Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Peace and Unity in Baltimore





















From Julie Stecker:

I’ve seen a lot of frustrated posts ending in, "Stay classy, Baltimore." Today, during the march that led us from West ‪#‎Baltimore‬ to downtown, I witnessed true class. Peaceful protestors who followed the guidelines we were given, parents explaining to their children why we march and showing them firsthand that protests must be a part of any free society, and people looking out for one another's safety and security. A woman bumped into me by accident, apologized profusely, asked me my name, asked if I was from Baltimore, and thanked me for being there. When we were reading the guidelines that said what to do if you were wrestled to the ground, a man overheard us and said, "That's not going to happen to any of you on my watch." I experienced the most beautiful parts of the Baltimore community today. But the media that I love and respect will make the story about the people who showed up just to cause destruction and chaos. Do not forget the story of peace and unity that took over the streets of Baltimore today. Do not let destruction be the story we remember. ‪#‎FreddieGray‬ ‪#‎JusticeForFreddieGray‬

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

GRADUATION OF THE GRACE PALEY ORGANIZING FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENTS

The months of learning and community-building have flown by! This year's Grace Paley Organizing Fellowship is drawing to a close and on the evening of Sunday, May 3rd our extraordinary group of fellows will be graduating. It is a night to celebrate the fellows and their work, as well as the great tradition of Jewish community organizing they're entering.

Please Save The Date and join us for a reception and graduation ceremony:

Sunday, May 3rd
7-9pm
Location tbd (Manhattan)

RSVP to leo@jfrej.org

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Mothers Demonstrate at Migrant Detention Center in Texas

           Nadia Prupis     April 2, 2015    Common Dreams

Demonstrators outside the Detention Center
About 40 women being held at the privately-run Karnes Family Detention Center in southern Texas launched a hunger strike this week to demand their release and the release of their families, vowing on Tuesday not to eat, work, or use the services at the facility until they are freed.
Nearly 80 women being held at the center, many of whom are said to be asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, signed a letter stating that they have all been refused bond despite having established a credible fear of violence if they are sent back to Central America—a key factor in the U.S. government's process for screening detained immigrants to allow them amnesty.
"We deserve to be treated with some dignity and that our rights, to the immigration process, are respected," the letter reads. "You should know that this is just the beginning and we will not stop [the hunger strike] until we achieve our goals. This strike will continue until each of us is freed."
The letter also states that many of the children held in the camp are losing weight and that their "health is deteriorating." Many of the families have been detained for as long as 10 months.
One woman, 26-year old Honduran mother Kenia Galeano, decried the center's treatment of the families in a phone interview with McClatchy on Tuesday. "We’re many mothers, not just me," she said. "We want freedom for our children. It’s not right to continue to detain us."
Galeano, who shares a room with three other mothers and their children, also said that her two-year-old son has become depressed and lost weight due to the culturally inappropriate food.
According to the letter, some of the mothers were also left behind in the detention center, while their children were granted bond. "We have come to this country, with our children, seeking refugee status and we are being treated like delinquents," the letter reads. "We are not delinquents nor do we pose any threat to this country."
Karnes, which is run by the private corrections company GEO Group, has come under fire in the past for its treatment of the children who are detained there, with reports of weight loss and forced separation from their mothers, but the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department has denied those allegations.
ICE also claimed it was unaware of any residents actually participating in the strike, saying in a statement on Wednesday that the agency "fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference, and all detainees, including those in family residential facilities such as Karnes, are permitted to do so."
It also said it was investigating claims that members of a nonprofit advocacy group encouraged the women to take part in the hunger strike—a charge which activists deny.
Cristina Parker, immigration programs director at the Texas-based immigrant rights group Grassroots Leadership, told the Guardian on Tuesday, "This is something that has been rippling through the centre almost since it opened. I don’t believe at all that they were coached into doing this."
According to Parker, the center is now blocking access to internet and telephone facilities for all of its detainees, regardless of whether they are participating in the hunger strike.
At least two women who signed the letter were also placed into isolation with their children in Karnes's clinic, leading about half of those who initially pledged to take part in the hunger strike to drop out, according to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.
Johana De Leon, a legal assistant with the nonprofit, told McClatchy that other mothers were warned they could lose custody of their children if they participated.
In addition to its mistreatment of children, Karnes has also been accused of sexual misconduct by guards and denial of critical medical care for detainees, among other charges. The Department of Homeland Security inspector general reported in February that there was no evidence to support the allegations.
[Nadia Prupis is a Common Dreams staff writer.]

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Symposium on Grace Paley at The New School

Grace Paley and the Disturbances of Man: Day 1

Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 10:00 am to 9:00 pm 

Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall55 West 13th Street, Room I202, New York, NY 10011















The MFA Creative Writing Program at The New School for Public Engagement and the Gender Studies program at The New School present a symposium on the life and work of legendary New York social activist, poet, short story writer, and feminist Grace Paley.
Paley fought for the rights of women and minorities and protested the Vietnam War and nuclear arms proliferation. It was in her extraordinary fictional stories of ordinary lives and through her grassroots activism that she changed the social and political landscape of her day.
This symposium pays homage to Grace Paley, exploring both her legacy and the complex ways her work still resonates today. The event includes a panel on her life and writings; readings by New School writing students; and a screening of Lilly Rivlin’s documentary, Grace Paley: Collected Shorts, followed by a conversation with the director. There will also be a screening of Peter Barton’s Women of ’69, Unboxed accompanied by a Class of 2015 Yearbox created by Parsons’ students. The symposium concludes with a walking tour of historically and culturally charged sites from Paley’s lifetime in Greenwich Village.

Grace Paley & the Disturbances of Man: Day 2

Friday, April 10, 2015 at 10:00 am to 2:00 pm 

Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall55 West 13th Street, Room I202, New York, NY 10011

The MFA Creative Writing Program at The New School for Public Engagement and the Gender Studies program at The New School present a symposium on the life and work of legendary New York social activist, poet, short story writer, and feminist Grace Paley.
Paley fought for the rights of women and minorities and protested the Vietnam War and nuclear arms proliferation. It was in her extraordinary fictional stories of ordinary lives and through her grassroots activism that she changed the social and political landscape of her day.
This symposium pays homage to Grace Paley, exploring both her legacy and the complex ways her work still resonates today. The event includes a panel on her life and writings; readings by New School writing students; and a screening of Lilly Rivlin’s documentary, Grace Paley: Collected Shorts, followed by a conversation with the director. There will also be a screening of Peter Barton’s Women of ’69, Unboxed accompanied by a Class of 2015 Yearbox created by Parsons’ students. The symposium concludes with a walking tour of historically and culturally charged sites from Paley’s lifetime in Greenwich Village.
This is the second day of the symposium, which begins on Thursday, April 9.
This event has been made possible through the generous support of Phyllis Kriegel.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Homage to Nicholasa Mohr

Homenaje: Nicholasa Mohr








Nicholasa Mohr lives in a museum—a comfortable, welcoming museum—but, a museum nonetheless. She took me on a tour of her artwork and sculptures and furniture and statues. Quick-witted and sharp-tongued, Nicholasa had a story to tell with each one. This was painted by this one. That was done by that one. This I bought from a farmer. That was payment from someone who stayed on my couch. This was a present from an ex. That I kept and I got rid of the ex. Each story was big and grand and funny and interesting. After just a few moments, it is easy to understand her great success as a writer: Nicholasa knows how to tell a story.
“I always had the ganas, the desire,” Nicholasa begins. “I always had something to say, so my mother, I think, gave me plenty of pencils and paper just to keep me busy. There was no TV in our house then, so I had to create my own magic.  I got so good so quickly that I began helping other Puerto Ricans in the neighborhood because many of them couldn’t speak English and many more couldn’t write. So, I filled out their forms. Writing for me had a purpose.”
As she got older, Nicholasa began telling stories—not through writing, but through her art. She actually had a very lucrative career in her 20s as a visual artist and printmaker. Her foray into writing was accidental. She published one article on Latino art and was soon contacted by Harper’s.
Nobody was writing stories about Puerto Rican families and children, so “I took the challenge.  Writing took me to marvelous and magical places.  Because I had done so much writing as a child, writing now as an adult was no stranger.”
Nicholasa’s career as a writer is unmatched by any other Puerto Rican writer—male or female—in the US in terms of total sales. She has over 15 books published including several reprints of her children’s books, NildaEl Bronx Remembered, and In Nueva York. She has nearly a dozen awards including an American Book Award, the NY Times Outstanding Book of the Year, and she was the first Latina to receive the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Many of her books and short stories continue to be taught in classrooms across the US.
 “I’m proud of all my honors,” says Nicholasa, “not because of the money or the fame, but because they were given to me for the work I’ve done to show who I am and who we are as Puerto Ricans: our lives, our weaknesses, our triumphs. It comes from a place of pride, pride in being a Nuyorican. I write about the truth of who we are.”
Nicholasa laughs and then continues, “If I didn’t hear a gasp from the publisher when I gave them the amount I wanted to be paid, then I knew I was selling myself short.” 
“You have to believe in what you do,” asserts Nicholasa.  “You can’t let others define you.”
For her work as the first writer of children’s literature for Nuyorican children and as the most commercially successful writer celebrating Puerto Rican life on the US mainland, we honor Nicholasa Mohr.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Auden and Day






































Beneath a craggy face the bard’s brain
pulsed with a
will to share.

Into the NBC offices he strode
with his well-known fleshy nose, angling
very slightly to the left, and the thatch
of hair curving down over his right forehead
& a very wrinkled face, sensuous and also shylike with the wrinkles in his eye corners framing
his determination

He wanted a check, on the nonce,
for his translation (with Chester Kallman) of Mozart’s
Die Zauberflöte
for NBC’s Opera Theatre production
in honor of his bicentennial

(born 1.27.1756 in Austria)
The Flute was broadcast 1.15.56
So W. H. must have completed it in’55
The year Dorothy Day was arrested
on June 15 for refusing to take shelter as required by law, during a nationwide Civil Defense drill
to prepare the masses for nuclear war

















—a flyer handed out by Day
& her associates from the Catholic Worker June 15, 1955 at City Hall Park

The bard, crusty, publicly humble
his face rutted with difficulty


His cooking techniques cruelly satirized
in The New Yorker (later on, as I recall)
admired Dorothy Day
and signed over the check he had demanded (earlier than the contract required)
from NBC Opera Theatre

to her
perhaps to help pay for repairs to
the Catholic Worker shelter for the homeless ordered by the NYC Fire Department

(& the Fire folk perhaps also acting in reprisal for her sitting in
& getting arrested
at City Hall that June)

All Hail the Spirit of Generosity
& guilt over largess the bard was not
willing to forego gone from Earth since 1973

Edward Sanders 
    March 2014 

From Ed's blog: http://www.woodstockjournal.com
Especially poignant is Ed's  retelling in poetry of a Chekov story which is accompanied by Jay Unger and his fiddle. https://edsanders.bandcamp.com/releases

Monday, January 19, 2015

Art for Black Lives Matter

Kate Deciccio has made beautiful paintings of the parents of police victims which were carried today in the Martin Luther King Jr. march in New York City.
Photo by Liza Bear

photo by Kate Deciccio

Photo by Kate Deciccio

Photo by Kate Deciccio

Photo by Kate Deciccio

Photo by Liza Bear

Photo by Liza Bear

photo by Liza Bear

photo Liza Bear

photo Kate Deciccio

photo by Liza Bear

Friday, January 2, 2015

Student Protests in Hong Kong



Protests in Hong Kong began in September 2014, after the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) of the People's Republic of China announced its decision onproposed reforms to the Hong Kong electoral system. In its decision, the NPCSC said that civil nominations, whereby a candidate could run for election to the Hong Kong Legislative Council if he or she received signed endorsement of 1% of the registered voters, would be disallowed. The decision stated that a 1200-member nominating committee, the composition of which remains subject to a second round of consultation, would elect two to three electoral candidates with more than half of the votes before the general public could vote on them.[9]
Demonstrations began outside the Hong Kong Government headquarters, and members of what would eventually be called the Umbrella Movement occupied several major city intersections.[10] The Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism began protesting outside the government headquarters on 22 September 2014 against the NPCSC's decision.[11]On the evening of 26 September, several hundred demonstrators led by Joshua Wongbreached a security barrier and entered the forecourt of the Central Government Complex(nicknamed "Civic Square"), which was once a public space that has been barred from public entry since July 2014. Officers cordoned off protesters within the courtyard and restricted their movement overnight, eventually removing them by force the next day.[12][13]
On 28 September, the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement announced that they would begin their civil disobedience campaign immediately.[14] Protesters blocked both east–west arterial routes in northern Hong Kong Island near Admiralty. Police tactics (including the use of tear gas) and attacks on protesters by opponents that included triad members, triggered more citizens to join the protests, occupying Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.[15][16][17] The number of protesters peaked at more than 100,000 at any given time.[18][19] In a poll conducted in December, up to 20% of the 1,011 surveyed responded that they have taken part in the protests. [20] The government called for an end to the protests by setting a 'deadline' of 6 October, but this was ignored by protesters, although they allowed government workers to enter offices that had previously been blocked.[21]
The state-run Chinese media claimed repeatedly that the West had played an "instigating" role in the protests, and that "more people in Hong Kong are supporting the anti-Occupy Central movement," and warned of "deaths and injuries and other grave consequences."[22] In an opinion poll carried out by Chinese University of Hong Kong, only 36.1% of 802 people surveyed between 8–15 October accept NPCSC's decision but 55.6% are willing to accept if HKSAR Government would democratise the nominating committee during the 2nd phase of public consultation period.[23]

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Amazing Courage in Berkeley

BERKELEY PROTESTS: Amtrak and I-80 and are both open again through Berkeley after protesters managed to shut them down last night. More than 150 protesters were arrested in the demonstrations. http://abc7ne.ws/132sa3w

Even the food editor has had enuf and sees the connections. dd
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/14/opinion/sunday/mark-bittman-is-it-bad-enough-yet.html?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On the Occasion of Grace's Birthday-----

Sienna Paley:
for my grandmother's birthday












I was in three worlds. I remember playing with these small action figures in my grandmother's living-room. The action figures would be on their farm, riding horses. My body would be distracted playing with them. Although my mind would be engaged by my grandmother, Grace playing a tune on the piano and humming.

From Duncan Nichols
Duncan, son of Bob Nichols, Grace's partner. Anyone who wants to create a yearly, other-yearly, reading for Grace (or Bob and Grace) I'd come, or I'd help organize. telephone 802 281 2692. We should be having readings of their work

Duncan's memory of life in Thetford for Grace and Bob:
I am thinking of Grace sitting in her kitchen, jotting things down. Bob is upstairs shuffling around, busy like her, at writing/tidying. Grace is sweeping small piles of house dirt, leaves, pens, bob's boot clogs, paperclips, dust, and leaving them in opportune places. Bob comes down from upstairs. He goes outside, sharpens something, dumps some ashes from the stove, brings in a bag from the car for Grace, comes back in, plunks self down and opens some letters. Grace clatters a soup pot, takes out a big block of cheddar, boils the water for tea (or Bob boils the water and Grace opens letters). Grace looks at a packet of garden seeds. "I should have planted these carrots, Bob"  "You did wonderfully, Grace." "I can't plant them now, it's so wet. It's wetter than last summer, or is it still spring." "You can plant them in the rain." "Oh YOU could and get mud all over the place, Bob."  "Did you see this letter from so and so?"   "Oh, yes, isn't that terrific."  "I remember so and so in Germany, in Sweden, in El Salvador, in Russia, in Ireland, in New York, in Burlington, in Cape Cod, in where was that?"  "it was right here."  "Oh yes, I just wanted to clean up the place, and we had no crackers... but we had cheese, we had wine, we had tea, we had photographs of the children, of the children all over the world..."  "have you seen my glasses"   "they're right here, under your sweater."  "Oh, you're so great, you know that, you're so won-der-ful."

From Bea Gates:
“Banner” dedicated to Bob, and “Oak, November” for Grace.

Banner
for Bob
1. Bob wore salvia in his blue
    shirt's buttonhole,
    brilliant summer lasting in Grace's
    garden. Red as red can be.

2. There are three beds of salvia, flaming ovals
    at the end of the drive
    where Elsa lives on the family dairy farm
    in the old stone house next to the barn.
    She sells eggs, stacked in the deep doorway,
    and vegetables on the card table by the road, honor system.
    She laughs about her high beds of salvia--
    everyone comes up the drive to talk about them--
    "You'd think there were no more flowers in the world."

3. A banner year for salvia
    and I kept thinking as the fall wore on,
    past Grace--how she always watched the spaces between
    pulling to make room for every kind,
    how the smaller buds must miss her hand,
    zinnias popping heads and tough pale stems,
    blue pansies curling to sun without her.
    The vegetable garden just over the lip of the hill,
    tomatoes still coming, long squash, and pumpkin,
    beans gone by, and Bob tramping by, walking slowly
    looking up    at the curving line of trees
    looking down    hands in pockets
    at the thick flower tangle--
    the salvia upright
    announcing triumph
    because it knows death
    alive   alive. 
--Beatrix Gates
______________________ 
Oak, November
for Grace
There’s an oak leaf, one    caught in the latch on the door
lodged like a letter in a letter box.
It knocks slowly, eight-prongs    the wind
tips it back, head leaning away    stem like a tail,
wind knocking softly    turning over the life of a tough brown leaf.
Stronger than a grasping hand, it takes years
for the veins to dissolve to brittle lace and still not want
to search the good brown dirt.
How did it? Why did it come so near the end? The oak.
From the bathroom window,
green rubber gloves across the sash
splay fingerless in crumpled, inside-out positions.
The leaf waves again.
The handsavers grow lazier and may have to go
in the trash bucket before the next cleaning.
I study the oak      the many kinds of brown
graying and reddening oak across the clearing.
The message will open, and I will not have touched the veins.
I write a friend whose blood is not making enough
more real blood    the kind that carries what we need
to every extremity in a day.   I spill out, too much on the page.
The oak scratches a life into the soft wind.

I wanted to send word, tell her I got the message--
you don’t have forever you know.  
--Beatrix Gates
(appeared in Ploughshares)

Garrison Keillor:
It's the birthday of American short-story author Grace Paley (books by this author), born in New York City (1922). She grew up in an immigrant neighborhood in the Bronx, where she was surrounded by a wide variety of languages. Her own parents spoke Yiddish and Russian at home, and English in public. She loved to hear the different tongues, and especially loved listening to all the gossip, but when she first started writing poetry, she wrote in a formal, stilted British style because she thought that's what poems were supposed to sound like. Then, in college, she met W.H. Auden and he agreed to read her work. She later recalled: "We went through a few poems, and he kept asking me, 'Do you really talk like that?' And I kept saying, 'Oh yeah, well, sometimes.' That was the great thing I learned from Auden: that you'd better talk your own language."
She wrote while her children were at school, and eventually moved from poetry to fiction. She wrote three stories and showed them to her friend, who happened to be married to an editor at Doubleday. He told her that if she could write seven more, he would publish the collection. Her first book was The Little Disturbances of Man (1959), and it was full of the voices of the immigrant women in her Greenwich Village neighborhood. She only wrote three books in all, but she was always busy doing something: teaching, or giving talks, or engaging in political activism.
o
From Nora Paley:
Today is my mother's birthday although she thought it was the 10th for most of her life. In this photo -a march against the Iraq War -she was feeling very weak and very determined though never stopped thinking about the lives of the grandchildren and the beauty of the world.

Joel Kovel writes:
"What sticks in my mind just now about Grace is how lightly she bore the burden of fame. There was a simplicity about her that allowed her to be directly herself and transcendently universal in the same moment. That's why I write, "just now," above: a great soul like Grace is always to be renewed. How her parents must have sensed something when they named her "Grace"!"

Susan Brooke Stapleton
Happy birthday Grace.... miss your beautiful spirit.

Pati Hernandez:
Happy birthday my dear friend Grace..... Always missing you, yet always with me....

Linda Elbow remembers:
"...the celebration of her being named Poet Laureate of Vermont. It took place in the Representatives Chamber of State House.  After Governor Jim Douglas introduced her, Grace stood up to speak. Douglas put behind the podium a little stool for her to stand on.
When she came to see our circuses she as always sat on the ground in the front row.
Oh, Grace!

…..What's that beautiful poem that Grace wrote about sitting outside and watching Bob work and thinking how much she loved him? There might have been a grandchild in this poem too."

Nora found it:
Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that's who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration

that's my old man across the yard
he's talking to the meter reader
he's telling him the world's sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips. 


John Bell wrote:
 " I think the new Modicut Puppet Theater project Great Small Works is doing (for example our performance tomorrow night at YIVO), and our commitment to understanding activism, theater, and modern Yiddish culture, is, at heart, deeply indebted to the direct inspiration Grace has given us, individually and collectively."

Dr. John Bell
Director, Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry
Associate Professor, Dramatic Arts Department
University of Connecticut

1 Royce Circle, Suite 101B

Storrs, Connecticut  06268