Movement Building :

Occupy may day

WESPAC connects organizations, people and issues across all divisions, recognizing that we cannot win a better world if we stay divided. WESPAC promotes movement building through regular potlucks that bring people together to share food, knowledge and build relationships. WESPAC has developed a Speakers Bureau that can provide effective speakers on a variety of current social justice issues. WESPAC is an active member of a number of local coalitions including: the Hudson Valley Fair Economy Coalition, the Hudson Valley Community Coalition and the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform.

Opportunity to help WESPAC Investment Fund Grow

Dear Friends and Members of WESPAC,

 
I write to tell you of an extraordinary opportunity to help WESPAC. As many of you know, WESPAC has been exploring different options for improving our financial independence so we can assure the continuation and expansion of our own programming, and support for our community partners, into the future. 
 
From now through the end of this year, you can help WESPAC grow its investment fund beyond the value of your own gift. A very generous supporter has agreed to match any gift to WESPAC’s investment fund of cash, stock, mutual funds or bonds up to a total of $5,000 by December 31, 2018.  The value of a gift of stock to WESPAC is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by the law (please consult your tax advisor), and there may be other benefits as well including possible capital gains tax savings that your advisor can confirm with you.  This contribution to WESPAC offers you the opportunity to release stocks that are not aligned with our social justice values so that WESPAC can sell them and re-invest in sustainable impact investing.
 
One simple way to make a charitable gift of securities is to direct a transfer from your IRA to WESPAC. You can count a transfer to a charity toward your required minimum withdrawal. There are other options as well. If you are interested in making such a gift but unsure how to proceed, please contact the WESPAC office at [email protected] or by calling 914.449.6514 and we can connect you with our investment advisor. 
 
Thank you for considering this unique opportunity to help WESPAC. Only by building our financial sustainability now can we guarantee support for the social justice struggles that lie ahead. 
 
For the WESPAC Board of Directors,
 
Natalie Kabasakalian

Statement of Solidarity on the Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Statement of Solidarity on the Anniversary of Kristallnacht

by Howard Horowitz, member of the WESPAC Foundation Board

Tonight, we will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Great Pogrom, which the Nazis euphemistically dubbed ‘the Night of Crystal’ – Kristallnacht.  This anniversary comes at a moment in history when anti-Semitism is still prevalent, and we are still plagued by evil and hatred (Rabbi Josh Weinberg).

At WESPAC Foundation we remember Kristallnacht and the Holocaust with a message of “solidarity” with all those struggling for justice in these dark times.  Solidarity is uplifting, meaningful and a call to action.  In our thinking about this, let me share with you an excerpt from a post by Robert Herbst of Larchmont, a civil rights lawyer, a peace and justice activist and who identifies as Jewish:

“In the wake of Pittsburgh, there is no Jewish future in turning inward, either physically, spiritually, or politically, here in the United States, or in the Middle East. The insecurities of the nation and world we have made and live in since the Second World War are widely shared by all except those who have accumulated the money and power to escape them. Rather than locking ourselves away, it is to the Others we must turn – white, black and brown, Christian and Muslim, poor, working and middle class – if we are to have any hope of Tikkun Olam.”

There is an urgent and immediate need for a statement of solidarity.  Echoing Charlottesville, there are those among us already muddying the waters claiming “there are bad guys on all sides—left and right.”  We reject anti-Semitism in all its forms and expressions wherever and by whomever it is expressed.  What happened at Tree of Life is Trump-supported, right wing white nationalism, plain and simple.  It has nothing to do with left or anyone else and certainly not anywhere in the struggle for justice in Palestine.

Our struggles are bound up with the many communities facing violence and oppression during these dark times, and we call your attention to just a few of the statements of solidarity that are so needed as we commemorate Kristallnacht.

Out of Our Silos: To Defeat Anti-Semitism, Jews Must Unite With Others Targeted by White Supremacy (Hannah Sassaman, In These Times)

Amy Goodman Interviews Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari of Kol Tzedek synagogue

Palestine Legal Statement on Tree-of-Life-Synagogue

Jewish Voice for Peace:  Together We Heal, United We Fight

Farming While Black

Farming While Black: Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty 

An Evening with Amani Olugbala and Soul Fire Farm
Wednesday, November 28th at 7pm at WESPAC
77 Tarrytown Road, Suite 2W
White Plains, NY 10607

 

“Stewarding our own land, growing our own food, educating our own youth, participating in our own healthcare and justice systems, this is the source of real power and dignity,” writes Leah Penniman, co-founder of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY.  Her brand new book, “Farming While Black” is the centerpiece for a special gathering at WESPAC.
 
Come hear Amani Olugbala, Assistant Director of Programs at Soul Fire Farm, tell how our most cherished sustainable farming practices – from organic agriculture to the farm cooperative and the CSA – have roots in African wisdom.  She is a gifted storyteller and food justice advocate with over 15 years of experience in youth education and community outreach and a vital part of Soul Fire Farm.

Soul Fire Farm is part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-indigenous farming practices, and end food apartheid. 
 
Books will be available for sale.  This event is free and open to the public.  Plenty of free parking on site.  Contributions to support this work will be gratefully accepted.

Palestine Embroidery Workshop

This workshop will focus on the preservation of the indigenous, endangered art of Palestinian embroidery. The workshop is centered on Wafa Ghnaim’s book, Tatreez & Tea: Embroidery and Storytelling in the Palestinian Diaspora, which preserves the craft of embroidery as well as the art of storytelling that is encapsulated in each traditional Palestinian motif. This workshop is open to all genders and ages but reserved for the first 15 people who register and pay. No refunds are possible. Wafa will give a public presentation in the same location following the embroidery workshop from 7pm to 8pm that is free and open to the public.  Register for the workshop here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tatreez-and-tea-palestine-embroidery-workshop-tickets-49793559878 

For generations, Palestinian women have gathered together with their daughters to work collectively on embroidery projects, bonding with one another over a cup of tea. Over time, and after the exodus of Palestinians from Palestine in 1948, embroidery has become an endangered art that has been subjected to decades of cultural appropriation. But embroidery represents more than just a village craft of old Palestine — it became the primary form of communication for Palestinian women who used needlework as a way to express their opinions, share their stories, and document their protest of occupation, war and violence.

To learn more about the project, please visit www.tatreezandtea.com.

Art Journaling at WESPAC

Susan Sheppard’s class at WESPAC has begun!
Quote from Roger: “I want to say: Today’s class was truly amazing, fun, healing, relaxing and a lot of other positive things!
I absolutely loved this and really suggest this to anyone that can make it. Susan was incredible! Thank you so much for guiding us today.”
It is not too late to sign up!  
Art Journaling Class at WESPAC every Wednesday with Susan Sheppard alternating start time 6pm or noon.  Next Wednesday, July 25th, the class starts at noon.  Please contact Susan with all questions and to register  [email protected]optonline.net .  $20 per class towards WESPAC – no one turned away:

From Susan: An art journal is a “visual diary.”  In addition to (or maybe in place of ) words, the journal keeper uses visual images to portray his/her thoughts and feelings.  During these very stressful times an art journal can serve as a little haven in a world of madness.
 
My vision of this class is having the participants create an art journal over a series of workshops with or without the guidance of prompts combined with a variety of art techniques.   For example, for the first class I would like to prepare the first few pages for future work and creating a self-portrait using collage.  The prompt would be “The Me Nobody Knows.”  The class would occur over several weeks depending on interest.   Each participant would have to provide a “journal”  (water color pad, composition book, or a hard cover book) , magazines and images that appeal to them, and writing tools of their choice.  I would provide other tools and materials. 
 
Some techniques are collage, printing, stenciling, drawing, painting, Zentangle, etc.  The prompts can be whole class , personal to the participants, or pulled from a jar.

Racial Impact of Marijuana Policing in Westchester County

Racial Impact of Marijuana Policing in Westchester County

Community Forum on the Racial Impact of Marijuana Policing
in Westchester County
Thursday, July 26th at 7pm
White Plains Library Auditorium
100 Martine Avenue in White Plains, NY 10601

In a state where racially biased policing is the norm, Westchester County stands out as one of the worst offenders.

Between 2013 and 2017, Black and Latino people were vastly overrepresented among those arrested for marijuana possession relative to their presence in Westchester’s population–despite data showing similar rates of use across populations. While only 14 percent of the County’s residents are Black, Black people comprised over half (52 percent) of those arrested for marijuana possession. Latinx people have also been disproportionately impacted, comprising just 17% of residents, but 34% of arrestees.

This massive increase of Westchester residents involved with the criminal justice system has had significant reverberations. A marijuana arrest creates a permanent criminal record that can easily be found by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks. 

This public discussion will examine the long-term costs and consequences of unequal enforcement of marijuana prohibition in Westchester, solutions to address the harms caused to communities, and efforts to legalize marijuana in New York State while creating a diverse and inclusive industry.

Sponsored by: Drug Policy Alliance, WESPAC Foundation, Westchester Coalition for Police Reform, NYCLU, VOCAL-NY, and more

RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2128989074044735/

Is Westchester Ready for Police Accountability

Is Westchester Ready for Police Accountability?

Saturday, June 30th at 5pm (refreshments starting at 4:30pm)
The Rev. Shelton Doles Community Center Theater
250 South Sixth Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10550

Join Bridge to Africa 360, African Family Unity Forum and the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform for a community conversation about the value of civilian oversight of law enforcement as well as an update on the status of the Mount Vernon Civilian Review Board and the Right to Know Act that is gaining momentum around New York State.

Panelists include:

  • Mount Vernon City Council member Delia Farquharson
  • Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Shawn Harris (invited)
  • Panel moderator is Mount Vernon CCRB Steering Cte member Geoff Munroe

This event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the Mount Vernon Recreation Department.

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 ~

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.

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.

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