The June 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

From Prison to Priesthood

Interview with Father James Tramel

Protest Demands Housing for Poor Families

Oakland Judge Blocks Evictions

Fresno Police Demolish Tent Encampment

Extremists Call for Attacks on Immigrants

Unjust Senate Bill on Immigration

World Bank and IMF Face Crisis

Corporate Media Fail to Address Global Hunger

Raise Minimum Wage for All

The Journey of Charlotte Tall Mountain

Dying for Nixon, Dying for Bush

In Santa Cruz Dreams Come True

Tourists Ignore Kenya's Poverty

June Poetry of the Streets


May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

From Prison to Priesthood

With a little help from his friends, Father James Tramel makes the journey from darkness to light.

by Terry Messman

Father James Tramel celebrates Eucharist at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Berkeley, just after his release from prison. Barbara Hill photo

When Fyodor Dostoevsky served four years in a Siberian prison for taking part in a radical political movement, he wrote a book entitled The House of the Dead. That ominous phrase summons up all our fears of prison. Prison is dedicated to purposely dehumanizing inmates and banishing them from the land of the living. Too often, human beings are turned into the walking dead.

Yet Father James Tramel was imprisoned for 20 years, five times the length of Dostoevsky's sentence, and he somehow found an inner current of hope and faith that transformed his prison cell into a place of new life. This renewal occurred in the most oppressive surroundings imaginable, as if a small flower had defied the unyielding concrete to blossom in a prison cell.

In ministering to prisoners who were dying the loneliest deaths imaginable behind the prison walls of the House of the Dead, Father Tramel found friendship, a new reason to live, and a hope that could not be buried, not even behind the fortress walls of some of the nation's toughest prisons -- San Quentin, Folsom, Solano State Prison, and Vacaville.

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Coalition on Homelessness Demands Housing for Homeless Families

Homeless children are more likely to have health problems, asthma, hospitalizations, developmental delays, depression and anxiety. The children suffer from poor nutrition and hunger and do poorly in school.

by Lydia Gans

The Coalition on Homelessness holds a rally at San Francisco City Hall to demand more housing for homeless families and to expose the fact that thousands of homeless people have been left out of Mayor Newsom's plans. Lydia Gans photo

The month of May means sunny days and spring flowers. It means May Day when we celebrate workers, and Mother's Day when we show special appreciation for mothers. For many of us, Mother's Day has become something deeper than throwing dollars at the greeting card industry.

This year, it presented an occasion to honor the many mothers who are suffering, whose sons and daughters have been caught up in the war in Iraq and who will come home physically and psychologically wounded, if they come home at all. It was a time to acknowledge mothers who are poor and homeless and struggling to keep their families together.

Many protests were held in an attempt to send these messages to politicians. On May 10, the Coalition on Homelessness gathered on the San Francisco City Hall steps to bring attention to the plight of homeless mothers and children. They called for "Housing First for Families," asking that housing units be set aside so families could move "directly off the streets without first going through a 'readiness process,' shelter or transitional housing program."

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