The poet T.S. Eliot once addressed a deeply disturbing question to city dwellers everywhere, a profound challenge to our consciences that cuts to the heart of everything that has gone wrong in our society.
In 1995, Sally Hindman wanted to start a home- less advocacy newspaper in the East Bay. Street Sheet already existed in San Francisco, and she saw an opportunity in Berkeley and Oakland. She quickly enlisted Terry Messman to be the founding editor and together, they got to work.
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.
This is how a legacy is passed on to a new generation: Martin Luther King gave his life to spreading the message of nonviolence. After he was assassinated, Bernard Lafayette picked up the fallen torch, and passed it on to Kazu Haga and Jonathan Lewis. Now they are sharing this vision with the next generation.
The victory over Measure S is the first time since 1994 that a ballot measure to criminalize homeless people has been defeated anywhere in the nation. This victory is even more remarkable considering that Berkeley’s powerful business organizations vastly outspent the financially strapped homeless organizations that opposed the initiative.
“I really think it’s a stupid measure and it’s not going to do anything to help people on the street,” said Jesse Arreguin of the Berkeley City Council. “It’s not going to solve homelessness, it’s not going to do anything to improve the plight of small businesses in our city.”
“This isn’t some problem of bored kids from Oregon coming to Berkeley for the summer,” said Pattie Wall. “This is our problem, these are our kids and we have a responsibility to them — and our responsibility to them doesn’t include arresting them for not having any place to go.”
The beautiful mural created by the young artists of Youth Spirit Artworks promotes healthy living and exposes the huge disparity between the health and lifespan of low-income and wealthier residents in Berkeley. The mural makes a strong statement about social justice by showing how poverty jeopardizes public health.
Many nonprofit service providers are working to alleviate the ever-worsening symptoms of poverty by meeting the needs for shelter, food and services. But very few go the extra mile to stand up in defense of the human rights of the poor, or to take part in protests against structural injustice.
Homeless youth led a colorful protest at Berkeley City Hall, displaying scores of prayer flags in an appeal for compassion for homeless people targeted by a sitting-ban proposal. The Stand Up For The Right To Sit Down coalition scored at least a temporary victory by sending this proposal “to limbo.”