An open letter to legislators, for racial and economic justice, and revenue:
Today I joined the Statewide Poverty Action Network lobbying team, met with our LD 22 legislators, and delivered a version of the following letter to LD 22 legislators Hunt, Fraser, and Reykdal. I'm interested in broadcasting the ideas more broadly as open letter to all legislators. It's not perfect, just the best I can do at this time.
Monday 21 January 2013, Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.
"It's time to end poverty."
⌚ Sat 24 July 2010 ☻ Ivan Illich (reading), Stephen Bezruchka, Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett
This week we challenge traditional ideas about wealth and poverty. Our main piece is by two English professors, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett on their 2009 book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. But first, we conclude the Ivan Illich reading from episode 554.
Let us find some way to discuss community matters other than just making a law against something, hoping it will go away. That's what the city government has done for the past 10 years - no sitting there, no panhandling for money here, no sleeping under that bridge, no loitering in the parks, no congregating on the sidewalks. So, just where do they expect the homeless to go? Do they want them all to buy houses and start a family? Or do they wish they would just dry out and blow away?
The impetus for these laws comes from specific sectors of the community, not all of us feel that way. And the issue is too broad and complex to hope a single law or gaggle of laws, enforced by police, is going to make things better. For example, there are some who say they chose the lifestyle - footloose and fancy free. Whether that is factually true or merely a rationalization on their part due to circumstance is hard to get at. Then there are the mentally ill, who have been taken out of treatment centers and put on the streets to fend for themselves. And there are hard working families and or single women with children who, because of economics (think Wall Street & Big Bank Bailouts), rely on the support of the community for shelter and safety.
Tomorrow, activities begin at the Capitol Theatre at 12noon, and at the Legislative Building at around 2:30...
Sorry to everyone who showed up late, there was some trouble keeping the electronics dry, and after the attempted wedding between corporations and the state, we packed up and left.
...about that unholy matrimony, there maybe good news to report. After the officiator of the ceremony asked if there were any objections, a great cry rose up from the people, and despite an obvious attempt by the corporations to hush the crowd, and steal the state, the embarrassed bride turned, and lobbed a bouquet of solid cash to the people.
Here's some early coverage from today:
update: more photos posted below the fold
Monday 7 February 2011
Washington State Capitol Campus, Olympia—Welfare rights activists gathered at the capitol today to protest budget cuts that disproportionately affect poor people. Members of POWER (that stands for Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights) as well as members of Washington CAN (Community Action Network —some of whom traveled from Seattle) rallied just to the South of the Legislative Building, around the campus sundial.
Members of Washington CAN handed out packets with soap, disinfectant, and face-masks designed to protect against disease brought on by big corporate lobbyists. According to CAN, today was Big Bank Lobby Day.
There was lunch, provided by volunteers, and at one point people gathered in a hearty chant of "beat back the bank attack!"
In this photo, there are a couple of guys with cowboy hats. Obviously, people lobby on various causes on the same day, but then maybe the new style for big bank lobbyists is to wear cowboy hats.
I was handing out copies of the February 2011 Works in Progress, but most of the people working on the capitol campus would not take them, and many would not even look me in the eye.
I had a letter to the editor published in today's Olympian newspaper. I want to add an important concept to it. The idea is that society is harmful—so much so that it is even to the point of causing actual impairment. Society is violent. Society causes disease. In my opinion, people who are disabled from normal function in society—because of society's violent nature—deserve support.
I also recently wrote a letter to Governor Gregoire, and I'll include information about that below the LTE.
Here is the letter to the editor:
There were many sights, sounds, and smells around downtown Olympia last night!
For example, while walking down the hill I could see a strange cloud wafting over the Westside. It was kind of surreal, ethereal. And although it was dark at 8:30 PM much earlier than it was three months ago, the air stayed relatively warm.
Here are some photos from a walk to and around Capitol Lake (aka FLOD, that is, fetid lake of doom—which it did smell like in places,) and then also a few others from the past week, including Percival Landing, and Coffee Strong—with information about how to support Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, plus a letter to Governor Gregoire about why it is incorrect to cut social services and supports during a time of great need.
Have a great week!
South Capitol Lake from Marathon and Heritage Park Pedestrian Bridge at Night September 2010
Recently the Olympian ran an article describing how the homeless are soon to be evicted from their camps near some popular trails in Olympia. We would encourage you to read their story for context before continuing.
Because Gail and I work with a non profit that serves the homeless and low income, we wanted to see the situation for ourselves. So with the help of Tracy from EGYHOP we located the camp of Brandy, Kimberly, and their dog Newt.
When we found their place, it turned out to be a welcome refuge from yet another downpour – the tent was unobtrusive and invisible a long ways off of a popular city trail, both cozy and surprisingly roomy – and our gracious hosts invited us to have a seat and visit awhile.
On the path leading to their tent home there was no trash or pile of clothes in sight. When the tent structure came into view it was clear someone had put a lot of thought into how to construct a home with little to no money that could withstand a northwest winter.
An area had been leveled out so that a larger tent structure made from canvas could stand on level ground. The whole thing is covered with tarps. Inside, poles support the roof so it doesn’t sag with the weight of the tarps on top of it.
The large tent serves as a living area with room for furniture retrieved from dumpsters, carpet, clothing, and storage. A smaller tent with shelves and a bed made from many blankets comprises the bedroom.