Ward 19 Democratic Committee hosting series
The Boston Ward 19 Democratic Committee is hosting a series of public presentations by local non-profit leaders on current community issues. These presentations will be held as part of our monthly Ward 19 Committee meetings. We invite the public to attend and participate.
On January 7, 2019, the topic will be Affordable Housing in our Neighborhood. This session will cover the role of local Community Development Corporations (CDC’s) in the ongoing affordable housing crisis. Confirmed speakers include Robert Torres, Director of Community Engagement of Urban Edge, Richard Thal, Executive Director or Teronda Ellis, Director of Real Estate of Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Co., Jeanne Dubois, Interim Director of Southwest Boston Community Development Co. and Noah Sawyer, Senior Project Manager of The Community Builders.
On March 4, 2019, the topic will be Voter Modernization and Transparency. At a time when the integrity of elections is being compromised by voter suppression, gerrymandering and foreign interference, this session will cover ranked choice voting and other potential voting and election reforms. Despite the passage of Automatic Voter Registration in the 2018 Legislative session, the Commonwealth still lags behind other states on election modernization and public transparency. Confirmed speakers are Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts and Martha Karchere, Speaker for Voter Choice Massachusetts – both J.P. residents.
The January and March presentations will be held 7:30-8:15 pm at the Farnsworth House Community Room, 90 South Street, J.P. The full Ward 19 Committee meeting is open to the public and starts at 7 pm.
Additional sessions are planned in April and May, 2019. The tentative topic for the April 1, 2019 meeting is Walkable, Bike-able, Livable Streets. The tentative topic for May 6, 2019 is Immigration with a focus on Legislative Initiatives including Safe Communities, driver’s licenses, and wage theft. Updated information on topics, speakers and locations will be posted on the Ward 19 website: https://bostonward19dems.org
Please join us!
Esther Kaplan, Member
Ward 19 Democratic Committee
Building bridges not walls
I recently participated in the School of the Americas Watch Border Encounter in Nogales, Arizona, USA and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. I did this because I’m very concerned about the struggle and safety of many people who have suffered greatly from violence and poverty in Mexico and Central America. The large exodus from Honduras and El Salvador has made it clear that living there has become deadly and dangerous because of political repression, corruption, disappearances, murders, gangs, and severe poverty.
During the Encounter I learned how US foreign policy, which has long been based on racism, greed, and exploitation, has caused the massive migration north of many people. Legal and illegal sales of arms from the US to Mexico provide plenty of guns and assault weapons. The continuing education of military from Latin America at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia and other US military bases in techniques of assassination, counter-insurgency, and torture has led to a long history of violence by its graduates who enjoy great impunity. Closing the School of the Americas would greatly help stop the violence.
I attended a rally at the Milkor Manufacturing plant in Tucson, which sells weapons to Mexico, a vigil at the Eloy for-profit detention center housing thousands of migrants, a concert, and a funeral procession with large puppets. I went to workshops, which included research on stopping the gun trade, legislative advocacy for a just foreign policy, and conversations with the families of the disappeared and murdered.
I saw how the US border is becoming more militarized as the US army installed barbed wire and a second fence along the border to create a restricted space. I learned how the US Border Control has been responsible for many deaths in the Sonoran Desert. Their “chase and scatter” techniques, often using helicopters, have caused migrants to get lost and die. The Border Patrol has also destroyed water and food left for the migrants by humanitarian aid workers. Human remains found in the desert often showed lack of water as a cause of death. I also heard the cries of women who had lost loved ones. My ears still ring from a litany sung to remember over a hundred people found dead in the border area last year.
My time at the border was one of many emotions. I was angered at the policies of my own government. I felt deep sorrow for those who have suffered and been killed. However I also experienced much hope in solidarity with the many other activists, young and old, working to speak truth to power. Many shelters have been set up on both sides of the border to help refugees. I was moved by the way residents of the border area help with food, water, and medical attention. Educating ourselves about what is happening is critical. I cannot claim to be ignorant of the many human rights violations in Latin America and on the border and I feel compelled to work to stop the violence. I would like to see our border as a bridge that connects people, rather than a wall that excludes them. I believe that together we can do this.
What must they think?
If there is in fact intelligent life out there in space and they are observing the coming and goings of us human beings, what must they think of a country such as ours, the United States of America, especially at this time of year. Do they wonder how an economy can hinge so much on a religious holiday called Christmas, especially in a country that takes pride in its constitutional provision separating church from state? A holiday that has become more of a pagan celebration of consumerism where citizens are encourage to buy luxury items such as cars, diamonds, and exotic perfumes. A holiday that celebrates the birth of a child who, it is written, is the son of God and who would preach in his short life the importance of kindness, compassion, charity, and truth, who would promote, as some other religions do, prayer and contemplation to satisfy the soul … and not buying STUFF because its citizens need to assuage some anticipated guilt feeling if they don’t go along with the program?
What would they think of a country that elected the most selfish, greedy, materialistic group of shallow and superficial individuals available to govern, one that ignores the strides made by the previous administration to promote justice and equality within its own borders and to try to put the brakes on further pollution?
Of course, the U.S.A. is not the only country with such contradictions and character issues, but it does make you wonder if extra-terrestrials would even be interested in contacting us earthlings. They would instinctively know from observation that there’s truth in the adage, with friends like you, who needs enemies?
Michel L. Spitzer
Jamaica Plain resident