Thursday, May 15, 2008

Together We are Stronger than Alone

Attention - The name is Brickyard Garden - not Rickyard Garden. I am wondering who stole the "B?"

L-R Dorothy Pytel, member of Brickyard Gardens and Juanita (President's Gardener - as in President Obama)and member of Brickyard Gardens

Juanita, the President's Gardener standing next to one of her favorite plants

Burning Bush, another of Juanita's favorite plants.

L-R Robert "Tyree" Liddell (Christ Way M.B. Church), Bart Schultz (Civic Knowledge Project) and Dorothy Pytel (Brickyard Gardens. Three master collaborators that I am enjoying working with. They know how to get things done.

Guiding OUr Talented - Youth Ahead (GOT-YA) participants engrossed in computers.

GOT-YA participants playing board games in after school program

L-R Robert "Tyree" Liddell and Rev. York, pastor of Christ Way Missionary Baptist Church

GOT-YA participants planning a play that they will present.

A Religious Panel for Reproductive Choice

L-R Rev. Don Coleman and Rabbi Lawrence Edwards

Religious Panel

Tonight I attended a lecture on reproductive choice. The two panelists were Rabbi Lawrence Edwards and Rev. Don Coleman. Rabbi Edwards shared the following reflections and highlights:

*life does not begin at conception
*The first forty days the fetus is water and the human being begins at birth or once the head emerges from the mother
*The mother's life is primary. That however doesn't mean you can do whatever you want to do. However, the life and health of the mother is number one.
*Complex questions can arise that do not make these choices easy
*life is not to be taken casually
*There could be circumstances in which abortion would be permitted for the other's health and wellbeing requiring medically and ethically the need for an abortion
*equal access for everyone is important

Rev. Don Coleman shared these thoughts:

*Living and working as a campus minister Coleman helped over 100 women obtain abortions while serving at Lubuck Texas University.
*He helped raise money so that these individual could travel to Los Angeles, CA for abortions
*His role as he saw it was to help the women sort through the moral issues by supporting their decision, asking some hard questions and then if necessary helping them fundraise.

In doing this work Coleman stated he learned the following: 1) The woman is the only one that can make this choice and 2) There needs to be a community of poeple to support women and 3)to have someone in the faith community condemn a woman's choices is arrogant and meanspirited and 4) men are terribly irresponsible around this issue and that women tend not to inform their partners or the fathers because they do have believe that they will support them

Some of the Take aways:
1) God is a God of conscious and helps us make choices. For sme people, God and the will of God is important in the process of deciding about unwanted pregnancy. Thus, giving it over to God as moral agent might be the choice some faith based women would make.
2) women are moral agents that have the right to make decisions that impact their lives
3) Affirming women's rights to make the decision is crucial
4) the community needs to be supportive and not judgemental
5) We need to make sure that hospitals are safe places to go.
6) We need to offer women a range of services
7) make sure that adequate health care is available

A question that was posed is what role does civil authority play in this issue? The question was not answered so I leave it upon your heart and mind to grapple with!

Another topic that the participants and panelists grappled with was abstinence. Rabbi Edwards informed the audience that he did not endorse casual sex. Sex according to Edwards is very potent and I might add, a sacred experience. However, everyone agreed that not talking about it does not work. While everyone did not agree on everything, it appears that there might be agreement that everyone should have as much information as possible to make the best and most responsible choice. Whether that choice to become sexually active or to decide about an unwanted

At the conclusion of the evening I wonder how many hearts were opened or changed and how many eyes were opened! May we work to create a world where all life is valued and that we are able to receive information without fear so that all life will be desired!
Blessing! Rev. Qiyamah

Legacy of Racism in the United States: An Examination of the Civil Rights Movement from the Perspective of Unitarian Univeralist Ministers

L-R Rev. David Bumbaugh, Rev. Jim Hobart and Rev. Richard Boeke participants in the Civil Rights Movement

Attendees at the Lecture held at Meadville Lombard Theological School
L-R Lynn Garner, Rev. Beverly Bumbaugh, Rev. Johanna Boeke and Arin Gingrich (student and convenor of the presentation).

More attendees of the Lecture L-R (students)Elaine Aron, Tim Barger and Sarah Gettie Burks-Anderson

An Examination of the Civil Rights Movement from the Perspective of Unitarian Univeralist Ministers

The evening was spent recounting some of the historic moments of the Civil Rights Movement as told from the perspective of Revs. Bumbaugh, Hobart and Boeke. While they did not purport to be authorities they legitimately claimed their first hand accounts that rendered a richness to text book accounts of the Civil Rights Movement.

Stay tuned for a summation of the panel overview. Meanwhile, for an account of the local civil rights movement check out this source: Alan B. Anderson and George W. Pickering. Confronting the Color Line: The Broken Promise of the Civil Rights Movement in Chicago.

Question: What do you know about the larger Civil Rights Movement and its links to the Civil Rights Movement in Chicago?
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

A Visit to Back of the Yards

L-R Rev. Q and Irene Lopez standing in front of the many dance trophies that some of the 400 youth BYNC works with have won over the years!

Industrious resident working in his garden!

Infrastructure upgrades in Back of the Yards!

Bingo Mamas at BYNC patiently waiting for the game to get underway!

L-R Officer Cary Cooper, REv. Q and Officer Tony Corral (Community Police). They have offered to schedule a walking tour of the community for me.

Dedicated staff of Healthcare Alternative Systems, Inc.
L-R Sandra Barboza, Esmeralda Huerta, Robin Schmidt and Elizabeth Diaz

Father Bruce Wellums of Holy Cross taking a minute out of his busy schedule to meet with me and talk about his program.

One of the many industrious vendors evident in Back of the Yards!

Development in Back of the Yards!

This is the dedicated staff at Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council that works hard to improve the quality of life for its clients.

Back of the Yards
It has been a pleasure and an adventure becoming familiar with the section of the
20th ward known as the Back of the Yards. Back of the Yards is located in the community area of New City and extends from 39th to 55th Streets between Halsted and the railroad tracks along Leavitt Street, just south and west of the former Union Stock Yard and adjacent to packing plants. Back of the Yards has been the focus of Upton Sinclair's novel, The Jungle and activist Saul Alinski's organizing efforts. Until the 1950s the Back of the Yards comprised the largest livestock and meatpacking center in the country.

Back of the Yards was settled by Irish and German butchers and joined in the 1870s and 1880s by Czechs. By the turn of the century the area was dominated by Poles, Lithuanians, Slovaks, and Czechs. World War I and the 1920s witnessed small numbers of Mexican immigrants but the area remained Slavic until the 1970s when Chicano's and African Americans began to move into the area.

In the Depression and WWII years residents created two key social movements: the Pckinghouse Workers ORganizing Committee AKA the United Packinghouse Workers of America or UPWA-CIO and Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (BYNC). According to James R. Barrett, UPWA-CIO became a progressive "mainstay of the labor movement." BYNC, a coalition of dozens of neighborhood and parish groups, became Saul Alinsky's model for community organizing throughout the country.

In future posts I will describe in more detail the work that BYNC,Holy Cross and Healthcare Alternative Systems, Inc is doing.

Question: How have you lived out your values and beliefs today in the world? How have you shown up in the world with your gifts and your unique contributions?
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah