Friday, February 24, 2012

Is There Anyone Out There? ('Cuz it's getting harder and harder to breathe. . .)

I was just rifling through my old posts and I haven't had any comments for the last few posts! It's difficult to write this when I feel no one is reading it!  Oh well, I'll write it anyway.

The winds have been blowing here in Sacramento! (I almost titled this post "The Answer, My Friend, is Blowing in the Wind.")  Other than the wind, the weather has been beautiful! It reached 70 degrees yesterday, which sort of makes me nervous for the summer.  It has been the lowest rainfall count in years, and the farmers are hoping for rain all March to save their crops.  Rain is a mixed blessing- good for crops; bad for people.  Because I work outside, I'll get soaked, but all the guests I work with have an extremely tough life when it is raining.  In time we shall see!

All the families are gone, but Tessa is out of town, so our community still isn't a community :(  But it will be soon!

A few stories I heard this week:
-Jon wants badly to go home to Seattle, but seems to be stopped at every financial obstacle. 
-Larry is getting into housing soon. He has his bags packed at the shelter and is just waiting for the call!
-Mark the blue hat (a part-time worker) is getting his book of poems published!
-Alfredo still hasn't been released from jail, and Phoenix is getting more and more scared every time I see her.
-Wayne was so proud of himself today when he passed up the sweets in the breakfast line! His diabetes thanks him!

Highlight of the week:
A senior photography major at Sacramento State University chose to do his senior project on the people at Loaves and Fishes.  All week he has been taking portraits of the children and their families, the women, and the men.  He will compile these pictures into an exhibit at his school, but first he will give everybody a copy of their picture!  Everyone is so excited to have a picture of themselves!

Friday, February 17, 2012

You are Loved!

One of my favorite vocalists is Josh Groban, and it doesn't hurt that he's easy on the eyes!  He has a song titled "You are Loved" which is a small anthem in my life.  When I left for JVC, my mom's best friend, Mary O'Connor, gave me a Celtic heart necklace to remind me I am loved.  I wear it most days to work (the exceptions being when I wake up with 10 minutes to get ready) and it has gotten a bit tarnished already.  Whenever I wear it, I hum that song in my head.

Tuesday was Valentine's Day, and as Cher and many others have sang, "Love was in the Air."  (The lyric is actually "Love is in the air" but I had to have verb agreement.) Nothing awful happened at the park and everybody was happy.  It was especially windy, but that only reminded me of home! 

The week at the park has been relatively uneventful, as has life at the casa.  Same old, same old!  Parents have invaded the house- Tess's mom came in last night, Laura's parents came in this morning, and Kathleen's parents and siblings will be here in a few minutes! Everyone (except for Krystal and I) will be gone this weekend, and we have the house to ourselves! Chick flicks and hot cocoa- here we come!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Give me one reason to stay here. . .

Why am I here? Here's a reason:

A letter of condemnation was written to Sacramento mayor, Kevin Johnson, by a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights.  Catarina de Albuquerque visited Sacramento in 2011 and found it appalling that the city targets the homeless specifically by denying access to clean water and public restrooms.  She called this treatment “cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment” under international law, comparing the homeless plight in Sacramento to that of a second world country.

That's right- Sacramento is violating human rights.  The city shuts of water fountains, locks park and other local bathrooms, and tickets the homeless for public urination/defecation and illegal camping.  SafeGround, the illegal tent city, has offered to pay for a portable bathroom if they were allowed to legally camp in a plot of land.  The city denies them. 

Now the U.N. has stepped in, and the mayor "understands the frustration" and the homelessness problem and it "has kept him awake most nights."  He went on to say, "No one is more frustrated than me by the lack of progress in fully addressing our homelessness challenges." 

Really? Well this is an election year. . .

Read for yourself-
Here's the Letter
Here is the best press release
Here's a general follow-up with links to other press
Here is a Huffington Post article

SafeGround held a press conference on this letter and little press coverage was given to this issue.  Our major newspaper had a press clipping. This issue was not on the agenda to discuss in the city council meeting. 

Our mayor loses sleep because of this issue, but is doing nothing to resolve it. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Here It Goes Again. . .

This song ("Here It Goes Again", by OK Go) just happened to start playing when I started writing this post.  And it couldn't be more perfect. 

I was gone on a Re-Orientation retreat for the JVC in the past week.  I was back at the same camp in Aptos, CA, examining my life, again.  This time, six months later, I knew my casa-mates better, and a few other JVs, too.  It was a time to rededicate ourselves to the four tenants, particularly Social Justice.  (In case you don't remember, the four tenants that I have dedicated my life to are Community, Social Justice, Simple Living, and Spirituality.) 

There were lots of talks on the Pastoral Circle and the Ignatian method of discernment.  (St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Jesuits and who my casa is named after!) We examined our experiences, social analysis, theological reflections, discernment, and action.  We had fantastic prayers held by different casas in the Southwest region, a wonderful homily given by another Sacramento JV, and different activities every night. 

And now I'm back in Sacramento, at my job, in my casa.  I have six months left.  Six months.  Six months to deepen my relationships with my community members, co-workers, friends, and guests.  Six months to live in this fantastic house, live off of $100 a month, not pay any bills, receive a food box whenever I ask, and be generally protected by almost everyone I meet.  I have one particularly protective guest, James, that asks me every day if I have a problem with anyone at the park.  If I do, he'll take care of it.  Every day my answer is the same- "Not today, James, but I'll let you know."  Yesterday, my co-worker Tim and I went to an elementary school to talk with the classes and pick up recycled bikes from their service learning class.  The one thing I tried to stress in each class is how well we are taken care of- protected and safe.  It truly feels like a family!

So here I go again- and I can't wait!