Archive | May, 2011

Taking It to the Streets

“I have the right to exist in public space.” Street youth created signs to protest attempts to banish them. Janny Castillo photo

When one of the Suitcase Clinic speakers asked all those who opposed the anti-sitting law to stand up, virtually everyone in the council chambers stood up, making a very strong statement to the City Council. It had been my hope that the homeless people and street youth who actually sit on the sidewalks would have a chance to speak, but sadly they were denied.

Read More Comments Off on Taking It to the Streets

Anatomy of a Takeover at a Health Care Corporation

WRAP Director Paul Boden denounced corporate landowners who let buildings sit empty in areas where homelessness is on the rise. Photo by Carol Harvey

When people’s health and well-being are based on a home, and a building is useable, a health care corporation leaving it empty is a savagely hypocritical act.. On April 11, 2011, resisters took over a vacant Kaiser Permanente building, and marked this predator medical corporation with a banner reading, “Kaiser Thrives, People Die.”

Read More Comments Off on Anatomy of a Takeover at a Health Care Corporation

The Rich Have Robbed and Ruined Our Nation

This impassioned cry for justice was made by Servant Brian K. Woodson at a tax day rally at the Federal Building in Oakland organized by the American Friends Service Committee as part of the April 12 Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Woodson is pastor of the Bay Area Christian Connection, an Oakland church with a women’s treatment program and a food program that this year has distributed over 453,000 pounds of food to inner-city residents.

Read More Comments Off on The Rich Have Robbed and Ruined Our Nation

Berkeley Merchants Plot a Police Clampdown on Youth

The art of Art Hazelwood reminds us that the constitutional rights of homeless people are constantly violated by political officials and the police.

Nearly every homeless organization in Berkeley is now united in opposition to the sitting ban before it has even been introduced at the City Council. Already, some council members that the business associations had boasted were already in the bag are evidently having second thoughts about supporting the ban.

Read More Comments Off on Berkeley Merchants Plot a Police Clampdown on Youth

Disaster Capitalism: A Perfect Alibi for the Far Right

Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that Ryan’s plan “would get about two-thirds of its more than $4 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years from programs that help people of limited means …” The proposed cuts to Medicaid alone would harm states, individuals and health care providers and could cost nearly two million private-sector jobs, according to Ethan Pollack of the Economic Policy Institute.

Economist Dean Baker summed up the Ryan plan eloquently as “government by people who hate you.”

Read More Comments Off on Disaster Capitalism: A Perfect Alibi for the Far Right

Cruel Cuts to Medi-Cal Are Creating a New Underclass

I have a close relative who is losing all of his teeth because of the lack of available dentistry under Medi-Cal (with the exception of extractions). The policy of not covering dental was first enacted under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and now is the responsibility of Gov. Jerry Brown.

My relative is risking his health in order to retain one tooth — the last one he can use to chew food. A new lower class is being created before our eyes, one based on the ability to identify Medi-Cal recipients through their lack of teeth.

Read More Comments Off on Cruel Cuts to Medi-Cal Are Creating a New Underclass

A Capital Offense

Painting of Mother Teresa of Calcutta by San Francisco poet Judy Jones.

A reminder of the intolerable reality that in a nation of incredible wealth, we allow people to die—abandoned, suffering, alone.

Read More Comments Off on A Capital Offense

When Even the Sky Hurts

Berkeley poet Julia Vinograd.

Review by Mary Meriam “The writing of a poem is also the act of taking a stand against the sadness.” y homeless sister once dreamily said that she would like a wardrobe, a closet full of nice clothes. Clothes are a home for our bodies. Clothes broadcast to others where we stand in the world. […]

Read More Comments Off on When Even the Sky Hurts

Path to Prosperity—or Highway to Homelessness

“Safety Net” Artwork by Art Hazelwood

Congressional Democrats joined Republican extremists in slashing the safety net for poor families, seniors, the disabled and homeless.

Read More Comments Off on Path to Prosperity—or Highway to Homelessness

A Life Consecrated to Compassion and Justice

On the bleak streets of the Tenderloin, a sister took a stand against inhumanity. Her solidarity was inspired by the beatitudes and consecrated to the poor.

The Invisible Natural Cathedral of People’s Park

Builders, please go away. Allow the beauty of an Invisible Natural Cathedral to remain, a living shrine of open space that gives refuge to all people.

Street Spirit Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin

This atrocity was happening in a very wealthy city. It was happening right under our noses. It was very visible. And there was not the united voice of the faith community speaking out. That was the spark of Religious Witness. From that moment, I knew what I had to do.

Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin, Part Two

“What’s forming in my mind is Jesus in the temple when he became angry at the unjust and very exclusive systems of society. That is the very reason that there are the poor and the marginalized. It is not enough just to provide food, clothing and housing.”

‘Such Is the Magic and Spirit of People’s Park’

The mayor has no understanding of the awful defeat the loss of People’s Park would be. No comprehension of the cost in lives and the sacrifices people have made for the Park’s ideals. So many still find it a refuge in a country needing a political and spiritual overhaul.

I Remember Who I Am

“And Now Where?” Lithograph by Rockwell Kent

By and by, I calm down. I meditate. I pray. It is a beautiful day. The sun is setting. I weave my way toward the spot where I sleep, where nobody knows where to find me. I look to the stars, and say my prayers to the God who believes in Me.