by Kathleen Lees
[Full post here.]
Carrying boxes of canned food, hot meals and blankets for distribution, Occupy Sandy volunteers do their part to help those hit hard by the hurricane throughout Coney Island, the Rockaways and other areas.
“We just got in a shipment of 1,400 blankets,” says Easton Smith to volunteers as he bustles into a downstairs kitchen. He is the site coordinator at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew at 520 Clinton Ave., one of three Occupy Sandy hubs, with the others at St. Jacobi Church at 5406 4th Ave. and the Red Hook Initiative at 767 Hicks Street.
Easton says with the help of Occupy Faith, an interfaith grassroots relief effort developed through Occupy Wall Street organizers, local churches have opened their doors to store donations, train volunteers and provide other relief efforts.
“They were like ‘yes, use our church,’” Easton, a resident of Bushwick, said. He added that over 2,500 volunteers had signed up to help at the location.
By Father Paul Mayer
Originally published in The Huffington Post
Monday’s New York Times suggests that even the one percent, the leaders of Wall Street, have been effected by the power of Hurricane Sandy. Certainly millions of middle class people have suffered dislocation, as well as loss of electricity, homes and their sense of security. What has been less discussed by the media and political leaders is how poor people (words hardly mentioned during the elections) here and around the world, whose daily support base is already fragile, have been the primary victims of Sandy and climate change in general.
In New York City, the residents of low income communities, such as Rockaway and the Lower East Side — most of them people of color, along with many elders and children — were first of all disproportionally vulnerable to the fury of the storm and then found themselves in dark streets and apartments and stranded in high rise buildings without elevators, without food or water and without the same level of timely aid as the more affluent areas. Happily, noble volunteer groups such as Occupy Sandy have stepped into the breach, a tribute to the ingenuity and generosity of the Occupy movement.
Even less known is the toll that Sandy took on the already struggling Carribean area before it touched on the U.S. mainland. Beautiful Santiago, the second largest city of Cuba with 500,000 people and 650,000 more on its outskirts was slammed by a Level 5 hurricane, which flattened its homes, schools and hospitals. They still have no electrical power after two weeks, while parts of New York City lit up after four days. Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, was also devastated.
On September27, almost prophetically a few days before Sandy, several Carribean and other heads of state made an urgent appeal to the next UN Climate Change Conference to be held on Nov. 29 in Qatar. They challenged the UN, in light of the failure of many of the past climate gatherings, to finally create concrete plans, strategies, financial aid and binding treaties to address the climate crisis, especially as it impacts the developing nations.
In their statements, these leaders insisted that their people are already the victims of global scorching:
“The islands of our planet are at war against climate change, warming temperatures and rising seas… Entire nations… may cease to exist as a result of our inaction.”
These are the voices of the poor — of the lowest percentile of the 99 percent — calling out to us. They are telling us that the climate policies of the richer nations and of the energy corporations do not represent their interests or the interests of Mother Earth. Sandy is a dramatic reminder of the words of Jesus: “Whatever you did not do for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did not do it to me.” ( Matthew 25)
This free event will allow those who do not have tickets for the sold out show to come together as we abolish debt, a revolutionary act of solidarity and mutual aid.
Thursday November 15
6:30 to 11pm
Church of the Village
201 W 13th Street- Entrance on 7th Ave.
New York NY 10011
Faith Leaders will talk about the spiritual crisis of money, debt and power, and how these issues are central to faith traditions.
8pm- Screening of The People’s Bailout Variety Show and Telethon
We will watch the telethon to launch The Rolling Jubilee, a campaign that buys debt for pennies on the dollar and does away with it. Instead of collecting the debt, we will abolish it and help free the debtors!
8pm- Breakout conversations
There will be breakout discussions around student, health care, credit card and housing debt, as well as reflections and conversations about Hurricane Sandy, climate change, and debt.
We will gather in celebration, watching, listening, sharing ideas and projects. It will be a wild night of music, comedy, magic, education, and the unexpected, both at the Church of the Village and at Le Poisson Rouge.
November 15th ~ Doors open at 6:30 pm, Speakers at 7:00pm
With the election now over, the ongoing contribution of the “Occupy” Movement represents a spiritual challenge to all our faith communities. What do our traditions have to say about money, debt, and power? Why are our faith communities largely silent on these issues of economic justice? All of us know that the kind of change we are looking for won’t come from our elected officials; it will have to come from us.
Join us next Thursday Night at The Church of the Village: doors open at 6:30 pm, but the program will begin at 7pm. We will be hearing from faith leaders on why these issues are so central to our faith traditions, and why the time has come for a new spiritual revival. Then, starting at 8 pm, we will be watching the live stream feed of “The People’s Bailout.” Catch this star-studded event (including our very own Rev. Jacqui Lewis and Rev. Clint Miller) which will be raising money for something we’re calling “The Rolling Jubilee” (scroll down for more information).
Here at Occupy Faith, we are calling for a new kind of religious conversation in this country. A conversation that recognizes that the reality of crushing debt for so many Americans is not a Republican issue, or a Democrat issue, it is a spiritual issue. We believe that nothing short of a prophetic revival is called for, and we are reaching out to people of faith like you and asking them to rearticulate and reclaim our core religious values around money, debt, and power. In a culture shaped by the so-called “prosperity Gospel,” all our debt stories are private and shameful, like unforgiveable Sins, never to be spoken aloud in the company of good people. But the truth is a system of oppression designed to keep people in debt, and we are asking for all people of faith to speak out.
The Occupy Movement is offering two ways to help facilitate this conversation…
1. “A People’s Investigation of Money, Debt, and Power (API).” This is not only a way to get all our private stories of crushing debt out into the open, it is a way to get everyone in our communities involved in the context of their own lives: either by sharing their own stories, or by collecting the stories of their families, and friends, and neighbors and co-workers. Our hope is that you might facilitate wider discussions around these stories within the pastoral context of your local community, but depending on the current commitments of your church, we will also be forwarding you a draft letter that can be forwarded to your community listservs, websites, and bulletin boards, that lets people know how they can be involved as individuals. Send your personal stories of loss or interest in gathering stories from your networks, in any format, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. “The Rolling Jubilee,” is an amazing new campaign from the Strike Debt working group of Occupy Wall-Street. Watch for an email next week with more details on the campaign’s November 15th launch, but the basic idea is this: raising money to buy debt (for pennies on the dollar), and then cancelling it. As a trial run, Occupy organizers spent $466 and bought $14,000 of debt. $100,000 could be bought for approximately $5,000. Through this facility, local faith communities could directly purchase medical debt, credit card debt, payday loan debt, and certain types of student loan debt and then simply do away with it. You could even buy debt based on zip codes, targeting the poorest communities. Watch for more information after November 15th, 2012, or click here.
Occupy Faith is a decentralized movement, applying to anyone who recognizes the divine call to economic justice in all our communities. So in addition to the suggestions outlined above, we are asking for your sermons, and papers, and op-eds on debt and economic justice; as well as your bright ideas, and bold experiments on building new solutions in your local context. So others can be inspired by your witness and learn from best practices, write to us atoccupyfaithNYC@gmail.com and share what you are saying and doing in your local community.
If you agree with us that a new kind of religious conversation is called for around money, debt, and power, please consider forwarding this invitation within your own networks.
Occupy Faith NYC
Join the Facebook page, here.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Occupy Movement here in NYC has been on the ground round the clock coordinating mutual aid for those most impacted by the storm. But there is still much work to be done, and resources are especially needed. So here at Occupy Faith we are reaching out to all faith communities for resources. Specifically we are looking for any/all dry goods, bottled water, flashlights, blankets, and batteries of all shapes and sizes (but especially for flashlights). These should all be delivered by mail or in person to one of the following two locations:
Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew
520 Clinton Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Between the hours of 10a-6p
Judson Memorial Church
239 Thompson Street
New York, NY 10012
Between the hours of 10a-6p
In addition, materials and volunteers, can meet up to coordinate with Occupy Sandy Relief at:
Intersection of 4th Ave & 54th Street
Brooklyn (Sunset Park), NY
Between the hours of 10a-4p
IMPORTANT NOTE: there is a special need for EMT workers, doctors, nurses (any health care professionals) and liscensed social workers. All such volunteers should call immediately to 303.961.6072 (the Occupy Sandy bank number).
Let us remember to keep everyone impacted by this storm in our thoughts and prayers throughout this difficult time.
December 8, 12:30-4pm
Occupy Catholics and friends will gather near Trinity Church for a speak on out debt and radical Christianity. For details on the location of the assembly and the sleepover click here.
November 15 at 8:00 PM
The People’s Bailout, a variety show and telethon to benefit the 99% with Janeane Garofalo, Lizz Winstead, Max Silvestri, Hari Kondabolu, David Rees, The Yes Men, John Cameron Mitchell, Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio, Climbing Poetree, the Invisible Army of Defaulters, members of Healthcare for the 99%, Occupy Faith and many more. Read more.
Go directly to the action page – click here.
It’s time democracy works on this issue for over a million workers and their families. For this to happen, we need everyone’s voices to rise—and more than ever we need faith leaders to exercise their prophetic voices and establish their moral authority on this crucial and urgent issue.
One way you can help is by signing on to the faith letter here. As you sign on and augment the power of our collective voice, our hope is that we can together plan the next action steps in raising up the voice of faith, starting with the delivery of (ideally the letter the week of October 29th).
Go directly to the action page - click here.
Reflecting On What We Did: Occupy Faith and The Occupy Birthday
By Bishop George Packard
“Flexibility” is the phrase I’d apply to the Occupy Faith response to the OWS anniversary weekend of 15-17 September. On Saturday, the 15th, through our “A People’s Investigation” format convened at Washington Square we had intended to circulate among the crowd at the Town Square Meeting after a big announcement. We worked from an information table in a bazaar-like atmosphere opposite the fountain. [Read more. Watch video.]
A People’s Investigation of Money, Debt and Power (API)
Next Meeting Tuesday, October 2 at 5:30
Judson Memorial Church
We are excited to announce that the API team played an active role in S15–Occupy Wall Street’s pop-up occupation of Washington Square Park on September 15th. During this lively day of assemblies and cross-issue organizing, we announced API, gave out flyers and buttons, talked with independent journalists, and conducted a story circle in which our team interviewed two people affected by the finanical crisis and deeply upset by current conditions in America. API will be moving forward this month with trainings, web-site development, discussions about our internal decision-making structure, consultation with the Occupy Faith visioning work group, trainings, and outreach to faith leaders and other movement allies.
Occupy Faith’s Vision – a draft
In preparation for S17, OccupyFaith NYC’s visioning workgroup drafted a statement intended to guide our work going into the future. The statement was read at the Red Cube meet up, and will be finalized at an upcoming OF general meeting.
“Occupy Faith sets forth a moral and faith-based imperative for the Occupy movement. We heed the voice crying in the American wilderness for justice; we have a heart for the poor, the powerless, the disenfranchised; we uphold the laborer of every class in the value and righteousness of her or his labor; and we summon the American conscience to stand up for equality and social and economic justice for all.”
The Barclays Center Opens Next Week
Vigil on Thursday, September 27th 7pm at Barclays Center.
Brooklyn Clergy with Brooklyn Speaks, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, Fifth Avenue Committee, Families United for Racial & Economic Equality and many others gather at the Barclasys Center to highlight the crime scene of broken promises, protecting corporate interests, and community betrayal. [Download flyer. Read NY Times article.]
By Bishop George Packard
“Flexibility” is the word I’d apply to the Occupy Faith response to the OWS anniversary weekend of 15-17 September.
On Saturday, the 15th, through our “A People’s Investigation” format convened at Washington Square we had intended to circulate among the crowd at the Town Square Meeting after a big announcement. We worked from an information table in a bazaar-like atmosphere opposite the fountain. But OWS was running late and the People’s Microphone began two hours late. We were recording stories and getting traction, though, but also distributing tracts and networking. It was a smart idea for Jill to convene a circle conversation about API during the breakout session. There were some extraordinary moments of sharing on that patch of lawn, especially the interviews orchestrated by Steve Golin.
On Sunday, the 16th, Occupy Faith’s meditation and “connecting presence” after the concert and as a means to escort the crowd to the Rosh Hashana service became an evolving story. A good one, but filled with changes by 10 minute intervals. OF was the entity which negotiated with the NYPD about the route of procession…surprise, surprise! It worked out fine but I was to realize again the next day that OWS—despite weeks of planning—depends on Occupy Faith-like groups to be in the core of action though they may not say so. Sr. Susan gave a rousing meditation, Brook taught a song, and I gave a message and then we processed, singing, down to Zuccotti from Foley without incident. Donna gave greetings to the Rosh Hashana gathering which filled jubilantly filled Zuccotti.
And then there was Monday! (the 17th) Grace Davie convened us in front of St. Paul’s Chapel (Front and Broadway) because of concerns about confusion at the Red Square rallying point. After counting noses we set off. Heretofore, I expected we’d circumnavigate the perimeter of the financial district pausing with a bit of reflection here (Don Fleck’s fine piece), a reading there. But as we settled in at the Red Cube and after William read the Occupy Faith vision statement and Chris Hedges spoke, our numbers started to grow…substantially. OWS’s Andy Smith took over the agenda—as per the plan–and asked for testimonies from the crowd now numbering about 500. Then he turned to me and asked if I’d rehearse everybody in CD…right on the spot. Which I did. (I should have taken that moment to assemble OF around me and to appoint sub leaders for a group that had grown so quickly. We did emphasize if arrests happen to re-group, though.) Then Andy and “Hambone” of OWS asked me to lead the crowd down to the checkpoint at Wall and Broadway.
I started to—but then stopped—and called for Occupy Faith to get at the head of line. In the crush of crowd and photographers that became useless. So we kept walking. Upon arriving at the checkpoint Captain Purcell asked my intentions and I said we were here to protest. He indicated we couldn’t remain stationary since we were impeding financial district workers from going to work. I said, “That’s the idea.” “You have to move.” He said. This implied backing the procession up since the cops wouldn’t allow us in the street and the press crowded us on the east side of Broadway. (One of the barriers facing us was a paddy wagon parked conspicuously by the curb.) So we sat down and were arrested.
After we arrived in jail follow-up arrestees brought news of the heroics and witness of other Occupy Faithers. It made my heart glad.
I realized in the holding cell that Occupy Faith had come full circle as we listened to the stories of fellow cellmates. It was API again. Sharing those narratives remain with me now with a bond in our common struggle and humanity. It’s a dynamic which seems blessed.
As diverse faith community leaders and other people of good will, we are called to remind all Americans of their moral obligation to pursue justice and act on behalf of all those in need. We believe that the continuing suffering of millions of Americans harmed by the financial crisis must be front and center in public discourse and decision-making about economic and financial system reform. To ensure that economic and political power brokers are no longer able to avert their eyes from the suffering they have caused, we are launching “A People’s Investigation: The Human Cost and Moral Implications of the Financial Crisis,” a project that will collect and publicize these stories; analyze their policy implications; and serve as a catalyst for change.
On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, the National Council of Elders (NCOE) released the Greensboro Declaration, the first statement of the organization since its founding a month ago. The NCOE founding conference was held in Greensboro, NC, site of the historic Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, which represented a major advance in the civil rights struggle.
The Declaration ias presented at significant historic sites of struggle and freedom in Washington, DC, Detroit, MI; and New York. The NCOE sees its mission as passing down both its wisdom and missteps to coming generations , especially to young people.