Saturday, October 18, 2014

...the people already have the answer within them....


The sleeping man on the steps continues his circle between the steps and the sidewalk. This is becoming a group project. We’ve gone through this ritual 3 times now.

Anna and Eddie and his fiance are in. We are making progress in finding them a permanent home.

ETHEL has returned and I’m comforted to hear the sounds of their music coming down from the balcony again. 

Neighbor Jen comes in with 5 pounds of candy for Halloween.

A woman psychiatrist who once attended Union Seminary is looking for office space.

Volunteer Richard from Brooklyn in from his weekly gig folding brochures. 

Jason Harris is here to debrief our shared experience at the Princeton Sant’Egidio poverty and peacemaking conference ( how it relates to what Jason is up to in Staten Island. He continues to work at the grassroots level on the Eric Garner choking by police death in Staten Island. Garner’s death now eclipsed by Michael Brown and Ferguson.

Jason is exasperated by the professional activists and the idea that the solution is better training for police, more recreational activities for kids or even prosecution of the responsible officers. He sees police violence as just the most visible expression of deep seeded and systemic racism. Reflected in unemployment, incarceration, health issues. And it’s impossible to attack all that at once. He remembers the Sant’Egidio representative who asked pointedly why we didn’t examine the violence created by corporations and the violence of inequity.

On the one hand, Jason almost is overwhelmed by the width and breadth of the situation. On the other, he keeps having conversations. Fact is, unless you believe BA is truly bringing the worldwide revolution, there is no easy answer. I remember my mentor Philip. How he said that if God wants something to be done in the world, it is already being done. How it was his role as a bureaucrat to find it and get resources to where it is happening.

By extension, there are places where the new reality (like the new church) is already being created. Little places like Word Up Bookshop in Washington Heights where a pop up bookshop turned into storefront turned into a full fledged bookshop, performance space, community center or center of community.( I suggest Jason go check it out.

And I recall how the Presbyterian LGBTQ activists after two defeats, set aside didactic, adversarial debates and committed themselves to 1000 conversations and at the end of those conversations, finally won. Maybe what Jason needs is 1000 conversations. 

And I think about Freire and education for critical consciousness. Working with people to become the subjects of their own history. And that at some level, the answer will arise out of those conversations because the people already have the answer within them. That’s about as far as we got today.

I’ve got to roll because I’ve got to get to the Tibet House to speak at the opening ceremonies of the Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour and exhibit of Buddhist relics.( Thought only Catholics did that. On my way…


Back from the Buddhists. Happy that my friend Beppe joined me there. And Dion too. And of course, TK.

Time for Open Mic. RL’s under the weather so Pat O is MC and it’s another full night.

Pat opens the night. Followed by Kieran.
And then a new spoken word artist, Poez,
who accompanies himself on piano. He apparently has had quite a career as a poet/performing artist.( Then follows another solid set by Nick. And then Joel calls Rabbi Steve up to accompany him on his journey. 
Steve Blane and Mandola Joe

Steve, who has a new CD out, ( surprises us with a ukulele set followed by Pigeon Shit, which moves from a deliberately crude beginning to poignancy. Young Jeremy from the burbs of Westchester continues his recreation  of early Dylan and finishes with an original. 

Next up, another spoken word/rapper, Bryant Rogers,
Bryant Rogers

(who can be seen here Bryant had given Joel a serious high five after his set. Poez had been into his iPhone, but as Joel hit his stride, set it down, entranced. (

Mandola Joe, back again. David S, another solid. I do two originals, then bring back A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall again. I intend to wrestle that one down until I’ve got it. 

had her first real full set in the Village last Wednesday. After her originals, she brings us Dylan’s Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door…She’s got another set November 1st. David L grows in confidence and Miriam
gives us a traditional, an original and a cover with a throughline about being seen. 

RL has come in, still alive, we see. Does a set. Then steps down as Pat O leads us into RL’s closer, Stay Awhile. I go up to join Pay and then RL himself steps.

Outside, Mandola Joe is enamored of the weather. Maybe next week we need to focus on songs about fall. 

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