Urban Life Experience Book Discussion Series

Marian Huggins, New Haven Free Public Library

From November 2015 to the present, the Urban Life Experience Book Discussion Group is still going strong. We meet at the Wilson Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library. Sometimes there are twelve of us, sometimes four. Regardless of the number of attendees, we always have a lively discussion. The next meeting is Jan. 6, 2018 at noon, when we’ll be discussing Wesley Lowery’s book, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement.

The Urban Life Experience Book Discussion Series is not necessarily about urban themes or urban people (although often this is the case) but the Wilson Library is an urban library, and many of us live in urban locations. For clarity, the books we read are not urban literature or “street lit.” Most of the books we choose are non-fiction, although we have read two novels: Ben Winter’s Underground Airlines and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout. We normally choose books that have to do with African American history and social justice issues. Many of our sons, grandsons, nephews, and friends have fallen through the cracks of the education system or have had experiences with over-zealous police officers. Many of us have friends or family members who have had experiences in the criminal justice system. All of us, as citizens, have a stake in the political atmosphere in our country.

The overriding reason we’re in this book discussion group is that we love to read. In the past, most of us have gobbled up any book on the bestsellers lists, whether it had any bearing on our lives or not (and to be honest, I still sneak in some bestselling fiction in between and am sure that the rest of the group does as well). In addition to being book-lovers, most of us are seeking a way to make a meaningful contribution to our communities. Meeting every six weeks or so to discuss a thought-provoking book is the beginning of community building.

Wilson Branch, New Haven Free Public Library, 303 Washington Ave., (203) 946-2228.

Major Conference on Closing U.S. Foreign Military Bases

Henry Lowendorf, U.S. Peace Council

A broad coalition of U.S. peace organizations has created a major conference in Baltimore, Jan. 12 to 14 — to launch an international campaign to close U.S. foreign military bases.

Major speakers at the Conference on U.S. Foreign Military Bases include Ajamu Baraka, 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate; Col. Ann Wright, former diplomat, leader of CodePink and Veterans for Peace; David Vine, Associate Professor, American University, author of Base Nation. For a complete list of speakers, visit this link.

This coalition came together to unify the U.S. peace move-ment around a common goal. There is still time to register for this important initiative: http://noforeignbases.org.

Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, Unity Statement (partial)

While we may have our differences on other issues, we all agree that U.S. foreign military bases are the principal in-struments of imperial global domination and environmental damage through wars of aggression and occupation, and that the closure of U.S. foreign military bases is one of the first necessary steps toward a just, peaceful and sustainable world. Our belief in the urgency of this necessary step is based on the following facts:

  1. While we are opposed to all foreign military bases, we do recognize that the United States maintains the highest number of military bases outside its territory, estimated at almost 1000 (95% of all foreign military bases in the world). Presently, there are U.S. military bases in every Persian Gulf country except Iran.
  2. In addition, the United States has 19 naval air carriers (and 15 more planned), each as part of a Carrier Strike Group, composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft — each of which can be considered a floating military base.
  3. These bases are centers of aggressive military actions, threats of political and economic expansion, sabotage and espionage, and crimes against local populations. In addition, these military bases are the largest users of fossil fuel in the world, heavily contributing to environmental degradation.
  4. The annual cost of these bases to the American taxpayers is approximately $156 billion. The support of U.S. foreign military bases drains funds that can be used to fund human needs and enable our cities and states to provide necessary services for the people.

This has made the U.S. a more militarized society and has led to increased tensions between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Stationed throughout the world, almost 1000 in number, U.S. foreign military bases are symbols of the ability of the United States to intrude in the lives of sovereign nations and peoples.

Help Puerto Rico Recover with Solar Power!

Arnaaz Khwaja, New Haven/León Sister City Project

The Elm Energy Efficiency Project and New Haven/León Sister City Project are launching a new project called the Solar Solidarity Project. Its aim is to raise money to build and install solar panels in Puerto Rico using home energy savings from the New Haven area. We would like people to lower their energy usage and redirect their energy bill savings to help give Puerto Rico clean, renewable energy.

This project also addresses the ever pressing issue of climate change and helps Puerto Rico become less dependent on a power grid, in prepar-ation for future natural disasters.

You can learn more about the project, how to get involved, and how to donate at our website: http://www.elmenergyproject.org/solidarity-solar-project. If you are a teacher or student interested in having your school involved in this project, please email us at solarsolidarityproject@gmail.com.

Thank you!

 

Use Your Creativity to Change the World (and this Newsletter)!

PAR Planning Committee

The Progressive Action Roundtable Planning Committee is happy to announce our first-ever contest for a bumpersticker and/or logo for our newsletter. What phrase or design would you want to see on the cars in front of you? What logo for our newsletter would really speak to your sentiments of a better world?

Depending on the number of entries, we estimate we will be able to announce a winner by June. We are offering a $100 prize for the winning entry. All entries must be in black and white, and be mailed to PAR, P.O. Box 995, New Haven, CT 06504.

Please include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address with your design. You do not need to be a subscriber to participate.

Thank you!

Take Action—Stop Cuts to MEDICAID

PAR urges people to call their legislators to demand NO cuts to the Medicaid program.

The budget that Gov. Malloy signed gives people only until March 1 to remain on their programs. It is estimated that 113,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities will be affected.

There will be a special session in the beginning of January to rework the budget.

Tell your legislators money should NOT be taken from any other social service or health program. It’s time to raise the taxes on the millionaires and billionaires of this state.

Senate President Martin Looney needs to hear from us now! You can call toll-free, (800) 842-1420. More information can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/ycclewgs.

Student Needs First—School Board Watch Initiative

CT Parents Union (CTPU) has launched a School Board Watch Initiative to ensure individuals we elected or were appointed to Connecticut local and state boards of education are putting the needs of students first over education partisan politics. Parent and community volunteers will evaluate BOE meetings in five governance areas:

  1. Focus and Mission: The Board is “focused” on achieving fiscal and personnel responsible goals that are in the best interest of ALL students regardless of race, disability or income level.
  2. Transparency: Board processes are accessible to the public and public treated with respect and dignity;
  3. Conduct: Conflicts/disagreements are managed respectfully – ALL school boards must lead by example;
  4. Role Clarity: The Board provides effective leadership and oversight through student-centered planning and strategy processes; and
  5. Competency: Ensure board members are informed and culturally responsive.

Bottom line: Every Board of Education decision MUST BE in the best interest of the student with fiscal and personnel accountability paramount!

NHPS Parents Group–Fátima Rojas, (203) 747-4309; Sarah Miller, (203) 675-9516, newhavenpublicschoolparents@gmail.com.

The Coalition for People Wants to Know What Issues Are Important to You

Dorothy Johnson and Paula Panzarella, Coalition for People

The Greater New Haven Coalition for People is an organization with over thirty years of grassroots organizing among low- and middle-income residents. Many PAR readers have supported its work and attended its annual meetings, as well as joined in its struggle for keeping the bus stops around the New Haven Green (which was successful!), and for universal comprehensive single-payer healthcare.
Coalition for People is looking for more active members to continue its work and needs to know:

  • What issues are important to you?
  • Are you able to come to meetings (once a month)?
  • Do you have other suggestions?

CFP members will be called in the beginning of January for their answers to the above “questionnaire.”

We invite PAR members to offer their suggestions and participate in enlarging the organization as well.

Contact Coalition for People, P.O. Box 8868, New Haven, CT 06532.

Green Fund Now Accepting Applications for 2018 Funding

The Greater New Haven Green Fund solicits small and large grant applications once a year.

An electronic version of the cover letter, application, budget, and attachments should be sent to grants@gnhgreenfund.org.

You may download the request for applications (RFA) for the Green Fund or the Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc (PSEG) by going to http://www.gnhgreenfund.org. Deadline is 5 p.m. Jan. 12, 2018.

They’ve changed the RFA this year so be sure to review the initial pages, especially if you have applied for grants in previous years.

The PSEG RFA is separate from the regular grants because the money came from a Community Benefit Agreement between the City of New Haven and PSEG, Inc. to provide small grants to help educate citizens about air pollution. You may apply for the 2018 RFA or the 2018 PSEG RFA but not both. Go to http://www.gnhgreenfund.org to download the RFA.

BFA Workshop: Principles of Biological Systems – January 6 & 7

This two-day workshop (Jan. 6 & 7, 2018), presented by the Bionutrient Food Association in partnership with CT NOFA & NOFA Organic Land Care Program, is designed for farmers, growers, and gardeners to learn current research and proven methods that will lead to optimum crop health and sustained yield. The in-depth workshop will go step-by-step through the processes and foundations of biological farming for higher quality crops — better taste, pest & disease resilience, longer shelf life, and higher levels of nutrients beneficial to our health and well-being.
Topics to be covered:

  • Interpreting soil tests
  • Mineral balancing and amendments
  • Strategies for soil health improvement
  • Biological seed inoculation
  • Conductivity, refractometers and brix.
  • In-season crop monitoring and feeding with nutrient drenches & foliar sprays

    Grow better food. Help heal our environment. Nourish humanity. Middletown Community Health Center, 675 Main St.,, Middletown, CT.Learn more at: http://www.bionutrient.org/site/workshops.

Amazing Story of Mary and Eliza Freeman of Bridgeport

Hosted by CT Chapter of the National Organization for Women (CT NOW), Thursday, Jan. 11, 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm St.

Come to a fascinating talk about two remarkable Connec-ticut women who’ve been lost from history – Mary and Eliza Freeman – starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, in the Ives Performance Area of the New Haven Public Library, 133 Elm St., New Haven.

Sisters and free women of color, Mary and Eliza bought and leased houses in Bridgeport in the 1800s, leading to the creation of the “Little Liberia” neighborhood. Established 20 years before Connecticut abolished slavery for good in 1848, Little Liberia was designed to give free African-Americans the opportunity to make greater social and economic progress. The two original homes Mary and Eliza purchased are the oldest remaining houses in Connecticut built by free blacks and are part of the Connecticut Freedom Trail. However, help is needed to ensure their survival. Come hear the story of these two amazing women, presented by Maisa Tisdale, president of the Mary and Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community.

Widespread Food Insecurity in New Haven, CT

From the Greater New Haven Peace Council leaflet of Dec. 8, 2017

  1. On December 2, 2017, the New Haven Register ran an eyeopening article on its front page that should have created a huge public outcry from readers.
  2. The article addressed the growing problem of FOOD INSECURITY in New Haven. It also could have applied to other cities in Connecticut, one of the richest states in the richest country in the world, and beyond.
  3. There is something drastically wrong with an economic system that has the worst gap of individual income between the haves and the have nots than any other industrialized country in the world! We have become a country of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.
  4. Numerous local organizations and agencies and 13 affected individuals worked together on the eight-page report. Their investigation painted a pretty bleak picture:
    1. Over 22 percent of city residents are food insecure. That means they either do not have enough food each day or the money to buy food that they and their families need.
    2. One out of three adults in the city’s lowest income neighborhoods are impacted.
    3. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
    4. Food insecurity among Latino residents across New Haven is even higher at 34 percent!
    5. Food insecurity among residents in the six lowest income neighborhoods is at a shocking 50.1 percent!

THIS IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!

The report also showed there are people who work full time or have multiple jobs and still go hungry. How can this be, you say? Many work at or below minimum wage and have to choose between food and

(1) keeping their utilities on; or
(2) affording very high rents in broken down rat traps; or
(3) paying for necessary medications.

The group’s survey also found that most people that are food insecure were not eating, on average, from 10 to 14 days per month just so their children could have enough to eat.

Hypocrisy so thick you need a knife to cut it. Our five CT Democratic representatives often speak about the problems many seniors face on hunger, homelessness, low or unpaid wages. They loudly complain about Republican budget cuts on the poor and working classes. Yet they continually betray us by voting more money for the military and weapons of war. In July 2017, all of them voted to increase the military budget that exceeded last year’s 700+ billion dollars. Trump was asking for a $52 billion increase, they voted to give him an additional $24 billion beyond his request. Just think what that extra money could have done to help our people here at home.

The government takes $11.3 billion of CT taxpayer money to fund the Pentagon each year. From 2001 to 2017 it took away over $1.2 trillion each year to pay for past, present and future wars and for maintaining over 850 U.S. military bases in 172 countries.

Connecticut could have used some of that money to meet the needs of all its people. The following could have been created in the last five years:

  • 35,000 living wage jobs at $15 an hour
  • 35,000 infrastructure jobs
  • 35,000 clean energy jobs
  • 30,000 elementary teaching jobs

Remember, if the proposed Republican tax cuts for the super-rich and largest corporations go through, it will be at our expense as trillions of dollars are sucked out of essential programs we and our families and friends depend on.

We must stop our destructive culture of endless wars, violence, and economic slavery!

We must stand up and speak out. It’s your children! Your parents! Your money! Your future! Your planet! Your lives!

Please call: Representative Rosa DeLauro, Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal at their Washington, D.C. Offices. Telephone (202) 224-3121.

Make that call TODAY.

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