Sunday, June 10, 2007

Recap for June 10, 2007

We heard Julia’s story this morning. In the discussion we talked about forgiveness, its qualities and origins. It seems connected to suffering, and forgivingness requiring a perspective that encourages comparing one instance of suffering with another. Overcoming big challenges might give opportunities to choose what to focus upon—for example, someone’s laugh rather than an offense from another or a personal hardship. Several people told mentioned experiences with Julia where they learned something about forgiveness. One of many memorable statements this morning: “It is harder to not forgive, than to forgive.”

In today’s moral and philosophical discussion, Dexter asked us about the presence of evil, of pain, of devastating events—the question comes to us, why do these things happen? He read from chapter two and three of Job. One of the stories there is about the two friends who accompanied Job, who sat there with him for a week, in a position of mourning, without saying anything. There is an idea to hold on to—to go to someone who is in difficulty, and be with them. At the end of the story, Job cursed the day he was born in rather strong terms. Look it up for a good lamentation. It was Job saying he could not take this any more.

What followed was a comparison of two stories, one a tale of “woe is me” and the other of hearing about family in Real trouble. Stories like Julia’s help us focus, and get away from “woe is me.”

One member said we distinguish between the apparently random harms that come our way, and evil or harms inflicted as a result of the acts of others.

Another member noted that the resources available to us to deal with the deaths of loved ones, or of people close to our friends, seem to come to us the way parenting skills are acquired—a collection of mistakes we made over time. It is very difficult to lose family members. And we look to people who can give us examples of coping for some ideas of how to deal with it.

Some people shared stories that enabled them to understand Job’s account.

One member noted that this society seems to teach most of us a sense of immortality, and separates us from seeing death as a part of the whole life. Several people said we are better off being able to feel a wide range of things, even though a lot of it hurts.

Several members told stories about family violence, and how it is foundational—the early experiences with what we expect as normal, and what it trains us to feel, presents difficulties later on.

One important source of wisdom in all of this is the people who have some experience. We were encouraged to look to those a bit older than us, to sit with them to listen.

More than one person said this discussion is a reminder of why we keep coming back here. There is a lot of listening to each other, and what strikes many of us as genuine caring for what happens to the people who assemble here. Nice community. And several told stories of being with people while they died.

The discussion of evil and suffering and pain leads to a suggestion from Dexter. There are several books of wisdom, and all of them contain things to listen to about suffering, how to frame it, and ideas about how we get through it. Beware of moving to embrace any one of them fundamentally, just as we should be wary of rejecting any of them fundamentally. No one is free of the challenge of dealing with their own suffering. And what is there for us is those friends who, like Job, come around and sit with us.

Dexter reminded us of the characterization of our culture as a Hotel Culture (we expect messes to magically disappear, we move on from one room to another and expect everything to be taken care of). That is quite a different model than one which has some strong traditions about dealing with death. In Jamaica, for example, there is a set of events around a death—a ‘setup’ before a funeral, and a ‘ninth night’ event—that give support, that connects people to the village, that gives the family some time for feeling the loss, and also that comes back and gives a reconnection with the life of the village. So we are encouraged to connect with friends who can make a difference.

More than one member noted how the industry of counseling is a response to much of what we are discussing.

One member noted how strongly personal is the experience of loss, and coming to grips with the death of someone is part of an individual’s experience—friends and community have limits to what they can offer a person. In some fundamental sense we are on our own.

Our discussions ended with encouragement to keep those connections with people that enable us to sit with folks when they need it, and to come over when we need it.

At the end, Dexter told us a bit about the National Leadership Foundation, and that the Conversation is the only place in town where he sees it happening. Take a look at the NLF at

Recap for June 3, 2007

New members (and returnees) introduced.

Allen-Power of Hope, non-profit youth development group (also member of 2012

Susan Carlton Brown, only been here one other time-back from Boulder, CO. Works at PLU.

Sid’s Story

Dexter’s moral and philosophical question of the day.

Went to the NCORE conference. Has been working on the report of the R&P task force. One of the issues is that UPS has made it a value to remain small. Dexter has pushed the university to think big. One area is to provide something that could be an anchor for the R&P initiative—like an Institute. There must still be community involvement, the question is how much, how wide, under what structure.

Went to NCORE to look at how they run their organization. They focus on the human resources area—diversity in hiring, multicultural office etc. They operate out of the U. of Oklahoma and put on a conference that travels to different universities.

First night there was a cruise 1,700 people. Sat across from a white couple. Man was one of the founders of the program (had no idea). Spoke with him for 3 hours.

One session, Sofia Elijah, Claude Marx, Wayne Thompson, Danny Glover presented on the issue Free the SF 8. 8 black men (former Panthers) well known in the community as activists, were charged Jan. 23 in death of a white police officer 36 years ago. 3 or 4 of them were arrested 36 years ago, taken to NO and tortured. Charges were eventually dropped. In 2003, same officers who tortured them showed up at their doors. “Remember me?” One of the methods was the plastic bag.

Sofia Elijah was on the radio talking about it in Louisiana and the host interrupted and said that the use of the plastic bag has not stopped in LA, in fact recently a man died under such treatment. So the 8 men are in jail but no indictment has even been made. 3 grand juries have thrown out. They are in jail based on a “complaint”. Bail is set at 3 million. One of the men died in Dec.

Question: Given the recent attempts to bring to justice crimes against civil rights activists, is this the retaliation of the white side? If Dexter understands it correctly, the charges are now being brought under the auspices of the Patriot Act.

One reason to bring it up is that some of these folks would be willing to come speak to us about the case.

Legacy of Torture: The War Against the Black Liberation Movement is the title of the documentary. There is a bubbling up of a whole new movement among the youth to reestablish the BPP. This is also against the backdrop of the history of the “old war” against the BLM (COINTELPRO). There are efforts to recruit agent provocateurs and other plants to infiltrate these new organizations. As in the past, if the black men refuse to be plants, they are then targeted.

A member pointed out that there are still over 1,000 political prisoners from the 60’s and 70’s.

Another member agreed that black men are often targeted when trying to organize. He believes it will get to brothers being snatched off the street. A friend and mentor was in jail for robbing a bank, finally let out after 6 months, then re-arrested for rape. Still in jail now.

Another member told of instances where these men are drugged and tortured in these jails.

Another comment on the Patriot Act—it seems that as a population, the American people don’t care or don’t see how it affects us. Maybe it would be good to have a discussion on the Act.

Dexter—really thinks that this group could represent a useful way to bring in discussions of the PA and use it as a way of looking at this issue. We could make some contact with the folks

Another member talked about the tactics used by police at the Port Resistance as well as the reporting on the events. A lot of the tactics that were used were under the auspices of the Patriot Act. An email was circulated around about how human rights were violated that was sent to the City Council on the basis that there was a resolution that the city would not violate civil rights, but now ”can’t comment because of lawsuits”, etc.

Another member said given what the power structure did against mostly white, college kids, don’t even want to know what’s going on in Cell Block D.

R&P was an intelligent exposure of the tender underbelly of racial injustice. Whether it’s the flooding of NO, the incarceration of black men, educational inequities, these issues continue to be a call to us to articulate and expose the injustice. How can we, as a community, ensure that the R&P initiative continue? We should continue the discussion about this next week.

A question that we have to address at some point—as Redeeming the Vision was the first coming out event, the next one will be a (loosely called) fall festival.

Last week the V-Team had a discussion about time. We decided to propose that at 11 we officially end our proceedings. If there is a substantive issue that some want to continue on, or if people just want to socialize, can stay. One of the needs that Dexter has is to have this kind of discussion. Quite comfortable with not knowing what the outcome is of these discussions, but the process itself is important.

Community Partners of R&P will meet June 13th at 4pm.

Adjourned at 11:15

Part 2 with those who wanted to continue the discussion.

R&P was a group of people with energy, intellectual commitment and were in the best sense of talk as action, discussing what they were going to do when they got back to their respective institutions. I.e., Oregon University, came as a group and organized their own caucus to strategize. If we can become an incubator for such activities that would really be enough. Politics is the art of the possible.

Community Partners collectively brought 10 of the 60 panels. One thing insisted upon was local representation rather than national speakers—validate the work that local people and groups are doing.

What about a consortium idea—already have it, really with the Community Partners. Multiple universities and community organizations and groups—spread the cost.

Next idea is to have an R&P Anniversary Summit to brainstorm about what can happen in the future of R&P. Community Partners should take the lead on the visioning.

Texas’10% model:

before: 75% of college students came from 10% of high schools

after: Each HS should have 10%

new 10%ers performed better.

Push back came form suburbanites—there should be no more than 50% combined should come from other schools.

Measure failed.

Tacoma is a great place to come for conferences in the summer.

Tension between 2 visions of Tacoma—a place ripe for becoming a model of radicalism and social justice work or a place for the capitalistic aims of the cultural creative class to thrive.

Another session at NCORE was by people from the National Institute on Diversity being developed at U. of Michigan.

Consortium idea is viable-an example is of how we do academic library consortia—by themselves no academic institution can provide all of the necessary library resources.

An observation from a new member is that in terms of group dynamics, we often fall into student:teacher mode rather than dialogue with each other. It would be great


Tom circulated a Petition to TPS School Board and Superintendent.

A member brought up a news item that reports a danger in toothpaste. Diethylene Glycol (DEG) an ingredient in toothpaste, esp. when made in China. Same ingredient is in anti-freeze. Don't use.

June 16th - Juneteeth in the Park People’s Park 2012, Dawud Mateen, gospel, fraternities, other speakers.

Later that night, Dawud Mateen and a really great local reggae group, Laborer will be at One Heart Cafe

Traditional Caballeros celebration as well.

Recap for May 27, 2007

We had guests today.

Rose Ehart UP City Council Candidate
Lauren Walker Tacoma City Council Candidate
Marilyn Strickland Tacoma City Council Candidate
Laura James Tacoma School Board Candidate

We heard Noah’s Story and something that was apparent to all is that one of the most important things in his life are relationships.

Tom introduced candidates by saying they are running for positions that will have to make decisions about fair housing and other issues relevant to this group and the city as a whole, especially the affordable housing moratorium.

Rose Ehart:

Background in real estate. Property management etc. Passion for people in need. Raised with as a value. Many times as a property manager, someone’s rental check would come back that they didn’t pay Sears bill, but they did pay the rent. (Sometimes you need to get mercy), would look at the things that matter. Lots of prejudices about people and whether they should live in certain “really nice” properties. Work with people on fair housing comes back to you positively. Do not want our city to be pricing people out. Will be pushing housing affordability not affordable housing.

Marilyn Strickland:

Mom and dad bought a $15,000 house, but it took her until 40 years old to buy first home. Understands affordability issue. Live downtown and see maybe 5 people pf color in bldg. Construction projects going up, need for jobs and apprenticeships, especially people of color.

Lauren Walker:

Runs a non-profit housing discrimination organization. Want to get rid of as first thing: the “no low income housing in downtown” approach. Lived in Hilltop for last 17 years. Only place that could afford. Had lived in Boston in richly diverse community. Became president of HAC. Focused on home ownership to build more stability in neighborhood. She thinks it had more of an impact than block watches. However, now what we have is gentrification. Instead of just letting market forces determine what kinds of development on Hilltop, especially MLK, we should be using zoning laws to ensure that mixed use development happens.

Laura James:

She has not yet made a public announcement about candidacy but intends to seek eection to the Tacoma School Board. Has been a substitute teacher and worked with administration. Is a citizen of the US and has lived here for over 30 years, and in Tacoma for 25.

Volunteer at Al Davies, 1st VP of Assoc. of Colored Women’s Clubs—looking for a new bldg. (hopefully prices will not go up too much), on board of Maxine Mimms Academies. Concerned about drop outs. Has also worked with JRA (met Noah there and brought him on board with their activities).

Priorities were to get educated in preparation for running for this office. Undergrad degree in Phys Ed. and master’s degrees in Org Systems Renewal and in Ed. Leadership. Need to design programs for kids who have trouble to ensure they have a place to be while we help them get straight.


One member talked about being a LatchKey kid and how hugely helpful that was to her mother. Also, transition from elementary to middle school is very difficult.

Question: what would candidates do to ensure that Hilltop remains mixed, culturally and economically.

Marilyn: As an example-Brown’s Star Grill (a community landmark recently shut down by the city)--what if we had a development in that old building and had a library housed as ground floor tenant as anchor that draws people.

Another member talked about Weed and Seed, Empowerment Zones etc. and how they are “pimped” all over the country. What if neighborhood people could apply for funding to grow a project in the neighborhood.

Lauren: re market forces—simple things, such as requiring the use of people of color in advertising—one thing Fair Housing is doing is as part of a grant to analyze who people have sold homes to and then look for gaps. Have housing providers and developers think together about building community rather than just buildings.

Marilyn: You want developers here, but have to balance respect for fact that they want to make money.


Get public involved and learn what needs are, incentives to builders, we're going to give tax breaks, but with strings. It’s more than building a project, it’s community building. You’re going to have to pull in people from different income ranges, hire diverse people so they have the income to buy. Not just $ that have to pencil out. Need to have an active council that brings the people in so they are not ignored.

Tom-Housing Affordability Part 2

Through regulation we design communities. If we were going to make room for homeless, for affordability we have to pay attention. Created a task force 2006. Commend the workbook on Housing Affordability that the task force produced to the candidates in the room.
Charged with addressing housing needs for all economic sectors with focus on low income.

Tom gave the Executive Summary of the report.

The full text of the report is available at our new companion site Conversation Documents.

37,000 unit housing shortfall is a high pitch to hit. Have to convince 22 cities and towns that they need to share the burden. This is the issue that will be before the regional council.

Fair share in 2022 would mean that in unincorporated area we would need 5,000+ housing units.

Tacoma 8,000+, etc.

Affordable Housing was a market concept—looked at housing available in market and looked at what was most affordable.

Housing affordability looks at it from a renter/seller standpoint—should not be more than 30% of income.

Marilyn: Has Tacoma City council seen and approved? Tom—they need to but don’t think they have. These need to get to the cities and towns, but approach has been to get buy in from regional council first.

Lauren: commends Tom and the task force (very diverse). Question of how affordability is bad is a perception in the public. Did task force deal with that? Tom—yes, in the report you’ll see examples of attempts to educate folks.

One member-advertising that shows diversity doesn’t just tell people of color that they’re welcome, but also is important for people used to white privilege that they need to get used to mixed neighborhoods.

One member who lived in historic McIlveigh bldg. never could afford a home. Got hit by a bus and got a home. Need to deconstruct the term affordable housing. Land in downtown is owned and there is no room for housing.


Listening to the conversation about housing really opens her eyes. It seems we have to look at our language about affordable housing.

Lauren: Even fair share is a difficult concept to get people to accept, it being used to describe housing/programs.

One member talked about the issue of “public perception” and which “public” it is that we are talking about. It is a certain segment—white middle and upper class folks and they are the ones with the most political and economic clout and they get what they want.

Another talked about the race and class dynamics as well as the language that sometimes reinforces the perceptions out there, even words like “burden”.

Moral & Philosophical Question:

Dexter began by reminding us that US society is anchored by its Judeo-Christian heritage and its concepts of justice and fairness.

He read to us from Micah Ch. 2 "Woe to those who devise iniquity...

and work evil on their beds!"

And Psalms 113 "Who is like unto the Lord—he raises the poor from the dust…"

National Alliance to End Homelessness notes that homelessness is a recent phenomenon which really started in the 60’s and exploded in the 80s in the move to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill.

A Canadian journalist won an award for a report on homelessness in LA—10,000 live in a tent city.

In 1964, MLK noted that The US has the resources to end poverty. Bookbinder said that adequate resources were available (3 trillion would be needed), but was not dismayed as he acknowledged that it could be done.

MLK Jr. was quite harsh on tokenism. "He who sells you the token instead of the coin always retains the power to revoke it’s worth.”

Look at people in political office in this city. Love to promote that we are the most diverse population in state—but look at city council. A few black faces in high places, a few brown still around, but black and brown agenda is still on the ground. Obama can be applauded, but he is only one of 100 senators.

1,185 Americans have served in senate, only 5 have been black 2 were appointed to finish seats left vacant.

92 years before Edward Brook elected in 1967

36 years after that until Carol Mosely Braun.

35 women, right now 16 among the 100.

You running have a double responsibility—have to work hard to create coattails so others can come on board also.

Close front door open the back door and make sure that homeless move quickly to get into homes.

Why do we have homelessness? Housing stock has declined and real income has declined.

One member talked about Harry Shearer’s interview with Al Gore and regard to Iraq war it’s American people’s complacency that perpetuates the war and other injustices.

A response was, ask not for whom the bell tolls, addressed specifically to the author of The Assault on Reason.

One member suggested that there are some buildings that could be refurbished to house homeless.


People of color and women have both diminished. How do we get the youth of today to be interested in politics?

Dexter: It should come as no surprise to us that the top 1% of households owned 50% of corporate wealth in US. Elected officials are squarely in this category. After 10 years of declines of real earnings, the paltry min. wage is increased only as part of war spending bill.


Even at the local level you have to have money to win.


Dear Superintendent Milligan letter is available. A member brought copies. Impetus was a meeting in community to draw attention to the issue of morale, superintendent’s lack of responsiveness etc.

One member had an opportunity to meet with TPS union about nexus of interests between them and citizens and how to send a message on June 14th. If changes resonate with you, consider signing petition.

2 members quoted in TNT about Milligan

A member offered the idea that young people love doing jobs, so if you have access to a work party and offer hot dogs, get kids in on the process of the work party.

Rose: If no plans for this Fri night campaign kick off. Party with some regular people As well as some elected officials. 5:30-7:30 UP Town Hall