Saturday, October 24, 2015

Social Justice, anyone?

Last weekend I went to a one-day conference of Pax Christi an international organization (also PaxChristiUSAwith several local chapters, including the Bay Area Pax Christi.  (Here is a link to the program.) The focus was Social Justice, and there was a very interesting panel to begin the day.  Here's more about the panel members:

I also went to an excellent workshop in the morning entitled "The Housing Crisis, a Catholic Perspective". It was presented by Tim Iglesia, JD, a professor at the University of San Francisco.  He not only gave a very informative and well-organized talk, but he followed it with a very helpful guide to becoming involved, entitled "Steps for Effective Advocacy", which I am already beginning to implement!  For more information on Affordable Housing Resources, go to  And Dr. Iglesias is available as a speaker around the Bay Area if you know of a group who would like to hear his presentation.

Lunch was catered by a local non-profit, Kitchen of Champions.  One of the workers did a short presentation on her experience and the organization.  The food was delicious (Foodies take note!) and I was very impressed by the presentation and the presenter.  I might just have to make my way down to the St. Vincent de Paul kitchen to sample more of their great food... and make a donation to the KofC!

In the afternoon I attended the workshop presented by Elizabeth Murray, entitled, "When Following the Principalities and Powers Becomes a Call to Conversion".  This was partly about Ms. Murray's own experience, but we also spent a good deal of time in the workshop sharing our own experiences of activism and devising ways to promote activism and social justice in our lives.  I left this workshop humbled by the hundreds of years of combined experience in activism among the attendees, and inspired to become more aware and involved, and to spread the word!  

At the end of the day, we gathered again to share our workshop experiences in small groups.  This was very helpful, as the limited one-day schedule permitted each person to attend (completely) at most two of the eleven workshops.  After we shared our experiences, we had one last consciousness-raising event: the awarding of the [I think annual] Pax Christi Northern California Peacemaker Award, and a short talk by the recipient of the award.  The recipient was Lorrain Franklin-Taylor, the founder of 1000 Mothers to Prevent Violence, a wonderful organization formed to serve families who have been directly impacted by violence.  Ms. Franklin-Taylor told her own story about her twin sons being murdered, which you can find here.  I was, for the umpteenth time that day, speechless with admiration and humbled and energized by the words of a person who is now one of my heroes.  

I left with a renewed commitment to finding ways to become active in social justice efforts here in the Bay Area.  As a start, I am creating this post in hopes that my excitement about the Conference will be contagious and inspire others to become involved!  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Food Justice: Community Gardens and other projects

A friend asked me recently about what I thought was a Community Garden at Dover Park.  I discovered that this garden is run by Phat Beets to benefit the community.  The Garden, known as Healthy Hearts Youth Garden, is an ongoing and evolving project, and the organizers welcome community volunteers who can help out on Wednesdays and Sundays.  There is also breakfast at the garden once a month, and other activities are planned throughout the year.  

More about Community Gardens and some related local resources:

list of Community Gardens in Oakland run by the Oakland Parks and Rec -- the volunteer hours for them are here.

A local organization that is connected to Community Gardening (but has other gardening-related projects as well) is Planting Justice.  I keep running into their volunteers, spreading the word and collecting donations, at Berkeley Bowl.  
  • One of the efforts of Planting Justice is to create a 5-acre farm in El Sobrante. I received a very informative email this week about a work day coming up on Tuesday, September 22, with the focus on building swales*. (Email them at or call 510-290-4049 for more info.)  
  • Another project is their collaboration with the Insight Garden Project at San Quentin Prison.  (There are similar programs in other places -- see this article and this one, for some examples.  
  • Planting Justice's "Transform your Yard" program, for people who are interested in back yard gardening but need help getting started, is another of their efforts to weave together many strands to build a better community.

*not a link to PJ, just information about swales.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I just found this blog by a math prof in Minnesota, and wanted to share it with any readers I have who might be interested in math pedagogy and in Talking Math with Kids, about which the same prof has a website.

Just FYI.  And trying to keep track myself for future reference.

Friday, January 02, 2015

My 2014 Lists

[Please check back again soon!  I am in the process of creating and annotating these lists but I'm not at all finished yet...]

Some of my favorite books this year:  
  • Mercy without Borders: The Catholic Worker and Immigration, by Mark and Louise Zwick.  The Zwicks started the Casa Juan Diego House of Hospitality in 1980 in Houston, TX, in response to the flood of homeless refugees from Central America.   This is a powerful story of authentic Christian witness in action and an excellent in-depth discussion and explanation of the connections between poverty, illegal immigration, and fair-trade policies.   
  • Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, by Joyce Rupp.  Joyce Rupp and a friend walked the Camino de Santiago some years ago, and this book describes in a very readable and beautiful manner what walking the Camino meant to her, and the many valuable lessons she and her friend learned while walking.  The Walk changed her way of living in the world, and reading this book helped me to see ways that I need to grow and change.  
  • *The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, by Laurie King.  A young woman meets the famous Sherlock Holmes, who is in retirement, and they begin to solve crimes together.  (That's leaving out a lot!) This is the first in a series of books; I can't wait to get started on the next one!
  • *The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, by Tom Rachman
  • All Clear, by Connie Willis (the last book in a trilogy)
  • Land Grabbing: Journeys in the New Colonialism, by Stefano Liberti
  • The Latehomecomer, by Kao Kalia Yang (actually from Dec. 2013 but too good to leave out)
* indicates book on CD -- I do a lot of my "reading" while driving!


A selection of new places I visited in the Bay Area this year:  
    In San Francisco:             Elsewhere
    Baker Beach                           The Botanical Gardens at Tilden Park
    Crissy Field                             The overlooks on Grizzly Peak Rd.  (excellent views of the Bay)
    The Cable Car Museum        Corte Madera and Mill Valley
    Fort Funston Park                 The Oakland Zoo

The list of places I want to visit next year is growing!