Catching Up with Myself and my Friends

Dear friends and receivers of my blog post, I have not posted here for too long. Some of you may not really know me, because it seems I keep adding to the list of recipients who become only passive “contacts” due to my lack of technical savvy. Sorry. I have mainly been in a state of retreat from new internet communication for several specific reasons: 1)a crisis of confidence in my internet skills which kept blocking out my accounts due to lost passwords, or worse, sent out mistaken messages. That scared me; 2)a probably age-related rise in my own sense of being “out of it”, or that everything I could say is already being said better by someone younger, wiser or more connected; and 3)an honest lack clarity about how to respond to today’s realities. The fact that Trump and the Hard Right behind him have not started a war somewhere, or done things worse than were expected/feared since his ascendency left me holding my breath, not wanting to add more foolish predictions to the daily blogosphere. Now I realize that I miss communicating with a wider circle of old and new comrades. BUT the latest set of media pictures/words from white, mainly Southern men have reminded me of the deepest root of my radicalism — my deep knowledge of, and hatred for, the (Southern) white racism that defined my earliest family and community life for the 21 years until I escaped in 1968. I have written most recently on my website (“What’s in a Name?”) about how I graduated from the Jacksonville, Florida Nathan Bedford Forrest High School in 1964 which had been so named as a statement of continued reaction during the 1950s integration struggles and how its final un-naming caused controversy in 2014, the year of my 50th reunion. At the time I enjoyed five minutes of local media fame by trying to get my fellow alumni to publicly honor the name change, and to recognize at our event the students and community activists who led the effort to achieve it . (The alumni reunion committee wouldn’t let me do so publicly, but I’m hoping that the small publicity surrounding my failed attempt shamed them at bit.) Since then I have continued to be proud of their successful effort, and glad that it connected me to local Black and white activists in Jacksonville, whose continued struggle in an area still so stuck in deep racism inspires me today. I have tried to keep in touch and am mainly just glad that they are there — and, honestly that I am not. I can’t go “home” to that. Yet now, I notice when the same words and deeds I grew up with are recalled from even younger public figures, whose responses are still so confused. Today I am moved when Reverend Barber, and writer-activist Bill Fletcher call us to respond not with demands fro resignation in disgrace, but for current, more focused, anti-racist action as repayment for their horrendous past words and deeds. Of course we should remove statues of dead white racists, and take their names off public places. But more important is that we insist on public reparations — defined within efforts informed by a deep awareness of local history and a serious accounting of the continuing cost of past racist deeds and words. How do pay back the long denied effects of racism? We spend money on projects aimed at uncovering the damage. We involve young inheritors of racism’s effects in documenting the full story, and in devising meaningful responses. We create a real “never again” mentality, with money and demands attached. And we keep monitoring the responses, and keep coming back for more accountability. I want to help do this, yet I don’t how to begin. I welcome your reactions. And I promise to respond. I’m also committing to reach out personally to people who are part of my network. If you don’t really know me, I ask you to check out my website, and my past posts, and start a communication. If you knew me in the past, through CPCS, please contact me because I am now rededicated to writing the book I was researching for several years about our College, still to be titled “Who Did we Think we Were? Radical Higher Education and the Neoliberal Imperative: The Experience and Meanings of the College of Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts/Boston.” I’m still seeking a publisher, but a current CPCS faculty member, Raul Ybarra, is offering to join the project. Hooray Otherwise all I can say is that I have a 9 month-old grandbaby, named Sage, who offers a real reason for hope and hard work for justice. And I am still involved in anti-poverty activism through the MA Poor People’s Campaign, and though less so, through the national Basic Income movement. (I promise to post more updates from both movements on my website, again I have been avoidant.) BUT most important I want to hear more from any of you about what else we should be doing, or talking about, together. Thanks Ann . .

Consider the Apostrophes

The Poor People’s Campaign for Moral Reconstruction is a Poor People’s Moral Movement.  It is motivated and led, not by experts or politicians, but rather by people who themselves KNOW poverty, up close and personal…Folks who KNOW that something is wrong, that poverty is an evil which hurts, and that the only way to make the immediate and deeply rooted pain stop for all of us is to face it, to know it, to study it. And, most importantly, they are people who are prepared together to push back against poverty and against the rich people who personally condone it, and whose laws, systems and structures perpetrate it.

HOW do we know? We study poverty through stories.  Her stories, His stories, Our stories. Our lives tell stories — stories that are our truths, our “data,” our evidence.  I mean the stories we hear from our families, our friends, our “people”, and from our own selves when we talk to ourselves about what we KNOW happened, not LIES other people told us to confuse us, or because they so much wished their world had been different, or because the pain of their stories was just too hard to face.

My own stories first emerged at night when as a child I lay in bed telling myself what I KNEW was really true… In the dark, I needed to warn myself, to explain to myself, at least, about what I thought was happening in my world, and why what Mother and others around me were saying wasn’t true, couldn’t be right.  Somehow those corrective stories helped keep me going. And still do. (Even though I’ve had to learn that they too may not be the only truth, that I need to keep revising them so I don’t fool myself either).

So what does it mean that this Poor People’s Campaign is a Movement built on the TRUE stories Poor People tell? And, indeed, what do we think makes a good story? It is one that is true, and yet still bravely open to constant evolution based on others’ different ways of explaining things, as we share more stories. It is one that sounds true because it is clear, with understandable words,  explained clearly AND checked out against other stories, and other kinds of data..  It may begin with “once upon a time:”  in a particular place, far away or familiar. Or it may start with an example, a story about something or some things that happened to me…”Let me tell you about a time when this happened, then that happened, and then something else happened next.”

When somebody tells us a Good Story we go back with them,  We feel something of what they were feeling that thereby helps us to connect, to learn, to want to know more, to ask questions.  We want to tell our stories;  about what we learned, or about what it might mean. We ask, why did a particular story happen the way it did? What other stories does it prompt us to recall? To want to share? To want to understand more deeply?

By hearing ourselves tell our stories we, in turn, help ourselves not feel so alone, Not be so alone, to figure out a next step, or two, or a next question to ask. A next person to talk with…To discover that Hope which us allows to keep on keeping on.

SOON, in Massachusetts and across the US, we will be to creating Poor People’s Campaign Storyteller Teams who will gather stories from the people most impacted by poverty in ways that explain and justify our Movement.  Check it out.

 

 

 

 

A Movement is Building, The Poor People’s Campaign is Moving, and Learning as We Go.

It is much too soon to publish any kind of full assessment of our efforts, and too much work is still in-progress to write something that would even presume to be any kind of “evaluation,” much less to suggest a plan.  But as of mid-July I just want to post some of my own thoughts, for my memory’s sake at least, and maybe to stimulate discussion:

  1.  The Campaign has done well, nationally and in this State to get attention to the cause without weakening the message.  No small feat in the midst for creating a national presence and action.  .  Good for everybody.  We have to keep it up.
  2.  For me, the most important parts of our practice thus far have been that we have kept to our commitments to bring the faces and voices of the people most directly impacted by poverty in the forefront — on camera and in our words and actions.  We can still do better, but this Movement is already much stronger  than the white anti-War New Left that defined me since 1968 because of this.  It is deeper than the Black Civil Rights Movement that inspired and so challenged me since I was a wanna-be Southern white girl supporter in the mid-1950’s because of this.  And it much wider than the Women’s Movement that I have been part of, despite and because of my Mean Mother, since the early 1970’s .  And it even may be the long-hoped for Movement of “The People, United Who Can Never Be Defeated” that I have been chanting for and demanding , at hundreds of demonstrations and meetings, in so many places  since it turned 21 in 1968.  I hope so.
  3. As a long-time activist and radical teacher, I truly do believe in the leadership and mission of the Poor People’s Campaign.  And increasingly, here in Boston, I can see ways to bring my experience directly into our popular education work, starting this summer.  Now we are past the past 40 Days of NonViolent Resistance and moving into a careful, yet intense, community and organizational development phase that will push the misleaders of both parties back, and motivate new folks,– younger people, tired older people, students and union members into greater solidarity and activism.  I can feel it, and I see real possibility for me personally to be a part, building from my experience, even if the body, but not the spirit, is weaker than it used to be.   I must find a way, and know I can alongside my amazing new comrades, especially the group of SEIU 1199 PCA’s who so motivate me, just as Welfare Rights Mothers did 40+ years ago.
  4. More later, except to say that as we move forward, my priorities are to help Massachusetts PPC to go to public colleges and universities and work with students to organize around the danger coming from the student loan debt that is diminishing the ability of our younger generation to take the personal, political and social risks they must take together.  We must teach ourselves the history of the Right in this country and elsewhere, in order to identify what’s happening to us, to name who is leading it, and to organize to fight back in little and big ways.  We must remember always to link the problems associated with poverty with the intentional and inevitable danger stemming from immoral Wealth and irresponsible rich people. We must also learn from our own movement’s’ histories about how to speak out clearly in large and small groups, in writing on all the old and new”platforms” and, through it all, as we keep our love for each other alive AND our Eyes on the Prize.  I look forward to working together with everybody as we accomplish this.  We have no choice.

So let’s get going, bringing new comrades along, and strengthening Ourselves every day.   Starting Now.  ……Please respond however works best for you.

Paying Attention…Catching UP…

“ I call on Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good employees and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”     Trump’s State of the Union Address 1/30/18

When I originally heard this I realized that, in the midst of all our righteous uproar regarding racism and other systemic abuses within new immigration, social, criminal “justice” and educational policy assaults, we also must heed this brief, chilling threat to today’s public sector workers, their unions, and therefore to all us.   Most of citizens and residents of this nation have rights to expect government to be effective, accountable, and responsive. Yet our criminal “justice” system is still, and has always been essentially racist. We must document and highlight and never forget this, even as we keep demanding more and getter service.

Since January, under the guise of tax reform, Republicans have already undermined healthcare promises, protections for immigrants, and the environment.  By not hiring new workers to meet the government’s obligations we only create more dissatisfaction.  With Tax Day just past, it’s time to remind ourselves of what it meant historically when governments failed in these ways.  We know get what we pay for.  And in terms of public services, we must be prepared to pay (fairly and proportionately) for it all.

Please, let’s demand the revenue we need to operate as a responsible society.  otherwise we undermine our ability to trust ourselves, and to demand what we need from ourselves

 

Updates from the Poor People’s Campaign

Over the past several months I have become very involved with the Massachusetts Poor Peoples’ Campaign.  As I have said before the whole national Campaign is very exciting, and now we are beginning more state and local activism, leading to Forty Days of Civil Disobedience in May.   For now it just want to post the principles of the national Campaign and a link to be connected to the Massachusetts Campaign.

More later, but for now check out Poor Peoples Campaign principles +

Supporting the Poor People’s Campaign — No distractions, please

If you don’t know more of the story behind who Cheri Honkala is and how she has been part of the welfare rights/Poor People’s scene for years,
As long time welfare rights activist,Cheri’s statement seems powerful BUT why is she issuing it now? If she has problems with the current PPC, why isn’t she being direct about it?
Why announce her own march without respect for all the amazing, legitimate work motivated by William Barber, Liz Theoharris and Willie Baptist, and lots of us NOW, around the nation, which being led by more poor people, and more people with real personal poverty experience than any major social movement in history. Indeed, why introduce innuendo suggesting that the only current movement that is actually coming forward with real success is suspect?
Don’t get confused. Ask questions. Check out who has been doing the the most work of fighting poverty for the longest time. It is William Barber, Liz Theoharris, and Willie Baptist, along with others prominent in the PPC.
I respect Cheri’s history, and lifelong energy and I recognize her powerful voice.
But Cheri’s way now is not the right way. It is confusing and divisive. She could be joining, but then she might not be leading in the way she expects to lead — I could say “mislead.”
Today’s poor people ARE single mothers like Cheri using what’s left of welfare to survive, AND they are also immigrants, and low waged workers who are often single mothers or the children of single mothers. Today’s poor people are still disproportionately African Americans, who join with college students of all ethnic backgrounds in invisible poverty as they try to get an education, even as they know that the debt they are accruing to get it will keep them poor or near poverty for a very long time. Today’s poor people are sick and getting older living in fear that there will be no simply available health care for them. They reside in all parts of the USA — in large part because real estate developers are taking their cities away.
Finally, we now have a new national anti poverty movement growing organically again, out of the history of civil rights, labor rights and women’s rights and human rights movements. It is built upon the best parts of global environmental and LBGT movements. It is led by “people of faith” but still is welcoming to all who have been damaged by faith or who never sought it. AND the new Poor People’s Campaign has adopted 12 fundamental principles for a moral revival that preclude righteous Neoliberal tricks.
Let’s embrace it. Cheri Honkala should too. But I, for one, will not widely circulate her statement directly, nor waste time engaging with her self-serving plans fro her own march to distract us.
Let’s move on and build the one big movement that is proving its credibility every day. Please. The time is NOW.    Cheri’s original statement can be found here.

Mass. Poor People’s Campaign

This is really important effort, Stay tuned

Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
Media Advisory for February 5, 2018
Contact: Savina Martin, 339 216 7181

Massachusetts Poor, Disenfranchised To Join The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

Poor People, Clergy and Activists to go to the State House, Demanding Moral, Just Political Agenda; Vow Historic Wave of Nonviolent Civil Disobedience, Direct Action This Spring

Local News Conference Decrying Systemic Racism, Poverty, the War Economy, Ecological Devastation Part of Nationwide Day of Action in over 30 States, District of Columbia

Boston, February 1, 2018 — Poor and disenfranchised people, clergy and moral leaders from across Massachusetts will join the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Monday.

Poor people, clergy and activists will hold a news conference at the state capitol to serve notice on state legislative leaders that their failure to address the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and America’s distorted national morality will be met this spring with six weeks of direct action – including one of the largest waves of nonviolent civil disobedience in U.S. history.

The Massachusetts delegation of impacted people and moral leaders will deliver a letter to politicians highlighting dozens of racist voter suppression laws passed nationwide in recent years and a stark jump in the percentage of people living in poverty. They will vow to risk arrest beginning Mother’s Day if politicians fail to adopt a moral and just agenda.

The news conference in Massachusetts will be one of over 30 at state capitols and the U.S. Capitol Monday, marking the first nationwide action by the campaign since it launched on Dec. 4, 50 years to the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others called for the original Poor People’s Campaign.

WHO: Poor, disenfranchised people, clergy and moral leaders joined by many local supporters

WHAT: News conference and letter delivery at the Massachusetts State House and in over 30 state capitols and the U.S. Capitol as part of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

WHEN: Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, 10:00 am

WHERE: State House steps on Beacon Street

BACKGROUND:

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is the product of a decade of organizing by grassroots groups, religious leaders and others to end systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation. Expected to be a multi-year effort, the campaign will unite the poor, disenfranchised, and marginalized, combining direct action with grassroots organizing, voter registration, power building and nonviolent civil disobedience.

Once again, what IS to Be Done?

September ordinarily offers me hope for better days, for making “plans for the Fall”.  Summer is ending,  school is starting, new people are coming around. But hope seems a bit foolish now.  It’s hard to feel better — except that much of the worst has not happened (yet) to most of us–maybe. The extreme weather even reflects my mood.  The world seems, and is, unsettled, out of sorts.  Charlottesville highlighted the reasonableness of my ever-present fears. I’m not paranoid. And I’m still angry — but not looking for “wellness training”.

Surely I can’t avoid seeing what’s happening to people and the values that matter most.  But what to do?

Obviously we regroup. We document. We prepare for the worst. We try to figure out what it means to resist.  We listen to each other, keep exposing all the grand and petty threats. Folks have done pretty well at blocking Him (and the Republicans) from doing the cruelest deeds. They look pathetic.  And the worst (declaring war? a white supremacist pogrom?) hasn’t happened.  But….still, it’s hard to imagine a better, intentional near-future. Hard to get it together, hard to find a focus and keep it. Hard not to sound hopelessly naive in continuing to call for “a movement”. But what else is there?

I can’t help being afraid of what is happening across the US and the globe.  The escalating crudeness and tolerance of violent words and deeds in so many places is unnerving. Now, too many suffer from Trump fatigue, and are even more likely to miss possibilities.

I keep coming back to the wisdom of Guy Standing’s warnings of increasing precarity. The insecurity that puts so many people in such danger is not only economic, it’s social disruption and moral enervation at the deepest levels. And it cycles in on itself. It breeds distrust. Maybe this is the essence of today’s populist nihilism. Everything feels off kilter.

For the next three weeks I’m in Europe, in Berlin, Prague, Bordeaux, and Lisbon. Seeing old friends, giving a few presentations about Basic Income. Looking for better ways to figure out what’s happening. What can happen. What we can do to find a new balance, to join with others, to find support for keeping going, for fighting back, for having hope.

Any ideas?

PS I do know that Reverend Barber, and the New Poor People’s Campaign are there, as are those at Political Research Associates and the Southern Poverty Law Center. But it still seems very hard.

Basic Income Blues June 2017

 

Inspired by the North American Basic Income
Guarantee Congress NYC JUNE 2017

I’ve got the Basic Income Blues….
Because in my heart
         I believe all need to feel secure,
                  to have enough to eat, to live, just to be,
Because in my soul, (whatever that is),
         I feel that BIG is a chance to live with hope, able to “speak our own truths” —
without so much fear of poverty, violence, homelessness, and distain.
Because, in my head,
         I know it’s possiblewe can get a BIG, IF we
work together, led by those who need it most,
Stay deeply generous, not tight, in our vision,
Not fearing failure if we don’t get it right the first time.
As Brandy sings, I want a Basic Income “Because I’m Alive.”

 I’ve got the Basic Income Blues….
But now I worry,
         because people with money, high tech status, and so much certainty,
         have “discovered” BIG, want to promote it, to design it,
                  to “own” the brand.
         Already, with hope for funding, the rest of us are obligated:
                  Obligated to please them,
                           obligated to “align with their values,”
                                    to place them in front of the cameras,
                                             to keep criticisms internal and “civil.”
         Because we can’t lose their money

SO I’ve got the blues…
         
I’ve seen it happen before.
         Seen radical movements, lose themselves in the quest for what’s possible, what’s
         winnable, for what’s fundable, for what seems to work,
                  but doesn’t.
Who’s most hurt then?
         Not the founders, not those who explain it, study it,
                  not the white professionals who discover BIG and “like the idea,”
Rather, the people most hurt are those who absolutely need a Basic Income, now:
         The precariat — our “new dangerous class,”
         People of color, immigrants, those less abled,
         People who hope a BI will change their present and their futures.
                  who want it for themselves, their families, and their communities,
                           who gain strength from imagining it, from working for it,
                                    and who will be most dispirited if we fail…
Let’s not go there…
Those who know poverty, up close and personal, must lead, not just advise,
                  head the table, not just be at it, when decisions are made,
                           when tactics and strategies are determined
                                    when the vision and goals are expanded
         Otherwise, only the form will remain, while the spirit passes away

And that’s a reason to sing the blues

 

PS I’ve got more to say in a discussion about what’s next for NABIG, about how to proceed, how to organize ourselves, and where we should not go. But that’s for later, based on collective responses to the Congress. But for now, I needed to send this out to my broader world,

THANKS for listening, and responding.

                           ..

Suezanne Bruce — Basic Income as an Empowerment Tool

This is Suezanne Bruce, of Massachusetts Basic Income Initiative, MBII,  my partner in crime.  We are currently working together to link Massachusetts Basic Income organizing with Survivors Inc.,  the longstanding welfare rights/anti-poverty organization in Boston,  with an effort to create local chapter of the Social Welfare Action Alliance, SWAA (formerly the Bertha Capen Reynolds Society). We are doing outreach, making contacts, and hoping for funding from the Economic Security Project.  The proposal for this funding is below

Proposal to Economic Security Project

UPDATED, MAY 15, 2017

Building an Anti-Poverty Base for The Massachusetts’ Basic Income Initiative (MBII), Under the auspices of Survivors Inc., Boston, sponsor and fiscal agent

Ann Withorn, Director,  Suezanne Bruce Coordinator/Organizer

  Project Narrative

The goal of the Massachusetts’ Basic Initiative (MBII) is to launch an educational and mobilization Initiative that will directly link Basic Income ideas and actions with the ideas and goals of poor peoples’ groups and community organizations in Massachusetts. Thereby we will strengthen networks for BI education and action across community, academic and professional groups.

Our underlying purpose is build support for a Basic Income Movement among those people who will most benefit from BI by developing a model that specifically responds to visions and concerns articulated by people who experience poverty.

The MBII Initiative grows out of earlier efforts to connect supporters of the 30+ years-old Boston’s welfare rights organization, Survivors Inc., with the loosely organized four year-old network of Basic Income Massachusetts adherents. With ESP’s help, the Massachusetts Basic Income Initiative (MBII) will focus on:

1) effectively getting the word out about Basic Income to a wide range of poor people’s groups and their allies in antipoverty, social justice and community organizations. This effort will allow us to open dialogue and create plans for cooperation regarding a range of mutual concerns.  

2) building a base for a Basic Income Movement in Massachusetts through a variety of outreach methods. We will draw initially from the network of Massachusetts social and economic justice organizations that are led by poor people, immigrants and people of color. We will support discussion, based upon the differing experiences of people in such groups, about what a Basic Income Movement should be, and what strategies and tactics should be used to build it. These organizations are full of experienced activists who have been long-time allies of Survivors Inc;

3)sponsoring a set of conversations among low income people from varied backgrounds about “What a Meaningful Basic Income Would Be for Poor People: How much? How Distributed? Anticipated Complications?” We will transcribe, edit and use these conversations as a base for development of a Poor People’s Basic Income Model” by the end of Year One

4) collaborating with BIGMinn, to create a model for local BI organizing, for the purpose of learning about their extensive local outreach and organizing efforts. We will share results from our work with poor people’s organizations as a base of support for BI. From this collaboration we will together create a Guide to Grassroots Basic Income Organizing to be shared with other local BI groups. (The base for this joint endeavor comes from the partnership that Ann Withorn and Liane Gale have created thought their continuing co-leadership of the Basic Income Woman Action Group)

Over the year, MBII will use ESP funds primarily to expand the existing informal cohort of current BI advocates and allies in the Boston area into a more recognized source for BI ideas and activity within the Massachusetts economic/social Justice community. Our specific plans include

  • creating an active Advisory Group for MBII, made up of people who have worked with us previously around welfare rights, poverty, social justice and Basic Income concerns. They will respond to and help direct our efforts
  • engaging in outreach to, and engagement with, local poor peoples’ organizations by visiting with members, attending local events, and individual outreach to leadership.
  • sponsoring a set of conversations later in the year, among low income people from varied background about “What a Meaningful Basic Income Would Be for Poor People? We will use these conversations as a base for development of a “Poor Peoples’ Basic Income Model
  • preparing and distributing accessible material for the purpose of connecting BI talk/ideas directly with poor people’s concerns, in the hope to building joint efforts with sister organizations in Boston and across Massachusetts
  • supporting the continuation of Survival Tips and other traditional Survival News activities, through the Poor Peoples United Fund, primarily via an electronic format.
  • underwriting transportation to selected conferences and related BI-related national gatherings (i.e. , the June NABIG Congress in NYC, the June Michigan Welfare Rights Poverty Summit in Detroit, and collaboration with BIMINN, and national Social Welfare Action Alliance (SWAA) gatherings in Rochester NY, among others.

What is unique about our Initiative

Historically, much of Basic Income activity in Massachusetts (as elsewhere in the US) has been focused on developing and explaining the concept, speculating about what it might mean in practice , and reaching out to educated informed audiences, based primarily in universities, professional and civic interest groups. This work has been good. As have the pilot projects and other efforts to create real-world models for UBI.

We hope that our project will serve to further ground Basic Income in the philosophy and goals of US anti-poverty movements, based on conversations and collaboration with existing poor peoples groups in Boston and other areas of Massachusetts. Most specifically we hope that the creation of our “Poor Peoples’ Basic Income Model” will be of assistance to BI organizing throughout NABIG. Especially we hope our work will spur Basic Income advocates to bring more low income people, and anti-poverty activists, into all BI efforts.

Our Approach

in Boston, Basic Income appeals to us today because it is a natural extension of early proposals of the 1960’s National Welfare Rights Organization for a Guaranteed Income for all.  That effort had significant support in Massachusetts especially through local welfare rights groups in Boston, Cambridge and Springfield. For years it was carried forward by the Coalition for Basic Human Needs in Cambridge (CBHN,) a group with which many Survivors Inc. members were long affiliated.

The past work of Survivors inc, and the example of Survival News serve as the base for our approach — grassroots activism, lead by poor women, in coordination with low income and welfare rights groups around the country. The voice and activity should always be democratic, participatory, and representative of the voices and perspectives of people who have current and past experiences of poverty.

Conclusion

We view our request for support from ESP to build a Massachusetts Basic Income Initiative as essentially, an anti-poverty proposal in the fullest sense — and a way to establish a local base for establishing a model for a Basic Income that can help anybody who is currently poor, and also reduce the real and often paralyzing fear of poverty for all in the future. AND we are especially excited by our plans because we believe that any current Basic Income Movement can only succeed  in today’s precarious political economy if it also has significant numbers of poor people meaningfully involved from the beginning — along with other anti-poverty, labor, and community allies.  Otherwise BI is just another interesting policy scheme which will be discussed by policy wonks and academics forever. And, if it ever were to be enacted without such input, the result will likely shortchange the very people who are most deeply connected with poverty.

On the other hand, if all who see the imperative for a Basic Income can fully include, listen to, and take leadership from those who know deep economic/social insecurity and precarity in their own lives and within their communities, we may have a chance “to keep on keeping on.” Besides, if we can all take turns on the soapbox. our work becomes less lonely and more grounded.

Ann Withorn, our Director (un-paid) has engaged in related activity for many years — primarily though speaking at academic and organizationally-sponsored settings and through writing and media opportunities. From the start of her BI involvement in 1988 she has attempted to link the Basic Income and Welfare Rights Movements. Now a Professor emeritus from the College of Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Professor Withorn plans to play a leadership role in this Initiative based on her 40 years working with her adult students and activists in the Boston-area social justice community. She will also bring years of writing and collaborative experience to the effort, and especially to the production of the “BI Model for Poor People”

Suezanne Bruce, the Initiative’s Coordinator/Organizer, also brings extensive personal and profession experience with realities of poverty and front-line work around economic rights, anti-racism health access, plus experience with criminal justice, substance and domestic abuse and homelessness organizations. Ms. Bruce is well known locally for this work –across a wide range of Boston area community settings. Recently she graduated as a Community Fellow from Tufts University with a Masters in Urban and Environmental Planning, Ms. Bruce brings newly honed research and administrative skills to our Initiative.

In short, both Withorn and Bruce contribute wide knowledge, varied skills and extensive contacts to the Massachusetts Basic Income Initiative, as do our potential Advisors and community allies. That this combination of people will be actively involved is, in itself, a sign that MBII will interact with more than the set of the “usual suspects” who traditionally define Basic Income efforts.

 Related Sites

http://www.survivorsInc.org

http://www.ppuf.org

http://www.dsni.org

http://www.socialwelfareactionosallianec.org

http://www.radicalReentry.com

FB Woman Action Group