Blogs :

Honoring the Summer Solstice through Intercultural Community Ceremony

At this year’s Summer Solstice, Nathalie “BioDame” Reynoso will lead us in ceremony as we open the space to check in on our milestones. How have our baby-steps added up? What have we mulled over? We’ll press pause and resume for health, happiness, equilibrium, and equity’s sake.

Join us for a healing evening at “Honoring the Summer Solstice through Intercultural Community Ceremony.” The space will facilitate us in honoring our paths and realigning ourselves with what is and is not serving us during this time in which we have the most daylight

..so if you can, allow yourself this time to simply be and charge yourself up with that Community Solstice Sun 
(. ❛ ᴗ ❛.)

•Mantra and Manifest Actualization•

•Sun Shrine•

•Mindful Movement•

•Group Meditation•

Free and Open to the Public

Tuesday June 19, 2018  Led by Local Ceremonialist

6:30pm  Nathalie “BioDame” Reynoso

WESPAC Foundation  of the Westchester-based

77 Tarrytown Rd,  Suite 2W grassroots organization

White Plains, NY 10607  Ceremony Cerebellum

On-site Parking Available  cer[email protected]

*Bring items you’d like to add to the shrine  ~ love ~

There is a life behind every statistic

‘There is a life behind

every statistic’

 

The real threat to Israel lies not in acts of

Palestinian violence, but in understanding

that those acts are a response to

occupation and oppression, to injustice

and dehumanisation. 

 

 

 

Sara Roy 

LRB Blog

June 4, 2018

 

Gaza appears sporadically as front-page news in the context of violence and terrorism, as it has with the murder on Friday, 1 June, of Razan Ashraf al-Najjar, a 21-year-old paramedic who was fatally shot by Israeli snipers as she was treating wounded protesters along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. After a day or two of attention, usually marked by the disproportionate deaths of Palestinians, Gaza recedes from view until the next assault. Israel is part of the story but all too often cast as responding to Hamas aggression, acting in self-defence. Without excusing Hamas for its misdeeds, Gaza’s misery, isolation and hopelessness are primarily a product of Israeli policy. The form of occupation may have changed since Israel’s ‘disengagement’ in 2005, but the fact of occupation has not. One result is the dehumanisation of the men, women and children who live in Gaza, the denial of their innocence and the resultant loss of their rights.

 

I spoke to a friend in Gaza after Israel killed 60 Palestinians on 14 May. He was uncharacteristically subdued, almost inaudible. There were many silences, unusual for our conversations; some of them seemed interminable but I spoke only when spoken to. I had many questions and most remained unasked. The only time my friend became animate was when he told stories about some of the people who had been killed, people he either distantly knew or who were close friends. ‘There is a life behind every statistic,’ he said. He didn’t want to talk about politics; he only spoke about people.

 

One of the people killed on 14 May was the father of a boy whose birthday it was. Another was a 14-year-old boy, whose mother had long suffered with infertility and finally became pregnant with him after nine years of trying. The birth of their son seemed miraculous to his parents. My friend did not say so directly, and I did not ask, but he implied and I inferred that the boy was their only child. ‘He was shot in the head and died instantly. The father collapsed on him. Can you imagine these parents now, having lost their precious boy?’

 

I cannot imagine enduring the loss of a child, especially in such a monstrous way (because he wasn’t Jewish). But the story also speaks to my parent’s story. My mother had a miscarriage in the ghettos of Poland (because she was Jewish) and spent years after the Holocaust trying to get pregnant. My parents always told me that they survived in order to have me.

 

Yet for many Israelis there are ‘no innocents in Gaza’, as the defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said in response to the Great March of Return. His colleague Eli Hazan, a spokesman for Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said that all 30,000 men, women and children who gathered at the Gaza border to protest (the overwhelming majority, non-violently) ‘are legitimate targets’. For too many Israelis and Jews, there are no fathers or mothers or children in Gaza; no homes or nursery schools or playgrounds; no hospitals, museums or parks; no restaurants or hotels. Rather, Gaza is where the grass grows wild and must be ‘mown’from time to time, as some Israeli analysts have put it.

 

How is the rest of the world to think about Gaza, about Palestinians? I ask because the deliberate ruination of Palestine – seen most painfully in Gaza – has been well documented. Yet Israel’s actions have been met, more often than not, with serene indifference and lack of remorse, reflecting, in the historian Gabriel Kolko’s words, the ‘absence of a greater sense of abhorrence’ – or, I would say after 14 May, with little if any abhorrence at all. One need only look at the language used in the American media to describe Palestinians and their deaths. Israeli propaganda dehumanising Palestinians has been enormously successful.

 

Why are so many among us unmoved by the contamination of a water supply that will soon lead to life-threatening epidemics among a population of nearly two million people; by the shattering of a once functioning economy through closure and blockade, depriving at least 45 per cent of the labour force (and more than 60 per cent of young workers) of the right to work – forcing most of them into dependence on food handouts and desperate young women into prostitution? The deprivation is deliberate. What purpose does Gaza’s suffering serve?

 

The real threat to Israel lies not in acts of Palestinian violence, but in understanding that those acts are a response to occupation and oppression, to injustice and dehumanisation. As an Israeli friend of mine once said, the threat to Israel lies ‘in making Palestinians intimate, in seeing the world through their eyes’. Why are we so afraid of humanising Palestinians?

 

The decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, which was driven by Israel and its supporters, should be understood as an attempt to maintain and enforce what Israel sees as its historical right to deny rights to Palestinians. The right to demand rights, which is, fundamentally, what the Palestinians at the Gaza border were claiming, is more threatening than any particular right because it speaks to the agency that makes Palestinians present and irreducible, which Israel has worked so long to regulate and annul. It is the inability to unthink rightlessness among Palestinians that must be maintained as a form of control. The ascription of rightlessness to the other is – and must remain – uncontestable, a clearly established rule that is not restrained by justice. Declaring Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital not only purges Palestinians from the political equation and disendows them of any claims based on justice, but also ensures their continued absence in Israeli eyes.

 

In the immediate aftermath of 14 May, with 117 dead (the number has since risen to 123) and more than 13,000 injured, my friend in Gaza told me that shopkeepers went online to invite people to take whatever goods they wanted for free. Banks announced that they would forgive certain loans.

 

Gaza will not disappear. It will not ‘sink into the sea’, as the late Yitzhak Rabin once wished it would. Gaza is a human rights catastrophe and an ecologic disaster. ‘In a few years,’ Thomas Friedman wrote recently in the New York Times, ‘the next protest from Gaza will not be organised by Hamas, but by mothers because typhoid and cholera will have spread through the fetid water and Gazans will all have had to stop drinking it.’

 

Will Gaza’s mothers then be shot dead for protesting, or will they simply be allowed to die, together with their children, from typhoid and cholera? Or will their protests be heard? The answer will determine our humanity, not theirs.

 

 

Sara M. Roy is an American political economist and scholar. She is a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. (Wikipedia)

 

 

Article source: 

https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2018/06/04/sara-roy/there-is-a-life-behind-every-statistic/ 

© LRB Limited 2018 

Mourning Palestinian Lives Lost in the Great March of Return

Sunday, May 20th at 7:30pm at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church 
82 Prospect Street, White Plains, NY 10606

Pastor Dr. Gawain de Leeuw is kindly opening up the doors of his church for those of us who would like to take the time to grieve collectively for the dozens of Palestinian lives lost in the Great March of Return.  He will lead us in evening prayers and ancient hymns in his tradition, and we will light candles, read the names and ages of the Palestinians who have lost their lives and share what we know of their lived experience and families.  For those who are observing fasting this month of Ramadan, we invite folks to bring a dish to share afterwards for a community iftar (breaking of the fast).  Please RSVP to Nada at [email protected] if you plan to attend.

City of White Plains Honors WESPAC for 44 Years of Progressive Social Change

Social Forum this Sunday!

Youth Action Training

Are you a high school student in Westchester who cares about the problems in society and is into social justice, advocacy and activism?  Are you leader?  Want to become one? 

Do you just want to make the world a little better?

 

Then join us at the upcoming Westchester County Youth Councils’ 2018 Youth Action Training!

When:  Saturday, April 14th, 2018, 9-5pm

Where: White Plains library in White Plains, Rooms A, B and the Gallery 

 

Who: Any high school student in Westchester– we welcome kids from all communities, backgrounds, political affiliations, etc.  

Why:  To be a part of learning/teaching about a variety of issues affecting youth (and what we can do about them) at this unique, youth-led conference.  Get 8 hours of community service while meeting kids from all over Westchester.  Attend workshops on student movements, getting involved in local government, public speaking, immigration myths and facts, extremist groups, toxic masculinity!
Fun icebreakers! 

Totally free, as always. Meals provided.  Transportation from Yonkers, Mt Vernon, Peekskill/Ossining– or just ask!  If you want to be here, we want you here!

You can apply online HERE! 

Email or call Marisa at (917) 428-0250 for more info.  Texting is fine! 

Water Shortages could affect 5 Billion People by 2050

  1. Water shortages could affect 5bn people by 2050, UN report warns

Conflict and civilisational threats likely unless action is taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands and reservoirs

The comprehensive annual study warns of conflict and civilisational threats unless actions are taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands and reservoirs.

The World Water Development Report – released in drought-hit Brasília – says positive change is possible, particularly in the key agricultural sector, but only if there is a move towards nature-based solutions that rely more on soil and trees than steel and concrete.

“For too long, the world has turned first to human-built, or ‘grey’, infrastructure to improve water management. In doing so, it has often brushed aside traditional and indigenous knowledge that embraces greener approaches,” says Gilbert Houngbo, the chair of UN Water, in the preface of the 100-page assessment. “In the face of accelerated consumption, increasing environmental degradation and the multi-faceted impacts of climate change, we clearly need new ways of manage competing demands on our freshwater resources.”

Humans use about 4,600 cubic km of water every year, of which 70% goes to agriculture, 20% to industry and 10% to households, says the report, which was launched at the start of the triennial World Water Forum. Global demand has increased sixfold over the past 100 years and continues to grow at the rate of 1% each year.

This is already creating strains that will grow by 2050, when the world population is forecast to reach between 9.4 billion and 10.2 billion (up from 7.7 billion today), with two in every three people living in cities.

Demand for water is projected to rise fastest in developing countries. Meanwhile, climate change will put an added stress on supplies because it will make wet regions wetter and dry regions drier.

Drought and soil degradation are already the biggest risk of natural disaster, say the authors, and this trend is likely to worsen. “Droughts are arguably the greatest single threat from climate change,” it notes. The challenge has been most apparent this year in Cape Town, where residents face severe restrictions as the result of a once-in-384-year drought. In Brasília, the host of the forum, close to 2m people have their taps turned off once in every five days due to a unusually protracted dry period.

By 2050, the report predicts, between 4.8 billion and 5.7 billion people will live in areas that are water-scarce for at least one month each year, up from 3.6 billion today, while the number of people at risk of floods will increase to 1.6 billion, from 1.2 billion.

In drought belts encompassing Mexico, western South America, southern Europe, China, Australia and South Africa, rainfall is likely to decline. The shortage cannot be offset by groundwater supplies, a third of which are already in distress. Nor is the construction of more dams and reservoirs likely to be a solution, because such options are limited by silting, runoff and the fact that most cost-effective and viable sites in developed countries have been identified.

Water quality is also deteriorating. Since the 1990s, pollution has worsened in almost every river in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and it is expected to deteriorate further in the coming two decades, mainly due to agriculture runoffs of fertiliser and other agrochemicals that load freshwater supplies with nutrients that lead to the growth of pathogens and choking algae blooms. Industry and cities are also a significant problem. About 80% of industrial and municipal wastewater is discharged without treatment.

Crucially, the report emphasises a shift away from watershed management towards a wider geographic approach that takes in land use in distant areas, particularly forests. Although farmers have long seen trees as a drain on water supplies, the authors recognise more recent studies that show vegetation helps to recycle and distribute water. This was apparent in the São Paulo drought of 2014-15, which the city’s water authorities and scientists have linked to Amazon deforestation.

The key for change will be agriculture, the biggest source of water consumption and pollution. The report calls for “conservation agriculture”, which would make greater use of rainwater rather than irrigation and regularise crop rotation to maintain soil cover. This would also be crucial to reverse erosion and degradation, which currently affects a third of the planet’s land, a different UN study found last year.

Perhaps the most positive message of the report is that the potential savings of such practices exceed the projected increase in global demand for water, which would ease the dangers of conflict and provide better livelihoods for family farmers and poverty reduction.

Nature-based solutions can be personal – such as dry toilets – or broad landscape-level shifts in agricultural practices. The report contains several positive case studies that show how environments and supplies can improve as a result of policy changes. In Rajasthan, more than 1,000 drought-stricken villages were supported by small-scale water harvesting structures, while a shift back towards traditional soil preservation practices in the Zarqa basin in Jordan are credited with a recovery of water quality in local springs.

The authors stress the goal is not to replace all grey infrastructure, because there are situations where there is no other choice, for example in building reservoirs to supply cities with water. But they urge greater take-up of green solutions, which are often more cost-effective as well as sustainable. They also encourage more use of “green bonds” (a form of financing that aims to reward long-term sustainable investments) and more payments for ecosystem services (cash for communities that conserve forests, rivers and wetlands that have a wider benefit to the the environment and society).

Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of Unesco, which commissioned the report, noted two-thirds of the world’s forests and wetlands have been lost since the turn of the 20th century – a trend that needs to be addressed.

“We all know that water scarcity can lead to civil unrest, mass migration and even to conflict within and between countries,” she said. “Ensuring the sustainable use of the planet’s resources is vital for ensuring long-term peace and prosperity.”

The World Water Forum is the biggest single gathering of policymakers, businesses and NGOs involved in water management. It is being held in the southern hemisphere for the first time, and is expected to draw 40,000 participants.

Among them are indigenous and other grassroots activists who believe the event is too close to government, agriculture and business. They are staging an alternative forum in Brasília that puts greater emphasis on community management of water as a free public resource.”

40 Percent of Countries with Largest Shale Energy Resources Face Water Stress 
Dozens of countries are deciding whether or not to develop their shale gas and tight oil resources, as shale gas could boost recoverable natural gas resources by 47 percent, cut greenhouse gas emissions compared to coal, create new revenue and jobs, and raise national energy supplies. However, extracting natural gas and tight oil from shale poses water risk. We analyzed water stress levels in the 20 countries with the largest shale gas and tight oil resources, and found that 40 percent face high water stress or arid conditions.

Protecting Water Security, Promoting Energy Security 
This infographic, based on the related report’s data, depicts the following key findings:

  • 38 percent of the world’s shale resources face high to extremely high water stress or arid conditions.

  • 386 million people live on land above shale plays—increased competition for water and public concern over hydraulic fracturing is more likely in densely populated areas.

  • In China, 61 percent of shale resources face high water stress or arid conditions.

  • In Argentina, 72 percent of shale resources face low to medium water stress.

  • In the United Kingdom, 34 percent of shale plays face high water stress or arid conditions.

About Tomiko Morimoto, one of WESPAC’s three honorees this year

We will be featuring information about each of WESPAC’s honorees in the coming days for folks who are taking out congratulatory ads:

Taken from Voice of America (link posted below)

Hiroshima Survivor Recalls Day Atomic Bomb Was Dropped

On August 5, 1945, in Washington and August 6, in Japan, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was the first of 2 U.S. nuclear attacks on Japan that hastened the end of World War II and set the stage for the post-war nuclear arms race.

In 1945, Tomiko Morimoto was a 13-year-old schoolgirl. She recalls feeling no particular fear when she and her classmates heard the lone American B-29 bomber droning through the cloudless skies above Hiroshima. Her city had never been bombed, and she assumed the plane was simply on a reconnaissance mission, like the others she had seen.

Then she saw the flash. “You know how you see the bright sun that’s going down on a very hot day? Bright red — orange red. That’s what it was like,” she recalls. “After we heard a big noise like a ‘BOONG!’ ‘BOONG!’ Like that. That was the sound.”

After the sound, she recalls, “everything started falling down; all the buildings started flying around all over the place. Then something wet started coming down, like rain. I guess that’s what they call black rain. In my child’s mind, I thought it was oil. I thought the Americans were going to burn us to death. And we kept running. And fire was coming out right behind us, you know.”

Adults at the school led Tomiko and her classmates across the Motoyasu River to a plateau on the outskirts of Hiroshima, and told them to wait for family members to come get them. All night long, they watched their city burning below. The next morning, no parents had come, and the children were released to find their way home on their own. For Ms. Morimoto, that meant trying to find a bridge into the city that had not been destroyed.

She remembers seeing “dead people all over. All over! Particularly, I can remember… I saw a Japanese soldier that was still mounted right on his horse — just dead! Also that a streetcar had stopped just at that moment [of the bomb] and the people still standing, dead.”

Finally, Ms. Morimoto says she found a bridge she and her classmates could cross safely – a railroad bridge. She recalls looking down through the spaces between the railroad ties. Normally, one would see the river flowing there underneath. But she says, instead she saw “a sea of dead people. There was not one space for the water, just people lying there and dead.”

Survivors she encountered begged for water. “Mainly, I just wanted to find my people. Finally — finally! — I reached home and of course my home was gone and I couldn’t find anybody.”

The only person who recognized Ms. Morimoto was a family hired man, who told her her grandparents had taken refuge with some neighbors in a certain nearby cave.

“And I found my grandmother and grandfather among them. Of course my grandfather was terribly hurt,” she says. “He had glass lodged all over his back, bleeding. My grandmother, she wasn’t hurt but she couldn’t stand up from shock. My mother, I didn’t find her for a week or so, and she was burned underneath a building. I hoped she died instantly.”

Tomiko Morimoto now lives in rural, upstate New York. She says surviving the bombing of Hiroshima has made her appreciate even the smallest things. “I go out the first thing in the morning and look at the sky and the sun and I am very appreciative of everything I have right now. You don’t always have that,” she says. “I carry that [sad] emotion, yes, and when I talk about it, it comes back. And I just take my hand and I erase the picture from in my mind. And that’s how I cope with it.”

But she also lives with fear. “I’m always afraid as more countries have the atomic bomb. I fear the end of the world,” she says. “I would say never let there be another bombing like that. We all have to work towards peace. That’s the only way I can summarize it.”

To read the full article, please go to: https://www.voanews.com/a/a-13-2005-08-05-voa38-67539217/285768.html

Westchester Social Justice Forum 2018!

For all details please visit: https://www.westchestersocialforum.org/

Minutes of March 2018 WESPAC Food Justice Committee Meeting

A huge thank you to Tracy for submitting these minutes:

Minutes Food Justice Meeting WESPAC March 13, 2018

 

 In attendance: Nada, Angel, Christina, Tracy, Chloe, Delia, Natalie, Lydia, Louise and Brianne. 

— Angel began giving the latest information about the struggles of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their allies to get Wendy’s to sign on to the Fair Food Program like all of its fast-food competitors have done. Today, Thursday, March 15, marks day 5 of a 5-day fast happening now in NYC led by the Coalition of Immokolee Workers to bring attention to Wendy’s refusal to sign on to the agreement which would ensure safe and clean working conditions for the farmworkers and a method to report sexual abuse. Instead, Wendy’s has chosen to exploit farmworkers in Mexico for their tomatoes instead of signing on. Join them if you can today at the Dag Hammarkjold Plaza, 245 East 47th Street at 5:00 pm for the concluding rally.

— Nada is exploring ways to make a green stretch of land that exists at Exit 5 of highway 287 into a White Plains/Greenburgh food forest with fruit and nut trees and other bee-friendly plantings. She is investigating with the NY Dept of Transportation and it was suggested to also contact Westchester Community College’s Native Plants department who has done a past program on roadside regeneration.

— Tracy and Bri shared information about a new venture that WESPAC is taking a lead role in – The Mobile Community Café Initiative. Under the umbrella of the Westchester Food Justice Collective, Nourish Food Truck will be hitting the road this summer offering up freshly prepared, healthy meals to low-income, food-insecure families. Making stops at community centers, senior centers and shelters in White Plains and Greenburg, the truck is on a mission to serve nutritious plant-based meals at no cost to under-served communities.

Unlike mobile food pantries, the truck is like a café on wheels that supports local farmers, functions as a platform for rising young chefs, educates the public, and reduces food waste. The truck’s owner, Brianne Brathwaite will be the main chef. WESPAC, the lead organization in the Collective, sees the non-profit work of the mobile community cafe to be a transformative shift toward more equitable communities where there is less hunger and greater social justice. We have submitted two grant proposals seeking start-up funding for this exciting initiative. 

Calling volunteers: we need help cleaning up the commercial kitchen at the Memorial United Methodist Church, which will function as the prep kitchen and storage kitchen for the food truck. Look for an email announcement coming soon for a date in late March.

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