That's how the light gets in

Wednesday was the shortest -- and the darkest -- day of the year. 

Over the past few weeks, we've been dealing with a lot of darkness. Terrorist attacks in Berlin and Ankara. The brutal tragedy in Aleppo. Here at home, reasons to fear that many of our deepest values -- justice, tolerance, inclusion, sustainability, peace -- will be under threat in the days ahead. 
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2016 Highlights

Despite the darkness of recent weeks & the challenges we face in the year ahead, we have a lot to be proud of, in what we have accomplished as a community in 2016. We're pleased to offer some of the highlights of our work together over the past year. Read more »

Before a vacation, a fair work week

My family and I are headed out on vacation next week. I don’t know about you, but at this moment, I sure need one.

Before we leave, though, it’s worth taking a minute to think about workers whose jobs don’t provide even enough stability to know whether, when, or how much they’ll be working from week-to-week.

Without a stable work schedule, who can build a stable life, pay the rent, arrange child care, or go to school? Much less save up for presents, buy new clothes for the kids, or go on a real vacation.

Unfortunately, unpredictable schedules are all-too-common, especially for poor New Yorkers. A new report from the Community Service Society (“Unpredictable: How Unpredictable Schedules Keep Low-Income New Yorkers from Getting Ahead”) highlights how NYC’s low-wage retail and restaurant workers suffer from abusive scheduling that exacerbates economic hardship. The CSS study shows that: Read more »

Darryl King, 1948-2016

Somehow, he did not let bitterness destroy him. Despite brutal injustice and suffering – 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit – Darryl King kept his spirit, his smile, his will to change the systems that wronged him and many others, and an earnest desire to do good in people’s lives. 

Darryl was born in Brooklyn in 1948, drafted in 1967, and served two years in the U.S. Army. Not long after being honorably discharged – down on his luck, without a job, having fallen into drug use – he was wrongfully arrested and convicted for a murder he did not commit. Read more »

From Freezing Rain to “Giraffe Power.” #GetOrganizedBK next Tuesday 12/20

The news continues to be as dark and cold as the days. A climate denier to head the EPA. A fast-food CEO who opposes workers’ rights to lead the Department of Labor. Evidence that Russia successfully influenced the election through cyber-spying to elect Trump, sow chaos, and undermine faith in democracy – followed by Trump’s nomination of an oil executive with no diplomatic experience and a disturbingly close relationship with Putin for Secretary of State.

What does it mean? It means we can’t let up.

So, we’re getting together again next Tuesday evening, 12/20 at 7 p.m. for our next #GetOrganizedBK meeting. Please RSVP here.

In the midst of so much darkness, your activism continues to offer much-needed points of light. Over just the past few days: Read more »

2 Upcoming Actions: Standing Together Against Hate in Grand Central, and Ft. Hamilton Stations

From a hate-driven attack on an MTA worker in Grand Central Station, to anti-Islamic graffiti at the Ft. Hamilton subway station in Kensington, to so many heartbreaking instances over the last few weeks, we’ve seen an unacceptable and frightening rise in hate crimes, both citywide and right here in Brooklyn.

This Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, #GetOrganizedBK members are holding two actions to show that our community stands together against hatred and Islamophobia. Join for one or both of these events to say “Not in our city!” and “Not in our neighborhood!”

Sunday Afternoon:
“Not In Our City!” Vigil
Grand Central Station (main concourse)
Sunday, December 11 from 3-4 PM
A great action to join right after the Kids Speak out March in Central Park!

Monday Morning:
“Not in our Neighborhood!” Subway Rally
Monday, December 12 at 7:30 AM
Reeve Place Entrance to Ft. Hamilton subway stop.
Send neighbors off to work with messages letting them know we will not stand for hate, and our neighborhood is for ALL of us.  Read more »

Two bits of inspiration & some next steps for #GetOrganizedBK

Every day seems to include some new darkness (and not only because the days are still getting shorter). So far this week we’ve seen the nomination of a climate-denier to be the EPA Administrator, a segregation-denier for HUD Secretary, a violent attack on a DC pizza restaurant based on right-wing fake news, and a continued stream of hate crimes in NYC.

So I’m feeling the need for some small but bright spots of inspiration. Here are two:

*** Standing Against Islamophobia in Grand Central Station: This past Sunday, some of our very own #GetOrganizedBK actvists (led by Ben Wides and joined by two dozen others, who got started at our meeting last Thursday) organized an impromptu vigil in Grand Central Station, responding to the hateful attack on Muslim Baruch College student, Yasmin Seweid. They got some great press coverage, and made clear that we will not tolerate hate crimes. Thanks for standing up to say #NotInOurCity. Check out this video clip of their beautiful action.

***City Council Passes a Resolution Affirming NYCs Status as Sanctuary City: On Tuesday, the City Council (of this historically immigrant city) overwhelmingly passed a resolution affirming that despite President-elect Donald Trump's senseless (and probably unconstitutional) threats, NYC will remain a sanctuary city for our immigrant residents. I was proud to co-sponsor the resolution, along with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca (who many of you met last Thursday). Right afterward, Carlos went up to Trump Tower to deliver the resolution to the President-elect.

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Stay connected to #GetOrganizedBK

Last night we saw another meeting of truly tremendous organizing at our second #GetOrganizedBK gathering. More than 700 people got busy in 15 breakout groups. Standing in solidarity with our immigrant neighbors. Electoral organizing. Fighting Trump Administration corruption and conflicts-of-interest. And many more.

The smarts, strategy, and willingness to roll-up-sleeves in our community is powerful. People have continuously dived right in, facilitated, started making action plans, and committed themselves to this cause. It's clear that passionate, moral, urgent organizing to resist the Trump regime has the potential to engage like nothing since the civil rights and anti-war movements.

Big thank you to Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Assembly Member-elect Robert Carroll, Rabbi Rachel Timoner and Congregation Beth Elohim, Rabbi Ellen Lippman, Mark Winston Griffith, and so many people who stepped up as leaders both last night, and for the long haul.

We’ll follow up with more specifics from last night’s meeting soon, including reports from all the different committees, but in the meantime we’re going social! To follow up on the work of the first two #GetOrganizedBK meetings and to stay on top of upcoming actions and events join the newly lauched #GetOrganizedBK Facebook group (and invite your friends to join as well). We want it to be a hub for individuals, activists, organizations and community leaders to join together in our resistance.

We’re also hard at work planning our next meeting. I hope you’ll be able to join us on the evening of Tuesday, December 20th for our 3rd #GetOrganizedBK meeting:

The 3rd #GetOrganizedBK Meeting
Tuesday, December 20 at 7 PM
Congregation Beth Elohim
Corner of Garfield and 8th Ave, Brooklyn NY

-Brad Read more »

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 »

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