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Archive for the ‘The Economy–Wealth & Poverty’ Category



The Other Mitzvah (On Homelessness, Purim, and Jews)

Mar6

by: Aryeh Cohen on March 6th, 2015 | No Comments »

Yesterday, Purim, at noon, three of us from the Shtibl minyan went to fulfill the orphaned child of the Purim obligations. Starting in the year Shtibl was established (15 years ago) we decided, as a community, that we would put as much effort into matanot la-evyonim/ gifting to the poor as we poured into mishloach manot/exchanging gifts, hearing the megillah, and having a raucous Purim meal. We started with PB&J sandwiches delivered out of a van driving east on Pico Blvd., and gradually built out (with inspiration from The Giving Spirit), making mini-survival packs (tuna packs, energy bars, first aid kits, antibiotic lotion, hand cream and so on) to go with the PB&J. This year in our small community (20-30 members) we put together 144 packs which were delivered on the Santa Monic boardwalk (“home of the homeless” to quote Harry Shearer) and on Skid Row. Three adults and eight kids went west to the boardwalk, while we drove east to skid row.

A woman delivering food bags to homeless people in Los Angeles.

Credit: matanot-laevyonim-mobile.

Los Angeles’ Skid Row (called “the Row” by activists and people who live there) is more or less a 54 square block area of downtown Los Angeles. It is not an official designation, although Waze, the GPS navigation app, told us exactly how to get there when we typed in “skid row.” There are somewhere between 2500 and 5000 homeless people living on the Row, according to counts by the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority and estimates of the Chamber of Commerce. Still, knowing those numbers (I wrote about LA’s homeless population in my book Justice in the City) does not prepare one for the human reality.

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Abundance, Inequality, Needs, and Privilege

Mar5

by: on March 5th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

consumption-520085_640I am deeply involved in experiments in gift economy, both my own and those I hear about and engage with from the sidelines. The entire thrust of my work with organizations is about supporting a massive shift from adversarial relationships and systems to a collaborative overhaul of all our human affairs. I have just published a book in which I describe my vision of a possible future that is fully collaborative and based on gifting and a revival of the commons.

Given the unmitigated joy I experience at the prospect of giving away my work and being supported by the flow of generosity of those who believe in what I do rather than by people paying for services, I am continually and immensely curious to understand the obstacles to having this experience be the norm rather than the exception. soilsoul3rdIn this post, I am writing about one piece of this huge puzzle that fell into place for me: why the idea of “deserving” might have come into existence, and how it’s related to the difficulties in establishing gifting and collaboration.

Recently, Alastair McIntosh sent me a gift copy of his book Soil and Soul, in response to a review of mine that was published in Tikkun about David Bollier’s book Think like a Commoner. Gifts and shared resources were in the air as I started reading the book and was instantly transported into the semi-pre-modern milieu that was Alastair’s upbringing in Scotland, on an island fifty miles off its coast. I have most of the book still ahead of me to enjoy, and already it supported me in pushing my thinking forward.

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Once White in America: Raising Black Sons in a White Country

Feb28

by: Jane Lazarre on February 28th, 2015 | No Comments »

A white mother and her biracially Black son waving on the beach.

Novelist and memoirist Jane Lazarre offers an intimate, lyrical, post-Ferguson look at what it’s meant to her to raise her two black sons in a world that isn't so black-and-white. Credit: CreativeCommons / Everett Harper.

For Adam and Khary

Black bodies
swingin’ in
the summer
breeze
strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees

It was 1969 and 1973, both times in early fall, when I first saw your small bodies, rose and tan, and fell in love for the second and third time with a black body, as it is named, for my first love was for your father. Always a word lover, I loved his words, trustworthy, often not expansive, sometimes even sparse, but always reliable and clear. How I—a first-generation Russian-Jewish girl—loved clarity! Reliable words—true words, measured words, filled with fascinating new life stories, drawing

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Globalizing Black History Month: Recalling the Professor and the Punjabi Lion

Feb25

by: Murali Balaji on February 25th, 2015 | No Comments »

As February winds down, one of the most overlooked aspects of Black History Month is how African Americans influenced and were influenced by global movements, particularly before the start of the civil rights era.

A long-forgotten part of the global exchange is during the periods between the World Wars, when African-American activists and intellectuals had frequent interactions with counterparts in other parts of the world. In this spirit, it should be noted that long before Mahatma Gandhi’s activism inspired the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights leaders, another trans-Atlantic relationship would play a significant role in shaping African-American thought: the close friendship between W.E.B. Du Bois and Indian freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai, known by many as the Lion of Punjab.

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Jubilee and Debt Abolition: A Bill Collector’s Perspective

Feb18

by: Jerry Ashton on February 18th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

As a “bill collector” by profession, I am the last person that many would expect to advocate for the abolition of debt. If all debts were abolished, my profession would not exist!

But my experiences as a bill collector are exactly why I have arrived at the belief that here in the U.S., if not the world, a Jubilee is in order. I believe that every personal debt of any magnitude needs to be evaluated and – meeting certain qualifications – abolished.

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Global Divestment Day: Undermining the System that Causes Climate Change

Feb13

by: on February 13th, 2015 | No Comments »

Calling on the United Methodist Church to Divest from Fossil Fuels.

 

Check out the many divestment actions that are taking place around the world today–Global Divestment Day.

The movement to divest from fossil fuels undermines the system that is causing climate change. The worldwide system of unrestrained free-market capitalism, dominated by global corporations and fueled by money, is based on the view that market forces will sort everything out.

Those of us who are working to get our churches, synagogues, colleges, and other institutions to divest from fossil fuels are challenging this system by saying, “Money is not the highest value.” There are good financial reasons to divest from fossil fuels, but even if there weren’t, “If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.” There are values in life that are more important than money.

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Vandana Shiva is the new co-chair of the NSP! And a request from her…

Jan8

by: on January 8th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives are delighted to announce that Vandana Shiva, the internationally acclaimed environmental activist from India has become the international co-chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives along with Rabbi Michael Lerner. Dr. Shiva has contributed in fundamental ways to changing the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food. Her books The Violence of the Green Revolution and Monocultures of the Mind pose essential challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, industrial agriculture. Through her books Biopiracy, Stolen Harvest and Water Wars, Dr. Shiva has made visible the social, economic and ecological costs of corporate-led globalization.

In her letter to us accepting the position of NSP co-chair, Vandana Shiva requested that we send out to you her request that you read the information below, and then sign and send the letter included below to President Obama and President Modi. You can copy and send the letter below to President Obama at the White House website. President Modi will receive messages mailed to the Embassy of India, 2107 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Washington, DC 20008 or by calling (202) 939-7000 or by faxing (202) 265-4351.

In her letter to us accepting this position, Dr. Shiva also enthusiastically endorsed the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution proposed by the Network of Spiritual Progressives. She had previously told us that she was particularly enthusiastic about the section of the ESRA which eliminates all private and corporate money from elections and the part which requires corporations to prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a panel of ordinary citizens in order to get or renew (every five years) their corporate charter. Please read it at www.tikkun.org/esra and help us get your local city council, state legislature, Congressional representatives and U.S. Senators, your local branches of whatever political party you belong to, your church, synagogue, mosque or ashram, your college of university, your union or professional organization, and your local civic and social change oriented organizations to publicly endorse it.

If you have not yet joined the NSP, please do so now by clicking here. Warm wishes for a wonderful New Year. We face immense challenges with a new Congress determined to undo environmental protections and defund social welfare programs for the poor and powerless. Don’t face those challenges alone! JOIN THE NSP!

With gratitude for your support,

Cat J. Zavis

Executive Director

Cat@spiritualprogressives.org

Broken Words

Dec4

by: on December 4th, 2014 | Comments Off

I fear a new racial climate change and global warming. There are no more poems left for me to write. Every word is now broken in my hand.

E. Ethelbert Miller

I’ve been a fan of the proposal to make police wear body cameras, but yesterday’s decision not to charge New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner has reminded me to question my own confidence in documentary truth.

Since the decision came down, protesters gathered in Times Square, Columbus Circle, and other locations, often chanting Garner’s last words – “I can’t breathe.” People staged a die-in in Grand Central Station. New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio talked about educating his black son about the dangers he faces at the hands of police, and told constituents that Attorney General Eric Holder had assured him that the federal government would investigate the violation of Garner’s rights. At the Ferguson Response site, you can find demonstrations planned across the country under the banner #ThisStopsToday. Color of Change is calling for federal intervention, and many others are taking action.

You see, even without body-cams, there is video of Eric Garner’s arrest and killing that provides better information about what actually happened than a body-cam could. And still, the Grand Jury on Staten Island (the only Republican-dominated borough, two-thirds white) failed to indict.

I should have recognized the flaw in my own thinking, as I’ve pointed out similar lapses so many times. We sometimes fall into the trap of believing that if people only knew how bad things were, they’d support necessary change. But in these times, many people know and act as if they don’t.

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The Right keeps winning America, but here’s what we’re doing about it.

Dec4

by: on December 4th, 2014 | Comments Off

We’ve reached the eighth week of our Fall Fundraising Campaign and we’re nearing our goal. Help us reach even further today!
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As a reader of Tikkun Daily, we know you appreciate our unique voice and unflinching commentary, but did you know that your donations help create something even greater than just words on a page? For instance, Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives will be hosting a town hall meeting to strategize what our next steps are following the takeover of the Congress by the Right.

Help us work with you to manifest the positive transformation that we believe our society so desperately needs. We need your commitment to join us in making this vision a reality. Despite what the Right might want us to believe, this vision is not utopic, it’s possible as long as we join forces together, to uplift one another in our shared goal. You donations truly allow Tikkun and the NSP to serve as the connector between ourselves and our perception for a better future. Please support us in reaching our collective goal.


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Remembering Leslie Feinberg—A Queer and Trans Fighter for Justice

Nov19

by: Dean Spade on November 19th, 2014 | Comments Off

I will never forget the first time I saw Leslie Feinberg speak – New York City, 1996. The auditorium was full of young people like me who had read Stone Butch Blues and wanted to hear about gender and queerness. Leslie spoke about those things, but also about war and labor struggles and racism and U.S. militarism, refusing to deliver the narrow single-issue politics that the mainstreaming gay rights discourse had trained us to expect. It blew my mind and transformed what I thought was possible to say and be. I still think of Leslie every time I give a speech, hoping to build connections like the ones I saw Leslie build.

Feinberg

Leslie Feinberg speaks at a rally.

I read Stone Butch Blues not long after I moved to New York City in 1995. The scenes from that book – scenes of violence as well as scenes of love and finding connection to resistance movements – were burned in my brain, shaping how I understood the city. I still think of scenes from that book each time I enter certain subway stations or walk certain streets. In so many ways, Leslie made maps for queer and trans Left activists that we all continue to use to navigate, whether we know it or not.

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