After nearly two years of preparation, Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN) celebrated its kick-off convention Tuesday at Light of the World Christian Church. More than 1,700 people packed the main hall, leaving only standing room for the late arrivals struggling to find parking.
A procession of clergy from more than 28 participating congregations opened the convention, followed by an opening prayer, interfaith reflection, and personal narratives of social and economic hardship that IndyCAN wants to address.
Introductions and financial pledges from participating congregations followed and were met by emphatic cheers from supporters in the audience. IndyCAN is adamant in being nonpartisan, but that didn't stop an energetic crowd from reworking President Obama's campaign slogan into the organizations own "yes we IndyCAN" chant.
As each speaker arrived at the podium, IndyCAN's agenda became clear: collaborate with policy-makers to remove barriers to employment, emphasize family sustaining wages, and dramatically reduce violence. The organization is not overwhelmed by its broad vision. Instead, it views its mission as an excellent opportunity for the city to capitalize on the success of recent public-private partnerships.
Mark Miles, president and CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, spoke briefly on public transportation, unemployment, and the importance of targeted career training.
“Some say the Super Bowl was historic,” said Mark Miles, who also served as chairman of the Super Bowl Host Committee. “Well I’m here to tell you that IndyCAN is historic.”
In maybe the most emphatic speech of the night, Carolyn Higginbotham of Central Christian Church aroused several standing ovations from the ethnically diverse crowd. Ms. Higginbotham touched on a number of hot-button issues, including the DREAM Act, inner city violence, and employment laws for Hoosiers with criminal records.
A lull in the excitement arrived following news that the event's honored speaker, Mayor Ballard, was not in attendance.
“Mayor Ballard’s hallmark is building collaborations,” his representative declared. The irony was not lost on the crowd amidst unenthusiastic applause, hushed whispers and scattered boos. IndyCAN leaders will meet privately with Mayor Ballard on March 20.
Following this, City-County Council President Maggie Lewis took the stage.
“I am excited to learn that the City-County Council's priorities — crime, education, transportation, and jobs, jobs, jobs — are in line with those of IndyCAN,” she said to a roar of approval.
Paul Ciesielski, Chief of IMPD, attended in support of creating a safer Indianapolis. Operation Ceasefire, a key part of IndyCAN’s effort to reduce violence, is operational in cities across the country and has proven to reduce violence by as much as 60 percent. The program has strong approval from Public Safety Director Frank Straub.
In the coming months, IndyCAN plans to talk to an additional 10,000 people connected to its congregations. What its members learn from these conversations will be directly relayed to public officials through eight public forums, as well as individual meetings with Mayor Ballard and Director Straub. In doing so, IndyCAN will begin looking for concrete methods to increase civic engagement and bring about long-term measurable change for struggling Indianapolis families and citizens.
Tags: IndyCAN, Indianapolis Congregation Action Network, Frank Straub, Maggie Lewis, Mark Miles, Super Bowl, Mayor Greg Ballard, DREAM Act, inner city violence, employment laws, Feature, Image, Feature
A local action group founded by Innovative Indy Summit aims to create a local currency for Central Indiana. Their philosophy comes from Bernard Leitear, former president of Belgium’s Electronic Payment System and current fellow at the Center for Sustainable Resources at the University of California at Berkeley.
Leitear believes, “Money is like an iron ring we've put through our noses. We've forgotten that we designed it, and it's now leading us around. I think it's time to figure out where we want to go — in my opinion toward sustainability and community — and then design a money system that gets us there.”
Members of this currency group wonder why so many people remain homeless and starving, and why so many people struggle to find employment and stay out of debt. Money creates these problems and in order to find a solution, they believe people must first define their goals and then find a currency system that works within these goals.
The goal should be creating sustainability within the community, and this group believes a local currency will allow Central Indiana to achieve this goal.
Katherine Boyles Ogawa, the group’s leader, says, “I’ve been fascinated by the possibilities of local currencies for a long time. If there were one thing I could do to really make a fundamental improvement in my community, it would be to create a viable community currency.”
On March 5, Innovative Indy and members of this local currency group will host an event at the Chase Near East Side Legacy Center from 6:30-8 p.m. The group asks the public to attend this event in order to receive feedback from the community about their vision of a local currency.
Rhonda Baird, a Permaculture Design teacher and co-founder of Bloomington Community Exchange, will kick off the evening with an informative talk about currency, which will be followed by a moderated discussion where the public can sound off about their concerns for the future of Central Indiana’s economy and offer their opinions about a local currency.
This feedback will be integral to the action group’s efforts to design a currency that will best serve the needs of local residents.
Plenty of people are volunteering to deliver Thanksgiving meals to people in need, but organizers at the Mozel Sanders Foundation say they've received less than 50 percent of the total cash donations needed to fund the annual dinner.
The foundation has about $36,000 to fund their annual Thanksgiving Day dinner delivery for about 25,000 people in need across the city. It needs about $77,000, Stephanie Sanders, a foundation co-chair, said in a phone call Friday.
It's always down the wire," she said, noting that some corporate donations are beginning to come in.
"If every volunteer would just give a dollar, we'd be alright."
The event is volunteer driven, with people delivering meals from satellite locations all around the city.
The foundation and its Thanksgiving dinner are named in honor of the Rev. Dr. Mozel Sanders, who became pastor of Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis in 1959.
The Thanksgiving Dinner Event has served more than 25,000 dinners to families each year for the last seven years, according to the foundation website. For more than ten years, in addition to the Thanksgiving hot meals, the MSF has also given thousands of pounds of staple groceries each month from Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church.
Donations to support the Mozel Sanders Foundation's delivery of hot Thanksgiving meals to people in need may be sent to:
The Mozel Sanders Foundation
709 N. Belmont Indianapolis 46222
Professor and activist Beverly Greene specializes in studying the roles that oppression, marginalization and privilege play in identity issues.
"[G]rowing up we were free to question a lot of things, and we weren't given this message that there are these fixed things in the world that always are and you always have to think this way, or people are always this or always that, but that people are complicated," Greene told interviewer Max Chewinski in Psychology's Feminist Voices Multimedia Internet Archive.
This background, Chewinski observed, formed a "critical view of human behavior" resulting in Greene's attraction to absorbing "narratives about how people became who they are" as well as "what they do with that information" and using psychology to frame these narratives and "using feminism within psychology to broaden that lens".
Greene teaches psychology at St. John’s University and practices clinical psychologist in New York City. The award-winning author has written nearly 100 books and articles covering topics such as religion, social marginalization and same-sex marriage and the legacies of racism and sexism in the lives of black mothers and daughters.
“Greene is a huge literary figure in psychology and activism,” said Ekta Kumar, a fourth year doctoral student in psychology at UIndy. She helped organize the lecture and invite Greene to the university.
“We were amazed she’d come out to Indianapolis from New York for us,” Kumar said. Greene will discuss “What Difference Does Difference Make?” in a talk scheduled from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Oct. 6 in UIndy’s Schwitzer Student Center Hall A. A reception with refreshments will follow.
Kumar said that students are often reluctant to discuss diversity and don’t think it’s still a prevalent subject but Greene will be addressing that topic in depth.
“She will be giving a general talk of why it’s important to talk about differences between one another and social privilege.” Kumar said.
The lecture precedes a continuing education workshop, “Intersections of Identities in Psychotherapy; Ethical & Clinical Challenges in Addressing Sexuality and Religious/Spiritual Beliefs in Psychotherapy,” from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 7 at UIndy’s Schwitzer Student Center.
In addition to her lecture, Green will present at the workshop.
The workshop is focused toward clinical psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers and; graduate students, but anyone interested in the research topics is welcome.
Greene has received 27 national awards for her publications and contributions to the field, including the American Psychological Association’s 2009 Senior Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest. In addition to her many awards, she also received APA’s Laura Brown Award for "outstanding contributions in advancing lesbian and bisexual women’s psychology in the areas of scholarship, teaching, practice, and/or activism in 2010."
Her visit is funded and presented by the Katharine Ratliff Memorial Conference on Ethics, Values and Human Responsibility and co-sponsored by UIndy’s School of Psychological Sciences and the campus chapter of Active Minds.
The registration deadline for the workshop is October 4. Registration may be available at the door as well if space permits for an additional $25 fee. Lunch will be available as well.
Call (317) 788-6134 for additional information about the events and to register for the workshop.
A fact sheet produced by the Urban
Institute shows that the number of Hoosiers who are receiving Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance — also known as food stamps — has increased by
39 percent from 2007 through 2010.
That's higher than the growth in Kentucky
and Illinois but significantly lower than in Ohio and Michigan, where the
economy has hit hard.
The number of food stamp recipients grew
by 49 percent in Ohio and by 47 percent in Michigan during the three-year
The highest growth was in Nevada, where
the number of recipients grew by 128 percent. The lowest growth was in
Arkansas, according to the Urban Institute.
the number of food stamp recipients is up roughly 69 percent to about 45
The above is one of an ongoing series of reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.
Bil Browning, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Bilerico Project, is an honoree in the annual National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association media awards. Browning won first place for Excellence in Online Journalism.
Established by NLGJA more than a decade ago to ‘foster, recognize and reward excellence in journalism related to the LGBT community,” The 'Excellence in Journalism Awards' are given for news writing, feature writing, opinion writing, network television, radio, online, photojournalism, HIV/AIDS and student journalism. Additionally, the organization recognizes a Journalist of the Year and a Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT media.
Browning won for his reporting on the plight of HIV+ Haitian immigrant Betsie Gallardo which began with a December 23, 2010 blog entitled “A Christmas Miracle for Betsie Gallardo":
Betsie Gallardo was a dying HIV+ Haitian child when missionary Jessica Bussert adopted both Betsie and her sister, Germaine. Betsie grew up in one of Haiti's worst slums where she was regularly sexually abused by a local policeman. Jessica brought the two girls home to America and Betsie responded well to treatment and has grown into a beautiful young woman - a ballet dancer.
Betsie moved to Florida recently and was in a car accident. When the emergency responders arrived, she flashed back to the horrendous abuse she suffered at the hands of that Haitian policeman and resisted arrest. She spit at a cop. The state of Florida sentenced her to five years in prison for battery on a police officer using spit as a deadly weapon - even though it isn't possible to transmit HIV through saliva.
Betsie has now been diagnosed with stage four cancer and is dying. After she didn't contact her family for over a week, her family traveled to Florida to check on her and discovered that doctors had discovered an inoperable bowel blockage. Betsie is unable to take in any food and is slowly starving to death in prison. The state has decided to refuse Betsie IV nutrition saying, "She's going to die sooner or later."
The Broward Correctional Institution warden has allowed her family to visit with her twice in the infirmary but was notified yesterday that there will be no more "special consideration." Since Betsie is too ill to have visitors during normal visiting hours, her family has been barred from seeing her. Their request to be at her bedside as she died was also denied.
As a result of Browning’s blog and the ensuing response by readers of Bilerico and other media outlets that picked up the story, Florida officials released Gallardo to a hospice on January 6, where she was allowed medical treatment and the company of her family before dying on January 31, 2011.
The tragic story of Betsie Gallardo is but one example of the type of social justice reporting Browning and other writers at Bilerico have become known for over the past few years, and the recognition for the important work has not been in short supply.
In 2009, the Advocate named Bilerico the ‘Top Political Blog’ and the Washington Post called Bilerico a ‘must read.’ NUVO readers will remember that the blog as a winner in both the 2010 and 2009 Best of Indy Readers Poll, for best local blog. Nationally, the blog most recently won the NYC Anti-Violence Project's Courage Award and the LA Stonewall Democrats' Bob Craig Media Award.
Congratulations, Bil! Keep up the great work.
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Heath Administration (IOSHA) has cited Indianapolis' most notorious hotel for a number of glaring health and safety violations, following complaints by housekeepers in November of last year.
The Hyatt Regency Indianpolis and its subcontractor Hospitality Staffing Solutions (HSS) have been slapped with safety orders and proposed fines that total more than $50,000 between the two companies.
According to a press release circulated Tuesday by the city's chapter of national labor union Unite Here!:
Two ‘serious’ safety orders issued to Hyatt include allegedly failing to train HSS subcontracted workers on chemical hazards and on bloodborne pathogens such as blood, needles and other potentially infectious materials that housekeepers had potential exposure to as part of their regular duties. According to OSHA, “a serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.” IOSHA also cited the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis alleging that it failed to record illnesses and injuries on OSHA forms of HSS subcontracted workers who suffered recordable injuries while working at the Hyatt. Proposed penalties for safety orders issued to Hyatt total $4,400.
The release continues:
IOSHA issued a “knowing” safety order, the highest level safety order that Indiana OSHA issues with a more severe proposed penalty of $40,000 to HSS alleging that it failed to turn over injury records and delayed in providing other injury files despite repeated requests. IOSHA has described ‘knowing’ safety orders in the past as the most serious safety violations possible by an employer. Serious citations were issued to HSS alleging that it failed to train its employees on chemical and bloodborne pathogen hazards and other recordkeeping irregularities. Additional proposed fines bring the total for HSS to $49,900.Â The orders and proposed fines become final unless Hyatt and HSS seek administrative review within 15 working days to challenge them.
According to a study published in the February 2010 issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, housekeepers working at Hyatt locations had the highest injury rate in a group of 50 U.S. hotels operated by the top five hotel companies.
The Chicago Area Committee on Occupational Safety and Health assisted the Hyatt employees who lodged the complaints triggering the inspections.
When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, he was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers fighting for the right to unionize.
And while the sermon he gave on the night before he was killed has become famous for its prophetic ‘I’ve been to the mountaintop,’ closing, few remember that King was speaking about labor rights and the struggle for economic equality as central to racial equality in his final public moments.
Always a preacher, King used the parable of the Good Samaritan in order to illustrate the plight of striking workers and the obligation of ‘good’ people to provide support for their cause.
As the parable goes, three men pass a wounded traveler on the side of the road. The first two do not stop to help. The third stops and saves the man’s life.
For both Jesus and Dr. King, the third man is the one to emulate.
“It's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure.
And so the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?"
But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?"
The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?"
The question is, "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?"
That's the question.
King’s final speech wasn’t the only one in which he focused on labor issues and workers’ rights. They were, in fact, key civil rights issues that formed the basis the very democracy to which he dedicated his life and work.
In 1961, for example, King spoke on newly introduced ‘right-to-work’ laws many felt were simply a means to disenfranchise low-income workers, the same type of legislation reappearing (and sparking protests) in Wisconsin and Indiana this year.
"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work.' It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.
It is supported by Southern segregationists who are trying to keep us from achieving our civil rights and our right of equal job opportunity. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone.
Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote."
It is in that spirit, and on the anniversary of Dr. King's death, that labor groups around the United States are calling for a day of rallies in opposition to the re-introduction of 'right to work' and other anti-union legislation. More than 1000 events are scheduled for Monday, April 4, including Indiana.
According to organizers, the goal is “to stand in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and dozens of other states where well-funded, right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life fighting for.”
Here in Indianapolis, union members, community activists, people of faith, students, and a host of other supporters are expected to rally at the Statehouse beginning at 2 p.m.
"Legislators need to know that this is about more than just unions," says local organizer Allison Luthe Carter of Central Indiana Jobs with Justice. "This is about the voters and tax payers who call Indiana home and have built their lives here; and we will stand up to hate, discrimination and greed.""
Not everyone appreciates the efforts to remember Dr. King in the context of his fight for workers' rights, however. Just last week, for example, Glenn Beck mocked labor unions for hijacking King's legacy and re-writing history by holding labor rallies on the anniversary of his death. Listen to Beck, once again, make a complete ass out of himself here:
(Slideshow) Rally for Equality
Hoosiers from around the state gathered at the steps of the Capitol on Monday in support of equal rights for all.
By Mark A. Lee
Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the Indiana statehouse yesterday to protest an aggressive package of Republican legislative reforms they say would harm unions and teachers across the state.
Yesterday's demonstrations were the biggest since a series of labor-led rallies jumped off last month, following an unexpected push by House Republicans to pass the so-called "Right-to-Work" bill (RTW), which would have effectively eliminated collective bargaining powers among private sector unions statewide.
Indiana State Police estimated more than 8,000 people turned up at yesterday's rally — based on estimates drawn from overhead photography, a spokesman told NUVO. Organizers uniformly disputed that estimate, putting the crowd closer to 20,000, based on a comparison with an earlier rally that drew 10,000.
Buses jammed the streets around the statehouse for hours as protesters amassed to huddle together in freezing temperatures and cutting winds at the west entrance to the Capitol. Jeff Harris, a spokesman for the Indiana AFL-CIO, said around 230 buses had arrived carrying protesters throughout the morning.
Harris also said the AFL-CIO had received four reports of buses having been pulled over by State Police for tailgating on their way to Indianapolis.
From the veranda above the west entrance, singers belted out spirited protest songs and union leaders, teachers and preachers whipped the crowd into excitement, offering chants, prayers and speeches. Above them, government staffers gathered in the windows, observing the crowd.
Inside the statehouse, things were quiet. House Democrats were still absent, most of whom had fled the state weeks ago in an effort to force a compromise on several bills that would have busted unions, expanded charter schools, removed many of teachers' bargaining rights and created a school voucher system that would funnel taxpayer money to private schools.
Rep. Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis) returned to Indiana to speak to the crowd. He said afterward that absent House Democrats stood with the crowd and that the demonstrators were "expressing what we've been fighting for in Urbana," specifically, to "give people the chance to express their true feelings" about the controversial GOP reforms.
Last week, party leaders had asked Crawford, ranking minority member of the House Ways and Means Committee and Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale) the committee's chair, to meet to discuss the budget. Asked about the budget negotiations, Crawford said there had been none.
Crawford said he came to Indianapolis from Urbana last week to meet with Espich, when he received a phone call informing him Espich had declared he would only negotiate on the House floor.
Crawford and Democratic leaders agreed Crawford should turn around and come back to Urbana.
Republicans, meanwhile, were also absent, adding to the quietness inside the statehouse that stood in sharp contrast to the spirited shouts and sloganeering outside. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) had adjourned the House for the rest of the week, stating publicly that the Big Ten Tournament had forced many House members out of their hotel rooms.
Democrats weren't buying it. They accused Republicans of keeping away so as not to face the crowds.
Thousands gather Thursday at statehouse rally
Thousands of protesters gathered from across the state on Thursday to protest an aggressive package of Republican legislation they say would hurt unions and education.
By Daniel Axler and Austin Considine
Tags: unions, labor, afl-cio, jobs with justice, bill crawford, jeff espich, brian bosma, statehouse, indiana general assembly, republicans, democrats, rally, protest, demonstration, buses, indiana state police, Slideshow, Feature, Image, Feature
As we all know by now, House Democrats have been hunkered down out-of-state for over two weeks, in efforts to block an aggressive package of Republican reforms to the state's education system, to organized labor, and to GLBT and reproductive rights statewide.
If the thousands that have shown up downtown over the last few weeks in protest of the GOP agenda are any indication, it's clear Hoosiers have plenty to say about what's going on at the Statehouse right now.
The next 24 hours present two huge opportunities to make your voice heard. A rally tomorrow looks to be the biggest single-day protest yet, with organizers predicting a crowd of more than 25,000.
But tonight, Hoosiers will also have a chance to speak with and hear from House Democrats directly — by way of a phone-in town hall meeting. Anyone with a phone is welcome to join the discussion.
Most of the 37 Democrats who left town, including House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, have been staying in Urbana, Ill. — placing them out of reach for a fair part of the public. That makes tonight's conference call a unique opportunity amid the political drama that's unfolded thus far.
A press announcement from the House Democratic caucus explains:
Hoosiers will have the chance to call in, hear directly from lawmakers and ask them questions about what can be done to join the fight.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. (Eastern Time), 6 p.m. (Central Time). It is expected to last one hour.
To take part, call 1-916-469-4760, then enter 561385.
Whether you agree with the Democrats' efforts or not, it's clear there's a lot at stake in this Republican-controlled legislative session — from the future of unions and schools, to the future of Planned Parenthood, reproductive rights, and equality in marriage.
Regardless of whether you phone-in, there's also tomorrow's "We Are Indiana" rally, beginning at 10 a.m. at the corner of W. Washington St. and N. Capitol Ave., near the Statehouse. Demonstrators for every cause at stake will be there, from union workers to teachers to marriage equality and reproductive rights supporters.
For more details, visit the Facebook page.
Tags: indiana general assembly, unions, right to work, education, organized labor, statehouse, rally, protest, town hall, b. patrick bauer, walkout, urbana, democrats, republicans, gop, glbt, teachers, marriage equality, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, reproductive rights, abortion, planned parenthood of indiana, Feature, Image, Feature
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