Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why don't you do something meaningful?

Two shopping carts again today. One completely filled with aluminum pans filled with pasta. This has to stop. Who is doing this?  Thankfully, neither is chained to the scaffolding so I wheel them both to the garbage cans and leave them there. 
John  and Ted come to my office to work on the business plan and budget of church and Centre. Key to the project will be the church’s own sense of its strategy for growth.  When John says that we can’t wait for a superman, I say that we’ve known that for a year. When we moved to come back, we took our own fate in our own hands, took responsibility  for ourselves. And have been reclaiming our space step by step, inch by inch. It also seems that our growth strategy will need to be another variation on the community of communities idea.  And John challenges me to go to the edge of radical theology. We changed from rebuild for rebirth to reborn for rebuilding. If we only can have the time....
Keisha comes in to talk about getting married. We talk about what the service might look like, then I show her the sanctuary. The sanctuary is still beautiful, but the church house, it’s rawness can be shocking. I’m wondering what she’s thinking. If she gets married here, it will be the first marriage in over three years. Something else I didn’t think I’d see again.
Outside on the steps, an older woman with a fine sun hat and umbrella approaches. Asks what’s going on with the church. I tell her our story. She tells me she’s Jamaica born, raised between there and London. Worked in international development. She has a lot of ideas for grass roots fundraising strategies. Bottom,  not top down. Her voice has that beautiful lilt to it, more British than Jamaican. I take her name. Hope that she will help.
Across the street from where I live is my favorite Mexican restaurant, Gabriela’s. This is one of those moments you dread, when  it’s a restaurant you really like that has its labor practices challenged. Age discrimination. Sexual harassment. Retribution. That’s what has drawn the demonstrators to the street today.  I have come at the invitation of my friends from the Justice Will Be Served campaign. Hope is passing out leaflets. 
Tracy, the organizer asks me to speak. I’m wearing my collar, ready to go. I speak about  how exciting it is to see the movement that’s growing block by block, restaurant by restaurant. One group of workers inspiring another. The way the movement has transcended race and language and culture. And how brave the women of Gabriela’s are to stand up and speak out, even at the risk of retribution. How they deserve honor and respect, even as every worker deserves the dignity of their labor and a decent wage. And how our neighborhood can become the first sweatshop free zone in the city. 
Gabriela's workers
Trabajadores unidos, jamas sera vencidos. 

Tracy, Hope, Bob

Tracy wants to know more abut what it was like to grow up in Pittsburgh while the steel industry crashed. And the steelworkers with them. 

As I’m speaking with Tracy and Hope, a later middle aged white man is taking our photographs. He wants to know what my collar's made of paper? 
No, I say, actually it’s made of plastic. 
So why would you wear a plastic collar?
 Because pressed linen is too expensive.
Why don’t you do something meaningful, like something about immigration rights?
Hope says that we do, Does he want to join us?
No. We need an amnesty act. And you need to stop causing trouble for someone just trying to give people jobs, make a living...

OK. This is weird. Tracy is just a bit anxious...he takes some more pictures and goes away. 
Back at the church, Danielle is in the balcony. RL and Dave the sound guy from P & G have ridden in like the cavalry to see if they can rescue our lighting for this Friday’s tsunami benefit. I haven’t seen RL since the morning  after the Crafts Fair and Music Festival last December. In his stetson and long white hair he looks like an old cowboy.  They’re  looking for the poor man (church)’s solution with what we’ve already got. RL’s doing this for Amanda. And because I let him read a poem. And because he enjoys being not a Christian helping a church.
There’s work on the archives to do for Norm. There’s clean up for the Friday night concert to do. And the hard work of trying to bring our concert series to life. In two and a half short weeks.... 

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