House Journal 2017
It is amazing that the Trump election and inauguration was over a year ago. The Center for the Working poor (aka the Center), has been dramatically affected by these cycles of Trump and the protest movement. In the weeks after the Trump election, it felt like the living room was always filled with people watching political films, support groups of the brokenhearted, and of course our Centering Prayer meeting which was filled to the brim with people for months. Many of us were showing up to what seemed like weekly protests.
Paul Engler, although he had planned on spending more time at home after his year of frantic travel after the launch of his first book—This is an Uprising, instead, started traveling all over, responding to the new political crisis (such as coaching groups and going to conferences). Sara Kurtz increased the social activities associated with our Centering Prayer group. Alex also was responding in his own way, through his work at NationBuilder– supporting activist groups in their online tactics. Judy, whom lives in the satellite apartment and works as a union organizer, was working crazy hours preparing for the possible attack on labor rights from the new Trump administration.
We were blessed with the arrival of Valentine. Our beloved, former intern Mimi whom has been living in Berlin, Germany, recommended this guy who was coming to the US for 4 months to do research for his masters on Urban Planning. After interviewing him, we learned he was a union-organizing anarchist in Berlin that had formed an intentional community of his own. We thought he would fit right in. Soon he moved in, and we fell in love with him very quickly, as he made wonderful meals, planned social nights of hanging out, went to raves with Alex, and sat in Centering Prayer meetings to connect with people even though he considers himself a secular leftist. Paul and Valentine would have affectionate arguments about what was the ideal utopian society after the revolution, and try to win over the rest of the house to the different visions. Sara K. said he is just an overall wonderful easygoing housemate.
We were also blessed with Ben Mantle, who stayed with us for a month while he was working as a legal assistant for the union of hotel and restaurant workers—working to help win a living wage and better condition for low-wage workers.
Finally we have a more permanent housemate, Sara Semborski. She comes from Philadelphia, and went to a wonderful progressive church, with Judy and Brandon, called Circle of Hope. Sara S. (or Sembo) is working on getting her PhD in Social Work at the University of Southern California. She has jumped into our pattern, of communal meals, house meetings, chores, centering prayer, and our favorite board game nights of King of Tokyo.
After some of the momentum from the resistance to Trump settled down, we have all been adjusting to getting back to more regular life. Sara K. has been working hard getting her inpatient rehab started for formerly incarcerated and low income people. It is hard to explain the level of hard work and stress that has been put into getting certified from the state Department of Mental Health and then getting a program up and started as part of her agency.
Brandon Youndt lives in the satellite apartment with Judy. He is both uncontestedly the most handy and the most design capable within our community. He uses what seems like his super powers to fix little things, fix up the paint job at the house, make little things for us with his magical machine that does 3D cutting of wooden products at his job supporting students at the architecture school. He is in deep a discernment process about how to use his design superpowers to help the movement to halt climate change, and the destruction of the environment.
This summer we were joined by Danielle Raskin, who is a fellow for the Center and works with Paul. She has been the coordinator for the program called Get Empathy, (which the Center and Paul created 5 years ago with the Relational Center), which is our program for youth leadership, and empowerment by teaching high schoolers community organizing and social and emotional learning. Danielle has also been working on distributing our new book called the Resistance Guide, which is to support all the new groups that are asking for advice as to what to do next to resist Trump. She just graduated from Occidental, and has worked on many projects at the Center, since she was a high school activist in New York over 5 years ago. She was one of the first activists of 99Rise, a project that was started by the Center and others.
Danielle is known throughout the Center for winning on many of the secret competition on the chore charts, and cleaning out the dishwasher, and other chores much more than most in the house. She is also a mean King of Tokyo player, and has been nourishing support for all the activities of the Center.
December 15th, 2021
There is a big debate among economists about a curious phenomenon unfolding right now called “The Great Resignation”. We have an immense labor shortage because people are not returning to work as the experts expected (common after a recession). There … Continue reading
December 15th, 2021
This fall, in one of my first trips to visit my coworkers from the Ayni Institute in Boston, I stopped by New York City to visit one of my closest friends, Eric Stoner. And I was sitting on his couch, … Continue reading
December 15th, 2021
The Center for the Working Poor was founded in 2006, but we didn’t move into our large Victorian house until 2007. Therefore, we have been in the house for 14 years now; and throughout this time, only Paul Engler has … Continue reading
December 15th, 2021
Over the last year, we have started beta groups for a new model of mutual aid counseling, called Community Counseling that has engaged dozens in weekly small group counseling practice and training. In November, I went to Boston to lead … Continue reading
December 17th, 2020
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die …” — Ecclesiastes 3:1 “Surrender to what is dying, and become attentive to what is emerging.” — … Continue reading
December 27th, 2019
After being invited to Barcelona, Spain this fall for a chaotic tour of book talks, TV appearances, and radio interviews, I needed a place to recover from all the activity. And one of the greatest realizations of my life has … Continue reading
December 24th, 2018
As many of you know, I am a social justice geek. I compulsively read and think about social movements, and have been doing this for a long time, and am now considered a specialist in the field commonly referred to … Continue reading
January 18th, 2018
The election of Trump was like somebody threw a political bomb into the middle of a crowded room. For undocumented people, it meant fear of losing DACA and being deported. For labor unions and the working poor, it meant losing … Continue reading