2022 House Journal

December 19th, 2022

I’m happy to report that our community has stabilized at the Center for the Working Poor house. We haven’t had one person leave in the past year! A welcome contrast to 2021, when we had so many people come and go it’s hard to even keep track.

Garrett Allen, after being part of the community for half a year, with his partner Hanna, became interested in becoming a Center for the Working Poor Fellow—living in voluntary simplicity, and working full-time with the Center. He has since become an important part of our work, doing everything from administration to writing for our project to create a 12-step program for everyone, which we’re calling False Selves Anonymous. He’s also been enthusiastic about embracing our grand integral project of mixing deep personal transformation work with activism and organizing, and has gone to many meditation retreats, Landmark Forum, and communities of personal transformation while working with us this year. Garrett has inspired us to take our program of spiritual and personal transformation seriously. 

Paul Engler, after Covid in 2021 put a damper on the traveling, consulting, and training that he would normally do, this year has returned to a busy travel schedule. His work over the last 12 months has included two separate strategy retreats in Boston with Ayni Institute and his work partner Carlos Saavedra, a writing retreat with his brother Mark, two trainings with a group of primarily people of color Christian evangelicals called Surge, in Phoenix, two trips to New York City to visit friends and family, where he stayed with his good friend Eric Stoner, a co-founder and editor of Waging Nonviolence, a trip to Spain for the Spanish book launch of This is An Uprising, and one week on the Camino de Santiago with his older brother Francis and his younger cousin Nathan Kiker, a long week reconnecting with friends and family in the Oakland area, and a week at a Trappist monastery in South Carolina with his New Monastic group. In short,  this year Paul has been able to reconnect to many of the communities throughout the U.S. that have been a great source of nourishment for him.

Sally Taylor, the most recent addition to our community, came to us from Chicago having been the hub leader for Sunrise Movement there. When she got here she instantly picked up a job being a leader with UNITE HERE Local 11’s political campaign, running a canvass team and later becoming a worker organizer at LAX airport. She has since left that position and is taking some time to recuperate and discern next steps. She brings a wonderful, loving energy to the house.

Danielle Raskin is still working at Yeastie Boys bagel truck and eagerly recruiting people in large groups to go to the Korean spa and soak in our backyard inflatable hot tub. Danielle still cultivates a large network of friends who live close to the house, from both her student activist days at Occidental College and IfNotNow. She’s still a leader among her friends, and plans many activities, including recruiting people to go to the picket line to support her friend Abhilasha who has been out on strike as a grad student at UCLA for the past month. 

Judy and Brandon have been coming by on occasion to participate in our house meal plan, and they make a mean homemade mac and cheese. Brandon’s been expanding his career as an artist and making art independent from his job as Shop Coordinator at an architecture university. Judy Esber has been working diligently to help women, especially women of color, to achieve financial freedom through one-on-one advisement and community-building around personal finance. Judy has been very invested in the lives of her family who she grew up with in Los Angeles. When not working or with their family they love camping with friends in the many beautiful mountains and deserts outside of Los Angeles. 

Finally, I am grateful to report that it seems that we actually like each other! And we share a deep desire to have some collective activities together, which recently included bowling at Shatto Lanes and a great ongoing debate as to which Netflix show we should watch together, which has recently shifted from Naked and Afraid to White Lotus. And all of this has been done with very busy and conflicting schedules, while providing hospitality to a stream of guests throughout the year.

From all of us here at the Center for the Working Poor, we wish you a Happy New Year. May your year be full of the gifts of community and connection, delicious meals, prophetic callings, and hopefully plenty of time in an inflatable hot tub.

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