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Mon Feb 9, 2009

Battling to save financial souls -Boston Globe

For 11 years, Lea Jerome of Charlestown was a spending fiend. She attends Boston Missionary Baptist Church in Roxbury every Sunday and likes to look good when she goes there. So she'd buy pants and long dresses that she loved to pair together or shop at DSW for shoes. Sometimes she'd never even wear her purchases...

Sun Feb 8, 2009

Under mayor's control, the schoolkids are doing all right -NY Daily News

Contrary to both the prepackaged reports that some media outlets have produced and the myths created by the opponents of mayoral control, parents all across the city favor the mayor's role in leading the public schools. It is not news; this movement began nearly 20 years ago...

Sat Feb 7, 2009

Turn it around -Baltimore Sun

No matter how energetic he is, Andrés Alonso can't take street values out of the schools by himself. He needs the community to see that things can be better — and step up to achieve that. The day Andrés Alonso dreaded came the Friday before Thanksgiving. For his first year and a half as Baltimore schools chief, the system was showing unprecedented progress. Four decades of enrollment decline ended. Test scores were their best since the state started keeping track. The graduation rate? Up. Suspensions? Down...

Mon Jan 12, 2009

Religions have the power to bring a passion for social justice to politics -The Guardian

Liberal secularists who have so far overlooked Obama's belief should brace themselves for an even greater challenge.

At first I thought it just plain daft; why waste £150,000 putting a slogan on hundreds of London buses: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." It managed to combine so many dotty assumptions - belief in God as a source of worry or as a denial of enjoyment - that I couldn't see who it was supposed to convince. Besides, how can "probably" change someone's mind?

Then I thought about how it might look through the eyes of some of the people who travel on the buses I use from Hackney. The ones who look exhausted returning from a night shift of cleaning. Often they have a well-thumbed Bible or prayer book to read on their journey...

Wed Nov 12, 2008

An Ailing Factory Town Votes for Change -Village Voice

Lorain, Ohio—The kind of hope Barack Obama promised to deliver was nowhere craved more deeply on Election Day than in this battered old manufacturing city on the shores of Lake Erie.

Hope got scores of local residents up before dawn to bounce over rutted streets that haven't been repaved in decades. Hope had them standing all day outside of polling sites at schools forced to lay off 300 staff members last month for lack of funds. Hope sent them scurrying back and forth across town, picking up voters in need of a lift. It sent them past the mammoth, mile-long steel mills by the Black River, mills that once offered their own brand of hope, employing more than 13,000 workers at gritty but solid jobs with benefits and pensions. Barely a tenth that many jobs remain...

Tue Oct 28, 2008

In battleground Ohio, Community Building trumps cynicism -Huffington Post

I left my inside-the-Beltway home in suburban Washington on Friday and spent the penultimate weekend before the 2008 election in Columbus, Ohio to get a first-hand look at one of the most intriguing, hopeful and yet, in some circles, controversial voter participation experiments of 2008.

More than two years in the making, the nonpartisan Faith Vote Columbus and two related interfaith organizations in Dayton and Lorain launched by the Saul Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), are challenging the conventional wisdom among many progressive strategists and funders. That conventional wisdom holds that the only realistic way to register and mobilize apathetic voters in low-income communities on a large scale is to import an army of mercenaries--the polite term is "paid canvassers"--who scour supermarket parking lots and other territory where poor people are likely to be found...

Wed Oct 8, 2008

Thousands of church members meet near Dumfries -News and Messenger

The first gathering of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, or VOICE, drew 2,014 people from 40 congregations from Prince William, Arlington and Fairfax counties and the city of Alexandria.

Leaders from the congregations that represent 120,000 people met at First Mount Zion Baptist Church near Dumfries on Sunday afternoon and pledged $228,950 to the organization’s mission of providing more affordable housing, strengthening education for people who want to learn English and providing affordable dental care...

Tue Jul 29, 2008

Five new homes dedicated in Oliver -Baltimore Sun

First dwellings built there in half-century.

The first new homes to be built in a half-century in East Baltimore's Oliver neighborhood were dedicated yesterday, a sign of progress, officials said, in a blighted swath of the city once notorious for drug dealing.

As a result of a unique public-private partnership, vacant houses were demolished and land was assembled to build 75 homes for low- to moderate-income homebuyers. Another 47 homes will be rehabilitated, all within a six-square-block area just north of Johns Hopkins Hospital...

Thu Jul 24, 2008

Wherever two or three thousand are gathered -U.S. Catholic

The 1,200 people who packed Olivet Baptist Church on Chicago's South Side on a chilly Monday evening last December were assured by the event's organizers that the meeting would begin on the dot at 7:30 and last one hour and 15 minutes. They delivered on both counts. This was but one in a series of assemblies sponsored by United Power for Action and Justice, a massive citizens' organization created in 1997. The gathering-a racial rainbow from city and suburbs-included white collar, blue collar, and no collar. They cheered and clapped appropriately as the agenda items were clicked off with almost military precision. The major issue on the table was the nearly 2 million people in the Chicago metropolitan area without health insurance...

Sat Jul 12, 2008

Boarded-up houses make way for roses -Baltimore Sun

Drug dealers ousted, Oliver community plants gardens.

An urban oasis is rising from the rubble of vacant rowhouses in East Baltimore. Cherry trees and dogwoods have been staked into new dirt. Beds of sedum, rose, sage and yarrow have been planted. Wood-chip walkways wind through lots neighbors once feared to enter.

Hard against the old stone wall of Green Mount Cemetery, two new gardens are part of a movement by Oliver residents to reclaim their neighborhood. They got police to clear drug dealers from a courtyard, and neighbors now gather there for lunch. They lobbied the city to tear down a dozen vacant houses to make way for the gardens, which were planted this week...

Wed May 28, 2008

10 years of work to make lives better -Boston Globe

More than 1,700 people clapped their hands, sang "Amen," and vowed to keep pushing for measures to improve people's lives at the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization's 10th anniversary celebration last night...

Wed May 7, 2008

Seeds of renewal in Oliver -Baltimore Sun

With new houses, residents and activists aim to weed out dealers, pull in families.

A crowd gathered yesterday afternoon on the crumbling steps of a boarded-up rowhouse in East Baltimore. Their attention focused across the street, where construction workers using an 80-foot crane were assembling the first new houses in the Oliver neighborhood in half a century.

The people had never seen such a sight - not here, not in this blighted community where one survey puts the vacancy rate at 44 percent and where drugs and crime have chased out most of the middle class. Construction of new townhouses happens along the waterfront, these people said, not in Oliver...
 

Mon Apr 14, 2008

Coaltion Seeks Solutions -Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Common Ground rally inaugurates effort to make region a better place to live More than 2,300 people from the four-county area gathered Sunday to launch a major new effort to build a diverse, nonpartisan political organization to tackle the social issues facing Milwaukee and the surrounding area. The founding convention of the Southeastern Wisconsin Common Ground at the Midwest Airlines Center resembled a revival and civic pep rally with a history lesson and civics 101 class tossed in as speaker after speaker committed to working for change to build a better region...

Sun Dec 9, 2007

Renewal planned for area -Baltimore Sun

$10 million raised for rehab in E. Baltimore.

On Broadway, on the eastern edge of the Oliver community, a line of boarded-up homes stands testament to years of neglect. The exposed wood on one is charred, the remnants of a long-ago fire never cleaned up.

"These are such nice homes, and they've been left to rot," said Rob English, lead organizer for the social action group BUILD, which is targeting the East Baltimore neighborhood for a major renewal campaign. "The blight in Oliver has been created by 35 years of disinvestment."...
 

Sat Jun 23, 2007

Putting Faith in Affordable Housing -Washington Post

Nearly three decades after Washington area faith leaders founded a movement for affordable housing, there is a new push -- particularly in the District -- to revive the effort and get the clergy to see housing as an urgent mission field.

Longtime advocates say houses of worship should be obvious allies because of the desperate need in the city, and for another reason: their land. Churches in particular own tens of millions of dollars in vacant properties in Washington. Some lots were donated by congregants; others were purchased methodically, for investment or for developing housing, among other reasons...

Sun Jun 17, 2007

An Advocate Lends a Hand as Social Justice Goals Unify Faiths -New York Times

CHICAGO

Lina Jamoul stood amid the London multitudes that day in February 2003, and in the masses of antiwar marchers in Hyde Park she imagined she saw her political future. There were Socialists and fashion models, dentists and nuns, the sort of coalition that an idealistic graduate student like Ms. Jamoul could envision not only stopping the impending invasion of Iraq, but also making social change at home.

Then the weeks passed and the throngs dissipated and the war began and the whole enterprise, at least in Ms. Jamoul’s eyes, dwindled to rote slogans and camp followers...

Thu Dec 7, 2006

After Council Balks, Bronx Schools Project Is Withdrawn -New York Times

It is the single biggest project in the biggest school construction plan in the history of New York City: a $235 million campus of four schools, with a football field and basketball courts, to be built on old railyards in the South Bronx. Local groups that pushed for the plan cheered wildly when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg endorsed it two years ago.

But yesterday, the project, intended as a hallmark of the mayor’s effort to improve education in neighborhoods with historically lower-performing schools, was stalled by City Council members who said they wanted to force Mr. Bloomberg to give them a greater say in school admissions rules, especially for the dozens of small high schools he has created in recent years...

Tue Apr 11, 2006

Cheers for the end of poverty pay -The Guardian

Cleaners will get a pay rise as Queen Mary College becomes the first living-wage campus in the UK.

They are an essential part of every university. They start work when everyone else leaves, and finish before most others get there in the morning. They are poorly paid, receive no holiday or sick pay and often take on two or three jobs to make ends meet. Contracted cleaners, security guards and caterers are academia's dirty secret. But last Thursday, Queen Mary, part of the University of London, voted to abolish "poverty pay" on campus...

Thu Mar 16, 2006

Important faces in the AIM crowd -Washington Post

Action in Montgomery, a coalition of religious congregations considered by some to be the county's most powerful grass-roots organization, announced its 2006 agenda at a rousing meeting at Woodside United Methodist Church in Silver Spring last week, and the politicians turned out to hear it. The event drew 708 religious leaders and congregants...

Sun Feb 5, 2006

Finding the bottom of a polluted field -New York Times

Just past the old municipal incinerator, near the car lots, strip malls and fast-food joints heaped on this city's far west side, a long fence juts into the shoulder of busy Route 440. Most drivers whiz by without knowing that on the other side of the fence lies one of the nation's biggest hazardous waste sites, one that spurred an environmental battle so contentious that it has dragged on for a generation.

The forlorn stretch of fallow land -- an area the size of 34 football fields -- is a casualty of Jersey City's industrial past, poisoned by a half-century's worth of residues from the processing of chromium, the versatile substance used in paints, stainless steel and automobile bumpers. In its most dangerous form -- called hexavalent chromium -- the wastes can cause cancer and other health problems...

Thu Dec 29, 2005

Interfaith leaders invoke morality in healthcare debate -Boston Globe

Let the politicians and lobbyists argue about copayments and premiums. The Rev. Hurmon Hamilton and Rabbi Jonah Pesner are waging their fight to expand healthcare coverage on a different, higher plane...

Wed Dec 1, 2004

Nurturing small schools without hurting big ones -New York Times

VIRGINIA GONZALEZ marched through the dismal drizzle of a late November morning in the South Bronx. She made her way past the bodegas, video stores and housing projects of Mott Haven, crossed over a tangle of railroad tracks, and descended into several acres of urban underbrush. Weeds stood shoulder-high. Chunks of concrete and drainpipe lay in heaps. A car chassis rusted beside chain-link fence.
    
"The promised land," Ms. Gonzalez announced to several companions, and she spoke with not a trace of irony...

Wed Nov 10, 2004

East End to Strike Gold -London Evening Standard

Leaders of London's Olympic bid have pledged that the capital's residents will share the benefits of hosting the 2012 Games.

They have signed up to an "ethical contract", promising a "living wage" for workers, affordable new homes, skills training and better health care for communities around the proposed Olympic village in Stratford.

Mayor Ken Livingstone and bid chairman Lord Coe hope the commitment will boost London's chances as its battle to host the 2012 Games enters the final lap...

Fri Nov 5, 2004

London 2012 Wins Local Seal of Approval -The Guardian

London's Olympic bid is to receive a massive boost with the signing of a "people's compact" which will guarantee jobs, training and homes for local residents.

The Guardian has learned that after weeks of negotiations, officials from the bid company, London 2012, the office of the mayor, Ken Livingstone, and the residents' pressure group, London Citizens, will sign a detailed agreement next week.

The breakthrough has been eagerly sought because it allows officials behind the bid to indicate a measure of support among grassroots communities...

Sun Jul 18, 2004

Using Threats, N.Y. Landlords Feed Immigrants' Fear -Washington Post

NEW YORK -- They sat there, three diminutive and worried Mexican women, in the shadows in the back pews of St. Jerome's Church in the Bronx. Father John O. Grange noticed and motioned them forward.

The women handed Grange a letter. They had asked for apartment repairs, and this letter contained what appeared to be the landlord's response.

Marielys Divanne, left, of South Bronx Churches works on behalf of tenants such as Sandra and Manuela, right. (Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post)

"Dear Tenants," the letter stated, "As you know the United States Government and specifically the Homeland Security Administration is investigating illegal aliens...

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