Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Happy Birthday Grace

Grace and Karl Bissinger WRL Leaders

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Grace and David McReynolds

From Pam MacAlister:
At Judson Memorial Church today I joined many friends to celebrate the life of DAVID MCREYNOLDS (1929-2018). A gay radical pacifist, socialist, champion of peace, David had a passion for cats, community, plants (bromeliads), music, photography, cooking, life. I knew him to be gentle, generous, insightful. At his request, the program began with a recording of Bessie Smith singing “You’ve Been a Good Ole Wagon” (but you done broke down) and ended with Beethoven’s “9th” (Ode to Joy). Tears flowed freely as we stood to remember a life well lived. (Photo: David walking beside Grace Paley in a 1960s antiwar protest in D.C.)

Friday, November 23, 2018

22 November, 2018 (Unceded Coast Salish Territories) — Several more pipeline opponents were sentenced to jail today, and 85-year old Joanne Manley, the oldest Protector jailed for blockading construction on the now stalled Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project, received a fine of $2,000 and 14 days of house arrest.
“Facing 14 days in jail frightens me, but a climate catastrophe frightens me more,” said Manley, before her sentencing. “The Trans Mountain Pipeline and tanker project will be the final nail in the coffin for BC’s beloved Orcas, our Southern Resident whales. If there’s an oil spill like what happened to Newfoundland last week, Vancouver harbour and our coastal waters will be poisoned. I made a decision to do whatever I could to stop the pipeline – for every child and grandchild, for the Orcas, and for this planet.”
While the Crown recommended a 30-day conditional sentence of house arrest and a $2,000 fine,  defence counsel Robert Janes asked for a conditional sentence of 7 to 14 days of house arrest based on mitigating factors like health. Judge Affleck then sentenced Manley to a conditional sentence of 14 days of house arrest and a $2,000 fine to be paid by January 31, 2019.
Ronald Berezan, Jo Ann Murray, and Judith Rees-Thomas were sentenced today to 7 days in jail and taken into custody immediately. Danika Dinsmore was also given a conditional sentence of 7 days home detention and 150 hours of community service due to mitigating factors. All four Protectors were arrested May 18.
Earlier today, two defendants were in court on an application to recuse Judge Affleck due to bias. No ruling was made, as the judge reserved judgment.
Government of Canada corporation Trans Mountain is also taking an active role in persecuting pipeline opponents. Tomorrow, defendants Lini Hutchings and Reverend Laurel Dykstra face sentencing for 7 days in jail on civil contempt charges, as well as Trans Mountain’s legal costs. The Crown corporation has not revealed the total amount it is seeking to cover legal costs. These charges were previously dropped by prosecution and Kinder Morgan, but Trans Mountain Corporation opted to pick up the suit after the Government of Canada purchased the pipeline and tanker project.
Donations to support Protectors can be made to the Stop KM Legal Fund:

Monday, November 19, 2018

Why One Jewish Woman Supports the Women's March

by Jennifer Friedlin

When Rev. Louis Farrakhan calls Jews termites, I feel disgusted.
When someone says you cannot be a progressive and a Zionist, I get livid.
When someone tells me I should walk away from the Women’s March, I could not disagree more.
I am a Jewish Israeli-American woman. I know that words can lead to deadly outcomes. I know that leadership matters and that people who can draw crowds can also plant seeds of destruction.

However, I am also an activist who has sat in a police wagon with Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour and listened to fellow leader Tamika Mallory speak eloquent truths to crowds of protesters. I have nodded along with their words and grew convinced that the raw power and passion generated by the march could affect real change.
So I felt deeply divided as I read about Alyssa Milano’s and Debra Messing’s decision to distance themselves from the march because of Sarsour’s and Mallory’s ties to Farrakhan and their own alleged anti-Semitic statements, respectively.
On face value how could Jewish women stand by anyone who aligns herself with those who represent hateful ideas? But I am convinced the march, and particularly the women of color who lead it, did just that when they decided to spawn this movement.
As a white Jewish woman, I have come to understand that even as I was learning about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, I was benefitting from systemic racism. My parents may not have been able to buy a home in Garden City, L.I., where anti-Semitic policies excluded Jews, but they were welcomed in Roslyn, where they got a mortgage and built equity in a way not afforded to people of color. My prestigious high school tracked kids based on the color of their skin.
In college things did not improve. My Ivy League university was filled with kids who openly said black students only got in because of affirmative action. There were just a couple of non-white students in my graduate journalism program. I have never had a boss of color.
I may have worked hard to get where I am, but any obstacles and barriers I faced reflected gender bias, not my status as a white Jew in New York.
I believe I am still racist and that, if you are white, you probably are, too. We have been indoctrinated with biased messages our whole lives and it will take a great deal of proactive work to purge them.
I think Sarsour and Mallory know this. And yet, they still took the helm of a movement made up largely of women just like me, who tend to storm into spaces to run the show. The leadership likely found common ground through tough conversations that involved listening as much as talking. Whether or not you are white and Jewish, we should all do the same.
As we do, we would be wise to remember that people with little hope are likely to look to those offering something they desperately need. Can anyone blame a Gazan for turning to Hamas, which offers humanitarian support even as it launches rockets into Israel?
Can anyone blame Mallory for taking succor in the Nation of Islam, which embraced her after her son’s father was murdered?
Rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, why not focus on Mallory’s condemnations of hate and Sarsour’s raising of tens of thousands of dollars for Jewish victims of anti-Semitism, including the Pittsburgh community? Why not bring concerns to the Women’s March before shunning it?
If we decide to walk away now, and the Women’s March and its gains fizzle, we will only have ourselves to blame.
Friedlin is a marketing executive in New York.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Blackberry Eating

by Galway Kinnell

I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry-eating in late September.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Remembering Bob Nichols

The original idea for making a blog about Grace was the idea
of her partner Bob Nichols. I came across this lovely bit about
the revision of the design of Washington Square Park. (Bob calls it
the revenge). 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Baltimore park where Confederate statue once stood is rededicated to Harriet Tubman

More than 200 local residents and elected leaders gathered in a tree-lined corner of Baltimore on Saturday to rededicate the space, which had long venerated two Confederate generals, to the famed abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman.
“We stand on the shoulders of this great woman,” said Ernestine Jones-Williams, 71, a Baltimore County resident and a descendant of Tubman who spoke on behalf of the family. “We are overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. Thank you, and God bless you.”
The ceremony in Wyman Park Dell, on the 105th anniversary of Tubman’s death, took place feet from the now-empty pedestal of a large, bronze, double-equestrian statue of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
The statue had stood in the park since 1948, but was removed in August amid a national reckoning with Confederate symbolism and monuments.
That reckoning began in large part in 2015, after white supremacist Dylann Roof shot nine African-Americans to death in a church in Charleston, S.C. It grew in August after a white supremacist rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of Lee in Charlottesville, Va., led to the death of a counter-protester after a neo-Nazi sympathizer allegedly drove into a crowd.
Mayor Catherine Pugh’s administration removed four Baltimore monuments with ties to the Confederacy — the Lee-Jackson monument, a monument to Chief Justice Roger B. Taney at Mount Vernon Place, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue and the Confederate Women's Monument on West University Parkway — days after the Charlottesville rally in an unannounced, overnight operation, citing “safety and security” concerns.
At the event Saturday, city officials and local residents acknowledged the events in Charleston and Charlottesville, but largely focused on more local efforts to have Baltimore’s statues removed, including a grass-roots petition drive.
They said the removal of the statues has embued the spaces where they once stood — like the Harriet Tubman Grove — with their own symbolic power.
“Since the removal of the Lee-Jackson statue, this park has become a gathering place for city residents of all backgrounds to meet, talk and enjoy the location as a space that symbolizes hope and positive change,” said Ciara Harris, a Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks official. “Harriet Tubman Grove will provide the city an opportunity to correct historic injustice to a Maryland native. Our city is properly recognizing an African-American hero.”
City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke called Tubman, who was born a slave on Maryland’s Eastern Shore but went on to lead many other enslaved people to freedom along the Underground Railroad, a “heroine and beacon for all ages.”
Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, a longtime civil rights leader who has been working to get Tubman recognized in more official ways across the city for years, thanked the community for its work in renaming the grove.
“You did what needed to be done to say, ‘Yes, we need to move on,’ ” he said.
Jackson Gilman-Forlini, 28, of Abell, who is studying how society re-contextualizes monuments and memorials over time as part of a master’s degree in historic preservation at Goucher College — and who served on the task force formed by Pugh last year to study the removal of the city’s Confederate monuments — said the rededication was a great thing for the city.
“Monuments are seen as permanent, sort of monolithic structures, but inherently their meanings change over time, and really the removal of these monuments was not so much about monuments in general, but about the kind of values that we as a society want to promote,” Gilman-Forlini said. “This is now the next logical step in the process of asserting those values, those positive values of inclusion, of tolerance, of speaking out against prejudice.
“These kind of gatherings in many ways are much more powerful than new monuments may necessarily be, because these are about community action and about the experience of the individual working in a community to assert positive values,” he said. “In that way I think this is really the best thing that we could be doing right now as a means of healing past injustices.”

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Loudest Voice is reprised by Vermont Public Radio

A holiday favorite, this highly anthologized short story is read by the late author Grace Paley. "The Loudest Voice" is an amusing tale about a little Jewish girl, chosen to play the lead in her school's Christmas pageant, and her family's reactions. Despite the story's popularity, Grace Paley's 1998 reading of it at Vermont Public Radio for New Letters On The Air was the first time she ever recorded it.
It was published in Grace Paley, The Collected Short Stories published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Useful Overview of What Militarism Is Doing to Our Country
Ann Wright of Veterans for Peace posted this important article. The fact that it comes from The American Conservative is proof that there are some interesting changes happening in these United States.