We still have the highest/ percentage of homeless/ people per population/of any city in the nation/ It's 2013 and still / the drained and pained/ unhoused battalions/ of brokenhearted shopping cart/ soldiers come and go
What about street dogs,/ the soft undersides of paws/ laid at night/ upon face or arm/ warding off cold & harm./ Dogs with hungry sorrowful/ eyes will gaze into our own./ If we have zero food/ to offer, not even a bone,/ a dog still claims us,/ downtrodden as we are,/ as his home.
Dostoyevsky’s Prince Myshkin believed/ “Beauty will save the world.”/ By taking beauty to the shelter,/your flowers saved one part of it./ You smile in the spirit of Don Quixote:/ Free flowers for the poor/ could subvert the whole economy,/ beauty could ruin the banking system,/ kindness could wreck capitalism.
Berkeley artist Doug Minkler approaches his work with a passionate commitment to social change. He wields the artist’s brush like a hammer with which to reshape an unjust society. His poster art battle corporate polluters, predatory banks, nuclear weapons laboratories, brutal police, union-busting businesses and “the masters of war.”
Foreclosed homes in San Francisco are particularly appealing to buyers, especially since they can snap them up reasonably cheaply. Occupy the Auctions champions affected families by declaring a halt on home evictions and auctions and instead insisting the banks come up with a fair, affordable arrangement for financially strained families.
Business organizations in Berkeley have adopted the Block by Block approach to erode the human rights of the poor. The Measure S initiative was the most expensive campaign in Berkeley’s history. It was funded almost entirely by large property-holding companies which play an influential role in the Downtown Berkeley Association.
The incredible thing about these recyclers is that they are surviving in spite of immeasurable odds against them. Their stories are an invaluable asset—akin to living maps which illustrate the holes in our safety nets and the true beauty, dignity, and value of those who fell through them.
Occupy Our Homes Atlanta is a great sign of hope for all people caught up in the shattering experience of eviction. Their actions give us hope that we can overcome — no matter how powerful and well-entrenched the banks may be, no matter how many lawyers and lobbyists they employ.
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.
“What an honor it was to accompany J. Fernandez to the United Nations and listen to him read his poem on a really big screen, and to see in front of the General Assembly the pictures of St. Mary’s Center and all of you. It was really inspiring and tear-provoking,” Carol Johnson said.
“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.”