Hope Spills Into 2015

RichmondThose who have never despaired have neither lived nor loved. Hope is inseparable from despair. Those of us who truly hope make despair a constant companion whom we out-wrestle every day owing to our commitment to justice, love, and hope.
Cornel West

From Laurel Dykstra in Vancouver:

In March the Interfaith Institute for Justice Peace and Social Movements, a small collective of anti-racist people of faith, in Vancouver BC, launched Anishinaabe filmmaker Lisa Jackson’s short film Hidden Legacies. The film tells about the resistance and resilience of young adults who are the children and grandchildren of Indian Residential School survivors. The event included a territorial welcome, prayers, tears, hip-hop, cello, and hard questions from children. In collaboration with First Nations teachers, the film is being prepared for use in high schools. In the fall the film was premiered in Surrey, BC with a mostly South Asian audience and panel who drew connections between very different colonial legacies.

A Dispatch from Todd Wynward in New Mexico:

Out where we live in Taos, we’ve acquired a sprawling 1930’s hand-crafted adobe hacienda that needs a little love, and we expect to be refinishing it and re-inhabiting it for the next many years. Local earth, timber, stone, patience, sweat and skill invested decades ago now are in our care, entrusted to make this old house an amazing home for today. Lots more to do, but this fall garlic’s been planted, floors have been sanded, walls have been plastered, fireplaces have been tended. Here’s to a new year, in which we all can root in to a place, learn from it, and know it as home. Blessings!

And from Rebecca Solnit’s recent piece:

Mayor Gayle McLaughin and her cohorts organized a little revolution (see photo above: Richmond, CA) in a town that had mostly been famous for its crime rate and for Chevron’s toxic refinery emissions, which periodically create emergencies, sometimes requiring everyone to take shelter (and pretend that they are not being poisoned indoors), sometimes said — by Chevron — to be harmless, as with last Thursday’s flames that lit up the sky, visible as far away as Oakland.

As McLaughin put it of her era as mayor:

“We’ve accomplished so much, including breathing better air, reducing the pollution, and building a cleaner environment and cleaner jobs, and reducing our crime rate. Our homicide number is the lowest in 33 years and we became a leading city in the Bay Area for solar installed per capita. We’re a sanctuary city. And we’re defending our homeowners to prevent foreclosures and evictions. And we also got Chevron to pay $114 million extra dollars in taxes.”

For this November’s election, the second-largest oil company on Earth officially spent $3.1 million to defeat McLaughin and other progressive candidates and install a mayor and council more to its liking. That sum worked out to about $180 per Richmond voter, but my brother David, who’s long been connected to Richmond politics, points out that, if you look at all the other ways the company spends to influence local politics, it might be roughly ten times that.

Nonetheless, Chevron lost. None of its candidates were elected and all the grassroots progressives it fought with billboards, mailers, television ads, websites, and everything else a lavishly funded smear campaign can come up with, won.

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