Category Archives: Activism/Social Change

Whoa, this looks rad: Activist convergence at the Wooden Shoe this Saturday

Note: I almost never repost press releases, but I absolutely have no time to write a story about this. However, I love, love, LOVE this event. Spending the day at Wooden Shoe Books (anarchist bookstore in Philly) with ACT UP, Prometheus Radio, the Coalition to Save the Public Libraries and TransHealth is too good an opportunity not to talk up.

So, I’m sorry for this sloppy post & don’t blame Wooden Shoe for this post. Because I’m virtually WordPress illiterate, I have no idea how to change the font size and formatting of the original release, which I got second hand & ended up looking ugly and messy. But the info is all there…

Wooden Shoe is moving soon

Wooden Shoe is moving soon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2009

CONTACT: http://woodenshoebooks.com sabot@woodenshoebooks.com 215.413.0999

Moving Forward: All-Day Convergence to Celebrate the Wooden Shoe’s New Space on South Street

Saturday October 3rd, 2009 11-7 pm

Politics, Skillshares, Organizing, and Fun

At 508 S. 5th St. (old) and 704 South Street (new)

PHILADELPHIA–The Wooden Shoe Books Collective is moving about two blocks away to 704 South Street in the fall. For 32 and a half years, we’ve been distributing radical literature, serving as an informational space for radical movements in Philadelphia. In early October, we will be relocated to 704 South Street, in a bigger space with a little more flexibility and a bit more foot traffic than we have now. We have been at our current location for twelve years and it has been nice, but we feel like we have reached the limitations of what we can achieve with the space.

We are excited to announce that The Wooden Shoe will be opening our new space on October 10th and invite you to a preview of it on October 3rd for a full day of workshops and a roundtable discussion on “Sustaining Radical Spaces in the Capitalist Crisis” featuring local and regional activists…

Saturday October 3rd, 2009
11:00 am-7:00 pm

SCHEDULE

11:00-12:00

WELCOME
@
704 South Street (New Space)

12:00-12:15

INTRO OF THE DAY
@
704 South Street (New Space)
12:30-1:15

Promethesus Radio Project

“Prometheus builds, supports, and advocates for community radio stations which empower participatory community voices and movements for social change. To that end, we demystify technologies, the political process that governs access to our media system, and the effects of media on our lives and our communities.”
@
704 South Street (New Space)
Union Organizing Basics with Dorian Lam and Daniel Duffy
If you wanted to start a union at your workplace, what would be the very first things you’d do? How do you keep it going?
@
508 s. 5th Street (Old Space)

1:30PM-2:15


Know-Your-Rights with Aaron Marcus
A Basic Know-Your-Rights in encounters with the police.
@
508 s. 5th St. (Old Space)
ACT UP Philadelphia
Aids Coalition to Unleash Power, one of philly’s oldest and fightingest organizations, in a presentation on the fight to end the AIDS crisis.
@
704 South Street (New Space)
2:30-3:15

Coalition to Save the Libraries
A Presentation on the year-long fight to Save the Libraries and other Essential Services in the face of a relentless mayor and a tough economic crisis, and how you can help!
@
704 South Street (New Space)
3:30-4:15

TransHealth with Kelly and Carolanne (in assistance) of Babeland

This interactive, candid workshop explores sexuality for transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, intersexed, and gender variant folks and partners. Learn sex toy tips and advanced techniques, communication skills, and negotiating partner play. We will… cover tools and information for choosing toys and products that are right for every BODY and how to incorporate them into your sensual life.
@
704 South Street (New Space)
Running a Radical Newspaper
with the Defenenstrator Collective!
@
508 s. 5th Street (Old Space)

4:15-5:30 BREAK

5:30-7:00PM
A Roundtable Discussion
“Sustaining Radical Spaces In the Capitalist Crisis”

WITH

James Generic
of Wooden Shoe Books (Philadelphia)

Clarissa
of A-Space (Philadelphia)

Kate Khatib
of Red Emma’s (Baltimore) and the AK Press collective

Suzanne Shaffer
of AK Press Collective

Vallan Anundson
of the DC Space (DC) (a new space in the works in Washington DC area)

Suzanne Shaffer
of AK Press

Come help us welcome in our new space and learn a thing or two, with our friendly staff and friends!

Showdown in Fishtown

sugarhouseno

Casino-Free Philadelphia is upping the ante on it’s battle against casinos in Philadelphia. On Tuesday, September 29th at 6 am about two dozen activists are blocking (civil disobedience) a portion of the Sugarhouse site in Fishtown (Frankford & Delaware Avenue).

They are mobilizing a crowd of concerned Philadelphians to rally near the site and be witnesses to the mayhem that ensues. This action may become an arrest situation, so things might get hairy. And those of us observing may be called upon to help with spreading the news and bearing witness to what happens. Bring your friends and iPhones.

I’m definitely going, so if you want more info feel free to hit me up on gmail or Facebook. Or follow me, @caroline815 on Twitter
For more info, follow @CasinoFreePhila and check out their website… http://www.casinofreephila.org

PA Budget Crisis Explained in Plain English

 

Credit: Alan MacBain from The Mercury

Credit: Alan MacBain from The Mercury

Yes, the Philadelphia public library system is about to close. In case you missed it, here’s the announcement. This week I have seen the uproar of the entire Philadelphia public library system shutting down on October 3. And I’ve known about this situation for months now, and I’ve been to demonstrations, called representatives, but it never occurred to me to say something on my blog except for this. I’m sorry for that. 

Yes, Philadelphia’s famed “Doomsday Budget” is upon us and if no budget, it will be enacted on October 2. This is Mayor Nutter’s “Plan C” budget that was created as a result of the impasse in Harrisburg to pass a Pennsylvania budget. 3,000 city workers will be getting two-week, lay-off notices this coming Monday, September 14th. The Inquirer explained the details succinctly and clearly – so clicky right here

But I hope people dig a little deeper and recognize that the misery is far bigger than the layoffs, library closings, and the shuttering of rec centers. Yes, all those things are extremely bad, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.

The entire Philadelphia services system is running on fumes. Since July, money from the State of Pennsylvania has stopped and anybody to who uses state money gets nothing. Because my agency works with people with HIV/AIDS, I know this first hand. My agency has had layoffs and is borrowing money to stay open. From a bank – with interest. So, yeah the State money will eventually come in, you think, and then everything will be ok.

No, things have changed. Forever. Imagine if your boss stopped issuing you a paycheck and said she’ll pay you back later. You are living paycheck to paycheck. Rent needs to be paid and you need to eat today. So you move in with somebody, sell your stuff, eat Ramen, and stop going to the doctor. And then you get the money back – you can’t exactly recoup your losses easily. So you get a new place and new stuff, but some things are lost forever, until you can make a profit again. But wait, we have a recessed economy. Raises aren’t coming anytime soon and cost of living increases. So essentially, you are fucked. 

That’s how it is for lower-income people in Philly. Services are shuttered already and they aren’t coming back. Pouring food on a person dying of starvation may not save them, since they are to weak to open their mouths to eat. And the budget we are begging for has deep cuts in services. So yeah, we’ll get a budget eventually. But we’ll be getting less. Oh yeah, there will be interest to pay too – so money will be going to the banks as well as the people who need services.

I hate the word services – it is so vague. So let me be specific. Right now, day care centers can’t stay open, which means kids with no place to and working parents scrambling for help. Foster parents aren’t getting paid, which means they can’t buy their foster child school supplies at the start of school. And since Philadelphia teachers can’t get money to have books in their classroom (yeah, teachers usually buy stuff out of pocket for their students), no books at school. Senior citizens don’t have a place to go during the day. Cuts in housing in a city that is desperately in need of it – so more people in shelters and the streets. And the health centers aren’t getting money, so if somebody is sick, well I guess they can wait in line longer. Or hit the ER and endure the 6 hour wait. 

I could go on…but I think you get the picture.

As for what you can do, I say call your state rep. If you know anybody who lives in Delaware County, get them to put pressure on State Senator Dominic Pileggi. He’s on the Senate Appropriations Committee and a mover and shaker with this budget stuff. He’s also a Republican and not sympathetic to Philadelphia so he’s needs nudging. So talk to him. 

Also, what you can do is work to improve life in Philadelphia over the long run. The recession has devastated us all, but threatens the very survival of poorer people. Get involved now and stay involved. Putting in some volunteer labor & throwing in some charitable donations can’t hurt either. In fact, I’ll be hitting you up for the Philly AIDS Walk soon.

Norris Square, Here I come

An oasis in Norris Square

An oasis in Norris Square

Hey, I’m leaving the suburbs and moving back to the city. I simply love Philadelphia too much to not live there.

And I have found a gigantic apartment that I love. It is the first floor of a building, which means I have plenty of space – my own basement, a large private backyard and a living room that is so huge, that I can divide it into two spaces.

And it’s more that twice the size and costs the same as my current apartment in Ardmore. (Completely off topic rant: Yes, people, I’m currently a Main Liner, but I am vehemently opposed to stereotyping people on the basis of geography. For example: If I hear one more person defame those “awful hipsters” in Fishtown, I will rip their hearts out.

My place is near 2nd and Berks and there was some debate among my friends about which neighborhood I will live in. My friend who did some googling discovered that I live in West Kensington. More specifically, I live in the heart of Norris Square.

Norris Square is bounded by Berks at the South, Allegheny on the North, 5th Street to the West and Front Street to the East. Norris Square Park is in the middle of the neighborhood.

The Berks el stop is right there and I’ve seen quite a few buses in the area so transit shouldn’t be a problem. I even timed the walk from work, if I’m ever so inclined to skip the el, and it took me a doable 65 minutes.

But I won’t lie to you. There is blight in the neighborhood, few services, and likely I’ll be grocery shopping at Reading Terminal Market near where I work rather in my community. And the abandoned factories and warehouses demonstrate that this once vibrant area has suffered many economic losses.

Graffiti art on my block

Graffiti art on my block

But I used to be a community organizer and I know that if I want to beautify and support my neighborhood, I have the power to do that if I work with people. I plan to join the neighborhood association, visit the many local improvement iniatives (such as the youth center & the housing program), and I hear there is a women’s organization dedicated to the neighborhood. Also, I will frequent the small businesses in my neighborhood – the pizza shop, the lounge, and the beauty shop across the street.

I appreciate my new neighborhood’s charms and pitfalls. I guess that means I already feel at home there.

Doomsday Budget Speakout

Repost from Coaliton to Save the Libraries.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 27,
NOON, CITY HALL, 4th Floor
(Outside Council Chambers)
Speak out at the People’s Hearing on the city’s Doomsday Budget, organized by the Coalition to Save the Libraries. The Coalition is organizing the People’s Hearing because City Council canceled its public hearing on the Doomsday Budget and the people’s voice must be heard. Closing all libraries, all recreation centers, 2 health centers and laying off 3000 workers will plunge our vulnerable neighborhoods further into crisis and deepen the recession’s impact on all Philadelphians. Speakers from neighborhoods across Philadelphia and leaders of community organizations will indict City Hall and demand the transparency that Mayor Nutter promised when he ran for office. Let us know if you’d like to speak out at the People’s Hearing: contact Kristin Campbell at 215-880-9007.

Below is the list of some of the program cuts the Senate Republicans are fighting for:

Will YOUR community be affected by the state’s proposed cuts?

Drug Education & Law Enforcement 100%
Violence Prevention 100%
Police on Patrol 100%
Safe Neighborhoods 100%
Inmate Education 21%
CHIP Program 10,000Children Cut
Child Care 29%
Pre K Counts 50%
Head Start 50%
Cancer Programs 57%
HIV/AIDS Programs 25%
Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Services 24%
Human Services Development Fund 10%
Regional Cancer Centers 100%
Tourette’s Syndrome 100%
Hemophilia 100%
Epilepsy 100%
Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia 100%
Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh 100%
Fox Chase Cancer Institute 100%
Burn Foundation 100%
Adult Literacy 27%
Charter Schools 12%
High School Reform 75%
University of PA 100%
Pa College of Optometry 100%
University of the Arts 100%
Science and Math Education 100%
HEMAP 10%
Customized Job Training 54%
Business Retention and Expansion 100%
Small Business Development Centers 62%
Minority Business Devpt Agency 100%
Housing & Redevelopment Assistance 100%
Self-Employment Assistance, Family Savings Program, PA Community Devpt. Bank 100%
Arts & Culture 100%
Pennsylvania Public Libraries 50%
Autism Intervention & Services 24%

Acoustic Torture at Animal Welfare Event

Their Likenesses Played the Rotunda!

Their Likenesses Played the Rotunda!

For the first time this summer, I skipped dancing over the weekend. I stuck to mellow activities like brunch at Morning Glory, BBQ in Fishtown, and a craft fair in West Philly. I wanted conversation in a less volume saturated setting.

At the craft fair sponsored by Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia at the Rotunda on Saturday, I visited my friends behind catFlowers. They were limper than their usual upbeat selves. The fair’s attendance was sparser than expected and on top of that they had been spending hours listening to the corny banter of acoustic musicians onstage. Looking at the hang dog expressions of the craft vendors 5 feet from the stage, I could hear them pleading silently, “Die, now. Please.”

Handmade Pillow Designed by CatFlowers

Handmade Pillow Designed by CatFlowers

But people remained upbeat- after all, the craft fair was raising money for abused and neglected animals in Philly. I chatted up the vendors and heard their stories. There was a woman who designs headbands with intricate beaded insects and there were the bike obsessed people with silk screened tees. I reserved my love for catFlowers though because I had happy sticker shock when looking at their handmade earrings – $5 for a pair of bows in animal print. And their meticulously hand made cat-themed pillows are affordable art. See their etsy site for their latest designs.

I was happy to depart as the endless queue of troubadours continued their assault of overlong intros, describing the latest song they composed while humping a tree.

I Won’t Sponsor the Children

frownIncreasingly I have been feeling survivor’s guilt every time I pass by the street canvassers who populate the sidewalks. If you ever walk around downtown, you know them- young, attractive and smiling at you in their blue polo shirts with their clipboards. I’ve noticed them now for at least 2 years and recently I have started chatting them up. From my conversations with them, I have learned  that they are raising money for Children’s International, a nonprofit. But they are hired by a for-profit company Dialogue Direct who contracts their labor. 

These young people get paid about $10 an hour plus commission and from what I hear, they get fired right away if they don’t meet quote. My guess is that on a good day they may close the deal a handful of times, so they hear hundreds of noes before they get one yes. Brutal. Because I am a fundraiser, I have great sympathy for them more than for their cause. I wish I could slip one of them a twenty and tell them to go buy themselves a good meal or a beer. But I know that in their idealistic zeal they’d rather earn their money funneled through their employers pocket’s first.

I ended up in a lengthy conversation today with a canvass manager. He was affable and was obviously quite good at what he does considering he was with Dialogue Direct and Children’s International for 4 years. Whew, he’s a veteran in the grassroots fundraising game. Apparently Children’s International started in Europe and UK and they decided to test the street canvass model in the US. From research, Children’s International is a legit charity doing humanitarian work through “saving” one child at a time. However, Children’s International will supply a child (and indirectly their family) with food, water, medicine, and school books. But it does nothing to change the conditions that led to poverty in the first place. 

How much Dialogue Direct takes off the top before giving to Children’s International is anybody’s guess. And Children’s International takes 20% of the top for administrative expenses. (Including a hefty CEO salary). Dialogue Direct is obviously making some money from their operations and this Flickr story asked some interesting questions. 

After giving this issue some thought, I am thoroughly nauseated to see that Dialogue Direct/Children’s International is a vacuum sucking up spare change on the sidewalks and then taking all that money to pay other people who are about “helping” children. The truth is sponsorship programs do not give money directly to poor children and their families. Instead, there is an infrastructure of people who benefit from this charity including Dialogue Direct for-profiteers, canvassers, field organizers, and producers of products. In these recessionary times, I am fine that we have another employer out there, but it is working on the backs of poor children.

My friend Rich is on the telephone right now while I am writing my blog post. While he agrees the sponsorship concept is odious, it can serve a purpose. Sponsorship humanizes the suffering in the world and can put people on the path of compassion. And that compassion can lead to political action. 

Because Children’s International does nothing to solve the root causes of poverty, they support the perpetuation of poverty and the endless cycle of ineffectual charity. And if you look at the statistics of the millions of preventable deaths every year and how little the U.S. gives there needs to be political action.

So I will gladly say, I won’t sponsor a child with Dialogue Direct/Children’s International. But I’m not off the hook morally or financially. I have money in my pockets that need to go elsewhere.