House Journal 2017

January 22nd, 2018

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.

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