Archive | December, 2014

Treasure Island or Toxic Island?

Treasure Island is not a recreation destination — it’s a radiation destination. Fifty years of Naval activity have contaminated it with a horrifying array of radioactive and chemical pollutants. Eight of the “dirty dozen” banned chemicals on the Stockholm Convention’s list of the most dangerous chemicals are found at Treasure Island.

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Abuse of Tenants at Notorious Slum Hotel in Oakland

“There is no heat. They do not allow tenants to use the elevator. The building has bed bugs, rats, and is loaded with flies from the garbage piled up at the property. Our toilet does not work, the shower barely drips, and the building lacks smoke detectors in most apartments.”

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Mission Residents Battle Gentrification from New Condo Development

At the first action against the condo development, Guillermina Castellanos, a mother who lives in the Mission, said: “This building they want to build, it won’t be for our families. It will be for another class of families that have money. We don’t have sufficient money to pay for these condominiums.”

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Sorrow in the Spring: Memories of Dr. King’s Memorial

As I write of the memorial services for Martin Luther King, Jr., we’re in a similar crisis today, as Ferguson, Missouri, joins the ranks of Memphis, Watts, Selma and far too many other locations where our nation’s racism has given us a shameful record of violations of human rights.

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Veterans Group Revives Thanksgiving Meal for Homeless in Santa Cruz

“We take care of our own but in Santa Cruz, ‘our own’ includes the entire community. This meal has always been about community and we will continue to keep this tradition of service to the homeless community alive as long as there is one vet to keep it going.”

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Missouri Grand Jury Shows Impact of Systemic Racism

Those who pay the cost of these policies are often young people of color – and with alarming frequency that cost is death at the hands of police. Ominously, police increasingly rely on militarized tactics and weapons not only to arrest but to contain people exercising their right to assemble and peacefully protest.

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December Poetry of the Spirit

This poet connects/ the one word “gather”/ with the Quaker faith/ as in geese gather/ at lake’s edge before/ the V-flight south,/ as in snowflakes gather,/ mounded on roof tops/ before the downward slide,/ as in two homeless men/ gather around a steam vent/ on a city sidewalk.

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Music and Social Change

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Blues for Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the despairing days after Dr. King’s death, the nation was overcome by the blues, so it was fitting that the pre-eminent blues band in the land would play for the activists in Resurrection City.

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Writing for the Street Spirit: My 17 Year Journey

Writing for Street Spirit has awakened in me a sense of responsibility toward others. Street Spirit is a way for people silenced by big money and big media to have a voice.

Animal Friends: A Saving Grace for Homeless People

“I wrapped her in my jacket and promised I’d never let anybody hurt her again. And that’s my promise to her for the rest of her life. In my mind she’s a little angel that saved me as much as I saved her.”

A Testament to Street Spirit’s Justice Journalism

The game was rigged against the poor, but I will always relish the fact that Street Spirit took on the Oakland mayor and city council for their perverse assault on homeless recyclers. For me, that was hallowed ground. I will never regret the fact that we did not surrender that ground.

Tragic Death of Oakland Tenant Mary Jesus

Being evicted felt like the end of her life. As a disabled woman, she saw nothing ahead but a destitute life on the streets. She told a friend, “If I’m evicted tomorrow, I have no choice but to kill myself. I have no resources, no savings, no money, and nowhere to go.”

They Left Him to Die Like a Tramp on the Street

Life is sacred. It is not just an economic statistic when someone suffers and dies on the streets of our nation. It is some mother’s son, or daughter. It is a human being made in the image of God. It is a desecration of the sacred when that life is torn down.

Joy in the Midst of Sorrow in Santa Maria Orphanage

This amazing priest not only housed 300 orphaned children from the streets of Mexico City, but he also took care of 20 homeless elders in his own house and started a home for children dying of AIDS. Father Norman also ran a soup kitchen that fed many people in the village.