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Wed Nov 29, 2017

GBIO Clergy Show Up in Force Hours Before Massachusetts State House Vote on Criminal Justice Bill -Greater Boston Interfaith Organization


GBIO clergy leaders push for criminal justice reform at the Massachusetts State House

GBIO clergy showed up in force in a rally pushing for changes in Massachusetts criminal justice laws. In the final hours before a House vote on criminal justice reform, close to 200 clergy stood together with Retired Judge Nancy Gertner and several House representatives, calling for a criminal justice system that addresses racial and income disparities in sentencing, removing fees and penalties that keep people trapped in the prison system, and urging the state to spend tax dollars on treating, rather than punishing low level drug offenders with addictions and/or mental health issues.

Majority Whip Byron Rushing thanked GBIO for the work they’ve done so far, and urged GBIO to keep the pressure on during the last hours of debate. The bill passed by a vote of 144-9 on November 14th and now sets up a potential compromise between the state House and Senate to iron out differences in their two respective criminal justice reform bills before sending a bill to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker. Massachusetts Senate President Stanley Rosenberg fulfilled his February 2017 commitment to push through GBIO’s platform on criminal justice, and if the House and Senate find a compromise, it could be the first major effort to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation in many years.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KwJ1aK3JYg&sns=em

Wed Nov 29, 2017

Regina Hammond, President of ReBUILD Johnston Square -BUILD

Regina Hammond and her husband Keith live in Johnston Square, an area of east Baltimore with high rates of poverty and crime but also many areas of stable homes.  In July of 2013 Regina attended her first community association meeting. “Children everywhere in the street.  Loud knocks on the door and no one there.  I went to that first community meeting because I wanted the kids to have something to do other than run in the street.  I wanted my home to be peaceful at night and in the summers.” She left before the end of the meeting in frustration that her concerns were not going to be addressed.  Serendipitously, BUILD organizer Terrell Williams was present and followed her out.  That brief interaction led to a series of relational meetings and leadership development including 3-day training.  
 
Regina gathered three other people and Mt Sinai Baptist Church in the neighborhood to form a core team ready to work for change.  The first action was to hold a cleanup in greenspace overgrown with weeds and long neglected by the City. Church youth and adult volunteers and a dozen members of a nearby veterans’ association began the long process of cutting down the weeds and picking up the trash.  They kept up the work and expanded to four quadrants of Johnston Square.  By 2014, word had gotten around that the person to call was Regina if anyone wanted to create change in Johnston Square.  Regina and other neighbors now lead ReBUILD Johnston Square, a community association that receives funding from various foundations and corporate grants.    
 
Beginning with a news article that embarrassed the City into placing the largest neighborhood park back into the capital budget after a 20-year omission, Regina and ReBUILD Johnston Square have leveraged:
  • Over $15,000 in community greening and other grants 
  • $1 million between national recreation and parks grant and Baltimore city recs and parks capital budget
  • Thousands for neighborhood improvements, demolition of abandoned houses and rehab project for others
Regina has characteristics of a leader and sets an example for how organizing power and organizing money can transform lives and communities.
Tue Oct 24, 2017

370 Common Ground Leaders Meet with Milwaukee Police Chief, Push for Better Relationship with Immigrant Community -Common Ground


Common Ground clergy leader speaking with Milwaukee police officer

Over 370 Common Ground leaders gathered in St Adalbert's Catholic Church on Tuesday, September 26 to meet with Milwaukee Police Department Chief, Edward A. Flynn. Leaders called for a new relationship in how the Police Department works with the immigrant community. This meeting was a first step in recognizing the real needs of undocumented residents who feel real fear to communicate with the police, and real fear in their own neighborhoods due to experiences with violent assaults, burglaries, robberies, and nuisance properties affecting their quality of life and safety.

Common Ground is pushing the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) for clarity and better communication about the department's policy on coordinating with ICE/DHS. Leaders are also fighting for a partnership between Common Ground and the MPD to investigate violent crimes affecting the immigrant community, a recommitment to enforce existing policy regarding providing interpretation services, and education for officers on the federal U visa program which offers a path to citizenship for victims of violent crimes.


Common Ground leaders push for better relations between Milwaukee police and immigrant community

Tue Oct 24, 2017

Maryland Metro IAF Affiliates March to Baltimore Homeland Security Office, Demands Meeting with ICE -Maryland Metro IAF Affiliates


Maryland Metro IAF leaders march to Homeland Security office in demand of a meeting with ICE.

Metro IAF affiliates AIM, BUILD and PATH, along with the Immigration Outreach Service Center, marched with 50 leaders from Baltimore City Hall to the Department of Homeland Security in demand of a meeting with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Maryland IAF organizations are fighting for ICE to provide more clarity in its detainment and deportation policies. AIM, BUILD, IOSC and PATH are also pushing immigration officers to remove the word “Police” from their uniforms and are pressing ICE to provide information on where they take detained immigrants after their arrest. Metro IAF affiliates have sent three letters to ICE agents since July requesting to meet regarding the detainment and deportation of local undocumented immigrants. All Maryland Metro IAF letters to ICE have gone unanswered. 

Tue Oct 24, 2017

6,000 Strong: Metro IAF NY Demands Action from Mayor de Blasio to Fix NYCHA, Build 15,000 Senior Housing Units -Metro IAF NYC

In New York, Metro IAF Blazes a Trail in Fight for Affordable, Clean & Safe Housing

On Monday, October 9th, 6,000 Metro IAF New Yorkers, from NYCHA residents to senior citizens, church congregants and more, rallied in the pouring rain, packing the sidewalks at City Hall in demand of decent, affordable housing for their communities. For residents, Mayor de Blasio's pledge to make housing affordable has come too little, too late for the many who now find themselves being displaced at an alarming rate. Metro IAF leaders joined together to challenge the Mayor to support their own plan of prioritizing city rent subsidies for those residents making between $20,000 to $35,000 a year, building 15,000 senior housing units on vacant NYCHA land that would free up existing NYCHA units for younger families and rehabbing these same public housing developments from top to bottom. City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and several other elected leaders attended the rally in support of Metro IAF's plan.

METRO IAF NY’S DEMANDS:

Demand #1: Clean Up NYCHA Housing & Deplorable Living Conditions
Thousands of housing code violations, like suffocating mold and leaks, have been documented in NYCHA properties. Metro IAF NY demands $17 billion be spent to fix the decrepit conditions of NYCHA housing from top to bottom.
 
Demand #2: Build 15,000 Apartments for Seniors on Vacant NYCHA Land
Metro IAF NY looks to build 15,000 units of affordable senior housing on NYCHA-owned vacant lots across New York City. These new senior housing units can free up space for as many as 50,000 people to move into NYCHA and will be modeled after the Redwood Senior Living development in Brooklyn built by Metro IAF affiliate, East Brooklyn Congregations.
 
Demand #3: Reprioritize the Rent Subsidies
City rent subsidies should be reprioritized for those residents making between $20,000 to $35,000 a year.
 
Demand #4: Hold Landlords That Destabilize Neighborhoods Accountable
The Mayor, District Attorney and Police Commissioner should work more aggressively against those landlords who destabilize our neighborhoods with impunity and who do not worry about accountability. Today, a subset of landlords have a business model built on buying buildings with rent-stabilized rents and then waging a campaign of eviction, disrepair and even threats to get people out. Some will have to go to jail, and others will have to give up their property.
 

PRESS LINKS:

Tue Oct 24, 2017

Hudson County, NJ Prosecutor Commits to Two-day On-Site Warrant Reconciliation Event with Jersey City Together -Jersey City Together


Rev. Willie Keaton Jr. of Claremont-Lafayette United Presbyterian Church and Hudson County
Prosecutor Esther Suarez

At Jersey City Together's Fall action, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez committed to a two-day warrant reconciliation event that would help individuals with low-level offenses reconcile warrants. This event has come after months of working with the prosecutor and is modeled after Metro IAF sister affiliate East Brooklyn Congregation's work with Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson on a similar event at St. Paul's Community Baptist Church. Press coverage can be found here & here

Tue Oct 24, 2017

Metro IAF NY Convenes Mental Health and Criminal Justice Experts, Hosts Forum to End Mis-Incarceration of People with Mental Illness -Metro IAF NYC

On October 3rd, over 250 leaders from SBC, EBC, MT, and LICAN gathered at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Manhattan to learn more about steps taken across the country to end the mis-incarceration of people with mental illness who require treatment. Speakers included: Judge Matthew D'Emic, Brooklyn Administrative and Mental Health Court, Judge Steven Leifman, Miami-Dade Mental Health Court, and Leon Evans, behavioral health expert from San Antonio. As New York City embarks on a path to close Rikers prison and reform its criminal justice system, this forum worked to highlight innovative and successful criminal justice diversion programs in Brooklyn, New York, Miami-Dade, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas. This was an internal action to build a team of Metro IAF leaders capable of engaging with local District Attorneys and other key power players to begin making change in this area.

Tue Oct 24, 2017

Old South Church and Greater Boston Interfaith Organization Leverage Adverse Effects of Nearby Business Development to Push for Affordable Housing Funding -Greater Boston Interfaith Organization


In reaction to GBIO’s demands, this political cartoon was created by
Banker & Tradesman, which represents business interests.

 

GBIO and Old South Church are pushing Boston Properties to pay $19 million in mitigation fees, with a majority of that money slated for affordable housing. In May, the Massachusetts Historic Commission ruled that Boston Properties’ planned $1 billion development would have adverse impacts on the historic Old South Church caused by new shadows from the developer’s building tower. GBIO and Old South are using this ruling as leverage to secure $4 million to support repairs for the church, and the remaining $15 million to initiate a citywide fund for affordable homeownership programs. As their congregants find themselves priced out of the city, Old South and GBIO look to developers to contribute to homeownership solutions. For now, GBIO has successfully stalled project approval through negotiations with Boston Properties. Stay tuned for developments.

Thu Oct 12, 2017

Seventh Annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award - Turnaround Tuesday -John Hopkins

Fri Sep 22, 2017

In shadow of Charlottesville, GBIO vigil draws thousands to affirm Unity, Love, and Strength -Greater Boston Interfaith Organization


Leaders stand in unity, committing to peace and justice

1700 people attended an interfaith service at Temple Israel on August 18th, in response to the tragic events of Charlottesville, VA, and the night before a controversial rally on Boston Common by alleged White supremacists. At the event, organized by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh joined Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders to denounce racism and anti-semitism and to call for a shared commitment to peace and justice.

In the program for the event, Boston area religious leaders issued a joint statement on “the horrific events in Charlottesville,” expressing outrage at the “hate-mongers” and imploring our political and religious leaders to “call out this behavior instantly, unequivocally—to decry it with instinctive, full-throated condemnation.”

The service included prayers, songs, and calls to unity, love and strength by Sarah Higginbotham (First Church Cambridge), Elaine Zecher and Cantor Roy Einhorn (Temple Israel), Hajja Ashaki Taha-Cisse and Qari Muhammed Nabil Mustafa (ISBCC), Rev. Mariama White-Hammond (Bethel AME), Shaykh Yasir Fahmy (ISBCC), Rev. Nancy Taylor (Old South Church), Rabbi Or Rose (Center for Global Judaism), Liz Walker (Roxbury Presbytarian Church), Rev. Oscar Pratt (St. Katharine Drexel), and Rabbi Matthew Soffer (Temple Israel Boston).

Attendees applaud during Interfaith Gathering of Unity, Love, and Strength
// Photo Credit: Craig F. Walker, Boston Globe Staff

Fri Sep 22, 2017

Community Purchasing Alliance Welcomes New Regional Director: Jessica Johnson -Community Purchasing Alliance

The Community Purchasing Alliance is an IAF affiliate working to ease the pain of non-profit facilities management across DC, Maryland, and Virginia. This month CPA Co-op would like to highlight a leader from within our organization, our new Regional Director: Jessica Johnson. Jessica brings with her 13 years of management, sales, and contracting experience in the for-profit, non-profit, and government sectors. Already Jessica has put her skills and experience to good use, bringing in 20 new participants and building out a new paving program to add to our growing list of program areas. The fact that our co-op is in the position to hire a professional of Jessica's caliber is indication enough that our model is working, and that we can build meaningful financial power among the institutions that are already organized within the IAF. Best of all, CPA Co-op is committed to reinvesting 60% of our profits directly back into the IAF. (Last year this was $36,000 and this year we expect it to be more than $60,000). You can read more about CPA Co-ops roots in community organizing here. With excellent team members like Jessica onboard, CPA's growth is indicative of the kind of success we can expect from this new fundraising model for organizing. 

Fri Sep 22, 2017

CONECT Leaders Continue Fight to Reduce Gun Violence -Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut


 

CONECT leaders have continued to play an important role in the national Do Not Stand Idly By campaign, which seeks to persuade gun manufacturers to take action to prevent gun theft and illegal sales and to innovate to create safe / smart gun technology. New Haven Mayor Harp has invited CONECT to present the campaign to the African American Mayors’ Association in October.

Back in May, three CONECT leaders attended the annual shareholders meeting of Sturm, Ruger, Inc., one of the nation’s largest gun manufacturers headquartered in Southport, CT.  They met the CEO, pressing him and other executives to respond to the growing demand for action. 120 mayors, police chiefs, and other officials around the country have agreed to use their buying power (40% of all gun sales are to the public sector) to demand that gun companies respond. In July, CONECT added Westport First Selectman Marpe to the list of 10 CT officials already supporting the campaign. 

Fri Sep 22, 2017

In New York, Parishioners March On in Fight for Affordable Housing -Metro IAF NYC

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer walking with residents
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer walking with residents 

Church was held in the streets on Sunday, September 17th as hundreds of parishioners from St. Thomas Episcopal and St. Barbara’s Catholic Church participated in two overlapping processions from their worship services. Parishioners marched to empty New York City housing land and got public commitments from NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Councilman Espinal to support EBC’s plan to build 15,000 new units of affordable senior housing. On October 9th, EBC and Metro IAF NYC will challenge Mayor de Blasio at City Hall during a 5,000 person action to launch this campaign.

Community Leader, Blanche Romey, interviewed by News 12 Brooklyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Residents march for affordable senior housing

Fri Sep 22, 2017

Justice United Sets New Agenda -Justice United


Leaders discuss community concerns and upcoming issue priorities

On September 10th over 80 Justice United leaders met at Lattisville Grove Missionary Baptist Church in rural Hurdle Mills, NC to prioritize top community concerns for action that were surfaced by the organization's recent listening campaign. 

Leaders voted to focus on broad categories of concerns related to Housing, Immigration, and Jobs, and affirmed Lattisville Grove Pastor George Crews III’s vision of a truly broad based organization: one capable of making change across the urban / rural divide; where leaders of all races could learn how to build reciprocal, relational power to resolve issues rooted in historic injustice.

Fri Sep 22, 2017

In Massachusetts, Jewish Leaders Call for Criminal Justice Reform -Greater Boston Interfaith Organization

42 rabbis and 6 cantors called on top Massachusetts leaders to support criminal justice reforms including: repeal of mandatory minimums, bail reform, reduction in fines and fees, and limits on solitary confinement. The religious leaders sent a September letter to Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants, calling for a “criminal justice system that reflects the dignity of every human being.”

The Jewish leaders are backing bills on: bail reform by Rep. Dave Rogers (H 3120) and late Sen. Ken Donnelly (S 834); repeal of mandatory minimums by Sen. Cynthia Creem (S 819) and Rep. Evandro Carvalho (H 741); reduction in fines and fees by Rep. Mary Keefe (H 3077) and Sen. Michael Barrett  (S 755); limits on solitary confinement by Creem (S 1296) and Rep. Ruth Balser (H 2248), and collecting/reporting data on use of solitary confinement by Rep. Chris Markey (H 3092) and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (S 1286). 

Fri Sep 1, 2017

CONECT Turns Out in Support of Jung Courville, South Korean Immigrant Facing Deportation -CONECT.


300 people pack St. Jerome to stand in solidarity with Jung Courville and her family.

With just three or four days notice, more than 300 St. Jerome and CONECT leaders turned out on Monday, August 7th for a Prayer Vigil in support of Jung Courville and her family after her recent order of deportation.  Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling and Senator Richard Blumenthal also attended. Courville is a South Korean immigrant and has been the in US for 18 years, married to a US Citizen for 14 years, and is the mother of two with no criminal record.  Attendees signed 426 letters of support for Courville, sending the letters to ICE Officials in Hartford and the Immigration Court in Philadelphia.


Jung and family receive a blessing during a prayer vigil in Norwalk, CT.


Senator Richard Blumenthal addresses St. Jerome and CONECT attendees during prayer vigil.

Fri Sep 1, 2017

BUILD Demands Baltimore City Mayor Release Strategy to Fight Violence -BUILD


BUILD turns out 250 members to act on violence in Baltimore.

After the BUILD City Wide Action Team meeting of 102 people at St Matthew Church agreed that violence should be the top priority issue, BUILD turned out 250 members on August 2nd to demand the Baltimore City Mayor release her comprehensive strategy to fight violence.  BUILD then called on the Mayor to convene top law enforcement, corporate, and philanthropic leaders along with BUILD & the City Council to review the plan and make it actionable.  As part of BUILD’s work, the organization committed to hitting the streets to listen to over 1,000 residents about what they think must be done to reduce the violence. Mayor Pugh released her plan on August 9th.


Baltimore Sun reporter, Ian Duncan, tweets about BUILD’s ability to deliver on turnout.

Thu Aug 31, 2017

At GBIO Teach-Ins, Hundreds Gather to Learn about Threats Facing the Muslim Community -Greater Boston Interfaith Organization


Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) Muslim Teach-In at Temple Isaiah, Lexington, MA

270 people attended GBIO’s and Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC)’s July 25th Teach-In. Muslim leaders shared perspectives on being Muslim in Boston, and panelists discussed discrimination and Islamophobic policies, including the travel ban, the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) policy, and potential legislation/Executive Order declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. 70 interfaith donors committed to making a symbolic donation to the ISBCC or other Muslim organization, to show solidarity, and to disrupt the targeting of Muslims through donor tracking. 60 pledged to join a campaign fighting threats to the Muslim community.

The July event was one of a series of Teach-Ins being held throughout Greater Boston, as part of the Out of Many, One campaign, run by GBIO and member organization ISBCC to address the targeting of Muslims and immigrants. 120 people attended the first in the series, held at First Church in Cambridge on April 30th. Additional Teach-Ins are scheduled for later in the year.

The July Teach-In, at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, began with a short introduction by Senior Rabbi Howard Jaffe, followed by a coffee table conversation between Rabbi Jaffe and Samer Naseredden, the Youth Programs Director at ISBCC. Samer provided his own personal story, responded to some basic questions about Islam, and gave a community perspective.

The second part of the program featured a panel discussion, moderated by Associate Rabbi Jill Perlman, exploring discrimination and threats facing the Greater Boston Muslim community. Panelists included Stephanie Marzouk, an immigration lawyer and co-founder of the Muslim Justice League, and Nadeem Mazen, an educator, entrepreneur, and community organizer who was elected to the Cambridge City Council in 2013 and again in 2015, when he received the most votes across all 23 candidates for City Council.

Thu Aug 31, 2017

GCC Gets Encouraging Updates on Reform from Cuyahoga County Prosecutor -Greater Cleveland Congregations

 

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley provided written updates to Greater Cleveland Congregations about commitments made during the 2016 prosecutors election to reform the county's criminal justice system.  

Highlights of the report include:

1. Police Use of Deadly Force Policy - in all cases of police use of deadly force against civilians, Mr. O'Malley will request an independent prosecutor and investigation team to handle such cases.  This will minimize the chances of conflict of interest with the County Prosecutor attempting to investigate officers with whom his office has regular contact. 

2. Civil Rights Unit - in recent years, Ohio has seen a steep rise in the number of hate crimes.  The Civil Rights Unit, the first in the County's history, was established to review allegations of civil rights violations, including allegations of hate crimes and acts by public employees.  The Unit, which was set up in March, has already handled several cases.  One case involved the prosecution of an East Cleveland Police Officer for violating two women's civil rights during a traffic stop.  Another case involved the prosecution of a man for targeting another racial group.     

3. Drug Court/Diversion - Mr. O'Malley has submitted proposed changes to the courts that would significantly change eligibility requirements for Drug Courts and establish a new diversion program that would allow hundreds of new people to benefit from these programs, which upon completion vacate felony convictions, giving them a second chance at life.

Thu Aug 31, 2017

Barbara Kraft: From Union Household to Labor Lawyer, a Fighter for Living Wage Jobs -Washington Interfaith Network

Barbara Kraft is a member of Washington Interfaith Network’s (WIN) Strategy Team and chair of the Social Action Committee at Temple Sinai. Barbara grew up in the industrial Midwest cities of Cleveland and Detroit in a proud union household. Barbara is keenly aware of how union jobs provided stability for her family and community.

“There is a self-respect and sense of identity and self-worth that one derives from work that is meaningful and that supports one’s family.”

Barbara’s passion for living wage jobs led her to a career as a labor lawyer and then to begin volunteering with WIN to help drive WIN’s DC Water Jobs Campaign. In 2015 that campaign led to a historic agreement where DC Water committed to a goal that 51% of its new hires will be DC residents. DC Water will also open training programs to teach DC residents Skills that DC Water needs in its hires -- green infrastructure, commercial driver’s license (CDL) training, and other related skills.

In her spare time, Barbara enjoys life with her labor lawyer husband Peter, studies drawing and painting at the Washington Studio School where she currently serves as president of the board of directors, relishes her piano, and visits her rock-climbing son in Tucson and daughter who is part of a rock band in Brooklyn. WIN is grateful that Barbara is bringing her talent and passion to our Strategy Team and Jobs Team.

Thu Aug 31, 2017

A “Beacon of Hope” -- BUILD and TRF/DP Win Historic Preservation Award -The Baltimore Sun


Senator Ben Cardin

BUILD and TRF/DP won the 2017 ACHP/HUD (American Council on Historic Preservation/Housing and Urban Development) Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation.  Senator Ben Cardin called BUILD and TRF/DP a “beacon of hope.” The Mayor’s acting housing commissioner called the 15-year effort the ripple that started the renewal in communities surrounding Oliver, citing over 700 properties rehabbed in the five communities that “touch” Oliver.  Bishop Miles, BUILD Co-chair emeritus, called us to action to redevelop communities across the city, building on the strengths of Johnston Square.

Wed Jul 26, 2017

FRVI Continues to Push Batavia City Council to Say YES to Mixed Income Housing Development -Fox River Valley Initiative

The Campana building, an underutilized factory building, would be used to create affordable housing in the valley

The Fox River Valley Initiative is fighting diligently to secure 8 YES votes for 80 units of mixed income housing in the city of Batavia, IL. 64 of the units would be affordable and 8 used for people with disabilities. At a recent housing forum, 140 people attended, with only 15 voices against the new development. 

Wed Jul 26, 2017

Celebrating Organizer Leo Penta, “A Prophet of the Possible” -DICO

DICO held an action for Leo Penta in Berlin to celebrate his retirement from The Catholic University of Berlin. Leo remains the Director of DICO and will remain the key organizer in DICO's effort to develop 75 acres in the eastern part of Berlin. Below are the remarks of Jonathan Lange at the action.

Remarks at July 7, DICO Action:

Thirty-seven years ago, a young priest in New York decided that meaningful ministry in the then-devastated and neglected communities of East Brooklyn required -- demanded! -- a new kind of engagement.  Leo met two IAF organizers -- then-director Ed Chambers and Mike Gecan. Together with other key lay and clergy leaders, they organized a powerful Burger Platform in Brooklyn, EBC. In time, EBC, Leo and the Brooklyn leaders completely re-constructed the abandoned and under-used blocks of that area with thousands of homes for working families.  The value of those 4,000 homes and 2,000 apartments -- now equity and value retained by the African American and Hispanic buyers -- exceeds two billion dollars.

They are still building today -- on a large site called Spring Creek -- which bore, before EBC's efforts, a stunning resemblance to the land we are gathered on this evening.  It was enormous, neglected, underused.  There, like here, it took vision to imagine a whole new community of thriving individuals and families, which is emerging as we speak.

Everywhere Leo Penta has lived and worked since his Brooklyn days, he has been an evangelist of engagement and power -- a prophet of the possible. He continued to define his calling in broad and creative terms.  All of us have benefited from that.

When I needed help 25 years ago to root the Baltimore "Living Wage" campaign in the language, tradition and theology of the church, it was Leo who taught me how to do that.  When Berlin's Catholic University needed to get outside of its walls to fully teach its students, again it was Leo. And when the IAF needed to prove to itself and others that organizing universals were indeed universal, Leo proved that by introducing Community Organizing to the European Continent..

Now they tell us he is retiring, but we don't believe it. Perhaps the University has a mandatory retirement age of 65, but we don't. And Leo has so much more to do. We are so proud of our IAF brother Leo and look forward to many more years from him of practicing and teaching the art of organizing.

I personally look forward to the first ground breaking and the first house warming here on this land.  Whether one is formally religious or not, it is clear that there is a spiritual dimension -- a movement of the human spirit -- in this work.  And no person embodies that spirit more than Leo Penta.

Wed Jul 26, 2017

OCJU Holds Record-Breaking Number of Listening Sessions -Justice United

Listening sessions at the Church of the Advocate and Lattisville Grove Missionary Baptist Church

61 leaders of Orange County Justice United attended listening session training in May and pledged to engage up to 945 diverse members of their communities in discussions about the key pressures facing their families and to identify deeply felt community concerns. Listening session campaigns are used to set a new grassroots agenda for the organization and take place through a series of small or large group meetings hosted within member institutions. These discussions will lead to a new collective action agenda for Justice United in the fall. 

Tue Jun 20, 2017

GBIO Springs into Action on Criminal Justice, Healthcare, Housing and Immigrant and Muslim Organizing -Greater Boston Interfaith Organization

Over 700 people packed Temple Israel in Boston on May 18th to support Greater Boston Interfaith Organization’s campaigns: Criminal Justice Reform, Healthcare, Affordable Housing, and “Out of Many, One” — a campaign addressing the targeting of immigrants and Muslims. Over 220 people committed to action on Criminal Justice Reform — asking friends outside Greater Boston to call their legislators, coordinating in-district meetings, or attending a public hearing. Over 140 people committed to support the “Out of Many, One” campaign, ether by attending a Bystander training or attending a Muslim Teach-In.

At the assembly, GBIO leaders also committed to building new relationships with corporate leaders. Bishop Miles, from our sister Metro IAF organization in Baltimore, shared stories of BUILD’s victories negotiating with corporate powerhouse Johns Hopkins to create jobs for returning citizens and the chronically unemployed.

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