More Stories from Springfield

Posted by: Caroline

Springfield continues to overwhelm us with its welcoming attitude and its eagerness for change.

On Thursday, the team spent the majority of the day at the Springfield Public Library, a beautiful neo-classical structure no more than a hundred feet from the Episcopal Cathedral where we’re staying. As we struggled with advanced work for our next two towns, we found comfort in our surroundings. There’s nothing quite so reassuring as a city library on a summer day—the multitude of books, the diversity of people, the whirr of the fans, the hum of activity . . .

At 11, Katie, Eric, and I, headed back to the Cathedral to help prepare a community meal. Since the late 90s, Christ Church Cathedral has hosted lunch and dinner, called Loaves and Fishes, for those who need it almost every day of the week. The three of us had a great time talking with Darleen, the woman who heads the operation. She told us anecdotes about her many years working in this position and about the kitchen’s current struggles with area museums, who want the operation moved elsewhere. “But you know,” she informed us, as she lowered her voice. “I’m a child of the 60s. I’m a rebel. I hope you all stay rebels too.”

We don’t expect to disappoint her.

Before serving the meal, Katie, Eric, and I joined twelve other community members at a prayer service delivered by Rev. Jim Munroe, the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, and the open-hearted individual responsible for letting us stay at the church. (Darleen informed us that he’s a rebel, too.) After the prayer service, we joined volunteers from an area church to help serve the 150 individuals who showed up for the meal. We later had some food ourselves and enjoyed chatting with people still eating, who generously articulated interest in, and support for, our journey this summer.

Eric discussed current climate policy at our Climate Emergency Meeting and Green Forum

After an afternoon at the library filled with still more advanced work, we headed over to the Forest Park Branch Library for our Climate Emergency Meeting and Green Forum. Although we had some technical difficulties with the projector, overall, the meeting was a huge success. The fourteen attendees represented a range of organizations—Western New England College’s Sustainability Program, the Green Rainbow Party, Springfield City Council, the Springfield Institute, Arise for Social Justice, Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield, the Green Commission, and the McKnight Neighborhood Youth Council. The energy in the room was positive and powerful, and the dialogue regarding the intersection between social justice and environmental issues was stimulating. We especially enjoyed speaking with individuals after the meeting.

One conversation I will particularly remember: Tali and I spoke with a woman working at Western New England College, interested in finding out how she can get Students for a Just and Stable Future plugged into the College’s somewhat conservative student community. She explained how she feels that so many of the world’s problems require dramatic cultural changes in order to be solved, and how she hopes that getting students involved in SJSF might be a small step in the right direction. She continued, “Here’s what I tell my students: most people spend their days doing work they don’t like, to buy things they don’t need, and in the process help people who don’t need help. The majority of their things end up in landfills, and then they die.” Darleen’s earlier encouragement to “stay rebels” now seemed even wiser than before.

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2 Responses to More Stories from Springfield

  1. jqh4 says:

    Sounds like you guys did an amazing job in Springfield! And keep up that “rebel” mentality!

  2. Bill Wilt says:

    Oh, 76 cheers for rebellious youth ! (x76).

    Myself, I went to Rep. Markey’s Melrose (MA) “constituent work” office to:
    1) get a handful of pocket Constitutions (each congressperson gets 1,000 or so to give to those who ask for a copy–It’s 109th Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Document 109-17)–you guys all should have a copy in your pocket, panniers or backpacks, IMHO. I think only Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul carry a copy at all times (and the late Rob’t Byrd). I expressed pleasure at the two reps. to someone older (even) than I, who replied, “But they all should carry a copy–that’s their JOB.” (wow, he gets it).

    and 2) to “beard the lion in his den,” so to speak. (That is, I asked Markey’s staff members if they’d sign my petition to get on the ballot and compete w/ their boss.)

    The three kind young women I was able to ask all demurred.

    But (and here’s the ! x 76 part)…I had left the office and gone ’round the corner to a Dunkin’ Do-nuts which had some full tables of potential registered voters, got another 8 signatures, and was chatting w/ an older couple–when one of the three staff members walked by, spotted me as I was gesticulating, in animated conversation, spun around, popped through the door, grabbed my aluminum clipboard-thingy and wrote her name in, saying, “NOW I’m off duty–and I think everyone should have a chance to run!”

    Knock me over with a feather.

    Also, just finished reading The Looting of America: How Wall Street’s Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions and Prospserity…And What We Can Do About It by Les Leopold. [2009; Chelsea Green pubs, WhiteRiverJct, VT; Best explication of the melt-down I’ve yet read–and I’ve read a half-dozen–and in layman’s lingo. (

    “Please, can someone explain how …about 2 percent of household net worth …could devastate the world’s financial system? To date, the taxpayer has put up about $2 trillion in bank bailouts and loan guarantees. Why didn’t that take care of the problem long ago? Like some perverse modern-day miracle of fishes and loaves, how did $300 billion of bad debt multiply into trillions of dollars in financial toxic waste? Poor people did all that? In this book I go after these questions–and I hope the answers will tell us a good deal about our economic woes and what to do about them. At the very least, I hope to contribute modestly to our collective financial literacy. In short, if I can understand this crap, so can you.”

    And now onto Paul Krugman’s The Great Unraveling

    By the bye, if you haven’t read the late BU Prof Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States–1492 to the Present, it’s a complete eye-opener. I read it for the first time just about 4 years ago, at aet. 64 But maybe y’all have read it, and education isn’t as retrograde as I thought.

    When you get further west, see if you can find a citizen’s group that has, I think, actually implemented their own banking system, medium(s?) of exchange–not barter, if I recall aright–and, sorry, I can’t think of the name. Met some members at a 9/11Truth gathering in The Boston Meetinghouse maybe five years ago.

    My best to you all. Memorize the Preamble. Question Authority.

    And start a movement to add an amendment to the Constitution that goes something like this:

    Any war of choice shall be fought by those who have authorized it, in this manner: The President (in the case of the United States) and his or her opposite number (in the case of the other nation or group), shall duel by single-shot pistols at 13 paces, in Yankee Stadium or other suitable venue. The survivor of the first duel will then take on the 2nd in command (Vice-President in the US) and through the chain of succession, until all have dueled with single-shot pistols at 13 paces with their equivalently ranked enemy. The duels shall continue until there is but one person standing, and the nation or group he or she represents will be declared the victor. In the alternative, the first person to declare, “Hold! Enough!!” will be declared the loser. The duels will be televised world-wide, using no less than 13 cameras to catch the action in dying color.

    I’ll betcha a crisp $2 “federal reserve note” our “wars” thereafter wouldn’t get as far as Duel #1!

    Over’n’out

    bw

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