December 26th, 2015

The Center for the Working Poor in the last year has had a lot of coming and going. After forming 99Rise in our living room just after the Occupy movement in 2012, we have held weekly meetings at the Center. However, in the last few months, it has largely been absent from the house. Kai Newkirk moved out of the house in late spring and is building capacity for a huge protest in Washington DC in the Fall, so he is mostly located there. He still comes back occasionally to visit, the Center is still 99Rise’s fiscal sponsor, Paul is on the advisory board, and house-member, Alex Stevens, is still on the board of 99Rise, so we keep in touch with the organization.

Kai Newkirk left the laundry room and his bed on the balcony, so he could commit more time to organizing on the east coast. We will miss his great ability to make up funny songs at our hootenannies, and his capacity to geek out with Paul Engler and talk for hours about civil rights history, among other talents. Alex Acuña, who still works at a local Community Group (ACCE), moved out when he found a room at a house filled with old friends of his from college days at Occidental college.

We have received two wonderful new community members, Pam Hope, and Nicole Sahabian. Pam Hope works at CLUE, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, which was our fiscal sponsor in our early days; CLUE has always been good friends of ours over the years. Pam is an amazing fundraiser and networker. She has a special gift as, what she has called, a modern social justice “match maker”– between people with talent, causes that need help, and people that have money and want to help. She is really, really nice. She is humble about it, but her talents have made many things happening throughout her life including cofounding a non-profit called Colette’s Children’s Home, that provides temporary housing for homeless mothers and children.

Nicole came to the Center through our relationship with the Relational Center. She is a volunteer trainer for a variety of trainings there including, Get Empathy, a youth leadership, and anti-bullying program, that Paul Engler helped start 3 years ago.
She was just so excited to have more community which the Center for the Working Poor provided. Although a lot of our politics, spirituality, and culture are new to her, she has an amazing energy to want to try things, learn, grow, and laugh. Her energy is infectious. Her first month at the house was like a little renaissance at the Center, as people started hanging out and talking more together. She also has an amazing talent to be able to dance all night long doing swing, go go dancing, or soul music after Centering Prayer on Mondays.

Alex Stevens is still working at Nation Builder, helping mainly social justice groups with their online, Internet capacities.

Rebekah Berndt has been investing a good portion of time that she is not doing her job as a nurse to her spiritual practice whether in a Spiritual direction program at Stillpoint, forming a, Artist’s Way group, being the chair of our centering prayer meeting, or doing writing for our New Monastic group. The interspiritual New Monastic group, formed last summer by Adam Bucko and Rory McEntee, is forming a network with Paul and Rebekah as members of the Center and others around the country that are interested in living in intentional communities, having a contemplative spiritual practice, and supporting social justice issues.

Paul Engler just got back from his 40 day spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius. He has been very busy over the last year with the writing of his book, This is an Uprising, which is coming out in February. In addition, the momentum training institute which he helped start continues. Momentum training is expanding, doing a half dozen trainings all around the country for hundreds of activists from Black Lives Matter, to climate justice groups, to labor groups, to immigrant rights groups, so he has been traveling often all around the country.

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