Archive | January, 2016

Community Power Wins Affordable Housing in Oakland

How community activists rallied to halt a luxury tower for the rich and win affordable housing for the people of Oakland.

Read More Comments Off on Community Power Wins Affordable Housing in Oakland

Activists Block New Jails in Bay Area

“The contrast was dramatic. Funding could be found for a jail, but not for a hospital. I think that aggravated and motivated a very passionate outcry from people in Contra Costa County.”

Read More Comments Off on Activists Block New Jails in Bay Area

One Night at Liberty City—Just Before the Raid

I had been homeless for two years in Berkeley and the things bound up in the protest reminded me so strongly of my own sentiments while I was without housing in this city. So I borrowed a sleeping bag and I headed over to the occupation at Old City Hall.

Read More Comments Off on One Night at Liberty City—Just Before the Raid

Liberty City and the Christmas Miracle

Thanks to the initiative of homeless people, the sleep-in grew into several weeks of relative safety for people otherwise being shoveled out of parks like trash or hustled off public streets by the merchant groups’ hired patrols. The homeless people developed a functional government and crafted “no drugs or alcohol” rules.

Read More Comments Off on Liberty City and the Christmas Miracle

In the Shadow of Bell v. Boise

Our entire community, unhoused and housed alike, is living in the Shadow of Bell v. Boise. Homeless people are being criminalized in violation of their Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The hope is that we can all emerge into the sunlight, equally free.

Read More Comments Off on In the Shadow of Bell v. Boise

Laura’s Law Turns a Psychiatric Diagnosis into a Crime

Laura’s Law criminalizes mental illness and is spreading like cancer across California, county by county. Those labeled “noncompliant” can be subjected to forced medication and court-ordered involuntary treatment. In essence, they become captives of the criminal justice system even though they have committed no offense.

Read More Comments Off on Laura’s Law Turns a Psychiatric Diagnosis into a Crime

San Mateo County Renters Fight Rising Evictions

Many low-income families living in the shadow of Silicon Valley’s enormous wealth are being threatened with evictions.

“With the current market and the housing crisis, we’re seeing landlords and investors taking advantage of the weak legal protections, exploiting the holes that exist in the law in order to turn a quick profit,” says Daniel Saver. “In the wake behind them, there’s a trail of human cost. It’s destroying communities.

Read More Comments Off on San Mateo County Renters Fight Rising Evictions

The New Housing for the Homeless: Prison Cells

No politician wants to be accused of working to eliminate jobs! So, the pressure to keep the prisons full is great. Criminalizing homelessness could be seen as a double win — keeping the prisons full while also “solving” the homelessness issue by giving homeless people beds in prison.

Read More Comments Off on The New Housing for the Homeless: Prison Cells

Reflections on the New Year—Elegies, Praise, Poems

I have been thinking again about the French notion of liberty, fraternity (though now we’d say solidarity) and equality. I think I understand in a new way that these can be taken not just as political values, but also as a partial guide to how to conduct our lives.

Read More Comments Off on Reflections on the New Year—Elegies, Praise, Poems

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.