Summertime is here in sunny Northern California, but what does that mean for the homeless living on the streets? It’s not that hard to figure out, it means limited access to showers, sweating all day, wearing stinking clothes and a real need for access to the basic human necessities.
“The first time I played here, there was no park here yet,” Stevie Barsotti, the frontman of a band called Dapper Shindig, said to a crowd who had gathered in People’s Park on April 13. “The third time was when we tore down the fence, and that was really fun!”
In this dark time when many nonprofit agencies are finding survival difficult, Youth Spirit Artworks is reporting for duty. Young artists are ready, willing and able to step up to the plate and roll up our sleeves, paint brushes in hand, in order to keep helping the youth of Berkeley.
I have known Bob Meister for 25 years. I have watched him raise a family, and help homeless people regain a sense of their self-worth and restart their lives. I took lessons from Bob that helped me end my own homelessness, raise two children and start a new day in my life.
Same-day protests were held in San Francisco, Berkeley and Portland to challenge laws banning sitting or lying by homeless people. These “copy-cat laws” travel from city to city, as municipal officials copy each other’s efforts to erode human rights by making it illegal for poor people to exist in public.
Poets held a poetry reading to challenge the City Council’s proposed sitting ban. How delightful it would be if we could just sing our way right past this terrible proposal to outlaw something as natural as sitting down. We should pour enough poetry on it that it is doused entirely.
A unique, quirky and imaginative protest was held at the Berkeley BART on May 22 to protest the City Council’s proposed sitting ban ordinance. Called a “Chair-a-Pillar,” the colorful act of defiance summoned forth a powerful historic echo of past sit-ins for civil rights.
Human rights include not only civil rights, but economic rights as well. George Lippman, chair of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, said, “Nothing defines the right to human dignity more clearly than such elemental human needs as the right to sit, the right to rest, the right to eat.”