Monday, December 5, 2011

How I woke up one day and discovered I was a radical

I am a pretty average Finn. All Finns are social democrats, no matter what party they tell you they belong to, because even the right wing in Finland believes in free education, national healthcare, and not letting anyone get too rich lest they think they're better than other people.

My mother's side of my family represents a fairly typical Nordic success story, having gone from starving poverty to comfortable middle class in three generations. It wasn't a free ride on government handouts. My great-grandfather starved to death in a concentration camp after taking part in the 1917 attempt at Communist revolution in Finland. My great-grandmother served two years in prison after killing a baby she couldn't support, and went on to raise five children to productive adulthood, one of them my incredibly hardworking grandmother. Grandma was widowed early, when my war veteran grandfather died after a drunk driving incident, and raised her two surviving kids (one died by drowning at age 7) on her salary as a mail carrier. She brought my mother up to believe in beauty, and made sure there was real art on her walls. My parents both had fulfilling careers without a college education, and are now safely retired. Their health care is taken care of. I count my blessings every day for the free education that made me the first university graduate in my family, and for the freedom I enjoy because I don't have the huge financial burden of elder care and loans that Americans are shouldered with. My stepson has access to a free university degree in Europe. How can anybody say that all this is not worth a 40% tax rate?

What I want for everyone is what my family had: a fighting chance. What I want is for children to be born like me: into countries where labor and the left have selflessly fought the battles that make fairness a fact of life - not sold out to lobbyists and corporate interests. This should be a piece of cake in the industrialized west. We should now be working on how to make equality of opportunity a global right in a globalized world. Not bickering over whether it's fair that a billionaire "job creator" may have to give up on a slightly larger yacht this year.

I am a lucky immigrant for having come to America from a "socialist" country. If I end up destitute after an illness that my insurance won't cover, all I need is to scrounge up enough money for a ticket back to Finland. They'll take care of me there.

With the "mainstream" now pushed so far right in the American political discourse that we have the Democrats passing a watered-down version of a Republican health plan and helping bankers get enormous bonuses for nearly destroying the entire world economy, where the hell do you think that leaves me? With the so-called social democrats "working within" the liberal industrial complex that's been bought by Wall Street, while the Democrats fall all over themselves pretending they don't exist?

By simply acknowledging what I believe - and what apparently a majority of Americans believe, if you don't tell them it's called "socialism" - I have fallen off the political map.

I want to be associated with people who actually give a shit, and aren't looking to use me for something in some campaign that is mainly about their own career or some other interest that's not being mentioned out loud.

And like so many others, I feel like the Occupy movement, started by anarchists, is where I suddenly have space to express my - still, I think, pretty mainstream - opinions, without being branded a loony and a dangerous person.

(It's not the first time I find myself breaking bread with anarchists when I'm trying to express some really very non-extreme opinion. When the G.W. Bush administration was threatening to attack Iraq for having imaginary WMD, I found myself at a protest in Helsinki, marching to the American embassy side by side with anarchists under the red and the black. Laughing at the anarchist jokes - "Come on guys, don't stop in front of other people! Didn't anybody here go to the Army?" - and finding mad respect in my heart for the two guys carrying the nearly passed-out fellow with "Junkies for peace" scrawled in marker on his forehead.)

You don't leave me a choice, oh Political Map of America. I don't necessarily believe that abolishing repressive systems will end repression (I tend to believe that humans secrete repressive systems like spiders poop webs), but I'm starting to think that since our systems are so completely broken and corrupt, and immune to the actual will of the people, hell, maybe we need to smash the whole thing and start over. Maybe the conversation needs to be had entirely outside the existing paradigm, which has been entirely co-opted and is no longer useful. Otherwise all we have left is manufactured consent fueled by emotional masturbation, masking a massive clusterfuck of injustice and greed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Memorial Service at St. Andrew's Plaza

You might have noticed that at St. Andrew’s Plaza there is a memorial in the center of the stage we built for National Night Out. This was put together by some of the park patrons who knew Taj-Mall, a young single mother, pregnant with her second child. While sitting at St. Andrew’s Plaza she began to hemorrhage and hours later was declared dead at highland Hospital. These are all the details that we have. Out of respect we didn’t clean the Plaza as scheduled last Saturday.

This Friday, December 2nd, 5pm, Neighbors, Spc2 members, and our Pastors Lankford, Lowery and Martin help us say goodbye in a dignified manner to Taj-Mall. After the memorial service her family and friends will remove the park memorial.

Our hope is that this will help bring closure to Taj-Mall’s friends and family who miss her and will continue to love her.

Please come join us. St. Andrew's Plaza is located at the corner of Filbert St. and San Pablo Avenue.

Last but not least community meeting of the year!



McClymonds High School 
6:00pm Second Floor Library
Meeting Agenda:
• California Hotel Developer’s Update and Window Displays
• Alliance Recycling Presentation and Community Q&A
• Cass Recycling Presentation and Community Q&A (not confirmed)
• SPc2 Committee Reports
• San Pablo Corridor Commercial Redevelopment Efforts
• St. Andrew’s Plaza renovation plans, Jobs, Community Outreach



Tell metal recyclers how their business affects our community life. Hear all about the new developments at the California Hotel. And more!



SAN PABLO CORRIDOR COALITION
Bring something to share  •  Bring a smile  •  Bring a warm hug



Friday, September 2, 2011

Calling all Active and Lovely People in West Oakland












The next San Pablo Corridor Coalition Neighborhood Meeting is coming up! Come join your neighbors and various City representatives for fruitful discussion, find out about how you can be active in your neighborhood, buy a house, find a job, protect the environment, or just check out if anyone brought cookies.

West Oakland is an active, exciting, powerful neighborhood. We can all work together to make sure we are heard and that our voice counts.

The meeting is on Thursday September 8th, at 6:30PM at the Library of the historic McClymonds High School, 2607 Myrtle Street, Oakland.

The agenda is packed with great stuff:

Guest Speaker:

• Mayor’s Office
-Update on Parcel Tax, City Budget and Small Business Month

• Redevelopment Agency Staff, (West Oakland Specific Plan Steering Committee)
West Oakland is undergoing a thorough study that will chance the way we live and work
Come ask your questions - be part of the process

• Lily Smith, (Alliance Metals and West Oakland Alliance Foundation)
Special presentation followed by Q&A
Learn about Alliance Recycling & their efforts to work within our neighborhood

Tom McCoy, WOGI, Director
West Oakland Green Initiative
-Do you want a free tree? It’s FREE!
351 Trees to be planted in West Oakland before the end of the year.

St. Andrew’s Plaza:
• Alex Miller-Cole, Beautification and Sustainability Committee chair
-Unveiling of “first draft” plans, renderings and general idea behind renovations

Financing and home ownership opportunities:
• Alex Miller-Cole, San Pablo Corridor Coalition Chair
-West Oakland has unique opportunities and we need to know about them

West Oakland Voter Registration Effort:
• Ron Muhammad, West Oakland Network, Director
We need to show that West Oakland counts! It is up to all of us. We must make our
voice heard.

Market Street Waterworld

The 2500 block of Market Street is afloat with water, due to the flocking of mermaids into their underground caves for winter hibernation.

Beware that the street may be dangerous to drive on. Should you find any lost mermaids, please call the City of Oakland Mythology Patrol. Any stray mermaids and sirens will be returned to the wild, so that they can attempt re-flocking.

The mermaid caves are under the San Pablo Avenue - Market Street crossroads. This accounts for many uncanny phenomena seen in that area.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Society Pages






















A fabulous soirée was had at the lovely Alex and Chris Miller-Cole residence this Friday, with many of West Oakland's movers and shakers in attendance. Discussion topics ranged from gang injunctions to Greek tragedy and Moroccan lamps. Just a bunch of neighbors, taking a quick cocktail break from changing the world.


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