Why I was arrested this morning

This morning, alongside dozens of committed advocates and elected officials across the country, I was arrested as part of the Fight for $15 campaign's National Day of Disruption. I wrote an op-ed, included below and published this morning in The Nation to explain why, in the age of Trump, the Fight for $15 offers a rare model of bravery, boldness, and solidarity:

Where will we find inspiration for the challenging days ahead? Where can we look, as we struggle to resist a President-elect who stirs up division, and whose policies will erode access to opportunity, even for his own working-class voters?

One place I will look: to courageous fast-food workers who have led the Fight for $15. Their courage, bold vision, solidarity across race and gender, and vision for economic fairness have transformed what is possible for low-wage workers. That’s why I’m getting arrested today, as part of their National Day of Action. Read more »

Still and always, grateful

Some years, gratitude is closer to the surface. Some years, it takes a little more digging.

Four years ago, as Thanksgiving came, we were recovering from a natural disaster.

Hurricane Sandy had taken the lives of loved ones, and battered our city. There were 500 nursing home evacuees living on the drill floor of the Park Slope Armory. But we found – no, together, we made – a “paradise built in hell” (the title of a brilliant book by Rebecca Solnit, about the extraordinary communities that arise in disaster). With food, music, art, volunteers, bathroom-cleaning, doctors, donations, smart organizing, love, and a deep sense of purpose, we turned that Armory into a place (as described by evacuee Miriam Eisenstein-Drachler) of “courtesy, gentleness, and goodness beyond description.” Even if it could not hold back the hurricane, she said, “it makes one feel more secure and very, very grateful.”

Today, as Thanksgiving comes, we are trying to recover from a political disaster. While the lives lost and damage done by Hurricane Sandy cannot be directly compared, the experience of loss for many of us is still real. Not just that we lost an election, though that will have profound consequences. What feels especially painful to me today is the risk that we’ll lose a vision that we’ve been so proud to hold up for our kids – of a country called to its best self, rooted in compassion, embracing difference, with a real belief (even when we don’t make it real) that everyone deserves a more equal chance across all our lines.

That very dream, and the effort to make it real, provoked a sharp back-lash (a “white-lash”, as Van Jones rightly called it). At this moment, it seems easier to mobilize the darker, more closed, more resentful, sides of humanity – rather than the hopeful, open, embracing ones. I’m afraid, honestly, about what that means for being human.  

Still and always, gratitude is a critical part of the way forward. Not as a way of “feeling better” (although gratitude turns out to be good for your health). And not only because bitterness can consume us (although John Lewis reminds us that hearts full of love will do a lot better to sustain us for a long-term struggle). But also because gratitude for what we do together, for what we can’t do alone, for the ways we need each other, is at the heart of creating an inclusive community. “Organized compassion” is not only how we fight but what we are fighting for.

So, in that spirit, here’s some of what I am so deeply grateful for, still and always: Read more »

Next #GetOrganizedBK Meeting: Thurs, December 1st

At our first #GetOrganizedBK meeting on November 15th, over a thousand people turned out to show that our community will not stand idly by. We will not “normalize” white supremacy, yield to Islamophobia in our subways or anti-Semitism on our playgrounds, or become accustomed to policies rooted in racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and misogyny.

Unfortunately, President-elect Trump has already given us many reasons to resist – from his nominations of Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions, to the corrupt ways he apparently sought approval for a building project in Argentina that he stands to profit from, to engaging in Twitter-fights with the cast of Hamilton and the New York Times, while failing to condemn hate-crimes committed in his name (and in our neighborhood).  

After Thanksgiving, we’ll be getting together again to roll up our sleeves and start planning the work, strategy, actions, and events that will sustain our energy and build momentum for our resistance to policies of injustice, corruption, and hate. I hope you’ll join us: Read more »

Save the Date: Planning for Resiliency and Sustainability in Gowanus

The second public meeting in the NYC Department of City Planning’s Gowanus PLACES study will focus on grounding our planning work in the critical issues of resiliency and sustainability – including the risks of flooding (from sea level rise, storm surge, and rain), the EPA’s Superfund cleanup, and what we can do to make Gowanus a model of environmental sustainability.

Gowanus PLACES Meeting on Environmental Resiliency and Sustainability
Thursday, December 8, 2016
6:30 PM
Wyckoff Gardens Community Center
280 Wyckoff St 9 (at 3rd Ave)

For the better part of two centuries, the Gowanus Canal functioned as both sewer and symbol of our country’s environmental neglect, as industrial pollution, the toxic waste of making energy through coal gasification, and combined sewer overflows (CSOs) poured into the Canal. The dissolved oxygen level in the Canal reached zero in about 1904, and stayed that way for most of the past century. Read more »

Support our immigrant neighbors with a Thanksgiving contribution

The election of Donald Trump has made this a fearful time for many of our immigrant neighbors, especially in Sunset Park and Kensington. We are committed to working closely together with these communities in the days ahead.

Together, we can make work to sure our immigrant communities feel welcomed. We can provide legal assistance, and perhaps even put ourselves on the line with them if the time comes. Big thanks to everyone who attended the Day of Unity and Solidarity in Sunset Park yesterday sponsored by Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

Here’s what you can do today: At yesterday's Unity Festival, more than 130 families signed up (for the first time) to ask for help with their Thanksgiving meal. Council Member Menchaca is working with the Center for Family Life to make sure they get the help they need. But it's going to cost $6,500, and we need to raise it right now. Read more »

Get Organized BK! #RegisterMeFirst in Solidarity with Muslims (and more!)

As our allies and friends around the City continue to organize, we want to keep you posted on urgent actions and upcoming events.

First Action of the Day: #RegisterMeFirst

President-elect Donald Trump wants to require all Muslims to register in a government database, violating civil rights and fundamental American Constitutional protections on freedom of religion. If he does, all of us – Jews, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and everyone else – must pledge to register as Muslims on day one. #RegisterMeFirst

I urge you to join me in pledging to sign up on the first day the registry is open, whatever our religion, ethnicity, national origin, or background, by signing this petition

This Sunday (11/20): March in Solidarity with our Immigrant Neighbors Read more »

Get Organized BK! Next Steps (for today: #DumpBannon)

More than a thousand people joined together at our #GetOrganizedBK town hall on Tuesday night, to begin the transition from mourning the election results to acting on them. We committed to working together in strategic ways to resist Trump’s agenda and defend our deeply American values.

It was a powerful evening, We heard from smart, steadfast, compassionate and diverse speakers who helped us prepare for focused and sustained resistance. We took seriously what we must do to show up for New Yorkers facing hate-speech and hate-crimes welling up in our streets, subways, and schools. We cheered on inspiring young people. We built strategies to move forward with our neighbors. We sang America the Beautiful.  And we restored some of our faith in community, love, and democracy.

For those of you who weren’t able to join us (we’re sorry for the poor live-stream quality), you can watch the full event here, check out a few of the pictures and quotes here, or read about it in City Limits and BKLYNERRead more »

Follow Up Information from #GetOrganizedBK Speakers

Speaker/Organization Follow Up Information:

Here’s the follow-up information from the organizations represented at #GetOrganizedBK: Read more »

Let's Get Organized. This Tuesday Evening.

UPDATE: We've reached capacity for this event (more than 1,000 people have already RSVP'd). But you can still join us online via Facebook Live, and participate/ask questions using the Sli.do website or app (details below).

Many of us are still in shock and mourning from the election result. And it will take time, both to analyze what happened, and to deal with very real fears and such deep sadness.

But we also have an obligation to roll up our sleeves and get to work: to do all we can to defend the things we know are right, to protect those who are vulnerable, to stand together in focused resistance, and to fight for the future we believe in.

Here in my district, we are doing what we can to get started. Read more »

For Veterans Day & Beyond: A Challenge

Amidst the pain and division we are feeling in the country, I am grateful for the opportunity of Veterans Day to unify in gratitude to people who have served our country. While there will be much work ahead to defend core American ideals, we honor those who have given their service and their lives for them.

From the Maryland 400, whose 240th anniversary of sacrifice we observed in August, who gave their lives in what Washington called “an hour more precious to liberty than any other,” to the wars of our generation, we owe our veterans our deep gratitude – but also something much more tangible than that.

I’m proud that NYC has established a new Department of Veterans Services, under the leadership of Ret. Brigadier General Loree Sutton.

But we’ve got a lot more to do.
Read more »

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