Director’s Blog :

Corinne Segal has done a fabulous job with this interview on our food system, and how appropriate that it comes out on International Human Rights Day and on the day that we discuss Eric Holt-Gimenez’s book tonight at WESPAC at 7pm on Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It?
Take a look here: https://www.slowfoodmetronorth.org/…/nada-khader-on-the-pol… Thank you, Corinne!

We had a good group that came together including Martha Elder who has presented at WESPAC before (thanks to Tracy’s introduction).  She is the founder of Second Chance Foods and was recently featured on Channel 12 News: 
 
Here is Martha’s website: https://secondchancefoods.org/  She is doing very important food rescue work in our region and is getting fresh, healthy foods to those who need them most.  She will reach out to WESPAC in the coming weeks at times when she needs additional support.
 
Antoinette has sent in a suggestion about reviewing Westchester County’s mapping of food deserts.  Sonna will do some research to see if we can identify where these food deserts are located and how we can help address this.
 
Dan Wohl has invited the WESPAC Food Justice Committee to convene at his new workplace:  the Greenhouse and Education Center at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY.  He is working on developing food security networks between NYC and the Hudson Valley.  Nada reached out to Chloe to see if she would like to bring her youth along for this outing.
 
Doug DeCandia gave us a substantial update about his current work: he is growing herbs and flowers with inmates at Sing Sing and Taconic prisons and is working with the mental health units.  He shared some wonderful photos with Nada of his work that are available upon request.  He and Jalal are exploring the idea of teaching a horticulture and nutrition course at Sing Sing.  He discussed the challenges of working with prison authorities in terms of getting fresh produce from a local CSA into the prison.  They are trying to see if the CSA produce could be added to the commissary list and could arrive in cardboard boxes to alleviate the security concerns of the prison authorities.  It is all a work in progress.  He will be in touch with us in the coming weeks and months at moments when he may need additional support for this important work.  Additionally, this weekend he is offering a workshop on the necessity of building equity in our food system at this soil and nutrition conference in Massachusetts:  https://soilandnutrition.org/
 
We also discussed if, at the county government level, we could get buy in from the county to have any county operated facility commit to purchasing food for their cafeteria from local, small scale Hudson Valley ecological farmers and growers.  This change alone would be transformative for our local economy and would have a serious impact on reducing our carbon footprint and would help with climate change issues along with habitat and farm preservation and the promotion of biodiversity, the health of our precious pollinators and so much more.
 
We also discussed the utility of having a listing of all farms in Westchester County listing what items are grown and where they are made available.  This list may already be available – we need to research.  We would want to include here private property that is being leased to farmers to grow produce, flowers, herbs, raise animals, chickens, bee keeping etc.
 
Our December WESPAC Book Club gathering will take place on Tuesday, December 10th at 7pm with a discussion of “Can We Feed the World without Destroying It” by  Eric Holt Giménez.
 
Respectfully submitted,
 
Nada
 

PANEL DISCUSSION
Police, ICE and Immigrant Safety in Westchester County


Tuesday, October 22nd at 6pm • Yonkers Riverfront Library • 1 Larkin Center in Yonkers, NY 10701

PANELISTS

Joseph Castelli
Police Chief, White Plains Police Department

John J. Mueller
Acting Police Commissioner, Yonkers Police Department

Richard Conway
Chief of Police, Port Chester Village

Jessica Young, Esq.
Westchester Supervising Attorney, Make the Road New York

Diana Sanchez
Yonkers Sanctuary Movement

Vanessa Agudelo (moderator)
Peekskill Trustee & New York Immigration Coalition

For more information, contact:
914-222-3244 • wcprny.org [email protected]

Dear WESPAC,

I’m writing on behalf of The Borgen Project, a nonprofit that is working to bring political attention to severe poverty. I’m hoping you can forward this to members of your organization. We’re trying to build support for programs that impact the world’s poor. The details are below and I appreciate your consideration. 130 million girls around the world are currently not enrolled in school. With an absence in educational opportunity for young women in various regions around the world, they are more likely to contract diseases such as HIV.

When they are thrown into child marriages, these adolescents face pregnancy and high rates of infant mortality. They are typically in regions that are more susceptible to environmental disaster, or are more often exposed to violence and extremism.

Keeping Girls in School Act is a bill that works to create diplomatic and innovative programs that close the gender gap in education. When girls are enrolled in school, poverty rates drop. The risk for disease, child marriage, and extremism in turn drops as well. When these women are given the opportunity to fight gender bias with independence and capable of creating their own careers, they are able to better help their own communities and in turn help stabilize these regions.

This transformation is crucial in fighting for justice around the world, so we must act. The need: 45 emails in support of Keeping Girls in School Act for the state of New York. Why this matters: Political offices tally how many calls, letters and emails they receive in support of each bill or program. Leaders and their staff use this info to determine how the leader should vote. 2 quick and easy ways to help: We need you… and we’ve made it incredibly simple for you to have an impact today.

Visit this link and enter your address: https://borgenproject.org/issues-homepage/#/42 Our system will automatically send an email to the Congressional leaders representing you. This only takes 30-seconds to do and has a huge impact. Mobilize friends and family to do likewise. Forward this email to anyone you think who you think cares enough to take action. That’s all there is to it! If you’re looking to get involved with The Borgen Project, information on national volunteer opportunities (writers and political team) is listed here and internships are listed here.

Thank you!

Madison Daley

This enormously moving tribute to their son remains so valid today. Here is what WESPAC members Phyllis and Orlando submitted to the New York Times days after September 11th, 2001. It was not published by the New York Times:
 
Not in our Son’s Name 
By Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez
Copy of a letter sent to to the New York Times 
 
Our son Greg is among the many missing from the World Trade Center attack. Since we first heard the news, we have shared moments of grief, comfort, hope, despair, fond memories with his wife, the two families, our friends and neighbors, his loving colleagues, and all the grieving families that daily meet at the Pierre Hotel.

We see our hurt and anger reflected among everybody we meet. We cannot pay attention to the daily flow of news about this disaster. But we read enough of it to sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, and friends in distant lands dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us.

It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son’s death. Not in our son’s name.

Our son died a victim of an inhuman ideology. Our actions should not serve the same purpose. Let us grieve. Let us reflect and pray. Let us think about a rational response that brings real peace and justice to our world. But let us not as a nation add to the inhumanity of our times.


Copy of the Rodriguez’s letter to the White House: 
 

Dear President Bush:

Our son is one of the victims of Tuesday’s attack on the World Trade Center. We read about your response in the last few days and about the resolutions from both Houses, giving you undefined power to respond to the terror attacks.

Your response to this attack does not make us feel better about our son’s death. It makes us feel worse. It makes us feel that our government is using our son’s memory as a justification to cause suffering for other sons and parents in other lands.

It is not the first time that a person in your position has been given unlimited power and came to regret it. This is not the time for empty gestures to make us feel better. It is not the time to act like bullies.

We urge you to think about how our government can develop peaceful, rational solutions to terrorism, solutions that do not sink us to the inhuman level of terrorists.

Sincerely, 
Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez

Membership Dues 2019

Dear Members and Friends of WESPAC,

Together, we have supported WESPAC through its 45th anniversary!  Inspired by our rich history, and proud of our nurturing role, WESPAC serves a unique role as a hub for progressive organizing in the county.  We connect people with each other, support a wide range of campaigns and strengthen movement building locally by developing long term relationships with grassroots leaders, workers and environmental groups.

Some of the highlights of this past year include our annual awards dinner with Marc Lamont Hill.  His theme “radical imagination” explored the need for progressives to rise above social inhibitions and imagine true freedom, including freedom for Palestinians. He urged us to channel the bravery of abolitionists and enslaved “freedom fighters”: 

“What happens to our politics when they get tested? What happens when something is on the line. When the job promotion is on the line, when your friendship network is on the line, when your TV job is on the line, … what are you going to sacrifice, what are you going to put aside for justice?”

Another highlight from this past year was the Westchester Social Forum.  WESPAC continues to play a lead role in organizing the Westchester Social Forum, an annual gathering of social justice activists which grew out of the World Social Forum process, bringing together activists, organizers, people of color, working people, poor people, and indigenous people with the goal of building ties between organizations to help build a broader social justice movement. 

Hundreds of Westchester activists and visionaries gathered in March to exchange ideas and information, foster solidarity and celebrate our work to create a more just and equal society. The current political climate has energized both seasoned and new activists who are working to build alliances and find solutions to pressing local issues. 

WESPAC continues to work in coalition for racial equity and criminal justice reform with #FREEnewyork, Start SMART NY and the Antiracist Alliance; for renewable, safe energy and urgent climate action with Food and Water Watch, for immigrant protection with the New York Immigration Coalition, .  WESPAC is also playing a key role in standing up for the civil and constitutional rights of all those who speak out for Palestinian freedom.  

This past year, we have worked together with community partners to show up for our progressive values, as we experience increased levels of repression from the federal government, as we witness growing threats to the wellbeing of the planet and our communities, as profit is placed over people and land, and corporations, not people, control our democracy.  

WESPAC continues to serve as a leading force for progressive social change in Westchester.  We continue to educate and organize for a more just and peaceful world, an end to militarism and racism and a more fair economy that works for all.  Our members continue to advocate for public policies that support immigrant rights, public education, worker rights, affordable housing, safe & renewable energy, LGBTQ rights and healthcare for all.  

The only way we can continue our work is with your help.  Dues are $100 per person annually, or $50 for students and persons with a fixed income.  We are grateful for all levels of support and no one is turned away for lack of funds. Volunteer hours are welcome in lieu of payment and can be arranged with the office.  Please make your tax-deductible contribution today via the donate button at wespac.org or by check in the enclosed envelope.  We are asking for all dues to be received by September 30th.

We are proud of the role we play as a hub for grassroots organizing with a mission to strengthen movement building in the promotion of human rights and self-determination for all communities.  We need your support now more than ever to make this cherished community institution stronger!  

For the WESPAC Community,

Nada Khader, WESPAC Director

PS. Every tax-deductible donation you make goes directly to our critical work for social justice and peace.  Please like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter!  

www.wespac.org       Facebook: Explore WESPAC   Twitter: @WESPAC_NY

On September 20 people everywhere will walk out of their homes and workplaces to join young strikers in the streets. We know governments won’t deliver climate action and justice on their own, so we’re going on #ClimateStrike to show them what people power is capable of. #StrikeWithUs ClimateStrikeNYC.net 
 
WESPAC is organizing a solidarity contingent to participate in the historic youth organized NYC Climate Strike on Friday, September 20th with Greta Thunberg who has just arrived in NYC from Sweden in an emission free racing yacht as she plans to speak at the UN on the urgency of climate change and the need to take action.
 
WESPAC Board Member Delia Marx will be our point person for the WESPAC solidarity contingent. On Friday, September 20th, she and others will catch the 10:41am train from White Plains arriving at Grand Central at 11:28am to then take the subway down to Foley Square which is the starting point for the Climate Strike. Please email Delia if you would like to be part of our contingent at [email protected]. If you are coming down on a separate train line and would like to ride down to Foley Square together, please let Delia know so that we can have a designated meeting point at Grand Central.
 
In the US, youth and adults, institutional and grassroots organizations, climate-focused and social justice groups, are coming together as a unified front to demand the change we need to save our future. The youth have been leading the way and demanding bolder action, and now it’s time for everyone else to back them up. 

To accomplish this, a youth climate strike coalition has come together to collaborate on the campaign. The youth strike coalition, coordinated by Future Coalition, includes national youth-led groups such as Zero Hour, Earth Uprising, Fridays For Future USA, Sunrise, US Youth Climate Strike, and Extinction Rebellion Youth. 

The climate crisis is the largest threat of our time, and we’re counting on our collective power to demand immediate and decisive action. This is our opportunity to move beyond the traditional climate bubble and expand the table of who is involved in this movement. It is time to lift up the voices and stories of young people on the frontlines of this crisis and ensure we are creating an intergenerational and intersectional climate justice movement. To join the New York Climate Strike, please click here.

WESPAC has confirmed a coach bus for the Saturday, September 21st March in Washington, DC https://wethepeoplemarch.org/.  We are departing from the North White Plains train station (free parking all day located at 1 Haarlem Avenue in North White Plains, NY 10603) promptly at 6am and leaving DC to return the same day at 5pm.
 
Tickets can be purchased here on a first come first serve basis (49 seats only) at $50 per person round trip: Tickets for WESPAC Bus to DC
 
We have already received requests for discount tickets.  If you are not able to travel but would like to help a student, fixed income or unemployed attend, please make your contribution here: https://wespac.org/donate/ and write Sept. 21 bus to DC in the memo section.  You may also send in a check to WESPAC Foundation, 77 Tarrytown Rd, Suite 2W    White Plains, NY 10607.
 
See you in the streets!