have that opportunity.
Troy Davis' case has sparked a national conversation about the death penalty. In the past, much of the debate around the death penalty has focused on the morality of killing people as a legal punishment — a very important question that brings out a lot of strong opinions. But even if we completely leave aside the question whether or not it can ever be right for the government to punish a murderer by killing them, there's an entirely different debate to be had — whether or not we can have the death penalty and actually avoid the possibility of killing innocent people. In a criminal justice system that routinely misidentifies Black suspects and disproportionately punishes Black people, Black folks are more likely to be wrongfully executed.
There's plenty of evidence to suggest that the death penalty has been used to kill innocent people many times. Since 1973, more than 130 people have been released from death row because of evidence that they were wrongly convicted. Troy Davis is one of many people who were executed despite serious questions about their guilt, and he's called on his supporters to continue working to end the death penalty.
A group of NAACP organizers went to visit Troy in prison yesterday, and NAACP's Robert Rooks said this about the visit:
For someone that was facing death the very next day, he was just full of life and wanted to spend time talking to the younger staff, the interns, giving them direction and hope and asking them to hold onto God. And he challenged them. He challenged them by saying, "You have a choice. You can either fold up your bags after tomorrow and go home, or you can stand and continue this fight." He said it doesn’t—it didn’t begin with Troy Davis, and this won’t end if he is executed today. He just asked us all just to continue to fight to end the death penalty, if in fact he’s executed.
A powerful movement
For years, ColorOfChange members have been an important part of a growing movement to stop Troy Davis' execution. Hundreds of phone calls from ColorOfChange members to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole helped delay Davis' execution twice. Over the past year, there's been a huge outpouring of support for Davis from ColorOfChange members — more than 100,000 of us have signed petitions, and we raised more than $30,000 to run radio ads in Georgia calling for justice for Troy.
And we've been part of an even bigger movement — NAACP, Amnesty International, National Action Network, Change.org, and others have all been a major part of the fight for Troy Davis, and there are now over close to a million petition signatures overall. Prominent people from all across the political spectrum have spoken out: members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI Director William Sessions, former Georgia Republican congressman Bob Barr, and former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher.
This movement couldn't stop Davis' execution — but it's a movement that won't die with Troy Davis. There's no better way to honor Troy's memory than to keep fighting for justice.
Thanks and Peace,
-- Rashad, James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
   September 21st, 2011
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

White supremist executed - Troy Davis stay denied

Strapped to a gurney, intravenous needles already inserted in his arm, Troy Davis waits for the Supreme Court to decide on a stay of execution.

(It's 10:24 and the Supreme Court has denied Troy's stay of execution.)

Today will not end without at least one execution, however. Lawrence Russell Fisher, aged 44, was pronounced dead at 6:21 pm.in Huntsville, Texas. It took him ten minutes to die from lethal injection.

If you don't recognize his name, you will remember the circumstances under which he killed a Black man, James Byrd, Jr.  Fisher and two other men dragged Byrd behind a pickup truck in 1998 until he was dead.

Fisher, a white supremacist, is scarcely a sympathetic person.  It's said he expressed no remorse for his crime. The AP story about his last moments, as he declined to make a final statement, said that a tear hung in the corner of his right eye.

Deserve is an odd word, meaning "to merit, to qualify for." Did Fisher deserve the death penalty, while Davis does not?  The word puts the focus on the object and away from ourselves as individuals and as collective members of society.  What is truly best for us?
"You can't fight murder with murder," Ross Byrd, 32, told Reuters late Tuesday, the night before Wednesday's scheduled execution of Lawrence Russell Brewer for one of the most notorious hate crimes in modern times.

"Life in prison would have been fine. I know he can't hurt my daddy anymore. I wish the state would take in mind that this isn't what we want."

With every cell of my being, and with every fiber of my memory, I oppose the death penalty in all forms….I do not believe any civilized society should be at the service of death. I don’t think it’s human to become an Angel of Death.
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1986

From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death. For more than 20 years I have endeavored…to develop…rules that would lend more than the mere appearance of fairness to the death penalty endeavor…Rather than continue to coddle the court’s delusion that the desired level of fairness has been achieved…I feel…obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed
Justice Blackmun, Supreme Court Justice quoted in1994 Print Friendly and PDF

Last hour for Troy Davis

I am feeling the same grimness and sickness to my stomach awaiting  the execution of Troy Davis as I felt in the days leading up to the bombing of Iraq.  One life lost symbolizes all the lives lost senselessly, stupidly, unnecessarily.

There are many reasons to be opposed to the death penalty but the one writ large on today 's almanac is that a mistake made cannot be unmade.  A life taken cannot be given back. 

When will we become fully human? Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Get on the bus! We have a right to the city!

Let’s Not Sit On The Sidelines While the Greedy Banks Try to Take Our Community!
 Please Join Springfield No One Leaves to March & Rally
With Right To The City (RTTC)
 We will be letting the banks know we are NOT going to be BULLIED anymore. Since they used OUR tax money to save themselves from drowning then we want the same. Stop causing our environment pain and suffering. They cause this dilemma and need to be responsible and do the right thing for US!

DATE: September 30, 2011
PLACE: Boston Common Band Stand
TIME: 2:00PM-5:00PM
 For more info please contact: 
Candejah Pink 347-385-8049; 413-342-1804
 Springfield No One Leaves 29 Oakland St Springfield MA 0108 413-342-1804
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Forum on North End Asthma Rates


¿Por qué nuestros hijos se enferman más?
¿Cómo podemos limpiar nuestro aire, nuestras casas y escuelas?

Diálogo en mesa redonda
Vanessa Green, Mass. Coalición Diesel
Joaquín Rodríguez BS, LADC 1, Gerente Regional del
Centro de Salud Springfield International
Dr. Hilary Branch, Pediatra
Lynn Rose, Dept.of Parques, Edificios y Gestión de Recreo

Seguido de un diálogo comunitario

Jueves 22 de Septiembre
de 6 a 8 de la noche
 en Germán Gerena Community School
200 Birnie Ave., Springfield MA

Se ofrecerá cena
Para obtener más información, llame a Arise for Social Justice al 734-4948
Este evento es respaldado y financiado por el proyecto Healthy Environment/Healthy Springfield CARE, un proyecto de justicia ambiental
financiado por la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de los EE. UU.
(Enviromental Protección Agency, o US EPA)
Traductores disponibles español

Why are our children sicker?
How can we fix what is wrong with our air, our streets and our schools?

Roundtable Discussion
Vanessa Green, Mass. Diesel Coalition
Joaquin Rodriguez BS, LADC 1, Regional Manager, Springfield International Health Center
Dr. Hilary Branch, Pediatrician
Lynn Rose, Dept.of Parks, Buildings and Recreational Management
Community Discussion to follow

Thursday, September 22
6 – 8 pm.
Germán Gerena Community School
200 Birnie Ave., Springfield MA

Supper provided
For more information, call Arise for Social Justice, 734-4948
This event is supported and funded by the project Healthy Environment / Healthy Springfield CARE, an environmental justice project
funded by the Environmental Protection Agency of the U.S.. UU.
(Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA)
Traductores disponibles español

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

One more big push: we need strong biomass regulations now!

President Obama's rejection of new regulations reducing smog causing, ozone-producing chemicals this month has at least one important lesson for us: we'd better be ready to protect ourselves on every state and local level we can.

Our long local fight in Springfield to stop Palmer Renewable Energy from constructing a biomass plant in Springfield-- as well as the struggles in Russell  and greenfield-- have become part of a statewide struggle with the Biomass Accountability Project to limit the subsidizing of biomass by the Patrick Administration.  So many of us are headed to Boston on Monday.  If you can't make it you can still have your voice heard-- sign the petition to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor here at Stop Spewing Carbon.

Rally and Press Conference Demanding Governor strengthen rules on subsidizing dirty biomass energy.
A coalition of health, social justice and environmental groups are calling on Gov. Patrick and Lt. Gov. Murray to limit subsidies for dirty biomass energy. The groups are demanding the administration keep their 2010 promise that power plants burning woody biomass for electricity meet strict standards to receive subsidies.
WHEN:         Monday, September 19, 2011  
                         Rally: 10:30 am
                  Press Conference:  11 a.m.
WHERE:          State House: Nurses’ Hall
Groups seeking stronger regulations: Sierra Club, Toxics Action Center, Conservation Law Foundation, Mass Audubon, Clean Water Action Alliance of MA, Environmental League of MA, American Lung Association, Environment MA, Biomass Accountability Project, MA Breast Cancer Coalition, Partnership for Policy Integrity, Natural Resources of Maine, NRDC, Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Concerned Citizens of Russell, MA Forest Watch, ARISE for Social Justice (Springfield), MassPIRG, Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield,  Chelsea Creek Action Group, and others.

Photo from fotdmike's photostream at Flickr. Print Friendly and PDF

The real reason we became white

 Thanks to  Mass Slavery Apology in Greenfield for their incredible anti-racism work.  Here's a recent essay by George Esworthy.

In the mid-1600s, plantation owners in colonial Virginia looked through their lace curtained windows and saw a disturbing sight. What they saw was their workers in their fields. Those workers included European indentured servants and African indentured servants, as well as African slaves. *

The workers all lived in the same quarters, ate the same food and socialized together, essentially sharing the same abominable conditions. What troubled the planters was not the idea of race mixing (indeed, the concept of “race” had not yet been invented), but the fear that African and European workers would unite to rise up and slaughter their masters. The plantation owners were desperate to do something to protect themselves from this threat.

The British were not savvy imperialists for nothing. They had perfected the skill, first in Ireland and later throughout the Empire, of pitting one group against another through favorable treatment of selected populations. My own Lowland Scot ancestors accepted an offer of free land in Ireland. The British made this offer not to save us from frequent raids by Highlanders, but to establish a Protestant class, loyal to the crown, that would control the indigenous, largely landless, Irish crofters. It was the tried and true practice of divide and conquer. At the behest of the plantation owners, Virginia’s colonial legislature passed laws that required planters to award fifty acres of land to European indentured servants (but not those of African descent) who had completed their servitude. In the Colonies at that time the ownership of land was the ultimate form of status. In addition, landless white Europeans were eventually allowed to testify in courts, further enhancing their status. The importance of these early laws cannot be understated as precedents for how our nation eventually evolved. These were the first laws that based human rights on skin color.

The genius of this became evident over time. The paltry benefits afforded poor whites were clearly less important to them than their status as “white” people. Poor whites were hired to form slave patrols in order to cement the notion that they had more in common with the wealthy white elite than they did with black slaves. The overriding irony of this system was that slavery tended to diminish the wages and opportunities for poor whites. Poor whites and black slaves had significantly more in common with each other than either did with the white elite. Despite this, the importance of “whiteness” had become so powerful by the time of the Civil War that millions of poor whites fought and died to preserve a system that exploited them nearly as much as it did blacks.
We whites in the 21st century can no longer expect fifty acres of land, but what we can expect (statistically at least) is that we will have, as compared to the descendents of slaves, more of society’s benefits. We can expect to live longer, healthier, safer lives. We can expect to earn more money and to have accumulated more wealth. We can expect better education and more lucrative jobs. We can expect to be much less likely to be incarcerated or harassed by the police. For all these apparent benefits for being white we are, by and large, intensely supportive of the status quo and the corporate capitalist system that provides these benefits. Our loyalty and participation in this system provide us what we in shorthand call white privilege. These privileges have become so commonplace and ordinary that they have become largely invisible to us and at some deep level we have the sense that they are deserved. We are, in short, the loyal constituency of a wealthy elite.

This insidious and brilliant system functions today as well as it did in 1670. The divide that exists between blacks and whites still prevents us from working together for our common economic and social interests. The knee jerk tendency to blame blacks for the economic problems experienced by whites is still a vibrant tool of political manipulation. It is currently being used to scapegoat Latino immigrants, with claims that they threaten the wages and standard of living of (white) American workers. Even if our borders were slammed shut right now, capital and jobs would continue to flow abroad, to the continuing detriment of all American workers – black, white and brown.

This white privilege that we protect with such ferocity is based on an illusion created by the wealthy to protect their status. The illusion is that whites are more deserving than people of color. And the purpose of this illusion is precisely the same as it was in 1670 – to sow divisions between groups who might threaten the wealth of those in power.

* At that time, chattel slavery, the ownership of a person and all of that person’s offspring for life, had not yet become a norm in the Americas. Some plantation owners who used European indentured servants for cheap labor also made indentured servants of the Africans they purchased. Indentured servants were required to provide their masters with a certain number of years of labor, and then were freed. By about 1700 it became a law that Africans and their descendents could not be indentured servants. Those who were then indentured servants entered chattel slavery, becoming slaves for life. Like all free blacks, former indentured servants were always at risk of being captured and sold into chattel slavery. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, September 16, 2011


Springfield No One Leaves
Do you have items that are taking up unnecessary space?
Do you have toys that are in need of kids to play with them?

We are respectfully asking for and seeking donations for the tag sale.

Help us get our community back in order. We need the support of our town to provide funding to keep the movement growing.
Please come out and let’s fellowship!

DATE: Sat & Sun: September 24-25,
PLACE: Breckwood Circle/Breckwood Blvd
TIME: 9:00AM-3:00PM

If you would like to volunteer/or for more info contact:
Candejah Pink 347-385-8049; Jean Jones 413-363-2738
 To donate items to the Tag Sale contact:
Deb LaFleur 413-209-9845
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

7-year-old transgender child

Tommy Theollyn's seven-year-old son -- who we'll call "D." -- looks like a boy. While he was born biologically female, D. feels, deep in his heart, that he is a boy -- and wears boys' clothing and has short hair.
Tommy has done everything a caring parent would do to help a child going through a potentially tough time. D. has been to a psychologist and doctor, both of whom say that the right thing for Tommy to do is allow D. to live as a boy.
So Tommy is trying to do just that for his son. But there's one big problem: D. has been denied access to the boys' restroom -- or a safe restroom -- at his elementary school in Georgia. Since forcing D. to use the girls' restroom effectively reveals that he is transgender to other children, this decision seriously threatens D.'s safety. Which is why Tommy made the heartbreaking decision to pull his son out of school.
Before starting the school year, Tommy had spoken with D.'s teacher about letting D. use the boys' restroom and thought the matter was settled. But then Dr. William Hunter, McIntosh superintendent, decided to get involved. Dr. Hunter said that D. had to use the girls' restroom, and threatened to call Child Protective Services on Tommy for allowing D. to live as a boy. Tommy tried to explain that he was acting on the advice of D.'s doctors, but Dr. Hunter wasn't interested. 
Now, more than 5,000 people have signed the petition that Tommy started on Change.org. Tommy is scheduled to speak at the next meeting of the McIntosh County Board of Education on September 15. Tommy says he's afraid of what might happen at that meeting, as McIntosh isn't a place where LGBT rights have traditionally been supported. 
Tommy says that he feels stronger with every person who signs his petition in support of his son. He wants the McIntosh Board of Education to know that thousands of Americans stand with D. and support his right to be exactly who he is.
Please sign Tommy's petition today asking the McIntosh County Board of Education to allow his seven-year-old son to have safe access to a restroom at school:
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Please support African immigrants working in Central Massachusetts

Workers at Alternatives Unlimited, Inc, a human service agency in central Massachusetts  are coming together to form a union with SEIU Local 509, the Human Service Workers' Union.  Many recent immigrants from African countries work at Alternatives providing service and supports to our neighbors with mental health needs and developmental disabilities.  Unfortunately, Dennis Rice, the Executive Director of Alternatives Unlimited has hired a union busting consultant to interfere with his employees rights to form a union. 
Can you send a letter to Dennis Rice asking him to support workers rights?

By winning a voice at work, they can speak up about problems that impact clients; they can improve their working conditions, which directly impact the conditions in which some of our most vulnerable neighbors live; and they can build greater job skills and long-term careers, improving the human services industry for everyone.
Show them you’ve got their back!

The union busting consultant has already started holding mandatory meetings where they bend the truth and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.  We are also concerned they may be engaged in illegal activity like using Medicaid funding to interfere with workers rights to form a union. 

Please send a letter now to Dennis Rice asking him not to interfere with workers rights to form a union.

Peter Witzler, Senior Community Political Organizer
Supporting People, Supporting Communities
http://spsc.seiu.org/, SEIU, Public Services Division
Cell: 202.257.4952, Office: 202.730.7389

Photo from Red Bubble. Print Friendly and PDF

Don't burn our forests for electricity!

Great to get this from the Sierra Club-- they were late to the game, but with us now.
Take Action!
Take Action!
Right now, Massachusetts is considering approval for five new biomass plants. If built these plants would only generate 1% of our state's electricity but consume the equivalent of 50 football fields of trees every day!1
Massachusetts recently commissioned a study to look at the effects of burning trees for electricity and Gov. Patrick is considering stregthening the state's biomass regulations to protect our forests and our health.
The biomass industry is putting a lot of pressure on the Governor to keep our state's regulations weak. We need to let the Gov. know we want him to stand up for our forests.
Because trees grow back, forest biomass is currently treated as "renewable energy." But new science shows that inefficient and polluting biomass facilities emit even more greenhouse gases than most coal plants. 
Our nation needs to move beyond coal and oil but we need to make sure we are replacing them with truly clean, renewable sources like wind and solar power.
Together we can protect our forests, our health and move toward a clean energy future!
James McCaffrey
Sierra Club
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Where are the jobs?

It's not like we at Arise haven't been busy this summer, because we have-- but looking ahead to the fall, to everything we want to accomplish, I feel both excited and anxious.

This week we've been interviewing candidates for a resource developer position at Arise-- seven people total.  It's been hard.  I liked every person we interviewed.  Some clearly had more experience with fundraising and with social justice than others but everyone had at least one quality we knew would make a valuable contribution to Arise.

What really got to me, though, is how desperate people are for work.  We got resumes from teachers, veterans, web designers, single mothers, organizers and store clerks.  They were fully qualified to do the work that they had been doing previously, and for which some had spent big bucks in the educational system.  But they'd been laid off, and unemployed long enough to know they were unlikely to get work in their field.

If you can't get a decent job with a good education, you can imagine what it's like for everybody else.  Yeah, there are some part-time, service jobs out there, that don't even come close to supporting you, but even they are out of reach for some.  On Saturday, I got a call from a guy, a former member of Arise, who was serving a five year prison term at Walpole!  he was out!  He's spent some of this past week visiting former employers, to see about the possibility of a job.  Most were sympathetic, but couldn't or wouldn't offer work.  The future looks rough for my friend, and I hope we can help him hang in there until he gets a break.  But it could be a long time.

I've been thinking a lot about the Poor People's March on Washington, D.C. next June 30, and how we're going to get there.  Maybe it'll help break down the invisibility of the poor that Katha Pollitt has written about in the Nation:: The Poor, Still Here, Still Poor.  Check it out.

Photo from b4b2's photostream at Flickr. Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Execution set for September 21st: Keep Troy Davis Alive

OK, time to dig deep in your pockets to keep a human being from being killed.  Yeah, we're broke, but we're alive.
The day we’ve dreaded is finally here. On Tuesday, a Georgia judge issued a death warrant for Troy Davis. It shocks the conscience, but despite all the doubt hanging over the case — all the evidence that Troy is likely innocent — Troy is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection as soon as September 21.1
At this point, the last body capable of stopping the execution is the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole. There’s no doubt that we need to keep them in the national spotlight to help save Troy’s life. But the Pardon Board will likely be most swayed by the voices of Georgia citizens, many of whom either aren't aware of Troy’s story or haven't been asked to speak out.
In the coming weeks, we will buy ads that will reach thousands of Georgia residents and create a critical new level of scrutiny on the Pardon Board's actions — but we need to raise at least $10,000 to buy enough space for our message to make a difference. Can you chip in $10, $20, or $50 to help save Troy Davis’ life?
The same judge who rejected Troy’s innocence claims in a hearing last year conceded that the case against Troy is not “ironclad.” But ironclad is exactly what the case should be in order to put someone to death.
When the case isn’t totally solid, the process is prone to human error, and innocent people may die. That’s what evidence suggests happened to Cameron Todd Willingham, a Texas man who was sentenced to die after being accused of starting a fire that killed his children. A new review of the evidence used to convict him shows that Willingham was executed despite overwhelming evidence that he was convicted on false pretenses. But now it’s too late to do anything about it.2
It will take all of our combined efforts to make sure Troy Davis isn’t the next Cameron Willingham. It starts with a donation of whatever you can afford.
Thanks and Peace,
-- Rashad, James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
   September 7th, 2011
1. "Order Signed for Sept. Execution of Troy Davis," ABCNews.com, 9-7-2011
2. "The Haunting of Rick Perry," The New York Times, 6-22-2011
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Top Ten Labor Day songs

Here's The Nations's list of the top ten Labor Day songs--  Thanks for the tip, John Fitzgerald!

One of my favorites is Tennessee Ernie Ford's version of "Sixteen Tons."  It was the #1 song in 1955, when it was released.  i heard it as a kid and have remembered it all my life.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

First Nations and American Indian Leaders Arrested In Front Of White House To Protest Keystone XL Pipeline.

Photo courtsy of:

CENSORED NEWS: Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights


Kandi Mossett, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara/Photo Shadia Fayne Wood

Good article and good reminder We must fight for our mother!


Published: Friday, 2 Sep 2011 | 11:30 AM ET
WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --
American Indian and Canadian Native leaders were arrested today in front of the White House.

Representatives of Native governments and organizations from the United States and Canada traveled long distances to Washington DC to tell President Barack Obama not to issue a permit for the construction of a controversial 1,700 mile pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

"The Dene people in northern Canada passed a resolution standing in solidarity with Native Americans and other people opposing the Keystone XL pipeline. We want the people of America to hear our concerns, as people that live downstream from the tar sands development" said Chief Bill Erasmus, Dene Regional Chief of NWT and representative of the Assembly of First Nations.

Gitz Deranger, Dene from Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, living downstream from the tar sands, says, "I have seen the devastation of our people's health with increased cancer deaths. If Obama approves this pipeline, it would only lead to more of our people needlessly dying." "Our Lakota people oppose this pipeline because of the potential contamination of the surface water and of the Ogallala aquifer," says Deb White Plume, Lakota grassroots leader, with Owe Aku, an Oglala Lakota organization in South Dakota.

"We have thousands of ancient and historical cultural resources that would be destroyed across our treaty lands. It's my responsibility as a woman to stand with Mother Earth against corporate male dominated greed. White Plume stood proud as her hands were handcuffed behind her back and led away.

"This is a matter of life and death. Our human rights should not be on the altar of US energy policy," says Pat Spears, a Lakota, with Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, of South Dakota.

Chief George Stanley, Regional Chief of Alberta said the pipeline was initiated under the previous Bush administration and inherited by Obama. "Our First Nations in Alberta have been concerned of the lack of consultation of the pipeline and tar sand expansion. President Obama can do what's right. The President's approval of this pipeline is not in the national interest of US or Canada." Tom Goldtooth, of the Indigenous Environmental Network, the organization that organized the Indigenous Day of Action in DC said, "The tar sands and pipeline infrastructure are weapons of mass destruction leading the path to triggering the final overheating of Mother Earth. President Obama made promises to Native Nations. Here is an opportunity for him to honor those promises and be a man of conscience by standing up to corporate power and saying no to the Keystone XL pipeline."

SOURCE Indigenous Environmental Network www.prnewswire.com Copyright (C) 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved -0- KEYWORD: District of Columbia INDUSTRY KEYWORD: ENV



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